AN: Huge lovin' goes out to Busymommy and my pre-readers! You guys rock my world! FFn is still suckage with the review reply links, so there were 13 people this week who didn't get their review replies because their PMs aren't turned on.
It's been a crazy week for me, so I haven't had a chance to send out the surveys for the people who donated to CHOP. Never fear, you'll get them tomorrow for sure! I can't wait to see what you choose!
Chapter 14: Comatose
I don't wanna live, I don't wanna breathe
Unless I feel you next to me
You take the pain I feel
Waking up to you never felt so real
I don't wanna sleep, I don't wanna dream
'Cause my dreams don't comfort me
The way you make me feel
Waking up to you never felt so real
Comatose by Skillet
James swallowed nervously as the large man entered the room, a murderous look upon his face. This was definitely not how he'd imagined this day going.
Emmett's eyes sought out Bella and once ascertaining she was safe, his gaze swung to the newcomer. James waved and smiled nervously.
"Who the fuck are you? And what you doing here?" Emmett growled, in full protective mode.
James nervously rubbed the back of his neck. "Hey, there," he replied coolly, attempting to mask his fear. "You must be Emmett. I'm Izzy's boyfriend, James."
Bella kicked him swiftly in the shin.
"Ow, what the fuck, Iz?" he squeaked, reaching down to rub his leg.
"Don't be a shit," she whispered in annoyance.
"Damn, fine. Apparently ex-boyfriend now that 'Abs-of-Steel' over there's replaced me," he replied jokingly.
Edward blinked in surprise and raised his eyebrows. Bella's eyes drifted over as well, taking in the way his undershirt clung tightly to stomach while his button up flowed open. She looked up and met his hungry green eyes, not even slightly embarrassed to have been caught checking him out. She swallowed thickly, blocking out her x-rated thoughts and tried to focus on the matter at hand: tying to keep James in one piece.
She cleared her throat and focused on the grizzly bear currently taking up residence in the living room. "Em, this is my friend, James. I've told you about him before."
Emmett's glare lessened slightly. "Okay, but what's he doing in my living room?"
She raised a brow. "Your living room? Last time I checked, this was Mac's house. Yours is across town."
He waved his hand in dismissal. "You know what I mean, Scrappy."
"Scrappy?" James asked, amusement coloring his tone. "Is that your nickname?"
She nodded distractedly, still focusing on Emmett. James clapped his hands and let out a guffaw.
"Oh my God," he giggled. "You're named after a breakfast meat."
Everyone turned and gave the newcomer incredulous looks.
"What are you talking about, man?" Emmett asked, his confusion overpowering his ire.
James shoved his hands in his pockets and shrugged. "Scrappy? You know, like the breakfast meat made of scraps?" He looked over at Bella. "You know, we had it in Philly last year."
"You moron," she laughed. "You're talking about Scrapple, not Scrappy. Scrappy is a cartoon character."
"Ohhhh," he murmured, rubbing his face.
She knew her friend well enough to know he was doing what he did best: acting. She didn't blame him in the least for trying to alleviate the tension with humor. She smiled and shook her head, hoping that it had worked. She glanced at Emmett, who was suppressing a smile. His eyes met her and he shook his head.
"You sure can pick them, Bells."
James sat down on the couch and scoffed playfully. "This coming from the linebacker who named her after after an annoying yappy puppy."
Emmett crossed his arms defensively. "Hey now," he argued, "she totally earned it when we were younger."
The front door slammed shut once again and Rosalie sauntered into the room. "What in the hell's going on here? Em, why did you call me freaking out?" She stopped in her tracks when her eyes landed on their visitor. She smoothed her hair down and gave him a bright smile.
"Holy shit, James Tillman! I'm one of your biggest fans!" she said excitedly, walking over to the couch and sitting next to him. "You were brilliant in Blood Moon. I mean, that performance was, wow!"
James gave her one of his 'panty-dropping' smiles and thanked her kindly.
"Rose," Emmett growled, causing his wife to startle and look up at him. He nodded at James and glared. Seeing the look on his face, her smile morphed comically into a frown, leveled at James.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Tillman," she muttered under her breath, so that only James and Bella could hear. James bit his lip to hold back laughter and Bella rolled her eyes.
"It's okay, Miss," James trailed off, waiting for a response.
Rose blushed, making Bella's eyes widen in surprise. "Rosalie," she replied shyly.
"Oh, come on!" Emmett shouted. "For real? Tillman, stop hitting on my wife. Rosie, stop batting your eyelashes at the movie star. Sheesh."
He sighed and plopped down into Mac's recliner, as if exhausted. Bella glanced over at Edward, still standing awkwardly on the outskirts of the conversation. She motioned for him to come sit with her on the love seat and he complied with a smile. As they curled up on the small couch together, she felt a completeness that she only felt when she was around him.
She sighed and looked around at her friends, her family. James gave her an encouraging smile, which bolstered her nerves a bit.
"Okay, so I guess we should get some things out in the open," she started. "James came here to, erm, encourage me to return to L.A."
She felt Edward stiffen next to her and she reached for his hand to hold, hopefully bringing him some comfort.
Emmett sat forward and pointed his finger at James. "See? I knew you were no good, Hollywood."
James scoffed. "Hollywood? Is that the best you could come up with? Oh yeah, that's right. You're the guy who named his best friend after a dog."
Emmett's face flushed a purple hue, a sure sign that his temper was about to blow. Bella shook her head and continued to speak.
"Okay, knock it off. Anyway, after listening to his reasoning, I can't deny the fact that he's right. I have obligations I need to go back to, but rest assured, now that I have you guys, I'm not letting you go. I'll keep in touch and hopefully we can visit each other until I get things settled. I don't know for certain what the future holds, but I'd like to look for some studio space in Seattle."
"Seattle?" Edward asked tentatively, as if trying to hold back hope.
She nodded and smiled brightly. "Yeah, I've been kind of obtuse and childish with not wanting to think past the here and now, but James set me back on track. I have two weeks before I go back, but it's far from the end."
The tension in his body visible melted away with the knowledge that although she was leaving, she was thinking about a future that involved them.
"Okay," he murmured, absent-mindedly playing with a strand of her hair. "We'll do whatever we can to make this easier on you, Princess."
Bella shook her head. "I'm not worried about me; I'm worried about you guys."
"Why do you say that?" Rosalie asked.
James pulled a leg up onto the couch and shifted the blonde's way slightly. He gave her a warm smile, before speaking softly. "Because she's a celebrity. Not just any celebrity, mind you. She's one of the most sought after singers in the United States. Photogs and Paparazzi follow her every move. Back in L.A., it's the norm; everyone's used to it. Can you imagine how all of your lives would be affected if they got wind that Izzy Dwyer was here? They'd completely overrun your town."
He smiled sympathetically. "How do you think your neighbors would feel about scumbags rifling through your trash? Or poking around, asking personal questions about Iz and your family's connection to her? You'd never get a moment's peace."
He looked between Emmett and Edward. "I know you guys love her, I don't blame you. She's incredible and I know how lucky I am to call her a friend. I'm not saying you should hide and pretend like you don't know her, I'm just suggesting that we keep things low key for now."
Emmett nodded reluctantly. "I see where you're coming from." He looked over at Bella and smiled sadly. "I don't want you to go. I know you have to, but it still sucks."
She stood up and knelt in front of him, grasping him by the hands. "Yeah, it sucks," she acknowledged. "But imagine if I'd never taken the chance and ran off into the night. We'd both still be missing a part of our hearts, right? Nothing can take us away from each other now, Shaggy. It's just finger-lengths on a map. We're still connected here." She motioned between their hearts, feeling her eyes sting with tears as his own became glassy.
Emmett swallowed and nodded, too overcome to speak. She was right about one thing, no matter what happened, he'd never lose her again. She was his sister, in every sense of the word. He rose to his feet slowly, bringing her up with him. He hugged her tightly and sighed before letting her go.
"I'm going to head back to the bar, since everything seems to be in control here. We'll talk more later, right?"
She nodded. "Sure."
He shook his head and smirked. "I'd be prepared for an Alice-Ambush at breakfast, if I were you."
Bella rolled her eyes good-naturedly. "I can only imagine."
He kissed her on the forehead and made his way towards the door. "Come on, babe, let's hit the road."
Rose's pouted and batted her eyelashes at her husband. "Can't I stay for a little while? Please?"
Emmett blinked comically. "Seriously, Rose?"
She nodded innocently and he sighed. "Fine, but if you lay one finger on my wife, Hollywood, I'll re-arrange that pretty face."
James grinned. "You think I'm pretty?"
Emmett growled and stalked out of the room, shutting the front door roughly. James glanced over at Bella and waggled his eyebrows. He patted Rose's arm and smiled. "I'm sorry I aggravated your husband, beautiful."
She waved him off and grinned. "It's okay, he's easy to rile up. And don't think I didn't catch you checking out his ass as he left."
James' brows shot up as high as they'd go, before he broke out into laughter. "Dear Lord, Iz, you have such awesome friends."
Edward glanced between the pair on the couch in confusion. "I'm lost here. What was that?"
"Jame was checking out Em," Bella replied, bit her lip to hide her smile. She found his confusion utterly adorable. It'd be a lie to say that she wasn't looking forward to his trademarked blush once he finally figured it out.
Rose rolled her eyes. "I know you're not that dense, Edward. Usually when one man checks out another man, it means he's gay. Ring any bells?"
His mouth formed the shape of an 'o' as it sunk in.
"Technically, I'm Bisexual," James interjected. "I like to think of it as 'Equal Opportunity Lovin'."
Bella's eyes were trained on Edward, who didn't fail to produce that warm pink color upon his cheeks, making her feel fuzzy inside. She sat next to him and nudged his knee with hers, as Rose and James chatted on idly in the background.
"Are you okay?" she asked quietly.
He half shrugged. "I guess so. I mean, there's still some stuff to talk about, right?"
She nodded as he continued.
"Like, what happens to us when you leave? Are we still together? Or do you want a break while we're separated? Shit, will being back there change how you feel about me?" He ran his hands through his hair in agitation.
Her brow furrowed, not sure where all of this was coming from. "Edward," she replied softly. "Why would you think that?"
He swallowed and leaned back against the cushions, smiling sadly. "Angela."
She pursed her lips, that one word bringing understanding.
"Can we talk about this later?" he asked quietly, glancing across at James.
She looked over at the clock, surprised to see that it was already going on five o'clock. She stood and smiled at her friends. "I'm going to make some dinner. Do you guys want to join us?"
Rosalie smiled and shook her head as she rose to her feet.. "No thanks, I should be heading back to Mac's soon. Lord only knows what kind of trouble Em is getting into." She turned to James and shook his hand. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Mr. Tillman."
He responded with a genuine smile. "Please call me James, Rosalie. We should get together and hang out if you come and visit Izzy sometime."
The Amazon bit her lip and nodded shyly. "Sounds like a plan." She turned and hugged Bella tightly, before saying goodbye to Edward and making her way out of the house.
Bella glanced between the two men watching each other carefully and had to suppress a giggle. She figured that a little time alone might break the ice between them, so she stole away silently into the kitchen, only to find Mac sitting at the table reading a newspaper. He looked up and gave her a half-smile that made her breath catch in her throat. She'd never realized what a striking resemblance the older man bore to her father. She shrugged it off, blaming her haywire emotions.
She worked silently, putting together a lasagna. After she placed it into the oven, she sat with her godfather.
"Anything new and exciting?" she asked, motioning toward his copy of the Peninsula Daily News.
He shrugged and closed the paper. "Not much, really. Same old, same old." He averted his eyes and looked down at the table.
"What's wrong, Mac?"
He sighed and looked up at her sadly. "I know you've got to go, but I can't get over just how much I'm going to miss you. This old place will be too quiet."
She spoke her next words without thinking them through, surprising both of them. "You could always come with me." The more she thought about the idea, the more she liked it.
Mac's eyebrows raised. "Thanks, but I doubt you'd want an old man cramping your style."
"No, wait," she interjected. "Seriously, think about it. You're retired and spend most of your day sleeping or fishing."
He rolled his eyes. "Yeah, I'm just one step away from the retirement home, eh?"
She smiled apologetically. "Sorry, I didn't mean it like that. But in all honesty, this could benefit us both."
"How so?" he asked, the idea of spending some time in the sun greatly appealing to him.
"When I get back, I'll be re-negotiating my contract and fulfilling some obligations, but my main goal is get everything settled so I can move back to Washington and be closer to you guys. With this stalker still around, we can say you're my personal bodyguard, so you'll get to stay by my side. My days aren't always jammed-packed, so I can show you some sights, too."
She rocked back on the chair's hind legs, feeling a little smug. "That way, you'll also get a little vacation from rainy Forks. It's a win-win situation."
Mac eyed her thoughtfully. "That's a very tempting offer. Let me think about it and talk to Em." He reached out and squeezed her hand. "I like the idea, don't get me wrong, but I want to think it through and make sure he's okay with it."
She smiled brightly and nodded, before getting up to check on dinner. The cheese was bubbling nicely and it smelled divine, so she walked into the living room to let the guys know it was almost time to eat. As she turned the corner, she stopped in her tracks. James and Edward were both sitting together on the couch, laughing like old friends. The sight warmed her heart and renewed her feeling that everything was going to be just fine.
A few hours later, Bella found herself nervously tapping her fingers on her thigh, as she waited for Edward to finish in the bathroom. She laid back against his pillows, her silk sleep shorts and matching camisole sliding softly against her skin. Her mind spun in dirty directions, picturing him half-naked behind that door. She breathed in deeply through her nose and closed her eyes. She'd had sex before, but everything with Edward felt brand new. She'd never been promiscuous by modern standards, but the fact that her number of sexual partners was triple his, made her feel a little dirty. For the first time in her life, she regretted sharing her body without any emotional connection. Not that they'd all been disappointing situations, she still had a sneaking suspicion that making love with a man she loved would blow them all out of the water.
She thought back to James' comment before they'd left the house. He was an annoying fucker at times, often using humor inappropriately, but he always knew just what to say to make her feel better. He pulled her aside and hugged her tightly.
"I may come off like a dick, but I'm happy for you. Abs is a nice guy and you can tell he really loves you. You better hold onto this one, Miss Iz, or I'll make it my personal mission to turn him into a switch hitter."
She laughed and buried her face into his shoulder, smelling his familiar brand of expensive cologne. "You keep your dick away from my man, James."
He kissed her forehead and winked. "I'll do my best." He sighed and pulled away. "I'll be heading out early tomorrow, so this is goodbye. I promise I'll talk to Tanya as soon as I get back into town, okay?"
She nodded and smiled softly, turning to head back to Edward.
"Oh, and Iz," he called out, smirking. "I'll try not to defile your sheets, okay?"
She glared and pointed her finger at him. "You better not, asshat. I don't know where your filthy ass has been lately."
He winked and grinned lasciviously. "It's not my ass you need to be worried about."
She laughed and flipped him off as she walked away, making a mental note to wash the sheets tomorrow afternoon.
Now here she was, nervous as a virgin on prom night and she had no idea why. This was her Edward, who was kind and sweet. She knew she had nothing to be worried about. The bathroom door creaked open and she kept her eyes closed, swallowing the lump in her throat. She felt the bed dip and his fingers dance softly up her arm, coming to rest on her cheek. Opening her eyes, she met his verdant ones, bright with desire.
He smiled and leaned down to gently kiss her lips. Her eyes closed once again and she felt herself slip away, while he laid down alongside of her body. When his hand slid up her naked thigh, Bella released a sigh of contentment. She shifted and cocked her leg around his hip, pulling his body to settle comfortably on top of her. His lips slowly made their way down her neck, igniting a path of fire along the way.
"Edward," she moaned lightly. She felt him smile against the skin right above her heart, before placing a kiss there, so soft and gentle that she barely felt it.
He shifted and brought his mouth back to her lips, before pulling back. His eyes bored deeply into hers, the sheer amount of adoration she saw in them took her breath away. She had the strangest urge to pull away, grab her notebook and pen the most beautiful song ever written, but nothing on Earth would pull her out of this moment. The world could live without another great love song. She couldn't live without this moment in time with him.
In her eyes, it was an even trade off.
"Bella," he whispered hoarsely, leaning down to capture her mouth with his lips again.
"Edward, please," she murmured in response.
"Please what, baby? What do you want?"
"I want you," she gasped, his lips sucking gently at the base of her throat. "Just you."
"I'm yours, Princess," he replied, his voice deep and gravelly.
She reached up and cupped his face in her hands. "I love you," she said softly. "I'm yours, body and soul. I understand why you stopped us before, but I've laid myself bare for you tonight. I'm all in this. If I can't find a way to balance everything, I'll give it all up. For you."
His eyes swam with an unnamed emotion, but she figured that she must've said the exact right thing when his lips crashed into hers swiftly, desperately. She could feel the heat of his body even more, a flame igniting them both at the same time. All the love songs of yesterday and today collided in her head, making her swoon over this man who was showing her how much he wanted and loved her.
She reached up and touched his face softly with the tips of her fingers, slowly tracing his jaw line. He closed his eyes at her touch, humming just a little, her fingers playing his body like her beloved Gibson. The tempo of her heart matched his, two erratic drums beating in unison. He leaned down, kissing along her jaw, tasting her before working his way down her collarbone, his teeth nipping and causing her to shiver.
She felt feathery kisses down between her breasts, the trail forming a heart that he finished with one right in the middle. It was too adorable and sweet to be corny. He worked his way to her breasts, lavishing them each with attention. If she didn't know any better, she could've sworn he was humming one of her love songs as he worked his way back up to her mouth. His hands slid down, feeling and touching, before kissing her harder than before. He was strumming her body, learning it, finding what made it sing for him. He watched her body, taking notes, learning what to do again the next time. These sensations were all new to her. She'd orgasmed in the past, but nothing compared to what she felt now. Maybe because it was with someone she truly loved, she wasn't sure. She only knew that he was doing things to her, making her feel things she'd never imagined.
He moved his hands to her side, lifting up on his elbows to look at her. She gazed back at him through lids heavy with desire, aching for him to do more than touch her, to feel her. She wanted to be complete with him, needing him more than words could express.
"Are you sure?" he whispered hoarsely, his eyes searching hers.
"I've never been more sure of anything in my life," she half-moaned.
He reached over to his nightstand, pulling out a condom before opening it and sliding it over his length. He was gentle, pushing and pulling, the beat and tempo of their bodies making sweet love. It wasn't rough, it wasn't soft, it was just the way it was supposed to be.
As clichéd as it sounded, the moment he sunk fully into her, joined together in the most intimate way, her world spun on its axis. In that moment, that one singular moment, her entire world was redefined. She wasn't Izzy Dwyer. She wasn't Bella Swan. She was herself; the person deep down she has always been. She'd just been waiting for him to bring her back from the depths of her soul.
Hours later, she lay half strewn across him, feeling his chest expand and contract as he slept peacefully. She wondered just what she'd done to deserve this wonderful man, this piece of Heaven. She closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep, his name the last coherent thought in her mind.
Chapter song: Comatose by Skillet
A huge thank you to DaniaCullen who helped out so much with this chapters lemon when it was giving me a hard time! (TWSS)