Thank you, Nina. You're the best beta and friend anyone could ever ever hope for. I love you.
And thanks to everyone who's reading this. It means the world to me that you are.
I don't own Twilight.
It's like I'm stealing. The stuff I want is here, in front of me, and I know someone is about to walk in, someone's about to catch me. I have to gather up everything in sight, try to hold it all against me, in my arms. And I can't drop anything, lose anything, as I run out.
Every kiss on his neck. Hungry kisses, with strength and force and my everything behind them. I love his skin. I want to taste his skin. It's exactly the same as it's always been: all him and salt and softness. This has always been mine. This has never been temporary. Forever is in his skin. It's in every touch of my mouth to his cheeks. In every touch of my fingers to his arms, his back. That back that carried me so many times. Skin and bones. Then muscle and heat. When I press my fingers against it, everything feels okay. My feet are on the ground and the ground is safe. But I'm flying because I'm nothing. Weightless. Light. Air. The joy I'm getting from pressing my fingers like this... the satisfaction. Nothing, nothing is better.
"So, you missed me?" He laughs into my hair.
"Do you want more water? Are you done?" I ask.
"Give me a minute. I just walked in!"
"I'm just going to pour myself another glass, and we can take it with us."
"Take it where?"
The kiss he gives me is loud and gets so deep that I'm almost uncomfortable being here, wearing clothes, not having him against and inside me.
Edward tries to pick me up. I'm being half-dragged down the hallway, so I make him stop and pick me up for real, and a second later I'm being dropped on my bed, where I had a pile of clothes waiting to be put away just a half hour ago. If I hadn't thought about this, if I hadn't expected it, I wouldn't have bothered to stuff them into drawers without properly folding anything.
He waits, on his knees, for me to take off my tights. Instead of doing that, I put my feet on his shoulders, then try to bring him closer with my legs around his neck. He falls onto the bed, on his stomach, and his face is between my thighs, and his mouth is kissing me over tights, over whatever I'm wearing under them, and this is hot.
Crazy hot. He's eating me out and I'm not even naked. I'm going to come and it's going to be so good. So much better than Liam. I mean, so much better. Like you could ever compare them.
And I come, selfish and eager. I let him push and kiss and nudge and breathe until it happens. I hit that peak and enjoy every second of the warmth and blush and the small tremors and the lazy, stupid calm that takes over. And then I see his pink face, with this thing like... like hope. Eyes the roundest they've ever been. What is he doing? What isn't he saying? Does he love me as much as I love him?
Maybe it's possible, and he does. And that makes me a jerk.
I smile and close my legs and settle on my side, inviting him to join me. He's kissing me again, holding me in the fiercest, greatest hug.
"What?" I ask him.
"I can tell you everything, right?"
"No matter how stupid it sounds?"
"The stupider the better."
Hearts racing. Big, blind, in-love eyes. We probably look identical right now. He looks just like I feel.
"I miss how you sound," he says.
"Like, when I come?"
"Well, yeah, but when we weren't speaking, I missed the way you'd tell me stories. The way your voice goes up and down."
"Do you want me to tell you a story?"
He rolls us over. I look down at his face.
"Okay," I start. "There was this girl, right? Wait, I have to whisper this part..." I cup my hands around his ear and blow first, loving how it makes him squirm, giggle. "She really, really liked her friend.
"One day, he kissed her, and did really dirty things, and she fell in love... with his mouth."
"Just his mouth?"
He rolls his eyes. "Get to the part where she falls in love with him."
"She always, always, always loved him."
"Yes," I say. I'm running my fingers through his hair. Feeling and acting so tender. Like my heart and his heart are being held in glass, or they're made of glass, and if I'm not the sweetest, the best, and if I don't look at him just like I'm looking at him now, with love, love, love, then the glass will shatter. My heart will be in pieces. His heart will be in pieces. And not like they're broken, like other hearts that break all the time, but gone.
I can't believe that an hour ago I was nervous. Nervous about seeing him again, having some sort of talk with him. And now I'm thinking... A talk? A discussion? Is that what we are now? People who have to weigh things, analyze feelings, and pretend they're adults who can come to some sort of understanding or conclusion?
"Your turn to tell me a story," I tell him.
He's taking off his sweater. I almost don't want him to, because he looks great in navy, but when it's off I see how messy his hair got, and how tattered his t-shirt is. Grey. And he looks so good in grey. And his arms look stronger than I remembered them. There's something different. A good different, that takes me back.
"You've lost some weight."
"Yeah. I've been working out. Mom and Dad went through a health craze and bought all this exercise equipment."
"You look really good," I tell him, and his eyes brighten. "You kind of look like a kid."
"I'm no kid." He's on top of me, kissing my face and trying to access my neck, but my dress makes it impossible.
"What are you...What the... Take this off."
I forget how difficult it is to yank it off, and my head gets stuck. I pull and pull, and my hair is a mess. I'm on my bed, with him, and he's staring, mouth half-open, chest moving up and down, like he's terrified. Or maybe, like he's never seen this before.
How many more times until he's used to me half-naked? Until he doesn't watch as I take things off?
I reach behind me to take off my bra. Let him remember this. Good or bad, this weekend is happening. Good or bad, there will be memories. If my dreams aren't going to come true, and we're not going to be doing this for a long, long time, I hope the picture he's taking in his head right now—me, topless in black tights and crazy hair—makes him ache.
"Nice, huh?" I wink.
He reaches up, but I grab his hands before he gets me. My fingers go between his, and we sit like this for a few until he frees them and brings his arms around my waist. He holds me. I don't need stories or words. I need his magic.
I tease him a lot, rub up against him, bring my chest down to his mouth and then escape. He's not even trying to touch me. He's lying back, happy, enjoying my silliness, big, deep lines around his half-closed eyes, head thrown back, laughing.
Sometimes I can't believe this. Me, and Edward. We have sex. He's seen me naked. I'm naked now, and we're acting like it's normal. This? This is normal?
I laugh and cover my face with my hands.
"I'm, like, bouncing on top of you, half-naked, no bra on. It's... weird."
"We've done this before, so why does this feel different?" I ask him.
"It is different."
"Well, for starters, it's nothing like last summer." He runs his hands up and down the front of my thighs. I shiver.
His mouth opens a few times, and he's thinking. So I wait, and while I wait I take his hands into mine again. I draw invisible things on them, write invisible words.
"It's just us this time."
I nod. He kisses my hands. Fingers and palms.
"And we're adults," I say. "This isn't two kids experimenting. We're not hiding from your parents, or anyone."
"I think we should experiment."
I giggle. "Never change, Edward."
We kiss for a few. His hands finally creep up and find what he wanted. He squeezes, fondles. Forgets how sensitive my nipples can be.
"Sorry, I get carried away." Big grin. All is forgiven, but instead of more squeezes and twists he puts his hands on my hips and stares at me.
"Tell me what you're thinking," I whine.
"Hmm... I'm thinking I can't believe this is happening. I'm staring at my best friend's boobs and trying to remain calm."
"Aw, I'm still your best friend?"
"I hope so," he says.
"Let's be best friends again."
"Sure, but please don't put your shirt back on."
Laughing, we do the romantic roll-around kisses that look so much easier on television.
"Sometimes I swear I think we're seniors and when I kiss you I see him. You were so cute. I always knew you were, so I don't know why I wasn't kissing you from, like, the second you became taller than me."
"I wanted to kiss you all the time. Every time we hung out, I had to hide a boner. Probably even before you knew what they were."
I reach down and grab.
"It's still there!"
"I told you. I'm still the horny seventeen-year-old obsessed with his best friend."
"Me too," I tell him.
He shakes his head back and forth a few times, the stupidest of smiles on his really handsome face. "You're nothing like her."
"No. Like your seventeen-year-old self."
"How am I different?" I ask.
"You've grown up. A lot. Your mannerisms are different. You're definitely more confident."
"Yeah..." No, I'm not.
"It's probably because you went out and saw the world and met people. I know the same people we knew together when we were sixteen. I'm exactly the same person I was back then."
"I don't know about that..." But maybe he's right. He's still quiet for the most part, pensive, sort of a loner, but the kind people really seem to like to have around. Is that why he ended up where he was at the beginning of last summer?
"Now what are you thinking about?" he asks me.
"Do you like the new me? The one you think is so different from teenage me?"
"I fell in love with her."
I hit him in the chest, and then keep my hand there. I have this sudden urge to feel his heartbeat.
"The way I feel about you now makes what I felt before you left look like a crush," he explains, his hands on my face. "Nothing compares to how you make me feel now."
I feel calmer than I've ever felt in his presence. It's... strange.
"Can I ask you a question?"
I nod, noticing how he went from wide eyes and pink cheeks to guarded and closed off in a matter of seconds.
"Do you want to be with me?"
"You've asked me that before," I remind him. "Why do you think you're here today?"
"I'm not talking about here. I'm talking about the future."
"I don't know, Edward. You tell me about the future."
A blank stare is all I get.
"What's happening right now?" I ask him, soft and sweet. "It's the one thing we haven't talked about yet. Who's doing what?"
"You mean the divorce?"
"She hasn't filed anything yet. I've been waiting for her to do it. My parents think it's the right thing to do, given the circumstances."
"Do you see her? Talk to her?"
"No," he says.
"So you haven't talked about it..."
"Twice, right after I first left, and then nothing. I'm gonna have to do it. I thought I'd give her until Thanksgiving, let her divorce me, but if she doesn't, then what?"
"Then it's Thanksgiving, and then it's the holidays, and you don't want to ruin Christmas, so before you know it, it's spring! And—"
"Come on, stop. I swear..."
Before I realize what I'm doing, I grab one of my pillows and hold it against my chest. I know what it looks like. I'm angry, I'm shutting him out. This isn't what I want, but it's how I react to things.
"Please don't divorce your wife on my account."
"Please stop acting like a bitch every time I try to have an honest conversation with you."
"Start doing things. Driving to Seattle to fuck me isn't doing something."
He hugs me, with the stupid pillow between us, and tries to distract me with hands going up and down my back, and though I don't make him stop, I'm definitely not forgetting this.
"You won't let me tell you anything without attacking me or starting a fight."
"You led me to believe it was over," I explain. "I don't want you here if it's not over."
"Of course it's over."
"You're exactly where you were when I left, except now you're living with your parents."
"I was trying to do the right thing. I cheated on her. I broke her heart already, I didn't want to be the one—"
I push him away and now he's hugging the pillow.
"For once, just once, do the right thing for me."
"You won't even tell me what you want!" he shouts.
What do I want? I've said it a thousand times. You, you, you. Just be with me. The details don't matter. Stop asking me questions. Let's just see where this goes. You're here, still married, and you're asking me what I want? And if I tell you, are you going to jump into a new relationship with me? I can't take any more rejection from you. Hold me this weekend and we'll see what happens. Let me hear your voice throughout the week and come back soon.
And fucking end it with your wife, already. That's one thing I'm not going to repeat. You know now how I feel about it. Leave her and be with me. It's not too much to ask, but it's everything. It's probably not very smart, either, because you should be "finding yourself" and not becoming involved with someone so soon.
But you were involved with me even before you met her. And you say sweet things and make me love you more. I'm obsessed with you. I need you so much. I hooked up with another man and felt dirty for the first time in my life, and you know I've done some filthy things. I slept with a married man (that would be you), and I slept with many men you don't know about. Some of them weren't available to me. None of them made me feel disgusting. But when I was with Liam I felt sick. Because I love you in a way I couldn't love anyone at seventeen, not even you. I can't do the things I used to do and come out with a clear conscience. Something about you makes me think, "Forever? Maybe..." Just you. There is absolutely nothing else for me.
So I have to be brave. I have to say what I didn't say when saying it would have been normal, and not stupid. I have to be honest. I can't explain without using words. No vague descriptions of what our ideal relationship would be like.
Make it simple. Make it real.
"I don't know." I sigh and make sure it's loud and dramatic.
This topless thing isn't working for me anymore. I cross my arms against my chest and kneel in front of him, taking the pillow from his lap. He looks up and I shrug. It's an apology, because I have no idea what I'm going to say, and that's never good.
"I want to be your girlfriend. We can keep it very casual. We don't have to 'date' until your divorce is finalized."
"Girlfriend?" he raises his eyebrows.
"If you want to call it something, yes. I mean, what are my options? Lover is too ugly, I don't want to be your lover."
We're not rolling around, sharing bites and kisses and sweet words. He doesn't look happy. He's not excited.
I lie back and stare at the ceiling.
He moves closer to me and kisses my shoulder. I can't stop the kisses I end up placing on his forehead, in his hair.
"We could just hang out," I tell him, before he says anything. "But we can't keep having this conversation."
"What happened to being my girlfriend?"
"I don't think you're really into that idea."
"It's not what I was expecting," he says.
He kisses my shoulder again.
"If you're not going to talk, you need to stop that," I tell him.
"How many boyfriends have you had?"
"I don't know... Actual boyfriends? Not too many. I don't really date much."
"I think 'date' sounds stupid. You hate 'lover', but I think it's a good word."
"No. There's no commitment in 'lover' and I want commitment."
You don't get to look at anyone else the way you're looking at me right now.
"I thought you didn't believe in marriage," he says.
"I don't believe in vows, or pieces of paper that tell me our union is recognized. But I want to spend a lot of time with you, like, all of my time. And I want people to know."
"Do you want kids?"
"But you won't get married?"
"This is all very premature," I tell him. "I
didn't say that. If it would make you happy, I'd do it. If we're going to involve kids, I'll probably do it. I just don't understand why you care about it as much as you do, considering how you broke your vows and decided to end your marriage."
"You're always going to remind me of how badly I fucked up."
He still hates these conversations. He doesn't like being called a cheater. I don't enjoy calling him one. I don't want him to be one ever again.
"Are you going to fuck up with me?"
"I've been fucking up with you for twenty years. That's done."
"I'll probably never really trust you," I admit.
"Not because of what we did while you were married. I just don't really believe in... I'm pretty cynical."
He moves on top of me and starts kissing my neck, and I know he's done talking.
"So, we're done talking about this..." I try to confirm.
"I remember a time when this would have shut you up." The stupid sparkle in his eyes and that annoying grin are the best things in the world.
I let him love me like he's always loved me. With touches. With skin against skin. Warm breath on my face and neck, and the rhythm we found when we were seventeen. It's the slow, intense kind of love. And it makes my heart race like nothing else.
I hold him until he comes inside me. Reckless and stupid, like it's always been. And then I kiss him for a long, long time.
I try not to focus on the fact that we never finished that conversation, or started a new one. Spending time with him this weekend was amazing. We did things. We watched tv, we got drunk, we kissed a lot, and all that other stuff.
When I remember how he kissed me goodbye at least seven times outside his car, or how we watched movies in each other's arms and fell asleep like that on the couch, the butterflies in my stomach go crazy, because I'm so happy that I'm nervous. And I'm already anticipating next weekend, because he promised he'd keep driving to Seattle, or wait in Forks. Whatever I want.
My bed is a mess of sheets and comforter, and pillows where my feet are supposed to go. It's still early, but I want to finish my work here. It's a stupid idea, because all I do is hug my pillows until I find the one that I think he must have used the most. I bury my face in it and let out a ridiculous squeal, kicking my legs in the air. This is the excitement I should have felt the first time he kissed me. Not sadness, anxiety, or confusion. But I don't let that destroy my mood. I sniff the pillow again, and finally sit up to get to work.
He calls about an hour after he left.
"I suck at this," he tells me.
"What are you talking about?"
"I don't know how to do this... boyfriend-girlfriend thing."
"I'm pretty bad at it myself," I assure him.
"I've never done it before. I married the only girl I dated, and that was high school stuff."
"I remember, Edward. Thanks."
He starts to apologize, but I laugh and remind him to stop worrying. I'm going to stop being so sensitive all the time.
"Just... be yourself." It's the cheesiest thing I've ever said. "I think you've been doing a pretty good job so far."
"Alright, so I won't be calling you until you leave me a few angry texts."
"I can't make you call me if you don't want to."
"I was kidding, Bella."
"Stop kidding around and keep your eyes on the road," I tell him.
"Alright. I'll talk to you later. Tonight, maybe?"
"Sure. I love you."
I get the noisiest phone kiss before he hangs up. It's pretty terrible, but also adorable, and I'm covering my hot face with the pillow. If I hold it any tighter for any longer, I'll probably suffocate.
You guys are awfully patient. Or just really polite. Please, please share your thoughts on this chapter which was almost impossible to finish. I hope you enjoyed it, and if you did, let me know, because I'm paranoid/crazy.
Thanks so so so so much