Chapter 6: A Convincing Act

I can't breathe; can't seem to function, unsure what to do at this point. Do I call her? I remember her phone number from the gym, so I grab my phone and put it in my contacts in case I need it at some future date. And what about the partner yoga class? Do I go ahead and show up? She said she was going to pay for it. What if she already did? Is there a way I can cancel and tell the gym to refund her the money?

I shake my head and ignore the gnawing feeling in my gut. I'll go to the gym tomorrow and talk to them about it. I can't be touching her and act like I don't care about her.

And she's clearly in love with her ex.

I pace and huff and act like a goddamn girl, waiting for a guy to call after a date.

What's my problem?

I grab a paper out of my notebook for school, take a pencil and start writing her a note.

This is the best way. I can't see her again—too painful.

When I'm done, I briefly proofread it to make sure I've said all the things I need to, without sounding like some pathetic ovary with tear ducts.

Bella,

I don't know how you did it, but you've stolen a part of me. I saw something between us I wanted to explore further, and even after I saw today what you've been dealing with in regards to your ex, Jake, I still wanted more. I was prepared to protect you and help you move forward, but you obviously don't want my help. And I'm not willing to grovel for scraps of your attention. Not to mention—I refuse to share you with some other asshole. The way you treated me today was inexcusable, dropping me in a moment's notice at his whim when he treats you like trash. I won't let you do that to me again, and I really hope you never do that to another guy. I don't know what happened to the woman I was getting to know—all self-confidence and sure of what she wants. It seems once he's within a few feet of you, that all disappears and you lose sight of who you are. I hope you can find a way to love yourself all the time, even when he's around. Please find happiness and love again. You deserve it.

Best wishes,

Edward

I change into some jeans, a tee shirt and some tennis shoes then grab my bike. A little bit of grease gets on my pant leg as I'm hauling it out to her car, but it doesn't matter. It's not like she's gonna even look at me. I frown at the thought of how indifferent she might be when I get there.

It takes a moment to remove the front wheel and place it, along with the rest of the bike, in the trunk. I'll need a way to leave after I drop off her car.

"Ooohhhhoooo," I take a deep, gut twisting breath. My feet are numb.

I start the car and head back over to her house. Once I'm at her place, I set the note on the passenger's seat so she'll see it next time she's in here.

When I slip out of the car, I glance to the side. Yep, still here. His car never left. And for some idiotic reason, my heart sinks.

Why did I fool myself into thinking I could handle this woman? A low whine traps in the back of my throat. My teeth click closed and my jaw tenses.

She warned you, and now you're being a pussy since you didn't get any.

I snap my head away from her house, my eyes moistening.

As I'm pulling my bike out and reassembling it, I can hear their voices in her backyard. Once the wheel's back on, I ride by her fence and chuck the car keys over it.

Pliiiiick!

It sounds like it lands on the soft grass. I don't look into her yard, because fuck if I wanna know what they're doing back there.

Spllliiiiish! Glooooosh!

Water is churning, moving in her backyard.

Were they swimming? Does she have a hot tub they're having sex in?

Shit! The image of her tits in his mouth makes my stomach drop and crush down on my tightening nuts.

I turn my bike down her driveway and take off, pedaling as fast as I can.

Daaaaap!

A door opens and slams closed.

"Edward! Wait!" she calls after me.

I set my jaw to steel, and my legs pump harder.

Don't turn around!

The tendons in my neck stand out, and I stare straight ahead, determined not to look at her beautiful face.

That agonizing, tempting face and body call out to me, and I go over all the stupid details in my memory of the moments I had with her, so I can try and find what I did wrong.

Why does she have two cars? Why would she even let me take one if she didn't want to see me again?

Am I being a dick, and she was telling him on her own terms to fuck off?

That's not what happened—she left you behind, and didn't care what it did to you.

Question after question, assaults my mind. So many scenarios and probabilities—and no answers at all.

"Mrrraaah!" I scream.

My head aches and my legs strain to go faster; protecting me from myself so I don't go back to her.

Why do I even care? I barely know her.

I take a deep breath, and the scent of her is on me after being in her car—it's driving me crazy.

My dick's too proud to say it's over, so instead, it engorges and gets harder.

That's what her scent does to me. That's what she does to me.

Mother fucking stupid cock. Why can't it do this for Haley? Or some other girl at school that's actually interested in me?

Emmett's right. There's something seriously wrong with me.

.

.

.

I step into the gym the next day, ready to do what needs to be done, but then I see her, standing in the hallway, tears in her eyes.

Did she see me?

"Shit!" she mutters under her breath, and she slowly ambles away in the opposite direction.

My legs move faster than my brain, evidently, because I'm behind her, my hands on her shoulders.

"Bella . . . I . . . Are you okay?" I turn her around.

Her eyes are red, swollen and wet; there are tear tracks down her cheeks. She doesn't respond back.

"Please, answer me. Are you . . . Did he do something to hurt you?" My gut tightens. No, asshole, you're the one that left her that nasty note and wouldn't listen, acting like a toddler when she tried to get you to stop.

My eyes shift over her body, making sure there aren't any bruises or anything like that. For all I know, he could've been an abusive husband.

Yeah, and you left her with him, you bastard.

I loosen my grip on her shoulders and search her eyes. My gut feels ready to explode from the tortured look on her face.

Her lips tremble and her cheeks rise. "No. Do I look like I'm okay?"

"You look like you need an AK47," I say, smiling. "Or maybe a castration kit? I'm sure I can direct you where to get one, though I can't say I'll stick around—since you'll probably need a man to practice on."

She smiles for a fraction of a second, then shifts her eyes away. "Shut up," she says, hiding a laugh built into that statement.

"'Shit hole day. I'm so fucking pissed . . .' That's what you're supposed to say, and then you follow it up with, 'Now, I've decided I'm ready to fuck you without any further interruptions,'" I tease. My stomach revolts, telling me I deserve to be slaughtered by her if I'm gonna go this route again. What kind of an immature asshole am I, to tell her I'm done, don't want anything to do with her, to turning around the next day and mocking her about fucking me again?

I kick my foot behind me and when it lands, my leg is pressed up against hers.

Her eyes flit down to our point of contact. She stops breathing and her eyes go a little wide.

A tear leaks out of the corner of her right eye. "I'm sorry about yesterday," she says.

God, tears . . . I can't take it.

I swipe it away with the side of my thumb and brush my hands past her hairline and drag them down the back of her ponytail.

"Please, don't cry, Bella. I can't breathe when you look so sad. I can make it better." Her face contorts in absolute pain, and without hesitation, I take her into my arms and hold her head on my chest. I want to ask her if I'm the reason she feels like shit, but I can't. It'll kill me to know I did this to her.

Instead, I rock her back and forth, pulling my hands down her back.

Who cares if we're standing in the hallway at the gym? Let people watch.

"How can you make it better?" she asks, her voice shaky.

"I can make you remember who you are—a powerful, intelligent woman. Let's go inside the class, and I'll be your partner. Yoga will make you feel better."

I extend my hand to her.

But, before she takes it, she leans in and brushes a kiss across my lips.

I groan from her whimpers and body, pressing into me like she can't get a goddamn breath without my help—from my lips on hers.

It makes my dick almost burst in my shorts, the way she grabs at me, and sounds devastated by my touch.

I sweep her hair back behind her shoulders and cup the sides of her neck. She breathes into me and melts into my body, still making this labored, gut wrenching sound of pure need. My arms slide around her back and grow more urgent as her tongue explores my mouth. I walk her backwards and shove her up against the wall roughly.

My hands push their way up her shirt, and she wraps a leg around mine.

"Uuuhhhnnnn." My cock presses between her thighs, my chest constricts and I curl around her body, swallowing her up until she's nothing but a warm ball, tucked into my chest. I want to disappear inside of her. I want to make her forget everything but me as I push my body as hard as I can into her, but then I remember how much pain she's been through with men in her past.

I don't want to hurt her.

My cheek sweeps over hers, and I nuzzle under her ear. "No more sadness. I mean it."

Her slight fingers brush across my jaw and she scratches at the day old stubble there.

Footsteps land softly behind us, heading in our direction, so I let her go. She smooths her hair out and without a word, she heads into the studio, grabs a mat and starts stretching.

Her emotions are rolling off her and she keeps her eyes off me.

I move next to her, pausing at her side. "Hey . . . I can take you home instead if you want. We don't have to do this," I tell her.

She stops moving for a moment then shakes her head. "I'm okay," she murmurs.

"You sure?" I glance the back of my knuckles down her arm.

Her arm raises for a second. "Yeah. I need this."

"All right," I respond and grab my own mat.

A few minutes later, the teacher is at the front of the room, smiling and giving instructions.

At first, Bella's stiff and her movements are choppy and forced.

The more I touch her, the more fluid she becomes. Her eyes soften, her body bends, and she's my Bella once more. The woman that commands attention and has no qualms about who she is, what she wants and needs from me.

At one point, she leans into me, and I whisper in her ear, "This is where you say, 'I wanna fuck you so bad, I can already taste my pussy on your lips.'" I kiss her softly.

Her eyes shine at me, and she smiles like she's a second away from giving in and letting me surround her with all that I am.

"Can you taste it?" I ask.

She blinks and sighs. No reply.

"I can . . . I can slide my tongue across that flavor of yours," I respond with a low growl.

Her skin darkens into a faint blush.

I brush the back of my knuckles across the hollow at her throat as I bend her backward. Her shirt slips up, and my hands find an inlet to warm, inviting flesh.

So close. Those tits are right there, but there's no time, and my job is to be her partner, not a molester.

Though right now, the latter sounds more enticing.

I press my fingers into her, hold her steady, and stroke her body as she bends and sweats and breathes hard.

It's erotic, and I need more. I need her to forget that prick she divorced.

"When are you going to say it? 'Fuck me, Edward—I need it, and you want me.' When you say it, I'll answer, 'About fucking time,' and then no more discussion." I smile and raise a shoulder as she exhales across it.

She sways near me, swinging into a new pose.

I stand behind her, my hands on her hips as I steady her into standing tree pose.

My lips hang out near her ear. "God, you smell good. But your pussy smells so much better . . . My fingers still remember what you feel like on them. They like how warm and tight you are. Are you wearing those balls today? Fuck, I hope so," I grit. I tickle the tip of my cock across the back of her lower back.

She releases a stuttering groan. The sound blends in with the rest of the class as they struggle to keep this demanding posture.

"I wanna lick them, suck them clean, but only after I tug on that string again with my teeth while they're still inside you. You liked that, didn't you?" I nip at her neck, below her ear. "Stay still. Don't want anyone to know you're attracted to me; that I'm getting to you."

She wobbles for a second, but her eyes stay straight ahead.

When I release her, and it's my turn to hold that pose, she swipes her breasts across my back. "How nice is this? Big strong guy at my mercy? Oh, I like this. Yes, so lean and powerful and hungry. What should I do to you? Tell you I'm wearing my balls, and they're hotter than your body? What if I wore two sets of balls today, so there's no room for that big cock of yours?" She drums her fingers on my waist, and I watch her from the side of my eye. She smiles and places a kiss on my shoulder. "That's right—no room. It's all taken. And I don't have to pretend I'm not interested in you. Your hard on, and my erect nipples pretty much give us away. But so what? What woman in this classroom isn't gushing in her yoga pants to have you?" She slides her chin across the top of my shoulder when I bend down so I can get my face closer to her mouth. "Naughty little boy, about to pull his pants down and show me his if I'll show him mine. Tell your second grade buddy you got out of it—I already showed you too much yesterday. But it's okay. I won't tell the principal, and you won't get spanked." She lets go of my waist and lightly smacks my right ass cheek. "Now . . . Be my partner, and stop this."

I smirk and my head rolls around on my shoulders a bit.

"Fuck me then," I whisper over my shoulder. "It'll make us both feel better." I grin. "I promise. And I never break my promises."

"We'll see . . . Things didn't go so well yesterday, and I know it's my fault, but things are complicated . . ." she says.

We mold into each other with the next pose, and there's almost a shared breath between us.

I continue to touch her unabashed the entire class, taking anything she'll give me.

"Fuck me," I say when she turns me toward her.

"Quit."

"Not 'til you fuck me."

"Edward . . ."

"You like fucking. You'll like fucking me," I remind her.

"I do love sex, but—"

"Good. Have it with me. Lots of it. You know it'll be amazing." My dick twitches.

"I can't," she says, staring at me like I've gone completely nuts.

"You can. You want to. Do I need to say it again?" I raise a brow at her.

"No."

"Good. So, you'll fuck me?"

She huffs.

"That's not a no," I say.

"It's not a yes, either."

"It's a—we'll see. And to me, that means 'Yes, I'll fuck you. Say when.'" I set my hands on her shoulders and lean her back into my chest.

"It's a bit more complicated than that."

"So, you keep saying." I kiss the top of her head, take her arms and stretch them out wide and then up over her head.

"And you keep saying, 'Fuck me,' on a rampant loop." She chuckles quietly.

"Because you're not hearing me. I'll say it again." I bend my knees and groan, "Fuck. Me. End this torture. God, Bella . . ."

"Find a vagina somewhere else. One with less travel miles."

"I like reliable. I like lickable, and I like you. I don't want some unnameable girl to use as a fuckhole." I drag my hands down her arms and run them dangerously close to her tits as I settle them on her ribs.

"Isn't that what I am? A nameless fuckhole to all the men?" she asks.

"Not to me. You're an unnameable piece of my heart you stole, and I want it back. The only way to do that is to be inside you. Stop saying we'll see." I slip my right hand between her legs and brush it up her right inner thigh.

Her breathing shallows. "Persistence isn't a problem for you—patience is," she remarks.

"Not patience in bed. I told you—I'll take it slow, and you'll come all over me repeatedly before I let a drop of my come out," I murmur into her neck.

She tenses her shoulders so I nibble at the curve.

The next move we make is to help each other down to the mat.

"It's Jake, isn't it?" I ask.

"We're not going to talk about that here. After class," she says, and her gaze darts away.

I rest my hand on her ankle once she's settled into her spot. "Okay."

When her eyes are back on me, there are tears there.

"I really like you, too," she mutters and then the talking ceases.

Tomorrow . . .

Tomorrow I'll deal with the impending pain of rejection and humiliation when I realize I pushed to get what I want and was probably used again.

Until then I keep touching her, because she's letting me.

After class, she changes into a light blue, slightly fitted summer dress and wears white strappy heels. Her hair's twisted up with a comb holding it in place. She looks amazing, and I have to wonder if she has a date after this with her shit-head ex.

She's silent as she drives me home, and I feel out of place, wearing my gym clothes and smelling like rotting garbage when she's stunning and smells incredibly clean and tasty.

"Come in for a little bit and we'll talk?" I ask her when she parks in my apartment complex's parking lot.

She nods.

I get out of the car, run around to her side and help her out.

She thanks me and smiles, but there's a touch of sadness and regret in the look she gives me.

It's like a foot, stamping on my heart. I'm bruised inside for her.

I take her hand and lead her up to my door.

"I'm sorry about what happened," she says, sounding very uncomfortable apologizing, like she's not used to doing it.

"Don't be. I shouldn't keep trying to push you into having a relationship with me. You were upfront with me, but I didn't listen because I love being around you. I've been stupid. And I'm sure at this point you think I sleep around like crazy, and that's not me at all," I say.

I pull my keys out of my pocket, avoid looking her in the eye. If she's even sadder, it'll kill me. And I'll wind up crying more than she could ever manage.

"Edward, I really like you," she says.

"But?" I wait for the clause, my hand motionless on the now unlocked doorknob.

"But there are things you don't know about me, and if you even wanted to simply be my friend, it wouldn't be fair to do that without you knowing a few facts first."

I turn to her slowly, like I'm on a rusted old hinge. "I do want to be your friend. That's why I actually try to talk to you."

"You mostly want to talk about how to get in my pussy," she reminds me.

"Are you kidding me?" I drop my hand off the door and turn all the way around so I'm facing her directly. "Even if that was true—and could you blame me if it were?—I've spent time asking you about what you do, what you enjoy doing in your spare time. I've joked with you, because I love watching you laugh, love knowing you're happy. I've asked about your ex, and you don't want to tell me until he's at your house and I've left right after I was about to shove my dick inside you. What part of that spells out I don't care and I'm using your ass? I'm sorry, Bella—but you pointed out yourself, I could get a date if I wanted one, and most of the girls in college have no qualms spreading their legs."

She blinks back what looks like tears. "That's exactly my point." She shuffles her feet for a second and stares at the ground. "Please, I just need five minutes. Then you'll understand, and I'll leave you alone. You probably won't want to see me again afterward anyway." She glances up and there's pure fear in her eyes.

Shit. I look away, open the door and we step inside. Once she's in my place, I close the door in a robotic way, feeling numb all over.

She doesn't really want to be here with you, idiot! She's kicking you to the curb once and for all . . .

She stands statuesque a few feet in from the door, looking unsure of what to do, where to be, and how to act.

I ignore it. What am I supposed to do, kiss her ass now and thank her for treating me like a kid and dismissing me so easily? She hasn't listened to me so far.

I walk through my place and head to the kitchen. Really, I should be embarrassed at my little hovel, but I figure she's not here to discuss throw pillows and themes for a man-cave.

Besides, if I can't afford a vehicle then I'm not going to own a palace.

Aw, Jesus. I left my bike in the trunk of her car.

I roll my eyes at myself and mutter a few curses.

"Make yourself at home," I say coldly.

I'm sweating from yoga, I'm hot and I'm pissed. She's already seen me half naked in the ocean, so I make myself comfortable and rip off my shirt, socks and shoes and chuck them off to the side of the kitchen. I'll return them to my hamper later after she's done using my heart as a knife sharpener.

I grab a Gatorade, start chugging it and return to my small living room.

She's sitting on one of my few pieces of furniture. A tan, suede couch my mom gave me when she upgraded to newer furniture last year for her birthday.

I blink, lean up against the wall and watch her. Didn't she have something to say to me?

"I'm waiting," I say, then take a swig of my drink. "You wanted to share, and apparently, I'm in a generous mood. Either that, or I'm the biggest ovary disguised as a man in existence, because I actually care and wanna listen to you."

"Can you please come over here and at least look at me when I'm talking to you?" She pats the seat next to her and keeps her eyes on her hand.

I roll my shoulders back. "No . . . Why should I? You don't ever listen to me and do the things I ask you to do." I stand up straighter and bump my shoulder back into the wall. "Besides, according to you, all I want is to get in your pussy. I'm protecting you by staying over here."

"You know that's not true. I listen to you—I w-was trying to be . . . what you wanted me to be. I warned you I wasn't good for you, that I don't do the 'boyfriend' thing. I'm a wreck. I'm no good for anybody."

"Mmhm." I nod and continue to chug my drink. Why don't I believe her?

She gets up and strides over to me. "I'm sorry. I know I hurt you. My life is complicated right now."

"I get it. I'm a kid, and you're a grown up. I have no problems, and yours are real. You don't have to explain anything." Visions of her wrapping her arms around me and saying, "I care about you! Please forgive me," hit me hard, and make me choke on my drink.

She reaches out and softly strokes her fingers down the side of my cheek. "I've never been with somebody like you," she says sounding completely entranced by my presence. I'm frozen to the spot. I've stopped breathing. Can she hear my thoughts? "You scare me, and I don't want to have feelings for you. I don't belong with a twenty-year-old or a guy as smart and as wonderful as you. I belong with a forty-year-old man with money, power, and everything I need." She looks conflicted and sounds very sad about this confession.

I turn away from her. She's talking about her damn ex!

"Fuck! Why are you telling me this?" Tears threaten to mock me and turn me into a sack of estrogen with watery eyes. If I cry, I prove to her right now, I am too young for her. I inhale deeply, and think about a school project I'm working on.

She shifts away from me, and I can hear her arm drop. "I'm saying all this because you were right. I was using you the other day. That was my plan; make my ex-husband jealous."

I shut my eyes, and fight off the urge to cover my ears and yell, "Blah, blah, blah—not listening to you!"

Instead, I whisper hoarsely, "Please leave." Before I break down and either smash something or kiss her or shed one tear, I head toward my bedroom.

She follows after me and says, "But things changed. I didn't care about that anymore after I got to know you better. I stopped worrying about how Jake thinks I'm fat, too old, and too ugly. I felt alive with you, and I haven't felt that way with anybody before."

I keep moving. What am I supposed to say to all this? And does she expect me to believe her?

She grabs my arm and cries, "Please! Listen to me. I care about you, too."

I turn around and with torment in my eyes I can't hold back, I grind out, "Why are you torturing me like this? You know how I feel about you. Stop lying to me just to spare my shitty feelings! Or are you just trying to get laid, and you know I'll nail you in a second?"

"What? If that's all I wanted, I could've slept with Jake. That's what he usually does with me when he feels like it, after we surf. He hasn't been sleeping with me for the past month because he's been getting action somewhere else. I was desperate to have a man inside me, and you were begging me for it so I thought if you'd go along with it, I would take you into my bed after surfing yesterday. After you left, Jake tried to get me to sleep with him but I said no. He left, really angry with me. And I didn't give a damn, because I've never felt worse in my life than I do now over what I did to you."

"Good, he's a fucking prick. I don't know why you don't kick him out of your life for good." I roll my eyes, set my Gatorade aside and cross my arms over my chest.

She grabs my arm in a tight grip and says, "He makes my life a living hell if I don't go along with the things he wants. But I'm willing to stop sleeping with him for you. I want to be with you."

"I don't understand what you're saying, and what changed. Are you saying you love me and you want me to be your boyfriend?"

"Yes, I want to be with you. I don't know what's going on—but there's something bigger than me, than you—when we're together, it's like everything else just melts away, and there's only us."

"I don't know. I have to think about it. I care about you but—"

She suddenly starts kissing me, and she's unbuttoning my jeans. Her hands dig into my flesh. My body instantly reacts like a wildfire, spreading out of control. I push her up against the hallway wall and slam my body into hers.

When I realize this is how the men she's usually around treat her—like a piece of ass, I back off and slow down.

I want to be different; I want to show her she means something to me.

"Please, make love to me," she begs.

"I can't. I don't want to share you with him," I whisper. I cup the back of her head and rest my forehead on hers, trying to slow my breathing as it passes over her perfect lips.

"You're not sharing me with him. I promise. Please believe me—I won't sleep with him again. I'll tell him we're not friends with benefits anymore." She grips my hips, tugging me a little.

"You didn't say you'd stop going on your weekly date with him. That's sharing." I shake my head, our foreheads sliding against each other.

"I'll stop that too. Please, God, I need you inside of me." Her voice is soft, urgent and full of a desperate longing for me. The way her eyes look at me, it's like she can't breathe without me.

My heart expands violently and pounds so hard, my chest heaves with each breath. Does she really want me? Want this now, here in my place?

"I don't know if I can pleasure you. You know I'm not that experienced and you want an older man." A pang rips through my gut as I say this. Insecurities flood me, and suddenly, I do feel like a kid, trying to play house with her.

Why am I fighting it, though? This is what I want—what I've begged for repeatedly.

Because you care about her, asshole. You want what's best for her, regardless of what your cock wants.

I close my eyes and inhale with a low, husky moan.

My hips shift forward.

So close. Just one little brush against that pussy . . .

I can't. She'll dump me right after, and what'll happen then?

I've barely been able to handle a handful of encounters around her without going psycho and being moody as fuck.

"You don't have to do anything. Let me do it all," she says. She sways her hips back and forth a little, digging my dick further between her legs.

"But I don't even have protection," I whimper. Haven't gotten laid in so long, and without a girlfriend, there was no need to have it around.

"I do," she says. "It's in my purse, remember? Please, let me have you. I need you so much."

"Are you using me?" I accuse. "Because I thought I could deal with that before, but now . . ."

"This is beyond physical. This is about finding the person I belong with, and that's you." She sighs and her eyes water. "It's about this connection we feel." Her teeth dig into her bottom lip then slide off. "You feel it, Edward. I know you do. That's the real reason you kept telling me to fuck you. You can't stand not connecting with me." She pauses and exhales. "I know because I feel the exact same way. Please . . ."

My heart slips from my ribs and lands somewhere south of my belt line.

I grab her around the waist and drag her into my bedroom. My lips are sealed to hers, and I unzip the back of her dress.

"God, I want you so bad," I say. "So fucking beautiful. All of you."

"I've never wanted anybody this bad, ever!" she says, almost echoing me.

"Fuck! So hard . . ."

I slip her dress to the ground and she's wearing white cotton boyshorts and a lacy, strapless bra. Her breasts move with each dragging, ragged breath she takes.

I exhale in a rush and stare at her, appreciating her lush curves; not touching.

"Turn around slowly," I say with a low husky pulse in my voice.

She frowns for a second, but she does what I've asked. As she slowly turns, she pulls her hair out of her comb and her gorgeous hair floats down her back. She drops the comb on top of her dress, slips her heels off and unlatches her bra, letting it fall as she continues her display for me.

"God, you are the most beautiful woman in the world," I say, chest pounding furiously and my fingers curling, begging to grip, take hold and never let go. "There's no one sexier than you. No one."

She looks at her feet until she completes her circle. "You only think that because you haven't seen all of me yet." She pulls her panties off and says in an agonizing self-loathing tone, "Edward . . . I'm hideous."

"What? No, baby, you're stunning. More breathtaking than any college girl I've ever seen. It doesn't matter how old you are." My jaw flexes and my teeth line up, ready to grind.

I take her in my arms and peer in her eyes. She settles into my hold.

"But I've got stretch marks and this ugly scar."

She shows me her abdomen and there's a four inch horizontal scar above the pubic bone.

Holy shit! I know what this scar means!