Author's Notes:

Disclaimer: All the Twilight stuff belongs to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. I'm just piddling in her pool.

This is it, folks! Chapter five of this...uh...one-shot. I know - just not right.

Again, thanks to DK for the beta reading, and to Mariamaral & StAngelS for coming up with the plot! :)


Chapter Three – Resolutions (part 2)

"There was this guy who was fighting with his wife, and he actually attacked her with his left hand while his right hand was trying to defend her from himself."

Edward took my hand and helped me out of the back of the cab. Once we were on the sidewalk, and I had paid the driver, Edward laced his fingers through mine as we made our way to my apartment.

"So that kind of shit certainly happens," Edward continued. He swung our arms between us, biting down on his lower lips and smiling down at me as we walked. He'd been telling me some of the most bizarre stories about people who had undergone the same surgery as he had. "There was a guy where they put headphones on him, and asked him what he wanted to do for a living in his right ear, and his left hand wrote down that he wanted to be a race car driver. When they did the same into his left ear, he wrote that he wanted to be a draftsman with his right hand. Oh – and if you show just one of my eyes a picture of something and ask me to draw it, I'll always draw it better with my left hand, even though I'm right handed. How fucked up is that? It's because your right brain is better at drawing, I guess."

"It's actually really, really fascinating," I said truthfully. We entered the elevator and I pushed the button for my floor. "But kind of scary in a way as well, you know?"

"Yeah, I know," Edward said with a nod. "Like I mentioned before when I kept passing the donuts sign – sometimes it's kind of funny, but sometimes it's just freaky…like earlier."

"Do you think…um…both of you want to talk to me now?"

Edward laughed.

"There's still only one of me, goofball," he chided. "It's just that when I can't make up my mind, I don't always realize I can't make up my mind. You should see it when Rose is bitching at me to eat healthier, and I start making a salad with Hershey syrup for dressing!"

"You're kidding!" I gasped. The elevator beeped at us as we reached the right floor. We stepped out together, and I pulled my hand out of his to dig through my purse for the keys.

"Of course I am," he smirked. "But I have had one hand grab orange juice and the other one grab a can of Coke at the same time. I'll sit down at the table and look down, realizing I have both."

"That has to be a little…odd."

"Yes and no," Edward said. He held open the door for me after I unlocked it, and we both went inside. "Really, everyone does it, but most people do it in their heads first, and then act. I act first, and how I act tells me I'm indecisive. Usually, no one except me notices it happens at all, but times like today make it kind of obvious."

Edward looked around my apartment, taking in the neutral décor and checking out my stereo system. I hung my purse on its hook and took his backpack from him, laying it down on the floor next to the door.

"Do you want something to drink?" I asked.

"Orange juice and Coke, please," Edward joked with a wink. "Nah, really – I'm fine."

"Well, I'm going to get some wine, if that's okay with you."

"Of course."

I stepped into the kitchen and pulled out a wine glass and the half bottle of Merlot I had started the day before. After pouring a glass, I went back into the living room, where Edward was pulling out DVDs from their display case one at a time, looking at the covers of each one.

"You like the romantic comedies, huh?" he said.

"I guess so," I replied. "They're a nice distraction from school work, anyway."

"Do you have a lot of school work to get done tonight?" Edward asked. He looked out towards the doorway and ran one of his hands through his hair, tossing it all over the place. "I don't want to…be in the way."

I looked up at him, and Edward looked down at his feet for a moment with his brow furrowed.

"You aren't in the way," I said quietly. He glanced back up and blushed.

"I don't know what to say now," he admitted. "I'm not very good at…well…making up, I guess? That's what this is, right?"

"I want it to be."

"So do I."

I placed my wine glass on the coffee table and took a few steps closer to him. Reaching out, I took both of his hands in mine. He looked at them for a moment before looking back into my eyes. His beautiful half smile appeared, and his blush deepened as he pulled me close and kissed me softly. I returned the favor, and then raised my hands up and around his neck, twisting into his hair and holding him closer. I felt his tongue against my mouth, and opened to him.

Edward groaned and wrapped his arms around my waist, gripping me tightly.

"I didn't think we'd ever do this again," he said, moving away from my lips and kissing up my jaw, to my ear. "I never thought I'd touch you like this again…it hurt so much just thinking about it…"

"Edward…I'm so sorry. I never meant to hurt you."

Pulling back, he opened his eyes and looked at me, ran his tongue over his lip rings and sighed.

"I know you didn't mean to," he said softly. "I guess there have always been people I knew who really care about that kind of stuff, but I just never have. I didn't know what I should do. I like you so much…"

"I like you, too." I placed my palm against his cheek. "I'm not going to pretend that it's going to be easy for me to just…forget all that stuff. Who you are is what's important, I know that, but I've always been taught that you show who you are by your appearance. People in my life…they aren't going to just accept you, and in my world, that reflects on me and my father."

Edward narrowed his eyes, contemplating.

"I guess I never thought of it that way," he said. "My parents never made a big deal out of clothes or whatever. I always had nice stuff, but I didn't want to stand out when it came to the people I cared about, so when they were gone, I always went shopping with Alice, to the places she could afford. I don't want the others to know I have money, because…well…because they don't, and they'd never accept anything from me if I made it obvious."

"It sounds like some of the same kinds of things," I pointed out. "It's just the opposite end of the spectrum."

"Maybe." Edward shrugged. "But when I told them about you, and where you were going to work and shit, they all figured out you were pretty well off, and none of them cared. Well…as long as you…um…didn't do anything that would…shit. I shouldn't bring that up now."

"As long as I didn't hurt you."

"Yeah."

"What can I do to take it back?"

"You can't," Edward said stoically. "What's done is done, you can't ever take back something you said or did in the past. You just have to go forward. Just…don't do that again…please."

"I won't," I promised. "I'm sorry…I really am."

"I know." Edward smiled. "And I think I understand that it's not going to be easy for you or me either, for that matter. But as long as we stick together, we should be okay, right?"

"Yes, I think we will."

"Are we all made up now?" he asked. I couldn't help but laugh.

"I think so – what do you think?"

"I think there's one more thing to do to make it official." He raised his eyebrows and slid his hand a little lower, past the small of my back and gripped my backside. He pulled me in close to him, and I could feel his desire pressed up against me.

"I think you might be right," I heard myself say.

He kissed the underside of my jaw, still holding my hips up against his thighs, so I could feel how hard he was as he pressed into my stomach. I reached down and ran my hand over the side of his length, through the denim. He pushed harder against me, and his lips found mine, eagerly sucking and licking. I placed both hands on his hips and brought him even nearer.

With my fingers at the top edge of his jeans, I worked my way to the skin at his sides, and then lifted my hands – taking his shirt with me. Edward obligingly raised his arms so I could take it off all together, revealing the dragon on his shoulder and the loving flowers on his chest, where my hands had to touch and examine. While I explored the planes of his chest with my fingers, Edward created a trail of small kisses from my neck to my upper arm and then back again, before doing the same on the other side. I dropped one of my hands again, this time snaking between my stomach and his erection, palming him.

All of a sudden, my back was up against the wall next to the couch, and my legs were wrapped tightly around Edward's torso. His mouth covered mine, kissing me frantically – his need at that time as deep as my own.

"Where's your bedroom?" Edward's voice rang through my ears, and for a minute, I didn't have the slightest idea where my room was. "'Cause if we don't get there soon, I'm going to take you right here against the wall."

"Down the hall, on the left," I breathed when I came to my senses again. He shifted his grip on my backside and carried me through the apartment, banging open my bedroom door and going straight to the bed. I don't know if he tripped right as he got there, or if he just threw us both down, but we ended up in a heap on top of the comforter.

His hands were immediately in my hair, and his mouth covered mine. I ran my fingers up his arms, over his biceps, across his shoulders and into his hair. I felt the silver hoops laced through his earlobe, and the pad of my thumb caressed them slowly.

"Fuck, I'm going to bust right out of my jeans," Edward panted.

"Then get them off!" I yelled, then realized I was yelling and felt heat rise to my face. Edward chuckled low, and then got up on his knees between my legs, looking into my eyes as he slowly unbuttoned his jeans. I whimpered, and my heart started pounding as that half smile crept over his face just as he finished unfastening the last button and slowly pushed his jeans down over his hips.

He was going commando.

"My God, Edward, you are trying to kill me," I mumbled as the fabric slowly revealed his beautiful, thick, hard cock. Holy shit, I was a fucking mess when it came to him. I felt my tongue run over my lips, and glanced up at Edward. The corners of his mouth twitched, and he swallowed hard. "I want you."

I lifted my hips to help him remove my skirt and panties, and then twisted to the side to yank my shirt up over my head and toss it off the bed.

"I love these," Edward remarked as he flicked the hook between my breasts, which caused my bra to fall to my shoulders. I shrugged it off. "Definitely easier than the ones with the hook in the back."

Edward glanced off to the side, blushing and shaking his head at himself. He looked back to me and reached out for my hand, which he used to pull me into a sitting position in front of him. He placed both of his hands on my shoulders and then slowly trailed the tips of his fingers over the outsides of my arms, then over to my hips and back up again around the front, barely brushing over my breasts and nipples on their way back up to my shoulders, to my neck, to my jaw.

He leaned in and ran his lips over mine, and I reached out with my tongue to taste him, and then sucked the silver loops through his lip into my mouth, making him groan. I ran my hand across his stomach and then lower, wrapping around his shaft and stroking it.

"That feels so good," he mumbled with his lips still in my mouth. I bit down gently and felt his hands tighten against my flesh. "Fuck, I want you so bad."

"Take me," I offered simply, because there wasn't anything I wanted more at that moment. Edward rose up on his knees a bit, and guided me backwards until I was lying on the bed again. He pulled back a little.

"Do you…um…have any condoms?"

"Yes," I said. "In the top drawer of the dresser."

He looked at me incredulously.

"Did you just buy them today, knowing I was going to come over?" Edward started laughing so hard he had to hold his stomach. I just turned bright red, pushed him backwards so he fell against the mattress, and climbed on top of him. I smacked his chest and yelled at him to shut up, but he didn't listen. Instead, he wrapped his long arms around me, and I was suddenly on my back again, with Edward's smiling face above me.

"You are obnoxious!" I said to him.

"Moi?" Edward placed his hand in the middle of his bare chest, feigning innocence. "You started it."

"What did I do?"

"Make me feel like a complete letch for having condoms in the first place," he said. "And now I find out you have a whole pile of them in your underwear drawer!"

"How do you know that's my underwear drawer?"

"All women keep their underwear in their top drawer," Edward replied with a wink. He jumped off me and yanked open the top dresser drawer, which was, in fact, full of my underwear. I saw him glance around at the drawer's contents before turning back and winking at me. "I knew it!"

"Shut up!" I laughed.

"At least it isn't an economy box of five-hundred or anything," Edward smirked.

"You did not just say that!" I grabbed one of the pillows and tossed it at him. It went wide, and would likely have broken my table lamp if Edward hadn't caught it.

"Good to remember – Bella's aim sucks," Edward tapped his left temple.

"You better stop that, or I'm going to find some school work to do!" I threatened.

"I don't think you really want to do that." Edward turned and fixed his intense stare at me, then slowly raised his hand, holding a single square package between his fingers. He raised the corner to his mouth, then bit down, tearing the top edge with his teeth. Using two fingers, he pulled the condom from its packaging and held it up for me to see.

All the comedic feelings disappeared as I watched him lower his hands until they reached the base of his cock. He wrapped his long fingers around himself, slowly stroking up and down, his eyes narrowing slightly. I could have sworn I heard him moan a little. His other hand touched the tip of cock with the condom, and then both hands worked together to slowly unroll it up his shaft. As soon as it was properly in place, Edward leapt from the floor to the bed, covering me instantly with his body, his hands, his mouth.

And just like that, we went from playful and silly to intense and all-consuming. His hands covered my body, and his hot breath on my shoulder mimicked my own panting. His mouth found the skin on my neck, and the cool metal made me shiver when it touched me. I brought my hand around from his back and let my fingers trace over one of his nipple rings, flicking it with my thumb along the way.

"I want to…need to be inside you," Edward whispered into my ear. "I need you…so much."

"Please…" I echoed his sentiments. "Don't wait…please…"

Just like the first time, he guided himself to my body and entered me so, so slowly, gently and tenderly it was almost enough to make my cry. Once he was completely encompassed, he dropped his forehead to my chest and breathed against my skin, trying to calm himself.

"Shit, Bella…you feel so good...so right…"

I tilted my hips, pushing up against him and driving him the smallest fraction deeper. He gasped and reached down to grasp my hip with one hand, while the other placed to the side of my head for balance. I looked up into his eyes as he started to move inside of me, rocking smoothly up against my clit and making tiny little moans come out of my mouth with each of his lengthy, thorough thrusts. After a very short time, I felt the tension building within me, and I tightened my hold on his shoulders as he moved only slightly faster, swiveling his hips as he reached my depths.

"You like that, baby?"

"Oh…God…Edward! Ughh!" I screamed out incoherently with my eyes squeezed shut. I pushed my hips up to meet his and pulled him deeper inside. With my legs wrapped around his waist, the sensations rocketed through my body. My eyes slowly opened back to his.

"So beautiful," Edward said, his eyes still locked on mine. "I could do this to you for hours, just to watch your face when you come."

I'm sure I blushed, but was distracted by the movement between us, and started watching him move back and forth, in and out of me as my muscles tightened in my legs and Edward increased his speed. Slipping my hands from his back to his chest, I ran my thumbs over both of his nipples right before catching the rings between two fingers and pulling gently on them.

Edward gasped, bucked into me and – quite literally – screamed.

"Oh fuck! Fuck! Yeah! Oh God, Bella! Bella!" His hips slammed into me, his hand wrapping around my backside and pulling me up against his as he thrust harder. I felt his entire body shudder right before he collapsed on top of me.

"Holy Mary, Mother of God," he mumbled. "I'm not Catholic, but I feel like I ought to go confess to something!"

I bit down on my lip, trying to stop the smile from breaking out.

"Christ, that was fucking incredible!"

"You're incredible," I said, sliding my feet over his rear end, and then down the backs of his thighs.

Edward raised his head and looked at me again, his lips curling up in a beautiful smile and his hair all hanging in his eyes. I reached up and brushed it off his forehead.

"I'm so glad I'm here with you," he said. His smile dropped suddenly and his voice became dark. "I didn't think we'd ever…I didn't…fuck. I don't ever want to lose you."

"I don't want to lose you either," I said, wrapping my arms back around him and holding his chest against mine. "I was a complete mess today without you."

"I thought…well, I didn't know what to think. I missed you so much. I know that doesn't even make any sense when we've only known each other a couple of days, but thinking about not seeing you anymore was just downright painful."

"I missed you, too," I admitted. "Everything happened so fast, and then you were gone and I couldn't take it back."

"I shouldn't have taken off like that," Edward said. "I should have given you more of a chance."

"I didn't deserve one," I whispered. I tried to keep the tears from coming back. "I'm just glad you were willing to talk to me again…give me another chance."

"I am, too."

Edward pulled me close to him, kissing my closed eyes, then my nose and my lips. His hands moved to my hips, his fingers gripping my skin as the kiss deepened and I tugged at his hair. We rolled together until he was on top of me, kissing me slowly and completely, his fingers trailing up and down my sides. He turned his head suddenly, resting his forehead on my shoulder for a moment before sitting up and looking down at me.

"I should probably go," Edward said with another blush. "You still have school work to do, and it's getting late."

"You could stay," I said softly. I felt my teeth bite into my lip and forced myself to stop it. Edward smiled his half smile.

"I told everyone I was just taking you home. I'm already going to have to dodge all their questions about why it took so long."

"Oh, yeah," I said. "I didn't think about that."

"I'd rather stay," he said. His fingers ran down the length of my bare arm, sending chills through my body. "I definitely want to see you tomorrow, if that's okay."

"Definitely okay," I told him. Then I remembered tomorrow was Tuesday. "Oh…shit."

"What?"

"I'm supposed to see my dad tomorrow."

"Oh."

"I should be done in the afternoon, but I will have some schoolwork to do then. Maybe we can at least meet for a little while in between?"

"That would be awesome, if you can swing it." Edward pulled me close to him for a moment, then let go. "I should get going."

I nodded reluctantly, and Edward got up and pulled his clothes back on. I wrapped myself up in a robe and walked him to the door.

"I know I have lunch with Dad tomorrow," I told him. "If you let me know where you are in the afternoon, I could come meet you somewhere. I'll have my car with me."

"Works for me!" I was blessed with a full on smile to match his bright, sparkling eyes.

"I'll call you if I have to change anything at the last minute," I said. "You never know with my Dad."

"Well, let me know what you decide to do," Edward kissed the side of my mouth sweetly, and then opened the door behind him. "I know the next couple of weeks are going to be really busy for you, but I'd like to see you whenever you do have the time."

"Definitely," I agreed. "I'll see you tomorrow."

I watched him walk down the hall a little ways before shutting the door and leaning back against it with a sigh. A sudden feeling of genuine relief washed over me, almost bringing tears to my eyes, and just as quickly a feeling of dread replaced it. I was going to have to do what I told him I would do. I was going to have to tell everyone about my new boyfriend, starting with Mister Charles Swan.

"Are you going to tell me what's bothering you?"

I glanced up at my father and then quickly looked back down to my boxed sushi lunch. I must have been too quiet, because it was rare for him to notice when I was off kilter. I decided on the straight forward approach, and figured I would just spit it all out at once.

"Well," I started, and then stopped again.

"Something up with school?" he asked.

"No, nothing like that," I assured him. I took a deep breath. So much for just spitting it out. I could get through this – I had to. I promised. "It's just…well…I'm seeing someone."

"Are you now?"

"Yes."

"Does he have a name?"

"Of course he has a name."

"Do I get to hear what it is?"

"Well, it's…it's Edward Cullen."

Dad's chopsticks dropped to the side of his plate and he stopped chewing. He seemed to be looking at my mouth, like he thought maybe some other words were going to pop out of it instead. His moustache twitched.

"You are seeing Edward Cullen?"

For a moment, I could have sworn there was complete silence. I think even the cafeteria employees stopped talking.

"Yes." My voice sounded a lot more unsure and timid than I had planned.

"For how long?"

"Not long at all," I said. I felt beads of sweat starting to collect on the back of my neck, below my hairline. "We just met last Friday. Not even a week."

"Well, cut it off now," Dad said. He picked the chopsticks back up and shoved another salmon roll into his mouth with them. A bit of wasabi got stuck in his moustache, which he wiped away with a beige linen napkin.

"I'm not going to cut it off, Dad."

"Like hell you're not," he said. Though his words were angry, he kept his voice low and calm. "Aside from the fact that he's still in high school…"

"He's not," I corrected. "He graduated."

"Regardless," Dad growled, still keeping his voice low, "He's way too young. Besides that, Edward Cullen is completely off his rocker. He's got brain damage, and he turned into a complete freak after his parents died. I don't know what he's told you…"

"He told me all about that," I said. "I know what's he's been through."

"Did he tell you about coming to see us to extract $100,000 in cash so he could pay off a shady attorney to emancipate him? Did he tell you about coming in here, to the executive offices and having a complete and total breakdown, which resulted in his hospitalization for a month? Did he tell you about buying his friends' apartment building a few weeks ago, at twice its market value, just so he could lower their rent? I'm not even going to go into the ridiculous tattoos and piercings and whatnot. Carlisle Cullen is probably still rolling over in his grave over that boy's behavior. If his parents hadn't been such valuable clients, I might have asked him to move his investments elsewhere."

"You would not," I scoffed, trying to ignore all the additional information my father had provided. He bought that nasty old apartment building? A breakdown resulting in a month in the hospital? I tried to push those thoughts aside. "You'd never let a three-point-two-billion dollar portfolio walk out of the door."

"At least you did your homework on him."

"Dad, please," I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "This isn't exactly easy for me, but I really like him. I know we…have our differences, but I think we'll be able to work them out. I want your support."

"What happened to that James guy you were seeing last year?" Dad inquired with a lame attempt to divert the topic. "He came from a good family and his brain was intact."

"I wouldn't say that," I mumbled. I reached up and absentmindedly rubbed the tiny scar under my bottom lip and loosely debated telling him exactly what had happened with James, but decided against it. His parents were still clients. "James was definitely not right for me, Dad."

"What about that other guy – the one you went out with a month or so ago?"

"Jacob?" How did my dad know so much about my social life anyway? Ah yes – Jean, Lauren's mother hung out with Sue all the time.

"Yeah – something like that."

"We only went out once. He's dating one of Sam's friends now."

"Well there has to be someone…" He rose half way out of his seat and actually started looking around the Swan Financials cafeteria.

"Dad – I like Edward," I insisted, as strongly as I could. I knew this was going to be bad, I just knew it.

"Forget it," Dad stood and tossed his napkin. "I know you have school work to do, so we'll just cut this short. I'll see you Sunday for golf. If you have a suitable date, feel free to bring him along to Sue's luncheon."

He marched off and left me sitting there with my mouth open. I fumed for a moment, trying to keep the hot tears from falling out of my eyes. I took a couple of deep breaths and stood up a little shakily. Leaving my tray on the table, I made my way to the parking garage, mindlessly smiling and waving at various employees as I escaped the building.

Right about the time I reached my car, my phone beeped with an incoming text message.

I know you have school work, but I wanted you to know I'm at Eclipse Park, in case you can stop by this afternoon. Miss you. Edward. PS Alice wrote this for me.

I couldn't help but smile, and all thoughts of my overbearing, controlling father danced out of my head as visions of his sparkling eyes took their place. A quiet walk in the park actually sounded like a fantastic idea. I had never been to the one he mentioned, but I found it on my GPS when I got to the car. I drove past a few abandoned warehouse buildings until I finally pulled into the little parking lot indicated by the woman's voice on the GPS.

I guess we had different definitions of a "park."

There was a chain link fence around what looked to be an old tennis court. Instead of nets and the like, there were two curved structures painted with graffiti, and about a dozen guys and girls on bikes were zooming up and down them, flying into the air when they got to the top and then twisting around so they could land without killing themselves.

Even though his head was covered with a helmet, I immediately spotted Edward on his dark green bike as he flew past a couple other riders and up one of the slopes. He soared high into the air, twisted in a complete back-flip, and landed easily on the ramp below to the cheering of some of the other kids in the park.

My Saab chirped as I locked it, which caused a bunch of the kids to turn around and take notice. I could feel the heat rise into my face as I started walking up to the gate.

"Hey chickie!" one of the guys called out. "That's a sweet ride. Do the seats go all the way back?"

The group around him started to laugh until Edward rode straight through the whole pile of them and put his hand on the guy's shoulder.

"Be polite," he said softly. "I invited her here."

"This your girlfriend, E?" the guy chortled as Edward blushed. "My apologies, pretty lady. Welcome to Eclipse Park."

"Bella, this is Demetri," Edward jumped off his bike and reached for my hand. "Demetri, this is Bella."

He introduced me to about nine other kids, but there was no way I was going to remember all the names. I said hi to the group and allowed Edward to lead me over to a rusted bench with a good view of the ramps. I spotted Emmett's huge form almost immediately, and Jasper was right behind him as they twisted and turned, crossing each other in the air before landing neatly on the ramp.

"Emmett, Alice and Jasper are still riding."

"Who's Jasper?"

"Oh – sorry," Edward said with a slight blush. "He was there when you came to…um…talk to me last night. I'm sorry – I didn't really do any formal introductions."

"That's okay," I said. "I don't think that was at the top of my list of things to accomplish yesterday. I'm glad there will be other opportunities."

"Me, too."

"Is um…" I glanced around, "Rosalie here?"

"Rosalie had to work today."

"Where does she work?" I asked, trying not to sound as relieved as I was.

"She's a waitress at the IHOP over on Cox Road," Edward said, and then started to laugh hysterically.

"What's so funny?" I asked.

"Well, she started there when they first opened the restaurant," Edward said. "They were all told that when they answered the phone, they should say 'IHOP on…' and then the name of the street where they're located. So for the first week, they kept getting phone calls constantly, with people just calling, listening to their greeting and then hanging up, usually laughing."

"I don't get it," I admitted.

"Think about it," Edward said with a sly smirk. "It's on Cox Road. So when they picked up the phone, they would say 'I HOP on Cox."

I started laughing with him that time.

"So what did they do?"

"Now they answer with IHOP only." Edward shot me the double-barreled smile, and I shifted a little in my seat. Edward gripped my hand and nodded his head over to the bicyclists. "Check that out."

I looked to where he indicated and saw Emmett flying down one of the ramps, spinning the bike around and around on its frame – at least three times – before landing on the other ramp and riding back down again. I recognized the lanky blond guy from yesterday – Jasper – as he followed suit, landing on just one wheel and reaching the bottom of the ramp before the other even touched the ground.

"Pretty cool, huh?" Edward smiled his glorious smile.

"It's kind of scary," I admitted. "It seems like they could get really hurt."

"We've had our share of broken arms and stuff," Edward told me. "Nothing scarier than one guy a couple months ago who landed on his back and neck. It wasn't too bad in the end, though – he had a concussion, but he was okay a couple days later."

"I'm surprised you don't stay away from stuff like this," I said. "Aren't you afraid of getting hurt again?"

"Sometimes," he said. "But if I had been hurt in a car accident, would you advocate never driving again?"

"Good point," I said with a smile.

"Can we have dinner together tonight?" Edward asked abruptly.

"I have two presentations to give tomorrow," I said. "I still have a lot of work to do on them. I think I'll have to skip dinner and just make something quick at my place."

"Later?" he asked, hopeful.

"I can come by," I said. "Maybe we can read a bit more Dune, if there is time?"

"I'd really like that."

"But if I'm staying over, it can't be a late night. I still have to get up early since my first class is at nine."

"Well, maybe we can find some way of wearing you out so you sleep well," Edward smirked.

"I slept pretty well this weekend." I grinned up at him and twisted my fingers around in his hand.

"Me too," Edward said. He leaned over and kissed me softly. "I think sleeping at my place with you is a lot more appealing than Emmett and Jasper's couch."

"I guess I'll have to come over then."

"Good!"

Edward leaned in close to me again, brushing his lips over my mouth and down my chin. Whistles and cat-calls emitted from the bike riders all around the park. He seemed so at ease and relaxed, even with everyone watching us, and I wondered how he managed to take everything in stride the way he did. It reminded me about the conversation I had with my dad, and the supposed breakdown Edward had in the office. When he leaned back and smiled at me again, I decided to tell him I had at least started to make good on my promise.

"I told my dad I was seeing you."

"You did?" Edward seemed surprised, and maybe just a bit nervous at my revelation. "What did he say?"

"Well, it wasn't pretty," I told him honestly. "But it could have been worse, too. I'll have to give you the details tonight. I need to get back to my schoolwork."

"Okay," Edward stood and gave me a hug, then a deeper kiss on the lips, which was met by more whistles and cheering. "I'm glad you came by."

"I am, too," I said.

"Bella?"

"Yes, Edward?"

"Thank you for telling him. That really does mean a lot to me."

I smiled, kissed him once again and then headed back to the car, trying to ignore the continued comments and raucous clapping. I settled into the seat and pulled carefully out of the parking lot.

My phone rang four times while I was in the car, but when I saw the names coming up – Lauren, Jessica, Jacob, and then Lauren again – I decided I still wasn't ready to deal with that. I'd see Lauren in class tomorrow. She would just have to keep her panties on until then. There was another beep, indicating a text message after I didn't answer the last call.

I pulled into the parking garage, locked the car and headed to the lobby of my apartment building, desperately trying to ignore the looks thrown my way from two first year grad students I recalled from the New Year's Eve social. Good lord, had Lauren already managed to talk to them, too? I had managed to dodge both Lauren and her phone calls so far, but obviously I couldn't completely avoid her influence, even with people I barely knew. I flipped open my phone and read her last text.

When you are done fucking the little Goth boy LMK.

As soon as I walked through the door of my apartment, my phone started ringing again. I reluctantly looked at the caller ID – it was my father. I sighed heavily and hit the green button.

"Bella, come and meet me for dinner."

No hello or anything.

"I can't, Dad. I have to get ready for a presentation tomorrow."

"Bull. Is that delinquent with you?"

"Edward is not with me. I told him the same thing I am telling you – I'm not done with school work for a couple more weeks and I have a lot of work to do tonight."

There was a long pause before he spoke again.

"Bella, you have no idea what you are getting into with that boy," Dad informed me. "He hasn't even held a job since he got out of high school, and then he dropped out of his freshman year! Dropped out, Bella! A college dropout!"

"Dad, I know all of this," I groaned. I tried to keep the annoyance out of my voice as I realized he had probably spent the rest of the afternoon looking up information on my boyfriend. "If you just get to know him…"

"That's not going to happen, because you are not going to keep seeing him."

"You don't get to make that decision," I said softly.

"I most certainly do," Dad said. "When you are doing something stupid, I'm going to do something about it."

"It's not stupid!" I yelled into the phone. "You don't know him, and you do not get to decide who I date!"

"Bella, be reasonable…"

"No, Dad – I'm not having this conversation with you anymore. Edward and I are together – maybe it will be short term or maybe it will be longer, but either way, you are going to have to come to terms with it, because I am not breaking up with him just because you tell me to!"

I hung up the phone.

I felt my entire body turn to ice.

I hung up the phone on my father.

I hung up on Charles Swan.

I yelled at him, too.

Holy shit.

It felt good.

"I can't wait until studying for a test is a thing of the past." I sipped lemonade from a straw and moaned softly as Edward's hands rolled all over my feet. I leaned back a little more in the pink bean bag chair. "One more week of classes, then finals, then I'm out of there. I sure would have enjoyed college better without the tests. I love to learn, it's having to prove to someone else that I learned something that annoys me."

"At least you got your thesis turned in," Edward said. His fingers worked their way between my toes. "And don't complain too much, I would have liked to have been able to stay in school."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean it that way," I said. Even though Edward kept saying we hadn't known each other long enough to worry about such shit, I seemed to keep slipping up with comments that could certainly be taken the wrong way. We had checked out a new restaurant earlier in the week, and I had really stuck my foot in my mouth when Edward asked me to come with him when he needed to excuse himself to the restroom. I had laughed, thinking he was making some kind of joke, or maybe just coming on to me. Then it hit me – since he hadn't been to that place before, he didn't know which door led to the women's room and which one led to the men's. Of course he would need someone to point out the right one in an unfamiliar place.

Needless to say, I felt like a complete and total shit after that one.

"It's okay," Edward said with a small smile. "I could try to go back, it just seemed like there was no way to do it like a normal person. I didn't want to have to explain myself all the time."

"What do you mean, 'like a normal person'?"

"I could have gone back with a whole individual learning plan, had tutors to help me with the textbooks and oral tests instead of written, but I couldn't have really been like the other students then. The last year of high school sucked when I was taken out of class during the tests so someone could read the questions and I could spout off the answers. I hated being singled out like that."

"I can understand that," I said. "I never liked being the center of attention – not at school or anywhere else."

"But you want to be an executive, where people are going to be looking up to you all the time?"

"Want, no, but…well…it is what it is."

"Why are you doing it, Bella?" Edward's voice dropped low and his massaging fingers slowed to a calming pace.

"Granddad grew that company from nothing," I said with a shrug. "Dad took over from him and grew it even more. Taking over for him when he retires is his dream for me. I'm supposed to carry on the Swan Financial legacy. It's in my blood! Just ask Dad."

"You should do something with books," Edward said so quietly I almost didn't hear him.

"What? Work in a library or something?" I laughed at the idea.

"Yes," he said, just as quietly. "You would like that more. You don't even like your accounting and economics classes. I can tell when you're studying."

"Careers aren't the same as hobbies, Edward," I said. "Reading is a hobby, not something you do for the rest of your life."

"Sounds like something your dad would say." Edward smirked. Apparently, I quoted my dad quite a lot. I hadn't noticed before, but Edward had been calling me out on it for the past two days. I scowled at first, but then laughed, because he was absolutely right.

"Fine, it is something he's said to me before. But he's right – I can't make a career out of hanging out around books."

"You could write."

"Writers don't make it, Edward. That's nothing more than a pipe dream."

"Would you enjoy it?"

"Not the point."

"It's my point."

"Ugh!" I pulled my feet from his hands and crawled out of my bean bag chair and into his. "Enough! I think announcing my relationship with you was enough of a shock to my dad's system for a while now. I'm not sure he could handle anything else."

"I just want you to be happy," Edward gave me his luscious half smile, which I kissed, and then kissed again.

"I'm happy," I told him, moving my lips over the edge of his jaw, then up to his ear. "You are making me very happy."

His hands slipped down my sides and cupped my rear end, pulling my hips up against the bulge in his khaki cut-off shorts.

"I want to give you something," he snickered. "I'll give you a hint what it is…"

"Oh really?" I played along, trying to look all naïve about his…um…gift. "Whatever could it be?"

"Well, it's long…"

"Oh really?"

"Uh huh…and hard…"

"Keep going!"

"And it wants to be inside of you," he pulled me close and whispered hot into my ear.

"Whatever could it be?" I whispered back.

"It's a banana," Edward said. "They aren't quite ripe, but I like them that way, and I'm starving!"

I smacked him on the shoulder as he rolled out from under me, grabbed me by the waist and threw me over his shoulder. He ran us to his bedroom, threw me into the middle of the mattress and started pulling off his shirt and unbuttoning his shorts.

"Aren't you a little presumptuous?" I remarked, giggling and pulling my own shirt over my head.

"You want me," he shrugged and laughed. "Either that or the idea of eating a green banana has you all panting and sweating."

I threw one of the pillows at him, which went way over his head and smacked against the door behind him. He jumped on top of me, pulling at the button and zipper of my Capri pants and quickly discarding them off the side of the bed.

"I can't wait to be inside you," he murmured into my ear as his fingers slipped between my legs and found their destination. He pulled out a string of condoms from the nightstand drawer with the other hand, and tore one open with his teeth. "God, you are so wet…I want you so much."

He pulled his fingers out and unrolled the condom quickly, rolling back on top of me and placing his hands on either side of my face, kissing me deep. My heart was pounding, and the muscles in my thighs were begging me to start moving against him. I pulled my mouth away from his lips, tugging a little at his lip rings as I did.

"Please," I kissed up the side of his jaw and nipped at his ear lobe. "Don't make me wait…I need you in me."

He didn't prolong the moment, but hitched my leg up over his hip and pushed slowly and sweetly into me. He sighed as he entered me fully and held himself there, gazing down at me with sparkling, intense green eyes. He swiveled his hips, pulled out a little, then back in again, repeating the motion until I was screaming his name and digging my nails into his shoulders.

"You feel so fucking good," Edward moaned and bucked against me a few more times before letting out a sound that might have been my name, tensing all his muscles around me, and then slowly relaxing with his forehead on my chest.

Edward pulled out of me slowly, his eyes never leaving mine as he tossed the condom in the trash and wrapped his arms around me again, rolling us until I was lying on his chest. He tilted his head up under my chin and started nibbling my skin.

"Move in with me," Edward said with his mouth against my neck and his arms wrapped tightly around me.

He said it after every time we made love. I had a pretty good idea that he was saying it when I was in a state of vulnerable, post-coital bliss in order to catch me off guard. The past week started running through my head – the times I had been happy, content and at ease had all been here. Not necessarily lying on top of him, with parts of him buried inside of parts of me, but in this place, with Edward. Every time I had been in my apartment alone, I had hated it. I had been uncomfortable, at best. Most of the time I was there, I had felt like something drastically important was missing – and it finally hit me exactly what it was. I raised my head, pulling away from his lips at my throat and stared down at him. His cheeks turned pink, and he graced me with his cocky half smile.

"All right," I said, smiling back.

"All right?" His smile faltered and he narrowed his eyes at me, confused.

"I'll move in with you."

"Seriously?" Edward sat up against the headboard, pulled me into his lap, and took my face in his hands. "Do you mean it?"

"I mean it, seriously," I said with a laugh. "I mean, if you really want me to."

"Fuck yeah, I do!" Edward exclaimed. I laughed at his exuberance.

"But not until after graduation," I clarified. "I think if I move in here before then I'll never get any studying done."

"Deal!" Edward cried. His tongue darted out over his lip rings, and I just had to kiss them. He kissed me back, and then started mumbling against my mouth. "I can't wait. You being here…it just feels so right to me. I'll get better food in the fridge, too – I swear…"

I laughed and shook my head.

"I think there are a few other things we'll have to tackle," I said. "The fridge isn't my main concern."

"What is?" Edward asked, his eyes showing a little wariness.

"Telling my dad would be the main one. He still won't talk to me about you at all. After I hung up on him, he's refused all of my calls. I talked to Sue for a while, but she said she couldn't get him to talk to her about it, either."

"He hates me, doesn't he?"

"I don't think so," I lied. Then I felt bad about lying. "I mean, he hasn't given you a chance, so whatever he does feel isn't justified."

"He has seen one side of me," Edward said quietly, his blush returning. "I can understand why he wouldn't want you to be with me."

"He's not giving you the opportunity," I argued. "He's going to have to give you a chance. What are you doing tomorrow?"

"Um…bikes, hanging out – the usual. You said you were busy all day."

"I am, and now you are, too. You are going to be my date to my step-mom's luncheon."

"Bella, that can't possibly be a good idea."

"Of course it is," I said definitively. "He will have to acknowledge you and be at least reasonably polite. Sue would murder him if he caused a scene at one of her luncheons."

"I don't know…"

"Please?" I asked, knowing it was a low blow to resort to begging. "I want you to be there, and Dad will get a chance to see how wonderful you are for me."

Edward furrowed his brow and looked away for a minute, then back again.

"If you think it's a good idea, I'll do it."

I wrapped my arms around Edward's neck, and he wrapped his arms around my waist. He held me tight against him and placed soft kisses on top of my head. It wasn't going to be easy, and I wasn't deluding myself into thinking that it would be. I was going to take all kinds of flack for bringing him, even if he did put on a nice suit and shave. Dad might never forgive me, and my friends would never let me live it down. I wasn't going to pretend that I didn't care what they thought – I knew I hadn't come that far just yet. But Edward meant more to me than they did, and so whatever they were going to dish out, I was going to take – for him.

His hands ran up into my hair, and he pulled my face to his, his lips and tongue stroking my mouth, my chin, my throat. As my body began to respond to him, I noticed something I had never felt before in my life – not with any man. A sense of deep, serene calm that came over me, held me, and caressed my mind as much as Edward's hands were caressing my body. I relaxed completely back against his chest and just felt.

"Oh…Edward…I love you."

My teeth sank into my lip, and I could feel my heart rate and breathing rise as the calm instantly disappeared and the serene feeling was replaced with horror. My hands started to shake as I tried to figure out what in the hell I had just said. I mean – I knew the words. I knew what I meant, and I knew the implications of speaking them aloud, especially after only knowing each other for eight days. He could bolt. He could bolt right now. All of this…all of this could be for nothing if he…

"Bella," Edward said, placing his hand on the side of my face and making me look at him. His fingers trailed up and down my cheek, and he gave me that cocky-shy half smile. "Get that panicked look off your face, baby. I knew how I felt about you the moment I realized I wanted to make you French toast. I knew I didn't want to just make it that morning – even that first night you were here, I knew I wanted to make you breakfast every day for the rest of forever."

His lips brushed mine softly, back and forth, the cool metal from the rings starting to feel like home as much as his arms did when he wrapped them around my waist and held me tight.

"I love you, Bella."

Tilting my head a little, I looked up into Edward's eyes, and he gave me the full-fledged, double-barrel smile that lit up my existence. Inside of my body, it felt like my insides were swelling up, like his gaze was enough to complete me. As I brought my lips back to his, I knew whatever we did face in the future, we were going to face it together. I had been so closed for so long, it felt good to finally let someone completely and totally inside again. Maybe it wouldn't be perfect, and maybe some things were going to be tough, but for once in my life, I wasn't going to do what everyone else expected. I wasn't going to do what other people thought I should. For once, I was going to do what was right for me.

Maybe I would love a little.

~~The End~~


Chapter End notes:

Well...probably the end. Maybe. I marking it as complete, even though I can always go un-mark it later.

Of course - there is a lot left to this story, no doubt at all it could be continued and go all kinds of directions, but it was really just supposed to be about Bella standing up to her father for the first time in her life, and Edward teaching her to live for the moment and stand on her own feet. Their relationship isn't "done," obviously, but that's all there is for now.

I do really like these characters, and Edward as split-brained has been absolutely fascinating to write. (The story Edward was telling about the man attacking his wife with one hand and defending her with the other is a true story.) It is entirely possible I will come back and write more about these two characters later - what happens at Sue's luncheon, moving in, Bella hanging out with Edward's friends and vice-versa - there are a lot of things that could happen. I know I have left everyone wanting more, and you just might get it some day! Watch my blog, where I will ramble on about what I *might* do, but also generally give a heads up on what is to come. I will be starting a new story as well, just as soon as Surviving Bella is done.

Thanks to everyone who has read and recommended this story. It's the support of everyone out there that makes writing worth while!

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For more information on Judging Books and my other work, visit the blog at http:/shaysavage(dot)blogspot(dot)com/ -I even updated all the pages last weekend!

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