WhatsMyNom is my lovely beta.
It's eight in the evening and I'm restless. Jasper isn't home and I have no idea where he is. His job, teaching music classes to little kids at a ritzy private school, ended hours ago. He didn't mention plans, but who knows? Maybe Maria got her claws in him and is torturing him with three more hours of dead relationship dissection.
There's nothing good on TV. I think about going out, but it's a Monday, so I quickly discard that idea. I think about calling people and scroll through my contacts . Most of the guys I was friends with in college left town when they graduated, and the ones that are still here aren't really that much fun to hang out with these days. They've moved on to other stuff. They have jobs and fiancées and mortgages. I have nothing in common with them anymore.
I skim past the girls in my cell phone and rule out each one in turn. Girls that will want too much, like Maria. Girls that I never should have hooked up with in the first place. And the ones that I was friends with and liked are the same as my guy friends now. They've moved on and settled down. No time for or interest in guys like me.
It's starting to feel like I'm the only one left here, in some sort of suspended animation and I wonder when exactly it was that life passed by me so completely. Then again, that life, back when I was a business major on a track with a plan, seems like somebody else's life now anyway. I suppose in reality, I'm the one who left it behind.
I'm bored and restless and the longer I sit here alone, the darker my thoughts get. I need to do something, talk to someone. I keep going back to Bella. It's been two days. Long enough? I don't care. Long enough. I hit send.
Her voice is hesitant when she answers, probably because she doesn't recognize my number. "Hello?"
"Um, it's Edward. From… the other night?"
"Oh. Hi. Wow." Her voice is a little breathy and stunned. It makes me smile because I just shocked the hell out of her. I like defying her expectations.
"You didn't think I was going to call, did you?"
"No! I mean… well, yeah, I didn't really. What's up?"
I chuckle a little. "What are you doing?"
"Right now? Working. Well, my shift is about to start."
I picture her in the same black shirt and pants she wore to work on Saturday. I picture taking them off her. I have to take a deep breath before I can speak again and I hope that I don't sound like a disgusting creeper panting on the phone.
"You want to hang out later?"
"I'm on till last call."
"So? Come over after." I drop my voice a little and talk softer, trying to lure her in just the way I did on Saturday. She's so brusque and skittish. It's like soothing a wild animal talking to her.
She sighs and pauses for a minute and I resist the urge to fist-pump, because I know she's thinking about it. I know this is probably as difficult a decision for her as Saturday was, because there's no mistaking what this is about. I'm asking her to come over to my place at two in the morning. We're not going out to dinner or any other romantic shit. I'm asking her to come over here and sleep with me again. I hold my breath, waiting to see if she will.
"It will be really late," she says softly. I can hear her resolve weakening.
"I don't care. I'm just hanging out at home. Come over whenever you get done."
"I don't know…"
"Come on," I coax. "Just come over. I want to see you again."
Another sigh and a pause. I hold my breath. "I'll call you if I'm not too tired when I'm done."
I smile broadly, even though she can't see it. "Okay. Call me. I'll be up."
She exhales hard. "Talk to you later."
Once I hang up, I do fist-pump. Just once.
I lied when I said I'd be up. I watch TV and end up dozing off at some point. My phone buzzing on the coffee table wakes me up.
"Hey," I answer.
"Hey. You still awake?"
I rub the heel of my hand into my eye. "Yeah, I'm up. Are you coming over?
She pauses for a while before she answers. "Yeah. I'll be there in a few minutes."
"Great. See you soon."
I scurry around, grabbing Jasper's dirty t-shirt off the back of the couch and my sneakers by the front door. I don't know why I'm cleaning up. It's not like we're hanging out in here. Not if I have anything to say about it anyway.
A few minutes later, there's a soft knock at the door, just three quick raps. When I open it, Bella's standing there in her uniform of bartender black, her hand fisted around the strap of her bag on her shoulder. Her eyes are wide and she looks nervous. I smile broadly, hoping to relax her.
"Hey. Come in."
"Hi." She smiles, but it's tight and polite.
"Can I get you a drink? I know you just spent all night around alcohol, but do you want a beer?"
"Actually, yeah. A beer would be good."
She follows me into the kitchen and I fish one out of the fridge for her. She twists the top off herself. Of course.
"How was work?"
She shrugs. "The usual. Except no pushy patron pouring his drinks out in the bathroom all night to get my attention."
"I'm sorry to hear that. Or maybe I'm glad. I don't know. You work with your friend Mike tonight?"
She's taking a long swig of her beer, and still manages to roll her eyes in the middle of it. "He's not my friend, no matter how much he wishes otherwise."
"I was picking up on that. Poor guy."
"Ugh. If you had to avoid his clammy grabby hands as often as I do, you'd have no pity."
"You need to unleash those mad ninja fighting skills that you were boasting about on him."
I shrug and shift my weight so I'm a little closer to her. She's leaning back on the kitchen counter. She's relaxed considerably since she came in and right now she's almost smiling.
"Well, you were boasting about them to me."
"I was warning you." She pokes her beer bottle at my chest, grinning.
"Hey, and didn't I turn out to be completely harmless?"
She gives me a long look then cocks her eyebrow at me in that really cute way I like. "Harmless? I don't know if I'd go that far."
"Well, not deadly." I smile and lean down, until my face is close to hers.
She gives me a contemplative look. "No, not deadly. Just a little dangerous."
I reach out and run a finger down her forearm, the first time I've touched her since she got here.
"I'm glad you came over."
She looks down at my hand. I watch her lowered lashes make shadows on her pale cheeks. Her pouty bottom lip is wet from her beer and I want to lick it. "I think I might be, too," she whispers.
I take a step into her, until I'm almost up against her, pinning her to the counter. She looks up, eyes a little hazy, mouth barely open. I reach out to hold onto her hips.
"Oh, you'll be glad. I'll make sure of it."
God, all I do is brag to this girl about how I'm going to rock her world. But I'm pretty sure I did it the other night and I'm even more sure I can do it again tonight.
I lean in and kiss her. She's warm and there's the bitter bite of beer on her tongue. She reaches out blindly to the side and sets her beer on the counter before reaching up to grasp the back of my neck. Her fingertips feel cool from her bottle and it feels amazing when she runs them through the short hair on the back of my neck. It makes me groan and deepen the kiss immediately, but Bella follows me in, kissing back with just as much enthusiasm.
I really like kissing her. I love her mouth and how she kisses me. Soft, sweet nips and presses alternating with deep and hot. I'm so turned on and I never get so turned on just from kissing. Maybe it's the dance I've had to do around her, the way I've had to work so hard to worm my way in. It heightens the suspense, so that when I finally do touch her, even just a kiss, it's enough to make me explode.
Sliding my hands down from her waist to her ass, I lift until she's sitting on the counter. I drag my hands down her thighs to her knees and slowly push them apart, making room for myself. She lets me in and then wraps her legs around my hips. She might have been hesitant the first night, but tonight it's clear that she came over here with one intention, the exact one I have. I can tell by the way she hooks her calves around the backs of my thighs and pulls me in tighter, the way her hands twist in my hair and pull, the way she grinds herself into me.
I've got my hands up the back of her shirt. I'm not groping her, not yet. My hands are just splayed across her bare back, pulling her into me. My fingertips are brushing the bottom edge of her bra and I'm just about to move up and unhook it when I hear muted laughter and a key turning in our lock.
Bella gasps and freezes. I reach down to grab her hips and hold her still. It's just Jasper and I don't want her getting all freaked out and awkward. I don't even move out of the cage of her legs, even though she's loosened her grip and put some space in between us.
I hear Jasper's voice call out, "Alice, wait up!"
A girl stumbles into the hallway just outside the kitchen door. She's laughing, and Jasper is behind her just a second later, laughing, too. She's nearly doubled over she's laughing so hard, and Jasper reaches out a hand to her waist to steady her. She's a tiny thing, with a swing of short black hair half-obscuring her face. I give Jasper a questioning look just as he glances up and notices me and Bella in the kitchen.
Bella leans in and whispers in my ear. "I thought he called her Maria the other night."
"That's not Maria," I whisper back.
"Oh, shit! Sorry, Edward. I didn't know you'd be here. Or be up. Or have company."
I chuckle. "No problem. You remember Bella from the other night?"
"Right, Bella. Hey, how are you?"
She's still got her hands resting on my shoulders and I'm standing between her thighs and Jasper asks how she is. I suppress an eye-roll. Bella gives him a tight nod. "Good. You?"
"Good. We were just going to… oh, shit. This is Alice. Alice, this is Edward and his, um, friend, Bella."
Alice sobers up and stands upright. "Oh, you're Edward! Jasper's told me so much about you! Nice to meet you."
Then I smile and shoot Jasper a look. Really? Because he hasn't told me a thing about you. But all I say is, "Nice to meet you, Alice."
"Alice just started teaching at the Academy," he says, referencing the school where he teaches his music classes. "A bunch of us took her out for a drink after work and the night just got away from us."
"So far away!" Alice sings. She must be talking about some inside joke because they look at each other and they both bust up laughing.
Jasper's laughter finally trails off. "So, we'll just get out of your way."
"No, no. We were just…" I glance at Bella to make sure she's still on board with what I'm about to say. She smiles and drops her eyes. "Heading to my room."
I step back and take her hand, helping her hop down off the counter. We step around Jasper and this girl, Alice. Bella gives them a little wave.
Nice to meet you," she murmurs.
"You, too!" Alice says.
Inside, I'm groaning at how this must look to Bella. Jasper was with one girl at the bar and is dragging in a different girl, a complete stranger, home with him tonight. It's two in the morning and I've asked Bella over just to have sex with her. Jasper and I don't come out of this looking too good. Neither one of us sleeps around as much as this makes us seem like we do. But Bella's not bolting, so maybe she doesn't care.
"We'll keep it down," Jasper murmurs with a smirk.
"So will we," I say, reaching out to punch his bicep as I pass him.
I take Bella's hand and lead her down the hall to my room. As I shut the door and turn on the bedside lamp, Bella wanders over to my desk, glancing idly at the stuff scattered across it. There's not much. My laptop, a paperback I was reading, some bills. I don't really work or study here and it shows. It's not the room of a college student anymore. Now I'm just some guy.
"Sorry about that," I say, not sure why I'm feeling the need to apologize. "We're not really…" And there's no good way to end that sentence.
But Bella just smiles and shrugs. "You don't owe me an explanation." She crosses back over to me and puts a hand on my shoulder, squeezing slightly.
"Well, we're not as bad as all that made us look." I wave a hand back towards the kitchen.
"You seem like a nice guy, Edward." Her delivery is completely neutral, and I'm not sure how to take that. She doesn't seem to expect anything of me, which is a good thing, I think, since I have nothing to give. She appears to be in this for just what it is. And I guess I'm glad about that. She seems pretty cool and I'm surprised that she's not more demanding, asking for more from me. She seems like the kind of girl who'd want more.
But maybe it's just what she said by the car the other night. It's been a long time. Maybe she's just lonely and wants to feel good. I have very little to offer, but I know I can make her feel good. So I guess I'm okay with being her feel-good guy, if that's what she wants. I'm more than okay with her being my feel-good girl. She makes me feel really good.
"Not too nice, I hope," I finally say, running my hands down her back to grab her ass and pull her into me.
"No, not too nice," she whispers as I duck my head to kiss the side of her neck. I back us up until her calves hit the side of the bed and we fall forward in a tangle. I don't give her any time to regroup, I just attack. I'm kissing and stroking and pulling her shirt off her before she's even caught her breath.
Tonight is faster, harder. We're not entirely strangers at this point. And we both know how good this will be, so we waste no time getting to it. She doesn't need any coaxing or reassurance and she pulls her clothes off herself when I take too long to do it. She pulls at mine too, and once I'm naked, she's not shy about running her hands all over me.
I'm not as tightly-wound as I was the other night, so I let her touch me. She grasps me and strokes hard and I fall back on the bed, eyes closed. She's not gentle about it, but I don't want her to be. I want to take her without apology, so it's only fair that she takes what she wants from me, too.
As good as her hands feel on me, I don't want tonight to be about that so I push her back and do what I want to her. I taste all of her—her breasts, her hard little nipples, the taut, smooth skin of her stomach. I put my mouth between her thighs, like I've wanted to. She fists one hand in my hair and one in her own, eyes screwed shut, until I'm holding her hips down and she's crying out, thrashing underneath me.
The rest is an urgent blur. We're desperate and grabbing at each other. I'm on top of her, with her knee pushed nearly to her chest, and I'm so, so deep. I'm behind her and she's on her knees, her hands hanging on to the headboard. I'm on my back as she straddles me and she comes again while she's on top of me. And finally, I throw her back down on her back and push myself into her frantically until my whole body feels like it explodes inside of her.
When it's done, we're both sweaty and gasping for air. I feel euphoric and wasted. My muscles are shaky. I don't even feel like I can stand up for a few minutes. I slide my hand across the sheets, looking for her. I find her wrist and hold onto it loosely, a wordless thanks for that experience. She's pulling in deep breaths, eyes closed, face turned up to the ceiling.
Some endless time later, she groans and rolls to her side, hunting on the floor for her clothes again.
"Stay put," I rasp out, because I really like sleeping curled up around her softness.
She sighs, sounding just as shaky and worn-out as me. It's the middle of the night and she just worked a shift at the bar. She shouldn't be driving home anyway. "I have class tomorrow."
"So set the alarm on your phone. Just sleep here. It's late."
Her exhaustion must win over because she grabs the t-shirt I was wearing and shrugs it on before disappearing into the bathroom for a minute. When she comes back, she falls heavily onto the bed and I pull her by the waist until her back is tucked up against my front. Her hair smells nice and I bury my face in it. I have no control over the low groan of pleasure that escapes me as I settle in against her. Her soft answering chuckle is the sound I fall asleep to.
I must sleep like the dead because it feels like just minutes later when I come to a groggy semi-consciousness with Bella shifting beside me. She's wiggling out from under my arm, scooting towards the edge of the bed.
"Jesus," she mutters, "you're like a full-body human Snuggie."
I smile and consider saying something snarky back. I roll onto the warm spot that she's left and sink back into sleep instead.
When I open my eyes again, Bella is moving around my room in a rush, dressing and talking softly on her phone.
"No, I'll be there. I might be a few minutes late. You have the notes on the outline, right? Okay, good, so you can start and I'll just jump in when I get there."
She's got her phone tucked under her chin as she buttons up her shirt. She gets to the one second from the bottom and curses quietly when she realizes it's missing, a casualty of last night.
"I have to go. I'll see you soon…" She chuckles in response to something said on her phone. "Yeah, we'll talk about that later. Much later. 'Kay, bye."
She shuts off her phone and spins to stuff it into her bag and spots me, awake.
"Hey," I say.
"Um, hey," she mumbles, gathering up some of her things that spilled out of her bag.
"I had fun last night."
She doesn't look up, but I swear her cheeks get pink. It's cute. "Me, too."
"No time for coffee, huh?" I ask.
She glances up quickly in surprise and then looks back down, hooking her hair behind her ear. "No, sorry. I have to meet with my study group before class and I still have to go home and…" She trails off and waves a hand at herself. Then she rakes her hand through her hair, pulling it off her face. I think about how good it smelled last night and I wonder if my pillow still smells of her. But smelling my pillow would be decidedly weird, so I just watch as she shrugs into her jacket and pulls her shoes on.
"Can I call you again?"
She closes her eyes and lets out a little bark of laughter. "Sure, yeah. Okay. Why not?"
"Hey." I reach out and grab her hand. "Do you feel weird about this? Because… I don't know, I like this. I can't really offer much more than this, but this is pretty good, right?"
She sighs, looking conflicted. "It's definitely good. And I'm not looking for anything, but…"
"So, okay, then. Let's keep doing what we're doing. Because this is good. You're a really good kisser." I smile at the last part, teasing her a little, and she finally smiles too.
"Well, you already know I think you're a good kisser."
I pull on her hand until she leans over the bed. When I can reach, I slide my hand around the back of her head and kiss the side of her neck, avoiding her mouth since I haven't brushed my teeth. "So maybe we should get together and kiss some more. Just a thought. You know, since we're both so good at it."
She chuckles in that low sexy way she has. "Yeah, okay. I wouldn't be opposed to… um, doing some more kissing. It would be a shame to let all our mad skills go to waste."
"You haven't begun to experience all my skills."
She rolls her eyes, but she's smiling and it's wide and genuine. In this early morning light, with her face scrubbed clean, she's so pretty and natural. "There you go again with all your smooth lines."
"They worked, didn't they?"
Her smile fades just a little and I want to kick myself. That probably made her feel really cheap. I open my mouth to apologize, but she talks first.
"They sure did."
"Hey, it wasn't…"
She holds her hand up to stop me. "Don't. It is what it is, right? You don't have to hold my hand and make me feel special."
"But I shouldn't have made you feel cheap, either."
She smiles again and tips her chin down. Her hair falls forward, screening her face. She puts her hand over mine on the bed and squeezes gently.
"It's okay. You didn't."
"You sure?" I reach my free hand up and brush her hair back over her shoulder again, so I can see her.
"I guess I'll call you then."
"Alright. Call me."
She leans forward and kisses my cheek—just a fleeting little peck—and the intimacy of it startles me for a second, especially when it's so innocent compared to everything else we've done. Then she shoots to her feet, pulling out her keys in a rush. All her pensive calm of just a second ago is gone and she's back in rapid-fire mode. She's so busy. Her efficiency and energy are making me feel lazy. She seems to know exactly what she's doing at every moment. Except for the ones she spends with me. Maybe that's what she likes about this. There's no plan for any of it.
She's at the door with her hand on the knob when she spins back around, eyes wide.
"What is it?' I ask her. "What's wrong?"
"I don't know your last name," she breathes. "Jesus, we've had sex… more than once… and I never even asked your last name!"
I laugh and hold a hand out to placate her. "Hey, it's okay. Calm down. Masen. It's Edward Masen. Okay?"
"Yeah, okay. Sorry for the freak-out. It's just…"
She looks up, smiling. "Mine is—"
She blinks twice. "How did you know?"
I smile at her. "The bookstore. Special orders, remember? I saw your name."
"Right. The bookstore. Okay, now I really do have to go. Bye, Edward Masen."
"Bye, Isabella Swan."
And then she's gone. I roll back onto my side and curl her pillow into my chest. Yeah, it still smells like her hair. I fall asleep for a few more hours before I have to get up and get ready for work.
The apartment is quiet as I shower and dress, but Jasper wanders into the kitchen while I'm in there. We eye each other speculatively.
"Your friend still here?" I ask.
He shakes his head. "She had to teach this morning. Yours?"
"She had class."
"So you just met Alice yesterday?"
He holds up a hand. "Believe it or not, we didn't even do anything last night. We just talked."
"You've been doing that a lot lately with girls, huh? Talking."
He rolls his eyes. "This is nothing like Maria. I don't know… I really like her. A lot."
"Yeah. It just feels right. I can't explain it." He pauses and reaches up to run a hand through his shaggy hair, fisting it absently. He's talking to me, but his eyes are unfocused as he stares into the middle distance. "I only really talked to her for the first time yesterday, but I swear, it's like I've known her my whole life. And it's so easy to talk to her. I can say anything and she just gets it. I haven't felt that way… well, ever."
"I know. Wow."
Except Jasper's wow isn't the same as mine. I'm shocked— he's in awe.
"So what about you?" he says after a minute.
"What about me?"
He raises his eyebrows at me. "Bella? She's been over here twice now. So?"
I shrug. "So? We're hanging out."
"Are you guys, like, seeing each other now or something?"
I snort in laughter. "More like 'and something', I think."
"She seems nice."
"She is, I guess."
"You seem to like her."
"I barely know her."
"Well, you could maybe try to know her."
"Jasper, quit trying to pair me up just because you think you've met the one."
"Look, I'm just saying…"
"What? What are you just saying?" I don't mean to snap at him, but the pressure is making me tense. For Christ's sake, Bella isn't pressuring me for anything. Why does Jasper think he should?
He sighs and his shoulders drop. "Nothing. Just… it seems like it could be a good thing for you, that's all."
"There's nothing wrong with me. Nothing a girl could fix, anyway."
"Whatever you say, Edward. Look, my first class isn't until one so I'm going back to bed."
"Yeah, see you later."
He shuffles out of the room. I stand there another few minutes, working a hand through my hair and trying to sort out exactly why I feel so pissed off. In the end, I don't work it out. It doesn't matter. I just push it aside and leave for work.
A/N: Hey there. You're all amazing with the reviews and tweets. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.
Life is about to change in a major way for me in the near future. It just means that I'll have a whole lot less time for this stuff for a while. Don't worry, though, this story won't get left in the dust. I've been writing like crazy to get it finished and I only have about a chapter and a half to go (maybe two, if people get chatty). So no matter what's up with me, this will be finished without excessive delays. I promise!