*sniffles* This is it. The last regular chapter. This has been such an amazing ride, and I'm so grateful to all of you who've read, reviewed, pimped, and flailed. I'm just in awe. Thank you so much.
Eternal thanks to Twilly, Lellabeth, and Iambeagle. They are just amazing at what they do, and I can't thank them enough.
Mixed reactions again about our skittish Bella in the last chapter. Seems like most of us are used to a skittish Edward. :)
All mistakes are mine.
SM owns the pie. I just make it lemony.
There are rules. Ignore them, and you're fucked. And not in the good way.
Chapter 11 - More
I stood there and stared at my door, thinking Bella would come back through it any second.
But minutes that felt like hours passed, and it remained closed.
She had to know how I felt about her.
I'd done my best to show her, but it obviously wasn't enough.
I knew that I was in love with her. There was just no denying it anymore. I'd never felt for anyone else even half of what I felt for Bella.
When she wasn't with me, I absolutely ached for her. My arms ached to be wrapped around her, my chest pressed to hers, heartbeat to heartbeat. My legs ached to be tangled with hers. My lips ached to be touching her somewhere. Anywhere.
My fucking heart was definitely aching, and I rubbed my chest. "Fuck," I muttered. Was this really how it was supposed to end? I was supposed to just let her walk away and move on?
Well, fuck that.
At the very least, I had to tell her in no uncertain terms how I felt, and then if she didn't want me, that would be that. I'd have to face the fact that whatever was happening between us was over.
I sprang into action, throwing my t-shirt back on and changing into a pair of jeans.
When I reached Bella's apartment, I knocked on her door for a solid minute, but she either didn't want to see me or she wasn't home.
Neither of those options eased the tension in my chest.
I started pacing in front of her door, tugging at my hair in frustration. All the pent-up energy and determination in my body was turning me into a caged animal.
I whipped around to see Bella standing there with a grocery bag hanging from her arm.
"I need to talk to you."
Her eyes darted around, and she eyed her door, which I was basically guarding at that point.
"Edward, please. Not now. I told you—"
"I know what you said. But there are things that I need to say. To you. And then I'll go."
"Let's go inside," she said quietly, moving around me to unlock her door.
I wanted to touch her, but I kept my hands to myself for the moment.
Once inside, she dropped her grocery bag onto the kitchen counter, looking at me uncertainly. "Can I get you anything? Something to drink?"
"Something to…" I shook my head and chuckled without humor. "No. This won't take long."
Bella averted her eyes and began unpacking her bag.
"Can you just come sit down with me for a minute?"
She moved to sit on her couch, and I sat on the coffee table, facing her.
Bella sucked in a sharp breath when I gathered both of her hands in my own, her eyes landing on them and then my face.
"I need you to listen to me, okay? Please don't say anything. Just listen."
She nodded, her eyes bouncing between my own.
Here goes nothing.
Taking a deep breath, I started at the beginning.
"When I first met you, I wanted nothing to do with relationships. I'd had a couple serious girlfriends in the past, and I just wanted my freedom. I have my bar to run. I have great friends to hang out with. And with you, I got the best of both worlds. I got to keep my freedom in my everyday life, and then I got to have this incredible sexual relationship with you."
Bella's cheeks grew a little pink at my words, but she remained quiet.
It was no secret how amazing we were in bed together.
"As time went on and the rules started getting bent and broken, I realized I didn't care about any of that anymore."
I swallowed harshly, steeling my nerves for the hard part.
"Let me be absolutely clear. I don't just want your body anymore, Bella. I want all of you. I want the good and the bad. The crazy and the wonderful."
She searched my eyes, my face, presumably looking for any sign that I might not be telling her the truth.
I had to make her see.
I had to give her everything.
"I'm in love with you," I said, holding her gaze. "And I think you love me too. Because I feel it, Bella. I feel it in the way you touch me, the way you look at me. Your eyes give you away whether you want them to or not." I skimmed the back of my finger down her temple. "But you're so scared," I whispered. "You can't even admit it to yourself, much less to me."
I lost her eyes then as she focused them on our joined hands. "Edward…"
She'd said my name many times before, but never with so much fear infused into her tone.
I tightened my grip on her hands a bit. "Please look at me."
When she did, her eyes were brimming with unshed tears.
"No more of this fuck-buddy pretense. I want to be with you. I want to be able to take you to dinner and go for walks along the pier. I want to hold you close and dance every slow dance with you. I want to sit on my couch and quote silly movies together like we did just a few hours ago. I want to lose track of time with you." I squeezed her hands as the first tear hit her cheek. "I'm not that guy, whoever he was, who hurt you. I don't ever want to hurt you, Bella, but you have to let me in. I hope you can do that because I think…" I shook my head. "No, I know that we could be amazing together. We've already proven that. You just need to open your eyes and see it."
I leaned forward then, capturing her lips, pouring as much love as I could find in my body into that kiss. The fact that she kissed me back made my chest ache. I could taste the salt of her tears, and I hoped and prayed that at least some of them were happy ones.
"Please think about what I said," I murmured after releasing her lips, my forehead pressed to hers. "You know where to find me if you decide to give this a chance."
With that, I placed her shaking hands into her lap and left her apartment, hope and dread waging a war inside me.
I'd put it all out there—laid myself bare for her. The ball was in her court now, and I hoped she could get past her fears and see what we could be together.
If not… I dreaded the day I would wake up and realize I'd never see her again.
I kept myself busy tending bar at Nox that night.
My eyes were constantly on the door, and every time it opened and it wasn't Bella, my heart sank a little bit more.
At five minutes to close, I knew she wasn't coming.
"Goddammit, Bella," I swore under my breath as I helped Seth start cleaning up. He gaped at me when I started throwing things around a bit, so I sent him to lock the door and turned to start cleaning the remaining dirty glasses.
Turning back around to wipe down the bar, I stopped short at the sight of Bella sitting on one of the bar stools.
She was dressed in her blue scrubs, and her long braid hung over one shoulder.
"We're closed," I said, offering her a slight smirk.
"I know. I'm sorry." She was quiet and wringing her hands.
I wanted to smooth the anxious lines between her brows.
I wiped the bar in front of where she sat and placed a cocktail napkin in front of her. "Rough night?"
She sighed, one corner of her mouth lifting a little. "I've had better."
I poured two fingers of bourbon into a tumbler and sat the drink on the napkin for her.
Throwing my towel over my shoulder, I decided to keep playing my role for the moment and leaned onto the bar. "Wanna talk about it?"
Her eyes locked on mine, and her dark gaze held me captive. "Well…" she said. "There was this guy."
She slid her index finger around the rim of her glass. "Yeah, see, we were fuck-buddies, he and I. But that never really works, does it?"
"Maybe, maybe not." I wasn't sure where she was going with this yet, but she was here at least. That was half the battle. And one way or another, at least I wouldn't be left wondering.
"Well, we tried," she continued. "We had all these rules. This contract, actually." She pulled a folded up piece of paper from her bag and smoothed it out on top of the bar. I recognized it as the list she'd presented me with all those months ago that we'd both initialed, confirming our agreement. "We thought it would be easy and uncomplicated if we could just follow them. But see rule number one there?" she asked, pointing at it and looking up at me.
I nodded. She was speaking quietly, evenly, not in the teasing tone our little role play might be suggesting.
"That's the cardinal rule. Break that one, and you have to end it."
I swallowed the lump that had been in my throat since I turned and saw her there. "And has it been broken?"
"Well… yes. All the rules have, in fact," she said. "I might as well just tear this thing up for all the good it did us." She proceeded to rip the paper into tiny pieces that littered the bar top.
I stared at them for a moment before bringing my eyes back to her face. Again, she was here, but she wasn't giving much away.
Would she have even bothered showing up if she wasn't going to give us a chance?
I didn't know the answer to that, but I hoped against hope that her being here meant that she was ready to try.
"So," she sighed. "You see, I have to end it."
My heart seized in my chest, and I couldn't seem to get enough air into my lungs as she looked back up at me.
But then she smiled the most heartbreakingly beautiful smile, and I sucked in a ragged breath.
"I have to end it because I broke the cardinal rule." She looked down into her glass. "A long time ago, actually."
"How long?" I whispered, knowing my own answer would be months ago.
"It doesn't matter. I've been too scared to take a risk and give him my heart. I think I might be too late." She brought her eyes back to mine, and the depth of emotion in them hit me so hard in the chest I had to take a step back. "I might have blown my chance with him."
I couldn't stop the soft smile that curled my lips or the small chuckle that escaped, moving back up to lean closer to her.
"I bet if you came clean, told him how you feel, he'd hear you out."
She smiled back at me again. "You really think so?"
Nodding, I said, "I do. If he's a good guy, he'll give you a chance to explain. Is he a good guy?"
Bella was beaming now, and my face no doubt mirrored hers.
Seth cleared his throat from a few feet away and broke our little bubble.
"Uh, boss? I can finish locking up if you need to… go… or whatever," he said, grinning at us.
We were three smiling fools, and I tossed the keys at him as I rounded the bar. When I stood directly in front of Bella, she was still smiling, her happy tears threatening to spill over, and I lifted her up, crushing her against me and my mouth against hers.
I only released her when I had to breathe, and I hugged her so tight against me that she probably couldn't.
By the time I put a little space between us, her cheeks were wet. She had flat shoes on, so her face was tilted up and mine down, our difference in height never more noticeable than right then.
"I would have been here earlier, but I got called in to the hospital," she said. "I'm so sorry I made you wait so long, Edward."
I brushed a few loose strands of her hair out of her face and swiped at her tears with my thumbs. "It's okay."
"And I don't just mean tonight."
"I know," I murmured. "It's okay. You're here now. Right where I am. That's all that matters."
"You still scare the shit out of me," she whispered.
I put my arms around her waist. "We'll be okay. I just want to make you happy."
"I love you," she said with so much conviction that I felt it invade my entire body, filling in all the empty spaces and squashing any doubts I had left.
"I know," I replied with a soft chuckle.
Her face lit up in a smile again as she shook her head at me. "Always so cocky."
"Yeah, well… Have you seen me?"
Bella ran her hands seductively up my chest and then twisted the fuck out of my left nipple.
"Ow," I laughed, flinching back from her. "You're gonna pay for that."
She squealed as I lifted her up and threw her over my shoulder. I smacked her ass and walked toward my office, feeling lighter than I had in a long time.
"What are you going to do to me?" she asked, giggling.
"I haven't decided yet. I need to grab something from my desk, and then we can get out of here. But when you least expect it…" I hoisted her up and palmed her ass, squeezing a little roughly. "I'll get you back for that."
I set her on her feet, grabbed my wallet and keys from my desk and then stepped back up to her. I slid my hand around the back of her neck, under her braid, and leaned down to press my lips back to hers. It was the best feeling in the world to be able to kiss her whenever I damn well pleased.
"Let's go," I whispered, and she nodded.
I drove faster than I should have back to my apartment. We left Bella's car at Nox, and she held my hand in her lap the whole way. I don't think either of us wanted to be separated anymore than necessary at that point.
Once inside, I took her coat and purse and laid them on my couch. Without a word, I grasped her hand and pulled her behind me into my bedroom.
I undressed her slowly, placing soft kisses everywhere I could reach.
She pushed my sweater up and off of me and then popped the buttons on my jeans. She kissed down my chest as she pushed them and my boxer-briefs down my legs.
We were completely bare for each other.
"So beautiful." My hands cradled her face as I pulled her in for a scorching kiss.
Bella's hands roamed my back, feeling the dip of my spine, sliding over my shoulder blades, seemingly wanting to trace and memorize every contour. I understood the desire. I wanted my hands all over her too, caressing every curve and dip of her body.
I led her to the bed, and she lay down in the middle against my pillows. Seeing her there, knowing she was finally mine, made the weeks of heartache worth going through.
I let my eyes trace every line and arc, taking in the body I already knew so well all over again like it was the first time I was seeing her.
We'd had sex countless times, but tonight was different.
Tonight was so much more.
Lying there in the middle of Edward's bed, I tried to calm my breathing. My heart was racing as I lay beneath his hungry stare, my body and mind feeling so many things all at once.
My eyes were hungry for him as well, and I took in the artwork that graced his skin, the sculpted lines of his torso, the trail of hair that led down to my favorite tattoo. I licked my lips, imagining running my tongue up each side of the V of his hips.
Edward's eyes shot to my mouth and then to my eyes. His were hooded, matching mine, the lust and passion growing palpable in the space between us.
I'd always enjoyed how much he wanted my body, but now that I knew he loved all of me, I felt like I needed him inside me more than I needed air.
I was absolutely burning for him.
His eyes began to roam over me again, and I arched my back a little, pushing my breasts out for him. My legs wouldn't stay still, one knee coming up and then the other, then back down, my toes pointing.
His gaze felt almost tangible on me, whispering touches only happening in my mind's eye, and I couldn't stand it anymore.
I slid my hands up over my torso and took hold of my breasts, squeezing them and then lightly pinching my nipples.
Edward's mouth dropped open as he expelled a heavy breath, his nostrils flaring in the sexiest way.
In the next second, he was on me. His hands replaced mine on my breasts, and he drew a nipple into his mouth, moaning and sucking, licking and nipping. My hands whipped through his hair as my head arched back at the exquisite sensations flooding my body.
As his lips moved across my skin, over my collarbone and up my throat, he continued rolling my nipples between elegant fingers, and the ache for him between my legs intensified exponentially.
Edward nipped at my ear and then sucked the lobe into his mouth before dusting my jawline with soft kisses and finally landing on my lips.
He shifted then so that he was cradled between my thighs, his thick erection sliding through the wetness he'd so expertly coaxed forth.
Releasing my lips, he retraced his path back down my neck, laying kisses, letting his tongue sneak out to taste when he reached my collarbone again.
Every touch, every kiss, every lick was making me burn hotter for him.
Combustion was inevitable.
Edward's warm hands ran up my arched spine as he kissed my sternum. "God, Bella. You're so fucking beautiful. So soft." Another kiss over my heart. "This is your softest spot," he whispered. "Right here." He touched his lips just under the curve of my breast.
Nothing else existed at that moment but this gorgeous man and what he was doing to me. "Edward. Please," I begged, my hips lifting, searching for him.
He went to move off me, reaching toward his nightstand, but I laid my palm on the side of his face, feeling the pinpricks of his two-day-old stubble. He looked at me with confused green eyes, and I smiled softly.
"I want to feel all of you. Please, Edward. I haven't been with anyone else, and I've been on birth control for years."
He searched my eyes. "Are you sure? I mean, I want to, and I haven't been with anyone else either since we started. And I've been tested since then," he stammered. Edward pressed his lips to mine. "I want to feel all of you too," he whispered against them.
In answer, I wrapped my legs around his waist and moved my hips until I was able to maneuver his plump head right to my entrance. I lifted my hips and pressed my heels into his ass once we were lined up, drawing him inside.
"Fuck," Edward whispered harshly, squeezing his eyes shut. His hips pressed forward then, his length sliding into me until our bodies were flush.
My eyes rolled back, and I squeezed around him, making him release another harsh breath. I felt him twitch inside me, and I squeezed again in response.
Edward's face was all I could see above me as he slid out and back in again, slow and slick. The vein on his forehead became more and more prominent as he pulled and pushed, again and again, invading and retreating, giving all of himself to me. One of his arms was underneath me, his large hand cradling my head as his other glided down my side. It smoothed over my ass and then down the underside of my thigh that was still wrapped around him. His fingertips pressed into the sensitive skin there, and I moaned as his languid thrusts continued. My hands raked through his silky hair continually, sometimes pulling when everything just became too much.
There wasn't a millimeter of space between our bodies as we writhed together, grinding, groaning, grunting. Our lips stayed locked as much as possible as we moved, the need to be connected in every way overwhelming.
Coherent thought was beyond my grasp as Edward ground his pubic bone into my clit. He circled his hips repeatedly until my moans turned to all-out sobs, begging for something I couldn't articulate. His thumb pressed into my mouth, and I licked it and scraped my teeth across the pad, eliciting a deep groan of my name from him. Edward snapped his hips forward, burying himself as deep as he could go and stilling inside me, watching my face as the euphoria took over. My body seized and shuddered, my walls gripping him like a vise and releasing him only to repeat the process over and over as my orgasm unfurled from low in my belly and spread to the very tips of my fingers and toes.
After giving me a moment, Edward drove his hips forward in several more quick thrusts, spilling into me and dropping his face to my neck, his heavy breaths gusting into my hair.
I skimmed my fingertips lazily up and down his spine as we lay there, still pressed together. Edward snaked his arms underneath my back and hugged me so tight. A tear leaked out of each of my eyes and slid into my hair. I didn't think he noticed. But then I sniffled, and he pulled his head back, wiping the moisture on my temples away with his fingers. "Don't cry, baby," he whispered. "I love you so much. Please, don't cry."
I smiled at him, more tears dripping into my hair.
"It's just overwhelming," I whispered. "I'm okay. I promise."
Edward pressed his lips firmly to mine in an emotionally charged kiss, and all ten of my fingers weaved into the back of his hair. My legs wrapped around his, anchoring him to me. We were connected in every possible way, and it still didn't feel like it was enough.
I wanted to be consumed by him.
This time, waking up in Edward's arms didn't make me tense up or freak out. I was blissfully happy.
I let my eyes drink in every detail of his face again, and I had no thoughts other than how much I loved this beautiful man as he let out little puffs of air between pouty lips.
I'd been running scared from him for so long, but he knew exactly what I needed and gave it to me freely. And I was so grateful that he kept pushing because to think that I could have lost him just about gutted me.
Staring at his lips for so long made it impossible to resist kissing him. When my lips touched his, he curled his arms tighter around me, returning my closed-mouth kiss.
"Mmm, good morning, gorgeous girl," he said in the sexiest, gravelly voice.
I wanted to pounce on him. But I had to pee, and we both had some wicked morning breath.
We fell back into bed together after getting cleaned up and wrapped ourselves around each other again. Edward lay on his back, and I was all but draped all over him, limbs tucked around him wherever possible.
"Do you have to work tonight?" he asked as his fingers trailed up and down my spine.
I was the most relaxed I'd been in probably my entire life at that moment.
I grinned at him. "Nope. When I was there last night, I switched shifts with another doctor. I'm all yours."
"Hmm. All mine, huh? I like the sound of that."
I kissed his chest and then sucked and bit gently at one of his nipples, causing him to release a low moan. "Whatever are you going to do with me?" I asked with a smirk.
Edward leaned up, growling and biting my earlobe. "I can think of about a million things I'd like to do with you, actually."
I giggled and sighed. "God, I'm so stupid."
"You're brilliant," he argued.
"Thank you for not giving up on me." I stared at his chest and traced circles there with my fingers. "I'm sorry I kept us from having this for so long."
"Hey." He waited until I looked at him before continuing. "It wasn't all you. We both made a mess of things at times. But none of that's important, okay? You're here now, and I'm here, and that's all that matters."
I nodded. "You're right." I planted a kiss on him, tasting his minty toothpaste. "You know," I said, pulling back a little, "if we're going to do this relationship thing, we should probably establish some ground rules."
His eyebrows climbed his forehead, but I continued. "So, rule number one, we don't—"
"Bella," he said, cutting me off.
"Shut up and let me love you."
My smile was huge. "Oh, that's a good rule."
Edward hummed his agreement before rolling me to my back and pressing his lips to mine. "The best."
Fuck-buddy Rule #1 - If one or both parties develop feelings, end it. Non-negotiable.
Rule status: Obliterated
In contract law, rescission has been defined as the unmaking of a contract for the mutual benefit of both parties.
Thank you all again so much! There is a possibility I will post an epilogue/futuretake for this at some point, but I can't make any promises.
Thanks for taking this ride with me! xoxo