Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | By: Drotuno

An Angel's Promise Chapter 14

"That was quite a show you put on, Isabella," Edward said softly behind me. He guided me up on stage with his hand in the small of my back. "You almost incited a riot, my sexy girl."
"You're exaggerating, Edward," I snorted, shaking my head. "And if you can act like a male stripper, I can surely pull up a sock or two."
He huffed a laugh, but turned his attention to the judges table and then looked down at me. "They're going to let the audience decide," he chuckled, dragging his tongue across his bottom lip and looking out over the crowd. "And I was not acting like a stripper."
I giggled, looking away from him. "Whatever gets you through the evening, handsome."
Kevin stepped up on stage, taking a mic. "Okay, so the judges have narrowed it down to these two. They want to hear your vote before they make their final decision." He walked to Edward, snapped one of his suspenders, and turned back to the audience. "Who wants this…mmm, fireball to rescue you?"
I heard Edward sigh just before the female audience members let out a loud uproar. In typical Edward fashion, he took the praise with his usual tell of nerves – off came the firefighter helmet, and his hand went to his ever messy hair. That only added to his attractiveness, causing the female population in front of us to lose their minds.
"Okay, and how many of you want a new study partner?" Kevin chuckled at Edward's foul glare as he took my hand and turned me around.
The result of that question was pandemonium. I shook my head as I looked down off of the stage to see the smirk that was plastered on Jasper's face. He was totally feeding this crowd these emotions.
"What did you give Jasper?" I growled, turning to Edward.
He didn't look at me, but fought his smile. "I have no idea what you're talking about, love."
"Look me in the eye and say that, Edward." I frowned, folding my arms across my chest. He closed his eyes and slowly turned my way as the judges huddled up again. "What did you bribe him with?"
His handsome face held a touch of shock, but mostly it was guilt. He shot an angry glance at Jasper before turning back to me.
Before he could answer, the announcement was made, and I barely heard Kevin call my name before the audience cheered. I had won. He pulled me away from Edward towards the front of the stage.
"You won the contest, but lost the bet, my goddess," he snorted with an eye roll. "It's kind of bittersweet, huh?"
"Yeah, bittersweet." I frowned, taking my blue ribbon from him.
I shot Jasper a scathing look, and he winced, his gaze flickering to Alice and then Edward. "Jackasses," I sighed to myself, shielding everything about me – no thoughts, no decisions, and no emotions. I cut myself off from them completely.
"Bells," Alice gasped, running up to me as I left the stage.
"Not now," I growled, shaking my head.
"But you won…"
"Yeah." I smiled, but it was not in humor. "Imagine that."
I took a deep breath and walked away from them. It wasn't that I didn't want to win. I did. But even Emmett had taken pride in keeping this whole thing clean and fair. I would have rather lost to Edward than win with Jasper manipulating the crowd.
I walked away to lose myself in the festival. There were too many humans, too many stares. And it seemed they were closing in on me. I needed a moment. My instincts were rising to the surface.
"But you won…" Alice stopped my angel.
"Yeah, imagine that."
I winced at the anger in her voice. Her eyes were still flashing with the same disappointment and anger as when she confronted me not moments before.
I stalked through the crowd to find Jasper. I found him standing next to Myra. "What the hell, Jasper?" I growled, gripping his shirt and pulling him away from the group of students. "What were you playing at? She thinks I put you up to it!"
"Ali said she decided she wanted to win," he defended, his eyes wide.
"Even so, she never likes us to cheat, man!" I huffed, running a hand through my hair. "Wait, she wanted to win?" I asked, and he nodded.
"That's what Alice said. She said she saw Bells make the decision to really try. Something about the bet wasn't important anymore." He frowned, looking down at his hands. "I fucked up, huh? I just wanted to give her what she wanted…"
I studied his face. My brothers were ridiculous when it came to the baby of the family. They would do anything for her just to make her happy, even if sometimes it wasn't always accomplished the right way.
"She's pissed off," I told him, frowning, "and I need to find her. She's shielded us all."
"Damn, Ed…that's not what I meant…"
I left the stage area, following Bella's scent. I was about to walk through the gaming area, when Alice stopped me.
"We're in deep shit." She grimaced, looking hurt, and took my jacket from me. "I didn't mean for Jasper to take it that far."
"I think it got away from him," I said. "Why did she change her mind? When did the bet stop meaning something, Alice?" I asked, scanning the area and gripping my hair.
"No idea." She shrugged one tiny shoulder. "All I saw was Bella make up her mind to compete. You know I can't always see the reasons, just the decisions. And I just got wrapped up in her plan. It was too fun to resist."
"You can't see her right now, can you?" I asked, wincing when she shook her head no.
I nodded silently and continued to follow the smell of freesias and strawberries – the scent I could locate anywhere. She had walked through the gaming area, which was just outside one of the science buildings. The scent continued around to the back of the building and away from the fair altogether. The sounds of bells and laughter faded a little as I found her scent concentrated on the back entrance of the building – like she tested the door before finding it open. And from the look just inside, it was being used for storage for the game prizes. Bags of stuffed animals were stacked along the back hallway.
Her scent continued up the three flights of stairs, where she had propped the door open.
I found her, sitting on the edge of the roof, enveloped in shadows. She was watching the fair with a bird's eye view. Her knees were bent, with her arms folded on top, her chin resting on her forearm.
"Did you really think I couldn't find you?" I asked, sitting in front of her and facing her. "Your shield doesn't stop your scent, love."
She shrugged. "I didn't think about it, really." Her voice was soft and carried no sign of whether she was angry with me.
"I didn't bribe Jasper, sweetheart, I swear. Alice told him you changed your mind. He went a little…overboard."
She smiled a small, wry smile, rolling her eyes. "I know," she sighed. "Your face said it all. You knew he was thinking about it, but you couldn't stop him while we were in front of everyone. And…" She frowned. "There was a part of you that wanted me to win that badly."
I smirked, shaking my head and picking up her hand. "Well, it's official. There's nothing I can get away with anymore. You read me like a book." She snorted, allowing me to turn her hand over and kiss her palm. "That's dead on, actually. And in Jasper's defense, the crowd's emotions got away from him."
"Fantastic," she said with a sharp, sarcastic bite.
When she didn't say anything, I had to ask, "When did you change your mind? Alice saw it and said that you let the bet fall away to focus on the competition. Why?"
She sat up, crossing her legs Indian style and making sure her skirt was covering her. "Why have you never asked me to sing with you? You could have. Why did it take a bet to get you to show me that was what you wanted?" She asked these questions with a furrowed brow and a slight tilt to her head.
"I didn't think you'd want to…with me." I frowned, looking down at our hands. "I know performing music isn't important to you, but I thought maybe if you had to…"
I was rambling, and she knew it. "How long have you wanted it, Edward?"
"Since Alice and I came home from hunting before we moved here and saw you and Jasper singing," I answered honestly. I'd been jealous that my brother had got her to sing that way, but intrigued. Her human voice had never been something she showed off, but her immortal one was beautiful. It was angelic, with a touch of sexy huskiness.
She and Jasper had sung a slow country song, and as I had watched her, I'd noticed she hardly even knew she was singing aloud. It was like she was just singing along with the radio.
"In front of an audience?" she giggled. "Really?"
I couldn't help but smile and look up at her. "Yeah." I nodded, but wrinkled my nose. "If I had asked you, would you have said yes?"
"Maybe," she said with a smile, "but I'm not sure. I wish you had said something. I saw how much you wanted it. I'm willing to give you anything, you know? I guess that was what Alice saw."
I nodded, feeling like a jackass. "Are you still mad at me?"
"I never really was mad at you," she answered, shaking her head. "Disappointed, maybe. I just needed to get away for a minute. Too many people, too much attention…"
She crawled over to me, straddling my lap. I instantly pulled her closer. We were still on the edge of a three story building, and despite the fact that we couldn't get hurt if we fell, I would still hate to see it. One of my feet touched the rooftop, while the other dangled over the side of the building.
"I can't stay mad at you," she whispered, toying with my suspenders. "And it really wasn't that big of deal, but when I had changed my mind about the bet, I just really wanted it fair and square."
I smiled sadly, understanding what she meant. I watched my own hands caress the bare skin of her exposed stomach. "I'm glad you won," I chuckled, looking up at her. "You look insanely sexy this way."
She laughed, shaking her head. "If you do say so yourself," she teased with narrowed eyes. "Alice told me you picked this." I nodded, biting my bottom lip and raising my eyebrows up and down. "Well, Dr. Masen, didn't you look in the mirror before leaving the bathroom? I mean, seriously?" She cracked up.
"Um, no," I snorted. "Getting to see you was all I could think of. And I was going crazy that I had to wait through Kevin's makeup session."
She smiled, grabbing my face on both sides. "Well, trust me. You could have easily won. You look like something out of a male model calendar."
"There's an idea for Christmas," I laughed, my head falling back.
"I would not turn that down," she snorted. "Want me to write down what I want you in for each month? Because I would pay a large sum of money to see you as Cupid for February!" She grinned, grasping my shoulders when I tickled her sides.
She reached up and brushed my hair from my forehead. It was a simple gesture, but had always been one of my favorites. It was caring and sweet, almost maternal. It made me feel taken care of and cherished. She leaned forward to press a kiss there.
She sat back a little, cupping my face. "I'm kinda glad you found me up here. I hated being apart today."
"Me, too," I admitted, drawing nondescript circles on the bare skin of her lower back. "Let's never do that again."
"'Kay," she beamed adorably, biting that bottom lip of hers. She leaned in, pressing her lips to mine, and suddenly, the realization hit me that she had a copious amount of her sweet skin exposed. My hands fell out of my mind's control.
I pulled her closer, my left hand gripping the waistband of her skirt, while my right was sliding underneath her thigh. It bent at the knee, practically cradling me between her legs as her hips rolled over mine.
With a shared gasp, we both turned our heads to deepen the kiss. As my tongue rolled with hers, relishing the flavor of her, my hands moved again. One cupped her breast on the outside of her shirt, while the other finally made it under that damn short skirt. I massaged her bottom over what felt like simple cotton, loving the way that it made her moan wantonly and roll her hips again.
I felt her tug at the bottom of my t-shirt, roughly dragging her fingers along my stomach. I seriously wanted her – right there on that rooftop. The idea that we were so close to a large crowd of people just made it all the more sensual.
But my mind was hit with loud thoughts, causing me to huff in frustration and pull back.
"Edward," my love whined, holding my shirt in two small fistfuls.
"As much as I truly want to finish this," I growled, unable to stop myself from leaning into her neck. I groaned, twirling my tongue up to the soft spot behind her ear, which caused her to gasp and hold me there by my hair. "Our siblings are down below. And it seems Emmett has something to tell you." My voice sounded like a pout against her skin, but she sounded no better when I pulled back to look at her.
"No, no, no," she whined, wriggling closer to me. "Now I remember why we have our own house."
I huffed a laugh, but pulled her back from my chest. "And we'll definitely take advantage of that. I promise. But they want to play a little before the festival ends. And Kevin is looking for you, too, love."
She took a deep breath, her eyes locking with mine. "This better be good, Emmett," she growled, smirking when his booming laugh echoed up from down below.
"Trust me, baby girl," he said with amusement.
With a deep sigh, we stood up and left the roof, walking back out onto the main thoroughfare of the games area. I had to chuckle as Emmett had Jasper by the back of his shirt.
"Jazz here has something he'd like to say, Bells." Emmett grinned, pushing our other brother closer to us, practically lifting him off of the ground.
Jasper looked like a scolded child as he pouted. "I'm sorry, Bella. I know you don't like us to cheat."
Bella snorted, shook her head and looked back at Emmett expectantly.
"There," Emmett said proudly, turning to walk down the street, "the way I see it…if I can keep a bet fair and square…anyone can. So Jasper has agreed…"
I laughed at the idea that was flitting through Emmett's mind, and Jasper hadn't agreed at all.
"Jasper has agreed," Emmett continued, "to take his punishment with balls and class. Get in."
He shoved Jasper towards the dunk tank as he held a folded wad of money towards the kid running it. With a smile, the guy pocketed the cash and opened the dunk tank. According to his name tag, his name was Perry.
"Alice…" Jasper whined.
"You're on your own," she huffed, rolling her eyes, but her mind was torn. She wanted to save Jasper this humiliation, but she knew how badly Emmett and Bella had wanted to keep this fair. Jasper had messed up and needed to own it. I smirked at her when she poutingly stuck her tongue out at me.
Jasper started to remove his cowboy hat, but was stopped by Rose. "Oh no. That stays on," she smirked, handing three balls over to Bella.
"I bought it on eBay," he growled, "and it wasn't fucking cheap." He frowned, pulling it back down on his head.
Bella's amusement was adorable. She watched silently as Jasper sat down in the tank, his boots dipping just under the top of the water due to his long legs. She looked up at Emmett with amazement, her mouth fighting a little smile.
She finally turned to me. "Did you…"
"Nope," I chuckled, folding my arms across my chest. "All Emmett…and a touch of Rose, I think."
Rose grinned, standing next to me and nudging me with her shoulder. "Go for it, Bells," she chuckled darkly.
"What if I miss?" she asked, looking over at Emmett, but it was the young man running the game that answered her.
"You've got three tries in your hands," Perry chuckled. "But the big guy told me to give you as many as you wanted." He shot her a wink when she laughed, his thoughts consumed with her sweet but somewhat shy smile. She reminded him of his younger sister that he hadn't seen in a few months since he had been away at college. He made a mental note to call her later. However, it was Rose's presence that was making him nervous.
"He likes you," I teased my sister.
"How do you think we pulled this off?" She cracked up, leaning into me.
Bella turned to me again, a small smile playing on her face. Her mind opened up to me. I'm totally going to mess this up, Edward. I'll throw too hard or something.
"You can do this," I encouraged, coming to stand behind her. I tugged on one of her pigtails lightly before putting a ball into her hand. I covered the back of her hand with mine and pulled back. "You have to throw like a girl…soft, slow," I whispered into her ear so that the human couldn't hear me. "And it won't hurt to miss the first shot. That way he won't suspect anything."
"Yeah, miss," Jasper mumbled low from his watery perch. "For God's sake, miss."
Emmett snorted, but walked up to the tank and smacked the side. "Next time, I'll hit the lever for her. Hush and let the baby girl do her thing."
"Ready?" I asked Bella, and she nodded.
We threw the ball together. It was slow and off target on purpose, but it let her feel how light to throw it. In all reality, she could have thrown it with enough force and perfect aim to shatter the lever altogether. And I wondered to myself if this was one of those times like she had mentioned before – a time where my guidance was needed, where she would only have felt comfortable with me teaching this action, even though Emmett would have had no problem and plenty of patience to show her. It was the little things that I took for granted while working at the hospital, but I wouldn't anymore. Would she have even attempted this if I hadn't been here? And would she have felt left out?
"Got the feel for it?" I asked before stepping back a little.
"Yeah." She nodded, pulling back on her own and letting the ball fly. It was a sweet shot – dead center of the target – and Jasper went down with a cut off curse.
"Brilliant!" Perry cheered. "At least the hat floats," he chuckled.
We all laughed with him on that note. As Jasper came sputtering up from the water, the hat drifted by his face. He snatched it up and put it back on, starting for the door of the tank.
"Oh, I don't think so," Rose laughed. "Bells has one more ball."
"Fuck," Jasper hissed, shaking his head and taking another seat.
For a split second, Bella mentally wondered if this taught her brothers a lesson in cheating, and I had to laugh.
"Not for a moment, sweet girl," I chuckled in her ear, kissing her neck. "That may never change. But feel free to keep teaching them all about it," I said with a smile.
"You're no better," she giggled.
"True, but you keep me honest," I admitted, giving her the lopsided grin she loved so much. She snorted and rolled her eyes. "Come on, love. One more time."
She pulled back, letting the ball fly again – a perfect shot. Jasper laughed this time, the water splashing out over the sides of the tank. He came up spitting a stream of water at Emmett, but he was smiling when it was over. His thoughts were filled more with pride in Bella's human-like throws than being punished for cheating.
"Holy hell," Kevin laughed, walking up behind us. "What did Save-A-Horse do to deserve that?"
"He cheated on a bet," Emmett chuckled, dodging Jasper's wet arms.
"Come on, Jazz," Alice sighed, rolling her eyes. "I'm glad I thought to bring extra clothes. They're in the car." She took him by the hand and started to lead him out towards the parking lot.
"I brought your winnings," he told Alice, holding an envelope out to her.
"They're yours," she smirked. "Keep it."
"Oh." He frowned, looking at the envelope and back up at her. "But my princess…I owe you…all of you."
"There's a losing battle, Kev," Rose snorted. "She won't take it. None of us will. Keep it. You earned it. Edward here has never looked so good."
Bella giggled when I rolled my eyes.
An interesting desire flitted through Kevin's mind for a brief moment, and I stopped to look at him. Bella noticed, picking up my hand before we started to walk a little more. Since we wouldn't take the money, he had an intriguing way of wanting to spend it.
I would have to see if that was something he truly wanted, because Kevin made Bella and my sisters happy, and vice versa. I would have to get with my brothers on this one.
A peal of girly, yet fake laughter drifted across the walkway of the festival's game section. I looked up from the table of handmade artwork to see Myra and her group of friends clustered around Edward and my brothers. I rolled my eyes as the boys ignored them, but continued to trash talk about a simple game of ring toss.
"Ladies," Kevin sang. "Take a step back, you hooches! Damn, let my boys breathe!"
I laughed, shaking my head. Kevin was fabulous.
"They have prizes to win…for their wives." He rolled his eyes, waving his hands at the girls. "Damn, gotta build a brick wall around my men."
"You're right," Alice chuckled quietly at my side. "That Myra has a crush on Jasper."
"Told you," I snorted. "She's totally sweet, though, Alice. Don't give her too much grief over it."
"Is that your shield talking?" Alice smiled, looking up at me.
"Of course," I answered, nodding. "I wasn't looking for a friend in that class. She was sucked right in."
"Ah." She smiled. "Okay, then I won't kill her."
"Alice!" I laughed. Of all of the members of my family, Alice was the closest to my personality when it came to being friends with humans. That last statement from her was way out of character.
"Kidding!" she snorted.
"No, she's not," Rose laughed. "It rarely happens to Jasper. However, her friends are all over Edward."
"I know," I chuckled. "He's equipped to see it coming, though." We all laughed as he stepped to the left just as Harper took a step forward to stand next to him at the game booth. "See?"
What was even funnier and caused another round of giggles from us was Edward's sharp glance our way. He knew what we were talking about.
Edward, do you need interference? I thought to him.
His eyes darkened, but his smirk was sexy as he crooked his finger, calling me to him.
"Harper will hate you," Alice whispered, barely fighting her smile. "She's known for stealing men from their girlfriends. She had made the decision to work on Edward the minute she laid eyes on him."
"Sucks to be her today," I sighed, rolling my eyes at my sisters' laughter and standing up. I walked over to the game booth, pushing past the girls and squeezing in between Emmett and Edward.
"Tell me, sweet girl," Edward crooned, playing with one of my pigtails and tracing his fingertips across my cheek. "What prize am I playing for?" he asked, tilting my head up by my chin.
I smiled, looking up at the stuffed animals hanging on the walls. "Hmm," I mused, tapping my chin. Edward chuckled, kissing the side of my head. "I have a lion and a lamb…how about the wolf?"
"Huh?" Emmett snorted.
"Shut it," I laughed. "I'll send it to Izzy and Eddie." We were always sending care packages to Charlie and Jake. They said the kids loved to get stuff in the mail.
"Done." Edward smiled sweetly. "That's a good idea, love." He handed the game attendent a few bills, taking the three rings from him. "Kiss for luck?" He grinned, both of us hearing the cluck of a tongue behind us.
I stood up on my toes, pressing my lips to his.
And I felt the shift in my shield.
I pulled back and looked up at Edward. My brow was wrinkled as I felt my shield almost push out against Harper. It was the first time I had felt it work that way. I knew I drew in people I liked, and Carlisle assumed it worked the other way around as well. But that was the first time I had to work at it to keep from pushing her all the way across the walkway.
Edward paused for a moment, hearing my thoughts and feeling my shield shift near him. He looked at me out of the corner of his eye. "Okay?" he asked simply, and I nodded, forcing my shield back in.
"Perfect," I smirked, reaching up to snap his suspender. "Win, baby."
He snickered, nodded, and turned towards the table of bottles. He tossed the rings, encircling three bottles with no shame.
"There it is!" I smiled, squealing when he wrapped his arm around my waist and lifted me up to his lips.
"What was that?" he asked against my mouth softly.
"No idea," I sighed, taking the stuffed wolf that he had won. Still in his arms, he walked us away from the booth. "I just felt dislike. My shield pushed out."
He set me down, but his arm stayed wrapped around me. He reached up and tugged my pigtail, pulling my face to his. "You don't like her?" he asked, pressing his forehead to mine.
"She wants you; maybe I felt threatened," I chuckled, my head falling back when he growled roughly against my neck.
"Silly Bella," he rumbled against the shell of my ear. "When will you learn? I belong to you."
"I know that," I giggled, "but the feeling came from her. It was like my shield was defending me on its own."
"Oh..." He frowned, pulling back to study my face. "That's…interesting."
"I know, it was weird." I shrugged. "Besides," I sighed dramatically, "if she touched you, her arms would be…over there." I pointed towards the parking lot.
"Bella," he laughed, shaking his head.
"We knew my shield worked that way, but that was the first time I actually felt it," I said, ignoring his laugh at my jealous comment.
"Are you about ready to go home, my love?"
"Yeah." I smiled, wrapping the arm that wasn't holding the stuffed animal around his neck.
Just before I could kiss him again, the girls started begging for all of us to go to the gym. They'd had a dance floor built, and the thumping music could be heard all over the campus.
"Come on, please?" the girls begged, tugging on Kevin's arm.
"Ooh, Bells," he beamed. "Dancing!"
Kevin was one thing, but the intense stare Harper was giving Edward and me was another.
"Oh, and her eyes? Over there," I growled, pointing in the opposite direction as I said her arms would go.
"She is intimidated by you, baby," Edward chuckled again. "And the others have missed this time with us, Bella. Everyone wants us to go. But we'll leave if you want."
"Fine," I sighed, rolling my eyes. "But I know my family can hear this…you won't bug us for twenty-four hours once we're home." I heard their chuckles, but looked up to Edward. "You go back to work in twenty-four hours," I pouted.
"Not for long, my love." He smiled sweetly, guiding me along as we all made our way to the gym. "Resignation, remember?"
"Yeah," I sighed, leaning into him. I picked up his hand and turned his ring, feeling our sharp electrical current kick up between us. I smiled, relishing the connection.
Kevin walked through the door the same time that we did, linking his arm through mine. "Oh, Dr. Heavy Equipment, what song are you gonna make our goddess sing?"
I snorted into a giggle, looking up into the amused face of my husband. "We'll see," was all he muttered, shaking his head.
"Too bad that the judges let the audience decide," Kevin sighed, looking dramatically forlorn. "I think I did a fantastic job on Hot Doc. He should have won."
"Bella probably would have won either way," Rose smirked, overhearing our conversation. "The judge with the glasses was…enamoured with her. He was the last deciding vote."
"You mean the one that was about to lose his fingers had he pinned that ribbon to her?" Edward growled, his eyes dark.
"Yeah, like that was going to happen," I snorted.
"Oh, but he wanted to," Edward growled low in my ear. "It would have taken years of physical therapy for him to be able to even eat with a spoon with the hand that dared touch you." I gasped, my mouth hanging open. "I'm just sayin'…" He shrugged, feigning nonchalance and linking our fingers together.
That last statement coming from Edward was hilarious, because Rose, Alice, and I all stopped dead to look at him.
"What?" he asked, an adorable look of confusion on his face.
"Nothing," we all said together. We looked at each other wide-eyed and smiled. Sometimes, he shocked us when his carefully said words morphed into the slang the rest of us used everyday.
We all separated into the gym to dance. The human girls and Kevin went to get drinks at the bar.
About thirty minutes after we entered the gym, Emmett pulled Edward to the DJ to look his music selection as I walked up on a very upset, very angry Kevin.
"I will not help you 'get to Edward'," he growled, using air quotes. "They are my friends. They are my family. He loves my Bells. It wouldn't do you any good to get near him anyway. He sees only her."
He was practically in Harper's pouting space as he ranted to her, his neck swiveling with pure irate attitude.
"Every guy wants something new every now and then," she argued with a smirk, not believing a word Kevin said. "They can't help themselves if it's being offered up on a silver platter. And he's delicious."
"Not this guy, trust me. But you can try; you'll only embarrass yourself," he smirked, but his amusement did not meet his eyes.
He was protective and angry. I'd known he loved us, but I'd never known exactly how much. I could hear it in his voice, see it in his eyes. He wouldn't let her hurt us – Edward and me, specifically. And at that moment, I would love to know what he was thinking.
Harper rolled her eyes to her friends. "Let it go," Corrine snapped, looking impatient with her friend. "They're married, Harp."
Harper frowned, but it turned into a sneer. "Married men…taste better," she crooned. All her friends rolled their eyes.
I huffed a quiet laugh to myself, but again fought my shield to stay put. It wasn't as if she intimidated me. I just damn well didn't like her. She was stubborn and pompous – and apparently a slut.
"Bells," Jasper growled, "pure hate? What the hell? Eddie wouldn't…"
"I know," I interrupted him with a frown. "I can't help it. I just…fucking hate her."
He chuckled, shaking his head at me. "Come, let's show her something. I'll help." He grinned, shooting a wink at me. "You make sure that chick is in earshot, okay?"
"Well, that won't be hard," I smirked, pointing to the bar. "She strategically places herself near him every free moment. Look."
"Perfect." Jasper smiled. "Go. Ask him to tell you he loves you. That's it. I'll take it from there. Though, once we're done, Eddie'll probably want to leave, because you're pretty much there anyway…"
I looked up at him with a wry smile. "Sure, Jazz. Are you gonna mess with him or her?"
"You," he beamed, shooing me towards the bar and chuckling when I gave him a wary glance.
I checked my shield, making sure I had complete control. Since I was going near the one person that seemed to trigger it, I wanted be absolutely certain I didn't mess up. And I made sure my thoughts were shielded from Edward.
My heart just about exploded with the love I had for him as I made my way towards him. Edward's smile could have lit the entire city of London at that moment. He opened his arms for me, and without shame, I fell into his embrace. I felt sweet, soft kisses to the top of my head as I breathed in his scent. I felt desperately in love with him – to the point I shook in his arms.
Christ, Jasper was powerful.
"Sweetheart, what's wrong?" Edward whispered at my ear. I felt myself be lifted up onto the bar stool, but his warm touch never left my back.
"Tell me you love me," I begged, looking up at him with pleading eyes. Our entire surroundings melted away, and there was only the two of us. I needed to hear it, needed to feel his love for me.
"Of course I love you. You're my whole reason for breathing, my Bella," he smiled sweetly, but the furrow in his brow showed that he was worried about my actions. I felt Jasper's power leave me, but it was too late; he had left me feeling overwhelmed.
I needed more from Edward. I was momentarily stunned stupid with him.
Edward's face softened as he registered my predicament in what I was sure was blackening eyes. "Oh," he breathed, leaning into kiss my forehead. "Do we need to leave, my beautiful girl?"
"Tell me again," I pleaded. "Please…"
"Forever, Bella," he vowed. "I'll tell everyday of forever that I love you – every minute if you need me to." He reached up to brush a stray hair from my face, but his other hand softly caressed my back. Suddenly, he seemed know what I needed to hear. "Did you know," he started with a smirk, but pressed his forehead to mine, "that the day you married me, the day you became my wife was the best day of my life? And the moment that you accepted my ring –" He smiled, picking it up and kissing it, "—my mother's ring – that my whole universe slid into perfect order? If I have you, then I don't need anything else, my sweet girl, because you make me absolutely elated. You're everything I need, the only thing I need. Tell me you know that."
"Yes," I breathed, placing my hands on each side of his neck.
I closed my eyes as he slid his nose against my own, his lips barely brushing mine. I knew he was holding back a little because we were in public.
"I want to take you home, baby," he said, and it wasn't a question or a request. It was a statement not to be debated.
I looked up into his beautiful face and found love and concern and a need that mirrored my own.
Before he helped me down, his strong arms wrapped all the way around me. He buried his face in my neck, breathing deep and placing a simple kiss just below my ear. "I'm done with this audience, my Bella," he snickered softly. "Family or not."
I nodded, feeling my toes touch the floor as he set me gently down. Edward leaned passed me to tell our siblings that we were leaving. I looked up and saw Kevin wearing a smug grin as he looked down at a confused Harper.
"Told you, ho," he sang, snapping his fingers in front of her face. "Now, leave my family alone. Shoo…go." He waved them away like a pesky bug.
As they walked away, I heard the voice of Harper's friend, Corrine. "You know, Harp…one day you're gonna find a guy that you'll want to keep – someone you didn't have to steal or want to throw away. And shit like this will come back to haunt you. There are men that are faithful. And that guy," she jerked a thumb towards Edward, "should be president of the fucking club."
"Let's go, love," Edward said softly, his hand at the small of my back.
We waved goodbye to Kevin and left the school campus.
It felt good to step back into our own home after staying with the family for a few days. It smelled like us; gave me a sheltered feeling as I picked up the stack of mail out of the box. Edward took it out of my hands, tossing it on the counter along with his keys. He silently led me upstairs to our room.
He shirked the suspenders of his costume off of his shoulders and let them dangle down his legs. The result was that the yellow reflective pants dropped to his hips, letting something intriguing peak out just over the top of his waistband.
I smirked, walked over to him, and tugged once.
He laughed and smacked my hand away. "Wait," he snorted.
"Kevin?" I asked with a laugh.
"Oh yeah, Kevin," he confirmed with an adorable eye roll and snicker. He picked up the remote for the iPod and turned to me. "When was the last time you added something?"
"Weeks," I frowned, feeling ashamed. With his work schedule, my temper, and the few days of not being home, there was neither time nor the inclination to add to our bedroom playlist.
"Well, good." He smiled proudly. "I added a few earlier today when Alice and I stopped by here."
My gaze snapped up to his, and his face wasn't upset or concerned that I hadn't added anything in a while. He pressed the remote, a soft acoustic guitar sound filling the room. It was Fade Into You by Mazzy Starr, and as her soulful voice started, Edward sat on the edge of our bed.
He reached out, pulling me to stand between his legs. Holding me by the waist, his fingers spread so that he was touching as much of me as he could at one time, he asked, "Do you want to talk about that shield of yours?"
I shook my head no, letting my mind show him that I wasn't concerned with it. That I had expected it eventually.
He leaned in with a slight nod, pressing his lips to my exposed belly. "My going back to work tomorrow night is temporary, Bella. You know that, right? I'm quitting, love."
"I know," I hiccupped, emotion filling my voice. The man in front of me would do anything for me, but even the thought of his return to work had me reeling. We weren't ready to be apart, and after having him every day for the last week, I was about to go mad with the idea.
"Shh, baby," he murmured, shaking his head. "I know it's hard. I don't want to go back. But it's the right thing. The honorable thing." He took a deep breath. "And when Marcus gets here next week, we'll try and figure this thing out together. It hurts to be away from you, Bella. Can you help me make it through my resignation period?"
When he worded the last question that way, the sobs that I'd been holding back escaped. Through gritted teeth, I said, "I can't focus on this conversation right now, Edward. I promise to talk about it later, but not now…" I knew I was avoiding the reality of the situation, but I just couldn't see past his loving face.
He nodded, his gaze locked with mine as his thumbs caressed my hip bones. He said no more about it as the rest of his fingers joined in the touching of my skin. Over my stomach and around to the small of my back they went, like they had never touched me before. They slid up to the knot in my shirt, slowly untying it. They worked open the last three buttons, revealing my bra and sliding up to my shoulders to push the shirt off. It fell to the floor behind me silently.
A dark, glazed look crossed Edward's features as he looked up at my face and back to his own hands that were barely cupping the outside of my bra.
"What, baby?" I asked, running my hands through his hair.
He sighed deeply as he unzipped my skirt, letting it fall to my feet. "Christ," he breathed, looking up at me. He looked like he was in pain. "What did you wear under your clothes when we first met?"
"You're looking at it," I answered with a smile, cupping his face. "Simple."
"God, it's fucking perfect," he laughed almost to himself with a slight head shake.
I giggled softly, biting my bottom lip. It was a simple white cotton set with bikini underwear. I wore it for comfort and simplicity sake more than attractiveness. I'd had it on before changing into my costume, and Alice just dressed me over it. I'd never even given it another thought.
But Edward was looking at me like a fat kid looks at an all you can eat buffet. A laugh barked out of him when he heard that thought.
"Exactly," he growled, licking his lips. He reached up and tugged the ponytail holders off the ends of my braids, shaking my hair loose into strange waves and weaving his fingers underneath to the back of by head. "Can you lay down just like that for just a second?" he asked, guiding me to the bed and laying me down on my back.
I nodded, watching him stand up. He tugged off his boots, socks, and t-shirt, finally dropping the firemen's pants, revealing the cutest thing ever.
I laughed, unable to stop myself as I sat up to see that he was wearing silk boxers covered in flames. "Oh God, come here." I grinned. "Those rock."
"Kevin said you'd like them," he chuckled, looking like he should be blushing if he were able. He crawled up the bed, lying down next to me on his side. "It's the back he wanted you to see."
I jerked my poor husband forward, crawling over him to straddle his thighs. I fell over, pressing my forehead to his shoulder in hysterics. In bright orange letters was the word "HOT" right across his ass.
"You're so keeping these," I giggled.
"Fine," he chuckled deeply, rolling under me so that I was straddling his stomach.
Edward's strong hands glided along my skin up my thighs and sides to my shoulders, where he gripped lightly and pulled me to him. I braced my hands on either side of his head, our lips barely touching.
I arched my back as one of his hands gripped my ass, while the other cupped my breast over my bra. Instead of reaching around to unhook it, he tugged it down, letting it fall free. My nipple pebbled instantly as his palm lightly rolled over it. Still we had yet to kiss.
"Take it off," I breathed against his mouth.
"No," he growled, his eyes now black and lust filled as his palm rolled my nipple over and over. He reached for the other one, freeing it as well. Cupping them from underneath, he brought me closer to his mouth, his tongue circling around my nipple, but not quite touching the center. His onyx gaze locked with mine as he finally flattened his tongue and dragged it across.
A breathy whimper escaped me as my whole body moved towards his face. He gripped my hip to hold me still when he switched to the other breast, copying his prior actions.
Stealthily, his other hand slid beneath my underwear, his fingers digging into my cheek. I groaned, trying to rub against his now steel hard erection.
"Edward, please," I whimpered, looking down at him. "Touch me."
"No." He growled that word again. "I want to drink you dry, my love." With severe, sudden movements, my simple cotton underwear set was in shreds and on the floor. "Grab that headboard, and don't break it. You'll regret it, baby. I know you like this bed." His voice had taken on that velvet, commanding thing that I loved and damn well couldn't resist.
He gripped my ass with both hands and dragged me up his body. I only had a split second before his mouth was at my heated center, and I grasped the headboard quickly, if only to keep from grinding down onto his face.
His tongue circled my entrance before swirling up to my now throbbing clit. He sucked hard, only to retrace his path back down. His right hand pushed me closer to his face by guiding my hip. His left thumb barely made contact with my sensitive nerve, causing my whole body to roll in a wave of want.
"Please, please, don't stop," I begged, my eyes squeezing closed. All I wanted was to grind down on him. I need more, wanted rougher.
And he heard my mind.
Suddenly, his teeth joined in on the action as he scraped him brusquely over my clit.
"Je-sus," I growled through gritted teeth, finally pushing down against his face when his tongue entered me with force. I could have cried when his mouth left me.
"Jesus isn't here, baby." His voice was raspy and breathy and full of a sexy menace. "It's only me. It's always been…just me." He practically snarled the last two words of pure truth. "It will forever be me, Bella."
"Fuck, yes…you…just please don't stop, Edward."
"Look at me, baby," he growled low. My breaths came out in pants as I locked gazes with his. "Do you want to come?" he purred, his tongue snaking out to flick softly over my clit. I nodded stupidly. "Say it," he said, swirling over it again.
"Y-yes," I groaned, almost in pain with the throbbing between my legs. My stomach started to clench in preparation for my climax.
"Then tell me you're mine," he growled into my center, which caused a whole new series of sensations throughout my body. "That you'll always be…mine."
"Fuck, Edward," I whined, trying to push down on him. His tongue was everywhere but where I needed it most. I had to loosen my grip on the headboard when I felt the metal start to bend.
"Mine…say it," he rumbled.
"Yours, always…please…"
I cried out with relief and want when his tongue met my center at the same time his thumb pressed my nub. When he pinched my clit, I shattered, uttering a million curses mixed in with his name – probably on purpose for driving me insane.
I felt his smile against my thigh as he listened to my orgasm-rattled thoughts. "Shut it," I panted, my forehead hitting the headboard with a dull thunk.
I felt his strong arms gather me up and slip me back down his body, but keeping me on top of his chest. A post climax shudder wracked my frame, and he held me closer, tucking my hair behind my ear. I loved that he could go from zero to deadly in an instant, but I loved even more that it worked the other way around. I sighed with contentment when sweet, soft kisses were planted on the top of my head. I shifted slightly, hearing him hiss when my body brushed against the arousal that was pressing into my stomach.
Lifting my head, I placed a kiss on his jaw as my hand slipped down his side. Not even bothering to remove that fantastic underwear, I pulled him out of his boxers. The silk was soft and thin against my skin as I shimmied down his body a little.
"They stay on," I warned him with a raised eyebrow. He huffed a laugh, but I could see he was barely keeping himself in check. His hips raised under me slightly as I wrapped my hand around him and sank over him.
The sound of relief and pure bliss erupted from us both. "Sit up," I commanded, and he did, gripping my hips as we found our always perfect rhythm in this position – my favorite position.
My mouth met his with a moan, dying for a taste of him, a taste of me on him. Our tongues explored, tasted, caressed, but I gasped when he fisted a handful of my hair to bend my head back.
He ravished heavy, nipping kisses on my neck, licking over the bites to ease the sting. I was close again when his pelvic bone brushed my apex in a new but glorious way over and over. We said nothing, as our bodies knew exactly what we wanted.
I felt his arm bring me closer, his fingers digging into my back as we writhed against each other. I gripped his shoulders, rotating my hips to get to my orgasm that was so close.
"So close, baby," I whined, my head falling back as he took over my movements. His hands on my hips told me he was just as close, and all I wanted was to get there together.
"Almost, not yet," he panted against my collarbone, his thighs flexing tightly under me. He was growing larger inside of me, his rhythm faltering. "With me, now…"
We fell over the edge together, a cry out from me from holding back and a deep, rumbling growl from him, my name at the end like the "Amen" at the end of a prayer.
We stayed wrapped up in a little ball of heavy breathing and soft, nonsensical touches, our heads on each other's shoulder. My mind was trying to block out his impending work shift, trying to be a little cheerleader of "we can do it," but it totally wasn't working.
"I know," he said sadly against my neck, placing a kiss there. "I really don't want to."
"Then don't," I said with a small, cowardly voice. I couldn't fight it.
"Toby," he sighed, pulling back to look at me. "If it weren't for him…" I nodded, taking a deep breath. He studied my face, brushing my hair back with both of his hands. "Visit. Every day I work, come and see me. Just…hang out in my office…"
I smiled at the sweet expression on his face. "Okay," I agreed, nodding. "Maybe not every day, but yeah…"
His beautiful face bloomed into the best smile as he rolled us to our sides. We talked through the night and well into the next day. We found ourselves lost in kisses and touches, laughs and teasing, making love more times than I'd dare admit.
By the time he was showered, dressed, and running a hand through his still damp hair, I was sure I would go insane. I tied his tie, leaning into his kisses to my head.
"I'll be by later," I vowed, looking up at him. "Call me when it's a good time."
"Yes, ma'am." He nodded and then frowned, taking his own deep breath. "No walking, remember? Have someone bring you or take a cab." With one last lingering kiss to my lips, he whispered, "At most…four weeks."
"I know." I nodded, trying to smile, but turned him towards the door.
Once it was shut behind him, I leaned against it, sliding down to the floor. Four weeks. Just four weeks until we would be back into an every day routine. I heard a curse from him just outside, but soon the car door opened and closed, leaving the driveway.
It would be fine. It had to be.


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