Disclaimer:

All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Stephenie Meyer owns anything and everything relating to Twilight and its characters. No copyright infringement is intended.

The original aspects of this story—all of the original characters, plot, names, nicknames are all the property of the author—eternally addicted. Unauthorized use of such material is plagiarism. In simple terms—it's theft. I am in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise mentioned in this story. No reproduction, downloading, copying, reposting, or any other kind of redistribution of this story or its contents is permitted without my express written authorization.


I know...it's been entirely too long since my last update. All I can say is I'm sorry. Life is a bit crazy right now and I'm doing my best. I promise to get the chapters to you as fast as I can. Hopefully the chapter makes up for the wait.

As always my eternal gratitude goes to My-Bella and Hope4More!

Enjoy!


September 25, 2011

*{Bella}*

"Go away," I mumbled into my pillow upon waking to the sound of my phone ringing. All I wanted to do was roll over and go back to sleep. That was until my brain started to come out of its sleep induced fog and I remembered what had happened over night.

Please tell me it wasn't a dream.

I quickly grabbed my phone and saw it was Edward. With a smile that was so wide it was almost painful spreading across my face, I picked it up.

So not a dream.

"Hi," I murmured, sounding as sleepy as I still felt.

"Good morning, Bright Eyes," he said in the same dreamy tone he had when waking me up back in the DR. And just like it had then, it made me feel all warm and tingly inside now.

"Mmm, morning," I returned, trying to sound more awake than I had before.

"You were still sleeping," he replied regretfully.

"Mmm hmm," I responded, followed by a long yawn.

"I'm sorry I woke you. I waited as long as I could force myself to. Do you want me to call you later so you can go back to sleep?" he asked sounding adorably flustered. His voice held a hint of sorrow for waking me, but was also filled with excitement to talk to me.

"No. It's okay. I'm glad you called. What time is it?" I fought off another yawn and rubbed my eyes in an effort to rouse myself further.

"Almost eleven."

"Wow. I can't believe I slept so late."

"Still not a morning person, I see," he teased.

"Nope."

"Hmm," he sighed. "You know nurses have to pull all kinds of weird hours sometimes, Miss Swan." His voice had taken on a more serious tone, but I could practically hear him fighting the smirk on his face with his next comment. "Sure you can hack it?"

"Better than you can shoot a basketball," I shot back at him, loving the fun banter we had going on. It reminded me of the plane and bus rides when we'd first met. I had missed it—him so much.

"Are you doubting my skills on the court again?"

"Yup."

"Well I'm just going to have to show you then."

My heart sped up in excitement and desire over the thought of watching him shoot hoops. Pulling my 'e' pillow to my chest and smiling widely once again, I accepted his offer. "I'm holding you to that. But just so you know, I wasn't impressed with what I saw last night. You are going to have to knock my socks off to prove it."

"I accept your challenge, Miss Swan, and I will prove my skills later on, but for now, let's get to why I called."

"I'm all ears. Do tell."

"I seem to recall making a promise to show you around campus and some of my favorite places in town. So I was wondering if you'd like to do that still and then maybe grab a late lunch?" he asked.

"Sounds great. But I do have a paper I should work on so I need to get to the library later before they close. What time were you thinking of beginning our date?"

"Is an hour too soon? And I have homework as well. How do you feel about studying together?"

"Nope. An hour is perfect. And I'd love that."

"It's a date then. I'll see you in an hour, Bella." I could hear the happiness in his voice and could picture his face with that lopsided grin of his.

He's not the only one who is much happier today.

I couldn't wait to spend time with him. "See you then, too."

I hung up the phone and nearly fell flat on my face in my haste to get out of bed. How I managed to stay upright after getting tangled up in my blankets was beyond me, but I did.

Forty-five minutes later, with only fifteen minutes to spare, I was ready to go—except for the fact I couldn't decide what to wear. I knew I didn't have to get dressed up for Edward, but I wanted to look cute while still being comfortable since we were likely going to be doing a fair amount of walking as he showed me around.

Pulling my closet door open, I momentarily considered calling Al, but I knew I didn't have enough time to explain everything to her and still be ready to go on time.

Got to wing it this time, girlfriend. He liked you just fine in tanks and shorts all summer, so why are you freaking out?

Today is different.

Sure, he hadn't cared much about my attire all summer, but there wasn't really much of a choice then. It was make do with what you had and the situation we were in didn't really allow for me to care about what I was wearing. Today was our first official date and despite the fact we'd known each other for a few months now, because it was our first official date, it was a special day.

I started going through my clothes a couple hangers at a time, sliding them from one side of my closet to the next.

"Why that shopaholic, sneaky little pixie, best friend of mine," I muttered out loud when I discovered several pieces of clothing hanging in the back with the tags still on them. Clothes I was positive I hadn't purchased for myself, which meant there was only one place they could have come from. Al had put them there.

Which means Sky probably knows too since she undoubtedly let her in here.

Not having time to worry about it right now, I pushed it aside for later. Beginning my search again, I noticed a blouse I liked and pulled it out. After having a closer look at it, I decided the sheer floral top would look cute with my purple camisole under it.

Quickly putting the two tops on with a pair of jeans and my comfortable black flats, I brushed through my hair one last time, leaving it to hang in its natural waves. Next I made sure I had removed everything I needed to work on my paper from my backpack and placed it in my tote bag. Once I added my phone to my purse and Edward's flannel shirt to my bag in case it got chilly later, I deemed myself ready.

"Hey where are you off too?" Sky asked as I passed through the kitchen section of our shared suite.

"I have a date," I told her with a huge smile.

With a skeptical and shocked expression on her face, she scratched her head and asked, "Um, Bella. I know that you and Edward sorta had it out last night, but are you sure this is what you want to do? I mean you haven't even given him a whole day to respond to the ultimatum you gave him."

"Yep. I'm very sure. Wanna know why?"

"Uh, yeah, sure," she replied hesitantly.

"Because, silly, my date is with Edward." Somehow my smile grew even wider. So wide I could almost feel the muscles in my cheeks straining.

The look on her face was priceless. Her mouth opened and closed a few times before she finally sputtered, "But…how…I don't… when..."

Placing my hands on her shoulders, I said, "I don't have time now, but to make a long story short, I went for a walk last night, ran into him, we talked and worked things out. I'll fill you in on the rest later. Okay?"

"Okay," she said with a nod of her head, at the same time still looking utterly confused.

"I gotta go. He's probably waiting for me downstairs." I quickly kissed her on the cheek and darted out the door.

Sure enough, the second I walked out the building's door, there was Edward leaning against his jeep with his arms crossed over his chest, waiting for me.

Damn he looks good.

A smile lit his face the instant he saw me. However I was too mesmerized to return it due to the image of him standing there, rendering me incapable of doing anything more than staring at him as I somehow continued to make my way down the walkway to him. How he made a simple shirt and cargo shorts look so good was beyond me. Most people dressed to look better, but not Edward. No, he made his clothes look better. And the fact he had his Baltimore hat on backwards and was sporting his sunglasses only added to the effect.

I stopped about a foot in front of him. "Hi," I said, finally able to return his smile.

"Hi," he replied, taking my hand and pulling me closer to him. His other hand grasped my hip holding me in place while he leaned in and placed a lingering kiss on my lips. "Ready to go?"

"Yep."

"Then let's go."

He gave me another quick peck on the lips before he opened the jeep door for me. He held my hand as I maneuvered the high step up into his vehicle. After shutting my door, he jogged around to the other side and climbed in himself.

"So," I said as we headed down the street. "Where are we off to?"

"I thought first I'd show you around campus a bit. Then I believe you challenged me to knock your socks off with my basketball skills." Pausing he glanced my way briefly, flashing me that sarcastic smirk of his that was also ridiculously sexy. Then with his eyes back on the road he continued, "And after that I thought I'd take you for a late lunch to one of my favorite places down by the harbor.

"Sounds great," I told him, smiling widely.

"Glad you approve, Bright Eyes." He reached over and linked our hands together and rested them on the console between our seats.

Our first stop was the athletic center. "Did you bring me here to show off your so called basketball skills?" I teased.

"No," he said taking my hand in his and leading me into the huge arena. "I just wanted to show you where it was that I played. This building is still one of my favorite places on the campus."

I could completely see his love for the game. He almost had this faraway—wistful look in his eyes, but they still shone brightly with how much it meant to him.

"Tell me about when you played?"

"Really?" He turned to face me, searching my eyes for sincerity or to determine if I was just asking for his sake.

"Yes. Of course I do." My free hand slid up his toned chest until it was resting over his rapidly beating heart. "Basketball was a huge part of your life and you obviously still love the game. I want to know everything about you. So, yes, I want to know about when you played," I told him honestly.

"You really want to know?" His voice had risen a few octaves and was dripping with excitement and surprise. So much so, he almost sounded like a little kid who had just won a prize at a carnival.

"Yep."

"Okay then." He let go of my hand and backed up a few steps before slowly turning in a circle as he looked all around the court. "That right there," he said, pointing to the banners hanging from the rafters. "That is probably my best memory here ever."

"Which one?" There were several banners hanging from the ceiling rafters commemorating different milestones for more than just the basketball team so I wanted to be sure which one he was talking about.

"The championship one from 2009. That was the last year I played."

"Wow. What a way to go out. After ending a season like that it must have made it even harder to quit. I think I'd be hungry to get another championship."

"It was hard, and they guys on the team didn't make it any easier on me either. They gave me shit about winning the title and wanting to quit. Some of them even went so far as to try and tell me I'd be ruining the team if I left. I can't tell you how guilty I felt at first when I knew for certain what I would do. That I would leave the team.

"See I didn't decide I wasn't coming back for sure until shortly before the next season began. The coach knew it was something I was considering, but urged me to take the summer and make sure I didn't make a hasty decision."

"That makes sense," I replied. Seeing the mask of sadness that came over his face, I could tell it was still hard for him to talk about. "You okay?" I asked moving closer to him. I wrapped my arms around his to steady me as I stretched up as far as I could on my toes and pressed a kiss to the underside of his jaw.

What a jaw it was too. And the layer of scruff covering it only made it even more sexier.

"Yeah. I'm good," he murmured against my hair as he slid his arms around me and pulled me against him before burying his face against my neck and kissing me where my shoulder and neck met.

I sighed internally and smiled softly to myself, remembering how he used to kiss me there all the time over the summer—it still sent tingles shooting to my toes.

After a couple of seconds he continued, "I don't regret my decision to quit at all, I know I made the right choice. But that doesn't mean I don't miss playing sometimes."

"Tell me about winning that day," I urged.

"It was one of the most amazing days of my life," he recalled with a huge grin.

Edward then told me about some of the special moments from that game, how it had come down to the last few minutes of the game for them to win. He told me how amazing it had been to win the state championship that year and how devastating it had been when he realized during pre-season workouts the following year he needed to quit playing and concentrate on his medical degree.

I was surprised to learn that every now and then he still worked out with the team just for fun. He had kept in touch with the coach and knew several of the guys on the team so they allowed him to practice with them once in a while to brush up on his skills.

"It sounds awesome. But can I ask you a question?" It was hard for me to keep a straight face knowing what I was about to ask him. However, I just couldn't help teasing him again, partly because it was fun to do, and partly to lighten the mood that had been dampened a little by his missing the game he obviously had loved to play.

"You just did," he said playfully, flashing me that cocky grin of his.

"Ha ha." I gave him a playful shove.

"Well then what's your question?" he asked.

"When was the last time you practiced with the team?"

I watched his facial expression as it went from one that was thinking about my question to one that was curious as to why I had asked and one that was up to something. He had this almost scary—not in a bad way scary—but mischievous look in his eyes that had me leery of what his retaliation might be once he knew why I had asked him that.

"Not since the end of last school year. Why?"

"Just curious," I said, looking around and shrugging my shoulders while trying to sound as if it was nothing.

You're so busted, Bella. You can't even look at him and he knows it. Better get ready to run, girl.

"Why, Bella? Tell me why you wanted to know. You must have had some reason for wanting to know." He started to take slow, measured steps towards me at the same time I backed up. The intensity in his gaze deepened and I felt like I was his prey being stalked for his next meal.

"Well you know, you just seemed so rusty last night…I figured it had been a while." I couldn't hold back at all when a teasing, wide, toothy grin took over my face.

"You think so? Huh?" He took another step closer.

"Mmm hmm."

I let my gaze slip from him only long enough to blink and that was all the time he needed to attack. Suddenly he lunged for me like he would a basketball he was trying to steal from a teammate, catching me off guard and causing me to shriek loudly when he barely missed me. I took full advantage of his miss and took off running across the court.

"You can run but you can't hide, Bright Eyes, and I will catch you," he called as he chased me around the court. I had a feeling he wasn't running as fast as he could in order to try and wear me out or give me a false sense of security before he moved in and caught me. I didn't care though, we were having a blast and that was all that mattered to me as the sounds of our laughter and shoes squeaking on the floor echoed all around us.

I was grateful and saddened when he took advantage of me tripping over my own feet and saved me from falling. Grateful he'd caught me and saved me from being hurt, grateful to be in his arms too. But saddened because our little game of cat and mouse had come to an end—it was so much fun just letting loose with him like this. Rarely had we had any free time over the summer, so I was seeing a completely different side of Edward and I liked it.

Figures my two left feet would be my own undoing.

Just as I'd used his miss earlier to get away from him, Edward made full use of his opportunity to not only catch me as he'd promised, but to pin me on the floor and tickle me.

"Say you're sorry, Bella," he demanded as I squirmed and kicked from his fingers digging in for another assault on my ribs.

"Okay," I panted as I tried to breathe.

"Okay?" He wrapped his hands around my wrists and held them to the side of my head as he leaned over, his face hovering just a couple of inches from mine.

"I'm sorry," I said through my still heavy breaths.

"Promise?" He leaned in even closer.

I nodded, just barely able to do so with his lips nearly touching mine now.

"Hello?" we heard a man's voice call from somewhere we couldn't see, just as Edward's lips brushed against mine. "No one is supposed to be on the court without permission."

"Shit," he mumbled, hopping up and holding his hand out to me.

"Hello?" we heard again a little louder this time telling us whoever it was, was getting closer.

Edward grabbed my hand. "Come on, run."

We bolted for the door as fast as we could. I was shocked I hadn't tripped over my own feet again given Edward's legs were so much longer than mine and could take much longer strides as well, which had him practically dragging me behind him. We made it to his jeep, climbed in quickly, and sped away. Apparently even though the doors were unlocked, no one was really supposed to be on the court unless they were there on official school business. Despite my fear over nearly getting busted for trespassing, I couldn't find it in me to be upset with Edward when he'd admitted he knew we shouldn't be in there given how much fun I was having with him.

In fact when he stopped and parked back near the middle of the campus we both burst out in a fit of laughter over the situation until I found him leaning over. He reached up and cupped the back of my neck, pulling me to him and giving me the kiss he'd intended back on the floor of the athletic building.

Any disappointment I'd felt over not getting the kiss then was washed away as he kissed me hard and deeply, causing my toes to curl in my shoes.

The boy definitely had kissing skills.

After a few more quick pecks to my lips, we got out and walked for a while. Edward talked a little more about basketball and promised to take me to a game this year if I wanted him to. This time he was the one sporting a big toothy smile when I told him I'd love for him to do that.

We walked some more and he showed me the dorm building he'd been housed in his freshman year as well as some shortcuts for getting across campus faster if I was on foot. Afterwards we made our way back to his car and then hopped back in the jeep where he drove us to the basketball court I'd found him at last night.

"You ready to see my skills now, Swan?"

"You betcha, Cullen."

He had that up to no good glint in his eyes again, telling me he was up to something as he grabbed his ball from the back of the jeep and came around to where I was still sitting in my seat.

I followed him onto the outdoor court and watched as he dribbled the ball a little.

I crossed my arms over my chest and leaned back against the fence. "Ok, Dr. Cullen," I sang, "Let's see your mad basketball skills."

He nodded and jogged to the end of the court farthest from the net while dribbling the ball. He stopped and turned around to face the net. After dribbling it in place for a few moments, he glanced over at me and winked. Then focusing his attention back on the net, he took off quickly, dribbling the ball back down the court. Jumping with the ball at the last minute, he slammed it into the net with one hand, while hanging from the rim with the other, before he let go and dropped to the ground.

All I could do was stare as Edward went on to make a few other shots. He was giving me my very own, personal highlight reel, and it put to rest any doubts I had about his ability to play basketball. Not that I'd really had any to begin with, it was just fun to tease him. Besides I was reaping the rewards of that teasing by getting to watch him.

And what a sight it was. Can a person spontaneously combust? 'Cause if so, I was doomed.

"Um…what?" I asked when I noticed him walking towards me. I'd been too dazzled by watching him I hadn't even heard him say anything the first time.

"I said, it's your turn now." He had a cat that swallowed the canary grin on his face.

"You…you want me to make those shots? Um, Edward, have you lost your friggin mind?" I shook my head back and forth slowly, trying to comprehend that he really wanted me to do this.

"Nope." His grin got wider, and more devious too.

"Did you forget already that I was tripping over my own feet just a little while ago?"

I swear I'll never tease him again!

"Oh no, I didn't forget. And instead of making those shots, I have a better idea," he suggested.

"What's that?" I asked with him now standing so close to me I could feel his warm breath on my face as he gazed down on me, watching me intently.

"You're going to play a game of horse with me."

"I am?" I squeaked.

"Yep. Unless you're too afraid of my stellar basketball skills," he offered, pressing into me as he hooked his hands on the fence on either side of my head.

"I don't suppose you'd take a rain-check?"

"Nope."

"Okay," I said, trying to muster some sort of confidence, knowing this wasn't going to end well.

He stepped back and then turned back to the court. Still somewhat in a fog that I was actually going to take part in any kind of a sport, I just stood there.

Like that's really why your head is all fogged up.

"You coming?" he asked when he noticed I hadn't moved.

"Yeah," I said, finally able to move my feet and walk over to him. "But in all fairness…to give me any sort of a chance at this…I think we should play Mississippi or how about Streptococcus…maybe something even longer," I suggested playfully.

"Are you using medical lingo against me, Miss Swan?"

"Only if it's going to work."

Edward cracked up laughing. "Come here," he said, still laughing as he took my hand and pulled me to him. "Perhaps you I should give you a token of good luck."

"Like what?"

"This," he whispered, pressing his lips on mine, kissing me so long I was gasping for air when he pulled away. "And this," he said softly, taking the Baltimore hat off his head and placing it on mine backwards like he'd done last night.

How the hell was I supposed to focus after that? All I wanted to do was collapse into a puddle of goo.

*{SIB}*

"Pouting doesn't become you, Bella," Edward teased after nipping at my bottom lip that was sticking out as I sulked over losing our game of Mississippi.

I'd spelled out the whole word before he'd gotten to "Miss".

He didn't miss, that was the problem.

He slid his arms around me and pulled me closer to him.

"You cheated," I mumbled against his chest as I pretended to whine and act upset over him winning.

"That's insane, woman," he retorted with a chuckle.

"It's not."

"Then tell me how I cheated. How did I cheat when I clearly made each one of those shots? You can't fake the ball going through the net, Bright Eyes," he argued, though there was a definite hint of laughter in his words.

"You dazzled me," I replied, my face still buried in his chest. Even somewhat sweaty his scent was still intoxicating. Maybe even more so.

"I what?" He snickered.

"Dazzled me." I snorted as the words came out, practically giving myself away.

He full on laughed, shaking us both.

Nudging my chin up with his finger, he forced me to look up at him. "Please, please explain to me what it is I did that…that dazzled you."

"You kissed me," I murmured, not wanting to sound ridiculous and fighting to keep a straight face.

"I kissed you?"

"Mmm hmm."

"Well last time I checked kissing you was a good thing. Has that changed?" he asked.

"No," I answered while shaking my head at the same time. "That's the problem."

"Okay, you are going to have to explain this to me, Bright Eyes, because I am lost."

I sighed and quickly spit it out. "You kissed me senseless rendering me incapable of functioning, therefore leaving me dazzled, a puddle of goo, unable to have even a remote chance at even coming close to tying you, let along beating you."

"Is that so?"

I nodded.

"Well then there is only one thing to do then," he declared and before I could get a word out, his lips were on mine again in another searing, toe curling kiss that left me breathless once again.

So worth losing.

Feeling secure in his arms, I let myself slump against him as I basked in the after effects of his kiss. "You did it again." I said, my giggles muffled by his chest.

"I did?" he asked trying to come off as if he didn't know.

I nodded.

"Well then now there really is only one thing left to do. You've left me no other choice." His body shook with his laughter.

"Wha—" My words were halted with him bending over and hoisting me over his shoulder. "Edward!" I screeched through a fit of giggles as he wobbled me slightly while trying to pick up the ball too. "Put me down," I ordered, smacking him on the rear.

"Nope, not yet. You claimed my kisses leave you unable to function so this is the only way I can make sure you get in the car safely."

I squirmed in an attempt to get loose but it was pointless with his next threat. "You keep squirming, Bright Eyes, and I'm going to tickle you again."

"That's not fair, Cullen," I huffed.

He laughed and then flipped me over, right into the seat of the jeep. "Just keeping you honest, Swan. You're the one who said I didn't play fair. I'm just proving your point."

"Sure, sure," I shot back at him.

"Quit pouting. You're too pretty to pout," he ordered, placing a quick peck on my lips before running around and hopping into the driver's seat. "Ready for lunch?"

"Yes. I'm starving," I admitted.

"Lunch coming right up," he said, starting the jeep and then shifting it into gear.

"I thought you said we were headed to lunch," I said when Edward parked his jeep along the harbor about fifteen minutes later. There wasn't a restaurant in sight as far as I could see. "I know you said we were eating by the harbor, but I don't see where."

"You'll see," he said jumping out of the jeep and hurrying around to open my door before I did it myself.

I nodded though I was still confused since all I saw was the harbor and pier, with many boats docked along it on one side of the walk way that was right in front of us and on the other side rows of several condo buildings. I imagined the view for those that lived in these buildings was quite pretty and picturesque.

"Come on," Edward nodded in the direction of the walkway. "How about a short walk along the pier before lunch?" He grabbed my hand and placed a quick kiss on my cheek.

"Okay," I replied with a smile, curious to see what he had up his sleeve. I didn't know how I knew he did, maybe it was the hint of a sly smile he had trying to break out, causing his lips to twitch slightly, but I was fairly sure he was up to something.

A short time into our walk, Edward had removed his hand from mine and slipped his arm behind me and tucked his hand snugly in the back pocket of my jeans, and tucking me snugly against his side. It felt as though I fit perfectly in the space—like it was molded exactly for me.

Being so much shorter than him I couldn't exactly mimic his position, but I was able to wrap my fingers around one of his belt loops and hold on to him just as securely as he was me.

Every once in a while Edward would lean over and kiss the top of my head, pull me closer to him, or brush his thumb across my rear. It was amazing, just being with him like this. We walked along the rows of condos that sat right on the water. We talked about the different boats we saw coming and going, and those that were sitting in their docks, along with pointing out different things that caught our attention as we took our time, strolling along without a care in the world.

Our walk led us to a row of condos that jutted out into the harbor like a peninsula and as we rounded it and made our way around to the other side, I saw a restaurant across the water.

"Is that where we're going for lunch?"

"Where?" he asked as he stopped and looked around like he couldn't see the bright blue awning and bright blue umbrellas shading the tables located outside of the restaurant.

"There!" I exclaimed and pointed to it. "You big goofball," I said as I swatted at him. "Don't tell me you can't see it."

"Oh, you mean Captain James' Crab House?" He was trying to act like he'd just noticed it, but I wasn't buying it.

"Yes."

"Nope, that's not it," he stated smugly. "Actually," he said, stepping behind me and placing both his hands on my shoulders and turning me back to face the row of condos behind us. "We're eating there." He leaned forward until his chin was nearly resting on my shoulder and pointed to the last condo in the row.

"What do you mean, there?" I turned my head to the left so I could see his face.

"We're having lunch at my place." That cocky glint was back in his eyes and he had a smirk that matched it.

"Your place? This is where you live?"

"Yep, and I hope you're hungry cuz I have a huge lunch prepared for us."

He took my hand again and started tugging me along with him.

"Wait," I ordered, pulling back on him.

He stopped and spun to face me.

"You made lunch for us?"

"Sure did."

"When?"

"This morning while I was waiting to pick you up. Is that okay? I mean if you'd rather go somewhere we can go back to the jeep and—"

I cut him off by stretching up on my toes and pressing my lips to his. It meant so much to me that he took the time to put together a lunch for us. It was so much more than us just going somewhere. So much more personal and caring. This day was going even better than I could have dreamed it would.

"It's perfect," I assured him as I ended the kiss. Without another word he smiled and we made our way to his condo.

Just as we reached the door, I paused as a wave of nervousness came over me. It didn't go unnoticed by Edward.

"Hey, what's wrong? We really can go somewhere else if you want," he offered.

"It's just…"

"What? You can tell me anything, Bella. I hope you know that." The playful, teasing glint he'd had in his eyes a few moments ago was now replaced with love, warmth and concern.

"Are your parents here?" I asked, my teeth grasping my bottom lip and pinching it tightly.

"I'm not sure about my mom, but my dad is at the hospital. Why?" But then as if he'd read my mind, he added, "If you're worried what they think about what happened between us, don't. I can promise you they were on your side all along. They don't harbor any bad feelings towards you. I promise."

"Really?"

"Really," he assured me, pulling me against him for a tight hug to help calm my fears.

We stood there for a few seconds in each other's arms until Edward finally stepped back and dug his keys from his pocket and let us in the door.

The warm pressure of his hand resting against the small of my back helped to alleviate some of my unease, but not completely. I still had a small amount of worry churning through me over seeing his parents again. It wasn't that I didn't believe what Edward had told me about how they felt…I had come to know what wonderful people Carlisle and Esme Cullen were over the summer. I guess it was just so hard to accept how they could support me when my own parents didn't.

"Welcome to Casa de Cullen," Edward said, holding the hand of his free arm out, waving it like he was a furniture showroom salesman.

He'd probably make a small fortune just by flashing any female customers that killer smile of his.

I took a few steps forward, brushing my hand over the soft cloth top of the large pool table that sat in the center of the room as I looked around. The room was tastefully decorated, but not over the top. Everything in the room fit perfectly together. From the oversized, overstuffed, white sofa and chairs, to the fireplace, big flat screen TV, to the welcoming window seat. It gave off a warm and cozy, relaxing atmosphere.

"This is nice. I like it. Is this where you watch all the big sports games? Your beloved Orioles?"

"Yeah."

Something in his voice sounded a bit off. Not bad—just…unsure. I turned around to face him and was met with him watching me with a peculiar look on his face. "What?"

Moving closer to me, he reached up and brushed my hair back off my forehead. Running his fingers through it, he lingered at the ends as he twisted a soft curl around his index finger. My eyes slid closed as I relished in the sensation of him playing with my hair. I loved it.

I heard Edward sigh softly. "You're not the only one with insecurities and worries."

My eyes popped wide open upon hearing his words.

"What do you mean?" I asked, searching for his hand with mine and twining our fingers together tightly when I'd found it.

He pulled me over to the sofa. Sitting down, he gently grasped me by my hips and steered me onto his lap when I tried to sit next to him.

Without having to be prompted he took a long slow breathe and began. "It's a bit surreal to see you here…In my house. Don't get me wrong, it's amazing…I…things have just changed so fast for us. I didn't know if we'd ever work things out, much less if I'd ever get to bring you here."

I nodded, understanding exactly how he felt. "I think that it will probably take us both a little time to…I don't know…let our guard down…relax completely. These past few weeks haven't been easy for either of us."

"No they haven't," he agreed.

"But what's important is that we both want this to work. We want to be together and are both in this all the way. Right?"

"Absolutely," he confirmed. The blazing determination in his eyes told me he was absolutely in this with me one hundred percent. He wanted it just as badly as I did. However, his next question surprised me a bit. "How long did you lay in bed last night before you fell asleep?"

"A while." After Edward had dropped me off, I'd immediately crawled into bed, but I had laid there staring out my window for at least an hour, maybe more. Although, once I'd drifted off, I had slept like the dead until hearing my phone ring this morning. Resolving things with Edward had allowed me to sleep deeply for the first time in weeks and I must have really needed the rest to have slept so long. "Why?"

"Just wondering…How long you laid in bed thinking about everything we talked about." His eyes were boring into mine as if he was inside my head seeing what I'd just been thinking about.

How did he know?

"Um…how did you—"

"Know?" he interjected.

"Yeah."

He sighed again, smiling softly. "Because I did the same thing, Bella. I kept going over and over our talk in my head so many times, trying to make sure that I had said everything that I'd needed to. That I'd wanted to, to make sure that you believed me and know how sorry I am."

"You did. And I promise I do," I assured him, hearing the insecurity in his voice and seeing it in the way his eyebrows furrowed tightly, causing the skin between them to wrinkle.

Softly I pressed my fingertips against the lines to smooth them out. This time his eyes closed under my touch and his features softened again, the lines fading away.

"Good," he whispered and opened his eyes. "I don't want to dwell on it, because I want for us to move on to happier times, but I hope you know that if at any time you have any more questions, all you have to do is ask. I'll tell you anything you want to know, Bella."

While I was grateful that he was openly sharing how he felt now, I didn't want him to feel like he had to keep apologizing to me constantly. All that would do was fuel the guilt he had over his actions and keep the wounds open, preventing us from truly moving on.

I decided to nip that problem in the bud now. As I'd just told him, I knew it would take time for us to move on completely, but I wanted it to start now.

"Same here. I'm sorry too, Edward. And I think now that we've both agreed that we are going to be completely honest with each other from here on out and that we want to put what's happened behind us, one of the first things we need to stop doing is apologizing."

He started to say something, but I shushed him quickly by sliding my fingers over his mouth so I could finish first.

"I'm not saying we should forget the mistakes we've both made. That would only leave us open to repeat them. And while I'm sure there will be times when we both might makes mistakes again, I don't think it would be good for either of us if we both feel like we need to say 'I'm sorry' constantly. I think it would make us both feel like the other one doesn't fully believe or forgive the other and we need to convince them still. If we both truly accept each other's reasons and apologies for what we've done, then we need to leave what's in the past, in the past. Does that make sense to you?" I asked hoping, he understood what I meant.

"Yes. And you're right."

"So in the name of moving on, we both agree no more apologies for what's in the past. Agreed?"

"Agreed."

"Good. Now I think you should feed me that lunch you promised me before I turn into an angry, hungry bear," I suggested to lighten the mood.

"Mmm, how about a kiss first?"

"You never have to ask to kiss me, Edward," I whispered, leaning closer to him, sliding my hand around to the back of his neck, wanting to grasp the soft hairs at the nape of his neck, but only being able to scratch them through the short buzz cut he had.

My eyes remained locked on his as he gazed at my mouth for a few seconds. Raising his gaze to mine he whispered, "I love you."

"I love you too," I was barely able to reply before his warm mouth was covering mine.

His lips were warm, soft and firm as they began to explore mine. His hand crept up my arm, over my shoulder as it came to a stop, cupping my jaw. His thumb caressed my cheek a few times before he slid his hand down along my neck to the back, holding my head in place as he angled his head to deepen the kiss. As his mouth opened against mine, and his tongue traced my bottom lip before slipping inside, I wrapped both of my arms around him as I turned to straddle his lap. I met his tongue with mine and suddenly I was feeling more than I ever had with any other kiss we'd shared. It was like I was on a magic carpet ride, soaring through the sky.

What had started as a gentle kiss had quickly become demanding on both our parts as our lips and tongues continued to move in harmony. Edward's hands drifted down my back as he encased me in his arms and pulled me to him until there was no more space between us. I whimpered at the same time he groaned from the close contact of our bodies. The reactions we were both beginning to feel caused us both to pull back simultaneously. With our foreheads still resting against each other's, we panted trying to catch our breath.

When I finally regained my bearings, I whispered to him, "Have I told you how much I've missed kissing you?"

"No, but it's duly noted and I promise to make sure you never miss it again," he returned still somewhat out of breath.

"Oh yeah? That a promise, huh?"

"Damn right it is." He placed a soft chaste kiss on my lips. "Bella, you should be kissed every day, every hour, every minute. And I will make it my mission to see that it happens."

"As much as I love the idea of that, how will I ever get anything else done if our lips are permanently attached? I mean every minute?" I teased.

"Okay, so maybe every minute is a bit much. But every day and every hour possible…that is doable."

"You got yourself a deal, Cullen. Now can we please eat?"

We both laughed when on cue my stomach growled.

"Let's go." He held my hand as I climbed off his lap and pulled him off the sofa and waited for him to lead the way to the kitchen.

Edward kept hold of my hand as he led me up the stairs to the main living level of the condo. At the top of the stairs, the room opened to a large combination living, dining and kitchen area. The space was brightly lit by the sunlight pouring in through the large window and the wide sliding glass doors located on the wall beside it. All three areas were beautifully decorated without being stuffy or overdone. It was very much Esme—classically well-done, but still completely comfortably warm and inviting.

"You guys have a thing for white sofas," I playfully accused, noticing the slightly more modern large white leather sectional and matching ottoman in the center of the living room area.

"My mom does," he replied. "She loves to change the look from time to time and by using the white sofas, she can do so without having to buy new furniture. At least that's what she claims."

"Makes sense. You'd only have to switch out the stuff like pillows, rugs, and some other accessories and presto, you have a whole new look."

"Look at you. If becoming a nurse doesn't work, you can become an interior decorator," Edward suggested playfully.

"Um…no. I was just channeling Al for a minute. I've seen her mom do the same thing at their house countless times. Al would always be right in the middle of it helping her mom pick and choose things, which inevitably led to me listening to her go on and on about it every time," I said shooting down his idea instantly. "I have a hard enough time coordinating my clothes to even think about putting together a room design."

His lips curved into the one sided smile of his that I loved so much. "Guess it's a good thing you'll be a great nurse then, huh?"

I smiled back at his confidence in me. "Yep."

"Eat first or five cent tour?" he asked, walking further into the room.

"Eat."

"Okay, then you have to go sit over on the couch and promise not to peek over this way while I get things set up," he ordered.

"Why? It's just lunch?"

"No it's not, Miss Swan. It's our first official date and it's actually another first for me. I've never fixed lunch or any other meal for any other girl before, so let me have my minute of fun and you just go sit your cute little rear end down and enjoy letting me. Okay?"

"Yes, sir," I said with a salute. I walked over to the sectional and picked up a magazine sitting on the ottoman to occupy myself while Edward did whatever it was he needed to, to get our lunch ready. It also occurred to me then that it appeared his mom wasn't here. I knew I'd have to see Edward's parents sooner or later, but I wanted things to be more back to normal for Edward and me first. You're overreacting, Bella. His parents are on your side. He told you that himself. Remembering what Edward had said,I relaxed and sank back into the soft couch with the magazine.

"You're tired, Bright Eyes." I felt Edward's warm breath on my neck as I heard his warm voice next to my ear.

"Please tell me I did not fall asleep," I begged softly.

"You did. But only for a few minutes." He kissed my cheek softly. "You want to take a nap? I can put everything back in the fridge."

"Ummmm…" I hummed as I actually contemplated the idea of a nap for a few seconds. "Eat. I really am, really hungry."

"Then come on," he urged.

I stretched and stifled a yawn as I stood up. "Where's the food?" I asked when I noticed the counter and table were both empty.

"This way," he said, taking my hand and leading me out the sliding glass doors that were now open.

Geez I must have really been out of it to have not heard him walking past me or opening the doors.

Stepping out the doors, I was pleasantly surprised to see Edward had set up a picnic of sorts for us. Spread on the floor was a plaid blanket, a picnic basket, and small cooler along with a couple of cushions for us to sit on.

"Edward this is…"

"Cheesy? Dorky?" he asked.

"No. It's perfect," I said, smiling up at him as I shaded my eyes against the sun and sat down on the cushion in front of me, holding my hand out for him to join me.

"I hope you like what I made," he said as he popped open the cooler and began taking out the food. "I made turkey and bacon sandwiches and we have some leftover potato salad that my mom made for lunch yesterday."

"Sounds yummy."

Edward flipped open the basket and pulled out plastic plates, forks, cups and napkins. "Okay so we have lettuce, tomato, and mayo for the sandwiches and soda or water to drink and if there is something else you'd like, I'm sure we probably have it in the fridge."

"I'm good with all this. Tomato and mayo would be great and some soda too."

Edward handed me the toppings and as I added them to my sandwich, he spooned out some potato salad for us both on our plates, then filled both our cups with Mountain Dew.

We ate in comfortable silence for a few minutes before Edward spoke. "I love sitting out here, watching the boats come and go.

"It's really great. I can see why you'd like it so much," I agreed, looking out over the harbor. The view really was awesome, not to mention quiet and relaxing.

After we finished eating, we cleaned up and Edward took me on a tour of the rest of the condo. I absolutely loved his parents' room. It was so warm and inviting and I could totally picture Carlisle and Esme relaxing in it.

Their room had a large fireplace similar to the one in the living room that was flanked on both sides by built in bookcases. The exterior wall of the room was also similar to the living room in that it had a large, almost ceiling to floor window and a balcony too. Both were softened by matching valances and draperies. Two large chairs sat across from the fireplace and a beautiful sleigh bed was on the wall behind them. All of this was tied together by a large floral print rug.

"They have an even better view of the harbor than the living room balcony does," Edward said softly as he stood behind me, looking out his parents' balcony doors.

"Yes they do," I agreed, leaning back against him.

"You ready to see the rest?" he asked, resting his chin on the top of my head.

"Yep."

Next Edward showed me the guest bedroom and then his room. His room was a drastic contrast to his parents' room. Edward's room was decorated in bold colors—red, gray, white and black. One end of his room held his large king sized bed, with a flat screen TV mounted to the wall across from it, and the other side had his desk, with Baltimore Orioles hanging on the wall, and a few bookshelves filled with books, magazines, a baseball glove and a trophy. The room was simple and completely Edward.

Edward sat on the end of his bed and pulled me so I was standing between his legs. His hands crept up my legs until they rested firmly on my hips.

"So what do ya think?"

"I like it. It's very you," I answered him honestly, even though I had a little voice in my head nagging me to ask him a question that I wasn't sure I wanted the answer to.

By the way he peered up at me with one eyebrow slightly cocked, I had a feeling I hadn't hid what I was thinking.

I was right.

"But?" he asked. "Tell me what you're thinking. I can see there is something on your mind."

I nodded.

"Bella," he said, turning me and tugging on my jeans so I was forced to sit on his leg. "Hey, remember what we promised each other." His open hand raised my chin, aligning my gaze with his. "Honesty…communication—you can tell me anything."

"It's stupid really… I don't even know why I'm thinking it…"

"Obviously it's not stupid if it's causing you to think so hard. So why don't you tell me and let me put your mind at ease about whatever it is."

A half snort, half snicker flew out of my mouth uncontrollably as I wondered if his answer would really put my mind at ease or not.

"Well..." he prodded for an answer, letting the word hang.

I blew out a loud breath and then just ripped the band-aid off so to speak, spewing the words out so fast it'd be amazing if he would understand me. "I was just wondering how many girls you've had here before me."

"That's what's bugging you, huh, Miss Swan?" He was smiling so big, his eyes were nearly squinting as he held my gaze and chuckled lightly. He was clearly entertained.

If he laughs at me I am not going to be happy.

"Mmm hmm," I mumbled, nodding at the same time, then looking down at my hands and picking at my fingernails, regretting I'd even asked.

In a move so fast it caused me to gasp, Edward flipped me over, pressing me onto his bed as he hovered over me. "Guess you'd like me to answer that question for ya?" he teased, skimming his nose along my neck, sending shivers down my spine from the sensations it caused in me.

Is he trying to soften the blow by getting me all worked up and distracted?

"It'd be nice of you to," I managed to squeeze out while trying to maintain some sense of composure.

Damn man knew exactly what he was doing to me.

"Would you believe me if I told you none?" he asked placing a soft kiss to the area just behind my ear.

Finding my voice I replied, "If you were being honest I would."

He rose up far enough so he could look into my eyes. "It's the truth, Bella. You, my Bright Eyes, are the first."

"Honestly?"

"You don't believe me?" he asked pulling back a little, his voice taking on a slightly more serious tone.

"It's not that, it's just…I don't know…hard to fathom."

"Why?"

"Why?" I repeated his question in my head.

"I guess because obviously I'm not your first girlfriend. I'm not your first anything, and you're older, so…I just figured…"

"Nope. But I have brought other girls here—to the house. The girlfriend before my last one came here. It was only once and she stayed downstairs in the game room, we weren't here for long. We had dropped by for me to pick something up and then left. After that day the relationship never lasted long enough for me to ever bring her back. She never even met my parents."

"Okay. What about the others?"

"My last girlfriend, Leah, she was here at the house several times."

"But never here in your room?" I asked, this time I was the one quirking my eyebrow at him.

"No."

"Why?" I asked, shooting his last question back at him.

"To be honest, now that I think about it, I'm not really sure. It may be because most of the time we were dating, one of my parents were usually here. She came over for dinner from time to time, to hang out, do homework…normal stuff couples do. But for some reason I just never felt the urge to show her my room and she never asked. I don't know…I can't really explain it. Maybe I had some weird sixth sense about my relationship with her and I knew somehow that it wouldn't last. All I know is, I never felt the need to bring her in here."

"Were you ever in her room?" I asked hesitantly, again not really knowing if I really wanted to know, but unable to stop myself from asking.

"Yes. Her parents were gone a lot and you could say we took advantage of that fact."

The look in his eyes told me he was torn over wanting to be honest with me and his dislike over telling me the details of his past relationship, if only so he didn't hurt me by sharing his past.

It was my turn to comfort him. "It's okay. Your past is your past. It's not like I didn't know that you'd had other girlfriends…that you have more experience in that area."

"I'm glad you feel that way." He leaned down and kissed the tip of my nose. "And yes, Bella, you aren't my first for a lot of things, but you are the first girl I have ever loved and that's a very important first in my opinion."

"It is." I whispered.

He watched me for a couple of seconds, I think seeing if there'd be any sign of doubt in my eyes. However he must not have seen any, because a second later his lips were on mine. This time his lips were tender, loving and I could feel him pouring all his emotions into the kiss, reassuring me of everything he'd just said. It was my favorite kiss by far, and I never wanted it to end.


I've posted pictures of the area along the harbor where Edward and Bella were walking as well as pictures of Edward's condo over on my blog.

Thanks for sticking with me. Let me know what ya think!

See ya next time,

EA