A/N: Endless thanks to FloridaChickie, who purchased me during Fandom Gives Back, gave me a great prompt, and then let me run all sorts of crazy directions with it. These two would likely not exist without her, but I'm really in love with them, so I'm all kinds of thankful.

Thank you to my beta, TwilightMundi, and TSM & Nameless, who always help me more than they know. Many thanks to Melooza, who allowed me to pick her brain more than once about the most insanely boring and mundane topics. Thank you!

My blog has links to most of the recipes and other random things from this one-shot, so take a peek – www dot mskathy dot com

Bella Mother Fucking Swan had been my arch nemesis in the kitchen for years.

In culinary school, we competed for the top spot constantly. I would say it was split fifty-fifty for who won, but I'd be totally lying – she kicked my ass almost every time. It only made me want to beat her

When we graduated, she opened her restaurant first. She got a better write-up in the local newspaper. When we'd been opened long enough to be Zagat rated, I was thrilled at our scores. Until I saw hers.

Then she stole my Head Chef a month after I opened.

Did I mention said Head Chef is my best friend?

Was. Was my best friend.

Such a pussy, Jasper. Begged me to forgive him, said he needed to go. I knew he was chasing some pussy at Bella's, but he was forgetting all the rules. We never chased chicks for more than one night.

We'd fucked our way through culinary school together, sometimes literally together, and I wasn't ready to give up that life. I didn't think Jasper was, either, so I had no idea what his grand plan was.

Finally, when I was approached to be an Iron Chef America and Bella wasn't? I felt like I'd won. My awards, appearances on television, professional accolades – it had all paled in comparison to this moment.

The last step was beating her on national TV.

After my first few successful battles, I approached the booking person and dropped Bella's name. Imagine my elation when she accepted the invitation. Jasper came over for beers that weekend since I was home in Vegas, not in New York taping, and I told him all about it. He just laughed at me, the fucker. Then told me all about how he was in love. Ugh.

The next few weeks, all I could focus on was my upcoming competition with Bella. I obsessed over ingredients, supplies, and potential menus. After I submitted my different supply lists for each of the potential secret ingredients, I demanded new knives for Kitchen Stadium. I became impossible to be around, according to my friends.

I had to win.

The morning of our taping, things went smoothly. Swan was just as gorgeous as the last time I'd seen her, and it pissed me off even more.

Routine was my best friend as I set up and got ready, discussing things with my two sous chefs. When the Chairman declared the secret ingredient was lemons, I almost exploded with frustration. Bella was a way better pastry chef than I, and would assuredly kick my ass in dessert.

Finally, the show began and we got to work. The filmed version of the ingredient reveal was done, and the cooking began.

"Allez Cuisine!"

Minutes later, I overheard Alton Brown commenting on the fact that I was already sweating and looking nervous. Of course, I laughed it off and smiled for the camera.

Fucking AB.

My team and I got to work, strategizing and making plans. We decided to make lemon truffle biscotti with goat cheese, roasted potatoes with olives and lemon, lemon tuna steaks with roasted vegetables, and Meyer lemon pudding cake with flash-frozen lemon foam for dessert. When I saw Bella making a beverage, I decided to shake up a lemon drop martini as my fifth course.

Bella and her team made rose lemonade, lemon pepper cashews, lemon garlic tilapia, lemon risotto with asparagus, and deconstructed lemon meringue pie.

When I tried to make the frozen lemon foam, I didn't have my ratios correct and ruined it several times before I just gave up. I decided to whip some cream and hit it with a hint of lemon zest, hoping for the best. The cake itself was fucking delicious, so I'd just be a little less dazzling with it than I wanted, I hoped.

My other dishes were awesome, and I was pleased to win the coin toss, deciding to present my food to the judges second so that it was the last thing in their minds. Unfortunately, I knew I was fucked when Bella presented her dishes. The judges were so complimentary about the composition and flavor of her foods, I didn't think I even had a chance.

I had to hold the rage in as she was declared the winner. Shaking her hand was … demeaning in the worst way possible. Once the crew was gone, she came over to sample some of my food and gave me a few compliments. That just pissed me off more, and I didn't have to hold back in front of the cameras anymore.

"You don't really need to rub it in, you know," I said.

"I just wanted to try the potatoes. They sounded good, and sure enough, they're delicious," she said.

"Fuck you," I muttered as I walked away.

"You'd like that too much," she snarked and huffed a gust of air.

As I walked out, I flipped her the bird. Hopeful my walk to the hotel would help calm me down, I thought about all the dirty things I wanted do to her as my own way of taking out my frustration. Oh, it would be consensual, make no mistake. I'd make her beg, then scream my name in pleasure. The walk became an almost-run when I realized I was sporting wood in my whites walking down the crowded streets. I hadn't even made my usual post-show stop at Fat Witch for a treat; I was too pissed to be polite.

After a long, hot, fantasy-filled shower, I went down to the hotel bar to wind down. Naturally, there she was, all sexy looking. I couldn't fucking escape this woman, no matter where I went. Sitting at the end of the bar, as far away from her as I could, I downed my vodka tonic and ordered another.

"Rough day?" she said, clearly holding in a fucking laugh.

I might have growled. Which might have made her laugh even harder.

"God, Cullen, you're so serious all the time. What did I ever do to make you hate me, anyway?"

Oh, where to begin.

"Nothing, Bella, just drop it."

I signed my bar tab, charging the balance to my room, and walked away before she could engage me in conversation further. The last thing I needed was to lose a verbal sparring match to her, on top of my loss in the kitchen.

That was the first night I dreamed of Bella. She had the same dress on in my dream, as in the bar; a turquoise thing with lots of tits and leg showing. The same heels were on her feet, and the same fucking smirk was on her face, only in my dream, she was begging me to take her upstairs with me. And I did.

Naturally, I woke up with a huge problem.

After dealing with my issue in the shower (again), I got dressed and hit the Chelsea Market for some food. I had one more day in the city before I went back to Vegas to deal with my restaurant. It was mostly at the phase where it ran on its own, under my Head Chef's direction, but sometimes I popped in just to check on things. I missed the excitement and stress of running a live kitchen now that I was just doing Iron Chef and some select cable TV programs.

Thankfully I didn't run into Bella again during my time in New York, but I knew it was almost unavoidable for much longer. Jasper had been asking me to get together with his new girlfriend, Bella's BFF or some shit, and I couldn't put it off much longer. My first night back, he came over to barbeque and I noticed an envelope in his hands.

"What's this?"

"From Bella," he said with a shrug.

In a formal script, the front of the envelope was labeled "Iron Chef Cullen."

As I opened the letter and looked inside, a slip of handwritten paper fell out, along with an invitation. The note said:


If you're still a sore loser, here's your second chance.

The invitation was to a mock Iron Chef party at some address I didn't recognize.

"She's been holding them forever," Jasper explained.

"What?" I asked, confused.

"Iron Chef parties. A group of us get together and make different courses, then we all eat and judge. She has a badass kitchen, man. You'd love to play in it."

I furrowed my brow and thought about it. Did I really want to do this?

"I dunno," I said with a sigh.

"Come on, it'll be fun. Besides, you can finally meet Alice. We'll just do it there, since she works for Bella, too. She fucking loves these things."

"Maybe," I said.

We ate on my patio after we'd cooked together, and downed a few beers. A few hours later, much sports watching and some cooking technique discussion had passed, and Jasper was plenty sober enough to drive.

"Give it some thought," he said. "I get the feeling she kind of likes you, unlike you, you asshole."

Clapping my shoulder as he spoke, Jasper walked out the door and turned to look at me.

"I like her," I said, defensively. "I just also want to kick her ass."

It was true; if he knew how much I really liked her, he'd mock me endlessly.

"Drive safe. Text me when you're home."

"Okay, Mom."

Flipping him off, I closed the door and flopped back on my couch. The invitation balanced in my fingers, and I contemplated what I'd do. I mean, I knew I'd accept, I just wasn't sure what would happen, and that made me nervous.

After I RSVPed via email two days later, I got a text. The invitation had asked that I include my contact details, in case anything changed.

I'm glad you're coming, Edward.

Did she do this shit to me on purpose?

It was another long shower that night. I didn't bother to reply to her text; we'd all be together during the upcoming weekend.

Soon enough, it was Saturday. I think I slept about five minutes the night before, my nerves getting the better of me. I packed up the few tools I insisted on taking with me, and made my way over to the address on the card.

Pulling up to the enormous home, I gasped. It was a mansion; giant, sprawling. There had to be more room in this house than she could ever need or use, and I was eager to get inside and let the judging begin. I'd been wise and bought a pricey but nice condo, something I could easily rent out or sell if I ever wanted to live elsewhere.

As I crossed the entry patio, I could hear the raucous laughter from inside. I was envious; I suspected I was walking into a situation where everyone would be comfortable with everyone else, aside from me. Always the odd man out, I'd never quite fit in with a social group in school. Sighing, I knocked lightly, almost hoping I could use "you didn't hear me" as my excuse to leave.

Unfortunately, Jasper answered the door almost immediately after, pulling me into a man hug.

"I never thought you'd get here, you pussy," he said. "Come on, let's go meet everyone. We're ready to get started."

"Bella, you remember Edward," Jasper said. I nodded at her, giving a half-smile. "Alice, this is Edward, my oldest and dearest friend."

"Who you dropped at the first sign of a lasting skirt," I muttered.

To my surprise, everyone laughed, and Alice walked over to embrace me.

"Edward, this is Kate and Garrett. They're two of the line cooks at Bella's."

As I shook each of their hands, it sank in that I was on my own. Everyone else worked for Bella. Anxious, I shifted from foot to foot.

"So here's how it works, Edward," Bella began. "We work in teams. Usually I'm with James, but he's … not here. Alice and Jasper are a team, and Kate and Garrett are a team, so that leaves you and me. Think you can handle it?"

She was back with that mile-wide grin, and I had no fucking clue why. Weren't we sworn mortal enemies? Wasn't this supposed to be a rematch?

"Sure," I said lamely.

"Each team brings an ingredient for the other teams to work with. I picked ours, since you aren't used to the drill. I hope you don't mind." As she spoke, she walked around me and I caught a hint of her scent, light and clean, not overpowering like the other chicks I was used to being around.

Jasper began to tie an apron around Alice's waist, and she turned to do the same, then I noticed Kate and Garrett gearing up as well. I hadn't thought to bring my whites, so I just resolved that I'd be working in my t-shirt and jeans. Bella walked up with an apron around her neck, turning her back to me, and asked me to tie the waist. In that moment, she was so fucking close; I could smell her again, and feel the heat from her body.

After she was properly in uniform, she held an apron up for me, silently asking me to bend down so she could put it over my neck. That's when I saw hers; it said "May the forks be with you". I laughed and then panicked when I realized mine probably said something lame like hers. Then I made the horrid mistake of looking down, after she'd already tied me up in it. It was worse than I'd thought: "Some things are better rich … Coffee, chocolate, men."

"What the fuck?" Moving to take the apron off, I wrapped my hands backward around my waist and began pulling at the strings Bella had just tied.

"Oh, Edward, loosen up. Everyone has cutesy aprons. You were just last to show up, so you got stuck with this."

It seemed to be a challenge, her eyes daring me to be a spoilsport and take it off. I growled quietly and left the fucking thing in place. It would be better than ruining my designer jeans, that was for sure.

"What are the ingredients, Chef?" I asked, putting on my best happy face. I knew I needed to be polite for Jasper's sake, and it wasn't that I wanted to be such an asshole all the time, it just somehow ended up coming out that way.

As I stood back and looked at the ingredients, I took in Bella's kitchen. To say it was huge would be downplaying. It was modern, all black and silver, and she had small touches, like a pot-filling sink in one of the islands, and a giant professional range. Even with six of us working in the small space, we'd have plenty of room.

"Kate and Garrett have mangoes for their appetizer, which is what I selected. Kate and Garrett brought chicken breasts for Jasper and Alice as the main course, and we have peaches from Jasper and Alice for dessert."

"Peaches?" I asked, eyebrow raised.

"Mmhmm. Do you like peaches?"

Her question was thick with innuendo, and I almost laughed. Instead, I decided to one up her.

"I love juicy, ripe peaches. Sometimes the fuzz can feel a little odd on my tongue, but then I get into the slick, slippery flesh and it's divine."

By the time I finished, I noticed Bella was blushing. Mission accomplished. I wanted to make her squirm as much as she had tortured me in the last few weeks, even if most of it was unknowingly.

"Well, let's get started, then, shall we?" she said quietly.

Bella looked around at the other teams, prompting me to do so also. Everyone had clearly overheard our conversation. Alice was giving Bella the strangest wide smile, and Jasper was looking at me like I'd just won some sort of medal.


Setting a timer for ninety minutes, a little longer than the real Iron Chef time, we all got to work. I wasn't sure how things would go teaming up with Bella, but they got off to an okay start. We discussed what we'd make, and Bella practically rolled her eyes at my suggestions of a pie or cobbler, dismissing them as too boring.

"How about a rustic tart with homemade ice cream?" she suggested.

"Why is that any better than pie?" I challenged.

That time, Bella did roll her eyes at me.

"Come on, Eddie, you're about to get a crash course in just how much better and different I can make this tart. Can you remember what it was like to be a sous chef? Think you can peel those peaches for me?"

We worked together surprisingly well. I peeled the peaches after a quick dip in boiling water and watched as Bella worked the pastry ingredients together. She was quick and confident, something I almost never felt, even in the kitchen.

"Done?" she asked. When I nodded, she continued. "Sprinkle some sugar over them, a little lemon juice, some fresh nutmeg, cornstarch, a little cinnamon, and then my secret ingredient."

At the end of her sentence, she winked. At me.

Certain the smile on my face was as goofy as it felt, I looked back at the sliced fruit and finished up. Just after Bella rolled out the crust, she leaned over the bowl I was working with and dropped in some minced crystallized ginger. I was lucky that I'd somehow been able to pay attention with her that close; I could smell her again, feel her body against mine again, and my desire for her pulsed again.

Thankfully, she took over assembling the dessert and gave me the rest of the directions for the custard ice cream base on the stove. When it was done, we had to plunge it in an ice bath so we could freeze it faster in the ice cream machine she had.

It seemed like only ten minutes had passed since we began, but the timer went off just as Bella passed me a cold beer. We'd helped each other out of our aprons, our tart was cooling, and our ice cream was finished. Cursing the timer, I decided it was probably better this way; Bella had taken the spot next to me on the long island, watching our friends work frantically. I wasn't sure how long I could stand there next to her and not get myself into trouble, either with my words or actions.

Everything was transferred to serving platters, and Jasper and Alice led the way outside. I carried the tart and Bella brought beverages and other things, our ice cream left in the freezer due to the heat.

The weather had just begun to taper slightly; instead of the sweltering heat, it was comfortable and tolerable. I stood for a moment, taking in the surroundings. I'd been so wrapped up in cooking, and her, that I hadn't noticed anyone coming out back, but clearly someone had – there were lanterns with candles hanging from huge weeping willows, canopying the table. There was a crisp, white tablecloth on the table, and soft music played from, well, somewhere.

"Wow," I whispered.

"You like my backyard, Cullen?" Bella teased, bumping her hip into mine as she walked by me.


I marveled at the landscaping another minute before joining everyone else at the table. Each team introduced their dish. Kate and Garrett had made a spicy habanero, mango, and avocado salsa with fresh tortilla chips. I moaned as I took my first bite, the bite of the spicy pepper playing nicely with the sweetness of the mango and the smooth, creamy texture of the avocados. The chips were nothing short of miraculous, deep fried to perfection and not at all greasy. Bella leaned against me briefly, talking to me animatedly about the salsa, and I was surprised at the gesture. We'd somehow grown comfortable with being close to each other in the last few hours, and I liked that.

A sly smirk crossed her face, and I wondered if she'd known about my attraction to her. She wasn't attracted to me, though, was she? This was just friendly banter between chefs at her house. Right?

Jasper and Alice presented their dish next; they'd stuffed the chicken breasts with a pine nut, ricotta, and herb stuffing, then wrapped the meat in prosciutto to keep it from drying out as it baked. It wasn't the most complex or complicated dish, but then neither was ours. When Bella lifted her fork to my mouth, insisting I had to try all of the flavors together (which I'd done several times by that point), I knew something more was up. Needing a moment to think, I excused myself from the table to go to the restroom. Just as I was finished and walking back through the kitchen, I noticed Jasper blocking my path.

"What's up?" I asked.

"I should ask you the same. Bella is sending you all the signals, dude. What's wrong with you?"

Shaking my head, I replied. "What?"

"Come on. She's been excited about this all week. You really think she just teamed up with you because of James? She could have paired with Alice and stuck me with your sorry ass, but she likes you. She wanted to be on your team. She feeding you food for Christ's sake. Are you really this blind?"

Maybe he was right; maybe I'd gotten so used to women throwing themselves at me that I forgot what it was like to actually work for it, and flirt.

Cocking my head to the side, I looked at him. "Maybe I am?"

"Well, get your fucking head in the game, man. She's hot for you, and she's a great catch. Don't fuck this up."

We fist bumped and Jasper walked in the direction of the bathroom as I walked outside. Feeling as though he'd given me the missing piece of the puzzle, I walked with an air of confidence. Taking my seat next to Bella again, I gave her what I hoped was a warm, sincere smile.

I didn't want just one night with her; I wanted more. One night would only be the beginning of my exploration. I couldn't allow myself to think about it too much, as my cock was already five steps ahead of the rest of me. Instead, I focused on Bella. She was looking back at me with a funny expression, but smiling.

"I'm gonna go get the ice cream. I'll be right back."

As she stood, her entire body brushed against my hand, which had been resting on the back of my chair since I was turned to face her. The second she was out of earshot, Alice began to grill me about my intentions. Laughing, I shrugged and took a long pull of my beer. I could tell Jasper was trying to calm her down, but I just didn't care. I didn't know what I wanted, how was I going to explain it to her?

Bella came back shortly after, ice cream in hand. Her lean body swayed next to me, cutting and then plating the tart. Turning to me, she smiled and had a sweet tone to her voice. "Can you do the ice cream?"

Nodding, I stood next to her and worked by her side. Again, we were brushing against each other, arms crossing as we worked to get things ready and then passed the dishes. Everyone began to eat and the table was a symphony of humming and moaning. Bella got a piece of the tart and a small bit of ice cream onto her fork, again lifting it to my mouth.

That time, as I slid the food from the utensil, I made sure to give more resistance. My tongue licked out to the edge of my lips and caught imaginary crumbs. Hers, consciously or subconsciously, did the same.

"Good?" she asked, eyebrow raised.

"Fucking amazing."

I don't think she even cared what anyone else at the table thought, we were sort of lost in our own little world. Eventually, someone cleared their throat and our spell was broken. Mentally rejoining the party, we chatted and bantered with everyone else. Naturally, we all thought we deserved to win, and soon enough, Bella revealed that there was never a real voting competition. She'd considered changing the rules and how the game was set up, but she just couldn't ever settle on a better system – everyone wanted to be involved in the cooking, no one wanted to be an impartial judge or ingredient supplier.

When all of the food was gone, we lingered. We talked, we teased, we theorized. It was one of the best nights I'd had in years, probably. Since culinary school, I decided.

Kate and Garrett excused themselves first, leaving hand-in-hand with a flimsy excuse. Jasper and Alice stayed a bit longer, but not much. Jasper waggled his eyebrows at me on his way out, and I swear Alice gave me a menacing glare.

Bella began to bring the dishes and platters inside, so I picked up some to help. When I got inside, she waved me off.

"Edward, you don't have to stay and help me clean up. Alice used to, but now..."

"She's too busy fucking Jasper?"

We laughed together and she nodded, then looked up at me. Her hands were at her sides, almost behind her, gripping the edge of the sink. The way she looked in that moment was so innocent, so uncertain, so fucking sexy.

"Want some help with the dishes?" I asked, nodding with my head at the pile of china in the sink.

"Yeah, sure," she said quietly. She seemed disappointed, but I just needed a few more minutes to steel my nerves.

"Do you want to wash or dry?" I asked, trying to restart the conversation between us.

"Wash. You can dry and set them on the counter."

The water ran, filling the sink, and it felt like the distance between us was growing. I had to fix things, had to get them back to where they'd been before. My eyes focused on her hands dipping in the soapy water, and I decided to be bold. Walking up behind her, I wrapped my arms around her, then dipped my hands into the hot water. When my fingertips found her hands, I threaded them together.

"Or I could help you wash?"

Pressing my body against hers, I paused to run my nose along the column of her neck. Her head tilted back against my chest and her fingers tightened with mine, curling and releasing in some unspoken rhythm.

Small kisses beneath her ear turned into nips at her shoulders, and I pressed against her more, harder. Bella sighed and pushed back against me, spurring me on. Giving me permission.

Deciding I didn't care about my now wet hands, I pulled them from the water and began to touch her body, everywhere. It didn't matter the location, everything felt so good and so right. Turning in my arms, she kissed me on the lips, and it was worth every minute I'd waited.

Apparently Bella was tired of waiting, too, and I felt her wet fingertips at the waistband of my jeans. My body hummed in anticipation when her hand slipped between the fabric and my skin, running back and forth along the waistband of my boxers. Moving my mouth faster against hers, I stopped to take her lower lip between my teeth, tugging slightly.

Bella's nails scratched lightly across my skin and the movement made my stomach muscles clench. Pulling back a little, I tried to hold in the laugh as she continued trailing her fingers on my skin, around to my hips. Looking up, I saw her shaking her head.

"Uh uh, you can't escape this time," she said with a laugh. Pulling me back between her legs, she hopped up onto the counter. "C'mere," she muttered against my lips.

As I pressed closer to her, she slid forward toward me until our bodies were pressed against one another. Her lips were eager and insistent against mine, as her fingers slid just inside the waistband of my pants again. My hands went to the hem of her shirt, mimicking her actions. Our mouths parted and she moaned softly in my ear as her chin rested on my shoulder.

Sliding my hands up her back, I undid her bra, then moved around to the front. Lifting her t-shirt, I began to lick, suck, and bite her nipples. Her hands in my hair comforted me first, then as I felt her tug harder, it began to hurt. What the fuck.

"Jesus, Edward," she said, when I finally looked up to see what her deal was. "How long are you going to make me wait? It's been too long, come on."

She wasn't whining, just needy and demanding, which was kind of hot, and kind of annoying. This was my territory. I was a master at this domain, and I'd do what the fuck I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted.

Well, I thought that, right until she undid my pants and managed to shimmy them down my legs without so much as the blink of an eye. How did she do that? Devil woman.

Getting lost in my thoughts wasn't an option though, as she wrapped her small hand around me and pulled. Stroking me gently, she was already bringing me to the edge, which in this case, was not a good thing.

"Lean back," I ordered.

Complying, she rested on the palms of her hands. Her t-shirt was tented in a funny way from the unclasped bra, and I really wanted to explore her body, find ways to make her scream and beg. She must've sensed my hesitation, as she lifted her hips and cleared her throat again, eyes imploring.

"Impatient girl," I said, words a contradiction to the soft, playful tone of my voice. "You think you're ready?"

Her mood shifted again, the shy side coming to the forefront, and she simply nodded. Picking her up, I moved us a few feet to the side of the sink, then pressed against the middle of her chest in a request for her to lay back. As she rolled her body down onto the cold metal, her breath escaped along with a loud noise.

Pulling her pants and panties down, I took my time with this last act, kissing and nibbling my way down to her bright red painted toenails. Once I could see her again, I decided something was wrong.

"Lift up, shirt off. I want to see all of you."

An eager smile crossed her face and she removed the last few pieces of clothing from her body. She was perfect, and ready, and I was wasting time.

Grabbing her legs, I pulled her down slightly so that she was closer to me. She wrapped her legs around me and pulled. Complying with her request, I used one hand to guide me closer to her, to give her what I knew she wanted. As I ran the tip of my cock along her slit, I used my fingertips to play with her as well. I wanted her wet and writhing, beyond ready, beyond begging. Her body shifted from side-to-side, trying to get the friction and attention it needed, and fuck if it wasn't one of the hottest things I'd ever seen.

When I'd had as much teasing as I could take, I slid into her slowly. Her feet dug into my ass as she whimpered, clearly wanting more still. Pulling back out, I pushed in faster, harder, more. Then I needed more, and took it, my hands exploring her body. Pinching her nipple with one hand, I used the other to tease and stroke her clit. My pace increased, and the look on Bella's face was angelic and wicked at the same time. Her hair was spread out, her breasts were bouncing, her pussy was tightening around me.

"Har-der," she demanded, the word punctuated and split from my actions with her body.

Thrusting harder, I laid my fingers flat on her mound, touching her faster and hoping to bring her to orgasm before I came like an inexperienced teenager.

Bella's fist hit the counter, momentarily startling me, and she grited out another request for me to fuck her harder. God damn, this woman was demanding in the kitchen and the bedroom?

Looking around, I spotted a couch and an idea struck. Scooping Bella into my arms, I carried her to the edge of the couch, then set her down.

"Harder?" I asked, looking in her eyes.

"Please," she said, her voice quiet and vibrating with need.

"Turn over."

She didn't even hesitate, my naughty girl just turned and gripped the arm of the couch, lowering her upper half. I wasted no more time and slipped back into her quickly. Now that I had leverage, I could thrust into her harder, so I did.

"Touch yourself," I practically growled.

My hands went up and over her body to grip her tits. They were perfect and fit right into my hand as I fucked her. She was making so many noises, I couldn't even distinguish between them; grunts, groans, moans, begging, and thanking, a unique language forming between us. Watching her hand move, knowing what it was doing beneath us, almost sent me flying, but I held on until I felt (and heard) her orgasm begin. The moment she began to come, I let go, moving harder and faster. I was halfway worried I was being too aggressive, but hadn't she been the one begging me for more? I pushed the worry away and let go as I came inside her.

Nearly collapsing onto her, I could feel her breathing through my own chest, the rise and fall of her body beneath mine somehow sensual and full of trust. Reality hit as I began to feel things moving, and I carefully pulled out of her.

"Stay here," I said.

As quickly as I could, I walked the few feet back to the counter and grabbed a towel. Walking back, I watched her, head turned to one side, eyes closed, body limp with satisfaction. Placing my hand on her lower back, I quickly cleaned up what I could, then pulled her onto the couch with me. Tossing the towel to the ground, I wrapped her up in my arms, this confusing contradiction of a woman. How could she be so shy one minute, so demanding the next?

When I woke up a few hours later, she had turned in my arms and was facing me. Her fingers were tracing my face, and I couldn't stop the muscles as they contracted into a smile beneath her touch.

"Hi," she said softly.

Not needing words, I leaned and kissed her. This one was a slow, sensual kiss, not the quick and dirty claiming from before. Her leg hitched up over my hip and she pulled herself closer to me.

"I've wanted to do that for so long," she confessed. "Since culinary school."


As we spoke, we laid there wrapped up in each other. It was so warm and comfortable, I never wanted to move. I watched her face dance and move as we spoke to each other, and she seemed to be doing the same with me.

"Yeah. God, I had such a crush on you; how could you not know?" she asked.

"I was too busy trying to beat you, I think."

"You are such a competitive fuck, Cullen. Can't you just enjoy the process of cooking? It's always about beating me, or beating someone. I wonder what your menu would look like if you weren't so busy trying to win a non-existent game. What do you really love to cook?"

Thinking about her words, I wondered if she was right. Had I chosen the menu based on things I loved, or things I knew I could do well? Had I sold out my desire and passion for cooking for my need to be successful?

"I have no idea," I confessed.

"Sad, baby. That's sad," she said, before giving me a quick peck on the lips. "I'll be right back."

Hopping up from the couch, Bella walked … somewhere else in her house. When I heard the toilet flush, I figured it out. The room was dark and I pouted that I hadn't been able to watch her lithe, naked body walk away from me. Just as I'd stretched out and closed my eyes again, I felt her hand in mine, tugging me off the couch.

"Come on, let's go to bed," she said, but I knew from the tone that sleep wasn't going to happen soon.

Walking slightly faster, I pressed against her body and put my hands on her hips, letting her guide me.

"If you keep doing that, we're not gonna make it to the bed," she teased. Her hands moved to cover mine and we slowed down, enjoying each other on our way.

Once we got to her room, she turned us so that I laid on the bed first, then she climbed on top of me. We made love slowly, the moonlight sweeping across her body from the open window, giving me quick peeks of different parts of her body, depending on how she was moving. It was exquisite and erotic.

Mostly quiet, our second time was something more for sure, and not in the way she'd demanded earlier. It wasn't hard fucking, it was soft and sweet. Vulnerable. For both of us. We again slept wrapped together, our need for one another sudden, but so comfortable.

There was no awkward morning; Bella woke up before me and I could smell something heavenly coming from the direction of where I thought I remembered the kitchen to be. There was a glorious looking French press of coffee on the counter, just waiting to be poured. When I walked further into the kitchen, I discovered she'd also made cream cheese stuffed French toast with an orange sauce... mostly nude. She was wearing another silly apron when I found her plating, but was deliciously naked from my vantage point behind her.

"Hungry?" she asked, a little bit teasingly.

"You have no idea," I said.

It was the truth. Before the previous night, I'd have said my life was good, happy. After, I felt awake, and hungry for everything in life. We sat in bed and fed each other drippy bites, licking up spilled syrup and then eventually abandoning the food altogether to indulge in each other once again.

When we could ignore our cell phones no longer, reality pressing in on the confines of our time, we took a shower and went on our way. It was Sunday, so there was nothing too pressing for either of us, but Jasper wasn't relenting on wanting to talk to me, and I knew Bella needed alone time as well. We made plans to spend the evening together, though.

Driving home, I talked to Jasper the entire way. I didn't give him explicit details, but he said he could tell just from the tone of my voice how changed I was. Who was I to argue?

Bella and I spent that night together, and the next several hundred. She altered my world, changed and irrevocably skewed my view of everything.

When we decided to open a restaurant together, the name came to me almost immediately. Not only was it our initials combined, it was what she had taught me: to just be. Kate, Garrett, Jasper, Alice, and all of our friends for that matter, were on hand for the opening of our bistro: be. No capital letters, no fancy names, no gimmicks. Just us, together, making food we loved.

As we made love that night, hot and sweaty, the middle of summer making us sticky and a little irritable with each other throughout the day, I realized that my life had led to that moment. I was still enjoying my Iron Chef America gig, but I knew my time there was coming to an end. After all, I'd proposed to the love of my life, and she had said yes. What more did I have to prove?

A/N2: I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on this one-shot. Thank you!