"It feels weird being divorced, doesn't it?"
That word, mercilessly catapulted from his lips, ricochets off the marble walls in the stairway like a bullet. And when the projectile finally hits it really hurts.Divorced!
It's official; we signed the papers this morning. Why does it sting so much to hear him say it out loud? Why now, after months (years?) of acquainting myself with the idea of getting... divorced?
I don't need to look up at him. I can tell from the oh so familiar sound of his voice that he's going to apologize for the umpteenth time, and I know I can't stand it. I just can't.
"I'm ok. It just does feel weird, you're right." There's no way the smile I'm forcing onto my face reaches my eyes. It's just sad, but he buys it anyway; like he used to do... always. That is even sadder, and I want to cry. Like fucking now. Of course I don't.
"Friends, right? Bells?"
I pull him into a hug, that brother-sister kind of hug we have made a habit of.
"Friends for ever, promise!" I want to cry. Badly.
"I love you, baby." He kisses the top of my head, and it's like I'm slowly coming apart, disintegrating into my atomic components. It feels unreal. He lets go of me and takes a step back. "I want to thank you, you know... for everything. I know I gave you a hard time. You deserve so much better, and-"
I quickly cut in before I lose my shit completely, "It's ok. I'm ok."
I will cry later.
"Just... thank you." His voice is barely above a whisper. The uncomfortable silence that follows is something new between us, and suddenly all I can think of is that I want him to go, so this torture will come to an end. Finally he speaks again, "You sure about the car?"
No I'm not sure about the car or the house or you and me or anything just take it and leave so I can finally crash and mourn the loss of my marriage and my best friend and any idea of what to do with my life without you...
"Yes, I am. We've been over that a hundred times. I really don't need a car, but you do."
I shrug, grimacing in an attempt to muster another assuring smile. His answering smile is genuine; he believes me so easily. The tiny nutshell he lives in rearranges itself to his liking; in his own little world, everything is in perfect order again. And I envy him. Jake's never been troubled too long by anything, always the happy-go-lucky guy. It's not his fault. I just wish I was even half as oblivious to the unfortunate aspects of life as he is; it must be a blessing. I just wish I wasn't so goddamned scared.
He clears his throat. "Seth is waiting, so..."
Oh yes, my cue! One last hug, one last kiss on the cheek, one last 'we'll stay in touch'. Then he grabs his bags and walks away. He doesn't look back. He walks out on me, and I'm alone.
I've been here before, so they tell me. As if I needed anyone to remind me. I remember all these places. Every street corner, every house, every store front window that has flickered by in the last whatever timespan... hours? Minutes? Guess I zoned out again. I do that every once in a while. But I never forget anything, don't they know that? Even if I wanted to, I couldn't forget a thing. My memory doesn't fade or blur; pictures remain sharp and clear. Which means, separating past from present is sometimes not without difficulty. It's a matter of training.
The cab driver starts to slow down, and the stream of images decelerates too. We're almost there. When the car comes to a halt, I lean my forehead against the window and close my eyes. In that fraction of a second before my lids shut I notice that the laundry shop that used to be in the basement of the... my... our... house has been replaced by an internet coffee shop. The formerly brown stone walls are painted in a wanton strawberry red, covering the bricks and the joints all the same. The name is 'Plug Inn'. In huge white letters.
All this is now imprinted in my memory too. Forever. My mind automatically superimposes the new image onto the old one. I switch back and forth between the two a few times, out of habit and because it is kind of fun, given that my mental red coffee shop still smells of laundry. I need to correct that. Or not. Who cares? However, when I get out of the car, the strong, pleasant smell of coffee hits me immediately. So I take a whiff, assign it to the matching memory layer and file it away. For good order's sake.
Esme is still talking. I have no idea what she's saying, I deliberately don't pay attention to the words; but the constant presence of her voice gives me a warm feeling... an emotional flicker from my childhood that washes up uncalled, from deep down. She's been talking all the way from the airport, most likely filling the defenseless cab driver in on my extraordinary life. He should know it all by now...
...all about the silent and way too earnest 10-year-old foster kid, allegedly mentally challenged and a lost cause. All about the long adoption process and how the supposedly slow boy not only learned to master a language, but turned out to be highly gifted. All about boarding schools and special education programs and scholarships and advancement awards. And all about Esme's brimming joy to have me back for a while, her perfect son.
She is proud of me, so she says. I have trouble relating to her concept of pride or her love, for that matter, but it makes her happy. And I am supposed to make her happy; I believe it is my part of the whole adoption deal. Considering everything she and Carlisle have done for me, the least I can do is try to make them happy. And much to my own astonishment, I've done a decent job so far. Well, they' don't ask for much.
The cab guy looks somewhat tortured but is still listening politely to Esme while he opens the trunk and retrieves my luggage. Doesn't want to jeopardize his tip, I guess. The quick glance he throws me isn't friendly though. I'm quite familiar with that reaction and understand the concept behind it; like most people he thinks I'm arrogant.
Wrong answer, dude. It's called autism.
Who knew the world would just keep spinning as if nothing had happened? Well, it does. Apparently, the fact that Bella Swan, former Mrs. Black, is sitting on the fragments of her shattered life isn't as big a deal as I thought. Not even for Bella Swan herself which is almost disappointing. Maybe I'm just not that much of a drama queen.
Ok, I cried. Boy, did I cry! But it's been six days now since Jake left me to start a new life, and the crying stopped on day two. Just like that. I went totally numb.
On day three my ability to feel something came back in the shape of a full blown anxiety attack, and I ended up a shaking and sobbing mess on the floor. When I was finally able to suck in some oxygen again, I decided to adopt a cat as soon as possible, because I just couldn't stand coming home to an empty apartment every day.
On day four I visited the local animal shelter. It was devastating. All those abandoned cats in their tiny boxes – I wanted to take all of them home with me, and in the end I couldn't decide which one to rescue from this sadness. They all looked lonely, forlorn, they looked... divorced. I ran from that place like a hunted deer.
On the fifth day I received a text message from Jake, informing me in fractured English that he and Seth had settled in well and already found new friends. Also, he finally had his coming out and has never been happier. He said he loves me and hopes I'll soon find that special someone who deserves me.
I pressed 'reply' and then I stared at the blinking cursor on my mobile display for a long time, not knowing what to answer. I really wanted to be happy for him, but instead I felt anger welling up. He didn't even ask me how I was feeling; he just told me he was happier than ever. Happier than he was with me, that is. Of course...
I was so stupid. I had always taken our marriage seriously, in spite of everything. And I loved him, I really did. Jake and I had been friends from our sandbox days, and everybody expected us to marry one day. It just seemed to be the right thing. But it wasn't.
So stupid, so damned stupid!
I was getting angrier by the minute. Five years! Five years of being his goddamn cover. Five years of nothing more than brotherly hugs and kisses – not counting the occasional blow job he agreed to endure. Five years of keeping the secret from everybody, five years of pretending, five years of hoping... yeah right, as if there's something like temporary homosexuality.
I didn't text him back.
And here I am, day six. Still kind of mad... at myself. But when I looked at my reflection in the mirror this morning, I couldn't help but laugh. Bella Swan –divorced, 25-year-old virgin. This is ridiculous, right? And the world is still spinning, which means, I should leave the house and do some grocery shopping. I've lost weight lately, and I can't remember if I have eaten anything at all during the last few days, to be honest. Yeah, I should eat something. Time to move on.
As I leave my apartment, I almost bump into Esme Cullen. We both burst into laughter, holding on to each other for balance. Other than my lonely, mirthless snort in the bathroom a few minutes ago, this feels good. I realize that I miss laughing with someone.
"I'm sorry, darling, I'm in a hurry – I'm going to pick up Edward from the airport now, I'm so happy. My baby is coming home!" She's glowing with excitement.
"Oh, it's today? That's wonderful, Esme."
I remember the sweet boy well. I used to babysit for the Cullens when I was seventeen. Edward was a special child, I think he was autistic? Yes, that was it. He rarely spoke, he preferred to communicate through touching. It was cute... all the stroking, patting and hugging. My teenage self felt very special back then, knowing he didn't touch just everyone, not even Carlisle, just me and Esme. He was also scared in the dark. Sometimes I stayed at his bedside, holding his hand until he fell asleep; he just refused to let go. Carlisle used to drive me home on those days. Later Edward was sent to a special boarding school, my job ended and I never saw him again.
The Cullens have always been very gracious and generous to me, even after Edward was gone. I guess it was because the kid wouldn't accept any other baby sitter; he was a stubborn child. He had those small cards he used to carry with him, and on one of them was my face and my name. Whenever he was introduced to a new nanny, he would just keep on pointing at that card and shake his head, so I was told.
Esme and Carlisle own this building, and when Jake and I married, they offered us an apartment for a ridiculously low rent. I am still grateful for that, more than ever actually, given I can still afford it now that I'm alone.
"I know, right?" Esme beams at me, "I just gave his place the finishing touches, stored the fridge, put some flowers on the table... the piano tuner was here yesterday. Everything is prepared. Oh, and he will be delighted to meet you again, I'm sure!"
"You think so? I don't know... it's been a long time, Esme."
Eight years. How old is he now, seventeen? Eighteen? I wonder if he's speaking more often now. The times of touching and cuddling are probably over. I snicker quietly at the thought of a six-dot-something foot boy on my lap.
"Of course! Edward never forgets a thing, and you know you were special to him, don't you? Oh, there's my cab. See you later, Bella..."
Well, at least I was special to someone... at some point. As I watch the cab drive away, I make a mental note to include a jar of peanut butter in my shopping list. Little Edward loved peanut butter back then. Maybe he still does. And since the boy will be my neighbor for a while...
I smile to myself at the prospect. This is a welcome distraction, and I sure as hell need one.
Esme is looking up at me, and though the cab is gone, she's still talking. Obviously she's talking to me now. She reaches out and gently squeezes my upper arm, just like she always did when I was a child. It's her signal to let me know that she's going to say something important and that I need to zone in and listen. With regret, I snap out of my comfortable semi-trance and open up to the meaning of her words. She's talking about someone who lives here, someone I'm obviously supposed to know. Bella Black?
That name isn't in my memory. So I tilt my head and raise one eyebrow. When I was a kid, this used to be enough to make her elaborate things or answer my unspoken questions. Not anymore apparently; she just keeps on talking. I would correct her and tell her there's no way I know Bella Black, but it's probably not worth the effort. I avoid speaking if possible. So I pick up my bags and follow her inside. A young woman steps out of one of the apartments and smiles at me and Esme.
Deep down at the bottom of my mind, something begins to stir. It's the place where I have stored away everything I don't want to look at. All the useless baggage that makes it hard to function; distracting things. Some painful things too. Each of them in a tiny lock-up of its own, in my dungeon of oblivion. One of these buried memories is rattling in its capsule at the sight of this woman. I'm willing it back into silence, back into the darkness. Things down there are locked away for a reason; I won't go there. No trespassing!
I focus on the conversation between Esme and... yes, this is Bella Black, and I don't know her. But my hands get all sweaty – maybe I do know her? I'm not so sure anymore. I hate missing links; they give me nausea. I like things structured. I like order. I make a quick inventory of names by different criteria; first names, last names, alphabetically, number of letters, sound. But there's not even a Bella by any other last name. Unless she's locked away down there? No trespassing.
My carefully adapted social skills seem to have dissolved into thin air, I need help. I try to make eye contact with Esme to figure out what I am supposed to say or do. A handshake? I probably should speak, no? Something like 'Nice to meet you'? Or 'Glad to see you again'? But Esme isn't paying attention to me. Instead she approaches Bella Black and gives her a hug. Like that, is it?
This is weird. I don't like weird. I want to get this over with; I just want to go upstairs and finally touch my piano and calm down. Copying other peoples' demeanor has always served me well, so I don't think twice. If a hug is the appropriate greeting here, I can do that. As soon as Esme releases Bella Black, I drop my bags and take her place. The woman puts her arms around my waist and hugs me back. She is small – my chin comes to rest on the top of her head, and there's that scent, and my stomach turns.
I can almost hear the crack, deep inside of me, down there... and I know it is that one mutinous capsule – it just breaks and shatters, and it isn't bad at all when suddenly all the pieces fall into place and I know she isn't Bella Black, she is...warm-easybella-cinderella-girlfriend-she-sings-and-her-dad-has-a-gun... and then my face is in her hair and I breathe her in and I want to speak. But all I can do is moan so loudly, even I know this is not part of an appropriate greeting.
But she rubs my back. Small, soothing circles on my back.
And she says my name.
My secret name.
And I'm home.
"Actually, it's Bella Swan again. Since Monday," I correct Esme with a wry smile.
Her eyes grow wide and she gasps. "Oh my god, I totally forgot about that! And here I stand gushing about my happy day... oh honey, I'm so sorry, how are you feeling? Are you ok?"
Before I know it, she has wrapped her arms around me in a motherly embrace. I assure her that I'm fine and pat her back, kind of absently – I can't take my eyes off of the stunning young man standing right behind her.
He looks older than I imagined, and God... he is so handsome it's not even funny. There's not much left of the skinny little boy I used to babysit. He's tall and hunky, with square shoulders and small hips. And his face... I don't know if you call men pretty? But he is. Really, really pretty.
Some things though haven't changed at all. That distinctive crease between his brows which gave him that constant look of mild disapproval when he was a child? Yes, definitely still there. And his eyes are still a disturbingly deep green. A line from a long forgotten song comes to my mind: Green like the nights when the northern lights perform...
Esme finally releases me after I assure her for the fifth time that I'm ok. I don't even have time to lower my arms before I find myself enveloped in Edward. He totally catches me off guard; I giggle with surprise and awkwardly rub his back. His chin is heavy on my head and I'm kind of trapped with my nose in the small dent between his collarbones, inhaling his musky scent. He doesn't smell like a child, and he definitely doesn't feel like one, either.
For a moment I think that he might hold me a little too tight, and that I might like it a little too much. But then I remember the way we used to communicate. Apparently, he is still not much of a talker but I understand...
He knows who I am.
With his face in my hair, he inhales deeply. And then he moans, making something in my stomach flutter.
He didn't know how much he missed me until just now.
Without thinking I whisper our secret childhood nickname for him, so low only he can hear.
I remember you too, Edward, and I didn't know I missed you until just now either.
I feel him relax, almost melting in my arms.
He is home.
The piano has been tuned, I can tell that much. But it wasn't done well. I need to buy a wrest and correct that. The treble C is an eighth flat. So I don't play. I just put my hands on the shiny black surface. But it's not as much of a comfort as I thought; it's not what I really crave to touch right now.
My Easybella. She's here.
I thought I'd never see her again, when they sent me away. I had been sick, so sick... crying for days, unable to stop. I didn't know if it would ever stop. I would feel ok on one day, and then start hurting and crying all over again on the next. I couldn't bear it. So I had buried everything about her in that dark pit of my mind. Too much loss, too much pain... couldn't deal with it. So I pretended; I am good at pretending. Always have been. For almost eight years it was as if she never existed. Easybella just didn't exist.
But she is here. And she remembers me. I held her and she responded. We were 'talking', like we used to do. Almost like we used to do. The language is different now. Just slightly off... like that eighth note on my piano keyboard. Only it isn't flat, it's sharp. Disturbing. Exciting.
Once more, I look at my watch. 4:26 a.m. It is too early, still too early.
Isabella my Easybella just Bella now.
She's back in my life. She is, isn't she? So confusing.
I usually don't deal well with confusion. But even the confusion is different this time. It's a tingling sensation in my stomach; it's pleasant. I don't want her to un-confuse me. I just want her to touch me again. I want to touch her instead of my piano. I want to hold her. Maybe I could play her?
4:42 a.m. Still too early.
I play around with her new name in my mind for a while, getting accustomed to it. The missing syllables. The capital B... I like the capital B. I open my mouth to try the sound of her name but all I produce is a rasping noise that makes me cringe. My voice is a feeble mess, and yet it seems too loud, cutting painfully through the silence. When was the last time I spoke? I clear my throat and try again, whispering this time.
And again, adding a little more tone.
I keep on testing, feeling, tasting, rolling her name off my tongue in different keys and colors until the sun is up. I slowly rise from the piano bench and walk over to my suitcase. I open it, slowly. I take my time to pick something to wear, slowly, slowly... When I finally decide on a pair of black denims and a simple black tee, I have successfully killed another 18 minutes. But it is still too early.
In the shower, I remember one day when Easybella... Bella... once washed my hair. She'd thoughtfully handed me a washcloth and told me to press it against my face, so I wouldn't get shampoo into my eyes. I remember her caring fingers kneading and stroking my head, I remember her quietly singing to me when she rinsed my hair. I remember the faint vibration passing from her chest to the back of my head when I leaned into her as she sang. I remember the song...
Just a little green
Like the color when the spring is born
There'll be crocuses to bring to school tomorrow
Just a little green
Like the nights when the northern lights perform
There'll be icicles and birthday clothes
And sometimes there'll be sorrow
I remember how she used to call me 'Little Green' when no one else was listening. She'd called me that ever since the day she washed my hair. And now, with the smell of soap and warm water massaging my scalp, I can almost feel her hands again.
The memory rekindles with new vehemence as I close my eyes and start stroking myself like I often do in the shower. Only this is the first time I wish it wasn't me touching myself. This is the first time I imagine it isn't me. The noise of the pouring water graciously takes the edge off my unexercised voice when I moan her name – exploring a completely new way, after all the earlier practicing, to utter those two precious syllables – as I come violently into the hand that I wish wasn't mine.
While I wait for my legs to stop shaking, I briefly wonder whether all this is right or wrong. I have no reference whatsoever, so there's no use debating except for killing more time. Bella will tell me, won't she? She always knew, always helped me to figure things out. She'll know. She'll let me know. I just need to touch her and she'll let me know.
When I have dried myself off, brushed my teeth and put my clothes on, it is 6:23 a.m. With my hand on the door handle, I turn into a living statue for another seven minutes. Then I'm done waiting.
I wake up to the sound of my own moaning, with my hand between my thighs. I feel embarrassed and aroused and desperate all at the same time, but I can't bring myself to stop the frantic movement as I feel the heat in my groin build until I clamp my legs together and cry out in the solitude of my bedroom. Panting and whimpering, I roll onto my side and curl into a ball, release and sadness washing through me in equal measure. I feel like I did something illegal.
Well, this was the first night I dreamt of Edward Cullen...
The ring of the doorbell finally puts an abrupt end to my inner guilt-trip. I peek at the alarm clock; it's not even 7 a.m. I jump off the bed, whipping on my robe on the way to the door, and I'm not surprised at all when I spy through the fish eye. I just doze-masturbated in consequence of a wet dream about my former surrogate little brother; I suppose it can't get much worse.
I open the door. "Edward."
God, he is so pretty...
His hair is damp and he smells sweet of soap and toothpaste. He is all dressed in black which makes his skin look even paler and emphasizes the dark shadows under his eyes. Hasn't he slept at all? But his eyes, those impossibly green eyes are wide awake and bright, and they look at me, unblinking. He swallows hard, and then I hear his grown-up voice for the first time. And though he only utters two single words, it makes my heart beat faster.
I gasp and can't help but break into a wide smile. "You're speaking!"
He nods yes and smiles back, and my hand reaches out for him of its own volition. I touch his cheek and he closes his eyes and leans into my palm. "Hello, Green," I say – I cannot refer to him as 'little' any more, "Do you remember what you used to call me?"
He nods again, "Easybella." It's merely a whisper.
It makes me smile even more. "Yes. It's nice though to hear you call me Bella. Even at the ungodly hour of seven o' clock on a Sunday."
He is completely oblivious to my not so subtle innuendo. "I practiced," he says and opens his eyes, "Last night. I wanted to say it right."
"You practiced to say my name?"
"Come in," I laugh, and he takes my hand and I let him, because it's always been like that. He hardly ever lost physical contact with me when he was a child. Like a cute, little spider monkey.
So he holds my hand when I close the door behind him, and he doesn't let go as we walk towards the kitchen where I try to one-hand-operate the coffee percolator, not without difficulty. He notices my distress and releases my hand, but steps closer to me from behind, and then I feel his warm fingers in the nape of my neck. Skin... he always preferred skin on skin. I press the button and the coffee maker starts to gurgle.
"You smell good," he declares, and his breath is tickling my skin. It gives me goose bumps, and not the chilly kind.
I giggle sheepishly. "Oh right... hello, morning breath? Don't be silly, Edward."
He steps even closer; I can feel the warmth radiating from him on my back through the fabric of my robe, and then his arms are around my waist. "You dosmell good," he insists, with a mild undertone of indignation in his new, silken voice.
My heartbeat accelerates with a rush of adrenaline. I am suddenly aware of the wetness still pooling between my legs from my 'private moment' in bed a few minutes ago, and I wonder if...
God, can he... is that what he's smelling?
I should be embarrassed, but actually the thought arouses me, and things get a little worse down there. My hands are shaking as I put them on his arms in front of me, halfheartedly trying to pry them off of my waist.
"Anyway... I need to use the bathroom now, so you should let go of me, ok?"
He doesn't take his arms away but loosens his grip, so I can turn around. His hands come to rest on my hips. It doesn't feel so innocent any more, and I'm quite sure we are about to cross a line here. He is not a child any more. His eyes are half hidden behind his long lashes because he is looking down on my...
He is ogling my cleavage!
No, not a child any more... I catch myself wishing desperately for him to like what he sees. Does he find me attractive? As a women? God, how I crave to feel wanted for once. Is it wrong that I want a man to want me like this; the way my husband never did? Definitely not, I think. That I want him to want me like this? Oh yes, definitely wrong! I grab his wrists.
"Edward, I don't think this is really appropriate any more. You can't just touch me like you used to do, when you were little."
His eyes find mine, and that signature crease appears between his brows. His lips part slightly and twitch as if he wants to say something and is debating how to put it. And God, he is so pretty!
Instead of letting go, he tightens his grip on my hips and pulls me closer. I feel the need to swallow, but my mouth is too dry and, God help me, I so want to cross that line. And then he speaks, with that totally earnest expression on his face and that velvet lilt to his voice, and he enunciates every single word so pointedly as if he'd rehearsed that too, as he did with my name.
"Everyone knows I am socially inept, so no one will blame you if we get caught."
I gape at him incredulously for a second, and then all edginess leaves me and I burst into laughter...
She's laughing out loud as if I'd said something funny. Did I? I have no idea, but her laughter is catching and I grin involuntarily. It rather feels as if the grin... is grinning me. I like that. I have performed way too many grins in my life without feeling like it, just for the sake of blending in. I also like the sound of Bella laughing.
Still giggling, she playfully punches my chest and calls me cheeky. Apparently, she thinks I made a joke. It slowly dawns on me, that maybe I should have? It would have been a smart move, joking to lighten the mood. I can sense her distress, really sense it – not analyzing body language and facial expressions and calculating their meaning, but feeling it. It's always been like that with her. Intuitive. Only with her. And I don't want her to feel uncomfortable, and most of all I don't want her to think this – us – is not appropriate. I want to hear her laugh again. I decide to give it a try.
"I don't think anyone would blame me either. You are pretty, I bet every man wants to touch you."
It doesn't work. Her laughter dies. She falls silent and frowns. I suck at joking, I should have known. Somehow I made her sad; this went totally wrong. I shouldn't speak at all. I cup her face and make my forehead touch hers to tell her I'm sorry. Though I don't understand what I did to make her feel bad. But whatever it is, I'm sorry I did it. And she gets me. Of course, she gets me. She says, it's not my fault.
Not my fault. Someone else's fault then. Who? And what did they do to her?
"It's not your fault, Edward," she repeats, and then she ducks away from under my hands and moves towards the bathroom, and my hands have never felt so empty. And I follow, I follow her magnetic pull. And I say her name, out loud, and I didn't even mean to speak. She does that to me. I am completely filled with her presence and her beauty and my want for her, I can hardly breathe. I'm overflowing and I don't know what this beautiful mess is called. But if it has a name at all then it must be hers... those two precious syllables. It's spilling over and I can't keep it in, and so her name drops from my lips.
And she stops walking and turns around. Thank God, she stops walking away from me. She leans back against the bathroom door and I take her hand again. Good... this is good.
I want to tell her so many things... how much I missed her, how much I crave her touch, and that I don't want her to go inside where I can't hold her. I don't want her to go inside the bathroom and wash away the scent... THAT scent... that intoxicating essence of Bella-no-more-Easybella that engulfed my senses from the moment she opened her door. I want to tell her about the hunger she arouses in me, the painful desire to touch her in ways I never wanted to touch anyone before. I need her to know about all this, and the only way I know to say it is through my body and I pray she'll let me...
I bend down ever so slowly, bringing my face closer to her face, inch by inch bringing my mouth closer to hers. And she tilts her head ever so slightly, up and up and a little more up to meet me. She gets me. Of course, she gets me. Her lips part and her breathing is getting a little labored, and so is mine. And her body says yes, and her scent... that scent says a thousand times yes. And my own body's answer is loud, so loud it almost hurts. The heat. The throbbing. A thousand times yes.
I slide one hand behind her, to the small of her back, and pull her towards me... slowly, ever so slowly. And then our hips meet and I feel her there and – oh, this sweet torture – I press into her and moan like I did in the shower, only this is a thousand times better, a thousand times yes. And again I speak in spite of myself. I don't mean to but I can't hold these words back, and with my lips almost, almost touching hers, I whisper them into her ragged breath.
"Bella... Bella, it burns... I'm burning for you..."
With a little sob, she raises her hands and cups my face, and then her mouth is on mine, all supple and wet, all lips and tongue. And I hold on tight, so tight to her because it is all I can do not to relent to the blissful weakness that washes through me... it is all I can do not to pass out when we finally, finally kiss.
He is burning for me... does it mean what I think it means? Does this beautiful man want me like this? Am I wanted? I throw myself into that kiss and it feels like nothing I have ever felt before. It feels like I'm wanted. My stomach explodes and melts into something like hot magma running down in a slow stream right to my center, where I can feel the evidence of his want pressing into me.
We break the kiss and stand still for a moment, forehead to forehead, panting, trying to catch our breath, silently asking and gaining each other's understanding. This is familiar and new all at the same time. There's that physical communication we always had, so at home with each other. And there's this overwhelming, never known sensuality and passion. And yes, I'm burning for him too.
He puts his palm against my chest, right over my galloping heart. Then he takes my hand and places it on his own heart which is beating just as frantically as mine, and we stay like this I don't know how long, just feeling each other's heart beat. I almost jump when he suddenly speaks.
"How do normal people do it?" he asks hoarsely, and I'm at a loss for a second. I have no idea what he's talking about... sex? Whatever he wants to know, I'm certainly the wrong person to ask. But he continues, "Is it always like this for normal people? How do you cope with so much... emotion? It's like my chest is going to explode, like everything is spiraling out of control... I can't... I can't breathe easy and I feel weak. I think I need to sit down."
And with that, he sinks down in front of me – very gracefully I might add – until he is on his knees, sitting back on his heels. He slings his arms around my legs, bumps his head against my thigh and lets go a long moan.
"Edward, please..." I grab his upper arms, trying to make him get up, "come on, let's get you..."
into my bedroom
"...somewhere we can sit down, ok?"
He slowly rises to his feet, never losing contact in the process. He holds on to my waist first, and then takes my hand as he follows me...
into my bedroom
...and as he sinks down onto the mattress, he pulls me towards him to once again wind his arms around my middle. He buries his face in my terrycloth clad stomach and groans. I stroke his hair soothingly; he is shaking like a leaf.
Another groan rolls through his chest and resonates in my lower regions. I am sure he can smell my arousal now, and for a moment I am afraid it might gross him out... like it did Jake. I try to step back, but he is clinging to me for dear life.
"Edward, what's wrong?" I am close to tears. "Words, please?"
Finally he tilts his head to look at me. "How can you stand this aching?" he whispers.
"I don't know what to do, you need to tell me how-" He swallows loudly. "Help me. You know things; you always did. You need to tell me."
"I have no idea, Edward. What do you want?"
Please... let it be me. Please say you want me!
He pulls me closer until I am straddling his legs. Then he makes us resume our former position, with our hands resting above each other's hearts, and looks at me expectantly. But I need more, I so desperately need to hear it.
"Talk to me, Edward... what do you want?"
He opens his mouth, and I hold my breath...
She wants me to speak. After the longest speech I've ever made to a single person before my knees gave way. She is asking for words when I am a shaking throbbing aching mess underneath her, unable to stop or even dim the storm inside of me. I am not used to such a degree of feeling, it tears me apart. And yet I don't want it to end, I just want – need – something to happen to it, something to do with it.
"What do you want, Edward?"
She wants words. Anything for her. If she wants words, I'll speak. But how do I say it? Is there a name for the emotional tsunami that's pulling me under? Do normal people have words for this... turmoil? This all-consuming desire?
...you to lay down with me ...to have sex with you ...you to be mine ...you to relieve me of this torment ...to make love to you ...you to take my virginity ...to touch you everywhere, without clothes ...to be with you as man and woman to ...be with you ...to be inside of you...
"...you!" I finally blurt out. "I want you so badly, it makes me sick!"
She takes a deep breath, as if she's run out of oxygen. And then she starts to whisper questions, and I know... once more I know... even with my total lack of words, she gets me. She always gets me. And I answer her questions; I only need to nod my head because the answer is always yes. A thousand times yes.
"Does that mean you want to have sex with me?"
"You want to be with me as man and woman?"
Yes. Please, yes.
"You want to touch me while we're both naked?"
Yes. And if I have to beg for it, I will beg.
She takes my hand, the one that's resting above her heart, and slides it underneath the collar of her robe and a little further down. "Like this?"
Her breast is in my palm, soft and warm in my palm, and this time there's no nodding. "Yes..." I sigh, and I'm not embarrassed that it sounds like a whimper. I find her nipple and as it hardens under my touch, Bella moans quietly. She moans and I can't hold back any longer.
I beg her.
"Please... you don't know how long I've waited for you. Let me make love to you, Bella. Please let me love you..."
She doesn't answer, she just silently unties the belt of her robe. I reach up and slide the fabric off her shoulders and down her arms, and her beauty takes my breath away. I know she wants words. It's different now and for some reason she needs words. I just know she does, and so I tell her.
"Your beauty takes my breath away."
And as I look up again, there are tears in her eyes, tears rolling down her face. But she is smiling at me, so her tears don't scare me. I just kiss them away, one by one kiss her tears away, as she did with mine back when we were Little Green and Easybella.
She reaches for the hem of my tee shirt and I raise my arms and let her peel it off over my head. Her hands roam my upper body... shoulders, chest, down to my stomach, up again to my chest... and my breath hitches and my heart is beating in my throat. Her thumbs caress my nipples, and I'm glad I took care of myself in the shower because otherwise I might come in my pants right now.
I gently cup her full breasts and copy her tender fondling, circling my thumbs over her taut peaks. She bites her lip and it does weird things to me, seeing her doing that. She looks me in the eyes and holds my gaze as she removes one of my hands and moves it downwards.
"See how wet you make me," she whispers, and then my hand is right there and I almost lose my mind. Heat and soft flesh and moisture and her scent... thatscent... it is everywhere, consuming me, calling me.
She gets up and away from my hand, and the loss of contact cuts through me painfully like a cold knife and I cry out. She shushes me and says,"Taste it." I don't know what she is saying, I just want her back. But when I reach out for her, she shakes her head no and pushes my hand, that hand, towards my mouth. "Don't you want to taste?" she asks, and I finally understand. Without hesitation I put my fingers into my mouth, all four fingers in my mouth, and my eyes close of their own volition. I taste Bella, and she tastes divine; and thinking of where I collected that taste makes me dizzy.
When I open my eyes again, I find Bella kneeling between my legs. Her robe has fallen down to the floor, finally leaving her beauty completely uncovered for me to take it in. I want to drown in her, I want to breathe her, drink her in. I make a silent promise to myself to never, never hide the memory of this in a capsule, no matter what. I will treasure this as long as I live.
She looks up at me from under her lashes. Her cheeks are flushed and still glistening with traces of her tears... and maybe of my kisses, too. I'm so intoxicated by her taste and by the sight of her naked form, it's hard to think. And she's worrying her bottom lip again. Her lips are glistening, too. We are both panting. It's the only sound in the room, and our breaths are perfectly in unison.
When she asks me if she may take off my jeans, I nod again. I don't know how I am supposed to live through all this feeling, if she's going to touch me there. But I'm almost reduced to nothing but feeling anyway by now, and I want this... God, I want this, so I just nod yes. Anything for her. And a thousand times yes.
He wants me. He wants me. He wants me.
The thought is like a broken record in my mind. He thinks I'm beautiful and he wants me. I feel lightheaded and everything happens in a daze. Am I really doing this?
God help me, yes!
He is eighteen, I try to persuade myself for the umpteenth time. I deserve this, hell knows I do. And he wants it, too.
I make quick work of his button and zipper and he raises his hips to help me. I shove his jeans and boxers down at once; of course they get stuck at his feet. He sits down again and gingerly strokes my cheek and my hair while I take his shoes and socks off.
As soon as he is rid of all his clothes, I sit back on my heels and take a look. He is so different from Jake in every way I don't even know where to begin. Jake has never been that hard. Never. And I always believed it was my fault. After a while I dreaded the look and feel of his veined thing that just wouldn't respond to my touch, and I didn't mind when we finally stopped trying at all.
Edward's penis is really... pretty, actually. It looks smooth and it arouses me to see it stand up and twitch, almost tapping his toned stomach. I feel ridiculously proud, knowing this is because of me.
I want to touch him, I want to pleasure him. I ache to see him come undone because of me.
He looks at me with those northern lights eyes, hooded with desire, and suddenly I feel insecure again. What if I'm doing this wrong? Jake always gave me instructions, hissing commands all the time until he would shove me away to take things in his own hands and finish himself off. I never did it right. But it is the only thing I've ever done...
I scoot a little closer, with my hands on his thighs. I should ask him... yes, I should ask him. This is Edward, I trust him. He will tell me if I do anything wrong.
"Can I touch you, Edward?"
He lets go a shattered breath and his eyes flutter close. Then he nods his head ever so slightly, I'm not even sure if he actually meant to. Is that a yes? My hands slide up his thighs until my thumbs reach his groin, caressing his V-line.
Without opening his eyes, he breathes, "Please..."
And finally I am able to ban any thoughts and memories of Jake from my mind. There's just Edward who wants me. Edward who is hard for me; because of me. I take him into my mouth, carefully... I don't want to hurt him... just the tip, and his whole body stiffens. Has he stopped breathing?
I swirl my tongue around his glans one time. His hips jerk, and then his hands are in my hair and he gasps-moans-cries out. Because of me! I take him in a little deeper, and every sound I elicit from him is like an electric bolt running through me, right down to my core. God, I must be dripping right now...
His hands hold my head, gently. Never demanding, not giving directions, but encouraging, approving. And his noises... he is so responsive; I think I could come just from this. I get lost in his pleasure as it becomes my own.
His legs start to quiver and I know he is close. But I want... I need him the real way... now. I can't wait any longer; I want Edward to be the one for me.
But I need to tell him. He needs to know...
I release him with an embarrassing little plop, and when I raise my head I find him looking down at me appraisingly, and the mixture of love and lust in his eyes almost makes my heart stop. A silent understanding passes between us. I don't need to verbalize what I want; he wants the same, just as badly as I do.
But he needs to know…
"I've never done this before, Edward."
I don't understand. It's so hard to think when every single cell of my body is charged with that screaming desire for her. What did she just say... never did... what? I need to ask. I feel like I have used up all the words for one day... words, so many words... but I need to ask, even if complete sentences are unmanageable right now.
She doesn't answer but there's a yes. Somehow, I get a yes... she's never had sex before. A few mental blueprints start to shift creakily in my mind, nothing seems to fit anymore. This is not what I expected. Esme told me she was married, but what... how...? Is she like me? Are we equals in this? Is she still a...
"...virgin," she barely mouths, "I'm sorry."
What is she sorry for? I don't want her to be sorry for anything. I need to give her more words, however difficult it may be. I need to be responsible. She can't tell me anything, she doesn't know much more than I do. But we can...
"...learn together, Bella. We can learn together, right?"
Please say yes! More words?
"This is my first time too, but we can learn together, can't we?"
Her eyes widen, and all she utters is a surprised little "...oh!" This is unbearable. Can't she just... know? Like she used to do? Can't she just let me know it is alright? She licks her lips and swallows. She is anxious, full of doubt. Why? What more does she want me to say?
And then she speaks. "You're shaking..." she says.
And it's true. The desire to be close to her is overwhelming. The fact that I don't know what she needs me to say is almost killing me. The way her left breast is twitching rhythmically with each beat of her heart is mesmerizing. There's a rosy flush on her chest, and her scent is like a siren call. I force myself to wait for her to say the words. But she has more questions instead.
"Did you like what I did... here?" she asks, putting her warm hand on my erection, and I almost growl. Images of me taking her and flipping her over and burying myself inside her flash through my mind. God, couldn't she tell? Is this new vocabulary so strange to us that she couldn't tell it blew my mind? I can't do this any more... I've run out of words!
I just grab her and make her rise and pull her with me as I let myself fall back. We both moan when she comes flush to my chest and her naked belly is grinding against my throbbing need. The feeling of her skin on mine makes my head swim and I sigh the only word I've got left into her breath again and again... "Bella... Bella..."
And then she gets me again, and we are learning together. A new language, new meanings... we let our bodies take over and learn.
She moves just slightly, I follow and we roll onto our sides as one, facing each other. And we learn together... lips and tongues and teeth, yes teeth too.
She tilts her head back and her hands rake through my hair and pull, just a little they pull me forward and I follow. I learn and follow, and now I'm all lips and tongue on her throat, her collarbones and her breasts... all mouth around her nipples, and yes, a thousand times yes, teeth too. And it is such a sweet lesson, such a sweet pain.
I slide my hand down her backside and take her leg and push, just a little I push and she puts it around my waist. Once again we roll over until I'm on top of her and between her thighs. I slowly scoot down on her, kissing and licking and learning on the way. She might just have whispered 'Oh God', but I'm not sure. Her body is calling out too loud, and I follow.
I kiss the inside of her bended thigh, from her knee to the apex of her legs... to the source of that intoxicating scent. She starts to tremble and bucks her hips, and when my mouth finds her most sensitive spot she cries out my name and I lose myself in her taste and her heat and in the essence that is Bella... my Bella.
With every lap and twirl of my tongue I learn. With every move and every moan of her I learn. Until she convulses and I know I'm making her come, and I don't stop until her body tells me to, because this is the sweetest lesson of all...
I'm falling. Endlessly. My entire self explodes into millions of sparkling fragments and I tumble and fall with a pleasure bordering on pain. And when I am finally put back together again, it is as if I'm drifting, only held in space by Edward's hands... held in time by his incoherent mumbling against my skin between kisses.
Open mouthed kisses on my jaw, my cheek, my temple... it takes a while for me to realize that he is kissing away my tears again. I didn't even notice I was crying. It's just relief, nothing but relief. I am floating on a high, without fear or doubts. Nothing but relief.
I am ready, so ready for this. I grab his shoulders, pushing a little, and he raises his upper body immediately, supporting himself on his elbows. I reach out for the nightstand drawer. I try not to think about the reason why Jake stored condoms in there, not to think about what he suggested trying one night. I'm just really thankful to have them now.
As I get out the small foil wrapping, Edward sits back on his heels and looks at me trustingly. I hold it out to him, hoping he knows how to do this, because I truly have no idea. He picks it from my hand and much to my relief rips it open with his teeth quite expertly, without hesitation.
But then he takes my hand and places the condom in my palm. He wants me to do it. Again, there is that trusting look in his eyes, and though his breathing is still labored, he seems so calm now, almost serene. His hands are drawing soothing circles on my hips as I lean up and carefully sheath his hard on. It's not that difficult, but a bit awkward, just so... technical doing this. I feel silly and barely suppress a giggle, as I bite my lip and say, "There you go."
A brief smile flits over his face and is gone again so quickly, I'm not even sure it was there before it is replaced by... something else. His brows knit together as if he's trying to figure out a complicated equation, and his eyes noticeably grow a darker shade of green, like jade. He lets himself fall forward on his knees and arms and slowly lowers himself down on me.
"Are we doing this?" he whispers, and there's something in his eyes that makes it hard to speak. So I just reach down between us and guide him. He exhales through pursed lips and his hips push forward, just an inch, but I can feel him and I know I never ever wanted anything this much in my entire life.
His breathing hitches, and he says, "Promise to tell me if I hurt you." I wrap my legs around his waist to let him know that I'm ok, to lead him on. But this time it's not enough for him. "Promise me," he insists.
"I promise," I answer between pants. And he sinks down on his elbows, buries his face in the crook of my neck and enters me... slowly... ever so slowly...
"There you go."
I have so many memories tagged with those three words from her, layers and layers of comfort and peace and safety. A band aid on a small cut on my knee... there you go. A tenderly hummed song when I was afraid of something... there you go. A hand to hold on to tightly when I dreaded to fall asleep because of the nightmares... there you go.
When Bella puts the condom on me, in spite of her conspicuous embarrassment, I feel the same comfort and peace and safety. Her fingertips rolling the condom down on my erection, so gently and lovingly... with her face so flushed from the pleasure I have just given her...when she smiles at me and says those words, the stormy sea inside of me calms down and turns into one single wide wave of trust that carries me home. And it is right then that I finally know the name for what is happening to me.
I love her. I always did.
There you go.
To be inside her is unlike anything I ever imagined. We're going slow; I don't want to hurt her. I know I most likely will hurt her eventually, but I fight the consuming urge to just thrust forward and be one with her. She promised to tell me. Please, I don't want to hurt her. Almost there, almost there...
My face is nestled against her neck and she holds me tight, one hand on my back, the other in my hair, stroking, soothing, assuring. Does she see feel know that I love her? She has to, what with my body speaking my love so loudly. Another inch... God, I need to move, I love her so much. But I can't, I have to go slow. And then I feel something, a barrier... this is it. Please, I don't want to hurt her... I freeze – a trembling, panting mess above her. I don't know what to do.
She tips her head back and cups my face with both hands. She wants me to look at her. And so I do. I look at her and I almost sob because she is so beautiful and she is Bella and there's something inside my chest on the brink; ready to erupt and tear me apart.
She kisses me on the lips, once, twice, and I feel her heels dig into my back, pressing down. "I get you," she says, "I feel the same. Don't stop, my love, you won't hurt me. Don't keep your body from talking to me."
She takes my right hand, interlacing our fingers and holds it to her heart. Her legs around me tighten and she presses down, relentlessly she presses down, and I ease into her to the hilt.
"There you go," she whispers.
And I am home for good.