The Change-Up Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Rose's heart pounds away in her chest and heat licks at all parts of her body. Never in her life has she felt this amount of pleasure with a man. She gave up so long ago and, then here comes this man – Emmett – who has thrown her completely off a good way. Rose groans as Emmett pushes into her slick pussy again; pumping, pumping, thrusting. She likes being on top, always has, but as her second orgasm shakes her, she has to fall to the bed, completely exhausted and on fire. Emmett gently flips her to the bed and onto her back without ever coming out of her. He slows his thrusting down so that he can kiss her sexy mouth. One day soon it will be filled with his cock. He tangles his tongue with hers, and then moves his face down to her beautiful breasts. He thrusts into her, pulls out a little, then thrusts back in as his mouth latches onto one of her pink, taut nipples. She lets out a sexy whimper, and it makes him want to pick up his speed.

If Emmett is right, she has had two orgasms so far, and he wants to give her more. From what he understands from bits of conversation orgasms for Rose, with men, don't happen. He has changed that; his balls swell with a little bit of pride.

"Faster, Emmett. Now. Fucking pound me!" Rose demands.

She won't get an argument from him. Emmett takes Rose's legs and wraps them around his waist, giving him a good, deep angle of penetration. Her pussy is so tight and fits around his cock perfectly, like a pair of jeans just out of the dryer; hot like that too. Emmett can't help the growl that escapes his throat. Mine. It's all he can think; he needs to have this girl forever, and as that thought passes through his head, he worries that he may seem possessive, considering he met Rose tonight. Needless to say, he knows he won't be relinquishing her to anyone...ever.

Rose begins to quicken her hips thrusts, and Emmett moves back down to her mouth, crushing her lips with his. He pumps his dick into her with three hard thrusts. ONE. TWO. THREE. Rose screams.

"Uhnnnn...ahhh, ahhh. Oh, fuck! Emmett, fuck me, you feel so fucking good," Rose pants out. Her legs begin to quiver, and she is not sure how much longer she can go on.

"Please baby, fuck me, come in my pussy, Emmett! I want your hotness to fill me!"

"Oh, fuck, Rosie. Your pussy feels so fucking good. I want to fuck it forever. I want to kiss your mouth and your pussy and every fucking inch of you," Emmett heatedly whispers in her ear.

Emmett lifts Rose up off of the bed as he pulls himself into a sitting position, so she is sitting in his lap. Their sweat-slicked chests rub together, and he loves the feel of her tits against his chest. He thrusts into her again, and again, and feels himself coming close to the edge. Three more thrusts, and Emmett comes undone inside of Rose.

"Rosie. Oh, Rosie, baby. You feel so fucking good. Your pussy, your body, your amazing fucking legs, your mouth. Oh, God." Emmett thinks maybe he is talking too much, but he can't help it. He has never had sex like this, and never with someone that made him feel full, complete.

That cheesy Tom Cruise movie pops into his head for a moment, but he regains his focus on the beauty in front of him, straddling him, and looking into his eyes. Emmett sees something in her beautiful eyes, something almost recognizable, but not quite. He shakes himself of his inner musings and kisses Rose's pouty lips.

Rose loves tasting him, loves the feel of his cock buried in her pussy. Something in her warms at the thought of doing this often. After they break the kiss, she looks into his eyes again, she wants to tell him that he is hers. If her legs weren't shaking so badly, she would fuck him again.

They finally pull their bodies from each other and collapse on Rose's large, plush bed. The silence is comfortable and both just lie there, catching their breath and resting. Emmett speaks up after a few minutes, "That was...that…I don't know. That was like, the most amazing sex ever. I mean ever. You are amazing, Rose." He rolls over and gives her a peck on the lips.

"You were pretty fucking great yourself! I think you deserve a medal for that, or some fucking thing," she says, grinning from ear to ear.

"Nah. I don't want a medal. I just want the chance to do that again, and often." Emmett offers her a cheesy smile and shrugs a little.

"Any mother fucking time. Truly." Rose can't think of a better idea.


In the morning, Rose awakens with a heavy leg thrown over both of her own. She needs to piss in a bad way, but the sexy hunk of a man draped over her is still dead to the world. She lifts his leg - it weighs a ton - but somehow she is still able to get out from under it. She creeps to the bathroom and does her business, then washes her face with cool water to wake up, and emerges from the bathroom. Emmett hasn't moved a millimeter, still out cold. She needs to wake him up, as she will soon need to be getting to the club. While she really likes having him at her place, she needs some alone time to think about last night. Damn! What a fucking night! She thinks, never expecting to experience all that she had.

The light beyond the curtains is beginning to get quite bright, and she figures that if she could wake him now, and maybe if they could make enough noise, Edward and Bella will wake up out in the living room. Rose tip toes over to the bed and eases onto it, trying not to stir Emmett - she wants to surprise him. He lays in a way that has him spread eagle, and neither of them bothered putting sleepwear on the night before. Rose crawls up the bed - between Emmett's legs - but is careful not to touch him...yet, anyway. She pulls the sheet down from his waist slowly, and still, he doesn't stir. Rose begins to kiss the upper inside of his thigh, eliciting a quiet, sleepy groan from him.

"muf...r..sucky?" Emmett mumbles out in his sleep. Rose has to bite down on the sheet to keep from giggling out loud.

Rose regains her composure, and leans in to kiss his inner thigh again, then licks it. By now, Emmett's dick is beginning to rise to the occasion - without him consciously knowing it. It doesn't take long for him to realize it, as Rose's next step is to lick up his hardening shaft. Emmett groans again, and his eyes sleepily flutter open.

"You are the most amazing fucking woman I have ever met in my life."

Rose looks up at the handsome man and grins evilly, then takes his cock into her mouth. She pumps her head up and down several times, and then takes her mouth off completely and blows across the head. Emmett groans once again, and Rose trails her tongue around the rim of his dick. She flicks her tongue over the top of the head and licks away the bead of pre-cum then covers him completely once again.

"Oh, Sweet Rosalie in Heaven," Emmett pants out.

Rose begins to move her mouth over his slick, large shaft quicker, taking him deep into her throat. Emmett's legs, on both sides of Rose's head, begin to tense and quiver a little bit; he is close.

"Rosie. Baby, I'm going to cum," Emmett warns.

Rose answers him by gently gripping his balls with her hand, then flattens her tongue along his shaft and pushes her head down as far as she can handle. She lightly brushes her finger over his exit hole, which does it for him. Rose feels the pulses of his ejaculate shooting to the back of her throat, and she quickly swallows down each of the spurts. Four in all...the man's got some swimmers, Rose thinks.

Rose cleans him off with her tongue, then wipes at her mouth with the sheet a little bit, cleaning herself off. Emmett reaches down and grips Rose's upper arm, gently pulling her up to him.

"There is something about you, something I can't explain. I promise, I'm not trying to get all schmoopy on you, but I find you amazing, and breathtaking," Emmett confesses. He brushes his thumb over Rose's cheek bone, then pulls her face to his. He kisses her gently on the lips, nipping at the fuller bottom one with his teeth, then kisses her hard. Emmett tries to put all of his gratitude into the kiss, wanting to express that it isn't just her body he wants, but her mind and her opinion, and everything about her.

Rose is shocked by Emmett's admission, but says nothing, afraid to say anything. She is not sure of what she is feeling herself. She had felt amazement with Bella when she was able to give Rose her first orgasm ever. She thought that she would only ever have them with Bella, if she had more to give. She was only expecting a night of kinky fun with this foursome and had really wanted to feel Emmett's dick inside of her. She had long given up on the chance of having an orgasm with a man...then Emmett came along and turned her world upside down. But it wasn't just the sexual side of it either - which was odd - because for so long that is all it has been about. It took a lot for a man to catch Rose's attention, and to be honest, they usually weren't the Emmett type. Not that Rose went for types, quite opposite, but she also no longer cared to look.

All she knew was that she wanted Emmett, and not just for a random fuck buddy. She wanted him.

Emmett and Rose finally, reluctantly, break the kiss, both panting heavily and needing air.

Emmett gives Rose a quick peck on the nose and disentangles himself from her, then gets up and heads into the restroom. When he returns, Rose has already begun to dress, getting ready for the day. He is sad that their time together is over. He wants much more.

"So, ahhh. Shit. I don't know what to say from here-out," Emmett confides.
Rose has always been a no-nonsense kind of woman, she won't stop now. "I want to see you again. Last night was fucking amazing, I'm not afraid to say it. We may have done things backward, but I think a date is in order."
Emmett's mouth splits into an ear-to-ear grin. "I think that's a great idea."
Feeling better about the situation, and that this wasn't just some one night stand, Emmett follows Rose's action and begins to dress.


Edward and Bella are sitting on the couch when Emmett and Rose emerge from the bedroom. Edward's arm is thrown across Bella's shoulder with his hand snuggling her into his side. They are both quietly laughing, not noticing they have company.

Emmett clears his throat and both Edward and Bella look up. Bella goes to move, but Edward holds her to his side. Bella is reluctant to look at Rose, and maybe a bit scared too. When she finally does, she is surprised to see a shit-eating grin on Rose's face.

Rose says nothing of the scenario, she already knows Bella can be skittish, and really, there is no need - this has all turned out just as it should have. Rose wouldn't change a thing, just as none of the others would change anything.

"I have to head to the club in about twenty minutes, so you all need to scoot. Bella, you can have the day off, but I need you in tomorrow. Wear something sexy - I want you behind the bar for a little while," Rose says.

Bella and Edward rise from the couch and Bella is about to ask Rose if she is sure about doing that, but Edward speaks first.

"Bella bartending? Genius idea, Rose. You'll have women coming in just to watch her."

Bella blushes at his words and hides her face in his chest a little.

"Exactly," Rose says excitedly. She then turns to Emmett and asks, "Walk me to work?"

"Of course, and besides, my car is parked there." Emmett gives Rose a wink, then turns toward the door and opens it. The group shuffles out and Emmett pulls the door closed behind him; he is a bit sad to leave.

Down on the sidewalk in front of Rose's apartment, the four people are once again at a loss of what to say to each other. Bella, finally finding a voice amongst the group, speaks up.

"Jesus. It feels like somebody fucking died. So, okay. Yeah, this is weird.'s also really awesome. Em, I'm sorry if this is weird, but I know you like Rose, and I know that you know that I like Edward..." Bella looks at the others, then says "And Rose, you want Emmett, and Edward, well, I think you want me. Now, I don't want to lose my friends, or my new job. So can we stop with the awkward bullshit and just be fucking happy?"

There's a moment of silence before Emmett breaks out into a hearty chuckle. "You couldn't surprise me any-fucking-more, woman," Emmett says as he nuggies Bella's head.

"Ouch, fucker. That hurts," Bella scolds.

"Alright then, I need to get going, but I assume we are going to get together again soon. This is a good thing, I can feel it," Rose informs them.

The group quickly hugs one another, then splits up. Rose with Emmett and Bella with Edward.


Rose and Emmett walk in silence for a little while, neither of them minding it one bit. When they are about halfway there, Rose finally speaks up, addressing Emmett.

"So, I assume...and expect, to see you in my club a little more often, if at least to visit Bella?" Rose doesn't want to come off too pushy, and she isn't sure why she feels like a teenager all of a sudden.

"Yeah, I'll be there quite often, but it won't be just to see Bella. It'll mostly be to see you," Emmett replies, quite sure of himself.

Rose feels her face heat up a little bit at his statement and isn't used to it; she doesn't often let her outside appearance resemble her inner emotions.

They walk the rest of the way to the club, mostly in silence, but as they draw nearer to it they begin to chit chat about random topics. When they are finally standing in front of the crimson door, Emmett suddenly feels tongue-tied. Rose pulls the keys to the club out of her pocket, unlocks the door, then turns back to Emmett.

"So, I need to get in there and see how things were left last night. I expect that I'll be seeing you around though, right?" Rose doesn't want to assume that he is interested in seeing her on a full-time, exclusive basis, although she wants it.

"You will certainly be seeing me. And...ah, Rose? I won't be visiting anyone else, if you know what I mean?" He is being straight-forward; no sense in beating around the bush.

Rose smiles at him and bites her lip, but not in a shy way - it's more like an I want to kiss your face off way. She nods at him. "Good, and I won't be inviting anyone else either - if you know what I mean."

Emmett returns the smile and moves in closer to her, his face just inches from her own. When she thinks he is going to kiss her, he doesn't, but moves his mouth to her ear. He whispers, "Oh, the things I'm going to do to you."

Rose feels a flush move over her skin and grabs Emmett's head, pulling his face to hers. She smashes her lips against his, kissing him deeply and savoring his taste. When they finally pull away from each other, Rose pecks him on the nose, then turns back to the door. Over her shoulder she calls out, "See you soon, Emmett," then disappears inside.

Emmett practically skips to his car - which is a sight in itself.


As Bella and Edward walk toward her apartment, they start out several feet apart, and both feeling a teensy bit awkward. It's mostly Bella that is feeling awkward, but that is only because she wants to once again, jump Edward's bones. She wants to walk closer to him - hell, she wants to be on him as he walks. She can't understand why the hell she is so fucking horny, although, it doesn't really bother her for some reason.

She moves a little bit closer with the next step.

Edward is talking about what he does for a living and Bella knows she should be paying attention, because this is information she truly wants to know - cares about, but every time she looks at his face, she sees his delectable lips. She wants to bite them, suck them, lick them. She shakes her head, attempting to focus her attention on his words, not his fuck hot lips.

"Two-seventeen?" Edward asks.

Bella looks up at him confused and has to take two steps back toward him. She was so lost in her head - worshipping his body through her mind - that she hadn't realized he had stopped walking. "I'm sorry?"

Edward chuckles, then repeats, "Two-seventeen. Your apartment, right?" He asks as he motions at the building in front of them.

"Oh, jeez. I wasn't paying attention to my surroundings. Sorry," Bella says sheepishly.

Edward smiles at her and Bella feels her panties practically shimmy themselves down to her ankles.

"Um, would you care to come in for a moment? Or might have things to do. Ahh..." Why oh why did she ask that, she wants to slap herself, but not in front of him.

"Well, I have to get going, but I'll walk you to your door. What floor do you live on?"

Bella feels relief and maybe a bit ridiculous too. "The second floor," she says quietly.

Edward opens the door for her, and she walks in with him following. She begins climbing the staircase and feels his hand on the small of her back half way up; goose bumps break out over her skin.

She opens the stairwell door when she is to the top and they walk through, then just a few more steps to the door of her apartment.

"And here it is," she says as she fishes her keys out of her jeans pocket. She fidgets with the door a little and it unlocks.

She turns to look at Edward, but doesn't really know what she should say. Edward beats her to it.

"I would like to see you again, Bella. If that would be alright?" Edward feels a little nervous that she may say no. The previous night had gotten crazy.

"I'd love to see you again, Edward." Bella doesn't hesitate to answer. His interest in her suddenly gives her a surge of braveness, and she leans in to give him a gentle kiss goodbye.

Edward isn't looking for gentle; he attacks Bella's mouth like a lion attacks its next kill. His one hand snakes behind her back while the other goes to grip the back of her head. His mouth devours hers and he pushes his body closer to hers, gently rubbing against her. Bella moans and Edward kisses her harder, rubbing his growing erection against her stomach.

"Shit," Edward says and groans as he reluctantly pulls away. "We are going to continue that very, very soon. I promise."

Bella leans in and kisses him gently one more time, then opens the door. Before she closes it, she says, "See you soon, Edward."

Edward smiles and makes his way through the door to the stairwell and walks to the club - back to his car - with a throbbing dick. Bella watches him go, and as she is beginning to shut the door she hears a snicker. She peeks her head out and down the hallway. Sure enough, Esme has her head stuck out her door. Bella rolls her eyes at her.

"That man certainly knows how to pitch a tent. You should take him camping, Bella."

"Maybe I already have..." Bella taunts her neighbor, giving her a devilish smile as she retreats into her apartment.
The Change-Up Chapter 3
Chapter 3

The foursome steps through the doorway of Rose's apartment, happy to finally be inside. No one says anything; they are all nervous and slightly awkward in the situation. But they all want it. After they are all inside, Rose shuts the door behind her and locks it, just out of habit. The sound of the lock clicking into place is loud in the room, making Bella jump.

"Anxious much, Bella?" Emmett quips with a cocky smirk on his face.

Bella rolls her eyes at Emmett and begins to take her coat off, as do the others.

Rose takes each of the coats and walks down the hall and into a bedroom. She lays them on the bed and walks back out to her guests. "So, I think we need a few shots. What do ya say?" she asks. They all immediately begin nodding their heads in agreement.

Following Rose, Edward, Emmett and Bella make their way into the kitchen. While Rose busies herself finding shot glasses, salt, tequila, and a lime, the other three stand in the kitchen, not talking. For Bella, every second that passes by, it gets more and more uncomfortable. She leans against the island wondering if maybe she should go home, maybe this is a mistake. Since meeting him tonight, she had really been looking forward to getting to know Edward a little bit better, but she was not sure that was a good idea anymore; he could be Rose's man.

Edward leans against the doorframe of the kitchen door, just a few feet away from Bella, and clears his throat, pulling her from her thoughts. Bella glances over at him quickly, then over to Emmett, who is standing next to the refrigerator and is studiously inspecting the crown molding. He shuffles his feet nervously, making Bella giggle. It catches in her throat and makes her sound like a choked pig.

Emmett looks over at Bella, as do all the others, and they all bust into a chorus of laughter. The tension is broken.

"Oh my God! Tyler is the biggest douchebag of them all! Seriously," Emmett announces. "Bella, I just don't know where you find these assholes! You are way too good for them."

By this point, they have all had a few shots and feel relaxed, chatting happily and feeling the buzz that the tequila has awarded them. They sit in a circle on the floor. Rose leans back against the chair, her eyes closing briefly and a small, content smile on her lips. Emmett is next to her, trying to inch his way closer to her body. Next to Emmett, Edward lies on his stomach with his long legs behind him. Bella notices them; she licks her lips lazily and then looks over to Rose, beside her.

Rose is watching her. Bella worries that Rose saw her ogling her friend, or boy toy, or whatever the fuck he is to her. She doesn't want her new "friend" and employer to be angry with her.

Rose breaks the momentary silence. "Let's do body shots. Yeah?" She pauses and looks at everyone else, and announces, "Bella and I will go first."

Bella giggles nervously again, but this time she sounds a bit more normal. She waits for Rose to give her instructions since she has never done body shots.

Rose moves closer to Bella and gently pushes her backward onto the soft carpet. Bella watches Rose apprehensively as flutters of anxiety tickle her stomach. Bella closes her eyes as she feels her shirt lift, exposing a portion of her abdomen. Rose licks a patch of skin just above Bella's belly button and pours a bit of salt onto the wet area.

"Ready, Bella?" Rose asks quietly, and Bella opens her eyes and nods. Rose smirks at her and then looks to the boys. "Are you ready?" she asks them.

They both nod their heads quickly, looking like bobble head dolls. Rose chuckles, loving their reaction.

As Rose leans over Bella to pour the tequila in her belly button, the men shift to get better views. Rose moves down to Bella's stomach and reaches her tongue out to the smooth skin. She drags her tongue across the salty patch, then quickly moves to her belly button and sucks the tequila from the sexy curve of Bella's stomach. She swallows down the tequila, then moves up to Bella's mouth and takes the lime from Bella. Rose sucks on it and drops it to the carpet. She lowers her head back down to Bella's mouth and licks her lips, cleaning off any remnants of the lime flavor.

The men audibly groan watching them.

The next set of shots are done simultaneously between the group of four. Emmett lifts Rose up onto the blue velvet couch and lays her back just a bit. On the floor, Edward places a pillow under Bella's head and proceeds with his body shot. He tortures her slowly by blowing his hot breath across her skin, and eventually nips at her neck and ear, eliciting a small whimper from her. Bella is vaguely aware of the flirting and teasing going on between Rose and Emmett on the sofa, because all she can think about is how exquisite Edward's tongue feels against her skin. Just before he takes the lime from her mouth, Edward says, challenging her, "Beat that, Sexy."

"He has got to be kidding," Bella tells herself. Even though his body shot was erotic, making her body break out with the most delicious goose bumps she's ever had, she knows that she can drive him wild. Shy or not, she will do better. She wants to lick his happy trail. She laughs to herself, thinking she could drink tequila a little more often, at least for the courage factor.

Edward swallows thickly and helps Bella sit up. It is her turn now. She snickers at Edward and asks, "Beat that? Seriously?" She pulls herself off the carpet and to a kneeling position; Edward is in the same position across from her. She leans closer to his ear so only he can hear her, and whispers, "I'm going to make you squirm."
"Lie down, Edward," she commands him. Edward complies and lies where Bella had previously. Bella turns around to see Rose sitting very close to Emmett, his arm around her shoulders.

Bella grabs the shot glass and refills it, then the salt and the lime, and scoots closer to Edward. "Take your shirt off, unless you want it to get wet," she says. A little noise comes out of his throat in surprise, but he complies and pulls his shirt over his chest. Bella ogles his masculinity for a second and then refocuses her attention as Edward lies back down.

Bella dips her finger into the tequila and starts a trail a bit below Edward's belly button and at the start of his happy trail. She skips over his belly button and resumes dragging her finger up his torso. She dips her finger again and goes back to his sternum, then pulls her finger to the right and circles Edward's nipple. She doesn't look at Edward, but she can feel his eyes burning into her. Bella grabs the salt and begins to sprinkle the salt on his body, along the wet tequila trail. Bella makes the salt trail sparse so she doesn't gag on too much of it. Still feeling his eyes on her, she puts the salt back down and picks up the lime and the shot glass, contemplating for just a second. She carefully pours the shot in his belly button and he jumps just a tad, a bit of the liquid rolling down his side. Bella smiles a little at that and finally looks at Edward's face. He stares intently at Bella and it is hard for her to look away. She doesn't want to lose her nerve, so she takes the lime and slowly drags it across his lips, asking silent permission for him to open his mouth to her. He does, and she places the lime slice in his mouth and he gently bites down on it, holding it in place.

Bella gives him a small smile and then looks back up at the couch. Rose has a devious grin on her face, while Emmett looks purely stunned. He has never seen Bella, his best friend act this way, but he likes it. She has always been a bit more of an innocent, if not a little uptight. He is glad that she is spreading her wings…and other things.

Bella moves back down to Edward's torso and leans over, placing her tongue against Edward's skin at his pleasure patch. He hisses as she begins to make her way up his abdomen. When she gets closer to his chest, she stares into his eyes as she licks, then quickly moves her mouth over to his nipple, circling it. Edward groans, and Bella quickly pulls away from him. He misses the contact instantly, but is relieved when she starts licking at his side, following the trail where the tequila had escaped from his belly button. When she comes to the pool of alcohol resting in the curve of his lower abdomen, she sucks it up and swallows it down, gasping a little at the burn. Finally, she turns toward his mouth, moving closer to pull the lime wedge from his pouty lips, but it's not there. Suddenly, Edward tilts his face toward hers, pressing his lips against hers. He opens his mouth a little to taste her lips, and Bella responds instinctively, opening her mouth and tasting the lime juice on his tongue. Edward sits up a little and pulls Bella closer to him, placing his hand on the back of her neck and deepening the kiss.

He wants this; so does she.

A throat clears somewhere in the room and Bella quickly breaks free. "Cheater," she says to Edward through a smile.

Bella stands up just as Rose moves from the couch and begins to pick up the remnants of their game. Rose walks into the kitchen and Bella follows her.

"Are you ready for the real fun, Bella?" Rose asks as she sets the glasses in the sink and quickly rinses her hands off.

"Yeah. Actually...I am," Bella replies, stealing a quick glance toward Edward. Rose turns around and nods at her, then grabs onto Bella's hand and pulls her back out into the living room.

When they re-enter, both men are sitting on the sofa, which is actually quite perfect.

Rose leads Bella over to the settee and says, "Sit."

Bella lowers herself down onto the cushion as Rose crouches down and kneels between Bella's legs, facing her. Rose looks up at Bella's face as she moves her hands to the bottom of Bella's t-shirt. She lifts the shirt slowly, giving Bella time to stop her, if she needs to. Bella says nothing, and the shirt is quickly off, leaving Bella in her lacy blue bra.

"Bella, I want you to talk dirty to me. Loudly. Let the men hear," Rose whispers in Bella's ear and blows wet warmth across her cheek and down her chest. Slowly, Rose moves her hands around to Bella's back and unhooks the bra hook and eyelet. Her eyes remain on Bella's but see that her skin begins to flush. It turns Rose on. Bella feels exposed, and part of her wants to run out of the room and out the door, but the larger part of her wants this, needs this. Shyness be damned.

"Rose, I want you to touch me. Touch my hard, begging nipple. Please. Touch me, Rose." Bella drags her thumb slowly over her taut, rosy nipple and whimpers at the sensation. She glances up and over at the men that watch them. They both sit with their legs crossed, their eyes wide and mouths agape.

Rose licks at Bella's nipple, and Bella sucks her bottom lip into her mouth and groans. Her eyes roll back into her head a little.

"Holy. Jesus. Fuck me already," Emmett groans out and crosses his legs the other way, squashing his pulsing hard-on.

Edward rips his hand through his hair for what has to be the fiftieth time tonight. He looks over at Emmett and sees that the dude has the same look on his face that he imagines is on his own. "My dreams are coming true right now, and it's a bit like hell at the moment," Edward whispers to Emmett while looking at the sexy women before him.

Bella moans again as Rose pulls her panties down over her knees and off of her ankles. Rose looks up and over her shoulder at the men and smiles. She turns back to Bella and spreads her legs, climbing between them. Rose spiders her fingers up Bella's thigh and traces her lower lips. Rose circles the plump lips one time with her long fingernail, tickling Bella. Without notice, Rose gently flicks the budding orchid between Bella's legs and makes her cry out.

Over on the couch, the men groan once again.

Rose slips her long finger inside of Bella's glistening, heated pussy and pumps her finger. Once. Twice. Then stops. If the men get to watch, so will she and Bella.

Rose pulls her finger out and Bella whimpers at the loss. Rose stands up and faces the men. She buries her wet finger in her mouth and closes her full lips around it and sucks. She can see the men's Adam's apples bob simultaneously.

Rose looks back to Bella and winks. Bella smirks up at her in understanding.

"This isn't a free show, gentlemen," Rose explains as she puts her hand on her hip.

The looks on Edward's and Emmett's faces show their confusion.

"Meaning?" Edward asks.

Bella stands up next to Rose. "We're equal opportunists. If we give, you give."

Edward shakes his head and chuckles. "No way. Not happening, Rose."

Emmett looks at the women, then to Edward, and back to the women. After a second, it dawns on him. "No fucking way, Bells! You know me, strictly hetero!" He magnifies his point by groping large, juicy air-titties. "Het-er-o!"

Bella chuckles and Rose shrugs her shoulders. Rose reaches down and draws circles on Bella's bare inner thigh. "Well, no show for you then, studs. Such a pity, we were really looking forward to it. Weren't we, B?" Rose looks at Bella and keeps on with the circling.

Bella sticks out her bottom lip, pouting. "We were." She barely manages a whisper as Rose is getting her worked up again.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Ladies! Hold the phone," Emmett says. He looks at Edward and shrugs. Emmett turns back to the women. "What exactly do you want?"

Edward groans and is about to say something, but Rose beats him to it. "Now that's the attitude I like."

Rose looks up to Bella and quirks her eyebrow, silently asking if they should go over to the men. Bella nods and stands up, quickly pulling her panties back in place. Rose moves over to the side of the couch where Edward sits but stands behind him. Bella does the same with Emmett, but crouches down a little bit, so that her mouth is level with his ear. She blows lightly in his ear and he groans a little.

"Come on, B. Don't tease me like that!" Emmett groans out.

"Uh, uh, big guy. Remember the deal? We share, you share. It's your turn to share, and then we will share some more. Won't we Rose?" Bella asks, and then licks up the curl of Emmett's earlobe, eliciting another groan from him.

"Come on, Rose. Really? I mean, this is me you're talking to!" Edward pleads with Rose, but it doesn't get him anywhere.

"Like I would ever make you do much with another guy, Edward. Relax and pretend it's not Emmett. You just have to kiss. Now, we don't mean some weak little peck either. We want tongue, and moaning, and face cradling and all that shit. You dig?" A smirk passes over Rose's mouth as she looks between the two men, watching them as they squirm at the women's demand. "You dig?" she asks in a saucy, chiding voice.

Both men sigh loudly. "Close your eyes, boys," Rose commands the men. At first they are stubborn, staring each other down, but Emmett sighs again and shrugs his shoulders. His eyes flutter once and then twice, and then his lashes rest on his cheek. Edward takes a few more blinks and then closes his as well.

Behind Emmett, Bella begins to rub his shoulders, attempting to get him to relax a little. She has never imagined being in this type of situation with Emmett. He has always been a lady's man...just as she has always been a made-for-a-man kind of girl, but things have obviously changed. She knows Emmett won't ever get in too deep with men - he is too good in bed with women, and she can vouch for him, many times - but this could be fun. She wonders how far he will go with this, since he is more open-minded about it than Edward seems to be.

As Emmett relaxes, Bella keeps rubbing his shoulders but settles onto the couch behind him. It is a strategized move, as it makes Emmett move closer to Edward. To keep Emmett's mind on her, Bella begins to nibble at his neck.

Across from them, Rose notices Bella's move and decides to do the same thing. She crawls in behind Edward and, like Emmett, he moves in a bit to make room for her. Rose leans in close and begins to nibble on Edward's ear. She notices his breathing changes; she decides it's time to get these boys together.

She whispers, "Edward, do you want me to tell you all the things I'm going to do to Bella?" Edward gasps and nods his head "yes."

"Get closer to Emmett, first," Rose commands him, but in a low, seductive voice, a voice he can't say no to.

Edward inches even closer to Emmett, and across from them, Bella must be doing the same kind of convincing, as Emmett also moves a little closer.

"Emmett, did you like seeing Rose bury her fingers in me?" Bella asks Emmett, and he quickly responds, nodding his head "yes" and scrunching his eyes shut even tighter.

"Do you want to see her do that again?" she whispers to Emmett.

His response comes out breathy. "God, yes."

Bella puts her hand on Emmett's head and begins to massage it, gently pushing his head closer to Edward's.

"Emmett, Rose's tongue felt so good inside of my pussy. She teased my clit with her amazing mouth and made me clench inside," she says, just louder than a whisper as she pushes him the last little bit. He and Edward now sit close to each other, only inches between their faces.

Rose moves her hand up along Edward's arm, around his shoulder, and draws lazy circles in his manly chest hair that peeks out the top of his shirt. She slowly drags her finger up to his mouth and pushes at his entrance. He opens for her and begins to lick and suck at her long finger. She pulls it out after several ministrations and moves her finger over to Emmett's mouth, he can tell it is a woman's finger and opens his mouth. It's already wet but he sucks it into his mouth anyway, wanting to taste it. After Emmett sucks several times, Rose moves her finger back to Edward's mouth, slipping it back inside, and then pulls it away completely.

"See now, boys. That wasn't so bad. You already know what each other tastes like," Bella purrs at them.

Emmett knows he has to start this party - Edward never will - and if he knows Bella, or is getting to know Rose at all, they won't stand for some piddly kiss. They will want a real kiss like the one they had shown, and more.

Emmett reaches his hand out in the air, feeling around for Edward's face. He comes in contact with a strong jaw and growing stubble. Emmett reaches his hand around to the back of Edward's head. Edward is slightly resistant but then just decides to go with it. He moves closer to Emmett, letting the man guide him.

Their noses brush. Their eyes stay closed and they turn their heads a few times, trying to figure out which way the other will turn to gain access. Behind them Bella bites her lip and looks at Rose, who smiles a triumphant grin.

Edward brushes his lips against Emmett's, studying the contours. They are soft. He wasn't expecting them to be soft. Emmett opens his mouth just enough to get a hold of one of Edward's lips. They are plump and soft. He puts more pressure against them, kissing them. He could almost be kissing a woman; the lips are soft and warm. Edward decides it isn't as bad as he thought it was going to be. He puts his hand up to Emmett's chin and pulls his face in even more. They kiss with mostly closed mouths until Edward finally gets the nerve to try it with tongue. He lightly puts his tongue just at the entrance of Emmett's mouth, waiting to see what will happen. Emmett doesn't open right away, shocked that Edward made the move for tongue first, but then willingly complies. He kind of likes this, although he will never tell anyone.

Emmett swirls his tongue around his own mouth and finds Edward's. He caresses it with his own and almost moans. He lifts his other hand up to Edward's face and rests it on his cheek. Edward kisses harder and, suddenly, he forgets that he is kissing a man. Or maybe it's that he actually enjoys kissing a man.

The men begin to get into the kissing of one another. As Bella watches, she feels herself growing wet and her pussy begins to ache. She bites her lip and looks over at Rose, who is staring at her. Rose slowly stands up from the couch and out from behind Edward, then takes Bella's hand. She pulls her out from behind Emmett and kneels to the floor. Bella follows and the two women begin to kiss, both kneeling in front of each other. The men stop for a moment, but the women pay them no attention as they continue to kiss.

Bella quickly drops her lips to lick wet trails down Rose's neck but pulls away and swiftly lifts Rose's shirt off over her head. Because Bella knows all about bra clasps, she quickly pinches her fingers together and the bra pops open. Rose holds her arms out in front of her, and Bella slowly slides the straps down her arms and pulls the barrier away; Rose's pert breasts spring free. Bella pushes Rose back so she lies on the soft carpet and Bella goes back to kissing her neck, licking at her collar bones.

Up on the couch, the men pull away from each other, both panting heavily. Edward licks his lips and then looks at the two women on the floor. Bella is now totally naked and Rose has lost her shirt and bra. He wants in on that, but wants to watch just a little bit more. Edward kneels on the carpet beside the couch. Emmett remains on the couch and watches as Bella removes Rose's pants; her panties remain on, but he will make sure they come off very soon.

Bella begins to move her tongue, licking trails across Rose's torso and toward her belly button. Her tongue dips in and then makes a trail up between Rose's breasts. Bella moves her mouth to Rose's left breast and begins to graze the other nipple with her finger. Rose whimpers, her body writhing under Bella. "More, baby. Please," Rose begs.

Bella feels all of her insecurities fly out the window. She can feel the eyes from behind her, but for once, instead of the shyness that usually takes hold of her, she feels power. She knows she has power, because she can feel the want, the need that the men emit behind her. With her newfound braveness, Bella decides to finally kick the party into high-gear. She removes her hand from Rose's breast and slowly trails her fingers down Rose's side, over her hip bone, and brushes over her still-clothed pussy. The body under her jerks upward and Rose lets out a moan. "Oh, yes. PLEASE!"

Bella removes her mouth from Rose's breast and scoots down a little, needing both hands to shimmy Rose's panties off of her. Emmett is slightly disappointed that he won't be the one to remove Rose's underwear, but at the same time, he is just grateful that they are finally off. He groans at the site of her sexy, shaved pussy. He wants to lick it, he wants to fuck it, and then fuck it again. For a moment, Emmett worries that this could get confusing, or weird, or something. He has been with Bella, and he knows that Edward has been with Rose. But he wants Rose, and he has a sneaking suspicion that Edward wants Bella.

Losing track of his thoughts, Emmett notices that Bella is now hovering over Rose, each other's pussies in the other's face. 69-style. Fuck yes, Emmett thinks. He watches Bella as she begins to blow across Rose's pretty pussy lips, and his dick begins to ache in the most uncomfortable way.

"Ugh, Bella," Rose moans.

Bella quickly sits up a little, still straddling Rose, but in a kneeling position. "Gentlemen, unless you plan to just watch all of this, I suggest you start removing your clothes."

The men think about it for less than a split second and begin to rip the clothes from their bodies. Bella smirks as Rose whispers behind her, "Way to take control, B."

It doesn't take long, and both men are standing before the two women; Emmett wearing boxers and Edward in boxer briefs. Bella simply quirks her eyebrow at the two men, and they immediately pull the last offending articles of clothing from their bodies.

"Much better," Rose says from under Bella. Bella repositions herself over Rose's pussy and licks. Rose moans loudly, as do both men.

"Fucking hell," Edward groans and lowers himself to the floor. He can't just watch any longer. He crawls over to the women, and as he passes Bella, he trails his finger along the curve of her spine and just to the top of the crack of her ass. Somehow, he is going to fuck her. Somehow.

Bella moves around so that her center no longer hovers over Rose's face, giving Edward a little room. She swings around but keeps her mouth on Rose's pussy, licking as Rose bucks, screams, then comes.

"Oh my fucking God!" Emmett exclaims. He bounds from the couch and snatches Bella up in his arms; her back to his chest. On the floor, Rose takes Edward's cock into her mouth and sucks him hard. She deep-throats and his head falls backward.

Emmett begins to slip his cock back and forth against Bella's pussy, but never enters it. His eyes linger on Rose's mouth as she fucks Edward with it, but then he feels a pang of guilt. Bella moans from in front of him and he can sense that she is beginning to get tense, maybe a little irritated that he mainly seems to be teasing her. But then he watches as Rose pulls her mouth away from Edward's cock. Edward looks down at Rose, confused, but sees her focus on Emmett and Bella. Emmett stares at Rose, while Bella's eyes are closed.

Rose knows she needs to say something. It isn't Edward she wants to be with; it's the hunk of man that's clit-teasing Bella. "FUCK THIS. SWITCH!" Rose announces.

Bella's eyes fly open and all eyes in the room turn to Rose; she shrugs and looks up at Edward. "No offense, sweetness, but you and I both know that this is backward. And so do they," Rose deadpans.

Rose gets up from the floor and walks over to Bella and Emmett. "You get what I'm saying, Bella?"

Bella nods and smiles at Rose, because yes, she knows exactly what she is saying, and fuck if she isn't damn relieved Rose said something. She never would have herself, although she is dying to once again feel Edward's hand on her skin.

Rose looks over her shoulder at Edward once more, then takes Emmett's hand and leads him back to her bedroom. "Have fun, you two," she says, then shuts the bedroom door.

Edward looks at Bella who is, for some reason, looking a little shy. He will take care of that. He knows that Rose probably worried that she would hurt someone's feelings in her declaration, but he is thankful. This is his chance with Bella, and he wants to prove something to her. Even though he only just met her earlier in the evening, there is something about her that draws him in like no other woman ever has before. Not even Rose, and that says a lot.

Quickly crossing the room to her, Edward takes Bella's face in his hands, his thumbs resting along the line of her jaw while his long fingers caress the curve of neck, under her ear; he brushes his lips along hers. They are so soft, plush, so inviting. He gently nibbles at her bottom lip and then at the top one. Moving his face to kiss along her jaw, Edward returns to her mouth to place a passionate kiss on her lips and slips his tongue out to taste her. She opens her mouth to him and feels his tongue slide inside. The way his tongue moves in her mouth along with her tongue is like a dance; they undulate to the music that their moans create, and before long, Bella is out of breath. She has to break the kiss and hates to do it.

Edward quickly pulls Bella back down to the floor and crawls over her; his arms and legs straddle her, but he puts no weight on her in fear that he will be too heavy for her. He lowers his mouth to her neck this time and nibbles at her smooth, pale skin. That is something else he admires about her; in a time when women feel they have to be tanned to a crisp and don leathery skin, here she is, practically pale as a ghost and thinking nothing of it.

"God. Your skin, Bella. It's the most exquisite thing. Along with your hips, your lips, your tits. All of it," Edward whispers as he admires her body.

Bella grips Edward by the back of his head and pulls him back to her face; she smashes her lips against his and kisses him hard. Her body shivers at the sensations he elicits in her; she wants more. So much more. She plunges her hands into his crazy hair and almost moans at the silkiness of it, then squeals a bit as she feels herself become weightless.

Edward wants this beauty to straddle him, so he can feel her heat against his skin and not to worry about crushing her. He holds her waist and rolls, settling her on top of him. It gives him a fantastic view of her gloriously perky tits and he really wants to suck them, taste them. He needs to taste every last bit of this woman and this is not going to be the best angle to do that. Just when he thinks about rolling them back over, he feels the hotness of her pussy slide along his shaft and gasps.
"Oh, Bella. You feel so fucking good. I want to be inside of you, but not quite yet. Lie on your back for me again?"

Bella lets out a quiet whimper and lies back down on the floor. Edward is over her in an instant and begins to lick and nibble at her neck again. He doesn't waste any time; he moves his mouth over her taut nipple and sucks on it. Below him, Bella bucks her hips; Edward moves the hand that isn't steadying him down her torso. He kneads her hips with his fingers and slowly brushes the small amount of hair just above her pussy; he ghosts a finger across her lips.

Bella sucks in a breath as she feels Edward's finger touch her; she tries to rein them in, but her hips buck up at his hand anyway. "Edward. Oh! Oh, please!"

"You got it, sweetness," Edward replies as he quickly moves his mouth down her torso. He licks her belly button and then moves over her hips, nibbling at the skin over the bone. He finds that part of her body to be incredibly erotic and spends some time sucking it, biting it; he licks his way to her inner thigh. He can hear Bella gasp as she writhes; her fingers dig into the carpet as she attempts to gain composure. She can't, but she doesn't care. His mouth is oh-so-fucking-close to her pussy and she is begging to feel his mouth there.

Edward can't wait to taste her any longer. The smell of her makes his cock ache and his mouth water; he needs her on his tongue, so he makes it so. First, he kisses her pussy and listens as she lets out a shuddering breath; then he licks the outside of her.

"Yes. Please, please more, Edward," Bella begs. She doesn't care how fucking needy she sounds. Not one bit.

Edward slips his tongue inside of her pussy and gets a good taste of her. Like. Fucking. Liquid. Gold. He dives into her with a frenzy, licking, nibbling, and teasing her with his tongue. Her body begins to buck into his face and he quickly adds a finger, slipping it inside of her pussy. With his tongue, he flicks at her clit and then adds a second finger. Bella's breathing begins to quicken as she gets close. A light sweat breaks out over her body; short of coming by Edward's fingers, she stops him.

"Wait, Edward. I want...," she pauses to catch her breath. "I want your cock in me. I want you to fuck me, Edward."

"Your wish, my command, Beautiful."

Edward moves back up to Bella's face and leans in to kiss her. Bella can taste herself on his lips and she feels some kind of a claim on him. She wouldn't mind if he tasted like that every time he kissed her because that would mean he is only tasting her. Part of her knows that she shouldn't be thinking things like that, because really, they are still strangers to each other, but she wants more from him than just this fuck. She wants to know him, in all ways.

Edward starts to rub his incredibly hard cock along the outside of Bella's pussy but can't take the minimal contact for long. He wants into her warmth, her sanctuary. "Bella, I can't wait any longer. I want you so much. Are you ready?"

"Yes, please, Edward. I'm ready for you," Bella responds.

Edward places his tip at her entrance and pushes in slowly; he meets with some resistance and worries that he is too large for Bella, but she pulls on his arms, begging him to go further.

"More, Edward," Bella demands.

Edward pushes in further and further until he is all the way in and just stays like that for several seconds, relishing in her tightness. His cock is completely surrounded by her, and he decides he doesn't ever want to be anywhere else. Slowly, he pulls out and pushes back in. Pulls out, pushes back in. Bella begins to pant below him and makes whimpering noises. Their eyes lock on each other as they move, and Edward quickens his pace. In and out, in and out, he fucks her, and he fucking loves it. She seems to as well.

"Harder, Edward. Fuck me harder. I want you to ram me with your cock."

Edward grows even harder at her dirty words, and fucks her with vigor. He quickly begins to grow close and attempts to slow down so he doesn't come before her. Bella grips his tight ass cheeks and pulls him deeper. "Please, don't slow down. I'm gonna come, Edward." Edward picks up his fast pace again and pounds into Bella. Her pussy feels like home; all of her feels like home. Edward lowers his body so his skin rests on hers and continues to pump into her as he nibbles on her neck.

"So. Fucking. Beautiful. You feel so good, baby," Edward murmurs to her.

"Oh! Oh God. Fuck, Edward. I'm coming. Uhnnnn!" Bella screams and squirms and thrusts her hips up into Edward's as hard as she can. He moves faster yet, and she rides the ecstasy tide for several moments and then works hard once more to get Edward off. She clenches her inner walls to make it that much tighter for him and it helps.

"Oh, fuck me, Bella. That feels so fucking good. I never want to stop fucking you! MMM...oh, yeah." Edward lets out a more silent release but gently bites down on Bella's shoulder. Not enough to hurt her, but enough to feel her skin under his teeth. He has never done that before to a woman, but he feels like he needs to mark her as his in some way; he is unable to figure out why.

Edward lets out a groan and comes hard and fast inside of Bella. He pumps into her a few more times and then lays his head on her chest. They lie, panting and sweaty, spent; Edward's cock still rests inside of her.

"That...that was amazing," Bella says, breathlessly.

"Yes, it was. You're amazing," Edward replies and lets out a light chuckle.

"So are you, Edward," Bella admits. The best she has ever had - not that her list is long - but still, definitely amazing. Bella smiles up at Edward but then suddenly remembers. Jesus! Edward didn't put on a fucking condom! Bella is on birth control, so on that front, they are good to go, but she doesn't know anything about Edward or how careful he has been with other women in the past.

Edward sees the concern on Bella's face and immediately worries that she regrets what they just did. Thinking that is like torture, because he loves what just happened between them. He doesn't want the answer, but he still has to ask.

"Bella? Is everything okay? You look, ah, concerned. You don't regret what just happened, do you?" he asks while his mind silently chanted: please don't say you regret it, please don't say you regret it!

"Ahh...ummm. Shit. I mean, it's a little too late for it, and I don't want to sound like a bitch or for you to think that I think you're dirty or anything like that, but, I mean...there was no condom, Edward. But I'm on birth control, so we are clear in that aspect, but...yeah," Bella says quietly. She feels like a cornered bitch and can't look Edward in the eye.

"Oh. Bella, please look at me." Edward waits for her to look at him; he sees the worry in her eyes and feels bad that he is the reason that look is there.

"I'm clean. I always wear a condom. Except this time, which is...interesting. But you don't have to worry about catching anything. Besides, I haven't had that many partners anyway. And please, don't feel guilty for saying anything, because I'm glad you did. It lets me know that you are careful with your health and also practice safe sex...well, except this time." Edward gives Bella a sheepish smile and she smirks at him. They're okay.

Edward stands up and grabs a blanket off the back of the settee and holds his hand out to Bella so they can relocate to somewhere more comfortable. Bella stands up and follows Edward to the couch where he lies down and then pulls her down beside him. He cocoons them with the blanket and pulls Bella tightly to his chest. His last thought before drifting off to sleep: he could get used to this.
The Underside of Earth - Chapter 9

Bella's POV

Edward and I once again find ourselves running through the rain to get to the car, hopping over puddles in the driveway to quickly escape the downpour surrounding us. As I settle into the leather seat I stare ahead of me, at the front of the Cullen's home. I'm doing my best to control my breathing that is coming in quick, yet heavy pants. Edward starts the car up and pushes a couple of buttons on the dash; cool air blasts me in the face and I slam myself to the back of the seat.

"Sorry," Edward mumbles. I shrug my shoulders in response, still refusing to look at him.

I feel his eyes on me and I wonder what he is thinking, I wonder if he heard any of the exchange between his mother and me. I don't know what to do with his eyes on me and the car not moving; my breathing resumes its frantic pace and I tightly grip the seat as if it will keep the anxiety attack at bay.

"Bella?" His soft voice whispers my name but I don't answer, afraid that my emotions will betray me.

I look down at my lap and suddenly feel his warm hand on my shoulder; it feels soothing, comfortable, like he has done it many times.

"Are you okay?"

Slowly, I turn to him, still looking down at my lap, hands still gripping the seat until I remember to let go. I rub my hand over my face, attempting to distract myself from the emotions that have built up. Scared, confused, lonely, desperate, sad, pain, love, loss, like. No no. Please not like. I don't want to like him. He saved me life, I must let him go before I kill him.

"Could you please take me home, Edward?" I ask. He says nothing for several moments and I wonder if I said it out loud or in my head. I almost hope I said it in my head, because I no longer recognize the sound of my own voice. I turn back to the front windshield, again staring at Edward's parent's home.

He either heard me, or takes the hint because he quickly shifts the car into gear and turns the car toward the lane and away from the house, toward my home. The drive doesn't take long, and Edward soon pulls up in my driveway. He shifts the car into gear and I think about what I should say to him. I know that I should say something; he came all this way to tell me what happened after I avoided him for weeks, and when I freaked out after hearing it all, he distracted me by taking me to see his folks. He really is a nice guy, and attractive as hell. It makes me wonder why someone like him would take the time and effort, to help me through all of this.

I look up at my house and sigh; it's dark and I forgot to leave the porch light on. I'm notorious for doing that kind of thing, it was one of the things that always drove Jake crazy. A pang of guilt and sorrow slams me in the chest and I feel a strong need for my bed.

"Thank you for coming all this way to talk to me, Edward, and filling me in on what happened that day. I'm truly sorry that I thrust all of this at you, but I hope you believe me when I say that I am incredibly thankful that you were there. I need you to know that I wasn't trying to kill myself. I could never do that." I don't think. I stop my rambling and pinch the bridge of my nose, a nervous habit. Before I say any other random mortifying thoughts, I quickly grab the handle of the door, push it open, and step out of Edward's car. Have I been rude to him? I lean down and stick my head back in the car. "I don't mean to sound bitchy or come off as ungrateful, but if I did, I apologize."

I glance back at my dark home. "Would you like to come in for tea or something? Or may need to get back, it's getting late," I say as I feel the embarrassment announce itself in my cheeks. "Nevermind, have a good night, Edward."

I quickly shut the car door and make my way up the walkway, pulling my keys from my pocket as I come to the front door. Behind me, I hear the purr of the engine cut off and turn around to see Edward walking up the foot path.

"Actually, a cup of tea would be perfect, if the offer still stands?" He offers me a small, unassuming smile. I nod and turn back to the door and unlock it; Edward follows me in.

Once inside, I begin to question why I invited him in. I fully intended on going straight to bed, but I let my mouth get away from me. At the same time, I know that if I go up to that bed and lay in it right now, sleep won't come. In fact, I don't think sleep will be coming to me for quite a while. No, it will be only nightmares that visit me for some time.

Edward clears his throat behind me and I wonder how long I've been standing in the dark house and deliberating inside of my head.

"Sorry," I whisper and quickly flick on the hall light. I remove my coat and hat before pulling the grate away from the fireplace in the living room. I reach for the wicker basket that holds kindling and retrieve the long match sticks from the table beside the mantle.

"I could do that for you, if you like," Edward offers.

I look up at him and give him a small smile in thanks. Edward beams back at me like I've just awarded him a prize and I feel a bit awkward and undeserving. Still, that smile does something to me, and as much as I don't want to admit to it, my like for him grows a small fraction. Damn it. I quickly hand him the match sticks and let him take over the fire-building chore and I move off into the kitchen but stop as I come to the doorway. I chance a glance back at him and already see him working to build the fire. My chest clenches at the site, the hole that opened up a year ago expands, yet contracts at the same time. It's both agonizing and a bit comforting to see a man sitting at the hearth again - building a fire for me. I turn back around and escape to the kitchen to make our tea as Edward completes the task I relinquished. I turn the gas burner to high on the stove and fetch my metal tea pot to fill with water, then put it on the stove.

"What kind of tea do you drink?" I holler from the kitchen.

"I don't care as long as it has caffeine," he replies.

I reach in my island drawer and pull out my stash of tea. I have quite a variety, because for some reason, whenever I am in that isle at the grocery store, I feel the need to buy more. I also keep a small jar of loose tea that I order from an online company. It's expensive, but incredibly good; I decide tonight is as good a night as any to indulge. After several minutes of fishing through my utensil drawer, I find my diffuser and fill it with the raspberry-vanilla tea. The teapot whistles it's readiness about a minute later and I remove it from the heat, turn the burner off, then pour a little bit of the water out in the sink.

When the tea is ready I pull two large, brown mugs from the cabinet and fill each of them to the brim. I leave and inch or so of room - in case I need to add...something to it. As I reach the living room I notice that Edward has not turned any other lights on. There is only the low light from the hallway and the glow of the growing fire he built. Edward's back is to me as he kneels at the fireplace, stocking the fire and rearranging the logs. I watch him for a minute, staying as quiet as possible as I stifle a giggle as I notice his crazy hair once again. Most of it is slightly matted to his head - from the torrential downpour that we ran through several times tonight - except for one rebellious strand. It sticks straight out from the side of head, just above his ear; I feel an irrational need to slick it down with the palm of my hand and my own saliva - something my mother used to do to Emmett when a comb and water or gel were not available. I want to smooth it down for him, or run my fingers through the rest of it to make it match the unruly strand.

Where did that come from?

I clear my throat to let Edward know that I'm re-entering the living room and set the two mugs of tea on the coffee table. Edward turns to me and smiles once again; I really wish he would stop smiling at me so that way of his.

"Um, I'm just going to get one more thing. I'll be right back." I quickly run back to the kitchen and pull my unopened bottle of whiskey from the cabinet. Yep, I need more alcohol. A hot toddy never hurt anyone.

I set the bottle of Irish whiskey on the table next to the mugs as Edward is, once again, looking at my painting above the hearth. When he turns back around, he looks down at the table, then back up to me, quirking an eyebrow in question.

"Ah, you don't have to have any of course, but, I think the alcohol was soaked up by all that food, and I'm feeling like another drink. You don't have to, because I know you have to drive - well of course you don't have to," I ramble on. I need to shut up, so I do...mid-sentence, or rambling.

Edward chuckles. "I think I could deal with a little bit and still manage to drive. I only have to make it out to my parents, so the drive isn't too much of a worry for me."

I uncap the bottle and pour some in my cup, then pass it to Edward. After that, we just talk. The whiskey loosens me up a little bit and I'm surprised at how easy it is to confide in Edward. We don't talk about many personal things that will move into dark territory for me, but I really enjoy our conversations. We started out sitting far apart from each other - me in Jake's chair and Edward on the floor - but as the night grows later and we both continue to spike our tea, we both end up sitting on the couch, facing each other. Edward has said something ridiculous and I am laughing so hard I'm crying, because I snorted, which made Edward laugh so hard that he snorted. And then it does it without my permission - my hand that is - moves to tousle the rest of Edward's hair to match that strand that has been bugging me all night. Before I realize what I'm doing, I've already done it and I see Edward's eyes change. I quickly pull my hand back but Edward is quick, and catches it in his own.

"Don't," he pleads. "It was an innocent move, and it's okay."

He knows me already. He has gone from being some random guy who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time to a guy that I've laughed with, that I like, that I'm getting to know and want to know even more. Really, I don't want this, but I do...and don't.

I feel my heart begin to race as I internally berate myself and wonder what the fuck I am doing. I can't like Edward. I fucking can't. I'm married...well I was, am. I still am, because it's not like I fucking divorced Jake. He died. That doesn't make me not married. It makes me his fucking widow, and it also makes me the mother to...don't go there, Bella! If I go there, I will turn into a bawling puddle of goo in front of Edward, and he will have to save me yet again. I reach for my glass and empty it yet again. Edward notices and quickly refills it with the fresh pot of tea, but doesn't put any whiskey in. I grab the whiskey and take care of it myself and Edward simply nods, then quickly stands up.

"Do you have a computer? I want to show you something," he declares as he looks around the room. He has a wicked gleam in his eye and I wonder what he is up to.

I nod to the table by the chair where my laptop sits. Edward grabs it and brings it back to the couch with him and hands it to me. I don't ask but simply power it up and wait for everything to load. When the Internet page is up and running, I hand it back to him silently, but wonder what the hell he is going to show me.

Edward taps at the keys for a couple of minutes and I drink my hot toddy as I wait. I'm beginning to feel a good buzz - a really good buzz - which makes me worry about Edward, because he has been drinking as much as I have and he has to drive home. I think he may be camping on my couch tonight and I hate and love that I both love and hate that.
"Okay. Here it is. Now, believe it or not, it was my Mom that showed me this website. Shocking, I know. But this is some really funny shit." Edward was already giggling a little at the pictures on the page and he turned it to me. The website was called "The People of Wal-Mart." I groaned a little and rolled my eyes at him.

"Are you kidding me?" I ask him without really looking at anything except the title.
"Stop! Just give it a chance. Look at the pictures."

And this is what brings me out of my unexpected funk. Edward clicks from page to page and at one point I'm laughing so hard I have to excuse myself to go to the restroom, fearing that I may piss myself. When I get back, Edward has a fresh mug of tea and whiskey, which solidifies that he will be sleeping on my couch tonight...whether he wants to or not.

We look at the ridiculous pictures of the People of Wal-Mart for a little while longer, until I am no longer able to stifle my yawns. I'm not the only one who is tired, as Edward too, can't stop yawning.

"I should probably head ou…," Edward says as he stands up, but stumbles a little. I interrupt him.

"Oh no you don't. You're sleeping on my couch tonight. No arguments, so shut up in advance," I warn.

"I won't argue, I agree. I just didn't want to put you in an awkward position."
I stand up from the couch, swaying ever-so-slightly, and grab our empty mugs and the now almost-empty bottle of whiskey, and deposit them in the sink. On the way out, I flip the kitchen light off, as well as the hallway light and quickly run upstairs to grab a pillow and a couple of blankets for Edward. When I come back down he is working to put the fire out and I place his temporary bedding at the end of the couch.

"So, um...I need to say something, and I'm not sure where to start. Ah, thank you. Thank you for everything, Edward. I was really dreading this, and I'm sure you figured that out, but really, it wasn't horrible. I know that I owe you my life and I want to thank you for saving me that day. Thank you for coming here tonight and tell me what happened, and thank you for taking me to your parents. And thank you for also distracting me this evening, because I know that if you hadn't come in for the tea...and whiskey, my night would have been much worse. So, just, um...thank you for everything. I feel lucky to have met you."

I quickly turn to run up the stairs, a bit embarrassed by my confession, but he calls to me before I am even half turned.

"Bella, wait."

I turn back toward him but keep my focus on the carpet. I wish I could be much more drunk in this moment. Edward walks to me and stands just two feet in front of me, maybe less, on the verge of entering my personal space. I don't know what he is thinking, or planning to do, but I pray to God he doesn't to want I want and don't want him to do. Kiss me. Please don't kiss me.

"Look at me please?" he requests.

I take a deep breath and look up at him and see that he has a soft, endearing smile on his face. Not predatory, not wanting, but comforting. His arms come out and around me and he pulls me to him, hugging me. I don't know what to do at first, shocked by his touch and his closeness. I feel his chin rest on the top of my head and I kind of expect that he will say something, but he doesn't. I slowly raise my arms up to go around his waist and truthfully, I can't deny that this feels good. No, this feels incredible, but it also scares the shit out of me. He holds me a bit longer and then pulls me away from him a small fraction and looks me in the eyes searching for something - what, I don't know. He leans in and pecks me on the forehead, then drops his arms. I'm stunned.

"If you hear movement up in your bathroom, it will just be me, so don't worry," he says as he fluffs out his blankets.

I nod at him, go lock the front door, then climb the stairs to my bed. What a weird fucking day. I rush through my night routine in a hurry, worrying that Edward may need the bathroom and within five minutes, I'm laying underneath my covers. I worry that sleep won't come easily, after our discussion this afternoon, but I yawn and feel the heaviness in my eyelids. I know sleep will come quickly tonight...and it does.


Bzzzzzz. Bzzzzzzzz. I sit up in bed, hearing a humming/buzzing sound. I think I've heard it before, but from where, I can't be sure. My stomach feels weird again, maybe I need to go to the restroom.

I pull the covers off of me and get out of bed but then the weirdness in my stomach becomes uncomfortable, like a tugging sensation. I know I've felt this before. I don't like this feeling. I walk from my bedroom and intend to go to the bathroom, but I miss the doorway and can't stop, I can't turn around. I keep walking until I am in front of the closed doorway of their room. The tugging is getting stronger and stronger and I feel like I could throw up.

My hand reaches up and out, twists the knob, and the door opens. I look down at my long t-shirt as the tugging sensation gets stronger and see something poking against the fabric, moving it. Slowly, I reach down and grip the hem of the shirt, which rests at my thighs, and slowly pull it up. I pull it above my panties, above my waist line and up to my diaphragm and I see them. Thousands of them. Black beetles pouring out of me, out of my stomach. I feel each and every one of their tiny legs gripping and pinching at my skin as they ripple like waves out of the gaping hole in my abdomen. The call of the swarm roars in my ears and I open my mouth to scream but no sound comes out.

I cry and try to scream for Jake, and this time, sound comes out, but it isn't Jake's name that comes out, but Edward's. I scream and all of a sudden, everything goes quiet. Two of the beetles flutter up with open, black wings and cry out to me. At the same time, they click out ma-ma at me and it's in two varying tones, one low and one high. I raise my hand to cup them, then fall to the floor.


I wake up screaming on the floor of the nursery. Edward cradles me in his arms, shushing me and trying his best to calm me down. I push my fists against him, at first scared and confused, but then I melt into his embrace. We sit there, with him rocking me for some time, the irony in that is almost comical, but I'm in no mood for funny. I sigh into his chest and slowly, he picks me up from the floor, carries me back to my room and lays me down on my bed, covering me back up.

"Bella," he says. It comes out choked.

"Please don't leave me alone, Edward."
The Underside of Earth - Chapter 8
Esme POV

Just as I dump the fettuccine into the colander to drain, I hear a car pull up outside. I'm unable to contain the grin that creeps across my face.

They've come; this will please Carlisle so very much.

I let the pasta sit in the sink and go to the cupboard and fetch two more plates to put on the table. I add two forks, spoons, and napkins beside the plates, making room for Edward and Bella. I even bought new wine glasses earlier in the day in hopes that they would come and enjoy a glass of wine with us; I guess I can open the bottle now.

I return to the pasta, placing it back in the pan and give the sauce another stir before setting the heat to low. The window above the kitchen sink is sweating with dew from the pasta being drained, but I can still tell that it's pouring down rain outside.

"Carlisle?" I yell for him. He's still in the study, making notes for an upcoming procedure he will be doing. There will be a few students sitting in and he'll have to provide them with notes as well as answer forum questions after the surgery. This is only something he does a few times a year, but he enjoys it.

A few moments later he walks into the kitchen; my back is to him, but I feel his presence. I've always been aware of it - of him. I feel his chin come to rest on my shoulder.

"Yes, darling?"

The corner of my mouth pulls up and goose pimples raise on my skin as I feel his breath on the sensitive skin of my neck. This man still has the ability to move me in the smallest ways; I pray that Edward finds our happiness someday...soon.

"Would you be a dear and open the bottle of wine in the fridge for me? We have guests." I can't help the excitement from seeping into my voice.

"Guests? What guests?"

"Edward and Bella just pulled up, they should be in here any moment."

He looks toward the entryway. "I'll go get the door, it's pouring out there."

I nod and he walks away. A few minutes later I hear Edward's voice as well as a soft female voice. She sounds sweet, but sad.

While I have yet to meet Bella, I've heard about her many times - well - more about her father, but also of what she has gone through. Carlisle's never gone into great detail about what happened to her, just saying she was in an accident last year and that she suffered a great loss. He spoke, and still does speak of her father, though.

When Charlie first passed, Carlisle was a mess - which wasn't normal for Carlisle. Of course he deals with a great amount of death in his line of work and he has learned to swallow it, if somewhat bitterly. He gives the patients he loses their time of respect and then lets it go; if he didn't, he would've lost his mind a long time ago.

But it was different with Charlie; Carlisle had deep respect for him. He had raised Bella alone for so many years and was a good man; he took care of the community and was known for his humbleness. But if you were lucky enough to get to know him better, he showed you another side; he had quite a quirky sense of humor from what Carlisle tells me.

When Charlie passed, Carlisle had a really hard time letting it go. He had come to be pretty good friends with the Chief. Of course most of Carlisle's time was spent in the hospital, and Charlie was brought there quite often due to his line of work; it was only a matter of time before the two of them had become friends.

Carlisle returns to the kitchen and pulls out the bottle of wine to open.

"I asked Edward to show Bella around, she seems a bit nervous." His voice is quiet, contemplative. He completes his task quietly.

"I imagine tonight is very difficult for her. Perhaps we should try to keep the dinner discussion as light as possible?"

"I agree, Esme." He grabs my hand brushing his thumb across my knuckles. "Shall we eat then?"

"Yes, everything is ready. Would you call them?"

He nods his head and walks out of the kitchen. I hear him yell for Edward and Bella and then muffled chatter comes from the direction of the dining room.

We eat our evening meal in a comfortable chatter. The topics are light and comfortable. Edward and Bella eat lightly due to the fact that they ate a little before they came over. I'm relieved at this, because Bella looks horribly skinny. I ask Bella many questions about her work; I have a deep love of art. She tells me that it's been a while since she has worked on anything, but that she plans to start again soon; she is awaiting inspiration. When we are all finished and full we make our way into the den, where the piano sits.

I look to my son. "Edward?"

"Do I have to, Mom?" He looks a little sheepish.

"Please. Just one or two?" I know he will. I know he wants to, but doesn't want come off as a show off. I often ask him to play after supper when he's visiting and miss the days when he was still at home with us and played every day.

He nods his head and moves to sit on the bench at the piano. I watch Bella watch him.
"Play one of yours, Edward." He nods and begins to play. I think Bella's jaw practically leaps off of her face.

I lean close to her, placing my hand on her shoulder. "Edward has played since he was four years old, and has been composing since he was twelve." I'm not bragging, but I won't say I'm not proud. His playing makes the most stoic person want to weep and laugh all at once.

"He's amazing. I mean, I don't think I've ever heard anything so beautiful. It's almost haunting really, in some parts anyway," she whispers back to me, like she doesn't dare mar the sound in the room.

I reach my hand down to hers where it dangles at her side and squeeze it. "He wrote it the night he came home from meeting you."

She squeezes my hand back at that, just quickly, and then releases it. I motion for her to have a seat in the chair by the fireplace.

Edward plays two more songs, and then we talk for quite a while. I notice that the time is growing late and I excuse myself to the kitchen to clean things up.
"Esme, may I help you clean up?"

I jump a little. "Oh! Bella, you startled me a bit. Thank you, but you're our guest. Besides, I only have to load the dishwasher and hand-wash a few larger pans."

"Well, the men are talking shop, I don't really fit into that conversation well. Would you mind if I just sit at the island then?"

"I wouldn't mind that at all, actually. I'd love it."

I wash dishes as we talk. She speaks of her brother a little bit, and I can tell that she respects him very much. Without me noticing, she somehow sidles herself up beside me and begins drying what I've washed. She seems comfortable like this, so I let her be. I direct her where to put things away when she asks.

I hand her a dripping metal pot to dry as I begin on the cutlery.

"Where does this one go?" She holds the dry stock pot in her hand.

"Oh, that one I keep above the range. There's a little step ladder through the laundry room. Do you want me to grab it?"

"No, I can get it." She walks through the door and comes back with the step stool, placing it in front of the range. She climbs up and opens the cupboard door; I hand her the pot to make sure she will not lose her balance and fall. She lifts her arms up a bit to put the pot on the shelf.

And then I see it, just as her shirt rises up a little from the movement of her arms. I see the faint line of a scar on her abdomen. I'm unable to see just how big it is from the angle, and I don't want to gawk at her either.

"It's from the accident." She looks at me, with the easiness of our last conversation gone.

"What is dear?" She catches me off guard and I feel bad that I had been staring.

"My scar. You made a noise. You saw my scar, right?" she asks me as she climbs down the step stool.

"I'm sorry; I'm so rude. I didn't mean to stare, I just, didn't realize. Carlisle only told me there was an accident, you know, confidentiality and all that."

She nods her head, then looks at me a little shyly. She pulls her shirt up just a bit and reveals the scar I had only glimpsed. It's actually quite large, and in a semi-circle around her belly button.

She traces it with her finger, "It's from a piece of glass from the passenger side window. It would've just sliced me open, a flesh wound, but then I shot forward into the dash and put pressure on it, which made it actually puncture my abdomen. I believe Carlisle tried to close it up as quickly as possible to stop the bleeding and protect …" she stopped her course of words. "That's why the stitching is puckered."

She walks back to the sink and begins washing the rest of the utensils. I let her and pick up the towel she'd been drying with, reversing our roles. We stand there in silence, doing the dishes, and her scar keeps flashing in my mind. Carlisle's words from last year replay over and over in my head, his anguish was so heavy. He had wanted to tell me more, but I wouldn't let him, afraid that too much would be said and I would blurt it out in front of the wrong people and get him into trouble.

And then it just kind of hits me. "Protect what, Bella?" She drops whatever she was washing, and it makes a muddled clank at the bottom of the sink.

I stare at the side of her face as she looks out the kitchen window into the darkness. Her chest rises and falls a little quicker and her lip quivers, just once.

I barely hear her.

"Them." Is all she says.

Oh good God in Heaven.

I take her wet hands out of the water and grasp them in mine. I want to pull her to me like my daughter, but I've been down a road close to hers. I look into her eyes and see the panic there. I just nod my head, I understand. She's close to tears, but I don't want to put her into that kind of awkward situation and have her face Edward with red rimmed eyes.

"Can I tell you something, Bella?"

She nods her head and I pull her to the island, guiding her to a bar stool. I go back to the fridge and pull out two bottles of beer, open them, and go to sit beside her at the island.

She pulls a long drink from her bottle and takes a deep, shaky breath.

I take a drink, then begin. "Before I met Carlisle, I was married to another man." I feel her eyes on me, but I continue. "We were high school sweethearts, and were married shortly after graduation. I had intended on going to college the following year, but I got pregnant. I was excited, but at the same time, not. I wanted to go to college first, it was important to me. My husband, Danny, said that I could go later, but that I didn't really need to. That made me mad. It felt like he was trying to control me, and he was using our unborn child to do so. I decided to look into some courses at the community college. I worked during the day to help pay the bills, so I was only able to take night courses, which didn't really bother me. I didn't tell Danny right away. I knew he wanted me to stay home and would be angry with me for a while, but a week before my classes were to begin, I knew I had to talk to him about it. I made a really nice meal that night, and after supper, I told him." I pause and take a drink of my beer. Bella does the same.

"Then he hit me. And he hit me again, and again. I ran up the stairs and into the first door, the bathroom. There was no phone so I figured I would just stay in there until he calmed down. I couldn't crawl out the window as it was too small for me to fit through, and it was on the second story anyway. But he began banging at the door, and the next thing I knew, he had broken through the door. He swore at me and called me ugly things. He grabbed me by my hair and threw me down the staircase. Our neighbor called the police and I was taken to the hospital …which is where I met Carlisle."

"You know …" I pause, looking for the strength to say the next few words. "I lost the baby. I wasn't incredibly far along, about twelve weeks. I was still in the first trimester and barely showing. Carlisle was my doctor, and when he told me, he was shaking. He was barely able to hold back the tears, but he did. He didn't even know me, yet he had all this compassion and sorrow for me. I told him it would be okay, although I didn't really believe it myself."

I look at our hands that are still joined, and I take hers in both of mine. "I hope you don't find me a sick or mean person when I say this, Bella, but it's important to my story. Of course I was sad that the child had died, but I couldn't find it in myself to really be sick about it. It's true that I hadn't been excited about the child, and I hadn't really felt any connection to it. Does that make me a horrible person? I don't know, but the truth is, I wouldn't change any of it. Not a single moment. It brought me to what I have now, and what I have now is absolutely perfect in every way."

At that moment, a throat cleared behind me. Edward stood there with a look of confusion on his face. I'm not sure how much he heard of my story, although he already knows it. We don't hide things in this family, but I'm sure that if he did hear, he will be confused behind my reasoning for telling her.

I finish off my beer and stand up, as does Bella. I pull her into a hug. "If you ever need to talk, you know where I live," I whisper to her quietly.

She nods her head and walks over to Edward just as Carlisle enters the room.

"It was so nice to see you again, Carlisle. My dad talked about you often, he considered you a good friend."

I look to Carlisle and see him swallow thickly. He nods his head. "Thank you, Bella, and it was very nice seeing you again as well. You are welcome in our home any time."
She nods her head and Edward gently pushes her toward the foyer by placing his hand on the small of her back. His gentleness melts my heart a little bit more.

I make my way toward Carlisle as I hear the door click shut behind them. My arms go around his torso and my head to his broad chest. I feel the warmth of his arms around my shoulders and he rests his head on mine.

"That poor woman. She has been through so much. She's strong; I could see in her eyes that she wants to try again, but she's so frightened. I hope she tries again."

I feel Carlisle nod his head.

"Let's go to bed. It has been a very long day."

"I love you, Carlisle."

"And I love you, Esme."
The Underside of Earth - Chapter 7
Edward POV

I wake up to my pager going off at four-thirty; slightly disoriented, I look around and remember that I'm in the on-call room after working a late shift last night. Out of nowhere, the nervousness hits me like a ton of bricks as I remember what day it is. I stay put on the bed, waiting for my rolling stomach to cooperate with me – it's a good thing it's empty.

Ever since the day I met Bella, my life has been passing by in odd spurts. The few days after the incident I was off of work and spent them with the family. I was kept busy by Mom and Alice while visiting, but as soon as I returned to Seattle and was back to work, I didn't have much to distract me but work itself; some times it worked, but most times, not.

I knew that Bella needed some time before calling me; I expected it. She would need to get home and get back into her life and just plain sort this shit out in her head; hell, even I had to do that. So that's what I did, then I waited for her to call me, because she said she would.

But the first full week went by, and then, so did the second.

By the middle of the third week, I wanted to pull all of my hair out. Why hadn't she called? Didn't she want to know what happened?

I tried my best to keep myself busy. I worked longer shifts at the hospital than I should have and did my best to stay under the chief's radar. I didn't need him harassing me about getting enough rest and having a life outside of the hospital; the long shifts worked for a short time, and I temporarily forgot about the dreams and images that plagued me. When I finally made it home late in the evenings or early mornings, all I could manage to do was throw myself on the bed and pray for sleep. Like I said, it worked for a while, a very short while. A couple weeks after the "incident" I began to have weird dreams - disturbing dreams - dreams where I was too late in saving her.

The third week passed. The fourth week…I got pissed.

I was angry with Bella for not calling me, and pissed off at Emmett for not making Bella call me, and even pissed off at Alice for repeatedly telling me to give Bella the benefit of the doubt.
"She needs more time, Edward." Well, I'd had plenty of time, 'cuz what the fuck about my feelings, my thoughts, my dreams?

I gave her plenty of time; she chose to avoid the entire situation, which resulted in her trauma becoming my trauma. I couldn't get it, or her - if I was being honest -out of my head.

I was really beginning to dislike Bella. In some of my most angry moments I would see her face under that water, and I felt sad, and angry, and maybe a little scared too. I saw the image of her face when I closed my eyes at times, or in my dreams. I saw her beauty and her pain, and that was when I began to like Bella.

It was the Tuesday of the fifth week when I finally broke down and called Emmett for the second time. All it took was a "Hey, Edward," and I kind of just unloaded on him. To his credit, he didn't get pissed off at me as I ranted and raved about his sister and not being able to understand her thought process. I mean, I would want to know if it were me.

Emmett reassured me that Bella didwant to know, but that her pain had been deep, and that she had been through too much to simply overcome everything and come to terms with her past. He told me she'd had a hard year, and you just can't push healing. He said that it was easier for her to put off talking to me because by doing so, she could delay the imminent onslaught of fresh pain that hearing the story would cause.
The way he spoke about her past sounded a bit cryptic to me, but I didn't know her whole story. After I ended the call with Emmett, I was left quite confused and felt slightly guilty for being mad at her…well, just a little.

Emmett had advised me to call her, though, and I agreed that I needed to. It was time to get this out in the open so she and I could get past it. I didn't really want to call her, as I wanted her to call me, but apparently, that wasn't going to happen. Alice herself had warned me not to be calling her every five minutes to see if we could talk, but I had given her over five weeks, and this shit just needed out.

I gave myself one more day to think over what I wanted to say to her before I finally called.

The day has finally come; I am meeting Bella at her place today, at two-thirty this afternoon, and I'm nervous as hell.

I move from the cot and dial the number from my page and get the news that my six o'clock surgery on an eight week old is being rescheduled due to a fever. I really wish I could be in that surgery right now, concentrating on valves, vessels, and blood flow. Instead, I'm a nervous wreck, practically pulling every unruly strand of hair from my head.

I grab my bag from my locker and chat with some of the nurses for a while, giving them a few last instructions. I make one more round checking in on patients and finally make my way out of the PICU. I throw my bag into the back of the Volvo once in the parking garage and head back to my house.

The drive from the hospital to my place doesn't take long and soon I pull into my garage and head inside. It's now just a little after eight in the morning, but if I'm going to make it to Forks on time, I'm going to need to leave no later than nine o'clock or I won't make the four hour trip in time. I run upstairs and quickly throw together a weekend bag, packing a few sets of clothes as well as the essentials. I make my way into the closet and step out of my scrubs, debate on what to wear for a few minutes, and then scold myself, because it doesn't really matter. It's not like it's a date or anything. Huh, what brought that on? I need comfortable; this is going to be weird. I opt for my favorite pair of faded blue jeans and a button down shirt and my black Nike's. Casual, but comfortable. Yeah, that's how I think I should look; I don't want to come off looking like I am trying too hard. Trying too hard for what? For crying out loud, has someone slipped me some estrogen?

Shaking myself from the ridiculous thoughts running through my head, I grab my bag and head down to the kitchen, drob the bag by the door to the garage, then grab my phone and dial Mom & Dad's.

Mom answers. "Cullen Residence."

"Hey Mom."

"Hi, Edward. Aren't you supposed to be in surgery right now?"

"Yeah. We had to reschedule, the infant had a fever."

"Oh, that's too bad. But it's better to be safe. So, are you heading home soon then? Are you going to stop out to the house before going to see Charlie's daughter?"

I somehow keep forgetting that Bella is Charlie's daughter and that my mom and dad have that connection to her family.

"Well, I planned on going straight to her place, but that was only if I left right after surgery. I think I may get to town a bit sooner, so I think I will be. Is Alice supposed to be around?"

"No. Alice said she had to run to Tacoma for something. I didn't ask what for."

"Is Dad at the hospital today?"

"No, but he's on-call, so who knows what his schedule will look like. You know, Edward, if things start to get strained with Bella, you could bring her over here. I know your father would love to see her."

"Why would things get strained, Mom?" I ask, slightly annoyed. I don't want to be bothered by her suggestion, but I am.

"Calm down, Edward. I just know how passionate you get when telling a story, and just how you are in general. And this is quite a story to tell…so just keep it in mind. If you need a break, come on out."

"Okay. Thanks, Mom. I guess I'll be there a little after one o'clock or so."

"Ok, talk to you then, dear heart. Love you and drive safely."

"I will. Love you too, Mom." I disconnect the call. I love my mom, but at times, she is a bit too forward, although very considerate.

I quickly walk through the house and make sure all the lights are off and that the front door is locked. I never use it, but I still always check it. Yep, locked. I grab my bag and head out the kitchen door to the garage, locking it behind me.

As soon as I'm outside of Seattle, I grab my iPod and turn on some music; not really sure of what I'm in the mood for, I set it to shuffle. I try to focus on the upcoming conversation with Bella, and to imagine what she is going to say after I've told her. I think about how I'm sure she will react, but after awhile, the music variety has me imagining odd scenarios. I turn the shuffle off and just settle on classical.


The drive is long and after a while I think back to that day when I finally left the hospital, feeling like a bundle of nerves. What should have taken me a little over an hour to get back to my parents house that day, instead, took forty minutes, and that was even in the shoddy weather. When I banged my way into the house, mom was the first person I encountered. She knew from one look that I was ready to explode. She silently walked over to me and wrapped me in her arms. Petite as she may be, she is a fierce mother and protector. The hug was all it took, I just dropped the entire bomb of the afternoon and evening on her. She listened fully through to the end, and when she knew I was finished, she began to ask questions. After talking for about an hour, she casually changed the subject, somehow knowing that I was ready to be done talking about it all; I was relieved. I had nothing more to say of it.

Throughout the past five weeks, she had occasionally brought it up, but I would quickly change the subject and she would drop it.


The drive to Forks is entirely too short in my current frame of mind, but, after four hours of driving, I decide that I can't predict how this is going to go down; I'm now resigned to wait and see. I pull up in front of my parents home, still wondering how the rest of this day will go, and park my car in front of the house. I step out and stretch my legs and arms before grabbing my bag from the back seat, and head inside. I place my bag by the door as I quietly remove my shoes, then pad up the stairs.
"Mom? Dad?" The house is quiet, but the lights are on.

"I'm in the library, Edward. Come on up." I retrace my steps to grab my bag and climb the flight of stairs, turning into the library. My dad sits at his desk rifling through a stack of papers.

"Hey, Dad. Where's Mom at?"

"Hi, Edward. She ran to the market to get a few ingredients for supper. She said that she would try to get back before your…appointment." He eyes me, and I can see the corner of his mouth just barely lift.

"What?" I know that look. And his tone at the word appointment; by appointment, he means date.

"Nothing really, it's just that your mother is getting a little excited with this, and I told her she shouldn't. This is hardly a celebratory gathering. And besides, you two aren't even planning to come out here, correct?"

"No, not at all. And she needs to keep her head straight about this. This is so far from being a date. It's going to be more depressing than anything. And if we do show up, it may not be under the best of circumstances."

He nods, looking sad for a moment, then composes himself and changes his expression. "Edward. Just… be gentle and tell her slowly. As much as you want to get it over with - and she probably does as well - you need to make sure you get every detail out there. Don't throw it all at her at once. Give her some time to swallow it all down. Okay?"

I nod, agreeing. I glance at the clock and realize we have now been talking for thirty minutes.

"I better get going, Dad. I have to be there by two-thirty. What's Mom making for supper anyway?"

"Alfredo with asparagus and chicken."

My stomach grumbles; she knows that's my favorite. She did that shit on purpose.

"Terrific." I grab my bag from the floor just outside of the office and head up to my old bedroom on the third floor. I toss it on the bed as I enter and make my way into my bathroom to make sure my shirt hasn't gotten all wrinkled on the drive. The shirt is fine, the hair is horrendous…as usual. I flip the light off in the bathroom, and in the bedroom as well, before heading back downstairs to the kitchen. Mom is just returning with her shopping bags and trying to hurry to the counter before she drops a bag.

I quickly grab the falling bag and then start pulling ingredients, helping to put them away. I turn and face my mother. "So, alfredo? Why on earth would you be making that when you know I won't be here?"

"HA! You're not the only one who likes it, Edward. It's a free country and I can make what I want, when I want."

"Yes, it is, Mother, but no one really likes it that much, except for me."

She shrugs. "I felt like making it."

I shake my head at her and the conversation is over with her leaving the kitchen. I follow her out, but she starts to head up the stairs. I look out one of the windows and see that within the forty-five minutes I have been here, it has started raining. I hop down the stairs and grab a jacket from a peg beside the front door since I didn't bother to bring my own.

"I'm taking off; I want to drive around for just a bit and still get there a bit early," I yell up the stairs.

Mom walks down a few steps. "Don't forget what I said, Edward. And be nice."

"I'm always nice. Bye." I wave at her and open the door before she has time to comment.

Once in my car, I shake my hair out and start the car; turning it around and head into town. The rain is really starting to come down, so I don't drive around for long. I locate her home and notice that it is only ten minutes after two; I'm really early, but don't want to put it off any longer.

I park my car in her driveway and put the hood up on my jacket. I have to run to the front door, with the rain coming down in sheets, my clothes are soaking through quickly. The front stoop is covered, and for that I'm thankful; but it won't help my hair out one bit, it's already clinging to my head and water rivulets run down my neck and into the back of my shirt. I should have brought an umbrella; I'm sure I look similar to a drowned rat.

I raise my hand to knock on the green door but it remains in the air, unmoving; the anxiety and stress of the last almost six weeks swirling in my chest. My nervousness makes me sweat a little, even in this cold, and now I'm praying I don't smell. Maybe I should go back and put on more deodorant; I should have done it when I was assessing my hair and clothes at home.

Just knock damn it. My fist makes contact with the door and I wait...and wait. I knock again. What's taking her so long?

"Just a minute. I'll be right there."

After a few minutes the door is opens.

I'm not expecting what I see. She's still beautiful, like I remember, but she appears to have lost weight, which actually has me fearful for her. They only times I've seen her was in the library - when she was running - but I was never able to get a close look at her face. The only other times I had seen her was when I pulled her from the ocean, looking close to dead, which was quite unpleasant, and then at the hospital. Even there she was pretty, but she looked incredibly washed out and sallow. I notice her staring at me, waiting for me to say something. Snap out of it, Edward!

"Ah, hi. How are you, Bella?"

"Hello, Edward. I'm good, come on in." She opens the door wider for me and I step in.

"You're early. I was counting on the last twenty minutes to finish up in the kitchen," she says as she walks into the house. I shut the door and quickly follow after her.

"Sorry, I got into town a little earlier than expected, my surgery this morning was canceled. I can help in the kitchen, if you like."

"I'm almost done, but come in." I follow her into the smallish kitchen and seat myself on a bar stool at the island.

"So why was your surgery cancelled?" She moves around the kitchen fluidly, looking into the oven and inspecting her creation.

"Well, the infant I was to operate on had a fever. I can't do the operation when there is an infection present, so we had to reschedule. The child needs the surgery, but she can go without it for a few more weeks."

She nods and continues to bustle around. "You want something to drink? I have a spicy, sweet wine, beer, or water."

"I'll take a beer. Thanks."

She bends over and reaches into the refrigerator; I would be lying if I said I didn't check out her backside. I did...and it is a very nice backside, but now is not the time to dwell on that, if ever. She turns back around, and thankfully my eyes are not still focusing on her pert little ass. She opens the bottle of beer and hands it to me.

I gladly take it from her and take a swig of it. "Thank you."

"Forgive me for saying so, Bella, but are you eating well? You look like you've lost weight since I last saw you, and you were skinny to begin with. I would know."

She had her back to me, standing at the sink, but quickly spins on her heel. She eyes me in a not-so-pleasant way.

"I do not intend to be bitchy here, but let's get one thing straight, Dr. Cullen…"


She lets out a huff of air. "Edward," she replies, with the tone of agitation evident.

"This is not a hospital, or a doctor's office, or even some small family practice for that matter." She pauses and gestures around her, waving her arm. "This, is my home, my safe haven. So I would appreciate it if you would check your stethoscope at the door. If you can't do that, then we're done here."

I look down for a second, buying time, and then back up into the brown pools of her eyes. My voice comes out quiet, yet rugged. "I apologize. You're right, but I have to admit that I am a bit concerned for you."

"I appreciate it, Edward, but there's no need to be, so...just, stop it. Okay?" She turns back around, returning to the oven and opens it.

If she weren't so skinny to the point of worrying me, it would almost be funny. Funny that this slight woman is putting me in my place as if I were a child. With anyone else I'd feel patronized, but for some reason I don't with her. However, her small frame is far from funny; I'll have to figure out a way to fatten her up a bit. Making plans, Cullen?

She pulls a tray from the oven and the divine smell hits my nostrils. My stomach immediately growls in response, eliciting a smirk from Bella.

"That smells absolutely divine, Bella. What is it?"

She laughs and it sounds like tinkling wind chimes. "Individual spinach quiches with shitake mushrooms, shrimp, bacon and a little bit of seasoned brie. I made dessert tarts as well."

"That sounds mouthwatering, what are the dessert tarts if I may ask?" My stomach growls even louder and my saliva glands seem to be working overtime. I hadn't realized I was so hungry until now.

"They're black and red raspberry tarts with a sweetened cream cheese. Of course, the berries are not in season now, but I still had some in my freezer from last year. They tasted fine after I thawed them, and there was no freezer burn."

She sounds a little nervous explaining herself, like I will think frozen berries are disgusting. "I'm sure they will taste perfect. Are we going to be eating soon?"

She smiles a little and now I simply feel like a goon; pretty soon I will resemble a drooling dog. "Yeah, we can eat now, Edward. I just want to put these on some plates and we can go into the living room. Um...feel free to look around if you like." She gestures to the rest of the house with the spatula she holds in her small hand.

I get up off the barstool, grab my beer from the island, and head out of the kitchen. In front of me is the living room, where Bella has a fire going. The house must be a bit old as there is no main light fixture in the room, but lit up with a variety of lamps, and of course the fire as well. A few pieces of artwork decorate the walls, and I make my way to the mantle to inspect the piece that rests above it.

It's maybe the most pivotal piece in the room and one of the most moving pieces I have ever seen. The atmosphere of the painting is nostalgic, and serene, but slightly haunting. There are mostly gray and blue hues with dirty-tan undertones. The light in the painting shines hazily through trees of a surrounding forest. The lone subject of the painting floats in its ubiquity; it invokes a feeling of shyness.

A Black Swan.

I search the painting, looking for a signature from the artist, just barely finding it. Just above the gilded frame in a deep scarlet paint is the signature. IB. IB? It takes me a moment and then in my mind, I see the name on the file I held five weeks ago. Isabella Black. She painted this? I move to the next painting in the room which is in a completely different style from the first painting. Again, IB. There are several other paintings in the small room, but they are all by various other artists. I retrace my steps back to the mantle, and lean in closer to look at the signature.

From behind me, a throat clears and I jump, bumping the grate in front of the fireplace. Thankfully, it doesn't fall over, although I almost do.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. See something interesting?" She sounds like she is holding in a laugh.

"Go ahead, you can laugh. You scared me a bit. I guess I was engrossed. Ah, how long were you standing there?"

She laughs just a little. "Not long, only a few minutes."

I feel my eyes bug a little. This incites a bigger laugh from her. It's a nice sound, I need to figure out how to get her to laugh like that more often. Much more often.

"I'm just kidding; I barely just walked in the room."

She walks the rest of the way into the room and sets the two plates on the table in front of a tan couch. "I'll just get my drink and then we can eat…and then talk." She sounds so reluctant to say the last part.

"Okay." I make my way to the couch and sit down at the far end. She returns with her drink and sits in the chair opposite of me and grabs her plate.

"Dig in?" It escapes her as a question.

I grab my plate and we both begin to eat. An awkward silence settles between us, but I'm not sure I should start yet.

"This is really good, Bella. You didn't have to cook, but I must tell you I'm glad you did."

She nods. "You say it's good like you're surprised. Had you pegged me as a horrible cook, Edward?

I like when she says my name. It sounds nice coming from her mouth, in her voice, rolling off her lips. I clear my throat. "No no. Not at all. I...that came out all wrong, I apologize."

"It's perfectly fine. I'm chiding you anyway, you seem nervous."

I take a deep breath. Honesty is best. "I guess I am a bit. It's just been a while, and to be honest, I'm afraid of how you're going to react to what I tell you." She simply nods.

"Well, why don't we just enjoy the rest of the meal, and then we can get to that."

We eat the rest of the meal talking about random things here and there. When we're finished, I help her carry our plates back to the kitchen and offer to help her wash the dishes; she refuses and says she'll get to them later. I turn to go back to the living room but see her reach into a cabinet above the refrigerator. She pulls down a bottle of whiskey.

She turns around and looks at me, raising an eyebrow. "One shot glass or two? I'm going to need liquid courage for this."

I don't think getting sloshed is a good idea for me, or for her, but I don't think one will hurt. "Two."

She nods and grabs two shot glasses. She gestures to the living room once again and I walk that way. My stomach churns a little bit.

"Could I use your restroom first?" I ask.

"Oh yeah. It's upstairs though, at the end of the hall." She points in the direction with her head.

I make my way up the stairs and to the restroom, close the door behind me and flip the light on; my nerves are bundling up in my stomach. I splash a bit of cool water on my face and then towel it dry. Assessing my hair in the mirror, I notice that it has dried, resuming its poofy defiance to me. I take a few deep breaths to clear my head and head back downstairs. Bella sits in the same spot as when I left her, waiting, with two shots poured and sitting in front of her. She picks hers up, so I sit and do the same.

"Um…I would toast, but this is not really the toasting kind of situation." She shrugs and tips the shot back. I follow her lead.

I have to agree. This is definitely not a toasting situation.

She screws the lid back on the bottle and after a few moments, looks up to me. Fear is etched into her eyes and her shoulders are quite rigid.

"Try to relax. I'm going to try to soften this the best I can, but I am going to tell you everything."

She nods and sits back in the chair. "Ok, just go then."

So I do.

I tell her everything. I tell her about running through that downpour, following her. When I saw her bend over, and then straighten and run again. I tell her the way the sand felt under my feet and how it seemed to feel like such a long time before I got to the water and that she was already submerged. I explained my fear that I would be too late in that moment, knowing I still had to get that far out into the water and she was already under.

I tell her I was thankful for the lightening while submerged in water for the first time in my life; it allowed me to see underwater in the murky ocean to find her.
I explain what she looked like when I finally found her in the freezing water. Her hair flowing out from her head, like a halo.

I continue to tell her our story, but by the time I hear her breathing begin to pick up, I'm almost to the end.

"Your brother pulled both of us to shore. I was close, but I thought we were both going down because I was tired and my limbs were beginning to tingle. I gave you mouth to mouth and you finally spit up water. And then you began apologizing to Emmett. After that, he took you to the hospital, and I followed, and you know the rest."

I wasn't looking at her, and hadn't through most of the story. I stole a glance now.

Tears streamed down her face as she too, looked down at the floor. She quickly looked up and caught my eyes. She stood up and started pacing in the small room.

She was looked trapped, boxed in. Unsure of what I should do, I thought of Esme.

I quickly stood up. "Come on." I held my hand out to her.

"What? Where?" Her last word came out all choked-up sounding; heartbreaking.

"We both need some fresh air, maybe even a little bit of rain to get us out of this current mindset. Let's go."

She contemplates for a minute then swiftly goes to the front door and grabs a jacket from the antique coat tree. She hands me mine and opens the door; the roar of the rain is almost deafening.

"Should I grab an umbrella?" she asks loudly, trying to talk over the roar of the rain.

"I don't think it'll help. We will just have to run for it. My car is unlocked." She nods and I run first, knowing she will need to shut the door and turn the light out. I briefly worry about the fire, but it was close to burning out. Besides, we won't be at my parent's for long.

She is in the car after several moments and looks at me. Out of nowhere, she busts out laughing. "I'm sorry, but your hair is quite ridiculous in this rain."

I grimace at her a bit. "Well, Ms. Black, I'm glad I can amuse you." Truly, I'm just thankful that she is no longer crying; it was too heartbreaking.

She looks out the window as I start the car and then back to me. "So, where to?"

I back out of the driveway and head towards my parents house. "Someone else wants to see you tonight."

She looks at me sharply, questions in her eyes.