Friends to Lovers Contest

Pen Name: RobzBeanie

Title: Inside Out

Summary: Bella knows she isn't what her best friend Edward is looking for in a partner. But could a handful of fateful invitations turn everything she thinks she knows inside out?

Pairing: Bella and Edward

Beta: moosals

Rating: M

Prompt used: 19 (The One with the Invitation), 40 (The One with the Pediatrician)

Word count: (not including summary or submission header) 13,853

Thanks to the judges and everyone who voted in the Friends to Lovers Contest!

I won: First Place in the Judges' Score, Third Place in Public Vote, Judge's Favorite of Jadalulu and sparklymeg, Best Lemon and Most Potential for Full Story!

"How about this one?" I ask, stepping out of the department store dressing room in my sixth attempt at finding the perfect dress for my friend Angela's wedding next month. It's a knee-length, one-shoulder dress in a bright emerald green, and I think it looks great on me. Perfect for a summer wedding in hot, humid Florida.

"Hmmm… turn around." I follow directions, turning to face the mirrors. "I think it makes your ass look flat."

"Seriously?" I pout. I hate trying on dresses. I'm actually glad that Angela is having just a small wedding, with only her two sisters and her best friend since middle school as her bridesmaids. I've seen the show Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids on TLC — uh-uh, no way would I want to be a part of that.

"What about the one I picked out for you?"

"Edward," I groan. "I can tell just on the hanger that I won't be able to wear a bra with it."

"So what? You have the perky tits of a 20-something woman. Flaunt it!" he insists.

Rolling my eyes, I step back into the dressing room. After changing out of the green dress, I slip into the backless midnight blue dress that Edward picked out and pull up the short zipper. Unless there's something I'm missing from the one mirror inside the tiny room, Edward is absolutely right about this dress. Damn it.

"Why do you always have to try to prove me wrong and try on your own picks first?" Edward asks with a grin from his place on the chair when I step out of the dressing room again. Ignoring him, I twirl around, trying to catch the view from all angles in the three-way mirror. "Stop trying to find something wrong with it; it's perfect."

Sighing, I return to the dressing room to change back into my own clothes.

"Meet you in the shoe department!" Edward calls from outside.

I grumble the entire way to the checkout counter. The good thing about having a gay best friend is that he's not afraid to tell it like it is when it comes to… anything. The bad thing is that he thinks his sexual orientation alone is reason enough for me to categorically trust his judgment in relation to all things fashion. Unfortunately — he's usually right.

I first met Edward Cullen nearly four years ago, just before my 23rd birthday. Since graduating from the University of North Florida with a degree in English, I'd sold a couple of freelance pieces to magazines while I spent all of my limited free time writing my novel in a quest to become the Next Great Author. But given that I had bills to pay, I also worked as a waitress in a diner near Baptist Medical Center in downtown Jacksonville.

I'd only been working at the diner for two or three weeks when the best-looking man I'd ever seen in my life walked in, sitting down in my section. He was very tall and lean, with a smiling face and messy reddish-brown hair. Fuck, he looked like he could be a movie star.

As I nervously went to take his order, I couldn't help staring at his strong jaw. I wanted to lick it. When he looked up at me through the greenest eyes I'd ever seen, I wanted to drown in them. And then he spoke… my God! His voice was the sexiest thing I'd ever heard. I'm sure I stuttered my way through the entire exchange, coming off like an idiot.

Over the next few weeks, the green-eyed god came into the diner three or four times a week. I slowly learned that his name was Edward, that he was originally from a suburb of Chicago, and that he was just starting his medical residency at the nearby hospital. He needed the caffeine boost before working those crazy 24 or 36-hour shifts for which residency programs are famous.

And get this: he wasn't studying to become some hotshot cardiac surgeon or anything like that. No, Edward wanted to be a pediatrician. A freakin' pediatrician! He wanted to take care of kids, for God's sake. He wasn't in it for the glory, but to actually help people.

To say I quickly developed a crush on my handsome customer would be an understatement. Each time I saw him, I'd come back to the apartment I shared with my former college roommate, Angela, and we'd dissect our conversations, looking for any hint that he might be interested in me as well.

I admit, I am beyond awful at flirting, but I pulled out all of the stops with Edward and it didn't seem to make a damn bit of difference. Angela wanted to come observe us for herself one day, convinced that since I was hopeless at flirting, I was also unable to pick up the signs of someone flirting back.

After about six weeks, I just decided to go for it and ask Edward to have dinner with me. Of course, I chickened out in my first attempt, swearing to myself that I would definitely do it the next time I saw him.

Edward had told me that his next shift was on Sunday, so I was surprised to see him walking into the diner on Saturday evening. And this time, he wasn't alone.

Walking beside Edward was a shorter man with blond spiky hair, wearing skinny jeans and a t-shirt that totally showed off the hours he spent in the gym. Edward's hand was on the small of the obviously gay man's back as he led him to his usual table.

Good God… no wonder Edward wasn't taking my inadequate bait: he was gay!

Never in my life was I so, so glad that I had dilly-dallied in asking Edward on a date. I would've been mortified to ask and then find out that my crush was batting for the other team.

"In the kitchen," Edward calls as I step inside the door of the house I share with him. Dropping my purse, I go to look for him. I find him grabbing a bottle of beer from the fridge, looking better than any man has a right to in low-slung jeans that show off his incredible, edible ass and a tight, faded black t-shirt bearing his college's logo.

"Just in time," he smiles. "The pizza I ordered got here a couple of minutes ago, if you're still hungry." I want to laugh at Edward having to order delivery, not knowing when I'd be getting home. I really need to nominate him for the next season of The Worst Cooks in America — I don't think there was a home-cooked meal that he hadn't messed up in some way before I moved in.

"Sure, yeah, I could eat a couple pieces," I answer. "We just had 'finger foods' at the shower." While Edward grabs another bottle of beer for me, I take a seat at the table, pulling a slice of Hawaiian pizza from the box. I smile at the thought that I got Edward to start ordering my favorite toppings.

"So how was Angela's shower?" he asks, mid-chew. Ugh, men have no manners, no matter their sexual preferences.

"You don't want to hear about it," I reply, embarrassed even thinking about my afternoon.

"Why not?"

"It was a…lingerie and sex toy party. I'm sure you really don't want to hear about vibrators and dildos."

Edward laughs, his eyes crinkling up adorably. "What makes you think I don't know anything about fake dicks?"

"Seriously, Edward… men have, you know, built-in sex toys. What do you need with more?" Oh my God, please can't one of the many Florida sinkholes swallow me up.

"I could tell you," he answers with a chuckle, "But I'm afraid your head might explode."

"Ugh," I growl, covering my ears to block out the sounds of his laughter. "Well, then I'm certain you're not interested in hearing about what women do with them."

Edward rolls his eyes. "For God's sake, Bella — I'm a doctor. I'm not disgusted by women's bodies." He shakes his head, reaching into the box for another slice of pizza.

"Your patients are children," I point out.

"Even so, it's not like I've never had sex with a woman before."

I set my half-eaten slice of pizza down on the plate, staring at Edward. He's had sex with a woman? When? "When—" I clear my throat. "Um, when did you have sex with a woman?"

He finishes chewing this time before replying. "I dated girls in high school. And had a couple of one-night stands in med school."

"You dated girls in high school? I thought you said your prom date was named Sam?" I cannot even comprehend this. Edward has dated women? Isn't he gay? Or is he saying he's bisexual? Please let him be bisexual.

"Sure, Samantha. She always went by Sam," he answers.

We finish the rest of our pizza in silence. Inside, my mind is reeling. Is Edward still attracted to women? Is there a chance for us? No, that's ridiculous, I tell myself.

Since I moved in here, Edward has seen me all but naked. He's seen me in sleepwear, or just my bra lots of times, not to mention in my bikini when we hang out at the beach together. He's even commented about seeing my nipples through thin shirts if I try to go braless… If he had any sexual attraction to me at all, surely he would've acted on it by now, wouldn't he? Maybe I'm just not his type of woman.

After we clean up from dinner, Edward and I take our usual seats on his huge, comfy sectional sofa. I throw my arm around his stomach, settling into his side as he reaches for the remote control.

"How come you're not going out tonight?" I ask him. It's Saturday night, after all.

"Early shift tomorrow."

I try to watch the movie he turns on, but my mind is still stuck on our dinner conversation. I want to ask for all of the details about Edward and women, but a part of me doesn't want to know if he's going to say that he has no interest in ever dating a woman again. I don't want to lose my fantasy.

"Edward?" I ask tentatively, looking up at him. I wait until he turns his head to look at me before continuing. "Tell me about dating women."

He sighs, then shrugs. "You know how my parents are. Even though I was attracted to guys, I wouldn't have dared to explore that while still living at home and risk my parents finding out. And it's not like I found girls repulsive or anything like that. I actually think the female body is beautiful."

Obviously not my body, given how little attention he gives it when he sees me in skimpy clothing. He probably likes women with long legs and curves in all the right places — none of which I can boast.

"I started dating Tanya toward the end of my sophomore year," he continues. "We were together about six months and were each other's firsts. She broke up with me about two weeks after we started having sex, complaining that I was a horrible lover. Next was Kate, who pretty much told me the same thing.

"Sam and I dated for a few months my senior year, and yeah, I took her to prom. I'd always thought our sex life was… okay, but then she dumped me, saying that I acted like I didn't want to be there when we had sex."

"Did it ever occur to any of them that no 17-year-old guy fucks like a porn star?" I ask. "My first boyfriend lasted about two minutes max and had no idea how to get me off."

Edward smirks at me. "Or maybe they were all on to something. Anyway, even though I moved into the dorms at Northwestern, I stopped dating entirely once I started college. Too much work on my plate being pre-med, I always said.

"I was taking a drama class to fulfill an Arts requirement in my junior year, and that's when I met Riley. He was definitely out of the closet, always friendly and flirting with me. When he asked me out, I… took a chance. It was tough coming to grips with the fact that I might be gay, knowing my own parents would disown me if they ever found out."

"What happened to Riley?" I ask softly.

"We dated until graduation, and then he wanted to move to New York City and try to make it on Broadway. I had to do what was best for me though. Johns Hopkins in Baltimore is one of the top-rated medical schools for Pediatrics, and they'd accepted me. There was nothing for me in New York. I wished him well when he left," he finishes fondly.

"Did you love him?" I ask, already knowing the answer.

"Yeah, I did," he smiles. "It was a long time before I felt ready to actually date again, not until I moved here and met Alec. In med school, I mostly had one-night stands — with men and women. None of them really did it for me though. I think… I can't really enjoy sex without feelings being involved. God, I'm such a woman," he laughs.

"Needing to care about someone in order to have sex with them doesn't make you a woman, Edward," I tell him, punching his side. It makes him pretty much perfect.

It was about a week or so after I had realized that Edward was gay that the beginning of our friendship was formed. One of the other waitresses at the diner begged me to switch shifts so she could attend a Halloween midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I hated working the late shift, but after much badgering, I agreed.

Shortly after midnight, I was alone in the diner — well, besides the cook back in the kitchen — when a creepy customer came in. He looked to be about my age, with dark blond hair pulled back in a greasy ponytail, wearing jeans and a leather jacket. As I took his order, he was obviously flirting with me, but I tried to play it off like I hadn't noticed.

As I dropped off the check, he asked me what time I got off work. I lied and told him 6am. When he offered to come back and give me a ride home, I declined and he left, leaving me a quarter tip for his $12.14 meal. Jackass.

When my shift ended at 2am, I headed out to my car. Before I could open the door, strong arms grabbed me from behind. I twisted around, trying to get away, but he was holding me too tightly.

"Well, well, so the pretty little bitch lied." I recognized the voice as that of my creepy customer, but I couldn't scream with his hand over my mouth. As I tried desperately to remember what I'd learned in the self-defense class I took freshman year, he suddenly let me go and I fell to the ground.

"Get the hell out of here," a furious voice yelled. "Pick on someone your own size."

I looked up from my place on the ground to see my assailant cowering from… Edward! He sneered, spat on the ground, and stalked off to a dark-colored muscle car, speeding away.

"Are you all right?" Edward asked, extending a hand to help me up.

"Y-yes," I answered shakily. Edward hugged me to him, and I finally relaxed, letting myself sink into his warm body.

"I don't think he's from around here," he said softly. "His car had Georgia plates."

"I've never seen him before," I confirmed, "But I don't usually work this shift."

Edward pulled back a little, looking intently at me. "What the hell did you think you were doing walking to your car alone in the dark?" he asked, almost angrily. "Do you have no sense of self-preservation?"

I shrugged. "I didn't even think about it… like I said, I don't usually work this shift."

"Promise me you'll have someone escort you to your car if you ever work at night again. It's dangerous downtown, Bella."

"I promise," I nodded, giving him a small smile. "Did you just come off your shift at the hospital?"

"Yeah," he replied, running his hand through his hair. "I was hungry, thought I'd get a piece of pie," he added with a wink.

"We're out of cherry." His favorite.

"Well, boo," he pouted. I laughed. "Hey, um, are you working tomorrow afternoon?"

"No," I replied, shaking my head. "I traded shifts with Jessica."

"Would you, um, like to come to the Jaguars game with me?" he asked.

"You like football?" I asked, shocked. Weren't gay men supposed to dislike sports? Except maybe figure skating, or men's swimming or diving, or something like that.

"Sure," he shrugged. "My hometown Bears are in town."

"Wouldn't you rather, um… the guy you were here with last week, um…"

"Alec hates sports," he replied. Ah, well, that's more like it.

"I'd love to go with you, Edward," I smiled.

"Well, well, well… someone has had a bit too much to drink," Edward smirks from his place on the couch as I stumble in the door after Angela's bachelorette party. He's slouched in the corner of the sectional, wearing boxers and a plain white t-shirt. As always, he looks perfectly edible.

"Can it, Edward," I grumble, heading into the kitchen for a bottle of water. I twist off the top, take a long drink, then wander into the family room, curling up beside him on the couch, where he's watching David Letterman.

"Did you have a good time?" he asks, throwing his right arm around my shoulders and hugging me to him.

"I did," I sigh. "It's just… every other girl who was there is already married, or engaged, or close to being engaged. And I'm…"

"Shacking up with me?" he finishes, waggling his eyebrows.

"I don't think it's 'shacking up' unless you share a bedroom," I reply, punching him lightly in the ribs.

"It'll happen for you, Bella," he says, stroking one finger down my cheek as he looks me in the eye. "So Tyler was an asshole who cheated on you. That's no reason to remove yourself from the dating pool."

"Ugh, do not speak that man's name again," I reply with a shudder.

"Do not change the subject, Swan," Edward says sternly, tapping his index finger on my nose. "You need to find a date."

"You're not backing out on me, are you?" I ask anxiously. Edward had agreed to step in as my date for Angela's wedding in two more days, given that I had a "plus one" at the time I sent in my RSVP to her invitation.

"No, relax. I told you I'd take you to the wedding and I always keep my word. I just meant in general. See any good candidates tonight?"

"We went to a strip club, Edward," I deadpan. "You know better than I do that the vast majority of male strippers — and all of the clientele at those places — prefer men."

"Hmm… yeah," he replies dreamily, earning himself another elbow to the ribs. I don't like being reminded that I don't have the body parts that Edward wants.

"Such violence, Swan," he complains with a grin so I know he's not really mad. "You're gonna pay for that."

"Oh yeah?" I taunt. "You wouldn't hit a girl."

"No, but…" He pulls his arm off my shoulders and turns toward me, his hands immediately moving to either side of my ribs — where he starts tickling me.

"Fuck!" I yell through my giggles. Edward knows I'm insanely ticklish.

I try to scoot away, ending up flat on my back on the couch. My idea completely backfires when Edward stretches out his long body to cover mine, while his fingers never stop their relentless tickling. He's lean, but he's much heavier than me, and now he's pinning me down so I can't move.

"Uncle! Uncle!"

"Oh no, I'm not through with you yet," he grins, still not letting up.

"Edward, I'm serious! I'm gonna puke all over your couch if you don't stop."

That stops his torture immediately. His fingers blessedly leave my ribs as he reaches up to brush my mess of hair off my face, staring down at me.

It suddenly hits me that Edward is lying right on top of me — a position I've previously only dreamed about. My skirt has ridden up and only two thin layers separate us. I can feel his dick between us, pushed deliciously up against my center, and it feels absolutely huge considering he's not hard. It takes everything I have not to rub myself against him to try to feel how much bigger it can get.

I can sense myself getting warmer as I gaze up at Edward. I want so badly to just lean up and touch my lips to his. Is this what UST feels like? Or do both parties have to feel it to call it UST? While I'm pondering that, he blows out a long breath and sits up, running his hand through his hair.

Fuck, I freaked him out. I sit up slowly then get off the couch, hoping he isn't too weirded out by me. I can only imagine the way I was looking at him.

"Um, I'm gonna go change," I mumble, scurrying to my bedroom while mentally slapping myself for getting us into such an awkward position in the first place.

I'd never really had someone there for me when I was growing up. My parents divorced when I was just a toddler, and I spent most of my life with my loving, if flighty, mother, Renee, in Phoenix, Arizona.

When I was a junior in high school she finally remarried, and I left Phoenix to go live with my dad in the tiny town of Forks, Washington, on the Olympic Peninsula. I hated it up there… everything was so freakin' green, and it rained more often than not. There was no question that I'd move away from the area after high school graduation.

I had applied to a few different schools around the country, but after being offered a good scholarship to the University of North Florida, I decided to come to Jacksonville, where my mom had settled down with her much-younger husband, Phil, a minor league baseball player.

So I wasn't really used to having anyone in my life that I could truly count on. Until I met Edward.

Whenever one of my relationships — if you could even call them that — ended, he'd invite me to his apartment, meeting me at the door with a pint of Ben & Jerry's. We'd vegetate on the couch, watching movies and discussing celebrity gossip — anything to get my mind off of it.

And when my novel was rejected by every agent or publisher I sent it to, we did the same thing.

About six months after we became friends, Edward talked me into going to see a musical with him at the local playhouse. He'd given Alec the heave-ho a couple of months earlier and hadn't found anyone else who'd caught his eye.

We went out for sushi before the show, and by intermission, I was having horrible stomach pains. I blamed it on the sushi, but Edward had eaten the same things I had and was feeling just fine. By the time the show was over, I was about to pass out from the pain, so Edward took me straight to the emergency room, where I was diagnosed with appendicitis.

When I woke up after the surgery, Edward was right there, holding my hand in the recovery room. And he stayed there beside me in the hospital every moment that he could, even more than my own mother. I will never, ever forget that as long as I live.

But it was what happened about 18 months ago that solidified my feelings for Edward. My father, Charlie, is Chief of Police up in Forks. I got a call one day from one of his deputies telling me that my father had had a heart attack — too much greasy diner food — and was scheduled for triple-bypass surgery. He assured me that my dad would be fine, but I still needed to get to him.

Thanks to the medical bills from my appendectomy nearly two years earlier, I had virtually no savings. There was no way I could manage to get a last-minute airline ticket to SeaTac, and pay for a rental car to drive to Forks. But Edward came through for me, telling me he'd pay for my trip. I agreed, but insisted that it was a loan, not a gift, and I'd pay him back as soon as I could.

I mean, I know Edward is rich. Not so much from his medical practice, since at that time, he still had a few months remaining in his residency and was making peanuts — but because his parents are filthy, stinking rich. His mother is some famous interior designer back in Chicago — she'd remodeled Oprah Winfrey's mansion, for God's sake. And his father is one of those highly paid cardiac surgeons. Edward had come into his full trust fund when he turned 25, though it wasn't until he completed his residency that he finally used that money to buy himself a gorgeous house on the beach.

Anyway — when Edward came through for me like that, making it possible to go see my dad after his bypass surgery, I could no longer deny my feelings for him. I was in love with Edward. I was in love with my best friend. I was in love with a gay man.

Good God, I was pathetic.

Angela's wedding reception is being held in a ballroom at the Hyatt Regency hotel. After the sit-down dinner, the best man and maid of honor give their speeches and then the bride and groom cut the gorgeous cake.

"Mmm…" I moan, closing my eyes as I lick the fork. I freakin' love red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.

When I open my eyes, I notice Edward staring at me. "What?" I ask, wiping at my mouth. "Do I have frosting on my mouth?"

"Huh?" he asks, seeming to snap out of whatever daze he was in. "No, you're fine."

Not totally believing him, I excuse myself as soon as I finish my piece of cake, heading to the ladies room to check if there's something on my face. There's not.

"Bella!" Angela's mother calls with a smile as I make my way back to the table.

"Hi, Mrs. Weber," I greet her with a hug. Angela's mom is like the nicest person on the planet.

"So when are we going to be attending one of these shindigs for you?" she asks with a wink.

"Oh, I — it'll be a long time from now." Like possibly never.

"Oh, come on — Angela tells me you're living with Edward. Don't you let him get the milk for free now," she winks.

What's the saying about Ireland? Forty shades of green? Well, I'm sure I turn 40 shades of red at her remark. "Edward and I aren't… I mean, it's not like that. I have my own room!"

Mrs. Weber smiles softly, patting my arm. "Then it's just a matter of time, Bella, love. Anyone with eyes can see how you two look at each other."

When Mrs. Weber excuses herself, I stand there unmoving, my mind going over and over our conversation. I know how I look at Edward — though I try not to, as I'd be horrified if he ever noticed — but she must be seeing what she wants to see to ever imagine that he looks at me the same way.

"There you are, Swan," Edward calls when I finally return to the table. Damn, the man looks good in a suit. "I was about to send out a search party for you. Come on and dance with me."

"Edward, you know perfectly well I don't dance."

"And you know perfectly well that you'll never get any better if you don't at least try. It's all in the leading, I tell you." He stands up, holding his arm out for me to take. Rolling my eyes, I loop my arm through his and let him lead me to the dance floor.

Edward chooses an open place on the ballroom floor and stops, grabbing hold of my left hand with his right. I lift my right hand to his shoulder and let him pull me close. I instinctively smile back when he smiles at me.

"You look good today, Swan."

I roll my eyes. "Yeah, yeah… I know you are the Jedi Master of choosing party dresses."

"Well, yeah, the dress I picked out is awesome. But I mean in general, your hair and make-up. You don't usually wear much make-up, and it looks good on you."

I feel my face flame as I take in his words. I went to a salon this morning to get my hair styled and my make-up applied professionally. I'm… pleased that he noticed, even if it is just because gay men tend to notice those things.

"Thanks," I mutter, not knowing what else to say that won't give me away. Edward has complimented my appearance before, but this feels… different somehow.

When the music changes to a slow dance, I twine my arms around his neck, unable to help myself. Edward wraps his arms around me and I shudder at the feel of his warm hands on the bare skin of my back. I lean my head on his chest so he can't see my reaction, breathing him in as we sway together. I hope the song never ends, but of course, eventually it does. Edward pulls away at the sound of the funky groove, spinning me around while I laugh.

We dance together until my feet are howling in protest. Why did I let him talk to me into four-inch heels again? Oh yeah, because he said they'd make my legs and ass look awesome.

When I finally drag him off the dance floor, Edward and I retake our seats at the table, where he pulls my feet onto his lap, removes my shoes and starts massaging the bottom of my feet.

"God, Edward," I moan, "Your fingers are magic."

He smiles. "Just paying you back for all the times you've worked the kinks out of my shoulders."

I'm totally zoning out as Edward rubs my feet when I hear the sound of a camera clicking. I look up into the smiling face of Angela's youngest sister, Alice.

"You two are so freakin' cute," she squeals. "I wish my boyfriend would do that."

"Oh, he's not—"

"Thanks, Alice," Edward interrupts me. Alice hugs me then walks away, snapping photos of the next unsuspecting couple.

"Why did you let her think we're a couple?" I ask curiously.

He shrugs. "People have been thinking that all night," he chuckles. "I went to the men's room earlier and half a dozen guys told me I had the prettiest date here."

"You're lying."

"No, I'm not!" he protests.

"Even Angela's mother said I should stop letting you get the milk for free," I muse.

Edward laughs loudly, then winks at me. "Maybe we oughta just do it then since everyone already thinks we are."

I stare at him, open-mouthed. He's just joking… isn't he?

Angela and Ben got engaged just over a year ago. I was so happy for her when she came home to tell me about it. Ben is the nicest guy, a geeky sort who works in the banking industry and is a closet gamer on the weekends. They'd been dating since freshman year and she thought he would never propose. Personally, I think her father, Reverend Weber, finally threatened Ben with a shotgun.

Three months later though, I wasn't feeling so excited when Angela broke the news that Ben wanted her to move in with him. She knew as well as I did that I could never manage the rent on our two-bedroom apartment all by myself, so she waited until our lease was about up before letting me know. Angela had taken the more practical route of studying Accounting at UNF and certainly could've lived on her own, but she took pity on her poor, English-major friend, letting me share the rent.

So not only did I need to find a new place to live, but the only furniture I had to call my own was my childhood bedroom set that Renee had let me take with me when I moved in with Angela. All of the rest of our furniture was Angela's, inherited from her grandmother, who had died during our senior year.

Edward had recently purchased his beach house and offered to let me stay in one of the guest bedrooms, but I just couldn't bring myself to accept his invitation. At the time, he was dating Laurent, a hot young guy from France who was studying at The Art Institute. There was no way I could stand to overhear Edward and Laurent having sex.

I mean, I'm not homophobic or anything… I wouldn't want to listen to Edward having sex with a woman either. Ok, fine, I hate porn and I don't like overhearing other people going at it in any way, shape or form. Thank God Angela and Ben usually ended up at his place.

At the time, I'd been dating Tyler Crowley for about five months. While he was no Edward, I did like him a lot and I wondered sometimes if he could be "the one." Just when I was about to give up and move back in with my mom and stepdad, Tyler suggested that I move in with him. It seemed like the best choice for me — moving back home at age 26 was beyond embarrassing.

The honeymoon period lasted for about a month before it seemed like all Tyler wanted was a woman to cook and clean for him. He didn't even want sex all that much. We'd been living together for about five months when I came home to find him in bed with our next-door neighbor, Lauren Mallory. He gave me excuse after excuse, but I packed my suitcase, throwing all of my meager possessions into the trunk of my car.

I called Edward on the way to my mom's house, and he told me in no uncertain terms to get my ass to his beach house, promising he'd be there as soon as he could. I cried in Edward's arms that night and in the morning, he announced that I was moving in with him. Laurent was a thing of the past by that point, so I took him up on his offer — five months too late.

Edward had never thought much of Tyler, but to his credit, he never did say, "I told you so."

"Mmm… right there."

I try not to imagine all of the more fun reasons that Edward could be saying those words to me. It's about a week after Angela's wedding and I'm sitting on the couch, massaging his shoulders as he sits on the floor in front of my spread legs.

"That tickles," he giggles when I run my thumb over the cute little mole on the back of his neck, squirming as he tries to take another sip of his beer.

"You're really tense today," I note.

He sighs. "I just had a rough day. I think one of my young patients may have cancer," he says quietly.

"Oh, Edward." I reach down, hugging him tightly around his neck. My cheek is pressed against his stubbly cheek and I can still smell the remainder of his cologne. I have to try hard not to sniff him. He grasps my left hand, squeezing it tightly.

"Thanks, Bella. Now get back to work," he orders, trying to sound stern.

"Do you talk to your nurses like that?" I joke.

"You really are good at this, Bella. I don't know why you won't consider massage as a back-up career."

Ah yes, one of those talents I picked up from my aforementioned flighty mother. Renee had a new hobby practically every year. One time it was pottery, one time yoga, then one year she actually went through training to become a masseuse. She taught me everything she learned, but never ended up doing it as a full-time career. It did help her become an assistant trainer for the local minor league baseball team though, which is how she met Phil.

"I've told you before, Edward — I don't want to touch strangers all day."

"You don't have a problem touching me." Shit.

"But you're… you."

I go back to my work, concentrating on the most tense muscles. I'm totally lost in a zone, wishing I was allowed to touch more of Edward than just his shoulders. He's shirtless and I can see the definition in his muscles. He's not ridiculously built, but he took advantage of the workout room at his old apartment complex. Since moving, he runs on the beach every chance he gets, and his legs are—

"Oh hey, I almost forgot," Edward begins, interrupting the path my thoughts were about to follow. "I'll be attending a medical conference in a couple of weeks, down in Fort Lauderdale. Would you want to come with me? It's the weekend before your birthday."

This wouldn't be the first time I've done something like this for Edward. He isn't "out" at work — mostly because he's afraid it'll get back to his father — so whenever he has some sort of event to go to with an invitation for a "significant other," he invites me. It's always a good time, hanging with wealthy doctors at gorgeous resorts. Though they do tend to hit on me.


"Sorry, yeah, um… I'll ask my boss for that weekend off. I'd love to come with you. Thanks for the invitation."

"Awesome," he replies, turning around to smile at me. "Hey, what would you think of going out tonight? I just need to let off some steam. It's karaoke night at Cock-a-doodle-do," he adds, waggling his eyebrows.

I laugh, standing up from the couch. "Let me go get dressed." I love going to gay bars with Edward. At straight bars, both of us get hit on all night. It wouldn't be so bad if the men who hit on me were even the slightest bit my type, but they always seem to be at least 40, often with an indentation on their left ring finger from the wedding ring they removed before walking in the door. At least at gay bars, only Edward gets the attention.

I slip into my favorite pair of Miss Me jeans — which Edward picked out, of course — and a low-cut silver top. I always make sure to show off the girls at gay bars, so everyone knows they're real and I'm not some drag queen. I darken my make-up then bend over, spraying hairspray all over my long brown hair. Edward hates it when I do that in front of him, always complaining that hairspray is the cause of the hole in the ozone layer.

"Nice," Edward whistles when I finally come out of the bathroom. He has changed as well, into tight dark wash jeans and a white button-down shirt.

"Looking for some action tonight, Cullen?" I tease him.

"Only with my best girl," he replies, hugging me briefly before grabbing his keys. If only he really meant that.

Once we reach the bar, Edward and I manage to find a high-top table to sit and drink. I roll my eyes when the shirtless waiter totally flirts with Edward as he takes our order.

"Can you be the designated driver tonight?" Edward asks as a six-foot-six drag queen takes the stage to sing a Cher song.

"Sure," I nod, "I'll just drink Coke the rest of the night."

After a shot and three beers, Edward turns to me with a huge grin. "Want to put our name in for a go?" I roll my eyes. Edward loves doing karaoke, but only when he's three sheets to the wind.

Ten minutes later we're on the stage, doing our best Lady Gaga impersonations for Bad Romance. It's such fun seeing Edward kick back and relax. And he's got a great singing voice, of course. Is there anything about this man that isn't perfect?

Shortly after we return to our table, a good-looking Hispanic guy asks Edward to dance. Once I assure him that I'll be fine by myself, he gets up, heading to the dance floor.

I watch enviously as Edward dances with the tall, dark and handsome guy, smiling and laughing at something he says. Except for a couple of first dates, Edward has been single since Laurent, over six months now. He's a great catch, and I know I can't expect him to be single forever. I'm not ready to share him though — or worse, lose him. I know how selfish that makes me, but I can't help myself.

After just a couple of songs, Edward returns to our table alone, another drink in hand.

"What happened to your friend?" I ask curiously, nodding toward the dance floor. "He looked like he couldn't wait for you to bend him over the closest piece of furniture."

Edward takes a long drink of his beer, then sighs. "You know how I feel about one-night stands."

"Then go to dinner with him first. Seriously, he looked totally into you." It kills me to say it, but I won't let my feelings for Edward get in the way of what is best for him.

"I just wasn't feeling it," he replies with a shrug. "He was cute, yeah, but… there was nothing there. And I know what you're gonna say, that I didn't give it much of a chance." I grin — Edward says that to me all the time. "I think I'm doomed to be single."

"Right back at ya," I reply, clinking my glass of Coke to his bottle of beer.

Two hours later, I'm driving a completely wasted Edward back to his — our house. I haven't seen him this drunk like ever, so I'm sure it's related to his patient. He's way too heavy for me to actually lift, but I manage to help him out of the car and into the house. I lead him to his bedroom where he flops onto the bed.

After pouring a glass of water in the kitchen and finding some aspirin, I leave those on Edward's nightstand then start tugging his shoes off. Slowly, I unbutton his shirt and slide it off of his shoulders. Thank God it's dark in the bedroom, as it keeps me from ogling his bare chest. I pause, then decide to take his jeans off as well, being careful not to touch his junk when I pull the zipper down.

I move to leave when Edward's hand shoots out and grabs my wrist. "Stay," he whispers.

"Edward…" I protest.


"Let me get ready for bed, then I'll come back." I'm sure he'll be asleep by then anyway.

Once I change into something more comfortable, I wash my face and brush my teeth, then go check on Edward. He seems to be dead to the world as I brush his hair back, my fingers lingering a little too long on his stubbly cheek.

"Get in bed," he mumbles. With a sigh, I walk around the bed and climb into the other side, turning to face the edge of the bed. Edward rolls over, wrapping one arm around me as he spoons behind me. "Thank you, Bella. I love you."

I wince, squeezing my eyes tightly closed. God, how I wish he'd say that and mean it the way that I mean it.

"I love you too, Edward."

I know it totally sounds like our relationship is very one-sided, but it's not like that at all. Besides my cooking, giving massages and acting as Edward's "beard" around his co-workers, we just have a lot in common and enjoy doing things together. Even when he's dating someone, Edward can't find a man who enjoys sports like he does, so I get to go with him to various sporting events. We have the same taste in movies and in bands; we've roadtripped to Atlanta to see a couple of concerts together.

Last summer, I even went with Edward to his brother, Emmett's, wedding back in Chicago. Their parents are as Bible Belt as they come, and believe homosexuality is an affront against God. Edward was with Laurent at the time, but there was no way he could take him as his date to the wedding. And if he had gone alone, his mom would have been all over him for not dating, so he invited me.

I had a great time in Chicago. His parents don't believe in sex before marriage, so they designated separate bedrooms for us at their house. We spent three days in town just acting like our usual selves, and it kept Edward's mom off his back. I could tell how much it hurt him though to know that his parents would never accept who he really is.

On the other hand, my mom is a wannabe hippie born just a little too late, so she's totally cool with Edward's sexuality, as is her husband. They think nothing of having him and whoever he's dating at the time over to their house for barbecues and whatnot. He's like part of the family.

When I first moved in with Edward, I was a little uncomfortable, generally acting like I was a guest in his home. But when I saw Edward walking around in nothing but his tight little boxer briefs, I gradually relaxed. I mean, I wasn't going to walk around naked like I would around Angela — don't judge, we shared a tiny dorm room together for four years — but I'd come to breakfast in my sleep clothes and no bra, or walk from the guest bathroom to my bedroom in just a towel.

I'd never have done anything like that whenever Ben slept over, but gradually I learned to think nothing of being partially undressed in front of Edward. Maybe it was due to some extent to my wanting him to see me as a sexually attractive being, I don't know. Ok, I'm sure that was definitely part of it. I wasn't going to outright flirt with him or come on to him, but if he just happened to notice my ass cheeks hanging out of my underwear…

I've even ended up in Edward's bed before. Instead of the couch, we'll sometimes watch movies curled up under the covers in his king-sized bed. I usually wake up at some point during the night and creep back to my own room.

But not tonight. Tonight I'm too comfortable in Edward's arms to go anywhere.

When I finally blink my eyes open, the hot Florida sun is already streaming through the windows. Stiff from lying in one position for so long, I try to stretch out. As my back arches, my ass comes in contact with what definitely feels like Edward's very hard cock behind me.

It's not for you, it's a normal way for guys to wake up, I chant to myself. I'm not stupid; I know guys have morning wood. I know Edward isn't hard because of me.

But I can't help wishing that it was because of me.

"Mmm…" he moans, grinding his erection into me.

"Edward," I whisper, but he just squeezes me tighter against him, bucking into me again.

I reach my right hand up, stroking along his arm that's slung over me. "Wake up, Edward," I say more urgently. When he just continues grinding his cock into me, I elbow him in the ribs.

"Hmm… ow!" Suddenly I'm no longer warm and toasty, as Edward lifts his arm off of me and sits up. "Fuck, Bella, that hurt!"

"Well, it was either that or let you come all over my ass," I grumble.

"Oh. Fuck."

As much as it kills me to do it, I sit up too, swinging my legs over the side of the bed. I can't help looking down at the tent in his underwear, a small wet spot right in the middle. "Better go take care of that monster in the shower," I say flippantly, patting his cheek as I stand up and waltz out of Edward's room.

If I didn't get out of there right the hell now, I was so going to offer to take care of it for him.

It's just under a five-hour drive straight down I-95 from Jacksonville to Fort Lauderdale, but Edward and I catch a non-stop flight late Thursday morning instead, then take a cab from the airport to the resort hotel on the beach where the medical conference is being held. Our room is on the sixth floor, with an amazing ocean view.

I am a little surprised to see that the room has just one king-sized bed, but I don't question it, assuming that there were no rooms available with two queens. I've stayed out of Edward's bed since the morning dry-hump incident, but if he's ok with sharing a bed for three nights, then so am I.

Edward and I spend the afternoon together checking out the area around our hotel, then head back to the room to change for the evening's networking reception. Since I don't have an unlimited wardrobe budget, I'm recycling the red dress that Edward picked out for me to wear to Emmett's wedding last year — he and I are the only ones who will know anyway. Edward of course looks dashing in his dark blue suit and striped tie.

As we sample the hors d'oeuvres and wine, I'm introduced to more doctors that I can possibly keep straight. Only because I am so attuned to his facial expressions do I notice Edward's eyes narrow as a good-looking blond man makes his way over to us.

"Edward," the man calls, holding his hand out, "Good to see you again."

Edward reaches out to shake the man's hand, giving what I know is his fake smile. "Mike," he nods.

"Who's your lovely date?" Mike asks.

"This is Isabella Swan," Edward answers, putting his arm around me. "Bella, this is Michael Newton. We went to med school together."

"It's nice to meet you," I say, reaching my hand out to shake his. Instead, Mike lifts my hand, placing a kiss on the back of it.

"Likewise. What is it you do, Bella?" Mike asks with a smile.


"She's a writer," Edward interrupts before I can admit to my lowly position as a waitress. At least I've moved up from the diner to a nice seafood restaurant.

"Oh! Have you written anything I would have read?"

"I'm working on a novel, but I've had freelance pieces published in a few magazines and our local newspaper. You probably haven't read anything," I admit. After my first novel was soundly rejected, I was pretty discouraged and didn't write for a while, but I hope to have my second attempt ready to send out to various publishers in a few weeks.

As we chat, I try not to roll my eyes at Mike's blatant flirting, right in front of Edward, who's all but pissing on me to mark his territory.

"Mike, please excuse us," Edward finally says. "We have dinner reservations to get to." We do? Edward grabs my arm, basically dragging me away from Mike and out of the ballroom.

"What the hell was that about?" I ask him, wrenching my arm free once we reach the hallway.

"I went to med school with that guy, Bella," Edward replies in a huff. "He's a total manwhore."


"So he was totally putting the moves on you."

Now I can't help rolling my eyes. "I'm aware of that, but that doesn't mean I was falling for it. I can look out for myself, you know."

"Yeah? You did a great job of that with Tyler."

I react as if Edward slapped me, shocked that he would bring up the worst moment of my life. Almost immediately I see the apology in his eyes. "I'm sorry," he whispers, wrapping his arms around me and pulling me close. "I'm sorry; I shouldn't have said that," he says quietly, resting his cheek on top of my head. "It's just… I care about you so much, and I don't want to see you get hurt again."

"I wasn't falling for his charms," I tell him, pulling back to look him in the eye. "Really, I'm smarter now. Once bitten, twice shy, and all that. I don't need you to step in and act like my father."

"I'm sorry," he apologizes again, tucking my hair behind my ear. "I didn't make reservations, but did you want to maybe try that sushi place we saw down the street?"

"You think you can earn my forgiveness with sushi, huh?" I ask, one eyebrow raised.

Edward grins. "I know how easy you are."

"Jackass." I slap his chest for good measure.

"So what are you planning on doing all day?" Edward asks as he stands in front of the bathroom mirror tying his necktie.

"I will be spending the day at the beach," I announce, pulling my new bikini from my suitcase and laying it on the bed.

"Don't forget the sunscreen."

"Yes, Doctor Worry-Wart." I roll my eyes, though he can't see me.

"What the hell is that?"

"What's what?" I ask, looking up at Edward as he steps out of the bathroom.

"That," he says, pointing at my bikini.

I pick up the dark blue string bikini, holding it up in front of me. "You like? I picked it out myself when the store down the street from your house put all the summer things on clearance."

Edward stares at me for a moment, then runs his hand through his hair. "Where's the rest of it?"

"It's a bikini, Edward," I reply slowly. "Surely you know what that is. You saw my other one a couple weeks ago."

"But… this one is… smaller. You're seriously going to wear that in public?"

"Oh my God, you don't have to see me in it!" I almost have to turn away so Edward doesn't see how hurt I am right now.

"What?" he asks, sounding confused.

"If you're disgusted by the sight of my girly bits, you don't have to see them." I walk toward the bathroom, trying to blink away the tears that are threatening.

"Bella," he starts, grabbing my arm as I try to walk past him. "It's not me seeing you that's the problem, silly girl. It's all of the other guys at the beach."

"Aren't you usually the one telling me to show off my 20-something body?" Wait, so he's not disgusted by me?

"I… I just don't want to see you have to deal with the wrong kind of attention."

"Edward, seriously… I already have two fathers; I don't need another one."

"You're right, you're right," he replies, grabbing at his hair again. "I'm sorry. I'll see you tonight — be ready by six-thirty."

Edward kisses my cheek as he leaves the room — leaving me standing there wondering what the hell is up with him. If he was a girl, I'd say he's PMS-ing. Is there a male version of that? Maybe he just needs to get laid.

After a relaxing day tanning and swimming, I head back to our room around five o'clock to shower and get dressed for tonight's dinner. This time I'm actually wearing a new black dress that Edward took me shopping for last weekend. I'm just finishing up my make-up when Edward returns to the room.

"Hey," he smiles, looking me up and down. "Nice."

"You picked it out, as if you've forgotten."

"I have good taste," he grins.

After freshening up in the bathroom, Edward leads me downstairs to the hotel ballroom where the dinner is being held. We have an amazing meal with fresh local fish and key lime pie for dessert, then it's time for the business portion of the evening, where several of the doctors are to be recognized for their work over the past year.

By the third speech, Edward and I have made a drinking game out of it — sipping the delicious wine whenever the words "outstanding achievement" or "dedicated physician" are uttered. At long last, we're dismissed — it's nearly 10pm. As I stand up from the table, I realize exactly how much I drank during our little game — not to mention the cocktails before dinner. Edward, however, seems to be completely unaffected.

"Why aren't you drunk, too?" I complain. "You drank as much as I did."

"Because I outweigh you by 50 pounds," he points out. Oh yeah. "Come on," he says, putting one arm around me. "Let's get you upstairs."

Once we reach our hotel room, Edward heads straight for the bathroom while I remove my earrings and the rest of my jewelry, setting them on the dresser. I pull off my strappy black heels and try to unzip my dress, but in my slightly tipsy state, I'm not very successful.

"Edward," I call, "Come help me unzip my dress."

Edward steps out of the bathroom, his dress shirt untucked and unbuttoned halfway down. His tie is in his hand, and he tosses it onto the dresser on his way to where I'm standing. When he reaches me, I turn around, lifting my hair up out of the way.

Goosebumps erupt as Edward tugs the troublesome zipper down for me. When it reaches the bottom, I expect him to step away, but instead he places his hands on my shoulders, pushing the straps of the dress off my shoulders until it falls to the floor.

Stepping out of the dress, I turn around to face him and see that Edward is staring down at my body. I realize too late that I'm just wearing a tiny black thong — VPL is a bitch — and matching lace push-up bra. His gaze travels up, finally reaching my eyes, and I see a pink tint on his cheeks. Embarrassed at seeing me in so little clothing… or embarrassed that he just got caught checking me out?

Time stands still as Edward's beautiful green eyes stare into mine, before darting down toward my lips and back again.

I'm drunk, but I'm not stupid — I know that's the universal sign for, "I want to kiss you." But why would Edward want to kiss me? Especially when all of my girly bits are practically on display to remind him that I'm not what he prefers. But then his tongue darts out to moisten his pouty lips. Holy shit, I think he really does want to kiss me! I take a half step closer, letting him know that I'm ok with this, but still he doesn't make a move.

Very slowly, I stand up on my tiptoes — really wishing I'd left my high-heeled shoes on about now — and lean in toward his lips. When Edward doesn't pull away, I carefully touch my lips to his, just for a second. When he still doesn't move, I do it again, keeping the kiss very light.

My first thought: Oh my God, I just kissed Edward!

My second thought: Holy fuck, his lips are soft!

I look up into Edward's gorgeous eyes and they seem darker now. "Again," he whispers.

I press my lips to his again and this time, I feel him kiss me back, moving his lips tentatively against mine. We continue to trade soft kisses before I feel Edward's hands on either side of my waist. One hand pulls me close while the other trails up my torso, skimming over my breast until it reaches my face. He tilts my chin just the way he wants and deepens the kiss, his tongue peeking out again to taste my lips.

Well, that's all the encouragement I need. I loop my arms around Edward's neck, pulling myself closer to him as we continue to kiss. Part of me thinks I must be dreaming this, but his warm body against mine feels so freakin' real.

I lose myself in Edward's kisses until I feel him walking me backwards. When the backs of my legs hit the bed, I sit down, scooting up until my head is lying on the pillow. Edward quickly climbs over me, pulling my lips back to his as if he can't bear to be separated from me.

I have no idea how long we continue kissing. My hands roam up and down Edward's back while his fingers lightly trace a path over my abdomen. At some point I realize that if this is going to go any further, I'm going to have to be the one to initiate it. I'd never ordinarily do something like that, but the alcohol running through my veins is making me brave. On my next downward path, I let my hands drift further down, until they're below the bottom of Edward's untucked shirt. I carefully slide them up under his shirt, the heat from his skin burning my fingers.

In a very short time, just touching his back isn't enough. With my lips still attached to his, I remove my hands from under his shirt and bring them around to his front, finishing the job he'd started with the buttons. I push his shirt off of his shoulders as he helps me by shrugging out of it.

Oh my God, I'm touching Edward's chest!

I'm hungry, trying to touch every square inch of him at once, but it's difficult with his body almost pressed up against mine. I push on one side of Edward's chest and he gets the hint, rolling over onto his back. I climb over him, greedily stroking every piece of skin I can reach before leaning down to suck one of his nipples lightly into my mouth.

It's still not enough.

My hands move down his happy trail to the fly on Edward's pants, hurriedly getting the zipper down. He lifts his hips as I tug his dress pants down and I know he wants this, too.

Holy fuck! I look up once I've got his pants off and realize that Edward is hard — and this time I know it's for me. Swallowing hard, I begin tracing my finger along the waistband of his dark gray boxer briefs, watching as his eyes darken further.

When he nods, I hook my fingers into both sides and slowly begin pulling his underwear off. I'm too nervous to actually look at his naked body until I've tossed them to the floor.

Oh. My. God. Now let's be honest — most penises are really not all that attractive. But I swear Edward's is pretty. It's long, and just thick enough. And — bonus! — he manscapes. I stop and drool for a second before wrapping one hand around the base of his cock.

I pump up from the base to the tip twice before rubbing my thumb over the head to collect the pre-cum, spreading it around. There's not a sound in the room as I continue to move my hand up and down, beyond our heavy breathing.

And it's still not enough.

I want all of Edward; I want to taste him. But I'm chicken shit. I mean, Edward's been with men, and who would know how to give a blowjob better than a man who knows exactly how he likes to receive? There's no way I can be the best head he's ever had.

But I won't be anything if I don't try. I take a deep breath, then lean forward, licking his cock from base to trip before sucking the head into my mouth.

"Jesus, Bella," he moans. That's a good thing, right? "You don't have to do this."

"I want to," I assure him.

Edward reaches out, gathering my hair and holding it off my face so he can watch unobstructed as I suck his cock. I don't know why that's so fucking hot. I break out all of my best moves, swirling my tongue around the head, taking him in as far as I can, tonguing the slit on top, rolling his balls in one of my hands. I listen carefully for all of his little moans and whimpers to know when I'm doing something that he really likes.

"Bella, move," he chokes out after several minutes. Oh no, Edward — I intend to finish what I started. I suck even harder, hollowing my cheeks, and seconds later he's coming in long spurts down my throat. I swallow quickly then lick him clean.

Sitting up, I feel pretty damn proud of myself as Edward stares up at me, still breathing heavily. After a few moments, I lean over again, kissing my way back up his torso, then lie down, cuddled up against his side.

Or at least I try to.

Just after I lay my head on his chest, Edward rolls me onto my back, crashing his lips into mine. My first reaction is shock, as every man I've been with — not that there have been more than a handful — refuses to kiss me right after I've gone down on him.

But this is Edward — he's obviously not afraid of a little jizz.

Edward kisses me passionately, his hands slipping underneath me to unhook my bra. He pulls it down my arms then attaches his lips to my right breast, sucking on my nipple until it's hard and aching. He switches sides then, bringing his hand up to squeeze and massage the first breast.

Suddenly he's sliding down the bed, grasping the sides of my panties and pulling them off. I cry out when one long finger brushes between my legs.

"Is this ok?"

When I nod furiously, Edward's lips return to mine as his finger finds my entrance, pushing inside easily given that I'm gushing like Niagara Falls for him. His thumb circles my clit and I'm more turned on than I've ever been in my life. For a man who's not well acquainted with the female anatomy, Edward is bringing me to orgasm very quickly.

Edward abruptly stops kissing my neck, sliding back down the bed. He stops then looks up at me, his cheeks flaming pink again.

"Um, I've never done this before, so… let me know what you like, ok?" I nod, holding my breath as Edward's tongue tentatively laps at me.

Now I know I must be dreaming… Edward is going down on me? Hell yes! He's clearly unsure of himself, but he's flicking me with his tongue in exactly the right spot while two fingers continue to pump in and out. When he flattens his tongue against me, I cry out and he presses harder. I shamelessly grind myself on his face.

"Suck on it," I whisper and he quickly obeys — the boy takes direction well. Moments later, I'm coming, thrashing around on the bed as his tongue continues to move against me. "Too… much… stop now," I beg.

With a huge grin on his face, Edward begins licking and kissing his way back up my body, just as I had done to him. He sucks on each breast on his way up, then finishes with a light kiss on my lips before sitting back and moving to get off the bed.

"Where are you going?" I pant.

"My wallet is in my jacket pocket." I look at him questioningly. "Condom," he clarifies as I realize he's hard again.

Oh. My. God. This is really happening — we're going to have sex. But I don't want any barriers between us; I want to feel all of him.

"I get the shot," I tell him quickly. "And I was tested after… the incident."

"I'm clean, too," he replies. "I've never had sex without a condom before, but I get tested regularly."

"I trust you."

Smiling, Edward stretches out on top of me again, kissing me while one hand moves to his cock, positioning it at my entrance. I brace myself for him to push inside, since it's been awhile and he's a pretty respectable size.

Edward slows his kisses and stares into my eyes as he joins us together for the first time. Once he's all the way in, I wrap my legs and arms around him, encouraging him to move. He leans down to kiss me gently, then finally, finally begins to move.

"Oh God," he moans. I hear ya, Edward. I'm not dreaming; I think I've died and gone to heaven.

I lift my hips to meet his slow thrusts, kissing all over his jaw and neck. I want to tell him that his previous girlfriends were nuts to think he's bad in bed, but I'm afraid that speaking will break the spell we're under.

"So good, Bella," he groans, his thrusts speeding up. I can hardly contain my smile at his use of my name — he's making love to me, not just the naked body in his bed.

Edward wraps his arms around me, then abruptly rolls us over so that I'm on top. I sit up, bracing my hands on his shoulders, while his hands move to my breasts.

"Fuck, you look so good riding me…"

Holy hell, Edward likes to talk dirty! I continue to move above him, arching my back to press my breasts into his hands. I'm shocked when Edward sits up too, wrapping his arms around me as he kisses me desperately. One hand snakes down between us as his thumb begins rubbing my clit again. I want this to go on forever, but I can't stop my orgasm from barreling through me.

"God, Edward," I moan as I feel him jerk, spilling inside me. I slow my movements, breathing heavily as I come down from my high.

"I love you so much, Edward," I whisper, hugging him tightly.

Oh God. What the hell was I thinking to say that? Even if it's true, it's way too soon to say something like that. What if I just freaked him out?

Edward closes his eyes, leaning his forehead against mine. My breathing is almost back to normal when he finally kisses me sweetly. I never want to move from this spot. Unfortunately…

"I need to go clean up," I whisper, still afraid of breaking the spell. Edward nods, letting me go. I reluctantly detach myself from him and escape to the bathroom.

When I come back, Edward is lying flat on his back under the covers, his eyes closed. He looks to be asleep — which would be just like a man. I dig around in my suitcase for some sleep clothes and climb into bed beside him. I'm startled when Edward reaches out, pulling me toward him and wrapping his arms around me again. Laying my head on his chest, I close my eyes.

No matter what happens in the light of day, I'll be reliving this night in my dreams for years to come.

I wake up alone in the huge bed, wondering if last night was a dream after all. As I stand up and feel the delicious ache between my thighs, however, I know it was real.

Holy shit, I slept with Edward last night!

But now he's MIA. A quick glance at my phone tells me it's five minutes after nine, so it's no wonder he's gone, since his conference started at eight. I wonder why he didn't wake me up when he left, though? I look around the room for a note of some kind, but I don't see anything.

Edward had told me yesterday that he might be free for lunch today, so I text him to ask. When there's no response after a few minutes, I take care of business in the bathroom and then check again. Still no response.

Sighing, I step into the shower. I check my phone again when I come out, but still no text from Edward. My phone finally beeps while I'm getting dressed.

Having lunch with an old professor. See you tonight.

I try to tell myself not to read too much into it, but it's not working. Last night was the best night of my life. I wanted to wake up in Edward's arms this morning, not an empty bed. What if he regrets last night? What if it didn't mean as much to him as it did to me? What if… I'm not enough for him?

I need to call Angela; she'll at least have some perspective. But I can't bother her at work; maybe at lunchtime.

I had planned to go shopping today, but I don't feel like it right now. Instead, I put my bikini on again, grab my sunblock and a hat, then head down to the beach, where I sit staring out at the ocean for two hours.

At noon, I call Angela. "I had sex with Edward," I blurt out when she answers the phone.

"Say that again."

"I had sex with Edward last night."

"For real?" she asks.

"Yes, for real. I haven't had a dirty dream about him in months." At least none that I can remember.

"Tell me everything."

I explain last night to her as best I can, though I'm still not sure exactly what happened, how we got from Edward helping with my zipper to having sex. When I get to the part where I woke up alone, it's all I can do not to cry.

"What does it mean, Ang?" I ask her desperately. "He's totally avoiding me."

"Bella," she begins calmly, "This is a huge deal to him. I mean, you've had feelings for him for ages, but we don't know how new this is to him. Maybe he's just overwhelmed and needs to think."

I pout, but I know in my heart she might be right. "Why aren't you more shocked by this? I was there and I can still hardly believe it."

"You are so clueless," she chuckles. "I don't know how you never noticed the way he's been looking at you the last couple of times I saw you together. He looked totally smitten when you two were dancing at my wedding."

"He did?" I mean, I had noticed something odd about the way he complimented my appearance, but…

"Bella, he couldn't take his eyes off of you — really. It was cute."

"Do you think he has feelings for me, too?" I ask hesitantly.

"Well, of course he does. The question is, is that enough."

Yeah. Yeah, that's the real question.

Feeling a bit better after my conversation with Angela, I grab some lunch in one of the hotel restaurants then spend the rest of the afternoon shopping. After another quick shower, I recycle the dress from Angela's wedding then check the time, wondering where Edward is. Just as I am holding my phone, it beeps with a new text.

Meet you in the restaurant.

He is definitely avoiding me, I grumble as I take the elevator up to the top floor, where we're having dinner tonight. There will be no speeches after dinner this time, thank God, as I really need to talk to Edward.

I walk into the restaurant, quickly spotting him chatting with a couple of middle-aged men. He turns around as I reach him, pulling me close with one arm around my back and kissing my cheek.

"After dinner we'll talk," he whispers in my ear. I nod to let him know I heard him, then put on my best smile as I'm introduced to his two companions.

Throughout dinner, Edward periodically reaches down to rub my thigh, but he never really speaks to me directly except to ask me if I'm enjoying my meal. Meanwhile, I'm plotting ways to kick his ass when I get him alone.

When we finish our dessert, I am ready to leave, but Edward is still chatting with the doctors sitting across from us. I try not to let him see how impatient I am. Finally he stands up, pulling my chair out for me.

With one hand on the small of my back, Edward leads me to the elevator, following behind another couple. When he presses the button for the Lobby instead of our floor, I look at him questioningly.

"Um, come take a walk with me on the beach," he says, looking suddenly nervous — which in turn makes me extremely nervous.

When we reach the ground floor, Edward takes hold of my hand, leading us out a back door and down to the beach. I quickly figure out that it's next to impossible to walk on sand in high heels, so I take my shoes off, carrying them in the hand he's not holding.

We walk at least a hundred yards down the beach before he finally clears his throat and speaks. "I'm sorry," he whispers. "For avoiding you today."

Dropping my shoes to the ground, I resist the urge to make a snotty remark and remain silent, wanting to hear what he has to say for himself.

"I just… I had a lot of thinking to do. I don't think I heard one word of my lectures all day today," he chuckles. "My mind just kept playing last night on a loop, over and over again."

He sighs, stopping and turning to me. "Bella, I'm gay. I've known this for over half my life, even if I didn't really come to terms with it until about 10 years ago. I—"

"Stop," I almost shout. "You don't need to say it. I get it." I can't listen to Edward tell me how wrong last night was. I can't.

"What?" he asks, sounding confused.

"I know you regret last night," I whisper.

"You think I regret it?" Edward sighs again, his hand tugging hard on his hair as he squeezes his eyes tightly closed.

"I'm fucking this up," he mutters, shaking his head. "Ok, forget the full explanation," he says, almost as if he's talking to himself.

"I don't know exactly how it happened, but Bella — I love you," he declares, taking both of my hands in his as he looks me in the eye. "I'm in love with you. You are everything I want. You're everything I need."

"But you're… I mean, what about my girl parts?" A tear trickles down my cheek as I wonder if I can dare let myself believe his words.

"I kinda had fun with your girl parts last night," he replies with a grin.

"But you just said…"

"I'm attracted to men, yes. And women, to a lesser extent. I've considered myself gay for years primarily because I've had much more successful relationships with men. But I guess technically… I'd be considered bi. All I've ever really wanted was to find the one person — male or female — who could make me happy, who could complete me.

"Since you moved in with me, I've never been happier. I can't imagine you ever leaving. I'm in love with you, Bella — with the amazing person you are on the inside. That's what counts. The outside just… it dictates how we have fun," he says, waggling his eyebrows. "I love your body and all of your girl parts because I love you."

I can't help laughing through my tears.

"I love you too, Edward. So much. But are you sure you can live without, you know… I mean, should I buy a strap-on?"

Edward laughs loudly, until I finally hit him to shut him up. "How can I put this delicately…? I have always had the more, active, role, you could say."

"You mean you're a top."

"Well, yeah," he replies, rolling his eyes. "Being with you really isn't all that much different. Of course, we could even—"

"You're not getting near my ass!" I yell preemptively, and he laughs again. "Seriously, Edward… am I enough for you? Do you need more in bed than I can give you? Please be honest with me."

"You are more than enough, Pretty Girl," he smiles, brushing a tear from my cheek. He leans in then, kissing me gently before wrapping his arms around me and hugging me tightly.

I soak up the feeling of being held in Edward's arms, then remember how pissed I was that he left me to wake up alone this morning. Pulling back, I smack him in the chest.

"What was that for?" he pouts.

"For sneaking out of our room this morning."

"Bella," he sighs, "I'm sorry. Really sorry. I know it must've sucked to wake up alone. I just… I needed to think about us."

"Think about whether or not you wanted me?" I ask in a small voice.

"No," he replies emphatically. "I've known for weeks — months — that I felt more for you than friendship, but—"

"You what?" I screech. "I never imagined that you — why didn't you say something?" I shake my head.

"It's not my fault that you're exceptionally unobservant," he replies with a grin. "I was afraid of messing up our friendship if you didn't feel the same way."

I go to hit him again, but he grabs my hand, stopping me. "You know, I'm the one who should be smacking you for the way you've teased me ever since you moved in with me."

"Teased you?" I ask, confused.

"Walking around in your tiny little underwear in front of me," he replies, one eyebrow raised.

I feel my face flush. "I didn't think you'd noticed."

"Oh, I definitely noticed. Now how about we go back to our room so I can get better acquainted with those girl parts that you were so fond of showing me."

"I think that sounds like the best idea you've ever had."

Grinning, Edward kneels down in front of me, then turns his head to look up at me. "Hop on."

I quickly put my shoes back on then climb onto Edward's back, hugging him securely around the neck as I wrap my legs around him. When he stands up, I suck hard on his neck, then bite him gently, right over that cute little mole.

"If you give me a hickey," he warns, "You're gonna pay for that when I get you alone."

"Bring it on, Cullen."

A/N: This was my baby that I wrote back in September then spent two months tweaking. I'm so pleased that so many people liked it. :)

So this won the award for Most Potential for Full Story. I had some ideas to continue for at least a couple of more chapters to see how Bella and Edward deal with the change in their relationship. As for a full-length story, we'll see, but the chances are higher than for my Dior Rob contest entry.