Getting Lost

Summary: A lonely author, a blue eyed angel, a golden mischief maker and the quintessential DILFward; mix them altogether, and what do you get? Only time will tell... AU/AH, rated M for adult content and language.

This was originally a one-shot written for Ninapolitan's D.I.L.F-contest that I am now continuing. That is why this first chapter is so long - the chapters after this won't be this long, I promise *grin*

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Chapter 1: Taking a walk


"Jake – get off your lazy ass and get over here!"



Stupid mutt.

"Jake, I'm serious; if you're not standing by this door in 10 seconds, I'll leave without you!" I threatened, glaring at him. He just looked back at me with his puppy dog eyes, feigning innocence by cooking his head to the side in a rather ridiculous gesture.

I ignored the way my heart melted a little at the sight – I didn't feel like playing his stupid games.

"Ten, nine, eight…," I began to count down slowly, walking backwards towards the door. Jake's head perked up as I gained his attention.

When I raised my arm towards the coat rack, he stood up slowly and took a hesitant step towards me. "Five, four…," I grabbed the item closest to my hand, and at the sight of it, Jake sprinted down the hallway, bounding up to me faster than I thought possible on his short stubby legs.

"Aww, Jake, I knew you only needed a little encourage- no, stop jumping! Calm down would ya? Sheesh." I tried to glare a little at him again, but it was a hopeless battle – he was just too fucking adorable. I sighed resignedly with a smile, hunching down to pat him on the head. "What am I going to do with you, huh?" I asked him before fastening the collar around his neck, hooking the leash to it quickly. He barked happily and licked my face as I scratched him behind his ears. "Who's a good doggie?" I asked him in that stupid, crooning voice people reserve exclusively for babies and cuddly animals.

He followed me excitedly out the door, the lazy and happy puppy from only moments before out of sight and out of mind. The elevator ride down to the lobby was silent save for the rhythmic thumps of Jake's tail hitting the floor repeatedly.

As the doors pulled open, I took a firm grasp on Jake's leash to stop him from potentially trying to run away from me. I had learned from experience that this sometimes happened in his delight at talking a walk around the park. He lived for these walks, the poor guy.

The walk to the park was quick, and not before long, Jake and I were strolling down one of the many paths that weaved in and out of the wooded area. It was a beautiful day for a walk – there wasn't a cloud in the sky, with a gentle breeze that stopped the sun from feeling too hot.

Jake was running all over the place, darting back and forth across the path, sniffing everything he laid eyes on. I was used to this kind of behaviour, so I just let him discover his surroundings and tried my best not to trip over him as he darted back and forth in front of my feet.

We were nearing the large patch of grass where dogs could run free when Jake suddenly stopped. He had been walking behind me, so the resulting tug as he stopped almost made me fall over as I twisted back.

"Jake! What are you doing?" He was staring intently at a large bush right next to the path, not moving a muscle. I gave an experimental pull on the leash to see if he would react, but he didn't even flinch.

After a few seconds, he took a few slow steps forward, still focusing all his attention on the bush. I wondered if maybe there was some kind of animal in there or something, and I took a step towards him hesitantly – I didn't want him to get hurt.

Suddenly, he let out a playful bark, but I froze as a scared whimper sounded from somewhere behind the bush, followed instantly by a series of quiet sniffles. I walked over to where Jake was standing and peered into the bush.

"Hello?" I asked, feeling a little stupid. That is, until I heard a definite gasp, and a rather poor attempt to stop the sniffling. I walked closer to the bush, looking behind it.

I blinked in surprise as seeing a small girl hunched over on the ground. She had beautiful long hair, a very light brown with red undertones, that was currently spreading out around her as she rested her head on her drawn-up knees. Her whole body seemed to be trembling – either from fright or from suppressing tears, I couldn't tell.

I quickly looked around, in some kind of instinct to find another adult who this girl might belong to. The path was completely abandoned.

I felt something brushing against my leg, and I looked down to see Jake walking past me towards the girl. I firmly held his leash, not wanting him to go near her and scare the poor girl even more.

Not really sure what to do, I took a deep breath and leaned down towards her a little. "Uhm… hi," I said softly, noticing how she completely froze for a second before slowly looking up at me. She couldn't have been older than five or six. She was completely adorable, despite her red eyes and tear streaked cheeks. Her bottom lip trembled, tears spilling from her eyes as she shrank back from me a bit. I felt a small ache in my heart at the sight of her – she looked so scared; all I wanted to do was pick her up and comfort her.

"What's wrong?" I asked her, pulling Jake towards me again as he tried to step forward. The little girls eyes darted down to the puppy by my feet before she looked up at my face again. Her own face crumpled a little as she bit her lip, trying to stop another sob from breaking through.

I floundered a bit, not really sure what to say to the silent girl. I went with the first thought that popped into my mind. "Are you lost?"

At that, a heart wrenching sob left her, and she buried her head against her arms again, her shoulder shaking as she cried.

"I'll take that as a yes," I mumbled under my breath. I looked down at Jake, who was starring intently at the little girl. I snapped my fingers to make him look up at me. "Jake, go sit over there," I said as I pointed a few feet back. He instantly walked to where I was pointing, sitting down at my command to stay. He whined a little, but didn't disobey me. I dropped the leash on the ground as I took a few steps closer to the little girl.

"What's your name?" I asked her as I sank down on the grass. She didn't respond, only tried to make herself even smaller by hunching down as close to her knees as she could.

I frowned, not really sure how to get through to her. I really had no experience with children, and I bit my lip as I tried to figure out what to do. After a moment longer of her sobbing next to me, I did the only thing I could think of – I put myself in her shoes. If I got lost when I was five years old and a stranger found me, what would I do?

Ooh, right…

"Let me guess – 'don't talk to strangers'?" I asked her, smiling with a bit of relief when she lifted her head a little and looked up at me. She gave a hesitant nod. I smiled as reassuringly as I could. "My dad used to say that to me all the time when I was a little girl. He was a cop, you know, so he knew what he was talking about."

She swallowed slowly as she looked at me, raising one hand to wipe at the tears falling from her beautiful blue eyes. Progress perhaps? I continued on, hoping she would warm up to me enough to let me help her find her parents.

"Is that why you are hiding behind here? To get away from the strangers?"

Again, she nodded hesitantly as she sniffed, straightening up just a little bit more. I inwardly sighed with relief – it seemed to be working.

"Did your daddy warn you not to talk to strangers?" Another nod. "Well, you're a good girl for listening to him, aren't you?" I tried to sound as kind as I possibly could, speaking quietly. For some reason I was treating her almost like a scared animal; no sudden movements or loud noises, or else I might startle her.

"I'm Bella," I told her next. I then pointed over my shoulder. "And that's Jake, my dog." Her eyes darted over to him, and I saw a sparkle of curiosity in her eyes. "Do you want to tell me your name?"

She looked back at me, and I could practically see the wheels turning in her head as she thought about it. I patiently waited for her to make up her mind.

"Maddie," she finally whispered, and I smiled hugely at her.

"Maddie – that's such a pretty name," I told her, earning me a tiny little smile from her.

"Thank you," she continued in the same quiet whisper, and she was quiet for a beat before opening her mouth again. "Bella is a pretty name, too," she told me in a slightly louder voice.

"Thank you, Maddie," I said. I bit my lip as I hesitated, but I decided to just jump straight in. "Do you want to tell me how you got lost? I'll help you find your parents, if you'd like."

To my dismay, my words caused her to start crying heavily again. She started speaking, but I couldn't make out what she was saying. I leaned in closer, and after listening carefully, I realised what she was saying. "I di-didn't mean t-to," she repeated over and over again. "I didn't m-mean t-to."

"Oh, Maddie, it's ok – don't cry, we'll find you parents, I promise." I reached out a hand and rubbed small circles on her back, trying to reassure her. She stiffened up for a second, before she suddenly threw herself at me, wrapping her tiny arms around my neck as she sobbed hysterically. "Honey, it's ok… shh," I whispered against her hair, letting nonsense fall from my lips as I comforted her.

After a few minutes, it finally seemed as if she had cried herself out. Only the occasional sniffle sounded from her as I rubbed her back. "Tell me what happened, Maddie," I told her softly.

She took a deep breathe as she prepared herself. "Daddy and auntie Alice took me here so that we could play," she started, her voice a little wobbly. "I wanted to look at the puppies, but daddy said we had to have lunch first." At this, her voice broke a little, and her next words came out in another sob. "They were making our picnic, and they didn't see when I ran away." She buried her head harder into my shoulder, trying to hold back more sobs.

I thought I understood her explanation – her dad and aunt most likely took her to the playground not far from where we currently were. It seemed as if Maddie had wanted to come here to look at the dogs, but got lost on the way. I didn't blame her; even though the playground wasn't far from here, the path that connected the two areas went straight through a small wooded area and connected with many other paths. Even I got confused sometimes. The thing that worried me the most, though, was that she had said something about eating lunch before she ran away. It was almost 3 pm now – who knew how long she had been missing.

"Maddie, it's not your fault – you got lost, that's all. I get lost sometimes too," I told her, trying to make her feel better.

She raised her head a little and looked at me. "You do?" she asked hesitantly. Her face crunched up in confusion. "But you're old."

A surprised laugh left my mouth at her reasoning, but I guessed that for a five-year old little girl, grown-ups weren't supposed to get lost.

"Yeah, well, it's not always easy making it from one place to the other," I laughed, making her giggle a little.

Suddenly, Jake barked behind me, sounding a bit impatient. Maddie immediately looked at him, that curious look in her eyes returning. I thought for a second before making a quick decision.

"Jake, come here," I told him and he instantly bounded over to us. "Say hello to Maddie," I said as he stretched his head out to smell her. "Just put your hand out for him Maddie, so he can say hi."

It seemed as if Jake's happy personality instantly made Maddie feel better, and it didn't take long for the two of them to thoroughly enjoy each other's company. Maddie eagerly scratched and patted him as he licked her face enthusiastically.

"Alright, how about we try to find your daddy, ok?" I asked her after another few minutes as I got up from the ground. She looked up at me and nodded, biting her lip. I bent down to the ground and picked up Jake's leash, before stretching my other hand out to Maddie. She quickly grabbed it and followed me back onto the path. As we walked she rubbed her eyes with her free hand, trying to get all the tears out.

"How old are you, Maddie?" I asked her, trying to make small-talk as we walked towards the playground. I didn't know where else to take her – it was probably a long-shot to assume that her dad would still be there, but it was the best place to start.

"Five," she answered, confirming my guess. With a child's typical curiosity, she asked me back. "How old are you?"

"I'm 28," I answered her, watching with amusement how her face once again crunched up as she tried to wrap her mind around the concept of so many years.

She looked up at me and opened her mouth to say something, just when a shriek rang through the air.

"Maddie! Oh my god, Maddie, you're ok!"

She and I both looked up to see a tiny woman practically flying down the path towards us.

"Auntie Alice!" Maddie cried out and I quickly let go of her hand so that she could run forward. I watched as the tiny woman dropped down to her knees as soon as she reached Maddie, and wrapped her arms tightly around her, rocking back and forth with closed eyes.

"Thank god you're safe… thank god," she mumbled into the little girls hair.

"I'm s-sorry!" Maddie wailed into her shoulder repeatedly, once again sobbing her little heart out. She would be completely exhausted at the end of the day.

I slowly approached the two of them, not really sure what to do. I didn't just want to leave, but I didn't know what I should say either.

However, the tiny woman made the decision for me. She opened her eyes and looked at me when she heard me approaching and she smiled hugely. She wrapped her arms tightly around Maddie and stood up with the little girl firmly attached to her.

"You found her?" she asked me and I nodded quickly as I pointed back towards the bush.

"My dog was actually the one who found her behind that bush over there. She was hiding from strangers," I explained, before remembering my manners. "Oh, sorry – I'm Bella," I told her.

"Alice," she smiled, and I was suddenly struck with the notion that I faintly recognised her. I couldn't remember having met her before, but there was something familiar about her face; the black, spiky hair and delicate features… I couldn't place it.

"I can't thank you enough, Bella. We've been looking all over the place for almost two hours, worried sick," Alice said. "Oh god, I need to call Edward…" she mumbled. She awkwardly tried to shift the crying little girl currently hanging off her, presumably to get her phone. I stepped forward and held out my arms.

"Do you want me to take her?" I asked, and Alice smiled at me.

"Thanks, that would be great. Edward, my brother, is completely beside himself with worry – he made me promise to call him if I found her," she said as she tried to pry Maddie's arms away from her. "Maddie, sweetheart, let go for a sec would you? I need to call daddy and tell him I found you, ok? Here, Bella's got you…" she said as I reached out and plucked Maddie from her arms. Without missing a beat, she wrapped all her little limbs around me and buried her head in my neck again.

Alice pulled out her phone and within seconds she had it pressed against her ear. It didn't surprise me that it only seemed to take one ring before this Edward guy answered.

"Edward, I got her, she's fine," Alice rambled off, her voice saturated with relief. "A woman, Bella, found her hiding behind a bush near the dog-walk."

Alice paused, listening to what Edward was saying. "No, she's not hurt, she's fine – just very upset." She paused again, looking at Maddie the whole time. "We'll meet you there, ok?... Yeah, see you in a bit. Bye." She ended the call and looked at me quickly. "Do you mind holding her another minute? I need to call my husband and tell him to meet us at the playground."

"Yeah, sure, no problem," I answered her quickly, rubbing Maddie's back.

Alice smiled. "Do you mind coming with us to the playground? He didn't say anything, but I'm sure Edward would like to meet you and say thanks."

"Oh… uhm, yeah, sure, I don't mind," I floundered

Her call to her husband went along the same lines as she one she had with Edward, reassuring him that his niece was fine and that he should meet them at the playground.

Alice stopped as she slid the phone back in her pocket and opened her arms. "I can take her now," she said and I carefully transferred the girl to her aunt's embrace again. "Thanks Bella." Alice started walking down the path as she patted Maddie's back.

I actually had to struggle a bit to keep up with her, despite the fact that she was tiny and carrying a quite heavy child.

"Maddie, what happened? You know you can't run away on your own like that, honey – daddy was so worried about you," Alice said quietly to her nice.

Maddie didn't say a word, only cried into Alice's shoulder. I decided to step in with the little bit of information I had been able to drag out of her.

"She said she wanted to look at the puppies," I said, making Alice turn her head to look at me. She didn't look annoyed or anything, so I assumed she didn't mind me interfering. "She said her dad – Edward, right? – Yeah, he had said something about eating lunch first, but I guess she got a bit impatient and decided to go look for the dogs on her own. I think she was trying to find her way to the field where dogs can run free," I said.

Alice nodded slowly. "She always has loved dogs. I'm just waiting for the day Edward caves and gets one of their own."

I smiled a little. I looked at Maddie, who now had her head turned towards me. "I've always loved dogs to," I told her. She rubbed her eyes again, seeming pretty tired, but she still managed a small smile. I turned my attention back to Alice. "I don't know how long she'd been sitting behind that bush – I only found her 10 minutes ago."

Alice smiled a little grimly at me. "Well, thank god you did – who knows what could have happened if you had just walked straight past her."

I beamed down at Jake. "Yeah, Jake's a real hero today. I might have to give him a treat tonight."

Alice laughed a little, the sound like a tinkering bell. "Maybe I should too," she said.

We continued walking for awhile longer, and I asked Alice a bit about why they were at the park today. Turns out this Edward guy was a single parent, but his job took up quite a lot of his time during the week, so he always tried to do something with Maddie during the weekend. I smiled as Alice talked about the things Maddie and her father usually did together – having grown up with only my dad after mom left us when I was three years old, I could sympathise with both Maddie and Edward. I knew how it felt to only have your dad, and I knew how difficult it could be for the dad to find the time to fill not only his role, but the missing parents' as well.

I found myself appreciative of Edward's apparent love for his daughter; Charlie's idea of good father-daughter time included a fishing trip and watching baseball. While I didn't much like these activities, I still knew that Charlie was doing his best to spend some time with me, so I never really voiced my dislike for what we did together. The important thing was that I got to spend some time with him growing up. This Edward guy however, seemed to really take the time to plan new and different activities for himself and his daughter whenever he could, and I couldn't help but kinda like him for it.

A few minutes later we stepped out onto the playground. Alice made her way over to the picnic-tables, sitting down at one in the shade of a big tree. I followed her and Maddie and sat down next to them.

"Edward should be here any minute. He wasn't far away," Alice said as she stroked Maddie's hair.

"Yeah, no worries – I don't have anywhere I need to be," I smiled. Jake pulled a little on his leash, gaining my attention. "Jake, sit," I said to the dog, pointing to the ground next to me.

Alice looked at him as he did what he was told, a smile playing on her lips. "He's a good dog," she offered.

I laughed a little, stroking Jake's head. "Yeah, he's the best." Jake looked up at me, tongue hanging out and tail wagging against the ground.

"Golden Retriever, right?" Alice asked.

I nodded to her. "Yeah, I used to have one when I was a child, and I've always loved them, so I decided to get him to congratulate myself." I stopped talking abruptly, wishing I hadn't just said that. I didn't really want to get into why I had wanted to congratulate myself. For some reason it always embarrassed me a little to tell people. Alice didn't pick up on my hesitation, and went ahead and asked, just as I knew she would.

"Congratulate yourself for what?"

I looked down at the ground and blushed a little. "I, uh… I published my first novel," I mumbled, picking at the leash in my hands.

"No way!" Alice exclaimed. "That's amazing. Hey, wait a minute… Oh my god, you're Bella Swan, aren't you?" She barely waited for my hesitative nod before launching into a fast-paced word vomit. "Oh my god, that is so cool – I just finished reading your book last night! It was incredible, you're so talented, Bella! I really loved the relationship you created between Jamie and Anna, it was so perfect! And the ending… god, I was on pins and needles the whole time! Do you think you'll do a sequel? Oh, do you think it would ever be made into a movie? That would be awesome, I'd really love to see it on the big screen, you know? I could totally pick out the perfect actors! Do you think you'd get any say in the screenplay? Because otherwise they might try and change it too much, and they really shouldn't do that – it's perfect just the way it is!"

I blinked in disbelief at her as she managed to spout all of that in just two breaths. Suddenly, her arm flew out and she grabbed me excitedly. "Oo, I just remembered! Oh god, this is great! I was just talking about this yesterday with my husband! You'll never guess who he is! You just have to meet him. This is so exciting!" She grinned widely at me, completely ignoring my extreme confusion.

"Uh…" I managed to get out. "Ok…?"

She opened her mouth to say something else, but was suddenly interrupted by a loud shout. "Alice!" She turned her head around and I followed her gaze.

Half-jogging towards us was a very good-looking guy, with honey coloured, wavy hair. I frowned a little – I recognised that hair…

As the man got closer, I gasped. "No way…" I whispered. Alice turned to me and grinned widely.

"Yes way!" she giggled. "Jasper, you have no idea who it was that found Maddie!" she shouted to her husband.

I stared in disbelief as Jasper, my childhood best friend, quickly approached. He looked confused at Alice's statement, but he suddenly stopped dead in his tracks when he saw me. He stared at me for a few seconds before a huge grin spread over his face and he ran over to us.

I stood up as he approached, laughing a little at how happy he looked. It had been a few years since I last saw him, but he still looked the same – besides the obvious affects of aging, he was still the same Jasper that I remembered.

"Bella, is that really you?" he asked, and at my nod he laughed and wrapped his arms around me in a tight hug. "I can't believe it! I mean, I knew you lived here, but I never thought I'd run into you like this." He stepped away from me, looking me up and down. "You look good," he said, grinning cheekily at me.

I laughed happily. "You too. It's so good to see you." I suddenly realised why Alice looked so familiar. I clapped a hand to my forehead and turned to her. "Alice, Jasper's wife! I knew I recognised you! It must have been from those photos from your wedding," I told her. I gave them both an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry I couldn't be there – I would have loved to come."

I had been busy with my book tour when they got married, and I had been unable to attend. Jasper brushed it off.

"Don't worry about it, Bella, we understood why you couldn't come. Speaking of which – congratulations on your book! Alice hasn't been able to shut up about it ever since she first picked it up," he smiled, winking at his wife who playfully stuck out her tongue at him.

I smiled at their interaction, feeling it warm my heart. I had known Jasper since we were four years old, and it was important to me that he was happy. Alice certainly seemed to make him that, so I could be nothing but thrilled that he had found her.

Just then, Alice suddenly stood up and raised her arm in the air, waving it. "Edward, over here!"

I turned in the direction she was looking, and the sight that met me caused a spontaneous rush of drool to puddle in my mouth. The man quickly jogging over to us was quite honestly the most gorgeous being I had ever laid eyes on. The bronze flop of hair on his head could best be described as fuck-hot sex hair, sticking out in every direction. The sunlight glinting of it brought out the extraordinary colour, and I dimly realised where the red undertones in Maddie's hair came from.

His face was indescribably beautiful, with a jaw so prominent and chiselled that I wanted to weep. I was surprised to find that he looked to be about my age – he must have been young when Maddie was born. As he got closer and closer I saw that his eyes were green – eyes he only had for his daughter at the moment. He didn't even acknowledge his sister or brother-in-law as he rushed up to the bench where Maddie was sitting.

"Maddie, don't you ever do that to me again!" he told her as he picked her up from the bench, relief flooding his voice as he wrapped his arms around her. His voice sent tremors through me with its velvet smoothness, making my as-of-late rather neglected girly parts come to life.

I mentally slapped myself and swallowed the excess drool, trying to pretend like the man in front of me wasn't the epitome of every sex dream I had ever had. Bella, seriously, the man is talking to his daughter who got lost – now is not the time to think about how his voice sounds like melted sex and honey, no matter how long it's been since your last fuck, ok?

Edward continued mumbling into Maddie's hair, rocking them back and forth. "What were you thinking, honey? You can't just walk off like that – you almost gave daddy a heart attack," he told her. At this, she broke down in tears yet again, sobbing loudly as she clung to Edward's neck for dear life. I felt so bad for the poor girl – seeing her cry once was enough to break my heart. I'd seen it happen more times than I cared to count in the span of 20 minutes, and I didn't know if I would be able to see her break down one more time after this.

"I-I'm s-s-so-orry, daddy!" she wailed into his neck, her whole body shaking with the force of her sobs. Edward rubbed her back soothingly.

"Shh, honey, don't cry… just promise me you won't ever do that again, ok? Shh, it's ok sweetheart… shh," he mumbled over and over again.

I tried not to notice how the muscles in his arms moved as he rubbed her back, or how wide his shoulders were, or how tall he was, or how his jeans fit him perfectly, sitting low on his lean hips.

Yeah… I probably could have tried harder.

After a moment I shifted a little awkwardly from foot to foot. I started to wonder if maybe I should say something, but I didn't really know what. 'Hey, I'm the stranger who found your daughter hiding behind a bush – nice to meet you'? No, that didn't really sound too spectacular.

Suddenly, Alice piped up. "Oh! Sorry, I forgot – Edward, this is Bella," she said, motioning to me. "She's the one who found Maddie."

His head snapped up from his daughters hair, and his eyes met mine. I narrowly avoided gasping out loud as his emerald green eyes locked with mine – there were so many emotions swimming around in those green depths, gratitude and relief being the most prominent ones. I started blushing under his intense gaze, and I smiled, a little embarrassed.

I raised my hand and waved awkwardly. "Uhm, hi."

He smiled at me, and I realised I needed to change my panties. He took a few steps towards me, shifting Maddie a little so that he could hold out his hand.

"Bella, I can't thank you enough," he said as I reached out to shake his hand, his voice saturated with more relief and happiness. I, however, was more prone to notice how amazing my name sounded coming off his lips. My heart skipped a beat as our skin touched, and then began to pound away under my ribs as he held my hand firmly in his own.

He let go after a moment and I floundered a bit to relocate the part of my brain that enabled me to speak. "It, eh… I-…"

Smooth Bella. You're a fucking idiot.

I swallowed hard and forced myself to get a grip. I smiled back at the man-god before me. "It was nothing – I didn't really do much besides getting her back on the path where Alice ran into us."

He grinned crookedly at me, and my breath hitched just a little bit. I controlled my sputtering as I opened my mouth to speak again. "I should probably tell you that it took a while to get her to talk to me – it seemed as if your 'Don't talk to strangers' advice really stuck," I said, making Edward laugh.

It was the most amazing sound I had ever heard.

"Well, that's always something I guess," he told me, amusement colouring his voice. He looked down at his daughter. "Maddie, did you say thank you to Bella?"

The little girl shook her head, but she instantly lifted it to look at me, wiping the tears away from her face. "Thank you, Bella," she said in her beautiful voice, sounding completely exhausted. I smiled gently at her, reaching out to brush some hair away from her face.

"You're welcome, Maddie," I said to her. I could feel Edward looking intently at me as I smiled at his daughter, and I found myself unable to not look up and meet his gaze. There was a most peculiar expression on his face that I couldn't read, but his smile was gentle and warm, and I felt my breathing picking up just a little from being so near him.

I couldn't tear my gaze away from him until Alice's voice suddenly broke through my concentration.

"Edward, you'll never guess who Bella is!" she squealed excitedly.

Edward looked at his sister with a confused expression. "She's… Bella?"

Alice flapped her hand a little, as if to brush away his answer. "No, she's Bella Swan! You know, Jasper's old friend from Forks, the author – I just finished reading her book last night!"

Edward's eyebrow's rose in surprise, and he turned his head to look at me with a small smile. "Well, that's a coincidence– Alice was talking about how Jasper should try to get in touch with you, now that you lived here in Seattle too. Or well, we were talking about it until we noticed that this little girl right here," he shook Maddie a little in his arms, making her giggle, "was missing." He smiled down at her, and then looked back up at me.

I nodded. "Yeah, I couldn't believe it when Jasper came jogging up to us before." I looked over at Jasper. "I'm sorry I haven't contacted you before – I really should have, seeing as we're both living here now."

He waved his hand in a dismissive manner. "Don't worry about it; I should have done it too."

"Oh! Oh!" Alice exclaimed suddenly, jumping up and down once or twice. "Bella, you should come over for dinner at Edward's house tonight!"

Edward chuckled. "Thank you for taking the liberty to invite people to my home without asking, Alice," he said, the amused glint in his eyes making it clear that he was teasing her.

"Oh, shut up Edward," she answered quickly, her tone light and happy. "Bella, please come – you and Jasper could catch up, talk about old times and all that, and we could finally get to know each other. I've wanted to meet you ever since Jasper told us the story about how you made him shoot milk out his nose!"

I laughed at the memory, glancing over at Jasper as he put his hands over his face in mock embarrassment, shacking his head slowly from side to side.

Alice looked so happy and excited that I couldn't help but feel at least a little inclined to accept her invitation. However, they were having dinner at Edward's house, and he hadn't been the one to invite me. Maybe he didn't want me to come, but couldn't say anything now because Alice had already asked me. I hesitantly looked at Edward for a second before meeting Alice's gaze again.

"Well, it would be great to catch up a little, but I-… I mean, I don't want to intrude or anything, so mayb-" I started hesitantly, but Edward cut me off.

"No, no, of course you should come, Bella! If not for you, who knows what cou-" He abruptly stopped speaking, quickly drawing a large breath as he look down at his daughter with solemn eyes. He squeezed her tighter against his chest before clearing his throat and looking back up at me. "It's the least I can do."

His eyes were nothing but sincere, and before I knew what I was doing, my head was bobbing up and down in agreement.

"Yeah, ok. Thanks." I plastered on a smile as an afterthought, trying to seem at least somewhat normal. Edward smiled happily and nodded once at me.

"Edward, we should probably take Maddie home – she's half asleep," Alice said softly. All eyes turned to the little girl currently resting against her father's chest.

A chest that I would just love to see without the hindrance of the black shirt he was wearing, so that I could let my hands roam over his naked skin, maybe softly kiss and nibble it, drag my tongue all ove-

Seriously, don't even go there right now, you whore.

With a bubble of energy and excitement, Alice quickly gave me the details of the time and place for dinner later that evening. I saw Maddie looking at us the whole time, seeming to concentrate on what was being said.

She raised her head slowly and turned to her father as Alice continued to talk to me. With the loud whisper children often use when they think they're being subtle, she spoke to him. "Is Bella gonna eat with us, daddy?"

Edward's eyes met mine for a second as he chuckled, before he cut them to Maddie. He used the same kind of loud whisper that she had done. "Yes, she is. She's an old friend of uncle Jasper's, and we're thanking her for finding you."

Maddie nodded seriously, as if she agreed completely with what Edward said and thought it was a good idea. "Good. I like her, daddy – she smells really pretty." Her eyes widened to further emphasise her statement.

Edward's lips twitched as he fought not to look up at me. I bit my lip painfully as I suppressed my laughter. Thank you, Maddie.

Suddenly, Maddie frowned, as if thinking hard about something. "What about Jake?"

In turn, Edward frowned out of confusion. I was struck by how similar they looked as they wore the same expression. "Who's Jake?" Edward asked, speaking a little louder than the whisper.

Maddie rolled her eyes in exasperation, as if his question was the dumbest thing she had ever heard. "Daddy!" she exclaimed, but she might as well have said 'duh!', with the voice she was using – they clearly meant the same thing to her at the moment. Edward's eyebrows rose at her tone. "He's right there!" She pointed behind her, down at the ground where Jake was currently lazing.

Understanding dawned in Edward's eyes, and an unreadable expression flitted quickly across his face. He turned to look at me.

"Yours, I guess?" he asked me, inclining his head to my dog.

I nodded, holding up the leash I still had in my hand.

"He needs food too, daddy," Maddie said seriously, as if implying that Edward didn't know that living creatures needed to eat.

Edward looked at her, slightly exasperated – his expression clearly stated that he knew exactly what she was getting at. "I'm sure Bella has food for him, Maddie."

"Maybe he wants dinner?" she said, pouting a little.

Edward sighed. "Maddie…"

Maddie sighed. "Daddy…"

They then proceeded to have some sort of silent conversation, and a few seconds later, Edward dropped his head in defeat. He turned to me once again.

"Bella, it seems as if my daughter would like to invite your dog to dinner tonight. Do you mind…?"

I laughed softly as I shook my head. "No, that's fine. I prefer not having to leave him with my neighbour actually – she spoils him way too much."

Maddie clapped her hands excitedly as she twisted in Edward's arms, trying to look at Jake. "Jake!" she said elatedly, making him lift his head as he looked at her. His tail started slapping against the ground, slowly at first, but faster and faster as Maddie started laughing and giggling. He stood up and let out a playful bark as he bounded over to Edward and Maddie.

"Daddy, down!" Maddie giggled, kicking her legs a little to make Edward release her. He put her down on the ground and she instantly started petting Jake on the head. His tail was wagging at an insane speed as he licked her face, obviously in heaven because of the attention he was getting from the little girl.

"Ok, Jake, that's enough," I said calmly, taking a step towards him and kneeling down on the ground. I put my arm around him to restrain some of his enthusiasm as I looked up at Maddie's overjoyed expression.

"He likes you, doesn't he Maddie?" I asked her; I couldn't stop the huge smile on my face – this girl was just too adorable for words.

"Uhuh," she beamed, nodding her head vigorously, making me laugh.

Edward squatted down behind her and put his arm around the little girl. "Say goodbye now Maddie – you'll see Bella and Jake later tonight." He smiled at me over her shoulder, and I was certain I looked like an idiot when I smiled back at him breathlessly.

Maddie wiggled out of Edward's grasp and threw herself at me. Surprised, I slowly put my arms around her as she hugged me. She pulled back and grinned. "Bye, Bella."

"Bye, Maddie," I answered, smiling back at the little girl.

With quick goodbyes to the others, we went our separate ways for the afternoon. As soon as Jake and I got back home, I practically collapsed against the door.

I was going to Mr. Sexiest-fucking-man-I-have-ever-seen's house for dinner tonight.

And I had no clue what to wear.


Two hours later, I had done my hair, fixed my make-up and dressed in black skinny-jeans, a burgundy tank top and a soft, black shrug.

My make-up was light and my hair was loose around my shoulders and just a little bit shinier than it was this afternoon. I had aimed for something nice, but casual – I didn't want to overdue it.

Half an hour later I parked my car outside Edward's beautiful apartment building, and with a deep breath opened the door and got out. I stepped around to the other side to let Jake out and together we walked into the building. Ever since Alice let me know his address, I had my suspicions that Edward might be quite well off. As I crossed the luxurious lobby, a lazy Jake walking after me, I was sure of it.

I fidgeted nervously with my handbag as I stood outside his door, waiting for someone to answer my knock. Suddenly I could hear something that sounded suspiciously like "Jake! Jake! Jake's here!"

The door swung open, leaving me in no doubt that that was in fact what Maddie had been chanting only seconds before, but I barely noticed. Edward was standing in front of me, wearing dark jeans and a brown shirt with the sleeves rolled up past his elbows, revealing the swell of muscles in his arms.

But the muscles weren't what had me staring.

There was ink peeking out from underneath the fabric on his right arm.

He had a fucking tattoo.

I immediately chastised myself for not bringing an extra pair of panties in my huge handbag, as they sure as hell would have come in handy now. How the hell could Mr. Sex himself get even more fucking sexy?!

Obviously by having a tattoo.

The top buttons on his shirt were undone and the sight gave me an insatiable urge to just lean in and lick the skin there. He wore a crooked smile on his lips that made his unbelievably handsome face even more fucking gorgeous.

How the hell did such a good lucking guy even exist? It felt like he had broken some fucking law of nature or something.

"Bella!" My name never sounded better than when it was rolling off his lips. "I'm so glad you're here – Maddie has been completely uncontrollable with excitement over getting to see Jake again."

I laughed as the girl in question came flying out of nowhere, wrapping herself around Edward's legs. "Daddy, let them in!" she said loudly, tugging a bit on his jeans for emphasis. Edward bent down and lifted her out of the way with a huge smile before straightening up and looking back at me.

"Well, you heard her…" Edward said to me in an amused tone as he stepped aside to let me come in. In a move he probably didn't think I'd see, he surreptitiously tugged his jeans back up a little. I hid my smile as I brushed past him into the apartment. Jake followed behind, tail happily wagging.

Maddie immediately rushed to his side and started petting him, just as Alice came walking up to us, followed closely by Jasper, who, god bless him, was holding two beers, offering me one as he greeted me.

"Oh, Bella, you look nice!" Alice gushed as she hugged me. "That colour fits you perfectly."

I felt a tiny spot of warmth forming on my cheeks. "Uhm, thank you. You look really nice too," I offered as Jake and Maddie ran into the living room, laughing and barking respectively.

"Ok, well, dinner's almost ready, so just make yourself at home," Edward said to me as he walked through the living room. I admired his ass as he walked away, rounding a corner to what I assumed was the kitchen. Alice dragged me with her over to the huge, comfy couch and sat down.

Edward's apartment was breathtaking – the south wall had floor to ceiling windows, with a huge balcony on the west side. The view of the city was absolutely amazing. The décor practically screamed subtle luxury, and I started wondering what exactly Edward did for a living, since he was able to live here.

"So, Bella," Alice said, bringing my attention back to her, "tell me what happened when you found Jasper sneaking around in the girls' locker room in high school."


Dinner was nothing short of amazing – Edward could cook one hell of a meal. My stomach was pleasantly full as Jasper, always the slowest to eat, finished his last bite.

"Man, Edward, that was amazing," he groaned as he rubbed his stomach, leaning back in his chair.

Edward chuckled and ducked his head, seeming a bit embarrassed.

"Daddy, that was really good, can I please be excused?" Maddie rambled hopefully. She hadn't been too happy when she had to stop playing with Jake because of dinner, and she had impatiently awaited the end of the meal.

Edward looked at her calculatingly for a few seconds before his eyes shifted down to her plate.

"Eat five more peas and then you can leave the table," he said, using his fork to separate the small pile of peas.

Maddie scrunched up her nose and looked disappointed that she had to earn her right to leave. With a heavy sigh she picked up her fork, and used her finger to shovel the peas on it. She chewed quickly, washing them down with her last sip of apple juice.

"Gone!" she sang happily as she made to get off the chair. With one foot on the floor, she suddenly paused and looked back up at Edward hesitantly.

He smiled warmly at her. "You can go, honey," at which she shot out of the chair and ran over to where Jake was lying on the floor.

"That kid is something else," I said, mostly to myself as I looked at her patting Jake's head happily before rounding the corner to the living room. There was just something special about her that I couldn't describe, but whatever it was, it made me smile.

From the corner of my eye I saw Edward turn to look at me. I glanced back at him to see him smile.

"I think so too," he said and I chuckled softly in answer.

"Daddy?" Maddie called from the living room. "Can I watch The Little Mermaid?"

"Sure, honey," he called back. "It's her favourite movie of all time," he said to me, shaking his head but still smiling. "I've been forced to watch the damn thing more times than I can count."

I laughed and nodded. "Just be glad it isn't Hannah Montana," I said, only half joking.

Edward paled a little. "You're right, that would be much worse." He swallowed. "Thank god for mermaids."

"Daddy, I need help!" Maddie called out again.

Alice stuck out her hand to stop Edward from getting up. "I'll go," she said with a smile, getting up from the table. Jasper stood and followed her, leaving me alone with Edward.

I looked at him and smiled a little, trying not to stare too much at his beautiful face. "Thank you for dinner, Edward – it really was amazing."

He gave me a crooked grin that made me moan on the inside. "You're welcome. It was nice to have someone new to cook for," he said, his voice a little lower than it had been before.

As I felt my breathing picking up just from being in such close proximity to him, all alone, I decided I needed to distract myself before I did something really embarrassing. I cleared my throat a little and stood up.

"Here, I'll help you with these," I said, starting to gather up the plates.

Edward stood up too. "No, Bella, you don't have to do that – you're a guest."

I shook my head with a smile. "Really, it's no problem, Edward. It's the least I can do."

With that I took off for the kitchen with our plates and cutlery, ignoring Edward's pleas. I heard a deep sigh behind me as I put the dishes in the sink, and soon Edward was beside me with the leftover food. I turned on the tap to rinse off the plates, but I froze as I felt Edward's hand on my back. The warmth spreading through the fabric of my top felt amazing, and my skin tingled pleasurably.

"You can just put the plates there, I'll deal with it in the morning," Edward said casually, dropping his hand. I nodded instead of speaking, not trusting my voice not to wobble. I turned to him, waiting for him to put the food away in the fridge.

"Would you like a cup of coffee or something?" he asked me as he closed the fridge door.

"Uhm, tea would be nice," I said, shrugging my shoulders. Edward nodded and filled the kettle with water, setting it to boil.

"Alice, Jazz?" he called over his shoulder. "Do you want coffee or something?"

"Yes, please," we heard in unison from the living room.

As Edward busied himself taking out mugs, I looked around the kitchen. I envied him enormously for it. If I could design the kitchen of my dreams, it would look like this; all stainless steel and marble countertops, dark cheery-wood cabinets and the latest appliances.

The silence between us wasn't awkward or anything, but I still felt like I should say something.

"I love your home," I offered gently. He looked up from measuring out the coffee and smiled.

"We moved in here after-…" He abruptly stopped, and lowered his eyes back to the countertop. He cleared his throat, and with a small shake of his head he continued. "After Emily left us."

The silence rang louder than before. "Emily… Maddie's mom?" I asked quietly, hoping I wouldn't upset him.

He nodded, pouring the water from the kettle. He quickly glanced up at me as he poured water into a mug for my tea and smiled slightly. "It's ok – she left a long time ago. It's harder on Maddie than it is on me."

I nodded, picking at my fingernails. "It was like that for me too."

Edward placed my mug in front of me gently, and when I looked up he had a mild questioning look on his face. I smiled quickly. "My mom left us when I was three," I explained.

Edward frowned sympathetically. "I'm sorry."

Before I could respond, Alice came wandering back into the kitchen. "How's the coffee coming along?"

Five minutes later we were sitting out on the balcony, enjoying the view. The conversation was light and carefree and before I knew it, over an hour had passed and the ending music from The Little Mermaid came floating through the air. Edward made to stand up, presumably to put Maddie to bed, but Alice beat him too it again.

"It's alright, I'll do it," she said as she walked through the glass sliding door. A few moments later she returned with a very sleepy Maddie. She went up to Edward as she yawned.

"G'night, daddy," she mumbled sleepily, raising her arms. Edward scooted forward in his seat so that he could hug her.

"Good night, sweetheart," he said, kissing her forehead.

Next, Maddie made her way over to me. "Good night, Bella. Can Jake play with me again soon?" she asked as I hugged her.

I glanced at Edward over her shoulder, and he gave a small shrug. "Of course, sweetie," I said to her. "Sweet dreams."

Maddie turned to follow Alice out the door, but stopped in front of Jasper. "Uncle Jazz, can you read my bed-time story with auntie Alice? You make better voices," she said matter-of-factly. Jasper chuckled and nodded.

"Sure thing, darling," he said as he stood up. He picked her up and carried her back into the apartment with Alice walking behind them.

I smiled after them, loving that I was connecting with my old buddy again, and his wife.

"Thank you, Bella," Edward suddenly said. I turned my head to look at him, my eyebrows raised in question.

"For what?"

He ran a hand through his hair. "For today. For finding Maddie, and not just leaving her for someone else to deal with."

I snorted. "Of course I wouldn't do that."

He smiled. "I know." He paused as he looked at me closely. "She really likes you, Bella. I've never seen her so comfortable with anyone outside of our family."

I blinked, surprised. "Oh?"

He nodded. "She's never really warmed up to anyone that way before. I don't know if it's because of your dog or because you smell really pretty…" He grinned at me as I laughed softly, remembering Maddie's words from earlier.

"I used to be like that too when I was younger. I had no interest in getting to know new people," I said. Edward looked at me.

"Because of your mom?"

I shrugged. "That probably had something to do with it."

"Do you know why she left?" he asked me. "If you don't mind me asking."

"No, not at all," I assured him. "Renee left because… she didn't like how her life had played out. She was young when she had me, and even younger at heart. She wasn't ready to be a mother, even though she tried. Eventually, she just gave up and left. She taped a note on the fridge for dad, apologising. We haven't heard from her since."

I ran my fingers through my hair as I recounted it. Edward's green eyes studied me.

"That must have been hard for you, growing up."

I shrugged. "Sometimes. I missed her, but Charlie was a great dad, and Sue, his new wife, was a better mother than I ever could have asked for. When I was younger I resented Renee for just leaving me, but over the years it's gotten easier. Now I just think it's her loss."

Edward smiled and nodded. "That's a good way to look at it." He paused, and his smile slowly left his face. "I hope Maddie can do the same."

I repeated his words from earlier. "Do you know why she left? If you don't mind me asking."

He chuckled once as he traced the lines in the wood of his armrest. "No, I don't mind. Emily left because she wasn't happy with her life, or with me."

He looked up at me as he continued. "We met in high school and dated throughout, went off to college together, shared an apartment." He sighed heavily. "I asked her to marry me when we were 23, because I thought it was the right thing to do. Not because I loved her more than anything in the world, or because she felt that way about me. We just kinda… settled. And a year later, Maddie was born."

He smiled gently. "When Emily first told me she was pregnant, I was scared shitless. It wasn't planned or anything, and I didn't know if we were ready. Emily shared some of my same fears, but as time went on and I became accustomed to the idea of being a dad, I found myself really excited. But Emily…" He shook his head slowly. "She became angry. I had to walk on eggshells around her, as any little thing I did could set her off. We argued almost every day. On more than one occasion I thought about leaving her, but I just couldn't bring myself to walk out on my child like that."

I nodded silently, absorbed in his story.

"After Maddie was born, Emily tried to be a good mother to her, but she… she just couldn't. When Maddie was six months old, I took her to visit my parents over a weekend. Emily claimed she had to work. When we came back, she was gone. She left two notes, one for me and one for Maddie, explaining why she did it."

He sighed. "Personally, I wasn't too upset that she left me. I didn't really love her anymore, and we weren't happy together. I just hated that she left Maddie without a mother. I'm always worried that I… that I'm not enough."

I reached over and placed my hand on his, and even though my skin tingled and my whole body reacted to touching him, I pushed those feelings aside. "Edward, you have managed to raise an amazing little girl, all on your own. Anyone can see just how much you love her. I think it's amazing that you make sure you two spend some time together during the weekends, that you try to do something fun for her. Believe me, I know – that kind of father-daughter time will give her some of her best memories of being a kid."

I squeezed his hand gently, and he nodded in thanks. I didn't want to let go of him just yet, but I was quickly approaching the point where 'comforting' turns into 'weird' so I took my hand back and placed it in my lap. "I'm not saying that she won't miss having a mother, but I do think you more than make up for her absence."

Edward looked at me for a long moment before speaking quietly. "I hope you're right."

After another moment of silence, Edward started asking me about my collage days – where did I go, what did I study, what was my roommate like… He told me stories in return, but I noticed that none of them included Emily. I recognised and respected his need to change the subject, to not think about her anymore, and I did my best to take his mind of it.

Alice and Jasper came back out a while later, and I glanced at my watch.

"I should probably head home," I said, a bit hesitantly. I didn't really want to leave – I was having a great time with Edward, and I didn't want to give that up. I probably wouldn't have a reason to meet him like this again. I knew I had promised Maddie she could play with Jake again soon, but what was I supposed to do? Set up a play-date?

"Ok, I'll show you out," Edward said, getting up from his seat as I rose.

It took a bit of encouragement to get Jake to wake up and follow me to the door, but once there I lingered in the doorway with Edward. If I didn't know any better, I'd say he didn't really want me to leave either.

"So… Thank you again, Bella, for everything."

"Yeah, no, thank you, for dinner and everything."

We both trailed off as we stood there, looking at each other. I desperately wanted him to say something along the lines of 'Bella, I find you devastatingly attractive – wanna go to the movies with me or something?'. But he didn't. And I was too chicken-shit to ask him myself.

"Ok, well, I'm gonna go then… bye, Edward. Have a nice night." I turned and opened the door, stepping out into the hallway.

"Bye, Bella. Drive safe," he said. I looked at him one last time and smiled, hiding the twinge of disappointment I felt. He stood in the doorway, watching me as I walked over to the elevators further down the hall.

Just as I pressed the button, I heard the soft click of a door shutting. I sighed sadly, but jumped when Edward suddenly called out my name.

"Bella, wait," he said, jogging up to me. I turned to face him. "Look, I- uhm….," he stammered in front of me, before running an aggravated hand through his hair. "Fuck, why is this so hard?" He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. "Ok, look – I haven't been on a single date since Emily, so I might be a bit rusty with this, but… I really feel like I want to get to know you better, Bella. So uhm, wou-would you like to go to dinner with me sometime?"

My heart stopped for a second at his words. When it resumed beating, I was sure it would break a rib.

He opened his eyes to look at me just as a giant smile spread on my face.

"I'd love to," I told him happily, watching a relieved grin grow on his face. We probably looked like two idiots, standing in front of the elevators, smiling over what seemed like nothing.

The elevator doors opened behind me and I quickly stepped in but stopped the doors from closing. "Give me your phone," I told Edward.

A moment later I saved my number and gave the phone back to him. "Give me a call," I said, still smiling like an idiot. Edward looked up at me and smiled like an idiot too.

"I will. Bye, Bella."

I stepped back even more and let the doors close. "Bye, Edward," I said just before they met in the middle, enjoying my last look of his beautiful face.


I had rushed Jake over to my neighbour's place a few minutes before Edward said he would pick me up for our date. I took to pacing in my hallway, clutching my purse for dear life. I really wanted this date to work out. Not just because my dry spell had been going on for over a year – more than 12 fucking months – but because Edward was just… perfect.

I jumped when there was a knock on my door. I took a deep, trembling breath and dragged my hands down my body, straightening out my blue dress one last time.

Edward was glorious, standing outside my door. He was smiling shyly at me, but as soon as his eyes left my face, raking down my body, his expression went comically blank, his chin dropping just a little.

I felt a furious blush creeping up my cheeks as he so obviously checked me out. A few seconds of silence passed before Edward suddenly shook his head a little, blinking rapidly.

"Uh, sorry…!" he said, wincing a little as he realised he had been staring at me. "Uhm, hi. Bella, you look… uhm – wow."

I looked down as I smiled so hugely I though my face might burst. "Thank you. You don't look too shabby yourself," I said, looking up at him. And he really didn't. His hair was still just as wild, his face was still just as attractive, and his body was still just so incredibly… yummy.

He held his arm out to me. "I made reservations at my favourite restaurant… Shall we?"

I smiled and took his arm.

Edward was a true gentleman all evening; he opened doors for me, helped me in and out of the car, pulled out my chair – the works. I was feeling extremely well taken care of by the time our food arrived.

Our conversation flowed easily as we talked about our careers, our hobbies and discussed our favourite movies and music. I found myself loving Edward's rather humble view on the accomplishments he had made in his life, his evident passion as he discussed music and the pure joy that shone out of his eyes whenever Maddie was mentioned.

I was thoroughly enjoying his company, and I hoped he felt the same about me. It would be really bad if he regretted asking me out. As the evening wore on, I found myself more than just physically attracted to him – I could really see myself having something… more than just friendship with Edward in the future.

After dinner we decided to take a walk – I had a feeling neither one of us wanted the evening to end just yet.

"So what's Maddie doing tonight?" I asked as we strolled down the pier, stopping about halfway to lean on the railing.

"She's at a sleep-over birthday party," he answered, turning his head to look at me. "Her third one this month. There are another two planned within the next four weeks." He shook his head. "I just made it easier on myself and bought five different kinds of Barbie's in one go."

I laughed. "Ah yes, the mandatory Barbie - I remember those." I paused and giggled as I remembered my own childhood memories. "Jasper was always secretly envious that he never got to go to one of those parties."

Edward laughed loudly. "I can imagine," he chuckled.

I looked at him, leaning with his forearms against the railing, gazing out at the water. With the sun setting slowly, casting its last rays over the water, it really was a beautiful evening.

"I had a really great time tonight, Edward," I said quietly. He looked at me with a smile and nodded.

"Me too." He suddenly laughed down his nose a little. "But fuck if I wasn't nervous as hell."

I laughed and nodded my head. "Me too."

He glanced quickly at me, smirking.

I bit my lip in hesitation. There was a question I had been dying to ask him ever since he first mentioned it, and now seemed like the perfect opportunity, but I didn't want to seem too pushy.

Edward studied me closely as I debated with myself, and he chuckled quietly. "I can practically see the wheels turning in your head, Bella." He looked at me knowingly. "What is it?"

I hesitated for a second longer, before sighing in defeat. "Is this honestly the first date you've been on since Emily?"

Edward's eyebrows rose in confusion for a second before he laughed loudly. "Oh shit, I really said that, didn't I?" He dragged a hand through his hair as he chuckled away, looking a little embarrassed. "Uhm, yeah, it is."

I shook my head in disbelief. "I- I mean… why?"

Edward shrugged, still looking amused. "It took a while before I even considered myself ready to do start dating again. But even after that it just… didn't happen anyway. At first it was because I was so busy, with my job and raising Maddie, that I didn't have time to really date. And then I realised that I couldn't just casually start dating – I couldn't keep bringing different women into Maddie's life like that. I would need to find someone I actually liked before I started dating her." He paused and looked down at his clasped hands.

My heart was sputtering hysterically in my chest as he spoke. Was he saying what I think he was saying? Was I that someone? Oh, please say I'm that someone!

"And I never did…" he trailed off quietly, before looking up at me, "… until now."

I couldn't breathe. I felt myself blushing under his gaze, and I couldn't stop a smile from spreading on my face. I ducked my head, trying to stop myself from trembling with happiness. He actually likes me!

I thought I heard a sigh of relief from Edward, and I looked up to see him smiling at me, which just made me even happier – my happiness at hearing that he liked me in turn made him happy and relieved. Yay!

The silence between us was comfortable, and I decided to take a little leap of faith and shift closer to him. Our shoulders touched gently, and Edward's smile grew wider.

As if being on a date with Edward wasn't amazing enough, learning that I was the only woman he'd met in five years that he liked enough to want to ask out on a date just made it so much better. I couldn't really believe he thought of me like that.

But then another thought struck me that had the potential to but a slight damper on my mood.

"So, wait, wait…," I said. "I get the whole 'no-dating' thing, but what about… uhm, other… encounters?" I glanced sideways at him, hoping he'd understand what I was talking about.

The light may have been dim, but I could still see the blush in his cheeks. "Uhm, n-no… none of, eh, those…" He trailed off, purposefully not looking at me.

I stood up straight in shock. "Wait. So you mean to tell me that in five years you haven't been with anyone in any way?" I stared at him open-mouthed.

He glanced at me quickly, and after a second of hesitation, he nodded.

"Wha- are you serious? Five years?" I dragged a hand through my hair. "Jesus. And I thought 14 months was bad."

Edward's head snapped around to look at me, and I blushed when I realised I had just given away how long my dry spell had been. Which, in comparison, was miniscule really. I couldn't even begin to imagine what five years without sex would be like. Edward stood up slowly and turned his back on the water, leaning against the railing. I suddenly felt a lot more respect for him.

"14 months, huh?" His gaze was all of a sudden a lot more intense than I was used to and I felt my body reacting to it. Involuntarily my heart beat harder, my lungs demanded more air and my skin tingled with a need to be touched. I could not only see his eyes raking over my body, I could feel the fire in his gaze, burning down my sides, over my hips, caressing my legs.

I nodded dumbly to answer his question, but found myself unable to speak. Apparently, when you put two sexually frustrated people together and make them both aware of said sexual frustration, you end up with a sexual tension so thick you can cut it with a knife. I knew he was thinking about sex. He knew I was thinking about sex. And, inevitably, I was thinking about sex… with Edward.

Just the thought of finally ending my dry spell with Edward was enough to send my blood thrumming through my veins, making certain neglected parts of me throb with want.

I tried to keep my eyes on his face, but they continuously strayed down his chest and stomach, coming to rest on the bulge in his pants. No matter how much I tried, I couldn't stop imaging myself reaching over to him and unbuckling his belt, popping the button, pulling down the zipper and just… Oh good god

"Bella… you need to stop looking at me like that…" Edward groaned quietly. I looked up and met his eyes. I swallowed hard. There was so much lust shining out of the green depths that I felt my own just about double in intensity. In that moment, there was nothing I wanted more than Edward.

"Why?" I whispered, not able to make my voice any louder.

Slowly he pushed away from the railing and took a single step towards me. He was so close that I could feel the warmth of his body, rolling off him.

"Because the very small amount of self-control I feel around you is already slipping, and if you keep that up I don't know how the hell I'm gonna keep my hands off you," he told me, his voice dark and rough with the need he was struggling to suppress.

I firmly grasped the small amount of courage I had and ran with it. "And what if I don't want you to keep your hands off?" I asked, my voice heavy with suggestion and my growing need for him.

He closed his eyes just as a low groan rumbled in his chest. I gasped quietly at the sound and the way it made my whole body tremble.

"Bella…" he groaned.

I bit my lip and made a quick decision. I knew what I wanted.

I raised my hand and gently laid it right over his heart. I watched with fascination as his chest started rising and falling more rapidly. I shivered when I felt his warm hand suddenly being placed over my ribs, sliding slowly around to my back.

Edward's eyes opened as I stepped closer to him, pressing my whole body to his. He looked down at me with such longing that without even thinking I uttered the only though currently running through my mind.

"Kiss me," I whispered.

Still keeping his eyes firmly locked with mine, he raised his other hand and cupped my cheek. He caressed the skin with his thumb as he slowly leaned his head towards me. I raised up on my toes a little to meet him.

His lips touched mine gently, and a sigh of relief escaped me. I hadn't even realised just how much I wanted this until it was happening. Our lips started moving languidly together, and I thrilled at feeling his soft lips pressed to mine – they felt heavenly.

It really had been too long since I did this.

And with that thought, I pressed myself closer to him, raising my arms to wrap them around his neck. There was only one thing I wanted right now, and that was Edward.

His hand slid into my hair as he started kissing me with a little bit more force, and a breathy moan slid out as I parted my lips and used my tongue to caress his bottom lip. He immediately opened his mouth to me, and our tongues met in a gentle battle that gradually became more frenzied as the kiss deepened.

We were both breathing heavily when Edward took his lips from mine a few minutes later, resting his forehead against mine.

"Bella…" he panted. "I just want you to know… that I'm not doing this… just because I haven't had sex in five years."

"No, I know," I panted back, trying vainly to calm my racing heart.

"I really do like you… and I just need you to know… that I have every intention of taking you out again… regardless of what happens now," he told me, his voice still breathless and rough.

"Good, because I really like you too, and I'd hate for this to be a one-time thing," I answered before pressing my lips back to his. He groaned into my mouth and wrapped his arms firmly around me. I moaned as I felt his hard bulge against me, and I ground my hips into him, desperate for some friction.

A few minutes of frantic hip grindings and kissing later, we were both more than ready to change locations.

"Edward…?" I moaned as he placed searing kisses on my jaw and throat.

"Mm?" he hummed against my skin, making me gasp.

"Your place or mine?"

His lips stilled against me for a few seconds, before he slowly spoke. "Mine's closer."

And with that I grasped his hand firmly and dragged him back down the pier.

20 minutes later Edward screeched to a halt in front of his building and we both practically flew out of the car.

He grasped my hand as we walked through the doors and into the lobby, and he impatiently hit the button for the elevator five times. I grew impatient and turned to kiss him, flinging my arms around his neck and pressing my lips to his. Seconds later the elevator dinged behind me, and Edward walked me backwards until I hit the wall.

He quickly let go of me to press the button for his floor, but turned back around within seconds, grasping me firmly to him. Our kissing was desperate and hungry, our moans and groans filling the tiny space as we rubbed our bodies together.

Edward's hand travelled down my side and over my hip, grabbing my leg firmly and hitching it up around his hip.

"Edward!" I moaned against his lips as he was able to press himself harder against my aching centre. He growled into my mouth and thrust his hips against me. I whimpered at the delicious contact.

I was just about ready to rip his clothes off when the doors dinged and opened. Edward let go of my leg and grasped my hand instead.

We half-walked, half-ran down the hall to his apartment. Edward nearly dropped his keys as he struggled to open his door. We didn't even bother to turn on the lights.

He lifted me up into his arms after locking the door behind him, and I squealed in surprise as I wrapped my legs around his waist. He kissed me passionately as he started walking through the apartment, his hands firmly cupping my ass.

Without breaking our kiss, he lowered me down onto the floor when we reached his bedroom and I immediately started working on the damn buttons on his shirt. He reached behind me and pulled down the zipper on my dress, sliding his hands under the fabric to caress my naked skin. I sucked on his tongue and bit down on his lip, completely desperate at this point. I needed him so badly it almost hurt.

I kicked off my shoes, only dimly recognising the relief of stepping out of my heels, just as I got the final button on Edward's shirt. We broke apart just long enough to wrench the clothes from our bodies. Both of us froze as we looked at each other – me staring at his muscular chest and amazing abs, drooling over the v-shape peaking up from his pants, while he shamelessly ogled my breasts in the lacy bra I was wearing before his gaze shifted down to the matching lace hipsters hugging my curves.

"Oh god Bella, you're beautiful…" he gasped reverently as he looked me over.

"Edward, please – I need you so much," I moaned, reaching out for him. Without a second of hesitation he stepped up to me, kissing me with so much passion I could barely breathe.

While I busied myself with his belt, Edward made quick work of unclasping my bra. He pulled it from my body without breaking our kiss, and I moaned loudly against him as he palmed me. My nipples were rock hard against his warm palms, and the contact felt amazing. Bolts of pure pleasure were shooting down through my stomach to my aching pussy as Edward started pinching my nipples.

I got his pants unzipped and I pushed them down his hips as I heard Edward kicking off his shoes. He broke away from our kiss to pull off his socks, but quickly straightened back up and crashed his lips to mine again. I moaned uncontrollably as I felt his hands fisting the flimsy lace around my hips and he almost ripped them in his hurry to push them down my legs.

With an impatience I was fucking thankful for, Edward's long fingers immediately cupped my dripping sex as soon as my panties fell to the floor.

I cried out against him as his fingers slid against my wet flesh, stroking me frantically. To feel fingers that for once weren't my own rubbing my clit was amazing. Loud moans made their way out of me as the delicious sensations danced across my skin, trembled in my muscles and burned in my bones.

"Fuck…" we both moaned as he pushed two fingers into me. I clung to his shoulders for dear life as my knees wobbled underneath me. I was practically cumming already.

"Edward, I need you," I cried out against his lips, making him groan. He pulled his fingers from me and with a move so fast I almost missed it, his boxers were lying in a pile on the floor and his hard, throbbing cock was pressed against my stomach without the barriers of clothes.

We walked backwards until the back of my knees hit the bed and I pulled Edward with me as I shuffled my way across it.

"We need… a condom," Edward groaned between kisses as I opened my legs wide for him.

I shook my head quickly. "I get the shot," I said, pulling him to me.

A deep groan ripped from Edward's chest as he pressed himself against me, his erection dangerously close to where we both needed him to be. "Jesus fuck… Oh god, Bella, I won't last long," he moaned as he started kissing my throat frantically.

"Me neither," I moaned back, arching tightly against him. I reached down between us and grasped his hard length, guiding him to me. He raised his head and looked me in the eyes as he lined himself up with my wet pussy.

"Bella," he whispered as he started pushing forward, the head of his cock slipping inside. We both moaned loudly as he pushed further, slowly, revelling in being filled and enveloped. "Bella, Bella… " He continued to whisper my name until I had taken as much of him as I could.

We froze our movements, panting as if we were running a marathon. His hard length within me was the most amazing thing I had ever experienced and the sensations were overwhelming me. It looked as if Edward was experiencing the same thing as we panted against each other's lips.

A tremble was slowly spreading through my body as the seconds passed, my orgasm building despite the lack of movement. I raised my head and pressed my lips hard against his, making the first thrust with my hips. He groaned deeply and he pulled back from me, pushing in with an exquisite force.

I moaned his name against his lips, raising my legs to wrap them around him as he slowly found his rhythm. His first few thrusts felt almost experimental, as if he was trying to remember how exactly to do this, but soon his glorious cock was sliding in and out of me in a way that could only be described as perfection.

"Oh, fuck Edward, yes… ah, ah, fuck me, you feel so good!" I slammed my hips against him, making him groan loudly.

"Ah, Christ… so tight and… uh, ahfuck, wet… Bella, oh god," he rambled against my lips, thrusting his tongue into my mouth as he picked up the pace with his hips.

I was dimly aware of his headboard banging against the wall as we moved – not much else besides Edward's body above mine and his cock within me was making its way into my consciousness.

"Fuck me harder, Edward… oh, yes! I'm so close… ahh!" I cried out to him, feeling my orgasm approaching fast. I felt it building and building, my blood thrumming and racing all over my body, my breathes coming in quick harsh gasps. It felt so powerful I was almost afraid to let go, but Edward's thrusts were relentless.

Our hips were now slamming together as we raced towards the edge. My nails were digging into his back and he bit down hard on my shoulder before groaning loudly.

"Fuck yes, Bella… You feel so good, so tight around my cock," he panted against my throat, placing open-mouthed kisses there.

"Edward, yes! Yes, yes, oh god, yes!" I cried out.

"Oh, uh, fuuuck! Come, Bella, please!" he begged me, thrusting wildly into me as he fisted the bed sheet underneath us.

"Oh, oh, uhnnng!" I groaned wildly, gasping for air as my whole body tensed up, preparing to explode. "Edward!" I screamed as the first wave of my orgasm crashed down on me, and I bucked against him violently, as wave after wave rolled through me, constricting my lungs and making it impossible for me to breathe.

Even through my orgasm, I could feel Edward's cock growing larger and harder within me, and seconds later he cried out, the sound ripping violently from his chest. His thrusts were hard and uncontrolled as he released into me, helping me ride out the final waves still crashing through my body.

Edward collapsed heavily on top of me, both of us struggling for breath. I couldn't stop the moans from slipping over my lips as we lay there, neither one of having enough energy to move.

"That was… amazing… Bella," Edward panted hard against my throat. "Jesus Christ… it felt like my heart… was being ripped out… from my chest… fuck," he groaned.

"I know…" I moaned, still clenching rhythmically around him.

After a minute we had both regained our breathing skills, and he placed lazy kisses across my shoulder and up my neck until his lips met mine. We kissed slowly and gently, taking our time to enjoy it.

It could have been seconds, minutes or hours later – I wasn't really paying attention to the time – when I froze mid-kiss. I pulled back and stared at Edward incredulously.

At first he looked a little confused, but it was quickly replaced by a boastful smirk as he realised what I was reacting to. He chuckled slowly, and with a cocked eyebrow, he lazily rocked his hips against me. I gasped as his yet again hard cock moved in me, sending shots of pleasure racing all over my body.

"What?" he asked as he fell into a slow and languid rhythm, moving against me.

"H-how… how is that even possible?" I asked him, my hips rising of their own accord to meet his. Another gasp fell from my lips as he filled me again.

He grinned his crocked smile and shook his head a little. "Five years, Bella… five years," was all he said. He bent his head and started kissing my neck.

"Oh, ok," I answered breathlessly as I wrapped my arms more firmly around him, moving with him. Our moans and gasps echoed together around the dark room as we lost ourselves in each other, once again. All I could hope was that it wouldn't be the last time either, and as Edward moaned my name as he climaxed, I swore to myself to make sure of it.

Alright, there you go! Hope you liked it, and are interested in continuing to read it.

And since a few people have asked about this, I will say that you will of course get to know more about Edward's tattoo as the story progresses. I did leave it out of this chapter on purpose, but I wouldn't be so mean as to never mention it again. Fear not - all will be revealed in time.

Thanks for taking the time to read, and I hope you'll be here whenever the next chapter updates.