A/N: Good morning, Loves. I've got nothing clever to say, so let's just get on with it, shall we?
Betad by the lovely Michelle Renker Rhodes.
Most characters belong to S. Meyer.
Chapter 28 Together in Love
Alice brings the cup close to her face, inhaling the steam that swirls just under her nostrils and smiling before she takes a sip.
"Fuck!" she hisses, setting down the cup quickly.
"Babe, you're so impatient," Jasper snickers. "Give it a sec to cool down."
Alice frowns and sucks the lip she burned deep into her mouth. "But you know I like my tea nice and hot Jasper."
"Aww," he murmurs close to her ear and then kisses her burnt lip softly once, twice, three times, ignoring the fact that we're sitting in the middle of a busy coffee shop because they've never been the type to let others inhibit them.
"Feel better?" he asks her.
She grins up adoringly at him, the way she always has. "No."
We all laugh out loud, including Jasper.
"What is it with men thinking that their kisses magically make everything better?" Alice asks.
Bella chuckles. She takes a small sip of her coffee, not diving in the way Alice just did. Then she looks up at me through long, dark lashes, hypnotizing me so that I can't look away if I tried. Her honey cheeks darken into that beautiful shade no one can ever match, and I'm mesmerized.
"Well I can't speak for all kisses, but Edward's…" she trails off, grinning impishly.
Jasper chuckles. "Aw, Man! There you go, Bro! That girl right there is in love!"
"Oh yeah," Bella admits with a giggle, her eyes still on me. "You know I am!"
Her open admission, and the way she looks at me make my heart soar and render me mute at the same time, just as she's done from the very beginning. Meanwhile, my brother keeps laughing heartily, clapping me on the back as if I've just done something grand – which I suppose I have. I've somehow managed to get Bella to love me, and yeah, I feel pretty fucking great about that right now. And to top it off, Jasper and Alice are here to witness it.
"Well she's not the only one knee deep in love!" Alice pipes in, gazing at Jasper. "Just look at your brother. You ever seen him like that, Jas?"
With a great deal of effort, I force my eyes away from Bella and look at Alice. Her amused smile is meant to taunt me, but her sky blue eyes sparkle with good nature.
"Yo, Man," I prod Jasper in the ribs, "control your woman."
"Ooh," Jasper leans back in his seat, sharply sucking in air through his teeth, instigating. "You're in trouble now, Ed."
"You don't want to start with me, Edward," Alice smirks jokingly, crossing her arms against her chest. "Or I'll tell Bella all your deepest, darkest secrets."
"Bella and I don't have any more secrets from each other."
"He's right," Bella nods solemnly. She reaches across the small table and takes my hand in hers, knitting our fingers together, and sighs. "We don't. We know everything now." She meets my eyes once again, her heart and soul open to me in a way that takes my breath away.
"Really?" Alice asks in a quiet voice.
Once again with herculean effort, I break away from Bella's beautiful, dark gaze to look over at my sister-in-law. She's smiling tenderly, pride and a serene joy illuminated clearly in her expression.
"I'm happy for you. For both of you."
But she's Alice, and soon she smirks and raises a brow. Holding my gaze, she leans into Bella and slides Bella's long, wavy hair off her ear, whispering something that makes her giggle.
"Well, I didn't know that!" Bella snorts.
"It's true," Alice nods, "And…" she whispers some more. Bella laughs and whispers something in Alice's ear.
I cross my arms against my chest. "What are those two doing?" I ask Jasper.
Jasper chuckles. "They're probably comparing notes about what we're like in bed. Girls do stuff like that."
"Oh yeah," Alice answers for him, sipping her tea. "All the time."
"Totally," Bella agrees, drinking her coffee.
I'm starting to feel confused. Alice releases a long, heavy sigh and gives Bella a wistful smile.
"I wish I would've met you, Bella. We would've been great friends."
Bella reaches out and strokes Alice's cheek. "I wish I would've met you too, Alice - and you Jasper."
"But we'll always be here for you," Alice murmurs, running her fingers through a few strands of Bella's long, silky hair. "And for you too, Edward, as well as for my Mel. She loves the both of you. Please take good care of her."
I want to tell her that I'd give my life for her – for her and for Bella, but Bella beats me to it.
"We'll always take care of her," Bella promises fiercely. "Always."
"Thank you," Alice whispers while a silent tear slides down her cheek. Then she wraps her arms around Bella.
A familiar ache grips my chest because I know they're leaving. I know that our short, coffee break is over.
I look at my brother. "Don't go yet, Man. Have another cup of coffee."
"You know I can't do that," he shakes his head, grinning quietly. "But we're not leaving you alone here. Bella's going to finish her coffee with you. And Mel will be home from school soon, and you both have to get home to her."
I look at Bella again, and suddenly that ache, that familiar emptiness in my chest lifts and lightens. Yes, Jasper and Alice are leaving, but Bella is here, and soon Mel will be home from school.
"There's just one thing I want to remind you of before we go."
"What's that?" I question.
He jerks his chin towards another table across the room, where Eli sits looking at us, sneering. His black eyes shift to Bella greedily, and I start to get up, but Jasper puts his hand on my shoulder, bearing down and holding me in place.
"Nah, Man, don't."
I turn around and look at him. "I have to."
"No, Edward, you don't."
I open my eyes with a start, images from my strange dream still dancing in my head. Closing my eyes, I snort to myself. Weird, damn dreams…Bella and I at a coffee shop with Jasper and Alice talking about Mel coming home from school. That asshole was there as well. I shake my head to dispel the images.
Bella's head rests on my chest. Half of her body lies over mine, and her arm is thrown over my stomach. The faint light streaming in through the windows illuminates her smooth, naked body: the perfect swell of her ass as well as the peaceful movement of her breasts as they rise and fall next to my ribs. I trace the tips of my fingers along the silhouette of her curves, following the surge of her ample breasts to the taper of her narrow waist and then to the rise of her curvaceous hips. Though I keep my touch light and feathery, she squirms against me, her warm breath tickling my heart. The way her body moves over mine reminds me of our earlier activities, and as she adjusts herself next to me, her hand brushes against my cock, sending an electric current rumbling through me. Swallowing hard, my fingers trail smoothly down her silky skin and find her soft, wet, swollen nub. I close my eyes, my breath hitching at how soft and slippery it feels, so ready. I remember how it tastes…how she tastes…honey and nectar and sweet and salty. I lick my lips.
"Edward…" Bella breathes.
My name on her mouth though her eyes are still closed and she's half asleep exhilarates and hardens me even more. She begins rocking against my hip, searching, so I slip a finger deep inside, hoping she doesn't mind and sighing in relief and elation at how wet and hot she is.
"Oh," she cries, mouthing my name silently.
She grinds against my finger while I cup her in my hand – hot…hot beads of moisture break out on my chest and forehead. The sound of her sweet juices coating my finger as I thrust it in and out of her have my cock throbbing painfully. I've had her twice already, but I need more.
I palm her ass with my other hand - that sweet, perfectly round ass, and push down, pressing her deeper into my other palm. The sounds she makes come from deep within her chest, and they're beautiful just like her.
Eyes still closed, she picks up her head and searches for my mouth, and I plunge my tongue between her sweet lips, tasting her want. She kisses frantically, rocking against my finger and then wrapping her hand around the hand I've got cupping her. Anxiously, she tries to push my finger in deeper, but I'm already knuckle deep, and when I ease out my finger, she whimpers in protest.
"Shh, I know what you need. I know what you need."
Swiftly, I grab her hips and guide her over me, and finally, she opens her eyes. They're dark and wide and ready.
"Edward…I love you…"
With our eyes locked on one another, I sink deep inside, her fiery walls squeezing all around me, and fuck…fuck...
When I fill her completely, a huge gust of air escapes through my narrowed lips because being buried inside Bella, being engulfed in her heat, it's mind-blowing; it's a maddening; it's a religious experience. And when she starts rocking…Jesus…when she starts rocking…
Heaven. I'm in heaven.
"Bella…" I hiss. "Bella…I love you too…"
She rests her palms on my chest, slowly moving back and forth, our heavy breaths filling the air while my cock moves in and out of her. I guide her hips and try with all my might to keep from exploding.
Slowly, her movements gain momentum, and she rocks faster, leaning down closer to my chest in order to change the angle. I hit her deeper and she cries out, her breasts now bouncing enticingly in front of my face. I pick up my head and take one in my mouth, and she moans, rocking faster, faster while leaning down even more. Her pubic bone rubs up against mine, and the friction it creates makes us both cry out. I hold her hips tight, swirl my tongue around her nipple, tasting her incomparable sweetness.
"Yeah, yeah. It feels like heaven, I know." I suck on her other nipple. "You're so tight, Bella. So fucking tight."
Briefly, I contemplate the fact that when I make love to Bella, she's as incoherent as I usually am around her. It's about the only time I've got a verbal advantage.
"That's it, Bella…that's it," I encourage her, swaying her over my hips so I can hit every angle. "I'll get you there."
She cries out, and I watch mesmerized as she sits up straight, eyes locked on mine and undulates on her knees like a wave, bouncing over my cock and then bearing down until I'm balls deep.
"Fuck!" I grunt. "Uh!"
Maybe not so verbally superior.
It's a fleeting thought because I'm spellbound by the sight of her hand reaching down between her legs and fingering her own clit. She whimpers and bounces, and I'm about to detonate, fighting the almost staggering need to erupt like a fucking volcano inside her when she arches her back, and all the luscious curves of her perfect body are spotlighted by the emerging daylight. She lifts her head to the ceiling, eyes half-lidded and mouth puckered, her long hair cascading down her back while her breasts bounce, and the finger she's got on her clit circles wildly.
I've got to close my eyes, or I'm gonna lose it.
But then she tightens around my cock, clenching her thighs, and that's it. I thrust my hips up and yell her name while she screams mine, and we both reach euphoria.
When she slackens and drops over me panting and sweaty, I trace the grooves of her spine with my finger, kissing her head.
Outside, the sun slowly makes its ascent over the river.
"What time is it?" she whispers breathlessly.
"Shh, go back to sleep; we've still got time."
"But you said Mel wanted to be picked up early."
"We still have time."
"Okay," she breathes. And then she lifts her hips slowly, and I slide out of her, and she rests her body next to mine.
The next time I wake up, Bella isn't in bed. The sun is high in the sky, one of those muted, late fall suns that you can tell aren't doing much to warm things up outside.
But here inside the loft and in Bella's bed, I'm more than snug.
I stare up at the ceiling for a few minutes, lazily scratching my bare stomach while images from last night and the middle of the night and strange dreams and early morning fill my mind.
Pulling up my boxers, I make my way through Bella's loft, following the scent of warm coffee and the soft, mellow music coming from the kitchen.
Bella has her back to me while she works the coffee machine. She's in nothing but a pair of white panties and a loose, white tank top. I lean against the wall, crossing my arms against my chest while my morning wood stands at attention due to the way her hips sway from side to side as she dances to the music playing. Her ass cheeks peek out temptingly from her panties, begging me to grab them because I remember all too well how luscious those cheeks feel in my hands.
She's singing too, Spanish words in a sweet, slightly out of tune voice, and once she fills two mugs, she turns around and gasps, giving a startled little jump.
"Please don't stop on my account," I grin.
She chuckles, eyeing me impishly.
"I was just coming to wake you."
I lift a brow.
"Not for that," she smirks. "We've got to go get Mel. It's almost nine."
"Oh. Well she can wait a bit."
She cocks her head sideways. "Edward, you said she wanted to be picked up early."
I take the coffee mugs from her hands and set them down on the counter before wrapping my hands around her hips, giving in to my need to caress her perfect ass.
"Come on, show me how you move those hips."
She chuckles huskily, her hands on my forearms. "I already showed you how I move my hips – three times between last night and this morning."
The reminder makes my stiff cock twitch, and I push my face deep into the crook of her neck, groaning.
"Maybe I need a reminder."
"Do you?" she murmurs, her hands running up and down my chest. "Well, maybe you have a bad memory, and maybe I'm a little bit sore."
"Aw, Babe, I'm sorry," I whisper, kissing under her ear softly. "I'll leave you alone then."
I pick her up and carefully set her on the counter, fitting myself between her legs and kissing up her throat to her chin, gently sucking on her lips. If she's sore, I won't ask for more today. And just as a gesture meant to ease her soreness, my hand carefully cups her sore spot, petting and stroking, but fuck, she's so hot there. I can't control the way my cock throbs at that heat, but I will control the rest.
"What are you doing?" she breathes shakily.
"Just rubbing it to make it feel better…don't worry, I won't try anything," I grin against her mouth.
"Mmm," she says, but it sounds like a moan to my ears, and her hands grip my hips. "You want to make me feel better?"
"Yeah, Bella," I say, kissing the side of her mouth. "I always want to make you feel better."
"Mmm." And without warning, she drops a hand inside my underwear and fists my cock.
I hiss and lean my forehead against hers. "Bella…Baby, don't toy with him like that. That's just evil."
She chuckles throatily while her fist pumps me 'til I'm throbbing. Then with her other hand, she pushes down my boxers and lets them drop and pool over the floor.
My breath hitches unevenly as she wraps her hand over mine, shifting both hands and the soft, thin material of her panties aside and exposing that pretty, pink, tender skin to me. I've got to call on colossal reserves of will-power I'm not sure I possess to remind her that she's sore.
"Bella…I thought you needed a rest, Baby…"
"You didn't let me finish. I'm sore because I'm empty," she murmurs shakily. "I'm sore because I need you deep inside…"
I groan as she moves to the edge of the counter and guides me to her opening, and we both watch enraptured as my swollen tip slips inside inch by inch, panting and sighing when I'm all in.
"Oh fuck, Bella. Fuck, I'll never get enough."
"I know," she breathes. "I know."
Holding on to the edge of the counter, she opens her legs wider, and this time, we go slowly and smoothly, eyes on one another the entire time. When she breaks eye contact and drops her head back, mouth puckering into an "O," I know she's about to come. I recognize it already: her look of complete and overwhelming bliss which fills her features as she struggles to breathe through her "O" shaped mouth. When her walls clench around me, we come together.
"I love all the ways you make love to me," she chuckles afterwards, her body slack against mine.
"I love you."
We take a quick bath together because now it is getting late, and while Bella finishes getting dressed, I go to inspect the hole I made in Bella's wall. When she finally emerges from her bedroom, relaxed and beautiful and glowing in her sweatpants and fitted top, I want to grab her and take all those damn clothes off again.
But we've got things to do. The world hasn't stopped spinning.
"I'll fix this for you today," I say, jerking my chin towards the hole.
She shrugs and wraps her arms around my waist. "It's okay. Don't worry about it."
"It's not okay. I'll fix it today after we pick up Mel."
She sighs. "Alright, but don't forget we were going to take a look at the studio so we can finalize what exactly we're doing there."
"I haven't forgotten," I smile, kissing her forehead. My eyes scan her bedroom in the back. "I've also been thinking that…I could put up some walls around your bedroom…if you'd like me to. Wouldn't be a big deal."
She looks up at me, eyes twinkling mischievously. "Walls around the bedroom, huh? I suppose we do need those now," she chuckles. "But Edward, between work and your meetings and the work you're going to do at the studio, when are you going to have time to put walls around the bedroom?"
"I'll make time for that," I assure her, "I'm full of energy lately."
She laughs heartily, hiding her face against my chest.
"About time," Mel scowls when she opens the door to Rose's place. "I was about to send out a search party. I asked you to pick me up early, Uncle Edward!"
She purses her lips while Bella and I walk in. I kiss her forehead and then watch as Bella gives her a big hug which Mel returns pretty hesitantly.
"Missed you, Princesa," Bella whispers.
"Sure you did," Mel responds before looking up at Bella. She studies her and smirks. "Looks like you had a miracle recovery."
"What?" Bella asks, frowning.
"Mel." I raise a brow. "Drop it."
She rolls her eyes and squirms out of Bella's embrace. "Fine, I get it. Becca warned me about this. She said two's company and three's a crowd and-"
Before I can tell Mel to stop acting like a damn brat, Bella takes Mel's hand and knits her fingers through hers, and though it's a comforting gesture, she speaks sternly.
"Hey, I don't know what Becca's been telling you, but three isn't a crowd. Your uncle and I had some stuff to work out, but now we're here to pick you up." She looks up at the round clock on Rose's wall before bringing her eyes back to Mel. "It's five to ten in the morning, which is pretty darn early for me on a Sunday. Now the three of us are going to spend the day running errands and hanging out at the studio, and I think we'd all enjoy it more if we left the attitudes behind, okay?"
Mel eyes her speculatively, like she's not sure what to think just yet.
"Sometimes your uncle and I will need time to work things out, but it doesn't mean that three's a crowd, Mel. And it doesn't mean that I don't miss you – that both of us aren't missing you."
Mel studies Bella, and then her eyes move to me before moving back to Bella.
"Alright," she says quietly, but when Bella pulls her into a hug again, Mel's stiff posture slowly softens, and she wraps her small arms around Bella's back, sighing. "I'm sorry."
Bella whispers something in Mel's ear, and Mel looks up at me. "I'm sorry, Uncle Edward."
I smirk and pull her out of Bella's embrace, giving her a strong, one-armed hug for a few seconds.
"Where's your Aunt Rose?" I ask Mel.
"She's in the basement doing laundry. I was up here with the munchkins-"
At their mention, Seth and Rachel run into the front room yelling and screaming while Seth chases Rachel with his Nerf gun, and Rachel circles around me trying to get away.
"Hold on, hold on," I say loudly, picking Rachel up in my arms. She wraps her arms around my neck.
"Help, Uncle Edward! Help!"
"Seth, cut it out with that thing!" Mel scolds him. "He's been shooting all of us with that damn gun all weekend!"
I pull the gun out of Seth's hands and he looks up at me, frowning. "I think it's time you take a break from the war, Little Man."
"Aw, Man!" he whines, and crossing his arms against his small chest, he storms off.
"That was my nephew, Seth," I tell her. "And this is Rachel."
"Nice to meet you, Rachel," Bella smiles. Rachel smiles back shyly.
"Rachel, this is Bella…my girlfriend." Rachel giggles at the introduction.
Rose walks into the room with a full laundry basket under one arm, and little Leah in her other arm. She looks exhausted. Dark circles ring her eyes. I set Rachel down and take the basket out of Rose's arms, setting it on the floor.
"Why the hell isn't your husband helping you carry that stuff?"
"He's not home," she says curtly.
I feel my blood boiling, but it's probably not a good idea to get into this with her now, not with Bella here for the first time. She doesn't need to see this shit show.
"Bella, you've met my sister, Rose."
Bella smiles at Rose. "Yes, we've met. Hi Rose."
"Hey," Rose says. I can tell by the strain in her voice that she's trying to be polite, but I can also tell that Rose is in a shitty mood this morning, and so this is going to be a short visit.
Rose performs all the necessary pleasantries: asks Bella if she wants a drink, asks her to sit down, makes pleasant small talk which Bella responds to just as pleasantly.
Then Rose turns to me.
"Mel's been waiting for you for a few hours. I thought you said you were picking her up early."
"It's only ten. It's still early."
"You know if it were up to me, Mel could stay here indefinitely. Unfortunately it's not, and she's been anxious for you. When you tell a kid that you're going to do something, you have to follow up. You've got to be responsible-"
My face flames with anger, but once again, before I can respond with something that probably won't be very pleasant, Bella responds.
"Edward is very responsible with Mel, Rose. You're right, when you tell a kid something, you have to follow through, but at the same time, I think kids need to understand that sometimes things come up, and that at the end of the day, the adults are in charge. Don't you agree? We just had a talk with Mel explaining that. Didn't we, Mel?"
"Yeah, yeah." Mel rolls her eyes, but she's smiling.
"I know that Edward appreciates your helping out this weekend, Rose," Bella adds, smiling gently at my sister. "He told me so." Bullshit. "And he appreciates every other time that you help out."
Rose stares at Bella, blinking profusely, and for once in her damn life, speechless.
Bella clears her throat.
"Yeah. Yeah, of course I appreciate it," I agree.
"I mean…," Rose splutters, "I was just saying because Mel's been waiting…"
"It's okay," Mel pipes in. "Bella says we're going to spend the day at the studio, just the three of us because Uncle Ed is going to do some work there. We're going to have the studio all to ourselves!"
Rose looks confused. She stares at Mel for a few seconds, then at me, then at Bella. The corners of her mouth lift in a tentative smile.
I stand up, and Bella follows suit. "Alright, Rose, we're going to get going."
She nods, standing up with us, still appearing a bit disconcerted.
"It was good to see you again," Bella says softly.
"You too," Rose agrees. "I told Edward to tell you that you're welcome to join us for Thanksgiving. I know the three of you have plans for the evening, but since Mel and Edward are going to be with us early in the day, I thought it would give us a chance to get to know each other better."
"Thank you," Bella smiles genuinely. "If you're sure you don't mind…"
"Not at all," Rose says. "I'm sure Edward complains about me all the time, but the fact is that if you're going to be spending time with Mel, I'd like to get to know you better."
"Rose, don't start."
"I think that's a good idea," Bella answers Rose, resting a hand on my arm. "Rose has a good point, Edward. You and Mel are important to the both of us. We should get to know each other better."
Her mouth hanging open, Rose simply nods before turning towards me. "You see, Edward? I'm not being unreasonable."
I shrug and turn to the door, mumbling, "Whatever."
"Good luck with him," Rose says. "You're going to have your hands full keeping him in line."
I close my eyes and swallow hard, trying desperately to rein myself in.
"I don't have to keep Edward in line," I hear Bella respond. "He's a grown man. He keeps himself in line."
I turn around and find Rose gaping at Bella. Then she snorts, smiling.
"Bella, you may actually turn out to be exactly what my brother needs."
She gives Mel a hug and says goodbye to Bella and me, and the three of us leave.
We spend the rest of the day running errands.
First, we stop in at the Home Depot under the Expressway to pick up some supplies and then we head to the studio. Bella and I walk around the studio discussing what she wants done; I offer her some suggestions, and we end up with a good game plan. I figure based on what she wants, if I can put in some work during my free time throughout the week and on weekends, we should be in great shape to get most of the work done during the two weeks that she'll be closed for the holidays.
All the while, Mel runs around the studio like a kid in a candy store, thrilled that she's got the space all to herself today. Her shitty mood from earlier in the day is gone, thank God.
We've also worked out payment. Bella is so damn stubborn. She refuses to let me do the work unless she pays for all supplies and fuck, as much as I want to keep arguing the point with her, the fact is that I can't afford to pay for all the supplies. She keeps pointing out how much I'm saving her in labor costs, especially since Em's agreed to help me out on a couple of things, and as much as my pride is taking a hit, I've got to give in. I want to do this for her more than anything.
We're turning off lights and Mel is taking a few last leaps inside her favorite room when I turn to Bella.
"Is that asshole going to have a problem with me working here?"
Bella flips off a switch and sighs, turning hesitantly to meet my gaze.
"I don't know, Edward," she says quietly. "I hope not. He did agree to be a silent partner."
I can feel my blood boiling in my veins, but I rein it in. I have to.
"If he does say something to you about it, Bella, I need you to promise me that you'll tell me."
"Edward, this is my studio; it's my business. I have to deal with it no matter-"
My nostrils flare. "I don't want him near you."
"Edward, that part of our relationship is over, but whether I like it or not, we both own this-"
"Fuck that," I hiss, my face burning. I jam a finger into my chest. "If he has a problem, you tell me about it, and I'll take care of it!"
"Edward," she sighs and looks up at the screen to make sure that we can still see Mel dancing happily in the other room. "Edward, I don't want to fight about this. This can't turn into a fight for us." She wraps her arms around my stiff shoulders, and I want to respond, but just the thought of that motherfucker…I can't fucking…
"Please, Edward, don't let this come between us. It's in the past, Baby. It's in the past."
I close my eyes and hesitantly hold her waist, my jaw clenched tight. "I love you, Edward, and you love me, and we'll take care of each other and of that sweet and sassy little girl in the other room," she chuckles. "That's all that matters, Baby."
I swallow hard, and slowly, her warmth thaws me out, and I take a deep breath because she's right. She's right.
"Look," she says, "if he says something, you and I will deal with it together. How's that?"
I open my eyes and look at her. She's smiling, but her dark eyes are full of concern, and I don't want to do this to her.
I promised I'd be a good man for her.
"Alright, Bella, we'll deal with it together."
"Alright." She kisses me softly. "Alright."
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