At long last, a long last chapter.

Happy birthday, americnxidiot! May all your wishes come true—especially the ones we shouldn't talk about outside of gchat.

Chapter 11.

I wake up first the next morning. It sucks because my apartment is the farthest from Alice and Rose's, and I have to be in extra early today. I went to bed the earliest—which was still at 3am—so I'm interested to see how sleeping arrangements worked out. I crashed in Alice's room, and she's still out next to me; in the living room, I find Edward and Jasper passed out on the couches... which means Rose and Em shared her room.

As Emmett said last night, interesting.

The sight in the living room is nothing I haven't seen a million times, after we've wound up crashing at someone's place. But my heart flips anyway. Jasper's on one couch, dead to the world. I swear that boy could sleep through a vuvuzela-airhorn-bagpipe trio. On the other couch—sprawled on his stomach, his feet dangling off one end, his arms draped all over—l is Edward. His head is turned facing me, his mouth slightly open, and his nose and cheeks are still a bit sunburned.

I sit down at the edge of the couch and debate whether to wake him up or not. I'm fairly sure that sleeping is one of the greatest things in the world; it's probably just below Edward and consuming vast quantities of food on my list of favorite things to do, so I'm not sure there is a good way to wake someone up. I mean, is there a good way to take away bacon from a person? No. You're the terrible person that takes away a lovely thing from someone.

It's quite possible that this line of reasoning is proof that I lost my mind around the same time I lost my heart and I almost don't want to wake him. But, I'm greedy and maybe a little selfish and I've missed him too much.

I run my fingers through his hair, brushing away the errant strands that have fallen on his face. He lets out a quiet hum in his sleep… and then turns his head to the other side. Trying to forget about that article that Alice once made me read in Cosmo called "Sleep Rejection: What His Snores Are Telling You That He Isn't", I run my hand down the side of his neck, shaking his shoulder lightly to wake him up.


It's at this point that my patience wears out, and I give up on waking him with loving caresses. After all, I can caress him lovingly once he's awake and that's so much better. Shaking his shoulder forcefully, I wait until his movements indicate consciousness. He turns his head back towards me, maybe sensing the body sitting next to him.

He opens his eyes and looks up at me, then closes them again. A few seconds later, he repeats this motion, opening them once more, then closing them. This time, he keeps them closed but lets the biggest, sweetest smile spread across his face. Then finally, he opens his eyes again and grins at me, making my heart twist and leap in ways that would put ballet dancers to shame.

He slips his arm around me and pulls himself closer to me, burying his face in the side of my thigh.

"Edward," I whisper. "I have to go to work."

"Okay," he mumbles, kissing the skin on my hip where my shirt has ridden up slightly. He doesn't move away though. "Have a good day."

He's so unbelievably cute with his hair everywhere and his still-red nose. I imagine waking up to this every morning, and the thought fills me with a kind of giddiness normally reserved for five year olds at their birthday parties or teenyboppers. Maybe I'll actually become a morning pers—no. I can't even finish that thought. Let's stick to attainable goals.

I gently tug on his arm; in response, he tightens it against me. "Edward, you have to let me go."

"No, never," he says, moving his head into my lap.

I can't not smile, and I brush the hair away from his face before I press on the tip of his nose. He cracks one eye open.

"Fine. Go to work. The sooner you go to work," he says, rolling onto his back and off my lap, "the sooner you can come home and have sex with me."

I roll my eyes. "You mean the sooner I go to work, the sooner we can all go to that bar Alice has been talking about on Washington Street."

He groans. "I forgot."

"You forgot it was Alice's birthday? For a whole thirty seconds?"

"Shit, don't tell her."

"She'd make you celebrate for thirty seconds of tomorrow."

He sits up and rubs his eyes with the heels of his hands. The motion makes him look like a little boy, but he's not wearing a shirt and his sunburn has faded away into an amazing golden color, which makes him look deliciously like a man. "Alright. Al's thing today will be fun."

"Yeah, it will be a good time," I agree.

"But let's talk about something important," he says.

It's a little early in the morning for heavy discussion but being near him has put me in a good mood, so I say, "Sure."

He swings his legs off the couch so he's sitting next to me. "When do I get to have sex with you?"

I laugh. "What you want to schedule it?"

"Well, why not, since it doesn't seem to be happening spontaneously."

"You're going to give me a complex that all you want is sex," I tell him jokingly, nudging his shoulder.

He rolls his eyes. "Please. You should only have a complex if I wasn't sex-obsessed after seeing you in lingerie." He closes his eyes, sitting back on the couch and groans. "Holy motherfuck, that was hot."

I swear, if Edward keeps on with these sweet words, I'm going to be smugger than him soon.

"Tonight," I tell him. "After Al's party. We're going to have a different type of sleepover."

He grins. "Alright." He pulls me in for a light kiss and then immediately asks, "And after that?"

I laugh again and then drag my lips to his ear and say, "Tomorrow."

"When tomorrow?"

For once, I am the one smirking as I get up off the couch, saying, "All of tomorrow."


The workday is a waste. I swear, they should just send me home. I'm so starry-eyed, I'm surprised that I haven't started doodling "Bella Swan isn't ready for the L-word but really, really, really likes Edward Cullen" all over these printouts Carmen asked me to look over.

It's not helped one bit when Edward stops by the office to surprise me for lunch. Even more surprising is the absolutely enormous bouquet in his hands; I'm not particularly good with flower names, but they're that kind that are pretty and brightly colored and… have petals. And holy crap, there's a lot of them. It looks like it could make three decent sized bouquets. I can't even see his face or torso, just his arms looking fantastically tanned with his shirt-sleeves rolled up and his long, long legs.

"Edward!" I say, an uncontrollable grin spreading across my face. "What is all this?"

He lowers his arms slightly and cranes his neck so his face pops into view. "Hi." He's grinning too.

"Hi." I rake my eyes over the bushels in his hands. "You didn't need to get me flowers."

He grins wider. "I didn't." He walks past me to Angela's desk, separating his arms to reveal that it's actually two bouquets. As he's laying it on her desk and she's squealing, "These are for me?" with delight, Carmen pops out of her office.

"Edward!" she greets fondly.

He turns to her, and I know that smile. I think I started dating him because of that smile—and that was through a computer screen when he was three thousand miles away. The danger of the charm in that smile in person is unmatched.

"Hello Carmen," he says, warmly. He hands her the other bouquet. It nearly dwarfs her tiny stature. Edward casually moves to sit at the edge of Angela's desk as the three of us stare of him, jaws agape. "What?" he asks, his head turning as he notices all three of our expressions.

"The flowers?" I say, trying to sound as neutral as possible. I can tell by the way the corners of his lips quirk up that he caught the edge of envy in my voice.

He shrugs and arches an eyebrow. "Are you saying that Carmen and Angela don't deserve flowers simply for being the lovely women they are?" He puts one hand on Angela's shoulder as he says this.

I open my mouth to retort—but can't find anything to say. The smug bastard's got me. I'll either sound like the jealous girlfriend or like Carmen and Angela don't deserve flowers—or knowing my mouth's affinity with my foot, both.

"Really, Edward," Carmen says with this breathy chuckle that I've only heard her use after six p.m at bars filled with rich stockbrokers. "What are the flowers for?"

His smile shrinks in size but not in meaning, and he's not looking at Carmen or Angela, but straight at me when he says, "For setting me up with Gianna, of course."

I can see Angela and Carmen exchange a knowing smile in my peripheral vision, but you couldn't give me all the flowers in the world to look away from Edward right now.

"Is that so?" Angela says slyly, and we break our trance. We're grinning like such morons that Edward is biting the inside of his cheek to control his smile. I turn toward my desk and literally lift stacks of paper and then drop them in the same place, just to have something else to do besides smile like I'm in an Invisalign commercial. My heart is beating so, so fast and that giddy feeling where my toes are tap-dancing is back.

"Sure," Edward replies, somehow smug again. "Best date I never went on."

Angela giggles and says, "Only you could not go on the date and still get the girl, Edward."

I groan and swivel my chair to face them again. "Really, Angela? I realize that he's the love of your life—"

"Of my existence, Bella," she corrects. Edward and her grin good-naturedly at each other.

I roll my eyes. "Whatever. Do you really have to boost his ego like that? He's already kind of insufferable."

"You're clearly just jealous because you didn't get flowers," Carmen says.

Before the girls can keep him here for my entire lunch hour—and I have little doubt they would, since they're looking at him like he's a cross between a teddy bear and vibrator—l stand up and take his arm. Edward says goodbye, and we walk to the elevator.

"I am kind of jealous," I confess.

He raises his eyebrows and looks a little worried. Taking my hand, he says, "I just always thought you didn't particularly like flowers—"

"I don't," I assure him because I don't, really. I mean, they're pretty to look at, but I never remember to water anything and they just wither and make a mess eventually. "But I mean—Angela and Carmen get giant bouquets of flowers, and you couldn't even bring me back some In 'n Out?"

I once considered moving to California just so I could eat In 'n Out burgers with animal-style sauce whenever I wanted. Edward knows this because he was the person that I almost drunkenly booked flight tickets with.

He laughs and tugs on our hands so I stand closer to him. "If it makes you feel better, I ate enough for the both of us." He rubs his stomach—his very flat, hard stomach—with his free hand.

"It doesn't," I grouse.

We step into the elevator, and he kisses me on the forehead. "You're just hungry, so you're grumpy." He's kind of right. "Let's get you some lunch."

"It won't be animal style," I mutter.

He smirks. "Not lunch, but we can see about other things."


"Tell us."


"Tell us."


"Tell us."


Somehow, I'm back here again. We're at the bar to celebrate, and it's late in the evening—or maybe early in the night. I've lost track of time a bit. Alice and Rose are badgering me to tell them who I slept with, Edward's not here because he's still at work, and Jasper's eyeing the whole exchange, looking rather drunk already. The only difference between now and two weeks ago is the smug grin on Emmett's face.

"Can you just at least answer one question about him?" Alice pleads. "For my birthday."

"You already tried to get me to tell you as your birthday gift, Al," I remind her.

She nods. "I know! I'm not asking you to tell me; just answer one question."

I eye her warily. Alice's 'just one's have a way of turning into multiples; like the night before my interview for my current job, where "just one drink" turned into eight and I threw up in the trashcan outside my future office. Or when she made me to go to the gym with her and "just one more sit-up" turned into thirty; the only reason it wasn't fifty is not because I actually started crying, but because I couldn't breathe through the snot.

"Fine," I say, sighing.

"Does his name begin with a 'j'?" she asks.

I shake my head. "No. And that's your—"

"Does it begin with an 'a'?" So much for one question.


"Does it begin with a 'd'?"


"Does it begin with an 'e'?"

"Is he living in a tree?" Emmett pipes up.

"Is he even a he?" Jasper adds.

"I do not like green eggs and ham," Emmett quotes.

"I do not like them, Sam I am!" Jasper finishes and they crack up. It occurs to me that Jasper must already be quite drunk to be rhyming, but I can't help but laugh along with them. I shoot Emmett a grateful look for intervening when he did.

"I just don't get it!" Alice whines. "Why won't you tell us?"

"You know Bella," Emmett says, sounding serious. "Some famous did once say, secrets… secrets are no fun. Secrets… secrets hurt someone."

I make a face. What a turncoat. "Benjamin Franklin once said 'three can keep a secret if two are dead.'" I try and make my face look as threatening as possible, which means I probably look like a Teletubby with indigestion.

"So what you're saying is you'd rather kill us than tell us?" Rosalie says, arching her eyebrow just like her brother does. It's not as sexy though.

"I'm saying I'd tell you… but then I'd have to kill you," I say, grinning.

"Some French dude once said, 'Secrecy is best taught by starting with ourselves'," Emmett offers.

"Wait, why are we quoting people all of a sudden?" Alice asks, which I'm beginning to wonder too.

"Em, does this mean you finally read the book on French writers I lent you?" Jasper asks.

Emmett snorts. "Not really. I was looking for something to read on the can and found it, so I tried a couple pages. It's alright for a shit read."

"I'll never understand that," Alice says. "You know what I like to do when I poop? Poop!"

"That is a dirty fucking lie, Alice!" Emmett roars. We all look at him, surprised to see him so ferocious about anything. "Girls don't poop and you know it."

Rose, Alice and I roll our eyes, possibly in synchronization. "So… what?" I ask. "Girls don't have asses?"

"Oh, they have asses," Emmett says. "I like girls' asses very much."

Alice shakes her head in exasperation. "So they just don't have anuses? Or um… anii?" She looks at me, like I should know the plural of anuses.

I don't.

"'Anus' is such an ugly word," Jasper muses to himself from his corner. Talking to himself is a sure sign that Jasper is drunk.

"I know girls have anuses." Emmett grins lewdly.

Highly unnecessarily, Rose adds, "Emmett likes girls' anuses very much."

"Oh god." All of us turn to the owner of the voice only to see Edward, looking as traumatized as that time he was home for Christmas and called me nearly crying because he heard Esme and Carlisle having sex. I spent the whole phone call making loud noises so he couldn't replay it in his head. "I need some rubbing alcohol to erase that from my mind."

"I think if you order the cheapest vodka they serve here, it'll have the same effect," Emmett supplies helpfully. Edward just holds up his hands, shaking his head from side to side as if he's not quite ready yet.

"I'm going to go to the bathroom and try to vomit out my short term memory," he says. "Someone order me a drink. Or nine, please."

Even in his disgusted state, he catches my eye and holds my gaze for a few seconds. The way his eyes rake over me make me feel like he is touching me everywhere he looks. He quickly darts his eyes to the left, and I can tell that means he wants me to follow after him, so once a few minutes have passed and everyone's deep in conversation, I excuse myself to get another drink.

I catch him in the hallway at the back of the bar, coming out of the men's room.

"Hi," I say, more of a breath than an actual word.

He doesn't even bother with that and just pulls me to him. It's almost a little rough—or it would be if it wasn't Edward because his mouth is insistent but gentle, tugging on my top lip, sucking on my bottom one, coaxing my mouth open until I have no doubt that the only thing that is going to be on our minds for the rest of this night is what will come after it. By the time he pulls away, I can feel my pulse everywhere; slamming in my chest, in my neck, behind my knees and ten little heartbeats on the tips of each of my fingers where they've curled around his neck and into the bottom of his hair.

I'm not sure I'm even standing up by myself, I have somehow wound my arms around him so tightly. "What are you doing to me?" I ask, burying my face in his neck and kissing his Adam's apple.

He lets out a small sigh and says, "Nothing you're not doing right back."

"We better go back out there," I say, sighing.

He nods, and we pull apart slightly. He rakes his hands through my hair where he's just messed it up, and we go from smiling lightly at each other to our big, goofy grins.

"Alright, I'm going to the bar. I'll get you a beer too," I tell him.

"Thanks. Hoegaarden?" he requests.

"You got it."

"Hey Bella," he calls when I'm a few feet away from him. I turn back to see he's got a different kind of smile now. His hands are shoved in his pockets and he's leaning against the wall—his body language is a strange mix of ease and anticipation as he says, "Tonight."

I should probably quit my job and join the cast of Westside Story because of the way I sing that word in my head. But I manage to control myself, just smiling back and saying, "Tonight."


Much, much later in the night, we're all drunker—except for Edward and me—and have scattered a little. Rosalie and Alice, who has found a light up tiara that blinks 'birthday girl', are on the tiny dance floor near the side of the bar, and Emmett and Edward are playing darts at the back. Jasper disappeared to the bathroom ten minutes ago, and when I search around, I see him at the bar by himself.

"Hey, J," I say, sliding into the space next to him

My greeting doesn't seem to register. Instead, he just turns towards me and tilts his head to one side, staring at me curiously, like he's never quite seen me before.

"Bella," he slurs.


"Bella, Bella, Bella."

"Jas, Jas, Jas."

"Bella, I'm in love."

Whoa. What? I have no time to ask Jasper to clarify before he takes my face in each of his hands and pulls it towards his. I'm about to panic that he's going to try and kiss me when he stops, with a mere inch between our faces.

He squeezes my cheeks so my lips pucker out like a fish and sighs. I think this is the drunkest I've ever seen Jasper, which knowing some of our past shenanigans is really saying something.

"I'm in love with Alice," he announces.

I can't decide whether I want to laugh or cry and whether it should be with relief or joy. I settle for prying his hands off my face and hooking my leg around the rung of the bar stool behind me. I sit him down and grab a stool for myself before I say, "Talk to me, Jas."

"I'm in love with Alice!" he wails. He's still slurring, and his Southern accent comes out when he's wasted, so it really sounds like he's saying "Ivan loves shallots" but having known him for a very long time and many drunken escapades, I can decipher what he means. Drunkenly grinning, he stares at somewhere over my shoulder. "She's perfect."

I turn to see that Alice has suckered Edward into dancing but she's a little too drunk, so she stands on his feet. He grimaces at the weight but doesn't say anything, slowly swaying with her. Emmett comes up to them and lifts her straight up, so she's dangling two feet in the air as he turns and twirls. She shrieks with joy as Rosalie lets out a loud happy laugh. Edward starts dancing with his sister but shoots me a smile when he's facing our way. It doesn't make me feel like we're the only two people in the bar—it makes me feel like even with everyone around us and the expanse of space between us, we're still perfect.

"You mentioned that. So, why haven't you told her yet?" I ask, turning back to Jasper.

He shrugs, but does it so dramatically that his arms flop at his sides. "I'm scared."

I nod, understanding way more than he thinks I do. "I get that. But if you love her, that's a risk you have to take."

"But what about Emmett and Rosalie?" he says. "I mean, their break up was ugly—and Emmett's sirloin! I'm only tofurkey!"

"What?" I ask. Either I am very hungry or Jasper has changed the topic.

Neither. "Emmett, he's strong and he's tough and lean. He's sirloin! He's prime rib! He needs a steak knife. But me? I'm tender! I'm tofurkey—I'm tilapia! All you need to cut me is the side of your fork!" He drops his head to bar, right into a spilled spot of strawberry daiquiri, and I'm kind of tempted to leave him there.

But this feelings thing I've started to do lately has also led into this compassion thing that I'm not quite sure I'm comfortable with yet. So I pick Jasper's head off the bar, and using a napkin doused in water, I wipe away the sugary drink from his forehead and eyebrows.

"Not every couple turns out like Rose and Em," I say and then shove the glass of water under his nose and make him drink.

"But I mean, they were friends first. Just like me and Alice. And now?" He makes an exploding noise, which he illustrates by pounding his fists together then splaying his fingers as he arcs his arms. "That was an explosion."

"Yeah, I got that."

"I just don't know if it's a risk I can take," he says, his voice quieter, and I can tell that underneath the alcohol, he really means it.

"Jasper—" I take a deep breath. This is it: the beginning of the end. I can feel the kick I'm going to want to give my ass in the future, but I don't stop myself. "If I tell you something, do you promise to consider telling Alice how you feel? Not tonight, but sometime soon?"

He nods. "Okay."

"Jasper… I'm dating Edward."

And of all the reactions I expected—shock, surprise, that weird bug-eyed look he sometimes gets—he gives me the one I didn't. In fact, he doesn't even give me a reaction.

Then he lets out a strange guffaw. "Nice joke, Bella, but I'm serious."

"So am I!"

He eyes me warily. "I don't believe you. I think you're just trying to convince me to tell Alice."

"By lying about dating Edward? I swear, Jasper, he's my boyfriend. He—he was the guy I slept with! The one I wouldn't tell you all about," I say, in a low voice. The others are far enough away that they can't hear me, but I'm not sure why I bother. The cat's going to be out of the bag pretty soon.

Jasper head bobs back and forth between looking at me and looking at Edward.

"Nahhh," he declares.

I roll my eyes. I never thought I'd have to prove this to any of my friends.

"You don't believe me?" I say. I hop off my bar stool and walk towards the table where the others have just sat down.

"Alice?" I say as I stride over.


"Happy birthday," I tell her as I reach the table.

I grab Edward's face with both hands; if I'm going to do this, it's going to be a big, movie finale type kiss—except we're not in a movie. We're just us, so despite my attempt to kiss the shit out of him, I can feel him smile when he realizes what I'm doing, and then I'm smiling too, and then we're just both laughing into each others' mouths.

I hear a thump on the table, followed by Rosalie saying, "What the fuck?" but I don't pull away and neither does he. It could be because we know we're going to have to answer what amounts to a customer service questionnaire when we pull apart—"please date your experience"; "would you say your experience was unsatisfying, neutral or very satisfying?"; "is this your first time?"; "based on your experience, will you return?".

Or maybe we just like where we are right now.

Turns out our friends don't care so much about waiting for us to finish kissing.

"It was Edward?" Alice screeches as Rosalie moans, "ewwwww."

I shrug, nudging his nose with mine. "It was Edward." I slip my arms around his neck and chuckle at my own sentimentally as I add, "It is Edward."

I crane my neck to see Jasper still sitting at the bar, watching us slack-jawed. He stumbles over.

"You weren't kidding!" he says. "You really are dating Edward!"

"What?" This time it's Rosalie and Alice in unison.

I nudge Edward. "You want to pipe in here?"

He grins lazily at me, slipping his arm around my waist. "Not even a little bit."

"Okay. Okay. Okay." Alice takes a deep breath. "When? No, wait I know when. How? No, I guess I know how too," she says. She makes a face. "Do I want to know where?"

"This is disgusting. You, Bella, are disgusting," Rosalie wails dramatically. "You couldn't at least tell me to stop digging for details about sex with my brother?"

"How was I supposed to do that without giving away that he was your brother?" I ask.


"Don't be an asshole, Rose," I tell her, even though I know she's kidding.

She shoots me a wry smile and says, "I'm pretty sure you're in no position to call me names, you brotherfucker." She's full on grinning now as the rest of the table, even Edward, erupts into laughter.

We joke around for a few minutes till abruptly, Edward says, "Would you look at the time? It's 12:13!" I smile because I know exactly where he's going with this. "It looks like Alice's birthday is over. And Bella and I"—he stands up and grabs my hand—"are getting out of here."

"What? Why?" Alice whines, but I can tell she's not really pissed. They're probably waiting for us to leave so they can analyze every minute we've ever spent together and put some sort of romantic twist on it.

"Uh because I went from the airport straight to your place last night, forgoing any time with Bella. So as much I would never ditch you on your birthday," Edward replies, leaning over to kiss her on the cheek. "It's not your birthday anymore. So goodnight!"

"You're just going to leave us right now?" Rosalie asks, but her words don't have any force either.

"Yup. I've got to live up to the name you gave me," I say, grinning leeringly on purpose. She shudders.

"Emmett gets it. He told me that he was surprised we even showed up last night!" Edward says.

"You knew?" Alice is back to screeching.

Rosalie smacks his shoulder and says, "How could you not tell me?" There's fire in her words but not in her eyes, and the ease in between them is something I haven't seen since they split.

In the melee, Edward tugs on my hand and we leave the bar.

"That wasn't very nice to do to Emmett," I admonish.

He grins. "He'll get over it."

I snort. "So much for 'bros before hos'."

"Hey Bella?"


"Shut up."

And for once, I am absolutely willing to.

— |—

You don't shut up, but I don't really mind. You chatter on as we walk, hand in hand, to your apartment, which is nearby. But the minute we're in the door, you're right where I am, no need for talking, not right now at least, only kissing as we blindly make our way to your bedroom, quiet except for an "ow" when I hit my foot on your dresser and an "oof" when we fall on top of the bed and onto each other.

It's the first time after the first time—well, the first four times—but back then, I didn't know if it'd be the last time; now, there's this calmness underneath everything, from the way your lips crawl down my jaw onto my neck to the way my fingers fumble with the buttons of your shirt. I'm half out of my mind with just wanting to be with you, half relaxed because I can take as much time as I want. I'll get to do this over and over and over again.

It's a strange feeling to be at a loss around you. I'm always so comfortable with you, I don't have to know what to do or what to say because whatever I do or say, you're fine with it.

I'm all over the place. One second, I want you to lead, want you to show me just how and how much you want me, where you'd like me to put my hands, whether or not you'll tug on my hair without me asking you to,whether you've noticed how much I like it when you suck on my Adam's apple. So when you roll us over so you're on top of me, I go with it.

But then the next second, I roll back onto you because now I'm frantic and active, and I want to do things, things I've already done and new things I've thought about since, like using one hand to pin both of yours against the headboard and hooking your knee around my elbow and push, push, pushing so hard and fast that you barely have time to breathe between the noises you're making.

The best part is, like with everything I do or say, you're fine with it. You're more than fine with it, you're going with it, matching my pace and kissing my moans and lacing your fingers through mine where I still hold them above our heads. You're trying new things too, like pushing your heel into my ass, and then you do that thing you already did once, my favorite thing of all. You moan, this high-pitched noise, a breathy "ahh!" that is so unlike you, but smile right after it; you open your eyes and look right at me and smile. Then I'm smiling back and then we're both laughing but not stopping and this is what I couldn't do with anyone else, what I can't do without you.

I love doing this with you, being in you, the skin of your stomach against mine, the little pants you breathe in my mouth because you're too focused on moving your hips to kiss me, the shocked look on your face when I pull out suddenly and put my mouth where other parts of me just were, the gasp when I push back in. That devious little smirk when you push on my shoulders and flip us over, then lower onto me, and the way your head falls like your neck is boneless, and shit shit shit, that feeling when you put your hands on my thighs and lean back.

Now, I'm more than happy to let you do what you want, anything as long as you keep me feeling like this, stretching some string inside of me that's wrapped around your finger, your mouth, your hips, as long as you keep moving like that until I'm coming and going and releasing and holding onto you so, so tight.

You curl on top of me as we both catch our breath and I'm torn once again between thinking it can't possibly be any better and going again I as soon as I can, because I know that every time with you is going to be the best time.


"Hey, Edward?" I say. He hums and I bury my nose in his slightly sweaty, smooth skin. We've just been lying here for the last half an hour, drifting in and out of sleep. My entire body feels stretched out and sated, even a little sore in the best way possible. "There's a boy in my bed."

He laughs, and I like that I can feel as well as hear it. "Oh God." His voice is slightly slurry with sleep. "I still remember when you sent me that text message. I think we'd met like once or twice, but we'd never really hung out, and then I got that message and was like, 'What the fuck?'"

"I didn't mean to!" I say. "My phone book was alphabetical by last name, and I texted you instead of Rose."

"I had no idea what to do. I didn't know if you were okay, or if you were trying to make conversation—really weird conversation—or if…"

I tilt my head to look up at him, but all I get is an eyeful of stubbly jaw. I'm perfectly alright with that. "If what?"

He clears his throat delicately. "Umm… if you were trying to make me jealous."

I pull away so I can look him in the eye. "What?"

"Well… we still didn't know each other that well at that point, and—I don't know! When we first met, you weren't Bella yet. You were just my sister's hot friend! I kind of wanted to bang you."

I laugh. "Well, you did."

"Yeah, like seven years later."

I think about that. "Wow, seven years."

"Yeah, that's a long time."

"Do you think we were always going to end up like this?" I ask. I feel too far away from his skin, so I tuck my head into his neck, running my nose along the underside of his jaw.

He leans back, settling me on his chest as he plays with the ends of a few strands of my hair. He's really thinking about his answer.

"I really never thought about us, or you, as anything more before that night," he says quietly. "I mean you were my best friend, so obviously I liked you, but I didn't ever really consider more."

"Can I ask you something?" He hums his 'yes' as I move my body so I'm draped over him and put one fist on top of the other on his chest, balancing my chin on them. "Why'd you sleep with me that night?"

He cranes his neck to look at me. "Why'd you sleep with me?"


"No, please lie to my face."

I roll my eyes. "Because you're probably the most attractive man I know."

He snorts and lets his head fall back onto the pillow. "You only wanted me for my body."

"Pretty much."

"C'mere," he says, grasping my shoulders and pulling me so I'm above him, my hair framing our faces. He gathers it in one hand and maneuvers it so it's falling over just one shoulder. "I slept with you because"—he takes a deep breath and his brows furrow—"I had this thought that was like 'I want to kiss Bella.'"

"So you did."

He chuckles. "Sort of. I think the thing that shocked me more was that I didn't freak out when I thought that. So then I kind of wanted to see if I wouldn't freak out if I actually did kiss you. And I didn't, and neither did you."

"Wow," I say, sighing exaggeratedly. 'That's so romantic."

"You think?"

I make a face. "Oh yes, it's lovely that apathy led you to kiss me."

He laughs and crosses his arms behind my neck, pulling me down closer to him. "When I did kiss you, and you kissed me back, and I didn't freak out, and you didn't freak out—it was like a switch flipped. Suddenly, I wanted to see what else I could do with you. And then, I just wanted to do everything with you."

I squint at him. "Are you sure you never had a long suffering crush on me?" I tease even though I know he never did.

He laughs. "I always knew you were hot, but no. I never pined for you."

I laugh. "I don't know if anyone outside of a Bronte sister novel really pines, but yeah, I never pined for you, either."

He smiles and tilts his chin to look down on me. "I'm glad."

"You are?"

"Yeah," he says, nodding as his grins grows wider. "I'm glad that neither of us pined or made ourselves miserable at any point. This whole thing with you—it's been the easiest thing in the world. I kind of like it that way."

"None of that 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' stuff?" I ask, still teasing.

He kisses me as he pushes the duvet aside and gets up, saying, "Nope. I'm weak and I'm alive and I'm happy."

He is. It's what he's always been, just an innately happy, sweet person. I'm what I've always been too, neurotic and silly and trying to make easy things a challenge. And if our seven years of friendship and these few weeks of something more has taught me one thing, it's that the only thing that Edward and I may be better at than being ourselves is being with each other.

He pulls on his boxers and grabs his shirt, tossing it to me. "I'm hungry," he announces, walking into the living room. After I put on the shirt, I follow him out. I watch him rummaging around my kitchen from the couch and ask him what he's doing.

"Making pancakes," he answers. I swear, he couldn't have given a more perfect answer. I mean, great sex and affection is wonderful but food, especially food that involves butter—that's really the delicious, fatty foundation we're going to build this relationship on.

"Hey, can I use your phone to look up a recipe?" he asks and I nod.

"You know… I think I'm upset that you didn't pine," I tell him.

He looks up from the phone and raises an eyebrow. "I thought you said no one outside of a Bronte novel pines."

"Maybe I want a Bronte novel."

"Fine, we'll take a vacation near some cliffs. There were cliffs in one of those books, right?"

"Maybe I want a Bronte man," I clarify.

He frowns. "I thought all the Brontes were women. I have no idea what you're going on about."

I roll my eyes. "You, sir, do not deserve to share a name with Rochester."

"Alright, that's enough," he mutters, striding out of the kitchen. He dives into me on the couch and I shriek, laughing as he tosses me over his shoulder and stands up.

I'm saddened for a moment over the loss of the pancakes, but then—in a true sign of personal growth—realized I'd rather have this more... right now. The pancakes will still have to come later. I'm still me, after all. I pretend to protest, trying to tickle him by jabbing my fingers into his ribs from behind and swatting his ass until he says, "Be careful, I might like that."

He walks back into my bedroom and lobs me onto the mattress. He stands next to the bed, catching his breath, hands on his hips, watching me.

I look up at him. "Well, now that you got me here, what are you going to do with me?" I ask.

He grins slowly. "So, so much."

Just an all-EPOV epilogue, which I'll post sometime next week hopefully, and we're done. I've also contributed a BPOV futuretake to the Fandom Fights Tsunami compilation so please consider donating!

To americnxidiot, who tirelessly betas this story and sometimes betas my real life, all I can say is:


I'm kind of really sad to see this story come to an end; it's been some of the most fun I've ever had writing and that is because of you guys. Your reviews and tweets and PMs and just general reactions have made this SUCH a pleasure, I can't tell you. Thanks for putting up with extra long chapters, extra long delays, no review replies and just me, in general. I adore every one of you.

See you at the epilogue, but until then, please leave me your thoughts!