A/N: Thanks for reading and being patient with my slow updates. Also, thanks for nominating JF's Rosalie for best Rosalie in the Avant Garde awards!
Nothing Twilight related belongs to me.
I don't think that I have ever felt this content ever in my life. Warmth covered every part of my body. It wasn't an uncomfortable heat, no, it was a heat that filled my limbs and organs with life, an energy humming through my veins that I had never experienced to this degree before.
All this before I was fully conscious.
I could feel the sunlight on my eye lids, and normally I would be all for escaping sleep, but I had the feeling that I was just awaking from an amazing dream. Even though I didn't fully remember what it was about, I just knew I wanted to be back there. It was where I was happy.
I moved to stretch my arms and legs, expecting to come into contact with cool sheets, but instead my hands found a a very warm and very hard stomach, my legs tangling with much longer ones. No. It was just a dream. He can't be here. I was too afraid to open my eyes, thinking that I was still in a dream, so I let my hands feel their way. Hands moving up from his stomach to his broad chest, feeling the light dusting of hair that was there. They moved across his shoulders , then ghosted up his strong neck and Adams apple. My breath was shaky as I now processed that there were strong arms encircling me, holding me close. I touched a pair of lips that were just above my head, and I felt them part at my touch.
"Mmmm," he hummed, pulling me tighter into his embrace. His face burying into my hair. I nuzzled my nose into his neck, breathing in the smell that was so enticing and so attractive to me; the undeniable smell of Edward.
So I wasn't dreaming. Edward was actually here. Everything felt so right and so perfect. All the pain I felt in his absence melted away. He was my drug of choice and I didn't care about the consequences. All the reasons why I had ran before seemed insignificant because Edward was here when I needed him the most, and even when I tried to push him away, he still found me.
I knew that I loved Edward, that much had been clear, but to actually feel the effects of it? Mind-blowing. Kissing his chest, I felt the steady heartbeat underneath, memorizing the feel and sound. I kissed other parts of his chest, wanting to taste and feel his skin with my tongue, Edward began to stir.
"Five more minutes," he mumbled as he pulled me even closer. I giggled, weaving my hands through his hair and tilting my head so I could kiss his jaw.
"You sure about that?" I said in what I hoped was a seductive purr. Edward didn't open his eyes but he smirked and hummed again in contentment.
"That depends," he murmured, his voice soft, like the finest velvet. Sex incarnated. "What are you going to do with those five minutes?"
"I can think of few things we could do with our time other than sleep." I touched lips with mine, our kiss starting light and lazy, as both of us still half asleep, but it soon became eager and intense. My lips were hot and molded with his, and when my tongue met his, I didn't give a damn about morning breath.
Rolling us over with his large hands splayed across my back, Edward pulled me across his body until I was on top. I felt him grow hard against me, and I moaned as I searched for friction, frustrated that we had layers of clothing in the way, my mind literally wanting to screw our agreement from last night. Literally.
But I had wanted to do this different. I wanted to take things slow and not get caught up in the sex part. I wanted things to be special with Edward.
"Ah, Bella," he moaned, still kissing my lips, however less feverishly.
"I know," I sighed, rolling off him and tucking myself into his side. He put his arms around me and pulled me closer, his fingers playing with the loose tendrils that had fallen over my shoulder.
I looked up at him and oh my, he was a sight to behold. His hair was all over the place, pieces of it stuck to his forehead with sweat. His face was red with exertion and he already had good amount of stubble on his face, but what I couldn't get past were his eyes. He was looking at me for the first time the entire morning, and they showed bliss, something I expected, something that was probably reflected in my own eyes. But what I didn't expect was the awe that was there, and it stirred something deep in my heart.
"So I think our friendship is effectively ruined," I mumbled into his side. He laughed.
"Silly Bella." I quirked my eyebrow up at him, but he surprised me by kissing me softly. "I think you and I both know we were always more than just friends. Even in the beginning," he mumbled into my mouth.
I couldn't argue with that.
We stayed in my bed for a while, just being content with lazing in each other's arms. I couldn't remember the last time I felt this peaceful.
"Hey Edward," I mumbled, still tucked into his side.
"Mmm?" he sighed, snuggling into me. If I knew Edward like I thought I did, he was already almost asleep.
"Please don't get me wrong, I am really glad you're here. But how are you here, exactly?" The events leading up to him being here were all muddled in my mind. I remembered leaving his apartment in a rush yesterday, but the rest was all a dark haze in my mind. I vaguely remembered getting into bed, but after that I only remember Edward lips on mine, and well, why I was currently in my state of undress.
Edward stiffened beside me. I moved from his side to look at him and his eyebrow was furrowed as well as frowning.
"You don't remember anything?" He looked pained and worried, and I mirrored his expression. It took me more than a second to realize what my question would sound like to him, and I felt like an idiot. It sounded as though I thought he had taken advantage of me and I didn't remember what we did.
"Oh shit, no Edward," I said before nuzzling his neck. "Of course I remember what happened last night. I mean, it's not often I cum from just nipple teasing." I blushed having vocalizing this statement, but it was my attempt to lighten the mood and make him feel better. He smiled a tiny bit but he still looked confused.
"What I meant was how are you in my apartment? It's like you came out of thin air or something." I hadn't totally ruled out any magical capability on his part. He always seemed to appear right when I needed him the most. He stopped my nightmares, and even came back time and time again when I pushed him away. Guilt washed over me for all things I had done to Edward when he had done nothing but care for me.
I was a horrible person.
"So you don't remember me coming in last night?" Edward asked. I shook my head.
"Everything is fuzzy up until you kissed me." Edward sighed and began to fiddle with my hair again, not looking at me, and his cheeks were tinged with red. He was embarrassed? Was he going to confess to being my creepy stalker or something? Because I already had one stage 5 clinger, I didn't need another one. Though something tells me I would be fine with Edward clinging to me all he wanted. I need help.
"After you left I got a little drunk. OK, very drunk. And I wanted to talk to you but you weren't picking up your phone so I looked up your address on the white pages...Oh god you think I'm some weird stalker now don't you?" He brought his hands up over his face, and yeah, no one had looked up my address in order to find me before, or at least that I know of, but I knew his intentions were good, so I didn't mind. Still, that didn't explain how he was in my apartment.
"Edward," I said softly, prying his hands off his face. "I don't think that." He didn't look very convinced and he still wouldn't look at me but at least his hands weren't covering his face anymore. I could at least read him now.
"Yeah well, you might change your mind about that." He grimaced.
"So you looked up my address..." I started, willing him to finish his story. He sighed.
"As you can tell I was making brilliant decisions last night, and I decided that I had to see you. It's hard to explain but I just knew I had to see you . I ran all the way to the subway and then ran from your stop to your apartment, which believe me was probably the most athletic moment of my life. It was when I finally got to your place that I realized that I was being completely ridiculous. I didn't even look to see what time it was when I left!" Edward huffed, and it in all honesty it was sort of cute. I was about to interrupt with that exact thought when Edward finally looked at me. His gaze was intense and probing. I wanted to look away because of the intensity, but it trapped me instead. His blue eyes blazed.
"But then you screamed." I felt myself blanch and I stopped breathing all together. Oh God he heard me.
"And it wasn't a 'you just saw a spider in your shower' scream. It was a scream of complete and utter terror." He closed his eyes in pain and brought his forehead to mine, touching my cheeks tenderly. I couldn't say a thing. I hated that he had heard me, and I was terrified about what I might have said. "Bella, I didn't know what to do. I thought someone was hurting you in there and I wasn't thinking straight and I panicked. And I...I broke down your door."
That was a complete surprise.
"You broke down my door?" I was sort of awestruck, trying to picture him, clumsy Edward breaking down my door. It wasn't that I didn't think he was strong, I had felt the muscles in his back and arms, it's just pretty hard to picture someone in your real life do something that you only see in movies and television shows. "How?" I asked, pulling back and staring at him wide eyed.
"I guess I had an adrenaline rush or something and it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time." Edward crinkled his eyebrows then frowned at me. "And you didn't have your deadbolt locked, which reminds me, promise me you'll never leave it unlocked again."
"But then how will you get in next time?" I joked and Edward frowned at first but then his expression brightened a little bit.
"You're not mad at me for breaking in?" I shook my head.
"Why would I be mad? I'll have to get the door fixed which is sort of an inconvenience, but I'm not mad about it."
"But I came into your house uninvited, invaded your privacy-"
"Edward." I interrupted putting two fingers in front of his lips to shush him. "You thought I was in trouble. You thought someone was attacking me and you did what you thought was right. You could have been saving my life if it were true. And besides, even though I wasn't being murdered in here, you did come when I needed you, even if I wasn't consciously aware of it at the time. So no, I'm not mad at you. Not even a little bit." I removed my fingers and kissed him softly. He was stiff at first but then his lips melted into mine.
We kissed for a long while, languid and slow. Edward was tracing my face when he pulled away from me. I saw in his eyes that he cared for me, cared deeply, and that should have scared me. That didn't, but what did scare me was the concern I saw there. I don't want pity and I don't want to be treated like a china doll. It was the reason I never told people about Phil, or about her. I didn't want to be that girl and it would kill me if Edward looked at me like a victim. I didn't want that label. Still, I wanted Edward to know me. At least a little bit. I could give him that. Couldn't I?
"Why do you scream like that in your sleep Bella? Is it...him?" He growled.
"Let's just put it this way. Phil is not the only shitty thing that's happened in my life," I laughed bitterly. "Far from it." I didn't want to look at him. I didn't want to see what his face had to say.
"Will you tell me someday?" He knew that these were not things easily answered, and for that I was thankful. The weird thing was I wanted him to know, but I couldn't find the courage to tell him. I nodded, letting him know that I would tell him the horror of my life someday, and Edward crushed me into a hug, sensing that I was ready to fall apart again. He didn't say anything, only holding me close to his body, while I tried to listen to his heartbeat and desperately tried to stop thinking about that day.
Edward held me in his arms for a long while, the sun growing brighter in my room the only sign that time was passing. Eventually however, both our bladders and his grumbling stomach forced us to move. I also had to get ready for work eventually, since I had to be there later that afternoon.
Edward wanted to clean himself up, so I showed him where my bathroom was and then flopped down on my bed again. I really didn't want to go back to work again. I was embarrassed and more than a little afraid to go back. What if it happened again? What if I took one look at the endless rows of bookshelves and I fell apart? Worse, what if Edward was there to witness it? He would have even more reason to treat me like a china doll, and he might actually realize how crazy I actually am. I had wanted that before, but now I couldn't bare to drive Edward away. If I was stronger I could. If only...
I heard the water turn on in my shower, and I was surprised at how happy it made me to know Edward was using my shower right now. And it wasn't because of any sexual connotation ( though that was surely in another lust filled part of my mind), it was more that it felt right for him to be there. For him to be in my home and being here with me felt right, like he'd been here all my life and not a few short weeks. I smiled up at the ceiling, deciding not to care about work or anything else right now and just focus on the now.
I got up, threw a shirt on, and made my way to the kitchen to get started on some breakfast for us. I wasn't the greatest cook but I could do the basics and not burn things. Usually.
I decided on grilled cheese since it was safe and because of Rose's grocery drop off the other day, I was stocked with cheese and bread.
I had put the sandwiches together and was frying them when I finally glanced at my front door. It was closed, but it was hanging awkward and loose in the frame. I chuckled to myself, still not able to picture Edward doing that kind of damage in the slightest. Maybe I had underestimated him.
"Something funny?" Edward's voice was warm in my ear, his arms having a similar warmth as they wound around me from behind. His hair was wet and dripping on my shoulder, but I didn't care.
"It's nothing," I smiled, revelling in his closeness. He bowed his head and kissed my shoulder as I attempted to flip our sandwiches and I nearly burst from happiness. Tell me why again I had ran from this?
"Mmm so do you. You smell like me." I giggled. He smelled like he was slathered up in strawberry jam.
Note to self: Slather strawberry jam on Edward someday.
"I hope you don't mind me using your stuff. And you didn't really have anything more 'manly', which I suppose I should be happy about..." God I loved it when he rambled. I turned around to face him and was ready to interrupt him when I finally noticed what he was wearing, which was only one of my fuzzy white towels, low around his hips.
Let me die.
I had seen him without his shirt on but that had nothing on the way he looked now. Edward was lanky yes, but he was strong, his chest broad and defined, and his arms well developed. While there was no washboard there, his stomach as still hard and flat. He was obviously no gym fanatic but he took care of himself. His clothing really didn't do him any justice.
I must have had my mouth agape because he gently pushed it closed, but not before laughing out loud.
"See something you like, Swan?" he said, repeating my words from the night before.
"How are you possible?"
Edward barked a laugh. "What?"
"You're like, perfect." Well that sounded very valley girl of me.
Edward looked at me incredulously. "I'm hardly perfect Bella," he scoffed. Maybe he wasn't, but he was perfect to me.
"You're perfect where it counts." I kissed him lightly above where his heart was and turned my attention back to the grilled cheese, though that was semi difficult with a half naked man behind me.
Edward whispered into my neck before kissing it lightly. I couldn't make out what he said, but I felt a shiver run up my spine and I lifted my head, giving him more access. I hummed as he began to suck and nibble there, only having enough sense to throw the frying pan off the burner before I turned around and attacked him with my mouth. He wasn't expecting me and I felt him brace himself against my kitchen island, returning my kisses with equal fervor before chuckling softly.
"Remind me to do that more often." He smiled. Always so smug.
"If you do, I'll never get anything done."
"And that's a problem because?" He was smiling like a fool. I had never seen him so giddy. It was beautiful.
"You're ridiculous," I said before lifting my chin to kiss him again. Edward laughed.
"So I've been told." He smiled before kissing me once again. I sank into him, wishing I could spend my entire life just doing this.
Several things seemed to happen at once then.
"ISABELLA MARIE SWAN, YOU BETTER HAVE NOT DIED IN THERE! I'M NOT CLEANING YOU UP! AND WHAT THE HEL-" Edward had just been in the middle of grabbing my ass while we were making out in my kitchen, when Rose stormed into my apartment, not even knocking before she came in. Edward and I froze, glancing Rose's way and seeing her gaping at us. I let go of Edward and he shifted beside me awkwardly. When I turned to face Rose, my face of course beet red, her surprise had turned into a knowing smirk.
"Hey Rose," I said, trying to break the silence. "What's up?" My god this was going to be as awkward as I thought was. She raised her eyebrows and looked at Edward, then me.
"Oh I think many things are up right now." Rose smirked and I heard Edward choke before he inched his way behind me, feeling exactly what was up. The heat rose in my cheeks.
"Rosalie!" I couldn't believe she would say something like that in front of Edward. She ignored me.
"Nice to see you again Edward," she said like she hadn't just made her previous comment, like they were old friends. I narrowed my eyes at her.
"Rosalie." I could tell he was pretty embarrassed. Hell, I was. "If you'll excuse me, I'm going to get changed." His voice was stiff but he squeezed my shoulder lightly before he turned and went back into my room. I resisted the urge to watch his towel sheathed ass leave.
After I heard my bedroom door close, I sighed and went to make coffee, waiting for the onslaught of questions and comments that would be coming my way. It was giving myself something to keep my hands busy.
"So?" Rose started, drawing out the 'o'.
"So is this," she glanced towards my bedroom door briefly before looking at me, " the reason I haven't heard from you in the last two days?"
"Sort of, but not how you think." Knowing Rose she probably thought we were having a sex romp for the last 48 hours.
"Oh really? So Edward was just checking for cavities with his tongue a few minutes ago? Bella, I'm not stupid."
I sighed. "That," I said lowly, not wanting Edward to hear, "is sorta a recent development."
"Have you guys had sex?" Rose asked unabashedly and way too loud.
"What? Inquiring minds want to know. Besides I wouldn't blame you, he is a fine specimen." She spoke quieter this time but it was still equally embarrassing.
"Specimen? No, I – we haven't." Her eyes were wide and she was genuinely surprised. Was I really that predictable?
"That still doesn't really explain why he was in your kitchen practically naked."
I sighed. " It's a long story."
"One that you'll tell me?" I wanted to keep everything to myself about Edward and me, but I knew she would never stop until I told her. I just didn't want to do it when the person in question was within hearing distance.
"I will but not today." I looked pointedly at my door. She took the hint.
"Friday then?" Her eyes were bright, like a kid in a candy store. Oh I had forgotten, we were going out that night. I had even more to look forward to on Friday now.
"Fine. Friday." She smiled and then ran and gave me squeeze. Again forgetting my no touch rule in her exuberance. I still stiffened a bit, but to my surprise, I didn't really mind it.
"Oops, sorry about that Bella. You just don't know how glad it makes me that you are finally looking happy for once!"
"Thanks, I guess?"
"I'll leave you two alone but I will see you on Friday. You can come get ready at my place." She smiled before heading for the broken door. "Bye Bella." I waved in return.
"Goodbye Rosalie. " Edward's voice came from behind me and I jumped, not even hearing him come in the room. I heard him chuckle at my reaction and Rose smiled knowingly in response. She waved to both of us and then quickly left us alone. I turned to him now, and while he had put his jeans back on, he was still not wearing shirt. I smacked him hard on the chest.
"Ow! What the hell was that for?" he said, rubbing the place on his chest that was now tuning a bright shade of red.
"For sneaking up behind me like that!"
"I surprised you?" he asked, his eyebrows raising. I rolled my eyes.
"So it seems that the student has become the master." He smiled broadly, and I rolled my eyes again, turning back to retrieve our sandwiches and put them onto plates.
"Easy there Yoda," I responded, handing him his plate before sitting down at the counter with mine. "I made coffee by the way."
"Mmm, I knew there was a reason I liked you."
"Keep going with that Cullen and I'll never let you near my sweet ass again." Edward laughed at me, grabbing us two mugs of coffee. "I'm serious." I told him, but my smile was giving me away. I was having too much fun with our banter.
He handed me my mug. "I'm sure you are," he said, giving me that perfect half smile, and sat down beside me. I was thoroughly dazzled. Again.
I blushed and sipped my coffee, very aware of our proximity to each other. Feeling the electricity flowing between us even when we weren't even touching. I was still in such a daze that I blurted the first thing that popped into my mind.
"You told me you're not athletic."
"I'm not." He sounded perplexed at my question.
"Then how is it possible you look like a Greek god?" A Greek god? That wasn't cheesy at all Bella.
"Excuse me?" Edward's laugh barked loud and I want to crawl into a hole and die. "I look like a what?"
"Nothing. You look like nothing." I put my head on the counter, not wanting to show my beet red face to him. Edward still laughed but he tried to pat my head in comfort.
"I think that's probably the weirdest compliment I have ever gotten." I turned my head and raised one of my eyebrows at him.
"Despite my flowery language just now, you have to know you look hot Edward. With or without your clothes on." Edward looked bashful, like he wanted to tell me I was wrong but he honestly couldn't. Aha!
"Good genes I guess." He shrugged, looking away from me, instead focusing his attention on his sandwich. "And I'm don't play sports since lord knows that would be one embarrassment after another, but usually during the semester I lift weights with the guys sometimes."
"Well whatever it is, it works well for you." Edward turned back to me and smiled lightly.
"Why the line of questioning? Enjoying the view, Swan?" He said, arching his eyebrow suggestively.
"I called you a Greek god didn't I? Though I didn't think you were the walking around without a shirt on type of guy, especially around company."
"I'm not." He laughed. "But unless you wanted me to throw on one of your tank tops or ask you to strip in front of Rosalie, this was my only option."
I looked at him, confused and trying to push the mental image of Edward in one of my tank tops out of my head, when he looked pointedly down at my shirt. I followed his eyes, belatedly realizing I had thrown on his shirt in my love drunk state this morning. How had I not realized that?
"Oh." I started to pull it off but Edward stilled my hand.
"Jesus Bella. If you do that I know we will both be very distracted. Then we'll never get to work." He let go of me and went back to his sandwich, but I could see his eyes where they crinkled in a smile.
"You're working with me today?" Now that Edward wasn't being trained, our schedules were no longer guaranteed to meet up. I had been able to survive the Edwardless shifts before, but after all that happened, and especially now that I had my infamous breakdown, I didn't know if going back without him there would be easy. I think I could do it, but I would be miserable for sure.
He looked at me like I should know that of course he would be, and I could feel myself beaming from the inside. Maybe going back to Books and Things wouldn't be so bad.
We talked lightly through the rest of breakfast, keeping the subject matter light and banter playful. We both knew that we had things that we needed to talk about. I could see the questions in Edward's eyes, the ones that he was burning to ask but was either afraid or too wary of my reaction to ask.
After we finished, I changed and gave Edward back his shirt, and though he could have left after I gave it back to him, he lingered around apartment, asking about the little personal touches I had in my apartment. He approved of my large book and CD collection, commenting that he would have to get me a record player and some vinyl soon, but disapproved of my lack of a movie collection. He asked if I played any instruments, and I told him no but I wish I did. Like his lack of athletic skill, I lacked any musical ability.
He was reading the spines of yet another pile books which were squished into my small bookcase when he surprised me with a much harder question than my favorite band.
"Why did you run away yesterday?" He was still looking at the books but I could hear the hurt in his voice, even though he tried to conceal it. Edward was probably a better liar than I was, but he wore his emotions on his sleeve.
"Edward I-" I didn't know how to answer his question. I didn't want to but I did at the same time.
"Bella please,"he said, coming up to me and taking my hands. "Tell me." His face was soft and I could see only care in his eyes, but it was still hard for me to admit to my weakness. To admit to hurting him only because I was afraid. But I was going to answer him, I had to. For him and for me.
"I like you. A lot. Maybe too much. And I was afraid that if I let you in and let myself care about you so much, that I wouldn't survive if I ever lost you." I sniffled, willing myself not cry once again. I was going to be strong.
"But much worse I was afraid of you caring for me. Getting close to me. Because if you did, I would hurt you someday. I wouldn't ever be able to forgive myself if I did that. You are too precious to me to ever do that to you." I said, putting my hand on his heart, using the other pull my hair away from my face. Something I did when I was stressed.
"Why do you think that?" he asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
"Because that's what the people in my family do to the ones they care about the most. They hurt them." My voice was laced with anger and sadness and it shook.
"Bella," he said, placing his hand over the one I had over his heart, and put his fingers under my chin so he could lift it and look at my face. "The only thing that could hurt me would be to lose you. And you have to know I would never hurt you like that. " His eyes were so vibrant and sincere, and I couldn't help from my heart both surging and feeling a lash of pain at the same time.
"That's why I guess I changed my mind after crying for the better the day. After I found out that you were here last night, and everything I felt then, I knew I didn't want to be afraid of us anymore. I didn't want to be afraid of the unknowns and just be happy for once in my life."
He held my face and kissed me softly, bringing his forehead to mine.
"I'm glad you changed your mind."
Edward left soon after that, both of us having to get ready for work later. He wanted to come back and walk me to work, but I told him it would be pointless for him to go all the way back to my place and then turn around and go to work, so I told him we could just meet up in front of the store before our shift started. He kissed me lightly before he left, telling me he'd see me soon, and I watched him walk down my hall to the stairs before closing my slightly unhinged door.
I was already feeling the loss from his absence, but tried to tell myself I would see him in a few hours and that I was being ridiculous.
Despite the fact that I was missing Edward, I couldn't deny how light and airy I felt. I was practically skipping to my shower. I washed slowly, carefully shaving my legs and even using a fancy conditioner that Rose had gotten me last Christmas that I never used, not being into that intense beauty stuff. I took time in blow drying my hair, letting it drape over my shoulders.
However I actually needed to use less make up than usual. My dark circles were still there but less prominent. My eyes were bright and my cheeks flushed with color. I looked alive. I smiled and dabbed some lip gloss on. The girl looking back at me in the mirror looked a little less broken and a little less hopeless. There was hope in her eyes, something that hadn't been there for a long time.
All that extra time I spent in the bathroom getting ready actually made me behind schedule for once, and I had to rush to get changed, not even having enough time to make myself another coffee before I left. I didn't mind rushing though. The quicker I got to there, the quicker I would be with Edward. It felt very high school of me but I really didn't care. Better late than never I guess.
As I came to the corner where I would soon be in view of Books and Things, my heart began to race and my steps came quicker. When I got around it there were too many people to see the store easily so I ran, pushing my way through people, some grumbling when I did so, and finally I saw him. Looking more like a greek god in a Books and Things uniform than he had the right to, and bless him, he was holding two large coffee cups in his hand, a backpack over his shoulders.
Edward had been looking for me too, and when he spotted me a huge smile over took his face. I smiled in response. I wanted to tackle him, but we had agreed it was probably best we kept it cool when we were at work. It made sense but it was not very satisfying.
"Hey," I said, rather anticlimactic for what I was feeling at the moment.
"Hey," Edward said back, handing me my coffee. I sipped it and felt extremely content as I felt the warmth of the coffee spread through me. "You look beautiful," he murmured before sweeping a hand across my cheek, making me feel even more warm and tingly.
"I'm sure I do." I scoffed at his remark. Edward sighed.
"You ready to go in?" He looked worried, and frankly, I was a little bit too, but I knew I had to go in.
"As ready as I'll ever be." I smiled before squeezing his hand lightly and taking a deep breath.
It was going to be fine. Everything would be normal and cool. And even if it wasn't, Edward would be there if I needed it. But I won't need it because everything will be fine.
We walked through the store mostly in silence, keeping apart though I was aching to touch him. I dawdled in the break room, knowing that we would have to separate eventually, and played with the elastic on my wrist as Edward clocked in. He noticed my nervousness.
"Bella, it will be okay," he said softly, kissing my temple. "And if it's not, you know where to find me." He winked and made his way out the door.
I could do this. Phil wasn't here, wouldn't ever be here, and that asshole from last week had been kicked out of the store. There was no need to be afraid. I just needed to get my shit together and be strong.
I walked out onto the floor with my head held high and my shoulders squared, determined to act and be normal. Well, as normal as I was pre-embarrassing emotional breakdown from last week. Despite my bid for strength, my hands still shook the first time I had to help a customer, but soon, I began to get into the groove of things again and it to be around people at work got easier, even if the tremor in my hands still didn't fully stop. It was busy, and I was constantly busy, not even able to go see Edward, him being back in the romance section since I was back.
It was him in the end who came to see me. It was around dinner time and there weren't many customers around, so I was hanging out in the travel section, my old refuge. I was looking at the hundreds of books about a myriad of different places, places that had ruins and ancient cultures, art and history, and languages that I wished I could speak. I had been looking at guide books determined by geographical area, and I had gone through ones about Asia, Eastern Europe and Russia, so I decided to turn my attention to western Europe, picking out a guide for Paris, France. Paris was so mythical to me, and like for many, held a certain romanticism to it. I started planning out a trip that I could never afford, picking out four star hotels and fine restaurants, making lists of what I wanted to see and do if I went there, even if it was a long shot that I could actually ever afford these places.
"I think Paris is a little overrated." I jumped, not hearing Edward come up behind me, again. I turned to face him, and his proximity caught me off guard, the heat radiating between us immense. "Yes! Two for two! I told you I was becoming the ninja master. Maybe now you could tell me that hiding place you have around here." His blue eyes danced with amusement.
"Not a chance, Cullen. That secret dies with me." There was no secret place of course, but I liked playing with him a little bit.
"Hmm," he murmured before putting his arms up on the bookshelves behind me and leaned into me gently, trapping me between his body and the bookcase. It was a very intimate position and very inappropriate for work, but I had a hard time remembering how to breath let alone remembering to care about getting caught.
It's funny, I had been with other guys before, but I had never felt with any of them what I felt with Edward. I had been with guys who had been a great lay, but never did they make my head all a tizzy just from looking at me. But maybe that's what it meant to be in love with someone. I didn't really know.
"Maybe I could persuade you to tell me," he said, his voice low and his face close to mine. I think my mouth came out with gibberish. Edward smiled. "What was that?" He laughed.
"I said, I'm not telling you," I sounded very convincing. "Why is Paris overrated?" I said, changing the subject. Edward leaned off me so we weren't as close, in a more proper position in public. He shrugged.
"I just remember it being really boring. Though I was nine at the time so I really wasn't keen on seeing art galleries and museums. I was more into playing video games in the hotel." I stared at him wide-eyed. I was surprised, and a little jealous. He must have seen it my face, because his face softened and he brought a hand to my face, tracing his fingers over my lips. I melted into a puddle of goo.
"Of course," he said softly, keeping his eyes intent on mine. "If I went now and had far different company than my family, I'm sure I would have a much better time." His voice was entrancing. Smooth and oh so sexy.
Wait. Was he sort of inviting me to go to Paris with him someday? Holy crap. Don't get your hopes up Bella. My brain warned me. I didn't doubt what Edward had said earlier today, but I still had this feeling at the back of my mind that we would crash and burn, no matter how happy we were now. With my life, it seemed inevitable.
We were staring at each other intently, and I thought he was going to kiss me, but just as he was going to lean in, a cough came from behind Edward. We both looked and there behind Edward, looking at us with a knowing eye and an arched eyebrow was Betty. We split apart, and I could feel my blush stinging my cheeks again.
"Edward, I need you to help the boys in the stock room with a new shipment, can you help them out?" Betty was shifted her gaze between the both of us with a narrowed eye.
"Um. Sure," he mumbled and then left me there with her, only giving me an apologetic smile before he turned out of my sight.
"It's nice to see you back, Bella." She smiled lightly, genuinely.
"It's good to be back."
"Are you...alright?" she asked tentatively. Great. Was she going to start to treat me like a breakable object now too?
"I'm fine," I said, a smile plastered on my face to convince her. "Really. What happened last week, it won't happen again." She eyed me warily, but she took it anyway.
"Okay. I just want you to know that we care about you here, and if you need anything..."
"I fine Betty. But thank you. I'll keep that in mind." She nodded and was about to turn but stopped herself half way.
"That Edward Cullen, he's a nice boy, don't you think?"
"He's er, very nice." I stammered, my face getting hot. Betty shook her head and smiled, and I thought I heard a 'good for you' before she turned and left me alone in the travel section.
The rest of the shift seemed to drag by, but finally it was time to go home. I clocked out quickly and went to go meet Edward outside the front doors to the store. Naturally, he was already there waiting for me. I skipped up to him. I wasn't sure what he was doing tonight, but I hoped very much that he would stay over again. After being at work all this time, I wanted him all to myself.
"Hey," he said, tucking a hair behind my ear. "Is it weird that I missed you?" It had only been a five hour shift, and we had seen each other once, but the times he wasn't there I had missed him too.
I shook my head. "Not at all."
"I don't think it bodes well for the days we don't work together then." He chuckled.
"Well I guess then we'll have to spend much more time outside of work then won't we?" I said coyly, grabbing his hand and playing with his fingers. They were so long and as beautiful as the rest of him. Well everything was beautiful about Edward but that was neither here nor there.
"Speaking of which. I was wondering if you would maybe like to stay over again tonight?" I was nervous. I wanted to see Edward of course, and I wanted to feel the comfort and stability that he provided me the night before, but I still feared the possibility of his rebuff.
Still, I knew the answer before the words were even out of his mouth.
"I'd love to."
A/N: Yeah I cockblocked them again. Sorry 'bout that. But did you really think I would let them do it so easily? Also, would you guys be interested in an interview with Edward or Bella? Let me know in a review, and if you guys are interested, send me question suggestions and I'll post it on the blog!
Music Suggestion: Set Yourself on Fire by the band Stars. Specifically What I'm Trying to Say.