Pick-A-Pic Challenge

Title: Mr. Cullen's Conundrum

Penname: ShirleynLaverne

Banner: #95

Rating: M for language

Disclaimer: We don't own Twilight. If we did, we would be on an island somewhere sipping cocktails and writing together, instead of being on opposite sides of the globe...

Summary: The hardest thing in life is to watch the one you love, love someone else, but that is exactly what Mr. Cullen must do. Can Edward sit on the sidelines and allow happiness to the one he loves most - his own flesh and blood? Or will he be selfish and take what he wants, no matter the cost. Because, after all, the forbidden fruit always tastes the sweetest.

To see all of the stories that are a part of this contest please visit: www . fanfiction-challenges . blogspot . com


Hey y'all!

So here it is, our first collab! We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it.

Many thanks and love to our fantastic beta kyla713 for her kick ass betaing skills! :D

Huge smooches also to our pre-readers lavishone, SammieLynnsMom and Ardanwen. Your help was invaluable, and this story wouldn't be as pretty with your advice and help. So thank you :)


Edward POV:

"Dad, Bella's coming over for dinner tomorrow night..."

Eight Words.

Eight simple words were all it took for my world to come to a screeching halt; for the hot water of the shower that I was currently standing under to turn to icicles running down my body.

My son was bringing his girlfriend home for the first time.

Being a father, I should have been ecstatic that my son was finally serious enough about a girl to want to bring her home to meet me. But I was anything but happy. Truth be told, I was fucking terrified.

Yes, this would be the first time that I had been officially introduced to Isabella, but it was far from the first time I had seen her…

One month earlier…

"Riley, are you home?" I called as I entered the house, closing the door behind me.

I didn't hear a reply, but as I threw my keys on the hall table, I heard the running water upstairs and guessed that he was probably in the shower.

Flicking through the mail, I walked into the kitchen and loosened my tie before removing it completely and resting it on the back of one of the bar stools. After finding nothing of interest in the mass of envelopes, I walked to the fridge and placed some ice in a tumbler before grabbing a bottle from my secret stash of scotch. Even though Riley was of legal age, this was my favorite liquor. It was rare here in the States and incredibly expensive and I did not want it shared.

I didn't usually make it a habit of drinking after work but today had been, for lack of a better word, completely fucked.

The licensing and finance had fallen through on one of the bigger buildings I had been working on and the whole project had been delayed three months. Even though the design and plans of the building had passed, without the financing, no one would get paid.
I had worked hard my whole life to ensure that I provided the comforts my son and I enjoyed, so it wasn't a matter of money for me, but I'd been wanting to take a personal vacation, and this was how I had planned to fund it.

Taking my glass, I walked to the den and slumped into the couch with a groan. All I wanted to do tonight was watch the game and relax.

"Ri, do you want to order takeout tonight?" I called, as I heard the water shut off and his bedroom door close.

I heard the door creak open and knew that he had heard me.

"Uh, thanks Dad, but I can't. I actually have a date tonight."

"A date," I laughed in response. "Since when?"

I wasn't laughing at the fact that I was surprised that he had a date, as that wasn't the issue at all. I knew for a fact that ladies found my son very handsome, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't proud of it. Riley had inherited my untamable bronze hair and his mother's bright blue eyes. We had been told repeatedly that he had gained each of our best features.

Unfortunately, the one negative aspect he inherited from me was my horrid eyesight, and although I preferred to wear contacts, Riley preferred sleek glasses, stating that the ladies said he looked 'sexy and sophisticated'.

Yeah, my boy was a looker and a charmer.

I was laughing because I was surprised he hadn't told me. I prided myself on the relationship that I had with my son, just like my father prided himself on the relationship he maintained with me. There was nothing that Riley could not speak to me about, and we spoke about anything and everything. So, if I knew my son correctly, I'd say that, for some reason, he was keeping this a secret.

"Oh yeah, it was a… uh, spur of the moment thing."

I stifled my chuckle as I listened to him stutter over his words; proving once again he was as bad a liar as his mother.

For Riley to be home early, showered and dressed before five-thirty, this would've been planned.

This was truly puzzling but I let it go, knowing that if he wanted me to know, he would tell me in his own time.

I blindly reached for the remote on the coffee table, still chuckling when my hand came into contact with something smooth and shiny. Intrigued, I placed my glass on a coaster and leaned over to get a better look, and instantly froze.

There, on my coffee table, was a photo of the most beautiful woman that I had ever laid eyes on. Bringing the photo closer, I felt the breath actually catch in my throat as I took her in. Long milky legs that seemed to go for days that looked impossibly longer in the black, polka dot heels she was wearing. The black corset she was dressed in accentuated her curves beautifully, especially her breasts. Her long mahogany curls fell to her shoulders, contrasting beautifully against her creamy skin, as did her deep-set brown eyes. But the feature that captured my attention were her lips, painted a perfect plum color and pouting so delectably…

I lifted myself from the couch, repositioning myself, as the wood that I was now sporting was rather uncomfortably pressing into my zipper.

Forcing my eyes away from her lips, I took in the entire picture. It was obvious by the way she was positioned that this was some kind of photo-shoot image, but the question was, how did it end up on my coffee table? It certainly wasn't here this morning when I'd had my morning coffee, as I definitely would have noticed…

The only logical answer was Riley; but what was he doing with this photo?

Well, maybe if he did place them here, he would know how to get in contact with the gorgeous wom…

"Dad? What are you doing?" I jumped, as Riley's voice broke my reverie.

"What? Oh, nothing. I was just about to watch the game but found this on the coffee table. Is it yours?" I asked, praying that he would know this girl.

'Yes," he mumbled, as he marched forward and snatched them from my hands.

"Riley!"

"She's my girlfriend," he whispered so softly that I was unsure if I had heard him correctly. I prayed to god that I hadn't.

"Pardon?"

"I said, she's my girlfriend. This is Bella."

Oh fuck…

I looked back down to the picture in his hand and replayed his statement over in my mind. The girl in the picture looked to be quite mature, around thirty if I had to guess, but Riley was only twenty-four, still a boy. What was he doing with such an older woman?

I raised my eyes to his face and felt myself pale as I took in his appearance. There, standing in front of me, was not a boy, but a man. He looked so grown up in his black dress slacks, navy blue Oxford shirt and black dress shoes. He had even attempted to tame the unruly hair that was so similar to my own. I knew going to this amount of trouble and effort meant only one thing; this girl was important.

Girl…

That meant that the girl in the photo would have to be around his age, sixteen years my junior…

I felt myself pale even further as that statement sunk in.

"Dad, are you okay?"

Snapping myself out of it, I forced a smile to my face and tried to appear happy for him.

"Of course, Son. It's just that, you never mentioned that you were seeing anyone, that's all."

Unlike my son and his mother, I was an exceptional liar, and luckily for me, my son bought it.

"Well, it's sort of a new thing, only about a week or so and I guess I just didn't want to 'jinx' it, so to speak. She's beautiful though, isn't she?"

"She is quite attractive, but how old is she…?" The words left my mouth before I could stop them and I internally slapped myself for my lack of brain filter.

"She's a little older," he said quietly and looked down to the floor.

"A little older?" I hedged, secretly hoping that she was quite a few years his senior.

"She's twenty-five."

I felt my heart sink as I realized that this stunning woman was fifteen years my junior.

"She's a part-time model," he said, and I didn't need to look at him to see the smile on his face. I could hear it in his voice.

Of course she is…

"Well, Dad, I had better get going. I don't want to be late."

'Of course not,' my bitter side stated, but I was able to squash it down enough to choke out a 'drive safe.'

"Always, Dad. Don't wait up," Riley called, as I heard him pick up his keys from the rack and the front door close behind him.

Seconds turned into minutes as I remained sitting still on the couch, replaying in my head everything that had just happened.
Realistically, I knew that it didn't matter what her age or profession was; she was my son's girlfriend and therefore, she was strictly off limits.
But that didn't stop me from seeing her behind my eyelids every time I blinked. Riley had taken the picture with him but it didn't matter. It was as though the image of her sitting on that stool, looking at me with those innocent eyes, were tattooed into my brain with permanent ink. I knew that no matter how much I tried, I would never be able to rid myself of that image.

Of course, the first woman that I had actually found attractive in over twenty years was currently dating my son.
I felt a laugh start to build in my chest and before I knew it, I was rolling on the couch howling in laughter at the irony.

What else was there to do but laugh?

About a week later, Riley had asked me to drive him to the college campus, as he wanted to surprise Bella. I had asked how he was planning on getting home, and he had stated that Bella would give him a lift.

I pulled up to the curb and watched as Riley jumped out and waved, but instead of returning home, I felt compelled to wait.

After about ten minutes, I saw a group of women walk to the fountain, before watching Riley walk up behind one and grab her around the waist. I watched as she laughed, turning in his arms and kissing him soundly in greeting.

I knew it was wrong, but for the life of me, I couldn't look away. They waved goodbye to the group and walked, hand in hand, in my direction towards a small blue hatchback and I felt my breath catch in my throat. If possible, she was even more beautiful in life than in print.

Without the layer of make-up, her skin was practically glowing with radiance. And when the sun caught her hair, it reflected hues of red and gold. She was so beautiful that it physically hurt to look at her. Riley pushed her back against the car, caging her with his arms, and as he leant down to whisper in her ear, the most beautiful blush covered her cheeks. Instantly, I felt a very irrational feeling of jealousy, as my cock stiffened in my pants. This was completely absurd; I was jealous of my own son.

I continued to watch and felt every bit the stalker, as her hand reached up and ran through his hair. The sense of loss I felt was indescribable. It should have been my hair to feel the softness of her hands; the gentleness of her touch.

I started the car and abruptly sped away from the curb, my tires screeching as I went. I was so wound up that I automatically went down to the garage and took out my frustration on my punching bag.

That wasn't the only time I had seen Bella Swan. Over the next few weeks, I had seen her on a few occasions but only ever from a distance. Each time, my longing and… feelings for her grew more and more.

This wasn't normal.

What kind of father becomes jealous of his own son?

What kind of forty year old man pines for a twenty-five year old girl?

There was only one thing I could do. I had to banish all thoughts and feelings of this girl from my mind. I would find my special someone eventually, but I refused to lose my son over pining for his.

However, that pact didn't last long, which led me back to my shower, after unwillingly jerking myself off to the image of Bella's pouty lips doing amazing things to my body.

I tried to forget her and move on, I honestly had, but I just couldn't do it. All it had led to was a constant hard on, a serious case of blue balls and me being exceptionally short tempered. So I had made a new pact; I had to allow myself to think, and dream of Bella, as long as I kept it to myself. Yes, I felt every bit the dirty old man that I had become and I knew it sounded ridiculously corny, but I had never felt this way about anyone in my life.

Not Jessica, Riley's mother, who I lost my virginity to when we were sixteen, not Kate, the woman who Jessica set me up with years later because she hated seeing me so lonely, nor any of the other women who had come and gone in my life.

Just because I had these feelings, did not mean I was going to act on them. I would never deliberately hurt my son, and it was very clear that he cared deeply for her. And if I had to pick anyone for my son, I doubt I would have found anyone better than Bella. She seemed like a complete sweetheart. Riley had told me that her family were very religious and did not believe in sex before marriage, and that Bella even wore a purity ring to symbolize her vow.
She seemed beautiful inside and out and she made my boy happy, which was all a father could ever ask for.

I jumped out of the shower, wrapped myself in a towel and headed for my room to get dressed for dinner. I was making Riley's favorite, my special Spaghetti Bolognaise and secretly, I was hoping to make a good impression.

Truth be told, I was terrified of being face to face with her. Of being in her presence for more than a moment and seeing her up close for the first time.

What would she smell like?

Would she have any discernable features that I hadn't noticed from afar?

How would her laugh sound to my ears?

I was petrified that she would see straight through me and call me on my bullshit.

But more than that, I was afraid of having to sit through an entire meal, watching her interact and be happy with my son.

I sighed out loud, allowing myself a moment of pity, before telling myself to suck it up and deal.

I could do this; I would do this.

I would put my personal feelings aside for Riley; the ultimate sacrifice.

I dressed myself in casual jeans and my favorite green Polo shirt, and headed downstairs to start dinner, knowing that tonight would be the biggest test of my life.

/MCC\

Bella POV:

One week earlier…

"Bella, love, you need to calm down," Riley said as we pulled into his mom's driveway. "They're going to love you."

I turned to him incredulous, wondering how he wasnot nervous. Oh yeah. He wasn't nervous because we weren't going to have dinner withmy mom. We were having dinner withhis mom and her wife. I didn't just have to impress one woman; that would be too easy. I had to impress two. What girl wouldn't be nervous?

"Easy for you to say," I mumbled. "She already loves you."

Luckily he didn't hear me, as he was halfway around the car to open my door. I tried to shove my nerves down.

After all, if I could model for strangers, being a charming, appropriate girlfriend shouldn't be that hard, right?

Taking a deep breath, I smiled up at Riley, and allowed him to help me out of the car and lead me up the path. Before we reached to the door, it was opened by a stunning blond woman.

"Hi Lauren," Riley said laughing.

"Oh. My. God. Riley, she's gorgeous. Can I keep her?" the woman squealed, looking me over from head to toe.

I blushed, not expecting such a reaction. "Hi ma'am," I said, while extending my hand to shake hers.

"Now, now. None of that 'ma'am' stuff. It's just Lauren to you, sweetheart," she said, grabbing my hand and pulling me into a hug.

"Oh, alright, um, Lauren. So nice to meet you." I managed through my shock and the force of the embrace.

"Well, let's not waste away out in the sunlight. Jessica is finishing up dinner. Riley, be a doll and give Bella here a tour," Lauren said as she ushered us inside, before disappearing to what I assumed was the kitchen.

I tried to rein in my shock as Riley and I wandered through the house. He showed me the room he slept in when he stayed over, where the bathroom was if I should need it and the living room, before finally leading us out onto the back deck. It was beautifully decorated, and there was a table set for four.

Despite having had several minutes alone with Riley as we wandered through the quaint home, I was still incredibly nervous about dinner. I was about to suggest we make a run for it when another woman, who I assumed to be Riley's mom, chose that exact moment to walk out with a plate of food in each hand.

"Son, be helpful and get the rest of the dishes. Laur doesn't want to break a nail," the woman said with a laugh.

"Oh, I'll help!" I stated and started to follow after Riley.

"Don't be silly, Bella. I got it." He bent in to kiss my cheek, before whispering, "Relax."

"You must be Bella," Jessica said, setting down the dishes. "I'm Jessica, Riley's mom. It's nice to finally meet you as he hasn't shut up about you for the last three weeks."

"Mom, stop it!" Riley protested, clearly having heard us from the kitchen.

"It's true, Bella," she continued, ignoring his pleas. "Every time he'd come over it was all 'Bella this' and 'Bella that.' I was actually surprised when Edward called to ask if I knew he was dating someone. I figured if he talked this much about you here, surely his father had to know."

"Mom, you're talking too much again," Riley commented.

"Oh no, Mrs. Stanley, please go on," I said with a laugh, enjoying him being the uncomfortable one for a change.

"Jessica, please, and I'm telling you, Bella, the boy has been on cloud nine."

"Ain't that the truth!" Lauren exclaimed in a thick Southern accent, as she and Riley finally joined us on the deck. "Riley's always been the quiet, reserved type, but mm mm mm, these past few weeks, he's been looser lipped than a whore at a political convention."

I gasped while Riley dropped the glass of water he'd just picked up.

"Lauren! We have a guest," Jessica stated, scolding her wife.

Lauren winked at me before saying, "I'm sure Miss Bella doesn't mind one bit. Gotta' keep the men on their toes, after all. Riley, grab a towel from the kitchen and wipe that up. It's time to eat supper."

Riley disappeared again, and I started to laugh, feeling the anxiousness leave my body.

"Everything alright?" Jessica asked.

"Everything is just fine. I'm sorry," I explained. "I was so nervous before we got here, and was so afraid I'd say the wrong thing, or that the two of you would just hate me."

"Sugar, where ever did you get that idea?" Lauren asked, her tone softer than before.

"I don't know," I sighed. "Riley's only ever said wonderful things about the both of you. I was just being silly."

"Well, you have nothing to worry about. Riley clearly likes you and that's all that matters to us."

Riley cleared his throat, and awkwardly held up an empty roll of paper towels. "This was all I could find, Mom."

Jessica sighed, shaking her head. "She meant a dish towel. Never mind now, the sun will dry it out soon enough. Let's just eat before the food gets cold."

"Mom, did you remember to make something with meat in it?" Riley asked, picking up his knife fork.

"Now, why in heaven's name would she do a thing like that?" Lauren asked.

"I thought Bella would like it better than…" he trailed off.

"Better than what, Riley? I know you asked but you know how I feel about it," Jessica admonished.

"Mom, Bella's not vegan..."

"Wait, what? You mean to say that you support the slaughter of God's innocent creatures?" Jessica asked, sounding seriously offended.

"Mom..."

"No, Riley, it's totally fine. This all looks great," I interrupted, grabbing the plate of pickled eggplant. "I'm not a picky eater."

"Well, you certainly should be. Do you know what they do to those poor animals?"

"Mom!" Riley yelled. She stopped, looking rather shocked. "Just, drop it, okay?"

The rest of the meal passed in an awkward silence as I tried my best to eat what was served. Some was okay, but the rest was questionable.
Finally, I excused myself to use the restroom. Thankful I kept my phone in my pocket, I pulled it out and texted my best friend and roommate, Rosalie.

OMG I need meat.

I know my name is right next to Riley's, but seriously girl, check before you sext!

ROSE! I'm serious. Can you order in takeout? I'll pay you back when I get home.

What the hell is happening there?

Just, get the meat. I'll explain when I'm home. Hiding in the bathroom currently.

LOL. Isabella Swan. Get your ass back out there and charm them.

Rooooooooooooose, please?

GO!

Fine. Text you when I'm leaving. There better be meat.

I flushed the toilet and washed my hands, before slipping my phone back into my pocket. Rose was going to be a life saver. I took a deep breath and opened the door, intending to go back out to the deck, but stopped when Riley met me in the kitchen, pulling me into a close embrace.

"Everything okay? You were gone awhile," he said.

"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. Something just didn't sit quite right," I replied. It was the truth, mostly.

"Sorry about my mom, she can be passionate about that stuff."

"No, its fine, really. I get it; I'm just not feeling totally hot right now. Think you could take me home? They won't think its rude, right? Oh god, I totally screwed this up, didn't I?" I started rambling.

"Oh, sweetheart. Of course, you didn't." The sudden appearance of Lauren startled me. "You were wonderful. If anything, Riley screwed up."

"What? How did I screw up? Mom's the one who didn't buy any meat."

"Well, for starters, a gentleman always accepts the responsibility. Secondly, after all these years, you should know that I'm the one who does the grocery shopping. And thirdly, you should have explained why ahead of time, warned us that your new girlfriend was not vegan, before the middle of dinner and saved the poor girl and your mother the embarrassment. Do you understand me?"

"Yes ma'am," he replied, looking thoroughly chastised.

Lauren winked at me while Riley's eyes were still downcast, before slipping him twenty bucks. "Don't tell your mom, just go get some ice cream on the way home."

"Don't tell me what?" Jessica asked.

What was it with these women and their ability to be extra sneaky?

"Nothing, sweetheart. Just telling the kids goodnight." Lauren replied.

Jessica didn't look convinced, but didn't say anything else about it.

After some bone crushing hugs, we said our goodbyes and headed to the car. I was still completely embarrassed, but felt justified with my nerves. Jessica and Lauren really were wonderful, but I just wish we'd all gone out for coffee instead of dinner first. Ease into the whole 'Bella eats meat' issue. I pulled my phone out to let Rose know I was on my way home. Riley drove quickly, and the car was eerily silent, neither of us bothering to
turn on the radio.

He pulled up to my apartment and hesitated in turning the car off.

"I'm not mad, and you haven't scared me off, if that's your worry," I offered. "Did you want to come up? Rose, and possibly Emmett, should have takeout waiting."

"Nah, it's cool. I'm tired, and don't feel like getting hell from Rose tonight."

I snorted out a laugh. "Yea, you're probably right. I'll see you later? I have tech rehearsals all week, but we're doing dinner with your dad on Saturday, right?"

"Yeah, I'll pick you up around five."

I leaned across the center console and gave him a kiss, affirming that I really wasn't mad. "I'll call you on my break tomorrow, 'kay?"

He simply nodded - man of many words, that one. I gathered my purse and got out of the car, shutting the door and heading into my apartment.

Sure enough, Rose was waiting - chicken lo mien in hand.

"No Emmett tonight?" I asked, referencing the absence of her boyfriend, as it seemed like Emmett was always around these days. I didn't mind much, he was practically a brother to me now. Plus, he tamed Rose's wild attitude. She was still as brash as ever, but calmer when he was around.

"Nah, I sent him home after he tried to eat your dinner. Speaking of dinner…" she trailed.

I reached for the carton of noodles she held just out of reach. "Food, Rose, I need food." When she pulled the food away again, I lunged. "Give me the noodles, Rosalie." My stomach growled, punctuating my dire need. I loved my best friend, but I wasn't against violence when it came to food.

"Fine. But eat fast, I want details."

I wasted no time inhaling the delicious, greasy, fattening food, moaning in ecstasy as I savored every last mouthful. When I was finished, Rose tossed me a bottle of water and demanded details.

I regaled her with the horrors of the night, and she just laughed. She laughed at me.

"Some best friend you are," I grumbled.

"Oh come on, it's hilarious and you know it. If that happened to me, you'd be laughing your tiny little ass off. I can't believe he didn't warn any of you."

"Yeah, Lauren scolded him, too. We're having dinner at his dad's next weekend," I commented.

"Oh god. Please tell me his dad is vegan, too! I haven't had a laugh this good in ages."

"No, or I don't think so, at least. Riley didn't say. Speaking of boyfriends, what really happened with you and Emmett tonight? I thought after texting you, he'd want to hear all about my misfortunes. More ammo for his relentless teasing."

"Isabella Swan, you know me far too well."

"It's a scary thing, Rose. Believe me."

"Bitch," she said, throwing a cushion at me, which I caught. I hugged it to my chest and quirked an eyebrow, waiting.

"Fine," she sighed. "We just got in a fight, that's all. It was stupid. I'll let him out of the doghouse tomorrow, if he's lucky."

"And I'm the bitch? Well, if you want to talk about it, you know where I am. Otherwise, I'm going to sleep before hell week begins."
I gave her a kiss on the cheek on the way to my bedroom and prayed that I wouldn't have any nightmares about being tortured by vegetables.

The following week was utter madness. Between my usual classes for the MFA program, I was the assistant stage manager for the spring production of 'Kiss Me Kate'. The problem was, not only was it the last show of the year, it was also the senior showcase, so all of the theater divas both in the BFA and MFA programs were in the show; which was too many egos to cater to personally.

Between complaints of "I need more time to change costumes" and "I can't enter from that wing" to "the lighting is affecting my color," I was ripping my hair out. Not to mention that it was also my job to diagnose equipment failures. At one point, I literally shut off my headset for ten minutes and pretended the batteries died for some peace. The head stage manager was pissed, but with the hours we were keeping, it was necessary. I barely had time to think about, let alone spend time with Riley and even Rose was getting annoyed with my hours.

"There's a reason they call it Hell," I told her. "I can't do anything about it, unless you'd rather that I slept on set, too."

As long as the dress rehearsal went well on Friday, we would get a break over the weekend. There had already been three dress rehearsals at the beginning of the week, and I was more than ready for the season to begin. I was looking forward to getting my nights back.

Eventually, it was Friday, the divas had finally pulled it off and we were released for a whole sixty hours. After a short meeting with the director and head stage manager, I headed home and slept soundly until the morning.

When I woke on Saturday morning, I had two missed calls and a text from Riley. I immediately felt bad, as I had forgotten to let him know that I was in fact still free for dinner.

I sent him a quick text before getting ready for the day. Instead of just sitting around being nervous and waiting, I distracted myself by baking a pie; something I hadn't been able to do in a long time. Rose had stocked up at the farmers market earlier that morning and I had all of the ingredients to throw together a cherry pie. I was pulling it out of the oven right as Riley knocked at my apartment door. I set the pie on the cooling rack before going to open the door.

"Hey," I said, beyond happy to see him. "I missed you this week."

"I missed you, too," he replied, hugging me. "What smells so good?"

"Oh, I made a pie for tonight."

"It smells great," he said. "Is it ready to go, or do we need to wait?"

"Just have to put some foil on it," I said, walking back into the kitchen to do just that.

A moment later, I walked back out. The pie was safely in a paper bag and my purse was waiting by the door. Once I made sure I had my keys, I followed Riley out to the car. The drive to his father's house was less stressful than the one the week before and Riley filled me in on what his dad was like.

It was clear they had a solid relationship. His father worked from home as an architect, and had apparently designed the house they now lived in. I knew the general area we were headed to, but I was nowhere near prepared for what we pulled up to. The house was secluded on a hill, surrounded by tall bushes that afforded privacy and blocked the sheer magnitude of the house from view. I knew it was two stories and had a pool, but I was not ready for just how gorgeous the house actually was. I'd only ever dropped him off outside before, and watched him disappear through the wooden door carved out of the shrubbery. It always reminded me of the Secret Garden.
We pulled into the garage this time, and entered the kitchen through an attached laundry room. I could smell the garlic and tomatoes simmering on the stove top long before I saw them.

"Riley?" A man's voice, presumably Mr. Cullen's, called out.

"Yeah, Dad. Bella and I are here."

"I'll be right out. Can you turn off the stove? The sauce should be done." The voice came from somewhere above us.

"Where should I put this?" I asked Riley, as we made our way to the kitchen.

"Anywhere on the counter is fine."

"Where'd the pie come from?" The mystery man's voice asked from behind us now.

If I didn't know any better, I'd swear Riley's entire family consisted of vampires with the soundless way they snuck up on me.

Riley smiled and answered for me as I recovered my wits. "Bella made it."

I turned around and tried to control my breathing from the fright, which proved to be absolutely useless when I saw Mr. Cullen. To say that he was good looking would be an unflattering understatement. The man was gorgeous and I felt my heart rate increase without permission as I took him in. It was clear he was related to Riley. They looked nearly identical, with the same unruly hair, and strong jaw line. If I didn't already know Riley didn't have a brother, I wouldn't have assumed this man was his father. They looked no more than 10 years apart in age.

The one main difference between them, however, was instead of the blue eyes I was accustomed to with Riley, Mr. Cullen's were a piercing, depthless green. And as he looked at me, I had never felt more exposed in my life; those emerald eyes were hypnotic, and they were dangerous.

"You must be Bella," he said, breaking the silence and I forced my eyes to the floor, breaking whatever spell he had placed over me.

"I've been getting that a lot lately," I laughed awkwardly.

"Your photographs do not do you justice."

My eyes snapped up to see Mr. Cullen's eyes widen and look momentarily confused.

"Dad!" Riley exclaimed.

"Photographs?" I asked. "I'm sorry, Mr. Cullen, but what photographs are you talking about?"

Mr. Cullen looked stunned, he started to speak but Riley cut him off.

"It must have been the pictures Rosalie emailed me up on my computer."

"No, Riley, these were professional looking ones. The ones that were on the coffee table a few weeks ago."

"Riley?" I asked, with my eyebrow raised. "What photos?"

He looked sheepish, but answered. "Remember the shoot you did with Laurent for his new fashion magazine?"

I nodded, waiting for him to continue.

"I may have asked him for a couple of prints."

"Riley! We weren't even dating when he took those!" I could feel my cheeks heating up before Mr. Cullen cleared his throat.

"Well, regardless, Bella, you are lovely. My son is a very lucky man."

I felt my blush deepen as my gaze once again fell to the floor.

Was I doomed to have awkward dinners with Riley's parents for as long as we would be together? Because I might actually die from embarrassment.

I mean, hello, Riley's dad had seen photos of me; and not just 'out with friends' photos, but some of the more… risqué stuff.

That was so not me – not usually. The modeling just paid for school.

God, he must think I'm some kind of floozy!

Realistically, I know I shouldn't care. I mean, Riley knows the truth and besides, it's just his dad. But goodness, his dad is fucking gorgeous. And I…

Wow. No, Bella. Stop. Focus.

Stop thinking like that about the hot specimen of man in front of you. Right, he is a man; a much older man and…boyfriend. Not to make the moves on his father!

Boyfriend. You are here with your

Although, I bet I could make a damn good move on Mr. Cullen...

Oh my God, snap out of it Bella! What are you talking about? The only moves you've ever made were on Garrett in the third grade and that consisted of running away on the playground during recess!

Fantastic, now I'm arguing with myself. Composure, Bella, find your composure...

"Bella?" Riley's question brought me out of my fog.

"Sorry, what? Oh, right. Ah, thank you, Mr. Cullen. Shall we eat? Dinner smells delicious," I said, and even to my ears, I sounded flustered.

"Oh, um, yes. Of course. Dinner. Spaghetti. Salad. Food," Mr. Cullen stammered, almost as badly as I had.

"Dad, are you okay?" Riley asked.

He pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath before answering. "Just a long day working, I apologize for not being completely present. Pressing deadlines and such. Let's move to the dining room"

I bet something is pressing his deadline… I thought before mentally scolding my vulgar train of thought again. Following after Riley, I tried to shake those thoughts from my mind.

What the hell was wrong with me tonight?

Granted Mr. Cullen was insanely good looking. He had this perfectly sculpted jaw line, just the hint of stubble, was wearing jeans that hugged his ass perfectly... But regardless, I was dating his son. I shouldn't have such dirty thoughts.

Riley pulled a chair out for me when we reached the table, and I could have sworn that Mr. Cullen made a move to reach for the chair, too. The men disappeared back into the kitchen to fetch the various dishes, and I turned my purity ring around in my fingers to not only pass the time, but to remind myself that I was acting crazy.

After helping myself to generous portions of noodles, salad and garlic bread, we all dug in and as I took my first bite, I couldn't help the moan that escaped.

"This is the most delicious sauce I have ever tasted. Seriously, I need the recipe, Mr. Cullen," I demanded between bites.

"Please, call me Edward. Mr. Cullen makes me feel so, old…"

"Okay, Edward," I replied and watched as he shifted in his chair, probably trying to get comfortable.

Riley laughed, "Slow down, Bella. The food isn't going anywhere."

"With the schedule I've been keeping, food was a rarity. Making up for lost time," I explained.

Soon, we fell into a comfortable silence, the three of us eating heartily, only speaking when something needed to be passed across the table. When I had my fill, I stretched my legs out under the table before crossing them once more. My foot rested against what I thought was the table leg, until Mr. Cullen, or Edward let out an uncomfortable sounding cough and shifted, causing my foot support to move.

Embarrassed once again, I jumped up, offering to get the pie from the kitchen.

"Riley? Help me get dessert plates and something to cut the pie with. Do you have any ice cream to go with it?" I asked as I walked into the kitchen.

"There should be some vanilla in the freezer," Mr. Cullen called from the dining room.

I served up the pie while Riley scooped some ice cream onto each slice. I carried the plates for myself and Mr. Cullen while Riley brought his own and fresh forks for the three of us.

"I do hope you like cherries, Mr. - I mean, Edward." I said. "I would have made apple, but Rosalie had gone to the farmer's market, and the cherries were just so ripe I went with it."

"Bella," Riley interrupted. "You're babbling. Everyone loves cherry pie."

"Well, you never know," I retorted, sticking my tongue out at him.

Taking my seat, I maneuvered a large piece of the pie, making sure to get the ice cream with it, and brought the fork to my mouth.
As my luck would have it, though, the entire glob fell off my fork and just above my cleavage. I groaned to myself, but was not about to give up such a perfect bite of pie. Using my fingers, I gingerly picked up the bulk of the bite, which stayed mostly intact and dropped it into my mouth. Looking back down, there was still some cherry sauce and ice cream smeared on my chest. Shrugging to myself, I wiped it up with my finger, and then sucked it off.

I heard two forks clatter on the table, nearly simultaneously, and looked up to find Riley and Mr. Cullen staring at me, mouths agape.

"What?" I asked. "I wasn't about to waste perfectly good pie." I was answered with unintelligible grumbles, and decided it was probably better if I didn't know. Besides, the pie really was too good to let go to waste.

Riley just smiled and placed his hand over mine as we finished dessert.

/MCC\

Edward POV:

I politely said good night to our dinner guest and trailed behind them as they made their way to the door. Riley was driving Bella home and I had made sure that she took a plate of leftovers with her for her roommate.

"It was lovely to meet you, Mr. Cullen," Bella stated, turning back to look at me as she passed the threshold.

"Bells, how many times do we have to remind you, just call my dad Edward."

"Well, goodnight, Edward," she stated gingerly, gazing up at me through her thick lashes and I had to stifle a groan.

"You too, Bella, and goodnight. Riley, drive safely," I stated, with more confidence than I felt. He rolled his eyes at me and proceeded to lead Bella to his car in the driveway, his hand firmly on her lower back.

Bella smiled at me, before turning and getting into the opened car door and closing it behind her. Without even watching them drive away, I slammed the front door in frustration and banged my head against it repeatedly.

My dick twitched painfully, reminding me once again of the constant hard on I had sported from the moment Bella had walked through my front door.

How did I ever think I could actually do this?

Before they had arrived, I had mentally convinced myself that the evening would be fine, that I would be nothing but a supportive father welcoming my son's girlfriend into my home for the first time.
But as soon as I saw her leaning against my kitchen counter, wearing a delicate dark blue blouse that contrasted beautifully to her pale, milky skin and the black leggings that hugged her legs perfectly, in control Edward left the building.

He was replaced by a sputtering, love sick seventeen year old boy, who only thought with his lower appendage.
And when her eyes met mine? It was as though we had been locked in some kind of trance and I felt all coherent thoughts leave my brain. I had even admitted that I had seen her photos! I don't know who was more embarrassed, Riley or myself. And when the word vomit started, I couldn't get it to stop!

She was so innocent, so pure, yet I found myself finding something sexual in absolutely everything she did.

The moan when she started to eat my food.

The way my name fell from her lips.

Her foot resting againstmine under the table; hell, even when she told me the 'cherries were ripe' in the pie!

But my absolute undoing was when the pie and cream fell to her chest. I tried to be a gentleman and not look, I honestly did, but it was right there, in one of the promised lands.

I sat there utterly mesmerized as she obliviously swiped her delicate fingers over her cleavage before sucking the ice cream from her fingers. I couldn't hold in the very unmanly squeak that left my lips and it took all of my energy to remain firmly seated. I had been alive for forty years and watched a hell of a lot of porn, but nothing - and I mean nothing - would ever compare to that. It was such an innocent movement, but the single most erotic thing I had ever seen in life. I had been sporting a constant erection for almost two hours, but in that moment, I almost fell apart.

And when Riley took her hand and she smiled at him so affectionately? I have never felt such an overwhelming surge of anger and jealousy in all my life.

That should have been me.

This girl created such an intense… need and longing in me; a need I felt through to my very bones.

I know it must have looked incredibly rude, but there was no way I could touch her. I didn't offer my hand to shake or open my arms for an embrace, as I knew I wouldn't survive it. Once I knew the feel of her skin against mine, and the scent and feel of her hair, I knew it would be my end. That once I had her in my arms, I would never let her go.

I let out a deep sigh and clutched at my chest, trying to dispel the ache that had been present ever since I had closed the door.

There were only three things of which I was positively certain.

One, I was a monster. A worthless piece of shit that was envious of his only son's girlfriend. What kind of father would want to break his son's heart?

Two, Bella Swan was a very dangerous, young woman; one that I needed to avoid at all costs. She was so innocent, yet was obviously sent by the devil himself to torture me. With that small, yet curvy body, those warm, chocolate colored eyes and long, wavy mahogany hair…

Fuck!

She was everything a woman should be. She was my apple, the ultimate forbidden fruit.

My body sagged and my back slid down the solid maple of my front door until I hit the floor as the third and final truth set in. Insanely and against all reason, I was completely smitten with her, and I was absolutely fucked…


Laverne: We did it, Shirl! We finished it in time! Now, don't fret Dolls, this fic will be continued after the contest. We just can't get enough of this little love triangle! :)

Shirley: Laverne, you know it was only a matter of time! Let me tell you, Lovies, as soon as we saw that banner we couldn't NOT write something for it! I know you probably have some questions, and please, feel free to ask away. You never know, we may just answer... ;)

Laverne: Oh, you are a feisty one, Shirl! Well Dolls, if you feel so inclined, voting for this contest starts on the 8th of Jan and you can cast your vote here: www . fanfiction-challenges . blogspot . com

And, if you liked this little chapter, please leave us some love? It would mean more to us than Edward eating pie out of our cleavage. Er... well, almost more ;)

Reviewers get a taste of Chapter Two! Our treat ;)

Thanks for reading, catch you on the next one! xox