Thank you all for your patience. This chapter is a little shorter than normal; I decided to break it up into two chapters, otherwise I'd still be writing. :)

As always, my deepest gratitude to my talented, patient, and wise beta, WritingBabe, and my equally talented, eagle-eyed prereader, Isabeausink. Their contributions to this story can never be overestimated.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Bella opened her eyes to the sight of delectable broad shoulders. She and Edward had become separated while sleeping, and he was lying on his side, facing away from her.

Unable to resist, she gently traced one finger across his upper back and then down his spine. She laid her hand flat against his left shoulder blade, right on top of the angel's wing tattoo. Edward stirred, humming in approval. He lifted his head and turned slightly toward her.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you," she whispered, then felt silly about keeping her voice so low. It wasn't as if they had to worry about waking anyone else up.

"Don't be sorry." He rolled over to face her, smiling despite the sleep in his voice. "Can't think of any better way to open my eyes." He pulled her over so they were flush against each other, his chest warm and comfortable.

"What time is it?"

"Who cares?" Edward kissed slowly along her throat and her shoulder. Further down, he stirred insistently against her thigh.

A rattling noise, jarring and unwelcome, came from somewhere behind him. Edward's cell phone was vibrating on the nightstand. Bella recognized the ring tone as a song by The Police.

"Damn," he moaned into the crook of her neck. "That's work calling."

"You'd better answer it, then."

"I really don't want to…" He sucked softly at her skin, leaving a trail of raised goose bumps.

She nudged him reluctantly. "You should. It could be important."

"That's what they always say." He groaned, then sat up and grabbed the phone. "Cullen."

He was silent for a few moments. Bella heard the caller's voice through the phone, loud enough to distinguish the New York accent but not clear enough to figure out what he was saying.

Edward rubbed his hand across his face in deep annoyance. "Does it have to be today? I'll be back on Wednesday."

There was more conversation from the other man on the line – clearly also a cop – but even louder now. It seemed he was telling Edward that whatever it was couldn't wait.

"All right, I'll take care of it. Be there as soon as I can." He ended the call and tossed the phone back on the nightstand.

"Is everything okay?"

Edward flopped back on the bed and stared at the ceiling. "Yeah…no. I mean, it's nothing serious, especially not as far as I'm concerned. I have to turn in some paperwork about my arrest reports. The precinct has to get all the stats to headquarters next week, and they need the info now. Or so they say." He sighed. "I should've finished it before I left work on Friday, but no, I had to put it off."

"It's only…" Bella looked at the clock. "Nine o'clock. We have the whole day ahead of us."

Edward pressed his lips together in silent annoyance. His job had just casually interrupted one of the best days (and nights) he'd had in recent memory. He wanted many easy mornings with Bella, but he knew they'd be infrequent because of their work schedules.

Another few minutes isn't going to hurt, Sarge. You'd do the same if you were me.

"I just wanted to have this time with you and get out of bed whenever we want, instead of when we have to," he finally replied.

Bella ran her hands softly through his hair, trying to ease the frustration that was tight across his face. "It's no problem. I can shower and get dressed while you're at work and we can have a later breakfast. Don't worry," she teased him. "I'll be here when you get back.

"Yeah, but not like this." He slid his hand around and cupped her ass to emphasize his point.

Bella laughed, captivated by his forthrightness and humor, especially when they conveyed his desire for her. "It's not like you'll never see me naked again."

"You wouldn't lie to a policeman, would you?" He sat up and swung his legs off the bed in one fluid motion. "I'm going to jump in the shower. Why don't you sleep some more?"

"Sure. Sounds good." As is the view. Bella watched as Edward's nude form left the room, his muscles shifting smoothly with his steps. For a moment, she thought about joining him. It was very tempting; but she knew it would only delay his trip to work and ultimately, his return home.

She dozed lightly, soothed by the dull sounds of the water running in the bathroom. There was something about the domesticity of it, a kind of gentle familiarity that made it seem they'd already eased into a routine of their own. Like the dinner preparations the previous night, it showed how comfortable they were around each other. Bella could get used to simply enjoying this effortlessness instead of worrying about how she'd keep it going, or even what she would to say next.

She must have fallen asleep with those last pleasant thoughts because Edward's soft kiss on her cheek awoke her. He smelled of clean skin and shaving cream.

"Sorry to wake you," he said, smiling at her eye level. "I made a pot of coffee. It'll keep for awhile if you want to stay in bed."

She yawned, then covered her mouth so she didn't blast him with morning breath. "Thanks. Coffee sounds good. I think I'll get up and shower so I'm ready when you're back."

"Whatever you want, baby." He kissed her again. "I fed Mookie, so don't let him sucker you into thinking he's starving. He'll try it, no doubt."

"Thanks for the head's up."

Once Bella heard the front door lock click in place, she turned on her back, staring at the ceiling. She was disappointed that Edward had to leave, but she wouldn't think of making a big deal out of it, for his sake. She could tell he had no choice.

Bella ran her hands over his side of the bed, which was cool now after the absence of his body for almost an hour. His scent was all over, though, and she grabbed his pillow, clutching it to her stomach and inhaling deeply. She wished it was Edward instead of cloth and feathers; wished that their blossoming morning interlude hadn't been interrupted by a supervisor who knew Edward was off for the day. But she had no right to complain. Life with her dad had taught her that a policeman never really went off duty. Life with her mother had showed her how frustrating that could be, and she was feeling it first-hand now.

Rather than getting out of bed just yet, she closed her eyes and relived the previous night. She played it back like a movie, though not in a linear fashion – more like a highlight reel, with her favorite moments paused for long-lasting enjoyment.

There were many of them. It was their first time together, but it was unquestionably the best sex of her life, capping anything she'd had with previous boyfriends. There'd been a short but intense introductory period with Edward; instead of getting-to-know-you, it was more like ah-here-you-finally-are. She'd already known that Edward recognized her; he'd said as much, and though she felt the same toward him, she had found it difficult to express it even with his reassurances, because she was often afraid she'd say it wrong. Last night was about communicating without words, and she had an odd certainty that she'd gotten it right - odd in the sense that it wasn't common for her.

He knew her body, and while that could have come from having more experience with women than she had with men, she somehow doubted it. He intuited how to make love to her just like he knew what to say to her, or what was on her mind. It was easy; his ways of getting to know her physically were as assured as anything else about him, and her own efforts were also easy, not awkward. And apparently, successful.

Bella softly smoothed her fingertips over her stomach and breasts, wishing it were Edward's hands dancing along her skin instead of her own. She smiled all over as her body relaxed, sinking deeper into every fresh memory, a soft moan or giggle escaping her throat now and then.

She felt light and happy. She felt cherished.

She felt like she fit perfectly in this new relationship, as if there was very little she had to calibrate when it came to Edward. Somewhere, there was surely something lying in wait that would trip them up, but she already felt there would be enough trust in reserve to get her through it. To get them through it.

Right then, something landed on her legs with a soft but precise hit, startling her out of her reverie. She lifted her head and saw Mookie walking up her legs until he stood on her stomach. Amused, she watched as he circled a few times, purring louder with each pass, before he lay down, tucking his tail around his head.

"Hey, you," she said, scratching around his ears. "Guess it's just us for now."

Sleeping with a cat on her stomach was cozier than she would have imagined. Bella dozed for another half hour, and then woke up, startled to see it was almost 10:30. She gently dislodged a very displeased Mookie so she could shower and get dressed before Edward returned.

The bathroom had lost all the humidity from Edward's shower but still smelled faintly like his soap. Bella found a towel in a narrow linen closet and pulled out the small travel bottles of shampoo and conditioner she'd brought. Pulling back the shower curtain, she did a quick visual assessment of the tub and stall, noting with satisfaction that it was clean. Did he scrub it out before she came, maybe as part of cleaning the entire apartment? Bella could imagine him frantically trying to get the place in shape after he'd let it deteriorate, like a man cave, for months.

Or maybe he was neat. Each time she'd walked into his kitchen, she'd been impressed by its general lack of grossness. Maybe he cleaned regularly because he liked things orderly and sparkly. That could cause trouble, depending on how much he could tolerate of Bella's domestic deficiencies. She usually found something better to do than clean.

A small bar of Ivory soap sat on a rack that hung off the shower head. It looked unused. Edward must have put it there for her; it was right next to a worn-down nub of unrecognizable brown soap with a spicy scent. She smiled at his thoughtfulness.

The shower rack had several bottles with men's shampoo and toiletries of different kinds. No Axe, though. That might have been a deal breaker.

She quickly shampooed her hair, then added the conditioner, combing through the strands with her fingertips. Edward would probably be back soon and had mentioned going out for breakfast, so she wanted to be ready when he returned. In minutes she finished the shower, fumbled for the towel she'd left too far out of her reach, and dried off.

Bella was pouring a second cup of coffee and toasting some leftover bread from last night when she heard his keys jangling as he opened the door. "Bella?" he called out. "You still here?"

"In the kitchen," she called back. Edward appeared in the doorway, his grin flashing larger when he saw her.


"Hey." He carefully took the full mug out of her hand and put it on the counter. Wrapping his arms around her waist, Edward drew her in for a kiss. With a deep breath, his chest pressed against hers, his exhale coming out as a sigh. Edward's lips were warm and firm, a welcome crush that grew heated as their mouths opened to deepen the kiss.

"Mmmm," Bella murmured involuntarily. So good. Her eyes still closed, she felt Edward's forehead resting on hers. "Did you finish everything you needed to do at the station?"

"Yeah, thank God." He moved his hands up idly and down her back. "Let's go out for breakfast." He looked at his watch. "Well, brunch. They serve breakfast until one, and we still have plenty of time."

"Okay," Bella said, draining the rest of her coffee. "Can we walk there?"

"Yeah, there's a really good café a few blocks away."

She put her plate and mug in the sink. "Let me wash these and then we can head out."

Edward waved his hand dismissively. "Leave it. I'll take care of it later. I'm starving."

Okay. Maybe not obsessive-neat after all.

They walked a couple of blocks away from his apartment to Greenpoint's main business district. The coffee shop was small, and the exact kind of place Bella would have frequented for coffee if she'd known it existed. Benches lined the wall, cozy with throw pillows; tables and chairs were placed in front of them. In the back were several couches and a large table. A couple of bookshelves held paperbacks, magazines and newspapers for reading while dining.

After they'd ordered – a pork roll, egg and cheese sandwich for her, and an enormous breakfast burrito with potatoes for Edward – they took a comfortable table at the front of the shop.

"What time does the concert start tonight?" Bella asked, pushing her purse aside.

"Not until 7. We have lots of time. We could still head over to Governor's Island early enough to walk around."

The island was a former military outpost that was made into a park and hosted a number of cultural and arts activities. It was located in New York Harbor, near the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Bella hadn't seen it yet, so it was another first for her with Edward.

A harried-looking waitress dropped their plates off in front of them. "So, you know how work's been going for me, especially this morning," Edward said, his lips curling up in sarcastic complement to his words. "What about you? How are things at the foundation?" He cut into the burrito with the knife and fork but glanced up at Bella, waiting for her response.

"They're going really well." She cut the sandwich in half in a futile effort to keep it all within the Kaiser roll, but the eggs slipped out anyway. Edward tried not to laugh. He wanted to tell her how cute she was, at war with her sandwich, but he suspected that would make her feel even less dignified than she looked right now.

"The big health initiative in the Dakotas takes up almost all of my work day, so I'm glad I don't have any other major programs to deal with right now." She gave up and sliced off the egg that was hanging outside the sandwich, corralling it with her fork. "I have to make sure all the parts are coming together on schedule. Really, a lot of it is making sure people are doing what they're supposed to be doing, and doing it on time."

He nodded. "You went to graduate school for administration, right?"

"Yes. Did my time at Penn."

"Did you like it?"

"It was fine as far as torture goes," she said with a chuckle.

"That bad? I can't see you putting up with it if it was a waste of time."

"No, you're right. It was just really rough. It was a lot of hard work."

Edward shrugged. "If it was that easy, it probably wouldn't have been worth it, right?" He finished the last of his potatoes.

"You have a point. I learned a lot. Some of it was about discipline and applying myself. And maybe I wanted to prove I could do it," she said, musing. Edward glanced up at the way her voice dropped off at those words. "Besides, I met Angela at Penn, so that alone probably made it worthwhile."

"Didn't you say you had a boyfriend while you were there?" He watched her over the rim of his mug as he took a sip of coffee.

"Yes, I did. I dated a guy for almost all my time there."

"Tell me about him."

"You want to hear about my ex?" Bella laughed.

"Of course I do. I want to know everything he did wrong so I can do the exact opposite."

She gave him a half-lidded smile. "You already are," she whispered.

He leaned in. "You kill me," he whispered back, tilting his head to steal a kiss.

"His name was...well, is, Peter," she said.

"Peter? Really?"

"Yes. Why?" she asked, puzzled.

"I almost arrested a guy named Peter last week."

"For what?"

"He was pretty hung over, and very under-dressed for the Upper East Side."

"Describe 'under-dressed.' "

"A Fourth of July jacket that looked like it was made of leftover sequins; an Uncle-Sam style hat, and sneakers. Oh, and a pair of underwear. That was it."

"That doesn't sound like the Peter I knew," Bella said, laughing. "What did you do?"

"I named him Captain America. And then one of the other cops brought a car around and we took him home."

"You can do that?" Bella asked, her eyebrows raised.

"Funny, he asked me the same exact question. You sure you don't know him?" Edward teased. "Yeah, we can take someone home if we have to. I didn't think he'd hurt anyone except himself, but we had to get him off the streets. I didn't want to arrest him. Never even said anything about it to any of my superiors, which is just as well." He broke off a piece of a scone and popped it in his mouth.

Bella looked puzzled. "Why would they care? I'd think they'd prefer to not fill up the jail with misdemeanors, never mind having to deal with all that paperwork."

"Paperwork. Bingo." Edward drank some juice. "They actually do want us to arrest more people. It boosts the numbers, makes it look like we're getting crime off the streets."

"Is that why your desk sergeant insisted you come in this morning?"


She was silent for a moment, thinking about her father's job in the same vocation a continent away. Bella never really asked him about that part of police work. As far as she knew, he arrested anyone who deserved it and let go anyone who didn't. She supposed if there was any other similarity between these two law officers in her life, it was that they had the wisdom to make the right judgment call.

"Is it always like that?" she asked. "That kind of pressure, I mean."

Edward shrugged. "It has been since the terrorist attacks. I joined the force after 2001, so these procedures are all I've ever known. I hear a lot of other guys – the older ones - complain about it, though. They feel like it doesn't give them the chance to really be community cops any more. If people think the police are always gonna arrest them, they're more likely to avoid us, or run, or worse."

Bella blanched at what "worse" could mean. Edward reached for a napkin and caught sight of her wide, anxious eyes. "Listen, don't worry about it," he said, trying to brush off his own words. "Really, the shittiest thing about all of this is being interrupted when I'm with you. It's probably why it hasn't bothered me until now."

"I don't think I've ever heard my dad say anything like that," she said slowly. "But he usually didn't talk to me about work, unless it was to tell me something that would teach me a lesson."

"Police work can be good for that," Edward replied, thinking of Bella with her father, whatever he looked like: a little girl with a man in uniform, listening and showing the kind of attention that a young child could muster when she felt she was her father's entire world. The picture appealed to him immensely. "But your dad must have a ton of paper to deal with, too. You said he's the chief, right?"

"Yes. He's been the chief for a long time."

"How big is the force?"

"I think it's a total of about four or five guys."

"Five? I guess that's all you need when the biggest crime is knocking over somebody's lawn gnome."

Bella made a face at him. "Don't you ever worry about the danger?"

"What danger?" he said offhandedly.

She tapped her chin. "Oh, possibly the kind that comes from drug dealing, and the accompanying use of guns. Maybe breaking into an apartment where there's a domestic disturbance and getting beaned in the head by a cast-iron frying pan. Or worse."

"Bella," he said, half laughing and half dismissive. "They train us on how to watch out for all that. It's not like I'm going into any situation without thinking that it could be really serious."

"You never know, though," she said faintly, the weight of her words sinking into her as she said them. "You never know what will happen when you knock on a door or go around a corner."

"Anyone can say that," he pointed out. "Besides, we don't dwell on it. You just put it out of your head and do your job. Otherwise, you'll drive yourself crazy."

She knew he was right, but it didn't erase the reality of police work, especially in New York. Bella tried to not think about what he faced every day, because as he said, she'd lose her mind if she dwelled on it for too long. Spouses of police officers went through it all the time – her mother did – and they learned to live with it.

Bella watched as his hands encircled his coffee mug, his long fingers overlapping along the front of the ceramic. They could provide the gentlest of touches, as when he took her hand or slipped them across her skin. They could be relentless in passion, as when he'd explored her last night, bringing her the greatest physical pleasure she'd known. She tried to imagine them being rough, businesslike or angry, perhaps when he was arresting someone or breaking up a fight. It was hard to reconcile the two Edwards, but she knew they had to coexist.

"Hey. C'mon," he said, nudging her arm on the table. "Don't be so serious. We're gonna have fun today, right?" He cupped her face, drawing his thumb across the apple of her cheek. "You think I'd be careless? Give me more credit than that. Especially now that I have you," he said, his voice dropping low on his last words.

She couldn't resist him. Would that ever become a problem? She couldn't bring herself to care. Tilting her head into his caress, she smiled back at him.

"At least you don't have any concerns about me. The worst that'll happen is that I'll get buried in paper in my office," she said wryly.

"Oh, I don't know. I've got my worries," he said, pulling his wallet out of his pants.

"Like what?"

"There are a few wolves that like to circle around your cubicle. I met one."

Bella snorted and shook her head as they stood up. Edward left a five-dollar tip on the table and put his arm around her waist. "You think I haven't seen how he looks at you?"

"Who, Newton? As if he'd be someone you'd have to be concerned about," she said, laughing at the thought.

"Well," he said, backtracking a bit, "maybe I'm not that worried. He bugs me, though."

"He bugs me, too, which is exactly why you shouldn't worry."

Edward put his arm around her shoulders. "I'll take your word for it.'

"I could never respect a man who can't play basketball," she said dramatically.

"He does suck at that. In a big way."

Bella laughed again. "I will never forget that court game. You really let him off easy, but he definitely made a fool out of himself." She shook her head and looked up at Edward, but he didn't reply. His smile had slipped away and he was staring straight ahead, his face a blank palette she couldn't read.

She followed his line of sight and it landed on a blonde woman who was near the corner, walking in their direction. From this short distance, it was easy to see she was tall, beautiful, and as completely focused on Edward as he was on her, until her blue gaze shifted to Bella and grew cooler.

By now, Bella and Edward had slowed their pace and were face to face with the woman. Frowning, Bella glanced back and forth, waiting for Edward to give her some indication of who this was. Some instinct said enemy, though of hers or Edward's, she wasn't sure. He certainly wasn't his usual friendly self.

"Edward!" the woman exclaimed, all smiles and faux-warmth. "How good to see you. It's been a long time." Her Eastern European inflection set off a few more warning flares, and awareness gradually dawned on Bella.

"Hey, Tanya," Edward said cordially. The woman leaned in, expecting a kiss, and Edward quickly grazed her cheek.

"So, how have you been? How is your family?" She glanced between the two of them, and her smile faltered a bit as she took in Bella, who was pulled tightly to Edward's side.

"They're fine. Doing really well." Both women waited expectantly for Edward to introduce them, Tanya keeping her gaze on his face and Bella unable to move hers away from Tanya.

She's gorgeous, Bella thought with a shiver.

"This is my girlfriend, Isabella Swan. Bella," he corrected, looking away from Tanya and down at her. Edward smiled encouragingly. "Bella, this is Tanya Kochany."

"It's very nice to meet you," Tanya said politely, her perfect eyebrows raised and her lips glossed to a silvery sheen that even frosted her tone. Her hair was a very long honey blonde that spilled over the front of her tightly-packed tank top. Bella suddenly felt overwhelmed by random curves, legs and breasts, as if she'd been thrown into a Brooklyn version of a Picasso painting.

But she gamely extended her hand and said, "It's nice to meet you too, Tanya." The ex touched her fingertips to Bella's and shook weakly.

"Are you going on vacation this year?" Tanya said suddenly, turning to Edward again.

"Um, no. Didn't make any plans," he said, his face and voice tightening.

"Oh," she said, looking almost crestfallen – over what, Bella couldn't imagine. "Irina and I were thinking of finally going to Maine. You know we've been talking about it for years." Her lips bowed with the Polish accent that echoed off of each word.

"Oh, yeah. You'll have a great time." Dead air for a few seconds. "I just decided to stay around here this summer." He squeezed Bella even closer.

Tanya smiled back in response – more like a defensive smirk, really. Bella froze the expression on her own face, trying desperately to be polite. Back off, blondie.

"That's really too bad. I know you don't have much vacation time, and I do remember how you love to travel," Tanya added, trying to convey sympathy by cocking her head.

I didn't know that about him. Bella fretted for a moment. Yet. I didn't know that yet. So what? She and Edward had only known each other a short time; it hadn't come up. Tanya was trying to get under her skin, Bella quickly realized – and she was letting it happen

Yeah, we didn't exactly talk travel when he was moaning through his second orgasm last night. We did show each other a whole new world, though. Bella's shoulders relaxed and her smile grew more genuine. Take that, Ice Queen.

"Maine will be beautiful in the summer. I hope you and your sister have a lovely time," Bella said as graciously as possible.

Tanya's eyes widened with surprise or suspicion, or maybe both. "I hope so. Thanks," she said, a little too tightly. "I have to go. Lots to do today." She began walking away then turned to wave at Edward with her fingertips. "Say hello to your parents for me!"

"Sure. Bye, Tanya." By the time Edward had turned and started walking off with Bella in the opposite direction, the smile had left his face. He blew his breath out in a big gust.

It wasn't something he wanted to happen, but he should have expected that it would. He and Tanya had forged an awkward peace since the break-up. What made their encounters thorny were Tanya's stubborn efforts to win him back. He'd had to make up excuses to extract himself more than once; she always tried to prolong the conversations when they bumped into each other. Maybe seeing him with Bella would help put a stop to that.

Might not help Bella, though. He swiftly realized that she hadn't said a word since Tanya walked off.

"Hey." Edward nudged her, but she remained quiet. He stopped walking and pulled her back with him, grabbing her shoulders. "Hey. Are you okay?"

"I guess I'm a little stunned. I wasn't expecting to run into your girlfriend."

"Ex-girlfriend," he reminded her firmly. "We broke up a year ago. In fact, I broke up with her."

"I know," Bella confessed.

"You do? How?" Edward looked confused. "I don't think we talked about it, did we?"

"No. Alice told me. Well," Bella amended, "I…kind of asked her. She said something about Tanya when we were at your parents' party. I asked her a few questions." She watched Edward's reaction for any signs of anger or annoyance, but he just shrugged his shoulders.

"Good, 'cause I thought I was losing my mind. I was pretty sure I never said anything." They turned and started walking again. "So you and Alice were talking about me and Tanya?"

"Yeah. A little," Bella admitted. It felt good to get this off her chest even though now, after last night, she realized she might have blown it out of proportion. Maybe Tanya did her a favor by giving her this opportunity to clear the air.

"What did Alice say?"

"Just that you'd broken up with her the year before." She kept private Alice's assessment of Edward's happiness or Tanya's beauty.

"That's true. We haven't been together in a long time. Not surprising we'd see her. She lives in the neighborhood and works at her parents' restaurant. It's right around here."

Which means they probably run into each other pretty often. Bella felt unsettled at the thought.

She started pinging back and forth between the satisfaction of handling the situation well enough and the aching insecurity of knowing that Tanya was a part of Edward's past, possibly a significant part. Would Tanya try to wedge her way back in? She seemed like the type who'd do it for sport now that Edward was with Bella. The realization that he and Tanya had had more time together burned a little. Bella had had only a few weeks to begin building memories with Edward.

"Did you take her to the museum?" In the grand scheme of things, it wasn't the biggest question, but to Bella, it was most important right now.

"What, you mean MoMA?"

"Yeah." There was something almost like hurt in her eyes. Irrationally, she wanted it to be special, and theirs alone. But Edward knew he had to tell her the truth.

"I did. We went a few times." He drew her closer, his voice growing lower with intention. "She did it for me, but I know she didn't like it much. Nothing against her; it's just not her thing. But she didn't get it. Not like you do." And that, too, was the truth. He conveyed it with his eyes and with a quick tightening of his arms around her.

"We need to go back there," he added, brushing a wisp of hair that stuck to her forehead in the humidity. A trip to the museum would be good to seal his words.

"Okay," she nodded, feeling better. "There's a lot there we haven't seen."

"Definitely. Hey, you're off tomorrow, right?"


"Good. I thought I heard you say you have a four-day weekend. Me, too." For a moment, Bella thought he'd book the date at the museum for tomorrow, but he went one better. "Stay with me again tonight. The concert will be over late. Let's just go back to my apartment when it's done."

Her face softened in the exact way he'd been hoping for. "You want me with you again tonight?"

"Hell, yeah. With any luck, my fucking boss won't call in the morning this time."

"Yes. Yes, I'd love to." She hugged him. "I should probably go back to my apartment and get some more clothes."

Edward put his arm around her and steered them both in the direction of the subway station. "Let's go now. We have a lot of time."

Win win. He knew this was exactly what she needed to hear after the Tanya experience. And he'd wanted to ask her to stay another night anyway.

They'd get back to talking about her ex, too. He was curious – beyond curious, really, about anyone who'd let her get away. Idiot. Grad school doesn't always admit the brainiest.

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