This is the uncropped version of my submission to Fandom for Sexual Assault Awareness. Thank you to ayalah50 and coldplaywhore for organizing. Much love.

Summary: Girl meets boy. Hand meets crotch. Frisbee meets head. Lips meet lips. An AH Bella/Edward love story.

Disclaimer: Characters have potty mouths and engage in "adult activities." Read at your own risk.

So many thanks to the always awesome nowforruin and smexy4smarties for everything, always. More thanks to solareclipses for making the lovely banner. Many, many thanks to you, the readers, for supporting Fandom for Sexual Assault Awareness. Enjoy!

.

.

.

Yes!

"Hi. My name is Bella, and I'm not sure why I'm here. All I know is that I saw your poster today, and I felt like I had to come."

Sweet jeebus, I feel like a failed alcoholic. Now that I'm here, I don't recognize any of these faces, and I'm ready to sneak out as soon as I can.

I'm this close to making a break for it when I hear the person on my right chuckle. I turn, giving him a dirty look, but stop when I see how gorgeous he is. It's ridiculously unfair for someone that pretty to be a boy.

He speaks. "That'sokay, Bella. Most of the people who showed up are really just here for the free pizza." His voice is like golden whiskey slowly dripping into my veins. That's it, no more poetry readings for me. They make me too flowery.

"Well, there's that too," I quip. "I was just trying to be polite."

"Ahh, the truth comes out." He laughs again then holds out his hand. "I'm sorry. I haven't introduced myself yet. I'm Edward."

I stare at his offer like a moron for a few beats, admiring his hand and its shapely fingers. Even they're attractive, god help me. Edward looks uncomfortable and starts to move his arm back just when I reach out to grab it. I lose my center of gravity, and fall forward, accidentally grazing his groinal region instead. His whole body jerks back in response.

Shit. I'm the perv who came to the Students Stopping Rape meeting to eat their food and grope their members—pun not intended. I'm pretty sure this cannot have gone more poorly. Oh, wait. There it is. The worst part. I feel my face begin to burn tomato-red. Awesome.

"Oh, god. I'm so, so sorry. I really shouldn't be here. I was just leaving—"

"Edward, are you scaring off potential new members again?" A woman with a caramel-coated voice and the hair to match steps beside him.

"No, Esme. I swear. There was just a misunderstanding." His hand are in his hair, mussing it more than it was before. It's a quite a feat.

"He wasn't. I just remembered I have some homework I forgot about." I can't look either of them in the eye as I'm saying this obvious lie.

"It happens." She shrugs. "I'm Esme, the Rape Prevention Program coordinator. It's good to see some new faces in here. Edward's is beginning to bore me." She laughs at her own joke.

"How?" I blurt out. If I had a shovel, I'd be in the back burying myself six feet deep. Instead I get to see how much more uneasy I just made Edward with every passing moment. He's never going to want to see me again. After this, I'm not sure I'd want to see me either.

She raises her eyebrow at me but doesn't comment. The silence stretches out between our awkward trio until I have to say something, anything.

"I've really got to get going," I mumble.

"The library waits for no man, eh?" Edward asks.

"Or woman," I answer snidely, as if I really have no control whatsoever over my own mouth.

His eyes snap to mine as I'm cursing myself for being so quick to speak. He smiles at me. His teeth are blindingly white and perfectly straight, of course. I had to wear braces for five years and still wear a retainer in my sleep so my snaggle teeth don't shred the inside of my mouth.

Edward's voice interrupts my train of thought when I realize I've been staring at him this whole time. He sounds uncomfortable, probably because after acquainting myself with his man-parts, I'm now looking at him like he's the last slice of cheesecake at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

"Um, we'll see you next week?" he asks. "Same bat-time, same bat-channel."

If I wasn't so concerned with getting the hell out of here, his adorkableness would make me want to stick to him like an unwelcome magnet. I'm pretty certain the last addition he needs in his life is an accidental crotch-grabbing, embarrassingly clumsy, fork-tongued sophmore such as myself.

"Sure, sure," I reply, anything to get out of here faster.

"Great!" Esme beams at me. "I look forward to getting to know you."

I faintly hear Edward say, "Me too" before I throw my grubby pack over my shoulder and head out of the small office like my ass is on fire.

I vow to never step foot in there again, so help me.

Y!Y!Y!

"Hello? Anyone home?"

Angela gently knocking her knuckles against my skull brings me out of la-la land.

"You're messing up my 'do! Quit it!" I shrink back to avoid her rapping on my head.

"You mean the hair you pulled back in a ponytail because you couldn't be bothered to take a shower this morning? That 'do?"

"Shut up," I mumble. We clearly know way too much about each other's self-care histories. I'm struggling to remember why I agreed to move in with my best friend.

"What were you drooling about anyway?"

"I wasn't droo—"

Angela motions with her hand. "You got a bit right there, on the left."

"No, I don't . . ." I check just to make sure. Damnit. One day I will sleep with my mouth closed. Sadly, today is not that day. "I hate you."

"You love me. Scoot over."

I make room on my unmade bed.

"Were you daydreaming about Mr. Green Eyes, again?"

It's been two weeks since I met him and told Ang every single painful detail. Any time I've let my mind wander it always lands on the man himself. I haven't seen him since, and I'll probably die of embarrassment if I do.

"I don't do that," I protest.

"Sure you don't." She nods her head slowly as if the sarcastic tone in her voice isn't enough to tip me off. "I've seen you walking around with that dreamy face of yours. Either you've been reading that Austen crap on the sly again, or you've been reminiscing about your short and tragic love affair."

I try to argue, but she just talks over me. She continues, "Go wash your face, and I'll buy you some coffee. I can't be seen in public with a girl who can't keep her spit in her mouth."

"I—"

"Yeah, yeah. Do you want coffee or not?"

She knows that the fancy drinks with the caramel, mocha, mint, whatever flavor-of-the-month, froth, and whip are my weaknesses. Caffeine, sugar, and fat are pretty much my three main food groups. Add the occasional plate of pasta and I'm good to go.

"I'll be right back."

"That's what I thought," she says smugly.

Damn her.

Y!Y!Y!

I'm hauling ass across campus trying to get to my Sociology class before I'm late again, when I get smacked in the back of the head with what I swear to god feels likes a lead pipe.

"Motherfucker! That fucking hurt!" I yell as it takes me and my overstuffed pack down for the count.

This guy comes running towards me. "Oh, shit. I'm so sorry," comes tumbling out of his mouth. I can't see him because my eyes are watering in pain.

"Bella?"

I look up from the sidewalk. Well, hell. It's him. Edward. Mr. Green Eyes himself.

"Yeah?"

"You were walking so fast, and we didn't see you. We were just goofing off—"

He's interrupted by this massive football player-sized guy yelling as he's jogging towards us.

"Dude, what the hell? You're picking up girls you hit with your Frisbee now?"

"Shut up, Emmett. Bella, this is Emmett, my cousin's boyfriend. Emmett, this is Bella."

"So that's how it is? I start boinking your cousin, and now I'm just Rose's boyfriend? I thought our relationship went deeper than that, Eds. I'm hurt." To prove his point, Emmett makes the most pitiful pouty face I've ever seen on a grown man.

"If I hear you mention what you and Rose do during your free time ever again, I will tell her exactlywhat happened the night you ditched us in the movie theater," Edward threatens.

"Please excuse my friend here, Bella. He has no manners and doesn't like people," Emmett says as he offers me a hand to help me off of the pavement. I get up, wincing.

"You're really hurt, aren't you?" Edward asks, his voice filled with concern.

"No. I'm fine," I say as I try to lean over and get my bag. I give a yelp as a bolt of pain runs down the ankle that I cleverly landed on.

"You're lying," Edward replies.

"It's just a few bumps and scratches. I've had worse." I tick each event off of my fingers. "I almost got hit by a van that skidded on some ice. I slipped down a few flights of stairs and broke my femur once. There was also a bad experience with some ill-advised cliff-diving. I'm tougher than I look."

"Wow." Emmett whistles. "You're pretty bad ass."

"Eh, shit happens."

Edward speaks up. "Let me walk you to student health."

"Why? So they can give me some birth control and antibiotics then send me on my merry way? I've taken that route before. No thanks."

Emmett lets out a loud guffaw but stops after Edward gives him a dirty look. Poor guy looks like he's about to bust a gut from trying to hold his laughter in.

"But it's true! Some dude almost prescribed me the Pill last time I was there," Emmett blurts.

I have to look away quickly. If I catch Emmett's glance, I know that we're both going to be doomed. To avoid Emmett, I glance down at my watch. "Damnit, I'm late to Soc, again. It's been fun, guys, but I gotta go."

I try to hobble off, but Edward grabs my pack. "You can barely stand, let alone walk to your next class."

"I'm fi—"

"You're really not. Can I walk you home? I don't think you ought to spend any more time on that ankle." He looks down pointedly. The damn thing's already purple with bruises.

"I bruise easily. It's nothing."

I take another step forward, but my ankle gives out on me, and I go tumbling down. I try not to whimper in pain.

Edward crouches down next to me. His face is so close to mine that if I just turned my head . . .

I need to snap out of this. Just because for the past month I've been daydreaming about this—minus the injury and concrete—doesn't mean he has, too.

"Please let me take you home, Bella. I feel terribly about what happened, and I think that you'll feel better once you get your feet up," he says sweetly.

He looks so sincere. And pretty. So pretty. I don't really like that class anyway, and I'm already twenty minutes late as it is.

"Fine," I huff. Edward helps me to my feet.

"Great!" He's acting as is he's wanted nothing more in his whole life than to walk me home. I find that very difficult to believe.

"Where do you live?" Emmett asks.

"On the corner of Embarcadero; it's just a few blocks away," I respond.

"Isn't it getting late?" Edward asks.

"No. It's only—" Emmett starts.

Edward not so subtly coughs.

"Um, yeah. Look at the time. I told Rose I'd meet her by now," Emmett recovers. "It was nice meeting you, Bells. I'll see you around."

He thumps Edward on the back and jogs off.

"I'm sorry about him. Em isn't known for his tact."

"No, he's great."

"Don't let him know you said that, otherwise he'll never leave you alone," Edward responds. "I thought the same thing eight years ago and haven't had a moment of peace since."

It's hard to tell if he's being serious or not, until a wide grin breaks out on his face. I can't help but smile back at him.

"Let's get you home, okay?" he asks.

"Yeah, sure. I'm sorry that you're spending so much time taking care of me. I don't want to be a bother."

"Are you kidding? I've spent the last few weeks trying to find out who you are."

My jaw drops.

"Oh, shit. That's not what I . . ." he trails off.

It's good to see that I'm not the only one who gets flustered.

"I'm not stalking you, I swear. I just really wanted to see you again. And then you're here, and I hit you in the head with a stupid toy." He pauses and then bursts out. "Oh god. I totally understand if you never want to see me again." He hits himself in the head.

Apparently Edward isn't the Don Juan I originally thought he was. He's—surprisingly—a lot like me. How amazingly awesome—and a little narcissistic—is that? I've been crushing on the version of me with a penis this whole time.

"I also totally invited myself over to your house without asking. You barely know me, and I'm barging in on your life and . . ." He grabs a few handfuls of hair then rakes his fingers down his face. After having his mini-meltdown, he looks at me, mortified.

"Um, in case you couldn't tell yet, I'm not known for my smoothness with the ladies," he admits sheepishly.

"It's okay. I'm not either," I reply.

His eyebrows raise, and it takes me a few beats to realize what I just said.

I try to recover. "I mean . . . I . . . fuck."

He's trying to bite back his laughter, but once I catch his eye, we both burst out in these huge belly laughs. It feels really good, being able to share something like this with him. All of the previous awkwardness just washes away.

We're starting to calm down until I accidentally let lose a snort, like a bloody pig, and Edward cracks up again, while I'm blushing furiously. Sometimes, I wish I was less like me. I can be really embarrassing.

When he realizes that he's the only one laughing, he stops, tears streaming out of his eyes. We're both sitting in the middle of the sidewalk now and getting dirty looks from passer-bys.

"We should probably get out of here, huh?" he asks.

"Yeah"

He shoots to his feet and, offering me one hand, he nonchalantly covers his crotch with the other.

I look up at him, my mouth agape.

"You've got to be kidding."

"Hey, I learned my lesson last time. I can't risk that kind of injury again."

"So are we even now?" I ask, lips twitching.

He throws his head back, laughing. I want to nibble on his neck. It just looks so damn tasty. Down, girl.

"I don't know about that. You just got a little bump on your head. It's possible I may be impotent now," he responds.

"One: I may have a concussion or a broken ankle—"

He interrupts, "I thought you said you were 'fine.'" He does that annoying finger quote thing.

I continue as if he hadn't interrupted me with my own equally irritating finger motions. "Two: It's been weeks, Edward. I find it very difficult to believe that you haven't . . ."

I stop myself. "I'm not going to continue that line of thought."

"Thank you."

"You are most welcome. Anytime I can keep myself from putting my foot in my mouth, I'll take it. It happens so rarely. You'll see."

"Will I?"

"If you're lucky," I answer back saucily.

"I'm feeling pretty lucky right now." He winks.

I am so screwed.

Y!Y!Y!

I know, I know. I promised myself I wouldn't darken the Rape Prevention Program's door again, and yet, here I am. Edward talked me into coming to tonight's meeting. Dude can be pretty persuasive. It doesn't hurt that he promised to take me out for my nightly caffeine fix after the meeting. It will be our second pseudo-date in as many days, not like I'm counting.

He and Angela became friends on Facebook after she came home to find me sleeping on the couch, my feet in his lap. I'm positive she's breaking all of the BFF rules by telling him some of my secrets. I'll let it slide, for now. I am getting a delicious coffee drink out of it, after all. However, the minute he sees a junior high school picture, all bets are off. If such a thing were to occur, Ben willhear about the Great Bikini Debacle of 2004, I promise.

Although I missed the first few weeks of peer training, I'm able to catch up pretty quickly. I've taken a few classes in gender studies, so the concepts aren't entirely new to me, and I'm finding myself becoming engrossed in our discussions on how pop culture reflects or affects society's responses to sexual assault.

Edward's standing in front of a whiteboard asking for references to assault that we've seen or heard in the media. After a beat, everyone's hands shoot up, and the list we're making becomes alarmingly long. I'd never thought about a lot of these, and it makes me sad that most people never make these connections.

I recall the rape jokes I've heard and the references to someone "asking for it," and my blood boils. This shit has got to stop. I'm going to help make it happen.

I'm glad I came back. I know being here isn't going to be sunshine and roses all the time, but it's important for me to get involved, to do something that says I recognize how fucked up things can be, and that I want things to change.

"So, that's it for tonight. If anyone can stay and help put the room back together, that'd be great," says Jessica, the co-student coordinator of RPP.

"I can stay, Jess," Mike responds eagerly.

Everyone gets up to go, but I'm reluctant to leave. I wish we could all stay and throw more ideas around. I know that I'm going to lie awake in bed tonight brainstorming about all the ways I think we can have a positive effect on campus. That's when I know that I've been sucked in to the vortex.

Edward warned me that once I got involved, I wouldn't be able to leave, and the bastard was right. I've only been to one meeting, and I'm ready to commit to a year of volunteering with the program.

I hear people gathering their stuff and heading out, but I'm lost in my own universe until Edward plops himself next to me on the couch.

"You okay?" he asks. "I know we were talking about some pretty heavy things. I understand if you wanna bail and go home to digest."

My heart sinks. No coffee and no Edward? I'd been looking forward to our fake date all day. It was what got me through Medieval Lit today when I was about to throw my shoe at the prof's head.

"Um, okay. If that's what you want." I look down, afraid that he'll see how disappointed I am.

"Hey." He lifts up my chin to look into my eyes. I feel a shock run through me at the contact of his hand on my skin. "That's not what I said. I was asking if you needed some time to yourself, so you can 'reflect' or whatever. I'd really like to grab a drink with you, but I understand if you changed your mind. That's all."

"Oh," I respond. A silence grows between us.

"So, tell me all about your favorite place back home." And just like that we're back to what's becoming our normal.

We've been playing this game of what started out as twenty questions since the day he first walked me—or carried rather; my ankle crapped out about a block in—home. We've probably shot past a hundred at this point. He knows that my first concert was the Backstreet Boys, I'm deathly allergic to bees, and the only real food I know how to make is lasagna. It's also how I found out that he played baseball in high school, is terrified of hurricanes even though he's only ever lived on the West Coast, and got involved with RPP after his cousin was assaulted.

The two of us are still sitting on the couch and laughing when Mike interrupts us.

"Hey, guys?" he asks. "It's getting late, and Jess needs to lock up."

Edward's head shoots up. "What time is it?" His voice sounds strained.

I check my phone."It's—oh crap. I guess I missed out on my triple mocha latte with a shot of raspberry. It's almost ten." I sigh dramatically.

"Damnit. I have to get you home. I was supposed to be studying two hours ago." Edward's hands go straight into his hair.

"It'll be okay. I'll help you study," I say, trying to keep him from literally tearing his hair out. I think he would, if given the chance.

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

He smiles at me like I've just given him an ice cream cone and a new puppy.

"And you'll let me take you out on Friday? On a date? A real one?"

I can't help but give him my biggest, dumbest grin.

"Yes."

Y!Y!Y!

It's the next afternoon, and I'm trying to concentrate on catching up on reading for Soc, when Angela takes a running leap onto my bed.

"You're home!" She bounces on my bed in her excitement. "You didn't come home last night, young lady." She wags her finger at me. "Tell me everything," she demands.

"I was studying with Edward." My face flushes immediately.

"Studying? Or 'studying'?" she snickers.

"No, really studying. He had a midterm today," I answer.

"And you didn't come home because . . ." she trails off, her voice suggesting she thinks she knows exactly why I didn't come home.

"It was late. I was tired. I slept over."

"And?" She waggles her eyebrows

"And nothing. He pulled an all-nighter on the couch, and I slept in his bed."

"And?" She's really desperate now. I can see her about to burst out of her skin.

"That's it." I sigh. "His bed's lumpy, but his sheets were clean. I wish I had more to tell you. I really, really do, but I don't."

"So he hasn't pulled the trigger yet?" she asks, knowingly.

"I've known you since we were in diapers, and I have no idea what the hell you're talking about right now."

Ang huffs, exasperated. "Smooches, B! I'm talking about tonsil hockey. We both know I'm not getting any with Ben so far away. Did you? Please say yes."

I wish I could tell her what she wants to hear. "Alas, no."

"Damnit," she bites out.

"Tell me about it."

"What the hell? I thought you were all swimmy-swimmy." She sounds almost as frustrated as I feel.

"So, lattes?" she asks. It's like she's my fairy godmother of caffeinated beverages.

Y!Y!Y!

After the best date ever in recorded history—disco bowling, sushi, and coffee—Edward's walking me up to my front door.

"I had a really good time tonight," he says.

"Me too."

"Though I think that midnight cappuccino probably wasn't my best idea," he says. "I don't know how you can ingest so much of that stuff and still sleep."

"Tolerance, my friend. Stick with me, and you too can learn my ways."

"Hmm, tempting. You're awfully cute." he responds.

"You forgot to mention my sparkling wit and brilliant mind."

"So I did. Forgive me?" He sounds so earnest. It's adorable.

"I'll think about it."

We're at my door now. I love it when he's like this, all flirty-cute and tasty-looking. The view of his forearms peeking out of the rolled up sleeves of his button-down are giving me something to think about later . . . in private. My heart is beating so fast I swear he can hear it.

"Well, good night then."

He steps closer, and as I'm closing my eyes and softly puckering my lips, he gives me a hug. It's so fast that I have no time to react before he's stepping away from me.

"I'll call you, okay?"

My stomach drops.

"Okay." I try not to sound too sad.

I watch him walk away.

I open the door and turn on the lights to find Angela hiding behind the curtains.

"What the hell, Ang?"

"I heard you come to the door, and I didn't know if you were going to invite him in, and I didn't have time to hide, so—"

I laugh, loudly. It doesn't make me feel better about how Edward ran off, but it does relieve some of the tension I feel building up in my shoulders.

"So you thought no one would notice you hanging out between the wall and the couch?"

"Shut up."

I shake my head at her as I walk into the bedroom to slip off my shoes and put on the tacky flannel pjs my mom got me for Christmas last year. I come back into the main room.

Angela takes one look at my new outfit and sighs. "It went that well?" She pats the spot next to her on the couch. "Come here."

I sink down next to her and tell her everything.

Y!Y!Y!

The past week has been . . . trying. Edward invited Ang and me to go play disc golf with him, Emmett and Rose on Sunday. I sucked more than what I thought could be possible, but Edward was as charming as ever and even laughed off having to spend thirty minutes in the swamp looking for the disc that I accidentally chucked in there.

It was great meeting Rose. I knew she and Edward grew up together and that he felt very brotherly towards her. He told me so much about her that I thought I knew what to expect. Girl had some cajoneson her. She insisted on shimmying up a tree to get the disc she threw; meanwhile Emmett and Edward were underneath the branches, biting their nails. When Rose jumped out of the tree and landed on her feet with a curtsey, Angela and I clapped and whistled, while Edward had his phone out in case he had to dial 9-1-1.

On the way home, Edward threw his arm around my shoulder, as if he did it every day. His arm across my back did terrifyingly wonderful things to my skin. I must have turned a full-body red because as we were getting out the car, Rose idly commented to me that I should have put some sunscreen on before I left. I nodded mutely.

He walked me home again after the RPP meeting last night, and instead of a goodnight kiss, he fumbled another awkward hug with me. I tried brushing my lips across his cheek, but he turned away so quickly, I just got a mouthful of hair. Eww.

I am determined to have a talk with him.

A girl can only take so much.

Y!Y!Y!

His text says to meet in a room in the Music Hall. I've never been here before, and the layout of this building seems even more labyrinth-like than the dreaded Humanities Building, which is built on a curve, with non-sequential room numbers and floors. Of course, almost all of my classes are in there, and every single time I step foot in the damn building I get lost.

I'm quickly working my way towards never seeing sunlight again, when I hear a piano being played from behind one of the closed doors. I follow the clear, sweet notes until I find myself exactly where I was supposed to meet Edward. It's a freaking miracle.

I rest against the door, listening to the piece fade away when it opens suddenly, causing me to grasp at whomever's there to keep my balance. Once I'm certain that I'm not going to fall on my ass again, I realize that I have a handful of someone's shirt in my tight grip. I look up, to start to apologize, when I see a very familiar pair of eyes.

"Bella," he breathes. "You're here."

I start to release my hand, but he takes and holds it in his own, like it's a gift

"You didn't knock," he says.

"I was listening. I didn't know you could play the piano."

"Ever since I was seven. My grandmother was a piano teacher. It helps me focus my thoughts," he tells me.

He tugs gently on my hand. "Come in."

"But I was listening out here. It was beautiful."

He colors slightly. It's endearing, but then again, just about everything he does is. I'm in so deep, and we've only been on one official date. God, I'm in trouble.

"I swear it's more comfortable inside." He winks at me, and like a moth to a flame, I'm draw in to him and his cheeky ways.

Edward sits at the piano bench and pats the spot next to him. "I've got a place right here for you."

"I don't want to get in the way," I protest.

"You won't; I promise." With the look he's giving me, I'd do almost anything for him.

And then he begins to play.

Did I say almostanything? I meant anything. A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Holy bejeebus is this man hot. I can barely keep my hands to myself. They're itching to grab a hold of him anywhere they can reach. I manage to calm my raging hormones long enough to recognize the Debussy piece he's playing.

When I was growing up, my mom went through a Classical music phase. It was short-lived—like all of her phases—but I made sure to keep the CDs she bought and still listened to them from time to time. They soothed me when I was homesick.

The weight of the past few weeks is heavy on my shoulders: the stress of midterms, the intense peer training sessions with RPP, the worry over Edward. Now he's unwittingly playing my favorite piece by my favorite composer. And it was perfect. Just like him.

It all becomes too much and I feel my eyes tearing up, and like a fool, I wipe them away. Edward notices me from out of the corner of his eye and stops playing.

"Hey, is everything okay?" He looks over at me, and I have to look away. I can't take his eyes filled with concern. I'm about to break, and I don't want him to see.

"Yeah," I mumble. "I'm fine."

I tilt my head to try to wipe my eyes on my shirt, but he's on to me. He gently puts his arm around me and part of me really wants to shrug it off and run away, while the other part wants to burrow next to him and just let go.

I'm torn between my dueling desires when he kisses my cheek softly. I turn my head towards him, about to tell him off for yanking me around, but before I can, he presses his beautiful lips against mine.

Just from the slight contact, a new, stronger desire flares up. My hands are snaking into his hair, my lips greedily opening against his, my legs are slung over his lap, and my chest is pressing up against him.

Our bodies are saying what we couldn't, and it's amazing.

I want you.

I need you.

Yes.

Yes.

I pull away gasping for breath, while he nips his way down my neck, and kissing me everywhere my v-neck shirt isn't covering my skin. I thought I felt heated before, but it was nothing like this. I'm trying not to moan aloud and instead am making little gasping noises that remind me of a dying goldfish, but Edward just seems spurred on by them.

He's pulled me onto his lap and I'm facing him, my thighs spread around his body, his face at eye-level with my chest, and I feel himagainst me where I'm now aching to be touched.

Holy shit.

He pushes me, gently, trying to gain more access to my skin, and I fall back against the piano keys, making a jarring crash.

It reminds me where we are and what we're doing.

"Edward?" I ask tentatively.

No answer.

Instead, he thrusts against me and through my jeans I feel exactly how much he wants me and god, this may be a terrible idea, but I really want him too, so, so much.

I moan this time, and he pushes me farther into the keys, making another horrible sound.

It snaps me back to reality. Damnit.

Emboldened by my response to him, Edward's hands slip under the hem of my shirt, his fingers brushing against my skin, working their way up to my bra.

As much as I want him to, we can't do this here, and I have to stop him.

His face is buried into my chest, his lips pluck my nipple through my bra and I arch against him.

I literally shake my head to try to clear it of the hormone-addled thoughts zinging around in my brain.

"Edward, stop.'"

"Hmm?" he hums against my heated skin.

His hands finally slip under my bra, and damn, I want this so bad, but not here.

It takes all of my self-control to grab his hand and pull his face up.

"We have to stop," I tell him, firmly.

He looks at me, eyes clouded over with lust, and I watch them clear then harden.

"Oh, shit."

He pulls away from me and stands up.

"Bella, I'm so sorry."

And then he's gone.

Y!Y!Y!

I spend the weekend alone, holed up in the apartment. Angela went on an extended booty call to Berkeley to visit Ben, and I'm eating my way through her not-so-secret stash of leftover Halloween candy in retaliation for her leaving me in my pitiful solitude.

I tried calling him a few times, but he doesn't answer. I don't know what happened. One minute we were all over each other, and then he's gone. He doesn't respond to my texts, and after the fourth one, I realize I need to stop sending them or else I'll look like the stalker I'm rapidly becoming.

I can't concentrate on any of my assignments and justify skipping school on Monday because I wouldn't know what's going on in any of my classes. The same thing happens on Tuesday. I skip the RPP meeting on Wednesday, and since I haven't showered since Friday, I think they'll probably be more grateful than anything that I haven't graced them with my presence.

Instead, I wallow on the couch, surrounded by fun-sized candy bar wrappers, watching whatever show Bravo's airing. I swear I feel my brain cells twitching in agony.

Angela comes home, takes one look at my pathetic face, grabs my arm, slaps a hat on my head, and we're down the block and at Java Jones before she even says hello.

"Large, black, no room. What'll it be today, B?" she asks me.

"I don't care."

She raises her eyebrow at me. "Damn." She whistles.

"Triple caramel latte, with lots of whip. And some chocolate syrup," she orders for me. "Large."

I get pulled over to the sagging, ugly couch in the corner that I've spent so much time in, Ang jokes that when I graduate, they'll put up an Isabella M. Swan memorial plaque.

I'm crying into my latte before I know it. Ang rubs my shoulders as I'm hiccupping back sobs. I should be ashamed of myself for weeping like this in public over a boy I've only gone out with twice, but I can't help it. He was special. And now he's gone. Asshole.

"Fuck him," Ang spits out once I'm done with the update. "He doesn't deserve you."

"It's not like that," I say, trying to defend him.

"Well, what's it like then? You go on a few dates, you make out, and then he disappears? I'm sorry, B, you know I love you, but I can't see the good in this. Can you?"

I can't answer her.

Y!Y!Y!

My phone rings. It's a number I don't recognize, and curious, I pick it up.

"Hello?"

"Hey, Bella. This is Rose. Please don't hang up."

"I would never hang up on you, Rose. I still like you."

She sighs.

"Can we talk?" Rose asks.

Damnit.

"Sure," I say wearily. "What's up?"

"My cousin is a moron.

I bite back a laugh.

She continues, "It's not news, but I thought you should know. I'm not getting involved, but I think you should go talk to Esme. I told her to expect you."

"Esme? Why?"

"She helped me after the assault. She helped Edward too. She can answer some questions."

I've hung out with Rose a few times since Edward introduced us. This is the first time she's mentioned what happened. She knows that I know, but it's none of my business, so I've never asked her about it before.

"It was bad, Bella. I was a mess, and Edward blamed himself, like the martyr he is. I think what happened last week between you two triggered some things for him."

Oh, god. I wonder how much she knows. What did he tell her? And suddenly, I'm angry.

"I can't believe he told you. What the hell?" I'm furious.

"I don't know much. I do know that he's barricaded himself in his room and won't talk to anyone, including Emmett."

"I don't care." My voice quivers. Anyone with a half a brain could tell I'm lying. Rose is an electrical engineering major.

"Sure, you don't. I was just stating facts," she says coldly. "But if I have to hear any more whiny-white-boys-with-guitars music, I'm going to lose my goddamned mind. Go talk to Esme, please, before I kill my emo cousin."

"What—"

She interrupts. "I promised him I wouldn't get involved. He'll kill me if he finds out I called you. Esme can help. I have to go."

"Thanks, Rose."

"Yeah, sure. Esme—don't forget."

"Esme," I echo.

She hangs up.

Y!Y!Y!

I'm sitting on the beach, my fingers idly combing through the sand, trying to absorb everything that Esme and I talked about.

I should be furious with Edward for dropping off the face of the planet, but all I can do is ache for him instead.

He blames himself for Rose's assault.

He introduced her to the asshole who did it.

They played together on the college baseball team..

Then, he quit baseball—something he loved—because he couldn't stand looking at his team mate's face.

He joined RPP because Esme counseled him and Rose during the aftermath.

I'm so lost in my thoughts that I don't hear Emmett come up behind me.

"Baby Bells!" he yells.

I jump out of my skin.

"Emmett! You scared the crap out of me. What the hell?"

He chuckles. "Sorry, B. You busy? You look like you're thinking real hard."

"Yeah. I just . . . I was talking with Esme about Rose . . . and Edward."

"Oh." He sighs. "Can I sit?" He gestures to the sand.

"Sure."

Emmett sits next to me, but doesn't say anything. If not for the waves crashing and the gulls, things would be eerily silent.

After a few minutes he speaks up.

"Rose told me that she called you."

"Yeah."

"Don't feel bad for her. She hates that."

"I wouldn't do that, Em."

"Good."

More silence.

"I met her after. I went over to Edward's, and she was camped out on his couch. He was so focused on taking care of her that he forgot I was coming. She was so broken then. It scared me. Edward was barely holding it together, and she was clinging to him like he was her life preserver." He pauses. "She was having these horrible nightmares, and neither of them were sleeping because of it. They were just barely surviving."

We watch the water for a while.

"I'm not getting involved," he says.

I snort. "I've heard that before."

"Yeah, I guess you have." He leans back, folding his hands behind his head.

"He's a good guy, Bella. I'm not saying that just because he's my closest friend. It may not seem like it now, but he is."

"I know."

"Call him."

"Why?" I ask, angry now.

"He misses you. He's afraid."

"But you're not getting involved, right?" I ask.

"Right," Emmett replies.

"Can I ask you a question?"

"Shoot," he says.

"What's he so afraid of?"

"You'll have to ask him." He gets up and brushes the sand off his shorts. "We cool, Baby B?"

"Yeah, Emmett. We're good."

"Awesome. I'll see you soon then."

I watch him walk away.

The sun is just beginning to set over the mountains, and the sky looks like it's on fire. It's been a week since we kissed, a week since I've talked to him.

I pick up my phone and send him a text.

My place. One hour. Be there.

Y!Y!Y!

Exactly sixty minutes later, I'm pacing back and forth across the ancient shag carpet in my apartment when I hear a knock on the door.

So help me, it better be him.

I flick back the curtains.

Edward's back is turned, but I'd recognize that hair anywhere. It looks like it's been run through a weed whacker.

I open the door.

"Hey."

"Bella," he whispers. "I'm sorry. So sorry."

I cross my arms.

"Uh huh. Why are you sorry, Edward?"

He looks around nervously.

"Could we do this inside please? I prefer to grovel in private."

I try so hard not to laugh. I almost succeed and instead a strangled snort comes out of me.

"I brought provisions," he says and holds up a large, hot, cinnamon something with an inch of whip cream on top, a bag of my favorite triple chocolate cookies, and something that smells suspiciously like the mushroom ravioli from my favorite trattoria.

"Please?" he asks.

I move aside.

"Thank you."

I close the door behind us, and he's shifting from side to side. He's nervous. Good.

It feels like it's been months, not days, since I last saw him. I want nothing more than to be enfolded in his arms again. Instead I sit down on the couch and watch him fidget.

Stay strong.

"Bella, I—"

I interrupt him.

"Promise me it will never happen again. I won't be so forgiving if there's a next time."

He nods his head vigorously. "I promise." He smiles at me, tentatively.

"Come. Sit. Explain."

Edward nearly stumbles over his own feet, he's moving so quickly.

He sits next to me but doesn't speak.

"Edward, what the fu—"

"I got scared."

"Why?"

"You told me to stop and I didn't."

"You did though."

"After how many times? How many times did you ask me to stop?" he asks, sadly.

I think back. It's been seared into my memory, being chest to chest, lip to lip with him. It was all that I thought about during my time of despair, as Ang was helpfully calling it.

"Twice. It was twice."

"That's one time too many," he says

"Don't, please. Don't hate yourself for what happened. We were both a bit preoccupied." I smirk. "You weren't making me do anything I didn't want to."

"I thought that . . . I thought that I hurt you."

"Why would you think that?"

Edward explains to me how he used to be that guy, the one who laughs at homophobic jokes, who speaks without thinking. He was on the baseball team with a bunch of guys and took part in the locker room bullshit; he didn't know any better. He introduced Rose to one of his team mates, Royce, and they starting dating.

There was a party one night that he didn't go to, and the following morning, Rose was on his doorstep, bruised and groggy. She didn't remember, but she knew something happened to her. The bruises proved that it wasn't anything good.

She spent the weekend at his house, dozing on his couch, staring off into space. Edward went to his team's practice that Monday and heard that more than one of his team mates knew what had happened. Apparently they were there, too.

He found Royce in the locker room and beat the shit out of him. He got kicked off the team; he's so furiously angry—and ashamed—that he didn't care.

Edward spent the next few weeks taking care of Rose. She didn't want to tell anyone, for fear of being labeled a slut or a liar. She's not stupid. She knows how these types of things shake down. She stopped going to class and was danger of failing, when Edward told her she needed to get help, or he was going to go to his parents for it. They found out about Esme who helped them both come to terms with what happened. It changed his whole perspective and he joined RPP.

And then last week, he thought he'd become thatguy again. The one who won't listen when someone says no, the guy who pushes, pushes, pushes until the person is so tired they don't say anything at all.

"If I had only known what I know now, none of this would have happened," he continues. "I could have done something. Rose wouldn't have been hurt."

"You couldn't have. You're not responsible for what happened."

"I was part of it though. The whole damn thing: the jokes, the talk, the fucking stupid shit that goes on every goddamn day!" he shouts. Embarrassed, he clams up for a few moments. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to yell. I thought I was better than all of that bull shit. It turns out that I'm not."

"It wasn't like that, Edward. I asked you to stop and you did."

"But I—"

I interrupt him, blurting out, "Shit happens" Oh crap.

He gives me a confused look. "What?"

"Um, it's something my dad says all the time. He's a man of few words."

"Uh-huh."

"Well, you know . . . stuff happens, and it's up to us how we deal with it. We're not in charge of the universe, and sometimes what happens isn't good, but we do the best we can with what we've got. You did the best you could, Edward. You helped Rose and then found her professional help, too. And you're both better for it now, right?"

"Yeah," he affirms.

"You can't take the weight of the world on your shoulders. No one can carry that. You'd make yourself crazy even trying to."

We don't speak.

Edward breaks the silence. "Thanks," he says.

He moves closer to me and takes my hand in his. "Is this okay?" he asks.

"Yes."

We sit quietly side by side on the couch. After a few minutes, I can't take it anymore and ask the question I've been dying to find out the answer to ever since he walked in the door.

"So is that ravioli for me or what?"

Y!Y!Y!

I'm looking around the room, watching these women practicing how they can stop their attackers. They've empowered themselves, and I helped. It's pretty fucking awesome.

Lauren claps her hands to get their attention. "Okay, folks. Time's up. If you have any questions, feel free to ask Bella or me. Or you can pop in the RPP room just to say hi. We'll be there."

We've spent the past two hours teaching a self-defense class and I'm so tired. We still need to move the furniture back to its original location, and I have a few hours of homework waiting for me. I should have done it this afternoon, but Edward—and his lips—can be extremely distracting. Not that I'm complaining. After his mini-meltdown, things between us have gotten really, really good.

"Hey, you."

Speak of the devil.

"Hey! How was your group?" I ask. I know Edward doesn't like leading group discussions for RPP. According to him, it's a bunch of guys all trying to front for each other. As much as he doesn't like it, he thinks it's worth it if they can reach even one person because that person can go out and change minds too.

I think teaching women how they can protect themselves is the easier end of things, more fun too. I don't envy him his sessions.

"It was okay. I think we managed to get some guys interested in coming to meetings," he says.

"That's great!" I grab him for a quick hug, which quickly morphs into something else. It's only been a few hours since we last saw each other, but it's been way too long since I've felt his lips on my skin.

God, his kisses are like a drug. I want them all the time, in every place. Yes, please.

"Ewww. Get a room, you two," I hear Lauren screech.

Edward laughs and apologizes. He whispers in my ear, "You look so hot when you're demonstrating those maneuvers."

I giggle. I'm certain no one's ever used to word "maneuvers" before in dirty talk, or at least what amounts to Edward's version of it.

"What? Did I say something funny? I thought I was being quite dashing," he says.

"Maneuvers? Really, Edward?"

"Yeah, so?" He looks a bit bristly.

"Nothing, babe." I kiss his cheek, his jaw—mmm, jaw—his ear. I start nibbling on his lobe, when I hear Lauren, again. Damnit.

"I'm still here, y'all."

"Can Bella leave? She has some . . . homework she needs to do," Edward says, sweetly.

Lauren snorts. "I'm sure she does." She waves her hand. "Shoo. I can finish up in here."

"You sure? I can stay," I protest.

"Please don't." She shudders. "I can't take it anymore."

"Great. Thanks, Lauren!" Edward grabs my hand, and we're on our way to his place before I can object.

It's not far, but it takes that much longer because he's periodically pulling me into darkened corners, nipping at my neck, giving me great bone-crushing hugs.

It's January, and the cold damp has finally set in. The fog rolled in from the coast tonight, blanketing the campus and the surrounding small town in its heavy, sodden mist. There are probably a few people scattered around, but I can't see them, the air is so thick with vapor. I'm letting Edward get away with more than I'd normally feel comfortable with in public, but it really does feel like we're the last two people here. And his mouth feels fantastic.

We've talked a few times about our physical relationship, agreeing that we wanted to wait a bit before "pulling the trigger," as Ang calls it to my chagrin. We wanted to get to know each other better before we take that step. At first, I was all gung-ho about not waiting, but Edward shared with me his concerns about pushing our intimacy before he was comfortable with being so close with someone again. It's been a while for him, and this time around, he wants to make sure that it's something meaningful with someone he truly cares about. How can I say no to that?

We get to his door, and I push him against it. I cover his face with kisses, grope his backside, press myself against him.

"I want you."

"I want you, too."

"Soon?"

"Yes."

Y!Y!Y!

"I'm done," Mike says as he gets up off the floor and stretches. "I'm all out of paper, and my back hurts like a mofo."

Jessica stands up too.

"Yeah, me too." She checks the clock. "It's getting late, and Lauren's party is tonight. I need to go home and get this paint out of my hair."

We've been in the office since early this afternoon. RPP's big Spring campaign starts next week, and posters, flyers, and shirts sadly do not make themselves. I'd probably have less cricks in my neck if that were true.

"I'm not done yet," Edward says.

'That's because you're a perfectionist," Jessica retorts.

"Yup," Edward agrees. "I can't help myself. I really want next week to go smoothly with as much participation as possible."

"I know you do, Edward. And I appreciate it, but you're making your co-chair look bad," Jessica says.

"Impossible," protests Mike. "You couldn't look bad if you tried."

Jessica makes the expected "aww," but I mime gagging behind their backs, so only Edward can see. He chokes back a laugh which makes him sound like a tortured seal.

"You okay over there?" asks Mike.

"Yeah, yeah. I'm fine."

I raise my eyebrows at him. He hates it when I say that. I think it's hysterical he picked it up from me. I can't remember him saying it before we became attached at the lip.

"You all go on ahead. We'll just finish up here and lock up," Edward assures them.

"You sure? We could stay . . ." Jessica trails off.

"Don't. Go home. Take a shower. We'll see you at Lauren's."

"Great!" Jessica hops up before Edward can change his mind. "Thanks, Edward," she calls out as she grabs Mike's hand and pulls him out the door.

I lean back over my pathetic poster-making attempt, and I can hear Edward's pencil beating a frenetic rhythm. It's driving me nuts.

"Well that was interesting," I say.

"Huh?" Edward asks absentmindedly.

Tap. Tap.

Tap

.

"Did you not just see that?" I ask.

"See what?" Still distracted, he's staring at the proposed schedule like it's going to tell him how it can be re-arranged so everything fits where it ought to.

"Jessica and Mike? They were holding hands and left together."

"Oh?"

I step closer to him. "Yeah. I wonder how long they've been together."

"Me, too," he agrees, but I know that he's not following this conversation at all.

"Mm hm. They were humping each other on the couch. I'm surprised you didn't notice."

"Really?" he asks.

I wonder how far I can take this before he realizes what's going on. I get so close to him that I could kiss the back of his neck

"Yeah, and then they asked us to join them. I told them to come to your place tonight."

"Sounds good," he says.

"I told them to bring the toys and lube. We'll supply the blindfolds and condoms."

"Uh-hu—wait. What the hell are you talking about, Bella?" He looks for me in the corner where I was a few minutes ago and jumps when he sees how near to him I am now.

"I don't know. Why don't you tell me?" I ask.

"Umm . . ."

"I thought so," I say smugly.

"I'm sorry. I was just so focused on this."

"I know. It's okay. Your one track-mind and all."

One of my favorite things to tease him about is how lost he gets in whatever it is he's doing. Sometimes it's a bit aggravating, but it's mostly just an awesome way to get him to buy me coffee.

"Maybe not just one-track," he murmurs and leans in to kiss me.

"Oh, really?"

"Yes."

"Because I—"

He interrupts me. "I'm trying to kiss you now. It would be helpful if you stop talking."

"O—"

Then his mouth is on mine, and I couldn't care about anything else. My whole body feels electrified. His hands move up into my hair, cupping my head. I moan against his lips, and he pulls me closer to him. Pressed against him so I can feel everything, his tongue finds mine.

I tease his mouth, giving him little bites and licks. He shifts me forward and suddenly, I'm on my back, and he's above me, licking down my neck, towards my—

"I didn't think I'd have to knock to come into my own office."

Oh, shit. Esme.

"Hey, y'all," says Tanya as she peeks around her partner.

Andnow it's worse.

We bolt up.

Edward speaks first.

"I'd thought you left for the day."

Esme snorts. "Obviously," she responds drily. "Don't you two have homes? Do you really have nowhere else you can do this?"

"I seem to recall you saying something else a few weeks ago, Esme," says Tanya pointedly.

Oh. Oh. Oh, god.

"What can I say? The smell of permanent marker gets me all hot and bothered."

Edward and I both shudder. I mean, we love Esme, and Tanya's great, but still I don't want to know that much about them. After embarrassing myself enough tonight, I'll barely be able to look them in the eye as it is. At least both of our pants are still buttoned. Shit. Aren't they? I look down just to check. Edward's got a more obvious problem than I do. Heh.

I know without looking in a mirror that my face is blooming red.

"We were just packing up and getting ready to leave," Edward says.

"That's what it looked like," agrees Tanya.

"Uh-huh," Esme says as she crosses her arms around her chest. "Edward, you know I love you like a son, but please don't let this happen again. You know you're not supposed to have a key, and I could really get in trouble if anyone else came by."

Edward shrinks down, as if he's being reprimanded by his mom.

"I know. I'm sorry," he says like a puppy with its tail between its legs.

She sighs. "I know you are." Esme pauses. "So are we ready for next week?"

He brightens. "Yup. I'm just getting the schedule in order."

"You're not torturing yourself over that, are you?" she asks.

"Nope," he says, as I'm nodding my head up and down vigorously.

She laughs, deep and throaty. "Get out of here. I'm sure you have more important things to do. I'll clean up," Esme offers.

"But—" Tanya starts.

"Whooo, this place stinks of Sharpies!" interrupts Esme.

"We're leaving now. Thanks, Esme, Tanya," says Edward.

We grab our stuff and go. It's safer that way.

"Your place or mine?" he asks as we're walking hand in hand across campus.

"Ben's visiting this weekend, remember?"

"Oh yeah," he says.

"And, um, Ang can get a bit . . . loud?"

"No more! Please no more," he says as he covers his ears and starts to hum. "I can barely deal with Esme's revelation as it is. Please do not tell me about your best friend and her boyfriend. I don't think I can take much more tonight."

"Really?" I purr. "No more?" I get up on my toes and lick the shell of his ear.

"Oh god," he groans.

I've successfully stopped him in his tracks. Score one for me.

"You didn't really mean that did you?" I ask as I drag my lips down his throat.

He groans in response.

"I can't wait to take you home, and do this to other, more private parts."

"Holy shit, Bella," he gasps.

"Take me home."

"Yes."

Y!Y!Y!

We rush to his apartment. He fumbles with his keys, almost dropping them, trying to get the door to unlock. It probably doesn't help that every few steps, I'd devise some new way to torture him. A nibble here, a lick there, a well-timed bite of my lower lip . . .

Finally, he swings his door open.

"Any one home?"

His place is dark. With any luck that means Rose is at Emmett's, or somewhere else that is not here. As much as I like the girl, I'm extremely glad to not see her.

"So, before we were interrupted," I begin

"Yes?" His voice cracks.

"I believe I was here," I say as I lower my mouth to his. "And your hand was here," I say as I raise his hand to my breast.

His hand closes around my boob with enough pressure to make me throb.

Edward closes the door shut behind him and gently moves me toward his bedroom, kissing me without pause.

"Is this okay?" he asks.

"Yes."

My knees hit the edge of his bed, and I fall backwards into his tangled sheets. His bed isn't made, and it smells like him. Mmm, delicious.

We lay side by side, kissing, our hands exploring each other's exposed skin.

His hands seek me out under my shirt. He tugs on the hem. "Take this off, please."

That's probably the fastest I've ever whipped off my clothes.

His lips travel down my throat between the valley of my breasts.

"So beautiful," he murmurs.

The proximity of him, as well as his compliment, cause me to heat up.

I pull at his shirt. I need to feel his bare chest against mine.

"Off," I demand.

He obeys and then his skin is pressed upon me. I can feel his rough hair rubbing on my sensitive flesh. He kisses my groaning mouth, and all of the sensations seem like too much, until he thrusts his hips into mine. I press back in response, and now it's him that's making some noise.

"Oh god, yes," he moans.

I sit up. "Yes?" I ask eagerly. "Yes, like yes?"

He sits up next to me and takes my hand in his. Looking into my eyes, he says, "Yes. Tonight, if you like because I really want to. I really, reallywant to."

Instead of answering him with words I crush my whole body against him, lips through feet.

"I want you so much. Yes," I say against his mouth.

I run my hands up and around his chest, down his shoulders. I can't get enough of him. We kiss, and I wish we could do this forever, before we pull away gasping, still closely pressed together.

His hands circle my breasts. "Is this okay?" he asks.

"Yes."

He gently traces my flesh where it rises and falls, following the lines of my bra until he reaches the clasp in the back.

"Can I?"

"Yes."

My heart is thrumming against its cage. His touch makes me feel so fucking alive, like I'm about to burst out of my skin.

The pressure around my ribs releases, and he slips the straps off of me, kissing me where they made grooves in my shoulders.

"You." Kiss. "Are." Kiss. "Amazing," he says. Kiss.

I thrust my chest towards him, silently begging him to do something, anything. I'm so lust-glazed by now I almost don't care. I just need to feel him wanting me like I want him.

His hands cup my breasts, and he nuzzles me with his nose. His tongue darts out towards my nipple, but before he makes contact, he stops.

"May I?"

"You're driving me crazy," I say.

"I know."

I pull his mouth up towards mine and attack his lips and tongue. I want every part of him that I can have, right the fuck now.

"You know as well as I do that active, enthusiastic participation can also demonstrate consent," I say teasingly.

"Yup, I do, but this is more fun." And then the bastard goddamn winks at me.

He hovers over my nipple again. "You didn't answer me," he scolds, looking up at me. I arch towards him, closing the distance between us, but he moves farther away. "Well?" he asks.

"Yes, god yes. Please." I can barely get the words out, I'm aching for him so much.

Only then does he slip his tongue around me, pulling gently.

Oh, sweet jeebus. I bite back a screech, he feels so goddamn good.

His fingers are dancing along my other breast, and while he nips at the nipple in his mouth, he pinches the other one. Shit. He's really good at this.

I'm playing with his bronzed chest hair, following its path, going low, low, lower. My fingers dance around the waistband of his jeans. I stop.

"Is this okay?" I ask.

Edward buries his head into my breast. "God, yes."

"You sure?" I'm playing with the button on his pants now, my other hand ghosting over him through the denim.

"Please, Bella."

I pop the button open and move the zipper down, as slowly as I can manage. I really just want to tear off every stitch of clothing we're wearing and rut against him, but I'm more civilized than that—maybe.

Through the cotton of his underpants, I can feel the heat of him. I slowly stroke his length through the soft fabric with one finger, then two.

"May I?" I ask sweetly.

He groans.

"I'm sorry. I didn't catch that."

"Please," he says raggedly.

I grip his length in my hand. He feels so good, hot and hard and needy. In response, his lips kiss their way back up my chest, pausing slightly at my neck to give me a hard nip, and complete their route to my mouth, where he ravishes me with tongue.

Oh so slowly, I move my hand up and down him, pressing when I get to his tip. Each time, he moans against my tongue and pushes himself harder into my hand.

"I want, I want, I want," he pants.

"Me too."

His hands are on my hips now, slipping over and under my pants. He tugs at my waistband.

"Please."

"Yes."

His nimble fingers which I so admired from when we first met, are unbuttoning my pants and pushing their way down my legs. If I had known this is where we would be tonight, I would have worn cuter underpants, damnit. At least I had the good sense to shave.

This isn't the first time that we've seen each other like this, but knowing that it is the first time we'll be connected this way makes everything seem so much more heightened. My skin is flushed, and I'm having trouble catching my breath. Edward looks so in awe of me that I can't help but squirm under his gaze.

"I can't believe you're here, in my bed, like this," he says as he wipes a damp tendril from my forehead. "I wanted you—this—for so long."

I realize how powerful this is, our moving forward together, after agreeing to once we felt a deeper connection. I gasp, recognizing the full weight of what this means for him, for me, for us.

"Me, too."

"May I?" he asks as he tugs on my panties.

"Yes."

"May I?"

I slip my hand underneath and touch his heated flesh.

"Yes."

I push his last barrier between us down his legs and my god, he's beautiful. Every part of him is sculpted and firm. I don't know how I got this lucky. Perhaps I was really good in a past life.

"I can see that brain of yours working overtime," he says. "Let me help quiet it."

His mouth is on mine, his hips rocking against me, his arms holding me close. So much skin . . .

We roll over, and he looks up at me, smiling so bright. He lowers his mouth to kiss me, and I'm so close to coming undone just from that. Of their own volition, my hips move against him, causing us both to push our heads back and moan.

Edward reaches over into his nightstand and pulls out a condom. "Okay?" he asks, holding it up for my inspection.

"Yes."

I help him slide it on, and he gasps when I pump him once, twice.

"How?" He looks at me questioningly.

"I want to see your face," I answer.

"Like this?" he asks, from underneath me.

"No, like this," I say and I roll us over until I'm the one facing up.

He moves himself down my body, slides between my thighs, pressing kisses at the juncture where they meet my torso. He swipes his tongue up my heat, and, gasping, I grip the sheets in my hands. Slowly teasing me open with his mouth, he sucks gently until I'm arching off the bed, desperate for release.

"Please, Edward. Please," I beg.

"Please what?" He looks up at me, deviously.

"I need you inside me. Please."

He grins. "Well since you asked so nicely," he pauses. "Yes."

Moving back up my body, he presses kisses wherever his lips can reach. We're face to face and he gently plucks at my lips with his own, rubbing himself where I need him the most.

"Now?" he asks. He's teasing me now but I'm too addled to care.

"Oh god, yes, yes." I lift my hips up toward him.

He gradually, carefully, intently slips his length inside me and we both groan.

Slowly, he pushes and pulls against me, kissing my eyelids, cheeks, neck, chest. Our dance is delicate and deliberate. He's pressing against the most amazingly delicious place, and I feel myself tightening around him, when he stops.

"Bella," he sighs then thrusts right up into me. Our hips meet each other frantically, all pretense of ballet erased as we're moaning together.

Edward shudders against me.

I fall apart.

"I love you."

"I love you."

"Yes?"

"Yes."