Friday, October 26, 2012

84 THURSDAY

~Chapter 84~
THURSDAY

HE
“Hey, buddy,” Emmett greets me as I stroll into my cubicle. His cheery salutation brings me back to the good ol’ days, when we’d hang out occasionally after work and he’d point out every pair of tits that walked in the bar.

“’Sup, Emmett? I see your pile has shrunk a bit.”

“Dude, you know better than to talk about shrinkage. Bahahaha!”

I sneak a peek into the fishbowl and Rosalie is smiling and shaking her head.

“So what’s been happening down here while I’ve been toiling away in the tower?”

“Pfft, yeah right. You didn’t break a nail or anything up there, did ya?”

My back is to him as I hang my jacket on the hook and sink into my chair. “No, it’s all good upstairs.”

“Down here, too. Rosie’s been getting ready to post the position, and she wants the two of us to get our thoughts together on what we’d like to see for qualifications and job description.”

“Sure, I can help with that.”

“Good, because I know you don’t want to share our workspace with some Grade-A dweeb any more than I do.”

I’ve certainly known my fair share of those in the back rooms of corporate America. I couldn’t care less about the personality of the low guy on the totem pole, as long as he or she can do the job.

I tease Emmett, “You gonna put that in the job description?”

“Thinking about it,” he says so seriously I have to believe him. “How’s about we toss back a couple brewskies at lunch and pull something together?”

His offer is unexpected but not unwelcome. There’s a new détente everywhere—Alice and Jasper with Isabella, Rosalie and Emmett with me. Besides, I happen to know that Isabella is going out with Angela today.

“Yeah, sure, sounds good.”

“Cool,” Emmett answers, turning back to his piles.

My inbox is manageable, but my to-do folder is thick with requests and problems. I roll up my sleeves and dig in. Now that the less interesting issues have moved off my desk, I actually find myself enjoying the troubleshooting, every new case a puzzle to be solved. The hours fly by and before I know it, Emmett and I are headed to Thurston’s.

“Okay,” he says, tapping his pen on the little yellow pad he smuggled from the office, “what are we looking for in an office mate?”

I smile around the glass mug as the amber liquid makes its way down my throat. Setting my drink down, I lean forward onto my elbows and answer, “I feel like the kids in Mary Poppins who write the ad for their nanny.”

“What? You’re quoting me musicals?” he responds, guffawing into the back of his broad hand.

I shrug. “Can’t help it, my mom brought me up on Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz…”

“Let me guess,” Emmett says, quite amused now, “you have four sisters and you’re the only boy?”

I have to give him credit in the insight department. “Worse,” I huff. “I’m an only child.”

“Dude.” He nods his head sympathetically and guzzles down his beer. “So…?”

“Let’s have a guy who can do the job, first and foremost,” I suggest.

“A guy?” Emmett smirks.

“Whatever—guy, girl, I don’t really care.”

“Seriously? You’re indifferent?”

“Honestly, Emmett, it’s all the same to me. I want someone I can rely on to do what needs to be done so that you can do what you need to do and I can be where I’m really needed.”

Emmett folds his arms across his broad chest and grins. “Like upstairs in your girlfriend’s office.”

“Hmm, let me see. Would I rather be down in the dungeon telling people to reboot all day or upstairs in the presence of perfection? How much time do I have to mull this one over?”

“Haha, okay, okay,” he answers good-naturedly. “I can get behind that. It’s not like I don’t have better people—er, I mean things—to do.” He waggles his eyebrows so I’m sure to know it was an intentional “slip.”

Our meals arrive and somehow Emmett eats his baby back ribs with one hand while he takes notes with the other. “I’ll type this up and send it off to Rose. Thanks for your input.”

“Sure.” The check comes and we both toss down a twenty. “So things with Rosalie are good?”

“Yeah. She’s actually pretty great.”

His big, goofy grin draws a smile to my own face. “Well, aren’t we just one happy little IT department?”

“Exactly. And I’d like to keep it that way,” he adds, gesturing to the note pad.

“There you go then,” I tell him, pointing over my shoulder to the raging fake gas fireplace behind me.

His face scrunches into a puzzled look. “What?”

“Many thanks…sincerely,” I sing as off-key as ever, while pantomiming tearing up the pieces and tossing them into the fire. “Jane and Michael Banks.”

Emmett starts shaking his head violently the minute I start singing. When I finish, he jumps up from his chair and puts his hand firmly on my shoulder.

“Do…not…ever…do that to me again. Are we clear?”

she
“God, I’ve missed you, Bella.”

Angela’s tight hug sends a pang of guilt straight to my heart. I know she understands why I haven’t reached out again, but still, it’s not her I’m upset with; it’s her boor of a boyfriend. Beyond that, I just haven’t really wanted to tear myself away from Edward long enough to spend time with anyone else. I’m sure we’ll plateau at some point—I mean, we have to, right?—but for the time-being, he more than satisfies my every need for physical fulfillment, intellectual stimulation and good old-fashioned friendship.

Or so I thought, until Angela wrapped her arms around me and started being Angela, my best friend, my girlfriend, my past, my accepting, loving, easygoing, reliable, loyal friend. That’s when the guilt is compounded with a sense of regret, and I’m loath to admit, a serious dose of shame. My obsession with Edward is not apparent until I’m sparked in a different way by my sweet friend, and I realize with a flood of emotions what’s been absent lately.

“I’ve missed you too, Angela,” I answer, clutching her just a bit tighter than normal.

I vow then and there not to take this friendship for granted, and not to let some pettiness keep us apart.

She releases me with a knowing smile, and we follow the hostess of Brasserie Quatorze to our table and unfurl ourselves from all our winter wrappings.

“Look at us all ‘trying something new,’” Angela says with a little attitude as the hostess leaves us with menus.

“It seemed like time for a change,” I voice out loud what I’m sure she’s thinking.

“I wish I could have a glass of wine,” she says ruefully, “but that would be a terrible idea during busy season. I’ll probably be at the client until late tonight and I don’t want to be falling asleep on my workpapers.”

I wave off the idea. “I’m no good if I have a drink at lunch either.”

“So how are things with Mr. Wonderful?” she asks, after the server heads off with our orders.

“Dreamy.”

She sighs in response to my sigh, and we both burst into mad giggles.

“Damn, Bella, I am so happy for you. You’re like a whole new person since you met Edward. You’re…ugh, it’s so cliché, but honestly, you are glowing!”

I lean across the table. “Sometimes, I just randomly think about him and I smile so hard my face hurts!”

“That’s a good thing, right? The pain?” She busts out again, and I shake my head playfully.

“How’s busy season going?”

Angela smiles. “I must be a bit of a masochist, too, but I love it, Bella.” Her face lights up as she goes on. “The adrenaline rush of having so much to do in such a short time, late hours with a team of co-workers, all of us pushing together to the finish line…I just love it.”

“I can relate. Just landed a big client last week in Seattle. It felt great.”

“Congratulations. That’s great news.” We clink our water glasses to celebrate. “So…”

“Yes?” I respond, smirking at what is sure to be her curiosity about our private life.

“What do you guys do when you’re not…you know…sexing it up?” The last part is barely above a whisper and her face is all scrunched up and blushing.

“Hmm, mostly the same as everyone else. We eat and talk, he watches football…”

“Ugh. What do you do while he’s watching football?”

 “I’m actually starting to get into it a little bit,” I admit.

Angela waves her hand through the air, dismissing the idea. “Seriously, Bella. You’re never not reading.”

“I haven’t actually held a book in my hands in months, I’m afraid.”

She looks up at me, puzzled for the first time. Of all the things that seem out of character, this seems to be the one she just can’t quite reconcile. And of course, she’s right. I may not be reading, but that’s because I’ve been pouring myself into writing every spare moment I get, and if not writing, researching.

I fiddle with the napkin in my lap, running a subconscious pros and cons list through my head. I’ve kept so much of myself from everyone I love for so long, I feel as if they don’t have a chance to even know who I am. Here’s my friend—gracious and open and honestly curious and caring—and I can’t think of a reason not to tell her who I am. Really.

“I’ve been doing some writing, actually.”

Her face lights up. “You have? That’s great! What kind? Like a novel?”

“Um…not exactly.”

“Tell me!” she demands, reaching across to rap me with her knuckles.

“Ow, jeez, Ange.”

The server arrives just in the nick of time with her Croque Monsieur and my Salad Niçoise. I dig my fork into the nearest slab of tuna and make a big show of eating while Angela crosses her arms and tries to look threatening.

“Don’t quit your day job to become a domme,” I tease her.

She picks up half her sandwich and before bringing it to her lips, she asks, “Is that what you write about? All that…kinky stuff?”

“Pretty much, yeah.”

“For Edward?”

“Well, he does read my stuff, but I was posting back before I met him.”

“Posting? What do you mean?”

Whoops.

“I…um…have this pen name and I write to a website where other people read and leave me reviews.”

Taking in a big mouthful, she pauses for a second to hum and enjoy, but then she’s right back on me. “What’s your pen name?”

I regard my good friend, who is doing her best right now to look nonchalant, as if reading my innermost kinky fetish porn fantasies would be no biggie. Yeah, right.

“I can’t, Ange. I think it might burn your eyeballs out.”

She chews thoughtfully and returns her sandwich to the plate. Her face screws up in an expression that is meant to look tough but comes out looking an awful lot like hurt. “You know, Bella Swan, you’re not the only one who likes sex.”

“I know, Angela. I’m sorry; I didn’t mean it that way. It’s just that these are intensely personal ideas that I’m spilling out into my stories.”

“And letting a million strangers read, but not your best friend.”

Now I know why I never told her about this before. “It’s not a million, it’s more like a hundred,” I say, even hearing to my own ears how lame that sounds. “It’s just easier for me that nobody knows me there.”

“How do you know that?”

“Edward told me I’m safe.”

“That’s it? He says it; you believe it?”

“Pretty much,” I answer, attacking the hard-boiled egg.

“I hope he knows what he’s talking about,” she answers after a while.

“Angela,” I reassure her, “he knows exactly what he’s talking about. This is his field of expertise.”

A wry smile comes over her face. “I thought the other thing was.”

Her eyes crinkle up and she starts giggling once again. The subject is officially dropped—for now.

HE
“What did you have for lunch?”

“Tuna.”

“Good. I wasn’t going to make that for dinner anyway. How about steaks? I’m good at that,” I suggest.

“Sure. I’ll go grab a couple baking potatoes?”

“Yeah, and find something green, while you’re at it.”

She bites back her glee and heads off to produce while I wrangle us a couple of cowboy steaks. On the way to the cash register, I swing by the floral department and pick out a colorful mixed bouquet. Her face lights up when I pull the flowers from behind my back.

“What’s that for?

I shrug. “It’s Thursday.”

“Romantic.”

“You know it, baby.”

I’m fully loaded with her shoe bag in one hand and the groceries in the other, but Isabella is carrying the flowers, so it’s all manageable.

“How was lunch with Angela?”

Even in profile, I can see the smile pulling up her cheek. “It was great. I almost forgot how nice it is just to giggle with her.”

It’s good to see her so carefree. “You should do it more often.”

“I will, but…”

So much for easygoing Isabella. “What is it?”

“I won’t blame if you say no, but Angela says Garrett really wants to make it up to you.”

“Oh.” Prick’s been sleeping on the couch for three weeks now. Of course, he wants to make it up to me.

She looks my way then cringes. “Don’t worry, I already told Ange it probably wouldn’t work.”

“Why not?”

“Uh, because he was an ass.”

Sure the guy is an ass, but he’s my girlfriend’s best friend’s ass. I can see the unspoken plea in her eyes. “Isabella, this is really important to you. I’m happy to give the guy another chance.”

“You will?”

“Sure.”

“Is there a ‘but?’”

I can’t help where my head goes. “That’s a butt and an ass within minutes of each other—got something on your mind tonight, sweetheart?”

She looks over at me, incredulous. Without saying a word, she dips her nose into the bouquet and inhales deeply. “Mmm, I’m just going to stay right here while you do that thing you’re doing.”

I chuckle at her, relishing the way she “handles” me. Then I turn my thoughts to Garrett. I’m not worried about blowing my stack with him; frankly, he’s an arrogant, ignorant jerk and he can’t hurt me. It’s Isabella’s friendship with Angela that concerns me.

“Have Garrett call me.”

“What are you gonna do to that boy?” she asks, her eyes narrowing with suspicion.

“Let’s just say I’m going to pre-screen him before I let him near you again. If he passes through my douchebag filter, we’ll give him another chance…but it’s going to have to be on our terms.”

“And what are our terms?” she asks, knowing full well that our terms are my terms.

“First of all, our turf—the apartment.”

Isabella nods agreeably.

“And secondly, you and I will be in scene.”

“WHAT?” She stops walking just as we round the bend to the apartment entrance.

“Bottom line, you trust me better when we’re in scene—though we do have our issues.”

I didn’t mean that to sound accusatory, but she bites her lip and looks away for a second. “Edward, it’s one thing to scene with Marcus…”

“No, sweetheart. You and I will be in scene. Angela and Garrett will have no idea. Zero.”

I can pinpoint the exact moment her mind opens to the idea; her expression completely changes. It’s the moment she decides to put her faith in me—all the way—not just in words, but in deeds. And just as quickly, doubt clouds her face, but I realize immediately it is not me she doubts.

“What if I mess up? I’ll ruin everything.”

“You won’t. But I will be right there and I won’t give you enough leash to get tangled.” Horror crosses her eyes, and I quickly add, “Metaphorically, that is.”

“Jeez, Edward.”

“We won’t schedule it until you feel ready.”

“Do you think I’m ready?”

“Not yet. I have more work to do with you.” I wink at her, and her cheeks pink up. “C’mon. Let’s go inside. I’m hungry.”

she
“Are you sure I have time to change?” I know better than to get between Edward’s stomach and dinner.

“Go, go. This meal only takes about ten minutes to cook. I’ll set the table and turn on the broiler. You can handle the vegetables.”

I give him a quick peck on the lips. “Thanks, and don’t forget to put those flowers in cold water.”

“Yes, dear,” he sings, putting on his best imitation of the brow-beaten boyfriend we both know he’s not.

I find myself rushing to change so I can return to his side as quickly as possible, and he greets me with a delighted smile that lets me know he’s just as happy about it as I am. Edward’s cuffs are rolled out of his way as he sprinkles the seasoning onto the steaks and works it in with his fingers.

“Just like the pedicure scrub,” he jokes. I have a hard time ripping my eyes from the erotic movement of his hands over the raw meat. “Don’t you have something to do?” he smirks without lifting his eyes from his work.

“Evil,” I mutter. I scrub the potatoes under running water and poke the heck out of the little spuds with the fork before placing them on a paper towel in the microwave.

Something strikes me about the way they begin traveling around in circles. “Look how cute they are in there, just the two of them, round and round, together on their little carousel of life.”

“Are you losing it just a little bit there, sweetheart?” he asks gently, brushing past me to slide the steaks under the broiler.

“Most likely,” I answer with a long sigh. “I think you’re making me stupid.”

“Not stupid. Romantic.”

“Whatever. How about opening some wine?”

“Yes, dear,” he moans again, even worse than before.

“Poor baby,” I snort. Very carefully, I spread the sliced almonds along the toaster tray and set the oven to 200 degrees. “Do not distract me. If I forget about those, there’s no way I’m going to get you to eat the green beans.”

“That’s a pretty big long shot anyway, just so you know,” he informs me.

“You do know that boys who don’t eat their vegetables don’t get dessert, right?”

Edward hands me a glass of cabernet. “Let that open up a bit before you drink it. And don’t ever try to deny me my dessert, Isabella.”

His suddenly chilling words send their usual shiver down my spine.

“Here’s to a relaxing week,” he toasts more mildly, raising his glass. I do the same, we both clink, swirl, and sip. “Yep, needs more time,” he confirms with puckered lips.

I toss the green beans into the colander and spray cold water over the surface. Just as I pick up the handles to shake out the excess moisture, a pair of hands creeps around my stomach from behind. Edward presses his hips into my back and lets out a low, “Mmmm.” And I’m still okay, still fully capable of transferring the beans to a clean paper towel and patting them…until his lips make contact with my ear.

“Edward,” I warn.

“Hmmm?” Mr. Innocent hums.

“What did I tell you about distracting me? Did I do this to you while you were feeling up the slabs of beef?”

“That’s different,” he croons into my ear. “Beef is sacred. Beans are just…legumes.”

“No love for the legumes, huh?”

He rotates his hips and grinds against my ass. “Now here’s a food group I have loads of love for.”

“Nice segue there, babe,” I mumble, leaning into his attentions. Miraculously, the scent of the toasting almonds cuts through my haze before I burn them to a crisp. “Shit! Shit, shit, shit! You nut saboteur!”

Edward’s hands fly off me, proclaiming his innocence. “I have nothing against nuts! You know this!”

As I rush to the toaster, I hear him chuckling in the background, but one look toward the oven tells me he’s not exactly in full control of all his faculties either. “Um…you like your steak well-done, right?”

“No, I—shit! Fuck! Crap! Damn, damn, DAMN!”

The smile vanishes from his face as he grabs the remaining hot pad and retrieves the pan just in time. “You temptress! You nearly ruined our dinner with your wily ways.”

Me?” I laugh out loud. “I’d like to see the video replay on that one.”

“Hmm, video replay, eh? I like the way you think.”

Yep. I’ve done it again.

HE
“Edward, please, you sit and let me clean up for a change.”

She gives me a long, hard stare and I know it’s time to give in. “Okay, sure.”

I see the mischievous smirk the moment it reaches her eyes. “If you want to help, you can always entertain me. You know, the way I entertain you?”

In two seconds flat, I’ve unknotted my tie and tossed it across the room, along with my shirt and undershirt. Her eyes rake over my chest and she nods appreciatively. “Yep, that’ll work,” she says.

“I feel so cheap,” I tease, flexing for her before taking a seat in one of the stools at the island.

Isabella looks up at me occasionally while she scrubs the remnants of the burnt meat from the broiler pan, but she seems fairly lost in thought. “What’s going on over there?” I query.

Isabella’s eyes click up from her work as they meet mine. She’s fairly toasted from the bottle of wine we finished off, and she bites her lip as if holding back a secret. I lean across the counter to ferret out whatever she’s trying to hide. “Tell me.”

“I kind of…told Angela about my writing.”

More than anything, I want to kiss the crap out of her right now. “You did?”

She resumes scrubbing. “Yeah. I just got so tired of holding back the real me from my best friend.”

I feel a surge of pride for this woman, who has put herself out there again and again, at great personal risk. “Isabella, stop scrubbing the damn pan and look at me.”

She sets down the sponge and dries her hands on the towel, looking over for my response. “You are amazing, you know that? Every day, you take another giant step forward.”

She leans back against the counter and crosses her arms over her chest. “It felt so good to share this with her. And you should’ve seen her, Edward. She was so happy for me because she could see how passionate I am about this. She had tears in her eyes…for me.” Isabella is all choked up, and there is just no fucking way I’m keeping so much distance between us. I slip around the granite countertop and she falls into my arms.

She buries her face in my chest and inhales deeply while I clutch her against my body. One hand automatically finds its way into her hair, pulling rhythmically while I kiss the top of her head. Isabella’s soft voice wafts upward. “I feel like I’m letting people see me for the first time.” Hot tears leak onto my skin.

“You’ve been holding yourself back for so long I think maybe you forgot who the real you is.”

She lifts her eyes to mine. “I actually don’t think I ever knew before.”

Those soft chocolate chip eyes get me every damn time. I cup her cheek gently and pull her to my mouth. Her lips mold themselves to mine as we move effortlessly together without urgency, without context, and without any agenda. A kiss just for the simple joy of kissing.

When she finally pushes me back with her palm against my chest, she has a huge smile. “I love my life.”

“Do you have any idea how happy that makes me?” I feel like my face might crack in half with my own ridiculous grin.

“I think I do, yes.” Her eyes make a slow circuit from my eyes to my lips and back again.

“Okay then. Why don’t we finish these damn dishes and go have some fun?”

she
Edward weaves his fingers between mine in the kitchen and we walk together to the bedroom. The wine is only the very tip of my giddiness; being near Edward is beyond intoxicating always, and right now, I’m feeling especially vulnerable to his charms. There’s something special about him tonight—I’m not quite sure exactly what it is—but he seems more tender and appreciative than usual.

And that’s when it hits me. My plea to Master, that he help me break down my defenses, is spilling over into us. He figured it out first, naturally, but now that I’m catching up, it’s plain as day. What’s the difference whether I’m succumbing to him as Master or my insanely wonderful boyfriend? Every day I give myself over that much more, hold myself back just a little bit less. And it occurs to me in this moment of clarity, he’s doing exactly the same.

He leads me to the foot of the bed and wordlessly peels the cami over my head. When he drops his face to take my breast into his mouth, tears prick at my eyes. His thumbs whisper along my rib cage as he kisses down my belly, and I ache for him when he eventually slides my flannel pants over my hips and down my thighs.

“I love you,” he says urgently, covering my mouth with his as his fingers find their way inside me.

He swallows my cries, and I grasp his shoulders and hold onto him like a drowning victim grasping a life preserver. I press my bare chest to his as he rolls his thumb over my opening and slides his other hand behind me. I feel cradled and loved and my head swims with the stimulation at all my most sensitive points.  Before long, the pressure builds and my knees buckle and thankfully, he holds me up while I explode into his skillful, loving hands.

I whisper, “Thank you,” into his cheek, our noses sliding together in this most intimate conversation possible. There’s no hiding, not even from myself. The feeling is so liberating it shakes me to my core.

“I need you so much,” he responds, his eyes pinched with desire.

“Have me.” I go limp in his arms as he lifts my body and lays me carefully onto the bed. I’m riveted to his eyes as they linger between my thighs while he hurriedly tugs at his pants, finally releasing them and pushing out of his boxers at the same time. His swollen cock slaps against his abdomen celebrating its freedom, and he strokes himself with one hand as he knees his way up the mattress and between my legs.

He swallows thickly, and his voice catches in his throat. “Isabella—”

I lean up onto my elbows so I can see him better in the dimly lit room. “What is it?”

He reaches out and runs his fingers down the curve of my hip, grasping the flesh there and brushing his thumb across my thigh without conscious thought. “I want…”

What has him so messed up?

“Edward.” The sliver of moonlight catches the green glimmer of his irises as he meets my eyes. “What do you need?”

His jaw drops open slightly while his hand makes a slow slide around my hip, slipping into place at the mound of my bottom. The contrite expression does little to mask the raw desire written all over his body. He stares, unmoving, waiting for either permission or condemnation.

A tiny smile tugs at the corners of my lips, and I catch it between my teeth. “You know what I can handle. I love you and I trust you.”

He nods solemnly before leaning forward and pressing his lips against mine. I let my upper back slip back along the comforter and I wrap my arms around his neck, drawing his tight chest against mine. Edward’s hands become more insistent underneath me as his need presses against my thigh. A low rasp escapes him as he pushes himself away from my lips. He flexes my left leg at the knee and ducks underneath, flipping me three-quarters of the way onto my stomach. I take a couple deep breaths into the cool bed covers against my face.

Trust.

Edward’s hands find my hips, and his fingertips curl around the flesh, holding me in place while he lays his stiff length along the valley between my cheeks.

“Ahhh,” he sighs loudly, beginning to slowly rock against me. “So soffft.”

Relax.

My two globes of flesh are coaxed together, and I can feel every inch of him pressing, rubbing.

“Feels…so…gooood,” he grunts each time his thighs slap against my rump.

Feel.

My hips are guided forward and back, forward and back. Slap, grunt, slap. Fingers enter my pussy and I soak them with my juices. A palm flattens against my lower back, then the tip of his stiff cock enters me the usual way. A thumb presses over my tailbone, then lower, farther back. I meet the pressure, unafraid.

The fingertip circles, the cock thrusts forward, the thumb presses, the room fills with the sound of our combined low grunts and the thick air of anticipation.

Open.

I’m as delirious as he is, and I show him. Clambering up onto my elbows and dropping my face to the bed, I arch my back like a cat waking up after a long, satisfying nap.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” he whispers in rhythm. With each pump of his cock inside me, the circuit of that finger narrows, until finally, he slips the very tip inside me. I remember the burn, and I remember that it will pass—quicker if I don’t fight it.

Let go.

His knuckles rapping against me add another layer of texture to the mind-boggling fusion of sensations, until everything becomes too much to process and it all pares down to a singular conception—

More.

“Yesss,” he hisses. “More. More, more mooooore!” he repeats the word I had no idea I’d spoken out loud. His grasp at my back tightens; his finger knocks and twists inside me. Edward pumps furiously just before his own release, his cock pushing impossibly deeper, my pleasure spot being assaulted gloriously from both sides until I shatter around him.

He drapes his body over my back and drops his forehead onto my shoulder. “Thanks. I needed that,” he says with a dark, exhausted chuckle.

“Apparently, I did, too.” I jiggle underneath him, enjoying the full-on skin-to-skin contact.

He flops over onto his side, pulling me with him in a sweaty tangle. His lips press tiny kisses  into my back, and after a while, he mumbles, “That was all your fault, you know?”

“How do you figure?”

“All that ass talk downstairs. You did that on purpose.”

I roll onto my back, smothering him in the process. “That’s like a hawk blaming a rabbit for tasting good.”

His laughter is muffled until he pulls his head up and rests his chin on my shoulder. “Thank you for that National Geographic moment.”

“No, thank you, sweet boyfriend.”


“Good point.”

60 comments:

  1. ooh loved this! yet another layer of Bella has been peeled back...her worlds are getting closer to colliding with her confession to Angela of her writing. And with that her trust in the relationship with Edward is strengthened, their adventures at the end of this chapter further proof she's actually becoming the person she was always destined to be. And LOL on the quote. I KNOW my hubs made me stupid years ago lol. Or was that my own doing? hmmm...hehe

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    1. OH, I love your idea that she was DESTINED to be the fully actualized sub! Hmmmm. I'll have to think upon that!
      xxx

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  2. That felt autobiographical to read too, especially the lunch with Angela. I really enjoyed the celebration of the every-day and the ordinariness of love - both so deeply fulfilling and almost always under-appreciated, in both RL and fiction.
    Thank you, you're very generous with your warmth and talent. Gingerandgreen x

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    1. Thank you for your beautiful compliments. I love how you expressed the celebration of the every-day and the ordinariness of love...truly it is the day-in and the day-out that hold us together long term. You've got to really enjoy sitting down to dinner together or just laying across the couch and surfing porn! xx

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  3. As always Born, amazing! You have once again written about the most mundane aspects of their lives and shown just how the two of them are growing, expanding, and morphing into new people. Of course, in my opinion only, it is Isabella that seems to be shedding her costume through Edward's guidance and love; and now Isabella is slowly discovering the person she has hid buried deep within herself.

    It seems quite obvious that she is not ready to fully commit to her friend Angela her penname, and by doing so opening herself to potential judgement, but I do hope eventually she will feel comfortable enough to share her writing with her friend. Instead of having to keep much of who she is locked away only for Edward and some of the people she will meet through her association with him, but possibly she will be able to share the "real" Isabella with some of her close friends. That's not saying that she needs to put her whole life out on Front Street, so to speak, but maybe she will be more comfortable if she gives Angela a little peak into what makes Isabella tick--the Isabella that she is discovering through Edward.

    I was surprised that Isabella so quickly relented, when Edward stated that the next time the two couples got together that they would be in scene. Yeah, that could definitely be anxiety provoking, but instead of worrying whether Edward would embarass her, she realized that the issue at hand was the concern she would mess up and cause the embarassment. Most assuredly the work that she and Edward have been doing with regard to Isabella's complete trust and full surrender to Edward is definitely paying off. Also, I am glad once again that Edward realizes that this is not a situation that Isabella is prepared for just yet. As I mentioned in a previous review I'm not sure if it is his abilities as a good Dom or if it's love and concern for Isabella, but, then again, it could be a combination of both.

    The last few paragraphs I feel you absolutely demonstrated how Edward is also changing. Instead of always being in the mindset of the Dom, he is realizing that even with vanilla and a few chocolate chips thrown in for good measure, his desires, wants, and needs are also being met. It must be so gratifying for Edward to understand that the trust that Isabella places in him is transcending the D/s relationship, and moving into the realm of the vanilla BF/GF sphere.

    Well, once again an absolutely wonderful chapter. I have sincerely become attached to these two characters. LOL

    See ya next week.

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    1. Thank you, Claudia. I'm so happy you're feeling connected and engaged in their progress as a couple! Your comments in the first paragraph remind me of the original vision I had for this story- the Cinderella (albeit upside-down and gender-reversed) turning into the Princess, and Isabella becoming who she was meant to be. And as you so eloquently point out, Edward changing and growing into his role as Prince Charming as well.

      Always happy to surprise folks, looks like Garrett and Angela in scene have done it!

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  4. I loved Bella telling Angela about her penname. That whole lunch was such a good 'girlfriends' moment. I'm surprised about the request for the scene with Angela and Garrett and can't wait to see that play out. I agree with Edward that he has more work to do with her before that, for sure. It'll be interesting to watch her act outwardly 'normal', yet leaving things up to the M. I'm sure you'll sell it, though! :)

    Sly Edward with the butt and ass comments. I sort of think that had to go down outside of a scene. It seems like in scene, B was automatically tense and freaking. This was a sort of organic moment. And, with the wine, she was a little more loose and uninhibited. He's such a smarty pants.

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  5. "There’s no hiding, not even from myself". Best line of the chapter. She is seeing the woman she was meant to be and no longer hiding. I am happy to see them both detangling from each other and interacting with their friends and peers, while still be true to each other. Its good to love each other with such intensity but also have a world outside. Almost screwed himself with the dinner (green bean) sabotage with left me lol! Good stuff Ms. BOH!
    So what did you do to Mr. BOH to "make him stupid"? hmmmm ;)

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  6. Love this story so much! I look forward to each new post. You are an amazing writer!

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  7. Gah! I wanted to tell you how much I love this story and your characters. The dynamics that hold them together but yet continue to grow stronger every day, astounds me. Simply put, they're perfect for one another!!

    Did Isabella actually tell Angela her penname or just that she writes kinky stories? Can you imagine if Angela left a review? Buwhahaha

    In regards to the almonds, I'm just glad Bella didn't burn Edward's nuts. *shrugs*

    Looking forward to seeing what Edward has in mind for their secret scene with her friends. I'm sure he'll come up with something that blows our minds! *cheeky grin*

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    1. *Edward does some research*

      Yeah, these two are MTB, fo shizzle.
      NO, Bella did not divulge her pen name to her friend. That's a step too far.

      Thanks for your sweet notes.
      xx

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  8. As much as I love all the kink these two get into, I still love to see them be just them! It was good to see Bella and Angela be together despite Garrett. The bar scene with Emmett was fun, especially with Mary Poppins being quoted to his dismay! LOL!

    Excellent chapter my dear!

    CC

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  9. Finally, some quality time with Edward and Isabella.

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  10. So sweet, yet hot. I think if Angela and Bella grow closer once again that eventually she will let Angela read her stuff. I think having Bella meeting Garrett "in scene" will boost her confidence and if she succeeds will really show them both how much she trusts Edward. Curious to read the conversation that will take place between Edward and Garrett beforehand.

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    1. There's close and there's CLOSE, and sharing one's pen name, even with a bestie, is pretty much a NO GO. *trust me* I am curious to WRITE that conversation as well! heee heee, don't I love when I box myself into a corner?

      xx
      b

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  11. even with the amount of fanfiction i read, i almost never care about the characters this much. I want to dive in to the story and have girl talk with Isabella and maybe even witness a little E & I kinkery... haha (I could come over with marcus perhaps... wink wink i PROMISE to be a good girl for him! haha)

    this chapter really really touched me. Isabella had some all important girl time, Edward had some boy time (even if he and emmett aren't all that close..). then they had some wonderful vanilla time.

    the part where bella was telling angela about her writing- it was like reading about me and my best friend (except i dont write, and i havent told my friend yet). and then the part where she was telling E about it and got emotional- *whispers* i got emotional too. felt very personal to me. to you too, im sure. :)

    and i love love loved how proud edward was of bella for telling her friend about her writing. their connection is soo strong that E is helping her trust herself when they're OUT of scene too. she feels soo safe with him. *swoon*

    i was really surprised when E suggested that they be in scene the next time they hang out with Angela and Garrett. but i like the idea. it will force her to not worry about how the night will go, etc. all she has to do is obey master. i cant wait to see what kind of instructions he gives her for that occasion! and just how much Garrett may have changed.. haha

    and omg the sexytimes at the end of the chapter!! soo perfect. love how E got a little out of sorts.. he was so into it and soo passionate he couldnt even verbalize what he wanted. but he was still able to get the point across and Isabella was soo in the moment and trusting of him that she just let him do whatever because she knew he would only do what they could both handle. soo beautiful. i just have a soft spot for guys getting caught up like that! haha.

    and i love that they aren't gonna shy away from doing more "adventurous" stuff when they're having their "nights off." it doesn't have to be just missionary every night theyre not playing! lol. :)

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    1. Dig- I really appreciate how you let the characters weave themselves through your life and move you. Thank you for that huge compliment. I, too, love reading an Edward who is at times not all that sure of himself. He has to let his guard down sometimes, right? Thanks for your thoughtful, lovely review.xxx

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  12. This is by far the best story out there. I,too, look forward to Saturday's updates. Love Edward and his kinky mind. Thanks so much for writing!

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  13. Oh I did I tell you I love Saturdays. These guys just get stronger. Jasper-replaces-Edward

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  14. Wow...love that she gave herself to her boyfriend like that! Wonderful so worth the wait. great job!

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    1. Thanks, Pink. It's fun to let her go and trust him, when he's just being Edward.

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  15. Loved it, Born. It was nice that she spent time with Angela and opened up to her about her writing. I'm dying to hear this conversation between Edward and Garrett and I hope it works out because I'd love to see what Edward has in mind for THAT scene.

    Every chapter a bit more of Bella's defenses are worn down, and didn't she take a huge step today? She should be so proud of herself; she's finally becoming the woman she always wanted to be.

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    1. Thanks, Jayme. I love your comment at the end, especially. Yes, "she" is!
      xxx

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  16. I loved when Isabella noticed that Edward was changing too, becoming more vulnerable as well as her. It is always sweet, especially the vanilla bits, but underlying sweetness even in scene.

    Can't wait for more Angela and Garrett!

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    1. Thank you, ick. I think it's maybe the one area where Edward isn't entirely confident all the time- as a boyfriend. And it's lovely to see her so accepting of his vulnerability. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  17. I really liked this chapter. (I read all the reviews, too, because they often make me aware of something that I didn't really think about before. In fact, I must confess that my favorite line came from one of the Anonymous reviews, "In regards to the almonds, I'm just glad Bella didn't burn Edward's nuts. *shrugs*" Too funny!)

    The lunch with Angela was wonderful; I'm glad that Garrett didn't ruin that for them. Edward's idea for the next visit (if Garrett passed the douchebag test) sounds great. Master won't let Isabella down. I'm glad that Bella and Edward have such a close connection; sometimes they are so sweet that it makes my teeth hurt, y'know?

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    1. Gumi,
      I promise not to be too offended that your favorite line of the chapter came from someone's review! ;) You're right, Master will NOT let Isabella down. Sorry about your teeth.
      xx

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  18. The lines of demarcation between Master/Sub and boyfriend/girlfriend are blurring more and more in a very good way as she lets go of her own emotional barricades. I really liked this chapter and love all the layers that you have developed so subtly pulling us along and into the why nots. There's always something so interesting to consider along with appreciating the banter of their words. Loved the hawk and rabbit analogy!

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    1. Thanks so much, L. I agree that there is actually very little difference between a really effective D/s relationship and a great Bf/gf rel'p in terms of trust and honesty.

      There seem to be many layers to the prism, and I just love turning it and seeing how the light falls. Thanks for appreciating that about the story, too.
      xxx

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  19. I haven't looked this forward to Saturdays since SR stopped posting! You are his equal, thanks ;)

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  20. Loved this peek into a regular day.

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    1. Yep just another day with crazy insanely perfect Edward and the luckiest girl on the planet!

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  21. very interesting update, enjoyed edward's time with emmett, too funny
    you know they will hire a man for the job, maybe someone gay so they don't have to worry about their women

    oh sweet bella, she is putting together the pieces of herself, with the help of edward and others in her life, i hope she sees that too

    hot vanilla warm lemon there

    oh we are all stupid with our men as they are with us
    that is what makes us work well together

    them in the kitchen sounds like me and hubby
    he is handsy
    a lot

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    1. Oh a gay man? We already have a few of those in the story. How about a lesbian? HAHAHA!

      Lucky you, Char. If mr h were handsy in the kitchen, I'd probably cook a whole lot more.
      xx

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  22. You know I love the kinklyness of their relationship, but I must say I love the RL of their relationship just as much! I just love that Bella and Angela got together and that she opened up another part of her life to her! My favorite part was when she said she loves her life, that she is actually starting to feel like herself that she didn't know! That is huge and Edward has helped her in more ways than one!
    I wonder how she will do when Angela and Garrett come over with them in a scene! He is Soo creative! I must say my favorite position is the one they were just in! ;)
    Until next weekend lady B! Be safe!

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    1. So happy you mentioned the moment she decides she's really happy with her life.

      I agree E has helped her enormously, and I hope you're also seeing how she is helping him grow as well.

      Thanks for sharing your favorite position with...um...all of us!
      xx

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  23. Always look forward to you updates...I have to say normal life for these two is pretty perfect...another awesome chapter...thanks.

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    1. Yeah, not too much normal about these two! Even on a normal Thursday!

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  24. GAH! Go Bella for telling Angela. It is so scary 'coming out' but you can't hide who you are. And the leash...GOD! I about died with her thinking he'd have her crawling around on the floor with Garrett and Angela!

    You are just...

    ASS PLAY!

    I'm overwhelmed.

    <3

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  25. Finally back where I have a computer and internet access. Have been reading on my phone and typing reviews on that thing is not fun considering the novels I usually write. Plus my thumbs on a phone are just not as fast nor as accurate as they are on a keyboard, kwim?

    This chapter was nice in that Bella and Edward have a normal life that they enjoy as well. I like their well rounded-ness if you kwim. Isabella is opening up herself where she can enjoy everything and become the person that she always was meant to be. It is awesome that she met Edward who helped her with that. But she has helped him too....to open himself up to being vulnerable with someone instead of only being in the director's seat so to speak.

    I also like that she recognized that Edward wanted something, something that she had the power to give him and she did so freely. They both seem to do that for each other and that is an admirable quality in a relationship. It should be that way with all couples. Not just in the sexual arena but in all aspects of life. *sigh* I need an Edward! LOL

    Cannot WAIT to read the convo between Garrett and Edward. Not to mention I cannot wait to read the "scene" that your evil mind will come up with that Isabella and Edward will play out in front of Garrett and Angela.

    Girl time with her best friend was good. I realize that Isabella can speak freely with Edward but there is something different about chatting with your best girlfriend. My girls keep me sane and keep my husband breathing! ROTF!!!

    Can understand about Isabella not giving out her penname to Angela but honestly, what would she do with it if she had it? I mean, I cannot imagine that Angela would be anywhere near those kinds of sites so having the penname probably would not do any good. I guess it all depends on just how powerful your Google is in this fanfic! *snort* And wouldn't be something for Angela to finally read about that lifestyle, want to try it and train to be a Dom to whip Garrett's butt into shape? *smirk* Both figuratively and literally? LOL

    Happy Halloween and perhaps birthday?

    Keye

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    1. You beat me to the computer access!

      I love this comment of yours: "I also like that she recognized that Edward wanted something, something that she had the power to give him and she did so freely." YES, and thank you for point it out.

      What would Angela do with her pen name? She would go and read her kinky stories and know everything. That is an enormous step...how many of your friends know yours? It's really hard to keep it all secret though, therefore, the little baby step here.
      xxx

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  26. I love Edward's read of the Garrett situation and his motivation behind wanting to make up for his behavior- sleeping on the couch for three weeks:) That should be an interesting conversation. I can appreciate Isabella's "handling" of Edward- an important key in any relationship:)

    I loved their exploration outside of scening especially since Isabella may still see this area as failure or weakness. In this setting there didn't seem to be expectations, just love, trust, and whatever was going on in Edward's head:)

    You're awesome. I'm already counting down til the next one

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    1. I think Edward is aware that Garrett really does want to get back in Angela's good graces for every right reason, and also he probably doesn't like being an ass.

      Good point about the way Isabella might've viewed this "area" (snigger). But really, you're right, it shows growth and enormous trust.

      Thanks for pointing that out.
      x

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  27. Always love it when it is just them. Their chemistry shines through with the teasing and laughter and desire they both feel. As her trust grows so does her confidence level that she is doing what she should be doing an living the life that is right for her. What a joy for Edward to witness.

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    1. I'm just grateful that you all seem to enjoy reading "just them" and that it feels interesting after all this time. I see it as growing and changing and I love peeking in! Thank you for the lovely compliment. xxx

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  28. LOVE THIS! ---> “Sometimes, I just randomly think about him and I smile so hard my face hurts!”

    Loved B's little epiphany. Their relationship really has come so far. I love these two SFM.

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    1. Awww, thanks, Smitten! I hope you have that face-hurting thing for someone, too!

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  29. I can see how "I love my life" would make him even happier than "I love you" :o)

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  30. No your eyes aren't deceiving you! I've been away for too long and I'm so excited to read what the hub-bub was all about in chapter 94! I'm determined to read at least one chapter a day if possible!!

    Boyfriend Edward is swoony. Loved the Mary Poppins nod!!

    xo,
    me

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  31. I love the bubble they are in but wondering are they too dependent on each other?

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    1. That's not in my vocabulary and probably not in theirs either.
      Interesting how different people view the relationship, though.
      x

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