Well, my Bella and Edward are back again at last! I'm sorry it's taken so long but to make up for it, this is a long chapter. As always I'd love to know what you think so please review!

This chapter switches POV back and forth quite a bit, but I was having so much fun with Edward and Bella, I just couldn't help it!

Gucci and Bare Feet

Bella POV

Leaving him standing there had been so hard to do. His repeated 'do you like me?' had seemed so sincere. And yes, I did like him. God help me.

I practically skipped upstairs. What was I, twelve? What the hell had he done to me?

Er…kissed you?

Yeah, that would do it!

I quickly pulled on dry clothes…warm at last… and dried my hair. It was even more of a mess than normal now, but scrunching it back into an elastic band took care of that problem. Honestly, these women who took hours over their hair, whatever were they doing with it? My stomach grumbled, reminding me that a muesli bar would not last all day, so I tried to stoke up the courage to go back downstairs and brave the kitchen.

I dreaded what I might find there. Would they all look at me again? Would any of them ask me about Edward? Or was it all old gossip now, forgotten and never thought of again? Yeah, as if that would happen.

The kitchen was abuzz with noise as people chatted and laughed together. There was a faint pervading smell of wet wool as coats and boots hung on the backs of chairs and lined the radiator to dry, and you could almost see the air as the rain water evaporated away. Steaming tureens of soup gave off delicious smelling aromas though, making the damp fug more than acceptable. My mouth watered at the smell of the soup, but I hovered in the door way, not wanting any attention to swing my way. After a couple of minutes though, I came to the belated conclusion that I looked like an idiot standing there, and I slipped as unobtrusively as I could into the room and made my way to the table groaning under the weight of hot soup, sandwiches and delicious looking dessert pies. I was very conscious of the noise levels around me, but thankfully, I didn't notice any particular change as I made my way through the crowd.

I reached for a mug, my hand shaking from nerves. Any minute now, I could become the centre of attention again. I bit my lip wondering if it was a good idea to try and ladle hot soup into the mug when I couldn't hold the mug still. I had just about decided not to risk it when one of the cheerful catering ladies said, "Let me get that for you, love." She ladled beef and tomato deliciousness into an extra-large sized mug. "Grab a sandwich as well," she indicated down the table, "and you can always come back for more."

I smiled gratefully at her, but I was unable to stop my eyes from darting nervously side to side, making sure no one was looking at me.

Taking a firm hold of my mug and plate, I slipped back out of the kitchen again. Success! I'd kept my eyes glued to the floor or the table for the most part, but I was pretty sure no one had looked at me particularly or had tried to speak to me. My heart was thumping as though I'd done something action-packed like an African safari, but I'd have chosen a pride of lions over inquisitive co-workers any day.

Even though they weren't all complete strangers now, in fact some I had come to quite like, I still cringed at the thought of being amongst a crowd, of being the focus of any kind of attention. I slipped down the corridor blessedly unnoticed back to my room and sat in comfortable silence at the table to eat. It was such a relief. When I had stepped around that hedge into the clearing this morning and everyone had looked at me, well, it had been horrendous. I needed the peace and quiet now to get myself together again. And as for the kiss…

Don't think about it. Don't think about it.

Shut up. I've got to think about it.

True. I had to because it had been shocking, surprising and fan-bloody-tastic. Had I ever had a kiss like that before?

Jake could kiss well.

Are you kidding? He was nothing on that.

You lived with him for eighteen months. He must have been a good kisser.

Obviously not.

Admittedly, I didn't have a huge long list of men to compare him to, but oh hell, Edward came top of the list no problem.

If a kiss was that good, just think what sex would be like.

Don't think it. Don't think it.

We worked together. There was no way we could do that. It was wrong. Hell, kissing him was wrong, let alone anything else.

Anything else?

Getting ahead of yourself, aren't you?

It had been a bloody fantastic kiss though. I grinned as I ate my sandwich, feeling my toes curl inside my boots as I thought about it. Fan-bloody-tastic.

Was it worth risking my heart to have a fling with him? There were only two days left. We wouldn't have much time together if that was what he wanted.

Two nights though.

Shut up.

But if this was about sex, then that fact was important, I reminded myself. Is that what he wants though?

What? Sex? Are you kidding? He's a guy. Of course that's what he wants.

Yes, but maybe he was looking for more than just a couple of days. Maybe. I shouldn't get my hopes up like that. No, he isn't the womanising, arrogant man that I thought he was. In fact, he was quite nice. I rolled my eyes at myself at this astronomic understatement… but that didn't mean he wanted a relationship with me. It's much more likely he just wanted some no-strings-attached fun for the next couple of days.

I was faintly disappointed with myself when I realised that, actually, I'd be quite okay with that.

But I didn't want to be making an idiot of myself by assuming anything. I still needed to get this job done and done well. I needed a good recommendation from it, and I couldn't let one little kiss… I snorted at the attempt to underplay the best kiss I'd ever had… break my concentration.

I was here to work. I needed to be professional and not let my sappy heart dictate my decisions. After all, it's not as though I knew the real Edward well, and just because I'd fallen in lo…

Hell no!

I was not 'in love' with Edward. I was simply infatuated with Edward Masen, Film Star. You can't just fall in love with someone over some puppy-dog eyes and a bloody amazing kiss. And some kind of charge in the air between us. And that heat when we touch. And…

Shut. Up.

I am not in love with Edward.

I determinedly didn't think about him as I rearranged some papers on the table and enjoyed the last few minutes of quiet. My quiet solitude didn't last for long, however. A few minutes later, Angela and Jessica swept into the room professing womanly solidarity and bringing tiny little melt-in-the-mouth apple pies with them.

Okay, maybe some company wouldn't be so bad after all.


Edward POV

I had to admit I was taking a hit to my ego. The one I liked to think I didn't have. But I did, because it was wounded. Wounded and crawling away to die quietly somewhere. The one woman I'd ever met who I wanted to have an effect on, and once again, I wasn't. I wondered if it was me. Perhaps I'd lost my touch somewhere between lunch and arriving in her room. I looked around. Jessica was in here discussing the arrangements for the photo shoot with Bella, and Angela was here, too, waiting for me to go next door with her and have my make-up sorted. I would just have to see if I'd lost my touch. I smiled my smile and deployed the whole charm offensive on the three women in the room, and two of them just about melted, but the harder I tried, the less effect it seemed to have on Bella. Bloody hell. We were back to square one again.

She was going to drive me nuts.

I dropped the charm and cleared my throat uneasily. "Er, excuse me, Angela, Jessica, but Bella and I need to sort out the costume for this afternoon, so … if you wouldn't mind?"

With hardly a backwards glance, they winked at me and left us alone together. Jessica even shut the door behind her. I cleared my throat again. The tension between me and Bella was awkward, to say the least. I didn't like it. Not one bit. It felt too much like the morning after a one-night stand. The ones I didn't have. Anymore. Shit.

Rubbing the back of my neck awkwardly, I turned to face her. "Erm… about earlier, Bella…" I started before shutting up again pretty damn quick.

Great, you sound like a right prat.

I ran my fingers through my hair frustratedly and bit down on my lip.


Stop whining. You're making a right hash up of this.

"Erm… that kiss, Bella," I started again, watching painfully as she flinched before recovering herself, bracing for whatever I was going to say to her. I felt really guilty for making her feel that way, and I rushed on quickly, "I just wanted you to know that it was special. I mean, it was special to me. I don't mean it was special to you because of course I wouldn't know, so I wasn't saying that. It just was to me… I mean."

Fuck, I could talk quite happily to almost any other woman on the planet, but my brain just turned to gibberish with her. She hadn't moved, was holding herself as still as a statue. She didn't think I was going to say anything bad to her, did she? I mean, we'd kissed, and I thought it had been incredible, and I really wanted to do it again… oh fuck, yes!… and I felt a connection between us, a pull, some sodding indescribable magical pull and…

I paused in my thoughts. She didn't know that I felt that, did she? Hell, she probably thought I kissed loads of women. All the time.

"It's not something that I do," I carried on hastily, hoping to correct her if that's what she was thinking. "Kiss women. Like that. Anymore."

Yeah, idiot, just make it worse, why don't you?

"I mean, I did, a bit, when I was new to all this, but I don't anymore. You see?"

I desperately wanted her to see. But oh-my-fuck was I making a mess of this.

Get it together, Masen, or you're going to lose this, whatever it is, with her.

I took a deep breath and tried again.

"What I'm trying to say, Bella, and I know I'm not doing a very good job of it," I laughed depreciatively, "Is that I don't sleep with my co-stars, I don't mess around with the crew, I don't pick up random women in bars. I'm past all that. It's all meaningless. I'm looking for something else now, have been for a while, in fact, and I think that, maybe, I might have found it with you."

Jesus, this was sounding like I was looking for a commitment. Was this what I wanted? I felt a momentary flutter of instinctual panic before scoffing at myself. Yes. It was. Holy fuck.

"That kiss, it was special. And I hope, I really hope, that maybe you felt that, too, just a bit. Maybe," I continued, a hint of desperation edging my words.

Hold it together, Masen. You're starting to slip again.

I took a deep breath, determined to get a hold of myself and get this bit right at least. "What I want to say is that I'd like to get to know you better. After this shoot if that's what you'd prefer. Perhaps we could meet, erm… go out on a …date?" My voice petered out to a whisper, and I realised I was now looking at the ground, not wanting to see the rejection I was sure was in her eyes. My heart was pounding, and despite the deep breath of life-giving air I'd gulped, I felt weirdly dizzy. I shoved my hands firmly in my pockets and forced myself to stand still and wait for whatever response she would make. I honestly had no idea how she would react. Contrary woman. I scowled at the thought.

Way to appear confident and mature, Masen.

But I didn't want to pretend with her. I wasn't confident, and I sure as hell felt like an adolescent whenever I was around her. I felt her step closer, could feel her heat as she drew nearer. My heart rate picked up even more. This was it.


Bella POV

It was probably the most adorable thing I'd ever seen. If it was any other man, he might look a bit pathetic, but that just wasn't possible for Edward. When I was six, I'd never been asked out on a date by another six year old, but I imagine that if I had, he'd have looked just like this.

I stepped closer to him, my lips twitching at the sight of his slumped shoulders, his hands shoved deep into his jeans pockets, the deep frown lines across his forehead and, oh, his pouty lips. I felt my heart twist inside me. Finding the courage that only seemed to exist when I was near him, I lifted my hand towards him. I paused hovering over his shoulder, a relatively safe area, but I wanted, and he needed, more. Instead, I allowed my hand to cup his cheek, fingers resting lightly along his chiselled jaw. Instantly, the flow of heat started, warming every part of my body. I had no idea what that was exactly, but I knew I loved it.

"Edward." My voice was quiet and steady, and I was a bit surprised I'd managed to make any sound at all, let alone something so steady.

He lifted his head, his eyes meeting mine, and my breath caught in my throat. How could this beautiful man possibly want anything to do with me? His expressive eyes were asking, hoping, reassuring, worshiping. Eyes alone couldn't do all that, could they? It must be my imagination. He swallowed deeply, his prominent Adam's apple bobbing up and down.

Concentrate, Bella. Don't mess this up. I think maybe this could be real.

I squealed inside like a Justin Bieber fan, but smiled at him as sanely as I could in the circumstances.

"We can get to know each other here, too, if you like," I found myself offering, part of me not wanting to wait in case he didn't mean it, part of me horrified at the thought of causing any kind of gossip. "We can talk while we work, yes?" I added, hoping against hope that I'd be able to concentrate on work with all… this… going on. Inside, I was still squealing in an embarrassing fan girl way while the feel of his scruff roughed skin against my palm and the possibility of something between us made my heart pound.

In reply, he slowly turned his head and pressed his lips into my palm, the feel of them soft and warm against my sense heightened skin. My knees almost buckled. Wait. What the hell kind of a stupid plan had I just suggested? There was no way I could keep my sanity while working with him.

Especially if he did that.

"That's a good plan," he replied softly, his words brushing against my skin, his eyes never leaving mine. "I like it."

That was good then. I think.

Engage brain, girl!

Sorry. Not a chance of that happening any time soon.

He pressed another sensuous, warm, moist kiss into my palm and then moved his lips away, turning to face me again. He was smiling at me now, his eyes sparkling, and I had a bizarre flash of kid-on-Christmas-morning feeling.

Oh god, I've got it bad!

I clenched my fingers over the slightly damp skin of my palm where he had kissed me and held on. I wanted to keep those kisses forever. Heck, teenage me was running rampant again. This never happened. I didn't even know I still had a teenage side left. I took a deep breath and consciously pushed down on the sappy stuff. We had a job to do.

Be professional, remember. This is just a slight amendment. Now I'm going to be professional while getting to know him better. That could work. Right?

I took a somewhat unsteady breath and stepped further away from him. I could think a bit clearer when I wasn't so close.

"We still need to work," I reminded him a little shakily. "We need to be professional, not let anything interfere with our work."

He nodded in agreement. "Of course," he replied a bit too meekly. I shot him a suspicious look.

"We're here to do a job after all," I continued more firmly, managing to pull my so-called professional persona back. "The job comes first," I reminded him as sternly as I could manage over all the conflicting stuff that was going on inside. He nodded again, his face now inscrutable. Bloody actors.

"Well, we should get ready for this afternoon then," I reminded him briskly, a bit annoyed that I couldn't now tell what he was thinking. "They'll be calling for you soon." I thought I caught a momentary flash of something hot and hungry in his face before he covered it up again. But I could have been wrong.

"Sure," he replied, looking like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. "I'm wearing a suit, right?" His blankly innocent look was as infuriating as hell.

"Yes," I replied through gritted teeth. "And taking some of it off, don't forget." I gulped. I hadn't forgotten. "Have you practiced that?" I asked him challengingly.

He looked pointedly at me, and I didn't know whether to be annoyed or giggle. Really, this was going to be such hard work. "Bella, I get undressed every day," he said. "I kind of know how to do it by now."

I pushed down the little thrill I felt when he said my name and replied, "Yes, I know, but do you know how to do it for an audience?" He looked a little more unsure now, and I smirked a bit. "Put your suit on and then maybe we'll go through the scene briefly?" I made it a question, trying to calm myself down a bit. He gave me one of his patented crooked grins… bastard, does he know what that does to me?... and disappeared around behind the rails to change. I carefully turned to face the other way, not wanting to risk seeing any narrow flashes of his body again. Damn it. I was going to have to confess about that, too, wasn't I?

After a few tense minutes, tense for me anyway, he stepped back around the screen and said in his best chocolate-coated-velvet voice, "Okay, Bella, I'm ready for you." My heart slammed into my throat, and my ovaries practically got on their knees and begged. I turned to face him, gripping onto the side of the table as I did so since it was the only way to keep myself upright, gave my internal organs a stern talking to about priorities, and narrowed my eyes at him.

"What?" he asked, not at all innocently, a wicked gleam in his eye. My lips almost twitched and gave away my amusement. God, he was going to be hell to be around. How could I possibly concentrate on work? We were going to need some ground rules. I hesitated, but it was now or never. I had to not be timid around him if we were going to be… friends now.

"Youneedtostopsayingthattome," I told him, forcing the damning words out in a rush. He quirked an eyebrow at me in question, though the amused look on his face told me he knew full well what I was referring to. Bastard.

"And stop doing that, too!" my voice was an anguished cry. God, he was so annoying and sexy and likeable, damn it.

He grinned, not even pretending now to not know what I meant.

"Get you hot and bothered, do I?" he asked. I blushed. Damn it. He laughed softly and walked towards me, bending down to whisper in my ear, "Did you know you are as sexy as hell when you go all Ms-Stern-Face-Swan on me?" I blinked confusedly, my mouth dropping open as my brain struggled to keep up.


He grinned at my confusion, put his finger under my chin and nudged my mouth closed, but saved me from having to respond by casually walking over to the table and picking up a copy of this afternoon's script. "You want to go over this together, do you?" he asked calmly in a business-like tone. How the hell did he do that? I struggled once again to push the personal stuff down, and I loosened my grip on the table.

Deep breaths, Bella. Think about it later.

"Yes," I paused, valiantly gathering my professional self together. I was getting a lot of practice at that. "I think you should just go over the moves a bit if you're not used to them."

He smiled at me, his eyes crinkling like they did when it was a genuine smile. I found myself smiling back. God, that felt good. "Moves?" he questioned, lowering his gaze to read the stage directions out loud. "Liam enters the room and throws his jacket over a chair. He looks at Lauren, lying in bed on the other side of the room. He sits and takes off his shoes then…"

"And socks," I interrupted quickly.

He glanced at me, his eyes amused, before continuing, "AND socks and then slowly walks towards her, taking off his tie and undoing his shirt as he walks. You know," he added, "I think I can do that okay."

I sighed. Men. "Edward, you should practice with these clothes. You're not used to them. Stand in front of the mirror and undo your tie," I instructed. "It should be sensual but purposeful. Practice flicking the cufflinks undone, too. They can be a bit tricky. Remember, you are watching Lauren the whole time, so you won't be able to look at what you're doing."

He looked up through his lashes, wet his lips and gave me a brief burning look at my stern tone.

Oh my God, I've died and gone to heaven. No, actually, that should be hell. The things he makes me feel are definitely bad. Very, very bad and naughty…

Then he looked away and nodded, acknowledging the use in practicing this and, I thought, the necessity of getting back to work. Quickly. Before we, well, whatever. I just grabbed hold of my sanity and held on for dear life - I was doing that a lot around him - and stood back and watched.

It was what was called the Declaration Scene this afternoon. Taking place in a dimly lit bedroom, Edward's character, Liam, half undresses in front of his girlfriend. This was the scene that … I gulped… originally Edward had been down for doing naked. It was me that had asked for the whole undressing scene instead, so I wanted to make sure that he got it right. The actress playing Lauren wasn't here today, but it wasn't a problem. Edward just had to fix his eyes on the spot that she would be in if she were here and, well, just act.

I looked at him wearing the outfit that I had picked for the scene and felt a small swell of pride, both for my choice of outfit and for how damn bloody good he looked in it. I'd selected a coal black Gucci suit, crisp white Charvet shirt, and slim silk tie. The French cuffs were fastened with platinum cuff links - brushed rather than polished - and he had on black leather dress shoes. He looked amazing. He looked delicious. I wanted so badly to slide my hands inside that jacket, between cool silk lining and body warmed cotton shirt, and wrap them around him. I couldn't believe that this was the man who had kissed me a short while ago. This man. Kissed me.

Here to work, remember?

Reluctantly, I forced all thoughts relating to kissing, twinkling eyes and naked bodies firmly down and tried to think objectively.

Edward was fiddling with the shirt, looking a bit unsure. "Does this fit right?" he asked as I walked closer to stand in front of him. "Shouldn't it be looser?" I snorted to myself. I loved the way the shirt followed the taut lines of his body down into the low waist of his trousers and beyond…

Here to work, remember?

"It's perfect, Edward," I informed him, the effort of keeping the personal stuff firmly repressed making my voice brisk. "Shirts should never balloon when they're tucked in. They should be snug in the chest, but without any pulling between the buttons." He fingered the thick mother of pearl buttons. God, I loved watching his beautiful long fingers. I swallowed. Hard. He watched me, his eyes darkening again.

Getting my mind away from bad, very bad, personal thoughts again and valiantly ignoring his look, I suggested, "See if you can undo the buttons one handed. That always looks good." He practiced for a few minutes, his dextrous fingers flicking the buttons open effortlessly, allowing a few chest hairs to spring free and exposing the skin of his chest down to just above his navel. I looked away, swallowing hard again. He was going to be the death of me. Death by lust. I wondered if that was possible.

He grinned mischievously when he saw my reaction, and I gave him a hard look in return. If I was going to put in this much effort to controlling my thoughts and possible actions, then he damned well was too.

If anything, he smirked even harder at my look. Damn him. I grinned. He was incorrigible.

"This is a nice shirt," he commented, presumably in the way of a peace offering.

"It should be for the price," I muttered under my breath, waiting for him to do it back up again so that I could safely look without having to risk reaching over to run my fingers inside that shirt, through that light dusting of springy chest hair.

"Why?" he asked, concentrating on the buttons. "How much did it cost?"

"About £300 pounds."

"For a shirt?" He was aghast, and I laughed. Multi-million pound earning film star or not, at least he had his feet on the ground.

"It's one of the most important parts of your wardrobe, Edward," I lectured, enjoying seeing him staring in incomprehension at his shirt. "Anyway, I've seen you in beautiful shirts," I continued, not adding that I probably had a better idea of what he had worn in public than he did.

"Well, my sister shops for me," he mumbled, looking embarrassed at having to make that confession.

"Just don't ever ask to look at the bill then," I replied, laughing a bit as he pouted and muttered that it was just a shirt. I wondered if he knew how much the suit he was wearing cost. I handed him the tie and watched as he deftly slipped it round his neck and quickly tied it.

"Okay," he said. "Have I tied it right?"

I looked closely at the tie, surprised to note that it was a beautiful knot complete with dimple. Perfect. Of course, I reminded myself, the amount of premiers and appearance he did, he'd had a lot of practice at perfecting the tie. I nodded at him approvingly. "It's great, though it could be a little shorter; the tip of the tie should hit the middle of the trouser button. Now, practice undoing it."

He gave me an inscrutable look before practicing a couple of times. "Remember to keep your eyes on the mirror and not look down at your hands," I said. "And you could slow down a bit, too. Make this a lingering process. The brush of the silk against the starched cotton of your shirt could be quite sensuous. The secret is to look confident and maintain eye contact with Lauren." He nodded, taking in my advice, and practiced a couple more times.

I watched as he tied and untied the subtly striped silk around his neck. I found the expression of concentration on his face incredibly distracting as every now and then his tongue flicked out and touched his lips. I shifted uncomfortably, knowing what that tongue felt like brushing against my own lips. In a poorly thought out attempt to distract my thoughts from the memory of that tongue, I let my gaze drift down his body to his black wool covered legs. The trousers he wore had been tailored for him and, oh boy, did they fit well; low on the hip, slim in the leg and snug in all the right places. In fact, a bit too snug in one place, I smirked. Perhaps he should wear a dressing ring* to help with that little problem. Not that I minded seeing the gentle bulge at the top of his left leg. Not at all. But it did make me a bit hot and bothered, as Edward had put it.

I wonder how long I can stare at his crotch before it looks like more than professional interest?

Probably should have stopped about five minutes ago really.

Edward cleared his throat, and I tore my gaze back up to his face to find him watching me intently, the hot hungry look back in his eyes. Oh bloody hell. I felt heat bloom across my cheeks, but before either of us could say anything, a sharp rap sounded on the door, interrupting what could have been an awkward moment there.

Could have been?

Our gazes were still locked together as Angela stuck her head around the door, spotted Edward and announced, "I need you in make-up now, Edward," before disappearing again. Neither of us acknowledged her. With a sigh, Edward broke his gaze, leant forward to pick up his jacket from where he had thrown it on the table and turned to obediently head out of the room after her. He paused as he passed me and leant down to give me a brief but incredibly hot kiss on my startled lips.

Warm, soft, honey.

Holy shit, I will never get used to that.

"Work now, talk later," he whispered, his breath brushing in a promise across my already heated cheek. I didn't reply, couldn't reply. I just stared after him as he sauntered out of the room, leaving me completely unable to move. Partly I was stunned by the chaste but, oh my god, hot kiss. Partly it was because I was enjoying watching his arse as he walked away.


Edward POV

The set was dark and atmospheric. Brilliant. I was going to trip over something and miss all my marks. Was it my fault my concentration was shot to pieces? Those few minutes while she watched me dressing and undressing had been torture. The way her eyes widened as I undid the buttons on my shirt, the way they got darker, almost predatory, as I undid the lower buttons. God, I thought I'd never be able to stand still. And then the way she looked all disappointed and pouty when I did them up again… A man could only take so much, and she pushed me right to the limit. And I don't think she even realised she was doing it.

I shook my head to try and clear it, though it was a useless attempt really, and had to resist the temptation to put both hands in my hair, grab hold and pull. God, I was so worked up.

"Are you ready, Edward?" asked Jason. "We need you in starting position. We're just waiting for you." I grimaced at the subtle dig. I needed to concentrate on work, even if it was the last thing I wanted to do.

I was starting off in the door way of the room where my character needed to pause and take off his jacket. Jason made his way over to me for some last minute direction. He probably figured I needed it. "Pause in the door way, Edward," he instructed. "You'll be backlit for this whole scene, don't forget, so your siluette is important." I nodded.

Alistair appeared at my side and added, "And I suggest a subtle unbuttoning of the jacket and a casual shrug of your shoulders to slip the jacket down your arms and then just throw it on the chair."

Jason and I eyed him speculatively. He sounded like he'd done this before. He winked, and I grinned and decided I didn't want details.

"Wouldn't Liam take a bit more care of it?" I asked, thinking of my tightly controlled character.

"Your girl is lying in bed waiting for you," replied Jason dryly. "It may well be an expensive suit, but sex is on the menu, don't forget." Yeah, I could relate to that. I forced my mind away from the memory of kissing Bella. Not helpful right now. Need to concentrate.

Alistair added, "There's nothing less sexy than a man fussing about folding his jacket just right. Take my word for it. Just toss it over the chair and don't give it another thought." So that's what I did. I felt awkward and a bit stupid doing it, but we just did a couple of takes, and they were happy with the results. The next part wasn't so easy.

Sit on the chair, take your shoes and socks off and make it look sexy. How the hell did anyone make that look sexy? What the hell kind of job had I ended up in where an instruction like that was part of my working day? Jason had instructed me to keep my eyes on Lauren from the moment I entered the room, telling her with my gaze how much I wanted her. Taking my jacket off, letting it slide down my arms and nonchalantly throwing it onto a chair was do-able, but now I had to sit and take off my shoes and socks, sexily, without looking away from the point where Lauren was. Had they any idea how hard that was? Were any of them going to go home after this and sexily take off their shoes and socks for their wives or girlfriends? Who the hell did that in real life? But if there was one thing I had learnt, it was that films in no way reflected real life. I did my best to think like Liam, but the sock thing was just ridiculous. I couldn't believe I was doing this. I let a chuckle slip out, and Jason called, "Cut! Try that again, Edward, from the top." Shit. I pulled the socks back up and started again. I was going to have to try harder. Perhaps if I imagined it was Bella waiting in bed for me…


Bella POV

Gucci and bare feet. There is a God, and She loves me.

I never knew it was possible to take your shoes and socks off in a sexy way before. It always looked awkward or routine whenever I had seen a man do it. Of course, I had never had a man quite like Edward in my bedroom, so that was obviously where I had been going wrong.

He entered the room through the door way and paused, his eyes glittering in the dim light. Focusing on his girlfriend lying in bed, his eyes hardened and took on an erotic gleam. I swallowed. Holy hell, he looked like a lion with its prey in its sights. His whole body stiffened in anticipation of what he and Lauren where about to do, his shoulders flexed, his chest swelled, his long powerful legs took a firmer stance. And then he moved.

Walking would be a poor way to describe how he crossed the space between the door and the chair. He prowled. He stalked. He staked his claim and his intent with every movement of his body. I shoved the side of my hand in my mouth and bit down into the flesh to stop myself from making a sound because I'm not sure if I would have whimpered pathetically or shouted that he was mine. Because he was, or could be, kind of, I think. My god, how could a man that looked like that want me?

I watched helplessly as Edward lowered himself into the chair, never taking his eyes off Lauren once, the hungry, predatory look only increasing as he got closer to her. Slowly, he crossed one leg over his knee and reached for the shoelace on his polished black shoe, still never taking his eyes from his prize. The fabric stretched taut over his firm thighs, and the movements of his fingers were graceful and erotic as they took hold of the lace and pulled it undone. The unravelling of the lace reminded me of a corset being undone; the long beautiful fingers pulling the lace free from its restraints, the backs of his fingers brushing the polished leather of the shoe in a gentle caress.

Wrapping his hand around the rounded heel of the shoe, Edward eased it from his foot, gliding his hand up the length purposefully, caressing his foot with the thumb and fingers as he stroked right to the end, to his toes. He let go of the shoe, and it dropped into the darkness, forgotten as all eyes were fixed on his hand making a sensual return back up his foot. I didn't even hear the shoe hit the ground, so unimportant was it at that moment.

His fingers worked their way up beneath the hem of his trousers, easing the fabric up until the questing fingertips reached the top of his plain black sock. His fingers slipped inside, and he started to push the sock down, towards his foot, caressing his skin as he did so.

Suddenly, he stopped. His posture changed as he stiffened, and he drew in a gasp of breath. Looking into the camera for the first time, Edward said, "Sorry, Jason. I lost concentration for a moment there."

"That's okay, Edward. Just pull the sock back up, and we'll pick it up from there."

Edward flicked me the tiniest of glances where I was standing at the back of the room, and I knew, I just knew, that he had been thinking about yesterday, when I had helped him take his sock off.

I swallowed again as Edward slipped back into character; the apologetic tenseness of Edward slipping back into the determined, purposefulness of Liam. This time, he removed his sock without breaking character, though I had to look away from the sight of his naked foot. It was doing strange things to me. Edward placed his bare foot back on the ground and then repeated the process with his other foot, never once taking his heated gaze away from Lauren. By the time he stood up from the chair, bare foot and ready for more, I was almost hyperventilating. Stood at the back of the room as I was, no one was looking at me. They were all gazing at Edward or monitoring equipment, and I was suddenly, irrationally, completely jealous of 'Lauren.'


Edward POV

"Okay, Edward, we'll do that one more time, get some close-ups." One more time turned into three, and I was sick of taking shoes and socks off well before the end. Not to mention the fact that sliding the sock off like that just reminded me of Bella's touch. I hadn't been able to help my own reaction once I started thinking of her. My mind instantly jumped to remembering Bella kneeling before me as I sat on the cold stone wall. My body reacted instantly, too, and I was as hard as a rock for the remainder of the takes. Luckily, I only had to rise from the chair once for the first take, but it was a wide shot, and the angle of the camera would have picked up the obvious bulge in my trousers no problem. Lucky my character was supposed to be feeling that way.

No one mentioned anything.

Finally, I was done with the shoes and socks business, and now I had to walk across the floor to the bed, removing my tie and undoing my shirt as I went. Did guys really do this stuff?

I could see my marks on the floor peripherally as I trained my eyes on the chair with a cushion propped up on it that represented where Lauren's face would be when the scene was cut together. It was getting increasingly hard to remember that that cushion was what I was acting to. I'd put my all into the shoe business, holding an image of Bella in my mind, wrong as that probably was, but I was losing focus, knowing that the real woman was at the back of the room somewhere and I couldn't turn my head to look for her. We did a quick run through so that lights could be checked again. I didn't touch my tie for this, just walked the short distance directly towards the camera, gazing at the Lauren cushion as I walked. I hit my marks, the lights and filters were fiddled with, and we were ready for a take. I was waiting by the chair when Bella stood before me.

"Remember, cufflinks while you're standing here, then tie then buttons," she reminded me. We'd practiced this, and I was fairly confident that I could do the actions, even the tie thing, but what I wasn't confident about was being able to come on to 'another woman' when Bella was in the room. I was drawn only to her. I felt her. I just wanted to turn in her direction and throw some of those lustful looks at her rather than at a damn cushion.

"Stand behind the chair," I said to her suddenly. If I was going to do this seductive thing, I needed to have my focus on the right part of the room. She looked unsure. Did she really not know how I felt about her? How bloody distracted I was by her? How much I wanted her to be Lauren to my Liam?

"You can watch the tie thing from there," I added, conscious of the curious and knowing looks my words had drawn from the crew, "and let me know if I'm doing it right." She nodded, not seeing my desperation to have her in my line of sight.

"Yes, okay, if you want."

Oh do I want.

Then her voice firmed. "But you had it okay when you practiced. Just don't mess it up, and you'll be fine."

I smiled at her. She was so damn hot when she went all stern like that. Someone in the crew laughed and hurriedly turned it into a cough when I glared in their direction. Great. Everyone except Bella could see how I was feeling.

She slipped away into the crowded room and managed to find a spot to stand in right behind the Lauren chair. I sighed in relief. Perfect. Liam could give it his all, and I wouldn't be distracted. Much.

The first take went okay. I fumbled with the second cuff and automatically looked down when I undid a tricky button on my shirt, but overall, it hadn't gone badly. I had concentrated like mad on the cushion, and it had worked up to a certain extent. It didn't draw me like the presence of the woman standing behind it did, but I did my utmost to act like it did.

"From the top," said Jason in his quiet voice, which meant he was concentrating and didn't like being disturbed. I walked back to first position, and Bella followed me, readjusting my tie after I had rebuttoned my shirt. She tsked when she saw I'd done them up wrong and muttered something about how I could never do them up right.

"Want help with the cuffs?" she asked.

"Huh?" She smelt so good. Her hair was pulled back but I knew how soft it was, and I longed to touch it.

"Your cuff links. Do you want me to do them up for you?"

Her lips were so soft I wanted to run my tongue along them and taste her again.

"Edward!" Jason called impatiently. "Are you ready?" I snapped out of my Bella induced haze. Jesus. What was wrong with me?

"Er, yeah. Sorry," I muttered, allowing Bella to sort the cuff links out as it would be quicker. "Ready when you are."

The second take went a bit better. I didn't fumble or break eye contact with the cushion, but it felt off. Not as intense as the shoe scene had been.

"From the top," instructed Jason to the room in general. He made his way over to me as I once again righted my buttons and tie, Bella hovering in the background, ready to check everything was in place.

"What do you need, Edward?" he asked. "What can we do to help you get this one?" I locked gazes with Bella over Jason's shoulder. I knew what I needed. I needed it to be me and Bella. "Whatever it takes, Edward." Jason continued, glancing over his shoulder. "Use whatever inspiration you want."

I nodded to let him know I'd heard him and prepared to do the ridiculous scene again. Honestly, no man would do this for real. He'd just take his clothes off and get into bed. This whole walk-towards-her-while-stripping thing was ridiculous.

After quickly adjusting my tie and repositioning a cuff link, Bella slipped back into the dim light behind the camera. I saw Jason murmur something to Mike, who in turn stepped over to Bella and said something to her. I couldn't see clearly in the dim light, but she seemed surprised. I felt a surge of something strong inside me, something that told me to get him away from her, but before I could react, Bella was moving away to her left and kneeling down on the floor. She was right next to the damn Lauren chair, her face now level with the Lauren cushion. How I didn't want to be acting to that damn cushion.

"Action," said Jason softly to my left. "Do what feels right, Edward." I locked gazes with Bella. Now that was what felt right. I could see her face lit in profile by one of the softly diffused lights to her left. Could see her cheek that I knew felt soft, her eyelashes that I knew were long, her lips that I knew tasted of magic. And I wanted more. Slipping into the character of Liam, I allowed myself to think of Bella as Lauren. Yes. That was better. That was the woman I wanted to seduce, the woman I wanted to be waiting in my bed for me. That was the woman I wanted to want me. I rested my hands on the waist of my trousers and smirked a little when her eyes followed the movement.

Yes, want me, too.

I smoothed my fingers back and forth along the narrow waist band, never dropping them lower, but hinting at what was throbbing for her, barely contained under that dark conservative cloth.

My lips felt dry, and I licked them quickly, swallowing hard when I saw Bella lick hers in response. Remembering why I was standing there like a pillock, I started to undo one of the cuff links, taking the initiative and boldly rolling the shirt cuff back two turns, exposing my forearm to her gaze. She never looked away from the movement of my hands. Liam was an arrogant sod, and I enjoyed taking my time to undo the other cuff, rolling it back to expose my arm again, knowing that she was enjoying the sight of the strong muscles that I flexed for her.

I took the first step towards her, remembering that Liam would prowl like some kind of big cat, and reached up to confidently pull the tie loose from its knot, letting the silk fabric slip through my fingers, leaving the ends dangling as, with my other hand, I roughly pulled the collar button free. Doing it roughly that way was different from how we'd practiced, but damn, did it feel good to let some of my frustrated desire out with the jerky, powerful movements. I watched, satisfied, as her eyes widened, lips parted, anticipation written all over her face. I stalked slowly closer as I slipped the remaining shirt buttons free from their holes with one hand, the other flexed at my side.

As I took the last couple of steps, I broke from the plan again and reached with both hands to pull the shirt loose from my trousers. I undid the remaining two buttons, opening it completely, leaving it hanging from my shoulders, almost slipping from one as I stopped before Bella/Lauren and brought my hand to the fastening of my trousers. I slipped the button free and stood there before her, chest rising and falling with the harsh breaths I was taking, even, I think, a faint sheen of sweat across my skin as I saw her reaction to me. Her eyes travelled down my body before settling on my crotch. My dick twitched in response - I couldn't help it, he had a mind of his own - and I watched in a state of torment as she licked her lips.

What she does to me.

What she could do to me.

Focus. Working here.

Struggling to stay in character and to not reach for her and kiss the hell out of her as I wanted to… oh sodding fucking hell did I want to… I tried to think like Liam and twitched my lips into a crooked smirk and raised an eyebrow in question at her, a sort of 'well, are you ready for me?' kind of look. God, I could really relate to this Liam character suddenly. There was a pause. A long pause. I could feel two cameras, thirteen pairs of eyes, about six lights and Bella, all gazing at me, shining their heat and their presence at me, and all I could see or feel was Bella.

Following the script, I dropped to my knees by the side of the 'bed,' locked my gaze with Bella's/Lauren's and said, "I want you, Lauren. More than the sun and the stars and anything the hell else. It's you. Only you." The line had seemed corny when I'd first read it, but I understood the strength of feeling behind it more now. "I'm going to show you now," I continued in Liam's strong commanding voice. "I'm going to show you how much I love you." I let the want and the need and the passion burn from my eyes and show in every tensed muscle of my body, and I held it there for what seemed like forever. It was easy when I was looking into Bella's eyes.

"Oh fuck," I heard whispered in the dim room. "I think I just embarrassed myself," continued Alistair, and the spell was broken.

"Er, yes, cut," said Jason with a laugh as people in the room relaxed and laughed shakily, gradually dissipating the sexual tension that had held everyone enthralled.

"That was er… good, Edward," added Jason. "Great. We'll get some close-ups, I think, but that was… er… great."

I nodded faintly, still under the spell of Bella's gaze. Gradually, my breathing evened out, and I relaxed my tense muscles. It took a conscious effort, but I reminded myself that we were in a room full of people and it wasn't just Bella and me alone together. Yet.

Tearing my gaze away from her heated stare, though fuck knows how I managed it, I sighed, stood up and began to button up the shirt again. We still had work to do. This was going to be one hell of a long afternoon.


Bella POV

The white dress shirt, sleeves rolled up, open at the front, low waisted black formal trousers. This was very familiar. This was most definitely one of my favourite fantasies... I gulped... come to life.

Edward was standing right in front of me and had completely unbuttoned his shirt now. It hung open, his dark tie still hanging around the collar, adding to the decadent feel of the fantasy. His chest was exposed to the dim light along with his stomach, and the definition of his abs was clearly visible in the play of light and dark shadows as I gazed up at him from my position sitting on the floor. I was mesmerised by the indent of his hip bones, but couldn't help but stare at the soft trail of dark hair that led the way from his navel all the way down…

…to eye level. To the swell in his trousers that was right in front of me. I licked my lips.

Holy shit.

I snapped out of the fantasy in horrified embarrassment right back into reality. It was the same.

Holy shit, it's real.

Well, of course it's real. Do you think you're living in some kind of parallel universe?


I snapped my eyes up to meet his intense stare before helplessly letting them travel down to look at his lips. I'd been so intently watching his body I'd forgotten about his lips.

Mmmm, his lips.

Oh my god, he's licking them. How could I have forgotten about his lips? His eyes, his cheek bones and his jaw. God, how I loved his jaw. So masculine, so defined, so perfect.

Then he dropped to his knees and told me he loved me.

Told Lauren, you mean.

Shut up and let me enjoy this.

The silence between us went on and on until I couldn't bare it any longer. I had just sent the signal from my sluggish brain to my hand to tell it to move when a voice shattered the illusion. We weren't alone. And Edward hadn't been speaking to me. He'd been following the script. I clenched my fingers into my palm to counteract the grab-hold-of-his-shirt, pull-him-to-you and kiss-the-hell-out-of-him movement I had been about to make.

We're working. We're here to do a job.

In front of me, Edward sighed and stood up, and I hastily did the same, the suggestive position suddenly not so enthralling when I remembered there were over a dozen other people in the room.

I needed to stretch my legs for a moment, needed to clear my head, needed air, needed to get away…

"We'll finish this then talk later," Edward whispered as I brushed past him, the back of his index finger just brushing my hand as I drew parallel. Not a coincidence. A promise. I nodded. The end of the day couldn't come soon enough. And I couldn't leave yet. If I walked out of the room now, I'd never be able to make myself walk back in. I squared my shoulders, preparing myself for more work.

Then talking later.

Several hours, many takes and, in the crew's case, some short tempers later, we were finished. I was so tired I could hardly stand up straight. But before dispersing, we all gathered around the monitor to watch the footage that had just been shot. I was reluctant to join in - as if I needed any more stimulation today - but I was sort of jostled by the crowd until I found myself pressed up tight between Edward on one side and a blushing Seth on the other, all craning to see the last scene of the day.

It was brilliant. Shot from behind with strong lighting in front, Edward's long lean body was silhouetted through the fine fabric of his shirt. From his wide shoulders to his lean hips, his torso was completely visible, yet tantalisingly veiled, just as I had first envisioned. It was an incredibly sexy view and, I thought, was well worth the extra time it took to get right. Everyone in the group breathed a deep sigh of relief. We could see it was going to look fantastic in the film.

Pressed up next to me, partly to the side, partly behind, all I could feel was the warm, hard body of Edward. He peered over my shoulder, as interested as anyone in seeing the scene on the screen in front of us, but hidden from view, I could feel the hot, firm pressure of his hand against my lower back. His long fingers were splayed motionless against my spine, but his thumb was brushing in rhythmic strokes below my waist and over the beginning curve of my arse, the no-go area that would have had a Victorian lady swooning. It bloody nearly had me swooning, too. I gritted my teeth and tried to shift away from his disturbing touch before I did something stupid, like actually swoon, but the crowd wasn't moving.

"Let's talk," his lips murmured almost silently against my hair, his hot breath reaching my ear and making it tingle. Tingle? Honestly? Then the pressure against my body was gone, and I felt bereft and cold as Edward merely stood beside me. Slanting him a quick glance, he appeared completely unaffected by our brief but never-to-be-forgotten contact – by me anyway – seeming as attentive to the screen and the comments of Jason and Alec as everyone else. How did he do that?

He is paid stupid amounts of money for his talent, you know.

Bloody actors.

What? You wanted him to let everyone see him touch you?

I had to admit that I most definitely did not, but it would have been quite nice if he was also left a breathless idiot just from a brief touch. I chanced a quick glance at him again. We were standing incredibly close still, you could probably barely get a hand's breadth between us, and my glance caught the movement of his throat as he swallowed, the quickened throb of his pulse in his neck. Hmm, perhaps not so unaffected then. I was reminded that now work was over, the promised talking could begin. I felt the earlier tension that had never left me but had been firmly repressed start to coil its way back through me. Correspondingly, and rather annoyingly, my brain slowed right down.

"…starving, aren't you?"

"Huh?" was my completely unintelligent reply. Who could talk after Edward had stroked his thumb over their…?

God, don't think about it.

"I said," repeated Angela over my shoulder with a laugh, "dinner's ready, and I'm starving. Are you coming?" Food wasn't actually top of my priority list right now. In fact, I could think of several things I wanted more than food. As the crowd began to disperse and I hastily put some circumspect distance between me and Edward, I tried to think about what it was I did want.

Well, duh!

Okay, but grabbing him and kissing him again couldn't really happen in front of an audience, could it? We needed some privacy, but without everyone suspecting anything.

You are deluded if you think no one knows what's going on.

Shut up.

It was easier for me to pretend otherwise.

"Actually, Bella, I need some help with this costume," said Edward as he appeared at my side again and smiled innocently down at Angela. "It's a bit… tricky," he added, now looking at me. I met his gaze with mine, and that was the end of me. His blankly innocent expression was completely ruined by the most wicked eyes I had ever seen. I may have groaned. Out loud. I'm not sure. Angela giggled, and Edward lost his impossibly innocent look and smiled his crooked, crinkly eyed smile, the one that made my knees weak and my insides weep.


"My costume?" he prompted, adding a quirk of his eyebrow into the mix. Oh that bastard, he knew what that did to me! I rummaged around in my lust hazed brain to try and pick up the conversation. Oh! His costume! It was the lamest excuse I'd ever heard. It was brilliant! I grabbed hold of it and ran with it.

"Yes, of course," I replied quickly, firmly ignoring Angela's you're-not-fooling-me-for-a-minute expression. "Let's go back to wardrobe, and I'll help you with that." I managed to tear my eyes away from the green-grey depths of his and looked at Angela in what I hoped was an apologetic way, but I was no actress; I was sure she could see exactly what I was thinking. I felt guilty heat flood my cheeks and quickly looked away down towards the floor. Mortified, I said to her in a quiet voice, "I'll see you at dinner in a bit," as I began backing out of the room towards the door. She waved me off with a knowing grin, and I hurried after Edward, who was already halfway there, hoping against hope that no one else had seen that. It was one thing to be thinking suggestive thoughts, but to be seen thinking them?

Rushing down the echoing corridor and into my room, I pushed the door closed behind me and leaned against it, my stomach now beginning to twist itself into knots. What on earth was I doing?

Enjoying yourself for a change. Now get on with it.

Knowing that there was no one else around to see us, I looked up. Looked past the dusty wooden floor, lit by patchy pools of lamp light, past the boxes of costume and equipment stacked against the walls and feasted my eyes on the only thing that mattered. Edward. He was standing by the table, long, beautiful legs covered with black as midnight wool, his shirt still undone, his eyes doing that I-want-to-consume-you thing that they had been doing on set all afternoon.

Oh my god, he's here. With me.

I swallowed painfully. My mouth seemed to have gone dry. I was suddenly very conscious of the fact that I didn't actually have much experience at this sort of thing. Hell, I'd never actually been wanted so much in my life! It just didn't seem real, didn't seem as though it should be allowed. A noisy clatter of talking and heavy footsteps on the other side of the door made me jump away from it and instinctively panic that we would be found, and people would laugh and point and gossip, and Edward would laugh, too, and say that it had all been a game and that he didn't really want anything to do with me, and I would be heartbroken and humiliated.

I said I wasn't much of an actress. He saw it all on my face, saw every thought and emotion. I watched him, my eyes as large as saucers, it felt. Now there's an attractive thought, but he didn't laugh or joke or, unbelievably, even leave.

Instead, he smiled at me. A soul wrenching heart melting smile of heat and want and compassion and understanding. Holding out his hand towards me, he said in a husky whisper, "Come and help me with my costume, Bella?" And as I stepped irresistibly forward and reached towards him, he took my hand lightly in his and began to lead me around the rails into the changing area, his fingers caressing my palm, stoking the heat that instantly flowed again between us. I sighed. At his touch, my worries about what we were doing just floated away. It felt so right. So unbelievably right. My cares about being seen, being gossiped about, just didn't seem to matter when we were close like this, touching.

"It's okay," he said, still in that slightly hoarse, controlled whisper. "If anyone comes in, they won't see us behind here." My heart jumped guiltily, and I bit my lip as I thought about it, but decided that this was probably not the time to tell him that that was not actually true. If you stood in just the right place by the table, you could see…

And then he was drawing me closer to him, wrapping his arms around my waist as I wound mine around him. Funny, it just happened naturally, no awkward fumbling, just sliding hands and warmth and … the perfect fit. We paused for a moment, arms gently wrapped around each other, bodies a heartbeat away from each other, watching each other. I don't know what he saw in me, but I was so mixed up inside I could hardly think. Then I was thinking too much.

This felt so good. He felt so good. But we shouldn't be doing this. He shouldn't be doing this. With me. What if he changes his mind? Am I too tall? Not skinny enough? Not a good enough kisser? Is my deodorant still working? Oh god, what did I have for lunch? Will I still taste like tomato soup?

WILL you shut the heck up?

And then it all faded away. The tension just disappeared, the stupid, stupid ramblings in my head stopped and it was just us. Heat and touch and want.

See? This is more like it.

I almost rolled my eyes at my inner thoughts, but before I could form any kind of coherent response or even want to, the heat that sparked between us couldn't be denied any longer. We each tightened our holds on the other and pulled our bodies hard against one another.

Now that's what I'm talking about.


Edward POV

I was aching for her, no other word for it. My whole body was charged from being in the same room as her, and the burning heat from our touch was just driving me plain crazy. She felt so right in my arms. There was nothing that I would choose to change about her, but she was just so damn skittish. One minute she was looking at me like she wanted to jump me there and then, and the next she looked terrified. I didn't want to rush her and do something that she wasn't ready for, but the mixed signals she sent were so hard to read. Leading her into the privacy of the changing area seemed to calm her, wrapping my arms loosely around her seemed to be welcomed, but she still didn't look wholly convinced that we were doing the right thing.

God damn it. If I had to walk away from her now, I would, but it would be the hardest thing I had ever done.

And then I felt her relax in my arms. The anxiety left her eyes, and her whole body seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. I gazed down into the swirling depths of her eyes and saw determination, desire and was that a hint of amusement?

What the hell? How is it that I can never tell what she is going to do next?

I pushed the idea that she was laughing at me away and settled on the more comforting thought that she was laughing with me. But all thoughts of laughter fled as I soaked in the heat and the touch and the need. I wanted to be closer to this woman more than I wanted anything else in the world right now. The heat, the magic, the whatever the hell it was that had been building between us for hours reached flash point. For a second, I saw it in her, too… ha, read you loud and clear this time… and then we each reacted. I tightened my arms around her waist and pulled her to me with a force I just couldn't stop myself from using. I just needed to feel her so much.

Everywhere we touched was electric, and the places we were touching were pretty amazing. Waist to hip, we were pressed together. My arms gripped her slim waist tightly as I felt her arms clasp around mine and pull us tighter still. I gripped her legs between mine as she somehow settled between them, mentally gritting my teeth and hanging on to my control for dear life. The tormenting pressure behind my zip as my excited body was pressed hard against the flat plains of her stomach scared the shit out of me. Would it be too much? Would she recoil at the evidence of just how desperately and how physically I wanted her?

Keep still. Don't grind against her.




But she made no sound or movement that indicated that she could even feel the rock hard problem threatening to push his way free out of the top of my trousers. No moan, no wriggle, nothing. I was at once relieved and at the same time pissed; he was there because of her after all. But I pushed the decidedly un-gentlemanly thoughts away, hung on to my resolve not to do anything to send her running and enjoyed, thoroughly, the feel of her warm, pliant body in my arms.

It was bliss. It was heaven. And yet, despite my best intentions, I wanted more. Wanted to feel more of her.

Greedy bastard.

Too damn right.

She was here with me at last. The long afternoon of torment was over, and finally, I had her in my arms. I was going to savour every last bit of this, and damn if I wasn't going to make sure she enjoyed it, too. I moved a hand slowly up the long flowing length of her back, cursing the few thin layers of fabric between my hand and her skin for existing, but savouring the feel of her softness beneath the layers of clothes all the same. My hand reached her shoulders, and I pressed between them, coaxing the full length of her body hard against mine so that… oh thank you, God… her soft breasts crushed against my chest. Warmth, softness, comfort, need. It all whirled around me, giving me so much to process, to try and control yet enjoy, to memorise and sink into. The last time we had been this close, we had been wearing so many layers of clothes and coats it had been hard to feel her, but, oh fuck, was I feeling her now.

She feels so good. God, I wish I knew if she was feeling it, too.

As if in response to my fervent wishes, she moaned and moved an arm up to press between my shoulders, too, pulling herself tight against me. I felt a flash of primal triumph that I seemed to be doing this right.

Control, remember. Control.

We hadn't taken our eyes off each other, and I saw a raw hunger burn in the depths of hers that matched mine, and it made my heart stutter and the part of my body that I was gentlemanly trying to ignore throb demandingly. I had to kiss her, had to feel and taste that delectable moist warmth again.

Manfully repressing the urge to take, take, take, I bent down and instead pressed my lips softly to hers just as she reached up and pressed her lips to mine. God, this woman was so perfect for me. Unable to stop myself, I greedily swept the line of her lips with my tongue, and my knees nearly buckled when she opened her mouth and boldly met my tongue with hers.

Control. Cont… oh fuck it.

The first time we had kissed, it had been amazing, but this time was even better. The sensations, the power, made my thoughts stutter to a halt and my instincts surge forward. I was unable to think about anything other than the hot press of Bella's lips against mine, the erotic warmth of her mouth and the sensual slide of tongue on tongue. Her kiss bewitched me completely.

Feeling overwhelmed with need now that I had let loose the grip I had been just about holding on myself, I moaned into her and pulled her closer still, deepening the kiss. Her silken hair all tied up in a bunch at the back of her head became wound through my fingers as I kneaded and caressed every inch of her shoulders and back that I could reach, the textures I could feel with my fingertips and palms adding to the delicious feeling of her against me.

I needed her closer. My other hand moved down below her waist, following the contours of her spine until it was resting right at the top of the delicious swell of her backside, and I pulled her in to me tighter still, adjusting my stance so that she settled even further into my hips. I growled deep in my chest at the feel of her rubbing against my skin where the stupid damn shirt was still open, the buttons on her firmly closed shirt taunting me.

I'm half undressed, and it's still too many clothes.

I was pulled back to the here and now by the sound of her moaning into my mouth and the feel of her moving against me. Though she never took her mouth from mine or stopped the exploration of my back that her thorough hands were making, she rocked her lower body fractionally against mine, against my poor dick, and I could have wept at the mix of both relief and agony. I was pretty sure he was weeping anyway. I moved against her carefully in return, relishing the excruciating fiery friction that we were generating between us.

This new sensory onslaught was too much to endure. Unable to hold back, I groaned and relinquished the contact with her delight of a mouth, throwing my head back and gasping for air. I wished I had the words for how I felt, how she made me feel, but I couldn't articulate anything. I could only feel.

Forgetting where we were - who could think of things like that? - I tugged her against me, leaning my body back to gather as much touch, friction, heat between my hips as possible. The shift of her weight against me caused me to lose my balance and, unable to move my feet that were somehow tangled with hers, I fell back against the solid wood-panelled wall behind me, my shoulders and the back of my head crashing against it, propping us up in a semi-reclined stand. Her face was level with mine again, her chin kind of propped up on my chest, our lips coming to a rest pressed together.

Well, this is different.

They couldn't have written a scene like that if they'd tried.

God, she feels good lying on me like this.

Shut up with the selfish shit, you git.

Grasping at her hips in case she was about to fall… yeah, right… I jerked my head from hers, as far as I could anyway, what with being trapped between the wall and her lips. Bloody hell, had I bitten her? Crushed her? Hurt her? Desperate to see her reaction, I twisted my head to the side and frantically searched her face with my eyes and her body with my hands because no way was I letting go of her now.

Her eyes were wide, shocked by the sudden near accident, but full of... was that laughter? Oh, she thought this was funny, did she? Bloody hell, I thought I'd hurt her. Opening my mouth to tell her exactly how inappropriate humour was, I was stopped dead in my tracks by the gleam in her eye and the way she was now pressing down onto me. She must have been standing on tiptoe as she leaned against me and tried to correct her balance, causing her hips to do a sinful little shimmy that rubbed against me in the most wonderfully agonising way. I closed my eyes, let my head thump back against the wall again and hissed through my teeth at the feeling. It was too much, almost too much. Oh hell, do it again.

I licked my lips that felt suddenly parched. Her delicious taste was all over them, and I couldn't resist sucking my bottom lip into my mouth to taste her again. It was her turn to draw in a sharp intake of breath, and I opened my eyes to look down into her own darkened ones, dark with lust and gleaming with want. Her face was flushed, and because of our position, her breasts were still pressed hard against my chest, heaving hard. Of course it could have been because I had my arms wrapped tight around her or because she had hers wrapped tight around me. My own chest was heaving in time with hers, and somehow the synchronicity made me want her all the more.

She looked up at me with hungry eyes, her lips swollen and red from our interrupted kiss. I had never seen a more beautiful sight. I took a breath, preparing to tell her just that, when, on the other side of the rail, the sound of the door opening and footsteps entering the room made me freeze.

"Bella?" asked Jessica's voice, sounding very close, though she must have still been by the door. My eyes locked to Bella's wide shocked ones as her body froze in my arms. It dawned on me, just a bit belatedly I had to admit, that Bella's hands were trapped between the wall and my shoulders. She couldn't move away because my weight was holding her in place. And there was no way that I could stand up straight because Bella's weight was pressing me into the wall at an impossible angle. Untangling ourselves quietly and discreetly was just not an option. I watched in fascination as the same realisation dawned on Bella's face, and I held my breath waiting to see what she would do.

Jessica's footsteps got louder as she walked further into the echoing room. Silently, Bella started tugging unsuccessfully at her arms and, at the same time, feeling around with her toes, trying to get a firm grip on the floor. The whole effort just pressed her writhing body more firmly into mine, making my eyes water with the effort not to groan in sexual frustration or laugh out loud at the whole sodding situation. I bit my lip, hard, as she brought her leg up painfully between my legs then rolled enticingly against my straining dick with her hip. Surely this was too much to expect any man to endure? I closed my eyes, pressed my head back against the wall behind me and suffered in silence.

Oh fuck, my poor balls!

How the hell did I get myself into this?

Emmett will die laughing if he ever finds out about this.

Oh god, more.

Bella seemed to realise that her efforts were causing me something of a problem because she stopped squirming abruptly and even held her breath. I opened one eye cautiously and peered down at her. Somehow she managed to look both contrite and frustrated at the same time. A loose tendril of her hair which had escaped its elastic prison, probably due to my running my fingers madly through it, floated down and brushed her cheek. She twisted her lips to the side and huffed at it.

I had never seen anything so adorable in my life.

Adorable? Really?

Shut up.

Listening to Jessica's footsteps as they got to what I guessed was about the middle of the room, I wanted to laugh out loud at the ridiculous position we had got ourselves into. Then I wanted to laugh at the thought that this was a 'position.' I rolled my eyes at my adolescent humour, and incredibly I saw Bella's lips twitch in response, and she compressed them together to hold back a laugh. The mirth in Bella's eyes was nearly enough for me to give us away. This was such a stupid thing to be happening. Bella's whole body shook as she valiantly held back her laughter, and she pressed her face into my shoulder to help keep her silence. I hugged her tight to me and shook my head at the fates.

Slowly, as if drawn against her will, Bella turned her head and looked at the clothing hanging on the rail behind her. I followed her movement, puzzled as to why she would want to gaze at the suits and coats now. I let my eyes search the hanging clothes, but was drawn to movement. Movement from between the clothes. I leaned to the right a bit more and had a perfect narrow view of Jessica placing some papers down on the table and then turning away again.

I could feel the heat of Bella's blush through the thin fabric of my shirt. What was she so embarrassed about? She just wanted to see who was in the room, right? Though how she had known that she would be able to see was beyond me. Unless…

Catching Bella's incredibly guilty looking eyes, I gave her a knowing frown, which was kind of ruined by the fact that I couldn't stop grinning, too. The little sneak. She knew she would be able to see out because she knew that you could see in. When Jessica left, we were definitely going to discuss this! I couldn't wait to see her try and talk her way out of this one.

Then maybe we could pick up where we had left off.


A/N: * Dressing Ring information.

A Dressing Ring is a piercing through the end of the penis. It is reputed that Beau Brummel (1778 – 1840) used the ring to reduce the appearance of his "manly endowments." In the Regency period, he started the fashion for ultra-tight trousers, and the penis needed to be held against the thigh to one side or the other so as not to create an unsightly bulge. To accomplish this, some men (including Beau) had their penis pierced to allow it to be held by a hook on the inside of the trousers. This piercing was called a Dressing Ring at the time because tailors would ask if a gentleman dressed to the left or the right and tailor the trousers accordingly. Tailors to this day will ask if you dress to the left or right, (but to allow a little more room for the well-endowed, not because they think you have a piercing!)

The piercing later became known as a Prince Albert because, prior to his marriage to Queen Victoria, Prince Albert had the piercing done so as not to embarrass the Queen with his fashionably tight trousers. This particular piercing is still known as a Prince Albert today. (This all may actually be anecdotal, but it does at least make for interesting research!)

Thanks for reading and just to let you know, reviews make me write the next chapter faster!