Chapter 24 ~The Apologies
"Hey." I stopped him when we reached the top of the stairs. "I'm sorry. I acted like an ass."
He wrapped an arm around my shoulders and kissed the top of my head, leading me down the stairs. "S'okay. You're under just a bit of stress these days."
I smiled at his understanding. "Yes, but still ... I shouldn't take it out on you."
"Well, you're forgiven. The highs of the last hour more than compensated for the lows."
We rounded the corner and I grabbed his hand as I headed for my office.
"Come to my office with me?" I asked, pulling him in that direction.
"Want to initiate your office now?" He winked.
I glanced around, thankful that we seemed to be the last ones in the building. "Uh-no. Don't count on office sex ever again. I don't know what I was thinking. At least it was the end of the day."
"I don't think you were thinking. And I think I like you that way."
He wrapped his arm around my neck again and leaned in to nibble at my ear as I tried, albeit halfheartedly, to squirm away from his lips.
"You know, since you're leaving tomorrow ... might you like to have dinner?” I asked. “Maybe we could order a pizza at your place."
The arm around my neck pulled me tighter to him. "Hmm ... sounds appetizing. Does this mean I might have an overnight guest?"
I shrugged, as much as I could with his arm wound so tightly around me. "Well, since I apparently have no willpower, I figure we might as well go for a double-header."
He dropped his hand and smacked my ass as I walked through my office door in front of him.
"How about a trifecta?"
I smirked at him as I started to shut down my computer. "God, I love younger men."
I agreed to meet him at his place later that evening and I stopped by Rose's to change into a pair of sweats and a T-shirt, pack an overnight bag and let her know I would be spending the night at Edward's. She interrogated me on the wisdom of doing so for a full five minutes before I reminded her that I was an adult and that this also left the house clear for a romantic evening with Emmett.
She stopped me before I walked out the door. "It's not that I don't like him, you know," she said. "I'm just worried about you."
"I know." I hugged her. "I love you, Rose. I'll see you tomorrow. I'll be late, though. Remember, I'm meeting Jake for dinner."
"Ah, yes," she said. "Dinner with the ex. I won't wait up."
I wrinkled my nose in disgust. "Don't make me vomit, Rose."
Edward was holding the phone to his ear when he answered the door. His hair was damp and he wore a pair of blue jeans. That's it. Granted, he might have been wearing underwear, but were I a betting gal, I wouldn't have placed any money on that.
He disconnected his call with a "Thank you," while I closed the door and dropped my small bag on the floor in front of it. When he turned back to me, still with his cordless phone in his hand, I didn't even wait for a greeting. I wrapped my hands around his neck and pulled him close in a deep kiss. I felt a smile against my lips, I heard the soft thump of the phone hitting the rug as my tongue met his, and then his hands were in my hair. I couldn't help but run my hands along his sculpted chest. It had been so long since I'd felt him against me in this way. I wanted nothing more than to strip down and feel his skin against mine.
He gave a soft grunt as I explored his body and his own hands dropped to my backside, pulling me tightly to him. I moaned, feeling that he was again hard for me, and again I thanked my lucky stars for younger men. Well, for this younger man, anyway.
Not breaking our kiss, he moved his hands beneath me and lifted as I jumped a little and wrapped my legs around his hips. He walked me, slowly and a trifle awkwardly, to the sofa in the living room, where he lay me down on my back and settled on top of me. My hands ran down the smooth, warm skin of his back. Only then did he remove his lips from mine.
"Christ, I've missed you," he said, looking down into my eyes.
"I've missed you, too," I admitted with a sigh.
His eyes took in my face as he brushed the hair from my forehead. He rested over me, essentially on all fours, his knees between mine.
"So are we really, you know, back together?" he asked. "For real?"
"It would appear so." I smiled and tried to tickle his ribs.
"Bella..." He shifted away from my hand at his side, seeming frustrated with my deceivingly casual response.
I leaned up to kiss his lips. "Yes, Edward. I don't want to be apart anymore."
He smiled as he kissed me again before pulling back to look intently into my eyes. His own eyes reflected bit of sadness.
"Bella," he said, softly. "When I thought I lost you–"
I started to interrupt him, but he stopped my words with a light kiss before continuing.
"When I thought I lost you..." Though his words faded, the look on his face told me everything about the pain he was in. "Bella, I've never been through anything like that." He kissed me again. "I don't ever want to go through anything like that again."
I ran a hand through his hair, ending by cupping his jaw in my hand. My heart ached for him. Not that he didn't deserve a little pain, after what he did, but I knew how miserable I had been without him. For me, it had been almost unbearable.
"Me, neither," I said. "Let's see what we can do about that." I kissed his lips tenderly. "Now can we cut out the mushy stuff and screw?"
Edward chuckled and started to pull away slightly. "Actually, you'll have to rein it in for just a while."
I shifted my hips beneath him and dropped my hands to his ass, holding him to me. I was quite pleased with the look on his face and the soft groan he tried to hold back at my actions.
"Why are you playing hard to get, all of a sudden?" I asked, my fingers dipping below the top of his jeans.
Just as I suspected. No underwear.
He chuckled again. "My dear, I am not hard to get. But I already ordered our pizza and I'd rather not get caught with my pants down."
I pouted and he dipped his head to catch my lower lip between his.
"Besides," he whispered huskily, "we already rushed through this once today. I fully intend to take my time next time."
I slipped my hands up his naked back and pulled him tightly to me as we kissed again. As one hand moved back down over his smooth skin, I again slipped my fingers down into his jeans only slightly, feeling the soft curve of his ass as his tongue mingled with mine. His kisses moved to my neck and he whispered in my ear.
"But we can make out until then."
I grinned, even as my heart jumped in my chest. "Yeah?"
"Maybe a little heavy petting."
His hand slipped up inside my T-shirt until he cupped my breast. I moaned as I felt his thumb drift over my nipple and felt him smile against my skin.
"God, you smell good," he said, his lips still drifting across my neck. "Why do you always smell so good?"
"Because I like to drive you crazy?" My voice sounded shaky in my ears and I inhaled sharply as his fingers drifted again over my nipple. I gripped his ass with my hand and shifted my hips against him.
Edward chuckled against my lips as he kissed them before pulling away. He lifted my T-shirt, his warm fingers tickling my skin. Looking down at me, he asked, "Who is driving who crazy?"
"Oh, you're driving me crazy, all right."
He grinned as his fingers slipped beneath the silk of my bra and I gasped. I pulled his face to mine and kissed him deeply. My tongue swirled around his, mimicking the dance his fingers played across my breast. He moaned as my fingers played through his hair, tugging at it lightly.
He broke our kiss and his mouth joined his hand at my breast, his tongue running over my hardened nipple before he nibbled at it, lightly. I squirmed beneath him, pushing against the hardness I felt beneath his jeans. I felt my face flush with heat as the seam of his button-fly pressed deliciously against me, hitting me in precisely the right spot.
"Fuck, Edward." I gripped his shoulders as his lips tugged at my flesh. "I want you."
He hummed against my breast and his hand slipped over my ass to my thigh, gripping me behind the knee and hitching it over his hip.
"It's been too long, Edward. Please."
He started to chuckle and looked up from my chest, meeting my eyes. "It's been like two hours."
"Well, yes, but I only came once. That was just enough to whet my appetite."
He grinned down into my face. "You are greedy, aren't you?" His tongue slipped between my lips as the hand behind my knee pulled me even closer to him.
I rotated my hips, pushing against him, and felt his moan in my mouth as much as I heard it. He started thrusting slowly against me, his cock hard beneath his now-annoying jeans. I was panting as his lips moved over my throat, sucking and licking at my flesh. My heart was racing and I couldn't help but push my hips against him, meeting his subtle thrusts.
"Fu– Edward. Don't stop. Please don't stop."
"Yeah?" He whispered his question in my ear before biting down on its lobe softly.
I ran my hands ran down his back until I gripped his ass. My thighs wrapped around his as his lips returned to my breast. A familiar and always divine tingling enveloped my body as his thrusts against me became more insistent. He nibbled at my breast and I wound my fingers through his hair, holding him tightly to me.
"God. Edward. Yes!"
My body tensed and then convulsed in orgasm and he growled into my chest, his long fingers squeezing my ass as he continued to move against me.
"Fuck, Bella. You're gonna make me come."
I bit down on his neck where it met his shoulder and as my hands gripped him to me, I felt his muscles tense as he did just that, emitting a loud groan.
He lay on top of me, his face buried in my chest, while we each caught our breath. I ran my hands again up and down the luxuriant, velvet skin of his back. I smiled, my eyes closed.
It felt very good to be home.
"Holy shit," he said, pushing up with his arms and looking down at himself. "I just made a mess in my pants like I'm a teenager."
I laughed and smoothed his damp hair away from his face. "I'll grant you, it's been a while, but I don't remember making out on the sofa being quite that much fun when I was a teenager."
He chuckled as he rose from the couch, rather awkwardly. "I need to go change, okay?"
As I smiled and nodded, the doorbell rang.
"Shit," he said. "Get the pizza, will you? While I go clean up?" He removed several bills from his pocket and handed them to me.
I raised an eyebrow at him. "I just made you come and now you're handing me wads of cash? This really doesn't look good."
He smiled and kissed me lightly on the cheek. "Just get the pizza, kay?"
He rushed off to his bedroom while I opened the door, chuckling. The delivery boy handed me our dinner and, after paying him and shutting the door, I put the pizza and salad on the dining room table before going to the kitchen to retrieve plates, napkins and utensils. I was opening his refrigerator to see what he had to drink when he snuck up behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist and making me jump.
He kissed my neck before asking, "What would you like to drink?"
"I was just investigating my options."
Edward stood beside me and looked in the fridge. He was still shirtless, thank God, and was now wearing a pair of grey sweats. "Well, I have beer and I have ... beer."
I chuckled. "I think I'll have a beer."
He grabbed two beers and shut the refrigerator door. "Sorry about that," he said as we made our way to the dining table. "I didn't realize I was so low on supplies."
"You didn't even know I was going to come over, Edward. It's okay." I took a seat at the table. "Besides, I like beer."
"Good." He grinned at me as he opened the pizza box.
I gasped as I looked at the pizza. "Edward! You got a Margherita pizza." I had a hand on my heart as I smiled at him.
"That's your favorite, right?"
He smiled, expectantly, and he seemed so much like a little boy, eager to please, that I couldn't help but smile widely in return.
I nodded. "You're so thoughtful."
He shrugged as he sat down across from me. "Figured I might as well try it. I see many shared pizzas in our future." He winked at me.
We dished up food and started eating and I was still smiling. It's amazing what an orgasm, followed by the delivery of one's favorite pizza, can do for one's disposition.
"So listen," I said. "We'll have something to celebrate when you get home."
I nodded, taking a drink from my beer. "My divorce becomes final this week."
His smile was huge. "Really? I'll no longer be carrying on a torrid affair with a married woman?"
"Wow. It sounds much more interesting when you say it that way. Perhaps I should put the divorce on hold." I winked at him.
I swallowed a bite of pizza before I filled him in on what was happening.
"In fact, Jacob and I are having dinner tomorrow night, to sort of say our last good-byes."
"Wait. What?" Edward stilled, a fork full of salad halfway to his mouth.
I put down my own fork. "Jake and I are meeting for dinner tomorrow."
"Are you fucking nuts? You're doing no such thing."
I let my raised eyebrow remind him that he was in no position to tell me what to do.
He was indignant. "Bella, someone is stalking you and your ex-husband now wants to meet you for dinner the night before your divorce becomes final?"
I rolled my eyes. "Jacob is not my stalker, Edward."
"And you know this because..." He waved his fork in the air in front of him.
"Because I was married to the man for more than a decade and I think I know him."
He watched me, silently, as I took another bite of pizza. I stared back at him before finally rolling my eyes again as I swallowed.
"Just stop, Edward. Jacob had me, remember? He didn't want me anymore."
"Yeah, well, then he's an idiot." He resumed eating.
"An idiot, yes. A psychopath, no."
After a moment of silence, he grimaced. "But why do you need to have dinner with him?"
"Well, I don't need to. But I am. We're just ... I don't know. Saying goodbye. Over Chinese food. And honestly, I would like to know how he's doing. I haven't even spoken to the man in a really long time."
"So? Why do you need to speak to him?" He picked up his beer. "I don't like it."
He stared at me for a long time until I sighed and put down my fork.
"Edward, it's just dinner. We'll be in a public place. I'll call you right after we're done, okay?"
"Do I have a choice?"
"Not really, no."
"Well, then, I guess I have to say okay don't I?" He gave me a large and obviously fake smile.
After a moment, I wiped my mouth on a napkin and rose from my chair. I walked over to him and squeezed between him and the table, sitting on his lap.
"Edward, please don't worry about this. I know you don't know Jacob, but he is not a stalker."
His face distorted in a frown and, even with that look, he was gorgeous and I felt compelled to smile. I ran my fingers through the hair curling behind his ear.
"It's not even just the stalking issue, Bella ... I just ... I don't like the thought of you going out with him. I mean, you were married to the guy."
"Were married, Edward." I bent to briefly kiss the jaw porn.
"I know, but ... I mean, Christ, we just got back together. What would you say if I was having dinner with an ex-girlfriend?"
I didn't even answer. Because I knew I wouldn't like it much. But I also knew that there was nothing left between Jake and me and that there was no reason for Edward to be jealous.
"Edward," I whispered in his ear and then kissed it. "I love you." I nibbled at his earlobe and then licked the flesh behind it. "I want only you."
"Yeah, well, you say that now." He was pouting a little. It was adorable. "I mean, I've seen the guy's sweats. He's huge."
I chuckled softly and kissed his neck. My hand moved over his chest. "Trust me, Edward. Nobody has ever made me feel the way you do."
I shifted on his lap as my lips played along his collar bone. As his hands cupped my face, I looked into his earnest eyes.
I shook my head. "Nobody."
He pulled my face to his and kissed me urgently, almost desperately. I was awed by how his kisses always telegraphed his every thought and feeling. This kiss told me he wanted to claim me somehow, to bind me to him.
He pulled away and rested his forehead against mine, his eyes closed. His hands remained at my face. "I'm sorry, Bella. I don't know—I mean, I have never been jealous before. This is all just so ... and now, with some freak doing all these things to you, I just worry so much and I feel so helpless all the time." He opened his eyes to look into mine. "I really don't want to leave you."
"I know.” I sighed. “I wish you didn't have to go, too."
I could practically see the wheels turning in his head as he considered his options. "Maybe I could–"
I interrupted him, pulling back a little. "You know you have to go, Edward."
"I could reschedule." His hand drifted down my arm, squeezing it lightly.
"To what end? We don't know what's going to happen here. They might not find my stalker for a very long time, if they ever do. What, you're just never going to travel again? It's your job, Edward."
He sighed, looking down. His hand dropped to my thigh. "I know. But it's ... hard."
I gave him a saucy look and wiggled a little on his lap. "Oh? How hard is it?"
His breath caught as he quickly looked up at me. He had an odd look in his eyes, as if he sensed that I was using sex to distract him even while he found my comment amusing.
Finally, he chuckled, content to let us fall back into our earlier, playful pattern.
"Jeez, Bella, what do you think I am, a machine?"
"Hey, you're the one who's always touting the benefits of being a younger man."
"Well, even I need some recovery time."
I looked at him with a raised eyebrow, a smirk on my face. "That sounds like a challenge, to me."
I slipped from his lap, settling on my knees between his and skimming my hands down his chest.
"Bella," he said, a smirk now on his own face. "What are you doing?"
I stretched up to kiss him, my tongue running along his lower lip. "Stepping up to the challenge," I said against his lips. I kissed his nipple, running my tongue around it and smiling as I heard his reaction, a sharp intake of breath. "Or, you know, kneeling up to it."
His chuckle abruptly turned to another sharp intake of breath as I ran my fingers along the inside of his thighs, smoothing them alongside his balls through his sweatpants. I ran my palm over his cock and it twitched beneath my hand. I looked up at him with a raised eyebrow and a smirk.
"Care to place a wager on your recuperative powers, once I get started?"
His eyes were already darkening as he looked down at me. "Bella, if I've learned nothing else over the past few months, I've learned never to bet against you."
I stretched up to give him another kiss, my tongue running around his, hinting at how it would soon run around the head of his cock. I gave him a little squeeze through his sweats as I pulled away. "You're a smart man." I snuck my fingers into the top of his sweats. "Now lift."
He lifted his hips so I could easily slide his sweats down over them and to the floor where they pooled at his ankles. Once I'd done so, I ran my hands up his legs and again up the inside of his thighs, along his balls. He loved it when I did that and his soft groan in reaction to my touch made me smile. I took his semi-hard cock in one hand while cupping his balls with the other and bent my head toward him, running my tongue in circles around the sensitive tip before wrapping my lips around it.
He squirmed in his seat and I smiled up at him, my lips barely wrapped around the head of his cock, my tongue flicking over it.
"Fuck, you're beautiful, Bella."
I chuckled around him before plunging my head down, taking him deep in my mouth. Since he wasn't fully hard yet, I had room to run my tongue in circles around him as I pulled back up, sucking all the while. I smiled as I repeated the motion, feeling him get harder in my mouth and listening to his gasps and muttered shits and fucks. One more trip and he was so hard that I no longer had room to move my tongue in the same way and had to be satisfied with running it around the head only.
I lifted my head, pulling his cock from my mouth and squeezing him with my hand as I smiled up at him. "Now what was that you said about needing time?"
In a split second, his hands were under my arms and I squealed as he lifted me to my feet. He almost tripped over his sweats before he successfully kicked them aside and he pushed me ahead of him, toward his bedroom. He guided me to the bed and I turned to sit on the edge, pulling him toward me, surrounding his throbbing cock with my hands.
"I wasn't finished, Teddy," I said, sternly.
I wrapped my lips around him again, feeling his hand in my hair at the back of my head. I looked up and his head was thrown back as I sucked and toyed with him. I pulled softly on his balls, which I knew he liked, and he looked down at me.
"Bella..." The look in his eyes was fierce. "You still want me to fuck you, baby?"
"Mmm-hmm," I moaned around his cock, causing him to smile darkly down at me.
He reached down, grasping my T-shirt at the shoulders and lifting it, and I separated myself from his cock so he could pull my shirt over my head. Once he had done so, he again lifted me, his hands under my arms, and almost threw me back on the bed.
I giggled as he moved over me, kissing me fiercely before moving his mouth down my throat. He bit into my neck as his hand grasped at my breast, causing me to cry out in pleasure. His hands moved behind me and he deftly unhooked my bra and pulled it down my arms, throwing it to the floor. His hand and mouth greedily fell to my breast and he nipped at my flesh until I was squirming and panting beneath him, pushing his hand down between my legs.
"You want me to touch your sweet pussy, baby?"
His words made me blush, even as they set me on fire. He didn't wait for an answer, though, before his hands were sliding into the waistband of my sweats, pulling them down and off. On his knees between my legs, he bent to kiss the tender flesh inside my knee and ran his tongue up my thigh. When he reached my center, he inhaled deeply before moving up to kiss my belly. He littered kisses across my ribs and my chest before nibbling at my neck. His fingers glided over my slit before finding my clit and circling it, making me jerk and grind against his hand.
"I'm gonna make you come so hard, Bella."
His words were soft in my ear as he dipped a finger inside me and I moaned desperately at the promise I knew he would keep.
"I just want to know one thing," he continued as he held my clit between two fingers. "Do you want my mouth on that hot pussy of yours or do you want my hard cock inside of you?"
I could feel a blush again covering my face as I pulled him to me, fisting my hand in his hair and shoving my tongue in his mouth. When I pulled away, I whispered, "I want it all."
He grinned down at me. "As you wish," he said, and he moved down my body, spreading kisses and nibbles along the way. He wasted little time, finding my clit with his tongue and sucking it between his lips as he slipped a finger inside of me. I felt him hum against me as I writhed against his face, reaching down to pull him tightly to me. In only moments, I was screaming his name, my legs tensing as my stomach contracted, lifting my torso off the bed as I came, almost violently.
I didn't even have time to catch my breath and he was over me, kissing my mouth. I glimpsed him rolling a condom on and then his fingers bit into the flesh of my thighs as he wrapped my legs around his hips and pushed, almost abruptly, into me. My eyes flew open and I gasped at the feel of him, fully encased within me. He withdrew quickly, almost entirely, before ramming himself back inside with a grunt. His hand was at my ass and he held me to him, lifting me from the bed as he fucked me, hard and fast, holding himself up with his other hand on the mattress. I watched the muscles of his bicep bulge with his efforts, glistening with the sweat that now coated his body. He dropped his head to my shoulder and I held onto his.
"Edward." I moaned his name as another climax built quickly. He felt inordinately big and hard inside of me and his fingers gripped at my back and my ass as I called his name again in orgasm. "Fuck! Edward!"
As my orgasm subsided, he slowed his movements, settling me fully onto the mattress and removing his hand from my back, caressing my hip and trailing his fingers along my side, toward my breast. He bent down to kiss my hardened nipple softly, lovingly.
"You feel so good, baby," he whispered in my ear before he ran his tongue along the sensitive flesh behind it. The frantic, almost violent passion of only minutes before was replaced with slow, deep, gentle and loving movements and whispered words of love and adoration as he ran his tongue along my chest and neck. When I came again, wrapping my arms around his neck and arching toward him, desperate to cling to his body, tears slipped down my cheeks and into my hair before he could bend to kiss them away, his own orgasm following seconds later.
He held me like that, laying on top of me and holding himself up on his elbows, for untold minutes while he softly kissed my cheeks before lifting his head and to look down into my face.
"Trifecta," he said, grinning triumphantly.
I was to meet Jake at Wong's at 7:00. At 7:10, I was sitting at a table, drinking hot tea by myself and thinking I would give him five more minutes before I ordered food to go. A moment later, I felt his large, warm hand on my shoulder and I looked up to see his smiling face. He bent to kiss me on the cheek before he sat across from me.
"On time as always," I said. "I don't know why I bothered to be here at seven."
"Sorry about that," he said. "You think I was bad before, try getting anywhere on time when you have a kid."
He sighed deeply and we sat in awkward silence for several moments before the waiter came over to ask for Jacob's drink order. He ordered a beer and then simply looked at me for a while longer before smiling.
"You look lovely, Bella," he said. "As always."
"Thank you," I said. "You look good, too."
He did. He'd obviously lost a bit of weight since I'd last seen him and his black, straight hair was shorter. He was starting to get the tiniest bit of grey at his temples, but it looked good on him. It finally made his perpetual baby-face appear slightly older. And the smile he wore seemed genuine. He looked happy and I told him so.
"I am," he said, still smiling.
After doing away with the business of ordering, we settled in, Jake drinking his beer and I, my tea.
"So how are you, Bella? Work going well?"
"I'm doing well, thanks. And yes, work is going very well."
He grinned at me as the waiter brought our soup. "Still kicking ass?"
I raised an eyebrow at him. "What do you think?"
He chuckled and picked up his soup spoon, shaking his head. "That's my Bella."
I bristled a bit at him calling me his Bella, but I let it go.
"What else is going on?" he asked. "Are you seeing anybody?"
"I am." I nodded.
He raised his eyebrows. "Is it serious?"
I blew on my soup before answering. "It is, actually. Quite serious."
"Really? So what's this man's name?"
"Hmm ... and where did you meet?"
I shrugged. "Well, we met at a bar, but I work with him."
He paused, his soup spoon on his way to his mouth. "He works with you? Well, that's surprising. The Bella I knew wouldn't have taken a chance like that." He chuckled and shook his head.
"Well, the Bella you knew was too busy trusting in her husband to think about getting it on with someone at work."
We both stopped eating and an uncomfortable silence fell over the table. We sat for a moment before I set down my soup spoon and sighed.
"I'm sorry, Jake. I don't know why I said that."
He shook his head, looking down at his soup. "It's okay. You're angry. You have every right to be."
"But I'm not even angry anymore."
He peered at me.
"Honestly,” I said. “This is just—weird."
He chuckled and sat back in his seat. "Yes, I guess it is. Do you know that I was actually nervous about coming here tonight?"
I chuckled, too. Jacob didn't get nervous about much. "So why are we here, then?"
"I just wanted to see you, one last time." He shrugged and finished off his soup. "And honestly?"
Before he could continue his thought, the waiter brought out the rest of our food: egg rolls, two entrees and brown rice. Once he had left the table, I looked back to Jake.
"Honestly?" I repeated, prompting him to continue. I was far less interested in my dinner than I was in whatever revelation Jake was going to make about why he'd called this little meeting.
"Honestly?” He began to dish food onto his plate. “I wanted to apologize."
I narrowed my eyes at him. "Apologize? For what?"
"You don't think I have anything to apologize for?" He smiled, ruefully.
"Well, certainly. I can think of a litany of things you should apologize for, but since we split, you and I haven't exactly been on the same page with that."
Jacob chuckled and bit into an egg roll. "Well, maybe I'm beginning to see your side of things. I'm sorry for all of it. For the way I treated you. But most of all, for the disrespect I showed you by cheating on you. In your home."
My mouth fell open as I watched him eat. When he finally looked at me, he raised his eyebrows at the shocked expression on my face.
"What is this about, Jake? You haven't found out you have some life-threatening disease and feel the need to make amends or something, have you?"
He shook his head, again grinning. "There's no ulterior motive. Look, things worked out the way they should have. I love Rachel and I wouldn't trade my life now for anything. I even love being a father, if you can believe that, although I will admit that I was scared shitless and not at all happy about it right up until the moment we brought her home. But having a daughter opened my eyes to some things. And one of them was that, if anyone ever shows her the same disrespect that I showed you, I will pull his balls from his body extremely slowly and shove them down his throat."
My mouth fell open again and I wished I'd ordered a cocktail.
"I can't help the timing of when I fell in love with Rachel," he continued. "But I never should have handled things the way I did. You never did anything to deserve that."
I finally shut my mouth and sat back in my seat, watching him for a moment as he casually ate from his enormous plate of food. Once I had my wits about me again, I finally started dishing up food of my own.
"Wow," I said. "Jacob, I appreciate your saying all of that. I'm shocked, but I appreciate it."
He chuckled, still eating. The man had always had the largest appetite of anyone I'd ever known, and nothing ever seemed to stop him from eating. Not many people could acknowledge screwing up to the point of deserving to be manually castrated and force-fed their own genitalia without missing a bite. Jacob was one of a kind.
We ate in silence for several moments, my mind still reeling from his speech. I occasionally looked up from my food, mystified to find him smiling warmly at me.
"So how's the kid?" I finally asked, unsettled by his constant gaze.
"Her name is Renesme."
I stopped with my fork halfway to my mouth, staring at him and trying not to burst out laughing.
Jacob put down his own fork and gave me a pointed look.
"What?" he asked.
"Why are you giving me that look?"
I put down my fork. "Jacob, when you choose to name your kid Renesme, you'd better get used to people giving you strange looks."
He sighed and looked at the ceiling. "I know. It's a horrible name. Rachel wanted to name her after both her mother and her stepmother, so that's what she came up with."
I grinned, internally laughing my ass off. "Well, it was nice in theory, anyway."
"I call her Nessie."
I almost choked on my egg roll. "Yes, because calling her the nickname for the Loch Ness Monster is so much better than Renesme." I shook my head and started giggling, unable to control myself. "You'd better start saving now for her therapy bills."
"Ha-ha," he said sarcastically, but he smiled in spite of himself.
The exchange seemed to fully break the ice and we spent the rest of the evening in pleasant conversation. He filled me in on what was happening at the university, who was sleeping with whom, who had papers being published and who had been denied tenure. I told him about Edward and we had a good chuckle at the irony of my dating a younger man. He inquired as to the welfare of Rose and Alice. We even managed to reminisce a little and laugh quite a bit. Before I knew it, we had cracked open our fortune cookies and he was paying the bill.
"So what did Rachel think of you taking me to dinner tonight?" I asked as he walked me out to my truck.
He shrugged. "It was her idea, actually."
I was about to ask for the details of that when he stopped abruptly.
"Jesus, Bella!" he said, his eyes wide. "What happened to your truck?"