Love and thanks to the following people:
For Aruni, who offers her wisdom. For our Red Pen Goddesses: Maylin, AzureEyed1, and Genny910 for always finding time to make the words look pretty. And to the always supportive inhabitants of UUtopia.
Song for Chapter 13:
"Wishlist" – Pearl Jam
Another long wait… we know. Real life continues to be a priority, so we appreciate your understanding and patience. With that said, we think this update is worth the wait. See you at the bottom.
Rated M for language and possible future, well, you know. If you're not old enough to buy mature rated materials, you shouldn't be reading this (and your parents should install Net Nanny.)
Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight, obviously.
I laughed and hugged Alice back. "You just know it, huh?"
She unwrapped her arms from my waist and reached for the door handle. "Yep. I feel really good about this. I really do."
"Well good, so do I. Any idea what the plan is?"
"Some people are still getting ready, so I think it'll be a little while yet."
We relaxed on the chaise lounges and chatted about her plans to move in with Jasper, then she tried to get more details out of me about the night before. I told her that I was hoping to take Bella out on an actual date in the next few days, and she got really excited and recommended a few nice restaurants.
Eventually Garrett, Kate, and Tyler joined us. Tyler sat down on the steps. "Mike and Jess should be out soon enough. Lauren decided to come too."
He looked a little annoyed, and I stifled a laugh; then I began to look around for my shoes. I'd left them outside the night before since they were damp from our run through the rain. Garrett was sitting in an armchair by the door, and I caught his eye. "Hey G, can you hand me my shoes. I left them over there by the door last night."
He looked all around where he sat on the deck but shook his head. "I don't see them dude. Not over here."
I stood up and walked around the end of Alice's lounge chair. "Well, I know I left them right outside the door last night."
Sure enough they were nowhere to be found. Garrett got up to help me look for them and eventually so did Alice and Kate.
"Uh oh." I looked over to see Kate leaning over the porch railing looking down into the bushes next to the porch. "Found 'em."
I walked over to stand next to her and looked down. Sure enough, there were my shoes, clearly soaking wet and covered in mud. They'd obviously been blown off the deck by the heavy winds in the storm the night before and had fallen into the bushes, directly under the overhang of the roof where rain washed over them all night long.
Garrett walked up next to us and looked down before he started to chuckle. "Dude they're soaked."
I walked down the stairs and climbed through the bushes to dig my shoes out of the wet weeds and mud.
I picked one up and tipped it over. "Ya think?" A trickle of water poured out of the heel of the shoe. "I think I'm going to have to bail on the hike today, folks. These are the only other shoes I brought." I pointed at the black sports sandals I was wearing; they weren't really conducive to hiking.
Alice gave me a sympathetic look. "Want me hang out with you? We could play a game or something."
I shook my head, "No. It's a beautiful day; you guys go and enjoy."
I nodded. "Yep. I'm good. Not to worry."
I wished them all a good hike and headed inside for my iPod and a beach towel. Then I dragged a lounge chair down by the water, stretched out, and listened to some music.
I thought about Bella and our night together. For the first time, in a long time, I was looking forward to the direction of my future. I still had a lot of decisions to make, like where I was going to be living next, but at least I felt like I was moving in the right direction.
It didn't seem like much time had passed at all, but I must have dozed off at some point because a cool hand on my sun-heated shoulder woke me with a start. I jumped and my head snapped up from where I'd let it rest on the back of the chair.
Bella was smiling down at me. "Hey sleepyhead."
"Hey!" My voice was thick with sleep, and I cleared my throat. "What are you doing back already?"
Her nose crinkled up and she frowned. "I had to come back early."
"Uh oh. What happened?"
Her frowned deepened, and she held up a scraped knee for me to see. I hissed and sat up, swinging my legs to either side of the lounge chair so she could sit in front of me, and I held out my hand to her. "Oh honey, come here and let me see."
She sat down, and I pulled her leg up along my side with her knee right in front of me. The scrapes weren't bad, but it was pretty dirty. "Does it hurt much?"
"No. I wanted to keep going but Jasper made me come back."
"Well I'm glad he did, even if it was for a minor injury. At least I get to spend some more time with you." I leaned forward and kissed her lips.
She giggled, "Yeah I know, that's the only reason I didn't put up more of an argument."
"Oh really? Well then come here." I wrapped one arm around her waist and the other under her thigh. I pulled her forward while I slid myself closer to her at the same time so that her legs could wrap around my waist. She squealed and laughed as she met me for a kiss.
Kissing her was one of the most amazing experiences. She was soft and reciprocating. When I moved in, she was open to me, and when I pulled back, she'd move with me again. It wasn't long before my hands were moving like they had a mind of their own, up her thighs and over her hips to her sides. I had just enough presence of mind to realize that if she tried to straddle me she'd be rubbing her sore knee into the cushion, so I leaned forward and tried to lay her backwards. She resisted just a little and pulled her mouth from mine, "Jasper."
I pulled back and stared at her in confusion. "Excuse me?"
"He came back with me. He's getting some things from the house."
"Oh," I kissed her again, chastely. "Damn."
She chuckled. "You thought we were alone."
"And what exactly did you have in mind, Edward?"
I grinned wickedly and wiggled my eyebrows. "You'll have to wait and see."
She cocked her head to the side. "Wait for when?"
We heard a door behind us, and she glanced up toward the house. I lifted her off me and turned her sideways on the chair. "Well, how about we rent a movie tonight. Just you and me?"
She grinned. "Your place or mine?"
I licked my lips. "Careful how you phrase that. With our current living arrangements, one could presume you were referring to which bedroom."
She smacked my chest playfully. "You wish."
Her gaze shifted to over my shoulder as Jasper approached.
I heard his footsteps just before his voice. "Okay, I got a bag of ice, a bottle of water and I found your first aid kit, Edward. Anything else you need?"
"Uh, no that should do it." I was surprised that he'd brought back so much stuff for a minor abrasion, and it made me wonder if there was more to this story than a little scraped knee.
She sighed, "It's not that bad. Like I said, I was going to put a band-aid on it and keep going, but Jasper made me come back."
I glanced at Jasper, and he nodded. "I know it isn't, but you went down hard. I thought maybe you should ice it."
I reached out for her calf again and pulled her knee over so I could look for any other more serious signs of injury or swelling. "Let me see this."
I looked up and saw Bella roll her eyes, then I looked at Jasper and he caught my eye. His mouth was pulled back in a tight look of concern. Yeah, there was definitely more to this story then she was telling me.
I cleared my throat. "Well lets get this cleaned up. And if you went down on your knee it couldn't hurt to ice it for a bit just in case."
She looked annoyed. "Seriously? It's not that bad!"
I was leaning over her knee and raised my eyes to give her a small smile that I'd known to be charming and effective on women in the past. "Just humor me? Please?"
She scowled at me but finally rolled her eyes until she was looking off at the water. She muttered a soft, "Fine."
I cleaned up her knee quickly and put a bandage on it. "Here, sit back and relax. Hey Jasper, want to help me bring down a couple more chairs and some drinks while we wait for everyone to get back?"
He'd been standing down by the water tossing rocks, and I hoped that I could get a little more information from him about what happened. He strolled in our direction. "Sure."
I gave her a quick kiss and told her we'd be back in a few. She nodded, leaned her head back, and closed her eyes, tipping her face up into the sun.
I waited until we were out of earshot before I glanced at him. "So what happened?"
He looked back over his shoulder at Bella, and his eyebrows pulled together in a thoughtful expression. "I don't know. It really wasn't that big a deal, I just got nervous with her out there."
"Why? Was it that difficult?"
He shook his head. "No, not any harder than some of the trails we've hiked before. She's really good at it actually. She was already a pretty active trail runner when Alice and I started dating, and then we went out on a couple of climbs, and she's a natural. She's way better than Alice and seems to like it more, too. It became our thing--our common ground."
I nodded. I didn't really know this side of Bella, but it didn't surprise me. I remembered how much she loved running the woods back in Forks.
After a couple of minutes Jasper continued, "Well we haven't been out on a good hike in a couple of months, so I wasn't surprised that it might take a few minutes to get her rhythm, but something was just off."
We'd reached the cottage, and I followed him inside. "Like what?"
He scratched his head while he thought about it. "She seemed sort of unsteady on her feet. And, I hate to say, maybe a little out of shape? She got winded quickly."
I nodded slowly. "Okay, you said its been a couple of months and she hasn't been feeling well, so that's not surprising."
"Yeah, but that's not all. You see, when you're climbing like that you always need to be looking ahead. You gotta know what your next steps are going to be and where you're reaching. Sometimes you can't go straight up, you have to move to the side to get to the next landing. It's something I've never had to explain to her--she just got it. But today, she seemed to have tunnel vision, like she could only see what was right in front of her."
I was trying to understand what he was saying, but it was hard to follow.
He shook his head. "At one point I was above her, and I dropped the rope down to her so she could pull herself up. Only there was a big rock formation over her, so it fell off to her left. She was looking right up at me, but she never saw the rope fall beside her. She just kept looking right at me, like she was still waiting for it. When I pointed it out to her, she just laughed it off. But it was weird, dude. I don't know, I just got nervous, and then when she tripped, I was relieved because we were just about to start the really tough part, and I wasn't feeling good about it at all."
I nodded. "Well I'm glad you got her to come back. I never liked the idea to begin with."
Jasper grinned. "Yeah, I kind of got that. But honestly, I never would have taken her out there if I didn't think she could handle it. Normally she would have climbed those trails like a monkey. I don't know what was going on with her, but she looked like a first-timer out there."
I shrugged. "Okay, well at least you got her back in one piece, mostly. Let's get those drinks and go relax for a while. My guess is that she's still dealing with residual effects from the sinus infection. If it was as bad as I imagine, it might need a stronger antibiotic, and if she still has fluid in her ears, the pressure from flying could cause some vertigo. Maybe that's all it is."
Jasper nodded. "Yeah, you're the doctor. I guess that makes sense."
We collected the drinks and chairs and walked back down to join Bella. We hung out and chatted while we waited for everyone else to come back. I never told her what Jasper had shared with me, and as the afternoon passed by I kept an eye on her. It wasn't hard since I found myself drawn to her, whatever we were doing. When we ate lunch, we sat together. When we packed up to leave, I carried her bags. In the van and when we were boarding our plane back to Seattle, she was right there next to me.
# # #
There had been one rule about this weekend: No cell phones. Everyone shut off their phones when we left Seattle and couldn't turn them back on until we returned. It was Rosalie's rule, and everyone was pretty good about it. Except Alice.
She'd commented several times about how much her clients would freak out of they couldn't reach her, and I know for a fact that she'd cheated at least once on Saturday. And the second the wheels touched down I heard the beeping sound of several phones being powered up. I dug mine out of my purse and flipped it on too. Pretty much everyone who would call me was with us anyway, except, of course, Charlie, Brady, and Alec. I fully expected that Alec might have called, but I wanted to make sure I hadn't missed anything else important.
Edward groaned next to me, "You too?"
I grinned and shrugged. "Sorry. Technology addict like the rest of them."
My phone chimed, and I glanced down in time to see the screen flash '3 Voicemails.'
"Brady would call you on a weekend? I know your job is a little different, but it seems like he'd be more of a Monday through Friday type of guy."
"Yeah, he usually is." I nodded and flipped through the menu to 'missed calls.' If anyone other than Alec had called, then I'd take the time to listen to the voicemails, but otherwise I wouldn't even bother. Alec and I would be having a chat soon enough, but I didn't need to put Edward through that right now.
Sure enough the list of missed calls was full of only one name: Alec.
I heard Edward exhale a breath and glanced up to see him clenching his jaw and eyeing my phone. Oops. I wasn't trying to hide anything and hadn't really thought about how it would make him feel to see that.
He quickly averted his gaze to look out the window, and I snapped the phone shut and dropped it back in my purse.
He glanced back at me, and his eyes flicked to my purse. "Aren't you going to listen to the voicemails?"
I couldn't meet his eyes and just shook my head and tried to act casual. "Not right now."
His tone turned hard. "You mean not with me sitting here?"
Trying not to get irritated, I sighed and reached out to squeeze his hand. I waited until his eyes met mine. "I will if you want me too."
He looked at me for a minute before he closed his eyes slowly. His hand ran through his hair, and he tugged at it in frustration while he took a breath. When he opened his eyes, they had turned soft again. "Sorry. No. You handle things with him however you need to. I trust you even if I don't trust him."
He nodded. "I'm sure."
Then he let go of my hand, stretched his arm over my shoulders, and pulled me against him before he leaned down to kiss the top of my head. It was his little affectionate gesture.
# # #
We piled out of the plane and headed to the parking lot. Tyler, Mike, and Jessica had all been dropped off in Port Angeles.
Lauren made a high-pitched squealing sound and said a hasty goodbye to all of us before she ran toward a red sportscar parked by the curb. There was a guy leaning against it and she ran up and threw herself into his arms. They kissed passionately for several seconds until he set her down and she climbed into the passenger seat.
We all stood there and watched it play out. As the car drove away Lauren waved happily out the window without a care in the world.
I looked at Rosalie. "Who the hell was that?"
Rosalie rolled her eyes. "That was Max. Max is her on-again, off-again boyfriend who treats her like shit but she can't get over. Apparently they're on again."
I arched my eyebrows. "And what about Tyler?"
Rose shook her head slowly. "I guarantee you Tyler was forgotten the second she saw Max standing there."
"You don't like Max, do you?"
"Nope. Max was Royce's friend ... and dealer."
"Does Lauren ...?"
Rosalie nodded. "Yeah, there's a reason Lauren can't get over Max."
I shook my head. "I'm sorry Rose. That has to be hard to watch."
She nodded. "Yeah, it is, but I learned a long time ago that you can't make choices for another person. She gets to choose how to live her life and, when the time comes, what's worth living for."
We kept walking to the cars when I froze with another thought. "Rose! What about Tyler? Could he have exposed himself to something?"
Rosalie shook her head. "Nah. I gave him the heads up and made sure he'd protect himself. Besides, she's only into coke so far. And, believe it or not, Max doesn't use; he just feeds other people's addictions."
# # #
As we were walking to the cars, Alice called Carlisle and Esme to let them know that we were on the ground. We were meeting them for dinner, and they were waiting to hear from us before they headed out.
We rode with Garrett and Kate to the restaurant. They had chosen a casual steakhouse restaurant since we were coming straight off the plane. By the time we arrived Carlisle and Esme were already waiting outside the front doors for us.
Edward pulled the car into a space and turned to me. "You ready for this?"
I was taking one last glance in the vanity mirror and flipped it up to look at him. "For what, dinner? Yeah, I'm starving."
He playfully smirked at me. "You know what I mean. My parents. They'll be surprised."
Garrett interrupted with a laugh, "Surprised? Dude they were afraid you guys were going to kill each other. When they find out you guys are planning on bumping uglies ..."
Edward's head whipped toward him. "Hixon, I swear to God if you use that phrase one more time they will have to medevac you back to Chicago."
Garrett had thrown his door open but paused before climbing out to listen to Edward's warning. "Oh sorry. Do you think your folks would prefer shagging? Snogging? A little pickle tickle? Doing the bump and grind? Hide the salami?"
Edward spun in his seat and tried to punch Garrett, but he was too quick and escaped out the door.
Edward turned back and stared out the windshield as he slowly shook his head and clenched his hands into fists. I watched him as he struggled with his irritation before I broke down into hysterics. "He really hasn't changed a bit has he? He's like a perpetually obnoxious seventeen-year-old."
He turned to me and began to chuckle as well. "You have no idea."
We could hear Garrett as he made his way across the parking lot. "Dr. C! Mrs. C! Wait until you hear what went down this weekend."
We exchanged matching looks of horror and both hissed, "Oh shit," before we hastily climbed out of the car and started after Garrett.
When I walked around the car, Edward was waiting with his hand held out for me. I glanced at it for a second, suddenly nervous. Edward sensed my hesitation, and I saw the flicker of doubt in his eyes before I smiled and reached out to take his hand firmly.
Garrett was talking animatedly as he hugged Esme and shook Carlisle's hand. They listened with attentive expressions and periodic glances in our direction as we made our approach.
"... We were just about to send out a search party when they finally drag their asses, pardon my French Esme, back to the cottage like a couple of drowned rats."
When we were within earshot, Edward cleared his throat in a very deliberate manner, and Garrett finally stopped talking. Everyone's gaze fell on Edward and me. Carlisle was wearing a polite, yet amused smile, but Esme was lit up like a Christmas tree. She was clasping her hands in front of her and nearly bouncing in a very Alice-like way.
Carlisle finally broke into a wide grin. "Edward, Bella, so you two are getting along okay, I take it?"
Edward chuckled. "No casualties so far, right Bella?"
I resisted the urge to hide behind him and escape the spotlight of Esme's stare, but I shook my head. "A few near misses, but nothing too serious."
Esme hugged us both and whispered quietly in my ear, "Its about damn time, my dear."
I gave her a questioning look, but she just grinned at me. Everyone else was joining us at this point so--thank goodness--she dropped it.
We all made our way inside and were quickly shown to our table. Edward only let go of my hand when he pulled out my chair for me. He took the one next to me, and everyone else spread out.
Throughout dinner, conversation ranged over topics like the weekend, the volleyball tournament, Lauren, the hiking, and the upcoming wedding.
Esme was sitting across from Edward, and I noticed that she was watching us intently. She had the same knowing twinkle that I frequently saw in Edward's eyes when he was amused, and Esme was indeed amused. When he casually reached over and rested one of his hands on my thigh, she saw it and met my eyes. I felt like my face was going to burst into flames and dropped my eyes to my plate.
I heard Esme clear her throat to begin speaking, and my flight instinct kicked in. But instead of the third degree that I'd been expecting, she turned toward the other end of the table. "So Garrett, Kate, what is your plan between now and the wedding? I hear you have quite the sight-seeing tour lined up."
I slowly exhaled and finally looked up. Kate was answering Esme, who was listening intently. She glanced my direction only once, and her small smile told me to relax. There would be no Spanish Inquisition in my immediate future.
Kate had been telling them where they were planning on visiting on the west coast; then she mentioned their departure plans. "We were going to leave tomorrow, but Garrett has to get fitted for his tux, and if we can make it all the way to Sacramento by the time we have to stop, we'll save on a night in a hotel. So, if it's alright with Alice, we were hoping to head out early Tuesday instead."
Alice never had a chance to answer her because Emmett's voice boomed from the end of the table, "Sweet! Rosie, think I could have the guys over tonight? It's time to resurrect the tripod. That includes you now too Jasper."
I snorted, "A tripod? Wouldn't that make it more like a table?"
He rolled his eyes. "Whatever. And, no actually, they do make a four-legged tripod, but that's really not the point. How about us guys do our thing tonight, and you girls go paint your toenails or whatever."
Alice gasped. "Yes! Twi- um, a really good movie just came out on DVD. We can rent it and have a girls night."
I groaned. Alice had been trying to get me to read a series of books that were basically a bored housewife's wet dream. Apparently, they were a must-read and were so good that the world would stop if I read them. It was one of the only times that I saw Alice blow off work. Now the novels were being made into a series of movies, but I had been boycotting both on principle. I went to college and worked my butt off to become a poorly paid romance author of a one-hit wonder and several stacks of false starts. I couldn't find it in me to pay homage to a housewife who'd stumbled into the kind of success that I could only fantasize about.
I looked at Edward and rolled my eyes, mouthing "Help me."
He turned back to Emmett and gave it his best attempt. "Emm, Bella and I sort of had plans for tonight. I don't think we're ..."
Garrett interrupted him, "No. No no no no. Listen, Romeo, I get that you're all in this I-just-pulled-my-head-out-of-my-ass-and-got-the-girl zone, but you just moved here. I'm leaving in two days and won't be back until just before the wedding. While I'm gone, you two can do all the cute couply bullshit you want. But for now? You owe me two days." He held up two fingers and gave him a very stern, for Garrett, look. "Two," he repeated.
There were low snickers and giggles around the table, and Edward sighed in defeat. He looked at me and I shrugged, because how can you argue with that?
He turned back to Garrett. "Fine, okay, I'm in."
Dinner was finished over small talk about the specifics of the evening. It sounded like the guys were planning an evening of pool and poker. Rosalie backed me up, and we finally talked Alice into The Reader instead. When dinner was over, we all said our goodbyes to Carlisle and Esme and headed home to unpack, promising to regroup in ninety minutes.
An hour later I was in my room unpacking my duffel bag when there was a light knock on the door. "Come in," I called over my shoulder.
I heard the door open, and then a pair of warm arms wrapped around my waist. He dropped his head to nuzzle his face in my hair and neck. "Hey."
I sighed and leaned back into him. "Hey."
"Sorry about tonight. I was looking forward to it."
"Yeah, me too. But Garrett's right. He's only here for two days."
"I know. So how about we reschedule for Tuesday? And I can do better than a movie and popcorn on the sofa; how about dinner out and then maybe a movie?"
I turned in his arms to face him. "Like a real date?"
He lowered his face to kiss me once. "Yes. I made an appointment to look at a house on Tuesday afternoon, and I was hoping you'd come with me." Kiss. "We can go out afterwards." Kiss.
I pulled back to see his face and reached up to brush a strand of hair off his forehead before I kissed him again, then I smiled and mumbled against his mouth, "I'd like that."
His weight shifted as he kicked the door behind him; it closed with a gentle thud and click. With his hands on my hips, he started walking me backwards toward the bed. When the backs of my legs hit the bed, he wrapped an arm around me, leaning me backwards, supporting my weight with an arm around my waist, before he lowered himself over me. I pulled him down, anxious to feel the weight of his body on top of me. I hooked a leg over his hip and moaned quietly as I enjoyed being covered with his body.
And then we both froze as we heard the distant sound of quick feet moving up the stairs and Alice shouting, "No, no, no. Edward Anthony Cullen! You get out of there! You guys are leaving."
She started pounding on the door, and Edward groaned and dropped his face to my shoulder. I sighed and started running my hands up and down his back.
I shouted back at the door, "Go away Alice!"
"No. It's girl's night tonight. You have to the count of ten and then I'm opening this door and dragging him off you! One!"
Edward rolled his eyes and chuckled. "Somehow, I'm not worried."
Alice continued, "Two ... three! Garrett, come help me. Edward's in Bella's room and he won't come out."
He muttered, "Shit."
We could hear another set of heavier feet on the stairs.
Edward leaned up and whispered to me, "Rain check?"
"Of course." I kissed him quickly as I unwrapped my leg and pushed against his chest as we heard Alice talking to Garrett.
"I said I'm going in on ten and pulling him off her. Five!"
He rolled off me and sat up on the side of the bed.
"Six!" Garrett and Alice counted together.
He was muttering a series of curse words mixed with Garrett's name as he hoisted himself upright.
Edward gave me one last longing look.
"Eight!" It was just Garrett now, "Better put it away. I'm coming in!"
His shoulders slumped and he reached up and tousled his hair as he exhaled a deep breath.
"Nine!" The doorknob started to turn.
Edward reached out and grabbed the knob, flinging the door open. "Fine, Fucker, let's go."
He glanced back and winked and then walked out. I heard Alice call after them, "Bye guys! Have fun!"
Edward muttered a thank you and goodbye back to her, but his annoyance was clear in his voice.
Alice appeared in the doorway. "Kate and I are watching Family Guy. Rosalie is picking up the movie and drinks. We're thinking margaritas. Sound good?"
I stretched my arms up over my head and yawned. "Yeah, sure. That's fine."
Alice tilted her head and looked at me appraisingly. "You look wiped."
I nodded. "Yeah, I am."
She smiled gently. "Why don't you go take a bath and try and relax? We'll let you know when Rose gets here. You know Edward will be coming back eventually; go make yourself smell pretty."
I sat up and swung my legs off the side of the bed. "That sounds like a very good idea. I think I'll do that."
# # #
Five minutes later the smell of lavender filled the bathroom, and I was piling my hair up onto my head as the tub filled with hot water. I blew up the bath pillow and thought about how much I would miss the oversized tub when I moved. I had gotten some of my best ideas as I'd soak, mulling over different scenarios. I'd talk to myself in the shower and work through problematic dialogue.
All the scenes and storylines I'd dreamed up in this bath always revolved in my mind around one person: Edward. Sure, I'd turn them around and strip down the characters, changing names and physical attributes until I was sure that my characters were unrecognizable, but in my mind it was always him.
Tonight I relaxed and enjoyed the fact that these thoughts were just for me. There would be no manipulation or disguising the images running through my head. Those green eyes would stay green; the hair would stay thick and auburn. His hands would only be on my body, and those whispered words were for an audience of one.
I closed my eyes and smiled to myself as I realized how false my imagination had been. My books had always been about his needs, his desires, and the possessive ways that he would touch her. My female characters always responded passionately, but it was wrong. I never grasped the depth and intensity of it. I couldn't write how her body craved him, how his touch would scorch her, and her bones would ache with the need to wrap around him. I couldn't have written it, because I'd never felt it.
My writing had only been based on what I'd fantasized, and while my fantasies were certainly more creative than any actual sexual encounters I'd had, they were still based on my experiences. And those experiences now seemed bland, calculated, and programmed. Yes, I'd responded and yes it had usually been mildly satisfying, but the very best sex I'd ever had paled in comparison to just one of Edward's kisses.
With Edward my body responded of its own accord. He caused sensations in me that I'd never experienced with an intensity that I'd never dreamed. His hands touched me in ways that I hadn't been prepared for, as though he could feel my needs through my skin, as though the magnetic pull that kept tugging at us when we were apart would intensify when we were together, drawing his hands to wherever I needed them most. We fed off one another in the most beautiful of ways.
As I soaked and remembered his touches, my hands ran absentmindedly over my skin. I shaved my legs and remembered how he'd pulled them around him when he'd pressed me against that tree. I thought about how gently he'd cleaned up my wounded knee that morning. I soaped up my loofah and ran it over my arms, remembering the feel of his shoulders and the lean muscles of his back moving under my fingers. As I washed my shoulders, back, and neck, I felt his open mouth kisses and the way he'd gently suck and lick at my skin. I ran the sponge over the skin of my torso and up to the underside of my breast.
With a gasp I let go of the sponge and ran my fingers over the tissue under my breast.
I quickly pulled myself up to a sitting position and reached my left hand behind my head while I used my right to probe at the tissue on the underside of my breast.
There was something there.
I flattened my hand and started rubbing small circles with the pads of my fingers.
A sharp knock on the door made me yelp. Water splashed on the floor as I jerked in surprise.
"Bellllaaaa?" Alice called through the door in a sing-song voice.
I cleared my throat. "Yeah?"
My voice sounded thick.
"Rosalie is here. We're going to start the movie." I heard the buzzing sound of a blender in the background.
I was staring at the far wall of the tub, barely hearing a word she'd said, but I answered automatically, "Okay. I'll be right there."
A/N:Here we are, struggling to come up with something meaningful to say at the end of this chapter. Sigh. The only thing that can be said is that this story is very personal for both of us, and may also be familiar to some of Proxy's readers. This chapter is dedicated to the friends and family members who inspired this story. If you or someone you know has experienced what Bella is going through right now, tell us about it. As always, we appreciate each and every one of you who first and foremost, reads this story. The favorites, alerts, and reviews are the icing on the cake. We hope you plan to stick it out… we're nearing the halfway point. Love and thanks…
S32 and TG.
This chapter is dedicated to the friends and family members who inspired this story. If you or someone you know has experienced what Bella is going through right now, tell us about it.
As always, we appreciate each and every one of you who first and foremost, reads this story. The favorites, alerts, and reviews are the icing on the cake. We hope you plan to stick it out… we're nearing the halfway point.
Love and thanks…