Contest entry for the Happily Ever After TwiFic Contest

Title: Love by Numbers

Pairing: Edward/Bella

Rating: M

Summary: Accountant Edward has been obsessing over his boss Bella since she first started working at the company, but he's convinced she isn't interested in him as anything other than a friend. Can a phone call change his mind?

Disclaimer: I unfortunately own nothing but an endless obsession with Stephenie Meyer's characters.

Her high-heels clack against the laminate flooring as she almost glides from the elevator, looking for all the world like the hot secretary from a movie (less reputable ones included). Her legs are ivory white; corded with enough muscle to tantalise and tease with every step. The pencil skirt that begins just under her knees moulds to her body like a second skin, her generous hips encased in pricey polyester. The tube of black leads to a white cotton shirt, her breasts showcased in ruffles and a deep v neckline. Her monochromatic look is broken only by the pillar-box red of her lipstick, a vermillion viper entrancing all men within a 20 feet radius. I swallow, coating my parched throat and watch as she walks in my direction, full lips turning up into a fuller smile.

"Good morning, Edward," she says, one manicured hand resting on my desk.

"Uh – m- morning, Bella," I bumble in reply, my foot bouncing rapidly.

She sees, of course, and her wide smile drops slightly at my display of anxiety. "Did you have a good weekend?" she asks, hand running across the edge of my desk.

"It was okay, sure. Thanks. Uh, yours?" I respond, distracted by the way her nails scratch across the varnished surface with just enough force to be audible. My mind snaps to one of my favourite fantasies starring Bella, me holding her up against a wall with her nails tearing down my back, and I have to gulp down the now lukewarm coffee next to me in an effort to regain some self-control.

"Good, a little boring really. I wanted to go to this comedy club I heard about but it's not really something any of my friends would be interested in, so…" she trails off, shrugging and looking at me.

"Oh, that's a shame. Maybe you'll find someone to go with by next week?" I offer, finding it hard to believe Bella Swan would ever have trouble finding a date.

Her face falls then, lines and cracks settling around the tight line of lips until they look like a clown impersonation. Her eyes rove over my face and I wince as I remember my messy hair and scruffy stubble. Her mouth turns up in a weak smile even as her shoulders slump, her chest jutting forward so profoundly that I have to look away. I hear a soft sigh and then a "Maybe. See you later, Edward."

By the time I turn back around, she is gone.

Bella Swan first started at Volturi Industries as a finance manager 7 months ago. She'd swept in like a tornado, shaking up the office and my heart all at once. She was beautiful, barely-concealed curves beneath corporate clothing and a face that crept into my thoughts late at night, alone in my bed. She'd bought with her a reputation as a wonder kid, turning the most disorganised of departments into streamlined operations. She insisted on meeting each member of the team individually, leading to our first encounter – her behind a mahogany desk, black blouse and purple-rimmed glasses wrapped up to look like temptation; me with black slacks working to conceal my semi and purple bruise-like circles under my eyes. She'd done a double take as I walked in and I blushed from my neck to my hairline, convinced she could see my current state of arousal. She asked questions about my job, managing to make mundane accounting sound like something worth conversing about. I stumbled over my words, my tongue feeling too big for my mouth as my eyes drifted to the peek of cleavage showing, almost choking when she reached for a file and I caught a glimpse of creamy breast straining against the buttons of her top. I looked away in an attempt not to seem like the pervert I'd turned into, reciting backwards in threes from 1000 until I could focus on something other than the milky white of her flesh.

"Do you enjoy working here, Edward?" she asked as I reached 937.

"Uh - yeah, as much as one can enjoy accounting," I replied without thought, wanting to kick myself as soon as it was out.

Bella raised an eyebrow and I tensed, stiff until five seconds later when the most devilish of smirks spread across her face. "Nice qualifier. I see here you do a lot of overtime, why is that?"

I palmed the back of my neck, embarrassed. "Well, a lot of the guys have girlfriends or wives they have to spend time with outside of work. Makes sense that I'd offer to pick up the extra work rather than sit at home alone…" I trailed off, my voice getting smaller toward the end of the sentence. I'd never been bothered by my position as the single guy within the accounting team, yet admitting out loud that I worked because I had no-one to go home to made my stomach twist. I frowned and looked back up at Bella, soft-eyed as she stared at me.

"That's nice of you, Edward. I just wanted to make sure you're coping okay with your workload," she clarified as my cheeks blazed bright red. I'd unnecessarily spilled about my pathetic personal life and the embarrassment clawed at my throat, my imagination working overtime thinking of the pity Bella no doubt had for me now.

"I'm coping fine, thank you." I stated in a sharp tone, watching as Bella's brow furrowed and her mouth opened before closing again, her head tilting to the side.

"I'm glad. Now, about the Hunter account..." she began and I took a deep breath, trying to tamp down the shame piercing my skin. Not only did she think I was some loner, she probably thought I was a rude asshole too. I barely listened for the rest of the meeting, monosyllabic and despondent when I had to respond. Eventually her questions fizzled out and she began to wrap up, staring hard at my face with narrowed eyes.

"Well, I hope to see you around the office," she said as she stood, and anger at how I'd behaved began to bubble inside of me. I grimaced as I thought of how rude she might think me, and rose from the chair. I reached my hand towards Bella's outstretched one, her skin feather-delicate and soft against mine. I attempted a sheepish smile of apology, but as she smiled back the air was knocked out of my chest. Her smile wasn't that of a self-conscious girl, small and closed-lipped; nor was it that of an overly-confident woman. Bella's smile was like nothing I'd seen before; it encompassed all her features and caused her to glow. Her eyes crinkled and shone, her cheeks lifting as her mouth rose upward so high it had to ache. Her smile prompted my own – not the polite pursing I usually used, but a smile that started somewhere in my sternum and spread uncontrollably wide across my face.

Since that first meeting she and I have formed a tentative friendship, Bella stopping by my cubicle most mornings before she steps into her glass-walled office. She'll catch me staring before I've even realised I'm doing it, shaking her head and smirking into her work. Each time I scold myself; it's not as if after our disastrous first meeting I'll ever catch her interest. I don't deserve it, either – the last date I went on was over a year ago and I think I bored her half to death. I'm not oblivious to the fact that I'm at least passably attractive, but one-night stands aren't my thing. I want a woman I can talk to and lavish with affection, not a quick fuck with someone who'll duck out the following morning. Besides, I haven't thought of any woman other than Bella since she started working here and I got my first look at her. It's as if my body is hard wired to desire only her – women I would've given anything for a chance with in the past now all pale in comparison. I can't even watch porn without imagining her instead of whatever actress is there. It's official.

Bella Swan is ruining my life.

I'm brought out of my obsessing by the ringing of my cell-phone. 10am on a Monday is always Emmett's time to call, has been for years. I don't know why or even how it started, but it's like clockwork every week.

"Hey, Em, how are you?" I answer, turning down the volume on my phone in preparation.

My brother doesn't disappoint, practically shouting his response. "Hey bro! I'm great man, just on my way back from the gym. You at work?"

I roll my eyes, exhaling hard. "I'm always at work on a Monday morning, along with most of the world's population," I say, recoiling from the phone as Emmett laughs so hard I'm concerned he might burst a blood vessel.

"You're a fuckin' ball, Ed. How's hottie boss?"

My eyes dart to Bella of their own volition, my skin flushing as I see her looking back at me. I swivel back around in my chair and hiss into the phone. "Emmett! I told you about that on the condition that you didn't bring it up! I've told you she isn't interested."

"She wants you, dude, I can feel it. Chicks always dig that weird brooding shit you have going on. If you ever talked about anything other than your boring-ass job, you'd be batting the pussy off."

I grimace at the unwanted mental image before taking a deep breath. Reasoning with Emmett at the best of times is near impossible, let alone with gym-douche endorphins coursing through his body.

"She's never made any kind of move or anything! She'd say something if she wanted to go out or something, right?" I ask, not entirely convinced.

"Nut up or shut up, Edwina. When was the last time you saw her saying good morning to anyone else? She wants you; she's just doing those weird chick signals."

I stretch back in my seat, using the opportunity to stare at Bella from the corner of my eye. She's still looking at me. I feel a rush of giddy excitement thinking Emmett might be right, before I remember its Emmett and he's possibly the worst person to go to about women.

"But what if I ask her and she says no?" I say quietly, and I can almost hear how Emmett sobers up on the other end of the phone. He's vulgar and crass but he's also the best brother I could ask for.

"Ask her out casually, like something not necessarily a date. No pressure or anything. Besides, you're adults. If she's as nice as you say then she won't be bothered. Go for it, bro. You got this."

I nod to myself, letting each bob of my head build up my courage. I can do this.

I walk up to Bella's office during lunch when most people have deserted the stuffy basement, knocking on the door with shaking hands and a trembling heart.

"Hey, you," she says after she's looked up, taking off her glasses and beckoning me inside with a flick of her wrist.

"Hey," I reply, clearing my throat after it comes out as a croak. "So I was thinking I could go with you to that comedy club this weekend…if you want?"

Her head snaps up so quickly I'm reminded of that exorcism movie and I have to contain my shudder.

"You and me? Together?" she questions. I try to figure out the expression on her face but it's undecipherable, so instead I prepare myself in case I'm about to make the worst possible mistake. I cross my fingers, my toes; I'd probably even cross my dick if it were possible. I dip my chin in a half nod and watch as her face scrunches up. Shit.

"We can't," she replies. My gut clenches before rising into my throat and I try to school my expression so I don't look as wounded as I feel.

"Of course, it was just an idea," I say quietly, shaking my head. My legs feel weak so I rest one hand on the desk in front of me, willing it to hold me up against the disappointment crashing its way through my body.

My breath falters and then comes in quiet pants when Bella's small hand enters my line of vision. She brings it across to rest on mine and I wonder how a person can have skin so soft. I look up to see a coy smile on her face, mouth twisted to the side as if she's trying to contain it.

"I meant we can't go this weekend, it's not on then. It's on this Wednesday, though?" she offers and I can barely stop myself from squealing because I'm so happy. I'm smart enough to know not many women are attracted to a man who can reach a pitch only heard by dogs, though, so instead I settle for turning my hand and squeezing hers.

"Wednesday is great."

The next two days are full of secret smiles and shy glances and I stand outside the bar on Wednesday evening feeling overwhelmed with the desire to impress Bella. I rushed home from work to change, nearly ripping the doors from the wardrobe in my haste to pick something suitable. I tried on what felt like hundreds of shirts before stooping lower than I thought I ever would. I called my Mom for fashion advice.

After she'd greeted me like I was the new messiah, I fumbled and flailed over my words before eventually deciding honesty was best. "Look, Mom, I have a date tonight. I'm wondering what you think I should wear, 'cause I haven't got a hope in hell of deciding."

She let out a giggle that was more suited to a schoolgirl than a middle-aged woman and demanded details of whether I was going to be inside or outside, whether I had somewhere I could store a coat and if I wanted to look 'preppy' or 'dashing'.

"What do those words even mean when it comes to clothes? I called you because I wanted a simple answer!" I panicked, feeling my blood pressure rise. I only had an hour until I had to meet Bella and I still needed to shower, get dressed, eat and find the place.

"Calm down, Edward, you're going to scare the poor girl if you're this antsy. Wear that blue button-up I got you for Christmas with some dark jeans and a sweater over it. Oh, and don't forget a belt!"

I spent the next 10 minutes trying to dodge questions about who I was seeing and only managed to get my mother off the phone because I told her I was going to be late. I ended up having to forgo eating anything in order to be on time but judging by the whirling and churning of my belly, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

I turned to the right just as Bella stepped from her car, causing my mouth to gape. If I thought work Bella was sexy, it had nothing on casual Bella. She was dressed in jeans and heels, my eyes glued to her ass as she bent to grab her coat from the car. I inhaled sharply when she turned around, her breasts wrapped in a green top with a deep V-neck in a shiny material. The best part of all, though, were the two pink spots high up on her cheekbones that told me maybe I wasn't the only one thinking of this as a date.

We greeted each other awkwardly and I took the initiative, stepping forward to wrap my arms around Bella's body in a friendly hug. She was soft everywhere I'd want her to be, warm flesh despite the cold breeze. I placed an arm around her waist as I led her inside, my hand clenching as I saw the appreciative stares she got from other men. My throat felt tight realising I had no real claim to her and I reluctantly excused myself to get some drinks, hoping to regain some of the confidence I'd had when I offered to accompany her.

One look at how Bella lit up when she caught me watching her was enough.

We made obligatory but relaxed small-talk as we waited for the first act to come on, my cheeks aching with all the laughing we were doing. Things with Bella weren't stunted like I feared, though there was a tension present throughout our conversation. It faded slightly throughout the evening, especially when I rested a hand on Bella's thigh so I could lean forward to get my drink. Once I had it in hand I went to move my other arm back to my side, but the weight of Bella's hand on mine stopped me. I looked toward her but she was resolutely facing the stage, the light stroking of her thumb across my knuckles the only outward sign of what had just happened. I ducked my head and hid my smile behind the neck of my beer bottle. We continued to hold hands and chat throughout the acts, and even after they were done. Bella's free hand had moved to my knee at some point and I decided to ramp things up slightly.

"I didn't get a chance to eat earlier, did you want to grab some dinner now?" I asked, watching her wide-eyed nod and pulling her up by her hand.

We walked down the uneven sidewalk and I cradled her body under my arm, so happy she was allowing me to touch her how I'd wanted to since I'd first seen her. And as I watched her face, bathed in the amber glow of streetlamps, I resolved to lay everything on the line tonight. She was worth it.

"I was really surprised you offered to come with me to this. I mean, I hinted pretty heavily at your desk that morning bu-"

"Wait, hinted?" I ask, puzzled.

Bella's eyes widen. "I said I didn't have anyone to go with? I uh, well I hoped you'd offer to go… and then you did. I thought you'd just taken the hint," she says, her face mirroring the confused expression on my own.

"I didn't… I thought – that was a hint?" I question again. There's a telltale flush overtaking my face that lets me know I should have figured this out a while ago.

"Yeah, it was as much of a hint as all the others I've been dropping for months. Why did you think I kept mentioning bands you liked being in town or films you might be interested in?"

I just stare at Bella, my skin covered in a prickly coat of embarrassment. I've been beyond clueless.

"So you've wanted to go out with me this whole time?" I say, dumbfounded. How the hell have I missed this?

"Pretty much since the first time I saw you," she giggles, and her laugh triggers my own as I drop my face into my hands.

"So all that time wasted, we co-"

"No, Edward," she interrupts, her tone edged with something sharp. "Don't think like that. Just be thankful you finally got a clue and we have this chance now."

And as I lean forward and kiss her square on the mouth, I am most definitely thankful.

I wince as the bottom of my skull collides with the wood of my apartment door, my groan sounding raspy and low.

"Shit, are you okay? I'm so sorry," Bella says, panting. I nod but my focus is solely on her kiss-swollen lips, as red as they've ever been. I groan again, but this one isn't from pain.

"I've wanted you for so long." I tell her truthfully, no room for hard to get in this game we're playing. I move my kisses from her neck up to her cheek, her quick breaths striking hot on my jaw. Finally I slide my mouth back over to hers, softly sucking on her bottom lip. It's a dirty promise; a preview of what's to come. Her moan as I push my tongue inside her mouth only heightens my desire to pleasure her, to show her what I've been dreaming of for months on end. Her nipples are pressing into my chest and I straighten my shoulders, giving her just enough friction to tease. It's as though Bella's willingness to follow my lead triggers something inside of me I didn't even know existed; the breathy whimper she lets out when I direct her to take off her clothes mainlining down to my cock until I'm harder than I've ever been.

My hands splay against the door as I search for some kind of support, Bella's strip damn near causing me to buckle. She knows it, too, her smirk the only thing adorning her as she peels her panties off and pushes them to the floor. There's something about me being fully-clothed while she stands naked and at my mercy that causes tingles in my limbs and a feral need in my chest. I walk in a circle around her, taking stock of her body from every possible angle. She's just as curvy as I thought she was; breasts round and heavy with hips that would give me perfect leverage. Her waist is trim and her ass is tight, her whole body covered in pale skin that's currently flushing raspberry-peach in unmentionable places. I crouch, paying attention to parts of her no-one else likely has before; caressing the dip in her ankle and running my finger into the crease where her thigh meets her behind. She's beautiful and the way she's displaying herself is even more so, not trying to cover or hide but instead letting me see.

"This is the body you've been hiding under that sexy wardrobe of yours? Now I definitely wish I told you how I felt sooner," I tell her, sucking a finger into my mouth and letting the tip run gently across her nipple. I smile as she shudders, taking her hand and leading her into my bedroom. I gently run a hand across the flat of her collarbones and put pressure behind it until she lies on the bed, spread out before me like a dream. I swallow, overwhelmed at the thought of actually having her here beneath me. It's suddenly too much, the culmination of all I've wanted for months and my eyes feel wet with tears. I'm mortified – what kind of man cries during sex? Again Bella surprises me, her hand burning a brand into my cheek as she leans to kiss me, her tongue tracing my lips and sliding so softly against my own that I know this won't end tonight; this is just the beginning. I lick a light trail from her vanilla-scented pulse point down to the salty slick of her cleavage.

She's forceful, trying to push my head toward the peak of her breast, but at my raised eyebrow she stops. "I plan on showing you how much I care for you; how I've worshipped you time and time again in my head. Let me."

She doesn't bother to answer, both of us knowing it was a command and not a question. I continue to lay open-mouthed kisses on her décolletage, the curved underside of her breast and finally work my way up to her nipple. I know she'll be sensitive so I don't bother with any flicking of my tongue, instead encasing it fully within my warm mouth and suckling, swirling my tongue gently. She bucks her hips into mine, grinding into my hardness. She's letting out a steady stream of moans that only increases as I let my fingers explore her, finding wetness and my ultimate goal. The best part of sex with a new partner is always getting to know what they like; with Bella it's ten-fold. She makes high-pitched keening noises that I can't help but elicit more of, fondling and rubbing until her body stiffens and releases.

Her lazy smile begs to be kissed and I do just that, wrapping my arms close around her shoulders and pulling her into my body. It's not long before she tugs off my shirt, telling me without words that she's ready for what comes next. I'm not nervous any more – the affection in Bella's eyes rendering that unnecessary long ago. Instead I feel nothing but happy as I stand bare in front of her in more ways than one; my lack of barriers reaching much further than just my state of undress. We're silent as the condom is taken care of, only heavy breaths punctuating the air as I position my body over hers. The weight of her legs around my waist as she lifts them is as comforting as it is arousing.

"You ready, baby?" I ask. Physically there's no question that she is, but I know she'll understand my real meaning – is she ready for everything to change after this?

Her soft smile gives me my answer but I wait for the words, my heart pounding when I hear the "Always, Edward" that she answers with. I can't lie and say that there was a moment where the world shifted as I enter her, but being inside Bella is definitely better than anything I've felt before. The warmth of her physically matches the warmth emotionally and I feel wrapped in her care as I begin to move, her hips rising in time with mine after a while.

"You're so fucking beautiful, Bella," I tell her and she is, her face flushed and eyes staring straight into mine. I grip onto her hand and move harder and faster, desperate to make her body feel a tenth of how my heart does right now. I coax and I stroke until she's there and if I thought she was gorgeous before, she's simply stunning now. Her release triggers my own, a gravelly and strangled form of her name passing through my lips. I collapse on top of her, caging her body with my own. My pulse is hammering against my neck and so is hers as I lay a kiss there, dotting a delicate trail to her mouth. I rest my hand over her heart, laying a soft kiss to each eyelid, as she gently scratches my back with the very same nails I once fantasized about.

"Stay," I whisper, her resulting smile and nod making me feel even higher than I did moments before.

I wake up to stripes of muted pale yellow sunshine across my ceiling, the blinds keeping the worst of the bright morning out. I roll over; my hand searching for Bella but all I feel is the cold cotton of my bed sheet. My stomach drops to somewhere outside the bottom apartment 13 stories below while last night's food threatens to work its way back up my throat. I wrench my body from bed and find no clothes anywhere in my bedroom, nothing at all to indicate anyone but me was ever here. There's the sinking weight of a cement block sitting on my chest and I rub it over and over, trying to ease the ache that's taken hold there. I decide everything will look better after coffee and make my way to the kitchen, blinking hard and telling myself it's just lack of sleep causing my eyes to blur and not Bella's seeming abandoning act. I purse my lips against the quiver that threatens, my naked body breaking out in goose bumps that are nothing to do with the chill of the morning.

Then there's the moment. The moment when my foot crosses the threshold into the kitchen; where I see wavy hair and my tattered college sweatshirt, pearly white legs glowing in sunlight, and it only gets better as she turns from my open fridge, mouth curving upwards in that smile I know now that I fell in love with the first day I met her.

"You realise," she says, glancing back towards my empty fridge and walking towards me, open arms matched by her wide smile, "Now that I'm going to be staying here a lot more, you're going to have to keep this kitchen stocked."

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Voting opens March 16, 2013 to March 30, 2013.

** Update (Mar 15, 2013) - The submissions deadline has been extended and voting now opens March 30, 2013 to April 13, 2013 **