Thursday, July 11, 2013 | By: Drotuno

Pieces of You Chapter 8 & Pics

Chapter 8 – Here With Me
Edward
Chicago, IL – December
Emmett pulled the car up to the drop-off at the airport and popped the trunk. I got out, my stomach feeling like it was filled with really large birds – fuck the butterflies. With a shaky hand to my hair, I grabbed my bag out of the back and slammed the lid.
The air in Chicago was freezing, the noise around me a dull roar, but Christmas Day was just about over, so people were overly excited...or extremely tired. I couldn’t decide which. And I honestly didn’t care. I was just happy to have been able to move my flight sooner than was on the ticket. I couldn’t wait, and because of that, I’d been driving my poor family crazy all damn day.
When I turned to thank my brother and Rose for everything, Rose appeared in front of me, holding something in her hand.
“Here, I thought you should have these,” she said softly.
They were postcards from Cedar Key, and I flipped through the three of them, noting they were Bella’s work. They had to have been, because they were stunning shots. Turning them over, I saw one of them had something written on it.
Tell him I’m sorry. It was signed with a little drawing of a sun.

Frowning at the apology I didn’t understand, I looked back to my sister-in-law, who smirked. “You... You’ve seen her?” I asked her with a barely there voice.
“I’ll tell you this... She’s there, and she’s safe,” she answered cryptically, leaning in to kiss my cheek and hug me. “I had to make sure, Edward. I didn’t want you to fly down there blindly.”
I smiled and nodded. “And...you’re not gonna tell me anything else, are you?”
She laughed, pushing me away. “Nope. Merry Christmas, Eddie.”
Narrowing my eyes at the nickname she knew I hated, I let it go and hugged Emmett, saying, “Thanks, man.”
He grinned, patting my back hard. “Aw, hell, you’d have done it for me. Now...go get on that plane.”
It was about a five and a half hour flight into Gainesville, Florida’s small airport. I couldn’t focus for more than five seconds on anything but the file folder in my hand once I’d settled into my seat. It had everything I needed to show Bella.
However, my attention was drawn to the postcards Rose had given me. My brow wrinkled, but my chest swelled with pride for Bella. She was so damned good at what she did. The three pictures were all different, all taken around sunset or twilight. As I studied them over and over, I wished I could’ve known what she was thinking when she took them, because every last one of them – while utterly beautiful – seemed to radiate sadness.
And that seemed especially true with the one she’d chosen to write on. The photo was of a pelican, and off to the right was a broken down pier. The clouds were pink, the water a greenish hue, but the title of “Standing Guard” seemed to mean more than just the pelican.
I must have fallen asleep at some point, because I was shaken awake by the flight attendant as the announcement was made to put our seat belts back on.
We’ll be landing in Gainesville in approximately twenty minutes. The forecast for the day is a low of fifty-five with a high of eighty-two. Perfect holiday weather in Florida. Not a cloud in the sky.
I sat up straight, clicking my seat belt back on and gazing out the window. According to my watch, it was four thirty in the morning, which, considering the different time zone, made it five thirty. As small as the airport was, it wasn’t long until I’d collected my bag, signed for my rental car, and turned on the GPS.
The drive was fucking torture. The closer I got, the more nervous I became. And it was in the middle of no-damn-where. It was nothing but trees, and I was pretty sure I saw a giant-ass alligator cross the road. But then again, I was hyped up on too much coffee and adrenaline.
Bella’s place wasn’t hard to find. In fact, it sat right on the beach. The smell of the ocean hit me like a ton of bricks when I opened the car door. A glance at the sun that was barely coming up and at my watch made me grimace at how early it was – just a little after seven.
Folding up the file I’d brought with me, I tucked it into the back pocket of my jeans. My hands were sweaty and shaky as I reached her door. I’d never been so nervous in all my life. She could, in all reality, shatter me right there on her front step. I raked my fingers through my hair one last time before knocking. There wasn’t a sound coming from inside, so I waited a second before knocking again.
It was then I finally heard footsteps and then her voice.
“Alec Whitlock, it’s way too early!”
I didn’t have time to register what she was talking about, because the door was suddenly yanked open.
“Did your mother feed you...jet...fuel?” Her voice tapered off, but everything in my head just evaporated.
Bella looked beautiful. She had a touch of sun on her skin, and it seemed to have also brought out a bit of red to her hair, which was adorably sleep rumpled. Those deep brown eyes widened in shock.
“Edward...”
“Hey, Sunshine,” I said, not sure if I was about have the door slammed in my face, but it was then that I realized what she was wearing: my Dartmouth sweatshirt. Hope exploded in my chest...until tears welled up in those beautiful eyes. “Oh shit... Bella, please don’t cry. I know you wanted to get away from me. But I need... I wanted to apologize in person. Show you that I never meant to hurt you... I thought...”
“Shut up, Edward.”
Bracing myself for her to send me right back to Chicago without hearing a word I had to say, I gripped my hair and rubbed my jaw because I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t fall at her feet, shedding my own tears. And I wasn’t sure I cared at this point.
“I know everything. I know...and I’m sorry I didn’t believe you...”
Everything fucking clicked. Tell him I’m sorry. Rose. All of it. It all clicked in my head. And Bella shouldn’t have to apologize to me. I didn’t want it.
I had her in my arms before I could think twice. I needed to touch her so badly, but even more, she looked like she was about to fall. I moaned, burying my face in her neck when every bit of my girl wrapped around me as I walked her inside her place. Fuck, I’d missed the feel of her, the smell of her.
Rambling apologies spilled from me, along with promises of proof, that it was all over, and holy fuck, how I’d missed her.
Warm hands cupped my face, making me look up at her. She’d never looked so perfect, even with tears and red-rimmed eyes. But the little hint of a sexy smile topped it all off.
“I know...everything.”
“Rose,” I guessed in a whisper, but it was the little giggle that did me in.
She knew everything, and she was still clinging to me for life as I pressed her into the door. I had a million questions running through my head – who, what, where, when, how. But the only thing I could concentrate on was kissing her. It had been too long, she was too close, and I’d been through hell to crawl into her arms. I kissed her like I’d never get another chance, like I was starving for her, and until I couldn’t breathe.
My brow furrowed when I pulled back, because the last few minutes replayed in my head. I didn’t think I’d even be allowed in much less holding her against the door, but one thing struck me.
“What?”
I wanted to purr at her fingers in my hair, but I had to know. “Sunshine...who’s Alec?”
Her adorable expression of confusion morphed into a sweet smile, and she bit down on her bottom lip. She shifted in my arms, and I gently set her down on her feet.
She giggled, checked the clock on the wall, and took my hand. “Someone that will interrupt us soon enough. And I want you to meet him, but I want us to talk first, okay? Plus, I really need coffee,” she told me as she led me to the little kitchen bar.
My brow wrinkled and I wasn’t sure what to make of any of that. A spark of jealousy burned in my chest, but I had no right to ask or say anything. Yet.
“You want some?” she asked, filling the glass pot with water.
“Yes, please,” I sighed wearily, rubbing my face with both hands once I sat down on the stool. “Sunshine...”
She glanced up once she’d flipped the switch on the coffee maker. “Hmm?”
I opened my mouth to ask her something, but then closed it. It had been a long damn time, and suddenly, I felt too nervous to talk to her, almost like we were starting over. But apparently, I was too damn tired, because everything I wanted to know came spilling out of my mouth almost at one time.
“How long have you known everything? Why didn’t...why didn’t you answer me back? I would’ve...” I shook my head, because it wasn’t right that I was angry with her for what she’d believed. I knew what it had fucking looked like. “What did Rose do? She wouldn’t tell me anything...” When Bella came around the kitchen counter to sit next to me, I looked her in the eyes, saying, “Tell me what you know.”
She smiled sadly, but nodded. “How’s my house?”
Grinning, I shook my head. “Fuck, Bella... I couldn’t help it. I needed something of yours near me. Does that make sense?”
“Mmhm,” she hummed in agreement. “But that’s why I couldn’t stay. It hurt too much, especially when I thought...” I opened my mouth to counter everything, but she put two fingers to my lips. “I didn’t know anything until the first week of November. I avoided everything to do with you or Chicago. I changed my phone, moved, but I just couldn’t bring myself to read or delete my email. Rose showed up here. Did you know that?”
“No,” I mumbled behind her fingers, shaking my head at my sneaky sister-in-law. “Not until this morning at the airport.”
She nodded once, taking her fingers away. “She did. And she brought all the proof with her. She said she owed you one.” Bella sighed, got up, and went back to pull two mugs down out of the cabinet. “Anyway...what do I know? I know you aren’t the father of Jane’s baby, that you finally signed the divorce agreement, that you lost Sterling, and that you opened an amazing art center for your kids,” she rattled off while pouring two cups of coffee. When she turned around to set mine in front of me, tears were spilling down her cheeks again. “I read every email you sent, and I know that everything you ever told me was the truth. And I’m sorry I didn’t believe you.”
I was shaking my head at her and was around on the other side of the kitchen counter quickly. I cupped her face, swiping away her tears with her thumbs.
“Sunshine, look at me,” I whispered, dropping a kiss to her forehead. “I know what it looked like. And believe me, Jane did, too. She used it, worked it against us.”
“I should’ve been there...for you.”
“No,” I stated firmly. “I missed you like crazy, but...it was a good thing you left, sweetheart. It got really nasty. That was my fear from the beginning...you getting wrapped up in this ugly nonsense. And it was so fucking ugly.”
“I know,” she said, sniffling, but she picked up her mug and took my hand to lead me out on her back deck as soon as I’d picked up mine. “Rose even brought news coverage with her.”
“Ugh, that was the worst!”
Bella’s giggle was soft as we both sat down, but she merely nodded before taking a sip of coffee. “And I didn’t answer you because Rose said they were still watching you, that you were still under scrutiny. I had to trust her. She was all I had.”
“They probably were, and she was probably right,” I allowed, taking my own sip of coffee and leaning back in the chair. “I was beyond giving a shit by the time she came here.”
“I’m sorry about Sterling. She told me...”
I pulled my chair until it was in front of her. “I’m not,” I stated, making sure she knew I meant it. “Keeping you out of the courtroom, out of Marcus’s line of sight...it was a small price to pay. Besides, it wasn’t like I could work with Jane again after that.”
She smirked, but her brow wrinkled. “So you’re...”
I grinned. “Single.”
The smile that spread across her face was fucking stunning, but her cheeks turned pink.
“You want proof? I have it.” I reached for my pack pocket.
“No,” she said gently, stopping my hand. “I believe you.”
Shaking my head, I pulled it out anyway. “Bella, I want there to be no more doubts between us. Ever.”
I could tell that she looked at the papers merely to placate me. She finally set them back on the table and then took a deep breath and reached for my hands. Our fingers linked together, but her face was worried.
“So...what do we do now?” she asked, swallowing nervously and finally looking me in the eyes.
“I don’t know,” I answered honestly. “But I love you. I never stopped, Sunshine. And I’ll take whatever part of you that you’ll give me. I’ll do whatever it takes. Right now, I don’t care about jobs or Chicago or anything outside of this right here. This is my priority. You.”
She grabbed the back of my neck and kissed the shit out of me. I was completely and totally stunned for a moment as her lips moved over mine. Slipping my hand into her hair, I turned her head and claimed her mouth. She tasted like coffee, but I probably was right there with her.
Her warm hands held either side of my face, and she pulled back, licking her lips. “I love you...I never stopped, either. Even when I thought I should.”
I was just about to ask her what she wanted to do, but the sound of pounding steps made us both pull back. Bella’s smile was sweet and kind, and I finally saw why. The little man couldn’t have been more than ten years old, with big blue eyes and blond curls. He was dressed in jeans and a Gators sweatshirt.
“Alec, it’s not even eight yet,” she scolded him, but his answer was a beaming smile.
You said morning. It’s morning!” he argued, tapping his wrist. “We’re still goin’, right?
Bella giggled at the little boy, shaking her head. “Does your mother know you left the house?”
“Are you kidding me? She kicked me out! Said I was impossible to calm down.”
Bella snorted, rolling her eyes. “She should talk.” She took a deep breath. “Edward, this is Alec Whitlock. Alec, this is my...Edward.”
Her stumble didn’t go unnoticed, and I was pretty sure our conversation wasn’t over.
“Hey, Alec,” I said with a chuckle.
“Wassup?” he greeted with a smile. “Oh! You’re...” He pointed to me, looking Bella’s way. “That’s the guy! The one from the picture. Penguin suit guy!”
Bella laughed and glanced over at me. “Alec likes to rummage around in boxes. He found your picture from the art show.” She turned back to Alec. “Go watch TV. Give me a chance to wake up, okay?”
“Yeah, yeah,” he sighed, running on into the house.
“Does he belong to someone?” I asked with a laugh as Alec made himself at home.
“He lives right next door. His parents are really good people.” She looked over at me. “I’m sorry. I promised him he could come with me to the beach today. I need some shots of the far end. But I can cancel...”
“No, Sunshine, don’t do that. He... You promised,” I told her. “How long will you be gone? I can...” I shrugged, not knowing what I’d do with myself.
“Come with us,” she suddenly blurted out. “It’ll just be for a few hours.”
She’d used a tone I’d recognize anywhere, no matter how long it had been. It was the sound of her panic that I was leaving, that I had to go, and she’d take any time I’d give her. I’d hated it then when I couldn’t give her all of me, and I hated it even more now because now I could, but she didn’t think so. She had no idea.
Leaning forward, I pressed my lips to hers. “Lead the way, Sunshine.”
~PoY~
“God, it’s really beautiful here,” I murmured as Alec ran ahead of us toward the water. “And quiet.”
We’d walked quite a ways down the beach from her place after she’d fed Alec and me breakfast. We’d passed businesses and fishermen along the way. But we were now pretty much away from everything. The beach looked untouched, natural.
“It’s hot as hell in the summer,” she countered, looking up at me before pulling her camera up to her eye.
“You’ve been busy,” I noted, shoving my hands in my front pockets in order to let her work. When she glanced up, I shrugged. “Sorry, Sunshine. That’s how we found you. The paper you’re working for here...and the picture you sold of me.” I grinned when she smirked over at me. “Nice. Was that in revenge?”
She laughed, shaking her head. “No. No revenge. Just art.”
Laughing, my head fell back, but I looked up when a few people called Bella’s name. She waved and smiled, but went back to her camera. A disgruntled-looking pelican waddled up to us, giving me the once-over, but Bella smiled down at it.
“Hey, Bob,” she sang, glancing my way. “Bob’s a...resident.” She smiled. “He can’t fly. See his other wing?”
“Oh.” I frowned, nodding.
“Everyone watches out for him, but I honestly think it’s the other way around. He’s been practically living on my back deck since I moved in,” she said, kneeling down to take a picture of Bob, who was patient enough to sit still. When she glanced up, she yelled, “Alec Joseph, don’t you dare go in that water. Your mother will kill me if you get sick. It’s too cold!”
“Okay!” he called back, skimming a rock or something over the water.
“Standing Guard,” I muttered, nodding in understanding. Bella’s gaze shot to mine. “Your postcards, Bella. Rose gave them to me just before I boarded the plane.”
“Yeah,” she sighed. “I stayed busy. It was...easier that way. And Bob...he just kept me company when I didn’t feel like being around anyone.” She glanced down at her camera. “I think I have enough. We can go back. We’ll drop Alec off. I’d love for you to meet Alice. She’s been...” Bella’s nose wrinkled, and her nervous bite to her bottom lip told me everything.
“She’s been a friend to you,” I surmised, and Bella nodded. “So she knows...”
“Yeah.”
“Then I can’t wait to meet her.” I took Bella by the shoulders. “Sunshine, look at me,” I begged her. “You don’t have to be ashamed or upset or even apologize to me for coming here. I know why you did it. You needed space from me, and it gave me time to finish what I’d promised you I’d do. You’ve obviously settled in here. You’ve done an amazing job.” I sighed when her eyes filled with tears. “And you also don’t have to explain to me why you needed a friend. I get that. I don’t know what I would’ve done without my family. You know?” I cupped her chin. “I know we have a lot to still talk about. I’m not stupid. But whatever you want, all you have to do is ask me. I’ll do it. I owe you that – no, I owe much more than that. Okay?”
“’Kay,” she barely answered aloud, but she smiled a little. “Okay.” She turned toward the beach. “Alec, I’m done. Let’s get you home.”
On the walk back, Bella was quiet, though Alec wasn’t. He was full of life and energy and made me laugh on more than one occasion. The flap of Bob’s feet was another sound I heard. He waddled along behind us as if he knew where we were going.
We didn’t go back to Bella’s place, but instead, stepped up on to the deck of a restaurant named Kona Joe’s. Alec darted in, announcing that he was back.
“Alec’s parents and uncle own Joe’s,” she explained with a smirk as I held the door for her.
We were greeted loudly by a few people calling Bella’s name. I was eyed by more than one person, but especially by a guy behind the bar, who then turned a wistful expression Bella’s way. However, the approaching woman about Bella’s height was all smiles as she hugged Bella.
“Did he drive you to need a beer?” she asked with a laugh, but it died quickly when she caught sight of me. “Holy hell...you came.”
I laughed, holding out my hand. “Edward Cullen.”
“Alice Whitlock,” she said back, shaking my hand. “Nice to meet you.” A man with blond hair joined us. His smile was free and easy and welcoming. “This is my husband, Jasper.”
“Jasper and Alice are Alec’s parents...and they run Joe’s,” Bella stated, gesturing around the place.
“It’s great,” I stated honestly, because it had a great feel to it – old, wooden, almost like a pier, but better.
“Have a seat,” Jasper suggested. “We’ll get ya something to drink.”
Alice led us to a booth, but she looked to me. “When did you get in?”
“This morning,” I answered.
Alice rolled her eyes to Bella. “You could’ve sent Alec home. He would’ve lived without the beach today.”
“I promised him, Alice,” Bella argued.
“No, no...he’s great. And I just showed up unannounced. It’s okay.” I chuckled, gazing over to where Alec was talking to the other guy behind the bar. It had to have been the uncle Bella mentioned, and his eyes on her did not go unnoticed.
Alice laughed softly. “Well, don’t worry. I’ll be keeping him busy. He’s got Christmas decorations to take down in here. I’ll get you something to drink.”
“Soda’s fine, Alice,” Bella told her, and I nodded in agreement.
She left us and walked behind the bar, but I gazed over at Bella sitting opposite me.
Bella sniffed, her gaze breaking from Alice to me. “She played devil’s advocate for you,” she said with a smirk. “She was kinda right on some of it.”
“Does everyone know?” I asked just simply out of curiosity.
“Yeah, pretty much. I showed up here in the middle of the night. They knew my mother and Phil,” she explained. “They just sort of adopted me into the family.”
Smiling, I nodded. “Understandable. They seem great.”
“They are. They introduced me around to Victoria, who runs the little newspaper, and Mrs. Cope, who runs the little gallery down the street. She’s the one that had those postcards printed.”
Two glasses of soda were set down in front of us, and I looked up at the guy that had been talking to Alec and wiping down the bar. His gaze met mine, but then switched to Bella.
“Peter, this is Edward Cullen,” Bella introduced. “Edward, this is Peter. He’s Jasper’s brother.”
“Nice to meet you,” I stated, shaking his hand.
His gaze wasn’t exactly as welcoming as Alice’s and Jasper’s had been. “You, too,” he said, his voice cool, but then he turned to Bella, his voice warmer as he said, “Bella...always a pleasure.” Then he moved back behind the bar, leaving us alone at the table.
Bella grimaced, but thought she was slick by hiding it behind her drink. We were quiet, but occasionally, someone new would come in and the introductions would start all over. When I couldn’t take Bella’s nervous demeanor anymore, I set my empty glass down. And Peter’s gaze over at her was pissing me off, even when I knew it shouldn’t.
“Can we...” I started.
“Yeah,” she agreed softly, stopping me when I started to pay. “I got this.” She picked up her camera bag, and we slipped out of the booth.
With a wave to everyone, we walked out the door. Bella didn’t say anything while we made our way back to her place.
Once we were inside, I looked at her, but her back was to me. “He’s in love with you.”
“I know,” she sighed, dropping her bag onto the coffee table. “I’ve told him it’s impossible.”
“What did you tell him?”
“He knows, okay?” she snapped and spun around to face me. “I tried to go out with him, but I...I couldn’t. It felt all wrong and just...off. I wanted... I thought...”
Finally, I understood that it wasn’t nerves Bella was feeling. It was guilt. Needless guilt.
“Bella, I—”
“No, you don’t understand. I wanted to be mad at you. I wanted...to make this all go away!” she rambled, gesturing to her chest. “But it never did. And then...he started asking me out. I tried, but...I couldn’t.”
“You’re beautiful, Sunshine,” I countered, shrugging a shoulder. “He’s not blind. And I wasn’t there for you.” As much as it hurt me to say it, it was true.
“I didn’t want him,” she sobbed, barely able to get the words out. “I wanted you! I love you! I never stopped! And I t-t-told h-him that, that I couldn’t. I just—”
“Baby, please...” I started for her, but she stepped back, shaking her head. “I’m here now, Bella.”
“For how long?” she asked, glaring at me. “When do you fly back home?”
I pulled my ticket out of my back pocket. “It’s scheduled for a week.” And now I knew where we stood. She thought she’d fucked up, that her being in Florida meant that we were now separated, that I was here only to leave again. “What do you want me to do, Sunshine?” I asked, holding my hands out, but her gaze followed that plane ticket like she hated its existence.
She was breathing heavily when she locked her teary eyes on me. “Stay.”
I’d heard her loud and clear, even though she’d barely said the word aloud. And I knew – just fucking knew – this was a test for me. If I didn’t pass, I’d be fucked. This was the only thing she’d ever wanted from me. Ever. It was only thing she’d ever asked of me when we were in Chicago. And fuck me, I wasn’t going to mess this shit up.
I glanced down at the ticket in my hand and back to her, ripping it in half...and then in half again. I dropped the pieces onto the coffee table. My eyes never left hers when I did it. She needed to know.
“I’m not going anywhere,” I stated, shrugging a shoulder.
A heart-wrenching sob erupted from her. “You mean it? You’ll stay?”
“Yes, baby. All I wanted was to get to you,” I vowed to her. “There’s nowhere on fucking Earth I’d rather be than here with you. I swear to God.”
I found myself shoved back, and I fell down onto the sofa, with a fiery brunette climbing atop of me. I welcomed her with open arms.
“You’ll stay. Here?” she asked, with palms flat on either side of my face and narrowed, watery eyes. “You’d do that?”
Smiling, I nodded as I rubbed the outside of her thighs that were straddling me. “You’re obviously happy here, Sunshine. And I... I told you once that I can be me with you, that you’re my home. I meant that.”
Another wretched sob escaped her, and she pressed her forehead to mine. “But your family...”
I snickered a little. “They’ve been through enough with me these last few month, baby. I’m sure they could use a break from the drama. And it’s not like I have job waiting for me.”
She giggled and sniffled at the same time. “I missed you.”
“I’ve missed you, too...so fucking much.”
“You’ll have to go back eventually,” she argued softly.
“Meh...we’ll talk about it. But right now, you’re all I care about. Okay?” I brushed my lips across hers, tasting the salty tears. “I love you, Sunshine.”
A little whimper erupted from her. “I love you...”
Our mouths collided, and it was desperate and needy. Bella clawed at my hair, my shoulders as she straddled me, but my arms wrapped all the way around her. I’d had desperate moments over the last several months where I thought I’d never get the opportunity to hold her again. But there I was, and she was just as beautiful and responsive as ever.
She was addictive, like a drug, and that was probably the reason I’d never been able to stop myself when it came to her. Every reaction, every kiss, every sweet moan – I couldn’t get enough. I wanted more and more and more. Always more with her.
With a grip to her hips, I moaned into her neck when our jeans rubbed together. My head fell back to the sofa, and I gazed up to see dark, soulful, needy eyes that probably matched my own.
“Fuck, Sunshine,” I panted, running my fingers through her hair. “It’s been so long. I’m gonna....damn, if you keep that shit up.” I stilled her hips, but her smile was wicked, deadly...and so very sexy.
The pull to her was intense – to take, to claim, to kiss, to fuck her six ways from Sunday – but I merely stared at her, trailing the backs of my fingers down her face.
“Baby, I...” I swallowed nervously, lifting up to brush my lips across hers. “I want you. I’ve missed you so much, but...this isn’t what I came here for. I... We don’t have to...” I huffed a frustrated exhale through my nose. “This is important to me. We’re important.”
She smiled, melting against my chest so that we were nose to nose. “You’re a single guy now, and you’re not wanting this...”
“Oh, God,” I whined, my head falling back. “If you can’t tell I want this, we’ve got a problem...”
Her laugh shook us both, which was not helping the situation trapped behind the zipper of my jeans, but her giggle made me smile. It was perfect and beautiful and free. It was that last thing that made me look back up at her.
“I am legally single, Bella, but I belong to you. I always have. This is... Sunshine, this is the first time we’ll be together without any...secrets or lies or anyone to stop us. I want this to be different.”
Bella sat up, still wearing the same small smile, but she gave her place a long, slow gaze before standing up from my lap. She offered me her hand, and I took it, letting her guide me down the hall to the last bedroom. She stopped at the foot of the bed, and I hugged her from behind. I was just about to tell her that we didn’t have to do anything, but she started to speak so softly, I almost didn’t hear her.
“This feels like one of my dreams. One of the good ones, anyway,” she whispered, and I kissed the back of her head. “I was dreaming about you when you knocked on my door this morning.”
I moved from behind her to sit on the edge of the bed, pulling her to stand between my legs. She rubbed my biceps and then my shoulders, only to cup my face.
“You’ll really stay? You’re really here, right?”
I nodded, swallowing back the lump in my throat. I toyed with the beltloop on her jeans, but my eyes never left hers. “I never wanted to ever leave you before, Bella. I did so not because I was putting Jane first, but because I never wanted her to hurt you. Do you understand? And I’m here now because I want to show you that you’re the most important thing in the world to me. It wasn’t about sex or cheating or any of that. It was about falling completely in love with you. We were wrong, but I look at you and can’t find a single regret. Not one.” I pulled her closer, making sure she understood. “Nothing’s changed, Sunshine. I haven’t been with anyone since the night of the art show.”
“Me, either,” she whispered, shaking her head and reaching for my sweater, and I allowed her to strip it off me.
“I’d still hold you all night, if that’s what you want,” I said with a smile as she kicked out of her sneakers.
She giggled, shoving me back flat on the bed. “After you love me first.”
That was all I needed to hear. I sat back up with a grin and reached for her sweater, pulling it off over her head. Jeans and socks and shoes all hit the floor, and hands reached out and touched places they’d missed. When there was nothing left between us, I pulled her up on the bed, bracing myself beside her on one elbow, my free hand flat on her stomach, skimming up between her breasts.
Bella pulled at me until I was completely on top of her. “I’ve missed you inside me. Please, Edward.”
“Are you... I didn’t bring...” I rambled, but she simply smiled and gripped the back of my neck.
“Nothing’s changed,” she whispered against my lips.
I could hear that she meant more than the birth control I so eloquently was asking about. She meant us. She meant how it felt to be right where we were at that moment, because I swear to God, I felt whole again for the first time since the night of the art show.
“I love you...so fucking much.”
“Edward,” she whimpered a little. “I love you, too.”
Leaning down I kissed her – top lip, bottom lip, tongues meeting in the middle. I wanted her to come first, but I could see she wasn’t having any of it. I had to remind myself as I lined up at her entrance that I had time, that we didn’t have to rush anymore. There were no more time limits, secrets, or lies. And something about that thought made my forehead fall to hers as I finally slipped all the way inside her.
“Sweet Jesus,” I groaned, squeezing my eyes closed.
She felt like warm, wet sin. But most of all, she felt like home, like where I was meant to be. Long, strong legs wrapped around me, opening herself up wider for me as I started to move. Fingers threaded into my hair and gripped my back, but the whole time, my eyes were locked onto hers. This felt different. It had been too long, and due to the emotions floating around us, I was damn sure not going to last, but this felt so right, so good.
Her body fit with mine so well. We knew everything about each other, and as soon as her hips met mine in perfect rhythm, things picked up. I knew if I reached between us to touch her clit, she’d come hard around me. But there again, the addiction to see her arch up, to hear my name when I took her nipple into my mouth, was too much to resist.
Bella was beautiful and ethereal as I felt my climax reaching a critical point. Reaching between us, I groaned when it didn’t take but a few swirls to have her crying out. Both of us now covered in sweat, she came hard, and I couldn’t help but follow right behind her.
I stayed inside her, our eyes meeting as we both panted heavily, but her grip to my shoulder and the small of my back told me everything.
“No, Sunshine,” I whispered, kissing her forehead. “I swear, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll hold you as long as you want.” I smirked at the fact that it was the middle of the day, but she didn’t smile back.
She nodded, brushing my hair from my forehead. “We’ll get up later. Just...don’t let go, okay?”
Kissing her again before yanking the covers up around us, I vowed, “Not a fucking chance. Sleep, baby. I know some asshole woke you up early.”
She curled into me, nuzzling her face into my neck, but her giggle was a warm gush of breath over my sweaty skin. “That’s okay. I’m glad he did.”
Smiling against her cheek as I felt her melt into me, I whispered, “Me, too, Sunshine.”











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