I'm so freaking sorry for making you guys wait FOREVER for this update, but real life can be demanding and unfortunately, I write when I have time – which I didn't have a lot of in July.

I promise I will never abandon this story without completing it first – I'm not an asshole. : )

A huge thank you to the two wonderful ladies from PTB who sit through countless grammatical errors, effing commas en m-dashes to name but a few of my flaws, and still make the time to be encouraging and kind about it! Adt216 and Pain Jane – julle is befok!

Chapter Twenty-Two

-The Present-

"What are you doing?" I ask with a frown as Edward pushes his hand into the back pocket of my jeans and rather unceremoniously squeezes my ass.

"I'm fondling my girlfriend's ass." He shrugs, giving me a sideways wink.

"In front of my parents," I deadpan, trying to wiggle out of his grasp.

"Exactly," he chuckles, pulling me firmly to his one-armed hug.

"It's hardly appropriate," I sigh, giving up on my struggle.

"What we did yesterday morning was hardly appropriate," he counters with another pinch to my ass cheek.

I narrow my eyes at him, but struggle to keep the smile pulling at my lips from stretching into a full-on grin. He notices. He always notices.

We're standing on the edge of a cliff a little over a mile away from the cabin. Jasper had us all wake up at the crack of dawn, declaring that we need to get to the look-out before the storm predicted by the weather service approaches. At first, I was reluctant. I had no desire to trek through the wet, cold woods on a Sunday morning when most people got to sleep in, but now – now that I'm standing here, looking out on a magnificent sight of rolling hills, miles and miles of forest, and the sound of a tumbling waterfall in the distance – I can't say I'm sorry. The view is breathtaking.

"No one was around yesterday morning," I point out and sigh in resignation. It's obvious his hand is going nowhere, and if I'm completely honest, I can't say I mind that much. Everything Edward does, whether it's deliberately sensual or not, has my body in a frenzy. It's a feeling I've grown accustomed to and one I know I will loose sooner or later. Sooner in this case, because today is the day I'll tell him the truth.

"A shame really," Edward murmurs against my neck.

"Are you a bit of an exhibitionist, Edward?" I turn my head towards him in mock surprise.

His eyes are twinkling against the backdrop of the green forest. If I ever thought Edward Cullen was beautiful, nothing could compare to the way he looks right now. I swallow thickly, but keep my eyes on his playful expression, trying hard not to look at his sexy mouth. I will kiss that mouth before he walks out of my life. Guess that will have to be today then, since I have no idea how long Edward will stick around after I drop the bombshell.

Just proud of the magnificent way you came all over my hand. Someone should have been around to witness my triumph." He waggles his eyebrows at me, and just like that, I remember why it's so easy to despise him. So arrogant. So hot.

"You're a pig." I snort and roll my eyes at myself.

Edward laughs at the irony. I retaliate by pushing my hand that was resting on his hip into the back pocket of his jeans and pinch his ass harshly.

He yelps. I grin devilishly. Charlie mumbles disapprovingly behind us.

I will never admit how good his ass feels in my hand. Is there anything about this man that is not perfect? Oh yes, he's not mine, and most certainly never will be after today.

"I would like that firm grip a little more to the front, sugar," Edward drawls softly, being mindful of the fact that we are, in fact, not alone.

"One can dream," I respond dryly.

"Do you dream of touching my cock, then?" he counters quickly. He's trying to be playful, but his voice is thick and husky, betraying his desire.

"I was referring to you." I keep my voice unimpressed, but my heart is practically beating out of my chest. That familiar tingle between my legs makes its reappearance.

"Oh, I touch my cock more than enough, thank you." He's being deliberately ignorant, which irritates and excites me.

"You've already said as much." I smirk, struggling to keep my hand motionless in the pocket of his jeans. I want to rub and squeeze and touch…

"Edward," Jasper calls from beside us. "Come check this out."

I'm pulled from my naughty thoughts as Edward nods and removes his hand from my ass. He pulls my head towards him and plants a playful kiss on the side of my mouth. His lips smack at the impact and catch me off guard. He winks and then he's gone.

I sigh heavily, watching his retracting form. I hate and love the fact that I can't control myself around him.

My eyes drift back to the scenery in front of me, and for a long moment I'm caught up in the blissful silence surrounding us.

"You're going to tell him, aren't you?" I'm not startled by Alice's voice beside me at all. I knew she would approach me soon enough.

"Yes." I nod, keeping my eyes focused in front of me.

"Why?" Once again, unsurprising.

"It feels wrong." I shrug.

"Have you guys…you know?" I turn my gaze to Alice and shake my head slightly in response before I look away again. "But you will?"

"If I don't tell him," I admit.

"Would it be so bad?"

"Would what be so bad?" I frown and look at her again.

"Sleeping with him?" Oh.

"That's not why I'm telling him," I explain, giving her a small smile. Sleeping with Edward would be bad in every possible way, but not in the way she thinks. It would be bad for the control I used to pride myself on. It would be bad for my professional career. It would be bad for every wall I was ever able to erect.

None of those reasons are relevant anymore, though. My control is shot. We've passed the boundaries of professionalism many days ago. My walls are already tumbling down. And…I want it. I want him. But not like this.

"Then why?" Alice speaks, breaking me away from my thoughts.

"Because I'm not that girl, Ali," I sigh heavily. "I'm many things – I'm a bitch, I'm a –"

"Lover and a child and a mother?" Alice finishes my sentence with a short giggle, obviously trying to alleviate some of the building tension. I shake my head at her with an exasperated smile.

"I can't sleep with him with this lie between us," I finish and turn my head forward again.

"Because it would be more than sex?" she summarizes correctly.

I nod. She pats my back. I drop my head and sigh.

"It will be for me," I admit.

"Are you in love with him?" she persists.

"No." I shake my head vehemently. "I just haven't been with anyone since Jake. I don't know how casual sex works, and I just don't think I'm built that way."

"If you tell him, you'll loose the book," Alice points out the obvious. "He'll never talk to you again." Right on the money little one, I think sarcastically as my chest constricts at her words. "Is that what you want?"

"No," I answer steadily. "But I'll survive."

"Will you?" Her voice is soft but knowing. "This time?"

I turn to frown at her. What is she getting at?

"I always land on my feet," I defend a little too passionately. The lady doth protest too much, I ponder my response bitterly.

"I wish there was another way." Her voice takes on a sad, dreamy quality. "I like him."

"There's no other way," I reply, fighting to keep my emotions at bay. I stare blankly at the sight in front of me. I notice dark clouds rolling in from the far right. The calm before the storm – in more ways than one.


"We should be heading back," Jasper announces as we pack the last of our empty plates and glasses into the cooler we dragged along to the look-out.

"I wish we didn't have to leave," Emmett sighs, dropping his head lazily on Rosalie's shoulder. I don't blame him. The last thing I want to do now is move from my spot against the rock.

"I can't carry you down," Rose warns, patting his tummy playfully.

I smile at the exchange and drop my eyes to my hands that are folded in my lap. I notice Edward's hand sliding onto my thigh, stroking it gently. I lift my gaze and find him staring off into the distance. The fact that he would do something so affectionate without thought or calculation has my insides protesting against my decision. I cover his hand with mine and entwine our fingers. His hand stills as his head turns to mine. His thoughts still seem faraway as he stares at me pensively, his thumb slowly stroking the back of my hand. He drops his head in a surprising move and once again plants a kiss on the side of my mouth, engulfing me in his delicious scent.

This time, it's not playful. This time, it's soft and sweet and seems to drag out forever. His lips are impossibly gentle, and I feel myself melting into its warmth. He pulls away slightly, and I'm startled at the storm raging in his eyes. Moving without thinking, I raise my other hand and pull his head down to mine before I plant my mouth firmly against his. He's only startled for a second, then I feel his lips return the pressure of mine. His hand clenches in my lap as he moves his mouth slightly and pulls my bottom lip between his. It's needy and liquid heat, and I'm dying inside for this man.

"Enough of that you two." I jump as Renee's voice chimes playfully through the bubble we've created. We pull away from each other, but not quite enough for it to be considered proper. I'm lost in the movement of Edward's tongue as he licks his lips languidly.

"Are you coming?" I hear Rosalie's annoyed voice next.

"Not yet, but soon," Edward responds with a sly smirk. I'm not sure whether I'm the only one that caught onto the double meaning of his words, but I can't find myself to care. His breath, fanning my face as he speaks, has me under some kind of voodoo spell. I want to lick and suck and touch all of him. I want it so much that I almost forget…almost.

"Well, don't stay up here too long," Charlie warns gruffly. "The storm is less than an hour away."

"We'll be down soon, Dad." I finally pull my gaze from Edward's and smile reassuring at Charlie. He seems uncomfortable, and I fight the urge to chuckle. Charlie has never been good with affection in any form. I'm sure he's just dying to get away before he sees something he doesn't want to.

"We're going to pack when we get to the cabin," Alice pipes in chirpily. "If you guys aren't back by the time we're done, we'll just see you in Seattle, okay?"

I nod, giving her a thankful smile. The last thing I need is for my parents to be witness to the drama that's about to unfold. I know I'll have to explain to them why Edward won't be around the last week of their visit. Telling the truth to Edward has overshadowed the truth I'll have to tell my parents. They'll understand. I should have known that from the start.

I see Rosalie narrow her eyes at me as Emmett waggles his eyebrows at Edward before they turn to make their way back.

We're alone. I feel my earlier conviction and bravery leak from my bones. I swallow thickly and nervously turn my gaze back to Edward's.

He's watching me intently. His eyes slowly roaming my face, from my eyes to my burning cheeks to my mouth. I swallow again.

"We need to talk," I finally manage to force out the words.

"That's the last think I want to do," he mumbles softly, his eyes now solely focused on my mouth.

"Well, I –"

"Unless you want to talk dirty?" He raises his eyes to mine as his mouth turns up into a wicked grin.

"No, I don't –"

"What a pity," he interrupts me again as he swiftly pulls me closer to him until I'm straddling him. I sit stiffly in his lap, refusing to meet his gaze, refusing to acknowledge the energy snapping and snarling between our bodies.

"Edward, we can't –"

"You're driving me crazy," he interrupts me once again, and I can feel the lust seeping into my demeanor as he drops his head to the crook of my neck, planting open-mouthed kisses wherever he finds exposed skin. "And that kiss?" He groans as I whimper when he runs his tongue over the shell of my ear. "Fuck, Bella."

I feel my hips roll against his and sigh heavily as my core makes contact with his hardness.

"Don't interrupt me again," I whimper as he pulls my hips even firmer against his, forcing the pace of their rotation.

"Don't stop," he groans as his hips thrust desperately against mine, his tongue lapping at my skin right below my ear. Sensory overload.

The frenzy is building again, and I know I'll have to stop him now, before it's too late.

"I have to tell you something," I manage to utter as Edward palms my ass and pushes me against him harshly.

"Not now," he growls before biting at my collarbone.

"Now," I respond stubbornly but dig my hands into his hair in contradiction.

We're writhing against each other, and I don't think I've ever enjoyed dry humping this much in my life.

I pull at his hair and force him to lift his head. His eyes are dark slits as he stares back at me with hooded lids. His breath is leaving his chest in sharp pants. His hands are flexing on my ass, dragging me against him without pause.

"We have to stop," I tell him in a voice that wouldn't convince even me.

"I disagree," he moans as his eyes roll into the back of his head.

I look down as his hands moves to the front of my jeans, aiming to loosen the top button. I notice a wet spot on his jeans where the top of his penis is pressing powerfully against the material.

The fog blanketing my common sense clears immediately. We need to stop.

"No." I jerk my hips away from his hands and push against his shoulders to get up from his lap.

"What –" Edward looks up at me in dazed confusion as I shakily find my feet. "Where are you going?"

"We have to talk." I'm starting to sound like a broken record as I frantically straighten out my shirt.

"About what?" His hands are still lying limply at his sides, as if his body and brain are not on the same page yet. His hair is disheveled from my hands tugging at it. His shirt is a rumpled mess against his torso. His jeans are straining, and that wet spot is still staring at me accusingly. Cock-tease.

"I have to tell you something," I remind him as he finally sits up straighter and runs a frustrated hand through his hair.

"Then tell me already and get the fuck back over here," he snaps.

"It's about the arrangement." I square my shoulders and take a deep breath. It's now or never.

"Ugh, Bella." He sighs in exasperation. "I'm so fucking sick of talking about this arrangement. I mean honestly," he continues, "what the fuck else can be said. We've beaten this thing to shit. We've talked about every last fucking thing. I don't want to talk about –"

"It's all a lie," I blurt out before I can stop myself, effectively putting an end to his rant. His head snaps back as his mouth drops open slightly.

Silence. Long, grueling, intense silence.

Nothing is said. We only stare. My heart is pacing at a frantic speed; my palms are clammy, my breath caught in my chest.

"What?" he finally speaks, and I'm taken aback by the hard tone in his voice.

I drop my eyes from his and shuffle my feet nervously. Shit – I don't know how to tell him this.

"No." He startles me, and I lift my eyes again. His face is an emotionless mask, but I can feel the anger rolling off him in waves. "You don't get to be all shy and unsure now."

"I lied," I say in a voice much higher than I intended, and clear my throat. "About all of it."

"Be." He stands. "More." He takes an intimidating step closer to me. "Specific."

I blink a couple of times, trying to find the words.

"I lied about your book," I finally admit, and for some ridiculously unfair reason, I feel lighter after saying it. I feel free. I chance a glance in Edward's direction, and then I feel like shit. I feel defeated. He's going to hate me.

"My book?" His voice is eerily calm. It freaks me out completely.

"I wasn't the one to pimp it to Aro." My words come out in a haste. "Jessica did. I found out. I was pissed. I wanted in. I'd read your manuscript, and I was angry because she beat me to it. My parents called. I freaked out. Alice – no wait –" I interrupt myself. "I came up with the idea to get closer to you. To subtly convince you to pick me." I squeeze my eyes closed and take a shaky breath. "I wanted in," I repeat myself pathetically but keep my eyes closed. I can't find it in me to look at him. I hate myself, but I'm sure he hates me even more.

At least I got my kiss.

After a long and painful silence, I finally open my eyes. Edward hasn't said a word, and for a split second, I panic that he may have walked away. But he didn't. He's standing rooted in the same spot, his hand rubbing his brow vigorously, his head dropped down. His shoulders are sagged, and I feel even worse for causing him to look so…tired.

"I'm sor –"

"Why are you telling me this now?" Edward suddenly asks, dropping his hand and meeting my eyes. His face is still emotionless, but his eyes are a whirlwind of emotion. It stuns me into silence.

My mouth opens and closes a couple of times, willing to speak but unable to form the words.

"I didn't want to lie anymore," I answer feebly.

"No." Edward shakes his head and laughs sardonically. "I already know about the lie, Bella. I want to know, why are you telling me this, now?"

A high pitched humming fills my ears. My heart stills in my chest. My mouth turns completely dry. I must be imagining this. There is no way on earth that Edward just told me he knows about all this. No way.

"What?" I squeak.

"I know," he deadpans, and just like that, everything I thought I knew twists and contorts into nothingness.

"How?" I'm shocked at the steadiness of my voice, at the sudden sureness of my thoughts, at the strength in my limbs as they square out.

"Jessica beat you to it, Bella." He sounds exasperated. "She told me about everything the very first day your parents arrived."

"Jessica told you?" I'm starting to sound like an echo, but somehow, repeating Edward's words makes it more real.

"She told me she pitched the book to Aro. She told me you asked Aro to keep it quiet, that I'm private or some shit like that. She said you stole the book right from under her." He stops, runs a hand through his hair and sighs.

"You knew all along and you said nothing." It's not a question but rather an observation.


"Why?" I can feel the hysteria building in the pit of my stomach.

He shrugs – his lips are tight, his eyes hard. Everything about the way he's looking at me now contradicts the heat and passion of moments ago. I want to drop my eyes to the wet spot on his jeans to remind myself that it even happened – to pull me from this alternate universe we now entered, but I don't.

"I feel like such an idiot." There's no stopping it now. The fury is building, and no matter how hard I try, there's no way I'll be able to keep it at bay. "I'm such a fucking idiot!" I shout, hearing the hills around me rudely echoing the words back to us, making it real – making it sink in.

Edward is staring at me tight jawed, his eyes conveying nothing.

"I can't believe you said nothing," I seethed, moving forward to poke him in the chest. "I can't believe you lied to me like that."

"Are you listening to yourself?" Edward finally snaps. "I'm not the one that started this fucking mess."

"You sure as hell had no problem finishing it." I feel betrayed and sad, and like a fucking hypocrite.

"You fucking lied first." Edward's voice rises in volume. We're almost full on shouting at each other now.

"Are we in kindergarten now, Edward?" I laugh hollowly. "The fact of the matter is, regardless of who told the first lie, we both followed through."

Our breathing is heavy as we stare daggers at each other, neither one willing to budge.

"You're a liar just like me. How does that feel?" I challenge bitterly.

"I'm nothing like you," Edward retorts flatly.

"You're right." I nod. "Do you know why?"

He doesn't respond.

"Because I had the fucking balls to tell you the truth before this –" I wave my hand between the two of us – "went any further. Before one of us got hurt. Before we fucked." I spit the last word like it's poison.

"Oh, how noble." Edward laughs and shakes his head, causing my anger to spike and then boil down to a low simmer. "You think just because you had the sudden urge to come clean, that it somehow makes you a better person?"

I arch an eyebrow in response. Why, yes – yes I do.

"You were lying to me, to your parents." He laughs again. I want to hit him. "I didn't actually lie. I just left you to twist yourself further into the web you've spun."

"Why bother?" I throw my hands in the air. "Why even bother, unless you –" I stop. I blink. I gasp.

Something isn't making sense. Something about the fact that he didn't come clean before doesn't make one damn bit of sense. And then it hits me like a ton of bricks.

"Oh my." I don't even finish my sentence as bile suddenly rise in my throat. "I can't believe it."

Edward stares at me silently, but I can see he knows I've figured it all out.

"So that's it, isn't it?" I feel my throat constrict in pain. "You were going to teach the boss a lesson, weren't you?" Edward at least has the decency to look bashful.

He closes his eyes, and I watch his Adam's apple bob as he swallows thickly.

I raise my hands and start a slow clap, the sound reverberating through the hilltops. Edward's eyes snap open at the noise and stare at me in horrified confusion.

"Bravo, Mr. Cullen." Somehow, without my permission, tears have escaped from my eyes and are making a slow descent down my cheeks. I ignore them.

"Bella –"

"It would appear as if the teacher has become the student." I fight to hold it together. I will not break down in front of him. I will not allow him to see how much this hurts.

"It started out that way." He ignores my last words. "But everything changed –"

"Don't." I shake my head forcefully and raise a hand to silence him. "I can't even look at you right now." I take a step back, trying to put distance between us.

My foot catches, and I fall. I'm over the cliff, and my breath whooshes from my lungs.

"Bella!" I hear Edward cry from far above me. I'm falling, and then everything goes black.

No, just kidding. I don't actually fall over the cliff, although that might be a better ending to all this shit. I simply fall on my ass – hard.

"Shit, Bella." Edward starts towards me. "Are you okay?"

"Don't come near me," I cry out in mortification, struggling to push myself back onto my feet. It feels like I broke my ass – and my ego. A sob escapes my lips as I rub my chafed hands against my thighs, my cheeks burning in embarrassment.

"Don't cry." His voice sounds pained and desperate.

"Don't pretend to care," I reply flatly and turn to walk away.

"Bella," he calls meekly behind me, causing my step to falter. I remain standing with my back to him, taking a deep breath to gather myself.

"When you told me about your dad last night, I felt like complete shit," I speak without turning around. "It was the final motivation I needed to come clean." I turn. I swallow. Edward looks crestfallen. I'm glad. "Now, I can't help but wonder." His eyes are smoldering into mine. I ignore their pull. "You said you forgave him for his lie, but I can't help but wonder whether the strain in your relationship is your fault." He frowns. I nod. "You're punishing him too, aren't you? You're teaching him a lesson too, right?" I see his face crumble; his shoulders fall. It breaks my heart, but not enough to stay. I walk away as thunder bellows in the distance. I pick up my pace. I'll avoid being engulfed in at least one storm today.


"Great," I mumble as I push the cabin door closed behind me with a shaky hand. Everyone has left, which leaves me in a very precarious position. We came with Edward's car. I fleetingly consider the possibility of calling a cab, but I hardly doubt that there's a taxi service that operates so far away in the Washington woodlands, and with the storm coming… I peak out through the window beside the front door and see the dark clouds rolling in steadily.

I'll have to wait for Edward.

The thought makes my stomach clench in trepidation. I'm done crying. I've been crying all the way down the hill, sobbing relentlessly until my throat felt raw. I cried about everything. I cried about being betrayed by Edward. I cried over being betrayed by Jacob, something I haven't done in years. I cried because ultimately, my ego has been bruised, possibly beyond repair this time.

Standing inside the foyer, seeing small drops of rain hitting against the windowpane, I just feel really, really alone. I push back another wave of tears and sniff rather unladylike. Alone and angry.

I pace for a few moments, running the course of our conversation over and over in my head. He wanted to humiliate me. He wanted to hurt me. I may have lied, but I didn't intend to hurt him. I intended to further my career and, ultimately, his. I was being deceitful, yes. But, I wasn't being cruel. No, that's all on him.

I frown as I recall his words. It started out that way, but everything changed. What changed? I pull at my hair in frustration. Why did I have to interrupt him? I want to know what the hell changed. What the hell he meant. And now, I never will. I know my parting words hit home, and I strongly doubt he'll ever forgive me for that.

Do I want him to forgive me? I laugh bitterly as I make my way upstairs.

I start throwing my clothes haphazardly into my suitcase. I hate him. I hate him for making me feel this way. For making me want him. For making me feel like a fucking fool for the second time in my life.

Who cares if he never forgives me? I sure as hell will never forgive him that.

I'm done.

Once my suitcase is packed, I strain to hear whether Edward has come into the cabin, but the place is completely silent apart from the heavy beating of my heart in my ears. I rub at my eyes. I'm exhausted.

I decide to lie down on top of the covers of the bed, pulling my legs up to my chest and wincing at the pain in my back caused by my earlier fall. For a brief second I worry about where Edward is as yet another bolt of lightning flashes behind the drawn curtains. And then, within mere moments, I fall asleep.


I jump as a sudden flash of lightning reverberates through the cabin.

"Shit," I mumble as I sit up and wipe at my sleepy eyes. The room has fallen completely dark. How long have I been asleep? I frown as I reach for my cell phone to check the time.


"Shit," I mumble again, frowning at the bright digits, blinking profusely to try and make sense of my surroundings. I've been sleeping for hours.


"Edward!" I call as I suddenly jump off the bed. Where the hell is he? I stumble down the dark corridor, grabbing onto the staircase railing as I make my way downstairs frantically.

"Edward!" I shout again, spinning around in my spot at the foot of the stairs. The cabin is completely dark and silent. Wherever Edward is, it's not here.

I run to the front door, throwing it open and gasping as a gush of wind and rain assaults me. I blink into the darkness. His car is still here. I turn back into the cabin, using all my force to push the door shut behind me against the resistance caused by the howling wind.

"Edward!" I call one last time, desperate to hear his response. He can't still be out there. Surely he wouldn't still be out there in this weather. Maybe he fell and hit his head against something on the way back? He could be lying dead somewhere. I feel myself starting to hyperventilate as every dreadful scene flashes in my mind.

I run back to our room on shaky legs in search of my cell phone I dropped there.

"Please be okay, please be okay," I chant under my breath as I press the speed dial to Alice.

"Hey, Bells." She singsongs. "Is everything all right?"

"Have you heard anything from Edward?" I ask in panic, my voice breaking.

"No," she answers slowly. "Isn't he there with you?" I stare blankly in the distance, barely hearing her voice. He hasn't called them. He hasn't taken a cab to Seattle. He's still out there.

"Alice, I don't know where he is," I ramble. "We had a fight and I left him on top of the hill and fell asleep." A strangle cry breaks from my lips. "What if he got hurt, Alice? There is a huge storm outside and he should be here and I don't…"

"Calm down, Bella." Alice's voice gently pulls me from my frantic state. I'll have to go look for him. "Are you still at the cabin?"

I could grab a flashlight and go look for him. I feel a sob build in my chest as I think about the possibility of never seeing him again. I shake my head to clear my mind from such thoughts and remember that Alice asked me a question.

"Yes, and I don't know where –" I hear the front door open and close with a laud bang.

"Edward!" I shout, running towards the staircase again.

"Oh, shit." I breathe as I see him standing with his back against the front door, completely and utterly soaked to the bone.

"I found him," I whisper into the phone. "I'll call you later, Alice." I drop the phone from my hand as my arm falls to my side.

I'm frozen. The room is dark, but the lightning flashing outside casts enough light in the room to catch brief glances of him – and he's looking straight at me.

"Edward," I whisper, willing my feet to move. They do, eventually, but it feels like I have lead in my shoes. I stumble my way down the stairs, keeping my eyes on his all the way there and stop a few feet away from him. He must be freezing, I realize as my eyes drop to his chest. His shirt is clinging to his hard muscles, his pants practically painted to his lean legs. I can see him shiver – his abdominal muscles quivering beneath the wet material. I shiver just looking at him, even though the cabin is warm and toasty inside. I raise my eyes to his slowly, and feel heat permeating every cell of my body once my gaze locks on his.

His eyes are so dark, his gaze fiery and intense. I curse the fact that he's able to make me forget about everything by just looking at me. I'm lost in the heat of his gaze, and just like so many times over the last couple of weeks, I forget that it means nothing.

"Where have you been?" I feel my irrational anger burning like acid in my chest.

He doesn't answer, but at least he moves. He pushes himself away from the door and slowly starts stalking toward me.

"What's wrong with you?" I frown, stepping back in fright. Something about his demeanor, about the dark look in his eyes has my heart racing in excitement and feeling a slight tinge of fear.

I lower my eyes to his chest, unable to keep my eyes on his. He stops inches away from me, and I feel his hot breath around me, and the distinct smell of Edward and rain.

"Look at me," he finally speaks – his voice scratchy. For a moment I consider turning and running away from his intensity, but I'm lodged to the spot, unable to tear myself away from him.

Slowly, I lift my head and meet his gaze. My breath leaves my body. He's so close, and yet, not close enough. I resent the fact that he turns me into a pathetic puddle. I want to pound at his chest with my fists for so effortlessly breaking my steadfast resolve, for making me worry about him when I shouldn't.

"Are you okay?" I find myself whispering.

"Don't pretend that you care." He throws my earlier words back at me, but the corner of his lips twitch.

I frown at the fact that he finds my concern funny. He has no idea how worried I was. I thought he was lying somewhere in the forest hurt…or maybe even dead. I don't tell him this. I don't know how without loosing myself in him completely.

I can literally feel my face pull into an emotionless mask. I can feel my walls erect themselves again. This is all still a game to him, and I don't want to play anymore.

I'm done.

"I don't." The cold flatness of my voice surprises even me. I give him one last leveling look, and then turn to walk away. I don't get very far though. I've hardly taken a step when I feel his fingers curl around my wrist, stopping me midstride.

"You don't?" He murmurs softly.

I feel my shoulders sag slightly.

"Stop lying," he says in a voice just above a whisper.

"I'm not –" I start, but my words trail off as he pulls at my wrist and forces me to turn back towards him. I stumble, and my hands reach out reflexively, landing on his chest to stop me from falling over.

I stare up at him in surprise and anger. Once I find my footing, I try to push away from him. His hands snake around my waist and hold me in place.

I'm done.

"Don't force me to make a liar out of you once again, Bella," he warns darkly, his eyes boring into mine.

My mouth goes completely dry. My breathing has become labored, matching his. I feel my world tilt and then I know – there's no getting away from this – no escape.

I'm undone.

"Do it," I challenge, digging my fingers into his chest, enjoying the way his muscles flinch and ripple under my onslaught. I raise my hands and grab hold of the hair at the back of his neck. "Show me," I dare, taking a step closer to him until our bodies meet. The cold wetness of his clothes seeps into mine, but all I can feel is his heat. All I crave is him. "Make me a liar."

I hear Edward groan moments before his lips crash into mine.

I'm so, so, so undone.


Don't keep your thoughts from me – it's unfair and I really kinda adore them! ; )

With love…

Your Mistress