Hello! Long time no write, huh? So...it's not an update for Chain Reaction, I know. But it's something – which is a big deal since getting knocked up made all my creativity vanish – and this short story is finished. This was sort of cathartic for me, since I've basically been living this life since my daughter was born in August (though this is HIGHLY fictionalized). This is also unbeta'd, since I didn't feel worthy enough to ask anyone to look this over after I've been MIA for months. Anyway, hope you enjoy.

Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer. We all know this. No copyright infringement is intended.

Chapter 1

"Are you ready to go, love?" My husband rested a shoulder against the doorframe of the bathroom, raking his eyes over my reflection, pausing to literally leer at my chest. I hadn't buttoned my blouse yet, which left him a lot of skin to see. He practically drooled, and I caught him licking his lips.

"Just about," I returned, enjoying his obvious appraisal. A frisson of crackling energy warmed my belly as his eyes covered every inch of me.

But that didn't stop me from letting my own gaze wander. His dark, broken-in jeans perfectly hugged his hips. He wore a black button-down cotton shirt, sleeves rolled up over his forearms. His overlong hair was tousled atop his head, brushed up away from his eyes. It had been a while since either one of us had found the time to make it for a haircut.

Damn. He still looks like walking sex. How did I get so lucky?

While his looks were usually the first thing a person noticed about my husband, his appearance wasn't even close to the best thing about him. He was funny, smart, and so very patient – which had come in extremely handy in the past few months. Confident and self-assured in his job and at home, he was pretty close to the poster-boy for the ideal husband. If he wasn't at work, he was making sure his favorite girls were happy. And when he was home, we were. The warm, strong hugs, the infectious smiles, his ready laughter, and the way he looked at our new daughter all did a lethal job on my heart. He was just perfect; we were perfect together.

But one thing was not so great, and it was a big one. A doozy. And I felt so damn guilty.

Ever since our daughter had been born almost nine weeks ago – holy shit, had it really been nine weeks? – our sex life had taken a major hit. For the first six, I couldn't have cared less about sex, and he'd been too tired to do much begging. Having a baby effectively turned me into a parent zombie. I pretty much felt like one of the walking dead in those early days. It was sort of hard to reconnect with my husband when we both passed out within seconds of our heads hitting the pillow – when they hit the pillow at all.

I loved my daughter, but the reality of first-time parenthood was a far cry from the rose-colored dreams of the parent-to-be. Nothing could have prepared us for the changes that came with having a child. Our lives would never be the same. And I wouldn't change it for the world. Most of the time.

Some things hadn't changed at all. As a physician, my better half sometimes worked long, unpredictable hours, and it was always on those days that Emily had major meltdowns, though they didn't happen too often.

Before Emily was born, we'd both agreed that I'd stay at home with the her while he kept his job as a fellow at the local hospital. In those long, agonizing, boring two weeks before I went into labor, I was excited about the transition from career-woman to full-time stay-at-home mom.

It was around two weeks postpartum that my rose-colored glasses broke. They fell completely off and shattered on the dry, oven-baked dirt of the hottest summer on record in fifteen years.

I was ashamed to admit I'd been fantasizing about getting a job (simply for adult interaction) since week four. I was that desperate.

One thing that hadn't changed was my husband's libido. We hadn't gone a day where sex hadn't been mentioned at least once since Emily was three weeks old. After a few days of dealing with his pitifulness (and a few placating blowjobs), I finally felt a little guilty and let him have a quickie. I was a little worried so soon after my c-section, but I felt pretty much back to normal and he promised to keep it fast. Let me tell you, I was sold.

Right. Insert eye-roll here.

I panicked after we finished, remembering that I wasn't back on birth control yet. As I laid there beside my spent and admittedly satisfied man, I decided that if he got me pregnant again, I'd kill myself – after I killed him. Even though I was breastfeeding, my ovaries were probably stubborn enough to shoot out an egg that soon after giving birth. He teased me until I got my period, jokingly referencing my new bun in the oven and voicing his desire to give Emily lots of siblings. It was terrifying. Thankfully, he hadn't knocked me up again with that one lackluster attempt at reviving our sex life. The whole experience convinced me to get an IUD at my six-week checkup.

We hadn't been together like that since then, but not for lack of trying on his part. Now, six weeks later, I was finally starting to miss being with my husband.

From the glint in his storm-deep eyes, it seemed he was more than ready to take care of that.

"You look really great," he said, his voice a little husky.

"Thanks." Suddenly feeling a little shy, I pretended to focus on smoothing a coat of tinted gloss over my lips. I finished with a spritz of scent I knew drove him a little mad. "Gotta try to look hot, so people don't wonder what you're doing with the troll with the big ass." I started to squeeze past him, but he snagged my elbow and held me still.

"You're beautiful. Completely gorgeous." Pinning me with a firm, no-nonsense look, he wrapped his arms around me and let one drift down and then up again, under my skirt. "And I could tell you how much I love your ass, but I'd much rather show you." Taking a long, slow breath, he nuzzled his nose in the crook of my neck. "God, you smell good," he muttered, pulling my hips against his, flexing into me as he groaned a little. There was no mistaking the hardening length of him behind well-worn denim. "You're so soft...I love holding you."

I rested my palms flat against his chest and let my head drop back limply as he brushed his lips over my neck. "I wish we could stay in, Edward," I hummed lazily, inhaling sharply when I felt the heat of his tongue just behind my ear.

"I know, love. But we've got reservations. Let's go out and enjoy ourselves for the evening, since our opportunities to do so are few and far between these days." He pulled back, grinning crookedly. "Let's have a good time. When we get back, though...you're mine," he almost growled, dipping his head down to kiss me.

I whimpered against the soft warmth of his mouth, relishing the feel of firm flesh under my hands, hot even through his shirt. His heart thumped heavily beneath my palms, quickening when I opened my mouth to his questing tongue. And with that, I was ready to skip the dinner portion of our evening and head straight to the sex.

Too soon, he ended the kiss with a soft nip to my bottom lip and a gentle brush of his nose against mine. Our lips grazed once more before he backed away, holding his hands in the air. "Reservations," he sighed, looking pained, like he was having trouble sticking to his plans.

Swallowing heavily, I nodded. "We'd be stupid not to take advantage of the free babysitting."

"Right. Renee and Charlie are excited to watch Emily for us while they're visiting. They won't be here for long," Edward added.

One single mention of my parents was enough to banish any lustful thoughts I'd been having.

"Hopefully they won't be here at the same time ever again," I said through clenched teeth. Living under the same roof with both of my long-divorced parents was stressing me the hell out. No matter how many times I swept, it seemed metaphorical eggshells were splattered all over the floor when they were in the same room. I loved my parents, but this was a wet, messy minefield and I was tired of picking my way through.

"You can say that again," he laughed. "We really need to schedule these visits better."

Renee and Charlie had been at each other's throats ever since they'd arrived. If I had to hear one more argument over who was getting more time holding the precious grand baby, I just might have to tie them to the patio furniture out back, gagged and facing one another, for extra payback.

I sighed and went to button up my shirt. "It figures that the only week Charlie could get off of work would be the same time Renee had cheap-ass airline tickets. Are you sure we can trust them with Emily?"

"Don't ask me that. There's a part of me that never wants to let her out of my sight. But I know that we need a few hours to ourselves. We should have time to relax like we used to every once in a while." He paused and sighed quietly before gently moving my hands out of the way and taking their place with his own, slowly working his way up.

It was pretty much exactly the way I felt. We needed to do something together. We needed to be Edward and Bella the couple, not just Edward and Bella, Emily's parents.

As he fastened the buttons over my breasts, he bent to place a slow kiss low on my chest.

"You like my outfit?" I blurted before I could stop. My skirt flirted with the line between wear-to-work and date night The blouse I wore let a hint of black lace bra show through; it was more a shadow than a reality. I looked good, and I felt it. It had been so long since I even thought of dressing up for anything and damn, did it feel nice to be appreciated so blatantly.

He lifted his head, his eyes heated, mouth kicked up in that one-sided smile I loved so much. "So perfect." He finished the last button and slid one hand down to my hip. "You know I love the way you look in blue."

"Thanks." I looked down, my cheeks heating. It was amazing, how he could still do that to me after all these years. I was so lucky to have someone that made me feel so special... "Later, Edward," I reminded him, before we got too carried away.

"I really wish we could stay in tonight," he murmured with a sweet smile.

"Haven't I suggested that once or twice? Or three times."

"I know, I know. Let's go say goodbye to Emily."

Renee and Charlie were sniping at each other when we got to the living room. Emily was hanging out in her bouncy seat, staring raptly at the television.

Thanks a lot, Charlie. I really wanted to get my child an early start on the path to laziness.

"Well, we can't all be enlightened, Renee," Charlie snarked, mustache twitching.

Shit. That only happened when he was really mad. What the hell did Mom do?

"Charlie, don't be that way. I'm just saying, once you've been blessed with inner peace, all that stress will just melt away," Renee said, completely aware that she was irritating my father to no end. "Your aura is positively gray with strain!"

"Gee, I wonder what's causing all that stress?" Charlie deadpanned, turning his attention toward the college football game that was blaring on the TV. "Devil woman," he muttered under his breath. Renee narrowed her eyes and scowled.

Deciding I'd better interrupt their conversation before it turned into a boxing match, I cut in. "Hi, guys! Edward and I are all ready to go!" I chirped brightly. Fuck, I sounded just like Edward's sister Alice – and though I loved her, that chick was annoying to no end.

"Sure you don't want to take your mother with you?" Charlie griped under his breath. Thankfully, Renee either didn't hear or didn't acknowledge his comment. Edward looked panicked, but I simply ignored him.

"We should be home in a few hours. I've left numbers for our cell phones, the pediatrician, Edward's parents, his siblings, the neighbors, the poison control line, the restaurant, the police –"

"We've left all the numbers you need on the dry erase board in the kitchen," Edward interrupted with a wry smile, squeezing my hand. "If you need anything, just call us."

We both went over to kiss Emily goodbye. She gave us one of the adorable, shy smiles she bestowed so sparingly, blinking her eyes and waving her tiny fists. Wispy, dark brown hair stuck up on top of her head, making her look a little like Alfalfa from the Little Rascals. Her dark eyes glinted with a joy for life that made me all mushy inside. It was amazing – the feelings she inspired were like nothing I could have ever imagined before I became a mother. It was those few, precious moments that made most frustrations dissolve in an instant.

And seeing Edward interact with her? It melted me completely. She always looked so tiny in his large hands, but he was unfailingly gentle with her. The way he smiled down at her was so warm, so loving. And when he cradled her in his arms...it was just too much sometimes.

"We'll be fine, dear," my mother said dismissively, waving a hand. "No need to worry."

I snapped out of my thoughts and gave her a somewhat skeptical look. What she didn't know was that where she was involved, I'd always worry. At least with Charlie there to keep her in line, I felt somewhat comfortable leaving my daughter with the two of them.

After all, I survived them... Barely.

"Well, we have reservations in half an hour. We should go, love," Edward reminded me, taking my arm.

"Bye, you two!" Renee chirped.

Charlie just grunted and waved his hand in our direction. "Go, have fun. See you two kids later."

I swallowed uncomfortably. "Right. We should go." In spite of my words, Edward still had to drag me out of the house. I pressed another kiss to the top of Emily's head before I went.

Why was it so hard to leave my sweet, sweet baby when going somewhere without her was all I dreamed of?

Oh, the mysteries of motherhood...





There you have it – chapter one of five. You'll get a chapter a day, unless my daughter decides to actually nap like a proper 3-month-old. But I wouldn't hold your breath.