AN: Thanks to all of you who voted for SG in TehLemonadeStand fic of the week. We think we came sixth, which is amazing!
Loads of love to jcat5507 and Eternally Edward's Girl for their beta'ing and prereading. Sweat-soaked lycra shorts to all of you for reading and reviewing.
Erron - it's still your birthday and will be until we post the final chapter. So put your feet up, grab some wine and tell the kids it's mummy time xx
~~ SHIFTING GEARS ~~
Final day - Versailles Paris Champs-Élysées 118k
Tour De France folklore dictates that whoever goes into the final stage as the leader is sure to win the race. Nobody had managed a breakaway win since Alex Vinokourov's shock victory in 2005, and I was determined to make sure an upset didn't happen this year. I woke on the morning of the race with this fact lying heavy on my chest, my mind a sandstorm of thoughts.
I wanted to make sure I kept my lead, stopping Riley Swan from forcing a breakaway.
I needed to stop myself punching the shit out of Marco Volturi.
I had to get my head in the game.
It was late afternoon when we lined up to start the race. The plan was to arrive in Paris at dusk, a departure from the normal early-afternoon finish. I was a jittery bag of nerves, unable to keep still as my eyes kept wandering to the Volturi huddle, watching Riley Swan grinning as he spoke with the rest of his team
Miguel kept trying to make me laugh, telling jokes that were clearly funny in his native Spanish but made no sense in English. Eventually, I tuned him out, putting all my concentration on the road ahead. There was only 118km until I made it to Paris. Just 73 miles, and I'd be shifting gears down the Champs Elysees, cycling past the Arc De Triomphe, making my way to the winner's podium.
Only 73 miles until I saw Bella Swan.
The clock counted down to nothing. I adjusted my position, pushing myself back on the saddle to lengthen my thighs, my back long and low as I leaned forward. Even before the cyclists in front of me started to move, every muscle cell in my body was on fire, soaked with adrenaline, ready to overload.
The streets of Versailles were packed with spectators, standing five deep behind cordons. They waved flags and called out to us as we began to wind our way along the road, the party-like atmosphere lightning our mood. Miguel lead Team Eclipse out, keeping us close to the leading pack, never letting anybody start a breakaway.
We were a well-oiled machine, our discipline honed in the winter hills of Spain, our formation agreed before we'd even begun the tour. I was surrounded by green jerseys, all ensuring we stayed ahead, our legs cycling to the same silent rhythm.
From Versailles, we rode through suburban streets, so different to the beautiful countryside from a few days before. The roads were better paved, allowing for a smoother ride, but the noise from the dense crowds was distracting. More than a few times I found my gaze wandering across them when I should have been staring straight ahead.
"Volturi are going to break," Miguel called, and sure enough, I could see their red-and-black jerseys snake out as they tried to lead Riley ahead of the pack. We stayed on their tails, enough to make them try to pedal faster, but no matter how hard they tried, they couldn't shake us off.
We were on fire today.
Jake Black passed me another bottle of water. I took it gratefully, tipping my head back to allow the cool liquid to pour down my throat before I passed it back to him. Straightening my body, I grabbed both handles of my bike as I dipped back down to ensure the optimum position.
As we cycled into Paris, I could feel my heart hammering against my ribcage. We sped along the banks of the Seine, the tall iron skeleton of the Eiffel Tower welcoming us into the city. For the first time, I allowed myself to hope; maybe this year I'd actually come home with the title.
Maybe this year I'd come home with the girl.
The route took us across the river as we raced toward the Champs Elysees. We were due to circle the route eight times before we finally crossed the finish line. The first time I saw the huge white-stone edifice of the Arc De Triomphe looming ahead of us, I felt a shiver run down my spine, the beauty and majesty of the monument only adding to the historic feel of the day.
I knew I was only minutes away from the final line.
Minutes away from winning the tour.
Minutes away from Bella.
It was the last thought that kept me going even when my groin muscle started to scream in agony. With each revolution of the pedals, I could feel the tear growing, my face wincing as I tried to maintain my speed.
Miguel could sense my hesitation, leading us forward until he found enough gap to shoot ahead, determined not to let Riley steal victory from our team. It didn't matter who finished first in this stage, we were all too close together for Swan to steal enough time back, but Miguel took the lead, his head down low as he pulled the pack into the final circle of the streets.
Our wheels bounced across the cobblestones surrounding the street, my muscles aching at the juddering movement. I kept pace with Miguel, only a few bikes behind him, and concentrated on the final few meters ahead.
It was like I was in a tunnel. I tuned out the shouts of the crowd, ignored the waving flags and the people running after us in the street. It was man and bike in perfect harmony, moving as one until I couldn't tell where metal ended and flesh began.
My body was electric as Miguel slowed, the rest of the pack parting to let me lead them through the line. The result was a foregone conclusion, and as was usual in the final moments, they let me through to be the first to cross the finish.
Riding through the line, I released the handlebars, lifting my arms up in victory as I slowed my legs, tensing my abdominal muscles to keep the bike upright. I scanned the crowd to find our team supporters, my eyes trying to find beautiful mahogany hair and hazel eyes.
A huge grin split my face as I spotted her at the front of the barrier, jumping up and down, her face bright with anticipation. She was wearing a pale blue sun-dress, the straps barely covering the soft skin of her shoulders, and I remembered how good she tasted when I pulled at her body with my lips.
I'd won, and there was nothing I wanted to do more than share it with her.
I abandoned my bike in the middle of the street, fighting through the spectators trying to hug me, shouting congratulations in my ears. My eyes didn't waver from her petite form as I stalked toward her, my body hot as I took in her beauty.
Christ, I wanted that girl.
When I got to the barrier, she was standing as still as a statue, her hand covering her heart as a smile danced on her lips. I reached out my arm, leaning across the barrier toward her, our fingers brushing in a spark of electricity as I pulled her forward.
"Come here." My voice was rough. I was still panting from exertion, the sweat dripping from my skin.
She let me pull her close, until we were both pressed against the barrier, and she reached her arms up until they were wrapped around my neck.
"Oh my God, you won!" Her face lit up. I leaned forward to brush my lips against hers, and we ignored the whistles and catcalls as we concentrated on each other.
"We did." I smiled against her skin. "We won the fucking Tour De France." I kissed her harder, my tongue pushing inside her mouth, dancing against hers until we were both breathless. I didn't want this moment to end. I wanted to hold her forever, to pull her away from the crowds until I could show her exactly how I wanted to celebrate.
All too soon, I was dragged away, the team hoisting me onto their shoulders as they made their way to the podium. I managed to shout out that I'd meet her back at the bus, and she waved manically, the smile never leaving her face.
Christ, I really wanted that girl.
She was still in the forefront of my mind when I stepped onto the podium, the loud roar of the spectators sounding like blood rushing through my ears. I was handed the yellow jersey, my arms pushing inside as they zipped it behind me, and then I lifted my hands in a victory salute, trying not to show too much emotion as the crowd began to scream.
When the Star Spangled Banner began to play, I could feel the tears pricking at my eyes, the memories of the Olympics obliterated by the pride that was coursing through my veins. I was so proud to be American, to be standing here where I'd always dreamed of being.
It was so much sweeter to know I could share this with her.
When the anthem was over, the interviews began. A pundit from ESPN walked over, microphone in hand, and he thrust it toward me as the cameras started to roll.
"So, Edward, how does it feel to wear the yellow jersey?"
I swallowed, realizing just how dry my throat felt. "It feels amazing. Like everything I've worked for my whole life has suddenly come together." I laughed hoarsely. "I'm finding it hard to express myself."
"How sweet is the victory knowing you just beat Riley Swan?" He grinned. We were both remembering the way Riley had badmouthed me after the Olympics. I had the opportunity to do the same, but it didn't seem so funny knowing he was Bella's brother.
"It's pretty sweet," I agreed. "Especially since Riley's a formidable opponent. A hard-won victory is always the best feeling."
The crowd cheered again, and Riley tipped an imaginary cap at me. I looked at him, wondering if he'd be quite so accommodating if he knew exactly what I wanted to do to his sister.
"And what's next for Edward Cullen? Are the retirement rumors true?"
For the first time, I was going to reveal the truth. "Absolutely. I'm planning to retire at the end of the season."
The spectators gasped as one, and the dramatic effect almost made me laugh. From the corner of my eye I could see Bella's shocked expression. I wanted to run over and reassure her that it was all going to be okay..
"What do you plan to do with all that spare time?"
"I'm gonna spend some time with my girl." I winked at her, watching as a slow smile spread across her face. "I'm going to take her to California and buy her a bike. I can't think of anything I'd rather do."
. . .
When the ceremony was over, we hopped onto the team bus and travelled back to the hotel. Ever the professional, Bella quizzed me about my groin injury and any other areas that hurt. Watching her jot my answers down on her small leather-bound pad, I restrained myself from telling her which muscle really needed some attention.
I think she got the message anyway.
In the physio room, she moved her hands over my flesh one last time, her fingers lingering as she massaged my inner thighs. I lay back and felt her strong hands work through the knots in my muscles, not bothering to restrain my reaction this time, knowing that she was into this just as much as I was.
Her lips curled up as she watched me staring through heavy-lidded eyes, my mouth dry as she softly brushed her hand over the only muscle that wasn't aching.
"Right there." I pushed against her, and she placed more pressure on my groin. I was somewhere in between pleasure and pain, gripping the massage table so tightly I tore through the upholstery. It wasn't the only thing I wanted to tear through, and I hoped she was giving me a little taste of what was to come.
"Keep still." Her voice was soft, but demanding, and she pressed down on my chest in an effort to stop me from moving. It wasn't working.
"Jesus." My eyes almost rolled back in my head as she pushed her hand inside my shorts, curling her fingers around my steel-hard dick, slowly pumping her hand up and down the length.
"This is so unprofessional," she murmured, her eyes never leaving mine as she continued to stroke. "I could be struck off for this."
"I won't tell, if you don't." I was gasping now, my hips bucking off the table as she continued in a hot, steady rhythm. "You're just trying to give me a happy ending."
"Shut up, Cullen." Bella tried not to laugh, bending down until her face was in line with mine. "I charge extra for dirty talk."
She brushed her lips against mine, her teeth gently tugging at my bottom lip as she started to move her hand faster, running her thumb from the base of my cock right to the head, lingering over it, and spreading the pre-cum around until I was a panting mess.
I felt like a teenager, getting over-excited by a hand job, about to come less than three minutes after she first touched me. I moaned into her mouth, moving my hands down to her chest, cupping her breasts as I brushed my thumbs against her hard peaks.
"You definitely pay extra if you touch me." I could feel her smile against my lips before pushing her tongue against mine as they softly scraped against each other.
The pleasure was like a ball of fire in the pit of my stomach. It curled and lashed and grew in pressure until I was about to explode. My breath was coming in short, harsh pants. My mouth was glued to hers, my hands full of the softest breasts, thumbs gliding over peaked nipples.
"Bella," I warned, trying to remember the etiquette for this sort of situation. Should I ask to come in her hands? Should I just do it? The last time a girl had this sort of effect on me, the Backstreet Boys were still number one.
"It's okay," she reassured me, moving her lips to the corner of my mouth, before kissing her way down my neck. She scraped her teeth against my skin, sucking it into her mouth, sending shivers down my spine.
"Fuck…" I bucked against her, feeling myself spurting long ribbons of come over her hand, coating my stomach and the massage table. I could feel the pleasure pulsing through my body from my groin to my feet, my toes curling as I rode it out.
Moments later I glanced up to see her watching me, a big grin spreading across her sweet little lips. I grabbed the back of her head and pulled her toward me until her body was lying across mine, my lips crushing hers as I tried to show her exactly how I was feeling.
I was euphoric, delighted, perhaps even amazed. This was better than winning, better than hearing the national anthem as the crowd roared.
"As soon as I can walk, you know I'm going to make you scream," I whispered in her ear, and she laughed throatily. I moved my lips down her neck.
"I'll bear that in mind," she replied, reaching out for a towel then wiping my stomach to clear up the mess I'd made.
"You do that, baby." I grabbed her ass, squeezing it tightly in a promise of more to come. "Tonight I'm going to show you exactly how I like to celebrate."