Title: Progress

Author: Amethyst Jackson

Rating: M

Pairing: E/B

Summary: NM AU. Bella asks Edward to save her from Alice's planned birthday party and take her out for her birthday instead. Bella's plan has much better results than Alice's.

Disclaimer: These characters don't belong to me. They belong to Stephenie Meyer, and whomever she chooses to sell the rights to. Which is not me. And I make no money off this. Broke all around.

A/N: Yet another one-shot written through the medium of twitter. If you'd like to follow my twitterfics, look up AJwritesafic. If you'd just like to follow me, look up amethystjackson.


"Edward," I hissed. He turned his head slightly away from Mr. Varner's riveting solution to a calculus problem, subtly showing me I had his attention.

"I know Alice is planning something for my birthday," I whispered as quietly as possible, knowing he would hear me. He gave a small nod, a smirk turning up the corner of his mouth.

"Can you please stop her? I don't want anyone making a big deal about it," I begged. Edward frowned.

"You know how she gets," Edward murmured out the corner of his mouth.

"Please," I said again. "If you really want to give me what I want for my birthday, just let me have the night alone with you."

Edward's frown turned thoughtful, and I knew I had won. I had learned, in the months we'd been together, that Edward could never resist the opportunity to give me something – excepting, of course, the one thing I really wanted – and he had an even harder time resisting a direct request.

"You have to let me take you out, if I'm saving you from Alice," he said finally, turning his intent eyes on me. He was such a cheater. He knew I couldn't argue with him when he was looking at me like that.

"Fine. But be reasonable, please."

"Define 'reasonable.'"

"Keep it within the state?" I requested. "And, um, nothing expensive?"

Edward thought for a moment. "All right, I can agree to that."

"Thank you," I sighed, relaxing in my chair for the first time since I'd seen Alice's scheming expression this morning.

He chuckled. "Pleasure doing business with you."

"Alice," I whined, "if we're not going anywhere fancy, why do you need to dress me?"

She glared. "Because you deprived me of the joy of throwing you a party." Oh, right. She still hadn't forgiven me for that.

"C'mon, Alice. If you had the choice between a party and a night alone with Jasper, what would you choose?"

Alice smirked naughtily. "Jasper. But then, I would actually have something to do with Jasper – you and Edward are just going to do the same sort of thing you do every night."

I pouted at her. "Well, that's not my fault, is it? Edward's the one who's not putting out."

Alice burst out laughing, so amused she couldn't finish pulling my hair back. "Oh, Bella, you poor thing. You're in the most backwards relationship in history."

"Don't I know it," I muttered as she returned to work, putting my hair in a sleek ponytail. "Alice, could you…can you see what would happen, if Edward ever did decide…?"

She shook her head. "Sorry, no dice. He has to make the decision first. But you know, Bella, there are other ways to…get some satisfaction that wouldn't test Edward's control so badly."

I blushed to the tips of my ears. "I don't think I could ever ask him for that."

Alice shrugged. "Just think about it. He's much too gentlemanly to offer it himself – you'll have to let him know you want it first."

I squirmed, and then a horrifying thought occurred to me. "Oh God – he's not listening, is he?"

Alice laughed. "No, I sent him to your house to wait while I got you ready."

"My house? You mean he's in my room, alone?"

Alice snorted. "Don't worry, I'll see if he decides to read your diary."

"I don't have a diary," I said defensively. But I did have an underwear drawer that Alice had added to considerably over the summer.

"Don't worry about it," Alice said. "He'll behave himself. Come on now, we have to get you dressed."

It was a relief to be safely ensconced within the Volvo with Edward. I could tell from our attire that he hadn't done anything too extravagant. Alice had put me, thankfully, in jeans and a silky, dressy top, and Edward had turned up to rescue me in jeans as well, with a pale blue dress shirt that taunted me as I watched the movement of his arms and shoulders beneath the thin material.

I wanted to blame Alice for putting ideas in my head. Unfortunately, though, I was usually helpless with want for Edward without any outside influence at all.

"Thank you, again," I said. "I can't imagine what would be going on right now if Alice had been given her way."

"Probably nothing good," Edward agreed as we flew down the highway. I watched him switching gears, fascinated by the flickering muscles in his arm.

"Alice and I did have an interesting conversation today," I ventured, and immediately regretted it. Now I would have to tell him. I wouldn't be able to lie my way out convincingly.

"Oh?" He kept his eyes on the road, but I could tell he was curious.

"She – um – she was talking about how couples can, um…you know, relieve tension, without – without…"

"She was, was she?" Edward said in a disapproving tone. "Bella…I don't think that's a good idea for us."

I'd somewhat expected his reaction, so the sting of tears in my eyes surprised me. "Oh."

He glanced at me, and then his expression turned horrified. "Bella, please, you know that's not what I mean. I want those things with you, but I'm not sure it's possible. There are just so many ways I could hurt you…"

I frowned. "Surely if you can kiss me…I mean, it can't be that much harder, can it?"

Edward sighed. "I really don't know, Bella. But it won't be so bad for long. You're almost past the teenage hormones."

I couldn't help it; I laughed at him. "Oh, Edward, do you really think my problem is just hormones?"

He frowned, tensing, defensive. "Human sex drives tend to lessen with age."

I shook my head. "Maybe. But that's not going to help anything. I'm always going to want you."

He swallowed, and I watched his throat flex. "Why don't we get back to this conversation later? We're almost there, and I need you to close your eyes so that the surprise isn't spoiled."

I sighed and closed my eyes, resigned.

Edward eventually parked and then led me out of the car, into a building. We walked along carpeted flooring and through some doors. We went down a sloped isle, and Edward guided me into a seat.

"You can open your eyes. I'll be right back," he promised.

I saw why I was allowed to open my eyes – it was pitch black, wherever we were. It was more than a little creepy, with Edward gone. I felt around me – there were many seats. Some kind of auditorium?

And then the room was suddenly illuminated, and I realized the light was coming from the huge screen in front of me – a movie theater. Edward was beside me again in a flash, in time for him to see the shock on my face as the opening credits of the film began.

"Edward – where...? You didn't rent a theater, did you?" I accused.

Edward laughed nervously. "No, actually, we're sort of trespassing. This theater is closed down, which is why no one is in it."

I gaped as I realized what we were watching – the old, black and white version of Pride and Prejudice, starring Laurence Olivier.

"This is my favorite Mr. Darcy," I admitted, unable to hold back a smile.

Edward grinned. "This one has always been my favorite adaptation. I know it's not as true to the book as others, but I think this is the only one that ever really got them right."

Watching the movie was peaceful, nestled into Edward's side as Lizzy and Darcy's relationship played out in front of us. When it ended, I turned happily to Edward. "That was wonderful. Thank you."

He smiled. "Would you like to come with me up to the projection room? I need to turn everything off before we leave – wouldn't want to leave any evidence behind."

"Sure," I agreed, allowing him to lead me out of the theater and up a well-hidden set of stairs to the projection rooms. It was a tiny space, most of which was taken up by the projector, though there were shelves, too, stacked with abandoned film rolls. I watched Edward wind up the film and turn off the machinery. I found myself suddenly wistful. Why did he have to be so perfect in every way? Maybe if he was less inhumanly beautiful, or if he didn't know me so excruciatingly well, or maybe if our minds didn't work in such similar ways, I wouldn't want him so badly.

When he turned around, he froze. I knew my expression would catch him off guard, but I couldn't fashion it into something more acceptable.

"Bella, what's wrong?"

"Nothing," I shook my head, hating the disappointment that washed over his face. "Everything was just so great tonight, and I wish I didn't ruin everything by wanting more than I can have, but I can't help wanting it, and it's all I can think about – "

He silenced me with his lips. I melted into him, helpless.

"I'm sorry," he murmured as he pulled away. "None of it is your fault, Bella. It's me…it never occurred to me that you could be suffering as much as I was. For my kind, you see, feelings don't change – it was always a given to me that I would never be able to stop wanting you. It wasn't until you said something tonight that I realized it might not have anything to do with being a vampire or a human at all."

"It doesn't," I agreed, resting my head on his shoulder. "Maybe for some people those feelings change, but not between you and me. It's just too strong to fade away."

His hand rubbed circles on my back, trying to comfort me, but his touch only ignited a flame low in my belly, that old ache that I couldn't be rid of.

"You're aroused, right now," he stated softly. I blushed crimson.

"How did you know?" I asked.

I peeked up at him. His expression was sheepish. "I – I always know. I can smell it," he admitted. Embarrassment flooded me as I thought of all the times he must have known exactly how I was feeling, in spite of my best attempts to hide it.

"I think…" he said slowly, "That maybe you're right. Maybe it's not fair to you to… Maybe we should try some things."

"Really?" I hardly dared to hope he was saying what I thought he was saying.

"I think I could handle certain things…"

I couldn't help it; I attacked him, crushing my mouth and my body to his. He actually staggered back with me clinging to him, surprised by my forceful onslaught.

"Bella," he mumbled, carefully freeing himself, "Not now –"

"No, please," I begged, knowing I was embarrassing myself and not caring in the slightest. "Please, right here, right now. I've waited so long…you've waited so long…"

He groaned and consented to kiss me, at least, holding me up with his inhuman strength as my knees began to give out. Suddenly he turned us both, pinning me to the back of the projection room door, and I whimpered at the feel of his body pressing into mine, my breasts mashed against his chest and our hips aligned.

"Bella," he groaned, running his lips down my neck. "I don't want to be the type of guy who feels a girl up in a back room somewhere."

"What if the girl wants to be felt up?" I questioned, trying to push his hands up my torso, but they stayed locked on my hips.


"Edward," I growled, "I don't care about romance, okay? I don't care where we are. I just want you to touch me, please."

His expression wavered as he studied my face, deliberating, and then his eyes took on a hard, determined glint. "Very well, then."

His hand slid up my body, and I gasped as he carefully cupped my left breast. "Edward."

He watched my reactions fixedly as he squeezed and dragged his thumb over my nipple. I moaned.

"Good or bad?" he asked with a little smile, already suspecting my answer.

"Good," I breathed, holding his hand to me. "More."

He slid both hands under my shirt now, flattening his palms over my stomach before reaching upward again. My blouse bunched up over his arms, so I tugged it off. I pulled too hard in my eagerness, and I heard a ripping sound as it came over my head. I winced – Alice would be angry – but let it fall to the ground without another thought.

I actually heard Edward's breath catch in his throat and his hands stilled. His eyes burned down at me, raking over my torso, dark with desire. Another powerful wave of arousal swept over me, so strong that I let out an involuntary whimper.

"Jesus, Bella. You'll be the death of me yet," he breathed, dragging his hands back to my breasts. The way he touched me and watched me was reverent, and that was ridiculous, because he was the one that was godlike and worthy of worship. I was just…me.

He watched my face carefully as his thumbs circled my nipples through my cotton bra, so he saw my eyes widen at the sensation, and he definitely heard the strangled moan that escaped from my throat. I couldn't help it. This felt so good. Heat shot through me from where he touched me to my center, and it boiled there, already waiting to simmer over.

Edward stepped forward the fraction of an inch necessary to claim my lips. Kissing him while he touched me somehow magnified everything tenfold. His hard lips moved carefully against mine, parted slightly to allow his cool breath to escape. The scent, the sweet taste my tongue picked up as it brushed his lower lip, made my head swim.

While I was occupied with his mouth and his hair that I fisted in my fingers, his hands suddenly left my breasts. I had barely registered the change when I felt my bra loosen, the clasps undone, and Edward's hands were on my bare skin.

"Oh my God," I panted against his lips. I felt him smirk. His cold fingers made my nipples grow impossibly hard, and his careful touch made my breasts feel achy and heavy with want.

I ground my hips into his unthinkingly, my core burning with want. I needed the friction more than I needed to breathe right now. Edward gasped against my lips, and I realized the hardness pressing into my lower stomach was his erection.

"Oh my God," I said again, with emphasis. If Edward had ever been hard for me before, he'd never allowed me to feel it. He pulled his whole body away after that split-second contact, leaving me following pathetically, trying to reclaim him.

"Bella, I think I need a little distance," he said, speaking quickly as he did when agitated or excited. "Or I won't be able to stop myself from doing more than touching you, and I don't know that I can do more without hurting you…or seriously losing control."

"Okay," I sighed pitifully. I had to keep telling myself it wasn't a rejection, that he was just doing what he had to do…it didn't stop me from wanting more.

"I'm sorry, Bella," he murmured, leaning in to press light kisses to my shoulder. His hands still covered my breasts, and it was all too easy to forget about anything other than this moment and his fingers and his mouth.

While his lips were distracting me with their travels up my neck – to that little spot behind my ear that seemed to work like a homing beacon for his mouth – his right hand stealthily left my breast. It was gone long enough for me to open my mouth to demand he give it back, but then it was flattened against my stomach below my navel, and it slid steadily downward. That clever hand had little trouble slipping beneath the elastic of my panties, and I realized abruptly that Edward had already unbuttoned my jeans. That little sneak.

His fingers stilled as they brushed against hair, and I tensed. Was he going to stop? Was he grossed out? Should I have let him wait to do this after all and taken the time to get a wax or something?

"Bella? I'm sorry, but I need to hear once more that this is truly what you want. There's no taking this back."

Oh, dear lord. For a vampire, Edward was incredibly slow on the uptake. I shifted my hips, trying to get his fingers to go lower. "Of course it's what I want. And after what you've been doing to me, it's kind of what I need, too."

He chuckled and pressed his forehead to mine. His golden eyes held me in a trance while I waited for him to make that one little movement.

Finally, his hand shifted downward, and his index finger expertly circled my clit. I let out an embarrassingly loud gasp, and even though I knew he was watching my face carefully, I couldn't keep my eyes from drifting closed and my head from falling back against the door.

"Please try to keep your eyes open," he murmured, still stroking me gently. "I want – I need to see what you're feeling."

It was very difficult, especially with my legs trembling and a groan trying to slip free from my throat, but I forced my eyes open. Listening to Edward paid off, as usual; it was so much better seeing his face. With his eyes shining with wild excitement, and his brow furrowed in concentration, and his lips parted to allow his rapid breathing, he had never looked better.

"There," he breathed with a half-smile that made my legs shake harder. His right hand was drawing beautiful patterns on my clit, and his left was circling my nipple, and I was pretty sure I was going to fall over at any moment.

"Edward?" It was absurdly difficult to get his name out.

"Hmm?" Two of his fingers drifted to explore my entrance, and I had to grasp his shoulders for support.

"I think…I think I might…need some help…staying standing," I panted, curling my fingers into the soft cotton of his shirt.

His eyes battled with amusement, but his left had removed itself from my breast, and his arm circled around me to hold me upright.

"Better?" he asked. Throughout all this, he hadn't stopped the gentle probing of his fingers.

"I…think so," I muttered, confused. I missed his hand on my breast, but it was hard to really think about anything with his fingers so close to being inside me.

He chuckled, evidently having realized by this point that I was insane, and went about his business. And I wasn't about to complain, because his business was fantastic.

Finally, finally, he slid those two rogue fingers inside me while his thumb continued to rub circles around my clit.

"Oh…my…God…" I moaned, having adopted that as my mantra for the evening. It worked well enough; Edward was officially God as of this moment.

"Bella, you feel…" he breathed, shaking his head. He never finished the sentence, but I assumed it was a good thing, and I didn't care so much. His fingers thrusting in and out of me were a much better thing.

"Should have done this sooner," I mumbled, rocking against his hand. He kept up a perfect rhythm, varying his strokes over my clit just enough to keep my nerves on edge.

"Definitely," Edward agreed, curling his fingers slightly. He hit a new spot inside me then, a spot that had me moaning out loud.

"There?" Edward asked. I assumed it was rhetorical, because he kept doing it, and I was in no condition to respond. It was completely necessary for him to hold me up, now; my knees had liquefied, and I was pretty sure all the blood in my body had pooled in one particular place. The friction building from his fingers caused an unbearable heat, but I knew I needed him to keep going if I was ever going to find relief.

"You're close, aren't you, Bella?" he asked. I nodded helplessly, and his fingers picked up speed. "Good. I have to see it…you have no idea how many times I've fantasized about seeing you come undone for me."

"Oh, God, Edward," I groaned, digging my nails into his shoulders. How was I supposed to keep breathing when he said things like that? But who really cared about breathing, anyway? My body was in an all-out freefall, and when I landed…everything else was going to be irrelevant.

I was hurtling toward something pivotal, I could feel it. His fingers curled just a little more, and they pumped into me just a little faster, and his thumb bore down just a little harder. Out of nowhere, a wave of indescribable ecstasy washed over me.

A ridiculously loud moan tore from my throat, and I slumped against Edward, who held me up easily and didn't cease the movement of his fingers for a second. My legs weren't just quaking now; they were practically non-existent. If he didn't stop soon, I was going to turn into a puddle of melted Bella right at his feet.

But his touch gentled, and soon the aftershocks were just pleasant reminders of the best moment of my life – so far.

He finally pulled his hand away, but thankfully, he continued to hold me up. I wasn't sure I'd be able to stand for at least a day.

"Oh, Bella…" he sighed, and I looked up to his beautiful face. His expression was…almost agonized, and his eyes were black, but instinct told me the problem wasn't thirst.

I slid my hands from his shoulders down to his chest. "Edward…can I…would you let me…?"

He stopped my hands by covering them with his. Somehow, he'd surreptitiously wiped off his right hand without me noticing. "I want that more than you can possibly know," he said, "but I don't think I could; I don't think I'm ready. It's enough, for now, to have touched you. I wish you could see how beautiful you are right now."

I rolled my eyes at him. "Oh, yeah. Flushed and sweaty. I'm sure I look like a regular princess right now."

Edward just shook his head, smiling knowingly. "You look like a woman who's just had the best pleasure of her life, and I intend to see you like this often."

I moaned a little. It just slipped out. "Be careful; I'll hold you to that."

He laughed. "You won't have to. But for now, let's get you presentable."

"Okay," I sighed reluctantly. He helpfully clasped my bra shut again and retrieved my ripped blouse from the floor. I buttoned up my jeans, blushing, and he handed me the shirt with a shake of his head.

"Alice isn't going to be happy about that," he warned, echoing my earlier thoughts. When I got the shirt on, I realized I had ripped the left sleeve at the shoulder. Whoops.

"It was for a good cause," I shrugged. "She'll understand."

Edward chuckled and closed my hand in his. "Come on. Let's get you home. I'm just getting back into Charlie's good graces, and I don't want to miss your curfew."

I rolled my eyes. Charlie was still blaming Edward for the incident in Phoenix…and Edward was still blaming Edward, too. I hoped our success tonight would help him move away from his mistaken idea that he was somehow bad for me, and move toward a greater willingness to make me a part of his family.

"Careful on the stairs," he murmured, holding me carefully by the waist as he guided me down them. "You just got the last cast off."

"As if you'd actually let me fall down the stairs," I scoffed. Of course, just as I said that, fate decided to prove my point, and one of the old stairs gave way under my foot. Edward caught me against him before I could pitch forward an inch.

"See?" I said breathlessly. I couldn't see Edward's face in the darkness, but I suspected he was wearing one of his exasperated expressions.

"I'm going to carry you the rest of the way, regardless," he replied, scooping me up in his arms. And then he carried me all the way to the car.

We had a quiet ride home. I was happy just to be near him, enjoying the warm contentment that filled me. The urgency I always felt with Edward had lessened a little tonight. I felt as though I didn't have to hold on quite so hard to keep him, that we were moving toward a better and brighter future. Together.

The End