The Practicum

Rating: M. Because why else do we do this?

Summary: "I'm going to do that thing you've never done, and God knows you've waited long enough for it."


There once was a girl from Nantucket.

Then there was HollettLA, who proofread porn for comma placement.

The end.

(Thanks, lady. xo)

A/N: This chapter got a little lengthy. I debated splitting it until I realized that the teaser I provided last time – and all the "fun" stuff – would get bumped to Chapter 11, and I worried people would throw rotting cyber-produce at me. So I opted to leave it as is, which means you get a longer chapter. (And yes, I know, they say size doesn't matter. They lie.)

Chapter Ten

I'm in full agreement with Edward when I step over the threshold to his classroom on Thursday morning: for the first time, I do believe I'll be sorry to see this part of the curriculum come to an end. When he spies me in the doorway, he grins, even as blood flushes his face. "Good morning."

"Good morning." I feel the underlying thrill of seeing in the daylight the man I saw in the throes of passion mere hours earlier, and I can only imagine that my coloring is a pretty close approximation of his.

"Sleep well?" His voice is equal parts taunting and earnest, and I quirk an eyebrow at him, which he answers with a deepening flush.

"Very well. You?"

"Very well," he mimics, and I set my book on the corner of the desk.

"Must have been all that fresh air," I tease, and despite his slight discomfort, his eyes darken.

"Must have been." He licks his lips as he pins me with his gaze, and I shift my feet on the linoleum.

"Dirty pool," I mutter, my words cut off by the trickling arrival of our students through the classroom door.

"Very dirty," he agrees almost inaudibly, gazing at me intently, and I'm not sure if his words are intentionally suggestive or if my mind is just too firmly entrenched in the gutter not to hear the innuendo. Then he swallows, and I know my brain isn't the only pervy one in the room. As the kids file in and find their seats, Edward heads to the back of the room and drags the TV/VCR combo back up to the front of the class, plugging in the power cord and fiddling with the machine as the screen buzzes to life and glows blue. I don't realize I'm ogling his half-bent body – clad in the black slacks and green shirt today – from behind until I snap back to myself and glance around, seeing that Rosalie is watching me with a small half-smile on her lips. I look away and continue my scan of the room before looking down at the book in my lap. Edward evidently gets the video set up without my help this time, and as the bell rings, asks Ben Cheney to kill the lights.

"All right everyone, conception and pregnancy today. This video's going to take up most of the period, and provided you guys pay attention and keep quiet, I won't assign homework tonight. Deal?" The class rumbles its approval and he nods, hitting "play" and winding his way back around the teacher's desk. He sinks into the chair beside me as a voice booms in the darkened classroom.

"Life's greatest miracle," says the narrator, who sounds like was he was trying to channel Anthony Hopkins and unwittingly brought forth Hannibal Lecter instead. As Edward settles in the chair next to me, the thought passes through my mind that my life's greatest miracle will be if I can make it through the next forty-five minutes without remembering the way his fingers felt on my body, in my body, what he looked like when he came apart beneath my touch, what it felt like to have him warm and shuddering in my arms. As the narrator revisits the actual baby-making part of the program prior to delving into the biology behind fertilization and conception, I notice that Edward fidgets at the word "erection." He fidgets again at the word "penetration." And again at the word "ejaculation."

I peek over at him and two spots of color sit high on his cheeks; his fingers are absently spinning a pen, and I swallow as my mind once again flashes to the feel of what those digits can do. I slide my small notepad out from the pocket inside my plan book and scribble on it quickly before passing it to him, using the large desk as a screen from sharp teenage eyes.

You're awfully fidgety.

He bites his lip but doesn't look at me, putting the pen to its intended use. When he hands my note back to me, he has written, You're awfully distracting. And sexy.

I blush, putting pen to paper again and sliding it back. Your fingers are distracting me.

He reads, he smirks, and he resumes twirling his pen. I shift and angle my body ever so slightly toward him, crossing my right leg over my left, knowing that the movement makes my kneecaps just visible beneath the hem of my modest skirt. I see his eyes flick to my legs and back, the muscle at the hinge of his jaw twitching; there's a quiet clatter as his pen slips from his fingers and hits the floor.

"Dirty pool," I hear him mutter as he bends to retrieve it, and I bite back a smile. Two can play at that game.

Having covered the pill, the patch, the shot, the implant, and the diaphragm, Edward has moved on to withdrawal as a birth control method, and the kids' eyes are steadily glazing over. I'm pretty sure Emmett might be asleep, and Alice is penning a rather detailed sketch of something that, upside down, looks like a moose or a dinosaur in the margin of her handout. Such is Friday in high school.

"And guys, it's worth noting that a woman can also get pregnant if semen is spilled on the outside of the female reproductive organs as well, and that withdrawal does not protect either partner against sexually transmitted infections, okay? So it's really not advisable until you're in a relationship wherein both partners have been tested and confirmed to be free of any infections, and in which a pregnancy would not be a completely unwelcome event." He glances around the room, evidently agreeing with my assessment of the general attention level, and sighs before sliding his eyes to me. "Anything to add, Ms. Swan?"

I shake my head. "No, I think you covered it."

Edward grins as he turns back to the class. "So make sure you guys cover it, okay?"

A few chuckles, and Edward half-turns to slide his ever-present manila folder off the desk. "Okay. Last handout of the unit. I know you guys are just crushed." I watch his dexterous fingers flick at the corners of the worksheets, my traitorous mind once again envisioning them doing something entirely different, and as I shift in my seat, I wonder idly if my own high school teachers were as hypocritical as I am. Or as horny. My mind flashes back to Ms. Crabtree and her tendency to use childish euphemisms for genitalia even in health class. Probably not.

I'm yanked from my silent rumination by the ringing bell, and as the kids stuff their books and binders into backpacks, Edward raises his voice over the buzz of activity. "Have a good weekend, everyone. And make sure you thank Ms. Swan on your way out for helping us with this unit, please. I know she sees enough of you guys as it is." The students do so as they file past, and when the room is nearly empty, Rosalie comes up to stand in front of me.

"Thank you, Ms. Swan," she says softly, her gratitude clearly more explicit than that of her peers. "Really."

I nod and smile. "Rosalie, you can come and talk to me anytime, okay? Health unit or not."

She returns my smile and nods, hugging her notebook to her chest like a shield. "Emmett's been…really sweet. Understanding."

"I'm glad," I tell her. "Just keep being honest with him, okay?"

"Okay," she agrees, her arms tightening around her binder for a beat before she nods again. "Well, thanks." She turns to leave, tossing a "Bye, Mr. Cullen," over her shoulder as she reaches the doorway where Alice is waiting, and the two disappear up the hallway.

"Bye, Rosalie," he says to her retreating back before turning to me, a small smile curling his lips. He reaches out and takes my plan book from my hands, sliding it to the top of his stack of books. "Thank you, Ms. Swan," he says, and I shrug.

"My pleasure." It isn't until the words are out that I realize how true they are – and true in a way that has very little to do with teaching. He trails me out of the room and we navigate the bustling hallway together. "So who is it tonight?" I ask, waving at Angela, who disappears into the art room a few paces ahead of us.

"Taholah," he says. "Will you come?"


"Cool," he says, drawing to a halt as we reach my classroom door and he hands me my book. "So I'll see you tonight, then."

I nod. "Good luck."

He grins. "Thanks." He considers me for an extra moment before nodding and turning, making his way back down the hallway. I probably watch him go for a beat longer than is strictly appropriate before I turn and step into my classroom, forcibly redirecting my mind to Shakespeare.

That night the air is noticeably warmer, a sure sign that spring is here with summer hot on its heels, and as I sit in the bleachers chatting with Angela and Jasper, I wave to Charlie, who has just arrived with Billy in tow. They make quite the pair in their almost-matching Seattle Mariners gear – a sweatshirt in Billy's case and a ball cap in Charlie's – and I think briefly about wandering down to make sure he actually ate something more than chips and dip while they were watching the game, but think better of it. He doesn't need me to mother hen him any more than I need a bedroom in his house, but I think leaving those things in the past is going to be an adjustment for both of us.

"Hey, guys," Jess says as she appears at the end of our row, and perhaps for the first time since we began teaching together, she actually looks nervous. Then I notice the tall guy standing behind her. "This is Mark. Mark, this is everyone: Angela, Jasper, and Bella." Mark grins and nods at all of us, and when I meet Jessica's eye, she flushes slightly as she lowers herself to the bleacher row, shrugging off her purse and scooting toward me to make room for Mark on the end. "Later," she murmurs just loudly enough for me to hear, and I lean into her slightly to bump her shoulder with mine. She offers me a small smile and we shift our focus to the field.

As the players warm up, I watch Edward, who wanders around his half of the field, hands in the pockets of his black Adidas pants, his dark gray hooded sweatshirt so oddly endearing for some reason I can't quite put into words. The kids jog, sprint, stretch, play keep-away, do some other drill I don't entirely understand, and finish the warm-up period with shots on goal. When they all jog over to the sideline and line up facing the flag above the scoreboard, the crowd falls silent as the tinny opening refrain of the national anthem emanates from the sound system. Not even halfway through the song, I feel Angela's finger poking me in the small of my back; I turn my head to glance over my shoulder and she tilts her head to the left and raises her eyebrows. When I follow her gesture, I see Edward standing at the end of his line of players, hand over his heart and eyes on me. When I meet his gaze, his face splits into a grin, and I'm powerless not to return it. We smile at each other stupidly for a few more bars before he returns his focus to the flag and I do the same.

The game, as predicted, is a blowout: Forks is up 4-0 in the first ten minutes, and Edward has all of the second-stringers – including kids who generally have no idea what they're doing on the field – in the game by the twelfth minute. The second string is slightly less punishing, but by halftime, the score is 7-0.

"I always feel badly for teams that suck," Jasper says as I pour cocoa into the paper cups I brought with me. Judging from the weather, this is likely the last time we'll need it.

"Me too," Angela says. "Do you think he'll pull back on the reins?"

I shrug as I pour. "I think that's probably what he was going for when he put Danny Jacobs at center forward." Danny, while a sweet kid, is no one's idea of a goal-scoring machine. Or a jock, for that matter.

"True," Angela agrees. I rise and make my way to where Charlie and Billy are standing to offer them some hot chocolate; they accept and I let Charlie tease me not so subtly about my fledgling relationship with Edward before I roll my eyes and peck him on the cheek before returning to my spot in the stands. My friends and I sip our drinks and watch as Edward talks to his horseshoe cluster of players; the opposing coach is standing before his own crew of kids, looking defeated by more than the unfavorable score. He reminds me somewhat of Coach Clapp, though thankfully he doesn't seem to be chewing out his players, which was Clapper's go-to coaching style whenever his teams were losing.

When the referees signal the players back to the field, the Forks boys take the field. As I watch, every single kid goes to a different position than he usually plays, and every single starter is still sitting on the bench. At the starting whistle, the game resumes and we watch in silence for a few minutes before Jasper breathes out a "Damn."

"What?" I ask, watching Danny awkwardly trap a ball and attempt to pass it back to the center midfielder.

"He's playing possession."


Jasper shrugs. "Edward probably put restrictions on when they can shoot. Like, they have to pass it ten times first, or everyone on the field has to touch the ball first." I watch the play unfold, and he's right: while the kids are still battling, still playing, there's a lack of urgency to penetrate the offensive third of the field. And, given the general lack of skill of some of our second-stringers, the opposing team is able to mount a few offensive strikes of their own. My eyes shift to Edward, who is still standing near the sideline, coaching. I recall in that moment that whenever Clapp's teams were up by any considerable margin, he would sit himself down at the end of the bench and cross his arms over his chest, as if to say, "Well, this one's over." Edward's acting like his boys are up by one goal instead of seven, and the now-familiar combination of respect and affection bubbles up in my chest. I think I might enjoy the second half even more than I enjoyed the first, given Jasper's insight, and when the final whistle blows it takes all of my self-restraint to wait until the handshakes are over and the boys are cooling down to make my way to Edward's sideline, where he's knotting the drawstring of the ball bag.

"Good game, Coach," I say, and he grins that easy grin as he drops the mesh bag by his feet.

"Thanks." As we stand smiling at each other beneath the brilliant lights of the stadium, it hits me: damp hair, bright eyes, relaxed smile, hoodie – this is what I imagine he looks like on a Sunday morning. He glances past me, at the bleachers full of people, and an unexpected look of resolve crosses his face as he returns his eyes to mine.

"What?" I ask, slightly confused by the sudden disappearance of his post-victory levity, and he shakes his head before stepping closer and winding a hand around my waist. Before I can ask what he's up to, he lowers his head and presses his mouth to mine. It's likely my imagination, but I'd swear that the murmur of the crowd quiets ever so slightly as he kisses me in front of everyone. When he pulls back, his eyes stay trained on my face, and I blink away my surprise as I smile up at him. "Throwing caution to the wind, huh?" I tease, and he shrugs.

"I'd rather not be the subject of speculative gossip," he says lightly, and off my frown, clarifies, "Confirmation has a tendency to take the wind out of the sails of speculation."

"You know, for someone who grew up in a city, you have a surprisingly comprehensive understanding of the way small-town gossip works."

"I'm learning," he grins, placing a quick kiss to my forehead before bending to haul the ball bag over his shoulder. He takes my hand in his free one as we make our way back toward the locker room, and in this moment, with the population of Forks watching my back as I walk away holding Edward's hand, I get a flash of what it must have felt like to be queen bee in high school.

The sensation doesn't ebb as I stand outside the locker room, my back pressed up against the brick façade of the building. The players each bid me goodnight as they exit and pass me by, and finally Edward appears, locking the door behind him and looping one strap of his backpack over his shoulder. He reclaims my hand and we walk across the parking lot to his car. "Let's go get my girl a margarita," he says, tossing his backpack onto the back seat and opening the passenger door for me, and I can't deny the thrill I feel at being referred to as his girl.

"Spill it," I say when Mark leaves our table to hit the restroom, and Jessica shrugs. "He's still dumb as a rock, and he still has a dick like—uh," she pauses and throws an uncharacteristically self-conscious look in Edward's direction. "Well, anyway," she says. "He's just really nice. I mean, I told him I couldn't have dinner with him because I told my mother I'd clean out her rain gutters, and he showed up and did it for me." Jessica's mother has been single since we were kids together, and Jess, as an only child, is frequently called on to help her with things. The odd role reversal of returning to town as adults and feeling emotionally – and otherwise – responsible for our single parents has been a topic over which we have bonded many a time over the years. "And he doesn't know squat about science, but remember that exhibit I wanted to go to in Port Angeles about the Hubble Telescope?" Off our nods, she barrels on. "Well, he offered to go with me. Like, who wants to do that if they don't like science?" She shrugs. "I don't know. Maybe I was hasty before. He's just…really nice."

"He seems really nice," Edward says kindly, and Jessica shoots him a grateful smile. She's opening her mouth to say something more when Mark reappears and slides in next to her. Edward and Jasper redirect the conversation to hiking trails in the Pacific Northwest – a topic on which Mark is apparently an enthusiast – and I relax into easy conversation and the feel of Edward's warm palm cupping my kneecap.

By the time we're standing on my porch an hour later and he has me slightly pressed up against my front door, kissing me senseless, he's cupping everything else: my hip, my neck, my cheek, my ribcage. I hook my index fingers into the pockets of his warm-up pants and pull him even tighter against me, swallowing his low grunt as his mouth works over mine, each swipe of his tongue sending heat from my mouth to every other part of me.

"Edward," I gasp as he releases my mouth to drop kisses to my cheekbone, neck, jaw.

"I want to come in, but I really should go home and shower," he murmurs, tilting my head to pull the thin skin of my neck gently between his teeth.

"I want you to come in, and I have a shower," I volley, and he returns his mouth to mine for a few heated kisses before he pulls back, his hand tight on my hip, and peers down at me, his chest rising and falling with his quick breaths. His other hand traces my jawline and his thumb passes over my surely swollen lips.

"Let me buy you dinner again tomorrow night, and I promise to come in afterward."

"You like my coffee, huh?" I hope he realizes I'm going for the euphemism.

"I'm crazy about your coffee." Oh yeah. He gets it.

He covers my mouth with his again, and just as I think maybe he'll come inside after all, he breaks the kiss and presses his lips gently to the tip of my nose.

"See you tomorrow," he says, and I lick my lips as I nod.


When tomorrow comes, I am once again jogging with the early morning sunshine, and when I reach the soccer field, I'm confused to see the boys scrimmaging but no Edward coaching. I glance over my shoulder toward the parking lot, scanning the assortment of student cars before spotting his SUV at the far edge of the blacktop. Turning back to the team, I wonder if he's in the locker room or something until my eyes land on the player who has just cut off a pass and is dribbling the ball up the sideline with considerable speed. "Gotta be a better pass than that, Ben," he taunts as he speed dribbles, and I feel my mouth pop open.

Edward. He goes up against Mike and, admittedly, schools him before picking his head up and firing a cross off to the middle of the field; Tyler Crowley heads it toward the net, and the only thing that stops it from being a goal is a diving save by Jacob. "Nice hands, Jake," Edward calls as he jogs back down the field, and I school my features as I climb onto one of the low bleacher seats. Stretching my legs out onto the row in front of me, I lean forward, feeling the delicious stretch of my hamstrings and calves as I watch Jake punt the ball and a couple of boys jostle each other to win it out of the air.

"Bella?" I turn from my ogling to see Jessica standing by the bleachers. "I thought that was you," she says, glancing toward the field before giving me a knowing look. "Whatcha doin'?" She smirks, and I roll my eyes.

"Just…watching. What are you doing here on a Saturday?"

She holds up her lesson book as she climbs up to the seat beside me. "Left my planning book in my desk." We watch the scrimmage unfold for a few minutes before she shifts on the metal bench. "Thanks for being so cool with Mark last night," she says as she squints at the field. Despite all of her teasing and joking, Jessica is one of the most straightforward people I know.

"Of course," I reply. "He does seem really nice."

She nods, a small smile curling her mouth. "So does Edward."

My eyes find him amid the sea of teenage boys. "He is," I agree.

"You hit that yet?" she asks, smile widening as she reverts back to her more typical fare.

"Subtle, Jess."

"Oh, please," she says, stretching her legs out in front of her in a posture like my own. "You've known me how long? When have I ever done subtle?"

"Excellent point."

"You should also know that deflection rarely works on me."

"We're taking it slow, remember?"

She huffs. "There's slow, and then there's glacial."

"Believe me when I tell you that it's a lot hotter than glacial."

"Excellent," she says, squinting once again at the field. "So what's hot, if you haven't done 'it' yet?" She punctures "it" with air quotes, even though she knows I have limited patience for people who use air quotes.

I scratch my knee. "There are a lot of stops between a first date and…that."

"Ooh. Do tell."

"No," I say flatly, even as I'm tempted. Jess, while a self-confessed hornball, can be surprisingly insightful – and dare I say helpful – when it comes to relationship chats, even if only about fifty percent of her "advice" can ever really be taken seriously. When her expectant silence becomes too great a temptation to deny, I heave a sigh and lower my voice. "We've…done some stuff."

"Which stuff?"

"Like…touching stuff."

She nods. "Nice. Those fingers as magical as they look?" I feel an Edward-esque flush works its way into my cheeks, and she nods again at my unspoken affirmation. "Very nice."


"That it?"

I shrug. "We're working our way up to the other stuff."

"Well, work away, Swan. As I believe I've mentioned, I'll be anticipating the details."

I chew my lip, and she notices. "What?"

"He's never…" I trail off, uncomfortable with revealing Edward's personal life to someone else, but my truncated confession sends Jessica's mind to the worst place and her eyebrows to her hairline.

"Don't tell me that boy is a virgin because I will straight-up weep."

I shake my head quickly. "He's not. He's definitely not a virgin. But there's…other stuff he hasn't done."

She considers me for a moment before shrugging. "Well, that's not all that weird. I wouldn't have thought you'd be one for the backdoor delivery anyway."

No wonder I'm such a pervert. As they say, You are who you hang with. "Not that," I tell her, and she frowns. I'm getting the flip side of what my diner conversation with Edward must have been like for him, and it makes me want to laugh.

Her eyes narrow. "What then?"

"Oral," I essentially whisper, even though the closest people to us are a good fifty yards away.

"What?" She yelps, and I shush her as my eyes find Edward; at her screech, he looked up and is now grinning at me. I return his smile and offer him a small wave before he picks up the game. "What?" she asks again, and I glance over at her warily.

"He was in a long-term relationship and she wasn't…into that."

"Oh, honey," she breathes, her eyes finding Edward as she pats my forearm. "Do it. Do it now, and do it well. You will blow that boy's mind." She grins in unbridled glee at her inadvertent double-entendre. "Among other things."

"It's…been a while since I did that," I admit.

"Like riding a bike," she murmurs.

"Any pointers?"

Jess closes her eyes and tilts her head back toward the sun. "I'm savoring this moment, in which Bella Swan is actually asking me outright for blow job tips."

"Shut up," I say, suddenly tempted to knock her off the bleachers, and she opens her eyes.

"For a boy who's never had it before? I'd say that no matter what happens, if you have his dick in your mouth, it's guaranteed to make his top ten list of favorite days."

"Jess," I groan, my face on fire.

She takes pity on me, watching Edward as he battles with Ben for possession of the ball and cackles with glee when he breaks free with it at his feet. "Eye contact, let him watch, don't neglect the balls, and swallow." She shrugs. "You do all of that, you're golden."

Just the mental image of doing all of those things with Edward is making me wish that it were later in the day, and that my dinner – and, perhaps more importantly, my "coffee" – with him weren't so many hours away.

"Thanks," I say, suddenly sheepish, and she chuckles beside me.

"Oh, no, Bella. Thank you." A snort, and she mutters, "That's what he said."

As anticipated, after a brief hello to sweaty and grass-stained and generally delicious Edward, the rest of the day drags. Eventually, though, we are seated next to each other at a table for ten at Otani, the Japanese hibachi restaurant in Port Angeles. To our left is a young couple with two young kids whose excitement at the pending culinary performance is nearly palpable. To our right is a foursome of twenty-something girls who are evidently celebrating a birthday, and who are sucking down alcoholic drinks that are the color of Crayola crayons and roughly the size of paddling pools. One of them was on fire when it arrived, and I admit to being mildly disappointed that no one's product-heavy hair ignited.

"I thought this would be fun, but I neglected to consider the lack of romance," Edward murmurs in my ear, his palm finding my kneecap, and I scoot slightly closer to him.

"I don't know," I say, glancing at our dinner companions before bumping his shoulder with mine. "I sort of like being on the same side of the table as you."

His smile is instant, and as I return it, I'm abruptly grateful that the detached, reserved, uptight Mr. Cullen I worked with has given way to the easygoing, sweet, lighthearted Edward I'm dating. As we grin stupidly at each other, I notice that beneath the collar of his bright white dress shirt his neck is red despite the fact that, for once, he's not blushing. "Is that from coaching?" I ask, reaching out a single finger to poke gently at the skin. It goes white beneath the pressure of my touch before returning to its sunburned pink.

"Yard work."

"Yard work?" I repeat, and he nods as he lifts a cucumber from his just-arrived appetizer salad with his chopsticks.

"My grass was getting unruly. I was worried if I left it much longer, I might unearth a car or a small horse or something when I finally mowed it." The concept of Edward doing manual labor is an appealing one. As I unwrap my own chopsticks, I try to picture him pushing a lawnmower, muscles flexing, skin glowing with a fine sheen of sweat beneath the spring sunshine, but I realize almost instantly that I can't place the setting. He notices the frown on my face and mirrors it. "What?"

I shake my head, but the discomfiture lingers. "I, uh…just realized I don't even know where you live." His frown gives way to surprise, eyebrows sliding up his forehead before dropping and narrowing again.

"You don't?"

I shake my head. "Is that…" I don't know what word I'm seeking. Weird? Normal? A sign that his place is a dump? A clue that he has a closet-dwelling skeleton that he doesn't want me to know about?

"That's…" He trails off, evidently as baffled as I am. "I didn't realize that."

"I didn't either," I admit. "Not until just now."

"Huh." We stare at each other for a moment before he shakes his head. "Well. That's easily remedied. Coffee at my place tonight instead of yours."

I smirk at him, a ridiculous swell of relief washing over me at his complete lack of hesitation. "Is that euphemistic coffee, or actual coffee?"

I'm learning, slowly but surely, that embarrassment isn't the only emotion that makes his cheeks flush. "Whatever you want it to be," he says with a not-quite-casual shrug, and the heat I feel has nothing to do with the giant grill in front of me.

His house is…cozy. A small ranch-style a mere two miles from my own street, it's homey and warm and comfortable and absolutely nothing like the worst-case-scenario bachelor pad my panicking mind had fleetingly imagined when it realized he'd never invited me over. There are no black leather couches, no ugly, cold-looking furniture, no pub signs on walls or Star Wars posters hanging in hallways. It's welcoming and comfortably elegant, with a brown sofa and a burgundy loveseat arranged facing a reasonably-sized flat screen television and a bookshelf littered with books, a few framed photos, and a couple of trinkety knickknacks. His kitchen is small but tidy, and when I pass the bathroom, it looks clean and not at all like it might be gestating bacterial cultures that would mystify the Forks High science faculty. The lone indication that a bachelor lives here is the large framed aerial photo of Wrigley Field above the sofa, but for an athletic PE teacher from Chicago, it doesn't seem like a stretch.

"Edward, this is really nice." It's also worth noting that it's tidy even though he wasn't expecting company.

"Thanks," he says, cupping the back of his neck as he glances around, trying to see his living space through new eyes. "It's, uh, finally starting to feel like home."

I nod. "Did it take you long to get settled?"

"It was a slow process," he replies. "I moved here and started working in the same week, so I didn't have much downtime to really get stuff set up."

"Well, you did a great job. It's really…cozy."

He smiles. "Thanks." His teeth scrape his hip. "So…coffee?" He looks unsure, awkward, mildly embarrassed…a few of my favorite Edward-things.

"Coffee would be great."

"I don't have quite the array of varieties to offer you, I'm afraid," he says, sweeping his hand in the direction of his kitchen. "Just run-of-the-mill medium roast."

"Perfect," I say, stepping into the bright kitchen as he turns on his own single-serve brewer. He retrieves a pair of mugs from a cupboard and I stand in front of his fridge, looking at a photo of a guy who is built like Edward, but has fairer hair and an altogether different nose. He's holding a baby wearing a Notre Dame onesie, and I gather that this must be the brother. When I ask as much, he nods. "Yeah, that's Riley."

"Is that his baby?" I ask, and he shakes his head.

"Goddaughter. Riley's roommate from Notre Dame's daughter. Poor kid's going to be the first girl to be dressed up as Knute Rockne for Halloween."

I laugh, watching as he hits the button to set the brewer gurgling. He turns and leans against the counter, a small smile curling his lips. "What?" I ask, and he shrugs.

"It'll sound stupid."

"I like stupid." I wince, because if anything was stupid, that was probably it.

"I know I said this place was starting to feel like home…" He trails off, rubbing his earlobe between his thumb and forefinger. "It…seems even more like that with you standing in my kitchen."

There's no way I can not kiss him after something like that, so I cross the small space and crumple the front of his shirt in my fists. "Smooth," I say, and he chuckles lowly.

"Now there's something I've never been accused of being."

I rise to my toes and press my lips softly to his; he reaches an arm out and snags me around the waist, deepening the kiss instantly. The faint trace of pineapple from our complimentary after-dinner fruit lingers on his tongue. The brewer spits and hums to signal that it's done, but Edward doesn't release my mouth and I'm pretty sure I've never cared less about a caffeine fix in my life. We make out against his counter, his hands gripping my hips and his thumbs just brushing the bare skin above my waistband. I bury my fingers in his hair, and he grunts softly as I press the length of my body to his, feeling the evidence of his excitement pressed between us. He bites my bottom lip in a move I'm coming to recognize as indicative of his mounting arousal, and it only serves to spark my own; breaking the kiss, I trail my lips up his jaw to his earlobe, which I suck into my mouth. I thrill at his answering gasp, and at the fact that his hands leave my hips and slide around to cup my backside, pulling me even more flush against him. Sucking the tender skin of his neck into my mouth, I reach between us to cup him through denim, reveling in his groan as I pull back to look into his flushed face.

"Where do you want this to happen?"

"What?" he mumbles, blinking at me as he attempts to swim to the surface of his pool of arousal.

"I'm going to do that thing you've never done, and God knows you've waited long enough for it, so…where do you want it? We can do it here, like this, with me on my knees and you holding onto the counter and pushing in and out of my mouth." He isn't breathing. "We can do it on the couch, with me on the floor between your knees. We can do it in your bed, with you propped up against your pillows, watching me between your legs. Wherever, however you want it." I punctuate this with another press of my palm to his groin. "It's up to you."

"Living room," he chokes out. "I..." His cheeks flame. "I think I should be sitting down for this."

I remove my palm from his fly and snag his hand in mine, ignoring the just-brewed coffee and leading him to his sofa. Pressing a gentle hand to the middle of his chest in encouragement, I watch as he lowers himself to sit, gazing up at me in something that looks a little like disbelief.

I borrow his script. "Is this okay?"

"Are you kidding?" he breathes, cupping his hands around the backs of my knees as he swallows. "I, uh, feel like that should be my line."

I smile and sink to my knees between his splayed legs, watching his eyes flash as they track my descent. Sliding a hand up his torso, I slip the first shirt button through the hole; his hungry eyes watch my hands as they trail down his front, freeing the line of buttons and pushing it open to reveal his chest, stomach, the line of hair that disappears into his jeans. It strikes me that this is the first time I'm seeing his bare torso. Jasper was right: soccer players – or, at least, this one – have phenomenal bodies. I scratch my nails feather-lightly down his torso, watching in satisfaction as his abdominal muscles clench.

I lean forward and rise to my knees, pressing a chaste kiss to the very center of his chest and feeling the heavy thud of his heart behind his breastbone. Moving to one side, I suck his nipple into my mouth, his hips lifting against my lower abdomen. As my lips find his other nipple, my hands find his belt buckle and deftly slip it open, his harsh breaths and the clank of the now undone buckle the only sounds in the room. I undo the button fly of his jeans as my tongue traces circles around his tiny, pebbled nipple and reach inside his open fly to press my palm to his hard-on. In response, he pushes his hips into my hand and I smile against his chest. He's semi-reclined, his back and shoulders pressed against the back of the sofa, but his head is upright, watching my every move. I smile up at him, and the gentle smile he bequeaths upon me is a contradiction to the desperate fire in his eyes.

Glancing down, I lick my lips at the sight of his cotton-clad erection, the blue and white striped fabric straining to contain him. He looks debauched and decadent, draped against his sofa with his shirt lapels and his pants hanging open; he's the sexiest thing I've ever seen, and I haven't even seen him naked yet.

"How do you want me?" I breathe, sliding my palm down the length of him to cup his balls through the cotton, and he hisses.


I return my palm to the bulge at the front, rubbing him slowly. "Do you want me just like this? Topless? In my underwear?" I don't offer to strip entirely, not only because I can't, but because while I'm taking charge, the idea of being stark naked between his knees the first time I'm in his house seems oddly unsettling, even with what I'm about to do to him. I finger the hem of my shirt with my free hand as I watch my words penetrate his fog of arousal.

His eyes trail over me, and he swallows. "Can you…just in your underwear? I think I'll embarrass myself pretty quickly if you're topless, but…can you just be in your bra and your underwear?"

I don't answer, instead standing and pushing the waistband of my pants off my hips; his eyes flash as he watches them fall and puddle around my feet. I step out of them and he tracks my every move with hungry eyes. After I pull my top up and off and meet his gaze, he shakes his head slightly. "God, Bella, you're just…you're so pretty." His words are so sweet and honest and unintentionally sexy – Edward in a nutshell.

"Thank you," I say, returning to my knees, and his throat bobs as he swallows. Suddenly his hand flails out to one side and his fingers find purchase on the burgundy throw cushion nearby.

"Um." I didn't think it was possible for him to look more flustered, but to my delight, his cheeks darken even more. "Do you…" He holds up the pillow and I take it from him, affection joining the arousal buzzing through me.

"Thank you," I say again, shifting slightly to slip the cushion beneath my knees. I run my hands up his still-covered thighs and study his face. "Okay?"

A small smile. "You don't have to ask," he replies, a truncated version of my reassurance from our night under the stars, and I nod as I reach for his waistband. In a mime of my own movement, he reaches out a single finger to touch the tiny bow between my breasts, shaking his head slightly. "So pretty," he murmurs absently, almost to himself, and my fingers curl around the elastic and denim at his waist. At my unspoken encouragement, he lifts his hips, and I gently stretch both waistbands over his erection and pull them down his thighs. I don't look until I've dragged his pants to the floor, leaving them in a heap around his ankles; when I do look up, everything in me clenches.

His hard-on is resting against his stomach, the tip flushed purple; when I look up to see his face, it's as if there's an internal war waging between sheepishness and lust. When I wrap my hand around his length, his eyes fall closed and he bucks into the tight circle of my fist. "Bella," he whispers, immediately opening his eyes again. I meet his gaze steadily for a breath before I lean forward and press a kiss to the trail of hair beneath his belly button. He groans.

A kiss to his hip bone. He moans.

Another to the inside of his thigh. He gasps.

The other thigh. He hisses.

When I pull the skin of his other hipbone between my teeth, he pants out my name and I flick a glance up to him before leaning forward and pressing a soft kiss to his tip that could almost be considered chaste if I weren't kissing his cock.

"Bella," he breathes again, and I look up at his face, flicking my tongue out to trace the slit on the underside of his head. I see his arms clench and realize instantly that he isn't touching me. Pulling back, I spy his hands curled around the edges of the couch cushions, his knuckles white.

"You can touch me," I tell him, running my hands over the backs of his, feeling them relax under my touch.

"Where?" he gasps, and I pry his right hand from the furniture and bring it up to cup my cheek before pulling the very tip of his index finger into my mouth. He swallows as his eyes watch my mouth, which kisses his fingertip gently.

"Wherever," I say, but I guide his hand to the back of my neck. "Everything's okay. You can touch me, you can move, you can say whatever you want."

"Can I…" He pauses and swallows again. I would have thought my positioning, our nakedness, his arousal would preclude his ability to be sheepish; I thought wrong.

"What?" I coax, my hand rewrapping itself around his length.

"When I…" He licks his lips and his eyes widen slightly when I do the same. "When I'm…"

Finally I clue in, saving him from the apparent mortification of saying, "Can I come in your mouth?"

"Yes," I breathe in answer to his unspoken question, and he looks mildly uncertain for a beat before his eyes flash again. "Yes," I repeat, before leaning in once more. When I finally take the head of his erection into my mouth, I feel his fingers tighten around the back of my neck. I slide my lips slowly along the length of him, delighting in the texture, the heat, the taste of his skin. He's too big for me to fit all of him in, and when I feel his tip at my throat, I wrap my fingers around the base of him and squeeze gently before slowly retreating, allowing him to drag against my tongue and teeth on his way out. Releasing him almost entirely, I press another soft kiss to his tip and swirl my tongue around his head, once again finding the ridge of skin on the underside. Glancing up, I see that he's watching everything, his eyes heated and heavy-lidded, his chest rising and falling with each heaving breath. Letting my eyes fall closed, I lean in and slide him back into my mouth, reveling in the breathless quality of his breathing, the barely-noticeable lift of his hips, the infinitesimal tightening of his hand on my neck. As I slide him in and out a few more times, I feel his hand leave my neck and reappear at my forehead. Mildly confused, I open my eyes to meet his gaze and realize that he's brushing my hair back so that he can see more; when I leaned forward, the curtain of my hair obscured his view. He gathers my hair into a rough approximation of a ponytail and holds it at the base of my neck as I continue working my mouth over his length, and to my delight, I realize that with every bob of my head, his hand is coaxing me forward and back. I don't even know if he realizes he's doing it, but that tiny flare of dominance sends a flood of my own arousal through me as I lick and suck and stroke.

As I watch his face, his head has dropped back against the sofa, his eyes still watching hungrily as my mouth envelops and releases him. "God, Bella," he gasps, and his voice is rough and needy and just pure sex. His hips are rocking more obviously up to meet me now, and from his posture, his face, his movements, I can tell that he's nearly lost to his need. I reach my free hand up to cup his balls, rolling them gently in my palm, and he grunts and gasps into the space above me, his hand tightening slightly in my hair. I moan around his length in encouragement, and suddenly his other hand is gripping my shoulder.

"Shit," he spits, and it's the first time I've ever heard him curse. It fuels my own arousal, and I increase my pace, my head bobbing between his legs, my hand gently rolling his sack, moans rumbling up my throat as he thrusts down it. "Bella," he gasps, and this time it's not an endearment but a warning. "Oh, God, Bella." I hum around him and he gasps as his hand fists in my hair, his hips bucking unthinkingly upward, shoving the length of him as deep into my throat as he can go. I watch his face as he comes, his eyes squeezed tightly shut, mouth open in silent rapture, his entire body taut as he shudders, warm gushes of him flooding my throat. I swallow and continue to moan my encouragement as he spills the last trickles onto my tongue, gasping and licking his own lips as his eyes crack open, watching me as I gently slide my mouth up and down his softening length. "Bella," he says again, his eyes still afire as they watch my mouth despite his spent body.

He pulls me up to kiss me, and I'm mildly surprised albeit pleased that he doesn't hesitate to stick his tongue in my mouth. His panting breaths puff into my mouth as we kiss, and I feel triumphant at his rather obvious pleasure. "Wow," he murmurs against my lips, and I pull back to smile.

"Wow?" I echo, teasing.

He's evidently too spent to blush. "I, uh, see now what all the fuss was about." I, however, am not immune to the flush, and it suffuses my cheeks as he pulls my mouth back to his. "I want to taste you," he says between kisses, pulling me to straddle his lap, and I'm briefly confused given our virtually nonstop kisses until his meaning hits me, and I feel a fresh wave of want crest over my buzzing body. His lips and tongue kiss me so thoroughly that I can't imagine there's anything left of him.

"I can't," I say, as he pulls the left cup of my bra down and closes his mouth around my nipple. As he registers my words, however, he pulls back, eyes roving my face in confusion. "Lesson one," I infer, leaning into him again to press a gentle kiss to his creased forehead, and I feel the skin beneath my lips smooth out as the light bulb clicks on.

"Oh," he says softly, returning his lips to my nipple, his hands roaming up and down my bare back. When I feel like I might just melt into a quivering mass of want, I pull his head from my chest and gaze down into his eyes. He licks his lips, and God, I want him. "So I can't…tonight," he says, eyes flicking down to the bow between my breasts and back up again. "But you'll let me, right? After?"

"If you want to," I say gently, my hand finding his sharp jaw.

"I want to," he says, his voice and eyes intense. Before I can respond, he presses his mouth to mine again, mumbling "God, I want to" against my lips. After a few heated kisses, he pulls back to gaze up at me. "I can't do that, but…can I touch you? Outside?" His cheeks are sporting their ever-present flush as I smile softly down at him. "Let me make you feel good," he says, and I feel fingertips against the soaked silk between my legs. I still them with a gentle hand around his wrist.

"Tonight was about you," I whisper, and he smiles up at me, something that looks like mischief in his eyes.

"About me?" he asks, and I nod. "Well, in that case." He frees his hand from mine and returns it to the heart of me, rubbing slowly and gently over wet fabric. "I want to touch you." He tilts his head slightly to one side, and he makes quite the picture, hair in chaos, lips swollen, cheeks flushed, clothing in disarray. When he licks his lips, I know I'm a goner. When he smiles, I know he's won. When he speaks, it's not even a real question. "Please."

A/N: Thanks for reading. Also, a disclaimer: unlike Charlie and Edward in the last chapter, I'm a Yankee fan, though I can't say I'm too impressed by our recent acquisition of Kevin Youkilis. Blech.

Until next time. xo