Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, situations, etc. are the property of their respective owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
Beta'd by SunflowerFran.
Mistakes are my own.
Hoodrat and Abadkitty pre-read. Luvtwilight4eva devastating heartache approved.
The weather delayed the laying of Edward's roof for nearly a month, so he was holed up with me in his cabin, week after week, stuck playing either Monopoly or Scrabble. Not that I was complaining; spending the cold, November nights sprawled in front of Edward's fireplace was something I'd become accustomed to quickly.
Passing the rainy afternoons locked up with Edward reminded me of simpler times - the times my grandma would talk about back when she was a little girl. I was envious of her life back then, how her face would light up whenever she spoke of those times. It made me somewhat sad that life in this little coastal town was probably the closest I'd ever come to experiencing what she had. It was easy, and for the most part, carefree. At least it would be until next spring, when I would attempt to grow my own vegetables, and try my hand tending to a few apple trees. Which reminded me ...
"Hey, you keep buying up all the property and pretty soon this is just gonna be a … Uh …"
"A what? A monopoly?" Edward smirked and I shot him a glare, giving him a firm shove in the shoulder. His chuckle was like music to my ears. Faint. A sound I only had the pleasure of hearing a few times before. My eyes raked over his relaxed form, from the white V-neck he filled out perfectly, down to the red, flannel pants he wore so well. His feet were bare, just the way I liked them. However, I was still annoyed. Extremely annoyed ...
"Smart ass," I grumbled, studying his smirking face, unable to help my own because I wasn't really annoyed at all. He was like the Rain Man of board games, taking me for all I was worth before leaving me slack-jawed. It was as endearing as it was frustrating. Everything he said left me pleasantly surprised, and not surprisingly - speechless.
"What's mine is yours or haven't you learned?" He asked, the shimmer of the crackling fire gleaming off his glasses. The declaration left me momentarily breathless. I was forever blushing. He was always saying sweet things, things I wasn't expecting him to say, let alone be thinking. I loved what it did to the sensitive lining of my stomach almost as much as I loved those glasses - them and the beard, and the way that he sometimes watched me when he didn't think I was paying attention. These were the little things that drew me to him. Take his impressively extensive vocabulary, for example; who knew Jonquil was even a word?
As it turned out, he knew a lot. A lot about nothing, which was truly something. He had a wealth of useless information crammed into that wild-haired head of his, and he came to life when he shared it. One crack and it all came flooding out, drowning me in a sea of giddiness and painfully wide smiles. It was fun learning about him inadvertently. And the things I found out through the tidbits he shared only made the feelings I had for him root themselves all that much deeper.
He liked to read, but only non-fiction. He spent hours devouring do-it-yourself handbooks and lengthy biographies, and all the while wearing the glasses.
Again, those glasses …
Amazingly enough, the flowers planted in his mother's English garden were picked and singlehandedly planted by him. He also helped design and build her beautiful kitchen, which led me to ask, "Why in the hell would you even want my opinion on the project in the first place?"
Picking up the dice, I shook them around in my hand.
"I want you to move in with me."
Numbness settled itself on the edge of my lips and the center of my chest as the dice dropped from between my lax fingers. They hit the board as loud as thunder cracking across the darkened, November sky. Only it wasn't storming. Not outside. No. The only storm remotely close to brewing was the one inside of me. His words being so unexpected, I was surprised, to say the least—floored was more like it.
I mean, really?
Was he serious?
Fixing my eyes on the center of the game board, I picked up the thimble, rolling the cool silver between the pads of my fingers, moving up six spaces before setting it back down on one of Edward's many properties. I didn't know what to say. I just counted out what I owed him in orange and blue paper, handing it over.
But he refused.
"Keep it and say you'll move in. We'll call it even," he proposed, sliding the stack of colorful bills back across the board in front of me. It was a risky move, but I didn't have the heart to voice my concerns at that moment. I didn't want to give him any excuse to take it back, because frankly, I didn't want him to take it back. So, with a small smile I simply agreed.
It was on rare occasion when I didn't have Edward deep inside of me, leaving us both sprawled out and spent, sweating on the fleece sheets. As much as I loved those nights, I found the more sedate ones just as nice. Lazily laying there, all forty fingers and toes touching. It was becoming the new norm - this late night, let-me-get-to-know-you pillow talk.
I liked it. It was quickly becoming my favorite.
They always started out simple and innocent enough. Likes and dislikes easing into long-lost hopes and dreams. I found I'd learned a lot about Edward just through watching him, the things he did, and the things he said - when he actually decided to speak. His actions spoke a whole lot louder than his words, but they didn't hurt. Nothing about him hurt anymore.
Did I mention that he sometimes wore glasses?
He looked good in them - too good. So good I could eat him, especially while lying in bed, shirtless and sucked into a book. The worn cover of the yellowing pages flipped lazily against his roughened thumb. It was mesmerizing. At least, it was to me. I could lie beside him for hours uselessly flipping through the home decor magazines I'd started to collect, but secretly side-eyeing him around the glossy pages. For as much as I learned about him, he was still a great mystery.
Dropping my magazine on the floor, I turned over to face him, running a nail down the length of his arm then back up again. The sound coming from his throat told me he liked it. "Tell me about this Stonewall," I requested, running my nails lightly over his chest. "Did he lead an interesting life?"
I didn't want to be a bother, but he felt a million miles away, lost in literary land. His attention was like a drug, and I was feening.
"More sad than anything," he mused, his thoughts forming a worry line down the center of his forehead. I copied his expression while he kept his eyes on the typed words before him. "He knew loss, saw a lot of death, wasn't very well liked." Sniffing, he wiped an itch from his nose and then turned the page.
The action made me realize that I had stopped moving, resting my hand over his left pectoral. It was impossible not to notice when it hardened under my hand.
"It doesn't bother you to read about war?" I asked, somewhat regretfully when Edward closed the book, then set it on the nearby nightstand. Squeezing his eyes shut, the weathered pads of his thumbs massaged the bridge of his nose before they ghosted down his face to stroke his beard. Eyes trained on the ceiling, he was seemingly lost in thought, somewhat hesitant to explain.
"It was, at first" he started, "...Hard to think about the time I spent overseas. I became angry. Bitter. Got lost in my own self-pity until I just wasn't anymore," shrugging, he cleared his throat. "Until you came along anyway …"
"Me?" I screeched. "What did I do?" Popping up, I twisted to face him, and he sighed, trying his hardest to distract me by scratching the underside of his jaw. Feeling self-conscious, I fingered a loose string hanging from his threadbare flannel I had stolen. It matched his red bottoms.
"I knew you didn't like me," I admitted playfully at first, my pout turning into a frown when he didn't deny it right away. I knew it was silly to feel hurt, but I still did, just thinking about a time when Edward didn't want me around. Suddenly the bathroom was calling my name. I pushed the covers away at the same time Edward grabbed my wrist.
"No," he said, pulling me back to scoot in closer. His warmth surrounded and ran through me, sliding across my skin as softly as the sheets. Tilting my chin up he forced me to look at him.
"The problem was I liked you too much," he confessed, sliding his thumb across my bottom lip. "Still do."
Encouraging me to lie down on the bed, he followed, positioning himself innocently between my legs. He was attentive, and it was sweet, how he studied me, pushing the hair from my forehead, and staring into my eyes.
"I noticed you before you even saw me," he told me, plunging my heart into a tailspin. It was beating so fast I could hardly breathe. "Barefoot and braless," he smirked. "I think it's safe to say we all noticed you."
Placing a soft kiss over my pulse point, he took in a slow, deep breath. "Your scent's been stuck in my nose since the moment you bumped into me. Sweet and spicy, almost as if I could already taste you."
My body was reacting to his words, taking me back to that first day. His scent had stuck with me, too.
"The more time I spent with you, the more I wanted you," he admitted into the bend of my neck, lightly skimming the skin with his lips. His beard felt unusually soft, and smelled a touch too feminine, making me wonder if he'd used my shampoo and conditioner. The thought was endearing, though I liked the smell of his better. "I always want you."
"I always want you, too," I told him, trailing kisses across his cheek, sighing into his mouth when they met. His weight kept me sane, as his fingers trailed softly up my thighs. His tongue stroked mine patiently, distracting while his thumbs hooked through the waist of my panties. I lifted, allowing him to slide them down, trying not to whine when he sat back on his knees to pull them the rest of the way off. I watched his hands, his thumbs as they dipped inside the waist of his flannel bottoms.
"I imagined what you felt like every night until I touched you," he told me, taking me back to that night in Rose's hallway. My stomach flipped. It seemed like so long ago; we'd come such a long way. It was the only time I'd let a practical stranger touch me. And not just because it was the first time one that ever tried.
"I shouldn't have done that. I should have asked you," he atoned, the fabric catching on the head of his cock causing it to spring out, and bounce up and down and then back up again. Gripping the shaft, he lightly stroked it from base to tip.
"Do you want me to touch you?" he asked, swiping his thumb over the leaking precum, and my heart hopped up into my throat. For the first time ever, he asked, and my heart was stuck in my goddamn throat. "Did you?"
Swallowing it down, I nodded. "Yes."
I spread my legs further open, welcoming his weight again as he leaned forward and pressed his lips to mine. The head of his cock teased lazily, spreading me slowly, inch by blessed inch. I fed him a low moan once he'd fully settled inside.
I liked this side of him, somewhat naughty and a bit bossy. He had always dominated me with his hands, but this was different. I wanted him to talk to me more. It was fucking mind blowing.
Keep talking I pleaded internally, huffing out a breath as he pulled back, then forcefully thrust forward.
"You drove me crazy in that little white dress," he growled. "Another man's hands all over you." The possession in his voice caused my stomach to clench and flutter just like the night that I caught him looking, watching intently as Peter played with my strap. I liked having his eyes on me. I liked that he felt the need to stake his claim. It was disturbing the amount of satisfaction I took out of it.
"Did you want him to touch you?" he asked, pulling back to thrust forward again. He pushed into me with a swivel of his hips.
His breath was hot against my ear, his words low and rumbling from deep inside his chest. It slid against mine with every thrust, the small hairs tickling me between my breasts. Glancing down, I watched his hands as they kneaded the bend in my hips. They were rough and needy, pinning me down on the bed. His fucking hands and how he used them. My head was spinning. Jesus saves. I loved those fucking hands.
"Say you want me," he demanded, giving my hips a hard squeeze. So hard I half expected him to pull back and slap it.
"Fuck. I want you."
"Tell me you want it."
Removing a hand from my hip, he turned my head to face him, using it to hold my jaw in place. "Tell me."
Toes curling, my eyes met his before they rolled into the back of my head. Spinning, spinning, spinning. My mind was turning to mush.
Holy fuck, who was this man?
"I want it. I want you."
His lips crashed into mine and I raked my nails over the hardened muscle in his chest, winding my arms around his neck. My legs wrapped themselves around him, gripping his waist like a vise. I held on tight as he picked up speed. His movements were selfish, but sufficient, and soon I was soaring, crashing hard and fast while he jerked and swore, grunting as he came inside of me.
He went to move, but I kept him in place, willing him to lie down and rest on top of me. Hell, he could sleep there if he wanted to. I didn't need to breathe, not like this. I smiled to myself when he gave in, sliding his forearms under my shoulders, and laying his head on my chest. My fingers wove into his hair, and my nails grazed his scalp. His approving purr rumbled against my belly. We laid there until our breaths evened out and he started to snore, waking himself with a cute, little snort. I pouted to myself when he wiped a pool of drool from my breast and then rolled off me. Turning to my side, I cuddled up to him. It was cold without him near.
"Hey, what's your favorite color?" I wondered, running the pad of my thumb along the creases in his open palm, realizing I hadn't thought to ask before that moment.
Humming, he shrugged one shoulder.
"Blue, I guess."
Another shrug and he turned over to his back, bringing my free hand with him. He continued toying with my fingers.
"S'what it used to be," he mumbled, letting a long yawn loose. Propping myself on an elbow, I rested my head in my hand, questioning him with a creased brow, and weighted frown.
"So what ... It isn't anymore?"
Threading our fingers, he brought them to his chest with a sigh.
"No ... It still is."
Most of his answers sounded like this, uncertain, and discussed in the past tense as if he didn't know who he was anymore. And maybe he didn't. Maybe he had lost himself somewhere along the way.
If that were the case, then I wouldn't have blamed him. I doubted anyone would have blamed him. It was unlikely he'd been asked those little, overlooked things after his injury, seeing as how his family and friends already knew the answers. It was clear that he didn't, not really. Neither did I, but I wanted to.
I wanted to know everything.
I needed to know everything, and soon, unless I actually got my period. It would still be nice to know regardless—for future reference and all.
Eyes closed, he hummed.
I fought with my mouth to make it move and say the things I was trying to say, to ask what it didn't seem to want to ask. My gut sprung all the way up into my throat, threatening projectile vomit instead of words.
"Do you …"
Edward's eyes were closed, and his brow was pinched, his hum sounding far off as if he were fighting a losing battle with sleep. He looked so relaxed and comfortable that I almost dropped it.
"Doyouwantkids?" I finally spewed forth in one, jumbled up mess. My nervous gaze locked in on our hands, how they fit. It was fascinating the way they wound around one another, threaded, so they almost became one. I was terrified of his answer … terrified that he would say yes, but even more terrified that he would say no.
Please don't say no.
I glanced up, meeting his sure eyes just before he answered. He didn't even hesitate in his reply.
"Yeah …" he assured, wiping away my worried frown with one, gentle kiss, "I do."
We were well into December before Edward finally finished the roof on his house.
I was sick of painting. Straight up sick of it, and beyond grateful, when he hired a couple of the guy's kids to do all eight rooms. I was exhausted, physically and mentally, too tired to worry about the color of the walls in Edward's house when I still hadn't finished the walls in mine. I had more important things to think about, like my dwindling bank account, and what I was going to do for money. I had no special training outside of bartending, and they weren't hiring at the one bar in town. It was family owned and operated, and I was far from family. Hell, I could barely pass as an acquaintance.
These thoughts kept me company as I stripped the walls in the family room of my own home. I thought of Edward and the move, of being jobless, and about what the hell I was going to do with my house.
It didn't make sense to keep it if I were going to be moving in with Edward. This brought on an entirely new set of worries.
What if it didn't work out?
Where would I go?
What if I found myself in the same situation with Edward as I did withBen?
I didn't want to think about that. I didn't want to put Edward in the same category as Ben, but Ben hadn't always been the villain. I loved him at one time, and never expected things to turn out the way they did. The ending of my relationship with him, as well as, the friendship with Angie left me questioning everything, and everyone around me. I hated it. Hated the way I had to re-evaluate the people I loved the most. Hated the mistrust I grew to find in others.
Cradling my stomach, I breathed through a cramp. The stress of everything was getting to me, and I was starting to show physical symptoms - crying, cramps, all around acting like one, moody bitch. I didn't want to think that way about Edward, but I did. The honeymoon period was rolling over into reality, and deep down I knew I'd come to regret it if I sold my house too soon.
I didn't know why I felt so bad holding onto it. Edward hadn't questioned me about the future of my home; whether I would sell or keep it, leading me to believe that he was leaving that decision entirely up to me.
It was as daunting as it was a relief that he trusted me to make the right choice, to pave my own path in our future together. He was brilliant that way, allowing me to be my own person, relinquishing all control to keep from trying to change me. Then again, maybe he was changing me, helping me find my own way back to the person I used to be - whoever that was.
The breeze blowing in through the open windows had nothing on the fumes in the stripping solution I was using. The strong vapors caused a burning sensation to creep into my nose, and brought tears pricking at the corners of my eyes. They slipped down my cheeks, then splattered against the paper shavings scattered across the floor.
Sniffing, I wiped them away with the sleeve of my shirt, escaping out onto the porch for some much needed fresh air. It was cold outside, but I welcomed it, how it numbed my fingers and toes, forcing all my heat toward the center. I sat down on the top step, stretching my hem over my bare legs to watch the tree branches bend. My soundtrack was the sound of them whining under the strain.
The tears continued to flow long after the vapors had disappeared, the suffocating chemical smell floating away on the crisp, November breeze. The crunching sound of gravel had never been so unwelcome, as I stood, choking on a whole different suffocation - the site of my own blood pooling on the porch.