I know, I suck.
Here's the chapter...
Apparently, I'm using fancy lines instead of those little stars this time.
When Edward woke up, his face was partially hidden in a mess of long, brown hair.
And then he was looking into the deep-brown, alert eyes of his Bella, who didn't seem at all sleepy. Rather a bit anxious.
"What?" he grumbled and covered a yawn.
"Morning," he frowned, cast a quick glance at his alarm clock and groaned. Quickly, he planted a kiss on Bella's head, and then proceeded to roll out of bed, not minding about his almost-nakedness.
"Fix us some light breakfast, will you? I'll just go upstairs for a few minutes. The gym."
Bella sneaked a peak at him and blushed, but narrowed her eyes when she heard what he said.
"It's not the 50's, Edward," she exclaimed, a bit too loudly.
"Just do what you're told," he snapped back, not feeling in a particularly good mood this morning. He had woken hours later than he was used to, and was stressing out about bringing Bella to brunch with his family.
Edward stalked out of the room and slammed the door shut behind him.
"Yes, I'm pissed off. It's a normal, human reaction when someone calls you 'ass'. Didn't you promise to be good?" Edward fumed, and let his hand fall down hard on the steering wheel.
Bella jumped slightly, but continued to argue.
"I'm not going to be good, if you're not being good."
Edward pushed down the breaks violently before a red light and turned to face the irritating little girl to his right.
"You're in so much trouble when we get home."
"So you're going to spank me just because you're in a bad mood?" she spat, tears forming in her eyes.
"You are being disrespectful!"
"So are you!"
Edward clenched his jaw. He supposed he hadn't been on his most gentlemanly behavior this morning. He silently fumed for a few minutes while sneaking occasional glances at Bella who was stubbornly staring out the window with teary eyes.
"I'm sorry," he grumbled gruffly, "it was disrespectful. I apologize."
She sniffled before mumbling something Edward couldn't quite catch.
"My pills are in the bathroom at home... I mean my parents' apartment. I'm just... unbalanced. Birth-control, you know..."
Edward groaned. Jesus. Women.
And then he felt bad. The poor girl couldn't help it. He had been inconsiderate and ignorant of her needs. Sweet little Bella who couldn't help her terrible luck; did it have to be Edward who found her on that roof?
But he didn't regret taking her home with him. He couldn't regret it, not when she was such an adorable, enticing girl.
Gently, he grabbed one of her hands and held it, squeezing it reassuringly.
"We can go to your apartment after brunch, if you'd like. Do you need to pick up anything else?"
As usual, they were straddling a very fine line between soft-spoken compliments and harsh words.
When they stopped in front of the restaurant and Edward handed his keys over to the valet, he found that Bella was not very eager to step out of the car and into the restaurant.
Quietly insistent, he pulled her towards the entrance by her hand.
Sighing, Edward stopped and faced her, placing a comforting kiss on her forehead. The truth was, he was suspecting that introducing her to his parents would be quite the disaster. He wasn't sure that they would approve of someone so young, or how they'd met. Or that he'd known her less than week.
"You have nothing to worry about. Even if they disapprove of our... situation," Edward frowned at this, "they would never show it. They're too well-mannered."
Though he would definitely hear about it later.
"Can't you just say that we're friends, Edward? Please? What are we anyway? I'm not your girlfriend... please, Edward?" Bella begged and stared up at him with wide, pleading eyes.
That look could make anyone cave, so Edward closed his eyes and cursed under his breath.
"They wouldn't believe it for one second. And I thought we had already established that you were mine?" he said, and added the last part hastily.
In the meanwhile, Esme and Carlisle Cullen were watching their interaction through the window where they were seated, waiting for their only son.
"Did he mention a girl to you?" Carlisle asked his wife, and smirked (not wholly unlike his son) when Edward seemed to try to resist what could only be referred to as 'puppy eyes' from the mysterious young woman.
"No, not at all," Esme answered distractedly, trying to figure out who the pretty, brown-haired girl could possibly be.
She choked on her coffee when Edward bent down and kissed the girl, holding her to his lips by a hand on the back of her head for a long moment.
Edward had never been a big fan of public displays of affection. Esme turned to her husband and smiled giddily.
"I suppose it's time to plan a wedding and start knitting bootees, don't you?"
"Yes, perhaps this time, darling," Carlisle replied, unconvinced.
"Mom, dad, this is Isabella," Edward introduced her, holding her firmly to his side.
Bella was slightly irritated (it seemed like Edward was immune to even her biggest pout), but smiled anyways. The scene reminded her of the high-society parties she had been forced to when she was younger, or the awkward dinners. Smile and nod. Smile and nod. For God's sake, behave yourself, Isabella.
Carlisle stood up like a gentleman and shook her hand, just to proceed to kiss both her cheeks. She knew where Edward got his good looks from now. If only the gentlemanly behavior could have been passed down, as well.
He was a handsome man (not quite as handsome as Edward, though), with icy blonde hair and icy blue eyes. Bella wasn't good with guessing ages, but he seemed to be in his late fifties. Or maybe early sixties. Or late sixties.
Esme remained seated, silently communicating her shock to her son. She hadn't heard a thing about a woman, or girl. However, she tactfully buried her concern about the more than obvious age-difference between them, and fired off her warm, reserved-for-family-only, mother-smile, and squeezed Isabella's hand gently.
Esme looked just like Edward and had his coloring, only a way more feminine version.
"We're very pleased to meet you, Isabella."
Bella blushed and Edward sighed in relief.
The two parents watched curiously as Edward pulled out her chair and placed a light kiss on the top of her head. While Esme tried to choke back an awed sound, Carlisle thought of the few girls they had had the opportunity to meet. He recognized the type in Isabella: the shyness, the small physique, the air of innocence.
His son was indeed very particular about his preferences.
"So, Isabella, how did you meet Edward?" Carlisle asked after the couple had ordered, frowning when she shot Edward a panicked look.
Edward himself smiled pleasantly and sipped his coffee.
Don't sweat it, Bella, he thought.
"Uhm... we, we ran into each other... at Goldman, eh-,"
Esme tried to save the obviously distressed girl by glaring mildly at the two men.
"Oh, so you work there?" she smiled.
"Bella's had some trouble with her family. Quite the tragedy. I think she will start college this fall, won't you, darling?" Edward piped in, knowing he was unfair towards Bella, but still a little bit angry that she had had the nerve to tell him she wasn't his.
He regretted it when she gave him another desperate glance.
"Anyway, we're very happy together. Very," he stressed, smiling apologetically at Bella.
The rest of the brunch passed in a slightly more relaxed mode, except for the occasional questions Edward knew were best to dodge.
After almost two hours, they bade each other farewell and took off in opposite directions, Carlisle and Esme eagerly discussing the new relationship in the cab home.
"She's a beautiful girl, don't you think?"
"She is. But she's just the same as every girl he's introduced to us."
"How so?" Esme scolded. She had thought Isabella the loveliest so far.
"You and I both know he's only interested in one type of women, love."
"And which type might that be, Carlisle?" Esme asked, already knowing the answer.
She didn't know if she should be ashamed of her son. If his attraction to the meekest girls was something that could be blamed on his upbringing, or if it was simply no different than his taste for, let's say, chocolate croissants.
They were living in the twenty-first century, and Esme knew he didn't mind women he wasn't interested in to have a career just as successful as his own. But god-forbid anyone he was drawn to, to be independent and strong.
She couldn't figure it out.
Carlisle was mostly worried about their strange behavior and the fact that Edward appeared to be very much taking advantage of the young girl. At this time, they had to be in completely different stages of their lives.
The way Edward had been acting towards her had been almost rude in the beginning, and Carlisle was definitely going to have a little chat with his son about the right ways to treat a woman.
Bella had been fuming throughout brunch. His parents were just as bad as he was. Did they even realize that she was sitting at the same table?
Edward answered every question they had asked her after the initial one, and after that, they simply chose to ignore her.
It was unfair and it was mean. Rude. She had glared down at her plate as the conversation had been carrying on in front of her.
Without her participation.
Well-mannered, my ass.
"I don't like your parents," she stated bluntly in the car to her parents' apartment.
"I figured," Edward muttered and patted her leg. He could kind of understand why. After he'd told them her age she'd been treated like a child. He was disappointed in them. "I'm sorry."
He wasn't even sure that they were aware of the fact that they had acted very rudely.
And he didn't realize that Bella found his own behavior just as appalling, the only reason she didn't mention it was that they'd already started this day off as shaky, and she was about to risk to ruin it completely.
"Can I ask you something, Edward?" she asked nervously, thinking about the thing that had bothered her since she'd met him. And now that she'd met his parents; Carlisle had been the perfect gentleman (towards Esme at least) and Esme herself appeared to be quite the strong, modern woman.
"Why do you... why are you always so-, you're very-,"
"Controlling, abusive, chauvinistic, asshole-y?" he spat, his defenses up at once (perhaps too quickly). He glared at Bella before turning his eyes back to the street. "Trust me, I've heard it all."
"But I don't understand, Edward. It's just... you've, uh, spanked me. It's... difficult to think that you're not just using it as some poor excuse for... for... God, I don't know. Abuse?"
"So you think that, what, hitting women until they cry is a turn-on for me?" Edward was incredulous. He'd tried to explain it to her, how he didn't get off on what he'd done to her. "It's just sex, some bondage. It's about pleasure, not pain. I have no wish to see you cry. It's no worse than liking different types of food."
"So why did you do it to me? If it's just about sex? And I cried, Edward. It did hurt."
Edward was quiet, upset that she was upset. Had he spanked her against her will? Had he hurt her? The thought of hurting her... It sliced through him like the blade of a very sharp knife.
"To help you," he said quietly, blinking away tears. "Didn't I?"
Bella stayed quiet, anxious about her own answer, remembering all too well the relieving pain, the outlet for her mental anguish.
"Yeah," she breathed.
He nodded, almost dizzy with relief and dried a tear off his cheek. He was stubbornly keeping his eyes straight forward.
"I'm sorry. Really. Sorry," she whispered, taken aback by the vulnerability he was showing.
"This happens every goddamn time, you know," he started, his voice hoarse. "I find a lovely girl, a lovely woman... think she's right for me... and as soon as I show her the real me, she's off like a fucking cheetah."
They were silent the rest of the way, except for the occasional, whispered directions from Bella.
When Edward opened her car door, she tried to lighten the atmosphere, but with a serious offer.
"Will you feel better if you... you know... spank me?"
He barked out a frustrated laugh at her offer, kissing her head. He grabbed her hand and led her towards the entrance.
"Bella, Bella, Bella..."
"What?" she blushed.
"If I did, I'd have to fu- make love to you afterward... I don't like doing it just for the hell of it... or maybe I do, huh," he smirked, and lifted his eyebrows suggestively. "But I'm not going to... rob you of your innocence," he continued and pretended to swirl a mustache.
Bella stared at him wide-eyed and incredulous. Innocence? As in virginity?
A nervous giggle escaped her.
"I'm twenty, you know."
"I'm not... I've had sex before."
This was getting ridiculous, and it didn't help that giggles were bubbling up inside of her, refusing to be held back. This was absolutely the most embarrassing thing ever.
Edward paused just outside the door, staring down at her.
Innocent Isabella? With her blush? Her shyness?
And who the hell had she given herself to?
Edward didn't know if he should be amused or angry. Or just plain... turned on. There was no symbolic stealing of purity, no physical barriers, nothing stopping him from taking what he wanted.
Except for Bella, of course.
She was a blubbering mess as she watched different emotions flicker over his face. He was completely frozen before her. She patted his chest lightly, and a snort escaped her when she caught his shocked eyes.
However, her laughter came to an abrupt end when his expression changed to one she recognized from yesterday: the narrowed eyes, the grim line of his lips, the dangerous air around him.
She swallowed hard and slowly opened the door, trying to escape while staring into his eyes.
"Do you want it, Bella? Want me?" he whispered, stopping her from opening the door by putting a hand over hers. He stared down at her petite body, her doe eyes, trying to read what she really wanted. She was too desirable for her own good.
When she hesitated with wide, apprehensive eyes, he stroked her cheek, ignoring the disappointment coursing through him. He'd known the poor little girl for less than a week. And they had enough problems to deal with as it was, without his inappropriate attraction to her.
When Bella saw his expression change into pity, she fiercely slapped away his hand.
"Yes, I want you," she hissed, angry with him for turning into someone who was like everyone else. "Not your fucking pity."
His eyebrows rose at her crude language, and he tapped a warning finger against her lips.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck," she singsonged, sticking her tongue out. He was so overbearing.
"Jesus, Bella," he groaned, holding back laughter and ignoring her positive answer to his earlier question.
After getting the key to the apartment from the lobby guard where she'd left it, they were finally situated in the bright, painfully sterile and modern apartment of her parents.
Edward winced at the white surfaces and complete lack of personality. His own house was filled to the brim with things he appreciated and brought back nice memories to him.
He couldn't imagine living like this.
Casting a worried glance at Bella, he could see her visibly tense at the sight before her. He frowned and wrapped an arm around her, not sure he (or she, for that matter) could handle another breakdown.
She smiled tightly at him.
"Uh, this is... my place," she said awkwardly, and simultaneously fought back memories of all the fights, the tears, the yelling. Why hadn't she just behaved? She knew she was being punished for it.
But stubbornly, she had decided to spare Edward anymore tears and leaned into his chest to borrow some strength.
He was just as tense as she was.
"Give me ten seconds," she sighed and stumbled off towards a hallway.
Edward followed quietly, smiling when she opened the door and revealed the dream that was her room.
It was also white, eye-burningly so, but it was so very... fluffy, as well. The carpet, the bed, the lacy curtains...
It was like heaven. Bella had lived in her own little cloud.
In a bold move, he sat down on her king-sized bed and smoothed the covers. He stayed like that until Bella returned from the en suite, toilet bag in hand and stared at him in surprise.
He wanted to kiss her in here, like a teenage-boy's first time in a girl room.
"Come here, Bella."
She stood before him and smiled at his expression. She liked it; it was a little dangerous, a little lust filled and very much tempting. He looked like a dark demon in his suit against the creamy white covers of her bed.
Her bed was high enough that they were eye-to-eye.
He placed his hands on her hips and smiled reassuringly; he never knew how she would react. Though she did seem relaxed as she she even showed a little toothy smile.
She looked young, but oh, so tempting.
"I like that smile," he said, "it makes me want to kiss you."
Before he really had time to decipher what had happened, she had placed a smacking kiss in the corner of his mouth, and uncharacteristically gracefully skipped around the bed, so that the (in Edward's eyes) now insulting object was between them.
Edward stood up.
She wanted to play.
She really wanted to. Her heart was beating faster in childish joy at the game she had come up with, even though she felt a not-so-childish tightening in her stomach when he licked his lips with a dark frown on his face.
He was such a funny man. She found herself actually enjoying teasing him and taunting him. In the moment his frown turned into a smirk, she almost found him insanely attractive.
It was a strange feeling. How she could go from comparing him to her father, to thinking of quite the steamy things involving him. But she felt young and free and playful, and didn't care enough to analyze it any deeper.
He was hot. (At least when he was like this)
Bella threw him a kiss across the bed.
"Ed-ward," she mimicked.
"You do know that I could just walk around this bed and catch you, don't you?"
"You could try," she giggled.
Edward relished in the sound of happiness. This was what he wanted for her. What he wanted for them.
And so he continued the game, the one he felt slightly too old for.
"Hmm... I like you this mischievous. It gives me a reason to-,"
"Yes, I would. We've had this discussion. I like it in this context."
He smiled, broadly and genuinely when she didn't blanch, or showed any signs of being reluctant to the idea.
"I won't do it if you come here and... give me a kiss," he offered, his voice low and stern.
Bella pouted. Before she remembered that he seemed immune to it. Then she scowled.
"I don't think so, Edward."
"Well, you terrible girl, if that's your choice."
Edward stalked around the bed, and simply threw a squealing Bella over his shoulder. She shuddered when his warm hand and calloused fingertips founder their way under her black frilly, skirt and stopped at the lace rim of her stay-ups.
It was intimate. And it was welcomed.
Edward closed his eyes and stroked the smooth, sensitive skin of her upper thigh with his thumb. He felt that inexplicable tenderness towards her again. And he wanted to keep her, forever, he wanted her to be his and only his. He wanted to make her happy.
He laid down and brought Bella on top of him, smirking and trying to shake off his sudden seriousness.
But she saw it, how his expression changed into that adoring look. Not even his careful fingers against her thighs could distract her from it. She kissed him softly.
And whimpered when he pressed her firmly against him.
She whimpered again when his kisses became more frantic, aggressive, and he moved to hold her by her hair, turning her head in whatever direction he found the most pleasing.
It brought a small thrill through her.
This was what he liked.
His mouth was warm and soft, two adjectives Bella didn't really associate with him. That didn't make his kisses any less exhilarating at all.
Edward broke away from the kiss and moved his hands to her backside to rub little circles just beneath her the silk of her panties She was young and malleable against his hands. And too desirable for her own good.
"That's what good girls get..." he whispered
After landing a hard, (and not-so-unexpected), slap against her behind, her hips buckled against his own, and he groaned.
"And that's what bad girls get?" Bella breathed as Edward smiled smugly. "You're so predictable, Edward."
"Bella..." he warned when she rubbed lightly against him. He had a hard time remembering that she wasn't innocent, but this had certainly proved her quite the opposite. But then again, he wasn't sure he liked it.
Typical manly behavior. Of course he wanted her pure and innocent and completely inexperienced. Bastard.
"What?" Bella asked, her insecurities making themselves known. He was the one who had initiated this whole thing... kind of. She clumsily got up from Edward and the bed, blushing furiously.
"Nothing, Bella," he sighed, frustrated. "Sit down." He sat up and patted the space next to him invitingly, willing away his body's reaction to what had just occurred.
She scrunched up her nose in displeasure, but did as she was told.
After a minute of heavy silence (and just as heavy breathing), Edward sighed again.
He hadn't meant to hurt her with his reluctance... however, he felt a certain amount of responsibility for her, and was not too keen on letting her do anything she regretted.
(And besides, he wanted to be the one to initiate things between them.)
Grasping for possible subjects, he asked her about her parents.
"Do you want to tell me about your parents? Or childhood?"
His softly spoken words combined with the concern he was expressing made her irritable.
"I thought you were sending me off to a shrink tomorrow."
Bella grimaced, stared at the walls and pretended she wasn't in her old bedroom. Maybe it would feel good to share.
"Daddy was... I don't know-,"
"Do you have to call him that?" Edward snapped. It sounded... so much like something a twenty-year-old shouldn't call her father.
"Mom was always kind of... she always did what he told her, I think. It was ridiculous. When they weren't traveling, she always acted like... some perfect housewife."
She had a difficult time to find words. She had analyzed her past more deeply than she perhaps should have, and she supposed her childhood wasn't the most ideal.
"That's why you were upset this morning?" Edward asked, feeling the familiar sense of guilt again.
"I don't know."
"It's okay," she paused, "I was spoiled when I was little. I think I still am. I got a diamond necklace from Tiffany's on my tenth birthday. Dad gave it to me. I like jewelry... designer clothes... things like that."
"I'll remember that."
"Good," she giggled.
"He hated it when I started high school. He never let me go out on the weekends... I still had a freaking nanny when they were abroad. I had enough when he cancelled my sweet sixteen party.
"After that, I started my... rebellion. Hung out with Jacob and his friends, got a fake ID... It was ridiculous. Dad hated me... stopped giving me things. And mom just tried to smooth things over. She never did anything to defend me."
Edward clenched his fists.
Bella huffed and rolled her eyes. She knew Edward well enough now that she realized he assumed the worst.
"He never touched me, Edward, or hurt my mom. Don't be ridiculous."
She patted his fist in a move Edward found slightly patronizing. He glared at her, but immediately softened his expression when he saw hers. It was twisted into grief.
Edward made up his mind, thought of the guilt he'd felt since he'd met her, how he only seemed to make things harder for her. He wasn't what she needed.
She needed someone softer.
Someone less moody.
Someone who could comfort her and kiss her instead of punish her when she cried.
And definitely someone who didn't remind her of her father.
But before he could voice his opinion, she hugged him tightly, seeming to never want to let go. Edward was thankful that she didn't appear to be crying.
Hesitantly, he hugged her back.
"You're not like him, I promise. You're good to me."
"Right," he breathed, kissing her hair.
He'd have to be better.
Jasper Whitlock was at the same time picking up his new lady friend from the Goldman Sachs building on Broad Street.
Why she felt like she had to work on a Sunday was beyond him, but nevertheless, he was patiently waiting by her desk as she dropped a few papers off in her boss' office.
Sitting down in her swivel-chair, he spun around a few times and the leaned over the papers that adorned the place, pulling a hand through his neatly combed curls.
Blaring alarms went off in his head when his eyes zoomed in on two very familiar names.
What. The. Hell?
"Alice!" he barked, just as she closed the office door.
"Jasper?" she sighed. What was wrong with all these men and their orders... She wasn't a bloody dog. Rolling her eyes, she sauntered over to her new friend and peaked over his shoulder.
"What the hell is this? Why do you have these papers?"
She stared dubiously at his handsome, panicked face, pursing her lips. His blue eyes penetrated hers accusingly.
"My boss asked for them."
"Why?" he ground out through clenched teeth, and swiftly reached for his cellphone.
This was bad news.
"Because," she spat, "he's dating their daughter."
Alice was a bright woman, and if her womanly intuition was right (which it always was), this had something to do with Jasper's job. He was working for the Central Intelligence Agency (a thing he described as not nearly as glamorous as it sounded). Alice didn't know more than that, and it was perfectly fine with her.
After all, she was just as married to her job as Jasper was.
"He's not trying to investigate this any further, is he?" he snapped as Alice picked up her Mulberry bag from the floor.
"Not that I know of."
"Good. Make sure the bastard doesn't."
Alice shrugged at him. "Okay."
Jasper sighed deeply in relief. Edward Cullen was dating their daughter. Not... anything else. The phone call could wait. No need for damage control.
"Well," he cleared his throat, "ready for our date?"
Alice flipped him off with a scowl on her face and pointed towards the corridor, telling Jasper to find the way out on his own.
No one treated her like that... and no one called Edward a bastard. Except for Alice.
Huh, so the parents didn't even realize that they were rude.
And what's up with Mr and Mrs Swan?
I'm not turning this into some crazy agent-story. Even though I was Sydney Bristow's biggest fan when I was younger.
I'm not sure I'm turning it into anything. We'll see about the next update. Eeek.