Title: "A Cinderella Story"
Summary: With Carlisle as Prince Charming and Edward as Cinderella, of course
Genre: Fairy Tale/Romance
Pairing: Edward/Carlisle
Details: AH
Rating: M/NC-17
Warnings: Strong language, explicit (male/male) sexual content, and Edward in a dress
Word Count: ~12,000 in two parts
Status: Complete (one-shot)
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or the lovely characters. I am also quite certain the title is not original. But the words are mine.

"Edward, where are my slacks?" his stepmother's voice cut through the silence. "You know, the new cream pair I just got back from the tailor's?"

Edward sighed and closed his art history book. He wouldn't get any more studying done that morning.

"Edward!" she cried out again impatiently. "You know I wanted to wear them today..."

"They're in the laundry room," he responded calmly, shouldering his bag and stepping out

into the hallway. "I had them pressed for you."

Esme nodded from the foot of the stairs but didn't offer any thanks (not that he'd expected her to). "And why on earth isn't there any coffee?"

Crap. He hadn't put it on that morning. "I'm sorry, Esme. I've been studying and I—" he tried quickly, but she cut him off.

"That's absolutely unacceptable, Edward. You know how important today is."

He nodded. Of course he knew. Alice and Rosalie were coming home that afternoon, back from another successful year at university, and everything had to be perfect. That he had a final that morning was irrelevant. His concerns usually were.

"Well," Esme continued, examining a perfectly manicured nail (Edward was hardly worth considering). "Put fresh linens on the girls' beds and make sure the bathroom is spotless. Rose's flight arrives at three, and Alice will be here before then; we have an early dinner reservation. The house needs to be in order."

"Yes. Of course."

His stepmother turned without another word.

Edward went to see about clean bedsheets.

oOoOo

It was better this way, Edward told himself as Esme's Mercedes pulled out of the drive. With her daughters home for the summer, his stepmother's attention would be sufficiently diverted, leaving Edward, for the most part, ignored. And that was the preferable state of things.

He could handle his stepsisters' presence. Rosalie (when she wasn't bossing him around) avoided Edward on principle. And Alice was...tolerable. On occasion (when no one was looking, of course), she could even be kind.

Edward shut himself in his room. He lived for the moments when Esme was away. It was the only time he had, aside for the brief hours he spent at school each day, to himself – away from scrutiny, censure, and imperious disdain.

He knew he was a burden to his stepmother. After all, she made it nearly impossible for him to forget.

He needed to study. Just two more finals, then high school would be over and done with.

Edward was a good student, but he had to do well on his exams. The scholarship (and every hope of getting out of Forks and away from his stepmother's control) depended on it.

But instead of his Biology text, he pulled a small, tattered photo album off the shelf.

Lovingly, he turned the worn pages, gazing at the smiling faces of his father and his childhood self. He only ever looked at the pictures when Esme was away. He doubted she

even knew about the album. If she did, it would probably no longer be in his possession.

His first day of school.

A baseball game they'd driven to Seattle to see.

Their trip to the shore.

He stared at the picture of his young self shoveling in the sand. It'd been his first time at the ocean, and though he'd been only seven, he remembered the experience vividly. The memories were etched firmly across his mind.

The water had been freezing. He'd waded in up to his waist and stood, hopping up and down, arms crossed over his thin chest while his dad dove under a large wave. Father had come back to get him then, and he had held him and floated him about, as Edward coughed and chopped at the water. 'That's it Ed. I've got you. You're doing good. You're doing real good...'

Father had met Esme a year later, and they'd married just days before Edward's ninth birthday.

He couldn't remember ever being happier.

Father had been so excited – and so in love. Esme was beautiful, and her daughters were charming and lovely and so...sophisticated.

Edward had never had a mother before; his own had died the day he was born. And suddenly he was getting a mother and sisters all at once. It felt like Christmas had come early.

'We're going to be a family, Edward,' he'd said. 'Imagine that. A real family.'

And perhaps they would have been, had the car crash not killed his father just six months later.

Now, it was hard to imagine a time when his stepmother hadn't hated him, though Edward didn't believe she actually had at first.

After the accident, however, Esme's grief turned to anger quickly. Anger directed at the little boy who shared the name of and so resembled the husband she'd lost – the man whom, in her own way, she'd loved dearly.

"Edward!" the shrill voice interrupted his admittedly maudlin thoughts.

They were home then. He quickly stashed the album back in its place on the shelf.

"Edward!" Esme pushed his door open without bothering to knock. "What did you do with Rosalie's dress?"

"Rosalie's dress? Oh, yes. I dropped it off of the cleaner's like you asked."

"You were supposed to pick it up again," she practically hissed. "How else can we confirm that it needs no further alterations? You know the ball is this Saturday."

"I'll get it first thing in the morning."

"See that you do," came the curt reply. "Even someone like you must understand how important this weekend is for Alice and Rose."

"Yes."

Esme left the room without bothering to close the door.

Edward flopped down on his bed and closed his eyes. Her comment rung in his ears. 'Someone like you...' He'd heard those words so many times that he didn't even know what she meant anymore.

It wasn't a good thing, though. That much was certain.

oOoOo

Rosalie's dress fit perfectly (but of course it did). She was beautiful in every possible way. Edward breathed an inward sigh of relief. Crisis averted. And, if he hurried, he still had time to grab a cup of coffee with Bella before their 9am final.

"You! You can be my date," the brown-eyed girl announced without preamble, as Edward slid into their usual booth at the cafe.

Bella pushed his latte across the table.

It was half empty.

Edward took a slow sip and eyed her pointedly. At least it was still hot.

"What?" She shrugged, flipping her dark hair behind a shoulder. "You're late. I was thirsty, and I finished mine already."

"And it never occurred to you to purchase a second one?" Edward smiled over the lip of his paper cup. This was a common occurrence, after all.

"No. Of course not. One's my limit. Before noon anyway. You know that."

"One. And half of mine," he reminded her, standing to buy another cup himself. He, unlike Bella, put no limits on his caffeine consumption.

"So, I was saying," Bella began again, once he returned to his seat. "You can be my date."

"Your date?" Edward inquired cautiously. Whatever she had in mind couldn't be good. He'd long ago learned to be weary of that look in her eye.

"Yes. My date. To Carlisle Cullen's big homecoming bash this weekend."

"Absolutely not," Edward's response was immediate.

His lab partner scowled.

"Even if I wanted to accompany you – which I don't," he hastened to add, enjoying

Bella's look of pure consternation. "You know I can't, love." He softened his tone just slightly. "Esme would literally kill me."

"Ah," she nodded knowingly. "But that's why my plan is so brilliant! It's a masked ball, Eddie. And what the evil stepmother doesn't know, certainly can't hurt you."

Edward pursed his lips; he was still highly skeptical, but he knew he couldn't talk his way out of this one. When Bella had her mind set on something, she could rarely be dissuaded.

"They'll be there, you know." Edward didn't need to specify whom.

"Of course they will," she answered quickly. "Everybody who's anybody will be there. Besides, it was all Stanley could talk about at lunch yesterday. 'Did you hear? Edward Masen's sisters are home for the summer. What do you think they'll be wearing to the ball...'"

"Stepsisters," Edward corrected, but he couldn't help but smile. Bella mimicked Jessica Stanley's high pitched whine rather well. "And why on earth would Stanley care about what Alice and Rose might wear?"

Bella rolled her eyes. "Because they're competition, Eddie."

"Competition?"

"Yes. Competition." She leaned in conspiratorially. "The rumor is Carlisle's throwing this party just to find himself a wife."

Ah. So that explained Esme's preoccupation with the upcoming ball.

"But isn't Carlisle Cullen a bit old?" Edward asked, confused. It was one thing for his stepsisters to vie for his attention. Alice would be a senior at Berkeley come fall, and Rosalie had just completed her first year of med school. But Jessica Stanley was a eighteen, like himself.

Bella rolled her eyes yet again. She'd perfected the look. "He's not even thirty. And besides," she continued after taking a swig of Edward's latte, "when you own half of Washington and have major assets all over the world, age doesn't matter quite so much." She stole another sip, before wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.

Edward reclaimed his drink, cradling the warm cup in his palms, just out of her reach.

Bella was right, he supposed. It'd been splashed all over the papers: Carlisle Cullen's much anticipated return to Forks. He had been overseas for years, managing the London offices of his father's vast enterprise. But, after the unexpected death of Carlisle Cullen Sr., the brilliant (if still single) son had come home again to take his late father's place at the head of the multimillion-dollar company.

And, on second thought, the pictures of 'not even thirty' Carlisle Cullen had been...appealing to say the least. He was quite an attractive man. Edward doubted he'd be without a wife for long, once he returned to Forks.

"I don't think I'm his type," he half joked.

Bella laughed and snatched his latte, draining it in one go. She ran her tongue across her lip.

"Well, I'm not either. But, who knows, maybe we'll meet a couple of nice, rich boys to keep us warm at night." She tucked a long curl behind her ear. "With all the girls clamoring for Carlisle Cullen, surely they'll be a few left over for the taking."

Edward blushed, a rosy pink that stained his cheeks. He hated it: his tendency to blush at the slightest provocation always made him feel incredibly young. But there was nothing he could do about it.

Bella raised an eyebrow. "So, when will evil step-relatives one, two, and three leave for the party?"

"The car will be there at eight."

"Then I'll see you at a quarter past."

oOoOo

Edward stared at the pile on the bed with something akin to horror. "You've got to be kidding me," he said, running a hand through his hair, making it stand on end.

Bella just glanced over her shoulder; Edward was half sure she winked at him. "Help me with these." Together, they fitted the delicate wings on her shoulders.

"Initially," she said, rolling her shoulders once, "I thought you should be the fairy. Seemed fitting, you know?" She smirked at Edward in the mirror while examining her own reflection. "But this," she gestured at the horrifying pile on the bed, "is so much better. Don't you think?"

Edward shook his head. "I'm not wearing that."

Bella plonked herself down on the coverlet in a rather undignified and highly un-fairylike manner.

"Sure you are."

oOoOo

The Cullen mansion was breathtaking in its beauty. Edward had seen pictures of the estate, tucked nearly a mile down the tree-lined drive (away from prying eyes and the excruciatingly plebeian sounds of passing traffic).

Bella's beat-up truck was dreadfully, glaringly out of place. But that was all part of the fun.

"Well, we could have taken the cruiser," Bella pointed out, as they pulled into the valet circle. The smartly clad attendant eyed the vehicle with clear distaste, curling his lip as if he'd just swallowed something rather foul.

When he noticed Bella behind the wheel though, he sprung into action; Edward suppressed a chuckle.

"Ah, Ms. Swan," the man said, opening her door. "How lovely to see you this evening. I hope you enjoy the party."

Edward just shook his head. The perks of being the beautiful daughter of the Chief of Police.

Bella tossed the valet the keys.

oOoOo

It read like they'd stepped straight into a scene from The Great Gatsby. Gold and rosy light floated on cocktail music, bathing the room in a soft glow.

Silver platters of sparkling Champagne greeted them at the door. Bella swiped two glasses, downing half of one before handing the other to Edward. He took a tentative sip. The bubbles tingled across his tongue. But she was pushing through the crowd of arriving guests in the foyer, clutching at Edward's (thankfully Champagne free) arm and propelling him to follow.

They passed a set of French doors that opened onto a courtyard, spilling seamlessly into perfectly manicured gardens. Rows of hedges funneled toward the blue toned darkness beyond.

The ballroom was filling fast with masked revelers. "Stop fidgeting," Bella hissed, fingers digging into his forearm. "You look fine – lovely really. And no one will recognize you."

Edward nodded and took another sip of the chilled Champagne.

oOoOo

Carlisle couldn't take his eyes off the boy – and that was clearly what he was. A boy. Eighteen, twenty at the most. The soft glow of his lovely skin gave it away. That, and the Champagne. He fidgeted with the crystal flute, twirling it this way and that between pale, slender fingers, before downing nearly half of it in one gulp.

Carlisle watched as the boy brushed the corner of his mouth with his thumb, catching the spilled liquid there. Father would be appalled. 'For heavens sake, Carlisle. You're supposed to savor it, not inhale the damned stuff.' Carlisle smiled. As much as he and the man disagreed, he would miss the bastard.

He looked back at the boy. His stance was all wrong; he looked awkward and uncomfortable (as if there were several places he'd rather be). He slouched against the wall, one leg was bent as it shouldn't be, especially not in that costume.

But the costume. Oh God, the costume.

The dress was absolutely perfect.

It fit beautifully, skimming over his flat chest, dipping just low enough to tease. Carlisle couldn't look away. It swept down in a shimmery wash of sleek fabric and tucked in at the waist, revealing the jut of narrow hipbones.

Carlisle could imagine the flat planes of his stomach; his eye traced the curve of his waist beneath the silky sheen of pale satin.

He wanted to run his hands along the boy's skin. He wanted to see what was under that dress.

Carlisle took a sip of wine.

He wanted to take the young man outside and suck him off in his mother's garden. But that was inappropriate, and not just for the obvious reasons.

The dress hinted at that of a fairy tale princess, with the glimmer of white and the curve of the neckline. But it was far too short and rather too tight for any truly respectable princess to wear.

Carlisle liked it better that way.

He rotated the glass of Viognier between his fingertips, watching the pale liquid swirl up the sides. The cut crystal gleamed in the candlelight. He took another slow sip. Father did have exquisite taste in wine.

The boy's lips were cherry red, and his skin was creamy pale; Carlisle wanted to run his tongue along that collarbone. He wanted to slip the dress back from those shoulders.

Carlisle knew he should be with his mother; she needed him now, more than ever. It didn't matter that he'd already spent the first half of the evening at her side. He'd made the rounds among party goers, allowing her to re-introduce him to people he'd met long ago, people he had no desire to ever see again. Not that he had any choice in the matter. Not since— He stopped himself then.

What was done, was done.

The party was a celebration. A way to move past their grief. Mother had been quite clear about that. 'Besides,' she'd added, 'what better reason to celebrate than finally having you home again.' The 'where you belong' was clearly implied.

Carlisle understood her sentiment. After all, his mother never accepted that it had not been his choice to leave Forks for London in the first place.

His father made that decision for him. He'd been grooming Carlisle for the overseas office for as long as Carlisle could remember. He hadn't wanted to leave, but his choices rarely mattered.

Once he had left, however, he found that he couldn't be happier. Still, his mother never liked having her only child halfway around the world.

Yes. He really should find her.

But all he wanted to do was stand there, drink his wine, and watch the boy. It wasn't too much to ask, really.

Mother would be horrified.

He signaled the waiter for another glass of Viognier. He savored the first slow sip, as it rolled across his tongue. It was only his third glass, but it was (yet again) something

Mother wouldn't approve of.

She'd tsked at him earlier: 'Carlisle, how many glasses have you had? And really dear, you must eat. You're far too thin. Here, try the crostini. It's positively to die for.'

He'd be thirty in less than six months, and she still felt the need to treat him like a child.

He supposed he understood the impulse.

He looked up again. The boy's attention was directed across the room. He followed his eyes. Ah, yes. The Swan girl. He'd seen them arrive together, and the boy had followed her about for a little while. But Carlisle didn't get the impression that they were together, together. The young man had seemed almost relieved to break away from her side. And, yes, now he was smiling as he watched her flirt with another young man. The smile was certainly not that of a scorned lover.

The boy took another obscenely large gulp of Champagne, muttering something under his breath. A waiter passed by, and he grabbed another glass. Carlisle chuckled; the young man certainly had the right idea about the evening.

Carlisle looked down to realize that his own glass was half empty again. How long had he been standing there watching? Blessedly, no one seemed to be paying Carlisle any attention for once. He looked up again; he couldn't seem to help himself. Perhaps he was only intrigued because he didn't know who the boy was. Even with the masks, he recognized most of the party goers. After all, Mother had spent over an hour reviewing the guest list, providing name, rank, and serial number for all the 'important' attendees. Maybe the young man was just a classmate of the Swan girl's, her escort for the evening.

Carlisle would have to find out his name.

The boy shifted awkwardly against the wall. He was obviously new at this, and that simply made him all the more appealing. (Carlisle never did care for the young men and women of Forks high society who had been attending such formal functions since before they even hit puberty).

Of course, Carlisle wasn't one to talk. His father had bought him his first tuxedo when he was seven.

He smiled and brushed a hand over his shoulder, smoothing a crease in his cloak. At least Mother had the good sense to throw a costume bash every now and then. A man could only attend so many black-tie events before the overwhelming urge to commit hara-kari set in.

She hadn't approved of his wardrobe selection, though. She'd frowned over her tea at him when he'd come downstairs earlier that evening: 'Oh dear, that's a bit morbid. Don't you think? Why don't you go put on that new Zegna tux I had made for you? You can go as James Bond, or something. You'll look positively dashing.'

He'd refused, assuring her that vampire was the only way to go.

'But those teeth!' His mother hadn't suppressed the shudder.

He'd smiled at her then, revealing two rows of crooked, yellowing fangs.

Carlisle had purchased the teeth at a novelty store that afternoon. They were plastic and hideous, and he loved them to bits.

His glass was empty. He looked up for a waiter, but none were around. He'd have to walk to the bar.

Carlisle glanced over at the boy once more, only to find him staring right back.

Interesting.

The young man quickly averted his gaze, but not before Carlisle noticed the boy's blush. Even from his vantage point across the room, Carlisle could see the rosy pink that stained his cheeks, spreading from just under the mask down the pale column of his slender throat. It was lovely.

oOoOo

Edward skirted the edges of the grand room, weaving between knots of assorted party goers: men and women dressed as flappers and villains, exotic creatures and knights in shining armor.

He found a spot against a wall to watch the frivolity. Bella had flitted off with an ordered "Have fun! And, for God's sake Eddie, don't slouch like that."

Edward promised to do his best to comply with both directives. She'd be back to check on him later.

He knew the moment Esme and his stepsisters appeared. They'd dined first, of course - the better to arrive fashionably late. And Edward couldn't help but tense when the room's collective gaze shifted to the entryway.

Alice looked delightful as always. She, like Bella, wore wings. But where Bella's were translucent and gossamer thin, Alice's were more substantial; they were sleek and feathery like a bird's.

And Rosalie... Well, even Edward realized that she was stunning.

The deep, jewel blue of her dress accentuated her porcelain skin. And her peacock feathers were both exotic and enticingly unique.

People spilled out onto the polished parquet dance floor. Candles shimmered; one flickered by Edward's shoulder and went out. He watched as the party goers gathered, all watching one another like participants in a parade. Edward wished he had a cigarette.

He saw Bella across the room, flirting with an attractive (if horridly attired) boy. He seemed to be wearing some sort of wolf-suit. Though, he'd forgone the bottom portion in favor of tan leggings. Edward snorted under his breath, but he hoped she got lucky that night. 'That would make one of us, at least,' he muttered into his empty glass.

A waiter swept past, and Edward grabbed another flute of Champagne. He didn't usually drink, but tonight he thought he could make an exception.

A figure approached, blonde hair framing the edges of a pale mask. The bottom was steeped in a startling crimson. A dark cloak fluttered around broad shoulders, swept down his back. The effect was deliberately dramatic.

Carlisle Cullen was, indeed, remarkable. No wonder the girls were wild about him.

Edward had been watching him furtively all night – ever since Bella had pointed the man out to him. He twisted the crystal flute between his fingers, watching the sparkling pink liquid swirl up the sides. He glanced up again, eyes immediately seeking out Carlisle's impressive figure.

The man was headed straight for him.

Edward's heart thudded erratically against his ribs.

Quickly, he averted his stare. His gaze found Rosalie easily; she was surrounded by several hopeful young men. Alice stood off to the side, watching her sister but not participating.

"Ah, the Platt girls," Carlisle commented, when he saw the subject of Edward's attention. He leaned against the wall beside him. "Yes. They are quite lovely."

"Then they have accomplished their goal for the evening," Edward replied a bit coolly, wondering which of his stepsisters would win the man's favor.

"What do you mean?" Carlisle asked.

Edward's eyes were drawn to the pink of the man's lips, the only part of his face visible under the mask. The costume fangs protruded slightly. Edward had to stop himself from reaching out to touch.

"I, er, overheard them speaking," Edward lied smoothly. After all, there was no reason to reveal his relation to the girls. "Rosalie mentioned wanting to catch your eye."

"Well, I am afraid she is destined to be disappointed," Carlisle spoke slowly, his voice deliciously smooth. "For you see, my eye has found something far more appealing to occupy its attention."

Edward's breath caught; he saw the man's gaze slip down his body before darting up to his face again. Then he felt just the slightest brush of fingertips against the back of his hand.

A flare of desire blazed in him, as he realized the implication of the older man's words.

"Walk with me?"

Edward followed, half-dazed, as Carlisle Cullen led him out into the courtyard. The night was cool for May, and the gardens were deserted. They were alone.

"I couldn't help but notice," the man said softly, trailing his fingers along a low stone bench, "that you've been by yourself for most of the evening."

Edward ran a thumb over the rim of the glass; he refused to delight in the fact that the older man had been watching him.

"My friend is, er..." he trailed off. He didn't actually know where Bella was at the moment.

"Your date is off enjoying the company of another young man," Carlisle supplied for him. "Though, I can't imagine why. Not when she arrived on the arm of such a pretty boy." He smiled, eyes fixed on Edward's face. "Heaven only knows why she would leave your side."

A thrill ran though him at the words. Edward felt the blush splashing his cheeks under the mask, but Carlisle's gaze, his words were doing delightful things to his blood.

"We're just friends, really." It was suddenly imperative that Carlisle understood that.

"Bella's not exactly my type."

"I see," the man said simply, fishing a crushed pack of cigarettes from his pocket. "And what, if you don't mind my inquiring, is your type?" He cupped his hands; the match flared orange. Edward watched his lips curl around the filter.

"More...masculine," Edward found his mouth saying, before his brain could protest. He bit his lip to keep from adding 'and blonde.'

The man inhaled deeply and blew a thin stream of smoke between his lips. It coiled and twisted and disappeared on the crisp night air.

Carlisle passed the cigarette to Edward. His heart beat frantically inside him, but at least his hands were steady. Sharing a smoke had never seemed so intimate. The tobacco was bitter against his tongue, but Edward didn't care. He flicked the end of the cigarette, watching ash float to the ground, before passing it back to Carlisle.

"Are you wearing lip gloss?" The man asked suddenly, taking another drag. The question startled Edward. He shifted from leg to leg.

"I, er, yeah..."

Carlisle reached out as if to touch Edward's mouth, but he seemed to catch himself and dropped his arm again. Edward wished he hadn't.

"My friend, she—" Edward began in explanation. He ran his tongue along his bottom lip self-consciously. It tasted of cherries.

"It's surprisingly appealing."

Edward blushed.

"As is that."

Edward's cheeks only warmed further. "I only just avoided the eyeliner," he added after a few moments. The man's gaze hadn't left his mouth. "It was a close call, but with the mask and all I managed to convince Bella that it wasn't necessary."

"Yes." Carlisle stubbed the cigarette out against the heel of his shoe, flicking it into the cold fire pit. "I rather like you like this."

The man moved imperceptibly closer. Edward's skin tingled, and he suddenly felt dizzy. Perhaps the second glass of Champagne was a bad idea because he could literally feel the tension between them.

Carlisle seemed to realize it too. He took a step back and sat down on the bench, crossing long legs, resting one ankle on a knee. He titled his head up toward Edward.

Edward shivered under his gaze.

"So, what do you do in Forks?"

"Not much actually." Edward ran a hand through already disheveled hair, causing it to stand on end. It was a nervous gesture, but he couldn't help himself. He only hoped Carlisle wouldn't notice

"Are you in school?"

Edward tugged at the neckline of his dress. "I just finished. High school, that is. Graduation is next Saturday."

"I see." Carlisle did not seem horrified by the admission.

"I'm eighteen," Edward hastened to add. "And I hope to start university in the fall."

"That's good." Came the calm reply.

Edward was secretly thrilled. Perhaps Jessica Stanley had been right all along, and the age difference didn't matter so much after all. One could hope, at least.

"And what do you intend to study at university next fall?"

"I'm not sure yet." Edward chewed on his bottom lip, stomach tightening when he noticed the man's gaze drop to his mouth. "My father practiced law in Port Angeles," he continued. "Before he died that is."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

Edward shrugged. "It was a long time ago. I'm sorry about your father, though."

"Yes," the older man said simply. "It seems we have several things in common." Edward found himself blushing again at the rather innocuous comment.

"But I love literature," Edward added quickly. He hadn't meant to bring up the other man's father. Surely it was poor form to mentions one's dead relatives so soon after their loss. "Dad used to read to me when I was small." Edward smiled softly. "So perhaps I'll study English. But I've plenty of time to decide." He shrugged again; Carlisle was watching him closely, his pale skin accented by the moonlight.

"And, I'm still waiting on a scholarship. Otherwise..." Edward trailed off there, though, because 'otherwise I'll be stuck living at home and attending Forks community College' simply didn't seem the thing to say to the richest man on the west coast.

"Carlisle!" A high voice cut through the still night air.

"That will be my mother," Carlisle said, standing.

Edward thought he saw him frown, but it might have been a trick of the light.

The man smoothed his palms down the front of his trousers. "I'll need to go back inside."

"Oh." Edward was surprised at how disappointed he felt. "I'm sorry to have kept you."

"Don't be," the man said softly, brushing a thumb across Edward's cheek. And, even through the mask, he thought he could feel the warmth of that touch.

"Find me later."

And, with that startling directive, he was gone.

oOoOo

"Was that Carlisle Cullen you were just talking to?" Bella appeared at his side a few moments later, nursing a frothy coffee confection.

"How many is that?" he teased.

"Two," she said, bumping her hip into his. "A girl cannot live on Champagne alone. And you haven't answered my question."

"Yes." Edward paused. "And I think he might be gay."

"Interesting," Bella responded, smacking her lips. "Very interesting."

"That. Or you've dressed me up far too well."

Bella laughed, snorting into her cup. "I've always told you that you'd make an awfully pretty girl, Eddie."

He elbowed her playfully.

"But just think of how many women will be disappointed."

oOoOo

Edward watched Carlisle rather overtly for the rest of the evening. Everyone seemed to want the man's attention, but Edward supposed that was normal. It was his party, after all. Carlisle danced with nearly every lady in the room and moved from group to group exchanging pleasantries and making small talk.

He was the perfect host, but Edward was certain he saw the man's gaze settle on him every now and then.

Edward had just selected a dessert from the assorted display when Carlisle appeared beside him.

"Dance with me."

The request startled the air from Edward's lungs. He sucked a finger into his mouth; it tasted of butter-cream.

He could see Carlisle watching his fingers, his tongue.

"I, er, we shouldn't," Edward managed after a few moments.

"No. Probably not." The man agreed. "I should dance with Irina Denali. Mother won't be pleased at all. But I've had a bit too much wine, and, frankly, I don't care." Carlisle extended a hand. "Come."

"I've never danced before."

"It's easy. Just follow my lead."

Edward took his arm before he could talk himself out of it. "All right."

oOoOo

Everyone watched as Carlisle led the boy out between the couples already gathered on

the dance floor. He could practically hear the disapproving stares. But he truly didn't care. He'd been waiting to touch the boy all night.

The young man placed his hands tentatively on Carlisle's hips.

Carlisle smiled and took a step closer. "Place your arms here... and here," he instructed softly, looping one of the boy's arms around his neck, and taking the his other hand in his.

The young man's hands were soft, Carlisle noted. Softer than a boy's, but not as soft as a girl's. Carlisle liked them very much.

The band began a slow waltz. Carlisle recognized it from his childhood – from memories of his mother and father dancing together.

"I never did ask," he whispered; their mouths were dangerously close together, "why you are dressed as a fairy tale princess."

The boy's cheeks pinked slightly. Carlisle could almost feel their warmth.

"My friend again."

"Ah. The one with the lip gloss?"

"Yes. That one. It's sort of an inside joke."

Carlisle inclined his head, waiting for an explanation.

The boy took a slow breath; he smelled very good. "I've, er, never had much luck with love, and we've always said that I must be waiting for my own Prince Charming."

Carlisle's lips curved just slightly. He'd taken off the fangs; they were stashed in his trouser pocket.

"But I suppose a dark prince would do." The boy finished softly.

Carlisle lifted the boy's hand to his mouth, brushing his lips over a knuckle. He wanted to kiss the young man's painted mouth. Carlisle's thumb stroked a hipbone, rubbing the silk of the dress across it. With a soft groan, he rocked his hips forward slightly. Carlisle could feel the jut protruding between the boy's thighs; he groaned.

The young man's eyes went wide with shame and surprise; he tried to pull away. But Carlisle just held him tighter. "No. I like it," he whispered, and the boy blushed a deeper pink, but he seemed to relax a bit, resting a warm cheek against Carlisle's chest.

Carlisle imagined slipping a thigh between the boy's legs. Letting him rock against him until he came. But instead he just slid his hand down to smooth over the small of the young man's back, feeling the shimmery cool fabric of the dress under the palm of his hand.

The boy sighed, and Carlisle felt his breath against his throat.

The song was nearly over. Carlisle knew his mother was watching. He could practically see her look of carefully restrained horror and disdain. He smiled, mouth pressed to the boy's ridiculous hair.

He would ask for another dance.

The final notes faded out, and the young man took a step back, but he didn't let go of Carlisle's hand. It was warm and heavy against his palm. Their fingers were laced together. He never wanted to let go.

But then the boy's eyes went rather wide, and Carlisle turned to see the Swan girl beckoning; she was gesturing rather emphatically toward the entryway. Carlisle frowned, confused. Esme Platt was standing in the doorway with her daughters. They were saying their goodbyes, but the party was nowhere near complete. He could see no reason why the boy should have to leave.

But he whispered, "I'm sorry. I have to go," and released Carlisle's hand.

"Not yet." Carlisle tugged him closer, brushed his hair back behind his ear. "Stay a bit longer. I want one more dance."

The boy looked like he desperately wanted to stay. But instead he mumbled "I can't," and his hips forward one last time. Carlisle actually groaned.

"Can I see you again?" He breathed the question against the boy's lips, and for one exhilarating moment Carlisle thought he might actually kiss him. But he forced himself to pull back instead, waiting for an answer.

"I don't know." The young man stepped away. He licked his lips, ran a hand through his hair.

"Then at least tell me your name."

And the boy laughed, a clear, lovely sound. "It's Edward. Edward Masen." He smiled then. A gorgeous, crooked smile and turned, sprinting for the door.

oOoOo

Bella was waiting in the car. As he ran, Edward slipped the mask over his head, dropping it on the front step. He didn't need it anymore.

oOoOo

The mask returned three days later. And it had a letter attached to it.

"Mother, what do you suppose this is?" Rosalie carried the mask into the kitchen where Esme sat, sipping her morning cup of coffee. "It was on the front step."

Edward nearly dropped the dish he was washing; his heart thudded almost painfully against his ribs. He watched Rosalie brush her finger across the mask's smooth surface.

"I don't know, honey," Esme said, glancing up at her daughter.

"There's a letter."

"Well, open it."

Edward held his breath, counted heartbeats. The room suddenly felt very hot.

Alice put her book down and looked on, as her sister slid one manicured nail along the envelope's seal.

"It's very peculiar," Rose said, scanning the note. It was written on heavy cream colored paper. Edward desperately wanted to reach out and snatch it from her hand.

"I can't tell who it's for," Rosalie explained. "It only says 'I must see you. Meet me at C'est si Bon. Friday night. Seven o'clock.'" She paused, furrowing her brow. "And it's signed 'Carlisle Cullen.'"

"Let me see that," Esme took the letter from her daughter's hand. "That is rather odd," she agreed a few moments later, after reading the brief missive for herself. "Do either of you recognize the mask."

Edward let the breath he'd been holding, but he only felt marginally relieved when both girls shook their heads.

"Well, he must have intended the letter for one of you," Esme concluded. "Rose, dear, you danced with Carlisle at the ball?"

"Yes. Twice."

Edward felt a rather overwhelming surge of jealousy at Rosalie's offhand comment. It was ridiculous, of course; the letter was clearly meant for him. It was his mask, after all. But he certainly couldn't share that revelation with the room, and he hated that someone else had danced with Carlisle.

"Perhaps he intended the mask as a token. A reminder of the evening." Esme smoothed her hand over her daughter's long hair. "Not that you'd need anything to remember." Her smile was indulgent. "All those women, and he chooses you. It's only natural, of course. You are the most beautiful. I knew that blue dress was the right choice. It looked simply stunning on you."

Rosalie hmmed her agreement. "But what should I wear on Friday? And why on earth wouldn't he just pick me up? It's rather gauche, don't you think? Making me meet him there."

oOoOo

"Look on the bright side, Eddie," Bella tilted her head; her dark hair fell across one cheek. "Rosalie actually got stood up."

Edward pushed the curl back behind her ear.

Graduation had come and gone. As had the Friday evening when Edward was supposed to meet Carlisle for dinner. They were in their usual booth at the cafe, drinking their usual cups of coffee. Edward had taken the liberty of ordering Bella two this time.

Edward's mouth curved slightly, remembering the look on Rosalie's face when she's stormed though the door that night. She'd been positively furious and simply couldn't believe that Carlisle hadn't been there to see her.

"Still," he mused, "I don't think you can get stood up when you aren't actually invited out in the first place."

Bella shrugged. "Yeah, but she doesn't know that."

"Touche." He took a slow sip from his paper cup. The liquid was still hot enough to burn his tongue. "Her skin was actually blotchy."

Bella smirked.

Rosalie's disappointment, however, did little to make Edward feel better. He couldn't stop thinking about Carlisle and the opportunity he'd missed.

"I'm still not sure why you don't just drive over and see him." Bella said, turning her cup between her hands.

"Drive over where?" Edward's voice was a bit harsh. "To the Cullen house?" He shook his head. "I don't even think Carlisle lives there. And I can't imagine that his mother would be too happy to see me. 'Hi, I'm Edward Masen. You don't know me, but I crashed your party last weekend. And I think your beautiful, insanely rich son might have taken a liking to me. Oh, you didn't know he was gay? Hmm... I don't suppose you'd give me his number anyway?" Edward laughed darkly; he knew he was right. He could never just show up at the Cullens' door.

Bella didn't respond. She just nodded glumly into her coffee cup.

oOoOo

Two weeks later, Edward saw the picture. It graced page two of the society pages: Carlisle sitting beside a beautiful young woman, enjoying what looked to be a rather pricey dinner. Edward thought he recognized her from the costume party. In the photo, Carlisle was smiling. Her head tilted towards him, as if she was saying something interesting.

The caption read: Carlisle Cullen of Cullen Enterprises spotted with Irina Denali, daughter of Alaskan oil tycoon Sasha Denali. The happy couple were seen dining together at Seattle's intimate and charming Canlis.

Edward actually felt sick.

It was ridiculous, really. He hardly knew the man. He'd spent barely two hours in his company. Still, he couldn't help feel as though he'd lost something terribly important.

"Well, she is rather pretty," Alice said, fingering a triangle of toast.

"Oh heavens, darling! She's far too pale. Quite ghastly, really," Esme replied.

Edward excused himself.

oOoOo

"You'll wear your black suit, Edward," Esme instructed. "It's summer. All the men will be wearing white. We wouldn't want you confused for one of the guests."

"Of course not," Edward replied.

Esme was throwing the first of what promised to be a series of summer dinner parties. All the 'important' people would be there.

Edward would serve cocktails.

It was certain to be a torturous evening. And that was before he realized that Carlisle Cullen was on the guest list.

Carlisle arrived just after eight. Irina Denali, Edward was secretly horrified to note, clung to his arm. She was every bit as beautiful in person as she appeared on the black and white pages of the newspaper.

He tried not to stare; he really did. But he couldn't help himself. The man was even more beautiful than Edward remembered. It was all he could do to keep his expression blank.

But just looking at him made his chest ache.

Carlisle noticed Edward then, and his eyes registered recognition and confusion in quick succession. But that was all because Esme swept him into the living room.

Edward ducked into the kitchen. He leaned against the counter, pressing his palms to the cool marble surface. His stomach lurched, and he couldn't help but laugh out loud, sharp and bitter. He wanted to cry. After several moments, he took a deep breath. He had to pull it together.

There were drinks to serve.

oOoOo

Carlisle wasn't surprised to see Edward at Esme Platt's dinner. After all, he'd determined (after several hours of investigation) that the boy actually lived there.

That discovery had shocked him at first.

His mother was well acquainted with Esme Platt, and he'd known her two daughters since grade school. They'd been a few years behind him, of course, but they'd been thrown together at enough social functions over the years for Carlisle to consider himself on rather familiar terms with the family.

There had never been any mention of a son.

He'd asked his mother about it, but she had answered his inquiry dismissively. "Esme did remarry several years back, I think. Terrible tragedy, that was. A car accident I believe." She'd taken a sip of her tea, shaking her head. "Now that I think of it, there was a boy. Edmund or Edwin or something along those lines." She lowered her voice then. "A horrible case if I recall. Evidently, he was quite troubled. Poor Esme. And with two girls of her own to raise. I'm not sure how she managed."

Initially, Carlisle thought it was all some sort of cruel joke. Had Edward and his friends decided to dress the boy up as some sort of tease? Perhaps they'd heard rumors of Carlisle's sexual proclivities and hoped to expose him in front of his family and friends.

If so, it had clearly worked.

But it simply didn't add up. Edward had been too surprised by his advances; he'd been too innocent and kind, for it to be some elaborate set up. And Carlisle couldn't deny that the boy had been attracted to him. That type of response was difficult to fake.

If the boy's intentions had been pure, however, and his attraction authentic, then the original question remained: why hadn't he joined him for dinner? And why hadn't Edward told him that Esme Platt was his stepmother?

Carlisle's couldn't make sense of it all.

Even if the boy hadn't been interested in seeing him again, it seemed incredibly odd that he would send his sister in his place. Rosalie clearly hadn't been in on the joke; she'd been legitimately disappointed to discover that Carlisle's wasn't waiting for her. And she certainly didn't seem to realize that his invitation had been intended for Edward.

It was baffling.

But the pieces started to fall together the moment he saw Edward at the dinner party.

The boy was just as exquisite as the last time Carlisle had seen him. Only he wore a dark suit, rather than that lovely dress. Edward stood in the corner, balancing a serving tray laden with cocktails, and he deliberately refused to meet Carlisle's eyes.

Suddenly Carlisle understood why Edward hadn't shown up at dinner.

Esme Platt didn't treat Edward as a son. She treated him as a servant.

And she hadn't allowed him to meet him that night.

oOoOo

Much later, Edward finally managed to slip outside. Esme's guests were all in the sitting room, enjoying after dinner drinks. He wouldn't be missed.

His fingers fumbled with the crushed packet of Parliaments. He realized he was trembling. The night air was pale and chilly, but he was sweating. The match flamed, his fingertips flared red, and he inhaled deeply, enjoying the slow burn of smoke in his throat, nose, lungs. He closed his eyes trying to ground himself, but there was no ground to anchor in.

It was suddenly too much, and the pain of not having throbbed deep in his chest, just below his heart, behind his ribs.

He startled at the sound of the door opening behind him; he nearly dropped his cigarette.

Esme would be furious to find him outside smoking.

But it wasn't his stepmother. It was Carlisle Cullen.

The man said nothing. He just stood in the doorway, silhouetted against the brighter light from inside, hands shoved in the pockets of his linen trousers. The ache in Edward's chest intensified.

"I shouldn't be out here," the young man apologized quickly, blowing a thin stream of smoke into the night air. "I'll leave you." He tapped the cigarette against his heel, watching the ash drift to the ground. He took one more drag, letting the smoke burn the back of his throat before exhaling.

Edward snubbed out the cigarette and flipped it into the yard. He smiled darkly; Esme hated that.

He stood, but Carlisle was still blocking the doorway. Edward had never felt so humiliated in his entire life. He'd finally accepted that he would never be with the man; some day he hoped to stop wondering what might have been.

But Edward had never imagined having to see him again under such circumstances, playing wait-boy at one of Esme's shindigs. It was excruciating. And there was absolutely nothing he could do about it.

"Why didn't you tell me that Alice and Rosalie Platt were your sisters?"

"Stepsisters," Edward corrected. "And it didn't seem to matter much. It's not like they treat me as part of the family."

"Obviously." Carlisle sat down on the chaise Edward had just vacated. He motioned for him to join him, and Edward complied without thought.

It was absurd that his stomach was fluttering so madly. He'd seen the man once. One cigarette. One dance. One almost kiss. But he couldn't help it; suddenly he wanted nothing more than for Carlisle to touch him again.

He needed another cigarette. Edward lit a match and watched it burn slowly down to his fingertips.

"It took hours for me to find you," Carlisle spoke softly. "There are no 'Masens' listed in the phone book." He leaned over, elbows resting on his knees. "But then I remembered that you said your father practiced law before he died."

Edward inhaled deeply but said nothing. He stared straight ahead into the dark of the garden.

"I found the wedding announcement: 'Port Angeles attorney, Edward Masen marries Esme Platt of Forks, Washington.' It mentioned an eight year old son."

Edward nodded absently. It still hurt to remember his father – to think about how happy they could have been.

"When you didn't show up that night, I thought—"

"I wanted to come," Edward interrupted, his voice soft but fierce. "But I couldn't."

"I know that now," Carlisle said, tracing a circle on his own palm with a thumb.

They were silent for a few long moments.

Edward ran a hand through his hair; certainly it was standing up in all directions, Carlisle looked like he wanted to twist his fingers in it. The thought sent a tendril of warmth fluttering through his limbs.

"I can't stop thinking about you."

If anything, Edward's heart beat faster. He wondered if Carlisle could hear it thudding against his chest. "And I dream about you," Edward admitted, but his voice was flat. "It doesn't matter, though. Nothing matters." Edward felt a surge of anger welling up; it threatened to boil over. He took another breath, but his throat was tight.

His stomach still hurt.

"Edward..."

"Don't." He couldn't allow himself to hope. The inevitable disappointment would cut too deep.

"Look at me." Cool fingers stroked along his jaw, forced him to turn his head. "I want you."

He shuddered at the words, but he pulled away again.

"When I was fourteen," Edward began quietly, "Esme caught me kissing Jasper Whitlock by the track after school." He picked at a cuticle and refused to look at Carlisle. "I've never seen her so angry. She locked me in my room for three days. She wouldn't even let me out to go to school...or to get anything to eat. Alice brought me some water and crackers, but that was all. Since then, I've never..." he trailed off, looking up again.

Finally he continued: "I realized then that I could never have what I wanted. I realized that it was wrong to want what I want."

"It's not wrong, Edward." Carlisle paused, shifting closer. His thigh pressed against Edward's; his skin was hot even through the layers of cloth. "And you can have this."

"I—"

But Carlisle's hands were on him then, framing his face, drawing him closer. His mouth was warm and wet and soft against Edward's. Any protest the boy might have had was swallowed up by that first press and pull of lips. Carlisle's breath tasted of whiskey and cinnamon.

This... This was what it was like to be kissed – to be really kissed. Edward never wanted to stop. He groaned and clutched at the front of the other man's jacket, pulling him closer.

Carlisle laughed, his mouth open against Edward's. One hand slipped down to rest, heavy and hot, on the small of Edward's back.

Edward managed to reach up and twist his fingers in Carlisle's hair. Christ. Carlisle's hair. It was Carlisle kissing him like this. He'd wanted this – he'd dreamed about it late at night – but he'd convinced himself that he couldn't have it. And now...

The metal arm of the chaise dug into his side, but he didn't care. The other man shifted, bearing him backward into the cushions. Edward parted his knees, and Carlisle practically fell forward before he caught himself on his forearms, settling himself between Edward's legs.

The man had to know how aroused he was, with the way he was pressed on top of him like that, Carlisle's stomach against hot hardness. But the teasing pressure on Edward's cock felt far too good to be embarrassed about. He felt his hips jerk upward, seeking that contact, and he was suddenly, horribly certain he could come just from doing that.

Carlisle pulled away, exhaling harshly. Edward blinked up in protest, until Carlisle's fingers smoothed down his sternum to stroke at his cock through the soft fabric of his dress slacks.

"Oh God... Oh God," he whispered. Nothing could compare to the steady pressure of Carlisle's palm touching him like that.

A loud clatter inside startled them both. Edward jumped, scrambling up into a sitting position; Carlisle pulled back a few inches but did not move his hand. His thumb continued to rub gently, up and down the length of Edward's erection.

"Oh God..." he said again. Just the sight of another man's hand resting on the junction between his thighs was enough to make him nearly come undone.

Edward took a deep breath, as if to clear his head. But his heart was still pounding in his ears and in his cock, and he was literally dizzy with the thrill of it all.

"I...we..." But Edward couldn't manage anything else because Carlisle was looking at him, and his eyes were dark, his mouth slick and wet.

Edward leaned up to run his tongue across those lips. "I should go inside," he tried again. "Esme..."

Carlisle cut him off with one more kiss. "Come home with me. Tonight."

"But Irina..."

"Is not the person I am supposed to be with."

Edward stopped, absorbing the full meaning of his words.

"And you're sure?"

"Completely."

"Okay." Edward found it surprisingly easy to say.

A small smile curled the other man's lips. "Okay?"

"Yes. Okay."

"I'll wait for you after the party. Get your things."

They both knew that once Edward left, he would not be able to come back. The finality of this decision was clear; nothing would be the same again.

But Edward didn't want it to be.

oOoOo

Edward froze as his door swung open; he couldn't look more guilty, a pair of boxers in his hands, piles of clothes strew around his open knapsack on the bed.

Alice appeared in his doorway. Edward held his breath; he'd barely allowed himself to hope, but his world was about to come crashing down.

His stepsister sashayed into the room; the door snicked shut softly behind her. Edward waited for the outburst, but instead of condemnatory, she only looked...wistful.

"Carlisle?" she asked, but it was clear she already knew the answer. He wondered if he'd been that obvious.

"Yeah." His body was still tense; he hadn't even put the boxers down.

"I saw you at the costume party. Figured as much."

"I, er— You knew?"

"It's okay, Ed," she whispered, smoothing her hand across a black cable-knit sweater, before folding it and placing it in his bag. "If it were me, I'd leave for him too." She stared at him for a few moments, as if she wanted to say something else. Her expression was unreadable. "I'll create a diversion for you."

Edward nodded, stunned. "Thanks. I...I don't know what to say."

She smiled again, her dark hair gleaming in the light from the bedside lamp. "You deserve to be happy." With that, she turned and walked from the room.

Edward slipped the last pile of clothes into his bag, before pausing to look around his room one last time. With a smile, he shouldered his knapsack and flicked off the light.

oOoOo

Edward groaned and stretched, sheets sliding against sleep-warmed skin. He extended a leg; Carlisle's side was cold.

"Finally awake?" Edward rolled over at the sound of the man's soft voice. The sheets twisted around his waist.

Carlisle watched him from the chair by the window. From thirty stories up, the entire rain-saturated city looked cold and gray. It was warm in their bedroom.

Carlisle sat, bare feet curled beneath him, the Financial Times spread open across his lap. Edward always thought the pale pink colored newsprint looked a bit pretentious. Silly Brits.

"Come back to bed," he demanded, stretching his arms over his head. Carlisle's eyes fell to his lap as even more pale skin was exposed. The sheets were already tented. "I know you don't have to go into the office this morning."

"Yes," Carlisle agreed, "but some of us have more important things to do than lounge about in bed all day."

Still, the man folded his newspaper neatly and set it on the end table next to his coffee cup.

"I'll have stuff to get up for too," Edward insisted, "once school starts in a few weeks."

Carlisle smiled. Edward had enrolled at the University of Washington for the upcoming fall term. His scholarship had come through, as Carlisle insisted he had always expected it to.

"Yes. However will you manage to be up and dressed for your – what is it? – your ten o'clock class?"

Edward grinned widely. "I think I can handle it. Now come back to bed."

Carlisle stood at the end of the bed. He wasn't fully dressed. The cuffs of his whine linen dress shirt were undone, and he hadn't belted his dark trousers.

Edward licked his lips and slipped one hand beneath the sheets to fondle himself, enjoying the way Carlisle's breath caught. "It you're too busy, though" he breathed roughly, "I suppose, I could just take care of this myself." Edward made a show of moving his wrist up and down under the blanket.

"Stop." Carlisle's voice was low and intense. "You'll do nothing of the sort." Then

Carlisle was on the bed, pushing him backward into the pillows. The man's blue eyes glittered in a way that sent a frizzle of awareness and desire sluicing down Edward's spine. He shivered and wanted to, no, needed to touch him.

Edward's hands shook slightly as he undid each button of the other man's shirt, revealing inches of pale skin. He followed the path with mouth and tongue, tracing a line from Carlisle's ribs down to his navel, before running his hands back up the older man's chest to push the shirt off his shoulders.

Carlisle's skin was warm and smooth under Edward's palms, his nipples hard and tight as

Edward's fingertips skimmed over them.

Carlisle rose up on his knees. His black trousers tented and hanging low on his hips. Edward could see the rise and fall of Carlisle's chest, as the man looked down at him. "Beautiful," he murmured. Edward wasn't sure he'd heard him right.

But it didn't matter because Carlisle was unbuttoning his flies. Edward reached up, and together they pulled the trousers down and off his thighs.

Carlisle spread out on top of Edward then, pressing their cocks together in one long, slow slide. Edward groaned and arched up, murmuring against the other man's neck. "Fuck..."

"That would be my intention."

And just the words made Edward squirm underneath him.

But first Carlisle lapped at his cock, pressing his tongue along the thick ridge underneath. Edward moaned and tugged at his hair (hard). "Demanding as always." Carlisle chuckled.

Edward remembered the first time the man had put his mouth on him. Edward had come almost instantly, much to his utter embarrassment. He'd barely managing to thrust two times into Carlisle's throat. Edward had never quite believed Carlisle when he said that it was the most erotic thing he'd ever seen.

But the man maintained it was.

Carlisle mouthed along Edward's hipbone, humming as he squirmed under his touch. Then he rolled Edward to his side, smoothing his palm across the small of his back, before tracing a line down between his cheeks.

Edward moaned as a slick thumb brushed against him, rubbing lightly before pressing in. He moaned again, clenching against Carlisle's hand.

"Patience." The man chuckled, his breath warm against Edward's neck. He crooked his wrist, added a finger. Edward hissed, pushed back against his hand.

"Surely I'm ready," he groaned, needing to feel Carlisle inside of him. "We've fucked so much, I doubt I even need stretching."

And they had, at least twice a day for the past several weeks.

But Carlisle just laughed again and continued to move his hand slowly. "It would be in my best interest not to do you damage." He replied calmly, but his voice was rough. "And, did it perhaps occur to you that I might enjoy preparing you? That I might enjoy making you squirm?"

Edward sighed in frustration, but then Carlisle's fingers were gone. A slick hand patted Edward's hip. "Arse up."

Edward shuddered. Six years in England and the man had developed an accent to die for.

He scrambled to his hands and knees, cock catching on the sheets in his haste. But he hardly noticed because Carlisle was there, pushing into him, inch by exquisite inch.

He fucked him slowly at first, and they moved together, falling easily into a steady rhythm. Edward rocked back with each movement, and Carlisle pushed in again and again.

It was perfect. Carlisle's arm settled under Edward's chest, holding him up as he thrust into him; Edward had to steady himself with a hand against the headboard.

"God yes, harder..." he moaned, and Carlisle pulled back so far Edward could feel the tip of his cock, before he slammed back in.

Carlisle's breathing was ragged, and his chest was warm and slick against Edward's back. Edward's cock was so hard it hurt. He reached for it, but Carlisle batted his hand away, curling his own long fingers around it instead, sliding his thumb over the moist head, before stroking down. "Come for me," he breathed. "Want to watch you come." Carlisle quickened his thrusts, and Edward gasped as he jerked at his cock. It was exquisite, and he never wanted it to end. But he was already too close, and Carlisle was in his ear telling him to, and suddenly it was too much. Edward came with a cry, bucking back into Carlisle, and spurting hot over his fingers, messing the sheets, the coverlet.

"So beautiful," Carlisle moaned behind him, before thrusting back into him once more, shuddering, and spilling himself inside him.

They lay curled together for a long time afterward; Carlisle's hand was warm against Edward's abdomen. Edward must have dozed off again because he woke to Carlisle shifting beside him.

He rolled over, smiling lazily, but the other man's expression sent a chill down his spine. Carlisle watched him, eyes unreadable.

"Stop. Right now." The older man traced a line across Edward's jaw with a warm fingertip. "Whatever it is you're thinking, just stop." Carlisle pressed a kiss to his temple, and Edward sighed.

"I'm sorry," Edward murmured against the other man's neck. "I just can't help but worry that you'll wake up one day and realize what a horrible mistake you've made."

They'd caused quite a scandal, after all, when Carlisle had publicly announced their relationship. It'd made the cover of the society pages. But Carlisle was confident the storm would blow over soon enough. Once the shock of losing 'West Coast's Most Eligible Bachelor' wore off, of course.

Irina Denali seemed to be handling the news rather well. She even had the perspicacity to tell an interviewer that she'd known about Carlisle's 'preferences' all along. They'd only been dating to keep up appearances.

Carlisle had chuckled at that.

His mother hadn't really accepted the development, retaining hope, perhaps, that her son was just enjoying an experimental stage of some sort ('You know, boys will be boys...'). But she had dropped by for tea one afternoon, so Carlisle could formally introduce her to Edward.

And even Esme had asked to meet them for lunch. Edward surmised that the gesture had far more to do with maintaining appearances than improving her relationship with her stepson. After all, gay or not gay, Carlisle Cullen was still the most powerful man in Washington, and Esme Platt was not a stupid woman. Still, Edward had taken the proffered olive branch. He'd seen no reason not to.

"What do you mean, Edward? What mistake?" Carlisle's concerned voice snapped him out of his reverie.

"You just get this look in your eye," he explained quietly. "And suddenly I worry that I'm about to be kicked out of my fairy tale."

Carlisle smiled, pink lips curling just slightly. "Actually, I was thinking that I couldn't be happier."

Edward loved that smile.

"And you're still sure you want me to live here – when term starts, I mean?"

"Of course. Unless you've decided you don't want to. If you'd rather live in the dorms, I would understand," Carlisle hastened to add. "I wouldn't want you to miss out—"

It was Edward's turn to cut him off, pressing a fingertip to the other man's lips.

"Stop. There's no place I'd rather be."

And there wasn't.

fin