Chapter 22

Bella smiled at the hostess as she was led across the dining room to a small table where Alice was waiting for her. It was a very rare occurrence for Bella and Alice to get the chance to have lunch together somewhere other than school or at their home, but since both their classes had been cancelled that afternoon they were using the time to their advantage.

"Hello," Bella stated before kissing Alice's cheek in greeting. "I'm sorry I'm late, but traffic was terrible."

"No big deal," Alice answered as she placed her menu on her lap. "I'm surprised you got Felix to agree to the last minute change in schedule."

Bella laughed as she looked around finding Felix sitting at a table not far from where they were sitting. "He wasn't thrilled, but Emmett is taking charge more and more. He understands my need to have a life outside the walls of the White House. Plus it's just lunch not international travel."

"I guess he also has to be more flexible now that Edward is in the picture," Alice added with a knowing smirk.

"Good afternoon, ladies," the waiter said as he approached the table interrupting their conversation. "Can I start you out with something to drink?"

"I'll have a strawberry lemonade," Bella replied before Alice asked for the same.

After the waiter had left Alice's attention returned to Bella. "Don't think you're off the hook, missy," Alice warned. "After we order I expect a complete rundown of what has happened over the last few days, because there's obviously much more than you have been telling me."

"I've already told you everything," Bella answered. "So I have no idea what you're talking about."

"I'm not blind," Alice continued. "You've never been one to wear a turtleneck. So I bet just about anything that you're hiding a hickey under there."

"Alice," Bella gasped in astonishment as her cheeks turned bright red confirming what Alice had said.

Bella was unable to respond as the waiter returned with their drinks and took their orders. Bella shifted uncomfortably in her seat hoping her blush would go away. She really thought that the turtleneck she was wearing would be much less conspicuous than wearing a scarf or covering it with foundation. But Alice always had a knack for figuring things out.

"You better start talking," Alice warned as she leaned forward waiting for the story to begin. "Because I didn't know you two were that far in your relationship."

"We're not," Bella whispered as the blush intensified. "We've only been official for two weeks, but when I'm with him it feels like we've been together for so much longer. Almost as if I've known him my entire life."

"What I don't get is how you've had enough alone time for there to be need for a turtleneck?" Alice questioned curiously.

"We've been left alone for the past few days. My mom has been out with my dad campaigning, and Edward was given a few days off before the campaign crunch this week. My dad wants the staff that's joining him on campaign trail to be well rested," Bella explained.

"I heard about that from my dad too," Alice responded as she ate a piece of bread. "So what have you done with the residency all to yourselves?"

"We've had dinner, watched movies, and talked," Bella replied purposely leaving out the details she knew Alice craved.

"You obviously did a lot more than that," Alice interjected as she rolled her eyes.

Bella has no idea how to reply to Alice's probing questions. It was true that there was more than just talking going on, but it wasn't really what Alice imagined. She had gotten to know more about Edward over the last few days, but their physical relationship was still very new.

Bella was once again saved as their food arrive, allowing Bella to think back to just how the hickey has appeared on her neck the night before.

Bella had been completely exhausted from a long day at school and from doing research for a paper when she heard a knock on the door. She figured it was just someone from her service informing her of the nightly switch off so she didn't even bother checking her reflection when she opened the door.

"Surprise!" Edward stated with a wide smile.

"Edward!" Bella almost shrieked. "What are you doing here? "

"I thought I'd keep you company," Edward replied before leaning down and pressing his lips to hers. "Are you surprised?"

"Pleasantly," Bella whispered before pulling him inside and kissing him again with more fervor.

"If this is the greeting I get when I surprise you, I may have to do it more often," Edward added with a wink.

"Why didn't you call?" Bella asked as she inwardly chastised herself for being dressed in sweats and not wearing any makeup. "I'm not even dressed properly."

"Are you going out somewhere?" Edward inquired with an arched eyebrow.

"Well, no," Bella replied.

"Then you look absolutely beautiful." Edward didn't allow her to finish her thought. "I didn't expect to see you in some couture gown. You told me you were spending the night doing homework, so I was well aware what I was walking into."

"So you don't like me in couture gowns?" Bella teased playfully as they sat down on the couch.

"I haven't seen you in a couture gown, but I may have to rectify that situation soon," Edward responded. "Are you still working on your paper?"

"No, I think I've done all I can do in one day without burning myself out. We only need to turn in a rough draft on Monday, so I should be good."

"That's good, at least I'm not interrupting," Edward said as he played with a strand of Bella's hair that had escaped the messy ponytail she was wearing.

"You're always a welcomed distraction." Bella smiled before shifted to her knees on the couch allowing her to close the small gap between them.

Their eyes met briefly before they kissed their arms wrapping around each other in a tight embrace. Edward's body turned towards Bella's as the kiss intensified. Bella stayed on her knees as she straddled Edward's legs bringing them closer together. She was thankful that the residency was empty allowing the two of them privacy without the threat of being interrupted.

The two broke away from each other when they had no other choice but to breath. But even that didn't stop Edward's lips from trailing down from her lips to her jaw and then her neck. It was uncharted territory for Bella, but she couldn't bring herself to think of anything but the feel of Edward's lips on her skin and the softness of his hair at her fingertips.

Bella's daydream was interrupted as Alice cleared her throat. "You're not going to say a word, are you?"

Bella shook her head as she ate one of her fries. "It's not what you think, Alice. We haven't had sex." She whispered the last few words looking around to make sure no one had overheard their conversation.

"I know that, silly," Alice answered with a laugh. "I'm just teasing you. I know you'll tell me once things get that far. Plus I don't need details, I'm just happy for you."

Bella sighed in relief as the two quietly spent a few minutes eating their lunch. "How about things with Jasper?"

"Well, we talked the other day for about an hour, and he confessed that he has feelings for me," Alice replied with a wistful smile.

"Alice, that's great!" Bella smiled widely. She knew that Alice had been waiting for what seemed like forever for Jasper to even notice her. "Why didn't you say something before?"

"There's nothing else to say," Alice continued with a slight frown. "He takes his job too seriously and feels that if we pursue anything it may compromise my safety."

"So why tell you then?" Bella inquired.

"He's noticed for a while my subtle flirty clues, and he felt bad ignoring them. He wanted me to understand where he's coming from." Alice pushed her now mostly empty plate away.

"He does have a point, but can't he ask for a transfer?" Bella noticed the sadness in Alice's face.

"He wants me to move on and not wait for him. But, I don't think I can do that, Bella. I have this strong feeling that he's 'the one,' and I can't just move on from that."

Bella stayed quiet as the waiter returned to pick up their plates and leave the check. She didn't know what to tell her friend, because there was really nothing anybody could tell her.

"You won't be the Vice-President's daughter forever," Bella finally commented, trying to find a silver lining in the situation.

"What if my dad goes on to run for President in four years?" Alice added. "You know as well as I do that it's a definitive possibility."

"That's four years down the line," Bella pointed out as she put her credit card in the black folder and handed it to the waiter. "A lot can happen in four years."

"I guess," Alice replied with a sigh before changing the subject. "Are you leaving tonight or tomorrow to Florida?"

"Tonight," Bella responded. "I have three speeches tomorrow in South Florida. And I'm going to take Sunday to relax at the hotel maybe even use the pool. Then Sunday night I'm attending a rally with my parents in Central Florida."

"Edward is going with you, right?" Alice inquired as the check returned.

Bella nodded as she signed the receipt. "Even though we're going for official business, I feel like it's a mini-vacation of some sort."

"It sounds like fun, minus the speeches and stuff," Alice added with a laugh as the girls stood up their agents doing the same.

"I'm just glad everything will be over on Tuesday. I don't know how much campaigning and stuff I can really take," Bella stated as they walked across the restaurant to the two SUVs waiting for them outside.

"I'll see you Tuesday then," Alice replied before giving Bella a hug. "Have fun this weekend."

Bella watched as Jasper ushered Alice into the car before she did the same. It was obvious that the two had feelings for each other, but they were stuck at an impasse. Bella had no idea what she could possibly do to help them. It was ultimately Jasper's decision. The only thing she could really do was wish them as much happiness as she had with Edward.

A/N: I know I haven't updated in forever, but I'm trying my best. Life doesn't seem to slow down long enough for me to write or even sit down to post. I hope to get better on that, but know that I am trying.

This chapter had some Alice and Bella bonding time, as well as a look into Bella's and Edward's relationship. Thoughts on Bella and Edward? Alice and Jasper? The trip to Florida? I love reading what you guys think and your predictions. It's loads of fun!

As always, thanks for reading!