Living Free - Chapter 4: Settling In
Chapter 4 – Settling In

Bella's POV ~

The first night away from home and with Edward, was...strange.  He had bought me a couple pairs of pants and some shirts for me to put on, but I felt awkward in them.  They were a little too loose in the waist and I had to wear one of his belts to keep the pants from falling down.  He had also washed all of his bedding for me to sleep in his bed.  He said he would sleep on the couch.  I don't remember it happening, but Edward told me I cried in my sleep most of the night, and by morning, he was lying on top of the covers on the bed, holding me.  I was startled when I woke, I wasn't used to touching a person of the opposite sex; but it felt nice.

There were so many things to get used to.  The indoor plumbing, the washer and dryer, the dishwasher, telephones, traffic.  It was all so overwhelming.  The first time Edward turned the television on in front of me, I cowered in fear, almost waiting for the Devil's tongue to lick out at me.  Instead, people moved and spoke inside of it.  I was still wary of it and stayed behind Edward, if I could, when it was turned on.  Something that astounded me in Edward's home was the refrigerator.  I couldn't believe all of the things I found inside of it.  Edward made me something to eat my second day there - I argued with him that men didn't cook.  He told me it was quite the contrary, many men cooked, and some of them did it for a living.  I allowed him to make the sandwich for me and nearly gagged at the flavor. 

"This won't do, Edward.  How can you call this meat?  It doesn't taste like meat at all.  I think I should do the cooking.  Would that be okay?" I asked him.  I didn't want to step on his toes, but I feared for his health if he ate that horrible food every day.

"I think that can be arranged, as long as I can help every once in a while," he teased me as he tucked a strand of hair behind my ears.  I nodded at him in agreement and noticed that for once, I wasn’t nervous when he touched me.  I was getting used to it.

That was something else that was incredibly difficult to get used to.  Not only were the clothes different, but my head felt bare.  I was used to my bonnet and having my hair covered up.  Edward seemed to love my hair though; I often caught him twisting the long strands around his fingers.  I didn't tell him, but it pleased me that he did that.

I was at Edward's for three days when I finally worked up the nerve to go and explore every little inch of his home.  He had begged me to do it the day I arrived, but I had not been ready.  I had been mentally exhausted and feeling incredibly overwhelmed.  When I had finally looked around, I was pleasantly surprised when I’d found a lovely reading area with an assortment of books.  Needless to say, I’d ignored the rest of the loft after finding those; it quickly became my favorite place to relax. 

On my fifth day away from home, I found out that Edward actually owned the company I had presumed he had been working for when we met.  He told me that being the owner made it possible for him to make his own hours, but he still had to be there all the time. The next day was a Monday and I knew Edward had to work, so I decided I would make him a nice meal to prepare him for his day.

Edward finished the hearty breakfast I made him and went up to change into his work clothes.  He came back into the kitchen in his work clothes and set a few folders on the island.

“Wow.  That was an amazing breakfast, Isabella.  You have to promise not to cook that much every morning though, or I may grow fat,” he said, then chuckled.

“I think you could stand to put on a few pounds, Edward.  But I promise not to cook that much…every day.”

He laughed.  “The same goes with you.  You could easily stand to gain ten pounds.”  He smiled at me and then left for work.

When he was gone, I washed the dishes by hand, and put them all away.  Edward had shown me how to use the washer and dryer, which I found that I loved, and so I folded the clothes that were in the dryer and put them away in his closet.  After that, I had nothing to do.

Edward told me that his home was actually housed in an old warehouse that his father had owned and sold to him.  There had been many things wrong with it when he’d bought it, but you couldn't tell now.  It was beautiful and quite immense.  The entire building was made of red brick and Edward had put up several walls himself as well as building the immense loft area.  Most of the decorations, including his black leather furniture, felt masculine to me.  He had lots of tiny little lights on the ceilings in every room and each little bulb pointed off in a different direction.  There was also a television in a few of the rooms.  I didn't know what other people had in their homes, but I found the television, or TV as Edward called it, in the front living area to be quite large.

His bedroom was up a set of metal stairs that opened into the loft area.  He had a sitting area with chairs and several bookshelves that I was finding I already liked.  Beyond that was his bedroom, but it was blocked off by what Edward called ‘frosted glass’.  There was a large bathroom just beside his bedroom, as well as a large closet that you could walk into.  The closet was nearly larger than my bedroom back home.  The other bathroom was downstairs, across from the kitchen.  Edward had a room that he called his office where his desk and computer sat, along with many books.

The kitchen was my favorite place at Edward's.  It had every kind of utensil, pot, pan, plate, or cup I could ever dream of needing.  I had grown to like the electric coffee pot quite a bit, among some other things.  I wasn't all that fond of the microwave oven, but the gas oven was quite nice, as well as the gas burners on top of it.

There was a lot of natural light in Edward's home.  The west wall of the loft had many windows that, at times, made me nervous.  Edward assured me that most of them were too high up for anyone to see into them; at night, Edward had electric shades that descended over them to give us privacy.

After my first entire week with Edward, I wrote a letter to my family.  I didn't tell them much, and especially not that I was staying with a man, but I told them that I was well and that I loved them.  I didn't know what they were thinking, but I knew it must be the worst.  I was sure my father felt that I had betrayed him, as I believe he thought I would be returning home every night, like my sisters had.  Just as I put the letters on the entry table by the front door, Edward walked in.  He wore an exuberant smile on his face and I wondered what had made him so happy.

"You look quite happy.  Might I ask why?" I inquired.

He lifted my hand up to his mouth and kissed it.  "Can't I just be happy to see you?" he asked.

I felt my cheeks grow warm and simply nodded.  "What would you like for supper tonight?"

Edward set his keys down and removed his shoes, placing them in the hall closet.  "Well, I'd like to talk to you about that."

And that was how I met Angela and Ben.  Ben worked for Edward and somehow they came upon the subject of the women in their lives.  Ben told Edward that the beginning of his relationship with his girlfriend was hard, because she was ex-Hutterite and that they lived a bit like the Amish, just not as extreme.  From the moment the word Amish fell from Ben's lips, Edward was all ears, and they decided to get Angela and me together.

I was relieved to have a friend.  I was even more relieved to have Angela as a friend.  She had had it a bit easier growing up Hutterite.  She had grown up along the same lines that I had, but the Amish lifestyle was a bit stricter.  Over dinner that night, I explained the rules of the Ordnung and the place of children and women in Old Order Amish.  Women and children had no say; we worked, we obeyed our husbands or fathers, and we obeyed the rules.  Life as an Amish was mostly lived in peace and if we found something to be funny, we held it inside.  There was a saying in a book that, "The harder it is on earth, the sweeter it is in heaven."  My life up until now had been a quiet one, lived in solitude.

We moved onto lighter topics after a while and Angela asked Edward if she could take me shopping.  He said that it was up to me, but he agreed it was a good idea, as I only had two pairs of pants to wear and only a few more shirts; none of them fit.  Angela joked that I was quite skinny, but I didn't see how she could say that, as she was skinnier than me.  So two days later, she picked me up in a little red car with two doors and she took me shopping.  Edward gave me a card that had his name on it along with many numbers.  Angela called it a ‘credit card’ and asked me how much he told us we could spend.  I told him he didn't give me an amount.  She smiled at me and quietly said, "Somebody's got it bad."  I didn't understand what she meant, but I didn't ask.

At first I was incredibly nervous about going out with Angela.  I didn’t know her very well and I was scared of how people would react to me, or I to them, without Edward by my side.  It was unnecessary; Angela made me feel very comfortable.  We had many things in common and so there was never a lull in conversation.

During our shopping trip, Angela advised me that there were some things I should probably do, to my body.  She said that "English" girls shave their legs and armpits, pluck their eyebrows and wear make-up.  She said that we would buy make-up for me, but I wouldn't need much with my good complexion.  I didn't really understand why I would shave my legs and underarms and told her so.  That was when our conversation turned to Edward.

"Do you like Edward, Bella?" she asked me.  She had a small smile on her lips.

"Of course I like him, I mean, here I am, away from my family and with him," I explained to her.  I thought she realized that.

"But I mean, do you like him?  When he touches your hand or your face, does it make you warm inside or your skin tingle?  Do you want to kiss him?" She quickly rambled the questions off at me.

"I-I," I paused.  Did I like him?  Yes.  Did I like him in the way that I wanted him to kiss me?  Well, yes.  Definitely yes, but I couldn't tell him that.  Could I?  "I do.  I want to kiss him, but I'm not sure I'm ready for that.  What does having to shave my legs and underarms have to do with that, though?"

Angela let out a small giggle.  "Because eventually, after some time has passed, kissing leads to other things," she said.  "Things like sex, Bella."

I drew in a sharp breath.  "Shhh!  We must not speak of such things!"

She let out a hearty laugh at that.  "One day, and probably soon, you will be more interested in those things.  All I'm saying, is that you may want to shave your legs and pits."  Angela lifted her foot up to one of the benches in the mall and pulled the leg of her blue jeans up.  I got nervous and quickly looked around, but saw that nobody cared, or even paid us any attention.  "Feel it," she demanded.

Slowly, I reached my hand down to her leg and felt it.  It was smooth and I instantly decided I wanted my legs and underarms shaved.  A slow smile spread across my face and Angela saw it as she lowered her pant leg back down.

"See?"  She smirked at me and again we shopped.

I came away from the shopping trip with more clothes than I knew what to do with.  I had also acquired several kinds of fruit-scented shampoos and conditioners for my hair, shaving cream, a razor and several refills for it, mascara, lip gloss, eye liner, and tweezers.  I didn't know how to use most of the items, but she said she would teach me some time.

By the time she dropped me back off at Edward's, I had more bags then I could carry, but Edward heard us pull up and came out to help.  Angela couldn't stay, stating she was meeting Ben for dinner, so I thanked her for taking me shopping and we promised to speak soon.  Edward and I trudged up to the closet with all of my purchases and put them away.  He looked through the various items I picked out and things Angela helped me pick out, and he seemed pleased.  

“So, how was your shopping trip with Angela?  How did it all go?”

I thought about his question, I wanted to answer him honestly.  “Well, I’m grateful that Angela took me, but I think that I would have preferred it if you had taken me.  I know that you want me to find friends, and I do consider Angela a friend, but it was a bit overwhelming.  But I’m also thankful for her help, and for your generosity.  But I must tell you, I don’t feel comfortable with you spending so much money on me.”

"I wanted to do it for you.  You have given up so much for me.  And now, you should actually have some things that fit you.  You did try this stuff on, right?" he asked as he folded a pair of my new jeans.

"Yes, I tried on every piece, and I must admit, I'm not a fan of shopping, at least not like that.  It was a bit exhausting," I confessed.

Edward chuckled and replied, "I'm sure it was.  It looks like you bought a store or two."

I was immediately nervous that I had spent too much.  "I'm sorry.  I tried to be frugal, but Angela wouldn't allow it.  We can return some of these items, can't we?  I don't need all of this Edward, I..." He held his hand up, stopping me.

"I didn't mean it like that.  I don't care how much you spent.  I want you to have clothes you like, and you need all of these things.  Stop worrying, Bella," he said and smiled at me.

I relaxed and we put the rest of the clothes, shoes, and toiletries away in their respective places.  Edward offered to find a place for the toiletries in the bathroom and I let him so I could quickly -- and privately -- put away my undergarments.  A part of me was excited about sharing his space with him, but another part of me worried that he would later resent me for taking over his home.  I would have to make sure we talked about that.

It took me two days after the shopping trip to work up the nerve to finally shave my legs and armpits.  I told Edward I was going to take a bath and he said he would be in his office if I needed anything.  I started the bathwater and began to line up all the products I would need along the edge of the tub.  When I was completely undressed, I realized I didn't have a clue about how to shave my legs.  I got the idea, but was scared that I would cut myself.  I quickly put on Edward’s puffy green robe, tying the cord tightly around my waist, and padded down the stairs and to the library.

Edward was staring at the computer with his brow furrowed.  I cleared my throat and he looked over to me, then his eyes bugged out.

"I, ah...umm." I sighed, "I don't know how to shave my legs, and I don't want to call Angela, since it is kind of late."

Edward quickly stood up, forgetting there was an open book on his lap, and it fell to the floor.  He quickly bent over and picked it up, but when he stood up quickly, he hit his head on the corner of his desk.  "Ouch!  Shit!  Shoot!  Sorry, sorry for swearing," he said quickly, as he clutched at his head.

I quickly went to him and pulled his head down so I could see if he was bleeding or if there was a bump.  "Are you alright?"

"Yeah, just clumsy.  Ah, come on, and, I'll, ah, help you," he mumbled, as he walked up to the bathroom.  I quickly followed behind him and felt the butterflies begin to flutter.

Once in the bathroom, he looked at the tub and then to me.  "I have to admit, I'm not sure how to do this without you exposing yourself.  Not that I'd mind, but I know you aren't ready for that.  So...what if you get in the tub and I will turn my back.  You can place a towel over your body and when you are covered, I can turn back around and at least get you started.  Does that sound alright?"

I thought about it for a moment and was unable to come up with another alternative, so I agreed.  "Okay.  Turn around then, Mister."

Edward gave me a dashing smile and turned around.  I unknotted the rope of the robe and placed it on the chair next to the bathtub.  I then grabbed a large towel and climbed into the tub.  When I was fully submerged, I opened the towel and placed it over my body.  It immediately soaked up water and clung to my skin.  "Okay.  I'm ready," I announced.

Edward waited another second and turned around.  His eyes went wide for a second and he cleared his throat, but then came closer.  He pulled the chair over so he could sit on it, took the shaving gel in his hand and squirted some out.  "You need to stick your leg out of the water, Bella, or the water will wash off all of the shave gel.  Rest your heel up on the lip of the tub," he advised.

I did as he said and without waiting another second, he began to spread the now foamy substance onto my lower leg.  "I'll go up to your knee, and then you can try it yourself, okay?  You are going to need a little bit more privacy to do your upper legs."  Edward washed his hands off in the water and reached for the razor.

"I understand," I told him.

I intently watched his hands and he drug the razor up the bottom half of first my right, then left leg.  After he did the first, I could have told him to stop, but his hands on my legs felt good.  A part of me burned with guilt about that, but the other part burned with something else.  Lately, I had begun to feel a true fire in me whenever I was around Edward.  His little touches and hugs left me feeling a bit mushy.  I hadn't yet told him as I was afraid to, but a part of me wanted to get past the fear.  Would God really blast me to hell for touching or kissing a man I cared about so deeply?  I couldn't imagine that he would.

When Edward finished with the bottom half, he handed over the razor and told me to do a couple of swipes just above my knees to make sure I wouldn't slaughter myself when he went out.  I took a deep breath and slowly, pulled the razor over a small patch of hair above my knee.  It was fine, easy, and I did not cut myself.

"I think you'll do fine, Bella.  I'll give you some privacy.  Come find me in the office when you're done?"

I nodded and resumed my shaving.  After he walked out, I lifted myself out of the water and sat on the edge to finish the job.

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