A/N: Infinite thanks to my beta, TwilightMundi, and my pre-reader, afeistyginger.
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When I could look into her eyes, I smiled against her mouth, then felt her lips tug into the grin I love. For the first time in my life, I made love to a woman. For the second time in my life, I allowed myself to be thoroughly and completely loved by someone.
The rest of the day was spent exchanging sections of the paper, passing the crossword puzzle back and forth, and watching movies. We made popcorn and lounged the entire time. When I whined that we needed something more substantial for dinner, instead of getting dressed and going out, we ordered pizza for delivery.
I was almost too full for a cupcake, but when I put the leftover pizza in the fridge, they looked so tempting in their pink box on the counter. I smiled as I pulled a few out and onto a plate, thinking about how I'd enjoy them – and Alice – for dessert. The thought made my heart skip faster.
When I got back to her in the living room, I pushed aside the robe she'd put on before the pizza showed up. I ran my fingertip through the chocolate buttercream, then left swipes of the melting frosting at the base of her neck, her collarbone, and finally a swirl around each nipple. The texture of the sugary buttercream against her silky skin was a delightful contrast. My tongue reached out and lapped at her nipple as her breathing increased.
Alice's hands tugged at my hair, releasing it from the pencil I'd wrapped it in. When it was free, her hands pulled and guided, moving my mouth around her breasts. I pushed her robe lower, then gathered more frosting. We continued licking and biting each other, and sometimes the cupcakes, teasing each other for what felt like hours.
A sugar coma took over after we were sated – in every respect – and we laid on the couch quietly watching as the sun set. The colors went from brilliant orange to the tame and soft grey of night. Our time together, like the day, was coming to a close.
"Naked tub time before you go?" I asked.
"I can't," she said quietly. "Naked tub time should never be less than an hour, and I have to get to sleep. More building talks and work in the morning."
"How's it going?"
"Good, good. I'm meeting with my mom all this week to see if there's a spot for me there. I can't decide which one I want to do, that or a dance studio, so I'm just trying to figure it out."
"I'm proud of you, Alice."
"Thank you, Bee. I'm kind of proud of the way my life's going lately, too. Hey, you wanna have lunch with my mom next week? I don't know her schedule, but I'm sure we'd be able to work it out one of the days I'm there."
"Yeah, I'd like that a lot."
"I do have time for a quick shower," she suggested, turning to face me and wiggling her eyebrows.
We finally found the energy to sit up, then stand. We made our way to the shower, soaking up the final few moments of our time together. When the thought of asking her to move in danced through my head, I almost burst into laughter. Who was I, and what had I done with the former shell of myself from just a few months ago, I wondered for about the hundredth time.
Once Alice left, I curled into bed and thought more about us. Was it her presence that had prompted the change, or my own exhaustion with the life I'd been living? She was so inherently good and pure; did I deserve someone like her?
I fell asleep and had nightmare after nightmare of Alice leaving me. The reason always varied, but the result was always the same heart-wrenching agony of her walking away. I woke up sweaty, covered in my own tears, and drained.
I somehow made it through Monday, zombie-like and highly caffeinated. I'd exchanged a few texts with Alice, but knew she had to focus and concentrate during the day while she did her internship with her mom and thought about the possibilities of running a studio. Jasper and I saw each other at the gym in the morning and I'd gone to lunch with Rose, who went on and on about her date with Emmett.
I couldn't remember a time I'd been so surrounded by people and love, not to mention support.
Rose told me in even greater detail how much of a jerk Emmett had been at the Sunday family brunch. I was surprised she gave him a second chance, but again, she shrugged and blew me off without a real explanation. She said she couldn't really explain it – she felt there wasn't a grand explanation, just her giving a guy a chance. There was a new lightness to her, though, and we made plans to shop Wednesday after work; she apparently needed a new outfit for her second date with Emmett the following Friday.
Before Alice came into my life, I thought my nights were full and satisfying, but as I undressed and climbed into my empty bed, I realized again how lonely it was without her there. I wondered if it was insane to ask her to move in, so I texted Jasper to ask. My phone rang ten seconds later.
"What's up, cowboy?" I teased.
"My cock," came his usual reply.
"Gross, J. Gross."
"Sorry," he said, snickering. "You asked."
"How's Edward?" I asked, switching the topic.
His voice was smug and light as he spoke. "So good," he said, humming a little. "You have no idea."
"I bet he's good. He's a pretty one."
"Smart, too," Jasper said, putting on his hick voice.
"Duh. Why do you think I hired him?"
"It wasn't just his charm and looks?"
"Hey, wanna double date on Saturday?" I asked, random thoughts scattering in my brain.
"Sure. Let me ask Edward tomorrow."
"Like you aren't tapping out a text to him right now," I replied. "God, you're so whipped. Who'd have thought, Jasper Whitlock, settled down. What comes next, two point five kids?"
"Shut it, Swan. And yeah, he's free. Let me know what Alice says. See you for another ass kicking in the morning?"
"You got it."
Talking to Jasper eased my fears a bit even though I hadn't asked about the whole moving in thing, and as I typed out my own text to Alice to ask her about Saturday night, I smiled. I realized I'd been doing a lot of that lately, and that just made the smile grow. I was turning into a sappy fuck for sure.
That night, I didn't have any nightmares.
Jasper didn't kick my ass on the racquetball court the next morning – I won all three games, and we had a great time volunteering together that night. I called Alice on my way home and did my best to control myself a little. I'd come to the conclusion somewhere in the last few days that I wanted her to know how much I wanted her – not just her body, but her mind and her heart, and I thought the best way to show her that would be to back away just a little from basically trying to fuck her non-stop.
Once I was home, I realized it was too late to call my mom due to the time difference, so I decided to make the call the following night after work.
Wednesday I met Alice and Esme for lunch at a cute bistro down the road from the warehouse Esme's office was in.
Everyone exchanged hugs, Alice adding in a kiss to her greeting, and we sat together like graceful Ladies Who Lunch. Well, maybe not exactly like that, with the way Alice and I flirted and kissed, but still. It was … weird to be with her mom there, watching us. Esme's support was interesting to experience out in public. I'd been hesitant to sit too close to Alice, but she just scooted her chair closer, lacing her dainty fingers through mine without a care in the world.
"You girls are adorable," Esme said. "When are you going to come over again?"
Alice and I exchanged a look, then laughed. I shrugged. "Whenever you'd like, Esme."
"Great!" she said. "Sunday dinner?"
"Oh, Mom, are you really still trying to resurrect Sunday dinner?" Alice groaned.
Esme waved in Alice's direction. "Shush, you. Yes I am. I need to learn more about your girlfriend."
"All you need to know is how great she is, and how happy she makes me," Alice said before turning to me for another kiss.
Alice's mother huffed, then pulled out an old school planner and wrote in the Sunday dinner plans, mumbling about telling Carlisle and Emmett to be there. I wondered if that meant Rose would get an invitation, but brushed that idea off; surely whatever it was between them was too new.
"How's your day going, working together?" I asked.
They took turns telling me all about the work they were getting done, and although the details were lost on me, I enjoyed watching them talk about each other and learning how they interacted. When it was time to go, we said our goodbyes and I held onto Alice as long as I could.
The rest of my workday was long and boring, and once I was home and changed into my pajamas, I settled onto my bed for the call to my mom.
"Oh, honey, I'm so glad you called," was my mother's greeting.
I was startled. "You are?"
"Of course I am. I miss you so much when we don't talk."
"You're so silly. Of course I do, Bella."
"Why don't you ever call me?" I asked, skeptical of what she was saying. If she missed me so much, why didn't she put more effort into it?
"I used to. You just never called me back, so I guess I stopped calling you so much. How are you?"
Just like that, she moved on. Her explanation hit me so hard, though, I couldn't seem to make the words come out of my mouth.
I'd ignored my own mother for months on end, and when I finally called her, she held no bitterness, just love and concern for me.
Swallowing the lump that had developed in my throat, I managed to eke out a small, "Good."
"Just good? Everything okay? Wait, why are you calling me? Are you sick? Do you need anything?"
"Slow down, Mom," I said, laughing. "I'm good, I promise. I'm not sick. I was just calling to check in with you and see how you are. I didn't realize … I didn't realize it had been so long."
Her voice was hopeful, as usual when it came to Jasper.
"He's good," I said. "Has a new boyfriend."
Her voice was low, wounded. "Oh.
"Well, how about your job, honey?"
"Everything's good at the firm. I'm sure Rose tells you all about that," I said. I lowered my voice at the new topic I was nervous to broach. "I have a new girlfriend."
I wanted to tread lightly, but not avoid the truth. I knew my being gay was always hard for my mom, but there had never been anyone that stuck around long enough to talk about with her.
"Yep," I said. "Her name is Alice."
"Is she nice?"
I smiled, thinking about some of her best qualities. "The nicest."
"Is she good to you?" she asked.
"So good, Mom. You'd love her."
The line was quiet for several beats, and I wondered if she would shy away from being a part of my life now that my sexuality was so blatant and unavoidable to deny.
"That's good. I'm glad you're happy."
In stark contrast to my minuscule responses, she went on for several minutes, gushing repeatedly about Phil. Her life was great, she said, and Phil was wonderful. She was having more fun than ever, and I couldn't begrudge her that. She'd loved my dad, but now he was gone and she deserved to be happy.
Before we hung up, she paused and seemed to choke up, though I couldn't be sure. She reminded me again just how much she loved me, then promised to call the following week.
The next day at work, Alice had sent me a quick email asking about our trip to Vegas. October was upon us, and she was eager to cash in our ballet tickets as well as the mini vacation she'd planned. I was knee-deep in cases, so I told her I couldn't go anytime that month, and when she suggested Thanksgiving, I told her I'd think about it. The thought of vacation, Alice, alcohol, and gambling made me giddy.
I called her Friday after work and we talked for hours – until we both had to close our eyes and go to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, I took my time getting ready for the day. I was in the shower longer than normal, and used a deep conditioning treatment for my hair. When I was done, feeling super-pampered, I got dressed in comfortable clothes and picked out my dress for dinner that night.
Alice came over around noon for a light lunch and to get ready together. When we were ready, we walked to Jasper's house and said hello to the boys. Jasper drove, and having dinner with them was as easy as if we'd been doing it for years. Conversation flowed, and Jasper talked about work while Alice relayed how her week had been and the pros and cons of her upcoming decision about her future and career.
I was surprised but not upset when Alice invited Edward and Jasper to Las Vegas with us, and not at all surprised when they enthusiastically agreed to go. Alice said she wanted to invite Rose and Emmett too, so it seemed like it would be all of us, which was great. I texted Rose and she promised to think about it, but wasn't ready to agree right then, and made it clear that even if she agreed to go, it wasn't going to be a room sharing kind of event for her.
On the drive back to Jasper's house, we all brainstormed and talked about what we could see and do in Vegas. I was looking forward to it, and I thought Alice's idea of going for Thanksgiving was brilliant. After we said goodbye to Jasper and Edward, we walked back to my place hand-in-hand, and I wondered if we'd go straight to bed. I still wanted to make it clear to Alice that she was more to me than a form of sexual release, so I decided to do my best to not attack her.
We changed and crawled into bed together, Alice in her soft and comfortable cotton tank and panties, and me in similar. The room was dark and quiet, our breathing the loudest thing I could hear, and I realized I had more questions.
"Alice, do your parents know about Brandon?"
"No," she said. "I've never told them."
"You don't plan to?"
"Not really. I just don't see what good it would do, you know? What's done is done."
I could understand that, I decided. We faced each other and I ran my fingers through her hair, smoothing the strands and exposing more of her beautiful features to me. Her eyes always seemed to enchant me, and as I stared into them, I realized she was staring back at me.
"God, I love you."
The words tumbled out as I saw so much of my future in her. I could see her belly large and round. I could see her in a white dress at the end of a long aisle. I could see picket fences and shit I never imagined I'd get. I didn't know how much of it was realistic, or why I was even thinking such things about her already, I just was. I was also still logical enough to realize I didn't need to go telling her everything I was thinking.
Alice smiled and brought her lips to mine. As our bodies tangled as our lips played, pulling and pushing against each other. Her tongue was soft and warm in my mouth, sweetly teasing me.
The fact that she didn't return my declaration didn't scare me; I wasn't used to hearing it from anyone other than Jasper and Rose, but I'd have been lying if I said I didn't want her to feel the same. She'd told me she was falling for me, but maybe that path was different for her. Maybe she didn't love me yet, and that was okay, but I knew for sure how I felt because it was so startlingly different from anything or anyone I'd experienced.
My thoughts were brought back to her body when I felt her thighs surround my leg. I'd been so wrapped up in my brain that I missed her reaching into the drawer for the Rock Chic – the toy I'd used with her that first time. When I saw it lying next to her, I raised an eyebrow.
"My turn," she said.
After some wiggling and laughter, we were ready and the lightness morphed into serious lust. Alice teased me more, sliding her body against mine and stopping just short of where I wanted her to be. Her lips and fingers teased and toyed with my breasts as my hips raised to press against her body. We moved together slowly at first, the vibrations from the toy shooting through both of our bodies.
Alice's hands continued their assault on my body, but eventually laced between my hands, resting her weight on her knees as she lifted my hands above my head. With our hands joined, she brought her body harder against mine, sliding in longer strokes, until all I could do was writhe and whimper beneath her as my orgasm shook my entire body. Her mouth descended from my lips to my neck and her breath was hot and wet against my skin as she moaned a few lustful words when her climax took over.
Neither of us had the energy to reach between our bodies and turn the buzzing off, but after a minute or so, I began to laugh with the over-sensitivity and Alice finally rolled away slightly. Once she'd taken care of the issue, she laid directly on top of me again, kissing and caressing me.
So, maybe my plan to back things off on the physical side wasn't going so great. I finally decided that our overwhelming attraction to each other maybe wasn't such a bad thing and I was just an idiot to think I could fight it. I fucking wanted her and she wanted me, and there wasn't a damn thing wrong with that.
We fell asleep shortly after, Alice in her usual spot between my breasts, our bodies fused together at every possibly spot. It was a bitterly cold night outside, but amazingly comfortable and cozy in my bed.
In the morning, I woke to the smells and sounds of breakfast. Alice brought a tray in full of food, coffee, and orange juice, and we ate together.
"Ali, I forgot to ask yesterday, what are you thinking about working with your mom?"
She hummed around a bite of pancake and reached for the cup of coffee we were sharing. "I have no clue, really. They both have such advantages and disadvantages and I feel like I might never decide. And once I do, what if I make the wrong choice?"
"Well, the good thing about that is the other option should still be open, right? There's no expiration on your mom wanting to work with you, and you can always open a studio."
Alice shrugged and made a head bobbing half-agree sort of motion.
"What time is Sunday dinner?" I asked.
"Six," she said. "What'd you have in mind for today?"
"Mmm, how about we go take a dance class together at my gym?"
She bounced in bed, eyes wide and happy. "Really?"
I laughed. "Yeah. Don't get too excited, I'm just making excuses to get you in the shower later."
Winking, I stood up and grabbed some dance clothes for us. "I looked at the schedule, if we leave now, we can catch a hip hop class."
She was behind me in an instant, pulling clothes on. "I can't wait."
The class was fun, but it was way more exciting to watch her in her element. Watching Alice dance in the club had been one thing, but seeing her pick up the routine and dance in that setting was something all together different.
The promised shower after was worth the wait.
It was nice to go to Alice's parents' house for Sunday dinner. We arrived before Jasper and Edward, and I was glad we hadn't been late again. When Jasper and Edward got there, we sat in the living room with Emmett, talking.
Once the food was ready, we sat around the table eating and interacting like any normal family. Hannah sat next to Emmett, and just like I'd thought, Rose wasn't there. After having spent lunch with Esme on Wednesday, it was amusing to see her with Edward and Jasper. She seemed to embrace and accept all of her children and I had such a hard time imagining her ever in mourning over Edward. If she could come such a long way, it gave me hope for my own mother, although I kept that thought tucked away in the deepest of my secrets.
Alice and Esme talked about our plans to see The Nutcracker in December, and our group trip to Vegas was talked about. After Alice invited Emmett, she seemed to hold in the thought that she also wanted Rose to go. I knew she was tiptoeing because of Hannah, and even though Rose wasn't like Lauren, I tried to understand.
When the food was gone, Alice, Hannah and I played in the backyard. Esme was with us, off to the side, observing. The boys had offered to clean up the dishes, so we enjoyed our freedom. Hannah ran to the slides, leaving Alice and me holding hands on the swings.
"You're going to be a great mom someday," I said.
Her beaming smile told me all I needed to know. "Do you want to have kids?"
I was surprised by her question. "Do you mean have them in my life, or give birth to them?" The truth was, I didn't really know either way, but it bought me a few seconds to think.
"Both?" she half-asked, half-clarified.
"Yeah, sure. I mean, I think I could go either way. I don't know, I haven't given it a ton of thought, to be honest. I've never met someone that even made me consider it."
The unspoken hung in the air and she squeezed my hand as she kicked higher, taking her swing beyond where I'd been. Laughing, I stood and watched her. She had such capacity to be so serious one moment and so lighthearted and playful the next.
Alice agreed to spend the night with me, since she had no morning plans, and after a quick stop at her apartment for clothes and toiletries, we watched a movie on my couch.
When I woke up Monday, I smiled and stretched, thanking my lucky stars.
The next few weeks seemed to scream past me in a blur of blissful routine. Alice began the process of opening her own studio, which took up a lot of her time. I tried not to complain, but I confess I may have pouted a time or two because I missed her so fucking much.
Casually one night, she dropped the love bomb during a phone conversation. I realized it hadn't been such a huge deal to her – she'd actually felt that way before so it wasn't a twisted mental process to arrive at the emotion. Still, it cemented our relationship even more when the words had been spoken, and I looked forward to our vacation.
Rose had declined the Vegas invitation, as had Emmett, even though they'd gone on several more dates. She was being coy with me about what was going on, and I decided to give her the space she apparently needed. It was nice to go out with her a bit more though, and remind us of how much we valued each other and our relationship.
Sunday dinners at Carlisle and Esme's had become a regular part of our week. Despite the stress and insanity of Alice's business, we always made time for the casual but important night together. Being a part of her family brought me closer to her in ways I hadn't anticipated, and I found myself bonding with Hannah and feeling a little tug at my heart when I had to say goodbye. I even began to enjoy Emmett's company.
As the night before our trip to Las Vegas approached, my bags were packed; Alice was staying the night with me. Jasper and Edward would come over in the morning and the four of us would drive to the airport together. I couldn't wait; an entire four days were mine to spend with Alice, my best friend Jasper, and Edward, whom I'd grown very close to as well. I'd planned a dinner with the four of us at the restaurant at the top of the Paris hotel, and I'd already triple checked that I'd packed away the gift I had for her.
Sleep eluded me, so I spent a few hours researching things to do while we were there. We had tickets to see Zumanity, but I wanted to figure out a few restaurants to try and other things to do sprinkled in with our gambling. When I was exhausted, I set my laptop aside and turned toward Alice's sleeping body. I placed a soft kiss on her lips and slipped beneath her arm, snuggling my body into hers, and closed my eyes.