Saturday, June 25, 2011

Massage Therapy, Chapter 14 - Convergence, part 3

From the Desktop of Bella Swan
Sunday, August 22 (cont’d.)

As soon as I heard Edward’s voice, a wave of fear barreled through me. I was the proverbial kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar.

I turned wide, guilty eyes to Edward as he stood gaping at me. He wore only a faded pair of sweat pants that hung precariously around his trim waist. I was still staring at the ‘V’ of his hips when I began stammering excuses. I was afraid to look him in the eye.

“I’m sorry. I should have asked before I touched one of your guitars. I just--I was looking for the music to the song you wrote me. I didn’t find it, but I started looking at all your sheet music, and found these tablatures… and this guitar sounded so beautiful when you played it last night that I just….”

I ran out of words, and breath. In the moments that I had braved a glance at his face, he was giving me a vaguely perturbed look from under knitted brows that made me nervous.

“You told me you didn’t know how to play guitar.” It wasn’t so much an accusation as a question. He looked more confused than anything else.

“I don’t, really,” I insisted. “I know the basic chords, that’s it. I just wanted to see if I remembered them.”

Edward’s expression remained troubled as he came and sat next to me on the couch.

“Did you really think I’d be angry that you were playing my guitar?” The disappointment in his voice was impossible to miss.

“I hoped not. But musicians can be funny about their instruments. Especially one as nice as this.” I removed the guitar from my lap and set it gently on the floor, its neck resting against the sofa between our knees.

Edward reached out one strong, elegant hand to cup my chin and stroke my jaw.

“Anything I have is yours,” he said.

Wow. Considering how new our relationship was, that was quite a concession.

“I wish you had told me you could play,” he added. I saw the unspoken question in his eyes: Why did you lie to me?

“I can’t, honestly. I haven’t touched a guitar in years. This was the first time since… since my mother died.”

Edward released my chin and took my hand instead. “I saw that you had a guitar in your closet,” he admitted carefully, his gaze a bit sheepish at my puzzled look. “I actually forgot about it until just now. But when I got up to use the bathroom early that morning, I opened your closet door by mistake,” he explained.

I let out a tiny laugh, imagining it. Then I took a deep breath and admitted, “Yeah, I have a guitar. It was my mom’s. She taught me to play a little bit, and then I started to take formal lessons. But after the accident, I just couldn’t seem to pick it up again. It was too hard. Every time I tried, I just felt… paralyzed.”

Edward’s thumb stroked my hand reassuringly, his eyes more than sympathetic. They were far too understanding; too knowing. I longed for the day that he would reveal the details of his past to me. Then again, I hadn’t fully come clean myself. My eyes fell guiltily to the guitar resting between us.

“So this was a big moment for you, then,” Edward said at last, nodding to the instrument.

“Yeah, kind of.” I bit my lip, but couldn’t stop the satisfied grin that finally stole over my face. “Yeah.”

Edward’s smile matched my own as he placed his other hand over mine, squeezing it between his. “You don’t have to stop on my account. You can play any of my guitars, as long as you want. I can give you lessons, if you’d like. Not that I’m that great a player, but… I’d love to teach you what I know.”

Somehow, I had the feeling he’d be teaching me about a lot of things. He had so far. I felt my face grow warm as I remembered the things we’d done last night; the visceral way we had connected. I didn’t want that to fade in the pale morning light streaming over us from the nearby window.

“I’d love for you to teach me what you know, Edward.” He apprehended my meaning perfectly, his eyes crinkling around the edges as he raised my hand to his lips for a kiss.

“Okay, then. I’ll give you some lessons later today,” he promised, with a faintly wicked grin. “But I’ve got to have sustenance first. Are you hungry?”

“Very,” I replied truthfully.

“Good, because I’m starving. And I think I actually have breakfast food in the house. In fact, I know I do. Do you cook?” He raised an eyebrow at me hopefully.

I began laughing then. “Yeah, a bit. Do you?”

“Sort of. I suck at it, but I can scramble an egg with the best of ‘em.”

“You can be my sous-chef then,” I told him.

“That means I get to be under you, right?” he grinned rakishly, standing up and pulling gently at my hand.

“No, it means I get to be over you,” I replied with a raised eyebrow of my own as I stood next to him.

“I look forward to that vantage point,” he smirked. He put his hand on the small of my back to guide me back through the loft. He paused at the bathroom door and inquired, “Are you a brush-your-teeth-before-breakfast kind of girl, or a brush-afterward?”

“Well, that depends.”

“On what?”

“How soon you want me to kiss you.”

His hand promptly steered me to the left and through the bathroom doorway while I giggled in response.

“It just so happens that I have something for you,” he informed me. He pulled open the right-hand drawer under the sink and procured an oblong plastic package from its contents. With much pomp and circumstance, he bent the container along its perforation, pulling the top back to reveal the head of a bright pink toothbrush. He waggled his eyebrows as he pulled the brush from its plastic sleeve and presented it to me, a look of great expectation on his face, as though I should be swept away by his generosity.

“For me? You shouldn’t have,” I exclaimed, playing along. I knew that we were both thinking back to the evening he’d spent at my place.

“I didn’t. I just happened to have a spare,” he said with lofty nonchalance.

“Did you, now?” I narrowed my eyes as I looked up at him. “Nice try. You had this whole weekend planned, didn’t you?” I demanded.

His look of mock innocence was a thing of wonder. “Of course not. I bought this for myself. I just hadn’t opened it yet. And now I’m bequeathing it to you,” he beamed.

“’Bequeathing?’” I snorted. “Is this a scepter or something? I don’t see any crown jewels embedded in it… although it does sparkle,” I added as I studied the silver-flecked plastic handle. “Admit it, Edward Cullen. You had very specific plans for this weekend. The fully-stocked refrigerator, the candles everywhere, the spare toothbrush… you were hoping you’d lure me back here after the party last night.”

He hid his amusement behind narrowed eyes and pursed lips. “Has anyone ever told you that you have a suspicious mind, Ms. Swan?”

“Yes. You did, two weeks ago. And it’s a good thing, too, or I might’ve fallen for this innocent act of yours. You bought this hot-pink, ultra-girly toothbrush especially for me. And the Smithwick’s beer, because I mentioned at Billy’s a few weeks ago that it was my favorite. You wanted me to spend the night here. And maybe the next day, too,” I finished triumphantly.

His slow, crooked grin nearly knocked me off my feet. Good God, but he was gorgeous, smiling down at me like that.

“Are you unhappy that I seduced you and dragged you back to my lair, Miss Swan? Would you like me to take you home now?” Damn. How dare he unleash the Sex Voice on me before breakfast? The bastard didn’t play fair.

“Oh, no. You promised me breakfast. And your attempt at cooking is something I wouldn’t miss for the world.”

“I think I’m offended that you doubt my prowess in the kitchen,” he grumbled good-naturedly. “I am a culinary wizard with frozen waffles.”

My subsequent giggles subsided when he purposely brushed up against me in order to grab the toothpaste tube off the countertop. He unscrewed the cap and gestured for me to hold up my new toothbrush.

“Ladies first,” he said, squirting a glob of neon-blue gel onto my brush. Either there was something absurdly sexual about his actions, or I had just gone off the connotation deep end and everything he did reminded me of sex. I took one glance up into his mischievous eyes and I knew it wasn’t just me with a one-track mind.

Edward finally looked away long enough to ready his own toothbrush before re-capping the tube and turning on the faucet. He ran his brush under the water, then looked at me expectantly.

“Has it come to this already? We’re going to watch each other brush our teeth? There goes the romance,” I teased.

“Bella, I could watch you squeeze pimples and still be completely turned on. Not that you have any pimples,” he added quickly. And then, more appreciatively, “Your skin is beautiful. You’re beautiful. Now brush your teeth so I can kiss you.”

“Bossy,” I muttered as I reluctantly obeyed, trying to ignore the inevitable arousal that stirred between my legs when he began ordering me around. It was most disconcerting.

“On the contrary,” he argued in between brushing, his mouth oozing white froth. “If I had my way, I would have kissed you long before this. To hell with fresh breath. But I like to make you happy. So I’m brushing.” He grinned a toothpaste-filled smile at me in the mirror and I burst into laughter at the sight of it.

“Fine,” I relented, putting a lid on my self-consciousness and beginning to scrub my own teeth in earnest. We watched each other in the mirror and giggled like little kids at how silly we looked. Edward made goofy faces just to make me laugh harder until toothpaste dribbled down my face.

Suddenly he grabbed me and pulled me to him, his tongue lapping up the white bubbles from my chin until it reached my lips. He kissed me then, and our tongues swirled in minty, messy circles for a moment. But my irrepressible laughter soon turned to choking, and I had to turn away and spit the toothpaste into the sink. Edward wasn’t far behind, laughing and spitting along with me, and it suddenly struck me that this felt like one of the most intimate things we’d done together so far this weekend.

“Sorry, I couldn’t wait,” he mumbled in between gargling and grinning.

“That’s one of my favorite things about you,” I told him. I thought back to the dogged way he’d resisted this closeness; how long he’d made me wait before he so much as touched me outside the confines of therapist and patient. How different he was now that the dam had burst. I reveled in these unexpected waves of Edward’s affection spilling over me.

We eyed each other sideways as we took turns rinsing and spitting until our mouths were squeaky clean. Edward grabbed a hand towel off of the nearby rack and daintily dried my lips, then wiped the towel quickly over his own. I was still chuckling when his hand closed on the back of my neck and he dove in for another kiss, this one deep and undeniable. My mouth was only too happy to be invaded, launching a half-hearted counter offense; but my body surrendered entirely and sagged against Edward’s naked torso. My hands explored the warm flesh of his back, fingers slowly working over every hill and valley of the muscular topography. His arms tightened around me, lifting me off the ground as he kissed me hungrily.

Our kiss might have led us right back to the bedroom, were it not for hungers of a different nature. I soon heard, and felt, the unhappy grumble of Edward’s empty stomach pressed against mine, disrupting our kiss with its urgency. My laughter was sympathetic; Edward’s, rueful.

“Do you hear that? You wore me out last night,” he accused. “I’m gonna have to refuel before we start this up again.” He set me back down on the tiled floor and gave me a chaste peck on the lips, smoothing my tangled hair with a sigh before he released me.

I wore you out? As I recall, you were the one who was relentless,” I countered, trying to fight the warmth that crept into my cheeks at the memory.

Edward’s hands found the sides of my face and he frowned down at me. “Did I go too far last night?” he whispered, his voice laced with worry. “Tell me the truth.”

The truth was, I’d never felt so raw, so sexual, and so utterly, thrillingly alive. I shook my head in reassurance. “You went just far enough.”

His features smoothed in relief. “I don’t ever want to push you too far,” he said soberly.

“Don’t worry. If you do, I’ll push back.”

Edward’s answering grin was all I needed. “I’m counting on it.”

“All right, then. I’m pushing you into the kitchen now,” I announced, placing my palms against the soft skin of his stomach and gently shoving him back toward the bathroom doorway.

“Bossy Bella is back. You know how that turns me on.” He gave me a big, leering grin as he gamely stumbled backward through the doorway and into the living room.

“Well then, you ought to have blue balls by the time I’m done making you help me with breakfast.”

“Bossy and dirty-talking--you really know how to charm a guy.”

“I learned from the master,” I replied pointedly, giving him another shove in the pectorals. He let out a guilty chuckle as he let me guide him backward to the bar that separated the kitchen from the living area, then around its granite top to the refrigerator. I pushed him playfully aside and opened the door, perusing the contents to see what he’d stocked up on in preparation for my first morning at his place.

“Hmm. Eggs, milk, cheese…spinach, peppers and onions in the crisper,” I began. I opened the freezer door and continued my inventory: “Bacon, hash browns; oh, and whaddya know, frozen waffles. That’s amazing. You just happen to have all the ingredients to make omelets.”

“What are the odds?” Edward’s grin was so adorable that I wanted to forget breakfast and eat him instead. “So, do you make omelets?” he added uncertainly.

I practically snorted in response. “If you knew Charlie, you wouldn’t even ask such a question.”

Edward’s face twisted in a scowl. “Who’s Charlie? I thought you said your old boyfriend’s name was Mike.”

My snorts of laughter multiplied as I enjoyed Edward’s jealous pout. I finally gave in and admitted, “Charlie is my dad. My dad who lived on frozen pot pies and fried fish before I moved in with him. He was only too happy to let me take over the cooking duties, and his favorite thing in the world was omelets on the weekends. I can fold eggs in my sleep.”

Edward’s face relaxed into a grin again. “I’d like to meet your dad. Sounds like my kind of guy.”

I studied him for a moment, trying to imagining his bohemian good looks juxtaposed with those of my rugged, no-nonsense, mustachioed father. I wasn’t so sure Charlie would share Edward’s sentiment.

I turned back to the refrigerator and began withdrawing all the needed ingredients for our breakfast, hoping he would drop the issue. No such luck.

“Don’t you want me to meet your dad?” Edward asked, sounding mildly offended.

“Well, yeah, sure, someday,” I replied, temporarily burying my head in the freezer.

“You don’t think he’ll like me,” he accused.

“That’s not it,” I hedged as I closed the refrigerator door. I busied myself nosing around Edward’s cupboards in search of cooking utensils. He began opening the proper drawers and magically producing skillets, bowls, spatulas, tongs and a whisk. Apparently he knew more about cooking than he let on.

“Then what is it?” he pressed.

“Okay,” I sighed. “I don’t think you’re exactly Dad’s… type. But I’m sure he’ll eventually love you like I do.”

I emitted a tiny gasp when I realized what had just popped out of my mouth. My eyes were rounder than the frying pans on the countertop as I stared up at Edward, frozen. He didn’t looked shocked or even very surprised at my words. In fact, it appeared as if he were trying very hard to suppress a grin.

“It’s a good thing I’m not dating your dad, then,” he replied smoothly, one eyebrow cocked in acknowledgement. His face grew more serious as he bowed his head closer to mine. “I’ll consider myself lucky if he loves me half as much as I know my mom loves you.”

My insides wobbled like jell-o as if he had actually said those Three Little Words instead of dancing around them. It didn’t matter--I knew what he really meant.

“I’m pretty sure he will,” I answered. “In fact, I’m certain of it.” Edward knew what I meant, too. As always, our eyes spoke much more eloquently than our lips.

“Here,” he said at last, his gaze finally shifting to the raw vegetables piled on the nearby countertop. “These aren’t going to wash and dice themselves.” He quirked an eyebrow at me again before scooping them up and carrying them to the sink.

“I like a sous-chef who takes initiative,” I complimented him, a bit relieved that we were settling back into banter. If I was going to tell Edward I loved him, I really didn’t want to blurt it out in his kitchen the Morning After, face smeared with leftover eye make-up and hair looking like it had been styled with the egg beater on the counter in front of me.

“I aim to please,” he grinned over his shoulder before turning back to his work.

“And you’re damned good at it, too,” I muttered under my breath as I put a slab of frozen bacon in one of the frying pans and placed it on the stove.

“What’s that?” Edward called over the sound of running water and bacon fat sizzling.

“Nothing,” I replied innocently. I turned my attention to preparing the eggs, cracking five of them into a mixing bowl and measuring out five tablespoons of milk. I whisked them into a froth while Edward meticulously chopped the vegetables with a butcher knife that could have carved a side of beef with ease.

“How’s this?” he queried at last, brandishing his cutting board of crudités chopped into symmetrical little squares.

“That’s perfect,” I replied. I bit my tongue before I added, “like everything else you do.”

Edward beamed like I’d just told him he was going to be the next Food Network Star. He watched with fascination as I readied two more frying pans with a dollop of butter, then began separating the bacon with a pair of tongs.

“Are you going to make waffles?” I asked him, hoping he would stop hovering over me like a hawk eyeing its prey.

“Of course,” he replied. He yanked open a nearby cabinet door and pulled out a cookie sheet. “I’ll even put them in the oven this time instead of the toaster.”

“Impressive,” I encouraged him with a laugh.

I kept Edward busy with the waffles, then making coffee and getting out plates and silverware for us; but he was back at my side minutes later, peering over my shoulder as I began frying the hash browns and turned the bacon.

“You act like you’ve never seen anyone cook before,” I commented, trying not to sound annoyed. I never realized I was one of those cooks who preferred to be undisturbed until now.

“I never cared to watch anyone cook before. But I like watching you. I’d watch you do anything. Or nothing. Doesn’t really matter.”

I sighed in defeat as I looked up into those penetrating eyes of his, giving me a look so unnerving that I was ready to let the breakfast burn while I humped him on the kitchen floor instead.

“Edward, you can’t say those things to me right now, and stand so close to me, all shirtless and sexy and irresistible. Not if you want any sort of edible breakfast.”

He grinned wickedly before letting out an exasperated sigh. “Fine. Make me an omelet, Ms. Swan. I’ll watch your equally sexy and irresistible self from over here. But you are sadly lacking in the shirtless department.”

I silently pointed a spatula at him with a warning look before turning back to the food.

He seated himself on a bar stool several feet away, but I could still feel his eyes on me. I was as hyperaware of his gaze now as I had been the day we met. Maybe even more so, now that he had such intimate knowledge of what lay beneath the thin layers of borrowed clothing covering my body.

He remained quiet as I continued to flip the frying bacon and hash browns, then pour the majority of the egg mixture into the last pan. When I glanced back at him, he was studying me intently. I worked the edges of the solidifying eggs with a spatula, then folded a generous helping of veggies and grated cheese into them at the last minute. I threw in a few spices from Edward’s meager assortment, then sprinkled more cheese on top for good measure. I carried the skillet to the bar and gently scooped the omelet onto Edward’s plate while he watched me with eager eyes.

“Amazing,” he said. “That looks so good.”

“Well, hopefully it tastes good, too,” I smiled. I drained some bacon briefly on a paper towel before adding it to Edward’s plate, along with the hash browns. He looked like a kid on Christmas morning, and I had to chuckle a little at the sight. I wondered if any of his other girlfriends had ever cooked for him. He certainly acted as if I was the first.

I checked the oven to make sure the waffles were sufficiently browned before serving them up as well. I stole a separate plate for them from the cupboard so the syrup wouldn’t get all over the rest of Edward’s breakfast.

“Oh shit, I forgot the waffles!” he exclaimed. “I was too busy admiring the artistry of your omelet-making technique.”

“Is that so?” I said with a roll of my eyes. “What my sous-chef lacks in follow-through, he more than makes up for in flattery.”

“Baby, I’ll make it up to you with a lot more than flattery,” he promised with an eyebrow waggle at me before his attention went right back to his plate. “Now sit down with me so we can eat.”

“No, you go ahead. I need to make my omelet, but it’ll only take a minute or two. I heard your stomach earlier. Eat it while it’s hot.”

He frowned at me, but then dug in. He was soon making ecstatic noises not unlike the ones he’d made last night, which pleased me greatly.

“Oh, my God,” Edward exclaimed in between hearty mouthfuls. “This is delicious. Out of this world.”

“Good. I’m glad,” I answered with a self-satisfied grin as I quickly whipped up an omelet of my own. Edward had half of his plate emptied by the time I sat down next to him at the bar.

“You are an excellent cook,” he raved, giving me a gentle nudge with his elbow. “I could get used to this. No wonder this was your dad’s favorite.”

I could feel my cheeks color as I poured maple syrup on the waffles. I took a bite and returned the compliments. “The waffles are fantastic, too. You outdid yourself, I must say.”

“I’m amazed that the oven did me such a favor, since I rarely use it. But the toaster and I are like this.” He crossed his first two fingers into a good-luck sign. “Me and the toaster are tight.”

“Well then, you’ll have to toast the waffles for me next time. I can’t wait to see the two of you at work, since you make such a formidable team.”

“Nah, that’s you and me.” He eyed me meaningfully before grinning and shoveling in another forkful of eggs. I thought he was going to make my bashful smile a permanent fixture, until he made it fall agape with his next comment.

“Damn. I’m going to have to marry you so you can make me breakfast like this every day.”

I let out an abrupt laugh that was equal parts elation, shock and indignation. How dare he throw around the “M” word like that when he hadn’t even truly said the “L” word yet?

I decided to let indignation reign for the moment. “So marriage equals indentured servitude in your book? Good thing I’m finding this out now.”

“I wouldn’t force you to make me breakfast. I’d just beg and plead until you got tired of listening to me. Or I’d offer other services in exchange.” His grin was wicked and irrepressible. It drove me crazy.

“Such as?”

“Free massages…guitar lessons… whatever your heart desires.”

“Ooh. I think I’d be getting the better end of the deal there,” I insisted. “You have no idea how much I miss your massages,” I added with a sigh.

“Yes, I do,” he contradicted me quietly. His expression told me he missed them as much as I did.

“I still don’t understand why you can’t treat me instead of Kate,” I complained.

“Don’t you like her? She’s quite good.”

“She’s very good. But she’s not you.”

Edward couldn’t fight the slightly smug look that stole across his face. “Tell you what. I’ll check you out later and see how you’re coming along. I want you to keep improving. If she’s not getting the job done, I will.”

I tiny shiver danced down my spine at the willful tone of his comment.

“So I get a free massage today?” I was the one who felt like a kid on Christmas morning now.

“You know I can’t deny you anything,” he said. He leaned over and kissed my cheek tenderly, one hand twirling a lock of my hair before picking up his fork again.

“And you’re going to give me guitar lessons, too?” I wasn’t sure why I felt the need to pin him down to his promises. If he came through, this could turn out to be the second-best day of my life, after yesterday.

“Of course, I will. I love that you’re willing to try again, after all you’ve been through. And that you’d let me teach you,” he added softly.

“Let you? I’d be honored to have you as a teacher.” I took a sip of my coffee, then a deep breath. “Maybe I’ve just been waiting for the right time… the right person… to come along and inspire me again.”

His eyes were almost pained as they searched mine. “It’s been a long time since I was anyone’s inspiration. A positive inspiration, anyway.”

I frowned at the thought of Edward ever being a negative influence on anyone. I couldn’t imagine such a scenario.

“Anyway, I look forward to it,” he smiled, setting down his fork and giving my hair another stroke. “We can get started right away, if you want.”

“Okay,” I agreed, my heart leaping a bit at the thought of really doing this again--making music. And with Edward, no less.

“But I’d kind of like to take a shower first,” he added as he shoved his plate away.

“God, me too,” I moaned. “I think you’ve officially seen me at my worst now-- raccoon eyes and bed-head.” I pointed ruefully up at the rat’s nest falling all around my face.

“I love you with bed-head. You know that,” Edward said. My eyes darted to his, studying him to see if he had blurted the “L” word without thinking, or if it was deliberate. The twinkle in his eyes gave me my answer.

“You know what else I’d love?” he continued, his voice taking on that low, velvety quality that never ceased to melt me on the spot.

“What’s that?” I managed to squeak.

“I’d love you in my shower with me.”

My heart began its now-familiar gallop at the prospect of being close to Edward again, in a whole new way. Mental images of him naked, soapy and wet turned the gallop into a sprint.

“I’d love that too,” I murmured, my eyes surely mirroring the smoldering look he was giving me.

Finally Edward let his gaze fall to the plates in front of us. He got up from his stool, gathered all of our dirty dishes and carried them to the sink.

“Let me help,” I insisted as I hopped off my bar stool and followed him.

“Forget it. I’ll do the dishes later. The chef gets a free pass on clean-up,” he smiled.

“In that case, I will cook for you more often.”

“That’s what I like to hear,” he grinned triumphantly. He took my hand and pulled me toward the living room. He stopped short at the sight of our clothes strewn everywhere, looking rather sad and neglected in the harsh, albeit overcast, light of day.

“Oh, wow. I’m sorry about your dress,” Edward apologized as we approached the wrinkled pile. He let go of my hand and picked up the garment, gently shaking it out and looking it over. Its wrinkle-resistant jersey knit had fared pretty well after a night on the glossy hardwood.

“I’m the one who dropped it on the floor.” I reminded him. I could feel my cheeks redden at the memory, for no good reason. What use was it to be embarrassed now?

“But I told you to,” he said guiltily.

“Not true. At no time did the words ‘throw your dress on the floor’ leave your lips.” I bent down and retrieved his pants, giving them a brisk shake before folding them along their pressed seams.

“You are far too forgiving,” he insisted. He picked up the torn scrap that used to be my panties and waved them at me as evidence.

“Edward,” I said adamantly. “You didn’t do anything last night that I didn’t want you to.”

My favorite slow grin made its appearance. “I know,” he said.

He gestured to the bedroom, saying he was going to hang up my dress. I picked up my discarded shoes and followed him. I hung his trousers on a hanger next to my dress in his closet. It gave me a strange thrill to see my small, feminine piece of clothing sandwiched amongst his wardrobe of masculine shirts and pants. His closet smelled like heaven. I hoped my dress would absorb his wonderful scent.

Edward’s brows furrowed for a moment; then he abruptly began chuckling.

“What is it?” I asked.

“I just remembered what happened to my shirt last night,” he winked. “I’ll be right back.”

I took the opportunity to use the bathroom quickly while he was retrieving his dress shirt from the music room couch. When I returned to his bedroom, he was tossing the crumpled piece of fabric into a clothes hamper. The shirt was creased nearly beyond recognition. It must have gotten stuffed down into the sofa cushions, because I didn’t even remember seeing it when I sat down for my stolen moment with Edward’s guitar earlier.

“Oh no,” I groaned at the sight of it. “See? I’m as guilty as you of destroying personal property.”

He only laughed. “It’s salvageable, unlike your panties, I’m afraid.”

“I don’t suppose that while you were planning this weekend seduction, you happened to pick me up a spare pair of underpants?”

Edward let out a derisive snort. “Hell, no. If I had my way, you’d never have underwear on. In fact, I might declare the loft as a panty-free zone. And definitely bra-free.” He leered down at my diminutive nipples, which happened to be pointing up at him again from beneath the worn cotton of his t-shirt.

“Why stop there?” I retorted. “Why don’t I just parade around naked for you all day?”

“Oh, don’t tease me like that. That’s just cruel.”

“Of course, if I have to be naked, so do you.”

“I can definitely rise to that challenge,” he grinned.

“I’ll bet you can.” I barely got the words out before he smothered my mouth with a kiss. He lifted me off the floor; my arms and legs quickly wrapped themselves around him, now accustomed to accommodating his body.

He carried me to the bathroom, kissing me in between bursts of laughter as he tried to finagle his way through the doorways without dropping me or whacking my limbs on the door frames. I was still giggling as he set me down, but it halted quickly when he yanked the clothes from my body with two quick, decisive motions. His own sweatpants were around his ankles in seconds, his lengthening dick already beginning to point in my direction.

He moved away long enough to step into the shower and turn the water on to just the right temperature before pulling me inside. And then his arms were around me again, twirling me in and out of the water as he kissed me.

He finally relaxed his grip so that I could sweep the wet hair out of my eyes. I could feel his hungry gaze on me as I leaned my head back, eyes closed, and drenched my hair under the shower head. I returned the favor when he did the same.

His shower was large and lined with some kind of smooth stone-like tile. There was a bench big enough to sit on and various rails to hang onto. My mind began to enumerate the many types of sex that could be had in such a space.

Edward’s mind was obviously on the same track. He nuzzled my neck and ran his hands down my body, finally gingerly reaching his fingers between my thighs. “Are you sore today?” he asked.

“A little,” I admitted as he stroked the tender flesh. He removed his fingers and kissed me on the temple.

“I’ll take it easy on you, then,” he said sweetly.

I sighed with a bit of disappointment. “What about you?” I asked, letting my fingers wander over him before wrapping around his growing erection. “Did I chafe you to death last night?”

He only chuckled. “I’ll survive. Chafe away.”

I stroked him some more, marveling at the mechanics of the male penis. Its sizeable metamorphosis never ceases to amaze me.

“Where’s your soap?” I asked, looking around. He had some masculine-named brand of shower gel and a black nylon loofah in a caddy full of accoutrements on the bench. I squeezed a dollop of gel onto the loofah and began to rub Edward’s chest with it until it made a soapy lather. I then thoroughly and methodically washed him, head to toe.

He made soft sighing sounds as I worked. I silently studied and memorized every part of his anatomy, every hair and freckle and mole, as my hands and loofah explored while they cleansed. He groaned when I reached his genitals. I ditched the nylon scrubber for a moment and stroked him with soapy hands, reaching every nook and cranny between his legs and buttocks until his erection was nearly complete. I moved blithely down his legs after that, finishing with his feet. He obligingly lifted them one by one as I worked the loofah between his toes and scrubbed the slightly calloused bottoms of his feet.

His eyes were heavy with desire as I stood and pushed him under the shower head to rinse the soap from his body.

“You take good care of me,” he whispered, his hands cradling my face for a moment.

“You do the same for me,” I replied. My eyes roamed down his body, settling over his hard-on again. “I just want to try one thing,” I said.

His eyes were curious as I trailed my hand across his abdomen and over his hip, then walked behind him. I ran my hands down the sinews of his back and over the sculpted pale flesh of his backside. I sank to my knees and took in the view of his ass, admiring the look and feel of those two firm scoops of flesh in my hands. No wonder he loved doing this to me. I wanted to return the same pleasure he’d given me.

I kissed and gently bit at the smooth skin of his cheeks; he sighed and put his hand against the shower wall to steady himself. I slowly spread him open and ran my tongue along his sensitive skin, down to the apex of his perineum and his scrotum; then I gently sucked at his testicles until he groaned at the sensation.

I stroked him with one hand then, reaching between his legs to the tip of his throbbing erection and back again. The other hand pulled at one cheek so that I could reach him with my mouth, kissing and licking and tonguing every sensitive part of him I could, including the tight, round flesh of his anus. I was surprised that I was not only willing, but even eager to taste him this way. No part of Edward was repellant to me. When he cursed and his breathing quickened with pleasure, it was all the reward I needed.

“Turn around,” I ordered, just loud enough for him to hear over the running water. He obeyed at once, leaning back against the shower wall to brace himself. I took him between my lips immediately, my hands stroking his body up and down in matching rhythm as I sucked him in and out of my mouth.

“Holy fuck, Bella,” he sighed, his eyes dark with lust as they watched me at work. I massaged and stroked him with my hands, tongue and lips until every breath that left his lungs was a gasp or groan. He reached one hand out to grip my face, then clutch a wet hank of hair as he came closer and closer to his release.

“I love making you come,” I told him, repeating his earlier sentiment to me. I swirled and pumped the head of his swollen cock rapidly in my fist until his face contorted in ecstasy. He exploded moments later, the warm and creamy liquid splattering my face and neck. I quickly wrapped my mouth around him and sucked him clean as he collapsed against the wall, panting. I felt almost as high as if I had climaxed myself. Having the power to bring him to the brink of sexual rapture, then push him over the edge, was the most exhilarating feeling in the world.

He pulled me to my feet and under the water, washing the evidence of his orgasm from my face. He kissed me over and over, murmuring, “Why is it so good with you? So fucking good…” his words were muffled in my neck then as his lips worked their way south. He finally stopped at the hollow of my throat and announced, “Your turn.”

My skin danced with anticipation as Edward readied the loofah with more soap and came at me with a purposeful grin. My sighs matched those of his earlier as he took his time washing me, examining every pore of my body as I had just done to him. My nerves felt as if their raw ends were exposed to every brush of the body sponge and stroke of his fingers behind it. I was practically pulsating with need by the time he reached the nexus of my hip and thigh, working my well-known ticklish spots with his thumbs until I whimpered aloud.

Of course, he didn’t stop there. He worked the nylon gently between my legs, then replaced it with his fingers as he soaped me up as thoroughly as I had him. I was halfway to orgasm by the time he stopped and moved down my legs, finishing with a complete scrub of my feet, just as I had done for him.

He pulled me under the water and we both watched as the suds rolled off my body and down the drain. Then he wrapped his arms around me and whispered in my ear.

“I think you can come for me without any penetration, can’t you?” It wasn’t a question. It was a directive.

And then he was on his knees before me, and I was the one reaching back for the shower wall behind me. He tongued and fingered the length of my clitoris, gently probing my opening without actually entering. I could feel the blood rushing to my groin, my nerves now crying for mercy as he continued to tickle and stroke them with his tongue and fingers.

I gasped in surprise as he lifted my right leg and let it rest on his shoulder, opening me up to further stimulation from his mouth and hands. I trembled and clutched the wall behind me as his ministrations became rougher and more frantic against my clit.

“God, yes,” I blurted, astonished at how much my words sounded like an animal’s growl. His answering growl only drove me crazier, his breath hot on my throbbing flesh as he ceaselessly worked me into a frenzy.

I came so hard and fast that I cried out and dug my fingers into Edward’s shoulder, my vaginal muscles contracting in wave after wave of inner euphoria as Edward continued to stimulate the outside. His power over my sexual fulfillment stunned me even more than whatever power I had over him. He kissed and stroked me back into a semblance of calm after the quaking of my muscles finally subsided. My fingers wound through the wet curls of his hair as I drank in the unimaginable beauty of him kneeling before me, gently kissing and caressing my body.

I love you, Edward.

I could feel it bubbling to the surface, ready to break free. I could no longer contain it. But before the words could escape, Edward was on his feet again, pulling me to him and smothering the sentiment with a deep, soulful kiss. Our communion was wordless once again, and I only sighed in a contentment the likes of which I never thought I’d find.

We shampooed and rinsed each other’s hair; Edward contemplated taking a razor to his growing beard.

“You hate shaving,” I reminded him as I stroked his scruff. “And I kind of like your stubble. It’s getting long enough that it’s not so scratchy.”

“How about I shave you instead?” he offered.

I watched with fascination as he coated my legs in shave gel from the caddy, then ruined a perfectly good face razor on my legs. I had to concentrate on quelling the goose bumps that his touch invariably produced, so that I wouldn’t end up with razor burn everywhere. He even carefully shaved my underarms when he was through. Once again I was struck by the feeling that this act seemed somehow as intimate as the sex we had just shared.

We were quiet, perhaps a bit spent, as we toweled each other dry. Edward wrapped my hair into a turban atop my head, and I giggled when I caught a glimpse of it in the mirror. Dressed in our bath towels, we made our way back to his bedroom, where he told me to choose whatever I wanted to wear. He gamely let me comb through his dresser drawers, fingering his endless supply of worn tees, shorts and sweatpants. I chose a Jimi Hendrix shirt and sweats, hoping that the guitar muse would wear off on me during my impending lesson. Edward smiled at my selection, like he knew what I was thinking. We were getting better at reading each other’s minds, it seemed.

I went to the living room to find my purse and retrieve the small hairbrush I had inside. I checked my phone and saw that I’d received several text messages, all from Angela, wondering where I was and demanding that I let her know I was okay. I guiltily typed a quick message to fill her in, then hit “send.” I had been so swept up in Edward’s world that I’d forgotten to check in on my own. Soon, I hoped, those worlds would be one and the same.

Edward appeared then, heading for the kitchen to get another cup of coffee.

“You want one?” he asked as he added a little cream and sugar to his cup.

“No thanks,” I answered, already feeling a little uneasy about picking up the guitar again, especially in front of Edward. I was sure to feel clumsy and foolish, no matter how understanding he was. I didn’t need any more caffeine working on my nerves.

“Are you ready?” His eyes told me that it was okay if I wasn’t. And because of that, I was.

After I towel-dried and brushed my damp hair, Edward led me back to the music room, stopping in front of the guitars lined up along the wall. He proceeded to move down the row of cases, opening them one by one so I could inspect them. I remembered the Gibson Dove vividly from the first night I’d ever seen him play. Sandwiched between it and the Martin were a Washburn 12-string acoustic and two classic electrics, a Fender Stratocaster sunburst and a gorgeous Les Paul Custom.

“So which do you want to learn on?” he asked.

“Wow,” I answered dumbly, overwhelmed by my choices. “The Strat or Les Paul would be the easiest on my fingers,” I joked of the electrics. “But I’d be scared to touch them! The 12-string would kill my fingers. I think I’ll try the Martin again.”

“Good choice,” he agreed, pulling it out of its case and handing it to me. He reached for the Dove again, put the strap around his neck and began tuning it. I sat down on the couch and briefly checked the tuning of the Martin, which still seemed to be fine, or at least good enough for my purposes. Edward seated himself next to me, turning his body toward mine as he tightened a couple of pegs and pulled the strings back in tune.

“Where to start…?” he mused with a smile as he began strumming a basic G chord and its various permutations.

I couldn’t stand it anymore. “Play the song you wrote me again,” I blurted hopefully.

Edward’s cheeks reddened slightly, and I loved that for once he was the bashful one. But he did as I asked, and I lost myself once more in the beautiful, haunted words and his equally affecting delivery of them. I was near tears again by the time he finished.

I held them back this time, though, determined to be more than just a bystander in such an amazing musical expression.

“Teach it to me,” I begged him softly when the last chords faded into silence.

And so, he did.

I lost all track of time as Edward patiently walked me through the chords and showed me the proper finger placement to achieve them. He gave me tips on holding the guitar pick and finding the rhythm in my strumming arm, and he even taught me a little finger picking in between. We played until my fingers were sore, and I didn’t care. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been this absorbed in learning something, or so eager to get it right. I refused to rest until I was able to strum along with Edward, however haltingly, as he played a slowed-down version of his entire Bella Notte. He sang along softly, pausing patiently whenever I needed a moment to catch up. I played along doggedly until I had successfully labored through both verses and choruses and actually completed the song with him.

We stared at each other in silence as the last chords faded. Edward’s smile was enormous, full of pride and joy at my accomplishment.

I took one look at it and burst into tears.

“Bella!” he said in quiet exclamation, putting down his instrument and pulling the Martin off of my lap. He put his arms protectively around me and wiped my tears with his thumb. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” I sniveled. “I’m just so happy. I’m so….” I shook my head, unable to explain. He had no way of knowing just how big this was for me. How tangled up the strings of a guitar had become in the horror of what happened to you, Mom. I couldn’t seem to form the words to tell him. I tried to blink back the tears before the emotional dam broke entirely.

“There are certain things I thought I’d never get past,” I said at last. “I never thought I could pick up a guitar again. Never thought I’d play a whole song. But you changed all that. You….” I trailed off, at a loss again as I stared into his expectant face. “You have no idea what you’ve done for me, Edward.” I threw my arms around him and buried my face in the warm scruff of his neck while I cried anew.

He rocked me gently and stroked my hair, almost as if he were soothing a child. “I’m happy I could return the favor,” he murmured. “You’re the best thing to come into my life in such a long time. The best thing to come into my life, ever.”

He pulled away from me slightly, his hands on either side of my face as his watery blue-green eyes swallowed mine. He took a deep breath, and then, in a reverent whisper, he said the words.

“I love you, Bella Swan.”

Oh, God. Oh God oh God oh God. There it was. My heart swelled so full that there was nothing I could do except let the emotion spill over. A fresh fountain of tears streamed down my cheeks as my hands grasped his face.

“I love you, too, Edward. So much. So much.”

I kissed him then, and his mouth was as hungry and desperate as mine. Our clothes melted away under the frenzied heat of our grasping hands. He pulled me onto his lap; I spread myself open to take him in. Deep, deeper; nowhere near deep enough. We moved together like dancers, in the slow and sensual rhythm of love. Our thirsty eyes could not get enough of each other; our lips and fingertips could not taste and touch enough. We moved in perfect time together, never quite separating before joining again. Our hips strained to do more than just meet; they ached and yearned to become one being, forged together through his sex in mine. I had never felt less self-conscious in my life as I writhed and undulated over and around Edward with complete abandon. I was conscious only of the feel of him inside me and beneath me and all around me, becoming one with me. Even as our movements intensified and quickened, our bodies straining with passion and need, there was an undeniable beauty to our primal union. We had found where we belonged. And as we reached our pinnacle of sobbing, gasping ecstasy, we were complete.

I don’t know how long we sat on the couch afterward, still joined together, inseparable. All I knew was that I had finally let go of the past. There was no more room for it between the two of us. I could feel it recede into the background like the darkness dissipates in the dawn’s light. I knew you would not begrudge my letting go. I hung onto the promise of this day, and the next, and the next, as I clung to Edward and stared into the face of my future.

I was wrong. Today was the best day of my life.

(P.S. Blogger hasn't been letting me answer the comments on my posts! So let me just say, thank you to my sweeties who have left me comments.  They mean the world to me!  *smooches* :)

1 comment:

  1. One word: beautiful. Wow, you've really outdone yourself! So much goodness in these past few chapters... and the I love yous, just beautiful! I guess the next step for Edward would be telling Bella about Tanya, should be interesting!

    Until next chapter! *hugs*