Title: Falling Into Place
Beta: TheQueenWriter Prereader:Euphoria9
Summary: After witnessing her best friend and boyfriend together, Bella is thrust into a whirlwind adventure on a cattle ranch. Is she crazy for falling for Edward, the owner of said ranch, after just a week, or is it possible that he feels the same way?
Disclaimer: Characters used are owned by Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement intended.
Falling Into Place
I ran out of the apartment building, ignoring the pleasant greeting the porter offered me as he held the door open.
They all said it would happen. Even she said it would happen.
Wiping at my tears, I attempted to compose myself as I stood on the busy sidewalk. I caught a few strange looks shot at me from the people who passed by on the street.
It had been just a few weeks ago; we had been sitting in our apartment, sharing a pitcher of margaritas.
I am telling you, Bella... that man gets around. I can't tell you how many women I've seen him with. You'd be better off cutting him loose before you get your feelings hurt.
I shook my head, hoping that the visual that was lodged there would go away. A man bumped into me just as I was stepping towards the curb to hail a cab.
My purse fell, spilling the contents all over the sidewalk. Another person kicked it half a foot away. My brand new Chanel handbag, scuffed across the sidewalk.
"Fucking great." I spat. "Thanks, asshole!" I hollered after him.
I bent down to collect my things and my eyes landed on the photo holder attached to my key chain; the three of us, just two weeks ago at a birthday party. I choked down a deep sob, but the tears wouldn't hold off.
I threw everything into my bag and scanned the sidewalk through blurry eyes. Hoping that I had everything, I stood up and attempted to hail a cab once again. Thunder rolled overhead and the heavens opened up in a cascading downpour.
"Ahhhhhhh!" I screamed in frustration. I looked down at my drenched Calvin Klein wrap dress. It would probably never be the same again.
"Excuse me, Miss, would you like a ride?"
I glanced up at the sound of the honey-laden voice. I had no idea who this man was, but I saw something in his eyes, genuine concern. I looked back and forth on the street and all the taxis were in service. I was getting more soaked by the minute. I was cold, angry and hurt.
"At least get in out of the rain while you decide." He leaned across to speak through the open window. A lop-sided grin curled his full lips as he reached over and opened the door to his mud splattered pickup truck.
"T-thank y-you." I sputtered, my teeth chattering in my mouth. I got in and he turned the heat up on high and handed me a blanket that had been draped over the seat.
"Where you headed, little lady?" he asked. I took a closer look at this man. Cowboy hat and boots, faded worn jeans and a plaid flannel shirt was his attire.
"Are you an actor?" I asked, saying the first thing that came to me.
"Excuse me?" he replied, looking rather confused.
"An actor. The cowboy getup." I waved a finger from his boots to his dark brown hat.
"No." he laughed. "I'm not an actor."
I looked out the front window, watching the rain hit the black hood of his truck.
"I don't know where I'm going." I wasn't sure if my answer was in response to his question, or if it was a general statement.
"What's your name, Miss?" he asked.
"Bella." I answered cautiously.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Bella. My name is Edward. I'm staying at a motel on the edge of the city. Will it be alright if we go there?" I looked at him sideways, immediately thinking that this was a bad idea.
"No funny business." He held his hands up. "You don't know where you're going and I don't feel like driving around in this blasted city. We can order some supper and you can get dry while you figure out where you're headed."
It only took a couple of moments for me to see that he was sincere.
"Alright, then. But just so you know, I have mace." I buckled my seat belt and pulled the blanket tighter around me, hoping that the mace hadn't fallen out of my purse and I had missed picking it up.
The man chuckled as he pulled into traffic. Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at a Motel 6. Parking in front of room 17, he turned the engine off.
"Wait right here." he instructed.
I watched him move around the front of the truck to my side. He opened the door and held his hand out to me.
The warmth that radiated from him unnerved me, but I held onto his hand until my feet were firmly planted on the ground.
I followed behind him as he unlocked the door to his room; fighting the urge to search through my purse for the mace I had threatened him with.
I stepped just inside the doorway, examining the room for anything suspicious. It seemed normal enough. It was tidy and clean; all of his clothes were neatly folded in an open suitcase on the second bed.
"Come on in." he smiled, brushing past me to close the door. "Have a seat," he told me as he walked to his suitcase. "These will be a little big for you, but they're clean and dry." He handed me a sweatshirt and a pair of boxers.
"I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but do you have anything else?" I asked, holding up the pair of boxers.
"I don't. This was my last pair of clean jeans." He brushed his hand over his right thigh.
"Would you mind terribly if I took a shower?" I asked.
"I think that's a good idea. The hot water will warm you up right fast." he smiled. "I'll call in an order while you're in there. Any requests?"
"No, I really don't have an appetite right now."
"Are you allergic or have a great dislike of anything?" he asked with a smirk.
"No." I shook my head. His friendliness was a bit unnerving.
"That should make it easy, then. Go on and take that shower, Bella." He pointed towards the back of the room where the bathroom was located.
I found some clean towels and locked myself inside the small, completely white bathroom.
There were samples of shampoo and soap unopened on the counter, so I grabbed them before turning on the hot water.
Twenty minutes later, I emerged from the bathroom, feeling a lot warmer. My mood hadn't improved much, however.
I sat on the now empty second bed, crossing my legs under me. Edward was propped up on the other bed, flipping through channels on the TV.
"I want to thank you for everything you've done for me."
Edward shut off the TV and turned towards me.
"You're welcome. You looked like you needed a friend."
"I don't ever do this sort of thing, so you know." I mumbled. "Everything is just a mess right now and I'm... overwhelmed. I can't think straight."
"Would you like to talk about it?" he offered.
"You don't even know me."
"Sometimes it's better to unload to a stranger than it is to someone you're close to. I won't push, but the offer is on the table."
I pulled the blanket up from the bottom of the bed to cover my legs while I sat mulling over his offer. A few minutes passed and there was a knock on the door. Edward hopped off the bed and grabbed his wallet from the table.
He spoke to the delivery person, handing them some bills before closing the door. He turned holding two large bags of food.
"I hope you didn't order all of that on account of me." Without even looking at the contents, I knew it was too much food for two people to consume.
Edward laughed sheepishly. "There aren't any Chinese places where I live. It's usually all that I eat when I come to the city."
"Where are you from that there isn't Chinese food?" I asked as the smell of the food made my stomach growl.
"I live on a ranch about 75 miles from here." Edward began unpacking the bag of food.
"You're a real life cowboy then." I mused, looking at his scuffed boots.
"Among other things, yes." He looked at me from the corner of his eye. "Why don't you come over here and get something to eat."
"Tell me about your ranch?" I asked as we both settled into our meal.
"I have 20,000 head of cattle and just signed the papers for 20,000 more." Edward waved a manila folder in the air.
"That's a lot of cows." I wrinkled my nose remembering my only experience with the smelly beasts. A field trip when I was in sixth grade, the stench made me gag.
"The ranch is 50,000 acres and sits in a fertile valley just over the state border."
"You must have a lot of help."
"A few, yes." he smiled. "My brother and his wife have a house there as well. Jasper is my business partner."
"I've never known a farmer. Was this ranch a legacy, or did you just decide that you wanted to raise cattle?"
"I'm not a farmer, Bella," he laughed. "I'm a rancher. And actually, I just decided that I wanted to do it. My father is a lawyer and my mother is a doctor."
As I finished my tangerine chicken, I wondered how the son of a doctor and a lawyer ended up on a ranch surrounded by cattle.
"Here's a picture." Edward handed me his phone. He was a rancher who had the latest smart phone.
I saw some rolling green hills and a beautiful two-story home with a barn behind it. Edward's truck was in front of the house. There was a wooden fence that was visible behind the house by the barn and I saw two horses leaning their heads over the rail.
"It looks really nice." I said as I handed back his phone.
I threw away my paper plate and poked around the table looking at the rest of the food. I decided that I was full and sat back down at the head of the bed.
Edward was looking over the papers from the file folder and making some notes. He would look up at me every so often and give me a smile.
I leaned back against the wall, sighing. The small alarm clock that sat on the table between the beds said that it was almost seven PM.
"I caught my best friend slash roommate with my boyfriend this afternoon." I blurted.
Edward's head popped up and he dropped his papers.
"Doesn't sound like she was that good of a friend." he responded.
"Vicky was the first real friend that I made when I started at Glam," I paused to pick at my nails. "That's where I work. Right now I'm just an assistant, but I am trying to land my own column."
"This boyfriend...had you been together very long?" he asked.
"Not really. A little over a month." I shrugged. "His part in this doesn't bother me as much. I guess that I expected it to happen, just not with my best friend. I feel so betrayed by her." I sighed. "Everything that I thought I knew is a lie."
"And this happened right before I found you?"
"Yes. I had just come out of Jake's building." I frowned. "I just don't get it. I was supposed to meet him there when I got out of work. He had to know that I would catch them."
"There's no telling, Darlin'. One thing that I've learned is that there are very few people that you can truly place your trust in."
"I feel like an idiot. Was Vicky planning this?" I asked him, knowing that he didn't have the answer. My tears started again. I wanted to disappear under a rock somewhere.
I felt the bed dip and a warm hand settled lightly on my shoulder. I lifted my head to see Edward's concerned face. His eyes were a brilliant, deep green and his forehead was laced with lines of worry.
He held his arms open and I couldn't stop myself from leaning into him. Edward wrapped his strong, warm arms around me and held me tight while I cried. He hushed me and stroked my hair tenderly. It felt really nice, but reality seeped in and I pulled away.
"It's getting late. I should probably call a cab."
"Where will you go?"
"I don't know. I can call my cousin, Rose. She might let me stay with her tonight."
I got up and crossed the room to where my purse sat. I dug through it, finding my phone. I waited as it rang and went to Rose's voicemail. She was most likely at work, so I just hung up.
I looked around the room as my mind whirled around in circles. I was exhausted and a mess emotionally.
"Why don't you stay here tonight?" Edward pointed at the bed I had just left. "After a good night's sleep, things may be clearer."
I knew it was stupid of me to trust this stranger, but I really wanted to just crawl under the covers and sleep. He had given me no reason to think that he had any untoward ideas. Edward had behaved like a perfect gentleman.
"Are you sure? I don't want to be a nuisance."
Edward shook his head with a smile and pointed to the bed. "Get in."
He turned all the lights off but the one between us then went to the bathroom with a small toiletry bag.
I sent Rose a text telling her that I was alright and that I would contact her soon. Snuggling under the blankets, the soft sounds of Edward's shower lulled me to sleep.
I knew that I was dreaming, but I could not wake up. I was stuck listening to Jake and Vicky jeering at me, telling me how gullible and naïve I was. Jake laughed, saying that I could never satisfy him the way that Vicky did.
"Bella. Bella, honey, wake up." I felt a gentle shake and finally was able to get out of my dream. My cheeks were damp and the room was dark.
"Are you okay?"
My mind was still swirling about, trying to figure out where I was and who was leaning over me.
"Bella?" I felt a rough finger smooth over my face. Everything came rushing back to me.
"Bad dream." I mumbled, pushing myself upright.
"Here." Edward handed me a glass of water and a tissue.
I blew my nose and drank some water, composing myself in the process.
"Want to talk about it?" Edward asked as he tucked a stray piece of hair behind my ear.
"Jake and Vicky were taunting me. He said that I was nothing compared to her."
"I barely know you and I'd have to disagree. You're smart and beautiful; he must be crazy to risk throwing that away."
I looked up at Edward as he sat next to me in the dark room. There was just enough light to make out his features. I felt this pull to him that was unrecognizable to me. Never had I felt this way about someone.
"Thank you, for everything, Edward. You take in a complete stranger and you've been so nice to me." I placed my hand on top of his. "Why? Why did you offer me a ride?"
"I don't know. I was stuck in traffic and saw you run out of that building. You looked so lost and sad," he said quietly. "I was watching your face as you looked up from the sidewalk and I just felt something. I can't explain it."
We sat there staring at each other in the dark. I didn't want to lose his warmth or the safety that I felt when he was near.
"Umm...," I hesitated, "will you stay with me until I fall back to sleep?"
"Sure," he smiled, "move over."
I scooted over to the middle of the bed and Edward began to smooth the blankets to lie on top of them.
"Is it too weird for you to get in with me?" I asked softly. "I just really need to feel close to someone."
"Only if you're sure, Bella."
"I am." I wasn't entirely sure, but I wanted it.
Edward eased in next to me, shifting around until he was settled. Hesitantly, I laid my head on his shoulder. His fresh from the shower scent enveloped me as he wrapped an arm around me.
"Is this okay?" I asked.
"Mm-hmm." he sighed.
I was warm and safe and perfectly comfortable lying with him. His cotton t-shirt was soft against my skin. I held my body away from his, not wanting to make an awkward situation worse. Just as I was drifting off, I felt Edward's soft lips against my forehead. I smiled and let the sandman take me away.
After a dreamless sleep, I woke up still in Edward's arms. Peeking up at him through my lashes, I found that he was staring at me.
"You should have woken me. Did you get any sleep?" I asked as I pulled away from him.
"I slept very well, thank you." he smiled.
I hugged my knees to my chest, feeling suddenly uncomfortable with our intimate position. Not in a way that I wished it hadn't happened, but unsure of what to do or say next.
"Why don't we get cleaned up and get some breakfast?" he asked. "You can use the bathroom first." Edward said as he sat up.
I walked over to the dresser for my clothes and watched him in the mirror as he pulled the pillow I had used over his lap. I briefly wondered why he did it, but pushed the thought from my mind.
After attempting to tame my hair with no styling products or appliances, I decided that it was as good as it was going to get and walked back out into the room.
I held back a quiet gasp seeing a shirtless Edward standing with his back to me. He was stretching; both arms raised over his head. The muscles in his back rippled as he bent to the side. The jeans he had put on hung low on his hips. I cleared my throat and scurried over to wear my shoes sat.
Busying myself with rubbing at the water stain on my designer boots, I watched out of the corner of my eye as Edward retreated to the bathroom. I let out a sigh of relief. I was already lucky that he didn't view me as a crazy woman. If I had to stare at his naked torso for much longer, I'd be drooling.
After packing and checking the room, Edward grabbed his suitcase and led me out to his truck.
"Is IHOP okay?" he asked me as he pulled into the parking lot of the pancake house.
"Sure. I'm not really hungry anyway." My stomach was in knots thinking about having to face Vicky. I hoped that she wouldn't be home.
The waitress that greeted us gave both Edward and I a once over before leading us to a booth near the buffet table.
We ordered coffee and out of politeness, I glanced over the menu.
"Are you going into work today?" Edward asked.
"I had planned on it." I sighed, thinking of what would be waiting for me when I got there. "I need to run home first and change."
I nibbled on the toast that I ordered while Edward inhaled a huge stack of pancakes with bacon and sausage on the side. Despite his large breakfast, we were out of there and on the way to my apartment within a half an hour.
"Thanks again for driving me to my apartment, Edward. I really could have taken a cab."
"Nonsense. I don't want to hear another word about it. I may be a grimy rancher, but my mother raised her boys to be gentlemen." he grinned.
Edward pulled alongside my building and turned off the engine.
"What are you doing?" I asked uneasily.
"I am walking you to your door." Edward responded. His tone left no room for argument.
My stomach was flip-flopping during the entire ride up to my tenth floor apartment. I had a strange feeling wash over me as we approached the door.
I heard music coming from inside, which was odd at this time of the morning. It did not help the queasiness in my belly.
I turned the key and heard the deadbolt unlock. I opened the door slowly and peeked in. The sight that met me made me gasp.
Jake was sprawled on the couch in only his tightie whities. Mostly empty liquor bottles were lined up on the coffee table. Clutched in his hand was a pair of bright pink panties. The deep bass of the music just made the situation that much more surreal.
I took a few steps inside so I could close the door. Instead, of grabbing the door handle, I hit Edward's stomach with my hand; I had forgotten he was with me.
Embarrassment and loathing washed over me knowing that he saw everything that I saw.
I choked back a sob and quickly turned off the stereo. With the noise gone, I could hear the shower running. Vicky was still here, as well.
I stood there, staring at nothing while tears ran down my face.
"Bella. Is that you?" Jake had woken up. He smiled lazily at me from where he lay on the couch.
"You disgust me." I muttered, finally turning away from the scene.
"Aww, don't be like that. The more the merrier." he slurred. Obviously, he hadn't had enough time for the alcohol wear off.
"Bella, get some things together. Now." Edward's angry voice echoed off the walls.
The only thing that I knew was that I did not want to see Vicky. I ran into my room and grabbed a suitcase from under my bed and a large tote bag from my closet.
I filled them both without even paying attention as to what I was packing. My phone chimed in with a text message, but I didn't stop to take the time to look at it.
Suddenly, I was very thankful that we shared one bathroom in our apartment. All my makeup and hair products were on a shelf in my room, rather than stored in the small bath.
I threw it all in on top of the clothing in the tote bag, grabbed a pair of sneakers and ran back out to the foyer. I didn't give Jake a single glance.
Edward stood by the door, gripping the handle tightly. His lips were pressed together in a scowl.
"You have everything?" he asked, taking both bags from me. His voice was eerily calm compared to his demeanor.
"I guess." I lamely responded. I didn't know where I was going to go or for how long. I hoped that I had everything I would need.
On the ride down, Edward asked where my cousin lived.
"Not too far from here." I responded. I remembered the text that came in and found my phone. It was from Rose. She was with her husband, Emmett.
"It doesn't matter anyway. She and her husband are out of town until next week. Apparently, he has a few gigs lined up in the next city over." I grumbled, dropping the phone back in my bag.
"Do you have any other family around?" he asked.
When the elevator door opened, I went to take my tote bag and suitcase from him. Edward kept them out of my reach and herded me towards the entrance door.
"I can take a cab from here, Edward. I'm so sorry that you had to see all that."
"Bella, if you don't stop apologizing for all of these things that are clearly out of your control, I will turn you over my knee."
I stood there shocked as he walked to his truck. He opened the back door and set my bags inside, then opened the passenger door.
"Get in." He waved his hand from me to the truck.
I trotted over to the truck and climbed in. Edward tipped his hat and gave me a smile as he closed the door.
"What in the hell are you doing?" I asked myself as he made his way around the front of the truck.
"I've really taken up enough of your time, Edward." I told him when he got in. "Why don't you take me back to the motel and I can stay there until I figure out what I am going to do."
Edward didn't respond to me as he waited for his chance to pull into traffic. I patiently waited until we'd gone through two sets of stoplights. I could tell he was battling with something. He kept muttering to himself and rubbing his forehead.
"Do you have any vacation time coming from your job?"
What did that have to do with anything?
"Can you take it now?"
"I suppose I could. Notice is usually required but I might be able to get away with it." I answered. "Why?"
Edward blew out a breath. "Why don't you just come with me?"
"Come with you? To your ranch?" I was stunned. Regardless of how comfortable I was with him, we were basically strangers.
"No, to the moon." he replied sarcastically. "Yes, Bella. To my ranch."
We were both silent for a few minutes.
"You won't be alone with me. In fact, you really won't see a whole lot of me. I have all the amenities that you big city folks have and my sister in law will be there, along with about ten others."
A million things were going through my head at once. One voice said 'no' while another, louder voice said 'yes'. I heard my boss' voice asking me why I was suddenly taking a vacation and I heard my mother's voice telling me that nice girls didn't go to a stranger's ranch four hours away.
My mother was also on her third marriage, so I told her to shut the hell up.
"I'll call my boss."
"Lie if you have to, Bella." he said.
My mind raced over plausible scenarios while I waited for Mr. Banner's assistant to transfer me.
"Mr. Banner? It's Bella Swan. I am really sorry for the short notice, but I need to take some vacation days." I gulped. I was never a good liar. "My grandmother died and I need to go home for awhile."
I felt bad when he was so nice to me, allowing me all ten days of my vacation time.
I ended the conversation and turned slightly in my seat.
"So you know, I never knew either of my grandmothers. They both died when I was very young." I told Edward.
"I'll bring you back whenever you want, okay?" he told me as he looked right into my eyes.
"Okay." I gave him a small smile.
Edward pulled into a drive-thru that sat just before the interstate.
"You want anything? A soda? Coffee?" he offered.
Edward ordered a medium Coke for me, and a large one for himself. The young girl at the window shamelessly flirted with him and I was surprised that I felt a twinge of jealousy.
He pulled onto the highway and fumbled with the radio. I was happy to hear him stop on a popular rock station rather than country. He left the volume low as he glanced over at me.
"If it will settle your nerves, you can ask me some questions. I don't want you to feel uncomfortable."
I was feeling slightly awkward, second-guessing my decision to go with him ever since the on-ramp to the highway.
"Where exactly is your ranch?" I started, turning slightly in my seat for a better view of him.
"Just outside of Durban, Iowa." Edward smiled.
"Is that where you're from?"
"No. I was born and raised in Chicago." he said, glancing over at me.
"Are your parents still there?"
"Why didn't you stay with them instead of that cheap motel?" I slapped a hand over my mouth. "Sorry. That was rude."
"No, no. It's okay. My parent's idea of where I should be in my life, and my idea, differ. Besides, I was only in town for business."
"So, your relationship with them isn't the best?"
"We've come to an understanding. I understand that they see my career choice as a disappointment and a waste of my talents and they understand that I don't give a shit that they don't like it." he said tersely.
I choked on my Coke when he said that. He was his own man, answering to no one but himself. That's a good thing, right?
"In all fairness, we do get along. The only point of contention is my livelihood."
"That doesn't sound too far away from the ordinary, normal parent-grown child relationship."
"I suspect you are right." he chuckled.
"You mentioned a brother who works with you. Any other siblings?" I asked.
"Nope. Just Jasper."
"How old are you and how did you get into the cattle ranching business?"
"I just turned thirty years old and I got into this quite by accident." he reflected for a moment. "Have you seen that movie with Billy Crystal? City Slickers?"
"I think so. A group of middle aged men go on a cattle drive to find themselves?" I asked.
"That's the one. Well, Jasper and I got to do that. Our grandfather knew my fascination with cowboys and he gave me that trip as a 15th birthday present. It was more of a dude ranch, though. We didn't actually drive cattle." he chuckled.
"Anyway, that is how it started. I always had it in the back of my mind, even when I went to Northwestern. I was on the road to med school when I changed my mind and went into animal husbandry. I sorta interned for a man who had a cattle ranch and that is, how they say, that. Jasper got a taste of it when he visited me the summer before he graduated high school. He came out every chance he got, then moved with me after a couple years of college."
"No wife or girlfriend?" I timidly asked. I had already noticed that he didn't wear a ring. I suppose a rancher, someone who works with his hands so much, might not wear one.
"No. I haven't found the right girl for my way of life." he said quietly. "Long dusty days without much more than work going on. That doesn't exactly appeal to the ladies."
We continued on this way for the next three hours. I answered many of the same questions that I had asked him.
I told him that I was twenty-four, not particularly close to either of my parents, but more so my father, if I had to choose.
"I went to school for journalism. I ended up at Glam hoping I could get my own feature column." I shrugged. "It's a start. Though, I have to say that I'm having second thoughts about doing it as a career."
"Why is that?" he asked, genuinely interested.
"It's a tough business. Lots of competition and backbiting. I'm not sure I'm cut out for such a world." I sighed. "Not to mention, I have a hard time keeping up with this glamorous image that seems to be required." I glanced down at my ruined designer dress.
"Is it your first job in the industry?"
"Yes. I was the editor for my high school paper and again in college." I laughed humorlessly. "It isn't at all like the real thing."
We fell into a companionable silence. I watched as cities and towns passed by. The landscape turned to rolling hills and flat expanses of fields.
Edward slowed the truck and turned on his blinker to exit the highway. I sat up from my slumped position in the seat.
"Are we there?" I asked.
"Just about. Stay alert, we're gonna pass through Durban." He winked at me. "If you blink, you'll miss it."
I gave him a smile and turned back to the window. It was a pretty little town. It looked like something right out of an old magazine. Quaint shops, most likely all of them owned by people who lived right here. There were pickup trucks parked in front of some of the businesses and even a tractor passed us on the road going in the other direction.
"You might want to roll up your window. It's bound to get a little dusty." Edward advised as he turned down a dirt road.
I pushed the power control and closed the window til it was only open a couple of inches.
"So, this is mine." He pointed out the window.
I looked and saw nothing but an empty field of mostly green. Nothing else except the fence that surrounded it.
"Where are the cows?"
"They're in the back of the property. We have to rotate where they graze so the ground can stay fertile."
We drove for a few more minutes and I finally saw his house in the distance. There were three huge barns and about a dozen vehicles parked off to the side.
"My sister in law may be a little excited to see you. Don't let her get to you, okay?" he said as we pulled into the drive and parked in front of the house.
A little excited was an understatement. You would have thought that I was her long, lost best friend. She came tearing out of the house and stood at the bottom of the porch steps. I gave Edward a worried glance before opening my door and stepping out.
"Oh my God! Edward, who is this?" she exclaimed, pulling me into an awkward hug. She was a little shorter than me with an equally short hairstyle. Her black hair seemed to spike out in every direction. She had an affectionate drawl that made me automatically think that she was from the south.
"Alice, this is Bella. She's going to be staying here for a few days. Bella, this is Alice, my sister in law."
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Bella." She winked at Edward. "I'm just off to town. I'll be seeing you around."
The whirlwind that was Alice left with a wave and toot of her horn.
"C'mon, I'll give you a tour." Edward said, picking up my bags.
His house was nothing like I expected it to be. It was warm and lived in, but not at all messy or dusty. We walked through a hallway with rooms on either side. The living room housed a large TV and I believe I saw a gaming system. The kitchen was on the other side. It was a big room. There was a long butcher-block table that sat off to the side.
Just before the stairs, Edward stopped.
"This is my library. You are welcome to it while you're here." he smiled.
"Thank you." I stepped just inside the room and took a look around at the full shelves. In my haste to leave my apartment, I didn't bring any books with me.
At the top of the stairs, Edward pointed out where the bathroom was, his room, and two spare rooms.
"I have another spare room downstairs, but it is currently occupied by Mrs. Cope." I gave him a questioning look. "My cook and housekeeper." he grinned.
"So, you can have your choice of either room. This one gets the sun in the morning," he pointed to the room next to his.
I glanced at both rooms. I wasn't at all concerned about the sun in the morning. I was concerned with the proximity of his room in relation to the one I would be sleeping in, though.
"Since I am on vacation, I'll take the room that doesn't get the sun in the morning. I like to sleep in."
Edward smiled and walked in with my bags.
"The linen is fresh," he said. "I gave Mrs. Cope a call. She made up both rooms." he ducked his head as if he were embarrassed.
When had he called her? I have been with him the entire day.
"Make yourself at home, Bella. What's mine is yours." he gave me a soft smile. "I have to go out for awhile, but I'll be back around supper time. If you need anything, Mrs. Cope is around here somewhere, most likely near the kitchen."
"Thank you, Edward. I can't express how much all of this means to me." I took his hand and squeezed it; he squeezed mine back.
"You are very welcome." Edward lifted his other hand to my shoulder, brushing back my hair. He looked at me for a minute, as if he wanted to say more, but didn't.
"I'll see you later then." he said, walking out and closing the door behind him.
I unpacked what little I had brought. The room was a decent size, slightly larger than mine back in Chicago. The bedroom set was made up of different pieces, none of it matching; yet at the same time, it blended together very well. The pale blue walls had watercolor prints of flowers and plants.
There was a small stuffed chair by the window that looked out on an empty field. I imagined this would provide an awesome view of the sunset.
After changing into a pair of dark jeans and a simple pull over top, I decided to poke around Edward's house. I had an itch to see more of his library, but I was also hungry after not having anything but toast for breakfast.
Cautiously, I looked around the kitchen, unsure if I should just open the fridge and go foraging. I felt a little like I was trespassing. I heard a door close softly and froze in my tracks.
"You must be Miss Bella." I heard a warm voice say.
I turned and saw a woman of about sixty standing in a doorway off the side of the kitchen.
"Just Bella," I smiled. "You must be Mrs. Cope."
"I am, child. I was about to start supper. Would you like to keep me company for awhile?" she asked as she made her way further into the kitchen.
I pulled out a chair from that large kitchen table and sat down. It was well worn but sturdy and in good condition.
"I don't think I've ever seen a table this big." I commented.
"I normally feed seven to ten people at suppertime. Need a big table to set 'em all." she chuckled.
"What? Why so many?"
"The hands, dear. Mr. Edward has six full timers and three part timers."
Of course he does. He can't run this place all by himself.
"How long have you worked here?" I asked as she began pulling pots out of the cupboard.
"Close to two years now. After my husband passed," she crossed herself and kissed her necklace, "I didn't have a thing to do. Mr. Edward took pity on an old lady and let me come cook and keep his house for him."
"And you live here as well, right?"
"No dear. I have a room in the back, but that is just my own private place. Mr. Edward told me that since I spend so much time here, I should have a room. I live down the road apiece."
I clearly remember Edward saying that we wouldn't be alone. If that was the case, who would be here?
Something from the window across from me caught my eye. I watched some men walk out of a barn. They seemed to be in high spirits, laughing and shoulder checking each other.
Mrs. Cope's knife hitting the cutting board brought my attention back to the kitchen. My stomach grumbled, reminding me why I came in here in the first place.
"Are there any crackers?" I asked, still not comfortable with my surroundings.
"When is the last time you ate, child?"
"I had some toast this morning."
She gave me a chastising look and dropped her knife. "I am going to make you a sandwich. You look like you could stand to gain a few pounds."
I looked down at myself. I didn't think that I looked too thin at all, quite the opposite, actually.
I wasn't huge, but I also wasn't a size four. I was a little thicker through the middle than most of the women at my office. I had hips and breasts, too.
Mrs. Cope set a plate in front of me. It looked better than a sandwich from the local deli back in Chicago. She had stacked turkey and ham with lettuce and tomato between two thick slices of homemade bread.
"I don't think I can eat all of this, but thank you." I picked up half of the sandwich and leaned my head down to take a bite.
"Just try, dear."
Mrs. Cope poured me a cup of coffee and continued putting her meal together. She asked me how I knew Edward, so I gave her an abbreviated version of what had transpired.
I thanked her for the sandwich that I did end up eating all of, then offered to help with dinner. She shooed me out telling me to go relax. It was the perfect opportunity to check out the rest of Edward's house.
I walked through the living room looking at the pictures that were on display. Most seemed to have been taken here on the ranch. Edward with various men and a few of his cows. One was clearly taken elsewhere and I assumed that it was a family holiday picture. His parents looked nice enough. Both looked years younger than they had to be and were dressed quite fashionably.
I sighed and turned away from all the smiling faces. I needed to get lost for a while. I checked my phone, hoping to see at least an apology from Vicky. Not that it would mean anything.
I sent off a text to Rose letting her know that I was out of town for a few days. I was sure that she wouldn't push for anymore than that. She was too wrapped up in her husband and his career to worry much about me.
Stepping into Edward's library was like stepping through a portal. The shelving was a deep, dark wood and two inviting leather chairs sat side by side. It seemed more like a library that should sit in some rich person's mansion.
There was a big desk that matched the rest of the wood. A lamp sat in one corner and Edward's laptop sat in the middle.
I examined the books that filled the floor to ceiling shelves. There were manuals and textbooks, classics and modern fiction. It seemed like he had a little bit of everything.
I chose one of the fiction novels and debated on staying there or going up to my room. Thinking that I might like a nap, I decided to go back upstairs.
I got lost in the intrigue of a cat and mouse mystery, thankful for the reprieve from reality. I did fall asleep and did not wake up until Mrs. Cope came looking for me.
"It's almost supper time, dear." I woke and looked up at her peeking in through the doorway. "I wondered if you wanted to take your meal here or downstairs with everyone else."
"I'm not sure that I should sit in with everyone." I said honestly.
"Come on down when you're ready and I'll have a tray for you, okay?" she said sweetly.
I brushed my hair and washed my face before going down to the kitchen. I heard some laughter coming from outside and moved a little quicker so I wouldn't be caught in here.
I wasn't fast enough.
All the laughter abruptly stopped when the men saw me standing by the counter. There was some throat clearing and ducking of eyes. Edward was the last to come in. He smiled and his eyes lit up as if he was happy to see me.
"You weren't thinking of sneaking off, were you?" he asked, coming over to where I stood.
The men sat around the table, chairs scuffing across the floor as they got settled.
"I didn't think I should eat with all of you." I said quietly.
"None of them are going to bite, Bella. And I'd be very happy if you joined us." Edward lifted my chin with a finger to look me in the eye.
I chewed the side of my lip nervously. As innocent as it was intended, his touch did things to me.
"Okay." I lamely agreed.
The only two seats left open were one at the head and the one immediately to the left. Edward held my chair in the eerily quiet room. Before he sat down, he cleared his throat and addressed the group.
"Everyone, this is Bella. Mind your manners." He then sat down.
To my surprise, everyone was very welcoming and pleasant. I wasn't sure what I expected, but it was a nice meal with good company. The men joked with me and made an effort to include me in their conversations.
Everyone helped clean up, rinsing plates and loading the big dishwasher for Mrs. Cope. It was easy to see the affection they all had for this woman who did so much for them.
I followed Edward out to the front porch as he was saying goodbye to his men. Some walked off to one of the barns, while a couple got into their vehicles and drove away.
A mud covered pickup pulled into the driveway and a girl jumped out. She was smiling and hollering at one of the guys to hurry his lazy ass up. As soon as she saw me, her smile disappeared.
"Hey, Edward." she said while looking at me.
"Hey, Leah." he replied wearily.
"Hi, I'm Leah. Who are you?" she said to me. She was clearly annoyed by my presence.
"Leah, this is my friend Bella." Edward intervened.
She looked me over from head to toe and grimaced. "How do you know Edward?"
I was taken aback by her attitude. It was plain to see that she had designs on Edward and that I was invading her territory.
"Leah." Edward hissed. "Get in your truck and go. I am not doing this with you again."
Leah looked at Edward for a moment then glared at me before stomping back to her truck and racing away.
"Wow. What was that?" I asked.
"Leah has been after me ever since I hired her brother last year." he said, sitting on the top step. "She doesn't take no for an answer." he sighed.
"You aren't interested in her?" I asked, and then quickly backtracked. "I'm sorry, that's none of my business."
"Not at all, Bella. That girl makes my skin crawl." he laughed. "I am interested in you, though." he said with a wink of his eye. "Sit here with me."
Edward asked how my day had gone and told me what he had planned for the next couple of days. His cows weren't coming for another two weeks, but he had some fencing that needed work and some other things around the ranch that needed his attention.
He told me about the day-to-day life on the ranch. He explained everything that he did from the time he got up until it was time for bed. Edward also explained to me that they were steer, not cows.
"I do have two bulls and a handful of cows that I breed. One is due any day now."
"A baby?" I smiled.
"Yes." he laughed. His eyes crinkled at the corners. When he was happy you could really see it; his smile lit up his entire face.
We called it a night with a promise to fit a tour in the following morning. I went to my room and closed the curtains before changing into something to sleep in. In my hurry to leave, I hadn't packed anything suitable for this situation. I had some sweat pants I could wear, but I knew that I would get too warm.
I waited until I heard Edward finish in the bathroom and close his bedroom door before going myself.
I tiptoed across the hall and shut the door quickly. I finished my business and opened the door slowly, checking to see that Edward's door was still closed. There was a dim light coming from under the door. I proceeded to tiptoe back to my room when his door suddenly opened.
I stopped, like a deer caught in the headlights. I tugged my t-shirt down over my ass and crossed my legs.
"Oh." Edward said, scrunching his eyebrows together. His eyes roamed slowly over me from head to toe. He took a step towards me then stopped. "I, uh, just wanted to let you know that if you need anything, don't be afraid to knock."
"Sure. Okay. Thanks." I said nervously. Giving him a quick smile and a wave, I ran to my room. I was mortified at the thought of him watching my jiggling ass.
As I closed the door, I heard him sigh heavily before his door shut for the night.
Over the next few days, I got to see more of the ranch and even got to pet the new calf only hours after it was born.
Mrs. Cope let me borrow a pair of her boots so I wouldn't ruin my shoes while Edward gave me a tour of his property. We talked as I watched him work, lobbing questions at each other and voicing our opinions on certain subjects.
I was quickly becoming accustomed to this place. It was serene, peaceful and beautiful. And contrary to what I had thought, there was a lot going on around here most of the time.
The men seemed at ease around me, including me in some of their pranks they played on one another. Nothing went too far, though. Seth told me that Edward would have someone's ass if they messed around too much. He was a nice kid. I don't know how he got saddled with such a bitch of a sister.
I led Mike over to a water trough, with the idea that I wanted him to show me something. Seth then pushed him and Mike landed in the water. In thanks for my help, Seth picked some wildflowers and presented them to me.
It was purely a friendly gesture, but Edward didn't seem too happy about it.
"What the hell is this?" he snapped, walking out of the barn. He glared at Seth until the poor kid answered.
"I was just thanking Bella for helping me finally get Mike." Seth pointed to the dripping wet man.
"Get back to work." Edward growled, then turned and left us staring at his back as he disappeared behind the barn.
I looked at Seth to see if he had an explanation and he looked just as confused as me.
I ran after Edward to apologize.
"Edward, don't blame Seth. I offered to help him after he told me how bad Mike has been busting him." He stopped, turning to face me. "I shouldn't have gotten involved."
"You didn't do anything wrong, Bella. I enjoy seeing you getting along with everyone here." Edward lifted his finger and touched my cheek. "It's just been a long day. I'm sorry that I snapped at you." Edward dropped his hand and turned to leave.
"Is it me? Am I getting in the way or distracting everyone from their work? I can stay close to the house, if you rather..." I said, feeling discouraged and inadequate.
Edward slowly turned back, stopping directly in front of me. He was so close I could feel his breath on my forehead.
"You're like a breath of fresh air around here, Bella." His hand was back on my face. I felt his fingers curl around my neck. "And yes, you are distracting." Edward's eyes bore into mine as he gently tilted my head and leaned closer.
All the air left my lungs as I watched his tongue glide over his lips. He was going to kiss me. I wanted him to kiss me. I rose up on my toes and hooked my fingers in his belt loops.
"Edward!" a voice hollered. "We're ready. Let's go!"
Edward sucked in a breath of air and let his forehead rest against mine. His grip on me tightened just a little and he brushed a soft kiss against the side of my head.
I left the barn, walking on trembling legs. I had to sit down on the porch to get myself together after that close encounter. My heart was still pounding wildly and I could feel the flush in my face.
The next two days, I expectantly waited for Edward to finish what he had started. I caught him casting sidelong glances at me, even openly staring at me, but nothing else happened. Maybe he was regretting that moment we shared.
I realized that I had been here for five days already. I was getting used to the roll of life around here and could see the appeal of living in this rustic place.
I was too comfortable here. I would have to go back to my real life soon, and that thought wasn't sitting too well with me.
I went in to help Mrs. Cope with dinner, offering to peel potatoes for her.
I was feeling very small and insignificant today. I had barely spoken to Edward yesterday or today. I was beginning to wonder if he finally figured out that he made a mistake bringing me here.
There was so much that went into running a place like this. I was clearly out of my element, no matter how much I enjoyed being here.
After peeling more spuds than I ever had before, I began to cut them and put them in the pot.
"Dear, you need more than that." she tskd, picking up the peeler.
I know that she didn't mean it in a disparaging way, but it made me feel slightly inept.
After we finished with the potatoes, she shooed me out of the kitchen. No doubt I was more of a burden than a help.
I went back outside with the intention of sitting under the big elm tree with a book. Instead, I ran into Leah.
"I can't believe you have to stay late again!" Leah spat at Seth. "I'm getting tired of having to drive back and forth to get you."
I tried to hide from her, but she zeroed in on me and stalked over.
"This is all your fault, you know." She stared at me waiting for a response.
"Uh... ," I stammered. I had no idea what she meant.
"With Edward busy traipsing around the ranch with his new play thing," her eyes flashed a hidden anger waiting to be unleashed; "it makes extra work for the other men who have to pick up his slack."
The harshness of her words reached out and slapped me right across the face.
"I'm sorry, Leah. I had no idea... ," I began to apologize.
"Of course you don't." she said angrily. "You're just a big city girl who is so wrapped up in herself that you can't see past your own face. You have no idea how far out of your league you are. You don't belong here. You need to go back to where you came from."
I stood there, glued to the little patch of dirt that I was standing on. I felt like I had been gut punched. Leah was right. I had no business hiding out here. Who was I trying to kid? My problems were waiting for me back in Chicago and it was clear to everyone that I was out of my element.
I watched Alice pull in and immediately made up my mind. Before I could second guess myself, I ran over to her.
"Alice, is there a train station around here?"
"In the next town over, about twenty minutes from here." she said, her tone questioning.
"Can you take me? I can be ready in less than ten minutes."
Before she even finished answering yes, I was on my way to the house. I ran up the stairs and threw all my things into my bags. I stopped into the library and left Edward a quick note.
Thank you for everything you've done for me. I don't think I can ever express how much it has meant to me, but it's time for me to return to my life.
I placed the note on his laptop then went to Mrs. Cope and gave her a hug.
"What was that for, child?" she smiled.
"I'm leaving. Thank you for making me feel so welcome here."
I left before she could say anything and got into Alice's car. She looked at me for a moment before putting the car in gear and driving away. I fought the urge to look back, half hoping I'd see a glimpse of Edward, and half hoping that I wouldn't.
"Bella, I know we don't know each other, but... what the hell is going on?"
"I just realized that I had stayed here long enough. I have a mess to deal with back in Chicago." I continued staring out the window. "Besides, I don't belong here." I said in a quieter voice.
"Really? From what I've heard, you were fitting in really well."
"If I stayed any longer, it would just complicate things. I would develop connections that couldn't be sustained. I'd just end up getting hurt."
"Did Edward do something?" Alice asked accusingly.
"Edward? No." I shook my head. "Edward has been... ," I sighed, looking for the right words. "He has been great. Too great." I stopped talking; not wanting to let on how much he had grown on me.
Thankfully Alice didn't push for more. I held myself together long enough to get to the train station.
"Thanks a lot, Alice." I smiled weakly.
"Sure. I wish we could have gotten to know each other better." She gave me a quick hug. "Bye, Bella."
I bought my ticket and boarded the train. A place tucked deep inside hoped that Edward would come swooping in and beg me to stay. I knew that wasn't going to happen. It was a ridiculous notion. Still, I couldn't help but think that I was leaving a part of me with him.
Week 1 I dealt with Vicky and Jake by renting a room from my cousin. I worked, I slept and I kept to myself.
Week 2 My mundane life seemed even more mundane than it did before. I was only going through the motions of day to day life.
Week 3 I had a gaping hole right in the middle of me. I felt empty.
Week 4 I found myself on Google Earth, looking at an aerial view of Edward's ranch. What the hell was I doing?
How could I possibly be in love with someone that I had only known for a week? I haven't seen Edward for a month, yet he was all that I thought about. Everything that I did, I imagined him with me. What would he say? What would he do?
I let my head drop to my desk in frustration. It was obvious that I did not have the same effect on him as he had on me. Edward had made no attempt to get a hold of me.
You didn't even give him your cell number, idiot! My inner voice reminded me.
What a mess I had created for myself.
I was slowly getting back into a familiar routine. When I saw couples together acting all lovey-dovey, I still felt a twinge of sadness. It had nothing to do with Jake and everything to do with Edward. The thought of what could have been continued to haunt me.
I threw myself into my work, even though the longer I was back at it, the more I realized that it is not what I wanted to do with my life.
"Do the best you can with what you've got." I murmured my father's motto to myself.
"Bella, there is a gentleman here to see you." The receptionist buzzed my phone. "Send him in." I replied, thankful for the interruption.
I looked up from my desk, imagining that I would see Emmett walk in. I was surprised when I didn't hear him coming down the hall. He isn't exactly a subtle guy.
I went back to my work until a shadow fell over me and a voice cleared. I looked over my shoulder and stopped breathing.
"Do you have any idea how difficult it was to find you?" Edward smiled.
"Wha...how are you here?"
"I missed you." he simply replied.
Edward placed the flowers on my desk and knelt down on one knee.
"You missed me too. I can see it in your eyes."
All I could do was nod in response. His scent was filling my senses.
"Your pulse is racing." He said quietly, touching a finger to my throat.
"I've been lost ever since you left. Seth told me what Leah said to you." He took my hand in his. "Bella, you have to know that nothing she said is true. I need you with me. Tell me, did you like it? Being there on my ranch?"
"Yes." I laughed softly. "Despite everything I thought I knew about myself, I really did love being there."
"Then come back with me."
Before I was able to respond, Edward's warm arms wrapped around my body, pulling me closer. My senses were so overwhelmed by the closeness and his touch that the shock of his lips meeting mine almost brought me to my knees.
Everything around us disappeared. The only thing that played through my mind was that I never wanted this to stop. We were both breathless by the time we came up for air. The way he looked at me sent a shiver down my spine.
"Come back with me." he whispered.
What was keeping me here; a job that I did not particularly like, a family that I wasn't very close to. All that I had thought about since leaving Edward was Edward.
He stood and pulled me to my feet along with him. Edward's hands cupped my face, his lips exploring mine once again. The crowd around us erupted with applause, causing us to laugh.
He gave me that smoldering look again, making my toes curl. I felt his grip on me tighten. I wondered if he was thinking the same thing that I was.
"I'm not going to be able to keep my hands off of you," he whispered in my ear.
He was thinking the same thing.
As unconventional, unplanned, and impulsive as this was, the only thing I knew is that it was right. Everything felt like it had fallen into place. Edward overwhelmed all of my senses, and it was a wonderful feeling.
Now, we just needed a horse so we could ride off into the sunset. Guess we'd have to use Edward's truck.
Edward stood outside the door waiting for me while I told Mr. Banner that I was quitting. To say that he was astounded was an understatement. He asked me why, and I told him, very simply.
"I'm moving to the country to live on a cattle ranch."
I walked out of his office and into Edward's arms. He tilted me back, kissing me passionately. When he let me go, I looked up to see Vicky standing there staring at us. I didn't even hold any contempt for her now. If she hadn't betrayed me, I never would have met Edward on that rainy, fateful day.
I made sure that the one project that I had been working on was handed over to another assistant and cleaned out my desk.
Without a glance back, we walked out of the office building towards our future.
The month that Bella was gone was a nightmare. I didn't even know that she was gone until the following day. We had been out late finishing the fences and I assumed that she had gone to bed early. When Alice accosted me the next day, I was dumbstruck.
"What the hell happened, Edward? Did you do something to make her leave?"
Alice told me everything that Bella said to her and that she had taken her to the train station.
For two weeks, I brooded. None of my men said a word to me for fear of me taking their heads off. The week that Bella was here played on a loop in my mind.
Mrs. Cope finally decided that she had had enough of my barking and confronted me.
"Are you just going to wallow in misery, or are you going to find out what happened to drive that sweet girl away?" she asked, cuffing me gently on the head.
"I thought she liked being here. I thought she liked being with me." I responded holding my head in my hands.
After some poking around, I found out from Seth that Leah was the one who ran Bella off. I should have known that she had something to do with it when she started giving me the hard court press again. I banned Leah from my property. Seth would just have to walk out to the road to get picked up.
It took me a week to find Bella. The cattle had just been delivered, so I couldn't run after her right away. Instead, I took that time to figure out just what I was going to do to get her to come back with me.
Honesty seemed like the best way to go.
Turns out, I was right. Bella came back to the ranch with me the next day. She packed up her belongings from her cousin's place and I loaded it all into the bed of the pickup. It was too late to drive home, so we went back to that Motel 6 where we had spent our first night together, only this time, we really did spend it together.
Bella's passion for me made me fall in love with her even more. We didn't get much sleep that night; rather we used that time to explore each other. It was truly the best night of my existence, thus far anyway.
Fast-forward to a month later and it was our wedding day. We both agreed that we didn't want to have a huge affair. Just our family and friends were invited. Bella's father came to give her away, while her poor excuse for a mother said that it conflicted with a trip that she was taking. Rose and Emmett were her only other family that came.
My parents were uncharacteristically enjoyable to be around. Even so, I was glad they stayed with Alice and Jasper.
I stood under the gauzy canopy watching Bella walk towards me. She was stunning in her simple white dress. It was short enough to show off some leg, but long enough to still be a respectable wedding dress. The material flowed around her in the breeze and I was captivated. I don't remember all that the preacher said because I was lost in Bella's eyes.
Her fingers kept squeezing mine and when I was told that I could kiss the bride, I scooped her into my arms and forgot that we had an audience.
The cat calls and whistles made us laugh, breaking us out of our cocoon.
After some pictures with everyone, we gathered at the long tables that were set up with Mrs. Cope's cooking. She must have gotten some help because this spread was like no other I had seen.
The small reception consisted of some lights strung up in the trees and Emmett playing his guitar. Everyone danced and laughed; we had a great time. When Bella stood back to take a break, I decided that the reception was over for us. Alice gave me a nod letting me know that she had done what I asked of her. I picked Bella up and carried her into the house and up the stairs.
There were candles lit and some soft music playing. I placed Bella gently on her feet.
"You've made me the happiest man on earth, Bella." I whispered against her lips.
"I love you so much, Edward." Bella began unbuttoning my shirt.
We wasted no time in removing each other's clothes. As lovely as she looked in her dress, I was happy to see it go.
The candle light made her soft skin glow and all I wanted to do was taste every inch of it.
My lips feasted on Bella's every curve. She moaned softly as her fingers tightened their grip on my arms.
When I was satisfied that I had paid proper homage to her skin, I laid her back onto the bed as she watched me with hooded eyes. Positioning myself over her, I nudged her legs further apart with my own.
"I will cherish you forever, Bella." I told her as I eased inside of her. "Every time feels like the first time." I sighed into her neck.
Our lovemaking was strong and pure. Bella's fingers dug into my skin as I stroked into her. She whimpered and muttered her love for me; it was almost my undoing. I loved hearing how I made her feel.
When her legs tightened around me, pulling me impossibly further in I stopped moving and turned us over.
"I want to watch you fall apart." I explained.
The sight above me took my breath away. Bella rode me until we both exploded and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever witnessed.
As we held each other in our afterglow, I thanked her.
"Thank you for coming back with me." I said, kissing her warm, swollen lips.
I was rewarded with an adorable smile.
"Thank you for offering me a ride."
I knew that day when I saw her that she was something special. Fate had a hand in bringing us together. There was no other explanation that I was willing to accept.
"I fell in love with you that day." I admitted. "I saw you standing there, wet and sad and so alone. I just wanted to make it all better."
"You made everything better, Edward. I had no idea it could be like this. We complete each other."
And that was the basic truth of it all. We are complete because of each other.
The world melted away once more as we became one again.