a/n: I apologize for taking so long... for those of you that are still with me: here you go.

When we finally make it to the house, we both make our way around the bedroom, easing off our clothes and slipping into our pajamas: me in my boxer-briefs and Bella in her white wife-beater and white boy-shorts. I crawl into bed before Bella and lay on my side facing her side of the bed. A moment later she joins me, climbing into her side of the bed while pushing her back into my front and pulling my arm around her waist.

I kiss the top of her head and then tell her, "Goodnight, Love."

"Goodnight, Edward," she takes a deep breath and then sighs, "I love you."

"I love you, too," I whisper and pull her impossibly closer to me.

Ch 8 – Waking up


As I slowly wake up I stretch out my arms and legs, rolling onto my side in the process. I yawn quietly and open my eyes to see Bella's sweet face turned slightly towards me. Her hands are above her head and her dark brown hair is strewn about her pillow in wild disarray. Her face is calm and at peace; a stark contrast to the wild cloud of dark hair that surrounds her. Bella is so beautiful that it takes my breath away.

A strangling lump rises in my throat when I think about what happened last night. Last night was hard for both of us. When we came home from dinner we both were ready to fall into bed and into each other. But, we both were adult enough and tired enough to know that we needed to take things a bit slower than what we had initially. She told me she loved me last night. She hasn't said that to me in such a long time and I have to wonder if it was out of tired habit or if she is really feeling it.


Things between us are so complicated that I feel like I need to be very, very careful. I am walking a very precarious line between what Bella needs me to be and how I really feel. And I wonder, just for a moment, how long I will be able to keep this up? Am I really capable of being the man she needs long term? What is she going to do if I can't? Because I'm pretty sure that the asshole who drove her away will make a reappearance… and what then?

I scrub my face with the palms of my hands and sigh, wanting to put that thought out of my mind. I ease my way out of bed trying not to wake Bella. We are supposed to go and finish our Christmas shopping today. I'm not looking forward to being out amongst throngs of crazy people, but I am looking forward to spending more time with Bella.

I quietly make my way to the kitchen and flip on the coffee maker and then set about making Bella breakfast in bed. I open the refrigerator and pull out all of the ingredients to make a couple of omelets: eggs, bacon, red bell pepper, green onions and mushrooms. I throw the bacon in the microwave while I sauté the pepper and onions in some butter. Once they are ready I add the mushrooms, turn down the heat and put the lid over the pan. As the time on the microwave counts down, I beat eight eggs in a bowl and wait for the other ingredients to finish up. Once the bacon is finished, I wrap it up in some paper towel, trying to get as much grease out of it as I can, and then crumble it up into pieces while dropping the bits into the beaten eggs. I finally add the veggies into the mix and then pour it all back into the skillet. It doesn't take long for the eggs to cook, but I watch them carefully, not wanting to burn our breakfast. I dash away quickly to pour us each a cup of coffee. Mine is black while Bella's has so much sugar and milk in it that it can barely be called coffee. With that finished, I head back to the eggs. They are, of course, ready and I can't help but smile at my timing this morning… so far… so good.

I plate the eggs and set them on the counter as I pull the breakfast tray out of the pantry. I set the food, a couple of forks and napkins, and the coffee on the tray, wishing I had a flower or something to add. Out of the corner of my eye I see the flowers that I bought Bella last night sitting on the kitchen table. I snatch one of the smaller buds out of the vase and set it the tray next to Bella's plate, pick up the tray and head back to the bedroom.

I'm relieved to find Bella still sleeping. She has moved into the middle of my king-size bed and is lying on her stomach, arms and legs sprawled all over the place. I set the tray down on the large, wood dresser that sits against the wall on Bella's side of the bed and then ease up onto the bed next to her. She is sound asleep and breathing heavily. I lean down to kiss her awake only to find her face is completely veiled by her hair. I find myself smiling as I reach down, taking my time to be gentle, and rearrange the errant strands of thick hair away from her face. I linger for a moment watching her breathe. As if it's on auto-pilot, my hand cups her soft, smooth cheek and I watch my thumb move slowly across the apple of her cheek. Bella's breathing hitches and her lips purse just a bit. I'm tempted to just sit here and watch her sleep, but our breakfast is getting cold and nobody likes cold eggs.

"Bella," I say quietly, trying to wake her. "Wake up, Love." She moans quietly, making me grin widely at her. "Come on, sweet girl," I chuckle and smooth her hair all the way off her face. She leans into my hand and then, taking me completely by surprise, her eyes pop wide open. "Good morning," I grin.

Bella offers me a weak smile, rolls onto her back and then throws her arms up over her head and proceeds to arch her back up off the bed, shoving her white tank covered tits in my face, as she stretches her arms and legs out away from her, with a breathy, "Uuungghhh," that makes my dick twitch in my boxers. I fight off the urge to pull her tight little body against mine by jumping out of the bed as fast as possible and grabbing the tray off of the dresser and then turning back to face her.

She's sitting up in the bed, looking up at me with her sleepy brown eyes. She reaches out with both hands for the tray and says, "You made breakfast," with a hungry growl.

"I did," I smile back at her and I lean down and help her settle the tray over her legs, while she leans back and rearranges the pillows behind her. Her body is angled towards me while she shifts the pillows with her arms and I can see her tight nipples push against the fabric of her thread-bare wife-beater and… "fuck," I mutter under my breath.

Bella's head whips back around to face me, "What?" she asks and looks up with her brow knitted with concern, "What's wrong?"

I clear my throat and offer a feeble, "Nothing." While making eye-contact with her and then dramatically looking down at her still hard nipples, I can't help but offer her my crooked grin. "Are you a little cold?"

Taking the hint, Bella glances down at her chest and then looks back up at me with a grin spread across her perfect lips. "Not really," she laughs, "are they bothering you or something?" she teases in return.

She's still smiling at me as I sit down beside her on the bed and then turn myself a bit to face her. I lean forward and kiss her gently on the cheek, whispering a soft, "or something," as I ease back from her. I dare a glance at Bella's face trying to gauge her reaction and I can't help but be pleased with what I see. Her cheeks are flushed a sweet shade of pink, while her beautiful brown eyes are wide and dilated. I smile at the sound of her taking a deep breath and she looks away from me, to the tray that is sitting above her extended legs, she exhales, reaches forward for her coffee and takes a slow, sure pull from the warm mug. I can't help but feel a sense of relief as I take my plate and fork from the tray and sit it on my lap, hoping to hide my semi-hard erection. It's nice to know that I'm affecting her as much as she is affecting me.

Bella takes her first bite of her omelet and groans softly, "Mmmm… this is so good." She takes another large bite and, for a few minutes, we eat in companionable silence. I catch Bella taking sideways glances at me in between bites and I can't help but smile.

When she catches me catching her she lets out a little giggle. "What's so funny?" I ask her, fighting to keep my grin at bay, trying not to laugh myself.

"Nothing," she mumbles over a mouth full of eggs.

I gently poke her in the ribs, "Spill it… what's so funny?"

Bella holds up her finger asking for a minute to finish chewing and then turns a bit to face me, "I was just thinking that, well… if feels like we are back at the beginning."

"What do you mean?" I ask a bit puzzled.

"Well, here we are together… in your bed and we both are all tentative and shit. It's like we are both trying so hard to say and do the right thing. To not mess up, I guess. I mean, hell, you used to do the breakfast in bed thing for me all the time and then once you got me to move in with you it all stopped." Bella pauses for a minute and then waves her hands dramatically over the tray and the laughs, "And look, here we are."

"Would you rather me not have made you breakfast?" I ask a little offended and a lot confused. "I just wanted to do something nice for you that's all," I tell her quietly as I look down to my hands that are sitting in my lap.

"Hey," she says quietly and when her hand comes to rest on top of mine I look up at her, "I didn't mean… hell," she sighs, grabs my plate off the bed and sets it on her tray and then pushes the tray down towards the end of the bed. Unsure of what she's going to do next, I stay still. Once she has the tray where she wants it she spins around on all fours to face me.

I take a deep breath and stare into her eyes as she crawls her way up the bed and over my legs. She straddles me and her hands come to rest on my shoulders. "Baby," she sighs and then drags her fingernails up my shoulders and neck and into the back of my hair sending chills out all over my body. "I love it that you made me breakfast in bed and I love it that we are both trying." She gives me light kiss and lingers for a moment, "I'm just scared," she whispers and then kisses me again.

I wrap my arms around her tiny waist and push myself up against her heat. Bella lets out a small whimper and I can't help but smile against her lips. I pull her back so I can look into her eyes and rub her arms and back trying to be reassuring. "I'm scared, too," I admit, "and I don't want to fuck this up, again. More than anything I want you back in my life and I just know that I'm going to say or do something that is going to fuck it all up."

"Edward," she begins, but I quickly place a finger on her lips, asking her to be quiet for just another moment. She smiles and licks my finger and I can't help but smile back.

"Listen, Bella, I have to know… What's going to happen when I fuck up? Because it is only a matter of time before I do. Are you just going to walk away and head back to London or what? It fucking killed me when you left," I shake my head trying to stay calm and then I whisper, "and I don't know if I could handle you leaving me like that again."

I let my hand fall from her mouth down to her bare thigh as I continue to look into her eyes. She's on the verge of tears and it's almost a relief to know that she feels something and I'm hoping that it's something similar to how I'm feeling. She blinks once, twice and then a tear falls down her cheek. Before I can reach up to wipe the tear away, she leans forward and rests her head on my shoulder, turning her face towards my neck so that her nose sits at the hollow of my throat. I wrap my arms around her and rub her back, trying to be reassuring.

"I love you, Edward," she whispers. "Leaving you was the hardest thing I've ever done and I don't want to do it again. As long as we both are trying, I'm not going anywhere. And I know it's hard and we are both going to make mistakes and I'm willing to try and work through them. But, you have to know what's a deal breaker for me." Bella sits back up and looks me square in the eye and takes my face into her hands, "I'm not your property and I won't be taken for granted. The minute you begin assuming that you can tell me what to do and you stop treating me like an equal is the minute I walk."

I swallow hard, not sure what to say. So, I lean in and kiss her. It starts gentle, but her hands go back into my hair and she's on my lap and fuck, I want more… so much more. My hands fall to her hips and I squeeze, pulling her towards me. Her lips part just slightly and I take full advantage, pushing my tongue into her mouth and against hers. Bella begins grinding her hips against my already hard cock as I knead her hips and ass. Bella rips her mouth away from mine and starts kissing and licking her way down my neck while working her way down my body. Before I know what's happening, Bella reaches down and pulls my hard-on from boxers and begins stroking me and then begins to reposition herself further down between my thighs. I can't help but watch as she licks the underside of cock, starting at the base and working her way to the head. I moan loudly when she takes me into her warm mouth and her eyes immediately shoot up to mine and I almost cum right there. As Bella sucks me down and I feel the head of my cock hit the back of her throat, I close my eyes and fist the blankets with both hands, while thinking of dead cats to stave off blowing my load.

A loud crash somewhere in the bedroom snaps us both back to reality. Bella immediately sits up and looks behind her, my erection still in her hand. "What the hell was that?" I gasp.

Bella looks back to me with an enormous grin plastered on her face, "I think we might need a new tray," she laughs. Her hair has fallen around her face and shoulders in a magnificent crown of wavy, mahogany, her cheeks are flushed and her eyes are dancing with the excitement of the moment.

And she's just fucking beautiful.

On impulse, I lean down, grab her arms and pull her up to me, kissing her hard once I have her in my lap. She takes the hint and begins to move herself against my length which is now between the two of us. The friction is nice, but I want inside her. I squeeze her ass and pull away from her mouth only to nip at her neck on my way to her ear.

"You are so fucking beautiful," I groan while thrusting my hips up and against her heat.

Bella lets out chuff, and then tries to call me on what she thinks is bullshit, "You're just saying that because I just had your cock in my mouth," she teases and then grinds herself harder against me.

In an instant, I let go of her perfect ass and hold her face between my hands, forcing her to look into my eyes. I shake my head, "No, right now, with your hair wild, your God-damn blush and your eyes on fire…"never breaking eye-contact, I brush her lips softly with mine, "… YOU are absolutely beautiful."

Just as the words leave my mouth Bella crashes her mouth into mine and we become frantic. I push the crotch of her boy shorts to the side as she takes my now throbbing erection into her hand. She lifts up onto her knees a bit and shifts the head of my cock between her lips. I hiss into her mouth as her hot, wet heat surrounds me. Bella pivots her hips while I begin pushing up into her. And I know that, as tight as I am wound, it's not going to take very long for me to cum.

We find our hard, steady rhythm and just as I start to feel like I'm not going to cum, Bella reaches between us and begins to play with her clit. I glance down at her hand and feel her fingers glide around my cock and her pussy squeezes me tightly, "Fuck, Bella," I groan, "please tell me your close."

"Yeah, baby… so close," she groans. She swivels her hips, grinding against me and then I feel it… she begins to quiver and shake from the inside out. I push and pull… once… twice … and then I'm following her blindly into my own orgasm.

a/n: Sorry this one is so short. But, I felt the need to give you something... and at least there is a lemon ;0)

I wish I could say that I've been busy writing, but I can't...

I wish I could say that I now have an update schedule, but I don't...

What I can say is that I am not giving up on this story... I have realized that my goals for chapter size were unrealistic and that I will have to have more chapters than originally planned. That goal was indvertantly bogging me down and making this story very daunting to write.

To everyone that has stayed with me: I really appreciate your patience and please continue to bear with me.