Chapter 8 ~ The Waiting
"Edward?" I knocked on the door softly and called his name so quietly I was afraid he didn't hear me. He had been holed up in the bathroom for at least ten minutes and the only sound I could hear from my seat in the sun room was the repeated flushing of the toilet.
"Edward?" I said again, a bit louder.
I heard a groan in response and so was fairly confident that he was at least still alive in there.
"Can I get you something? Water? Some Ginger Ale?"
"Do you have any bicarbonate?"
"There's some Alka Seltzer in the medicine cabinet in there. I'll go get you some water." I rushed to the kitchen, my feet skidding on the hardwood floor as I rounded the corner. I returned, moments later, with two glasses of water—a small one, for the Alka Seltzer, and a bigger one, with ice. I knocked again on the door, softly.
When he opened the door, my jaw dropped a little at the sight before me. In essence, he looked like shit. Well, as much like shit as Edward could probably ever look. His skin was pale and looked pasty and damp and his hair was an even bigger mess than usual. He had dark circles under his eyes.
"Jesus, Edward." I put a hand to his forehead while he dropped tablets into the small glass of water and I heard the familiar plop-plop-fizz-fizz sound of the Alka Seltzer. "Hon, you've got a fever."
I turned toward the linen closet in the hall.
"What the hell did you feed me?" he asked. He leaned against the sink, both hands splayed flat on the counter. He looked down, watching his fizzing glass and waiting for the tablets to dissolve.
I brought a wash cloth back into the bathroom and ran cold water over it. "Hey, you're the one who had to have all that disgusting meat on his pizza."
He drank the medicine down and looked at me, a sad smile on his face. "You know, this was not at all how I imagined our date ending."
"Well, it's not over." I smiled sympathetically and grasped his arm. I led him to my bedroom, but his hand caught on the door jam, stopping us.
"Um ... Bella, as much as I adore you, I am really not in the mood."
"Ha-ha.” I rolled my eyes and pushed him farther into the room. “Can you take off your shirt or do you need me to help you?"
His hand went up to his shirt and he looked confused. "Huh? Bella..."
"Sweetie, you are really sick. You're staying in here tonight."
“No, that's okay.” He shook his head. "I'll just go home and call you tomorrow." He started to move toward the door, but he wasn't even walking in a straight line.
"Yeah," I said, grabbing his arm and gently turning him around. "I don't think so, bud. You can stay here."
He simply looked at me, his gaze seemingly not fully focused.
"The sheets are clean, I promise. And they're very soft."
He smiled and sat down on the bed. I put my hands on his shirt, gripping the bottom hem and intending to remove it, but his hands caught mine.
"Bella ... I don't want you to see me all sick."
I smiled. Damn, he was cute when he was pathetic. "It's too late, Edward. I already have. And now that I've gotten you sick, I can't exactly let you get out on the road. Not in good conscience anyway."
He smiled again and let my hands go, raising his arms. I pulled the shirt over them and caught my breath at the vision before me.
Edward Masen was, in a word, beautiful. He wasn't huge in a "I-spend-all-of-my-time-at-the-gym" kind of way, but he was lean and long and his muscles were well-defined. I allowed my fingers to trail briefly over his chiseled stomach while I lifted his shirt. The 'V' leading down to the mysteries below his jeans was so beautiful that it took all my willpower not to bend down and nibble at the flesh there.
I heard him chuckling, bringing me out of yet another Edward-induced haze. I looked up and caught his eye.
"Huh," he said. Apparently, he felt well enough to smirk at me. "Even after puking my guts up, I'm still an extraordinary piece of man-meant, ain't I?"
I rolled my eyes, but I had to grin. "Well, it's nice to see that your illness hasn't dampened your sense of humor."
"Humor? Who's joking?"
I turned to drape his shirt over the back of the rocking chair in the corner and heard his panicked, "Um—Bella?"
I swung around and pointed out the master bathroom and he zoomed past me.
He was in there for a while, but by the time I brought his glass of water and the wet wash cloth into the room and set them on the bedside table, he was back and sprawled across the bed. His jeans had been pulled dangerously low on his hips and I wondered vaguely just how wrong it would be to molest a sick man while he slept. I settled for wiping his face with the washcloth and had to smile when I heard his little half-asleep murmurs of appreciation.
I slept for intervals of a couple hours in the guest bedroom (otherwise known as my gym), getting up several times to check on Edward. It was apparent that he had been up a few times, but at least he was sleeping in between having to do so. His glass of water disappeared sometime during the night, which I thought was a good sign, and I refilled it.
I showered in the guest bathroom that morning, groggy and not exactly looking my best since I hadn't slept well. I puttered around the house in sweats and a T-shirt, my hair still wet. I precariously retrieved the Sunday paper from the rose bush where my delivery person always managed to throw it and started a pot of coffee. I took a fresh glass of water in to Edward and found him awake and sitting up. His jeans had been discarded at some point and they lay on the floor next to the bed.
He smiled when I walked into the room and he appeared to be twelve years old. He looked so sweet and vulnerable that I almost felt a bit pervy for the thoughts I had begun to think when I saw his jeans on the floor and realized there was not much more than a thin cotton sheet between me and a slice of heaven.
"Good morning," I said as I walked in. "Feeling better?" I put his new glass of water on the nightstand and he reached over to grasp my hand in his.
"I am now," he said as he smiled up at me.
I sat on the edge of the bed and put my other hand on his head, feeling to see if he still had a fever. I was pleased that it was cool to the touch. "Can I get you anything?"
He grabbed the hand I'd had on his forehead and held both of mine between his. "Coffee?" he asked.
I shook my head and pulled my hands from his. "Coffee is not what you need. It will just dehydrate you more than you already are."
"You know," he said. "You have a tendency to be annoyingly health-conscious."
I smiled. "I just don't want you to sue me for making you sick."
"I really need coffee, Bella. I can't be my usual, charming self without it."
"Tell you what.” I sighed. “Drink this entire glass of water and I will bring you half a cup of coffee. And if you're a very good boy, I'll even let you take a shower."
He took the glass from the bedside table and looked me in the eye as he drank the entire glass down. His eyes were cloudy and he was still more pale than usual. His hair stuck up in about eighty-seven different directions and he appeared to have a thin layer of sweat covering his entire person. And he was still the sexiest motherfucker I'd ever seen in my life.
He handed me the empty glass and his hand went to his hair. "Fuck, that gave me a headache. I thought water was supposed to be good for you."
"Yes, well, you didn't have to drink it like you just returned from hiking the Sahara." I peered at his face. "When was the last time you threw up?"
He groaned. "Isn't it bad enough I just spent the night puking in front of you? Now I have to talk about it, too?"
I chuckled. "Well, if it makes you feel better, I never actually saw you throw up. And I just wanted to make sure that water wasn't gonna come flying back out at me."
"Well, it's been a few hours. I think. Why don't I jump in that shower you teased me with and have my coffee afterward?" He winked at me. "We can have coffee in bed together."
"Hmm ... Well, at least I'll get the nice morning after, even if our date was a bust."
I started to get up off the bed and he grabbed my arm.
"Hey," he said. "I'm sorry I got sick."
I sat back down and ran a hand through his messy hair. "I think I'm the one who should apologize for that."
"Why?" The grin was back. "Did you do it on purpose?"
"Of course not. But I bought the pizza."
His fingers started to make patterns on my thigh as I looked at his beautiful face.
"Edward," I said, almost whispering. "Our date wasn't really a bust."
“No?" He smiled.
"Not at all."
If eyes could fuck, I would have been smoking one of his cigarettes thirty-seconds later.
I cleared my throat and stood. "If you don't want to wear your clothes from last night, I think I have some old sweats in here."
I strode over to my dresser and bent to open the bottom drawer. I heard Edward getting up from the bed and I paused. I was actually afraid to turn around—afraid to see him standing there in his underwear. Worse, what if he went commando?
I pulled what I wanted from the drawer and took a deep breath, steeling myself before I turned around. He stood by the bed. He'd pulled the top sheet off of it and wrapped it around him. I wasn't sure whether to thank God for that or to curse him.
"Bella, I doubt I can fit into a pair of your sweats." He had a deliciously devilish smirk on his face and his eyes raked over my body like it was the last fruit tart on the buffet table.
I rolled my eyes. "Well, I would certainly hope not. These aren't my sweats, silly." I handed them over and he raised his eyebrows. "If you must know, they were my ex-husband's."
He grimaced and held the sweats away from his body as if they might have a communicable disease as I laughed.
"Well, sorry, but it's that, your clothes from last night or my Springsteen T-shirt."
He walked toward the bathroom, sweats in hand, but he turned before making it to the door. "Why do you still have your ex's sweats?"
"Honestly, I have no idea.” I shrugged. “Maybe I was saving them for a bonfire in the backyard when my divorce comes through."
"Uh-huh." He went into the bathroom and closed the door.
Fifteen minutes later, I heard the water in the bathroom shut off and, as promised, I poured him half a cup of coffee. When I returned to the bedroom, he was just opening the bathroom door. He stepped out, bare-chested, in the sweats. They were several inches too long and hung on him. If not for the drawstring at the top, they wouldn't be around his hips at all.
"Bella, were you married to the Incredible Hulk?"
"What can I say?” I smiled. “He's a big guy."
He leaned against the door jam and crossed his arms over his bare chest. "Oh yeah? How big is big?"
I looked up at him after I'd set his coffee cup down, ignoring his question even though I knew exactly what he meant. "Two sugars, right?"
He nodded his head and asked again, "How big is big?"
"Well...” I chuckled. “Let me just say that it's not all about size, if you get my drift."
He chuckled, as well. "I think I understand your meaning.”
"Relax.” I turned to leave the room. “I'm gonna go get the paper."
I turned back toward him.
"Um ... Can I use your toothbrush?"
I hesitated. I hated people to use my toothbrush under normal circumstances. "Uh ... Hold on." I went to the linen closet in the hall and returned moments later with a brand new toothbrush.
"Here," I said. "Sorry, but I don't really want your puke cooties on my toothbrush."
He chuckled and turned toward the bathroom.
As I intended, I walked to the kitchen to retrieve the newspaper. I also grabbed two glasses of orange juice, in case Edward wanted some, before I went back into the bedroom. I sat on the bed, my back against two pillows that were pressed up against the wrought iron headboard, and waited.
When I heard the bathroom door open, I looked up. I barely had time to smile at him before he was over to the bed and had my face in his hands, leaning down to kiss my lips. The kiss was soft and sweet, his tongue darting out only slightly, to graze my lower lip. As he started to pull away, I sighed softly and he apparently took that as a sign that I wanted more because his lips came back to mine, prying them open. He lifted his knee to the bed, between mine. If he kept it up, I was going to tear the sweats off his body.
I put my hands on his bare chest and while I really wanted to run my fingers over the contours there and down the happy trail leading farther south, I instead pushed him slightly so that he would pull away. He did, but he kept his knee in place and his hands at my face as he smiled down at me. I sighed again, totally lost in his beautiful eyes. I felt moisture in my eyes and a blush on my cheeks. I knew that what I felt was written all over my face.
"I'm hard to resist aren't I?" He chuckled.
My smile faded. "You know? You do tend to reel me in. But then you inevitably open your mouth and manage to ruin the entire moment."
He just chuckled again and climbed over me to lay down on the bed. He grabbed his juice off the table and took a sip.
"Do you think you're up for eating anything?" I asked.
He lay on his back and patted his stomach. "You know, let's wait and see how it goes."
"Okay, well let me know if you need anything." I smiled softly and put on my reading glasses. As I opened the front page of the paper, Edward rolled onto his side, facing me.
"Can I ask you a question?"
I looked at him over my glasses.
"Huh." He grinned. "You look awfully sexy in those glasses."
I grinned, as well. "Is that a question?"
"No. Here's my question. I thought you were divorced. A divorcee’."
I put the paper down on my lap and removed my glasses so I could look at him more fully. "Jake and I have been separated for over three years. We just didn't file for divorce until after his girlfriend got pregnant." I chuckled a little saying this, as I did every time I envisioned Jacob Black changing diapers.
"Really?” He raised his eyebrows. “Are they gonna get married?"
"I think that's the plan, yes.” I shrugged. “Anyway, my divorce will be final in a couple of months."
He kept looking at me, a strange expression on his face. I couldn’t even guess what was on his mind.
"Does it bother you that I'm not officially divorced?"
"No. I mean, I've never dated a woman who's been married before, let alone divorced, but I guess it doesn't matter much. I'm just wondering if it bothers you that he's getting remarried."
I almost laughed. "No."
"It doesn't bother you that he's having a kid with someone else?"
I did laugh, then, albeit softly. "No."
He watched me for a moment and I put my glasses back on, intending to get back to my paper. Before I could do so, he shocked me with another question.
"Do you want to have kids someday?"
I looked pointedly at him, over the rim of my glasses. "No."
He raised his eyebrows. "Wow. You're pretty resolved in that declaration."
I placed my glasses on the bedside table and dropped the paper to the floor. I scooted down on the bed so that I lay next to him and rolled over so we faced each other.
"Okay, here's the thing, Edward. I came home from work one day after only a few hours, because I was sick. I found Jacob having sex in my bed with a grad student he had been advising."
His face became impossibly more animated than usual. I didn't know if he was laughing or grimacing, but the look was extremely comical.
"At the time, I was pissed. I was very pissed. I felt duped. I felt like I was lied to and I felt stupid. And I don't like feeling stupid."
"I can imagine," he said.
"You know, I was betrayed in many ways ... But as the months passed, I kind of came to realize that I had been stupid. I was stupid to think that was never going to happen. Because that was just ... Jake."
"He fucked around?"
I shook my head against the pillow. "Not exactly. Well, not that I know of. But he thrived on the attention he got from his students. And he always got a lot, because he's really good at what he does. And, you know, he's this big, handsome Native American guy and he's got charisma up the wazoo. His students adore him and he adores them for it. He needs the constant ego massage, you know?"
"Sounds like a great guy." Edward grimaced.
"Well, obviously that's not all he is.” I smiled. “I'm not gonna lay here and spell out all of his great qualities, but he's got many of them. My point is just that, after I had time to kick him and his little girlfriend out of my house and cool myself down a bit, I wasn't even surprised by any of it. And that just made me take a long look at myself—at who I am and what I was doing with my life, you know? What I really want. Honestly, I'm doing really well now and much of that is due in large part to what I learned from the whole experience."
I paused, not knowing if it was even the right time for full disclosure. But he'd asked the question and I couldn't exactly lie.
"Edward ... Okay, I didn't really think we'd get into this after only knowing each other for a week, but ... Not that I would want them anyway, but I actually can't have children."
He lifted his head from the pillow a bit. "What?"
I sighed. I really didn't even want him to know. I didn't want to admit to being defective and I especially didn't want him to lose interest in me because of it.
"I was involved in a really bad car accident when I was fourteen. Anyway, the end result was, I had to have a hysterectomy. I still have my ovaries and all of my hormones, unfortunately, but I have no uterus."
He sat up and I followed him. My eyes searched his face, trying to figure out what might be going through his mind, but he only looked at his hands, which lay in his lap. I couldn't even see his eyes, so I had no idea what he was thinking or if they'd even give me a clue.
It felt like hours before he spoke, although it was mere minutes. My hands were clammy by that point and I wiped them on the sheet below me. He looked over at me.
"I'm really sorry that happened to you, Bella."
I shrugged, trying to seem casual about the whole thing. "It honestly doesn't feel like I'm missing out on anything, except a monthly period, which I don't think is any loss at all. Unfortunately, I still get PMS, so be warned."
I smiled, but Edward didn't return it and my stomach clenched. I waited for the inevitable.
I'd heard it before. Guys have always liked me, sure. Even before Jacob came into my life, I dated a lot. I'd date guys for a while and when I was young, they didn't immediately care that I couldn't have kids. They were too young themselves to be planning that far ahead anyway. Eventually, though, it would happen. They'd graduate from college or for some other reason they'd start thinking about their future. And in their future, they saw the wife, the white picket fence, the dog in the yard. And they saw the kids. The kids they could never have with me.
Jacob was different. He didn't care. More than that, he seemed to think our finding each other was a blessing, since he never wanted children anyway and almost every woman he had ever been with had tried to nag him into changing his mind. And I loved him for that—for thinking about something I saw as a defect as something beautiful and meant to be.
Edward remained quiet. The stillness in the room was claustrophobic until, finally, I sighed.
"It's okay, Edward."
He looked up at hearing my words and I ran my hand through his crazy hair.
"I understand. Really. It's good that we talked about this now, before we got too involved."
I started to move away, intending to get up from the bed, but his hand caught mine.
"Wait. What?" His brows drew together as he spoke.
I simply looked at him. I couldn't speak the words for him. My heart was already in my throat and I felt I might start to cry. I couldn't believe I was already so torn up over the prospect of not seeing him again. We had only known each other for a week, after all.
I took a deep breath. "You don't have to feel bad, Edward. It's okay to want different things than I can offer."
Tears welled in my eyes and I had to get out of there. I felt stupid and there was no way I was going to let him see me cry. I turned my face and again started to get up from the bed, but he grabbed my arm, this time more firmly.
"Wait," he said again. "What?"
"Edward, stop." I felt a single tear run down my cheek as I looked down at the bed. "Just—stop."
I looked him in the eye then, anger now fueling me more than my tears. "Stop making me say what you want to say. Just man up already so we can end this."
He looked astonished and his hands dropped to his lap. "End this?" Breath escaped his lungs in a loud, heavy huff. "You think I want to end this? Because you can't have kids?"
I didn't speak. I knew if I did I'd either start crying again or I'd yell and I wanted to do neither. I just watched his face contort as he grappled with his own emotions.
"Bella," he said after a few moments. "What kind of man do you think I am, anyway?"
I didn't answer. Instead, I continued to watch him, trying to read the varying emotions as they rode waves though his eyes. His forehead was in wrinkles and again he softly gripped my forearm in his hand.
"You really think I'd stop seeing you just because you're not ... perfect?"
I tried to chuckle. I tried to seem lighthearted about the whole conversation. I'm not sure it worked.
"Well, I think we both knew before this morning that I'm not perfect."
He continued to look at me, his brows drawn together. "Don't make assumptions about me—about what I think about this."
I pulled my arm from his hand. "Well Edward, it's just—I've been down this road before. I don't want you to feel bad about ... whatever it is you're feeling about this. But I also don't really want to sit here with my insides spread out on display like some sideshow freak while you try to find a nice way to make an exit."
He yelled the word at me and I flinched. When he spoke again, he spoke more calmly.
"Bella. What the fuck is this? Seriously, do you think so little of me?"
I swallowed, hard. "I just..." I didn't know how to end the sentence.
He sighed. "I feel bad because you went through what must have been a horrific accident and the repercussions ... I mean, to have gone through that at such a young age? I feel horrible for you. And I just don't even know what to say. I mean I'm sorry? That's just so lame and ... empty."
I felt the tears again and I put my hand to his face again. He gripped it in his own and pulled it away, but he didn't let it go. He held it in his while he spoke, squeezing it.
"As far as you and me go, Bella ... I mean—I don't know. I just found out about this. Give me more than three-seconds to figure out how I feel about it. And what we're doing is all so new anyway. But if we continue this—whatever we end up doing here ... I mean, Bella, I would never think any less of you. People have issues, things they have to adjust to and work around. You're no different from anyone else in that regard."
I sat still for a moment, staring into his eyes. He looked so earnest, so torn apart. And I knew it wasn't what I'd told him that tore him up. It was my reaction to what I'd told him—my assumption about what his reaction might be.
I pulled my hands from his and held them in my lap for a while. I was more than embarrassed. Were I in his sweats, I'd most definitely walk out the door, after my foolish presumptions. When it didn't seem like he was going to do so, I looked back up to his face. I wrapped both of my arms around his shoulders, turning my body toward his and pulling him to me. He was stiff in my arms at first, but after a moment, he relaxed and buried his head in my hair, his arms wrapping around my waist.
"I'm sorry, Edward," I whispered. "I just ... I assumed..." Tears fell freely from my eyes and I couldn't continue.
I felt his hands running along my back, pulling me to him. He nuzzled into my neck and I just held onto him for dear life.
"Please don't cry, Bella." I barely heard his words.
"I'm sorry, Edward."
He pulled his face back to look at mine and I wiped tears from my eyes.
"You know," he said. “You've been saying that a lot, lately."
I tried to smile. "I just ... I guess I assumed you would react like most everybody else has reacted after hearing that."
"I'm not like most everybody else, you know." He chuckled.
I did smile, then. "Well, I'm beginning to figure that out, yes."
"Anyway, Jacob must not have reacted badly."
"Yes, well Jacob never wanted children anyway."
He pulled away slightly. "Wait. What?"
"Yes, I know.” I chuckled. “One of God's little jests."
We sat silent for a moment, while I collected myself and Edward continued to watch me. As I took a deep, calming breath, he took my hand in his.
"Bella," he said. "I need you to do something for me."
When I simply looked into his eyes, he continued.
"I need you to just ... Please don't make assumptions about me or what you think I might do or how I might react. To anything. I mean, really—as you said, we haven't known each other very long. Although, it's been nine days, not a week."
I smiled at him, even though I felt like an idiot, and he smiled back at me, making me feel immeasurably better.
"Please don't think you know how I might react to something before you even give me a chance."
"I know," I said. "You're right, of course." My hands fell to the sheet below me and I began to pick at some invisible something there. "It's just ... I mean, aren't you too good to be true?"
He grinned at me in that cocky way of his and I put a hand up to stop whatever he was about to say.
"Please don't answer that," I said and he laughed.
After another few moments, when I felt like myself again, it became obvious from the look on his face that he had more questions for me.
"Something else?" I asked. "And please, be gentle. I'm not sure how much more of this I can take."
His chuckle seemed almost shy. "I was just wondering ... Do you have scars or anything? I mean, it seems like that was a big deal, right?"
"I have some, yes.” My cheeks felt hot and I looked back down at the bed. “Some scars. On my lower back and my stomach. There was ... A lot of steel went through my lower torso, I guess. I mean, I don't remember anything. I just woke up in the hospital and it was all—done already."
He dipped his head and looked up from under his lashes. "Can I see them?"
I paused for several moments, watching his eyes. No one had ever asked to see my scars before. Certainly, when people saw me naked, they sometimes asked about them. I would say I was in a car accident and that was usually the end of it. Some people never even asked. Never had anyone wanted to investigate my scars so directly and never had it felt so intimate to show them. But then, I had never sat on a bed with Edward Masen before.
Finally, I turned my back to him and lifted my shirt with one hand, while lowering my sweats with the other so he could see the thin but jagged scar that ran from my tailbone to my right hip. I then turned and lay on my back, lowering my sweats more so he could see the smattering of small scars that dotted my pubic bone. He put his hand on my stomach, then trailed his fingers lightly across the scars. My flesh tingled at the intimate contact.
"Well, that's hardly anything," he said, smiling softly.
My eyes watched his, as he looked down at my stomach.
"No. They've faded over the years. Sometimes I even forget they're there, now. I have a bigger one, here." I pulled the left side of my sweats down a bit more, while still trying to keep the more intimate parts of myself covered. I uncovered a circular scar, about an inch in diameter, below my left pubic bone. "Something went in there and came out my back, on the right side."
His fingers traced the outline of the scar before moving up my stomach, almost in a caress. He then lifted his hand, putting it to my face, and trailed his thumb over my cheekbone before his fingers ran through my hair.
"You are so lovely, Bella. The more I know about you, the more lovely I find you to be."
"Jesus, Edward." I almost started crying again.
My hand went again to his face as I looked up into his beautiful eyes. They were clear and filled with kindness and affection. When I was able to speak again, my voice was barely above a whisper.
"I'm almost afraid to believe how beautiful you are."
He smiled and bent to kiss my cheek, my jaw, the sensitive patch of flesh behind my ear. He whispered my name and I moaned softly, almost losing myself entirely. When he brought his lips to mine, my arms went around his neck, grasping him to me. I was still afraid—afraid he couldn't possibly be real, afraid to let him go. My hands wandered over his arms, his chest, his back. I wanted every contour of his body imprinted on my mind and in my sense memory. I wanted to remember the feeling of his every touch, the silkiness of his hair. My tongue ran for the second time along his strong jawbone, tasting the salt of his skin, and I nipped at his ear. I inhaled the scent of him, the essence of him. I wanted to be able to bring everything about him to mind when he wasn't near.
The warmth of his hand ran along my lower stomach and I knew I should stop him. I knew it was too soon and that we shouldn't move so quickly. But his hand, his mouth, his tongue simply seemed to be the physical manifestation of the intimacy we'd already shared that morning. As he moved his hand up under my T-shirt, though, I heard a distinctive growl that made me turn my face away and giggle.
"Um ... I think somebody is hungry." I said.
He laughed softly and planted his face in the pillow beside me. "I guess that's a good sign, all things considered, huh?"
"I'd say so.” I nodded. “Can I make you some breakfast?
He raised his head again and gazed down at me, his fingers still making hot trails along my tummy, his eyes still blazing hot trails down to my core. "Is that what you want to do?"
I paused before I answered, not knowing what that answer might be. Finally, I sighed. "I think that's what I should do, yes."
He kissed me once more, softly on my lips, before rising and allowing me to do the same.
As I left the room, he came up from behind me and wrapped his arms around me. He pressed up against me, walking with me, and continued to do so until we reached the kitchen. His lips occasionally buried themselves in my hair and I heard him inhale deeply when they did.
He sat at the island in the center of my kitchen while I prepared to make breakfast.
"Would you like an omelet?"
"Sounds good." He nodded. "What are you gonna put in it?"
I surveyed the contents of my refrigerator. "Well, I've got cheese, tomatoes, green onions. I've got some mushrooms if you'd like. Ooh, and I've got some killer salsa from this Mexican place around here, if you can handle it. It'll knock your socks off."
"Salsa? You put salsa on your eggs?"
I turned around and looked at him like the insane person he appeared to be after that question.
"Of course! You don't?"
He shook his head. "Uh—that would be a no."
"Dude, you gotta break out of that Chicago mindset. Live a little. Have some salsa on your eggs. Have tortillas instead of toast. You're in California now."
"So I gathered when I was just addressed as dude."
I got to work on our omelets and while I didn't put any on his eggs directly, I made Edward try some salsa. He had to admit it was quite yummy and, though I voiced my concern over the fragile state of his stomach, he ended up eating more of it than I did. He still thought it was silly to eat tortillas, but he did so.
"So I guess we still need to watch the movie from last night," he said as we sat across from one another at the center island.
"Well, we have time. We can watch it whenever you'd like."
He grinned and wiped his face with a napkin. "I don't know, actually. It may have some negative connotations for me now."
I started to laugh; not really at what he’d said, certainly not at his getting sick, but at the ridiculousness of the entire situation. After a moment, Edward started laughing as well.
"Are you laughing at my gastric distress?"
"Well, you gotta admit, the last twelve hours or so have just been fraught with ... I don't even know what."
We continued laughing for a bit.
"Yeah,” he admitted. “Throwing up is such a turn on, right? What in the world did you think when I had to run off to the bathroom like that?"
"Well, honestly, I wasn't sure if you were sick or ... Well, really enjoying yourself." I held a napkin to my face, as if I could physically hold back my giggles.
"Wait.” He lowered his fork and gaped at me. “You thought I–?"
I started to giggle again. "Well, I wasn't sure what had happened to you."
Edward exploded in laughter. "Jeez, Bella. You don't think much of yourself, do you?"
"What? You don't think these ta-tas have driven men to premature extremes before?"
He laughed again, loudly and I feigned offense.
"Well, thanks, Edward. Nice to know you think so highly of me."
"Well, Bella.” His laughter died down. “You yourself mentioned the benefits of dating a guy my age." He winked at me and grinned lasciviously. "One of them is that I don't generally come in my pants. No matter how hot the woman I'm making out with."
I put a fork full of eggs in my mouth and decided not to respond. Instead, I watched as he continued to grin at me. My teeth held on to the fork for a while, until I couldn't help but break out into a grin of my own.
"So Bella," he said, as we went back to our breakfasts. "Are you still upset about Friday?"
"What, Victoria or losing the game?"
I shrugged and swallowed my last bite of eggs. "Well ... upset isn't really the word. I was just really hoping to avoid the whole thing. I mean, it would be nice to see if we're headed for something between us before we become fodder for the gossip mill. And I'm not exactly looking forward to seeing Carlisle bright and early tomorrow. He'll either be very disapproving or he's going to tease me, mercilessly. I'm not at all sure which would be worse."
"You really think she'll tell Carlisle?"
"Uh, yeah. In fact, I'm fairly certain she already has."
"But why? I mean, what does she have to gain by narcing us out to Daddy Carlisle? It's not like she hasn't had her share of office dalliances, I'm sure. Why does she even care?"
"I really don't know.” I shrugged. “She's just ... like that. First of all, you spurned her advances, which is not going to sit well with her. You should ask Carlisle about his experiences in that area. Second, she just likes to get people in trouble or at least put them on the spot. The stories I could tell you about her would make your jaw drop and your head spin. I don't think she'd ever actually go so far as to make stuff up about people, but if she knows she has you by the balls, she will twist and squeeze until they pop right off."
"Well, that's a lovely image." Edward laughed and dropped his fork on his plate.
"I wish I were joking."
"You have such a lovely way with words. So refined. So eloquent."
"I have an even better way with my foot, which will be kicking your ass out of my house if you continue along this path," I said. I was smiling, though.
"Hey," I said, sitting up straighter, rather abruptly. "It just occurred to me—you haven't had a cigarette in a very long time."
He ran a hand through his hair, once he figured out I wasn't panicking for any good reason. "Yeah, well. It's hard to smoke while throwing up."
I grinned and settled back into my chair again. "Well, you haven't thrown up in a while. And you weren't smoking before the puking, either."
"First off, I really don't smoke that much. And second, I was basically smoking nonstop all the way from my house until I hit your curb." He chuckled.
"But aren't you like, going nuts from nicotine withdrawals or something?"
"Well, I am now that you mention it, thank you very much."
"Sorry," I giggled. "But you could always have a smoke out back, if you'd like. Or even better, you could use this as your opportunity to quit."
He shook his head. "Sorry, Bella. I'm not quitting."
"Because I enjoy it. And I look damn good doing it, too."
He grinned and I rolled my eyes at him for probably the hundredth time in the last eighteen hours.
"Oh, yeah. Yellow teeth and smoker's breath are always enticing."
Edward raised an eyebrow me. "I didn't hear you complaining about my smoker's breath last night."
I ignored his ridiculously cocky comment and instead said, "Do you think you'll enjoy the wonder that is Emphysema when it hits you? Or that sexy heart attack you may well have before you're fifty?"
"You know, you may well have a heart attack before you're fifty."
I just looked at him knowingly for a moment until he started laughing. "Okay, maybe you won't."
I shrugged. "Not if I can do anything about it, I won't."
"You know, George Burns smoked stogies constantly for decades and he lived to be, like, ninety."
"I love how smokers always hold George Burns up as their icon. The one smoker who lived to an old age without depending on an iron lung. You want to risk those kind of odds, Edward, go ahead.'
"Thank you, I think I will." He settled back into his seat.
"It's just that I kind of like having you around now that you're here. I'd hate to be at your funeral, relating the funny but tragic tale of how you misunderstood the song Sexy Motherfucker."
"Well, knowing you, you'll probably still be a sexy motherfucker," he said with a wink.
"Yep. And I'll be making passes at all of your friends who were always jealous that you found me first."
He grinned over at me, his face framed by his crazy hair, which was standing up in all directions. I wanted to eat him up, he was so adorable.
"I'm beginning to think you're looking forward to this," he said.
"You know?" I reached for my glasses and picked up the paper. "I kind of am."
He dropped his fork again and rushed to my side of the island, grabbing me by the waist with both of his hands wrapped around me. He buried his face against my neck, his little nips and his tongue making me giggle and shiver and squirm against him. His fingers started digging into my sides and he tickled my ribs until I was laughing loudly and about to fall off my stool.
"Okay, okay," I yelped loudly. "Uncle! I give up!"
He stopped tickling, but kissed me again on the neck before he brought his face up to look into mine. He left his hands wrapped around my waist.
"Admit you'd be sad if I died?"
I laughed at the insanity of the question. "Okay, yes. I admit that I would be sad if you died."
“Ah, that's so nice.” He grinned. “You know, you're really sweet when you knock that chip off your shoulder."
I sighed. "And you're kind of adorable when you're not acting like a pompous jackass," I replied.