Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Cocky and the Cougar, Chapter Thirteen - The Invitation

Chapter 13 ~ The Invitation
I sat in my office with the door closed, my face in my hands on my desk. Carlisle had cancelled the director's meeting and I could not have been more thankful. There was no way I was up for that nonsense.
My meeting with Human Resources had gone as well as I could have hoped. They listened to my complaint about James grabbing my arm and made notes as to what I said to him subsequently. While they did ask me why I didn't come to them sooner, they didn't appear to judge me harshly. Still, though, I was mortified—horrified to admit to having flirted with James in the past, embarrassed to come clean about my present relationship with Edward and ashamed beyond belief to discuss the fight that had taken place over the weekend. I could not believe my social life had become such that we were all spending valuable company time discussing what was to be done about it.
Edward was in their offices now and I was anxious on his behalf. After speaking with the ladies in HR, I didn't think there was much they could do about the fight. It seemed to be a heated disagreement between two grown men and so long as it didn't spill over into our work situation, I didn't see how they could take any sort of corrective action. However, the fact that Victoria witnessed much, if not all, of the entire thing made matters a bit sticky, since she was one of our customers. And the fact that Edward was so new to Con-Vert left me feeling queasy. They didn't need any real reason to fire him at this point and I was afraid they wouldn't think he was worth the risk of keeping around.
"Angela!" When I heard her knock at my door, I smiled widely and rose to meet her in the middle of the room and give her a hug. 
Angela and her boyfriend, Ben, had just taken a trip to Italy and had been gone for almost two weeks. It was their first trip as a couple. She had spent weeks in a panic over what to take with her, what to wear while she was there and just what this trip would mean for their relationship. We'd had several late-night phone conversations wherein I talked her down from the proverbial ledge.
"Welcome back. How was Italy?"
"Italy was wonderful," she said as she sank into a chair in front of my desk. "Seriously? The best food on the planet. And the best wine. Even their table wine was to die for. And the most beautiful coastline."
I sat smiling at her and wishing I were headed back to Italy myself. A nice long escape sounded ideal. The sixteen days I'd spent there with Alice and Rosalie two years' prior were some of the best of my life. We'd wandered through the ruins of Rome until we thought our feet would fall off. We'd complained about not getting pinched on the Spanish Steps until Rose had finally had enough and took matters in to her own hands — literally — and pinched the rear-end of a cute Italian boy who ended up giving us a tour of the area outside the city. We shopped like maniacs and took a pasta-making class in Florence and I cried when I saw the statue of David. We took a boat to Capri and tasted Lemoncello for the first time while sitting on an outside terrace overlooking the Amalfi coast.
I sighed at my memories. "And? How did Ben like the trip?" I wagged my eyebrows at her.
"Ben? Ben is ... in love. And not just with Italy."
"Well, he was in love before you left." I smiled.
"Yes, but he still loves me. Even after seeing how much I over-pack."
I chuckled. "Well, it must be the real thing then."
Angela smiled and then peered at me across my desk, her head tilted to one side. "So Bella..."
I raised my eyebrows at her in question, even though I knew very well what was coming.
"It sounds like you've been busy since I left."
I sighed and leaned back into my seat. "Okay, so what have you heard?"
She crossed her legs, smiling. "Well, basically I heard you're hooking up with that sex on legs known as Edward Masen. He's been here two weeks? Damn, you work fast woman!"
I grinned and shook my head. "Well, yes. We are—seeing each other." 
I cleared my throat and tried to mentally convince myself that yes, I had just admitted that. Out loud.
She smiled. "Well, I knew when he asked me about you that he was interested, but damn! From what I've been hearing around here–"
I interrupted her. "Okay, A—you should know better than to believe everything you hear around here and B—what do you mean he asked you about me?"
"His first day here, right before I left on vacation.” She shrugged. “Someone must have told him we’re friends, ‘cause he came over to my desk and introduced himself. Asked me what kind of flowers you like and stuff like that."
"Stuff like ... stuff like what?"
"He asked me what kind of food you like, what kind of music you like. And the flowers, of course." The smile she had been sporting disappeared. "Bella, you're not mad are you? I thought it was sweet."
I closed my mouth, which had fallen open, and shook my head out of the daze I’d fallen into. "Um ... no, I'm not mad. It is sweet, I guess. I just had no idea." 
Never mind that he’d told me no one had coached him on my favorite flower.
"Anyway, so you're hot and heavy now?"
I looked down at my desk, smiling. "Um ... well, we're seeing each other. But, I mean, as you pointed out, it's only been two weeks." I looked up at her and shrugged, trying to remain casual. "We'll see, I guess."
"Well, he is one fine looking man, I don't mind saying. Good for you, Bella. Although, what the hell happened over the weekend? I saw him this morning and it looks like he got beat up."
"Yeah, well, he did." My smile vanished.
Her jaw fell open, her eyes wide in surprise. "What? What happened?"
"James happened."
"James, James? From Accounting, James?"
"The very guy." I nodded.
She shook her head in disbelief and asked again, "What the hell happened?"
I sighed and crossed my arms on the desk in front of me. "I can't really say, Angela. There's actually an HR investigation going on even as we speak. If I can tell you once that's over and done with, I will."
She sat back in the chair. "Wow. I go away to Italy and all hell breaks loose around here."
"I guess we can't be trusted without your calming influence.” I smiled. “No more vacations for you."
There was a knock at my door and as I looked up, Edward popped his head into the room. "Can I come in?" 
He was grinning, which I took as a good sign. I waved him in and Angela rose from her seat.
"Edward, I believe you know Angela," I said, pointedly.
"Yes, hello Angela. Welcome back." He smiled winningly and shook her hand.
Angela returned his smile before turning back to me. "Okay, I'm gonna get out of your hair." 
"You don't have to leave, Ang," I said.
"Actually, I do. After being gone, I have a ton of work on my desk."
"Well, let's go to lunch, though."
"Okay," she said. "But not today. Let me catch up with you tomorrow and we'll see if I'm still buried."
She said her goodbye to Edward and as she hit the threshold, she turned back to me and gave me two thumbs up, winking at me. I giggled as Edward sat down in front of me.
"Something funny?"
"It's nothing.” I shook my head. “Angela makes me laugh is all."
"I like her," he said. "And Ben. They seem like good people."
"Yes, they are," I said. "And I hear you had quite the conversation with her a couple of weeks ago."
He looked at the ceiling, comically. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Mmm-Hmm. Mr. Oh, I just happened to bring you Gerber Daisies, because I have great taste in flowers. I honestly had no idea they were your favorite."
"Hey, I do have great taste." He grinned.
"Well, you do in women." I winked at him and he grinned. 
"Anyway," I said, changing the subject. "How'd it go? You seem to be in a good mood..."
"I am.” He nodded. “I mean, they weren't thrilled about what happened, but they basically told me there's not a lot they can do about it unless one of us presses charges. We have to wait for their report, of course, but I feel a lot better than when I went in there this morning."
I smiled and exhaled a deep breath. "That was the feeling I got, too. I'm so relieved ... I mean, assuming James doesn't press charges against you. When I talked with Rose last night, she said Emmett said the police will just let it go, but if one of you presses charges, they'll have to pursue it."
“That would really be a douche move." He sat back in his chair.
I chuckled, humorlessly. "Precisely why it wouldn't surprise me if he did it."
Edward shook his head. "Anyway, I would think if he was gonna press charges, he would have done so by now."
"I hope so." I shrugged.
"Well ... I also talked to Carlisle." He eyed me over the desk.
"Well, he basically told me I have to watch myself. That there had better not be any more issues from me or I'll be gone. I mean, he said he thought he understood what happened with James and that I was provoked, but he essentially told me he didn't give a shit—that it was up to me to figure out how to deal with James in a," he paused, his eyes going to the ceiling, "'nonviolent and non-disruptive way.' I think that's how he put it."
"Well," I said softly. "He's right."
He sighed. "Yeah, I know he is."
"Anyway, I don't know what they're gonna do about James. I had to file a complaint against him, you know."
"Yeah, we'll see. Hopefully, he'll get fired and we won't have to worry about him anymore."
"Wouldn't that be nice?" The cynicism was as evident in my smile as it was in my tone of voice.
Edward looked at me for several moments before smiling. "Can we go to lunch today or something? I'll even meet you someplace if you don't want to be seen leaving the building with me." He sighed, smiling wider. "I just need to be with you—just us."
I chuckled. "We just spent the whole weekend together, Teddy. Aren't you sick of my ass yet?"
"I got news for you, Isabella. If I ever get tired of anything? It's not gonna be your ass."
I raised an eyebrow at him and grinned. "Well, sure. And you don't have to meet me. Let's go to lunch."
"Like a normal couple even?" The look on his face would have been comical even without the black eye and bandaged cheek.
"Exactly like a normal couple." I nodded.
Jessica knocked on my door then, and leaned into the office. "Bella, I've got Bob Jameson from Sugar Daddy's on the phone and he wants to speak with you."
Edward looked at me as he rose out of his seat. "12:30?"
I nodded at him and told Jessica to put the call through.
It was 12:35 before Edward showed up at my office again. I grabbed my purse and headed toward the door. 
"You're late, bub," I said as I approached him. "It's not nice to keep a gal waiting."
He chuckled as I passed him. "Oh, but I love to keep you waiting."
"Yes, I know," I muttered over my shoulder. "Tease."
Edward drove us to a small French-themed cafe in the Volvo, his hand trying to find its way up my skirt during the entire drive. Once we'd settled into our seats, I ordered a bowl of Tomato Basil soup and an iced tea. He had a French Dip sandwich with french fries and yet again I wondered how he managed to stay in shape when he ate garbage. I'd never even heard of him working out, let alone seen evidence of him doing it.
"So no traveling this week?" I asked.
"Just an overnighter, to Oakland." He looked at me oddly, his eyebrow raised.
"What?" I asked, since it was obvious he had something on his mind.
He shook his head slowly. "Just thought of something."
I took a drink from my iced tea and he continued to watch me, the same odd expression on his face.
"What?" I asked again, putting my glass down.
"Sorry.” He smiled. “I just had an idea and I was wondering what you'd think."
"Why don't you ask me? That's the quickest way to find out."
"Well..." His fingers played along the side of his glass, a fidgeting gesture of his I'd come to know and love. "I'm going up to Oakland Thursday night and am supposed to come home Friday afternoon."
"Okay." I picked up my glass again.
"What would you think about flying up there and meeting me in San Francisco for the weekend?"
I almost choked on a piece of lemon rind that snuck up the straw in my tea.
"You want us to go to San Francisco for the weekend?"
He grinned. "Yeah, why not? I've never been there."
"You've never been to San Francisco?"
"No.” He shook his head. “I'm from Chicago, remember? I've never been to Disneyland, either."
"Well, that's another matter entirely, but you must see San Francisco."
He continued to grin over the table at me, his hand working the condensation on his glass. "Then come show it to me."
I looked at him, contemplating. Things were moving so fast for us. On one hand, it all felt completely natural and I wanted nothing more than to spend as much time with Edward as possible. On the other, my brain sometimes screamed at me to slow things down just a tad before I suffered whiplash. I was falling for him — fast and hard — and there was no safety net.
"You really think we're ready to go away together for a whole weekend?" I asked.
Edward rolled his eyes. "Bella, we've pretty much spent the last two weekends together anyway. In San Francisco, we'll just have room service."
He had a point, there.
The waitress brought our food and placed it in front of us while he looked at me, a crooked grin sitting firmly on his lips. I loved San Francisco and I had to admit that the prospect of showing Edward around, of taking him to Vesuvio and to Mona Lisa and to have clam chowder at the wharf was extremely attractive. When the waitress left us to our lunches, I gave him my answer.
"I'll meet you on one condition."
His grin became large and he raised his eyebrows. "What might that be?"
"That you let me take you to dinner Friday night, followed by drinks at my favorite bar."
"You sayin' you want to take me out on a date, Bella?"
I nodded. "That's what I'm saying, yes."
He picked up his sandwich and dipped it in the au jus that came with it. "Well, now how can I say no to that? But don't assume I'm gonna put out just ‘cause you buy me dinner."
I rolled my eyes at him, but smiled.
I booked my flight when we returned to the office. Edward would pick me up at SFO at 6:25 on Friday evening, so I made a dinner reservation for 8:30 that night, assuming that would give us enough time to battle traffic, drop off my bags at the hotel and make it over to the North Beach section of San Francisco in time. I left the matter of where we would stay up to Edward, as he said there was some hotel he'd heard about on the Travel Channel and wanted to try. He wouldn't tell me the name of the place, but was obviously excited about taking me there, which made me smile pretty much uncontrollably all afternoon.
I worked late the next couple of nights, knowing I would be leaving work early on Friday. After getting home after eight each night, it was all I could do to run a few miles, shower and fall into bed. While I spoke with Edward, our conversations were brief.
On Wednesday afternoon, he dropped by my office.
"What do you say you actually leave here at a decent hour tonight and come over my place?"
My mouth might have fallen open just a little. I had never seen Edward's home before. "Your place?"
"Sure, why not? We'll order Chinese and I'll introduce you to the artistic merit of the latest Real World, Road Rules Challenge."
I chuckled. "What the hell is that?"
"Bella, do you not know what the word 'introduce' means?"
I sat back in my chair, crossing my legs and thrilling a bit at watching Edward's eyes caress my knee.
"Sure, I'll come over. What time and what's the address?"
I pulled up in front of his apartment building at 7:00. He lived in a mid-century modern building two blocks from the beach. It was quite charming, at least on the outside. I was wary of going inside. I'd seen my fair share of single men's apartments and as a rule they made me long to ask for a few yards of plastic sheeting before I'd agree to sit anywhere.
Edward answered the door with a huge smile on his face and potholders on each of his hands. He was still wearing the white button-down shirt he had worn to the office, but his sleeves were rolled up and a few buttons undone. He had traded in his slacks for a pair of blue jeans and his feet were bare. His hair darted off in every direction possible.
I'll admit it. Just the sight of him made my heart beat a little faster.
"Come on in, beautiful, I gotta get these things out of the oven." He winked at me.
I closed the door behind me as I moved over the threshold. "Oven?" I called after him. "I thought you said we were ordering Chinese."
I followed where I had seen him run off to and in moments beheld the site of him bending over a stainless steel oven. I whistled at the sight and giggled as he shook his ass a little, in response.
"Ooh, baby. You realize that if you were naked right now, you'd be every woman's fantasy come to life."
He turned to me, a grin on his face. "You finally ready to admit I'm every woman's fantasy, baby?"
I strolled toward him before putting a hand around his hip. "Ooh ... you missed it by this much," I said, holding my finger and thumb up to show him just how little he'd missed it by.
He grabbed me around my waist and pulled me close, kissing my lips softly. 
I craned my neck to see around him. "What are you making? What happened to Chinese?"
"Don't worry, sweet pea, we're still getting Chinese. I just put together a few little appetizers to hold us over."
I looked down at the shrimp wrapped in some sort of thin pastry and back up at Edward's face. "You made these?"
He grinned and opened a cupboard, taking down a large platter. "Well, you know ... I am quite talented in the kitchen." 
I looked at him skeptically and he shook his head, chuckling. 
"And I stopped by the frozen foods' section at Trader Joes on the way home from work."
I nodded, smirking. "Uh-huh."
Edward put a few shrimps on two small plates for us, as well as spoons full of a delicious asian dipping sauce, and walked me around the apartment, giving me the obligatory tour. It was a delightful two-bedroom place that was built in the mid-20th century and looked it, right down to the gas fire pit in the corner of the living room. He likewise had it furnished in a complementary mid-century style that I adored. I half-expected to find Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Junior standing around the corner, in the next room.
"Well, I must say, Edward, I am very impressed. Your place is adorable."
He put his plate down on the kitchen counter and put his arms around my waist, kissing my cheek. "Adorable? That's hardly an adjective most guys want to hear in connection to their pad."
"Well, then, I suggest adding a few old school video games and Raquel Welch posters and losing some of the 'Queer Eye' knick knacks."
He quirked a brow at me, pulling back slightly. "What 'Queer Eye' knick knacks?"
"Um ... the cigarette case in the living room?"
"What? That thing is from the fifties. It's sterling silver and engraved on the back."
"Uh-huh. I'm not saying I don't love it—I do. But which Queer Eye guy picked that out for you?"
He dropped his hands from my hips and I giggled at his furrowed brow. 
"That's ridiculous,” he said. “Just ‘cause it doesn't look like a frat house in here, you gotta go and make queer eye jokes."
I patted him on the back and gave him a commiserating pout while I tried to hold back the threatening chuckles. "Oh, baby. I'm sorry. I love your place, really. I'm just not used to seeing a guy's apartment in such great shape."
I barely had time to register the fact that Edward's face had adopted a devilish expression before he’d pulled me to him in a tight grip around my waist, causing me to yelp softly. He buried his face in my hair and started walking, pushing me to walk backward.
"Did you like the bedroom?" he asked, nibbling on my neck. "Have I shown you the bedroom?" He continued to walk forward, pushing me backward down the hall.
"Bedroom?" I feigned innocence, "I'm not sure I saw that one ... was that the room with the big ... bed—in it?"
Edward answered my question by pushing me backward, right into said bedroom. I giggled, looking at him as he loomed large and imposing in the doorway. He stood with his hands pressed against the wood of the threshold, leaning in. His white shirt rose high on his waist with his posture and I could see the lines of his abs poking below the bottom hem, making my mouth almost water. His eyes raked over my body hungrily, bringing a blush to my cheeks. My teeth worried my lower lip in anticipation and when he sprang toward me, I took a quick step backward reflexively, a tiny squeal coming from my throat.
Our momentum carried us onto the bed, Edward on top of me, his lips against my neck. He raised himself up on his knees and elbows, almost devouring my flesh in hungry bites and openmouthed kisses scattered across my chest and neck. He growled into my skin, making me giggle and blush. He had me panting and writhing beneath him as his hands moved to the buttons of my blouse, making quick work of them. Once my blouse was open and pushed aside, his hands moved to cup my breasts, pushing them together as his mouth moved between him. The slight stubble of his beard and mustache tickled my flesh until I was almost giggling, squirming beneath him, unable to decide if I needed him to stop his delicious teasing or to never stop.
He made the decision himself, pushing the lace of my bra down to uncover my nipple beneath it, which he took between his lips. I groaned as his tongue lapped circles around it and his teeth lightly nipped at the beaded flesh. His hand squeezed my other breast before he moved it down my body to push my skirt up around my hips. Both hands were at my hips then, pushing my panties down as I raised up to accommodate their intentions.
Edward took the back of my neck in his hand, looking me in the eye. I barely noticed that he fiddled with the waistband of his pants with his other hand. He kissed my lips softly before catching my eye again and whispering, "I can't wait tonight, Bella. I just need to fuck you." 
My heart raced as his eyes darkened. My breath caught in my throat. He held my gaze and I felt his fingers gliding along the lips of my pussy. 
"I need to be inside you." His eyes were almost pleading. "I need to fuck you now.
He pushed into me—not roughly, but I gasped at the sudden feeling of him buried inside of me. Edward threw his head back, his eyes closed. His hand gripped the back of my knee and pulled it up over his arm so that when he thrust again, he moved even more deeply inside of me.
I barely recognized the sound of my own voice as the intensity of his thrusts and movements within me forced noises from my throat I'd never sounded before. My hands gripped at his chest, his arms, his neck, trying in vain to pull him closer to me. My hips thrust forward to meet his and as he brought me to climax, I wondered, not for the first time, just how it was possible for one man's cock to be so incredibly perfect.
Edward's cock ... Not that I was an expert on penis size, but from my experience his was probably a couple of inches larger than average and had quite a bit more ... um ... I believe the word is girth. It was lovely. It just wasn't, you know, some jaw-dropping, extraordinary member at which your eyes bug upon first sight. Which is why I completely did not understand why he felt so fucking good inside of me—like nothing I had ever experienced before.
He seemed to seek out and find places inside of me that sent my heart racing and my head rocketing from my shoulders. As with the way we bantered back and forth, almost as if dancing; as with the way we kissed so perfectly in tune with one another, we moved with each other, completely in synch. It was as if we could anticipate one another's needs and moves. At these moments, we innately understood one another.
It was indescribable and I could not get enough.
Scenes from old Hollywood movies jumped to my mind when I took the time to ponder the matter: movies wherein Greta Garbo or Marlene Dietrich or someone like that was just coming down from her after-sex glow and saying, "I never knew it could be like this..." Scarlett O'Hara waking up in the morning with that huge, post-coital smile on her face...
Um ... Yeah. I hear ya, ladies.
I'd had orgasms before, to be sure. Hell, I was fourteen when I figured out how to give one to myself, so I could always show my boyfriends what made it happen for me. Sex with Edward wasn't just about the orgasms, of which, admittedly, there were many. It was ... so much more than that. It was like all of my senses were extra keyed-up when it came to him, more alive. His every touch, every movement of his lips against my skin set me on fire.
I really didn't understand it. I mean, parts is parts, right? How can all of his parts just feel so ... right?
As he crashed on top of me, his own orgasm having left him momentarily spent, I was left only to wonder as I let my hand drift through the damp curls at the back of his crazy hair. I took a deep breath and smiled, pulling him closer to me. 
"Mmm..." he groaned into my neck before he chuckled. "Bella, how is that even possible?"
I chuckled also, knowing exactly what he was talking about. I grabbed onto his hair, gently. "I don't know, but I'm very glad for it."
He pulled his face up and away, looking down at me. "No, seriously," he said. "How can sex be that good all the damn time?"
I chuckled again, shrugging. "I don't know, Edward."
"I mean, it's not just me, right? It's good for you too, right?"
I outright laughed, then. "Yes, Edward. It's very good for me." I trailed my hand along his face.
He shifted, resting on one elbow. "I keep expecting that one of these times it's just not gonna be great. I mean, I don't expect it to be bad, really, but just ... average, maybe. Somewhat ordinary. Not remarkable in any way ... but no. Every time it's just ... I mean, how is that even possible?"
I laughed again. "I really don't know, Edward."
After a few moments of silence, he looked down at the space between us. "Bella?" He swallowed. "Um ... how many—you know—partners have you had?"
My mouth fell open. "Come again?"
He smiled, obviously embarrassed. "Well, I mean, I know you were married for a long time. But you just seem so..." He looked into at my eyes, just in time to see me blush, making him smile again. "Like you really know what you're doing. I mean, does that come from experience or are you just naturally talented?" 
He nudged my thigh with his and I averted my eyes, blushing again.
"If I'm any good, it's not necessarily because of experience, you know."
"Oh? So you are just naturally talented." He nudged me again.
"Well, yes, probably," I said sarcastically, pretending to flip my hair over my shoulder. He chuckled and nudged me again.
"I just pay attention," I said.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean ... I pay attention. To you. When we're having sex. I pay attention to what you seem to like." I looked into his eyes. "I want you to enjoy being with me, so when you make it obvious that you like something, I pay attention."
He put a hand on my cheek and bent to kiss my nose softly. "Oh, I enjoy being with you," he whispered.
I smiled and blushed again. "Yes, well, lucky for me you are very vocal in showing your appreciation."
He kissed my lips, his tongue darting out to taste me briefly before he pulled his head back again.
"That's not all it is, though." He dipped his lips back to mine and I sighed against them. "‘Cause from the very first time ... it's just been ... amazing ... with you." His kisses teased me between his words and he tasted so good I wanted to catch his lips between mine and keep them there forever.
"So?" He raised his head, as well as his eyebrows. "How many?"
I chuckled and looked away from his eyes. He nudged my leg again.
"Not that many, really. I mean, I was married for thirteen years. I had a couple of boyfriends before Jake." I looked shyly up into his eyes. "And there have been a ... few since." 
He raised his eyebrows. 
"Let's just say I can still count them on my fingers and leave it at that," I said.
He chuckled and kissed my cheek as I looked up at him.
"And the answer to your other question is yes," I said.
"What question?" He raised his eyebrows again.
"The one in the back of your mind that you're dying to ask but never would. The answer is yes."
He stared down at me, his brows raised comically.
I reached my hands up behind his neck and urged his face down to mine as I raised my head to meet him. I whispered against his mouth. "You are the best. This — with us — is the best." I kissed him softly before adding, "Ever." I then kissed him not-so-softly before dropping my head back to the pillow and smiling up at him.
Edward's fingers drifted across my face, wiping away a stray hair that had become trapped in my eyelash. "Nah," he said, a shy smile on his face. "Really?"
I giggled. "Uh—yes, really. Come on, Edward. As you just inferred, it's pretty obvious that we have some kind of wicked chemistry together. You think I just have that with everyone?"
His mouth fell on mine eagerly, his tongue racing through my mouth. He lay his body across mine and his hands were on my cheeks, urgently pulling me to him until I couldn't contain my giggles and he pulled away. He looked down at me, shamefaced at his obvious excitement over what I'd said. I reached up and traced his cheekbone with my finger.
My god, he was adorable.
He bent toward me to kiss me again, but my words stopped him. 
"And?" I asked. "What about you?"
He pulled up, looking down at me. "Me?"
"How many?" I asked, rolling my eyes at his feigned innocence.
He buried his mouth in my neck. "Um..." he said against me and I chuckled, pushing him away.
"Come on now, Teddy. Fair is fair."
His eyes searched the headboard above me. "Well ... can we just say my number is higher than yours?"
"Um ... Okay, I guess." 
He dipped his head t return his lips to my neck, but I was too busy thinking about what his words implied to pay much attention. Finally, I pushed him away again.
"What does that mean, exactly?"
He huffed and pouted a little. "Well ... honestly, Bella ... I kind of lost track a long time ago."
"What do you mean you lost track?"
He became extremely interested in a loose thread at the edge of the bed sheet. "Well ... you know ... I mean, in college I kind of went nuts." He glanced at me and quickly looked away again. "And then, even after college ... you know, I was single and I went out to bars with my friends a lot and..."
I gasped and grinned at him. "You're a man-whore."
"I'm not a man-whore.” He pouted. “I just ... well, I've had a lot of fun." He shrugged, cockily. "Girls like me."
"Uh-huh.” I nodded. “Man-whore."
He tickled my sides and bent to nuzzle his face in my hair. "I'm not a man-whore," he said over my giggles. After a few moments, he pulled up and looked at me, a sweet and serious look on his face.
"And the answer, Bella, is yes."
I looked up at him, a wide smile creeping over my face as I realized what he meant. "Yeah?"
He rolled his eyes and buried his face again in my hair, nuzzling against my neck. "Uh—yeah. The best ever. Like, there is absolutely no comparison."
He looked down into my face. "Yes."


  1. glad HR went easy on them, but it remains to be seen if James does....they are so cute together and yes, he probably is a man-whore....

  2. I wonder, would Edward have been as accepting as Bella with respect to the number of past partners and how they arose had the roles been reversed ie Edward married and Bella single for so long? I have to admit that I prefer the characters to be as SM originally wrote them but where's the fun in that reading the same stuff over and over? Likewise I tend to be more 'forgiving' of the character of Edward than Bella for any 'negative' stuff ... maybe it's because Bella wasn't a favourite in the original.
    I'm really enjoying reading this, looking forward to more Emmett and of course more Edward.

    PS James is really freaking me out, well done on converting James the vampire