Through The Lens One-Shot Contest
Story Title: The Assignment
Disclaimer: I don't own Edward or Bella, and sadly, I still don't own the über expensive digital SLR I've been eying for years. Le sigh.
Bookgeek80 & McGee are my heroes for being awesome betas!
"Bella is not making porn!" Rosalie all but shouted across the table, her eyes narrowing dangerously at her boyfriend. "And if you say that one more time, you're never seeing the pictures, never mind getting any copies!"
"Well, you were naked," Jasper began, but an icy glare from his girlfriend stopped the sentence dead. "Right." His tone had changed drastically to one of exaggerated agreement. "Art, Emmett, it's art. Not porn." He nodded emphatically, grinning at Alice as he hid behind his beer. Alice and Rosalie exchanged meaningful glances across the table.
"And you wonder why I wouldn't let you watch," Rosalie snapped, slapping Emmett upside the head. "Jesus, Emmett, look at what you're doing to Bella!"
Bella Swan glared from behind her fingers, her face burning with humiliation. It had been bad enough having to explain the assignment to her friends when she'd walked out of class red-faced two weeks earlier. It had been even worse asking her best friend to get naked in front of her camera.
Rosalie's support and enviable comfort in her own skin eventually left Bella comfortable enough to focus on aperture and lighting instead of her own comparatively plain body. But still, taking pictures of her friends in the nude was not been what Bella had signed up for when she came to college.
And she definitely hadn't signed up for being mercilessly teased over it at the bar – certainly not when the worst was yet to come. But nonetheless, that was how she had ended up sitting at a high-top table at the local bar, surrounded by her closest friends, gulping down yet another margarita.
"It's fine, Rose," Bella muttered through gritted teeth, removing her hands from her burning cheeks. She glared at Emmett and Jasper, wishing she wasn't about to ask them what she was. She drained her margarita and took a deep breath. "We can get revenge on Emmett. I need a male model, too."
"Wait, what?" Emmett looked puzzled as he turned his gaze from Bella to Rosalie and back again. The girls had all burst into giggles, and though she was bright red, Bella smirked from across the table.
"Better you than me, man," Jasper told him, clapping one hand on his shoulder and grinning. "I'm way too pale for that shit. And didn't you tell me you've already managed to expose yourself to Bella anyway?"
"Let's not relive the towel incident," Bella quickly cut in, shaking her head and gesturing wildly for the story to end right there. Alice raised an eyebrow at Jasper, shaking her head.
"I'm glad you're not the exhibitionist type like these two," Alice told him, leaning closer on her bar stool while motioning to Rosalie and Emmett. She wrapped one arm possessively around Jasper's waist, smirking up at him. "Your pasty white ass is for my eyes only."
"Emmett, you're not going to be allowed to shower at our place any more, if you keep molesting Bella's eyes." Rosalie scowled at her boyfriend, sliding a protective look at her best friend. "Sorry, Bella. I keep telling him that the towel doesn't stay on when he dances around the kitchen like an idiot."
"At least he's entertaining... while the towel stays on!" Bella smiled with satisfaction as Emmett finally looked a bit sheepish. "Seriously, Emmett, when you and Rose move in together I'm going to stop by some mornings just to watch. Whatever radio station plays in your head, it must be run by gay men managing a dance club. It is possible for you to make your breakfast without singing Lady Gaga and having some sort of compulsive fit. Less spasms would also keep the towel in place."
"Dude. Lady Gaga?" Jasper shook his head, leaning closer toward Alice and away from Emmett. "I'm revoking your man card. To earn it back, you need to spend the next week drinking beer from a can and going to strip clubs."
"Emmett is not going to strip club." Rosalie directed her glare at Jasper, but the hand resting lightly on Emmett's arm revealed she was much more amused than angry. Emmett and Rosalie were perfect together; his goofiness softened her, often bringing a smile to her lips when nothing else could, while she was there to tame him when his hare-brained schemes got too far out of hand. Rosalie's expression morphed into one of mischief as she turned back to her boyfriend. "Not without me there, anyway."
"Sweet." Emmett's smile widened, and he snuck a quick kiss from Rosalie. "You're the best woman a man could ask for. Sorry, girls," he said without looking at either Bella or Alice, "but she's one of a kind."
Bella kept the smile firmly on her face, trying to ignore the ache in her chest at their affectionate moment. Most days, she didn't feel like an extra wheel with her friends. Rosalie, Alice, Emmett and Jasper were the best friends she could have asked for, and they rarely made her feel excluded from their world. But every once in a while, being the single girl out with the couples just wasn't that much fun.
"Anyway," Bella began again, tearing her eyes away from Rosalie and Emmett to stare at the ice cubes melting in her glass. She needed another drink; the haze in her mind wasn't quite thick enough to keep the blush from rising in her cheeks again. "Emmett, would you, you know, do what Rose did?"
"Pose naked?" he asked, his expression unreadable.
"Um, yeah," she muttered, gnawing on her bottom lip. "It's for my class, and I have to have both male and female shots, and I don't know who else to ask. Rose thought maybe you would be okay with it, but I completely understand if you don't want to. It's weird, right? I mean, I know it's weird. But..."
"Bella, relax. It'll be fine. You'll take one look at this body and it'll be the easiest assignment you've ever had!" He ducked before Rosalie's swat could land on target. "It'll be fine."
Bella let out a rush of air, trying to ignore the conversation that had just ended, and how red she knew it had left her cheeks. "Right. Who wants to do shots? I'm buying." Four hands shot into the air, and Bella grinned, sliding off her bar stool and carefully making her way towards the bar.
Her friends watched as she walked away on unsteady feet, her Chucks sticking to the bar floor when she walked right into a spill. Bella didn't notice; she was on her third margarita. Rosalie knew she was going to spend a good part of Saturday morning forcing water and aspirin on her roommate, and judging by the wavering path Bella's feet were taking, a good greasy hangover breakfast.
"She's going to kill you," Alice said quietly, her eyes darting between Emmett and Rosalie. "You know this is a big deal for her. Rose, she was bad enough trying to do the assignment with you. Some guy she's never met..."
"Edward's cool," Jasper interjected, offering his girlfriend a reassuring smile. "We grew up together. He'll be good for her. He just moved back to Washington, and he needs to meet someone new too. Four years of pre-med haven't exactly left him a lot of time for dating."
"But wouldn't it have been easier to just invite him out to the bar one night?" Alice sighed, sneaking a look over her shoulder at her friend. "Bella's so shy. She's going to freak out when it isn't Emmett dropping his pants."
"She's going to freak out either way," Rosalie countered, following Alice's gaze. The bartender was obviously trying to flirt with her, but Bella was hiding behind the long curtain of her hair. Rose could see her gnawing on her bottom lip from across the bar. "I'm proud of her for not just dropping the class. You know she wanted to when she heard about this."
"Because you convinced her not to."
Rosalie shrugged. "Alice, c'mon, you know how much Bella loves her camera. The only reason she doesn't have it tonight is because I think she's still freaking out over the photos she took of me. Which," she said slyly, lowering her voice, "are amazing. I mean, yeah, it was a little awkward, but you should see these pictures, Alice! I know Bella's got her career all figured out, but, damn..." She cocked an eyebrow at Emmett before continuing, "I think the pictures are going to make you very happy, if you behave yourself and I let you see them!"
"Maybe I should let Bella take pictures of me after all," Emmett replied, threading his fingers through Rosalie's. "Doesn't seem fair that you get to tease me like this." He made an exaggerated pout, his boyish grin dancing in his blue eyes. His fingers danced up Rosalie's arm, making her laugh and swat him away.
"Trust me, Emmett, I'll make it worth your while if this friend of Jasper's turns out to be what you say he is. Bella needs more than just a good grade on this assignment."
The four friends all turned their gaze toward Bella, watching as she carefully gathered up the shot glasses and started picking her way through the crowd. "What?" she asked as she reached the table, her wide brown eyes darting from one friend to the next.
"Oh, nothing," Jasper said with a grin. "We were just wondering if you were going to play Lady Gaga for Emmett when you're taking his picture."
Bella turned bright red all over again, and without waiting for the rest of her friends, downed her tequila before stumbling back to the bar for another.
A week later found Bella shifting her weight anxiously from foot to foot while she gnawed her bottom lip. She had pushed all of the furniture away from one long wall in her living room, leaving a blank white canvas. Pleased with how Rosalie's pictures had turned out in black and white, Bella intended to duplicate the format with Emmett. The apartment's carpet was a soft cream color, and Bella hoped that with Emmett's still-visible summer tan the contrast would work.
He was late, and that only made Bella more anxious. She had been up for hours, moving furniture, hauling lights from the photography department into her small apartment, cleaning her lens, fussing over everything. Bella tried to ignore that she was soon going to be spending an hour or so with her roommate's boyfriend...her roommate's naked boyfriend.
It's after noon. Would a glass of wine hurt? Just one? I can still focus with only one, right? Bella thought,, glancing toward the kitchen. No, I need all of my focus. Stupid class still affects my GPA. I should have taken a photography class from a different school so it wasn't so much pressure. Stupid GPA.
A knock on the door startled her out of her thoughts, and she frowned, glaring at the door. "Why the hell are you knocking?" she shouted through the door as she crossed the room. "If you think knocking is going to keep me from yelling at you for being so late, you're..." Bella gulped, looking up as she threw open the door. "You're not Emmett."
The tall man outside her door shook his head, extending a hand. "No, I'm Edward. And I am late. I'm really sorry, but Emmett's directions were...confusing." He laughed, and Bella's cheeks began to flame. She was having difficulty taking her gaze from his mouth, the way his lips curved into a crooked smile that reached all the way up to his bright green eyes. "Can I come in?"
"Oh! Yes, come in." Bella opened the door wider, stepping out of the way, feeling stupid for just standing there. She tore her eyes away from him, trying to ignore the way his jeans hugged the curve of his hips, his T-shirt accenting broad shoulders. "But, um, where is Emmett?"
"Oh, well, he thought you'd feel better without him here to watch. I know I do..."
"Um..." Edward gestured to the camera sitting on the coffee table pushed against the wall. His cheeks flushed slightly, and he shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans. He offered her an embarrassed smile, nodding toward her equipment. "Your, uh, assignment."
"My...oh! Oh, you've got to be fucking kidding me!"
His eyebrows pulled together as he watched, and then it hit him. "You...thought Emmett was coming over today, didn't you?" She nodded, her stomach clenching as she realized she was supposed to be photographing the gorgeous man standing before her.
"He asked you to come over here instead?" she finally squeaked out, wondering how quickly she could convince Rosalie to kill Emmett. "Did, uh, something come up?"
"No...he asked me to do this last weekend. Him and Jasper convinced me after I'd had too much to drink...and said I couldn't back out because you needed this to pass your class. Jasper said he considered you his sister, and he didn't want you to be reduced to putting a request on Craig's List." Edward raised an eyebrow at her, nervously shifting his weight about. "Jasper and I have known each other since we were kids. Said he didn't want some stranger making you uncomfortable, that he trusted me to be a gentleman." His voice caught on the last word, and he looked away, the tips of his ears turning red.
"Which was why I asked Emmett." Bella took a deep breath, squeezing her eyes shut as she tried to think of a solution. It had been bad enough to think about Emmett in the context of what would appear sensual or erotic, considering she'd always thought of him in a purely non-sexual context, but Edward was different. Edward was sex on legs, with his messy hair and day-old stubble.
"Look, I'm really sorry that you came all the way over here, but I'll just call Emmett and straighten this all out," Bella finally told him, trying to keep the irritation out of her voice. It wasn't Edward's fault that Emmett was clearly up to something, and yelling at him for the second time in five minutes wasn't going to help anyone.
"He, uh, he isn't going to answer," Edward said quietly as Bella grabbed her phone and started furiously dialing. "He said he couldn't do it this weekend because he and Rosalie were going camping with Alice and Jasper."
"Those fucking assholes!" Bella exploded, her grip tightening on her phone until her knuckles turned white. She knew that Jasper and Alice were going camping that weekend, a last trip before the cold of the fall set in, but Rosalie had never mentioned it to her. She sifted back through her dim memories of the bar, and suddenly the grins and chuckles made all the more sense. They had planned this. All of them.
Turning back to Edward, her cheeks flaming – whether from embarrassment or rage, she wasn't sure – she sighed, resigning herself to what had to be done. "Our friends set us up. I'm really sorry. This isn't fair to you at all, and I'm going to kill them when they get home. You don't have to do this. I don't know if you lost a bet or something, but you don't have to. I'll make Emmett do it when he gets home. In the cold. Really cold," Bella muttered darkly, glaring at her cell phone.
"It's not a big deal. Listen, I'm already here, and you do need to do this for your class, right?"
"I'm not some perv who just likes to photograph guys naked! Yes, I need it for my class."
"And you already hauled all this equipment in here, right? So it'll be a giant pain in the ass to do it another day. Besides, I don't think this will be so bad." He smiled the same sheepish, crooked smile he'd worn on her doorstep. "I mean, I just need to get naked in front of a beautiful girl, right?"
"I...um..." Bella's cheeks were flaming, her stomach knotted with anxiety. I really should have just had that glass of wine, she told herself, trying not to let her mind wander to how badly she wanted to see this man without his clothes on. "Fuck. Okay, fine. You're right. I have to return all this stuff by tonight anyway." She took a deep breath, trying to find the calm, focused place she had gone to while working with Rosalie. "Go stand by that wall. I'm going to take a few pictures to test the light and all that first, okay?"
"Sure." He moved to where she directed him, pulling his hands out of his pockets and looking at her uncertainly. "What do I do? Just stand here?"
"Yeah, for this it doesn't matter as long as you're fairly still," she replied absently, adjusting the height of the lights. She had planned for Emmett, but Edward looked to be an inch or two taller, and the light wasn't hitting him right. Focus on what you're doing, not how green his eyes are, and you'll be fine. Then you'll never see him again. You've never seen him before, so he must just be visiting.
"So you and Jasper grew up together?" Bella asked as she worked, hoping some idle small talk might calm her nerves. Edward's shoulders looked stiff too, and she knew she needed him to relax for the photos to come out the way she wanted. Rosalie had been easy; she had been more relaxed about the entire thing than Bella, but Edward was starting to look uncomfortable as Bella moved things around.
"Um, yeah. Our parents live next door to each other."
"So how long are you visiting?"
"Visiting? Oh, I moved back to Washington a few weeks ago. I went to school in New Hampshire, but Washington is home. I missed my family. And the rain," he added, glancing out the windows on the other side of the room. Rain trickled down the panes; the dark clouds hugging the ground and making it difficult to see far. "New England was nice and all, but there's nothing quite like home."
"Oh." Bella didn't know what else to say – she had spent her entire life in Washington, growing up in the tiny town of Forks. Seattle had been a big change for her; she couldn't imagine uprooting her life to move to the other side of the country. "Jasper's a good guy," she finally said, clinging to the one thing she knew they had in common. "He's been great to Alice."
"He talks about her all the time," Edward agreed, his shoulders finally losing some of their rigidity as Bella went to pick up her camera. He eyed her approaching, his gaze softening as she bit her bottom lip again. She was obviously nervous about him being there, and not Emmett. He understood that. He hadn't been lost trying to find her apartment. In fact, he had been early, but he had spent twenty minutes sitting in the parking lot, trying to convince himself not to chicken out. It certainly hadn't helped matters when she'd opened the door; Jasper had told him that Bella was cute, but he hadn't done her justice. Edward found himself falling into the depths of her warm eyes even though they were flashing with annoyance. He forced his body to relax, hoping it would make it easier on Bella if he could swallow his nerves.
"Alice is great for him. I've never seen him so happy. I've met her a few times. I'm actually surprised we've never met before. You grew up with Alice, right? Oh, shit, should I not be talking?" he blurted out as he watched her fiddle with the settings on her camera.
She laughed quietly, sending a thrill tingling down Edward's spine. She had a beautiful laugh. "No, it's fine if you talk. I'd rather not work in silence, actually, so talking is fine. Or I can put on music?"
"Whatever's easier for you. I'm the one who just stands here, right?"
"Okay. Let me take a few test pictures, and then we can pick something. Sound good?" He nodded, watching as she pulled the camera up and began to snap away. He was surprised when she only took a handful, then gestured toward the iPod dock across the room. "I'm just going to take a quick look at these on my laptop and then we'll start. Pick whatever you want." She started to walk toward the kitchen, where her laptop sat open on a counter. "Oh," she began, turning back around, "do you, uh, want a towel or something? I didn't bother getting anything out for Emmett, 'cause well, he kind of has no shame, but...yeah."
Edward felt the flush creeping back into his cheeks as he suddenly remembered that the real pictures were going to involve him being naked in front of her. He decided he'd very much like the towel to hide behind when she wasn't snapping away and nodded.
Bella led him down the hall, pointing out the bathroom. Inside was a narrow linen closet stuffed with towels. She left him in the bathroom with instructions to get undressed and come out when he was ready. He couldn't help but smile at the nervous laugh that bubbled up from her lips as she shut the door behind her.
"I'm going to fucking kill them," Bella muttered to herself as she retreated to the kitchen, popping the memory card out of her camera and into the slot on her laptop. She drummed her fingers on the counter as she waited for the files to load. Glancing over her shoulder to see if Edward had emerged yet, Bella opened the folder to view her test shots.
He's certainly going to make this easy, she thought to herself as she quickly clicked through the files. Edward was definitely photogenic, and the camera easily picked up his strong features. Bella couldn't help but wonder how deliciously he would photograph without the clothes hiding his broad shoulders and lightly-muscled arms.
Satisfied with the test shots, Bella replaced the memory card in her camera and turned around to find Edward standing in the kitchen. She wasn't sure how long he had been there, but the stiffness was back in his shoulders. The towel was wrapped around his waist, one hand holding it securely in place. He looked as nervous as she felt.
"Music?" she asked, forcing her tone to remain light as she gestured toward the living room.
"Right. Anything you're in the mood for?"
"Well, I threatened Emmett if he tried to make me listen to Lady Gaga anymore, but other than that..." Her comment had the intended effect, and Edward's crooked smile returned. Bella's eyes ran down the plane of his back as he turned away, and she caught herself before she licked her lips. Okay, maybe I won't kill Emmett, she thought to herself, her eyes lowering to Edward's narrow waist as he made his way across the room.
"Classical okay?" Edward called over his shoulder as Bella returned to the living room, wiping her now-sweaty palms on her jeans as she set the camera down.
"Sure," she replied absently, pulling the elastic from her wrist through her hair to create a messy bun atop her head. The smooth opening notes of Bach's cello suites began to fill the room, and Bella couldn't help but smile. He had picked one of her favorite pieces to relax to. Maybe it would help her swallow her nerves over what she was about to do.
"Where do you want me?" he asked, coming to stand beside her. Bella's breath caught in her throat, her mind racing with ideas at the innocent question. In my bed would be a nice start, she thought, biting the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing nervously. She didn't need him thinking she was a psycho right before he got naked in front of her.
"Um, back where you were before, up against the wall," she told him, making a supreme effort to keep her voice level. "So, uh, before we start, I just want you to know no one is going to see these but me and my class. I don't know how much Emmett explained to you, but I won't be taking pictures of your, uh, well, ya know, it's not supposed to be explicit."
"Emmett just said you needed a naked guy. That was all I got. Besides death threats if I made you uncomfortable."
"Oh, don't worry, I can make myself uncomfortable all on my own."
"Try to relax," Edward said quietly, startling her with the gentleness of his tone. "Emmett said you're really good at this. Think less about the naked guy in your living room and more about what a great photographer you are."
Bella flushed, both from the compliment, and from him drawing attention to his soon-to-be nudity. "Emmett showed you those pictures of Rose? I didn't think he'd want anyone to see them!"
Edward shrugged, catching her eye as she picked up her camera and faced him. "They were beautiful. He asked her first, and she said it was fine. The ones he showed me, you can't really see anything. You could probably do this for a living."
"Take pictures of naked people? I don't think so."
He shrugged again. "Why not? The pictures are tasteful, and Emmett loves them. Women would feel more comfortable with a female photographer, and I think it'd be an awesome gift." His crooked grin came back, and Bella felt a spark run through her as his intense gaze held hers. "What man wouldn't want pictures of a beautiful woman?"
"I'm going to be a pharmacist," Bella explained, letting the hand holding the camera drop to her side. "I can't be the same woman who fills their prescriptions and takes pictures of them. It blurs the lines too much."
"Why do you want to be a pharmacist?"
"I want to help people. And I'm good at science."
"You're also good at photography."
"Pharmacy has a reliable income."
"But it's not your passion."
"What did you major in?"
"I'm a doctor. Well, I'm going to be. I'm doing my residency in Seattle, at the Children's Hospital. I want to be a pediatrician."
"See? You picked a career with a steady income and a reliable future, not some artistic passion."
"You're right," he admitted sheepishly, laughing as she shook her head at him. "I like being able to help kids, though. It's trickier than adults, 'cause they usually can't really tell you what's wrong the way an adult can, but they need the help just as much, you know? I start next week."
"I like helping people. And besides, if I make photography my job, it could take the fun out of it. I like that it's my hobby. You must have something that you just enjoy for the sake of doing? That you don't want to turn into a chore?" Bella forced herself to ignore that in addition to being beautiful, and obviously smart, the man enjoyed spending time around children; she refused to let herself think about what a great father he'd make some day.
He nodded, eyeing her thoughtfully. "My music. I wouldn't ever want to have to force creativity out of myself. You're right. I'm sorry, I don't know you enough to tell you what to do with your life. Your photos are beautiful though." And so are you, he added silently, waiting for her eyes to lock on his again. When they did, he felt it again, the humming tension between them that was altogether not unpleasant.
Bella took a deep breath, forcing herself to look back down at the camera. He'd already been in the apartment for close to an hour and they had yet to start. She was getting distracted by the smoothness of his voice as he spoke, and the way the toned muscle moved beneath his skin as he shifted his weight about. "Okay, we need to start. I'm just throwing it out there that I'm super nervous about this, and I'm sorry Emmett conned you into doing it. If you want, we can get good and drunk when we're done and forget all about it. I know that's my plan."
"Yeah, I think a stiff drink might be good." Edward laughed nervously, one hand toying with the edge of the towel. "I don't suppose I can keep this on?"
"That would defeat the point of the assignment." Bella arched an eyebrow at him, trying to keep her tone playful. "Hand it over."
Edward took a deep breath, trying to prepare himself. Women had seen him naked before, but never like this; never where he was exposed, and they were fully clothed. Well, the sooner this is over with, the sooner you can pour a drink. And she did offer to drink with you...
Edward's hand gave the towel a tug, pulling it loose from where he had wrapped it securely around his waist. Without meeting Bella's gaze, he tossed the towel aside, wincing as the air hit him. He stared down at the floor, awkwardly shifting his weight from foot to foot while he waited for her instructions.
"Why don't you sit down, to start?" He could hear the anxiety in her voice, and met her gaze warily. Her eyes were glued to his face, her cheeks bright red. She's just as nervous as I am, he reminded himself, obediently folding his legs under him and sitting on the carpet.
He leaned back against the wall, ignoring how rough the carpet felt on his ass. The position allowed him to draw his knees up, which left him feeling less exposed. He forced the tension from his shoulders, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath.
"Don't open your eyes," Bella told him, and the tenor of her voice had changed. She didn't tell him, but he looked perfect, relaxed against the wall with his eyelashes nearly brushing his cheeks. He could hear the click of the camera, and the soft whisper of her bare feet on the carpet as she moved around him. He focused on the easy melody of the cello in the background, absently letting his arms rest on top of his knees while he forced himself to keep breathing evenly.
Bella was better at her task than she gave herself credit for. Though she had done it to keep herself from staring at Edward, by allowing him to sit down, she had given him the measure of comfort he needed to loosen up. As she moved around him, sometimes making requests, and sometimes delighting in positions he put himself in, it became easier for both of them. By the time she was nearly done, Edward stood in front of her, completely comfortable as she moved his shoulder a little this way, tilted his chin a little that way.
Edward may have gotten more comfortable with his nudity as the session went on, but Bella was having a hard time concentrating. It had been easy not to stare when she was photographing Rosalie; Rosalie didn't have that delicious V to her hips, or such a fantastic curve to her ass. Rosalie didn't have those long fingers that Bella ached to have touch her, or a jaw line covered in stubble that made her want to lick her lips. Rosalie didn't have piercing green eyes and sex hair.
As she snapped picture after picture, Bella was grateful she was a woman, and Edward couldn't tell just how turned on she was getting.
"Okay," she finally announced, setting the camera down and stooping to grab the towel Edward had thrown aside. "I think we're good." She couldn't look him in the eye; she was afraid it would only make her ache more.
Edward quickly wrapped the towel back around his waist, but he didn't hurry off to get dressed. Instead, he leaned back against the wall, watching as Bella turned off the extra lights. Tendrils of hair had fallen out of her messy bun while she worked, and her shirt rode up her waist as she reached to turn the light off.
Standing naked in front of her, he had forced himself to think about anything other than how beautiful she was, less he make the experience even more awkward for both of them by sporting obvious wood. But now, free from her camera's lens, he let himself run his eyes over her long, jean-clad legs and gently curved hips. He wondered if she would slap him if he asked to see her naked, just to even the score.
Nope, pretty sure that would meet Emmett and Jasper's standard for making her uncomfortable. It just might be worth it though, he thought, watching as she started to pack up the lights.
"You can get dressed," she told him, glancing over her shoulder with her cheeks flaming. The blush puzzled him; though she had been red as a tomato when they'd started, her blush had faded once they got going. She had fallen into her zone as she worked, but now she seemed shy again. "I've got to go return these lights."
"Um...you don't have to."
"I know, but I think you promised me a drink when this was all over. It's not like we can bring the lights back after drinking," he explained, hoping she hadn't been joking about that. He didn't want to leave just yet.
"Oh, I was kidding, but, yeah, that does sound nice." Her eyes ran down his chest before she looked away, her cheeks bright again. "But I don't think we can bring the lights back with you in a towel."
Edward nodded, returning to the bathroom to dress. He threw his clothes back on quickly before returning to Bella. With some quick direction from her, they were able to get the photography department's equipment loaded into back of her truck. Within an hour, they found themselves back in Bella's apartment.
"Do you want help moving the furniture back?" Edward asked, wondering how she had managed to move it all by herself that morning.
"Yeah, that'd be great. The couch goes on that wall where you were earlier," she explained, the blush returning to her cheeks. The more time he spent with her, the more he was becoming attached to the way her cheeks flushed at the slightest provocation. He wondered what other parts of her flushed so easily, and was grateful to be clothed again as the thought sent a rush of blood south.
When they were finished, Bella grabbed two beers from her fridge, offering his to him with a grin. Their fingers touched as she passed the beer, and the hum he had felt earlier returned. Bella seemed to have felt it too, nervously licking her lips as she leaned against the counter. "Did you, uh, did you want to see the pictures?"
"Do you want to show them to me?"
"Well, Rose wanted to see hers. And I just thought...well, I mean, they're all of you. I gave her the chance to delete the ones she hated." Bella shrugged, keeping her eyes on the kitchen floor. "I'm going to delete the ones that are too explicit too."
"Some of them are explicit?"
Bella's blush deepened. "Well, I took a lot of photos. I mean, some of the shots, it was kind of...hard to keep from getting other parts of you in the frame. I wasn't trying to, but it was...there."
"I see." Edward resisted the urge to make a joke about how big his dick was; time spent with Emmett had taught him that some comments weren't as funny to the female half of the population as they were to him. "Yeah, I guess we can look them over together."
Bella picked up her laptop and beer, pointing him to the couch. She set the laptop down on the coffee table, pulling it closer so they could both see the screen. She grabbed the memory card from the camera and called up the files.
"Just let me know which ones you want deleted," Bella said softly, maximizing the view and pulling up the first photo. "I didn't delete anything off the camera itself. The professor told us to never delete anything until we get it on a full screen. It's really helped in the past."
"It lets me just focus on taking pictures instead of getting 'the shot' right at that moment," she explained, turning back to the screen. The first photo was opened. Edward stared, unable to believe it was him in the photo for a moment. He remembered the way Bella had nearly whispered to him to keep his eyes shut, and the way her voice had lulled him into relaxation. The man in the photo looked relaxed, his head leaned back against the wall, the shadows along his jaw making it look strong and distinguished. Edward loved the photo, and he usually hated having his picture taken.
They went through the pictures in relative silence. Bella deleted photos every so often, muttering under her breath about exposure and focus. Edward merely watched, sipping on his beer and trying not to let his astonishment show.
"You better get an A on this project," he told Bella without thinking as they came to the end. He hadn't asked her to delete a single photo; any that he hadn't liked, she deleted on her own. "Those are amazing. I've never liked having my picture taken, but those..."
"You made it easy."
"You should let me take your picture," he replied, setting the now-empty beer bottle down on the coffee table. He turned his eyes back to hers, and Bella noticed the change in his gaze. His eyes were smoldering.
"Are you taking a photography elective too?" she asked, knowing the answer. Medical residents didn't take photography electives.
"No. I just want to..." He stopped himself before he told her what he had been thinking; he wanted to see her with her clothes off. The photos she had taken fit the mark; they were sensual, and plenty erotic. He thought of the photos of Rosalie that Emmett had shown him, and tried to picture Bella in the same poses.
"Maybe some other time," Bella replied, her cheeks flushing. "Or maybe after I've had a lot more to drink."
"Is that your hint for me to get us another round?" he asked, the crooked smile coming to his lips. Bella paused for a moment before nodding, her own lips curving into a smile. She wasn't sure what had come over her; she usually wasn't very good at being a flirt. Maybe it had something to do with him being naked for a good portion of the afternoon, but she was completely at ease.
Edward returned with their beers, handing hers over as he settled back into the couch cushions. He started asking her questions about photography, which led into questions about her life in general. The longer they talked, the more they drank. Bella could feel her tongue getting thick in her mouth; the alcohol left her delightfully fuzzy.
"So how many drinks, exactly, are required to get you to hand over that camera?" Edward asked hours later, his words slightly slurred. Empty beer bottles littered the coffee table, Bella's laptop closed and forgotten. He had just returned from getting another round from the fridge, but after handing Bella's over remained standing. When Bella looked up into his eyes, they were burning with undisguised lust. She couldn't remember a man ever looking at her that way before.
"Go ahead. But I'm a little drunk. I don't think it'll make very nice photos."
"You're still beautiful."
Bella laughed, setting down her beer and shaking her head. She didn't know what to say. She didn't want to be one of those girls who argued with a man about her looks. She knew she wasn't ugly, but she didn't consider herself beautiful. "You must be a little drunk, too," she finally said, keeping her tone as light as she could.
"A little. But I thought you were beautiful when you opened the door...even if you did look ready to kill me."
"I wanted to kill Emmett," she answered darkly. She glanced back up at Edward, his intense gaze sending shivers down her spine. "Are you going to sit down?"
"Are you going to let me take your picture?"
"Camera's on the table behind you."
He smirked, setting the beer down and reaching for the camera. He stared at it in puzzlement, titling it in his hands. "Does this thing have an auto setting?"
Bella laughed, getting to her feet and taking the camera from him after setting down her beer. Their fingers brushed against each other, and shivers went racing through her body.
"Bella..." Edward said quietly, his warm hand on her wrist. He gently took the camera from her, putting it back down on the table. "I..." He rubbed his thumb along the inside of her wrist, luxuriating in being able to touch her. He wanted to kiss her, and he wanted it badly, but he wasn't sure – until her eyes met his. They were bright with lust, and that was enough for him.
Still holding onto her wrist with one hand, he brought his other to her waist, pulling her closer as he bent his head. He moved slowly enough to give her the chance to pull away if she wanted to, but when she didn't, he pressed his lips to hers.
The kiss ignited the simmering burn Bella had been feeling all afternoon. She put everything she had into the kiss, running her tongue along his bottom lip until his mouth opened to her. Her hands roamed over his body, over the narrow waist and broad shoulders she had spent so much time staring at, through the hair she longed to touch. Her hands slid beneath his T-shirt, and his skin felt as soft as it looked.
Edward was lost in the sensation of her hands on his body. With her warm touch against his skin, he couldn't suppress the low groan that escaped his lips. When her hands began working his shirt up his chest, he didn't bother trying to hide the moan.
"Trying to get me naked for a second time?" he asked playfully as his shirt dropped to the floor.
"Maybe," she answered breathlessly. For a fleeting moment, she wondered if she should be moving so quickly, but then again, she had already seen him naked. Judging by what she could feel pressed to her stomach, he wasn't averse to taking his clothes off all over again either.
"You're going to have to join me this time," he replied, tugging on her T-shirt. "It's only fair." She nodded, stepping back long enough to let him pull the shirt over her head. Once her shirt had gone to join his, she stepped back into his arms, loving the warmth of his skin pressed to hers. The muscular chest she admired was soft under her touch, and her nipples ached beneath her bra. It had been a while since Bella had wanted a man, but she wanted Edward. It felt like their afternoon photo session had been one long session of foreplay, and she didn't care that they had just met. She wanted him.
"So am I taking my own clothes off? Or are you going to do it for me?" Edward's blood heated at the words, his fingers darting up her back to the hook of her bra. She let the straps fall down her arms, quickly sending the bra to the floor.
Edward ran the tip of his finger from her collarbones down between her breasts. "I want a photo of you, just like this." He practically growled the words out, his fingers pausing at the button to her jeans. One-handed, he popped it open, pulling the zipper down as he kissed her once again. She moaned as his knuckles brushed against her panties, squirming in his arms.
Delighting in the reaction he provoked, Edward pushed aside the jeans, touching her through the thin fabric of her underwear. "I want another of you like this," he murmured, pushing the jeans over her hips with his free hand while he continued to stroke her lightly. He was growing painfully hard, but the moans his light touches elicited kept him focused.
"No pictures today," Bella muttered, pressing her hips forward to the pressure of his touch. Her lips moved savagely against his, her teeth catching his bottom lip. "I don't want you to stop."
"But you took my picture for hours," he teased. He had no intention of stopping to pick up the camera, but Bella didn't need to know that. He liked the way she encouraged him to keep touching her, to keep kissing her.
Bella's hand was suddenly on his dick, and he knew he wasn't going to be teasing her about photos anymore. She squeezed lightly, eliciting a growl from deep in his chest. She rubbed him through his jeans, panting from his touch on her. He knew if he didn't find a way to make her stop, he was going to come in his pants.
"Which room is yours?" he asked breathlessly, trying to distract her from her skillful stroking. He pulled his hands away, only to push aside the dampened underwear and slide a finger along her heated flesh. She gasped at his touch, breaking her focus on him.
"Across from the bathroom." She was panting, and it made his heart race to hear the lust in her voice. Trying not to trip over his own feet, he began walking backwards, pulling her along with him.
Once in her bedroom, he gently pushed her down on the bed, crawling up the length of her body as her head settled onto the pillows. Her fingers reached for his jeans, quickly unbuttoning them and pushing them down his hips. With that accomplished, he kicked them the rest of the way off, flipping Bella over so she straddled him.
"You got to look at me all afternoon," he told her, one hand on her hip to steady her, the other tracing a ring around her hardened nipple. In the dim light, he could still make out the curve of her breasts, the slope of her shoulder as he ran his hand across her chest. "It's only fair I get to look at you."
"Look later. Kiss me now," she replied, leaning forward to press her mouth to his. She ground herself down onto him, the thin layers of fabric separating them doing little to hide how hard he was, or how wet she was. Maybe it was the beer, maybe it was because she had already seen him naked, but Bella wasn't holding back.
Edward complied willingly, tangling one hand in her hair as she leaned down to kiss him. He could feel the warmth of her through his boxers, and he wanted to be inside her. He wanted to make her moan while she rode him, and watch her breasts bounce as she moved. He wanted to take her nipples into his mouth while he buried himself inside her, and torture her slowly for the amount of effort it had taken him to not be aroused during their photography session.
Unable to stand it any longer, Edward tugged at her panties, letting her off his lap just long enough to get them off of her. She didn't need any encouragement to pull his boxers off, pushing them only to his knees before straddling him again. He kicked them the rest of the way off as she ground her hips against his, coating him in her wetness as she slid along his length, teasingly close to allowing him to enter her before moving back again.
Edward could barely contain himself as she pressed herself to him, his cock twitching as she moved. He pulled himself up, trying to still her movements with one hand on her hip as he ran his tongue across her tightened nipple. She gasped, and he smiled to himself, lightly grazing her flesh with his teeth, which only made her moan louder.
She shifted atop him, positioning herself so that a simple thrust of his hips would put him inside of her. He tore his mouth away from her, pulling her lips down to his as he pushed into her. He was so turned on that he had to fight for control, taking deep breaths as she began to ride him.
They continued to kiss as their pace quickened, tongues tracing lips and teeth biting lightly. Bella pulled away to catch her breath, which was coming out in pants. She seemed to be close, and Edward took advantage of the space between them to run a hand down her body. Leaning back to admire her, he guided his fingers to her clit, rubbing and pressing until he felt her stomach muscles tense beneath his other hand. Only then did he let go of his precarious control, holding on to her tightly as his climax tore through him.
Edward fell back into the pillows, pulling Bella with him and rolling onto his side. They were both sweating, trying desperately to catch their breaths as they came down from their high.
"I take it back," Bella muttered, leaning her cheek on his shoulder as she tried to breathe normally again.
"Take what back?" Edward asked, brushing her sweaty hair out of her eyes. He hoped she wasn't talking about their afternoon together; he wanted a repeat.
"About killing our friends. They set us up, you know."
"I had realized, yes."
"I'm sort of glad they did."
"Me too." Edward punctuated his thought with a slow, sensual kiss. He had no intention of moving any time soon.
"Let's not tell them that for a while, as punishment for sneaking around on us."
"One condition." Bella raised an eyebrow at Edward, wondering what on earth his condition would be. "You let me take pictures of you," he paused, running his fingertips down the curve of her breast, "just like this."
"I'll go get the camera."
"Later." Edward grinned, dropping his hand to her waist and squeezing. "I have no intention of letting you out of this bed just yet."
"Later, then," Bella agreed before pressing her lips to his.