Notes: We're so thrilled that you enjoyed Assward and Tartella. Thanks for all of the sweet reviews. There will be three chapters, including this one, to tell the rest of their story.
Huge thanks to Alice's White Rabbit for her amazing beta skills.
Sticky and sated, the man and the woman drift off to sleep in the big hotel bed. When they awake a few hours later, they laugh as they peel their bodies apart and then shower together with wandering hands and roaming kisses.
Afterward, the man goes home while the woman stays at the hotel, continuing her charade of being in town on business.
She crawls into the bed, taken aback when she realizes she wishes the man hadn't left. She misses his warmth, his broad shoulders, and his strong arms around her. There was a hint of wistfulness in their kiss goodbye, but both of them know that nothing more can come of this. All roads will eventually lead to disappointment.
In the weeks and months that follow the night she spent with Edward Cullen, the dark-haired woman often finds her thoughts drifting to him.
She continues to see clients, though she finds that she has no particular desire to peg other men. Both times she tries, she's disappointed; the dynamic just isn't the same. She turns her regular clients with that predilection over to someone else and begins to decline new clients requesting the service. She doesn't mind fucking women with a strap-on; that's a totally different experience. And she doesn't mind letting men fuck her.
Her favorite clients are probably Riley and Garrett, two successful executives with wives and families, who are secretly in love with each other. They either can't—or won't—admit their feelings, even to themselves, and so the woman works as a conduit. Instead of fucking each other, Riley and Garrett fuck her. Sometimes they even make love through her. The three of them have been doing this for years. It's a strange dynamic, but the woman likes to think she's helping Riley and Garrett connect in the only way they can.
One night, they lie tangled up together; the woman curled between them. The men usually leave shortly after sex but tonight decided to stay. It will be a while before they can see each other again; in a few hours, they will wake up to fuck again. They've paid for the woman's time, and she doesn't mind; there are worse things than falling asleep between two handsome men.
Tonight, though, the dark-haired woman is restless. It's a rare thing for her; she's always been able to sleep like the dead. She crawls out of bed, crossing the room to stand by the window, and stares out at the city skyline. Her mind wanders, and a small, secret part of her imagines that it's Edward Cullen in the bed behind her, though she's in a different hotel on the other side of the city. She doesn't know why she can't shake the thought of the auburn-haired man, but the memory of their night together remains lodged firmly in her head.
The woman knows the impossibility of seeing Edward as anything but a client. She dates infrequently and never for long. Men rarely are comfortable dating a woman in her profession. She doesn't blame them; she would be no different if the roles were reversed.
She tried it once—dating a client—and it ended in tears and hurt feelings. It crosses her mind for a brief moment that she doesn't have to continue working. She hates the idea of leaving her job for a man, though—that rarely ends well either—and she does have a condo mortgage and car payment to consider. Her savings aren't insignificant; she doesn't have to find other work immediately. But what would she do with herself?
The woman has always known she wouldn't do this forever, but she's still young and beautiful enough that she could continue for a while. Men may like their women young, but twenty-six isn't long in the tooth yet, even for an escort. The career plan she had before she started this job is no longer an option, and short of traveling, she isn't sure what she'd want to do.
At odd moments, she finds herself visiting Edward Cullen's website. It isn't hard to track him down. That is his real name, and he does indeed make custom violins. She is drawn to the photo of him on the website. It's professional quality, but not posed, and shows him hand carving a piece of wood. His fingers appear strong on the chisel and she finds it amazing that those strong, capable hands create such delicate pieces. The woman knows violins well and the instruments Edward makes are works of art. She played a Stradivarius once, and while the sound was unequaled, she thinks Edward Cullen's violins may be more beautiful. She'd love to get her hands on one of his creations. Her fingers itch to touch one, to hear the sound it would make.
Even more, her hands itch to touch him. To hear the sounds he makes.
The man is similarly affected by the experience.
His memory of the night he spent with Isabella remains fresh in his mind as the days pass. He sits in his shop, listening to clients as they describe what they want, carving beautiful things with his hands. He spends time with his friends. He goes on dates and sleeps with several women. He even finds an online site where he meets a woman interested in pegging him. His afternoon with the little blonde named Chelsea is by no means bad; Chelsea has experience with pegging, and she makes the man come so hard his toes curl. He can't seem to recreate the way he felt when he was with Isabella, though. He longs for the odd undercurrent of energy that flowed between them during their single night together.
The auburn-haired man's experience with Isabella changed him. The lingering questions in his mind were put to rest. He feels comfortable with his desires now. The man enjoys fucking women very much. He also knows that at some point he'll want to experience being fucked again. Pegging isn't something he needs on a daily basis, or even very often. Ten years of wondering about it made it nearly an obsession, but now he knows that pegging will be something he indulges in occasionally. He can't help wanting it to happen with Isabella.
The man considers hiring her again, but something makes him hesitate. He wants something ... more with her, and is uncomfortable with the knowledge that she will be paid to be with him. Though he believes that there was something unique about the experience they shared, he has nagging doubts. No matter what he felt during their night together, he can't be sure she felt the same way or even that the experience was genuine. The man is realistic. Isabella is an escort; she's paid to make men feel like they are something special. It is likely that every man who hires her leaves feeling that way.
Before he left Isabella that night, the auburn-haired man considered asking her out, but his doubts stopped his tongue. Though it was disappointing to simply walk away, the man would rather have the memory of that one night than that of a failed relationship. He's not a jealous man, and he likes to consider himself open-minded, especially when it comes to sex. He also knows that the woman's career will cause problems in any relationship they try to create.
So the man works, he dates, he spends time with friends, and he tries not to let the memory of that night color his interactions. He fails.
He wakes up some mornings hard and aching, knowing he's dreamt of Isabella. He remembers the way her lips felt under his, and the slow slide of her tongue when she kissed him. He remembers the way her pussy opened beneath his touch, the way her thighs trembled, and the low sound of hunger she made in her throat as his fingers moved. The man dreams about fucking Isabella and wonders how the heat of her pussy would feel on his cock. He imagines feeling her stiffen underneath him when she comes, her body pulsing around his while her raspy voice calls out his name.
There are few things he hasn't imagined doing to her.
When he wakes from his dreams of the dark-haired woman, bringing himself pleasure is not satisfying, even when he uses the dildo she gave him, remembering the way she fucked him. His hands tremble when he gets out of bed, and it takes time to settle them enough to perform the delicate work that violin-making requires. When he sits at his workbench, he remembers the way the woman's eyes lit up when he told her what he did for a living, and he wonders if she is a musician. He never had the chance to ask.
He doubts he ever will.
"Bella?" a voice asks, and the woman lifts her head from her phone, staring blankly at her boss for a moment before it registers that he is trying to get her attention.
She shifts in her seat, aware that she was lost in daydreams of Edward again. She crosses her legs and sits up straighter. "Sorry, Emmett."
The dimple in Emmett's cheek appears briefly as he shakes his dark head. "You've seemed distracted lately."
"I'm sorry," she apologizes again, knowing she needs to pull it together.
Ostensibly, Emmett owns a modeling agency and Bella is one of his models. It's a cover that works well with what she really does. Occasionally, she works the modeling shoots. They keep her portfolio up-to-date and help disguise what she's really paid for. Many of the women who work for Emmett are models and nothing more. His business is discreet and well-run, and she feels lucky to be working with him. Bella knows that she's part of a minority of women in the sex trade, who both like their job and are treated well. That's not to say she's never had a bad experience, but by and large, it's been good. Her self-esteem is healthy, her love of sex genuine.
Emmett is an excellent man to work for. He treats his escorts with respect and pays them very well. He screens potential clients carefully, and he loathes any kind of violence toward women. Bella suspects there's a story there involving his wife, Rosalie, but she's never asked. As kind as he is, Emmett is her boss, and he has high standards. Bella doesn't want to let him down.
"I suppose I have been a bit out of it," she admits as he eyes her speculatively.
"You aren't thinking about quitting, are you?"
"No." She shakes her head, but for one brief moment, she wonders how he'd respond if she said yes.
He nods, and he gives her another long, searching look. "You'll tell me if there's anything I can do, won't you?"
"Yes," she promises, meaning it.
They get back to business, discussing a new client with political connections who requires a level of discretion unlike any Bella has experienced previously. When they finish, she stands to leave, but Emmett stops her.
"Rosalie and I are having a cocktail party this weekend. You should come."
Bella is surprised; she rarely socializes with the boss and his wife outside of work. She wonders if there's someone that he wants her to meet, but Emmett doesn't elaborate.
"When?" she asks.
"Saturday night, seven o'clock."
She scans through her schedule, surprised to find that she's free that night; she's booked most Saturdays. "Sure," she agrees, "I'll be there."
Bella arrives at the party at the same time as several other guests, and Emmett's wife greets her warmly. Rosalie isn't an effusively friendly woman, but she's always been cordial, and the two women get along well. Bella drinks and mingles, falling into the easy rhythm of polite small talk. It's rare that she attends parties like this without being on the arm of a client, and she's surprised by the number of men who vie for her attention. She wonders if they would look at her differently if they knew the truth about her career, and she chuckles to herself.
Two hours into the party, Bella still has no idea why Emmett invited her, but he makes no move to introduce her to anyone in particular. She escapes onto the wide, stone balcony, drink in hand, fishing in her purse for a cigarette. She lights up and takes a long drag, liking the way the smoke looks against the lights of the city when she exhales.
The cigarette is almost finished when her skin prickles suddenly. A part of her is unsurprised when she hears her name spoken. Her heart leaps when she recognizes the voice.
"Isabella?" the man asks, and she turns to face him.
He looks shocked to see her, but there's a warmth in his eyes that she likes. She stands up, absently putting out the cigarette beneath the sole of her shoe and mentally apologizing to whoever will clean Emmett's balcony.
"Edward." Her voice is almost breathy, and she feels her heart speed up.
The man stares at her for a long moment, drinking in the sight of her. She's even more beautiful than he remembers, and he feels his body respond.
"Come here often?" he jokes, and they both smile, remembering his words to her at the hotel bar. He continues more seriously. "I didn't expect to see you here."
She nods. "I was surprised Emmett invited me. He rarely invites those of us who work for him."
"I've never seen you at his parties before."
"Are you close friends?" she asks in surprise. As far as she's aware, Emmett does not allow his personal and professional lives to mingle.
They're silent for a long time, both wanting to say something but unsure of what to say. Edward walks over to the balcony and rests his forearms on the wide stone ledge. Bella is sure the movement is unconscious, but when his ass juts toward her, she remembers being on her knees, Edward gasping as she presses her tongue against his skin. Heat travels through her, making her crave another cigarette.
"You didn't call me for a repeat of our night together," she says finally, her voice raspy.
Edward nods, still looking out at the city. "I thought about it."
"A part of me wishes you had," she admits.
He turns to look at her. "Just a part?"
Bella shrugs, feeling helpless. "The rest of me knows that no matter how good it was, we'd both be disappointed when it was over."
"Can I ask you a question?"
He stands up and walks over to the woman who has been occupying his thoughts. He stops right in front of her, too close for social conventions. She can feel the heat from his body and smell his cologne.
"Did any part of you want to see me again as something other than a client?" Edward almost surprises himself with the question, but he needs to know.
"Yes." Bella's hand grazes his forearm, and they both react. Her lips part and Edward's head lowers a little. With their eyes locked on each other, the tension builds, and both of them know how easy it would be to close the distance and kiss.
Edward's heart hammers in his chest as he fights the urge. Raising his hand, he brushes Bella's cheek with the backs of his fingers and her eyes flutter closed.
"This is a bad idea, Edward," she murmurs.
Edward pulls back at the last second with a low groan of frustration. He takes a seat on the chair nearby, one hand coming up to run through his hair.
Bella's hands clench into fists. She wants to smooth Edward's hair with her fingers, to soothe him. She wants ... more. To kiss and lick and suck and fuck him, but she knows those things are out of the question.
"I had to know," Edward finally says. "I had to know if you felt something that night."
"Of course I did." Bella's smile is soft and sad.
Edward shrugs as he looks at her. His voice is surprisingly gentle when he speaks again. "I am realistic about what you do, Isabella. I know it is your job to make your clients feel special; like they're the only ones."
She nods. "That's true. But I can't deny that I felt something with you beyond what I typically do."
"I don't know if I'm glad to hear that or not," Edward admits. "There's no way for us to work, is there?"
"Probably not." Bella's voice is regretful. "If circumstances were different …" Her words trail off, but Edward doesn't need Bella to finish her thought. They both know that if they could, they would see where this attraction would go. They are both sure it would take them far, and even surer that, given their current situation, it would inevitably fall apart.
"That's a shame," he says quietly, and she nods her agreement.
The silence stretches between them for a long moment. They're both hesitant to leave, but unsure of what to say.
"I saw your website," she finally says, taking a seat in the chair beside him.
Edward's mouth turns up at the corners; he likes the idea of her seeking him out in some small way. "You did, huh?"
"I'm impressed with your work."
"You know violins?"
Bella nods. "I went to Julliard for a year."
"Just a year?"
She swallows hard. It's been almost eight years, and she still finds it difficult to talk about. The curiosity in Edward's eyes makes her want to tell him the story.
"It was stupid, one of those fluke accidents. My hand was slammed in a car door." She bends the fingers on her left hand reflexively, remembering the pain. Sometimes in bad weather, it still aches.
Edward leans forward, taking her hand, his rough fingertips running gently across her skin. He cradles her small hand between his much larger two, and Bella feels herself flush with heat at his touch.
He hadn't intended to touch Bella, but her remembered pain is palpable. He wanted only to soothe her, but he likes the feel of her hand in his. He remembers those delicate hands moving over—and inside—his body. Edward shifts in his seat, his cock growing hard. There is nothing he'd like better in that moment than to feel Bella's hands on him again. Except maybe to know that she'll stay afterward, and maybe more nights after that.
"How bad was the accident?" he asks, trying to distract himself from his impossible thoughts.
Bella's face is in shadow, and it's difficult to see her expression, but the way her fingers suddenly grip his tells him everything.
"Bad," she murmurs. "Two of the fingers were badly broken, and the other two sustained fractures. It took time for the breaks to heal and then months of physical therapy. By the time my hand was functional, I had lost my scholarship. Even if I hadn't, I lost some of the dexterity and strength in my fingers. I just couldn't play at that level anymore."
Edward bends slightly, lifting Bella's hand to his lips. She feels them brush, soft and warm, over her fingers in mute apology for what she suffered. He understands. Her heart clenches at his tender gesture.
"Do you still play?" he asks.
"Sometimes. I did at first, constantly, hoping I'd get the strength and dexterity back, but it never returned. Over time, I began to play less often. It's been months since I picked up my violin."
Edward's heart aches for her, knowing what it must have been like to give up dreams of a career as a musician. The unspoken question lingers between them. He wonders how she went from being a student at Julliard to becoming a high-end escort.
Bella looks at him steadily for a long moment before she acknowledges what she is sure he must be wondering.
"My scholarship for school was only partial. Between the loans and my medical bills …" she shrugs, her voice trailing off. "My friend Charlotte was already working for Emmett, and she knew I needed the money. I figured why not? I like sex, and I knew I could make a lot of money doing something I enjoyed. I'm good at my job."
"Yes, you are," Edward says with a faint smile, and she chuckles softly.
Bella's mood has turned melancholy, and she turns the tables rather than dwelling uncomfortably on her past. "Tell me about yourself, Edward. How did you come to make violins?"
"I learned woodworking from my grandfather as a child. I made my first instrument at the age of thirteen. I played guitar and piano when I was small, but I truly fell in love with music when I picked up the violin for the first time. The only thing I loved more than playing instruments was building them. After I graduated from high school, I moved to the city to apprentice with a master maker, learning everything I could. I opened my shop five years ago, and it took off from there."
Bella looks at him with rapt attention, and he flushes at her praise. Suddenly, Edward wishes he could show her his favorite violin and see it in her hands. He can picture her delicate fingers moving over it, working the bow the way she'd worked his body. His cock throbs at the image.
"I wish …" Edward says gruffly, his voice trailing off as his hand drops away.
The fingertips of Bella's free hand come up to skim over Edward's cheek, and he unconsciously leans in to her touch. The crackling tension between them flares again. Slowly, Edward raises one hand to ghost an index finger along the hollow of Bella's throat. The whispering touch makes her mouth go dry with desire. It takes everything within Edward to stop himself from pulling Bella to him roughly and kissing the soft curve of her mouth.
Bella's breaths are shallow, strained as she struggles to take air in. Edward's eyes are dark and hungry, promising her things she can't have.
The moment is interrupted when Rosalie steps out onto the balcony. "I'm sorry." Rosalie's eyes flick between the man and the woman, taking in the tension between them, and she wonders what their history is. She finds it interesting that they pull apart slowly, Bella's hand moving from Edward's cheek almost reluctantly; Edward's hand releasing Bella's with a lingering caress. "I didn't realize anyone was still out here."
"I'm sorry," Bella says, standing. "We'll go."
Together, they wish Rosalie goodnight. The party is nearly over, the last few guests leaving, and Emmett is nowhere in sight.
Edward and Bella stop on the sidewalk outside of the building, turning to face each other.
Bella knows that if she asks Edward to go home with her, he will.
Edward knows that if he kisses Bella, she will respond.
Neither of them moves. Instead, they stare at each other for a long time before Bella finally exhales and gives him a small, sad smile. "I should go."
Edward nods, knowing it's best that they part. "Me, too."
Bella moves to leave but turns abruptly and leans in, rising up on her toes to brush her lips against the corner of Edward's mouth.
She wants to taste him so badly, she aches for it.
He wants to touch her so badly, he can taste it.
"I wish, too," Bella says, echoing his words up on the balcony.
She wishes she was still a violinist. She wishes she had never taken the job as an escort. But mostly, she wishes that she could make Edward hers.
Bella walks away, hailing a cab as soon as she sees one, refusing to look back. If she sees him standing there waiting for her, she'll cave.
Edward watches her leave, wishing she'd turn around one last time to look at him, but she doesn't.
Bella has never resented her job until now.
Notes: Well, unfortunately, it's not going to be an easy road for those two. We're eager to know what you think of the chapter, and how you think things might go between them.