TSA Hot Lemons Contest


'So'

Summary: Bella dreams about her tall, dark, handsome neighbour. Perhaps she should do something about that? Rating: M

Disclaimer: SM owns the lot, I own nothing.


"So, I happen to know you like a good kisser... Don't ask me how I know this." I didn't stop to draw breath nor look him in the eyes. I was pretty certain that I would have seen his emerald eyes wide and startled. I just turned my back to him while I fetched milk from the fridge and continued with the oddest conversation I'd ever had with a casual acquaintance. "I just need to ask your advice."

I glanced up at him. He was staring at me, and his face showed bemusement, but his hands gripped the edge of the table like he might be planning to push himself up and run for the door.

"So the thing is," I continued, because I'd kind of committed myself and I was going to have to finish this. "I kissed a guy last week, and it was, well, not good."

He sucked in his breath in a dramatic fashion that made my innards feel like gloop.

"No butterflies?"

"Nope."

"No fireworks?"

"None. A damp squib at the most."

"That's bad. Better cut your losses and run." He picked up a teaspoon and stirred his cup in a way that made me want to stare at his fingers. And lick them a bit.

"But he's a nice guy," I offered.

"Yeah, but nice is not really enough, is it?" he offered back.

"We're going out again next week. He's getting a second chance."

At least he asked me out. Damp Squib Guy gets points for that. Attractive, uninterested-in-me neighbour, sitting in my kitchen stirring his coffee with his kissable fingers and drinking his coffee with his kissable lips, was getting none.

I was willing to bet all my life savings I would feel rocketing, exploding, sky high fireworks if he kissed me. It was a crying shame I was never going to get the chance to find out.

The reason I knew that Edward was a fan of good kissing was due to the power of the Internet and my powers of stalking. He had a profile on a well-known dating site, and I may have read said profile once or twice. The fact that he rated good kissing as a high priority had somehow leapt off the screen and cemented itself into my brain. I cannot possibly be held accountable for the fact that this had led to endless complicated imaginary scenarios involving his lips and mine.

Alice was of the opinion I should just ask him out, whereas I was of the opinion I should do no such thing. Instead I had dropped hints. Lots of hints. Hints so large I might as well have had a billboard over the top of my house proclaiming my unflagging interest in him. Alice disagreed. She said hints are wasted on most men. Sending them text messages about fence paint and the special at the dry cleaners round the corner does not, apparently, count as an invitation to kiss me. Who knew? Alice firmly believed I should cut to the chase and ask him out. I firmly believed that I liked my dignity too much to sacrifice it to the gods of lust and longing. When he turned me down I would still have to live next door to him.

"Why would he turn you down?" said Alice, as if my theory defied all known logic, as if I had suggested that gravity was just a figment of our imaginations.

It was a question I didn't even answer anymore because she knew what I thought. Edward was impossibly handsome and charming. I was impossibly plain and awkward. Our worlds did not collide. Our proximity was a torturous delight; hell, half the women in our street practically threw themselves out their front doors to greet him as he strolled past with his shopping. Have you seen that movie where the curvy young thing washes her car in an eye-popping display of flirting and wantonness? That scene has been reenacted more than once on our street.

After six months of admiring him with zero advances coming from his direction, I sat myself down and gave myself a stern talking to. Bella Swan, I lectured myself, stop dreaming like a lovesick cow over the man next door who has been showing no interest in you. Forget Edward. Move on. Go out with the next man who asks you.

Which brought me to non-fireworks guy, a.k.a. Mike Newton. Mike worked with me, and I had held him at a polite distance for over a year. His surprise that his persistence eventually paid off was altogether too sweet, and I found myself charmed just a little by his eagerness and his attempts to ensure I had a good time. It was not difficult to lean over at the end of the night and press my lips to his, just to see how it felt. Just to see if it felt right.

But it didn't. It felt all wrong because I still wanted Edward's lips to be kissing me. Edward's wretchedly plump, perfect lips. Gah. But the part of me that was still in lecturing mode told me that it was just first-kiss nerves. The next kiss would be better. I had to give the guy a chance, right?

The part of me that was the rebellious student, full of opinions that were the opposite of her lecturers', told me I was kidding myself. You couldn't force something that wasn't there. If you did, you were going terribly wrong somewhere. And yet here I was, sitting in my kitchen, telling Edward that Mike and I were going out again, despite the lack of fireworks. Why was I telling Edward this though? Partly because his interest in good kissing seemed to make him some sort of expert. Partly because I wanted to see him squirm unhappily about the fact that I was seeing someone else. Did he look miserable about it? No, although he did seem disgruntled that I was out of chocolate biscuits. Sigh.

Alice and Rose took me on a girls' night out. They demanded information about my date with Mike. I skirted around the non-fireworks issue and told them it was a lovely evening.

"Mmm," said Alice. "Bet you wouldn't just be saying 'lovely evening' if Edward had taken you out."

"Edward? Who's Edward?" barked Rose, like a sniffer dog unearthing some vital information.

"You know, her neighbour... the sparky," informed Alice, while I groaned and covered my eyes with my hands.

"Edward's sparkly?" shouted Rose above the bar's pounding music.

"No, he's an electrician!" shouted back Alice.

As expected, Rose was not slow to dissect where I had been going wrong. First she agreed with Alice that expecting Edward to know I wanted to kiss him by asking him about winter tyres was just not going to work. Secondly my odds of capturing his interest would be much increased if I did a serious amount of flirting.

"Edward is not a mind reader, so make your intentions clear. Wear a tight t-shirt and twirl your hair when he talks to you. Lick your lips at him. He'll be putty in your hands," announced Rose. She took her own advice twenty minutes later and snared a huge beefcake of a man with short dark hair and bulging biceps. Alice nudged me while I watched Rose's plan of Fail-Free-Flirtation being implemented.

"Try it," she implored and I nodded, just to keep her happy.

A week later Edward was sitting in my kitchen, once again stirring his spoon in mesmerizing circles around his cup. The postman often left his parcels with me as I sometimes worked from home, and Edward would come in to fetch them. I loved those days. Sometimes I thought about mailing him random large packages just so he would have to knock on my door to collect them.

I was prepared this time. I had plenty of chocolate biscuits and was wearing my tightest t-shirt. Edward seemed oblivious to both facts so I decided to lean across the table and offer him a Kit Kat.

"Two fingers or four?" I breathed at him, making sure he was able to get a generous view of my cleavage. My breasts felt like they were about to pop out of my push-up bra and I had a passing notion of resembling one of those animals that put on a provocative show to attract a mate. Except the target of my mating ritual did not lift his head from the newspaper he had found on my kitchen table. Edward reached out his hand, grabbed a Kit Kat and kept his eyeballs on the newsprint. Me, my dignity and my breasts sat back down.

"So," he announced after a minute, lifting his head and looking up at me. "How is it going with... um ... non-fireworks guy?"

"Great!" I lied, grabbing a handful of hair and twirling it around my fingers. "Mike's super. Good company, very attentive."

Edward quirked his eyebrow at me. He raised an arm and raked his hand through his hair. All the muscles of his arm bulged and all the muscles south of my waist clenched in a weird hormonal frenzy.

"I thought he wasn't doing it for you?" he probed.

Sinking and scrabbling around in the hole I had just dug for myself, I kicked myself. Hard.

"Well, you know. I find you have to get to know someone before you can make up your mind," I smiled weakly at him.

"But you work with him. You know him pretty well, don't you?" he continued.

I coughed to buy myself time. "Yeah, but you know, in a romantic sense. Find out if you are the yin to his yang. The sun to his moon. The sweet to his ..."

"Salty?" Edward smirked at me.

I blushed vermilion and gulped. "Sour," I corrected him.

"An admirable attitude, I guess," he added. "But I still say if he is not melting your butter from the get-go then you need to be looking elsewhere."

Yeah, well, I was looking right at the perfect candidate for liquefying my insides but he was busy giving me dating advice which did not seem to include him. If he were drawing me a chart there would be a huge Venn diagram with names scribbling in the overlapping circles and his name nowhere in sight.

I gave up on the hair twirling before he asked me if I had an itchy scalp. He stood up, package under his arm, and thanked me for the coffee. I thought about leaning over the table to pick up his cup, thereby giving him a second chance to peek at my poor squashed boobs, but in the time it took me to make up my mind he was already at the front door and letting himself out. I dumped the cups in the sink and pulled out my phone.

I typed.

I give up. Edward is not interested. Rose's advice sucks. I wore the world's tightest top and no joy. Looks like I will be going out with Mike a whole lot more. Better get used to bad kissing. FML.

I sent it to Alice.

Or did I?

A wave of nausea coursed through me as I had a sudden and unwelcome inkling that I had, in fact, sent it to Edward. Hands shaking slightly, I picked up my phone and scrolled to 'Sent messages'. There was his name. The recipient was indeed the object of my affections and now he knew everything.

I wanted to vomit. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run upstairs and pack a bag, drive to the airport and catch a flight to ... anywhere. Instead I phoned Alice.

"I sent Edward a message by mistake. Now he knows I've been pining after him," I gushed frantically.

"Wow. Way to fail, Bella," she exclaimed.

"Can I come and stay with you for a while? A few weeks?" I pleaded.

There was silence. I could hear her cogitating upon the issue. Then, "I think this is a good thing. At least now you will know how he feels."

"What? Why? How?" I stammered.

"Well, if he ignores your message then he is definitely not interested, and he is too much of a gentleman to bring it up. On the other hand, if he texts you back, then case closed," she told me with conviction.

I spent the next three hours staring at my phone. Occasionally I picked it up and checked to see if it was still working. Of course it was working; it was just my stupid love life that was functioning poorly. Desperation and sickening panic overwhelmed my stomach whenever I thought of Edward reading my message and putting the pieces together. But most of all I felt sad - sad that I had spoilt my fantasy, sad that I would never again be able to dream about Edward and the curve of his lips, his muscles, his glorious green eyes, without remembering this moment.

The house was silent and empty, apart from me wandering around in a mope. About seven I dragged myself upstairs and switched on my PC. Stalking habits are really hard to break so I logged into the dating site that Edward used and searched him out.

Some red text flashed at me: This profile has been updated today.

Great. This probably meant he was upping his search for a datable woman to escape from his crazy neighbour. Or he was announcing his impending emigration to Australia for the aforementioned reason.

Steeling myself I opened it and read the section entitled 'What Edward is looking for'.

I am looking for a gorgeous friendly girl who doesn't take herself too seriously. She must be able to take delivery of my post and supply coffee and Kit Kats when I collect it. She must make me laugh and always inform me when the dry cleaners offer three-for-two. She must enjoy kissing and not be prepared to settle for someone who isn't good enough. Ideally she would live next door and tell me in person how she really feels instead of leaving me to find out through a misdirected message.

In a daze, part euphoria and part nausea, I picked up my phone and sent Alice a link to what I was seeing. Within two minutes I had a reply. Two words.

"It's time."

Time for what exactly? Every thought in my head was jumping up and down, bouncing back and forth, as I tried to formulate a new plan of action. While my brain was busy doing gymnastics my hand however was busy reaching for my phone. Without letting my must-keep-my-dignity-at-all-costs instincts override me I let my fingers type out a message to Edward.

I've read it. Be here in ten minutes.

Wow, I felt so bossy. And that made me feel even more overheated.

Ten minutes barely gave me enough time to brush my teeth but I didn't let myself agonise over that. The man had seen me shovelling snow with a runny nose and hair plastered to my head so I figured he knew what he was getting. (But my dishevelled condition that day had been worth it when he took the shovel out of my hands and insisted on clearing the rest of the snow for me. It took hardly any stretch of my imagination to imagine he was doing it naked. That memory kept me warm on many a night last winter.)

When the doorbell rang I swung the door open and grinned at him, the nerves making me look slightly manic.

"So," he started, staring at me, almost grinning at me, almost letting a huge smile take over his whole face. He was standing in my doorway, his tall frame taking up that much space that I felt a bit dizzy from the sheer proximity of him.

"So," I returned back at him. There was tension and relief competing in the air as the two of us stood opposite each other. Bella and Edward, friends. All that was about to change and we could both feel it, the delicious anticipation hung in the space between us, making me feel both faint and elated.

In one swift movement he was suddenly over the threshold, closing the door behind him and wrapping one arm around my waist, his other arm snaking up my back and reaching up into my hair. Our skin was touching and the warm, solid, muscled pressure of his arms around me was enough to weaken my knees and make me utter a sigh. Yes, I swooned. I was in Edward's arms and swooning. Without delaying any longer he brushed my hair out the way and drew his face to mine. His lips touched my lips and I felt every muscle and nerve in my body become revivified. There was confusion and clarity running amok through me. Confusion that this was Edward, actually Edward, kissing me, sending me into a tailspin of delight. But my mind told me to remember this moment, savour it, unwrap it later and look at it, relive it. His tongue ran over my lips and slid into my mouth and my knees buckled with the sweet sensation of it, the softness and hardness, the passion and restraint mixed together. We stood like that for a long while, our lips and our tongues moving against each other, exploring, tasting, relishing. When he finally pulled back slightly he let his thumb sweep over my bottom lip and sighed loudly.

"Why didn't you tell me?" he whispered.

"I'm shy. I dropped you hints," I answered him.

"What hints?" he asked quizzically. "I mean, thanks for always letting me know about the specials at the dry cleaners. But I'm a man who wears an overall for a living. I don't need a lot of dry cleaning done."

"It was just an excuse to text you," I squeaked, not caring if I sounded like a demented stalker. Edward was kissing my neck and I was ready to confess everything to him.

He ran his hands up and down my back. Then, as he kissed me again he let them roam over my backside, pulling me even closer to him. I moaned against his lips, scarcely caring what I sounded like. The sensations were layering up in my mind, piling on top of each other, creating a pile of dizziness in my head, toppling me into territory I had not ventured into for a very long time.

Amidst all this Edward spoke again. "Bella, can I take you out for dinner tomorrow night?" he said, his voice so husky that it made me want to press my body against him even tighter, if that was possible.

"Yes," I replied breathlessly. "But don't leave now. I've waited six months for this moment."

Edward grinned a knowing grin at me. "So, what do you suggest?"

I was riding high on the hormones roller coaster he had started and found myself jerking my head to indicate 'upstairs'. The blush that was threatening to flood my face was of no consequence to me when he leaned in and kissed me deeply as he tugged me towards the stairs. I would have followed him anywhere at that moment, my body overrun with synapses firing in crazy patterns all around my body.

Once in my bedroom Edward kissed me more. Tenderly, sweetly, hungrily, passionately. By the time we fell horizontally onto the bed I was panting and tugging at his shirt. He pulled it off in one swift movement and my palms found the silky skin of his chest, the warmth of him heating my already overheated skin even more. He found the edge of my t-shirt and slipped his hands inside, his fingers working their way over me, going nearer and nearer my breasts until I was writhing underneath him. His touch felt glorious. When he has teased me enough he found the clasp of my bra, unhooked it and pushed it out the way. His fingertips first felt the roundness and curve of my breasts, and then stroked each nipple until I was hardly able to keep still. My t-shirt landed on the floor after he pulled it over my head and he bent his head to kiss my hard nipples, sucking and pulling, stimulating every nerve ending until I could feel the tantalising tug in my centre.

Without breaking from his kissing he moved his hands lower until he found the waistband of my jeans. In an expert manoeuvre he unfastened them and slid them down my legs, with me twisting my hips to speed up the process and kicking them off as they reached my ankles. Edward drew his leg up so it was lying between my legs and I could feel his desire in a way that made me shiver. Kissing me deeply he slipped his hand inside my panties and ran his fingers over my wet swollen lips. We groaned simultaneously, realising how ready I was for this. My eyes were squeezed tight, blocking out everything except the sensation of what he was doing to me, every sensation he was bringing to my body. His fingers slipped in me, around me, rubbing and twisting me until I was moaning aloud and bringing my knees up to feel his body next to mine.

When he pulled away there was a pang of disappointment but I could tell he was shedding himself of his jeans and the sound of foil ripping told me he was rolling on a condom. Edward returned and settled himself between my legs, letting his hand reach up to stroke my long hair away from my face. I made myself open my eyes to savour the moment, to watch his beautiful face as he gazed at me. His other hand stroked me between my legs as he kissed me again.

"Ready?" he whispered.

I nodded, feeling a pinprick of tears behind my eyes. This man, whom I had admired all these months, was making me feel more special than any man I had ever known.

His hand disappeared and I felt the push of him entering me. I gasped and sucked in my breath as I felt the intrusion. He paused to let me adjust and then pushed on. There was intensity and desire in every movement he made and the air was full of an energy that shrank the whole world to just him and me. He moved, finding pattern and tempo in our bodies, feeling how we fit together. I felt my body melt from the exquisite pressure I could feel, my body shifting and melding with his and I wanted it to be relentless, unabated. My body was overtaken by the craving for what he was giving me, and the need for it was like an elemental force within me. He increased his speed, only heightening every sensation he was giving me until I felt myself unfurling, the tension snapped out of me like a flag released by the raging wind. He stilled too, groaned softly and burying his face in my long hair, strewn across the pillow. For a long moment we lay like that, feeling the furious beat of each other's heart.

When we had recovered a little Edward carefully separated himself from me. I was still recovering from his sudden absence from my body when he suddenly flipped me over onto my stomach. Before I knew what he was doing he had reached his hand under me until his fingers found the spot he was looking for. I gasped as he started to stroke me again, my lips swollen with blood flow. My body took over what he started. My hips started to move and rock against his fingers, feeling the delicious friction and pressure that he was creating. I propped myself on my forearms, and his free hand found my breasts, his fingers rubbing my nipples in time with his other hand. I could feel the burn starting deep within me. My body kept moving, keeping me on the ladder. I blocked everything else out just to keep me moving up one rung at a time, my body matching his rhythm. Then I reached the top and everything else fell away. I felt the release travel like a starburst all over my body. My heart was pounding so loudly that Edward placed his hand over it as if to calm it. I sagged loosely, every shred of tension gone, every shred of need sated. Edward trailed his hands up and down my back in feather-light strokes. He leaned in and kissed my hair. I turned to face him and smiled at him, a lazy smile, the smile of someone who has been thoroughly worked over and every muscle slackened until their energy can return. He smiled back at me.

"So, how do I compare with non-fireworks guy?" Edward whispered to me.

"Well, I'm not sure that was a fair comparison," I whispered back. "I suggest we do this again, and then I can consider my answer."

"Sounds reasonable to me," Edward agreed as he pulled me close for another kiss.