S.M. owns all Twilighty type things, that lucky bitch. We're just playing with her characters in a way she'd most likely be shocked and appalled.

One shot written for Southern Fan Fiction Review, dedicated to the ridiculously beautiful and talented Leelan Oleander. Love you, bb!

Where There's Smoke

By Alice Sweetcheeks & Nikka Bella (Muse2MyMojo)

I had just settled underneath my cozy comforter and dozed off when I felt the bed dip beneath the weight of my orange Garfieldesque cat, Special K. Pulling the blanket over my head, I tried to fight him off as he was unusually lovey at the moment, bombarding me with his kamikaze style head bumps, his whiskers tickling my face. Eww, cat breath.

"Jesus, K, leave me be right now! Mama needs her sleep!"

I'd just moved into my brand new apartment and was exhausted from the ordeal. Ok, when I say brand new, I was pushing it a bit. It might have been brand new in the 19th century or possibly when Napoleon was ruling his area of Europe. Exaggeration? Maybe. The point was, I'd just graduated from UDub with a degree in English literature and it was the first place I'd ever had on my own as an adult. My last few places while in school had been with roommates.

Being that I had just graduated and had zero cash to my name, my first place wasn't spectacular to say the least, but it was my own place. I didn't have to deal with my old roommate Alec's boxer shorts left in the bathroom after he took a shower. No one hosted lame parties in this place like they had in my last place; with people trashing it and leaving the door open all the time in their drunken hazes, letting Special K out.

The ceiling leaked, as evidence by the huge water spot on the ceiling, which dripped periodically. Half the time the hot water wouldn't work and the heater was iffy at best. But it was my little place in the shitty area of Seattle past the industrial areas, the hookers, and the bars. If I stood on my tippy toes and leaned out the window, I could almost glimpse the space needle. Almost.

I pushed his purring, orange, fluffiness away and burrowed under the down comforter, closing my eyes. I drifted off to sleep, dreaming about the lead actor in the cheesy vampire movie series my best friend, Kate, had dragged me to four years ago, the night before I left Phoenix for college here in Seattle. I was just getting to my favorite part of the recurring dream when I heard the most awful sound.

It sounded unearthly, like a thousand Bieber fans had been forced into a small clothes dryer with a lock of his hair and were fighting to the death. It was worse than my mom's sister, Aunt Maude, who sounded like Carol Channing when she'd sing Christmas carols after she'd had one too many eggnogs. It sounded like Jessica Fucking Stanley's hyena laugh, the reigning uberbitchqueen of my high school years who'd tortured me relentlessly.

Poking my head out of my cover cocoon, I scanned the room in the faint darkness. Nope, none of the above - no Bieber, no Aunt Maude, no Skanky Stanley - thank you, Jesus.

It was Special K yowling his displeasure at finding himself alone with me in our rattrap of an apartment. Being that it was a cramped one bedroom, he didn't have hallways or a basement or a kitchen to roam at will like he had before.

"Special K! Knock it off, please! I know you hate this place, but you'll get used to it!" He poked his head out from behind the dresser long enough to shoot me the most deathly of all kitty glares. His eyes slightly scrunched and an air of distaste surrounding him, he leapt out from behind the dresser and landed in front of the bedroom door. He began to act like he was possessed, mewing a strange high pitched mew and pacing frantically. He would pause momentarily and look at me expectantly only to start it up again. I didn't know what had gotten into him, but enough was enough!

Begrudgingly, I threw off the covers, switched my small bedside lamp on, and dragged my ass out of bed. Stumbling in my sleep-filled haze to the bedroom door, I reached for the doorknob, and grabbed it in preparation to twist it, but immediately removed my hand and screamed in pain. Holy hell, the knob was hot. Why in the world would it be hot? Pieces started falling together in my slow, sleepy, haze filled mind and I realized, Special K freaking out, hot doorknob, holy shit is that smoke coming in from under the door? There was a fire in my apartment!

I began to pace frantically, not knowing what to do, the room now quickly filling up with gray and ominous smoke seeping in from the crack under the door. I grabbed a pile of clothes from the top of my hamper and stuffed them under the door to buy myself some time, although depending on how close the fire was, it might not buy me anything.

I started to hyperventilate, then realized panicking was the worst thing I could do. Call 911? Yes, that's what you do in an emergency. I went to the nightstand to grab my phone and it wasn't there. Where the fuck did it go? I tried to stay calm, but the panic was quickly overcoming me, making my heart race and my head spin. Madly, I searched for my phone. I tossed the comforter off the bed and into the corner, no phone. I yanked out the drawer in my nightstand and dumped all its contents on the floor, still nothing. I got down on my hands and knees and peered underneath my bed, praying it would be there, it wasn't! Where the fuck was my phone?

I remembered I had fallen asleep on the couch and drug myself to bed a few hours later. My phone was most likely residing in its favorite hiding place between the couch cushions; it was official, I was royally screwed.

Terror overwhelmed me and I felt the room begin to spin. I grabbed onto the metal balls that decorated the ends of my bedpost to steady myself. This is not how I pictured my death; I had to get out, I just had to. The window! I should open the window! What the hell is wrong with me? I walked over to the window and tried to open it, but it appeared tonight was my Lady Luck's night off. The window was stuck and wouldn't budge, no matter what. The building was old and the windows were painted shut. SHIT, SHIT, SHIT!

The crazy narration from Fight Club popped into my head - This is Bella's fiery demise - and I got moving.

The clothes I crammed under the door to hold out the smoke weren't doing jack shit anymore and I was hacking incessantly, inhaling the smoke that was quickly filling the room and smothering several of my senses. I needed to find something to break the window open. I tried to feel my way around the blackened haze of my bedroom as I searched for something, anything that would work. My hand rested on something small and hard. I had no idea what it was, but it might work.

Just then, a rush of heat burst through the space where the door used to be and penetrated the entire room. The sudden onset of scalding air stung my skin, the pain deep and intense and I swear my blood felt like it was near boiling. The crackling and sizzling sound of the fire as it destroyed what meager possessions I owned, and the encroaching inferno was getting closer every second.

I took a deep breath out of habit, in an effort to calm and center myself that best I could. It was a horrible idea as I inhaled a lungful of smoke, causing me to hack and shudder with a violent cough that wracked my entire body and doubled me over. In the process of my body's reaction to the rejection of the offensive smoke, my forehead forcefully hit the same small, hard object that was to be my savior. I coughed violently and fell to the ground, holding my head and felt the blinding pain and the effects of the rampant smoke and excessive fear overcome me. That was the last thing I remembered before waking up in what I thought must be heaven.

Opening my eyes, my surroundings were hazy, my eyes red and irritated from the fire and smoke. Slowly, my vision cleared and I was looking at the face of the most beautiful angel there had to have ever been. This angel had me cradled in his arms, holding my body firmly to his. Despite my confusion, I had never felt so safe or at home in my life. Taking in each of his features, I was in awe of his beauty and perfection, even his imperfections on him were perfect. The slight bump at the top of his nose, the crooked slant of his mouth, the faint scar residing near his lower lip, his rugged and chiseled jaw, and the most dazzling emerald eyes I had ever seen.

I gaped at the beauty that I was beholding, and my mouth acted without first consulting my brain. I exclaimed, "Holy shit! You are fucking beautiful. Are you God or an angel?"

God's, the Angel's, or whatever he was, eyes met mine. His look was one of concern, but an amused smile played across his face. "Oh good, you're conscious. I was really worried about you. By the way, the name is Edward, but feel free to call me God if you like," he said with a grin.

It was then that I noticed his attire, the bulky yellowish canvas suit with black smudges covering it, the big clunky helmet, and the fact he was carrying me while scaling a ladder. Oh fuck! He's not God. He's a fireman! Thank god my face was blackened from the smoke and already red from the heat so he could not see my incredibly bright blush. I hid my face in his chest and heard the low rumble of a small laugh as he finished the last few steps of the descent. Jumping down lithely while still holding me tight, he hit the ground with a grunt.

Once he did, I was quickly whisked out of his arms placed on a gurney and hooked up to oxygen by the paramedics. They kept shouting a million inane questions at me. I heard the words, but I couldn't comprehend what was being said, my mind and eyes glued to the magnificent man that had rescued me. I could do nothing, not speak, not blink, and not move. All I could do was stare into the deep green eyes. I overheard the words of two paramedics speaking over me, the word catatonic jumping out at me as they spoke.

Catatonic, cat, K! Where was K? They had to get him out! Grabbing my God-like firefighter by the metal hooks on the front of his jacket, I pulled him close and clumsily ripped the oxygen mask off my face. My voice came out weak and gravelly as I pleaded with him. "My cat! My cat is still in there! Please, you have to save him!" He turned around and shouted something I couldn't quite make out in all the commotion, and when he turned back around, there was Special K curled up in his arms. Damn. Had he charmed the fight out of my usually feisty cat too?

My fireman passed K to me and I nuzzled and cooed and acted like a complete imbecile once again. At that moment, I didn't care. K was safe, he was my everything, and in that moment that was all that mattered.

"We had to give him some oxygen, but luckily mouth to pussy wasn't required..." he stuttered and my eyes widened and jaw dropped. Did he just say "mouth to pussy?"

He continued on after clearing his throat. "We have someone who is going to take him to the animal shelter where the vet will check him out and they will hold him until you're feeling better."

Holy shit.

I was alive.

K was alive.

But I was homeless now.

I didn't have my purse, my phone...nothing.

In shock, I stared up at the building, feeling the tears roll down my cheeks.

"Are you ok, Miss?" My handsome firefighter was back, a concerned look on his face.

"I just moved here, I don't know anyone. Where am I supposed to go?"

"Well, first stop for you is the hospital to get checked out." He gently smiled.

"Yeah, but after that. I don't have anywhere else to go." Tears slid down my cheeks and his expression grew pained.

"The Red Cross always operates an emergency shelter, but I'm not too sure they take cats. " He slid his helmet off and ran his hand through his sweaty hair, sending it sticking up in all directions. It was a strange, fiery red that suited his profession, I thought.

Shaking my head, I tried to clear my mind. Stop thinking about the impossibly hot firefighter and start thinking about what you're going to do now, Bella. Where do we go?

"Impossibly hot, huh?" He grinned and his eyes crinkled up at the corners. GAH.

Mortified again, I felt my face heat. Note to self: Internal monologue isn't internal when you've inhaled this much smoke. Fuck.

"I'm sure something will come up." He looked down at his boots, shuffling them restlessly and I closed my eyes.

"This has to be a nightmare," I whispered.

I could hear him talking to the paramedic as they loaded me up, but I didn't have the strength to care.

Something brushed my hair off my forehead, and when I opened my eyes, my firefighter was gone.

The ride to the hospital was uneventful, and I answered the paramedics' questions with one word answers.

I felt so alone. I missed my sister Tanya, my mom and dad and I knew they'd welcome me back home without question.

But I didn't want to go home to the little town of Forks where I'd grown up. I wanted to prove to myself and everyone else that I could make it on my own.

Well, you're definitely on your own I thought to myself.

After the check up in the emergency room by a handsome, blonde doctor, I was pronounced alive but with a bit of smoke inhalation. Some breathing treatments, oxygen, and a pair of ill-fitting scrubs borrowed from the nurse's lounge later, left me sitting on the crinkly paper covered exam table wondering what to do next.

When the white curtain pulled back and a small woman with a dark pixie haircut and intense green eyes strode in with a paper bag with clothes spilling out the top, I cocked an eyebrow.

"You must be Bella! Edward was right; you are beautiful! I brought you some clothes. Hopefully they are the right size; he was a little vague on your description. My name's Alice, by the way. I stuck a piece of paper in the bag with my number on it if you need anything. I'm really sorry you lost your place and I'd stay and talk more, but I'm super late for work. I'll catch up with you later, Bella. Bye!"

My mouth dropped open and I stared in shock as she exited as quickly as she'd entered the small, curtained off area.

I quickly changed into a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt that fit me surprisingly well and slipped my feet into a brand new pair of ballet flats that still had stickers on them. Whoever this Alice was, she was a lifesaver.

When I yanked back the curtain, my jaw dropped again. Leaning against the wall. waiting for me was my firefighter in the flesh. The six feet of boots, jeans clad legs leading up to a flannel shirt tucked into the waistband, eyebrow cocked at my slow appraisal, firefighter. His sleeves were rolled up, exposing muscled but not overdone forearms, and his face was tired, though he smelled wonderfully freshly showered, his hair a shade darker then my hazy brain remembered from earlier. Holy I wanna slide down your fireman's pole, Batman.

His face broke out in a slow grin and I felt my face heat. Damn you not so internal monologue.

"Hi," I mumbled.

"Hi," he chuckled. "That whirlwind was my sister, Alice, by the way. I figured you'd need some clothes. You clean up good..." he trailed off.


"I never was formally introduced. Besides rudely pulling you out of bed and depositing you on the ambulance gurney, I kinda forgot to ask." He pushed his hair back and smiled shyly.

"Bella. Bella Swan."

"Edward Cullen. Nice to meet you, Bella Swan. I checked on your pussy by the way. It seemed to be happy once it got warmed up." His cheeks flushed adorably. "I mean your cat...not your pussy...cause I wouldn't know...god, I need to stop talking right now."

I smiled. I think my crush on him grew at his awkward word mangling.

"Well, thanks for looking out for my pussy's wellbeing." Oh. My. God. Did I just say pussy? Who the hell says pussy to a total, albeit fucking gorgeous, stranger unless they're engaging in some dirty talk. Dirty talk...oh shit.

His eyes widened and he stood up straighter and I knew I'd said the words out loud. Ever since I'd inhaled enough smoke to bring down a large, African elephant, I'd lost the ability to keep my thoughts hidden.

"Ummm, yeah. Thanks for saving my life...and my cat's life. And for the clothes. I'd make you some brownies...but yeah, my kitchen kinda went up in flames along with everything else."

"Did you find somewhere to stay?"

I ducked my head. "Not yet. I think I'm still in the freaking out stage. But I'll find something, I'm sure. The nurse says there's a women's shelter that should be able to fit me in-"

"Stay with me."

My eyebrows shot skyward and I twisted the paper handles of the bag of clothing in my fingers.

"Yeah, I was trying to figure out a way to say it in a totally non creepy strange man you just met, kind of way," he said sheepishly. "Look, I know you're new in town and don't know anyone. I have a pull out couch that I could sleep on and you could take my bed just until you get back on your feet and find a place."

"Yeah, I don't know..." I trailed off. I mean, the man looked like he belonged on one of those cheesy firefighter of the month calendars Rose had gotten me last Christmas. He was funny and sweet and just as socially awkward as myself. But did I want to stay with someone I didn't even know?

"I work days on at a time with a couple of days off so you wouldn't even see me. All I ask for in return is you to walk my dog if you have the time. He's a puppy Alice just got me out of the blue for my birthday, and I don't have the time lately to give him the attention he needs. Come on, Bella." His voice turned persuasive and he gave me a look at warmed my heart.

"Sure. But do you like cats? Special K and I are kind of a package deal."

"Cats?" he rubbed at his face. "They make me sneeze, but I'll make an exception for you."

"I'll walk your puppy if you get to sneeze at my cat." I stuck my hand out and he shook hands with me, his palm rough but his touch gentle.


"My truck is out front."

He took the paper bag out of my fingers and placed his hand at the small of my back, gently guiding me out the front door. Just his palm splayed against my back sent warmth through my body. It'd been a while since I'd simply touched another human being like this; I'd been so focused on finishing school and getting moved.

I missed it.

When we got to his "truck", and I use the term loosely, I felt my eyebrows shoot upward to my hairline.

His truck was a fifty's era older fire truck... complete with ladders and a shiny brass bell that gleamed in the moonlight.

"You really know how to wow a lady, don't you?" I smirked, secretly wondering if the siren still worked.

"I know it's cheesy, but I lent a friend my actual truck, leaving me with this one. We use it for parades, fire safety expos and kids love it."

He opened the passenger side door for me and before I could clamber up into the high seat, he lifted me effortlessly, hands lingering on my waist. I hid my blush with my hair as he handed me the bag of clothes.


"No problem. It's a rare day when we get a beautiful woman in this truck."

I gaped at him. "Are you for real or am I still imagining this?"

"What do you mean?" he asked quizzically.

"I mean...look at you. And this truck, and you're letting me stay with you, and my cat, and fuck I'm rambling again. But seriously. Things like this just don't happen to me in my every day, boring little life." My voice trailed off in an embarrassed whisper.

He shrugged. "Things happen for a reason, I think. I'm sorry you lost all your stuff and had to go through that whole ordeal. But if you hadn't, I wouldn't have met you." He smiled shyly and I felt my heart back flip into my stomach.

He started up the truck with a flick of his wrist, the diesel engine rumbling the floorboards beneath our feet.


Maybe I was dreaming. But I didn't want to wake up yet.

When we pulled up in front of his apartment building, the comfortable silence, punctuated no doubt by my exhausted snores, was broken when he pulled my sleepy body from the cab and carried me...well...in a fireman's hold, up the stairs of the old, brick walk up.

I didn't remember much, but him sliding me into cool sheets, on a comfy bed, and the brush of something over my forehead then blessed blackness.

When I woke up, the sensation of being warm and cocooned in safety soothed my foggy head. Until I opened my eyes and was met by the sleeping face of Edward, my savior from the night before.

Startled, I scrambled backwards, almost falling off the side of the bed.

Holy shit.

I was in his bed, fully clothed, but he was next to me... had I done anything last night that I would regret? Frantically, I searched my brain.

Think, Bella... think.

A sleepy yawn behind me clued me in to the fact he was awake.

"Bella? You alright?"

"Ummm... yeah... I think."

"Why are you perched like a praying mantis on the edge of my bed?"

My face flushed and I pointed between us. "Ummm. Did we? You know? Your bed?"

"Oh. No. You were having a nightmare and you kept calling for me. The only way I could get you calmed down was climbing in with you and singing." He ran a hand over his face and yawned again. "I fell asleep, I'm sorry. I'm always wiped after a long rotation of shifts."

"Oh. Well, thanks for saving me again. I think that's becoming a trend around here." I smiled and watched a pink hue creep up his neck until his cheeks were flushed. "What?"

"I would happily save you every minute of the day if you smiled like that more often." He reached out and brushed my hair off my face, smoothing it behind my ear, and I stared at him, lost for words. "Now if you want me to sing again, well that costs a kiss per song from here on out." He winked at me and crawled off his bed, still fully clothed, but in a pair of sweats and a t-shirt.

I may have swooned a bit at this. I nicknamed him Cheeseward in my head and he shot me a grin over his shoulder as he walked out of the room.

Damn it. Evidently my internal monologue had chosen to fail me again.

"Come on, I'll race you to the shower," he drawled and ducked when I flung a pillow at his head.

Two separate showers later, I sat next to him, feet dangling from the stool at the nearby all night diner he'd brought me to after I'd raided his fridge and found it emptier than the Sahara...well, the Sahara with a box of baking soda.

When the mound of giant pancakes appeared in front of me, I temporarily lost my will to speak, breathe, or have any other kind of meaningful social interaction skills. I grabbed my fork and dug in, starving since I hadn't eaten anything since, well, before my apartment had gone up like popcorn in one of those foil jiffy pans that had been left on the stove too long.

Amused, Edward watched me as he tucked into his own omelet and didn't even flinch when I batted away his fork when it tried to spear some of the strawberry, whipped cream and maple syrup drenched goodness. I finally did relent when I got full and fed him a bite, grinning when he was left with a sizable smear next to his oh so sexy lip.

Staring at it as he talked, I must have wandered into the lusty area which had been lacking in my life for a while when I finally ran my thumb over it, swiping away the cream and licking my own thumb. He stopped talking all together and his greener than green eyes grew dark, watching my face. Unable to look away, our gazes locked and I swear to all that is holy, I heard the song from The Little Mermaid in my head. Only it was "Kiss the Guy" complete with my own inner monologue's strangled warbling as Scuttle the seagull.

Just as I was about to give in and fully kiss this sexy stranger who had saved me, the moment was broken when I heard a booming voice behind me, startling us both. I sat back on my stool and peered behind me. My eyes widened when my eyes kept going up and up until they landed on his smiling dimpled face.


"McCarty! Jesus, turn your volume down!"

"Oh, sorry," The hulking man standing behind us smiled sheepishly and yanked the ear buds from his ears, letting them dangle around his neck, and slid onto the stool next to me.

"Soooo... who's this pretty lady? Huh, huh, huh, huh?" He grinned as his hand snatched a piece of bacon off my plate, and he inhaled it in one big bite.

"Hi, Bacon Thief, I'm Bella." I smacked his hand away again and waited for him to introduce himself.

Laughing, he grinned at me. "Ohhh, a feisty one, I like it! My name is Emmett, by the way, and I work with this rude bastard right here." He leaned around me and shoved Edward's shoulder playfully.

"You work at the same firehouse?"

"Yup, station 34. Best in the fucking city."

I continued to munch on my bacon and watched the playful interaction between Edward and his friend. There was a lot of teasing between the two, but at the same time I could see a lot of respect. Something I guessed was necessary for such a stressful job.

"So, hey feisty... you coming to the bar Friday night? I promise it'll be a fucking packed house."

"Yeah, I don't think she'd be interested-" Edward was cut off by Emmett waving his arms excitedly.

"Be interested? Dude, she's a beautiful woman and it's a bar full of fucking fine ass, if I do say so myself, firemen. What woman wouldn't want that?" He waggled his eyebrows suggestively and snatched my last piece of toast, shoving it in his mouth.

"A bar full of firemen, you say? Will you be there, Edward?" I turned and questioned him.

Once again that blush rose up his neck and cheeks and he responded rolling his eyes "Yes, I will be there too. He won't tell me any details though."

"Well, if Edward is going, then I am definitely in!" I said, a huge grin covering my face.

"Awesome!" Emmett shouted and jabbed his fist in my direction. Startled to have such a large hand thrust suddenly in my face, I jumped backwards off my stool, landing in Edward's lap. His hands immediately clutched my hips, steadying me. The feel of his strong fingers pressing slightly into my skin filled me with warmth and made me feel protected and safe.

I glared at Emmett. "What the hell?" I accused him.

Chuckling and looking quite amused with himself, he responded, "I was just trying to give you some knucks, you know knuckles, for saying you'll come to the bar Friday. You know, fist bumps, bro salute, knuckle bumps?"

Regrettably, I removed myself from Edwards grip. "Well, I would recommend you warn someone before you stick your fist in their face. It's like a finger up the ass; it can be good and all, but at least give a girl a fucking warning!"

Edward choked on his orange juice, sputtering and coughing. I grabbed a bunch of napkins and handed them to him while I watched, amused, as he wiped at his mouth with a napkin while Emmett pounded him on the back.

"Jesus, Cullen, forget how to drink much?" Emmett grinned at his friend.

Looking back to me, he pulled back his fist in fist bump salute again and grinned. "Yeah definitely feisty!" he said and gave Edward a firm pat on the back. "I gotta get going, but I better be seeing both of you at the bar Friday night."

I rolled my eyes slightly and stuck my hands on my hips "Yeah, yeah I will be there," I said. "There's no way I could miss out on all sweaty, uniformed, muscled..." I swiped at my chin as I pantomimed drooling and giggled at their faces. "What?"

After Emmett left, Edward shot me an intense look that had my cheeks flushing with heat. Self-consciously, I tucked my hair behind my ear and looked down. "What?"

"You got something, right... here." Snaking his hand behind my neck, he pulled me towards him, so close I could feel his breath on my cheek. If I blinked, I would have missed his lips brushing my face, tongue sneaking out to wipe away an errant bit of stickiness.

Pulling back, he stared at me, his cheeks flushing this time. "Ummm... yeah. Sorry. You just had some strawberry... " His eyes were greener than ever, his breathing uneven. He looked at me like I'd always wanted a man to gaze at me; like I was something he'd always dreamed of finding in an unexpected place.

Then I did something completely out of character for my usual shy self. I reached over, buried my fingers in his hair and brushed my lips over his. I wasn't thinking about my apartment or all my ruined stuff, I was only thinking about this total and complete stranger who in just twenty four hours had saved my life and more.

In a dingy little diner, smelling of sausage and coffee, I kissed the hell out of my hero.

When we finally broke apart at the urging of the cranky diner owner, Edward framed my face in his hands and rested his forehead on mine, smiling.

"Now, you owe me a whole bunch of songs," I said, my voice husky.

"I guess I do." His voice was equally as uneven as mine.

The rest of the day passed uneventfully. Edward, being the perfect gentleman, helped me settle into his apartment while I waited to hear back from my insurance company about my claims for my lost stuff.

After picking up Special K from the shelter, he even made a trip to the pet store with me to stock up on supplies, though his constant sneezing and watering eyes had to be annoying for him.

I'd just settled down on his couch, K perched on my lap, when Edward reappeared in his living room, running his fingers through his wet hair, dressed in his navy blue uniform and smelling like heaven.

"I got called in. One of the guys is out sick so I will see you later, Bella. Make yourself at home, what is mine is yours... can you just keep your pussy off my pillow... I mean your cat," he stammered, that blush that I loved to see developing.

Snickering I saluted him. "Yes, sir, Mr. Cullen, sir. Your pillow will be pussyless."

"Thanks. Otherwise I'll be sneezing all night." He brushed my hair back from my face and smiled. His face went all serious and I had the feeling he was trying to determine the boundaries between us... though they were definitely blurry after I'd tried to remove his face with my mouth earlier in the diner.

"Thank you again for letting me stay here. It means a lot," I said softly.

"No problem. I'll be at work all night, but if you need something feel free to call my sister. I left her number on the note pad by the phone."

He stood up and patted his pockets and headed for the door.

"Edward!" I called out and watched as he turned, that slow smile that made the butterflies go crazy in my stomach on his face.

"Be careful." My voice sounded breathless to my own ears and I winced.

"Always, Bella." He winked and was out the door without a word.

I cuddled under the blankets of Edward's bed that night with K tucked against my side, purring happily after finally abandoning his hiding place behind the couch where he'd been firmly ensconced all day. Poor fuzzy man had had a rough few days, though thankfully said bed's owner had guaranteed it wouldn't be as stressful as staying in a shelter.

Drifting off to sleep, I had to wonder, how lucky had I been to have made new a new friend? Or maybe something more?

When I awoke the next morning, I padded out in the borrowed P.J.'s of Alice's to find a snoring Edward on the couch, TV on, the remote long since fallen onto the floor next to him. I picked it up, shut the TV off, and covered his sleeping form with a colorful quilt that was laid across the back of the couch. He looked exhausted and sleeping on the couch couldn't be that comfortable, I imagined, feeling guilty about chasing him from his own bed.

I was in the kitchen when I heard a loud ruckus outside and the door burst open, a wiggly furry brown blur of a body darting inside followed by a frazzled looking Alice. "Sam! Slow down, this isn't the freaking Iditarod!"

She unsnapped the leash from his collar, dusted herself off and smiled at me, watching the small chocolate lab puppy start full body wiggling when he saw me. "Hi Bella, if you haven't met him yet, this is Sam, my brother's precious but oh so hyperactive puppy."

I knelt down to the floor and watched as he happily bounded over to me, big oversized puppy feet tripping over themselves in the effort to reach me, his nails clacking on the tile floor. I was bowled over onto my butt by what had to be at least fifty pounds of whimpering slobbery puppy and attached tongue.

Giggling, I rubbed his ears and laughed when he rolled over onto his back, giving me his soft, silky belly to rub. Scratching behind his leg, it started thumping on the floor when I found just the right spot.

"Oh Sam, you whore. I bet you'll forget all about me now that Bella's here!" Alice joked. "He's Ed's dog but he loves women. Which probably is why Em borrows him so much, nothing reels in the ladies like this furry little beast."

A loud snore erupted from the living room and Sam's ears perked up at hearing his master, bounding off before I could grab him. We heard muffled struggling, excited barks and Edward's sleepy voice laughing at his dog.

"Yeah, I will definitely get a move on finding a place and a job so I can get out of his way. It can't be easy sleeping on the couch after working all night," I mused out loud, busying myself with making coffee.

"Oh Bella, don't worry about it. He's such a nice guy, but he'd never offer if he felt like you were in the way."

"That's just it, Alice. He's too nice to tell me I'm in the way," I mumbled, wincing when an orange K shaped blur followed by a brown shaped blur came whizzing through the kitchen, narrowly missing our legs in the commotion.

"Sam! Leave the cat alone!" I heard Edward's voice bellow from the living room.

"Yeah, not in the way at all, are we?" I raised an eyebrow at Alice.

"He's just never been around cats much. It'll take a little adjusting and they'll be best of friends."

"Who? Edward or Sam?" I laughed.


Handing a mug of coffee to a sleepy Edward who padded into the kitchen, still in his uniform from last night, I felt my cheeks heat when he moaned after the first sip. "Sweet nectar of the gods."

Feeling my own cheeks heat, I wondered if that's how he sounded in bed. Shaking my head, I busied myself cleaning up after the ruckus both feline and canine had caused, letting Edward and Alice have some time to chat.

I quickly showered and dressed, grabbing Sam's leash and said puppy to take a walk down the block to the small newsstand I'd seen the day before to grab a paper and get some energy out of the hyper ball of fur. On my agenda, find a new place before I started my new job as an office assistant in a couple of days. Understandably they'd given me a couple of extra days after I'd let them know I was homeless due to a fire, but I didn't want to push the bounds of Edward's hospitality too much.

Oh shit. I didn't have any work appropriate clothes anymore. Hell, I didn't have ANY clothes anymore aside from the ones Alice had left me. Or even money to buy new ones or an ATM or credit card. Shit.

My first stop would have to be the bank, and then I would take a bus to hopefully a nearby mall where I could purchase a couple of sets of clothes just to get me by.

After finishing my walk with Sam, I made my way back to Edward's house and let myself in, relieved to find him curled up on his couch again, and got ready to run errands.

When I returned in the late afternoon, after a rather successful trip to the bank and the nearby mall, a couple of bags under my arms with shoes and a passable business outfit, Edward was gone.

The next couple of days consisted of me hanging out with Sam, Alice, or Emmett, who'd drop by to say hello sometimes, too. I saw Edward a few hours during the day until he had to go to work, he was good company and I was thankful to have made such good friends in such shitty circumstances.

When Thursday rolled around, I walked to the bus in the early morning and caught it to work, still not hearing back from the insurance company. I was frustrated but at least able to start making some money to get my own place and hopefully pay Edward and his sister for their help.

Luckily my first day went relatively smoothly, and I hoped I could settle in my new position, my first big after college job.

Friday afternoon after work I grabbed stuff to make dinner from the grocery store on the way back.

I hadn't seen him that morning as I'd left before he'd returned from work, and I had to say I missed him around the house. Correction, his house, I told myself.

Hopefully I'd hear something back soon as to whether I was going to be able to move back into my cleaned out place or a new place all together.

Friday afternoon, walking back from the bus to the house, I grinned when I saw Emmett getting out of a blue truck in Edward's driveway. The kitchen door opened and I heard Sam's excited puppy bark and the trampling of feet. Who needed to lock their door when you had a small ball of loud furry cuteness for an alarm?

Emmett always made me smile even when he was being loud and obnoxious. He wistfully reminded me of the big brother I'd always wished I had. I followed after him and made my way through the door moments later. Turning at the sound of the door closing, Emmett grinned and greeted me. "Hey, Feisty! Let me help you with those."

Sam's happy, wiggly little body barreled at my feet, his barks even more excited. Grinning at the wet nose and slobbers at my ankles, I smiled down at him and promised to play with him outside soon.

In one large bound, Emmett was standing in front of me, relieving my arms of the groceries. I grinned back, "Thanks, Em. Just set them on the counter and I will put them away. Are you staying for dinner?" I looked up to see Edward smiling brightly at me from the window by the couch.

The light was shining in through the window, reflecting off his strands of hair, giving them a near copper shimmer. He looked even more God-like than normal. Thoughts of gripping that shimmering hair tightly in my fists and pulling his lips into mine filled my head. I felt my face flush, the smirk and sly wink Edward slipped me told me I had been caught in my daydream fantasies.

"I just came by to make sure you were still coming to the bar tonight, Feisty. Fuck yeah, I'm staying for dinner!" Emmett bellowed loudly while rubbing his belly. "It's been forever since I have had a real home cooked meal."

"Hey!" Edward shouted, sounding slightly offended "That's not true! I made tacos just the other night for us at the station."

"Oh yeah, you did, huh?"

"Yeah I did!"

"Well it's different when it's made by a beautiful woman; it makes the food taste all that much better." Emmett smirked and winked in my direction as I started setting out the ingredients for dinner. I just rolled my eyes at him and continued getting dinner together.

Forty-five minutes and four helpings of Grandma Swan's Perfecto Alfredo later, Emmett belched loudly which was followed by Edward smacking him in the back of his head with his palm. "Hey!" Emmett said as he began to defend himself. "In some countries it's rude to leave the table without burping. I was just expressing to Feisty here how much I enjoyed her cooking."

Waving the scent of nasty man burp away with my hand, I rolled my eyes at Emmett and rose from my chair, beginning to clear the dinner dishes. "Well big boy, that's why I am glad to live in Seattle where a simple thank you and maybe an occasional gift card will do." I winked towards Emmett and headed towards the sink, my arms full of dinner dishes.

Edward cut me off before I could reach the sink and took the dishes from my arms. "Another proper way us Washingtonians say thank you is by doing the dishes and cleaning up so the fantastic chef doesn't have to." Edward set the dishes down in the sink, grabbed a dishtowel and swatted me away. "Go put your feet up and rest. You worked hard making us dinner; it's your turn to rest now."

Suddenly there was a loud snapping noise and I heard Emmett yowl, "What was that for, man!"

A grinning Edward wielded the dishtowel again, threatening to whip Emmett with it so he would stop licking his plate and start helping with the clean-up. I shook my head, Ah, boys will always be boys. "Thanks for cleaning up, you guys. I'm going to go hop in the shower and get ready for tonight."

"You sure you don't need Edward to help you with anything while you're in there?" Emmett asked with a devious smirk on his face. Edward's back was to me as he rinsed dishes at the sink, but his neck went a telltale red telling me he was blushing.

Through clenched teeth I heard him growl, "Emmett!"

A playful grimace danced on Emmett's lips. "Looks like I'm in trouble now," he said to me.

I just gave him a look that said ya think? "So yeah, I'm gonna go do that now. You boys don't kill each other while I'm in there, alright?" I headed towards the bathroom door then stopped and turned my head slightly and said, "But if only one of you can live, I prefer it be Edward. He's sweet and kind, says thank you by doing the dishes rather than belching, and, damn, is he a fine kisser."

I snickered and ran the rest of the way to the bathroom, quickly shutting and locking the door behind me only to hear Emmett cry, "I knew it man, you kissed her!"

Hopefully those boys didn't maim each other too bad while I was in the shower.

Thankfully, the boys worked out their differences in an adult manner. That manner, of course, consisted of a jar of peanut butter, a box full of nuts and bolts, and a barter that had Emmett having to wear something racy in a public venue.

I was excited and nervous about going out that night all at once. I hadn't gotten to hang out with Edward in a social setting yet, and I was looking forward to it. I had just met the man, but he always surprised me with how genuine a person he was. He'd gone out of his way to make me feel at home; me, a complete stranger. The fact that he was adorably kissable was also a definite plus.

A couple of hours and a glorious peek of Edward in nothing but a towel later, he and I arrived at Embers, the aptly named bar that the firefighters liked to frequent. To say the place was packed was an understatement; it was wall to wall people and I was afraid I would get lost in the crowd.

Edward pushed his way through the massive amounts of people drinking, flirting, and chatting. I clung tightly to his hand, not wanting to get lost amongst the sea of madness and also because I was holding his hand! Something so small shouldn't excite me so much, but any little touch by Edward set my body on fire, and his hand clasped tightly around mine started an inferno that was blissfully burning through my entire being.

"Where are we going?" I questioned Edward as he pushed our way thru the crowd. It was so loud he didn't hear me, so I shouted it again. "WHERE ARE WE GOING, EDWARD?"

He turned his head and his eyes met mine. I caught a glint of excitement dancing in them as a tender smile came over his face. He squeezed my hand a bit more firmly and said, "Just looking for Em. He said to meet him up front, he had something we just had to see." I nodded that I had heard him, not wanting to shout above the crowd again, and we pressed on. We soon arrived at the front of the bar near the stage, where Emmett stood, decked out in his uniform. Even I had to admit he was looking good. He winked when he saw me and I gave him a small wave with the hand that wasn't clasped in Edward's.

"So, what's up and why are you in uniform? You're not on duty tonight are you?" Edward asked Emmett as we approached him.

"No, not on duty. Come with me and it will all make sense. Bella, you can sit and wait here at this table with my gorgeous new friend Rosalie, she saved you a spot," he said as he ushered me to the small round table to sit next to a gorgeous, leggy blonde who smiled genuinely at me. Her piercing blue eyes and scarlet lips just added to her ethereal beauty; there was no question why Emmett was taken with her. She was voluptuous and curvy in all the right places, with a body I would kill for.

I felt less than beautiful in this woman's presence with my mousy brown hair, dull brown eyes, and wearing my typical jeans and fitted leather jacket. She was in a short, black skirt that showed off her legs that went on for days and, as if she needed her legs to be any more alluring, a bright red pair of platform heels that made her legs look so good, I almost considered switching teams.

She stood when I approached the table and towered over me. Sticking out her hand, she said, "Hi, I'm Rosalie, but most people just call me Lee. You must be Bella."

"Yep", I said and nodded, politely shaking her outstretched hand. She sat down in a chair at the table and I did the same.

"That Emmett, he's a trip, isn't he?" she said with a giggle.

I laughed lightly myself. "Yeah, he's definitely something else."

Leaning in conspiratorially, Lee said to me, "I've only known Emmett for half an hour, but I have already heard tons about you. He was right, you are beautiful and, to be honest, I'm a little jealous. He's a good guy, one I definitely wouldn't mind dating, you know?"

I gave her a skeptical look and literally snorted out loud. "Ok wait, what? Back up here. One, why in heavens name would you be jealous of me? I mean, look at you," I said, motioning my hand up down in front of her, "And then look at me." I repeated the same hand motions, but this time directed at myself.

Lee threw her head back and laughed. "Bella, you obviously don't see yourself clearly. You are stunning! You don't need all the bells and whistles like the rest of us, you come off as a knock out in simple jeans and a tee. You are confident but not intimidating, obviously not too high maintenance, but feminine in all the right ways and places."

My jaw dropped and I was speechless. "Um...thanks." I had known this woman for, what, five minutes, if that, and here she was giving me compliments like this. I wasn't sure if I should feel flattered or a little weirded out and, if I was to be truthful, I'd say it was a little of both. "You know," I said to her, "If you like Emmett so much, you should ask him out."

"Oh, I would but he is obviously taken with you Bella," she said sadly.

My second snort of the night came out and I practically shouted, "No! Emmett has no interest in me and honestly, if he was to be anything to me, it would be like that annoying younger brother you have to tolerate when he pulls your pigtails. Did you not see the way he was looking at you, Lee? He's so into you."

"Really, you think?" she asked, her face brightening with hope.

"Think? Girl, I know. Anyway, I've got my eye on someone else."

Lee's lips turned up into a huge grin. "Is it the man you came in with? Because, Bella, that was a good looking man. A man that had I am falling for Bella HARD written all over his face in flashing neon letters."

"Nah, Edward's just a friend. He's helping me out, but damn I wouldn't complain if he wanted more."

"Bella, believe me, that boy has got it bad with a capital B for you." I tried not to show how overjoyed that thought made me, but the fact that my grin had spread as wide as my mouth would allow and I was suddenly bouncing a bit in my seat gave me away.

"I can't wait to see the guys on stage tonight. Good thing they are all firefighters, since this place will probably go down in flames from all the hotness combined," Lee said excitedly to me.

I looked at her quizzically. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, all those hot firefighters up on stage, moving sexy to the music and taking off their shirts and who knows what else. The fact that it is all to raise money for the children's hospital makes it all the more sweet and alluring." I had a sinking feeling Edward knew nothing about this and was going to get roped into doing something he didn't want to do by Emmett. Emmett, of course, using the reasoning that it was for the kids to make Edward unable to say anything but yes no matter how uncomfortable or how little he wanted to do it. Just then, my pocket buzzed and I pulled out my phone to see I had a text from Edward. Yep, this definitely confirmed he knew nothing of tonight's true goings on, or at least that he was going to be made to participate in it.

Edward: I'm going to kill Em JSYK

I texted him back and acted all innocent, as if I myself had not just found out why Edward would be so angry.

Bella: what did he do?

Edward: U will see in a min.

Edward: His big sexy dick was in using Alice!


Edward: WTF God, I hope not, or I'm going to kill him! Why wld u think that?

Bella: um...

Bella: Look at your previous txts.


Edward: It was supposed to say his big secret trick was in using Alice.

Bella: Oh that's a relief! I'm sorry he tricked u.

Edward: It's ok gotta run. You'll see in a min.

The lights dimmed dramatically and a low voice came on over a microphone. "And now, all you've been waiting for, courtesy of Station 34... to benefit Children's Charities for the Northwest... Your... hot... sexy... on... fire...!"

The lights came back on in a flash and revealed several fully outfitted and uniformed firefighters with their backs to the audience on the stage and the music started up. The flirtatious beat of Tom Jones' "You Can Leave Your Hat On" made the giant crowd of women erupt into cheers, shrieks and whistles.

Baby, take off your coat...real slow...

In time with the lyrics, the men on stage very slowly and carefully let their heavy canvas jackets slither down one shoulder, and then the other before dropping them sinuously to the stage, all the while shimmying and shaking, revealing bare muscled backs covered only by wide red suspender straps.

I couldn't identify who was who in the stage lights, but a whistling Lee next to me smacked me on the back and giggled at my open mouthed expression.

"God, I love charity work!" she giggled.

"Ladies, you know your job. You gotta fill the boot coming around to see more of these delicious men," the announcer purred over the loudspeaker.

This time, I was the one to giggle when Lee dumped the entire contents of her purse in the proffered boot without even noticing. I grabbed some change from my wallet and threw it in the boot. No wonder Alice had told me to get some ones the last time I had gone to the bank. That little trickster.

Baby, take off your dress. Yes, yes, yes.

Tom's voice slithered sinuously over the cheering crowd as the firefighters on stage finally turned and faced the crowd and the women around us went completely nuts.

My jaw dropped further when I saw Em in the front, as he brazenly winked at Lee next to me, and I swear her eyes rolled back in her head and she went limp. Was it possible to have orgasm by half naked firefighter? I think so.

But what really drew my eye was the leanly muscled body belonging to the green eyed, red haired man whose skin was covered in a light pink flush who flipped Em the bird: Edward. He shot me a toe curling look as he shimmied and shook to the music a little awkwardly in front of our little table, his good natured grin made me swoon a little.

"Yeah, I don't think he's into you at all," Lee shouted in my ear and rolled her eyes at my dumbfounded expression.

You can leave your hat on...

The brass section of the song tooted away and I giggled when the men shuffled stepped on stage, shaking their bodies sexily.

Go over there, turn on the light. No, all the lights.
Come back here, stand on the chair. Ooh, baby, that's right!
Raise your arms in the air, now shake 'em.

The firefighters grabbed chairs from the side of the stage and ground on them suggestively. Edward's eyes met mine, green and knowing. I had to physically grip the side of my chair to keep from running on stage and making a spectacle of us. The amount of lust and pheromones zinging around the packed bar was making me dizzy. Take a bar full of horny, drunk women and you could use the amount of energy to power the next space shuttle mission.

"Come on ladies, I can't hear you and that boot isn't full! If you want to see the grand finale of our charity performance, I want to see that boot full!" the announcer growled and the screaming and yelling grew louder.

Fuck me. I didn't know if I could survive the finale if it included glimpsing more skin. Specifically, Edward's skin. He wasn't practiced like the other guys, his rhythm was off and I knew he was embarrassed to be parading around on stage like a piece of meat, but the fact that he'd done it to raise money made it that much hotter to witness.

You give me reason to live.
You give me reason to live.
You give me reason to live.
You can leave your hat on!

They gyrated and thrust in time with the music on stage and I heard whooping next to me as the M.C. grabbed Lee and pulled her on stage to sit on a chair, while the other firefighters dispersed, disappearing behind the stage. Her face went red as Em gyrated and thrust, giving her his own personal lap dance, hips shimmying and shaking revealing a red thong underneath his canvas pants.

"Congratulations to Miss Rosalie Hale for being the one to top off the boot! She gets a special, very personal performance by our very own Emmett McCarty!"

I grinned and hid behind my hands, peeking through my fingers. Oh Lordy... I had ten to one odds that she wouldn't be leaving the bar alone tonight. Go Lee! Em was fun, loud, and caring in a big brother way, an all-around great guy.

I startled when I felt warm breath against my ear and a low out of breath voice rumble, "Don't think any less of me because I was just parading myself around like a piece of meat."

Stiffening, I turned and met the amused but sheepish eyes of my very own object de lust. "Why would I? It was fucking hot, Edward!" I gasped and covered my mouth. Yeah, now would be a good time for my internal monologue to make a return, thanks.

He smirked and nuzzled my ear with his lips, making my whole body flush. "Why, Miss Swan, I think you just want me for my body."

"That and your ability to leap small buildings and tackle villains at every turn."

"I think that's Superman."

"Superman, Superschman. I'll take my real life hero any day." I shot him a cheesy grin and kissed him, quick and hot, before I felt him being dragged away. I opened my eyes testily to see another woman in the crowd drunkenly pulling on his dangling suspenders.

"Hey, no fair! He's up for the bachelor auction next. No damaging the merchandise!" the bitch's voice shrieked.

I may have bared my teeth at this point, before yanking my wallet from my purse and throwing all my cash into the boot that was being passed around.

"I pre-paid. Now keep your fucking claws to yourself." Edward's face was priceless as he eyed me and the taller redhead ready to fight it out for him. His head whipped back and forth between the other woman and myself like he was a spectator at a tennis match.

I stood up and downed my ice tea in one gulp before heading for the front door to get some air.

What was wrong with me? My usual mild mannered, non-confrontational self had done the equivalent of peeing on his leg like he was some kind of heavily muscled, sweaty sex object. Mmmm...sex object. Shaking my head, I pushed open the door to the outside and sighed in relief as the cool night air hit my overheated skin.

"Bella?" I heard his voice before I saw him, tentatively poking his head out the door. He'd pulled on a grey t-shirt and changed into jeans and chucks. Running his hand through his hair, he stared at me, almost like he was afraid I was angry for some reason.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Way to go, Bella. Your first new friend in town who has done so much for you and you've made an ass of yourself.

"Hey, Edward. Can I just apologize? I mean, you've been nothing but a great... friend to me. You saved my life, took me into your house and god... you're just amazing. But I have no right to react like that. God, you must think I'm some lust crazed-"

My words were cut off when his lips met mine.

Eyes opening, I stared at his face. His eyes were dark, the look on his face indecipherable and I forgot to finish the rest of my sentence.

This kiss was different than the others we'd shared, it was heat and passion and need.

"Bella." His voice was low, and eyes intense. "You're beautiful, and sexy and smart. And you mean more to me than a friend. Saving you was the best thing that could have happened to me. Your face was the only one I saw while I was shaking my ass in front of all those women. Just yours."

"You mean I didn't freak you out when I spent the last of my savings on buying you?" I laughed, and covered my face with my hands.

"Freak out? Fuck no, that was insanely hot." His hands tightened on my hips. "I wanted you the moment I saw you, but I didn't want to scare you away."

Grinning, I kissed him back, lips and tongue and teeth attempting to show him how much he'd haunted my dreams.

Making out with Edward Cullen in front of a bar full of horny ass women had to be one of the highlights of my life.

His phone vibrated and he cursed, detaching from my mouth only long enough to peer at the display in the dim light before answering it with a bark. "What, Em? Right now? It can't wait until tomorrow? Shit. Ok. I'll be right in."

"Sorry, I've got to go help Em clean up. Whatever that means. He better have put pants on by now." He shuddered and pressed his truck keys into my fingers. "I'll catch a ride home with him."

Kissing me again, he finally backed away and shot me a grin before going back inside.

I stood there dumbly for a moment, swaying slightly on my feet, drunk off the kisses I had just gotten from Edward before snapping back into reality. I squeezed the keys Edward had slipped in my hand and sighed while grinning widely. Nearly skipping, I made my lust-drunk way to Edward's truck, started it up, and drove back to his house.

Letting myself in, I collapsed with a loud sigh on the couch and lost myself in fantasies and daydreams of Edward that soon turned into actual dreams as I nodded off to sleep. I was in the middle of a particularly pleasant dream about Edward that had me feeling quite good when I began to wake a little and realized I actually was in Edward's arms as he carried me to his bed.

"Hi," I said softly, an unintentional small grin playing on my lips.

"Well hi, sleepy-head," Edward responded. He began to gently lay me down onto the bed and I wrapped my arms around his neck, pulling him down with me, refusing to let go. "Um...Bella, you are going to have to let go of me."

I smiled mischievously. "And what if I don't want to let go of you?"

"Well then I will be forced to stay here and lay in the bed next to you."

"Mmmmm..." I hummed, "I like that idea."

Edward smirked. "Oh you do, do you?" he asked, settling down in the bed next to me.

"Yes I do, and I like the idea of this even more," I said as I pressed my lips firmly to his and hitched my leg over his leg, drawing his body closer to mine.

"Bella," he grunted against my lips, hissing when my fingers found the hem of his shirt and started exploring.

"Yeah?" My voice was embarrassingly breathless, but what did you expect when you were kissing the world's hottest man?

"Are you sure?"

"Sure about what?" I pulled back to peer up at his face in the dim light of his bedroom.

"This, I mean we've only known each other a week and all..." he stared down at me sheepishly and shrugged.

"If the last week has taught me anything, it's that life is too fucking short. I could have died in my apartment if you hadn't shown up and saved me. But you did." I brushed the strands of his silky hair off his forehead and he pressed a kiss to the palm of my hand.

He shrugged again. "I was just doing my job, Bella. If I hadn't, someone else would have. You might have gotten Em's smelly ass climbing through your window."

I grimaced. "Yeah, I love Em. But no. Ew."

His laugh at my scrunched up face made me smile. "You saved me, Edward. You."

I pressed small kisses to his cheeks, his forehead, his eyelids which fluttered closed, his nose, and finally, his mouth.

"Only you make me smile,"


"Only you make me feel like this, like I'm falling."


"Only you make me crazy when you touch me."

When he opened his eyes, the green was dark, so very dark in the dim light, but filled with emotion. "Don't think I'm a big pussy for saying this, but I really... really like you. And I don't want to screw this up."

"You won't, and you had me at 'pussy'." I giggled and his eyes widened.

Burrowing his face in my neck, his lips blazed a path of wet heat. "Oh god, I'm a sick man. Every time you say the word it drives me fucking crazy."

"What word?"

"Pussy. I think you used it a total of five times within the first few minutes I met you."

"Why Mr. Cullen..." I gasped as his tongue found that sensitive spot below my ear. "I do believe you said it too... and everything you say drives me crazy. You totally kill my fucking verbal filter. It's like everything you say goes straight from your mouth to my pussy."

His head shot up and he peered down at me, eyes wide. "Did you say pussy?"


"Damn, woman... keep talking."

I smirked at him and started rambling about how he made me feel, my words becoming nonsensical as his mouth roamed my face, my neck, the tops of my breasts exposed by my v neck t shirt. His mouth became more insistent at my words, little nips and licks and sucks killing me slowly. His hands kneaded, and squeezed and caressed any bare skin he could find, the roughness of his palms feeling pretty goddamn wonderful. We hadn't even removed any clothing yet.

"Oh, god...right there...your mouth...god, Edward...so fucking good."


Sucking on the pulse point on my neck, his teeth grazed my skin and I lost it. Pulling his face down, I kissed him hungrily, burrowing my fingers in his hair and wrapping my legs around his slim hips.

"God, Bella."

He dropped his forehead against mine, his eyes intense, and brushed my hair out of my face, murmuring about how beautiful I was, his voice low and caressing. It was amazing to me how we could go from crazy hands and lips to this...tenderness. He made me feel cared for, safe, and loved.

I drew in a breath. Loved? Really, Bella? You know the man a week and you think you love him?

His face broke into a huge grin.

Oh fuck.

I said that out loud again, didn't I?

"Yes, you did."

"Oh fuck. " I hid behind my hands and waited for my body to burst into flames, I was so flushed in embarrassment.

"Bella. Don't freak out, but I knew you were the one the first moment I heard your voice, non-verbal filter and all." His eyes were crinkled around the edges and full of something I'd never seen before. Warmth, need... love. Well, damn.

"I love you, Bella Says Whatever She's Thinking Swan."

"Damn, Cheeseward. I think I love you too." My answering grin was huge. "Now, come here and cheese me."

He chuckled and resumed his plan to make me crazy in 5 easy steps.

My clothing ended up decorating a lamp, sending Special K scurrying for cover and me giggling uncontrollably. Edward's lips continued their downward journey, my voice trailing off into some kind of strangled yelp. I was completely naked, but I felt nothing but loved and worshipped under his touch.

I'd never had so much... well... fun being with someone before. Everything was new and different but comfortable at the same time.

His fingers traced my sides, smoothing over my pale skin whisper soft, lips following leaving trails of warmth.

Shivering, but not from the cold, I ran my hands through his hair, smiling when he arched into my touch, a low sound of contentment echoing in the room.

That spot behind my ear, tickled by his rough stubble, made my eyes cross, my earlobe apparently a direct link to between my legs, his chuckle at my breathy noises low and growly.

I loved the way he squirmed closer, head flopped back when I returned the favor. Who knew someone so much bigger and stronger than me could be undone by just the touch of my fingers.

Feeling powerful, I pushed him onto his back and commenced my own information gathering. After I tugged his grey t shirt over his head, my eyes roamed all the gloriously bare skin before me, now covered in a sheen of sweat, though this time it wasn't from embarrassment like earlier. This time it was for only my eyes.

I grinned in satisfaction and he laughed at the self-satisfied noise.

"What? I can't help it if I'm smugger than smug could be at this moment. Call me Queen Bella of Smuggington." I rolled my eyes at myself, but his smile at my rambling was indulgent.

"How 'bout I just call you mine?" His voice was low and went straight to my lady bits.

"That works too," I squeaked when his lips nipped at my shoulder.

Who knew that all that yummy, wonderful Edward scent was concentrated in the dips of his collarbones, and that when he looked at me, his blush went all the...way... down. A curse of fair skin, maybe? But I loved it. It was proof positive of the way I affected him. Sparse brown hairs dotted his chest, before leading down in a tiny trail over the ropy, lean muscles of his stomach... the perfect place for my lips to roam, tickling his stomach when I reached the waistband of his jeans. He wasn't body builder ripped like Em, but his strength was more subdued… not like he spent hours working out in the gym, just gained through his line of work.

The look on his face was almost my undoing, his hair flopped over his brow, eyes lazily hooded, darker than their usual green, parted lips swollen from our kisses. It was my favorite sight so far, topping out even the vision of him shaking it in full firefighting gear. Thank you, active imagination, but you could never do Edward Cullen justice.

He pulled me down to rest, straddling his lap, and rubbed his rough thumb over my lips, tracing their outline and my tongue darted out, licking, then my teeth nipped at his thumb. His gasp and moan made me smile mischievously at him. His answer was to crush me to him, lips finding mine, desperate and needy.

"Bella, Bella, Bella...You're driving me crazy," he panted out between kisses to my lips, my neck, my breasts... hands coming up to gently cup the soft skin in his hands and I moaned, eyes sliding shut. Light sweeps of his fingers over the swell, the crest, the sides... always skirting the sensitive nipple. My eyes shot open when I felt the wet heat of his tongue and gentle pressure of his teeth, the view blocked by his hair brushing my chest. The sensation shot fire from my breasts throughout my body, and I arched wantonly against him.

"Gahhhhh." Incoherent, yes. Truthful... always.

Releasing his mouth from my breast, he tipped his head upward and looked into my eyes. His look was filled with passion, desire, and a hint of smug masculine pride for how his touch was affecting me. I was useless in hiding how he made me feel, had been since I'd met him. And at the moment, my embarrassingly ridiculous noises were making it quite obvious that his touch was having a stellar effect on me. When I say stellar, I mean he turned me into a rambling, incoherent mess.

"Edward," I whined, "I want you, I want you so fucking bad."

His eyes widened and his mouth dropped at my bold statement. In another life, I might have been embarrassed. But with him I felt shameless.

My hands slipped to the button on his pants and my fingers nimbly popped it open. I slid my hand down inside. Finding him huge and hard, I wrapped my hand around him tightly and, as I did, he let out a loud, "Fuuuuuuuuuuck me."

Sheepishly, he shrugged his shoulders at his words.

I smirked. "That is exactly what I plan on doing Mr. Cullen," I said as I used my other hand to push his pants the rest of the way off, Edward helping along the way. It wasn't long before the most gorgeous, sexy, and amazing man I had ever known lay sprawled naked before me.

I slowly took him in from head to cock, to toe, back to cock; every part of this man was perfect and stunning. A breathy "Goddamn" snuck out of my lips.

A knowing grin spread across his lips. "I take it you like what you see?"

I could only nod at the amount of naked perfection and beauty that lay before me, making me incoherent. Edward took advantage of that moment and, before I knew what had happened, he had me pinned beneath him, his body towering over mine.

Lowering his head he slowly brought his lips to my collarbone, where he sucked and nibbled his way to my breasts, paying equal attention to both. His hands gripped my sides firmly as his tongue made its way to my belly button then lower and lower.

I moaned and he chuckled. "I can't help it… I got a taste of you earlier and I'm a greedy man. Such soft, soft skin… fucking delicious."

Sounds louder than I knew I was capable of were coming out of me and my hips were thrusting upwards needing more friction, more anything. The gentle kisses he laved to my inner thighs drove me crazy; his stubble tickled and had me arching below him. "Pretty sure this is my favorite spot," he said while pressing open mouth wet kisses. "So fucking curvy and soft like a woman should be." I was pretty sure my eyes rolled back at the gentle nip from his teeth.

His hair tickled my stomach and before I knew it, his tongue was on my clit and he was swirling and lapping before gently sucking, driving my entire body into a frenzy. He repeated the movement then moved his tongue down lower and thrust it inside me. Moaning and mewling, I was helpless underneath his hands holding my legs and his determined mouth. My breath stuttered out and I pushed myself up on my elbows, desperate to see the view of his mouth on me. His eyes met mine and I gasped. He held my gaze, his mouth growing more intense, sucking hard and bringing me over the edge before I could even blink.

My thighs unintentionally squeezed his head tightly as my toes curled. I screamed out his name and rode out the wave of the most intense orgasm I had ever experienced. Panting, my head flopped back and I gasped out "Holy shit, Edward. Ho-lee shiiiiiit!" He chuckled at my reaction and I reached down and grabbed his face in my hands, bringing his lips to mine. Kissing the hell out of him, my hands roamed, feeling him hiss at my nails raking his back.

"Bella, Bella, Bella," he growled in my ear. "I need you. I can't wait any fucking longer."

I surprised him when I reached down, grabbed him firmly in my hand and aligned him with myself. Cursing under his breath, he slowly pushed himself inside me and I swear I saw stars.

We were both panting and uttering barely intelligible curse words at the incredible feeling of being joined together. It had never felt like this before; it was beyond perfect, it was beyond amazing. It was indescribable. Edward slowly moved in and out of me and we reveled in the feeling. His eyes met mine and we stared at each other, huge grins overcoming each of our faces. "God, Bella, you are so amazing." His eyes were tender as he watched me.

I gazed lovingly back and said, "No, Edward, it's not me. It's us. Do you feel it?"

His lips met mine and his tongue entered my mouth, giving me a passionate frenzied kiss. I brought my legs up and wrapped them tightly around his waist, one hand gripping his ass tightly. The other hand slid up and down his back, slick with sweat, trying to absorb the absolute perfect feeling of him moving in me, on me… indescribable.

His lips dove for my throat, blazing trails over all the skin he could reach, the feeling amazing, my hands knotting in his hair. My hips matched his in rhythm as the speed and intensity increased. I let go of his ass and gripped the sheets tightly, moaning out my pleasure so loud I knew I was going to be hoarse the next day. I brought my legs down and he rested his hands on each side of me to support himself as he began to thrust rough and frantic. My eyes closed and I knew my breathing was out of control, the feeling of approaching release was building again and I was almost there. "So close…so close…" I chanted, breathless.

He brought his mouth down to my nipple once more and sucked. White heat shot through my body and I stiffened. That single action took me over the edge with another toe-curling, over the top journey to Edward inspired O Town.

He slowed slightly and panted. "Baby, you feel so fucking good! I can't hold off anymore." Two more thrusts and a low drawn out "Bella" and I felt him spill inside me.

He collapsed gently on top of me and we both let out a simultaneous, "Fuck."

Breathless, we lay there spent and panting until our breathing finally slowed. He slid off me and rolled onto his back, pulling me to nestle against him. My fingers idly rubbed his arm before tangling with his fingers. I pressed a kiss to the back of his hand and he ran his fingers through my hair, pulling it out of my face.

"Now that's one fire I never want to extinguish," Edward said.

I groaned and rolled my eyes. Grabbing a nearby pillow, I threw it at his face. "You're lucky I love cheese, Cheeseward!"

Chuckling, he pulled me close to him. "Yes, I most definitely am."

Grinning from ear to ear, I curled my body into his and drifted off into one of the most blissful slumbers I'd had in years. My last thoughts as my eyes closed were where there's smoke… sometimes there's more than fire. So much more.

A/N: Special thanks to our lovely mastah beta Suebee0619 and our pre-readers: BilliCullen, Jordan929, EdmazingCullen and RydenxDirtay on the twitter. Big extra special thanks to Sandy and SFFR for posting our ramblings. It's an honor. We love you long time!