Disclaimer: All Twilight related characters belong to S. Meyer.
The Good, The Beard and The Stubborn
Chapter 1 – The Challenge
It was close to midnight on a Sunday and I was perched on the couch flipping through my emails before the work week. Jake was lying on top of my feet, keeping them warm and toasty under his fuzzy belly. Barefoot Contessa was playing on the television in the background and I looked up to see her put a pound cake in the oven and start her alfredo sauce.
I was bookmarking the recipes as she moved on.
I'd been alone in the condo for almost a whole week now. I was used to it, of course, but that didn't mean it was easy. The longing for Edward deep in my chest grew and grew until I was unable to push it aside. Right about now, my heart cared a whole lot more about having Edward safely home rather than pound cake and answering emails.
Of course, life went on and I forced myself to think about work and cake flour for a little longer until Edward's plane would land at SFO.
One more hour.
Jake sighed heavily from my feet and I peered over my laptop screen at his face. The hair that stood up in place of his eyebrows swiveled so that he was looking at me.
"You miss him too, don't you?"
His tail wagged in recognition and I scratched behind his ears.
Eventually the show ended and I put on another. I had nearly planned out my entire week of food. Edward went away and I became an over-planner. Who would have thought? Either way, my friends were well fed and I had plenty of hospitality wine to keep me company during long road trips.
Like this one.
I fell back on the sofa with an exasperated huff.
Forty-five more minutes.
The Giants' latest road trip had been semi successful, although not as much as the team would have liked. The boys took one of the two series they played, and although it didn't change their current standing in the league, the team was in a good place. I felt like a complete jerk that I had to read these facts in the paper. I'd missed nearly all of Edward's games over the past few days, specifically the three most recent ones.
Friday I was working late, Saturday I was at a show with Alice and today I was having lunch with Angela, across the bay.
I hadn't even seen his face in three days.
When I thought about that fact, I felt like I should be getting the shakes. Like I was being deprived of an addictive drug - Edward's face. You get the best high when you use your eyes but touch is pretty good too.
I sighed again and looked at the clock on my phone.
Thirty-six more minutes.
The key started jiggling in the lock and I sat up. Jake bounded off the couch and raced to the door. His little claws clattered over the concrete floors and he paced in front of the door, tail wagging madly.
At last, the door opened and I let out a huge sigh of relief.
Edward was home.
He bent down at once to ruffle the fur on Jake's head and I took the time to turn off the TV and make my way to the door. "You're earl–" I stopped in my tracks as he stood up again. Jake pranced around his ankles.
"Hey babe," he said with a sigh, reaching for me. I arched my back away from him as he wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me to him. Our hips came together and I was practically doubled over backwards to escape the mass that was…his face.
"What did you do?" I asked, sounding scandalized.
Edward furrowed his eyebrows and shifted his eyes around the apartment. "I don't know, what did I do?"
I couldn't answer. I was still transfixed.
He brushed it aside and leaned close for a kiss, eyes half closed. "I missed you so much."
I leaned back more and pushed out of his arms. "Nope."
Anger flashed over his face. "What is your problem?" He took a step towards me and I took another back.
"I said nope. Back it up."
Now he looked hurt. My heart broke a little. But only a little.
This was serious!
I lifted a finger and pointed right at his face. "That."
Now annoyance. "What do you mean 'that,' you're pointing at me!"
I swallowed. I was going to have to say it. He'd committed the ultimate sin. It was one of my few deal breakers. "Your…your…beard…thing."
As soon as I said it, the images flooded in my brain. His face, which had been deliciously smooth with all the right angles when he'd left, was now covered in coarse, bronze hair from his chin to his ears. It was still relatively short but it was a whole hell of a lot more than a five o'clock shadow. The edge of his beard, which I had plenty of experience tracing with my fingers when it was mere stubble, was filled in and a part of me mourned the loss of his beautiful face.
Edward's concern, anger and annoyance disappeared instantly, replaced by a huge shit-eating grin. He cocked an eyebrow and ran his fingers through the copper mess that was eating away at his perfect face.
"Oh, you mean my good luck beard?"
He sounded proud. Proud! I felt pissed. I must have looked pissed otherwise he wouldn't be teasing me this way.
Edward shrugged and took a smug step towards me, looping his arm tightly around my waist before I could get away. He pulled me to his chest and I put my hands against him to brace myself.
Mmm… He was warm and smelled good. So good.
No! Solidarity! Stay strong!
Vote no for beards.
"You see," he said in a low voice, lips against my ear. His whiskers brushed against my cheek and I shivered. "If you'd actually watched the games while I was away, you would know how much this beard has turned my season around."
"Turned my luck around."
"I certainly hope you don't intend to have the same 'luck' here, with that on your face."
Edward leaned back and met my eyes, brows lowered. "What do you mean?"
Aha, the concern was back.
"That beard's not getting close to me."
He leaned closer again, jutting his chin out petulantly. "I'm closer."
I tried to push out of his arms again but he held me steady. "Ew, stop!"
"Why can't I get close to you?"
He was pouting, but I couldn't see his bottom lip as clearly BECAUSE OF THAT THING ON HIS FACE.
"Because it's pokey."
Edward laughed. My favorite kind of laugh.
"No it's not."
No, it wasn't.
He rolled his eyes. "Because I spent the whole game face first in the dirt. I forgot."
At this Edward's jaw dropped open and he looked genuinely offended. He released me from his arms and planted both hands on his hips. "Give me a break!"
"I'm just saying that if you need that on your face to succeed in baseball, you won't be succeeding at home with me."
Edward bit his tongue and tried to push away his smile. "So you're saying it's either you or the beard?"
I was having trouble figuring out whether this was real or a game. I hated the beard but I wasn't really mad. Kind of, but not really.
I just despised beards and he had to respect that.
"And if I pick the beard?" His face was challenging me now, lit up by a smug smirk and sparkling green eyes. My breath caught in my throat. How did he do that?
Stop it. Game face. This was a challenge. Bella versus the beard. Winner takes all.
"Then I sleep in the ugliest pajamas you've ever seen for the rest of your life and–"
He snorted. "Right, because you have ugly pajamas."
He pursed his lips. "You're serious."
"Do I joke about beards?"
"I don't know, do you? How am I supposed to know this?"
"I don't joke about beards."
Edward tapped his chin with his finger. I noted the contrast of the copper and the ivory of his skin. It wasn't…unattractive.
I crossed my arms over my chest. "So it's ugly pajamas and no sex until you shave."
"Fine. Let's do this but you should know," he said, leaning close again, his breath fanning over my face and making my eyelids flutter. "I intend to win. I will break you and this beard is lucky."
"You think I'm that easy?"
"I know so."
Visions of the shower in Chicago, my doorway at 2am and forgotten groceries in the aisle flashed over my eyes and I scowled at him. "I've matured."
He didn't respond, he merely held out his hand. I took it and we shook firmly, before he slid his fingers up around my wrist and yanked me to him. I slipped my arms around him as a habit and didn't realize what I was doing until he pressed his glorious, soft, warm lips over my own.
Glorious. So, so glorious.
Our kiss shocked me into remembering that Edward had been gone for a week. My muscles started to relax I his arms. For a moment I considered throwing in the towel. It had been a very long week.
Then I felt the tickling and snatched the towel right back.
No way I'm losing to a beard.
A/N: So…this happened. One weekend, a random idea and my stream of consciousness. There will be updates every day this week and I will post them in "real-time" according to the story. What do you guys think? Are you Team Edward or Team Bella? Team Beard or Team Sex?
I'm Team Sex. I hope you enjoy this ride, let me know what you think!
Next update: Monday 1:10pm PST