Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Cocky and the Cougar - Out-Take #2

Author's Note: The following is an outtake from The Cocky and the Cougar, originally written as the inaugural piece for “Fuck Me Fridays” on The Twinklings blog, many moons ago ( Many thanks to Natalie and the gang there for inviting me to participate. 
This scene takes place prior to the final chapter of The Cocky and the Cougar, as Teddy and Bella are on their way to Europe for their long holiday. It is not essential that you be familiar with the original story, however, to enjoy this one-shot. And enjoy it, I hope you do.
Reminder - adult content follows.
Snake on a Plane
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the Captain has turned off the ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign. You are now free to walk about the cabin. While you are seated, however, we request that you keep your seat belts fastened. Thank you.”
Edward leaned over the armrest and pulled the bud from my ear. 
“Hey! I’m trying to listen to Bruce.” 
I glared at him while replacing my earbud and he smirked at me as he grabbed my iPod from my lap. I tried to snatch it back, but he held it out of my grasp and paused the music.
“The Boss will always be there,” he said. “In fact, he pretty much always has been there.”
“If you are going to make a wisecrack about my age, trust me, this is not the time.”
That damn smirk was still on his face. “I’m not making a crack about your age. I’m making a crack about Springsteen’s.”
I grabbed my iPod from his hand. “So sorry he lacks the emotional depth of Miley Cyrus, young man. Get your own iPod if you don’t appreciate my musical choices.”
“Champagne, Mr. Masen?” The perky flight attendant, all white teeth and shiny blonde hair, leaned over Edward’s seat, smiling down at him charmingly. I gritted my teeth in an effort not to tell her to fuck off. After all, I wanted champagne, too.
“Yeah, sure,” he said, barely looking at her, but still smirking in my direction.
After pouring him a glass, she glanced at me. “And ... ma’am?”
It’s a good thing my seatbelt was cinched tightly around my waist or I might have jumped up and pushed her to the floor, my knee at her throat. Instead, I gave her a thin-lipped smile. “Please.”
She handed me a glass and I downed it, handing it back to her as she raised her eyebrows and refilled the glass for me. Edward finally looked up at her. 
“Yeah. Stay close,” he said as she gave him a puzzled look.
I had to admit it. There was one good thing about traveling with Edward Masen, man of a zillion frequent flier miles: upgrades to First Class.
“Bella...” I turned up the volume on my iPod as he put a hand on my thigh and leaned toward me. He exhaled in exasperation. He put his hand over mine and used our fingers to turn the volume back down. “Bella, stop it. I said I’m sorry.”
I hit the pause button on the iPod and gave him a pointed look. “An apology doesn’t count if you’re laughing while you give it.”
“Well, I’m sorry now, that’s for sure.” He sighed.
“You’re sorry because I’m pissed. Not because of what you did.”
He looked mad, finally, and he reached and pulled the bud from my ear again. “You’re right,” he said, an edge to his voice. “Because I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“No?” I was aghast. “Then why am I mad?”
“Um ... Because you’re nuts?
I could feel my face transform as my stare turned cold. I watched as his adam’s apple bobbed with his swallow in the face of it. 
“You really don’t plan on getting laid any time soon, do you?” I asked.
“Just tell me what I did.”
I pulled the other bud from my ear and turned toward him slightly. I was trying to keep my voice to a whisper, but it was still obvious how angry I was. “I was gone for five minutes, Edward. Five minutes. I come back from the restroom and you’re totally flirting with Miss Hottie McTightPants. You think I didn’t see that?”
He stared at me for a few moments. I could almost hear the wheels in his mind spinning.
“I was not flirting with her. She was flirting with me. There’s a difference.”
I finished my second plastic flute of champagne. “Oh, she was definitely flirting with you. Miss twenty-two-year-old with the perky tits shoved up to her chin.” He started to chuckle, but my glare shut him down. “But you were flirting right back with her. I know you, Edward. I know how you flirt. You used to flirt with me.”
His fingers trailed along my thigh. “I’d still flirt with you, if you’d let me.”
I stared icily down at his hand until he removed his fingers from my person. Once he had, I put the earbuds back in place.
“Oh come on, Bella. It was harmless.”
“Sure it was. You only had five minutes.” I glared at him. “I guess it’s a good thing I wasn’t suffering from gastric distress. You might have had half an hour.”
He laughed and I only glared harder. I failed to see the humor in the situation.
His jaw grew tense and he yanked the earbuds out of my ear again. “Bella. You don’t honestly think I would do something with a stranger at the airport, do you?” he whispered angrily.
I stared at him until I felt tears threatening at my eyes. His eyes grew wide in response, all anger leaving his features.
“That’s not the point,” I whispered.

“What is this?” He reached across me and held my cheek in his hand as he spoke softly. “Baby, you can’t be this upset. I’m really sorry. I just didn’t think—I mean, it was harmless. You can’t honestly think I would ever cheat on you. Bella…”
I sniffled, knowing I was being childish, but unable to stop myself and a tear dripped down my cheek. “No. I don’t. I just–” I was unable to continue. What I felt was embarrassing and I thought I might start sobbing if I continued to speak. Instead, I looked down at my lap and tried to get hold of myself.
I took a deep breath. “It’s just ... hard, Edward. Since the car accident, I–” The tears started coming again, in spite of my efforts to combat them. “You know, I had to chop off my hair and I feel so out of shape and ... I just feel so–” If I could barely admit it to myself, how could I say the words out loud?
“Bella ... Baby, you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known. How can you not know this?” His thumb ran across my cheek, catching my tears as they fell, and he bent to kiss my forehead.
The stewardess came back around and asked if we needed more champagne. Instead of answering her, Edward reached over and unhooked my seatbelt, then his own, grabbing my hand and standing. 
“I’m afraid my girlfriend isn’t feeling very well,” he said to the flight attendant. “I’m going to take her to the restroom.”
“Of course, Mr. Masen,” she said, stepping back to make room for us in the aisle. “Is there anything I can get you?”
He shook his head and motioned for me to walk in front of him. “I don’t think so. I’ll let you know if we need anything.”
I looked down as we walked up the aisle, though the few passengers in the seats in front of us were either asleep, masks on their eyes, or involved in movies. One man looked up briefly from his laptop as I passed by his seat, but I didn’t look him in the eye. Luckily, the restroom was unoccupied so I felt confident that no one had witnessed my crying jag and I’d successfully avoided embarrassment.
I opened the door and looked back at Edward. “I’ll be out in a minute,” I said, but gasped as he pushed inside the small room behind me and locked the door.
“What are you doing?” I asked in a quiet, but panicked, voice. “You can’t be in here with me.”
He was pressed against me, his hands on my hips, and he kissed my forehead again. “Turn around,” he whispered. “I want you to look in the mirror.”
“Huh.” I looked around at the tiny space we occupied. “Easier said than done, bud.”
He grinned and his hands shifted my hips, urging me to turn. When I did so, brushing against him in the process, I looked in the mirror, focusing on his beautiful face behind me. He wrapped his arms around my waist and leaned his chin on my shoulder. I felt his breath against my collarbone.
“Look at that,” he whispered, nudging my hip from behind.
“Edward, are you trying to get me to talk about how beautiful you are again? Because seriously, your ego...”
“Bella.” He whispered in my ear before kissing its lobe. “You know what I mean. Look at you. Look at how beautiful you are.”
“Edward...” I sounded suspiciously like I was whining. It was not attractive in the least.
“Bella. Stop looking at me. Look at yourself.”
I shifted my line of vision and looked at my face next to his. It was the same old me. The same brown eyes, the same red lips. The hair was ... well … it was the same brown, but far shorter, and curlier, as a result. I’d had it cut after getting more than a dozen stitches on the side of my head, and it was barely chin-length. I’d had it layered shortly before we left on our trip, trying to bring some bounce and style to it. Wisps fell across my forehead. At least it was finally long enough to fully cover the scars.
It was the same face, the same body. But somewhere along the line, I seemed to have lost some of the spark I’d once had. My eyes seemed dead, my skin flat and without the glow that used to highlight my cheeks. My body, while still thin, had become almost flabby due to lack of exercise over the months I recuperated from the accident. As I looked at them, it appeared my breasts were sagging.
“I don’t think we’re looking in the same mirror,” I whispered, tears threatening again.
“Baby...” He whispered again against my ear, his breath making me shiver. “How can you not see what I see?” 
I shifted my eyes again toward his reflection as he smiled at me in the mirror. He lifted a hand to run two fingers along my neck, making me shiver again and warm to his touch. “I loved your hair long, you know I did. But this hair cut, baby...” He leaned in and kissed my neck, his tongue darting out to run up to my ear. “I love seeing your long, graceful neck. And I love having easy access to it.”
I smiled shyly as he kissed my neck again, sucking on the flesh briefly. I lifted my hand to his hair and ran my finger through its silky strands. 
He planted a soft kiss at my temple and continued to whisper against my skin. “You have the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. Those long lashes have always, since the first day I met you, overwhelmed me. And they still do, baby. Just when I think I know everything about you, that I know exactly what you look like, you look at me through those lashes and you take my breath away—like I’ve never seen you before. You seem to have all the answers to all the questions buried in your eyes.”
A slight blush came to my cheeks as he spoke. He dropped his hand to my hip and moved it around to squeeze my ass. 
“I think I might love watching you walk away from me almost as much as I love watching you walk toward me, baby.” 
I giggled and tightened my grip in his hair, tangling my fingers there. 
“Your ass is like a fucking cupcake.” 
That made me giggle again and my other hand flew to my mouth, my eyes flying open wide, in fear we would be heard. He paid no mind, though, as his husky whisper brought goose bumps to my skin. 
“I just want to take a bite out of it, every time I see it.”
I moaned softly as he continued to caress my ass, his other hand moving up to my breast. My breath caught in my throat as he squeezed me through my blouse. I could feel my nipples hardening under his caress. 
“And you know I love your tits, baby.” 
He brought his other hand around and up and pushed my breasts together, his fingers teasing over my taut nipples as my breath began to come faster. I pressed back against him, feeling his hardness against my lower back. I bit my lip in an effort not to moan and alert others to our activities.
His quiet groan was barely restrained, however, as he looked again at our reflections in the mirror, pushing his hips toward me. “Fuck, when you bite your lip like that ... See, I know you do that when you come. So when I see you do it...” 
His words trailed off and he brought his hand up to my face, urging me to tilt my head back so he could kiss me on the mouth. His tongue slipped through my parted lips to meet mine and the two danced together eagerly. I moaned into his mouth as the hand at my breast slipped beneath my blouse. He pulled at the buttons, giving him more room to move about, and he pulled the lace of my bra aside. I gasped against his lips at the feel of his fingers teasing my nipple.
He pulled away slightly, smiling as he whispered, “Can you be quiet baby?”
I gasped again. “Edward, we shouldn’t do this.” My body, though, was saying something entirely different as his hand snaked up my skirt, lifting it, while his other continued to work at my breast. He ground his hips into my ass, his hardness insistent.
“Perhaps we shouldn’t. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to.” His eyes twinkled at me from the mirror. “I need you, baby. You’re so fucking sexy. I can’t let you out of here without getting inside you first.” His teeth sank into the skin of my neck.
His fingers played along my thigh as he continued to speak into my ear. “You have the softest skin.” His hand dropped from my breast and moved behind me. His knuckles brushed against me as he worked at his pants and I felt a little faint at the knowledge of what was about to happen. I leaned forward, slightly, bracing myself with my hands on the edge of the sink.
His fingers slipped inside my panties and through my folds. I moaned and he caught his breath when he felt my wetness.
“Christ, Bella. How can you not know how lovely you are, how perfect you are for me? The way you look, the way you feel, the way you smell.” He brought his fingers to his lips, sucking them into his mouth while I watched in the mirror. “The way you taste, baby. Like brown sugar and cream.”
A whimper escaped my lips and I reached behind me to grasp his cock in my hand. I watched as his eyes closed, briefly, and his hand returned to my skirt. He lifted it up and bunched it around my hips, then dropped his hand to my panties again and moved them to the side.
He slipped inside of me and my eyes closed, almost involuntarily, as I dropped my head to my chest and let out a long breath in pure pleasure. He was having none of that, however, and he put a hand beneath my chin, lifting it.
“Keep your eyes open, baby. I want you to see what I see. I want you to see how sexy you are, how gorgeous you are.”
I whimpered again as I opened my eyes slowly, catching his again in the mirror. He started to move inside of me and dropped his hand to my breast, squeezing as his other hand flattened against my tummy. I pushed back against him, eager to feel him as deep inside of me as possible.
We watched ourselves in the mirror. A flush came over my face and my chest. My eyes were alight with passion and love for the beautiful man behind me. He bent his head to nibble again at my neck and I reached behind me to grip his silky hair. He looked into my eyes in the mirror and the depth of the love I saw there made my legs weak.
His hand slipped down my stomach and beneath the front of my panties. When he found my clit, he took it between his fingers, making me moan again. He grinned. 
“Ssh...” he whispered into my ear before licking behind it. “Don’t give us away.” His fingers became more insistent, rubbing in circles, and he bent his knees so he could thrust further into me. 
“Edward,” I whispered. I could feel myself starting to clench around him and knew that he felt it too when he turned my head back toward him. Taking my mouth to his in a deep kiss, he swallowed my moans as my climax took me, my hands gripping the sink for dear life, my legs wanting to fold and collapse beneath me.
He flattened his hand against my tummy, holding me to him as he thrust urgently into me, his other hand still squeezing at my breast. In moments, he grunted into my mouth and I felt his heat spilling inside of me. I was certain my whimpers would be heard without his kiss to silence me.
We broke our kiss and stood panting against one another. Edward dropped his head to my shoulder. I stared at our reflection as I caught my breath, at the beauty of us together. My cheeks remained pink, the light still alive in my eyes and a smile on my lips. My hair was a mess, but nowhere near what it would have been were it still long. A few trails though it with my fingers and it would be like Edward’s hands had never been near it.
Finally, Edward brought his head up and pulled out of me, backing up only a step so he could adjust himself. I pulled a few paper towels from the dispenser and wet them in the sink, smiling at his reflection in the mirror as I handed them back to him. He grinned at me.
“Baby, you are the sexiest thing I ever met,” he said. “Don’t ever forget that.”
“Well...” I smirked at his reflection. “I might just conveniently forget so you can remind me like this as often as possible.”
After a few moments, Edward peeked out of the room before leaving me alone so that I could use the facilities and clean myself up. When I felt I could walk without my legs giving out, I made my way back to my seat. The businessman I’d noticed earlier lifted his head from his laptop and gave me a knowing smile. I winked at him.
Edward rose as I approached our row, allowing me room to move in front of him to my seat by the window. I noticed that we each had a new cup of champagne in front of us. He gripped my hand in his and lifted it to his lips as I fastened my seatbelt.
After ten minutes or so, the flight attendant served us dinner. “Everything okay?” she asked. “Do you feel like eating anything?”
“Oh yes, thank you,” I said, smiling up at her. “All of a sudden, I am really hungry.”

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Cocky and the Cougar - Out-Take #1

Author's Note: This one shot was purchased during the Fandom Gives Back 2 auction by Twimom76 and, because she rocks so hard, she graciously allowed me to share it with others. She gave me an awesome story idea and I thought you all might enjoy reading it as much as I liked writing it. :) So thank you again, Twimom76, not only for your generosity during the auction, but for a prompt that I really got a kick out of.
 A Sort of Homecoming
“Oh my God, I have to take you there.”
He was driving me toward what he called Montrose Harbor and we passed by a club called Blue Chicago.
“Best club in Chicago. I’ve seen the greatest bands there. I used to come into the city when I was sixteen and sneak in with my fake i.d.”
I had to smile as I looked at Edward behind the wheel of the Audi he’d rented for our stay in Chicago. He was so excited and his face, always amusingly animated, was lit up like he was a ten-year-old on Christmas morning. I reached over and put a hand on his thigh, squeezing lightly.
“You realize that we’re only in town for three days and you’ve already pointed out about a dozen places we have to go while we’re here.”
He squeezed my hand at his thigh before lacing his fingers through mine. “Hope you rested up while we were in Paris, then. You’ll need your energy.”
I chuckled and scooted closer to him. “Paris was wonderful, love, but you know as well as I do that resting wasn’t really on our agenda.”
He glanced my way and winked at me lasciviously. “True, but luckily you seem to have lots of energy when it’s needed.”
“You’re forgetting that I’m old. I don’t have quite the stamina I used to have.”
“Really?” He raised his eyebrows, comically. “Is that true? Did you used to have more stamina?”
“Truthfully?” I smiled demurely.  “No.” 
He chuckled and I watched the scenery approaching us through the windshield. Chicago had a lot more trees than I expected. 
“I’m in much better shape now than I used to be.”
His hand flattened over the top of mine and he pressed into it. “Yeah, okay. That makes sense. ‘Cause seriously, how much stamina can a woman have? I was about to ask if you ever killed a man.”
We laughed together, the sound like music to my ears. It was a cold and cloudy day, but the sun had begun to peek down at us, streaming beautifully through the tops of buildings and the many trees we passed. 
“Wouldn’t be a bad way to go,” I said, still chuckling.
“Death by pussy. That’s like leaving this world the same way you came in.”
“You’re really very crass, you know.” I was still smiling as I rolled my eyes.
He lifted my fingers to his lips and kissed them. “Yes, but you love me anyway.”
“Yeah, usually.” I shrugged.
We had arrived in Chicago late the previous night and headed straight to our hotel—the Renaissance Blackstone, right on Michigan Avenue, near Grant Park. It was lovely, as was our view of Lake Michigan, but I missed Paris already. If I was in love with Edward before, our six weeks in Europe, capped off by a week of romance beyond my wildest imagination in Paris, just cemented that fact. He wined and dined me in an extravagant manner; we wandered through the streets of the city, gaping at the sites like the tourists we were; we walked daily, hand-in-hand, through the Tuileries garden. But nothing was better than the inordinate amount of time we spent in our suite, gazing out at Paris from our balcony and making love like the world was ending and we were living on borrowed time.
Traveling can be stressful under the best of circumstances. Even your closest friends can leave you so irritated you want to stick a fork in someone’s eye. Traveling with Edward, though, was a joy. It was a given that we were interested in the same things and therefore wanted to visit the same sites. What was less obvious was just how comfortable we would be together. Neither of us were strict, by-the-clock tourists, always planning out our days to the minute. We decided what we would do each morning and went about each day at our leisure. We were both wanderers—we liked to walk around and get lost, which led to the most fabulous discoveries, such as the tiny restaurant in Rome where nobody spoke a word of English, but they served us the best food of our entire trip; the ruins we literally stumbled upon while gathering lemons in the Cinque Terre; the old Spanish couple in Barcelona who invited us into their home for an afternoon meal. While we always had plenty to talk about and Edward never bored me, we didn’t feel the need for constant conversation. Often, we would just sit in quiet contentment, letting our environment envelop and seduce us, our only communication being a soft caress. 
I knew without question there was no one better suited to me than Edward, nobody I would rather be with. I no longer knew what I wanted from my life or who I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew that whatever and wherever I ended up, I wanted him at my side. I felt a strange mixture of peace and excitement at that knowledge.
There were two goals for the stop through Chicago at the tail-end of our trip. The most obvious was that Edward was to introduce me to his parents. To that end, we were having dinner at their home that night. Edward’s other objective with this trip — one that was left unspoken, but I knew to be his main goal — was for me to fall in love with the city itself. He had applied to start the Masters program at Northwestern in the fall and while he had submitted applications to other universities as well, it was a forgone conclusion he would be accepted into his alma mater. He longed to return to Chicago. He liked Southern California (especially the weather), but I knew that the only thing really holding him there was me. 
“I wish it was baseball season,” he said. “I used to love going to see the Cubs.”
“You must be a glutton for punishment, then,” I said with a grin as I pulled my wool pea coat tighter around my neck.
“Hey, don’t be dissing my Cubbies!” He glanced over at me as he turned onto a highway that ran along the lakeshore. “Are you cold, doll? Want me to turn up the heat?”
“I’m okay, for now.” 
It was really cold in Chicago. There was no snow on the ground, but the air was like ice and it cut through me like a switchblade. I thought I was literally going to freeze even standing inside the airport, waiting for our luggage to come around on the carousel. When we walked outside, I thought I had died and just stepped into hell. I’d been shivering in my coat and gloves ever since. I even had a hat on my head. So far, Chicago, with its numerous parks, skyscrapers and the coastline, seemed to be a beautiful city. From what Edward had been telling me all day, it was also filled with world class restaurants, jazz and blues clubs and museums. I had no idea, though, how I would ever to get used to the cold. The fifteen hours I’d spent there so far made rainy Forks, Washington, seem like Hawaii.
“What time do we have to be at your parents’ house?” I was eager to change the subject. I didn’t really want Edward to know how uncomfortable I was. He was so excited to be home.
“Seven. I’m sure we’ll have a cocktail hour before we eat. And you’ll be thankful for the booze, believe me.”
I smiled as I looked at him. His jaw was tense and I instantly regretted asking him about dinner. I reached over to caress his arm. 
“I’m sure it won’t be that bad, Edward. I promise I won’t embarrass you.”
He huffed in response. “It’s not you I’m worried about. Please, just ... whatever happens, please don’t think I’m anything like them, okay?”
“Edward...” I squeezed his forearm. “I already know you. I already love you, remember? Meeting your parents isn’t going to change that, silly.”
“I know ... I just...” He sighed heavily and pulled into a parking lot in front of the lake. The water looked grey under the heavy clouds and the wind made waves across its surface. I shivered, just the site of it making me even colder. Edward turned toward me as he shut the engine. “You don’t know these people, Bella. Hell, I barely know them. But they’re ... difficult. My dad, especially. He’s a hard ass and he’s immediately suspect of everyone. I’m just afraid they’re gonna make you feel uncomfortable.”
“Well, first of all, I am quite used to dealing with hard asses, Edward.” 
He gave me a halfhearted smile. 
“Second, even if they do make me feel uncomfortable, so what? It’s only one night. It’s not like we’re moving into their spare bedroom.”
He looked at me for several seconds before he leaned over the center console and gave me a soft kiss on the lips. He caressed my face as he pulled away only slightly. I had no idea what was on his mind, but it was apparent that his carefree attitude from earlier had been diminished significantly.
“You wanna go for a walk by the lake?” he asked.
I pulled away, my mouth dropping open before I could catch it. “Dude ... it’s like two degrees out there.”
He smiled and hit the button to unlock our doors. “That’s a slight exaggeration, love. Come on. I’ll keep you warm.”
He tried. He kept his arm around me as we walked and I snuggled into him, wrapping my arms around his waist, under his jacket. He even snuck kisses onto my neck. It was all for naught. I was shivering violently about five minutes into our walk and we had to turn around and head back to the car.
“I can’t believe my kissing your neck didn’t even warm you up. I must be losing my touch.” He grinned and leaned over to do so again.
I shivered and pulled away from him. “Well, first of all, your nose is cold so that is not helping at all.
He chuckled as he started the car. “And second?”
“Shut up. There is no second. Just turn on the fucking heat.”
By the time we made it back to our hotel, all I could think of was taking a very long soak in a very hot tub. When the water started to turn cold, I got out, knowing there was something wrong. Edward knew I was soaking naked in an oversized tub — with bubbles — and he didn’t interrupt me with amorous intentions. This was a key indication that something was amiss.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Cocky and the Cougar, Chapter Twenty-Seven - The End of the Beginning

Chapter 27 ~ The End of the Beginning
"Are you all packed?" Edward's breath tickled my ear as he whispered into it, snuggling behind me on the bed. Our bed. The one we shared in our new, rented home.
"Pretty much," I said, gripping his hand in mine and wrapping it more tightly around my waist. "You know, apart from bathroom essentials I'll need in the morning."
He sighed as he settled in behind me. "So, Rose and Emmett, huh?" He was referring to the "Save the Date" notice we'd received in the mail that afternoon. They were headed for a June wedding.
I smiled and shut my eyes, waiting for sleep to take me. We had to wake at four in the morning to be at the airport in plenty of time to catch our plane, and I needed rest. I was never good at sleeping on airplanes and we had two long flights ahead of us.
"I can't believe she's being so traditional. A June wedding, for Christ's sake." I snorted while yawning, putting an interesting punctuation on the end of the sentence.
"I think it's nice," he said. "Maybe true love can make even the most nontraditional girl a bit old-fashioned."
I chuckled and looked back at him, over my shoulder. "Yeah. Don't get your hopes up, bub."
"What?" He chuckled, as well. "You've been married. Obviously you're not opposed to the idea."
"The idea of it, no."
"Oh, I see. It's just the notion of marrying me that you find distasteful?"
I turned over and looked up at his smirking face. "A—I haven't heard a proposal, yet. And B—Let's let the concept of co-habitating sink in fully before we start talking about rings, okay?" I turned back over on my side. "Besides, I haven't met your parents yet. I think I need to see what kind of genetic defects I might be dealing with here."
I felt the vibration of his chuckles. "You have a valid point there, actually."
I sighed and snuggled more deeply into his chest, basking in the feeling of us just being us—laughter included. "I wish I was meeting them on the way to Europe, though, instead of the way home. I'll probably be all tired and irritable from traveling."
"Tired and irritable? You'll fit right in." 
We both chuckled and lay quietly for a few minutes before his hand moved across my arm. 
"Are you okay?” he asked. “Comfortable, I mean?"
I knew what he meant. I had a hard time lying on my left side for long periods of time since the accident. The cast had been off and all the stitches removed for months, but I still got sore on occasion. 
"I'm fine, at least for now."
"Well ... Do you want to switch positions?" I heard a little something in his voice, which made me open my eyes and turn toward him.
"What do you mean?"
He bent to kiss my nose, lightly. "Well, I was thinking maybe you might like to lay on your back for a while." He moved his hands over my tummy and dropped his lips to my neck, letting me know his intention.
I giggled as his nibbles sparked goosebumps on my flesh. "Edward, we have to get some sleep."
"Well, I'm not tired yet," he said against my skin. He pushed my T-shirt up, giving his hands access to my breasts. He grinned down at me. "Wear me out a little."
Postcard from Barcelona
To Rosalie Hale (soon to be McCarty!)
Hola from Barcelona! Sorry, no chance to mail a card from Madrid. The museums there were wonderful, but I love Barcelona even more and am so happy we'll be here for an entire week! It just seems to be so very Spanish here. The food, the museums, the MEN! Holy cow, if I were single I'd be in hog heaven right now.
Speaking of which, Spain has an unnatural attachment to ham...
Spent the day on a topless beach north of Barcelona called Calella. E spent the day alternately gaping at the "scenery" and trying to cover me up from the prying eyes of others.
People here are wonderfully friendly. They are also quite publicly affectionate. In the extreme. E often seems a bit embarrassed by this, which is amusing, since he has no problem when it's US showing the affection. I mean, this from the man who was all-consumed with joining the "Mile High Club" on the way here. I don't fully understand his obsession with sex in tiny public bathrooms in the sky, but I'm thinking of setting up an appointment with a strict Freudian Analyst upon our return to the States.
We're going to Montserrat tomorrow. I wonder if a day at a monastery will instill some spirituality in the boy and break him of his incessantly carnal nature. Care to place a wager?
Love to Emmett (and you, of course),
Postcard from Rome
To Jasper Whitlock
Hello! I hope all is well.
The next time you speak to him, would you please tell your friend Edward that not everyone in Italy has ties to the Mafia and that not every Italian man is out to get into my pants? I would really appreciate it. As would everyone in Italy. I'm afraid we're just playing into the stereotype of the "Ugly American" right now.
Or at least E is. I am of course making friends wherever I go.
You must bring Alice to Italy, if only for the wine. I don't need to tell you how fun she is when she's drunk and even table wine here is better than most anything we get at home. Of course, she will also love the beautiful architecture and the art everywhere. Just don't bring E along, unless you want to be bombarded literally ALL DAY LONG with jokes about Baby Gap in the Roman Forum.
Postcard from Rome
To Alice Brandon
Okay, I just told J he needs to bring you to Italy. You can thank me later.
And really you MUST come here with him. I mean, I loved being here with you & Rose, but having someone male to snuggle with while looking at the ancient sites at night is just unreal. E has been so sweet I can hardly stand it (though he keeps trying to speak with a god-awful Italian accent. I don't have the heart to tell him this is not a turn-on for me). We're off to Venice tomorrow, then to Florence. I can hardly wait!
Love you.
Postcard from Venice
To Alice Brandon
OMG. Whoever told you that Venice is just a stinky sewer, populated with pigeons, does not have a romantic bone in their body. I mean, yes, there are plenty of pigeons and the canals do tend to take on a certain ... stench at the hottest part of the day. But these things can be overlooked when you're sitting in a gondola, being serenaded by a gorgeous Italian Baritone voice and kissing the man you love as you drift under ancient bridges.
Additionally, I have never seen such beautiful architecture.
Hope you are keeping Jasper on his toes. Love you!
Postcard from Florence
To Rosalie Hale
Hello my beautiful friend!
Florence is just as stunning and wonderful as I remembered it to be. So happy we’re going to stay here for an entire week this time. Last night, we walked through an older and more residential part of town—an area you, Alice & I did not visit. It was so awesome to just hang with the locals. We saw an old building, built for one of the Medici's mistresses. The food was way better on that side of town too, which is really saying something, as you can imagine. I think I've gained 5 pounds since we arrived in Italy. E says it's OK though cuz it makes my boobs look bigger. Sheesh ... men.
We took a pasta-making class a couple of days ago so now E is insistent that we'll never eat store-bought pasta again. We'll see how long that lasts, but I do think I'll have all of you over for a home-cooked pasta meal when we return.
I hope you and Alice are moving forward with the planning of the wedding. Sorry I can't help yet, but I will do everything I can when I get home. That is, so long as you don't make me wear some god-awful orange taffeta dress during the ceremony.
"You are really going to have to get a grip on your jealousy issues, Edward."
He dropped his jacket on the back of the Louis XVI-style chair in the sitting room of our luxurious hotel suite. With its rich fabrics in shades of beige, ivory, gold and rose, the room was an elegant mix of the contemporary with period furniture and fixtures. The Hotel Le Meurice was by far the most extravagant of the places we'd stayed on our trip and a fitting place to spend our last week before heading home.
"That man was totally flirting with you, Bella."
I sighed heavily. "That man was sixty years old, at least!"
"So? He looked good for his age."
I walked over to him and grabbed his white, button-down shirt in my fists. "Even if he was flirting with me — even if any of the thousand or so men you have accused of flirting with me over the past six months have been flirting with me — isn't my behavior what really matters? You think I’m going to drop everything and leave you because some attractive old man with a French accent flirts with me?" I stepped on my tiptoes to kiss him softly and then dropped my hands and walked toward the large doors that led to a balcony. "Besides, Edward, if I got jealous every time some floozy flirted with you, I'd spend the rest of my life angry."
I opened the large doors and my breath immediately caught in my throat. "Oh my God," I whispered.
Edward walked approached me from behind and wrapped his arms around my waist. "Beautiful, isn't it? I knew you'd love it."
That was an understatement. Seemingly, the entire city of Paris lay at our feet. Below us the Tuileries Garden was spread out like a wondrous fairytale land where fairies and sprites surely flitted from tree-to-tree at twilight. Farther up on the horizon, the rooftops of centuries-old buildings glinted in the afternoon sun. We could see so many of the famous sights of Paris: the Louvre at one end of the garden and the Arc de Triomphe, the Obelisk of Luxor. In the distance, we could glimpse the Eiffel Tower.
"Can we stay here forever?" I asked. "You can go to school in Paris, right?"
"Sure. Of course, I might have to improve my French-speaking skills."
"Yes, your French is almost as bad as your Italian." I grinned.
"You've never complained about my French skills before." He squeezed me tightly and kissed my cheek as I giggled. "Luckily, I had you to save my ass in Italy. I don't know what we'll do here."
I sighed, dramatically. "We'll just have to wander the streets of Paris, lost and alone ... You know, together." I ran my hand along the smooth skin of his arm as he continued to brush soft kisses along my cheek. We were swaying together, as if listening to music only we could hear.
"I can think of worse things," he whispered huskily in my ear.
"Hey, if it was good enough for Hemingway..."
"Yes, and he didn't have the luxury of staying at Le Meurice."
We swayed together for several moments, almost dancing in the sunlight of the clear, cool afternoon. 
"I can't wait to see this at night," I said, taking his hand in mine and gripping him tightly to me. "Can we have dinner out here?"
"We can do whatever you desire, Isabella. Your wish is my command." 
His lips whispered across my neck. One advantage of my new, short hair cut was the easy access he had to my neck. I shivered in his embrace. 
"I can't wait to see you out here at night,” he said. “The only thing that could rival the beauty of this view is your face in the light of dusk."
I smiled and turned in his arms, wrapping mine around his neck. "Such flowery words, Teddy. I think the romance of Paris is already rubbing off on you."
He chuckled and buried his face in my neck. "I'd like to rub something off on you."
I threw my head back in laughter. "Aaaand, he's back!"
~~THE END - N.F.E.~~