All things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer. Everything else belongs to me, the author of this fanfic.
Thanks to my beta, Red – she's a rock star.
Twin – You know I'd go crazy without you.
And big, huge love goes to BellaFlan for letting me use my all-time favorite line from her fic Becoming Bella Swan. (I'll tell you which line it is at the end of the chapter.) Go read it NOW! Wait, hold on – go read it after you read mine.
Chapter Thirteen – EPOV
Bella? My eyes turn to the woman beside me and her gaze follows mine. Bella is saying something and then she turns to leave.
"No, wait, Bella!" My hand shoots out and grabs her arm.
She stops, albeit reluctantly. She turns to look at me and I'm stunned by the tears forming in her huge, doe-like eyes.
"What's wrong?" I ask her.
"I didn't mean to interrupt," she replies scathingly.
"Interrupt? What are you—Oh!" I am so dense.
I reach for Bella's hand and lead her back to the woman she is currently glaring daggers at.
"Bella, this is my mother, Esme." My mother smiles kindly.
The look on Bella's face changes to one of embarrassment and red flushes her neck and cheeks.
"I'm so sorry, I—I thought...I mean, you—I...," Bella stops speaking and looks at the floor.
I hate to see her like this. She's such a powerful, strong woman and she's cowed by someone as harmless as my mother. Something occurs to me: She thought my mother was here for—Gross. Stop that train of thought.
"It's lovely to meet you, Isabella. Edward has told me so much about you." My mother takes Bella's hand and shakes it lightly.
"Please, call me Bella. And it's wonderful to meet you too."
A strange look comes to her face. Her nose scrunches up and her eyes close...God, she's adorable...and she sneezes.
Bella begins to scramble frantically, looking for something in her purse. As she comes up with a tissue, I realize she is dripping wet.
"Get your butt in here! What were you thinking walking here in the rain?" I grab her arm and pull her inside and into a quick, but firm hug.
My mother takes her cue, "Goodbye, darling. Bella, I hope you feel better soon."
"Bye, Mom, thanks," I say, totally preoccupied with Bella. And she quietly steps out the door, closing it behind her.
"I'm sorry. I really didn't mean to push your mother out," she tells me, looking up at me sheepishly. "And I got you all wet."
"She was already leaving," I insist, terrified she'll leave. Then I look down and see that I am indeed, quite wet. "I'll dry."
Bella looks down self consciously; water is dripping from her clothes onto the rug. "I'm sorry," she apologizes again, "I'm also getting your floor all wet."
I really don't care about my wet floor. All I can think of – aside from the fact that Bella is sopping wet and sick – is that I can see her nipples poking at the front of her shirt, the dampened material clinging to her curves...I jerk my head to the side, struggling to extract a relevant phrase from my convoluted mind.
"No, don't worry about it. Let me get you a towel and some dry clothes." Before she can protest, I quickly head down the hallway to my room. I root around my drawers and find a pair of warm, soft sweats and a t-shirt I accidentally shrunk in the wash. I double check the pants to make sure there is a draw string as I am definitely thicker than her. Satisfied her bottoms won't fall off, my mind begins to wander.
It dawns on me that Bella will be in my house, in my clothes with no undergarments. Trying to focus on things less erection-inducing, I head to the bathroom closet to grab a towel.
When I make my way to the living room, Bella appears to be mumbling to herself. Not wanting to further embarrass her, I step a little heavier to make my presence known. She whirls around to face me, her face flushing once more.
She looks so beautiful.
I slow my steps, but continue forward, unable to control my thoughts – or my dick.
The next thing I know Bella's eyes travel down my torso. The front of my shirt is clinging and so are my jeans. Damn, why can't I control that fucker?
Bella's already dark eyes deepen a shade and her mouth falls slightly open.
Just give her the clothes...Just give her the clothes...My mantra frenziedly repeats.
Apparently Bella has other plans.
I don't know what's come over me, but I have to touch him and I have to touch him now.
Who the hell am I kidding? I know exactly what turned my brain on 'horny'. Edward's soft, old jeans are tight...and wet, showing me the enormous hard on bulging from his pelvis.
It's been so long since that disastrous night with Felix and there hasn't been anyone since – other than Edward and our mouth fucking against my office wall. God, just the mere memory of that causes heat to coil in belly.
As soon as he gets close enough, I lunge my dripping wet body across the last bit of space between us. Just as I'm about to press my lips to his, I start to cough.
Shit and fuck and stuff!
I turn away, my face burning with my embarrassment. I begin pushing myself back frantically, my spastic coughing is unstoppable and I want to distance myself from Edward. His cool hands reach out to steady me. Great, he's already anticipating my clumsiness – like me coughing and sputtering isn't enough!
"Um, Bella, you're hot."
My coughing ceases just long enough for me to raise an eyebrow.
"That's not what I meant, but that is true. I meant you're running a fever. Your skin is hot." Edward's brow is creased worriedly.
"Come here," he says as he pulls me forward gently, pausing to pick up the discarded clothing from the floor.
He shows me into the restroom so I can dry off and change.
I step into the brightly lit room, taking in the warm, tan-colored tiles on the walls, the hardwood floor, his and her sinks, a glass-walled standing shower and full-size Jacuzzi. Everything feels very homey in shades of brown and cream, despite the very expensive facets.
Edward sets the clothes on the counter, tells me to take my time and leaves, closing the door quietly behind him.
I strip off my wet clothes, leaving them in the sink to avoid messing up his apartment any further. Suddenly, I become aware I'm standing completely nude in Edward's home. A nervous giggle escapes my lips and I grab the fluffy white towel to dry my shivering limbs. Once finished, I wrap the towel around my head, taking care to tuck all strands within its folds. I look in the mirror and groan. I look as though I've been beaten. My eyes are red-rimmed with dark bags beneath them, my nose is glowing like Rudolf's, and my normally pale skin is practically translucent. Averting my face from the hideousness in front of me, I quickly dress in the sweatpants and t-shirt. I make sure to tie the string tightly around my waist, as I'm incredibly aware of my bare bottom. I pull the terry cloth from my head and mop up any drips of water from the floor. I throw it over a rack hanging next to the shower, and shake my hair out, running my fingers through it. Heaving a sigh, followed by a cough, I head out of the bathroom.
I take a left and pad down the hallway back toward the living room. I'm assaulted by the smell of Vicks and chicken noodle soup.
I don't immediately see Edward; he's hidden beside the couch.
"Edward," I call quietly.
He pops up from his position on the floor and the first thing I notice is his dry pants.
Damn, my inner slut whines.
"Oh, sorry, I didn't hear you come in here," his voice cracks and his gaze floats between my chest and my face. "I heated some soup. I thought you'd like to have some with me. It really should help you feel better," Edward rambles on, while I just smile serenely.
This feels so...natural: him making me dinner and caring about my well being. My inner bitch is so quiet I can no longer hear her words, just a low-grade buzzing.
"Thank you for the clothes. I wasn't sure where to put my wet stuff, so I left it in the sink – I hope that's okay."
"Yep. Well, actually, I was thinking maybe you'd like to stay here and eat with me...maybe watch another movie, you know, while we wait for your clothes to dry." His eyes remain glued to my face, despite the fact I can see him fighting his instincts to look lower.
"I'm sorry, dry?"
"Oh, yeah, I have a dryer. You're more than welcome to throw your things in there. And then I can take you home later."
I feel a pang of sadness, which is ridiculous. I can't stay here; I can't be getting attached to this man. What if he leaves...what if...?
I shake my head, sickened with my thought's natural course.
"That would be great, thanks." I flinch inwardly; my voice is sounding somewhat nasal. Awesome, movie night with a Fran Drescher wannabe.
We pick out a movie and curl up on the couch, each sitting on our own sides. Fortunately for me, he doesn't seem to mind my irritating sound. Edward has actually plugged in a vaporizer to help clear my airways. If I wasn't so sick, I would be more embarrassed, but I just want to feel better.
When we finished our dinner, Edward clears our bowls and disappears to the other room for a moment. I hear the sound of the dryer start up and I smile. So thoughtful. He stops in the kitchen for a few more moments and comes back with two cups of tea. He sits them on the dark coffee table, and rests his hand on my arm.
My attention is completely removed from the comedy we've been watching; all my awareness is focused solely on the contact of our skin.
He pulls me to my feet, releases my hand and lies on the couch, giving me a goofy grin. I laugh, cough and turn to sit in the recliner. "If you wanted the couch, all you had to do was ask, jerk."
Edward laughs and grabs my hand to pull me down next to him. I succumb and stretch out along his length as he curls his arm around my middle, pulling me closer – tighter – to his body.
I wake sometime later, when crack of thunder peels through the night. I sit straight up, forgetting where I am and fall onto the floor.
"Damn it, ouch!" I yelp.
Sitting on the floor, rubbing my sore butt, I assess my whereabouts. Plush carpet, suede couch, hot guy...Edward!
He's actually managed to sleep through the storm and my cursing. The dork is snoring. I laugh quietly and stand, surprised at how well I can breathe. It was really sweet of Edward to take care of me, but I'm not sure what I should do. I can't walk home in a thunderstorm. That would be asinine.
So I decide I'll curl up in the cozy recliner. Italian leather, nice. I settle back in the chair and grabbing the remote from the coffee table as I go. The movie has long since stopped and is frozen on the menu. Rather than attempting to figure out the different buttons, I just push play and start the disk over. I relax, sinking down into the chair and pull my arms inside Edward's shirt, resting my arms across my abdomen. I watch the pictures play across the screen, not really comprehending what I see. Instead, I play over the events of the last couple months and the more I think about it, the more I think I'm willing to try dating Edward exclusively...if that's what he wants.
That is the last thought I remember as I sink into sleep with a smile on my face.
The next time my eyes open, there is bright sunlight filtering through the windows, despite the fact they're in the west wall. I wonder how late it is. The mugs of forgotten tea have been taken care of and there is a fleece blanket tossed over my limbs. Somewhere in the fuzziness of my brain, I register the smell of eggs and bacon.
Pulling off the blanket, I stretch out my arms and legs and rub the sleep from my eyes. Ew, my eyes are all crusty. I scrub along my eyelashes until I'm sure they're gone. I hate being sick. I feel somewhat awkward being here. Not to mention a little vulnerable. Some part of my former self is urging me to run out the door and never look back, but a much larger part of me is ready to confront Edward with my concerns. I push my arms back through the arm holes and place my feet on the floor, discarding the blanket behind me in the chair.
I can feel his eyes on my face; I blush.
"Good morning, sleepyhead." His voice comes from my left and I'm not sure I want to turn my head. He sounds ridiculously cheery for someone who just woke up.
Against my initial instinct, I turn and lay my eyes on the gorgeousness that is Edward Cullen. "G'morning yourself," I quip with a smile.
Edward is standing in front of his stainless steel stove, stirring eggs in a frying pan.
"Eggs are almost done, bacon is ready and I have some orange juice in the fridge." He steps away from the range and heads toward me, his eyes alight with...something. I'm not sure what yet, but I'm guessing I'm about to find out.
All I can think about is my disheveled appearance and my morning breath. I sidestep Edward and scoot into the bathroom, calling over my shoulder, "Be right back!"
While in the bathroom, I dress in my freshly dried clothes and rinse my mouth liberally with Listerine. Both were mysteriously lain out, stacked neatly on the pristine countertop. I pull a hair-tie from my pocket – good it's still there – and put my hair up into a pony tail. I smile at Edward's thoughtfulness, and am struck afresh with the new feelings bubbling in my chest.
He's not like anyone I've ever met.
You thought the same thing about Jake, and look where that got you.
He's nothing like Jake. Nothing.
I firmly reattach the duct tape across my inner bitch's mouth, make sure everything is in order and check my reflection before heading out the door.
Breakfast is delicious. It really doesn't surprise me; I'm starting to think he can do anything.
I glance at Edward across the small table and take in the brightness of his eyes, the scruff covering his well-boned jaw line...I stifle a moan. It's been too long.
"So, are you ready to tell me what you came here for?" Edward sets his fork beside his now empty plate.
"What do you mean?" I decide to play dumb since I really don't know how to bring up my insecurities.
My poker face is complete shit. Edward can see right through me.
"Are things moving too quickly?" he asks, looking concerned. "I knew I should have taken you home..."
"What? No, stop it. I'm not a child, you know." I think it's best to just come clean – lay all of my cards on the table.
I push my plate away and intertwine my fingers on the surface in front of me. My eyes glue themselves to a spot on the wall behind Edward's head. "Look, I came here because I wanted to find out what we're doing."
"What do you mean? Like dating-wise?"
"Yes, 'dating-wise'. Are you wanting to see me exclusively or is this a casual thing?" My face grows hot. I cannot believe I just asked him that.
"Bella, look at me, please." Edward's voice is velvet, yet calm and commanding.
My eyes meet his and I'm drowning in their green depths.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean for that to sound so forward, I just—Well, I just want to know what I'm dealing with."
"Edward you know about my past relationships, this is a whole new experience for me."
"I know," he says, his jaw clenching for a second before relaxing. "Is this your way of telling me you don't want anything more than a casual fling? Because, Bella, I'm not sure I can do that. This doesn't feel casual to me."
My heart leaps into my throat and I can feel the familiar burn of tears building. Very quietly I tell him, "It doesn't feel that way to me either."
Faster than I can look up, Edward is at my side. He puts his hands on my waist, turning me so I face him. Then he gets down on his knees and we're practically eye to eye. "Do you mean that?"
"Yes." And I do, I really do.
A/N: Leave me a review – I fucking love reviews.
I know you all want to know which line came from BBS, and since you were all such good little readers here it is: "Shit and fuck and stuff!" Yep, that's the best line I've read in FF to date! Thanks again, Flanny!