Sunday, February 21, 2016 | By: Drotuno

The Student Body Chapter 3 & Pic

Chapter 3 – Decisions
“Let’s do this, Bella,” I told her softly. “You won’t lose all your work.”
“I told you if you got the results quickly enough, we’d talk about it, Cullen.”
I gestured to her sofa, wearing a smirk. “So let’s talk, Swan.”
Edward plopped down onto my couch, kicking his feet up on the ottoman like he lived there. Rolling my eyes, I sighed. He was in my place more than his own. He was there so much, he had his own coffee mug in the kitchen and favorite shows saved on my DVR, which reminded me that I’d set the timer for the coffee maker.
I glared at Edward, who seemed unfazed by this whole damn thing, saying, “I need caffeine for this conversation, Cullen.”
“Share the love, Swan,” he said with a grin.
I narrowed my eyes at him. Wearing just a pair of red athletic shorts and his running shoes, he looked to be way more awake than I did. His body was ridiculously fit for someone who didn’t play sports anymore, though I knew he still went running with Jasper once or twice a week.
Dropping his test results to the couch, I headed into the kitchen and poured us both a cup of coffee. We drank it the same – cream and sugar – and once I handed his cup to him, I stepped over to my desk to grab my stack of folders.
I sat next to him, set down all my files on the ottoman next to his legs. Fuck, his legs… They were long, muscular, with just the right amount of hair, strong calves, and contoured thigh muscles. Despite the knee brace on his left leg, they looked strong and fit. Reality hit me like a slap to the face that it would be me attaching cameras to this man, a camera that would go where those dangerous thighs ended.
“Christ,” I breathed to myself, sipping my coffee. “I really needed more sleep for this.”
Edward snorted, but he pulled his legs from the ottoman, sitting forward to look at the files with me. “Focus, Swan, and you can crash out when we’re done. What’s the next step?”
“Why are you doing this?” I asked him. I sipped more coffee, wishing I could hook the bastard up like an IV.
“Man, you’re cranky this morning,” he said, whistling low. “Drink the coffee until the demon is gone, Bella.”
“Edward, I’ve had barely four hours of sleep. Just answer the fucking question. Why?”
“To help you,” he drawled slowly, as if I were a child. He sipped his coffee but shook his head slowly. “Look, Swan, if you were anyone else, I wouldn’t do this. I’ve never let a girl take a selfie with me, much less record a sexual act, but you’ve worked really hard to get to this point. I’ve watched you. It’s unfair to lose all that simply because McCarty caught himself a case of the girlfriend.”
I snorted into my mug at the way he put that. “Terrible thing, those girlfriends.”
His grin was wide, but he shook his head. “No, not normally, but in this case, truly inconvenient.”
“True.” I sighed deeply, sipping from my mug again. “Okay, so I guess the girl is next.”
I pulled out two file folders and set them down. Edward scooted forward to look at the names and the pictures I had clipped to the outside.
“You have a choice, Casanova,” I teased him, grinning when he nudged me with his shoulder. “There’s Alice Brandon and Tanya Denali.”
He took the folders and set them side by side. “Is she in a sorority? Education major?” he asked, and I nodded in answer, but he was already shaking his head. “She’s out,” he said, tapping the folder on the left.
The girl had been adorable when she came in – petite, dark hair, smart, built like a dancer. Alice had volunteered a long time ago, from the post I’d put up in one of the sorority houses.
“Why? What’s wrong with her?”
“Nothing’s wrong with her, Bella. She’s actually pretty cute, but Jasper just told me he’s kinda got a thing for her, so…no. She’s out. I can’t do that to him.” He was adamant but looked over at me. “Sorry. Nothing against her, but…”
“If the words ‘bros before hoes’ comes out that mouth, Cullen…”
“Fuck no!” He laughed, handing back the file. “I’m just not gonna fuck over a friend…literally. If she’s gonna cheat or whatever the hell they’re doing, then that’s on her.”
“Damn, she needed the money, too.” I tossed the file onto the floor.
“You’re getting paid for this, Edward. Didn’t you know? Two hundred dollars each.”
His eyebrows shot up. “Gotta love funding, huh? Somehow I feel cheap,” he said through a chuckle, but his hands covered his bare pecs.
“Whatever,” I drawled, pushing Tanya’s file to him. “Okay, Tanya…”
Edward’s eyes stayed on me for a beat longer, but he finally turned his attention to the other file. Tanya was gorgeous – tall, strawberry-blonde hair, long legs, and breasts that were bought and paid for, I was sure of it. She was that cheerleader, Homecoming Queen, model-type of beautiful that we all wished we’d been in high school and college. However, she was a friend and didn’t act at all like the stuck-up bitches we’d all known back in school. She was kind and smart and pretty damn sarcastic.
He sighed deeply, his nose wrinkling a little.
“You don’t like her, either?!” I asked through a laugh. “Damn, you’re a picky thing. No wonder you aren’t dating.”
He grinned, shaking his head. He opened his mouth and then snapped it closed. “Does it have to be her? Either of them?”
“You got someone in mind? ’Cause I’m out of options, so if you know someone, then we’ve got to start from scratch,” I told him, bringing my mug to my lips.
“Can’t you do it?” he asked, that half smile curling up his handsome face when I choked on my coffee. “Talk about keeping it private, Bella.”
“I’m pretty sure that would be biased,” I coughed and sputtered out, gaping over at him like he was crazy.
“You need the tests?”
“No!” I laughed. “I had myself tested as a part of the whole thing, but…Edward, no.”
“Why not?” he asked, his eyes dropping back to the picture on Tanya’s file. “She’s hot, but…” He shrugged a shoulder.
“She’s actually really cool and funny and not a vapid waste of space like Lauren,” I told him, tapping the file.
“You know her?”
“I do. She’s an English major. I met her in Lit class my junior year.” I picked up the folder, holding it up. “Just meet her. If you don’t or can’t…” I trailed off, grinning at his scoff. “Then we’ll have to come up with someone else for you.”
He raised a deadly sexy eyebrow at me.
“No, Edward. Booty call, remember?” I reminded him of our chat in the library a couple days prior, but I shoved him and got up from my couch. I paused a second, looking over at him. “Just meet her. She was all for it when it was Emmett, so maybe she’ll change her mind when she sees it’s no longer the football player.”
Edward laughed, shaking his head, but he held up his thumb and forefinger an inch apart. “Football player.”
“Shut up, and get out. I need sleep before class. Meet me in the cafeteria for dinner later. I’ll introduce you to Tanya.”
Edward stood up, still wearing his crooked grin as he slung his T-shirt over his bare shoulder. Muscles and skin and abs that tapered down and disappeared into the waist of his shorts caused my brain to go a fuzzy for a moment. Or maybe I just needed more sleep.
“And if she doesn’t work out? What then, Swan?” he asked, and he stepped closer to me, moving slowly.
“Then we’ll have to work fast, Edward.” I sighed, setting my coffee down on the kitchen counter and rubbing my face. “Maybe your dad can rush another set of blood tests,” I mumbled behind my hands but pulled them away.
He nodded, the smile slipping off his face, but his eyes darkened as he looked me over. “I still think it should be you.” Before I could argue or even roll my eyes at him, he moved, trapping me between his arms on either side of me braced on my kitchen counter. “Before you get all cranky and clinical, Bella, hear me out.” He lowered his head so that we were eye to eye. “There’s the convenience side of it: you’re already tested. But there’s this, too.” He gestured between us, only to prop his hand back on the edge of the bar. “We’re friends. We’re comfortable together. And you…”
“What about me?” I whispered, not really wanting to know what he was going to say, but his tongue dragged along his bottom lip so slowly that I stopped to watch it.
“Fuck, you’d be…so damned beautiful and sexy on camera, Bella.”
My brow furrowed, and I swallowed nervously. “Why are you saying this?”
He huffed a laugh, squeezing his eyes closed and shaking his head slowly. “I don’t know, but… Don’t you… I mean, don’t you ever think about it?”
When his piercing green eyes opened to mine, I froze, not answering or even speaking. Yes, I had thought about it. I’d thought about it more than I should have, because I’d labeled him perfect ages ago. But no one was perfect, right?
“You do, don’t you, Swan?” he whispered, his gaze raking all over my face. “If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be shaking right now.”
“Edward, please,” I pleaded in barely an audible whisper. “Just…”
He sighed and pushed away from the counter, but he did something he’d never done. He dropped a heavy kiss to the middle of my forehead.
“Okay, okay. I’ll meet you later. Just let me know what time,” he breathed against my skin, leaving heat and chills behind when he stepped away.
I stood frozen to the spot where the counter was the only thing that was keeping me upright as he walked toward my door. The clinical side of me was eyeing him, measuring him up for the test we needed to record – how he’d look on film, how smooth and perfect his skin was, and how his body would be exactly what the test required. The friend side of me was angry that he was suddenly pushing these boundaries that we’d had since we’d first met – those unspoken boundaries that had carried us through four years of undergrad work, two years of med school, and countless bad relationships and dates. But the girl side of me – the woman who had silently soaked in the sight of him all these years, not to mention hadn’t been touched by someone other than herself in so long it was scary to calculate – shivered at the heat his lips had left behind. I closed my eyes to ward off what the sound of his words had made me feel. Though, they snapped open when the sound of my door closing met my ears.
I felt raw and exposed, and I had neither the time nor the pleasure of testing whatever it was that he was doing. I needed to get this done, because this test and the thesis I had to write was my life, my career in the making. I needed it perfect and unbiased, and I needed to approach it without trembling hands and whatever these feelings were that were clouding my head.
When I felt I could walk without my knees giving out, I grabbed Tanya’s file and my phone, sending her a text that I needed her to meet me at the cafeteria later today.
“Ready, Mr. Sherman?” I asked, kneeling in front of the elderly gentleman and helping him situate his feet flat on the floor. I glanced at the clock, noting I had just a few more minutes left at the rehab clinic.
“Got a hot date, Ed?” he asked, planting his arthritis-misshapen hand on my shoulder to pull himself up to a shaky standing position.
Grinning, I shook my head, though that was a lie, I supposed. “I guess you could call it that,” I sighed, but I shrugged my other shoulder. “It’s actually really complicated.”
He laughed, glancing across the workout room to the elderly lady sitting in a chair along the wall. Mrs. Sherman came to every therapy session with her husband, who was recovering from a recent minor stroke.
“If it’s real, it’s never complicated, son,” he stated wisely, but he eyed me shrewdly. “Though, you kids these days do everything ass-backwards. Sex and kids first, then marriage, and by then, the paper is damned worthless. Tell me a kid like you hasn’t got a ‘baby momma.’”
Chuckling, I shook my head. “No, sir.” I guided him toward his wife. “I just have a…a…”
“Spit it out, Ed.”
“I have a friend, and I think…there’s more there or that there could be more.”
He stopped, tilting his head up so he could look me in the eye. “You one of them…homosexuals? My grandson is, just got married, too. A fine young man, a lawyer!”
Laughing at his proud smile, I shook my head. “Far from it, Mr. Sherman. My best friend is a girl, and—”
“Ahh, yeah,” he said with a lopsided smile. “Those are the best ones. Those are the ones you keep. You marry your best friend, and you’re set for life, buddy. Trust me on that one.” He gripped my shoulder with one hand and pointed shakily toward his wife with the other. “See that beautiful girl across the way?” When I nodded, he gripped my shoulder again. “Knew her my whole life, neighbors, classmates, and when I went off to Korea, she was the first letter I received and the last letter I sent home.” He nodded once. “Best friends, Ed, mark my words, they’re the keepers. None of this…dot com mess.”
“You make it sound simple.”
“It is simple,” he argued. “What’s so hard about it? She with someone else?”
I shook my head. “No, sir.” I paused a moment for him to rest and for me to sort out how I’d explain. “I have to do something with someone else, but…I’d rather—”
“What’s this girl’s name?”
“You’d rather do this something with Bella,” he surmised. “Then I don’t see the problem.”
“I told you it was complicated,” I said with a harsh laugh. “She thinks she shouldn’t, when really, she’d be perfect. Hell, she is pretty damn perfect anyway.”
He chuckled. “You’re done dealin’, pal. It’s still not complicated. Make her see she’s perfect…and not just for whatever this something is, because your face tells me you think she’s pretty important.”
“What if I push too hard?”
I had no idea why I was discussing this with the old guy, but he’d always been one of my favorite patients I worked with at the clinic. I’d dealt with jocks recovering from surgery, and I’d helped with massage therapy for back injuries, but he was different. His attitude was optimistic and happy. Despite his stroke and slowly deteriorating physical issues, his mind was sharp as all hell. And he still looked at Mrs. Sherman like I looked at Bella, never mind that they’d been married for probably fifty damn years or more.
“Don’t push. Tell her. Say it all, and let her make the decision.”
I stayed quiet as I helped him the rest of the way, thinking of Bella’s reactions to me, to my words, and to my suggestion that she should be the one in the lab the day of filming instead of some girl in a file folder. I could see it all over her face, sense it in how she’d frozen like a deer in headlights. I knew Bella. When she was impatient or angry, she was sharp-tongued and snarky. When she was nervous, she’d freeze up and get quiet. I’d made her nervous, not mad. And that was the only thing that made a smile curl up my lips as I helped Mr. Sherman into his wheelchair.
“Ah, the boy has a plan to get his girl.”
Grinning, I shrugged. “We’ll see. C’mon, Mrs. Sherman. I’ll help you get this troublemaker in the car,” I teased them both, chuckling when she laughed lightly.
Once I put away my stuff and signed out, I grabbed my things from my locker and made my way across campus to the cafeteria. I didn’t even bother to change out of the scrub-type uniform I had to wear at the clinic a few times a week, which went toward my lab/intern hours. I was happy to be done for the day and eager to see Bella, despite this Tanya I was supposed to meet. It was that last thought that made me groan to myself.
I’d spent the last two years avoiding the whole dating thing because I couldn’t stand the empty one-night-stand feel of shit. And now I’d not only volunteered to have sex with someone I didn’t know, but I’d have to do it on camera. Fuck, I hadn’t been kidding Bella when I told her that she’d make the better replacement, because I was a hell of a lot more comfortable with her. But the reality was that I wanted it to be Bella. Between my dad’s lecture and Jasper’s teasing, I realized somewhere along the way, I’d fallen for my best friend.
Maybe it had always been there. Maybe the reason I preferred to hang out with Bella was that she was who I’d rather be with than some random hot girl from one of my classes or someone I’d met in a bar somewhere. I didn’t need to date, because it felt like I was already taken. The only thing that was missing was…sex.
“Well, fuck,” I sighed to myself, shaking my head as I walked down the sidewalk through campus.
The only thing that gave me any sort of comfort was that Bella didn’t date either.
The weather was dreary and overcast, bringing with it a sharp chill in the air. It would rain soon, and the temperature would drop tonight. Well, drop as much as it did in a Florida winter.
The cafeteria was a cacophony of noise and laughter and smells when I walked through the doors. The food line was loud, with chatter and clanging pans. The scent of pizza and coffee and something sweet was thick in the air, and there were students gathered at tables, laughing and talking, not to mention a few by themselves with books open, pens in one hand and food in the other. College was a busy life.
I gazed around the room, my eyes landing on the person who had been on my mind all day since I’d knocked on her door that morning. Bella, while adorable in my sweats having just woken up, was deadly in a pair of tight jeans and a blue, form-fitting thermal shirt. She was sitting with a girl who was getting all sorts of attention from all over the cafeteria. Guys were practically drooling in their plates over the strawberry-blonde girl with the big tits. I understood it, because there had been a time in my life I’d have probably done the same, but really, the brunette next to her outshone her in every damn way. And they couldn’t be more different.
Bella was petite, while Tanya was tall. The former had long, dark-brown locks that hung down her back and around her shoulders in a natural way, and the latter looked like she spent quite a bit of money on not only the style but the color, too. Bella rarely wore makeup, except around her eyes, but she didn’t need it. Tanya was currently powdering her nose.
Sighing deeply, I made my way across the lunchroom to set my backpack down on the bench across from them.
“Swan,” I greeted, smiling when she glanced up at me.
“Cullen.” She took in my uniform. “Oh, shit. You had clinic! Did I pull you away?”
“Nah, I was done.”
Mentally, I braced myself to meet this girl sitting next to Bella, so when I took a seat, I smiled across the table, reaching out a hand.
“Edward Cullen,” I introduced myself.
“Tanya Denali,” she answered, and something about her wry smile told me that she knew way more about me than I did about her. When she glanced to Bella, she raised a deadly accusing eyebrow. “You didn’t say it was your Edward.”
My brow furrowed at her description of me. Your Edward. I snorted, looking to Bella, who looked rather uncomfortable, but she sniffed once and smirked at Tanya.
“Emmett McCarty flaked out on me, and Edward was nice enough to volunteer.” Something cold crossed Bella’s features as she turned to her friend. “Now, if you’re still in, the pay is the same, and we’ll schedule a meeting so that we can have a…a…”
Dry run?” I suggested, plastering an innocent smile on my face, which caused Tanya to crack the hell up.
“As opposed to…a wet one?” Tanya added, still chuckling. “Which is the point of your whole experiment, right?”
Bella sighed, glaring at the two of us. “I was going to say dressed rehearsal, Cullen.”
“Relax, Swan,” I told her, grinning her way. “If you take this all too seriously, you’re gonna pop an aneurysm or something before it’s all over. You still carrying the cranky demon from this morning?”
“No.” She pulled out her notes. “If you two are in, then I need to book two lab dates. So…here,” she said, dropping a calendar down in the middle of the table. “Pick the dates you want and let me know. I need more coffee.”
Something about her demeanor was off, and I followed her movements as she left the table and walked over to get in line for the coffee bar. I turned back to Tanya.
“It’s not about me, is it?” she asked perceptively, but her smile was friendly and kind, if not a bit sarcastic. When I opened my mouth to say something, she held up her hand and laughed lightly. “Save it. I’ve known her too long and heard more about you than you could imagine, but now that I’ve met you…” She sighed, looking to where Bella was still in line. “I asked her why she wasn’t the one doing it.”
“Me, too,” I said, wrinkling my nose.
“Did she give you the bullshit about being biased?”
“Yeah,” I said with a laugh.
“She’s very stubborn, Edward, but I’m willing to bet you know all about that.” She leaned on her elbows, her eyes drifting past me at someone who waved her way. “Look, I get it. If you’re not comfortable with me, there’ll be no hard feelings. Honestly, it’s just…”
“Just sex,” I finished in a whisper, which was exactly what I’d told Bella when I told her I’d help her out with this video.
“Exactly. No strings, just us helping our girl out.” When I chuckled and met Tanya’s gaze, even her own expression wasn’t buying it. She knew. She either could tell how I felt about Bella, or she’d picked up on it with whatever Bella had told her, but it didn’t matter now; we were all pushed for time.
I groaned, rubbing my face with both hands and raking them through my hair. “I can’t let her lose her work. She’s so fucking close to being done. I promised I’d help her.”
“Yeah, that I get, too.” We both sighed, but she tapped the calendar with a questioning expression on her face. “I’m sorry, sweetie, but I think we’re committed.”
“I should be committed,” I muttered wryly, and she laughed and nodded in agreement.
“If I didn’t see how you looked at her, I’d be offended,” she snarked, wearing a grin.
“Don’t,” I told her, holding up my hand. “You’re a beautiful woman, and half this room would hate me for what we’re about to do.”
“Thank you,” she said, but she rolled her eyes, shrugging a shoulder, and she tapped the calendar one more time. “For Bella?”
With a deep sigh, I slipped from my chair to the one next to hers, and we pulled the calendar to us to work around school and work schedules. She worked part-time as a bar-back at a club down in Ybor on the weekends, and I had classes and my shifts at the clinic to account for, so we picked the dry run – which started immature laughter all over again – for a few days away. The filming was three days after that. We knew Bella needed enough time to splice all her footage and edit in the commentary, not to mention crop out faces.
By the time Bella came back with her coffee in hand, Tanya and I stood up from the table, and she hugged me, whispering, “Tick-tock, tick-tock, Cullen. If you change her mind, I wouldn’t be shocked…or offended.” She handed me a piece of paper with her phone number on it as she raised an eyebrow at me before she hugged Bella and left the cafeteria.
I sat back down next to Bella, who was noting the dates we’d picked, but I reached over and gently tilted her face my way with my fingers beneath her chin. “Swan, you okay?” I asked, frowning at the dark circles beneath her eyes. “You didn’t crash back out this morning?”
She shook her head, but she stayed quiet. “No,” she mumbled and then broke out into a wide yawn. She put all her things back into her bag but paused for a moment and met my worried gaze.
“Thank you, Edward. For doing this.” It was a true and sincere statement from her, but she was still off a little. “I knew you’d hit it off. You two are kinda perfect together,” she said softly, and I frowned at that coming from her, because I wasn’t sure what she’d meant by it.
“I made you a promise, Swan.” I shrugged a shoulder, because I really wanted to tell her just how beyond perfect she was, not Tanya. “C’mon, Bella, give me your keys. I’ll drive us home, and you can bring me back for my car tomorrow sometime.”
She dropped her keys into my hand. “Okay.”
Mr. Sherman’s words about telling Bella what I felt, along with Tanya’s push to change her mind, rattled around in my head the whole walk to Bella’s car and the short drive home. I wasn’t sure what could be done – Bella was very headstrong about her thesis – but I knew I had to do something, because the thought of having sex with Tanya did nothing for me, and the thought of having sex with Tanya in front of Bella freaked me the fuck out. So I knew I needed to do something. I just wasn’t sure if it would work.


LoLo-50 said...

I'm glad Tanya wasn't a bitch ,and she knows how Bella feels about Edward and how he feels about Bella. she just needs to come to grips with her feelings that she loves him and wants him for her self.

milinpink said...

Ooh man, I'm so use to reading completed fics. I will be pacing the floor till the next update.

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