"I need a shorter piece," said Edward.
"Huh?" I asked, my mind in other places.
"Bella, I can't get it in."
I lay back on the couch, twirling a strand of hair around my finger, eyes glued to my husband.
"Wait. No, I'll probably be able to get it in. Now I need a longer piece."
I cleared my throat. "That's what she said."
He turned his head to gaze at me from his kneeling place on the floor and smirked. "That's not what you've ever said, is it now?"
Biting my lip, I shook my head. Fucking hell. Few things were hotter than Edward Cullen all red-faced and sweaty, hair sticking up everywhere, jeans slipping low on his hips and t-shirt dirty as he committed manual labor like it was a sin. All that, paired with the look he was now casting over his shoulder, combined to create a warm feeling low—oh, so low—in my abdomen. He was right. Never had I ever had the need to ask for a longer…piece.
"That's what I thought."
Guh. After seven years of marriage, he could still send shockwaves through my body with a single word or glance.
His eyes smoldered for a moment before he turned back to his work. "Now can you hand me a long plank?"
"You can hand me a long plank anytime," I said, but he either ignored it or didn't hear me.
I reluctantly stood from my spot on the couch and went to the opened box of wooden floor planks in the middle of the room. We were replacing the flooring in our house, and we wanted to finish it in one weekend. After living in the same house for five years and not really doing anything to make it our own, we'd finally decided it was time to give it something of a facelift. The only thing I could really do was help Edward spread plastic sheeting, open boxes of planks, and hand him whatever size he needed.
Contrary to what I believed to be true about couples doing home redecoration, it had gone surprisingly well. We were about halfway finished, and there hadn't been a single argument.
The only thing—or should I say being—that stood in our way was Indy. Unlike Luna, he had no fear. Our older dog was a bit skittish with all the noise and the upheaval of her home. She'd stayed out of sight for most of the day, probably lounging on the bed upstairs. Indy, being the six-month-old puppy he was, needed firsthand knowledge of every little step of the process. He seemed to be attached to Edward, following him around and sticking his nose on every wooden plank and every tool.
"I'm convinced," Edward said as he hammered a board into place, "that if Indy had opposable thumbs, he'd be a big help."
"He's so nosy," I agreed.
"Come on, dude. Why don't you go find Luna?"
The puppy cocked his head at the sound of his sister's name and scrambled off to find her. I giggled as Edward scrubbed his hands over his face and leaned back in a corner.
"Why's this wall so gross?" he asked.
"This wall. It's got something, like…splattered all over it."
I kneeled down to inspect the wall from his perspective. "Ew. What is that?" He was right; there was some kind of splatter there. It could've been from anything. A spilled beer, dog pee…who knew? I was a little bit disgusted by us in that moment.
Edward sighed. "Stupid flat paint. You barely bump up against it, and BAM! There's a mark on the stupid wall."
"Maybe…" I trailed off, unsure if I wanted to voice the idea I had in mind. Finally, I sighed and bit the bullet. "Maybe we should just repaint while we're doing the floors. We don't have to worry about getting paint on the carpet or trim. I've wanted to change the color of the living room for a while anyway."
Edward bit the inside of his cheek, then nodded slowly. "Yeah. Yeah, I think that's a good idea."
"Now?" I asked, rethinking my suggestion. I really hated painting. "I mean...what's your opinion? Do you really think we should do it or just live with it?"
"If you want the walls a different color, we'd better do it now. Otherwise, we both know it'll never get done."
An old favorite children's book came to mind then. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie...
Two hours and two hundred dollars later, I fired off a text to my best friend Alice.
Last minute addition to weekend plans. Feel like doing a little painting?
Her response came a minute later. You supply the snacks and beer, and we'll be there.
"Sweet. Alice and Jasper are coming to help," I said as Edward loaded the painting supplies into the back of the car. "We just have to swing by the store and pick up libations."
Another fifty bucks on pizza, snacks, and beer, and we were headed back home. This short weekend renovation was starting to become an expensive and time-consuming endeavor.
"Hey, weekend warriors!" Alice called as she and Jasper came through the front door. "Let's get this painting party started."
I hugged my bestie, thanking her profusely as I passed out cold bottles of beer.
"Weekend warriors, huh?" Edward grunted as he pried a baseboard away from the wall with a loud crack.
"Chill, babe. We're replacing the trim. Doesn't matter if it gets trashed."
Within seconds, he and Jasper had fallen into an easy routine of passing planks, prying trim, and measuring for cuts. Alice and I poured paint into trays and gathered all our tools.
Jasper carried a board through the kitchen as we equipped ourselves with rollers and brushes.
"Uh. You ladies might want to take all the stuff off the walls before you start," he said.
"I told you I hate painting," I said. "So much so that I've blocked out all memory of what to do."
We set about taking down paintings and curtain rods and removing hardware from the walls.
"Oh my God, this is such a long screw!" Alice cried as she stood on a ladder and twisted a screwdriver. "It's taking forever to get this thing out."
"That's what she said," Jasper replied.
I snorted. Home renovation was proving to be a great supplier of one-liners.
Finally, we were able to touch paint to walls. For an hour or two, everything seemed to be going well. Alice and I made good progress painting, and the rich, dark gray color looked like suede covering the main wall. Edward and Jasper even seemed to find a rhythm with the flooring. But as the afternoon turned to evening, stage two of Adventures in Home Renovation began.
The cursing phase.
"If we fuck it up, it's gonna come out looking fucking stupid over here," Edward said, gripping his hair between his long fingers.
"Yeah, but we've gotta at least fucking try it, man," said Jasper. "There's no other way."
"Son of a bitch!" Edward yelled later as he smashed his thumb with a hammer.
"Muzzle-frick-in-a-basket!" Alice yelled when she dripped paint in her hair. She wasn't one for actual bad words. She made up her own on the spot and was rather talented at it, even if they didn't make any sense. She rarely repeated one.
I dissolved into giggles, entering that stage of exhaustion where the only thing you can do is laugh in a giddy, nearly insane manner.
"I believe they call that slap-happy, folks," Edward said with a chuckle as he came over and tugged me down from the chair I stood on, one arm under my back, the other under my legs. I held my roller high in the air, trying not to get paint anywhere.
"Ew. Put me down. You're all sweaty."
"You love it." He nibbled my ear and set me down on my feet.
I ran my hand through his crazy hair, which stuck straight up and out in all directions. It was held that way by a mixture of sweat and dust, but it looked so damned sexy that I didn't care. "I do. I really do."
"You'd better not be getting any paint in my hair."
"And what are you going to do to me if I do?"
He reached under my shorts and pinched my butt cheek, making me yelp, and walked away toward the garage.
"Tease!" I called after him.
"I think that's a good stopping place for today," Edward said, standing up and brushing his hands over his jeans.
Alice started a slow clap, and I yawned, past the point of giddy and at the threshold of "put me the fuck to bed now." She and I had long since given up painting neatly and sped through the last wall. We were now draped over whatever space we could find on the couch among all the crap. I surveyed the room. Dust was absolutely everywhere. Everything in the room was coated in it. All of the furniture was pushed to the side of the room where the flooring had already been installed. Tools, nails, screws, paint cans and brushes, tarps, and beer bottles littered the rest.
"This place is a wreck. It's making me anxious."
"Don't worry, babe," said Edward, coming over to kiss me on the temple. "We'll have it finished tomorrow, no sweat."
We cleaned up what little we could and said goodbye to Alice and Jasper, who promised to return to help again the next day.
No sooner had they left than Edward had me pushed up against the wall, attacking my neck and collarbone with his lips and teeth. "Do you know how much it turned me on, seeing you standing on a chair in those tiny shorts, stretching your arms up above your head so your tits stuck out?" His hands wandered up my sides as he pressed his hard-on against me. "Are you even wearing a bra? I could see how hard your nipples were when the windows were open before, when you complained about being cold. Do you know how fucking sexy you are?"
His hands expertly undid the hooks of my bra and moved back around to palm my breasts. One hand continued its work there as the other moved down to shove my shorts aside. I moaned like a hooker.
"Edward," I said on a sigh.
"That's right," he cooed, grabbing my hand and bringing it down to press against the protruding fly of his jeans. He groaned.
I raised an arm above my head to brace myself against the wall. And that was when I realized our mistake.
"Edward!" I cried more urgently.
He pulled his mouth from my neck and looked at me with a concerned expression, his eyes clearing slightly from their sex haze. "Did I hurt you?"
"No! The wall is still wet."
"Oh, shit." He grabbed my hips and yanked me forward. The still-tacky paint tugged my hair as he pulled me away from the wall and turned me around. "Oh, fuck. I'm sorry, Bella."
I surveyed the damage to the wall as he examined me from behind. Not horrible. I grabbed a brush that I hadn't had the energy to clean—"I'll buy a new one," I had stated petulantly—and smoothed the paint out.
Edward stood behind me, peeling my shirt away from my back and trying to get paint out of my hair with a paper towel.
I heard a rumble from his chest and knew he was about to burst. "Go ahead."
He exploded with laughter. "Bella, I'm so sorry," he repeated, "but you have to admit it's funny."
"It's a little funny," I agreed, turning around to smile at my handsome, silly, good-natured husband. "But you're going to be the one to wash this paint out of my hair in the shower."
His laughter died, and his eyes darkened again. "I have absolutely no problem with that."
"I knew you wouldn't."
"What the fuuuuuck?" I groaned when I shuffled down the stairs the next morning. "The walls look like shit. Where's my coffee?"
Edward looked up from where he was laying a new sheet of plastic on the bare quarter of the floor. "What are you talking about? And coffee's in the kitchen."
I shivered and felt goosebumps rise on my skin as a cold cross-breeze blew through the open windows. "The walls! Look at the paint! It's all streaky and spotty and stupid-looking."
"It's not stupid-looking."
"It is! I love the color, but you can see where Alice and I got tired and stopped caring. Look here." I pointed out a spot where someone had gone back over a drip with a brush.
"You're being neurotic."
"Am not! Look at this." I gestured to a white spot in a corner. "And this!"
"I'm rather fond of that spot. I think we should leave it," Edward said as he came up behind me and examined the section we'd ruined when he'd pushed me against it the night before. His erection pressed against my backside, and I laughed.
"What's gotten into you?"
"Au contraire. It is I who will be getting into you."
"Oh, my God. I haven't even had my coffee yet. What is it about this project that's making you so horny?"
He raised one eyebrow, leveling me with his sexiest stare. "Don't think I haven't noticed you eyeballing me when I'm kneeling on the floor and banging boards." He thumbed my nipple through my nightshirt. "I'm not even sure if this is from the air blowing in or because you can't resist me in all my manly manliness. Or maybe you're thinking of last night's shower."
I narrowed my eyes, and he smacked me on the butt. "Go get your coffee, you little addict."
I stumbled to the kitchen, grumbling about having to do a second coat of paint. No way was Alice going to be okay with that. If I was sore, she probably was too.
"Fuck it," I said regally an hour later, sitting atop a stack of pillows on the recliner. "I don't care anymore. It'll be covered by furniture and pictures anyway."
"That's my girl," Edward said with a chuckle. "Now. I need a long piece. Will you give it to me?"
I pursed my lips to suppress a grin. "That's what she said."