SM owns Twilight, but Bella's theories are all mine.


"Well, there is one you may not have thought of." He pauses a moment, and my insides tighten and flutter as I wonder where he's going. "You could move in here. With me."

Chapter 28

I shouldn't be as surprised as I am, but I can't help it.

Not that I hadn't thought about it; quite the contrary. I thought about it almost every time one of us had to go home. I understood that unquenchable desire to be with someone, which was one of the reasons I didn't want to get in the way of Alice and Jasper living together.

Only it was different with them. They've been friends since school started two years ago. With the way their relationship had progressed quickly, it was a natural next step. But I've only been dating Edward for two months. This wasn't a natural progression—this was Edward trying to efficiently solve a problem.

I run my fingers along his now scratchy jawline, kissing him softly because I need to. "Why do you have to be so perfect?" I whisper. Why do you have to make me love you even more?

He tightens his hold, dropping another sweet peck on my lips. "Is that a yes?"

I hesitate, struggling to find the right words…And failing miserably.

He pulls back, eyes questioning as they scan my face. I start to chew at my lip under his scrutiny as I watch realization creep across his beautiful features.

He reads me too well. I hate it as much as I love it.

The die-hard romantic side of me—the side that believes in soul mates and reads fanfiction for happily-ever-afters—is all starry-eyed, already adding feminine touches to his apartment and thinking about all the many ways I want to "christen" his beautiful, neglected kitchen. But the practical, responsible side of me is pushing the other out of the way. It's the side of me that couldn't stand not being an equal contributor in a relationship and would feel like a freeloader. It's the part that reminds me I never wanted to live with someone without some kind of "official" commitment.

It's the same side of me that hopes for peace between him and Charlie and knows deep down that shacking up with Edward this early in the game is not the right way to accomplish it, no matter how altruistic and generous his intentions are.

"You have no idea how wonderful that offer sounds to me," I hedge softly. Not having to say goodbye? Waking up next to him every morning? Good God, I want it so badly. "But…this isn't the way I want that to happen." I hold my breath, not sure how I expect him to react, but he doesn't look surprised. His expression is frustratingly neutral but definitely accepting, and he just gives a solitary nod in response.

"You know, I have this theory that the easiest solution isn't the right solution," I begin cautiously, hoping to make him understand my rationale. "That sometimes, what seems like the path of least resistance at the time makes things harder in the long run. Sort of like using duct tape to fix a leaky pipe. Even though it temporarily stops the leak, it doesn't repair the problem, and just when you think it's going to hold, you have a burst pipe and a flooded bathroom…"

His lip twitches and he tilts his head. He's giving me that "You really are special" look. I hate the way he just sits quietly and gives me enough rope to hang myself.

"Okay, maybe that wasn't the best example," I say with a small huff, but then I think of something he can relate to. "It's like how you take the extra time to suture as meticulously as you do. Because there's no reason to do a quick and half-assed job when if you take a few extra minutes to do it the right way, the final result is so much better."

Good God, I hope I'm making sense.

I can see him taking it all in, processing and dissecting it in his mind.

"You understand, don't you?" My voice sounds almost pleading.

"Yeah, I do," he finally replies, and I can see in his eyes that he really does. I'm sure he doesn't realize all the reasons, but he knows enough. He knows me.

"Do you believe that everything happens for a reason?" I ask, running my fingers through the soft hair at the base of his neck.

"Why do I have a feeling this is going to be good?" An amused grin pulls at his lips as he licks them.

Ugh, those damn lips. Is he trying to distract me? "No, I'm serious. Because I really do."

"Well, I believe in choice. I don't accept that our fate is just mapped out for us and that we have no control over what happens to us," Edward replies dryly, his brows pulling together.

"I'm not saying that. It's just that I think certain events happen in our lives for specific reasons, even though we may not know what those reasons are until much later. And in some instances, the true reason may not be for us at all. It's that whole butterfly effect…one thing happens, and it causes a whole chain of events that lead to something much, much more important. Like your accident."
He eyes me skeptically, and I'm praying he doesn't think I'm a whackjob. "If you hadn't gotten into that car accident, would you have ended up in New York anyway?"

He considers it for a moment and then shakes his head. "No. I'd originally planned on going to med school in California, either Stanford or University of California. But that wasn't a possibility without a car."

"Exactly. And if you never had that accident, I never would have met you. And that, Dr. Cullen, would have been a tragedy."

His face softens with a glowing smile, and it warms me through and through. "Absolutely."

"That's why I really believe there's a reason for this whole shit storm of events to happen. And as much as I'd love to think that it was all so that I could move in with you, my gut tells me it's not." My eyes cast downward, my fingers toying with his shirt.

I'm praying that though he may not necessarily agree, he at least respects my cockeyed point of view. He sighs and leans in, resting his forehead against mine, and I brush my nose against his. "I want to do things the right way with you, Bella. So I guess we're just going to have to wait and see what that reason is," he concedes, and relief and pure adoration flood through me with his acceptance.

And somehow, in the grand scheme of things, I know I'm doing the right thing. For both of us.

XXX

EPOV

My pace is brisk as I head over to the residents' lounge for what will be my last night of call for my residency at Queens General, knowing that Bella will be waiting for me. She hasn't visited me on call since she started her Internal Medicine rotation four weeks ago, and I've missed her company terribly.

I'm greeted with the most inviting sight as I open the door. Bella is seated on the couch, and my eyes are instantly drawn to her long, crossed, and bare legs. I'm not used to seeing her in a skirt, and I'm liking it a bit too much.

"Took you long enough."

My lips curl into a grin that matches the mischievous one on her pretty face.

She rises from the couch and greets me with a warm, enthusiastic kiss, wrapping her arms around me and pressing her soft body into mine as she teases my mouth with her talented tongue.
This is no sweet kiss hello—this is flat-out, come-and-get-meseduction. My dick is already up for the invitation, but as much as I love her passion and the fire she stokes in me, the last thing I need is to work with blue balls.

Been there, done that.

I gently bring her hands down to her sides and break the kiss. Her cheeks are flushed, and she's still wearing that devilish grin. "I miss being on call with you," she murmurs, and returns to tormenting me with her lips and tongue. Her hands slip out of my grasp as her mouth distracts me, and I feel them toying with the waistband of my scrubs.

Fuuuuuuuck….

"I have a confession to make," Bella whispers hotly into my ear. She drags her lips and teeth along my jaw and throat, drowning me in lust, and gently pulls me toward the on-call room. I'm breathless, trying to keep my head straight, but she's challenging every ounce of control I have.

"Hmmm?" I ask, curious but distracted as she gently nips at my neck.

"All that time we were on call together, I just wanted to molest you," she says with a provocative lift of her brow. "I'm ashamed to admit all of the things I wanted to do to you."

My whole body heats up as my imagination runs wild, carnal desire betraying common sense. I want to spank her for teasing me like this when she knows I can't do anything about it. "You're going to have to tell me all about it someday. When I'm not working."

"I'd much rather show you," she teases, before she breaks away and slips inside the small call room, peering coyly over her shoulder as the heavy door closes behind her.

Oh, for chrissakes….

"Bella," I call firmly through the door, refusing to go in after her. It opens, but only just enough for her skirt to fly out before closing again.

Fucking hell. I'm going to kill her.

"Come on, this isn't fair," I practically groan. "You know I can't do this. I could get paged at any time." The door opens again, and this time her shirt is discarded. I scrub at my face and claw at my hair as I pick up her abandoned clothing. I can't be doing this.

I really, really can't.

She peeks her head out again and tosses a pink bra at my chest.

Fuck it!

My resolve snaps, and I throw the door open. A triumphant and virtually bare Bella pounces immediately, pressing me into the wall and pulling at the tie of my scrub pants, kissing me hungrily.

Any fears of being paged are pushed into the recesses of my brain, since my dick is making all the decisions from here. Her mouth and body feel too fucking amazing, and I've wanted this for too long—I'll take my chances.

All those nights she tormented me on call with inviting glances and heated kisses that had me starving for more of what I couldn't have.

All those times I had to be the responsible one and put on the brakes.

All those times I wanted to follow her into her call room. All the ways I imagined taking her.

It's payback time, baby.

I flip our positions, trapping her against the wall as I push down her underwear. Once she's managed to step out of them, I let my scrubs pool around my feet, slipping my fingers between her thighs and moaning into her mouth when I feel how slick and ready she is. I lift her legs, wrapping them around me as I support her body and sink myself into her.

Best. Feeling. Ever.

"God, yes," she whimpers, dropping her head into my neck, clinging to me as I fervently move in and out of her. And fuck, she feels so good. She's wild and raw, clawing at my back, sinking her teeth into my shoulder to muffle her cries, showing me how much she's wanted this, too.

"Harder," she pants. "More." Yessssssss. I pick up the pace, losing myself in her flesh, the pleasure escalating at a dangerous and exponential pace. She lifts her head to meet my eyes, and the way she looks at me almost does me in. My girl is gorgeous. Sculpted cheekbones heated and flushed, lush lips swollen from my kiss, and rich, hooded eyes filled with passion, but so much more.

Trust.

Love.

I have to kiss her, the need to be completely connected with her overwhelming me.

But then...

"Fuck!" I practically growl, and I freeze, my head dropping backward as I try to contain the frustration exploding within as the exasperating sound assaults my ears. I have to suppress the urge to bury my fist in the wall.

Yet Bella is unfazed. "Ignore it," she says breathlessly, pivoting her hips into me.

But I just can't, not now. I'm summoning the will to disengage myself, but she just tightens her legs, keeping me in place like a vise grip. "I said ignore it. It's just Emmett being an ass."

"What?" I'm confused. There's not enough blood flow to my brain to make sense of it all.

"I bribed him. He's covering your call until seven," she mutters hurriedly, returning her lips to mine.

I pull my head back with a grin. "I fucking love you, you know that?"

"Yeah, I do." She beams back at me, squeezing me with her arms, her legs, and her incredible pelvic walls. "Now stop wasting time and show me."

My pleasure.

"Hold on." She lets out a squeal as I lift her away from the hard wall and carry her to the bed. If I have another hour, I'm taking full advantage of every minute and showing her just how much I love her and how many wonderfully depraved ways I can do it.

XXX

We lay there in the seclusion of the call room, our bodies sated and basking in an epic and exhausted post-coital high. I run my fingers through Bella's hair, hearing her moan at my ministrations. Her feet run patterns up and down my shins.

"You okay?" I ask.

"Mmm, just don't stop," she purrs.

I can't help but smile and tighten my hold on her. "So, how did you manage to bribe Emmett to cover call?"

"Emmett? Oh, I promised him pot roast and chocolate chip cookies. He's really too easy. I was expecting at least somewhat of a battle, but he was a complete lay-down at the mention of the cookies."

She'd asked him to cover call so we could supposedly have dinner out somewhere in peace—not that we actually made it to dinner yet. I have a feeling he knew damn well we weren't going out anywhere, and I fully intended to thank the fucker properly for his little interruption next time we're at the gym.

My stomach lets out an obnoxious rumble, causing my girl to giggle.

"You seem to have a monster in your belly. There's dinner in the lounge refrigerator. Do you want to grab it? There's something naughty about eating in bed, even if it is just an on-call cot."

"Tell me you have cookies in there, too."

She rolls her eyes with a playful grin. "Why don't you go find out?"

I jump out of the bed, bare-assed, practically tripping over myself to get my scrub pants on quickly. Bella calls out for me to bring some back to her, but just as I'm pulling a goldmine of cookies and what looks like some kind of quiche out of the fridge, my pager sounds off again, and my heart sinks a little knowing this time it's not Emmett.

XXX

It's not a busy night, and after the first page to the ER for what turns out to be a ruptured ovarian cyst, I enjoy some quality time with Bella. We leisurely enjoy her chocolate chip cookies at Starbucks after the delicious vegetable and Swiss quiche she made for dinner.

I eventually do get one more call to L&D around ten o'clock, and I'm disappointed that our night has to end...until she assures me she's not going home tonight. And somehow, it's just what I need to hear. It allows me to savor every detail of what will likely be my last delivery and say goodbye to this chapter of my life, knowing something so much bigger is just beginning and waiting for me in the call room.

When I finally return, I find Bella reading in bed. She welcomes me with sleepy eyes and a smile that warms me from within, and she turns down the blanket next to her.

Wordlessly, I shut the light and peel off my scrub top as she puts away her book, and I climb under the covers to join her. She wriggles around until she finds "her spot," tucking her head into the crook of my neck and curling her body around mine into the groove she seems to have carved into my body for herself. I bury my nose in her hair as I wrap around her, submerging myself in pure comfort. Neither of us can move an inch in the cramped confines of the twin cot intended for one. It's perfect.
It's so clear to me that this is what I want every night. I want to end each day coming home to Bella and start my day waking up with her. And that's what will keep me going when we're apart. Knowing that someday, this is what my days will end with—even if I have to wait a while for it.

She's worth it.

Bella has made everything that's happened in my life make sense and fit together. Deciding to go to New York, my career choice, and even my accident all somehow led me to this amazing woman who seems to have been created to be my other half.

"So, when are your parents coming in for graduation?" I ask, trying to keep her awake a little longer.

"Friday." Her tone says it's something she isn't looking forward to, and I know it's because of me. I can't allow that.

"Hey," I murmur, lifting her face to look at me. "I'm looking forward to meeting them," I assure her, ignoring the uneasy flutter in my gut at the thought of it.

Her eyes narrow. "Oh, I'm sure you are."

"I am," I insist with a light chuckle, enjoying the feel of her hair slipping through my fingers.

"They're going to have to get to know me sooner or later."

Bella catches her lip between her teeth, as if to contain the smile that blooms across her perfect mouth. "Oh really? I'm warning you right now, that voodoo-sex-god thing you've got going on isn't going to work all that well on my dad."

Voodoo-sex-what?

I laugh out loud. Oh, my girl. My beautiful, crazy girl. "Well, I'll just have to work a little harder, then." Gross understatement.

"I have all the faith in the world in you," she whispers with a kiss. I wish I knew what I ever did to deserve her blind confidence, but I'm so grateful for it. It means everything to me. "And I can't wait to show my father what an upstanding citizen the derelict he used to know has turned into."

More like the grown-up derelict who's stealing his daughter. Meeting the parents of the woman you love will be nerve-wracking enough as it is, but adding a police badge and my history with the chief takes it to a whole new level. Now I'm almost grateful that Bella declined my offer to live with me, because I'm certain that wouldn't earn me any points with him. I don't even realize I'm gritting my teeth until Bella's fingertips gingerly stroke my tense jaw.

"Edward, my dad's a good man. Overbearing and overprotective, but still a good guy."

"I know." I breathe her in, letting her ground me. "When are you going back with them?"

"Monday." I can hear the sadness in in her voice, and it makes me wish I could pause time.

Time is such a motherfucker. But I can still buy a little more of it.

"Good to know, because I'll be joining you. I want you to get to know my parents, too."


A/N: Endless thanks to Pennyloafer, Beccagold, Prettyflour, NKubie, Twilover76, Twilly, Nuttyginger, and beta extraordinaire mcc101180. Without them, this story would never get done.

And always, thanks to you lovely, lovely peeps in fanficland. I appreciate you guys more than you could ever know :)