Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer owns all.

Rated M for several reasons.

Chapter 47 The Inch Worm

BPOV

Reality becomes a series of imprinted snapshots over a backing track of howling wind, driving rain, rustling fabrics and low humming . . . .

My fingers tighten on his elbows as his lips move purposefully against mine.

The stiffening wind whips waves onto the beach and snaps my now sodden skirt against my legs.

Edward's tongue strokes sensuously across my lips.

The scudding clouds cover the moon shrouding the sand, and us, in almost total darkness.

I open my mouth, desperate to finally taste him, letting the wind push my immovable body into his. Moaning when his tongue slides into my mouth, caressing and tasting my own. Moving my flexing hands up his arms and across his shoulders until I can sink my fingers into his hair and swallow his moan . . . .

My knees go . . . .

My mind goes . . . .

Then he goes . . . .

Leaving me alone in the storm with his parting words and rapidly dissipating scent for company.

...

Eventually, still in shock, but impelled to do something I bestir myself and trudge home. Soaked to the skin and strangely, given that I'm a vampire, concerned with the fact that I'm not shivering uncontrollably and don't feel cold.

I skirt upwind of Rose and Em who are 'hunting' and, a few miles further on, Freya and Jasper who are, mercifully, actually hunting.

As promised Edward isn't there when I get back to the house, just Carlisle.

Girding my mental loins I let myself in, pausing in the foyer when I feel his eyes on me.

I turn slowly, shedding water all over the floor, to find him staring at me over the top of a book from the leather armchair in his study, firelight dancing across his handsome face.

"You look well ravaged." He observes with the hint of a smile.

"The, um, weather, is um, terrible."

He cocks his head as if he can't already clearly hear the wind trying to tear the roof off.

"Quite the storm." He muses. "Still, I'm sure we can easily deal with any fallout."

I groan and he smiles at me properly before dropping his eyes back to the book.

...

The next day we gardened.

And I mean we. For some bizarre reason everyone in Casa Cullen decided to help out. Edward didn't, because he still wasn't 'in'.

Still, many hands make light work and we got the storm damage repaired and some new plants in before we drifted off to other pursuits.

Blonde Ambition's site has attracted some attention to Breaking Dawn so I lose myself for the rest of the night in creative outlines and quotes. Carlisle visits his patient, Rose and Freya plan next week's schedule for the shop and Em and Jasper do, whatever it is they do when not being properly supervised.

...

On Monday morning I see them all off to their 'lives'.

And by lunchtime I'm hanging upside down from one of our trees, like a vampire bat, swinging gently to and fro while I fret and wait for them to come home from work and distract me . . . .

...

Tuesday I take all morning to talk myself through a grocery run into town. It's an innocuous enough activity but a big deal to me, especially as its going to be my first solo sortie. Don't breathe unless you have to speak. Pretend to breathe at all other times. Move slowly. Blink. Fidgeting is not the same has involuntary muscle spasms, keep it real. Buy food you can actually make meals out of. Sniff the produce not the patrons. Hunt before you go.

I finally pluck up the courage after lunch.

And, apart from the burn, it was nowhere near as bad as I expected. I might have recognised half the people in there but Scappoose is a small town and they all knew me. I got the third degree and a couple of hundred dollars worth of groceries, returning in high spirits to bury the food and swing from my tree until the others get home . . . .

"What are you doing?"

"Hanging out."

"Clearly. Is this a, um, new habit?"

"Meh."

"You know, Bella, we're friends, not to mention family, if there's something you want to talk about . . . ."

"No, Carlisle, thanks, I'm just . . . . figuring stuff out."

"Fair enough. I have some patient notes to review, mind if I join you?"

"You can review upside down?"

"Vampires are like women Bella, we can multitask."

You'd think, under the circumstances, that having him hanging beside me would freak me out, but it's strangely relaxing as he flicks through his papers and I swing gently to and fro . . . . thinking about Edward and measuring the marigolds . . . .

...

By Wednesday morning the presence of him, in the form of his parting words in a little black cloud over my head, is so strong I'm tempted to start talking to him. Not that I have anything good to say to him at this point, so it's probably just as well that I haven't laid eyes on him since . . . .

How very fucking dare he . . . .

...

. . . . . put all this on me . . . .

"Mom?"

"Hmm?"

"I think its dead."

"Oh, yeah . . . ."

...

Thursday.

Just hanging out in my tree while the others are at work.

Swinging gently to and fro, thinking . . . .

I've been grimly channelling what I swore were a few dead ends where Edward's concerned.

First and foremost that since the girl who fell madly in love with him no longer exists then my feelings for the boy I knew back then are no longer valid either. Just young love, first love and eternal fondness. A warm afterglow to cherish not fan back into timid flames.

Of course, given half a chance, I'd disrobe him and have my wicked way with him in an instant. But that's just because I was recently a red blooded woman, now a horny vampire, and he's an extremely good looking and well constructed specimen. It's not personal, up until recently I've been having similar thoughts about his Father. Yes, I realise that's vaguely nauseating but I'm a newborn and I still have an excuse for it.

Which brings me neatly on to dead end number two. I am old enough to be his Mother.

Not only is it extremely unseemly for a woman my age to be lusting after a seventeen year old, even if he is Edward Cullen, but there are practicalities to consider. What am I going to do next time we move, drop him off at school every day and pretend to be his Mom? We're hardly going to be able to go out in public together are we? And what would an old fogey like me have in common with a seventeen year old? I'd only want him for one thing and that was never something he was very interested in anyway. We'd have incompatible needs . . . .

And then there's Carlisle. It wouldn't be very fair to him under the circumstances especially when it would be doomed to failure anyway. Why put any of us through that?

See how sensible all that is?

Me and my arithmetic, we'll probably go far . . . .

So what, then, is Edward's major malfunction?

Two and two are four . . . .

At the beginning of this week I was trying to decide if he'd had a complete personality transplant or if I'd simply never really known him at all. The latter seemed far more plausible, after all I was young and it wasn't like we'd known each other all that long, I probably wouldn't have been the only eighteen year old to mistake infatuation for being able to see into his soul. But the thing is I'm pretty sure I do know Edward and that he hasn't changed at all, I think I'm seeing him differently and he's still motivated to do what he thinks is the right thing by me.

Four and four are eight . . . .

The notion that my attraction to Edward was down to my inner vampiric sex pest and unimpeachable eye sight took a knock the moment his lips touched mine. When he kissed me on the beach it took a running jump out the window. As did any lingering suspicion that he didn't want me 'that' way.

Which shouldn't make a blind bit of difference because I'm still old enough to be his Mother and it changes nothing on the Carlisle front.

But it has changed . . . . something . . . .

...

"By published date?" He asks, quirking an eyebrow at me.

I nod.

"What about the ones that don't have a published date?"

"I assumed they'd be the oldest so they're all at the beginning, in alphabetical order."

"O-kay. Thank you."

"I should probably apologise . . . ." I mutter, wringing my hands.

"Bella, whatever gets you through the day." He says, frowning slightly at the shelves. "I know all the books anyway so if anything they'll be quicker to find now . . . ."

"Right, okay then, sorry."

"Are you, um, planning to re-organise Jasper's books?" He enquires with a hint of amusement.

"You mean Jasper, OCD, Hale's precision shelved collection of historic military books?"

He nods.

"Don't be silly Carlisle, he bought my Daughter inappropriate lingerie, I did those first. Before I'd come up with a system . . . ."

...

Freya joins me a couple of hours later as I'm burying my first kill.

"No Jasper?"

"Very funny." She huffs. "He's not coming out of our . . . . um . . . . his room until all the books are back in the right order."

"Oh poor Jasper." I shrug innocently. "I didn't think, what with him being a vampire and all, and it's easier to dust if you take them all down first."

"You dusted with my panties?"

"Oh. Is that what they were? I didn't recognise them."

Laugh quietly to self and move on like the grown up you are . . . .

...

Friday.

Edward's continued absence would be fraying my nerves if I still had any. Being able to avoid me when we live in the same house is quite a skill, even for a vampire. Not that I've been deliberately seeking him out. He'll be waiting a very long time for that conversation he thinks we should be having.

Eight and eight are sixteen . . . .

He's busy at the hospital. The one he works at. As a Doctor. Something he's been training to do on and off since before my Grandfathers were in short pants. He's not seventeen. No one thinks he is. Nor do they think I'm old enough to be his Mother. The good ladies of Scappoose's premier grocery emporium thought we made a 'cute couple' and wanted to know when we were going to get married and start procreating.

...

"Oh. My. God."

I leap out of my chair and do a quick lap of the desk, waving my hands in the air.

I have a commission. An actual commission that hasn't come from my family. It's for another custom auto shop . . . . but . . . . Holy Shit!

I whip out my new cell and send off a Cullen APB.

'I got a job!'

I'm still dancing about as the replies come in, ranging from 'Congratulations' to 'Thank God'.

"Well Jared Cameron, whoever you are, you've just made my day . . . ."

...

Saturday.

I'm not stupid.

Sixteen and sixteen are thirty two . . . .

I love Edward and he loves me.

No caveats.

No real impediments.

Save one . . . .

Carlisle has never asked me for anything and I've never promised him anything.

Or two . . . .

It's just not right . . . .

...

The only thing stopping me, is me.

Thank you, Edward, for pointing that out.

You little shit . . . .

...

"Bella."

"Edward."

Silence.

"You called me?" He prods eventually.

"I, um." Deep breath. "We should probably talk."

"Okay."