I hate lengthy a/n where the person goes on and on, apologizing for not posting in months. So yeah...sorry. I suck. Forgive me?

As always, thanks to Bexy, bierbeck, Stef, and TexasKatherine. You guys rock my world. I also wanna thank Suzspetals for being awesome and supportive and all that jazz. I love ya. :-)

Disclaimer: Tickets to see Guster and Better Than Ezra TONIGHT! belong to me, the t-shirt belongs to Smutty, and everything else belongs to SMeyer.


I rush through my meetings and tell the real estate agent that I'm definitely interested in the clinic she shows me. It's not in a great part of town, but it's in good shape and I think it would be cool to set up a low-cost practice if we can. She says she'll get some things in motion and drops me off back at the hotel. I really need to get my car out here, or sell it and just buy another one. I hate being so immobile. I don't know how Bella does it. I run up to my room and grab a few things because I don't plan on coming back here any time soon.

Speed-walking back to Bella's, I stop and pick up a few more pints of ice cream since I ate everything that was in her freezer last night. I also pick up the refill on her prescription that I called in yesterday and grab a six-pack because ice cream and beer sounds like a fantastic dinner. Bella slipped a key into my pocket this morning right before I left, and I can't help the shit-eating grin I have on my face as I slide it into the lock and open the front door of her house. Louie is still locked in his cage, which I find odd because I figured Bella would have forgiven him by now. He's also surprisingly quiet when I enter. He just softly mutters "lady" a few times as he shifts back and forth from foot to foot.

"Bella?" I call out to the quiet house, not getting a response. I wonder if maybe she's fallen back asleep, which annoys me because I know that article has been weighing heavy on her and I was really hoping that having a few hours alone today would push her to get it finished. I head upstairs and don't see her in the kitchen or living room so I turn towards her bedroom and see that the bathroom door is closed. I smile, remembering what she said about shower sex and thinking now would be a perfect time to convince her otherwise. I turn the knob, but it's locked.

I knock softly. "Bella, are you in there?" I wait for a second, but she doesn't say anything. I knock again, louder this time. "Bella, seriously. Open the door." After what seems like an eternity, the knob turns and the door cracks open just a sliver. All I can see are bloodshot eyes and a puffy face, so I shove the door open further and step into the bathroom.

"Bella, sweetheart, what the fuck? Are you ok?" I ask, reaching out for her. She very slightly cringes and takes a step back. I can't decide if I'm angry or scared shitless, but mostly I'm just confused as hell. She lets out a racking sob and throws herself into me with so much force I nearly fall backwards. She clutches my arms, her nails digging into me as she tries to climb up my body. I scoop her up and carry her to the bed.

"What happened Bella? You're really scaring me," I tell her. She shoves a crumpled piece of paper in my hand and takes a shaky breath. I put the paper on the bed next to us and push away from her so I can see her face. I'm worried that she's hurt or sick and I run my hands down her arms, her torso, and her legs. I don't see any bumps or bruises. Her foot is swollen, but it was swollen yesterday too.

"Are you hurt? Do you need to go to the ER? What happened?"

"I'm sorry Edward. I'm ok now. I was just here alone, and my phone is downstairs so I couldn't call anyone and I didn't know if he was in here," she says, throwing her arms around me and burying her face in my neck.

"What the fuck? If who was in here?" I ask, holding the paper she handed me up so that I can see what the hell is written on it. Everything turns black for a minute as I read the first sentence; rage encompasses me and I'm glad that Bella is sitting on top of me because I have an intense urge to break something.

An overnight visitor and new neighbor? You naughty girl. Don't worry. I know you want to finish what we started. I've missed the way you look when you sleep.

"Don't leave, Edward. Please," she whispers, snapping me out of my rage.

"I'm not going anywhere, baby. I promise. But I need to walk through the house and make sure there's no one else in here, ok? I'm pretty sure there's not, but just to be safe..." I trail off as she clings even harder to me. I kiss the top of her head. "Sit tight, ok? I'll be right back." She sniffles and lets go of me, scooting back towards the headboard and sinking into her pillows. Fraggle jumps up and plants himself on her chest possessively and she pulls him to her face. I stand and walk through the rest of the house, opening closet doors and checking the bathrooms, just to give her peace of mind more than anything else. James must have snuck in here last night; there were so many people in and out it would have been easy for him. I remember Bella coming upstairs to check on the cats and my stomach falls to my feet. I wonder if he was up here then? The music was loud and we were all drinking. A lot could have happened before any of us realized she had been gone for a while. It occurs to me that maybe that annoying blond girl and her friend came to scope things out for James. I wonder if she was trying to distract me while I was outside and how close James really came to getting his hands on Bella while she was alone. Once I decide the house is empty, save for the two of us, I take a minute to swallow my anger before heading back towards Bella's room. She's moved from the bed to her bathroom and is brushing her teeth while both cats sit on the counter and play under the faucet.

"No one's here," I tell her as I go in and sit on the edge of the tub. She spits out the toothpaste and turns to me, raking her hands through her hair.

"I figured. I just sat in the bathroom and freaked myself right the fuck out. Sorry."

"Why are you apologizing, Bella? I feel awful. I shouldn't have left this morning."

"Edward, that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. First of all, I don't need a fucking babysitter. Second, neither one of us knew that James had been here at that point."

The way she goes from being too terrified to function to completely unconcerned about the situation worries me. It seems like she's either at one extreme or another, which signifies that she's not dealing with whatever trauma occurred in her past. Whatever happened between her and James must have been pretty bad, and I know now that she's not telling me the whole story.

"Fine. Fair enough," I snap at her. I'm suddenly exhausted and the ball of rage sitting in my stomach is not helping to improve my mood. Bella whirls around and stalks out of the bathroom, muttering something about digging a hole and hibernating for a few months. I hang my head in my hands, tugging on my hair in frustration for a second before I follow after her.

"I'm sorry. I'm just frustrated and worried about you. And I want to kill James," I tell her. She's digging through her dresser with her back turned to me, still talking to herself. After a minute she apparently finds what she's looking for and pulls her tank top off, replacing it with a ratty t-shirt. Next she takes off her jeans and pulls on a pair of bright blue fleece pants with dogs all over them. She finally turns around and faces me, a single tear rolling down her face.

"No, I'm sorry. I was, well, I am scared. I try not to be, but I can't help it. I wish he'd leave me alone. I wish I was stronger. But I'm not. So I'll just sit here in my ratty clothes and probably drink and talk to my bird and pretend like it didn't happen. I don't want to drag you into this too."

I cross the room and pull her to my chest. "Bella, you're not dragging me into anything. You couldn't drag me away from here if you tried. But pretending like nothing happened isn't going to help. I think maybe you need to call the police," I tell her.

"And say what? That we had an open-door party, he came in, left a relatively non-threatening note, and then left? They won't do anything. And I don't want to antagonize him. It'll just make it worse."

"Well, that's entirely up to you. I disagree, but it's your decision. But I promise you that if I ever run into him again I will fucking beat him to within an inch of his worthless life."

"I appreciate it, Edward, but I would prefer it if you stayed out of jail," she responds. I laugh softly and she looks up at me, her eyes still glassy with tears. It's absolutely fucking heartbreaking so I take her head in my hands and kiss her, trying to convey how much I care about her without using words. I feel her relax and lean into me, opening herself up completely. We melt into each other and my frustration and anger subsides a little. I just want her to be happy. I want to take care of her. I want to love her. I lean back a little and gaze down at her, and the feeling isn't overwhelming or scary or confusing any more. It just is.

"I think I've fallen for you, Bella Swan," I whisper.

"I fell for you when you referred to Faulkner as a mule and not a horse or donkey," she states matter-of-factly. I smile like an idiot and lift her up so her legs are wrapped around my waist. She has somehow managed to sum up, in one off-the-wall comment, the exact reason why I'm falling in love with her.

I laugh and kiss her neck. "You're insane."

"I know. Can we get out of here for a while? This house is a buzz kill at the moment."

"Sure thing, baby. But first you have to change your clothes and then go talk your bird off the ledge. He seemed upset when I got here," I tell her. She immediately jumps down off of me.

"Fuck. Poor Louie. He gets worried when I'm upset and I forgot to open up his cage," she says as she hurries out of the bedroom. She returns a minute later with the bird pressed underneath her chin and I can hear him purring loudly. She's talking softly to him and running her hand down his back and it occurs to me that the way she sooths herself is by taking care of her family. Unfortunately, I don't think she's had anyone really take care of her in a long time.

"So where do you want to go?" I ask her as she sits down, crossed-legged, in the middle of the bed.

"I don't know. Sun Studio? We talked about going. I just want to get out of the house for a while. Forget about all this shit."

"Forgetting about it isn't going to make it go away, Bella. Are you ever going to tell me what really happened?"

"Yeah. Eventually. Probably." she smiles shyly at me. "It's not something I like to revisit. And you'll get really pissed."

"Well, you know where to find me when you're ready to talk. And I'll try not to get mad. I know that won't help. But I feel very...protective of you," I tell her.

"I appreciate it, Edward. Really, I do. It's just hard to talk about. And like with Serenade, it's a part of my life that isn't too happy, and I want the part of my life with you in it to be nothing but happy."

"Bella, that's not logical. It's who you are. You can't ignore it and pretend like it didn't happen. And we're not always going to be happy. That's putting a lot of pressure on us, you know?"

She just huffs and rakes her hands through her hair again. "Yeah," she answers shortly. "Let me get dressed and we can go, ok?"

"Ok. I'll just wait in the living room if you want me to," I tell her. I'm irritated that she's back to being grumpy again, but I guess she's had a long morning. She doesn't respond, so I scoop Satch up and close the door behind us. The kitten climbs up my chest and sits on my shoulder as I collapse onto the couch. I'm fucking exhausted all of a sudden, and I'm sort of rethinking my aversion to the whole "snap your fingers and make it go away" thing. Maybe Bella has a point. But then I start thinking about James wandering around up here last night and I'm back to being homicidal again. I'm not going to be able to let this go, but hopefully I'll be able to put it on the back burner for now so that we can salvage what's left of the day. I really think she needs to call the police, but I don't know how to convince her of that. She seems set on ignoring the whole situation. I think she'd probably kill me if I called them myself, but I'm pretty damn close to doing just that.

"Can we get food first? I'm starving again," Bella says, startling me a little bit as she comes out of her room. I can't hide the huge smile on my face when I look at her. She's got a t-shirt on that says "NSFW" across the chest and a pair of blue jeans that look like they've seen better days. It's pretty damn adorable.

"What are you grinning about, Cullen?"

"I like your shirt," I tell her.

She laughs. "Yeah, well, it's true. And work's not safe for me. We really don't get along all that well."

"Where do you want to eat?" I ask her. She gets a pretty wicked looking smile on her face and does a little hop-skip thing that scares me a little bit.

"It's a surprise. We have to drive, though. It's over off of Hack's Cross. But it's totally worth it."

Bella drives Jasper's truck out of town in a direction that I've never been before. I'm totally curious as to where the hell she's taking me, and a little scared too. I'm worried we'll be eating chicken fried bugs or something. We don't talk much during the drive. She's put on Guster and is singing at the top of her lungs, one arm hanging out the window and the other drumming on the steering wheel. I can't help but notice that the leg not on the gas peddle is bouncing furiously and I wonder if it's out of anxiety, or if it's just a habit she isn't aware of.

"We're here," she announces, turning the stereo down as she pulls into the parking lot of what looks like a huge Mexican restaurant.

"Mexican? Really?" I ask.

"Oh, not just Mexican, Edward. Mexican buffet. All you can eat," she says, turning towards me and smiling. I laugh and pull her over the console into my lap as she takes her seat belt off. She straddles me and twists a little as she settles down onto me, wrapping her arms around my neck and leaning into me.

"All you can eat sounds perfect," I murmur, taking her bottom lip between my teeth before kissing her hungrily. She whimpers and kisses me back before pulling away and grinning at me.

"That was so corny."

"You wouldn't have me any other way, baby," I respond. She just rolls her eyes at me and opens the door, falling out of my lap and almost eating it in the parking lot. I catch her before she face plants and she curtsies once she's steady on her feet again. Shaking my head at her, I get out of the truck and we walk into what I'm pretty sure is the only Mexican buffet in the country. Only in Memphis, I think to myself.

A buffet of chimichangas and a pitcher of Margaritas later, we've pretty much forgotten about Sun Studio. Bella has definitely had more to drink than I have, so she tosses me the keys to the truck as we leave the restaurant.

"Drive me home, Edwaaaard," she drawls, turning and wrapping her arm around the back of my neck.

"You got it, hot stuff," I say, swooping in and sneaking a kiss. "You taste like limes."

Bella giggles and then kisses me back, tightening her grip on my neck while attempting to mount me.

"I'm not carrying you to the truck, weirdo. People are starting to stare at us," I tell her, laughing. She pouts for a minute and then says she doesn't give a fuck what other people are doing and whispers something about deep throating me in the middle of the parking lot. That's about all I can take, so I scoop her up and do, in fact, carry her to the truck. I deposit her in the passenger seat and reach over and buckle the seat belt as she palms my ridiculously hard dick.

"Get me the fuck home, Edward," she groans into my ear and I move with lightening speed around to the driver's side.

I spend the entire drive back to Beale trying to get Bella to stop trying to undress me. As soon as I pull into the back alley, she's out of the truck in a flash. Without giving me a second glance, she races into the bar, the screen door smacking behind her. I have no idea what she's up to, so I follow her blindly, realizing I would probably follow her blindly into the depths of hell and be happy about it. Before I can get through the door, she's charging back out with a bottle of Patron and a lime.

"It's a tequila and sex kind of afternoon, don't you agree?" she asks, waving the bottle in front of my face. I'm completely incapacitated with lust; she grabs my hand and drags me towards the house. She uncorks the bottle with her teeth, takes a swig, and then passes it back to me. I do the same, handing it back to her, and she takes another swallow. Before the back door is even shut, my shirt is off, her pants are unbuttoned, and there's tequila being poured down my throat. We've somehow entered a pirate-themed porno Twilight Zone, made complete by the fact that Louie flies over and perches on Bella's shoulder in the middle of everything.

"Ok, hold on," Bella pants. "We need to regroup. Here. Hold this," she says, thrusting the bottle into my hands. She puts Louie back in his cage, securely closes and locks the back door, and then leads me upstairs. When we reach the living room, she backs me onto the sofa, where I collapse into a hot mess of hard dick. She shimmies out of her pants, wiggling around and making a show of it, and then takes off her shirt. Dragging her hands down my chest, she dips them into my waistband and then pops the buttons on my fly. I lift my hips so she can pull my jeans off.

"Going commando, Dr. Cullen?" she asks in a ridiculously low, sexy voice.

"I need to do laundry," I reply, smirking at her. She just looks up at me, batting her eyelashes as she licks her lips and then suddenly takes my entire dick in her mouth. My whole body involuntarily lifts off the couch and I almost come right then and there. She slowly travels up my length, licking and sucking and humming. I won't last long at this rate, so when she gets to the tip, I grab her and lift her up to me.

"Hi," I say to her.

"Hey," she replies, blushing a little bit.

"Are you seriously blushing? After that little strip tease and then a mouthful of my cock?" I laugh.

"Shut up. Don't make fun of me!" she grins and buries her face in my neck.

"Baby I am not making fun of you. The last hour has probably been the sexiest of my life. I don't know what's gotten into you, but I like it," I tell her, lifting her chin up so she's looking at me. I kiss her slowly, reverently, and she twists her hips in my lap. The blush is still on her face, but I think it's now from lust and not embarrassment. I use one hand to remove her bra and the other to pull her underwear off, and she immediately sinks down on top of me.

"Fuck, Edward. Oh my god," she moans, rising up and then coming back down. My head falls back against the sofa and I grab her hips, guiding her into a slow, comfortable rhythm. The house is silent except for her soft cries and the sound of our skin making contact. I snake my hand down in between us and brush my thumb across her clit and she gasps, clenching around me. A couple more passes and she's coming apart around me. I don't last much longer; all her teasing has kept me on the edge for what seems like an eternity, and I release into her. She collapses onto my chest and I wrap my arms around her. We sit like that for a few minutes until she stirs and looks up at me.

"I needed that. I needed to feel close to you. Safe. Thank you," she says, tears glistening in her eyes.

"I needed it too, Bella," I tell her, and then stand and carry her to the bed where we both immediately fall into a deep, satiated sleep.