Fun With Your Clothes On One-Shot Contest
Title: Prince of Crimson Tides
Your pen name: SweetDulcinea
Characters: Bella, Peter
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and elements are property of Stephenie Meyer & her Twilight saga. All other references are property of their respective owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
To see other entries in the Fun With Your Clothes On Contest, please visit the C2 page:
A murmur of garbled words caught my attention over the music from my iPod. I had no idea what was said, but the tone was familiar.
"Do what now?" I asked, glancing across the aisle at my friend Jasper as I yanked out my earbuds.
He smiled warmly at me and shook his head. I had a habit of losing myself in my tunes, and he was quite familiar with that. "I asked if you're ready to hit the beach, goofball. We're going to land soon."
Even though his outward demeanor was cool and collected, I knew that he was excited for this vacation. I saw it in the way he squeezed his girlfriend Maria's hand and the anxious bounce of his knee every few minutes. He had a good reason to feel that way; we both did. It was the one time of year that all our friends set aside to meet and spend time together for a week.
Our trips began five years ago when we all graduated from college. Seven of us had been friends since grade school, and we were a tight knit group. Our university choices were split, but whenever we were home on breaks, the fun reconvened. That mostly included hanging around our small Oklahoma town together. As time went by, other people came and went in our clique, but the core group remained. They were my very best friends, so upon our scattered college graduations, I suggested we take a trip together before graduate school and the real world pulled us all in different directions.
That first summer, it was a simple trip to Dallas where we crammed into a few conjoined hotel rooms and partied hard every night. It was the kind of vacation you would expect from recent college graduates and old friends, but sometime during that week, we committed to making it a tradition.
Every summer. One week. All of us together.
The locations varied: New York City, Miami, Lake Tahoe, and this year, North Carolina.
With the addition of significant others, spouses, and children, Peter had suggested the city he now called home. Wilmington offered a beautiful location with beaches that weren't overcrowded, a calm atmosphere with plenty of nightlife options, and a huge beach house rental where we could all stay together. He had gone all out in the arrangements, finding us a place at the top end of the island away from the public beaches. It was three-stories, right on the water, and had a private pool and hot tub on site. The pictures he had sent were gorgeous, and I couldn't wait to see it for myself.
Most of all, I couldn't wait to see my friends. Jasper and I were lucky to have both ended up in Austin, Texas, but everyone else was spread out for the most part. Smiling brightly as I put away my iPod, I nodded at Jasper.
"I am so ready for the beach. You?"
"Definitely," he agreed. He looked toward Maria. "How about you, monkey?"
She confirmed that she was looking forward to the week as well, and I hoped it was sincere. Jasper hadn't been with her for long, and I didn't really have a great feel for her yet. I also had no idea why he called her monkey, of all things, but it was cute. I hoped that we would all have the opportunity to get to know her. If she planned to stick around, these vacations and all our friends were something she would have to get used to.
"So do you and Peter have any bromance plans?" I asked teasingly as the plane made its descent.
"Very funny," he said, rolling his eyes. "I think I should be the one asking if you have any special plans with Peter. I hear you guys have been talking a lot lately."
"Umm, yeah. Because I'm trying to decide if I want to move here," I scoffed, feigning innocence.
Jasper simply pursed his lips in a smile he couldn't hide and hummed, "Uh huh, sure."
I didn't speak to him for the rest of the flight, but he wasn't completely off base. The company I worked for had approached me about job openings in North Carolina if I was interested in moving. As it stood, they wanted to see me move up, but my opportunities for a promotion in Austin were bleak. However, if I took one of the jobs in Durham or Wilmington, I would immediately have a better position and higher salary. Moving was an exciting prospect, but I still needed to research both cities and decide which, if either, was right for me. Since Peter worked in Wilmington and lived just a bit south of the city in Carolina Beach, he had been helping me. The fact that he and I had always had this crazy chemistry made Wilmington quite a bit more appealing.
Aside from a few games of Truth or Dare and a couple drunken make out sessions in high school and college, nothing had ever happened between us, and we never really addressed our mutual attraction. It was just something that was there. Whether it was boyfriends, girlfriends, or living far apart, things never aligned. Now, an unspoken possibility dangled in front of us. It was the first year neither of us was dating someone during our annual vacation, and with the prospects of my move, we had spent a lot of time on the phone in the past month. So Jasper was somewhat correct; I was most excited to spend time with Peter and see what might develop, but we didn't actually make any "plans."
I tried not to think about him too much as the plane landed and we took care of our luggage and rental car. Seeing everyone else was just as important to me, and I didn't want to be so distracted that I took this reunion with all of them for granted. This year there would be fourteen of us. Peter had picked up Rosalie that morning, and they were already at the beach house. Femme fatale that she is, Rose was currently dating two guys - Royce and Emmett - who she couldn't seem to choose between. She proudly decided that this week would be her break from both of them and came alone. We were waiting for Garrett to arrive with his wife Kate, and then we would leave the airport to head down to the beach. Those two had only been married a year, but they were college sweethearts, so everyone knew Kate well.
By the time we arrived at the massive house, there were already three cars beneath the building in the carport. One was Peter's, and another was the vehicle Jessica and her husband Mike had rented. Jess was part of our original group, but Mike was several years younger than the rest of us. When she got pregnant a few years ago, they immediately married. Their son Tyler, who was now two, was running around the living room exploring. I could hardly believe how much he had grown since last year. The third car belonged to Charlotte, which I had assumed from the Washington D.C. license plate. She had opted to make the six hour drive instead of flying. Though Char and Peter had dated when we were sixteen years old, there was absolutely nothing between them anymore. She was a wild free spirit who had never calmed down from our youth, while Peter was a focused professor, working in the mathematics department at the local university.
Everyone exchanged hugs and greetings before finding our respective rooms and unpacking a bit. The couples each had their own room, while the three single girls bunked together and the two single guys took another bedroom.
Eventually, amidst the whirlwind, a very pregnant Tanya arrived with her younger brother Demetri and her husband Felix. They all went to the same college, and Tanya met Felix when Demetri pledged his fraternity. The friendship and familial bond between the three of them eventually pulled Demetri into our tradition, and this was his second year with us. I wasn't complaining; he was a nice piece of eye candy to have around.
With everyone present and accounted for, we shared a boisterous dinner, and once little Tyler was in bed, the drinking and ruckus ensued. We all stayed up late, sitting on the main porch facing the ocean, catching up, laughing, and joking together. It was wonderful to have everyone in the same place, and I was grateful that it was only Sunday and we had an entire week to enjoy ourselves.
Earlier than I expected, the group dwindled, leaving empty beer bottles piled in the recycling bin. Everyone was tired from the combination of travel, socializing, and alcohol, so we headed inside for bed. Before going downstairs to my bedroom, Peter pulled me into a warm, tight hug. We hadn't been afforded any one-on-one time yet, so I happily snuggled into his embrace.
"It's so good to see you," he said into my hair, nuzzling his nose against my scalp.
I angled my head up to look into his vibrant blue eyes. "Same here. I've missed you. Promise me some 'us' time tomorrow?"
"Anything you want, peach," he promised as he loosened his hold and escorted me to my room. With a kiss on my forehead, he opened the door and turned toward his own room.
Monday, everyone wandered out slowly, sipping coffee and munching on bagels instead of trying to organize a group breakfast on the first full day. We eventually ended up down on the beach swimming, taking walks, and sunbathing. As usual, the girls gossiped while the guys threw a football around. The ocean was refreshing in the hot Carolina sun, and I was happy to be working on my tan. We relaxed for the day, coming and going from the house, and I tried to get a little time with everyone. We decided on dinner out that night at a nice waterfront restaurant called Bluewater, so the ladies all donned sun dresses while the guys looked handsome in variations of khaki shorts with polos. The group split when we returned home, and those of us who planned to stay up gathered in the family room in our pajamas. I played cards with Peter, Garrett, Kate, Maria, Jasper, and Demetri for a while, but when Peter made good on his promise for some private time by suggesting a walk on the beach, I happily agreed to join him.
The moon was huge and bright overhead, lighting our path down the beach and reflecting off the water. Leaving my flip-flops behind, I rolled my sweatpants up to my knees and walked straight into the shallow ebb and flow, enjoying the feeling of the cool water licking at my feet. Peter joined me, wrapping his arm around my shoulder. Once we were ankle deep, schools of teeny little fish brushed against our skin as they swam through the waves. It made me jump in surprise the first time, eliciting amused laughter from Peter, but I quickly got used to it.
After a while, we turned and walked down the beach, talking about nothing of importance, but enjoying the time together in the moonlight. When the open wind became a little too harsh, we climbed the staircase and sat at the top of the steps, slightly shielded by the vegetation along the surrounding sand dunes. His arm remained tucked around me, cozily warming my body with his as our conversation continued, and when his other hand met mine on my knee, I wove our fingers together. We didn't talk about what it meant; we simply enjoyed it. For that same reason, I didn't resist when our conversation drifted off, leaving us to stare out at the endless roll of the waves. I closed my eyes, focusing on the unique, calming sounds of the ocean. I relished the breeze upon my face and the subtle movement of Peter's breathing as his chest rose and fell naturally. I felt when he turned his face toward mine, using his hold on me to angle me slightly. My eyes opened momentarily, and I smiled as our lips followed the invisible path toward one another, pressing into warmth, wetness, and pure bliss.
I'm not sure how long we kissed. It could have been five minutes, maybe fifteen. All I knew was that it was perfect and lovely, and when he pulled away, sucking my bottom lip between his and leaving me with one final, innocent kiss, I sighed happily.
"Thank you," he whispered, his voice mingling in the breeze, and I giggled.
"Am I supposed to say you're welcome?" I asked. "'Thanks for making out with me,'" I said in a poor impression of his voice. "'It was my pleasure, Petey. My lips are your lips,'" I finished, mocking myself with a squeaky, silly tone.
He simply shook his head and nudged me with his elbow. "You're either deliriously tired or I've intoxicated you with my incredible skills, so I guess that means you need to get into bed. Come on." As he stood, he held his hands out, pulling me against him for one more hug before we proceeded to the house and our separate bedrooms. I fell asleep happily, my mind replaying each moment of our walk, our conversation, and of course, the delightful kisses.
Tuesday morning, we were all sitting around the banquet sized table in the dining room having breakfast when Tanya decided to have a little fun at my expense.
"So, Bella...Peter..." Tanya said in a saccharine sweet tone, "how was that make out sesh last night?"
The room became very quiet, but that only lasted for a couple seconds before half our friends burst out laughing. Whether it was at the way my dropped fork clanged on my plate or the smug grin Peter wore, I had no idea.
"I win!" Jasper exclaimed, throwing his arms in the air. "How much do I get?" he asked excitedly, looking around the table.
"What the hell?" I started, but I was cut off by Charlotte.
"You have to split it with me. I said Monday, too."
Peter shook his head and gave me an apologetic look for our friends' antics, but I could see that he was clearly amused. "Care to explain?"
Apparently, our friends had sent around a secret email a few days before the trip to create a pool for when something would happen between us. It included options for Not gonna happen and each day of our vacation. No one selected the first option.
I didn't really mind that our friends knew, but being called out on it in front of everyone, especially when Peter and I hadn't talked about the implications of our kissing, left me slightly uncomfortable.
"Well, now that you've had your fun, I propose that we split up today. I want a girls' day to go shopping and catch up with my chickadees. Mike, can you handle Tyler?" I spoke quickly and authoritatively, not allowing anyone the opportunity to object to my plans. Eventually, they all agreed. "Great. Peter was telling me how nice downtown Wilmington is with all the shops at the Cotton Exchange and the river walk, so I think we should go there."
By late morning, we were all cleaned up and piled into the rental SUV that perfectly seated all seven of us girls. We had a great time perusing the eclectic stores and looking at the huge battleship that sat across the river. After a walk that left poor Tanya with swollen ankles and a tired back, we settled around a table on the outdoor patio of The George. We drank cocktails and watched pedestrians pass by on the river walk, thoroughly enjoying our time together. Two hours and quite a few strong martinis later, Tanya became designated driver by default and had to cart us back to the house.
Once I put my shopping bags in my room, my fuzzy head was filled with an incredibly strong desire to see Peter. He hadn't been in the common area when we returned, so I went to his bedroom instead. I knocked softly, but there was no response, so I peeked inside to find the room empty. I found myself drawn toward his bed and picked up the iTouch that laid on his pillow.
"I'll just wait here," I said to myself, getting comfortable on his bed and inhaling his scent as my eyes drooped. Turning the music on, I heard what he was listening to last. Keane.
That was the last thing I remembered before opening my eyes to find Peter looking down at me while wearing a wet suit...that had been peeled down, leaving his chest exposed. I grinned stupidly at the lovely sight of his sculpted torso on display and reached for his hand.
"Whatcha doing here?" he asked with a smile.
"Waiting for you." I yawned and opened and closed my fist to beckon him closer. "Come 'ere."
"Gimme a second to get out of this, okay?"
I closed my eyes for a few moments and reopened them when he was crawling onto the twin bed beside me, now clothed in basketball shorts and a T-shirt.
"Hi," I whispered, trying to pull myself out of my stupor, but realizing that I was still a bit tipsy.
"Hi," he whispered back, wrapping his arm around my waist and touching his nose to mine. "This was a nice surprise."
Humming in agreement, I kissed him, giving him permission to roll me onto my back and angle himself over me. We lay there kissing lazily, too exhausted from the activities of our day to even consider anything else. We didn't stop until someone pounded on the door to inform us that everyone was getting set up for dinner. We reluctantly parted, and Peter helped steady me when I rose from his bed, smoothing down my lumpy nap-and-make-out hair. As we walked upstairs to join our friends, he held my hand and led me to the table.
By the time I woke up on Wednesday, I learned that Peter had dragged all the guys out of bed bright and early for a surfing lesson. He already owned two boards and had rented extras for the week, and based on the buzz around the house, everyone was excited to learn. Jasper was the only other who had experience surfing, and that was because he had been out to the coast to visit several times since Peter relocated. I stood on the porch, wind blowing my hair around my face, and smiled down at all our guys in the water. Beyond them, I saw a few dolphins jumping through the waves, and I immediately called for Jess to bring little Tyler out to see. The rest of the girls gathered as well.
"Damn," Charlotte said, dragging out the word, "why didn't he look that good when I was dating him?"
We all turned our attention toward her, some laughing lightly.
"Maybe because we were kids," Rosalie chuckled.
"Yeah, except you," Jessica chimed in. "We all remember Rosalie 'I got boobs in seventh grade' Hale, don't we?"
Everyone burst out laughing harder at that, even Maria and Kate, who didn't go to high school with us.
Tanya held up a finger, signaling that she wanted to say something when she could catch her breath. "Oh, how about my brother? Demetri was like, the shortest kid in his grade for years. Then, he turned seventeen and grew about eight inches. My mom was so pissed about all the clothes she had to buy for him!"
"Or Bella's terrible 'Rachel from Friends' haircut!"
"Hey!" I protested, slapping Charlotte in the shoulder.
"The time Jasper dyed his hair black and tried to pull off guy-liner!"
"Garrett's mom finding his secret stash of porn!"
"Oh, I know! Jessica's pity date to Homecoming with Eric Yorkie, and his never-ending boner the whole night!"
"Don't remind me!" Jess howled. "It was so disgusting, and he just kept touching me with it."
We all shared a collective shudder at the thought of that.
Suddenly, Charlotte was waving her hands around like the little spaz that she was. "Wait, wait, wait! We're getting totally distracted. I was talking about Peter," she said with a smile, turning toward me. "Now Bella, please spill."
"There's nothing to tell," I hedged. "We're just...hanging out...having fun."
"Did you do it yet?" Maria asked, surprising us all with her addition to the conversation. I was glad she was getting involved, considering how much time we spent talking about old memories and people she had never met.
"What? No! When would we?"
"You totally want him to put it in you." I turned and gave Rosalie an astonished glare.
"Put it in me? What are you? Fourteen?" I fired back, trying to hold in my laughter.
"It's true, though," Kate added. "We can all tell. Go for it!"
"Okay," I said with an eye roll at my goofy friends, "I'm going inside to change. Are you bitches coming down to the beach or what?"
Without looking back at them, I turned and skipped off to my room, digging out my favorite swim suit of the eight or nine I had packed. It was a tiny little thing that tied around my neck and back with narrow strings. The bottoms were just as small, cutting across my curves in a way that made my ass look delicious, if I do say so myself. Between my good natured attitude from our amusing porch discussion and the recent developments with Peter, I was feeling happy and confident enough to rock this provocative bikini in front of all my friends.
The morning on the beach was breezy and relaxing with an all-encompassing sense of comfort. Having my friends around to enjoy it with me made it even better. I had always loved the beach, and the prospect of living here was becoming more enticing by the day.
Pulling out a stack of magazines, I selected one and leafed through it for a while until the warmth upon my skin coaxed me to relax and close my eyes. I listened to the waves, the sea birds squacking around us, and the conversations and laughter of our group. It lulled me into half consciousness that was not broken until a shadow covered my face, blocking out the sun. Peeling my eyes open, I squinted up at the obstruction and saw that it was Peter, still clad in his wet suit, smiling and dripping on me.
"Enjoying the view?" I asked suggestively, noticing the way his eyes raked over my body, spending a few extra moments on my stomach and breasts.
"Absolutely," he growled, wiggling his eyebrows. "Wanna join me for a swim?"
I sat up. "Sure."
"Cool. Just let me run to the house and change into my trunks. I'll be right back."
He jogged off, and as I watched him go, I tried very hard not to think of him being naked under his surfing gear. If I continued down that train of thought too long, I knew he wouldn't be the only one wearing a wet suit.
I shook off those thoughts, standing to stretch my arms above my head. A few cat calls rang out in masculine and feminine tones, and I shimmied my ass playfully in response. Peter was soon back in a pair of blue and gray board shorts, taking my hand and leading me into the water.
It felt like a movie, or every girl's fantasy about a beach vacation. We swam and splashed, allowing our bodies to roll on the waves and ride the currents that tugged us around underwater. I laughed when Peter caught a mouthful of saltwater, and he thoughtfully picked pieces of seaweed from my hair every time they tangled in the long strands. Standing where the water came just below my shoulders, Peter pulled me into a firm embrace, letting his slick arms caress my bare skin.
"You're such a tease in this sorry excuse for a bikini, you know that?" he asked, kissing along my jaw. I no longer cared that everyone could see us if they were watching, and Peter didn't seem to mind either.
I looked up at him, smiling widely. "I hoped you would like it." As I spoke, his hands skimmed down my back, tucking his fingertips into the back of my bikini bottoms. I stiffened at the exciting contact, pushing myself against him.
"Love it," he assured me, touching his lips to mine once. "You look fucking fantastic, by the way, and I'm not the only one who's noticed. Trust me. Have you been working out?"
I nodded, proud that people seemed to have noticed. "I've been working with a personal trainer. I've never done much with weight training, so she whipped my ass into shape. It's pretty fun."
Instead of replying, as I thought he would, Peter slid his hands over my ass and pulled me up to straddle him. My legs naturally wrapped around his waist, and I appreciated the ease of this position in the water. Peter barely had to hold me, and I only needed to drape my arms over his shoulders to stay in place. Our mouths met once more, luxuriating in the pleasure of that moment. My hips rocked involuntarily, seeking any form of friction I could obtain.
"Let's go inside," Peter mumbled between kisses. "The house is empty right now."
"Mmm...okay," I agreed, reluctantly detaching myself from him. I felt flushed and anxious, ready for us to get out of our swim suits...together.
We held hands as we grabbed our belongings from the sand, telling our friends that we were going in grab a snack. They waved us off casually, but their knowing grins betrayed their sentiments. By that point, I really didn't care if they knew what we were going to do. Instead of going into the house through the second floor entrance to the common area and kitchen, Peter led me down the wooden staircase to the carport.
"I've got sand everywhere, so I'm guessing you do too. Let's go rinse off." He guided me toward the semi-enclosed sand rinse shower in the back and turned on the water. It was shockingly cold against my skin, but the contrast felt good after being in the sun all morning and breathing in the thick, humid ocean air.
We stood under the spray together, and as our hands wandered each other's bodies to help brush away the sand and salt that clung to our skin, those touches became sensual and seductive. We kissed and stroked, and I lost myself in him as his mouth explored my throat. His fingers moved through my hair, massaging the back of my neck, as his lips moved along my shoulder. There was little more I could do than take stuttered breaths, tug on his hair, and enjoy the glorious way he made me feel. Suddenly, the strings around my neck slipped away, causing my top to fall down and expose my chest.
"Peter, no. What's if someone..." I protested. Weakly, I might add, because he was simultaneously brushing his hands over the slope of my breasts with the water to wash away more sand.
"Shh...they're all on the beach," he reassured me, palming my chest in both his hands. A small squeeze drew a groan from my throat, and he continued his exploration with a grin.
"So damn beautiful."
He kissed me slowly, but pulled away sooner than I liked. However, his lips didn't stop as he bent down, circling my nipples with his thumbs. His mouth replaced one immediately, sucking and licking until I thought my knees would give out. I clung to his sides, running my hands down his wet skin and trying to pull him impossibly closer and seek leverage at the same time. Switching to the other breast, he took my hand and guided it to his cock, allowing me to feel how hard he was beneath his shorts. As I rubbed him over the fabric, he did the same to me, tracing a single finger between my legs through my bikini. I couldn't believe that we were doing this out here, but I was completely powerless to stop, no matter how hard I tried. I needed more, and I was going to get it.
Out of nowhere, there was a noise nearby, and my eyes shot open to see Mike standing in the doorless entry of the shower, staring at us with wide, owl eyes.
"Oh shit!" he exclaimed, partly embarrassed but mostly amused as he stumbled backward. "Sorry guys!"
"Oh my god!" I yelled. "Oh. My. God!" I pushed Peter away from me, turning my back and scrambling to cover myself and tie my bikini back in place. I slid around a still stunned Peter and found my towel on the ground, wrapping the large item around me like a blanket to shield my entire body from view.
Out on the steps, Mike was laughing his balls off, doubled over and clutching his stomach. Peter finally came behind me with his towel and my beach bag and looked at Mike.
"Sorry," Peter whispered in my ear. "I didn't mean to get so carried away in there."
"What the hell are you doing, Mike?" I snapped. I wasn't really upset with him, per se, but my jittery nerves hadn't calmed yet.
"Tyler...needed a nap..." he gasped, obviously making an effort to stop laughing. "Jess and I...bringing him...in... Sorry again!"
Just then, of-fucking-course, a sudden downpour of rain burst from the sky, and everyone came thundering along the boardwalk, off the beach and back to the shelter of our house. They all stared at the scene on the lower level porch, waiting expectantly to hear why I was as red as a strawberry, Mike was hysterical, and Peter was shaking his head.
"What's going on?" Garrett finally barked, looking down at us.
Mike didn't hesitate to call us out. That fucker. "Peter and Bella were fucking in the sand shower!" he howled, and the entire group was suddenly gasping and laughing with him. Apparently, they no longer cared about the hard rain pelting them and soaking all their belongings.
"What the hell, Mike?" I screeched. "We weren't having sex!" I looked up at our friends and repeated myself. "We weren't having sex in the shower!"
"You douche," Peter scoffed at Mike.
Finally, Mike calmed down and looked at me. "All right, maybe you weren't fucking yet, but you were totally going to. And I saw her tits!" he shouted, looking up at the group again. "Very nice, by the way, Bella."
With that, I turned toward the downstairs entrance to the house and made my retreat. "I'm telling Jessica you said that," I called without looking back.
"She'll agree with me!"
I didn't dignify that with a response, opting to scurry off to my room and hide in the bathroom for a while.
After cleaning up, we all had lunch together since we were trapped inside.
"Why don't we go to the aquarium down at Fort Fisher?" Peter suggested. "It's at the end of Carolina and Kure Beach, which is probably a half hour drive or so from here, but it's definitely worth the trip."
"That's down where you live, right?" Felix asked, and Peter confirmed it.
"What do you guys say? It's really great, and it will give us something to do for a while. I'm sure Tyler would love it, too."
Everyone agreed quickly, and once lunch was finished and the kitchen cleaned, we loaded ourselves into three cars for the trip.
The aquarium was everything Peter said it would be. The first section of the building was a huge atrium full of live trees and plants. All the wildlife and fish that were included lived in and around the Cape Fear River, which I had to admit was pretty cool. Tyler squealed when a group of plump quails crossed the path in front of us. There was a young albino alligator in one pond, and when we got to the larger tank where several full grown alligators resided, I looked at Peter.
"You seriously kayak in the Cape Fear? Where there are alligators?"
He merely laughed at my incredulous question, shaking his head and smiling at me. "They really don't bother you. And weren't you just swimming in the ocean this morning? Sharks, rays, whales, jellyfish, giant squid...should I go on?"
"All right, I get your point," I said, bumping my shoulder against his. "But whales and giant squid? I know those don't come anywhere near the shore here."
"Busted," he said with a wink, and we followed our friends into the next section.
Our group dispersed, and Peter and I continued our exploration; sometimes staring at one tank for awhile, other times doubling back to get another look at something. He held my hand firmly in his, intertwining our fingers and showing me the ease and comfort he felt being that way with me. It meant a lot, especially surrounded by our oldest and dearest friends. I tried not to let my mind wander too much down that particular what's going to happen now? path, but there would be time for those thoughts later.
Our conversation extended from the multitude of sights at the aquarium to my trip to downtown Wilmington with the girls the day before. That was where the PPD building was located, and Peter wanted to know if I had seen it. I admitted that we drove by, but there wasn't much to see aside from the fact that it was large and shiny, standing out from the rest of the older buildings in that area of town. From what I had been told, the addition of the Pharmaceutical Product Development, Inc. building and the necessary parking garage had been somewhat controversial, but the amount of jobs they provided to the city, not to mention the endless current of travel through the local airport, far outweighed the slight change to the downtown aesthetic. If anything, the shiny new building detracted attention away from the less savory rundown homes that still stood on the outskirts.
In an incredibly thoughtful gesture, Peter offered to call one of his friends who worked there to show me around the building if I wanted. I gratefully agreed and thanked him, feeling happy that I hadn't removed my PPD credential badge from my purse prior to the trip to North Carolina.
That conversation died as we stood in front of the Cape Fear Shoals exhibit. It was a two-story tank that held sharks, eels, stingrays, and some of the biggest fish I had ever seen. A diver was in the tank, and visitors were gathering around the large open floor in front of the giant tank as some aquarium employees began an interactive question and answer session. We stepped back, allowing the excited children and their families to find seats on the floor.
"They have weddings here. It's pretty cool," Peter said quietly, so as not to distract from the presentation.
"Really? That's awesome."
"Yeah, they put the dance floor right in front of this tank. Someone I work with got married down on the grove and had the reception here."
"Wow," I breathed, quieting again as Peter wrapped his arm around my shoulder while we listened.
Much to my dismay - and my surprise - I felt something terrible, and I quickly excused myself from a worried looking Peter, leaving him without an explanation. I found Rosalie in the crowd and pulled her down to whisper in her ear.
"What's the matter?" she asked.
"Emergency," I hissed. "Do you have a tampon?"
"Oh crap. No," she said, shaking her head and frowning. "Hold on." I watched her slide over to Jessica and whisper to her, but Jess shook her head too. Thankfully, when Rosalie got to Kate, she nodded, and they motioned for me to follow them into the bathroom.
Once everything was taken care of, the girls and I stood in front of the mirror fixing our hair and checking our make-up for rain smudges.
"Why didn't you skip your placebo pills in your birth control?" Rosalie asked.
I scrunched my face in annoyance. "Two things. It was early, and I'm not on the pill right now."
"Geez, Bella, why the hell not?" Kate snapped. "Do you want to end up a single mom?"
"Oh my gosh, calm down!" I said quickly. "First of all, I haven't been having sex anyway, and I have an appointment with my doctor next week. After my last relationship, I decided to go off it for a while, considering that I've been on some form of birth control since I was eighteen. I wanted to give my body a break, you know? When I tried to go back on after Christmas, it totally screwed with my hormones. We've tried a few different things, but my doctor was giving me a break before we had another go at it."
Rosalie pouted at me sympathetically. "Aww, honey, I'm so sorry. That really sucks."
"Yeah," I sighed heavily.
Kate agreed. "I hope your doctor can find a good solution for you when you go back."
"Me too," I replied.
After another few moments, we rejoined our friends just as the demonstration was ending. Everyone wandered around a little longer, stopping in the gift shop, and then we headed back to the beach house.
"Well, folks, it's about that time. I'm not even gonna lie about being tired. I'm going to get some," Felix informed us jovially, stepping out of the hot tub and grabbing his towel off an Adirondack chair.
"Gross, dude," Demetri whined, splashing water at his brother-in-law.
"Aww, come on, D," Rosalie smiled sweetly. "It's not like you didn't know he was giving your sister the business. That is where babies come from."
We all laughed at the absurdity of the entire exchange, and Charlotte clapped Demetri on the back supportively as Felix retreated. "I know what could take your mind off that," she sing-songed suggestively.
She pouted, making puppy dog eyes at him while twirling a piece of her half-wet blonde hair around her fingers. I laughed inwardly at her feisty ways and wondered what she was up to this time. It was always something with Charlotte - some plan, some scheme, some wild "you've got to try this" idea that we all adored and dreaded at the same time. It had been that way with her as long as I could remember. She was a responsible adult with a great job now, but she never lost that enthusiasm for the lighter side of life.
We all watched with smirks on our faces as she scooted herself closer to Demetri and ran a wet finger down his temple and along the curve of his jaw. "How would you like to sleep with two chicks tonight?" she asked huskily.
Peter choked back a laugh, and I elbowed him for interrupting. I couldn't wait to see how it played out, and I didn't want him ruining the moment.
"Wh-wh-what?" Demetri stuttered, his face going pale yet excited at the suggestion.
"Yeah," she continued, moving her finger to trace lines back and forth across his chest, "you, me, and Rosalie are the only ones here who haven't paired off yet, so I thought..."
"...that you'd like to come to our room tonight..."
"...so that Peter and Bella can get it over with and fuck already."
A look of disappointment overtook Demetri's features, and this time, none of us could hold back any longer. Rosalie was laughing so hard she snorted, and I had to bury my face in the crook of Peter's neck to keep from losing it. I didn't want to further Demetri's embarrassment by letting him see me essentially making fun of him. I liked him, but unfortunately, he had just become another one of Charlotte's victims.
"Not cool," he finally said, shaking his head and glaring at Charlotte. He stood to get out of the water, but Char pulled him back down.
"Aww, calm down, pretty boy. I was just playing with you, and you know you liked it." She moved herself into his lap so that he couldn't get away, but she sat on the end of his knees to keep it friendly. "I really do want you to move into our room, though. That's not a choice."
"Char, leave him alone," I finally said. "Our room arrangements are fine the way they are." Peter looked at me with an expression that said, What the fuck? and seemed to be disappointed about the prospect of not having sex, but I brushed him off with a kiss on the cheek. "Seriously, it's fine."
"No, it's not," Charlotte growled at me. "You guys need some privacy."
I was about to protest again, but Rosalie waded over to Charlotte and whispered something in her ear. From the understanding look on her face, I knew that Rosalie had explained my situation from earlier in the day at the aquarium.
"Well, it doesn't matter. D, you're with us. Let's go get you moved so the love birds can have a little alone time."
With that, Rosalie and Charlotte dragged Demetri away, and I swore that I saw a little glimmer of hope in his eyes despite what Char had said. I couldn't blame the guy for that. Peter chuckled, wrapping both his arms around me and swirling the tip of his tongue around my earlobe.
"What was that about?" he asked when they were gone.
"What was what?" I replied, playing dumb.
"Is something the matter?" There was genuine concern in his voice, and it immediately made me feel bad, but there wasn't much I could do about the circumstances that were making me avoid his advances.
I angled myself to look at him, cupping his face in my hands and resting our foreheads together. "No. Nothing's the matter. Everything is perfect."
He took a deep breath and pulled away from me, bringing his knees up in front of him as he turned to face me on the bench in the hot tub. The water continued to bubble around us, creating a steamy vapor that clouded his face yet somehow made him look even sexier. For a few moments he looked contemplative, as though he were struggling to find the right words. I didn't press him or try to figure it out on my own. Whatever he needed to say could make things awkward, but that didn't deter my need to know anything and everything that was on his mind.
"Okay, I don't want to sound like a dick or anything...or be presumptuous. It's just that..."
"Go ahead," I encouraged him, even though this conversation was making me feel uneasy. In fact, it was making me feel like an inexperienced, uncomfortable teenager, not a grown woman who should have been able to discuss sex maturely.
"Well, the shower and everything earlier... I just thought that was leading somewhere before we were interrupted, but now you seem...hesitant?"
Reaching over his bent knees, Peter cupped my shoulder and ran his hand down my arm until our fingers intertwined. "I want you to you know that I don't expect anything from you, even if I really want it. You don't have to feel pressured to do anything you're not ready for."
"It's not that," I admitted, turning my face away so I didn't have to look at him.
"Then what, Bella?"
Being a complete coward, I moved myself closer to him once more, leaning forward and kissing him so that I wouldn't have to reply to his question. He didn't seem to mind, however, when his legs relaxed and he moved himself toward me. His hands were in my hair, and my stomach did somersaults when he moaned as our tongues met. His touch moved along my arms and sides, each caress firm and loving, but I could tell by the way he avoided more sensitive places on my body that he was hesitant to cross any lines that might make me feel pressured or upset. I couldn't blame him for that considering my lack of an explanation for my change in attitude. Guilt washed over me, and I broke our kiss, snuggling up beside him instead.
"Do you want to go in?" he asked, kissing the top of my head.
"No," I answered honestly. "I like being with you like this. Being close...being warm...listening to the waves crash and feeling the wind. It's so beautiful here."
He hummed in agreement, hugging me tighter to his side and resting one hand on my leg.
We sat there for a long time that way, and even though I knew we were turning into giant raisins in the water, I couldn't bring myself to move. It all felt too good to ruin by getting out and going into the house. Finally, after at least ten minutes of silence, I turned my face toward Peter and caught his attention, his blue eyes focused seriously on mine.
"I...I'm sorry I made you think things were moving too fast for me. That's not it at all."
"It's okay. You can tell me," he insisted, speaking with concern and care. "Whatever it is, it's fine."
"Ugh...this is awkward," I groaned, averting my gaze once more. However, he tipped my chin up with two fingers, forcing me to look at him and explain. "All right. Earlier, well, you were right about earlier, but something happened at the aquarium, so it's not really an option anymore."
"I don't think I follow. Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," I sighed. "It's just...suddenly a bad time of the month."
"Ohh..." he said, nodding in understanding. "I get it, and seriously, Bella, that's fine. It's just bad luck or bad timing or whatever. As long as I can still kiss you, I'll be happy, and I wouldn't mind holding you tonight either, if you'd be cool with that."
"I would love that," I said, finally returning his smile, and the relief I felt was instant. Peter's reaction to my news made me feel even more childish than I already had, but it was a great indicator for the future about how to handle those kinds of things. He truly was a great guy in every way.
With that out of the way, we resumed kissing, and this time, Peter's hands weren't so shy. This time, he was behaving in a very similar manner to how he had in the shower. There were no objections on my end.
Everywhere and every way he touched me felt intensified. Even the slightest graze of his fingertips tracing along my shoulder blade set me on fire. Maybe it was the contrast of the hot water and the cool ocean breeze making my nerves more receptive. Maybe it was him. I found myself panting, moaning, and crying out in high pitched breaths. They weren't the sounds of a PG-13 make out session; to anyone else, it would have sounded as though we were having a much more intimate moment, but there was nothing I could do to control it.
"Fuck, Bella, you're driving me crazy."
"You do this to me," I panted back at him as his lips slid down my neck, attaching to the top of my shoulder. He said something else against my skin, but between his low tone and the jets in the hot tub, the words were lost in the noise. It didn't matter, though; his body was telling me everything I needed to know.
Much like earlier, he toyed with the tie on my bikini top, but he seemed to change his mind when his fingers stopped and drifted down the path of fabric, leading him directly between my breasts. He reached inside, torturing me with his touch as he nudged the triangle away, exposing me to him and the sharp breeze that passed over us.
"Oh god! Don't stop," I begged helplessly. "Everywhere you touch me...so good. Please don't stop."
Suddenly, he swung me into his lap. I adjusted myself quickly, straddling his hips as our mouths reconnected and his hand covered my bare breast once more. Frantically, I ran my hands up and down his chest, relished the definition in each muscle and his shuddering response when I dragged my nails over his nipples. He pushed away from my mouth abruptly, moving in to reposition his tongue over my chest. He drew teasing circles that made me groan, and when he clamped his teeth over the peak, giving it a tug that sent a shot of need directly between my legs, I lost it.
He hummed happily at my reaction, but did not release me or speak.
Without hesitation, my hands were on his shorts, untying the string and yanking at the velcro. I just wanted to feel him, even if it was all we could do. There was no thought behind my actions, only the desperate need to do something more with this incredible, sexy, bewitching man. To my surprise, his actions halted and he cuffed my wrists in his strong grip, pulling them above water.
"Why? No, don't," I objected, fighting his grip.
Instead of answering me, he transferred both my wrists into one hand, holding them both easily enough as his newly freed hand moved to my side, brushing over my ribs and waist and then moving inward when he reached my bikini bottom. As I stared at him, his bright blue eyes trapped mine, entrancing me with the intensity and want I saw there. I gasped when his open hand slid between my legs, touching me over the fabric. It was similar to what we had done earlier that day in the shower, but so much more.
"You're so sensitive," he mused, never unlocking our gaze. All I could do was nod in agreement and mutter something along the lines of "uh huh." His fingers were slow, purposefully teasing me as he watched my reactions. "If your clothes have to stay on, so do mine."
"Are you sure you're a guy?" I managed. He laughed lightly, obviously understanding my jest despite my inability to add inflection to my words while he was touching me.
With a tug on my hips, he pulled me closer, replacing his hand with the obvious need I could feel through his shorts. Reflexively, I pushed myself onto him harder, earning a deep groan that rumbled through his chest. It turned back into a laugh after a few moments, and I couldn't help smiling. "I never said I was done with you," he quipped mischievously.
For what felt like the thousandth time that day, our lips molded together into the perfect kiss. There was no fight for control over the other; we worked in easy harmony twirling our tongues, nibbling on each other's lips, and coming up for air at the right moments. It was effortless, just like the rhythm our lower bodies found, pushing and grinding in search of release.
My legs gave me leverage to roll my body over his, creating a circular pattern as I brushed along his length and repeated the action. He moaned into my mouth appreciatively as his talented hands ran up and down my back. I simultaneously loved and hated all of it. The feeling of our chests pressed together and our bodies rocking toward an imminent climax was incredible, but I wanted more. I hated nature for preventing me from tearing off our clothes and feeling him fill me, but these circumstances weren't the kind of first time I wanted for us. This would have to do for now, and with the sharp pains of pleasure that were firing off like bottle rockets inside me, there was no way we could stop what we had started.
Peter's hands went to my hips once more, always a firm place to rest or guide our movements, and he lifted me as he repositioned himself. Purposefully angling my regretfully covered pussy over his unfortunately clothed cock, I felt the reason for the change. His tip now pressed needfully against me, no longer using my body to stroke him, but pushing against me in a losing battle with our swim suits. Still, I couldn't stop myself from adding pressure, moving my hips to meet his small thrusts. My hands gripped his shoulders tightly and my head fell back, holding onto him for dear life because the rest of me was lost in the sea of desire I felt for him.
"I want you so fucking bad," he growled, nipping at my chest, but obviously unable to focus his attention there for long.
I pulled myself back up, tugging his short hair between my fingers and kissing him. "You're killing me," I moaned. "Oh fuck..."
Instinct took over in that moment, forcing me to take control and give my body the release it was screaming for. With a slight shift, I was grinding myself along the underside of his cock, practically bouncing up and down from just beneath his base up to the tip. My movements were unrestrained, and though they were selfishly driven, I could tell by the way Peter tightly gripped me, digging his fingertips into my skin, that I was driving him to the edge as well.
"Don't stop," he demanded before biting down on the crook of my neck. I cried out loudly, moving faster in response.
Everything was a blur of splashing water and strangled moans. I fought to keep my eyes open and on him, but the pleasure wracking my body continually forced them closed. "So close..." I whispered, pressing harder against him as our frantic hips moved in time with one another. Then Peter's arms encased me in a tight bear hug and his entire body stiffened. He moaned my name as his cock pushed forcefully against my sex, and I was gone. My entire form felt gelatinous as I fell into a hard orgasm. If Peter hadn't been holding me up, there was no doubt in my mind that I would have been underwater.
"Damn," he breathed into my ear, kissing it delicately.
"Something like that," I mumbled back blissfully.
After we dried ourselves and closed the hot tub, we quietly crept through the house to Peter's bedroom. There on his bed were my bags, neatly arranged by my friends. I smiled and shook my head at their favor. Peter offered me the shower first, and when he took his turn, I prepared myself for bed. I crawled onto the twin mattress and under the covers, happily thinking about how nice the close quarters would be for the night. As I lay there, staring out the window at the rolling ocean, I thought about a lot of things. How much I loved the beach, my job, where things were going with Peter, and what I would do from here.
When he emerged from the bathroom, neither of us said anything. He simply snuggled up behind me, kissing my cheek and gazing out the window with me. It was so beautiful, and there was just something about being near the beach that made me feel peaceful and content. Sleepily, after a long stretch of silence, I rolled over and kissed him softly.
"What's on your mind?" he asked, brushing my damp hair away from my face.
"A lot," I admitted. "I really love it here, you know?" He nodded. "I don't know, it's just like...I haven't been to the PPD building here or seen the whole city, but I'm enraptured with this place. Austin is great, and I know a lot of people would think I'm crazy to want to leave, but I feel drawn here. There's so much to offer, but it doesn't feel big or crowded like Durham. I don't think I'd be happy up there."
"It's different. I don't want to make a decision all caught up in the glamour of vacation because I know everyday life won't be like this, but I think..."
"That's how I felt when I was looking into this area." I smiled at Peter's understanding explanation. It was nice to know that my pull to this place didn't sound foolish or impulsive to him.
"Thanks," I whispered, leaning forward for another kiss.
He stopped me and rested his hand on my neck. "Hey, can you look at me for a minute?" I did as he asked. "I'm thrilled about this idea, but I don't want you to feel pressured either. I don't know where you and I are going, but since you told me that you could possibly be moving here, I've wanted it so bad. It's selfish, but I can't help that." I smiled at his confession, feeling butterflies dance in my stomach. "I want you to know that this week isn't just about some fling for me. I've always cared about you, and I would never use you."
"I know," I assured him, scratching his short sideburn with a single finger. "Let's just...enjoy the rest of this week and see what happens, okay? You can still show me around a little more, and we'll figure out all the details later."
We agreed on that, and soon sleep claimed us. There was no doubt that we both needed it after our busy, sexually-charged day.
I thought about Peter's confession a lot in the last few days of our group reunion and even more when I returned home to figure out what I was going to do about my job. It wasn't something we discussed again, but as I replayed his words in my mind, I had to admit that I shared so many of his feelings about our situation. When I had been given the option to move to one of the North Carolina offices, Peter had been the first thing I thought about. Not the cities or the promotions I could take, but him. I had nervously wondered if something could happen between us if our proximity and circumstances allowed it, and after our week together, there was no doubt in my mind that there was potential for an "us."
This wasn't just some whirlwind romance; I knew Peter. We had been friends forever, and we had seen each other through so many ups and downs of life. That spark we shared never went away, and I had to admit to myself that there was a reason. I wanted Peter - in a real way, in a way that went beyond the excitement and thrill of physical attraction.
Two and a half weeks after returning home from vacation, I sat on my couch, phone in hand, trembling anxiously. After a few deep breaths to steel myself, I found Peter's name in my contact list and hit the send button. He answered on the first ring.
"Hey! How's it going, Bella?"
The ease of his greeting calmed my nerves, and I smiled as I spoke. "I'm great. Actually, I was wondering if you could do me a small favor."
"Anything. Tell me what you need."
"Well," I began, adding a playful tone to my words, "I was wondering if I could come for a visit. I took this great new job in Wilmington, and I was hoping I could stay with you while I make arrangements for my move..."
Needless to say, Peter was more than happy to accommodate.
A/N: Unending gratitude to my beta Chele681 for getting to know Peter so well and taking care of him for me and also for the hilarious, perfect title for this o/s. Isn't she great?
Extra thanks to lisa89 for pre-reading, MsKathy for sharing dry hump ideas and Peter-love, and ElleCC & LaViePastiche for unknowingly lending their nicknames to this nonsense =)
I adore each and every one of you.
Please read & review as many entries as you're able, and don't forget to vote beginning 4/21!!