Chapter 6:
Encounters

The week flew by, leaving me in a frenzy. I had been kept busy by numerous things, but the end of Friday was closing in on me, and it was suffocating.

Riley had been chipper, kind, and conversational all week. We started walking the property at twilight like we had done for years before. We spoke about everything and nothing. Of course, I left out my phone calls to Edward each night this week. I felt guilty, but I didn't have to when I blamed Riley for suggesting such things into our marriage in the first place.

I never knew how gratifying phone sex could be. It wasn't the real thing, but it was the next best thing in my opinion. Edward ordered me to do things to myself that I had never dreamed of, but the reward was exquisite.

I had begun to feel like a slave to my own body, needing to get off as often as I could. It was embarrassing, and Edward was the only one who could satisfy me. I was anxious to see him, but not looking forward to the discussion we were all supposed to have tonight.

"Bella! Look!" My head snapped back up from the ground where I had been staring to see Lucy trotting around the corral on O'Ryan with a proud smile on her face. She marched the large horse around the circle, and turned at the last minute to jump one of the obstacle fences. She did it perfectly. I began clapping with Esme who stood behind me.

"Excellent!" I cheered. "Again, but canter," I directed. Lucy nodded enthusiastically and turned the horse. We watched as she ran as one with the animal and jumped the fence again, landing smoothly.

"Was it good?" She called out, hopeful. Esme and I laughed.

"Very!" I replied. "Go as many times as you want until you feel most comfortable," I suggested. Lucy nodded and went back to controlling my horse.

"She loves this," Esme gushed. I turned to see her bright smile as she watched her granddaughter.

"I've never seen such a natural," I replied.

"Her mother," Esme replied fondly.

"Rosalie?" I asked. Esme nodded.

"She won a few competitions on English saddle when she was a teenager."

"Where did she compete?" I asked.

"Locally, before making it big in Kentucky when she was in her early twenties."

"I've been to Kentucky for competition, too. It's very prestigious."

"She won gold and then silver before..." Esme cut off.

"I'm sorry," I whispered. I stepped closer to the broken woman and put a hand in her shoulder. Esme smiled and shook her sadness away. She reached into her purse on the ground and pulled out a shiny, namebrand billfold. She handed it to me, and I took it carefully.

"She's stunning," I blurted, looking to the picture. A gorgeous woman with strawberry blonde hair pulled back into a high ponytail, stood next to a large Appaloosa with a trophy in her right hand. I studied the picture more closely.

"She looks familiar," I admitted quietly.

"Everyone knew Rosalie," Esme said. "Maybe the two of you competed together all those years ago." My mind was fuzzy trying to remember where I had seen the girl before, but I couldn't place it.

"Yeah," I replied distantly. "Maybe." I returned the billfold and Esme replaced it securely in her purse. We looked back to Lucy and smiled.

"I always worry about her riding," Esme admitted quietly.

"I know. But if she's taught properly to be around the animals, and she seems to be very knowledgeable and careful, then she'll be okay," I assured softly.

"Have you ever had an accident?"

I chuckled. "When I was twenty, I fell off my stallion. I suffered from amnesia for a few months, but there was no permanent damage. It was my own fault for riding the disobedient horse in the first place. I thought he was ready to be ridden. Another horse spooked him, bucked me, and took off. My dad carried me to the ambulance, and that's all I remember." I looked down to my riding crop and smiled fondly, remembering my father. "I was stupid," I added.

"I'm glad you were okay," she said kindly. I nodded. "Maybe you can talk to Lucy about always being safe around them. She listens to you." I smiled widely, and nodded to her.

Suddenly, Lucy trotted over to us and I helped her dismount O'Ryan. We had been working on jumps since Tuesday and the girl had it down perfectly.

"Nana, did you see, too?"

"You were astounding," Esme assured happily.

"I've never been more proud of a student," I said. Lucy blushed and took hold of the reins. I followed her into the barn.

...

I had spent a ridiculous amount of time getting ready after work. I showered, shaved, blow dryed my hair, and was now fighting with myself over how to style it. I gave up and decided to let it be as is: long and slightly wavy.

I stood at my closet frustrated and indecisive as I tried on shirt after shirt. We were meeting Edward and Kate at a fancy restaurant in town, and I didn't exactly have any fancy clothes. I sighed and sat down on the edge of my bed defeated. I heard Riley coming down the hall.

"Ready to go?" He asked. I looked up at him and sighed. His smiled faded when he stepped into the room. He wore a nice suit and was clean shaven.

"I have nothing to wear," I admitted sadly.

"Good," he said. I frowned.

"Why is that good?" I snapped. He chuckled and left the room quickly, returning with a long white box. I stood up.

"What's this?" I asked in surprise.

"Our anniversary was on Wednesday, but we both forgot," he began quietly. I covered my mouth in shock. "Ten years, Bella!"

"Wow. I'm sorry," I gushed.

"Don't be. You remembered all the others when I didn't." I snorted. He had a point. I made sure to dress as sexy as possible, and cook him a nice meal each year, but he had forgotten every time and did nothing for me in return. I stopped caring after the first six or seven years.

"I thought I'd make up for lost times," he joked. I laughed and took the box, setting it down on the bed and opening it. I gasped, and reached in to grab soft, sapphire fabric.

"It's beautiful," I whispered, gawking at the dress. It was a low v-neck in the front and back, and would sit just above my knees. I turned to my husband and smiled.

"You have shoes?" He asked hopeful. I nodded enthusiastically.

"Black heels." I stepped closer to him and took a deep breath. The air between us had changed over the past week into something familiar, yet unknown, so it was almost awkward. I kissed his mouth softly, and stepped away. Riley smiled, clearly pleased with himself, and left the room.

I was a taken aback by his gift and I was still trying to understand how sleeping with another woman was bringing him closer to me. When I met Edward, I stopped wishing for my marriage to return to a sexual happy place, but maybe it was an inevitable thing. I shook my head, and got dressed.

...

We arrived a few minutes late to the restaurant, and were informed by the hostess that our party was already seated. We followed a tall black women to our table, and the closer I got to Edward, the more dry my mouth and throat became. When I saw copper hair, I wanted to turn and run. Instead, I latched onto Riley's arm for support. Edward stood from the table when we approached.

He wore a white button up that wasn't buttoned all the way to the top, and dark dress pants. He looked tired, but happy to see us. His smile was infectious, and I suddenly went crimson remembering our phone calls in explicit detail. My knees shook slightly.

"Bella, you look so hot," Kate gushed. I looked to Edward's wife, taking in her long blonde hair, black dress, and perfect teeth. I smiled when I saw Edward's cheeks turn pink at her statement.

"Thank you," I replied. "So do you."

"Yeah," Riley agreed. His eyes were big as he took her in. Kate smiled, and patted the seat next to her. Edward pulled out the chair next to him. I nodded and sat down, with Kate across from me, and Riley next to her.

"I love that dress," Kate said.

"It was a gift from Riley," I replied. She turned to my husband.

"Great choice," she complimented. Riley smiled proudly. I avoided Edward's eyes like the plague, even though I could physically feel every time he looked over at me.

...

After a lot of meaningless small talk, we ate and drank nice wine. I was glad to see that I wasn't the only nervous one at the table. We were all a bit awkward with each other, and it worried me as the night dragged on. What if Kate and Edward decided not to see us? If Kate didn't like Riley, it would ruin things for me and Edward.

"So," Riley said, hoping to engage conversation. We all smiled and looked around at one another shyly.

"Yeah," I added lamely.

"Did you two talk about...it? Uh, us?" Kate asked. Riley and I nodded.

"We did, too," she added. With one more look to Edward, who nodded back at her, she smiled. "We want you guys," she said quietly. The invisible chokehold that had been torturing me all week, left my neck immediately. I smiled widely and looked over to Edward. He winked at me, and I nearly gasped when I felt his hand take hold of mine beneath the table. I squeezed it tightly.

"Now rules," Riley began. I suddenly felt exposed talking about such things in a public place. I looked around the restaurant and saw that every table was in use.

"Oh, my God," Riley blurted. I looked over to see his eyes bugging out of his head and his mouth wide open in horror. I followed his gaze to see Mr. and Mrs. Summers walking over to our table. I turned back around quickly, and released Edward's hand.

"My in-laws!" I hissed. Before I could tell them what lie we should all go with, Judith and Tony were at our table with bright smiles.

"Mom! Dad!" Riley said, standing and leaning in to hug them.

"It is so good to see you and Bella out," Judith said. I smiled and suppressed an eye roll as I stood up, and walked over to kiss her cheek. I loved Judith, but she sometimes said things that weren't necessary, and could be taken the wrong way. I learned that the hard way over the years.

"How's work?" Tony asked. Riley began telling him of his recent case, and I told Judith about my mother's horse falling ill with a broken ankle. After a moment, Judith looked to me expectantly.

"And who are your friends, dear?" Riley laughed nervously and motioned towards the Masens who still sat quietly at the table.

"Ma, Dad, this is Edward Masen and his wife, Kate," Riley announced happily. "Work friends."

"Oh, you work at my son's firm?" Tony asked. I groaned inwardly.

"I'm in law at a firm downtown," Kate informed, kindly shaking their hands. "And my husband is in real estate."

"You mean-" Judith began.

"Yes," I interrupted. "He's that Edward Masen." The Summers smiled in unison.

"I know a lot of people who have bought from your company, and have heard nothing but wonderful things," Tony said, shaking Edward's hand. "But don't let these kids buy any more land," he teased. "They have plenty."

"Oh, dad," Riley said, waving it off. I blushed, embarrassed for some unknown reason. I noticed Edward and Kate's frown.

"Well, we'll let you be," Judith said. "It was great running into you." I kissed her cheek again and hugged Tony before sitting back down. Just as they began walking away, Judith turned back to us.

"Oh, and happy ten year anniversary!" She told us. I nodded and bowed my head in embarrassment. When they were gone, I sighed deeply.

"Wow, ten years?" Kate asked.

"Ten years," Riley confirmed. "You know, maybe we should finish our earlier discussion somewhere more private."

"Yes!" The rest of us agreed together.

"What about our house this time?" Edward suggested.

"Fine by us," I said, with Riley nodding.

We all split the dinner bill, and got up to leave. Edward placed a hand on the small of my back. I looked up to his golden eyes and saw something dark smoldering behind the them. I recognized it immediately as desire, and my body began its slow take over of my mind.


WOO, awkward much? Ready for some sexy time in the next chapter? Oh, yes!

I want to rec a new author, JRFaab who has just posted her first twilight ff called, Swan Lakes Ranch. Give her a read! She'll be updating every Friday! www . fanfiction s/9435590/1/

I plan on posting a fic for fun, that won't be Beta'd and I'll be updating that more frequently. Keep an eye out! I will post it soon ;)

More soon!

xox