Blue-Collarward Contest
Pen Name: GemmaH & beckybrit (Collaboration)
Link to FFnet Account: .net/~gemmah & .net/u/2144168/beckybrit
Twitter Link: Edbrella & beckybrit1
Pairing if Applicable: Edward x Bella
Title: Chainsaws and Trapdoors
Disclaimer: All things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer. We own nothing at all; just ask our husbands.
Brief Summary: When tree cutter Edward Cullen takes his team to Forks for their next job, he gets more action than he bargained for up in the branches.

Chainsaws and Trapdoors

"Fuck!" I curse loudly as I check the time on my watch. This is the last day on our job and we only have another five hours left. In that time we need to finish cutting the trees and then tidy up the fucking great mess we have made. Our team is currently working for a family just outside of Seattle, cutting back the forest that has taken over the grounds of their million dollar home.

My name is Edward Cullen and I am an Arborist. When loosely translated, this means that I take care of people's tree problems, whatever they may be. It may sound like a pansy-assed job, but I fucking love it. I spend the majority of my time outside, climbing trees and wielding a chainsaw. What's not to love?

As I hang, suspended twenty five feet above the ground, I brace my legs against the trunk of the huge tree I am currently working on and slightly adjust my harness. It is too fucking hot for this time of year and things are getting just a little uncomfortable. My t-shirt is starting to stick to my skin and I can feel beads of sweat slowly making their way down the back of my neck.

I take off my customized, hand-painted, Petzl Vertex Vent helmet and wipe my forehead with the back of my glove. Hey, the thing may have cost more than two days pay, but if I have to be safe then I might as well look as good as possible doing it!

I slowly roll my shoulders and try to loosen up a bit. There is still a good two hours' worth of work left to do on this tree, and I need to push on if we are going to finish on time. I place my helmet back on my head, fasten the chin strap and focus back on the job in hand.

As five p.m. rolls around, we are finally packing up the last of our equipment.

"Hey, McCarty," I shout to the great bear of a man who's just climbing into one of the trucks. "I'm headed back to the office to see Carlisle. I'll meet you at the bar."

"Yeah, Cullen, don't be too long," he says, grinning. "We wouldn't want to run up your tab without you!"

"Dick!" I answer, laughing and giving him the finger. I always buy the drinks at the end of a big job like this and the fuckers always drink the bar dry!

I pull open the door to my own truck and grab a clean t-shirt from the passenger seat. I really need a shower, but this will have to do. Grabbing the bottom of my shirt, dirty from the day's work, I peel the wet, sticky material up and off my body. I quickly use it to wipe the sweat off my face and throw it onto the back seat.

The fresh air feels much better on my overheated skin. I pause before re-dressing, stretching out my aching muscles. I catch sight of my reflection in the window and smirk. Yeah, I'm a sexy motherfucker. All those hours of climbing trees and using heavy tools have turned my body into nothing but lean muscle. I know my crazy sex hair and good looks just add to the package; the women have told me so often enough and I take advantage of it at every opportunity. I pull my clean top on and jump into my truck. I'm the last to leave and I quickly scan the area to make sure we haven't forgotten anything before driving off.

I make my way back to the offices of Cullen Tree Services, it's a local job we've been working on so it's not too far to our Seattle office. The company is owned by my Uncle Carlisle. I've worked for him for the past 8 years, since I was 18, learning the trade and working my way up to Project Manager. Carlisle has told me that it is in my contract to get the bar tab at the end of each job. I really should check that shit out, or at least try and get Emmett McCarty off my team. The way that bastard drinks, I've probably just worked the day for nothing.

I park around back, next to my beloved Volvo, being extra careful when I open my door. Carlisle is locking his office up as I walk into the reception area.

"Edward! I didn't expect to see you here," Carlisle announces. "I hear you finished up at the Taylor's right on schedule. Shouldn't you be down at the bar?" My Uncle is well aware of the ritual.

"I'm headed there now. Just wanted to check in and pick up the details for our next job," I reply, hanging up the keys to the truck behind the reception desk and picking up my own car keys from the next hook.

"Well, we just had one come in actually," he tells me, rubbing his forehead as he picks up some papers from the desk. "Their sub contractor has let them down, so it's a bit of a rush job; James Royce Development needs new people to clear the land for their new housing project. Seems there's a bit of trouble with the locals and they need to preserve what they can of the surrounding forest." He drops his hand to his side and shrugs his shoulders in an apologetic gesture. "I know we don't usually do work for other companies, but the money was too good to pass up."

"Ok," I say, holding out my hand for the papers. "Let me have the details and I'll let the team know." He places them in a clear plastic folder, and I take it from him, turning to head for the door. The day is catching up with me and I need to get to the bar and unwind.

Halfway out the door I pause and turn back to Carlisle.

"Where is the new development?" I ask, frowning as I scan the front page of the folder for the answer.

"Forks," he replies with a smirk.

Forks? Where the fuck is Forks?

"Jesus fucking Christ, not again," I mutter to myself in exasperation as a commotion on the ground below me draws my attention. I huff and lower my chainsaw until it hangs at my side, knowing I'm unable to carry on until the crowd below is cleared.

I curse Carlisle yet again for sending us on this job; the locals are a pain in the ass, and the site manager for the project is a dick. We've been here two and a half days and only managed one day's worth of work. It's the first time that I have ever fallen so far behind on a job and I fucking hate it. Carlisle may think he'll be in for a big draw on this contract, but at this rate he'll be losing it all in late completion penalties if we don't finish on time.

I am about to reach for my rope to descend when I see Emmett striding over and wading into the centre of the bodies. A couple of the other guys follow him and they soon have the protesters forced back to a safe distance. Emmett uses one of our ropes to tie together the barricades that the protestors managed to sneak between before. He uses the kind of knot that no layperson will ever be able to untie. All well and good, but if we have to do that many more times then we'll have no ropes left to do our job with. Not to mention what they cost; we only use the best, and that comes with a price tag.

We know exactly what the problem is. Once the owner of the dive we are staying out found out what job we are working on, he made sure to bitch at us every morning for over an hour. No one here in town wanted the land cleared, the surrounding forest was a big part of the town's history and they wanted to keep it that way. The owner told us how James Royce's company had worked on many other projects around here and how it had failed to deliver the playground and community hall that had been promised. That's why when James submitted his plans for this project, the town never imagined they would be approved. What they hadn't accounted for was James having an affair with an influential member of the planning committee, one Victoria Riley. Of course, nothing could be proven as far as an affair went, so the project went on full steam ahead.

This is the shitty situation that we now find ourselves in. Oh, that, and the fact that it has rained more than I've ever seen it rain in my life, ever since we arrived on site. If we were anywhere normal, this might make rational people decide to not stage a protest. But this is Forks.

Finally it is time to head out. We've been reluctantly discussing whether to put in some extra hours, but the sudden extra rain that the clouds had decided to empty onto us makes our decision for us. We get back to the trucks and I begin to strip off the various tools attached to me and my harness. I have a routine, but tonight it's halted before it has really started.

"Fuck it!" I curse in annoyance.

"What's up, man?" Emmett asks me as he stands next to the other truck removing his own harness.

"I must've dropped my fucking knife somewhere." I huff impatiently, patting down my pockets and then peering at the muddy ground around me through the sheeting rain. Emmett chuckles at me.

"Relax, you can pick up a new one tomorrow," he says. "I saw them in that hardware store in town for twenty dollars."

I stop, and glare at him.

"How long have you known me, McCarty?"

"Uh…"

"And have I EVER bought anything cheap and nasty for work?"

He is frowning at me now.

"Uh…"

"I need to find it," I tell him, walking away then calling back to him. "I'll see you later."

I stride back through the site to the last tree I worked on. My eyes scan the churned up ground, searching for my lost knife. What can I say, I'm a sentimental fucker. I get attached to my tools and this knife is a favorite.

I'm on the verge of giving up when a glint of silver just outside the area I've been concentrating on catches my attention. I head straight for it, but when I get there all I find is a forgotten thermos, half buried in the mud.

"Motherfucker!" I spit out, aiming a kick at it. It doesn't move an inch, which just serves to irritate me further. The light is failing now and I know there's no point staying any longer. The loud sound of wood creaking just behind me draws my attention. I turn and look up into the tree where the sound seems to have come from. As I peer more carefully into the branches, I see a series of wooden boards and deduce it's the floor of a tree-house. An old abandoned one, if the appearance of the boards is anything to go by. The creaking noise sounds again, and I am certain this time that it comes from those boards. I look up at the trees around me. They are absolutely still. Although the rain is still pounding down from the sky, there isn't a breath of wind at all.

I unclip my flashlight from my harness and shine it up into the tree. I find the dark outline of a cutaway window, and see the definite, albeit brief flash of movement beyond it. I can't clearly see who it is, but I am pretty sure that the figure is female from the glimpse of long hair.

I am beyond pissed now. All day we've had nothing but trouble from the local people, and now they are sneaking in to set up camp? I keep my light aimed at the structure and raise my voice to call to the figure inside.

"Ok, lady, I've just about reached my limit on this fucking job. If you don't get your ass out of that fucking tree in the next thirty seconds I'm calling the fucking cops!" I look for any sign of movement. I hear nothing until a sound drifts down to me, quietly... It is the sound of a woman crying. No... not just crying; sobbing.

Fuck! I run my hands through my hair, cursing my luck. Why didn't I just leave with Emmett? I could be nice and dry by now, nursing a beer. Stupid fucking knife! I know I need to get her down from there, but I really don't want to deal with a hysterical female. I try again, a little softer this time.

"Hey, you really need to come down from there, this is private property."

"Fuck off!" her voice is rough from crying, "My father built this damn tree house! I'm not fucking moving!" Jesus Christ, this lady has a dirty mouth. I see movement out of the corner of my eye and I turn in time to see the ladder to the tree house being quickly pulled up inside. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

How am I going to get up there now? That seems to be the only way in. I look down to see I'm still wearing my harness, my rope tied to my belt. Duh!

I throw my rope up and over a branch, catching the end as it drops back down. I attach my harness to it, double checking all the knots. If she won't come down, then I guess I will just have to go up. I pull myself up until I am able to grab the branches that support the tree house. Unhooking my harness, I climb up through the branches until I can peer in through its makeshift window. It's surprisingly big and well made. Her father must have known what he was doing because it looks dry as a bone inside. The tree offers some shelter from the rain, but not that much.

In the corner, wrapped in a thick purple comforter, is the owner of that dirty mouth. She looks to be in her mid-twenties from what I can see, but it's hard to tell; her hair is covering most of her face. She's stopped crying, but she's still sniffling, hugging her knees tight to her chest.

"What are you doing up here?" I ask a little louder than usual, due to the rain.

A piercing scream sounds from inside, making me jump.

"Oh My God! Where the fuck did you come from?" she screeches, pressing as far back as possible against the far wall of the tree house. "You scared the living shit out of me!" She wipes her eyes with the back of her hands, looking at me expectantly.

"Sorry about that." I'm not, but I need to calm her down a bit. "Look can I come in, I'm getting fucking soaked out here."

"What do you want to come in for?"

"I just want to talk to you."

She takes a good long look at me and sighs.

"I'll drop the ladder down. If you really want to come up, it's the only way in."

"Ok." I reply, already heading back down towards my rope. I quickly reattach my harness and lower myself to the ground. The trap door opens seconds later and she drops the ladder. I unhook myself and climb up, desperate to get out of this rain even if it means being in a tree house with a crazy chick.

At the top of the ladder I poke my head up inside. I see the girl straight away, still sitting in the corner, watching me. I pull myself all the way through and then turn to raise the ladder through the gap so the door will fit back into place. I close it softly down into its frame. After removing my mud encrusted boots, I take off my rain jacket, laying it down in the opposite corner to the girl and tentatively sit down beside her.

"So." I repeat my earlier question. "Why are you up here?" She looks at me warily, as though debating whether to answer.

"Its complicated." she huffs.

"I'm sure I can keep up."

She closes her eyes and smoothes her hair out of her face. Fuck me! She is stunning, even with her eyes all red and puffy.

"I don't really know where to start." she says, leaning her head back against the wall.

"How about we start with introductions? I'm Edward Cullen." She doesn't say anything straight away. I look at her, cocking an eyebrow. "And you are?" I prompt her. She rolls her eyes at me before answering,

"Isabella Swan. But I guess you can call me Bella." Her last name sounds familiar, but I can't quite remember where I've heard it.

"Well, Bella, why don't you start at the beginning?"

She takes a deep breath and starts to tell me everything. She's originally from Forks, but had relocated to Seattle after college. Her Dad had remained here though and was the Chief of Police. She's back here for his funeral. Shit! That's why I recognized the name Swan; there was a tribute to him in the local paper. No wonder she'd reacted like she did when I threatened her with the police. I feel like a complete dick.

"Look, Bella. I'm really sorry about what I said before." She looks a little confused. "About calling the police," I clarify. "I didn't know about your Dad."

"It's ok. I don't normally behave this way. It's just his funeral was today, then that asshole developer had to come over and offer to buy Charlie's house. He said they were already clearing this area and I just flipped. My dad would turn in his grave if I sold his house to James Royce's company. I just wanted to come here once more, while it was still standing."

Tears begin to fall steadily down her cheeks again. She makes no attempt to wipe them away this time. I feel bad knowing my team and I will be the ones to destroy her tree-house and all the memories it holds. I also know that James Royce is an even bigger asshole than I had first thought.

I hate to see someone so upset, so I tentatively put my arm round her shoulders and pull her into my side. She relaxes slightly and rests her head against my shoulder, before speaking again.

"Did you know this is the second development his company has done around here?" I nod, not needing to ask who she means. "He made all these promises and didn't follow any of them through! There's no way he should have been granted permission for a second development." Her voice is quiet but angry.

"Yeah, I've heard the rumors about how it got approved," I add. She lifts her head to look at me.

"My dad was investigating that bitch Victoria on the planning committee. Everyone knew about the affair, but there was no proof that she'd done anything illegal." She takes a deep breath and her head is back on my shoulder. When she speaks again her voice is soft, all traces of anger gone.

"I've been staying at my father's house, trying to sort through some of his things. I think he'd finally found proof, then he had his heart attack and never got chance to show anyone." I turn her around to face me. Even though this will probably mean the end of our contract, she has to tell the proper authorities about her dad's findings.

"You know you have to show this to the police, don't you?"

"Yeah, I know." She looks at me, noticing my harness and work gear. "Don't you work for James Royce? Won't this put you out of a job?"

"We've been sub-contracted by him, so I don't exactly work for him, but yes, it will cost us this job." I'm not that bothered to be honest, this job has been a pain in the ass from start to finish. "James is a dick anyway; I won't lose any sleep over this. Don't worry."

We fall into a semi-awkward silence. I still have my arm around her shoulders; I don't want to remove it though. I enjoy having her tucked under my arm, especially now that I've seen how beautiful she is. I pull her closer, gently stroking my fingers up and down her arm. Before I know what's happening, she whips around and puts her legs on either side of mine, straddling me.

"Uh...What are you...?" This is a little fast, even by my standards!

"Sssh," she interrupts me, placing a finger on my lips. "I've had a really, really shitty day. I need this. Please…" She places her small hands on my cheeks and leans in to kiss me, hard and urgent. I return the kiss, my arms wrapping around her small frame, pulling her against me. She moans into my mouth, her hips grinding slightly on my increasingly hard length. As much as I am enjoying this, I think we need to stop. Reluctantly I push her gently back, tugging on her hair so that she has to look at me. I see a flash of hurt in her eyes and I instantly want to make it go away.

"Hey," I whisper. She drops her gaze to the floor, her fingers playing with the bottom of her shirt. "Look at me, please." Once I have her full attention I try and explain. "It's not that I don't want to, because believe me I do. I think that's fairly fucking obvious." She smirks slightly, her eyes flicking down to my groin. "But you are far too emotional right now to be doing this. I don't want to take advantage of you." To my utter fucking astonishment, she throws her head back and laughs, but it's not a happy sound.

"Edward," she says when she stops laughing. "I buried my father today. That prick James tried to buy his house from me and then I found out that one of my most treasured childhood memories is about to be torn down to make way for a housing development. Yes, I am very fucking emotional, but that doesn't mean I don't know what I'm doing." She takes my face in her hands again,

"If I want to have meaningless sex…" she paused. "No offense…"

"None taken," I confirmed.

"…with a fuck hot stranger to make me forgot about all of that shit for a while, then that's hardly you taking advantage of me! Is it?" Well, when she puts it like that I struggle to come up a valid reason not to.
"Good," she says, not waiting for my reply. "That's what I thought. Now, where were we?"

I grab hold of her hips and pull her against me. "I think you were just about here," I say, rubbing her against my straining erection.

"Yes," she replies, continuing to move back and forth. "I think that's exactly where you were."

She leans in to kiss me, her hands snaking their way once again into my hair. She bites my lip and I moan into her mouth. She feels so good writhing in my lap, but I know we both want more. I slide my hands up and along her waist, feeling her bare flesh as my fingers dip under her shirt.

Without a word she grabs the bottom of her shirt and pulls it over her head, breaking our kiss. She tosses it quickly to the side. I take a moment to appreciate the sight before me; her beautiful skin is almost glowing in the muted light of the tree-house. I can't resist any longer and I reach out to touch her again. She gasps at the feel of my cold hands on her hot flesh,

"Sorry," I mutter against her lips.

"S'okay," she mutters back.

I carry on my exploration, over her ribs and upwards, my thumbs brushing the fabric of her bra. She pushes her chest out slightly and I take that as my cue as I move to gently cup her breasts; stroking her hard nipples through the flimsy material. I want to remove the offending item and explore her thoroughly.

"Wait," she says. It's as if she read my mind. She reaches behind her back and unclasps her bra. "There, that's better."

I give her my best pouty face.

"I wanted to do that. You're taking all my jobs!"

"Poor baby", she smirks. "You can do the next bit."

She stands up in front of me and runs her fingers along the waistband of her jeans. "Unless you'd like me to do that, too?" she asks, raising an eyebrow.

I don't fucking think so!

I make quick work of her jeans and panties, pulling them down to her ankles so that she can step out of them. She shivers suddenly and I feel like a dick for undressing her because we're essentially outside for fuck's sake. I look around for something to use.

"Spread that blanket on the floor," she says, as she points to a thick checked blanket folded in the corner. I lay it out on the floor and motion for her to lie on it with me, grabbing the purple comforter to pull on top of us.

She lies down and then runs her hands over my shoulders and down my back, tracing feather-light touches all over. When she reaches my harness, her hands still.

"Mmm, as much as I like the idea of you in this, it all needs to come off. I want you naked," she tells me. I unfasten my harness and pull my t-shirt over my head and they both join her pile of clothes on the floor. I help her take off my jeans and boxers. She uses her feet to push them down, and off my legs.

We are both naked, snuggled under the comforter. The floor is hard but I hardly notice with her lying next to me. Leaning over, I trace a finger down her cheek, tilting her face to me so that I can kiss her. I trail my hand down over her neck and down between her breasts, feeling her heart beating fast; I imagine mine is doing much the same.

I want to taste her so I begin kissing down her neck, along her collar bone and lower still. I gently tease her left nipple with my tongue before sucking it into my mouth, and my fingers play with her right one. She arches her back, giving me better access, her hands holding my head in place.

"Fuck! Edward, that feels so fucking good!" Her voice is all breathy and full of need, and the sound goes straight to my groin, making my cock twitch in anticipation. I move back up to kiss her hungrily, my tongue seeking entrance to her mouth. I slide my hand down to her hip, tracing lazy circles with my thumb. She starts to squirm beneath me, as if urging my hands to move a little lower.

I give her what she wants, running a finger along her sex. She is so fucking wet! I dip inside her, rubbing my thumb over her clit.

"Shit!" she cries, throwing her head back and grinding her hips against my hand. I add another finger and increase my pace, watching her as she starts to fall apart.

I rub her harder and curl my fingers inside her. Her walls clamp down on me and she screams.

"Fuck, yes!"

I continue to stroke her softly as she comes down from her orgasm. She looks so beautiful in her blissed-out state. An unfamiliar feeling coils in my stomach. I put it down to the fact that my dick is harder than titanium and begging for a release.

She finally opens her eyes and looks at me, a smile playing about her lips.

"That was fucking awesome, but I really want you to fuck me, Edward." My name falling off her lips after that sentence nearly does me in and I quickly rifle through my jeans for a condom. Yes, I am always prepared because you never know what will happen; this situation being a prime example.

She snatches it out of my hand and rips open the foil packet.

"Come here, big boy," she grins and reaches for me, rolling the condom down my length. Jesus Christ! I need to be inside her right the fuck now! As I guide her onto her back and position myself between her thighs she is watching me, her lip between her teeth.

I keep my eyes locked on hers as I enter her, pushing forward until I am all the way in. She is hot, wet and so very tight. If I don't control myself this isn't going to last long at all. I take a few deep breaths and begin to move. Her eyes fall shut and her hands grip onto my back, her legs wrapping tightly round my waist. I pick up the pace and drive into her with long, hard strokes.

"Fuck! Bella…I'm not…going…to last… long," I get out between thrusts; she just feels too good.

She reaches a hand down between our bodies and starts to stroke herself. That shit is so hot!

I grab her shoulders, holding her in place as I fuck her for all I'm worth.

"Uh! Edward...I'm gonna come..." She quickly removes her hand and clings to me, her orgasm ripping through her for the second time. The feeling of her clamping down all around me sends me spiraling over the edge, and I am coming with her.

"Fuck! Bella!" I shout, releasing inside of her, my arms keeping the weight off her body as I collapse on top of her.

I lower my head to her shoulder, trying to catch my breath. The rain has stopped and it is quiet, except for the sound of our labored breathing. I slowly withdraw and deposit the condom off to the side; I'll dispose of it later.

I settle down on my side and pull her to me so that she is nestled into my side.

"Thank you," she whispers.

"It was my pleasure," I reply, kissing the top of her head and then pulling her in even closer. With the comforter pulled tight around us against the cold, we drift off, thoroughly exhausted by the evening's events.

Oh, fuck me. I stretch gingerly and my muscles scream in protest. I ache like a motherfucker. Goddamn motel-room beds. I realize what it is that has woken me when another loud snore all but makes the room shake. I fucking hated having to share a room, especially with McCarty. His snoring is legendary, but I think he's actually outdoing himself this time.

A particularly loud, grunting snore sounds out, but the exhale doesn't follow it. I'm about to start worrying, when a loud whooshing sound fills the air and makes me jump.

"Em, you're snoring," I slur, my voice still thick with sleep. A murmur sounds in response and my eyes fly open in sudden realization. That murmur did not come from the mouth of a man.

Everything comes rushing back at a frightening speed; where I am, why I am here and who I am here with. I turn my head slowly, my eyes moving from the wooden boards above my head, to the ones that make up the walls, and further still, until I see a mass of dark brown hair poking out of the top of the purple comforter. She's stopped snoring since I mentioned it, thinking it was Emmett making the noise. It is still more than a little incredulous that the thunderous sound came from such a small woman.

I slide slowly out from under the comforter, trying not to gasp loudly enough to wake her as the cold, morning air hits my bare skin. I stand and scan the space we're in, quickly spotting my t-shirt discarded a couple of feet away. Grabbing it, I turn it the right way round and pull it over my head, wrinkling my nose at the smell of the garment I'd spent the whole of the previous day working in.

I don't have enough headroom, so I walk hunched over to where my boxers lie. Just as I'm nearly there, I put my foot down on a board which creaks loudly.

"OH!" Bella squeals, jolted awake by the sound of the creaking wood. The sound makes me jump. I spin around in her direction, straightening up and banging my head on the ceiling simultaneously.

"OW!" I yell, bending double, both hands clasped over the top of my head. I can do nothing but rock for a moment until the pain subsides.

"JESUS, FUCK, CULLEN! PUT IT AWAY!" a familiar voice booms. I freeze for a moment, and then promptly panic.

"Shit, shit, shit, shit!" My eyes are like those of a deer caught in the headlamps, as my arms and legs jerk, first in one direction and then the other, not knowing what to do first. I move away from the window-like space that I hadn't even realized I was standing in front of with my bare ass on view and scramble around for the rest of my clothes, picking up items belonging to Bella and casting them quickly aside.

I raise my head as I'm yanking on my jeans, and see Bella watching me, sitting with the comforter wrapped around her and an amused expression on her face.

"What?" I snap at her. She drops her head and giggles. I lower my voice to a harsh whisper. "I don't think you realize just what we're about to be faced with here. Any second now…" I trail off as I hear a strange, rhythmic metallic noise getting closer.

"Relax, Edward," she tells me. "We raised the ladder, remember?" I stop for a moment and my eyes rest on the folding ladder inside the tree-house. I sigh with relief. She opens her mouth in a wide yawn and stretches her arms above her head. As she does so, fuck me, if the comforter doesn't slide down below her beautiful breasts, her nipples hardening as the air hits them. I feel something of my own hardening at the sight, and I watch in rapture as she lowers her arms, not moving to pull the comforter back up once she sees the expression on my face.

"Well, well, well, this is cozy!"

Bella screams and I jump again, banging my head in the same place as Emmett's face appears through the hole in the floor. "Nice love nest, Cullen!"

"Fucking hell, McCarty!" I spit, frantically rubbing my head as Bella snatches the comforter back up and holds it tightly around her. "What the fuck, man?"

His deep, booming laugh fills the small space.

"Ooh, and a good time was had by all I see?" he teases, his hand coming into view, holding onto his long-handled pruning saw. He reaches in with it, and snags the used condom from the previous night on the end of the blade. "Want me to dispose of this for you, Cullen?" He's grinning at me.

"Give me that, you sick fuck!" I say angrily, stepping forward and snatching it off the end of the saw. I bunch it in my hand and shove it in my pocket, trying not to show any sign that the rubber has ripped on the saw and the contents are now smeared all over my hand. I try to wipe it discreetly on the fabric as I withdraw my hand from my pocket.

My eye falls on the ladder that is still folded up inside the tree-house.

"Wait! How the fuck did you get up here anyway?" I demand. He looks ridiculously pleased with himself now, a smug smile on his face.

"You may well ask, Eddie," he says waggling his eyebrows. The fucker knows I hate my name being shortened and he's trying to antagonize me on purpose. "Feast your eyes on these babies!"

Emmett disappears back down the trapdoor and out of view. He shouts my name and I move across to the window to see what the fuck he's talking about. I snort loudly. Granted, not as loudly as Bella did while she was snoring earlier, but loud enough to cause her to make her way over, still clutching the comforter around her.

"Em. What the fuck are you wearing, man?" I ask him. All my previous feelings about his presence this morning are over-ridden by the fact that I've never been more amused. I can feel my laughter building and I'm sure I won't be able to hold it back for too much longer now.

"These…" he begins, pausing for dramatic effect. "Are my Articulating Dura Stilts." He's looking at me, pride written all over his face as he expertly shifts his weight to keep his balance.

"So," I say. "Does this mean you're quitting to join the circus?" Instead of laughing, his face drops and he looks affronted.

"Cullen, these are designed specifically for professionals like us." I roll my eyes.

"I know what they are, asshole, but people tend to use them instead of stepladders. In case you hadn't noticed, we've never yet needed a stepladder to work on trees like these." I gesture to the giant specimens surrounding us.

"Oh." He looks crestfallen. "Well, that's a fucking shame, because I've learned all this cool shit you can do on them," he tells me, brightening a little more. "Hey, watch this!"

He swings one of his stilts up in front of him, brings it back down, and then does it again, a little higher. I turn to Bella.

"I'm so fucking sorry about him he's…." I shrug, unable to find suitable words and offer her an apologetic smile. She smiles back.

"That's ok, he's kind of funny…in a special kind of way," she says. I raise my eyebrows. "That's 'speshul' with an s-h-u-l," she clarifies, and I laugh. We share a look, and as corny as it sounds, it's almost as though something passes between us. We lean in towards each other and I lift my hand to her face. I look into her eyes and feel my heart rate increase as she looks down at my lips and licks her own.

"SHIIIIIIT!" Emmett's voice booms.

We whip our heads round just in time to see him staggering around desperately trying to keep his balance, a string of profanities spewing from his mouth.

"Oh my God!" Bella sputters, covering her mouth as her giggles build. Seeing her reaction encourages my own laughter, which fills the air.

He manages to get close enough to a branch to grab a hold of it to steady himself. Once he's got his balance, he tries to move again, but he's managed to get himself in one of the deepest patches of mud on the site, churned up by trucks and other heavy equipment and can't get his stilts clear of it. Bella and I are almost bent double, and the laughter is verging on painful.

"FOR FUCK'S SAKE CULLEN! CAN I GET A HAND OVER HERE?" Emmett is clinging onto the branch looking pretty fucking desperate. I decide that I'd better go and try and help him. We duck our heads back through the window.

"I think I should go and rescue him," I tell her. "I'll be right back." I lean forward and press my lips to hers briefly.

"Ok," she says softly, smiling at me. "Bye."

I lift the trap door and let the ladder down. I half climb & half jump to the ground, unable to suppress my smile as I approach Emmett, noting how his pissed expression increases in direct relation to the width of my smile. I stop at the edge of the worst of the mud and fold my arms, trying to look serious. I shake my head.

"Uh…I don't know, Em, this mud looks pretty deep, I'm not sure I can reach you."

"Stop being such a fucking pansy, Cullen, and get your ass over here!"

"It might be better to tow you out with the truck; you look pretty well stuck there."

Emmett's face is growing redder and redder; he actually looks like he may explode. I take pity on him and hold my hands up in surrender. "Ok, ok. I'll try." I wade out into the mud, which is a good few inches deep, but not as bad as I thought. When I get to him, I reach up and unfasten the straps that are holding his feet to the stilts. Once I've done it I stand back a little so he can jump down to the ground. I'm still feeling a little pissed at his interruption this morning, and I see my opportunity for payback. As he jumps into the air, I stretch out and knock one of his legs slightly, ruining his landing. He sprawls forward, face first into the mud.

"Hey, sorry man, I was just trying to catch you!" I tell him, spinning around and heading back to the tree-house before he can turn on me. As soon as I have my back to him, the laughter escapes.

I am still laughing to myself as I open up the trap door.

"Hey Bella, you'll never fucking guess what..." I stop mid sentence as I realize the tree house is now empty. The purple comforter and blanket are still here, but the warm body that was occupying them is nowhere to be seen. How the fuck did she manage to get down from here without either me or Emmett noticing? Him and those fucking stilts, that's how!

Damn!

I don't want to leave things like this. I don't really know what I want exactly, but to experience a night like we had and leave without saying anything at all, well it just seems fucking wrong.

"Shit!" I curse loudly, to no one in particular. There's not much I can do now, so I grab my harness and head back down to join Emmett.

"What's up man? You look like somebody just stole all your tools!" Emmett asks as I descend the ladder.

"Nothing." I snap. It's not exactly Emmett's fault but his unexpected appearance this morning

certainly hasn't helped matters.

"Hey, don't get snippy with me Princess!" I shoot him a dirty look.

"She's fucking gone Em! You and your charming personality scared her off." He has the decency to look a little apologetic at least.

"Sorry man. Who was she anyway and how the fuck did you end up in a tree?" It's a fair question, but I'm not sure I want to reveal everything about last night.

"She's the Chief of Police's daughter, you know, the guy who died."

"And you ended up having sex with her in a tree-house because..." He raised his eyebrows expectantly. Yeah, when he put it like that any explanation was going to sound pretty fucking lame.

I rubbed my hand over my eyes, trying to work out what to say.

"I found her up there, she was sobbing and..."

"Oh nice Cullen, take advantage of an emotional girl"

"Hey, It wasn't like that! She started it, I tried to say no." He burst out laughing at that, I guess with my past I couldn't really blame him.

"Sure you did!" He said after he'd calmed down.

"It's true, I swear. She wanted to take her mind of things for a while."

"Whatever man. Are you gonna see her again?" I have no fucking idea, Em!

"I don't know. Judging by the way she left this morning, I guess probably not." I didn't want to think about this anymore for the time being, so I tried to steer the conversation towards work.

"So besides showing off your new toys, why were you down here this morning?"

"Oh," he replied, thankfully letting the other conversation go. "James wants some of these trees cleared next, I was just checking out what needs doing." Oh fuck, not Bella's tree! After everything she told me last night I'd decided to see if James would keep this tree standing, it held so many memories after all. Looks like I might be too late.

"Do you think we could get him to save this tree and clear some of the others instead?" It was still worth a try.

"Maybe," he eyed me curiously. "What the fuck for though? Don't tell me you have grown attached to your little love nest?" As he stood there waiting for an answer I decided just to tell him everything we had talked about last night. I would need his help if I was going to convince James to slightly alter his plans.

"Fuck man! I knew James was a dick but trying to buy her house straight after the funeral is fucking low, even for him!" Emmett felt the same as I did when I told him what James had done.

We were on our way to his site office to persuade him to save the tree, I didn't hold out much hope, but I had to at least ask. I felt something with Bella during our night together and I want to do this one small thing for her, even if I never get to see her again. Unfortunately James had other plans.

"No. There's no way I'm changing the plans. We're behind enough as it is. That tree and all those around it are going!" James is a stubborn fuck and refuses to listen to anything we have to say. I tell him about the tree-house, how it was built by the ex-Chief of Police and how it might be seen as a good thing by the locals if we do this for his daughter.

"Miss Swan?" he asks. "You want me to do this as a favor for her?"

"Yes, her dad built the tree-house." James looks at me and Emmett and laughs.

"No fucking way! I want to buy that bitch's land, not give her more!" I flinch at his words, trying desperately not to lose my shit at him speaking about Bella that way. "I want those trees cleared by the end of the week!" He rises from behind his desk, walks over to the door and holds it open.

"Now if that's all, I believe you two have work to do." We walk out the door and hear it slam behind us.

"Sorry Edward. I know you wanted to help her out, but there's really nothing we can do," Emmett says, slapping me on the back. As I nod my head in agreement with him, I suddenly have a fucking brilliant idea!

"Come on Emmett, we may not be able to save the whole tree, but I have an idea how to keep some of it! We'll need the truck." I march off to get everything we will need, with a confused but nonetheless willing Emmett following behind.

"So tell me again," Emmett shouts up to me as I hand him yet another numbered piece of wood. "Why exactly are we doing this?" By 'this' he means dismantling Bella's tree-house, piece by numbered piece, so that it can easily be rebuilt somewhere else.

"I just want to do something nice for her. We can't save the tree, but we can save the tree-house that her dad built. She can take it with her back to Seattle if she wants, whatever, but at least it won't get destroyed." I carry on, gently separating the pieces of wood, as I hear Emmett mutter something beneath me that sounds very much like 'pussy whipped'.

"You know, you're going to an awful lot of trouble for someone you might not see again," he tells me. I know he has a point, but it just feels like the right thing to do. "I mean," he carries on. "Who's to say she'll even remember who you are when she eventually gets around to putting this thing back together?"

"Fuck! You're absolutely fucking right Em," I complain. I am suddenly struck by another brilliant idea. Must be something I ate! "I'm going to leave her a note."

"A what?" he asks incredulously. "Are you insane? You can't leave a piece of paper. It'll rot!"

I am tempted to hit him over the head with the plank of wood I am holding.

"Of course not a piece of paper, I'm not stupid!"

"Well on what then?" He's still looking dumbfounded.

"I'm going to leave it on the wood. When she unpacks all this lot, it will be the first thing she sees."

"And how the fuck are you going to do that?" Oh ye of little faith Emmett!

"With this!" I whip out my trusty black Sharpie from my back pocket, the one that I just numbered all the pieces of wood with. Emmett stares at me like I really have lost my mind this time, and then bursts out laughing.

"Are you fucking serious man?" Ok, it may not be the best way to leave her a note, but it will definitely work and it's all I have at this point.

"Yeah. Look, it worked just fine for numbering the wood, so it'll work for a note too."

I climb down from the tree and pick up the trap door from the pile of wood on the floor. I take my Sharpie and in my best handwriting, I write her name. Bella.

"Okay, it works," Emmett relented, leaning over my shoulder. "But, wouldn't it be easier to just go and see her?" I guess he has a point, but I'm not really sure what I want to say to her.

"When we've packed all this up, we can go and drop it by her place okay? I'll talk to her then. Maybe. I'm still leaving the note though." I want to leave a little something of me behind to remind her. I'm not entirely fucking sure why, but I don't want her to forget. I know just what to put and don't waste any more time discussing it. Emmett looks at me and shakes his head, muttering under his breath again, before carrying on his work.

It takes us another couple of hours to finish dismantling the tree-house. It is now all packed up and sitting in the back of my truck, the trap door lying at the top, message-side down. As we climb in, ready to make the drive to Bella's dad's house, the rest of the team show up. I wave a hello to them; they must be here to start clearing this area. We finished just in time it seems. It's a shame to see such an old tree destroyed, but at least we managed to salvage something. I climb in and slam the door shut

"Come on, let's go," I say to Emmett, as I start the engine and drive off.

We reach Chief Swan's house and I spot an old red truck parked outside. Pulling into the driveway we park next to it. The truck appears to be half filled with belongings, I guess someone is leaving. As we get out, a tall, well-built man comes out of Bella's house. He appears to be in his late forties or early fifties, his black hair peppered with grey.

"Can I help you?" he asks, looking us up and down with a questioning glare.

"Yeah, um…I'm looking for Bella; I have a delivery for her. Is she in?"

"No, I'm afraid she's gone to the police station. Can I help? I'm Jacob Black, a friend of her late father." He reaches out his hand and I shake it.

"Edward Cullen. We're working on the new development." He frowns, but nods his head.

"Yeah I know who you are. I don't think you will be working on it for much longer though." His features even out into a knowing smile. I smile myself as I realize she must have taken her dad's evidence to the police. Go Bella!

"Well, we have something for her." I beckon Mr. Black over to the back of my truck and gesture to the four piles of neatly bound wood. "It's the tree house her father built. We salvaged it before they cut the tree down and thought that maybe she could take it back to Seattle with her." His face breaks out a large grin and he claps me on the back, hard. I try not to stumble forward, hearing sniggering from inside my truck. Fucking Emmett.

"She'll be very grateful I'm sure. Why don't you come in and wait for her to get back?" I am about to answer him when my phone starts ringing. I look at the screen and am surprised to see Carlisle's name flash up. I apologize and take the call.

"Carlisle?"

"Edward, the Royce development has been shut down indefinitely, something to do with illegal planning approvals. James isn't taking the news well, and is making all sorts of threats. I want you to wrap things up immediately and get the team and all our equipment out of there."

Shit. That was fucking fast!

"Okay, I'm headed back to the site now. I'll let you know when we are packed up and on our way back." We said our brief goodbyes and hung up.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Black."

"Jacob, please."

"I'm sorry,Jacob. That was my boss. It seems the site's being shut down and we need to pack up and leave, immediately. Can you tell Bella we'll stop by later?"

"Well, she's leaving for Seattle as soon as she gets back from the police station."

Fuck.

We'll never pack up everything and get back here before she leaves. I guess the note will have to fucking do after all.

"We won't make it back in time then, I'm afraid. Is there somewhere we can leave this?" I ask, looking over to the wood.

"Why don't we transfer it straight into Bella's truck? I think she's more or less done packing," Jacob replies and starts to lift one of the piles. With Emmett's and my help, we have it all moved over in no time.

"Right, we need to head out," I tell Jacob. "It's nice to have met you, Jacob." I walk over and shake his hand.

"Likewise," he replies. "I'll be sure to tell Bella you stopped by."

I hop back in my truck and we leave to round up the rest of the team and start packing. I know I was apprehensive about seeing Bella again, but now that it's no longer an option I am really fucking disappointed. I bang my hand on the steering wheel in frustration, just hoping that she doesn't wait too long to put up that tree house.

It's been three weeks since we left the disaster that was the James Royce development. We had a bit of trouble getting all our equipment out and Royce threatened us with all sorts of lawsuits if we didn't stay to finish the job. Thankfully, a call from Carlisle to the local police sorted everything out.

From what I hear, he and Victoria are still under investigation.

I am just finishing up for the day in our Seattle office when my phone rings. I retrieve it from my back pocket and check the number. It's not one I recognize and I debate whether or not to answer with it being so late in the day; I just want to get home. With a sigh I reluctantly answer it.

"Cullen."

"Edward?" My breath hitches as a familiar voice fills my ear.

"Yes," I manage to get out, a warm feeling settling in my stomach.

"It's Bella. I got your note. The answer is yes."