Chapter 23 ~ The Weakness
After a stop by his place so he could change clothes, and then a sinful breakfast during which I consumed my weight in blueberry pancakes, Edward stayed with me while I had my truck towed and new tires put on it. We chatted with Jasper and a very hungover Alice while we waited for the tow truck and filled them in on the goings on of the previous night.
We decided to go our separate ways after my truck was again serviceable and I drove to Rosalie's. I knew he was bummed that I wasn’t staying with him, but he at least tried not to show it much and to be supportive of my position on the matter.
"I'm probably not going to work tomorrow," I told him as we stood by my truck, saying goodbye. I leaned against the driver's side door and he stood in front of me, rubbing my arms.
He looked almost sad. "Well, I wouldn't expect so. Christ, I hate Director's Meetings without you. I can call you though, right?"
I smiled and put a hand to his face. He really needed a shave. The stubble on the sharp angles of his strong jaw was incredibly alluring and I shivered at the thought of his running it along my neck. And my belly. And my thighs.
I cleared my throat as I raked my nails lightly through his stubble and smiled up at him. "Edward, of course. This isn't that kind of goodbye, silly bean."
"I know.” He smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes. “It just feels ... weird. Leaving you now. At a time like this."
I parted my legs, slightly as he wrapped his arms around my waist and moved closer. "I know, but I'll be fine at Rosalie's. Give me a call later so we can say goodnight."
He gave me a kiss that almost sent me into cardiac arrest before finally backing away and holding the door open as I climbed into the cab of my truck on Jell-O legs. He smirked cockily as he leaned in for another quick kiss before finally letting me go. I drove away smiling and feeling really good for the first time all day.
My cell phone rang just as I pulled in front of Rosalie's town home and I flipped it open with the smile still planted on my face.
"I said call me tonight. Miss me already?"
"Well, I haven't seen you in almost a year so it's only right that I miss you sometimes."
"What the—Jake?" I pulled the phone away from my ear and looked at the caller ID. It was, indeed, Jacob. I heard his deep chuckles as I brought the phone back to my ear.
"Yes, it's Jake. Nice to know you still recognize my voice, anyway."
"Sorry," I said. "I just ... I was expecting somebody else."
"Evidently. Should I be jealous?"
I felt a hardness settle into my face. So much for feeling good. "Did you call just to irritate me, Jake? Because I am really not in the mood for your bullshit today."
He chuckled again. "Of course not, no. I apologize. I'm calling about dinner. What evening are you free?"
"You're assuming I've agreed to go to dinner with you."
"Well ... yes, I am. What, do you hate me now? We can't have dinner?"
"Of course I don't hate you, Jake. But ... well, what's this about?"
He paused before answering. "Not much, honestly. But, you know, our divorce becomes final this week."
I sat back in my seat as the realization sank in.
"I guess it does, at that." With everything going on, I had completely forgotten about my pending divorce.
"So I just thought we could go out one last time. The Last Supper, if you will. I'd just like to catch up. Find out what's going on with you these days."
"Well, that should be quite a conversation." I chuckled bitterly.
We agreed to meet on Wednesday night. I picked that evening, knowing Edward would be out of town.
"Can we meet at Wong's?" he asked. "I haven't been there in so long."
Wong's had been our favorite place to eat Chinese when we were married. He and I used to go there once a week.
"Sounds good.” I shrugged. “I haven't been there myself in a few months."
Once we'd decided on a time and I ended the call, I got out of the truck and locked her up, grabbing my bag from the back before I walked up to Rose's front door.
"Hey there, Sweet Tits!"
She pulled me in for a hug so tight I thought my ribs might break.
"Rose, I'm suffocating."
She pulled back, but kept an arm around me as she grabbed my bag in her other hand and ushered me inside.
"Sorry, doll. I've been worried about you."
"You're sweet, thank you."
We sat on the sofa in her living room and I relaxed back into it with a loud exhale.
"How ya feelin'?" She asked from her seat next to me. She looked lovely, with one long leg tucked underneath her. She'd recently trimmed her hair and it's soft curls bounced around her face.
I smiled as I shrugged. "Not too bad, really. At least, when I can keep myself from obsessing about it."
"So ... how are things with Edward?" She seemed hesitant to ask, which was so unlike Rosalie it made me chuckle.
I shrugged again. "All things considered, they're good, actually. You know, we're trying to take it slow this time, but with all this craziness..."
"You gave in?" She raised her eyebrows at me.
"What? No ... Not yet, anyway. It's just—hard not to." I slid my hand over the fabric of her sofa.
"Uh-huh." She had a knowing smirk on her face.
"Well, you know—we've already done it. It would be far easier if I didn't know what I was missing. Plus, he's just being so sweet and protective and Christ he was sexy in that caveman costume and—aarrgghh!" I balled my hands into fists and shook them while Rosalie laughed.
"Some friend you are. Laugh at my predicament while you're getting it on the regular from the hunky mayor." I was chuckling too, though.
"That I am," she said, smugly.
"In better news," I said, changing the subject, "my divorce becomes final this week."
"Really? Fuck, it's about time!"
"Tell me about it.” I smiled. “Our attorneys will be in court on Thursday and we should get the papers shortly after that. Once we sign them, that will be that."
"We'll have to celebrate! We should have a girls' night out once you get the final papers."
We talked and laughed for a couple of hours and then decided to open a bottle of wine and ate a salad, settling in to watch a repeat of that week's Real Time with Bill Maher. Filling myself with righteous anger over the state of our national politics was a great way to get my mind off my own troubles.
After talking with Edward on the phone for a while, I fell into an extremely fitful sleep, tossing and turning most of the night. I couldn't stop thinking about what Rose had implied earlier that morning. I was relieved that she hadn't brought it up again, but her suspicions about Edward weighed heavily on my mind. When I looked at everything objectively, I could easily see where he’d had the opportunity to have placed calls to my home, arranged for or made deliveries, even left that precious little "gift" on my doorstep. The fact that I received none of these things while he was with me seemed especially suspect. His following me home the night we met wasn't working in his favor, either.
However, try as I might, I couldn't reconcile the man I knew with a man who could do those things—the man who gently ran his fingers over the scars on my stomach, the man who held me with such tenderness after getting punched in the face, the man who looked at me with such wonder when we made love. He might have been wrong not telling me about La Perla Bimbo, but it was a huge leap from that to leaving a pig's heart on my doorstep. I just couldn't see it. When I thought of Edward, I thought of fun and passion and comfort and acceptance. He had sometimes made me incredibly angry, but he had never made me feel afraid. Not for my personal safety. If anything, I felt safe with him; I didn't feel I needed to be protected from him.
I worried for a while that I was letting what I loved about Edward cloud my judgment, but as the sky outside the window of Rose's guest bedroom lightened and I sat up and stretched, I decided to let that worry go. I'd always had very good instincts and I was going to trust them.
I rose from bed and made Rose an egg white frittata with some vegetables I found in her refrigerator. We sat at the kitchen table giggling like children while we ate and gossiped until she had to go to work.
I spent the morning cleaning her house and was interrupted only once by a text message from Edward.
C just called Jack on some of his b.s. in front of all of us. I've never seen J's face so red. He may explode soon so keep an eye on the news.
I smiled and almost wished I'd been there to see the entire thing unfold. Almost.
I took a long walk around Rose's neighborhood and did a little shopping, buying a fun gift for Edward before I took a long and much needed nap. When I woke, I felt energized; my mind felt clear and sharp in a way it hadn't for days.
Without exhaustion to paralyze my mind, though, my night was again fitful and tortured by dreams. My energy from the prior afternoon was gone by morning, my mind clouded and hazy from a lack of sleep and memories of the dreams that interrupted it. I decided to go to work on Tuesday. With Rose's house cleaner than I'd seen it in a year, I knew I would sit around all day and wonder what James — or whoever — was up to and what his next plan might be. Plus, though I'd talked to him on the phone, I was eager to see Edward.
I was not to see him for much of the day, however. Apparently, he was quite busy, as he explained in an email he sent me just before lunchtime. I was, too, when it came right down to it. As I packed up in preparation to leave for the day, though, I decided to swing by his office first.
He smiled as I walked in, gift bag in hand.
"Bella!" He rose and gave me a hug. "I'm sorry I've been so friggin' busy today. Seems like everybody and his brother needed me before I leave tomorrow."
He sat behind his desk, putting his laptop into his briefcase.
"That's okay. I'm glad I caught you, though." I walked backward, toward the door. "May I close the door?"
He raised an eyebrow and grinned, crookedly. "Well, of course. But why would you need to do that?"
I softly closed the door and walked over to his side of the desk, setting the bag on a chair as I did so. Edward leaned back with an expectant look on his face.
"So I can say hello properly," I said as I leaned toward him.
I braced myself with my hands on the arm of his chair as I kissed him, my tongue darting out to run along his lower lip. He reached up to cup my face as I started to pull away and I smiled against his mouth as he deepened our kiss, our tongues dancing together. A soft moan escaped me.
When he finally let me go, I leaned back against his desk, slightly flustered. The man could kiss, that was for certain. The back of his hand ran down the outside of my leg, skimming the skin of my knee beneath my skirt.
"Was that a proper hello?" he asked.
"Well, I don't know how proper it turned out to be, but it was a good one."
He chuckled and leaned back in his chair again. "I'm surprised you came in today, actually."
"Yes, I know. But as it turns out, sitting around all day, stewing and obsessing over who might be stalking me and leaving lovely gifts on my doorstep made me a little crazy. I figured work would help keep my mind occupied."
"And has it?"
"Somewhat." I shrugged.
He looked at me, intently. "Please don't be a girl and take this the wrong way, but you look tired, Bella. Are you sleeping?"
"Well, I am a girl so I wish you hadn't noticed, but I know I do." I shrugged. "I slept okay. You know ... I've just got a lot on my mind, I guess."
He reached over and again ran his hand along my thigh. His eyes were soft with concern.
"Well, that's one way to take my mind off things." I smiled.
Edward chuckled and sat a little straighter in his chair. "What's in the bag?" he asked, raising his eyebrows.
I grinned as I moved toward the chair on the opposite side of his desk, and the large gift bag I'd set there. "Well, I know you're leaving town tomorrow morning, so I brought you a little something for the road."
"Yes.” I held the bag in my hand as I stood in front of him. “Listen, Teddy, I feel a little bad about everything. I mean ... I hope you know that I still want to work on this—on us. I hope you're willing to ride out this crazy-stalker nonsense with me."
"So you bought me a present?"
I smiled. "Well, honestly, I would have bought this for you anyway, because it's perfect. But I do hope you understand where I'm coming from."
He leaned toward me, wrapping his arm around my waist and pulling me down onto his lap.
"Bella, I love you."
"Yes, I know. And apparently, I love you, too ... isn't that wild?" I smiled broadly even while I knew spoke nothing but truth. "I try not to think about it too much, because it kind of freaks me out a little."
Edward remained sober. "I'm worried about this whole thing and I want to be sure you're safe. I want to protect you, you know?"
"Yes," I whispered. Everything he said just proved to me that my faith in him was justified.
"But I do understand that you need some space. I'll be here when you're ready."
I put one arm around his neck and pulled him close to me in a hug. "Thank you, Edward," I whispered into his ear.
He squeezed my hip as I kissed the side of his neck.
"Now where's my present?" he asked after a moment.
I chuckled as I stood again and handed over the bag.
He set the bag on his lap as he removed the few pieces of tissue paper from on top of his actual gift and tossed them into the trash can beside him. The smile on his face turned to polite surprise as he pulled the brown teddy bear from the bag.
"You got me a teddy bear?"
I grinned at him, tapping my toe on the floor in excitement.
He looked up at me. "You know, Bella, not that I don't get the whole 'Teddy' tie-in, but are you under the impression that I’m a six-year-old girl?"
I rolled my eyes. "Open it."
"I did," he said, confusion written across his face.
"No.” I reached for the bear. “Open it. See? He has a pouch up front."
I pointed out the hidden pouch on the bear's belly and started to open it for him, so he would see it. He raised his eyebrows and grinned as he took over and opened it fully.
And promptly burst into laughter.
"Oh my God. What is this?"
Inside the hidden compartment were several items, all neatly arranged and secured with little ties: A small bottle of vodka, a strip of condoms, a pack of cigarettes, a lighter, breath spray, a flash light, a copy of Catcher in the Rye and, for reasons unknown, a rope.
"I think this should be your carryon luggage," I said. "It has all the essentials."
Edward was still laughing. "Rope? Why do I need rope?"
I shrugged. "In the event of a sudden 'Indiana Jones' moment?"
"Condoms?” He ran his fingers over the items. “You're putting me on a plane to Dallas with condoms?"
"Yes, well, those you can save until you get home," I replied, rather pointedly.
He chuckled as he pulled out the book. "Ah ... Salinger. How did you know?"
"Well, I would love to take credit for the choice, but it came with the bear."
He set the bear and the book on his desk and reached to pull me again across his lap, my legs resting between his.
"You're right. It's perfect." He kissed me, his hand cupping my face. "And so are you."
I rolled my eyes. "Hardly."
"Well, you're perfect for me.” He rubbed my back. “And lucky for you, that's all I care about."
I couldn't help myself. My hand laced itself through the hair at the back of his head as I pulled his mouth to mine, my other arm wrapping around his shoulders. His hand moved similarly beneath my hair, gripping my neck before flattening across my back, pulling me closer to him. I ran my thumb over the edge of his jaw, by his ear. Under the heat of his kiss, my leg instinctively shifted, my thighs trying to rub together, and I felt a distinct hardness beneath it.
Edward broke our kiss abruptly. "Uh ... yeah. You'd better be careful there, doll-face, or you'll get me into trouble."
I chuckled. "That kind of trouble, I think I can handle."
I moved off his lap, though, and stood, leaning against the desk in front of him.
"I don't know.” He grinned and loosened his tie. “It's kind of a lot to handle."
I shifted to sit more fully on the desk as I raised my legs, placing one foot on either side of his thighs, bracing them against his chair. I wondered exactly what I was doing as I watched his eyes widen as he gazed at the site now before his eyes, but I pushed my thoughts away with a toss of my hair behind me and leaned back, my hands on his desk.
I looked down to him when I felt his hands running up my calves. He stood as they reached my thighs and leaned into me, his breath hot against my lips.
"Do you know what you're doing, little girl?" He asked the question even as his hands gripped me from behind and scooted me closer to the edge of the desk.
I ran my hands along the hard lines of his chest and over his shoulders, moving his jacket down his arms as I spoke.
"I haven't been a little girl for a long time. And I know exactly what I'm doing."
I gripped his tie in my hand and pulled him toward me, grabbing the back of his neck again as I kissed him, hard. He grunted as he shrugged his jacket the rest of the way off his shoulders and my hand moved down to the front of his pants. I moaned into his mouth as I felt him through the soft fabric and smiled as my squeeze elicited a stronger groan from him. His hands returned to my ass, gripping me to him as he thrust against me. I gripped his shirt, free to grind against him and revel in the delicious friction between us. He felt impossibly hard against me and I knew I was soaking through my panties as I wrapped my legs around his hips, my skirt riding up my thighs.
Edward's hands gripped my hips, his thumbs moving down toward my center in teasing circles. He broke our kiss with a gasp against my face.
"Jesus, Bella. I need to taste you." My panties tightened around me as he gripped them in his hands. "I haven't thought about anything else in weeks."
My legs tightened around his hips and I pulled his lips back to mine as I lifted myself so that he could slip my panties down a bit.
"Mm-mm," I moaned into his mouth before pulling away only enough to whisper against them. "No time. I need you to fuck me, Edward."
He grunted and pulled away. "Shit," he muttered as my hands dropped to unbuckle his belt, quickly unbuttoning his pants and pulling his zipper down, slipping my hand inside.
Edward's hand slipped under my panties which, still wrapped around my thighs, were making it annoyingly impossible for me to spread my legs any wider, and he slipped one finger inside of me, making me gasp and throw my head back to look up at him. I watched his face as he slipped his finger from me and brought it to his lips, sucking it inside his mouth.
"Just a little taste." He grinned lasciviously as I bit my lip, muffling a whimper.
Our movements became more frantic as he stepped back and pulled me off his desk, turning me around to face it. His hand pushed at my back until I was bent over his desk, bracing myself against it with my hands. His fingers burned trails over my thighs as he pushed my skirt back up, and pulled down my panties. They fell to my ankles, where I stepped out of them before kicking them away.
Within but a few movements, he was fully sheathed inside of me. I couldn't help the almost startled gasp that came from my lips and I fell to my elbows, barely able to hold myself up at all. It hadn't been that long since I'd felt him inside of me, but it seemed almost as if I'd forgotten how delicious he felt.
It briefly registered that Edward had yelled far too loudly considering we were in his office — the door unlocked — before he started to move inside me and any thoughts but those involving his cock and the delirium it was causing scattered. He gripped my hips tightly as he thrust deeply into me, almost desperately, little grunts emanating from both of us in unison. My fingers curled in on themselves, clutching at nothing but air. My teeth tore at my lower lip as I tried not to cry out as my passion mounted, coiling in my center like a snake about to strike. As he gripped my shoulder and pounded into me even harder, I lost the battle completely, biting down on my forearm to stifle my cries as I came almost violently.
Edward's cries from behind me were essentially incoherent until he came with a loud "Fuck!" only seconds after me. He loosened his grip on my shoulder, his other hand falling to the desk to keep him from crushing me as he pressed onto my back. Heat radiated from him, through the clothes we still wore.
After several moments, our breaths coming in harsh gasps as we calmed down, he kissed the back of my ear.
"I didn't hurt you did I?"
"Did it sound like I was being hurt?" I asked, my voice slightly muffled by my arms, which surrounded my head.
He chuckled as he straightened up. "A little, actually."
I was mortified. I'd wanted this, sure. I'd even been the one to push for it, at first, and an orgasm like the one I’d had was nothing to shake a stick at. But my pledge to take things slow this time out rang in my ears even as my heart slowed to a more reasonable pace. My own weakness made me almost angry.
He slipped out of me and, after taking a moment to catch my breath, I stood, slowly turning to face him.
"Now that was a going-away present.” He smirked as he smoothed out his pants and zipped up. “Good thing the bear came with condoms, eh?"
"I can't believe you!" I yelled as I pushed at his chest. "You know how I feel about this! You know I wanted to wait!"
Edward's jaw dropped and he shook his head, incredulous. "Wait ... Excuse me? What, I'm supposed to be the mature, responsible one who pushes you away while you're trying to shove your hands down my pants? How realistic do you think that is, Bella?" He smirked at me again while he removed his loosened tie entirely.
I glared at him. "You're right, how stupid of me. I should never expect you to control yourself." I looked around the floor, in search of my panties.
"Hey, I'm not even the one who wanted this sex-embargo to begin with! If I had it my way, I'd be making you come every day, several times a day."
My breath hitched before I recovered my righteous indignation. "Oh, and I'm sure you got nothing out of this."
He chuckled. "Quite the contrary."
He leaned in close and I moved back against the desk again, away from him. He caged me, his arms on the desk on either side of my hips.
"You weren't exactly complaining a few minutes ago, Isabella."
I swallowed before I could answer. "Well—of course not. I mean, I'm stressed right now and–"
His lips cut me off, with a kiss. I resisted, but only for a moment before relenting with a soft whimper.
"That's much better," he said as broke the kiss.
I raised an eyebrow at him. "Are you saying you like me better when I'm silent?"
"Well, that depends on the context." He chuckled and pulled away from me.
He bent to retrieve my panties from the floor beneath his desk and held them to his nose, inhaling deeply. His vulgarity made me gasp and I grabbed for them, but he pulled away.
"These are awfully wet," he said. "Might they be uncomfortable?"
"I'm sure I can manage."
I made another grab for the panties, but he again pulled them out of my reach.
"I think I've found something else to keep in my new Teddy," he said, grinning.
I gasped again. "You are not keeping my dirty panties in there, Edward. That's just gross."
He balled up the panties and stuffed them into his pants' pocket. "Maybe so, but I'm taking these with me. To keep me company on my trip, you understand."
He grabbed his Teddy and his briefcase and threw his jacket over his arm before throwing his other around my shoulders and leading me toward the door. He opened it slowly, peeking around to make sure everyone was gone before he led me out of his office.