A/N: Many thanks to algonquinrt, adorablecullens, siouxchef and the rest of the Usual Suspects for keeping me sane. Extra thanks to swill122 for the Discovery List addition ideas. Thanks to TwilightMundi for the beta job.
Playlist & Discovery List are at my blog.
All copyright and trademarked items mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. The remaining content is all mine. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without my express written authorization.
I made my way through the door and into the classroom, still floating on my high from Edward, when I saw Tanya. She had a strange look of hurt on her face, but still smiled at me and tilted her head to the empty chair next to her.
Smiling back, I made my way over and sat down, knowing the conversation wouldn't flow as easily that day as it had previously. I had so much to tell her, and it seemed from the look on her face, she felt the same.
We whispered an exchange of greetings before class began, then had to resort to note passing. I asked if she could meet up with me after class and she said she could. The class dragged, but finally, we were on our way to the cafe. I figured it was as good a place as any to talk, even though we did run some risk of running into Edward.
We sat and I had coffee while she had tea. I knew Jasper would be by in about an hour, and I selfishly hoped I'd be done talking to Tanya before that. How awkward would it be to have Jasper find me still talking to her?
"So, Tanya. This is uncomfortable." My eyes glanced around the room, trying to find anything other than her to settle on. I gave in, finally, and looked at her. "The reason I needed to talk to you is because I found out Jacob didn't practicing safe sex every time with Mike. I didn't know when I was wit you, Tanya, I'm so sorry. I went for some lab work yesterday. The physical exam showed nothing obvious, but I should have the rest of the results by the end of the week. Just to be safe, I plan to go back in three months for a six-month re-test. I did some research and there are conflicting reports on HIV transmission between two women, but I wanted to let you know. I wouldn't feel right not telling you." I shifted my eyes from her down to the table as I played with the frayed edge of my napkin.
"Thank you for telling me. I'm not entirely surprised; I mean, the way you described him," she snort-laughed, "he didn't exactly strike me as the most considerate guy. I knew I was taking a calculated risk when …" I looked up at her and it was her turn to look away and be shy. "When I was with you."
"Well, you know, I assumed that you were negative as well." I quirked a brow, hoping she wouldn't make me say the words out loud.
"Oh, God, no, no no." She was waving her hands frantically, bordering on comedically as she motioned up and down her body, then made a swirly motion over her lower half. "No, I'm negative."
We sat in awkward silence for a minute and I sipped my coffee, the taste and scent now inextricably linked with Edward. I bit my lip to keep from smiling at the thought of him.
I hummed in reply, not ready to extract my thoughts completely from Edward yet.
"Are you dating him?"
We looked at each other for a brief moment and I saw a glint of pain in her eyes.
"I am." But then, I was a little angry. "I don't see why you're upset even in the slightest. I don't need to remind you how I was unceremoniously dumped in front of my dorm room when your ex-girlfriend appeared from nowhere and you chose her, do I?"
She looked surprised, but New Bella was in charge, and I was learning that she was a force to be reckoned with. "You know what, though, it doesn't even matter anymore, Tanya. You're happy with her and I'm happy with him."
Only once I saw the tears slide from her eyes and down her cheeks did I feel remorse. I didn't feel bad for what I said, I felt bad for how I'd said it. She asked a simple question and I went completely on the defense.
"I'm sorry," I sighed. "You know, what happened between us is long over, but there was no reason for me to get so bitchy. It did hurt, though, you know?"
Tanya nodded and I saw a few more tears escape. I handed her the napkin I'd been slowly shredding and watched as she dabbed her eyes and took a few breaths.
"I never imagined Kate would do that," she whispered. "I thought that whole part of my life with her was over. Then I was forced to choose, after we had such a great night together. I was so conflicted because I could see so much potential in what you and I had, but she was my whole past and had been my whole future for so long." She paused and I thought she was done talking, so I tried to think about what might be appropriate to say in that moment, but was surprised when she began to speak again. "It only took forty-eight hours for me to regret my decision."
The next time her eyes met mine, they looked slightly hopeful and I realized I needed to curb this quickly.
"Tanya," I tried to speak softly and not get her hopes up. "Could there have been a future between us? Yes, probably." I was being honest – both with her and myself. "But then I met Edward." I bit my lip again to prevent the smile that so desperately wanted to creep across my face.
If I thought the tension was palpable before, it was nothing compared to what it ratcheted up to in that moment.
"I think I'll collect what's left of my dignity and get going. I'm sorry to have wasted your time."
She bent to pick up her purse and I knew I couldn't let her leave like that. It just wouldn't be me.
"Don't leave upset. I'm sorry this didn't go as you hoped, Tanya, but maybe someday we can be friends. Maybe things will work out with Kate after all. You just never know."
She nodded a bit and gave me a sad wave before turning to leave. I sat back in my chair, draining the rest of my coffee as I thought about her words. I knew I'd talk to Edward about it, partially because it was fucking hysterical at some level, and partially because I wanted him to know in case it got back to him through Kate. Mostly, though, I wanted to tell him because her questioning me actually solidified my feelings for Edward. She made me realize that all the other bullshit out there paled in comparison to the sliver of Edward I had experienced, and my heart soared at the thought that I'd be allowed the opportunity to experience more.
I was lost in my own little Edworld when I heard Jasper clear his throat and sit down across from me.
He smiled and I felt so at ease. I smiled back and let out a long sigh.
"Hey, Jasper. Thanks for meeting me. How was class?"
"The usual," he shrugged.
"How are things with Alice?"
We talked for a while about their relationship. I genuinely enjoyed hearing about their interactions and getting a sense of what Jasper was feeling already for Alice.
"So Jasper, I wanted to talk to you because I found out Jacob wasn't practicing safe sex when he cheated on me. Obviously your exposure was... about as minor as you can get, but there is a very tiny risk. If you had a cut on any of your..." I looked away, completely embarrassed in that moment. It was so complicated, I almost laughed at the circumstances and situation, but this was honestly no laughing matter. "Well, if you had any cuts, you might want to go get blood work done. My physical exam was fine, and I should have my own labs back by the end of the week. I looked up some information and there's never been a case of transmission from... touching. But I wouldn't feel right not saying anything."
By this point, I had memorized the pattern on the tabletop. I wasn't sure how Jasper would react and I worried that if he reacted poorly, I would lose both his friendship and Alice's, and then perhaps Rose as well, and Emmett... I hadn't stopped before to think about the huge chain of reaction and consequences my actions could cause.
Jasper put his hand on mine and I looked up at him, unshed tears shining in my eyes.
"Bella, it's okay."
I blinked a few times, tears finally rolling down my cheeks. "What do you mean, it's okay?"
"Like you said, there are no known cases of transmission. I'm not an idiot, and even though we didn't explicitly talk about it, I wouldn't have gone any further without taking steps to protect myself, and you. Thank you for telling me, but I'm not worried. I've been tested recently and I'll make sure to follow-up, but I think you're making it out to be a bigger deal than it is."
He was smiling at me again and I was thankful for the ease of this conversation. Contrasted with the tense nature of the previous conversation, this was a breeze.
"Thank you, Jasper."
We exchanged another easy smile and went back to talking about Alice. As Jasper spoke, I spotted Edward walk in and watched as he looked around, presumably for me. Edward gave me a soft smile when he spotted me in the corner with Jasper. I motioned with my head for him to join us and he nodded and held up one finger, letting me know he'd be over in a minute.
"Jasper, Edward's here. You don't mind if he comes over do you?"
Edward went to the counter and I could see him talking to Tyler. They parted with a fistbump after Edward got his coffee. He began to walk toward us and my smile grew. When he got to the table, he stuck his hand out and shook Jasper's, then leaned over and gave me a soft, sweet kiss before sitting down between Jasper and me.
"How's your day going? I thought you had to work Tuesdays?" I asked.
"Yes, normally. I had some catching up to do, so I asked for the day off," he said. "I actually need to run to class after I finish this cup of coffee. Can I walk you to your next class?"
The three of us sat and talked for the rest of our free time, then Jasper excused himself. He shook Edward's hand again and gave me a soft hug before he left. Edward gathered up both of our bags and slipped his hand into mine as we walked to our classes. We agreed to meet up after class at my dorm room and parted with another kiss.
As I took my seat, I saw Emmett giving me two thumbs up and laughed. I punched him on the shoulder, then set my head down on the desk.
"Christ, Bella, you are utterly fucking delicious today. Has your boyfriend seen you in that outfit? The only thing you're missing are the glasses and you'd be back in Sexy Librarian mode...."
I laughed and looked down, realizing that he was right.
"Your girlfriend dressed me. Blame her."
I heard him mutter, "You mean thank her..." and he turned back to his book.
"I'll let you know later if I should thank her," I laughed and nudged him.
"How are things going with Eddie?"
"Really great, Emmett."
I smiled and class began shortly after, both of us trying to pay attention. When class was over, we parted with a hug, knowing we'd see each other again on Thursday. I walked to my room and Edward was already waiting for me. He was leaning against the door, eyes trained on the outside entrance. His smile grew wide when I got closer and I nearly collapsed into his arms once we were standing next to each other. I felt his body shake with soft laughter.
"Long day?" he whispered into my hair, lips pressed against me. I simply nodded my head and burrowed deeper into his arms.
We stood in the hallway for a few minutes, until I finally mustered the strength to grab my keys and unlock the door. I was surprised to see Alice and Jasper, and turned to Edward.
"You didn't knock?" He shook his head no. "Why not?"
"I was waiting for you. I didn't want to interrupt them."
Alice stood and hugged Edward in greeting and I went to my room to re-pack my bag, which Edward had brought in from his car. The shoes Rose picked for me that day were killing my feet, so I made sure to pack comfortable clothes and shoes. It was getting colder, so I packed a thick, plush sweater, jeans, and a pair of Chucks, along with under clothes and socks. I left the same pajamas as the previous night in the bag and zipped it up, walking back out to the main room.
Edward was in a one-person chair and Alice and Jasper were on the couch, so I plopped down in Edward's lap. The four of us talked about a wide range of topics, from school to brunch locations and Thanksgiving break plans. I hadn't even remembered Thanksgiving was coming up, but I'd planned to stay on campus anyway, so it wasn't a huge deal.
Before it got too late, Edward and I left to get dinner and our studying done. We picked up a pizza on the way to his apartment to save time, but I made him promise to let me cook dinner on Saturday, when we'd have more time.
When we got inside, Edward took our bags to the table and I leaned against the couch to unbuckle the straps on my shoes. Once I had them both off, I rubbed my feet briefly and cursed Rose again. My wardrobe had been a complete mix of comfortable outfits and things on the dressier side. I was usually okay in either and there seemed to be no rhyme or reason with dressing up or down, I just based it on my mood that day.
By the time I walked into the study area, Edward had taken out my laptop and things in my bag and was brewing us both a cup of tea. I grabbed plates for us to eat our pizza and made my way to the table, Edward following shortly after with the steaming mugs. Instead of sitting across from me, he sat as close as he could next to me. It wasn't actually that close, considering both of our laptops were open and we had things scattered all around, but it would do for the moment.
I grabbed my Discovery List notebook and smiled as I opened it. I added "learn to knit" and "learn to crochet" to the list. I'd seen someone knitting in class and it seemed like a great skill to have. I could knit a few scarves for my friends for Christmas, and maybe a hat or two if I had time. I smiled, thinking ahead to Christmas, and then it fell away at the realization I had no family to spend it with. I took a deep breath and a long sip of my slightly cooled tea, weighing my options. Though Christmas was months away, I wondered if Edward would want to spend it together.
Edward's right hand slid to my knee and his thumb began rubbing circles. I refocused on his face and he smiled at me.
"You sort of checked out there. You okay?"
I nodded. "Long day."
"What'cha thinking about, baby?" He leaned and kissed me, shifting his body and bringing his other hand to my face.
I hummed and smiled under his lips. "Just life. Adding some things to my list."
"Anything you want to talk about?" Edward was kissing from one corner of my mouth back to the other and it made me giggle.
"No, not really. You're distracting me, you know."
I set my book and pencil down, winding my hands around his neck. I scooted to the edge of my chair so I could be closer to him, my legs outside of his, causing my skirt to ride up slightly. He groaned and moved his other hand down, sliding both under the hem and around to the outer edge of my thighs.
"Ready to tell me what SB means?"
His mouth was trailing hot kisses around my neck and down to my collarbone. He hummed against my skin and I shivered.
His teeth nipped slightly, hands pushing further beneath my skirt.
"If I tell you, do you promise not to laugh?"
I knew there was zero chance I was going to tell him the real meaning, but I didn't see the harm in a little white lie.
Barely able to think straight with his hands and lips roaming my body, I squeezed my eyes shut tight in thought.
All movement stopped and Edward began to laugh. I pulled back and gave him my best pouty, hurt look.
"You promised, Edward!" I crossed my arms over my chest and huffed.
"Sorry, I'm sorry. Snow boarding? You've never been?" I shook my head no. "I'd like to see that, I think," he whispered, fingers tracing patterns on my face.
"Fat chance. I'm sure I'll fall nine hundred times and make a complete fool of myself."
I turned back to my list, doodling random art in the corners of the page as I thought. I felt a pang of guilt at lying, but I sort of felt like a weirdo having him on my Discovery List.
"Bella, even if you fell nine thousand times, you'd never be a fool. You're trying new things, learning new skills, having new experiences. That's admirable."
"Alright, alright. Let's get back to work so we can hopefully have some time together before we have to go to sleep."
Edward chuckled, but turned back to his laptop and began typing away. I added "go to the theater" to my list and then closed the notebook, turning my attention to my own homework. It didn't take too long to finish, then I checked my email. Nothing exciting. I sent a quick email to Alice asking if she had any ideas of nice things I could do for Edward. Once I hit send, I shut down and closed my laptop, then put it back in my bag. I went into the kitchen to wash our pizza dishes and mugs. As I was setting the last piece of dishware in the rack to dry, Edward's hands wrapped around my waist. His lips were pressed against my neck.
"I swear, Rosalie packed this outfit just because she knew how it would torture me all fucking day."
His hands were on my hips, pulling me back into him. I could feel his erection through his jeans and I tipped my head back to his shoulder.
"Why would she do that?" I spoke barely above a whisper, the lust-filled tone of my voice surprising even me.
"She knows I have a little librarian fantasy." He groaned and bit my earlobe gently as he spoke.
"What is it with you men and librarians?" I laughed as I asked, thinking about Emmett and his constant reference to me as a sexy librarian.
Edward just groaned and pushed into me again. His hands moved up to the zipper in the middle of my dress, tugging it down to the belt. He didn't even bother to unfasten the belt, simply working on the buttons of my shirt next. Once they were undone to his satisfaction, he slipped his hands underneath the fabric of my bra, hands criss-crossed in front of me, and began to tease my breasts.
I sighed and leaned back into him more, giving up. Really, was it so bad to have a boyfriend who worshipped your body when he got the chance?
He pulled his hands out and gently turned me to face him. As soon as my eyes met his, he leaned down and kissed me, hands frantically working at the belt of my dress. Once it was undone, he unzipped the dress the rest of the way, then pushed the fabric to both sides. My hands reached for his shirt, pulling it up and over his head. I bit my lip and smiled when his upper body was naked in front of me. Edward's hands were at my waist, impatiently tugging my tights down my legs. His hands and lips trailed back up my body, stopping to move my dress and shirt over my shoulders and off my body.
Edward had me pressed up against the counter as his hands moved around to unclasp my bra. Once he flung the material off my body, he attacked my breasts again. He was licking and sucking my nipples and the noises I was making were getting louder. I didn't care about anything in that moment except the two of us. I felt Edward's hand at the apex of my thighs and I pushed my body into him with a soft moan. His fingers snaked under my panties and rubbed across my lips quickly. His other hand tugged at the material and they fell to the ground without a sound. Before I knew what was happening, his hands were at my waist again and he lifted me onto the counter.
The countertop was cold against my skin, but Edward's hands wrapped around my lower half and pulled me almost to the edge, feet dangling off. He moved between my legs and reached around to his back pocket, pulling out a package too large to be a condom. As he unwrapped the rectangle of... something, his grin grew, not only in width, but intensity.
"I picked these up yesterday at the clinic. Rest your arms on the counter and lean back."
Not one to argue when my half-naked boyfriend is between my legs, I did as he asked. He put the rectangle over my center and followed it quickly with his mouth. Edward was moaning and teasing my entrance with his fingers, mouth and lips doing things I'd only ever experienced with Tanya, under very different circumstances. I let my head drop back as Edward moved his tongue over my clit, stroking one finger in and out of me slowly. I had no brain power to compare and contrast what he was doing to what Jasper had done, or even what Tanya had done, I was simply lost in the moment of experiencing Edward.
His mouth moved faster over my skin, the thin barrier separating us. It was a different sensation for sure, but he seemed so into it, and that made the experience even better for me. I felt the tightness begin and he added a second finger to his first, still moving in and out of me slowly. I began to breathe heavier, faster, harder, my need for him growing so much. My eyes closed, profanities slipped off my lips like air, and I came hard against his mouth and around his fingers.
I was gasping for breath when he slowed his movements. My entire body was tingling and every movement, even the small sweep of his breath across my skin, seemed to bring a new sensation of pleasure. Edward kissed a trail up my body, stopping to circle each nipple and suck it between his lips before meeting my mouth.
"Fuck, that was so hot. I can't wait to taste you, to really lick and pleasure you," he murmured against my lips. I couldn't have agreed more... if that was Edward with a barrier, I wasn't sure I could handle Edward without one. "Please, can I take you to the bedroom?"
I almost snorted with laughter at the ridiculousness of his question. Then I melted a little that he was still enough of a gentleman to ask. The weight of what he said smacked me, and I realized I hadn't answered the fucking hot man in front of me, asking permission to take me to his bed.
"Please," I whimpered, somehow consumed with need again.
Edward carried me, my legs wrapped around his torso, and we made love sweetly in his bed. He was gentle and loving, and then ravenous and passionate. He drove me crazy, bringing me to the brink of another orgasm before pulling back, all while talking dirty to me. By the time he finally brought me over the edge, I was nearly insane with lust and need.
We laid together, wrapped in each other's limbs, quiet as we caught our breath.
"Edward, what was that thing you used?"
"I'm pretty sure you're familiar with a mouth?" He chuckled, knowing he was teasing me. I poked him in the ribs and he recoiled a bit. "It's called a dental dam. Just a piece of latex. I could have chopped up a condom, but the ones they had at the clinic were flavored. I'm sure you recall what the last condom you licked tasted like?"
It was my turn to laugh and I brought my hand up to his hair. "Thank you. That was... I don't even have words."
We talked quietly about Jake, Tanya, and Jasper, including my conversations with the latter two that afternoon. I explained about Tanya and her asking if we had any future. He didn't seem surprised at all, but his jaw was set in a funny way as he spoke once I told him. As I detailed my response to her, he visibly relaxed and gave me a few soft kisses. Now and then throughout our conversation, we'd simply stop and kiss for what seemed like long moments.
Edward was the softest kisser I had experienced, when he was being gentle. There was a passion behind some of his kisses, but not these; these were the "I love you" kisses, and they reminded me of a question I had been holding all day.
"Edward, when you said this morning that you valued me, what did that mean?"
His eyes softened and he tucked my hair behind my ear, stroking my face. "Just as you have lost things in your life, people you've loved, I have too. I know what it's like to have to go through the pain of losing someone you thought would be around forever. I understand about your grief and pain because I've been there. Not in the exact same way, but similar."
I pressed my forehead to his as he spoke, listening intently to his words and the emotion behind them. When he paused, I pressed my lips to his cheek, then his lips, and over to the other cheek.
"Did you love her?" I asked. I could see from the look in his eyes, the ragged pain he felt, and assumed it was a woman.
"Very much so," he sighed softly as he answered. "Not in the way you're thinking, though. She was my sister. My twin. My other half from birth."
My eyes welled with tears. Edward knew. He understood exactly how I felt. He knew the pain of loving and losing a family member.
"We were sixteen. Meningitis. She thought she had the flu. We did everything together and I loved and hated her at times, just like good siblings should. There was nothing I wouldn't do for her, and I always knew she felt the same about me. She had this great boyfriend, and even though I had no concept of dating at that time, I could see how happy he made her, you know? He would do the smallest things, it seemed, and she floated on a cloud for days. I learned through her what women liked. When she died, I was devastated. I was lost and alone. That's why Alice and I are so close now. In some ways, she helped me replace Anna and became that person for me. She's been my sounding board, my best friend, and she and Rose are both like sisters to me."
I ran my fingers through his hair and pulled him tightly to my body, hooking my leg up and over his hip. "I'm sorry," I whispered. It was all that needed to be said between us at that moment. I listened to his breathing steady and then slow, but felt him hitch beneath me once or twice. His face was buried in my chest and we were wrapped so tightly together that I felt every move he made.
Eventually, Edward pulled back and looked at me. His eyes were tired, red around the edges. He kissed my shoulder, then sat up. As he pulled his knees up to his chest, he let his arms drape around his legs. I looked at and admired his body from this angle. His muscles were flexed in many places and I could see the definition and tone in them. I ran a hand up his back, then in what I hoped were soothing circles as I sat up next to him.
"Time to get into our pajamas?" I asked, kissing his back.
He nodded and got out of bed, walking into the bathroom. I heard the water a few moments later and he was brushing his teeth by the time I got in with my own brush. Edward smiled sadly at me in the mirror and I leaned my head against him. There wasn't a part of my body that didn't want to be right up next to him in that moment. To ease some part of his ache, as he had done for me countless times since we met.
We finished brushing and each took our contacts out, Edward slipping his adorable glasses on and me going without. As we walked into the other room, I saw him move to his dresser, grabbing pajama pants and pulling them on. He reached for a shirt, but I stopped him. I considered not even putting my own pajamas on, but pulled them on after some internal debate. Edward turned the lights off around the apartment, double-checked the lock on the front door, and we crawled into bed together.
Exhausted from our emotional days, we both easily fell into a deep slumber.
I woke up on the opposite side of the bed from Edward and quickly remedied that. As I nuzzled myself up against his chest, I felt him stir and wrap his arms around me.
"Good morning, love."
His voice was scratchy, and I loved it. I loved being with him and experiencing the range of Edward. The happy, loving man, the sad, broken boy, and everything between.
"You know what I'm gonna add to my list later?"
Edward hummed and clung to me tighter.
"I'm going to add 'wake up in Edward's arms everyday for a week straight,'" I said with a sigh.
"I rather like that one," he said, grinning.
"Me too. What time is it?"
Turning slightly, he looked at the clock behind him. "Seven."
I sighed. "I have a nine o'clock class, how about you?"
Edward nodded, not making a move to get ready for the day. I pulled back, making my way to the bathroom to start the shower. Edward walked in and I smiled at him. "Shower?" He nodded sleepily again and we undressed, climbing into the steamy, warm shower together. We washed each other softly and enjoyed a few more long kisses together before agreeing to grab a late lunch together at the cafe.
I wanted to stay in my dorm room that night, so we agreed to spend it separately. My heart constricted in my chest at the thought, but it just wasn't practical – we were already almost living together and I needed a night of space. I wanted to reconnect with Alice and Rose and have a girl's night, so I sent them both a quick email before we left for the day.
Of course, my email and song was there. The body of the email simply said "I love you." Once I added Say by John Mayer to my ESBC playlist, I plugged in my iPhone to sync. I sipped my coffee in the kitchen with Edward while I waited.
"Have I told you lately how much I love waking up to an email and song from you?"
"Nope, it's been a few days," he said, laughing lightly. I moved to where he was standing, all fresh and clean, dressed and ready for the day. Putting my arms around his waist, I rested my head on his shoulder, nose turned toward his neck. I nuzzled in, absorbing as much of his scent as I could in that moment.
"I do. I love waking up and knowing that you've thought about me," I said.
I felt him shake beneath me.
"I never stop thinking about you."