A/N: Nadstar3...I tried to answer your question, but you have PM's blocked. But right now I'm thinking a few months, maybe, or a little longer.

A Betting Man

Chapter 30


I'm a complete mess. My hair is nappy, my shirt is wrinkled, and my face is flushed and probably looks terrible from crying. But as I snatch on a pair of jeans in record time, I realize that I couldn't possibly care less.

Edward thinks I'm beautiful. Me. And he wants to do this over, despite his commitment issues and previous reservations. Because I'm worth it.

I look a mess, but he's willing to be seen in public with me anyway. I'm not sure, but I think that speaks volumes regarding his feelings for me. The thought leaves me smiling as I meet him in the living room again, exactly where I left him.

The walk down the stairs is silent. He opens the door to his car and helps me inside, then quickly hurries to the driver's side to join me.

I still can't stop smiling.

Apparently, neither can he.

"Where are we going?" I finally ask.

"Somewhere quiet," he answers. "Where we can talk some more." He glances at me. "Is that okay?"

I nod quickly. I don't really care where we eat, so long as I have his company.

"Do you like oysters?" he asks.


"Crab legs?"


He pulls out his phone and makes a phone call. He places a food order, which leaves me confused. Does he want it to be ready when we get there? Will we even be eating there?

"What was that about?" I ask, my voice tentative. I'm nervous – an excited nervous which leaves my hands clammy and my thoughts racing. I think over everything in my head about two or three times before actually saying it.

"I thought we could get it to go. I have a place in mind…is that alright?"

He's obviously as nervous as I am, and that thought alone puts me at ease. I smile reassuringly.

"It's fine, Edward. I was just curious."

The rest of the drive is relatively silent. Soft music plays from his stereo, but I don't think either one of us is actually listening, both of us too absorbed in our thoughts. When we reach the restaurant he asks me to wait in the car while he dashes inside for the food.

With the food tucked safely in the back, we continue driving. I still have no idea where we're going, but I'm excited at all the prospects. Not knowing is kind of thrilling.

We reach the Bell Harbor Marina. Edward drives around for a bit before parking and pulling the food from the back. I step out of the car to follow him, and together we walk down the harbor.

The marina is beautiful at night. Most of the boats are vacant and dim, but the city of Seattle is lit up brilliantly in the background, its magnificent lights reflecting off the water. The sky still holds a slight orange tinge from the setting sun, a tinge which will probably disappear in a matter of minutes. But at this moment, the entire city seems to glow.

I have a suspicion of where we're eating now, a belief that's confirmed when Edward suddenly pauses and extends an arm to stop me.

"Do you care if we eat here?" he asks.

There are no tables. No seats, no servers; just the ground, a nearby steel rail, the water, and the city. But it's deserted – hardly anyone walks by this part at night – and furthermore, it's perfect.

I shake my head. Edward takes off his jacket and spreads it out for me to sit on, despite my protests. I'm actually wearing the perfect attire to sit on the ground, but he won't hear of it.

I take off my shoes and hang my feet over the edge of the concrete walkway. Edward does the same, but with shoes, and I find that the third bar of the steel rail is the perfect height in which to prop my elbows and lean forward.

While I'm admiring the view, Edward begins unpacking our dinner. He pulls out a bottle of wine, a container of oysters, crab legs, and a final container full of peel and eat shrimp. There's another covered container that he leaves in the bag, and I suspect it's our dessert.

The wine has already been opened and recorked – per his request, I imagine – and he pours it into two plastic cups. I quirk an eyebrow as he hands one to me.

"They wouldn't let me buy two wine glasses and I didn't think to grab any before we left," he says apologetically. I smile.

"No worries. This is perfect," I quickly assure. Because really, who actually prefers drinking wine out of dainty little glasses that are annoyingly easy to spill and knock over? I'd take a plastic cup any day.

We begin eating, falling into easy conversation. Edward breaks my crab legs for me, which is a relief, because I've always been terrible at it. I've never understood the point of paying thirty bucks for a bucket of crab legs and then working up a sweat trying to get to the meat.

We talk about everything from school to work to Emmett and Rose. He shows me which of his teeth are fake. I show him a scar on my leg from a hot glue accident that occurred when I was nine. We get into a serious debate over whether or not I have a hitchhiker's thumb (I don't) and whether he's able to roll his tongue (he can). I blush, but don't reveal that I'm imagining other things he can do with his tongue, and thankfully the dim night hides my discomfort.

"Did you always want to own your own company?" I eventually ask him, curious.

"No. I used to want to play professional baseball," he admits.

"Being a snaggle tooth was pretty dissuasive, huh?" I tease, and he smirks at me.

"I'll have you know, Beautiful Bella, that the girls were falling all over themselves trying to get to me after that happened. Being a snaggle tooth was the best week of my life."

He's joking, I think, but for some reason the mention of other girls still bothers me. When I look down at my hands he instantly has his fingers on my chin, redirecting my gaze to his.

"I was joking, Bella," he says seriously. "I was missing two teeth. You really think girls were throwing themselves at me?"

I'd probably still throw myself at him, but I don't say this.

"Well, yeah." Okay, so maybe I do kind of say it.

"Trust me, Bella. They didn't. I skipped school for as long as I could and tried not to open my mouth the rest of the time."

"That's a shame. The pictures would have been priceless."

"So what about you?" he asks. "You have to have some equally embarrassing stories."

I think about it.

"I went to a pool party once and discovered my swim suit was see-through," I offer, which causes his mouth to pop open in surprise.

"Do you still own it?" he asks, excited, and I refrain from smacking my forehead in exasperation, though a part of me is a little bit turned on by his reaction.

"I was twelve," I reluctantly reveal. That makes it a lot less sexy.

Just as suspected, Edward grimaces, his excitement quickly ebbing. "Oh."

"Sorry," I apologize, completely serious. And then I'm laughing, because it's hilarious that I would apologize for the most mortifying moment of my life during my pre-teen years. Edward chuckles with me, obviously catching the irony.

We're silent for a minute. Then I add, "I used to wet the bed until I was seven. I couldn't go to sleep-overs."

Edward smiles. "I used to be afraid of vampires and thought the only way to keep them away at night was to sleep with my arms crossed over my chest."

I burst out laughing. When I recover, I say, "I ran away with my best friend when I was eight. We were barefoot and got a mile down the street before she got a splinter in her foot and insisted we turn back."

"When Alice was three, I locked her in my mom's clothes chest and forgot about her for a whole hour."

"I broke my dad's favorite fishing pole and blamed it on my older cousin. I sat there and watched while my dad whipped him with a switch and I still didn't confess."

"I used to like Paula Abdul."

"When my mom warmed up her car in the morning, I used to wait out in the exhaust fumes and dance around like a Solid Gold dancer."

This confession in particular causes Edward to laugh so hard his face turns red and he can barely breathe. I can't help but giggle along with him – his laugh is infectious – but I admittedly feel like the biggest retard on the planet.

"Those pictures would have been priceless!" he chokes out. "How old were you?"

"I don't know…maybe like seven…" I say, fudging the truth a little. Then I remember our vow of honesty and quickly huff, "Fine! I was ten. Are you happy?"

This only causes him to laugh harder.

We stay there and talk for hours after that. It's far too late and we both have to work in the morning, but neither of us spares it a second thought. We're too relieved – too elated – in each other's company to focus on anything else.

We have a slice of turtle cheesecake for dessert. Edward feeds me a piece, and I see him staring at my mouth the entire time. So it's no surprise when, several minutes later, he's whispering a guarded question into the night.

"Can I kiss you, Bella?"

I yearn for the day when we'll be so comfortable he won't feel the need to ask, yet I revel in these small moments as well.

The feel of his lips on mine is arguably the best ever. I twist my fingers in his hair, run them along his neck, across his stubbled jaw. I sigh against him as our lips open and his tongue slides against my own.

I slide as close to him as I possibly can without downright straddling his lap. Not that I don't think about it, but it's still a public area and I still want to take things slow. I think.

I'm so exhausted when we finally leave that I doze off in his car. I leave my arm resting on the center console, Edward's hand casually covering mine, and his thumb sweetly grazes my knuckles.

I don't remember the walk up my stairs, but I do remember lying back against my bed with Edward's shirt balled firmly inside my fist, forcing him to join me. He hovers over me, one foot still on the floor and one knee on the bed, and kisses my lips and face several times before prying my hand open and stepping away.

I whisper goodnight into the darkness, too sleepy to determine whether he's already gone, but confident that I drift to sleep still smiling.


The next day, work flies by. I don't even feel tired from my lack of sleep, and every dull moment is filled with thoughts of Edward or his brief words from the texts we sneak back and forth.

He drives into Seattle that night and we go out again, except this time I fix my hair and wear a skirt. And we sit at a table, around actual people, and it would almost be better than the night before if both nights didn't offer such stiff competition.

There's no more awkwardness. It's suddenly just me and him – two normal people on a normal date without the weight of bad decisions dragging us down.

I want to invite him back to my place that night, but I don't dare. I won't be able to control myself if I do.

Incidentally, that night ends up being the longest of my life. I'm so wound up that I jill off at least four times before I'm finally subdued enough to fall asleep.

Edward stays in town, and the next morning he comes over for breakfast. I figure I'll have better control over my sexual needs during the day time, although after seeing him in a gray polo shirt that makes his eyes pop, I'm suddenly not so sure.

I cook bacon, eggs, and pancakes. I even present him with a bowl of cut fruit. I'm not usually one to make such extravagant breakfasts, but I'm excited and nervous and almost positive that Edward doesn't thrive on sprinkled doughnuts and coffee in the morning.

We don't leave after breakfast. He helps me clean, and then we watch a movie on the couch. Or to be more precise, the movie plays in the background while I cram my tongue down his throat and strip him naked from the waist up.

He doesn't seem to mind. Especially when he nudges me backwards, causing me to lie down, and hovers over me in nothing but jeans with an already loosened fly.

My hands roam every inch of him – his arms, shoulders, neck, back. His lips leave fiery trails across my skin, scorching every exposed inch, and I'm unable to do anything except moan and arch my back at every touch.

Every part of me desires this man. I yearn to have him over me, around me, and inside of me. I can't get close enough – I claw and grasp at the back of his jeans, yanking him flush against my body. His erection presses into me, right there, causing us both to groan in unison.

Resolve has flown out the window, not even sparing a backwards glance to make sure I'm alright. I suppose it just knew, judging by our throaty moans and all.

There is no doubt left in my mind. I will have sex today, with Edward, or else die by self-imposed sexual depravation.

But as I raise my hips off the couch, eagerly sliding my shorts down, Edward pauses and stops me.

"Are you sure we're ready for this, Bella?"

I freeze, my shorts halfway down my thighs. Edward's throbbing erection is still pressed against me, its hardness even more prominent with less fabric in the way. We're both breathing heavily, his chest lightly pressing against mine.

I'm not really sure how to answer. I don't want to think about whether or not we're ready, but instead I want to focus on howI feel.

And that's horny. Disturbingly horny, as a matter of fact. It's horniness accumulated from months and months of having a lonely hoohah combined with over two weeks of angry, unresolved sexual tension with the man currently pressing his really hard wanker against said hoohah.

No, I don't want to be having this conversation right now.

"What are you talking about?" I ask dumbly. I can't really focus on coherent conversation at the moment.

"I don't know, I just…I don't want to screw things up. And you said you wanted to take things slow, didn't you? I want you to know this isn't about sex for me, Bella. I mean, I want you - God, how I want you – but I don't want you to think that it's all I want. Does that make any sense?"

It actually makes a lot of sense, considering our short past. But that's not to say I like it, or that I even want to think about it.

"It does make sense," I agree. "But I trust you now. Remember?"

Relief washes over his face and he kisses me. Hard.

But he's right. We probably are moving too fast. And not that I'm one who sits around fantasizing about this shit all day, but I never really imagined our first time being after a high-school-esque makeout session on the couch.

When he finally pulls away, moving his lips to my neck, I coyly add, "And we don't have to have sex, you know. We can do…other things." To make sure he understands this proposition is temporary, I quickly add, "For now."

I feel him smiling against my neck. "Calmed down a bit, huh?"

"Shut up."

"I should have laid back and let you have your way with me when I had the chance."

"Stop talking," I scold him. "Your mouth should be doing other things right now."

His hand eases past my underwear and two fingers slip inside of me, curling upwards, and all talk ceases immediately. I moan embarrassingly loud and arch my back into his touch, eager for more, but remain grounded by twisting his hair around my fingers.

His mouth proves to be one of many wonders. And this time, he lets me return the favor.

Later on, after propositioning a repeat performance, we decide that my bed will be more comfortable. He carries me to the room but stops after taking two steps inside.

My legs are locked around his waist, my lips on his neck and jaw, but I soon pull away to see what has suddenly caught his interest.

He's staring down at my Big Lebowski rug with a shit-eating grin on his face.

My face heats immediately. I had spread the rug on my bedroom floor, assuming that it matched the blue comforter of my bed better than the tan fabric of my couch. And it does. But it doesn't fit well, causing one end to curl unattractively against the wall.

I wonder if Edward thinks I'm some sort of crazy person for actually using it. I wonder if he expected me to do what any normal girl would do and discreetly get rid of the ugly thing.

"I see you like the rug," he says, and I detect a hint of smugness to his voice, as if he's the only person to ever buy me a super awesome Big Lebowski replica rug.

Okay, so maybe he is.

I try to play it off with humor. "You have no idea," I breathe into his ear. "Perhaps if you lay down on top of it I'll really have my way with you."

I'm joking, kind of, but Edward looks as though he's seriously debating the idea. This makes me giggle.

"What?" he asks, confused.

"Nothing," I say. "Put me down." I'm impatient, ready to have his lips on me again. He sets me on the bed and is over me in the same instant, his left hand never leaving my hip, his right already hidden beneath the fabric of my shirt.


I manage, quite successfully, to not have sex with Edward, and I consider this to be a pretty respectable feat. It really says something for my self-control, which is actually pretty lacking. But with my small bit and his small bit combined, we manage to avoid doing the deed for one whole day.

As much as I want him to stay the night, I don't push the idea when he tucks me into bed and tells me he's leaving. I had fallen asleep on the couch, the last two nights of little sleep finally catching up to me.

He tells me he'll see me tomorrow, and that thought alone puts me at ease.

The next day we meet for coffee and breakfast and catch an early movie. When it's over, we walk side-by-side down the marina, just talking and enjoying the minimal sunshine Seattle has to offer.

When I spot the scooter rental place, I blush. He observes my line of vision and begins laughing.

"Want to rent another scooter?" he jokes. Or at least I hope he's joking.

"Are you kidding?" I hold up my ugly casted arm for him to see. "This hand can only take so much more abuse before it falls off and leaves me, okay?"

"Well, if you have a good driver, you won't have to worry about kissing the pavement again."

I gasp and shove him away from me. "Shut up, Eduardo! Besides, your boner was stabbing me in the back and distracting me. What the hell was that about, anyway?"

"What?" he asks innocently. "I had a beautiful girl pressed against me. It was a normal reaction."

"Yeah, normal for a perverted geezer," I argue playfully.

"If women could get boners then you would've been sporting one on every date we went on," he challenges.

That puts an almost disturbing image in my head. But it's kind of funny. And probably true, damn it.

"You think too highly of yourself," I scoff.

In a blur of movement, I'm lifted off my feet and set upon the back end of a bench, putting me at eye level with Edward. The metal of the bench digs into my butt, but as soon as Edward steps between my legs, I realize I couldn't care less.

"Oh I do, huh?" he asks suggestively, and his voice sounds much more seductive that I'm sure it's supposed to. His face is inches from my own.

"You totally do," I breathe. "Now, no more talking."

His erection is pressed purposefully against me as his lips capture mine.


I remember Edward's hot tub later on that day and insist we go to his house and take advantage of it. Not surprisingly, it doesn't take much persuasion before Edward is driving me to my apartment for a swim suit. His only actual rebuke to this is, "Swim wear is optional, you know."

I roll my eyes, but in reality, skinny hot tub dipping with Edward is almost too tempting to resist. I clench my thighs together and remain silent.

At his house, we don't get into the hot tub right away. He pours me a glass of wine and I look around. It's not the first time I've been here, but I wasn't able to appreciate it before. It's smaller than his house in Olympia, yet still offers much more space than any single person should actually need.

This house is even less personalized than the last, yet it's actually quite tasteful in its simplicity. The walls are painted subdued hues and adorned with occasional, unremarkable paintings, most in black and white. The kitchen counter tops are dark granite and clean and his refrigerator is mostly empty, save for a few non-perishables. In the living room, his couch looks comfy and tempting; it's also void of the permanent ass imprints from being old and overused like the one at my apartment.

"You can go upstairs to change whenever you're ready," he offers as he emerges from the kitchen. He's carrying his own glass of wine and sips it as he regards me. I'm lingering around his entertainment stand in wonder – it's just as complicated as the one in Olympia, yet it lacks the enormous CD collection.

"Why do you have two houses?" I ask. Perhaps I've asked him before, but I can't recall his answer at the moment.

"It's convenient," is his simple answer. "It's much easier than staying at a hotel when I come to Seattle."

"Why not an apartment, though?" I wonder. "Wouldn't that be cheaper?"

He walks towards me, not stopping until he's only inches away. "It's much wiser to own property if you can afford it, Bella. There's nothing to gain from owning an apartment."

"I own an apartment," I state dumbly. Of course, he knows this – we spent the entire day there just yesterday. But I feel the need to defend myself. "But they're easier to come by around here. I could never afford a place like this by myself. Much less two."

"You'd be surprised. Depending on what you buy, a mortgage isn't much more expensive than rent."

It suddenly occurs to me that we're standing in the middle of his living room talking real estate when I should be wet and naked and rubbing against him. What the hell am I thinking?

I down my wine and scoop up my swim suit, then quickly head for the stairs. "Alright, I'm gonna go change," I say. I disappear into the bathroom and hear movement down the hall a few minutes later, indicating that he's changing as well.

I try very, very hard not to imagine him naked, but I'm so hot and bothered at the mere prospect of seeing him wet and shirtless in a few minutes that it doesn't matter either way. I slip quickly into my suit, throw my hair into a loose pony-tail, then wrap myself in one of his thick, plush towels before trotting down the stairs again.

I exit the backdoor, halfway expecting him to already be waiting, but the only movement comes from the bubbles of the rapidly heating water in the hot tub.

I decide to go ahead and get in, that way I can lie back with my arms spread casually over the edges and lure him in with my sex eyes. Or something like that. But as soon as I strip away my towel and get one leg awkwardly over the tub, the backdoor swings open and he steps onto the patio.

I'm so startled that I jump, causing the foot that's already in the water to slip. I fall halfway inside the tub, my face practically submerging as I flail my casted arm into the air, desperate to keep it dry and avoid another trip to the hospital. My ass is sticking up and on full display as I struggle to regain my footing.

I'm not even out of this mess yet and I'm already humiliated.

Edward's hands are almost instantly on my waist, pulling me upright and out of this horrid predicament. I'm gasping, thanking Jesus and whoever else will listen that my cast is still dry, and Edward is desperately asking me if I'm okay.

"I'm fine, I'm fine," I assure him. Though my crotch landed on the edge of the tub pretty hard, leading me to believe that if I had of been sporting a boner, as Edward so classily put it before, I'd probably be dead. But I feel weird discussing an imaginary boner again and don't say this.

Once he's convinced that I'm okay, he starts laughing. "Sheesh, someone's anxious!"

How humiliating.

"I'm not anxious," I argue, surely encompassing every shade of red imaginable at this moment. "You startled me."

"You were getting in the tub pretty quick. You weren't even waiting for me…"

"That was my normal pace," I lie. "You've just never seen me get in a hot tub before."

"Then perhaps I should hang up warning signs," he jokes. He slips around me, sliding into the tub first, then pulls me down with him so that I'm stationed between his legs. This position is lovely, but my damn cast is in the way and I have nowhere to put my arm. To remedy this, he loops my arm up and around his head, allowing it to rest on the back of his shoulder.

I probably look like an idiot in this position, but it works.

"Damn cast," I mutter. "I'll be glad when it comes off."

"I'm starting to wonder if you're ever not in a cast," he says seriously, and I scoff.

"Yes, as a matter of fact, I wasn't in a cast when I met you."

"Point taken."

We sit silently for a few minutes and I finally start to relax. Edward's body is hard against mine, his strong hands sweetly caressing my sides and hips as they slide along my skin. They move to my thighs, feeling every exposed area, and my legs part automatically.

Edward plants a kiss on my ear, then my neck, then my shoulder.

I take my left hand and grab his beneath the water, moving it from my thigh to my belly. From there I slowly bring it down, further and further, until it's at the top of my swim suit bottoms. With minimal nudging and little persuasion, he slips his hand beneath the fabric and between my sensitive folds.

I moan loudly. It would almost be embarrassing, except that he seems to be enjoying it as much as I am. He strokes slowly and deliberately, up and down, never slipping a finger inside but still producing sensations that leave me clawing at the sides of the tub, desperate to grip and squeeze and release.

But as much as I enjoy this, it's not enough for me. I want to be on him, skin to skin. I want to see him and touch him and taste him.

But at the moment, I can't stop what's happening. It feels too good, and he's touching me and driving me closer and closer until I'm panting his name and tensing beneath his fingers. He holds me tight against his body as I come, kissing my neck soundly and encouraging me with breathy words.

I all but collapse against his body, thankful I'm not really required to move, and take a moment to recover. I'm breathing heavily, and in the aftermath of my orgasm, the water feels swelteringly hot.

I twist around to face him, propping my knees on either side of his hips, and lift myself halfway out of the water. There's a breeze in the air which is soothing. He gazes up at me, his eyes dark, and I slowly tease him by leaning forward to kiss his lips. No other part of our bodies touch.

He reaches up and grabs my waist, pulling me against his body and onto his barely concealed bulge. I squeal as I'm submerged in the hot water again and I feel his lips pull into a smile against mine.

Not even a breath has passed between us before he's serious again, pulling me tighter into his lap. "God, I want you," he breathes. I'm practically grinding myself on top of him, reveling in the feel of him so close and yet desperately craving more.

"Take me," I whisper urgently. I want him – there's no doubt in my mind. Even if he pulled his dick out right now, in this boiling water, I'd probably leap on it like a feigning jack rabbit and have my way with it until I passed out from heat exhaustion.

He groans into my mouth, sending a tingle all the way down to my toes, although I'm not sure if this response is good or bad.

"Don't tempt me," he moans, and I want to scream.

Tempt you? I'm begging you!

"Edward, please."

I reach into his swim trunks for my prize. Grasping his dick firmly in my hand, I begin giving slow, deliberate strokes. His eyes roll back briefly and then he's leaning forward, capturing my neck with his lips. He's nipping and biting and sucking and kissing, his movements passionate and desperate.

"Stop thinking so much, Edward," I beg. "I don't want to over-analyze everything. I just want you."

"God damn it," he groans, but he doesn't seem mad. Perhaps just sexually frustrated, because I know I certainly am.

He swiftly stands, his arms firmly around my waist as he brings me with him. I clutch onto his body, wrapping my legs around him in a tight choke-hold to keep from slipping down, but finally ease to the ground once we are safely out of the hot tub.

His hands are all over me, running from my face, down my chest, to my stomach and across my sides. He kisses me hard, both of us stumbling back until I'm met with the wall by his back door. My hands slide easily across his wet skin, my mouth never parting from his as we kiss so forcefully it's almost painful.

He slides his hands beneath my bikini top, easily moving the fabric out of the way and releasing my breasts. He descends on them quickly, kissing and nipping, and I press myself into the hard wall behind me as I arch into his touch and moan.

After a moment, I grab onto his swim trunks and begin pulling and tugging, desperate to have them removed. Then his hand suddenly descends on mine, stopping me.

"Bella," he pants, "I really don't want you to think we're rushing this…"

Why is he still talking? I grab the back of his head and crush his lips against mine, silencing any remaining argument.

This time, he pulls the string of his swim trunks for me, loosening the waist, and my entire body tingles with anticipation as I slide them past his hips.

A/N: Yes, I know I totally cockblocked you, but passionmama has agreed to be my personal bodyguard until the next update. You'll have to go through her to get to me ;-) Next chapter will pick up right where I've left off, except in EPOV...*wink wink*

Thanks to ms-ambrosia for betaing and passionmama for prereading. And a big thanks to everyone who's reading and reviewing. I'm pretty sure this chapter will push me over 4k reviews, and that's just kind of astounding to me. Sorry I'm usually reply fail, but they really mean a lot.

This story is winding down...probably only two or three more chapters to go now, plus an epi. But I've been working on a new story, which I'm kind of excited to start posting soon, so put me on Author Alert if you're interested. I'll probably post the first chapter in a week or two.

You can follow me on twitter at mybluesky1 for teasers and updates. See ya next time!