Sunday, August 11, 2013 | By: Drotuno

Running for Love by Sarge's Girls




Chapter 1
Bella’s POV
June 17, 2011
“Really? They have to come with me even to Jessica’s house?” I argued.
My mom hummed, barely listening as she flitted around the room getting ready. She and my dad were headed to some political something or other—they’d attended so many in the last year that it was hard to keep track.
“Mom, come on!” I whined. “You know Jess! You know her parents. I’ll be fine there without my prison guards.”
She stopped in front of me and cupped my face. “Isabella, they’re not your prison guards. They are your Secret Service detail, and they are there to keep you safe. I know you don’t like it, but that’s the way it has to be. It’s either go to Jessica’s party with them, or don’t go at all.”
“But they’re all so...old,” I huffed. I knew that wasn’t true, not in a technical sense, but that’s what it felt like. “They don’t even try to blend in. No, they don’t wear their suits at school, but they still stick out. They don’t smile. Like...ever. And it’s not like it’s Halloween yet, so I can’t poke fun at them like they’re wearing costumes to look so...cardboard-ish.”
I’d resorted to sounding like a bratty teenager—something I really wasn’t—and I hated it, but I was tired of the campaigning, tired of politics, tired of the Secret Service and having them constantly underfoot, and tired of my parents being too busy for me. And I knew it was all only going to get worse. My dad was less than six months away from being elected Vice President of the United States, and I was so proud of him. He was going to be great in the position—he’d have made a great President, too, but whenever I told him that, he just smiled with a faraway look in his eyes and said, “Maybe when Jason’s second term is over.”

My mom sighed and stepped away, reaching over to grab her sweater from where she’d laid it across the back of the chair in the corner of the room. “Try not to make a pest of yourself with them, sweetheart.” Before she left the room, she turned back. “Your father and I will be out late. Have fun at Jessica’s. Be good. Remember, the eyes of the nation our on our family.”
“Yes, Mother,” I repeated after hearing those same words again for the thousandth time.
As if I could forget.
~oOo~
September 13, 2011
“Cygnet is on the move,” one of my least favorite guards muttered into her hidden mic as I stepped out the back door.
I hated that nickname. Baby swan. That was what they’d coined me when the Secret Service had begun their protection over my family. Today was my sixteenth birthday, and I was spending the evening home alone—again. With only a month and half until the election, it seemed like I spent most of my nights with just myself, a few of my security detail, and our cook, Mrs. Cope.
Leah was joined by Eric, a senior agent, and they followed me down the porch steps and out across the yard. Leah was a Class A bitch. She was beautiful, her skin the naturally darker tone of a Native American. She’d grown up on a small reservation a few hours from Seattle, so she’d been an easy choice to put on my Secret Service detail when it had come time for them to assign one. Unfortunately, she hadn’t liked me from the start. I’d heard her whispering to some of the other agents about me being a rich, spoiled brat, but as far as I knew, I’d never done anything that should’ve made her feel that way.
Eric was boring. He was older—I’d never asked, but maybe mid-forties?—and just...there. He did his job okay, and he wasn’t a bitch like Leah, but he never went out of his way to be friendly. He was putting in his time, punching the clock for his paycheck. I could tell he didn’t really like teenagers—how he’d gotten stuck with my detail, I’d never been able to guess. I was just glad it was him, not Mike, on my daily detail.
Mike was the quintessential All-American male: blond hair, blue eyes, winning smile complete with straight white teeth. I was sure that in high school and college, he’d been part of the popular crowd, the big man on campus. Of course, he was a pervert, too. He’d been with me from the beginning, almost a year and a half already, when I was fourteen and he was somewhere in his mid-thirties. I’d caught him staring at me a little too long one too many times. He creeped me out, but he didn’t scare me.
Shaking off thoughts of my guards, I tried to enjoy the scenery. It was a warm day, nearly eighty—which, for Seattle in mid-September, was a heat wave—and beautiful outside with the late summer, early fall setting. I was walking to my favorite place in the world: a pond surrounded by trees and rocks at the back of my family’s property. It butted up against our neighbor’s fields, so there were no other houses anywhere near it. I had complete privacy when I went there, aside from the Secret Service detail, although they usually were able to stay far enough away that I was out of sight. They could hear me and reach me if I needed them, but it was the one place I could truly feel like a normal girl, like I didn’t have someone looking over my shoulder—whether it be the press, the Secret Service, or the nation, waiting to see if Charlie Swan’s teenage daughter would screw up.
And it was the perfect place to wallow when I had to spend my sixteenth birthday alone because my parents were too busy campaigning and my friends were too busy with school work and jobs and boyfriends to celebrate.
~oOo~
May 5, 2012
“Hey, Ms. Cygnet,” Jess said in answer.
I laughed. She was my oldest friend and the only one I didn’t hate calling me that. She’d thought it was funny when I’d told her that was what the Secret Service had nicknamed me, and she’d been calling me that ever since.
“How ya doin’?” I asked, pulling my knees up to my chest and wrapping my free around them before wedging the phone between my shoulder and ear. “Happy birthday!”
I could almost hear her grin over the phone. Jess loved birthdays. She loved being the center of attention—although she was nice and sweet, not conceited about it—so having people celebrating her day of birth was one of her favorite things.
“Thanks! I’m good. Had lunch and a party with the family earlier since I’m going out with the gang tonight.”
A flash of longing and jealousy rushed through me, but I squashed it down and planted a smile on my face. “Oh yeah? Didja get anything good?”
“Remember that purse I was telling you about?” At my hum of acknowledgment, she continued, “My parents got me that. So that was cool. I got a bunch of gift cards, too—Starbucks, Abercrombie, Forever 21, and of course, your Amazon. Thanks! I already spent some of it on a couple of books for my Kindle and stuff.”
Grinning, I said, “Oh good. I’m glad it came in handy. So you’re going out tonight?”
“Yeah, Tyler and I are going to dinner and then meeting everyone at the movies, and then we’re all going out for ice cream after.”
Tyler was the guy we’d both crushed on for what seemed like forever, and it was only after I’d left that she’d finally had the guts to ask him out. They’d been together since January, and I was happy—and again, a little jealous.
“That’s cool. Tell everyone hi and I miss them.”
“I will,” Jess promised. She paused, and then asked, “So, how are things there? When we talked last, things were...only okay.”
I shrugged, even though she couldn’t see me. “They’re better. I mean, I’ve made some friends at school. It’s kind of nice because everyone at school is used to the whole Secret Service detail and stuff. We’ve got some diplomats’ kids, some congressmen’s kids...so everyone’s pretty used to the whole political thing and all the stuff that comes with it.”
“Awesome.” Jess laughed. “Much better than having everyone gawking at you like they were here, huh?”
“Definitely. But I miss Seattle. D.C. is...busy. There’s always something going on. I don’t know if I’ve sat down and had dinner with both my parents together more than two or three times since we moved. So yeah, there’s that.”
“And how are things with Pervy and Bitchtastic?”
Snorting into a laugh, I said, “Still pervy and bitchy. He tries to engage me in conversations about inane things, like Jersey Shore and stuff like that. I dunno if he thinks all teenagers are the same or whatever, but he brought up the Biebs! As if I’d ever like him!”
Jess laughed so hard I heard the phone drop, and when she picked it up, she was still laughing. “He thinks he’s gonna get in your pants with talk about Justin Bieber? Oh my God, that’s just sad.”
I giggled. “I know, right? Yuck—about both of them.”
“And Leah?”
Rolling my eyes, I sighed. “She still acts like her shit don’t stink, but she mainly ignores me now, so that’s good, I suppose. I did hear her and Eric talking the other day. Looks like he’s gonna be leaving in a few months. His wife’s looking into a job change or promotion or something. I dunno. But if it happens, he’ll have to move.”
“Oh my God, what if they move Mike to days? Then you’d have Pervy and Bitchtastic to deal with, together, every day!” Jess laughed when I groaned.
“Thaaaaanks,” I said, drawing out the word so my sarcasm was more than evident. “As if I hadn’t already thought of that.” I sighed. “I’m hoping they’ll bring someone new in, maybe someone a little bit younger. Someone I have something in common with and that will actually speak to me and not sound like a douche or be creepy about it.”
“Oooh, maybe it’ll be a cute young guy! Then you can fall in love, and he’ll protect you from Pervy and Bitchtastic, you’ll get married and have lots of pretty babies!”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “Only you, Jess,” I told her with a sigh. “Anyway, enough about that. Tell me about the latest gossip from school.”
~oOo~
September 13, 2012
Another birthday, another year celebrated without my parents, I thought as I slammed my books into my backpack. Dad was at some all-day meeting with some government muckety-mucks that he thought would keep him out of the house until well after midnight. My mom was in Louisiana, touring the area that had been flooded a couple of weeks before by Hurricane Isaac. My dad hadn’t called—I hadn’t expected him to, so it was no surprise—but Mom had called just after my alarm had gone off, wishing me a happy birthday. She’d sounded sorry that she couldn’t be in town to celebrate with me, but sorry didn’t make up for the fact that I was turning seventeen, and just like sixteen, I had no family to celebrate with.
A pounding on my door made me jump.
“C’mon, Isabella,” Leah barked. “The new agent just got here, and we need to introduce you before we leave for school.”
Rolling my eyes, I said, “One minute. Just getting my books.”
I waited to see if she’d say anything else, but I heard her heavy footsteps recede down the hall, so I continued gathering my things.
Less than a minute later, I smoothed the dark jacket over the rest of my school uniform—a white button-down shirt, gray, red, and white plaid skirt, and matching tie—grabbed my backpack, and left the room.
When I got to the living room, Leah, dressed in the same khakis and dark polo shirt that she always wore to accompany me to school, was standing beside Eric, who was dressed more casually than I could ever remember seeing him, in faded jeans and a dark T-shirt. They were talking to a tall man who had his back to me. I realized he must’ve been the new member of my Secret Service detail.
“Ah, good, you’re here,” Eric muttered, looking over the man’s shoulder. “Bella, this is Edward. He’s your new...”
I assumed Eric continued speaking, but I lost track of everything as the new guy—Edward—turned around, a casual, friendly smile on his face. Yowza, he was hot!
Easily under twenty-five, he was easily nearly a foot taller than I was, with reddish-brown hair cut short with just enough length left on top to look like it needed a brush. His eyes were a pretty green, and when he flashed a smile, I saw two rows of perfectly white, almost perfectly straight teeth.
Good God, wait’ll I tell Jess!
~ooo~oOo~ooo~
Chapter 2
Edward’s POV
September 12, 2012
“Cullen! Front and center!” Banner called from up ahead.
Finishing the last leg of my run at a sprint, I double-timed it to my CO, coming to a standstill in front of him.
“Sir,” I panted, and he chuckled.
“I have your first assignment, Cullen,” he stated, gesturing to the bench in front of the office. “I’ve seen your training, your test scores, and you’ve done a helluva good job finishing up these last few weeks. Technically, you’d be too green for this, but we actually think you’d be a perfect fit. We have an agent about to relocate, and we need you to assume his spot.” Banner sat next to me, handing me a file. “It’s a fairly harmless detail, but do well at this, and you’d look good for more assignments later on down the line.”
Opening the file, I glanced through it. “Isabella Swan. The vice president’s daughter,” I murmured, looking up at him.
“She’s a good kid if you listen to the right agents. She’s easy to follow, pretty much does what’s required of her, and doesn’t give anyone too much grief. Listen to the wrong agents, and you’d think she was a hellion.”
I huffed a laugh, thinking that she was a teenager, and we were all hellions at one point or another. “Got it, sir.”
Banner smiled, patting my shoulder. “Look, Edward, I’m sending you in there not only because I know your dad, but because I honestly think you’ll do well in that position. You’re level-headed, like Carlisle, and I think you’ll even out the details already in the Swan household.”
“Thank you, sir,” I told him, shaking his hand and standing up. “When?”
“Yorkie’s last day is tomorrow. They want you there at oh-six-hundred to give you the rundown of everything. The contact information is in the file. Good luck, son,” he stated before walking away.
That night, I studied the file. Isabella Swan was the daughter of Vice President Charles Swan. He’d been in office approximately a year, and at first, Isabella had been eyed by the media simply because of her age and, if I were to be honest, her looks. She was a beautiful brunette, with deep brown eyes and a sweet smile. The public had watched her closely, most likely expecting some sort of troublemaking party girl, but it seemed her schedule was pretty docile: school, home, the occasional friend’s house or outing. She appeared normal, if not a little bit of a loner. Though, with the campaign, the move to D.C., and a change in school, that was probably to be expected.
And according to her file, Isabella was about to turn seventeen...tomorrow.
The next morning, I reported to the home of the vice president, only to find myself surrounded by a few other agents. It seemed Charlie Swan was out for the rest of the day, and his wife, Renee, was in Louisiana. I frowned a little at not only the girl being alone, but alone on her birthday, surrounded by three people that obviously didn’t give a shit.
Eric Yorkie was so ready to be out of there that he was dressed casually, but he gave me the tour of the house, showed me where to store my things, and introduced me to the others. Leah Clearwater radiated bitchy jealousy. Having grown up with a little sister, I could spot that shit a mile away. Everything that came out of her mouth was wry and filled with sarcasm, whether she was talking about Isabella or the Swans in general or even just the house itself. Mike Newton, on the other hand, screamed brown-nosing do-gooder, which immediately set my teeth on edge.
But I was the rookie here, fresh out of training, and certainly the youngest at twenty-two, so I said nothing. However, the way they were treating me, I could see that my last name brought with it a touch of respect. My dad had been in the Secret Service two presidents ago, having retired a few years ago with high commendations.
We were all waiting in the kitchen for Isabella, when Leah took it upon herself to go pound on the poor girl’s door.
“C’mon, Isabella! The new agent just got here, and we need to introduce you before we leave for school.”
“Don’t mind her. I swear, someone pisses in her Wheaties every damn morning,” Yorkie muttered to me, rolling his eyes just as the woman in question came back into the kitchen.
I chuckled and nodded. Less than a minute later, I saw his eyes flicker past me.
“Ah, good, you’re here. Bella, this is Edward Cullen. He’s your new guard. He’ll be taking my place.”
I turned to face her, a polite smile plastered on my face, but my breathing pretty much stopped. The pictures in the file I’d been given did absolutely nothing for the beauty standing before me. It didn’t help that she was standing there in a school uniform that, under normal circumstances would do nothing for a girls’ figure, but on Bella, it looked positively sinful.
Mentally junk-punching myself over the fact that she was only seventeen, I stepped forward, holding out my hand. “Nice to meet you. You prefer Bella?”
“You, too. And um, yeah, it’s much better than Cygnet,” she replied wryly, but her eyes shot to the agents behind me. “Though, I’m sure you’ll be calling me that by the end of the day.”
“Baby Swan,” I mused, shaking my head and giving a laughing Leah a glance. “How...original,” I murmured wryly, smirking when her laugh died quickly.
“It’s the easiest code name for radio calls,” Mike defended.
“Right,” I agreed, but I could see how it bothered Bella to no end. “It should be changed up occasionally,” I suggested, shrugging a shoulder, turning back to Yorkie.
“Yeah, you’re probably right, considering she’s been that since the campaign. With a change in the guard staff, you could switch to something else. I’ll let you guys figure it out,” he sighed wearily. “But for now, school. That’s on you guys. I’m out.”
Yorkie pretty much left without so much as a glance back, and that didn’t seem to bother Bella in the least, but I found it odd, considering he’d been around her for the last two years.
My first day was strange. Bella’s time at school was uneventful, considering where she went. There was no need to follow her from class to class, because the school catered to the children of political figures, so the security was intense.
However, it was back at home that I finally saw the real Bella Swan.
Leah ignored her, taking to a patrol around the house. Newton wasn’t due on for another few hours, since he worked overnight. I wandered around the house, getting a feel for the layout, when I found her in the kitchen.
She had books spread from one end of the counter to the other, with a half-eaten sandwich on a plate amongst the chaos.
Without looking up, she said, “Help yourself to the fridge. Everyone does.”
“Thanks.” I sighed, narrowing my eyes on the homework and then up at the clock. “Umm, isn’t today your birthday?”
Her head snapped up from the paper she was writing, a touch of shock on her face. “Yeah. How’d you...?”
Huffing a nervous laugh, I ran a hand through my hair. “Sorry. I read your file when they assigned me.”
She laughed, and I swear to God it was the sexiest thing I’d ever seen. I wasn’t exactly an amateur with girls, but this one made me nervous, which was fucking stupid, considering her age.
“Nice...I’m a ‘file,’” she snorted. “And yeah, today’s my birthday.”
I reached into the fridge for a bottle of water, cracking it open. “Well, happy birthday,” I told her, holding out my bottle.
She smirked, picking up her glass of milk and tapping my bottle. “Thanks.”
“No party? No celebration?”
“Uhh, definitely not,” she answered, her cheeks turning a beautiful pink before giving her homework her attention again. “Why should this year be any different than last year?”
Her tone was a touch bitter, but I could see why. She was home alone, her parents doing their own thing, and she was surrounded by people that just didn’t give a shit.
“Well, what did you do last year?” I asked her.
She laughed, shaking her head and looking up at me. “Um...you’re looking at it. Well, that and go for a walk.”
“Good. Come get me when you’re ready. No one should be alone on their birthday. Besides, you only turn seventeen once,” I told her. “While we’re on this walk, we’ll figure out something to call you besides...baby swan.”
As I walked down the hall, I swore I heard her mutter, “Now that would be the best present.”
~oOo~
November 21, 2012
“You get Cinderella duty,” Leah snarked in a whisper as we all loaded onto the plane.
I sighed, rolling my eyes her way. “Snow White, Leah.”
“Yeah, yeah. Just testing you,” she said with a laugh, but I shook my head, glaring at her back as she made her way to a seat in the back.
Leah wasn’t testing me; she was simply mean, I’d discovered. She picked on Bella, but I had to give credit where it was due. Bella hardly paid Leah much attention.
The new code name was the prime example. My first day on duty – and Bella’s birthday – Bella and I had talked about a new name on a walk to a nearby pond. Bella had recently studied Shakespeare, so with a little bit of research, we found out that old William liked to mention swans occasionally. One quote from a lesser known play – The Rape of Lucrece – had sealed the deal.
But if the like the snow-white swan desire,
The stain upon his silver down will stay.
So “Snow White” became the new code name for Bella over the radio. What the rest of them didn’t know was that Bella had a tendency to call Leah “Grumpy” and Mike “Dopey.” I honestly didn’t want to know what she called me.
I found Bella sitting in a window seat, her knees drawn up to her chin, her skin pasty, and a sheen of sweat on her brow.
“Oh, no, no, no,” she chanted, glancing up at me. “Edward, you really don’t want to sit with me.”
“Why?” I asked with a laugh. “Someone has to.”
“Leah sent you on purpose,” she mumbled, burying her face into her arms that were wrapped around her bent knees. “Edward, I’ll throw up on you. I hate flying. Not even my parents sit with me, lest I ruin their clothes.”
“Oh,” I sang, storing my bag away, only to plop down into the seat next to her.
I eyed the VP and his wife across the plane, my opinion of them not all that high. It wasn’t like they were terrible people. They treated me okay, like a part of the background. It was their treatment of Bella that irked me the most. They barely listened to her, noticed her, or had time for her. They expected her to be a poster-child for politics, yet couldn’t find the time to just be with her. As much as my parents had worked when I was young, they’d at least made time for me and my sister.
“My mom hates to fly, too,” I whispered to her in secret, smiling when she lifted her head to look at me. “We usually play games or somethin’ when we have to fly somewhere.”
She lifted a hand, which was shaking like a leaf, raising an eyebrow up at me. I tried my damnedest not to notice just how fucking sexy that looked on her.
I grinned. “Okay, no card games or tic-tac-toe,” I sang with a chuckle. “We’ll be playing 52-card-pickup all over this freakin’ plane. Nothing that requires motor skills.”
She finally cracked a smile, but gasped when we were told to strap in. Her hands were shaking even more, so I helped her with her seat belt, trying to keep my touches brief. I’d been in the house now for a couple of months, and she still rendered me stupid occasionally. “She’s only seventeen,” was a mental reprimand that had become an endless chant in my head. It had been joined by, “She’s the daughter of the Vice President of the United States of America.” Neither worked. She was beautiful and not the immature, spoiled teen Leah assumed she was. Bella was smart and funny and quite wry when she wanted to be. And it really, really didn’t help that she was built for fucking sin.
“Bella,” I said softly, waiting until she looked at me. “Relax. Let’s find something to keep your mind off this flight, okay? What about...” I tapped my chin. “Oh! Twenty questions. Ask me anything. Then I’ll ask you. We’ll take turns the whole way to Seattle. Okay?”
She nodded vehemently, swallowing nervously. “Anything?”
“Anything. I’m cleared by the United States government, Snow White. So I’m kind of an open book,” I told her, grinning she snorted a little.
The plane started to move, and Bella flinched, but I offer her my arm. She gripped my sleeve tenaciously as her breathing picked up.
“Questions, Bella...ask them,” I urged.
“Okay, okay. Um, where do you go?” she asked, looking at me. “When you and your mom fly, where do you go?”
“Chicago. That’s where I was born. Where my family is originally from,” I answered.
She nodded, licking her lips. “Middle name?”
“Anthony.”
“Birthday?”
“June twentieth.”
“Siblings?”
“Yup. One. I have a little sister – Alice. She’s two years younger than me.”
Bella paused for a second, giving me a sideways glance. “Well, that explains a few things,” she muttered.
I laughed. “What?”
“Well, you just seem to ‘get me’ sometimes. You’re probably used to it from having a sister,” she explained.
“You’re very similar, yes. You can’t scare me, that’s for sure,” I teased her. “But we’ve gotten off-track. Questions, Swan. Go!”
“If you could do anything with your life, what would it be?” she asked out of the blue.
Shocked a little, I gave her a double-take, but thought about it for a moment. “I wish I’d stayed in college.” I shrugged a little. “I quit before my second year, so my dad got me into the Secret Service program when I turned twenty-one. But I’d always been good at science and sports. I wanted to be in sports medicine. You know, sports-related injuries.”
She smiled, and it was sweet and beautiful and kind, and somewhere deep inside of me, I cracked wide open for her. And it hurt to know that nothing could happen with this sweet, beautiful girl, because she was slowly revealing herself to be the type of girl I wanted.
“Maybe someday, Edward?” she asked, shrugging a shoulder. “You don’t have to do this forever. One day, I won’t need a babysitter,” she teased with a grin.
I nodded, huffing a laugh. “Maybe.”
She asked me everything from the inane, like favorite color and number, to what TV shows and movies I liked. I laughed when she nervously asked about girlfriends and first kisses, but I answered her as honestly as I could, which was no current girlfriend, and my first kiss was from a girl named Lauren in the eighth grade.
By the time we’d been in the air a few hours, Bella was calmer, no longer a sickly green color. We attempted tic-tac-toe, but a touch of turbulence set her back to only being able to talk. And we talked about everything up until we touched down in Seattle. As we gathered our things to disembark, she grabbed my sleeve.
“Hey, Edward?” she asked softy. “Um, thanks. That was the first flight I haven’t thrown up on...like ever.”
Laughing, I took her bag from her. “Oh, I’d say you’re welcome, Bella, but there’s still a trip back after Thanksgiving. It’ll be my turn for questions.”
Grinning, she nodded. “Fair enough.”
~oOo~
December 24, 2012
Soft Christmas music played from somewhere downstairs. The house was eerily quiet as I stepped into the kitchen to grab something to drink. Opting for a soda, I popped it open and downed most of it. The only lights on in the living room were from the lights of the enormous and pretentious Christmas tree and the glow of Bella’s tablet.
When I stepped into the room, she glanced up, smiling at me. “Merry Christmas.”
“You, too. You’re alone?” I asked incredulously.
She laughed, though it sounded a touch bitter. “They’re working...um, visiting wounded soldiers at the hospital and then feeding the hospital staff.”
“But working on Christmas?”
“You are,” she pointed out with a laugh, raising that eyebrow at me.
Grinning, I shrugged a shoulder. “True, but at least I got to spend time with my family yesterday.”
“Ah!” She beamed, sitting up completely. “Did you have fun? What did Santa bring you?”
Laughing, I shook my head at how she’d quickly changed the subject, and then I took a seat on the edge of the chair across from her. “Yes, and clothes, mostly. And a new iPod.” I held the new device up to prove it.
She stood up. “Let’s see it, then. Hand it over, Cullen. Let’s see what the Secret Service listens to...”
I took it out, and it was immediately snatched out of my hand and set on the player’s dock. The Christmas music was cut off, only to be replaced by the music I’d been listening to upstairs. She smiled, nodded in approval, and sat back down on the sofa.
“That’s cool. Can you imagine what Dopey listens to?” she asked in a whisper.
I snorted. “Or Grumpy, for that matter?”
We both paused, saying, “Angry girl rock,” at the same time.
“Evanescence,” Bella said with a nod.
“Avril Lavigne,” I countered.
“Taylor Swift,” Bella snorted, and we both cracked the fuck up.
We chatted about music, made a little more fun of my coworkers, and by the time we heard her parents come in the door, we’d been sitting together watching YouTube on her tablet, showing each other different songs we liked. I stood up, realizing how comfortable and close I’d been to her, and ran a hand through my hair. Before her parents stepped into the living room, I met Bella’s gaze.
“Um, Merry Christmas, Bella,” I told her softly.
She smiled, nodding a little. “You, too, Edward.”
~oOo~
April 13, 2013
Glancing down out of my bedroom window, I groaned aloud at the sight below me. Swimming laps in the pool, in a sweet purple bikini, was Bella. It was more than seeing most of her sexy-as-hell body; it was that she was fit and a touch athletic. She could do laps probably as long as I could.
There was a touch of steam coming off the top of the water. It was heated, but the air outside was still a bit cool, despite the fact that spring was here. I finished getting dressed, willing my dick under control.
“She’s fucking seventeen, Cullen,” I snapped in a hiss to myself in the bathroom mirror.
I grabbed a cup of coffee from the kitchen, but my temper skyrocketed when I took in the scene on the pool deck. Mike Newton was ogling Bella like she was something to eat, which wasn’t exactly new. I’d noticed over the last several months that he watched her with a pervy smile across his face. Even more, he said shit to her when he thought no one was listening. Like right then.
“Is it cold, princess?” he asked with a chuckle.
Normally, Bella blew him off, giving him shit right back. But as I stepped out silently behind him, my arms folded across my chest, I could see the red stain her cheeks in embarrassment.
“Newton!” I snapped, my lip curling in anger. When he practically jumped and slipped into the pool, I smirked, but said, “Can I talk to you?”
I pulled him to the side, just outside the French doors of the house. “You need to leave her alone, Newton. She’s clearly uncomfortable.”
“Tsk,” he scoffed, rolling his eyes. “Like you don’t stare at that sweet piece of ass, Cullen. Don’t even try me.”
I sneered, balling my fists up. “I won’t deny she’s a beautiful girl, Mike, but you’re clearly stepping over the line. You’re twice her age, and if you continue the way you are, she’ll eventually call you out on it. Do you really want Charlie Swan to find out the shit you’ve been saying to her? The way you actively seek her out when you think no one’s looking?”
“You gonna rat me out like that, Edward?”
“Maybe, but you’re not giving her any credit. All it would take is one word from her to her father, and you’re gone.” I poked my finger into his chest. Hard. “Show some fucking respect, do your fucking job, and leave her the fuck alone. I won’t rat you out, but you will find yourself in a world of hurt if I catch one hint that you’re still fucking with her. Are we fucking clear?” When he nodded, I added, “Now, get the hell out of my face. It’s daytime now, and she’s my responsibility.”
He nodded, and I glanced over my shoulder to see Bella pulling herself out of the pool. I moved quickly and snatched her towel off the chair, holding it out for her.
“You need to tell me if he bothers you. Understand?” I asked her, but my temper was still very much on the surface.
“Okay,” she said softly, and I started to walk away from her. “Edward, he doesn’t scare me.”
I spun on her. “It’s not about fear, Bella. It’s about respect. It’s about acting like a decent human being. You’re a beautiful girl, and that’s something that’s fucking impossible to ignore, but he shouldn’t be looking at you the way he does, especially considering how old he is, how old you are, and how long he’s been with you. It’s disgusting. So just...tell me in the future. Please?”
She gazed up at me, all wide-eyed and shocked. “Um, okay.”
“Promise me.”
She swallowed nervously, but nodded. “Okay, Edward. I promise.”
~ooo~oOo~ooo~
Chapter 3
June 5, 2013
Bella’s POV
I stretched when I finally pried my eyes open, squinting against the bright light streaming through my curtains. It felt good to sleep until... I glanced over at the clock and sighed. Ten thirty in the morning. So much better than the six a.m. I’d been waking up at almost every weekday morning for months. School had ended yesterday – who forced their students to go back for only two days after the weekend? – and I was taking full advantage of the fact that I had nowhere I had to be and nothing pressing I had to get done.
First up: a swim.
A few minutes later, I grabbed my sunglasses, a beach towel from the linen closet, and the sunscreen from the cabinet and made my way downstairs. It was cool outside, but the pool was heated, so I’d be plenty warm.
I didn’t see anyone as walked out the back door, but that wasn’t unusual. My parents were working, and the security detail tended to keep to themselves if I was at home—although Edward usually made his way to wherever I was if I wasn’t in my room. He’d join me in the living room to watch a game or whatever happened to be on TV at the time. And ever since April, if I was swimming, he’d find an excuse to be around – patrolling the grounds, relaxing on the back deck, or hanging out in the living room, where he could keep an eye out if he wasn’t needed outside.
Things between Edward and me had changed after the “Mike incident,” as I’d taken to calling it in my head. We’d become friends over the seven months he’d been assigned to my detail. He was still utterly professional, especially when he was directly in charge of my safety, but when I was home and he was here, he was more relaxed. Of course I’d noticed that he was good-looking. I wasn’t blind. But I’d learned a lot about him, too. It had really started in November, for Thanksgiving, when we’d flown back to Washington to spend the holiday there, but even before that, I’d felt more comfortable with him than I had with any of the other agents I’d had since I’d first had them assigned to me. He was funny, sweet, charming, a momma’s boy – in a good way – and really smart. We’d had a lot of discussions, although not always in agreement, about everything from books to TV and movies, and even about politics. He challenged me in a way that no one else did, and it was incredibly sexy.
Hearing him berate Mike for the way he was leering at me as I swam, making comments about my bikini and trying to flirt, had made my heart flutter in my chest. For the first time since I’d met him, I realized he may have felt more for me than just as a friend...and definitely more than a charge, a part of the job.
I’d tried my best to ignore Dopey as he’d attempted to flirt – which, as always, came across more as just creepy than anything – but the way he’d been leering down at me, into the top of my bikini as I stood there in the pool wiping water out of my face, had made my skin crawl.
Edward’s voice had startled me when he’d stepped outside and called Mike over. I didn’t think I’d been meant to hear the conversation, but he’d stopped in the one spot that seemed to echo loudly over to the pool area.
I won’t deny she’s a beautiful girl.”
I won’t rat you out, but you will find yourself in a world of hurt if I catch one hint that you’re still fucking with her.”
His words had made every single leer or creepy flirt from Mike disappear, and I’d spent the last several months repeating to myself that I shouldn’t take it as anything more than him sticking up for his “responsibility,” as he’d called me, or even that he was protecting a second little sister.
Once I’d finished my laps, I floated lazily around in the water. I knew there were agents around the perimeter, always keeping watch, but none of them ever came close enough that I could spot them. I didn’t know where Edward and Leah were, but I knew they were somewhere in the house. Edward always ran first thing in the morning, and Leah at night, so I didn’t think either of them had left the house.
Just as I was getting tired of the water and put a hand and foot up, ready to climb the ladder out of the pool, Edward came padding out in black trunks and bare feet, a towel slung over one shoulder. He smiled my way and cocked his head.
“You don’t have to get out on my account. I can do laps around you.”
I scoffed. “You think so, huh?”
His grin turned cocky, and he nodded as he tossed his towel down on one of the lounge chairs on the deck. “Definitely.”
Pushing off the ladder and swimming backwards to the shallow end of the pool, I smirked. “Prove it.”
~oOo~
“Oh! Shit, that hurts,” I gasped, trying not to choke on the water that the end of our race had stirred up.
Edward had beaten me easily at our race to the end of the pool and back. I was no slouch in the water, but he’d been at least three seconds ahead of me on the turn, and by the time I’d hit the end, he’d been treading water, barely breathing hard. As I’d tried to catch up to him, I must’ve pushed too hard, because my leg was cramping something fierce.
“What’s wrong?” Edward asked, swimming up to me.
Tears pricked my eyes, and I tried to hold them back so I wouldn’t cry in front of him.
His voice was concerned when he said, “Bella, talk to me.”
“Cramp.” I groaned, whimpering when pain shot up my calf as I tried to flex my ankle.
“Your leg?”
I nodded quickly. “Mmhm. Right one.”
“C’mere,” he said, pulling me over to the steps.
With his help, I sat down on the third step from the top, so the water came up to about my waist.
Edward picked my foot up and moved it to his thigh. Then he slid his hands up until his long fingers were wrapped around my calf. With firm, but gentle, movements, he began to rub out the cramped muscle.
I cursed under my breath when it made it hurt worse.
“Breathe through it, Bella,” he soothed. “It’ll feel better in a minute.”
Nodding, I closed my eyes and groaned as I felt the sharp pain beginning to lessen to a dull ache. Edward continued to rub until I wasn’t wincing with every push of his fingers into my calf.
“Better?” he asked softly.
I carefully flexed my foot to test it, and that’s when I realized just how close my foot was to a certain part of his body. Suddenly, I forgot all about the pain. I felt nothing but his touch: the hard muscle of his thigh under my foot and his hands gliding over my leg under the water.
The air suddenly felt thick with tension and electricity, and every time his hands moved up my leg, his fingers brushed the back of my knee, sending a jolt straight to where I was beginning to ache with something that had nothing to do with a charley horse.
“E-Edward,” I breathed, wanting...needing something more.
That seemed to shake him out of whatever trance he’d been in, and he grasped my ankle and pulled it from his thigh as he stepped away.
“You should...” He paused, seeming lost for words. “Go rest your leg, Bella. I’m going to swim laps.” When he turned away, he muttered so low that I barely heard him, “A lot of laps.”
I stood up carefully, pleased to feel no more pain, just the ache left over that seemed to stick with a person for hours after a leg cramp. When I bent over to grab my towel from the chair where I’d tossed it, I heard a quiet groan from the pool, and I couldn’t help but grin. My purple bikini with white polka dots was far from risque. It was modestly cut, giving me plenty of coverage, but I knew I had a great butt, and apparently, Edward was an ass man.
It wasn’t a hard decision to stay bent over, flipping my hair and using the towel to dry my hair a bit. That allowed me to show off my...assets a little longer, and I took full advantage. Finally, I straightened up, grabbed my sunglasses, spread my towel out on the chair, and then turned and sat down, sliding my sunglasses into place, ready to secretely watch as Edward cut through the water like he’d been born to do it.
~oOo~
September 13, 2013
Eighteen. One year older... I was officially, legally, an adult. The thought was exciting, and a little frightening, if I were to be honest with myself. It really didn’t change much. I still had to go to school, still lived at home, and still couldn’t have what I really wanted.
Edward.
I’d gotten to know him so well over the last year, and I felt like he knew me better than anyone else in my life. I was finally able to admit to myself that I was head over heels in love with him. He was a genuinely nice guy, and in a town full of politicians and people with agendas, that was a nice change. When he looked at me, I felt like he really saw me. Not Isabella Swan, Vice President Charlie Swan’s daughter, or pampered princess, or someone to photograph in the hopes that I would do something news-worthy. Just...me. For good or bad, Edward knew the real me and still seemed to like me, and that meant everything.
Every day was a struggle to not just blurt out how I was feeling. When he told me a story about his family, or we debated the latest decision made by congress or which decade of music was best, I gave him another piece of my heart. He held it in the palm of his hand, whether he knew it or not.
To celebrate the momentous occasion of turning eighteen, I was going out to dinner. Not with my parents, of course. Even for my eighteenth birthday, they were too busy. No, my celebration with them had taken place a few nights before, when neither of them had pressing business elsewhere. I was okay with that – or rather, I’d grown used to it. And to be fair, they’d spent the entire time actually there with me, not taking any calls or discussing business or politics – which, to my parents, was business – and actually spending time with me. We’d talked about school and my friends, both in D.C. and in Seattle, and about the upcoming holidays. And they’d given me their gifts: a thin gold chain with nineteen beautiful pearls – my dad had bought the first one when I was born and had bought another one every year, including this one before giving it to me – and a set of matching earrings, as well as some Amazon gift cards so I could stock my Kindle, and a new purse I’d been wanting.
My friends from school and I were going out for sushi at one of the best sushi places in town. Several of them had their own security, although I was the only one with a Secret Service detail, and we’d been out before, so I knew how it would go down. Their security would be positioned mostly outside, with a few others scattered through the restaurant. My two would be in the room with me at all times. They wouldn’t stand over my shoulder, but they’d be there.
As I finished with my lip gloss, turning to look at myself as best I could in the mirror, there was a knock on my door.
“Bella? Can I come in?”
The voice brought a smile to myself, and I had to force myself to walk slowly to the door.
“Hey,” I said once I’d opened it.
Edward looked handsome and professional, in dark slacks and a black button-down shirt. He wasn’t wearing a tie, and the top two buttons were undone, making me want to lean in and press a kiss to the exposed skin of his throat and chest, but I held myself back – barely.
“I’m about ready. I just need to slip on my shoes and grab my purse.”
He nodded, and then opened his mouth, but nothing came out. When I raised an eyebrow in question, he sighed.
“I...got you something,” he admitted. “I’ve been debating whether or not I should give it to you. I mean, I want to, I’m just not sure it’s...” He cut himself off with a shake of his head, pulling a small wrapped box from his pocket.
“You got me a birthday present?” I asked, staring at the little box wrapped in silver paper.
“I-It’s not much. But I saw it and thought of you. Eighteen’s a big birthday. I thought...” Again, his voice grew quiet as he held it out without another word.
I smiled as I took it from him, carefully sliding my finger under the edge of the paper. I hated paper cuts, and getting one now would ruin the moment.
When I pulled off the lid, I gasped. On a delicate silver chain were what looked to be little blue glass beads, and from the chain hung a flat, blue glass disc with a letter “B” etched in the center.
“It’s beautiful,” I breathed, immediately taking it out of the box and holding it up to catch the light from the bedside table. Holding it out, I requested, “Put it on me?”
Edward nodded and took it without saying a word. I turned and held my hair up so he could slip it around my neck. Once it was clasped, he stepped around to my front and adjust it so the clasp was in the back and the pendant hung straight on my chest. I dropped my hair and reached up to touch the pendent.
“Thank you,” I said softly, feeling the almost overwhelming urge to touch him instead.
Rather than fight it, I stepped into him and put my arms around his waist, laying my cheek against his chest. “Thank you,” I whispered again, although that time, I wasn’t sure if I was still thanking him for the necklace...or more.
For a moment, he was still, and then with a shuddering breath, his arms slipped around me and he held me tight, his long fingers soothing up and down my back. I closed my eyes when I felt his warm breath and then his lips as he pressed a kiss to the top of my head.
“We should go,” he said, stepping back.
My arms fell to my sides as I nodded. “Let me put on my shoes.”
As I slid my feet into the knee-high boots I’d planned to wear with the black wrap-dress, Edward spoke again.
“You know Leah had to leave earlier today for a family emergency in Washington, right?”
“Yeah, her dad had a heart attack?”
He nodded. “Right. So Mike will be filling in tonight.” A dark look crossed his face. “I swear, Bella, he won’t do anything to ruin your night or make you uncomfortable.”
I grabbed my purse and gave him a smile. “I know you won’t,” I said softly, stepping around him to the door.
~oOo~
I listened to the laughing and joking going on around the large table with my friends, even as my eyes found Edward. He was just across the room, only about fifty feet from me, standing casually, yet alert. He’d caught my eye just after I’d sat down and given me a small smile, but most of the time, his gaze wandered the room, looking for trouble.
Rose, my best friend in Washington D.C., leaned over. “That’s a pretty necklace, Bella! Where’d you get it?”
It was an effort to keep my eyes from straying to Edward yet again. Smiling, I said, “A-A friend gave it to me for my birthday.”
“Oh! From Seattle?”
I touched the necklace and lied, “Uh, yeah, from Seattle.”
Conversation continued as we ate. Most of us got the chef’s tasting menu, which was expensive but delicious. By the time we finished eating, I was absolutely stuffed.
I accepted hugs from everyone, thanking them for the gift cards and stuff they’d all given me, and watched as they followed Mike to the front door as I made my way to Edward.
“How ya doin’, birthday girl?” he murmured.
Smiling slightly, I said, “Good. It was fun.”
“Ready to head home?”
“Yeah, definitely,” I answered.
“C’mon, then,” Edward said, putting a hand loosely on my elbow and guiding me to the door.
He ushered me into the SUV, which Mike had pulled up to the door, and then slid into front seat before we took off in the direction of the house.
An hour later, I was reclined on the couch in the living room, wearing pajama shorts and a tank top and flipping through channels. Nothing really caught my eye, so I finally settled on the original Karate Kid on one of the movie channels. I’d loved this movie since I was a kid.
The next time I became aware of my surroundings, I’d been scooped up and held against a firm chest. I began to struggle, but Edward’s voice soothed me instantly.
“Be still, Bella. I’ve got you.”
I settled instantly, holding on to his arm with one hand and snuggling my face and other hand into his shoulder and chest. He’d changed into a T-shirt, and it was soft under my touch. As Edward carried me up the stairs, I couldn’t stop touching him. I slid my hand up his chest to his neck, feeling the day’s scruff under my fingers as I moved over his Adam’s apple and then up to his jaw. His full lips were just...right there, and I couldn’t help but trace them.
Edward stumbled and groaned. “Bella,” he murmured, his grip tightening on my leg and body as he held me tighter.
I whimpered when his hand drifted higher on my thigh, his fingers beginning to sweep my skin, slipping under the edge of my sleep shorts.
When he stepped into my room and closed the door with his foot, I leaned up and pressed my lips against the skin of this throat.
“Jesus, Bella,” he rasped. “We can’t—”
“Please,” I begged softly. “Kiss me, Edward.”
He gently lowered me to my feet, and my heart sank. I’d finally gotten up the courage, and he was—
Kissing me.
Before I could take another breath, he pulled me into his arms and lowered his head to mine. Warm breath ghosted across my lips only a moment before I was swept away in his kiss. When I parted my lips to allow him entrance, my knees nearly buckled when his tongue slid, hot and velvety, against mine.
Long moments later, he pulled away, just enough so we could each catch our breath, and then his lips were on mine again. But God, I wanted more.
Pulling and tugging at his T-shirt, I whimpered when it wouldn’t budge. It was trapped in place from our bodies being pressed so tightly together. “Off...please!” I begged.
Edward’s arousal was evident when he pulled away, and the heat in his eyes nearly brought me to my knees when he raised an eyebrow and reached for his shirt.
~ooo~oOo~ooo~
Chapter 4
Edward’s POV
My hands shook as I grasped the bottom of my T-shirt, but then I froze. “What the fuck am I doing?” I asked aloud, shaking my head. “We shouldn’t be doing this, Bella,” I rambled softly, turning toward her bedroom door, but she was suddenly blocking my way.
“Why? Tell me why, Edward,” she ordered, and her eyes were dark, but they held a longing in them that I’d never really seen before – a longing that matched my own like a damn puzzle piece.
She reached out, gripping my shirt in her small fist and pulling me to her. And fuck me, if I didn’t go willingly, my hands bracing against the door on either side of her head. She rendered me powerless in the blink of an eye.
The year-long chant of “She’s only seventeen” popped into my head, but even that wasn’t true anymore. Out in the regular world, on any given day, in any city whatsoever, she was legal and free to be mine. There were only five years between us, something that wasn’t even a big deal in the grand scheme of things had we met some other way. But we hadn’t, and this sure as hell wasn’t the regular world.
“It’s my job to protect you, Bella,” I whispered, my forehead dropping to hers and my eyes squeezing closed. It was all I could do to fight leaning everything I had against her, burying my fingers into her hair, and kissing her again, because just that small tease would never be enough.
“You still can,” she countered, trailing her fingers over my face and across my jaw.
“We could get caught. I’d get fired...or...or arrested,” I told her, because there was no telling what her father would do. She may be of legal age, but she was still the vice president’s daughter.
“We’ll be careful, keep it secret,” she vowed, and my eyes snapped open.
I was already shaking my head. “No.” I pulled my forehead from hers. “You deserve better than that, Bella. Don’t you understand? I could lose my job, but I could also lose you. Seeing you, being with you. I’d rather suffer than not be able to see you.”
“Don’t you...” Her voice trailed off, and the hurt that ghosted across her beautiful face shattered my heart.
“Oh my God, yes,” I hissed, stepping to her and cupping her face. “You have no idea, my sweet, beautiful girl. More than I can explain, more than even makes sense to me. Somewhere between your last birthday and this one, I just...”
“I know,” she whimpered, nodding a little, and she stood up on her toes to brush her lips across mine. “Me, too.”
I had to put space between us, but the very second I took two steps away and turned my back on her, she said something that caused all thought, reason, and ethics to leave my brain.
“Edward, I’m...I love you.”
My shoulders sagged in defeat I wasn’t ready to surrender to, but she started to ramble.
“I thought I could fight it. I can’t. I thought it was just a crush. It’s not. I really tried. I’m not stupid, you know. I know the consequences, but...” She stopped when I rounded on her, not coming any closer.
My eyes raked over her, and even in her sweet sleep clothes, she was calling me, begging me, my body aching for her. But it was her face – that honest, open face – that my gaze swept over again and again. She meant every word she was saying. And I simply couldn’t fight it anymore, because the words she’d said could’ve come straight out of my own mouth.
In two strides, I had her pinned to the door again, my lips on hers. She gasped a little, but was kissing me back with just as much, if not more, fervor than the first time. This time, I gave her everything. My body leaned into her, my fingers delving into her hair, only to turn her head to truly claim her mouth, our tongues mimicking what our bodies really wanted.
Bella’s arms snaked around my neck, my hands traveled down to the ass that had taunted me for a fucking year, and I cupped it, gripped it, and finally lifted her up, moaning shamelessly at the feel of her legs wrapping around me. We were lined up perfectly, and my slight thrust against the heat I could feel between a few layers of clothing caused me to come to a stop, but I didn’t release her.
Panting, I asked, “When?”
She tilted her head at me.
“When did you know?”
She looked embarrassed, but her fingers slipped through my hair over and over as she shook her head. “I don’t know. It was just always...there.”
I nodded, nuzzling her nose with my own to make her look at me. “Say it again. Please?”
She laughed softly, nervously, but placed her hands flat on either side of my face. “I love you, Edward Cullen.”
I flipped the lock and then yanked her off the door, striding across the room and depositing her into the middle of her bed, but I braced over her. “I love you, too. You’re right, it’s always been there,” I whispered to her, smiling when she practically beamed up at me. “But Bella, look at me,” I ordered softly, cupping her face with one hand. “This is so dangerous. Do you know that?” I asked her, and she nodded. “I hope so, because no one can know, sweetheart. No one. And you need you make me a promise.”
“Anything,” she vowed, wrapping her legs around my thighs to bring my weight down on her.
“If something happens, if someone finds out, I need you to promise me that you trust me, that you won’t do anything stupid or put yourself in harm’s way in order to save me. Do you understand what I’m saying to you? They will take me from you if someone finds out, but when I say that I love you, I mean it. Even if I’m not in this house, that won’t change. Promise me that you understand that, Bella, or we stop now.”
That seemed to catch her attention, and I saw tears well up just a bit in her eyes, but I made no move to go any further.
“I love you. I trust you. And we just have to make it one more year, Edward. One more. And then college, where no one will care.”
“I know, baby,” I sighed, dropping my forehead to hers. “Oh fuck. Believe me, I know.”
I was done fighting. I couldn’t do it anymore. My whole being just...melted into her – my heart, my body, my lips. All of me was now in the hands of a girl that had become more than just my job, a detail I’d been assigned. And for just one moment, I really wanted to forget my job. So I focused solely on the stunning beauty beneath me. I focused on us, and what we were about to do, because there were other things that needed to be addressed...like her stealthy fingers pulling and tugging up my shirt.
Grinning, I reached back, grabbed my T-shirt, and yanked it off over my head, dropping it somewhere in the bed. My moan at her touch all over my chest, ribs, and back couldn’t be stopped. Dropping to one elbow by her head, I brushed her hair from her face, my lips meeting hers.
We kissed hard and for what seemed like forever, like we’d never come up for air, but I couldn’t help it, because with every kiss, there were roaming hands, tangling legs, and sweet sounds meeting my ears. Palming a plump breast, my thumb brushed across her nipple that was so fucking hard, causing a sound to rush out of her, the sexiest damn thing I’d ever heard, so I did it again, pulling back to watch her face. She panted, her fingers gripping my bicep and my hair.
Her reactions were so perfect, so pure, that I couldn’t help but feel like a fucking god looming over her, but it also made me slow down.
“Bella, have you...you’ve never...” I sputtered, but with my hand flat, I skimmed around her breast, across her stomach, and over her hip, only to finally palm the heat between her legs. And my God, was it nothing but pure, damp fire that I felt, even through the fabric of her underwear and sleep shorts.
She shook her head, her cheek flushing with embarrassment. “No.”
Something about that rocked me to the very center of my being. “No one’s ever touched you like this?” I asked, applying just a little more pressure right where I knew she was probably aching. My middle and ring fingers pressed harder along the seam, causing her breath to catch in her throat.
“No, Edward...please...”
“Shh,” I soothed her, pushing her tank top up and off her so that I could drop open-mouthed kisses to her nipples, the center of her chest, and the smooth skin around her navel. “I’ll take care of you, love. I swear.”
I meant that in every way possible, too. I’d protect her as my job, from getting hurt, should something go wrong, and I was about to take care of the ache that I knew was burning inside of her. But I also needed to make this good for her, considering this was her first time, and that last thought, I shifted, kneeling between her legs and reaching for her shorts.
“Bella, are you sure?” I asked her one last time before I removed the last bit of her clothing. “You gotta be sure,” I urged her, waiting until she nodded, but I wanted words from her.
Finally she said what I needed to hear. “I love you. I trust you,” she vowed again.
Slipping the shorts down her legs and off her, I tossed them somewhere behind me, only to fall back down over her. She reached for my athletic shorts, but I stopped her.
“Not yet, Bella. Okay? Let me...just wait, all right?” I rambled, but she nodded, looking a little dejected, until a soft laugh escaped me. “When those come off, love, it’s all over. Understand? So just...I need you ready before we go there, understand?”
“I am ready.”
“Let’s see just how ready you are,” I murmured against her lips, but my hand slipped back down her now very bare, very smooth skin, across her stomach, and then back between her legs. “Mm, love, you are wet, but I think...I’m pretty sure we can do better.”
My fingers teased her, not slipping between her lips just yet. I wanted her to get used to my touch, because at the moment, she was a live-wire, shaking and begging and raising her hips up off the bed for more. When my touch finally slipped between her folds, I found wet, swollen, and so very hot. Unable to decide where to look, I glanced between her beautiful face and where my fingers slowly touched every inch of her.
Her hips rocked up off the bed, but I soothed her with small kisses right beside her ear, whispering, “Just feel me. Give in, love. Have you ever come before?”
“Yeah...yesss,” she hissed, her eyes rolling back when my thumb rubbed up one side of her clit and down the other in a slow, purposeful circle. “Just...I mean...God, more, Edward.”
“Mm, you made yourself come?” I asked, smiling against the soft, sweet-smelling skin of her neck when she nodded. “Now that is sexy, Bella...but this time, I want you to come for me.”
I added a second finger, trying not to go too deep, but damn, she was tight. Keeping my thumb on her clit, I pulled my fingers away, crossing a third one over, and just barely slipped them inside. I wanted to take the pain away first before anything else. I didn’t want her to hurt, but it would be easier if we took this the whole way and I stretched her first some. I didn’t feel a barrier, but that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be pain.
“Mm, you’re close, love. Tell me when you’re coming, I wanna hear it,” I told her, kissing up her neck to her cheek, close to her lips, because I had a feeling I’d need to keep her quiet. Looming up over her face, I locked gazes with her. “Tell me, Bella. It’ll feel good, but it’ll hurt, too. I’m right here, and I’ve got you, okay?”
“Edward, I’m...”
“Yeah?” I asked barely with sound, my mouth quirking up into a small smile.
Her answer was lost in her heavy breathing, her head pressing back into the pillow, and her bite down onto her lip. When I felt her muscles start to flutter, my mouth met hers at the same time that my fingers slipped all the way inside her.
Bella’s whole, beautiful body arched up. Her hands held onto my biceps, her teeth lightly clamped down on my bottom lip, but her orgasm was stunning.
I kept my fingers inside her as she calmed down, and I kissed her slowly to ease her. Her deep brown eyes finally opened up to meet my gaze.
“Okay?” I asked, practically panting with her, because by now, I was so hard for her that I was in pain.
“Yes,” she whispered, kissing me softly once.
“Did I hurt you?”
She shook her head, but I waited for a second. “I felt a pinch, but it didn’t last long.”
Dropping my forehead to hers, I whispered, “I love you, but we can stop now, love. I’ll understand.”
She cut me off with a desperate kiss, her fingers weaving into my hair to hold me close, and despite the fact that she hissed a little when I removed my fingers, she didn’t stop kissing me. She finally pulled back, gazing up at me with warmth and love and want.
“I don’t want to wait anymore for you, Edward,” she stated in a soft tone. “Please.”
God, did I ever know that feeling, but before I could protest any further, she reached for my shorts, tugging them down as far as she could go, and like the slave I was to her, I kicked out of them the rest of the way, only to settle back between her legs.
With both elbows braced by her head, I brushed her hair from her face. “This may still hurt, Bella. I promise to go slow.”
There wasn’t any need to discuss condoms or birth control. I knew she was on it. I’d been with her the last few times she’d been to the doctor for the damn shot. And I’d been living like a monk since I’d been inside the house, having been tested in training. Hell, we were both clean, and we both knew it.
Swallowing nervously, she nodded up at me, tensing when I lined my dick up at her entrance.
“Relax, love...relax,” I whispered against her lips, but fighting the urge to thrust into her. I locked my gaze on her face as I slowly and torturously slipped inside her, watching for any hint of pain or discomfort. My breathing stopped when I was fully seated, our hips flush. “Sweet Jesus,” I hissed, squeezing my eyes closed and swallowing back the urge to practically growl at how tight, how fucking good she felt. Opening my eyes, I said the only thing I was capable of at the moment. “I love you.”
“Make love to me,” she answered back, brushing her lips over mine softly – top lip, bottom lip, center.
The very second I start moving, I knew I was a ruined man. Just completely done, owned by the girl beneath me. Everything about her was as if it were made for me – her soft lips on mine, the cradle of her thighs, the heavy feel of her breast in my hand, and the tight, slick walls of her pussy. All of it, every damn inch of her, was now mine.
I knew I wouldn’t last; it had been too damn long since I’d come by something other than my own hand. She felt so fucking good, though, and I needed her to come again. What started a little awkward and probably a bit uncomfortable had now became a push and pull between us. Bella’s hips met my own over and over, and too soon, I was barreling down toward my own climax. Reaching between us, I found her clit. I needed her to come with me, which I was pretty sure I was saying it out loud, but I couldn’t be sure.
Bella gasped, her head falling back as another orgasm took her over, but the fluttering around me was my undoing. She dragged me down into the abyss with her.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” I chanted, my face buried into the crook of her neck, her sweet scent now giving off the amazing smell of sweat and sex. “Please tell me you’re okay.”
She huffed a laugh, but sniffled, making me pull back quickly to look at her. “I’m...I’ve never felt so alive, Edward. I love you.”
Smiling at her, I kissed her reverently. “Love you, but you won’t feel that way tomorrow. Let’s get you in a bath. Okay, love?”
Nodding, she winced a little when I pulled out of her, but it morphed into a sweet smile and then giggle when I scooped her up off the bed and carried her into the en-suite bathroom. She squeaked when I set her on the cold vanity, smacking at me when I chuckled, but my goal was the medicine cabinet. I found a bottle of pain reliever, handing it to her.
“Take some,” I ordered, turning to start a warm bath for her.
I heard her use the cup by the sink and set the pills down. When I turned back to her, she grabbed my wrist, pulling me close.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
“Shouldn’t I be saying that to you?” I asked her, smirking a little. “You have...no idea what you just gave me, Bella.”
“Or what you gave me.”
Nodding, I kissed her. “Happy birthday, love.”
~ooo~oOo~ooo~
Chapter 5
Bella’s POV
October 31, 2013
“Did you lock the door?” I panted as Edward pulled my T-shirt off over my head and dipped his head.
“Mmhmm,” he hummed before attaching his lips to my neck and sucking lightly. “Fucking torture, having to watch you parade around all night at that party wearing that outfit. Then having to wait to come in here till Grumpy was asleep?” He bucked his hips, the bulge behind the zipper of his jeans pressing just right against the front of my panties and causing me to whimper and pull him closer.
I’d gone with a sexy Snow White for Halloween, much to Edward’s delight and irritation. The blue, red, and yellow dress had been short – ending a mere two inches below my ass – and long white knee socks had come up to an inch above my knees. I’d paired it all with sparkly red almost stiletto heels and had put a matching red bow in my hair. I’d had to fend off advances all night, but it had been worth it, just to see the look on his face when I’d first come down the stairs before the party.
“Mmm, you loved it,” I teased, scratching my fingers against his scalp.
He bit gently at the spot where my neck met my shoulder and hummed against my skin. “Oh, I definitely loved it. So did every other guy in the place.”
I laughed softly. “Yes, well, it was for your eyes. They got to see...but you get to touch,” I teased.
He growled and pressed a kiss to the top of my breast. “Mmhmm, and touch I will.”
Before I could make a comment about him being Yoda, he closed his lips around my nipple and slid his fingers into my panties. I was wet – always so wet for him – that his finger slid easily over my clit, teasing me with gentle circles and light touches. When I tried to push my hips up for more, he bit gently at my nipple.
“Be still, love,” he breathed, blowing gently at the damp skin and making my nipple tighten. “I’ll take care of you, I promise.”
I nodded, fisting the sheets as he slowly inserted a long finger inside me. My body tightened around him, and my breathing sped up as he added a second finger, pulling them nearly all the way out before they slid in again. With his mouth, he worshiped my breasts, licking and sucking and nipping at both breasts until my nipples felt like they could cut glass, they were so hard.
When Edward moved away from my breasts, I reached up and tried to pull him back to me, but he shook his head and leaned in to kiss my stomach, dipping his tongue into my navel and nibbling the tender skin around it. I couldn’t help but close my eyes when he pressed a kiss to the top of my pussy. He withdrew his fingers as he leaned in and licked me, tasting the arousal that now coated his fingers and my lower lips.
“Mmm, so sweet,” he murmured, barely moving his lips from my skin.
He ran his tongue up one side, sucking a lip into his mouth and nibbling gently before letting it go and pulling the other into his mouth. When he released it, his tongue dipped between my folds, stroking me from the inside out over and over, until I was biting my lip to keep myself quiet.
I stifled a cry when he suddenly pressed two fingers back inside me, curling them as he wrapped his lips around my clit. The combination was too much, and I came hard, seeing stars behind my eyelids.
Before I could come down from my orgasm, still shuddering with aftershocks, Edward stood, shed his clothes, and was pressing himself into me in one long, sure stroke. I reached up and drew his head down, tasting myself on his lips. One hand, I kept on the back of his neck, playing with the hair there, and the other, I trailed down his neck, across his shoulder, and down his arm to wrap my fingers around his bicep. He was so strong, the muscle so firm under my touch, and I couldn’t get enough of touching him.
Moments later, I squeaked in surprise when Edward flipped us, keeping us joined as I settled on top of him.
“Ride me, Bella,” he breathed, his hands following his eyes as he moved his gaze from my face down my body. He grasped my hips lightly, helping me rock.
I closed my eyes, tilting my head back as I circled my hips, moving up and down his cock until I was once again breathless. Trembling, I leaned back with my hands on Edward’s thighs, beginning to speed up the movements of my body.
“Fuck, you’re gorgeous,” he groaned, and I gasped when I felt his fingers on my clit. “Come for me, love.”
Just a few strokes of his fingers, and my movements above him faltered. When he rolled my clit between his fingers, my orgasm rushed over me.
Edward flipped us again, lowering his head to mine and swallowing my cries as he thrust his hips hard once, twice, until finally stilling on the third as he came with a huff of air against my lips.
I smiled, breathless, when he pulled out a minute later and flopped to his back beside me, groaning. He pulled me against his side, dropping a kiss to the top of my head.
“I’m glad you liked my costume,” I teased after a few minutes of nothing but our heavy breaths.
Edward looked over at me and grinned. “I’m glad you loved me enough to wear it.”
I laughed softly. “I do, you know.”
His grin softened into a smile, and he raised himself up on an elbow and leaned down to kiss me sweetly. “I know, Bella. I love you too.”
~oOo~
November 21, 2013
What a difference a year made. At this point last year, Edward and I were friendly, well on our way to becoming friends. I’d learned a lot about him on the plane ride to Seattle, when we’d traveled back for Thanksgiving. Now, exactly a year to that day, we were all on the plane again for the holiday. It seemed a given that Edward would pull the duty of sitting with me, but in reality, I was feeling a lot less nervous. I trusted him, and with him by my side, I could handle anything, even a plane ride.
“How ya doin’?” he murmured as he slid into the seat beside mine.
I smiled, shrugging. “Nervous, but I’m okay. Do we get to play twenty questions again this trip?”
Edward chuckled. “If you want to. Are you sure you don’t know everything about me yet?” he teased, his eyes sparkling.
“Nah, I can think of a few things I wanna know.”
He grinned and looked around before lowering his voice. “Keep it clean, Isabella...”
“Yes, sir,” I sassed.
His eyes darkened, and I shook my head, laughing quietly.
Once we were in the air, I shivered. I was a little cold since I’d taken off the sweater over my shirt when we boarded the plane in order to be comfortable.
“Need your sweater?”
I started to answer in the affirmative, but a thought popped into my head, and I said instead, “No, but could you grab a blanket from the closet back there?”
He raised an eyebrow, but nodded without comment.
When he handed it to me and sat back down, I spread it out, making sure it was far enough to his side that his hand could be hidden under the blanket. Reaching out, I threaded my fingers through his and tucked the under the light cotton blanket, keeping them hidden from view of anyone who walked by.
“So you said you were interested in sports and science when you were younger?” I asked, wondering how we’d never talked about this before now. When he nodded, I asked, “What sports?”
“I played soccer, mostly. A bit of baseball growing up, but soccer was my thing.” He grinned proudly. “I was a forward because of my speed.”
“Oh, so you aren’t just lightning fast in the pool?”
He laugh out loud at that. We’d had several races since the first one, where he’d had to rub my leg because of a cramp. He’d beaten me every time.
“No, I’m much faster on the soccer field.” He rubbed the inside of my wrist with his thumb as he lowered his voice and said smoothly, “I’m almost as good with my feet as I am with my hands.”
I nearly melted into a puddle from the heat in his eyes, but a jolt from the plane made my breath catch.
“Shh, Bella. I’ve got you,” Edward said immediately, squeezing my hand. “Just a bit of turbulence.”
Nodding, I breathed out audibly when the plane leveled out again.
“See?” He smiled. “Next question,” he said, bringing my mind back to the two of us instead of what could possibly happen to the plane.
“How’s your family? Did Alice like the song you emailed?”
“Yeah, she did. She said she has it on repeat, driving Jasper and our parents crazy.”
Laughing, I nodded. “Been there, done that.”
“Mom and Dad are good. Mom’s enjoying retirement. She said in the six months that she’s been retired from teaching, she’s gotten more done around the house than she’d gotten the last six years.” Edward smirked. “Of course, now she’s pushing Dad to start traveling since they’re both finally retired. I don’t think it’ll take much more convincing. He’s been promising for years to take her to Alaska on a cruise, so she’s playing up that promise.”
We continued talking for the rest of the plane ride, and I even felt comfortable enough to play some tic-tac-toe and hangman with him. When the seat belt sign lit up, Edward squeezed my hand and then let go, pulling the blanket off me and setting it on an empty seat across from us. He buckled his belt again – I’d never taken mine off, aside from a quick trip to the bathroom about halfway through the flight – and smiled as we felt the plane begin to descend.
~oOo~
December 24, 2013
I snuggled into Edward’s side in front of the fire, enjoying the lights from the Christmas tree. Since my parents were making the rounds at the soup kitchens in town, and Leah was gone for the evening since she and Edward weren’t on duty, we were the only two in the living quarters part of the house. Mike was around, but unless I needed to be somewhere, he generally stayed out of my way, thanks to Edward’s threats earlier in the year.
Turning my head, I brushed a kiss along his jaw, loving the feel of his scruff beneath my lips, and then sighed. “I hate that I won’t get to spend tomorrow with you.”
He kissed the top of my head. “I know, love,” he murmured into my hair. “But since your parents will be here, you’ll get to spend the day with them, and I’m gonna spend the time with my family. I’ll be back on Thursday.”
“I know,” I said, nodding. “And I’m glad you get to see them, really. I’ll just miss you. Don’t let me forget to give you your Christmas present before you go, okay?”
Grinning, he said in a deep, sexy voice, “I thought you already gave it to me...”
I laughed, shaking my head. “Dirty man. That was as much a gift for me as it was for you, anyway.”
Edward cupped my face, drawing me even closer and kissing my lips. His tongue had just pressed against my lips, seeking entrance, when we heard footsteps coming down the hall.
I sat up as Edward jumped to his feet, moving quickly to the fireplace, where he picked up the poker and began stoking the fire. I had the TV remote in hand and was flipping through channels in seconds, and I looked up when Mike walked into the room.
“You have visitors at the gate.”
“Who?” I asked, wondering who would be coming to see me at eight p.m. on Christmas Eve.
“Emmett McCarty and Rosalie Hale.”
“Friends from school,” Edward said, setting the fireplace poker back in its stand.
Smiling, I nodded. “Bring them up here, thanks.”
Mike looked at Edward with a raised eyebrow, finally turning away. I could hear his footsteps getting quieter the farther away he got from the living room.
My heart had finally started calming down. It wasn’t the first time we’d been close to getting caught, but it was getting harder and harder to keep our hands off each other, even if we weren’t doing more than just snuggling or kissing.
“Oh! My gifts for them are on my desk.” I jumped up, ready to go get them, but Edward shook his head.
“Stay here, Bella. I’ll get them.” He smiled, shooting me a wink, and then headed down the hall to my bedroom.
I’d planned to give my friends their gifts a few days before, but they’d both been out of town for the first few days of Christmas break, so they must’ve both gotten back into town tonight and planned to come over together.
Edward was back before Mike, Emmett, and Rose got upstairs, and he handed me the two wrapped gifts.
“Thanks,” I told him, smiling. I was about to lean into him for a kiss, but the elevator down the hall dinged, announcing their arrival.
Edward winked. “I’ll be in the other room. Come find me when they’re gone?” he said in a low voice.
“’Kay,” I said, giving him a smile.
He walked out of the room, nodding and saying hello to Emmett and Rose as he passed.
“Thanks, Mike,” I said to the man who’d followed them into the room. “I’ll call down when they’re ready to go.”
Mike looked like he wanted to argue, but he finally nodded and turned, leaving the room with slumped shoulders.
Turning back to my friends, I grinned. “Hey! What are you guys doing here? When did you get back into town?”
~oOo~
March 14, 2014
Three months. That’s all it was until I graduated high school. If I decided to start college classes early, Edward and I wouldn’t have to wait much longer than that before going public with our relationship. Thank God. It was getting harder and harder to wait.
I was missing him like crazy. His parents’ anniversary was tomorrow, so he’d taken the week off to help his sister get their party together, since she was on spring break from college, just as I was for high school. He’d worried about being away from me, but I’d assured him that I’d be fine with Grumpy and Dopey. I hadn’t missed the look that had crossed his face, but he’d finally kissed me and told me that he’d be gone in the morning by the time I got up. That had been Sunday night, and he’d been right. I’d woken up and gone into the bathroom, and there’d been a note from him with my toothbrush that said he’d wanted to say goodbye, but he hadn’t wanted to wake me.
I wanted to do something. I was tired of sitting around. I’d spent plenty of time with friends this week, but having Leah and Mike along with me...things were never as much fun as they could be. It was too cold outside to swim, so instead, I pulled on some cut-off sweatpants, a T-shirt, and my sneakers and decided to go down to the gym. I rarely used it – I kinda hated working out, much preferring to swim – but there were some exercise bikes and treadmills that I could use downstairs, and that would suffice.
The room was empty when I arrived, so I put my earbuds in my ears, turned on my music, stuck my iPod in my pocket, and climbed onto the treadmill. Thirty minutes later, I slowed down to a walk and then stepped off to the floor, wiping my forehead with the sleeve of my shirt. I turned to grab a bottle of water from the mini fridge in the gym and nearly screamed when I realized that at some point, Mike had come into the gym and was leaning back against the wall, arms crossed, watching me.
“Shit, you scared me,” I growled, heading over to the fridge.
“Sorry,” he said, not really sounding sorry at all. “You’re lookin’ good, Bells.”
“I’ve asked you to call me Bella – or Isabella,” I said crossly. Only my dad was allowed to call me Bells.
“’Scuse me,” Mike said exaggeratedly. “You’re looking good, Isabella. Now I know why Cullen likes that sweet ass.” He hummed. “Mmhmm. Lookin’ really good.”
I rolled my eyes and tried to ignore him, but as I brushed past him, he grabbed my shoulder. I started to shrug him off, but his hand moved, and I thought he was going to just let me go, but it landed again on my backside, and he squeezed, giving me a leering look.
“Get your hands off me, dammit,” I growled, moving away toward the door, forgetting about the water or about getting on the bike like I’d planned to do.
“C’mon, now, Isabella. You’re puttin’ out for Cullen now, aren’t you? I’ve seen the looks you give each other. I know he’s hittin’ that.” He motioned up and down my body. “You’re eighteen now. Why don’t we go upstairs and have some fun since Cullen’s not here, huh? I can show you what a real man can do.”
I held myself back from gagging, and simply rolled my eyes. “You’re a disgusting pig, Mike.”
I turned to go, but took a few steps toward me and palmed my ass again, opening his mouth to say something more, but that was the last straw. I’d had it. I swung my hand up and slapped him across the face, bringing my knee up at the same time. Unfortunately, my knee missed his target when he moved quickly out of the way.
“Stay away from me. Come near me again in anything less than a professional manner, and I’ll go to my father, asshole.”
Without giving him another glance, I turned and walked, much more calmly than I felt, to the elevator, wanting to be away from him as fast as possible.
~oOo~
Edward got back Sunday night and came straight to my room after dropping off his bag in his room. He’d texted me that he was on his way, so I was waiting for him with nothing on but a smile.
When we were finally sated, with me lying half on top of him, my head on his chest, I said quietly, “I didn’t want to tell you while you were with your family, but umm, something happened Friday night.”
He scooted up into a sitting position and pulled me onto his lap, facing me sideways so we could look at each other and talk. “Tell me,” he said calmly.
I explained about what had happened in the gym with Mike, and with every word, his face grew darker and darker, until he’d looked more angry than I’d ever seen him. When he started to shift me off his lap, I grasped either side of his face and made him look at me.
“Edward, you can’t go after him,” I told him fiercely. “If you do anything to him, you’ll get in trouble, maybe even get arrested for assault. I love you for wanting to protect me, but please. Stay here with me.”
He dropped his forehead to mine, tilting his head just enough to kiss my lips. “Okay, baby,” he sighed.
Satisfied that he wasn’t going anywhere, I settled back into his arms and smiled. “Now, tell me about the party.”
~ooo~oOo~ooo~
Edward’s POV
March 15, 2014
I paced outside Banner’s office. Things were seriously fucked up in the VP house. It had taken all I had not to beat the pure shit out of Newton when Bella had told me what he’d said and done. He’d not only continued his disgusting behavior, but he’d had the audacity to touch her.
I knew there was no one inside that house that could be trusted. Leah was biased against Bella so much that she’d never listen to reason. The rest of the agents were long-time friends with Mike, so anything that I’d have said would’ve gone straight back to the slimy bastard.
No, this needed to go through the proper channels.
“Cullen, come in!” Banner said when he’d opened his door. “I was just about to head to the VP house.”
That caused me to immediately be on guard. “Why?”
“Well, sit down. Let’s talk.” He sat down behind his desk, his hands folding together in front of him. “Why don’t you tell me what’s going on, son?”
I took a deep breath and told him about Newton, about Bella’s constant defense against him, about his disrespectful behavior, and finally, the fact that he’d touched her against her will, resulting in her need to slap him. I explained the actions and personalities of my fellow agents – Leah included – and told him that this was the first opportunity I’d had to come to him with this issue. The only thing I left out was my true relationship with Bella.
Banner’s face darkened with every word, and eventually, he got up and started to pace, glazing out the window.
“Edward, what’s your relationship with Isabella Swan?” he asked softly and slowly, turning to face me.
My brow furrowed, but I said, “She’s my charge, sir. But we get along very well. I’d consider her a friend, really. You were right, sir. You told me that she was easy to follow, and she is. Never gives us trouble. Ever.”
“Try again, Cullen.” He smirked, shaking his head. When I didn’t say anything, he sighed deeply. “We have a problem, son. Mike Newton has gone to Charlie Swan with accusations that your relationship with Isabella is inappropriate.” When I stood up abruptly, he held his hand up. “Sit. I’m not done.” He sat on the edge of the front of his desk crossing his ankles. He sniffed once, studying my face. “I don’t want to know. You know why? Because that girl is eighteen, and personally, I think Charlie Swan is an ass. But that’s politics.”
I snorted, but said nothing.
“Second?” he continued, shaking his head again. “Newton has been a pain in my ass since training. And before you ask...yes, I’m that old!” he snapped, smirking a little when I laughed. “Everywhere I’ve placed him, he’s caused trouble. He’s whiny and spiteful...and a damn bully, but...” Banner held up a finger, smiling ruefully. “He just fucked up for the last time. See, he should’ve come to me with that complaint, just like you are now, not the Vice President. Edward, I have no damn doubt that what you say is true. The problem we’re having is that Charlie Swan now wants your head on a silver platter.”
“Fuck,” I hissed, leaning forward and gripping my hair in both hands.
“He can’t have it,” Banner stated firmly, and when my gaze snapped from the floor to his, he shrugged. “But I now have to go in there and clean house.” He reached behind him and snatched up a stack of papers, thrusting them my way. “Before I do that, though, you’re gonna put in for a transfer. Period. No arguments, kid, or I’ll have to do something rash.”
I stared down at the papers, my heart completely shattering, because this wasn’t how shit was supposed to have gone. We only had a few more months before Bella was going to college.
I sniffed, hardened my expression, and met his gaze. “I need a temporary reassignment. After that, I’m handing in my badge.”
The smile that crossed his face was wicked and wry. “Going to back to college, are you?”
“Sir,” I said with a firm nod, but took the pen he was handing me.
“Good. That’s what your dad wanted,” he said with a chuckle, smacking my shoulder, but giving it a squeeze. “You’re good at this job, Edward, but he didn’t really want this life for you.” When I nodded, he pointed to the papers. “Hurry, we’re in a time-crunch.”
I filled out the forms quickly, handing them back.
“Look at me, Edward,” he ordered, and my gaze snapped to his. “You’re not the first to fall for their charge. I’m pretty sure you won’t be the last. Hell, I think one of Ford’s daughters married hers.” He shook his head and waved his hand. “Anyway, I have to get you out of that house to appease Swan. I have to remove Clearwater and Newton, simply because they didn’t follow protocol. Newton will be unemployed before lunch.” He said the last statement with such venom behind his voice that my eyebrows shot up.
“Leah didn’t do anything, sir,” I countered.
“Yeah, I know. And that’s the fucking problem. She actually allowed that shit to continue even before you were assigned to the VP house.”
“Oh.”
“Right.” He glanced up when a knock sounded on his door. “That would be replacements. Let’s go, Edward.”
The entire drive back to the VP house, I was terrified, not because I had to change assignments, but about what Bella’s reaction would be. What I didn’t expect was that the house was now in utter chaos when I walked in, followed by Banner and three replacement agents.
“Isabella, sit down!” Charlie Swan snapped, pointing to the living room sofa.
“No! I won’t allow it, Dad! Edward’s done nothing wrong, and you’re listening to this pig?! He’s the one that was inappropriate. Not Edward!”
Leah snorted, but said nothing as she stood at the French doors leading out to the pool. Newton, however, had the fucking audacity to look shocked at Bella’s accusations.
Bella’s eyes caught sight of me, and I could see her fighting everything not to run to me. But her father beat her to it. I was slammed into the wall behind me, my shirt balled up in his fists.
“You stupid bastard! How dare you touch her!” he snarled in my face.
“I love her, sir,” I stated calmly low enough that only he heard me, but I didn’t fight him. I looked him straight in the eye. “Nothing that happens today will change that. You should know that right now. And she’s free to make that decision on her own.”
He slammed me into the wall again, but everyone came to a standstill when Banner’s voice rang out with authority.
“Mr. Vice President, please unhand my agent,” he ordered and then pointed to Newton and Leah. “You two, front and center.”
“Dad! Let him go!” Bella’s voice was a whisper, but it was as if she’d slapped her father. “Let him go.”
Charles Swan looked like he couldn’t decide whether to kill me or throw up. His skin took on a sickly green tint to it, but his eyes were dark, hate-filled, and foul. He shoved me back into the wall once more before letting go of my shirt. The hate on his face grew when his daughter stepped between us.
“I should kill you,” he stated.
“But you won’t,” Banner stated calmly. He turned to one of the replacements. “Check the security footage of the fourteenth of this month. You’re looking for the workout room.”
The guy nodded once and stepped out of the room.
At that command, Mike’s face paled to a chalky white. Bella smiled smugly, folding her arms across her chest. Charlie Swan, however, just looked a little confused.
Banner turned to Swan. “I’m replacing Isabella’s agents. All three. As of now.”
“No!” Bella argued, stepping to Banner. “Please! Edward didn’t do anything wrong!”
“Mr. Cullen has put in for a transfer, Miss Swan,” Banner explained, shooting a glance my way before looking over at the returning agent he’d sent to check security footage. When the man nodded, Banner did, too. “I thought so,” he muttered, turning to Newton. “Newton, gather your things and meet me right back here. You’ll turn in your badge and gun. You’re officially released from duty. If you’re lucky, I won’t have you arrested for assault on the daughter of the vice president.” He looked up to Leah. “Did you know?” When she hesitated to answer him, he sighed. “You, too, then. Go get your things. You’re being reassigned elsewhere.” He turned to Bella. “Isabella, these are your new guards. Zafrina and Carmen.”
Banner had assigned Bella women agents on purpose. It would shut Charlie Swan up, but it would also keep Bella from asshole agents like Newton. I’d been in training with Carmen. She was fair and smart. She would treat Bella well. I didn’t know Zafrina, but she seemed calm and collected, despite all that was going on.
“I don’t want new guards. Edward didn’t do anything wrong,” Bella stated firmly, but she rounded on me. “You didn’t put in for a transfer, did you? Tell me he’s lying.”
“I had no choice, love,” I whispered, stopping her before she rounded on Banner. “Bella, you made me a promise on your eighteenth birthday, you remember?” I hissed in her ear.
“Yeah, but—”
Do you remember?” I asked urgently, raising my eyebrow at her. When she nodded, I said, “Good. Don’t you dare forget that promise to me.” Her eyes welled up with tears. “Don’t you cry, either, love. This isn’t over,” I vowed in a whisper.
“Oh yes, it is,” Swan snapped, pointing to me. “I’ll have a restraining order put out on you. You won’t be able to come within fifty feet of her.”
“You can’t, Dad,” Bella sighed and sniffled at the same time. “I’m eighteen.”
“You’re still under my roof, and if I don’t want someone near you, then Secret Service must follow those orders,” he argued belligerently.
Banner sighed, looking to me. “That part’s true. Edward, go ahead and get your things.”
I caught Carmen’s eye just before she rolled it when Swan yelled, “If that asshole comes anywhere near my daughter, shoot him.”
But Bella’d had enough. She rounded on her father, her eyes matching his blazing dark ones. “No. You’ll leave him alone. You remember how to do that, right? You’ve certainly done it enough to me over the years. You and Mom...”
“You’re lucky you’re mother isn’t here to see this.”
“Yeah, real lucky, Dad. Neither of you are ever here.”
“So that’s what this is about? Bella, you’ve been given more opportunity than most kids.”
Most of us started to clear the room, but Bella started to follow me.
“Isabella, this conversation isn’t over,” Charlie yelled.
“It is for now.”
We got to the hallway, and I turned to face her. “Love, do not make waves with your father. Understand me?”
“But you’re leaving me!” she hissed back, and the tears and emotions that she been fighting broke free.
Tears coursed down her face, and I pulled her to me. “I’ll never, ever fucking leave you. Remember that promise, Bella.” I bent to her ear. “I love you...so damn much. That won’t change. I swear to you. Look at me and tell me you know that.”
“I love you, Edward,” she sobbed into my shirt. When she pulled back, nodding and swiping at her tears, her words stumbled out of her. “When will we...how will I...I don’t want you to go!”
“You’ll know, sweet girl. We just...have to be apart for a bit, okay?” I held her face in my hands until she nodded. “Now, what’s that promise you made me on your birthday?”
She sniffled, licking her lips, and sighed, “That I trusted you, and that I know that you love me and being away from me won’t change that. You knew this would happen.”
Taking a deep breath, I let it out, dropping a kiss to her forehead. “It was always a possibility, Bella. Always. Wait for me, love.”
She nodded, but rolled her eyes when Charlie called her back into the living room. I quickly packed my things, shouldered my bag, and left the house. I couldn’t look back; the urge to run away with her was way too fucking strong.
~oOo~
May 25, 2014
“I’m supposed to shoot you, you know,” Carmen muttered sarcastically from behind the pole on which I was leaning.
I chuckled, giving the mall a long slow gaze. “Yeah, I’m sure that order is still in effect.”
“No, not really.” She snorted, rolling on her shoulder until she was standing next to me. “Actually, Swan would give just about anything for his daughter to stop being mad at him. The wife, however, is worried.”
I glanced down at Carmen. “Why?”
“It seems you made a decent impression on her mom. She likes you. She’s upset that you two went so far, but she kinda gets it. She’s the only thing keeping Swan in check. That...and well, the fact that those two are never around.”
Nodding, I understood that, though the support from Renee was a shock to me. “How is she?”
“Cried for a month after you left. Broke my heart, really. She’s a sweet girl.” She chuckled. “How’d you get a message to her?”
I grinned. “She told you?”
“No, but I could tell by that silly-ass smile on her face that she’d heard from you. And I’m damn sure her little friend visiting from Seattle knows all about it.”
“Random email. Words with Friends,” I told her, shifting my prop backpack and grinning she laughed.
“Fine, fine. You’ll have about an hour with her, Cullen. That’s about all I can probably give you. But if you’re gonna do this, the window of opportunity is now.”
She stepped away at the same time that Bella and Jessica walked out of the store they’d been shopping in. Jessica gave Bella a glance, pointing toward the restrooms across the way. Bella pointed to a set of elevators. They were splitting up on Zafrina and Carmen on purpose. Carmen ordered Zafrina to watch Jessica, while I made my move toward the elevator. Carmen specifically moved slow, Bella moved too fast, but I slipped into the elevator just before the doors closed us in. Alone.
“Bella,” I breathed, suddenly able to feel my heart beating again.
“Edward!” she gasped, launching herself into my arms. “I thought...you said...”
I kissed her hard, but briefly, whispering, “Shh, not here. Just wait.”
She nodded, but wrapped her arms completely around me as I punched a different level on the elevator. I couldn’t help but kiss the top of her head, inhaling the scent that I’d missed the last two months.
“Love, do you trust me?” I asked her just before the elevators opened.
“Of course,” she scoffed.
“Good, ’cause we won’t have long, but I really needed to see you,” I told her, linking our fingers together and tugging her out into the open.
With a couple of turns and a few stairs, I loaded her onto the next rail car. Once we fell down into a seat side by side along the window, we both glanced behind us. So far, the coast was clear. There were a few people in the seats up front, but no one around us. As soon as the railcar’s doors slid closed, I turned and kissed the absolute living shit out of her.
Weaving my hands into her hair, I claimed her mouth, my tongue slipping alongside hers. Moaning at just how much I’d missed her, I cupped her face, pulling back to look her in the eye.
“Fuck, I’ve missed you,” I sighed, dropping my forehead to hers and closing my eyes.
“I love you,” she vowed over and over, covering my face in kisses until I chuckled. She grinned, biting her bottom lip. But her smile fell quickly. “Edward, I—”
“Wait. I know. We have to talk. Just not here. Not yet. Let me look at you, okay?” I pleaded, leaning my head back to the window and just gazing at my beautiful girl. Reaching up, I toyed with a lock of her hair.
It had been a long fucking two months without her. I’d been given temporary guard duties on visiting dignitaries, but nothing major. Banner had reassigned Leah to the U.S. Treasury to sort out fake money. Mike Newton was now unemployed. He wasn’t even offered pension or the chance to retire. He was, however, punched repeatedly just outside a bar near his house. He hadn’t call the police, and my knuckles were still sore.
The train came to the next stop, and I stood us up, linking our fingers together. Another set of stairs, and two blocks later, we entered a hotel, and I guided her straight to the elevator.
Once inside the room ten stories up, I smiled when Bella launched herself at me again. Scooping her up, I dropped her into the middle of the bed.
“Love, stop. We can’t. Believe me, I want to, but we don’t have time,” I told her, but failed keeping my lips from hers.
We melted together, hands everywhere and legs tangling. Instantly, I was hard for her, which wasn’t a surprise; she’d always made me that way.
“Bella,” I panted, my eyes squeezing closed.
“Edward, please, I’ve missed you so much.”
“I know, love. Me, too, but we really don’t have time,” I explained, sitting up and bringing her with me so that we stayed eye to eye.
I shrugged out of my backpack, but Bella gripped my shirt.
“Edward, you don’t understand. I’m leaving in like three weeks,” she urged, her eyes frantic.
“Harvard. I know,” I told her with a smile. “Congratulations, Snow White.”
“But early,” she said, looking at me like I was going to disappear into a puff of smoke.
“I know, Bella,” I said with a chuckle. “Summer courses. Would you please relax?”
My girl sagged in defeat and into an adorable pout as I rummaged around in my bag.
“I had to get out of that house, Edward,” she murmured. “But it’s Boston. We’ll be even farther apart.”
“That’s why I stole you away, Bella,” I told her, handing her an envelope. “I needed to show you this. I needed to make sure that you know I’d kept my promise, too, love.”
She eyed the envelope, but a slow smile curled up on her lips. “Really?!” she squealed, crawling up into my lap. I welcomed her with open arms, and heavy kisses.
“Look at me, love,” I told her. “Just a bit longer. Can you hang in there for me?”
She nodded, grinning beautifully. “I love you.”
“Love you, too, Bella,” I sighed, wanting to kiss her, but my phone went off, making us jump. “I hate this shit, but we gotta get you back.”
She nodded reluctantly, but allowed me to stand us up. Immediately – like damn magnets – we were back in each other’s arms, lips connecting, teeth colliding, and tongues meshing. I couldn’t, however, ignore the second ring of my phone.
~oOo~
September 2, 2014
Hitching my backpack up higher onto my shoulder, my eyes scanned the room. Smirking when I caught Carmen’s gaze at the door, I stepped into the classroom. She shook her head at me, rolling her eyes, but then jerked her chin toward the side aisle of seats. Zafrina chuckled at me, but said nothing, because there was nothing they could do anymore. Charlie Swan’s restrictions had evaporated the moment the two agents moved Bella to Boston.
Thanks to my mother for pulling some strings, I’d been able to follow my girl. My parents were actually happy that school had become a priority again.
I slowly slid into the seat next to the stunning brunette currently doodling on her notebook. She grinned, her cheeks blushing a sweet pink, before meeting my gaze.
“Hey,” she sighed, biting down on the bottom lip.
“Hey yourself,” I said, just taking her in. “How were summer classes?”
“Boring,” she answered immediately, leaning on her hand and letting her eyes rake all over me. “But this new fall term looks...interesting.”
Laughing softly, I shook my head. “Not just fall, love.”
Her smile was slow, warm, and sexy and held amazing promises for the next time we were alone, but also for our future in general.
“I’m looking forward to it, Edward.”
I picked up her hand as students filed in around us. Kissing her knuckles, I said, “Me, too, Bella.”

1 comments:

Kessafan fanfiction said...

This is awesome... Not sure if I missed it or something, but will there be more???
If so, then I can't wait, but if not then... please, please, please... :-)

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