Enchantments Contest Entry

Illa Volat Propriis Alis/ She Flies by Her Own Wings

Word Count: 9960

Fantasy Element or Creature: Cupid (Greek Mythology)

Summary: Bella, or Cupid, as the world knows her, has always dedicated her time to spreading love throughout the world. What happens when the man who she's decided to help, turns out to me more than a regular mark.

Disclaimer: All characters and Twilight creations belong to Stephanie Meyer.

"Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind."-William Shakespeare

I tapped my ruby red stiletto on the cement of the sidewalk as I watched the mortals pass me by, ignoring the catty laughter and talk of rich housewives dining at the posh café around me. I hadn't seen my mark yet, so I sat back and started to hum, bobbing my head to the music in my brain. I probably looked insane, but who wasn't these days?

God, I hated pretending to be mortal.

A waiter came up to me with a pad and pen. "Can I get you anything, ma'am?"

"No, that's okay. Thank you, though." I tried to make my voice sound less bell-like, but I could see it didn't really work when his eyes glazed over and his mouth kind of fell open.

"Ar… are you sure? I could get you anything," he exhaled longingly.

"I'm fine." I smiled and hung my head so that my wavy, brown hair created a barrier between me and the boy who was currently, and unabashedly, fantasizing.

I heard his footsteps retreat and took a couple peeks to make sure that it was safe again. I sighed through my nose and pushed my sunglasses down over my face when I was certain he was out of sight. I didn't want to take the chance of another mortal looking into my eyes. I didn't have time to snap them out of a hypnotization.

Scholars and theologians called me Cupid. Eros, Amor; they all meant the same thing. In the modern world, I was known as the goddess of love. Funny, since I had never really been in love myself. I never had the chance. Hell, half the world thought I was some chiseled cherub, if they based their opinions off old Greek and Italian artwork. In those cases, they were probably thinking about my brother. History rarely gave me credit for anything.

I'd been around for centuries; never changing, never altering. I was stuck in this perfect body until the end of time. Since I could remember, I was the one to whom everyone turned to for expertise on love.

Cars fighting for spots in the thick, Los Angeles traffic caught my attention, and I wondered how humans did this every day. Didn't they get tired of the monotony?

In an effort to stay productive, I pulled the small, wallet –sized picture out of my back pocket. It was in black and white, but I could still see the attractiveness of the man photographed.

Most people thought that being Cupid was all sunshine and roses. I would take out my bow and arrow, shoot at whomever I wanted, and boom; everyone would be in love.

It was actually much simpler and a hell of a lot less dramatic. My "marks", as I liked to call them, were men who needed me. That might sound easy enough, but true love was something that was very rare. I could feel that the men I helped were truly looking for love and not just some roll around in the sheets. You would think that I had marks coming out of my ass, but I wasn't the only one working on trying to spread love throughout the world, although, I was the most committed. I believed in love, even if I had never experienced it before.

"Yo, yo!" said a tall man with brown hair— identical to mine—and sunglass covered eyes. He pulled out the chair across from me, the metal scraping against cement as it was dragged backwards.

"What are you doing here, Roman?" I groaned.

"I have a mark." He smiled at a group of ladies and jerked his head upwards in greeting. I could hear them melting behind me.

"You're supposed to be working."

"Come on, sis. You've got to loosen up." He reached across the table and clapped my shoulder.

"As much as I love your sibling antics, I'm trying to focus."

"I'm taking a break." Roman leaned back in his seat and put his hands behind his head. "What does the City of Angels have for us today?"

My brother Roman was the playboy in the little community of deities that we inhabited. All the women, mortals and godly, fawned over him like the second coming of Christ. He looked exactly like me, except with more masculine features and short hair that spiked up when he masqueraded as a human and put product in it.

To anyone on the outside, we appeared normal. Nothing about us gave our inner souls away, other than that fact that we never aged. We could breathe, sleep and feel. My heart beat continuously, and blood ran through my veins. I didn't have to eat but could if I wanted. So, except for the whole supernatural gifts thing, we were fairly regular beings.

"Go away. You're bothering me." I tried to shoo him off.

"Bella, I'm starting to get worried. When was the last time you had sex?"

"1987," I answered truthfully.

"Damn, girl," he hissed through his teeth. "Are you serious?"

"Yes… maybe… I don't remember," I lied.

"Please tell me that's not true. I can't fucking believe you. That's…" He counted off on his fingers. "…a long time. Shame on you."

"I know, but I've been kind of busy," I replied sarcastically.

"Well, so have I. But I get some at least four times a week," he said proudly.

"I'm so happy for you." I looked over his head and saw the man from my picture. "I've got to go."

I hopped up from my seat quickly.

"Make sure you get some dick!" Roman shouted over the traffic, and a blush immediately crept up to my cheeks.

Stupid asshole!

My heels clicked on the ground as I darted through traffic and across the street. Cars honked and people stared; they always did.

I arrived on the opposite sidewalk a couple of seconds later. My mark was on the phone with his head lowered, walking briskly down the street. I followed behind him easily and tried to feel him out.

His name was Edward Cullen. He was a thirty-two year old business executive, and a quick riser at his company's firm. The reason I was here today was to help him move on, like I did in most of my cases.

Edward had lost his wife, Tanya, to cancer six years ago. They were high school sweethearts and had married right out of college. He'd been with her through every round of chemotherapy, every doctor's visit, every injection; and he'd held her hand when she took her last breath. Edward had never really gotten over her. I heard his dreams at night, the silent pleas for the pain to stop. He needed relief. Soon.

I followed Edward with my head bowed so that I wasn't accosted by some stranger on the street. That had happened on more than one occasion. Model scouts or talent agents always thought I was their next best thing. It was an occupational hazard of all deities; I was no exception.

I got closer to my mark. So close, in fact, that I could smell the oddly enticing sea breeze and musk scent of his cologne. He was tall, very tall, and had dark golden colored hair with streaks of bronze dashing throughout it. It was in a state of controlled chaos. Tangled, yet strangely tamed at the same time.

Edward made a sharp left and almost took me off guard when he entered a large chain bookstore. I let a couple of people pass me inside before I went in and put my sunglasses into my bag. I turned my head so that I could see myself in the reflection of the glass window and fluffed my hair out over my shoulders. I fixed the top I was wearing, making sure that I didn't look like a tramp.

I rode the escalator up, following the scent of Mr. Cullen, and found him perusing the shelves in the "self-help" section.

I plucked a book from the shelf and pretended to read it. I almost laughed when I saw that he was trying to decipher a cookbook. From the look on his face, he wasn't doing a very good job.

"Are you having a hard time?" I asked him, bringing his attention towards me.

He brushed me off, not even raising his head, and said, "Uh, no. I'm fine."

I grumbled at his lack of enthusiasm. My job was usually over by now.

So, I continued to watch him: the way his hands roamed over the book; the way his mouth moved around the words; the way his face scrunched up in thought and realized that he wasn't just handsome, he was otherworldly. He should be with us.

Pull yourself together.

Edward's jaw looked as though it had been chiseled right from marble. His ears, nose, and chin were all perfectly proportioned. His body was lean, but I could definitely see that he had muscle under the expensive suit he was wearing.

Time to get down to business, I thought and moved closer.

"I can help you if you want."

"No, I said I don't need…" He raised his head, finally looking at me, and gaped.

I examined his face. His eyes were the exact color of emeralds and held so much pain, even I could feel it. I had the sudden urge to reach out and run my fingers over the sunken bags beneath them.

We just stood there for a full minute. At least, I think it was a minute. I wasn't really sure. It was like time had suspended.

Our faces were mirrors of each other. He was just as much struck by my beauty as I was struck by his. He was gorgeous in that manly way, which was rarely seen anymore.

He breathed an acknowledgement, "Hi." He was mesmerized, just like every other man.

"Hello." I felt my cheeks rise in a smile.

He shuffled the book under his arm so that his hand was free. "Um… I'm Edward." He held it out for me.

I responded with my code name "Bella" and took his large, warm hand in mine. The feeling that passed through me was inexplicable. It was almost as if I could feel his pulse hum through me.

"I'm sorry for being so rude." He retracted his hand and ran it through his hair. "I've had a very rough day."

"No… no problem," I said, trying to regain my boundaries.

You have a job to do.

I pointed to the paperback under his arm. "I couldn't help but notice you were reading a cookbook."

"Oh, yeah. I usually just eat takeout, but I'm trying this new health kick so…" He trailed off and shrugged.

"Mind if I take a look?" I asked.

"No, go ahead." He quickly handed it to me.

I pretended to read again.

I could feel Edward staring at me. I wanted to blush, but I kept myself cool. I just needed to hook him enough to get a kiss out of him.

After all, that was how it worked. The bow and arrow was stuff of legend, symbolism gone awry. It took just one kiss from me, and my mark would be on the path of finding true love.

Ironically enough, my kiss would propel the mark into solitude. After what was usually no longer than a month, the mark gravitated towards that one person he couldn't live without any longer. After that, I would be long forgotten. They wouldn't remember my name, what I looked like, or why they suddenly needed to find love. I got none of the credit, but it was all me. I'd worked my magic countless times in the past and wouldn't hesitate to do it again today.

"This is a good recipe." I pointed to a delicious bowl of chicken risotto that was made with all natural ingredients.

"Have you tried it before?" He furrowed his brow again. "I can't really make much in the kitchen."

"It's very simple and it tastes amazing." I smiled up at him.

Jesus, why is he so hot?

Wow. I hadn't had that reaction to a man in a long time.

"Are you sure?" He grinned crookedly at me.

"Yeah." I nodded like a dumb person.

I unexpectedly felt very claustrophobic with our close proximity. I craned my neck and took deep breaths through my nose, but nothing seemed to help, especially since each breath sent liberal whiffs of his cologne racing through me.

"Uh… I need to go." I handed the book back to him. "It was nice meeting you."

I rushed down the aisle, shocked that I'd left a mark untouched. For some reason, I just couldn't do it.

I would usually just reach up and kiss him. It didn't have to be anything sexual or romantic. Just a kiss and they were off. What the hell was wrong with me?

I was almost to the escalator when I heard my name being called. Within seconds, I felt a hand on my shoulder.

Shit.

"Bella…"

I turned around and looked at Edward. "I really have to go. I'm late."

"Okay, look. I know we just met and everything and I normally don't do this, but… would you like to go out sometime?"

I shook my head frantically. "No, I can't."

He deflated. "Oh."

It killed me to see him that way.

"No, that's not what I meant," I backtracked. "I'm just… busy tonight."

"Well then, what about tomorrow night?"

I thought for a second. I was going to have to meet him again sometime. Why not on a date?

"Sure." I smiled hesitantly.

"Really?"

"Yeah."

"I promise. I'm not a stalker," he chuckled and combed his hand through his hair again.

"That's good to know." I laughed at his awkwardness. He was almost as bad as I was.

"I... I can pick you up if you want and we can go to dinner; just something casual," he suggested.

"I'd like that."

"Okay, do you want my number or…"

I pulled out my phone from my bag and handed it to him. "Put yours in, and then I'll send you a text with mine."

"Sure." Edward's long fingers tapped on the keypad of my cell phone, and I felt a soft tingle in between my legs as a strange image passed through my head. I couldn't see it clearly, but there was flesh—and lots of it.

Huh.

I stood around, trying to figure what it meant, until he handed me back my phone.

"Should I pick you up?" he asked, obviously relieved.

"No, no," I said hurriedly, "we can meet up wherever."

"Okay, I'll find the perfect place. We can go at say… seven?"

"Tomorrow at seven," I confirmed.

"Alright, then." He smiled for what seemed to be the first time in years. His face didn't look accustomed to it. "It was nice meeting you." He held his hand out. "I'll be calling."

"I look forward to it. It was nice meeting you, too." I shook his hand, and again, that feeling coursed through me with the contact.

Edward nodded, and then walked backwards, away from me. He stumbled into a woman but corrected himself easily. He waved one last time before turning and going into the bookstore again.

My cheeks started to hurt, and I abruptly realized I was still smiling.

I turned around and hit a very familiar, very hard chest.

"Go away, Roman." I rubbed my nose and put my sunglasses back on as I rode the escalator down.

He followed me anyway. "Last time I checked, I didn't think that was in the plan."

"Were you spying on me?" I whispered.

"No, I was looking out for you. I'm worried."

"Well, don't be. I'm handling this."

"Not from what I saw. It looked like he was the one with the powers in that encounter."

I walked out into the California sun and breathed a sigh of annoyance. "Shut up. Sometimes, it just takes me longer to feel a mark out."

"Yeah, right. You're personal best is a minute-forty."

"Just go away. You're always bothering me."

"That's what happens when twins end up in the same profession." He trotted alongside me as I walked down the street and took a right into a dark alleyway.

"Don't you have work to do?" I spat.

"No, I'm done," Roman clipped.

When we were a safe enough distance from the street, we both closed our eyes. We reopened them to a pair of gigantic, golden doors.

I didn't really know where Mount Olympus was, but it didn't really matter. All I had to do was close my eyes, envision myself there… and poof. Home sweet home. Greek literature always personified our humble abode with valleys, billowing clouds, a sparkling river, temples…

Yeah, right. It was basically just a big, swanky apartment complex that was our own little oasis in God-knows-where.

"Just leave me alone." I threw myself through the doors and into the marble lobby.

Roman easily caught up with me, following towards the elevators. "I want to know what all that was about."

"You're incredibly annoying." I waited for the doors to open. When they did, I rushed inside.

"But you love me anyway."

We arrived on our floor and both got out, him going to the left and me the right. He would probably be holed up in his room with some girl for the next week.

My room was minimally decorated; I hadn't bothered to change it since the Renaissance. I sat on my bed, leaning back against the pillows, and just… thought.

What had I gotten myself into?

Did I really just agree to go on a date with a man—a mortal man—who by some miracle made me feel something I hadn't felt in years?

You did.

This could only end badly.

I jerked awake as my phone started vibrating near my head and shuffled around for it, finding it buried underneath my pillows.

"Hello," I almost shouted into the receiver.

"Hello? Is this Bella?" a smooth voice asked.

My heart thumped faster when I recognized it as Edward's.

"Uh… yes. Hi," I replied lamely.

"I just wanted to catch you before it was too late. I said I'd call…"

I looked outside at the permanent sun that shone through the window. It never set here, but according to human time, it was eight at night.

"No, it's fine. I was just making dinner," I lied.

"So, I was hoping that…" I heard him take a deep breath and grinned at his nerves.

"I said I would go to dinner with you, Edward," I said to help him out.

"Thank God. I haven't done this in a long time," he chuckled nervously.

"Me, either," I admitted.

Edward and I talked for about an hour. It was completely surreal that someone held my attention for that long; I had never spoken on the phone continuously for that amount of time before.

I quickly found out that Edward was endearing and completely clueless when it came to women, but I gave him some credit since he hadn't really been dipping his feet into the dating pool recently. We didn't talk about his wife; he didn't bring her up. What Edward didn't realize was that I knew all about Tanya.

She was the love of his life, and the sadness in his voice was there the whole time we were talking. He covered it well, but I could still hear it.

By the time we hung up, I was riding a preverbal high, and there was a grin on my face that felt like it was carved there. I couldn't explain it, but something about Edward told me that I wouldn't need to.

That night, I slept easily for the first time in a while. When "morning" came, I sat up and stretched, surprised at how rested I felt. It was like my whole body was rejuvenated.

The day passed incredibly quickly. I didn't have to work, so I spent most of my time trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. I hadn't been on a date in decades. What did people do on dates nowadays?

I demolished my closet—finding nothing—and decided to just go with something casual. I chose a simple blue dress that was actually pretty flattering on me and a pair of nude pumps. I started to panic slightly when time passed and I found that it was nearly time for me to leave.

He's just a mark, was all I could say to myself as I drove down the street, following the directions that Edward gave me. I couldn't think of him as anything else. I had to keep this professional.

I followed the GPS diligently, and when the buildings of Los Angeles started to fade away into the hills of the city, I realized that I was going through a residential neighborhood.

"What the hell?" I checked the directions again and stopped in front of a massive, modern house that was situated in a posh looking neighborhood.

From the outside, the whole thing looked like it was made of glass. I parked on the street and got out of the car, making sure I had the wine that I brought earlier. I let out a breath and walked up to the gate. I just stood there stupidly for a second, not knowing what to do.

I saw a box to the side with a button, and I guessed that was my way in. I pushed the button and waited for a reply.

"Bella, is that you?" Edward's voice asked eagerly.

I spoke into the box, "Uh… yeah."

"I'll buzz you in. One second."

There was a loud ring, and the magical gates opened slowly. I walked through them, up the driveway, and to the door. Edward opened it just as I walked up the steps.

A small gasp escaped my lips when I saw him standing there in a dinner jacket and dress pants. I could see that he had tried to style his hair, but it didn't really work. Not that it mattered; I almost fell over from just looking at him.

"You didn't have to walk up. You could have parked up here." He stood aside so that I could walk in the house.

"It's alright. Thank you for inviting me." I handed him the wine. "I brought drinks."

"Good." He smiled and shut the door. "Oh, and I hope you don't think I'm a creep or anything for inviting you to my house. I didn't even realize how inappropriate that was until just now." He nervously laughed and ran a shaking hand through his hair.

It made me feel a little bit better to know that he was just as out of touch with dating as I was. I had to just keep reminding myself that he was a mark.

I shook my head and tried to put my game face on.

"You look… very nice." Edward gave me a warm smile, showing off his perfect teeth.

"You do, too." I had to make it sound as nonchalant as possible when all I wanted to do was shout it at him.

"Thank you. I had to dress up for such a special occasion."

"You have a really nice house." I walked through the foyer, my heels clicking on the hardwood floors.

"Thank you. It's too big for just me, but I like it." Edward's hand ghosted over my lower back, and he gently pushed me towards the kitchen. That single touch seemed spark electricity throughout my body.

"I thought we were going on a date?" I asked.

"Well, you said you knew how to cook so… I was wondering if you could help me," he said bashfully. "I thought we could make that risotto you were raving so much about. Is that okay?"

A small smile crept onto my face. I had to bite my bottom lip to stop it from breaking into a full-blown grin.

"That sounds perfect." I walked into the impressively large kitchen. It was outfitted with every appliance known to man.

"I don't use this room much, so this will be interesting." He set the wine down on the marble counter as I sat at the breakfast bar. He took off his jacket, exposing his lean body to me.

"Did you go shopping?" I couldn't help but giggle at the way Edward was tripping over himself in the kitchen.

"Uh… yeah. I got all the ingredients we would need for the risotto and a few other recipes I thought we could tackle."

"That sounds nice," I said truthfully.

The actual act of cooking started off rocky. Neither of us knew what to say, nor who should talk first. Of course, there had to be an ice breaker, which came in the form of Edward's loud cursing when he botched a mushroom.

"Shit…" he hissed through his teeth and set the knife down harshly. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to curse like that in front of you."

"It's okay," I snickered behind the hand covering my mouth. I couldn't help it. He was too cute.

"I'm trying," he chuckled.

"My brother is worse than you. It's not that hard." Without even thinking, I picked the knife back up and handed it to him, positioning myself so that I could guide him.

"You have to go slower," I instructed him and pushed his hand down with mine. "If you move too quickly, you'll mess everything up."

"Really?" His breath was so close to my face that I was almost intoxicated by it, but I tried to keep my head clear.

"Yeah." I exhaled and continued to move our hands together.

I didn't know how long we stood there, but after a while, I was just hitting the cutting board. I was pretty sure the mushroom was obliterated beyond repair.

"I think we're done." I don't think Edward had meant to whisper, but like me, he was having difficulty breathing.

"Um…." I didn't know what to say, so I kept it at that. I was sure he could hear my heart beating furiously in my chest. I closed my eyes to control myself, and then looked down at our joined hands. His long fingers could probably work magic, and the veins going up his exposed forearms were exquisite. I wanted to lick each and every one of them.

I had only just met this man yesterday, but the sexual tension in the room was already making me sweat. Was that normal?

He's just a mark.

Edward cleared his throat and backed away from me quickly, his hands slipping away from mine. They immediately felt cold.

"Okay, so what's next?" He kept his head down and read the cookbook.

I had to blink a couple of times to get myself together. "I don't know…"

Edward and I kept our conversations to the usual topics, with absolutely no touching whatsoever. We eventually started to work in harmony, so I tried not to look at him too much. That would be my downfall.

As the risotto simmered and the chicken roasted, we laughed about something—I wasn't really sure what—but it was nice to just be normal for once in my life. He talked a lot about his family and his work, but never about Tanya. I could tell that he was nervous about this. He would ask me about what I did or if I had family near. I would always lie; I had to, but for some reason I desperately wanted to tell him the truth. He would probably either have a heart attack, or call the police to take me to the crazy house.

After a while, I forgot who he was and what I was here to do. I actually thought of him as someone… I was supposed to be with.

But I couldn't. This was my job. I didn't get the luxury of things like love.

We were virtually silent while we ate, but it wasn't uncomfortable. We'd just talked about everything that was appropriate for a "first date".

"This is incredible." Edward took a large bite of risotto.

"You did well," I praised. It actually was delicious.

"Where did you learn to cook like this?"

"Practice," I answered.

"Well, I might have to hire you or something, because this is competition worthy."

"Competition worthy?"

"Yeah, you know, like on those cooking shows on TV? It always amazes me at how much ingenuity those contestants have. All I can think about when I get in a kitchen is peanut butter and jelly. "

"I'll come over and teach you every day," I promised.

"That would be wonderful."

Just one kiss, Bella.

That was all it would take, and then Edward would go on to find his true love. He would forget me completely and never look back. He wouldn't even remember my name. Did I want that?

For the first time in my life, I answered with a resounding "no".

After we ate dinner, Edward brought out an ice cream cake from the freezer, claiming that he got it for free because he won a raffle. I think he just liked ice cream cake, but honestly… who didn't?

He gave me a massive piece, and we took our wine, along with our dessert, to the couch.

"So, what about you? What's your story?" he asked me as we ate our cake.

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," I sighed.

"What was that?"

"Nothing. I'm nothing special; just an accountant," I answered with a smile.

"Sounds boring."

"You have no idea," I lamented. "But what about you?"

"Not much to me." He set his empty plate down on the coffee table. "I'm a family man. I like baseball, fast cars, and apple pie," he chuckled.

"You're perfect… on paper. Are you sure you don't have a creepy fetish or something?"

"I guess you'll just have to come back and find out." His permanent smirk deepened, and I took his last statement as an invitation to come back for another date.

That's when I realized that I had to end this right now, or I was never going to leave.

Edward suddenly got up from his seat and picked up his plate. "Are you finished?" he asked me nicely.

"Oh, yeah." I stood up as well and took my plate into the kitchen.

"You can just put it in the sink. I'll clean up later."

"No, no. I helped make the mess; I can help clean," I assured him.

"Alright. You wash, I'll dry?"

"Perfect," I said, a little too enthusiastically, but an opportunity to be close to him provided me with unidentifiable warmth.

We put all the smaller dishes in the dishwasher, but the pots and pans from dinner had to be done in the sink. I filled the basin with warm water and soap, waiting for it to bubble up.

"You seem to be so at ease here," Edward said, watching me.

I quirked my eyebrow in question.

"I mean… not here…. but…" He ran a hand through his hair. "I meant around me. It's like you're not nervous or have those first date jitters."

I had to smile at the fact that he was so nervous, he couldn't even see how conflicted I was.

Now was my time.

"I'm nervous; I just don't show it." I moved my hands to his, the warmth almost heating my skin to boiling point.

This mark had turned from something mechanical to a need— a desire—that I craved so badly, I could taste it. Edward wasn't just a mark anymore, and while I knew that I needed to, I couldn't keep from spiraling further out of control.

"I haven't done this in a long time. I just don't want to mess up," Edward explained in a whisper.

"You're doing fine." I moved closer to him, the fire almost too much to take, but I didn't back away.

"Good." He turned his face to mine, leaning in tantalizingly slow.

"Good." I shifted closer, but not all the way.

His breath washed over my face, like a flood that I was more than happy to drown in. I was going to lose him in a matter of seconds, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Edward's lips were gentle, yet firm, until something animalistic erupted in my blood. I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him closer. He took my new found vigor as a positive, and his strong hands held my waist, steadying us both against the counter.

My hands immediately went into his hair. The taste of wine mixed with his natural flavor was overwhelming, and his lips were the most succulent thing I had ever tasted in my life.

He licked my bottom lip softly, and I opened my mouth even further while moaning against the force of our kiss. Our tongues touched for the first time, and it was almost surreal at how the world seemed to evaporate. Nothing existed outside of this—us. My skin was burning, my ears were ringing, and my head was pounding.

Wait….

This wasn't supposed to be happening.

After our lips touched, he should ask me to leave. The pull of his love would be enough to make me only a distant memory. That's how it always was. Why was I still here? Why hadn't he forgotten me yet?

Edward's lips slowed but didn't relinquish mine for a couple of seconds.

"I can't breathe," he chuckled under his breath.

"Me, either," I responded. My hands untangled from his hair, sliding down to his shoulders and over his amazing chest. I pushed him back marginally.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do that," he said remorsefully.

"Don't apologize."

Please, don't apologize.

"I couldn't help myself." He grinned impishly, like his hand had just been caught in the cookie jar, when his eyes should be glazed over, and his brain should be clicking in all the right places.

"Are… are you alright?" I asked him cautiously.

"Yeah, why wouldn't I be?" He smiled, dunking a pot into the water of the sink.

My forehead scrunched in confusion, but I continued to clean the dishes while I thought about what was going on.

I had never had this happen before. Never had a mark been immune to my kiss. What was I supposed to do? There was a certain way that things went in this world, and it was a given that a kiss from me would put a man on his path to find true love. That was how it always worked.

"It's midnight," Edward commented, glancing at the clock.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I bet you have to go to work tomorrow." I started to put on my jacket. "I didn't mean to stay so long."

"No, it's fine." I could tell he was desperately trying to get me to stay, but I had to get out. I had to think.

Edward walked me to the door, and we awkwardly stood around for a couple of seconds.

"This was really nice. Thank you for the wonderful night," I said honestly.

"Like I said: I usually don't do this, but I had a feeling we would have a good time. I hope you didn't think I was rude or anything." He opened the door for me.

"No, you were perfect."

That was the problem.

"May I call you again?" Edward leaned close to me.

No!

"Yes," I answered, rising on my toes so that our lips touched.

The kiss didn't last longer than a couple of seconds, but it was enough to send a shock through my body.

When I broke away, I tried to gauge if the kiss had worked again.

It hadn't.

He gave me a smile and then took my hand, leading me out of the door towards my car.

Time flew by. Before I knew it, a month had passed. And what did I do during this entire month?

I played human… with Edward.

Every day—if I didn't see him—he called, and we talked. He made me feel like a normal person, and I treasured that. Whenever he asked me out to dinner, or to come to his house so that we could cook something, I would jump at the chance.

Edward was charmingly old-fashioned. He would hold doors and didn't push physical intimacy, although, I would have eagerly accepted his advances. Besides heavy kissing, we hadn't actually explored each other. To be honest, just being with him was enough to placate me for now.

For the first time in my life, I didn't analyze everything. I just let myself live.

What I really should have been doing was figuring out what the hell was going on. Edward shouldn't still want to be with me. My success rate was good enough—infallible even— to know that Edward was supposed to fall in love with someone by now. He should be with his true soul mate. I had kissed him so many times that my lips were beautifully chapped, but still—nothing.

The only problem was that I didn't want him to go. Maybe that was why my powers weren't working. I had never cared about any of my other marks before; this was different. I truly valued the time we spent together, and it was almost as if we had known each other forever. It was so effortless.

I never wanted him to leave. Why would I, when I had a man who actually wanted to spend time with me? For his birthday, he actually asked me what I wanted to do. I didn't know that guys like him actually existed. If I had, I wouldn't have been such a hermit all these years.

Did I actually have a boyfriend?

That concept was so foreign to me, but I was trying to—uncharacteristically— just let the waves roll and not disrupt them.

My job was…. put on the backburner for now. It wasn't like I was the only one giving out love, so I decided to take a little break. If anyone asked, I called it a "sabbatical". In actuality, I felt like I was cheating on Edward, and since he didn't know who I really was, it didn't seem right to be kissing other men.

Roman pounded on my bedroom door and barged in without a welcome. "Sis, wake up."

"Go away." I rolled over, not wanting to talk with him so early.

"I haven't seen you in forever." He plopped on my bed rather loudly said, "What's been happening?"

"Nothing." I turned so I could see his face.

"That's not what I've been hearing." He acted so nonchalant, but I could tell that he was trying to grill me for something.

"What do you want? Money?"

"No, I don't need you for that. I'm just wondering how that mark is doing."

I acted stupid. "Which one?"

"This one." Roman pulled out Edward's photo from his pocket and shoved it in my face. "What the hell do you think you're doing with this dude? You have a job, you know."

"We're just hanging out," I explained.

"You hang out with a friend or a fraternity buddy. You two are full-blown fucking. Tell me the truth." He playfully pinned me to the bed and ruffled my hair like I was a doll.

"No, we're not."

He let me go. "Well, you need to. You're usually so uptight, but lately, you're actually bearable."

"What the hell does that mean?" I sat up in bed with a huff.

"I don't know." Roman shrugged. "You're just… better."

I was about to say something, but my phone rang on my nightstand. I snatched it up, and a small smile appeared on my face when I saw Edward's name come up.

"Go away," I ordered Roman.

"No, who's that?"

"No one." I opened my phone. "Hi."

"Hello to you too," he chuckled. "I thought you weren't going to pick up."

"I'm just dealing with some stuff over here." I pushed Roman out of my face.

He was making kissing noises into the phone, and when he started with the sex sounds, I knew it was time for him to go.

"What the hell is that?" Edward asked.

"My idiot brother. Hold on." I put the phone down and tackled Roman to the ground. It took me a minute, but I dragged him out of the room by his shirt and locked the door.

I went to pick the phone back up. "Hello? Sorry about that."

"No problem. I have one just like him. My brother doesn't believe in personal space."

"It's embarrassing," I joked. "How has your day been?" I checked the human clock on the wall and saw that it was about noon.

"I've been good. I got off work early. That's actually why I was calling. Would you like to go to lunch?"

"Sure!" I cursed myself for being over enthusiastic. Nevertheless, I jumped out of bed and started searching through my closet for clothes.

"Would you like me to pick you up?"

"No," I said quickly, "I'll meet you."

"Alright, then. How about… Rita's in… half an hour?"

"Sounds good to me. I'll see you there."

"Bye, Bella."

"Bye."

I hung up the phone and sighed heavily.

It was getting harder and harder to keep things from him. I wanted nothing more than to tell Edward all about my life. He would probably just laugh at me anyway, so why not? But in our world, it was dangerous to mix with humans. We rarely spent any time on earth that wasn't necessary. It wasn't normal for us. Even I was slightly wary when I walked down the street.

I knew that at some point, Edward was going to ask me where I lived or would want to meet Roman. I didn't know what to do when that happened.

I shook my head to clear it and jumped into a pair of dark jeans. I pulled on a light blue top, and then stumbled around for heels, which I found in the very back of my closet. I brushed my teeth, fluffed out my hair, dusted my face with a little makeup, and grabbed my stuff before walking out of the door.

Roman was waiting for me as I got into the elevator. "Where ya going?"

"Lunch," I answered coldly.

"Mind if I join you?"

"Yes, I do mind."

"May I ask you a question?"

"It doesn't matter what I say, you'll ask it anyway."

"True," he snickered. "Do you love him?"

I almost fell over and actually had to catch myself on the wall. "What?"

"Do you love this Edward guy? You're hanging out with him all the time and a goofy smile is always on your face. You and I both know the signs; we're experts in it. Could he be the one?"

"No," I replied.

"You know you can't be in his world and ours at the same time."

"Yes, I realize that," I said acidly.

"You could… always leave us behind," Roman suggested.

"I can't do that."

"You know, all you'd have to do is kill yourself. It's easy."

Theoretically, we weren't trapped up here in paradise. If we wanted out, a simple dagger to the heart was all it took. From the moment we woke back up, we would be human and live by human rules, forgetting everything that was up above. The only problem was that we would leave everything behind. In my case, that meant my brother. I would never get to see him again, or even remember him, for that matter.

"Since when did you turn all emotional?" I deflected.

He laughed sarcastically. "I'm a good person on the inside; I just don't show it to you. And you didn't answer my question."

Thankfully, the elevator doors opened, and I lost him in the crowds of people in the lobby. When I was outside of the golden gates, I shut my eyes and re-opened them a second later.

I magically felt the warmth of the late June air and walked out of the secluded alley onto the sidewalk. Rita's was a couple of streets over, so I took my time and lazily strolled towards the restaurant.

When I got there, I went inside and over to a very snotty-looking hostess.

"Welcome to Rita's," she said dryly, looking me up and down.

"Hi, I was wondering if Edward Cullen is here."

She smiled. "No, not yet. I can't wait though."

What the hell?

"Right, well, could I have a table for two please?"

"He already reserved a table. He's just not here yet." She rolled her eyes and started leading me through the restaurant.

As usual, people looked at me and some even pointed. I just ignored them.

"I'll make sure he knows you're here." The hostess threw a menu at me and grumbled as she went back towards her spot near the door.

People were so rude nowadays.

I looked over the menu for a minute, and then felt a familiar, cool breeze on my neck. It was what always happened when Edward was near.

I lifted my head and saw him stride towards me through the tables of the restaurant.

"Sorry I'm late." He bent his head down to chastely kiss my lips. "I was stopped by a partner for a meeting on my way out."

"That's a good sign, right? Maybe you'll get a promotion," I said as he sat opposite me in the circular booth.

"I'd better. I've been working there since I graduated from college and bring in the most money. My last promotion was five years ago." He huffed and fixed his tie.

I couldn't help but look at him.

"What?" Edward asked.

I shook my head. "Nothing. I just like looking at you. Is that a crime?"

He smirked. "No. You'd be surprised at how many people like looking at you."

I shrugged, not wanting to get into that.

We stayed quiet for a little while, trying to figure out what to order. When a waiter came by to ask what we wanted, I saw Edward's eyes darken a little bit.

"What's all that about?" I asked him when we were alone again.

"That boy was eyeing your chest," he grumbled lowly.

"That always happens."

"I've noticed."

I scooted all the way over to his side of the booth and took his hands under the table. "Are you jealous?"

"Extremely, I don't like sharing." Edward turned his head and captured my lips in his.

We were interrupted a couple minutes later by our drinks, and I moved back over to my side so that we didn't get in trouble.

Edward and I ate our lunch with smiles. We never really talked about anything too deep, and it was nice to just sit in his presence. He had a way of putting me at ease. Time just flew by when I was with him—obviously.

"So, I have the rest of the day off," Edward hinted as we finished dessert.

"What do you have planned?"

"I was wondering if you wanted to do something."

"Sure, what did you have in mind?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. We'll figure that out later."

"Sounds good to me," I replied eagerly.

I told Edward that I had walked, so he took me to his car across the street. We didn't have any concrete plans, but since he had the day off, we were going to make use of the time. He drove us to his perfect house in the hills.

We went inside, and Edward went into the kitchen to get us some more wine. While he was gone, I decided to walk around his family room. There were tons of pictures around, and I wanted to look at all of them. I wanted to know about Edward's life.

I saw all kinds of photos from his childhood and of his family. They all portrayed him as the smiling man I knew him as. Then things seemed to change as I went down the line of pictures. Edward had stopped smiling, and I knew why.

There was only one picture of Tanya in the entire house; I'd looked. It was of Edward and her on a beach, both of them tanned and toned. It was obvious that they loved each other immensely.

"I haven't looked at that picture in a long time," Edward's voice said from behind me.

I jumped in surprise. "Oh, sorry. I didn't mean to pry."

"No, it's okay." He sighed and stood next to me. "That was my wife, Tanya," he explained.

I played the role I was supposed to and said, "You were married?"

"Yeah, she died about six years ago. That was the hardest thing I've ever had to go through."

"I'm sorry. I didn't know."

"We got married right out of college."

"I bet it was tough to lose her."

"You have no idea." Edward let out a deep breath. "She wanted so much out of life and then… it was just over. They caught the cancer too late."

It almost brought a tear to my eye to hear Edward talk about Tanya. The only reason I wasn't bawling right now was because I knew everything already. If this had been the first time I was hearing this, I'd have been a weepy disaster.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bring down the mood." He shook his head and gave me a painful smile.

"It's not a problem." I wiped a stray tear away.

"Come upstairs." He took my hand and began leading me.

"Are we going to watch a movie?" I asked.

"If you want, but I need to take a shower first. You can pick a movie while I do that."

"Alright."

This wasn't the first time I had been in Edward's bedroom. We usually came up here to watch TV after our dates, which would turn into a heavy round of kissing. Not that I minded.

"I'll be right back." Edward went into the bathroom, leaving me in front of the shelf that housed his massive DVD collection.

I heard the water of the shower going and browsed through the titles. I didn't bother paying attention to what I grabbed and sat on Edward's bed to wait. It wasn't like we would be watching the movie anyway.

I closed my eyes and drifted to sleep while I waited. I didn't mean to, but the smell of Edward mixed with the comfort of his bed was too incredible to pass up.

"Bella, are you up?" I felt Edward's hand move some hair out of my face soon after.

"Yeah." I blinked my eyes open to the most stunning sight I had ever seen in my long life.

Edward was leaning over me with nothing more than a plush, white towel around his waist. There were water droplets shining in his bronze hair and for the first time, I saw the amazing contours of his body. He wasn't overly muscular, but it didn't matter. The long sinews of his chest and stomach created fantastic muscles underneath perfect skin. A small dusting of rusty chest hair completed his amazing physique.

I was speechless… literally speechless.

"Wow." I heard the word escape my lips.

"I just didn't want you to fall asleep."

"No, I'm up," I said and stretched.

"Did you pick a movie?" Edward left the bedside and went to search through his drawers for some clothes.

I suddenly hated clothes. Whoever created them should be put to death.

Unconsciously, I got off the bed and went towards him. Edward's back was turned away from me, but that didn't stop my hands from traveling up the line of his spine.

He shuddered under my touch but didn't say anything.

We both looked at each in the mirror. I could tell that he wanted the same thing I did.

"Bella, what are you doing?" Edward's eyes closed when I made the circuit over his skin again with my hand.

"I don't know," I answered openly. I'd never been physically attracted to someone until now. It was… astounding

He turned around and placed his hands on my hips, pulling me closer to him and inching my face up to his for a kiss. My breathing immediately came faster as my body warmed up.

My hands explored his stomach, tracing every line and curve before traveling higher over his torso. His whole body felt glorious under my fingers, and our kissing increased steadily.

"Bella, we need to stop soon," Edward panted between kisses.

"Why?" I whimpered.

"Because I can't stop myself if we keep going."

Instead of answering with words, I boldly unwrapped the towel from his waist. It fell to the floor at our feet.

"Bella…" he warned, but didn't pull away.

"We don't have to stop." I began placing kisses over his chest, and he leaned against the dresser.

"Are you sure?" His eyes had a certain amount of anxiousness, but he couldn't hide the lust that was pooling in them.

I bit my bottom lip and nodded, trailing my hand downward. I was afraid to look at his dick, but even I could feel how massive it was from our closeness. I was proven right when my fingers lightly touched him, and his cock filled with blood, jerking under my touch.

Edward closed his eyes and hissed through his teeth, bracing his hands on either side of the dresser.

"Bella…" He choked out, and I could tell that he wanted to say something, but couldn't. That made me grin evilly.

I thought I was in control of this situation, but that quickly changed when I felt myself being hoisted up onto the dresser. Edward's lips attacked mine as he pushed himself between my legs and began to undo the buttons of my top.

Before I knew it, my shirt was hanging off of my shoulders, and Edward's hands were palming my breasts, expertly making me moan into his mouth. The top was pulled off and dropped to the floor along with his towel.

His long, nimble fingers started with the button of my jeans, and once I was unsnapped, I lifted up slightly so that he could start to pull them down my legs. They too ended up in a pile on the floor. He delicately removed my bra as well.

"Are you really sure about this?" Edward placed kisses over my shoulder, and then up my neck.

"Please, stop asking me that," I panted and felt his fingers steadily climb up my thighs.

It had been so long since I had done this, I didn't know if I'd remember what to do.

Edward got on his knees in front of the dresser and began to pull my panties down my legs. Once they were discarded, he watched my moments with heavy eyes. I tried to cross my legs so that I didn't feel so self-conscious, but Edward wouldn't let me. I heard something that was equivalent to a snarl erupt from his throat.

"Do you have any idea how amazing you are?" He stood back up, pushing himself into the gap between my legs. The tip of his dick brushed across my center, and I cried out from the touch. He brought his lips to mine and continued to kiss the hell out of me. I could feel his cock slowly tracing the outline of my opening, and I spread my legs instantaneously.

Edward's fingers redid their climb up my legs until they reached my very wet core. He took two fingers and spread my juices before entering me with his digits.

I gripped at his muscular shoulders as he pumped into my body with a vigor that brought my butt off of the wood.

We were both winded, and just as I thought my release was coming, he pulled out of me.

I pouted.

"I just needed to get you ready," he chuckled and kissed my now swollen lips.

Without breaking our contact, he pulled the top drawer out. He closed it roughly, and I heard the crinkling of aluminum as he expertly rolled on the condom. I still couldn't bring myself to look.

"Are you ready?" Edward asked me with a raised eyebrow.

I nodded, hoping that I was.

He scooted me to the edge of the dresser and at the same time, impaled me.

I had never been stretched like this before, and the pleasure that it brought was enough to make my eyes roll back in my head.

We kissed urgently, my hands tangling in his hair; my legs wrapped around his waist like a vice. When he released my lips, he chanted my name between the soft kisses that he littered across my skin. We kept up a slow rhythm that was enough to bring out emotions in me that I had never felt.

He thrust inside me, whispering my name over and over as I wrapped my arms around his neck and tried to love him with every ounce of my being. The only sounds in the room were our moans and the sound of our skin slapping against each other. The dresser vibrated violently under us. Fire ran through my veins as I allowed myself, for the very first time, to feel completely and utterly loved by a man.

"I… I think I love you." Edward's voice was broken but strong.

It took me a minute to register what he said and when I did, it was almost my undoing.

"I love you, too. God, I love you." I threw my head back, hitting the mirror hard. I felt pieces of glass in my hair, but I was too far gone to feel any pain.

I came violently, screaming his name and grabbing onto his back, digging my nails into the naked skin of his shoulders.

We both slowed our movements, and I felt him jerk his seed. It took us a long while to calm down, but once we did, I was spent.

Edward pulled out of me and tied off the condom before throwing it away in the trash near the dresser.

He moved some hair out of my face and brought my lips to his for a kiss.

"You are… incredible." His words spoke volumes.

"I've never felt like this before," I said truthfully. "I don't know what I'm doing."

"Neither do I. I'm scared out of my fucking mind. The last woman who brought out these kinds of emotions in me didn't make it. I can't do that again. I just can't." He closed his eyes, resting his forehead on mine.

"I love you." I kissed him again.

He carried me towards the bed and placed me gently between the sheets before climbing in. He pulled me closer to his body, and I rested my head on his chest.

The sun was still high in the sky, but Edward and I were curled in bed like it was the middle of the night. We looked at each other for a very long time, not speaking and barely breathing.

After about an hour, his eyes began to close, and his breathing evened out.

I kissed his lips again and knew without a doubt in my heart that I loved this man. I now had a choice to make, and all I could hear in my head where Roman's words from earlier this morning.

all you'd have to do is kill yourself. It's easy.