Chapter Thirteen—Two Weeks
I spent the night again, and it should bother me, since it wasn't something I did so soon in previous relationships. It did not, though. Instead, I had other troubling thoughts on my mind. It was strange, despite my recent disturbing revelations of my past relationships; I felt contentment as I lay with Bella in my arms.
I have not felt such a thing in all my life.
Soft fingers traced complex shapes on my chest, her breath fanning across my skin. We'd been up for over an hour, which we spent exercising our need for each other. It was a desire that never seemed to diminish between us. No matter how many times we had come together in the last thirty-seven hours, it never seemed to be enough.
"What has you thinking so hard?" she whispered and added a soft press of her lips on my chest. Such a simple touch of her mouth had me craving her again, but she had to be sore. Perhaps a bath was in order. The antique claw foot tub in her bathroom appeared big enough for two.
"I'm thinking that it's time for another bath."
I heard her hard sigh, felt the breath of it against my skin. Her fingers turned to claws for a millisecond before she propped herself up to meet my wary gaze. She soothed the sting with a brush of her fingertips.
"Don't do that," she said, her eyes narrowing. The pinch of her brows bothered me enough that I smoothed it out with my thumb, sweeping some of her fallen hair behind her ear.
I didn't bother to ask her to clarify, since it was obvious she knew something was on my mind.
"I reevaluated my past relationships before I came here for dinner," I stated, running my fingers through her hair, smiling a little when they caught on a tangle. She slapped at my chest, scowling and pulling away.
"It's your fault it's a mess," she said, laughing slightly as she grabbed a brush from inside her nightstand. She waved it around as she sat on the edge of her bed, sheet wrapped loosely around her chest, still leaving her indecently covered.
I wanted to remove it, watch her breathe and her skin flush with color.
"Continue, what you were saying, please. Something about your sordid past." She was teasing, but something in her eyes told me she wasn't comfortable with the topic.
"It's not sordid," I said, rolling my eyes as I smoothed a hand over her hip. "As I was saying, I looked back and didn't like what I saw."
The hairbrush, poised over the crown of her head, and she dropped it on the nightstand. She turned to me fully, placing her hand on my chest.
I seemed to read her more easily, sometimes. Her touch, her undivided attention was to show her support. An unwavering gaze, soft, kissable lips had me reaching for a kiss.
My hand swept behind her neck, fingers threading into her hair as I pulled her closer. My lips explored, lingered, and tempted her to open for more. She was still minty from when she brushed her teeth earlier.
Breathless, she was the first to pull away. "You're trying to distract me."
I smiled, thumbing the corner of her mouth. "I was about to say the same about you."
She grinned and tossed her head back to laugh. "Keep going."
"I've had only long term relationships."
"You said that before. Your longest was over two years and the shortest was your last, at a little over four months."
"I don't have hundreds of notches on my bed post either."
"Because of your mother," she whispered thoughtfully, rubbing a hand over my chest again. Pulling her down to lay down again, I settled her against my side.
"There was that, but also because I have to be careful. One night stands could lead to leaks to the media and those stories could reflect poorly on me and my company."
"And you want to stand out amongst the rest of the so called rich playboy CEOs." Seattle did have its fair share of rich, spoiled playboys.
My brow furrowed. "That may be, though it wasn't a conscious choice."
She propped herself up on an elbow to look at me. "Edward, the only reason you are in the public eye other than money and your company is because of your looks. You're one of the best looking business billionaires I know."
She rubbed a hand over my jaw, lightly scratching at the stubble. I had learned the morning before that she enjoyed the feel of it against her skin. That thought made me remember our shower earlier, it wasn't helping my need to focus.
I pinched my eyes shut, attempting to control myself to continue our conversation. "That list of names just popped in my head, and though I am not one to boast, you're quite right."
She giggled and I couldn't help but pull her closer. My lips lingered on her hair as she laughed quietly. I hated to ruin the easy, playful banter with my past. She wanted to know, so I would tell her.
"Despite my long term relationships, I realized that most were business arrangements or simply someone to show off as you had so eloquently put it before. They served a purpose, whether it was business or pleasure, there was no real emotions behind them."
"What happened with your last relationship?" she asked, dropping her eyes to her wandering fingers that danced on my chest.
"She cheated on me."
She cursed under her breath, and her little claws came out again. "There were pictures of her taken on the side of some fancy apartment building with all her things stacked around her."
"I was paying for her rent, and for her classes to finish her Masters, and other things."
She looked thoroughly confused, stunned. "Why?"
"It was part of my relationship package. I thought I had to take care of them, and I did. When I started the relationship, a credit card account was established for her, I provided a suitable place for me to stay when…"
"When you showed them your fantastic love making skills," she teased, looking hard at her fingers again.
"You don't like hearing about them, do you?" I whispered, sliding a hand along her arm. She shook her head. "You have nothing to worry about, that's why I'm telling you. This is different from anything I've had before. What I'm trying to say, they were a means to an end and I found it rather empty when I looked back."
"I don't want you leaving my bed to find yourself feeling like that," she whispered, looking up at me with soft eyes.
"As long as I can come back, I don't think that will be a problem," I murmured, kissing her softly. "Though, perhaps I will miss you."
She blushed, bouncing up to sit on her knees. The sheet that kept her modest fell to the bed. She straddled me, a knee on each side of my hips.
"I'll miss you, too," she whispered, pressing her lips on mine. It was a teasing touch and ended too soon. "Thanks for helping me plant my annuals and weed my garden yesterday."
"I had never done anything like that," I said as I placed my hands on her hips. "I found it rather soothing." Growing up, my mother and I had only lived in apartment complexes. We never had a yard to tend to; my mother would've enjoyed it.
"You're horribly off key." She laughed, wrapping her arms around my shoulders. "You kept singing the wrong words to…"
I didn't give her a chance to continue as I took her mouth with a ferocity that I hadn't expected. I had never laughed so much in bed with a lover. Never had as much fun.
"Whoa," she gasped when I allowed her to breathe again. "If we're going to continue, maybe a bath would be a good idea.
"You read my mind."
We spent the rest of Sunday in various rooms in her house, relaxing and discussing some project or another. Shortly after dinner, I suggested that I could have someone pick up the tile she wanted for the second bath.
She threw the catalog at me.
My easy reading of her expressions and actions were already gone. I couldn't understand why she was so angry with me.
"What was that for?"
"You spent several minutes talking about your money grubbing exes this morning and you want to buy me expensive tile."
While in a bath, she asked if any of my former lovers denied any of the gifts, credit cards, or money. None of them had, which made her believe they were as guilty.
"I didn't say I would pay for it." She cocked an eyebrow at my statement, hands on her hips. "All right, I was going to pay for it."
"I appreciate gifts here and there, but I don't need handouts."
"You making sure this place is finished will not be a part of the relationship requirements." I cringed, because she was right. When she put it that way, it sounded similar to my previous relationships. It was a hard habit to break. "I'm waiting for escrow to close for two houses and I will have more than enough to buy it then." I stared at her for a moment too long in silence, feeling confused. "What is it now, Edward?"
"I don't know if you're telling me what I want to hear."
She said nothing at first, taking my hand, and leading me toward the kitchen. "Please take a seat." She pointed at a stool as she walked over to the refrigerator. "I'm sorry I threw the book at you. You'll learn that I have a quick temper. It deflates just as fast though."
"You surprise me," I said, rubbing the place where the book struck. "Are you always so violent?"
She tried not to laugh as she handed me a beer. "No, I'm not. I'm scared about all this. I haven't allowed myself to be caught up in anyone in a long time. The fact that you have money and all this damn power makes it hard for me to trust you."
I took a healthy sip as I searched for the right words. "That's because of Logan's father, isn't it?"
"Yes." She took a long drink of a bottleneck. After a moment, she looked me again. "For you to trust me, money or credit shouldn't be exchanged. I think we'll both be learning how to be in a real relationship if this continues."
It was another out, but one I didn't need.
"There is no if." Her answering smile eased my worries, for the moment.
.Returning to work the following day was harder than I expected it to be, but tougher yet was the feel of an empty bed. I did manage to get some work done, and by lunch, I was neck deep in paperwork, emails, and calls.
I arranged for a business meeting in New York in three weeks, a trip I hoped Bella would be able to join me. My assistant reminded me of the black tie charity event the following week. I sent a quick email to Bella, asking if she'd attend as my date for the gala.
I hadn't heard from her for over an hour, but I knew she was being careful since she was likely roofing. It was hard once again to concentrate knowing that she was walking around on a roof with an inexperienced employee.
By two in the afternoon, she answered my email.
To: Edward Masen
From: Bella Swan
Subject: Re: An invitation guaranteed to bore you
With that titillating subject heading, I was afraid to open your email. I knew exactly what event you were you referring to, one that my father has tried to have me attend for years. I was always sick—conveniently—during this event.
But in the spirit of learning, I will be honored to attend the gala with you. Now, let me give you an invitation of my own.
I have in my closet several new gowns and now have somewhere to wear one of them. I plan to have a mini fashion show tomorrow night if you would like to attend.
Before I typed out a reply, my cell phone started to ring. "Hello, Bella," I answered after I checked the screen display.
"Sorry, I thought I'd call to confirm plans for tomorrow night since I can't today," she said slightly out of breath. If she was still on a job site, she was probably hot under the unusually warm weather that plagued Seattle in May. "My dad will not be happy if I break dinner plans tonight."
As if she were standing before me, I swore I could see the pout on her face. "You're afraid of his interrogation."
"I don't understand why you don't just tell me what happened when he came to talk to you."
"It was nothing I couldn't handle and everything I expect a father to do when he's watching out for his daughter and grandchild."
"Fine," she said, there was a short pause, before she added something quickly. "I didn't like waking up without you this morning."
I smiled, wide enough that my assistant who was at the door looked stricken and stunned. It wasn't often that I did such a thing at work.
"It paled in comparison to the past two mornings," I replied, despite my audience.
Bella's early mornings made it almost impossible for her to stay at my place and we were trying to allow things to take a natural course. It hadn't been two weeks since we met and already we were moving faster than our previous relationships.
We blamed the attraction and chemistry.
"All right," she said softly. "I need to go back to work. I'll talk to you tomorrow."
Waving my assistant inside the office, I replied, "Tomorrow."
By the time Bella tried on the second dress the following night, I had to have her. It was safe to say she could not wear the little blue sheath dress since it suffered a few tears under our eager hands.
It was a beautiful dress and one I wanted to see her wear. I had one purchased and delivered to her house the following day. She showed up in my office an hour later, ranting that she wasn't like the others and she could afford to buy her own damn clothes.
Her anger was justified, somewhat, and she looked amazing as she ranted. I spent five minutes explaining that I felt guilty for ruining the dress in my haste to get inside her.
Under the press of my lips and lash of my tongue, her anger dissipated, and I took a late and very long lunch with her. She wore the blue dress out to dinner with me that Friday and we spent the weekend together again.
After waking up to another Monday morning alone, we decided to take turns at each other's homes, starting that weekend. It was strange to have a woman in my bed again, though welcomed where Bella was concerned. I had purchased a new bedroom set with her in mind, her sense of comfort in my home was important.
The first time she spent the night in my apartment, but we were exhausted, we only slept. She had worked late to meet a deadline to be ready for an inspection the following Monday, and I had a quick day trip to California to one of my labs. We slipped into bed well after midnight, naked and tired from the hard day, and looking forward to another weekend together.
The gala was the next night and Bella was staying until Sunday afternoon. As I drifted off to sleep, I pulled her in close, earning a soft sigh and a whispered, "Good night."
I'd known Bella for three weeks and she already owned me. She wasn't aware it seemed. It would be wise for it to stay that way for now. Every time she caught me staring, she'd ask what was wrong or if I needed something. She was completely unaware that I simply took pleasure in looking at her.
I awoke the next morning ready for her. She hummed softly, her body pliant under my hands and mouth. "Good morning." My voice was still rough from sleep.
She hummed again in reply, gasping at the bite of my teeth on her nipple. Another sleepy moan escaped her as I ended my teasing torment and slipped the tiny bud inside my mouth. She hissed, her fingers tightening in my hair, as her legs, silky smooth slid up my calves.
"So soft," I whispered, nuzzling the hollow of her throat. The scent of her and her warmth not only started to build my lust, but also a possessiveness I had never experienced started to emerge.
"Mine. You are mine." I gathered each of her knees in my hands, shifting her legs enough to slam inside her. She cried out, hands clutching my shoulders, head tipped up as her body welcomed me completely. Propped up on my arms, I watched her body move beneath mine. Thrust after thrust, she met my every move, adding a few of her own. A twist that had me groaning in pleasure, a roll that made me hiss.
Naked, warm, wet, she was a beautiful heaven in my otherwise hard-edged world.
Her vibrant eyes were ardent-glazed and hooded as she held my gaze. Dark hair fanned against the Egyptian cotton white sheets that I always believed were the softest thing I could lay my head on, until I spent the night in her arms, pillowed by fragrant skin and lulled to sleep with the song of her heart.
"Yours," she gasped as she tilted her hips just so, to take more of me inside her. Her fingers were whisper soft on my face, a contradiction to the fervor of our moving, sweat-slick bodies. A look on her face had me slowing down. I needed to hear what she had to say. "Are you mine, Edward?"
Sweat started to drip down my back and bead across my brow. In this state of vulnerability, she was sweet, innocent, and deserved everything I could give her. I bent to kiss her, pressing our bodies together.
I cradled her face in my hands and showed her my answer. Chest to chest, I felt the beat of her heart against mine. I whispered words against her neck. In case she hadn't heard my words on her skin, I pressed my lips to her ear as she came undone.
"I am yours."