Friday, June 1, 2012

14 REUNION

~Chapter 14~
REUNION

she
"Sorry, Miss Swan. Traffic's picked up now." So much for beating Edward back to his apartment and getting settled in before his arrival.
I lean back against the soft leather seat and close my eyes. Now that we're close to the city, my pulse quickens, my palms moisten, my stomach twists in anticipation. I find myself picturing Edward in his apartment, and I realize I can hardly wait for that moment when he opens his door and I fall into his arms. It's impossible that we've only spent half a day together, considering how entrenched he already feels in my life.
"Here we are, Miss." The driver's statement shocks me from my extremely pleasant memories. "Allow me to get your bags for you."
Before I realize it, I'm already situated in the elevator with all my belongings, rushing up to the 19th floor. An obnoxious bell announces my arrival on his floor, and the doors slide open. I check my watch nervously and realize I've got only five minutes to spare. Of course, Edward would understand if traffic delayed me, but I'm relieved I don't have to find out just how lenient my Dark Prince may or may not have been. I'm still extremely nervous about his 'corrections' and would prefer to delay that experience as long as possible.
The identical doors stretch along the narrow hallway on both sides, and suddenly, I have the sickening feeling of not being able to recall his apartment number. I briefly consider calling him, but am I prepared to admit my shortcoming? I hook my duffle over the handle of the wheeled bag, starting down the hall and hoping I might get struck by a clue. Maybe he'll poke his head out in the hallway; I am, after all, expected.
No such luck. I do, however, remember it's on the even side of the hall.
1908, 1910, 1912...1912! That's it, I suddenly remember, relief flooding me like an overly gassed engine. The year the Titanic sank! I made the connection Friday night in a fuzzy haze as he hoisted me up and over the threshold. I knock boldly on 1912, realizing with a start that I have no idea which Edward is going to greet me.
Seconds later, I'm face to face with all of them. It's becoming easier for me now to see the Dark Prince lurking just beyond Edward's beautiful gaze, and to remember that IT guy is somewhere deep within the dom. The fact that he's wearing an open flannel button down over a Guinness t-shirt goes a long way toward that visualization.
A wide, pleased smile breaks across his face and he tips his wrist to check the time. "You made it. Right on time."
HE
"Just barely," she starts, "it was bumper to bump-"
I've heard enough of the traffic report. Taking hold of both her hands, I pull her toward me and press my mouth to hers. It buzzes around in the back of my mind that I hadn't expected to miss her quite so much in the short time we'd been apart. Our sweet reunion kiss plays itself out and I step back to take a good look at my Christmas present.
"Welcome home, Isabella. Merry Christmas."
She blinks up at me and her breath catches when I mention 'home'. "Merry Christmas to you, too, Edward."
I retrieve her bags from the hallway and close the door behind us. I take her hand and pull her toward the kitchen counter. "Can I get you a drink?"
"Sure, thanks, maybe just some water?"
I turn to the cupboard and grab down a glass. "I hope you'll feel free to make yourself at home, Isabella. Anything you want or need, just take it."
She smiles broadly as I place the ice water in front of her. "Anything?"
I strongly suspect there's a conversation we need to have before "anything" happens, but that doesn't mean I can't touch her. Leaning over the counter, I cup her chin in my hand and cover her lips with mine. I can't seem to stop kissing her.
"I missed you," I confess.
"That's good," she answers with a smile.
"Listen, Isabella, what I've got planned for you is going to require your complete attention. I can't have you distracted. Do you understand?"
She nods quickly.
"You had a pretty difficult discussion yesterday. Can we talk about it?"
She takes a few gulps of water. "Okay."
"Let's take this over to the couch."
Isabella sits nervously at one end of the couch, so I give her some space and take the other end. I sit back and try to appear relaxed, though I know it will be tough to hear whatever she's about to share.
"It really was fairly awful. Not that I don't deserve it, for the way I left him on the dance floor."
She looks up, searching my eyes for something I don't have to give. Forgiveness. Absolution. I suppose her guilt will lessen with time, especially if Jasper moves on. I offer all I can, empathy for her situation.
"I'm sure it was really rough. Tell me what happened." I steel myself against my emotional impulses, so that I can be effective as her friend.
"Jasper was pretty drunk by the time I arrived, and he downed two more drinks while I was there. First thing he asked was where I'd slept."
"What'd you say?"
"I told him I stayed here."
"I imagine that would've puzzled him a bit," I muse, but not with any humor.
"Yes, well, you were right. He did think you were gay."
I can't help rolling my eyes.
"Okay, so he just thinks you spent the night with a gay friend then?"
"Not exactly," she admits. "It just kind of slipped out. I couldn't help it. The idea was so preposterous!"
I raise an eyebrow, reminding her wordlessly she questioned my orientation herself just a few days ago.
"Yeah. I know," she admits, shaking her head.
"All right, so that must've stung a bit. How'd he take it?"
"Not very well." She folds over, elbows to her knees, and holds her head in her hands. "He asked me if I'd slept with you before. I told him 'no' but I don't think he believed me."
"You can't help what he chooses to believe, Isabella."
"I get that, but I suppose, in a way, I have been unfaithful to him. Even before I met you, I locked my secrets so tightly away. I just don't believe that two people can have a real relationship with something that big standing between them."
I scoot next to her and put my arm across her shoulders. "I'm sorry this was so hard on you."
"That's not the worst of it," she says, shaking her head. "He kind of drew it out of me…about…my needs."
"Okay, it's not necessarily a bad thing that he knows. He wouldn't expose you, right?"
"I don't think so," she says. "But he was really angry that I hadn't given him the chance to rise to the occasion, so to speak."
"Oh," I start, chagrined. I think I know where this is heading. "Please tell me he didn't lay a finger on you, Isabella."
"No. He didn't. But, he threatened me. Physically. And I have to admit, I was really scared."
I squeeze her shoulder and say, "Let me guess. Now, on top of everything, you're wondering if Jasper maybe could've been the guy to fulfill your fantasies?"
She tips her head sideways and in between the curtain of her hair, she says, "I've never seen him like that before. It was truly frightening….who knows?"
"Isabella, ask yourself something. In either of the two scenes that we played out, did you ever once feel real fear toward me?"
"Of course not."
"Well, that's a good thing. Because there's no place for fear. Domming is not about scaring or bullying. It's actually quite the opposite. The idea is that you ache to please me because doing so pleases you. Not because you're afraid. You see that, right?"
"I do, but-"
"Please don't doubt yourself on this. Trust me, I've had girls come to me after trying to get what they need from the wrong guy. It isn't pretty. Your instincts were correct all along. Jasper is not equipped to give you what you need. He can't begin to understand that, but I'm pretty sure you can."
"I hear what you're saying. I just wish I'd told him all this a long time ago."
"I think you fought it pretty hard before giving in. And I give you a lot of credit. Most people would just have continued repressing their true needs and settle for what looks like happiness."
she
I know he's right, of course, but it's the guilt kicking in. I lean back into the couch and sigh. "I know I don't get to feel good about Jas, I really get that. But some stupid part of me was hoping that he knew deep down that we weren't right, and maybe he was even looking for a way out, too. That just doesn't seem to be the case. He was totally blindsided by this."
"I just don't understand guys like that. I've got to be honest, I don't have a lot of sympathy for a man so completely out of touch with your needs that he had no idea whatsoever that he wasn't meeting them."
Edward's indignation is reassuring. Was I really that good of an actress that Jasper never knew I faked it every single time? Or that it drove me bat shit crazy that he never made a single decision for us? I wonder briefly if there were signs of things he wanted that I totally missed as well.
"I suppose we both fooled ourselves into thinking our fairy tale romance was good enough, and we'd better not look too hard because we might find real problems lurking just below the surface."
He squeezes my hand reassuringly. "Spoken like a true princess."
I guffaw indelicately at his comment. "Some princess. All I could think about is how fast I could get back on my hands and knees for you." Oops. Filter?
His jaw drops for just a brief moment before he recovers, rubbing his hand across his chin to mask his response. His eyes burn with a different intensity, and we both feel the inexorable pull. When Edward finally speaks, his voice is lower, smoother. Winding down this conversation and moving toward getting down to business.
"How did the two of you leave things?"
"I told him he could have the apartment." And Alice, snarks my inner voice. "I packed up some things and left him there."
He's watching me, but I can't read his expression. It dawns on me that perhaps the reality of having a roommate with real baggage might be more than he'd bargained for. Maybe he's reconsidering the wisdom of his offer. Maybe, somewhere behind those green eyes, he's wondering just exactly what kind of hornet's nest he's gotten himself into here. Maybe—
"In that case," he says, reaching into his front pocket, "you're going to need this."
He brandishes a shiny silver disc with a raised "I", from which dangles a single key. He holds it up between us, and we sit mesmerized by the rocking motion, until finally, it stills.
My eyes move from the key to his face. He's waiting and measuring every breath I take. We've already had this discussion, so it shouldn't feel this important. But that was before I actually returned to him with my belongings in two suitcases.
"Edward, I don't know what to say. I can't thank you enough."
"Just say you'll stay here and make this your home."
I snort a little bit, "Just."
His mouth curls up at the corners. "Would you take the key already? Please?"
I reach for the metal, but end up taking his hand as well. I lower both to my lap. "Can we please talk about what this means?"
He smiles fully now. "Finally. A survival instinct kicks in. Attagirl."
His remark brings on a nervous blush. "Edward, I know there's not one tiny piece of our…togetherness that has followed a normal path. And here we are, just two days after…."
He lifts his eyebrows expectantly, not providing me with words, but listening intently.
"Well…two days after my first visit to your home. And not three weeks after meeting you. Remarkably, this feels like where I belong. But I don't want to assume…"
Help me, Edward.
HE
I curl my free hand around the back of her neck and pull her pouty, scared lips to mine. I start out with a tender greeting, but once I taste her, I need more. My tongue insinuates itself along her lower lip and begs entry. She opens automatically for me and gives me everything she can, her sweet tongue lying in wait until mine seeks it out. Soon, we're both breathless, and my mind has wandered off our topic of conversation.
It's the stabbing of the key into the heel of my hand that brings me back to the issue we abandoned. Well, I abandoned. She just let me…most willingly.
Brushing my thumb across her lower lip, I pull back, keeping our hands clasped. "It's a fair question. Let's make sure we're on the same page. I'll go first."
I haven't exactly rehearsed what I want to say, but I speak without fear, knowing I have nothing more to hide from her.
"This living arrangement can be whatever we want to make of it. The guest room is yours to do with whatever you will. Unpack. Put up paintings. Change the curtains. I couldn't care less. I don't need any help with the rent, but it would be nice to have a partner in the cooking and daily upkeep. Maybe even someone to mingle my whites with in the wash."
She relaxes a bit at the idea of our socks tumbling around together in the dryer.
"As for the rest?" I pause to take a huge breath. "I've never had a live-in sub, but I suppose I could get used to having you across the hall. We'd have to work out some kind of schedule, to be fair to both of us. I wouldn't want there to be unreasonable expectations on either side of the equation. And when we're not playing, you'd certainly be free to come and go as you please, see who you like, bring friends here, treat this as your home. "
"See who I like?" she interrupts incredulously. "You mean, as in other men?"
"As improbable as that sounds, if that's what you wanted, and it worked for everyone involved, I suppose we could try to—" 
And now that I hear the words coming out of my mouth, I know I can't possibly do it this way. "Oh fuck, who do I think I'm kidding here? I want to build a relationship with you. You already own me, and we barely know each other. This thing between us, it's…" I shake my head, at a total loss to describe what we are incubating here.
"Unique?" she supplies with a smile.
"To say the very fucking least," I agree. "But still, Isabella, take the guest room and make it your space for now. If we end up…combining our things down the road, that's great. For now, you need a place where you can be alone with your thoughts from time to time. Trust me, this can be really overwhelming sometimes."
"Do ya think?" she teases, giving me a pinch at my bicep.
"Look, I'm not asking you to sign a lease here. Get comfortable. See what happens. Let's not put a label on it. Sound good?"
"Sounds like heaven, actually."
I unclench my fingers from hers and lift my hand to our eye level. "Jesus, Isabella, will you look at that?"
Branded into my palm, plain as day, is the letter "I.”
She draws my hand to her lips and kisses over the red mark. "Poor baby," she coos.
"Well, that does it. You've got to accept now. You've already marked me."
She shakes her head lightly and laughs. "How can I argue with your logic, Edward?"
"You'll stay then?"
She looks at me as if I've just asked the most idiotic question known to man. "Well, of course, I'll stay, silly. How about helping me with those suitcases?"
She pushes up from the couch, effectively ending our discussion, and pulls me up alongside her. She turns toward her luggage, but I catch her with my hand at her waist.
she
"Wait," he commands.
"Wait? Change your mind already?" I tease.
"Not hardly. Before we go into your room, I need to know if you're ready."
"Ready for what?" He's all over the place today, even more than usual, and I can't keep up.
His eyes narrow slightly, and I swear I can feel a rush of cool air swirl around us. The same guy I was just talking to is standing right in front of me, but I can also now feel the undeniable presence of the Dark Prince.
My mouth goes completely dry.
He tightens his grasp on my waist and asks, "Are you ready, Princess?"
Another pair of panties bites the dust. "Yes, Sir."
He nods once, then releases me to retrieve my bags. He takes the heavy duffle over his shoulder, and I roll the one on wheels behind him. He reaches the room first and stops in front of the closed door. I'm confused by this juxtaposition of bellhop Edward and demanding dom, but wait greedily for instructions from either.
"I want you to freshen up from your trip. Then take off everything you're wearing and change into the outfit I laid out for you on your bed. With me so far?"
I am goo. A big puddle of useless, melty goo. Somehow I remind the muscles of my mouth to answer him appropriately, "Yes, Sir."
Seeing his effect on me, he grins devilishly and continues, "When you're ready, come down to my bedroom and kneel before the door. Hands clasped behind your head, elbows out, eyes cast downward to the bottom of the door frame. Questions?"
My heart is beating so fast it literally makes a roaring noise in my ears. I replay his words to make sure I have a good picture of what he wants, before answering, "No, Sir."
"Safe word?" he asks.

"Boggle." I feel foolish now, with this silly choice, but Edward doesn't seem to mind. He cups my chin and kisses me one last time before opening the door.

7 comments:

  1. the indentation of the i in edward's hand is definitely a sign! it's funny how they've only known each other for a short amount of time but it feels so right. sometimes life's just like that, ya know?

    i really like that edward suggested that bella take the guest room and make it her own, giving her her own space. she'a definitely going to need it but i doubt for too long. i think i was just as surprised as bella when edward suggested she could see whomever she wanted. nice try edward. ;) xox

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    1. Nice try, indeed! That lasted all of two seconds! I'm going to definitely agree with you about the length of time being irrelevant. My mister and I knew it right from the get-go. I think it was one week between our first meet and officially being together.

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  2. I'm back reading again after a long and mixed-bag of a week. I'm so happy to be falling back right into the groove reading this lovely story! The dent of her key in his hand was a cute touch! And yes, I believed that he was sincere in offering her the option of dating other men if she chose to do that. For about 3 seconds. I'm gla he came clean about that.........

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    1. Yeah, this Domward cannot tell a lie. He's seriously in touch with those feelings!
      xx

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  3. Tryin' to find where I left off back in March and this looks like the place...maybe. In any case, havin' watched quite a few Judge Judy marathons this summer, it might behoove them both to have this "I don't need any help with the rent, but it would be nice to have a partner in the cooking and daily upkeep" business put in writin' LOL!

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    1. When these two get down to contracting, it won't be over the lease! *wink*
      So happy to see you back (though no pressure to read the million-chaptered story)
      XOXO

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