THE NEUTRAL ZONE
Our car slows at the exit ramp off 495 onto Route 27. Another forty-five minutes and we’ll be there. I try for a shift in conversation. “So, do you have any New Year’s traditions…resolution-making, reflection, general merriment?”
“I usually like to throw in a healthy dose of merriment,” she answers. “But sure, there’s always the reflection. I find resolutions are largely unhelpful.”
“Me, too,” I answer, “yet in recent years, I’ve started to approach New Year’s as a time to make amends and wipe the slate clean.”
“Do you have many amends to make this year, Edward?”
“Don’t we all?” I reflect quietly. She waits for me to offer, but I don’t. And she doesn’t push, which I really appreciate.
She scoots closer to me and kisses me gently before laying her head in my lap. I let my fingers dance through her hair and she closes her eyes, purring softly.
“Mmm,” she answers. “I’m a sucker for a moving vehicle.”
“Here, why don’t you get more comfortable?” I offer, sliding toward my window so she can stretch her legs. Her fishnet-clad legs. She turns onto her side, facing me, and I try to focus on something other than the fact that her mouth is situated right in front of…well, I try not to think about it. She pulls her knees toward her chest and I wish we had a blanket.
As her long tresses slide between my fingers, I smile inwardly at her insinuation that I’d have even the slightest interest in depriving myself of this singular joy, or of her sheer beauty. She burrows deeper into my lap and curls herself into a fetal ball. I take in her cherubic expression and her relaxed, easy breathing. My eyes can’t help but slide down her neck into the opening in her shirt. My good friend, gravity, has worked his magic and coaxed a nipple free. My left hand warms the skin at her neck before slipping over the creamy breast.
“Nnnn,” she hums softly as I roll her chilled flesh under my palm.
My only regret in this moment is that my lips can’t reach hers… or that adorable nipple. Both hands establish a subconscious tempo, leaving my mind free to wander. I’ve spent precious little time thinking about much beyond Isabella since her illicit internet activity provoked my interest just four short weeks ago and turned my life inside-out, upside-down, and ultimately, right-side up.
I cast my gaze to the vast Atlantic, my reflection superimposing itself upon the dark water in the blackened sky. It’s impossible not to feel small in the context of the infinite water, riding on the very edge of the continent. Who am I, but a pinprick in the tapestry of this universe?
What revelations will my Year in Review bring for 2011? Have I been a good friend? A good son? Have I improved myself? The Big Question: Have I made the world a better place to my fullest potential this year?
And of course, my perennial favorite, with all my dark tendencies, am I a good man?
The sweet, complicated creature in my lap has seen a glimpse of the monster that I know lurks within me, and perhaps she’s filed him away as a curiosity. Or at least she believes he’s adequately tempered, if not well restrained, by the more noble aspects of my personality, such as they are. Doubtless, he enthralls her as much—if not more—than the ‘softer’ bits, despite her trepidation.
Who knows? I silently implore my reflection. Will the eager availability of this seemingly perfect new partner serve to deepen my more sadistic tendencies? Or will the tendrils of her lofty expectations of me continue to extend their reaches into the depths of my heart and draw out with them the most tender of my inclinations?
Yes…and yes, my unblinking eyes answer me back from the depths of the ocean. The answers are already present within me; I can say with certainty that I’m more fully myself on all fronts than I’ve ever felt before. The realization stirs both a deep sense of contentment with the present and an impatient edginess for the future that makes me feel more alive than ever before.
“We’re here, sweetheart.” His voice effectively divides my restless sleep state from the here and now.
One eye blinks open to take in his downward-peering face above me, as he rearranges my blouse around the escaped flesh with a mildly guilty grin. He scoops me up and out of his lap with a hand at my neck, just in time to catch the sign for The Inn at Water’s Edge at the base of the majestic driveway.
“Wow, Edward, this place is incredible! I’ve never been out quite this far before.” It strikes me there’s a reason he knows about this place. I test the waters. “Have you…been here before?”
“Yes,” he responds immediately. “One of my friends had his wedding here a few years back, and I’ve always wanted to return.”
I’m sure the relief is written all over my face. He hastens to add, “With someone special.”
The car comes to a stop in front of the reception area. Domenic waits discreetly for our signal.
“Button up, sweetheart…” Edward gestures toward my chest, and I take the opportunity to refasten my bra and blouse. I hold out my hand for my panties, and he shakes his head. “Not a chance.”
I roll my eyes as he knocks on the partition, which Domenic dutifully lowers.
“Thank you for the smooth ride, Domenic,” Edward says.
“My pleasure. What time may I collect the two of you on Sunday, sir?”
Hmmm, curious. Domenic’s taking his orders from Edward now?
“Don’t you get time off for the holiday?” I ask.
He laughs warmly. “The younger drivers are pretty eager to take off New Year’s, and I’m happy for the overtime pay, so no worries.”
Edward asks, “Should we say wheels on the road at four, Isabella?”
“Sure. We’ll still have some time back home to get organized for the week.”
“Very good,” Domenic answers, getting out and gathering our luggage.
I briefly consider retaliating by flashing the bellhop, but that would seem the definition of cutting of my nose to spite my face…or cutting off my pussy to spite my dom…in any event, a terrible idea. The point is moot because Edward stands protectively at the door while lending me a hand. “Come with me, sweetheart. I want to show you something.”
God damn, he catches me off guard once again by shifting so seamlessly from the Dark Prince right back into Edward. He offers me my coat and wool scarf, and I dig out my gloves. Edward leads me around the structure to the expansive back porch. The full, low moon glimmers spectacularly against the night sky so far from the city that there’s nothing to dilute the stark contrast of shimmery white upon the black velvet backdrop. Now, why did my head just go right to black velvet?
“Did you plan that moon for me, Edward?”
“Of course! I motored here right after lunch and hung it up there myself,” he answers, reaching for my hand.
“God, look at all the stars. We don’t get to see any of this from the city.”
“It sure is nice to get some perspective once in a while. Thanks for coming out here with me.”
“Thanks for bringing me.”
“You can see the lighthouse from over here,” he points out the structure down the beach. “We can go ice skating there tomorrow…if we have time.”
“Why wouldn’t we? Do we have plans that I don’t know about yet?”
“It depends on whether you get all your work done.”
I pull my mouth into a frown, “So if I don’t finish the checklist, we don’t get to go ice skating?”
“Well, you don’t!”
“Hey!” I sock him in the arm. “You wouldn’t really go without me, would you?”
He chuckles and rubs his arm, “No, darling, I really wouldn’t. It’ll be a good incentive for you to finish.”
“Hmmph. As if just finishing the damn thing wouldn’t be enough incentive on its own!”
Her teeth are chattering. “Let’s get you to the fire.”
I draw Isabella toward the French doors at the rear of the building, and two doormen immediately open them for us. “Pretty good service for eleven at night,” Isabella murmurs to me.
“Only the best for my girl,” I answer, leading her over to the roaring fire on one side of the lobby furnished as a cozy living room. “Why don’t you unwrap yourself and get toasty?”
She collapses into the end of the love seat and I lean over to kiss her. “Keep my seat warm for me while I check in, would you?”
“Sure,” she teases, “unless I get a better offer.”
I look around the empty lobby. “I like my chances.”
But just in case, I keep one eye glued to her while the desk clerk manages our paperwork. I tuck the keys into my back pocket and sink into the seat next to her, wrapping my arm around her shoulders.
“Are you sufficiently thawed?”
“Yeah, but I was just thinking…you shouldn’t be paying for all this.”
“Isabella.” I send out a low warning growl.
“Edward, seriously. You won’t take a cent from me to live with you. You’ve bought me a whole slew of beautiful gifts, and clothing,” she blushes.
I place my lips just outside her ear, “You do know the clothing is for me, right?”
“Yeah, I get that,” she giggles. “But still, will you at least consider splitting the cost before you refuse me? You get full credit for coming up with the idea and making it happen. I’m starting to feel like a freeloader.”
“I do not want you to feel that way. Let me think about it, okay?”
“Ready to head up to the room?”
“Why, Mr. Cullen. Aren’t you forward?”
“Forward, backward, sideways…any which way, sweetheart.”
“Do you have to talk to me like that when I’m not wearing panties?”
“Edward, the honeymoon suite? Really?”
He waves his hand as if swatting away a gnat. “They have like eight honeymoon suites.”
He opens the door and we’re transported into a quaint Victorian bedroom and sitting room evocative of a simpler pace of living. The first thing I notice is the four-poster bed taking up most of the room. Be still my submissive heart. Next I observe there is no television in the room, nor the sitting room for that matter. Looks like we’re going to have to find other ways of amusing ourselves. Hmmmm.
While I’ve been getting the lay of the land, Edward has placed my bag in the closet on the little luggage stand, and set his own next to the bed on “his” side. Curious.
“Want to unpack now or deal with the fallout tomorrow?” he asks.
“I really hate ironing…just give me a few minutes?”
“Sure. I’ve got a couple things I should probably hang as well.”
“Here, let me,” I offer, angling closer to the mystery bag.
He puts his body between me and the bag and crosses his arms. “Thanks, just the same, but I’ll take care of it, Isabella,” he says in a steady, low voice. I’m so busted.
I hold up my hands in surrender. “Just trying to be helpful.”
“Mmhmm, and sneak a peek into the master’s bag while you’re at it?”
He’s not even gonna try and pretend it’s not his own little traveling bag of domination supplies? I turn tail and attend to my clothing. Next thing I know, I’m pondering which side of the single sink to claim for my toiletry bag. Edward being Edward, he simply grins, sets his bag down on the left, and pulls out his toothbrush.
“Are we toothpaste compatible?” he asks, holding out a tube of Crest Clean Mint Gel. I answer by digging out my Crest Teeth Whitening Formula. “Oh, what a shame,” he says. “I was just starting to think this thing between us might work, but now…?”
“Maybe there should be something on the checklist about health and beauty products,” I muse.
His eyes meet mine in the mirror in front of us, playfulness making way for intensity. “Not enough on the checklist for you?”
“Um…” Shit, he has me completely tongue-tied, not the best way to be while brushing one’s teeth.
He chuckles and runs through his own nighttime routine. My eyes are glued to him in the mirror. We’ve shared quite a bit in our week together, but not this, not our personal rituals. Am I seriously getting awkward over spitting out a mouthful of foam when he’s fucked me across the dining room table?
Wiping my mouth on the nearest washcloth, I eye the toilet. Yeah, I really need to go. Edward spits and rinses and I feel his hot stare on my reflection the entire time as I move toward the tiny room where the toilet sits. Just before I close the door, I catch his eyes in the mirror, and I swear a smirk crosses his face.
Bathroom control… Hard limit? Neutral? Desirable?
I close my eyes as I sit over the bowl. May I please use the toilet, Sir? Fuck! Does that twinge in my belly indicate my answer?
I shake my head and let loose the hot stream with an appreciation I have previously never felt toward either the freedom to urinate without permission or the excitement at having the privilege withheld. Sick, sick puppy, I chide myself. But on its heels comes a swift rebuke from Edward himself—no judgment.
Ach, enough of that damn checklist for today… I’ll deal with it all tomorrow. I pull open the door to find a very naked Edward, awaiting his turn.
I have no idea how I’m going to pee in a downward arc with my penis determined to point upward. I try coaxing him down while she’s occupying the toilet, but it’s hopeless. And when she disembarks in that damn outfit, it only makes matters worse. I step aside so she can get past me, then I stand in front of the bowl. I concentrate all my attention on killing my boner so I can get my business done, but I feel like Neo trying to bend spoons with that bald kid in the Oracle’s waiting room. “It is not the spoon that bends; it is only yourself.” Yes, I realize that, Ghandi, but I’m bending in the wrong fucking direction.
Isabella moves into the closet and turns her back to me, rolling her eyes at the fact that I’ve left the door open. Technically living in separate rooms, we have yet to breach the privacy issue surrounding certain bodily functions.
I turn my face away as she untucks the blouse from her skirt. If I’m ever going to manage to quell this boner, it’s certainly not going to happen watching her get undressed.
Come on, come on! I will my hard-on away with my go-to boner killers: The Golden Girls. Fat Bastard eating fried chicken in bed. Chicks with armpit hair. Rashes, cold sores, and unexplained oozing. Ahhhhhhhhh, sweet relief.
A quick flush and an efficient wash later, I’m in the closet behind her. Just in time to tug down the zipper of her skirt and slide it over her garter belt, the soft globes of her bare ass, the black vertical lines riding down her legs, and finally, the pumps that she is so graciously still wearing on my behalf.
And I’m hard again.
“Damn, Isabella, do you have any idea what you’re doing to me in this getup?” I growl into the tiny dip behind her knee.
“No.” She angles her chin over her left shoulder to glance down at me. “Why don’t you show me?”
I pepper kisses up the inside of her thighs, between the dark diamond-shaped stitching. “Fuuuuuuck.” I growl, grasping her firm ass cheeks in my hands. “Sweetheart, I’d really like to take you gently tonight. Can we move to the bed, please?”
“Sure,” she rasps back, reaching for her left foot to remove the shoe.
“No,” I say, clamping her wrist enthusiastically. Her mouth forms into a surprised “O” as her brows lift simultaneously. “Sorry,” I recover quickly, loosening my grip. “What I mean is, would you mind coming to bed just like this?”
“Since you asked so sweetly,” she smiles, clearly enjoying the hold she has on me.
She steps backward toward the bed, towing me along by the hand.
“So I get to watch you work these out tomorrow?” she grins, squeezing my biceps.
“Mmhmm,” I answer.
“And these?” she asks, brushing her fingertips along my abs.
“What about this part?” she asks, grasping my extremely hard cock.
“I think I’ll work that out right now.”
That comment draws a loud snort, as I picture Edward’s penis sporting a tiny little barbell, his love muscle strenuously lifting and lowering the weight.
I sink into a squat and pull him into my mouth. His surprised, “Oh fuuuuck!” makes me smile around his tip, but when he snakes his hand under the hair at the back of my neck and holds me close, his need causes me to moan and swallow him deeper. I am a complete and total pushover for Edward’s needs.
And when he starts talking filthy, I can’t work him over hard enough. My ass. My pussy. My garters. My shoes. My fishnets. My tits.
“Fuck, Isabella. Wait, wait, wait, WAIT!” He pulls my face off him and staggers backwards. “Not like this…not tonight.”
He rolls us both on top of the comforter and traps me underneath the length of his body, resting with his elbows next to my ears. He kisses me deeply, devouring me with his tongue and moaning loudly. Fuck, he is so loud!
And then he’s not.
He pulls back suddenly, blinks his eyes a couple times, and almost whispers, “Are you okay if we don’t use protection?”
“Yes,” I answer simply. Wasn’t that the whole point of the testing?
“I just want to feel you,” he murmurs into my neck as his hand roams down my body. He pets me where I’ve been needing him all night, and I practically come at his first touch. I might need to work on my control.
Orgasm control. Oh fuck…desirable. Desirable. Desirable!
“Come on, sweet thing,” he tickles my ear with his hot breath and his teeth nipping at my ear. He ghosts his hand over my clit. I push against him in desperation, and he closes his warm hand over my wet opening.
I’m panting and squealing and I’m really close. “Please, please, please,” I beg him.
“Anything,” he answers, adding just the slightest pressure with the pads of his fingers, sending me over the edge.
Before I can recover, his mouth has closed over my nipple, the tip of his tongue lapping me gently, creating a warm buzz that rides along the crest of my orgasm. I vaguely sense him rolling off to one side and coaxing me onto my belly.
He trails his palm from my shoulder blade to the garter belt, finally playing along the crease where leg meets ass. His all-knowing eyes are level with mine, our noses touching, and hot breath mingling between the pillows we’ve pushed aside. He senses my trepidation as he grows closer to my boundary, feels the clenching that lets him know he’s making me uncomfortable.
“Don’t worry,” he whispers, lightening his touch. “Just relax.”
There’s not a shred of mischief in his eyes, not a trace of the Dark Prince here in the bed with us. I blow out the tension and sink further into the mattress and Edward’s capable hands. A hint of a warm smile reaches his eyes and he captures my lips with his. My reward for trusting him.
“Close your eyes. Just let me . . .” He closes his eyes first, and I quickly follow suit. He traces his fingertip all around the area framed by the garter belt and the stockings, releasing the clips. It gets easier and easier to trust that the roving finger isn’t a threat. After a while, whenever he nears that spot, I find myself actually anticipating the soft brushstroke and, if I’m honest, looking forward to it.
How many different ways will you blow my mind, Edward Cullen?
A touch of drool slips from my mouth, waking me from my semi-hypnotic state. My eyes blink open to Edward’s intense stare. For a few more minutes, nothing moves between us but the slow, even exchange of breath and the random pattern of his finger.
Finally, his forehead crinkles with emotion and he says, “Thank you.”
His gratitude stirs me; tears sting at the back of my eyes. I don’t attempt to answer him with words, but allow a smile in response.
“I need you, Isabella,” he rasps suddenly. I have no idea if he’s speaking physically or emotionally and I’m not even sure he’d be able to parse it out. He pushes onto his knees and gives my back side a glance laden with longing. “As much as I’d love to take you this way,” he starts in an almost tortured voice, “I really need to look into your eyes tonight.”
I turn my face to the sheets below me to stifle the whimper that escapes unbidden. I’m obliterated.
Despite the intensely erotic nature of our drive and the teasing that’s led us to this point, I’m in a different place right now, and Isabella is right here with me. In many ways, this feels like our first time. We’ve set aside, by taciturn agreement, the usual edginess that normally resides in our coupling.
Here in this neutral zone, I’m just me and she’s just she. And we join together as naked and humble as Adam and Eve, pre-serpent. Or at least, we will, as soon as I rid her of the remains of the kinky accoutrements.
We work together, her hips lifting off the bed as I grasp the sides of the garter belt and coax it down the length of her stockings. Cupping her heel, I gently release first one shoe, then the other, placing soft goodbye kisses along her instep. She lifts each leg for me, graciously aiding my efforts to roll the stockings down her long, elegant legs.
And there she is, just Isabella, in all her glory. Not a shackle or spiky heel or even a collar in sight. And she’s magnificent.
She raises her arms in invitation and I crawl up her body and accept her warm embrace. Her eyes tell me she gets it. There’s no rush, no urgency, none of our usual frantic need. Tonight is about connecting, without barriers of any kind.
She clasps the back of my head and pulls my lips to hers. Though our mouths are gentle with each other, there’s a quiet desperation in the way her fingers curl into my scalp and clutch a handful of hair. And a moan that we pass back and forth between us as the intensity grows to be too much to hold in. And her eyes…well, I fear that my own eyeballs will be forever damaged to gaze into the sun at this close range.
I torture myself with one glance as I pull out of the kiss, and just as I’d feared, I will never be quite the same.
I don’t trust myself right now to tell her how perfect this all feels or how beautiful she is right now or how I’m pretty sure she’s ruined me for anyone else.
Instead, I let my body do the talking. I lavish her with gentle caresses, whose purpose is not to tease or even titillate, but merely to appreciate. With soft kisses, whose primary goal is to adore. And finally, by joining with her deeply and thoroughly, the aim not being release so much as connection.