This was my entry in the Going for the Gold contest. It won first place in the judge's voting and second in the public voting. A huge thanks to anyone who voted for it, coldplaywhore for hosting, and to Risbee, Mana_Liz, pinkpixiechick, twiothgirly, and MrsSpaceCowboy for thinking it deserved some sort of recognition.
Thanks to my awesome beta, Stratan, and to stephk0525 for prereading it. Love you guys!
I don't own Twilight as I am not Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended.
"God, I hate it here," Bella grumbled into the receiver. A loud crash, followed by boisterous laughter, filtered through the walls of her suite in the Olympic Village. It was her third Olympics since she'd turned sixteen, and the last she'd attend, if she had her way. She was twenty-nine now, and knew that her body would only be able to keep up with the newest talent for so much longer.
The thought of falling, of placing last, was hardly the way she wanted to end her career. No, Bella Swan had worked far too hard, given up too much, for that. Ending it all with a win was the only thing acceptable to her.
And so she'd worked harder than she'd ever worked before. Her reward - that world championship title she currently held - was well earned.
She wasn't giving that up without a fight.
"They're providing us with even more condoms than they did in Vancouver," she continued. "I have like, three boxes sitting in the drawer of my nightstand. Three! What am I going to do with three boxes in two weeks? I couldn't walk after all that, much less compete!"
Back home, her sister cackled. "You're in Russia, Bella. Not a Tibetan monastery."
"No, I know... I just... I guess I expected someone to have determination. Dedication. This is nothing but a glorified frat party."
"You sound like your dad."
"Well, we are related."
"Listen, it's your last Olympics. You're retiring after this. Go have fun for a change."
"I don't know, Jess..."
"For me? Please? I don't get to be there to watch you this time. I have to settle with webcasts and ridiculously delayed showings on TV," she pouted.
"I hate you."
"You can't hate your own sister."
"Half-sister," Bella corrected with a smile.
"Still... It's... biologically impossible or something."
"Then explain Jerry Springer."
"I can't," Jessica giggled. "Please, Bella? Go get laid or something. You haven't let yourself have any fun since high school."
"I have fun," Bella objected.
"Most people don't consider laps in the pool during your time off fun."
"It's nice to actually get in water every now and then instead of skating on top of it."
"Think of all the sex those other Olympians are having. And what those skiers have hidden under their gear..."
"It's disturbing how invested you are in my sex life."
Jessica laughed. "Tell Mom I said hi when you talk to her."
"I love you. Good luck. We're all rooting for you over here. Just keep that in mind."
"No pressure at all there, Jess," she replied dryly.
"Oh, shut up. You have more titles than any of those other bitches. You've got this."
"I love you. Thank you," Bella laughed.
"Anytime. Call me when you get a break."
"I've got opening ceremonies tomorrow, and qualifications the day after that. I'll try to call you after I know if I've made it into the final, okay?"
"Okay, just remember the time difference. No calls at three a.m. I need my sleep. This face does not come easy."
Bella laughed again, said her goodbyes, and hung up the phone.
Jet lagged and with a rare chance to be alone, Bella fell asleep, only to be awoken by another loud clatter - this one coming from the living room of her suite. She blinked up at the ceiling and slowly rose. Texts from her coach and another from her mom awaited her. She quickly typed out replies, and then went to see what all the commotion was about.
Bella opened the door to find chaos. Someone with blond hair whizzed past her and jumped on the couch. She scanned the room and eventually found the source of the clatter: a lamp knocked off the end table and onto the floor.
It looked like her roommate was throwing an impromptu party. One Bella wasn't all that interested in joining.
It was too bad Bella couldn't tell which girl out of the group was her roommate. Otherwise, she'd make a quick introduction and leave.
She sighed and ran her hand through her long, brown hair.
"Which one of you is Irina?" she asked, shouting out over the music that was playing from the stereo in the corner.
Her roommate was the blonde, and was taller than she'd realized. Irina nodded her head in acknowledgement and smiled.
"Great. I'll just be... I don't know. I'm going to run to the store or something."
Or maybe hit the bar.
Not that Bella planned to drink anything just yet. She had a regimen. A plan. And she was sticking to it.
"No, thank you," she said dismissively, her Russian accent so thick Bella could hardly understand her.
Bella shoved her hands in her pockets and headed outside, the laughter inside her room slowly fading away the closer she got to the front door. She stepped outside and cursed the second her body registered the cold, and then immediately spun around to grab her coat out of the dorm.
The sounds of sex coming through her room's door stopped her in her tracks.
Maybe I'll just cut through the courtyard, instead, she thought. Pray it's enough to ward off frostbite on my toes.
Her hand was hovered over the doorknob; she jerked it back and glanced up at the man who'd spoken to her.
Long, dark red hair was hidden behind a black, wool beanie. He had on a white, long sleeved t-shirt with some kind of graphic design on the chest, bunched up at his elbows, and a pair of loose jeans on. A tattoo on the inside of his forearm flashed as he pushed off the wall and stepped closer to her.
He smiled at her, creating little lines at the corners of his eyes.
Bella gaped up at him. He was gorgeous, all tall and lanky. Not like most of the guys here.
And then she realized where she was, who he was, cleared her throat and said, "I'm pretty sure there's an orgy happening on my coat right now."
"Go in and join," he responded, smiling wider.
"Yeah. Ew. I don't know any of those people or where they've been..."
"That's what they gave us all those condoms for."
"I didn't say I was going to participate in the extracurriculars. I was simply stating what the purpose of the condoms were. To keep us all from the... ew."
He dangled his coat off of his index finger in front of her.
Bella blinked at it dumbly. "What are you doing?"
"Offering you my coat."
"Because I'm guessing you want to go outside in one that doesn't have cum on it."
"Oh, God," she whined.
He chuckled, and Bella's eyes were suddenly drawn to his again. They were green... No, blue.
Bella couldn't tell. All she could see was how adorable they were when he smiled.
Her nose scrunched up at the thought. She couldn't afford to be distracted like this.
"You want to go eat something?"
"The guys disappeared somewhere, and I'm starving. Keep me company."
She opened her mouth to protest, but never got the chance.
"It's either the lounge with me or your room. Take your pick."
Bella snatched the coat out of his hand and put it on in answer.
It swallowed her.
He laughed, "Looks good on you, squirt."
She didn't like that at all.
"I'm Edward," he eventually said, and held the door open for her.
"I know who you are."
His eyebrows shot up, and he tugged his sleeves down against the cold. "Do you now?"
Bella jerked a shoulder up, though she doubted he could see it under the bulk of his coat. "You're the skater-slash-snowboarder. Edward Cullen: King of the X Games, or whatever they're called."
She was lying through her teeth. She knew exactly what they were and what he did there. She'd watched him every year in fascination, wondered if he'd bring out any new tricks on the halfpipe.
It was amazing the way he could flip and turn, and then somehow land on four tiny little wheels.
"And you're the most decorated figure skater here."
Her eyes widened and snapped to his.
"Bella," she corrected, and then immediately wished I hadn't.
It was as if the right side of his face was being directed by an invisible string. His eyebrow and lips pulled up into the sexiest smirk she'd ever seen.
Shit, shit, shit.
"Can't change it now."
"Sure I can. It's force of habit. No one calls me Bella but people I like. You're not part of that group."
"You get points for the coat. And opening the door. That's it, skater boy."
"Do I win more points by telling you I'm a fan?"
Bella scoffed. "You're not, but thanks."
"I am. I watched you at nationals," he said quietly, his eyes darting around. She couldn't figure out why until he inched toward her, lowered his mouth to her ear, and said, "You have one of the best forms I've ever seen. Strong, effortless, and graceful... You belong on the ice."
She had to make an actual, physical effort not to swoon.
"Nice work trying to get into my pants, Cullen," she finally breathed.
"Of course I am," Edward laughed. "But that's not the only reason I say that."
"I'm not going to be one in the line of many for your Olympic pleasure," Bella said resolutely.
"Didn't I just tell you I wasn't participating in the extracurriculars?"
"You could've just meant those particular extracurriculars. I heard stories about you in Vancouver."
She had steered clear of him for that reason exactly.
And the fear of embarrassing herself by fangirling.
"Bella," he replied, that smile still plastered to his face when he pulled away from her and started back toward the building that held the lounge again. "The line of many is bullshit. You, of all people, should know what it's like to have something untrue spread about you."
"So you're saying you didn't have any one night stands?"
"I'm saying I didn't do half of what they claim I did. There might've been a one night stand in there somewhere. But both of us knew what it was going into it, so I don't see the big deal."
"Again, you're disgusting."
"I'm a guy," he said in explanation. "Besides, you can't tell me you've never done anything like that."
"I can, actually."
His brows knit together. "You're um... You're not a virgin, are you?"
Bella's jaw dropped in horror. For Edward Cullen to think she was some uptight little ice princess was mortifying.
Though, she had to admit: the term almost had her pegged. Especially lately.
"Oh, my God."
"What?" he demanded. "It's a logical question."
He hurried in front of her and opened the door, waving her through with a grin. "It's morbid curiosity," he countered.
Bella huffed. "Not that it's any of your business, but no. I'm not."
She slipped past him and into the lounge, praying her cheeks weren't noticeably red with her embarrassment.
"You just lost all your points with that, by the way."
He chuckled. "Fair enough. I'll get them back."
The lounge was surprisingly quiet, although, Bella wasn't entirely sure why she was surprised. Seemed like everyone was in the dorms trying to get to know one another. In the Biblical sense and otherwise.
Which was precisely what Edward Cullen was sitting here doing with her.
Bella immediately regretted agreeing to come with him. She wanted to leave.
But for some reason, she felt glued to the seat.
"You don't eat a thing. 'Steamed veggies, no butter, no salt'," Edward mimicked after they placed an order with the kitchen. He leaned back against the small sofa they shared and smiled. "It's a wonder you're alive."
"I got salmon, too."
"Specifically requested to be the size of a deck of cards."
"It's the curse of lycra."
That got him to laugh.
"You always eat like this?"
"No. Just during competitions. It is the one thing I hate about this sport. You eat just a little too much salt the night before, and everyone knows it."
He smiled and took a sip of his Coke. "You have a competition Saturday."
"How do you know that?"
"I told you," he answered. "I'm a big fan."
Bella had no idea what to say back to that.
So she settled with the truth.
"So am I."
"You're a fucking diva, aren't you?" he joked.
"No. I meant that I'm um... I'm a fan of yours," Bella stuttered in reply.
No hiding the blush that bloomed across her face now.
The look on his face... The way he studied her...
Bella felt like squirming. She never squirmed. Not even under all the pressure she felt just before a competition.
"What?" she finally asked.
"Nothing. I'd have just never guessed, is all."
"That makes two of us."
"So you watch the X Games."
She also had both of his video games and a sweatshirt she'd seen at the mall one day.
However, that was being kept under lock and key.
"Sure. You guys look like you're having fun. I can appreciate that," she answered.
"It is fun." He threw her a quick smile. "You should try it sometime. You'd be good at it."
"Seriously," Edward pressed. "Anyone who can do those triple salchows or whatever the hell they're called can flip a skateboard with their feet."
Bella's expression turned incredulous.
"What about on a snowboard, instead? Bet I can get you into practice Sunday. You are Isabella Swan. You have clout."
"No way am I getting on that thing. People die doing stuff like that."
"And no one's ever died from falling in your sport?" he shot back. "Come on. Try it. You're already going to be there."
"What the hell? Did you memorize my itinerary or something?"
He looked entirely too amused with the conversation for Bella's liking. "You're friends with Angela Weber. She's on the women's team. You were discussed."
"You've got to be kidding me," Bella muttered to herself. "I have a stalker. A famous one."
"Fan," Edward corrected, his face contorting in annoyance.
Bella thought even that was hot.
"You're coming. I know you are," he said confidently.
Bella chewed on her lip, debating it for a while. She knew she should say no, get the space needed to focus on solely on her upcoming competitions.
But by Sunday, her events would be over, and the pressure to be perfect would be gone. Plus, there was just something about Edward Cullen that had her interest piqued - her status as a fan of his aside. He was smarter than she'd thought he'd be, and witty as hell. Staring back at him, watching him toy with a black, braided leather bracelet on his wrist, she couldn't deny the attraction there. It was chemical, biologically driven, and now that she'd spent some time with him, all she could think about was what it would feel to have his hands on her; his scent, his taste, the way he kissed... fucked.
Bella puffed out a quick breath of frustration, and blamed her sister for putting the thought of sex in her head. She was never like this.
She was going to kill Jessica when she got back home.
If her coach didn't find out and put out a hit on her first.
Edward sat on the edge of his seat, fumbling with his phone and glancing around at the spectators seated around him. The performers were warming up on the ice, and Edward couldn't believe he'd pulled every string he could find to get a spot at the women's figure skating final. But Bella Swan had entranced him the other night. She was more beautiful in person than he'd imagined she'd be. Smaller, although he supposed she'd have to be to leap into the air like she did. Her laugh was incredible, and when she pushed her hair off her face, stared back at him with those brown eyes almost challengingly...
Jesus fucking Christ, he had it bad.
They hadn't exchanged numbers that night, though Edward had certainly wanted to. There was a guard around Bella, like she had to keep the rest of the world out for a while. Protect herself from someone like him. She'd put on a good show, too, but he knew it was more than that. She wasn't trying to protect herself from anyone other than herself. She was driven, had this unparalleled desire to be the best at what she did.
And if the rumors were true, Bella had more at stake this go around. She just needed a final win to send her off into retirement at the top.
No wonder she'd seemed wound tighter than he'd remember seeing her before. That kind of pressure could break a person in two.
So he'd let her be, knowing that she needed him to stay away until after she'd competed. But in just a few short hours, he no longer had to bide his time. And he was itching to get to know this girl... in every way he could. Find out what was beneath that hard, polished surface of hers; what was hidden under those jeans and that loose sweatshirt she'd had on when he found her.
With that, he let his gaze drift back to the ice and spotted Bella standing off to the side. She was fidgeting with her skate, picking at something on the heel. Her hair was pulled back. It was stiff and structured just like Bella was pretending to be. She wore a costume the color of her skin, sequined and iridescent under the harsh lights above. He almost laughed aloud at a sudden, errant thought.
The guys would bust his balls for years if they knew where he was or what he was thinking.
That he wondered if Bella had some sort of body glitter to recreate the look in the bedroom.
Because she was sexy as hell in all those sparkles.
Edward straightened up as a man sat beside him, a gruff sound of annoyance coming from the back of his throat.
"She's the only one with a gold medal and this is where they put us?" he griped.
The woman next to him merely rolled her blue eyes. "Can't expect first row every year, Charlie. Be glad we're here at all. Did you hear what they did to that Leah girl?"
"The speed skater?"
The woman nodded. "I heard her parents weren't there because they didn't reserve seats for them."
"That's bullshit. What kind of organization is this?" the man shot back angrily, and Edward snorted out a laugh.
The man turned, dark brown eyes trained on Edward.
"You're Bella's dad," Edward deduced, thinking very hard at how ironic it was to be seated next to her parents. It forced him to be on his best behavior and stop thinking of all the ways he wanted to see their daughter contort over and under him in bed.
Every muscle in Edward's body seemed to twitch at that thought.
"And you are?"
"Edward Cullen," Edward said with a smile. He debated shaking her father's hand, but decided against it.
He had a feeling it wouldn't go over so well.
"Oh, you're the boy Bella watches on TV," the woman exclaimed, and Edward thought his face would split in two. "It's nice to meet you. I'm Renee, Bella's mother. This is her father, Charlie."
He made another annoyed sound at that.
"Don't mind him. He's nervous for our girl." She paused and glanced down at the ice, saw all the skaters slowly making their way back off of it. "How do you know her, exactly?"
"Ah, I don't, really," Edward answered politely. "We met the other night."
Charlie squinted at him suspiciously.
"She had some... issues with her roommate's friends, so we grabbed a bite to eat."
Her father still looked unconvinced.
So, of course, Edward rambled on.
"I only realized you were her father because you two look alike." He gestured to his face. "It's the eyes."
Charlie glared at the tattoo now visible at his forearm.
Edward shifted and pulled at his beanie awkwardly. He wondered how Mr. Swan would feel if he saw what was on his chest, back, and ribs.
"Got it after my first Olympics," Edward explained, raising his shirt sleeve up just a little more to expose the jazzed-up Olympic rings inked there. "Couldn't help myself."
"Don't like tattoos?"
Charlie gave Edward a nearly scathing look. "Not particularly."
Edward sighed but said nothing back.
It was bound to be a long evening if this kept up.
A few minutes went by; an announcement was made. Edward could feel Charlie's eyes boring into him every now and then, almost as if he was studying him, his motives.
And then he confirmed it by asking, "What are you doing here anyway? You don't seem the figure skating type."
"That's a little stereotypical, don't you think, sir," Edward replied lightly, and watched Charlie's expression morph into one of surprise. "Truth is, I've kept up with figure skating for oh... Twelve years now?"
Charlie's brows rose disbelievingly.
Edward didn't bother to mention that it was after first seeing his daughter. Or that she'd starred in a number of his fantasies over the years.
The man was... intimidating, to say the least.
"Your daughter's just happened to be in all of them since then. She's great, you know."
"We know," he said quickly. "We're very proud of her."
Edward only smirked in return.
The lights dimmed, and the programs started. Edward leaned back against the seat and watched the skaters with a critical eye, knowing that even the slightest error could help Bella's chances. Not that he thought she needed it.
She was the international champion for a reason.
Finally, Bella took her place on the ice, and a camera panned over at the current leader, some Russian girl Edward thought had way too much glitter in her thick, strawberry blond hair. She watched Bella with an almost smug expression, like she thought she'd already won.
For as stalkerish as it felt, Edward had seen the footage from the night before; he'd seen how easy Bella had taken it, content to simply place and secure a spot in tonight's competition, keep her muscles loose.
Apparently, this girl had forgotten how close Isabella Swan tended to keep her cards.
And was about to be blown away.
Breathless and giddy, Bella glided off the ice and to where her coach stood, grinning proudly. He wrapped her up in a big, bear hug, picking her up and spinning her around.
"I guess that means I did what you wanted," Bella laughed.
Jacob Black put her down, flashed her another smile. "Exactly. If you don't get the gold-"
"I'm getting it," Bella interrupted. "I busted my ass out there."
He nodded and glanced around the arena. "So there's a rumor going around..."
"How shocking," Bella retorted dryly.
"About you and a certain snowboarder," Jacob continued carefully.
Blindsided, Bella's ankle rolled, and she grabbed a hold of her coach's arm to keep from falling over.
"And there's my answer," he sighed.
"Don't start," Bella warned. "There's nothing going on."
"No? Then why is he sitting with you parents?"
Bella's head whipped around to the spot her mother had told her they'd been seated at. Sure enough, Edward Cullen sat next to her father, black beanie covering his hair. He took it off, ran his hand through the mess it had covered, and her heart leapt at the sight. She glanced back and forth between them, tried to gauge the mood, but they were so far up she couldn't see anything.
Then she looked over at the Jumbotron, saw Edward's easy smirk and nearly lost her breath.
A camera flashed, and she started back to life again. Her posture straightened, expression smoothed out. "I thought you'd be pissed off."
"Oh, I am. Believe me, Bella; I am. You only had yesterday and today. Then you could've played around with whomever you chose."
She was offended, but she didn't let it show. She'd given away enough emotion already. "When have I ever played around with anyone?"
"You think this is anything more? That's Edward Cullen. He's not someone you bring home to meet the parents." Jacob paused. "Oh, wait. Too late."
"It's nothing," she said through her smile. "I told you already. He must've just been given that seat beside them."
"Purely coincidence," Jacob snorted sarcastically.
Bella didn't bother responding to that. She was still reeling from seeing Edward up there with her father in the first place.
Jacob ran his hand over the back of his neck, and a flush crept up into his cheeks. "You sleep with him?"
Bella's teeth ground together. "You're one of my favorite people in the world," she said lowly, "but what I do off the ice is none of your business."
"Unless it affects your performance."
"Which it didn't," she snarled.
Jacob's face hardened; Bella knew some coach-like thing was on the tip of his tongue, so she hurried off to await her fate in the long line of other competitors before he could get the words out. She wasn't in the mood to hear about how much of it was a mistake to get involved with him.
She already knew it by the way she couldn't stop thinking about him, looked for him at the opening ceremonies.
How she'd just reacted at the sight of him again.
Bella made her way through the other girls, earning a few glares on her way to her seat. She sat down and threw her skate guards on, growing uneasier by the second. The judges seemed to be taking longer than usual, and that was never a good sign. Her heart kicked up, and her palms started to sweat, but she refused to let her nerves show in any other way than with a quick fumble of the left side.
Once she got her guards on, she put on the jacket she'd been given to wear for the competition. She stood up, fought off the urge to pace, and then snuck a glance up to where her parents and Edward all sat. Edward rocked back and forth, his eyes darting at the scoreboard then at her, and through her worry she felt something else, something more.
Suddenly, Edward grinned and the crowd around him moved to their feet. Slowly he stood up, clapped, and let his eyes drift through the arena until they were on Bella.
And as much as she didn't want to; as hard as she tried to keep her emotions in check -
She burst into tears.
Edward thought the wait would be the thing in his life that finally killed him. Not the halfpipe. Not a steep, snowy mountainside, a cliff, or an avalanche. It would be this. Watching Bella take the gold on the podium. Seeing the tears well in her eyes, the grin that stretched across her face, and being unable to say a word to her, react in another way than one of the average spectator.
Edward was sure now it was more than just the desire to get her into bed. There was something about this girl, this spark inside her, he couldn't stay away from.
She was gracious, even when the Russian, Tanya Tarnovetsky, stormed off and started throwing things into her gym bag off stage. Bella simply laughed and shrugged, and then moved on to the next person, congratulating them and wishing them all well. She stepped over to the press, did interview after interview, and Edward found himself closing in on her, stopping only when her eyes finally flickered up to him. And he knew. Right then. Whatever bullshit show they had to put on to keep the reporters at bay was just that: absolute bullshit.
And so he smiled.
Bella caught it and smirked, finishing up her interview with a cursory glance cast in his direction. He watched her head over to her parents and hug them, and then grab a cell phone from her mother and laugh at the person speaking on the other end.
She looked at him again, and without another thought he moved. He wound through the crowd, past security until he was outside. He shivered and shoved his hands in his pockets. The air was cool and crisp, traffic heavy. He walked along the curb, searching out which car was Bella Swan's.
Then he saw her get into one.
He checked to make sure none of the press was around. Satisfied he wouldn't be caught, he rushed over to the black Mercedes and slid inside, glancing over at the girl whose face was still flushed, eyes so bright. One side of his lips lifted in a smile, and involuntarily, he reached over and took her hand.
"Thanks." Her voice was breathless, excited.
Edward's body instantly reacted.
"You have a lot of explaining to do," she said with an arch of her brow.
He shrugged a shoulder. "I told you I was a fan."
"Not good enough."
He let his lips twitch with a smile. "Fine. I wanted to see you, so I made a few calls. Got in a spot that happened to be next to your dad. I don't think he likes me much."
"You're not what he thinks I should want."
Edward was caught off guard by the suggestion in her voice, how different she was tonight. He cleared his throat, tried to calm his response to her and the way she shifted in her seat, crossed her legs so that the flimsy, nude costume skirt flipped up to reveal more.
He drew in his breath slowly. "And what is it you want?"
Edward blinked, and then he broke out into laughter. "I think you deserve a drink."
She grinned back at him. "So why'd you want to see me?"
"You're kidding, right?"
"You're going to make me say it, aren't you? I told you you're a fucking diva."
"Inflate my ego then."
"Oh, so you've got the ego now?"
"After tonight?" She closed her eyes as she reveled. "Fuck yes, I do."
Edward licked his lips, liking the sound of the curse on her tongue. He moved closer to her, hovering, waiting for her to open those dark eyes of hers again before he said, "I thought maybe if I saw you I'd stop thinking about you."
Her breath came out in a rush against his mouth, and he could almost taste her. "And how'd that work out?"
"Not so well," he rumbled. "It made me want you even more."
"We've already been over-"
"There's no line, Bella," Edward said earnestly. "There's only you."
She stared into him, seeking truth, and then something flashed across her face.
"For how long?"
"However long you want me, I guess."
"I'm going to kiss you now," he said, and got the pleasure of watching her mouth open in surprise. "Then you can tell me to leave if you want me to."
He waited for an objection, for the uptight girl he'd met just a few days before to resurface and push him away. But she didn't come. This was the Bella Swan he wanted to know, the one he saw glimpses of at dinner.
He leaned in and swore Bella stopped breathing for a moment. His lips brushed across hers, eyes fluttered closed. Edward's hand curled against the door, keeping him still; keeping it slow. Bella sighed and cupped the back of his neck, and he was brought to her, their bodies moving against one another with every shift - every bump - in the road on the way back to the village.
Need built and consumed, and Edward soon worked his way under Bella's coat, feeling the expanse of her back beneath the lycra, each jewel over her breasts. She moaned his name, and Edward abruptly came back to reality, pulled away and gasped.
"Fuck," he muttered, and watched a smile bloom across her face.
The car stopped; the driver got out.
"Stay with me tonight," Edward rushed out.
Her eyes widened, body shifted away from him.
"Nothing has to happen. I just... Look," he groaned, "I don't know if this is going to go somewhere or not. But I know I'm not fucking finished with you, Bella. Not by a long shot."
"Not finished with me?" she retorted hotly.
There was that guard.
Edward smirked at her. "No. I'm not. Whether it's here or back home, I'm going to want you. You might as well get used to it."
She stared up at the moon, a haunted look in her eyes.
"You don't believe me," he said flatly.
"No, it's not that," she protested. "I just don't get it."
"You're so what?" he pressed. "You're gorgeous? Funny? Smart? Talented?"
She fidgeted awkwardly beside him.
"I'm the one who should be wondering why you let me get in this car with you or kiss you..."
"Come on, Bella," Edward responded derisively. "I skate for a living. I'm hardly any good on paper."
"But you are."
"If only you saw the way your dad looked at me."
"I don't care," she snapped back. "I liked seeing you up there with them."
Knowing what he wanted, this feeling that was slowly beginning to overtake everything else, he waited for her to elaborate.
Because nothing he said meant anything if she didn't feel the same.
"I think you know how hard it is to find someone willing to put up with this lifestyle."
"From what I hear you're not into this lifestyle anymore."
She laughed softly. "And that is part of my point."
"So date another figure skater."
"Self-absorbed," she shot back.
Edward chuckled. "Cross country skier?"
She grabbed his shirt and yanked him to her. "How about snowboarder," she whispered. "Skateboarder. Olympic gold medalist. Entrepreneur. Someone on Forbes' Top One Hundred list."
Edward could feel the look she was giving him all the way to his toes.
"See how good you are on paper?"
He swallowed hard, fought for nonchalance, and returned with, "Isabella Swan, how long have you had a crush on me?"
She pushed him away and rolled her eyes, but he could see the way his words affected her.
He trailed his fingers along the heat of her cheek. "I have no idea why I waited so long to talk to you."
Her stare locked on to his.
And words no longer mattered.
Edward unlocked the door to his suite and hesitantly opened it, relieved to see that the room was dark, his roommate gone. He held the door open for Bella and let her walk in before him, and then locked the door back up, trying to give them at least the illusion of privacy in this place. She glanced around the room when he flipped on the lights, gazed back at him and smiled.
"Looks like mine."
He pulled his beanie off of his head and sat it on the counter beside him, suddenly nervous. Bella was still all sparkles underneath her jacket, beautiful standing there in the middle of the stark living room. He'd never felt this way about having a woman in his apartment before. Then he realized that when the situation arose, he'd always kept himself detached, focused only on his baser needs. But this was different. It wasn't some random woman standing there; it was Bella Swan, a person he'd respected and admired long before he got the courage to speak to her. He wanted whatever happened between them to be right - needed it to be right.
The knowledge of it ignited something in him, pulled him forward. He stood before her, stared down at her and watched her tongue slide over her lip. Her inhale was shaky, eyes wide when he reached up and pushed her jacket off her shoulders.
She let it fall to the floor, and his eyes roamed over her again, saw every curve.
"Uh..." He cleared his throat, tried to work past his need for her to speak. "Want anything?"
"I think I might need that drink we talked about in the car," she replied.
Edward had to agree.
He made quick work of mixing the only thing he had up - Jack and Coke - and brought it back to where Bella sat on his couch. She took it from him and sipped it, only to make a choking sound and scrunch up her face.
"Yeah. It's... Well, it's kind of tradition to take a shot before a ride. Calms my nerves."
"That doesn't seem very safe."
"Eh." He took a pull from his glass. "I've done dumber things."
"Like... nothing you'll find out the first night in."
She huffed playfully, took another drink. This time she was prepared for the taste, and simply stared back at him, swallowed slowly.
Edward suddenly couldn't wait to have her.
He gulped his drink down, took her face in his hands, and kissed her. Her mouth was warmer than his now; breathing heavy, more desperate. He managed to take her glass and set it down, press her back against the couch cushions. He fit himself between her legs, felt how hot she was, and he moaned, flexed.
Her legs wrapped around his waist, hands found their way beneath his shirt. The feel of her hands ghosting over the skin at the small of his back, and then slowly finding purchase, had his heart hammering at his ribs, blood boiling. She ripped the shirt off and let her eyes trail over his torso, touched at the tattoo on his chest before gazing back up at him.
And then he was moving with her, ripping things off just to see her. She wiggled beneath him, laughed, and pulled with him.
"Fuck, Bella. It's like Fort Knox back there."
More laughter, and she pushed him back enough to stand up. She fought with the closure for a moment, and then slowly shimmied her way out of the costume.
Edward stilled and stared, felt like his lungs had seized up at the sight of her. He reached for her, brought her down on his lap, and everything blurred. His touches. Her sighs. The way her body moved, tasted. They somehow made their way to his bedroom and fell to the bed, their kisses greedy, along every sliver of skin they could find. He blindly reached back into the drawer behind them for a condom, ripped it open with his teeth, and slipped it over his length, watching the way she stared at him as he did, and then waited with baited breath as she came down on him.
He grabbed her hips and groaned when he was all the way inside her, because God, he'd never felt anything so good. Her hair was loose now, working its way from its bindings. She rocked over him, and made a noise that Edward wanted to hear over and over again... each and every day for as long as she'd allow it. He brought his hands up to play with her breasts as she took him in, learned him.
He could feel her tightening around him, see how close she was to coming by the look on her face. Abruptly, he flipped them over and pushed into her again to feel her shatter beneath him and breathe his name.
His thrusts soon were harder, faster, as he sought release. When it came, he stopped, gripped the sheets underneath them, and found her mouth once more as he resurfaced.
They broke apart panting, staring. Eyes connected, they laughed. Edward crawled over her, his destination the bathroom. When he'd cleaned up and made his way back into the bedroom, he saw Bella searching for something to wear. She grabbed a shirt out of his suitcase and went to put it on.
Edward stopped her before she could guide it over her head.
His hands moved over the swell of her ass and around, slipping one between her legs.
Her head fell back against his shoulder.
"What do you think you're doing?" he asked her, and placed a kiss just beneath her ear.
His other hand took the shirt, tossed it aside.
"I'm not finished yet."
Bella's phone chimed beside her. Still tangled up in Edward, she groggily reached over and slapped at the nightstand until she'd found it. With her eyes closed, she pressed the button and answered.
"Oh, my God," her sister shrieked in her ear. "You're with Edward Cullen?"
Bella shot up in the bed, cringing as soon as she realized what she'd done. She glanced over at Edward and saw he hadn't so much as moved.
His hair covered part of his face, so she brushed it back and stared, for nothing else than to see some other facet of Edward Cullen - a sleeping one.
"Bella!" Jessica shouted.
"For someone so adamant about me keeping track of the time difference, you sure don't have any problems calling me at four in the morning," Bella hissed back.
"Are you with him now?"
Bella didn't try to understand the ramblings coming out of her sister's mouth. Word about the two of them was spreading fast, and she needed to make a quick getaway before her walk of shame was broadcast internationally. Her time at the Olympics might have been over; she might've ended on top, just the way she wanted.
But she still had a reputation to uphold.
She grabbed the gray thermal shirt of Edward's off the floor and dug around for a pair of boxers in his suitcase. She dressed, her sister chattering away in her ear, and checked to make sure she hadn't woken him.
He apparently slept like the dead.
She went out into the common room, shut the door behind her. With a yawn, she asked, "How does everyone know?"
"No one knows for sure," Jessica answered. "But he sat with Mom and Charlie. That speaks-"
"Coincidence," she interrupted, using Jacob's earlier word to describe it.
"Whatever!" she laughed.
"No, really. It was."
"But there's truth to it. You're in his room."
"Yes, but none of what happened tonight was planned. He just showed up." Bella started gathering her things up off the floor. "By the way, where's my congratulations?"
"You're getting a party when you come home. That's congratulations enough," Jessica snarked back. "I want details. Every last one."
"No. I have to go before someone sees me." She glanced around the room wildly for a pen and piece of paper and came up empty. She sighed. "I'll talk to you in a little while. I'm going back to bed."
"You're no fun," Jessica pouted.
Bella hummed noncommittally and hung up the phone. She unsuccessfully checked around the room for a piece of paper one more time, and then finally left the room.
She crept down the hallways that lead to the elevator and pressed the button. She heard a noise and flattened herself against the wall.
And cursed when the unexpected rounded the corner.
Ski gear in hand, Edward banged on the dark blue, steel door, waiting for it to open. Waiting for an explanation of why he was left alone, when he'd thought-
The look on Bella's face snuffed out all his anger.
"I screwed up," she replied.
She swiped at one of her eyes, and Edward realized she'd been crying.
"What's all that?"
"Just some shit for later," he said indifferently. He glanced around the hall before asking, "Can I come in?"
She opened the door a little further for him.
Now that they were alone, he noticed she had on his clothes and how much he liked seeing them on her. She tried to tame her hair, and he ended up grinning at her as he sat the duffle bag down on the ground.
"My sister's an inconsiderate asshole and called me at four this morning."
"And so you decided to just leave?"
"No. I looked for some paper to write you a note." She exhaled sharply. "I thought if I left that early, I could avoid a walk of shame later."
"I sense a 'but' coming on."
"I ran into Tanya Tarnovetsky out by the elevator."
"So... she saw me come out of your room. She's going to let it leak," Bella said in exasperation. "If she hasn't already."
He was quiet for a moment. Processing. And then, "I don't see the problem. I mean, I want to figure out how to keep this going when we get home. Don't you?"
She chewed on her lip, all too interested in the picture on the wall for his liking.
She looked at him then, her face apologetic.
He felt like he was being ripped to shreds.
"So that's it then?" he asked angrily.
She didn't reply.
It was all the answer he needed.
"It's already out, Bella. What's the big deal?"
"The big deal is that I have a reputation to uphold. Little girls look up to me. How is it going to look if-?"
"You're with someone like me?"
"That's not what I was going to say," she argued. "Not at all."
He was too pissed off - too hurt - to hear her, though. "Tell me something. Was all that stuff you said about me being good on paper bullshit then?"
"Because you really had me going."
"God damn it, just stop already!" she shouted. "You are... I'm lucky that someone like you wants me. But this isn't- It's just so..."
"I believe the word you're looking for is sordid, Bella. Like daytime soap shit, right? Because hey; it's not everyday some goodie goodie figure skater sneaks off to fuck a bad boy snowboarder. Surely nothing good can come of that."
"I'm sorry. I am. But I don't know what to do. Jacob called and-"
"Your coach, Jacob?"
"Yeah. He told me there's all this buzz about some endorsement deals going on, but if there's a scandal-"
"He called it a scandal? What the fuck, Bella? Do you know how many other Olympians have met like this and fallen in love? How is that scandalous?"
Her mouth dropped. "What? We barely know each other. There's no way you could love me."
"But it would've been so goddamned easy to," he snarled in return.
He started toward the door, not bothering to pick up the duffle on his way by.
"It was nice to meet you, Bella. Too bad things didn't work out the way either of us planned."
He heard her sob as he opened the door, but he didn't look back. He didn't stop. He just kept going, through the crowd of photographers outside, and into an awaiting car to take him up to the halfpipe. He just needed to get on a board for a while until all this was put behind him.
Until he'd forgotten the way Bella Swan had made him feel just now.
Like he wasn't good enough after all.
Edward checked his board, and then started down the halfpipe. He came up in the air, readied himself for a trick, but it didn't feel right, so he simply made an arc and went back down to the flat. The second he stopped, he ripped his helmet off and glanced around.
He let out a string of curses as he realized that everyone was standing around watching... gaping at how elementary his riding was today. He unsnapped the board and stepped out of it, and then roughly grabbed it up off the halfpipe and stalked over to where his teammates stood in disbelief.
Edward threw the black helmet to the side. He peeled his gloves off and took another look around.
"What?" he demanded harshly.
Only Ben Cheney was brave enough to reply.
"Ah... Hey, mate," the Australian began. He ran his hands through his hair and grimaced. "We're... Well, we've watched you do that all day. Got something on your mind?"
Ben's eyebrows rose. "Okay. Still. That's not like you. Not that I should be complaining. Your off day is my good day, y'know?"
Edward glared at him and said nothing.
"Right. So... Prelim's are tomorrow. Think you'll be alright by then?"
"Yeah. I'll be fine." Edward squinted out into the distance, thought about taking a ride down the mountain then changed his mind and let the rest of his gear fall to the ground. With the way things were going today he'd likely break a leg rather than clear his mind if he went out there.
So he wouldn't. He'd go back to his room and sulk, instead. Maybe drink. Try to forget.
"I'm out for the day," he told them. "See you tomorrow."
Edward didn't wait for them to respond. In truth, he wasn't fine at all, which was what pissed him off the most. He shouldn't be so affected by this, by someone he barely knew deciding that they were through with him. It wasn't the first time it'd happened, and it probably wouldn't be the last. But it was the first time Edward had actually wanted anything more from a person, to get to know them and see the ways they were synced or how they clashed.
It was the first time his heart had gotten involved so quickly, and it had promptly been trampled on by some five foot nothing brunette.
The same brunette whose face was all over the television with her most recent win and an interview she'd given just this morning. Her name was on the lips of millions. She was inescapable, this girl, and Edward was learning he liked it that way. The torture. The reminder.
Because he might have been furious with her for dismissing him like she did.
But he still wanted her.
Bella stared out her window numbly, watching people as they passed through the courtyard. They laughed. They huddled together against the cold.
"You look like hell," Irina said.
Bella twisted around. Stared at her.
"Aren't you supposed to be celebrating?"
She touched the gold medal around her neck, cool beneath her fingertips. She'd put it on after Edward had stormed out to remind herself why she was here. Make her feel better about her decision. But no matter how long she had it on, it didn't help. If anything, she felt worse. Because she'd given up the start of something for...
"I don't know," she finally mumbled. "I don't know what I'm doing."
There was a knock at the door. Irina went to answer it, and let Bella's coach past the threshold.
"I was thinking..." Jacob started, oblivious to Bella's sour mood. "We have all this downtime before we go home. We should go watch some of the other events."
Bella felt her heart twist in her chest.
"Got anything in mind?"
Jacob sighed and sat down on the couch. "We've been over this."
She nodded, felt jittery all of a sudden. "But why?" she blurted out. "Why is being with Edward so bad?"
"Because I..." Jacob floundered for a moment, and Bella saw something in his expression that didn't want to see, something that was similar to the way Edward looked when he was with her.
She brought her hand up over her mouth to smother the sound rising up out of her.
"We have a vision for you, Bella," Jacob continued. "One you agreed with when I first started training you."
She swallowed it down, ignored the way her stomach rolled with the thought of what she'd done so inconsiderately. "The vision wasn't supposed to be like this, Jacob. I didn't give up being happy for L'Oreal."
"Cover Girl," he corrected.
"Jacob," she said fiercely. She waited for him to look at her, listen to her. "That's not the point. The point is that I finally found someone I wanted to... to... No, that's just it. I found someone I want, and I was so afraid to step out of my comfort zone for once that I let you talk me into thinking that people knowing about us was bad."
"Being caught sneaking out of his room at four in the morning isn't good."
"Not that part," she conceded. "But the rest? Being with him? Did you know that he wanted to find a way to make it work when we got back?"
He tensed up, like he was readying himself for the blow.
Bella felt bad - guilty, even. But it didn't change a thing.
"And I do, too. God, I'm so stupid!"
She shot up out of her chair and grabbed her laptop out of her bag. She tapped her toe to the ground impatiently as it booted up, and then quickly called up her internet browser.
"What are you doing?"
She ignored the question. She was too angry with him - with herself - to answer. All she wanted to do was see Edward's face, make sure he'd qualified for the final tonight.
She went through the scoreboard; her eyes widened when she saw he'd barely made it through. Another browsing tab now, this one to search a video of his ride last night.
He was so sullen, so...
"I have to go."
She grabbed the blue coat Edward had left behind and threw it on, casting one last look at the man who'd been in her life for years. He really was good looking. Tall, dark, and handsome, as they said. But he wasn't for her.
She just hoped that one day he'd see it, too.
"I have to fix this. I have to go find Edward."
"No, you don't understand!" Bella yelled in frustration. "I have to be up there!"
The security guard shook his head and crossed his arms over his huge chest. "Sorry."
Bella huffed and craned her neck to see past him. The spectators had already made their way to their seats at the end of the halfpipe, and the lights were shining brightly overhead. She could see where the guys were getting ready just past the fence where the security guard was posted, knew Edward was among them somewhere.
Yet there she stood. Blocked at every turn.
She'd never felt so helpless before.
And then she spotted a miracle.
"Angela!" she shrieked, and flailed her arms around wildly. Normally, Bella wouldn't be caught dead doing something like this; she made it a point to be poised in public. But looking ridiculous in front of millions of people didn't matter right now.
She just needed to get to Edward.
Angela heard her and turned, eyes widening as soon as she saw Bella. She smiled, and Bella sagged in relief as she started toward her.
"Hi!" Angela said brightly. "How are you?"
"You got past security."
Angela gave her a peculiar look. "Well, yeah. Ben's competing."
Ben. Of course. Bella had been so concerned with talking to Edward before the competition started, she'd completely forgotten Angela's fiance was riding tonight, too.
Bella beamed. "Can you get me by Lurch?"
The blond man glowered down at her.
"Let her through," Angela said, pushing the muscular man to the side and drawing Bella into a hug. "It's so good to see you."
"You, too," Bella replied, and then jerked away. "But I need to find Edward Cullen."
Another peculiar look, this one accompanied by a blink of confusion. "Edward? Why?"
A man's voice came over the loudspeaker, announcing the first competitor. Bella's heart raced, and whatever expression on her face cause Angela's jaw to drop.
"What?" Bella shook her head forcefully, like it would help to clear it. "Oh, right. Yeah."
Angela puffed out a breath and stepped to the side. "I did not do this," she said sharply.
Then she pointed over the left, where Edward stood with his helmet in his hands.
"Thank you," Bella whispered gratefully.
"Yeah, well, Ben's just going to have to like the color silver."
Bella grabbed a hold of Angela's face and planted a kiss right over her mouth. "You're such a good friend."
Angela's lips twitched, and she rolled her eyes. "Our publicists are going to kill you tomorrow."
"I don't care."
Angela laughed just as Bella focused on where Edward stood again. He stared back at her, his face a mixture of emotions, and her heart sped up again. She gulped and started forward, gnawing at her lip as she neared him. She wasn't sure what to say, and the closer she got to him, the more she realized she hadn't exactly thought this all through.
None of it mattered, though. The second she was close enough, Edward reached out for her, those pale eyes of his boring into hers until he was kissing her, and then everything seemed to fade into the distance, including the feverish click of cameras around them.
"I'm so sorry," she murmured into his mouth. She pulled back, smiled, and pushed his hair back behind his ear. "You just don't know. I-"
"Why'd you change your mind?"
"None of it means anything if I'm not happy," she answered.
"And I take it I make you happy?"
She laughed even as her eyes filled with tears, and she felt like she'd burst in his arms like this. "Yeah. You do."
He grinned down at her. Took the collar of his coat between his fingers. "You're wearing my jacket."
"You want it back?"
He shook his head, kissed her again. "I just want you back, Bella."
"You think you had me in the first place?"
"I was working on it."
She giggled, her eyes widening at the sound. She'd never done that before. "You had me. I think you've always had me. I was just too afraid to admit it."
His smile grew, and she brought her hands up to trace the lines around his eyes she adored so much.
And him. She adored him. Every last part of him.
"And now?" he asked her.
"Now I need you to have one of your people get me a hat and a pair of gloves. A scarf, too, if it's not too much to ask."
He looked at her strangely, and on a whim, she stood up on her toes and pressed another kiss to his lips.
"Because I'd rather not freeze my ass off while I watch you bring home gold."