Hi there.

I know, I know... it's not a Chain Reaction update, but this one's complete. Two updates a day until it's finished (if Little araeo allows it... she's kinda obsessed with my laptop and throws a fit whenever she sees it). So as long as she takes at least one nap a day, you'll get one chapter during the day and one in the evening after she's gone to bed. Some chapters will be kinda short, but I think it works.

While I know I've still got an unfinished story going (which I AM going to finish), writing this one was an escape for my mind when I desperately needed it, and I hope it makes you smile a little. That just might make me smile. Writing this was a kind of therapy for me. A brain vacation. Hope you enjoy.

Many thanks to KristenLynn1121 for the beta and so much more.


/ she said: The End of the Line – 12:49 p.m.

My hallway seems dimmer than usual as I try to fumble the key into the slot. It's also stuffier – almost muggy. It only makes the heat of him at my back even more pronounced. My nipples are standing at attention beneath all the trendy fall layers Alice forced me to wear. And it's definitely not chilly in here.

He's so close I can smell him. It's infinitely better than the hint of Indian food that usually lingers in the hall on Saturday nights. Old Mrs. Newton down the hall sure loves her theme nights. I just hope her Vindaloo tastes better than it smells.

"So what would the Chief think of you inviting me up on the first date?"

He's even closer than I thought, and the very same heat that turned my nipples into buzzing neon lights begins to build quite a bit lower.

God, if he only knew how much he affects me. I'm in trouble.

"First official date. We've hung out a couple times before this. Plus, the Chief and I don't discuss my dates," I manage to say, glad my back is still to him so he can't see me smile. "And you're getting one beer, then it's time to hit the road."

"He still wouldn't approve," Edward says matter-of-factly, just a little cocky.

The only weapon in my defense arsenal is sarcasm, and I have no choice but to load and fire. Casting a raised brow back at him, I ask, in what I hope is my best seductive voice, "Are you suggesting I call my Daddy and ask if it's okay for you to come over and play?" Finally the deadbolt clicks and the door swings open to my cool, dim apartment. Edward follows me, mouth hanging open a little at my audacity.

Even looking so dumbstruck, he's ridiculously good-looking. Like Derek Zoolander. He's got the perfect Blue Steel. Pretty damn effective, with the embellishments of that ridiculously sexy hair and amazing green eyes.

I guess that would make it Green Steel, though...

Yes, my brain is a strange and puzzling place.

I hold my hand out for his jacket, and he's still gaping at me. "I'm joking," I say with a smile.

There's only one lamp lit in the far corner, one of those new energy-saving bulbs – which means it's basically a glorified night light. I flip on the overhead lamp and head into my postage-stamp sized living/dining area, stripping off my jacket and tossing it over the recliner Charlie – the Chief himself – purchased. It was a "gift". Likely so he has his very own La-Z-Boy to plant his ass in when he visits. I prefer the overstuffed love seat.

I turn back toward Edward and have to keep myself from groaning in want. This guy - he's perfect. Great sense of humor, kind, attentive… and so Goddamn pretty he makes my teeth hurt. We even like the same network cable TV. The man watches An Idiot Abroad, for Christ's sake. We both wholeheartedly agree that Carl Pilkington is the British Larry David. You know – slightly less offensive and a bit more subdued. Stiff upper lip, and all that.

Edward comes closer, shrugging his soft, warmed leather jacket off his shoulders and hands it over. I drape it over mine on the chair, biting my lip so I won't moan at the sight of his bare forearms showcased by sleeves rolled up to just below the elbow. His dress shirt is a little creased, and I can tell he wore it straight from the clinic.

He's a doctor. That's one of my things. He's so freaking smart, and it turns me on. I want him to wear his lab coat and read to me from a medical journal in that rich, smooth, panty-melting voice.

Which he finally finds – when he speaks, it's a little hoarse (oh, yum). "You really shouldn't have said that."

I look up to find him smiling, just one corner of his mouth turning up. He still hasn't stepped back; he's in my personal bubble. It's totally out of character for me, but I actually like it.

I even want him closer.

His eyes are dark; his wide, deep pupils limned with green in the dim light. I'm caught in his tractor beam and wish he'd 'kling-on' to me.

Yeah. The boy makes me stupid. I just made a Trekkie joke. Jesus.

"It was mean," he states, and I've been so busy mooning over him that I'm lost in the conversation.

I blink. "I'm mean?"

"Very. You were just trying to turn me on. Teasing me like that. When the flesh is so... so weak."

Now it's my turn to be struck dumb – I think subconsciously (or not) I was trying to wind him up. Heat floods my cheeks in embarrassment. I never expected him to call me out like that.

Grinning now, he leans a little closer and whispers, "It worked, you know." And then he backs off, shoving his hands in his pockets and strolling the measly four feet to my dining room. "Nice place."

Nice place? He goes from oozing sex to 'nice place?'

He pauses, spotting the simple bouquet of wildflowers he'd brought when he picked me up for dinner. I'd quickly put them in my only good vase before we left.

I swallow hard. "Thanks."

Just so I have something to do with my suddenly sweaty palms, I go to the kitchen and make a show of peering into the fridge. My alcohol supply is pitifully low. There are two Heinekens left from my brother's visit last weekend, and half a box of red wine. Hey, that Bota Box stuff is pretty good. And very hard to resist when I can get four bottles-worth of wine in one box for less than the price of two glass bottles.

At least if I offer him the Heineken, I might be less tempted to kiss him. That stuff smells like skunk. And not the good green kind. You know, the kind of which Snoop Dogg would heartily approve.

But for some reason, I think not even that skunky stuff would keep me away from Edward Cullen's lips.

"Want a Heinie?" What? Did I really just say that?

He smirks and says, "I'd love one." His eyes drop pointedly to my ass.

I guess I did.

Trying to play it off, I pour a glass of wine for myself. When I turn around, I find Edward making himself comfortable on my tiny sofa, remote already in hand, aimed at the TV. I give him the beer and awkwardly hover, realizing I've cluttered up the only other seating in the room with our jackets.

He points at the cushion next to him, still giving me that look. Except he can't look at my ass because I'm facing him. No, his eyes are focused innocently on mine as he charms the ever-loving hell out of me – without saying a word – in spite of myself.

In some sort of daze, I half-sit, half fall beside him, even though I know I shouldn't. Being this close to him is like leaving a pyromaniac unsupervised in a wholesale fireworks warehouse – complete with one of those high-powered butane torches.

Yeah. I'm about to go up in flames – complete with those crackly sparkly things.

As I settle next to him, I barely remember to keep my knees closed. No matter how often I wear leggings, I still feel little bit naked. They're more like footless tights than actual pants. And I'm feeling particularly exposed.

Before I can resettle myself at a more respectable distance, he hooks an arm around my shoulders and hauls me up against his side. I barely keep from sloshing my wine all over the place. With what I swear is a sigh of contentment, he relaxes back into the cushions, taking me with him. Then he nonchalantly turns on the TV, directing his attention to a syndicated episode of The Big Bang Theory.

Eager to distract myself from being up close with his torso – sweet Jesus, he's in nice shape underneath that well-worn button-down – I murmur, "I love this show."

Edward eyes me skeptically. "Have you ever seen an episode without the laugh track? Those jokes are so lame. The only reason people laugh is because of the canned laughter after every stupid joke."

"What? Where do you even find stuff like that?"

"On YouTube. Just try it. Then you can apologize for doubting me," he quips, gently pinching the back of my arm.

"You must have a lot of time on your hands at the clinic," I tease with a chuckle.

"Be quiet, you." Then he drops his head back against the cushions again, eyes closed, one finger slowly tracing a line back and forth on my upper arm.

I roll my eyes a little and relax back against him, smiling to myself. We sit silently for a bit, and I'm feeling looser by the second. I don't know if it's the wine or if it's just the man next to me, but it feels so right – us, here, together. I can see myself doing this with Edward for a really long time. Maybe always.

Even though he's kept me on my toes the whole evening, with the teasing and the smoldering, I can't remember having a better time.

Though we can hear the laugh track, the volume is low enough that it's all sort of background noise. I'm just basking in the whole experience of cuddling – for lack of a better word – with someone I'm hopelessly attracted to. It's the sweetest kind of torture. I try not to guzzle my wine, but I do allow myself a long, generous sip.

My stomach is heavy and warm, reinforcing the slight buzz I had going from our night out at dinner, then a bar – or maybe four. Things are a little fuzzy at the moment. Likely the after-effects of our own private pub-crawl. It was so much damn fun, but I have a feeling things will only get better from here.


Edward's opinions on Big Bang Theory are my brother's. He's a bit of a screenwriting snob. I think the show's pretty damn funny, even if I'm a biology chick.

As usual, if you recognize any pop culture (book quotes, movies, TV shows, etc.), you know I don't own it. Theirs, not mine. Just popped in there for your entertainment.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed. Anyone ever have an incredibly shitty month? Just shitpile... after shitpile... after shitpile? Sucks, doesn't it? Bad things really do come in threes. Stupid superstition. The only thing that helped was pouring out this story faster than I've written anything in years. I guess my mind needed a distraction from the shit sundae of the last month, and this is the result.

So talk to me. I'm pissed because I have tickets to a screening of Anchorman 2 tonight and I can't go because I can't find a babysitter. Grr.

See you tonight with another chapter!

Oh, one last thing... anyone have any banner making skills? I'd be eternally grateful if anyone would like to make a banner. :) No pressure, I love you all anyway.