A/N: This was written for the Beautiful Bellies contest. It didn't win, but I had a blast writing it.
Title: The Unexpected Schedule
Summary: We never know the effect a stranger will have on our life. Edward lives his life by a set schedule, never straying from his ways. What happens when he's forced to venture outside of his safe world and take a chance?
My routine was like clockwork. Every day I would get up at 6:15am and do my workout regimen consisting of 100 push-ups and a five mile run. Then I would shower, put on my suit and tie, and be in the office at 9am on the dot. My lunch break was at noon, an hour which I normally ordered from our company's delivery service, then I would be out of the office at 6:00pm and back home by 6:15pm. My evenings varied depending on the night: news shows, reading, dinner with family, or the occasional date. But I was always in bed no later than 11:30. I liked my schedule; it provided me with security. I liked having structure in my life. At least I did up until that Tuesday.
That one Tuesday where our company's delivery service was running late…so late that it forced me to venture outside my building in search of food. This task proved difficult as I adhered to a very strict calorie intake. That meant that the hot dog stand and McDonalds were both out, and left me with a Jewish Deli, an Italian restaurant, or one of those 60's style diners. I chose the Italian restaurant figuring they would have some sort of salad I could get. However, five minutes after walking in I turned around and walked out. The wait for a table had been nearly 30 minutes, and by the time I ordered my food... well, my entire afternoon would be off. With a sigh, I walked into the diner.
"Take a seat anywhere," a voice shouted out from behind the counter. I nodded and walked past the old fashioned bar stools and slid into a red vinyl booth that had my very own jukebox sitting on the table.
"Can I get you something to drink?" a different voice asked me.
"I'll have a water," I said, not even looking up while I tried to locate a menu.
"Do you know what you'd like?"
I sighed. "I haven't even looked at the menu, because I can't seem to find-" my voice trailed off as I looked up at the woman standing before me. The pink uniform did nothing for her figure and had what looked like coffee stains on the front. Her brown hair was piled on top of her head, held together by a pencil, with random wisps trying to escape that framed her face. Wide brown eyes stared down at me, probably questioning my sanity right about then.
She was beautiful.
"The menus are behind the jukebox," she gestured with her pen. "I'll get your water and give you a few minutes." She smiled, her whole face lighting up as she turned and walked away, but not before I read the name on her white name tag: Bella.
I waited until she was completely hidden from my sight before taking a menu. My eyes scanned the plastic pages, reading each selection, but my mind was still on the beautiful brunette.
"Here you go." I looked up quickly to see Bella placing a glass of water and a straw in front of me. "Anything catch your eye?"
I glanced back down at the menu. "Turkey club on wheat, mayo on the side, and can I substitute the fries for a side salad?" I would just add a few extra crunches to my morning routine.
"Sure, what kind of dressing?"
"Do you have any sort of vinaigrette?" I asked, already knowing the answer.
She bit her bottom lip. "Um, we have a fat free Italian," she answered, almost apologetically.
"That's fine." I closed the menu and placed it back where I had found it. "On the side, please," I added before she could walk away.
She nodded and jotted notes down on her pad. "Anything besides water to drink? Lemonade? Iced tea?"
"Are you sure?" she pressed, a tiny smile on her lips. "How about one of our delicious milkshakes?"
I laughed, more to myself than anyone, at the suggestion of a milkshake. "No, thank you. Especially the milkshake."
Her brow crinkled as she looked down on me. "You don't like milkshakes?" she asked, sounding surprised.
"It's not that I don't like them; I'm sure they're delicious -"
"Whoa." She held up her hand. "You're sure they're delicious? Have you ever actually had one before?"
I rolled my eyes. "Of course I have, just not for a good five years or so."
She gave me an incredulous look, then ripped the paper with my order off the pad. "I'll just go put this in for you."
I watched her walk away again, placing the paper down before the cook. My phone buzzed from my pocket, and I retrieved it, instantly slipping into work mode as I began responding to some e-mails. A few minutes later, I heard something being placed down on the table. Knowing that there was no way it could be the food, I shifted my eyes from the screen of the phone to what looked like a vanilla milkshake with a cherry on top. Bella was standing next to the table, her hands on her hips.
"We have the best milkshakes in the city. You have to at least try it." She shrugged. "If you don't like it, your lunch is on me." She flashed her teeth at me, pivoted and headed back to the kitchen.
I stared after her in disbelief before finally finding my voice. "What if I'm lactose intolerant?" I shouted, ignoring the looks of the other customers.
She turned back to face me. "Then I guess you're buying your own meal." She laughed and disappeared through the swinging red doors.
For reasons unknown to me, I tried the milkshake...and loved it. Loved it so much, that I changed one detail in my Monday-Friday schedule. Lunch was now spent at Black Wolf Diner. I arrived at 12:10, sat in the same booth, ordered the same meal, and had the same waitress - Bella.
Over time our interactions grew to be more friend-like than service oriented. Bella would have my order placed the moment she saw me walk through the door even though she tried to get me to order something different every time. I refused, reminding her of my strict diet, to which she rolled her eyes and placed another milkshake in front of me. We never saw each other outside of work, but every so often, if the other waitress wasn't late, Bella would take her 15 minute break and sit with me. Our conversations flowed easily, never lagging. We had everything and nothing in common at the same time. I was never late getting back to work, but I did have to add the morning crunches in permanently.
I would have liked to say that it was the food that kept me coming back because it was delicious, but that was a lie. It was Bella. There was something about her, something that I just couldn't put my finger on, that made me just want to be around her. My friend, Emmett, kept pushing me to ask her out, but I didn't know how that would affect our working relationship. But I couldn't deny that I wanted to see her outside of work. My attraction for her was growing along with my physical need for her. Two months after we had first met, I added a new task to my morning regimen - whacking off.
Finally, after a night of consuming more than one pitcher of beer with Emmett, I agreed to ask Bella out the next time I saw her - which was the next day. I knew I couldn't back out, especially since Emmett showed up at the diner.
"What the hell are you doing here?"
Emmett threw his arm around my shoulder. "I just had to make sure my best friend followed through on the deal. Plus, I want to see the girl who has your schedule actually changing."
I rolled my eyes, shrugging off his arm. "Just keep your mouth shut, please."
I pushed open the door and walked to my booth, immediately looking around for Bella. When I didn't see her, I just assumed she was in the back and tossed Emmett a menu.
"Hey, Edward. Your usual?" Alice, Bella's evening relief, was standing next to our table, pen ready to take down our order. I must have looked as confused as I felt because she quickly said, "Bella wasn't feeling well. She stayed home."
"Is she okay?" I asked, ignoring Emmett's snicker.
"Yeah, her stomach was upset when she left last night and it just carried over today. I think she was more annoyed that she called in than anything."
I nodded, ordered my usual and didn't even hear what Emmett ordered because my thoughts were stuck on Bella. I wished I had gotten her phone number so that I could make sure she was okay and see if she needed anything. Emmett commented on as much and I flipped him off.
Bella wasn't there the next day or the day after that. Alice said it was the flu and something about the smell of food not helping anything. Each day, I came so close to breaking down and asking Alice for her number, but pulled away at the last moment. I didn't want to violate her personal space. I didn't even know if she wanted me to have her number. So I said nothing and just waited for my favorite waitress to reappear.
Thursday night I went to the grocery store after work, needing to fill up my fridge. I was inspecting the eggs in the carton I was holding when a hand reached over my shoulder to grab another carton.
"Oh, excuse me," I said, realizing I was blocking all the eggs.
I pivoted quickly. "Bella?" Bella stood behind me, smiling. Without even thinking, I set the eggs in my basket, leaned over and hugged her. She seemed surprised at first, but then responded as well as she could holding her egg carton. We stood there for a moment, just wrapped in each others arms. It was the only contact I'd ever had with her, except for the few times our hands grazed each others when I paid the bill. Her body was so soft and fit perfectly against mine. Someone cleared their throat next to us and we broke apart, sheepish grins on our faces.
"So, um, are you going to count the calories in those as well?" Bella joked, pointing to my eggs.
"What? Oh, those? Those are for my morning egg white omelet."
She laughed and the sound warmed my heart. It had been too long since I'd heard her laugh. "Wow, you really weren't kidding when you said you follow a strict diet." She began to walk down the aisle, and I fell in step next to her.
I shrugged. "I like to be aware of what I put in my body."
"I can tell." I turned to look at her and could have sworn she was blushing. Had Bella been checking me out? Maybe there was hope.
"So, are you feeling better?" I asked as she tossed a bag of plain bagels in her cart.
She didn't answer right away, instead pondered over the selection of cream cheeses. "Yeah, I'm okay, I guess. Just tired. But don't worry, I'll be back at work tomorrow making sure your meal is perfect," she joked, bumping me slightly.
I smiled back. "Alice just isn't a substitute for you."
We both laughed, and then it hit me. This was it. This was the moment. Taking a deep breath, I touched her arm, stopping her from continuing down the aisle. "Bella, I know this may seem weird, and I hope that I'm not crossing any boundaries here, but I was wondering if maybe you would like to have dinner with me sometime?"
The expression on her face the moment I finished the question pretty much gave me the answer, and I wished more than anything that I could take it back.
"Edward, I -" she bit her bottom lip and looked down, taking a deep breath. She looked almost heartbroken when she met my eyes. "I can't. I'm so sorry. It just... it isn't the right time."
"No, it's fine, Bella," I played if off casually although, deep down, I was crushed. Maybe I had been reading the signs wrong. Maybe all she wanted was a friendship. I could give her that.
"I really am sorry, Edward. You're a nice guy - a really nice guy. It's just-"
I cut her off. "Bella, you don't need to explain. It's fine."
"Still friends?" she asked a little timidly.
I smiled. "Of course."
She let out a breath. "Okay, good. Well, I should get going. I'm meeting some friends, but I'll see you tomorrow? Chilli cheese burger with a side of fries, and a chocolate milkshake, right?" She winked at me, laughing as she walked away.
"Hey, Bella," I called after her. She paused at the end of the aisle, turning back to me. "Friends give each other their phone numbers, right?"
She smiled. "Yeah, they do." And with that she walked away.
The next day Bella was at the diner, and on the back of my bill, she had written down her phone number. I couldn't help but laugh.
We fell back into our normal routine, neither of us bringing up my request for a date, and I added yet another activity to my evening routine: conversations with Bella. It wasn't like we talked everyday, mostly just once or twice throughout the week, but I couldn't help but feel that this woman had wormed her way deeper into my life than I could have imagined.
It felt like we shared everything, but the more I saw Bella over time, the more I knew that wasn't true.
Bella was pregnant.
At first I wasn't sure. I mean, women gain weight. Hell, men do too. But then I thought of everything else: the sickness, how tired she always said she was. The thing I couldn't understand was why she didn't tell me. Or better yet, who was the father? I kept waiting for her to say something, but time kept passing and she said nothing. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore.
"So, how far along are you?" I asked as she placed my food in front of me.
Her hand shook, and she almost dropped my plate. The shock evident on her face as she stared at me. I sat there, my hands wrapped around my water as I waited for her answer. She smoothed down her apron and cleared her throat.
"Give me a minute," was all she said. Turning around, she walked over to Alice and said something. The other girl nodded, and Bella walked back to me, untying her apron. She slid into the booth across from me. "How long have you known?" she asked.
I took a deep breath, pinching the bridge of my nose. "I don't know, it's just these past few weeks you've seemed, well, different."
Bella looked down at her hands. "Four months, almost five."
I leaned across the table. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I don't know. When I found out, everything just...everything changed. I felt like it wasn't even my life anymore. I just felt disconnected with everything. I didn't even tell Alice until a few weeks ago."
"And the father?" I hated asking the question, but I needed to know.
"He was a mistake," was all she said. We both sat there in silence, neither really knowing what to say. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you."
"Bella, you don't owe me anything. It's not my business. I really shouldn't have asked the way I did. I just..." I trailed off, not knowing how to say what I was feeling. I was still in shock that she'd kept this huge part of her life from me, but at the same time, I felt a little ridiculous that I was feeling slighted.
"No, Edward. I should have told you. You've become one of my best friends. In the past six months or so, I think I've talked to you more than I've talked to anyone. I wanted to tell you, I just didn't know how. And the longer I kept it, the harder it was to say."
I nodded. I could understand her feelings, and it felt good knowing that I was someone she considered important in her life because she was definitely very important in mine.
"Do you need anything? Is there anything I can do?"
"I'm fine. Thank you, Edward." She smiled at me before looking at the clock. "I have to get back, but I'll talk to you later, right?"
I was past the point of boredom sitting in the boardroom, listening to one of the Directors talk about quarterly projections when my phone lit up and vibrated on the table. Bella's name flashed across the screen, and I sat up quickly, confused as to why she was calling me in the middle of the day. I felt multiple sets of eyes on me, but I ignored them all, standing up and walking out to the hallway. There was no voicemail message left, but I still called just to make sure everything was okay.
"Bella? What's wrong? Are you okay?"
"Yes, I'm fine. Shit, I'm so sorry, Edward. I shouldn't have called you. It's just my ride to my doctor's appointment flaked, and you were the first person I thought of, which is stupid because you have a job and - oh my God, did I interrupt something?"
"Actually, you saved me from a very boring meeting. Where are you?"
"Home. Why? Wait, no. Edward, you are not coming here. I'll call a cab. It was stupid to call you."
"You already said that, and you will not call a cab. Just give me your address."
It turned out Bella only lived a few block from the diner, which was good since she didn't have a car. I pulled up in front of the apartment complex, and Bella was waiting outside. I hopped out and ran around the car, opening the door for her. She smiled gratefully at me and climbed in. Once I was settled, she explained how to get to the doctor's office.
We had only just checked in when the medical assistant called Bella's name. She looked at me, fear all across her face.
"Bella, what is it?"
"Will you come with me?" she asked in a small voice.
"Are you sure?" I asked, surprised that she wanted me there. She didn't reply, just bit her lower lip and nodded. "Then I would be honored."
I followed her back into a small exam room. Then dutifully stood in the corner facing the wall and analyzed the heck out of some diagram of a baby while Bella changed. Trying to keep my mind off the fact that Bella was practically getting naked right behind me was not an easy task, and I was very thankful that my dress pants fit a little loosely.
"It's all clear," Bella said behind me. I turned around to see her lying down, a blanket draped over her lover half. She smiled at me and motioned to the chair next to her. I sat down, suddenly extremely nervous. I couldn't even imagine how she was feeling.
"Are you okay?" I asked her.
"Yeah, I guess. I mean, this isn't the first time I've seen the baby, but…" she trailed off, growing quiet for a moment. When she looked back up at me her eyes were wide and full of fear. "But what if there's something wrong with it? Like what if it has three heads or something?"
"Bella, I'm sure they would have noticed at least the second head last time," I said in all seriousness. It worked, and she laughed, smacking me lightly on the arm. The doctor chose that moment to walk in.
"Ah, Miss. Swan, lovely to see you again."
Bella smiled. "Dr. Cullen, how many times have I told you to call me Bella?"
"And how many times have I asked you to call me Esme?" They both laughed as the doctor closed the door and walked over to us. She spotted me sitting there and her eyebrows arched.
"Oh, and is this the father?"
"What?" Bella and I asked at the same time.
"No, this is… This is my…" Bella seemed to have a hard time with the words, and she finally just took a deep breath and looked over at me. "My Edward."
I could feel my heart growing at the sound of those words. My smile was so big that it threatened to split the sides of my mouth. She hadn't really admitted anything but at the same time, admitted everything. There was something between us. She had just called me hers, and she didn't even realize how right she was.
"All right," Dr. Cullen said. "Welcome, Edward." I nodded in acknowledgement at my name but never took my eyes from Bella, who was now looking down at her hands, her cheeks tinted pink. "Let's have us a look at that baby of yours. How have you been feeling?"
The two of them began talking about things that were way over my head, so I just watched and listened to everything around me. It wasn't until I heard the beep of the machine that the full weight of what was about to happen hit me. I was going to see Bella's baby. A wave of emotion surged through me, and I had to push it back; this wasn't even my baby. There was no reason I should feel nervous, but I did.
"There it is." Dr. Cullen pointed at a blob on the grainy screen. "Hold on, let me clear this up a little." She pushed some buttons on the machine and the picture came slightly more in focus. "There we go. Now there's the head."
"Look, it's only one," I whispered in Bella's ear. She scowled at me before sticking out her tongue, then turned her attention back to the monitor.
"Would you like to know the sex?"
We both froze. "It's not too soon?" Bella asked, her voice at a higher pitch than normal.
Dr. Cullen chuckled. "You're at 20 weeks now. That's definitely not too soon."
Bella looked over at me. "What should I do?"
I leaned over, brushing her hair out of her eyes. "What do you want to do? This is completely up to you." We stared at each other for a moment before she nodded. In a move that surprised me, she took my hand in hers.
"I'm ready." Her grip on my hand tightened as she watched the monitor. I squinted my eyes, trying to see if I could make anything out. Was that a penis or a foot?
"Congratulations, Bella. You're having a boy."
So it was a penis.
"A boy?" Bella breathed, eyes still fixated on the screen. She gripped my hand and turned to me. She was beaming and her chocolate eyes were glistening. "I'm having a boy."
I nodded. "That's the rumor."
I leaned my forehead down, resting it against hers. My Bella.
"I wonder if you can take Lamaze classes solo?"
Bella was sitting down, leaning against a tree with her legs propped up, supporting a magazine. I was lying with my back on the grass before her, my arm slug over my eyes, shielding me from the sun. It was a beautiful day outside, and it felt nice to just relax.
"What?" I mumbled, the sun making me sleepy.
"The breathing class. I wonder if it's mandatory you have a partner?"
I removed my arm from my face, squinting against the harsh glare. I pushed myself up on my elbows and rolled my head so that I was looking at her. Bella was looking down at her magazine, turning the page and biting her lip. I smiled to myself at the way she was balancing her container of strawberries on her stomach. At about 24 weeks pregnant, Bella seemed to finally be comfortable with her body. She would still complain about aches and pains, but I also noticed how she would get a wistful look in her eye whenever we looked at baby supplies, or how she would absentmindedly rub her stomach when her hands had nothing else to do. And she was just beautiful.
"Why are you worrying about having a partner?"
She gave me a pointed look and nudged my shoulder with her bare foot. "I don't want to get kicked out of the class if I show up without someone."
"You won't. You'll have me," I said simply, lying back down in my original position and closing my eyes. Bella didn't say anything so I just assumed that she had gone back to reading her magazine.
I turned my head and opened one eye. Bella was staring down at me, the magazine forgotten by her side. I could see that she was ready to argue with me, like she did every time I offered my help. Sighing, I rolled on my side and propped myself up on my elbow.
"Look, Bella, I'm your friend, right?" She nodded. "And friends help each other out, right?" Her eyes narrowed, but she nodded again. "Then let me do this for you. I want to do this for you. I mean, if you don't want me there, that's a whole different matter entirely. But at least take Alice. You are not alone in this." Somewhere during my lecture, my hands found themselves massaging Bella's foot. This light touching wasn't uncommon for us anymore; in fact, it was now comforting.
"What about your schedule?" she argued. "You don't have time for this."
"I always have time for you," I admitted.
After my initial request for a date was denied, I had never tried again. I was comfortable in the way our relationship was growing. I was comfortable in recognizing my own feelings for her. Somewhere during all the scheduling and constant routines, something happened that I didn't plan. I fell in love with Bella. Now, while I would probably never work up the courage to tell her, I couldn't help but wonder if she felt even the slightest inkling for me. There were moments, such as now, where when she looked at me and it looked like she also wanted more.
I softly kneaded my hands into her arch, and she moaned, leaning her head back against the tree. We stayed that way for awhile. I switched to the other foot, wondering if Bella had fallen asleep.
"Oh!" she suddenly exclaimed, pulling her foot from my hands.
"What?" I asked, sitting up.
"He's kicking. Oh! He did it again. Damn, this kid's going to be one hell of a soccer player the way he goes at it."
I watched her in awe as she moved her hand, following the soft ministrations coming from within. Then suddenly, she held her hand out to me. I looked at her questioningly.
"Do you wanna feel?"
I don't know what she saw on my face but it caused her to laugh. She reached over as far as her body would allow her, trying to grab my hand. Still trying to wrap my head around what was happening, I reached out to her. Her hand grasped mine and placed it gently on her stomach. She took two of my fingers and pushed down gently on the spot she was just touching. At first I didn't feel anything. It was the first time I'd ever touched a pregnant woman's stomach, and it was firmer than I thought it would be.
Bella repositioned my fingers a tad bit higher, pressing down again. And that's when I felt it. I quickly moved the rest of my body so that I was sitting next to her. She slowly removed her hand, giving mine free reign. Had this been any other time I would have reveled in the fact that I was touching Bella in a place I never had, but I was otherwise occupied. I could feel her watching me as my fingers followed the light tap-tap of her stomach. I scooted myself down until my face was level with her bump.
"Hey there, little man. My name's Edward. I'm a friend of your mommy's. I would call you something other than 'little man' but your mom is a very indecisive woman and can't settle on a name for you." I laughed as Bella slapped the back of my head. Her body shook as she laughed, and I felt him kick again. "Do you like your mommy's laugh? It's very beautiful, isn't it?" I chanced a look up at Bella. "Your mom is a very special woman. You're extremely lucky to have her. Like, did you know that she makes the best milkshakes in the world? No lie. Just be careful, or you'll gain ten pounds every week. Trust me." Bella rolled her eyes, but couldn't hide her smile. I winked at her, then turned back to her bump. "On another note, little man. There's a lot of people out here who can't wait to meet you, myself included. We're going to have a lot of fun, you and I. I'm thinking big time - like hockey games." At the mention of sports, the tapping started up again. "Yeah? You like the sound of that? Garlic fries? Beer for me, soda for you? Rink-side seats, all the works."
He was kicking up a storm, and Bella pushed me off of her. "Okay, enough talk of sports. My son is going to be a momma's boy and hang out with me and watch movies..." she trailed off and looked down at her stomach. The kicking had stopped.
"Hockey," I whispered, laughing as he kicked.
"Evil, that's what you are," Bella scolded, suddenly moving around. "Not even born yet and he already likes you better."
I sat up on my knees, trying to hold back my laughter. "Bella, what are you doing?"
"What does it look like I'm doing? I'm trying to get up. All that kicking made me have to pee," she grumbled.
I hopped up, brushing the grass off of my jeans before leaning down and scooping Bella up. Once she was standing, I bent down to her stomach.
"It was nice chatting with you, little man. We'll talk more hockey later," I grinned evilly at Bella, dodging out of her way as she tried to hit me.
I laughed, circling back to pick up our stuff. Bella stretched out her back, and then used my shoulder to balance on as she slipped on her flip-flops. Her hand lingered on my shoulder a few seconds longer before she let it fall to her side. She sighed, looking a little sad. I gave her a questioning look.
"How are you still single?" she asked, shaking her head.
The next few weeks passed in a blur as I helped Bella set up for the baby in her apartment. Since she only had one room, we rearranged her room so we could fit in the crib and accessories - well, I rearranged, Bella supervised. We also did a lot of shopping for the remaining items that she didn't get at her shower. She, of course, refused anything that I tried to buy, only I bought it while she was off looking at something else. We went to countless doctor appointments and finally started Lamaze class - with me as her partner. Our friendship was completely intact, but I could feel something happening between us; like we were standing on a precipice and any slight movement would push us, though I wasn't sure which way we would fall.
A few days later, we fell.
I walked into the diner on my lunch, like usual, waving at Alice and sliding into my booth. A few seconds later, Bella walked by and slammed a glass of water down, then walked off. I looked at Alice, confused.
"She's having a bad day."
I nodded, thanking her for the warning. I sipped my water, watching Bella as she walked around the diner, slamming things down right and left. I kept trying to talk to her, but it was like she was avoiding me. She passed by me and grabbed a plate off of the counter, turning around. I honestly didn't even know what happened; the next thing I knew, the plate was on the ground with the food strewn all around it. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked toward the noise.
"WHAT?" Bella shouted. "You've never seen a pregnant woman before?" An elderly man in the booth closest to her grabbed some napkins off of his table and went to help her. That was obviously not a good idea.
"I don't need your help!" she yelled. I quickly slid out of the booth and moved toward her. "I don't need anybody's help! I can do this!"
"Bella," I said slowly. She turned to face me, the anger in her eyes flickered briefly before dying out.
"Edward?" she asked, sounding almost surprised.
I took the final steps that brought me to her and slid my arm around her shoulders. She sagged against me as she broke down in tears. I looked over at Alice. "I'm going to take her home." Alice nodded, her face solemn.
Very carefully, I maneuvered Bella out of the diner and to my car. She said nothing as I helped her into the passenger seat and pulled out of the parking lot. I sent a quick e-mail to work informing them that I would not be back for the day as I weaved through traffic. The car was silent except for the occasional sniffling coming from Bella. I wanted to ask her what was wrong but didn't want to provoke another break down. I told myself that if she didn't say anything by the time I was home, I would ask her. I slid into my parking spot, turned off the car and ran around to help Bella out. I led her past the doorman and into the elevator. It wasn't until I had closed the door to my place that she seemed to wake up.
"We're at your apartment," Bella said, her voice hoarse.
I tossed my keys in the bowl by the door. "Yeah."
"I've never been here before."
She moved almost timidly around the living room, taking everything in. I leaned against the door, arms crossed over my chest, as I watched her. I couldn't even recall how many times I'd thought about having Bella here; now here she was, and I was actually nervous.
Her hand trailed over the back of my couch as she made her way to the windows. One of my favorite things about this place was the panoramic view of the city the windows provided me. Bella lightly touched the pane of the glass before turning to look at me.
"It's beautiful." I nodded. "God, this place must cost you a fortune each month."
"Actually, I own it." Bella's eyes widened. "So, I guess that makes it not an apartment – maybe a condo or something."
"Wow," Bella breathed out.
I shrugged, pushing off of the door. "I just didn't like the idea of paying a monthly rent." She looked at me once more, then back out the window. I walked up behind her. "Bella, what's wrong?"
Her shoulders shook, and I knew she was crying again. "I can't do this, Edward. I'm going to be a horrible mom."
"What?" I asked, unable to keep the disbelief out of my voice. I moved so that I was in front of her, the sun beating down on my back.
Her face was streaked with the tracks of her tears, and I gently brushed them away with my thumbs.
"I'm a waitress at a diner. I don't know the first thing about being a mother. And I think I'm going to raise this baby alone? How? There's childcare and doctor appointments and clothes every week because don't babies grow fast?" She was rambling now, pacing back and forth in front of the windows. She would go from light to dark as she walked across the shaded areas caused from the dividers. She stopped. Her eyes were wide, almost pleading as she looked up at me. "He's going to hate me."
"What? Bella, no." My heart was breaking as I watched her destroy herself inside.
"Well, then he's at least going to resent me. I resented my mother for never being around, and now I'm going to do the same thing. My mother was right. It's a cycle. I'm just perpetuating the cycle."
"What if I resent him?" Her voice was small, eyes terrified. "What if I can't love him?"
"Oh, Bella, honey, no." I covered the distance between us in two strides, pulling her face between my hands. "Look at me and listen." My eyes gripped hers, refusing to let her look away. "Don't you for one second think that you're going to fail this baby in any way. You are strong and amazing, and I am in awe of you every day." She opened her mouth to argue, but I continued, talking over her. "And as for love." My hand slid down until it was resting on her stomach. "This baby will be loved."
"Edward," she whispered.
"He will be loved by you and Alice and your father…and me." I tucked a lock of hair behind her ear.
"You're going to love my baby?"
"I already do," I answered honestly. "He's a part of you." I searched her face for any indication that she understood what I was saying, what I was trying to tell her. Realization hit her face, her mouth forming an O in shock.
"I love you, Bella. I have for a very long time now. And I want you to know that even though you don't feel the same, I'm not going anywhere. I will always be here if you need me, if he needs me."
"I wanted to say yes," Bella said in a rush. My brow furrowed. I wasn't expecting her to say 'I love you back', but I was confused by her choice of words.
"That day in the market. When you asked me to dinner. I wanted to say yes." Bella's voice was hurried, her eyes blinking at a rapid pace. My hands slipped away from her, falling at my sides. "But I couldn't. I had just found out that I was pregnant, and I couldn't do that to you. You deserve better than this; better than me."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "Bella, there is no better than you."
She opened her mouth to protest, but I'd had enough – waited long enough. Wrapping my hand around the back of her neck, I pulled her to me, bringing my lips to hers. Everything seemed to disappear, the only thing remaining was us. Bella's mouth moved timidly under mine, almost afraid. I wanted to take away her fears, show her that she was protected, that she would always be protected. We broke apart, and I smiled down at her. Her face was flushed, and her breathing was a little spiked. But her eyes, what I saw in her eyes…she wanted me. My internal self did a little happy dance as I tried to remain calm. I had to be sure.
"Do you want this Bella?" I could see doubt creeping back into her eyes, but I pushed through it. "Don't think. Just yes or no. Do you want this with me?"
I was grinning like a fool, but I couldn't help it. Bella smiled shyly up at me, placing her hands on my chest. Lifting herself up on her tiptoes, she placed a small kiss on my lips. I wrapped my arms around her, pulling her as close as I could with her stomach between us. The kiss grew, and I could feel my body reacting. I was about to pull away, to slow us down when Bella whispered in my ear.
"I want you."
Bella jerked back, her eyes wide, apparently shocked by what she had just said. I, however, was thrilled. I reached down and grabbed her hands, pulling each one to my mouth and placing a kiss on the backs. I took a step backward, bringing her with me. Another step. Slowly, I led her into my bedroom. I paused at the foot of the bed giving her time to look around. Her eyes widened when she saw what was in the corner.
"Edward, what is that?"
I followed her gaze and shrugged. "A stroller."
Bella dropped my hands and walked over to it. "For who?" I gave her a look that clearly said she knew damn well who it was for. "Oh my God, it's a Bugaboo. Edward, these cost a fortune!"
I shrugged again. "I just wanted him to have the best."
Tears flowed down her cheeks and she wiped them away, laughing harshly. "I hate being over emotional. Everything makes me cry."
I laughed, walking over to her. "You weren't supposed to see this until after he was born. You ruined the surprise," I joked.
"Today's just full of surprises," she responded, running her hand atop the stroller.
"Come here." I held my hand out to her and she took it, allowing me to pull her close. "I love you." It felt so good to finally be able to say it.
"I love you, too."
I froze, unable to believe what I just heard. Bella ran her hand through my hair, down the side of my face, making a trail all the way to the top of my tie. With her bottom lip firmly between her teeth, she loosed the tie and pulled it over my head, letting it fall to the ground. Her hands were shaking when they reached back up for my buttons. My eyes never left hers as she began undoing each button until my shirt loosely hung open. I shrugged out of it and grabbed the hem of my undershirt, throwing it over my head.
Bella gasped, slowly running her fingers down the planes of my chest. Her touch felt so good, so warm, that I had to close my eyes. Soft lips placed gentle kisses above my heart, then moved down to place one on my nipple. This time I gasped. I felt her smile against my skin as she moved across to the other side. Her hands were working on my belt as she covered me with open mouth kisses. I pushed her hands away, quickly making short work of the belt and pants as I kicked off my shoes, stepping out of the pants as they fell to the floor. Bella pulled back, once again assessing me. I smirked as her eyes fell upon my erection, not hidden by my boxer briefs.
I walked behind her, trailing my fingers across her collarbone and down her back to where the apron strings were tied. With a slight tug, the bow came undone and the apron fell. I leaned forward and kissed her neck. Her head fell back against me as I worked my way up to her ear, nipping it lightly. She moaned and the sound went straight through me. My hands moved down to her thighs, pushing the hem of that god awful diner dress up her legs, over the curve of her stomach, above the swell of her breasts, and then removed it completely, throwing it to the side. Bella's arms immediately crossed over her chest, hiding herself from me.
"Bella?" I asked, concerned.
She ducked her head, her hair shielding her face from me. "I don't want you to see me like this." Her voice was barely above a whisper.
I quickly moved around until I was in front of her. "Bella, you are beautiful." She rolled her eyes, still not looking up at me. "Please don't hide from me." I kissed her shoulder, moving down to her elbow. I sat on the edge of my bed, placing my hands on the sides of her stomach. "Every part of you is so beautiful. " I leaned over and placed soft kisses over the firmness of her bump. I heard her sigh, and a few seconds later, her hands wove into my hair as I moved over her curves.
Never moving my lips from her skin, I slid one of my hands down in between her legs. She gasped, hands tightening in my hair, as I slid my fingers inside her underwear, lightly brushing over her clit. I sat back, wanting to see her face. Her eyes were closed, lips parted as she held on to me. Gently, I slid a finger inside her. Her eyes flew open and met mine. Her breathing picked up, and I added another finger, pumping lightly.
"Edward…I…," she breathed out.
"Shh, baby, it's okay. Let it go."
I kissed her stomach again at the same time that I brushed my thumb over her clit and Bella came instantly, calling out my name. I removed my hand and rubbed the side of her thigh while I waited for her breathing to calm. I felt a tug on the back of my hair and looked up.
"Thank you," she mouthed.
I chuckled. "No, thank you." She smiled, brushing my hair back. Reaching behind her, my fingers unclasped her bra, finally revealing her full breasts to me. I cupped one gently, remembering how tender they were supposed to be right now. My thumb grazed over the tip of her nipple, and Bella moaned. That sound stirred something within me, and I leaned forward, sucking her nipple in between my lips. My other hand moved to caress her left breast, enjoying the fullness of her chest.
Standing up, I kissed a trail up her breastbone until I met her mouth. I turned us around and carefully eased her down until she was sitting on the bed. I bent down on one knee and removed each of her shoes, kissing the bottom of each foot. Bella watched me in wonder as my hands slid up her legs, grasping the top of her underwear. She leaned back on her elbows, and with some moving of her hips, I removed them from her body. This time it was my turn to take a minute. My eyes roamed over her naked form, leaving nothing undiscovered.
"Let me see you," Bella said softly, gazing up at me.
I could deny her nothing. Standing up, I peeled off my last article of clothing. I actually felt a little nervous as her eyes moved over me, but I couldn't help but chuckle when she blushed noticing how ready I was for her.
Placing my knees on both sides of her, I leaned over, supporting myself on my hands and kissed her. Her hands slid up and down my back, sliding lower until they cupped my ass.
"I'm not sure…" I started, then paused. "I don't know how you want to do this so that it's most pleasurable for you." She smiled, motioning for me to get up. I did, helping her stand when she held her hands out to me.
"I think with me like this," she climbed back on my bed with my help, this time on her knees. "I saw this in a book for pregnant women. May I?" She gestured toward my pillows and I nodded, handing them to her. "It's called something like, Cloud 9." We both laughed as she stacked them up, making a little soft pile for herself, patting the top when she was done.
Once she was satisfied, she looked over her shoulder at me, her lower lip between her teeth. She was still upright on her knees as I crawled towards her, wrapping my arms around her waist and pulling her against me. My lips attacked her neck, my hands gently kneading her breasts. My erection was rubbing up against her back, causing delicious friction, and I couldn't wait to be inside her.
As if she could read my mind, Bella leaned forward, the pillows providing a cushion for her stomach. She looked back at me and smiled. Leaning over, I kissed her cheek. "Let me know if I hurt you." She nodded.
I sat back up, positioning myself behind her. I placed my hands on her hips and took a deep breath, sliding into her in one smooth motion. We both moaned at the contact, taking the moment to get used to the feeling. Bella moved her arms up, curling them around the pillow, sighing contentedly.
"Oh my God," I breathed out.
Slowly, I began to move. It was unlike anything I'd ever felt. Bella's breath was picking up, little moans escaping her at every thrust. The sunlight shined through the windows, casting shadows on her naked body. I ran my hands down her bare back, following them with light kisses. Her skin was heated to the touch as she tried to move her hips.
"Shhh, let me do all the work. Just feel, Bella."
"It's too much," she moaned out in between breaths.
"I love you, Edward," Bella panted, her hands fisting the pillows.
I pushed her hair to the side, kissing her neck. "I love you."
I could feel myself getting closer, could feel everything flowing through my body. Placing one hand on her back, I slid my other one around her waist, coming to a stop between her legs. Rubbing slow circles over her clit, I began thrusting at a quick, shallow pace. Bella was panting, fists curling and uncurling as pleasure rocked through her. Her legs began to quiver as she pulsated around me triggering my own release. I came hard, calling out her name.
My legs gave out, and I collapsed, careful not to put any weight on Bella. She curled up on her side, facing me. Her hand reached out, tenderly brushing my hair back.
"Hi," she whispered.
I captured her hands, kissing her fingertips. "Hi. Are you okay?"
She giggled. "I'm amazing." I smiled as she yawned.
I leaned over and kissed her. "I think someone needs a nap."
"Hmm," Bella hummed, closing her eyes.
Moving her gently, I brought the pillows back to headboard and scooted her up. I pushed all the blankets down, just leaving the sheet since it was so warm. Bella snuggled down, getting comfortable as she watched me. I crawled toward her, rubbing my hand over her stomach.
"Hey, little man, how you doing in there? Hope that didn't scare you to much." Bella laughed, giving my shoulder a push. I felt a slight tap under my fingers. I smiled up at Bella. "I think he likes me."
Bella shrugged, closing her eyes. "I guess we'll keep you around."
I narrowed my eyes in mock anger, turning away from her and situating myself so that I was propped up on my elbow, level with her bump.
"Your mom's going to take a nap now, so it's just you and me. Let's talk some hockey." The tapping picked up, almost like a drum beat.