No excuses offered for the delay, but I do apologise. Next chapter will be posted right after this one but I can't promise when the rest will appear. I'm also sticking to my efforts in writing an epilogue... even though it has been weeks since I've had the time or inclination to write.
"You weren't kidding when you said you knew your way around an engine," Jacob said, grinning at Rosalie as he slammed the hood shut.
For the past hour I had been sitting in the corner sipping my coffee watching with great incredulity as they worked on my truck. They'd made a great team, barking out orders to each other and passing tools back and forth while arguing about the best way to do whatever it was they were doing. Sometimes Jacob was right and other times Rosalie. It was cute the way they grudgingly conceded ground to each other before gloating as they took it back.
Rosalie wiped her hand across her brow, leaving a streak of grease on her otherwise flawless face. "I can't believe you managed to get the parts for it so easily," she said, accepting the rag Jacob was holding out to her and wiping her hands on it.
"I know a lot of people in the business," Jacob said with a shrug.
"So do you get a lot of work?"
"I do okay," he responded modestly, moving to the sink and picking up the soap. He winked at me as he turned on the faucet. I'd been all but invisible in the corner since Rosalie arrived, but I didn't mind. It had been entertaining watching the way they worked together, enjoying the shared passion for what they were doing.
"You know my dad knows quite a few people around here, he could probably send a lot of work your way," Rosalie offered, taking the soap from him and joining him at the sink. "I mean, if you wanted to do it full time?"
"You'd do that?" Jacob asked, clearly surprised. "I mean, that's what I'm aiming for, you know, to get enough business so I can rent a bigger place and set myself up legitimately."
"This isn't legit?" she mocked lightly.
"Sure it is, but it's a two bit set up. I want to quit the hospital and do this full time. This feels like a hobby. I want a proper place with my name above the door and people working for me." His cheeks coloured a little, which made Rosalie laugh.
When they started to talk details, I decided it was time to leave. Draining the last of my coffee, I stood up and took the mug to the sink. "How much do I owe you," I asked Jacob over my shoulder while I rinsed the mug.
"Don't worry about it, I got it."
"That's no way to run a business," I teased, smiling at him.
Rosalie immediately launched into a discussion about pricing structures and mark-ups. Jacob looked a little overwhelmed and I tried not to laugh when he dragged her over to a small coupe outside the garage to divert her attention. Once she was sufficiently distracted by whatever he had pointed out to her beneath its hood, he came back to me.
"So where are you rushing off to?" he asked as I took the keys from him.
"Edward has arranged a surprise date for tonight," I told him. "He won't tell me where we're going, but I'm under strict orders to be home by five."
Jacob opened the garage doors allowing me to guide the truck slowly out onto the driveway.
"I'm glad you finally brought her over," he said, leaning his elbows on the door frame.
I stared at him, confused. "Rosalie? I didn't bring her over."
He laughed loudly. "No, the truck. I was beginning to worry she would give out on you." He glanced over at Rosalie. "She just shows up whenever she feels like it."
"Does she come around a lot?" I asked, lowering my voice.
Jacob's brow wrinkled a little but his smile didn't falter. "Yeah, she does. She seems to like it here and I can't really get rid of her," he whispered.
"It looked to me like you two get along okay."
He looked back and seeing that she was still bent under the hood, he turned back and leaned closer. "Actually, today's the first time she's really talked to me. Normally she just works with me and only speaks to ask me to pass her something." He snuck another glance over his shoulder. "She's kinda bossy too. I mean, this is my place and she acts like she's my business manager." He rubbed the back of his head. "But, she knows her stuff and she works for free, so I can't really complain too much."
"And besides her boyfriend is built like a bear," I pointed out, laughing.
He chuckled. "Yeah, but somehow I don't think she needs Emmett to fight her battles. She's pretty feisty."
I put the truck in gear. "As much as I'd love to stay and talk about Rosalie, I really need to go. I don't want to be late."
He pushed away from the truck. "Have fun."
When I pulled away, I sounded the horn and Rosalie waved without lifting her head.
I stopped at a nearby store to pick up the wine and plastic cups Edward had asked me to get earlier. Maybe he was planning a picnic.
I was perusing the aisles when I heard someone call my name, and turned to see Leah walking towards me.
"Hey," I greeted when she reached me. I glanced at her uniform and name badge. "Do you work here?" It was a stupid question, but I couldn't think of anything else to say.
"This is my third week."
"That's good," I said, lamely. "Are you enjoying it?"
She shrugged. "I guess it beats being stuck at home."
I wanted to ask her how things were but I didn't feel it was my place, so I let it slide.
"So were you down seeing Jacob?" she asked after a moment's awkward silence.
"Yeah, he was putting some new plugs in the truck for me."
"Is that blonde girl still working with him?"
"Don't you see much of him now?" I countered her question with one of my own.
She shook her head. "I'm trying to sort myself out. I thought about what you said, you know, about me not being fair on him, and I've been giving him some space while I decide what I want to do."
Her candour surprised me, and I felt a bit sorry for her. It was clear that she wanted to know who Rosalie was but didn't want to ask.
"Rosalie is there purely for the cars," I said. She looked up, her expression dubious. "It's true. She has this thing for fixing engines and just shows up to help Jacob. She's going to help him get more work."
"That's good. I know how much he wants to quit the hospital and make a go of it."
Her voice sounded sad and wistful.
"She also has a boyfriend she's crazy about," I said, hoping it would make her feel better.
Her cheeks flushed, but she smiled a little. "I should let you get on with your shopping," she said, glancing at my empty basket. "What were you looking for?"
"They're down this end," she said, pointing the way. "I'll walk with you."
I followed her to the other side of the shop and picked up a pack. "Thank you," I said, dropping them into my basket.
"I'm leaving Paul," she blurted.
I had no idea what to say. What do you say when someone you hardly know tells you something so personal? "Oh." Was my less than eloquent response.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to embarrass you. I don't know why I'm telling you, I haven't told anyone else yet. I thought about telling Jacob, but I think I should maybe wait until I get my own place and..." She shrugged as if she was regretting bringing the subject up. .
I touched her shoulder. "I know we're not really friends, but if you need any help...' It was my turn to feel awkward. What help could I be?
She smiled gratefully. "If you hear of any cheap apartments let me know. It's a nightmare trying to find a decent place.
I promised I would.
"Okay, so it was good to see you," she said walking backwards. "I better go do some work."
During the drive home, I thought about Leah's revelation. It was sad that her marriage was ending, but I hoped that she could find happiness, whether it was with Jacob or not.
"It's five thirty!" Edward called from the bathroom when I rushed through the door of the apartment. I quickly ran into the kitchen and dropped the wine and cups on the counter.
"I'm sorry," I called back, heading for the bathroom. "I met Leah. She's working in the―" I stopped in my tracks. He'd drawn the blinds and the darkness was punctuated by lots of tiny candles which flickered maniacally when I swept into the room.
"Oh no!" My hands flew up to my mouth. "I'm so sorry."
Edward was sitting in the bath. "It's fucking freezing in here." He grimaced. "And I look like a prune from the waist down."
"Really?" I gasped.
He chuckled. "No. I was watching from the window and saw the truck pull up, but I did have to refill the bath twice with warmer water. Your tardiness is most disappointing." Bizarrely he said the word "tardiness" with a mock British accent and it made me laugh.
"I thought we were going out?"
"We are. But I figured you'd want to take a bath first, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try this romantic shit."
I giggled. "You know it's not romantic if you say it like that, don't you?"
"You said you weren't the romantic type," he countered, lightly.
"I guess you're showing me that I am," I looked around at the candles he had placed on every available surface. "This really is lovely."
"Get your butt in here," he ordered playfully. "There's no hot water left, and it really is starting to get cold."
I started to undress.
"Slower," he murmured, settling back against the rim of the tub to watch.
"I thought you said it was getting cold?" I said with a smirk.
"Shh… you're spoiling the moment." He winked.
His eyes roamed over my body as I exposed it inch by inch. By the time I stepped into the bath and settled between his legs, I was throbbing with need for him. Lying back against his chest, I moaned when he cupped my breasts and kneeded them gently.
"I wanted to do this so many times when I used to wash your hair," he murmured, pressing his erection into my back. "You have great tits, Bella."
I almost cried out with the loss when he let go and asked me to pass the shampoo.
"Tease," I muttered, handing him the bottle.
After he washed my hair, he took the soap and lathered up my arms and stomach, deliberately avoiding my breasts. But he didn't tease me for long. His fingers slipped below the waterline and straight between my legs.
His tongue traced a lazy circle around my ear while his fingers slid over my clit in a similar motion. He groaned in approval when I opened my legs a little wider. "That's it," he encouraged when I started to writhe beneath him in the throes of orgasm.
We sloshed around a bit switching positions. I washed his body, enjoying the feeling of my fingers sliding over the hard ridges of his muscles. When I ventured beneath the water, he captured my hand and announced that it was time to get out of the bath. I grumbled in disappointment.
He got out first, holding his hand out to steady me as I followed. "I want to be inside you when I come," he explained, pulling me close.
Goose bumps sprung up all over my skin as soon as the cool air hit me. Noticing, Edward rubbed his hands vigorously over my arms and back. "Better?" he asked, dipping to kiss me.
Wrapping me in his arms, he pressed his body tightly to mine, warming me up while he kissed me thoroughly. With gentle hands, he turned me so that my back was pressed to his front.
"I want you like this," he whispered, running his hands over my breasts and stomach. His breath fanned down my neck when he spoke and I shivered again, but not from the cold.
He bent me forward slightly until I grabbed the sink unit for balance. Parting my legs with his knee, he stepped forward and pressed his cock against my entrance.
"Do you want me?" His words were carried on an inward breath, and I loved hearing how desperate he was.
"Always," I responded, attempting to push back against him.
He reciprocated at once, pushing deep inside me with one breath-stealing thrust. All coherent thought was lost, replaced by pure unadulterated lust when his hips began to piston.
His thrusts were fast and furious and he stopped only briefly to position one of my legs on the unit. The wider stance enabled him to pump deeper and harder and each sharp thrust was heralded by a loud grunt from both of us.
My arms shook with the effort of holding my position, but the pleasure far outweighed the burgeoning ache in my muscles.
"Do you like that baby?" he murmured in my ear, voice dripping with lust. "Do you feel how deep that is?"
"Yes!" I gasped. "I want you to go harder."
Immediately he increased his pace. The room filled with the sound of his skin slapping against mine. "Like this?"
"Harder!" I begged, reaching down between my legs to stroke his balls as they slapped against my flesh.
"Fuck! That's good," he grunted, increasing his speed again. "I love fucking you, baby."
His fingers slid under my wrist and circled my clit in hard quick strokes. My knees buckled as my orgasm built, forcing him to abandon my clit and wrap his arm around me for support. All sorts of garbled noises escaped my throat as my muscles clenched around him.
"Fuck, yeah!" he shouted, bucking wildly as he came violently inside me.
For a few moments I bore the brunt of his weight, but when my body started to shake beneath him, he gently lowered my leg to the floor. He whispered that he loved me while his teeth nipped at my ear lobe.
"I think I need another bath," I said, sighing contentedly.
"There's no time," he said, grabbing the washcloth.
An hour later I was sitting beside Edward while he drove the truck west. I glanced down at the cooler and blanket at my feet. "When are you going to tell me where we're going?" I grumbled as we waited at the traffic lights
He simply winked at me and kept his lips firmly closed.
On the outskirts of town, I noticed the traffic was getting heavier and a lot of people were walking towards the park. "We're going to the park?" I asked turning to him and he nodded. "What's on?"
"Really?" I felt a surge of excitement. I'd never been to an open air concert before. "Who's playing?"
"Just some local bands," he said, scanning the street for a parking space. "It's free so I don't even know if the bands will be any good, but I thought it would be nice to sit outside, drink wine and listen to music."
It took a while to find a space, and I could hear what sounded like a sound check coming from the park when I got out of the truck. Edward slung his arm around my shoulder and guided me towards the long line of people heading to the park. When I slipped my hand into his back pocket and gave his ass a light squeeze, he grinned down at me.
"Look at you getting all PDA," he teased waggling his eyebrows.
I squeezed again and he laughed pressing his lips to my temple.
The throng of people making their way to the park grew thicker the closer we got, and I almost missed them as we passed through the gates. "Isn't that Jacob and Alice?" I asked, craning my neck for a better view. "And Rosalie and Emmet?"
Edward threw his hand in the air and waived. "I thought it would be nice to hang out," he whispered. "You don't mind do you?"
"Of course not, but why the secrecy?"
He shrugged. "The concert was the surprise. I just decided at the last minute to call around and see if anyone else wanted to join us."
After a round of greetings, we found a space and set the blankets down on the grass. Edward stood talking to Alice and I hoped I'd get a chance to talk to her too at some point.
"So how's the truck running?" Jacob asked, plonking himself down beside me.
"Um… in the five minutes since I got it back, it seems to be okay," I said, earning a playful punch on the arm.
"I ran into Leah on the way home," I ventured. "She got a job."
"Yeah, I heard," he responded, and I didn't fail to notice the hint of tension that crept into his voice.
"She's giving you space," I said. "And… um… I think you have me to blame for that. That night we had dinner at yours, she waited for me around the corner when I was driving home." I felt my cheeks heat with embarrassment. "We had words, and I know it's none of my business, but I sort of told her she was being unfair on you."
"You what?" he gasped loudly, prompting Edward to shoot me a concerned glance. I shook my head at him to indicate he didn't need to get involved.
"What do you mean sort of? You either did or you didn't," Jacob said, lowering his voice considerably.
"Look, I'm sorry. I know it wasn't my place to say it, but she acted like a jealous girlfriend trying to scare me off and I told her that if she isn't going to be with you, she really shouldn't be trying to stop anyone else from being with you." He looked shocked. "I know! I know! I'm a nosey meddling pain in the ass, but I really didn't mean to cause any harm."
He sighed, rubbing his hand roughly over his scalp. "Yes you are a pain in the ass, Bella." I was relieved when a slow smile crept across his face. "But I get the feeling she's moving in my direction. Did she say anything to you about what her plans are?"
I nodded. "But I don't think she wants me to tell you." I tried to hide my revealing smile but failed. "I think she'll talk to you soon."
"You know you just totally sold her out with that smile, don't you?" he teased.
I swatted his arm.
"It's early days though. I don't want to get my hopes up," he added, and his insecurity was plain to see.
The first band came on and we all spread out on the blankets to get comfortable. Alice sat down beside me, while Edward sat in front of me beside Emmett. Rosalie leaned back, from her position beside Emmett and looked at me.
"How's that truck running?" she asked.
"It's great," I replied a little stiltedly. It seemed Jacob wasn't the only one intimidated by her.
"Cool," she said, turning back to face the stage.
"Who wants wine?" Edward asked, grabbing the cooler.
The bands were actually pretty good and I sat tapping my toes as I sipped my wine. Every now and then Edward would glance back at me and smile, and it was only natural that I would gravitate towards him. Eventually, I was sitting directly behind him rubbing my fingers through his hair.
Emmett spotted us and leaned his head on Rosalie's shoulder. "Dude!" he yelled a little too loudly. "How come you don't do that shit to me?" He jerked his head in our direction.
Rosalie grinned. "You don't have sex hair like Edward."
His head snapped up, and he looked curiously at Edward before turning back to Rosalie. "His hair only looks like that because girls are always running their fucking fingers through it!" He stiffened, shooting me a worried glance. "Sorry." He grimaced.
"Don't be," I said, smiling. "It's my sex hair now."
Edward chuckled and planted a kiss on the inside of my wrist.
A little while later, I took the opportunity to talk to Alice, scooting back from Edward. "The bands are good," I remarked, for want of a better opener.
She smiled. "I'm glad I came. I'm sick of the sight of the inside of my house."
"You know you can come over any time you need company," I said, hoping it wouldn't offend her. "Or we could go out sometime?"
"Thanks. But I needed to be by myself for a while. It's beginning to get a little bit lonely there now, though," she admitted looking down at a small plastic ring in her palm. "I'm beginning to feel a bit more sociable again."
"Have you seen him… Jasper?"
I shook my head. "He's still back in Forks."
She sighed and put the ring in her pocket. "Well, I hope someday you two can get past this."
I almost said the same to her, but managed to stop myself.
"What's with the ring?" I asked.
"It's silly, it's…" She glanced at the others spread out around us. "Maybe I'll tell you some other time."
"Okay," I said, letting it drop. It didn't take a genius to figure out it had something to do with Jasper.
As always thank you for reading. Thank you for reviewing, too. x