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Sweet TheSuperNinja'sCrabcake beta'd this chapter. She tones down my crazy.


"Jackson Height. I used to live in Jackson Height."

My eyebrows rise in surprise, my eyes darting around her apartment in question. It's not a penthouse, but the view is beautiful. It's in central Manhattan, one of the more expensive areas in New York. She's got a small patio she can step on to, and there's only water to see. The breeze brings the smell of warmth and ocean with it, and I've never felt more at peace.

She laughs. "My dad's business recently soared sky high, and he got me this apartment as a present for all the times I helped him with work."

"I like it."

She smirks at me, bringing her beer bottle to her lips, taking a long sip. "I got that much since you insisted to have a date here." She hands me a bowl of chips. I take it with one hand, grabbing her with the other. I pull her so that her back presses against my front, my lips finding her neck.

"You smell so good," I whisper to her, my chest swelling when she shudders against me, a groan slipping from her lips.

She manages to make her way out of my arm before turning give me a quick wink, and sashaying off to the kitchen again. My eyes remain on her swaying ass.

"What are you making?"

Her head peeks at me from the wall separating her living room from her kitchen. "The only thing I know how to make. Pasta. You can look around if you want; I'm sure there is a drawer or two left that you haven't been through."

Smiling is easy and as natural as breathing when I'm with her.

I slide my free hand through the little gap between the glass patio doors, pulling one open entirely. It's evening, but a little bit of the sun is still up, and I tilt my head back a little, enjoying the heat hitting my skin. I let my beer bottle rest on the balcony wall. The breeze is carrying the scent of fresh salt from the ocean, along with the distinct smell of fish, yet it comforts me in the oddest of ways. This had been the reason why Bella smelled like the ocean when I'd met her in the club.

I don't know how long I've been staring at the water, but I suspect Bella's done cooking when she joins me.

Her arms wind around me, her cheek pressing against my back. Her small hands move from around my waist towards my chest, laying one above my heart. Every nerve in my body seems to come alive at her touch. I can feel small buzzes moving down my arm, the sides of my torso, and I have to clench my hands on the balcony railing to stop from pulling her into a bruising kiss. If I do, I won't be able to stop…and now is not the time.

"You can see the planes fly from here, over that ocean and away. I've always wondered what it would feel to be on one, looking down at the water, the land, and people as tiny as little dots." Her voice is low, as if she's afraid to speak any louder in fear of bursting the bubble around us.

"You've never been on a plane?"

She chuckles, her warm breath contrasting the evening's air, sending a shiver down my spine. "I've never been outside of New York. I've always wanted to travel, though; I just never got the chance before my graduation."

"No summer travels or wild spring breaks?"

She pulls apart from me, spinning so that she's leaning against the balcony wall, facing me. My hand finds my bottle, nursing it.

"Nope, none of that. I started working at New York Daily after my general education courses at NYU, working the odd job here and there. By the time I was done with my Bachelors, they had me writing in the columns, small stories."

I tip my beer towards her. "Ambitious. I admire that." And I really do. If I had been that hard working, I would've finished my education to be a lawyer right now, working the eleven to seven hours, five days a week. But that wouldn't have been living. Becoming a lawyer had been my father's dream, mainly so that he could prove to everyone in Mystic Falls that his indecisive, flighty, and impulsive son would be the first lawyer that hadn't come from another town.

"And you? How long have you been working at Carnal Desires?"

"Since Charlie found me."

She pauses for a moment, her back straightening microscopically. "Charlie?"

"My boss."

The sides of her lips tilt upward. "Is he nice?"

I shrug. "He pays for my living and offers me a hefty salary. I can't complain."

"Do you ever plan on going back to Mystic Falls?"


"You sound so sure," she observes.

"I am."

"One day, Damon Salvatore…one day I'll get all the answers out of you."



Drunk. She's so drunk that she's giggling. It's kind of cute to see, but mostly hilarious.

"How do you know your limit of alcohol intake, then?" I ask her.

"When I know I'm starting to do something stupid."

"Like what?"

"Like…when I do something that makes my middle finger lift up to salute me."

Like I said, she's an amusing drunk.

Her sofas are small; it allows us to sit close enough so that the length of her thigh is touching mine. In the last two hours, I've learned that she can't cook to save her life, she hates technology, and the last movie she'd want to watch before dying is Avengers. A woman after my own heart…except the technology part. I sort of love my phone.

We had kept meeting over the last three weeks for a few minutes here and there whenever she got a break from writing; they were nothing like having a real date, though. It doesn't even feel like one. I remember the dates I've gone on previously—the fumbling awkwardness through dinner and talk…through everything until I'd tumble into bed with the woman of the night. The bedroom is the one place I'd always been most confident in—or anywhere, really, as long as clothes were off. But with Bella, there isn't anything that I have to keep quiet on. She can take my perverted comments and throw more back at me; she can take my sarcastic remarks and give it back just as good. We're compatible in that nature, and I'm more than curious to find if we're compatible in the physical department as well. I'm putting it off, though. I fear that as soon as we fall into bed and into that relationship, I'd lose the tingles and shivers she can make my body feel. I fear that she'll become one of those nameless women in my past and that's the last thing I want. .

Bella's head falls against my shoulder, and I spend a moment just taking her in. From her dark brown-reddish hair to her pale skin, from her thick eyelashes to her cute button nose. I let my fingers trace her soft, plump lips.

I maneuver myself out of her side, carefully picking her up in my arms to put her into bed. She's never had any alcoholic drinks with me, but now I know she's a lightweight…and I can't wait to tease her about it.

Her bedroom is all baby blue, almost greenish. I pull her comforter back with my sock covered feet, putting her down in the middle. I don't know how bad of a drunk she is, but I can only hope that she won't fall out from the side. I cover her up before moving towards the door. I don't want to leave her, yet I can't stay. Not yet.

The hardest part after spending time with Bella is going to an empty apartment where everything reminds me of the numbness that surrounds me whenever she's not around. It's almost like she's become a drug to me that I constantly need to escape the pain that Mystic Falls has given me. I don't want to be reminded of my hometown, of the church that Katherine had left me in, the alter where my father expressed his utter disappointment in me in front of the whole town. I rub my eyes and hope the time moves faster, just so that I can text Bella and feel my heart beat speed up just a little, reminding me that I am alive.

These are one-shots, so they won't be in consecutive order of the relationship advancing, but rather the main parts, such as the big steps and healing. :)

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