Taste of the Forbidden Contest

Title: Cakes and Other Temptations

Rating: M for pseudo-incest and lemons

Genre: Romance

Word Count: 6,786

Pairing: Edward & Bella

Summary: Eighteen-year-old Edward doesn't look forward to eventually meeting his father's new wife. Bella is not what he expected her to be, and soon he finds himself drawn irrevocably towards the woman he was determined to just ignore during his holidays back home in Chicago.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, situations, quotations, etc. are the property of their respective owners. No copyright infringement is intended.

It's just for three weeks. Only three weeks. They'll pass sooner than you think, I try to convince myself, rather half-heartedly, when I park my shiny new Volvo in the garage behind the house. My father isn't the best at expressing his emotions for his only child, but at least he's gracious with his gifts, although the car feels more like an attempt to bribe me. He ordered it on the day I finally agreed to come back home for the summer.

Before I step out of the car, I take a deep breath in order to prepare myself for entering my parents' home for the first time in eight months. Not that it feels like much of a home to me since my mother,Elizabeth, died five years ago.

The loss of her hit both of us hard and unexpectedly. Maybe it should have managed to bring Dad and me closer together, but like I said, he's not that good with expressing his emotions, and neither am I.

After Mom passed away], he threw himself into his work, spending twelve to fourteen hours in his office at the law firm. That way, when he came home late at night, he would be too tired to mind the empty place next to him in the bed.

I, on the other hand, missed my mother thirteen-year-old boys are too old to cry into their pillows, I somehow had to find another way to deal with the loss. I became a trouble-maker, ditching school or starting fights with other boys from the neighborhood whenever an opportunity presented itself. It got so bad that I had to spend one night in juvenile detention for setting fire to some teacher's car in the parking lot.

That was when my father finally put his foot down. He sent me to the crappiest Catholic boarding school he could find. From then on, he held others responsible for the actions of his rebellious son.

Opening the door to the house, I notice the familiar scent of floor polish and old wood furniture. At least some things never change.

"Have a good ride to Chicago, Son?" my father asks me when he walks down the stairs. His hair is a bit greyer than it was when I saw him last and it's obvious that he's gained a bit of extra weight around his middle. Damn, he looks stressed.

Then I notice the curvy brunette next to him, and for a moment, I find it hard to remember how to close my mouth. It must be her. The one he's found to be good enough to take my mother's place.

I want to hate her, but for some reason I can't. She doesn't look anything like my Mom and that in itself is a relief.

Dad's new wife is beautiful, though. The blue dress she's wearing looks lovely against her milky skin. My eyes wander down to her perfectly shaped legs and back up to the hint of exposed cleavage. Her hair is tied back into a strict bun, but a few of the curls have escaped and are falling unruly down on her forehead.

"So, this is your Edward?" she asks my father. Her voice comes out a bit too high. Is she nervous about meeting me?

"Yes, my dear, this is my son. I hope the two of you will get along fine. Edward, say hello to your stepmother, Isabella."

"Hello," I mumble, reaching out my hand to shake hers. Her fingers are cold but her skin is softer than anything I've touched before. I don't want to let go of her hand.

"I don't have to call you Mom, do I?

She smiles, the left side of her mouth curling up a bit higher that the right one. It's an imperfect smile in a perfect face.

"Bella is just fine. I'm not old enough to be your mother, anyway."

"How old are you?" I ask her when we sit down at the dining room table.

"That's a rude question to ask a lady," my father says reproachful while he pours his new wife a glass of red wine before filling his own glass.

"Oh, I don't mind him asking me, Darling. I'm thirty-seven, Edward. Is there anything else you would like to know about me?"

I would love to ask her if she's bought her dress a size too small on purpose, because it seems a bit tight around her chest. That would be rude, though.

Jeez, for fuck's sake, stop staring at her tits.

"Can we eat now? I'm famished."

"Oh sure. I hope you like lamb. It's your father's favorite."

"I'm sure it tastes good," I mumble, forcing my eyes to look into her brown eyes instead of her cleavage.

When she stands up to get the food, I lick my lips when I see her round backside disappearing in the attached room. I honestly don't know why the girls in my school waste so much time on dieting. I prefer women with a bit of meat on their bones.

"Now, what do you think of her?" Dad asks me, taking a sip from his wine.

Nothing that I would like to share with you, I think nervously.

"You have to live with her, not me."

"Well, you could still decide to go to college here in Chicago. I assume that you have your temper issues under control now."

"Yes, Father."

"Good. And as for Isabella, she's a kind person. A bit dreamy, maybe, but that's kind of refreshing."

"Where did you meet her?"

"She was a client. Well, technically her stepbrother was my client, and she just went to my office with him to show her support."

"Oh, I see."

Bella returns from the kitchen and fills first Dad's plate then mine before putting some vegetables on her own.

"Is that everything you're going to eat?"

"I'm not that hungry," she whispers, nibbling hesitantly on a piece of broccoli.

We eat in silence, and I try not to look at the tiny droplet of sauce that trickles down the edge of her mouth. She notices it, though, and another smile flashes over her face. I like to see her smile. It makes her even prettier.

My father's cell starts beeping, and he wipes his mouth on a napkin, grabbing his glass of wine to take another gulp before answering the call.

"Masen." After a brief pause, he says, "No, I don't mind. Get the papers ready. I'll be at the office in twenty minutes. See you."

"Don't tell me you're going to work again today. You promised me you'd stay home the entire weekend," Bella complains to him.

"Oh dear, you know you married a bigamist. My work will always be my first wife," he answers good-naturedly, planting a quick kiss on her forehead.

Her mouth turns into a frosty smile that doesn't reach her eyes, but my father doesn't seem to notice it. Instead he turns to me and clears his throat.

"It's good to have you back home, Son."

He empties the glass of wine and rushes up the stairs to change into a formal navy blue suit. Bella tries to fix the knot of his tie when he comes down again, but he shoves her off.

"No. You're going to get fingerprints on the silk. I have to leave now. Don't wait up for me tonight. It's going to get late." he tells her impatiently.

"Yes, darling,"

When he's gone, Bella sighs and starts stacking the empty plates.

"Let me help you."

I take the plates from her and follow her into the kitchen. Her ass moves back and forth a bit when she walks, and I almost end up dropping everything to the ground.

"I'm sorry your father had to work. I bet the two of you have a lot to talk about."

"We're not exactly what you call verbose. To be honest, I'm just here because they had to close the school for some renovations." I tell her with a grin on my face while I lean against the counter behind me.

"You'd rather spend you summer at school instead of home. Wow, kind of sad." she stats, her voice filled with unexpected compassion.

"It's okay." I assure her, crossing my arms in front of my chest to keep me from touching her arm.

She wipes the rests of the food from the plates before loading the dishwasher.

"Are you okay with me being married to your Dad? He said that you were close to your mother. I don't want to replace her or anything."

"I know that you can't replace her. What counts is that you make my dad happy."

"I'm not sure about that. Ed is more in love with his files than with me. He's a good husband, loyal and kind, but I expected a bit more time together when we married."

"He's a workaholic."

"Probably. I still think he should spend some time with you while you are here."

"It's okay. I don't mind."

"Are you mad at him because he married me?" she asks me, nibbling her lower lip nervously.

I shrug my shoulders and turn my head to the polished piano in the living room. Mom's picture on it is gone, replaced by a crystal vase with yellow roses. It upsets me that it seems so easy for Dad to remove all traces of mother's existence. But I'm not naïve, and I know that he needs to move on somehow.

"I don't mind." I murmur as I walk over to run my fingers over the keys of the piano for a moment before I return to the kitchen.

"You didn't want to come to the wedding."

"It was in the middle of the semester. I can't miss too much school when I want to keep my grades up."

"If you say so, Edward. Look, I really want to make it clear to you that I'm not here to take your mother's place. From what Ed has told me about her, the two of us are very different."

"He told you about my Mom?"

"Well to be honest, I asked him. Maybe I shouldn't have done that. It seemed to make him sad somehow."

"He loved her very much."

"I know. Thanks for helping me. I think I can manage the rest of this by myself. You are probably tired from the long drive."

I nod my head and walk up the stairs to my old room. Sitting down on the bed, I try muster enough energy to stuff my clothes into my closet.

Dad's wife is nice. Bella is nice, but I don't want her to be nice. I want her to be an arrogant bitch so that it's way easier for me to hate her.

Bella knocks on the door, sticking her head inside a split second later.

"Do you have everything you need?" she asks me. The melodic sound of her voice makes me shrug up from my inner ramblings. She's way too beautiful for someone I shouldn't like.

"Edward? Do you need anything?"

"No, I'm fine. Thank you."

"Great, I'm going to have a shower now. There's pie in the fridge if you get hungry again. Someone should eat it, and by that I mean someone apart from me."

"Are you on a diet?"

"No, I'm just trying to eat healthier to get back in shape."

When she says that, her hands move down her thighs, and I have to swallow hard when she turns around and wiggles her round ass in front of my face.

I don't think there's anything wrong with her shape. It looks soft and full. I want to cup it roughly with both hands and pull her on my lap.

God damn it, what the fuck is wrong with me?

"Are you too warm?"

"What?" I choke.

"Are you too warm? Your face looks flushed. I think there's something wrong with the air conditioning in this house, but your father refuses to let me call someone to fix it. He wants to repair the thing himself."

"I don't think it's a good idea to let Dad come close to any kind of tools. He has two left hands."

"I know." Bella whispers before she walks out of my room, giving me another view on her backside. I wish I could touch it for just one moment or see it without any clothes covering it.

My dick, having been neglected since I broke up with my ex-girlfriend two months ago, throbs in my pants. I sure as hell don't miss Tanya and her cheap vanilla perfume. What I miss is a hot mouth wrapped around my length.

Thoughts like that don't help me with getting rid of my erection. I search for the baby oil underneath my bed, but the bottle is not there. My collection of Playboys is also gone. I hope that she hasn't put them away. No, why would she?

I decide to look for some oil or lotion in the bathroom. I really like it better when I have some lube to use when I'm jerking off.

The door of the bathroom is slightly ajar. I can hear the water of the shower, the steamy air filled with some floral aroma. I guess it's the smell of her shampoo.

I step inside the bathroom, grabbing the bottle with the baby oil. I shrug back when I feel a dainty hand reaching for it in the very same moment.

She screams, I jump back, and a heartbeat later, the shower curtain lands on the ground with a loud bang.

For a few glorious seconds, I see everything. Her breasts are full like ripe melons, and when my eyes wander down to the small stripe of dark, wet curls between her legs, I can't hold back a groan.

Sick bastard, just look away.

She screams again and covers herself with her left hand while reaching for one of the towels. When she wraps it around her soaked body, I'm almost sad.

"What are you doing in here?"

"I just wanted to get something."

"Get out. I'm naked."

"I'm sorry. God, I'm so sorry."

I rush out and sit down on the ground outside the bathroom where I cup my red glowing face in my hands.

She's definitely going to tell Dad about this and he'll be furious, assuming that I've tried to provoke her on purpose. Heaven help me.

"Hey, are you in shock? I assume the view wasn't what you're used to."

"I am sorry. I didn't mean to startle you like that."

"Let's pretend it didn't happen. It was embarrassing."

"Are you going to tell my father?"

"What for? He'll just make a stupid comment about me acting like a natural-born klutz again."

"I startled you. Anyone would have reacted like you."

"Maybe. Look, I'm just going to read a bit in my room before I go to sleep. Let me know if you need anything."

She walks down the corridor, and to my immense surprise, she doesn't stop at my father's bedroom.

"You have separate bedrooms?"

"Your father snores awfully, and I'm a light sleeper."

"I see. Good night, Bella."

"Night, Edward. Remember to eat the pie."

Back in my room, I close the door behind me, turning the key around in the lock. Pulling down my pants, I close my fist around my cock, rubbing the slick precum around its head. Leaning back against the wall behind me, I close my eyes, imagining my hand being replaced by a smaller one. I can almost taste her pink nipples on my tongue when I picture myself sucking hard on them. With a shudder, I release into my palm, splashing a bit of it on my shirt. My knees are shaking from the intensity of my climax when I grab a box of tissues to wipe my sticky fingers. I grab my pillow and stuff it under my head, not even bothering with changing my clothes before I drift into sleep.

When I wake up a few hours later, I feel like every muscle in my body is sore from sleeping in an uncomfortable position. I groan, standing up to stretch my legs. I feel a bit hungry so I decide to go down to the kitchen to have a bit of the pie my new— I choke at the word—stepmother has made.

There is light in the kitchen when I walk down the stairs. Bella is sitting on the kitchen counter, a plate next to her. She moans softly when she stuffs another fork with creamy chocolate cake between her lips.

"Is it good?"

She throws the plate down to the ground where it crashes into two pieces.

"Crap, your father really liked that plate. It was a gift from his mother-in-law."

"He and Grandma Emma couldn't stand each other. I'm sure he won't even notice the plate missing."

"It's my own fault. I shouldn't be eating cake in the middle of the night, but I was so hungry."

"It's okay. You shouldn't feel bad about that."

"I need to lose weight. Eating carbs at this time won't help with that."

"I thought you weren't dieting?"

"Mind your own business. That was rude to point it out."

She kneels down to pick up the broken plate and throws the pieces into the trash.

"Good night, Edward. Do me a favor and eat the rest of the fucking cake."

"Bella, you're not mad at me, are you? I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable."

"Yes, sure, just like your father doesn't mean it when he keeps telling me I'm too fat."

"He said that you're too fat? Too fat compared to whom?"

"He doesn't say it directly but I'm very good at reading between the lines."

"I'm sure he loves you the way you are."

Bella laughs and it's not a happy sound. She sits down on one of the kitchen chairs and takes a thirsty gulp from a bottle of water.

"You must know that you're beautiful."

"You think I'm pretty?"

"I said beautiful, not pretty. And yes, I think you are, very much, to tell the truth."

Her cheeks turn red and she stands up from her chair again, brushing her hair over her shoulder to cover her blush. With her curls down, she looks much younger. I want to run my fingers through its silkiness.

"Thanks. I should go to bed now. Good night, Edward."

"Good night, Bella."

The next following days are awkward. I try to stay out of my stepmother's way, but at the same time, I can't stay away from her. It is like there is some invisible draw towards her. She makes my insides tingle, no matter how hard I try to suppress those feelings.

My dad shows up for dinner every night and eats the delicious food his young wife has prepared while she barely touches her own plate.

"I'm going on a business trip to Atlanta tomorrow," he informs us, placing his hand on Bella's wrist. "You will be fine alone with the boy here for a while, won't you?" he tells her as if she' a fucking ten-year-old and not a grown-up woman.

"Can't I come with you?" she asks him, almost pleading.

"Isabella, this is not some vacation. I need to work, and what would you do there the entire day while I'm in meetings? It would be boring for you."

"But we could—well, never mind. Do you need me to iron some of your suits before you leave?"

"Yes, love. Oh and could you wash my blue shirt, that one with the white buttons?"

"Of course, darling. I'm finished here anyway. I better get started with the laundry." she murmurs in a tear-filled voice.

She rushes out of the dining room, and for a moment, I think I see some tears in her eyes, making the dark brown a bit watery.

"She seems upset about your journey."

"She's probably on her period. Isabella is a bit too emotional sometimes."

"You should take her with you. She might want to do some shopping or whatever women like to do."

"Isabella hates shopping for clothes. I can't have her hanging around all the time when I need to concentrate on a complicated case."

"Do you think she's happy with you working so much?"

"She's happy with living in a nice house like this. Do you think I could have afforded this without working my ass off? You're naïve, just like your mother was."

I jump from my chair, spilling a bit of creamy sauce over my jeans. Crap.

"You shouldn't have mentioned her. That was below the belt."

"Oh come on, you're not a child anymore. Try to act like a grown up man."

"I need to wash this out before it stains."

Making my way downstairs, I can hear Bella humming a melody. At least she's not crying. That would have been horrible.

"Ed? Oh, it's you."

"I ruined my jeans with that mouthwatering sauce of yours."

"Take them off. I have some stain remover here. That should be able to get everything out."

I can't move. The small room is filled with the scent of washing powder and the flowery scent of her skin.

"Did you hear me?"

"What?"

"Take off your jeans. You're not shy or anything, are you?"

I unfasten my belt and kick off my shoes. When I hand her my jeans a few moments later, I feel the heat spreading in my face.

"Wow, that's a big scar on your leg. How did that happen?"

Her fingertips brush gently against my left thigh, and the touch of her, innocent and light, sends a shiver of pleasure throughout me. I'm getting hard and try to cover it up by grabbing my shoes and my belt from the ground.

"What happened to your leg?"

"A dog ran into my bike when I was a little boy. I haven't been on best terms with them ever since."

"I like dogs. My stepbrother Seth breeds Huskies. I'm trying to talk your father into buying one of them. They are cute."

"My father is not too fond of pets."

"Too bad."

She leans over to get the stain remover and her breasts brush against my chest.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to touch you. Crap, they're always in the way, and I can never lose weight there, for crying out loud."

"Why would you want your breasts to be smaller? Most of the girls in my school want theirs bigger, not smaller."

"The girls in your school are too young to fight against gravity. Trust me, it's a fight that is practically impossible to win."

"You don't have to fight against anything. You're gorgeous the way you are. I can't stop looking at you. I bet you feel all soft and warm."

Her eyes widen, her lip quivers. Fuck, did I actually say that out loud right now?

"I think you should go."

"Yes," I whisper, my throat too tight to bring out more than a husky groan.

She reaches out her hand, wiping something from my cheek with her thumb.

"You had some sauce here too."

"Oh."

Her mouth is so close now that I can feel her breath against my lower lip when she exhales. I don't think, I just act as I press my mouth on hers. She gasps as I wrap my arms around her waist, pulling her closer to me as my tongue finds its way into the moistness of her mouth.

She pulls back, wiping her mouth with the back of her trembling hand.

"I think you really should go now, Edward."

I nod my head, unable to speak. I can still taste Bella on my own lips when I lick them on my way up to my room.

Very early the next morning, I hear her argue downstairs with my father before he slams the door behind him.

Unsure if she'd like to see anyone, especially me, I remain sitting on my bed, plugging my earphones in to listen to some music. Back at school, I liked doing that while playing the piano. But here I haven't played the piano in years. Not since—

Suddenly Bella is in front of me, and the view directly on her bare thighs makes me forget what I was thinking about. She's wearing a short skirt and a grey top that hugs her full breasts tightly.

"I knocked but you didn't answer. Do you want to have breakfast with me? Your father didn't feel like eating before he left."

"Yes, sure."

In the kitchen, I enjoy watching her short skirt move up even higher when she reaches for something in the cupboards.

I want to know what kind of underwear she has underneath them. I want to just shove her against the counter and pull them down to bury my face between her thighs.

"What are you looking at?"

"You."

"Why?"

"Because I want to."

She blushes and fills my plate with scrambled eggs and bacon before pouring herself a cup of coffee.

"Aren't you going to eat anything yourself?"

"I'm not hungry."

I smirk and wave with a piece of crispy bacon underneath her nose.

"I think you are."

"I shouldn't eat stuff like that. It's full of fat but damn it, it tastes so fucking good."

I end up feeding her most of the bacon on my plate. Now and then, the tip of her tongue touches against my fingers, and I can't help but imagine how it would be like to have that velvety tongue against my dick. The thought makes me instantly hard again.

"You can't keep looking at me like that, Edward."

"How do I look at you, Isabella?" I ask her, wiping a bit of greasy fat from the corner of her mouth.

"Please don't call me Isabella. I can't stand my full name. No one calls me Isabella apart from your father."

"Does he know you don't like it?"

"I think he just doesn't care."

I help her load the dishwasher. The air between us seems so thick that both of us have trouble breathing.

"Ed says you're good at playing the piano."

"My father hasn't heard me play in years. I don't even know why he mentioned that to you."

"He didn't want me to touch the piano in the living room. He said it would make you furious to find out someone else was playing on it."

"I don't mind. Feel free to use it whenever you like."

I walk over and sit down on the leather bench in front of the piano. When I pull up its lid, I have to blow some dust from the keys.

Closing my eyes, I let my fingers move over them, making the untouched instrument turn to life again.

Bella sits down next to me and leans her head against my shoulder.

"Please, don't stop. Keep playing. I like listening to you."

"How am I looking at you? You haven't answered my question."

"Sometimes, I feel like you look at me like you want me. It's silly, I know. What would an attractive young man like you want with a chubby old thing like me?"

"You're not old," I tell her, cupping her face in my left hand. "And there is nothing wrong with being curvy."

"Are you going to kiss me again?"

Very slowly, my thumb circles over her lower lip. It's so warm and soft. Everything about her seems warm and soft to me.

"Do you want me to?"

"I shouldn't. We shouldn't."

I kiss her mouth while my fingers move through the curls of her hair. It feels even better than it looks. It is like touching the finest silk material.

This time she deepens the kiss, sucking my upper lip between hers to tease it gently with her teeth. I don't want to stop kissing her. It feels so right, so good. Yet I know that it's wrong. My father would kill me if he knew.

"Edward, we can't do this," she stutters breathlessly, jumping up to get some physical distance between us. I can't let her go.

"I know," I whisper. "I know this is wrong, but I don't want to stop."

"Maybe I should go and visit my brother while you are here. I'm afraid if I stay here, I might end up doing something really stupid."

"Like what?" I ask her, letting my hands move down on her back until I reach the roundness of her ass and squeeze it tightly. "Like this? Tell me you want me to stop touching you and I will."

"I don't want you to stop."

I groan and push her back against the piano, lifting her legs up to wrap them around my hips.

She whimpers against my neck when she feels my erection pressing greedily against her through my jeans.

My tongue glides between the valley of her breasts, tasting the salty sweat on her pale skin. I tug down the fabric of her top, exposing the lace bra underneath it. The precious material is so thin that I can see her nipples shining through it. Shifting her up a bit, until she lies mostly on top of the piano, I close my mouth hungrily around one of the tempting peaks.

"Oh, fuck." she moans loudly.

I rub up and down between her thighs, shuddering during every of those thrusts of my hips. Her breath comes out in raspy moans as I bite down hard on her nipple.

Eventually I step back to unfasten my belt and let my jeans drop down my ankles before shoving them off together with my boxer shorts. My hand glides up her thigh, caressing the inside of its soft flesh before I shove the damp panties to the side and shove two of my fingers knuckle deep into her wetness. She's tight, and when I thrust my fingers in and out, her muscles clench around me.

I want to fuck her, fuck her so hard that her full breasts quiver against my face with the power of a mild earthquake.

The second I slam into her, my balls tighten against my underbelly. I hiss through my teeth, trying to still for a moment while her small fingers dig into my backside.

"More," she demands, her voice raw with need.

I think that I might last only five more seconds before I come. Her right hand moves up to fist into my hair, stroking down my cheek, while her left one glides between our joined bodies. Her fingertips touch my balls in a feather light caress before wrapping them tightly around the base of my cock with so much strength that it hurts for a split second.

My mouth finds its way back to her hard nipple while I start pounding into her again. She moans, shifting her hips to change the angle of my thrusts. Sweat is pouring down my forehead.

When I feel the spasms of my climax rippling through me, I somehow manage to pull back in the last moment, covering her chest with the sticky essence of my release.

"Oh, my fucking god," I groan, collapsing on top of her on the piano.

For a few minutes, she's very still, and I enjoy the calm silence between us. Her hand plays with my hair, tugging on it until she eventually asks me to stand up because I'm getting too heavy for her.

"I need to shower," she says, unable to look me in the eyes before she rushes up the stairs, leaving me alone in the suddenly huge-seeming living room.

I start playing again, moving my fingers hectically over the keys to bring out a melancholic melody. My heart is racing in my chest, even when my breathing finally returns to normal again.

Bella doesn't come back down. I hear some doors slamming upstairs, though. She's speaking to someone on the phone, and it sounds like she's crying.

Oh, crap.

Walking up the stairs, I find her in the bedroom, throwing piles of clothes into two suitcases. Her hair is dripping wet and pulled into a ponytail. The pair of jeans she's wearing now hugs her ass just perfectly. The light blue blouse is a bit too tight around her glorious tits. One of the buttons looks dangerously close to popping open any second.

"What are you doing?"

"Leaving! I need to get out of this house."

"Because of me?"

"Because of us, Edward. I shouldn't have let that happen. I don't know what came over me." Her voice is cracking more and more with every word she says.

"I'm sorry." I whisper, reaching out my hand to comfort her somehow. I want her to know, it's not her fault what happened.

"No, you're not. Not like me. My marriage is already fucked up enough without me cheating on my husband with his son." she tells me between sobs as she grabs some shoes from her closet and closes one of the suitcases. It's so heavy that she barely manages to lift it from the bed.

"Please, stay."

"I can't."

"Where are you going?"

"My stepbrother will be okay with me sleeping at his place for a few days. After that, I'll see what I can do. You're not going to tell your father about what happened? It needs to be a secret—our secret."

I kiss her mouth, but she shoves me away, her lip quivering as if she's trying hard to stop crying.

"This is your house. I should leave, not you."

"Don't be ridiculous. This is your home."

I carry the suitcases down to the garage, helping her load them into the trunk of her silver-colored Mercedes.

"I don't want you to go."

"I know."

She leans forward, weaving her fingers through my hair before she very gently touches her upper lip against my mouth.

"Good-bye, Edward. Try to forget what happened. That would be the best thing to do."

I nod my head, but when I stare after her car as she drives off, I don't want to forget.

Walking back inside the house, I notice the broken crystal vase next to the piano bench. The petals of the yellow roses are lying around in the pieces of broken glass, and I lift them up, carefully making sure not to cut myself. The phone rings but I ignore it, knowing that it's most likely my father.

Instead I wander through the house, feeling like an intruder. I open cupboards and drawers, finding my Playboys together with some other ones in my Dad's nightstand. All the girls in those magazines are blondes, skinny blondes with too round, too fake tits.

I shove them back into the drawer, walking into the small office adjusted to my father's bedroom. When my mother was still alive, he preferred working at home instead of in his office in town.

There is a letter on the polished mahogany desk.

I'm grateful for all your instruction and help. Without you, I'd properly still have the tax fraud investigation after me. My offer with the puppy is still up. You know, Bella would love to have one.

I read through the rest of the letter and turn it around, noticing the address on it. Seth Clearwater-Swan. That has to be her stepbrother.

Taking the letter with me, I get my car keys and change into some fresh clothes. It is stupid to follow her. She left to get away from me, away from the awkward situation between her and me.

When I reach my destination two hours later, I'm about to just turn around again. I can do this. I could just drive back home and pretend nothing happened. I could do it, but the truth is, I don't want to. Inside a small coffee shop, I ask for directions, when a whipped cream-covered apple cake catches my eye. A few minutes later, it rests next to me on the passenger's seat, securely stored in a little white box.

My hands are sweaty when I park the Volvo behind a small house. The barking is so loud that I can hear it even over the volume of my radio.

Oh, right, he breeds dogs. Bella has told me about that.

It is getting dark, and I still sit in the damn car, unable to bring up the courage to get out and knock on the door of the house. After a few minutes, though, someone knocks on the window, the barking noises suddenly much louder than before. I roll down the window and shrug back when a huge grey dog starts jumping against the opening.

"Down, Paul! Damn it. You're such a stubborn dog, worst I ever had."

He pulls the dog back by a metal collar and clears his throat.

"Did your car break down?"

"No."

"Then why are you standing in front of my house with your car? Do you want to buy a dog?"

"No, I'm here for Bella."

"Bells! There's some guy out here for you!"

She rushes out, followed by two more dogs that rub themselves against her knees. When she sees me, her face turns paler than it already is.

"What are you doing here?"

"Bells, do you need me to help him find his way from my property?"

"I…well, I …I …just…I just...,"

She takes a deep breath, petting the head of the dogs before she speaks up again.

"That's Edward, my stepson."

"Ed's kid? He doesn't look much like him."

"I take more after my Mom, I guess."

"Aren't you going to get out of that car?"

"He's scared of the dogs."

"I'm not scared. I just don't trust animals too much."

Seth whistles through his teeth, and all three dogs drop down to the ground immediately.

"See, now you're safe. They won't touch you. There's no need to worry."

I sigh, stepping out of the car with the cake box in my left hand.

"Oh, you brought something sweet with you. Isn't that nice, Bells? Your stepson seems to know what a sweet tooth you have."

"Yes."

"I have to walk my monsters to the park. Why don't you make some coffee for yourself and Edward?"

"Sure."

He whistles again and the dogs rise, chasing after a tennis ball Seth throws into the air.

"Why did you come here?" Bella asks me again when he disappears around the corner.

"I don't know. I just had to."

She places her hand on my jaw and rubs her thumb over my beard stubbles.

"You need to shave."

"I was kind of distracted this morning," I say, following her inside the house. There is some more barking coming from the cellar. Crap, how many dogs does her stepbrother have here?

"I'm sorry about what happened. I should have put a stop to it, but the embarrassing truth is that I wanted it very much. You made me feel desirable."

"You are desirable. You are beautiful and sexy and basically everything a man would want in a woman. Well, you're everything I want in a woman."

"You're too old for eighteen," she says, placing two plates and cups on the small kitchen table.

"That wasn't your first time, was it? Please say no." Bella whispers.

"Was I that bad?"

"A bit enthusiastic maybe, but I actually found that kind of exciting."

I dip my finger into the whipped cream on the cake and smear it over her mouth before she can protest. She grabs her hand around my wrist and sucks my finger into her mouth, humming around it.

"I want you to leave again when we're done with the cake."

"Okay," I whisper, swallowing hard. "If that's what you want."

"I don't know what I want. I always thought I did, but somehow, it's like I've forgotten everything."

I lean forward, pulling a curl of her hair behind her ear, grazing it with my fingertip.

"Seth is going to come back," she warns me before I kiss her.

"I know."

"Eat your cake, now. It's getting late, and I don't want you to drive back in the middle of the night."

"Are you worried about me?"

"I'm worried about all the stupid things I want to do with you."

I dip my fork into the creamy cake, lifting it up to her mouth instead of mine.

"First, I'm going to share this delicious cake with you, and then, we'll discuss the other stupid things that the two of us could do."