Truly Anonymous Twilight O/S PP Contest
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Title: Out on a Ledge
Picture Prompt Number: #23
Word Count (minus A/N and Header): 5,564
Summary (250 characters or less, including spaces and punctuation): There was a time, and it wasn't that long ago, when Edward Cullen was just my best friend. The thought of it now makes me laugh. Written for the Truly Anonymous Contest. BxE. AH. Rated M for language and lemons.
Warnings and Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Out on a Ledge
There was a time, and it wasn't that long ago, when Edward Cullen was just my best friend. The thought of it now makes me laugh.
I distinctly remember meeting Edward. It was my first day on the job at Volterra Corporation after earning my degree in Business Administration, and I was nervous as hell. I'd had an intense internship at a major corporation when I was still in school, but this was different. It was my first professional job as a business analyst, and it was sink or swim. Based on what I'd learned about this job, I was going to be swimming with the sharks.
I must have spent two hours getting ready, settling on my best power blouse and skirt. Despite the extra primping, I still managed to get there twenty minutes early. I did the standard first day tasks – filled out payroll forms, gathered supplies and was introduced to my department. My boss and head of the Finance department, Carlisle, walked me around to the various departments, introducing me as his bright shining young star who was bound for greatness. I was flattered by the compliment, but I didn't feel so bright and shining – I was intimidated beyond belief. Still, I held my head high and smiled as I was introduced around.
According to my friend Angela, who'd helped me get my foot in the door at Volterra, the Mergers and Acquisitions group held all the hot-shot young guys who were trying to fast track it to the top. Angela made sure to let me know I should steer clear of them. Apparently, their cocky attitudes and bad reputations were legendary, and many of the young women in the office fell victim to them. According to Angela, they thought they were God's gifts to the world and were sure to let everyone know. Naturally, this just made me more curious.
The energy in the Mergers and Acquisitions group was palpable when I walked into the room. It was a fast-paced environment, loud, with a ton of activity. Most of the staff were on the phones wheeling and dealing. The first two guys I met, Emmett and Jasper, seemed so consumed with work they couldn't even stop working long enough to shake my hand. All I got was the obligatory head nod and a wave.
I get it, you're extremely busy and oh-so-important, I thought to myself.
They were both extremely good-looking, albeit in different ways. Jasper had a slim build and curly blond hair, whereas Emmett was tall and solidly built with an almost military haircut. I could see why girls fell for the guys in this department – they certainly lived up to their reputation. But I was not naïve. I'd been around my fair share of hot guys with attitudes in college, so I knew the type. Angela was right; I would have to steer clear.
Edward was just finishing up a phone call when we walked up to his office. I immediately noticed how beautiful he was with his bronze hair and piercing green eyes, and just enough scruff on his face to make him sexy as hell. He had a quiet, reserved sense about him. Unlike Jasper and Emmett, he was at ease, even in the midst of the chaos around him. He didn't seem to fit into the ultra Type-A mold that the rest of the department did. He smiled as Carlisle introduced us and reached out cordially to shake my hand. His smile radiated warmth and kindness, and most notably, sincerity.
"It's nice to meet you, Bella. I know Carlisle is anxious to get some help. He's been burning the candle at both ends for a while now," he said as he stood to shake my hand.
I tried to return his confident smile, but I was intimidated not only by his good looks but by his towering frame, which I guessed to be about six feet two, and his slim, fit physique. "It's nice to meet you, too. I hope we get a chance to work together." It didn't come out as confident as I'd like, but at least I hadn't made a fool of myself.
"I'd like that." He put his hands on his hips and waited politely for us to move on. It was obvious he was very busy, but he wasn't rude at all. I glanced over my shoulder as Carlisle led me away. There was something different about Edward. Something I liked.
That day at lunch, I decided to pick Angela's brain. "So, tell me more about the guys in M&A." I tried to make it sound as though they all interested me, but it was really just Edward.
"Assholes," she muttered with her mouth full. "Well, most of them, anyway. Edward's nice. So are Jasper and Emmett if you get them out of the office. They get a little consumed with themselves when they're at work."
She didn't need to elaborate; I'd witnessed it firsthand. But I was encouraged when she said Edward was nice. I was a pretty good judge of character, and I liked him immediately. I would have been disappointed if my initial impression was wrong.
Later that week, I was scheduled for training on a business model I'd be using. I'd had so many training sessions all the information was starting to blend together, and frankly, getting a little boring. It had been exhausting. Despite the information overload of the week, I perked right up when Edward walked into my office and announced he'd be the one to train me.
Looking back, I remember that meeting so well. I got a chance to see what he was like, and what I saw impressed me. Besides being extremely handsome, he was very easy going and smart. He had so much expertise, and I tried not to let it intimidate me. He made it easy on me by being patient and helpful all throughout the training, and there wasn't an ounce of pretense about him. That was the beginning of a friendship that would be the most significant one I ever had. It was as if one minute we were strangers and the next we were best friends. I don't remember getting to know him. I just remember meeting him, and then in a flash, he became my everything. We just clicked.
We had lunch after the meeting and became inseparable ever since. It was to the point that when I'd walk into a bar or somewhere to meet my friends, they would automatically look over my shoulder for Edward. It was a foregone conclusion we were going to be together.
I had always been somewhat of a tomboy growing up and had close guy friends so it wasn't unusual for me. Edward was great fun to be with and made me laugh harder than anyone I'd ever known. We had the same taste in music, food, sports and dry sarcasm. He looked out for me at work and let me know all the pitfalls and where to go for help, but I usually went straight to him if I was having any issues. We had each other's backs and looked out for one another. He could always be counted on to pose as my boyfriend to fend off unwanted advances from drunk guys at bars, and I would do the same for him when the girls fawned all over him. The role play worked me harder than him - the girls were relentless.
Emmett and Jasper, who actually were a lot cooler than my initial impression led me to believe, bugged us constantly, asking if we were secretly hooking up. All our other friends did the same. It wasn't that I didn't want to hook up with him, but he always talked about how he wasn't looking for anything serious, and he was too important to me to waste on a fling. Plus, by the time I realized I could sleep with him, we were already great friends, and it was almost too late.
Things went along with us being best buddies for six months. I was his "date" to parties, and he was mine. It was nice. It was easy.
One day, when we were out at The Tavern with our friends watching the baseball playoffs, Angela's curiosity about our relationship got the best of her, and she cornered me. "What's up with you and Edward? I see the way you look at him."
I rolled my eyes. "You're drunk." I was the queen of deflection, and honestly, I was sick of everyone asking me about it. Why couldn't they understand we were just friends?
Angela didn't seem fazed. "I might be drunk, but you're in loooove." She raised her eyebrows at me knowingly.
I shook my head and nervously took a sip of my beer. It was one thing for her to insinuate I wanted to sleep with Edward, which I was used to by now, but it was a whole other thing to say I was in love. Just thinking the word made me twitchy.
I'd been in love once, and it had ended disastrously. I shuddered thinking about walking in on Jake and Leah in bed doing things only farms animals should engage in. That thought made me unusually irritable.
"I'm not in love with Edward," I said adamantly. "Why does everyone give us such a hard time?"
She cocked her hip, not giving up. "Look, I know you guys are friends. That's awesome, but it's so obvious there's more there. Don't you want to explore it? I mean, don't you have enough friends?"
"What's wrong with us being friends?" I asked defensively, still feeling disgusted by the thought of my previous disaster of a relationship, and unwilling to discuss changing the nature of things with Edward.
She shrugged. "There's nothing wrong with being friends. If that's really what you are. But you aren't. He looks at you the same way you look at him. Just pay attention, and you'll see what I mean. It's inevitable, in my opinion."
I gave her my best "don't be ridiculous" look and walked past her. "I'm getting another drink."
"Hey," Edward said, grabbing my arm as I passed the table where the rest of our friends were sitting. "You okay?" He could tell I was rattled by my interaction with Angela.
"Yeah, I'm just getting another drink," I lied. "Want one?"
"Sure. I'll go with you." He stood and we walked through the crowded room up to the bar. I leaned on the bar, giving myself a little cleavage to get the bartender's attention. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
"It pays to have a friend with such a nice rack," Edward said softly in my ear.
Ordinarily, I'd have brushed this off, but Angela had messed with my head, and suddenly it felt intimate, forbidden. I felt his eyes on me, heavy and intense. His breath tickled the hair on my neck, and I could smell his shampoo. Friends weren't supposed to be close enough to smell shampoo. I felt flustered and uncomfortable, but I had to admit there was a piece of me that liked Edward noticing me.
I wasn't sure if it was the alcohol, or Angela, or what, but I became hyper-aware of Edward. All night, I noticed how attentive he was to me – how our legs touched under the table, and how he made a point to be close to me.
Was it possible he wanted me? And what if he did? What then?
A new song came on, and Edward grabbed my hand, pulling me to stand. "We're dancing."
I loved dancing with Edward. He had great moves, and he always made me feel as if I did too, even though I definitely wasn't known for my dancing prowess. We always had fun dancing together. But this was different. He was behind me and put his hands on my hips, dancing so close to me I could feel the heat of his body and the bulge in his jeans. I was unprepared for how sexual it felt. My heart raced as he pulled me against him. His fingers splayed on my hip, gripping me, holding me close. I was suddenly burning up.
I tried to make light of the situation, so I turned around to face him and leaned up to yell in his ear over the music. "Keep that up, and the rumor mill will get started. You know how our friends love to talk."
Edward smiled and grabbed my hips, pulling me close again. "Let them talk."
If I thought it was intimate before, this was over the top. His breath was warm on my cheek, and his gaze was intense and lustful. I could feel all of him against me and didn't know how to handle it.
"I…gotta go," I mumbled, as I pulled free of his grasp and walked off the dance floor to our table to grab my purse. Edward was freaking me out with his sensual touches and heated stares.
I was having a full on meltdown, complete with fictitious conversations running through my head, playing out every possible scenario and outcome. I must have looked crazy as I chastised myself for being so paranoid, telling myself to get a grip and pull my head out of my ass.
"Where are you going?" Edward asked, following me as I practically ran from the bar. "What's going on with you?"
I waved him off, not able to look at him. "Nothing's wrong. I just need to go home. I think I drank too much."
He grabbed my arm and spun me around. "Tell me what it is."
I avoided eye contact, feeling thoroughly uncomfortable with this new tension. I knew, though, that he'd never just drop it, so I had to be convincing in my story. "Sorry if I'm being a spazz. I didn't sleep well last night, and I think I'm going to crash early."
He seemed satisfied with my answer, and let me go. "Call me tomorrow?"
I smiled meekly and nodded, and then turned and walked down the sidewalk. I rubbed my hand on my forehead, wondering how I'd gone from normal to bat shit crazy in a matter of hours.
I fell onto my bed with a swoosh and a loud sigh. Why did this have to happen? Why did Angela have to plant the seed? I was fine! Things were fine! I smacked the bed in frustration at Angela and the whole situation.
I must have fallen asleep at some point because I woke up to the sounds of my roommates coming home. I hoped Edward told them I left. I felt a glimmer of guilt that I had run from the bar so fast without saying goodbye, but I honestly could not have stayed there another minute.
I closed my eyes again, but that was short lived as there was a knock on my bedroom door.
I really didn't feel like talking - they'd probably just grill me anyway - so I pretended I was asleep. I heard the door open and close slowly, and then footsteps coming toward me. I smiled internally thinking how nice it was to have friends who cared so much. I felt the bed sink with the weight of someone sitting down and then soft fingers in my hair, brushing it away from my face.
Every hair on my body was on end. This was not one of my roommates coming to check on me. The familiar feel of Edward filled the room, and I was in a full panic. He was here, in my room, touching my hair with a gentleness reserved for boyfriends and husbands.
God, why did I have to think that? I was losing it.
"Bella," he said softly as he leaned over me, one of his hands still in my hair as the other came to rest by my head. "Are you asleep?"
I didn't dare move. He was inches away from my face, and I knew if I moved, he'd move, and I wasn't ready to find out just how that would work.
He inched closer, and I was sure he could hear the beating of my heart. I simultaneously wanted him closer and farther away.
"I wish you wouldn't have left like that," he whispered, almost as a confession. Then his lips touched my cheek and lingered for a minute. I could have probably convinced myself this was just a friendly kiss, but he lingered a little too long, and I knew. Something had changed between us.
"I'm glad you got home safely. Sleep well," he said softly.
He stood and slowly walked out of my room, shutting the door quietly behind him, leaving only my tingling cheek and my pounding heart in his wake.
I avoided him the next day at work. I couldn't look him in the eyes and talk to him with any sense of composure. I was still reeling, and I couldn't pretend I hadn't felt the shift in energy between us. Plus, at work there were always curious eyes and ears, ready to pounce on a new rumor, and that was the last thing I needed. Between trying to avoid my best friend and the fact that I couldn't get him out of my head, work went by painfully slow, and by 4:00 p.m., I had to get out of there. I made up some excuse about a headache and bolted out the door before anyone else saw me.
There was a deep ledge right outside the living room of our apartment, which was located on the second floor of a converted 4-story industrial building. The ledge had just enough space to sit comfortably out in the open air and not worry about falling. It was where I went to think, and I really needed to think.
I lifted the window sash and climbed onto the ledge. I sighed, feeling at peace for the first time in twenty-four hours.
My mind was all over the place as I thought about Edward. I would be lying if I said I hadn't noticed how hot he was. It was one of the first things anyone noticed about him. But I had dismissed my initial attraction in favor of getting to know him, and over time, I saw so much more. I came to see him as my quirky best friend. He was the person I confided in, the person I had the most fun with, and the person whose opinion I valued above all others. His looks were just icing on the cake. But last night at the bar, when Edward was grinding up against me, and whispering compliments in my ear, my quirky friend became my hot, irresistible friend.
I closed my eyes and banged my head against the wall. I felt the cool concrete against my back and thought about what had happened and my reaction. Things had made sense before, and I knew where I stood, but all of a sudden everything had changed and gotten confusing as hell.
We were always playful and danced closely, but dancing with Edward the night before had been different. Edward seemed more flirtatious and was pushing unwritten boundaries. I replayed our interactions over the course of our friendship, and the questions kept coming to me. Had I missed signals before? Had my conversation with Angela made me hyper-sensitive? I didn't think so, but what did it mean? What if he never wanted anything more than to get laid? Could I deal with that? What if we dated, and he got sick of me and we broke up? What if he wasn't my friend afterward? Above everything else, I definitely couldn't deal with losing my best friend.
I was definitely looking differently at our relationship. He made me feel things I didn't realize I felt, or thought I had successfully closed off. Fuck, I wanted him, and it felt so wrong to admit. But then, it didn't. And that scared the shit out of me. I couldn't deny my feelings any longer.
I knew I couldn't avoid him forever, but I had no idea what I was going to say. Somehow "Hey, I know we're best friends, but I kind of have feelings for you," seemed ridiculous. I had no idea how he would react, but I knew we needed to talk.
"There you are." Edward's voice shocked me from my meltdown.
I looked over my shoulder to see Edward leaning out the adjacent window with his arms above his head holding onto the window frame.
The muscles in his arms flexed, and his shirt rose up to reveal his trim waist and toned abs. He looked so fucking good, which wasn't helping. I let my head fall back onto the wall because I had no idea how I was going to deal with this. I was literally shaking.
He held up his keys in his hand. "You gave me a key. I hope you don't mind."
I shook my head and sighed.
"You left pretty quick last night. That's not like you."
I fiddled nervously with the seam of my jeans. "I know."
"Was it something I did?" His voice had a hint of fear in it, and I knew then that he'd felt the tension on the dance floor, too. It wasn't just me making something out of nothing.
"No," I lied.
"Are you sure? I mean, one minute we were dancing, and the next…"
I sighed. "No, I'm not sure about anything." Might as well get this conversation going. Prolonging it was only going to make me miserable.
"Will you at least come inside?"
I slapped my hands on my knees to rally myself, and then I crawled back through the window.
Edward leaned up against the wall with his foot flat against it and his arms crossed – a defensive position. He was expecting me to be angry with him. I could see it in his eyes. It gave me an odd sense of comfort to see that he was struggling with what happened too. "So? You gonna tell me what's up?"
I leaned up against the wall next to him and mimicked his position. "When we…uh…shit this is hard."
He pursed his lips and nodded. "Tell me." He was obviously waiting for me to take the lead in this conversation.
I tucked the hair behind my ear and fiddled with the zipper on my hoodie, desperate for a way to cut the tension in the room. "When we were dancing…"
He stared up at the ceiling and ran his fingers through his hair. "Yeah…sorry about that. I don't know what happened."
I turned to face him, still leaning against the wall and suddenly gathering my strength and confidence. I hated seeing him so unsure. I wanted to make him feel better. "It seemed like it should have been weird…but uh…I kind of…I mean…I liked it. A lot."
With the weight of my confession off my shoulders, I felt calmer, despite being incredibly nervous about his response and what it would mean.
He turned to face me, and his proximity made my skin tingle and my insides knot up. Every nerve ending in my body was on alert as I watched his expression and body language for any hint of what he was thinking. This was new, but I was ready to embrace it, to put myself out there.
"What are you saying, Bella?" His voice was smoother than it normally was, seductive. He licked his lips and put his elbow up against the wall, leaning his head against his hand, letting down his guard.
I was flustered seeing him look at me like this, all sexy and man. Gone was the quirky side of him. In its place was a confident sensuality. He seemed really engaged in what I was saying, and that gave me the confidence to continue. Maybe this would be okay.
I reached out and grabbed his belt buckle with my new found courage, and both our eyes went to my hand. "I liked feeling you so close." I gently tugged on the belt loop to bring him closer. Without raising his eyes, he stepped forward until his knee was between my legs and our legs were intertwined. This was more intimate and close than we'd ever been, and my heart was pounding. All I could think about was how it was going to feel to kiss him. Would it be like kissing my brother? What if one of us didn't like it?
He took his arm off the wall and brought it to my neck, his fingers sliding along the side until they came to rest at the back. His other hand slid around my waist, and he pulled me closer into him. I knew he had a nice physique, but I swore I could feel every muscle, and it was even better than I thought it'd be.
It seemed as if everything were in slow motion. His fingers gripped my hoodie as he kept my body where he wanted it – flush against him. He inched his face closer to mine, achingly slow, tilting it as he got closer. I wanted to scream "just kiss me already!" By the time his lips touched mine, I didn't know how much more I could take.
The kiss was slow at first, just pecks and soft touches. He was feeling me out, awaiting my response. I was hungry for more, so I reached up and pulled him even closer, deepening the kiss. He responded passionately, moving with ease and skill. I'd heard rumors that Edward was a good kisser, but nothing compared to the reality of it. It was as if he anticipated exactly what I needed and handed it to me on a silver platter. I couldn't help the audible sigh that escaped me because he felt so damned good.
"God, Bella," he said, pulling away only long enough to move to my ear and neck, leaving soft kisses as he went. "I've wanted to do that for so long."
Wait. What? How long?
"You have?" I asked, leaning back and looking him in the eye in disbelief.
He chuckled and rested his forehead against mine, his arms wrapping tightly around my waist. "Of course. You didn't know?"
I bit my lip. "No…I mean…I had no idea you felt that way about me. You're my best friend!"
"And you're mine." He moved back to kissing my neck, but I didn't want to let it go.
"How long have you felt that way?"
He didn't stop what he was doing, he just answered in between kisses. "A while."
"Oh." I wanted more answers, but I couldn't think with him kissing me. "God, that feels good."
He smiled against my skin as his hands roamed my back and sides. I felt like my knees were going to buckle.
"Can we go to your room?" he asked, his lips not stopping their assault.
Yes! My room. Excellent idea. God, his hands!
I grabbed his hand and led him through my apartment to my room. I tried not to over think things on the way. It felt right. I wanted this. I wanted him.
Thankfully, I didn't have much time to over-analyze the situation because the minute we got into my room, Edward kicked the door closed and became much more aggressive. He had my hoodie and my shirt off and was working on my bra before I knew what was happening. Things were happening so fast, but I was reveling in it. He made me forget everything else except how incredible he felt.
I pulled him by the belt loop to the bed, as we kissed and laughed at the awkwardness of our movements. We were clumsy as we stumbled over our discarded clothes, trying not to separate and stop kissing. I fell onto the bed on my back, but instead of coming with me, he stood, watching me with lustful eyes. I became self-conscious under his intense gaze and tried to cover up with the sheet, but he stopped me.
"Don't you dare use that sheet to cover up your beautiful body." He pulled the sheet from my trembling fingers and reached for the button of his pants, slowly undoing them, his eyes never leaving mine. I smiled because he could put me at ease faster than anyone else. I unbuttoned my own pants and lifted my hips to slide them off, taking my underwear with them.
He rested his hands next to my face on the bed and slowly lowered his body on top of mine. Feeling him skin to skin was like sensory overload. My mind didn't know what to process first – his warm skin, the firmness of his muscles, or his hard cock, which was pressed against me. He sighed as our bodies came together, sliding his knee between my legs, his face directly above mine.
"You're so beautiful, and you feel so fucking good." His voice was shaky, and I could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He was as nervous and excited as I was.
I spread my legs and wrapped them around him as I pulled him closer with my arms. "I never let myself consider this as a possibility…but now that we're here…"
He interrupted me with a kiss that showed me just how badly he wanted this too. His body stiffened as he ground his hips into me. His hands were all over me, caressing my breasts, gripping my back and my ass. I could feel how hard he was, and I needed more.
I reached down between us and grabbed his cock, which caused him to hiss and shiver. "Oh fuck, Bella…"
I smiled, liking what my touch did to him. "I want you inside me," I whispered in his ear as I slid my hand slowly up and down his length.
He gently moved my hand away and then slid a finger inside me. I was so aroused that it slid in with ease, igniting a fire inside my body. I threw my head back and pushed down into his touch. "Just like that…" I moaned.
I writhed underneath him as he moved his finger inside me, whimpering when he withdrew entirely. But before I had the chance to protest, he lined up and pushed into me.
I gasped at the intensity of it. His strong body pushed forward until he was buried deep within me. The look on his face and his held breath let me know he was trying not to come right then.
"Jesus…" he uttered between clenched teeth.
He still wasn't moving, so I reached up and played with the hair at the base of his neck, forcing his eyes to me.
"Hey, it's okay. It's just us."
He rested his forehead on mine. "I know…it's just that…I've wanted this…are you okay?"
I smiled. He was adorable when he was flustered. "I'm perfect."
He returned my smile and slowly pulled almost all the way out of me and then pushed back in. "God, you have no idea how good you feel." His voice trembled, and he let out a shaky breath as he ground his hips into mine.
I let my hands slide down his back to grip his ass as he established a slow, deliberate rhythm. I closed my eyes and relished the feel of him. He was so much better than I could have imagined. "More," was all I managed to say.
"Open your eyes, Bella," he said with authority. I obliged. He wore a cocky grin. "You want more?"
I nodded and let out a small moan as he thrust into me with a fervor I hadn't experienced before. I clutched his back, quickly approaching my release as he continued the furious pace. With each thrust, I was closer and closer until it finally hit me like a tidal wave. He followed behind me, and we both lay in a tangled, sated heap as we recovered.
He rolled off to my side and pulled me into his arms. "You're amazing."
I ran my fingers along his cheek, noticing for the first time how truly beautiful he was. My overactive mind started up again. I had a brief moment of doubt and looked down, wondering what this meant for us.
Edward, true to his nature, read me like a book and lifted my chin, so I looked at him. "This is a good thing. You're not sorry, are you?"
I thought about it for a split second. "No, I'm not sorry. I just don't want to lose you…"
He squeezed me tightly. "This isn't a game for me. You aren't going to lose me. I know everything there is to know about you, Bella Swan, and I want it all."
I burrowed into his chest, amazed at how much my feelings had changed. Was it really only yesterday when Angela planted the seed that led to this moment? Was it possible for my feelings to have changed so dramatically in such a short period of time? When I thought about it I realized that my feelings hadn't changed – I had. We had.
Angela was right; I had enough friends.