Fan Fiction, Sex Gods and Single Girls

A/N: Back to work, with an approaching birthday...


Chapter 69: Full Circle

The day after the gardening-garden-party, Edward and Bella's workday morning routine was back in place, beginning with their new addition of…and addiction to…lovemaking. Bella had set her alarm to go off early, giving them time to get off early and even enjoy some soapy good times in the shower afterwards.

With Edward's travel kit Predatéur products, the steamy bathroom smelled of both of them, and Bella took delight in the combined scent of their scents, nearly losing her senses...

It smells like a Predator has been cavorting and gamboling in a meadow of wildflowers and strawberries!

Cavorting and gamboling? Edward? Have you lost your mind, Isabella Marie?

Okay, so maybe it smells more like a Predator has been smirking and strutting his naked and soaped-up, slicked-down, sleek and sinuous, sexy self through a lush garden of exotic wildflowers and ripe wild strawberries.

That's a crapton better! Because, damn… What a sexy beast he is!

At seven, Bella waved to her beautiful, breakfast-chef boyfriend, smiling crookedly and mouthing one last kiss goodbye as he stood on his driveway. Stepping on the gas pedal, Bella noticed Edward's elderly neighbor, Mary Jansen, seated at her living room window with her morning coffee, watching the goings-on out on Stardust Lane. Bella blushed in embarrassment but managed a resolute little wave to her.

Holy fuck! She's right there like Edward said! What must she think?

You know damn well what she thinks. One glance at the truck and she can see there's been a deflowering. Now she's watching the blooming and blossoming of your love life, probably contemplating all the romantic pollinating you two have been engaging in.

Bella rolled her eyes and sighed.

Screw it. Being in love with Edward is totally worth the embarrassment. And the pollinating is amazing!

oOoOoOoOo

During her free period at school, Bella got a text from Edward just as she sat down at her desk.

I can't stop thinking about my girlfriend. xo –E

Bella smiled and sent a reply.

Maybe you should call her and let her know? xo –b

Her phone rang seconds later.

"Hi." She grinned into the phone.

"Hi." She heard Edward's crooked smile.

"Was there something you needed to tell me?" she prompted.

Edward chuckled. "As a matter of fact, yes. I miss you."

Bella hugged herself and sighed happily. "I miss you too." There was a content little humming sound from the other end of the line.

After a slight pause Edward spoke up. "I was wondering… On Wednesday, when we go out for your birthday… Could you be ready to leave by five?"

Bella blinked. "Will we be having an elderly-person, early-bird dinner?"

Edward laughed. "No. But there's someplace I would like to take you, and we'll have dinner afterwards."

"Oh. Sure, I can be ready by five. Where are we going?"

"You'll have to wait and see." He sounded smugly pleased with himself and his secrecy.

"Can you at least tell me where we're eating?" she asked.

"That's privileged information as well."

Bella smiled. He wanted to surprise her. Then she frowned. "You'd better not be taking me to some ridiculously expensive restaurant," she warned.

Edward snorted. "Trust me, I've already figured that much out, Bella. I want you to actually enjoy your dinner, so I promise it's not over-the-top."

She exhaled in relief. "Good. But you know this is going to drive me crazy."

"I love nothing more than driving you crazy, love." His voice had that low and seductive, velvety quality that made Bella's pulse race.

"And you're quite adept at driving me crazy," she admitted with a blush. "Like this morning…" She heard a choked groan and some movement—probably Edward shifting in his seat to get comfortable.

"Damn, I wish it was still the weekend…or…this morning." His voice sounded husky.

"Me too," Bella agreed, as predominantly nude memories flickered through her thoughts.

Edward cleared his throat. "I'd better let you get back to work. But I was thinking I could bring dinner home tonight? Do you like Greek food?"

She barely heard his second question because she was so focused on the first. His use of the word 'home' seemed like it had less to do with his house and more to do with her. He was thinking about coming home to her. The thought warmed her.

"That sounds wonderful." On more than one level, she thought, already looking forward to another evening together.

"Great. I'll see you around six?"

"That's perfect. I love you, Edward."

"I love you, Bella." His voice caressed her ear, but his words caressed her entirety.

Putting away her phone, she found herself wondering if there would ever come a time when Edward Cullen ceased to thrill her.

And then she laughed out loud at that ridiculous thought.

oOoOoOoOo

Edward showed up at Bella's just before six, holding a large shopping bag from Demetri's Greek Diner. It was obvious he hadn't stopped at his house to change, and Bella had forgotten over the weekend just how delicious her Businessward looked in his business-wear.

GAH! He's sexy like nobody's business! He's like a model in a magazine photo-spread… Or a high-class men's cologne ad!

"Hi, handsome," she giggled, realizing he'd caught her checking him out from head to toe.

"Hi, yourself, beautiful." He smiled, giving her his own overt once-over, and then he leaned in to give her a peck on the lips. As he straightened, he shifted the shopping bag, and wonderful aromas wafted through the air.

"Mmm… Dinner smells good!" Bella commented, accompanying him to the kitchen.

Setting the bag on the kitchen counter, Edward noticed Bella's laptop a few feet away. "Did I interrupt your writing?" he asked as he unpacked food containers and Bella peeked at their contents.

"No. I finished my timeline, but I can't quite decide to rework the story to include both of our characters points of view. I was thinking of alternating Stella's point of view with Ethan's in consecutive chapters, but I don't want the story to drag or become repetitive."

Edward nodded. "Can you switch them up within the chapters? You could repeat less that way." Bella nodded.

"I was considering that. Some fanfiction stories have alternating segments, identified as EPOVs or SPOVs within chapters. But that might get choppy and ruin the flow. I don't want to lose the immediacy of the characters' interactions."

Edward nodded again, leaning against the counter while Bella got out cutlery and plates.

"Why not tell the story in third person?" he suggested. "You could set up scenes, background information and the characters' thoughts through your narrator, but include the characters' dialogue in their interactions. You'd be able to clearly present both points of view to the reader without losing any momentum."

Bella nodded. "I think you're right. Thank you for the input!"

"I'm glad I could help." He grinned crookedly, his green eyes dancing as he pretended to shiver. "Whew! I feel so collaborative all of a sudden!"

"I can already tell working on our story together is going to be quite the experience," Bella giggled.

"Oh, hell yes!" Edward agreed, grabbing her up suddenly and waggling his eyebrows as she squealed.

oOoOoOoOo

Comfortably and collaboratively cuddled on the couch after dinner, Edward perused Bella's timeline. He added a few events of his own, wherever Bella hadn't been privy to his personal experiences. When he got to the end, he chewed at his lip as he stared at the screen.

"You're…uh…still planning to include these three things?" He pointed to the three items in question: that first morning departure of Vicki the redhead, the overnight with Irina, and the tryst with Kate in Chicago.

Three women in three days. What an ass I was!

Yes, you were a fucking ass…key word "fu…"

I know! You don't have to rub it in. Christ… How can Bella stand…?

Bella reached up to cup Edward's cheek, turning his face to hers, unwilling to allow him to spiral into broody self-loathing.

"I don't have to include them if it bothers you, Edward, but you and I weren't together then, so it's not like you were cheating on me. Most people have a dating history, and they were part of yours. And I understand why you had the kind of relationships you did, and I know you're not that same man now. I know you've changed. And that change in you—wanting more with me, and really caring about what we share now—that's partly what makes our story so compelling."

Her eyes searched his before continuing. "If you knew I'd been involved with others before you, either physically or romantically, would you care less for me than you do? Would you love me less if I had that in my past?"

"Oh course not." He realized she was trying to put things into perspective for him. "But…"

"But…nothing. That could just as easily have been me. I can't change the fact that I was a colossally late bloomer, any more than you can change the fact that you had…"

"Meaningless dalliances?" Edward had picked up on the lighter, slightly humorous tone of her words. His lips curled into a smile as he looked at her. It was clear she felt disdainful of her own past, and he realized she was right about the concept of "history." He had to let it go. He couldn't change it, it was past, and it had no bearing upon his feelings for her or their future together.

Bella grinned at the way he'd referred to his past. It felt good to make light of it, reducing it to nothing of importance and removing any lingering power it had over either of them.

"Yes, Edward. I don't begrudge you your meaningless dalliances…unless of course you're dallying with me meaninglessly?" She cocked a brow, and he chuckled, shaking his head as he wrapped an arm around her.

"I've only ever dallied meaningfully with you, love."

She giggled, glad she'd been able to rescue him before he was in full-on brood-mode. "Good. In that case, I see continued meaningful dallying for us in the near future." She snuggled into him as she steered the conversation back on track. "So, back to the topic at hand… Would you rather I didn't include your history in this story?"

Edward looked at her lovely face with its little wrinkled "v" of concern between her brows. He reached up, smoothing it with a fingertip and smiled. It was so easy to love her.

"No, you're right. It would make the story more compelling to include them." He hesitated for a moment. "I just don't want to get into any…specifics…about them, you know?"

Bella's eyes widened as she realized what he meant. "Oh! No! No…I really wouldn't want to hear about anything specific. I mean, I think I have a…general idea…of…things."

"Just don't overthink it," Edward warned. "Nothing compares or even comes close to the beauty and meaning of everything I've experienced with you. You know those…situations…didn't go well. Suffice it to say, those experiences all fell somewhere between painfully unfortunate and downright disastrous." He shrugged. "I'll leave it up to you and your creative devices to paint the pathetic picture of my past."

Bella smiled at the lovely way he'd described their own experiences. And then her smile became a smirk as she processed what "painfully uncomfortable and downright disastrous" experiences with his prior hook-ups could entail. And she giggled.

"What?" Edward asked, his brow arching as he looked at her with that delicious crooked grin on his lips.

Bella's eyes twinkled mischievously. "I'm just thinking...there might be a fine line between my creative devices and my devious devices."

Edward burst into laughter and shook his head. "I can tell working on our story together is going to be quite the experience!"

"Oh, hell yes!" Bella agreed, giggling and waggling her eyebrows at him.

oOoOoOoOo

Tuesday night, Bella and Edward were once again in the throes of a collaborative cuddle, propped up on the pillows of Bella's bed. The laptop was on Edward's lap as he read a rough draft of Bella's reworked first chapter of From Hate to Heat.

Their discussion last night had filled Bella's thoughts earlier today, and by the time she'd arrived home in the afternoon, she all but flew into the house with the first chapter mostly composed in her mind.

Now, hours later, her eyes nervously flickered between Edward and the laptop screen he was focused on so intently. She'd seen his lips twitch in amusement and heard the occasional soft snort of laughter as he'd read, but those sounds and twitches had abated, and he was now reading in silence, his only reaction a gradual widening of his eyes and slow drop of his jaw.

"Edward…?" Bella said in a small, tentative voice, worrying how the chapter was being received. But he only raised his index finger, indicating that he didn't want to be interrupted as he scrolled onward, his eyes flitting across the screen as he progressed to the end.

And then he was apparently at the end, because he shut the laptop with a low oath. Snatching up a pillow, he flopped sideways on the bed, clutching the aforementioned pillow over his face as the laptop slid from his lap to the bed.

"Edward?" Bella blinked. "Edward?! Ohmygod, Edward, talk to me!" she begged, springing into action and scrambling to her knees, clutching and shaking him. "Edward, I can change it! It's just a rough draft and you're the only one who's read it!"

She paused in her shaking of him long enough to realize he was shaking on his own and required no assistance. Staring down at the pillow covering his face, she frowned in consternation, and then she gasped as realization struck her with the fury of a wrecking ball.

Holy shit! I made him cry! He's sobbing!

"EDWARD! Edward, STOP!" She frantically grabbed the pillow, yanking it from him with all her might. "Edward?!" She stared down at his flushed face, looking up at her with tears glinting in the corners of his eyes. "Oh, Edward…!" she exhaled as he inhaled a shuddery breath, and then emitted the most unexpected of sounds...

"BWAHAHAHAHAHA!"

Bella blinked, sitting back on her knees as the bed shook, watching him cover his face with his hands as the sound repeated.

"BWAHAHAHAHAHA!"

What? Who makes a "BWAHAHAHAHAHA!" noise when they sob?

Ohmygod, Isabella Marie! He's guffawing uncontrollably, you halfwit!

"Edward?" Bella said for the tenth time, watching him in bewilderment. "You're…laughing? You're not…crying?"

The noise ceased abruptly and Edward sat up, looking at her with wide, shocked eyes. Two lingering tears rolled down his cheeks. "Crying?" He stared at her in confusion, wiping at tears as he stifled a snort-laugh. "I'm not crying," he giggled. "Why would I be crying?"

"You are crying. But you're…laughing…so…you're not upset? I thought you were upset. I heard you swear. I thought you were mad at me."

"No! I'm not mad at you, love." He reached for her hand, clasping it tightly. "I'm just…surprised…and…" He dissolved into a fit of raucous laughter once again, sinking back into the pillows and wiping his eyes as Bella watched him uncertainly. "Holy crap!" he finally wheezed, his stomach aching. "When you said there might be a fine line between your creative devices and your devious devices, you weren't kidding! I think it's fair to say you crossed the line, stomped on it, and obliterated it."

Bella smiled hesitantly. "So…does this mean you…like...my rough draft?"

He looked up, grinning and nodding and poking at the tears of laughter that had accumulated in the corners of his eyes.

"Ohhhh…God. Yes, I like it. It's great. It was just incredibly…unexpected." He reached up and pulled her down on top of him, chuckling as he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her. "You'd think by now, I would know to expect the unexpected from you, my quirky little love."

Bella smiled at him. And kissed him. And moved the laptop to the bedside table. And their collaborative cuddle turned into collaborative coitus not long after that.

oOoOoOoOo

On Wednesday morning, Edward was, of course, the first to wish Bella a happy twenty-fourth birthday. He also engaged her in a dazzling, nearly debilitating, birthday dalliance. Their daily dalliances were all pretty much dazzlingly debilitating these days.

At school later that morning, Bella checked her email and found a number of other birthday wishes from friends and family.

The earliest one was from Jake.

From: BlackAttack hotmail

To: B_the_Swan gmail

Subject: you're older…but are you wiser?

Hey b!

Happy Bella-day! Leah and I are pretending you're here, and we're taking you out for your standard birthday breakfast at the diner. Mmmm banana-nut paaancaaaakes! We'll say a toast to you over coffee and talk about you behind your back—saying mostly good things, of course! :)

Holy crap... Have I got an update for you! You might want to peek between your fingers to read this:

Leah and I are certain we interrupted your dad and her mom making out on Saturday night. I'm serious. We came back from a party at Quil's, thinking we'd watch TV before I went home. But noooo-ooo! Because there's the Chief sitting right next to Sue on the living room couch." Watching a movie." (Those are finger-quotes, by the way.)

They got all flustered when we walked in, and I never saw a man remove his arm from around a woman's shoulders so fast. But being the Chief, Charlie must have lightening reflexes, right? lol Anyway, Leah and I could hardly contain ourselves. We said hello and shoved each other into the kitchen and out the back door, trying not to burst into laughter at their guilty expressions. But as we made our getaway we heard them laughing, so they seemed happy despite being extremely embarrassed. Anyway, I thought you'd like to know.

That's it for now, I guess. Leah sends platonic love and monkey hugs and we hope your birthday is a good one!

love,

jb

The next email was from Bella's mother, and Bella was rolling her eyes before she'd even finished reading.

From: rhiggenbotham-swan-dwyer aol

To: B_the_Swan gmail

Subject: My birthday girl!

Hi Baby!

Phil and I wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday on your special day! We hope you have some fun plans for the day. Maybe something special with that incredibly handsome boyfriend of yours? ;) I'm sure he's got something planned, either for this evening or for the up-coming weekend. Oh gosh…maybe he's going to take you somewhere FOR the weekend?! I know you're busy with school, but I'll be dying to hear what you wound up doing for your birthday and how everything is going. ;)

Love you and miss you,

Mom (and Phil!)

PS: I sent a package. If you haven't gotten it already, it should arrive today. It might come in handy!

Bella cringed, hoping her mother hadn't sent her a crate of condoms. Then again, at the rate she and Edward were going through the contents of that bedside table with their daily dalliances and pollination projects, replenishments might come in handy. But then again, Bella's period was due shortly, and once she started taking the pill, they might not even need condom replenishments.

The following email was from her father, who didn't mention anything about Sue Clearwater, but being a man of few words, he rarely mentioned much of anything.

From: CSwan forks Washington –pd- corrections . org

To: B_the_Swan gmail

Subject: Birthday

Hi Bells,

Hope you have a Happy 24th.

Love you,

Dad

Bella was stunned. Her father had completely forgotten to mention pepper spray. His mind was definitely elsewhere. And judging by Jake's email, her father's mind had taken up residence at Sue Clearwater's house. A smile flickered across Bella's lips.

The next email was from Angela.

From: angelbaby aol

To: B_the_Swan gmail

Subject: Happy bidet!

Hey B!

Happy B-day! Or, if you prefer…Happy bidet! (I couldn't resist. What English major doesn't appreciate homophone humor? lol) I'm sorry you have to be at work on your special day. I bet you'd rather be home doing…oh, I don't know…Edward?! ;)

Rumor has it (you know...Ben "Rumor" Cheney?) that things seem fine and wonderful in Bella and Edward Land, and I'm so happy for you! After talking with Edward at his parents' house on Saturday, I reeeeaaallly like the guy. For you, of course…because you know I'm all about my cute Asian boy! But it's as plain as day how much Edward cares for you.

We should plan a double-date with our hotties to celebrate your twenty-fourth bidet! Talk to Edward, let me know, and we'll coordinate.

Love you!

Angie

oOoOoOoOo

By lunchtime, seated with her usual crowd at their usual table, Bella had completely forgotten it was her birthday. Until Alice placed a cake, plastic forks, and birthday-themed paper plates in the middle of the table.

Bella blinked and her mouth dropped open. "Alice…! Is that your mom's Chocolate Mousse Cake?!"

"YES! You remembered! She's going to be so pleased!" Alice did a quick happy-clappy-thing with her hands. "I told her your birthday was this week and she volunteered to make it! Happy Birthday, Bella!" Alice burst into song with the rest of the table joining in.

Bella's eyes widened. She didn't know whether to be more surprised that Alice had known it was her birthday, or that Esme had made her killer Chocolate Mousse Cake for her, or that every teacher in the entire staff lounge had turned to stare and was now singing Happy Birthday to her, much to her epic embarrassment.

"Did Edward tell you?" Bella hissed, still blushing hotly after the singing ordeal ended.

"Of course! But I already knew! Your birthday is the first staff member birthday of the school year." Alice grinned as she sliced the cake into servings. "As head of the Fawkes High Staff Club it's my job to know these things." Bella's eyes shifted to Rose, who nodded.

"Al isn't just Our Blender Queen, she's also the Birthday Queen," Rose said. "So relax, Bella, the entire staff will be subjected to this."

oOoOoOoOo

When Bella arrived home that afternoon, she found a package from her mother at her front door. Thankfully, it didn't feel like a crate of condoms. Opening the box, Bella read the handwritten message in the enclosed card.

Happy Birthday, Baby!

You and I bought a lot of work-friendly clothes for you this past summer, but we forgot to buy you a gorgeous dress! The kind of dress that makes you feel pretty, girly and special every time you wear it. I hope this fits and that you'll have the perfect occasion to wear it soon!

Love you and miss you!

Mom (and Phil)

Bella set the card down and removed the dress from the tissue paper. "Oh…Mom…" she breathed as she held up the beautiful, forest green, sleeveless dress. It was cut to fit close to the body, with soft, tiny ruffles along the wide neckline and hem. It was the perfect dress for a birthday dinner with the perfect man.

She hurried upstairs to try it on, crossing her fingers that it would fit. And it did...as though it had been made for her. Grabbing her phone, Bella typed a quick text.

Hi Mom! (and Phil!) The dress is beautiful, it fits and I love it! Edward is taking me out to dinner, so I'll wear it tonight and text you a photo. Thank you so much! I love you. xo —b

Taking off the dress so she could hop in the shower and start getting ready, Bella smiled to herself. Her mother might be more fairly-odd-mother than fairy godmother, but Bella was certainly going to feel like Cinderella with Prince Charming tonight.

oOoOoOoOo

"Wow… You look…absolutely stunning, Bella." Edward was gaping. He could feel himself gaping but he couldn't seem to stop. As his eyes roamed back up to Bella's face his lips curled into a little smile. She was gaping…at him. Until she noticed that he'd noticed. Then she blushed and Edward's smile grew.

"You're pretty damn stunning yourself, Edward," Bella replied, once she'd gotten her gawk, gape and blush under control.

"It's just pants and a shirt," Edward said, looking down at his pale gray dress shirt, tucked into his black trousers. "But when I put my jacket on...then...you'll see just how damn stunning I can be." Bella rolled her eyes at her handsome smartass and Edward chuckled.

"It's a bit of a drive to our first destination," Edward warned as they left Stardust Lane. "And our dinner reservations aren't until seven thirty, so I hope you're not feeling hungry yet."

Bella shook her head, smiling. "No, that's fine. I just wish I knew where we were going, so I knew what to look forward to."

Edward turned and smirked. "Nice try, love, but you'll have to wait and see."

oOoOoOoOo

They headed south out of Seattle on the I-5 freeway. As they continued, going southwest beyond Tacoma, Bella thought they might be going to Olympia, where Angela lived. But Edward didn't stop in Olympia. Instead, he changed directions, turning the Vanquish onto highway 101, heading northwest.

Over an hour and a half into Edward's mystery drive, as they sped along the 101, skirting the Olympic National Forest, Bella suddenly sat bolt upright in her seat, grabbing at the dashboard.

"Ohmygod!" she shrieked.

"What?!" Edward jerked his head in alarm, his eyes darting to every mirror and all sides of the car, looking for impending disaster.

"I know where we're going!" Bella cried with a triumphant grin.

Edward slumped in his seat, relieved they weren't about to be plowed off the road and into a tree by a runaway eighteen-wheeler.

"Oh you do, do you?" he asked, cocking a brow at his grinning girl.

"I do!" Her expression was smug. "I know where you're taking me and I know exactly where we're going to eat dinner."

"What makes you so sure?" he asked with a chuckle.

"Because, you, Edward Cullen, are a big softie!"

Edward blinked. And gave her an indignant look. "A big…softie? I beg your pardon..." His bright green eyes danced wickedly. "When have I ever had that issue around you?"

Bella blushed as she burst into laughter. "You're such a guy!" she exclaimed, playfully smacking his leg. "I mean you're sentimental, okay? And I love that. And I love where you're taking me." They exchanged a smile and a mutual look of love and happiness. Edward reached for her hand, and Bella smiled at his handsome, smiling profile as he sped onward, heading for the northern coast of the Olympic Peninsula.

oOoOoOoOo

Shortly before seven thirty, they arrived in Port Angeles, just as Bella had suspected. Edward parked the Vanquish along the curb, just down the block from their final destination.

"I love that you thought to bring me here," Bella said as she leaned across the console and gave him a kiss.

Edward smiled. "I figured we'd have dinner here together this time." Bella smiled and nodded.

Climbing out of the car, Edward shrugged into his jacket and retrieved a birthday gift bag from the trunk. Rounding the car, he opened Bella's door and helped her out. Together, they strolled up the sidewalk to Bella Italia, the quaint little restaurant where the trajectories of their young lives had first intersected, unknowingly, nine years earlier.


A/N: Of course Bella's Big Softie would think to take her here! ;)