This takes place in the short time between Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. Rated M just as a precaution. The characters are strictly Stephenie Meyers's; I love them and wanted to weave a very short story around them. No copyright infringement intended.
It hadn't been raining in the massive field that served as the baseball park, but by the time Edward was carrying me up the side of my house and slipping through my bedroom window, it was beginning to drizzle in Forks. "We could have used the front door, you know. The squad car isn't in the driveway."
He deposited me by the bed and went directly to check his reflection in the long mirror that hung on the closet door. A corner of his mouth turned down as he surveyed the damage. "I wasn't going to take any chances. I'm a mess." he muttered, turning his head from side to side. I sat on the edge of the bed and couldn't help laughing, but when his eyes slid to my reflection, I turned the giggle into a cough and used that as an excuse to cover my smile.
"It's not so bad. Besides, Charlie would you look manly." I assured him, trying to sound sincere and failing.
Still watching me in the mirror, he arched an eyebrow. "You find this amusing, do you?"
With that, I fell backward onto the bed and laughed so hard that my eyes started to tear. "If you hadn't been so intent on catching that fly ball, you might have noticed Emmett barreling towards you."
Edward was beside me instantly, one hand on each side of my shoulders, glaring down at me with a mock-scowl. He ran his hand under my shirt and across my abdomen. That alone would have made me gasp, but then he started to tickle me. "You think that's funny? Emmett knocks me down and I slide 100 feet through mud and who knows what else, and you think it's funny?"
"Stop!" I begged, hysterical now, trying to evade his cool fingers. He stopped tickling, and rested his hand on my abdomen. My laughter subsided slowly as I gazed up into his amber eyes. There were smudges on his cheeks and forehead, and his neck was spattered with mud. I reached up and picked out one of the many bits of grime that matted his hair. "You're getting my bed all dirty." I said softly, because his eyes no longer sparkled with mischief. They smoldered with something else entirely. He leaned down and kissed me, then moved his lips to my ear. "I had no idea that you're so ticklish." I could hear the grin in his voice, feel it as he pressed his lips against the sensitive skin under my jaw. "Good to know." There was more than just an ominous teasing tone in his voice. There was an undercurrent that explained why his breathing was as ragged as mine.
"How can something feel so painful and so good at the same time?" I asked, turning my face towards his, knowing that he'd kiss me with an urgency and passion that he seldom allowed himself to act on. I wasn't disappointed.
"Welcome to my world." he murmured between kisses, and I knew he meant that every time we were together like this, he was battling pain. I felt his tongue, smooth and icy, skim across my lower lip before he pulled himself up and gazed down at me.
"Why did you stop?" I whispered, touching my lip and feeling the cool moisture his tongue had left behind.
"Venom." He said with a wistful sadness. "I want to…I wish we could…"
I pressed my fingers to his lips. "I know. Me, too." The atmosphere was getting too serious, so I wrinkled my nose and said, quoting him in a different circumstance, "No offense, Love, but you do smell."
Edward stood up and looked down at his baseball shirt and sighed. It was filthy. "Alice can't just run to a high-end clothing shop and replace this. I got it in 1937." There was a particularly bad stain the near the bottom. He lifted the hem up for a closer inspection, unwittingly exposing his muscled abdomen. His jeans were riding low on his hips and I couldn't take my eyes off the fine trail of bronze hair that ran from his navel, growing slightly wider as it disappeared behind his belt buckle. "I'm not sure this is mud!" he said, sounding very disgruntled. He sniffed, then grimaced. "Here, what did you think?"
I slid away from him onto the middle of the bed. "I'm not going to smell your shirt, particularly if it's not mud!" I closed my eyes and shuddered. When I opened my eyes, a second later, the offending shirt was in his hand and he was holding it toward my hamper. "Could we wash this here?" Edward pleaded. "If I take it home, I know Alice will throw it out and I doubt Esme would stop her."
I smiled. He loved that old shirt. "Sure. I'll wash the jeans, too. I can't have you going home like that. What kind of girlfriend would I be?" In response, he gave me a crooked smile and waited. I rolled my eyes. "Fiancée." I corrected. "What kind of fiancée would I be. Happy?"
"Exceptionally!" He was still smirking as he crossed to the hamper and tossed the shirt in with a flourish. Then his face took on a thoughtful expression and he turned to me. "Do you think it would be permissible with Charlie if I took a shower?"
I was a bit surprised by the request. "Here? Now?"
He chuckled softly and walked back toward the bed. "Here and now. Is it all right?"
"Well, Charlie isn't home, so we can't ask him if it's 'permissible'." I teased him by imitating his always formal speech. "But I'm sure it's fine. Permissible, that is."
Edward raised his fingers and wiggled them meaningfully. I clutched at my shirt, pulling it down as if protecting my vulnerable stomach from another attack. He chuckled. "It seems I've discovered a weak spot." Whether he realized it or not, he had discovered many weak spots. "Towels are in the linen closet?" he asked, disappearing into the hall. It gave me a moment to ponder something.
"Edward?" I called.
"Yes, Love?" I could hear him rummaging.
"I never pictured you in the shower."
His head appeared around the corner of the door. "Excuse me?"
I laughed at the playful expression on his face. "That's not what I meant. It's just that you've never said, 'I'm going home to take a shower!'. I've never called your house and someone said, "Edward will call you back, Bella. He's in the shower!"
He leaned on the door jamb and crossed his arms over his bare chest. "How exactly did you assume we stay clean?"
"I never thought about it. I guess because you don't sweat…"
He walked back to the mirror and gave his reflection another dismayed look. "Just because I don't perspire, Love, it doesn't mean I don't get dirty." He indicated the grime on his face. "Case in point. I just never mentioned showering because it's rather…" he struggled for the proper word. "…indelicate."
I laughed as I stood up and walked towards him. "Cullen, you really have to get over yourself." I reached out. "Hand over the pants."
He shook his head in mock-horror. "Talk about indelicate!" He smiled before stepping out into the hall and disappearing into the bathroom. "I'll leave the jeans outside the door."
"Don't forget the towels." I called. "And you have to jiggle the knob in order to get hot water!"
"I don't care if it's hot!" he called back and I heard the resonant splashing of water striking the floor of the tub.
I went to retrieve the dirty jeans where they were lying puddled on the floor outside the bathroom door. I gasped when I realized that I had remembered to tell Edward about the faulty plumbing, but not that the latch on the door was tempermental, too. The door was ajar, and through the narrow opening, I had an unobstructed view. Completely unobstructed. In his hurry to get rid of the grime, Edward had neglected to fully close the shower curtain.
He was already standing under the showerhead, his face turned up into the stream of water that ran down and over his perfect body. I held my breath, knowing that I should pull the door shut as quietly as possible and walk away. I was invading his privacy as he would never dream of invading mine. But then he turned his back to me, reaching for a bar of soap, and I couldn't move. I couldn't have looked away if I had a thousand times more will power.
I'd seen pictures of Michelangelo's David from every angle. The classic proportions, the chiseled musculature that emphasized every curve. Seeing the back of Edward's nude form made the perfection of the statue seem no more than a child's attempt with modeling clay.
I watched his hands as they rubbed the soap onto his shoulders, down his arms. His hands disappeared, but I knew he was massaging the lather onto his chest, his stomach…lower…
Edward faced the showerhead again, rinsing the suds from his body as he groped blindly until his hand rested on my bottle of shampoo. He uncapped it and sniffed. A grin that spread across his face and, in it, I could see the workings of his mind; how he would try to explain to his amused parents and a leering Emmett why he was coming home smelling of strawberries. I watched as he squeezed the shampoo into his hand. I watched as he worked it through hair that had turned dark auburn. I had an insuppressible desire for my hands to be the ones washing his hair, his chest…his stomach…lower…
Before I could fantasize further, Edward turned his body towards me.
I knew that his arms and his chest were muscled and strong. I knew that his abdomen was sculpted in a way that would make an Olympic athlete weep. I knew that his long legs were lean and flawless. What I did not know was the unspeakable beauty of what had previously been secreted at the base of that sweet trail of bronze hair.
Like the rest of him, it was perfectly proportioned and flawless, nestled in dark red curls. Still gazing at Edward, his eyes closed, thankfully, against the soapy lather being washed over his face, I was grateful for the millionth time that he couldn't hear my thoughts. I squeezed my eyes shut, even more ashamed of myself. Before I could take another breath, the sound of the water stopped abruptly. I knew it was too late to slip back into my bedroom. Edward might not be able to read my mind, but he could usually see right through me.
"Well…hello. I see you found the jeans."
I opened my eyes. Caught. "Um, yeah. Right outside the door."
"Like I said." There was no unusual inflection in his voice. "Why are you lurking in the hall? Come in."
I stepped into the bathroom. My gaze slid up to the ceiling, down at the floor, anywhere but at Edward, stepping out of the tub. I pointed vaguely toward the door knob. "The latch is broken."
"Really? You must have forgotten to mention that. How long have you been standing there?"
I looked at him then. He was tucking a thick, white towel around his waist. "I'm sorry." I said quickly. "That was so wrong on so many levels. I… I feel like a Peeping Tom. Forgive me, okay? You'll pretend I'm not a huge pervert and I'll pretend I never saw a thing."
"Could you rephrase that…so I don't sound like a eunuch?" He took another step closer and reached out to hold my chin in his fingers. "You're blushing? Good. You should be." He wasn't angry, or embarrassed, or appalled. His lips were curling into the smirk I couldn't resist. I dropped my head against his chest.
"I'll try to forget this ever happened. " I groaned. "How's that?"
He put his arms around my waist then, and pulled me against him. "You didn't see anything memorable then?" I was glad that he couldn't see my face. I felt his lips press into my hair. "I'm glad to hear that your heartbeat has slowed down. " he said lightly. " Back when I decided to use your shampoo, I thought you were going to have a heart attack. That would have been quite a sight if Charlie came home, us on the bathroom floor, me, dripping wet and naked, giving you mouth-to-mouth."
All the implications of what he was admitting dawned on me, and I slowly raised my head to glare at him. "You knew I was standing there?" He nodded. "The whole time?" He nodded again. "Why didn't you say something?!"
"And miss this moment? Not on your life!" He grinned, and led me back into my bedroom. "So, what am I going to put on until my clothes are washed and dried?"
I closed the door behind us and watched that glorious, perfect back as he sauntered to the bed. "It really doesn't matter." I said, nonchalantly. He turned and gave me a questioning look, that one eyebrow arched. I shrugged. "It's not like you have anything I haven't seen before."
And very suddenly, the towel was not the only thing he tossed onto the bed.