How Bella Got Her Groove Back

Summary: Edward owes Bella one, and he's a man determined to deliver – but as he quickly discovers, some debts are not easily repaid.

Rating: M. For lots of sex of varying degrees of effectiveness.

Disclaimer: If they were mine, I'd make them do these types of things. Repeatedly.

Acknowledgement: Enormous thanks, as always, toHollettLA, who has come to the rescue twice in two days. She's like a superhero.

A fun, smutty one-shot in honor of Valentine's Day. If you're looking for substance, you took a wrong turn somewhere.

"Jesus," Edward gasps, staring unseeingly at the textured bedroom ceiling above us. One hand is splayed across his bare, heaving chest while the other rests on my naked thigh, warm palm atop my quivering quad muscle. He exhales in a rush and glances over at me, the sated smile on his lips dimming slightly as he registers my face. "Babe?"

"Hm?" I glance at him, and if my cheeks weren't already flushed, their sudden pinking would be my tell. I gnaw on my lower lip and realize my mistake instantly; post-coital Bella languishes loose-lipped and lazy-smiled. Before I can attempt to rectify my slip, he is hovering over me, our naked torsos pressed together, tendrils of my damp hair dancing on his exhaled breaths. He frowns slightly down at me, dark eyebrows drawing together and green eyes roaming my face. His kiss-swollen lips purse, and I can see the moment he reaches the inevitable conclusion.

"You didn't, did you?"

I wish I could lie, but I've never been able to, not where he's concerned. "It's okay," I offer instead, and he flushes, post-orgasmic haze eradicated by a sudden onslaught of discomfiture. I try unsuccessfully to hide my smile. Of all the variations of this man that drive me wild, flustered Edward does something altogether different to me, and being tangled in damp bed sheets with a naked flustered Edward only heightens the sensation.

"Shit," he breathes. "Baby, I'm sorry."

"It's okay," I repeat, even as hearing the uncharacteristic curse fall from those lips makes my body hum.

"I can…" His voice trails off into suggestion as he runs those long fingers up the inside of my thigh, and I squirm, gently stilling his progress with a loose hand around his wrist. His frown deepens.

"Don't worry about it," I say, my voice purposely gentle. Something about letting him get me off after he's already done feels in this moment like debt payment, awkward and forced, and the thought is enough to kill the mood entirely. He moves his hand from where it was ghosting up my thigh to cradle my neck, and he turns my head to the side slightly, running his nose and then his lips up the column of my neck.

"Give me a minute and I'll make it up to you," he breathes, and the combined sensation of his rumbling voice and his hot breath are nearly enough to reignite the flame that was burning mere moments ago.

"Edward, it's okay," I say again, wishing I could come up with better words, or at least different ones. "It doesn't always happen," I add, realizing the moment the sentiment escapes my lips that it was the wrong one. He rears back as his green eyes lose all remnants of their love-drunk glaze and suddenly burn into mine with a ferocious indignation.

"Excuse me?"

"For girls," I stammer, backpedaling to no avail. "It doesn't always happen for girls. That's all I was saying. Sometimes it just…doesn't." I realize I'm making it worse when I see his jaw clench as he glares down at me.

"Well, it's never not happened for you," he argues, and my silence is another unintentional admission, his frown morphing into a bewildered scowl. "You're telling me this isn't the first time?" His voice is dismayed and demanding, and I want to laugh at the offense in his beautiful face, but even in my flustered state, I realize that doing so would do little to help matters.


He pulls away from me and drapes the top sheet around his hips, leaning back against the headboard and running a hand through his sex-ravaged hair. "I don't believe this."


"You faked it? With me?"


"When?" he demands, folding his perfectly toned arms across his equally flawless chest, muscles rippling with the movement. Morning sunlight bathes his smooth skin, sliding across the hard planes of his body and setting fire to his bronze hair; I lick my lips.


"When did you lie to me by pretending I had done my job as a man?"


His eyes narrow, and his voice is hard-edged. "Isabella Swan." I say nothing. "Isabella Swan, please tell me this is not a frequent occurrence."

"Of course not!" I burst, thankful that the absurdity of such a notion means I don't even have to work at sounding indignant. Sex with Edward is mind-blowing, has always been mind-blowing, and I could probably count the number of times I've had to fake an orgasm in the past five years on one hand. Well, maybe two hands. We have, after all, crammed an awful lot of sex into that time, and blisteringly drunk Edward was involved on more than one occasion. Blisteringly drunk Edward's navigational skills are not quite as finely honed as sober Edward's, but now hardly seems the time to share that particular tidbit of information. He seems mollified by my vehement declaration, if only slightly.

"Well, then?"

"I don't know, Edward," I huff. "I don't really keep a tally."

"A tally? So you're saying it has happened more than once."

"We've had a lot of sex," I defend, and I see him tamp down on the smile that tugs at the corner of his mouth before forcing his features back into a scowl. "A lot of really great sex," I clarify, and he turns his head to glare at the wall. "Really, really great sex," I breathe, settling myself in his lap and draping my arms around his shoulders. "Please don't be upset." I press a soft kiss to his jaw and trace the line to his chin with my lips.

He sighs, and I relax slightly as I feel his arms fold around my hips. "I don't like the idea that you were pretending. Here. With me." I can hear insecurity and vulnerability lurking beneath his velvet voice, and guilt crashes over me.

"I'm sorry," I whisper, and I am. I try to imagine how I would feel if the roles were reversed, and the feeling that floods through me is a prickly blend of betrayal and hurt.

"I'd rather know," he breathes into my neck, ghosting a kiss into the skin over my clavicle. "I'd rather you were honest, so I know."

"Okay," I promise, enjoying the dance of his lips against my shoulder.

"No more faking?" he reiterates.

"No more faking," I vow, and he exhales in relief. Just as he opens his mouth to say something more, the shrill ring of my cell phone interrupts him and I glance at the clock. "Shit," I say, snatching the phone from the bedside table and bypassing a greeting. "Sorry, Jess, I'm running a little late. I'll be there in fifteen minutes." I press an apologetic kiss to Edward's lips and rise from the bed, taking a lingering glance at the picture he makes reclined against the headboard and pillows, sex-rumpled and still scowling slightly. As his eyes rake over my similarly disheveled form, however, they brighten and a smirk takes over his face.

"I owe you one, Bella Swan," he breathes. "And I always pay my debts."

I have no response beyond a shiver and disappear into the shower, my body humming and flames licking at me; I have no doubt that if I weren't already late to work, he could pay that debt a few times over immediately.

I whimper as he slides into me, and a familiar thrill courses through my body at his answering groan. "God, Bella." If a voice were enough to bring me to orgasm all by itself, Edward's would do it. I feel the nip of his teeth at my earlobe and moan as his hips rock lazily against mine. I skate my palms up the smooth planes of his back before dragging them back down and capturing his ass in my palms.

"Yes," I breathe in encouragement as his pace picks up slightly. His mouth finds the hollow between my ear and my shoulder, and I feel his teeth again before his tongue slips out to soothe the skin he has just bitten. My eyes slide closed as his hips move, and I moan, awash in sensation. The recollection of this morning appears unbidden at the periphery of my awareness, and I push against him purposefully, unexpectedly desperate to make it up to him.

"Unh." He grunts as he registers the sudden lift of my hips beneath his and responds by driving in and out of me; I let him set the pace, trying and failing to erase his hurt face from my memory. The wounded Edward from earlier is unexpectedly forefront, and the pouty bastard is taking me out of the moment the longer he lingers. I work my body against his, moving with him. I want this as much as he does, and it has very little to do with the joy of having an orgasm; my desperation to alleviate his unwarranted insecurity is all but overtaking the pleasure humming through my veins. I force myself to concentrate on the moment, the rhythmic drive of his hips, his warm hands cupping my shoulders, the bare skin of his stomach sliding against mine.

"God," he gasps, and the tempo increases. He's getting closer to his edge as I slide farther away from mine, and I am frantic to follow him when he tips over it, but the laser-focused fixation on reaching my pinnacle is having the opposite effect. I clench my muscles in an attempt to bring myself back to the present, to feel every inch of the rigid length of his body inside mine, but instead of reawakening my own pleasure, it drags Edward up and over the peak of his own.

"Shiiiiiiit," he hisses as I feel him release inside of me, and I clutch at his body, hugging him to me with arms and legs and burying my face in his neck as he shudders and stills. "Fuck," he growls, but this time his voice carries the sharp edge of frustration instead of bliss. "What the hell?"

He slips out of me and I wince at the loss, feeling more bereft by his reaction than by my lack of climax. I run a soothing palm up his back but he rolls off my body, collapsing onto his back beside me. I curl into his side. "Edward—"

"Don't," he says and covers his eyes with a hand even as his chest heaves. "Shit." Defeat laces the word and I sigh.

"See, this is why we fake it sometimes."

It is the wrong thing to say, and I watch in equal parts despair and appreciation as his perfect rear end disappears into the bathroom. I lie alone in the darkness for an indeterminate amount of time before I drift off, not even waking when he returns to bed.

"Can I join you?" I pause mid-lather, my hands buried in my shampooed hair, and open my eyes to see sleepy but twinkling green ones peering at me from around the shower door. It is a loaded invitation, and shower sex has never been my favorite, but I can see the determination etched in his features so I nod, stepping back slightly to make room for his body in the small space. He turns to slide the glass door closed, and despite my reservations, my nipples pebble as they come in contact with the warm skin of his back. I reach around him to run my hands over his torso and he exhales in a rush, enjoying the combination of my sudsy palms and the warm water pounding against his chest. Bright morning sunlight filters through the bathroom window and bathes the room in a warm glow, and the steam swirling thick in the small shower takes on the hue, wrapping us in a buttery yellow cocoon.

A large hand reaches around me to cup the back of my thigh, and I press my hips into his, running my hands lower and gently gripping his morning arousal. He grunts, turning his head so that I can see his profile, and I rise to my toes to take his earlobe between my teeth. His whimper becomes a growl as he spins gracefully and presses me against the cold tile wall, taking my mouth in a feverish kiss. He presses the length of himself against me, and I let my head fall back against the wall, my eyes drifting closed as Edward bends to take my nipple into his mouth. I run my hands through his silky wet hair as he works his way down my body and sigh as he drops to his knees in front of me, hitching one of my feet up on the raised ledge of the shower stall and pressing a kiss to the inside of my thigh.

"Edward," I breathe as his mouth climbs higher on my inner thigh, biting and kissing and sucking, and I roll my head against the tiled wall. "Please." At my whimpered plea, his mouth finds my center and I gasp, my hips bucking into his face involuntarily. I feel rather than hear the rumble of his growl against my flesh and my breath comes in gasps, peppering the steam-filled air between us as his tongue works at the bundle of nerves between my legs. Long fingers clutch my hips in a possessive, demanding grip, thumbs massaging small circles into the hollow of my hipbones in an echo of the path of his tongue. The caresses push me higher and higher, my body coiling tighter and tighter, and as I near the coveted prize, I glance down through the steam to see his sharp eyes trained on my face. I grip his hair and angle my hips away from his face, dragging him back up the length of my body and pressing my hips to his. I want this to happen with him inside me, and I can see that he agrees as he grips my hips and sheathes himself inside my body. A low moan escapes his lips, and he clutches my thighs as I wrap my legs around him, the furious thrusting of his hips pinning me to the wall as our joint pleasure mounts. "Oh, God," I breathe, and the fingers of his left hand tighten around my thigh while his right hand works its way between us, his thumb flicking at my center.

"Fuck," he murmurs, pistoning in and out of me, teeth clenched as his thrusts grow frantic.

I tip my head forward, gazing through heavy-lidded eyes to where we are joined, watching as he rams in and out of me and his thumb dances over my flesh. Suddenly my vision grows blurry as forgotten shampoo trickles down my forehead and into my eye, and I hiss at the burn. "Ow! Shit!" I cry, my whole body tensing against the sudden pain; Edward's body mimics my tautness as he lets go inside me.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck," I breathe, rubbing frantically at my eye and trying to shift my body toward the spray of the water.

"What the—" I hear Edward's confused voice struggling to the surface from beneath his haze of orgasmic bliss, and I disengage myself from him, barely noticing as he slips from my body in my haste to un-blind myself.

"God DAMN it," I spit as warm water washes all traces of shampoo from my face, and I hear him sigh from behind me.

"I'm blaming this one on external factors," he declares, his voice pinched, and there is an unexpected jolt of cold air as he slips from the shower.

"Oh, please. I don't fake orgasms. No man's ego is that important to me." Leave it to Rosalie to put an unsympathetic spin on things.

"Rose, he feels inadequate," I argue. "The double whammy of finding out I faked it once in a while and his sudden apparent inability to make me come are waging war on his self-esteem."

She shrugs. "Exactly. If you hadn't faked it in the first place, he'd have worked out the kinks a long time ago."

The word kink brings to mind a sudden flash of the contents of the second drawer in Edward's nightstand, but I push the image away as a telltale warmth creeps up my neck. "Please. You're telling me you've never faked it with Emmett? Not even once?"

"Not even once," she mimics. "If he doesn't get the job done, I let him know." Her face stretches into a lascivious smirk. "He's very goal-oriented."

I groan as Alice pipes up. "Ew. I have to tell you guys that hearing detailed sex talk about my brothers is so incredibly not what I had in mind when I asked you both to lunch."

Rosalie rolls her eyes as she stabs at her salad. "Payback's a bitch, Alice. Getting the play-by-play of how my brother popped your cherry is pretty high on the list of moments I'd like to permanently erase from my lifetime memory."

Alice sighs and turns a sympathetic face to me; I guffaw in response. "This, from the same girl who literally begged me to come clean when Edward and I finally slept together? Your credibility is taking a beating, love." She huffs and finally relents.

"Fine. Point taken. Well, Bella, you guys have had five years of pretty decent sex, from what I've been told. Can't you just go back to tried and true?"

"Tried and true is exactly what isn't working," I mutter, cheeks flaming. I so don't want to be having this conversation, but at the same time, I need to confide in my friends. I need to hear that we're blowing this out of proportion, freaking out over nothing.

"Well, how about something that's worked in the past? What was something you guys have done that really got you off in a spectacular fashion?"

It doesn't take me long to flip through a few of my favorites, and Alice holds up her hands in clarification. "I don't need gory details. Just knowing you have some is good enough for me."

"We have some," I confirm, my mind flashing to a few in particular: the very first time we had sex, a few weeks after we both returned to Forks after our respective college graduations and reconnected by stumbling through his parents' empty house and into his childhood bedroom; the humid summer night we went to see Dave Matthews Band at an outdoor concert venue and he took me hard and fast against the hatchback of his car in the parking lot, sweat and summer heat plastering my hair to my neck while the band played "Grace is Gone" for the encore; the first time he let me tie his wrists to my headboard and I heard him beg. "We definitely have some." Sweat has gathered at the small of my back and I take a small sip of ice water. Rose smirks.

"So then…recreate."

"I don't think it's that simple," I sigh. "Now it's like this elephant in the room."

Rose's smirk becomes a snort, and I glare at her as her shoulders shake in silent laughter. "What?" She shakes her head and reaches for her own water glass, giving away nothing. "Rosalie, what?" I'm feeling exposed enough by this conversation – the absolute last thing I need is Rose laughing at me.

"Nothing," she gasps, taking a small sip. "I just…'elephant.'" I raise an eyebrow, silently demanding further explanation, and she rolls her eyes. "That's exactly what Lauren Mallory called him after she went down on him on prom night. It's the sort of thing that sticks in your memory."

Alice gags around a mouthful of her own salad, and I roll my eyes. "Not that it's not an accurate representation, Rose, but it's not exactly helpful."

Alice flags down the waiter and upgrades from water to wine. "I'm begging you," she says as the server disappears to fulfill her request. "I can handle the abstract sex conversation, but can we please refrain from actually discussing in any detail my brother's anatomy? I'm very much enjoying my lunch, and I'd hate to see it in reverse."

Rosalie shrugs, nonplussed, and I nod, only slightly guilty. Jasper's not my brother, but I have heard far more about his sexual proclivities and attributes than I'm generally comfortable with. "Fine. I'm sorry I even brought it up, but you asked."

"In my defense, I asked why you looked like someone peed in your Cheerios," Alice contends, but I see her soften. "I'm sorry. I do want to help."

I sigh, irritated with myself for allowing frustration to color a lunch date with my two best friends. Between our careers and our relationships, the occasions on which we can all take time out of our days to meet for a meal and gossip without the boys around are few and far between. I wish I could simply brush my frustration under the rug, but as with all things Edward-related it's never far from my mind.

"What about imagining he's someone else?" Rose offers suddenly, and Alice and I gasp in unison.

"Rose!" Alice protests at the same time I manage to hiss, "No!"

For good measure I add, "I'm not going to picture…someone else."

Instead of looking ashamed, though, Rosalie rolls her eyes. "Oh, please. Everybody does it. You're telling me there's no hot young Hollywood thing you wouldn't mind taking a bite out of?"

"Johnny Depp," Alice says without missing a beat, and as I turn to her, I'm sure that shock is a blinking neon sign where my face used to be. She and Jasper have been together since they were seventeen, married since they were twenty-two, and I've never heard her so much as murmur appreciatively about another man.

"Alice!" Indignation on Jasper's behalf colors my tone and she gives a Rose-worthy eye-roll.

"Please, Bella. I'm completely committed to Jasper, I love Jasper, I would never betray Jasper. But if that particular chunk of man-meat came to town, Jasper and I would have to have a certain conversation. Besides, it's just imagination; no harm, no foul."

"If it's all so 'no harm, no foul,' what's with the astonished gasp at Rosalie's suggestion?"

She has the good grace to look at least a mildly embarrassed. "It just doesn't sound like something you would do," she admits finally. "You're so all about Edward. Plus…he's my brother."

Rosalie chooses this point to reinsert herself into the conversation. "Yeah, well, Jasper's my brother, and here you are imagining some two-bit pirate with a questionable accent instead of the man you married." Her offense is somewhat contradicted by the fact that this was her suggestion, but she plows on anyway. "That being said, Emmett knows that if Ryan Reynolds opted to vacation in Forks, I'd be missing in action for the duration of his stay."

I stare at both of my friends, shocked by their unapologetic star-lust, and they gaze back at me expectantly. "What?" I finally huff, turning my focus to the sandwich in front of me.

"Who's it gonna be, Swan?" Rose demands.

"I'm not going to picture someone else while I'm having sex with my boyfriend," I hiss, fighting against the overwhelming urge to raise my voice, and Rosalie huffs in displeasure.

"Okay, but if you were, who would it be?" Alice is nearly bouncing in her seat; while conversations about her brother having sex are apparently more than she can handle, conversations about hypothetical sex with celebrities evidently bring out the sex-gossip in her.

"It wouldn't."

"Come on, Bella!" she pleads. "You're going to wind up marrying my brother, and I'll never get to have in-depth girl talk about your sex life – you can at least give me this!"

Her casual juxtaposition of Edward and marriage in that sentence knocks me for a loop, and I struggle to regain my conversational footing. "We're not—I'm not—he hasn't—"

"Jesus, look what you did to her, Alice," Rose scolds, giving my hand a reassuring pat where it sits on the beige linen tablecloth. "Breathe, Bella. It's okay. I can see you with someone like George Clooney."

Alice shakes her head. "Oh, please. He's old. Plus, his dating life is basically a revolving door, which if you ask me, is a clear indication that he doesn't know what he's doing. If a guy's worth his weight in bed, you stick around longer than that. She's much more a Hugh Jackman type."

"Hmm." Rose considers me for a moment before nodding. "I could see that."

"Guys, please…stop." I'm still trying to push thoughts of marriage out of my mind; the sexual matchmaking, theoretical though it may be, threatens to be my undoing.

"Well, then, give us something," Alice begs. "Fine. You don't have to pretend it's him when you and Edward are in bed, but if you were going to sleep with a celebrity, who would it be?"

I take a bite of my sandwich and chew slowly, earning me a moment to compose myself before swallowing and taking a sip from my water glass. The waiter reappears with Alice's wine, and she nods a silent thank you before pinning me with her fierce gaze.

"John Krasinski."

"Seriously?" Alice screeches at the same time Rose says, "Who?"

"That geeky guy from The Office," Alice says with a dismissive wave of her hand at the same time she stares at me, eyes wide. "That's your celebrity crush?"

I shrug and Alice sinks back into her seat, deflated by disappointment. "Yeah, don't imagine him while you're in bed," she says finally. "You're better off just sticking with my brother."

Edward's long fingers press into me, and I arch off the bed, gasping and writhing, fulfilled but wanting more. "God, you're so wet," he breathes, and I feel him slip his fingers out of me, over my flesh, and back inside, repeating the circuit as my body tightens like a string until I am desperate and begging. He pushes his fingers into me once again, keeping them there this time as he finds a rhythm, watching my face intently as he works my body.

"Edward," I moan, lifting my arms and sliding them beneath the pillow under my head, watching as his eyes leave my face and fall to my breasts, which move with the undulations of my body. In the dim light of our bedroom I see his eyes darken, and I turn my head to the side, taking the pillowcase between my teeth. I can feel his eyes on me and his lips on my chest, placing open-mouthed kisses to the valley between my breasts before capturing a nipple in his warm, wet mouth. He adds another finger and I hiss, releasing the fabric from my mouth and glancing down to see him release my nipple, his eyes dropping to watch my hips work against his hand.

"I want you to come like this," he whispers, his eyes pinballing between my hips and my face, his lips glistening in the silver moonlight, his teeth catching the lower one and releasing it as his mouth falls open with a pant.

"I want to come with you," I argue, even as my body spirals upward, and I pull his head level with mine. "On you," I breathe into his ear, and he shudders above me, his fingers still working. "Around you," I add, and a nip at his earlobe is his undoing. His fingers leave me to find himself, lining up at my entrance, and I can feel the broad tip of him against my heated flesh. "Please," I murmur, and his eyes pin me to the bed a split second before his hips do.
I gasp at the familiar sensation of his body possessing mine, and he exhales in a rush, his chest pressed to mine, forehead against my shoulder, hands gripping the sheets on either side of me. After a beat, he begins to move, his face still buried, and I clutch at him with my hands and arms and legs and every other part of me, matching him thrust for thrust, my body humming as he pounds into me. I open my eyes when I feel his head rear back, and the usual fire in his emerald irises is tempered by an unfamiliar glimmer of despair; he buries his face in my neck, but it is too late. The disquiet on his face is such a foreign expression, and I find myself wishing he would lift his head from the crook of my neck and look at me. I have seen many looks on Edward's face in the throes of passion – arousal, triumph, love, possessiveness, adoration, dominance, wonder, bliss – but I have never seen anything like what I glimpsed moments before. Desperation wars with excitement as I grasp him, my eyes open and staring unseeing into the shadows.

Suddenly they find a hairline in the ceiling above us, and I squint, trying to determine if there is actually a crack in the plaster or if my eyes are playing tricks on me; I have a sudden vision of a leaky pipe and chunks of soggy plaster raining down on us as the ceiling collapses. Realizing instantly that I'm playing code enforcement officer while my boyfriend works himself determinedly in and out of my body, I drag my mind back to the bed and focus on the sensation of Edward's skin against mine, his soft pants in my ear, his considerable length repeatedly burying itself deep inside me, but now I can't not see the crack, and I frown. An unwelcome memory of my lunch with Rose and Alice appears in my mind and brings with it a vision of Johnny Depp, which leads to a visualization of Edward wearing an eye patch. I clench my jaw to fend off a laugh, and Edward slows slightly and pulls back to look at my face, his own expression a combination of alarm and dismay as he stops altogether and unceremoniously pulls out of me.

"Oh, God, am I hurting you?"

Disoriented, I stare at him. "What?"

His biceps flex as he holds his body suspended above mine, no longer touching me. "Your face," he breathes, his brow a creased road map of concern. "You were…wincing."

I curse my open book of a face and shake my head vehemently, hurling a silent insult meant for Rose and Alice out into the ether. "You absolutely were not hurting me," I assure him, and he appears placated. He lowers himself to the bed beside me and runs his hand along my cheek, the soft pad of his thumb tracing my lower lip.

"Where were you?" he presses, his hand leaving my face and flattening against my chest, feeling the steady thrum of my heart beneath my sternum.

"Here," I say, even though it is only a half-truth. I can tell he wants to push, but in this new fragile balance between us, all sorts of things are suddenly off-limits.

"You're okay?" he says instead, and I nod.

"Better than okay," I murmur, and even though I suspect we both know the mood is gone, I throw my leg over his hips and situate myself in his lap, wrapping my arms around his shoulders. "This okay?" I ask, my lips pressed against his, and his warm hands grip my ass.

"Better than okay," he murmurs, sliding his open mouth over mine. Our tongues dance together until he moves one hand back between us, lining himself up again, and I break the kiss to find his eyes as he slides home. "Oh," he breathes, returning his hand to my backside, his eyes fluttering as I begin to move over him. I can feel his fingers pressing into my flesh but he doesn't grip my hips, letting me set the pace instead. I rock, and then upgrade to thrusting, and then go back to rocking in a frantic attempt to find a rhythm. His jaw is clenched, his eyes closed, and I reach behind me to cup his balls in my hand, earning me a hiss as his hands finally lock on my hips, his back arching off the bed beneath me as he slams his hips to mine.

"Bella," he chokes out, and I feel him come, warm pulses deep within me as his entire body goes rigid. But as soon as he comes down, his blissful expression gives way to a grimace, and my own wave of pleasure has receded before it could crest, and we stare at each other in the near-darkness, equally dumbfounded. He sighs, the perfect outward expression of what I'm feeling, and I lift myself off him, defeated. I return to my side of the bed, half-reclined against my pillows and the headboard. He slams a fist into the mattress and I wince, tugging to free the top sheet from beneath my body as he rises from the bed, yanks on his boxer briefs and begins wearing a track in the carpet.

"I fucking feel like Sisyphus!" he explodes, burying his hands in his hair in frustration and gripping the strands so tightly I wince in sympathy.

"Who?" I ask, attempting to strike a chord that is sensitive but not patronizing as I lift the sheet around my chest and tuck it under my arms.

He frowns slightly at my covering up but continues to pace. "Sisyphus," he repeats, his voice only slightly less piercing. He has, however, relinquished his grip on his hair in favor of placing his hands on his narrow hips, and he suddenly looks like a disapproving teacher glaring down at me, sex-hair and naked, sweaty chest notwithstanding. "A king in Greek mythology who was punished by the gods and doomed to spend eternity rolling a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down the hill just before he reached the top, forcing him to start all over again." I frown, trying to decide whether there is anything in this analogy to which I should be taking offense. "This is fucking with my head," I hear him mutter, and outside of sex, I don't believe I've ever heard him swear quite so much in such a short window of time. Though I suppose this is all sex-related, so perhaps his use of expletives isn't limited to the act itself.

"Edward, stop. It's okay."

"It is most definitely not okay," he snorts, and resumes pacing. "This is pretty much the worst-case scenario for a guy."

I tear my gaze away from his coiled body, frowning absently into the middle distance. "Isn't that impotence?"

He groans and flops back down on the bed, his hands over his face. "God, Bella, don't say it," he mumbles into his palms, and I run a sympathetic hand over his arm.

"I'll go get us some water," I offer, slipping from the bed and sliding a t-shirt over my head as I gaze at him, lying on his back, long legs dangling over the edge of the bed, beautiful face hidden by his hands. As I free my hair from the neckline, he spreads his fingers, staring up at the ceiling for a few breaths until his voice splits the near-darkness.

"Is that a crack?"

Edward is nervous. It's endearing at the same time it's completely alarming. Edward hasn't been nervous about sex with me since we were twenty-two and had gone on a handful of casual dates and were still working up to it. The night it finally happened he was like a live wire, his tension nearly palpable, anxiety buzzing through him all through dinner and through our drive back to his parents' empty house. Once we crossed the threshold, however, his nervousness disappeared just as mine arrived. He was gentle but demanding, passionate and sure, confident and mind-blowingly good. Since that day, nervousness and sex-Edward have been strangers. Now, after five years of stellar sex, he's uneasy about taking me to bed. I want to say something to put him at ease, but I worry that pointing out his discomfort will only add to it.

"Are you finished?" he asks politely, gesturing to my half-eaten dinner. It occurs to me that I've been pushing pasta around the plate for a good ten minutes and I nod silently, surrendering my fork and folding my hands over the napkin in my lap. He stacks my plate on top of his and retreats to the kitchen where I hear him turn on the tap and scrape the remnants of my dinner into the garbage can. Domestic Edward never fails to make my heart glow, and I pick up both of our wine glasses and follow him to the kitchen. I watch the pull of his muscles beneath his blue cotton Oxford shirt as he rinses the plates and utensils and bends to stack them in the dishwasher. My mind flashes to Alice's assertion that we'll wind up married, and I push the errant thought from my memory; we've talked about it, but it has all been hypothetical. Something tells me I shouldn't revisit the conversation until we get our groove back. I am suddenly filled with despair; in the five years we've been together, there has never been anything I couldn't discuss with Edward. Even the first time we found ourselves having a conversation about my period felt natural thanks in no small part to Edward's complete lack of aversion to the topic, which he credited to having an over-sharing sister and a doctor father. I ache for that comfort, that lack of censorship, and I curse the elephant in the room. The thought reminds me of Rosalie's disclosure at lunch and I snort; Edward drops a salad bowl into the sink and spins at the sound, his damp hand gripping the edge of the counter.

"Jesus, you scared me. I didn't hear you come in."


"What's so funny?" he asks, picking up and rinsing the miraculously unbroken bowl and adding it to the dishwasher rack.

"Just something funny Rose said at lunch the other day."

"Oh yeah?"

"Mmhmm. A little revelation about your post-prom extracurricular activities with Lauren Mallory?"

He pauses momentarily and shuts off the water before turning to face me, leaning against the counter and drying the suds from his hands with a red dishtowel. His expression is playfully suspicious. "I shudder to think," he says finally, one eyebrow arched. We disclosed all of our sexual exploits to one another a long time ago, and I can see his surprise that Rose may have shared with me something I didn't already know.

"More specifically, the nickname you earned following said activities," I clarify, and from his frown I can see that he wasn't privy to the information of what Lauren chose to christen his manhood.

"Nickname?" he repeats, and his effort to appear disinterested fails.

I nod. "The elephant," I say, pleased by the smile he tries to fight. "I have to say, a thoroughly apt moniker. I didn't realize Lauren had it in her."

"Oh, she never had it in her," he leers, and I roll my eyes, thankful beyond belief that playfully sexy Edward is back.

"I meant the wit, Edward."

"I think I like 'The Elephant' better," he breathes, stepping into me and wrapping his arms around my waist. "Much more descriptive."

"I prefer understatement," I argue, even as I fold my arms around his neck and lean into him. He lifts me effortlessly, and in two strides, I am deposited on the opposite countertop, his warm hands on my thighs and his mouth at my throat.

"And how, pray tell, did that particular part of my anatomy become a topic of lunchtime conversation?" he murmurs, drawing the skin at the hollow of my throat into his mouth and then kissing the small "v" of skin exposed by the open top button of my blouse. My breath catches in my throat as I tense; Edward's kisses against my neck pause and he pulls back to peer at my face. My mind is racing, but as usual, not fast enough. He releases me and steps back. "Please tell me you didn't."

"Didn't what?" But it is a thin denial, and Edward's eyes close as he tips his head back and talks to the ceiling.

"Please tell me you didn't tell my sister that her brother is suddenly inadequate in bed." His voice is calm, but the thin thread of anger lacing his words is unmistakable, and I feel indignation bubbling up in my throat as I slide off the counter and straighten my skirt.

"No. I told my best friends about something going on with my boyfriend that I was upset about."

"Don't play word games with me, Bella."

"Don't try to censor my conversations, Edward."

He glares at me for a moment before bending to slam the dishwasher door shut and storming out of the room.

Well done, Bella; that's one way to get rid of the nervousness.

Half an hour later, after I have run out of meaningless distractions designed to give Edward his space, I gently push the door to our bedroom open and squint into the darkness. "Edward?"

"Yeah." His voice comes from the direction of the bed, and I hesitate at the threshold.

"I'm sorry," I say softly. I hear him sigh, and I step into the room, barely able to make out his profile in the sliver of moonlight peeking through the blinds at the window. "I didn't mean to tell them anything. I just…I was frustrated and I needed to vent."

He sighs again, and I can hear the sheets rustle as he shifts. "I'm sorry, too. I didn't mean to yell at you. I was just mad and I—" He trails off and I step closer to the bed, worrying the hem of my blouse between my fingers.

"What?" I press, the cloak of near-darkness giving me the courage I couldn't find at the dinner table.

"I feel like…" He grunts in frustration.

"Like what?" I press in a whisper.

"Like a failure," he breathes, barely loud enough for me to hear him. "I mean, Jesus."

"Hey, you are not a failure," I say, all softness gone from my voice and vehement denial in its place. "This is about me, not you. I've just…had a lot on my mind lately, that's all. It's nothing you're doing or not doing."

He doesn't reply, but I hear a faint scoff in the darkness and I cross to the bed, disrobing as I go, slipping between the sheets and pressing my body to his side. I reach out, finding his cheek with my fingertips, and I softly caress his face.

"I'm at a loss," he admits finally, and I hate the uncertainty in his voice. "I mean, one time I could laugh off, but…" He trails off, and I refuse to count in my head how many times he thinks he's failed me.

"Don't," I whisper, my hand trailing from his cheekbone to his chest. "Please don't." I run my hand his sternum and scrape my nails down his abdomen, slowing as I reach the trail of hair that disappears into the waistband of his boxer briefs. I pause only momentarily before flattening my hand and sliding it beneath the elastic, gratified by the hitch in his breath. I stroke him slowly, feeling him lengthen and harden beneath my touch, and I withdraw my hand to slip his boxer briefs down to his thighs before throwing a leg across his hips and straddling him. Reaching between us, I lower myself onto him, and a moan escapes me as we join. I can feel him everywhere, and I place my hands on his chest and angle my body forward slightly, rocking my hips slowly over him.

"Bella," he breathes, his hands finding purchase on my hips. I sway languidly, feeling him mirror my unhurried movements, and his hands leave my hips to trail up to my breasts, cupping them gently and flicking against my nipples with his thumbs. I whimper and he sits up, finding my mouth with his own and wrapping his arms around my back.

I continue to rock until it seems like he is slowing instead of picking up the pace, and I draw back to peer at him through the darkness. Under my gaze, he stops moving entirely and drops his forehead to rest against my chest. I pause my movements, and as I do I feel him softening inside me. "Edward?" I whisper, a frown pulling at my face.

"God, Bella, I'm sorry," he murmurs before lifting me gently and placing me on the bed, slipping out from between the sheets and escaping into the bathroom, the door clicking shut behind him.

Well, great, I think, even as my heart hitches in my chest. Now we're both in the same boat.

"I think it's time to double-click your own mouse," Rosalie announces, stirring her drink with the red cocktail straw.

"What?!" A few heads turn at my screech, and I run my hands over my slacks as I fight to temper my scandalized expression, silently willing the nearby bar patrons to return to their own conversations.

"He's had a handful of orgasms trying to help you find yours, and the mounting frustration on your end probably isn't helping matters. If he can't do it for you, you've got to do it for yourself."

"Rose, I am absolutely not having this conversation."

She shrugs. "Suit yourself. But the more relaxed you are, the more likely it is that it'll happen. And right now, my friend, you are the dictionary opposite of relaxed." I am saved from having to respond by Alice's arrival, and I drag a barstool out for her to join us.

"What are we talking about?" she asks as she attempts to make eye contact with the lone bartender.

"Orgasms and your brother's lack of ability to produce them," Rose replies.

"Oh, God, not again."

"Funny, I'm sure that's exactly what Bella's been thinking these past few nights."

Alice clamps her hands over her ears and levels a glare at both of us. "Please. Stop."

"Bet she said that too," Rose mutters into her drink, and I shoot her a glare of my own as I reach up and forcibly remove Alice's hands from the sides of her head.

"We're not talking about this any more," I declare, and she smiles in gratitude even as Rosalie refuses to let the subject die.

"It would also eliminate the possibility that it's not him."

My eyes fly to hers. "Excuse me?"

Blue eyes regard me coolly, one perfectly shaped eyebrow hitching slightly as she sips her drink. "There are a lot of factors that can contribute to lack of sex drive, Bella," she informs me.

"It doesn't sound like the drive is the problem, Rose," Alice defends me, and I'm irrationally grateful to her for intervening despite her distaste for the topic. "It sounds more like it's, uh…the parking." She waves her hand, lips twisting slightly in a grimace.

"Well, have you started taking any new medications?" Rosalie demands, and I can see why she is one of the most sought-after divorce attorneys in the Pacific Northwest: she is relentless.

"No," I admit. Going along with her questions is undoubtedly the quickest way to move on from this conversation.

"Changed your birth control?"


"Could you be pregnant?"

Alice nearly spits out a mouthful of her drink as I flush. "No."

"When was your last period?"

"I'm not pregnant, Rosalie," I hiss, and I can feel Alice quivering beside me. I glace at her, and her eyes are wide and alight with possibility. "I'm. Not. Pregnant. Alice." She nods, but I can see the wheels in her head turning.

"No, I ask because some research suggest that orgasms are easier to come by at certain points in your cycle," Rose informs us, entirely undaunted by my exasperation, and I wonder when it was that she made the leap from lawyer to doctor.

"Okay, can we just stop talking about this?" I plead, taking a sip of my own drink to combat the flames of mortification making their way up my body.

"Well, fine, but I go back to my original suggestion: take care of it yourself." Rose shrugs in feigned indifference, and Alice nods sagely.

"That's not a bad idea, Bella," she hums, and I shift on my barstool.

"Thanks for the input," I mutter as arms suddenly band around my waist.

"Hey, love," Edward breathes into my ear, and the buzz that works its way through me is equal parts joy and relief.

"Hey," I reply, turning in my stool to face him; he steps back to let me move and then realigns himself in the space between my legs. "How was your day?"

He shrugs. "Better now." He looks past me to meet the gaze of the female bartender who was far quicker to notice him than she was Alice. "Three Amstels, please," he says, offering her a polite smile before returning his focus to my face.

"Where's Jasper?" Alice asks, and Edward nods toward the entrance of the bar.

"Parking the car." His eyes are still on my face, and I'm wondering at the sudden intensity of his stare, squirming slightly under his attention. A small smile quirks at his mouth, and my eyes drop to his lips, making his smile widen. He presses his mouth to mine as I grip his shoulders, the coarse knit of his sweater rough but warm beneath my fingers. He takes a step closer, his chest barely brushing mine, and the lips that were gentle press more insistently against my own.

"I'd tell you to get a room, but that would probably only make matters worse." Rosalie's voice is a bucket of cold water as Edward breaks our kiss, and I turn my head to glare at her. Edward takes a step back from me and rubs the back of his neck before bending to drop a hello kiss on Alice's cheek.

"Fucking hell, Rose," I breathe, and she shrugs again, disregarding me entirely when she spots Emmett weaving his way through the bar. I risk another glance at Edward, but he's watching the bartender approach with three bottles of beer and reaching behind him to retrieve his wallet from his back pocket. As he settles up, I accept cheek-kisses of greeting from Emmett and Jasper, still buzzing with a combination of pleasure from Edward's kiss and irritation at Rose's complete lack of refinement. Edward hands the boys their beers and they nod in thanks, each draping an arm around his girl and taking a swig.

He stands beside my barstool and I lean into him slightly, allowing myself to slip into the small pocket of comfort I always feel when surrounded by my friends and Edward. Despite the sudden awkwardness, the stress, and the fact that he hasn't attempted to touch me in three days, I can feel the tensions of the past week melting away as I sip my drink.

"Did you guys get measured for your tuxes?" Rose demands, and the three boys nod dutifully; conversation turns to Rose and Emmett's upcoming wedding, and all innuendos about Edward's and my bedroom deficiencies fall mercifully by the wayside.

"I'm not having sex with you tonight," Edward announces as he steps through the front door of our apartment the next day and drops his messenger bag unceremoniously on the floor inside it.

"Well, thank God for small favors," Rosalie mutters, flipping another page in the catalog she has pilfered from the stack of unopened mail that sits on the edge of the countertop.

"Oh. Hi, Rose," Edward greets, an embarrassed flush working its way across his face as he scratches the skin above his eyebrow. "I didn't realize you were here."

"Clearly," she sniffs and turns another page.

Edward glances uneasily toward me, and I roll my eyes in Rosalie's direction before offering him a warm smile. "How was your day?"

"Okay," he says, and his long fingers work the knot of his tie loose and flick open the top button of his charcoal gray dress shirt. "Landed the Smith & Barney account."

"That's fantastic!" I congratulate him, relieved and thankful for the ray of sunlight in his day. "I told you they'd love your pitch."

"You did," he agrees, coming to stand behind me and wrapping his arms around my waist. "So I was thinking we'd go out to dinner to celebrate."

"After which you will not be having sex with me?" I clarify, spinning in his arms and beaming up at him; his expression softens at my playful smile.

"Absolutely not," he agrees. "I've had a hard day; the last thing I need is a hard night."

Rose snorts and slips off the stool beside the breakfast counter. "I'd say that's my cue. Later, Bella. Lover-boy." She doffs an imaginary hat and slides her purse off the back of the stool before letting herself out.

"Good riddance," Edward mutters only half-jokingly and returns his focus to my face. "Dinner?"

Forty-five minutes later we are seated at one of our favorite restaurants in Port Angeles, a small upscale pub-style place on the waterfront that occasionally features live music courtesy of singer-songwriters trying to break into the Seattle music scene. Tonight it is a woman with a Fiona Apple vibe, a riotous mane of red hair, and a guitar case plastered with city stickers. As Edward studies the drink menu, she covers one of Alanis Morissette's tamer numbers, and I relax into the cushioned backrest of my chair, watching Edward's face in the flickering candlelight. I realize suddenly that I've missed him this week; between our jobs and the ever-widening chasm of awkwardness between us, I've missed just being with him. I reach across the space between us and rest my hand over his, smiling softly when he glances up at me.

"Hi," I murmur, my thumb tracing the fluted bones of his wrist.

"Hi," he echoes, a small smile softening his face. He has changed out of his work clothes and into a charcoal gray sweater; I watch his chest rise and fall with his even breaths for a moment before dragging my eyes back up to his face.

"This was a good idea," I say, and he flares his fingers to lace them with mine, our now-intertwined hands bridging the gap that seemed so impassable such a short time ago.

"It was," he agrees. "I thought just a night out to unwind, no pressure…" He trails off, the embarrassment that never seems far from his mind these days making an unwelcome reappearance.

"No pressure," I confirm, tracing his knuckle with my thumb, and he chews at his lip, an action so uncharacteristically nervous that my heart hitches. "What looks good?" I redirect, nodding toward the wine list.

"They have that Bordeaux you like," he replies, green eyes scanning the list before closing it and discarding it beside his elbow. "Bella, I owe you an apology," he says quickly, realigning his silverware beside his plate as he avoids meeting my eyes. I reach across the table to snare his fingers between mine once again.

"No you don't, Edward," I cut him off. "Please. This is just…well, I don't really know what this is. But I know what it isn't, and it isn't something you're doing or not doing."

He shakes his head and I halt in my diatribe. "No, not that. I mean, yes, I'm sorry about that. Of course I am. But I meant about getting angry with you the other day for talking to Alice and Rose. I know they're your best friends and you confide in them, and I had no right to get angry with you. I was just…" He trails off, and the small muscle at the hinge of his jaw clenches. "Embarrassed," he finishes, his cheeks tinged a faint pink.

"I understand that," I say, tightening my grip on his hand. "But you don't need to be."

He doesn't respond, but I can read the disagreement etched in his features. Before I can continue, a waiter in a pressed black t-shirt, black slacks, and a black apron around his waist appears beside our table to take our drink orders. Once Edward has ordered a glass of wine for me and water for himself, he returns to fiddling with his flatware.

"Did they, uh, have any suggestions?" His Adam's apple bobs in his throat and he shifts in his chair.

I frown, my mind still on our drink orders. "Who?"

"Alice. And Rosalie."

"Oh." It's my turn to fiddle with my cutlery. "Not really."

He snorts. "You forget that I've known Rose even longer than you have, and I can't remember a single situation in which she didn't have an opinion." His long fingers trace the lip of the table. "You won't hurt my feelings."

I steadfastly refuse to share with him the Johnny Depp suggestion, but Rose's suggestion from the night before dances through my mind. "She thinks I should take matters into my own hands," I reply, and his eyebrows narrow in confusion before they slide up his forehead.

"Does that mean…"

"Yeah." I save him from having to put words to the act, and when I risk a glance at his face, his eyes have darkened.

"That's not a bad idea," he murmurs, and his voice is heavy and rough. "As long as I can watch."

My face is aflame, and I am struggling for a response when the waiter reappears with our glasses. "Bordeaux for the lady and a water for you, sir. Are you ready to order, or would you like a few minutes?"

"A few minutes, please," I squeak, and he nods before retreating; I take a careful sip of my wine and attempt to calm my suddenly jackhammering heart. "That's not fair," I say finally, and Edward cocks his head to the side slightly in question. "You're teasing me, and you already told me you're not putting out tonight."

A mischievous smile tugs at his mouth. "That's not to say you can't take advantage of Rose's suggestion," he says lightly before taking pity on me and moving on from the possibility of me getting myself off in front of him. "I shudder to think what my sister had to say."

I roll my eyes. "Alice thinks I'm pregnant," I say and immediately curse myself when his dinner plate-sized eyes fly to my face. "I'm not," I hasten to add, but my assurance does little to counteract his alarm. "Edward, I'm on the pill. Don't freak out."

I see his throat bob as he swallows, and then again as he takes a careful sip from his water glass. His fingers drum on the cream-colored linen tablecloth as he clears his throat. "Okay, obviously you know how your body works far better than I do – in fact, I'd say recent events highlight that fact in rather harsh clarity – but still…is it even possible? I mean, the pill is, what, ninety-nine percent effective? What if we're the one percent?"

I resist the urge to make a political joke. "I would know if I were pregnant, and I'm not."

"Right, but what if you are?" he presses, and I can see that logic is getting me nowhere. "I mean, should you keep taking your pill if you are? Couldn't that hurt the baby?" I see him falter at the word "baby," and I take his hand between mine, his eyes on our laced fingers.

"Edward. Look at me." Green eyes find mine, dubious and fatigued. "I'm not. We're not. Please don't freak out; I shouldn't have said anything. I was trying to make you laugh."

"Laugh?" he asks, his voice and expression incredulous.

"Mission failed, clearly," I mutter, and we fall into an awkward silence. Just as I'm beginning to feel like we'll never find our way back to normal again, the girl with the guitar picks out the opening bars of a familiar tune, and I look up to see the lines of concern melt from Edward's face. He wraps his hand around mine, tracing his thumb across my knuckles as Dave Matthews Band's "Crash Into Me" wafts through the dim lighting of the restaurant. It's the song that was playing on his car stereo five years ago, the first night we tumbled into his childhood bedroom; it's the reason we bought tickets to see the band all those years ago and couldn't keep our hands off each other in the parking lot; it's the song we've claimed as "ours," the one we know will one day play in the background as he cradles me to his chest, a swirl of white chiffon or tulle cascading around our heels.

"This is so stupid," he murmurs quietly. His voice is tired. "I don't even know why…" He trails off.

"I've missed you," I say finally, when it becomes clear he's not going to finish his thought, and he looks up at me. "This has been awkward, and I feel like it's made us…distant. I've missed you."

He nods, coppery strands of hair glistening in the flickering candlelight. "That's exactly it," he says, and he still doesn't let go of my hand, his grip tightening infinitesimally.

"Edward, I love you."

"I love you too," he breathes. "So much."

Suddenly, I frown. "Do you realize we haven't said that to each other once in the past week?"

"What?" I am gratified that he seems as disturbed by this realization as I am. "That can't be true."

"It is," I say sadly. "Not since before the first…time."

He shakes his head. "I do. I love you so much," he declares, his green eyes sharp as they bore into mine. "I've loved you since the first time I saw you after college, when you were wearing that red checkered sundress and helping that old lady put those potted plants in the back of her car. I saw you and recognized you instantly, but suddenly it was like you were this whole new person, and in that moment, you standing there in the sun, I wanted to kiss you. I hadn't even spoken to you in four years, but I wanted to kiss you so, so badly." He pauses, and I let the familiar warm wave of his love wash over me. "I still feel like that every single day."

"Me too," I breathe, and as we sit and gaze at each other across the white linen tablecloth, I feel the knot of anxiety that has been steadily growing in my chest loosen, unraveling a week's worth of tension as it does so. While I've certainly missed the bliss of sexual release, this, this, is what's been missing from my life lately. The feeling of us.

The waiter reappears once again, and we order the same dishes we always order when we eat here; neither of us has glanced at the menu, but I know that I'd rather order the same old salmon than let go of his hand. And, as he orders his sirloin, his eyes tell me he feels the same.

That relief is evident in the grip of his hand on mine before and after dinner, the lacing of our fingers in the car on the way home, his steady presence beside me as we brush our teeth, and the reassuring solidness of his broad chest against my back as he curls around me to sleep.

As warm white-yellow light slips through a crack in the curtains, I feel Edward behind me, his body still pressed to mine, and I'm not sure we moved at all during the night. His heavy arm is still a blanket across my torso, his hand tucked between my ribs and the mattress, and his forehead rests between my shoulder blades, his warm breath dancing down my spine with each exhalation. I shift slightly and he grunts, protesting the movement as I crack one eye open and glance at the glowing numbers of the clock on the nightstand. It is too early to be awake considering that it's Saturday, but as soon as my eyes are open, I am replaying the previous night's events through my mind. The relief is nearly tangible and is mirrored nicely by the cocoon of comfort I feel in Edward's embrace, the gentle softness of warm cotton beneath my cheek, the bright ray of light sliding across the floorboards and spilling onto the foot of our bed.

I arch my back slightly and Edward groans again in protest, even as I feel evidence of his approaching consciousness pressing against my tailbone. I chuckle, and he retracts his hand from beneath my ribs and slides it to my hip and down to the top of my thigh, his grip warm and possessive even in half-sleep. I sigh into my pillow, enjoying his lazy caress, thrilling in the simple fact of his warm chest pressed against the bare skin of my shoulder blades above the line of my tank top. I press back faintly, craving more contact, and the fingers on my hip curl slightly as he swims to the surface of awareness. I feel him lengthen against my ass and resist the temptation to thrust my hips backward, not wanting to temper this blissful moment with the reemergence of his newfound self-doubt, but suddenly his hand leaves my hip and slides back up my ribs, this time beneath the thin cotton of my top, cupping my breast as his thumb finds my nipple.

A wordless gasp falls from my lips, and I surrender to the desire to press against him, my hips fitting into the cradle of his as he subtly pushes against me. He says nothing, instead pressing a kiss against my shoulder blade before returning his hand to my thigh and opening me up to him. I let him prop my thigh over his, my back still pressed to his chest as he leans up on his other elbow and skates his fingertips along the crease of my thigh, chuckling lowly as I shudder. He repeats the movement, listening in silence as my breaths grow increasingly uneven before sliding his warm palm over the skin beneath my belly button and slipping his fingers beneath the elastic of my boy briefs. He exhales heavily in my ear when his fingers find me wet and trembling, and he teases me with gentle, languorous caresses. I close my eyes and wallow in the feel of his gentle touch, thrusting shallowly against his hand, relishing in the rough edge of his uneven breathing as my body coils.

Suddenly his fingers are gone, gripping the waistband of my underwear and sliding them down my legs and off before reclaiming my thigh and hitching it back over his hip as he pulls away from my back slightly and angles his hips to slide into me. I feel every inch of him as he pushes in, deep and hard and hitting me just right. I gasp as he hums and keeps pushing until he is buried completely, the skin of his lower stomach flush against the small of my back, the front of his thighs kissing the back of my own. His hand returns to where we are joined and resumes its previous pattern, drawing lazy circles around the heart of me, and as a moan breaks free of me, he rocks gently into my body.

I meet his gentle thrusts, pressing my hips back against him, taking him even deeper and fisting my hand in the pillowcase as I feel Edward's teeth scrape across the back of my neck. I whimper in a silent plea, but the circles he's pressing into me with his fingers remain lazy and soft, his thrusts slow and unhurried. The circles become traces up and down before circling back around, no discernible pattern to them, and the slow tease is making me burn, a steady hum winding through all of the nerves in my body. I buck slowly against his hand and his hips, following his lead even as my body begs for more, faster, harder.

I whimper and he bites harder, thrusts harder, grips harder, and the circles of his fingertips grow smaller and faster. "Edward," I moan, finally breaking our stalemate silence, and he groans, pulling almost all the way out before ramming back into me, a near-feral sound ripping from his mouth. "Yes," I breathe, and he does it again, his hand abandoning my clit and curling around my hip for purchase as he thrusts. My pleasure is a wave, gathering force and speed and size as it moves, and I can feel the trembling hum of Edward's body against mine.

"God, I love you," he grunts, his hips pistoning, and I can hear the sounds of our bodies moving against each other, the rasp of cotton as we slide against the sheets. I arch my back slightly and he hits me even deeper, tearing a surprised hiss from his lips. "Fuck, yes," he groans, and what started as lovemaking is climbing and spiraling toward something else entirely, and when his hand finds my clit again, I begin to shake, a guitar string wound tight, plucked and resonating. The rigid length of him drags along my inner walls, a delicious torture against every part of me, and I gasp as a plea falls unbidden from my lips.

"Please," I beg, abandoning the pillowcase to reach back and grab the soft skin where his hip meets his ass.

"Please what?" he demands, his thrusts relentless.

"Please make me come," I plead, any fear of pressuring him suddenly vanished.

"Yes," he breathes, and I can hear the clench of his jaw in his voice. "You're mine."

"Yes," I echo, and he rolls me forward slightly so that I am half on my side and half on my stomach, as he continues to thrust against me unrelentingly.

"I'm not letting you go until you come for me," he hisses, and suddenly, the lock opens. Familiar warmth bursts from where we are joined and licks its way up my body, all my nerve endings taut and humming with pleasure as I shake, my release crashing over me like a breaker. Edward holds still, buried to the hilt, letting me tighten and shudder around him, riding the wave with me until I go boneless.

"Oh, thank God," he gasps into my neck, pressing a hot open-mouthed kiss to the hollow of my shoulder, panting into my damp skin for a moment before he pulls out and rolls me onto my back before pushing my thighs apart with his knees and driving himself back into me. He resumes thrusting and my body arches against him, still taut with pleasure and buzzing with aftershocks, and his green eyes flash.

"Again," he demands, and even as I open my mouth to protest, I can feel the hum of arousal climbing again, setting my skin aflame beneath the weight of his body.

"So I have a theory," I say, three orgasms later.

"Oh?" I can tell from his tone that Edward could not care less what empirical knowledge I have gained from our recent troubles, but that he has decided to humor me.

"It became about the sex," I confide, and the bed shifts as he rolls closer to me.


"It stopped being about us, and it stopped being about love, and it stopped being about anything other than getting me off," I say. "And it's never been like that for us." He hums a noncommittal agreement and I sigh, dragging my fingernails absently across my bare torso and letting my eyes fall closed.

"Good theory," he offers, and I can tell that he doesn't much care what the reasoning was, now that the problem has resolved itself a few times over. After a few more beats of blissful, love-drunk silence, he stretches and hums. "What are you doing today?"

"Having lunch with Rose and Alice at La Roux," I say, even as I wish I could spend the entire day tangled in bed sheets with this beautiful, sexy man.

He turns his head in my direction and cracks open an eye, a smug grin plastered across his face. "Can I assume you'll be informing them that the previous topic of lunch conversation is no longer relevant?"

"You bet," I promise, rising to one elbow and pressing a kiss to his mouth.

"And you'll assure them that not only was the problem resolved, but that the score sheet was decidedly evened?"

I raise a skeptical eyebrow. "I beg your pardon?"

"Y'know." He waves a hand in the general direction of my lap. "The tally. I'd say I just about made up for the few I had without you, wouldn't you?"

I roll my eyes in mock exasperation; while I would generally attempt to bring him down a peg or two, I'm far too elated at the disappearance of insecure Edward and the subsequent return of smug, cocky Edward to argue with him.

"Absolutely," I vow, and he beams.

"Wait, before you go." He rolls away from me to rummage in his nightstand drawer, and I silently thank the heavens that it's the top drawer; even newly hyperorgasmic Bella needs a breather and isn't quite rejuvenated enough to play with any of the things stashed in the second drawer. My gaze traces the long line of his spine and pauses at dimples on his lower back, just above the sheet pooled around his hips; I am so busy appreciating his body that I am slightly startled when he rolls back toward me with a small white envelope between his fingers. When he holds it out I take it, sliding the flap open and retrieving two tickets to the upcoming Dave Matthews concert. A smile slides easily across my lips, and I glance up to his face, the expression on which mirrors my own. "I'll be sure to wash the car beforehand."

I beam – at the implication, at the lightness of his voice, at the glimmer in his eyes – and throw my leg over his hips, pinning him to the mattress as I dip my head and bring my lips to his ear. "I'd certainly appreciate it, though it's not absolutely necessary," I murmur, rocking teasingly against him.

"I'll keep that in mind," he breathes as he sets me spinning again, and I decide to abandon my lunch plans with the girls. They'll understand.

A/N: Thanks for reading.