disclaimer: I do not own twilight

Prompt: Palpable


Every step I took thundered in my ears as I walked away from her. I ached, deep in my chest and it was very close to the physical pain inflicted by an angry opponent on the ice. I rubbed at it with my free hand and forced myself not to look behind me at the very sad, very beautiful, very far away girl.

She was like a cyclone the way she'd swept in and turned my life upside down. I'd fantasized about the counter girl for months, close to a year, and after holding her in my arms, in my bed, I was pretty sure I was dreaming.

Waking up from a dream like that wasn't a pleasant thought. One of the reasons I'd put off meeting her in the first place was moments just like that one. The leaving. There was no getting around it. I left. A lot.

I took my seat on the plane and laid my head back against the headrest and quickly put my ear buds in my ears. I had too much on my mind to deal with anything, or anyone. It was the best do not disturb sign I had, given the situation.

A little while later, I felt the rustle of someone taking the seat next to me and cracked an eye open to see who it was. I smiled and gave a small nod when I saw that it was Sam, one of my teammates, and a good friend. I was glad I didn't end up getting stuck with one of the rowdier guys. I had too much thinking to do, and I was worn out.

"Hey," he said, leaning over and pulling a bud from my ear. "I called you last night. We went over to Ruben's for a few beers. Where were you?"

I sighed and sat up. "I was busy. I didn't hear the phone. Sorry."

He chuckled. "Busy, eh?"

I scowled and shook my head. Holding his hands up, he laughed. "Don't worry, I won't bug you about who it was, but I wonder… was it the flight attendant?"

I groaned and shook my head. "What are you talking about?"

"The flight attendant, the one from the flight from New York. She was all over you, and I thought for sure you were going back for seconds on that one."

I washed my hand over my face, remembering the girl from the flight. A pretty girl, a really, really, flirty girl, but I hadn't had intentions with her then, and I definitely didn't have any desire to see her again after the night I'd had with Bella.

"I didn't even keep her number, man. No, it wasn't her."

I could feel him smiling and shook my head. "Are we going to give each other facials next?"

He nudged my shoulder and snickered. "So it was a chick. Nice. I thought I was going to have to help you out with this little dry spell of yours. At least we know it's not low testosterone—you're still hitting it on the ice."

I popped my ear buds back in and shut my eyes. The guys were as bad as a bunch of old ladies. I had no idea why he was so interested in my sex life, other than the fact that he'd been married for almost ten years and probably didn't have one. Whatever it was, I wasn't in the mood. Truth was, I was seriously sexually frustrated. My sweet, shy counter girl had turned out to be a little wild cat, and my nuts were aching.

I smiled to myself, remembering her little body against mine. She was a determined little thing, I had to hand her that. I just knew from day one that she wasn't the type of girl I wanted to sack and toss. I wanted to wrap her up in a bow and keep her on a shelf, like a prize. I felt like a fucking king the day I overheard her talking about me. I'd left that day with my stale coffee and shitty muffin with a huge smile on my face, and a new game plan. Of course, she caught me off guard when I heard her rehearsing her speech to me, so I figured it was now or never. If I bitched out, I would never forgive myself.

All the times I'd gone in there, I never got much of a reaction out of her. I figured she just wasn't interested, and I was way too proud to put myself in a situation where I'd get rejected. It wasn't something I was used to. Not that I was conceited or anything, but being a public figure, a professional athlete gave me an advantage. I knew women found me attractive, I wasn't naïve, but until I'd found that little morsel in that tiny coffee shop, it hadn't really mattered.

Suddenly, I wanted to be noticed. I wanted to catch her watching me. I wanted her to ask for my autograph, tell me I sucked, fall in love with me… I wanted every damn thing that girl had to offer.

But, she gave me nothing. She had me under the impression she hated me, or worse, was indifferent. She screwed up my order, and until yesterday, I thought that shit had been on purpose. Was it torturing myself going back time after time? Sure as fuck. I couldn't give up, and that's why I wanted to absorb every minute with her, remember every detail, and pick her apart until I knew how she worked from the inside out. I wasn't letting her go, not after waiting so damn long.

Before I knew it, we were landing. I'd been so tired that I'd slept through the whole flight. I hadn't gotten much sleep with Bella in my bed,—not that I was complaining because I wanted that to be a recurring ritual once I got home. But she was pretty damn distracting. I couldn't sleep knowing she was right there, soft and beautiful and more than fucking willing. She was testing my patience like no other, and I was ready to explode. I hardly knew what to do with myself, and she made it impossible to be good. There was something about her, though, something delicate and I knew that my determination to take things slow was the right thing to do.

The town car pulled up and Sam joined me to ride back to the hotel. All I wanted was a warm bed so I could sleep off the tension before the game. I was so blocked up with thoughts of Bella, I was bound to fuck everything off just so I could watch her on repeat in my head.

"What the hell are you thinking so hard about?" Sam asked. "You're zoned, dude."

I pulled my phone out of my pocket and turned in on, desperate to see if I had a message from Bella. I smiled when a picture of her pouting as she laid in bed between Emmett and Rosalie popped up.

"My crazy girl," I laughed before sliding over to look at the next picture she sent.

"Your girl, eh? Let's see that."

I grabbed my phone away from him, and slid it in my pocket. "What's your deal? You're bugging the shit out of me."

"She's gotta be hot if you're this worked up. Come on… I have to live vicariously through you. My life is boring."

I laughed. "That's your problem."

"Come on, Cullen. Spill it. Who is she?"

I sighed, knowing he wasn't going to shut the hell up until I told him. "Her name is Bella."

"Ahh, Bella. How long as this been going on?"

I shook my head, not knowing how to answer without sounding like a total freak. "We've only gone out a couple times, but I've been watching her for a while."

He raised an eyebrow. "Watching her? What are you, a stalker?"

I laughed. "No. She works at the coffee shop I go to."

"Oh shit," he said, slapping his thigh loudly. "The muffin girl? Are you telling me you finally got a piece of the muffin girl?"

I narrowed my eyes squinting. "What the… how do you know about the muffin girl?"

Muffin girl… I'd never called her the muffin girl.

He laughed. "Whenever you're drunk, you go on and on about the muffin girl… long brown hair, brown eyes, big tits… you tell us all about her. She's got a nice ass, always wears tight pants, and you love it when she wears her hair in a ponytail. I know way more about that girl, and what you want to do with her, than I need to. I'm glad you finally talked to her, though. I thought she was married or something. Couldn't figure out why you were avoiding her if you liked her so much. It's not like Cullen to pass up on a piece of ass."

I breathed deeply through my nose and looked out the window to collect my thoughts. "I really like her," I said softly, glancing back at him.

"Ahh, how sweet. So, why didn't you bring her with you? Gonna save up all that pent-up frustration for the ice?" He laughed, and I glared at him for a moment before staring out the window again.

The thought had passed my mind. It was on the tip of my tongue all day, but it was so fucking soon… too soon.

"It's cool, man. It's about time you settled down."

I almost choked. "I've been on two dates with her. I haven't picked out a ring, dumbass."

He just laughed and shook his head. "Yeah, but you're thinking about it. You have that look on your face—trust me, I've been there. It's the same way I felt before I settled down with Emily. It's the look of a man getting ready to hand in his card."

I looked away again. He wasn't wrong. I already cared about Bella a lot. Getting to know her was just pushing that arrow further into my heart. I was definitely infatuated. There was no doubt, but there was no way I was going to profess my love and scare the shit out of her. We weren't anywhere near ready for that.

"Well, I'm taking it slow… seeing where it goes. She's special. She's a great girl, and I want to see where this goes. She's just… different. Good, different, but different."

He hummed, and I hoped like hell he'd just shut the fuck up. I was doing a crap job of getting my head in the game, and he was not helping.

"Well, good for you."

Thankfully he was quiet the rest of the way to the hotel, and once we got out of the car, we parted ways and headed to our rooms. I was still tired, but knowing Bella would be heading to work early, I wanted to send her a message before I crashed. We'd be stuck with practice and team bullshit and I didn't want to make her worry. I promised her I'd call, and I intended on keeping my promise.

I pushed her number, and waited for her to pick up. After five rings, I was ready to hang up, but then I heard her sweet voice, rushed and out of breath on the other line.

"You called!"

"Hey, girl…" There was a huge lump in my throat. It was insane how much I missed her already. "I got your pictures."

She giggled. "I climbed in bed with them. Rosalie thought I was going to go home and slit my wrists after you left, so she made me go home with them. They're not as fun to sleep with as you."

I chuckled and felt an unfamiliar sting in my eyes. I was becoming such a pussy for the girl. If I got any deeper, I'd end up drowning in her.

"I don't know about that. Emmett seems rather… cuddly."

She laughed so loud, and the sound rang through my ears like music. "I miss you," I blurted out, clenching my eyes tightly, almost embarrassed at how desperate and needy I sounded.

"I miss you, too," she whispered. "You promise you'll call me every day?"

I nodded, and then answered. "I promise. And don't forget to watch my games. I'll send you a message. Be watching for it, okay?"

She sighed. "I wouldn't miss them. I'm trying to learn the rules. Emmett is helping, and he likes having me there to watch the games with."

I laughed. "I bet he does. You know, he's a lucky bastard."

"Why? Because he gets to teach a lame-o how to watch hockey?"

I took a deep breath. "No, he gets to watch hockey with the most beautiful girl in Seattle."

She gasped and I wondered if I'd gone too far. I'd wanted to tell her that since our first date, the way she sipped her beer was sexy, the way her eyes crinkled when she laughed was gorgeous, the way she laughed set me on fire. I was full of flowery words and bullshit poetry for the girl. She astounded me.

"Are there beautiful girls in Toronto?" she asked.

It caught me off guard and I sat, flapping my lips, speechless for a moment before I could respond.

"I'm sure there are some pretty girls here, Bella, but for me, there's only one girl. You. If you were here, you'd be the prettiest girl in Toronto, if you were in New York, you'd be the most beautiful one there, too. In my eyes, you're the prettiest girl I've ever seen."

The reaction I get to that soul-dripping confession is not the one I'm expecting, which I should've expected from her, knowing her lack of filter.

"Well, good. So make sure you ignore all those fuck buddies while you're there, okay? Only think of me when you think of that."

I groaned and reached down to palm the swell in my jeans, pressing down heavily to relieve the pressure. I was painfully hard, and it was pretty much a guarantee that I'd end up jerking off frequently after these phone calls with her.

"Are you there?" she asked, and I heard her giggle again and it went straight to my dick.

"You're trying to kill me, aren't you?"

"I'm not trying to kill you. I like you too much to kill you."

That made me smile. "I like you too much, too."

It felt good to get it out in the open. She liked me, I liked her, and I felt better than I'd felt in so long. Alive and ready for wherever this thing between us was taking us.

"I don't want to let you go, but I need to get some sleep before I have to report to the stadium. Take care, Bella."

"You too. Be careful, please."

I smiled. "I will. Bye."

She said her goodbye softly and then I heard the line go dead.

I fell back against the mattress and shoved my hand down my pants. I was throbbing and felt like I was fifteen years old again and just saw my first set of tits. She made me wild inside, and hornier than I'd ever been. Waiting was ideal, but I wasn't sure if that was going to be possible for very long.

I started undoing my pants with my free hand, unwilling to let go of my dick for a second, when my phone rang from beside me. I grabbed it, answering quickly and hoping like hell it was Bella so I could hear her voice while I came. Instead, my mother's voice rang through the receiver, and my erection went the way of the dinosaurs.

I pulled my hand out of my pants and sat up. "Hey ma, how are you?"

"I've been worried sick. You didn't call before you boarded, and you didn't call when you landed. I'd like to smack the crap out of you, young man."

I chuckled. "I forgot. I'm sorry, okay."

She huffed, and I knew she was pissed. I honestly felt bad. It was a ritual, and I messed up. She was probably worried sick. She hated when I flew.

"I was distracted, and I forgot. I'm here, safe and sound. Already at the hotel, okay?"

She huffed again, and I laughed. She was laying the guilt on thick. "Well, anything more important than your mother's peace of mind deserves an explanation. What were you doing that was so important?

"It was Bella."

My mom knew all about Bella. I'd told her about the pretty girl that caught my eye months ago, just to get her off my ass.

"You went to see her before you left? Ahh, my romantic love-sick boy. When are you going to finally talk to the girl? If she's half as pretty as you tell me, a boy with bigger balls is going to steal her away from you."

I groaned. "God, ma…"

"Psh. You know I'm right."

I pushed a deep breath from my lungs and laid back against the pillow, covering my eyes with my arm.

"Ma, I'm in big trouble."

thank you so much for reading and for your patience while I was dealing with crap. hope epov was what you wanted to see... There will be more of him as we go along.

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Thank you again for reading and reviewing, and thank you to all you sweeties that tweet and post my updates and stuff. i wish i could give you real hugs, but since i can't, accept my virtual ones. they're still good ones :)