AN: Hi, here's my entry for the Mark Me contest. I'm pretty bummed that it was cancelled. I spent a few late nights writing a last minute entry and owe so much thanks to dazzled eyes22 for pre-reading this when it was half written and I was ready to flounce. And to Ragna for managing to beta this at the very last minute. Thanks to Cosmogirl7481 & jarkin33 for hosting the contest.
Mark Me One-Shot Contest
Your pen name: Mylisssa
Disclaimer: The author of this entry does not own Twilight. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary:He's the sweetest guy she's ever met, playful, and always courteous, but she's not into that. There's no chemistry between them. "That's fine, Bella, because you're wrong."
A balled up straw wrapper hits my arm. I look up and lock eyes with the culprit, who is sitting across from me in the rounded booth. I flick it back. Edward smiles and sends it flying my way again. We aren't watching the games playing on the on the many screens in the crowded sports bar. We are playing a game ourselves, a game of flirtation. It's a game that will leave us both hurting—him, because I keep giving him hope just to squash it, and me, because I want to be able to give him what he wants.
Alice Cullen, one of my roommates and Edward's sister, pushes my hair off my shoulder and cups her hand in front of my ear. "Jazz and I are going to get out of here. You okay to catch a ride with Edward?"
I nod, not wanting to yell over the noise, and step out of the booth so they can get out. She looks to Edward and their oldest brother, Emmett and signals to them in the kind of language only siblings understand.
There's a tug on my hair, and I do a full spin around before I see Jasper innocently scanning through his phone beside me. We went to high school together. He's always been a menace, but if it weren't for him, I never would have met Alice. I reach up to pull his ear, but he's quick to dodge my advance and step away, daring me to come after him. I shake my head at his game. I'll get him back later.
Alice turns her petite frame toward me before they leave. "Be good," she says, but it's the kind of advice I should be giving her.
"I'll try." I blow her a kiss, and then she walks away with a skip in her step as she drags Jasper behind her.
When I sit back down, I sink a few inches into the seat cushion, and I feel out of place now that I'm left alone with Alice's brothers. It should be short lived. A few others are supposed to arrive at any moment. I glance toward the door but don't see anyone I recognize.
I try to avoid the green eyes that never stop watching me by sipping on the same, now-warm beer I've been drinking since we got here. If I keep looking at Edward when the noise silences our words, I know I'll give him the wrong idea once again. He's not my type, but sometimes I forget. Sneaking a glance anyway, I'm pulled back into the trap. I pick up the paper ball and toss it at him. It lands in his Sprite and clings to a piece of ice. I mouth a sorry because I didn't mean for it to land there.
He scrunches his nose as he fishes the paper out of his drink. He drops it on a napkin and wipes his hand. When he looks up, he smiles at me, and as I admire the shape of his mouth, I get the urge to lick his lips. I press my tongue against my glass instead. Avoidance is the key. I've already proven that I can't stop flirting. When I'm with him, it's like elementary school puppy love all over again. He's all small smiles and blushes. It's sweet, but there's no real allure. He's not what I'm into. It's not that I don't like nice guys, but Edward is nice to the point of being a pushover.
I narrow my vision to the two-toned Mohawk attending the bar. I envy his artwork. Green, red, and black covers his neck and every visible inch below it. If I were creative, I'd have tattoos from head to toe, but my lack of symmetrical thinking has left me with the conscious decision to leave my skin virgin. Mr. Bartender has a ring through the center of his lower lip. My tongue glides across the enamel on my teeth, but it's a far cry from feeling metal on my tongue. He oozes confidence. As he pours drinks and fraternizes with the patrons, he's as in charge of his surroundings as he is of his appearance.
Closing my eyes, I fantasize, but I'm not brazen. I admire the man from afar.
My designated driver nudges my arm. I look up at him, and he tilts his head toward Emmett. Bracing his arm on the booth, he leans forward and raises his voice to speak to me. "He's making me move. He wants to sit by Rose."
I don't answer, but I move over, eyeing Emmett as he tries to play it cool. His dimples peek out as he holds back an embarrassed smile. He's just as bad as Edward. At least with them, Rose wants him; she's just playing hard to get. She's my other roommate, but, more importantly, my oldest friend. We don't have secrets, but she has one that she's keeping from everyone else. She's making Emmett work for it, but she's working just as hard for him.
I lean away as Edward slides onto the seat beside me. Giving him the cold shoulder is easier than continuing to play around. My friendly intentions are always misconstrued. He'll end up asking me out or worse—try to kiss me. He's cute, but no. I'm not interested. I wring my hands on the hem of my jean skirt, catching sight of Edward's long fingers as they catch the drink that Emmett slides to him from the other side of the table.
All eyes are on the game we came here to watch. I feign interest. I only came here to get out for a bit. My brain can only retain so much information from studying and that threshold was exceeded days ago. It's no wonder that when someone thinks of a genius, they think of Einstein with his hair standing on end. Too much knowledge electrifies the brain, pushing it out through the hair follicles. Not that I'm a genius; I just study too hard for too long in an attempt to skate by. I run my hands over my hair just in case. My eyes keep drifting to Edward's fingers or to his hands in general. I blame my interest on fatigue and look away.
I see Rose as she makes her way over, a breeze practically blowing through her blonde hair as she walks toward us wearing four-inch heels and a mini dress. She's too much. She spent hours at home preparing for this. I watched for a few minutes and teased her for being ridiculous. When she sees our seating arrangement, she grabs a chair and pulls it up to the end of the table instead of sitting in the space next to Emmett. His broad shoulders droop, but he should have known better. Perhaps if he had been sitting on the edge of the seat, she would have told him to scoot. She craves that kind of control.
Rosalie avoids my face as she greets everyone. One look into my teasing eyes might crumble her façade. Otherwise, she's a master at not giving herself away. Every flick of her wrist and toss of her hair looks natural, but it's all for Emmett's benefit.
Holding my phone under the table, I text Rose.
Tone it down. Your drama classes are showing.
When she gets the message, she laughs, but glares at her phone as she texts me back.
Angela and Ben arrive, holding their hands in each other's back pockets. Their relationship is new, but their friendship with the Cullens is as old as they are. Everyone exchanges high fives, handshakes, and waves. To make room for the happy couple, I scoot around the booth toward Emmett, and Edward moves closer to me—close enough that our legs are brushing against each other.
We're all paired off. Rose would never admit it, but it's true. It's been a common occurrence since we got a place with Alice. Her brothers being around all the time is just a part of the deal. Emmett's and Rose's differing opinions lead to drawn out arguments that leave them both hot and bothered before she pulls away.
Edward has always looked at me like I'm the only girl he's ever seen. I don't mind his attention, but I don't always know what to do with it. I love the silliness between us, but at some point, he starts reading too much into it, and I'm running out of ways to turn him down without being mean.
Edward tickles my side. "What's wrong?"
I squirm as I push his hand away. "Nothing," I say as he slings his arm across the back of the booth behind me.
He exudes warmth. It would be so easy to lean into him, but I refrain because that would be pushing the friendship line too far.
Emmett pounds the table with his fist at the same time that Ben pumps his in the air. They scowl at each other, wearing rivaling jerseys, and start placing bets.
I cringe at the outburst. Leaning toward Edward's ear, I ask, "How much longer do you want to stay here?"
He moves his hand to my shoulder, squeezes it a bit as if it's casual, but he leaves it there. "I'm ready to go whenever you are."
"Okay, I'm ready." I nudge Emmett to let us out.
Emmett scowls. "Why are you leaving already? The game's not over and I just ordered more wings." He bumps me with his elbow, looking at me like I'll be missing out if I go.
My stomach turns at the thought of eating more than the couple of wings I've already consumed. I'm not too keen on bar food.
"Sorry. I'm really tired." I give him a one-armed hug before he stands up and takes my hand to help me out of the booth.
Edward offers to find our server so we can pay. I watch him for a moment as he weaves through tables and rowdy sports fans.
Rose gives me a death glare through her lashes that appear three times longer than they did when she woke up this morning. "Really, Bella? I just got here."
It's not my fault she waited so long to show up. Making an entrance is just a waste of time.
Kissing her powdered cheek, I wrap my arms around her shoulders. "You're already driving him crazy. Don't you think it's time for the next step?"
Her burgundy smirk is mischievous. I assume this was already her intent.
I see Edward hand our server his card. I head over because I need to pay my bill, too. Before I get there, the woman is handing him his card back. Edward turns from her, and her high ponytail almost hits him as she spins away.
"Hey," he says, taking two steps closer. "I paid for yours, too. We can go."
I lift my hand to my forehead and rub the crease before it forms. Edward is full of friendly gestures. I should be grateful, but it makes me uncomfortable. "Oh, thanks. I'll have to pay you back another time. I don't have any cash on me."
"Don't worry about it. I got this." He offers me his arm as we walk to the exit.
I roll my eyes at his constant chivalry but slip my arm through his anyway. His long-sleeved flannel is soft against my skin, and I find myself leaning closer to feel more of the material. There's an eruption of boos and cheers behind us. I'm glad that we're getting out of here. Staying would have ensured that I would spend the night with a headache.
I'm led to Edward's car without a word. He opens my door and waits by it until I'm inside so he can shut it for me. I shiver when my arms meet the back of the cold leather seat. It's comfortable, though, so if it weren't for the cold, I'd probably fall asleep.
Edward sits behind the wheel, starts the car, but doesn't pull out of the parking lot. His fingers twitch in his lap. "Do you want to go straight home? We could get coffee…"
"I don't drink caffeine at night."
"Oh, right. They have decaf, though. Or those cake pops you like?" He shrugs.
"You just want to watch me eat cake off a stick." I hold my hand over my mouth, regretting having said that out loud.
The color in his cheeks warms. "You caught me." He chuckles. "For real though, do you wanna go?"
I wouldn't mind going with him. I'm sure we'd have a good time. I have to remind myself of all the reasons why I shouldn't. Playing around is one thing, but anything that could be classified as a date is off limits.
"No, not tonight." I look out my window, avoiding the downcast of his eyes.
"Okay." He backs out of the space, turning the steering wheel in one fluid motion.
Sometimes, I wonder how I would feel if he didn't accept my no so easily. He's understanding and patient. There's no doubt that he'll ask me out again even though he has to know by now that I'm going to turn him down.
I steal glances at him throughout the drive, trying to gauge his mood. He catches me repeatedly from the corner of his eye because I never look away in time.
I like his nose the most. It's the one part of the body I like the least on pretty much everyone, but I like his. It doesn't stand out. It just fits. He listens to oldies, which I don't really like, but I don't mind the songs he plays. All that should mean something to me, but it's not enough.
When we get to my apartment, I take his hand, hoping to feel something as our energies meet. Tilting my head, I look into his eyes from a different angle. His face is stone straight as I assess him. I doubt he knows what to make of my actions, but he doesn't question me.
I squeeze his hand and feel nothing but a clammy palm. "Thanks for the ride." I let go and turn away.
"Do you want to go out tomorrow? We can get pancakes at the diner in the morning, or we could do something at night," he says as I open my door.
"I don't think so," I say, my heart tearing as the hurt clouds his eyes.
"Is there another day that works?" His voice is soft, but I hear the hope.
If I hadn't sworn to Alice that I wouldn't break his heart, I'd give him a chance. I do like him, I do, but there's a difference between liking and wanting. There's no pull between us. I can't just let him take me on a date when I know I'm not interested in more.
Shaking my head, I say, "I'm sorry."
He clears his throat. "Why not, Bella?" He tucks his lips inside his mouth.
"Edward," I say as tears start building in my eyes. I don't want to do this.
"Just tell me. I don't know how I keep getting this wrong."
I busy my hands by holding them in front of the heater vent. "You're not wrong. I have a lot fun with you, but I just don't think it would work out."
"Why wouldn't it?"
All of my reasons sound unfair. What kind of complex will I give him if I tell him he's just too damn nice for me? I sniffle as I try to rein in my emotions. What right do I have to cry over this?
My chest heaves as I take a deep breath. "I think you're great, but the chemistry just isn't there."
His jaw falls before he clamps it closed. "How do you know?" His nostrils flare. "We would be good together. You won't even give us a chance."
I'm startled by the hint of anger in his voice. "It's just the way I feel." I don't want to elaborate. It is what it is. There's no changing it, and I'd never want to change him. He's perfect how he is, but I can't force feelings that I don't have.
"That's fine, Bella, because you're wrong." He closes his eyes and hangs his head, breathing heavily, maybe even counting to ten.
A lone tear slips from my eye, and I swipe it off my cheek with the back of my hand. It all feels so final, like an end to a relationship that never was.
He doesn't say anything else. There's really nothing left to say.
I step out of the car and brace myself on the door as I lean down. I mean to wish him a good night, but I can't bring myself to walk away and leave things like this. I don't want him to be mad at me. I want to fix this. "Aren't you staying over?"
When we all hang out, it's not uncommon for Edward to crash on our couch. Of course, Alice is always the one to offer, but she's not out here.
He keeps his eyes focused on something straight in front of him. "I don't know. Do you want me to?"
I curl my fingers around the top of the door, smudging the window with my fingerprints. "Yeah, we're still friends, right? You wanted to hang out, so let's hang out here."
He bites the inside of his cheek as he opens his door. "Okay."
I lead the way, but I can feel his presence not too far behind me. His car horn beeps as he locks the doors with the remote on his key ring.
I hear the music just before I open the door. Alice and Jasper never hold back. Some music is made for the sole purpose of sex—whether it's in one's mind or body doesn't matter. The words choreograph their role-playing. I've heard the evidence on more than one occasion. We step inside and the situation is worse than I first thought; she has left her bedroom door open.
I turn to Edward, ready to tell him "never mind," but one look in his melancholy eyes and I can't ask him to leave. I've rejected his date advances, but bailing on him now would be like rejecting his friendship.
Placing my hands on his shoulders, I say, "Look at the floor, follow my steps, and trust me, whatever you do, do not look toward her room."
His eyes bug out as we hear the groan of box springs during the quiet moment in between songs. He may know his sister well, but there are some things he doesn't need to see.
We walk through the dark hallway to my room, though I'm unsure of what we'll do when we get there. I flick on the light and look around as Edward stands in the hall behind me. My blue bra is hanging over the back of my computer chair. I draped it there when it didn't work with the halter top I chose to wear. I grab it and cram it in my already-full desk.
After I make my twin-sized bed the best that I can without taking my blankets off it and laying them down one by one, I look back to find Edward's eyes still glued to the floor. A squeal erupts from the other side of the apartment, causing Edward to grimace, but he keeps looking at the floor just as I asked him to.
I grab his arm, pull him into the room, and fall back against the door as I close it. A gust of wind is created and my calendar flies up and then smacks against the wall. "I guess we came back too early. I'm sorry you had to hear that."
"It's nothing I haven't heard before. She's never been shy." He pulls my black, mesh computer chair out from under the desk. After spinning it around, he sits down, a disbelieving smirk on his face. "How long do you think we'll be hiding for?"
I shrug, not really having an idea. There's a possibility that they keep this up all night. "Could be hours."
The TV buzzes to life after I press the power button. I leave it on the cheesy comedy that comes up. Edward's jaw is set as he watches the show. I take off my shoes and sit down on my bed in the corner of my room. When Edward doesn't make a move to talk or even look at me, I move back to lean against the wall, which is vibrating from Alice's music.
As I rub my royal blue, fleece blanket, I find places where the material is worn. As soft as the rest of the blanket is, my fingers keep going back to the rough patches. I pretend to watch the screen for a few minutes, but Edward's right in my peripheral. He's in the same place that I always catch him looking at me, but now I'm the one who can't stop looking. It's a good thing he isn't catching me. I don't know what my deal is tonight. The wall stops buzzing, and I curse Alice for the awkward situation I'm in now when the music starts back up again.
"Hey." I scoot down the bed until I can reach Edward and nudge his chair with my foot. "Do you want to watch this?"
"Yeah, this is good." He doesn't look my way.
Maybe he's giving me the same cold shoulder that I give him all the time, and I wonder if I do it this blatantly. It's harsher than I ever realized, and him liking me makes even less sense now than it did before.
"Why aren't you looking at me?" I ask.
He doesn't say anything, but when I'm about to push his chair again, he spins around and grabs my foot instead. He looks at me without blinking.
"Well, now you're not talking." I try to pull my foot back, but he doesn't let go.
His hair falls in his eyes before he pushes his fingers through it to shove it back. "What do you want me to say?"
"Anything. Just talk to me. I don't want things to be weird with us."
"Umm…so…I don't know." He shrugs his shoulder and leans his ear toward it. "You're putting me on the spot here."
He's looking at me so seriously. I spend a good deal of time avoiding his admiration, but I spend all that time noticing him noticing me, and this isn't an expression he has ever had for me. I don't like it—his disinterest. "Well, come sit by me at least. I feel like I'm hanging out by myself."
"I'm okay right here." He rests my foot on his thigh.
My insides sink in as I look at him, trying to figure out if he's kidding. Why wouldn't he want to sit by me? Right now he's sitting too close to the TV.
We get caught in a stare down. After a few beats, it begins to feel silly, as if we're having a contest. I squint at him and he smiles.
His smile is contagious and my own overtakes me. "You're cute," I say out loud just as the thought hits me. I'm immediately embarrassed, but when his smile grows even bigger, I don't regret saying it.
"You're so confusing." He starts tracing my ankle in a pattern that feels like a figure eight, or eternity.
"Why?" I laugh at my own question.
"I don't know why. You're supposed to tell me why."
My gaze goes between him and the TV as I speak. "Maybe I'm confused."
He walks two fingers up my lower leg. "Maybe someday you'll figure it out."
I look at his features, the way his eyes crinkle and his hair and how it keeps falling because he never puts anything in it to help hold it in place. I've always liked him just fine, but what I feel right now is a crush that I'm not sure how long I've had.
My mouth is parched. I lick my lips but find no relief. "I hope so."
His eyes soften, and I'm relieved when he says, "I hope so, too."
"So, come sit by me." I pull my leg off him and move over even though there was already plenty of room.
He looks at me with turmoil in his eyes. I'm a tornado of confusion. If he could hear what goes on in my mind, he'd know he's not the only one who's torn.
He blows out a whistling breath through pursed lips and takes a seat next to me.
We sit with our backs against the wall. The space between our shoulders is as thin as notebook paper.
Moments pass and my back begins to ache from the stiff posture I'm holding despite the vibrating massage Alice and Jasper's music is causing. Edward snorts at something that happens on TV, but I'm not paying attention to the show. I'm wavering back and forth, fighting a battle inside of myself that I don't think he knows about. If I try to pursue a relationship with him, and it fails just like I expect it to, my life will be changed forever. My friendship with Alice would be strained. My living situation might have to change. Then there's Edward and his unyielding infatuation. It's flattering, and if I lost it…well, I'm selfish to want it to continue, but I do. I want someone to always look at me the way he does. Not just anyone, I want him to always look at me the way he does.
How can I be so sure that we don't have chemistry when I've never given us a chance.
His hand is on his thigh. Mine is on mine. I turn off my conscience and act on impulse. My fingers twitch. I move my pinky, so it brushes the back of his hand.
He presses his fingertips into his jeans. The veins on the back of his hand become more prominent.
I trace the blue lines, follow where they fork off, and then to where they appear to stop between his knuckles.
The vibration of the wall stops. I hold my breath until it starts again. I'm not ready for Edward to have a reason to leave just yet.
He turns his hand over and wraps his fingers around mine.
Our fingers interlock. He moves his thumb from my palm to the back of my hand, circling beneath my thumb and repeating.
He looks at me with wonder behind his eyes. I have no answers.
"Why do you like me?" I ask.
"A lot of guys like you? Why wouldn't I?"
"Not a lot, but I get why other guys might like me. I don't get why you do."
He stares at me for a moment before squeezing my hand. "There are a lot of reasons. I like what's behind your eyes. You're always thinking. Always. You're determined. I like that you wake up early in the morning to study instead of staying up all night like most people."
I nudge his shoulder with mine. "That's the only time I can focus. I don't mean to wake you up."
"Hey, I'm not complaining. I like…never mind." He chuckles as he turns his face away from me, and I can no longer see his eyes.
My body turns toward him. It feels involuntarily, but I'm fully aware. "No, now you have to tell me."
He shakes his head. "No, it's not polite. Just forget it."
I doubt an impolite thought has ever crossed his mind. I inch my face closer to his as I say, "Edward, please tell me." I move my hand up his arm. I'm playful and needy. This is surpassing the line of harmless flirting.
He glances at me, at my eyes and then at my lips. "Bella." He rubs his free hand over his face and then frowns when he sees me pout. "Okay, okay." He scoffs. "I like the way you look when you first wake up."
"Why?" I don't recall him ever being awake, but pre-coffee me isn't a sight I wish on anyone. "I'm a mess in the morning."
"Your hair's all tousled, but you're not a mess. I think you look good all the time, but it's what you're wearing that…I don't know." His eyes are flitting around.
"You like my long t-shirts?" I ask, even though I do, too, but they're not attractive. I'd like to get out of this outfit and change into one now, though.
"They're not long, and you don't wear pants, so yeah, you look hot." He bites his lip like he's trying to hold in the smile I can still see on the corners of his mouth.
My face heats up at the compliment. "Thanks." I shrug. "I had no idea. You're always asleep when I get up, so I didn't know you'd ever seen me."
"I know. I don't always wake up, and then sometimes I keep my eyes closed because it feels like you're looking at me. Like I know that you're not, but I just get that feeling, you know?"
"I do sometimes," I admit. "I told you I think you're cute. I've always thought so."
There's maybe six inches of space between his face and mine, and I really want to kiss him—to prove that we're not compatible or to prove that I was wrong. I could lean in, and he could too, and we'd be right there.
He looks down instead and the moment passes.
I bend my knees and pull my legs toward my chest, bunching up my blankets further and causing my skirt to ride up. "I'm going to go change really quick."
When I grab a sleep tee, I hesitate before deciding to grab a pair of black leggings that I usually only wear under dresses that are too short.
I look at him as I turn the knob. "I'll be right back."
I step out into the hall and close the door behind me. The music has stopped. I can hear voices in the kitchen. I ignore them, step into the bathroom, and change.
After I brush my teeth and wash my face, I'm giddy-anxious to get back to my room.
When I leave the bathroom, Emmett catches sight of me. I'm almost surprised he's here, but it was only a matter of time. His lips are smeared with burgundy-colored lipstick, and his dimples are on display.
"Hey, Bella." He nods down the hall. "Is Edward here? I saw his car."
"Yes." I glance back to my door, taking a step in that direction.
Emmett waggles his eyebrows at me. I wave him off and go back to my room, closing the door again. If Edward doesn't say anything about leaving now that the sex games are over, I'm not giving him any reason to think he should.
Edward's long-sleeved flannel is hanging over the back of my desk chair, and his shoes are haphazardly lying on the floor below it.
He's leaning against the wall in the same place he was sitting when I left. He's wearing a black tank top. I can see the definition in his biceps, which I'd never noticed before. A line of black is peeking out from the side of his shirt where his chest meets his shoulder.
I sit on the end of the bed to look closer. "You have a tattoo?"
He looks to where my eyes are fixated as if he isn't sure himself. "Umm…yeah. I have a few. Do you have any?"
"No." I move closer, but sideways so that I'm facing him. "Can I see?"
The corners of his eyes crinkle and he seems to be trying to hide a smirk but eventually gives in. He takes the section of his shirt covering the rest of the tattoo and pulls the material away, stretching the rippled fabric until three swords are revealed, all meet at their points.
I rub my fingers across the ink. "Does this mean something?"
"It was Alice's idea. Emmett has the same one on his leg, but Alice didn't go through with it."
"Did you think she would?" Alice can't handle the slightest pain.
"I guess we should have known better." He lets go of his shirt, and it moves back over the swords but still exposes the handle of the one on the end that has a tiny bow, representing Alice.
"Can I see your other tattoos?" I ask.
He looks shocked at first, but he pulls his shirt over his head and leans forward, showing me his back where his last name is tattooed from shoulder to shoulder in jet black calligraphy surrounded by barbed wire.
He leans back, and when I see his chest, I gasp. I cover my mouth, embarrassed of the sound that just came out.
"Are you okay?" he asks as he reaches for his shirt.
I stop his hands, take the shirt, and push it out of reach. It falls off the bed.
"When did you do this?" I nod toward the silver hoops pierced through his nipples. "How did I not know?"
"I don't know. Does it matter?" His legs bounce, shaking the mattress beneath us.
Confusion knits my eyebrows. "It's just, why keep it all covered up? Don't you want to show it off?"
"Not really. I didn't get anything done for other people."
I want to touch his piercings like I did his sword tattoo, but the intimacy of the action stops me.
There's more ink on his right side. I lean over his body, bracing myself on my arm as I rest it on the bed on the other side of his legs. This tattoo is the outlined profile of a lion.
"What's this one for?" I ask, as I reach forward and touch the lines.
Goosebumps break out on his skin.
"Pride," he says. He swallows hard. I can hear the gulp go down his throat.
I look up at him and find myself eye level with his nipples. "Pride?" My nose crinkles as I wonder what that means to him.
The back of his head hits the wall with a thump. "I have pride, Bella. I'm just good at swallowing it."
Gone are the smirks and reddened cheeks. His features have fallen in that familiar way he gets after putting himself out there just to have me turn him down…again. He's the picture of devastation.
I lift myself up, so my elbow is no longer bent, but I'm still leaning over his legs. He diverts his gaze to the door.
"Hey, look at me." I brush my thumb under his chin, and he complies.
His eyes dart back to the door, but they are back on me just as fast.
"You're an amazing guy, you know that?"
His chest rises and stays up as he holds his breath. Putting my hand on his sternum, I press it back down, encouraging him to breathe.
He covers my hand with his. "You're killing me right now."
"I'm not trying to."
He moves my hand down his chest, down his stomach, and down to my lap. "What are you trying to do?"
I feel rejected as he lets go of my hand, but he's made so many moves, been rejected so many times that I can't just give up because of a tiny scratch to my pride.
"Maybe you're right, and I'm wrong."
He slouches, rounding his back against the wall. "About what?"
My eyes grow heavy as desire weighs them down. "Our chemistry."
He exhales through his nose. His mouth is on mine before I get a chance to blink, but on pure instinct, I'm kissing him back before my brain catches up. He's firm but sweet, controlling yet soft. Our lips move together, and they are pliant in all of the right spots.
I'm running out of breath, but I don't care. I breathe against his mouth and keep our lips together. There's a warm rush between us. I don't know if it's coming from him or me, but I'm melting everywhere.
He moves his hand over my thigh, brushing the hem of my top. I regret having put the pants on, but they don't matter. With the way I'm feeling now, they might turn to ash and fall off.
I hear Alice's distant laugh and feel Edward pause for a moment before his lips start moving again.
He kisses my cheek and moves his mouth to my ear. "You were wrong," he says in a whisper that makes my stomach coil, and my hips shift.
"I know," I say, gasping.
I push my lips against his, slide my tongue against the part between his lips, and deepen our kiss. His tongue moves slowly against mine. He tastes like lemon-lime from all those soft drinks he drank tonight, and his skin smells like coconut. His hand glides up and down my legs, and on the third pass, he brings his hand up higher and cups my ass, squeezing me with a firm grasp. The warmth of his hand penetrates through the thin fabric.
I moan, and it vibrates through me in a similar way the music did to the wall before. I listen for a reaction from the sound I just made, as if someone might knock on the door or as if I might hear an echo of myself bounce back at me. The reaction I get doesn't come in the form of a sound, but in the form of Edward's hurried hands.
He pulls me up closer and higher as I move my legs to straddle him. He hikes my shirt up to my waist, and I consider yanking the damn thing over my head, but my hands are frenzied and not working correctly.
We make out like if we stop, so will the whole world. I glide my hand across his chest and over the hoop that's through his nipple, feeling the puckered skin next to the metal.
He moves his mouth to my neck and his kisses become languid. His touch is caressing and relishing in the moment. I look into his eyes and see myself reflected. He looks at me like I'm the most important person, like I'm better than I am. It's humbling and uplifting. I put my palms on his cheeks and try to show him with my eyes that I'm in this, too. I want this. I'm fully open and not holding back.
His hands move under my shirt, over my sides and around my back, moving back down every bump on my spine. "What are you thinking?" he asks.
"I don't know how I was so wrong about us. I'd take it all back if I could." I move my hands around his neck and play with the hair on the back of his head.
"You're worth the wait." He nips at my lips and pulls on my hips until I'm sitting on his lap.
I can feel the length of his cock between my legs. I moan at the contact, lift a little, and push myself down on him again. I'm wet and overheating to a point that he may just feel it through my thin leggings and the rough material of his jeans.
His eyes are hooded. I trace his eyebrows and the length of his nose with my fingers.
"You're so beautiful," he says as he moves his hands up my shirt, brushing the side of my breasts.
I whimper when his hands move back down. It's a sound I've never heard myself make before, but my body is craving him in a way that I don't understand.
His lips are on my collarbone, and I feel like pleading for something, to beg him to keep going, and to never let this stop.
He pushes me back down to the bed with such force that I bounce. I have to hold in my laughter, because who knew he could take so much control?
He moves up my body, pushing my shirt up as he goes until it's bunched up at my neck and my breasts are exposed.
The overhead light flickers like it's about to go out, but it just dims.
His eyes scan my body. "Is this okay?"
It's more than okay. I nod, pulling him down on top of me.
He moves his head down and flicks his tongue against my nipple before taking it into his mouth. I grasp his arms, squeezing them and feeling them flex under my touch.
He kisses down my stomach, skimming over my ribs on his way. Stopping at my navel, he glances up at me. I give him a smile, and then stop watching. I feel him at the waistband of my pants and then lower, between my legs, kissing and breathing against the outside of my pants. When I feel his teeth nipping at me, my legs clamp against his shoulders, trapping him against me.
I tangle my fingers in his hair and run them through the soft strands. "Come back up here," I say, loving what he's doing but missing his weight on me.
He doesn't hesitate to do as I've asked. "No chemistry." He laughs as he buries his face in my neck.
I ignore his teasing comment and kiss the area on his shoulder that's within reach. When I add my tongue, he hums. I suck on his skin, leaving a slight mark.
He pushes at my pants, so I help him take them off. It's a struggle and a bit of wiggling, but we manage to get them free, exposing the blue lace that was meant to match the blue bra that I didn't end up wearing.
Coarse denim rubs on my bare skin. The way my legs won't stop moving against him, it's like his pants are as smooth as silk sheets instead of the opposite.
When I reach for the button on his jeans, he stops me. "I don't know how far you are wanting to go, but you should know that I don't have anything on me right now. I really didn't expect this."
I wasn't thinking or planning. I was only feeling. "I don't have anything, either, but I think there's a box under the sink in the bathroom."
"Okay." He looks at me with longing eyes. His arms are braced to push him off the bed, but his lips keep coming back to mine.
"Hurry," I say, breaking the kiss.
I pull my shirt back down before he opens the door.
While he's gone, I close my eyes, hoping to stay in this moment. My brain has a knack for questioning my choices, but even as my thoughts start running away from me, I can't think of a reason not to keep going with this. I can't believe how this night has turned out, but it's definitely for the better.
There's a commotion outside the door, and I hear Emmett's raised voice, but I can't make out what he's saying. The door whips open and Edward steps inside and closes it just as fast, turning the lock as he does.
He chuckles at the footsteps behind the door and the irritated grunt as they retreat. "Apparently, there's only one of these left in this place." He holds up a blue Trojan.
I automatically think of Alice, but I don't voice my theory. My phone beeps with an alert of a new text.
I look around for my phone, but Edward finds it first.
"Can you read me that?" I ask.
He looks down at the phone. "Rose says you better explain everything to her tomorrow, but go ahead. She'll make Emmett run to the drug store. Do you want anything?" He stares at the question on the screen as if it's the strangest this he's ever seen.
I chuckle at her nonchalant attitude. "Tell her no."
He types out the text and places my phone on the desk. When he lies back beside me, he's stiff and less sure of himself.
I pull him to me, hugging him close, enjoying the way our bodies fit together.
"I want you," I say as I pop open the button on his jeans and pull down the zipper.
He pushes his pants off, revealing blue checkered boxers underneath.
He helps me sit up and pulls my shirt over my head. "You don't know how many times I've thought about doing this."
I lie back down. "How many?" I ask as I pull my last piece of clothing down my legs.
His eyes follow the slow descent of the material. "I don't even know."
I bend at my waist while lying on my side. I pull back the elastic on his boxers and let go. It takes a few seconds, but he gets what I want and tugs them off.
With the condom in place, he moves over me, and I guide him inside of me. We don't fall automatically into a synchronized rhythm. We overcorrect and laugh when we fumble for a few minutes before having to start over again.
But when we start moving in sync, I'm in bliss with the pulsating pressure. His thrusts are strong as he fills me, pulling out and pushing inside of me again.
He runs his teeth along my jaw before clamping them on my lower lip and sucking it into his mouth. My back arches at the sensation. It's a sear of pain, but it hurts in the best way.
I dig my nails into his back, scraping across his ink; all the while he keeps control of our pace and doesn't keep his mouth off of me. The trail his mouth takes from my breasts to my neck and back again, leaves behind patches of prickling warmth. I have no doubt that he's leaving marks. He wraps his arms under my waist, holding my hips up off the bed at a different angle. I start whimpering his name out on every exhale.
My thoughts are clear enough to make a conscious decision. I push myself up until his nipple is in my mouth and the metal hoop is on my tongue. I lose all coherency.
All of the atoms that I'm made of scatter in the air. When they fall back together it's a lazy resurrection. I'm a new person—someone I don't know. All of my limbs are limp, and I'm grinning to myself, to the ceiling, to the haze that isn't leaving.
His movements slow, and I focus on the way his mouth falls open when he comes.
Edward lifts himself off me and kisses me softly. The bed moves as it loses his weight, and I miss it already.
After turning off the light, he comes back to bed and spoons my body against his. "All this time I've spent chasing you, and all I had to do was take off my shirt."
"Hey," I say, turning toward him to steal a kiss. "That's not true."
"What is true?" He presses his lips against the back of my neck.
My stomach gurgles, giving me my answer. "In the morning, you're taking me to the diner for pancakes."
I feel his lips curl into a smile. "That's true."
A/N: Thanks for reading. Please review.