The Cocky Speaks

This is a series of chapters, written from Edward's point of view, which serves as a companion piece to The Cocky and The Cougar (which is entirely from Bella's POV). The C&C should be read first, or you will most likely not know what's going on here.

This first chapter is a companion to Chapters 1 - 3 of The C&C (wherein Edward meets Bella at Newt's Serious 'Que).


Holy Shit.

These were the words I uttered as I watched her walk in. I saw her hair, first - a beautiful, very dark chestnut with just the right amount of curl to make it flounce around her as she walked. Christ, did she walk with her own, invisible fan blowing that hair around? But then I noticed...Fuck me, what a body.

By the time my eyes made their way to her face, she was sitting down, talking to two other girls. Even though I could only see her profile from where I stood with Jasper (and even then I had to strain my neck practically off my head to do so), I knew she was absolutely beautiful. No bones about it.

Jasper chuckled at me and looked where I was looking.

"Oh, man," he said. "You might wanna keep it in your pants. You're gonna be working with her come Monday."

"Huh?" I was a bit distracted and what he'd said hadn't even fully registered in my brain.

"She works for Con-Vert. In fact, she's the Director of Credit, so you'll probably talk to her a lot."

"Really?" My eyebrows raised at this bit of news and it actually excited me. If she was the Director of Credit, I'd be dealing with her often. The possibilities were endless and I was already envisioning bending her over the desk in my new office or escaping to some quiet file room somewhere.

Jasper was shaking his head, as if he could hear my thoughts or something.

"Edward, don't be dense. She's not some silly twit you can just screw and leave by the side of the road."

My head turned quickly toward him. "Hey, that only happened once and it was a really long time ago! Plus, she totally deserved it."

I'd known Jasper a long time – since we were at Northwestern together. I had initially wanted to live in a dorm. In a, granted short-lived, burst of independence, I told my parents that I didn't want them paying for me to live off-campus. I wanted to experience "real" college life and meet new people. That was before I spent a night with my roommate, Jefferson. And before I smelled his feet from the other side of the room.

I generally found myself searching high and low for some place other than our small shared space to sleep and more often than not ended up crashing on the couch in the main hall. That's where I met Jasper, who also hated his roommate. We hit it off immediately and stayed up most nights, discussing literature and art and philosophy and congratulating ourselves on our lofty intellectualism.

By second term, he and I were moving into an apartment together about three blocks from school, courtesy of my father. What can I say? I may have been a lofty intellectual, but apparently, I wasn't exactly proud. Jasper, though, got a job at a local hospital to pay for what he needed.

I wasn't the only one bringing girls back to our apartment, that's for sure. Jasper certainly had his fair share. But whereas he was more of what you might call a "serial monogamist", I tended to have short-term relationships. Very short-term. In fact, if they were there at night, they were most likely not there the following morning. I just never met a woman who could keep me entertained for very long and who I cared enough about to want to see often. Hell, I was young and single and it's not like the girls didn't want to be there with me. I think it's safe to say that they had a good time. And I never lied to any of them. They knew who I was and what I was about.

Jasper was still shaking his head. "Regardless. Think before you screw for once, okay?"

I heard a loud thwack coming from her table and I glanced back over there. She and her friends were giggling about something and the little dark-haired one was bouncing around in her seat and fanning herself with her hand.

"What's she like?" I asked Jasper, turning back toward him.

He shrugged. "I don't know, really. I've never spoken to her." He paused, taking a drink of his beer. "She has a reputation as being kind of…stern, I guess you'd say."

"Stern?" I grinned. "You make her sound like an old maid school teacher." She was definitely not an old maid.

"I guess she's kind of a hard ass. I don't know, though. As I say, I've never really met her."

"Well, she is Director of Credit. They're always hard asses." I glanced back toward their table again and it appeared I'd caught the little one looking at us, as well. "I bet I can soften her up," I said with a grin, taking a drink from the beer in front of me.

"Is she married?"

"Edward, I just said I've never even spoken to her. Why don't you ask her?"

"All right," I said, straightening and backing away from the bar. "Let's go."

It didn't take me long to figure out I was in way over my head with this one.

She introduced herself as, appropriately enough, Bella Swan. I got a shock from her hand as she shook mine, briefly. I know these things happen. I'd probably stirred up some static on the carpet as we walked over…except that the bar had hardwood floors. Anyway, I knew there was a logical explanation. But still – that shit was freaky. And the look on her face as she stared at her hand afterward let me know that she thought it was freaky, too.

She was indeed a hard ass…kind of. She came across, at first, as polite, but no nonsense and like she barely had a sense of humor. But she was whip-smart and before long she was shooting the one-liners at me like nobody I'd ever met. She made me laugh and she kept me on my toes and I'd only barely met her. Underneath all of that, though, there was something…else; something sweet, something vulnerable. That was what made my dick twitch while we talked. I knew if I could crack the exterior and get down to that, I'd find a real prize.

Sitting next to her, watching her as we all chatted, I was struck more fully by just how beautiful she was. She was probably a few years older than me, I guessed; but I didn't mind that at all. In fact, I kind of preferred it. I'd never had an older woman before. She had large, almond shaped eyes which were a rich chocolate color and she had the longest lashes I had ever seen in my life. If she were to blink fast, I swear she'd fucking fly away on those things. The few times her eyes met mine for longer than a split second, I literally thought I would drown in them.

Who the fuck was this guy thinking these sappy things about some chick he just met, anyway? It was disturbing.

Her lips were plump, but not like super-sized Angelina lips or anything. They were just plump enough, the bottom lip a little more so than the top, so it looked like she was almost pouting. And they looked super-soft. Two seconds after I introduced myself I was having visions of sucking that bottom lip between mine.

She leaned over to speak softly to me at one point – something flirtatious about how I needed to take a Sexual Harassment training class – and she offered me a perfect view of her apparently perfect tits as she did so. She had to know what she was letting me see. Here she acted all professional and tough and then she pulls something like that. When she leaned in to me, I could smell her. I let my nose drift through her hair for a few moments and I don't know what kind of shampoo she used or perfume she was wearing, but it smelled like sex and brownies, all in one erotic package. If we hadn't been at a table full of people, I don't know that I would have been able to stop myself from grabbing her right then and sucking those lips right off her face before burying my face between those perfect tits.

For starters.

She sat back in her chair. "Well ladies," she said, speaking to her friends. "If we're going to continue drinking I will need to eat something…otherwise, things could get ugly."

"Oh, well great," Jasper said, smiling like a buffoon. He was sure digging the little dark-haired girl, it would seem – Alice? Was that her name? "Edward and I were going to grab a bite here in a bit anyway. If you haven't eaten here, take my word for it - they have great barbecue. Would you all join us?" He looked at Alice as he asked and I almost burst out laughing. Obvious, much?

I looked over at Bella, since hers was the only answer I cared about. "You can't argue with a Texan when it comes to barbecue," I said, nodding toward Jasper.

She grinned. "I think some folks in Memphis may argue with you on that issue."

But we moved in to the dining room to have dinner anyway.

"So, we never asked." Jasper still had a tremendously goofy smile on his face. I wondered if I'd ever seen his quite this…taken by a girl before. "Do you all have - you know – boyfriends? Significant Others?"

"No," Alice said.

I looked at Bella, wanting – or rather, needing by this point – to know. "And you? No significant other?"

Instead of her answering for herself, her friend Rose piped in. "Bella is a divorcee'," she said, rubbing her hands together.

"Ooh, I like that term," Bella said with a glint in her eye. "Divorcee'…it makes me feel like, '1965-Reno-Rat-Pack-Cocktail-Parties'." They raised their glasses to one another's in a toast and I ginned at her description.

"Divorced, eh?" I raised my eyebrows as that old episode of I Love Lucy – the one with Tennessee Ernie Ford in it - came to mind. "Are you one of those 'wicked city women' my mother always warned me about?"

She winked at me and it went right to my pants. "You bet."

"Are you gonna vamp me?"

I was trying to be charming; funny, even. She just gave me a knowing grin which essentially said exactly what came out of her mouth. "Not in your wildest dreams."

"Oh, I don't know," I said. "My dreams can get pretty wild."

"Really? I studied Jungian Therapy in college. Perhaps I could help you analyze them."

I was about to start talking about dreams of trains and cigars, but it suddenly occurred to me that we were talking about the woman having been divorced. I don't know that I'd ever met somebody our age who had already been divorced. "Wait," I said. "You're divorced? How long were you married?"

"Thirteen years," she said.

What the fuck? "Wait, what? That can't even be possible. Did you get married when you were like, twelve?"

She rolled her eyes at me like I was the dumbest fuck on the planet. "How old are you, Edward?"


"Yes, well. I'm a bit older than you."

Yep. Just as I'd thought. But still…"Well, OK, but not…" I stared at her, trying to get a gauge on how old she was, exactly. "How old are you?"

Alice gasped. "Edward!" She almost yelled. "You shouldn't ask such a thing!"

I knew that had been a rude question. But I wasn't used to chatting up girls – women – who were so old that this was even an issue. I decided to play it off.

"Ah…we have a cougar in our midst, eh? Should I be concerned?"

From the abrupt change in the atmosphere, I knew I'd just made things about ten times worse with my big mouth. I really should learn when to just keep it shut. But honestly, I wasn't even sure what I'd said that was so wrong. "What did I say?"

"What did you just imply?" She was looking at me as if she could turn me to stone at any minute; like that witch in those C.S. Lewis books.

I chuckled, trying to remain casual about the whole thing and get us back on track. "Ah…you don't like being called a cougar?"

"Of course I do." Her voice dripped with sarcasm. "Why would I not love being compared to a predatory animal who crouches in the grass, only to jump out at poor, unsuspecting prey? Or, in this case - poor, unsuspecting men?"

I winked at her and grinned, trying again to be charming. "I'm not unsuspecting."

"And I'm not jumping on you."

Rosalie laughed out loud and Jasper seemed to be trying not to choke.

"Oh, come on." I said, not understanding in the least why she was taking all of this so seriously. "I didn't mean anything by it. It's a compliment."

"And yet, oddly, I do not feel complimented."

"Again with the compliments, Edward?" Jasper asked as he shook his head. "I think you should just start trying to insult her. Maybe then it will come off as an actual compliment."

"Besides," Alice piped up, cheerily. "Everybody knows you don't reach cougar status until the age of forty. Bella isn't forty, yet." Her eyes darted to her friend. "Are you, Bella?"

"No, Alice. I am not forty." She looked rather pointedly at me. "Yet."

"Why are you so embarrassed about your age?" I asked her. "Forty isn't old." I knew there was no way she was forty. She was probably only a few years older than I and just sensitive about it. I didn't see what the big deal was. I was almost certain that her friend Rose was older than she, in fact, and she didn't seem to have a care in the world. And why should either of them? They were both drop-dead gorgeous, although I obviously preferred the brunette with the wicked tongue.

Ooh…her tongue. I wonder what it tastes like. I wonder what it would feel like, wrapped around my -

"I am not the least bit embarrassed about my age, Mr. Masen," she said; although her tone said otherwise.

I chuckled, interrupting her. "Ah. It's 'Mr. Masen' now."

She continued as if I hadn't said a thing. "It's just that now you've sort of made it a bone of contention with me."

"Stubbornly biting down on that bone, are you?" I asked, again trying to get us back to flirtation mode.

She raised an eyebrow at me. "You betcha."

I pretty much felt that in my shorts, too, only not in a good way. I raised my hands up, in mock-surrender. "Okay, okay. Please forgive me. I honestly meant no offense."

She waited a few moments before taking a deep breath. "Fine," she said, finally. "I'll take your bone out from between my teeth."

Everyone at the table burst out laughing, including me. "Um…thanks." I said. "I feel so much more comfortable now."

Rose decided to take off then and I watched Bella as she said good-bye to her friend. I felt bad that I'd pissed her off and not only because I was really hoping to get in to her pants. She was really cool and I didn't mean to offend her in any way, even if I didn't really understand why she'd be insecure about her age.

After she sat back down and we'd had a few moments to collect ourselves, I decided to try and make peace.

"Hey." I said, softly. I didn't really want Jasper or Alice to hear what I had to say, although they were so wrapped up in the googly-eyes they were making at each other, I doubted they'd notice anyway. "I really am sorry about that. Sometimes I think I am being funny, but I'm the only one in the room laughing."

"No worries," she said with a shrug. "I'll live."

I smiled, hoping this was really the end of that nonsense. She really needed to know just how lovely and intriguing she was. "I wouldn't even have started all of that if I really thought you…Well, it's just that you're really so lovely." I felt like an ass saying this stuff; but it was true. "And obviously, you can keep me on my toes, which means you must be a pretty smart cookie."

"It takes an especially smart cookie to keep you on your toes, does it?"

In truth, I'd never met a woman who could – at least not as much as this one obviously could. "Well yes, actually; it does."

"Well, you know…I've had many years on this planet in which to gain the knowledge it takes to match wits with someone who is so obviously well-armed." Ah, that delicious sarcasm.

"And for the record," she said, "I am thirty-eight."

Really? That seemed unlikely. Still, though, I didn't care. I still wanted those lips wrapped around my dick as soon as humanly possible.

"OK," I said. "But you didn't need to tell me that."

She shrugged. "Why wouldn't I? You told me how old you are."

"You really didn't want me thinkin' you're forty, did you?"

She sounded exasperated and I wondered just when I was going to stop putting my foot in my mouth. "Yes, you caught me. That's exactly why I told you my age."

Alice interrupted us then and asked Bella to go to the restroom with her. What is with girls and always having to use the bathroom together, anyway? However, I was relieved. I needed to get my bearings and figure out how to approach this woman, since my usual tactics didn't appear to be working very well for me. We were having fun, sure; but I didn't think I was endearing myself to her, much.

When they were gone, Jasper turned to me.

"Hey man, Alice and I are gonna take off."

I shrugged. "Okay. Good for you. Have fun."

We sat pretty much in silence until the girls got back. Jasper seemed deep in thought and I didn't want to interrupt that.

When they got back to the table, Jasper stood, looking at Alice like a lovesick puppy. "All set?" he asked her, and she nodded.

"It was nice to meet you, Edward," Alice said as she shook my hand.

We all said our good-byes and I sat watching the lovebirds walk out, hand-in-hand. I was shaking my head.

"I think I'm gonna get a cavity," I said. Bella looked down at me. "They're just way too sweet."

She chuckled. "They are that," I said. She stuck her hand out in my direction, apparently ready to leave, herself. "Well, Edward, it's been an entertaining evening."

"You're not leaving are you?"

She pulled her hand back, slowly. "Well yes, actually; I was planning on it."

"No. Stick around," I stood up next to her. I really didn't want her to leave. I wanted to get to know her better and understand how I could talk to her without looking like an ass. I didn't want to be an ass to her. I wanted her to like me.

"Let's go back in to the bar and have a drink. You know, or ten." I grinned at her. Usually girls seemed to like my grin. I wasn't sure it was making any headway with Bella, though.

"Yes, I have found that most men like to drink heavily when forced to spend time with me."

"Sheesh," I replied, rolling my eyes. I liked her sense of humor, but I wondered if she would ever just back off and talk to me. "Seriously, let's have a drink together."

"I don't know." She eyed me comically. "We old ladies can't stay out very late, you know…Plus, I think a repeat of The Golden Girls is on Lifetime in an hour."

I shook my head, exasperated. "You are never going to let me live this night down, are you?"

She winked at me and in that one moment, I knew she would. "Probably not, no."

"Please. Stay and have a drink with me. I think I owe you one. Plus, as you can see, I've been deserted. The man I was supposed to spend the evening with left with your little friend."

She looked at me, quizzically. "You were supposed to spend the night with Jasper? Shouldn't he have told Alice he's gay?"

"Ha-ha," I said. She was smiling, beautifully. "A drink?"

And out came the puppy dog eyes. I only pulled them out when I got desperate, but they always worked. Always.

"Jesus," she chuckled. "Your mother gave you everything you asked for, didn't she?"

Of course, we moved toward the bar.

The place was getting crowded, but we found two empty stools at the end of the bar. Before we could even order, the bartender brought Bella a drink. What the hell? Was she a regular here or something? He even winked at her when she thanked him. Motherfucker. Didn't he see me, standing here next to her? How did he know I wasn't her fucking boyfriend? I ordered another beer, stifling the inclination I had to ask him where the hell he got off. Instead, I decided to ask her what the story was.

"What are you drinking?" I asked her.


OK, that was evident from the clarity of the liquid. "Vodka and…?"

"Um…ice cubes."

Well. Fuck me. Apparently, the girl was a drinker. I liked that. "Damn, you don't fool around, do you?"

"Well yes, I do…but not usually on the first date."

Yeah well, we'll see about that, I thought. But instead, I said, "Well then, here's to second dates."

I then asked her the question, straight out. "So…are you, like, a regular here or something?"

"No. I mean, I've been here a few times. This is the first time I've eaten here, though. Jasper was right – great food."

I motioned between the drink in front of her and the bartender as she smiled. "So…what makes you so special then?"

"I really have no idea." She swallowed. Hard. So hard I thought I might have actually gotten to her, in some way. I hoped I could do it again, but having no idea what it was that had gotten to her, I doubted the likelihood.

"Oh, I think I have an idea," I said.

"Do you, Kreskin? What idea is that?"

I looked toward the bartender and totally caught the guy checking her out. He quickly looked away from our gaze when he figured out I was on to him. The little schmuck.

"Uh-huh," I said. "He has a thing for you."

"A thing?"

"He thinks you're hot." It was so obvious.

"Or maybe he's just a really good bartender and remembered what I drink."

I looked at her, pointedly. Was she just being coy, or what? "I hate to argue with you yet again, Bella, but Jasper and I sat at this bar for a good two hours before you even got here and the guy didn't remember what I was drinking."

"OK, A – don't lie. You do not hate to argue with me," I grinned at her. She had me, there. "And B – if he does think I'm hot…well, the guy's got good taste."

I raised my glass to her. I guess I really couldn't blame the guy for having eyes, at that. "That he does."

"And C," she continued. She seemed a bit shy, all of a sudden. "You noticed when I walked in?"

Was she serious with this? I mean, she had to get noticed all the time, right?

"Of course I noticed," I said. "I tend to notice things of great beauty."

She blushed then; a beautifully pink, shy, school-girl blush. It was the sweetest, sexiest thing I'd seen in a very long time and I wanted her to do it again.

She chuckled, obviously embarrassed at her reaction to my compliment. "You are such a salesman."

See, I hated that shit. People think that "salesman" automatically equals "snake oil salesman". Plus, she had to know that I was serious when I said she was beautiful.

"Well yes, I am" I said. "And I'm a very good one. But you know what makes me a good salesman? I don't bullshit people. I get to know them; I get to know what they need, what they want. And then I sell it to them. A lot of people misunderstand what it takes to make a good salesman. They think you automatically have to bullshit people or try to get them to buy what you're selling, not necessarily what they need. Those people don't make good salespeople."

She smiled knowingly. "So you never use your charm to make a sale?"

"Oh I wouldn't go so far as to say that…I'm just saying I don't lie to people."

I looked at her and her eyes seemed to sparkle up at me. There was an intense heat passing between us, no doubt about it. I knew she felt it too as she blushed again, making me smile.

She quickly looked down at her drink, but I was having none of that. I lifted her chin so that her eyes met mine again. Holy Christ, she was gorgeous, and never so much as when she was caught off guard as she was now.

"So I wouldn't say somebody is beautiful if it wasn't true." I smiled again and ran a finger along her perfect cheekbone. She was so soft. "I may be incredibly charming, but I don't just make shit up to get what I want."

I really wanted to kiss her. So much so that I had to take my hand away from her face or we'd make a spectacle of ourselves in the bar. Not that I cared at all, but I had the feeling she was not that kind of girl.

Woman, I reminded myself.

"Besides," I said, regaining my composure. "I have the feeling you and your friends noticed Jasper and me, as well."

"Oh?" Her own composure was back now and she quirked an eyebrow at me deliciously.

"Yep. Your little friend was practically bouncing out of her seat."

She smiled. It may have been a tad condescending in nature. "Well, if you must know," she said, "I did notice Jasper. I knew he worked with me, but I couldn't quite place him at first."

Uh-huh. As if she hadn't noticed me, as well.

"And yes," she admitted. "Alice found him very attractive. So she was – excited about that. Alice can be…effervescent."

Was she seriously saying they didn't notice me at all? "Yes, I noticed."

"It's a lovely thing. She's energetic and fun to be around."

"Hey, I didn't say otherwise…I was just…curious."


I got to the point. "You didn't notice me? At all?"

She smiled again. I loved that I could make her smile so much, but I didn't much like that it usually seemed to be at my expense. "I hate to burst your bubble, Romeo, but we could hardly see you. Until you came over to our table, all I could see was your ass."

I chuckled. "Oh. Well, good thing that's one of my finer qualities."

"You think so?"

"You don't?"

She laughed and shook her head. "Jesus, you are one cocky son of a bitch."

I laughed along. "I don't think it's a good idea to call Jesus a cocky SOB, Bella."

She continued laughing. "Ha. Well, I hear our god is a forgiving god. Lucky for me."

I stood and moved my stool a little bit away from her. "Well, I'll be over here anyway – just in case of a lightening strike."

She laughed again. I could seriously listen to her laugh all fucking day and not get tired of it.

"So why did you get divorced?" I'm not quite sure why that question cane out so abruptly.

"Excuse me?" she asked. She seemed taken aback.

"What? Sore subject?"

"Well…Not really, I guess. I was just taken by surprise. I mean, how does one transition from discussing the glory that is your ass to my divorce in a heartbeat?"

I chuckled again. "Well, we can continue discussing my ass, if you prefer."

"Um – well…my husband cheated on me." She shrugged. "You know – they're going to get married soon; they have a baby. It all worked out in the end."

"And you?"

"And me, what?"

"Have things worked out for you?"

She nodded. "Most assuredly."

"You're happy?"

She nodded again. "Quite. Besides, I wouldn't be here with you now, if not for his cheating. I'd be home, with him. So it's all good, right?"

Fuck, she was practically perfect. And exactly right about that.

"Well then," I said, my glass raised. "Here's to your philandering ex-husband."

She finished her drink, then, and said it was time for her to leave. I didn't want her to leave. I wanted to stay at that bar all night; or at least until I could convince her to go home with me. Instead, I finished my own drink.

"I'll walk you to your car," I said, my hand at her back.

As we walked toward the parking lot, I started to realize that I liked this woman. I mean, really liked her, liked her. It was weird. It had certainly been a very long time since I'd felt anything like this, especially having just met her hours before. There was an obvious and somewhat overwhelming attraction between us, yes; but it was so much more than that. I found myself wanting to know more about her – her politics, her passions, her past – everything. I was not usually a guy who cared much about these things at all.

I totally knew what I was doing when I led her to my car instead of hers. I wanted to extend our time together as much as possible and more than that, I was still kind of hoping I might get her to go home with me. I knew it probably wasn't a good idea, seeing as we were going to work together; but honestly, I just didn't even give a fuck. I wanted her and I wanted her badly. If nothing else, though, I was going to taste those luscious lips of hers sooner than later.

When we reached my Volvo, I leaned up against it and pulled her to me. I knew she had to be feeling this too. I could see it in her blushes and in her eyes.

I brushed my lips along her jaw bone and heard her breath hitch.


"Mmmm…" I moaned softly against the skin behind her ear and placed a soft kiss there. She really smelled like heaven.

"I –I 'm not sure we should…"

I felt her squirm a little as I nibbled at her ear. "Not sure we should what?"

She pulled away from me and I thought my heart might explode over the loss. If I didn't get to kiss her soon I was definitely going to lose some of my mental faculties.

"Edward…" she said, and as she looked up at me, I could sense that she was warring with herself. The look in her eyes was unsure. I almost let her go then. I did want her, do doubt about that; but if I had misread her and she didn't want this, too –

To say she laid one on me would have been the understatement of the year. I smiled as I pulled her more tightly to me, my tongue inside her mouth in an instant. She tasted every bit as good as she smelled, too. I laced the fingers of one hand in her hair, holding her delicious mouth to mine, while my other hand wandered her back, ticking at the soft skin just below the top she wore. Her skin was like silk on fire. I felt her hands moving over my shoulders and down my arm and as she gave a little moan. I thought for sure she could feel my cock about to break through my pants in an effort to get to her.

She pulled away slightly, breaking our kiss. I hoped I hadn't offended her by just ramming my hard-on up against her like that. It had been more instinctual than intentional. I was breathing fast and trying to calm myself.

What the fuck was going on here, anyway? That one kiss had turned me on more than any of the last several fucks I'd had, combined.

"Wow," I said. I kissed her forehead. I just had to kiss her now, I didn't even care where.

"Mm-Hmm," she said. I smiled, as she was obviously as overcome by that kiss as I had been.

I lifted her chin, intending to again find her lips with mine. Now that I'd had a taste of them, I needed more. But she stopped me.

"Edward," she whispered against my lips. I halted my trajectory, but did not pull away.

"Yes?" I kissed her lightly on the top lip. I couldn't not kiss her when she was this close.

"I -"

I ran a finger down her beautiful throat. I wanted to feel if her heart was pounding like mine was. She shivered under my touch, making me smile. I knew she wanted me, probably almost as much as I wanted her.

"We - we'll be working together. As of Monday...I just - I think we should think about this."

Well, that was a buzz kill. Who wanted to think about work at a time like this?

I pulled her forward, resting my forehead against hers. "I have found," I said, moving my fingers through her silky hair. "That when you think too much about this sort of thing, it tends to fuck things up." I kissed her on the nose.

"Maybe," she said. She took a deep breath and seemed to be regaining some bit of control over herself. "But still - I need to think about it. That's me. That's who I am."

I didn't want her to think about this. I didn't want all of her neuroses to resurface and interfere with what we had going on now. I knew now that she was passionate, that she could let loose and have fun and giggle and blush and show her soft underbelly. And I wanted more of that soft underbelly.

"Yes," I said softly. "But I have seen glimpses tonight - don't get me wrong. I love that you have a brain and I love how you use it." She blushed again and I smiled. "But I have seen glimpses tonight of the Bella you are when you turn that brain off. I want to see more of her."

I pulled her to me again in another fiery kiss. She moaned from someplace deep within her and she ran her tongue along my lower lip. Fuck, that was delicious and I opened my mouth and pushed my tongue out to meet hers. The electric shock we'd felt when we shook hands now seemed to be creeping through my entire body. I was flooded with heat; with that hot current. It was overwhelming and I could barely breathe.

I broke our kiss and pulled away, straightening up as my hand moved from her lower back to my face again. I smoothed her soft cheek, pink now with passion, and ran a few strands of her hair through my fingers. I had no idea what was going on, here, but I had to get a grip.

"Jesus, Bella," I said, shaking my head. "I'd better get you to your car, eh? Don't want you committing any professional faux pas you'll regret later."

I could barely believe the words as they came out of my mouth. Was I seriously offering to take her to her car and end this night? I knew, though, that we had to. I didn't want her to do something she'd regret and…well, I needed to think about this. I was obviously not dealing with the same kind of girl I usually did and the feelings she was stirring in me were something completely unexpected; something completely new to me.

She smirked up at me in defiance. "First of all, I drive a truck. Secondly, what happened to 'turn off your brain'?"

"Well," I almost laughed at the way the tables had turned. I kissed her lightly on her lips, instead. "I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't give you the opportunity to think this through. I wouldn't want to deprive you of your favorite past time." I kissed her again, more intently. I was rapidly discovering that I couldn't be this close to those lips and not kiss them. Her hand went to my hair, weaving through it until I thought the heat under my skin may cause me to spontaneously combust.

"Come on," I said, dropping my hand from her face. If we didn't get out of there now, we never would. "I'll drop you at your truck.

"Sure. You'll drop me…"

"Come on. No funny business, I promise." I gave her the Boy Scout's salute and opened the passenger side door for her. "Scouts honor."

"Something tells me you were never a Boy Scout," she said as she slipped into the seat.

We pulled up to a decrepit piece of shit which looked like it may once have been owned by Buddy Holly. Since it was the only truck in the lot, though, I knew it had to be hers.

"This can not possibly be your mode of transportation."

We joked back and forth about it for a few minutes and it felt good. I needed to just laugh off some of the sexual tension which had been steadily brewing all night. I needed to get my head back on straight.

And then that all went out the window when she explained why she loved the truck so much.

"It was my dad's. I took it when he died a few years ago…You know - it's all I really have left of him."

I sat back in my seat, caressing her arm with the back of my hand until I reached her face.

I had never been that close to my father – to either of my parents, really. They had shipped me off to boarding school at a fairly young age and while I saw them most weekends, it never really felt like they were a part of my life. My dad seemed to think that so long as he gave me money whenever I needed it, or bought me cars and clothes and concert tickets – whatever I wanted – that was all he needed to do in order to be a good father. But looking in to Bella's eyes as she spoke of her own father, I felt the deep love she had for him and how much she missed him. It made me long for her even more.

"Well," I could only whisper, as my voice seemed lost. "That makes perfect sense then, doesn't it?"

I pulled her closer and in for another kiss. Her hand fell to my chest as I did so and I covered it with mine, holding her to me.

When she pressed her hand lightly against me, I broke our kiss. I knew it was a good thing. I knew I had to get away from her, before I never wanted to leave.

"Yeah," I said. My voice sounded husky and I cleared it lightly before speaking again. "I guess this is good-night, then."

She started to leave, but hesitated and turned back to me. I smiled, understanding completely not wanting to leave. As she leaned toward me though she took my chin in her hand and turned my face forward. Before I knew what was happening, I felt her tongue at my collar bone. She ran it up the side of my neck, over the edge of my jaw bone and to the back of my ear where she gave me a little nip before kissing me there. It was such an intimate, unexpected gesture. I chuckled.

"Sorry," she smiled at me shyly. "Just had to. Your jaw bone right there is like…it's like some seriously erotic porn."

I laughed. I hadn't heard that one before. "Jaw porn?"

"Exactly." She said, giggling softly. "Well…Thanks. I mean, for the drinks and for dinner and everything."

I chuckled darkly. "Oh, honey. This wasn't dinner. This was just an appetizer."

I watched as she got in to her crappy old truck and all of a sudden I was worried. Not only had she been drinking, but I would not have been surprised to find out that her stupid truck literally fell apart from under her while she was on the way home. I wondered where she lived and was about to get out of my car and ask if she wouldn't prefer that I take her home when she backed out of her parking space.

I waited for a moment. She was stopped at the light at the end of the street before I started moving again. Almost as if I hadn't thought about it or about the potential consequences if she saw me, I followed her. I stayed back a respectful distance, but I followed.

Just to make sure she gets home safely, I told myself.

She didn't live far. We drove maybe ten minutes before she was pulling into a driveway which I assumed to be her own. It was an older house, built in the Craftsman style; beside it was an attached overhang, under which she parked her car. As she got out of the truck, I could see her legs in the soft glow of a porch light as she turned back to retrieve her laptop and purse from inside her truck. She then turned and walked up to the door at the side of the house, letting herself in. Another soft, small light barely brightened the inside of her house as she walked inside.

And so it was that I found myself sitting in my car on her street.

This was fucked up. I knew, even as I shut down the Volvo's engine that this was some seriously fucked up, stalker behavior. And yet, I did it. I parked my car and looked through the windshield. I could just barely see through her front windows. She was standing by a dining room table, looking down at something that appeared to be her mail. She threw it down on the table and moved. For a few minutes, she was out of my sight and I assumed she'd gone to bed. I almost started my car up again in order to leave; but then, through the windows on the other side of the front door, I saw her walking around. Thankfully, she turned on another light so I could see her as she sat down on a sofa.

I wish I had a pair of binoculars.

I almost slapped myself at that thought. Just how crazy had I become, anyway? I could no longer pretend that I had followed her for her own safety. She was obviously home now, safe and sound. Why was I still sitting here? More importantly, why was I watching her like some psycho peeping tom?

Yet, I did it. I watched her. She wasn't even doing anything all that exciting. She turned on the television for a while, watching the news, it appeared; then she turned it off and seemed to be reading for a while before she rose from the couch, turned off the lights and disappeared from my view.

I hung my head against my hands on the steering wheel and breathed a heavy sigh. I was in way over my head.