Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Cocky and the Cougar, Chapter Fourteen - The San Francisco Treat

Chapter 14 ~ The San Francisco Treat
"So what's been happening with that James guy? Did he take his lumps like a big boy?"
I stood at the edge of my bed, my open overnight bag on top of the mattress in front of me, speaking to Rose on the phone. We were discussing the results of the Human Resources investigation, which had been communicated to those of us involved on Thursday afternoon. The real reason I had called her, though, was to ask if she thought I should wear the blue corset that night, since that was Edward's favorite color on me, or the red one; because that was, well, red.
I sat down on my bed, my legs crossed in front of me and my knee poking out from underneath my robe. My hair was piled high on my head and wrapped in a towel. "It's so weird, Rose. I haven't seen him at all. I don't even want to ask anyone about him, just ‘cause ... you know, I don't even want to go there. I know he was there on Monday to talk to HR, but I don't know if he took the rest of the week off, or what. It's weird for me to just—not see him at all." I shrugged. "Of course, who knows? Maybe without his making up reasons to see me all the time, I wouldn't have seen him much before either."
"Weird ... but maybe HR told him to take the time off while they did their investigation."
"Maybe.” I shrugged. “He just makes me so uneasy. I'd rather know where he is at all times, you know?" 
"Friends close, enemies closer."
"Can't Angela find out where he's been?"
I sighed. "She's tried, but she's been super-busy since she got back from vacation. Plus, there's only so much digging she can do on my behalf before it looks weird. Anyway, she hasn't really been able to find out where he is, but she hasn't seen him either."
"Well, the next time something happens, he'll lose his job, right?"
"That's what they said. Is it wrong that I almost wish there would be a next time, so we can get rid of him?"
Rose laughed. "So when does your flight leave?"
"Five-something. I'm leaving for the airport in an hour." I had left work at noon to come home and shower before getting ready to leave for the weekend. I was moving along at a brisk pace and was actually going to be ready early, when I started to panic about the color of my underwear.
"You sure you don't want me to take you? It's not a problem, you know."
"Thanks Rose, but no. I'm just gonna leave the truck at the airport and that way I can take Edward home when we get back on Sunday. He took a shuttle to get there. He doesn't like to leave his precious Volvo in public lots for too long."
"Well, at least you don't have to worry about the truck getting stolen."
"True. Another benefit of holding onto her." I paused, grinning. "So Rose ... how is Mayor McCarty?"
"Emmett is just fine, thank you."
I waited for her to expand on that statement and got nothing.
I sighed, exasperated. "Oh come on, Rose. I've already met the guy. Give me some details already!"
I heard her chuckling through the phone. "What do you want to know?"
"Um ... how did you meet? How long have you been seeing him? Why all the secrecy?"
"Well, we met at the car show at the convention center three months ago and we had lunch that day so I guess that could be considered our first date ... The rest is," she sighed heavily. "Complicated. I'll talk to you about it when you get back, okay?"
"Rose! You know I hate it when I know someone has something to tell me and they won't tell me."
She chuckled again. "I know. But it's too much to get in to right now. You have a flight to catch."
I gasped, looking quickly toward the small clock on my nightstand to check the time. "You're right. Red, right?"
"For tonight, yes. Blue tomorrow."
"Right. Thanks."
"Any time. Have fun." Her voice quivered teasingly as she said the last part and I grinned.
"'Bye Rose."
Edward met me at the baggage claim area, although I had no baggage to claim as I'd only brought my carryon. I walked straight over to him, dropped my bag and threw my arms around his neck, planting a huge, wet kiss on his lips.
I was excited to see him, yes, but I was also anxious to rid myself of the burly man who had attached himself to my hip since discovering we were sitting across the aisle from one another on the plane. He hadn't stopped talking to me for the entire flight, even when I'd pretended to be asleep, and he'd been walking very closely to me since de-boarding, trying to continue that conversation. I watched from the corner of my eye as he witnessed my public display of affection for Edward, turned and walked in the other direction.
Edward's eyes were bright as I pulled away, smiling.
"Well, hello there," he said. "It's good to see you too." 
He bent to retrieve my bag from the floor and I slipped my hand into the crook of his elbow as we moved toward the exit.
"I'm glad to see you wore a coat," he said, nodding toward the grey pea coat I had wrapped around me. "It's cold here at night."
When we were seated in his rental car and on our way into the city, I opened my coat and slipped it off my shoulders. I crossed my boot-clad legs in front of me and he whistled, making me grin and look over at him. He put a hand on my thigh.
"Is that a new dress?"
My dress was fairly simple: black, with an empire waist that made its cotton-lycra material flip and flow as it fell to just above my knee. It's sleeves fell demurely past my elbow. The neckline, though, dropped dangerously low both in front and back and the garment I wore beneath it made quite a highlight of my cleavage—something I knew Edward would appreciate.
His hand moved on my thigh and I heard his breath catch in his throat. When he spoke, his voice was low, almost hoarse. "Isabella ... what is this I feel?" His finger started to move the fabric of my dress up my thigh and I knew he was feeling the clasp of the garter at the stocking on my thigh. "What do you have on under here?"
His eyes dipped to my lap as his hand continued to play with the fabric at my thigh until I caught his hand under mine. 
"Never you mind about that. Keep your eyes on the road, please."
"Bella..." His voice had a dangerous undertone to it that thrilled me.
"Patience is a virtue, Mr. Masen." 
I entwined his fingers with mine, effectively removing them from my dress. He growled softly and I smiled.
"So," he said after about half an hour of maneuvering through traffic up the 101 and toward our destination. "Just one bag, huh?"
I shrugged. "We're only here 'til Sunday."
He chuckled and I looked over at him. 
"What?" I asked.
He put his arm around my shoulders and his fingers drifted against the skin of my neck.
"Not that I've traveled with a lot of women, Isabella, but those I have known in my life would have brought more than one bag—even just for two nights."
"Oh, you don't have to tell me.” I laughed. “I've travelled with Alice and Rosalie. They always have three times the luggage I do." 
He joined me in laughing. 
"I will say, though, they always have better shoes when we go out to dinner in strange places."
"Well, I'm impressed," he said as leaned toward him over center console between us. "I feel like I can take you anywhere and not worry about excess baggage."
I chuckled. "Well, that depends on how you mean that statement, really."
He smirked and looked down at me. His fingers pinched my earlobe, making me blush and drop my eyes.
"Anyway, I travel a lot. I know what a pain in the ass it is to cart a bunch of luggage around. Not everywhere has a bellhop or even an elevator, ya know?"
He chuckled and put his hand back on the steering wheel while I rested my head on his arm. 
"You like to travel?" he asked.
"Oh, yeah. It's my favorite thing, really." 
I paused and pulled away, looking at him. The hand not on the steering wheel was propped up against the window, his fingers playing at his chin and his lower lip. I really wished he hadn't been driving so I could replace his fingers with my own lips.
He glanced at me before looking back to the road.
"Well," I said softly. "It might be my second favorite thing to do."
Edward chuckled darkly and glanced at me again. He switched to hold the steering wheel with his left hand so he could return his right arm to my shoulders while I tried to snuggle against him as much as I could in the bucket seat.
"So where's your favorite place?" he asked me.
"That's hard," I said. "I like different places for different reasons. The place I really want to go back to right now, though, is Italy. So that says something, I guess."
"What part of Italy?"
"See, again, that's hard. But I think I liked Florence the best ... and the Amalfi coast. But Rome is really great too and I want to see it again. And I mean, I didn't even see so much of Italy. We didn't even go to Venice, for Pete's sake."
I almost had a heart attack as I thought he was going to rear-end an SUV and he just carried on with the conversation as if nothing had happened. 
"Why not?" he asked.
"Well, I just kind of think Venice is one of those places you need to go to with someone. You know, as a couple. It just seems too romantic, you know? Like Paris. I mean, I went to Paris, but I was distinctly aware that I was alone when I was there. Of course, that was also just six months after my marriage fell apart, so maybe I was a little touchy." I chuckled.
I glanced up at him and he was grinning, an odd expression on his face.
"What?" I asked him.
"You didn't go to Italy or France with Jake?"
I waved my hand in the air, looking back through the windshield and holding onto him just a little tighter because he was driving approximately eight hundred miles per hour and I was scared just a little shitless.
"Oh no," I said. "This is all recent stuff we're talking about. I went to Italy with Rose and Alice. I went to France by myself. Well, with a tour group, but I didn't know any of them and I stayed by myself and stuff."
"Huh. Well, good." He was still grinning.
"Why is that good?"
"Well, if I decide to whisk you away to Italy, I'd rather that not be the place where you and your ex-husband like, fell in love or something."
"Huh," I chuckled. "No, I fell in love with Jake on top of the desk in his office in the English department at UCLA."
Edward squirmed in his seat. "Um ... yeah ... I really don't want to know that."
I chuckled again and watched as we turned off the main highway and onto the city streets.
"What about you?" I asked. "Do you like to travel?"
"Well, considering how much traveling I have to do for work, I'd better. But yes, I do enjoy it."
"And what's your favorite place?"
"Paris. But then, I've never been to Italy." He smiled down at me. "I gotta say though—I might be biased, but there aren't many cities that can rival Chicago."
"I've never been," I said, wistfully. Chicago was a city I'd always wanted to visit, but hadn't gotten around to, yet.
"Really?" His arm tightened around me.
"Nope." I shook my head, it rubbing against his side. My back was getting stiff from leaning over the center console, but I ignored it as Edward's hand caressed my shoulder.
"Well ... that means I get to take you there and show you around." 
I looked up to see him smiling out the windshield.
"Will you show me the high school where Carla Arnotti broke your balls?"
He laughed. "Don't remind me."
"So are you gonna tell me where we're going?" I asked through my own chuckles.
He rolled his eyes. "Not yet. You'll see when we get there."
I grumbled and he laughed softly.
It wasn't long, though, before I found out. In minutes we pulled up in front of the Fairmont Hotel, an historic building right in the heart of the city. It was beautiful and renowned for its lovely rooms, to-die-for views and excellent service.
I put a hand on his forearm as we pulled up to the valet station and he popped the trunk of the car.
"Oh my God, Edward! I've always wanted to stay here." I smiled widely at him and watched as his smile grew to match mine.
The valet opened his door as I nodded my head enthusiastically.
As Edward checked in, I looked around the ornate lobby, getting more and more excited. I loved hotels. I loved airplanes, I loved eating in different cities, I loved wandering unfamiliar streets. I looked at the man standing at the registration desk and knew I would love wandering through San Francisco with him.
Our room was, to say the least, absolutely lovely. We stayed in a Tower Suite, which had a living room and separate bedroom, each decorated in soft whites, mauves and touches of gold. One entire wall in each room was made up of huge picture windows and each window had a telescope placed in front of it. Even at night, I could see from the twinkling lights outside that we had a breathtaking view of the Financial District, including the Transamerica building, and the bay behind it. My hand came to my face as I gazed out the window and Edward tipped the Bellman.
"Edward," I said breathily as the door closed on the Bellman and he turned to me. "This is just beautiful."
He walked up to me and wrapped his arms around my waist, looking behind me at the view out the living room window.
"It is nice, isn't it?"
I scoffed and slapped at his chest softly. "Uh ... yeah, I'd say so."
He chuckled and hugged me tightly to him, kissing the top of my head. "Unfortunately," he said, "we can't stay long if we want to make our dinner reservation."
"Okay. Just let me — uh — use the facilities."
He chuckled and dropped his arms from me, patting me on the backside before letting me go. "Okay."
I walked into the lovely, marble bathroom and used the needed facilities washed my hands, touched up my lipstick and fluffed my hair before returning to Edward. He stood at the window, leaning against it with one hand and looking out at the view, his right hand in his pants' pocket. He was wearing a tan-colored, long-sleeved, V-neck shirt made of cashmere. I swear he only wore the softest of materials just to entice me to touch him, constantly. And it totally worked.
He looked absolutely gorgeous and my heart skipped a beat as I walked toward him. I put a hand at his back, running my fingers over the soft material there, and he looked down at me.
"Hey," I whispered.
"Hey." He kissed the top of my nose. "You ready to go?"
As I expected, Mona Lisa was packed. As we exited our taxi, we had to move around a crowd of people waiting in the cold outside the restaurant for a table. It was a small space, narrow and deep with tables packed closely together so as to fit as many people inside as possible. There was always a crowd of people waiting for a seat and it was noisy inside. But they had the best Italian food I'd had in San Francisco.
As we had a reservation, we were seated right away, at a small table by the front window. It was chilly sitting there and I kept my coat draped over my legs.
"Sorry," I said as we opened our menus. "I know we have Italian like, all the time. But this is really one of my favorite restaurants on the planet so I wanted to bring you here."
Edward smiled sweetly at me. "Then I want to be here."
Butterflies apparently started jumping rope in my stomach as I returned his smile in what I'm sure was a most goofy manner. He watched me, his smile broadening as he reached to take a drink of water from the glass in front of him before I realized that I was dancing a little in my seat and stopped myself.
"Um," I said, blushing as I opened the wine list. "Shall we have a bottle of vino?"
I heard him chuckling a little as our waitress approached. She, like most of the staff at Mona Lisa, spoke with a very heavy Italian accent.
Edward ordered us a bottle of Chianti and asked the waitress what she recommended for our meal. She proceeded to run off a list of entrees, about three of which I recognized through her accent, before saying, "You know, stay away from the silly Chicken Parmesano. That's not Italian food, that's American food. Try something authentic."
She stole away to retrieve our wine while we made our decision.
"So, listen," I said. "We haven't discussed the thing with James, yet."
He looked surprised. "Why? Did something happen?"
"Well ... didn't you talk to HR or get an email?"
"You know, my phone is messed up. I can't seem to get any emails on it since I came up here yesterday."
"Well, crap.” I rolled my eyes. “They concluded their investigation."
The waitress returned, our bottle of wine in her hand. Edward and I simply looked at each other while she uncorked it and poured a small amount into his glass. Once he'd tasted it and nodded at her, she poured glasses for each of us.
"Are you ready to order?" the waitress asked, pen and pad in hand.
I looked up at her. "I'll have the Chicken Parmesan."
She gave me a pointed look and I shrugged while Edward laughed.
"Sorry," I said. "But your Chicken Parmesan is just the best." 
The waitress smiled while writing, before turning her attention to Edward, who ordered the Veal Saltimbocca, a dish she had recommended.
"You're gonna eat a little baby cow?" I asked as the waitress walked away.
He nodded. "And I'll probably enjoy it very much." 
I shook my head at him, but I had to grin at his response.
"So what happened with HR?" he asked.
"Oh, so basically you and I are fine. James was written up because of what he did to me and he's on thin ice. He has to go to an intensive harassment seminar and if there is ever any issue at all with him he will be gone."
Edward looked at me for several moments, silent. A smile crept over my face.
"Wait," he said. "So basically we were freaking out and stressing over nothing?"
"Well not nothing ... but yes, we didn't really need to freak out."
He smiled, took a deep breath and held his wine glass up in a toast. "Well, here's to a freak-out-free weekend, then."
I smiled and touched my glass to his before taking in a delicious sip of the red wine.
"It's been a little weird, though," I said and he raised his eyebrows at me. "I haven't seen hide nor hair of James all week."
His eyes became icy and dark. "Isn't that a good thing?"
"Well, yes, of course ... it's just weird and it makes me uneasy."
"You want me to come stake out your house every night to protect you?"
"You gonna sit out in your car all night, with binoculars?” I grinned. “I'll bring you coffee."
He chuckled. "Yeah, there's a spot like three doors down and across the street—I can totally see your entire house, but I won't even be noticed."
"Sounds like you've staked out my house before," I said with a laugh.
The waitress brought our food and I watched Edward’s face. His complexion had flushed and he sat rigidly in his seat, obviously uncomfortable.
Silent, he tried to smile, but it looked unnatural on his strained face.
I watched him as the waitress grated Parmesan cheese over the appropriate dishes in front of us before leaving our table. A vein I had only previously seen during sex had popped out on his forehead.
"Edward?" I asked and he looked up from his food to meet my eyes.
"It's no big deal." He picked up his fork and shrugged.
"What's no big deal?" I asked, mystified.
"It's just ... well, the night we met ... I sort of..." He took a bite of his veal and started to chew, watching my eyes as he did so. He swallowed, hard, before he spoke again.
"I kind of followed you home."
My fork clanged to my dish in front of me and I looked apologetically at the neighboring table, embarrassed, before turning back to him.
"What do you mean, you followed me home?"
"I mean," he swallowed again, "I followed you home. I know it's weird, but ... well, you were in that decrepit old truck and I didn't trust it to get you home okay, so ... well, I followed you."
I took a moment to absorb what he’d said.
"And you parked across the street spying on me, apparently."
I hadn't started eating yet. I only watched as Edward cut away another bite-sized piece of veal and popped it into his mouth.
"Don't make it sound more perverted than it was," he said.
"Well, would you explain it to me, then?" I wasn’t sure “perverted” was the right adjective, but I wasn’t exactly comfortable with his revelation.
He put his fork down and crossed his hands in front of him, his elbows on the table. "Okay, first of all," he said, pointing to his plate, "this is the best fucking veal I've ever had in my life."
I had to chuckle at that.
"Secondly ... Bella, I just ... I really liked you, even from that very first night. And yes, I will fully admit it was weird, what I did. But at first it was just that I wanted to be sure you made it home. Then I just ... I don't know. I just got kind of obsessed. I saw you walk into your living room and I just started watching you and I couldn't stop."
"Wait ... you really were watching me?" I didn't know what to make of what I was hearing.
"Well, I didn't see anything, you know, untoward. I just saw you in the living room ... through your windows."
I took a huge drink of my wine and watched his face as he continued to eat, obviously trying hard to pay little attention to the weight of our exchange. His eyes darted from my face to the room around him.
"You watched me through my windows."
He said nothing. He simply continued to chew.
"Edward, I'm sorry, but do you not see how — odd — that behavior is?"
He sighed and nodded. "I do. I know. I'm sorry. But really, it was harmless. I mean, you know me, right? I'm harmless, right?"
"Huh. Well, I don't know that I'd say exactly that, but ... well yes, I guess I know you're not some crazed lunatic."
"Exactly," he said, shrugging as he put more food in his mouth, smiling as he chewed. 
I picked up my fork. "Just to be clear—this isn't something you regularly do?"
"No. Just the once."
"And there's nothing else I need to know? Like you've hacked into my email or something?" I was only half-joking.
He practically glared at me. "No, I have not."
"Hey, don't look at me like that, Crazy Stalker Boy."
Putting his elbows on the table again, he grabbed his glass of wine, looking at me. "Are you going to eat or let your food get cold?"
"I'm eating," I said, cutting into my chicken. "You've just given me a lot to digest this evening."
I decided to do just that with the information he'd given me: Digest it all, let it sink in and see what comes out the other end. His behavior that first night had been odd—obsessive even. But I did know Edward and the man I knew was not exactly one to be feared. I figured I'd file the information away in my brain, but not really worry about it; certainly not during a weekend trip to San Francisco.
Although we managed to inhale a second bottle of the yummy Chianti, we again had no room for dessert after our meal. When the waitress brought our bill, Edward tried to pay for dinner and I almost had to tackle him to grab the check out of his hands.
"I already told you I was taking you to dinner. Stop being a macho man and give me the damn check."
He laughed as I paid and as we walked out onto the street, he wrapped his arms around me. "Thank you for dinner, Isabella," he whispered into my ear.
"You can thank me later," I said, winking up at him. 
He chuckled and kissed me softly. 
"Come on," I said, breaking away and pulling him by the arm. "Let's go have a drink."
As we walked down the street toward my favorite bar, Edward pointed ahead of us.
"You realize we're headed to what looks suspiciously like—well, what you might call the red light district, don't you Bella?"
"Vesuvio isn't in the red light district." I shrugged and grabbed his hand in mine. "It's just ... close. It's red-light adjacent."
"Hmm..." He grinned, wickedly. "So after we get all drunk, we can go watch porn."
"Hmm..." I looked up at him. "Or we can just go back to the hotel and make our own."
His head snapped as he looked quickly down at me. "Do we have to go have drinks first?"
“It's early.” I laughed. "We have lots of time for porno-magic."
He dropped my hand and instead put his arm around my shoulders. "Ah, you say the sweetest things."
I giggled as we reached the next intersection and stopped for the light. He wrapped his arms around me from behind and rested his chin on my head. I felt tipsy and the cool air was refreshing against my face.
"I think it's just up on the next block," I said. "Hey, you wanna go into City Lights bookstore?"
"Is that the one owned by that poet, um...?"
"Lawrence Ferlinghetti."
"Yeah, him." 
The light changed and we started walking across the street. 
"Sure," he shrugged. "Let's go."
I smiled as we walked through the door into the store. I made a habit of visiting City Lights whenever I was in San Francisco and walking in felt like visiting an old friend. They had a lot of books that were hard to find—ones that were published in small numbers or independently or that were out of print. Plus, I could of course always find the books they published themselves.
We walked through rows of books and I inhaled what was one of my favorite smells—one of old paper and ink, chased with dust. I could spend several long hours wandering through a good bookstore and lose myself completely. Edward and I went up some stairs, down a few stairs and up some more until we got separated. I left him somewhere in the architecture section and wandered down to American Poetry.
I stood close to a tall stack of shelves, reading a poem in a collection of Charles Bukowski's work, when Edward crept up behind me. His arm slid around my waist while his other held a book up in front of me where he held it open between his long fingers. He leaned close and whispered in my ear. His hot breath brought goosebumps to my skin as he softly read aloud.
"You say when I go back you will suck me off and you want me to lick your cunt."
I gasped and tried to turn in his arms, but he pressed me closer to the shelves.
"Edward," I whispered. "Somebody will hear you."
"Shh..." He whispered in my ear, bringing goosebumps again. He went back to reading from the book in front of him.
"I hope you will surprise me some time when I am asleep dressed, steal over to me with a whore's glow in your slumberous eyes, gently undo button after button on the fly of my trousers and gently take your lover's fat mickey –" 
I gasped again and he tightened his grip on my waist as he continued to read as if uninterrupted.
"Lap it up in your moist mouth and suck away at it till it gets fatter and stiffer and comes off in your mouth." 
I bit my lower lip as he continued.
"Sometime too I shall surprise you asleep, lift up your skirts and open your hot drawers gently, then lie down gently by you and begin to lick lazily round your bush. You will begin to stir uneasily then I will lick the lips of my darling's cunt."
Breath rapidly escaped my mouth and I felt moisture pooling between my legs. Edward's thumb caressed circles against my hip. He spoke so closely to my ear that I could feel the hot moisture of his breath against my skin as he continued.
"You will begin to groan and grunt and sigh with lust in your sleep. Then I will lick up faster and faster like a ravenous dog until your cunt is a mass of slime and your body is wriggling wildly."
He dropped the hand holding the book and in the process left sufficient room for me to turn around. As I did so, I pulled his face down to mine, my mouth opening to his in a heated kiss. I heard the sound of my book falling to the floor behind him as my fingers knotted themselves in his hair. My leg moved up his thigh, my hips moving against him. My heart pounded in my chest, wetness pooling at my core. The sound of Edward's silken, sexy voice reading such erotic words in my ear left me breathless and mindless of our surroundings.
His hand slipped underneath my coat and down to cup my ass and pull me toward him. He groaned into my mouth as he fingered the clasps of the garter belt along the back of my thigh. I didn't know what he'd done with his book, but his other hand drifted up my side until he had cupped my breast in his hand. He pushed me up against the bookshelves, grinding his hips into mine.
I dropped my leg at the sound of a man clearing his throat and Edward pulled his hands from me, straightening. I blushed and looked down at the floor as the man walked past us, nodding. 
"Good evening,” Edward muttered.
As the man passed us, Edward turned to look down at me, a huge grin on his face. I blushed again and bent to retrieve my book and replace it on the shelf before I pulled on his sleeve.
"Come on," I said, rolling my eyes at his grin. "Let's go have a drink."
I started to walk away, but he lagged behind. "Wait," he said, grabbing his book, which was laying on the shelf in front of him. "Gotta buy this." He held it up in front of him and winked at me.
I grinned and started toward the cash register. "Yes. God bless James Joyce."
"You knew that?"
I looked up at him as he put the book on the counter in front of the register. "English major, remember? I actually did a paper on his letters to Nora and the literature within the eroticism."
"I'm dating a smart chick." He shot a goofy grin at the sleepy-looking salesman as he handed him a few bills.  
The salesman nodded, uninterested, and handed him his change.
Vesuvio was packed to the rafters full of people. We passed the obligatory men playing chess near the front entrance, passed the poster of James Joyce on the wall; I kissed my finger and touched it to the photo of Jack Kerouac. We waited for what seemed like forever for drinks at the bar before squeezing through the mass of bodies toward the juke box and the back of the ground floor. Deciding to hazard a trip up the narrow, spiral staircase to the second floor, we lucked out when we found two very drunk men vacating the "Booth for Psychoanalysts", a small booth close to the stairs. We slid in as they slid out. It looked something akin to a gazebo, with pillars holding a wooden canopy over the booth, giving the illusion of privacy even within the noisy bar.
"Ooh, I like this booth," Edward said as he slid close to me and put one hand around my shoulders and one on my thigh. "It's private in here."
"Er ... yeah. Not as private as you might think," I said, my eyes on the two women sitting at a small table who were eyeballing Edward and giggling. I pushed his hand farther down my thigh and heard him grumble against my neck.
"So what's the deal about this bar? Why do you like it so much?" he asked, pulling away from my neck but leaving his hands on me.
"It's just cool.” I shrugged. “It was kind of like a mecca for the Beat generation. Neal Cassady hung out here, and Kerouac of course. I dunno. I just like it. It's got a good vibe. And a decent juke box." I smiled as I took a drink of my vodka. "Plus, the bartenders here take no prisoners. Don't ever dare order a frou-frou drink in here."
"Well, not that I would ever order a frou-frou drink under normal conditions, but now I might have to, just to see what kind of reaction I get."
I shrugged. "Okay, but do me a favor and give me a few minutes' warning so I can get out of here ahead of time."
He chuckled and took a deep swallow of the dark liquid in the glass in front of him.
"Oh!" I said abruptly, causing Edward's eyebrows to raise in surprise. Which, of course, made me giggle because Edward's face was just so comically communicative that it made me giggle on a regular basis.
"I almost forgot—next weekend is Rose's birthday."
"Oh, cool." He took another drink and I noticed his glass was almost empty already.
"She's having a picnic on Saturday and is going to make us all play softball. She does this every year."
"You play softball?" 
He raised his eyebrows again in surprise and I glared at him.
"What makes you think I don't play softball?"
"I didn't say that.” He laughed. “I just asked."
"Yeah, but you asked as if you were surprised to hear me mention playing softball. You think I'm in bad physical condition or something? You think I'm uncoordinated?" I'm not sure that last word came out of my mouth sounding exactly right.
"If I say yes, will you prove me wrong later?" His eyes twinkled. 
I just grinned and took another drink. 
"So?" he prodded.
"So what?"
It was his turn to roll his eyes. "Sew buttons on your underwear. I asked if you played softball."
"Sew buttons on my underwear?"
"It's a phrase. Haven't you ever heard it?"
I laughed, rather loudly; not that anyone noticed, since it was extremely loud in the bar. "Um ... can't say as I have, no."
"Yeah." He laughed, too. "Someone says 'So what?', you say, 'Sew buttons on your underwear'."
"I get it, you dork!” I laughed even louder. “I have just never heard anything so ridiculous in my life."
"Hey! My dad used to say that to me!"
We stared at one another, laughing, for several minutes. I covered my mouth with my hand, trying in vein to hold the laughter in. Tears started to run down my face and all I could think of was the fact that it really wasn't even that funny a saying. It was just so much fun and such a relief to sit there with Edward, laughing our asses off and being stupid with each other without a care.
"Oh my God..." I fanned my face with my hand and dabbed beneath my eyes with my cocktail napkin, trying to get a hold of myself.
"I can't believe you," he said, still shaking in an effort not to laugh.
"I can't believe you. And your stupid Billy-Joe-Bob sayings."
He smacked me on the arm and I dropped my jaw, rubbing my now subtly aching bicep.
"That's my dad's character you're impugning there, missy."
"You jerk! That hurt!" But I was grinning as I punched him on the arm with far more strength than that with which he had swiped at me.
"Ow!" He flinched. "Jesus, Bella! Okay, I get that you have quite an arm!"
I chuckled and took a drink of vodka. "Okay, then."
He moved to take a drink from his glass, but noticed it was empty and set it back down. "So softball. You play?"
"Um ... well no. Not really. I stand in right field and fake it. Other people tend to run out there and catch the balls for me."
Edward burst into laughtr and I had no choice but to join in.
"And they always find a way to keep me from batting. ‘Cause once I let go of the bat during my swing and hit Alice's date in the back of the head!"
We started laughing harder and again tears ran down my cheeks. Then I hiccuped, which only made Edward laugh even harder. The girls at the other table were looking at us again, and started to laugh themselves at our ridiculous behavior.
After several minutes of laughing followed by a few more of gasping for breath and a couple more of me trying to rid myself of the hiccups (complete with Edward trying to "scare" them out of me, which only made us start laughing again, thus repeating the entire process), we started to resemble somewhat sane people. A waitress came up to our table and asked if we needed a drink and I ordered a second glass of my usual vodka.
Edward smiled up at the waitress. "I'll have a Sex on the Beach, please."
I elbowed him in the ribs and he grabbed his side, laughing.
"He'll have a Maker's Mark, neat," I said to the waitress. She winked at me before she walked away.
"Hey," he said, turning toward me. "What makes you think I don't really want sex on the beach?" His fingers crawled up my thigh as he spoke.
"The beach here is cold," I said. "I can think of much better places to have sex."
His arm went around my shoulders, resting on the booth, and he kissed my cheek, still chuckling.
"So what happened to all of your rules, Bella?" His question was so abrupt and out of the blue, I felt my mouth fall open in surprise.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, when we started this thing, I felt sure the only way it would continue is if I agreed to a long list of rules meant to assure our privacy and discretion. It would appear as of late that those rules have been abandoned. I mean, we went to lunch the other day. In public."
"Edward, between the poker party and you and James showing up to work looking like the stars of Rocky 3D, I think any privacy I might have wanted to keep in relation to my personal life has pretty much gone out the window. Everyone knows all about us, regardless, so I guess I might as well just embrace the matter."
"Or embrace me," he said, smirking.
"Yes, that goes without saying."
"Well, I'm glad. I don't know why we should hide anything from anybody."
I shrugged and didn't say anything more about it. I wished I could feel as comfortable as he did with everyone at work talking about my private life like it was the latest episode of Melrose Place, but I didn't. I felt like a bit of a heel, too, because if we didn't work together none of it would be an issue and we could just relax and enjoy each other's company. Luckily, the waitress brought our drinks, making the transition to a new topic of conversation an easy one.
"Edward," I said, stirring ice cubes around in my glass with a straw. "When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?"
The surprised look on his face was comical and made me smile.
"Well, it just occurred to me that I really know nothing about you."
His hands tickled my sides and tummy as he nuzzled into my neck. "You know all the stuff that matters."
I rolled my eyes and tried to bat his hands away, to no avail.
"Knowing how to make you come in thirty-point-seven seconds is not really a solid foundation for a relationship."
"It is in my book," he mumbled into my ear before kissing it.
"Edward, stop." I pulled his hands away from my ribs long enough to catch my breath. "I'm serious ... Like, I don't even know if you have any brothers or sisters."
He shrugged and put his hand back behind my head on the booth, his other one on my thigh. "I don't know if you have any, either."
"Oh. Well, no. I don't."
He chuckled and returned to kissing my neck. "Me, either. Can I go back to biting your neck now?"
I pulled my neck away from his lips. "So did you grow up in Chicago?"
He sighed heavily, but looked into my eyes. "I grew up in a suburb of Chicago."
"What suburb?"
"Arlington Heights."
"We're both only children," I grinned. "We're not gonna share well."
I turned slightly and raised my legs so they draped across his thigh. He parted his knees farther to make room for my calves between them. His hand fell atop my knees.
"What do I have to share with you?"
I shrugged. "I don't know. Anything. Your toys. Your french fries."
"I promise I will always share my french fries with you, Bella."
My eyes twinkled at him. Or at least, I hope they did. That's what I was going for, anyway. I took a sip through my straw.
"But will you share your toys?"
His grin matched mine and his eyes were definitely twinkling in a devilish manner He rubbed my thigh. "What sort of toys are you referring to?"
"Shouldn't that be, 'To what sort of toys are you referring'?"
"Whatever the fuck, Miss English Major." 
I could tell he was tipsy as he shook his head and slurred his words, slightly. It made me giggle.
"Do you like to play with toys, Bella?"
His voice had grown husky and the dark gleam in his eyes, evident even in the dim light of the bar, made me ache. I couldn't help myself. I grabbed his shirt and pulled him to me. I kissed him, pushing my tongue deep in his mouth. He responded eagerly, his hand massaging and then moving up my thigh toward my waist, fingertips trailing along the curve of my ass lightly. His other hand was in my hair and pulled my face toward his.
"You know, this might be an adult establishment, but that doesn't mean you can outright fuck in here."
We broke our kiss and I blushed as I saw the waitress standing in front of our booth, grinning down at us.
"Can I get you lovebirds another drink?" she asked.
"Absolutely." Edward said, nodding. I just laughed. We'd both obviously had enough to drink, but hell—we were on vacation and taking a cab back to our hotel. Who cared if we got trashed?
In fact, we had two more drinks before we made our way to the exit and laughingly hailed a cab.
"When are you gonna take this fucking thing off and let me see what you got on under there?" 
Edward lifted my skirt and bent his head to try to peer underneath it. As I giggled and batted his hand away, he pulled my legs across his. He had me pushed into the corner of the seat behind the driver and he leaned over me.
We had been in the cab for about ten minutes ... or perhaps it was ten hours. It was hard to tell. I was paying attention to little apart from Edward's hands, which brazenly wandered my body over my clothes, and his lips, which attacked mine with a vengeance.
My fingers ran through his hair as his mouth moved across my neck. His hands squeezed my breasts together and I gasped as he planted a wet, openmouthed kiss on my cleavage, his tongue darting out and slipping between my breasts.
"Hey." The cab driver spoke to us from the front seat. "This isn't Taxicab Confessions. You guys can't get naked in the back seat."
I looked down at Edward's face hovering over my breasts and giggled. "Damn," I said. "Cock-blocked by the cab driver."
He grinned and looked toward the front seat. "How long 'til we get to the hotel?" 
"Like three miles." The driver almost barked at him. "Think you can keep it in your pants that long?"
I laughed as Edward straightened and looked down at me with a goofy smirk on his face.
"Can you?" I asked, smiling.
"I shall try to control myself." 
He put a hand to his chest and I laughed again. The man was drunk. And because I was drunk as well, it cracked me up.
"Isabella Swan, I do believe you're drunk."
"Yes, well, luckily I'm in good company."
I had just tripped, seemingly over a speck of dust on the carpet of our hotel room, moving from the living room to the bedroom.
Edward stood in the middle of the bedroom, his hands at his side. His head was dipped slightly so that he looked at me from beneath his eyelashes. His hair was a crazy mess on top of his head and I wanted nothing more at that moment than to tangle my hands in it. A sultry, slightly dangerous smile crept slowly over his face. I unconsciously backed up a bit in the face of that look, even while my heart pounded in excitement. My teeth worried at my lower lip.
He stalked toward me slowly and I backed up further, toward the bed behind me. The lights of the city sparkled in the window behind him, giving him an almost otherworldly halo about him.
"Edward?" My voice was almost a whisper.
"Bella ... I think it's time."
He was only a couple of feet from me. If he’d reached out, he could have grabbed me and pulled me to him. Instead, he slowed to a stop and stood in front of me.
"Time?" I whispered.
"Time for you to show me what you've been teasing me with all night."
I took a deep breath and blushed at the floor.
"I don't know, now," I said. "It might be a bit anticlimactic after the buildup."
I looked up at him, shyly. The heat of a blush was still on my cheeks.
"Bella, if you don't take that dress off within ten-seconds, I'm gonna rip it off of your body."
I gasped and smiled, not sure if I should be amused or aroused, and then he started counting.
"One ... Two..." 
His lips curved into a crooked grin and I immediately gripped the bottom hem of my dress and pulled it over my shoulders, throwing it to the floor.
I stood before him in a red lace corset and garter belt, which was edged in black. My breasts were pushed up and slightly together, sheer lace covering the cups of the bra so that my nipples were barely visible through it. The corset smoothed tightly over my stomach and waist, hitting me at the hip bone where the garters snuck out from beneath it to hold up the black silk stockings I had worn. Beneath it all I wore a pair of tiny, red and black lace panties.
I watched Edward's face as an almost dangerous look came over it. His chest rose with the slow, deep breath he took in. My breaths came faster and a blush covered my face as his eyes grew darker with each moment he stared at my body. He looked at me with an animalistic shadow in his eyes that made me shiver without a single touch of his hand. The movement of his eyes was slow as he took me in from head-to-toe.
"Turn around," he said brusquely and I immediately did so, putting my hands on my hips as I stood with my back to him.
His hot breath was on my neck before I felt his hand on my thigh, reaching around to trail along the lower edge of my panties before running down the front of my thigh. He pressed up against me and I felt his erection against my lower back. I let my head fall back against his shoulder.
"Sit down on the bed," he whispered into my ear. 
I moaned softly and did so, feeling his hardness slide along my body as I moved. When I was seated, he knelt in front of me and cupped my face in his hands. He kissed my lips, his tongue running between them and meeting mine with ferocity.
I started to scoot back on the bed, pulling him with me, but he stopped me.
"Stay here," he whispered. 
As he looked into my eyes, his hands slid slowly up my thighs and I spread them wider as he reached their apex. He fingered the lace of my garters while his thumbs dipped down to graze over the front of my panties. I shivered again at his touch and my hands moved over his shoulders toward his neck. And that hair.
He spoke in the soft, deep, velvet voice I had heard in such moments before, but that never ceased to make my skin tingle.
"Bella, you are the sexiest thing I have ever seen. I love knowing this is all for me."
"This is all for you," I whispered, my fingers running through his hair. "I am all for you."
He quickly moved his hands up my sides to my breasts, grasping them through the thin material. As I threw my head back with a moan of passion, his lips and teeth came suddenly down onto my neck, making me gasp.
"That's right," he said into my ear as he bit at it. He moved his body to push me to lay back on the bed. He devoured my neck, my chest; he bit at my nipples through the lace that held them.
"All for me," he whispered as he knelt on the floor between my legs.
His hands moved down my body, drifting over my thighs until they reached the top of my boots. He sat back on his heels and slowly unzipped the right one. He looked intently into my eyes and the look on his face made me bite my lip. The anticipation was excruciating as he slowly unzipped my other boot before sliding it off.
He held my gaze as he kissed the inside of my knee and my leg tried to jerk out of his hands. He smiled against my skin and nibbled there again, knowing he had hit a ticklish spot. He trailed kisses and nibbles up my thigh and when he reached one of the garters, his fingers nimbly moved to unclasp it. He lifted my leg slightly, trailing his fingers along the line of my stocking until he reached the clasp at the back and shortly had that one unhooked, as well. Then he softly, slowly ran the stocking down my leg. His fingers tickled and teased my skin deliciously and I squirmed in delight. He moved to my other leg and repeated the process, making me crazy with his teasing by the end of it.
His kisses moved up the inside of my thigh. My flesh began to twitch as his lips moved closer to the sensitive flesh of my center.
"Edward," I whispered. My hand knitted itself in his hair.
He moaned into the soft and tender flesh of my inner thigh and I felt the vibration deep within. I moaned in kind at the feeling.
"You smell so good," he whispered against my panties and his tongue darted out to lick them. He softly nibbled at the elastic at the top of them. 
I could feel the heat of his breath through the thin material. My heart pounded in my chest. The muscles of my thighs seemed to have a mind of their own as they twitched and skittered under the weight of anticipation.
"Edward ... please. Stop."
He pulled his face up to look at mine. "Stop?"
"Stop teasing me."
He chuckled and returned his attention to my panties and what lay beneath them.
"What do you need, Bella?" 
I could see a smile on his face as he looked up at me from between my legs. His mouth moved over my panties and I moaned, trying with the hand in his hair to move him where I wanted him, to no avail.
"Hmm?" His mouth moved lightly over me again. His hands were on my thighs, slowly moving upward until they took a detour and ended up on my hips, his thumbs making light patterns just underneath the corset I wore.
"Edward, please..."
But he only repeated, "Tell me what you need, Bella."
His mouth moved over my panties again, a bit harder this time so that I could feel his chin running along my clit. 
"Fuck!" I all but slammed my hands down on the mattress beneath me as my head fell back against the bed, my eyes clenched tightly closed out of wanton desire. "Lick me, Edward. Please." My voice trailed off to a whisper.
He chuckled and I felt the vibrations against my center, which only made me moan again, in frustration this time.
His hands finally moved to the elastic at the top of my panties and he began to slide them down my legs.
"Ah," he said. "Such a good girl. Always knows when to say please."
As I felt my panties slip off of my ankle, I heard him take a deep breath and looked down to see his face hovering above me.
"Fuck, you smell good Bella."
His hands moved up my thigh to meet his mouth and they lightly massaged the muscles at the top of my inner thigh. Finally, I felt his tongue. He made one long lick up my slit until he took my clit between his lips, his tongue playing along its underside. I gasped at the sensation and my hand again moved to his hair.
Once again, I felt the vibration of Edward's groan as he pulled my sensitive flesh into his mouth. His tongue moved in circles, his lips nibbling. My hips jerked against him and he gripped my thighs tighter, softly kneading the tender muscles with his thumbs.
"Oh God," I whispered. "Oh ... yes. Edward." 
I could feel a delicious tensing beginning in my body. What felt like electric currents flowed from my core as if through my veins, igniting my body in luscious heat. His mouth moved faster around my clit and his fingers trailed over my thighs to slip between the soft folds beneath. As one finger slipped inside of me, my body bucked and writhed, Edward pushing me toward a heavenly place only he could take me. I was in a frenzy that felt almost like madness. I screamed his name; my body felt as if it would shatter. I was very much alive.
I expected he would stop. I expected to see his face hovering over mine when I opened my eyes. Instead, he continued to torture me deliciously with his tongue so that I remained poised at an exquisite plateau. Only moments later I was rocked again, obscenities and nonsensical words spewing from my lips as Edward slipped another finger inside of me.
Panting and impatient, I pulled his face to mine as he began to slide up my body. I kissed him desperately and, throwing my legs around his hips, felt his hard cock against me. I reached down and gripped him in my hand, causing him to pull his lips away from mine as a hiss escaped his mouth.
"Fuck!" He practically yelled it and for a moment I wondered about the people in the next room. For a moment. Then I pointed his cock in the direction of my heated wetness and that was all I cared about.
Edward was almost as desperate as I was. He pushed into me with urgency, forcing a gasp from my mouth. He looked down at me and I smiled as he moved inside of me. He wrapped his arms around me, pulling me to his chest before he turned over onto his back.
"Oh, I see," I said playfully, readjusting my position over him. "You want me on top."
"Oh, yeah," he said with a grin. "I wanna watch you, Bella. I want to watch you fuck me."
I think the sound that came from me at hearing those words was a whimper. The way he spoke to me during times like these never ceased to make me simpering putty in his hands.
My hands smoothed over his chest while I moved urgently over him, Edward thrusting up into me. He gripped my hips in his hands, his fingers pressing into my flesh. The hunger in his eyes thrilled me and I bent down to kiss him, our tongues entwining frantically. His hand went to the back of my head as he sat up on his other elbow. I put my feet out in front of me and braced myself on his thigh with a hand behind me.
I broke our kiss. "Oh, God. Edward..." I was an English major in school, but was continually struck dumb by the feelings inspired in me by one Edward Masen. If I ever took the time to actually think about that, it would probably be embarrassing.
"Bella, baby, you feel so good." He was panting and whispering in my ear, his deep voice made harsh with passion. "I think your pussy was made just for me."
His hair was a tousled mess and I wound my hands through it as he sat up more fully. I wrapped my legs around his back and he spread his knees to make the position more comfortable for me, keeping his feet together. I pulled his face to mine so I could kiss his delicious mouth again. 
The intimacy of our position was not lost on us as our movements, once frantic, slowed to a luxuriant, tender pace. I looked in his eyes as we moved together and the intensity of the passionate affection I saw there struck me and I came again, his mouth covering mine to catch my screams.
Edward came moments later, our mouths still pressed together, tongues entwined. He moaned violently into my mouth as his hand gripped the back of my head and the other held my hips firmly to his. When we finally broke our kiss we remained pressed together tightly, our breaths mingling in the small space between us.
"Christ, Bella," he said once he could speak.
I threw my arms around his neck and dropped my head to his shoulder. I could say nothing. I was afraid of what might come out of my mouth.
He took me with him as he leaned back on the several pillows propped up against the headboard. He ran his hand along my back as I relaxed against his chest. I could hear the beating of his heart, still accelerated.
I took deep breaths and closed my eyes, lost in a feeling of slumberous peace.
I almost started to doze off when I felt his chest shaking as he chuckled. I pulled up to look at him.
"I was just thinking," he said. "The one time I actually did drink a Sex on the Beach, I was sixteen. I was going to Lakeshore in Chicago and this local girl — she didn't go to school with me — she had a party. Tanya. I so wanted to get in her pants. She was blond and had long legs and she always smelled like coconut."
"Oh, really?" I raised an eyebrow as he looked at me.
"You aren't seriously going to get jealous about a girl I had a crush on as a teenager, are you?"
"No," I said, grinning. "But you know how I love to bait you."
He patted my butt and chuckled. He kissed me below my jaw.
"So what happened at the party?" I asked.
"Oh, so her older brother was a bartender and he was actually making drinks for all of us at this party. Tanya loved Sex on the Beaches." He laughed. "I wanted to like what she liked, so I drank them too. And got absolutely plowed. We ended up making out in her room and I was so excited, until I threw up all over her pink comforter."
"Indeed." He grinned.
"Do you throw up on all of your dates, then?"
He shrugged. "Only first dates."
"So Lakeshore was your high school? Why didn't she go there?"
"Lakeshore is a prep school in Chicago. Tanya went to public school."
My mouth fell open. "You went to prep school?"
"Yes, I went to prep school.” He rolled his eyes. “From seventh grade on, anyway. I wasn't too far from home, though, and my parents sent a car for me every Friday so I could spend the weekends with them."
"Wait ... you're rich." My mouth fell open again.
"My family is rich, yes."
I gasped and smiled. "You're my Blane."
"Your what?" He laughed.
I slapped at his chest, appalled by his ignorance. "My Blane. From Pretty in Pink. And I'm your Andie Walsh." 
I gave him a goofy smile and he laughed.
"This is some John Hughes reference?"
"Haven't you seen the movie?"
"Of course I have. John Hughes flicks are like ... your generation's It's a Wonderful Life. It's required viewing from another time." He laughed again.
"Wha–?" I shook my head. "Excuse me?"
He grinned. "What?"
I climbed off of his lap, still shaking my head, and sat next to him. Edward watched, a lost look on his face.
"What did I do?" 
He held his hands out, palms toward the ceiling and I slapped one of them.
"You just said the movie was of my generation. Like I'm just so much older than you. I'm not, like, a world war two mail order bride or something!"
He started laughing and I crossed my arms in front of me and kicked him lightly in the calf.
"Bella, are you just baiting me again?"
"You can't seriously be mad at that."
"I can, too," I huffed. I'm pretty sure I was pouting, although I was embarrassed about that even while I was doing it.
"Bella..." He reached to put an arm around my shoulder and I leaned away from him. "Bella..." 
I looked over at him. "Can you just think about what you say before you say it, please? It's not always easy being a decade older than your guy, you know. Especially when that guy is ... you."
"What does that mean?"
"I mean, Mister ... Sex-on-legs-hottie-Masen."
He burst into laughter again.
"Yeah, whatever. Laugh it up, funny boy."
I started to get up to use the bathroom and Edward grabbed me from behind, pulling me down onto the bed. He hovered over me.
"Bella," he said, smoothing a strand of hair from my face. "You don't really still have an issue with our ages, do you?"
I sighed. "Well, no ... not really..." 
He smiled and kissed my neck. 
"But don't talk about John Hughes movies like they're archaic!"
"I won't.” He looked down at me with a smirk. “I promise."
"And don't ever let me drink that much again."
He laughed. "That I will not promise. You're fun when you're drunk." 
He nuzzled into my neck again and I giggled.
I was pretty content to just lay there in that position until morning, but Edward pulled up again to look down at me.
"Do you really think I'm a 'sex-on-legs-hottie'?"
I laughed. "You want me to call Jessica for a second opinion?"
He pursed his lips, comically.
"Bella?" he asked, after a moment.
I rolled my eyes again. "Yes?"
"Am I really your guy?"
My voice caught in my throat when I realized what I had said. "Um ... do you want to be?" I finally asked.
He gave me a goofy grin. "Yep. And you're my gal, right?"
My grin was probably just as goofy. "Yep."
I was at Sea World or some such place, hanging out with the dolphin trainers. Initially, we were walking down some stairs toward the dolphins and I looked over into the adjacent tank to see the world's biggest fucking walrus. Seriously, it was like the size of a city block. And for some reason it had what appeared to be furry feathers.
We got down to the dolphins and we started throwing little rings into the water, which the dolphins would catch and return to us. Somewhere during our game, however, the dolphins turned into Alice and Jasper and Rosalie. Wearing life jackets.
Rosalie, after catching a ring, not only returned it to us, but got out of the water and walked over to me. Her hands were both clenched into fists and she brought one up and punched the side of my head.
Knock knock knock. Knock knock knock.
Huh? Why would Rosalie knock me on the head like that? What did I do?
Knock knock knock. Knock knock knock.
"Oh my God," I groaned as I awoke. "What is that?"
As if on cue, a voice from the other side of the door yelled out a muffled "Room Service!" followed by the ever-popular and always annoying, Knock knock knock. Knock knock knock.
My hand flew to my face and I groaned again. "The hell? When did we call for room service?"
"Oh my God," Edward finally showed some life by groaning a plea to the lord. "I totally forgot. I arranged to have breakfast delivered."
"Oh, wow. That was so thoughtful."
Knock knock knock. Knock knock knock.
"You asshole," I continued grumpily, pulling my pillow over my head.
He chuckled. "I'll go let him in."
I heard the sounds of Edward moving through the room, then some hopping followed by a dull thud and a muttered "God damn it!" before the door between the bedroom and the living room was closed and I heard only the muffled voices of, presumably, Edward and the room service delivery guy.
I got up out of the bed and dragged myself to the bathroom. I almost screamed when I saw myself in the mirror. My hair was a crazy mess of knots, sticking up in several directions. I still had the previous night's make-up on and it now made me look suspiciously like a raccoon. Instead of screaming, I grabbed my toothbrush, topped it with toothpaste and got into the shower.
Never had hot water felt so good.
I didn't stay in long, however; certainly not as long as I was tempted to. Edward and my breakfast were waiting, after all. I wrapped my hair in a towel and slipped a robe around me. As I opened the bathroom door and stepped out, I thought Edward was going to push me over in his haste to enter the room.
"Jesus, Bella! I gotta pee!"
He pushed the door closed and I stood outside of it, laughing.
"You could have come in, you dork!" I said through the door.
"I can't pee in front of you!" His words, muffled by the closed door, made me laugh. 
I moved out to the living room and heard the sounds of the shower. Edward evidently had the same idea I'd had. I opened the San Francisco Chronicle, which had been delivered with our breakfast, and poured myself a glass of orange juice, sitting on the settee in the living room and waiting for him.
About five minutes later, the door to the bathroom opened and Edward moved about the bedroom.
"Would you like some orange juice?" I offered, speaking loudly so as to be heard through the open connecting door.
"Please," he said. "I'll be out in a minute."
I poured his juice and continued talking to him from the living room.
"Hey, Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize."
"Yep. Weird." I mumbled that last part. "Hey, so you never told me—can you go to the picnic with me next weekend? For Rose's birthday?"
"Ah, no can do. I've got a friend visiting from Chicago next weekend. I was gonna tell you—I think I'll pretty much be tied up the whole weekend." He walked toward me through the doorway, roughly running a towel through his hair. He had another towel wrapped low across his hips.
"Oh. Well, I'm glad we get to spend so much time together this weekend then." I kissed him as I handed him his glass of OJ.
Edward watched me over the rim of his glass as he took a sip. "I'm sorry, Bella," he said after he'd swallowed. "I really wish I could go."
I waved a hand in the air and moved toward the table. "It's no big deal. It's just a softball game."
I sat down at the table and started removing silver lids from the plates of food. My eyes were greeted by the site of scrambled eggs, potatoes, a stack of waffles covered in various fruits and pieces of melon and a grapefruit cut into two halves, each covered with plastic wrap.
"Jesus, Edward. How many people did you order breakfast for?"
He chuckled and sat down across from me. I was keenly aware that he was sitting there dressed in nothing but a towel. 
"I wasn't sure what we'd be in the mood for," he said.
I shook my head, smiling as I dished out some eggs and a waffle before bringing up the topic of conversation I had been dreading since the waiter first knocked on our door.
"So listen, Edward. I think we need to talk about something."
He paused with a piece of waffle halfway to his mouth.
"Should I be thinking 'uh-oh' right now?"
"I don't know.” I smiled. “I just ... I'm a bit concerned about what we did last night."
His eyebrows drew together as he chewed. After he'd swallowed, he said, "Okay, I know I was drunk, but I can't think of anything we did that we should be concerned about." His fork moved toward his mouth again.
"Edward, we didn't use a condom."
I thought he was going to choke on his waffle. He took a drink of water, then downed his juice and took a deep breath. The look on his face lightened then, as something apparently occurred to him.
"Wait—I thought you can't have kids."
I blushed. His just blurting it out like that made me feel a bit self-conscious.
"Um ... that's not exactly my point, Edward. That's not the only reason to use a condom."
He started to chew again and gave me a sly look as he did so. "You think I'm diseased?"
"Well, I hope not.” I rolled my eyes. “But you are the self-proclaimed man-whore, so–"
"Hey! I did not call myself a man-whore."
"No, but you did describe yourself as one," I snarked. "I merely applied the appropriate label."
He put down his fork and looked at me, obviously concerned about what I’d said. I felt kind of like a jerk for bringing it up, but I'd rather hurt his feelings a little and keep us both safe.
"Well, Edward—we've been using condoms all this time. If the only thing you were worried about is getting me pregnant, was there never a question about why we were doing that?"
He sighed. "Of course not. I get it. So what do we do now?"
"I don't know.” I shrugged. “I'm just concerned. I mean, have you ever been tested?"
"No.” He shook his head. “Have you?"
"No. I mean, I go to the doctor every year and they do blood tests, but I've never been specifically tested for any of that stuff."
"Well ... Bella, why don't we just go get tested? That way we don't have to worry about it. I gotta say, I'm a little bummed that the one time I got to have sex with you without one of those things, I was too drunk to even enjoy it for all it was worth."
I laughed softly.
"It would be nice not to have to bother with them, wouldn't it?" he asked.
"Actually, I was going to suggest the same thing myself," I chuckled again and looked up at him shyly. "I didn't know how to bring it up."
"Great minds, eh?" He grinned and started eating again.
I dug into my waffle, smiling at the taste as I chewed.
"So I have a question for you now, Bella."
He put down his fork and the look on his face told me he was serious.
"Bella, I know we've discussed this before, but are you still freaked out about our age difference?"
I shrugged. "Not really."
"Not really?"
"I'm not freaked out, Edward. I was just drunk." I knew he was concerned about our John Hughes conversation. It might not have been an entirely serious exchange, but it obviously planted a seed of doubt.
He peered at me and I took a drink of orange juice.
"Edward, I am keenly aware of our age difference. I notice when people look at us funny. I don't like knowing what people at work are saying about it. But me? Personally?" I shrugged. "Whatever. I like you." I popped another piece of waffle in my mouth and smiled.
"Well, good." He picked his fork up again, smiling. "I like you, too."
"I know," I said. "I'm a very likable character."

1 from Selected Letters of James Joyce, Edited by Richard Ellmann; Copyright 1957, 1966 by The Viking Press, Inc. Copyright 1966, 1975 by F. Lionel Monroe, as Administrator of the Estate of James Joyce.

1 comment:

  1. I think she IS bothered by the age difference! I think he is hiding something. I think their sex life it WONDERFUL! I think they like each other a lot. I think there's trouble ahead.