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, a week since the disastrous blackout dinner, six days since the mariachi-fest at La Luna Nueva, four days since the barbecue, three days since the breakfast first-date, and two days since boyfriend/girlfriend status was achieved. I leave no stone (detail) unturned (unexplored).

Don't infringe. I wouldn't. I would just tell my story and be excessively wordy.

Now read on…


Chapter 59: Dream Date

Bella awoke to find herself lying next to Edward, the two of them curled around and 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, now scruffy-jawed face. She reached up and lightly touched that masculine scruffiness, having really only ever seen Edward clean-shaven. His eyes blinked groggily open with her movement and she watched as his focus went from post-sleep blankness to sudden awareness to smiling happiness. 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 along her spine.

"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 very blissful feeling in a very blissful moment.

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

Bella could kiss that bliss goodbye.

"WHAT?" she yelped, turning abruptly and 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 chuckling 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 down 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 from a wide smile. She flipped the sheet back and looked down at him.

"Would you like to be invited back?" Her eyes were narrowed in seriousness though the grin 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 over to her dresser, opening her underwear drawer, aware that his eyes were on her the whole while. 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!

When Bella reemerged from the bathroom freshened up, wearing a little make-up, and with her hair fixed up, her bed was already made up…and Edward was nowhere in sight. Nor were his clothes or belongings on or beneath the rocking chair where he'd left them the previous night. She wondered why he hadn't at least called out a goodbye, but she didn't have time to ponder that. 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 up the 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, meanwhile, was in front of the sink, in his undershirt and pants, drying off a frying pan. Bella's lunch bag sat on the countertop, next to it her coffee thermos, with 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 around, 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 and 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. Sit with me."

They sat at the counter, hovering over their shared plate, each managing to keep one hand on the other the whole time.

"You made this perfectly," 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 and grinned as she nodded and chewed.

"Worse than you could ever imagine, but this…" She gestured with her sandwich. "…this is a total Dad Breakfast Sandwich."

Edward gave her a quizzical look and she went on to explain.

"My dad can't cook dinner for the life of him—he 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 my 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 at their coffee in comfortable silence for a few minutes, 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 with a grin.

"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 as he watched her. "That's really all I'm concerned about."

"Yes, I'd say so. You've proven yourself invaluable."

Moments later, Bella backed the rental truck out of her driveway. Edward had looped 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, headed for work.

When Bella arrived at Fawkes, she saw Rosalie Hale in the parking lot, just exiting a sporty, red BMW. Rose waved and then stood there, waiting for Bella.

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

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

"Oh, no. What happened?" Rose asked.

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?" she suddenly asked. "What he did was very selfless."

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

"I have 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 I know she loves Edward—but she painted a less-than-perfect picture of him. But you've seen how she is…she's quick to…emote…and I know 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—I think she was worried Edward might become that kind of guy, you know?"

Bella nodded and frowned slightly, not exactly sure what kind of guy they were talking about.

"When I finally met Edward at the barbecue," Rose continued, "he wasn't what I was expecting; he seemed genuinely…considerate. And then as I got to know Emmett…well, Emmett loves him like a brother. He wants Edward to be his best man at his wedding someday and the godfather to his eventual children."

Rose paused and nodded at Bella's look of surprise. "Yeah…Emmett and I have had some in-depth conversations—he's really all over the map sometimes, but that just intrigues me." Bella smiled at that.

"Anyway, I asked him if Edward was a… womanizer…you know…or a cheater…and Emmett burst into laughter. He said Edward could never pull off something like that because he didn't have a deceitful bone in his body."

"No, I'm sure Edward isn't like that," Bella said. She really didn't know what else to say to Rose; this whole conversation had her somewhat floored.

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

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

Rose smiled. "Emmett actually seems to think 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 at that.

"Come on," Rose said, smiling at Bella's reaction. She jerked her head toward the administration building. "I didn't mean to talk your ear off out here."

They headed for the office, with Bella processing what Rose had told her.

She knew Alice was pleased about her and Edward. And she certainly understood what Rose meant about Alice emoting—because she did seem to overreact 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 history until now.

That certainly explains a few things, though.

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 initially too!

Emmett, she figured, 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 tonight you can find out what that's all about.

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? I told Emmett you were going to ask him."

"Oh. Yes, we'll be there. He seemed kind of excited about 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, giggling.

"Yeah. I would love to peek back in time and see what it was like when they were first rooming together in college. They must have been the ultimate odd couple."

Bella nodded. "You mean out-of-control, happy-go-lucky Emmett and good-natured but somewhat-annoyed 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 for tomorrow. Most of the faculty wears them on Fridays and to sports events to show support and to look like an authority figure."

"Where do I get one?" Bella asked.

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

Shelly smiled up at them through her ornate glasses. "Good morning, ladies. Staff shirts—well, I actually just sent out an email to take orders. They'll 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 up 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 above her flamboyant glasses.

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

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

"Great. Thank you, Shelly."

Bella and Rose headed for the staff lounge, putting lunches in the refrigerator before going off in their respective directions for first period.

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

She took her phone out of her purse to send him a text.

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

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

Yes, of course. But you don't have to treat me. I'm 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 and receptive to being treated to dinner? xo –b

Her phone buzzed with an incoming call seconds later. 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 the sputtering voice from the other end of the line as Bella burst into laughter. "That's totally unacceptable!" Edward's voice continued as he broke off into chuckles. "I can be completely receptive and 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. And 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 line and kissing the crap out of Possessiveward on the other end.

"Good," he replied, the smile evident in his own 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 well imagine. Just be careful. Don't try to see how fast you have to go to make that blue Ford 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."

"Sorry. I couldn't resist. I'll see you tonight at seven, okay, Bella?"

"Okay. 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.

Yummy. 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. Stella became pretty self-sufficient at an early age and for that reason, it is unexpected—but quite a relief—to be able to depend upon an emergency contact. So, thank you for being there to rescue her.

You were curious about Stella's dreams of Ethan those first few nights. Perhaps someday (after a few—or many— drinks) I'll reveal the content of those dreams. For now, I'll just say they were rather…wild. Stella would curl up and die from sheer embarrassment if she revealed them now. So until she's ready to share, just let your imagination run crazy—Stella's did.

And yes, Stella missed Ethan (and watching his intriguing self) when he was in Chicago. Maybe that's why she snooped. What a surprise that Ethan is a snoop too! So you were speaking for both parties when you wrote, "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 you. 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, though I'm sorry it was difficult to get here.

Like any fanfiction reader, I completely understand the newest chapter being over all too quickly. I'm glad you want…more. I do too. I look forward to future collaborations and the unfolding of the 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 it was easier than saying it would be. It was kind of fun, actually, corresponding with him about the two of them in this way. She wondered if he would write back.

She sent the private message off and took her phone back out. There were two things she wanted to let Edward know and she only had a few minutes before her next group of students would be coming in.

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 to herself 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, Edward! 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 to himself as he imagined Bella's reaction to his return text. He looked at the clock and then at the time of the very first text she'd sent, realizing she was probably in class once again. He chuckled to himself, imagining 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. Both were inherently frightening. The more positive thing he needed to tell her was frightening because…what if the sentiment wasn't returned? And that second thing she should know…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 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 in exasperation.

He sat back in his chair at his desk, one hand firmly fixed 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. Hunched forward in his chair, his arms stretched forward, virtually hugging his computer as he read.

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

You're dear to me, too, Bella.

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 that second reading. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat as he contemplated possible wanton wildness. And 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 another uncomfortable adjustment in his seating arrangement.

A grin curled at his lip at her comment that she missed watching "his intriguing self" 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. 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.

Edward smiled at the final paragraph. They both wanted more.

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

He leaned back in his desk chair after a moment, and then swiveled around to face the Seattle skyline out the windows, clasping his hands behind his head.

You have to tell her…soon.

oOoOoOoOo

Bella's day passed in a blur, focused as she was on the evening ahead.

At lunch she returned to Shelly Cope's desk to pay for and pick up her staff shirt. When she returned to the lunch table in the lounge, Jasper was prompted to go see if Shelly Cope had any men's large staff shirts left.

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.

She pulled into her driveway a little before five and carted her purchases and school 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 Edward's home. She was only there for a few minutes; just long enough to swoop in and pick up what she needed before dashing back across the street, glad that 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 down near the stairs to take up to her bedroom shortly. She wandered back into the kitchen, grabbing a bottle of water and a piece of fruit and headed out to her patio to sit on the glider 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 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 just didn't know for sure, but he sensed being only two and a half days into a relationship the declaration would seem a bit too hasty. Or abnormal. He certainly didn't want to appear abnormal in Bella's eyes.

He felt fairly 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 who he could talk things over with.

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 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.

That's a horrible choice! 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 would let it ring one more time and then he would just hang u…

"Hello? Edward?"

"Uh…yeah. Hello, Mom. 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 this morning. 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 God…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'm terribly 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?"

Edward sighed as he twirled and twisted his hair for a moment.

"Edward? Are you there? 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 chickened out.

"Are you and Dad going to the football game tomorrow night?"

"Oh." She paused, obviously knowing this wasn't what he'd been wondering about. "Well, of course…it's the first game of the season… You know 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, 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. It is. 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…that's just wonderful! 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, warm and friendly girl. I spoke with Alice on Monday night and she mentioned you'd gone out for breakfast with Bella that morning. She said you really sounded quite taken with her, and I can certainly see why you would be. But I haven't heard anything since that conversation with Alice. So…you are still seeing Bella?! That's wonderful! That's just 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.

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

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

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

Edward heard a stifled little squealing noise and then 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. And then she suddenly asked, "Oh, my goodness…was that what you wanted to talk about with your father?"

"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 then he rested his forehead on his arm, looking 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?"

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

He nodded, looking out, 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 scare her off. I don't know…am I crazy? Is this normal?"

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

"No, not even. Twelve days ago. But we…kind of 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 fast, 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. 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.

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 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 at him 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 place 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, his footsteps halting abruptly.

There in the grassy backyard, in the waning sunlight of the day, sat Bella. She was on a blanket, leaning back on her hands, her legs stretched out before her. Next to her, also on the blanket, were two place settings and a small glass bowl. To the side of the blanket stood the picnic basket Edward had bought her on their first date three days ago. He barely heard the music that had begun playing on a little table behind him.

"Edward? Will you help me with this?" Bella asked again, reaching over and patting the picnic basket to her side with a smug little smile. "It's our dinner—our dinner out."

Edward's sparkling green eyes held hers as he broke into a wide smile. He began walking towards her as 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. From the playlist I made for the barbecue?"

She nodded, smiling slyly up at him.

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

Bella nodded again, smiling more widely, her dark brown eyes twinkling 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 said, 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 growing in my yard, but I have these." She pointed to the glass bowl. It was filled with strawberries…soaking in Cointreau…and of course there was whipped cream in the picnic basket. "And the picnic items I told you I'd make are all in here," she said, patting the picnic basket once again.

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

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

He swooped in suddenly with an exultant growl, wrapping his arms around her and pouncing on her to the sound of her surprised shrieks of laughter.


A/N: Awww...they're each other's dream dates! And they're having THE DREAM DATE!