Fan Fiction, Sex Gods and Single Girls

A/N: It's been twelve days since Bella ka-blammed and ker-powed her way into Edward's world. And now...


Chapter 58: Dream Date

Bella awoke to find herself lying next to Edward, the two of them entangled with each other like clinging vines. She tipped her head up so she was no longer looking at his chest but at his sleeping, scruffy-jawed face. She reached up and lightly touched that masculine scruffiness, and his eyes blinked groggily open with her movement. His focus went from post-sleep blankness to sudden awareness to smiling happiness, and a contented humming sound vibrated in his throat. She recognized her own feelings in his expression and sound. It was really quite wonderful to wake up and re-discover their new state of being.

"Good morning," he said in a husky, sleep-thickened voice.

"Good morning," she replied with a smile and a happy sigh as his hand moved languidly down her back.

"You usually wake up at six, don't you?" Edward asked after a moment as his eyes flickered past her toward her bedside table.

"Mmm-hmmm," Bella murmured as his hand settled on her rump and gave it a slight squeeze. "How much time do we have?" she asked as she snuggled her naked self into his warm and glorious and rather erect nudity. It was a blissful feeling in a blissful moment.

"It's already almost six thirty," he replied.

Bella could kiss that bliss goodbye.

"WHAT?" she yelped, jerking her head over her shoulder to stare in alarm at the alarming time on her alarm clock.

"OHMYGOD! OHMYGOD! Imusthaveshutmyalarmoff! I'vegottatakeashower and I'mgonnabesolate!"

Scrambling out of bed in a flash, flashing Edward her naked body as she did so, she began lurching to and fro in a tizzy of hectic indecision.

Edward's eyes widened and he began smiling as he watched her delectable nakedness jiggling about.

"Bella! Bella! Calm down! You're not going to be late. You took a shower last night…with me. Remember? Take it easy. You've got a half an hour to get ready; you can make it."

"Oh, good grief, you're right!" she said, collapsing onto the bed in relief. "Oh, thank God!" She turned to look at his grinning face as she pulled a corner of sheet up to cover her exposed body.

Edward's grin broadened into a wicked smirk. "Now you're shy?" he asked. "Seriously, I just watched every square inch of you hop around and dance a whirling dervish, and now you're going to hide it all from me?"

Bella blushed and lunged toward his smugly smirking, oh-so-handsome, oh-so-right face. She flipped the sheet over his face as she moved, covering that handsome thing up, listening to the sound of his surprised laughter through the fabric, now stretched tautly over his very fine face. She leaned down and kissed the outline of his laughing mouth—which quit laughing and returned her kiss, an interested little sound emanating from his throat. When she pulled back, she could clearly see the outline of his cheeks bunched up in a wide smile. Flipping the sheet back, she looked down at him.

"Would you like to be invited back?" Her eyes were narrowed in seriousness, though the smile on her lips gave her away.

"Yes, Ma'am," Edward replied solemnly, his eyes sparkling with amusement.

"Then I suggest you be polite. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to get ready for work."

"Yes, Ma'am," Edward reiterated.

She stood and marched nakedly to her dresser, opening her underwear drawer, aware that his eyes were on her. Fishing panties and a bra out of her drawer, she headed for the bathroom, wiggling her behind for his viewing pleasure. She heard a giggly little groan and looked over her shoulder to see him pull the sheet up, tenting it over his head once again. There was additional tenting further down his body, Bella noted with a grin, but she didn't have time to help him with his morning-wood-issue—he'd have to deal with that himself.

Oh hell…the image of him...dealing with…that…himself… It's enough to make my head explode!

Just get in the bathroom before he catches you glazed-eyed, slack-jawed, and drooling!

oOoOoOoOo

When Bella reemerged from the bathroom, freshened up, hair fixed-up, wearing underwear and a little make-up, her bed was already made up. And Edward was gone. His clothes and belongings were no longer on or beneath the rocking chair where he'd left them the previous night. She wondered why he hadn't called out a goodbye, but she didn't have time to ponder. Instead she darted into her walk-in closet, choosing a pair of light gray pants. As she stood inside her closet, pulling up her pants, she thought she heard a noise downstairs.

"Edward?" she called, sticking her head back out of the closet and listening for a response.

"Down here!" his voice called up from below.

"What are you doing?" she called back as she buttoned and zipped her pants.

"I'm helping you get out of here in a timely fashion so you'll invite me back!"

She giggled as she grabbed a plum-colored blouse off a hanger and pulled it on, wondering what the hell he was up to. Stepping into a pair of low-heeled black sandals, she simultaneously buttoned her blouse and then yanked her dark gray cardigan off another hanger. Taking a quick glance in the mirror and satisfied with the overall look, she dashed out the door and down the stairs, smelling the aroma of food.

Edward's dress shirt was hanging off the back of a barstool at the kitchen counter, his shoes nearby on the floor. He stood at the sink, in undershirt and pants, drying off a frying pan. Bella's lunch bag sat on the countertop, next to it her coffee thermos, which had steam rising from the open top. A bottle of creamer and another coffee cup, half-full, stood nearby. Two sandwiches, both cut in half, were lying on a plate.

"You made us breakfast?!" she asked in surprise as he turned, drying his hands on the towel.

"You were in a hurry and I was thinking maybe you needed a lunch. But I saw your bag in the refrigerator, all set to go. The coffee was already perking so I thought I'd make a quick breakfast. I hope that's okay." He nodded toward the plate on the breakfast bar.

"Edward, that's…lovely!" she said, beaming at him.

"I don't know how lovely a fried egg sandwich is, but I figured you could take it with you if necessary."

Bella glanced at the clock. She still had a little time; it was only five 'til seven. More importantly, there was a ridiculously handsome, scruffy-faced breakfast chef standing in her kitchen.

"I have a few minutes. I'll make better time driving the rental truck today anyway."

And so they sat at the counter, hovering over their shared plate, keep one hand on eachother the whole time.

"This is perfect," Bella moaned midway through her first bite.

Edward rolled his eyes. "It's kind of hard to screw up a fried egg sandwich."

"Obviously you've never had my mother's fried egg sandwiches," she said, taking another bite.

"That bad, huh?" Edward raised an eyebrow, grinning as she nodded and chewed.

"Worse than you could imagine, but this…" She gestured with her sandwich. "Thisis a total Dad Breakfast Sandwich." Edward gave her a quizzical look but she went on to explain.

"My dad can't cook dinner for the life of him—he usually eats fast food or goes to the diner. And lunch is always cold cuts. But he does breakfast well—always has. Whenever I'd go back to my mom's after visiting him, I'd want her to make breakfasts like he did but the results were always dreadful. Within a few days I'd go back to Lucky Charms cereal. Your sandwich, though, is Dad-worthy."

Edward smiled. "So I can do a Dad-breakfast. Good to know."

They ate and sipped coffee in comfortable silence, with Edward's fingers stroking the small of her back, and Bella's hand occasionally squeezing his knee.

"Do you want the last bite? I'm full." Bella held out the remainder of her sandwich. Edward leaned forward, opening his mouth agreeably, and she fed him the last of it.

"Thank you for that," she said, wiping a crumb from the corner of his mouth and kissing him on the chewing cheek as she got up to clean up.

"Will I be invited back?" he asked, watching her. "That's really all I'm concerned about."

"Yes. You've proven yourself invaluable," she laughed.

A short while llater, Bella backed the rental truck out of her driveway. Edward had already driven his Vanquish around from where it had been parked in front of her house to his own driveway. He stood there barefoot now, holding his shoes in one hand and returning her wave with the other, as she drove off to work.

oOoOoOoOo

When Bella arrived at the Fawkes High School parking lot, she saw Rosalie Hale exiting a sporty, red BMW. Rose waved and then stopped to wait for Bella.

"Good morning," she called as Bella approached. "Didn't I see you driving an old red truck the other day?"

"Hi, Rose. Yeah," she replied with a sigh. "This one is a rental. My truck died yesterday morning."

"Oh, no. What happened?"

Walking through the parking lot, Bella gave her a quick rundown of the previous morning and the role Edward had played in her rescue.

Rose stopped, glancing back at the rental truck before turning a direct and thoughtful gaze on Bella.

"He's been good to you then, hasn't he? What he did was rather selfless."

Bella blinked, surprised at the question. "Yeah, Edward is…amazing. Why do you ask?"

"To be honest, Bella, I was prepared to dislike Edward before I even met him." Bella's eyes widened and Rose nodded. "I know. That sounds terrible. But Alice vents to me sometimes, and she painted a less-than-perfect picture of him. But you've seen how Alice is…she's quick to…emote...and I should have taken that into consideration. But Alice had a dismal experience with her ex-husband, much like I did with my ex-boyfriend, and I think she was worried Edward might become that kind of guy, you know?"

Bella nodded, frowning slightly, not exactly sure what Rosalie meant.

"When I met Edward at the barbecue," Rose continued, "he wasn't what I was expecting. He seemed genuinely…considerate. And as I got to know Emmett… Well, Emmett loves him like a brother. He wants Edward to be his best man someday...and the godfather to his eventual children." Rose paused at Bella's look of surprise. "Yeah, Emmett and I have had some in-depth conversations. He's really all over the map sometimes. Anyway, I asked him if Edward was a…womanizer…you know, a cheater, and Emmett burst into laughter. He said Edward could never pull off something like that because he doesn't have a deceitful bone in his body."

"No, I'm sure Edward isn't like that," Bella said, shaking her head.

Rose's expression softened. "I shouldn't have been so judgmental. And I'm sorry if I offended you, Bella, I just wouldn't wish what Alice or I went through on anybody, so…I felt like I had to ask."

"No, I understand." She did sort of see where Rose was coming from now.

"Emmett also said he thinks Edward has finally met the right girl to get past the barricade and really get to know him. That's got to be a good thing, right?" Bella blushed and nodded and Rose smiled at her reaction.

"Come on," Rose said. "I didn't mean to talk your ear off."

As the walked toward the office, Bella processed what Rose had told her. She certainly understood what she meant about Alice emoting—because Alice did react strongly to highs and lows. And Alice had mentioned a little about Rose's history at the barbecue, but other than knowing Alice was divorced, Bella hadn't any idea about her own history until now.

That certainly explains a few things...

She felt bad about Rose forming an opinion of Edward before she'd even met him, but she was glad he had managed to prove himself to her.

Hell…he proved himself to you as well! You had the wrong opinion of him, too!

Emmett, as Edward's college roommate and closest friend, seemed likely to know Edward best, so his opinion of Edward probably meant the most.

But what does it mean that Emmett thinks I'm the one "to get past Edward's barricade?" Why would he be cautious about letting someone in?

Maybe you can find out what that's all about tonight.

Crap! Tonight! We never talked about that this morning. Are we still on for dinner?

"Bella?" Rose's voice interrupted Bella's thoughts. "Are you and Edward coming to the game tomorrow night?"

"Oh. Yes, we'll be there. He seemed kind of excited at the prospect of everyone getting together again."

"Good. Em will be happy to see his other half of the bromance there." Rose snorted a laugh.

"They are kind of funny together, aren't they?" Bella asked with a grin.

"Yeah. I would love to peek back in time and see them as roommates in college. They must have been the ultimate odd couple."

Bella nodded. "Out-of-control, happy-go-lucky, sporty Emmett, and in-control, serious, and somewhat-nerdy Edward?"

"That would have been them," Rose laughed.

As they neared Shelly Cope's desk, Rose turned to Bella. "You should get a Fawkes Hawks staff polo shirt. Most of the faculty wears them on Fridays and to sports events, to show their support."

"Where do I get one?"

"Right here." Rose gestured toward Shelly's desk. "Good morning, Shelly. What can you tell Bella about staff shirts?"

Shelly smiled up at them through her ornate glasses. "Good morning, ladies. I actually just sent out an email to take orders. New shirts will be twenty-four dollars but we won't get them for two weeks. I have a few left from last year, though, for fifteen dollars." She looked at Bella. "I'm pretty sure I have one that would fit you and the design is practically the same as this year's." She raised her brows in inquiry.

Bella smiled and nodded. "I'll take one of last year's."

"Great. I'll dig one out and put it aside for you, Bella. You can come back at break or lunch and pick it up."

"Thank you, Shelly."

After putting their lunches in the refrigerator in the staff lounge, Bella and Rose said their goodbyes and headed off for first period.

oOoOoOoOo

By the time break rolled around, Bella had decided she'd wait until lunch to pick up her staff shirt. She had more pressing issues to attend to now, namely, Edward.

She took out her phone and sent him a text.

I forgot to ask this morning—are we still on for tonight? I want to treat you to a dinner out. xo –b

Bella stared at her phone, successfully willing a prompt reply.

Of course. But I'll be more than happy to do the treating. xo –E

Bella rolled her eyes. Did he not understand the point? She wanted to thank him for all he'd done yesterday—at least in some small way. She grinned at her phone as she typed out her reply.

Would you prefer I look for another date—someone who is more cooperative about being treated to dinner? xo –b

Seconds later, her phone buzzed with an incoming call. There on the screen was the photo of her sexy neighbor/boyfriend/trucker/breakfast chef, leaning against his car, smirking beneath his Asshole hat. She giggled at his swift response, answering the call as if she had no idea who might be calling.

"Hello?"

"Over my dead body!" came his sputtered reply as Bella burst into laughter. "That's totally unacceptable!" Edward continued, breaking off into chuckles. "I can be completely cooperative! How's this for cooperation: What time should I pick you up so you can treat me to dinner?"

Bella laughed into the phone. "That's a definite improvement, but you're not driving either. This is my date and I'm in charge! But you can meet me at my house at 7:00 and we'll go from there. How does that sound?" She wrapped her arm around herself, wishing it were wrapped around him.

"I can very cooperatively do that. So it'll just be the two of us? You're not bringing along some alternate dinner companion, in case I blow the whole cooperation thing again?"

"It's just us." Bella smiled into the phone, though she would have preferred jumping through the phone and kissing the crap out of her Possessiveward.

"Good," he replied, the smile evident in his voice. "So, how's your morning going?" he asked. "You got to school in plenty of time, I'm guessing?"

"Yes, I got here before seven thirty. It's quite an experience driving something that doesn't shimmy and shudder when I go over 50 miles per hour."

Edward laughed. "I can imagine. Just be careful. Don't try to see how fast you have to go to make that blue Ford F-150 shimmy and shudder. It's probably up in the triple digits on those newfangled trucks."

Bella giggled. "My truck is on its deathbed and you're making fun of me!"

"I'm sorry. I just couldn't resist. I'll see you tonight at seven, okay?"

"Yeah, I'll see you then. Bye, Edward."

Bella put her phone away after he said goodbye, and smiled for another full minute as break ended and her free period began. Looking about her desk, she realized there was nothing that needed doing. She'd caught up on paperwork, her classes were planned through Monday, and no handouts needed copying. Her time was her own and so she pulled out her laptop.

She'd been about to write a response to STARDUSTED's most recent review last night, when Stardust Ed had actually shown up at her doorstep in the flesh. And of course, after their conversation, Stardust Ed and his flesh had wound up in her shower and bed.

Just so frickin' yummy! Gah! Gah! Gah!

She re-read the review he'd written on Tuesday, the one she'd read before pizza night at his house, which was followed by his fanfiction confession at hers.

And then she wrote her reply, hoping he would read between the lines. This was the first time they both knew who was writing and who was reading and who and what they were both really talking about.

Review reply from: bellybeans

Message: Dear STARDUSTED,

I can't tell you how much I've loved going back and rereading your reviews and private messages. They read quite differently now that I know your secret identity. ;)

We haven't gotten very far into our story yet, but you know Stella's feelings about Ethan began changing for the better almost immediately, and have only continued to develop.

You seem to have a tendency to think and expect the worst, though I'm not sure why. It makes me curious about the past. Ethan isn't a bad guy—he's far more the hero-type. And Stella became rather self-sufficient at an early age, and for that reason, it's unexpected—but quite a relief—to be able to depend upon an emergency contact. So, thank you for being there to rescue her.

Perhaps someday (after a few—or many—drinks) I'll reveal those dreams Stella had about Ethan those first few nights. For now, Stella would curl up and die from sheer embarrassment if I told you. So until she's ready to share, just let your imagination run wild—Stella's did.

And yes, Stella missed Ethan (and watching him) when he was in Chicago. Maybe that's why she snooped. What a surprise, that Ethan is a snoop too! But as you once put it, "If some interesting and enigmatic someone has your attention, it just seems human nature to be curious, though it might lead us to do something against our better judgment."

Knowing what I do now, about how upsetting the events of that Chicago trip were, I wish I could rewrite that scene for your real life. But I do wonder, if things had played out differently, would we be where we are now? I like our here and now and where we seem to be headed.

Like any fanfiction reader, I completely understand the newest chapter update being over all too quickly. I'm glad you want…more. I do too. I look forward to future collaborations and the unfolding of this story.

xo from your Stella,

-b

She sat back and re-read what she'd written. They were things she wanted to tell him and writing was sometimes easier than speaking. It was kind of fun, actually, corresponding with him about the two of them in this way, and she wondered if he would write back.

She sent the message off and took her phone out once again. There were two things she wanted to let Edward know and she only had a few minutes before her next class.

You should check your email for a private message from the Star-lighted site. And by the way, did you know you talk in your sleep? ;) xo –b

She smiled, wondering if that would torment him just the tiniest bit. She waited for a moment and was just about to turn her phone off and put it away, when it vibrated with a reply.

I'll check my email. What did I say in my sleep? xo –E

Bella grinned as she replied.

My name. And then, "Tell her, Cullen." I'm curious what that was about. xo –b

She fired that off and sat there, waiting with bated breath, chewing on her lip and hugging herself, watching the clock, hoping the bell wouldn't ring before she got her answer.

Ummm…"Tell her, Cullen. Tell her you talk in your sleep." ? ;) xo –E

"GAH! Oh my god! That's evil!" Bella cackled with laughter into her empty room just as the bell rang, signaling the end of her free period.

oOoOoOoOo

Edward was sitting in his office, smirking as he imagined Bella's reaction to his text. He looked at the clock, realizing she was probably in class once again. He chuckled to himself. She was probably adorably frustrated with his glib reply. But the longer he sat there, thinking about it, the more frustrated he became, wondering just what the heck he had been babbling about in his sleep.

Two distinct things came to mind.

And only two.

Both were things he needed to tell her. And both were inherently scary.

The more positive thing was scary to admit because… Well, what if the sentiment wasn't returned?

And that other thing…involving his family members and best friend... Well, what if she ran off, never to return?

He sighed as his fingers crept up and into his hair for a good grope.

Fuck.

He twiddled and twisted and tugged.

Fuck!

"How the hell do I do this?" he asked aloud, glancing over to make sure his door was closed before he fully embarrassed himself by carrying on a conversation…alone.

"You have to tell her both things," he said adamantly. "It's the right thing to do."

In the same sentence? "I know we just started dating three days ago, but I've fallen in love with you, and my family and best friend are reading your not-so-anonymous fanfiction."

"Yeah, that would go over really fucking well," he sighed, thrusting his forehead into his hand.

How about reversing the news and ending on a positive note?

"Say…funny thing about fanfiction is you never know who's reading it—my family and best friend for instance—but heck, I'm head over heels in love with you, so who cares?!"

"Fuck, fuck, FUCK! This is fucking ridiculous! Who has to deal with this kind of stuff?!"

You do.

"Well, obviously!" he snapped, throwing his hands up in the air.

He sat back in his chair, one hand firmly ensconced in his hair, the fingertips of the other hand drumming incessantly on his desktop as he deliberated.

"Shit!" he suddenly said, sitting up. "Her email!"

He quickly pulled up his email and opened the recent arrival from Star-lighted dot net. Hunching forward in his chair, his arms virtually hugged his computer, and his virtual Bella.

"My dear STARDUSTED," he read aloud. The salutation alone made him smile.

His eyes moved onward, pleased that she enjoyed rereading what he'd written, knowing it was from him now. He was just so thankful that whole situation had turned out positively.

"You have yet to find out, to what degree my feelings for you have changed, Bella," he murmured to the screen. "Do you feel the same, or would you think me unbalanced to declare myself so soon?"

He wondered at her comment about him expecting the worst. That was sort of true, but not in all things…really only where she was concerned…and mostly because he wanted this to last.

It pleased him that she thought of him as her hero, if only for the fact he had rescued her from her Chevy Detonator.

You're important, Bella. Of course you can depend upon me.

Edward read the paragraph twice, where Bella alluded to her early dreams about him. He hoped the exact kind of wild dreams she'd had would become crystal clear during his second reading, shifting in his seat as he contemplated possible wanton wildness. Then he zeroed in on her comment that she might reveal that information after a few drinks.

She was so fucking cute when she was a little loopy that night at La Luna Nueva!

"We might have to get a few drinks in you tonight at dinner, Bella," he said with a low growl, and yet another adjustment in his seating arrangement.

A grin curled at his lip at her comment that she missed watching him, while he was in Chicago. But as he continued reading, it touched him that she wished she could re-write the upheaval of his experience there.

"You and me, both, bellybeans," he sighed. "You and me, both."

He stroked a finger across his lip at the question of where they might be if things had played out differently, but the point was moot. They were here now.

I like where we are and where we seem to be headed, too, love. I just wonder if you'll think I'm crazy, or think this too fast.

But his heart leapt at the final paragraph.

They both wanted...more.

He leaned back in his desk chair, swiveling around to face the Seattle skyline out the windows, and clasped his hands behind his head.

"I'm hopeful about the unfolding of our story as well, my Stella-Bella-bellybeans."

oOoOoOoOo

Bella's day passed in a blur, focused as she was on the evening ahead. And when she left school at the end of the day, she was thankful she didn't have any work she needed to take home. Her afternoon would be a busy one, with several errands to run, before she got home and got ready for her date with Edward.

Pulling into her driveway a little before five, she carted her purchases and things into the house. Digging around in her purse, she found the little key chain that sported an Eiffel Tower and the keys to Edward's home. Rushing out the door, she darted across the street and let herself into his home. She was only there for a minute. Just long enough to swoop in and pick up what she needed, before dashing back across the street, thankful he hadn't arrived home early to catch her in the act.

Back in her home, she unpacked her purchases, putting away a few groceries, and then setting a bag near the stairs to take up to her bedroom shortly. She wandered back into the kitchen, grabbing a bottle of water and a banana, and headed out to her patio to sit for a few moments and enjoy the afternoon sun. As she ate her banana, her thoughts naturally turned to Edward. And their dinner out. And which new pretty underwear set she should wear tonight.

oOoOoOoOo

Edward spent the remainder of the morning, his lunch hour, and a good portion of the afternoon, mulling over acceptable time spans for professing that one had fallen in love. He had tried to Google the topic, but to no avail. He didn't know for sure, but he sensed being only two and a half days into a relationship, the declaration might seem a bit too hasty. Or abnormal. And he certainly didn't want to appear abnormal in Bella's eyes.

He felt certain he was in love, though he'd never experienced the feeling before. But what he was feeling for Bella was definitely something he'd never felt before. It was a big feeling and it just seemed to expand exponentially every time he was with her.

Or talked to her.

Or texted her.

Or read an email she'd written.

Or daydreamed about her.

Sounds like an unbalanced and all-consuming obsession.

Get the fuck out of here! Why do you try to ruin everything?

It was mid-afternoon when Edward decided he couldn't take the conversation he was having with himself in his head a moment longer. He knew he wouldn't find the answers to his questions within himself, and so he pondered others, with whom he might find the answers.

Emmett?

You're kidding, right? He falls in love at the drop of a hat.

Right. Okay, so, no. How about Alice?

Again, you're kidding, right? Her one foray into love ended in a divorce from that philandering asshole leech, whom you decked in a bar brawl.

And he lost a tooth! But once again, you're right. So who does that leave?

I think you know.

No… You can't mean…

Yes.

Surely there's another choice?

No. Pick up the phone. Do it.

Fuck.

Edward held the phone to his ear, listening to the rings, deciding he should maybe just hang u…

"Hello? Edward?"

"Uh…yeah. Hello, Mom. Is...is Dad there?"

"You don't usually call during a workday. Is everything all right? Are you all right?"

"Yeah, everything's fine, Mom. I'm fine ,too. Can I just talk to Dad, please?"

"He's not here. He was called into surgery. One of his colleagues is ill. Edward, what's wrong?" There was an obvious edge of worry to her voice.

"Nothing's wrong, Mom. I just needed to talk to Dad about something. It's…kind of…important."

"I see." After a split-second pause Edward heard an audible gasp. "Oh, dear…this isn't about some kind of a…paternity issue…is it, Edward?"

Edward slapped a hand against his forehead and closed his eyes, leaning sideways in his desk chair.

"No! God, no! Nothing like that, Mom! Jesus Christ!"

What the fuck were you thinking, telling me to call this number?

I was thinking Dad would be home.

Well, he's not! And now I'm having a penis conversation with Mom! So, fuck you very much!

"Oh, Edward. I'm sorry… I didn't mean to imply… Or jump to conclusions... It's just…well, you calling and wanting to talk to Dad in the middle of the day about something important is so…unusual. Is there something I can help you with?"

"No. I just had…a…question…I wanted to ask him. That's all."

"A question about what, dear?"

Edward sighed as he twirled and twisted his hair.

"Edward? Hello?" Her voice sounded worried again.

"Yeah, I'm here, Mom."

"Maybe I can answer your question? I'd be happy to try."

Edward sighed again.

She IS the other half of the successful relationship, you know. Just talk to her.

I can't believe I'm taking your advice.

"What I'm wondering is…" He hesitated.

And then he chickened out. "Are you and Dad going to the football game tomorrow night?"

"Oh..." She paused, obviously doubtful this was what he'd been wondering. "Well, of course. It's the first game of the season. Dad and I always go."

"Great. That's great. Good." Edward nodded, irritated with himself.

"Are you planning on going, Edward?"

"Huh? Oh…uh…yeah. Yes. As a matter of fact I am. With Bella, actually. You know, the girl across the street."

"Really?!" Her voice had just gone up in pitch and volume. "Of course, I know who Bella is! So, is this a…date…for you two?"

"Uh, yeah. Yeah…we're…we've been kind of…going out, you know?" He was lightly smacking the top of his head as he leaned forward, trying to come up with a nice and easy way to ease into his question. Some way in which he could ask his question, get his answer, and then his mother would suffer an immediate bout of amnesia as he ended the call. But that option didn't exist in this dimension.

In this dimension the floodgates were about to spring a leak.

"Oh, Edward…! You're dating her!" Her voice was a sudden giddy gush, as her maternal joy flooded the phone line. "Your father and I really enjoyed meeting her at the barbecue. She seems like such a nice, sweet, lovely girl. I spoke with Alice on Monday night, and she mentioned you'd gone out for breakfast with Bella that morning. Alice said you really sounded quite taken with her, and I can certainly see why you would be, but I never heard anything since then. So…you are still seeing Bella?! That's just so wonderful and so exciting!" She paused for a breath and when she continued her voice dropped suddenly lower. "Are you just seeing her, Edward?"

Edward scrubbed a hand over his face wishing he could just hang up. And maybe suffer an immediate-yet-long-lasting bout of amnesia of his own.

"Yes. I'm just seeing her." He stood up from his desk chair and paced over to the window, looking out over Seattle.

"So…does this mean…Bella…is your…girlfriend? You and Bella are a…couple?" Her voice was halting and hesitant and overwhelmingly hopeful.

Edward huffed heavily. "Yes, Mother. She's my girlfriend...I'm her boyfriend...and now that I think about it, I guess that makes us a couple."

Edward heard a stifled little squealing noise, followed by a faint, repetitive thumping sound. "Mom? Mom? Are you…jumping up and down?"

The noise ceased instantly.

"What?! No! Edward, don't be ridiculous!" Her voice sounded just a tad breathless.

"Oh, my goodness… Was that what you wanted to talk about with your father?" she suddenly asked.

"Uh, no. Well, sort of, I guess. I mean, it's actually a related question…I was just wondering…"

For fuck's sake, out with it already!

"Well, I was wondering… HowsooncanyoutellsomeoneIloveyou?"

"I'm sorry, what did you say? 'How soon can you...' what?"

Edward leaned his forearm against the plate glass window with a sigh, and resting his forehead on his arm, he looked out and downward over the city.

"How soon can you tell someone 'I love you'?"

There was silence on the other end of the line.

"Mom? Mom? Are you there, Mom?"

"I'm here, sweetie." Her voice had a wavering quality to it. "Oh, Edward…" She sniffed. "You...love her..."

Edward nodded, looking out the window, but instead of seeing all of Seattle he only saw a beautiful heart-shaped face in his mind's eye. "Yeah, I do," he said softly. "And I want to tell her…but I think it's too soon. Can you fall in love with someone this quickly? I don't… I don't want her to think I'm crazy. And I don't want to scare her off. I don't know…am I crazy? Is this normal?"

He heard a soft laugh. And maybe another little sniff. "No, I don't think you're crazy, Edward. And my guess is, you wouldn't feel the way you do if she weren't reciprocating. When it comes to love, I'm not so sure there is a 'normal.' How long has it been? She moved in...what...? Two weeks ago?"

"Not even. Twelve days ago. But we… We had some ups and downs the first few days, getting to know each other. And we only went out for the first time three days ago. Three days is too quick, isn't it?"

"Well, it does seem a little quick, Edward. You said you had some ups and downs the first few days. When do you think things started going more…smoothly...between you?"

"Um…last Thursday? No, wait. We sort of had an argument then. So, I guess it was Friday. Yeah, Friday. That was the night Em, his cousin Jasper, and I met up with her and her friend Angela at that Mexican restaurant. We've seen each other every single day since then. Do you think I should tell her on Friday? That will have been a week since things were…smoother."

"I wish I had a good answer for you, Edward. And I'm not sure your Dad would have had any better information for you... But it's the kind of thing I think you'll feel in your heart and know when the moment is right. You won't really question saying it, it will just come out naturally. And it's not as if there's only one right moment, and if you don't say it then, you'll miss your turn... When you find that right person, there are so many, many moments when it's right to say I love you."

Edward nodded his head. "Yeah, I guess, huh?"

oOoOoOoOo

At seven o'clock, promptly, Edward showed up at Bella's door. He was freshly showered, clean shaven, and dressed in black jeans and a gray button-down shirt. His sleeves were rolled up and a white t-shirt peeked out along his open neckline. He was carrying his leather jacket and wearing a deliciously crooked smile. Bella felt the heat rise in her face as his eyes raked unabashedly and appreciatively over her.

"Hi, Bella."

"Hi, Edward. Come in, I'm almost ready." She held the door open, breathing in the heady scent of Prédateur as he entered.

"You look good enough to eat," he said, stoking her blush. "That's a really pretty color on you." He nodded at the dark blue blouse she wore over her own black jeans.

"Thank you. You look very nice too." Bella was secretly congratulating herself. If Edward liked the color of her blouse, the new matching bra and panty she had on underneath would probably go over well, too.

"Do we have reservations?" Edward asked as Bella headed back toward the great room.

She stopped and turned to look back with a smile. "I don't know about you, but I don't have any reservations. You're pretty much my dream date, Edward."

Edward grinned and shook his head. "I mean where we're going."

"No, but we should be fine. The place is usually empty."

Edward watched her uncertainly as she picked up her purse from the kitchen counter, wondering how good a restaurant could be if it didn't have much of a clientele.

Bella took a few steps in his direction before pausing. "Oh, shoot. Wait here a sec?"

Edward nodded as she set her purse back down and walked to the patio slider. She opened it and slipped outside, leaving the door open behind her. A moment later he heard her voice, calling from outside.

"Edward? Will you help me with this?"

Edward strode through the house, wondering how she might need rescuing, but happy to help in any way. He stepped outside, and his footsteps halted abruptly.

There in the grassy backyard, in the waning sunlight of the day, sat Bella. She was on a blanket, propped up on her outstretched arms, her legs sprawled out before her. Next to her on the blanket, were two place settings and a small glass bowl of strawberries. To the side stood the picnic basket Edward had bought on their first date, just three days ago. Music was playing on a little table behind him, though Edward was barely aware.

"Will you help me with this?" Bella asked again, reaching over and patting the picnic basket. "It's our dinner... Our dinner out." She smiled slyly.

Edward's sparkling green eyes held hers as he broke into a wide grin. As he began walking towards her, the music filtered through his consciousness. He stopped and looked back, noticing Bella's phone on the little portable speaker system.

"Wait…that's…The Cranberries." He turned back and looked at her. "That's Dreams. Is that from the playlist I made for the barbecue?"

She nodded, smiling smugly up at him.

"And that's… That's my blanket you're sitting on!" he blurted. "You got it from my house?!"

Bella nodded again, smiling even more widely, her dark brown eyes shining up at him.

Edward's breath left him in a sudden exhalation of comprehension and delight. He couldn't contain his grin.

"You made me the picnic from my dream!" he exclaimed, shaking his head in disbelief. "I told you about it at the barbecue when this song was playing."

Bella laughed and nodded. "Yep. I remembered you saying I was on your blanket in a field of strawberries, so I snuck the blanket out of your house when I got home today. Unfortunately I don't have wild strawberry plants, but I have these." She pointed to the glass bowl, filled with strawberries…soaking in Cointreau and sugar. "And the picnic items I told you I'd make are all in here," she said, again patting the picnic basket.

Edward dropped to his knees next to her, unable to wipe the boyish grin off his face.

"You, Isabella Swan, are truly my dream date."

Swooping in with an exultant growl, Edward pounced, wrapping his arms around Bella, to the delightful sound of her surprised shrieks of laughter.


A/N: Awww... They're each other's dream dates!