Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight.

Also hOLY MOLY the response to the last chap was really fucking great and y'all are the coolest of beans. Ok, on with it.


Chapter Fifteen

I'm not jealous. Not even mad. Logically, I have absolutely no reason to be. Then again, I've never really done well with logic.

I'm not jealous. The words play in a loop through my mind as I grit out a smile at Jessica's beaming face and we stare at each other with equally puzzled expressions, both of us seemingly speechless for the time being.

"Bella?" My eyes snap to the space behind her where Edward has seemingly miraculously appeared out of thin air, his brows knitted, eyes wide. "What are you doing here?"

Yeah, Bella, what are you doing here, besides feeling like an utter fucking fool? "Um. Hi." My eyes dart between his confused gaze and Jessica's cheerfully blank stare as my teeth catch my lower lip, mind drawing a complete blank.

"I thought you had a hot date?" Edward recalls, yanking me out of my confused stupor.

"Huh?" His brow quirks at my speechlessness, making me nod quickly. "Right. Yes. Hot date." I clear my throat, noticing their close proximity in the cramped doorway, and decide to blame the not-quite-jealousy-more-like-hateful-surprise surging through my veins for anything that comes out of my mouth from this point onward. "It was very hot. Blazing. Volcanic, even."

Like that.

His confusion blurs into skeptical amusement as both his eyebrows bounce. "Really."

"Oh, totally. I wouldn't be surprised if I caught a bit of radiation poisoning," I ramble.

Jessica remains speechless, her eyes darting from me to Edward as he says, "Well. That sounds healthy."

I shrug, releasing a weak chuckle. "I could be down for growing a third foot or something, anyway."

"Because you do so well with the two you already have."

I blink, irritated at his comment, and my annoyed glare switches to Jessica's confused face. "Anyway," I clear my throat, "I was just dropping by to return that, uh, CD you let me borrow, Edward."

He cocks his head. "CD?"

"But I see you have company, so," I shrug, waving my hand casually. "Have fun, you crazy kids. Just. Forget I was here." Now if only I could.

"Jessica was just leaving," Edward informs, halting my retreating footsteps. He hands the curly brunette a purple cardigan I didn't notice he'd been holding before and she accepts it with a grin that could rival the Joker's.

"Thanks for a great night, Edward," she almost breathes, practically bouncing. I sort of hate it. But not as much as I hate the fact that I can't exactly blame her.

He runs a hand through his hair, pursing his lips in a polite smile. "It was…nothing. Really." And the double meaning isn't lost on me.

It flies right over her head, however. "I'll see you tomorrow?" she giggles, stepping out of his doorway.

He presses his lips together and nods. "Sure. Yeah."

"Great," she practically shrieks. With a wave and distracted "Good night, Bella" to me, she casts one last longing look at Edward before releasing a yelped "Bye!"

I watch her figure disappear down the hall before turning to face Casanova, the query of her presence on the tip of my tongue. I shouldn't care, though. Shouldn't even be thinking about it. What does it matter if she was at his place, alone, at the seductive hour of eight p.m., anyway? It doesn't.

"Wow," I mutter dryly, telling myself I couldn't give two shits about her being here. "Does she pick up your laundry and sleep at the foot of your bed, too?"

His eyes flick to mine. "Seriously? You're making dog jokes at me, future Mrs. Yorkie?" he snorts, taking a step towards me. "Is that even allowed?"

I take one back. "What are you, the joke police?"

"That depends," he murmurs, inching one brow higher. "You have a thing for cops, right?"

I roll my eyes and mutter, "See you later, Cullen" under my breath before moving to turn and leave when he places a hand on my shoulder, stopping me. He spins me around gracefully, the movement and his concerned stare flipping my stomach.

"What are you doing here, Bella?" he asks again.

I know he doesn't mean for it to sound so accusatory, but regret washes through me even still as I stare at my shoes, feeling my cheeks burn. I should've just gone home. I should've driven back to my apartment and poured myself some cheap boxed wine and fallen asleep to the familiar, comforting chant of "Move that bus!" instead of interrupting his and Jessica's orgy like some needy, obsessed stray.

I open my mouth to say "Nothing, Edward, goodnight," but all that comes out is, "Are you boning her?"

So much for not giving two shits.

If Edward had a drink, this would make him spit it out. "What?" he coughs.

I blink once. "Just…I mean. Never mind." I make a move to scurry away when he grabs the edge of my jacket, pulling me back.

"Were you actually subjected to radiation poisoning?" he asks, checking the temperature of my forehead with the back of his hand, eyebrows pulled together. He flashes me the peace sign. "How many fingers am I holding up?"

"Okay," I sigh with a shameful nod. "I get it. I'm sorry. That was…"

"How much did you have to drink?" The sad answer is: not much at all. I'm just naturally this absurd. Talented, right? "Can you walk a straight line for me?"

"Edward."

"Maybe it's a stroke," he mutters to himself, gaze surveying my body. "Tell me, can you feel this?" he asks before bluntly placing both hands on the sides of my chest, fingers barely brushing my breasts as he gives the flesh a light squeeze.

I punch his arm and shoo his hands away, telling my body to calm the hell down as it's beginning to react. "Now you're just being ridiculous."

"I'm being ridiculous?" he scoffs as he rubs his arm, looking at me like I morphed into Samuel L. Jackson right before his very eyes. "You just asked if I was boning Jessica. Have you undergone a lobotomy?"

"I know you're not boning her," I groan, palms covering my face. "I didn't mean…I just—why was she here?"

"Why does it matter?"

I release my face from my hands so my eyes meet his. "Because."

"Right," he nods, "of course. So simple. I should've thought of that reason before."

"You know why," I say with a smack to his chest.

"That explains why I asked the question," he says dumbly. "You know, you should write a book."

I hit him another time. "She's an attractive co-worker who probably has a shrine of you hidden deep in her closet that was made the first day she fucking spotted you, so the possibility of a bonefest happening isn't completely beyond belief, especially when she was just inside your bat cave."

"It is when I have absolutely no interest in said bonefest," he counters, a quirk appearing between his brows. "Seriously, what's wrong, Bella?"

"Nothing," I shake my head, pouring as much indifference into my voice as I can. "Nothing at all. Everything's coo." My wince is immediate.

"Coo?" he repeats, trying not to smile. "What are you, a 90's rap artist?"

"Don't hate me cuz you ain't me," I blurt out.

"You're gonna make me reinstate the White Chicks ban of '04."

"Haters is gonna hate," I shrug nervously.

"Something you clearly have extensive knowledge of."

"What?" I cock my head probably too enthusiastically to be considered casual, the movement almost causing a neck cramp. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Really," he drawls.

"Really."

"I call bullshit."

"You can call anything you like. Or anyone, apparently." The words are muttered before I realize it.

Edward's forehead creases for a second before his features clear, eyes lighting up like some small town detective who just cracked the case of the missing tumbleweed. "I knew it."

"Congrats, Sherlock," I reply lowly, turning around to leave again.

He grabs my wrist and pulls me back, mouth slightly agape with disbelief. "You're jealous?"

"What?" I scoff. "No, are you—what? You…no. That's just absurd. Like your face."

"Well, now I know you're lying," he replies, lips twitching.

"I am not jealous of Jess the Mess," I tell him with narrowed eyes.

His left eyebrow arches. "Not jealous enough that you've already come up with a spiteful nickname for her?"

"Rose came up with it," I lie.

"Why do I find that hard to believe?"

"Because you're a cynical unbeliever who refuses to believe in things," I explain.

He nods slowly, faking enlightenment. "So that's what unbeliever means."

"You're such an asshole."

"I feed off of your energy," he shrugs.

"Well, that's gross."

"What?"

"Don't use that word."

"Energy?" He repeats with a raised a brow. "Overexertion by word association?" he hypothesizes.

I can't help the laugh that spills forth as I shove his shoulder. "No, you dick. Feed. It's gross and makes me think of blood-sucking demons."

"I thought those were your peeps?" He looks genuinely confused.

"I thought the world agreed to stop saying peeps the second it turned 2003?" I respond, equally perplexed.

"So you can say shit like 'hater' and 'coo' and get off scot-free, but I use one questionably outdated term, and you burn me at the stake?"

I shrug with a grim smile. "Don't hate the player, Cullen, hate the game."

"I can multitask."

"Jess'll love that," I respond dryly. "Give her my best."

His gaze keeps me from moving. "I didn't invite her, Bella."

The fact that he even feels the need to reassure me, no matter how great the consolation is, cranks my defense mechanism into overdrive. "So…she broke into your place Ali Larter style and you decided to keep her around to play catch with?"

His forehead creases at my annoyance, his tone hardening. "Why the fuck does it matter? You were out with Eric Terrier or some shit, anyway."

"After you and the cupid gang forced me to go on a date with him," I remind loudly. To hell with eavesdropping neighbors.

"You weren't forced, you were cornered."

"Semantics, Webster."

His jaw tenses. "The only reason that even happened was because you insisted that we keep this...thing," he waves to the space between our bodies, "secret from everyone else."

"So it's all my fault," I nod. "Great."

"Jesus, Bella, don't—" he scrubs his face with the heels of his hands, the coiling tension evident in his stiff posture. When he speaks again, he doesn't yell, instead talking quietly but firmly as his hard gaze bores into mine. "Just fucking think about what you're asking for, Bella. You want to be with me, but not publicly. You want me to act like your friend, but a shitty one. You want to pretend nothing's happening between us, but get pissed if I hang with another girl. I mean…" he lets out a breath, his shoulders raising with a slight shrug. "What the fuck am I supposed to do?"

All I can do is stare back at him, the inside of my bottom lip chewed raw. I know he's completely right. That every single thing he's said is true. I'm the one who wanted to don the cloak on our whatever-the-fuck-this-is and complicate everything. I'm the asshole who keeps making this entire situation way harder than it needs to be, for the both of us. And now the whole thing is blowing up in my face. Switch it up for once, would you, Universe?

"Fuck," I sigh finally, eyes on the floor. "I know. I'm sorry. I'm just…such shit."

His feet shuffle closer. "You're not shit, Swan. You're just shit at this."

I raise my head, inhaling. "I'm not even…I know you wouldn't, like. Do anything. With her."

"Your bonefest-related interrogation says otherwise."

"I don't trust her," I grumble, eyes darting to his.

"She's not the one you should be trusting," he tells me, lightly tapping his shoe against mine.

"I know. And I do trust you," I admit. "Even after I got sick at the Indian restaurant you told me I'd love."

He smiles a little, but it doesn't quite reach his eyes. "Bella, I know you. You're always trying to figure things out, trying to analyze everything. You like solving problems so much, you create your own."

"Wow, Cheech," I murmur with a nod. "Real deep."

He socks my shoulder softly, chuckling under his breath. "I'm just asking for a little fucking credit. And for you to get the hell out of your head for once."

I run a hand through my hair and lift my eyes to the ceiling. "I told you I'd suck at this. Did I not fucking tell you?"

"You told me," he nods. "And I signed up, anyway."

"Idiot," I call him with a light push against his chest.

He takes the hit with a small smile. "Maybe. I'm kinda too far gone to care, though," he shrugs casually.

My teeth grit slightly to keep my lips from raising, and my gaze softens a little. "Apathy is so romantic," I sigh.

"You're one to talk," he scoffs.

"What?"

"Oh, come on." He cocks his head, standing up straighter before changing his voice to match mine. '"Hey, I'm Bella Swan and emotional investments terrify me to no end, which is why I can't care about anything or anyone except alcohol and Netflix,'" he mocks.

"You fucker," I laugh quietly, not denying his claim. "Why do I sound like a chihuahua on acid?"

"Ask genetics, not me."

"I'll add it to the list," I mutter, making him chuckle. "That's not all true, you know."

"I know," he grins.

"There's at least one more thing in this world I can't really live without."

"Is there, now?"

"Puppies," I smile, watching the smug look on his face falter just a little.

"Of course," he murmurs. "How could I forget? You want at least one autonomous item in your list of top three survival essentials."

"Not too autonomous, though. Just enough brain power to follow orders. Don't want any pesky rebellions happening."

"Very insightful, Adolf."

"Let's not make mountains out of molehills. Also, what's up with you and Hitler being on a first name basis?"

He laughs, running a hand through his hair with a shrug. He tilts his head towards his doorway. "Come inside, and I'll tell you everything you want to know."

"This definitely isn't reminiscent to being stashed in the back of a white van at the promise of candy," I shake my head. "Not at all."

"Are you calling Hitler your choice of confection?" he asks before singing, "Break me off a piece of that dic-ta-tor!" in the Kit Kat tune, causing me to burst forth with laughter.

"I'm going in now," I say when I can talk again.

"Finally," he sighs, moving out of the way.

Once inside, I head straight for his fridge and yank two Stellas from his fridge, that damn Kit Kat song stuck in my head. He's waiting on the couch and I settle next to him, handing him his bottle as I sip mine. He doesn't turn on the TV and I'm grateful for the quiet that lets me organize my thoughts before speaking them.

When I look up, his stare catches me off guard. "What?" I breathe.

He smiles. "Why are you whispering?"

"I don't—" I clear my throat and will my normal tone to surface. "I don't know," I shrug. "Your weird stare is whisper-inducing."

"My stare isn't weird," he insists before nudging my knee, letting his hand linger. "What were you gonna say?"

I eye him suspiciously. "How do you know I was going to say anything?"

His smile is slightly boyish, and I encounter the not-so-sudden urge to kiss him. Badly. "You get this look on your face," he explains. "It kinda looks like you're trying to solve a calculus problem on the toilet."

I ignore the latter of his reply, the corner of my mouth raising with one of my brows. "I get this look?" I repeat, amused and a tad smug. "Oh-ho, Cullen," I chuckle, "you're in deep."

"I'm merely observant," he shrugs.

"Try head over heels. Over the moon. Falling hard," I list.

"You're a starving little thing, aren't you?" he muses.

"Enamored," I continue with a grin, placing my beer on his coffee table. "Utterly besotted."

He sets his bottle next to mine, muttering, "You want affection like Oliver Twists wants some more."

"You want to kiss me," I hum à la Sandra Bullock, ignoring his attempts to rain on my parade. "You want to hug me…" I may or may not start dancing. "You want to love me…"

His hands clutch my hips to still them, but that just leaves more opportunity for upper-body grooving, and when I start to bob my head back and forth and roll my shoulders, he tackles me, pinning my arms to my sides as his body drapes over mine, heavy and warm.

"This isn't stopping me," I grunt, trying to dance underneath his solid weight. "Nobody puts baby in a corner!"

"I don't even think that reference applies," he chuckles breathlessly.

"You can't steal the music in my soul," I persist, trying to move my hips in time with my shoulders.

"Bella," he says with a slow grin, lowering his mouth to my neck. "Quit dancing, or face the consequences." I'm about to ask what he's talking about when he shifts his hips against mine ever so slightly, the obvious beginning of his arousal causing me to gulp.

"Oh."

"Yep."

"Fine. Truce," I breathe, staring up at his face inches from mine. "I stop dancing, you stop the hovercopter routine."

"Deal," he nods.

When we're both sitting upright, I grab my beer and Edward straightens his shirt. "So what were you saying?" he asks.

"That your attachment to me is akin to a tree's need for sunshine."

"I'm referring to the time before your head blew up to the size of Jupiter."

"Oh. Um." I take another sip. "I was just wondering what Jessica really was doing here earlier." His eyes appraise me skeptically, so I continue. "This isn't some jealous-fueled interrogation, Edward, I swear. I'm just curious, is all. You said you didn't invite her, so…"

After a beat of suspicion, he answers. "She dropped something off from the office."

What, her panties? "Oh. Cool." I drain the rest of my drink. "Was she here long, or?"

"Bella."

"What?" I huff, dropping my empty bottle gently on the floor. "I can't ask questions?"

Another second passes, and he inhales slowly. "I offered her a drink."

"Oh."

"She said she was thirsty," he defends.

"I fucking bet she was," I nearly mutter.

He tilts his head. "Hey, you know that thing you said earlier? Something about how haters is gonna hate...?"

"I'm not hating," I raise my hands. "I'm simply...disliking. Intensely."

"Semantics, Webster," he shoots back with a smile.

"I'm not jealous," I insist. "Just, you know. Cautious."

"Well, you have nothing to be cautious about."

"I know." And I do. Deep down, I know the extent of Edward's feelings for me. All jokes aside, I know he genuinely cares about me. Just as I do him. "But, just. I don't know. Seeing her with you, knowing she was in your apartment…" I trail off, staring at his fingers tracing patterns on my lower thigh.

"Yeah?" His voice is low.

I shake my head, meeting his intense stare. "Maybe I'm a fucking psychopath, but it felt wrong. Really wrong."

"You're not a fucking psychopath," he murmurs, shifting a little closer. "Just a regular one."

I shove his shoulder and he whines softly before reaching for a strand of my hair. "I was waiting for you the whole time, you know."

I attempt to conceal the grin threatening to split my face at his confession, the knowledge that I wasn't alone in my pathetic quasi-pining earlier creating a balloon of warmth to bloom in my chest. It's still terrifying as fuck, but at least I have company. "Yeah?"

"Yeah."

"I wish I could say the same, but my date was pretty awesome," I almost whisper.

His finger finds my chin and lifts it so I'm staring straight into the greenest goddamn eyes I've ever seen. "Liar."

I shake my head, his finger falling with the action. "I'm serious. Eric was really funny. And hot. And cool. And hot. And interesting. Did I mention hot?"

He waves a hand. "Once or twice."

My phone buzzes before I can respond and I fish it out of my pocket, seeing that it's a text from Alice. "Oh, look, it's him now."

Edward blinks. He looks half speechless and half pissed as he says, "Tell the lucky dog I say hi."

I roll my eyes at his jab and type out my reply to Alice, texting her that I made it home safely but narrating something else entirely. "Hi, Eric, so great to hear from you," I say loudly, hover-darting my fingers across my phone. "I had a fantastic time. We should do it again sometime. Did I mention how attractive I think you are? I really like how your hair doesn't look like you've been electrocuted during sex," my eyes dart quickly to Edward's, "like some people I know."

I barely get to finish the end when he snatches my phone from my hands, holding it above his head, ignoring my protests. "Electrocuted during sex?" he repeats with a glare.

"It's a great look for some people," I grunt, crouching over him to reach my phone. "Like Albert Einstein and Doc Brown."

He holds my phone even higher, making me whine as a laugh spills from his lips. "Those guys were brilliant scientists ahead of their time."

"Defend yourself all you want, Carrot Top." Okay, I touched a nerve.

His mouth falls open at that, a wicked glint flashing in his narrowed eyes. "You're gonna pay for that."

"I'm quaking," I huff, raising my arm even higher to try and snatch my phone from his hand. We wrestle around for a few more minutes until he somehow manages to disentangle himself from my grip and leaps off the couch, nearly whacking me in the face with his elbow in the process. In a flash, he's across the room.

"Give it to me, Cullen," I snarl, rising from the couch quickly.

"What, so you can text Old Yeller about my promiscuous hair some more?" He purses his lips. "I don't think so."

"One way or another, I'm getting that phone back."

"Sure thing, Blondie."

"Edward. Give it to me."

He flashes me a devious smile and, with absolutely no forethought whatsoever, shoves my phone in his pants.

Like actually. Shoved. In his pants.

"Come and get it, Swan."

My mouth gapes open, along with my eyes. "It's like you're a twelve-year-old acting out his audition tape for Jackass," I almost shout, glaring at his lap.

He shrugs wordlessly, like he didn't just jam a communicative device of mine snug as a bug next to his junk. "Sorry, I can't hear you over all this crackling sex hair."

His easy smirk stirs some kind of compulsory retaliation deep in my gut that sets my metaphorical shoulders and propels my feet to carry me forward. I stomp across the living room and come up only inches away from his smug face before reaching down easily, my fingers unhooking the button of his jeans. Satisfaction comes in the way his brows twitch with pleasant surprise, eyes widening ever so slightly as I slowly slide his zipper down, and I catch the slight but evident bob of his Adam's apple in my peripheral when my palm meets the fabric of his boxers.

"Now, where is that darn thing," I mumble distractedly, lowering my eyes to the sight of my hand in his increasingly tight pants. I hear his breath hitch when I pass my fingers over his length and find my phone almost immediately. Flashing a grateful smile, I breathe a casual sigh of relief as I grab my phone back just as he's starting to grow harder and remove my hand from his pants. The small victory of taking him by surprise and leaving him worked up is enough to make me beam. "Thanks."

I don't even make it half a step before he snatches my wrist and pulls me back, breath heavy as he licks his lips, gaze darting to my mouth for a beat. "Are you seriously gonna leave me like this?"

"Oh, right. Sorry," I chuckle, bending down slightly to tuck him in his pants and zip him up, but not before giving him a swift, hard rub. I fasten the top button, smiling down at my work. "All done."

This time when he pulls me back after I try to leave, he wastes no time with words. His mouth is instantly pressed against mine, warm and firm and so fucking soft that I can't not melt into it. It's been less than a day since we last kissed, but the feel of his lips moving in sync with mine is so deliriously addictive, I don't understand how I lasted that long. I wonder briefly if that's normal. Healthy, even. And then Edward slips his tongue past my lips, his groan rattling my bones, and I really couldn't give a flying fuck.

He breaks the kiss and I gasp for air while his mouth moves to my ear, hands clutching my waist. "You shouldn't have started something you can't finish, Bella."

I grab a fistful of his hair, pulling his head back. I grin up at him, stupid and bold, and I can't even care when he's looking at me like that, eyes heavy-lidded and fiery bright. "Who said anything about not finishing?"


A/N: All in favor of them finishing, say aye.

So, we're looking at a few more chapters before I put this weirdo to bed. Just letting you know.

Thanks to everyone who reads, reviews, and reccs this messy tangle of dialogue and dry humping. You seriously make my day :) Till next week!