The "AwkWard" Contest
Story Title: Deadliest Catch
Pen name: araeo
Disclaimer: SM owns all but the crabs. No copyright infringement is intended. The Discovery Channel owns the title Deadliest Catch...get it? Crabs? I kill myself...
To see other entries in the "AwkWard" contest, please visit the C2:

A/N: Mucho thanks to LaraIsAwkward for the emergency beta, and as always, thanks to EchoesOfTwilight, AmeryMarie and Nerac for the laughs and encouragement. Big thanks also to AngstGoddess003 and manyafandom for hosting this contest. This was a lot of fun to write.

This is for L, because I once begged her to name E's junk Eddie Munster, and she didn't get the chance. ILY.

Deadliest Catch

My name is Edward Cullen, and I have crabs.

Wait - it's not what it sounds like. Allow me to explain...


Two weeks earlier...

Mondays could suck my white-chocolate salty balls. I was late to class, since some asshole cut me off for the last parking space in the student lot closest to the biology building. After hoofing it three blocks from the university parking garage in the rain, my mood was in the crapper.

I didn't miss the pointed look Professor Lee gave me as I slunk into my seat with a whispered apology.

"So glad you decided to join us, Edward," he said with a smirk. I rolled my eyes in acknowledgment, knowing he was just fucking with me. It was a favorite pastime of his ― I was one of his favorite students, since I was the only one to get a perfect score on his evolution final last year.

Professor Lee was the best teacher I'd ever had - proven by the fact that he'd managed to convince me that there was more to the life sciences than medicine. He'd opened a whole new world to me: a world filled with battles for life and death, overflowing with subterfuge and subtle attacks that nearly took an organism down before it even realized it was sick.

I know...I'm strange. How insane is it to admire things like intestinal worms and ticks and plasmodia?

So here I sat, less than a month away from the end of the summer semester. We were supposed to get our assigned organisms for the final project today. It was exciting, because I was a nerd like that. Professor Lee had explained our assignment at the end of last class, and I was practically chomping at the bit, ready to start digging in-depth into the life cycle of whatever creepy-crawly thing I was assigned.

The project was an oral presentation, as told from the host's point of view. In addition, we were to come up with a journal of sorts, chronicling the progression of the infection. As we got closer and closer to the end of class, I started wondering what parasite I'd be assigned. Surely Professor Lee would give me an awesome one, like trypanosomes or botflies.

"Before I dismiss you, I'll read off your assigned organisms for the final project," Professor Lee was saying. "These were chosen randomly, so no complaining. No switching is allowed."

My mind was instantly trying to predict what delightful creature I'd get to study. I heard the professor assign Trichomonas vaginalis to Jane, the crazy bitch who sat in the front row. to be her. Though from some of the things I'd heard, I wouldn't be surprised if her research came from personal experience.

I smirked to myself, dreaming of the comical results this assignment would likely have.

"Edward," he chuckled, a Cheshire Cat grin giving an evil cast to his face.

Bring it on, Lee. You can't gross me out. It's impossible.

"Phtirius pubis," he said simply, unable to hide his laugh as he moved on to the next student.

I was in shock.

Phtirius pubis? As in, pubic lice? CRABS?!

What the fuck?!

I was going to have to stand in front of twenty-odd people and give a presentation on a sexually-transmitted parasite.

And I was going to have to present it as if I actually had crabs.

Did I say Professor Lee was a nice guy? Boy, was I wrong. He'd just earned top billing on my shit list.

I fucking hate parasitology.


That day from hell was why I was currently hiding in the depths of the Seattle Public Library in full disguise, a table full of books ranging from entomology to sexually transmitted infections/infestations. It was a Saturday afternoon, and all my friends were planning on attending some huge kegger tonight.

I was planning on a night in. With my crabs. And I didn't even get the pleasure of the sex it usually took to spread the little monsters.

A bulky, black hooded sweatshirt made up the majority of my disguise. I'd taken off my mirror-framed aviator sunglasses after people on the lightrail kept looking at me like I was the fucking Una-bomber.

Come on. I'm a hell of a lot better-looking than Ted Kaczynski.

Tugging the hood forward just in case anyone wandered to this dungeon-like corner of the library, I sighed and focused on the text in front of me. Twenty minutes later and three versions of the CDC treatment guidelines for sexually transmitted diseases later, I was in possession of more details about the crab louse than I'd ever wanted to know.

Just reading about them gave me the creeps. But oh, lucky me ― the articles were filled with crisp, invasive images as clear as the scanning electron microscope could make them. I wondered if everyone else would find the photos as disturbing as I did. Fed-Ex/Kinko's had pretty reasonable prices...I could probably afford one giant, glossy photo of my little bloodsuckers.

Those motherfuckers were straight out of Starship Troopers. Except this time, I didn't root for the insects to suck all the stupid, pretty actors dry.

I remembered having lice once as a kid, when I was in kindergarten. I'd been one of those kids with a long mop, like Uncle Jesse's kids on Full House. My mother was one of those women who never wanted to cut her son's pretty, thick hair. I was still mortified every time I saw a picture taken before I was six.

Getting lice had almost been a blessing. The other boys had always teased me about my "girl hair," so when I'd been caught suspiciously scratching my scalp just before the annual lice inspection in the school nurse's office, I'd jumped at the chance to eliminate that little problem. I insisted on shaving my head, and my father had backed me up, much to my mom's disappointment.

As soon as my "girl hair" was gone, I was Baldy. When my hair grew back, it darkened from its former blond glory to some strange golden-brown color tinged with red, and it hadn't been the same since. It always looked like a cow had been using my head as a salt lick for months.

I soon learned that it didn't matter what my hair looked like, those dumbasses just wanted someone to make fun of. I was the red-headed stepchild all through elementary school, and got bumped up to Raggedy Andy in middle school. When I reached the ninth grade, my older brother, Jasper, christened me Rudolph in front of the entire basketball team, and it stuck.

Sometimes, I hated Jasper and his normal blond frizz. Everyone else in our family had some version of blond hair, except me. I really was Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, able to guide everyone through the fog with the electric red glow of my coiffure.

Fortunately for me, my idiotic hair seemed to be my major selling point with the ladies. But the package wrapping ― so to speak ― only served to draw them in. My conversational tendencies, however, didn't do much to help close the deal. I supposed it was kind of a mood killer when I busted out the Red Queen Hypothesis and the evolutionary arms race on the first date. That didn't stop me from doing it, or something similar, every single time. It was my way of weeding the garden, so to speak. If I couldn't have an intelligent conversation with a girl, why would I want to spend time with her?

Because you're in dire need of some ass, my friend.

Okay. So my inner frat boy had a point. However, since my secret Greek self didn't exactly care about things like grades or a career, he often went ignored. I stretched in my seat, wincing as my back cracked in protest at the shift in position. Deciding to stretch out under the table, I used my backpack as a makeshift pillow and settled in for another riveting hour in the world of dirty, bloodsucking crabs.



Community service blows.

I supposed that's why they called it community service. It would be a huge letdown if they called it super-happy fun time. Then again, this probably was super-happy fun time compared to an eight by eight cell I'd have to share with Large Marge and her crew.

I was lucky I had family in law enforcement. A brother and father on the force is a good asset to have when you're looking at a grand larceny charge. I was coming off a rather short "bad boy" phase, and my ex-boyfriend, James, had enjoyed taking me for motorcycle rides. He just couldn't afford a motorcycle. James was an all right guy - incredibly good looking, but it was obvious that while he was blessed in the looks department, he wasn't the smartest bird in the flock.

To make a long story short, Charlie and Emmett had been furious when they'd bailed me out of jail one spring morning after a night of joyriding with more ways than one. My father and brother were thoroughly scandalized, but I think they were more concerned about the teasing they were sure to get at the station from my arresting officers. Not only had they caught us with a stolen motorcycle, they caught us making out in a public park.

Charlie, my retired police chief father, had been devastated when I admitted I'd known all along the bike was stolen. I broke his heart a little that day, and things hadn't been the same since. He wasn't so angry with me anymore, but the mood between us was still a little strained.

They'd tried to ground me, even though at twenty-three, I was a little too old for that sort of punishment. Though, I supposed Charlie thought he was well within his rights as a parent, since he was still paying for my college career.

Two major changes and four years under my belt, and I was nowhere close to getting a degree, though I had more than enough total credit hours for graduation. After two years of producing mediocre art at best, I'd finally settled on a major in art history with a chemistry emphasis - I found art restoration fascinating.

To delicately peel away centuries of dirt without damaging the precious paint beneath, restoring the world's masterpieces for the world to see... I couldn't imagine anything more interesting. Hopefully, my work would take me all over the world, allowing me to see everything this planet had to offer while I did something I loved.

But today, I was about as far from such utopia as I could get. It was better than jail, however. I'd rather spend my Saturdays re-shelving books at the public library than picking up highway litter on the chain-gang.

I sighed as I hefted the pile of books left out from the night before and began my long trek throughout the book-lined maze. Surprisingly, returning those books gave me some pretty revealing glimpses into strangers' lives. I learned what interested the people within these walls, what sparked their curiosity enough to research some unknown topic.

I had to admit, sometimes it was far from boring. Soon, I was down to my last two books - both on entomology. I shuddered, terrified just thinking of insects and how they dwarfed the human population in terms of sheer numbers. Thank god those evil little things were so tiny - otherwise we'd be living in a low-budget horror movie.

It was that thought which occupied me as I rounded the corner of the last aisle, scanning Dewey and his decimals so I could put my last books to bed. As I approached the very corner of the building, I could see that some library hermit had set up a nice little research station at the lone table in front of the window.

A soft snore caught my attention, but the source wasn't immediately apparent. It was then I noticed two large feet poking out from under the little round table. One of the worn, black Chucks twitched in time with another snore, causing me to snort loudly as I stopped to watch.

Nosy wasn't a word that usually described me, but there was something extremely amusing about those huge feet and the adorable snore that went with them. Hugging the books to my chest, I knelt next to the table to take a closer peek at the rest of him.

I hoped it was a guy...because a girl with feet that huge was just...wrong.

Huge feet...

All thoughts of large pedal appendages reminded me of something else I'd been missing since this spring. James had hightailed it the fuck out of Dodge when he found out half of my family was employed by the fuzz, leaving me high and dry. His defection hadn't exactly left me devastated, but I'd been sorely lacking in the male companionship department ever since.

Shoving thoughts of my lackluster love life aside, I stuck my head under the table, blatantly spying on the sleeping library patron. A hardback book was open face-down over his lap, the huge black letters of the title proclaiming to hold all the facts of phylum Arthropoda in one convenient text.

I immediately made up a story to go with the book, as I usually did to pass the time on these slow Saturday mornings. In my mind, the as-yet unidentified patron was a budding entomologist...perhaps he was a young Gil Grissom, boning up on his knowledge of all things creepy-crawly so he could use his super-genius to solve this week's mystery homicide.

As my eyes traveled upward, I was gifted with a small strip of toned skin just below what had to be the most perfect navel ever formed from an umbilical cord. The crowning glory was the incredibly lickable trail of hair that led under the waistband of his worn khaki shorts. It reminded me of burnt spun sugar, decorating his flat abdomen with minuscule strands of burnt sienna heaven in a marking that was no less significant than an "X" on a pirate's treasure map.

Wow...I think I finally understand the meaning of "baghead." I'd hit that based on the happy trail and abs alone!

My perv-a-licious eyes finally made it to his face...only to be knocked out cold as my brain comprehended the gorgeous male specimen in front of me. Disheveled reddish-gold hair crowned the most handsome combination of male features I'd ever seen. His perfectly symmetrical face alone was enough to bring a smile to my lips; an ideal combination of beauty and masculinity, blending together to form a godlike creature of unbelievable attractiveness.

I licked my lips in anticipation, ready to crawl on top of him and ride into the sunset with my six-shooter and trusty steed. Unfortunately, while my hormones were in overdrive, picturing the demigod before me in less than appropriate clothing ― okay, no clothing at all ― the man-god started to wake.

My mouth was watering as I took a second, slower perusal of the man-buffet laid out before me. The heavy books dropped out of my hands with a dull thud, startling sleeping beauty. As if I'd been blessed by the gods of sex-deprived college students, Mr. Yummy-and-Delicious jerked, sending the text covering his crotch sliding to the ground and revealing something very surprising.

Wow...I thought that only happened in the morning, not every time a guy went to sleep!

I couldn't help but was right in front of my face. I suddenly wished for a camera ― it really was worth recording for posterity...

"Holy shit!" he yelled, sitting up and banging his head on the bottom of the table. "Fuck!" He gingerly touched his head, checking for blood, I assumed.

"Shh!" I whispered at his expletives ― it was a library, after all.

"Shh??" I find a sleeping guy ― an extremely hot sleeping guy ― and I "shhh" him? Jesus, I need help. Think!

He just looked at me in bewilderment, rubbing his head with one hand and protecting his crotch with the other. I wasn't sure if he thought I was going to junkpunch him, or if he was trying to hide his excited state. If that was the case, he needed something a lot bigger than his hand to hide it...

"Are you okay?" I asked, pushing my dropped books aside and inching closer on my knees. His eyes grew wide as his cheeks flushed with ruddy color, and he even backed away a bit. Shit, did I look super scary today? Did I have something in my teeth? I barely resisted the urge to check my reflection in the shiny metal leg of the table. Instead, I stared like a diaper-wearing, peanut butter-loving Peeping Tom at the dazed man in front of me.

His eyes were green...the deep green of the nighttime forest, the gloomy color brightened infinitely by flecks of bright gold and celadon. He blinked slowly and gave a little shake of his head as his other hand dropped to his lap. I almost sighed in disappointment.

He still hadn't spoken, and awkward silence was never something I'd been comfortable with.

"Are you all right?" I asked again. Say something!

"Uh...yeah, I think," he finally said, shifting nervously as he brought his knees up to better conceal his...situation. I had to bite my lip to keep my whimper of dismay from escaping.

"So, are you going to hide under there all day?" Not so brilliantly witty...but I had to occupy my brain with inane small talk so I wouldn't blurt out something about his afternoon-wood.

"What?" He looked puzzled as he stared back at me with those bedroom eyes. If he wasn't careful with that...weapon of female destruction, I was going to shove him to his back again and join him under that table. Thankfully, he seemed to gather his wits. "Well, I would get up, but there's someone in my way," he said with a self-deprecating smirk.

"Are you sure you don't have a concussion? You looked pretty out of it."

"I'm sure," he said, laughing. "Are you going to let me up, or not?"

"Oh! I'm sorry," I sputtered, backing away on my knees. Of course, klutz that I was, I fell backwards, right on my ass. A long-fingered hand appeared in front of my face.

"Need some help?" God, his voice was sexy...

Grasping his hand, I pulled myself to my feet. "Thanks. And I'm sorry for startling you...sometimes I'm too nosy for my own good." I looked up into his face...Lord, he was tall.

"It's no problem. I'm glad you woke me, actually. I should be working." He smiled then, and my lady-parts were very pleased. His friendly grin made him even more attractive, if that was even possible.

I pointed at the books littering the table. "What are you reading?"

He turned red. Beet-red. Crayola red. This is going to be interesting, I thought to myself.

"Oh, it's just an assignment for this class I have." He shoved his hands into his pockets and rocked nervously on his heels. "Which I really should be working on right now," he mumbled, averting his eyes.

Realizing I was monopolizing his time, I struggled to find away to excuse myself without proclaiming my undying lust for his body.

"Oh, okay..." I trailed off, turning around in a circle as I looked for the books I'd dropped a few minutes ago. When I came up empty, I found Man-Candy standing in front of me, arms extended as he practically shoved the books in my direction. I took them, holding them against my chest as if they were a shield. "Okay, then. I'll just be going."

"Wait!" he said as I turned away. Too eagerly, I whirled back around with what was likely a shit-eating grin on my face. He picked up the lucky book that had been gracing his lap a few minutes earlier, holding it out. "Do you know where I could find volume two of this book? I can't find it anywhere."

Damn it. Don't get your hopes up, Bella...did you actually think he was going to hit on a girl who scared him awake while staring at him like a total creeper?

"Uh, I think. I have to run back to the desk and look it up first. Someone might have checked it out."

"Never mind, then. I have three weeks to finish this thing, so I can find it the next time I come in," he explained.

"Okay...but let me know if I can help you in any way." Shit. That totally sounded like I was propositioning him. I might have been, but still...

"Sure," he said, fidgeting with that glorious mop on top of his bed-head. Did his voice just crack? Fuck, that's adorable.

He said nothing more, so I decided to try and make a graceful exit. "Well...happy studying."

"You too. I mean, happy shelving," he finished, shrugging.

I giggled like an idiot. "Thanks." Pointing to the book he held, I couldn't resist asking one more question. "What are you working on, anyway? It must have been some...interesting reading material."

He paled, his mouth dropping open in shock. Oh, hell...I just admitted to noticing his boner!

But, was worth noticing, so I couldn't blame myself. Actually, I couldn't do anything but turn a shade of red I was sure matched the one he currently sported across his cheekbones.

"I...I'm working on an assignment for a class I should have never taken. It's an oral presentation." Fuck me, he said "oral..." "On parasites. I have crabs," he rushed out, and I couldn't contain the laughter that burst out of my chest.

"You have crabs?" I giggled, stunned at his revelation. I felt bad, because all I could think was how jealous I was of the girl who'd given him crabs...if only since it usually required pelvic contact, which was something I desperately wanted with him. Even if he had the sex lice. I could stomach a little itching and some RID shampoo if it meant I got to get up close and personal with the package he was hiding in those fuck-me jeans.

"No! Oh, God. I have to do a presentation on pubic lice. That's what I meant."

"Right. It's don't have to explain." He was getting so red I was afraid he might have a stroke.

"No, really, I do. I promise, I don't actually have crabs. It's an assignment for this stupid class. I have to give a presentation on a parasite from the viewpoint of the host."

"Well, that's good to know," I murmured in a low voice. Where the hell had the sex vixen come from? The realization that I didn't even care hit me like a ton of bricks. He'd had me hooked from my first glimpse of his naked abs and obscene treasure trail. I wanted to know this guy...and not just in the biblical sense. "My name is Bella, by the way."

I stuck out my hand nervously, watching as he simply stared, his beautiful eyes flicking back and forth from my face to my hand. Finally, he took my fingers in his, shocking the hell out of me. What the fuck? It's too wet in Washington for that kind of shit!

"I'm Edward. It's very nice to meet you, Bella," he said, using what had to be the equivalent of my sex vixen voice. I nearly dropped to my knees in supplication. This man had a voice for mind-control...and God help the world if he ever decided to use it for evil.

"You too," I croaked, licking my suddenly bone-dry lips. "I'll see you around...I'm here every Saturday." Backing away, I offered him a nervous smile. "Maybe I'll see you next week." He nodded, holding his hand up in a wave.

"Bye, Bella," he murmured, shoving his hands into his pockets.

Jesus Christ...I'm done for. Stick a fucking fork in me...



I can't believe I fucking told her I had crabs!

I thought I was dreaming when I woke to an angel's face staring down at me. My eyes had locked onto hers like a heat-seeking missile. I couldn't have peeled them away had I wanted to.

Unfortunately ― or fortunately, depending on how I looked at it ― there was another missile just itching to hit the target in front of me. In my pants. At first I thought she hadn't noticed it. Then she had to go and make a comment about my "interesting reading," her lips curving in a little half-smirk I wanted to lick right off her face.

Since she hadn't slapped me for my very inappropriate display, I could only assume she had chosen to ignore it...or had she been pleased?

Eddie Munster liked the latter idea. So did I, actually... Those eyes had seemed to see right through me, hypnotizing me with their velvety brown warmth. I couldn't imagine them with a cold or angry cast ― it seemed impossible for that face to exude a less than friendly vibe. Her features, while taken separately were nothing special, but when combined together, gave her a quiet, unassuming beauty. But it was her eyes that sucked me in ― they saw everything at once and still searched for more. She seemed like someone who listened, someone who wouldn't make me feel as if I was simply being tolerated.

For the five-millionth time this week, I wished I'd been bold enough to ask for her number. While the frat boy inside of me had screamed that I should "hit that like the fist of an angry god," the coward he lived with was strongly against making any kind of advances when Eddie Munster had practically assaulted her. Of course, I obeyed the coward ― he was usually thinking with the big brain, and therefore made somewhat intelligent decisions.

Which brought me to the reason I was standing at the bottom of the library steps, staring up at the large, hulking building. Would I see her today? She'd mentioned something about Saturdays, so while I had most of my research done for the project, I'd come crawling back, hoping to spy on Bella the Library Goddess.

I'd actually come back every day since, which was why I had my project nearly complete three weeks before it was due. Every day, I'd trudged up these steps, hoping futilely for one glimpse of her, only to be disappointed.

Once I'd set up camp in my usual spot on the third floor, I powered up my laptop, shaking my head at the picture of the crab louse in all of its glory, memorialized by the electron microscope for all to see. It was the cover page of my powerpoint presentation. Yes, I'd actually written up a slide show for this project. It was probably overkill, but what the hell else was I supposed to do with my time? I'd needed something to do, since I didn't want it to look like I was a stalker...even if I technically was one.

After about thirty minutes, I grew impatient. God, the library was one of the most boring places on Earth. I went exploring, roaming through aisle after aisle of musty books that must have had two decades' worth of dust coating the spines. I smirked to myself. Bella was slacking off.

I turned a corner and ran straight into a pile of books, catching my heel on the sticky industrial carpet. Tottering backwards, I knocked into a metal cart, making a loud clanging noise as I likely dented the flimsy material.

"Goddamn it," I growled, forgetting to use my library voice.

"Shh!" came a soft hiss from the other side of the aisle. I'd know that shush anywhere!

I practically skipped the few steps over her, finding her just on the other side of a large bookcase, on her hands and knees collecting spilled books.

Now that's a view I wouldn't mind having in a picture frame...

"Let me help you with those," I offered, kneeling to collect a few hardbacks. She looked up quickly, her eyes widening in recognition a split second before a huge smile lit up her entire face.

"It's you!" she said loudly, dropping most of the texts in her excitement. At least, I hoped it was excitement, and not sheer terror at finding a stalker hovering over her, holding heavy objects in his hands.

She wouldn't be smiling if she was afraid, you idiot.

"It's me," I returned lamely, giving her a big, goofy grin. I helped her to her feet and started grabbing books again, afraid if I didn't keep myself busy, I'd just continue to stare at her.

"How are things, Eddie?" I flinched at her butchering of my name. It was still better than Rudolph, however. Hell, I'd answer to Shitbrick if she was doing the name-calling.

"I'm doing well, Bella. And how are you?" was a wonder I wasn't a twenty-one-year-old virgin. I probably sounded like her grandpa.

"Oh, I can't complain...well, I can, but I don't want to ruin your day," she said with a smile. "You didn't like it when I called you Eddie, did you?"

Perceptive little thing. "Not really, but if that's what you want to call me, I'll take it."

"So it's just Edward, then?"

"Just Edward. Like the old man on the corner. The one who obsesses over his grass."

She laughed, and I felt like I'd been showered in fucking bubbles of fairy dust. Resisting the urge to check and see if I was covered in glitter, I ignored the inner frat boy, who was berating me with slurs regarding my sexual orientation.

"Okay, I'm not going to annoy you over something as silly as a name," she laughed. "I'll pick something much more fun to pester you with."

"Great. I look forward to it," I quipped. "Speaking of annoying, I should probably let you get back to work."

"Oh, no! Believe me, you're much more interesting than shelving these books."

Yes! Cue the frat boy fistpump.

"At least let me help you, then," I suggested, taking the entire stack of periodicals. "Lead the way. I'll be your pack mule, senorita." Senorita? Fuck. Who am I, Juan Valdez? One step forward in coolness, followed by two epic leaps back.

"Sounds good." She arched a brow in my direction and started off, giving me the most delicious view of her ass.

"So, you're not working on your little crab problem anymore?" There was a smug lilt to her voice, and I could tell she was smiling just from the sound. I hurried to catch up to her, because while I loved ogling her ass, I really wanted to see her smile again.

"Funny," I said flatly. "Just taking a break." To stalk you.

"What is it this week? The clap? HPV?" I'd love to give you the clap...Christ, I need help. Did I really just think that?

I laughed uneasily, trying to put a cork in all the inappropriate thoughts running through my mind. "Nope, just crabs. Gonorrhea and HPV aren't parasites."

"Parasites?" she asked curiously as we rounded another corner. She stretched up to shelve a book, causing her tank to ride up in the back, revealing a tiny sliver of pale skin and the soft groove of her spine. My fingers itched to touch her, and it was a good thing they were occupied with a stack of books, otherwise I might not have been able to stop myself. "Hello? Earth to Edward...take me to your leader?" Take you? I'd be happy to.

Wait...what the fuck was wrong with me? No one ever really said that!

Bella was still staring at me with a questioning look, and I realized I must look like a mouth-breathing buffoon.

"I'm sorry, what?"

"You said something about parasites, and then you spaced out."

"Oh, right! I was just talking about my class. It's parasitology."

"What? You mean it actually has its own class?" And cue the running away.

I sighed, steeling myself for her retreat. "Yeah, it's a bio elective. We're studying all the human parasites."

"That sounds disgusting...yet strangely interesting," she mused, more to herself than to me, I thought.

"It is to me," I admitted.

"So you're studying bugs and worms and stuff?"

"Some, yes. We're also studying lots of single-celled organisms that target human populations in underdeveloped countries."

"You mean like malaria? Damn mosquitoes," she grumbled.

I think I'm in love...she knows mosquitoes are the main vector for malaria...

"Yeah. Just like malaria," I said with a grin. She winked at me as she moved down the aisle, and I'd be damned if it didn't wake up the Munster. I wondered if there was somewhere I could pull off a reasonably inconspicuous belt tuck...

The rest of the afternoon went much the same. I followed Bella around the library like a puppy until she started getting the stink eye from her supervisor. But in that time, I absorbed every little detail, soaking up the little facts and snippets of her life like a sponge.

In a matter of a few hours, I'd learned more about Bella than I knew about a lot of my family members ― with which I was perfectly fine. Nothing good ever came from knowing too much about your family members. Just ask anyone that's ever walked in on their parents doing the deed.

I learned all about her father and brother, their various connections to the police force in her small hometown of Forks ― which was only about a forty-five minute drive from Port Angeles, where I'd grown up. When the topic turned to college, I nearly jumped up and down after she told me about her minor in chemistry. My inner frat boy made the jerk-off motion, but I could tell he was pleased at this development.

The most interesting thing, by far, was that she wasn't actually working or volunteering at the library...she was serving one hundred hours of community service. Something about motorcycle theft. I confess, I stopped listening after I heard the words grand larceny...because all my blood went south in a hurry.

I wondered if I'd suddenly developed a thing for bad girls, but I knew it was much more specific.

I had a thing for Bella.


The next Saturday seemed like it was eons in coming. But this day was different: I'd come away from last week's venture with Bella's email address. We'd been sending each other silly forwards all week, interspersed with short little chats about nothing, straight out of a Seinfeld episode. Bella was a huge fan of the manipulated motivational posters, which I couldn't have been happier about. Those things were often the highlight of my days.

Cold, impersonal emails couldn't begin to compare with seeing her in person, though. I was up at seven that morning, showered and dressed by seven-thirty, and was finished with my breakfast of pop-tarts ten minutes after that.

The library didn't even open until ten. I officially had over two hours to sit around with my thumb up my ass. At least there was no chance of Jasper waking up to harass me ― he'd stumbled in the door around four this morning and proceeded to bang into every wall and breakable object on the way to his room.

I logged on to my laptop in the hopes of finding an email from Bella. I knew what they said about wishing in one hand, but hey ― I worked hard at being an optimist.

And sometimes it paid off. I had a message waiting. If I wasn't sitting down, I would have jumped up and kicked my heels together in joy like a forties newsboy. I wanted to run around singing like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.

Since I didn't want to risk the eternal ridicule I'd get from Jasper for such a display of "fruit-itude," as he would say, I kept my seat and shut my mouth.

From: uglyducklingb mail . com
Subject: uninvited house guests suck

I've been run out of my own apartment. Big brother showed up last night (he thinks he has to check up on me), so he crashed on my couch. I'm afraid he clogged my toilet.

I'm running away to the land of doughnuts and coffee to drown my sorrows. If you're lucky, I'll bring you a long john.

...but it wouldn't hurt if you brought your own...


Holy fuck! That was definitely a proposition.


We'd been skirting this issue all week. I was reasonably sure she found me appealing, and Lord knows I'd give my left nut to be with her, but we'd never quite crossed the boundary of friendly flirtation. I was a patient man, but I was reaching my limit. My obsession with Bella grew exponentially every moment I spent with her. It took all my willpower not to beg her to meet me for dinner or coffee during one of our email sprees.

I didn't want to ask her out that way ― I wanted to do it face to face. The problem was, I had a very hard time getting the actual words out of my mouth in front of her. Sometimes, I just wished she could pick it out of my brain. It would solve things very nicely. Then we could get to the business of...getting down to business.

It suddenly hit me that she was awake at this hour. Would she stay at the coffee shop, or would she take her loot to the grounds of the library to enjoy the cool summer morning?

I decided to go for it and quickly gathered my things, heading straight for my car. My favorite coffee cabin was right on the way, so I stopped for a couple peace offerings. Even in the short time I'd known her, I knew that facing Bella without her requisite dose of caffeine was a very dangerous thing. More coffee could never hurt.

Parking in the first available space in the nearly empty lot, I headed over to the lawn, my eyes scanning in all directions for the familiar head of hair that matched the shade of the richest topsoil. Not a very romantic comparison for most people, but I had a feeling Bella would appreciate it. She seemed to get me more than anyone ever had, and would know my nerdy ass considered it a compliment of the highest order.

I finally spotted her at the edge of a little thicket of trees, leaning back against one large trunk. Her head was tilted to the side and her mouth hung open just the tiniest bit. I grinned as I realized she was sleeping. I'd have a chance to pay her back for my rude awakening three weeks ago.

Slowing my steps as I approached, I set the coffee down nearby and knelt next to her, picking a long blade of grass to brush across her cheek. She wiggled her nose, looking completely fucking adorable, in a Bewitched sort of way.

Please don't judge me for my bizarre television habits. I had very overprotective parents ― Nick at Nite was my friend as a child.

As I brushed the blade of grass over her nose once more, her eyes shot open. A gasp flew from her lips as she struck out with all her limbs, narrowly missing my crotch. Eddie Munster was not pleased.

"Bella, it's just me!" I shouted, my hands rushing to protect the junk in case of future attacks.

"What the fuck, Edward? You can't just go sneaking up on sleeping women like that!" Her hand flew to her chest as she tried to catch her breath.

"I'm sorry! I got your email this morning and... Look, I brought you coffee," I placated, reaching for the tray behind me, only to realize it had been knocked over during the skirmish. "Well, I tried to bring you coffee..."

I held up the soaked tray and shrugged, wishing I'd thought to leave it a bit further away from our clumsy asses.

"Oh, Edward...that was so sweet of you," she said, staring at the coffee-soaked ground with a soft smile. When she raised her eyes to meet mine, they were friendly and open, like always, but there was something...more. I knew what I wanted it to be ― I wanted it to be a replica of what I felt for her. It was incredibly strong, this pull I felt whenever she was around, and even when she wasn't. My mood skyrocketed whenever I got one of her emails, and practically shot into orbit when I saw her face-to-face. I turned into a lovesick girl whenever she was within touching distance ― not that I'd ever had the guts to touch her.

But oh, God...I wanted to.

"It was no problem, really. I just wish you could have actually enjoyed it."

We sat there, smiling stupidly at one another, until she broke the silence. "I um...I brought you a doughnut," she said quickly, pulling a long john from her bag. It was maple ― my favorite. How had she known that? "I love the maple ones," she explained. "I got it so I could eat it if you didn't show today. I'm selfish." She grinned sheepishly, looking down at her lap.

"Why would you think I wouldn't show? I've been stalking the library for a month, so why would I stop now?" I joked, taking the doughnut and shoving a huge bite in my mouth.

"I don't's a Saturday and you're a male in his sexual prime?" She clapped a hand over her mouth as her cheeks turned the most appealing shade of pink.

I laughed, scooting to sit right next to her against the tree. Offering her the doughnut, I said, "Here. You obviously need it more than me."

"Are you sure? I really did bring it for you...I was joking about the selfish thing. Sort of," she mumbled, eying the long john like it was manna from heaven.

"Positive," I answered, smiling when she took it. It was gone in three seconds. I patted my belly. "Cherry pop-tarts. Does a body good."

"I thought that was milk," she shot back with a grin.

I smirked at her, wondering if I had the guts to actually say what I was thinking.

"You must have had a lot of milk," I blurted. Wow...that wasn't nearly as smooth as I imagined it...

"What?" She blinked at me in shock, her face getting redder by the minute. That was a good thing, right?

"What do you mean, what?" She didn't really expect me to repeat it, did she? It was embarrassing enough the first time!

Bella shook her head and sighed. "Never mind...I must have misheard you." She wouldn't look at me, and I hated it. Her eyes were always so expressive. I felt like I was being cheated when I couldn't see them.

"Hey," I said softly. "What's wrong?" Her gaze remained fixed on the grass in front of us. For a moment, I sat there in indecision, wondering if I'd been misreading her signals. It was then I realized I didn't care ― that I wanted her badly enough to try. Screw the potential embarrassment. She was worth it. I cupped her jaw in one hand, gently forcing her to look at me. "What's wrong, Bella?" I repeated.

Her breath came in shallow puffs, washing over my lips in warm, maple-scented heaven. She's so close...

I don't know how it happened, but suddenly my lips were on hers, swallowing her little gasp of surprise. She tasted even better than I'd imagined ― and I'd imagined tasting her more times than was probably healthy. She was still for a few seconds before springing to life, her hands gripping at my shoulders and trying to pull me closer.

My hand slid from her jaw to knot in her hair, and I loved the silky feel as the strands flowed over my fist. Grasping her waist in my other hand, I pulled her flush against me, groaning in surprise as she kept coming. Swinging one thigh over mine, she settled in my lap, giving me the barest taste of what it would be like with no clothes between us. I knew she could feel the way I strained against my jeans; I was almost painfully hard as she shifted her hips into mine.

Bella pulled her lips from mine with the sexiest moan I'd ever heard, simply staring at me with wide eyes that shifted back and forth to my mouth. I licked my lips, savoring the remnants of her on my tongue. Her breathing completely stopped, so I did it again. She still hadn't taken a breath.

"You should breathe. Gas exchange is sort of necessary for life," I joked feebly, sighing in relief when she laughed and took and exaggerated, deep breath.

"I'm sorry, but when you say 'gas exchange,' I'm not thinking of alveoli and hemoglobin. I blame my big brother."

Leaning forward with a smile on my face, I spoke against her lips. "Don't talk about your brother when I'm trying to kiss you."

"Oh, Jesus," she breathed in between kisses. "What took you so long?"

"I have no fucking idea." Then there was no more talking. I pushed my tongue into her mouth, tracing the velvety underside of her lower lip. Her fingers dug into my skin so deeply I could feel the sting of her blunt nails through my shirt.

Fuck...she was so soft and warm and just melted right into me...

She raked her hands down my back, and I cursed the worn cotton that kept her skin from mine. As if she'd read my mind, her fingers slipped underneath the hem and swept upward, dragging the shirt with them. Distractedly, I reached behind my head, grabbing a handful of cotton and yanking it over my head, only breaking our kiss for a fraction of a second.

And oh, God...the feeling of her hands on my skin was perfection. I wanted her to feel the same way, wanted her to know how amazing it could be. Tentatively, I slipped my hand under her shirt, pressing my palm fully against the soft curve of her waist. Her frame shook with tiny tremors and she moaned into my mouth, pressing her chest even closer to mine before she grabbed my hand and raised it to her breast. Under her shirt.

Under. Her. Shirt. Fuck! We're in the middle of campus!

"Bella, we can't do this here," I panted, unable to completely stop kissing her. "Someone might see."

"I don't care." With that, her hands made a dive for my jeans and had them open before I knew what was happening.

"Let's wait until the library opens. We can find a study room," I suggested, the last word coming out as an unintelligible moan as she palmed me through the thin fabric of my boxers. "Oh, shit..." I couldn't help the way my hips jerked, grinding my erection against her soft hand. I wanted to shove her to the ground and push into her, to swallow all her sounds as I memorized every little detail.

"You think you can wait until those doors open?" she half panted, half giggled as she curled her fingers around my dick.

"What?" I honestly couldn't remember what we'd been discussing.

"Forget about it," she whispered, dragging her lips in a hot, wet trail over to my ear. I almost lost it when she gripped me hard, nipping at my earlobe at the same time. Then she was gone, backing away on her knees, moving further into the thicket of trees.

Mother fuck, we really shouldn't be doing this here...

I lost my train of thought as I watched her hands slide down her belly, easily opening the jeans that hung on her hips. Mindlessly, I followed, practically crawling on my hands and knees to get to her. Some chivalrous part of me must have been somewhat coherent, and I managed to grab my discarded shirt on the way. Tossing it to the soft grass, I grabbed Bella with both hands and bore her to the ground, making sure she was protected from the dirt.

I am never washing that fucking shirt. Ever again.

She was laughing as our lips met again, her hands roaming everywhere, like she couldn't get enough of me. I cupped the back of her head in one hand and shoved the other beneath the waistband of her jeans as I settled between her thighs. But the handful of soft lace wasn't enough; I needed to feel the heat of her skin unhindered by fabric. I slid my hand beneath the sheer material, moaning as I molded my palm to her ass. The movement shoved her jeans low enough that I could feel the heat of her against my open fly.

"Edward, I need you so much." I wasn't sure if she'd actually said it or if my mind was playing tricks, but I didn't care...I needed her, too.

"Are you sure?" I whispered, afraid if I spoke too loud, I'd shatter the moment.

"God, yes!"

For once in my life, I actually thanked God for my brother, since he insisted that no one left the apartment without a condom. I had it out of my pocket for two seconds before she grabbed it, shoving me back to my knees. I froze, watching in awe as she pushed my jeans and boxers past my hips before she took me in hand. She rolled the condom down in one smooth stroke, and I couldn't help the groan that emerged in response to her touch.

I couldn't move as she backed away to lie on the ground, sending her jeans to her knees with one gentle tug. She never took her eyes from mine, crooking a finger at me when I remained still. It was a summons I'd never try to resist.

I crawled over her, pulling her jeans down to her ankles. We were a bundle of tangled limbs, wrapped around each other so tightly I wasn't sure we'd ever be separated. I was lost in sensory overload, surrounded in Bella...

Her open mouth found mine, the velvet slide of her tongue over mine drawing a moan from deep in my chest. She shifted her hips, one leg curling around my hip, and that was all it took.

"Bella," I whispered against her lips as I slid inside her in one slow, deep stroke.

All my thoughts disappeared as I lost myself in her ― hot, wet, soft...

Her hands fisted in my hair, digging her nails into my scalp. I welcomed the distraction, using the stinging pain to hold my orgasm at bay. Neither one of us spoke; words weren't necessary. We communicated with soft sighs, gasps, and gentle fingertips as we moved together. I dragged my hand down her torso to wedge between us, the tips of my fingers barely brushing her clit with each deep thrust.

Gritting my teeth, I held off my release until I could feel her tightening around me, listening as her little moans became more frequent. I swallowed them all, not wanting anyone else to hear the sounds that were only for me. Only ever for me.

Finally, she tensed around me in a wash of heat, trembling in my arms as she held me tightly. I let go, giving in to the boiling pleasure at the base of my spine, moaning her name as I came deep inside her.

Guilt tried to creep in as we lay there in the aftermath, but I decided it didn't matter. We had both wanted it ― and it was just as perfect as I'd imagined, no matter the setting. Once I'd caught my breath, I lifted my head to find her warm, chocolate-colored eyes gazing up at me.

"Holy shit," she whispered, a sweet grin pulling at the corner of her mouth. I couldn't have said it better myself.

"Yeah," I agreed, rolling to the side and taking her with me. I was lying on rocks and grass and twigs, and I didn't give a flying fuck. I could die a happy man, right on this very spot.

"Community service is going to blow even more now," she sighed, nuzzling my neck. Don't worry, Bella...I'll find some way to keep you entertained.

As we gathered our clothes and dressed, my shirt now decorated with a conspicuous grass stain I'd wear proudly for the rest of my life, one thought crossed my mind: thank fucking God for crabs.