Secret Santa one shot for ScarletBlondePR

June, 2010

"Get Between the Covers, this is Edward, how may I help you?" a soothing male voice answered the phone.

Bella, stunned into silence at the unexpected voice that greeted her, nearly dropped the phone.

"Hello?" came the voice again.

"Oh. Oh! Sorry. This is Bella Swan. Is Mrs. Platt in?"

"I'm sorry. She's unavailable, Ms. Swan. May I be of some assistance?"

"I was calling to check on my book order."

"Just one moment please."

Bella instantly heard the shuffling of someone hurriedly walking over hardwood floors before moving to carpeting. She realized Edward must have been in the stacks when she called and was moving toward the service desk. A small smile graced her lips as she remembered the hours she spent in GBtC as an undergraduate. It had been a safe haven, a respite and a place just to while away countless hours in peace and solitude.

The friendship she had developed with the owner, Mrs. Platt, was another reason that Dr. Isabella M. Swan, professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Washington, thank you very much, now planned to place her class book orders exclusively through Get Between the Covers rather than the university bookstore. Granted, her Summer School class was tiny, she would be getting the brunt of Freshman English come Fall and she wanted to make sure the bookstore could deliver on time.

Bella was brought back to the present by hearing a few keyboard clicks come through the phone.

"I've got you on speaker," Edward's now slightly tinny voice came. He still sounded relaxing and smooth, a trait Bella was a bit jealous of but she shrugged it off quickly as her irritation began to grow.

"Have you found my book order yet?"

Edward laughed self-consciously.

"Bella Swan. Twelve copies of EA Masen's Poems from a Tuscan Meadow?" he asked.

"That's it."

"They are supposed to be in. Give me just a minute to locate them."

"You're new, aren't you?" Bella sighed, dropping her head. This was taking way longer than she had hoped, she realized, stealing a glance at the clock.

"That obvious? Nana left us rather suddenly, and I'm taking up the slack over the summer until we decide what to do."

Bella's heart dropped. She did not know something had happened to Mrs. Platt and she felt terrible for her rudeness.

"Oh! I am so sorry! I didn't know…When did she pass?"

"What? Oh! No!" Edward chuckled warmly into the phone as he carried it to the stockroom. "Nothing like that. Nana found herself a beau and they are touring the Alaskan Highway over the summer."

Bella felt her heart ease back into her chest and her breathing regain some sense of normality.

"I am so glad to hear that! I would have hated to miss her funeral. I would have sent flowers at the very least and tried to be there and…" Bella realized she was having a bout of verbal diarrhea and flushed red, clamping her hand over her mouth.

"Oh, Nana doesn't want a funeral. She wants one of those New Orleans style wakes with a lot of liquor flowing," Edward chuckled.

Bella heard a box cutter tear open a box.

"Twelve copies of EA Masen's Poems, right here. Huh. They changed the cover art," Edward mused.

"But the painting was so lovely," Bella mused.

"Now it's a movie tie-in cover."

"The movie was utter crap," Bella muttered.

Edward laughed warmly, causing Bella to smile in response.

"Don't tell me you liked it," Bella accused.

"Oh, no. I'll agree with you there."

"I mean, the original vision was just so perfect and then they had to throw in a car chase through the mountains. It was just a gratuitous injection of testosterone."

Bella spent the next twenty minutes discussing the differences between the book and the movie with Edward. She could tell he had read the book and was rather impressed with his insight as well as the fact that he did not mind agreeing to disagree with the writer's vision concerning the main character's flaws. She was interrupted in her phone conversation by her trusty TA, Angela, sticking her head in the door and motioning toward the clock.

"I need to go, Edward," Bella apologized. "I'll be sending my TA to pick up the books later this afternoon."

"It was a pleasure, Dr. Swan," Edward replied cordially.

"Bella," she murmured.

"Pardon?"

"My name is Bella. Only my students call me Dr. Swan."

"Bella, then. Until next time."

"Until then," Bella smiled, hanging up the phone. She sat at her desk, staring into nothing for just a few moments before Angela's clearing of her throat brought her back to the present. Bella's eyes flew up to the smiling TA's face.

"Something you need to tell me?" Angela winked.

"GBtC has a new clerk. Mrs. Platt's off gallivanting through Alaska and her grandson is watching the shop." Bella ducked her head and threw her belongings into her briefcase for the faculty meeting she was due at in ten minutes.

"Go, Maggie!"

Bella laughed as she grabbed her water bottle and keys.

"As long as I get my books, she can go wherever she wants." And with that, Bella flicked off the lights and headed to professor purgatory.

For the next six months, life went on as it normally does. Bella Swan taught her classes and whenever she needed a book, be it for personal or professional reasons, she immediately picked up the phone and pressed speed dial two. More often than not, Edward picked up on the third ring. He was predictable as the setting sun and Bella grew to appreciate that in her life. She also didn't mind the long conversations they tended to have in her ever decreasing extra time as the semester wound down.

Angela often teased her that Get Between the Covers should charge her for phone sex because the brightness in Bella's eyes after talking with Edward reminded her of post-orgasmic bliss. Bella grumped and reminded her TA of the university's sexual harassment policy and how such language was not allowed. Angela had only giggled and reminded Bella that they had gone to high school together and snuck out during PE to hide under the bleachers only to catch Lauren and Eric sans trou and experiences such as that allowed a little leniency in a relationship. Bella had to agree and wish again for brain bleach to remove those images from her memory.

Once the Fall semester had commenced, Bella found herself attempting to convince 200 incoming Freshmen that Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass was much more interesting than the latest Sigma Sigma something or other party. Sometimes she succeeded and other times she failed miserably as evident in the first round of quizzes.

Now with the final grades posted and her life almost her own, Bella looked forward to finishing up a paper she was to present in January and began to scrounge around for her copy of Poems from a Tuscan Meadow. Unfortunately, it was not on her office bookshelf nor on her shelves at home.

"Angela!" Bella bellowed, throwing papers off her desk left and right.

"You called, oh messy one?" Angela demurred, appearing at the office door, her hand subconsciously resting on her eight months pregnant belly.

"Where is my copy of Poems from a Tuscan Meadow? The deadline for the paper is December 31st and I wanted to work on it over the week."

Angela took a quick glance at her normally put-together friend's office which now resembled a recycling center.

"Was that the book you dropped in the gutter last week?"

Bella thought for a moment before the memory returned to her. It had been a lovely, rainy day and while wearing her Alice-approved outfit which included heeled boots, she had tripped over the curb and dropped the book into dirty water. She had tried to dry it out only to discover the pages fused together. Bella had written a note to herself to buy a new copy but where that note had disappeared was a mystery to her. She plopped down into her desk chair with a huff.

"Fuckin' fabulous," she muttered, glancing at the clock. "Where am I going to get another copy at six o'clock on Christmas Eve?" she demanded rhetorically.

Angela shrugged sympathetically, still rubbing her belly.

Bella's head shot up as she realized the time.

"What are you still doing here?" Bella demanded.

"Me? Oh, I came back by to drop off a little Christmas cheer!" Angela produced a bottle shaped gift bag and happily placed it on Bella's desk, finding the only three square inches not covered by papers. "Ben's waiting out in the car."

The two friends exchanged hugs and well wishes before Bella slumped back into her chair as Angela closed the office door behind her. She knew she had a copy at her father's house in Forks but he and his new lady friend had gone off to visit her family in Vancouver. Bella shuddered a little at the thought of Charlie having a lady friend as he called Sue. She did not relish the idea of driving several hours to Forks and back but if that was what needed to be done, she could do it.

Suddenly, an idea struck and Bella hit trusty speed dial two.

"Quit fussing over me, Edward Anthony," a delightfully seasoned older woman groused, hobbling over to the overstuffed chair in the corner of Get Between the Covers.

"Nana…" Edward pleaded, holding up the discarded set of crutches his grandmother had tossed aside the second she had entered the doors.

"Don't you 'Nana' me, young man. I'm still spry enough to box your ears." She motioned for him to bring her the ottoman that sat just beyond her reach.

Edward did as he was told, carefully positioning it so she could hoist her walking boot clad ankle onto the soft velvet. He stepped back and looked at his grandmother warily. The smile she gave him granted assurance that she was satisfied and he let out a small sigh of relief.

"Only you could twist your ankle gardening," he muttered.

"Well, we weren't exactly gardening, young one," Nana Platt admitted with a twinkle in her eyes that almost matched the bright red Christmas sweater she wore.

"Nana…" he drew out.

"Well, Henry wanted to go to one of those ropes courses so we thought we'd hook one up in the back yard to practice to see if we would like it."

"Those have safety harnesses for a reason, Nana."

"I know that now."

"Hmmm…"

The two were interrupted by the ringing of the phone. Without looking at the time Edward reached for the cordless phone. Two rings later, promptly on the third, he answered with his usual greeting.

"Get Between the Covers, this is Edward, how may I be of assistance?"

"Oh, Edward! I need you! Badly!" Bella stuttered for a moment before apparently realizing what she had said. Edward could almost hear her gulping in horror.

"You know I'm always here for you," he said in what he hoped was a teasing voice.

"Do you have a copy of Poems from a Tuscan Meadow in stock? I really, really need it today."

Edward could hear the desperation in Bella's voice and instantly felt the need to make things right for her.

"Well, of course. But do you really need it tonight? I mean, they are calling for a lot of snow and the roads are getting slippery."

Edward looked up as he heard the front door open. He greeted Henry with a nod as his grandmother's beau approached her before turning back to the phone.

"I really need that book, Edward." He could swear he heard her shuffling into her coat and grabbing her things frantically as she spoke. "I'll be there in about thirty minutes."

"Call me once you get here. I'm just about to lock up."

"Done."

Bella hung up her phone, flipped off the light to her office and dashed out the door, her briefcase in one hand and Angela's Christmas gift in the other. She rushed for Trusty Rusty, her 1957 Chevy Le Behemoth pickup, taking care to avoid any particularly snowy parts of the faculty parking lot. True to form, Trusty Rusty fired to life and ground through the snow covered asphalt as if it were a clear summer's day.

"Well, you look happy," Nana Platt observed with a wicked grin as she accepted Henry's hand to help her out of the arm chair.

"Um…Dr. Swan needs a copy of a book and I sort of promised I would keep the store open until she gets here," Edward stammered, feeling the tips of his ears redden.

"Oh, Dr. Swan, now is it? All summer it was Bella this and Bella that and now that you might actually meet her in person, she's suddenly Dr. Swan?" Nana pulled on her black wool overcoat before wrapping a red and green scarf around her neck.

"We have a strictly professional relationship, Nana," Edward insisted, bringing her the crutches she had abandoned earlier.

"Yeah, yeah. I was young once, too." She raised her cheek for a kiss before she turned toward Henry with a grin. "Ready to go?"

Henry nodded and escorted Nana out the door.

"I won't be home tonight so don't call!" she yelled as the door closed behind her.

Edward shook his head in disbelief over the behavior of his grandmother as he locked the door and pulled the cord on the neon 'open' sign before heading up the stairs to his apartment.

Twenty-eight minutes later, Bella pulled into an empty parking space in front of the darkened doors of Get Between the Covers. The dimmed front windows gave her a moment of distress. Surely, Edward would not let her down. Not after all the conversations they had shared and the camaraderie she felt they had. Bella shook the thought out of her head, realizing it was quickly approaching seven o'clock at night on Christmas Eve and he had probably closed the shop to prevent last minute shoppers from creeping in. Again, trusty speed dial number two was pressed and she waited for the third ring.

"Hello?" came a cautious voice.

"Edward?" Bella asked uncertainly.

"Bella! Yes. Sorry. I didn't want to answer the phone normally if it was a customer. You here?"

"In my truck."

"I'll meet you at the front door in just a moment."

Bella grabbed her belongings before exiting the truck, accidentally including the gift bag from Angela in her haste. In precisely 93 seconds, she was waiting anxiously at the dark glass. She started at the sound of the lock being turned and the door opening. Bella rushed in, stamping her feet as soon as she hit the welcome mat, trying to brush off as much snow and slush as she could.

"Not a fit night for man nor beast, is it?" Edward smiled, quickly shutting the door and locking it behind.

Bella looked around the store as the memories flooded her from her undergraduate days when she spent many an hour wandering through the used book section, trying to find some great old tale to crowd her bookshelves with. She suddenly realized Edward was standing next to her as she pulled off her gloves and turned toward him suddenly, extending her hand.

"Very nice to meet you face to face at last," Bella smiled, raising her eyes to meet his.

Now had Edward been a little more observant and had the lighting been just a little better, he would have seen her eyes widen suddenly as soon as their gaze met. She knew he had a sexy phone voice but always imagined Edward had a face made for radio. No man could be that complete of a package-wit, looks, charm, and voice. Had she placed money on that assumption, she would have been sorely disappointed. If it would not have been cliché to call a man beautiful, she would have instantly labeled him as such.

Edward, on the other hand, had just known in his heart of hearts that Bella would be beautiful. With that name, how could she be otherwise? That and the hours they had spent on the phone over the last six months. She could have been of merely passible looks and he would have been attracted to her. He met many women in his line of work between conferences, book tours and the like and many had been attractive physically but usually left him quite cold mentally.

Bella realized Edward had yet to take her outstretched hand and made a small cough. He jumped slightly before shaking her hand with a sweet, apologetic smile.

"Sorry. Got distracted," he muttered, wondering what the tingle going up his arm could possibly meet.

"Quite alright. Sorry for the shock. Must have built up some static coming in from the cold," Bella smiled cordially.

"Don't worry about it."

The two stood for a few seconds in complete silence.

"I hate to be rude, but my book?" Bella finally asked, motioning toward the stacks.

"Book? Right! Book!" Edward began to mentally berate himself. He was acting like a nervous fifteen year old on his first date, gaping and gawping at a pretty girl. He told himself to get a grip and straightened his back. "Um, yeah."

"Is there a problem?" Bella's face blanched. Surely she had not driven all the way out here in the snow only to be disappointed.

"Well…sort of. We're apparently out of Poems." Edward had the good sense to look abashed, rubbing one hand through his red-brown hair, leaving it standing up in little shocks here and there.

"Out?"

"But I have a personal copy I can give you," he added quickly.

Bella relaxed significantly.

"Um, it's upstairs in my apartment." Edward motioned toward the steps before leading the way, flicking on the lights once they reached the upper landing. "This is it."

Bella took a perfunctory glance around the apartment and instantly fell in love with it. The old brick and oak beams were left exposed and the high ceilings allowed for almost floor to ceiling windows along one wall. The furnishings were decidedly male but comfortable. This was a home, not a bachelor pad, she determined with a brief nod of the head.

"Just make yourself at home while I get it," he called, heading for a back room.

Bella wandered around to the kitchen where she discovered a pot of beef stew bubbling merrily. She grabbed the waiting spoon and gave it a quick stir before suddenly becoming horrified at her own actions. This was not her home and even though she and Edward had talked for over six months on the phone, this was the first time they had ever met face to face. The familiarity she was exhibiting surely overstepped some sort of social boundary.

"Everything okay?" Edward asked, startling Bella and causing her to throw the spoon across the kitchen.

Bella was mortified as she watched hot beef stew fling across the clean countertop and the spoon bounce off the refrigerator. She stared at the utensil in stunned silence, secretly willing for it to return to her hand. Suddenly, she started giggling, the stress of the day finally getting to her. The giggling quickly turned into laughter and the laughter into a full blown belly laugh, with Bella folded over, one hand on the countertop for support. Fortunately, Edward had joined in the laughter and rewarded her with a dazzling smile once she was able to breathe again.

"Rough day?" he asked, gingerly picking up the wayward spoon and wiping down the mess with a dishcloth after handing her the book she had been so desperate for.

"I've had better," Bella replied wistfully, glancing down at the cover, noticing the 'pre-publication—do not sell' sticker on the cover.

"I was about to have dinner. Would you…um…if you don't have other plans, maybe care to join me?"

Bella looked up to see Edward self-consciously rub the back of his neck as he finished his question. Her face lit up immediately and once again, she was rewarded with a toothy grin.

"Bowls are over there," he smiled, pointing to the cabinet.

Two hours and a bottle and a half of good red wine later, Bella found herself curled up on Edward's couch having had the best meal and conversation in as long as she could remember. She had laughed, teased, and thoroughly enjoyed herself all while enjoying the company of possibly the handsomest man she had ever seen. Had Bella been truly honest with herself, she had never had a better time one on one with a man. Even in her dreams. She quietly shook her head at just how sad her personal life had been as of late.

"Wow! Look at that!" Edward suddenly exclaimed, motioning toward the wall of windows with his wine glass. Outside the world was covered in a thick blanket of fluffy white snow. It was peaceful, serene and awe inspiring.

"I should probably go before it gets too bad," Bella announced, picking up her bowl and glass. She shuffled quickly to the kitchen.

"Bella, it's way too dangerous out there," Edward stated, following her lead.

"Trusty will get me home," she assured, not wanting him to realize that she was fighting a hard internal battle with whether to go or stay.

"Who?"

"My truck. Trusty Rusty. We'll be fine."

Bella did not sound at all convincing and Edward picked up on it immediately. Truth be told, he did not want her to go. Meeting face to face had only cemented the fact in his mind that he was completely and utterly in love with Dr. Isabella Swan.

"Bella."

"Yes?" Bella spun around to find herself face to face with a very concerned looking Edward. She felt his arms encircle her in an effort to prevent her from falling and the warmth and security of them shot straight through her, causing her cheeks to flush from more than just the wine she had consumed.

"Don't," he whispered.

"Hmmm?"

"Don't go," he whispered.

She stared blankly into his dark green eyes as if trying to read the mysteries of the universe.

"I don't want you to go," Edward murmured, leaning down and gently kissing her.

It took Bella a few seconds to realize what was going on. One minute, she was staring into his gaze and the next, his arms were around her waist, his lips warm and insistent against hers. She felt him smile as she relaxed into the kiss, returning it with fervor.

"Don't go," he whispered, pulling back, resting his forehead against hers.

"Okay," she whispered.

"Okay?"

"Yeah."

"I'd really like to kiss you again, Bella," he said softly, caressing her cheek with one finger.

"I'd really like you to kiss me, Edward," she smiled, tilting her chin up.

"I'd really, really like to do more than just kiss you." Edward's voice dropped a few levels, sending a shiver down Bella's spine.

"I'd…I'd really, really like to do more than just kiss you, too, Edward," Bella whispered. She did a mental check to remember if she'd put on matching underwear and was about 80% certain she had not. Too late, now, right?

Without another word, Edward gently tugged Bella's hand, leading her toward his bedroom. She let out a tension releasing giggle at the fact his bed was not made.

"I…uh, got a call this morning that Nana was in the hospital," Edward explained, quickly. "Sprained ankle. Perfectly fine now."

"I guess that means we don't have to worry about messing it up, do we?" Bella smiled, wrapping her arms around his neck, lacing her fingers through the hair she found there. "Did you just purr?" she giggled.

"I really like that," he murmured, nuzzling her throat before placing a small kiss there.

"I'll remember that."

Bella squealed as Edward swept her up and deposited her on the bed. Her shock turned to giggles as she bounced in the middle.

Edward began to slowly unbutton his dress shirt while Bella lay watching him. As he did so, he began to softly recite…

Di questa donna non si può contare:

ché di tante bellezze adorna vène,

che mente di qua giù no la sostene

sì che la veggia lo 'ntelletto nostro.

Tant' è gentil che, quand' eo penso bene,

l'anima sento per lo cor tremare,

sì come quella che non pò durare ….

Bella could not help but sigh as the Italian rolled off of Edward's lips. She had no idea what he was saying and later, much later, she would ask but for now, she was intent on this present being unwrapped before her. Rising on her knees, she reached over and pushed his shirt off his shoulders, tossing it onto the floor.

Edward leaned in for another kiss, his hands toying with the bottom of her royal blue sweater. He chuckled lightly at how she shivered when his fingers lightly brushed against the bare skin of her side. Their eyes met and he silently asked if she was still okay with what they were doing. Bella nodded, wrapping her arms around his neck and deeply kissing him.

"I've never been so sure in all my life," she murmured as her sweater joined his shirt on the floor.

"Bella, I need to tell you something," Edward stated softly, taking in the hot pink with lime green polka-dots bra before him.

Bella blushed and muttered something about laundry day, earning an award winning smile in return. He pointed down at the mismatched socks on his own feet and smiled self-consciously. Bella grinned back at him.

"Bella," Edward whispered, pulling away just an inch. "I have a confession."

"What, Edward?" Bella instantly panicked. Oh, dear heavens. Don't say you're gay. Don't say you're bi. Don't say you're in a relationship or just out of one or afraid of them as a whole. Please. Please. Please.

"I don't do short term relationships," he continued, gently running his broad hands up and down her back. "If this is just one night, then I can't do this."

Bella thought she just may have fallen in love with him even more.

"I don't either, Edward," she smiled, reaching for his belt.

Edward hissed lightly as she popped open his jeans button and eased down the zipper. Her jeans soon joined his in the pile on the floor.

Bella hooked her fingertips into the elastic of Edward's boxer briefs and tugged, pulling him on top of her on the bed. She sighed contently as he rested on his elbows above her, gently nuzzling her throat while running one hand up her hip and then her ribcage before skimming her breast on his way to her back. He reached behind her, searching for the hooks of her bra, the look on his face, priceless when he found his goal. She giggled as he fumbled for a second before resting his forehead on hers in frustration.

"Need a hand?" she smiled serenely, frankly quite happy that he was not super skilled in foundational engineering equipment removal.

Eyes squinched shut, he nodded, giving a sigh of relief when he felt the material give under him.

Edward slowly slid one strap down followed by the other before tossing it across the room. He lightly traced one finger down the side of Bella's throat before moving toward her collarbone and then down her ribcage, earning a shiver of delight. His fingertip was closely followed by his lips, nipping and sucking a trail down her chest until finding one pink and perfect nipple.

"Oh, yes," Bella whispered breathily, lifting her hips so he could shimmy down her underclothes. She heard him undress in the dark and heard a drawer in his nightstand pull open and then shut before she felt him return to the bed next to her.

"I…um…didn't know if we," Edward started before being silenced by Bella's lips.

"Thank you," she whispered, taking the little foil package from his hand and ripping it open.

And then time for conversation was over. The quiet night air was filled with urgently murmured praises and unspoken desires. With nips and nibbles and caresses and kisses. Suddenly, time paused for a brief moment. Edward hesitated, meeting Bella's eyes, green seeking brown. Bella nodded just slightly before he slid into her, earning a sigh of relief, of seeking and finding home.

"Edward," Bella breathed, his name a prayer on her lips, filled with reverence, of desire and fulfillment.

He tilted his hips just so, earning another groan that nearly sent him over the edge.

Better writers than herself could have described the event, including length and girth and speed and skills. But at that particular moment, Bella didn't care about what other people thought and felt in the middle of the act. All she cared about was the love and adoration reflected in a pair of verdant eyes hovering above her.

Better writers than himself could have devoted pages upon pages singing the praises of cup sizes and tightness, wetness and heat. And in that particular moment, Edward was completely unconcerned with anyone other than a certain professor of English. His only thought was of the precipice he was about to fall over and the warm brown eyes closed tight in the middle of an orgasm.

Suddenly, silence filled the bedroom. Time stopped and the only movement was two panting, gasping adults, trying to regain full use of their bodies. The tension of only a moment before abated and the two melted into each other in a tangle of arms and legs and sheets.

"Merry Christmas, Bella," Edward murmured into Bella's ear, pulling the covers close around them.

"Merry Christmas, Edward," she whispered, curling into his side and drifting off to a peaceful, relaxed sleep.

Poetry by Guido Cavalacanti, translated:

of her one couldn't sing

other than her coming in a beauty

that our lowly minds couldn't sustain

what our intellects saw

so gently noble is she that when she fills my mind

my soul feels my heart shiver

so it can't continue ….