Pick a Pic Challenge

Title: Salvation in a Box Won Judges Choice in Pick a pic challenge!

Penname: Savannavansmutsmut

Banner #: 89

Pairing: Edward and Bella

Genre: romance

Rating/Disclaimer: M

Summary: Edward wants out of this world, but Bella won't let him leave.

EDWARD

Gas, it was all I needed to get. I could leave this place. I knew a cliff; fast, high, dead. I'd be forgotten, the pain would be gone. I just needed to get gas.

"Here," a girl suddenly appeared and pushed a puppy into my hands and then walked back to a crate by the convenience store. She picked it up and started jogging away.

"Hey, you, you forgot your puppy!" I shouted after her.

She smirked at me and just waved, continuing down the street.

"Get back here! What am I supposed to do with this?" I held up the fuzzy thing.

She didn't even look back this time. I put the puppy down so I could run after her. I hadn't taken four steps before I heard honking. I looked back to see the damn puppy walking in the road. I weaved through the little traffic there was and grabbed the little shit. As if my day wasn't bad enough, this bitch had to go and make it worse.

I ran back to my car, knowing I wouldn't be able to catch the girl without it. I set the puppy in the passenger seat and started the car up. As soon as the car started moving, it climbed into my lap and started putting its paws on the steering wheel. It started barking at everything we passed or passed us. I rolled down my window, trying to see past the little shit when he let out a high pitched howl that sounded like a catcall. The old lady we were passing gave me a dirty look and shouted, "Hooligan!" shaking her cane at me.

Great, now I looked like a sexual deviant with a thing for grannies.

When I pulled up next to the girl, she just hopped in the car, "So, where are we going?"

"What the hell? We aren't going anywhere. Why are you in my car? I could be a psychopath! You don't just jump into strange men's cars."

"Psychopaths don't save puppies from the road. They also don't let them sit in their laps when they drive," she pointed to the puppy that was now looking up at me as if it was waiting for my response as well.

"Look, little girl…" I started but she cut me off.

"I'm twenty-two. I know I look young, and god knows my brother won't let me forget that I'm a midget, but I'm not a little girl. Little lady, maybe?" she offered.

She sure as hell didn't look twenty-two. "You're not twenty-two."

She pulled out a drivers' license from her bra and passed it to me. "Isabella Marie Swan." I did the math real quick. Not only was she twenty-two, but she would be twenty-three in September. "You sure this isn't fake?"

She just rolled her eyes, "Whatever, do you mind dropping me off at home? My brother dropped me off at the gas station and said he'd pick me up at five, but there's no way I'm waiting for that jerk. He'd most likely forget me anyways."

"Why don't you just call him?"

She laughed, "You didn't go into the gas station, did you? Earl is a freak and anytime I walk in there, he propositions me. Heck, you're good looking; I'll bet he would've propositioned you, too. You could probably get a free tank of gas for a quickie in that nasty bathroom."

"That's disgusting!"

"I know, I don't think they've cleaned it since the Carter administration," she lamented and flopped back in the seat and closed her eyes. "I live on Ninth and Mill."

I guess the best way to get rid of the dog and this girl would be to drop them off at home.

When I got to the corner of Ninth and Mill, I pulled over. "Pink and blue house that looks like a baby shower puked on it." She didn't even open her eyes when she said it.

I spotted the house immediately, she was right, that was baby shower puke. When I pulled up, a man stepped out in a cop uniform. "Hey, Munchkin, did you get all those puppies taken care of?"

"Yup, Mike won't be putting down any puppies today. I got them all safely tucked away in new homes."

"Good girl, I have to get to work, make sure you feed your masses before you head out."

"Sure thing, Chief," she saluted the man and when he walked past me, he pointed to his eyes and then to mine. When he got in his car, I noticed him looking at my plates and writing them down. Great, freaking cop thought I was a criminal. Just wait until he looked up the car and saw the owner was dead. I would bet that was going to freak the fuck out of him.

"Hey, lady, take your dog," I said holding out the fur ball.

"Sorry, can't, that's your dog now," she said walking up her porch. I chased after her, catching the door before it closed. When I stepped inside, I stopped, dropping my jaw. "Shut the door. We don't want these guys ending up in the pound again."

I closed it, feeling nervous. I was surrounded and not all the eyes looking at me were friendly.

If that wasn't bad enough, a giant dog that looked nearly as tall as this chick when it was on all fours came charging in barking.

"Stop it, George, you can't eat him!" Isabella shouted. The dog skidded to a stop, knocking over about six of his cat buddies like a pick-up spare at a bowling alley.

I followed her into a kitchen. She pulled out a big zippy bag and walked over to a trash can. When she popped the lid off it, I could see it was full of dog food. She started scooping it into the bag and then pulled out some rawhide chew sticks from a cabinet, tucking them in the bag as well. I was considering just putting the puppy on the floor and taking off, but George kept looking at it like it was lunch. "Hey, girl, lady, or whatever, you need to take your dog."

She didn't answer, just walked out the back door, waving at me to follow. We were on a screened porch and were surrounded by freaking animals. "What the hell; are you Doctor Doolittle or some shit?"

She opened a storage container and pulled out a pillow-looking thing. She set the bag of food in it and held it out to me.

"Oh no, last time you handed me something, you wouldn't take it back," I held out the puppy proving my point.

"Nope, I'm not taking it back. City says I'm at my limit."

"Now that I can believe. You should get your dogs fixed if you don't want any more…"

She cut me off, "They're all fixed. They're pound rejects, animals that were in the pound too long and were going to be put down. Now, this little one is fixed and has all his shots," she said and shoved the pillow thing and bag of food at me again.

"Look, lady, I can't have a dog."

"Where do you live?" she asked.

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"Can you not have a dog because it's restricted?"

That would be a good excuse, "Yeah, that's it, now take it back."

"Him, what are you going to name him?"

"I'm not naming him!"

"How about Hooligan? I heard Mrs. Sheppard yell that at him. I think it'd be fitting. You both seem a little on the hooligan-y side."

"I'm not a hooligan!"

She started laughing at me. "You know, it's just silly to hear the word hooligan come out of your mouth." She calmed down to a snicker, "Now, tell me where you live. I have deals with everyone and everywhere in town. I'll get the puppy cleared for you."

Okay, obviously that shit wasn't going to work, time for a new strategy. "I'm allergic."

She just shook her head. "Right, I can see you huffing and puffing right before my eyes. It's disgusting the way you look with your skin covered in hives."

Okay, she had me on that one.

"Just tell me why you don't want the puppy already," she finally asked.

"I don't have time to take care of it." And I didn't, but of course, she didn't know when I said I didn't have time, I meant that I didn't have time on this earth because there was a cliff with my name on it.

"No problem, give me your address and I'll swing by and care for little Hooligan." She walked back in the house and monster George was eyeing me and the puppy again. I pulled it closer, hoping he wouldn't snap at us.

"Why is that beast in here with all the cats?" There were only two other dogs in the house besides him and they looked older than dirt. They didn't even lift their heads when we walked in. I wouldn't be surprised if they were dead.

"He likes cats."

"For dinner?"

"Very funny. No, he likes cats, he's a cuddle bug, but the other dogs don't like that. Poor guy was getting depressed, weren't you, George. I keep him in the house with the cats and when he lies down, they swarm around him to cuddle. Now, here's a pen and paper, write your address down and I'll make sure your puppy is cared for while you're at work."

"I don't want a dog!"

"I'm okay with you thinking you don't want a dog, but you're taking that puppy," she pointed at me sternly. "You took the time to save his life from the cars in the road. Now it's time to save his life again. He'll be put down if I take him back to the pound." She took a deep breath and it looked like she was fighting back tears. "I'll take care of him, just please let him stay at your house."

"Can't you find anyone else to take him?"

"I called everyone I knew as soon as I was handed over the ten puppies."

"Ten? Crap!"

"Yup, I was able to find homes for six of them that way, but I still had four. I was able to pawn three off on people passing through. He was the last one. I know just about everyone in this town and if they know me, they have a pet or three," she smirked, "But I didn't know you and you didn't have any sort of pet hair on you, so this one is yours. Just do him a favor and save his hairy little butt."

I looked at the little thing and he seemed way too content tucked into my side. He looked up at me and I swear that puppy smiled at me. He was working his puppy voodoo on me and I didn't know what to do. I couldn't end things if I had this little one. I would have to stay alive and I didn't know if I could handle it.

Then George walked up next to me, his big mouth open and his tongue hung out like he was looking for a tasty morsel. He moved to the side with the puppy and I noticed his freaking mouth was bigger than Hooligan! "Back off!" I shouted at him glaring.

The stupid dog ran out of the room.

"You're really not an animal lover."

"No, I'm not."

"Alright, I'll make you a deal, you take Hooligan now, and you try and find him a home. I'll take care of him while you ask around. I'm sure you run with a different circle of people and might know someone I don't."

I looked down at the puppy again. I wasn't sure who I would ask, but maybe I could find someone and then once I was rid of the little shit, then I could…

"So, do we have a deal?"

"Yeah, yeah."

Her face lit up and her eyes just seemed to glow or something. I couldn't really explain it.

"Just give me your name and address and I'll make sure little Hooligan is taken care of," she bounced excitedly.

I gave her my name, number, and address and then headed out the door. Before I could shut my car door, she stopped me. "I want you to know, I really appreciate you taking him. I know it's just temporary, but he's just too cute to be put down. I know we can find him a home, we just needed more time."

I nodded, not really sure what to say to her.

Then she leaned in and kissed me, just a peck on the cheek, but it was a kiss all the same. When she stepped back, her cheeks were red. "Thanks," she said one last time and ran off into her house. I didn't know what I was getting into, but I was pretty sure Isabella Swan was nuts.

When I got home, I put Hooligan on the floor. He just sat there looking at me, like he was expecting me to do a trick. I put his bed down and when I turned around, he was gone. "Hooligan," I called and felt like an idiot. What kind of name was Hooligan? I walked down the hall and found him in the bathroom. He was pissing on the side of the toilet. "Well, at least you know what this room is for, but you need to take that outside." I looked at the mess he'd left and shook my head. I had half a mind to call up that crazy animal chick and have her come clean it up.

I took the little shit out the front door of my apartment and let him loose on the grass. I had forgotten that my grumpy-ass landlord lived two doors down.

"Hey, is that your dog!" he shouted at me.

I palmed my face, "No, I just can't get rid of it."

"Is it following you?" he narrowed his eyes like he didn't believe me.

"No, some chick handed it to me and wouldn't take it back!" I was getting annoyed.

Instead of getting angry at me, he seemed to calm down, "What's her name?"

"His name is Hooligan," I said pointing to the little golden fluff ball.

"No, the girl's name."

"Something, Swan, I think."

His smile widened and he nodded. "Alright, Hooligan is fine."

"What, really?" I was shocked. I was fully aware that animals were accepted at this apartment complex, but I also knew there was a three hundred dollar pet deposit fee and they added an extra hundred dollars a month to the rent.

"He's a pound dog, and a cute one."

"I don't understand," he had just gone from grumpy old man to, well, creepy nice guy.

"The problem in this town is there are more pets than people. Bella spends her time at the vets, helping to fix animals she collects in traps."

"Traps?"

"Let's just say she's the dog catcher, but not."

Okay, I wasn't getting this shit at all.

"She works at the pound. Her boss is a jerk. The guy he took over for was selling animals to labs to make extra cash. When he was sent up the river, Mike took over. He's nearly as bad as James was. It didn't matter if your pet had tags, he'd pick them up. He loves packing the pound so he can off the animals. He really is a sick bastard. Bella couldn't stand it, so the day before their kill date, she takes them and finds them homes. She was keeping them all at first, trying to get them homes, but Mike found out and reported her to the health department. He's a real piece of work."

I felt something on my leg. I looked down to see little Hooligan stretched with his front paws on me, wagging his tail with a doggy smile on his face. The little shit was doing it again, that doggy voodoo. I let out a sigh and picked him up.

"You know, she's really good at matching people and pets. She doesn't just give them to anyone."

I huffed, "Yeah, right, I was just going to get gas and I got a dog instead. She just handed it to me and ran off."

He smirked at me, "She must've been watching you. She's known for just handing people animals," he shook his head, walking into his place and I heard barking as he closed his door. I wondered if he was speaking from experience.

I took my mutt back inside and decided to find something to eat. I had half a burrito and a ketchup packet. I figured it was good enough and sat on my couch to eat. The puppy started whining so I put my burrito down to feed him. He followed me so closely I almost tripped on the little shit twice. Once I set the food down, he just sniffed it and then took a few bites, still watching me eat.

He came back over to the couch and started jumping at it. I had to admit, I laughed at his failed attempts until he started whimpering pitifully. I picked him up and he got right up in my face licking me. He got the message when I pushed him away, but he still curled into my side.

I dropped my head back on the couch, thinking of what my asshole apartment manager had said. She matched people and most likely had been watching me. Did she figure out what I was going to do? Did she know what I had been planning just by looking at my face? Hooligan rested his head on my lap and I couldn't resist petting him. The fuzzy little thing was growing on me.

The next morning, I woke up to a lady talking in my apartment. I looked at the clock. It was just before noon. "Now, little Ganny, you need to not pee-pee on the floor. Come smell this, don't you want to pee-pee on it instead? You're such a good boy. How is Edward treating you? Is he being a good daddy?" I heard her walking toward my kitchen, so I headed down the hall to see what she was up to. I watched her open my fridge and set something in it. "We need to get your daddy some food. We can't have him starving to death. What do you think daddy likes to eat?"

"I usually eat out. I can't cook for shit."

"OH, MY GOD!" she jumped and fell on her ass. I couldn't help it, I busted out laughing. "I'm so sorry. I didn't know you were here. I had Harry let me in. He knows about the puppy and I told him how I promised to help you with him."

"Nah, it's cool," I waved her off.

I noticed how she was averting her gaze from me, and then I remembered that I was only wearing my boxers. "I'm gonna get dressed," I said pointing down the hall. When I went to the bathroom, it was really clean. I swear even the damn toilet was sparkling and I was pretty sure bachelor's toilets shouldn't sparkle.

After I was dressed, she seemed to not mind looking at me. She gave me a timid smile. "I'm so sorry; I didn't know you were home."

"You cleaned my bathroom."

Her cheeks turned pink.

"Thanks, that was really nice of you."

She shrugged, "So, I was wondering when you want me to come over to take care of little Ganny?"

"Ganny? You can't call him that. It sounds like granny. He's gonna get beat up by the other dogs."

She giggled a little. I found myself thinking she was cute.

I sat down next to her on the couch. "Why'd you give me Hooligan?"

She looked down at her lap. "Well, you looked like you could use a friend, but weren't really into letting strangers in. Dogs are a lot easier to get along with than people," she sounded a little sad.

"Are you speaking from experience?"

That blush came back. "I find it easier to hang out with animals than people. I get why you don't want to be friends with anyone." She looked so damn sad. I felt bad for her. She seemed really nice, a little pushy but nice. I didn't like that she was sad.

I bumped her shoulder, "I think you'd be easy to be friends with, you seem nice. Hell, you cleaned my bathroom. That's enough to make me want to keep you around," I chuckled.

She looked at me with hopeful eyes, "So you really don't mind that I'm here?"

"Nah, it's all good."

The next day, I woke to the smell of bacon. I remembered to put on some jeans before I walked out. I used my clean bathroom and headed for the kitchen. Bella was cooking on my now clean stove. I had never used it. Honestly, I was surprised it worked.

"I hope you don't mind. I noticed your fridge was empty yesterday."

"No way in hell I'm saying no to bacon."

The smiled that lit up her face made my insides feel sick. I knew exactly what it was. I had to look away. I decided to make myself useful and took out the two plates I had. I realized I only had one fork and she was using it to cook bacon. "Where did that pan come from?"

"I brought it from home. I figured if you didn't cook that you probably didn't have a pan."

"I only have the one fork," admitted sheepishly.

"I know. I made toast. We're having bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches. No utensils needed." She brought over my two cups and then pulled out a gallon of milk from the fridge.

"I feel kind of bad; you didn't need to buy me food."

She shrugged, "It's my lunch hour. I needed to eat, too. I figured why not eat with you and take care of Hooligan. How are you two making out?"

"Good, I think. He ain't complaining. I think he figured out I don't like being licked."

Her expression changed for a moment and she looked away with pink cheeks. I shifted in my seat because for some reason, that little expression affected me in ways it probably shouldn't have.

We ate quietly, and it was driving me nuts. I had to say something. "Thanks for the dog."

She looked up at me surprised.

"You were right. I needed something, someone. He was a good fit."

Her whole face lit up and I liked it.

She washed the dishes and put the pan in a cabinet. I guess she was leaving it.

She came over every day after that, always cooking me something and cleaning something else. That feeling in my gut was getting worse and before I realized it, I found myself checking the clock, counting down to when she would show up. Every day she gave me that sweet smile, that pink blush, and I found it hard to keep my eyes off her. The fact that Hooligan would curl up next to me so I looked "adorable" didn't hurt, either. Every day before she left, she would give me a light kiss on the cheek and thank me for taking the puppy and letting her hang out.

I'd sworn I would never get into another relationship, but this was different. This wasn't a quick fuck. This wasn't passionate fights and make up sex. This was different. It even felt different and I was terrified that it would go away.

Bella had been working with Hooligan so he would scratch at the door to go potty. He was doing really good, too. I decided to take him out a few minutes before Isabella came, hoping we would have more time together away from the prying eyes of my neighbors.

We had only been out for a few minutes when he took off. "HOOLIGAN!" I started running after him, barely able to keep him in my sights. When I came around the corner of the apartment building, I about died of embarrassment. My dog was humping another dog, right in front of Bella. "Fucking shit."

"No, just fucking," she answered casually. I had never heard her swear before. My mouth dropped open in shock. She walked over and kissed me lightly, ignoring the dogs that my eyes were locked on.

"I thought you said he was fixed."

"Do you see any balls dangling?"

I shook my head no.

"I'll take her in after my lunch break," she walked over and picked up the girl dog and brought her into my apartment. Of course, Hooligan followed that bitch like the horny dog he was. I couldn't blame him. I was following a nice piece of ass myself, but I wasn't gonna get lucky like him.

As soon as Bella set that dog down, they were back at it and it didn't seem to bother Bella one bit. She went to my fridge and started pulling stuff out to make sandwiches. I touched her shoulder, asking if I could help. I had to admit, I'd been using every excuse I could come up with to touch her lately. She didn't seem to mind, either.

I swear to god those dogs went at it all through lunch and I was shocked they weren't howling in pleasure.

"You look uncomfortable," she said with a smirk.

"Hell yeah I am. My dog's going at it like a porn star and I haven't had any for years."

Her eyes sparkled and she started giggling. She looked at the dogs. "They do have stamina."

I wanted to drop my head on the table.

"So years, huh, how long?"

"What? No way."

"Come on, I'll tell you how long it's been for me."

I was suddenly curious. I didn't know why, but I wanted her to say that she hadn't been with anyone since she met me, even if I didn't have any claim on her. I shifted uncomfortable and finally answered, "Fine."

"A year and a half," she leaned in like I was going to tell her something good, "Well, your turn."

"Two years, I think. It's been a long time."

She just nodded like she was satisfied. That day when she left, instead of kissing my cheek, she kissed me lightly on my lips. I couldn't help the goofy grin that spread across my face when she blushed. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Looking forward to it," I said still grinning. Her answering smile was perfect.

I was feeling like a mooch and decided I should at least take her out to dinner to make it up to her. She had been coming over every day for three months now and I wanted to thank her for keeping me company and feeding me. Dinner seemed the most logical. I just had to get up the courage to do it.

I practiced asking her in my bathroom mirror, trying to ignore the dog at my feet. He kept nipping at the bottom of my pants and finally started pulling at them. "What?" I said turning to look at him only to see Bella standing in the doorway with a smile.

"I'd love to go to dinner with you," she said before I could freak out. Her smile lit up her whole face and she took a few steps so she was really close to me. Her eyes seemed to darken and the tension between us was thick. Her fingers wound up in my hair and she looked to my lips then my eyes. I wasn't waiting for her this time. She had given me light kisses since the day we met. I was done with them. My mouth descended on hers, attacking it like I had wanted to since the day I saw her on my kitchen floor.

I gripped her ass, lifting her and settling her on the counter. When she pulled away, she smirked, "Took you long enough."

I growled at her teasing, kissing and nipping every piece of skin that I could find. She tugged on my shirt so I ripped it off, tossing it on the floor. My hands made it up her shirt. I knew I was moving fast, but she seemed just as eager as I was. She pulled her shirt off before I could even suggest it and popped her bra off like a pro. I couldn't go slowly; as soon as they were exposed, my mouth was on her breasts, sucking them like my life depended on it. She was moaning and gripping my hair as I moved between them. I felt her squirming and realized she was opening her pants and squirming out of them. Jesus, if she kept going like this, I wasn't going to last long. She pushed me back and slid off the counter so she could drop her pants. She started grabbing for mine and there was no way in hell I was stopping her. I went back to her lips, begging her and loving her.

As soon as I had that thought, I started to panic. It didn't last long because her hand found my dick and I suddenly didn't give a shit about anything anymore. I picked her up, wrapping her legs around my hips. "Let's go to my room."

She nodded and we continued kissing. I swear to god there was no pausing as I set her on the bed. I just leaned over her, my body sliding into hers with ease. She moaned my named and bucked up at me.

"Fuck," she was so hot and it had been so long, I didn't think I would last long.

"Harder," she begged and I obliged.

If she was gonna keep panting my name and saying dirty things, I would need to give her a little help.

I licked my thumb and quickly found her clit. She started bucking even harder, her legs pinching my sides. I licked my other thumb and tweaked her nipples.

She wasn't using words and was nearly screaming. Moments later, her body was shaking around me and I was coming fast and hard. I leaned over her, dripping sweat and smiling.

"I've wanted to do that for a while now," she said in a whisper, trying to catch her breath. She pulled my face down to hers and kissed me slow and sweet this time. "We should make this part of our lunch routine."

I couldn't help the smile that split my face, "Hell yeah we are."

Hooligan let out a bark, making us look over at him. He was gonna get a fucking T-bone for bringing this girl to me. "Thanks for the dog," I said as I kissed her neck.

She hummed, "I think I should be thanking him."

"I'll thank him, too, as soon as I'm done showing you another round of gratitude." And I did show her my gratitude, several times, and every day after that.