Chapter 7: Navigating in the Dark

"You have a child?" I ask, choking on my own words, my gaze level.

"Yeah. She's gone this month; staying with her grandma in Florida." She blinks and leans back, like she's expecting me to start yelling at her.

"Why didn't you tell me?" My arms cross back over my chest, yet again and my head falls forward. The lack of trust, stings and my chest hurts.

"Because I don't tell guys I sleep with, about her. They don't usually notice the scar, or if they do, they don't say anything about it. I don't want to introduce them to her and have her confused by meeting the men I see." Her eyes tighten for a second, and when they soften, I can see years of neglect, rejection and abuse simmering in them.

My heart breaks for her, but covering this up?

"I don't know if I want to hear anymore of this." I angle away from her, trying to center my thoughts.

She starts putting her clothes back on, and says, "I just wanted to let you know why I have to bend over backwards for Jake. He's a divorce lawyer and deals with family law. He's got a lot of connections. He threatens me all the time to take Corinne away from me if he doesn't get his way. I can't lose her." She sniffs.

Suddenly, a thought hits me, and I inhale so quickly, I feel winded. "Oh, God. That was your daughter you were talking to on the phone at the grocery store the night I met you."

She nods.

No wonder she was glowing and so happy.

My mouth drops open and goes dry.

"It's okay, you don't need to say anything. I know how you must feel. I'll leave now . . ." She grabs her purse and leaves my apartment.

"A kid?" I murmur to myself. "I'm only twenty." I don't want to be a father figure or stepdad to anyone's kid. I have no idea how I would even begin to do that.

I stand rooted in place, my eyes flicking around the room, but not seeing anything. My head is shouting various things at me, and the only one that stands out is that I still want her.

I walk around in a daze after she leaves and try to get my bearings back. I want to throttle Jake for controlling and using her.

God, I need to get out of here.

I grab a bus and stop by the flower shop on the corner of Eighth and Main and step inside. I have no idea what kind of flowers to get for her. Roses are too ordinary. She's unusual and I need something to reflect my appreciation of her. I browse the selection and smell something that reminds me of her—small trumpet shaped flowers that are incredibly fragrant and vibrant; bright yellow and crimson red.

I grab them and some purple flowers next to them that smell just as amazing. Their fragrances meld together deliciously, like a symphony of scents. I take the two bunches up to the front and ask, "Could you tell me what kind of flowers these are?"

"These red and yellow ones are freesia and the purple ones are called stock."

"They smell terrific. I'll take them." I'm certain these fit her, and she'll like them.

They aren't expensive though, and I hope that doesn't make the gesture seem insignificant or small.

"Do you want a vase and a note to attach to it?" she asks.

"Sure." I grab the blank card and start scribbling away without even thinking about what to say.

Bella,

You are lovely and beautiful, and you've changed my whole world. I can't stop thinking about you. Please be happy. You deserve to be.

Edward

I tuck the card into the envelope and grab the flowers.

When I'm done, I run over to her house and put them next to her door, ring the bell and leave swiftly. I'm not sure I want to see her and risk making her upset. I only wanna do something nice for her by leaving her a small something. I hope it brings a little smile to her face and makes her feel better.

On the bus ride home, I can't stop smiling as I imagine her reaction.

Will she like them? Will my note make her smile or even laugh? Will she forgive me for reacting like such a prick when she told me about her kid?

Once I'm in my apartment, I don't bother to eat—I'm too wired. I shower and go lay on my bed, hoping some sane thought will come to me. That I can figure out a way to deal with all of this and still have her. I toss and turn, wondering what she's doing. Praying she's not with her ex, that she didn't turn to him and allow him to sleep with her since I turned her down.

I close my eyes and wish things weren't so complicated . . .

"Edward, I love you," Bella moans in my ear, her naked breasts rubbing on my chest. "Touch me here." She opens her legs for me.

I want more than touch; I want to eat her out and find a way inside of her. I crouch down between her thighs and start sucking, kissing and drenching her vulva with my saliva.

She arches, moans and breathes hard.

I place a finger inside of her and manage to find her G-spot very quickly.

"You have the best hands," she rasps as she pulls her legs further apart with her hands.

"You feel so good," I say, my eyes sliding up in my head. "So beautiful. So soft and wet." I open my eyes, kiss her clit and go back to stroking her insides with my finger.

"Edward, I need you inside me. No more waiting. Fuck me now," she says, reaching for me.

I slide myself up to a more upright position and then slowly start to tease her opening with my cock. I don't bother with a condom. I want my seed inside of her. I want her pregnant with my baby. If she has my child then she'll belong to me instead of that asshole Jake. I'll have the most current claim on her.

My baby. Mine! She'll have my kid, not yours!

"We need a rubber," she says, sounding panicked.

"No, baby we don't. You won't get knocked up," I promise.

"Yes, I will . . . Wait, pull out for a minute." She tries to push me off of her. "Let's get one on you. I don't want to get pregnant," she says, frantically trying to get out from under me.

"I'll pull out," I lie. "Come for me and then I'll withdraw." I plead with my eyes, my voice hoarse with so much want.

"You promise?" she asks with big, innocent eyes staring into mine.

"I promise. God, you feel so good." I slip back inside her, lean over and suck at her nipple like she taught me.

Suddenly, I hear a little girl crying and knocking on the other side of her bedroom door.

"It's okay, Corinne, I'll be there in a minute. Go back to bed," she yells at the door.

"Do you want me to stop?" I ask as I continue to thrust, knowing damn well that I won't be able to stop until I've climaxed.

"No, she'll be okay. You're with me, I'm all yours." She smiles.

Yes! Finally. I'm the most important thing to her.

I fondle her nipples and my breathing deepens, gets rough and labored.

Almost fucking there. My balls tighten and flares shoot up my thighs, and I almost shake, I wanna come so bad.

She reaches up and gropes my chest then grabs at my chest hair.

"You're so hot. God, I love you," she moans. "I want this!"

Her words fuel my lust, my need to punish my body for wanting her so much, so I push harder, deeper and remember that she likes it fast and rough. So I dig my hands into her tits and shove myself inside her with such raw power, it pushes her a few inches up the bed with each pounding thrust.

Before long, she's up against the headboard, grunting and staring at my cock digging its way inside her.

I pick up the pace, but she's not progressing like I want her to. I pull out for a second and place a pillow under her ass to angle her up better so I can hit her G-spot with my head. I remember reading about good positions online to hit that sweet spot. I take her legs and put them on my shoulders, and as I slide back into her, I shove her knees together, forcing her thighs shut. It feels very tight and so fucking good I can barely breathe. I try to angle my cock up higher, and the moment I do, she screams out in pleasure.

"God, oohhhhhh, Jesus, that's good, right there . . . uuuunnnnnn, don't stop." She bites her lip and grips my arms.

I don't think I can hold out; I need her to come soon. My neck flexes back so I can get a deep breath to keep my orgasm at bay.

Just a few more seconds . . . She's almost there. Make it last for her.

I drop my head and take my fingers, sliding them up and down her wet clit.

A deep, grunt emanates out of her and she shakes lightly. "Fuck! Holy fuck! Too much," her head slams back and forth on the mattress.

I'm doing it. I'm the lover she needs. I'm pleasuring her; this woman who's been with men twice my age and have way more experience.

Shit. My dick twitches, ready to blow.

I switch my pummeling thrusts to small, rubbing movements inside her.

But it doesn't seem to matter—she's so warm and tight, and I can feel that little knotted up G-spot inside her, so swollen and needy for me.

"Edward, I love you, God, I love you, baby," she shouts and then a moment later she's convulsing, grunting louder and louder. "Unnnnhhhh, God yessss!" Her screams echo around the room and she thrashes around in the sheets.

My cock hears her shouts and it screams back at her by launching my come into her.

"Sssssfffffffuuuuugh," I release a tight string of air; my body breathless and wringing itself dry for her.

Every muscle coils and pulses, my heart stops then suddenly spasms and swells.

My chest caves in and I collapse on top of her, shoved so deep inside her, I doubt I'll ever be able to fully recover from this.

I've never fucked a woman this way—never.

I was rough. I was harsh.

And goddammit, she loved it almost as much as I did.

Shit. I'm an animal.

"Gaaaawwwd," I groan, covered in sweat and feeling completely boneless. I still struggle to breath. I chuckle at what a mess I am, and how I'm still coming inside her. How is this possible?

She takes a deep breath, and her body goes rigid like she's frustrated or in a panic. "Get off!" she shouts. "Goddammit! You said you'd pull out! Now get your dick out of me!"

I can't. My cock won't let me. It has to spill all of the way into her before I can move, and it's still jerking around a little. I grip my arms around her waist, holding her tight to my body until I finish my last thrust and complete the cycle of pouring myself into her.

"Oh fuuuuck," I breathe, my body finally sated, and I feel so fucking good, I could swear I'm high.

I go limp and release her, but I still stay inside her. She may never let me do this again, and I want to soak up her pussy, every inch of it. I drape my body over her, waiting for her to call me a dickhead, but she stays motionless and quiet, breathing shallow.

I take a deep breath, and before either of us can speak, the door is banging again and a little girl cries out, "Mommy, are you all right? Are you hurt?"

Shit! I wake up drenched in sweat and swimming in my ejaculate. A little bit of light is streaming into my bedroom through the crack in the door from the living room. I closed the door to my room so I could think before I drifted off, but I wasn't intending on sleeping yet. I left the kitchen light on, too.

My body protests as I get up and head to the bathroom. I towel myself off, change into some clean boxers and go shut everything down. It's three thirty in the morning. I'm wide awake and stuck with my thoughts.

What the hell am I gonna do? This could actually happen—my dream of me not giving a fuck about her daughter as I obsess over being inside Bella. That's not okay with me. I'm not that asshole.

I rub my eyes and sit on my couch in the dark, unsure of what to make of this dream.

Is this who I am deep down inside? A ravenous beast for her?

Unwelcome thoughts come unbidden to my mind. Her breasts in my hands in the ocean, her pulling those silver pleasure balls out of her pussy to make way for my cock to enter her, her hands stroking my erection over my swim suit. The way she talked so honestly to me and made me feel alive. I run my hand through my hair.

"God! Stop it!" I say to myself and my shitty dick, already forming a semi.

I shouldn't want this woman, not like this. She's not really good for me. She could be if she got her life sorted out, but I don't know if she's willing to do that for me.

And a child on top of this who's not mine?

I close my eyes and settle my face in my palms, resting my elbows on my knees. This is a nightmare.

But only because I know I'd find a way to make it work—I want her that badly.

After several minutes of moaning like a pathetic hormonal fallopian tube, I get up and decide to put on my workout clothes.

Within minutes, I'm lifting weights in my spare bedroom.

My mind drifts.

On nights Bella chooses to sleep over, her daughter can stay in this room. You can clear out a spot and put a little bed in here for her.

Shit! That's not gonna happen. Stop thinking this way!

My breath catches as I lift one of my final rounds with the chest press.

Well, then why the hell do you have a two bedroom apartment? You don't want roommates. That hasn't worked well for you in the past. It's perfect. She can stay here. You want her to.

"Shut the fuck up," I grunt as I move to place the bar on the rack, my muscles straining to put it there.

I run my sweaty hands down my shirt to dry them.

Why do I keep imagining this little girl of hers, running around my place, lighting the whole apartment up, making it feel more like a home?

"Because you're sick, that's why, fuckhead," I say to myself, rolling my eyes and panting from the exertion of my workout.

I don't have money to play host to her and her daughter. I barely have enough money to feed myself.

I slump as I sit on the bench, feeling more wasted inside than on the outside as I beat the shit out of myself.

I grab the dumbbells and up the amount of weight on them.

Bella would not be comfortable hanging out here with her kid.

What am I thinking?

As I sweat, groan and count off my reps, my mind goes to even worse places—asking my parents to give me more money to help out. Even asking Emmett for a handout.

"Christ—you're such a pussy!" I cry out, my muscles burning with fatigue.

I can't do that. I'd get a job before I did that.

It would mean school might suffer, but I won't be a burden to anybody, and that's all that matters.

Bella might see me as a man if I could find a way to show her I can take care of her and her daughter's needs anytime they're with me.

Drops of sweat drip down my neck and the back of my hair moistens.

I drop the dumbbells when I've completed my set.

Where would I even get a bed for her little one?

Then I remember . . . Emmett tried to help me out in the beginning when I moved in here by offering to give me some of his stuff he didn't need, including a single size bed.

Does he still have it?

He didn't want money for it either.

I fist the bottom of my shirt and rub it over my neck to dry it off.

His parents are extremely generous, like mine. I bet he'd give it to me if I asked . . .

Ah dammit. I can't think this way—searching for handouts.

I drop to the floor and start pounding out pushups.

My head pounds, from the workout and these crazy ideas.

When I can't do anymore, I flip over to my back and set in on my grueling variation on crunches I've developed that works each set of muscles in the abdomen.

Emmett doesn't mind. Stop being so proud and take it. He gave you this old weight set for your birthday, along with his old weight bench, plates, and bars. You took those and thanked him.

Yeah, but only because I couldn't afford my own personal gym membership.

I finish my set, splay out and fling an arm over my abdomen.

What the hell am I going to do?

I sigh and close my eyes.

God, she's so perfect for me—everything I want.

I like kids. A lot.

It probably won't be a problem at all.

So, why does my chest ache so much over this?

Why do I feel like such a douche?

Shit. I'm supposed to see her at the gym today.

My hands ball up at the thought of how much I still want to grab her and make love to her until I can't remember how to do anything but hold her.

Does she have to be so thick in my veins, take up every inch of my heart?

I drag my body up, put my weights away, take a fast shower, and get ready for my day.

Distractions are what I need. I'll keep busy at school and forget about what she does to me.

I throw a fresh pair of workout clothes into my backpack for yoga class, just in case I do decide to show up.

I can't make that choice right now. Later, when I have some clarity, then I'll know what to do.

As I'm making my way over to my bike, I realize I still have two hours before my first class.

But I can't stay here. I'm already going stir crazy.

I close my eyes, and my brain goes into overdrive.

You know where she works. You looked it up, and she told you once before she goes in early at six thirty.

I barely register the fact I'm out the door, have locked up and am riding over to her office when my mouth suddenly goes dry.

I'll just stay across the street and make sure she gets inside safely.

Yeah, like some sick stalking pervert. I bet that's what they all tell themselves until suddenly, only watching from a distance isn't enough.

You wanna fuck her on the hood of her car and let others see, you asshole. You want to act out that dream you had last night, like a sick fuck!

I pump my legs harder, ignore the warring images and messages in my head.

All I know is I'm compelled to see her, if only for a brief moment.

And I can make it there before she does.

The visions inside my head drift and change, morphing into her smiling, happy and ready to greet her day.

She told me she loves her job, and I believe her.

Her radiant smile will be worth this little side trip.

Just once—I need to see her in her element, not around Jake, or even around me, fucking her life up, putting her in a state of upheaval.

No complications today—just me watching her, and seeing what she's like in a place she loves to be.

Like at home with her daughter? You wanna see that, too? You gonna sneak in her backyard and peer through her windows? This is seriously fucked up because you know that'll be your next move, genius.

I growl and ride faster, the wind almost bruising my cheeks with the way it whips past me.

One I arrive at her office, I find a spot across the street where I'm unnoticeable. There's a little alcove in the foliage, well shaded and makes blending in very easy.

I pick at a leaf as I stand and wait, hoping no one spots me and calls the police on me for loitering.

I roll the leaf around in my palm, waiting for her.

My eyes scan the parking lot across the way several times. I don't see either of her cars.

This is wrong. I should wait over there for her; be honest and upfront of why I'm here—apologize for my reaction yesterday. Did I hurt her feelings by not responding when she told me she had a kid? I didn't know what to say or do. I wish now I had listened to her better. She probably had more to say, but I was so shocked my head felt like it was on fire, about to explode.

I kick at a pebble on the ground, and drop the leaf. My legs twitch, begging me to carry me over there so I can see her face-to-face and speak to her like any mature man would do.

But no. I'm a pussy, hiding across the street.

I scowl at the ground, and my chest tightens.

I can't face her. Not yet.

I don't want to ruin her day.

While I'm waiting, my body suddenly jerks. An undeniable urge to get a closer view of her face, overpowers me. I have to know if she's okay.

I lock my bike up to the shady tree I'm hovering near and cross the street quickly. Shit! There aren't very many places to hide and be out of the way while I wait for her.

Somehow, I find an entry to the office next door where I can kind of peer around the corner. Man, I really look like a stalker now. This is ridiculous; she's going to see me for sure.

I don't care! I have to know if she's okay.

This is your fault. If you hadn't been such a prick yesterday, you probably could've talked to her more last night and even made love to her.

She probably can't stand you and thinks you're shallow as shit after the way you blew her off.

Poor woman. She didn't deserve to be treated that way.

My eyes scrunch closed, and I bang the back of my fist into the wall behind me as my jaw clenches tight.

When did I become such an asshole?

My feet shift around, willing me to pace, but I keep to my spot.

Moments later, she drives up in her Volvo. Not her Roll's today?

I smile at the thought she isn't driving the car that matches Jake's.

But when I look over at her, she looks extremely sad.

I lean toward her and squint my eyes.

She's breathing hard and listening to music or something inside her car because she's parked and hasn't stirred. Her head's tipped down a little. She's not making any kind of move to get out. And then I see her wipe a tear from her eye with the back of her hand.

Oh, hell no. This is wrong! So wrong . . .

Every fiber in my being wants to hold her again and comfort her like I did in the gym. I want to caress her cheek and tell her I'm sorry, that it will be okay. That I love her and I won't hurt her ever again.

I kick the edge of the wall in front of me as I grip the bottom of my shirt.

What am I doing? My legs are moving, walking toward her.

But then I stop myself because I realize—what if she's crying because that snake hurt her again? What if he stayed with her last night and said mean things or used her body for his own self-gratification? Before I know it, I'm cursing under my breath and planning how I can pummel his ass! I want him hurting like he hurts her!

Finally she gets out of her car, still looking forlorn and depressed.

I move back to my spot where I was a moment ago.

She shuts her car door slowly, heavy like it takes all of her effort to move. She drags her feet over to the front door of her office but right before she opens the door, she looks in my direction. I duck back just in time. I don't think she saw me but it almost feels like she can sense my presence.

Does she? I know I would feel her near if she was watching me from a distance.

Shit! Is she attuned to me like I am to her?

She slowly disappears inside, shaking her head a little and looking even more despondent.

And then I do the unthinkable . . . I chase her. I wait a few moments as I take several deep breaths, and I step inside that damn door, following after her . . . Hoping I'll find the words to convey to her how sorry I am about what I did last night.

A/N:

For my dear friend who's having a tough time. I'm here for you, I care about you. You know who you are, and you know I think the world of you. I hope your days and nights get better…

Love,

Chanse