A/N: I ended up with a couple of mostly complete chapters as I was writing that weren't entirely necessary. I decided to share some of those as outtakes so that I could keep playing around with my characters a little longer. This one takes place while Edward and Bella are in Colorado, the day after they've fallen asleep on the floor, post sex and s'mores ;)
And as a bonus, many of you had asked while I was writing about doing certain POVs, I made a few adjustments and worked this one out to be from Edward's perspective, just because. Hope you enjoy.
I wasn't entirely sure that this day could get any better. I mean I woke up this morning with Bella in my arms, my old tattered blanket covering the both of us as we lay on the floor in front of my fireplace. Honestly that would have been an amazing enough start to my day, but before I could even get my eyes open I was pleasantly surprised to find her practically crawling on top of me. A few seconds later I was able to discover her short list of demands for the morning, which included coffee, kisses, breakfast, and snuggles—at least I think that was the order. Anyway, I never thought I'd be labeled the snuggly type, but according to Bella I'm quite good at it; which is pretty awesome because I really, really like making my girl happy. And besides, it was thanks to her demands that we managed to have the leftover s'mores I'd promised along with our coffee; and afterwards we snuggled.
Now, I really don't know what her intentions were beyond that exactly, but as you can guess one thing led to another…and yeah; Best. Morning. Ever.
And of course, I know what you're probably thinking now, so I should go ahead and correct that assumption. We didn't have sex…technically. I mean it was definitely difficult to avoid the temptation, but I absolutely refused to let Bella coerce me into another round of intercourse so soon. However that didn't necessarily mean I could resist her altogether. I'm mean, I'm a guy and all, but the thing is I never want to disappoint her or give the wrong impression; I also despise the idea of hurting her.
She'd received me well…like, amazingly well, on the previous occasions and we were doing our best to communicate our feelings over this whole situation, but we had time on our side now and I really don't want to mess up such a good thing by being careless. Fortunately Bella seemed to understand my position, because she's awesome like that, and in any case the playfully intense interactions we did manage were quite satisfying. She'd even said so, which I know has everything to do with this stupid grin that I've had on my face pretty much all day.
In fact the only time I haven't been smiling today was for a split second when I'd found myself on the verge of what could have easily turned into a full scale panic attack. But like I said, this day could hardly get any better, so obviously it hadn't been anything to worry about; thank god.
But now you're wondering about that too, so I may as well tell you about it, especially since it actually turned out to be pretty funny in the end.
We ended up hiking for a while this afternoon so that I could show Bella around and hopefully impress her with some more of my "Boy Scoutiness," as she's come to call it. Yes I know, my Baby's a dork sometimes, but whatever. She's fucking adorable.
Anyway, we'd been walking all over, for hours, hiking along trails that I knew like the back of my hand, talking and laughing, just having a good time as always. Bella was fascinated by just about everything—the birds and plants and some of the interesting facts I was able to tell her about the area. There was even this silly little group of squirrels that she was convinced were following us.
Which is another thing; I absolutely love her imagination. One minute she was asking in a hushed voice, "What was that?" And when I'd pointed out the group of squirrels scampering around in a nearby tree she'd launched into this farfetched little idea about how they were spying on us, keeping an eye on where we went, since obviously we knew where the best food was; because to a squirrel we must seem huge, right? Frankly I couldn't argue with her logic either, but it was still so random that I found it ridiculous and somewhat brilliant at the same time.
She got a few extra kisses out of me for being so goofy, I'm not gonna lie.
Anyway it was shortly after the squirrels had managed to lose interest in their supposed 'recon mission' that it had started to rain. I should have seen it coming, but I was just too busy admiring her today to bother paying much attention to anything else.
Bella was cool about it though; she never fussed about getting wet or that the rain was cold, she just picked up the pace and hurried with me back the way we'd come.
And that's when it happened.
I should have seen that coming as well, but her laughter and the way her warm, damp skin felt under my hands, as I tried to keep her moving in the right direction and steady her balance all at once, was just far too distracting. Fortunately, because I'd been smart enough to keep my hands on her as we sloshed our way back I'd had enough time to adjust and catch her for the most part. Still, we'd both ended up taking a nice little roll in the mud when it was all said and done.
Initially my natural reaction was panicked, meaning I couldn't even begin to control the breathless sound of my voice or temper my worry, no matter how hard I wanted to try. It scared the hell out of me, you know; to think that way out here, all by ourselves, with no doctor or hospital nearby, that something could have happened to her—something that I couldn't handle. I was absolutely terrified by the very idea of it, convinced in that split second that I had somehow failed her by suggesting we come here in the first place.
But of course, while I was well on my way to a mental meltdown, Bella was laughing her head off. For whatever reason, while I was freaking out she was enjoying the hell out the situation.
I suppose her laughter was a good thing though, it distracted me and gave her the chance to interrupt my thoughts, assuring me that she was perfectly fine. Her reassurance allowed me to breathe a little easier, even if it did take a few more minutes to really calm down. It was then that I noticed the way she was smirking at me, with that all knowing look in her eyes. It was a look that made my heart quicken. She was on to me, and she knew exactly how scared I was, and she was about to tell me how unreasonable I was being.
The only thing that Bella ever seems to get upset about, the only thing we've ever argued about is my overprotective nature. It's a side of me that I have a terrible time controlling when it comes to her, but this afternoon I was determined that it wasn't going to screw up our perfect day. To insure that, I needed a way calm myself and defuse the situation, and when I thought about it an immediate solution had come to mind.
What you have to understand is that I was a mess, both mentally and physically, as I was practically covered in mud, but so was she, the rain still pouring down, literally soaking us. Still all I could think about was how much I loved her and how stunningly gorgeous she was in that moment. I'd taken an extra minute to convince myself that I had indeed managed to take the brunt of our fall and that our little tumble hadn't done any major damage, but eventually I was able to laugh along with her. And that's when I'd decided to act.
I'm not really sure why or how I had determined that this was a good idea; perhaps it was just the relief of knowing that she was really okay, and that she wasn't please by the intensity of my concern, but when I'd looked down at my mud covered hand, I just couldn't seem to avoid the temptation.
"You sure you're okay? You seem to have some mud on you." I tried my best to sound innocent, but I'm not a very good actor apparently. Perhaps my smile had found its way into my voice.
"What, where?" She was mocking me and I could tell, but I think I'd been counting on that.
"Here." I lightly touched the tip of her nose, "And here." Then I let my fingers trace the curve of her cheek, spreading a nice thick line of mud across her skin. I was grinning like an idiot again, totally giving myself away as I attempted to casually adjust my position next to her. It was just before I managed to force another "here" through a poorly disguised laugh that I finally tipped a handful of cold mud down the back of her shirt right as she was starting to squirm away.
"You…!" She never finished her thought, probably because she'd decided that a counterattack with her own fist full of mud was more affective anyway. I was sort of curious though, about what she'd wanted to call me, but obviously I wasn't able to think on it for long.
See, Bella's one hell of a lot stronger than you'd think and it took quite a bit of effort to survive her wrath, as we struggled to see who could splash and smear more mud over the other. So it was probably to my benefit when our laughter finally forced us to stop in favor of catching our breath. I might have started it, but she definitely had the upper hand when it came to wrestling with me—I'm just a little too willing to be pinned down I suppose.
In the end, I'm not sure how long we actually spent playing in the rain and muck like a couple of kids, but we eventually stumbled our way back towards the cabin, still laughing and holding onto one another, still trying to find any place we might have missed during our initial mud bath.
I've thought about it, and I'm pretty sure my mother and maybe even Alice might try to disagree with me, but I don't think I've ever gotten so dirty in all my life. It was worth it though when Bella wrapped me in a tight hug and went on and on about how much fun she was having as soon as we were safely out of the downpour, standing under the overhang of the cabin. That was right before she also decided that we couldn't go inside while wearing such muddy clothes and proceeded to strip, right there on my front porch.
It's not like I have neighbors, and I couldn't even begin to count the number of times I've gone outside here for whatever reason with basically nothing on, but seeing Bella pull her shirt off and step out of her jeans so casually…it blew my mind.
My fears had attempted to get the better of me only a short time before, and I'd been so adamant earlier that we could and probably should wait, but suddenly it was all I could do to restrain myself. Every thought I'd had this morning about giving her more time to get use to…us and…sex, seemed to fly out of my brain. I wanted her so badly, right there on the porch, in the rain, covered in mud.
So that's when I'd had to fall back on plan B. The plan that had been my saving grace more times than I care to count over the past few weeks. I had to step back and let Bella be in charge. Whatever she wanted from me I would give her, because I wasn't strong enough to say no anymore; but it had to be her call. She was in charge.
If she wanted snuggles and coffee, she could have it. If she thought we should get naked outside in the rain, I was all for it. And if she wanted me—any part of me, I was ready and willing.
So what did she want, you're probably wondering?
For me to give her some privacy after we'd shared the shower—which needs a serious cleaning of its own now—so that she could shave her legs.
Yeah, apparently sleeping in the same bed every night for the past couple of weeks, bathing one another on a routine basis and being intimately aware of every square inch of her body—how it looks, feels, tastes even—that doesn't qualify a guy to be in the bathroom when his girlfriend needs to shave. Who the hell knew? Obviously not me, but that's okay. Ignorance is bliss in this case—or at least that's how I'm choosing to look at it.
It wasn't so long ago I would have easily agreed with Bella and kept my mouth shut, but there's a lot about the new me that I like, and the fact that I can ask questions and offer alternatives without being afraid that she'll get mad at me is at the top of the list. As a result not only did I get to stay, but I managed to get the privilege of shaving her legs for her. Sounds sappy I know, but I'm a romantic and proud of it. That's right, I Edward Cullen like to snuggle and I am happy to shave my girlfriend's legs—hell if she wore nail polish you can damn well bet I'd volunteer to paint her toes too, so deal with it.
But besides that, she loves it when I let her shave my face, and honestly I love it when she does—there's something incredibly intimate about the whole process. All I really had to do was point that out and she'd been pretty receptive to the idea.
So, now we're sitting here in my bedroom and one of her perfectly smooth legs is propped up on a pillow with her foot resting on my knee so that I can replace the bandage covering her stitches. I'm doing my best to keep my nerves in check once again, going about my business as if I've done this a hundred times before and that the sight of a wound on Bella doesn't automatically send my blood pressure through the roof. The timid look she's giving me right now isn't really helping. It's as if she's embarrassed or something, which is not at all how I want her to feel when I'm trying my best to take care of her and keep my emotions out of the equation.
Finally Bella starts to speak I start to understand, but to say that I'm a little confused all of a sudden would be an understatement.
"Think it'll leave a scar?" she quietly asked.
It was an innocent conversational tone, but it was the look in her eyes that made me worry over where her thoughts were headed.
"Not anything horrible or disfiguring." I decided to make light of her comment, but that's when she looked down and started to apologize.
I hadn't thought about the fact that I was sitting there on the foot of my bed, with nothing but a towel wrapped around my waist, even though I was very aware that Bella was also in a similar state, nothing but a towel to cover her as she leaned against the headboard relaxing. It's just that I've gotten so comfortable being around her this way, that I don't always think about my scars anymore. I see them every single day and I know exactly how bad they look. It's why I was so terrified in the beginning that she'd be unnerved or maybe even frightened by their appearance. It's why I make an effort to hide them around Alice and my mom—to make sure they're covered when I'm in public. They've never seemed to bother Bella though, even if we've never really talked about it or discussed my accident since the night I'd told her about it in the first place. Now I'm starting to wonder if maybe we shouldn't have. Maybe I'd only been temporarily blessed with this ill-conceived sense of security.
"Bella…Baby, stop. What's going on?" I don't even know how I got from the end of the bed with her foot in my lap to having her in my arms, but that didn't matter. God, she's on the verge of tears and I have no idea why.
"That was a stupid thing to ask. I'm so sorry. I mean to think that some little cut on my leg…" She was rambling now, a handful of tears trailing down as she shook her head slightly, seemingly unsure of what else she could say.
"I don't understand, love. I'm not upset. You didn't hurt my feelings." I was at a complete loss. The only thing that made sense was that she must somehow feel as though her question had been offensive to me. Her fingers were delicately tracing the puckered marks on my shoulder and it was all I could do not to jerk away from her touch. I hated that I was just now finding out that she was somehow more affected by my body's scarred appearance than I'd initially realized. Had I known, I might have been more careful to keep myself covered. I mean being intimate and sharing space as often as we did I couldn't really see how to avoid her seeing me, but I would have tried. And I certainly wouldn't have said anything that could so easily be misunderstood, had I known how she felt.
"But Edward, you're so…so…"
"Bella…" God help me I was going to start crying too if I didn't get her to stop apologizing soon.
That really threw me. Even on my best day I'd have trouble accepting such praise, from anyone, Bella included. Now that I was convinced that she was beating herself up over something that I should have been more vigilant about, something I should have expected, I couldn't even process that she was calling me perfect. It rendered me speechless for a moment.
"Sweetheart, listen," she sniffled before continuing and my heart ached. "I didn't mean anything by that stupid question. It was just that, a stupid question." She sighed now, and removed her hand from my shoulder to quickly wipe away a few of her tears.
"I know how hard you are on yourself, that you blame yourself for all sorts of things that you have no control over. I feel so comfortable with you though, that I sometimes forget that. I know that your scars bother you and that you keep them hidden and I shouldn't have…"
"My scars don't bother me." I corrected her without even thinking. If we were going to have this conversation I wanted to be honest with her. It was obvious that we needed to talk about this and with the opportunity in front of me I wasn't going to let it pass by. Too many times we've moved on before really seeing both sides of an issue and this was one issue I needed her to understand.
"Bella, I see these marks on my skin every day. I've had them for years now and I've learned to live with their appearance, and the physical side effects of my injuries. I know that my touch is cold and that my right foot tingles more often than not. That has become perfectly normal for me. But I also see how other people react to them. My mother wants to cry every time she touches my hand. And Alice; the other night when she walked in on us and saw me without a shirt, I refused to look at her right away, because I knew exactly what to expect. She's very good at not looking at me."
She wanted to speak, I could tell. I could practically see the words forming inside her head, so I let her have her say, not really knowing what else I could do to calm or convince her.
"I was shocked when you showed them to me the first time." Her voice was quiet as her fingers tentatively started their exploration once more. "I had no way of knowing, but what surprised me more than the scars themselves was that you were willing to share this with me—that you trusted me that much."
"It was the same for me, when you shared your experience…from high school."
And it was. I was shocked by her ability and willingness to recollect such a tragic event, that she would want to share something so personal with someone like me.
"But that's why I could." She explained. "You'd shown me your scars already and that made sharing mine a little easier."
Bella gently kissed my shoulder before settling her head against my chest.
"I guess that's what I meant just now when I asked about my leg. You have scars from before I knew you…marks on your body that tell a story, that explain a little bit about who you are and what you've been through; and in a manner of speaking, so do I. I suppose I was really asking whether or not you thought this accident might count as a scar we've earned together, you know, something that was difficult and painful at the time, but something that will ultimately define a part of our relationship the way that our individual scars tend to define parts of our personalities?
"I just panicked a little when I realized how my poor choice of words might have been perceived."
Brilliant, I tell you! I'm completely and utterly amazed by the way this woman's mind works. She is always thinking on another level, coming up with ideas and concepts that the average person wouldn't give a second thought to, and I'm inclined to agree with her on this point.
The scars we carry with us are a reminder of our pasts. We learn from them and we become stronger because of them. Like the scars that decorate my body and those that cover much of Bella's heart, the scar that will likely be left behind once these stitches are removed from her leg will be a reminder of why we should always take time to talk. Why we should listen and compromise, and why at the very core, our relationship will always depend on our mutual understanding of each other.
I shifted our position after a moment and had Bella lay down beside me. I leaned over and lightly kissed her chest, just above her heart.
"My scars don't bother you?"
She shook her head and smiled shyly, which made me grin.
"So it's okay to keep walking around without a shirt on?"
Bella giggled at me and felt my heart lighten significantly. Because I could no longer avoid it I kissed her and she eagerly kissed me back.
I've come to understand some of what can be communicated in a kiss. This one said thank you as much as it said I'm sorry, but I understood why she wanted to convey those feelings. I knew better than anyone how easy it was to panic over seemingly mundane concerns.
My mind was beginning to shutdown, ready and willing to get lost in the pleasure Bella's physical presence could offer, but her tone brought me back.
My acknowledgment wasn't much more than a grunt, but Bella got me so it was okay. I'm sure she expected as much.
"Your scars are beautiful. They're as much a part of you as your eyes and your hands and your beard."
At that I pulled away and looked at her.
"I'd hardly describe them as beautiful." I made my voice come out gently, but honestly.
"Maybe not, but what they signify is."
And I could hardly argue with that.