Chapter 9: 23rd May

Edward

Last exam today, Foxy. Desperate to see you. MISS YOU! Stupid idea not to see you during Exam Fortnight!

God, the feeling was so bloody mutual. I was desperate to see her beautiful face, and especially her expression when she spotted the little swan tattoo I'd had inked onto my hip last week.

I texted her back.

Tonight, baby, you are mine. Missed you so fucking much. Good luck today. You will ace it, I'm sure.

She didn't reply, so I presumed she had entered the exam room. I put my own phone away and sat down at my desk to check my emails. There was one from Carlisle Cullen, Head of Neurosciences at Harvard. We had met several times over the years on the Neurosciences circuit and had become firm friends. I had the utmost respect for the man; he was the Big Daddy when it came to understanding the importance of neurotransmitters in brain disease, and I often emailed him for his advice when I hit research snags. He was in town for the International Symposium on Clinical Neurotransmitter Research and asked if I would meet, and his wife Esme for coffee while he was in town.

I called his mobile and arranged to meet him at a coffee shop outside Trinity College, where the symposium was being held.

"Edward!" cried Carlisle, getting up from the outdoor table he and Esme had procured.

"Carlisle!" We shook hands and patted each other on the shoulder in typical manly fashion, and then I turned my attention to Esme, Carlisle's lovely, petite, caramel-haired wife, another neuroscientist who worked at MIT. She was a few years older than me, and probably ten or so years younger than Carlisle; I'd never seen a couple look so happy together.

"Edward, it's so good to see you again, and looking so well." Esme embraced me warmly. We all sat down, and Carlisle waved at the waitress.

"Thank you. It's wonderful to see you both. It's been, what, nearly two years?"

"Yes," replied Carlisle. "I think it was at that conference in New York, at Columbia. You brought your pretty, blonde lady-friend, the lawyer to the gala dinner ..."

"Tanya?"

"Yes, that's right," remembered Esme. "How is she?"

"Great. She's almost ready to propose to her girlfriend."

"Oh, I'm sorry ... We assumed ..." Carlisle looked sheepish.

"Don't worry, everybody does, but we don't have that kind of relationship. She's practically my sister," I explained. My thoughts immediately drifted to Bella.

Besides, I prefer brunettes.

Esme raised an eyebrow, and for a moment, I wondered if I'd said that last thought out loud.

"But there is a special someone, isn't there? You have that look about you," observed Esme.

The waitress arrived, and we ordered tea and Chelsea buns before continuing our conversation.

"So, what do you mean by a 'look'?" I asked.

"It's my completely anecdotal observation that people in love have a certain spring in their step and a certain sparkle in their eyes. You, dear Edward, have that radiance."

"Is my beloved right, Edward?"

"Um, yes, although we're still in the early days and it's complicated ..." I wished I could tell them. I wished I could tell everybody. I wanted to sing from the rooftops that Bella was my beloved.

"Well, I'm happy for you, Edward, although I guess that it will have an impact on the question I wanted to ask next."

"Oh, what's that?"

"My deputy at Harvard is leaving to take up the Head of Department post at Stanford in September, and I was wondering whether you might consider filling the post."

"Me?" Wow. I was not expecting that.

"Absolutely. The Faculty Board has left the recruitment decision to me, and I want someone whose research methods are meticulous, and who I can rely on to make sound business decisions on behalf of the entire department without being swayed by pharmaceutical companies. I can't manage the department alone; I've just secured a massive government grant to look at the role of catecholamines, glutamate and GABA in neurological infections."

"Congratulations," I replied. His comment about pharmaceutical companies led me to a realisation. "By any chance, did you hear on the grapevine about Aro Volturi being lined up to take over from John as Head of Department?"

"I did," Carlisle confessed. He detested Aro almost as much as I did. "And I have absolutely no qualms about taking advantage and divesting Oxford of its best talent. But I'm guessing that you won't want to leave your girl."

"No, I don't. Volturi hasn't been appointed yet, and my lab partners and I are hoping to persuade the board against him. Plus, I've been here such a long time ..."

"Will you think about it, at least?" pleaded Esme. "Carlisle doesn't need to make a decision until the end of June, and the Board has pre-approved you, so you don't even have to interview. It would be lovely to have you in Boston."

"Absolutely. Talk about it with your girl and your lab partners."

"I'll think about it," I agreed.

Bella

I walked out of the exam room after my last exam with one thing on my mind. The Fox. I hadn't seen him in two weeks, and I had a surprise for him.

Before going to see Edward; however, I decided to pop into Trinity College, which was hosting the International Symposium on Clinical Neurotransmitter Research. It was a small but important conference on the Neurosciences circuit. After a little wander round, picking up leaflets and looking at some of the posters from labs around the world, I was about to leave when I felt a tap on my shoulder.

"Bella?"

"Carlisle!" Professor Cullen's was a 'first names basis' lab. In many ways, Harvard, although it carried as much academic weight as Oxford, was way more relaxed. "I had no idea you were coming to this!" I went in for a handshake, but he embraced me warmly.

"It's so good to see you! Esme, look who it is!" he exclaimed, gesturing to his adorable wife, another neuroscientist, who hugged me too.

"How are you dear? Keeping well? You look so smart in your sub fusc*, but thinner than I remember."

"Exams. My last one was an hour ago." I pointed to the red carnation in the buttonhole of my academic gown. "Red means final exam."

"Oh you poor thing. Were they terribly hard?"

"They themselves weren't that dreadful, but putting normal life on hold to get ready for them ... That was tough."

Esme squeezed my shoulder to impart motherly comfort. I relished it; motherly comfort wasn't something I experienced very often.

"I was actually going to email you this week, Bella. Do you have five minutes?" Carlisle asked.

"Of course."

"I've just received a sizable government grant to investigate the role of neurotransmitters in neurological infections. It means that I can take on two more PhD students, and I'd like one of them to be you. I showed the board your exam scores from last summer's internship and they were impressed."

My mouth dropped open.

Harvard?

Me?

But my thoughts turned to Edward. I could not be without him, even for Harvard.

"Wow. What an opportunity! I didn't study for those exams or anything. I thought I was taking them so you could get an idea of my ability."

"And your ability is astonishing. So you'll consider it?" he asked, excitedly. I hated to disappoint him.

The thing is, my boyfriend's here ..."

"And you're in love with him." Esme said. "You seem extremely happy, dear. Your face just lit up like the Fourth of July."

"Um, yes."

Carlisle looked disappointed.

"What a shame." He looked at Esme. "Looks as if I'm zero for two."

"'Zero for two?'"

"This is strictly between us, Bella ..."

"Of course," I agreed.

"I was hoping to persuade Edward Masen to join me at Harvard as my deputy, but he's not interested," Carlisle continued. "He's got too many commitments here, apparently. His research, his girlfriend ..."

Oh holy wow.

Did Edward turn down Harvard for me? "Anyway, let me know if things change for you, okay? I'll always find a place for you in my lab, Bella."

Unfortunately, Carlisle had to run off to give a lecture, so we didn't get to chat for very long. After saying goodbye to the Cullens and promising to stay in touch, I headed to the lab. I intended only to stay a few minutes. It was risky, but I was desperate to see Edward's face. "Come in!"

"Hello, Professor."

"Hi! Uh, what are you doing here?" I shut the heavy door behind me and flipped the lock.

I dropped my voice to a whisper.

"I had to see you. Just for a little while."

His face softened, and he beckoned me with one finger.

"Just for a little while," he echoed.

I sat down in his lap and rested my head against his chest. I listened to his heart beating whilst curling my arm around his neck and my fingers into the tendrils of hair at his nape. He tipped my face upwards and kissed me lightly. Once, twice, three times.

"We should stop ..." I mumbled as I rose up and kissed him again, this time finding his tongue with mine.

"Unngghh ..." He slid his hand up my thigh and cupped my ass before breaking our kiss and sucking at my neck.

I ran my hands up and down his hard chest before rubbing his nipples with my thumb through his thin shirt.

"I missed you."

"I missed you too. So fucking much."

He nudged me to sit on his desk and leaned over me before undoing the black tie at my neck and pulling my blouse open. He pushed down my bra cups and took one of my sensitive nipples into his mouth whilst cupping and squeezing my other breast. I moaned a little. I moved my knee slightly and rubbed it across his groin before leaning forward to undo his jeans top button.

He released my nipple with a pop and raised an eyebrow.

"I want your mouth, and I want your cock," I told him.

"All yours."

The Fox pushed up my black skirt.

"Fuck, you're wearing stockings," he mumbled.

"Technically, they're thigh-highs. No garter belt," I mumbled back. His eyes danced with excitement.

"Whatever, baby. They're staying on."

He tickled me over my slit mouth and pressed his over my clit. It felt so perfect, my back arched.

"Like that?"

"Mmm-hmm ..." He pulled off my black panties and tucked them into his desk drawer.

Suddenly, he gasped.

"Bella, what's this?" He ran his thumb over my left hipbone.

"I do believe it's a tattoo, Professor," I grinned.

"Of a fox."

"My fox. Surprise! I got it just before my first exam."

He laughed and let go of me. I sat up a little to look at him. He pushed his jeans down with his thumb to reveal his right hip. There, in virtually the same place as the tattoo on my hip, was a new, small tattoo of a black swan.

"My swan. Proof that you're the only girl I could ever love, Bella." He kissed my fox tattoo, then kissed me deeply.

"Same here Edward, I love you so much."

He brought my knees up, and after kissing my tattoo again, he dipped his beautiful copper head to my slick, pink pussy, exploring me with his fingers and tasting me with his mouth until he was soon flicking my clitoris and fucking me with his tongue alternately. I writhed against him, gripping the side of the desk with one hand and anchoring my other in his hair. I was pulling with vigour, but he didn't seem to mind. It didn't take long at all for me to come in short, hard gasps, trying to keep it quiet.

"So sexy, baby. Enjoy that?"

I didn't say anything but when he stood up, I pushed him back into his chair.

"Baby ...?"

"I told you I wanted your cock," I replied.

I unbuttoned his jeans and pulled it out. His beautiful cock, long, hard, and proud, was dripping little pearls. I crouched down and kissed his tip before sucking it lightly.

"Oh fuck ..." he cried softly. "More. Please."

I took him deeper, pumping him a little at the base with my hand as I sucked his member and moved it in and out of my mouth. His hands tangled into my hair, guiding me a little to get the angle right.

"You suck cock so well, but if you want me to fuck you, then when I tell you, let go. Otherwise, it'll be over too soon."

I moaned my assent, and proceeded to fondle his balls.

"Oh hell! Now, baby."

I released him. He stood, lifted me up and carried me over to the large bookshelf that took up one entire wall of his office. Inside I squealed with horny delight. I'd been dreaming about being fucked upright against the bookshelf for months. I had a thing about being fucked upright full stop, and the Fox knew it.

He kissed me softly, pulled out a condom from the watch pocket of his jeans, and, using his weight to brace me, pushed his jeans and boxers to his ankles. He slipped the condom on and then positioned me.

I wrapped my arms around his neck and my legs around his ass. My body knew his so well and welcomed his sheathed cock into my tight, wet canal.

"God, so good!"

"I'll say," he agreed as he thrust up into me. I bit down on his shoulder at the feeling of delicious fullness, as the head of his cock hit my sweet spot.

I didn't care that my back would be red-raw, or that Edward was going to have cramp in his thighs from holding me up. The only thing that mattered was our mutual ecstasy.

Quiet ecstasy, of course.

"Love you, love you, love you ..." he chanted, thrusting in and out faster and faster.

"Love you."

I felt the glorious tightening of my impending climax deep inside.

"Gonna come soon," he whispered.

"Me too ..."

He added a grind to his thrusts, and I was all done.

"Quietly baby," he reminded me.

I bit down on his shoulder again and cried out as I saw stars from my monumental orgasm. Edward cried and moaned softly into my neck as he came.

Gasping for breath, he let me down, sat back in this chair and pulled me into his lap.

"Each time, it just gets better," I said in wonder.

"I'll second that." He curled me against him and I closed my eyes, basking in his warmth. "Bella?"

"Yes, Foxy?"

"I ... I honestly can't live without you."

I opened my eyes.

"Edward?"

"Move in with me?" When I didn't answer, he continued. "Once you get your exam results, we can say that we're interested in one another, and then come the new term in September, we could announce that we've fallen in love ..."

"Yes," I replied.

As if I would say anything else.

"Of course I'll move in. I told you, I belong with you." He rubbed my lips softly.

"Thank you," he said before touching his lips to mine. "You don't know how happy you've made me. I'm man enough to admit that I daydream about our life together. You, me, our work, a little house in the countryside, surrounded by friends ..."

"Sounds perfect." It really does. "Is that why you turned down Carlisle Cullen's job offer? For the life idyllic with me?"

"Yes. How did you know about that?"

"I bumped into him at the symposium. I interned in his lab last summer, remember?"

"Of course. As thrilling as it would be to work with him, I've been in this lab for eighteen years, and have worked my butt off to establish myself. Plus, you've accepted a doctoral place here, and I have to be where you are."

"What if Slimy Volturi gets the job of Head?"

"We'll cross that bridge as and when. The main thing is, you're going to be working for Jasper, in labs shared by me and Emmett. By the time he starts, our relationship will be out in the open and I will make sure everyone knows he's a pervert if he so much as breathes in your direction."

"You know, Carlisle offered me a PhD in his lab."

"He did?"

"Yes, but it's a moot point. We're agreed, right? We're staying in Oxford."

"Right."

Post-sex clean up: Hair combed, window opened to let out sex smell, clothing fixed, perfume/cologne dabbed.

Double-checked.

Just as Edward was showing me out of his office, a slight smile and flush on his face, a nasal, Italian voice interrupted the peace and quiet.

"And just what do we have we here?" he inquired, his voice laced with suggestion.

Disgusting little man.

"Professor Volturi, what are you doing here?" countered Edward.

"I just thought I'd pop in seeing as I was in town for the symposium."

"These are closed labs. I'd appreciate it if you didn't turn up uninvited. You haven't yet been appointed."

"But I will. I just got a grant from Eclipse Pharmaceuticals for six million pounds. No faculty board, in their right mind would say no." He turned to me. "So, Isabella, do you often pay your professors in this department, 'special' visits during exam week?" He leered at me, and the innuendo in his voice made my stomach turn.

Gross!

"My exams are finished. I was just thanking Professor Masen for his supervision and to discuss the article the team is writing for publication."

"Yes, I heard that you were writing up a little something, Edward," Slimy said patronisingly.

"Well, if you'll excuse me. See you soon, Professor Masen."

I merely nodded at Professor Volturi, and then glanced back at The Fox before leaving.

I could tell we were thinking the same thing.

Shit, that was close.

-cc-

*Catecholamines and GABA: These are types of neurotransmitters.

*Sub fusc: Formal clothing worn for occasions, events and exams at the University of Oxford.

*Carnation: Oxford students wear carnations in their buttonhole during exams. White indicates their first exam, red indicates their last and pink is for the ones in between.

Hi everyone, and thanks for being patient with this update, and for your reviews. Things have been crazy here and I've got no idea what's been happening in the fandom. Anything exciting?

A couple of people asked how Bella could apply for a PhD without doing a Masters degree first. In Britain, you only do your subject of choice at college; there are no pre-requisites. This means you can go straight from your undergrad degree to a research degree without doing a Master's, although several students will choose to do one. Not our Bella though. She knows her career is in research. A British undergraduate will also qualify for direct entry into a Harvard doctoral programme for the same reason.

The next update should be in two weeks' time.

CC xxx