Fan Fiction, Sex Gods and Single Girls

A/N: On with the mis-adventures of innocent Virginella and spazzing Coronaryward!

Chapter 54: Mood Swings and Whiplash

Edward remained incapacitated and immobile as he struggled to process what Bella had just unwittingly told him. With that one little question, "How did you know it's the first time?" he'd lost his bearings. His bearings had evidently escaped his stunned mind to go rolling away, figuratively speaking, and dropping to the floor before twirling and spinning away to end up beneath Bella's apparently quite virginal bed.

Holy fuck... She's a fucking virgin?!

Nice oxymoron, Cullen. You jackass.

I don't mean it that way! I just can't comprehend it… How is it possible?

How is it possible? I'll tell you how, you imbecilic tool! Unlike some "fucking" people, Bella didn't have sex with everyone and their sister!

Edward cringed inwardly at the thought of the Denaliskaya sisters, his sordid history with assorted women, and his heretofore less than exemplary and rather disconnected connection with those women.

What the hell is Bella doing with someone like me? How does that happen?

I'm as baffled as you are. She's as pure as the driven snow and you're as pure as nuclear waste. And she wants to give her first time to YOU? She wants to experience that rite of passage with YOU? The real question here is, 'How does THAT happen?'

"Edward?" Bella's voice broke into Edward's fog, forcing him to focus on her perfectly beautiful big brown eyes, in her perfectly lovely heart-shaped face, inches below his.

He blinked and thought to close his still-gaping mouth. He swallowed and thought it might have sounded like a loud gulp. It certainly did inside his head. But maybe that was because his head was now bereft of his bearings, and in the cavernous emptiness the sound just echoed and reverberated, banging into flitting thoughts of Bella being innocent and untouched and deserving of someone better than himself.

"Edward? Are you going to answer my question?" Bella asked, turning the question he'd asked earlier back on him. Her eyes were curious as she gazed up at him, noticing a hesitance clouding his eyes. "How did you know it was my first time?"

Edward blinked once again, realizing a response was due, and licked his dry lips. "Bella, I…uh…I actually didn't…know…"

"Oh." Bella's breath hitched. She closed her eyes in embarrassment, now understanding the sudden stillness in his body, and the hesitance she'd seen in his eyes and now heard in his voice. "That wasn't what you were saying before, was it?" she breathed, averting her already-closed eyes and turning her head to the side, trying to somehow hide from him. Of course she knew she couldn't. Everything about him…was…Just. Right. There. Still as a statue and staring.

She could feel it with her eyes closed.

She was slapped with sudden clarity. When he had teasingly asked if she really wanted make-up sex for first time sex, he had been referring to their first time, not her first time. And it was painfully obvious from the way he'd stilled, as though carved from stone, that he hadn't expected her to be a virgin. And more importantly, it was perfectly understandable why he would react that way. He now knew her embarrassing secret: she had no real, practical, hands-on experience with sex.

He's thinking there's something wrong with you.

You're nearly twenty four years old and you just announced that the factory seal is still in place on your tamper-proof box…except for self-tampering, of course.

He's thinking you have no experience regarding how to be with a real live man.

What can you possibly offer a sexual being like him…other than what you've imagined in the deepest, darkest recesses of your imagination…or watched in the occasional online porn snippet…or gleaned from titillating fanfiction?

But you have no practical knowledge to call your own! ZERO! ZILCH! ZIP! And now he's going to leave! Why would he want to stay with YOU tonight?

Bella drew in a shaky breath. "Never mind, I get it," she muttered.

Edward knew Bella's mind was running amok as he watched her and heard the sound of her stuttered inhale. Her pink and embarrassed face was turned away, her eyes clenched shut, a pucker between her brows accompanying the mashing of her lips into a small frown.

Fix this, Cullen. Fix this now! Look at her! You've obviously upset her!

"You get what?" he asked carefully, searching her eyelids, since her eyes had remained closed this entire time.

But she didn't respond. Nor open her eyes, so she didn't notice the deep concern in his eyes.

"Bella?" Edward's voice was gentle. Bella felt the warmth of his hand against her cheek, tipping her face back toward him. "Open your eyes and look at me," he coaxed. "Please?"

She opened her eyes slowly, wishing to hell he'd never turned on the lamp. This was the kind of conversation she wanted to have in the dark…possibly while hiding under something…with him blindfolded…and maybe facing the opposite direction instead of staring straight into her eyes with those incredibly beautiful, piercing and perceptive eyes of his.

"Bella, I had no idea that you were a…"

Yeah, he's definitely not staying here tonight.

"I know! I get it!" she interrupted with a huff, cutting him off before he could utter the word 'virgin' in a way that would sound like 'leper' to her ears. "I understand that now, Edward, and I'm sorry…I didn't realize my inexperience would be a problem."

Edward's jaw dropped and his eyes bugged out as she avoided his eyes once again.

"A problem?!" he exclaimed, incapable of following the incongruous path her words had just taken. His brow furrowed. "What do you mean, a problem?!" He scooted his body down along hers, holding her face between his hands until he could look into her eyes, forcing her to make eye contact with him. "Bella, don't be absurd! What on earth are you apologizing for?!" he demanded. He watched her face for clues as his brows knitted more tightly in frustration.

"I'm sorry I've never been with a guy before!" she snapped, hotly. "Obviously my inexperience is a problem and I…"

"Don't talk about my girlfriend like that!" Edward warned in a low growl.

Bella didn't get another word out of her mouth. In one smooth move Edward scooted up, swooped in, and smashed his mouth against hers to stop it from spewing any more utter nonsense. His arms encircled her, sliding beneath her, enfolding her body and holding her clutched to his chest as he kissed her to the utmost of his ability. He might have lost his bearings earlier, but his girlfriend had obviously lost her marbles just now. He could only hope he was capable of kissing some sense into her as he kissed the hell out of her.

Though she was surprised at first, Bella participated quite cooperatively and enthusiastically after a moment, giving her mouth over to the demands of his. She was so distracted by Edward's onslaught of tongue-i-lingus that she completely forgot what she'd been talking about. And when he finally pulled his very capable mouth from hers, Bella was dizzy and dazzled; panting as she gazed with glazed eyes into the smoldering dark jade looking back at her.

"Don't apologize," he breathed. "Not for being a virgin. And don't be embarrassed about it. Your inexperience is…it's…beguiling." He paused as he took in her doubtful expression. "For God's sake, Bella," he sputtered, dropping his forehead to hers. "Do you really have no idea how incredibly appealing that is?"

"It is?" She blinked in surprise.

Enough for you to still stay here with me tonight?

"Of course it is!" He refrained from rolling his eyes. Obviously she couldn't see the situation from his point of view.

But surely she must feel the situation in the front of my pants.

She'd have to be deliberately obtuse to miss that bad boy.

"But…you seemed so…hesitant, Edward."

"Look…" Edward began more gently, "I'm sorry I reacted like I did. The realization of what you were saying caught me off guard and I was just stunned for a moment. It was so unexpected. And then I thought to myself…" He hesitated. His jaw clenched. "I just began thinking …" He exhaled heavily.

I just started wondering why the hell you'd want anything to do with someone like me.

He shook his head and rolled back over onto his side, scooping Bella's body into his. He held her to him, pressing her cheek into his chest. Deft fingers combed gently through her hair as he rested his chin against the top of her head. He sighed heavily and closed his eyes, reaching up to rub his temples. When he spoke, his low voice sounded rough and regretful.

"I just don't know what the hell you're doing with me, Bella."

Bella frowned at his words.

What? What is he talking about?

She tilted her head to look up at him, propping herself up next to him. Her hand flattened against his chest, watching as he massaged at his temples, working away some sort of worry.

"Why would you say that, Edward?" she asked quietly.

His fingers stilled and his head rose up off the pillow to look down at her incredulously. "Isn't it obvious, Bella? Because you're…you! You're perfect. You're lovely and sweet and… And how the hell did I not see that you're completely innocent?! And I'm… Jesus Christ…I'm…me! With my past!" Edward waved his hand, gesturing between them. "Doesn't this seem wrong to you?! Don't I seem like the wrong guy for you?"

Bella shook her head and blinked at his frowning face in confusion.

He's trying to protect me from himself. How ridiculous! How can he possibly doubt himself? Everything he does shows me he cares.

Fix this, Isabella Marie! Tell him how you feel!

"I don't think you're the wrong for me." She shrugged. "You don't scare me, Edward."

Edward groaned as he rolled onto his back, his head flopping onto the pillow. He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. He wished he could hit the rewind button and watch a different life play out before him. A life not filled with years of meaningless hookups. A life that was more deserving of someone as pure and innocent and sweet as Bella.

He felt her arm snake upwards until her soft hand was suddenly stroking along the edge of his jaw, and then sliding up to repeatedly rake his hair back with gentle fingers. He tipped his head down, opening his eyes to see soft liquid brown eyes filled with affection.

"I like who you are," she said softly. "A lot. I don't think you see yourself very clearly but I do. The Edward I see has a sweet and funny boyish charm." She stroked a fingertip back down along his jaw as she spoke. "He's considerate, thoughtful, attentive…and protective. Just thinking about you makes me smile." She blushed and smiled, illustrating her point. "It doesn't matter to me what you were like before."

Edward stared at her. "How does my past not bother you?"

Bella shrugged and clarified. "People can change. I really get the feeling you're not the same guy you were; and that you don't want to be. And I'm guessing much of what you wrote to me as Stardusted was self-reflection and not reflections on my quasi-fictional character. So I'm willing to take my chances with you. Like I said, it doesn't matter to me what you were like…what matters is what you are like...with me. And you're really good to me."

Edward was moved by her words and the trust she was placing in him. He pulled her hand away from his face and pressed it to his chest, covering it with his own hand. Bella felt his solid warmth and the steady beat of his heart. She watched his face as he processed what she'd said, opening his mouth but then shutting it, as if he were about to say something, but then thought better of it. After a moment he looked at her, his eyes searching hers. He opened his mouth again and this time he spoke.

"I can't help wondering why you never…" He paused. "If this is too personal, you don't have to tell me, but I'm just curious why you…never...? I mean, surely you had…boyfriends?" The word left a definite distaste in his mouth, but he wanted to know. He had to know.

Bella sucked in a breath and puffed out her cheeks a little as she exhaled.

Terrific…he wants to know just exactly what kind of a loser he has on his hands… his arms.

She looked at his hand covering hers as she spoke, studying the shapes of his long, elegant fingers and the ridges and dips of his knuckles. It was easier than studying his face studying hers.

Here goes nothing…

"I've always been kind of...insular. I'm a lot like my dad that way. I shy away from a lot of social situations because I'm more comfortable being an observer than a participator…" She looked up at him and smiled awkwardly. "That's probably why I like to lose myself in reading and writing about others, you know?" Edward's eyes softened as he listened, her self-description felt quite familiar. "Anyway, I went out with a few guys here and there…but never for very long or very seriously. I guess I never really felt much of a…connection…with any of want to be with them...that way."

Perfect, Isabella Marie. That didn't sound at all embarrassing or loser-ly. Just say goodbye to him now and get it over with.

"But now you feel a connection and you want to be with me that way?" Edward asked.

She didn't answer right away, nor could she look at him. Instead she pressed her teeth into her lip as her face blushed to a crisp.

When she finally glanced up at Edward, his eyes were alight with anticipation. There was something endearingly vulnerable and boyish about his question and the hopefulness she saw as plain as day on his face. The corner of his mouth was threatening to lift into that little half-grin because he had obviously taken note of her tell-tale blush just now and he already knew her answer.

Holy crap, Edward! Yes, you interest me that way! You interest every part of me in every way!

"Well…yes. That's why I asked you to stay. And I've never actually done that before, either." She gnawed at her lip, looking at him. "Don't you feel a connection between us?" she asked hesitantly.

Edward's lips curled into a smile and the smile washed over his face and lit up his eyes. The smile flooded every inch of his being, heart and soul. "Bella, I've never felt so connected to anyone before in my life. It's like you're my magnetic north and I can't help being drawn to you and pointing in your direction."

Are you talking about your dick, Cullen?

Get the hell out of here! You're ruining the moment.

That sounded like a boner-reference.

Fuck. Off.

Bella smiled at his admission. "So, do you still want to stay here tonight?" she asked hopefully.

Edward's brows furrowed at the strangeness of her question. "Of course I do. What an absurd thing to ask."

"Really?" She burst into a grin.

"Is it really an absurd thing to ask? Definitely," Edward teased, his lopsided grin taking over his mouth.

Bella laughed, thumping his chest with her hand. "No! You know what I mean! Do you really want to stay here tonight? With me?"

Edward chuckled. "Like I said…what an absurd thing to ask."

Bella smiled broadly as she sat up. "Okay," she said happily. And then she was struck with sudden nervousness, realizing she needed to somehow prepare herself for this unexpected, definitely panic-inspiring, but potentially awe-inspiring, and most certainly tremendous and momentous upcoming event.

Holy fuck! Literally! I'm going to lose my V-card to Greek-God, Sex-God Edward Cullen! How does something like this happen?

How does this happen? Are you that clueless? You grant him access to your previously unclaimed promised land and hope you don't incinerate during the deed from the probable hotness of it all.

Ohmygod! Ohmygod! OhmyfreakinggreekgodsexgodGOODNESS! GAH!

Bella's eyes snapped up to Edward's, hoping she hadn't just uttered that out loud. His brows were raised slightly as he looked at her. But he wasn't rolling with laughter so she'd probably only thought those thoughts and hadn't given voice to them. Bella breathed a little sigh of relief.

"Um…I just need…you know…a moment to…um…" Bella pointed vaguely over her shoulder, in the direction of her bathroom. Then she looked down, gripping her Dartmouth Sweatshirt of Destiny before turning toward her tall dresser beneath the framed photo collage. "Oh…and I guess I should probably…um…" She closed her mouth, realizing she was babbling. It might just dawn on Edward that he was dealing not just with your typical virgin, but with a loony one at that. That, in turn, could lead him to rethink his decision and scamper away into the night, never to be seen again.

Luckily, she'd nipped her idiocy in the bud because Edward merely sat up from the bed and leaned toward her, smiling as he brushed his lips against hers in a soft kiss.

"Okay. I'll be right back," he said. "I'm just going to head downstairs and make sure I locked the front door earlier. And if it's okay, I'm going to grab some water. Do you want anything?" he asked.

"Yes," Bella said, nodding but failing to elaborate, wrapped up as she was in the turmoil of their imminent togetherness.

Edward grinned crookedly. "Would you like to tell me what you want, Bella, or should I just guess?"

Bella blinked at him and then rolled her eyes at herself. "I meant, yes…help yourself to a bottle of water. I'd like one too, please."

"Okay," he smiled, leaning in to kiss the tip of her nose. "Two bottled waters, coming right up." He scooted to the edge of the bed and paused to stretch his lanky frame before heading out the door and padding down the hallway to the stairs.

In his absence, Bella allowed herself an abrupt face-plant into her bedding, giving herself a quick, silent squee before scrambling off her bed and yanking open the second drawer of her dresser.

She frowned as she stared down at the drawer's dismal contents. The dismalness of her pajama drawer was right on par with the dismalness of her underwear drawer…lackluster and lacking in anything very lustrous, lacey, slinky or sexy.

Shit! Shitshitshitshit! Why didn't I listen to Mom when she suggested buying some pretty things in the event I wanted to show them to some special someone someday?

You know why—you thought she was talking out of her silly ass. Now it turns out old crazy Renee knew what she was talking about! Special Someone Greek-God, Sex-God Cullen is staying the night and you're totally unprepared. You're an idiot!

What am I going to do? All I have are cut-off sweats, hideous flannels and ancient T-shirts!

You could always lie on your bed naked, spread-eagle, and ready to get down to business.

NO! This is ME you're talking about!

So, no provocative nude pose?

Are you insane? I could never summon the courage!

There's always lying naked in bed with the sheets and covers drawn up tightly over your head.

Ohmygod! You're no help at all!

Bella heard the bathroom door close downstairs and realized Edward must be using the facilities, just like she should be doing. And of course he would be returning soon. She quickly grabbed a little pair of green boxer shorts and slammed the drawer, opening the next drawer and yanking out a bright yellow-gold tank top and slamming that drawer as well. She dashed into the bathroom to pee before Edward returned and was forced to possibly hear that situation.

Her activity in the bathroom was filled with frenzied decision and indecision. She washed her hands and face, removing what little make-up she'd been wearing earlier. Then she brushed her teeth and followed up with mouthwash. Looking at herself in the mirror she pulled off the Dartmouth Sweatshirt of Destiny and her jeans, pulling on the tank top and boxer shorts. Then she rolled her eyes, yanked the tank top back off, removed her bra, and put the tank back on, hoping her nipples would behave themselves and not stand there waving at him. And then she glanced down her body in the mirror, zeroing in on her boxer shorts, while chewing at her lip.

Panties on? Panties off? Panties on? Panties off?

She took a deep breath.

Panties off!

While removing her boxer shorts and panties, she heard Edward re-enter the bedroom. She nearly shrieked as she stood there, naked from the waist down. Mentally slapping herself, she pulled the boxer shorts back on, this time panty-free.

You're going to be naked with him shortly and yet you can't even handle the fact that he's in the next room while you're in here half-naked! He's probably undressing himself right this very moment!

GAH! Ohmygod! Naked Edward Cullen! Maybe he's even posing, provocatively and nakedly on my bed, looking like a sculpture of a Greek-God, Sex-God!

She was beginning to perspire due to excessive nerves and excessive undressing and re-dressing. Splashing cool water on her face once again, she decided to press a cool washcloth to her armpits as well…and follow up with a reapplication of deodorant…and a little baby powder…and then she thought about walking through a little spritz-cloud of her freesia body spray.

Ohmygod…look at my nipples! What the hell was I thinking using a cool washcloth on my pits?

Oh for shit's sake, Isabella Marie! He KNOWS you have nipples whether or not they're standing at attention! Even if he can't see them, there's an excellent chance he's imagining them. I'm pretty sure men do that. Now let's go!


She decided against the freesia body spray but then quickly grabbed up her hairbrush instead, tugging it briskly through her hair.

By the time you're ready Edward is likely to be sound asleep while posing provocatively and nakedly on your bed! Come on, come on, come on! I want to see this spectacular display in your bedroom. Quit stalling and get out there before he leaves!

OKAY! Sheesh!

She set the brush down. And studied herself in the mirror. And closed her eyes. And took a number of deep breaths, trying to calm herself. And then she realized she might hyperventilate and pass out if she continued doing that, so she quit.

It's time. He's waiting.

I know.


Okay. Here I go. I'm going now. I'm doing this. I'm going to do this.

She gulped and opened the door, turning off the bathroom light as she did so.

The bedroom was no longer lit up by the bright bedside lamp. Instead the light was diffused and soft, coming from the three paper star lights hanging in her window.

But Edward wasn't posed provocatively and nakedly on her bed. He was sitting at the foot of the bed, bare feet resting on the floor, forearms on his thighs, hands clasped, eyes cast downwards, staring at the floor.

Oh no…something's wrong. He doesn't want to stay.

He looked up as she approached, straightening up and giving her a small, wistful, seemingly apologetic smile.

Bella wrapped her arms around herself in a self-hug and watched as Edward's smile faded. She swallowed back the feeling of disappointment and moved to stand before him, her arms like steel bands surrounding herself.

Something's not right. He's changed his mind.

Edward reached forward, grasping her hand in his, pulling her arm free from around herself, drawing her closer to stand between his legs. He thought how lovely she looked with her halo of thick hair framing her perfect face, soft waves and curls cascading down around her shoulders. She's just so naturally beautiful, he thought, as he looked into her big, dark eyes, framed by long lashes and pretty, curving brows.

And though Edward had seen women dressed in all manner of sexy eveningwear, sleepwear and underwear, none of them, anywhere, could hold a candle to Bella. She was absolutely alluring, unassuming and unaffected, so incredibly innocent and sweet in her little boxer shorts and tank top, with its thin shoulder strap threatening to slip. Her little green shorts, her yellow-gold tank top, and her dark brown eyes and hair reminded him of the flowers he'd sent her. She looked like a Brown-Eyed Susan and that thought made him smile.

She's my Brown-Eyed Bella.

And she wants you to deflower her. Or at least she thinks she does.

I know.

"Do you know what you remind me of?" he asked softly as his gaze moved up her body to her face.

Bella looked down at herself, at her green boxers and slightly baggy, yellow-gold tank top. "Um, a frumpy Green Bay Packers cheerleader?" she guessed, placing her free hand on his shoulder.

Edward snorted a laugh and shook his head. "Uh, no, Bella. That never even entered my mind. I was going to say you reminded me of the flowers I gave you. I saw the floral arrangement downstairs and you match them. Those Brown-Eyed Susans reminded me of you when I chose them, and now you remind me of them."

"Oh." Bella smiled, looking down at herself once again. "You're right. We do match." She looked back up at his face as his hands settled on either side of her waist. She slid her own hands over his shoulders and around to the back of his head, running her fingers through his hair.

"You had me worried, Edward. When I walked in here you looked like something was bothering you. I thought you were going to tell me that you were leaving because you…don't want to have sex with me."

"Bella, I don't want to have sex with you."

"Yes, exactly," she said with a nod, looking into his eyes. And then she realized from the look in his eyes that he was actually saying those words and meaning them. Her hands stilled in his hair. She watched his Adam's apple bob and heard an audible swallow—his, not hers. Her own mouth had gone dry and she was about to die of mortification.

"You don't want…to have sex with me?" she asked. She began studiously chewing at her lip.

"No," he said quietly, shaking his head. But then his voice became much more vehement. "I mean, no! That's not what I mean, exactly. Well it is what I mean, but not like you think! Wait, I'm not explaining myself very well…" He sighed and hurried to do a better job of it. "What I mean is I really don't want to have sex with you. That's all I've ever done…had sex...and it didn't mean anything. They didn't mean anything and I didn't mean anything. I don't want that. I just… Bella, I just want to try something…with you…something different. Something…I've never done before."

A little pucker of concern formed between Bella's brows.

He doesn't want to have sex.

Not with me.

He wants to try something different with me.

Something he's never done before.

What could that possibly...?

Oh, sweet baby Jesus! Please tell me he's not talking about...butt-sex!? Ugh! No!

" you mean?" Bella asked in a cautious, strained, and worried whisper.

Edward blinked at the tone of her voice…or her breath…since it was a whisper.

"I mean…what I want is…to make love to you, Bella. I've never…done that with anyone."

"Oh!" Bella's knees nearly gave out. Whether it was from the completely unexpected yet totally Edward-like swooniness of what he'd just said, or the overwhelming relief that he hadn't been intent on exploring the mysteries of anal sex with her, Bella couldn't really decide. All she knew was that she was so overcome with a combination of emotion, relief and swoonery that she leaned hard and fast into his body, wrapping her arms tightly around his shoulders, grasping thick locks of his hair between her fingers as she hugged him. And possibly made a barely audible squealing sound.

Edward couldn't help chuckling at her. He slid his arms around her, one hand curving over her hip and the other hand clasped over her shoulder as he pressed her slender body tightly against his. He growled as he nuzzled her. And when she pulled back to look at him, he thought she was probably blushing. It was hard to tell in the low light but he could definitely see her shy smile.

Yeah, she's blushing. I might be too, actually.

"You know, Edward, technically that would make us both virgins then, since neither of us has…um…made love before."

Edward was so overcome by her kind comment that he was left momentarily speechless. He pulled her back to him and closed his eyes, holding her tightly as a tremendous feeling filled his heart.

"You have no idea how lovely you are, Bella," he finally said, opening his eyes to look deeply into hers. "I don't just mean how you look, but the things you say and do. You are so…precious to me." His gaze flickered over her sweet face then. He reached up, sliding his hand beneath her hair, his fingers lightly caressing her neck. "I do have some concerns about tonight though, Bella…" His voice was gentle.

"Oh my God, you're not staying are you?" she asked in alarm.

Edward's brows knit in confusion. "Why do you keep asking me that? I said I wanted to stay and I meant it. I haven't changed my mind." A sudden look of determination spread across his face. "Just try and get rid of me," he dared with a crooked smile.

Bella smiled, reassured. "So…what are your concerns?" she asked.

Edward really had just one concern. But it was a huge one. Majorly huge.

When he'd headed downstairs he'd thought about how ill-prepared he was for the direction things had gone, and as such, he didn't have a single condom on him. He figured Bella, being a virgin, wouldn't have any condoms, so he'd considered jogging home to remedy that situation, but it was still raining. And then he remembered the rain had been the catalyst for the whole evening's turn of events. Bella had asked him to stay when she'd heard the rain and he'd wound up telling her he'd like nothing more than to 'be with her.' He hadn't meant those words solely in a sexual sense, though of course he did want her that way. But at the time he'd had no idea she was a virgin.

As he'd returned to Bella's bedroom he'd begun considering that she might not have been inviting him to sleep with her—in a sexual sense—in the first place. Somehow the conversation had leapfrogged there. He wondered if she was putting herself in the position of giving up her virginity before she was truly ready. And that thought made him feel terrible. He didn't want her sleeping with him on a whim, or because she'd talked herself into it. And she had looked quite wary when she'd finally come out of her bathroom to rejoin him in her bedroom.

But he didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable or embarrassed by voicing those concerns. And he certainly didn't want her trying to convince them both that she was ready, when in fact she very well might not be. So instead he chose what he thought was the path of least resistance; a perfectly good argument with perfectly good, perfectly reasonable and true points.

"My concerns, Bella, are that it's really late, and you have to be up early for work tomorrow, and I don't want to rush through something that deserves to be taken slowly. I want to make our first time together a really good way. Not because it was rushed, just for the sake of doing it. I'm not saying I don't want to make love to you, I'm just saying it would be better if we didn't…tonight. I want you, Bella, believe me. But I was thinking maybe for tonight we could just…"

He paused, looking carefully at her. She didn't seem upset. She wasn't frowning. If anything, she seemed slightly more relaxed. And thankfully she wasn't asking him again if he was planning on staying. At this point she was stuck with him—he was her willing prisoner.

"Maybe we could just…what?" she prodded, raising her brows and parting her lips in a little smile.

Edward shrugged and smiled. "Maybe we could just begin by exploring the option of some…extended foreplay…for now?"

Bella blushed. Her smile was a thing of beauty. "I think I could handle exploring that option with you, Edward."

He chuckled, happy that she seemed happy and even more relaxed. Maybe he'd guessed right after all.

"Then…" He cocked an eyebrow. "Would it be okay if I took off my shirt?"

Bella's eyes widened. "No!" And then she smiled. "I want to do that."

A sort of growling purr vibrated in Edward's chest as she lifted the hem of his shirt. Admiring his sculptured torso as she slipped the shirt over his head, Bella pulled it off and tossed it over her shoulder with a shy grin. Edward smiled exultantly as he slowly stood from the bed and scooped her into his arms, pulling her body against the heat of his naked chest. He kissed her temple and tipped his head down until she felt his warm breath tickling the shell of her ear.

"What about…my jeans?" he asked in a low voice, probably intending to cause her to blush once again...and succeeding in that. But Bella recovered quickly and raised her head, surprising them both with her reply.

"Lose the pants, Edward," she exhaled hotly in his ear, feeling just a bit proud of her wanton little self as she felt a sudden shiver course through his body. But he did as she'd asked, unbuttoning his jeans, shoving them down and off, and then he stood upright, in nothing but black cotton boxer briefs.

Bella experienced a sense of déjà vu. Though Edward wasn't wearing black silk pajama pants, the sight was familiar…as was his imposing erection, also standing upright, within those black boxer briefs...

Because about three things Edward was absolutely positive. First, Bella was a virgin. Second, there was a part of her—a fairly dominant part—that seemed hell bent on losing that virginity to him. And third, judging by the jittery electricity now unleashed between them, Edward was doubtful he could hold either of them back for very long.

A/N: Just give in to it, Edward! ;)