A/N: This story was written for 'Hello there- I didn't see u' as a reward for the 2,000th review on 'Unexplained Connection'. I was given a lovely concept and I've just run crazy with it from there. Originally it was going to be a one chapter piece but it has unfolded in my brain into something more substantial so if readers are interested, I will continue.
It's set in Eclipse, after all the newborn war dramatics is over. I'll be taking various liberties with plot and themes but I'm going to try and keep most other characters and settings canon. It's Bella's POV [for now at least] and will be written with an M rating just to err on the side of caution.
Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight and italic references belong to D.H. Lawrence 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'.
Bella was sat contentedly nibbling on her pastry as Edward tried again to explain the finer merits of the different programmes of study at Dartmouth, she nodded deliberately at appropriate points in the conversation, all the while focussing on the way his beautiful eyelashes fluttered each time he looked between the different papers. His eyes met hers abruptly and her signature smile broke across his face.
"Are you even listening to me, my darling Bella?" he joked.
Bella sighed then shook her head, "Actually I think I'm drowning in you, I'm seriously considering trying to swim in your gorgeous eyes".
Edward passed a critical look "You want to swim in my eyeballs? Even for you that's a little bit…odd".
Bella swatted him lightly with her hand. "Can't you just pick something for me; I mean it's not as if I'm actually going to be doing it".
Edward let out a soft sigh and Bella prayed they weren't going to have this argument again, especially out in public where she had to keep reminding herself to talk in code. The hum of Edward's cell phone provided a welcome distraction.
"Alice?" Edward's tone was tense and Bella found herself straightening up, every time Alice's eyes glazed over recently she had found her heart racing at the thought that the Volturi might be on their way again.
"And you couldn't have seen this in the morning? Doesn't anyone watch the weather channel anymore?" Bella felt herself twitch at his tone, she really didn't like the way that they sometimes sniped at each other, although both assured her that they never meant anything by it.
Edward reached into his pocket and put his car keys on the table. "Love, would you meet me back at the house in a bit, Alice forgot to mention that the rain would be interspersed with extremely sunny spells".
He was frowning and Bella quickly jumped up, "I'll just come with you now", she felt eager to erase his irritable mood.
"You've barely even started your food", he slid a cool finger down the side of her face brushing back her hair "You're not eating enough at the moment; people will start to think I can't take care of you". He pressed his cool lips to her forehead and slipped out the back of the coffee shop.
Bella sat back down with a 'hmpf' and poked at her pastry as if it caused her offence. When was Edward going to realise that she didn't need taking care of? All this stupidness about school and weddings and other nonsense was spoiling her happy mood. She bit at the pastry fiercely.
A loud crash near the counter brought her attention back to the present. She looked up and saw that someone had tried to balance a box on the counter while they paid and instead everything had come tumbling down. The box had contained lots of books and several were now scattered near her table. She pulled herself up out of her woe and began to gather them up, knowing far too well what it felt like to make a clumsy mess. After gathering up a handful she approached the counter and was surprised to find the usually calm and collected Emily arguing with the member of staff.
"Look I know it's not your fault it fell, but I haven't got enough change for another one, can't you just this once give me a break?" Emily's voice was on the verge of tears and Bella quickly grabbed her by the arms and ushered her over to her table, digging in her pocket for some money.
"What ever she was having, the largest one you've got, with chocolate and marshmallows and cream and anything and a chocolate brownie", she whispered to the staff. Bella could recognise a PMS melt-down when she saw it. She grabbed the box and put it down next to the seat and hurried back and forth collecting up all the scattered books.
In a few short moments everything was back under control, the books were back in the box, Emily had stopped crying and began to fish the marshmallows out with a spoon while attempting to apologise.
Bella leaned back in the chair and smiled, for once it was nice not to feel like a complete alien. The time of the month issues had become quite a drama around the Cullen house and it made her feel like such a pariah that she had started staying away now whenever Alice stood up and announced that it was going to be 'That time'.
Emily sat back and wiped some brownie crumbs with a napkin. "Oh Bella you are a life-saver, I honestly feel like I've lost the plot today. All I wanted to do this morning was have a good tidy up. I found lots of my old books and thought I could pass them on to someone. Then I found a dress my mom had sent so I tried it on. Do you ever have those days when you are just really not sure about an outfit?" Emily paused.
Bella tried to think, recently Alice had decided all of her outfits and she was not sure about them ninety per cent of the time, she decided to just nod and smile.
Emily gesticulated wildly "See it's not just me! So I decided to ask him what he thought. Big mistake!" Emily savagely stabbed the brownie with a fork. "Oh no darling, you look gorgeous, suits you perfectly, I've never seen anyone look so beautiful" she used a mocking deep tone, which was Bella thought, an amusingly accurate portrayal of Sam.
Bella grinned "But he can't lie to you, so you must have looked great". Emily's face darkened and Bella was shocked.
"That's what I thought Bella, all this time I've trusted every single word that came out of his mouth, but do you know what it isn't true, they can lie!" Emily paused for a minute to take a large slurp of her hot chocolate as Bella struggled to comprehend what she was saying.
"So off I go to this 'bring and take' place they have, feeling all lovely and content, then I get there and these old women start like sniggering at me. Now, it happens from time to time so I normally just take it in my stride but today they seemed really…spiteful. So I turned to one of them and asked her what her problem was. As bold as day she asks whether Sam bought me the dress. Now by this time I'm almost ready to throw the books at her, then the other one comes out with an old copy of the community newsletter and spreads it out on the table. Do you know what I saw?"
Bella was so fascinated she had to remind herself to swallow the mouthful of pastry she had been chewing, it seemed so odd that an imprint could be this angry, Emily and Kim had always seemed so serene, even Rachel was content and little Claire was just as cute as a button anyway. She gestured for Emily to continue.
"It was the photo from when they announced their engagement". Emily slumped back in the chair and Bella clapped her hand over her mouth "It wasn't, tell me it wasn't the same dress" she spluttered. Emily's fierce nod confirmed it. "So what did you do?"
Emily stabbed another piece of brownie. "Well I threw the books back in the truck and went home and tore that thing off me. Then I asked him what the hell he thought he was playing at. I specifically asked him if he knew it was the same dress, and do you know he stood there like he was thinking about it. I asked him again and he had the nerve to say that the 'imprint'…" she made quote signs in the air "was thinking about the right answer to my question".
Bella's brow creased in confusion "what the hell?" Emily grimaced "Exactly, so now I find out they are actually able to say whatever the hell they want to, as long as it is 'what we need them to say', sometimes I just feel like this is just some big giant joke that is being played on me. So then I changed my clothes and walked out in disgust. I thought I'd bring the books to the Goodwill here, but even they are closed. It's like the whole world is against me today". She sighed, then smiled a little "Except you of course Bella, you're the sunshine to my rainy day, and this brownie is really really good, thank you again".
"Can I take a look through the books; I'm always up for a good read". Bella tried to smile, but her mind was still reeling from what Emily had said. "Oh please you'll be doing me a favour". Emily smiled. "Really Bella, thank you so much for just listening, it's really nice to be able to sound off to someone without them trying to fix it".
Bella nodded again "Anytime you need a moan, feel free, I've always got plenty of chocolate stashed at Charlie's". Emily gave her a hug and left with a wave and a small smile. Bella took a mouthful of her now cold coffee and remembered all the times things had been done or said 'for her own good' before smiling, well at least it's not just a vampire thing she reassured herself.
She picked up the box of books and loaded them into the back seat. As she idly thumbed through them she noticed several classics that she hadn't read in a while. One book caught her eye. It had been carefully covered in a cheerful girly wrapping paper, as if the cover had become worn out. She slipped it out of the pile and flipped it open. It fell open with its well worn spine and Bella's eyes flicked over the words as a blush crossed her face.
'he never quite slipped from her, and she felt the soft bud of him within her stirring, and strange rhythms flushing up into her with a strange rhythmic growing motion, swelling and swelling till it filled all her cleaving consciousness, and then began again the unspeakable motion that was not really motion, but pure deepening whirlpools of sensation swirling deeper and deeper through all her tissue and consciousness, till she was one perfect concentric fluid of feeling, and she lay there crying in unconscious inarticulate cries'
Bella breathed heavily as she flicked back to the title page, knowing immediately what she would find there – D.H. Lawrence, the infamous book that had caused so much outcry so many years ago. She had been tempted many times over the years to read it, but it had almost seemed to improper to do so. Bella hesitated for a minute, then slipped the worn little book into her bag before climbing into the driver's seat.
She pulled up at home and it was only when she saw her truck already parked there that she was reminded that she was supposed to go back to the Cullen's. At that moment Charlie's head popped round the door and he gave her a cheery wave so she picked up her bag and headed in to greet him. She made Charlie some sandwiches and curled up on the sofa, listening as the rain battered against the window panes again. Charlie was enjoying a fishing programme and so Bella fished around in her bag until her hand rested on the little covered book.
Bella was so engrossed in story of Connie's experiences that she barely registered the doorbell ringing and Charlie moving across to answer it until he addressed her directly "Err Bella, Edward is here and he's very wet". Bella shut the book quickly, her face colouring as she took in Edward's soaked form "Oh God, I'm so sorry, I totally forgot to…" she turned her gaze from the very appealing sight of Edward's wet clothes clinging to his body to her father's confused face "pick you up".
Charlie rolled his eyes at her "Ok, well I let you both get sorted out, I've got some stuff to do at the station". As the door closed behind him Bella's attention was once again consumed by the beautiful man in front of her. The beautiful man in a soaked cream lined shirt that clung to every muscle and sinew of his arms and chest.
"Edward" she breathed "you didn't need to come in the rain, here let me help you". Bella hands touched the buttons of the shirt and she began the heady quest of trying to relieve him of the sodden clothing.
"Alice was worried, you disappeared for a while, she said I should come" he replied in a controlled voice, clipped even, as if he was trying not to use to much breath. Bella finished with the buttons, her hands trembling as her fingertips grazed his cool skin.
"I had coffee with Emily" She shrugged as she inhaled the sweet scent of him, moving closer as she ghosted her hands across his shoulders, sliding the shirt from him. She inhaled again, the desperate warmth building inside her, they were alone. Edward's bare skin called to her, it demanded her attention and she raised her lips to his as she reached for his belt buckle.
Edward was motionless, one of her hands rested on his firm stomach as Bella began to image what it must feel like, what a beautiful thing it would be to feel Edward's whirpool of sensations. She boldly traced her fingers downwards, wanting to know, wanting to know him in his very perfection. Her fingertips felt like they came alight as they suddenly made contact with the firmness that was hidden under the wet pants.
She gasped in delight and then again in shock and pain as her wrist was gripped firmly and she was pushed backwards, stumbling and falling to the floor. Her eyes whipped to Edward's and she flinched at the anger she saw clearly written there.
"What are you doing?" he hissed at her, and in that moment shame and self-loathing flooded her mind. She had just wanted to know him, to truly know him, to love him with her whole self.
Tears prickled at her eyes and she pulled herself up off the floor holding her wrist. Edward's eyes narrowed in on her wrist and softened "Are you alright Bella, my darling I'm sorry, you caught me off guard. I thought we'd discussed this, you can't go doing things like that. It's much too dangerous".
Bella nodded sadly "I'm sorry" she whispered. "I'm fine, its nothing." Edward nodded his head, appearing unsettled. She stood up straighter and smoothed her clothes trying hard not to look at him as he struggled back into the wet shirt. "You should go, get dried and changed, that sort of thing" she said flatly. He nodded reluctantly "I'll come back later on, as usual?" the questioning tone in his voice nearly brought her to tears again.
"Of course" she gave him a weak smile and he turned towards the door, picking up the car keys from the side. "Oh, and Edward, about earlier…" he looked at her in confusion and she smiled more brightly "English literature…I'd like to study early twentieth century English literature". Edward's posture relaxed significantly "a very good choice Bella, very appropriate for a lady". He smiled and nodded before heading out of the door and Bella stood still until she heard the car pull away.
She curled back up on the sofa and rubbed her face before picking up the little book again and immersed herself back into Connie's 'growing restlessness'.