A/N: There are so many people to thank for this piece. First, to ikinz, who this would not exist without. You bought me up for Fandom Gives Back, then gave me the inspiration for "Pornward" and let me run wild with him. He touched me in (ahem, non-physically) ways I didn't expect. The freedom you allowed me to tell his story is so appreciated, and your generosity won't be forgotten soon. By the way, this story is based loosely on actual events, dear readers, so if you think I went too far somewhere, keep that in mind. ;)
To TwilightMundi, best beta ever - thank you. Without you, I am nothing. To my fabulous pre-readers, apolloandbaby and mahogany720 - your time and eyeballs and beautiful brains and feedback was so very appreciated. Your friendship is something I could never thank you enough for.
I'd been married to Aro for fifteen years. Fifteen of the longest years in my short life. I could hardly believe I was already approaching my thirty-fourth birthday. As I sat at my desk thinking about what I'd accomplished – granted, a lot for my husband and the community in that time – I got depressed.
Somewhere in the first few years of our marriage, Aro and I had turned from a whirlwind romance to roommates. It wasn't bad, mind you. We each did what made us happy, and to outsiders, we looked like the perfect couple. He held my hand when it was appropriate, would open doors for me and pull out my chair at social functions, but there was no passion, no spark. No sex.
I got a crazy notion that for my birthday, I was going to fix things in my life. I thought about how to make Aro happy, what he might want, so that things could possibly return to how they used to be. He was constantly complaining about how he had no room around the house to work, and since he was a very successful businessman, I wanted to support him however I could.
Picking up my phone, I dialed my friend and interior designer, Esme. We agreed to meet for cocktails and lunch the following day, and I hung up with a smile.
I had a plan. I was going to make my husband happy. Hopefully, he was going to make me happy. Things would be okay.
Lunch with Esme was like every other time we got together – filled with gossip, laughs, and several stiff drinks. She was one of my closest friends, someone I trusted with all of my secrets. She knew how things were with Aro, and so when I told her about the project I had in mind and what I hoped it might accomplish, she really got the weight and meaning of it, which I was thankful for.
A few sketches later and we had the basic plan for a conversion of my formal living room (which never got used anyway) into an executive-worthy office. Esme had a list of contractors she wanted to call in for the project, painters and carpentry people, and we'd agreed on a rough estimate for the budget. Obviously I couldn't do it as a surprise, but Aro was pretty oblivious, so until or unless he asked, I decided to just tell him I had a project going on without going into detail.
I was surprised how quickly Esme got to work. The next day, there were people in my house getting down to business. Esme came over a few times during the construction phase to oversee things and introduce people, but mostly, they worked unattended and unsupervised.
When it was clear they were finishing up with the last of the remodel, Esme let me know she was bringing her painter by for a bid and estimate, and to discuss paint colors. I was completely unprepared when they walked through the front door. My hair was a mess, I was wearing my yoga clothes, and I had zero makeup on.
Not that it mattered, I reminded myself as I shook the painter's hand, I was a married woman. I could still look, though, right?
The three of us stood in the kitchen as we thumbed through swatch books, discussing the pros and cons of each color as Esme looked at her sketches again. I mostly looked at Edward. Especially when he walked away to measure the room and write up his bid.
"Jesus, Es, why didn't you tell me you were bringing someone so hot over?"
Esme just laughed and shook her head, focusing on paint and projects and somehow ignoring the gorgeous man one room over. Oh, I knew how she refrained – she had a gorgeous man of her own at home. One that probably bent her over the island in her kitchen several times a week, I thought, as I sighed at the paperwork in front of us. It had been … years, I realized, since Aro had bent me over anything.
I felt so old, so used, so done.
As Edward approached us again, handing his paperwork to Esme, I took him in. He was tall – at least six feet. I could wear heels and he'd still be taller than me. His hair was shaggy, unkempt, and his clothes rumpled. I guess since he spent all day painting, he had no reason to wear a three-piece suit. His voice startled me out of my thoughts, and I shook his hand again before he left.
"Bella, honey," Esme said with a laugh. "You've gotta do something about your situation. You practically wagged your tongue at him."
"I know, I know."
She was right, I decided. I wanted my marriage to work. Maybe it just needed a little spicing up, and I could do that, right?
Edward was at the house almost every day after the contract was signed. He painted, focused and concentrated, and never once crossed any sort of lines with me.
I, however, watched and lusted. It was wrong, but okay since it was all in my head, I decided.
A few days later, when the box of toys I'd ordered online showed up, I got excited. I thought maybe Aro would want to have fun that night, so I put on a new piece of sexy lingerie; my body had held up well over the years, and I took great care of myself. I felt desirable for the first time in a long time as I looked at myself in the mirror, hair and makeup done, silk and lace draped over my body in all the right ways.
When I walked out to the living room, though, the reception was less than what I'd hoped it might be. Aro barely looked up from his paperwork, and when he did, he let out a dramatic sigh.
Just one word was all it took to dash my hopes. I knew, right then, there was no point fighting it anymore. I still felt like I had so many years ahead of me – fun years, they could be, or they could be spent just like this.
"I want a divorce," I said quietly. I had no idea where it had even come from; I'd been so afraid of being on my own, I'd allowed this life to consume me. To create a false sense of peace and happiness. But no more.
Aro's response was an equally quiet "Okay," and he simply went back to his papers, solidifying in my mind that I'd made the right choice.
I talked to a lawyer the following day, then made sure the remodel was going as planned. While Aro was at work, I indulged in my online purchases solo, and decided it wasn't such a bad option. I was at least slightly less frustrated.
When the office was nearly complete several weeks later, Aro told me he wanted a few other rooms painted, as long as we had people around to do it. He was keeping the house, so after he gave me some color options, I talked to Edward and he agreed to add them onto his existing contract.
It was nice having Edward around, even if he was rather loud and distracting. We talked at times, never anything more than surface conversation, but light and easy banter.
I was sad to see him go when the jobs were finished. I could admit that the majority of the reason was because he'd become a bright spot in my day. Our talks didn't revolve around real life issues, and we never dug into the drama of my life. I wasn't even sure if he knew what was going on with Aro.
Over the next few months, I packed up my stuff and moved into a cute little apartment I got with Esme's help. It was cozy and perfect for me. We decorated it exactly how I'd always wanted, and planned fancy dinner parties with our friends. Esme was sweet, asking several times if I wanted her to set me up with anyone, but I declined. I just wanted some time to figure out who I was and what I really wanted from my life.
She was over, helping me unpack the last of my things on a hot summer day, when we ran across a DVD I'd accidentally packed in with my desk paperwork. Well, she ran across it – otherwise, I'd have just trashed it.
"Come on, Bella, cheesy porn? Did you pay for this? Let's watch it!"
"No, it came free with my toys," I explained.
The enthusiasm in her voice made me laugh. She unwrapped the DVD and put it into the drive on my laptop as I continued to sort and file papers. Moaning and grunting was hilarious background noise as Esme went to the kitchen to grab fresh Diet Cokes for us, and when she stopped in front of my laptop, she bent over slowly, then spewed her drink everywhere.
"What the fuck?" I shouted, now soaking, and not in the good way.
Esme was pointing, her mouth still wide open as she gaped at the laptop. I tuned in to the voices coming from the speakers, and was equal parts horrified and excited. I could hear Edward and what sounded like several women. I knew if I turned, I'd see him there, naked and in all his glory, and I was conflicted.
That didn't last long, though, as Esme made my decision for me, turning my office chair and forcing me to look.
Sure enough, it was Edward and (I carefully counted the bent and contorted bodies) four women, having a very good time. Much to my chagrin, my body reacted immediately to seeing him there, naked, hard, ripped, and fucking. I was jealous; I wanted to be the woman he had laid out like a buffet. I wanted to be the one he was pounding into. The one he was making come so hard.
"You know he's going to be at your dinner party next week, right?" Esme half-giggled to herself.
"What? No! Esme!"
She just shrugged and laughed it off. "You need some fun in your life, Bella. Yes, I invited him. Get over it."
I spent the next week shifting between worry, panic, and excitement. Esme went shopping with me to get a new dress, and I got my hair cut and colored that week. We had mani/pedis, and got waxed. I had no idea why we were going to such great lengths – there was no way a porn star would have any interest in me, and even if he did, I didn't know how I felt about my life just then, or the possibility of romantic involvement, and with a porn star, much less.
I had also placed an order for more toys, secretly hoping that my next free DVD would have more Edward in it. I may or my not have also Googled his name to try and find more. I was lonely, and he was fucking hot. By the time the dinner party rolled around, I'd seen more of Edward than I ever had of Aro.
Alice, Jasper, Esme, Carlisle, and poor Edward showed up for dinner. It was awkward sitting across from him, having images of his o-face pop into my head and make me want to burst into spontaneous giggles. Esme kicked me under the table more than once, and I really was trying to behave.
When the night was over, I was exhausted but grateful for the company of my friends. It had been the most uncomfortable few hours in recent memory, trying to keep my composure and feed everyone and keep the conversation flowing. Esme and Carlisle left last, and she hugged me tight.
"It'll be okay, eventually," she reminded me.
"I know. Thank you, Es."
I continued to watch my dirty Edward videos, pleasuring myself and feeling guilty. Esme never failed to throw in a covert tease about it when I saw her. I learned to laugh at it; what else could I do? She had me dead to rights.
Although I gave up my career when I married Aro, I'd begun to write again, and it felt amazing. I was using my brain, being creative, and finding my happiness.
Sitting in a coffee shop on a rainy afternoon, my nose was buried in my notebook, frantically scribbling notes for an upcoming piece I was writing.
I didn't even have to look up; Edward was standing in front of me, I knew from his voice alone.
"Hi," I said, lifting my head to drink him in. "How are you, Edward?"
Smiling, I motioned to the empty chair, silently offering it to him. As he sat, I noticed he was wearing nicer clothes than I'd ever seen him in – clean, well-fitting jeans, designer shoes, and a dark blue polo shirt. And he smelled? Amazing. His hair looked freshly cut, as well.
"I'm good. How are you?"
For the first time, I noticed his smile. It was soft and easy; genuine.
"I'm okay. Just working on an article, trying to make my deadline," I said. "Boring stuff."
I laughed a little, thinking about what his usual day likely consisted of – silicone, giggling airheads, model-thin women that never tired (literally) of fucking.
"What are you writing about?"
He seemed sincere as he asked, but there was no way he'd be interested. I shook my head. "Like I said, boring. What are you up to today?"
As the words tumbled out of my mouth, I blushed at the potential double entendre.
"Had some business meetings this morning, just relaxing this afternoon. And, Bella, I wouldn't have asked what you were writing about if I wasn't actually interested. Out with it," he teased.
As I explained the focus of the article, he still seemed to be paying attention. I was flattered that he was so interested, but didn't allow myself to get hopeful it was anything beyond the kindness of a friend. When I was finished, he gave me his thoughts and then we sat in relative silence. I was certain he noticed me blushing several times while trying not to stare, but he never said anything.
"Would you like to go out some time?" he blurted.
I was surprised, again. What in the world did Edward see in me, when he had all those girls at his disposal?
"I don't know, Edward," I hedged. "Like a date?"
He nodded, giving me his broad smirk again, and I almost melted.
"I … I don't know. Can I think about it and call you?"
"Sure," he said.
He wrote his number on the corner of my notebook, then stood up to leave. I turned to say goodbye, and his lips landed on my cheek in a quick peck.
"See ya," he called over his shoulder as he walked out.
Edward Cullen, porn actor, had given me his number and asked me on a date.
Of course, my first call was to Esme. She was around the corner, so she stopped by and sat down with her latte.
"I heard he's changed, Bella," she said, not wasting any time.
"He's not … into that anymore. He got out. He wants a different life, I guess."
"Why?" I asked.
Esme shrugged and left it at that. We moved on to talking about Carlisle and vacations and other random topics before she had to run off again to meet with a client. When she left, I sat and thought about what she'd said. Was Edward not doing porn anymore even a factor? Did I want to judge him based on that? I had no idea.
That night, I ran a hot bath and thought a lot. I tried not to think about Edward, naked and hard, either in porn or out of. I just wanted to think about Edward the person.
What the hell, I finally decided. It couldn't hurt to go out with him, right? It wasn't like a date meant I had to have sex with him. I could go out and keep my panties on.
It wasn't too late, so I took a chance and sent him a text.
What did you have in mind for our date? -Bella
Setting my phone down, I went back in to the bathroom and finished up my usual bedtime routine. By the time I checked my phone again, he'd already replied.
Let me surprise you, please? I'll pick you up Friday, 8pm?
Again, Edward shocked me, and my own preconceived notions. I'm not sure why, but I didn't expect him to try to be romantic at all. I kept thinking of him as such a manwhore in my head, but his actions never once fit that.
I replied and let him know that Friday at eight would work, and that I was looking forward to it, because I was. I had two days to finish up my article and mentally prepare myself for dating someone for the first time in a very long time.
Esme was over, helping me pick clothes for my date as I panicked. Edward and I had talked via text several more times so that I could get information about what to wear. I didn't want to be wearing jeans if he showed up in a suit and expected to go somewhere nice.
So there I was, pulling things out of my closet, looking at the dress Esme helped me pick out, being a complete spaz.
"Bella, just put on the damn dress you bought," Esme huffed.
"But it's too... too... something."
"Sexy?" she said with a smirk.
"Ugh, yes, maybe."
"Put. It. On," she demanded. "And those sexy things, too."
She pointed to the pile of lingerie she'd obviously snooped through my drawers to get.
"Esme, I don't understand why I need to wear that stuff," I said. "Nothing is going to happen tonight. No one will even see it!"
"Firstly, Bella, can you predict the future?"
I shook my head no.
"Secondly, you will know you have these things on, and it will make you feel sexy and beautiful, just like you are. It doesn't matter if he sees them."
Esme had a point there, and I knew it. I did feel sexier when I had nice things on underneath, so I went with her advice and got dressed. She helped with my hair and makeup, chatting with me as I worked to make myself look nice.
With a last touch of some light perfume, I declared myself as ready as I was going to be, and was glad when I looked at the clock and it was almost eight. Esme and I walked into the living room to wait, and the doorbell rang almost as if on cue. When I moved to answer, Esme practically pushed me out of the way. After a quick girl scuffle, I let her open the door.
"Edward," she said. "So nice to see you." Esme ushered him in, and I laughed as she seemed to be taking on the proverbial father role. "I trust you're going to take my Bella somewhere worthy this evening?"
"Yes, I am," he said, smirking.
He had daisies in his hand, and once I'd placed them in the kitchen on the counter, he took my hand in his arm.
"Have her back before curfew," Esme called to us as we walked away, causing a round of laughter.
"She always like that?" Edward asked.
"Yeah, sometimes," I said. "It's kind of nice, having someone care."
As he opened my door, Edward inclined his head and smiled. "I can imagine."
His car was nice, but modest – it wasn't over the top or super expensive, which I was fairly certain he could afford. Porn stars made a lot of money, right? I wondered if it was rude of me to ask, and decided it was. In fact, I wasn't sure at all how to bring up the topic of his former profession, but it seemed like something we had to talk about eventually.
The car was quiet as we drove, music playing softly in the background. When Edward pulled up to a cute little bistro-looking place, the valet promptly opened my door. By the time I was out, though, Edward was right there and offering his arm for me again. We walked arm-in-arm into the restaurant and when he gave the hostess his name, she seated us at a table off to the side.
I was nervous as I browsed the menu, wondering how first dates even went. I had no clue, clearly. My foot bounced beneath the table as an outlet for my nervous energy. When I'd decided on something, I closed the menu and set it to the side, Edward doing the same shortly after.
"So, let's get this out of the way," he said. "Esme told me that you already know about my former … profession."
"True," I said, when he seemed to pause for me to acknowledge. My cheeks flamed, but I knew it was useless to even try to hide my reaction.
"Bella, here's the thing: I'm not my job; it was just a place I went to earn a living. It wasn't me. This is me, right here, with you."
Edward fidgeted, eyes tracing along as his fingers tapped surfaces on the table, and then finally, he looked up at me.
"That's it?" he asked, laughing lightly.
"Well, I don't have a choice but to believe what you say. I have no reason not to, right?" I asked, raising an eyebrow and smirking.
I could see him exhale and relax, and that was the moment my date with Edward Cullen, former porn star, really began.
As we talked, I watched him more than I'd watched anyone, and I came to realize that this man in front of me had no connection to the man I'd seen in the movies. Every facial expression, even the nuance in the way he spoke, was all unique and unrelated to his screen character. Then I realized, truly, that was what it was for him – an acting job.
I learned that Edward was an only child, and his parents had been distant and cold. Not cruel, just not as warm and loving as mine. He asked me about my childhood, since I was also an only child, and we talked until our salads arrived about what it was like to be solo so much. Where I created fantasy worlds in my head, exploring books and writing, he had been outgoing and played sports, building a network of friends as strong as siblings.
While we ate, the conversation slowed, but never halted. It was comfortable and flowed without work, something I'd come to appreciate, considering how difficult conversation with others had been at times. When Edward told me he was a few years younger than I, I actually laughed. I couldn't believe it; it wasn't that he looked older or rough, quite the contrary, but he seemed to have such a full life of travel, experiences, and wisdom. He'd been to more continents than I had, seen more of the world than I probably ever would, and gave that as the explanation as to why he'd originally gotten into his job – he knew it would pay well and he could take breaks when he wanted to travel.
"But now," he said, "it's exhausting. The schedules, the women, it's not worth it. I look around and realize the things I've achieved were never the things I wanted. It doesn't matter what kind of car I drive if there's no one else in it with me."
After our dinner plates were gone, Edward insisted we order dessert to share. His chair had progressively gotten closer to mine, and our hands had brushed several times. Like our conversation, it seemed easy and comfortable to be close to him. As he fed me bites of our flourless chocolate cake, we laughed and teased.
While the valet picked up his car, he stood close to me. I could sense his hesitation, so I stepped even closer, smiling and curling myself in to his side a little. There was a slight breeze, so I could blame it on being cold, right? His arm moved around my shoulder and we fit together so perfectly as we stood.
Edward opened my door for me once the car arrived, and the drive back to my apartment was comfortably silent. It was different than the ride to the restaurant, when the silence felt filled with so many unanswered questions and curiosities. I still had things to learn about him, but now I knew I wanted to learn them. Wanted to know everything about him.
Despite my insistence that I'd be fine, Edward walked me to my door. Once I had it open and had taken a step inside, I turned to face him and leaned against the frame.
"Thank you, Edward," I said. "I had a great time tonight."
"Me too. When can I take you out again?"
Smiling, I looked down at my feet, a seeming default response. "I'm not sure. Can I text you?"
It was a half-truth. I wasn't sure when I wanted to go out with him again, and I needed to think more. I could already feel the stirrings of something between us, but I wanted to go slow – much slower than my libido or heart were prepared for.
As he spoke, he leaned closer and his hand rested next to mine on the doorframe. His lips touched my cheek softly, a whisper of a kiss, and then pulled back. As he moved, I could smell the light cleanness of him, and I wanted to drag him inside.
When he walked away, I watched; I watched the line of his pants and the slight sway of his hips. Watched, and wanted.
I waited until the next day to text him, after I'd had time to talk to Esme and do more thinking. This time, it took a few hours to get a response, and I spent the time pacing my apartment, instead of writing like I should have been.
His response was adorable and flirty, and he asked if we could have brunch the following morning, Sunday. I smiled at his eagerness to see me again, then basked in the delightful feeling of someone wanting my company. Of course, I replied and said I'd be glad to.
I spent the day writing, inspired suddenly to finish my project and move on to other endeavors. The words flowed like almost never before, pouring from my brain. I felt sharp, clear, and on top of my game. It was a good thing, too, since my article was due the next afternoon. I made plans to drop it off with my boss after brunch and have a follow-up meeting that Monday, once he'd had time to read it.
After dinner at Esme and Carlisle's house, I came home and soaked in the tub. I was exited for brunch, and after I was clean and almost ready for bed, I picked out clothes to wear. I was going for simple, so I laid out jeans and a cute sweater along with a pair of boots.
Lying in bed, however, sleep was elusive. My mind raced about what might happen – would he kiss me again? Did I want him to? (Duh.) I tossed and turned, falling asleep much later than I had intended, given my eleven o'clock date in the morning.
When my alarm clock went off at eight, I hit snooze and rolled over. Then, in my sleep haze, I somehow remembered why I'd set so early on a Sunday morning. I practically leapt out of bed, huge grin on my face. My hair was a mess, total bed head, but I didn't even care as I started the shower since I had plenty of time to get ready.
My makeup was done, hair straightened, clothes on, and I sat on my couch trying to contain my nerves while I waited. I flipped through a magazine, checked my email from my phone, and played a few rounds of Words With Friends. Right at eleven, there was a knock on the door. I took a deep breath and opened it, greeted with Edward's smiling face. He was dressed casually like I was, which I was thankful for since we hadn't discussed where we were headed.
"Hi," he said, leaning in to kiss my cheek.
"Shall we head out?"
Nodding, I took his extended hand and our fingers slid together. Edward drove again, but this time we talked the entire time. We shared more about our lives and I realized we had more in common than I'd originally thought. His best friend was married and had two kids that called him Uncle Edward since they all considered him part of their extended family. It sounded similar to my relationship with Esme and Carlisle and their children.
Seeing a family-oriented side of Edward was lovely, and I found myself really getting lost in the stories he told about all of them. I wanted to meet them, and I really wanted to be a part of this life he described.
I was surprised when Edward pulled up to the lake just outside of town.
"I thought you were taking me to brunch?" I asked.
We got out of the car and he opened the trunk. "I am."
As I watched, he grabbed a picnic basket and a huge blanket. Reaching in, I took the blanket from him with a smile and found a spot to open it for us. We settled down on the covered grass and I was amazed when he opened the basket – he'd packed so many great things, and even had a Thermos of coffee.
It was warm as we stretched out, reaching and fixing ourselves plates. I had a bagel and some fruit, and as I sipped my first taste of the coffee, I nearly choked.
"What is this?" I asked. "Ohmygod, so good. How, what, tell me," I demanded, dragging out the last syllable.
Edward laughed and turned slightly toward me. "Maybe someday," he said with a smile, "but I don't give away my coffee secrets to just anyone."
When we were done stuffing our faces, I closed my eyes and laid back, soaking up the sun. It was the perfect day, and the perfect date. I could hear Edward moving things around on the blanket, maybe cleaning up our plates, I decided. Then I felt him next to me, and his warmth was exactly what I hadn't known was missing. In an uncharacteristically bold move, I cracked one eye open, saw him on his side facing me, and scooted back into his arms.
His body adjusted to accommodate mine, and I set my head down, resting it on his bicep. His other hand curled around my waist, fingertips sliding just up underneath the hem of my sweater, and I smiled. It was nice to be with him like this, the hum of anticipation and desire swirling, but knowing we were outside, so nothing major could happen. It had been forever since I'd kissed just to kiss. Touched just to touch. Curled and snuggled just to be in that moment and snuggle.
I almost fell asleep, but Edward's deep voice startled me from my thoughts.
"You smell nice," he said. As he spoke, he trailed his nose along the back of my neck, causing me to shiver.
It was a lame response, but I was sort of floating on a cloud of brainlessness at that moment.
"How'd your article turn out?"
"So good," I said. "I wrote and wrote last night; I finally finished it and sent it off to be edited."
"I'm glad. Does that mean you have a pocket of time before your next job, or do you have something lined up?"
"I don't have anything lined up yet," I said.
"I know we've only been on two dates, but would you consider taking a little overnight trip with me? I promise you'll have your own room and there's no pressure, I just … want to take you someplace special to me."
"That sounds lovely, Edward. Can I let you know after I think about it?"
I could feel him laughing behind me, his chest rumbling. "You think about everything, don't you?" he teased. "Do you ever make a spontaneous decision?"
"No," I said. "Never."
The idea was practically foreign to me. Everything in my life had been well thought out and planned.
"Maybe, just once, you throw caution to the wind."
His arms tightened around me and I turned to face him. He was so handsome, and so sincere. Stretching just a bit, I reached up and placed one soft kiss on his lips, watching to see how he reacted. Some scared part of me expected him to take this as a sign that I was ready to fuck and move things far beyond where I was comfortable, but he didn't. Instead, he leaned in to the kiss, but kept it soft and sweet.
My hands moved up to his hair, weaving through the strands. Our lips continued to softly press and pull against each other, and I got lost in our kiss. By the time I mentally checked back in on what the rest of my body was doing, I realized I had hitched my leg up over his hip and pulled our lower bodies together. In short, I was grinding against him like a wanton whore.
I decided I was kind of okay with that, actually.
What we were doing felt amazing, and it was as if my body had finally woken up after a long winter hibernation. I'd only ever been with Aro since we married when I was so young, and nothing we'd ever done – ever – had felt like this. I wanted to claw at Edward's shoulders and climb on top of him.
I knew if we kept moving as we were, there was no question I was going to have an orgasm right there in the middle of a fucking park, and that wasn't okay with me, lust-filled haze or not. Moving my lips from his, I kissed down his neck and then let my lips rest against the skin of his shoulder.
"We have to stop, Edward," I said. I didn't want to, but I wanted to. "There are people filtering in."
He placed a few more kisses at my collarbone, then slid slightly back from me. As he spoke, he played with the ends of my hair, as if it was a great mystery to him.
"Tomorrow's Monday," he said. "Do you think you can answer me by Wednesday? I want to take you this weekend, if you say yes."
"Yeah, I'll let you know tomorrow, okay? I just need to meet with my boss and make sure everything is in order."
"Good," he said.
Rolling to his back, he took my hand in his, and we laid there quietly, holding hands as we soaked in the sun. His thumb rubbed along the back of my hand, and my fingers squeezed his from time to time. After a bit, I sat up and let him know I needed to get going.
Together, we packed up the picnic basket and then I folded the blanket while he walked ahead of me back to the car. When everything was in the trunk and it was securely closed, his right hand rested on the metal, his left weaving around my waist and pulling me closer.
"I'm not ready to say goodbye yet," he said against my lips.
Smiling, I kissed him softly again. "Me either, but reality calls."
When we parted and regrouped inside the car, he took my hand in his again, and when we arrived back at my apartment, he walked me to the door. With a quick kiss, knowing neither of us could stand any more frustration or teasing, he said goodbye and left.
I'd texted Esme and asked if she could meet for coffee, and she said yes right away, so we did. As we sat and rehashed the details of my date, she just kept smiling at me.
"What's wrong with you?" I finally asked.
"I just knew you two would hit it off. Call it a hunch," she said.
After rolling my eyes at her, we hugged and said goodbye. I'd decided to accept Edward's offer and go away with him, as long as everything was okay with my article. We'd keep our separate rooms, and who knew what would happen, but at least I wouldn't feel pressured.
Monday afternoon, I texted him once I was in the car after my meeting. I knew things were going to roll smoothly with the article, so I felt okay leaving town. My one condition was that he give Esme the location of where he was taking me, just to be safe. She had his cell phone number, as well, and since they seemed to know each other fairly well and she reassured me repeatedly that he was trustworthy, I thought it would be fine.
I packed an overnight bag Wednesday. I unpacked it Thursday. Finally, late Thursday night, I packed for the final time. Before I collapsed into bed, I set it by the front door, determined not to let myself unpack it again. What I'd picked would be fine, and if not, I could make do.
Friday morning, Edward came to pick me up bright and early. I smiled at him when I saw a Thermos in his hands, and the time of day was forgiven. We stood in my kitchen as he poured the liquid salvation into two travel mugs, and we each fixed the coffee to our liking. When we were ready to go, he took my hand in his and carried my suitcase to the car in the other, as I juggled both coffees.
As we drove, he talked about how he used to come to this stretch of beach to surf and think. Sometimes he'd go with friends, but he preferred to go to this spot by himself. When we pulled up to the hotel, he let the valet take the car after pulling both of our bags from the trunk, then we walked to check-in together. The rooms were in his name, but true to his word, he made sure I had my own space. Our rooms were next to each other, and I laughed as I slid the key through the electronic reader then turned to watch him do the same.
"See you in a few?" I asked.
"Yeah," he said. "Just knock when you're ready."
After I set my suitcase on the luggage holder, I turned and looked at myself in the mirror. I took a deep breath and steeled my nerves. It was late enough that I assumed Edward would probably want to grab lunch, and I looked forward to spending the day exploring the beach with him.
With one last glance at myself in the mirror, I headed out and knocked on his door. He answered quickly, and we walked together, hand-in-hand again. Once we hit the sand outside the hotel, I slipped my sandals off and held them as we walked.
"When I was seventeen, my parents got divorced. It was nasty and bitter, like most," he said. "My mom never really recovered from it. She thought she'd been a good wife and felt betrayed by my dad leaving her."
The sand was wet and warm beneath my toes, and Edward kept talking, our destination unknown.
"They were both always so unhappy, you know? They'd had me later in life, and I think it was just an unexpected toll on them."
"I'm sorry," I said softly, squeezing his hand. "That must've been difficult for you."
"It was, but the hardest part was after he died. She had no real way to support herself, and so it was a constant struggle for her. I tried to help her out, but she was so stubborn," he said with a little laugh. "Every time I tried to give her money, she would turn me down, so I started showing up with bags of groceries instead. She kept retreating though, into herself. Finally one day, I think she just shut down and didn't want to go on anymore."
In a dry spot of sand, he'd stopped walking, and sat, tugging me down with him. I sat between his legs and he wrapped his arms around me, keeping me warm and happy.
"Did she ..."
I didn't want to say the words out loud, on the off chance I was guessing wrong.
"No, not directly, I mean. She started to drink when he left, I found out. One night, her body just had enough. I couldn't get ahold of her on the phone, so I called 911 to have them send someone over there. The paramedics found her after she'd aspirated on her own vomit. She was passed out from the alcohol, and they got there way too late."
My hands covered his arms, and I pulled him closer to me as best I could. I wanted to comfort him, but I couldn't even begin to imagine how.
"My God," I whispered.
"It was intense, to say the least. It taught me a lot about life and love, and showed me what I didn't want," he said. "I don't want to be sixty-years-old and miserable. I want to be sixty and still looking at my wife with the same adoration I did at forty."
"Yeah," I said. "I know what you mean."
"Anyway, I used to come out here after they split, ride the waves and think about things. Sometimes I'd wonder if they would notice if I just got sucked under and never came back. Sometimes, I'd daydream about my own kids and how they might look, or what my life would be like if I never had kids."
That brought up an interesting topic...
"Edward, do you want children?"
I certainly wasn't beyond childbearing years, but I honestly had given up the idea of being a mother. I felt so uncomfortable just being in charge of myself, why would I ever want to bring anyone else in that depended on me?
"I don't know, but I think so. I used to think absolutely not," he said, pushing my hair to the side. "Then I met someone who turned my world upside down."
His lips played against the sensitive skin on my neck, and I laughed. "Turned your world upside down? I think you have this backwards."
"Bella, did Esme ever tell you about any of the other dates I went on?" he asked. I shook my head no. "I'm not surprised, but let's just say, not everyone is as understanding as you are about my former profession."
A pang of guilt struck me as I thought about how I'd perhaps unfairly judged him before I really had gotten to know him.
We sat watching the waves for several minutes while I thought about babies and Edward and porn, letting my brain swim in each topic before moving to the next and evaluating. I wasn't sure how to feel about babies, and I knew we'd have to revisit that one. I was similarly unsure about my long-term future with Edward. However, I knew that his career wouldn't be a deal-breaker, and that I wanted to find out so much more about him, and see where our lives led us, hopefully together.
"Thank you for bringing me here," I said, breaking our silence. "I feel honored that you trusted me with this special spot, and with the story of your parents."
Turning my head up, I twisted in his arms and kissed his lips as he lowered them.
"Thank you for being the kind of woman I want to share my secrets with."
No more words were needed right then, and it was good because I was incapable of them. How Edward saw me so differently from Aro was just astounding to me. Aro always felt so tightly wound, so locked up and unwilling to let me in. Edward had known me, really known me, a few weeks, and was already sharing secrets. It occurred to me that this was what relationships were meant to be. It wasn't about the flowers or courting, it was about these moments and connections.
We stayed there a bit longer, then finally got up and walked further down the beach. I was ravenous, realizing we'd skipped lunch, as we stumbled upon a beachside restaurant. Thankfully it was still early in the evening, so we were able to get seated right away.
Over our dinner, we talked and laughed more, sharing bits and pieces of ourselves with each other. Each time a serious piece of information was dropped – like the time I had a miscarriage – we would counter it with something entirely ridiculous – like the completely, hilariously awkward first time Edward had sex.
The sun had set and we walked back to the hotel much closer together, thanks to the chilly night wind. When we got to our rooms, there was a slight uncertain pause, but then Edward invited me in to his room for wine. I wasn't ready to go to bed alone, so I accepted and he called room service when we were inside.
His room was bigger than mine, and we curled up on the couch as we waited for the wine. The sliding glass door was open and we could hear the waves crashing; it was perfect.
When the wine showed up, we grabbed a blanket off the bed and took our glasses out onto the balcony, cocooning ourselves together in one chair. The moon was high and full, and as we sipped, we were lulled into the warmth of the alcohol and each other. Edward's glass had long been set aside on the table as his hands roamed my body, and I wasn't sure what made me more giddy, the wine or the way he touched me.
No single movement felt like it was designed to simply get me off, but rather was part of his exploration of my body. As if he was taking his time to figure out how each thing caused me to react. At first, I simply laid back in his arms, drinking, trying to play nonchalant. That didn't last long, though, and soon I was more concerned with exploring him, too.
"Let's go back inside," I said.
Standing up from his lap, I held out my hand to him, and we walked inside still touching and kissing. Everything he did made me greedy for more, and when we finally collapsed onto the bed together, I wasn't sure how much more I could stand.
Edward chuckled and stood up, crossing his arms and pulling his t-shirt off. I may have gawked at his body as he reached down and unbuttoned my shorts, pulling them down my legs and tossing them to the side. My wardrobe had gone under a considerable upgrade in recent weeks, for which I was very thankful in that moment as he looked at my light pink lace cheekies.
He made eye contact with me again, seemingly giving me one last chance to back out. I just smiled and I'm sure looked like a complete idiot as I encouraged him to remove my panties, too. Instead of going in for the kill as I expected, he stopped and propped my legs up on the edge of the bed, causing me to lie down completely.
Warmth and wetness covered me through the lace, and I pushed against his mouth. It felt almost too good – it had been so long since another person had been down there – and I was so ready after our teasing. Just through the fabric, he nipped and licked, teasing and playing with me expertly, and before I could even think twice about it, I was alternately gasping and holding my breath as I came.
I wasn't sure what I expected to happen next, but Edward pulled my panties down, then helped me sit up so he could remove my top. I was finally mentally back in the moment, and I helped him get his clothes off as well, then we re-situated ourselves on the bed. Edward laid between my legs, hands and mouth everywhere as I tried to do the same, but probably failed miserably. He was so distracting.
"You're going to make me come again if you don't stop," I warned.
His fingers had taken up residence between my lips, playing with my clit slowly as his lips and teeth teased my nipples.
"Is that supposed to deter me?" He laughed. "I thought that was the point."
Without thought, I moved against his hand, selfishly taking more of what he gave. He touched me differently than I touched myself, and I liked that – his touches felt certain, confident, and even though I'd owned my body all those years, my own still felt hesitant, likely the years of guilt I felt at doing such a thing.
My second orgasm hit me hard, and I found my hands eager for something to grab onto. They reached around Edward's body and my nails dug slightly into his skin, provoking a soft hum from his mouth to my skin. I wasn't sure if it was a good or bad sign, but when he didn't immediately pull away, and when I realized I was enjoying myself too much to care, I closed my eyes and relaxed into it.
Slowly coming down, I realized Edward had moved next to me and was resting his head on my shoulder. Never in a million years would I have considered kissing Aro after a beginning like that, but it was as if everything with Edward was new and different.
I smiled and straddled Edward's waist, bringing my body flush with his and kissing him hard. It was odd to be able to taste what I assumed was a tiny bit of myself on his mouth, but hot. He'd willingly gone there, even though there was lace in the way, and brought me to two spectacular orgasms. I figured it was time for a little payback.
"Sit up," he said quietly.
Hesitating, I weighed my options. He had seen me mostly naked, I was pretty certain, a few minutes earlier, but this felt not entirely the same. Still, I slowly moved and sat up more, complying with his request. I felt immediately self-conscious of my body, my boobs, pretty much everything he could see. My stomach wasn't perfect, my right breast was larger than the left, and surely he'd notice that I had wonky nipples.
No, instead, his hand moved between us, rolling a condom I wasn't even aware he'd had in his hand down his length before teasing me a few times with the head of his cock. It was insanely erotic, and by the time he'd moved to sink inside of me, I was making some seriously embarrassing noises again.
Letting my body weight press against his, I sat and waited, feeling him inside me, for as long as I could. He seemed content to go slowly as well, and we moved together this way for a few minutes – up, and then slowly down, with a pause before starting over. It was delicious torture that I never wanted to end.
"Lean back, grab my knees," he said.
I did as he asked, and once I was stable, he started thrusting up, catching me by surprise. The friction, speed, and depth he achieved made me gasp each time. His hands were at my waist steadying me, but soon, one of mine left his knee and began to rub my clit in time with his movements.
The first time I swore out loud, I was mortified. My eyes flew open – the word had come from me so automatically – and I almost expected him to stop. He was clearly too deep in concentration, though, and apparently hadn't even noticed.
Once I recovered from my brazen (for me) vocalization, I went back to focusing on the activities at hand – literally. As I could feel the first few signs that my orgasm was approaching, I opened my eyes a sliver to watch Edward. His movement had become erratic, and I wondered if he was going to come as I did; was it really possible to have a simultaneous orgasm? I thought they were a thing of myths, but hearing him grunt as he moved faster, I wondered if maybe he could tell I was getting close.
I didn't have time to think about it too much, though, as my body was on auto-pilot and diving head first into bliss. The sounds I was making caused me to pause momentarily, but then I gave up; Edward was making his own set of sex noises, so why did I care so much? I shifted and rode the last of my orgasm as I felt his body stop, his sounds strangled in his throat.
Edward's hands moved from my waist down to my thighs, his eyes still tightly closed, but a smile spreading across his face. I lowered my chest to his and tried not to panic. Had I given in to my body too soon? Would he think I was just in it for the sex?
His hands wrapped tightly around me and we laid there together for a brief moment. Too brief, but we had clean-up and other things to deal with, so we each got up and handled what needed to be taken care of. Thankfully, though, Edward was waiting for me in bed when I was finished. As I rounded the corner of the bathroom and saw him there, he gave me a playful grin. He looked gorgeous – the sheet resting at his waist, chest bare and chiseled.
"C'mere," he said.
I realized I was naked, but my clothes were all in the other room. I found it slightly amusing that I was suddenly nervous about him seeing me, but there was a huge difference between everything walking toward you and seeing it on a bed. I half-skipped, half-ran to the bed, trying not to seem too obvious, but as soon as I was there and in his arms, I pulled the sheet all the way up to my neck.
"What the hell?" he laughed.
"What?" I asked, playing innocent.
He just shook his head. "You're insane."
"Yeah, well, get used to it."
After a bit of quiet snuggling, Edward's stomach rumbled. Like, loud.
We both laughed, but agreed to take a quick shower and head down to the hotel restaurant. It was late, but thankfully they were still open. To save time, and because my other clothes were next-door, I went there to shower and change.
"Bring your bag over here?" Edward asked as I was walking out.
A quick nod and I made my way over. As I showered, I was giddy. My silly questions from before had almost all evaporated; I knew Edward wasn't looking for just sex, and I knew we had a connection greater than that. I got clean, pulled my hair into a bun, and once I'd gotten dressed, made my way back over to his room.
Handing me a key, he gave me one more kiss before we walked out of the room. I tucked the thin plastic into my purse and we went down to the lobby, then wound our way to the restaurant. I ordered something small since I wasn't starving like Edward was.
After we ate, we curled together in his room, talking late into the night. The lights were off and the only thing I could hear was the way he breathed and the words we whispered to each other. We talked more about our lives, our families, and what we wanted from each other. I had no idea what exactly I wanted yet, aside from more.
From that night on, I barely spent a single day without seeing Edward. We certainly never went more than a few hours without talking, whether it was by telephone, text, or in person.
His past wasn't something we hid, but it wasn't something we broadcast, either. At my bachelorette party, however, Esme gave me a gag gift of one of his old videos. I was thankful she did it in private, so as to not embarrass me in front of the other ladies, but it did make me laugh hysterically. It felt so far removed from the Edward I knew and loved.
At our wedding on the beach, the same beach he went to as a teenager, we promised our lives to each other. There were tears from both sides of the aisle, and from each of us, as we made the commitment.
I'd never been more sure of anything than when he asked me to marry him. I couldn't predict how our lives would turn out, if we'd ever have those kids Edward thought he might want, or if we'd travel the world and he would show me the places he'd fallen in love with as a young man, or if I'd publish my novel like I secretly hoped. I just knew we were in it together, and that was enough.