Tattward & Inkella One-Shot Contest

Title: My Yellow Brick Road

Your pen name: HammondGirl

Characters: Edward/Bella

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight. Or Edward – Or Robert – Damn it.

To see other entries in the Tattward & Inkella Contest, please visit the C2 page:
www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/community/Tattward_and_Inkella_Contest/71624/

EPOV

Facing the large planes of glass that lined the entrance of the shop, I sat alone on a stool at the front counter, looking through my portfolio with my right hand and pulling my lower lip away from my face with my left. My elbow rested on the cool Formica countertop as I ran my thumb along the skin just below my mouth and twisted my lip with the knuckle of my pointer finger.

"Why do you do that?" Jasper asked, breaking me from my stupor as he came through the dark green curtain that led to his private office. Six months ago, he'd walked through that very curtain to find me and my portfolio loitering in the entrance of his parlor, Perspectives, checking out the pictures of his work that hung in the glass cases adorning the walls.

I'd moved to Seattle a year and a half ago to attend Washington University full-time after I'd finished my basics at the small extension campus in Port Angeles. My mother was thrilled that I'd been accepted into the University's prestigious art program, but I was unsure of what my father's reaction would be.

At that time in my life, I was positive that he wanted me to follow in his footsteps and pursue a career in medicine, but after I told him my plans, he surprised me by saying that he was happy that I was going to my own way. His reaction blew me away at the time, but then again, my parents were constantly saying and doing the unexpected.

For their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary last February, Carlisle surprised my mom with a trip to the city of Coronado, California, located just across the San Diego Bay. He'd booked a week long stay at the famed Hotel Del Coronado, one of the few surviving examples of the wooden Victorian beach resort.

Esme had been beyond thrilled; my mother absolutely loved everything about the Victorian period, especially its architecture. Though I was excited for their trip and knew they'd have an excellent time, I couldn't help but be jealous about it as well. I'd always wanted to visit the renowned resort rumored to be the inspiration for L. Frank Baum's Emerald City. After all, he had stayed there while writing most of his novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

On the evening of their anniversary, Esme talked my father into chartering a small luxury airplane tour of the area. They took off late in the afternoon and flew up along the California coastline, heading north. As the plane circled round to begin its return journey to San Diego, the crisp February air became frigid as the sun disappeared below the horizon.

I was never fully informed of certain details, but according to the one and only report that I was allowed to look at, the sudden drop in temperature caused ice to build up along the wings of the aircraft, causing the plane to stall out mid-flight.

So there I was, mid-semester of my junior year of college – still a kid in so many ways – suddenly landed with the responsibility of caring for my sixteen-year-old brother, Emmett. After I received the benefits of my parent's life insurance policies and paid for their burial, I took a long, hard look at our financial situation. Though I was able to attend college due to my father's income, I realized that if I had any chance of sending Emmett to college in a few years, I could no longer attend.

There was simply no way that I could pay for food, rent, and both of our tuition, so I did what I had to do. I felt lost as I withdrew from the classes I'd grown to love, but I knew that I needed to look for a job – any job. I applied at most of the local bookstores, and even looked for work at the University, hoping that I could somehow get a discount on Emmett's tuition after working there for a few years.

While waiting to hear back from one of the placed I'd applied to, I sat around my apartment and sketched. When I hadn't heard from any prospective employers a week later, I begrudgingly typed up a basic resume, tucking a few copies away in the folder of my sketchbook, and headed out for round two of filling out application after application, knowing that I had to pay the bills one way or another.

I was just about to enter a small copy shop on the west end of campus when the neon sign that hung above a tattoo parlor next door flickered and caught my attention, so I walked in. I'd never really thought about getting a tattoo, and had never willingly showed any of my sketches to anyone besides my college professors, but when Jasper came through his green curtain and walked up to the counter, I was immediately at ease with him.

As I showed him my sketch and described the different aspects of my overall design, I realized that I'd worked on the piece to honor my parents and knew that I needed to have it etched into my skin. We began working on the initial outline that very night, though it took several sessions and a chunk of cash that I shouldn't have spent to finish.

Jasper and I talked during the time he spent working on my piece, and he quickly became of my closest friends. I told him all about my fears of working a dead-end job and giving up all that I loved just to make sure that Emmett had a chance to be somebody one day, and he told me all about the sacrifices he'd been forced to make while opening his shop.

During our last session, as Jasper worked on the smallest part of the design that was visible just above my shirt collar on the ride sight of my neck, just below my ear, he told me that I didn't have to give up on my dreams altogether and offered to take me on as his apprentice. I couldn't refuse. I got to draw all day, live in the city I loved, and was able to put food on the table for Emmett – which was no easy feat. The boy could shovel it in.

The sound of Jasper flipping through a magazine brought me back to the present, where I was still fingering the two cones that lay on the inside of my lip. I released my hold on them and sucked my lower lip into my mouth. Running my tongue over the two rings on the outside, I looked over at Jasper, who was standing a few feet away from me holding the latest issue of TATTOO. "Do what?" I asked.

"Tug on your snakebites like that. Do you want to stretch them?" he asked, placing his magazine down on the end of the counter. "You could move up to a sixteen gauge tonight – easy."

I laughed and said, "Nah – it's just one of those things that I do, man. I don't know," I said, shrugging. "Guess I have what you could call an oral fixation. Speaking of which – mind if I take a smoke break?"

Jasper smirked and I looked out of the large plate glass window facing campus. "Go ahead. Looks like a ghost town out there," he said.

I followed his gaze and looked out onto Hickory Street. "Yeah, but it's only eight-fifteen," I said, rising from my stool and fishing my smokes out of my jeans pocket. "So you want anything from the Kharma?"

He shook his head as I walked past him and out into the night, turning right and looking across the intersection toward Fry Street, which was settled just across from the west corner of campus.

When I'd first moved to Seattle, I thought Fry Street was a fucking joke. The local pizza joint, The Flying Tomato, was on the north end and the small building on its left housed the infamous sports bar Nice Rack. It was the typical rowdy, packed billiards hall, where the décor was simple: Beer ads were tacked to the wall every two feet or so and life-sized models holding lassos and six-packs stand up at every available space. To put it simply, it was the type of place were skimpily-clad pole dancers in hot-pants wriggled along the bar in knee-high boots; the type of place that put stars in the eyes of Emmett and his high school buddies.

The Kharma Café rounded out the row on the south end. I was mildly surprised that the dozen or so corporate coffee houses strategically placed around each and every entrance to the University hadn't forced the Kharma out of business, but the first time I'd set foot into the Café, I'd immediately understood why. The Kharma was always full, even on a lowly Wednesday night. They probably pulled in as much bank as any major coffee chain across the nation and didn't lose any of their profits by wasting them on merchandising, fancy machines, and one too many employees.

No, the Kharma was definitely not your typical coffee house. They held weekly live poetry readings and incense burned from pewter holders placed every few feet along the darkly painted, nicotine-stained walls. Though the ceilings were tall, they, too, were painted in dark hues of green, navy, and onyx. What set the space apart was the fact that the Kharma was mostly dingy. It gave off the appearance of your best friend's loft – the one everyone came to in hopes of just chilling out in.

The best part was that it was one of the few establishments in town that you could still enjoy a fucking smoke in. The motto written across the top of their chalkboard menu said it all: Kharma – Perfect for the dreary smoker in your life.

A black stage littered with dusty white footprints rose off of the floor four feet along the right wall toward the entrance. Kharma's poets had a long standing tradition of sitting on its lone stool and kicking off their flip-flops. The floor simply accumulated a collection of footprints of all of the greats who had been there before.

The whole place served as one giant muse to me. My eyes were constantly being drawn from one object to another – first to their antique cash register, then bouncing from the miss-matched furniture consisting of stools, lacquered coffee tables that were grouped together though they were different heights, and soft ottomans that were haphazardly strewn about.

Art adorned the dark, dirty walls, and I often found myself transfixed by the new piece that was placed in the back right corner every week. A lonely, scrubbed wood table sat in that corner, and it was a common occurrence for me to sit and stare at it for hours. I'd spent many an evening getting so inspired by looking at the paintings that hung there, that I'd draw and doodle on several recycled brown paper napkins until I had twenty or so strewn about my table.

One lonely Monday night about three months ago, Fry Street was completely empty. Most of the students at Washington University would wake up Monday morning to drag their asses to their eight o'clock classes and go to bed immediately afterward, only re-emerging to party once again on Tuesday.

Though I was off that particular Monday, I relished in the fact that the Kharma Café would be quiet, so I ordered my usual double espresso and took my steaming porcelain cup over to my table to admire the newest painting that hung inside of the glass case in my corner.

I was sitting there studying it for a while when Bella Swan came over to ask for a light. She'd been a barista at the Kharma for a while and I'd ordered from her a few times, but we'd never really spoken before that night. She sat with me during her break and watched my expressions as I studied the exceptional painting.

A red field took up the bottom fourth of the canvas, and a village made of glass in shades of white and blue sat above it. Off to the right side of the glass city sat a pair of black rimmed spectacles perched along the field. When you looked through the lenses, you saw that they tinted the glass city an unusual shade of green.

After letting me take in the different colors and textures of the painting, she asked me for my opinion. I told my interpretation of the piece and she responded by saying, "Hmm, I never thought about it that way." I smiled at her, and as she rose from her seat she said, "My professor thought it was crap, so thanks for that," before walking back to the counter.

I found out later that half of the art adorning the walls of the Kharma was hers, including all of my favorite pieces. After that night, every time I sat at my table Bella would take her break and we'd talk about art and just fucking hang out. I told her all about Emmett, and how I was nervous he would go along with whatever his friends told him to do, though I went through the same kind of shit when I was sixteen years old. I rambled on and on to her, about how I'd sat him down and told him that he didn't have to conform, that it wasn't important to be accepted.

"Why do we feel that we need to be accepted anyways?" she asked me one night. She went on to tell me that she completely understood what I was getting at, because she used to want to "rebel" against her police chief father, only to realize that she was acting like her mom – who had divorced her hum-drum dad to marry a young jock – by doing so.

I learned something new about Bella each time we spoke. It became a regular thing between us, and I starting coming over to the Kharma about five or six times a week in the early evening, around eight twenty-five or so each time. On her days off, she would usually stop by Perspectives to peruse through the designs on display behind our own glass cases. We never exchanged numbers, because there was no real need to. It was like we had a set appointment every evening to talk about our day and our art.

I'd been off yesterday, and had been lounging around the apartment with Emmett watching old episodes of Robot Chicken, but around eight o'clock, I found myself craving caffeine. I figured, hey, it's Tuesday – I deserve a shot of espresso, right? I stood up and stretched, telling Em that I'd be back after a bit. When I got to the Café at around eight-twenty, I found the lights turned off and the front door locked. Disappointed, I turned around and walked the three blocks back to my apartment.

Tonight, as I looked across the intersection of Hickory and Fry, the warm glow coming through the windows of the Café on the south end of the street was a most welcoming sight. I knew they'd have to be open tonight – it was Wednesday, which meant that the Kharma would be packed because of the weekly poetry reading.

Looking at the dark wood-paneled exterior of the Kharma, lit up by the soft light pouring out from its lone window, I pictured Bella in my mind, sweeping her long bangs off of her forehead as she pulled a shot of espresso or steamed milk for someone's latte. I stepped up onto the sidewalk, and as I walked the length of it down toward Kharma, my phone buzzed in my pocket.

I pulled it out to see Jasper's name flash across the screen, so I turned toward Perspectives and saw him through the brightly lit windows behind me. A woman with a shock of familiar red hair stood just in front of the counter, and as Jasper caught sight of me, he waved me over and I walked back toward the shop.

As I walked back through the wooden green door, Victoria turned to face me. "Hey, Edward," she said as I approached her. "I was hoping you could work on my design for me tonight. I finally decided on what I want."

"Sure thing," I said, rounding the corner of the counter. "So what did you decide on?"

"Well, as you know, I want a fairy, but instead of focusing on her face, I want the design to focus more on her wings. I want her to have a tiny body, maybe three or four inches tall, but I want her wings to be just as large as she is. I think I want a sun somehow incorporated into the tattoo also. Do you think you can do that?" she asked leaning over the counter.

"Yeah, no problem. Let me sketch something up for you, and you tell me if I'm off base, alright?" I said, pulling my stool up behind me and sitting down.

Victoria smiled and walked over to look through a few photo albums that littered the left end of the counter, letting me work undisturbed. I truly hated it when customers hovered over my shoulder to watch me work. Though I knew that people were only curious as to what it was that I was drawing for them, it still irked me to be watched.

I ripped out a blank sheet from the wire bound sketchbook that I kept underneath the workspace of the counter, and began with the basic shape of the fairy's profile. I made her stand around four inches in height, and as I my pencil glided along the textured paper, I found myself giving Victoria's fairy a full, pouty mouth, and swept long, dark bangs over her right eye. A few strategically placed leaves covered her body, and a vine wound down her left leg to wrap around her dainty ankle.

After I finished with the smaller details of the main body of the piece, I extended the fairy's two wings above her head, fanning them out so that both were visible, though she stood with her profile. On the wing closest to me, I opted for a celestial sun, shading in a set of puffy cheeks and wide doe-eyes then drew a crescent moon peeking out over a cloud just below her. Once I added in the moon's eye and small smile to his profile, I added color to my finished sketch, using a deep indigo for the background of the fairy's wings. I used various shades of oranges, yellows, and reds for the fiery sun, and after I shaded in the moon with a pale blue, I outlined the few sparse clouds with a golden tint.

"Want to take a look?" I called out, and Victoria let the page of the album she was thumbing through fall as she walked over to where I'd put her finished piece up on the counter.

As she walked over and stood in front of me, I watched as she looked at my work for the first time. Her eyes lit up, and as she looked back up at me, a wide smile broke out on her lips. "When can we get started?" she asked, the excitement evident in her voice.

"A piece like that will probably take a good two-and-a-half, three hours to complete, so how about I pencil you in for tomorrow around six-thirty? That is, if you want me to do your ink. Jasper could take you tomorrow at the same time, if you'd prefer," I said, twirling my pencil around in my right hand.

"Oh, well since you drew it and all, I'd like you to, if you don't mind," she began. "But, uh, my friend Alice really wants to come in and talk about getting a piercing – the one that goes right here," she said, pointing to the space between her nose and lips, off to one side.

"Your friend wants a Monroe, huh?" I asked with a smile.

"A Monroe?" she questioned.

"Yeah, it's like her beauty mark," and Victoria laughed. "I'll have to direct her to this man over here," I said, pointing to where Jasper was sitting at a small work desk off to my left. "He's the real, umm, penetration specialist around here."

She smirked over at Jasper, who simply shrugged, then turned her attention back to me and asked, "Six-thirty tomorrow?"

I brought up our appointment book and sat it down on the counter, where she watched me pencil her in. "See you tomorrow then, and bring your friend by, too. Jasper won't bite… much."

He laughed behind me, and Victoria joined in for a moment. When she left a few minutes later, I looked up at the clock to find that nearly an hour had passed from the time I left to talk to Bella. I'd most definitely missed her break tonight, and as I looked down at my appointment book, I realized that I'd miss our time together tomorrow night as well.

I sucked my bottom lip into my mouth again, and as I ran my tongue over the cold metal there I told myself that it didn't matter. Just because I didn't see her yesterday or tonight was no big deal. I'd be busy tomorrow night no matter what, simply because it was Thursday.

I learned a while ago that it was dollar pint night at Nice Rack every Thursday. It never ceased to amaze me when someone would come in mind-numbingly drunk, deciding that they needed a tattoo to commemorate the occasion. It gave me a sick sort of satisfaction to point to the sign that hung by the door. In the biggest font available, it said one word: NO.

While I looked down at the papers strewn around the appointment book, the tattered edges of my sketchbook caught my eye from where it sat on the lowest shelf. I picked it up from its corner, and as I lifted it up to place it on the counter in front of me, a brown paper napkin fell to the ground.

I reached down to retrieve it, and as I turned the napkin over, I couldn't help but smile when I saw what was drawn there. My crude rendering of the exquisite detail Bella had given her glass city was pitiful, but as I'd studied it all those months ago, I'd been inspired to draw it. The night after I'd first met her, I found myself sketching on this very napkin when she slid into the seat next to me.

"No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful," she said quietly from my right. I looked up at her with a smile as I recognized the quote, but froze in my seat as she tentatively reached toward me to touch one of the rings hugging my lower lip.

She withdrew her hand quickly after gliding her fingertip across the cold metal that lie there, and as she turned to look at her painting, I followed her gaze for a moment, licking the place she'd touched while she wasn't paying attention. I noticed a small blue dot in the middle of the field of red in her painting before returning my gaze to Bella's as she spoke.

"In the first book, the walls are green, but the city itself isn't. Did you know that?" she asked without looking over for me or waiting for my answer.

I focused on her lips as she continued, "Emerald City was bright, so when you entered, the Guardian of the Gates gave you a pair of green spectacles to protect your eyes from its glory."

She turned toward me and asked, "Are you a big fan of Baum's work?" I watched as her small hand once again reached toward me, and as she pulled down the right side of my shirt collar, I turned my head a bit so that she could see better.

"Why do you hide this?" she asked meekly, releasing her hold on my shirt. I turned back toward her and explained that I didn't necessarily try to hide the work on my skin – after all, a bit of it usually peeked up above my collar on most days.

She laughed as I told her this, and I realized that I was unconsciously pulling my shirt up a bit on the right side. "So do you have any tattoos?" I asked, trying to change the subject. The blush rising through her cheeks piqued my interest, and as she muttered something about her break being over and grabbed the empty white cup that sat before me, I laughed.

I realized that I'd never asked her about it again, though I knew for sure that she had ink – somewhere. I'll definitely have to ask her about that the next time I see her, I thought as I placed the napkin back in my sketchbook.

"Hey, it's pretty dead tonight, so why don't you head on out. Looks like we've both got a full schedule tomorrow," Jasper said behind me. I looked up at the clock and was surprised to find that it was already ten o'clock.

I grabbed my coat from underneath the counter and shrugged it on. Jasper and I walked out together and after he locked up, we parted ways. I turned left onto South Fry and took a right on Avenue B a block later. As I pulled a cigarette out of my pocket and brought the lighter up to my lips, I thought about Bella's art. Her sketches were filled with such fine detail that I could study them over and over and still find something new to look at each time I saw them.

As I turned the corner and my building came into view, I took my last drag and threw the butt down by the curb. "It's wrong to litter, you know," a familiar voice called out. I looked up to find Bella leaning against the wall next to the stairwell that led up to my apartment.

"Hey stranger," she said when I didn't respond to her initial opener.

"Uh, hey yourself," I responded as I watched her bring a cigarette up to her lips. "Funny choice of words, you know. Where were you last night?" I asked before I could stop myself.

The cherry of her cigarette lit up as she inhaled. She blew out the smoke, and as her tongue darted out to moisten her dry lips, I caught a hint of silver. "Oh yeah. Well, I show up last night to work, right, and Angela tells me that she wants to catch some indie movie at the Sunshine Cinema, so she closed up early," she said as I stepped up on the curb. "Wait a second, I thought yesterday was your day off," she said, cocking her head to the right.

"It's been cold," I said, pulling the lapel of my jacket up toward my face. "I wanted to sit somewhere nice and drink something warm. Is that a crime?" I asked, smiling over at her.

She rolled her eyes before taking another drag. "It is most definitely getting cold," she said as she shivered.

"Well, you don't have a coat on, Bella," I teased.

"I was only gonna smoke half of it," she said as she buried the butt of her cigarette into the sand ashtray on top of a large trash can. "My roommate doesn't let me smoke inside. I usually just go out on our patio, but her boyfriend is over and he brought his dog with him tonight. He follows me around the apartment, so I lied and said that I'd left my smokes inside of my truck," she said, pointing out toward the parking lot where I spotted an old, red clunker.

"I only thought I was gonna be out here for a minute or two," she continued as I turned back to face her. "And besides, you don't look too warm yourself," she finished with a smirk, looking down at the large hole in my blue jeans.

"What? This?" I asked pointing down to my left knee. "I'm from northern Washington. It isn't even that cold, and it's not even wet yet," I said as I looked back up at her face, finding a deep pink blush staining her cheeks. I couldn't help but think how pretty the color looked against her pale skin.

She looked down, avoiding my curious gaze, and pulled a sleek, black cigarette case from her back pocket. "Cigarette?" she asked, peeking back up at me.

She shivered involuntarily as a cold blast of wind whipped through the stairwell we were standing in front of, and I looked up to see my door. "I live just upstairs," I said. "Want to come up for your smoke?"

She nodded and a small smile settled on her lips, so I pointed up as I walked past her and started to climb the stairs. About halfway up, I turned my head around to find her following me. She looked down at her feet with each step, and her hand was tightly curled around the wrought iron railing. At the top, I unlocked and opened my door but stood outside to wait for her to join me.

"Is Emmett here?" she asked as she stepped inside and I closed the door behind me.

"Nah, he's staying with a buddy tonight whose mom cooks better than I do," I said with a nervous smile as I pointed to the small kitchen on our right.

She turned and looked through the small cutout in the wall, and I peered over her shoulder. Empty pizza boxes, takeout wrappers, and soda cans littered the surface of the countertop. "Uh, the sofa is this way," I said as a distraction, walking past her to lead her into the living room.

I plopped down on the right end and shrugged out of my jacket, laying it across the armrest on my side. When she sat next to me, I looked down at the coffee table in front of me where I spotted an empty ashtray. As I pushed it toward her, I had to move a few scattered photographs out of the way.

"Thanks," she said, placing her black cigarette case down next to the ashtray. She leaned over and picked up a picture, and as I looked down at the glossy paper, I realized that it was a photo of my tattoo.

"This is you," she said quietly.

"Yes, it's me," I replied just as soft.

"It's so beautiful," she said, tearing her eyes away from the photo to look up into mine for a moment. As she looked back down at the picture, I ran my tongue over my bottom lip and watched as she traced the cyclone funnel covering the left side of my back. Her fingers lightly touched the beginning of the wide brick road that began at my lower back where two tall light posts lined either side.

She followed its path up along the photograph, where it lined the right side of my back. As she traced the spiral of jagged bricks arranged on my shoulder blade in the picture, she said, "You people with hearts have something to guide you, and need never do wrong."

It was the second time she had quoted Baum to me, and as I looked over at her face, she turned toward me while placing the photograph back down on the coffee table. We locked eyes, and as she whispered, "Edward," I found myself inching toward her on the couch.

She moved toward me as well, and I watched as if in slow motion as her eyes fluttered shut when my mouth greedily pressed against hers. I parted my lips, and when she did the same, I felt her tongue sweep along the two metal cones inside of my mouth. I pushed it back inside of her mouth with my own, and felt the warm metal of the barbell on her tongue, finding the source of silver I'd caught sight of earlier.

The sweet smell of her skin assaulted my senses as I laid kiss after kiss against her perfect mouth, and when she forced her tongue back into my mouth, I reached out for her waist. As I deepened our kiss, I felt her hands come to rest upon mine, where she slowly drew my t-shirt up my sides. I pulled back and looked down at her wide eyes.

When she quietly asked me to show her my ink, I couldn't refuse her, so I grabbed hold of the bottom hem of my shirt and pulled it up, crossing my arms above my head, to take it off. She was still looking at me with pleading eyes, so I slowly turned in my seat until I faced away from her. I heard her gasp as she took in the whole scene, and felt my muscles involuntarily contract as her cold fingertips touched my exposed tattoo for the first time.

As her hands ghosted over my skin, she asked, "Why aren't there pictures of this posted at Perspectives?"

I closed my eyes as I answered. "It's not something I'm really ready to share with people. Emmett hasn't even seen the pictures lying out on the table."

"Why are you letting me see it, then?" she asked, as she ran her hands over the ink etched into my skin. I held my breath as she touched where the bricks spiraled on my right shoulder blade.

"Because I wanted you to see it," I replied quietly.

Her lithe fingers lightly traced the pattern of the coiled road as she said, "It's so intricate, so beautiful…" As I felt her hands ghost up over my neck where the bricks broke apart, she whispered, "Yet it's out of control here, going in every direction."

I opened my eyes and stood, and when I turned to face her, I offered my hand to her. She placed her small hand within my own and I pulled her up off of the couch. As she stood in front of me quietly, I thought about how I'd wanted to open up and show her my tattoo all this time, and how when I finally did, she understood its significance immediately. I looked down at her, taking in how her small pink lips were parted as she drew in each shaky breath.

"You are beautiful," I whispered as I brought my lips down to hers.

We traded light kisses again, but soon I craved more. My hands found her small waist, and I pulled her toward me. When her body was flush with my own, I slipped my tongue between her parted lips, finding myself not able to get enough of her. As I continued to kiss her, I snaked my hands around her back and up underneath her shirt, needing to feel her skin against my own.

Bella broke our kiss as my splayed palm moved up her back, and looked up into my eyes. She took one step back and suddenly turned around, pulling her shirt slowly up over her head, revealing to me her back, and the straps of her white cotton bra. As she undid the clasp, she turned her head to face me.

She bit her lower lip as the material slipped away from her body, baring the two small green pennies stamped into her skin. I took one step forward, and she watched as I hesitantly reached out and touched her naked skin. "That's… that's mine," I said, looking up into her eyes. The small rendering of the two coins were one of the first designs I'd put under Jasper's glass case when I became his apprentice.

She nodded, so I asked, "But when…?"

She cut me off as she said, "I got it done right after I met you, actually," turning to face me. She bit her lip as she said, "I came by the shop to talk to you one afternoon, but you weren't there. So, I started looking through some of the designs and this one immediately caught my eye."

She stepped closer to me, pressing her left palm into my cheek. "I knew it had to be your design."

As I looked down into her eyes, in awe of how calm and composed she was, her gaze cut right through me. "Edward," she said quietly, "let's go to your room."

She threaded her fingers through my left hand, and I led her quietly from the living room to the small hallway off to the left. When we stopped in front of my room, I opened my door and reached for the light switch, but she placed her hand on top of mine to stop me.

I turned to watch as she closed my door behind her, and as she moved toward me, I held my breath. She placed her tiny hands on my bare chest and pushed me gently backward until my legs hit the bed frame behind me. I stood there, looking down at her, and as she gave me a nervous smile, she pushed harder until I sat down on the bed.

Bella climbed onto my lap and pushed on my chest once more until I was lying back beneath her, my legs dangling off of the bed. When she leaned down to kiss me, her scent overwhelmed my senses again, and as she brought my hands to rest on her waist, a rough, husky moan left my throat.

I encircled her waist with my arms, pulling her body closer to mine and crushing her breasts to my chest. As I probed her mouth with my tongue, her small hands snaked between us to fumble with the button of my jeans. I kicked off my boots and socks once my button popped open, and she sat up as she lowered my zipper. I rose with her, steadying her small form with my hands as she reached down to undo her own jeans.

She stood, and I watched as she leaned down to push me back until I laid down again. She pulled down my jeans, picking up one leg after the other until the fabric was freed from my body, and my legs once again draped over the edge of the bed. She rose, and as I propped myself up on my elbows to gaze at her, she pulled her jeans down, letting them pool at her feet.

She stood before me in a pair of white eyelet cotton panties, running her fingertips along the waistband while staring down at me. On instinct, I ran my tongue over my bottom lip and the cold metal that lie there, and watched in wonder as she shrugged out of the seemingly innocent underwear, letting them fall to floor.

We remained silent as she looked down at my boxer briefs, and I sucked in a deep breath as she leaned down once more and slid them down my legs in the same manner she'd pulled the heavy denim of my jeans off. After they joined her clothes on the floor, Bella crawled up my body, straddling me.

She leaned down to kiss me, inadvertently rubbing her heat up and down my length. I hissed in pleasure at her unexpected touch, and when she drew my earlobe into her mouth and gently rolled the sensitive flesh between her teeth, my hips bucked up into hers and I could no longer contain my moan.

A strangled cry left her lips. "Please," she whispered into my ear.

I turned my head, looking into her bewitching eyes. "I want you," I said, surprised to find my voice so weak. "I want you so much."

She sank down onto me suddenly, her warmth setting fire to my entire body. I buried my face in her neck, and my lips trembled against her skin as she began to move above me. I clung desperately to her body, holding her close as she took me into herself over and over again.

Bella brought her hands up underneath my arms, crushing her chest to mine and clutching at me as she slowed her movements, finding it difficult to keep pushing down against me at her new angle. I thrust my hips up to meet her willing body, and as her fingertips swept across my ink, I felt as though I was feeling my own skin for the first time.

I was drowning in her warmth, filling her with everything I had to offer. I'd lost myself in her, and was left breathless as she suddenly clenched around me, throwing her head back in pleasure. I could feel her tight cunt quivering around my cock, but her body went completely limp as she came with everything in her being, so I scooped her up, easily flipping us so that she lay beneath me.

Her legs parted, and as I pushed into her welcoming heat, consuming her body with my own, Bella's eyes rolled back into her head and an erotic moan passed through her swollen, pink lips. I looked down at her body, unable to determine exactly where mine ended and hers began.

As she tightened around my cock again, her back arched up off of the bed. It was then that I realized then that her reaction, her pleasure, was because of me – because I was inside of her. Her back rose further off the bed as I pushed into her again, and when my fingers found her waist, I pulled her into me, causing her to mold to my body and meet my deep thrust.

She moaned my name beneath me and as the sound reached my ears, my release spilled forth into her accepting body. All of the tension that had been building up in my muscles was now gone, and I felt myself collapse onto her. I realized that I was more than likely smothering her with my weight, but as I started to pull out and move off of her, Bella's small hands clutched at my back, so I relaxed, sinking willingly into her soft, warm skin.

When I felt her tender fingers start to rake through my hair, I pulled back to look down at her face, finding everything I ever wanted or needed there. She would be my path from now on. I would no longer be lost or confused. Bella would be my home, and there certainly was no place like it.

A/N's: My many thanks go out to Little Miss Whitlock and britpacksuccubus for looking this o/s over. Mwah to both of you!

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