S. Meyers owns Twilight.
London, 30th January 2011.
This is a New Year's gift to all of those who have come along for the ride with me since I started writing. It's a very silly and fluffy two chapter short story. It's about as far removed from This Buried Life as you can get. I thought of this on New Year's Eve and it grew into a bit of a monster before I realised it. It is un-beta'd. All mistakes are my own.
This is for: My friend and beta, Songster. She didn't beta this. If she had this wouldn't have been a surprise. I don't have words to describe how brilliant she is. It was a pleasure seeing her in London and I trust in her return very soon.
This is for: Spring Hale. If she hadn't introduced me to the magical world of ffn I'd have missed out on so much. Love you for getting me hooked!
This is for: MasenVixen and gkkstitch. You've been an invaluable a source of support and encouragement. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything you do.
This is for: SR, for introducing me to Songster. Without that connection I probably wouldn't be writing nor having as much fun as I am.
This is for: Rhian0000 and Icy. Cocktails in Soho aren't nearly as much fun when they aren't with you. I've loved meeting you.
This is for: All of you who I have come to know through ffn twitterdom, as well as each and every one of you who has reviewed This Buried Life. I hope you approve.
Thank you, and have a happy and safe 2011.
NEW YEAR'S TALE
The Christmas music was playing quietly on the overhead speakers even though Christmas Day had been celebrated 6 days before. Despite the early hour of the morning, the airport was busy with festive season travelers making their way home or to see friends for New Year's Eve.
Bella Swan was standing anxiously by the Arrivals gate. She knew that the flight that she was waiting for had landed.
She knew that the people she was to meet had boarded the flight safely and without any trouble.
She knew that they should be appearing at any moment.
And she knew that she absolutely did not want to be there meeting them.
She looked at her watch for the eighth time in the last five minutes. She wanted this to be over as soon as possible.
Her mind couldn't seem to focus and calm itself. She blamed the three lattes and one espresso that she'd already had. In reality her anxiety, for that was what it was, had started when her hotel phone had rung at five o'clock that morning. Fearing that it was her father calling to tell her that Uncle Billy had taken a turn for the worse she had answered it, rather than let the machine kick in.
She was regretting that now. It hadn't been her father. It had been her boss, Tanya Knight.
"Thank God, you're there."
"And hello to you too, Tanya."
Bella had been pleased that she managed to keep most of the sarcasm out of her voice.
"No need to be sarcastic, Bella," Tanya snapped back. "I wouldn't call if it wasn't an emergency."
Well, maybe she hadn't managed it. The fact that it was an 'emergency' didn't make her feel bad about it though. Ninety-nine percent of Tanya's calls were regarding an 'emergency' of one kind or another.
"I'm on vacation."
"I know, I know," Tanya said dismissively. "Believe me, I heard you when you said that you weren't going to be on call when you were over in London, but I wouldn't call if it wasn't urgent."
"This is the only holiday I've taken in over a year. Can't you get someone else to do whatever it is? I have plans for my last four days here."
"Please Bella. I can't trust this to anyone else."
Bella knew she'd sooner or later end up doing whatever job it was. She knew Tanya and her powers of persuasion. They were world renowned and the reason why Tanya was the best publicist in the business.
For once, she thought, she was going to make sure that she would get something in return for putting herself out like this. Not having a filter at this time in the morning might just work to her benefit. "What do I get in return?"
There was silence at the other end of the phone. Bella wondered if she'd overstepped the mark. Tanya was not one to push. She could be a bitch and make her assistant's life a living hell. That, together with the long hours and her impossibly high standards, were the reasons why before Bella had arrived, the longest an assistant had managed to stay with Tanya had been a month and a half. Bella had surprised Tanya, and in fact herself, that she had outlasted that assistant by 15 months. It wasn't that Tanya was any kinder to her, or didn't expect her to be available for work at any given hour, it was that their working styles complemented one another. Where Tanya could be prickly, demanding and brilliant at getting results for her clients, Bella would smooth ruffled feathers, charm any offended parties and know how to handle talent. It just worked.
Holding the receiver, Bella chewed on her lower lip. It was her way of reminding herself not to break the silence. It was one of the first things she'd learnt from Tanya and her formidable negotiation skills. People always seemed to want to fill silences and were more likely to capitulate the longer they lasted. This was the first time Bella had tried the technique on Tanya herself.
She could hear Tanya's breathing. Maybe she had pushed too far and she was just about give up and break the silence herself when Tanya broke it first.
"OK. OK… You can run Cannes this year."
Bella had nearly dropped the phone. She was now wide awake and more than willing to hear what Tanya required of her.
Bella checked the time on her Blackberry. Eight thirty. If they were going to be much later she feared that news would break about their arrival and that would mean the inevitable appearance of the paparazzi.
They should be here by now.
She was nervous that something had happened. She tried calling them on both numbers but there was no reply. She sighed. Movie stars are temperamental at the best of times and it was best not to antagonize them, particularly this early in the morning. Just as she was pondering what she could do, Bella looked up to see the doors to Terminal One Arrivals swing open. There they were.
She moved forward to greet them, but before she could open her mouth Kate Denali opened hers.
"What are you doing here? Where's Tanya?"
"Good morning. She's been held up in New York," Bella said as pleasantly as she could, glad that her filter was firmly in place this time.
Kate Denali humphed, clearly put out and disapproving of this turn of events. The man next to her, casually dressed, sporting a baseball cap pulled down low and a pair of designer sunglasses, remained silent. Kate Denali looked Bella up and down before saying to her travelling companion, "Well I suppose we'll have to slum it." Turning to the nearby exit, she and the tall, lean man at her side made their way towards their waiting car.
By the time Bella arrived at the limo the two actors were already ensconced behind tinted black windows in the back seat. She was covered in a light sheen of sweat having had to push the trolley laden with luggage that her two charges had abandoned. Her already sour mood was turning acidic but as she approached the car she gave herself a pep-talk and reminded herself that if she got through this Tanya had promised her a career opportunity of a lifetime.
When the driver saw Bella he rushed over to take the trolley from her, and began to load the bags into the trunk, apologizing for having to stay with the car and not help her with the cases. She graciously reassured him that she understood before they both got into the front of the car.
"I hope you haven't booked us into the Dorchester again. It's such a boring dump and we want to have some fun. Don't we baby?"
Ever polite Bella turned in her seat to respond, only to see Kate Denali drape herself over the pin-up star next to her, who, Bella noticed, was looking straight ahead and still sporting his sunglasses.
She turned back to give the two of them privacy and replied, "The studio have booked you suites at the Soho Hotel."
She hadn't finished her sentence before the privacy screen had closed.
"But baby, I wanted connected suites."
Kate Denali's whine made her sound like a toddler whose rattle had been confiscated.
"I'm sure the studio tried everything they could Miss Denali. I have a call in to their people to see if they can resolve this with the hotel," Bella said trying to mediate.
Kate's eyes swung to find Bella who was standing as far away from the couple as she could in an elevator.
"Pfft. I guess that's what we get when Tanya's not here to help us."
It was at this moment that her companion, who had hitherto remained behind sunglasses and silent, decided to speak. "It's okay Katie. I'm not planning on spending much time in my suite anyhow."
The girl he was addressing clearly took that to mean that he would be spending much, if not all, of his time in her room and proceeded to try and climb up his body. Bella, unsurprised by such behaviour in her line of business, looked stoically straight ahead at the mirrored doors in front of her. What did surprise her was that the tall man behind her seemed to be looking at their reflection also and not at the female body currently pressed up against his.
"Here is your key card Miss Denali, and a copy of your itinerary. My number and contact information are at the top of it and if you have any questions at all please call me. I will see you in the lobby at eight o'clock this evening to take you to the party. Is there anything I can do for you now?"
"Yeah, where are my goddamn cases? I need to get out of these clothes."
Bella was actually surprised that this was a valid question. She had been expecting something far more trivial. Or rude.
"They're bringing them right up."
"Come on in Eddie, let's explore the bedroom."
Bella thought that she saw the actress's boyfriend stiffen, and his voice, although she'd only heard it once before, seemed to have a decidedly chilly tone to it when he responded.
"Not right now. I need to make a couple of calls."
He walked off down the hallway and Bella, having given a polite nod to Kate Denali, hurried to catch up with him.
At the door to his suite Bella handed him his pack.
"Here is your key card, and the itinerary for you," she repeated, feeling slightly foolish while doing so.
He used the key card to open the door, and Bella was given a glimpse of the luxury beyond.
"Well, I'll leave you to it and will see you at eight in the lobby."
"Aren't you going to ask me if there is anything that you can do for me?"
Bella was so surprised at his words, and the seductive tone in which they were said, that she dropped the folder that she'd been holding. She quickly bent down to pick it up only to knock her head against something hard. She gasped holding the point of impact, looked up and gasped again. Large vivid green eyes were staring back at her in surprise. He was also rubbing his head and said "Here, let me…"
Bella found herself relieved of everything that she was carrying and being ushered into the Terrace Suite.
He turned to face her and mumbled something Bella couldn't hear.
"Here, please sit down," he said before she could apologize. "Are you alright?"
"Yes. I'm so sorry."
"It happens." He was smiling at her and she was struck by the fact because the smile lit up his face in a way that she had hitherto not seen since meeting him.
The two of them looked at one another for a moment longer.
"My name is Edward Cullen. I didn't have a chance to introduce myself at the airport."
Bella knew her eyes were wide by the end of his first sentence to her. Firstly, there was not a woman, nor, Bella suspected, man in the Western world who wouldn't recognize the young actor. With or without sunglasses and baseball cap.
Secondly, she personally had followed his career with the loyalty of a 15 year old fangirl. It was a fact that she kept closely guarded. It was something that would hardly be considered professional in her line of work.
As it happened the spectre of working with him had appeared in the past and Bella had made certain that she was always busy with other clients so that Tanya had to bring in a freelancer to assist her. This had only happened twice, but each time Bella had been sent into such a spin that she feared that she would not be able to behave in the cool, calm and collected manner she prided herself on. She was sure that rather than being the efficient film publicist she was, she would spend much of the time swooning over him. It was for this reason that, when she'd heard who she was to be meeting at the airport this morning, she'd done everything in her power to focus all her attention on the high maintenance actress he was currently dating and to ignore Kate Denali's travelling companion.
Now he seemed to be trying to engage her in conversation. Bella was not pleased. This was going to make her pledge of ignoring him very difficult.
"Hello." Bella was pleased with her response. Short. Not too friendly, yet polite. With any luck it would be enough and would get her out of the room quickly.
She soon realised that this might not be the case when he said, "You must be Bella Swan."
"How do you know my name?" she blurted out. She could already feel her cheeks flushing; never a good sign.
"Oh, I think everyone knows your name," he smiled again. "Your reputation for working with Tanya Knight, and surviving, precedes you."
Yes, she was most definitely in trouble Bella decided. The swooning was about to begin. She needed to manage the situation and quickly if she wanted to keep such a favourable reputation.
"You're very well informed."
"Just because I'm an actor doesn't mean I have to be spoon-fed. I can keep up with what's happening around me."
Her blush was out of embarrassment now.
"I didn't mean to imply…"
"I know," he kindly interrupted her second apology, "I'm well aware of what people think about actors. Publicists especially."
His signature smirk was firmly in place and she thought her knees might give way beneath her.
"I suspect you're used to seeing the worst side of us aren't you?" He paused, not taking his eyes off her. "This morning being no exception I'm afraid. I think I owe you an apology for Kate." He raised his eyebrows at her.
"It's fine. Really." She stammered, somewhat fixated on his eyebrows. They were a lot bigger than she'd ever noticed before. A ray of hope flickered within her. This might be the way to keep her from becoming a wobbling school-girl-esque admirer of the fine looking gentleman in front of her. He was imperfect. He was human. And she had her job to do. If she could just keep reminding herself about this fact, she could get through the next 24 hours and see him and Miss Denali safely onto the plane with as little trouble as possible.
She tore her eyes away from his face, holding onto the image of those rather pronounced eyebrows.
Bella moved to leave.
"Now I should let you rest. You must be tired."
"Actually," he said moving to stop her departure, "I have a favour to ask you."
Her stomach dropped at the thought that he wasn't making it easy for her to distance herself from him. "Of course. How can I help?"
"Well, actually there are two things…" he paused, "I was hoping you wouldn't chase the Studio people about getting Kate the adjoining Suite."
There was nothing that Bella could do about the surprised look on her face.
"But I thought you were together." The words were again out before she could stop them, and she clamped her hand over her mouth.
"Err… no…" He seemed to struggle for words and Bella took pity on him.
"It's none of my business. I don't know why I said that."
"Well, she did put on quite a show this morning…" he was smiling at Bella, and butterflies exploded in her belly. She glanced up at his eyebrows to remind herself that he wasn't perfect, and it went some way to help get her back into her professional frame of mind.
"I'm sure that won't be a problem, Mr. Cullen."
"Err…" She had to look at his bushy eyebrows again, "What was the second thing?"
"I was wondering if you had the guest list of who was going to be there tonight."
She blinked at him. It was an easy request. "Sure. Just a moment."
She pulled out her Blackberry and started to type. She found that the publicist at the Studio was online.
To: Alice Whitlock
Date: 31 December 2010 10:44
Subject: Studio party tonight
Ali hon, can you help me out with something? I'm looking after Kate Denali and Edward Cullen while they are in London. They've asked for the RSVPs for this evening. Any chance you can let us have a copy?
To: Bella Swan
Date: 31 December 2010 10:47
Subject: Re: Studio party tonight
Sure thing. Just working on it now. Let me just update it and I'll send it right over.
How are you holding out? You know my war stories about you-know-who.
Bella smiled at Alice's email. She took a look around the room to check that he wasn't close enough to see her reply and she was surprised to see that she was alone. He must be checking out the suite. She started composing her reply when there was a knock at the front door.
She didn't know what to do. This wasn't her room, so she waited a couple of minutes. There was another knock. He might have ordered room service for himself, Bella thought, so she reached for the door.
Then everything seemed to happen at the same time.
She opened the door and saw Kate Denali leaning up against the doorjamb clad only in her underwear. Bella had a brief second to appreciate the flawless body and the exquisite matching satin set that was adorning it before a ghastly screech emanated from the actress's mouth.
"What the fuck are you doing in here?"
Bella was pushed back into the room by the apoplectic young lady, stumbled and banged her shin against the back of the couch. Pain shot up her leg and she winced, managing to say "I… I was helping Mr. Cullen with something." She hoped that this would appease the fury that was being directed at her.
Unfortunately at that very second the man in question came out of what was clearly an adjoining bedroom dressed only in his slacks.
Good Lord, Bella thought. Her knees were wobbling again. She was hard-pressed to not admire his physique. Of course the fact that Mr Cullen and Miss Denali were both semi-naked also had her wondering about the propensity of actors to make an entrance.
"What the fuck is going on here?" Miss Denali was clearly further angered by this new development and turned its full force onto Bella. "Do you really think you have a chance at seducing him? That's pathetic. Just look at you."
The scornful look that Bella was subjected to would have withered the most hardened heart, not the least one that had held a secret torch for the subject in question.
She held her breath trying to contain the hurt, both of the words and dull ache of her leg. Before she could collect herself further she heard the woman in front of her dismiss her with a snarling, "Get out."
She didn't wait to be told again and quickly closed the door behind her. She paused for a second to gather her wits and reminded herself that this sort of behaviour was not unusual in her line of work. She just hated being party to it.
Down in the lobby she received an email:
To: Alice Whitlock
Date: 31 December 2010 11:02
Subject: Re: Studio party tonight
Here you go. Let me know if you need anything else. Hope all's well.
As she walked over to Reception Bella decided that she'd give Alice a call after she finished up at the hotel.
"Hi Maria," she greeted the girl she usually dealt with.
"Hey, all settled in?"
"Just about. Do you have a printer I could borrow?"
Bella Swan had tried unsuccessfully to nap and was contemplating taking a shower. She was on the way to the bathroom when the doorbell of her hotel room rang. She was expecting the tickets for the evening's party to be delivered and detoured without bothering with her robe to answer it. What she found there was not a courier, but a bronze haired man who, in her humble opinion, closely resembled a Greek god.
"Sorry to disturb you. Can I come in?"
She mutely opened the door wider to allow him in. It was only while closing it that her mind managed to catch up with the strange realisation that the pin-up that she had often lusted over was now standing in her cramped hotel room.
"Are you alright Mr. Cullen? What can I do for you?"
"You can start calling me Edward." His famous smirk was back, and so Bella tried to concentrate on his eyebrows. Unfortunately at that moment she also remembered that she was dressed only in the tank top and shorts she wore for bed.
She looked down at herself and closed her eyes. She didn't want him to see her like this. Her embarrassment made itself known by blossoming across her cheeks, and Edward, not insensitive to having surprised his publicist, instantly regretted his spur-of-the-moment decision to seek her out where she was staying. Despite this, Edward Cullen also acknowledged to himself that he didn't want to be anywhere other than where he was right at that second, and so he tried to exert some damage control.
"I'm sorry to have hijacked you like this, but I really wanted to see you."
He watched while she went from a lovely shade of pink to scarlet in under three seconds. She looked divine, but he also didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable and so tried to distract her by saying, "I haven't had anything to eat today, have you? Shall we order room service?"
He walked up to the telephone by her bed and looked over his shoulder at her.
"What would you like?"
Hearing those words fall from his lips combined with the vision of him standing by her unmade bed Bella Swan thought that she might just spontaneously combust. Luckily she had the presence of mind to respond and said, "How about a Greek salad and an omelette?"
With that he turned away from her picking up the phone and discretely gave her some privacy so that she could gather herself.
When Bella came out of the bathroom ten minutes later she was dressed in a tight T shirt and semi-smart jeans.
She found Edward Cullen lying on the bed with his shoulders leaning against the headboard reading a script. His feet were adorned only by his socks. The bed beneath him had been made and all her clothes that had been scattered around the bedroom had been neatly folded and put in a pile on the cabinet in the corner of the room.
She might have had her mouth open as she looked around the room.
He looked up at her and smiled shyly.
"I hope you don't mind… I made myself comfortable."
She couldn't help smiling back
"I can see that."
Before she could say anything else there was a loud knock at the door announcing room service.
They were sitting side by side on the bed and had finished the late lunchtime picnic Edward had ordered. They were watching Back to the Future, and had discovered that they shared the guilty pleasure of thinking it was one of the best films of all time. It had broken the ice, and now, nearly two hours later they were laughing.
"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads," Bella quoted.
Edward snorted rather loudly, "If I'd known you were such a geek Swan, I'd have never come. I have my image to maintain you know!"
Bella was already giggling at his snort. And who wouldn't when it came from such a perfect specimen.
"As if you can talk Cullen, you were the one reciting most of the movie."
She couldn't believe how comfortable they had become with one another so quickly. Not only he had been entertaining and charming, but also natural and without the ego that so many of his fellow actors were famous for.
For his part Edward hadn't felt so… at home in a long while. He'd been working solidly for the last two and half years, often away from home and living out of a suitcase. He wasn't complaining. He'd been to the most beautiful parts of the world, all the while doing what he loved best. But sitting in this small hotel room with Bella Swan made him realise what he had really been missing.
It wasn't an absence of material comfort. He had plenty of that surrounding him all of the time. No, it was a lack of being completely comfortable with someone else. No pretences, no mask, just himself with no fear of being appraised or used. There were times of late when he had felt that he had lost himself. He had nothing to keep him grounded; nothing to remind him of who he was. Yet here, with this young woman, he felt carefree, refreshed and more real than he had felt in a long while.
Of course he had always known he would. From the first time he had seen her he knew that he wanted to spend time with her. If someone had asked him he wouldn't have been able to explain it. He didn't understand it himself.
He had seen her across a crowded auditorium about a year before at the Hollywood and Highland Center. He had been nominated for his recent performance and was attending with his mother. As they were sitting down, he had glanced over to where Jessica Stanley was standing. She was gesticulating wildly and was obviously angry about something to do with her seat. As he watched he saw a young brunette standing next to her, her head tipped to one side, listening to Jessica's obvious tirade. The young woman didn't seem at all rattled by it. In fact she smiled sweetly at the blond actress and said something that actually made Jessica laugh and just like that the actress relaxed and sat in her seat. Edward knew at that moment that he had to know more about the brown-haired publicist with quiet authority.
Snapping out of the recollection, Edward, seeing the credits roll on the television, reached for a still-covered plate next to him.
"Here, I thought you'd like this." he said as he pushed it towards Bella.
He lifted the tin lid to reveal a lemon meringue pie.
"What's this for?"
"Well…" he said, shifting slightly, "I thought you could do with a little pick-me-up after Katie…"
He rubbed the back of his neck and looked embarrassed.
"She was obnoxious and I should have stopped her from speaking to you like that."
Bella gave him a sideways look, studying him as best she could at that angle. She shook her head lightly.
"No," he cut her off. "It was unforgivable. I'm sorry."
"It's alright," Bella said a little bewildered. The afternoon was becoming altogether too surreal for her liking. There she was, sitting on a king-sized hotel bed with the hottest actor she'd ever set eyes on. He, for his part, had casually partaken of a luncheon snack and was now handing her dessert as a form of apology. Stranger yet was how natural it all felt, and this made her feel uneasy.
"Lemon meringue is my favourite," she said softly.
"I know," he replied.
She looked at his downcast eyes as they slowly lifted to meet hers and then she frowned again.
"What does that mean?" she asked.
Edward shrugged and pulled out the printed sheets she'd had delivered to his room earlier.
"I wanted to also thank you for this."
"It was no problem. Really," she hesitated before chancing the risk of prying. "What did you want it for?"
He looked at her to gauge whether he should trust his instincts and confide in her.
"I wanted to check if Jessica Stanley was coming tonight."
"Oh," was all Bella could say.
She wondered if the speculation about Edward Cullen's inexhaustible sexual exploits might be based on truth. Her heart sank a little. If this was the case, she would never be able to compete with a supermodel-turned-actress of Jessica Stanley's league. She mentally kicked herself. What planet was she on? Supermodel or not she didn't and shouldn't think of him like that. She was doing her job and he was her client. She looked to his eyebrows to remind her of that. They didn't seem to help that much so she decided that sitting on a bed with the drop dead gorgeous actor was not helping her remember these clear distinctions. She'd been lost in a bubble of companionship. She needed to distance herself so she began to move in order to get off the bed, one leg already on the floor.
As she shifted her weight however she found his hand on her arm. She looked back at him. His head was lowered so she could only see the top of it.
"Don't," he whispered.
"Don't what?" she whispered back not really knowing why they were whispering in the first place.
His hand ran down her arm to her hand. The touch lit a spark along the path his fingers took as they came to rest on top of hers. She felt as though her skin was on fire.
Still in a whisper he said, "Please."
"Please what?" She was still only seeing the top of his head and couldn't get a read on what was going on.
What she couldn't know was that he was scared that she was going to get up off the bed. He didn't want her to break the spell that had surrounded them all afternoon. He wanted to do something to keep her there with him, but he didn't want to startle her.
Hesitantly he brought his hand up with hers in it. She hadn't moved and for that he was grateful. He hoped that what he did next wouldn't frighten her off. He'd been wanting to do this for so long.
His lips pressed against the knuckles of her hand.
The touch of his lips was smooth, warm and sensuous. She was in a trance. She felt as if she was a protagonist in one of the films she helped promote. The thought only served to distract her all the more. What was he doing? This couldn't be real could it? The whole of her body buzzed at her contact with him and she was sure she was flushed from the top of her head to the tip of her toes.
Edward for his part was pleased by the simple things. For a start she still hadn't moved away. He had only intended to kiss the back of her hand in order to illustrate how much he had enjoyed her company. What he hadn't been prepared for was his reluctance to let her go once he started touching her.
Her skin was soft and had a delicate scent that he couldn't pinpoint but knew at once it would stay with him forever. He wanted to bask in all of the sensations surrounding him, but was uncertain of the reception she would give him if he tried. Despite this, he also realised that there was no way he could let her go unless she was the one to pull away. He was relieved, and not a little pleased that she made no such effort. It was more than he hoped for. He certainly hadn't come to her hotel room with the intention of seducing her. He knew of her reputation for keeping her private life exactly that – a difficult thing to achieve in an industry which blurred the distinctions of public and personal. He also knew that he only had 24 hours to try and get to know her in whatever capacity she would allow. He never assumed that she'd be so open. He was already craving more.
He pulled her arm closer and turning it, kissed the inside of her wrist. He didn't dare look at her. He thought that if he did he might lose courage or break the spell of the moment. Everything was quiet and still, except for his trailing kisses up her arm.
Bella held her breath. Her brain couldn't process what was happening. It seemed as if she was trapped in a delicious dream, and who was she to interrupt it?
As his lips touched the ticklish part of her flesh inside her elbow, she saw his eyes lifting to hers. She took a well needed breath, gasping slightly at what she saw. His eyes were focused on hers and she couldn't look away.
"Is this ok?" he asked.
She mutely nodded.
He pulled on her arm a little more hoping that she'd take it as a sign that he wanted her to close the gap between them on the bed. He was rewarded by her shifting back to her original position next to him.
Still holding her hand in one of his, he bought the other up to follow the path his lips had taken. Rather than stopping at her elbow he brushed it up to her shoulder before cupping her cheek.
The movement was so fluid that Bella was unable to stop herself from leaning into his touch. She sucked in another breath. She closed her eyes for a moment enjoying his warmth and the feeling that this was the most natural place in the world for her to be.
His thumb brushed over her lips. She opened her eyes and was treated to the sight of his face hovering a couple of inches away from her own.
He was mesmerized by her lips. They were perfect. Full and red and soft. His own lips were now jealous of his thumb and he wondered if he dared indulge in tasting them. He had never felt so unsure. He knew he couldn't stop himself now, but he'd also be devastated if she rejected him. He simply couldn't read her.
In the end he needn't have worried. Bella made the decision for both of them, closing the gap between them.
It was a shy kiss at first. He let her lead the dance; a few chaste kisses that allowed her to get to know the landscape before he felt her tongue sweep over his lips. He opened them immediately and felt her tongue brush against his. It was heavenly and the sensation sent a spark racing through his body, settling in his groin. He couldn't help the moan that escaped.
The sound spurred her on. It rang in her ears and as soon as she heard it she knew she wanted to hear it again. She was the one doing that to him. She could feel his hand on her neck, the other still holding her hand. He made no move to let go so she bought her free hand up and ran it through his hair. She'd been dreaming of doing that ever since she had seen him in The Stranger and wasn't disappointed.
He moaned again and, elated, she responded in kind. And that was the signal. The dynamics between them changed instantly, and from soft, almost tentative kisses they became almost fierce. He couldn't hold back, and both of his hands went into her hair as he sucked on her bottom lip before tasting her again.
Her hand mirrored his and she pulled slightly on his hair trying to bring him closer to her. She wanted more of him.
He was the one to break their kiss as he turned her head and kissed his way down her neck, finding a particularly erogenous spot just below her ear. She shuddered as he gently sucked it, and sighed.
The fog of desire that had consumed her cleared a moment, and she suddenly became acutely aware of what they were doing. Her hands were still clasping his hair and his head was buried in the crook of her neck. Self conscious, she shifted slightly and bought her hands down to her side. He stilled his movements but didn't pull away from her.
She cleared her throat trying to collect herself.
He reluctantly let her go as she backed a little away from him, but kept his eyes down. He wanted to continue, and didn't want to see the look of rejection in her eyes. He should have known that she would break the kiss. He'd let himself get too carried away. He was surprised that she'd even let it go as far as it had. He felt her move off the bed and heard the door of the bathroom click shut behind her.
He swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat there brooding. He'd screwed up. He'd ruined everything and frightened her away. She'd think that he was like this with other women. He was aware of his reputation, and he knew it was entirely true. He'd wanted her to get to know him first so that he could approach her once she trusted him and hear his declaration. Now she'd flee without giving him a chance to tell her.
Part Two will be up on Friday.