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Summary: Edward and Bella both volunteer with the local Domestic Abuse Response Team. Actually, it's how they met. Sadly, Bella was the first victim Edward worked with.
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters are the property of their respective owners. I only own the plot.
I slid my tray across the Formica table and collapsed into the hard plastic chair startling my lunch companion. I might only be 28, but I was feeling every minute of those years right now.
"Geez, Cullen, you sure know how to make an entrance."
I grinned at the woman sitting across from me, who had been studying the classifieds before I joined her.
"You're not sorry."
"You're right," I told her with a crooked smile, glancing distastefully at the contents of her lunch tray.
"How do you survive on that rabbit food?" I asked her, grimacing and poking at her salad with my fork. We'd had this conversation often.
"Just fine, thank you. And probably better than you…." She looked at my tray with a significant expression.
"What? I'm a growing boy."
She snorted. "You'll be growing in the wrong direction if you keep eating that shit. There's not a single green thing on your entire tray."
"Green? Isn't that the color your leftover takeout turns right before you throw it out?"
She rolled her eyes and shook her head.
I grinned at her before using a tortilla chip to scoop up a huge glob of chili and cheese and shoveling it into my mouth. I didn't even make any attempt to be couth about it, allowing the overflow to dribble from the corner of my lips.
Bella wrinkled her nose and made a gagging sound before turning back to her classifieds.
"Any luck today?" I asked after wiping my face and clearing my mouth with a swig of soda.
She sighed deeply. "Nope, same shitty apartments as yesterday." She sat back and stared out the plate glass window across the aisle, sipping from her water bottle. We were eating in a cafeteria downtown. It had a retro feel, working like one of those old automats you sometimes see in black and white movies.
I knew she was disappointed. Bella was finally ready to be on her own again, but the reality of finding a livable apartment at a reasonable price was frustrating her.
I considered broaching the topic of a roommate, but was afraid that the conversation would upset her. Bella had trust issues. It was my turn to sigh.
She gave me a curious look. "What's up?"
I forced a smile on my face. "Nothing. Just thinking about our last case," I lied.
Not that our last case wasn't worth thinking about. Bella and I volunteered together on a Domestic Abuse Response Team or DART. We helped women and their children escape bad home situations. Actually, volunteering for the team was how I met Bella.
Sadly, she was one of the first victims I worked with as team member.
Bella's eyes grew distant. "Yeah, that was a tough one."
In our most recent case, a 24-year old single mom was trying to escape her abusive boyfriend. Bella had talked with her frequently over the past couple weeks. I was only there for the actual escape. When Bella had arrived, she'd found Lauren crying in the bathroom. Her baby was strapped in her car seat on the kitchen table, all bundled up and ready to go.
Bella told me later what had happened.
"Lauren, what's wrong?" she'd asked.
Lauren turned a tear-stained face to her. "I-I'm…pregnant…."
It took some fast talking on Bella's part to convince Lauren to still follow through on her escape. Lauren was terrified. It would be hard enough on her own with a baby and only a high school diploma, but adding pregnancy to the mix….
I drove the car that day, bringing Bella, Lauren, and the baby to a distant battered women's shelter. They had resources that would help Lauren, her daughter, and her unborn child. I helped unload the stuff Lauren brought with her but only carried it as far as the door. Many of the women inside had a hard time trusting men—and for good reasons.
Often, I was simply the driver. You might wonder why I bothered. They could get anyone to drive the car, but I had a personal reason for volunteering with the Domestic Abuse Response Team: my sister, Rose.
As far as Rose was concerned the sun rose and set on Royce King. He was the one who convinced her to go to college all the way across the country—3,000 miles from home. It was once he had her there that the abuse began. Subtle at first, he encouraged her to cut off contact with her friends. Then, he convinced her to stay back east with him on holidays and breaks. My parents missed her terribly, but spoke to her often. Not even Royce could destroy that bond.
However, I don't think either of them will forgive themselves for not realizing what was happening.
I was home alone the night she called for help.
"Eddie?" Only Rose got away with calling me that. Her usual rich voice was thin and reedy.
"Rose? What's wrong?" My blood ran cold. Her broken spirit called out to me.
"I'm in trouble, Eddie. I need help. Could you come get me?"
Despite the late hour, despite the 3,000 miles, I was out the door and on a plane. I called my parents, but didn't wait for them to arrive before leaving. It was a good thing, too.
The Super of the shithole apartment building my sister was living in was reluctant to open her door for me. I considered threats, but went with a bribe instead. It's amazing what a hundred bucks can buy you. He opened the door and bolted back to his hidey-hole in the basement.
It had been just over eight hours since Rose called, but I found her still in the bed where the assault took place. The less said about her condition, the better. My first instinct was to call the cops, but she begged me not to. I settled for an ambulance instead. To Rose's chagrin, the cops arrived with the EMTs anyway.
Royce showed up at the apartment later that evening. He was surprised to find me, not Rose, waiting. My parents arrived a few hours after me and were staying in the hospital with my sister while I packed up her stuff.
The sight of him turned my stomach. Royce was the kind of guy who always appeared larger than life. I had a bad case of hero worship when I was a skinny 15-year old kid. He was the big man on campus, even in high school.
He hadn't changed much in the three plus years since I'd last seen him. I, on the other hand, was no longer a skinny kid. I'd filled out a lot between 15 and 19. I knew that violence only begat more violence, so I felt fully justified in beating the living shit out of Royce King, but I chose not to do it. Rose was going to need me and I couldn't do much for her if I was in jail.
I did, however, tell him that I wouldn't be concerned with my own fate if I ever saw him again. I didn't have to worry. The rape kit, along with the photographic evidence of the abuse my sister suffered, was enough to send both Royce and his friend to jail for 12 years apiece. I was never prouder of my sister than I was when she sat on that witness stand and recounted her experience with those rabid animals parading around as men.
"Deep thoughts today, Cullen?" Bella put her foot on my knee and wiggled it around under the table. She was in rare form. I didn't take shit from anyone, but I'd take all Bella had to give me and more.
I grabbed her foot, flipping off the bright pink Ked she was wearing, and started tickling her sock-covered foot.
She let out a loud squeal that earned us a few looks, but I didn't stop. She wiggled around in her chair, giggling. I enjoyed the happy sound for a moment, but then let her go. I retrieved her sneaker and offered it to her. She slipped it back onto her foot.
I mused at how much more confident and secure Bella was now than when I met her. Had I tried to touch her that first week….
I joined the Domestic Abuse Response Team when I was twenty-one. I'd have joined earlier but my studies made it hard to fully commit. Two months after I finished my training, I went with an experienced team member to the place where Bella lived. Unlike many of the victims I've dealt with since then, Bella had no visible signs of her abuse, although she was ridiculously skinny.
I found out later her jerk of a boyfriend had put locks on the fridge and cabinets, so she couldn't access food unless he let her. He didn't want her to get fat. She couldn't have weighed 100 pounds back then. She looked much more robust at her current weight, which I'd put at about 115 pounds.
Like most victims, Bella was reluctant to leave. To this day I didn't know what had finally pushed her to get out, but I was glad she did. My team leader, Jane, introduced us when we arrived.
"Bella, this is Edward. He's going to help us get you out of here. Is that okay?" I was relieved that she didn't mind me assisting. I sat in the back of the car while Jane drove Bella to the shelter where she'd be staying until she got her feet back under her.
Many victims of violence are out of touch with their families because their abuser likes it that way. That wasn't the case with Bella; she simply had no one to turn to. She was an only child and both her parents were dead. Her abuser had spent much of her inheritance over the years they'd been together.
As you can imagine, I was gratified when Bella joined the team three years ago. She was a true success story. Bella had worked her way from the shelter to a group home and was now looking for a place of her own. She'd returned to school and was working on her degree in social work. She wanted to be able to help victims find their voices.
"Finished?" I asked her pointing to her almost empty tray.
"Yep," she replied, eyeing the classifieds once more. I took our trays to the trash cans and dumped them. When I turned around, I noticed that Bella was watching me. I smiled at her questioningly but she just shook her head, blushing. She stood up and joined me near the trashcans, dumping the newspaper in the recycle bin.
"So, what's the plan for today?" I asked her. Bella and I used to spend a lot of time together, but her recent return to school cut into our outings. I was so damned proud of her commitment to her education that I didn't really mind—much.
I smiled and nodded. The two of us walked up the sidewalk. There was an old fashioned theater in town. It only showed two pictures at a time. Since everyone went to the multiplex, the theater owner, Mr. Atera, had decided to do something a little different. The theater showed old movies. Usually there was a theme. Sometimes he'd do a double feature in the afternoons.
That's where Bella and I were headed.
"An Affair to Remember and To Catch a Thief."
Bella nodded with a grin. We were both fans.
"But I can't do the double today; I have an appointment at four to see a place." She didn't look too hopeful.
"Where's this one?"
"You know China Garden?"
"Uh, the takeout place?"
"Yeah, the owners live over the shop, but they're having a baby and need more room. They're renting it out, but want someone they know."
"I like a good moo shu as much as the next person, but are you really going to be able to stand the smell?"
"I didn't say it was a good apartment…." Bella said defensively.
Again I considered bringing up the roommate issue, but we got to the theater before I had time.
The popcorn smell hit us before we even entered the building. In keeping with the theater's theme, the popcorn was freshly popped and they used real butter. Candy was sold by the pound out of huge glass cylinders that were at least eight feet tall. The only concession to modern times were diet drinks.
It was a popular stop for the blue haired set, but a few younger couples were usually in attendance, too.
"Which show?" Bella asked me as she pulled a few bills from her back pocket.
"What's playing next?"
"An Affair to Remember."
"An Affair to Remember it is, then." I paused, "Want some M&Ms?" I asked even though I knew the answer.
"Like you have to ask."
"I'll meet you at the door."
As usual, Bella bought the tickets while I bought the food. A large popcorn with extra butter, two Cokes and a half a pound of M&Ms later, I caught up with Bella. She was chatting with the owner, who was taking tickets at the door.
"Ah, there's your young man," Mr. Atera commented, patting Bella's hand when I joined them.
Mr. Atera ignored her. I think his hearing was going.
"I was just telling Bella that I've missed seeing you two," he continued. "You haven't been around much."
"Bella's back in school," I explained to the old man, ignoring his mistaken assumption that Bella and I were together. If only….
"Wonderful, wonderful…," he said as he took our tickets.
Bella and I made our way down the aisle and managed to nab our favorite seats about three quarters of the way back, right in the center.
As soon as we were settled Bella turned to me, panic clear in her eyes.
"I never told him that we were together, he just assumed…."
I laughed. "Don't worry about it, Bella. I'm sure he didn't mean it as an insult." I winked at her as I handed her the M&Ms.
She laughed nervously.
We settled back as the lights went down.
Another feature of this old-time theater was cartoons and newsreels. None of them were new, of course, but it did add to the ambiance. I balanced the popcorn bucket on my left leg so Bella could reach it while she removed the twist tie from the M&Ms and dumped half the bag into the popcorn bucket. I had been grossed out the first time she'd done that, but had to concede that the eating the sweet M&Ms and the salty popcorn together was really good.
I watched her in the dark while she watched footage of the invasion of Normandy. God, she was gorgeous.
I'd been torturing myself for three years. She had only been part of the team for a month or so before I realized that my passion for the work I was doing was nothing compared to my interest in her. That wasn't to say that I didn't care, or only continued to volunteer so I could be with her; it was just that everything paled in comparison to spending time with Bella.
The lights dimmed further and Bella scootched down in her seat, getting comfortable for the feature.
"Will you cry?" I asked in a quiet, teasing voice. She often cried during love stories.
She sighed. "Probably."
The movie started, but it could have been a blank screen for all I saw. Thankfully, I knew the movie well and could discuss it intelligently even if I didn't watch it. I kept sneaking glances at Bella. Her eyes were fixed on the screen. She squirmed and shifted along with the actors on the screen. At one point I was fairly certain she was mouthing Deborah Kerr's lines.
Then something…interesting happened. I stuck my hand in the popcorn bucket and was fishing out a handful of the sticky popcorn/candy mixture when Bella reached her hand into the bucket, too. I could swear that her hand lingered in the bucket; her fingers brushing against mine longer than necessary to scoop out some of our snack.
My eyes went to her face automatically, but she was still staring at the screen, seemingly completely engrossed in the movie.
Geez, Cullen, get a grip, I told myself. She doesn't like you that way. I forced myself to pay attention to the screen.
When the big reveal happened I could hear the distinctive sounds of Bella's sniffles. I held out one of our napkins, which she took without looking at me. I turned my head and watched as nearly silent tears poured down Bella's face. She sniffed again and I was overwhelmed by her vulnerability. Before I could stop myself, I reached over and wrapped my arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer to me, offering her the comfort of my embrace.
Bella turned and looked at me, a startled expression on her face. Despite my most fervent desire, we'd never even held hands, yet here I was draping myself over her.
"Is this okay?" I whispered. Pleaseletitbeokay.
Slowly, she nodded, before turning back to face the screen. With my arm around her I could feel her shudder as she quietly cried. I never took my eyes off her as the music swelled and the credits began to roll. Bella dabbed at the corner of her eyes as the lights came back up.
Now that I'd finally gotten my arm around her, I was reluctant to let go, but trying to stand like this would be awkward. Bella wasn't looking at me, but she hadn't shrugged me off either. Maybe she'd let me hold her again once we were in the aisle?
I let my arm drop as I stood. It may have been my imagination, but I think Bella may have shivered. I scooted down the row and into the aisle, Bella close behind. I paused at the end of the aisle, to allow her to step in front of me. Without conscious thought, my hand ghosted along the small of her back, eliciting another shiver from her.
A shiver was good, right?
With any girl who didn't have Bella's history, I'd certainly make a move at this point. But this was Bella…my friend, Bella, who had lived through something no woman should ever have to live through.
Bella started moving up the aisle. Although I was behind her, my longer reach allowed me to pull open the door to the lobby. She passed through with a quiet, "Thank you."
We walked through the lobby. I noticed Mr. Atera looking at us. I gave him a wave which he returned with a smile, as I pushed open the outside doors and followed Bella out to the sidewalk.
"Want me to walk with you to the apartment?" I asked her, glancing at my watch. We had about an hour before her appointment.
"Okay," she answered in a small voice. I frowned. Had I pushed her too far?
We walked quietly down the sidewalk, not touching. The silence was deafening, at least in my ears.
"Good movie, huh?" I said, for lack of anything better to say.
"Yeah," she answered succinctly.
Giving up, I just continued to follow Bella's lead as she headed towards the Chinese takeout place we frequented. When we turned the corner, I noticed a few older teens hanging around outside the storefront. I recognized one as the Chins' nephew, who often made deliveries for the business. It looked like he had a few buddies with him.
As we approached two of them pushed off from the wall and stepped into the middle of the sidewalk, with grins on their faces. They faced off and started exchanging what sounded like good-natured insults, though their expressions belied any hostility. Their friends laughed at what was being said.
Suddenly, the two were exchanging blows in a display of martial arts prowess. It was obvious they were pulling their punches, not trying to inflict any real damage on one another; they were just fooling around.
Bella seemed lost in her own world, unaware of the mock fight happening just fifteen feet in front of us. Suddenly, the combatant facing us went on the offensive causing his opponent to retreat in his effort to avoid the blows. I saw what was going to happen, but was helpless to stop it. The retreating combatant ploughed right into Bella.
Snapped out of the fog she had been in, Bella turned and slammed right into me in her effort to escape. Instinctively, my arms went around her. I pulled her close to my chest, almost lifting her off the ground. With my right arm still around her, I held out my left in a fending gesture.
The mock fight came to a screeching halt, as all the teens rose to their feet, worried expressions on their faces.
Bella was silent except for the sound of her harsh gasps. Her arms were bent at the elbows, her tiny fists resting against my chest. She had her head tucked down. Despite the fact that it had been an accident, despite the fact that I saw it coming, overwhelming anger suffused me.
"Dui bu qi!" the boy who had slammed into her apologized in rapid Chinese. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" he repeated in English.
"Sorry!" the offensive combatant echoed. Bella didn't respond, but I nodded my head in acknowledgement.
Bella calmed quickly, but didn't shake off my arms. I bent my head. "Do you still want to look at the apartment?"
She didn't answer, but shook her head minutely. I allowed my left arm to drop to my side, but kept my right arm around her shoulders as we hurried past the Chinese restaurant. I could hear the boys arguing with each other. As we turned the corner, I noticed that they had resumed their mock fighting, the incident with Bella already forgotten.
Not sure what to do, I continued walking with Bella. I paid attention as her breathing slowed. I could feel the tightness in her shoulders slowly give way as we walked further along, until she was finally relaxed.
We'd walked another block or so and as much as I enjoyed having Bella tucked under my arm it hadn't happened the way I'd hoped. Keeping it there now was really just taking advantage of her. I steered her over to a bench in front of a coffee shop and sat her down, plopping down next to her.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
She smiled tightly. "Yeah, I'm okay. They just startled me, is all. I'll be fine."
I let out a noisy breath and looked at her through my lowered lids. She did seem fine. There wasn't a mark on her. Perhaps I was overly concerned because of her history. Most people probably would have just laughed it off. But I did get a vibe of true fright from her initially. Ugh! This was so hard.
I looked up at her face. She was looking at me with an open expression. Damn, she was so beautiful. Before I could stop myself, before I could remember this was not just any girl, but Bella, I leaned forward and kissed her softly. I had kissed her before; we'd volunteered together for three years after all. But those kisses were always on the cheek, for holidays and birthdays and stuff, nothing more than a friendly gesture, the equivalent of a man hug.
This was different.
She didn't kiss me back at first and I was about to pull away when I felt her hand on my cheek. Suddenly, she was kissing me back. No sooner did I realize this than she pulled away.
I leaned back slowly and stared at her. Her eyes were wide as she looked back at me. There was no anger in them, no fear, thank God. She looked…surprised? Uncertain?
She raised her hand to her mouth and touched her lips.
"What was that?" she whispered. Her voice was steady but curious. I wasn't sure she was actually talking to me.
"Bella, I…" The door to the coffee shop behind us opened and a gaggle of giggling teenage girls, each holding some sort of frozen concoction, came pouring out, laughing loudly. Bella's head whipped around to take in the sight. I grimaced.
"Can we go someplace to talk? Someplace quiet?" I asked.
She frowned slightly as the girls moved off, but nodded her head. I stood up and offered her my hand. She peered at it suspiciously, before looking up at me and placing her hand in my own, allowing me to help her up from the bench. This was the kind of gesture I made for the girls I dated, not for my "pal" Bella.
We walked side-by-side, not touching. I could practically see the gears turning in her head. I tried to convince myself I wasn't about to make a huge mistake.
In the automat today, she wasn't watching me throw out the trash, she was checking out my ass, that's why she blushed when I caught her. At the movies she deliberately brushed her fingers against mine when she reached into the popcorn bucket. When the kids at the Chinese restaurant startled her, she ran into my arms on purpose. And just now…she kissed me back.
The park was nearby and we strolled towards it silently. The benches near the gates were occupied, so we continued along. When we got to a less populated section of the park, Bella gravitated towards a bench. I followed.
Bella sat straight on the bench, while I turned to face her. Her head was down, but then she turned it. She met my eyes then quickly looked away.
I heaved a mental sigh. It was now or never.
"Bella…I…." I trailed off with an exasperated sound. Why was this so hard?
In a fit of brashness, I reached over and snagged her right hand in mine from where it lay on her lap. She looked at me, surprise on her face once again. But she didn't pull away.
"There! There. That's…that's what I want. I want to hold your hand."
She stared at our joined hands. "Okay." Her voice was quiet, but didn't sound displeased.
"And this," I continued, sliding next to her and placing my left arm over her shoulders. "I want to be able to do this."
This time she turned to look at me. Our proximity meant that her face was just inches from mine. "Oh," she breathed and I had to hold myself back from diving in for another kiss.
"And I want everything that comes with holding your hand. Late night phone calls, dinner, lazy Saturday afternoons here in the park. I want to wrap my arms around you when other guys stare at you so that they know they don't have a chance. I want…."
It seems Bella didn't care what else I wanted, because it was at that moment that she leaned forward and kissed me. I let go of her hand and touched her face before running my hand down her hair to where it ended at her waist. Bella didn't touch me, but she didn't pull away.
With one, two, three soft kisses we pulled apart. I stared at her in wonder. She offered me a small smile that quickly twisted into something else.
"I…I can't. I just…I can't. I'm fucked up, Edward. I…you deserve someone who is whole. Someone who doesn't come with all my baggage."
"I don't want anyone else, Bella. I want you. You're amazing."
"I…I haven't been with anyone since…him. I'm not sure I can be."
"You're so strong, Bella. You can do anything you want to do. Look how far you've come. You were a victim and now you're an advocate. You save other women from having to deal with what happened to you. I'm in awe of your strength and your determination. If you don't want me, I won't push, but if there's a chance…."
Bella's eyes went wide. "If there was anyone…" she started, quietly, "it would be you."
I grabbed both her hands in my own and noted how she didn't startle or pull away from me. Bella trusted me and I would never betray that trust.
"Please, Bella. Go out with me. Once. Just once. I promise I'm not like him or any other guy."
"I know you're not," she whispered.
"Will you?" I waited with bated breath. She bit her lip and stared down at the ground. Finally, she nodded.
A huge grin broke out on my face. "Thank you."
Four months. Edward and I had been dating for four months. True to his word, he always made me feel like I was precious to him. Special. He was incredibly careful around me, both verbally and physically.
It was pissing me off.
Of course, it was my own fault. When Edward asked me out and confessed to having feelings for me I was scared. I hadn't been with anyone since him and wasn't sure I was ready for a relationship that was more than just friendship.
I should have known that being with Edward would be different.
We'd gone out three times before he offered me more than a chaste kiss. His mouth was so warm on mine and when he finally touched my lips with the tip of his tongue I was more than ready to let him in.
After that, things moved more quickly. We no longer progressed at a sloth's pace. Now it was more like a snail. Even when I finally found a place of my own, he never took advantage of the privacy.
I remembered the first time his hands had grazed the sides of my breasts. I'm still pretty sure it was a mistake on his part. I'd whimpered at the contact—it felt so good—and he pulled back as if my shirt was on fire.
"I'm sorry," he'd whispered.
"No, it's okay…more than okay," I'd told him.
Though he didn't touch me like that again that night, he had done it a few times since. It just wasn't enough anymore.
I was ready. I'd never been more ready in my life.
Tonight, Edward was coming over. I was making dinner and then we were going to listen to a local band play at a bar downtown. Well, that's what he planned. I, on the other hand, planned on seducing my boyfriend.
The lasagna was out of the oven and sitting on the stove firming up. I just slipped the garlic bread into the still warm oven when the bell rang. I buzzed Edward up. It was only a minute later he was knocking on my door.
I grinned when I saw him leaning against the wall across from my apartment door. He looked up at me and smiled, offering me the bottle of wine in his hand. I pulled him inside and closed the door, turning quickly to kiss him. He ran his hand from the top of my head, down my back until he settled at my waist, neither pulling me to him nor pushing my perceived limits, just enjoying what I offered.
I was ready for a little pulling and pushing.
"Hi," he breathed when we broke apart.
I led him into the kitchen and grabbed two wine glasses from the cabinet over my sink. Edward made short work of the cork and poured a rich red into our glasses while I pulled the garlic bread from the oven.
"Smells fantastic," he commented.
"Thanks." I brought the tray of lasagna to the table, and cut into it, serving us both generous portions.
"Mmmm…." he hummed with the first bite. I froze, looking at him. I wanted to hear that sound again tonight, but without the food. He looked at me questioningly, but I just smiled and shook my head.
Edward asked about my classes, as he always did. He made a few references to our plans for the evening and mentioned that his sister was thinking about visiting.
We finished dinner. I'd made dessert, but didn't plan on offering it to him, unless we did end up going out. I wasn't sure I had it in me to jump him. If we ended up at the bar, I'd try to lure him back here with the offer of brownies.
I giggled a little at the thought of having to lure my boyfriend of four months to my bed.
"What?" he asked, a confused smile on his face.
I shrugged off his question.
"Ready to go?" he asked, jingling his keys.
It's now or never.
I followed him into the living room. As we approached the door he dropped his keys and bent over to pick them up. When he bent over, his t-shirt rode up in the back letting me see the movement of his toned muscles, and the waistband of his boxers peeking over his jeans.
When he reached the door, I stopped him. He turned to face me confused, and I plastered myself to him, pushing him against the door and rising on my tiptoes to reach his mouth more easily.
My kiss was hard and demanding. Edward responded automatically. I could actually feel the moment when he gave into the kiss. His keys hit the floor again as he dropped them so he could wrap his arms around me. His hands wandered down my back, coming to a stop just over the flare of my hips.
I ran my hands up his arms and down over his chest, seeking the hem of his shirt. When I found it, I immediately thrust my hands underneath and ran my nails lightly over his hard abdomen. He sucked in a breath and moaned, breaking away from our kiss.
He slid his hands to the front of my hips and hesitated. I knew he didn't know what to do. His constant need to be careful with me was warring with the desire I could feel pressed against my stomach. I was almost giddy. He wanted me, too.
I pressed my lips to his neck and trailed open mouthed kisses over all the skin I could reach. I heard a thunk as his head fell back to hit the door. I ground my hips into him as best I could. Tentatively at first, and then with more vigor, he pulled me against him. His mouth returned to mine and he kissed me while pressing me to him.
It was my turn to break away from our kiss, panting hard. Instead of stopping, he moved his mouth to my neck as I had done and sucked just below my ear.
"Ah, Edward…." I trailed my hands down his arms once again, grabbing his wrists and raising his hands to my breasts. He hissed as he cupped me, running his thumbs over my hardened nipples.
I threaded my finger through one of his belt loops and tugged him away from the wall. He allowed himself to be pulled from the door. Step by step, I led him back until we were in the middle of the room.
We stopped there as I tried to slide my free hand up under his shirt again.
"What are you doing to me…?" he whisper-moaned. I could tell by the tone of his voice he wasn't really expecting an answer, but I gave him one any way.
"I'm seducing you. Is it working?"
Instead of answering with words he let out what can only be described as a growl and attacked my mouth with his own. I pulled at his shirt with both hands in an attempt to take it off him, a useless task with the differences in our heights.
He stopped kissing me long enough to help, pulling his shirt over his head with one hand and tossing it to the side. It was the first time I'd seen his bare chest. It was a sight worth seeing. Taut muscle flexed beneath smooth skin, a light smattering of hair covered his chest.
Suddenly, we were on the move again, as he stepped forward and I backed up, leading him towards my bedroom, kissing the entire way. When we reached the door he stopped.
"Bella, are you sure?"
"God, yes." I turned on my heel and walked directly to my bed, bringing my arms to the hem of my shirt, getting ready to pull it off.
"I want to do that part," Edward murmured pulling my hands away and using his own to pull up my shirt. He caught my gaze and I tried my hardest to convey my desire with my eyes alone. He must have trusted what he saw, because he gently lifted my shirt over my head and dropped it to the floor.
His heated gaze traveled to my pink and white bra. He ran his fingers gently down the satin straps before cupping my breasts once again. Ducking his head he placed a hot kiss right between them. I folded my arms around his head, holding him to me. He moved his mouth left and right, grazing my exposed flesh and covered peaks with his tongue and teeth.
Finally, I could take no more and collapsed backwards onto my bed. Edward followed, covering me with his body, but holding his own weight on his muscular forearms. He scooted downward, kissing my bare stomach, and teasing my belly button with his nose. I carded my hands through his hair and moaned my approval of his actions.
The sensations Edward had running through me were like nothing I'd ever felt before. I squirmed and wiggled as my sensitive flesh responded to his ministrations. I was almost delirious with delight when I became aware of Edward repeating something over and over again. I attempted to focus on his words.
"Please, Bella, please. Please let me be inside you. Please." Despite my aggressions tonight, he was still being careful, asking for what I freely offered.
"God, yes, Edward. Please. I want you so bad."
Suddenly, he was gone. A cold rush of air covered me as he stood and quickly pushed his jeans over his hips. The bulge in his boxers was impressive. I'd had a feeling it would be. While this was the first time I was seeing him like this, I'd felt his erection on more than one occasion and was happy that the reality was as good as my imagination.
He leaned over me again, staring into my eyes as his hand went to the button on my jeans. Carefully, he unbuttoned my pants and slid down the zipper slowly, never taking his eyes from mine. I lifted my hips to help him slide off my jeans. When I was in nothing but my bra and panties, he finally broke eye contact, gazing down at my nearly naked form.
He licked his lips once and I could see his eyes darken in the fading light of day.
"You are so incredibly beautiful."
His words had the ring of truth. In his eyes, I was beautiful.
He lowered himself down over me carefully. Before his full weight could pin me down, he moved to his side and pulled me against him so we were front to front. His hand swept up and down my side as he kissed me.
I slid my hand down his flat stomach and boldly traced his erection through his boxers. He hissed and moaned, reaching down to take my hand and lay it over his throbbing manhood. I rubbed gently over him and marveled as his hips rocked in him with my hand.
Made bold by his obvious enjoyment, I slid my hand into the opening of his boxers and grasped him gently. He was so warm.
Edward fell away from me, rolling onto his back and covering his eyes with his forearm. I worked him carefully, sliding my hand up and down his thick shaft, taking note of his moans. Suddenly, he grabbed my hand and pulled it away.
"Stop…you're going to make me come," he said in a low, rumbling voice.
My eyes widened at his confession. He sat up and reached for me again, pulling me against him. I unhooked my bra while he kissed me. It wasn't until he reached for my panties that I felt the slightest twinge of concern. Edward was significantly bigger than he had been, and it had been a long time for me.
Sensing my hesitancy, Edward slid his hand into my panties instead of trying to take them off. I was almost embarrassed by how wet I was, but he just moaned at the slick feel.
His fingers traveled between my folds and I could tell he was cataloging my reactions to his movements as I had with him earlier. When he reached the sensitive nub at the top, my hips bucked off the bed. I felt him smile against my mouth as he gently circled my clit over and over again.
The feeling was incredible and I couldn't stop myself from moaning into his mouth as my hips moved with his hand.
The rush of my orgasm surprised me. I pulled my mouth away from his and moaned loudly.
"Oh God, Edward…." Shuddering waves passed through me. He held me to him as I slowly floated back to earth. Spent, I laid back, tugging him against me. Once he was on top of me, I reached down and pushed down his boxer shorts. The wet fingers of his right hand slid beneath my panties once again as he started to inch them down.
This time I had no concerns. All I wanted to do was make him feel as good as he made me feel. I kicked off my panties once he got them to my calves. He carefully slid his knee between my thighs and I spread my legs to give him better access.
"Is this okay? Tell me Bella, I need to hear it."
"Yes, Edward, yes. Take me."
Slowly, ever so slowly, he guided himself between my thighs, pausing to rub the head of his dick up and down between my folds. I strained against him, eager to have him where I wanted him until finally, bit by bit, he advanced.
I could feel myself stretching despite my orgasm, but it was a delicious ache, one I hoped to feel again and again. When he was fully inside he paused, kissing my face, my neck and my chest. Finally, I could take it no more and nudged up with my hips. He answered with a gentle downward thrust that made me catch my breath with the ecstasy of the feeling.
I wrapped my arms around his broad back and scraped my nails lightly over his skin. He moaned in appreciation as the rhythm of his thrusts increased. I bucked against him, spurring him on.
"Ah, Bella, you feel so good."
I hummed in response, distracted by the growing pleasure I was feeling. I'd never come from intercourse before, but if Edward could keep this up another minute or two I had no doubt I would.
He didn't disappoint.
As Edward continued to rock into me, I moved frantically, reaching for that perfect feeling. When he realized what was happening he began to whisper into my ear.
"Yes, yes… come again for me. Please give it to me. God Bella, yes…come on my cock."
It was the unfamiliar vulgarity that finally sent me over the edge.
"Oh God, Edward. Yes…oh…oh!" I clenched around him and pressed against him as hard as I could. His whispered encouragement turned into incoherent babbling as my walls gripped him tightly. Finally spent, I relaxed onto the bed, tightening my arms around him and nudging him with my hips, spurring him on.
His pace increased and I attempted to follow. Just as I finally felt comfortable in our rhythm his even panting turned harsh and guttural.
"Bella." He groaned my name as he shuddered atop me and his rhythm faltered. I could feel him jerk inside me. I clasped my arms tightly around him as he finally froze before relaxing into my embrace.
We were silent for a few minutes, waiting for our breathing to return to normal. Finally, Edward rolled to the side, pulling me with him so I covered him like a blanket. He stroked his big hands up and down my back. I snuggled into his chest, allowing one hand to trail down his arm.
"That was incredible. Thank you," he said, finally.
I wanted to laugh at his gratitude. It was I who was grateful. In the four months we'd been together, Edward showed me that I was not broken or incapable of a relationship. Therapy had helped me see I was not at fault for what happened to me, but couldn't assuage the worry that I wouldn't be good at being half of a whole.
Edward's presence in my life did that.
I smiled against his chest and kissed him there, as well. He stroked my hair and murmured to me, until he finally fell asleep. Content and warm in his embrace, I joined him just a few minutes later.
Thanks to LisaJ, Melissa, Emily, and Shanda for their work on this one shot.