Story Name: Beautiful Strangers

Penname: theswandive

Rating: M

Genre: Romance

Pairing: E/B

Total Word Count: 6,219

Summary: "The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely." (Carl Jung) Bella Swan would have to agree, because she's done it.

Leasing her workspace on the west side of the city had its pros and cons. Bella loved the high ceilings, wood beams, and exposed brick. Most of all, she loved the abundance of light that shone through the large windows that spanned three walls. It didn't hurt that the price per square foot was dirt cheap, allowing for a much larger space than she needed.

However cheap, unfortunately the neighborhood was mostly industrial. The streets were lined with meat packing plants, paper mills, and abandoned parking structures. This proved difficult, considering Bella's only option for getting from point A to point B was public transportation. The two trains and six-block walk weren't a terrible commute – in nice weather, but we're talking about Chicago, and "nice weather" was a rarity.

She wasn't going to complain too much though. She'd never been more satisfied with her art, and her head had never been clearer. She was a strong, independent woman, and she was living her dream.

Still, sometimes she berated herself for not making more of an effort to meet people, or to date, but she was nervous. What if she wasn't truly ready, and she ended up sad and lonely again?

The difference between now and then was that she was knew she didn't need another person to be happy, because she had no one, and still felt joy in life.

For all of that, the long commute between her small studio on the north side and her amazing loft space on the far west side had started to weigh on her. She needed some entertainment. Sure, she had an iPod or a book to read, but those things only pacified her for a short time. Now, people watching, that was entertaining.

In her old life, she'd never considered watching people because it would make her vulnerable if she were caught, it would put her on the spot. For most of her life, Bella walked around with her head down, never making eye contact, and desperately trying to blend in with the crowd. If no one noticed her, then they couldn't judge her.

Those days were over. This was the new and improved Bella Swan. She didn't give a shit what anyone thought.

Each day, Bella found herself fascinated by the plethora of unique faces, various body types, styles, and individual characteristics of those around her. She analyzed their relationships with other people, and tried to figure out who they were or who they were trying to be. At first it wasn't difficult to watch them interact, laugh with their friends, and whisper secrets in each other's ear. Eventually, however, it became harder to always watch and never participate.

She'd left a life behind her that held long friendships and inside jokes that made you laugh until your stomach hurt. It was also a life that held deep sadness, depression and constantly feeling inadequate. She was perpetually the third wheel.

Bella wanted a new life, with new rules, and people who accepted her for who she was, no matter what she looked like. Unfortunately, this decision left her completely alone.

She couldn't kick the habit though, no matter how much it made her heart hurt that she was isolated in this bustling metropolis. Besides a random chat with a neighbor, or a wrong number, she barely talked to anyone most of the day, most of the time.

So she watched them, analyzed them, and missed them when they weren't around. Sometimes for fun Bella would make up scenarios in her head. She'd pretend that the woman standing next to her, dressed all in black was an undercover super hero - even though it was highly unlikely, the idea made her chuckle under her breath.

Therefore, you can understand why Bella was so easily able to recognize someone new. If she were being forthcoming, the fact that her stomach flip-flopped at the sight of him was the real reason he stuck out. This beautiful stranger had the same exact schedule as she did. It was uncanny how he was always there a minute or two after her. He always stood about five feet away from her, never more, and never less. It was making her insane. No matter how much she openly stared, she'd never caught his eye. They'd never exchanged pleasantries, or held a conversation, not that she really wanted to. Most likely she'd be mortified and say something stupid. She couldn't think of anything worthwhile to say to him anyway.

So she settled for drooling over his strong jaw line, his tousled hair, and blue-green eyes at every chance.

Bella knew she was being ridiculous, crushing on this random guy, but what's life without a few simple pleasures? She would allow herself this one. Who knew if they'd ever speak, or if maybe one day he'd simply stop showing up. Whatever was meant to happen, or not happen, Bella was determined to enjoy the view each morning and each evening, even if it was a bit of fantasy.


It was Friday, which to Bella was no different than any other day. She didn't consider what she did all day a job. However, that wasn't the case for the rest of the working world. On Friday evenings, commuters were extra cranky. You would think they'd have lightened up with it being the end of the workweek. Instead, it was quite the opposite.

Bella was standing in her usual spot, leaning against the cement post while she watched. In the midst of ogling the sexy stranger, she heard a man yelling. Her head snapped in his direction. His arms were flailing and his briefcase was coming dangerously close to the heads of several innocent bystanders.

"Goddammit! That's the third packed train! Why the fuck can't the CTA get their shit together? I pay taxes, for Christ's sake!" he yelled during this extremely unattractive hissy fit.

Bella accidentally let a laugh escape and shook her head at this man's ridiculous behavior. Apparently her sweet little laugh caught the attention of the person to her right.

"That guy needs to have his head examined," he said.

Bella's heart rocketed to her throat and her mouth went dry. She slowly turned her head in his direction.

She couldn't believe he'd spoken to her.

She had never been more nervous in her life, but this was her opportunity to make a friend - an acquaintance even. In a span of about three seconds, Bella decided to go for it.

"Hey, he pays his taxes, Goddammit," she quipped at the stranger.

At her answer, his beautiful face fell a little. "Oh, uh…yeah I guess." He raised his eyebrows awkwardly and gave her a tight smile.

"I'm kidding!" she said hastily, trying to revive his real smile.

"I knew that." He shoved his hands his pockets and attempted to mask his embarrassment.

"No you didn't," Bella teased him. She liked the sweet pout of his lips.

"Alright, fine. I didn't." He admits this easily because the innocence in her deep brown eyes won't let him lie.

"I know," she says emphatically and winks. What has gotten into her, she wonders. Bella feels brave. Brave feels good.

At this, the stranger smiles brightly and gives Bella a very unsubtle once-over that sends her reeling.

"I'm Edward," he says, his eyes never leaving hers. She shakes his hand and the heat from his palm surges through her like lightning through her veins. She brushes away the images of his hands on other parts of her body, and focuses on the fact that he sounds nervous.

She wonders why.

"I'm Bella. Nice to meet you, too." Several trains have passed them by. They both pretend not to notice.

Edward can't believe he's finally worked up the courage to talk to the beautiful stranger; the one with the kind eyes and the body that he dreams about having beneath him.

A sliver of awkward silence takes the place of their banter until Edward takes a deep breath and blurts, "This is not a line. I swear. Okay, it's kind of a line, but I don't mean for it to be." He lowers his head and shakes it back and forth. He mumbles something under his breath that Bella doesn't catch. When he lifts his head again, he says, "Would you like to have a drink with me?" And it's not so nervous this time.

Edward hates that he can't be smooth. He's wanted to talk to her for months, but could never find the courage. He just can't take another day of watching her walk away.

Bella is blown to bits. Her heart has exploded in her chest. She's positive she's dreaming. Edward - the Edward with the pouty lips, the ocean eyes, and the light brown hair with golden highlights that she hopes are natural – that Edward, just asked her to go have a drink.

She's going to go ahead and admit to herself that this man makes her feel things she didn't know she could feel, just by speaking. And there's no way in hell she'd ever say no to him.

"Um, sure. You mean, now?" She fiddles with the handle of her bag, not knowing where to look or what to do. She's never been more conscious of every inch of her skin.

He laughs lightly. "Yes, now, if that's okay. I mean, if you're busy…" He runs his fingers through his hair, tugging at it. It makes him feel less anxious.

She cuts him off. "No. Now's good. Lead the way?" Her cheeks hurt from smiling so much.

"Right. Uh, okay. It's just around the corner."

Edward points his thumb in the direction of the street below them and Bella nods in agreement. He leads and she happily follows. She watches the way his body moves, memorizing the width of his shoulders and the bend of his knees. Not until he spoke to her did she realize that her simple crush had become so much more.

She reminds herself that she barely knows him, and then she remembers that she doesn't care.

Bella compiles the things she knew about him before they officially met, and is very happy with her list. Based on those few things, she's determined that he's patient and kind to others, he smells incredible, and he's always smiling. Her favorite item is that he's always bobbing his head to whatever song he's listening to. She thinks that's adorable.

Now that he's touched her with his magical hands, and she's heard his sexy voice, Bella will add those to the list of things that make her really, really like Edward.

They end up at a dimly lit piano bar at the corner of Clark and LaSalle. Bella never goes to these places, because she'd never go alone. Edward takes her hand and ushers her to a table for two in the corner and pulls out her chair. Bella adds chivalry to her list – a list that's only getting better. They make small talk; it's awkward but fun. Bella has three glasses of wine and Edward has had just as many beers. They feel lightheaded and lighthearted. Neither wants to leave first.

Edward likes making her laugh, the way she throws her head back when something strikes her as particularly funny, delights him. She's constantly running her fingers through her hair and he has to stop himself a few times from pushing his own fingers through the thick dark strands.

"So what do you do?" Edward asks, even though he already knows the answer.

Bella ponders this question. So far he's extracted every bit of information he could with regard to her childhood, her years at college, and now he's on to her current profession. She still knows nothing about him, because he won't stop asking questions.

"I'm an artist, and that's all I'm telling you until you tell me something about yourself. What do you do?"

"A little of this, and a little of that."

"Are you in the mob?" she asks, eyeing him skeptically.

He laughs loudly, garnering the attention of the other couples around them. In the privacy of her mind, Bella is embarrassed by the term "couple", knowing she shouldn't be thinking that way.

"No, Bella. I'm not in the mob. I wish I were in the mob. That would be awesome."

"Yeah, because killing people is just so awesome," Bella says sarcastically, rolling her eyes.

"Don't do that. It messes up your pretty face," he says quietly.

She has no idea what to say next.

Edward doesn't either.

He thinks hard about what he really wants to say now, afraid he'll scare her away, but feels strongly that he should be honest.

"I have to something to tell you."

Bella is apprehensive, and rightly so. No one likes to hear that. "Alright. Go ahead," she prompts.

He reaches across the table and lays his warm hand over hers. "I've been following you."

Bella pulls her hand away and her first inclination is to take off. It figures that Mr. Sexy Pants would end up being a freak, but she's intrigued. Deep down she knows he's probably harmless, it's written in his features.

"You have about five minutes to explain yourself before I freak out. Annnddd go."

Edward has no idea where to begin. He starts and then stumbles, his words becoming a jumbled mess. "I…" he says, then shakes his head. "I own a building. I...I…saw you walking out of it. A few months ago - you were wearing a blue dress that sort of wrapped around you. You looked so pretty. I asked about you at the leasing office. They told me your name and ever since then I've been keeping an eye on you. You know, you shouldn't be walking through that neighborhood alone at night. It's not safe." He looks down at his hands. "I was only trying to look out for you."

She sort of believes him and sort of doesn't. More importantly, she thinks it will really, really suck if he's a psycho-stalker.

No, what's most important is her safety. Above all else, Bella is a smart girl.

"Well, it was nice meeting you, Edward. Please leave me alone forever. I have to go now," she says pleasantly, grabs her bag and starts to get up from the table.

Edward jumps up from his seat, knocking his chair over and making a scene. "Please, Bella. Don't go. I'm sorry. I need you to stay. That sounded creepy, didn't it? Please, just hear me out."

Everyone around them is watching and listening.

"What's your deal," Bella hissed, "do you like tricking women like this? Bust out the charm, get them to agree to a drink, and then drag them to your basement so you can make yourself a new skin suit?"

He looks really offended. "Gross. No! I swear to you. When I saw you that day, you walked right past me, you stared up into the sky and smiled. You made my head spin. I just had to know you, but I'm a coward and I was afraid to approach you for the longest time. I don't know what came over me today, but I somehow found the courage. I swear I'm telling the truth."

Bella is still incredibly suspicious. This sort of thing has never happened to her before. People – more specifically – men, don't approach her like this. She's barely able to make heads or tails of his story. She doesn't know what to believe.

"I don't know. This is really weird. I don't trust you," she tells him bluntly.

He lowers his voice and steps a little closer. She doesn't back away. "So far, have I done anything to hurt you?"

His eyes make it hard for her to comprehend English.

"No, I guess not."

The beer on his breath and the scent of his cologne make it difficult for her to make the right decisions.

"Good. Now, do you think I want to hurt you?"

She just shakes her head. No, she doesn't think that at all.

"The last thing in the world I would ever want is to harm you, Bella. All I want is to get to know you. I promise."

Bella needs to think about this and she can't in this cramped space. "I'm kind of done being stared at. Can we take this outside, on to a public street where people can save me if you try to kill me?"

He sighs. He wonders how else he can get her to understand. "Of course," he says and tries to smile through his worry. She's going to bolt as soon as they step foot on the sidewalk. He's sure of it.

When they've found a corner of the sidewalk where they can talk openly, Edward strays off topic and asks her why she seems so baffled by his attention.

She didn't think he noticed, but he did.

"Uh, why do you think?" Bella asks, with an awkward laugh, sweeping her hand along her body to prove her point.

"Men are intimidated by you?" He stares at her, confused. He shoves his hands back in his pockets to avoid reaching for her waist.

She's pretty sure that he's being serious, and she can't believe it.

She whispers her answer, not wanting anyone else to hear something so private. "No, Edward. Men don't ask me out because I'm…well…not skinny. Know what I'm saying? They don't think this body is beautiful."

"That's ridiculous. You're absolutely gorgeous. You know that, right?" The serious face is in full effect.

"I don't know about gorgeous," she says, smiling sheepishly. "But yeah, I like myself. I'm happy with the way I am. The problem is, not everyone else has the same opinion. Especially guys."

Bella is mortified that they're talking about her body so openly. The fact that she even has to have this conversation is maddening. She figures Edward is either incredibly dense to not understand this, or he's been made specifically for her and dropped in her lap.

The only thing Edward can think of to say is incredibly cheesy, but he goes for it anyway. "Speaking as a guy, my opinion is that you're the most beautiful creature I've ever laid my eyes on and I've not been able to stop thinking about what it would be like to kiss you."

She blushes - like, ridiculously blushes.

If he's for real, then what she's about to say next shouldn't be a problem for him, she decides. "Then kiss me."

Edward is floored. He wants nothing more. He's dreamed of it so many times. "Okay," he says on a breath and leans towards her.

She stands stock still, then their noses meet, their eyes close, and their lips join. She tentatively pushes her lips against his. Edward pushes right back. This kiss is soft and sweet, but could easily get out of control and Bella is the first to pull away.

"I can't believe I just did that."

"What?" he asks.

"I've never just kissed a stranger. Especially one who's been stalking me like a creep."

Edward wonders if he'll ever be able to live that down. "I'm really sorry about the stalking. It wasn't my intention. I'm a chicken shit, that's why it took me so long to say anything to you."

She nods and looks into his eyes. She tries to find the answer there. "How do I know if you're real?"

Her body is on fire and someone else, some sort of alter ego, has taken over her brain. All she can think about is groping him.

"Kiss me again, and I'll prove it to you."

And he does.

He kisses her many more times, until a passerby clears his throat and they break apart, deciding to leave the deserted downtown neighborhood.

She kisses him in the cab they agree to share, even though they live on opposite sides of town. When Bella realizes he shouldn't even be taking the same train that she does every day she swats his arm and teases that she should call the cops.

When they arrive at Bella's apartment building Edward pays the cab driver and gets out too. Bella raises her eyebrow in question.

"What? Aren't you going to invite me in?" Edward asks, feigning innocence.

"Maybe," she teases him even more.

He presses her against the front door of her building and kisses her already swollen lips. His hands are dying to touch her everywhere, anywhere.

It seems that whatever this thing is that they've started - won't be stopped.

"May I?" he breathes against her neck as his hands travel up the side of thighs. She nods in agreement.

Her breaths are heavy. She's panting on her doorstep. "Let's go inside. We're going to get arrested out here."

Edward laughs against her hair and releases her. Bella turns to unlock the door and looks behind her because she can feel his eyes burning through her.

He knows he's been totally busted ogling her ass, but he couldn't help himself. Every part of her is enticing him and he wants to feel more of her, see all of her.

Once they're inside her tiny studio, Bella loses her inhibitions and gives Edward a taste of his own medicine. She pushes him against the wall, crushing her ample chest against his, and capturing his mouth with her own. When she feels the hardness against her thigh it makes her wet. He grips her hips, and then her pulls her closer to him, sliding his hands down to the hem of her skirt and slipping them underneath.

Edward moans at the feel of her curves, her voluptuous ass and soft skin. There's no way he could ever get enough. His fingers explore the crease between her thigh and ass cheek, wondering how bold he can be.

For her, this is too much, too fast. Bella pulls away.

"Not tonight. I can't have sex with you tonight, Edward. I just…I don't know you, really. I feel weird about doing…that…like that. I'm sorry."

Of course it's too much. He's disappointed but only in himself for not realizing that she might feel that way. "Don't apologize. I totally understand. Do you want me to leave?" He desperately hopes she'll say no.

"No! No. Don't leave. You can stay. Sleep here, if you want?"

All the awkwardness of a first date or a first meeting, whatever you want to call it, has returned and Bella hates it. She should be afraid of him, not asking him to stay, right? Is she that hard up for company that she'll invite a possible serial killer over for a slumber party? These are the questions she asks herself, but refuses to answer.

"I'd love to," he says, relieved that he has more time with her - he wants a shit load more time with her, but that's a topic for another day. Tonight he's exhausted and wants to sleep, next to her, of course.

They snuggle up together in Bella's extremely comfortable bed. He likes the way she feels against him, and she likes how safe she feels with him wrapped around her. Before falling asleep, Edward struggles to keep a certain part of himself under control, and for the most part he does. He doesn't want to make her feel uncomfortable.

Unbeknownst to Edward, Bella has never been more comfortable in her entire life. Being held while she sleeps is something she will need more of, in the days to come.

Their sleep is peaceful and they each dream of what they wish to do to the other.

Bella wakes up aching.

She stretches and groans. Then she remembers. There's a man behind her with his arm wrapped around her waist. It's the beautiful stranger.

She tries not to move too much, attempting to get out of bed without waking him, but she has no such luck. Before she gets one foot off the mattress he secures his arm around her, pulling her tighter against him. He's warm and soft. Except for where he's not.

The movement is involuntary; she can do nothing to stop herself from rubbing her bottom against him. His moan sends sparks flying through her belly.

Edward knows it feels good, but he's not completely awake yet, therefore he can't be held responsible for his actions. Like when his hand finds its way into Bella's underwear. When she feels his hand slip beneath the waistband she bucks against him, pressing her ass harder against his erection. They moan together. It's all just too much. Bella needs relief, and you better believe, so does Edward.

He kisses her neck and she runs her fingers through his hair. He slides his fingers inside her and she props her leg up on his bent knee. They writhe together, forgetting about the world outside the front door. Too soon, he removes his hand from her underwear, but then rolls Bella onto her back, and in a graceful move straddles her torso. She wants him lower but revels in the weight of him. Edward needs to know that this okay before he goes any further.

"Last night you said it was too much. I don't want to pressure you. Are you sure?" he asks.

"Yes, absolutely yes." He held her all night. That changes things for her.

Edward kisses her, not caring about morning breath in the least. He deepens the kiss and the world rights itself as their tongues mingle together. The scruff of his beard scratches her face in the most delicious way. She runs her hands up and down the length of his back, alternating between lightly scratching and soft caresses. Edward angles his body so that he can lie between her spread legs. He pushes himself against her, rocking back and forth, relentlessly teasing. As they kiss, his hands explore the soft supple skin of her bare thighs and calves. He runs his hands under her t-shirt.

She's a little unsure about him seeing her naked in broad daylight, so she decides to leave her t-shirt on. She'll look sexier that way.

He stops. "Bella, why do you keep pushing your shirt back down? I want this off of you."


"What? Why?"

"I want to leave it on."

He leans down and whispers into her ear. "But Bella, if you have a shirt on how am I going to lick, and bite, and suck your nipples? Hmm?"

She moans and nods. "Good point." She's panting as he pulls the shirt over her head revealing her soft, plump breasts. Her pink nipples call to him and he does exactly what he said he would do.

He licks. He bites. He sucks. Over, and over again.

Bella feels expertly tortured, and still she wants more. She wants to feel his skin against hers. She wants him inside her.

He wants so badly to fuck her and to make love at the same time.

"Please, Edward. Please. I can't take it," she begs him for anything he'll give.

"When you beg me like that there's no way for me to say no." Edward sits back on his knees and slowly pulls off Bella's remaining clothing. She's shy but willing. He slips off his boxer shorts and throws them to the side. He doesn't plan on leaving this bed anytime soon.

"God, you're so beautiful, Bella. So incredibly beautiful." Edward explores her ankles and her calves, her knees and then her thighs. Bella watches him explore her, writhing with an unbearable ache between her legs.

She spreads them for him and he crawls over her, hovering. He gives her a sweet kiss, and then slips inside her. Her breath catches, and he kisses her harder this time, grunting with each thrust. Neither of them knew it could feel this good. She never wants it to end. Edward sets a slow pace and she holds him close to her, their bodies truly becoming one being.

They move together like it's always been this way. He's the salve to her wound; she's the cure for his ache. Edward wants to say so many things that it's way too early to say, so instead he whispers sweet nothings in her ear to distract himself from blurting out his adoration and scaring the shit out of her.

The measured thrusts and steady pace are tantalizing, but unsurprisingly they're both yearning for something rougher.

Bella is the first to speak up. "Faster."

He doesn't hesitate, and speeds up his pace. Being on top of her is perfect, but Edward wants to try something else, so he can really feel her. "Sit up, Bella," he says, pulling her with him.

He sits on his knees and she straddles him. She begins to roll her hips, rubbing herself against his erection. Edward grabs a handful of each ass cheek and helps her along the way. It feels so incredibly good for both of them; they momentarily forget the reason why they've switched positions in the first place. When Bella buries her face in his neck and licks him in the spot right under his ear, he remembers.

He reaches between them, aligning their bodies, and once again he's buried deep. Wet, tight and warm. This is all he can focus on. Bella moans and whimpers at the new angle, as he pushes deep inside her. They fight each other for the upper hand. She wants to ride him and he wants to pound into her.

"Do you trust me?" he asks, breathless.

"I think I do," she answers him.

"Let go of me, and lean back."

She does as he says, arching her back, and supporting herself with her forearms. Edward splays one hand against the small of her back, and the other across her soft stomach. Then does what he's been dying to do. He fucks her so, so hard. Bella cries out for more. She begs for it. Harder. Faster. She can't stop saying it.

The image of her breasts bouncing, his cock hammering into her, and her head thrown back in ecstasy will be forever seared into his mind's eye. He'll never ever have to watch porn again.

"It feels so good, so, so, good," Bella whispers. She's never been a sex-talker, but she had to tell him how amazing he was making her feel. As he slips in and out of her, the most delicious tingling begins deep inside her belly. Bella can't believe he's about to make her come. No man has ever done that before.

"I know, baby. You feel absolutely amazing," he says in return. He can't believe how tight she is, how wet she is for him. A lump forms in his throat, being with her this way, overwhelming him. He's been on the verge of exploding for a few minutes now and doubts he can hold off any longer. He grasps her hips and pulls her further up onto his lap. She lets herself fall back onto the mattress and the new angle provides an amazing amount of friction and right in the perfect spot.

"Yes, yes, oh yes…" Bella begs for him to never stop. If he could manage it, he never would.

"I'm close, Bella. I'm so close," he warns. He thrust several more times inside her, hard and deep until she arches her back and freezes that way, exploding around him. She cries out with an unintelligible sting of profanities. Edward pulls out of her, and before he can take the lead Bella grasps his cock and pumps her hand up and down, helping to bring him to orgasm.

He hovers over her as she strokes him. They lock eyes and she pumps him faster. When he's close he squeezes his eyes closed and she knows he's going to explode. His cock engorges, he groans, and warm fluid sprays over her belly and her breasts. A few moments pass, and he collapses on top of her, not caring about the sticky mess they've made.

Bella wraps her arms and legs around him, securing him to her like a vice. Their chests heave, one after the other. It would be so easy to fall asleep this way.

When they've kissed for far too long, they decide to shower. This time Bella has no qualms about him seeing all of her. The fact that he can't keep his hands off of her definitely helps her feel more secure. He loves her body, and that makes two of them.

After clothes are changed and the bed has been re-made they snuggle up together again, both of them ready for more sleep.

"Can I ask you a question?" Edward says quietly, brushing her hair away from her neck, making room for his kisses.

"No, Edward, I'm not ready for round two. Yet," she wiggles against his front.

"Very funny. I'm being serious."

"Okay, serious. What is it?"

He pulls her closer to him, draping his arm across her chest. "Why didn't you want to take your shirt off?"

This is the last thing she wants him to ask her. That was a moment of weakness. She's better now.

She sighs. "I'm sorry about that. Old habits die hard, I guess."

"What does that mean?"

"It means that I used to be ashamed of my body. I used to hate it."

He kisses her neck, and then her hair. "Used to?"

"Yep. Used to," she said lightly. "It took a lot of hard work, and a lot of healing, but I've learned to love myself. I had to leave my old life behind me to do it, but it was worth it."

Edward's voice was quiet. "What did you leave?"

"My family, my friends - well, so-called friends. They never accepted me, they were always telling me how pretty I would be if I lost weight. They didn't realize how much it hurt me, but it did. I was always the third wheel. I never had a boyfriend or anything like that, so I always felt left out. It was a sad life."

"I'm sorry, Bella. You're right, that's a horrible way to live. Even your Mom and Dad were unsupportive? That's terrible." He wishes he could take back anything that ever hurt her and make it disappear, but he can't.

"My dad died a long time ago, but I knew he loved me no matter what. He always made me feel beautiful. My mom, well, she's another story. She's always been disappointed in my appearance. I guess she wanted a daughter that she had something in common with, and I never lived up to that."

Edward sighs, not knowing what to say. His family raised him differently. He sees beauty in everyone, especially this woman in his arms. He'll do whatever he has to so that one day she can make them her family too. Now that he has her, there's no way in hell he's going to let her go.

"I'm happy you left. I mean, it's awful that you had to go to those lengths to find a better life, but if you hadn't, then I'd have never found you. And that would have been a tragedy."

He gently pushes her onto her back and straddles her waist. The thin sheet they had covering them gets tangled and falls away, leaving Bella bare in front of him. She raises her arms above her head, leaving herself vulnerable and open for him. He sees the confidence in her face, knows she's been through hell to get there, and finds her more appealing than ever now.

She can't believe how amazing, and understanding this man is. He's heaven sent. He's perfect for her. She wants to keep him. Always.

Edward caresses her neck with the tips of his fingers, her collarbone, and her shoulders. His long index finger draws an imaginary line between her breasts and she shivers. He looks into her eyes and sees everything he's ever wanted. He's never believed in souls and fate, but there's no way he can deny it now. Bella and Edward are meant to be together.

"What are you smirking at?" she asks.

"Oh, nothing."

"Spill, or I get up and do the dishes."

"That's not fair."

"Those are your choices."

"You fight dirty."

"You're still not answering the question." She attempts to get up and he pushes her back down, bearing his entire weight on her, and nestling himself between her legs. He knows how to distract her.

"If you must know," he says, rolling his eyes. "I was thanking all those shmucks who didn't snatch you up for themselves."

"You're lying."

"I swear! That's what I was thinking."

Okay, so he's lying, but honestly, it's too early to tell her he wants her to move in, marry him, and have his children. It really is.

She shakes her head. He doesn't give her enough credit. She knows how men work.

"I still don't believe you. I know what's going through your head," Bella says, licking her lips, and gesturing to his lower half.

"Oh?" He's intrigued, and so is his dick.

"Crawl up here and I'll show you."

And she does.

The End.

A/N: Thank you a bajillion times over to HoochieMomma_ for her beta skillz and for making fun of my problems.

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