Disclaimer: (CONTENT and LEGAL) All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Notes: This story was my entry for the Taste of the Forbidden Contest. It didn't win anything, but there were a number of really incredible entries and it was a lot of fun to participate in! Congrats to all of the wonderful winners!

Big thanks to Sunflower3759 for beta-ing for me!

*The Break Room*

Tanya had a bit of a bad rep at work. She was extraordinarily beautiful, so I wasn't entirely surprised. The other girls got catty about her. Tanya had worked at Providence Portland Medical Center for four years, and I had been there for almost two and a half. She had trained me and we had clicked right away. Now, she was one of my closest friends. She had a foul mouth, a wicked sense of humor and a deep and abiding love for all things salacious and naughty. I wasn't quite as outspoken as she was, but she often pulled me out of my sometimes reserved shell.

Currently, we were eating lunch in the small courtyard located behind the hospital building where we worked. It was a gorgeous sunny day in Portland, and we were taking advantage of it. After being cooped up inside for an entire weekend studying, I was ready to feel a little bit of warmth on my skin. I was just about to take a bite of my veggie wrap when Tanya spoke.

"So, have you noticed the way Edward looks at you lately?"

"Edward who?" I tried to ask nonchalantly but it was futile. The idea that Edward Cullen might actually find me attractive was thrilling. I'd been eyeing him since I started working there.

"Cullen. Obviously. Edward Burton is old enough to be your great-grandfather." There were several Edwards who worked at the hospital, but they were all quite a bit older. Edward Burton was one of the other V.P.s who we saw fairly frequently in the office. He did appear to be approaching ninety years old. A very nice man, but hardly someone I was attracted to.

Edward Cullen however, well...attraction didn't even begin to cover it. He had been V.P. of Patient Relations since I started working at Providence, which made him my boss's, boss's, boss. The crush was entirely inappropriate really- I knew that- but it didn't make it any easier to watch him day in and day out and not act on it.

He said hello to me every single day when he came in, and if he left during the day for meetings or to run an errand he always made sure to say goodbye. He was unfailingly polite.

He was in his late thirties, and at twenty-two, I'd never been interested in guys that much older than me, but he was easy to make an exception for. He was a couple inches over six feet tall, fit, with a thick, healthy head of bronzed brown hair with just a tiny bit of grey at the temples. His voice was low and a little bit husky. He always looked me right in the eye when he spoke to me, and called me by my name. His eyes were a sparkling shade of green and he had the most fantastic smile ever. It was a little crooked, and made the corners of his eyes crinkle warmly.

He was unfailingly polite to everyone, but I wondered if maybe his gaze lingered on me a little bit longer. Or if his voice grew deeper and softer when he said my name. I had convinced myself I was imagining things until Tanya's comment.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean he looks at you like he wants to eat you. If only, right?" Tanya winked at me.

I sighed. "He is cute."

She scoffed. "Puppies and kittens are cute. That man is scorching."

I laughed and agreed before taking a large bite of my sandwich.

"You know, I wouldn't have pegged you for the older guy type," she mused.

"That's the thing, I'm not usually. But I'd make an exception for him."

She cackled and took a large bite of her sandwich. "You have it bad, girl."

I rolled my eyes. "It's a stupid pointless little work crush, it doesn't mean anything. It's not like anything could ever happen..."

She shrugged. "You don't know that. Maybe you could arrange to get locked in the supply closet with him."

I snorted. "Right, Tanya. Besides, he's married."

That made him doubly unapproachable.

"Not anymore," she sang, her blue eyes twinkling. She flipped a thick strand of strawberry-blonde hair over her shoulder and grinned at me.

"What?"

"Do you not pay any attention to the office gossip? He and Heidi are dunzo!"

"What the hell? How did I miss that?" I felt my heart speed up in my chest, and then scolded myself for letting it affect me at all. Married or not, Edward Cullen was so far from being a possibility it was ludicrous.

"No idea. Clearly you have your head in the clouds. They've been officially over for months, although I think they've been separated for a lot longer than that. Supposedly, he caught her in bed with Felix."

"No way." Heidi was a stunning raven-haired woman who worked as the director for the hospital fundraising department. She was incredibly driven and successful, and every bit as beautiful as Edward was. Felix however was a member of the board of directors and someone I found incredibly off-putting. There was a slimy, weasel-y air about him, and I couldn't imagine anyone choosing him over Edward.

Tanya cackled. "Way. Check out his ring finger tonight when he leaves..."

Of course, that was the day he had an afternoon meeting off campus, so I didn't see him until the following morning. I spent the afternoon trying to focus on my work and failing miserably. At the end of the day I sat back in my seat with a sigh and Tanya gave me a knowing smile. The office was quiet and I took a moment to look around.

I worked in the patient registration department at the medical building right next to the main hospital. It was where all the doctor and hospital administration offices were located, and also where all of the outpatient testing was done. Registering patients for lab work and x-rays wasn't wildly exciting, but it was a steady job, with good pay and easy work when it came right down to it. Tanya worked there with me, along with Shelly Cope, Liz Harper and Amber Tripp. Shelly was an older divorced woman who had worked there since she was my age. She knew every inch of the hospital and had taken me under her wing when I started. I was much less fond of Liz and Amber. They weren't horrible to work with, but they could get pretty catty and gossipy. Liz was unhappily married and Amber was perpetually single. They spent most of their day whining about how men were assholes, and frankly I was sick of hearing it.

The ringing phone finally snapped me out of my thoughts and I got back to work. Every moment of down time I had though, my mind wandered to Edward. There was something about him that made my heart race and my palms sweat. I hadn't crushed that hard on anyone since I was thirteen and in love with my twenty-one-year-old neighbor. Okay, maybe I did have a thing for older guys, I realized.

Still, the seventeen-year age gap between myself and Edward wasn't insignificant. And despite what Tanya said, I had no reason to think that Edward actually thought of me any more than my hot neighbor ever had. There were plenty of attractive women closer to his age here, and I had no doubt that once news of Edward's divorce was made public, he'd have no trouble finding an equally stunning replacement for Heidi.

Despite my preoccupation with thinking about Edward, my day did finally end and I went home, grateful to be done. Unfortunately, going home didn't end the onslaught of thoughts about him.

In the morning, I thought about my conversation with Tanya and mentally reminded myself to check for a ring. I was sitting at my desk logging in to my computer when Edward got to work.

"Morning, Bella." Edward smiled at me as he passed by and I automatically smiled back, brushing my hair away from my cheek.

"Morning, Mr. Cullen," I murmured.

I was supposed to look for something, I thought dazedly as I turned and stared after him. It wasn't until he'd rounded the corner that I realized just what it was. Damn it, I was supposed to check out his ring finger. Not his ass. I stationed myself at the desk and barely left it for the rest of the day. I took a short lunch and practically sprinted to and from the bathroom. I was rewarded when he walked by mid-afternoon. Instead of looking at his face I glanced down at his left hand. It was sickening how fast my heart raced at the sight of his bare ring finger. He was pale, so there was no stripe from where he'd taken it off. But where a silver toned ring had sat, there was now just bare skin.

I must have made a sound because I heard him ask softly," Are you all right, Bella?"

I glanced up at him; my eyes wide, and his worried green ones met mine.

"Yeah, I'm fine," I said automatically. But I wasn't sure I meant it. Holy shit he wasn't married anymore, I thought. Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit. He glanced down to where my eyes had been trained on his left hand. When he looked back up, the corner of his mouth lifted in an almost imperceptible smile. Instead of continuing on, he stood by my desk, staring at me. Our eyes were locked on each other and it was like we couldn't look away. I felt my heart beat faster in my chest and I licked my lips, feeling the overwhelming urge to reach up and touch him.

Dimly aware of Amber and Liz sitting just a few feet away, I cleared my throat when he didn't say anything. "Is there something I can help you with, Mr. Cullen?" I said finally.

"Edward," he said absently.

"I'm sorry?"

"Please, call me Edward." His voice was soft, and warm sounding.

"All right. Is there anything I can do for you, Edward?"

His eyes flashed with a heat that surprised me; although it faded so fast I wasn't sure if maybe I had imagined it. After a moment he seemed to pull himself together and his voice returned to normal. "I have a meeting this afternoon and I just remembered I have some copies I need to make before it begins. Any chance I could get you to do that for me?" He gave me a lopsided smile that made my heart race in my chest.

"Uh, sure." I was surprised that he asked me, when he had an administrative assistant named Pat who normally took care of those things. Maybe she was out for the day or something. It wasn't really in my job duties, but it wasn't like I was going to turn down a simple request from someone who worked in Administration, particularly Edward. He slipped the paper from his soft-sided leather briefcase and handed it to me. "How many do you need?"

"Fifteen."

"I'll be back in just a moment."

But instead of staying by my desk or taking a seat, he followed me. The copy room was centrally located between the back entrance to the administration offices, patient relations, and HR. It was deserted at the moment, and I noticed my hands shaking as I put the page he'd handed me in the copy machine and entered in the number of copies. I could smell his cologne and I realized I'd never actually been that close to him before. I felt him lean close to me, and his scent intensified, filling my nostrils. It was light and crisp, expensive smelling, and it made my head spin. I could feel the heat from his body and the sleeve of his shirt as it grazed my hip.

"I think you have to push this." His voice was low in my ear as he leaned over me to reach the Start button. I flushed; embarrassed that I was so wrapped up in him that I couldn't even make copies properly.

"Uh, oh…sorry," I stammered.

"That's okay." He was still leaning over me and could feel his warm breath on my ear. I suppressed a shudder of pleasure and took a deep breath, my fingers tightening on the copier. He was so close I felt the rise and fall of his breathing against my shoulder blades. A shiver skittered over my body, making me flush hot and then cold. We both stood there for a long minute as the copier whirred and spat out copies. I shifted minutely, aware of how aroused his nearness was making me. The copier went silent as it finished and neither of us moved a muscle for several long moments. Eventually, he sighed and shifted back. I leaned down to grab the papers and I heard him groan quietly.

The paper was warm from the machine, but his fingers were even warmer as I turned and handed them to him. He set his briefcase down on the counter and slipped the copies into a folder inside, but not before I saw an identical stack of copies already in there.

What the hell? I wondered. Had he really asked me to re-copy something he already had?

Maybe he forgot he had them, I rationalized. Or maybe he realized he needed twice as many as he initially thought. There were a thousand logical reasons he could have had me make copies for him. In a daze I followed him out of the copy room and back to my desk. He left the office with a lopsided smile and I spent the rest of my day thinking of nothing but him.

The next day, I spent longer than usual getting ready. A soft, cream-colored v-neck sweater and a black pencil skirt with black heels were sexy without being inappropriate for work. And he definitely noticed it. He spent a little longer speaking to me in the morning than usual, and Liz and Amber gave me nasty looks when he left. I was floating on Cloud Nine and couldn't have cared less what those biddies thought. Unfortunately, he was in a hurry on his way out at the end of the day. We didn't talk, but he waved as he walked by with the Jasper Whitlock, director of Marketing. Jasper was a bit younger than Edward and quite handsome as well. He gave me a disarming grin as they passed and I smiled back, totally unaffected by it. Jasper's smile just didn't give me the same fluttery feeling in my stomach Edward's did.

The rest of the week passed in the same fashion. Edward was friendly, but not overly flirtatious. Still, there were subtle touches of his fingers against mine as I handed him the newspaper, his eyes lingered on my cleavage whenever I wore something even slightly low-cut, and if we passed in the hallway he would gently place his hand against my lower back to get around me. I lived for those subtle moments, reliving them over and over. I felt vaguely pathetic. I was a twenty two year old college student panting after a man old enough to be my father. But there was something about Edward that made my head spin and my heart beat faster. I'd been in relationships before, even been in love, but I'd never felt attraction like this before.

The problem was, it never seemed to progress any further. He didn't try to make any moves and sadly, neither did I. I wanted to. If he'd been a guy I'd met in the classes I took at UP, I wouldn't have hesitated to make the first move. I wasn't shy and I had no problem being assertive when it came to asking a guy out. But a University of Portland student was a far cry from an Executive at the hospital I worked for. Not to mention the fact that I saw him every day and my department reported to him. There wasn't a no-fraternizing policy for the hospital as a whole, but there was a very strict policy about relationships with power asymmetry, and sexual harassment, and Edward and I fell squarely in that category.

With a sigh, I mentally put my fantasizing about him aside and tried to remind myself it was all for the best. Maybe he did find me attractive, but there was no way he was interested in me enough to pursue something, and chances were he'd be dating a woman his own age in no time anyway. Not a twenty-two-year old student who was taking forever to finish her degree in marketing. It was disappointing, but I had to be realistic about it.

Weeks passed and I struggled to maintain my composure around Edward. The heated looks he gave me hadn't faded, and it seemed like he found any number of excuses to ask me for my help. They were small, inconsequential tasks that anyone could have done, but he always asked for me. I knew his administrative assistant, Pat, and she was very capable. There was no reason she couldn't have done everything I did for him. But I certainly didn't turn him down when he asked.

Amber and Liz kept giving me suspicious and hostile looks whenever Edward paid any attention to me, but I refused to even acknowledge it. Other than a few flirtatious glances, Edward and I hadn't done anything to deserve their judgemental stares.

Almost a month and a half after my conversation with Tanya I received a phone call. It was late afternoon and the rush of patients had slowed to a trickle. I was tidying up my desk when his name flashed on the display of my phone- E. Cullen- and his extension. With shaking hands, I picked up the phone and answered it.

"Patient Registration, this is Bella speaking, how may I help you?"

"This is Edward Cullen."

"Yes, sir, how can I help you?"

"Uh, well, I need you in my office." His voice was sounded strained and I had no idea how to respond.

"Sir?"

"Uhm… I need you to come in my office," he said, his voice dipping lower, and sounding throatier when he said the word come, but he recovered quickly. "Shit, I mean, I need you to come to my office to notarize something for me."

"Of course, I'd be happy to help you out with that," I said, amused by how flustered he sounded. Was he really that flustered by me? "When do you need it to be done by?"

"Uh, well, whenever is convenient for you. I'll be here all afternoon."

"We have a couple of patients in line, and I should probably help with that, is twenty minutes all right?"

"Of course. Patients first," he joked. It was the hospital motto that we had drilled into us constantly.

I laughed. "I'll be there as soon as I can."

He hung up without answering and I let out a nervous chuckle, still completely flabbergasted by his phone call. Not to mention the unintentional suggestive statement he'd made. I managed to help a couple more patients before I excused myself. All I told Liz was that an executive needed my help notarizing something and she rolled her eyes and waved me off. I forwarded my phone and swung by the bathroom for a quick check to make sure my hair wasn't a mess and my lipstick looked okay. My heart raced in my chest as I straightened my black cardigan and smoothed down my grey pencil skirt. At least I looked good. I just had to try not to act like an idiot around Edward.

Pat smiled at me when I stopped at her desk. She was a grey haired grandmother who was Edward's assistant, and managed his schedule with a precision that only came with years and years of experience.

"Go right in, Bella," she said. "Mr. Cullen is expecting you."

"Thanks, Pat." I smiled at her and gently opened the door to his office. He was sitting at his desk, hunched over, with his fist gripping a handful of his hair. His head flew up when the door opened and he stared at me wide-eyed.

"Mr. Cullen?" I said softly.

"Ahh, yes, please come in, Bella." He stood and walked over to me, gently pushing the door most of the way closed. He gestured toward the chair in front of his large, wood desk. "Have a seat."

His office was warm and masculine, yet simple, and clean looking. His desk was cleared of papers and even the pens were all uniform. He had several diplomas on the wall, although the glare from the window obscured where they were from. He had almost no personal items in his office, though, and I found myself disappointed that I couldn't learn more about him being here.

I took a seat on the comfy chair and pulled my pen, stamp and seal from my bag. "What is it you'd like me to notarize?" I asked.

I leaned forward to fill out the notary log that I used to keep track of the documents I signed and looked up when he didn't reply.

"Mr. Cullen?" I said

"Edward," he said absently, still staring at me. I glanced down and realized that the black lace-trimmed camisole I was wearing had fallen forward, leaving a gap between it and my chest. From my angle, you could see to the tops of my black lacy bra, and if he could see half as much I thought he could, Edward was getting a great show.

"Edward," I said softly, hesitating just a beat longer, before sitting up. His eyes stayed locked on my body; heated, hungry, desperate. His jaw was clenched and I saw his hand curl into a fist on top of his desk. The hand in his lap moved, and although I couldn't actually see it, I imagined he was adjusting his cock.

The thought made me shift in my chair as an ache settled between my legs at the thought of him being aroused by me. I drew in a deep, shaky breath, feeling my heart begin to speed up. He awkwardly thrust a file folder over to me, and I shook my head, needing to clear my thoughts if I was going to do this without making a mistake. I scanned over the document and signed and dated it in the appropriate places. It wasn't until the second to last page that I made a mistake.

Edward let out a quiet groan of frustration as he looked at his computer screen, and for a moment I could imagine the way he'd sound in bed. The way his voice would go rough and low as he gasped out his pleasure. My hand shook as I began to scrawl my name.

"Are you all right?" he asked and I looked up at him. The pure, blazing desire in his eyes made my breath falter. I clenched my thighs together as we stared at each other. His body was tense and I could see the muscles in his neck and jaw clench. He wet his lips and the sight of his tongue peeking out made me shift in my chair. Jesus, at the rate we were going, he was going to make me come just from the look he was giving me, I thought.

"Yes," I finally said shakily. I looked down at the sheet of paper I'd been signing and realized that instead of signing Isabella M. Swan, I'd signed it Isabella M. Cullen. What the hell was wrong with me? I hastily scratched it out and turned it over.

"I'm sorry, I wrote down the incorrect date," I lied. "Can you print off another copy of page eleven?"

He nodded, his eyes still intently scrutinizing me. "Of course. Just toss it in the shred bin there."

He gestured to the one across the room. There were locked boxes located all over the building, used for disposing of confidential files. A company came around to pick them up and take them to a facility to be shredded. At least no one would see my idiotic mistake. Especially Edward.

"I'm…I'm sorry," I stammered, embarrassed for messing up in front of an executive, and more importantly, Edward.

He waved it off. "It's fine. Happens all the time to me. Every year, Pat has to fix my errors with dates for most of January and February until I get used to putting in the new year."

I gratefully disposed of the incriminating paper as he printed off another copy for me. Our fingers brushed when he handed it over. I sighed, and noticed the way his fingers lingered against mine.

I finished signing, and stamped and sealed all of the pages, giving it a thorough inspection before I handed it over to him. He smiled warmly at me. "Thank you so much for your help, Bella, I really appreciate it."

"It's no problem. I was glad to help," I said softly. I stood up to leave and he followed me to the door. He stood close behind me as I lingered there, not wanting to leave his office.

He stepped close behind me, and through the several inch gap in the door, I could see that Pat was not at her desk. It was nearly lunchtime, and about half of the other PA's had left as well. It was quiet, and no one was looking in our direction. I could feel the heat from his body and I shivered when a warm puff of air left his lips and hit the back of my neck. My hair was up in a messy bun and it left my neck bare.

My hand closed on the edge of the door, but I didn't move to open it. I felt his fingertips skim lightly across my upper arm, barely even touching the fabric there. They traveled down my arm, to hover over the skin the three-quarter length sleeves left bare. He wasn't even touching me, really, but it left a tingling feeling in its wake. His thumb curved around to the soft skin of my inner wrist and when his skin finally touched mine I nearly gasped. The simple touch of his thumb there made me feel like he was touching me everywhere. I could feel the ghost of his skin against mine on the curve of my breast and my inner thighs. I bit down on the inside of my cheek to keep from moaning.

"Bella," he whispered. I could hear the tremor in his voice and I leaned just a little, so my back met his broad, firm chest.

"Yes?"

"I…" His voice cracked but he didn't continue. He softly stroked his thumb against my pulse point and I felt a shiver skitter across my body. We stood there for the longest time until he finally sighed and pulled away. My body ached everywhere, like it physically hurt to be away from him and I felt disappointment sweep through me as I walked away.

*TBR*

I hardly saw him at all in the next few days.

One evening after work, I was bent over, reaching for my lunch bag that had been pushed to the back of the fridge, when I heard a strangled voice calling my name.

I whirled around and my heart leaped in my throat at the sight of Edward standing in the doorway with a shocked look on his face and an impossible to disguise erection. My eyes lingered there, hardly daring to believe what I was seeing. Was he really that hard at just the sight of my ass? He flushed and cleared his throat, moving his suit jacket that was draped over his arm to cover himself. Forget all my reasons for not making a move on Edward, this was proof that he was attracted to me and I was going to take advantage of it.

"How did you know it was me, Edward?" I said huskily.

"Your..." He cleared his throat. "Your hair."

I didn't believe him for a moment, and instead of replying, I just smirked at him.

"You're here late," he commented after a moment.

"Yeah. I needed to sort through my desk and get things organized, but I never have time while the office is open."

"Are you still on the clock?"

"No, I punched out at my usual time."

"You should get paid, it's work related," he chided me.

"It's fine. I don't mind. I don't have anywhere I need to be right now."

"No boyfriend wondering why you aren't home yet?"

"Uh no, I'm not seeing anyone right now."

"Oh."

We were both silent for a moment until he cleared his throat.

"Be careful when you leave. It's getting dark out and I would hate for you to be walking in the ramp alone. The building is pretty much deserted."

"I will. Thank you."

"Or, I could walk you to your car, if you wanted."

"It's not necessary, but thank you."

"Please, I insist."

"Um, all right, just give me a moment to get my things together." I opened the refrigerator again and dug through the back of it to grab my food. Once again, when I stood up Edward's eyes were glued to my ass. Feeling suddenly bold I sauntered over to him. "I don't think it's my hair you were staring at."

"No, err..." He cleared his throat for the umpteenth time. Clearly I was making him nervous. "I wasn't trying to stare."

"I didn't say I minded." I stepped closer to him and he gulped and moved to step back but the edge of the doorframe was directly behind him. I reached up and lightly brushed my fingers across his blue silk tie as if removing a piece of dust.

"Bella...I..."

"What, Edward?"

He drew in a deep breath and the hopeful, yearning expression on his face was suddenly gone. "We should go."

"Why?"

"Well, I'm sure you have plans for tonight."

"No, none at all." I straightened his tie and my fingers brushed against his smooth jaw. "You?"

"I...uh...no, I don't."

"I'm surprised," I said.

"Why is that?"

"I can't imagine you spend too much time without...companionship."

"You'd be surprised," he said bitterly. He turned his gaze on me. "I could say the same for you."

"I often find myself without someone...more often than not, really."

"I am sorry to hear that." His fingertips hovered around my waist, just millimeters from touching me.

I shrugged. "It's...frustrating sometimes. I don't mind being on my own most of the time, but there are certain benefits to having someone else around. Some things another person is just so much better at than I am. There are only so many times one can take things into one's own hand before it gets...tedious."

"I've found that too..." he admitted, the look of desire flaring in his eyes; hot and needy.

"Is there perhaps something I could help you out with, Edward?" I asked, a little shocked at how bold I was being. But I was so tired of the way we'd been tiptoeing around each other. I wanted him. Desperately. And even though I knew all of the reasons why it shouldn't happen, it suddenly felt thrillingly illicit, instead of a reason to stay away.

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Much as I'd like to take you up on that, I'm afraid it wouldn't be advisable."

"Why?"

"I...I'm old enough to be your father, Bella."

"I don't have a problem with your age, Edward. Do you have a problem with mine? I am an adult after all."

"Well yes, I know you're an adult. It's just the difference in age."

"Is that really your best argument?"

"There is the fact that I'm your boss."

"Well, Emily is my boss, Jane is her boss and you are Jane's boss." I tapped the ID badge that he had clipped to his suit.

"Err, well yes. Still, I'm an Executive here, it wouldn't be appropriate to pursue anything with another employee, particularly since you report to me, and it would clearly violate the employee code of conduct." The stiff, formal tone belied the trembling of his hands and the way his eyes followed my lips with every word I spoke.

The look on his face was one of a man in conflict. His brow was furrowed, his mouth turned down in a frown and the worry in his eyes was clear.

I sighed. "If you don't want me, Edward, by all means, say so. I'm certainly not trying to convince you to do something you don't want to do. I am trying to convince you to do something you seem to think you shouldn't do. But it is of course entirely up to you."

I brushed past him and gathered up my bag and coat, my hands shaking. It hurt more than I could say, to know that he wasn't nearly as attracted to me as I was to him. I knew how dangerous pursing anything was, but I couldn't fight the attraction any longer. Clearly, he could.

Before I could even get the coat on he was behind me, helping me with it.

"Thank you," I whispered, feeling suddenly foolish for how hard I had been pursuing him when he clearly wasn't interested in me. Or at least not interested enough. Humiliation warred with lingering desire.

He followed beside me silently as I walked to my car and he said goodbye quietly before gently shutting my door. I made it home and into my pajamas before I cried. I was a wreck after that. I felt humiliated for throwing myself at him. I knew he found me appealing, at least on some level, but obviously not enough, and that was bitter and hurtful. After devouring far more mint chocolate chip ice cream than was necessary, I curled up in bed and fell asleep, disappointed and frustrated beyond belief.

*TBR*

The following day was a Saturday, and when Tanya and I met for lunch, I told her about the conversation I'd had with Edward.

She was outraged. "But I've seen the way he looks at you, Bella!"

I smiled sadly. "I know. But he gave me a bunch of reasons why it wasn't a good idea and I think I've humiliated myself enough, thanks. I fucking threw myself at him and he declined. I am certainly not about to do it again." I was pleased that my voice was steady, even though I honestly felt like crying. Again.

She frowned. "Well, maybe he'll change his mind or something, you never know."

"Maybe." I was not at all hopeful about that happening.

"And you can always tease him a little bit next week. Dress up and leave him hot and bothered."

"That I might do," I mused. "If nothing else I'd feel great. And he'll know what he's missing out on."

"Exactly."

On Sunday night I flipped through the pieces in my wardrobe. I was pretty thrifty and although I hadn't spent much on the clothing, I had some nice pieces. Thrift stores and consignment shops had helped me build a nice professional wardrobe. I definitely didn't want to go trashy, I mused. Edward wasn't that kind of guy. Besides, I was trying to be somewhat subtle about the fact that I was torturing him. I put the red low cut blouse back in the closet. He'd like texture, and mysterious pieces that hinted rather than shouted, I decided. I put together several outfits for the week and the next morning I got up a few minutes early to spend a little extra time getting ready.

I figured Edward and I would go back to our usual routine. He would say hello in the morning, say goodbye to me in the evening, and he wouldn't flirt with me at all. No harm, no foul. I'd just have to continually remind myself that this was probably for the best, even if it didn't feel that way.

I couldn't have planned it better if I had tried. I was leaning over my desk on Monday morning trying to retrieve a folder that had fallen behind the hanging files when he walked by. I was facing him when he walked in and I looked up at him. I was sure he could see a little way down my shirt, although not far enough to see my bra.

"Morning, Bella," he said, his eyes lingering on the neckline of my shirt.

"Morning." I stood up and smiled at him.

"How are you?" He looked nervous all of a sudden, as if I was going to start yelling at him for the way things had ended between us on Friday. Or report him to HR.

"Great, I had a really good weekend," I lied. "You?"

"I've had better. Did you have big plans for the weekend?"

"Oh no, just something that kind of came up spontaneously. But the companionship was nice."

It was cruel of me to use that word when I knew it would drive him crazy wondering what I meant by it. My lunch date with Tanya on Saturday and study group on Sunday were a far cry from the weekend he was probably picturing. For a moment, I was viciously please that he was probably imaging me with another guy.

"Ahh, yes, well, have a nice day," he said a bit stiffly.

"You, too." I gave him a friendly smile and went back to work. The week continued much in the same vein. Edward passed by in the morning and I was friendly and dressed to tease. If we passed in the hall or happened to brush by each other I was subtly flirty. The final nail in the coffin was Thursday at lunchtime. The best part was, it was completely accidental.

I glanced up at the next patient who stepped in front of my desk to register, to see an old friend of mine.

"Emmett!" I got up from my desk and hurried around it. I gave him an enthusiastic greeting and he hugged me back. "I can't believe you stopped by, what are you doing here?"

"I thought I'd surprise you for lunch, if you have the time to go."

"I'd love to. I'm headed out in a few minutes anyway, can you wait until I finish up this email and get my things together?"

"Of course."

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Edward in the lobby just outside our office door. Had he seen my interaction with Emmett? I wondered. If he hadn't, it wasn't a big deal, but if he had, so much the better. I hastily saved my email and logged off of my computer before grabbing my bag. I waved casually at Edward who was loitering in the lobby on his cell phone. He gave me a half-hearted wave and glowered at Emmett.

I cuddled up to Emmett who gave me a one armed hug and a kiss on the top of the head - not at all an unusual greeting for us. "So, where are you taking me to lunch?" I asked.

We walked out the door arm and arm and I didn't miss the scowl on Edward's face.

Once we were in his Jeep Emmett turned to look at me. "What was that all about?" he asked me.

I gave him a sheepish grin. Emmett had been my absolute best friend and I had never been any good at hiding things from him. Being a cop really didn't help the issue, either. He had a sixth sense for when I was lying.

"Trying to make a guy jealous," I admitted.

"The old guy in the suit?"

Shit, of course he'd noticed, I though.

"He's not old." I scowled at Emmett.

"Too old for you."

"No he isn't."

"Come on Bella, you can do better than that."

"Edward is a great guy. Besides, I'm not planning to spend the rest of my life with him, I just want to get laid."

"Like he can even get it up anymore."

"Emmett!" I said laughing. "He's not even forty yet."

"Still old enough to be your father," he muttered.

"Well technically yes, but that's hardly the point."

He drove to a little deli down the road, and we went inside. Once we were settled at a table and we had placed our orders, I turned the attention to him. "So why are you in Portland, anyway?"

"Oh, a stupid state-wide training thing for cops. Some sensitivity thing." He made a face. "I'm sensitive."

I rolled my eyes at him. "You're a moose with no verbal filter is what you are."

"Hey," he protested. "I am damn good at my job and I know when to act appropriately."

"I know you do, I'm just teasing. How's Rose by the way?"

"Fantastic. She's out of the first trimester and feeling great."

"I am so excited for you guys. Do you know if it'll be a boy or a girl yet?"

"Nah, we're going to wait to find out."

Emmett and I spent lunch catching up. We'd grown up together in a small town about an hour south of Portland, and he still lived there. He was a deputy of the local police department under my father. For years he'd been convinced that Emmett and I were going to end up together, but when Rosalie Hale sailed into town and snagged him, even he had to admit that they were good together. I loved Rose and she'd easily accepted my friendship with Emmett and become my friend as well. I didn't see them often, but I missed them both.

Edward wasn't around when I got back from lunch, and he didn't return at all that afternoon. In fact, I hardly saw him all week.

*TBR*

On Friday night I was in a hurry to leave. My friend Alice was going to be visiting and I was so excited to see her. We had gone to high school together but hadn't seen each other in at least a year. She was one of my favorite people in the world, and a brilliant photographer. She lived in Seattle but she was in Portland to visit me, and we had plans for the weekend.

She called while I was struggling to throw my things in my bag and get out of the office.

"Hey!" I answered the phone excitedly. "I am headed out of work now. I'll meet you in twenty, okay?"

"Sounds good. I've missed you."

"I've missed you too," I said softly. "We shouldn't have let it go so long..."

"Definitely not. But we have the whole weekend."

"I'm yours for the whole weekend, I promise."

"Love you."

"Love you too."

I hung up the phone and turned around to put my coat on. To my surprise, Edward was standing there with a look of shock on his face.

"Hey Edward, you all right?"

He cleared his throat gruffly and shook his head. "I'm fine. You?"

"Great. I'm looking forward to the weekend." I glanced over at the clock on the wall.

"Actually, I'm running late, I need to be at the bar."

"Have a nice weekend," he said stiffly. "Be safe."

"I will, Edward, thanks." I smiled at him. It wasn't until I was halfway to the bar that I realized what he had probably assumed from my conversation with Alice. It sounded like a conversation with a lover or boyfriend, rather than a platonic, female friend. And knowing Edward, he'd assumed just that. The corners of my lips turned up into a small smile at the thought. Well, served him right.

Alice and I had drinks and then went out dancing at a club. It was the most fun I'd had in ages and we spent the weekend laughing and talking. She commiserated with me about Edward, and I listened while she vented about her ex-boyfriend James. By the end of the weekend we decided we were better off without men anyway, and it was just too bad we weren't lesbians.

Sadly, the attraction wasn't there, and we were going to have to settle for dealing with men, frustrating as they were, or give them up entirely. At the moment, I was leaning toward the latter.

*TBR*

Edward was hardly around the following week and when he did pass through the office he was aloof, barely speaking to me at all. When he did speak, he was curt, and I was hurt by the sudden change in his attitude toward me. The week passed slowly, and I focused on schoolwork, trying to get Edward from my mind. It was my final semester of school and I was eager to be done. I'd started out working at Providence just to make money for school, but it had quickly shifted my focus. I still wanted my marketing degree, but now I was hoping I'd be able to get hired at the hospital at their marketing department. I loved working there and although I was looking forward to beginning a career instead of a just a job, I didn't want to go to another company. I'd started out as a part-time employee, but about a year ago, they offered me a full time position in patient registration and I'd taken it eagerly. It delayed my graduation date because I could only take a couple of classes a semester. But at least all but one class was online, and that one was in the evenings. Still, I'd be glad to be finished, once and for all.

On Friday night I wrapped up my work and went to get my lunch bag out of the refrigerator like usual, only to find Edward in the break room.

"Hi," I said, startled by his presence.

"Hi, Bella."

"I was just getting my lunch," I said inanely.

He looked up guiltily from the bowl he had his hand in. "I was stealing someone's York Peppermint Patties."

I laughed. "I put them out for anyone to have, it's fine."

"Thanks." His long fingers snaked out to snag another one. "They're addictive. I think you're a bad influence."

"I try. It doesn't always work though. Some people are pretty good at resisting." I couldn't quite disguise the annoyance in my voice.

He gazed at me levelly. "It's harder than you'd think."

"I guess I got the opposite impression."

"You think it's easy for me to stay away from you?" he said slowly, dropping the pretense that we were talking about anything but our attraction to each other.

"It sure seems like it," I said, my voice sounding a little more bitter than I intended.

"I've been torturing myself over this for so long, Bella. I want you, I can't deny that."

"Then have me," I pleaded.

"I can't." His voice was pained and the expression on his face was tortured. "I want to, so badly. But there are about a thousand reasons why it's a bad idea. The fact that we both work here and that I'm so much older are just a few of them."

"No one else has to know, Edward. It can be our little secret. You can't tell me you don't want to go against your instincts and kiss me." I stepped forward, pressing my body lightly against his.

He groaned and tugged at his tie in frustration. "I want to...but I'm just not sure this is such a good idea...I mean..."

"Edward. Shut up."

I kissed him, and for a moment I forgot to think, or breathe, or do any of the things a human normally does to survive. His mouth was amazing. Perfect. Sublime. He tasted like peppermint and chocolate and every delicious thing in the world. His lips were soft, but not sloppy against mine. And his tongue, oh his tongue. I'd never felt anything like it; licking, twining, stroking. I could probably orgasm from it alone.

He ground against me before lifting me up onto the counter, his hesitation gone. My legs parted and I didn't care that my skirt rode up over my hips, because his cock was right there between my legs, so hard I could feel it throbbing against me. With only the thin satin from my panties and the equally thin fabric of his suit pants and boxers between us I could feel everything. Or maybe he wasn't wearing boxers; maybe it was just two layers between us. I moaned at the thought and ground my hips into his. I didn't care. This was a terrible idea and I didn't fucking care anymore.

I wanted this man. Now. He tried to pull back but I refused to let him, afraid he'd change his mind. I wound one arm around the back of his neck to pull him close while I reached between us to fumble for his belt buckle. The belt finally came apart and I managed to get the button loose and the zipper down. His tongue was still stroking mine, but it was a little bit slower, like he was slightly distracted. He tried to pull away again and I sucked his tongue gently in my mouth and he shuddered. My hand parted the fabric of his fly and I felt like singing the hallelujah chorus because he was bare under his pants and then it was just one layer of fabric between us. My underwear. Thank you baby Jeebus. I really wished I had on a pair of crotch-less panties or none at all, but I managed to push them to the side and sort of pull his hard, amazingly smooth feeling cock toward me. The tip brushed my pussy lips and I moaned loudly. My sounds were kind of muffled by his mouth and he shuddered when I tipped my hips forward to line us up. I guided him inside of me and he gave a tentative little push like he wanted to be buried in me but wasn't quite sure if it was okay. I really wanted to scream at him and tell him he'd be crazy to think I didn't want that, but it would require me moving my mouth from his and that just wasn't happening.

He nibbled at my lip a little and it was so fucking sexy. My hips rocked against his but at the angle we were at, if he wanted to be inside of me, he'd have to be the one to do it. My hand moved to his hip and I pulled it toward me just a little, to encourage him.

He was still hesitating though, and I was afraid he was going to change his mind. I was just about to pull my mouth away long enough to tell him to just fucking fuck me already,,, when he thrust inside of me. My eyes rolled back in my head and I was pretty sure I looked possessed but I decided I couldn't care less. The most perfect cock on the planet was inside of me and there was no way I was going to let it go. For any reason.

He pressed me back against the countertop; his hips beginning a rhythm that made my moans get louder. He muffled my sounds with his mouth, kissing me more deeply. My hands found their way to his hair, burying them in the thick strands and tugging on them as he continued to fuck me.

One of his hands slipped down to hike my hip up higher and my teeth bit down on his lip as he slid deeper into me. Thankfully, it wasn't hard enough to draw blood and it only made him thrust harder and faster. I moved against him, completely and utterly intent on my impending orgasm. Just a few thrusts later I felt the building tension finally spiral out of control and with one hand buried in his hair and the other gripping the shoulder of his suit jacket, I came hard. For a moment I saw lights flash behind my closed eyelids and I panted against his mouth, trying to muffle the sounds of my pleasure.

With just a few more deep, hard thrusts he came with a muffled grunt against my shoulder, breathing heavily. His fingertips rubbed softly along my thighs and I felt the warm air from his breath against my neck. He took a moment to collect himself and then he pulled back a little, a look of remorse immediately washing over his face.

"I am so sorry Bella, Christ, I shouldn't have done that."

I pulled away from him in shock. "You're sorry for what?"

"I attacked you."

I sighed, seeing exactly where this was going. Despite the euphoria from my orgasm, I felt myself crashing back to reality quickly. "Edward, I enjoyed myself."

"But Christ, at work, in the break room? I'm an asshole." He pulled out of me and hastily tucked himself back into his pants and zipped them, glancing around. "An asshole who is going to get us both fired."

Thankfully it was dark and quiet and we were tucked around the corner from the door, so even if someone had walked by, they wouldn't have been able to see us without stepping inside.

"You are now," I muttered and hopped down from the counter and righted my clothing. "I don't disagree that doing it here wasn't ideal. Anyone could have walked in. But they didn't. So don't apologize, don't try to make it into some huge thing. We fucked and it was amazing."

"But you have a boyfriend." He hung his head.

"A what? No I most certainly don't," I protested.

"What about that big beefy guy who picked you up for lunch?"

I scoffed. "That was Emmett, my best friend who is married to a gorgeous woman who is pregnant with his child. We've been friends since we were children."

He gave me a puzzled look. "Then who did you say 'I love you' to on the phone and run off to meet at the bar?"

"Alice, another close friend. Edward, I haven't been in a relationship in a long time, nor have I indulged in anything casual in at least six months. I'm free to do whatever, and whomever I please."

"Thank god, I feel so much better about that now." He sighed, and attempted to smooth out the wrinkles in his suit and tie.

"You must think very little of me if you think I'd cheat," I said bitterly, straightening my skirt and making sure my shirt was tucked in.

"No, Bella, that's not it at all," he protested, laying a hand on my forearm.

I shrugged. "Well, how else am I supposed to interpret it?"

"I know I'm completely addled by you and not thinking straight. Maybe it was stupid to think you were in the same state."

"Well, I am," I admitted. "Although I'm not sure that extends to me being unfaithful to someone I cared about. I don't think you are that way either."

He sighed. "Lord knows I was fighting against my interest in you the last few months of my marriage to Heidi."

I blinked at him in surprise but I really had no idea how to respond. When I finally collected my thoughts I spoke quietly. "Look, right now, I need to get cleaned up; I have come running down my thigh."

He blanched. "Shit, we didn't use a condom."

"I'm on the pill and extremely careful about taking it. And I'm clean. You don't have to worry about that."

"Thank god," he sighed. "I'm good too, I got tested after Heidi and I ended."

"You're right though," I admitted. "We should definitely have discussed that."

He nodded and looked at me seriously, his face pensive.

"What happens now?" I asked.

"I don't know," he said awkwardly.

I sighed, knowing I was going to need to give him another push if this was going to go anywhere else. Clearly he was feeling guilty about our encounter.

"Look we've established a few things. We're both single and we're attracted to each other. And I think I'm speaking for both of us when I say I don't want this to be the end of things." He nodded. "Obviously we need to talk, but this isn't the place to do it. There's just one more thing to figure out right now, Edward. Your place, or mine?"

He hesitated a moment and then spoke firmly. "My place. Why don't I meet you at the exit of the ramp? You can follow me to my place."

"All right."

"I drive a black Mercedes."

"I have a silver VW," I informed him

"Right, I remember it from the time I walked you out to the ramp."

We stood there awkwardly for a moment. He glanced around quickly to make sure we were still alone, briefly kissed me goodbye and let me go. I ran into the restroom before I left, cleaning up as best I could.

He was gone by the time I packed up my things, but when I pulled out of the ramp he was waiting in his car. He gave me a brief nod and I pulled onto the street behind him. He drove carefully, and it took about twenty-five minutes to get to the outskirts of Portland. He turned on to a quiet, tree-lined street filled with large old homes. He pulled into the driveway and as the garage door opened I saw an empty spot beside the one he pulled into. He got out and motioned me forward. I pulled in, parked and got out of my car.

"Are you sure you want me to park in here?" I asked him, a little surprised by his actions.

"No one else uses it," he assured me and I nodded and grabbed my purse before following him inside. There was a breezeway between the garage and house, which led to an entryway and a laundry room. Edward toed off his shoes and dropped his keys and wallet into a basket by the door.

"Um, do you want me to take off my shoes?" I asked.

He gave me a distracted look and shrugged out of his coat. "Oh, whatever you feel comfortable with. It's just a habit for me."

I took mine off as well, and looked around awkwardly, not sure of where I should put my coat. He took it from me and hung it in the closet to the right, which was nearly empty. I followed him into a large, open kitchen and we stared at each other for a moment, unsure of how to begin.

"Are you sure you're okay with what happened?" he finally asked.

"I'm sure, Edward. The location wasn't great, but it was incredibly hot."

His hair stood up wildly, a sharp contrast to how it normally looked. He tugged at his wrinkled tie and loosened it before sighing and relaxing against the counter.

"Look, I don't regret it. I'm just saying it wasn't the smartest decision either of us have made. For our careers, anyway," he finally said.

"I know."

Truth be told, I wasn't feeling nearly as nonchalant about what would happen at work after this as I was pretending to be. It was a complicated situation and I could see no clear way out of it. I'd thrown caution to the wind today, and been rewarded with an incredible tryst with Edward on the counter in the break room at work. Maybe it was selfish, but I wanted just a little more time with him before reality set in. We had a long road ahead of us, if we were going to make this work. I wanted tonight to be the perfect memory, and if it fell apart in the future, I would still have this.

I stepped forward and laid my hands on his shoulders. "Look, do you have anything planned for tonight?"

"No." He shook his head.

"Then I want you to do two things for me."

"Okay," he said cautiously.

"Forget about the conversation we need to have about what happens after tonight. We'll talk later, but I don't want to talk about it now."

He hesitated, but nodded his agreement. "What was the second thing?"

"Take me up to your bed and fuck me like you've imagined."

He took a deep breath, and I thought for a moment that he wasn't going to agree, but with his eyes locked on mine, he un-knotted his tie and flung it onto the counter top and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt. He took my hand and without another word he led me through the house, up the stairs and into his bedroom.

An hour later, I lay back on the bed, panting. My heart was racing and I was sweaty and disheveled. The man was nearly twenty years older than me, and yet he had the energy and stamina of a seventeen-year-old; an extraordinarily talented seventeen-year-old. I sighed and stretched, feeling the ache between my legs and the tightness in my thighs and hips. Edward sat up on his elbow, turning to the side and resting his arm on my stomach. My eyelids fluttered closed for a moment and I sighed in contentment.

"What are you thinking?" he asked.

"Really? You're asking me this now?" I asked in disbelief. "I can barely string two words together at the moment."

"So it was good?" he asked, looking suddenly vulnerable.

"Jesus, Edward it was off the charts good. I've never had better."

His small smile turned smug. "Really?"

"Really. You have a hot younger woman in your bed who you've just thoroughly satisfied. Why aren't you just enjoying this?"

"Because I have a hot younger woman in my bed, and I don't understand what you are doing with someone like me?"

I raised an eyebrow at him. "Having some incredibly hot sex. Do you mind?"

He sighed and traced his finger down the valley between my breasts. "I'm serious; just indulge me here for a moment."

"Okay. You really don't understand what I see you?"

"No."

"Edward, you're a brilliant, hard-working, devastatingly handsome man who just reduced me to a useless blob of jelly with your cock."

"The age thing doesn't bother you?"

I shrugged. "It made me wonder if I was too young for you to notice, but beyond that? No. I find you attractive, that's all there is to it."

We spent the rest of the weekend in his bed. I felt drunk on him, and he seemed equally besotted, spending hours just kissing every inch of my body, which I was more than happy to let him do. I returned the favor and I'd never felt more powerful or beautiful than I did when he begged me to let him come as I sucked his cock. We didn't talk about the future or the fact that what we did could have ruined our careers. Instead, we spent the time getting to know each other's bodies. It was everything I had hoped for, and more.

On Sunday afternoon, we ventured into the kitchen to eat leftovers and he had me pinned against the counter as they heated in the microwave. I was wearing his shirt and a massive hickey on my neck when the side door opened. Edward's head whipped up in shock and we were both staring at the door when she walked in.

She was young, no more than seventeen or so. She had a head full of messy copper curls, Edward's green eyes, and she looked pissed.

Notes: Yes, I am continuing this. This is just the one-shot as it was posted for the contest. I am absolutely turning it into a full length story and have a portion of it done already. I'm even considering posting as I write, rather than waiting to finish the whole thing before I begin posting, which is something I never do. You guys interested?

I'm dying to hear what you think!

p.s. "The Wedding Photographer" fans, not to worry, the continuation of that is going up in the next few weeks!

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