The fabulous Swimom7 was one of my betas for the first chapter and a few weeks later, it was her birthday. She loved Carrelward and so my belated present to her is the next chapter of the story.
FYI: both of us graduated from UNC (and were even there at the same time, tho' we never met!) so chapter 2 has a few more UNC references because it really is "The Southern part of Heaven."
Special thanks to Aciepey for tackling the pre-reading duties for this chapter. She truly made this story even better. *mwah!*
Chapter 2: On with the show
Bella cast one quick glance at the corkboard above her workstation and smiled to herself at the assorted mementos pinned neatly there. Tickets to concerts and movies, a dried rose, the program to Cosi Fan Tutte with little notes scribbled throughout and more were preserved and with archival precision organized by month in a boustrophedon pattern. She smiled to herself as she realized a year of memories was attached to that board. Returning to the here and now with a quick check of her watch, Bella realized she was just about ready to clock out for the day.
The sun had begun to set, tinting the sky a beautiful cotton candy pink as Dr. Edward Cullen and Miss Bella Swan scurried out the basement entrance of the library. Bella fumbled with her key card and leather satchel before feeling the later removed from her shoulder. She gave a patient smile as she watched her companion shoulder the weight.
"I can carry that," she murmured, obviously more out of habit than out of actually desiring to carry her bag.
"I know. You tell me that every Thursday when I visit my carrel," Edward smiled, stealing a quick kiss. "And Monday when I walk you in and Tuesday when…"
Bella's giggle cut him off, and he took her hand in his, swinging it lightly as they rounded the corner of the library.
And it was true. What had started as a simple get to know you dinner just a year before had turned into a sweet budding romance.
First, the two had enjoyed a quiet dinner at a small, hole in the wall restaurant off of Rosemary Street after riding Edward's Vespa from the faculty parking lot up around the campus to the quiet locale. He smiled at the memory of that date.
"Where would you like to go?" Edward inquired, escorting Miss Swan out of the library, discreetly wiping his still damp hands on his khakis. There had been a completely adequate washroom off of the restoration lab but the university issued paper towels had left something to be desired.
"It really does not matter," Bella replied, shifting her satchel on her shoulder as she attempted to retrieve her cell phone from her pocketbook.
"Let me take that," he offered, not waiting for a response before taking the full tote onto his own shoulder.
"I can carry it," Bella insisted, reaching for the item in question only to find it just out of her reach.
"Make your call; I have this," Edward insisted with a genuine smile.
Bella nodded and quickly sent a text to the friend she was to meet for supper and turned back to the patiently waiting professor.
"Where's your car?" Edward asked kindly.
"I rode the bus in today. These shoes Alice had me wear are not conducive to driving." Bella held out one foot, waving it lightly in front of her, thankful she did not lose her balance and crash into the brick sidewalk.
Edward cast an appreciative glance down at said footwear and instantly wondered what they would look like on his bedroom floor. Or wrapped around his waist while… He harrumphed quietly and tried to clear his mind, earning a curious sideways glance from Bella. She returned his smile as he motioned across the street to the motorcycle parking lot.
"Can you make it just down the hill?" Edward questioned, trying his best to shove the image of tiny black leather straps with silver buckles around shapely ankles from his mind. "I know of a great place on Rosemary. We can ride my bike up from the lot."
Bella nodded shyly, smiling as they made their way down the almost deserted brick walkway. Suddenly the words he had said, particularly 'bike' filtered through and she stumbled. Fortunately, a strong arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her closer just before her knees gave out.
"Careful, Miss Swan," Edward murmured, realizing she was perfectly molded into his side.
"I'm rather klutzy to begin with," Bella spluttered, trying to right herself as quickly as possible but not without enjoying the delightful warmth that seemed to radiate from his embrace. "Did you say 'bike'?"
"It's actually a scooter. A Vespa. I use it to get from home to classes and back. If you'd rather I call us a cab, I can…" Edward made motions as if to extract his phone from his pocket.
Without thinking, Bella rested her hand atop his, stilling his fumbling fingers. She blushed bright red, realizing just where her hand was now located. Just a scant inch to one side and it wouldn't be his hand she held.
"Sorry," she mumbled, removing her fingers as quickly as possible without looking as if she'd been burned. "I was just worried about…" Bella motioned toward her skirt.
"Why, milady, side-saddle, of course," Edward smiled. "I do it all the time with my sister."
Edward grinned to himself as he remembered giving Bella Alice's hot pink helmet to wear as they buzzed around campus and up to that first dinner together. Bella had wrapped her arms around his waist after perching on the seat behind him, holding on for dear life. He had not minded one bit for after he had stowed his suit jacket and tie in the storage bin, there was one less layer of clothes between them and feeling her pressed against his back was a glorious feeling indeed.
Edward's mind drifted back to that hidden video camera footage and once again praised the name of the goddess La Perla. He had subtly shuffled in his seat, attempting to discreetly adjust himself as the two had sped through the almost non-existent traffic around campus. Academics loved their institutions of higher learning but once a holiday approached, only the hard-core educators seeking tenure could be found lingering among the hallowed halls.
"What are you grinning about, Dr. Cullen?" Bella inquired with a smile. Edward's good mood was highly contagious and it just felt right to share in the joy.
"Thinking about our first date."
"The dinner or afterward when we walked around Silent Sam and Emmett nearly scared the snot out of me?"
"I was actually thinking about your arms around me while we rode to the restaurant, but if you insist, I can think about what happened after Emmett nearly scared the snot out of you."
Bella snorted and shook her head.
"I had a wonderful time tonight," Bella murmured as they walked side by side, leaving the brightly lit avenue for the more shadowy north campus.
"I did as well," Edward smiled.
The two slowly continued down the brick sidewalk, their fingers brushing against each other every few paces. Finally, Bella's pinky caught Edward's, wrapping around and holding his as they enjoyed the night air.
Edward pulled Bella to a stop just in front of the statue commemorating the University's Confederate dead. He had not intentionally stopped there but the lighting was just perfect—not too bright, not too dark. He reached up with his free hand and gently traced two fingers down her cheek and over her jaw. If he concentrated, Edward was certain he could feel Bella's pulse race as he lowered his head towards hers.
"Bella, I'd very much like to…" he began before a loud bang, much like a blown up paper bag being popped caused them both to jump and Bella may have screeched an epithet against a higher power.
"Oh, that was priceless! You should have seen your faces!"
Bella and Edward turned toward a cackling Emmett McCarty, strength training coach for the football team. He held his sides as he attempted to calm down, howling like a monkey as he failed miserably.
"Emmett!" Bella shrieked, bowing up to her full height. "I swear, if you make any more born again virginity jokes, I am going to have Rose cut you off!"
"Virg…" began Edward before he wisely cut himself off. He knew the legend behind the Confederate statue and how it supposedly would fire its rifle only when a virgin walked by, hence on a university campus, it had never been heard. Fortunately, he gave no thought as to whether the accusation was true or not with regard to Miss Swan because such things were private and one date did not grant him the right to inquire about such things. His mother had raised a gentleman and while he had pondered many rather ungentlemanly thoughts in regard to his dining companion, Edward was trying his best not to give in to his baser nature. At least not yet.
"I thought you were going to strangle Emmett," Edward chuckled as they continued toward Old Playmaker's Theatre and the parking lot surrounding it.
"I should have. Nearly gave me a heart attack." Bella paused, her voice softening as she continued. "I thought you'd never kiss me after that."
Edward laughed, swinging her hand in his as he remembered the intended quick peck that had turned into a bit more between the statue dedicated to Look Homeward, Angel and the Psychology department—so much so that Bella had missed her bus home and they had been forced to sit and wait together for the twenty minutes until the next one came by (not that either of them minded).
"It just delayed it a bit," he smiled, pressing the button to open the trunk of his shiny silver Volvo. With a satisfying thunk, he slammed it shut after loading their briefcases, satchels and his suit coat and tie into the compartment. "Ready?"
"Of course. I just wish you'd tell me where we are going," Bella sighed, leaning up against the side of the car.
"It's not far," Edward smiled mysteriously, taking her hand in his.
And he was quite right for just across the street in the deserted Arboretum, Bella discovered a beautiful picnic supper laid out on a royal blue blanket with tea lights inside Mason jars scattered around. A bouquet of a dozen long stemmed red roses sat perched on a small stack of bricks.
"Oh, Edward!" Bella gasped, clasping her hands over her lips as she blinked back a few tears. "How…when…"
"Alice helped me," he smiled, pulling her closer and placing a quick kiss on her forehead. "Happy anniversary, love."
One year ago that evening had been their first date and Bella was touched that he had remembered. A huge smile broke across her face as she lifted it to receive a warm kiss.
"This is so wonderful," she smiled as the memory of another picnic came to mind.
As it turned out, Bella's friend Alice was Edward's sister. Alice's husband, Jasper, was the brother of Rosalie, Bella's roommate in college, which is how Bella knew Emmett. Both wondered just how they had never met before that fateful day in the closed stacks. Now that they had all connected the dots, the six became closer friends and soon were attending concerts in the park together, hosting cook outs at someone's house or just hanging out on the odd Tuesday. Bella and Edward could not remember a time when both felt more alive and both attributed the other with creating that spark.
Come early August, Edward invited Bella to join him and his family at their beach home, stuttering an assurance that she would have her own room. After all, they had only been dating a few months and neither had been in a hurry to push the relationship any further than a few stolen kisses and caresses out of fear of turning a good friendship into a ruined one even though the three magic words had been spoken aloud. Rosalie and Alice were beside themselves for the two had already begun expressing preferences for bridesmaid gowns and venues, much to Bella's horror. Emmett and Jasper, in true manly fashion, merely nodded wisely and tilted their beer bottles in solidarity when Edward brought up any sort of future with Bella.
The beach was a special place. No one worried about grading papers or preserving documents or finding the required fabric for some costume or determining what the best rehabilitation program for an injured player. The group could relax, spend time together or apart as they wished and time was spent focusing on building relationships rather than resumes.
The week had been a turning point in Bella and Edward's relationship. With very few reasons to be apart, they discovered that they did not desire to be separated. Even the short jaunts into town for supplies or to visit some just discovered boutique were too long and reunions had changed from quick pecks on the cheek greetings to longer, more impassioned embraces, much to the joy of their friends. Bella craved Edward's company, and he felt the same about hers. Discussions regarding intimacy turned toward 'when' instead of 'if' and both were looking for just the right moment to take that next step.
Six friends gathered around a bonfire on the deck overlooking the beach long after the late summer sun had set. Few words were spoken as the flames popped and cracked, sending up into the air the odd spark. Music from the stereo deep within the house floated out the open windows. Three couples reclined together, listening to the waves crash upon the beach, a lone sea gull casting out its last call for the night.
The week had been filled with early morning walks on the sand, afternoons shopping or exploring local historical sites, and evenings at various night clubs or just bumming around. As it was the last night, the men had grilled steaks and prepared baked potatoes while the women watched, chatting freely about their weeks, their lives and their men. Blankets were spread out on the deck in lieu of chairs and tables. A picnic al fresco. In a word, it had been perfect.
Emmett, with Rosalie between his thighs, slowly ran one hand up and down her tanned arm. He leaned forward and whispered into her ear. Even with the dim light from the crackling fire, Alice and Bella noticed the blush creep across Rosalie's cheeks. With a nod, the two stood, brushed the sand off of their clothes and departed hand in hand into the beach house.
Bella giggled as Alice winked at her, her eyes twinkling with the knowledge of what was going to be going on in Rosalie and Emmett's room. The remaining four watched as the fire continue to pop and crack for several minutes, drinking in the serenity of the beach and relaxing even more without the need to break the silence with inane chatter.
"I think it's time to hit the barracks, soldier," Alice murmured softly from her place on Jasper's lap.
"Ma'am, yes ma'am," Jasper smiled, placing a gentle kiss on his beloved's temple.
From deep within the house, Chairmen of the Board's "Everything's Tuesday" began, drifting through the summer air. Alice stood, took Jasper's hand and the two step forward, step back, rock stepped up the walk and disappeared into the house.
Bella sighed happily, resting her head on Edward's shoulder. The two watched the fire crackle and pop as began to burn itself out. Edward took the last draw of his beer and gathered his thoughts.
"Happy?" he whispered.
She silently nodded, lacing her fingers through his.
"It's been so wonderful," Bella murmured, leaning her head back onto his shoulder.
"Bella, I was…wondering…"
Bella turned slightly to gaze into his eyes. She tilted her head slightly in question.
"Maybe you wouldn't want your own room tonight?" he continued hopefully.
"Are you asking, Dr. Cullen?"
Bella shivered in anticipation as she saw his eyes darken at her question.
"Sounds perfectly wonderful."
The smile that graced is face filled her heart with joy. This beautiful, talented, funny, intelligent man had chosen her to be with. Little did she even suspect that he was experiencing the exact same feelings, unable to fathom why someone as wonderful as Bella Swan would dare deem to spend time with a boring, set in his ways college professor.
The two gathered up their empty bottles and slowly ventured into the house. Hand in hand, they climbed the steps to the upper floor, bypassing Bella's room for it was directly above Emmett and Rosalie's. Bella entered the room first, excitement building within but it was tinged by a hint of trepidation. It had been so long for either of them, though much longer for her. Fortunately, the two had already had the personal history and preferences discussion. They were adults, after all, and it was the responsible thing to do, even if until now it had been all purely hypothetical.
No sooner had the door shut when the music wafting through the open window changed. Bella giggled at the next song.
"Random is random," she murmured as the opening strains of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" filled her ears.
"That it is," Edward smiled, wrapping his arms around her waist from behind and dropping a kiss on her collarbone.
"Oh," Bella sighed as she pressed back against him, feeling the scratch of his shirt's buttons against her bare back.
Edward began to sing along with the song, low and gravel-y next to her ear as one hand slowly unfastened the halter tie of her sundress and the other spread across her abdomen, pulling her hips flush against his. Bella shivered as the cotton drifted down to her waist, exposing her white lacy strapless bra.
"Cold?" he whispered, easing the dress further down as his body rocked against hers. Edward would have sworn her breath caught when she rubbed across his growing arousal. He continued to hum and sing along with the song, his body teasing hers with every beat.
Bella shook her head in denial, turning in his arms to face him. She smiled serenely as she began to unfasten the buttons of his shirt and slid it back off of his shoulders. With a little shake of her hips, her dress followed his shirt on its way to the floor. Edward's shorts soon followed suit and the two stood nose to nose clad in only their underwear.
She ran her hands appreciatively over his chest, lightly scratching her nails over his nipples, earning a low growl in response. Bella felt the goose bumps erupt over her entire body at the sound. Edward was an exceptionally sexy man. After a week at the beach, seeing him shirtless and in low-slung board shorts, seeing him with sleep tossed hair and bleary eyed after a night at the clubs, Bella was looking forward to an entirely different side to him. Preferably one with no clothes and close proximity.
Edward gently eased Bella back against the bed, whipping back the comforter and sheets before allowing her to sit.
"So beautiful," he murmured, running one finger down her cheek. His hand continued down her shoulder, over the swell of one breast and came to rest lightly at the tiny satin bow over her sternum. "I love you, Bella."
"I love you, too, Edward," she whispered.
It wasn't the first time they had shared this sentiment. That had occurred earlier in the summer while watching a minor league baseball game of all things. But both felt the declaration carried a bit more weight now. Now it included their entire beings. They loved each other with not only their heads and their hearts but with their very souls.
"I want you."
"I want you, too."
Bella reached behind with one hand and unfastened her bra before reclining back on the pillows. Edward gazed at her, half in amazement at this beautiful creature before him and half in shock at her boldness. She reached up and pulled out the pin holding her hair in a messy bun, shaking it free.
"What are you thinking?" Edward inquired, handing Bella a plate filled with wonderful treats. It was all of her favorite picnic foods, and she was touched that he had remembered such seemingly inconsequential things.
"Nothing!" Bella blurted, ducking her head in embarrassment. She was never so thankful that he could not read her mind as she was at that particular moment.
"Nothing, hmmm?" He shook his head in disbelief.
"Okay," she sighed in resignation. "I was thinking of our first trip to the beach."
Edward's eyes took on their own faraway look as he recalled the first time he had made love to her.
Bella crooked her finger at Edward, motioning for him to join her on the bed. Her eyes widened as he shed the last piece of clothing from his body before clambering next to her.
"See something you like?" he whispered, a smile tingeing his words.
"Mmmm-hmmm," Bella hummed, feeling his body flush against her for the first time. "I'm feeling a little overdressed right now, though."
"Can't have that, can we?"
Edward hooked his fingertips along the lacey edge and slid her underwear off, placing a lingering kiss over the small scar on her left knee as he finished undressing her. He rested back, his knees between her thighs, gazing at her stretched out before him.
"So beautiful," he murmured to himself, leaning down to kiss and nuzzle her throat. Edward smiled against her skin at the warm purr that rumbled in Bella's chest. "You like?"
Bella nodded as her hands gently rested on his broad shoulders. She smiled to herself as they lightly caressed the warm skin, feeling every bone and muscle underneath her fingertips flex and flow. Then he started to move away. Confusion flitted through her brain as his mouth trailed further and further down.
"Where?" she started before his tongue flicked across her right nipple, nearly sending her into orbit. Bella groaned as Edward blew lightly over the peaked tip.
He smiled as she expressed her pleasure. She fascinated him to no end and should he live to be a hundred and nine years old, Edward knew there was no way he would discover every single detail about her. But he was willing to try.
Bella smelled of sunshine and sand; her skin was soft and warm with just a kiss of color and a faint taste of the sea lingering there.
"I want," Edward started, quietly whispering against the gentle curves of her waist, brushing his lips against a freckle that he quickly committed to memory upon hearing her breath catch. His broad hand encircled one hip and slid down over the swell of her buttock.
A groan floated from Bella's mouth as he nipped at her hipbone. She felt his chest hair tickle along her thigh. The sensations were too much. She needed him everywhere.
"Next time," she whispered, urgently tugging on his arm.
Bella nodded furiously. Her skin was on fire from his touches. The two had been dancing around this night the entire week and there was only so much foreplay a woman could take.
"As you wish," Edward replied, partially disappointed at the idea of delaying pleasuring her in that manner but he was more than ready to be inside of her. He reached across the bed for the nightstand door before she stopped him.
He looked at her inquisitively and saw the certainty in her deep brown eyes. Edward nodded silently, his mind racing at the implications of not using a physical barrier. He had never; she had never—not without a condom. If he agreed, he was agreeing that she would be his last. Edward paused ever so slightly as the image of Bella in white, walking toward him under a bower of flowers, of children running through a grassy backyard and tackling a laughing Bella, of sitting in Adirondack chairs with fingers entwined while watching the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean, enjoying retirement with Bella crashed through his brain.
"Just you," she murmured bringing Edward back to the here and now as she placed one hand on his hip and lacing the fingers of her other hand through his hair. The sun had bleached little bits and pieces and Bella had discovered she loved playing with the wild strands. She could look into those green eyes forever and a day and the devotion she saw in them filled her heart to overflowing.
Edward smiled softly down at her, realizing this was exactly what he wanted. His forever was waiting for him and all he had to do was reach out and join it.
"I love you, Bella," Edward said, shifting his body to align with hers.
"Always," she sighed, feeling him fill her for the first time.
Edward's eyes shone as they met hers, seeking reassurance that all was okay. The groan of pure joy that flowed from Bella's lips as she arched her back to get closer told him everything he needed to know. He knew this was not going to last long and for a brief moment, kicked himself for not conducting a little self-love earlier. But for now, everything was perfect.
"This is just wonderful, Edward," Bella smiled, finishing the last of her picnic supper. She hoped he had not noticed the shifting she had done in a weak attempt to ease the growing ache within her.
Bella briefly wondered if she could convince Edward to make a side trip to Hamilton Hall and his office before heading home. She had long wondered what it would be like in his office. With most of the staff gone for the day, they would not have to be quiet and he did have a fairly clutter-free desk they could use. It was one of the few spaces on campus that they shared that had not witnessed the more active side of their relationship.
"Merry Christmas, Dr. Cullen," Bella smiled as her favorite Thursday patron arrived at the reference desk.
"Bah, humbug," Edward groused good naturedly before his face cracked into a grin. He leaned across the desk as if to steal a kiss. She pulled back slightly, her eyes darting to her co-workers who thankfully appeared to be paying no attention to the young lovers. Even though the majority of their acquaintances knew of their romance, public displays of affection were frowned upon by the administration.
With a small sigh of disappointment, Edward nodded his understanding and held out the request slips for his latest project.
"I'll bring these to you as soon as possible, Dr. Cullen," Bella politely replied, her eyes apologetic.
"Thank you, Ms. Swan." He leaned across the desk conspiratorially and whispered, "I'll be waiting." Edward's eyes flickered to hers, promising a more in-depth welcome behind the closed stacks.
Bella's breath hitched and her eyes widened. She glanced at the coverage schedule and realized she could slip away for a few extra minutes or twenty.
With a sharp click of the heel, Edward turned and headed back to his carrel, completely oblivious to the bosomy blonde student assistant who leaned provocatively over the book cart she was supposed to be placing in order. Bella smiled to herself as she turned to the small pieces of paper. Her grin widened as she realized that in the lower left corner of each scrap a word was written and when the pieces were placed in shelf order, the three words said, "I love you."
A small, happy sigh escaped her lips, earning a brilliant grin from Edward before he turned and laid her plate aside. Bella had spied the chocolate cake with strawberries and was hoping that it was the next order of business.
"Let me feed you," Edward had murmured, holding a small silver fork to her lips.
"Edward, I can…" Bella began to protest, wrapping the sheet tighter around her naked chest, earning a small pout.
"I know you can, but I want to do this," he replied, teasing her lower lip with the tines until her lips parted and the rich chocolate cake with ganache icing melted on her tongue. Edward smiled at the low, guttural moan that escaped her throat. "Now, was that so bad?"
"No," she sighed in resignation before shuffling slightly to reduce the pressure on her wrapped ankle.
"Only you would sprain your ankle on our way out for Valentine's Day," Edward teased, presenting another bite to her lips.
Bella glared at him in mock-ferocity before her face morphed into a gentle smile as she gazed at her bare chested lover as he hovered another bite of cake before her lips.
"Very true, Dr. Cullen. What are you going to do with me?" she demanded before devouring the delicious morsel before her.
"Oh, I can think of a few things," he smiled, placing the plate on the nightstand.
Edward turned to Bella with a secret grin and handed her a card in a cream envelope with his signature flowing handwriting on the front.
"Read this first," he requested.
She cocked her head in question but at his encouraging smile, carefully opened the envelope and withdrew four folded pieces of paper with call numbers neatly written upon them. Bella quirked an eyebrow at Edward who only smiled encouragingly at her. She quickly organized them, getting confused at what she saw before her. The numbers were for books on libraries, beach houses, history, and travel.
"Open them in order," Edward whispered, his eyes never leaving hers.
So she did. Each card held one line of a paragraph.
From the moment I met you
I wanted to know more about you.
From the moment I met you
You held my heart in your hands.
From the moment I met you
I knew you were the one.
Bella, will you marry me?
Bella's eyes flew open and darted over to where Edward sat, his hands holding a small, black velvet box. Her hands flew over her mouth as the box opened. She lifted her eyes to gaze into his, seeing all the love and passion she felt for him reflected back at her.
"Yes," she whispered.
I hope you enjoyed this second look into Carrelward and Bella's relationship! Since I'm a symmetry kind of gal, there will be a third chapter (and my pre-reader asked so very nicely), but I am not sure when it will post.
In case you have not heard, I wrote a little story called Evermore Experience with an OC named Liriope. I am contributing L's back story to Mostly A Lurker's fundraiser. Any contribution to mostlyalurker . blogspot . com will get you a compilation including her story! But, because that is due on Halloween, and I am working on my next as-of-yet-unnamed project, I do not know when I will get back to Carrelward—it truly depends upon who speaks the loudest and if you read EE, you know Liriope is rather….um…loud.
As always, I would love to know what you think so leave me a review!