capitolo diciannove

Andare in basso

capitolo diciannove

Messaggio  simona80 il Lun 07 Mar 2011, 01:02

Chapter Nineteen
Two almost lovers were tangled around each other, their naked legs entwined in a large bed under an ice blue silk duvet and white Frette sheets. The woman mumbled in her sleep, moving fitfully while the man remained still, eagerly drinking in the pleasure of her company. And listening to her whisper his name and other equally intimate things ... things he absorbed in silent wonder.
He could have lost her. Lying next to her, he was conscious of the fact that their evening could have ended very differently. She didn‘t have to forgive him. She didn‘t have to accept him. But she did.
Perhaps he could dare to hope …
He didn‘t answer, for he was certain she was still asleep. It was three o‘clock in the morning and the bedroom was shrouded in darkness, a darkness made visible by the lights of the city‘s skyline diffused through the blinds.
She rolled over so that she could look at his face.
―Edward?‖ she whispered. ―Are you awake?‖
―Yes. It‘s alright, darling, go back to sleep.‖ He pressed his lips to her forehead and brushed her hair away from her face.
She propped herself up on one elbow so that she could see him better. ―I‘m wide awake now.‖
―So am I.‖
―Can I – talk to you?‖
He quickly mimicked her position. ―Of course. Is something wrong?‖
―Are you happier now than you were before?‖
Edward looked at her for a moment and then gently tapped her nose with his finger.
―Why the deep question in the middle of the night?‖
―You said you weren‘t happy last year. I was just wondering if you are happy now.‖
―Happiness is something I know precious little about. You?‖
―I try to be happy. I try to focus on the little things and find pleasure in them. Your pie made me happy.‖
Edward cupped her cheek with his hand. ―If I had known the pie would make you happy, I would have given it to you sooner.‖
―Why aren‘t you happy now?‖
―I bartered my birthright for a bowl of pottage.‖
―You‘re quoting Scripture?‖ Bella was incredulous.
Edward bristled.
―I‘m not a pagan, Isabella, I was brought up Episcopal. Carlisle‘s father was an Anglican priest in England. Didn‘t you know that?‖
She nodded. She‘d forgotten.
Edward‘s face took on a remarkably serious expression. ―I still believe, Isabella. Even though I don‘t live like it. I know that makes me a hypocrite.‖
―All believers are hypocrites, Edward, because none of us live up to our beliefs. I believe, too, but I‘m not very good at it. I only go to Mass when I‘m sad, or at Christmas and Easter.‖ She reached her little hand out to find his and clasped him tightly. ―But if you still believe, then you must have hope. You must believe that happiness is possible for you, too.‖
He released her hand and rolled onto his back, gazing up at the ceiling.
―I lost my soul, Isabella.‖
―I don‘t believe that.‖
―You‘re looking at one of those precious few who have committed the sin unto death.‖
Edward sighed. ―I‘m beyond redemption, Isabella, because I‘ve done unforgivable things.‖
―You mean – with Jane?‖
He laughed bitterly. ―Would that those were my only sins. But no, Isabella, I‘ve done worse. Please just accept what I say.‖
She inched closer to him.
Bella‘s little face creased with worry and her eyebrows knitted together. She took her time considering the words he had not said, while he trailed repentant fingers up and down her arm.
―I know that keeping secrets from you is hurtful. I know that I won‘t be able to keep them from you forever. Please, just give me a little time.‖
I promise I won‟t make love to you without telling you who I am first.
Edward‘s silent vow was made in good faith. He wanted her, he wanted all of her, but he realized that evening that he couldn‘t allow her to give him her virginity without knowing exactly to whom she was giving it. And although her ultimate reaction to Jane had taught him to hope, he was still afraid that his revelations would drive her away.
She could do better.
But the thought of Isabella with someone else made his heart stutter.
―Do you have a conscience?‖
―What kind of question is that?‖ he growled.
―Do you believe that there is a difference between right and wrong?‖
―Of course.‖
―Do you know the difference?‖
Edward scrubbed at his face with both hands and then kept them there.
―Isabella, I am not a sociopath. Knowing isn‘t the problem; doing is the problem.‖
―Then you have a soul. Only a creature with a soul can tell the difference between right and wrong. Yes, you‘ve made mistakes, but you feel guilt. You feel remorse. And if you still have your soul, then you haven‘t lost your chance at redemption.‖
Edward smiled sadly and kissed her. ―You sound like Carlisle.‖
―Carlisle is very wise.‖
―And so are you, Miss Swan. Apparently.‖ He gently mocked her.
―Actually, I am. With a little bit of help from Aristotle, Professor.‖
He reached over and pulled up her t-shirt slightly so that he could tickle her naked flesh.
―Ah! Edward! Stop it!‖ She giggled and writhed, trying to get away from him.
He continued for a moment, just to give himself the pleasure of hearing her laughter ring out in the darkened space. And then he let her go.
―Thank you, Isabella.‖ He stroked her hair. ―You almost make me believe it.‖
She smiled at him and placed her arm around his waist, snuggling into his side.
―You said you‘d tell me about Aramis.‖
―Not much to tell. It was a gift from Alice and Esme a long time ago. I kept on buying it out of habit.‖ He grinned. ―I‘ve never received any complaints. Are you suggesting I change to something more sophisticated? Perhaps something by I Profumi di Firenze?‖
―Their scents are beautiful but I wouldn‘t change. Not if Esme gave it to you.‖
Edward‘s smile faded, but he pressed a kiss to her forehead nonetheless.
―I suppose it‘s a good thing she didn‘t buy Brut.‖
Bella laughed.
They lay very still for a few minutes, before she whispered her confession close to his ear.
―There is something I would like to tell you.‖
Edward pursed his lips slightly and nodded.
She looked away shyly.
―You could have had me in the meadow. I would have let you.‖
Edward stroked her cheek with a single fingertip.
―I know.‖
―You know?‖
―I am practiced at reading a woman‘s body, Isabella. Although I have yet to study yours to the extent I would wish. That night you were very receptive.‖
Bella looked up at him in surprise.
―So you knew then that I -?‖
―But you didn‘t …‖
―Will you tell me why?‖
―I didn‘t think it was right. And I was so happy to have found you and to have you in my arms … it was enough. It was everything.‖
Bella leaned over and pressed her lips against his stubbled neck.
―It was perfect.‖
―When we go to Forks for Thanksgiving, I‘d like to take you back to the meadow. Will you come with me?‖
―Of course, Edward.‖
She nodded against his chest, pressing a kiss just shy of his tattoo, for she knew he flinched whenever she touched him there.
―Kiss me,‖ he whispered.
She complied, pressing parted lips and open mouth to his, tasting him for as long as he would have her. Until he eventually sighed and moved her slightly.
She was saddened by the sudden loss of contact and an old worry reared its head.
Edward felt her reaction and lifted her chin so that she would look at him.
―Don‘t confuse my restraint with a lack of desire. I burn for you, Isabella.‖
He moved her so that she was on her side and then he spooned behind her, burying his face in her hair.
―I‘m glad you‘re here,‖ he whispered.
Bella wanted to tell him that she slept better with him than without him. She wanted to tell him that she would like to sleep with him every night and that she earnestly desired him.
But she didn‘t.
When she awoke the next morning, she was alone. She glanced at the old fashioned clock Edward kept on his nightstand and was stunned to discover that it was already noon. She‘d slept far too long.
She swung her legs over the edge of the bed and picked up a note that was propped up against a wine glass filled with orange juice, which was accompanied by a plate displaying pain au chocolat. Bella began eating the pastry as she read his note, which said the following:
From the Desk of Professor Edward A. C. Masen
You were sound asleep, so I didn‘t want to wake you.
I‘ve gone to run some errands.
Call me when you wake up.
I was very grateful to have you in my arms all night
and for your words …
If I have a soul, it's yours,
Bella smiled widely and took her time eating her breakfast. Edward sounded happy. And that made her happy, too.
She freshened herself up in the washroom and put her bra back on underneath her t-shirt. She was about to open the door to exit the bedroom when she tripped over something. She righted herself with a curse, and then saw that the offending speed bump was in reality three white shopping bags with the words ―Holt Renfrew‖ emblazoned on their sides. She moved them out of the way almost wrathfully, and then walked down the hall to the kitchen.
She was surprised to find Edward sitting at the breakfast bar, drinking his coffee and reading a newspaper. He was wearing a pale blue button-down shirt and black casual pants. He wore his glasses and he looked beautiful, as always.
Bella felt underdressed in her plain dark blue t-shirt and Seattle University shorts.
―Why, hello there.‖ Edward folded his paper and put his coffee cup down. He opened his arms wide, beckoning to her.
She stepped in between his parted knees and he embraced her warmly.
―How did you sleep?‖ he whispered in her hair.
―Really well.‖
He kissed her softly. ―You must have been tired. How do you feel?‖ He looked at her with concern.
―I‘m fine.‖
―I can make you lunch, if you wish.‖
―Have you eaten?‖
―Something small with my first coffee. I was waiting to have lunch with you.‖
He kissed her again, more deeply this time.
Bella shyly slid her arms up his back and into his hair, tugging on it slightly.
Edward reacted by nibbling on her lower lip and then pulling away with a smirk.
―Part of me was worried you wouldn‘t be here when I woke up.‖
Bella inhaled and exhaled a couple of times, just to catch her breath.
―I‘m not going anywhere, Edward. My feet are still aching from walking everywhere in those heels yesterday. I don‘t think I could make it home even if I wanted to.‖
―I can fix that. With a little help from a hot bath.‖ He moved his eyebrows suggestively.
Bella flushed and changed the subject. ―How long did you want me to stay?‖
―Edward, be serious.‖ She shook her head, smiling.
―‘Til Monday morning.‖
―I only have clothes for today. I‘ll have to go home and pick up a few things.‖
Edward smiled at her indulgently.
―I‘ll take you home, if you insist. Or I‘ll lend you my car. I think you should drive the Land Rover because it‘s the safer of the two, and if there are any accidents you‘ll walk away.‖ He paused. ―Although since you are a magnet for misadventure, I am seriously considering purchasing a Hummer.‖
She rolled her eyes.
―But before you go, there are a couple of things waiting for you in the bedroom. Perhpas a trip home will be unnecessary.‖
He winked at her impertinently.
―What things?‖
He waved his hands. ―Things someone might need if they were staying at a friend‘s house.‖
―And where did they come from?‖
―The store where Alice bought your messenger bag.‖
―So they were expensive.‖ Bella frowned and crossed her arms in front of her chest.
―You are my guest. The rules of hospitality require that I satisfy all your needs.‖ He smouldered, his tongue peaking out to swipe across his lower lip.
Through a great force of effort, Bella ignored his mouth.
―It feels – illicit if you are buying me clothes.‖
―What are you talking about?‖ Now he sounded cross.
―Like I‘m some –―
―Stop it.‖ He released her immediately and his eyes darkened.
Bella stared back at him, bracing for the deluge to come.
―Why do you have this aversion to generosity?‖
―I don‘t.‖
―Yes, you do. Do you think I‘m trying to bribe you into having sex with me?‖
Bella‘s face reddened. ―Of course not.‖
―Do you think I‘m buying you things because I expect you to pay for them in sexual trade?‖
―Then what‘s the problem?‖
―I don‘t want to owe you.‖
―So I‘m a medieval moneylender who charges interest and if you don‘t pay on time, I‘ll take a pound of your flesh.‖
―I don‘t think that,‖ she whispered.
―Then what do you think?‖
―I think that I want to stand on my own two feet. We‘re unequal enough as it is and –‖
―We discussed that last night. And a present from a friend does nothing to inhibit your free will or your personal autonomy,‖ he fumed. ―Listen, I didn‘t want you to have to go home. Our time together is short
enough as it is. I walked across the street to the store and had my personal shopper assist me in picking out a few things. I was trying to be thoughtful. But since you don‘t want them, I‘ll see that they are returned.‖
He shook his head as he stood up and carried his coffee cup into the kitchen. Then he walked right past her without saying a word and disappeared into his study.
That could have gone better.
Bella didn‘t know what to do. On the one hand, she wanted to be independent and not play the part of the poor little bird with the broken wing. On the other hand, she had a kind heart and did not like to cause other creatures pain. She had seen Edward‘s eyes. Behind his sudden show of temper, Edward was hurt. Deeply.
I didn‟t mean to hurt him…
Edward was so forceful, so strong, she tended to forget that part of him was very, very sensitive. Perhaps she was the only one who ever saw that side. And that made the fact that she had hurt him all the more painful.
She poured herself a glass of water and drank it slowly, trying to give him some space and a moment to calm down. And then she followed him.
Before she could step into the study, the telephone rang and she heard him answer it. She stuck her head through the doorway and looked at him tentatively.
Edward was sitting behind his desk, shuffling some papers while he spoke on the phone.
She stood in her makeshift pyjamas, fidgeting with her fingernails.
He glanced over at her, pointed at the telephone and mouthed the word, ―Carlisle.‖
She nodded and walked over to his desk, picked up a pen that did not look expensive and wrote on a piece of paper:
Forgive me.
She showed him the paper and his eyes met hers. He nodded stiffly.
I‟m going to take a shower. Can we talk after?
He glanced at her note and nodded again.
Thank you for being so thoughtful. I‟m sorry.
Now Edward reached his hand out to grasp Bella‘s wrist. He pressed his lips to the back of her hand and then released her.
She returned to the bedroom, closing the door behind her. She placed the shopping bags on the bed and immediately began to unpack them.
In the first bag, she found women‘s clothes, all in her size. Edward had purchased a classic black pencil skirt, black flat front Theory pants, a white cotton dress shirt with a shirttail and French cuffs, and a Santorini blue silk blouse. A pair of argyle patterned stockings, trouser socks, and black Costume National pointed toe ankle boots completed the ensemble. It was like a small, essential collection from a single designer.
Not to be ungrateful, but she would have been happy with a pair of jeans, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and a pair of sneakers.
In the second bag, she found lingerie. Edward had purchased an elegant and obviously expensive purple silk bathrobe and matching nightgown, which was ankle length and had a ruffled v-neckline. Bella was simultaneously surprised and pleased at the modesty and sophistication of the gown, for truly it was an item that she would feel comfortable wearing to bed with Edward even at this stage in their relationship.
At the bottom of the bag she found a pair of purple satin mules with kitten heels. Bella surmised that they were a health hazard masquerading as sexy bedroom slippers.
Clearly, Edward has a thing for heels … in all kinds of women‟s footwear.
The third and final bag contained underwear. Bella‘s cheeks flushed red as she unwrapped three lace demi bras, each with matching panties, all by La Perla. One pair was champagne coloured, one pair was ice blue and the other pair was pale pink. The panties were all boy shorts made of lace.
Bella blushed even more deeply when she imagined Edward combing through racks of racy and expensive underwear, settling on items that were both beautiful but elegant, and purchasing exactly the right sizes.
Oh gods of all really generous (boyfriends? friends?), thank you for steering him away from the really provocative items.
She was overwhelmed. She was surprised. But everything was so beautiful, so delicate, so perfect.
He might not love me, but he cares about making me happy.
Clutching the champagne coloured underwear, white shirt and black pants, she entered Edward‘s washroom and took a shower. Not only was her (no longer virginal) lavender poof waiting for her, but miraculously her brand of shampoo, conditioner and body wash were also waiting. Edward, in his own obsessive way, had thought of everything.
She was proudly wearing her new robe and towel drying her hair when she heard a knock at the door.
―Come in.‖
Edward peeked his head around the door.
―Are you sure?‖ He eyed her wet hair and then his eyes raked lazily down her flowing purple robe to her bare feet and then back up again, resting on the naked flesh at her neck.
―I‘m decent. It‘s alright.‖
Edward strode towards her, his eyes dark and hungry. ―You are utterly indecent. No one should be so tempting.‖
Bella‘s mouth dropped open.
He leaned against the countertop of the vanity and placed his hands in his pockets.
―I‘m sorry,‖ he said.
―Me, too.‖
―I overreacted.‖
―So did I.‖
―Let‘s make up.‖
―Please,‖ she begged.
Edward chuckled and then took the towel out of her hands, placing it next to him on the countertop. He pulled her into his arms and hugged her tightly. ―Do you like your robe?‖ He fingered the silk hesitantly.
―It‘s beautiful.‖
―I‘ll send the rest back.‖
―No. I like them. And I like them even more because you picked them out. Thank you.‖
He pressed his lips to hers until her lips parted and then gave her a long, searing kiss before pulling back.
―I would have chosen jeans but Bree, my personal shopper, persuaded me that it‘s very difficult to buy jeans that fit properly for another person. But if you‘d rather wear something more comfortable, I‘ll take you to buy something else.‖
Bella shook her head. ―I have a couple of pairs of jeans already.‖
He nodded. ―You need to know that I picked out everything except the underwear. Bree chose them.‖ He saw surprise on her face and hastened to explain. ―I didn‘t want to embarrass you.‖
―Thank you,‖ she mumbled, somewhat surprised.
―Isabella, I need to explain something.‖ His eyes grew serious and Bella felt a chill of some kind travel across the surface of his skin.
She shivered.
―My father seduced my mother, used her like a whore and then abandoned her. It grieves me that you could think I‘m treating you the same way. Of course, given my track record, your reaction is not surprising.‖
―Edward, I don‘t think that. I was just – embarrassed that you thought I was so broken that I needed to be looked after.‖
He stared at her closely. ―I want to look after you but not for that reason. Of course you can look after yourself. You‘ve been doing it since you were a little girl. And you‘ve done a good job, Isabella. But you don‘t have to be alone anymore. You have me now.‖
Really? thought Bella.
―I want to spoil you and make extravagant gestures because I care for you.‖ He shifted his weight slightly. ―I can‘t say everything I feel. All I can do is show you. So when you won‘t let me …‖ He shrugged, a pained look on his face.
―I never thought of it like that.‖
―Every time I do something for you it‘s me trying to show you the words I cannot say.‖ He traced his thumbs across the curve of her cheekbones. ―Don‘t deprive me of this. Please, Isabella.‖ His large eyes pleaded with her.
Bella answered him by raising herself up on tiptoe and pressing herself tightly against his chest, wrapping her arms around his neck and plundering his mouth with her own. It was all hunger and promise and giving and need.
And Edward gave to her, the tension of his jaw as he concentrated his entire being on this one, perfect mouth, fully palpable.
When they broke apart, they were both panting.
Edward rested his chin on her shoulder.
―Thank you,‖ he whispered.
―It‘s hard for me to depend on someone else.‖
―I know.‖
―It would be easier if you included me in your plans, rather than making decisions for me. I‘d feel more like your – partner. Not that that‘s what we are.‖ Her cheeks pinked up.
He kissed her again. ―I want us to be partners, Isabella. So what you ask is fair. I just get carried away sometimes.‖
Bella nodded against his chest and when he cleared his throat, she pulled back so that she could see his eyes.
―About a year before he died, my father had an attack of conscience and added me to his will. He must have thought that by giving me the same share in his estate as his legitimate children he could cover all his sins.‖
―I‘m so sorry, Edward.‖
―I didn‘t want the money. But because of the investments he left me, I have more money now than I had when he died. No matter how fast I spend it, I can never be rid of him. So you mustn‘t think about how much things cost. The cost is inconsequential.‖
―Why did you accept the inheritance?‖
He released her so that he could rub his eyes behind his glasses.
―Carlisle and Esme mortgaged their house to pay for my mistakes. I owed money for drugs, some dangerous people were after me, and there were other things …‖
―I didn‘t know.‖
―Charlie knew.‖
―Charlie? How?‖
―Carlisle was determined to save me. He made me tell him how much trouble I was in and then he was going to go to all of the people I owed money to and pay them off. Fortunately, he called Charlie first.‖
―I never knew about this.‖
―More secrets.‖ Edward frowned. ―Carlisle was so naïve. He didn‘t realize that they could have killed him and taken the money anyway. Charlie arranged to have some friends of his take care of everything, with Carlisle‘s money. When I got out of rehab I called my father‘s lawyer in Chicago and said I‘d take my inheritance. I paid off the mortgage, but I never lost the shame. Carlisle could have been killed because of me.‖
Bella pressed her cheek to his chest. ―You are his son, Edward. Of course he wanted to save you. He loves you.‖
―The prodigal son,‖ Edward muttered.
―I want you to feel comfortable here, Isabella. I emptied one of my dresser drawers and made room in the closet for your clothes. I‘d like you to leave some of your things with me so you can come and go as you please. And I‘ll give you my spare key.‖
―You want me to leave my clothes here?‖
―Well, I‘d rather you left yourself here, but I‘ll settle for your clothes‖ he grumbled, eyes still dark.
Bella reached up to plant a penitent kiss on Edward‘s pouting lips.
―I‘ll leave some of your gifts here and the next time I‘m over, they‘ll be waiting for me.‖
He smiled and then his smile morphed into a smirk.
―Since we‘re talking about leaving things here, perhaps you‘ll leave some pictures.‖
―You want to take my picture like this?‖
―Why not? You‘re breathtaking, Isabella.‖
Her skin flamed.
―I don‘t think I‘m ready to have you take erotic pictures of me.‖
His eyebrows furrowed.
―I was thinking more along the lines of some black and white photos of your profile, your neck, your face ...‖ He began tracing circles on her back, a gentle move designed to reassure her of his affection.
―Because I would like to be able to look at you when you aren‘t here. The apartment is very empty without you.‖
She pursed her lips thoughtfully.
―Does that trouble you?‖ He caressed her jawline slowly.
―No. You can take my picture. But I‘d prefer to be fully dressed.‖
―I don‘t think my heart could take the sight of you undressed – you‘re far too tempting as it is.‖
She smiled at him and he laughed.
―Can I ask you something, Edward?‖
―Of course.‖
―When you go home for Thanksgiving, will you stay at Carlisle‘s or at a hotel?‖
―I was just discussing that with him. I‘ll stay at the house with everyone else. Why?‖
―Alice said that you used to stay in a hotel whenever you visited.‖
He shrugged. ―That‘s right.‖
He sighed deeply.
―Because I would have been the only single person in a house full of lovers. I was the black sheep of the family and Emmett never let me forget it.‖
―You never brought a girl home?‖
―You never wanted to bring anyone home?‖
―No one before you.‖ He leaned forward to kiss her again. ―And if I had my way, you‘d be the first girl to share my bed in my parents‘ house. Unfortunately, I don‘t think that‘s going to happen on this trip. Unless I sneak you in through the window after dark.‖
Bella giggled slightly, but was secretly very, very pleased.
―Carlisle reminded me that I need to book our airline tickets. Why don‘t you let me make the arrangements and then we can work out the money later?‖
―I could book my own ticket.‖
―Of course you could. But I want us to be seated together. We‘ll have to leave for the airport after my seminar, which means we‘ll have to take the last flight out of Toronto, which is around nine o‘clock.‖
―That‘s late.‖
―I was going to reserve a hotel room in Seattle for Wednesday night, since we‘ll be arriving close to midnight. Unless you want to drive to Forks right away.‖
Bella shook her head. ―I‘d be too tired to help you drive and it would be such a long day.‖
―I could book two rooms or … you could stay with me.‖ Edward‘s eyes fixated on hers, measuring her.
―I‘d like to stay with you,‖ she smiled.
―Good. I‘ll look after the reservations and renting a car.‖
―What about Alice and Jasper? Shouldn‘t we drive with them?‖
―They‘re driving up Wednesday after work. And Alice instructed me that it was my responsibility to see that you arrived in Forks safely. She expects me to be your chauffeur and your bell boy.‖ He winked at her smugly.
―She knows, doesn‘t she?‖
―Alice always knows more than she says.‖ He smiled at Bella. ―Don‘t worry about Alice. I‘ll handle her.‖
―It isn‘t Alice I‘m worried about,‖ mumbled Bella.
―You don‘t need to worry about anything. We‘ll just be two old family friends who met again in a city far from home. It will be harder on me than it will be on you.‖
―Why is that?‖
―Because I will be in the same room with you without being able to touch you.‖
She looked down at her bare feet and smiled shyly.
Edward took her hand in his and began to stroke it.
―When is your birthday?‖
―I don‘t celebrate it.‖
―Why not?‖
―I just don‘t.‖ Now her voice was defensive.
―Well, I‘d like to celebrate it with you. Don‘t deprive me, Isabella.‖ Edward‘s green eyes telegraphed more frustration than annoyance.
Bella thought back to their argument about the clothes and decided that she didn‘t want to have another fight with Edward so soon.
―It was September thirteenth. You missed it.‖
―No, I haven‘t.‖ He wrapped his arms around her and rubbed his cheek against hers. ―Are you free next Saturday? We can celebrate it then.‖
―What will we be doing?‖
―I‘ll need to make some arrangements, but we‘ll be going out.‖
―I don‘t think it‘s a good idea for us to go out together – in public.‖
Edward frowned. ―Let me worry about that. Now are you accepting my invitation or not?‖ He slid his hand down to one of the ticklish spots on her side.
―I am accepting with gratitude. Please don‘t tickle me.‖
Edward ignored her plea and began tickling her lightly until she collapsed in his arms, shrieking with laughter.
He loved to hear her laugh.
When she finally caught her breath, she began apologizing.
―I‘m sorry for hurting your feelings. It‘s no excuse, but yesterday was a rough day and on top of that, I‘m hormonal.‖
Hormonal? thought Edward. What does that mean?
Ohhh …
He looked at her with concern. ―Are you feeling alright?‖
―I‘m fine. I get this way a few days before. I‘m sure you don‘t want to hear about it.‖
―If it makes you sick or upset, of course I want to hear about it.‖
―You might want to mark it on your calendar so you know when to avoid me. That is, if things …‖ She trailed off.
―I‘ll do no such thing,‖ said Edward, stiffly. ―I want you, all of you – not just the bits. And of course things are going to continue.‖
I hope.
Bella‘s revelation presented Edward with an interesting situation. It wasn‘t that he had forgotten his human biology. It was more like with his social lifestyle, it had never been an issue. Hormonal women, or women on their cycles, did not frequent The Vestibule looking for sex. And it had been a while since he had had the same woman in his bed more than once. And even then they had not discussed such intimate subjects.
He wouldn‘t mind discussing such intimate subjects with Isabella. He wanted to be able to read her moods, even if they were weepy or short-tempered. And the thought both perplexed and pleased him.
―I should let you get dressed. But there‘s one more thing we have to talk about.‖ Edward gave her a serious look and Bella immediately felt nervous.
―I spoke with my lawyer.‖
She nodded.
―He advised me to stay away from you. He said that the University has a zero-tolerance policy with respect to fraternization that covers both students and faculty.‖
―What does that mean?‖
―It means that both of us would be at risk if we were to be involved while you‘re in my class. You could be expelled, under certain conditions.‖
Bella closed her eyes as a groan escaped her lips.
Why is the universe always conspiring against us?
―We knew that the policy was in force and we knew that it was serious. We just need to maintain the status quo and continue being discreet for a couple more weeks. As soon as Katherine turns in your grade for your paper on December 4th, we will be free to see one another.‖
―I‘m afraid.‖
Edward reached up to caress her cheek. ―What are you afraid of?‖
―If anyone sees us together or suspects something, they can file a complaint. Angela wants you and she hates me. Peter doesn‘t like how you‘ve treated me so I‘m sure he‘d be eager to claim that you‘re harassing me. And Professor Singer …‖ Bella shivered. She didn‘t even want to consider what Professor Singer thought.
―I am not going to let them expel you. No matter what. It‘s never going to come to that.‖
Bella tried to protest but he silenced her with his lips, murmuring reassurances into her mouth as he tried to demonstrate how deeply he cared for her without using his words.
They spent a beautiful day together. They laughed and kissed and spent hours talking. Edward played the piano and even sang a little, after a lot of coaxing. He took several pictures of Bella in various casual poses until her embarrassment got the best of her and he was forced to put the camera away.
He resolved to take a picture or two while she was asleep that evening. For Isabella had the face of an angel when she was at peace. And he knew that a sleeping Isabella would make a captivating subject.
After dinner, they found themselves dancing in front of the fireplace. Edward had prepared a compilation of several sultry songs by Sting, but Bella couldn‘t concentrate on the music. Her head was in a haze as it always was when he kissed her. She had to focus on breathing every once in a while, otherwise she would be so caught up in moving her lips against his, she‘d black out.
His hands were in her hair, tangling and caressing the hairs at the nape of her neck. Then they moved to her shoulders, where they slowly traced circles. Then they slid down her arms to her waist, and gently, teasingly, moved slowly upwards to the sides of her breasts.
Then two strong hands gently cupped her breasts, moving and massaging them softly.
Bella pulled back.
Edward kept his hands where they were and opened his eyes. He looked puzzled at first.
Her chest was heaving and he could feel her heart racing against his fingertips.
―Isabella?‖ he whispered.
She shook her head, her skin flushed and her mouth open. She didn‘t break eye contact and moved closer.
Edward moved his hands a little, just to gauge her reaction.
She closed her eyes for a second and then opened them and he saw something completely new in their brownish depths – heat.
The sight of Bella‘s sudden and intense arousal hit him sharply, not just in his own heightened state of excitement, but emotionally, as well. She‘d never looked at him this way before, all trepidatious and animated, as if no one had ever touched her there before.
Edward rumbled slightly in his chest at the thought.
He motioned to her with his eyes to come in for a kiss and he crashed his lips to hers, making his caresses on her breasts more forceful, and trailing a thumb against the nubs that began to poke through her shirt.
Bella gasped in pleasure into his mouth and that spurred him on further.
Soon he was groaning into her mouth and pressing their bodies more tightly together.
More! His body ordered him. Closer. Faster. Tighter. More. More. More.
―Ugghhhh,‖ he groaned, breaking free from her lips and moving his hands to the safe space of her shoulder blades.
Bella pressed her cheek to the planes of his pectorals, gasping for air. Eyes closed, she began to sway on her feet and pitch sideways, nearing the floor.
Edward reached down and caught her by the waist, steadying her on her feet.
―Are you alright?‖
She nodded. ―Just light headed.‖
―Oxygen deprivation will do that to you.‖ He gave her a half-smile.
―So will your fingers,‖ she whispered.
He placed her in his red chair by the fire.
―I need to take a shower.‖
Bella nodded and tried to catch her breath.
When Edward was gone for quite some time, she wondered what had happened to him. She wondered why, all of a sudden, he felt the need to take a second shower.
And when the answer to her silent question finally dawned on her, she blushed and smiled to herself.
Bella‘s weekend at Edward‘s was perhaps one of the happiest of her life. She carried memories of it like talismans all week; through his seminar on Wednesday and Angela‘s persistent attempts to demean and embarrass her and through Peter‘s well-meaning but unwelcome encouragement to file a complaint against Professor Singer.
Edward‘s week was the week from hell.
It was difficult for him to keep his eyes off of Isabella in his seminar and so the exertion made him irritable and short-tempered. Angela was trying his patience, begging for extra meetings in which they could (allegedly) discuss her dissertation proposal. He rejected all of her requests with a wave of his hand, which only made her redouble her efforts.
And Jane …
Jane sent an email to Edward, which said the following:
So good to see you again.
I‟ve missed our little talks.
Your lecture was technically fine but I am disappointed
that you would present something so closed-minded
when you used to be so adventurous.
Perhaps the professor doth protest too much …
You need to embrace your true nature
and undergo a little training.
I can give you just what you need.
I can give you exactly what you crave,
Mme. Jane.
Edward was very careful not to reply to the email or to delete it. Instead, he did exactly what he had done with her previous correspondence – he printed it and placed it in a file in his office filing cabinet. He was unwilling to launch a complaint against her since their initial involvement had been consensual. But he was not above threatening her with her own words, should the need arise. He only hoped her fascination with him would continue and that she would forget all about Isabella.
In an effort to divert himself, Edward spent most of his free time that week either preparing for Isabella‘s birthday or fencing with the fencing club at Hart House. In either case, they were healthier options than his previous methods for blowing off steam.
Every night he would lie awake staring at his bedroom ceiling, thinking of Isabella and wishing that her warm little body was intertwined with his. He was beginning to have difficulty falling asleep without her and no amount of tension release (in any form) was eliminating that difficulty. Or that hunger.
It had been a long time since he had been on a formal date – since Harvard, at least. He cursed himself for his previous foolishness in thinking that his predations at the Vestibule were an adequate or preferable substitution. He missed sex, it was true. Sometimes he wondered if he would be able to keep to his regimen of chastity. But he didn‘t miss the alienation that came from going home alone from someone‘s apartment and washing their traces from his body as if they were contagions. He didn‘t miss the self-loathing he felt when he reflected on past conquests, conquests of women who he would never have introduced to Esme.
Isabella was different. With her he wanted the passion and the excitement, but also the tenderness and the companionship. And that realization, although new, continued to both frighten and excite him.
On Saturday afternoon, Bella eagerly read and re-read the email that gave her details about her birthday celebration.
Happy Birthday, Darling.
Please do me the honor of gracing me with your presence
at the Royal Ontario Museum this Saturday evening at six o‟clock.
Meet me at the Bloor Street entrance.
I shall be wearing the suit and tie and the incredibly wide smile
as you walk through the door.
I look forward to the pleasure of your company with great anticipation.
I miss you.
Yours with affection,
She complied eagerly, wearing the Santorini blue dress that Alice had bought, along with sheer black stockings and Christian Louboutin heels. It was too far (and too painful) to walk in those shoes from her apartment to the museum, so she took a cab. Her eyes were shining and her cheeks were pink with excitement.
I‟m going on a date with Edward. Our first real date.
It almost didn‘t matter that he had insisted on celebrating her birthday; the thought of having Edward to herself for a romantic evening pushed the apprehension aside. She missed him, too, despite their furtive texts and emails and evening phone calls.
The Museum had recently undergone a substantial renovation and a crystal sculpture shaped like the hull of a great ship jutted out of the original stone wall. Bella didn‘t like the juxtaposition of modern and Victorian; she preferred one or the other. But perhaps she was in the minority.
As she approached the entrance, she realized that the Museum was closed; its posted hours indicated it had been closed for thirty minutes. Nevertheless, she walked up to the door and was surprised that she was admitted immediately by a security guard.
―Miss Swan?‖ he asked.
―Your host is waiting for you in the gift shop.‖
Bella thanked the security guard and then walked slowly through the shelves of artefacts, toys and tchotchkes.
A tall man, impeccably dressed in a navy blue pinstripe suit with side vents, stood with his back towards her. As soon as she saw his form, his broad shoulders and untamed copper hair, her heart jumped in her chest.
Will it always be like this? Will I always feel breathless and weak-kneed whenever I see him?!
She approached him slowly and when he didn‘t turn around, she cleared her throat.
―Professor Masen, I presume.‖
He spun around quickly and as soon as he saw her, he gasped.
―You‘re gorgeous.‖ He pressed his lips to hers a little too enthusiastically, and then helped her out of her coat.
―Turn around,‖ he said thickly.
Bella slowly spun in a circle.
―You‘re stunning.‖ He pulled her into his arms and kissed her more forcefully, tugging her lip in between his immediately and then gently exploring her mouth.
She pulled back embarrassed. ―Edward.‖
He gave her a smouldering look. ―We‘ll be doing more of that this evening. We have the entire Museum to ourselves. But first …‖
He reached over to pick up a small clear box that had been sitting on a low table nearby.
He handed it to her. Inside the box was a large, white orchid.
―For me?‖
He smirked. ―I missed your prom. May I?‖
She nodded.
Edward removed the orchid and tied the corsage to her wrist a little too competently with a pink satin ribbon, winding the strands around her in an elaborate weave.
―It‘s lovely, Edward. Thank you.‖
She kissed him lightly.
She came willingly, but he immediately realized his mistake and stopped. ―I mean, if you please.‖
She beamed at him.
They walked over to a large open space where a small, impromptu bar had been set up.
Edward guided her to the bar with his hand at the small of her back.
―How did you arrange this?‖ she whispered.
―I was one of the donors for the Florentine exhibit. I asked for a private viewing, they gladly complied.‖ He gave her a half-smile that almost caused her to melt into a puddle on the floor just like Amélie.
The bartender smiled at the couple widely. ―Miss?‖ he prompted.
―Do you know how to make a Flirtini?‖
―Of course, Miss. Coming right up.‖
Edward‘s eyebrows went up and he leaned over to whisper in her ear, ―That‘s an interesting name for a drink. A preview of coming attractions?‖
She laughed.
―Raspberry vodka, cranberry juice and pineapple. One of my friends back in Seattle introduced me to it. Although she preferred Cosmopolitans.‖
He chuckled and then shook his head.
―Sir?‖ asked the bartender, handing Bella her drink, garnished with a small slice of pineapple.
―Tonic water with lime, please.‖
Bella looked up at him. ―You aren‘t drinking?‖
―There is a special bottle of wine waiting for us at my place. I‘m waiting for that.‖ He smiled at her. ―Besides, your very presence intoxicates me.‖
Bella waited until Edward received his drink and then they toasted one another.
―You can bring your – what was it – flirtini with you. We‘re the only guests here.‖
―I could nurse one of these all night. They‘re pretty strong.‖
―We have all the time in the world, Isabella. This whole evening revolves around you.‖
He led her into a hallway, through a set of doors and to an elevator. ―The exhibit is on the lower level.‖
When they entered the elevator, Edward turned to her.
―Did I tell you how much I missed you this week? The days seemed to last forever.‖
―I missed you, too,‖ she said, shyly.
―You look lovely. You face, your dress, your shoes.‖ He gazed down appraisingly at her high heels. ―You are a vision.‖
She blushed and lowered her eyes. ―Thank you.‖
―It‘s going to take all of my self control not to spirit you away to the Victorian furniture exhibit so I can make love to you on one of the four poster beds.‖
Bella‘s eyebrows shot up and then she giggled slightly, wondering what kind of reaction that display would elicit.
Edward breathed a sigh of relief that his unguarded remark hadn‘t caused her to retreat from him. He would have to be more careful.
He had been actively involved not only in the financing of the exhibit of many of Florence‘s treasures, but also in the selection of the pieces. As they wandered through the several rooms, he offered a few brief words on some of the more impressive items. But mostly they just strolled hand in hand, like a loving couple on a walk, pausing from time to time to embrace or kiss when the mood struck.
Bella finished her cocktail a bit ahead of schedule and Edward obligingly found a place to leave their glasses. He was happy to have their hands free, finally.
She was a magnet for him, an irresistible pull. He stroked her neck, her cheek, her collarbone. He pressed his lips to her hands, her lips, her throat. She was undoing him little by little and when she smiled or laughed he thought he would catch fire.
She was his addiction now.
They spent quite some time admiring Fra Filippo Lippi‘s painting ―Madonna with the Child and Two Angels,‖ for it was piece they both admired.
Edward stood behind her, his arms wrapped snugly around her waist.
―Do you like it?‖ he whispered in her ear, resting his chin on her shoulder.
―Very much. I always loved the serenity on the Virgin‘s face.‖
―Me, too,‖ said Edward, lightly drawing his lips from just under her jaw back to below her earlobe, nuzzling her softly. ―Your serenity is very alluring.‖
Bella‘s eyes rolled back into her head. ―Mmmmmmmm,‖ she moaned aloud.
Edward chuckled and then repeated his movements, allowing his tongue to peek out between his lips, lightly moving the tip of it across the surface of her skin.
Only a whisper, only a promise, so light she thought it had to be his lips.
―Does that please you?‖
Bella answered him by reaching up to grasp his hair. She caressed him gently. It was all the encouragement he needed.
He turned her around and pressed her to him, moving his arms to the small of her back.
―You are the true work of art,‖ he murmured against her throat. ―You are the masterpiece. Happy birthday, Isabella.‖
She gently tugged on his ear with her lips and then kissed it softly. ―Thank you.‖
He brought his lips to hers and kissed her firmly, begging her silently to open for him. And then their tongues moved together, slowly.
He was unhurried. He took his time. It was just the two of them in an almost empty museum.
He kissed her lips and her cheeks, walking her to a corner of the room, hesitantly backing her towards the wall.
His eyes were pensive. ―Is this alright?‖
She nodded, breathless.
―If you want to stop, just tell me. I won‘t let things go too far … but I need you.‖
She smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him in.
He pressed her gently against the wall, and then he pressed his body tightly to her. Every muscle, every plane of his was met by corresponding curves and softness. They fit together perfectly. As if they were made for each other.
His hands travelled down her sides and to her hips, hesitating.
She pressed her hips more tightly to his in response.
And all this time, their tongues and lips explored. Never satisfied.
His long, thin fingers slid to her back and then down so that they were cupping her two rounded, delicious curves. He squeezed tentatively, and then smiled against her mouth when she moaned.
―You‘re perfect. Every part of you. But this …‖ He smiled again and began kissing her with renewed vigour.
―Are you telling me you like my ass, Professor?‖
Edward pulled back so that he could see her eyes. ―Don‘t call me that,‖ he half-growled.
―Why not?‖ she teased.
―Because I don‘t want to think about the fact that I‘m breaking all the rules now.‖
Her smile disappeared and Edward instantly felt regret.
―And I would never call the beauty of your backside an ass – it‘s far too elegant a subject for that. I would have to create a whole new word just to describe it in all of its glory.‖
Now Bella laughed and he squeezed her with both hands for good measure.
Professor Masen is an ass man.
Her fingertips preferred his hair, stroking and weaving, pressing his face to hers.
She could feel his heart beating against her chest. She could feel her breathing stutter, but she didn‘t care.
She loved him.
And he had been so sweet to her.
In that instant she would have given him anything and damned the consequences. What consequences? Her mind couldn‘t even name them.
His fingers began to move, stroking her curves and kneading the flesh beneath them slightly. And then his right hand slid down to cup her thigh, pulling her leg upward. He wrapped her thigh around his hip and she squeezed against him.
It was almost a tango against a wall.
Bella couldn‘t stop kissing long enough to consider how she had mastered the art of balance, or breathing through Edward‘s mouth.
Now he could move. His hips pressed forward, flush against her with her thigh at his hip, while his hand traveled backward to support the back of her leg.
She could feel him hard against her. A delightful pressure and tentative friction.
She felt emboldened to remove her hands from his hair and to feel his shoulders and then to snake her arms around his waist and down to his own delicious curves. Curves she had greatly admired on more than one occasion. Curves that were taut and muscular beneath her tentative exploration. She pulled him more tightly against her, pressing her hands against him in encouragement.
He didn‘t need to be encouraged.
His fingers lightly traveled up and down her sheer stockings, caressing her thigh.
This was heaven.
Breathing, panting, grinding, kissing, feeling.
He met with no resistance. No hesitation. No shivers or fear.
She accepted him.
She wanted him.
And her body was soft and warm and oh so receptive.
―Bella, I – we – have to stop.‖ Without warning, he pulled back.
Her eyes were closed and her lips were red and pouting.
He hungered for her mouth even more now.
He brushed the hair away from her face. ―Baby?‖
She breathed heavily and then her eyelids fluttered open.
He brought their foreheads together and inhaled her breath, all perfumed and sweetness.
With one final caress, he coaxed her leg backwards and helped her to lower it.
She removed her hands regretfully from his derrière.
And then, although it pained him, he placed some distance between their bodies, taking her hands in both of his.
―I shouldn‘t have cornered you like that. Or let things go so far.‖ He shook his head, biting back a curse. ―Did I scare you? ‖
―I didn‘t say no, Edward.‖ Her little voice echoed in the great hall. ―And you didn‘t scare me.‖
―You were scared of me before. Remember that night when you asked me about one of my photographs … the aggressive and dominating one …‖ Edward‘s lips pressed together tightly.
―I know you better now.‖
―Isabella, I would never take anything from you or try to manipulate you into something you don‘t want. Please believe me.‖
―I do, Edward.‖ She pulled on one of his hands and coaxed him to spread it across her heart, palm flat to her chest, between her breasts. ―Feel my heartbeat.‖
Edward frowned. ―Too fast. Like a hummingbird.‖
―This is what happens every time I‘m near you. When you touch me. I‘m the one who is addicted to you, Edward. Don‘t you know that? Don‘t you know why I forget to breathe around you?‖
He brushed his thumb against her naked flesh and then gently transferred his attention to her swollen lower lip.
―I did this to you. Does it hurt?‖ he whispered.
She shook her head. ―It only aches in your absence.‖
He pressed his lips to hers reverently. ―You‘ll be the death of me.‖
She tossed her hair back and grinned. ―But it would be a sweet, sweet death.‖
He laughed and pulled her into a hug. ―Let‘s continue our tour before my contact decides to evict us for indecency. I‘ll have to speak to him about getting the videotapes from the security cameras.‖
Videotapes? Security cameras? Scheisse.
Hmmmmmm. On the other hand …
By the time they reached Edward‘s apartment, they were laughing and giddy. Their desperation for one another had cooled slightly, but was still warm and affectionate.
Bella was so happy. And they had the whole night together … and she would wear her purple nightgown … he adored it on her.
Edward kissed her in the kitchen, insisting that she allow him to do everything.
―But I want to help.‖
―We‘ll cook together tomorrow night.‖
She thought about this for a moment.
―I don‘t know how you‘d feel about it, but I have Esme‘s lasagne recipe. We could make it together.‖ She looked up at him uncertainly.
He smiled sadly and kissed her again. ―I haven‘t had that in years. I‘d be glad for you to teach me, Isabella.‖
That‟s likely the only thing I‟ll ever be able to teach you, Edward. You are a love god, amongst other things.
She brushed his lips with hers and then made herself comfortable on the bar stool.
―Tonight‘s dinner is brought to you by Scaramouche. Since Mohammed cannot come to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed.‖
―Everything is here, including a very fine Grand Marnier chocolate cake from Patisserie La Cigogne. And I have an extraordinary bottle of wine that I‘ve been saving, which I will allow to breathe before we get started.‖ He winked at her. ―I even have candles for the cake.‖
―Thank you for a lovely evening, Edward. It was – the nicest birthday I‘ve ever had.‖
―It‘s not over yet,‖ he rasped slightly, his green eyes sparking at her. ―I haven‘t given you your present.‖
Bella blushed deeply and looked down at her hands, wondering if he had meant to sound so sensual.
I wonder what “present” he wants to give me. I know what present I would like. It‟s official. I am now fantasizing about making love with Edward …
Bella‘s erotic imaginings were rudely interrupted by the ringing of her cell phone. She walked to her purse and opened it reluctantly.
―It‘s my dad,‖ she whispered to Edward. ―Something must be wrong. Hello?‖
―Hi, Bells.‖
Bella inhaled slowly, making a strained vacuuming sound with her lungs and then she held her breath. All the colour disappeared from her cheeks and immediately Edward walked over to her, knowing that something was very, very wrong.
―Why are you calling me from my dad‘s house? How did you get this number?‖ she managed, before her legs grew rubbery. When they would no longer support her weight, she sank to her knees on the floor.
―You‘re on speed dial on his phone, Bells. How else am I supposed to talk to you? You changed your number! And everyone knows where he keeps the spare key – under the welcome mat. I needed to talk to you. I miss you.‖
She closed her eyes and began to breathe in and out very fast. Edward took her hand to try to lift her to her feet, but she wouldn‘t move.
―I can‘t believe you broke into Charlie‘s house. How could you? After everything he has done for you and your dad!‖
―Leah left me. Met some bitch in Seattle. They‘re moving in together.‖
―You knew she was bi.‖ Bella placed a hand to her throat. ―What do you want?‖
―Was I really that bad, Bells? We were best friends, we used to laugh together. Would it have been so disgusting to let me fuck you? That‘s what couples do, Bella, they fuck. And you were holding onto it like you were too good for me. Some virgin princess waiting for a knight on a white horse. Except for all those hours you spent on your knees su—―
As his foul reminiscences rang in her ears, Bella made a wheezing noise and dropped the phone. It crashed against the hardwood and skidded towards Edward‘s feet. But by this point, Bella was already running for the guest washroom. The sounds of her dry heaves echoed down the hallway.
What the hell just happened?
Edward picked up her phone and put it to his ear. He heard heavy, male mouth-breathing.
―Who is this?‖
―This is Jacob. Who the fuck is this?‖
Edward hissed involuntarily and his eyes narrowed into slits.
―This is Isabella‘s boyfriend. What do you want?‖
―Bells doesn‘t have a boyfriend, asshole. And no one calls her Isabella. Put her back on the phone!‖
―Listen, you dog, she doesn‘t want to talk to you. Don‘t call her again.‖
―Are you fucking her?‖
Edward growled, the sound rumbling from his chest. ―If you know what‘s good for you, you‘ll stay away from her. Unless you‘ve suddenly decided you don‘t mind hobbling around on one leg.‖
―You are! You‘re fucking her! When did she meet you? September? And she‘s already busted! Unbelievable. Did she tell you about me? Did she tell you how she loved it when I fucked her m –‖
―That‘s my girlfriend you‘re talking about, motherfucker. And no, she never mentions you because you and your pencil cock are obviously forgettable. But you‘re lucky you‘re in Washington right now or you‘d be spending the evening in surgery trying to have your head reattached to your body. If I find out that you‘ve bothered her again, then I am going to come after you, do you understand? And you‘ll be lucky if you‘re still sentient when I‘m finished with you. Never contact her again.‖
Edward snapped the phone shut and then hurled it against the wall. The little phone broke into several pieces that scattered across the carpet.
He pinched the bridge of his nose and counted to fifty before he allowed himself to go to her. He had never been so angry. Or had such murderous thoughts. It was a good thing he was standing in his apartment in Toronto. Otherwise, he was pretty sure he would have killed that boy, whoever he was.
Edward poured a glass of water and carried to Bella.
She was seated on the cold, ceramic edge of the bathtub in the guest washroom. Her head was down and her arms were wrapped around her chest.
What the fuck did he do to her?
When she reached down to tug the hem of her skirt over her knees, the sight of her instinctive attempt to maintain some semblance of modesty caused Edward‘s heart to clench.
―Bella?‖ He handed her the water.
She sipped it slowly, but didn't respond.
He joined her on the edge of the tub, pulling her into his side.
―He told you about when I was with him, didn‘t he?‖ Her voice was low, dull.
―He demanded to speak to you, but I told him not to call you again.‖
Bella looked up at him as a tear slowly leaked from one eye.
―He didn‘t – say things about me?‖
―He mumbled incoherently until I threatened him.‖ Edward grimaced. ―And I wasn‘t kidding.‖
―He‘s really nasty when he‘s drunk,‖ she whispered.
―Let me worry about him. And if that means flying out there to speak to him in person, I‘ll do it. And he won‘t like what happens if I have to make that trip.‖
Bella was only half-listening. Jacob made her feel used. Filthy. Pathetic. And she didn‘t want Edward to look at her like that. She didn‘t want him to know what had happened. Ever.
―Sweetheart, did he explain why he called?‖
―Who is Leah?‖
―His girlfriend – fuck buddy. She left him again. He must be drunk to break into Charlie‘s house.‖
Edward reached over to wipe a stray tear away.
―I should call Charlie at the station and tell him what happened.‖
Bella looked up at him wildly.
―You can‘t. He‘s already upset that I‘m driving from Seattle to Forks with you. He can‘t know we‘re together.‖
He ran his fingers through her hair and then quickly wiped away another tear.
―You didn‘t tell me that. Not that I blame him. But you need to tell him what happened tonight so he can burglar-proof the house. And he needs to know that Jacob might decide to show up if he finds out you are coming home for Thanksgiving.‖
Bella shuddered.
―Tomorrow, I‘ll take you to pick out a new cell phone and we‘ll get you a Toronto number. You should tell Charlie not to place you on speed dial.‖
He lifted her chin so that she would look into his eyes. ―He can‘t hurt you anymore. He‘s over two thousand miles away. You‘re safe with me. I promise.‖
He smiled widely. ―Don‘t let the glasses and bowties fool you. I can take care of myself. And I won‘t let anyone hurt you.‖
He kissed her lips chastely and then pressed a kiss to her forehead.
―When we‘re home for Thanksgiving, you‘ll be with me while Charlie is at work. And I‘ll always be only a phone call away. Alright? Maybe Charlie should pay him a visit.‖
She murmured just to let him know that she‘d heard him.
He pulled her into a closer embrace.
―This was my fault.‖
She gave him a questioning look.
―If I hadn‘t left you that night – if I had come back to Forks to find you …‖
She shook her head. ―You were twenty-seven, Edward. I was only seventeen. Charlie would have scared you off with a shotgun.‖
―I should have waited.‖
She sighed and her face wore a pained look.
―You don‘t know how much I regret not waiting for you. He‘s why I never celebrate my birthday. And now he has ruined it again.‖ She began to cry quietly.
Edward kissed away her tears.
―I won‘t let him ruin your birthday. Forget about him. It‘s just us, now. No one else.‖
Bella wanted to believe him. But unfortunately, she knew that her past was only just now beginning to catch up with her. And she trembled in fear when she thought about what Thanksgiving might bring.
Bella had very bad karma when it came to Thanksgiving.


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Data d'iscrizione : 01.01.11
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