The Never Ever Happily Ever After Contest

Title: Moment in Time

Pen Name:

Characters: Edward and Bella

Word Count: 14182

Disclaimer: "Due to the nature of this contest, you may expect content such as character death, adultery, abuse, illegal activities including drug use and underage drinking, etc."

Rated M

SUMMARY: Time is eternal. It never stops, always passes. Sometimes, there is not enough and sometimes, time never heals. Entry For Never Ever Happily Ever After Contest.

She listens to the rain hit the window as she lies in bed waiting for the alarm to go off. The scratchy sheets and blank walls remind her she is home. Well, not home-his house, it's never really been hers. She rolls over and stares at the broad back on the other side of the bed. She reaches out and traces the simple tattoo that runs the length of his ribs. His skin doesn't flinch. Neither does hers. Turning back over to shut off the alarm, she scoots out of bed. She packed last night so she just needs coffee and a shower and she's ready to go. To Chicago this time. She loves the city. It's gritty and real in a way that gives her the energy that's missing from her life. Except it's February; it will probably be cold and snowy. But it doesn't matter, it's not here and at the moment, here is not where she wants to be.

The shower feels like needles against her skin. The water is either too hot or too cold, leaving her skin burned or blue. Never warm, never soothing, she's always parched. She's beginning to realize how unpleasant things are here and wonders why she's always just brushed it off without even thinking of trying to change things. Would it even make a difference if she tried?

He takes up so much space in her life and not in the right places, at least not any more. They made promises to themselves and each other, but now it's not enough. It was never enough really. She thinks he probably knows this too. Which one of them will blink first?

Rubbing his shoulder is not enough. He barely stirs. She leans over and kisses his forehead.

"Hey, I'm leaving now. I'll call you when I get there."

One of his eyes opens and he smiles. "Bell, have a safe trip." His sleepy smile stirs something inside her but it's very small and it's gone. He's asleep again and she wonders if he ever really woke up.

Once she's on the plane she doesn't give him another thought. It's too much and she needs to focus. She closes her eyes and wishes herself away.

She takes the train downtown and then cabs it to the hotel. She's stayed here a few times before. It's one of the nicer ones the company uses. It's big and modern and clean. It's on the lake and across the street from the river. There are tons of restaurants and shops nearby-plenty of things to distract herself with when she's not actually working.

She'd been unemployed for nearly a year when she was offered this job. It was pretty perfect for her: teaching instead of doing, problem solving with others instead of making her own mistakes. It was probably why she was so good at it. She'd made plenty of mistakes and learned to solve them. The only problem was it involved a lot of travel. San Francisco and Vancouver were mentioned during her interview. After much discussion and soul searching they-he and she-decided together that it might not be a bad thing, being on the road so much. And they needed the money. After accepting the job she realized she hadn't considered the Tulsa's and Springfield's and how much never being home would change her.

Her room is high and facing the river. She can see down Michigan Avenue if she bends her neck slightly. It's getting dark and and it's snowing lightly, like the sky is beginning to flake off like old paint. Her stomach growls, and she makes her way out before the weather gets too bad. There's a deli she remembers around the corner a few blocks down. When she gets there it's quite crowded .

The boy that takes her order smiles at her, and her cheeks warm. She thinks it must be from the cold outside. The boy packs up her food and double bags it for her. He smiles again, she nods and turns into the body that is waiting in line behind her. It's a thick wool coat that smells expensive and snowy. The hands that grip her shoulders are strong.

"I'm sorry," she mumbles hoping to make a quick escape, but the hands have not yet released her.

"No, my fault, I wasn't paying attention." Truth be told, he was standing so close, there was no way she could not have run into him. He was watching the snow melt, her hair curling slightly from the wetness left behind. It was a detail he never would have noticed before, ever. When she finally looks up at him her cheeks are rosy, from the cold he assumes. But she's quite...lovely. He doesn't ever remember using that word; it's something his mother would say, but it seems to fit.

"If I've mashed your food, I'd be happy to replace it?"

Her smile is shy, but her eyes are confident dark and deep and brown.

"It's okay. I think my food will survive. It's been carefully double bagged. But thank you for your offer though."

He opens his mouth, but no words come out. A throat clears behind them. Her eyes have not left his and he doesn't want to move. Her smile grows as she places a hand on his chest. He takes a deep breath, trying to say something, anything.

"Goodnight." And she's gone.

He watches as she leaves the store, hoping...Hoping what? He's married. How could he so easily feel the need to pursue her with no thoughts at all? He's never done that-been so disconnected from the rest of his life. It's as if it didn't even exist. It was so easy it scares him. He wants it to happen again.

He was beautiful and drew her in like a magnet. She could feel herself being pulled to him, his strong hands, inviting smile and soft voice. How could someone, how could anyone, have such an affect on her? She propels herself back to her room so quickly she 's barely cold when she gets there. She looks at herself in the mirror. Her cheeks are red. She's never reacted to someone like that before. She's reacted to others in the past, felt that tingle in her belly, but not like this. The feeling is so strong, it scares her, but not enough to keep her from hoping that somehow she sees him again.

After eating her sandwich, she settles in to work, to prepare herself for the next few days. But she's restless and distracted. His face keeps popping up in her mind, his voice in her ears. She can still feel the warmth of his hands on her shoulders. There's a bar upstairs with floor to ceiling windows and a view of the city. If she remembers right, the bartenders were nice. She changes into something more herself. Leggings, big wool sweater and her Uggs. They're like comfort food. She feels full and safe and warm. Grabbing her laptop bag, she makes her way to the elevator.

The bar is crowded like the deli. There must be a convention or something. She sees through the windows, the snow coming down harder. It's beautiful and she just wants to peek. She figures she'll hardly be noticed; everyone is engaged. There are so many conversations going on around her she can't make out any words. The din is almost overwhelming. She sneaks through the crowd finding an unoccupied corner and like the child she used to be, presses her nose up against the cold window and looks out across the night. The snow is thick but light, dancing across the sky. She can see the streetlights below, the river, tiny people walking. She could stand here forever. It's like watching the world inside a snow globe.

She feels someone close. There's a warmth that feels like the hands that held her earlier.

"It's amazing isn't it?"

And the soft voice.

She looks up at him and smiles; she can't help it. "It is certainly amazing." She turns her body towards him. He looks relaxed in his dark gray suit and loose tie, but not at home. It looks like he's dressed for a part he's playing.

"How did you find me?"

"Your hair. "

He reaches out to touch it. He's wanted to do this since he watched the snow melt and made it curl. He wants to see it curl around his fingers. She lets him do it. Her eyes are bright and her breath is shallow; he can feel it. He watches her watch him as he wraps her hair slowly around and around.

She sees the wedding ring. He sees the light dim from her eyes. He wants to reach down and pull off his ring and throw it into oblivion where the rest of his life goes when he is around her. Maybe it's time or maybe it's her... maybe it's something else. He's been away from home countless times and he's he never has, not once.

She reaches for his hand. Her fingers are cold from the from the window. He looks down and sees his right hand twisting and pulling at the ring on his left finger. He doesn't even know when he let go of her hair.

"Don't do that. It's not who you are." She feels so sure of what she is saying, the words come out of her like the truth.

"I mean you're married right? Please don't hide that from me."

She's solid and unafraid, knowing what she wants, knowing that she shouldn't, knowing that she will give him anything he asks for as long as he is honest with her.

He is taken by the sheer force of her, her strength, her openness. She doesn't know the power she possesses over him.

"I'm Edward."

She smiles and he watches as his name forms on her lips. He reaches for her hand as if to shake it. He really just wants to hold it, feel the weight of her hand in his. He grasps it and feels substance, reality. He is wrapping his fingers around something tangible, intangible.

He pulls her closer, but not so close. She looks up at him, her eyes just as affecting as they were earlier today.

"I'm Bella."

He feels as if he's been given a gift; a reprieve, like someone threw him a life vest he didn't know he needed, he didn't know he was drowning and now he is finally coming up for air. He breathes her in, like fresh air. Nothing stale, nothing given, nothing taken for granted.

If anyone had been watching they would see them standing there, staring, her hand in his. It would seem like an intrusion. The sound of Edward's name being called feels like one. He looks up to see someone approaching.

"I really need to mingle." He shakes his head, trying to clear it. He laughs to himself, as if it would really ever free him of her image.

"It's okay. There's a bar downstairs that's hopefully a bit quieter. I need to get some work done anyway." She squeezes his hand and feels his return. "It was nice meeting you."

He doesn't understand what is happening or why it is happening so fast. But it feels good and it doesn't feel wrong. He watches her as she leaves. He doesn't want this, leaving, to happen again.

She settles into a booth in the corner. It's quiet and casual. Slowly she sips the beer the bartender recommended and tries to relax. She's still bemused by what happened upstairs. Edward. She wants to go find him but she knows the decision has to be his. She has already given up, and given in. She suspects he feels the same surprise at the strength of their connection, but she doesn't know for sure. She needs to know they are on equal footing, both sliding away from something and slipping toward each other. That each of them are willing to trust each other and the force that surrounds them.

How long she's been sitting she's not sure. She's on her second beer, and her days are planned. She's emailed the people she will be working with to let them know what time she'll be arriving in the morning. She closes her eyes and thinks about the days ahead of her. She's done this all before. The few things that make it worthwhile are that someone she doesn't know will make her laugh, someone will smile at her. They will ask questions and she will explain. She will make a small difference, and that makes her happy.

But this time, for the first time, someone will touch her. Someone will intrigue her. He will stir something in her that has been dormant for a very long time. She knows this because he already has. With her eyes still closed she drifts. She thinks of nothing and everything and everything about him she knows, which is nothing and everything all at the same time. Except she knows that he smells like a man, the best kind of man. His hands are strong, his voice melts her every time she hears it, his eyes...possess her, in a way she has never been claimed before. She smiles, thinking about these very important things she knows, omitting the only fact she knows to be true.

The sound of two bottles being gently set down on her table causes her eyes to slowly open. She doesn't say a word as she watches him pull the chair out next to her and ease his body into it.

He looks up, catching her stare.

A subtle blush spreads across her cheeks and she looks down.

"What are you thinking about?"

She peeks up. His eyes are trained on her; they haven't moved. He is not afraid to look at her. He is wide open. To her.

"So, what are you thinking about?" The small smile that graces his face is almost bashful, and she finds it hard not to return the gesture.


His grin is slightly off center, but adds to everything he is and what she hopes to learn about him.

"I was thinking that I don't know anything about you."

As soon as she speaks the words, she wants to take them back. It doesn't matter; she knows all she needs to know. If this is going to work, however it's going to work, she needs to speak from her heart, what she knows to be true.

He starts to speak, but she interrupts him. "Edward, I don't need to know more than I do. I'd like to, but I already know what's important."

Her eyes are so sure, so strong and solid but her body betrays her as her hands shake. He fights the urge to hold them. But he needs to hear what she has to say without influencing her intention.

"What's important, Bella?" His voice is thick. He leans in on his elbows. He wants to be close enough to catch the words she is about to speak with as little air between them as possible.

She blows out a breath along with the words that will set them free. "I feel you." She doesn't know if they are the right words or if they even make any sense. She only knows those are the words inside her begging to come out.

He inhales slowly, wanting to taste the words mixed with his breath and swallow them whole. He reaches for her hand, soothing each finger, smoothing each one. He finally looks up at her face. He wants to touch that too. "I know." He whispers it softly so the words he just ingested won't escape.

She wants to grab his face and kiss him, hard and then soft and then deep. But not here, not in the bar, not in the bar.

They're eyes are locked. He reaches to touch, any part of her that he can reach, preferably her lips but pulls back. Not in the bar.

"Hey." Her voice is quiet. "Talk to me, tell me anything."

He reaches for his beer and drinks half of it before he starts to speak.

They talk about "normal things" as their hands wander across the table toward each other. His conference, her job, the weather. They are entwined, neither one really aware of what they are doing; it all feels so natural.

She traces the indentation of his skin on his finger where the ring used to be. "You took it off." His skin is pale there; he is still marked.

She needs to see his eyes, to gauge how he reacts towards her observation. She hopes he doesn't hide them and when she takes her gaze from his finger he is looking right at her.

"It didn't feel right. I'm not pretending, I'm giving in, to you. Right now, this is the only place I want to be." He's so sincere. He's so right there with her, right now. It is the only thing that isn't muddy.

The bartender knocks on their table to let them know he's closing up. They are the last ones left.

"702?" He traces the numbers on her door. "I'm up on ten." She pushes the door open and drops her laptop against the wall. She peeks over her shoulder and Edward is still holding the door wide open.

He's hesitant. "You know, you can come in?"

"I was thinking I'd go up; it's late. You need to get up early." He doesn't want to leave her, but he's unsure of anything other than not wanting to leave her again.

She takes his hand and pulls, a little, and the door closes behind them.

She's soft, her voice is so soft. "Hey, I'm not sure I'm ready for anything else but I'm not ready for you to leave." She can see his body relax. Into her he leans placing his hands on her shoulders. "I'm not ready either."

She presses her head against his chest, to his heart. She can hear it, strong and steady. She's afraid they'll never be ready to leave each other, this space they've created for each other. Maybe that's exactly what she wants, to be in this space, never leave.

His face is buried in her hair. She can feel him talking against her head. She has no idea what he's saying, so she pretends it's sweet, because that's easier. She turns her face up to his. "I have no idea what you just said. My hair was not communicating with my ears. It wanted all your words to itself; it's selfish that way."

The smile that cracks the solemness of his face is breathtaking. "Your hair and I were discussing the fact that it's late and you should get ready for bed. I think it agrees with me." She's looking at him like, she doesn't even know. They can't stop smiling.

She eyes him carefully sensing a playfulness between them that is new. But everything between them is new and unknown. "But if I get ready for bed, you'll leave."

"If you get ready for bed, we'll talk and then we'll sleep."

"Sleep? We can do that, together?"

"We can try?" He wants to try. He doesn't want to go back to his room alone and be up all night thinking about her. He'd rather lie awake all night, by her side, close enough to hear her breathe.

When she comes out of the bathroom she sees him lying on the bed, his legs crossed at his ankles, his shoes on the floor. He's looking at one of the books she brought along to kill the time she no longer has to kill. She has him to occupy her. His jacket is folded across the chair, his tie draped over it. His shirt is unbuttoned revealing a white tee shirt underneath. He looks relaxed, comfortable, like someone she already knows.

She tosses her clothes in the top dresser drawer. She can feel his eyes. She looks up and meets them. She's standing in front of the mirror in her ratty flannel pajama pants and old thermal tee shirt. It may have a hole in it somewhere by the bottom of her breast. She watches his eyes in the mirror as they move across her body. Yup, that's where it is.

"Eyes up here buddy." She points to her eyes. "Talk and sleep, that's the plan, remember?"

He leans over and holds the blankets open for her to crawl under. He watches her cross the floor trying to keep his eyes on hers and not the slip of flesh that's showing through the small tear in her shirt or the one between her flannel pants and thermal top.

"Nice try." She climbs in under the covers and snuggles into her pillow. He tucks the covers around her and she wiggles in comfy and soft.

"Can I help it if I find rustic winter attire incredible sexy?"


He rolls over on his side to face her. He searches her eyes for the strength and steadiness he's found there before. He's nervous, and he wasn't a moment ago. "Bella, I've never felt anything like this." He motions between the two of them. "Let alone acted on it, I mean, I don't go around looking for women, I've never...Damn." Why the words I've never cheated on my wife before are so difficult to say, he's not sure. Maybe it's the cheated, but he doesn't feel like he is. Maybe it's the wife, but he doesn't feel like she is, not anymore, not for a long time, if ever, when he thinks about it.

Her eyes are still with him, open wide and waiting, so patient. He takes a deep breath. "I'm sorry."

She touches him, his arm, his hand, and holds on. "No apologies, Edward, just tell me."

He takes a deep breath. "I haven't been married that long, a few years. It probably shouldn't have ever happened. But I don't think I accepted that until I met you."

Her hand finds his face, his hand hers. "You're not happy are you? I'm so sorry."

"Bella, at the moment, I am very happy." He kisses her palm and holds on.

She knows now she needs to tell him, about him. That she lives with someone. He needs to know they are on shared soil. She needs to know if it will change how he feels about her, if it will change everything that hasn't happened yet.

"Edward, I have to tell you something." She moves closer to him, she needs to be closer. She needs to be able to feel his body, see his face as he reacts. She searches his eyes for an anchor. She can see he already knows. "You're married?" He whispers. He seems surprised, but he doesn't pull away from her and his body doesn't tense.

"No, not exactly."

"You're..." She puts her fingers over his lips. "Let me tell you, please?"

"Okay" His voice is rough and low and very quiet.

"I live with someone. We're not engaged or anything, but we've been together since college. I moved in with him because, it was easy and he was easy. But it's not like that anymore. I don't..."

"You're unhappy?" He reaches and cups her face in his hands.

She nods, "Very. I'm tired of feeling this way. It's almost like I feel nothing."

He kisses her beside her nose, just below her eye. "How do you want to feel?"

She looks into his eyes, doesn't blink."Loved. I want to know what it feels like. I'm not even sure I know."

His thumbs caress her cheeks and he knows, for some reason, he knows he can make her feel that way.

He pulls her close, as close as he can. Despite the blankets and clothes between them, he can feel her heart beating. He feels her arms reach around his shoulders as she buries her face in the crook of his neck.

"Closer," she whispers.

His arms tighten around her as he pulls her in. His hands smooth and soothe and search for skin. They find it under the thickness of her shirt. His hand splays across the small of her back and she gasps, feeling the strength of his hands and the warmth of his skin on hers. His fingers flex into her skin, pulling her up, dragging her body up so they are face to face, even. Her finger traces the outline of his lips. They're perfect; full and hungry for her. She can feel his eyes on her, taking everything in. "Too much?"

"Never. Not enough." His hand presses further into her back, pushing skin, pushing bone, pushing up through the top of her shirt, into her hair, pulling her face, her lips to his.

She breathes, they breath each other in, lips brushing against each other. Lips soft and warm, lips wanting and hungry. Two breaths, together.

Their kiss is slow and tentative, not because either one of them is unsure, but because they know how close they are to losing themselves in each other.

She swings her leg over her his hip, desperate to feel him, his body but she can't... "Fucking blanket..."

She kicks at it and tries to pull it from between them, without losing any of the closeness she has already gained.

"Bella, hold still." He tries not to laugh. She is so serious in her quest to free them from the blanket. Between kisses he rolls her body and shoves the blanket to the foot of the bed with his feet.

He pulls her back, his lips a whisper on her skin. "Better?"

"Yessssssss." She throws her leg back over his hip, pressing herself into him. She can feel how hard he is under his wool pants. Suddenly she's frantic. She untucks his t shirt, and pulls it up. Skin. His skin -is hot and smooth and she can feel his muscles contract beneath her touch. She wants more. She realizes how much of him there is to learn, how much to touch, how much to love and how little time they have. She presses her face to his bare chest, soaking up his warmth like he is the sun. She can hear his lungs expanding, his heart beating, so strong, so fast. She doesn't feel the tears well up but she feels the wetness on her cheeks.

He feels her tears. He watches as they melt into his skin like the snow in her hair. He brushes the mess of her curls from her face. Her eyes are wet and sad and looking for answers in his. "What? Bella, tell me."

His voice is so soft. Her tears are silent. She makes no sound as they run down her cheeks. He kisses her eyes and her tears away. He knows. He knows how much he wants too.

He holds her face in his hands and kisses her harder and softer and deeper trying to tell her, he knows. Her skin, he needs to touch. He finds her hip, the sliver that he saw peek out before and holds on tight. She presses her hips into his and fists the neck of his tee shirt, pulling him closer. His hand finds it's way to the back of her neck, her hair, so thick and full of her. He pulls it back giving him access to more skin, her neck, her shoulder, where ever he can reach. She tastes...better than anything.

She moans. "Edward, more." She can't get close enough. She still feels the barrier of their clothes. She wants to feel him, his skin, next to hers. She begins to wrestle with his clothes again but he grabs both her arms, stilling her.

"Bella, look at me." His voice is so calm, but only because he knows he can give her what she needs right now. That is all he cares about, right now.

Her eyes are wild with need and fear and love. He sees all that, he feels all that.

His fingers brush her lips, her cheeks, her eyes. Slowly. He takes his time.

"We have time, Bella. We have all the time."

He kisses her lips, her chin, her jaw, behind her ear.

"Please." her voice is a whisper, a pant. She's so close to the edge of too much.

She pulls his face to hers, so close. His lips, his eyes, his skin. She wants him, all, she can feel it in every bone, every cell of her body. "Oh my god, Edward, I can't..."

"Tell me what you need." His lips caress her ear. "Tell me."

So much more, she wants. "Touch me." It sounds like a wish.

His lips find hers, his tongue finds hers as his fingers find the flat of her belly and untie the drawstring of her flannel pants. He sits up, pulling his shirt over his head. He slowly slips the pants off her. Her legs. Are long. He wants to start with her legs. She pulls him back down. His lips. They kiss, this is what they were made for.

He strokes the inside of her thighs, so smooth. He can feel the heat, he can feel the want. He slips a finger in where it's wet and warm and soft. He starts at the bottom and slowly his finger dances its way to the top, where she feels it most. She sighs. "Again." And he does it again and again.

He feels the softness, the heat, the wet. He wants to taste, he wants to watch. His finger circles her entrance and slowly slides in, a little, and back and in, a little and back and again as his thumb brushes her clit.

She groans.

He does it again.

She gasps.

And again. He doesn't stop.

He leans over her, brushing her lips with his. " I want to see your face when you come. Show me."

His thumb is steady, feeling the quiver in her thighs and the tightness beginning to surround his finger. His thumb brushes her clit once more and he softly presses it as his finger slides in her all the way and pulls out. She grasps his shoulders and pushes down on his hand. "Please don't stop."

He brushes and presses and her skin glistens and her face is flushed. He feels the pulsing and watches her face as a moan erupts from deep down inside her. Her back arches and her toes curl as she falls. He slows his hand and kisses her until she reaches up and twines her hands in his hair. Her eyes open and she sees his face before hers, his eyes so full of her. His kiss is gentle and light and endless. His whisper is low and rough in her ear. "Bella, that was beautiful. Thank you."

She kisses him again. She has no words for the feeling of her heart bursting and shattering at the same time.

"I want to see that again and again and again," His voice is like a feather that tickles and teases and leaves her wanting for so much more.

"I want to touch you, please. I want to make you feel like I do."

"Getting to see you, your face, watch you ...that's enough for now."

And frankly, he's not sure he's ready to lose himself in her as completely as he wants to. So much, he wants.

"Baby, we have all the time."

Even though he knows, there will never ever be enough time to love her as much as he wants to.

A sleepy small smile spreads across her face. "I want you, Edward."

"I know. I feel it. I don't want it to stop." Gentle kisses, lingering, neither one of them wants them to end. Slowly they relax into each others arms. It seems like time slows down.

He rolls her over and pulls her into him. Her back pressed into his chest, blankets wrapped around them. His arms hold her as tightly as he can. He never wants to let go.

"Sleep, baby."

Tangled in warm body and blankets, she wakes up to the alarm, knowing she is not in her bed. She is home. She feels happy and sexy and wanted and wanting. Rolling over, she sees him, his face. He looks so peaceful and soft. It amazes her how much life is in his eyes. She sees something in them, from the inside. They are his windows and through them she realizes she has seen the lost and loneliness. His. Softly she kisses each one, hoping to ease their burden. She brushes her cheek to his; it's rough from the stubble that's grown over night. Reluctantly, she slides out of bed.

"Sleep, baby."

She showers and dresses quickly. Coffee-she can grab on the way to work. She wants time to wake him slowly, watch as his eyes open up to her.

Her hair is still wet, but she is dressed and ready to go. He's still curled around the place she slept when she was curled around him. Gently, she settles her weight on the mattress, in the spot that's still warm from sleep. He opens his body to her, letting her in, closer to the warmth she was nestled in such a short time ago. She watches him sleep, wanting to revel in his long arms, and broad shoulders, the smooth skin that covers his chest, his heart. She feels his arm wrap around her waist. Tight, tighter, he holds her. She leans in closer, feeling how solid, how real he is. She strokes his face, his lips. She reaches to kiss, to wake him up with a soft, gentle kiss. But the arm holds her tighter, and she notices a slight curl to the lips that whisper the steady breath of sleep.

"You're awake."

"I am, and you have clothes on." His voice is morning rough and cloudy. She watches as his eyes blink, slowly open. They're clear and light and full of her. Her stomach flips as she reaches for him. Closer.

"I have to go. I want to stay here." Here, so close. Her lips find his. Her heart, her heart beats stay, stay, stay. So strong.

"Don't go." His arm holds her tight, tighter, so close.

She's so close to staying. She looks up and into the eyes that are dark and full and hungry for her. "I have to go to work."

"I know." His fingers brush her face, so soft, so warm and flush with life. "What time will you be back?"

"Hopefully by five, maybe sooner if things go well."

"I'm in a conference until four and then I have a dinner thing at seven." Too much time, not enough time. "My room, when you get back, nap."

She smiles. "Nap."

His fingers brush her lips. So much more. Fuck, he wants so much, more time. "Yeah, be sooner."

"Go back to sleep, I'll be back as soon as I can." She wiggles out of his grasp. He pulls on her hair, her face down to his. One last kiss before she's gone.

Her heart races. Not because she's late. Someone is living in it, taken up residence, giving it rhythm. She grabs coffee and a cab. The roads are thick with snow and slush, and she's late. For work, she needs to focus.

Harsh fluorescent lights bring her back to reality. It is cold and stark and quiet. She feels like a burst of color and life inside a windowless building. A weightless sense of being surrounds her. It's a new sensation. She wants to test it, feel her way around it. It is grace and gratitude, want and wishes and it is effortless to carry. She is not alone.

Her day so far is smooth. Someone makes her laugh, but the smile is all in her. Images flash through her memory, his face, his fingers, his eyes in the mirror looking back at her. She hears his voice, his words, her name as they fall from his lips. She wants to be done, she wants to be back, with him. She craves him and the way he makes her feel. It's so good it hurts.

She needs to focus. Her job is not difficult, but it requires attention, to people, their questions; her experience can help them. She uses them to ground her, only occasionally seeing a glimpse or hearing a glimmer of his voice causing her to smile.

She escapes for lunch, feeling the sun on her face and the steady beat of her heart. The snow is melting and it's messy, but the air is crisp and it feels good on her skin, clean. She wanders around the neighborhood finding a small cafe. It's not busy. There are a few tables, empty. One of them is beside the front window. She sits and feels the warmth of the sun as she eats and watches the city walk by. It hardly matters, all she sees is him.

A smile tugs at her lips. She wonders what he's doing, what he's thinking, what he's feeling. She wants to call him, hear his voice. She closes her eyes and sees his. His eyes this morning, so clear and sure and full of her. The memory shoots through her like stars, streaking across the sky, leaving her flushed and overflowing.

The rest of her day takes too long. There are glitches and questions with no easy answers. She does her best, but by the time she gets done, it's dark outside. Traffic is slow and careful and she feels all the time slowly slipping away. While the cab is stopped she finally pulls out her phone and calls the hotel. She leaves a message on Edward's room phone. I'm sorry, I'm stuck in traffic; I miss you. Call me. I need to hear your voice.

She rushes through the lobby, into the elevator. Ten, press ten, she presses. Slowly, she tries to catch her breath, calm down but the giddy and the tingle and the rush she can barely hold it all inside.

Ten. The doors slide open and close behind her. She sees the sign on the wall in front of her and follows the arrows to a door that's been propped open, just a crack. She knocks softly, pushes gently. He's asleep, on his side, facing her. A peek of his white tee shirt she can see from under the covers, which is where she wants to be.

She puts her purse and laptop down on the dresser, sheds her coat, her boots, her skirt. Everything. She pulls out one of his shirts from the dresser drawer and slides it over her head. She climbs quietly into bed, under the covers, crawling closer to him. She feels his warmth, closer, close enough just to touch, not wake him. She looks up and he's watching her. His crooked smile, his eyes barely open.

"Stop doing that. How long have you been watching?" She can't hide her amusement.

His crooked smile melts her. "Long enough. You're beautiful. Come here."

He pulls her, closer, kisses her softly. "Hi."

She wraps her arms around his neck, kisses his chin. "I missed you."

"I know. I felt it." He covers her with his body, his arms around her, his leg over her hips. "Nap." He tucks her head under his chin. She is in, safe and here with him. He has no doubts they are exactly where they are supposed to be.

While he holds her, tight, sheltered, secure-he lets her sleep. Her clothes are strewn across the floor. He looks at her, asleep, in his bed, in his arms, in his clothes. He likes it. He likes it all.

She stirs and pulls at his shirt, pulls at his heart. "Don't go, not yet." She's mumbling in half asleep words. Her eyes fluttershut, her breathing soft.

He brushes the tangle of hair from her face and the drool from the corner of her mouth. "Not yet, not yet." He rocks them slowly. Not yet.

He stays with her as long as he can, deciding to forgo the shower. He shaves, pulls on a pair of jeans and a white button down. He'll wear his wool suit jacket, no tie. He's meeting with colleagues. They will expect him to stay and drink and tell the horror stories they live at work. But he's seen them and lived them, the blood, the pain, the I'm sorry, we did as much as we could. He has no need to relive dying and death when tonight he has a chance at life. Tonight, he needs to be with her, only her, all of her.

He sits at the edge of the bed to put his shoes on. He feels her, awake. "Don't go." He crawls over to her, over her on all fours, fully clothed. This fills her with delight and longing. He is overwhelming.

She is surrounded by him. "Stay with me."

He leans down, nuzzles the side of her face, her neck. "I'll be back soon; I promise. You. Stay here. Order food. I'll be back in a few hours."

He drags his lips up her neck. She tastes like she should be dinner. Her lips are waiting for his, her tongue is soft... His heart. Bella, stay, Bella, stay, Bella stay.

"Stay with me." Her whisper, her breath.

His heart beats. Stay. "Baby, I'll be back soon." He pulls himself away from her. He pulls away. It hurts in a place buried deep within him His heart beats with hers.

She's cold without him. She has no clothes. She has his clothes. She finds long underwear and wool socks and a thermal hoodie stuffed in the bottom drawer of the dresser. She laughs. He came prepared for an arctic chill. She is swimming in his clothes. She ties the waist of the long underwear in a knot above her hips so they don't fall down. She loves being bundled in him, in his scent. It's better than Uggs. She orders food from room service and pulls out her laptop. Hopefully she can get a head start on tomorrow, so tomorrow she can come back sooner.

They'll have more time. She has no grasp of it. Only him, when he's with her does it make sense. From somewhere, she hears the muffled ring of her cell phone. Her stomach clenches, only briefly. Ruffling through her purse, she pulls it out. The number she does not recognize, but she knows who it is.

"Hi." Hearing his voice, on her phone; this is new, so much is. She's nervous.

"You called earlier, I'm calling you back." She can hear the play in his voice and see the grin of his lips.

"I did. I was running late. I wanted you to know I was on my way." That I missed you.

"Well, I'm calling to tell you I'm trying to get out of here."

"I know. I can feel it."

They're both quiet; all they can hear is breath. Each other.


"Come back, soon."

"I am. I'm trying."

She's in the bathroom when she hears the door open. And close. Toothbrush in her mouth, she peeks around the corner. He's staring at the empty bed. She's looking at his back, wool coat and dark jeans and big winter boots. His hair is wet and dark from snow melting.

He hears her approach from behind. He feels her reach up and run her fingers through his hair, shaking out the wet from the snow. He turns. He takes her in. He holds his face as still as he can, tries to keep his voice low.

"Is that my toothbrush?"

She's surprised. She forgot everything when she saw him. He looks, stoic. She nods, slowly.

"I'm sorry?"

He can barely understand what she's saying, her mouth full, of his toothbrush. Her eyes are big, and she looks nervous.

He wants to smile and laugh and gather her up in his arms. She's in all his clothes with her hair piled on top of her head, with his toothbrush in her mouth.

"Bella, go spit."

Her grin is contagious and foamy, and he can't hold it in anymore. She rolls her eyes.


When she comes out of the bathroom, he's sitting on the bed, taking off his boots. She can't even believe how playful and sexy he is. How much she wants to run and tackle him and giggle and laugh and love.

He looks up. He's still taking her in, her clothes, his clothes. He holds out his hand. He's reaching for her from across the room. She walks toward him and stands between his legs. He touches her, all over. Patting his baggy clothes, he can hardly find her underneath it all.

"You're fucking adorable." His hands finally reach her face. He holds it, so gently.

She sighs. " Edward, adorable is not sexy."

"You, in my clothes, is sexy as hell." He smirks. "You just have too many of them on." He begins to unzip the hoodie. Slowly. He watches her eyes as he pulls down the zipper. He slips it off her shoulders. It falls to the floor. Their breath, their hearts race. She can't take her eyes off his as he plays with the hem of her shirt. He lifts it up, over her head. It lands on the floor too. His lungs suck in air like a vacuum. Her skin, her breasts. He wants. He looks into her eyes. "Beautiful, you are so fucking perfect." He wants to touch, to taste, to breathe her in and hold it until he turns blue. He pulls her closer, between his legs. "You, in my long johns, is the best fucking thing I've ever seen."

"You're still an ass."

He's quiet for a minute. "I'm not an ass."

She searches his eyes, to see if she hurt him somehow, pushed a button. She sees nothing but him and who he is.

"No, you're not an ass."

Her smile is soft as she unbuttons his shirt. She's watching his eyes. He watches her fingers and her eyes and her breasts as they rise and fall with each breath she takes. She raises his hands and unbuttons his cuffs. She pushes one shoulder of his shirt down and slides his arm through, then the other. She adds it to the pile of clothes on the floor.

She needs to stop for a minute. Her heart is pounding out of her chest. She thinks she can hear his too. Their hands reach for his t-shirt at the same time. They pull it up, together, over his head and drop it.

His bare skin. She can feel it radiating. Her bare skin soaks up his heat.

They do not touch. They watch each other breathe. They watch each other, see each other for the first time. They do not touch.

He can feel her. He can feel every cell of his body absorbing her.

His hands are back on her hips."Hold on." He pulls her down on his lap, her legs straddling his, and pulls them up the bed until his back rests on the head board.

She settles into his hips, feeling his denim covered knees behind her back. She leans into them. He reaches up and pulls the tie out of her hair, watching it tumble down her shoulders.

They're still, watching and breathing, faster. She sees him, bare, his belly rise and fall. He hasn't even touched her yet, and she feels like she's going to fall apart.

She reaches to touch his face, hold it in her hands. She needs to hold some part of him. He brings that hand to his mouth placing his lips on her skin, his tongue. He drags his tongue up her palm, her fingers and sucks.

"Oh, god, Edward." Her head falls back.

"Stay with me, Bella. Look at me." His voice is thick. His tongue is full of her. He needs her. So much.

Her head rolls forward. She feels full of life and him. His eyes on her, make her skin tingle with so much.

He sits up, his body closer. She can feel his breath on her skin. It floats across her nipples. She feels it all the way, like every part of her is connected. He wraps an arm around her waist. His eyes break their gaze. He watches every breath she takes as her breasts brush his skin.

"Touch?" He watches her breathe, up, down.

"Yes." Her breath faster. Up, up, down.

His thumbs gently brush her breasts, her skin so soft.

He watches as her nipples tighten. It's like magic.

He raises his eyes to hers. "Taste?"

She swallows her words. "Please."

She watches as he licks his lips. His lips, kiss, suck, nibble, swirl, taste...They hum. His eyes, his lips are on hers. Wet, warm, nibbling. His tongue, he tastes hers.

They hum.

They hum.

He rolls them over. He hovers above her. His arms on either side. Her hands holding on. They breathe deep, together. It's the first time they can fill their lungs with each other, and the only thing they have that keeps them tied to this world.

He presses his hips into hers. He's so hard. He presses. He wants. Her.

She tries to pull him down; she wants to feel his skin. She needs to feel his skin on her.

"No, wait." He kisses where he can reach without touching.

He presses and hovers and rolls his stomach slowly on to hers. She gasps; its warm and damp and his skin.

"Skin." She breathes. They breathe, together, up, down.

He flattens his chest on her, her breasts. They breathe.

Their eyes, locked. Breathing. In, out, up, down.



In. Out. Up. Down.

"Edward, you're gonna kill me."


"No, baby, I'm just gonna love you."

She threads her fingers through his hair, pulling her face to his, her lips to his. She's melting.

She reaches down to unbuckle his belt, and pushes his pants down with her feet. He kicks them off the rest of the way with out leaving her lips.

His kisses. Are warm and wet and all over. Her face, her neck, her breasts.

He drags his open mouth down her stomach, drags his mouth down taking the long underwear with it. His mouth, her legs, her skin is so soft. His mouth, where she's wet, where she tastes like every part of her from the inside out.

He feels her body tremble, her whole self. He climbs back up, her face, her lips.

"Too much." Her eyes are dark. Her lids flutter. Her whole body vibrates.

He presses his cock where she needs it. He cups her face in his hands. "Bella, I want you." She would say I know, I feel it, if she could say anything at all.

He slides the condom on. Kisses her, kisses her warm, swollen, wanting mouth. She hums.

Their eyes open wide. They watch each other as he presses and pushes and slides in slowly, all the way. Deep.

They still. They feel. Each other. Their eyes never close.

She pushes against him, a little. "Uuhhh."

She does it again.

"Baby? Tell me."

"Push, Edward, push, just a little." So soft like a pulse, push me.

"Yes, oh oh oh Edward."

Her voice is a breath above a whisper. He remembers, from last night. The way her mouth opened and her lips puffed and she arches and she pushes her hips up and …


He can feel tiny muscles around his cock quiver. He can feel her breath and see the flush of her skin.

"Bella." On his breath, barely a whisper.

Her eyes flutter. Her lips form a fragile smile. She is between worlds.

He runs his thumb along her jaw. Waiting for her face to come to life again.

"Edward, kiss me."

They push and pull and dig and dig deeper. Holding, rocking, harder.

He watches her mouth as his name falls from her lips over and over and over. He feels her quiver and clench hard around him. He hears his name again and again. He is so close to the edge. He hears his own voice. "Bella."

They're not done, holding, stroking, touching, learning things about each other. Their fingers dance and tickle. Their lips smile and kiss. Their words are soft and quiet.

Finally, they sleep.

She wakes. It's still dark. She feels long fingers stroking her ribs, exploring the skin between each bone. His breath is soft in her ear. His heartbeat steady and strong against her back. She scoots her ass back and feels his cock, hard, pressed up against her. She reaches up behind her and wraps her arms around his neck.

"How long have you been trying to wake me?"

He burrows his face in her hair, in her ear. "I can't stop touching you." He's so lost in her, he's forgotten about time. All the time, leaking from a hole in their world. A leak he cannot stop.

"I can't stop," he whispers.

She turns to him. "Let me love you."

She pushes him onto his back, climbs on top, and slowly lowers herself. Their ride is slow and deliberate and freeing.

They fall back to sleep, tangled and unhurried.

They wake to an alarm that neither of them wants to hear. It means work. It means leaving. It means another day gone, more time gone.

She molds herself to his body, seeking warmth and comfort, searching for dreams that will keep her with him a little longer. He reaches over her and hits the clock, hard. He wraps his arms around her, pulling her impossibly closer. His fingers play along the skin of her spine, feeling each rise, each dip, each bone. She shivers.

"Hey," his voice groggy and full of sleep. "You're naked."

She kisses the hollow of his throat good morning. "I am, very naked." She kisses his Adam's apple as he swallows. She kisses each corner of his jaw. She reaches his lips. "So are you." She kisses them good morning too.

The alarm goes off again. They groan. He turns it off this time.

She buries her face in his chest. "Edward?"

"Yeah, baby?" His hand reaches her hair and he twists and twines his fingers in it.

"I like waking up happy." She kisses his heart.

"Bella." He pulls at her hair so she's facing him, looking up. She can see dark and lost float through his eyes and then it's gone. He pulls her closer, his lips a whisper away. "Thank you." His kiss is hard and needy. She slows him down with her lips. Soft, wet, slow kisses. She feels his body relax, into her. "I have an idea. What time do you have to leave?" Soft, wet slow kisses.

She looks at the clock and sighs. "About an hour, give or take...Does this idea involve being happy and naked?" She's fighting for the happy, so hard. She wants to keep it locked tight inside her heart, safe and forever. No time limit. She wants to share all the happy and all the time that's left with him. Slow kisses, soft and wet.

She feels the smile on his lips. "It does." Kisses, soft, slow and wet. He pulls the covers back and moves to get out of bed. Kisses. "Come with me?"

She's confused, but that hardly matters. She would go anywhere with him. He only has to ask. He leads her to the bathroom and turns the water on in the shower.


He nods and opens the glass door for her. She steps in, feeling him behind her. He wraps his arms around her, pulling her back. Her head fits perfectly under his chin. She leans into him and feels the warmhot spray on her body. He holds her tight. "Just be here with me, Bella. For a little while longer." He feels like he needs to fit a lifetimes worth of love into a few days.

She looks back at him. He is a beautiful man. She feels so much. She feels words on her lips that have no business coming out. She swallows them.

He hums and holds them and rocks them slowly.

He kisses the top of her head and holds a bottle in front of her face. She just nods. She has no idea. She is overwhelmed with him, by him.

He washes her hair. He's gentle. He spins her around and tips her head under the spray to rinse. She can feel the tears running down her cheeks. She can't tell if they are happy or sad tears. She just hopes he doesn't see them.

He grabs a bar of soap and starts at her shoulders, working his way slowly down her body. She watches as foam runs over her nipples and between her breasts. His arms are long and he hugs her as he washes her back. Soft, wet, warm, soapy kisses. He washes her feet. Kneeling down, he places each one on his knee as he does. Her legs. Are special.

Her legs are weak.

She crouches down to see his face, to be closer to him. She needs to be closer. "Edward." She's shaking and wanting him inside. So much need. "I need you."

He looks up at her, reaching for her face, wanting all of her. "I know."

He pulls her into his lap; he's hard and ready and wanting as much as she is.

He moves her hips up and pulls her down slowly. "Bella." She feels so good. He can't believe how right she feels, ready, needing him, his.

He fills her completely. She feels herself surrounding him. Her most intimate places, her soul, her heart- they're hot and needy like the tears she doesn't want him to see.

They sit in the shower letting the water wash over them. He pulls back to see her face, hold her face; it fits in his hands so perfectly. "No condom?"

She touches his lips softly. "I'm on the pill."

He nods slowly. He kisses her slowly.

He turns off the water and wraps himself around her, carrying her to the sink. He sets her down and dries her off. Taking care and watching as he towels off each part of her body. She can only breathe.

He wraps her in a towel, and they walk, silently, to the bed where she sits. "I have a meeting at eight and then I'll be here, working on my presentation for tomorrow." He talks as he dresses her in the clothes she wore last night. His clothes.

She nods. "Should be a short day for me. I"ll be back after lunch."

They're both quiet. The weight of time pressing down on them.

"Should I come here when I get back?" She's scared. She's having a hard time reading him. Something she's had very little practice at, something she hasn't had to do. "Edward?"

Their eyes meet. His eyes are glassy, clear and wet. She bites her lip, feeling the tightness in her throat, the tears welling up. "Edward." It is barely air, it is love, it is pain.

"I'm here, I'm here." He's on his knees, between hers, holding them, his face pressed to hers. Slow tender kisses. I'm here.

She looks at him, her thumbs soothing his cheeks. "We still have time."

His smile is small as he leans into her touch. "I'll be here when you get back."

Slow tender touches.

She's still scared. She hates time.

Back in her room, she dresses. She needs to have warm and familiar surrounding her. She wants to wear his clothes. She pulls on leggings and her Uggs. She has a simple shift she can belt and it will have to be good enough. It's a short day, her last day of work. She doesn't care. She needs to feel safe.

She wears his hoodie instead of her coat.

She grabs coffee and a cab. She calls to let them know she's running late. She doesn't care.

She needs to focus.

Her heart is heavy. So full, so filled with what she wishes was hope. She no longer feels like the stars that light up the sky. She feels like the moon, waning, ready to disappear. She needs to focus.

Her day goes.

She finds the same cafe for lunch. It's a little busier than yesterday, but the table where she sat is empty.

She looks around, noticing the age and wear around her. She can tell that the booths lining the walls used to be plush and overstuffed but are now flat and hard. There are old black and white photos on the walls: the city when it was younger.

She picks at her food and glances out the window. People are on there way to here and there, but all she sees are friends, couples holding hands, couples wrapped around each other, couples with children all on their way somewhere, together. She sits alone. She closes her eyes and wishes for the grace and want that was a part of her so much earlier this morning. She imagines Edward but all she can see is the empty space on his finger. Not the finger that brushed her lips, not the finger that loved her, but the finger that belongs to someone else. Sadness wells up inside her. She feels heavy, no longer hungry and so very tired.

The walk back to her job is long and cold. She slogs her way through the puddles of melted snow, dirty water pooling on streets and sidewalks. Her thoughts of Edward are sad, edged with panic. What if she pushed him, pulled him into something untrue? What if she was riding a wave and he got swept under? She tries to remember his words, his touches, the sureness in his eyes. But all she feels is time.

It's still light out when she gets back to the hotel. Her feet are heavy as she walks through the lobby to the elevator. The up motion makes her stomach more uneasy than it already is. Her body vibrates with anticipation, of loss. All she wants is to see his eyes. Their truth. If it's gone, if she imagined it, she can walk away. She knows it's not fair, but she only wants him whole, intact and unconditionally.

The door is closed. She knocks gently. Her legs shake as she waits for him to open the door. She can hear his footsteps muffled by the rug. She can can feel his hand on the door knob. She places her hand on the door before he opens it.

What he sees when he opens the door almost brings him to his knees. Her whole body is vibrating. Her eyes, dark and haunted and looking at his for answers.

He pulls her into his room and into his lap. Holding her face in his hands, he wants to ask but doesn't want to hear the answers.

"Please don't leave. I'm here." He places her hand over his heart. Feel, stay stay stay.

The steady rhythm calms her. "I got lost."

"I'm here. You're here, exactly where you're supposed to be, with me."

"I missed you."

His body comforts her, reassures her, holds her together. "I know."

She tightens her grip around him. She knows the truth.

Their afternoon is quiet, soft, hushed tones and gentle touches. They are together, silently marking time. They push sleep away.

"Edward?" Her hushed voice breaks the silence that has hovered around them. "What if, this is, just this?" A few days. It feels like a trick. "When I step off my plane tomorrow, it will all be'll be gone. You'll get on your plane, go home, and your life will go back to normal. Like we never happened."

He strokes her hair. He's been through this all day. These thoughts have swirled around in his brain. But he's had time, to think, to put things in perspective, into words that will make it better.

"Bella, is that what you believe?"

"I don't want to." I want to believe it's real, I want to believe it's true, I want to believe you so very much.

"Baby, if anything, we've been given a gift. If this is all this is, we have everything to treasure, nothing to be sorry for."

Of this he has never been more certain. This is his truth. "I know you. I know what happens when I touch you here." He reaches for her hand and kisses her palm. "I know this." He strokes her cheek. "I know these." He kisses her lips so softly. "I know what it looks like when the snow melts in your hair. "I know your taste on my tongue. I know what your body feels like under mine. I know what your face looks like when you come. I know...what it feels like to love you."

She has never been, she has never felt, she has never known so much love in her entire life.

"Look at me. Bella. Do you feel loved?"

She nods as the real tears she's been holding back and hiding for days finally free fall down her face.

"I loved you, I gave that to you and I don't want it back. It's yours. My love is yours. No one can take that away."

"Edward, I-"

"You don't have to say it."

" But I-"

"I don't know if I can hear it."

"I do."

"I know."

They hold each other and are lulled to sleep by a sense of calm that had been missing all day.

It's dark when they wake up. He can hear her stomach growling. He snuggles in closer, thankful that some of the weight has been lifted from the atmosphere. He's hoping for something, but knows nothing will stop time from slipping away. He also knows the worst is yet to come. He dreads tomorrow like nothing he's ever known. She'll be gone. But how many days, how many months will he feel the lack of her in his life? That time seems to be infinite.

He can feel her stomach rumble under his hand. "You hungry?"

"A little." Her voice is lazy, sleepy. She threads her fingers through his, resting on her belly.

"Did you eat today?" Picturing what she looked like when he opened the hotel room door, he suspects not.

She squeezes his hand. "A little?"

"Come on, we have to go find food." He kisses her shoulder and reaches to turn on the lamp beside the bed.

She presses her whole body to his. "No, this is good." She hasn't opened her eyes yet. When she does, she knows it will be dark and time will be real again.

"Baby, you have to eat. We can stay here if you want to, or we can go out." Going out, with her, outside, together, seems real, surreal. He wants to feel the cold on his face and her warm hand in his, outside, in the world. He should worry, be more discrete, but he doesn't care. This is their time, their place, and he wants to claim it.

She peeks open one eye at him. "Go out? Like, out of the hotel?"

He nods and he smiles. She wants a part of the world with him too.

"There's a tavern a few blocks down. It has burgers and fries; they're good."

She raises her eyebrow. "Better than this?" She cuddles closer and pulls the covers up.

He leans in, kissing her jaw. He growls. "Nothing is better than this, but you need to eat."

"God, you're good." She pushes him away and gets dressed.

They walk through the lobby hand in hand. A few people nod at him. He smiles and squeezes her hand. She feels no eyes burning the back of her head, she hears no whispers, she feels no hesitation from him. She feels free. They step outside, together. The wind is cold and strong, but it feels so fresh, crisp and new.

She pulls on his arm, looking up at his beautiful face. "You okay?"

"Better than..." The smile on his face is full, and his cheeks are red. "Let's go."

It's a neighborhood tavern. It's not a hole in the wall, but it smells of beer and wet wood. There is a small television in the corner with the hockey game on. They order at the bar and slide into a booth along the wall, facing each other. He watches her eat. He loves the drip of mustard on her chin, and the way she's tentative to bite when he feeds her a fry. He tells her stories of growing up in the city, running around in the winter, playing in ice caves made by the cold winter water and the power of the lake.

He knows it's not much, but it's everything. This time, in the real world with her is better than anything he's ever had.

The mention of ice caves has her giddy with excitement. She wants to see, hear the thick ice crack under her feet, feel the power of the water that lies beneath it.

"Can we go when we're done eating?" Her eyes sparkle, and he can feel a wave of desperation. It's inside him, but it radiates from her too. She doesn't want the night to be over.

"Not at night, it's too dangerous." He waits. He watches her eyes as the light fades from them with the realization that what they both want is impossible. She puts her food down and pushes the plate away.

"Bella, don't." He can feel his heart beat in his throat. Stay stay stay. But she's already, and he's going with her.

He gets up and slides in the booth with her. He pushes the table away and puts his arm around her. She leans her head against his shoulder. They sit back and watch the hockey game in silence.

Their walk back is the same. His arm is draped around her, holding her up as she slides and slips on the ice. She has both arms wrapped around his waist, anchoring them. They have no words.

They reach the hotel, and she stops. She can't go in. It's like time lives inside and once they enter, it will start ticking again. He steps forward and holds out his hand. She can tell he's just as scared as she is. She wants to feel the sureness she had when she first saw him, the strength and sense of right that she possessed. She feels weak. She looks into his eyes. He knows. She places her hand in his and they walk in together.

He closes the door behind them. It's late. It's so late. She looks at the clock. It's time.

"Edward," she whispers and turns to face him. "I have to go pack."

She looks stunned, like she's in shock. Like she knew, but never thought this was really going to happen.

"You said we had all the time." She shakes. "You lied?" She gave him everything, and she only asked for one in return, his honesty. "We don't have all the time." Her eyes are shattered with the realization.

He can't see. His vision is clouded with tears. "Bella, I didn't lie." She is going to break him. He can feel it.

"I want more." She feels herself breaking into tiny pieces.

"Bella, I didn't lie. In my heart, we have all the time. It never ends."

She sees his tears. She feels them. She is already broken." I have to go pack."

As the door closes he falls to the bed behind him. He can't tell if his heart is going to stop or beat itself out of his chest. He sits and he waits, for what he's not sure. He didn't lie. He spoke with his heart. He was true, truer and more open than he's ever been in his life. He waits and hopes she'll come back.

She makes it to her room before she falls apart. She crumbles to the floor beside the bed, pulls her knees to her chest and rocks. She has never cried this hard before. From the inside, it wells up and bursts out of her. She has never. She has never... been ripped open like this. Her insides are filled with splinters and broken glass. Her skin feels like raw jagged edges. If she ever heals, the scars will always hurt and she will bear them.

The clock flashes at her. It's so late. She throws things in her suit case. Tomorrow she'll just wear the clothes she's wearing now. She gathers things from the bathroom, tossing them in. She'll just wash and put her hair up. Everything else seems like too much. She sits on the bed and she waits. She knows he didn't lie to her.

Fuck, Bella what the hell did you just do?

She stands. She sits. She stands. She doesn't know how to fix this. She wants to go to him. She needs to make it better. She knows he didn't lie. She saw him, his eyes, the truth and what he believed. He would never. Ever. Be anything but his whole self with her. She knows that.

She stands. Placing one foot in front of the other, she makes it to the door. She is dizzy and disoriented. She hopes she's not too late. It's so late. Her hand on the door knob, she turns.

There's a knock on the door. It's soft, unsure. It kills her.

She turns the knob and pulls.

He's leaning against the jam, his hands on either side. His shirt is unbuttoned, his feet are bare. His eyes are fixed on the floor.

"Edward." She's still crying.

He looks up at her. She cringes, closing her eyes. The pain she sees she cannot atone for. But she will do anything to try.

"I didn't lie to you. I would never lie to you." His voice cracks, his cheeks stained with tears.

"I know. I know. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean... I didn't."

She pulls on his arms and wraps them around her. She takes a step closer to him and he tightens his hold. She reaches for his neck and he lifts her as she presses herself against him. She buries her face in the crook of his neck. She whispers. "I'm so sorry." So so sorry sorry sorry sorry.

He holds her hard. He holds her tight. "I know." I know I know I know.

He walks them to the bed and sits. He takes her face in his hands. He wants to look at her. He wants to see her. "I didn't know." He rests his forehead on hers. "That's not true, I did know, I knew. Bella, there will never be enough time for me to love you the way I want to."

The truth. Their truth.

She doesn't know how to do this, love so much and let go.

They undress each other slowly.


They are wrapped and tangled up in each other. Skin and touches and strokes. He reaches down to touch her. He just wants to feel her. His finger circles her clit.

"No, Edward, just this." He's already hard, wanting to fill her body and soul. She places him at her entrance. He pushes in slowly. "I just want to feel, just you."

"Bella, I..."

"Don't say it. I just want to feel, us, together. Just be with me." She places her hand over his heart. She feels his rhythm, she feels him inside her. He lays his hand on her heart beat. He can feel the steady thrum of her slowing, calming, their breathing together. They hold on, feeling the life inside each other-watching, breathing, joined.

They whisper words and kiss away quiet tears as they fight sleep, hoping to hold on to every minute they are connected.

She wakes. There's a warm empty spot next to her. "No." Not yet.

"I'm right here, baby." He climbs up on the bed behind her and surrounds her with his body but he's already dressed. He twists his fingers in her hair remembering the way it looked when the snow was melting in it. He feels a chill, that was only days ago. Somehow, it feels like forever. His whole world feels different.

"I have to go." His body shivers with the words. They make him cold, they make him lonely. He hates leaving. He's not sure he can.

"No. Not yet." She says the words but she knows they have no meaning.

"It's time Bella. I have to." This is killing him.

Her eyes are closed and she nods. Like if she doesn't see, it won't hurt as much. But then she can't see him anymore. She's not ready. "I don't want it to be over." She can feel her tears. She holds them back. She has all morning to cry. She has the rest of her life to cry.

He pushes her hair behind her ear. "We will never be over." He says the words that will soothe them both, knowing in their hearts, it is true. He kisses her lips, softly. "I know."

She whispers. "Me too."

He feels himself start to shake as he walks toward the elevator, his body giving in to her. He will never be able to let go.

As he opens his door he is hit with her scent. The room still smells like her. He can have one more night.

He's mechanical as he showers and puts on his suit. He notices her clothes, still in a pile on the floor. He can't-go back there. He'll never leave her again.

As he leaves, he hangs the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door to make sure they don't clean his room.

Now, he has a presentation to give. He has to focus.

She's numb. She has hours to live through before it's time to leave. She has a lifetime to live through. She showers. She repacks her suitcase. She orders breakfast. She doesn't eat it. She sits at the desk and stares at a blank sheet of paper. She thought she could write him a note. She can't. He took all her words with him when he left.

She sits and looks out the window. Numb.

It's time.

She stands to go. She picks up the piece of paper one more time. Its edge slices her finger. She stares at it, bleeding. A drop falls to the paper. She bleeds herself. It's almost a relief. With her bloody finger she draws a crude heart shape on the paper and blows on it so it dries.

She writes "You left this here. It will always belong to you." ~Bella

She slides it under his door, knowing his conference started early this morning. She'll be gone before he gets back.

He's exhausted. She's probably already left, but he goes to her room just in case. The elevator door opens. There is the cleaning cart in front of her door. He doesn't even get off. He presses ten.

He opens his door and breathes in her scent. It is soothing and gut wrenching at the same time. He looks down and sees the heart. He slowly bends down to pick it up. His hands are shaking. Her blood. Her heart. Belong to him.

He sits. He waits for the pain to take over. He's numb.

He sits and stares at his heart. He doesn't think she'd do anything, but... he calls her. It goes to voice mail. Her voice. The sound of her voice is enough to break him. He hangs up before he says anything. He buries himself in their unmade bed and wraps himself in her. He breathes her in. He can't do this. He shakes and he twists and turns. He should get out, get some air, but he doesn't want to leave her again.

She gets to the airport with plenty of time and still has to race to make her flight. She has no sense of the minutes, the hours passing. She feels disconnected and adrift.

She fidgets in her seat, unable to get comfortable. She twists and turns trying to settle herself but she can't. She buries her face in his hoodie. It's the only thing that makes her feel real, even if that reality is tearing her apart.

She hears her phone buzz. She pulls it out of her purse and stares at it. She takes a deep breath and listens to the message but all she hears are muffled sounds and her breath escapes her. I'm sorry...she rocks herself. She can feel his pain because it's in her heart.

I'm so sorry I'm so sorry I'm so sorry.

The flight is painfully long, just like the life stretched out before her. The long walk through the airport feels unfamiliar and cold. She's here every week; it is her second home, but no longer.

She heads down to get her bag. She can see it, mindlessly circling the conveyor belt. She makes her way through the sparse crowd and waits for her bag to come around again. She sees families greeting, friends hugging, couples welcoming each other home. There is no one there for her. There never is. She pulls out her phone, hoping maybe she missed a call, missed a text; anything, from anyone, from him.

There is nothing, nothing but the message she knows will break her heart. Again and again and again.