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Chapter 1 April 13, 2009

"Come on Masen, you don't have to screw her, just come hang out with us." Edward
looked at Jazz and sighed as he buttoned up his light blue shirt. He turned tow
ard his locker, grabbed his watch, and buckled it onto his left wrist.
"I'm not staying long," Edward stated as he stared into his best friend's eyes.
They were two very different men from very different back grounds, but they had
hit it off the moment that they met. Jazz had been traded over to the Cubs from
the Houston Astros the year before. Edward had known who he was before the trade
but never had the opportunity to talk to him until they were on the same team.
It was then that they became great friends.
Edward was what some considered a playboy since he liked to go out and have a go
od time with the ladies but in all honesty he didn't always do the things he was
accused of. A little over a year ago he had gotten caught with two women while
out on the road and ever since then, the media had been having a field day with
him and he was getting sick of the bogus reports of all the women he was suppose
dly dating or screwing.
If only he could turn back time and take away that one night. He had been out wi
th some guys from the team and they were drinking. He swears that someone had to
have put something in his drink because he didn't remember leaving the bar with
the two women, and he sure as hell didn't remember doing anything with them, bu
t he woke up in bed with them both to a knock on his hotel room door. It was a r
eporter.
Edward tries to live a low-key life now. He has one girl that he sees whenever h
e's in San Diego, but it's definitely not a relationship, well he wouldn't say i
t is. He isn't celibate, that's for sure, though he also isn't with a different
girl each night of the week. Though he enjoys the anonymity of the one-night sta
nd, he will occasionally hang with a girl for about a week or so, but he's alway
s very private about everything. He's very discreet you have to be in his line o
f work.
Jazz is the total opposite. He hardly ever hooks up with anyone. The few times h
e has given in are due to Edward's girl in San Diego who likes to set him up wit
h friends of hers. But his lack of getting laid wasn't because he lacked the loo
ks. He was one of the hottest pitchers in baseball in more ways than one. He jus
t didn't care for meaningless sex with strangers. And now he didn't even conside
r hooking up a possibility at all. He was no longer a free agent, he'd met someo
ne.
"Not a problem. I only promised Alice that you'd be there, not that you'd stay."
Edward ran his hands through his hair as he thought about Alice. She was a prett
y little thing, not quite five feet tall, and full of energy. Jazz had met her o
ver the winter break and they had been inseparable ever since. She even came dow
n for Spring Training, annoying Edward to no end. It wasn't that he didn't like
Alice as a person it was just that he didn't think she was interested in Jazz fo
r the right reasons.
Edward didn't like the way Jazz and Alice had met and he thought she was only da
ting him because of who he was. The night they met, she had walked up to Jazz in
a bar and flat out told him that she had been waiting a long time for him. If t
hat wasn't a stalker, Edward didn't know what was.
Alice worked in retail, of all things, and that bugged Edward. She was probably
making minimum wage and saw an opportunity to bag a rich man. He'd seen too many
girls try this out on him, let alone many other guys on their team. He's tried
to warn Jazz, but he just wouldn't listen. He gave Edward the whole spiel on lov
e and sparks along with something about destiny.
To make matters worse, Jazz and Alice were now setting him up with Alice's best
friend. Edward knew he should gracefully decline, but there was something about
Jazz and his ability to influence him Edward gave in every time.
"Good game, Masen."
Edward turned his gaze to Newton, the first baseman on their team, "Thanks man,
you too." They didn't get along that well because Edward thought Mike was very d
isrespectful to women. Edward might play the field, but Mike demolished it. He w
as the kind of man-whore that the media should be warning the general public abo
ut.
Mike would get with two or three girls in a night sometimes, always using some s
orry ass lines that the girls fell for every time, and he would use them and the
n drop them so fast they never knew what hit them. Him and some other guys from
the team enjoyed betting on who they could get in the sack and what things they
could get the women to do. They even went 'hogging', where they competed to slee
p with the heaviest girl they could find. Edward thought it was disgusting that
they would treat women that way.
At least Edward always treated the women he slept with respectfully and never di
sclosed personal information of who, when, where, what nothing of the sort. Ever
ything he did with a lady was private, even Jazz didn't know much about Edward's
personal life when it came to women.
"You two heading out?" It was hard to avoid Mike. He followed Edward and Jazz ar
ound like a lost little puppy. When they are out on the road, it isn't so bad fo
r them to let him trail along, but at home in Chicago it wasn't going to happen.
"Nah, not tonight, Newton," Edward said wearily.
Jasper had turned his back to avoid having to talk with the Cubs' first baseman,
hence avoiding an awkward situation if he did find out their plans. The Cubs ha
d just won their home opener against the Colorado Rockies and a lot of the guys
were getting together at a bar somewhere downtown. Edward and Jazz would be head
ing out to a bar as well, but they were hoping to avoid the hassle of being arou
nd the rest of their single teammates.
Once Newton had left the men alone, Jazz looked over to Edward and watched as he
placed a quarter-size amount of hair gel on his hands before rubbing it through
his wild tangle of hair. His own hair could probably use a bit of gel, but he w
as itching to get out of the stadium to meet up with Alice.
"Come on Masen, quit stalling," Jasper quipped as he picked up the discarded tow
els on the floor at their feet. He strode off toward the laundry bins, leaving E
dward alone to finish getting ready.
Once alone, Edward silently thought of the evening before him. They had plans to
meet up with Alice and her friend at a bar named 'Days End' for dinner and drin
ks. If that went well, maybe they'd even dance a little. But Edward still didn't
like the idea of being set up on a blind date. He was one of the stars of the C
ubs, for crying out loud. He didn't need his best friend pimping him out as if h
e were some loser who couldn't get a date.
He looked in the mirror as he attempted to tame his crazy, auburn hair. He was d
efinitely not bad looking. He knew that by all the crazy female and sometimes ma
le fans that threw themselves at him all the time and the one thing that they al
l seemed to love about him the most was his unruly hair.
Shaking his head at his untamable locks, Edward grabbed a black beanie from his
locker and placed it on his head, covering up the one thing that made him so rec
ognizable when he was out in public. He may have to go out on this blind date, b
ut he didn't want to be noticed tonight. With the Cubs' win, the bars would prob
ably be packed, even on a Monday evening.
He grabbed his thick black leather jacket and tucked his sun glasses in one of t
he pockets before he headed out to meet up with Jazz in the long hallway. He wou
ld give his friend this one chance to set him up with this girl. Jazz had been t
alking to him about this for weeks, and as much as he fought against this very t
hing, he had gotten suckered into it.
Edward didn't date for a reason he was too well known in Chicago and since he li
ved there year-round, unlike most of the men on the team, he couldn't get away f
rom being recognized. He didn't want to date a fan. He had been there and it did
n't work out. The beginning of the relationship was good and he really liked Lau
ren, but then he started feeling used as she wanted him to meet everyone she eve
r knew and give them all tickets to the games, and then she had started asking h
im to sign things for her friends.
He didn't mind at first but after a while, he had to wonder why she was ever rea
lly into him, and unfortunately the truth hurt. Lauren liked being with Edward M
asen, the short stop for the Chicago Cubs. She liked the advantage of getting in
to restaurants and clubs that she otherwise wouldn't be able to afford let alone
see the inside of. And she liked being able to tell people that she was his gir
lfriend she got off on that shit.
So Edward had stopped dating, and decided to just enjoy the company of a woman f
or each moment. Discreetly, of course, never anything more than a few dates. Hec
k, he didn't even take them out on dates. He met them at small bars and he spent
the next week or so with them before disappearing. Since he never gave them his
phone number or brought them to his place, there was no way they'd ever meet up
with him again.
If Edward was honest with himself, he would admit that the short-term flings he
engaged in weren't the life he wanted, but it was the life he felt forced to liv
e. He did want something more at one time. He had wanted the relationship with L
auren to last, he enjoyed being in that kind of commitment. But when he realized
that she only wanted him for who he was and what he could get for her, it broke
him. How would he ever be able to trust the intentions of anyone else?
"I hope this place isn't packed tonight Jazz," Edward said as they walked down t
he long hallway towards the exit of the ball park.
"It's Monday night, most people work in the morning."
"We work in the morning too," Edward reminded him. They didn't have a game tomor
row, but they did have plans for an informal practice, and they had to be at Wri
gley Field no later than 10:00 AM.
When they made it out to the parking lot, they headed over to where their cars w
ere parked. Edward opened the door to his Volvo and waited for Jazz to drive ove
r to where he was parked so he could follow him to the bar.
"Masen! Whitlock!" Both men turned towards the sound of their names being called
. Garrett Greene, the Cubs' catcher, approached them with a newspaper in his han
ds. "Masen, did you read the article in the Sun Times this morning?"
"Yeah, I think they actually tried to compliment me," Edward seethed, "but it st
ill came out as an insult." The article was about Edward's chances of making the
All Star team this year, despite the fact that he scored off the field more tha
n he did on it. Why couldn't the media let it go? It had been over a year and he
had been extremely discreet ever since. There were other guys on the team that
led a much more robust sex life than him why weren't they after them?
"You know, there's a little truth in all gossip," Garrett teased.
"Shouldn't you be getting home to Kate?" Edward clipped, Jazz laughing at his si
de.
As they drove to the bar, Edward prepared himself for what he would walk into to
night. He really loathed the idea of being set up with Alice's friend, but he wa
s willing to pleasure her for the night and possibly more if she wasn't bad look
ing. He never asked for a description of his potential lay, he figured a surpris
e was better than trying to figure out Jazz's way of describing females.
So when Edward walked into the bar and saw a tall gorgeous blond sitting with Al
ice, he immediately assumed it was his date and he was excited. She was definite
ly beautiful, probably one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen in his l
ife. She wasn't normally his type, but that didn't matter tonight. He'd show Ali
ce's friend a good time and when she asked Alice why he never called her afterwa
rds, he'd just tell Jazz that he wasn't interested.
But as Edward approached the table where Alice and the hot blond sat, he noticed
a woman off in a corner by the bar trying to pull away from someone. The man gr
abbed her arm and yanked her forward, causing her to spill her beer. When he loo
ked up into her chocolate brown eyes, he was entranced by her beauty. She wasn't
gorgeous like the blond he was about to get lucky with, no, she had a much more
natural beauty about her she was enchanting.
She looked up with desperation all over her face and Edward felt his heart contr
act. He immediately wanted to defend her, protect her from the man whose hands t
hreatened her. He took one step toward the beautiful creature before a large bur
ley man walked over to her and pushed the man away, and then wrapped his arms ar
ound her. He leaned down and kissed the enchantress on the forehead, placed her
behind him, then laid into the man who had been harassing her.
Edward's stomach turned, realizing the woman that had mesmerized him had a boyfr
iend, and not just any boyfriend, but a large intimidating boyfriend; one that h
e had no intentions of ever having to cross paths with. Edward took a deep breat
h, shaking himself out of the daze her warm chocolate brown eyes had placed him
in, and finished his walk over to the gorgeous blond and Alice.
"Edward!" Alice's voice was piercing loud. She threw her arms around him, holdin
g him close in an embrace before pulling him to the table.
"Edward, this is Rosalie," she said while motioning to the blond bombshell in fr
ont of him. "Rosalie, this is Edward."
Edward smiled politely as he shook her hand, but his eyes caught sight of a blur
of mahogany as it dashed behind Rosalie and he turned his head to watch the enc
hanting woman from earlier disappear into the ladies room. "It's a pleasure to m
eet you," he finally said before letting go of the blonde's hand.
Edward sat down next to Rosalie and started talking with her, asking her questio
ns about where she worked and how she knew Alice. It wasn't five minutes into th
eir conversation when the enchantress's boyfriend sauntered over and placed his
large arm around Rosalie and kissed her fully on the mouth. Edward was shocked a
nd confused. He wasn't sure what was going on and he glanced at Jazz, silently a
sking who the bear of a man was.
"I'm Emmett," the huge man said as he extended his hand out to Edward, "Rosalie'
s boyfriend."
"Edward." The men shook hands while Edward contemplated Emmett's words. Rosalie'
s boyfriend? If Rosalie was with him, then who was his date? And what about the
other lady that Emmett had rescued earlier?
He didn't have to wait long to find out as mesmerizing chocolate brown eyes peer
ed at him from across the table, the enchantress had come to join them. Rosalie
immediately leaned over and whispered into the other woman's ear while giving he
r a hug.
"Are you okay Bella?" Alice reached over the table to the enchantress and grabbe
d her hand, squeezing it tightly.
"Yeah, I'm fine, thanks to Emmett," she said as she shot the burly man a thankfu
l smile.
Edward couldn't stop staring at the woman in front of him as he repeated her nam
e in his head, Bella. She was down right amazing. Her eyes were a deep shade of
chocolate brown and they shimmered from the lighting above the table. Edward lea
ned forward as he stared into her entrancing eyes, his heart thudding against hi
s chest.
"Bella, this is Edward," Alice spoke loudly as she motioned toward Edward, "Edwa
rd, this is our Bella." The way Alice said, 'our Bella' made Edward's heart cont
ract. This was someone very special to Alice and if he ever hurt her, she would
never forgive him. Then Jazz would probably never forgive him for hurting Alice.
Edward reached his hand across the table and as their hands grasped around one
another's they stared into each other's eyes.
"It's a pleasure to meet you," Bella said shyly. The way she held her head down
but looked up at him through her lashes sent a surge of desire through Edward's
body.
"It's nice to meet you too, Bella," Edward said unevenly and he was suddenly ang
ered at the soft putty he had become in her presence. No woman had ever had this
affect on him. He always held the upper hand and never did he ever get a hard-o
n over a single look from a plain Jane.
But she wasn't a plain Jane, he had to correct himself. She was far from plain.
Her endearing chocolate colored eyes shined from an inner light, one Edward had
never noticed on another person before. Her soft brown curls hung to the middle
of her back, begging to be touched and wrapped around his fingers. Her soft, pin
k, pouty lips were moist and full, imploring to be kissed. She was far from plai
n she was beautiful.
Conversation droned on at the table as all six of them drank their beer. Edward
kept stealing glances at Bella, watching her facial expressions. Her face held s
uch emotion when she listened to her friends and every time she smiled or laughe
d, Edward's pants got tighter and tighter from the desire within him.
He was sure he was going to get lucky tonight, his only worry now was that he di
dn't think one night with her would be enough. With a girl like Rosalie, one nig
ht would be more than enough, but with Bella? He envisioned a week or maybe two
weeks locked in her arms. He wanted to watch her face as he made her cum. He wan
ted to hear his name called from her lips as she moaned out in pleasure. He had
a feeling that he would never tire from staring into her expressive brown eyes.
A fun song must have come on because Alice and Rosalie both stood up, squealing
as they pulled their men over to the dance floor, leaving Edward alone with Bell
a. They sat at the table, staring at each other in an uncomfortable silence. Edw
ard was suddenly nervous and he berated himself for being so foolish she was jus
t another girl!
"Would you like to dance?" Edward liked to dance and maybe being close to each o
ther would loosen her up, she seemed awfully shy to be close friends with Alice
and Rosalie.
"No," Bella responded quietly, "I don't dance." She looked down at her hands, wh
ich were folded together on the table.
"You don't dance?" Edward asked incredulously.
"Look," Bella said sternly as she lifted her eyes to him. This was a side that s
he had yet to show and Edward liked the confident firmness she was exuding. "I'm
not sure if you've caught on," she continued, "but I think our friends are tryi
ng to set us up."
Edward just looked at her, trying hard to not show any emotion in what she had j
ust revealed. It had just dawned on him that she hadn't been told of the blind d
ate, as he had been. He wasn't worried though, all he would have to do is explai
n to her who he was and she would fall all over him like every other female in t
he Chicagoland area.
"I probably don't have to go into detail about how annoying Alice can be about t
hese things," Bella continued. "I really don't want to deal with her lectures to
night." She looked up into Edward's eyes. "What I'm trying to say is that we sho
uld pretend to enjoy each other's company. Let them think we're getting along an
d having fun. And then," she continued, "tomorrow, when they ask us about each o
ther, all we have to do is tell them that there were no sparks, or butterflies t
hey're big on that stuff."
Edward watched her fidget with the napkin in front of her on the table. She star
ted pulling at it, ripping it into long rectangular pieces. He wondered how he s
hould tell her who he was, he didn't want to come off cocky, but he knew that on
ce she realized he was one of the Cubs' star players, she was sure to have a cha
nge of heart, he just knew it.
"Do you watch baseball?" Edward asked softly.
"Baseball?"
"Yeah, you know, it's a sport. There's a small white ball and a wooden bat . . .
"
Bella rolled her eyes at him, "I know what baseball is, Edward. What does my wat
ching it have to do with anything?"
This was going to be harder than he originally thought. "Are you a Cubs or White
Sox fan?"
"Do I have to pick one over the other?"
Edward was floored. Chicagoans are very particular of the baseball teams they ro
ot for the rivalry was immense. It was rare to find someone who didn't choose on
e team and hate the other.
"You like both teams?" Edward asked incredulously, the corner of his mouth turni
ng up in a smile.
"Rare, I know," she said sarcastically, then she smiled at him, and his world li
t up. Her smile was so refreshing and beautiful. "Did you go to the Cubs game to
day?" She asked innocently.
Edward laughed loudly, "Yeah, I was at the game. Were you?"
"Yes," she smiled slyly, "we went to watch Jazz play."
Alice was suddenly behind Bella, pulling her up out of her chair, "Come on Bella
, dance with me," she pleaded.
Edward leaned back from over the table. At some point he must have leaned in tow
ards Bella, but he didn't remember doing so. Bella smiled at him and rolled her
eyes before responding to Alice.
"Al, you know I can't dance. I'll just end up stomping on your fufi shoes . . ."
"They're Prada," Alice quipped back and then she turned to Edward, "Come join us
if you want." She spoke softly to Edward and Bella didn't get to hear what she
said. Bella's head whipped around to look at him, trying to gauge what Alice had
said from his facial expression.
"Why are you doing this to me?" Bella hissed as Alice pulled her onto the dance
floor.
"Will you relax already?" Alice shot at Bella. Edward didn't hear the rest of wh
at she said, but he watched Alice smile brilliantly as she placed her hands on B
ella's waist and tried to guide her body to the tempo of the music.
Edward sat at the table watching the awkward pair on the dance floor. Alice had
good moves, but Bella, well Bella wasn't lying when she said she couldn't dance.
He laughed a little as he watched Alice try to lead her body and then cringed a
s he saw Bella stomp all over Alice's feet. As he shook his head, he noticed tha
t someone had joined him at the table a bottle blond with large breasts and too
much makeup.
"Hey there Masen," the blond purred as she ran her hand up Edward's arm.
Edward shrugged away from her, "I'd like to be alone," he spat at the blond. Thi
s wasn't something new, just a normal annoyance he had to endure whenever he wen
t out in his home town. Normally, he was more polite, but tonight with Bella pot
entially seeing him with this woman he needed to get rid of her fast.
"Come on, Eddie, I heard you like to have a good time," she slurred at him.
Elated to see Jazz standing near the bar looking at him, Edward stood up from hi
s chair and raised his arm to motion his friend back to their table. Jazz walked
slowly toward them and Edward immediately looked at the blond at his elbow, "If
you don't mind, we'd like some privacy."
Just then Emmett and Rosalie returned to the table and they both stared at the g
irl, who immediately fell shy and walked briskly away from the table toward the
bathroom. "Does that happen to you a lot?" Rosalie asked disgustedly.
"Unfortunately," Edward moaned. His eyes were back on Alice and Bella and he smi
led brightly as he saw Alice stomp her foot down and lecture Bella as she swayed
her hips seductively, trying to get Bella to follow suit. Bella's attempt made
Edward chuckle, but despite her lack in grace on the dance floor, he was still e
nthralled by her.
"I'll be right back," Edward breathed out as he placed his beer on the table and
strode away towards the dance floor.
~GO CUBS~
Bella's back was to the tables and she was very grateful because the thought of
having to see her friends watching her made her squirm. Alice was trying very ha
rd to get her to dance sexually, but she just couldn't get it down right. Alice
grabbed a hold of Bella's waist and ground her body against Bella's as she used
her hands to move Bella's body to the music.
Bella looked down at the floor or at their joined torsos as she tried hard to mi
mic her best friend's movements. She was getting very frustrated and was about t
o slam her foot down on her dear friend's fufi shoes, as Bella liked to call the
m, when she felt another set of hands hold on to her waist from behind. And then
the firmness of a warm body was pressed up against her back.
Alice smiled brightly up at whoever had joined them, took a step away from Bella
, said, "She's all yours," and then walked away. Bella froze, afraid to look beh
ind her to see whose warm hands were sending tingles throughout her body.
"Relax," a smooth voice whispered in her ear, and then his body started moving,
while his hands directed Bella's hips. She took a deep breath and tried hard to
relax as she let herself sink into the warm hard body behind her.
Edward's hands slowly trailed up her torso as he ground against her. She was fin
ally relaxing and letting her body succumb to his direction. "That's right," Edw
ard whispered in her ear, "let your body feel the music." His hands lightly grab
bed both of her wrists and slowly pulled her arms up, placing them behind his he
ad. Bella leaned her head back against his shoulder turning slightly towards the
soft lips that had sent shivers down her spine when he spoke.
Their bodies moved in unison, sensually grinding together with the ease of Edwar
d's direction. Bella had never felt so free when trying to dance. Instead of the
horridly stiff legs that she normally danced with, her body flowed smoothly wit
h Edward's to the rhythm of the music. She felt so wonderful in his arms.
When the song ended, Edward's body stopped moving and Bella turned around to loo
k up at him she was only five feet four inches, compared to Edward's six-two. "T
hank you, that was," but she couldn't find the word to finish her sentence.
"Amazing," Edward softly finished for her. She smiled up at him then grabbed his
hand and walked with him out of the sea of dancing bodies.
"That was perfect, Edward," she gleamed up at him. "Alice is going to be so happ
y now. I appreciate you playing along." Bella felt Edward's body stiffen and she
looked up to see his eyebrows furrowed together and a scowl on his face. She he
ld tightly to his hand and continued to follow him through the onslaught of peop
le, wondering what had caused his mood to change.
When they returned to their table, Edward asked Bella if she'd like another beer
. She nodded yes and then he walked briskly to the bar. Bella sat down and liste
ned to the conversations around her. Emmett was talking with Jazz about the game
and she immediately started to worry.
Emmett had been Bella's high school boyfriend back in Forks, WA, and that was wh
ere she developed her love for baseball. Both Emmett and her dad, Charlie, were
huge Mariners fans and she couldn't get out of watching the games with them. Her
mother never understood the pull that baseball had for her, because she was so
clumsy and could never play, but Bella loved it because it was a way for her to
share something with the two most important men in her life Charlie and Emmett.
A lot had changed since high school. Emmett was no longer Bella's boyfriend and
both of her parents were dead. They had died in a car accident three years befor
e, which left Bella with nothing. She didn't have any family left in Forks and t
hough she had good friends in Seattle, where she lived, she longed for the compa
nionship of her best friend, Emmett.
They were no longer dating when her parents had died, but they had kept in touch
throughout the years and when Emmett asked her to move to Chicago to be near hi
m, she didn't hesitate one bit to accept. She didn't have any notions of getting
back with him, she just needed his friendship, and she had felt so alone withou
t her parents in the world.
After moving to Chicago, Bella got a job as a research analyst in the Corporate
Intelligence department of PWC. She started on her MBA shortly after and was jus
t about to finish it, which would open up more opportunities for her in her care
er field. She was a damn good researcher and had already moved up as far as she
could without the completion of her MBA. She was looking forward to the challeng
es that lay ahead of her.
But one thing didn't change her love for baseball. She was still a Mariners fan
through and through, but upon coming to Chicago, she started watching both the C
ubbies and the Sox play. Emmett insisted that she had to choose a team she could
n't root for them both and if he had his way, she would choose the Cubs. But Bel
la enjoyed baseball so much that she liked watching both teams and she enjoyed t
he competitive natures between the fans.
One of the odd quirks about Bella though, was that the researcher in her never s
topped searching for information. She knew everything about both teams all their
players and their stats, which players were on the injured roster, which were c
oming up from the minors, best batting averages, ERA's, etc. She kept up with al
l the latest info, as well as all the gossip.
She read the sports page from both Chicago papers just as thoroughly as she read
the Wall Street Journal. She and Emmett enjoyed discussing the players and thei
r statistics just as much as the player's social lives. They had season tickets
to the Cubs four seats behind the visitor's dugout and they never missed a game,
except when Bella had classes. And though Rosalie wasn't as into baseball as th
e two of them, she joined them when she could, which added a whole new dimension
to the game. She loved watching the games, but was more into heckling the playe
rs and engaging in the not-so-friendly banter with other fans. Bella enjoyed lis
tening to her good friend go crazy so she loved it when Rosalie was able to make
it to the games.
Coming to the bar to meet up with Alice after the game today, had been a last mi
nute decision on Bella's part. Alice had been begging her to join her and Jazz,
but Bella was hesitant to delve into more of the baseball world her mother had t
ried and was miserably burned. And though Bella liked watching the games and adm
iring the players from afar, she didn't want to get to know them on a personal l
evel, they weren't the kind of people she wished to associate with. And as she h
esitantly decided to come to the bar tonight, she worried that Jazz would bring
someone from the team with him.
She liked Jazz. He was so caring and sweet to Alice and he was very nice to Bell
a, Emmett and Rosalie when they all had first met him. He was always eager to ta
lk about sports with Emmett, but Bella shied away from baseball talk around him
she didn't want him to think she was a freak. Most girls weren't into baseball a
s much as Bella was heck, most guys weren't into baseball as much as she was.
Deciding to let her world clash with Jazz's world was a hard decision, but she j
ust couldn't say no to her beautiful, pixie friend. She had met Alice at a coffe
e shop named Cosi downtown one day during her lunch break. They were next to eac
h other in line and Alice just started talking to her and they ended up sitting
with each other while they ate. They hit it off so well that they started meetin
g up for lunch as often as possible, sometimes going back to Cosi, but also hitt
ing other great spots as well. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
When Alice told her that she had met Jazz, Bella was ecstatic, but she worried a
bout her friend because he was a baseball player and if anyone read the news, th
ey would know that being on the road provided many opportunities for their heads
to be turned. And as much as Bella liked Jazz, she didn't think he was the best
thing for her pixie, especially since he was good friends with Edward Masen, th
e Cubs' wonderful playboy. The stuff she read about him was just atrocious, she
could never understand how a nice man like Jazz could ever be friends with the l
ikes of Edward Masen it baffled her.
So when Bella had walked over to Alice at the table earlier in the evening, she
was so shocked to see Edward sitting with them, she barely spoke and only stole
quick glances at the Cubs' handsome short stop. She had seen him in person befor
e but she hadn't taken the time to really appreciate him until now he was better
looking than she ever got a glance of at the games or had seen in pictures.
As the night wore on, Bella realized that Alice had every intention to set her u
p with Edward and she just couldn't have that. Under any other circumstances, sh
e would have been elated to be set up with someone as gorgeous as Edward, but sh
e knew his reputation. He was the reason she was so leery of Alice dating Jazz.
He had no respect for women and obviously none for himself as well he was a woma
nizing prick.
A cold bottle of beer was placed on the table in front of Bella and she looked u
p to see the cocky grin of the Cubs' short stop. She smiled politely up at him.
"Thank you," she whispered before taking a swig. Edward sat in the chair next to
her and draped his arm across the back of hers. The warmth from his arm emanate
d onto her back and she fought the desire to lean back to feel his arm against h
er shoulders.
Peeling herself away from the conversation, she made her way over to the bathroo
m. Once inside, she looked in the mirror and shook her head. How did you get in
this situation? She mused to herself. Of all the people that Alice could try to
set her up with she had to pick the one person Bella would never go for.
After she straightened out her clothes and fixed her hair, Bella took a deep bre
ath and stepped out of the bathroom, only to be confronted by some slimy drunk m
an. He was tall and skinny and had black greasy hair. He was definitely not Bell
a's type, not only that, he was a bit too forward. He kept putting his hands on
her and leaning in too close. Bella glanced over to her table in search of Emmet
t, but he wasn't there. Her eyes darted around the room and she found him on the
dance floor with Rosalie. Shit! She stood tall and pushed the man's hands away
from her. "Leave me alone," she said forcefully. She tried to take a step, but h
e wouldn't back off as he stepped to the side to stop her.
"Come on baby, just one dance," he slurred as he grabbed hold of her arm.
Bella pulled her arm free and was about to lay into him when a warm arm went aro
und her shoulders. She looked up to see Edward's face coming towards hers and th
en, out of no where, his lips were on hers. Bella was so shocked at first that s
he just stood there but, as his mouth moved against hers, heat soared through he
r body and she started moving with him. When she felt his tongue graze over her
bottom lip, her heart quivered and she opened up to let him in. Their tongues fo
und each other and she felt Edward groan into her mouth.
Her hands reached up and grabbed the back of his head, removing the beanie that
he had been wearing all night, as her right hand grabbed a fist full of his gorg
eous tangled hair. It was still damp from being stuffed under the hat and she ga
sped from the pleasure his silky hair gave her hand.
When Edward's lips trailed down to her neck, Bella forced her eyes to open and n
oticed that the offensive man had left them alone. She placed her hands one of w
hich still held Edward's hat on his shoulders and lightly pushed him away.
"He's gone," she rasped out in an unsteady voice.
Edward's lips didn't stop their exploration of her neck, so she pushed harder an
d spoke louder. "Edward, he's gone."
"Hmmm?"
"The skinny, greasy guy, he's gone."
Edward reluctantly pulled his lips away from Bella's neck and when she looked up
into his eyes, she was captivated. His beautiful green orbs sparkled down on he
r and her breath caught in her throat from their beauty. Inside, her heart pound
ed as something stirred deep within.
"Thank you," she said softly.
"I know it's not the way Emmett would have handled it, but . . ."
"No, its okay," she said as she let him grab hold of her hand and lead her back
to the table. "I appreciate the help, he was a real creep."
As the two of them walked back, they both noticed the new arrivals at the same t
ime and their bodies simultaneously tensed. Bella was shocked to see even more o
f the Cubs players sitting with her friends and she wanted out of the situation
fast. The last thing she wanted was to get tangled into their world or worse end
up in the newspaper as Edward Masen's latest fling.
"Hey there Masen," Yorkie called out as they approached the table.
Edward's face became stone as he stared at the three uninvited nuances. Bella kn
ew all the players that awaited them and she cringed, thinking about how annoyin
g she always thought they were. Mike Newton got up and pulled a chair over from
another table, motioning to it for her to sit. She looked up at Edward, question
ing him with her eyes, wondering why his body was so tense. When Jazz and Alice
excused themselves and headed off to the dance floor, Edward took a seat next to
Bella and placed his arm around her possessively. She didn't mind it though; it
made her feel safe, in a way.
"You gonna introduce us to your friend, Masen?" Tyler Crowley, one of the out fi
elders for the Cubs leered at Bella and it made her feel dirty.
"Bella, this is Eric, Mike, and Tyler," Edward said shortly.
Bella nodded her head at each one and then leaned in closely to Edward. For some
reason she didn't feel very comfortable around these men. She knew everything a
bout them, every statistic of theirs from the previous season and every little t
idbit of their personal lives that had been reported. As she sat and listened to
the men have a conversation, she started to wonder why the media was so fixated
on Edward being a playboy when she knew that these three were just as slutty, i
f not worse than him. She didn't know why, but the three of them made her feel s
ick to her stomach. There was just something about them; they were rude, cocky,
and disgusting with their speech. Bella shook her head as she tried to focus on
the conversation.
"Come on Masen, you want to make it a bet?" Mike was goading Edward but Bella wa
sn't sure about what.
"We'll see Newton," Edward said coolly, and Bella looked at his profile as she t
ried to gauge what was going on between the two players. She never would have gu
essed that they didn't get along until now.
"What's that?" Bella asked curiously as Edward glanced down at her and sighed.
"Edward might be able to score off the field," Mike laughed. "But on it I've got
him beat." He was way too arrogant for Bella's liking, and from what she could
remember, Mike was just as much of a player as Edward, probably even more so.
"Hmmm," Bella thought out loud, "If I recall, your average last year was barely
over .250 and you didn't do much better in spring training." Bella looked at Mik
e pointedly and leaned in towards him. "Edward had a .321 average last year and
currently has the highest batting average in the National League, I don't doubt
for a moment that he will make the All Star team in July."
Tyler and Eric laughed uncontrollably, which caught Bella's attention. "And what
are you two laughing at? You only batted .260 last year Tyler, and Eric, your E
RA could have been better it was 3.91!" Both of the men stopped laughing and all
four men stared at Bella.
Bella felt Edward's body stiffen as he took his arm away from around her shoulde
rs. She looked over at him and she saw the anger on his face. She hated that she
had been falsehearted with him earlier when they talked about the game, but she
really didn't want him to think she was some sort of crazed fan she was trying
to play it cool. She didn't even let Jazz know about her obsession with baseball
.
Bella stood up from the table and looked down at the Cubs players, who still see
med to be shocked by what she had just blurted out. "It was nice meeting you all
," she said nervously. She turned her head to look at Edward and she winced at t
he pain and anger she saw in his eyes. "Goodbye All Star," she said sadly as she
stared into his melon green eyes, and then she slowly walked out of the bar, ne
ver once looking back.
Chapter 2 April 17, 2009
Edward stretched out on the field as he watched the crowd around him. Many fans
came to the park early in order to watch their favorite players warm up and also
try for a picture or autograph. It was Friday afternoon and the second game of
a four game series against the St. Louis Cardinals the Cubs' largest rivalry, be
sides the White Sox. Since St. Louis was so close to Chicago, many Cardinals fan
s made the journey to come and cheer their team on, and he could see that today
was no different the stands were starting to show a little too much red for his
taste, even more than he saw yesterday.
Carlisle Cullen, the Cubs' second baseman, approached Edward with a smirk on his
face. "Need a hand?" He asked casually. Edward smiled and lay back on the field
lifting his left leg a little. Cullen grabbed Edward's leg while kneeling on th
e ground in front of him, and slowly pushed it up over Edward's body.
The sounds of mingling fans echoed in Edward's ears as him and Cullen partnered
up in other stretches, barely speaking a word to each other. Out of the corner o
f Edward's eye, he caught a glimpse of short brown spiked hair bouncing up and d
own in the first row next to the Cubs' dugout Alice.
Alice and Jazz hadn't been too happy to find out that Bella had left the bar alo
ne and without a word to anyone on Monday night. And of course they blamed him,
yet they didn't know what had even happened. Alice should know she's the one who
tried to set him up with a fan, of all people. Jazz had told him he knew Alice'
s friend and that she would be perfect for him had he not figured out in the pas
t year that Edward didn't sleep with fans? Well not crazy psychotic ones anyways
. He normally sought out women who had no clue about baseball, girls who didn't
know who he was it made life easier.
And then, not only was she a fan, but she lied, pretending to not know who he wa
s. She knew who he was alright she knew too much about him and the other players
. She wasn't just a fan; she was an obsessive fan the worst kind.
"You're really tense today Masen, everything okay?" Cullen was looking down at h
im with concern in his bright blue eyes.
"Yeah," Edward groaned, "just got a lot on my mind."
Both men stood and Edward bounced up and down in place a couple of times before
stretching out his arms from side-to-side. Newton ran over to join the pair and
Cullen and Masen rolled their eyes at each other.
"Masen, I think that hottie from the bar the other night has season tickets." Hi
s grin was huge, his gray-blue eyes looking over at the first row behind the vis
itor's dugout.
"Why would you think she has season tickets?" Edward asked, trying to sound unaf
fected as he glanced in the direction Newton's eyes were focused.
"She was in the same seat during Wednesday and Thursday's games, but I think she
has a boyfriend big guy too."
Edward's body tensed as he spotted the mahogany haired enchantress and boy did s
he not disappoint she looked even more beautiful than he remembered. She was sit
ting next to Emmett in the first row behind the visitor's dugout, wearing a heav
y green jacket with brown gloves on her hands and a cup of coffee pressed to her
lips as she looked out at the field. It looked to be just the two of them and E
dward wondered where Rosalie was why wasn't she with them? His body stiffened as
he remembered more lies she told him. We went to watch Jazz play. Yeah right, t
o watch Jazz play. Where did she get off?
"Clear your mind Masen," Cullen spoke from his other side, "we've got a game to
play."
Edward shortly glanced in his direction and nodded, letting him know he was focu
sed on the game, and then strode away from them both. He walked over to the dugo
ut and walked down the three steps to grab his favorite bat. After adding on a w
eight and putting on his batting gloves, he stepped out to stand in the on-deck
circle and started swinging. That was something he normally didn't do to warm up
since they always had batting practice before each game, but he wanted to be al
one.
"Edward!"
"Masen!"
"Please Masen, just one autograph!"
He heard his name called and he tried hard to ignore the screams, but they were
right behind him. Why did he think he could be alone so close to the stands? He
kicked the weight off his bat and bowed his head down not wanting to make eye co
ntact with any fans as he walked back into the dugout. He placed his bat in his
bat cubby and sat on the bench. Yeah, he was being a dick to his fans, but he wa
s still stewing over the information he had just learned Bella had season ticket
s. And they were on the first base line expensive season tickets.
Edward saw Jazz run across the field decked out in a uniform that wouldn't get d
irty and the Cubs' blue pullover jacket. He didn't go to the dugout, but to the
stands, and Edward was sure that though he would sign a few autographs, he reall
y was there to give Alice a kiss. She'd been standing there waiting for him, exp
ecting him to come to her.
Edward stared at Bella as he sat in the dugout and he wondered what sort of game
her and Alice were playing. Was Alice's relationship with Jazz part of the ploy
, or was it just a coincidence? He had to find a way to break Jazz and Alice up,
he was definitely sure she was up to no good, not with a best friend like Bella
.
Too bad Bella was so beautiful though, he thought. He really would like a night
or two wrapped in her arms and legs. God, what was it about her eyes? He couldn'
t pull himself away from them. She was on the phone and talking animatedly to th
e person as she looked at her watch. And then, she pulled out a laptop. You've g
ot to be kidding me! She was actually going to do work? Or was she checking the
mlb website, making sure she was up-to-date on the latest stats?
And speaking of work, maybe she didn't have a job not too many people could affo
rd season tickets to the Cubs when they had to miss so much work in order to mak
e most of the games. Then again, no one could afford season tickets if they didn
't have a job. But maybe Emmett paid for them, maybe . . .
Edward's thoughts were interrupted as Jazz joined him on the bench. "You okay do
wn here bro?"
"Fine," Edward clipped.
"You need to relax; we've got a game to play."
"We?" Edward asked, one eyebrow inclined as he looked at his friend who would no
t be pitching today.
Jazz chuckled as he punched Edward softly on the shoulder. "Here," he said as he
pulled out a bag of sunflower seeds, "maybe this will relax you."
As the two of them chewed on the sunflower seeds, they watched the players out o
n the field, still warming up and Edward's eyes kept roaming over to the visitor
's dugout, straying to look up at Bella. She never once got out of her seat in s
earch of an autograph or picture of any of the players at least she wasn't an au
tograph collector, he mused to himself.
"Did you know they had season tickets?" Edward asked Jazz as he nodded his head
in the direction of Bella and Emmett.
"Emmett told me he did," he shrugged. "Maybe Rosalie couldn't come today and Bel
la's using her ticket. I don't think Bella likes baseball all that much," he sai
d while Edward turned his head to stare at him. "She seems to disappear every ti
me the subject comes up."
"Don't be so blind Jazz," Edward clipped, "looks can be deceiving." And with tha
t, Edward got up and walked back into the locker room for some quiet time before
the game started.
As the players lined up for the singing of the national anthem, Edward took one
last look at the mesmerizing woman sitting behind the visitor's dugout and held
his breath. She was looking right back at him and he couldn't take his eyes off
her. As he took the field to start the first inning, he cleared his mind of the
chocolate-eyed enchantress and focused all of his energy on the game.
The game seemed to go by fast and though he was well aware of Bella sitting in t
he stands and watching him when he was up at bat, he was still able to pull off
a couple of hits and an RBI. During the seventh inning stretch, as the crowd san
g its heart out, Edward watched Bella singing and getting into the fun of the so
ng. She really was a beautiful woman, she mesmerized him. If only she wasn't a f
an.
The locker room was pretty rowdy after the game as everyone made plans to go out
. Jazz was heading out on a date with Alice, so Edward decided to hang out with
Garrett for the evening his wife, Kate, was out of town for the weekend. One of
the rookies was heading out with them as well. Edward didn't know him too well y
et, but he knew he was married, so he didn't expect him to be anything like Newt
on and his boys.
James Towne had started the last four games due to the Cubs' third baseman, Hugo
Saldana, being put on the injured list. Towne normally played Short Stop, but c
ould be used anywhere he was needed in the infield. He was brought up from the m
inors this year and played his first major league regular season game on Monday.
Edward got along okay with him, but he thought Towne's wife, Victoria, was a bi
t over the top. She relentlessly flirted with him along with others from the tea
m, and it made him feel uncomfortable. He wasn't sure if he should mention it to
Towne, or just let it go he was still considering what to do.
The three of them decided to go to a small dive bar in Lincoln Park, trying hard
to stay out of the limelight, though Edward had a suspicion that Towne would be
thrilled to end up at one of the many popular night clubs down town. They made
their way into the dingy establishment and found a spot to hang out at the bar,
waiting for a table to open up.
As they talked about the game and the upcoming season, Edward noticed that Towne
was a bit too interested in the females around them, considering he was a marri
ed man. He couldn't understand why someone would marry if they weren't going to
stay faithful and it bothered him.
When a table opened up, the three of them descended on it, staking their claim f
or the evening. And that was when the girls started approaching them. Now that t
hey weren't hidden in the corner by the bar, they had been recognized. Edward co
uld tell that Garrett was very disturbed over the attention he was receiving, bu
t Towne was openly fondling the women, which just attracted more of them to circ
le around.
Normally, Edward would shoo the harpies away, but Towne was encouraging them to
stay. Any other night Edward wouldn't even think twice about a girl that came up
to him, he liked his women ignorant of who he was, but here he was stuck with s
ome girl named Jessica rubbing up all over him.
"So Jessica, what exactly do you do?" He figured he'd make small talk with the g
irl, it was the least he could think to do.
"I'm a secretary," she giggled as she ran her hand up his chest.
Edward looked over Jessica's head to Garrett and rolled his eyes. Garrett looked
so uncomfortable and Edward felt bad for him. He leaned over her head and talke
d loudly so that Garrett could hear him over the noise of the music from the dan
ce floor.
"You don't have to stay, Green."
"You don't mind?" Garrett looked even worse as two more women came to the table,
one of them having eyes just for him.
"Take off," Edward told him. "Next time we'll hang out at my place no women allo
wed." They both laughed before Garrett stood up and ignored the woman who was ab
out to talk to him as he briskly walked out of the bar.
"Why is he such a poor sport?" Jessica slurred in Edward's ear, causing his stom
ach to turn from the feel of her lips on his skin.
He managed to pull himself away from her a little as he tried to make small talk
again, ignoring the comment she made about Garrett. "So what company do you wor
k for?" He was trying to sound interested, but all he wanted to do was high tail
it out of the bar.
"PWC," she said smugly.
"Are you here with friends?" He hoped he could find who she belonged to and dump
her back off with them.
Jessica lifted her head and searched out the bar before pointing to a table not
too far away. "I'm with a group of people from work. One of them's a huge fan, w
anna meet her?"
Edward followed her pointing finger over to a group of people sitting at a table
. There was a tall skinny girl with plain brown hair that was hanging on a guy a
little shorter than she was. There was another girl with short blond hair sitti
ng with them, and another person that he couldn't see very well because they wer
e hiding behind the groping couple.
"Nah, I'm not into the autograph thing," he replied curtly.
"Oh, she wouldn't want that anyways," Jessica slurred, "I don't think she likes
you very much."
"I wouldn't call her a fan then, would you?" Edward chuckled.
"Oh, she's a Cubs fan, I think. Well she likes baseball and goes to all the game
s anyways."
"So why don't you think she likes me?" He wasn't sure why it bothered him, but i
t did. He hadn't done anything to upset the Cubs' fans. He played hard and gave
the Cubs everything he had. He did a lot of charity work in the city and regardl
ess of what the press said, he wasn't as bad of a man-whore as everyone thought
he was.
"I'm not sure. She just wasn't too pleased with the idea of me coming over here.
She said something about regretting my decision and that you weren't worth it."
Jessica started placing kisses on his neck as he craned his head to look back a
t the table.
Edward stared at Jessica's friends wondering which one disliked him so much. He
was disgusted by the way her lips moved over his skin and he just needed to get
her off of him, so he decided to go and meet this friend of hers, in hopes to ge
t rid of Jessica. Maybe if he got in a conversation with this person, she'd get
bored and leave him alone.
But as he stood to leave the table, he got a clear view of the fourth person at
Jessica's table. She was the most striking woman he had ever seen and when she s
miled the way she was now, the whole bar lit up and Edward felt weak in his knee
s. He abruptly sat back down and Towne and Jessica glared at him in confusion.
"Is everything okay?" Jessica asked as her lips found his neck once more.
"Yeah, I just need to use the bathroom." He got up from the table without anothe
r thought and made his way to the back of the bar.
Why did she have to be here? Why couldn't he get away from the mahogany-haired e
nchantress? Was she following him? He ducked into the bathroom, hiding from havi
ng to face her again. What was he doing avoiding a small frail girl? He needed t
o man-up and just go out there and ignore that she even existed. But why did his
chest contract at the sight of her? Why did his dick harden at the thought of h
er gorgeous chocolate brown eyes? Why did she affect him so much?
Angered from the reaction she invoked in him, he strode back to the table where
Towne sat with his two women and was relieved to see that Jessica had disappeare
d. Unfortunately, she wasn't gone for long. She made her way back over to him fr
om the bar with a large pink drink in her hands.
Edward spent the rest of the evening trying to avert Jessica's advances while he
kept glancing up at Bella. He was entranced by the way she laughed, his heart b
eat picking up every time he heard her sweet giggle through the noises around hi
m. And when she looked up and caught him staring, he grew hard from the way she
gazed at him and blushed she looked even more enchanting with the natural pink b
lush on her cheeks.
When a guy wandered over to Bella's table and started talking with her, Edward s
aw red and almost jumped up out of his chair with the intent to turn the man awa
y. He didn't know where the possessiveness came from. Confused by his irrational
reaction, he decided to make out with Jessica to keep thoughts of Bella from hi
s mind. But images of her were stuck in his head he couldn't clear them away. No
t only that, but Jessica was a sloppy kisser and he couldn't stand to continue w
ith it for long. So he glared at the man that held the enchantress' attention, m
entally trying to send the man signals to leave Bella alone.
~GO CUBS~
Bella sat at the table with her good friends from work, trying hard to hide from
the handsome green eyes that kept looking over at her. All she wanted was a nic
e relaxing night out at her favorite bar with her friends. Why did he have to sh
ow up and ruin everything?
When she first noticed him walk into the bar, her heart fluttered as a sense of
warmth spread down her body and into her toes. Seriously? My toes? She knew ever
ything there was to know about him and a lot of it wasn't good. But the way he h
ad kissed her on Monday night, well, she couldn't stop thinking about the feel o
f his lips on hers or the way his tongue entered her mouth slowly and touched he
rs so sweetly. Lord, he tasted so wonderful, a mix of the beer he was drinking a
nd raspberries. Raspberries? Maybe she had just dreamt that up.
Shaking the thoughts of Edward from her mind, Bella tried hard to focus in on th
e conversation around her. Some guy named Jarrod had dropped off at their table
and kept touching her arm, her back, her hair, and even once, her face. She was
beyond annoyed with the guy and about ready to get up from the table and head in
to the bathroom when she looked up into the gorgeous green eyes again.
For someone who had a beautiful woman in his arms, he sure didn't look very happ
y. Jessica was one of the secretaries in Bella's office and she always got the m
en she wanted well for the night anyways. She was the female version of Edward M
asen a perfect match. Why did Bella feel sick to her stomach then to see Jessica
all over him? Stupid Bella, it was just a kiss. Bella's cheeks flamed red as wa
rmth spread down to her toes again from remembering his soft lips on hers.
"Bella?"
The voice belonged to the unwanted visitor at their table, Jarrod. Pulling her a
ttention away from her new favorite shade of green, Bella looked over at Jarrod
with a puzzled expression. "Huh?"
Jarrod's eyes traveled the room to follow the direction of Bella's stare and lan
ded on one of his heroes the Cubs' short stop, Edward Masen. Bella cringed in he
r seat as she saw the look on Jarrod's face, but then her spirits picked up. May
be he'll take off to talk to Edward and leave her be!
"Holy fuck!" Jarrod exclaimed as he jumped out of his seat, staring at Edward as
if he were a god.
Bella's insides turned, that was curse number sixteen. She really detested men w
ho used excessive foul language in normal conversation; it only showed a lack of
vocabulary, which was the same as a lack of intelligence in her opinion. It was
a total turn-off for her . . . well, not entirely. Foul language did have its p
lace in the bedroom. At that thought, Bella's mind strayed back to her memory of
the melon green eyes, soft moist lips, and hard muscular body from Monday night
, resulting in a pool of wetness in her panties.
Bella shot up out of her seat as she watched Jarrod make his way over to Edward'
s table. She was relieved that he finally left her alone and she practically ran
into the bathroom to cool off. She needed cold water on her hands and to start
thinking of knitting or sewing, something, anything other than Edward and the ki
ss!
Arriving back at her table, Bella noticed that Jarrod was still talking with Edw
ard and the Cubs' star short stop actually looked happy to have him there. That
wasn't expected, but she was so glad to be free of him.
Angela, her best girlfriend from work, and Ben, Angela's boyfriend, were getting
a bit too cozy the pains of going out with a friend and her new boyfriend and S
ierra, another co-worker, had disappeared. Searching the crowd, Bella finally fo
und her short blond hair bopping along to the music out on the dance floor with
some other girls. What was the lesser of two evils? Sit with Angela and Ben as t
hey groped each other or injure herself or another as she massacred the latest d
ance moves?
She could easily get lost in the sea of bounding heads, but a trip to the emerge
ncy room wasn't very appealing tonight or any night for that matter. Taking a gl
ance at the love birds, Bella knew she couldn't stay at the table with them she
was too uncomfortable around that type of display. Did he really just grab her b
reast?
Bella's eyes shot up as she realized she was staring, and they landed on the han
dsome melon green ones, again. Heat rose to her face, embarrassed that Edward ha
d caught her in her first official act of voyeurism. His eyes twinkled as he smi
led over at her and she noticed what a captivating smile he had. She had seen it
numerous times on the field, in interviews, in the paper, on the internet . . .
but to have it unleashed on her was another story. She felt every muscle in her
body relax as she stared at him.
"Excuse me," a deep voice sounded in her ear.
Bella jumped at the close proximity of the man. "Oh! I'm sorry, I, um," she star
ed at the dirty blond mop of hair atop a tall skinny man with grayish-blue eyes.
He wasn't attractive, but he wasn't poor looking either. He had a friendly smil
e, although at the moment it showed signs of nervousness too.
"I'm Brad," the deep voice boomed. The voice definitely did not match the body,
and he looked more like a 'Tim' than a 'Brad'.
"Bella," she said as she placed her hand in his.
"I couldn't help notice . . . I mean, I thought maybe . . . well, um . . . would
you like to dance?" His voice, though still deep, cracked at the end of his stu
ttered words.
"Dance," Bella stated, pondering once more the thought of joining the crowd on t
he dance floor. She looked up at Angela and Ben, then back to Brad and smiled. "
Sure, but I must warn you, I'm a horrible dancer."
Brad laughed stiffly as he held his hand out for her. Did he think she was jokin
g? Because she most definitely wasn't . . . Ah well, he'll find out soon enough.
If there was ever a sure way to rid oneself of a suitor, for Bella it was danci
ng. Most of the men she dated dumped her as fast as her foot slammed down on the
ir toes. She refused to dance with men that she really liked for that reason alo
ne. But Edward had enjoyed their dance on Monday, he had called it amazing. And
it was. It was the first time Bella ever enjoyed dancing, and he was the first p
artner she didn't torture by stomping all over his feet. Their bodies moved toge
ther perfectly.
Shaking her head once more from the thoughts of Edward, Bella followed Brad out
onto the dance floor. It was awkward. Within the first few beats of the song, sh
e had already stomped on his toes twice. He cringed as her foot made contact wit
h his for a third time and then his arms extended as he tried to hold her out an
d away from him.
Bella's eyes roamed the crowd, and once more landed on twinkling melon orbs. The
fact that he had been staring at her all night unnerved her, yet what she saw i
n his eyes now made her furious. He was laughing at her. He was laughing at her
awkwardness on the dance floor, she just knew it. How dare he? As her anger esca
lated, she somehow found herself closer to Brad's body and she trampled over his
feet in her defense, they were huge and she tripped over them and started to fa
ll. Brad's arms caught her and held her up-right, flush against his chest.
She tried to pull away from the closeness of their bodies it felt like rubbing u
p against a skeleton. His arms held her tightly though, and she was unable to br
eak free. She relaxed her body, thinking that if she let up, then he would as we
ll. She was right. When she relaxed, so did he, but his hands then roamed down a
nd cupped her ass, squeezing it as he pulled her into his hard erection. Oh shut
up!
Bella jumped away from pervy Brad, strategically dodging Mr. Bones before dashin
g back to her table. She slunk down in her seat and she hissed at her good frien
d. "What has happened to this place?"
"Are you okay Bella?" Angela disentangled herself from Ben as she leaned over th
e table to reach out and touch Bella's arm.
"Why are all the pervs flocking to our bar? It used to be fun and safe. Now I ha
ve to worry about getting felt-up every time I try to talk to someone."
"Bella?" Brad had followed her back to the table and was now standing over her.
Taking a deep breath in, Bella tried to relax her nerves. The sound of his voice
had made her so tense. "Brad, I'd like to be alone right now," she said sternly
as she looked up at his hovering presence.
"Is everything okay? Did I do something wrong?"
Bella was speechless. Did he do something wrong? For real? Leaning over the tabl
e, Bella hugged Angela in a tight embrace as she whispered a goodbye in her ear
and then kissed her cheek. She then stood up and backed away from the table, tur
ning the opposite way from Brad. Without acknowledging his presence or questions
, she strode toward the door of the bar she was going home.
She made it half way across the room before Brad's hand reached out and grabbed
her arm, pulling her around to face him. "Bella, I'm sorry. Whatever I did, I'm
sorry. Please stay, I promise to not make you dance again." He had started to be
g, which just disgusted Bella more.
Before she could bark out a retort, strong arms encircled her waist from behind
as soft lips placed tender kisses along her neck. Bella didn't have to guess who
the arms and lips belonged to. Her body responded to him the same way it had on
Monday night when he rescued her the first time.
"Who are you?" Brad demanded.
Edward's lips never left her skin. He ignored pervy Brad as his hands pulled Bel
la's back closer into his chest. Bella brought one of her arms up and placed it
behind Edward's head, linking her fingers into his silky auburn hair while he su
cked and licked on her skin behind her ear. The feelings running through Bella's
body were sensational. No man had ever made her feel that way too bad it was al
l a show.
Snapping out of her euphoria, Bella pinned her eyes on Brad's. "This is my boyfr
iend, Edward," she said without any hesitation. As she finished her words, Edwar
d's head snapped up and he lifted one of his hands in an offer of a handshake to
the perv.
"Boyfriend?" Brad asked confused. "Why were you dancing with me?"
"You asked?" Bella said questioningly.
"That would be my fault," Edward jumped in, "you see, I did something to make he
r mad, she was just paying me back." He looked down at Bella then, who had turne
d her head to stare up at him, "right love?"
"Right," Bella said uncertainly and then she turned her attention back to the pe
rv. "I'm sorry I used you like that Brad." She tried to make her apology sound s
incere, but she was still too anxious from being in Edward's arms.
After a few minutes of staring at Bella and Edward, which neither were sure if h
e recognized the later, Brad walked away with his head down. Bella turned around
as Edward's arms loosened their hold on her, but they didn't let go of her wais
t.
"Thank you," Bella said shyly, not sure why his arms were still around her. "I s
hould really get going."
"I'll walk you out." Edward kept his left hand on the small of Bella's back as h
e led her through the rest of the bar, out the door, and into the cool April nig
ht.
Bella was unsure of what to do. He said he would walk her out, yet he kept his a
rm around her as they walked down the sidewalk away from the bar. She stopped wa
lking a few yards away and turned to look at him.
"I appreciate you jumping in to help me again," she stammered. "That makes three
times now. I'll have to find a way to pay you back."
"Three times?"
"Monday night at 'Days End', and then tonight with Jarrod and Brad." Bella was s
ure that if it weren't for the fact that Jarrod had recognized Edward, she would
've been stuck with him the whole night.
"Jarrod," Edward sighed, but then he started to chuckle softly. "You have a way
with guys."
There was warmth in his eyes as he quietly laughed at his own joke, and as much
as Bella wasn't a fan of his, she felt her heart soften towards him. Regardless
of how he might treat other women, he hadn't once been inappropriate with her, a
nd as much as she'd hate to admit it, she actually enjoyed his company.
"I'm sorry to pull you away from your friend and Jessica. I'll be okay if you'd
like to go back." Her heart ached at the thought of him kissing Jessica, and she
closed her eyes briefly to fight the urge to beg him to stay and not go back in
.
"My friend?" he asked. "You don't know who he is?"
Bella exhaled loudly, annoyed with him. Of course she knew who he was; he was pl
aying third base in place of Saldana while he was on the injured roster. But he
didn't need to know that she knew. She found out on Monday that he wasn't fond o
f women knowing anything about baseball typical man.
Edward laughed eerily as he watched her face contort with her thoughts. "Of cour
se you know who he is," he bit at her. "Come on, I'll walk you home."
"That's unnecessary," Bella retorted.
"Maybe," he smiled at her, "but what kind of gentleman would I be if I didn't wa
lk my girlfriend home?" He was obviously playing with her and Bella didn't know
how to take him. One minute he seemed annoyed with her and then the next thing s
he knew, he was teasing her. He was an enigma.
The air between them was awkward as she nervously walked beside Edward down the
dark street toward her home. Why did he want to walk her home? Would he be expec
ting something when they got there? He did have a reputation, and with the way h
er body reacted to his touch, maybe he had the wrong impression of her. She trie
d to push the thoughts from her mind. She wouldn't allow anything to happen. If
nothing else, he did seem like a gentleman, sort of in a weird way.
"So," Edward began, "how did you get into baseball?"
"Emmett and my dad," Bella replied automatically. "They were constantly watching
the Mariners and if I wanted to be around them, I had to deal with their obsess
ion with baseball." She paused a moment as she remembered how bored she was when
she first started watching the games with them. Everything changed though after
they took her to her first Mariners game that was when she really fell in love
with the sport. "How about you?" Stupid question, she already knew the answer.
A little smirk formed on Edward's face, "why do I get the impression you already
know how I got into baseball?"
"Well, I know that your dad played in college, but he chose a career as an attor
ney instead of playing for the Dodgers when he graduated. You've played ever sin
ce you were four, never missing a season." When he started to chuckle, Bella rem
embered the injury he suffered in college. "Except for your sophomore year in co
llege, you pulled your groin muscle and sat out most of the season."
She really did know too much about him, and now, as she thought about it, she wo
ndered why he'd even want to be alone with her. She sounded like a stalker. She
knew everything there was to know about him, he was crazy to not think badly of
her.
"I'm sorry," Bella said softly, "maybe we shouldn't talk about baseball. I seem
to have an unhealthy obsession with it."
"I wonder why that is," Edward mused quietly as he stared at the street in front
of them.
"I have an addictive personality," she said matter-of-factly. "When I'm interest
ed in something, I go crazy researching everything there is to know about it. I
love details and facts. I gather all the information I can and then I analyze it
, memorizing everything I can. It's sick, I know."
"Are you saying you're obsessed with me?"
"No!" she said a little too adamantly. "I mean," she began softer, "I'm obsessed
with baseball and my team has always been the Mariners, but when I moved here I
started watching the Cubs and Sox, so naturally I got interested and, well, I'm
a researcher that's what I do."
They turned the final corner onto Bella's street and she looked up at the town h
ome she shared with Alice. All the lights were off, indicating that Alice was ei
ther still on her date or staying the night with Jazz. Bella became nervous. She
wasn't sure what Edward's intentions were, but she knew that she wasn't interes
ted in becoming another notch on his belt.
"A researcher? What exactly do you do for a living?"
"I'm a Corporate Intelligence Analyst for PWC. I guess you could call me a corpo
rate spy." She giggled nervously as they started their ascent up the five steps
that led to the front door of her townhome.
"So, this is me," she said quietly, looking down at the cement porch beneath the
ir feet. When he just stood there and looked at her, she felt very uncomfortable
. "Look," she stated sternly, trying to illustrate confidence that she did not f
eel, "I know it would be polite for me to invite you in, but I can't do that. I'
m not sure what you are expecting, but I'm not that kind of girl."
She waited anxiously for him to respond, but time seemed to tick by without eith
er of them saying a word. And then Edward walked across the porch to the bench s
wing that looked out at the quiet street and sat down.
"This is a pretty big house for one person, do you live alone?"
"No," Bella replied as she slowly walked over to the swing. "Alice and I are roo
mmates."
Edward scooted over to one side of the swing and he patted on the other end with
his hand, inviting Bella to join him. "I don't feel much like going home," he s
aid casually, "would you mind humoring me with conversation?"
"Do I humor you?" She wondered what he meant by that. Did he find her life so pa
thetic compared to his upscale living and fame? She was oddly offended, yet didn
't have the energy to react as such she was too nervous to play out any other em
otions.
"Not at all, I just figured you were bored with me. After all," he winked at her
, "you know everything there is to know about me." His famous crooked grin grace
d his face and again, she reacted to it much as she did earlier in the evening.
Her heartbeat picked up and warmth spread throughout her body down to the tips o
f her toes. Why hadn't she noticed how enticing his smile was before tonight?
"So, tell me something about you I don't know."
"That could be tough," he teased her, "you seem to be an excellent researcher. H
ow about you tell me what you don't know about me and I'll fill you in on what y
ou're missing."
Bella saw the gleam in his eye as he spoke to her but she was unsure what to mak
e of it. Edward Masen acted so different than what the media had always portraye
d him to be. The Cubs' playboy actually had a personality. And not only did he h
ave one, but it was an intoxicating one, one that Bella enjoyed very much.
"Okay," she started as she thought of something that she didn't know about him.
She knew his favorite color blue as well as his favorite food, movie, book, song
, band, vacation spot. There really wasn't much she didn't know about him. She h
ad to try harder, there had to be something.
"Fantasies," Bella whispered as she thought of what she didn't know about him. A
blush came over her face, and she was thankful that it was dark out, thinking t
hat Edward wouldn't notice, but he had. "Forget that," she amended as she heard
him chuckle.
"Oh, I know something." She sounded excited. "I don't know too much about your c
hildhood. I mean, I know about your love of sports and how you played everything
under the sun, and excelled at it all, but what about other stuff? You couldn't
have only played sports. You must've been interested in other things too."
"I play the piano," Edward said quietly and Bella silently swore to herself she
knew that.
"This sucks," Bella said out loud.
"What?"
"I knew that." Her voice was sad and she scrunched up her nose as she thought of
anything else she might not know.
"Do you know that I compose music too?"
Bella's head shot up to look at him. "No, I didn't know that." She was suddenly
excited, happy to find out something new about him. "Do you still compose? It mu
st be hard to find the time during the season."
"It is," he replied tenderly as he watched the emotions running along Bella's fa
ce. "I haven't composed in a long time, but my fingers have been itching to get
back on the keys. I've got a new song playing in my head right now, actually."
"Really? Can you sing it for me?"
Edward laughed uncomfortably and Bella wondered if maybe he was shy about that p
art of him. He fidgeted with the seam along the side of his jeans as he looked o
ut at a group of people swaggering along the sidewalk, making their way home fro
m a bar.
"How about if I give you a rain check? And I'll do one better. I'll play it for
you some day."
Bella smiled up at him and she wondered silently how that side of him hadn't bee
n reported by the media. Ever since she had started following the Cubs, she had
always read about his extra-curricular affairs with women. That was the only thi
ng that was ever reported about him, other than what he did on the field and the
occasional charity event he attended.
"So," Edward started, "it looks like Alice is still out with Jazz."
"Yeah, she'll probably stay the night at his place." She hadn't realized that he
r words came out a little bitter, but Edward noticed.
"You don't like Jazz?"
"Huh?"
"The way you said that, it sounded like you don't like him."
"No, I like him." Bella thought carefully about what she had to say. She didn't
want to insult him, but she wasn't going to mask how she really felt either. "I
just don't think he's the right guy for her."
"Hmm, it seems that we have something in common."
"We do?" Now Bella was offended. Why didn't he like Alice? Alice was wonderful.
She was the most caring and loving person she knew. She was a ball of energy wai
ting to explode, but when she loved, she loved unconditionally. She would never
betray or hurt Jazz, she was great for him, and for everyone she loved especiall
y her.
"You have to admit that the way they met is a bit suspect," he said hesitantly a
s he watched Bella's expression.
"Suspect?"
"Come on Bella," he groaned, "she walked up to him in a bar and told him that he
had kept her waiting for too long."
Bella laughed. She remembered the whole thing so vividly. From the first look th
at Alice got of Jazz at a Cubs game one day, she had been smitten. Alice fell in
love at first sight, without even knowing who he was. After that, she did becom
e a bit stalkerish. She googled the poor guy and grilled Bella for all the infor
mation she had on him. Then she read an article in a magazine about how he frequ
ented a certain bar in Chicago, so Alice started to hang out at the bar any time
the Cubs were in town. It took a couple of months of her sitting at the bar wai
ting for him, but one day he finally walked in. Alice had given up all hope that
he would show up, it was the off season after all, but there he was, and she wa
lked right up to him and grabbed a hold, never looking back.
"Okay, I admit she played the part of stalker very well. But you have to underst
and, Alice has a way of knowing things." When Edward gave her a skeptical look,
she figured she had to defend her friend some more. "She truly loves Jazz, Edwar
d. I don't suspect for a moment that her feelings aren't genuine."
They sat together swinging in the dark, neither of them making a sound as they b
oth thought about their best friends. Neither of them liked the relationship, bu
t for different reasons, and now they both wondered about the other side of the
story.
"So what about Jazz?" Bella asked harshly. "What are his intentions with Alice?"
"The guy's a love-sick schmuck," Edward drawled out, mimicking Jazz's accent.
"If I ask you something, would you tell me the truth?"
"Yeah, what do you want to know?"
"I've read a lot about baseball players and their extra-curricular affairs," Bel
la cleared her throat, trying to get her meaning across. When she saw the acknow
ledgment in Edward's eyes, she continued. "Does Jazz play the field when you're
on the road?"
"No."
"Before he met Alice?"
"He wasn't chaste, Bella, but he didn't sleep around a lot either. Not like . .
." Edward stopped his thought and Bella wondered what he was going to say.
"Not like you?" She regretted her words as quickly as they left her mouth. She n
oticed the way he withdrew from her. She even felt a cold chill run down her spi
ne as his body shifted away from her on the swing.
"I should get going," he said coolly as he stood up from the swing, looking down
on her.
Standing up slowly, Bella forced her eyes to meet his. "I'm sorry Edward. That w
as unkind of me."
Edward's lips pressed together in a taut line and Bella could tell that she real
ly angered him she felt guilty. "I'll see you around." He abruptly turned and wa
lked down the porch before descending the stairs. Bella watched his form as he w
alked down the sidewalk. She didn't open up her door and walk into her house unt
il he was no longer visible under the light of the moon.
Chapter 3 April 18, 2009
"Bella!" Alice's shrill, high-pitched voice filled their townhome as she screech
ed at Bella to wake up. "I don't want to be late!"
Covering her head under her pillow, Bella moaned out in displeasure before final
ly rolling out of bed. It was nine in the morning and the Cubs game against the
St. Louis Cardinals didn't start for another five hours. The players didn't even
need to be at the field this early!
"Why do you insist on being the first one at the park?" Bella moaned as she stom
ped into the kitchen nook to pour herself a cup of coffee. She had to admit that
the sweet aroma of the vanilla and cinnamon coffee was very enticing, and thoug
h she preferred her coffee to be plain black, she was looking forward to trying
this different concoction. She plunked herself down into a chair next to Alice a
nd began to rub the sleep from her eyes.
"Today is knit cap day! We need to get to the park early so we can each get one.
"
There was a little cartoon short Bella had seen years ago about a jackalope that
couldn't stop bouncing. Or was it bounding? Either way, Alice reminded her of t
hat jackalope. "You do know that it's going to be in the high seventies today, r
ight?" She loved her friend, but sometimes she wondered how much she thought abo
ut things like knit caps in 70 degree weather.
"You're so pessimistic. You know I like to get all the free goodies at the games
." Alice pouted across the table from her, causing Bella to roll her eyes as she
picked up a muffin that sat on a plate in the center of the table.
As delicious as the muffin looked, it had nuts in it. So, she picked at the thin
g, pulling out the yummy goodness of the banana flavored muffin, desperately try
ing to salvage as much of it as possible without getting a nut into her mouth. "
Thanks for making these," Bella choked out while chomping down a large chunk of
muffin.
The best thing about living with Alice wasn't the fact that she was a neat freak
and kept the house extra tidy, nor was it that she was very courteous about how
loud she was at night or the fact that she always asked permission to have a fr
iend over. Those were all wonderful qualities in a roommate; but for Bella, the
wonderful goodness that Alice created in the kitchen was the best part of living
with her.
"So, Jazz is pitching today," Bella knew that though Alice enjoyed going to all
the Cubs games, she got bored very easily if Jazz wasn't pitching. Before she st
arted dating the Cubs' pitcher, she attended many of the games with Bella, using
the extra ticket that she and Emmett usually had from their set of four. Her in
cessant whining about how slow the games moved were easily ignored and the surro
unding fans had fun teasing the adorable beauty.
"Will you sit with me today?"
"What? No."
Jazz had given Alice two tickets right behind the Cubs' dugout. By far, they wer
e the best seats in the house for a huge fan, but there was no way Bella would s
it there with her. After last night, she desperately wanted to put as much space
between her and the Cubs players. If she joined Alice behind their dugout, she'
d be closer to Edward, not only when he was on the bench, but when he was out on
the field as well. It was not going to happen.
"Why don't you come and sit with us today?" Bella missed sitting with her friend
at the games and the extra ticket wasn't being used today.
"Then I won't get to see him as close," Alice pouted. "How about I sit with you
tomorrow?"
"I think Ben already paid for the extra ticket for tomorrow," Bella answered apo
logetically before she had a great idea. "I know, you can sit with us and then A
ngela and Ben can use the two tickets from Jazz. Angela is bummed that Rose is g
oing to the game tomorrow she wanted to go too."
"Deal!" Alice wore a big smile on her face as she got up and put her dirty dishe
s in the sink. "I'm going to get ready. Don't you dare take your time, Bella, I
want a knit cap!"
"You do know that Jazz can get you a knit cap if you ask, right?" Bella called o
ut to her roommate as Alice sauntered off to her bedroom. "He could get you a do
zen, all you have to do is ask," she mumbled to herself. She was still very unea
sy over Alice's relationship with Jazz. He was a ball player and she had heard t
oo many stories about their infidelity. Heck, his best friend was probably the b
iggest whore in baseball! Shouldn't that be enough to keep a lady away from the
man? Plus there was her own personal experience, or should she say her mother's
experience. Shrugging off the bad memories that she promised not to think of, no
w that both of her parents were dead, she finished off the edible part of her mu
ffin.
After placing her dishes in the sink with Alice's, Bella went to her room to sta
rt getting ready. It was supposed to be nice out for a change, and she planned o
n taking advantage of the sun. She was always so pale looking and she was secret
ly on a mission this summer to get a tan. Normally, she burned or got nothing, s
o she was always either red or white never had she been any shade of golden brow
n.
Once she was out of her shower and dried off, Bella applied a mild sunscreen on
her body followed by some Banana scented tanning lotion. She had overheard someo
ne in her office talk about using both at the same time. Maybe the trick would w
ork for her as well . . . it couldn't hurt to try.
Bella met Alice back out in the living room dressed in a tight blue tank top wit
h her hair pulled back in a pony tail, so that her arms and shoulders could get
some sun, and loose fitting comfortable jeans. She specifically wore blue to sho
w her favor to the Cubs. There was way too much red in the stands yesterday, so
she wanted to try and counter it with Cubbie Blue.
Alice wore a really cute black and white skirt that didn't quite make it to her
knees along with a white v-neck shirt. She had a black head band in her hair for
what, Bella did not understand and huge dark sun glasses covering her eyes. In
her hands she held a large black and white bag with dark brown bamboo rings in p
lace of straps. It was cute, but unnecessary to bring to a ball game.
"Are you going to come out with us tonight?"
"I'm not sure Al," Bella sighed as she brushed past her friend, heading for the
door.
"Well, I'd love it if you did. Tell Em and Rose to come too. Edward is going out
with us," she said hesitantly. "I know that you don't like him . . ."
"Who told you that?"
"Well, we just assumed . . ."
"Al, it's not like that. I just didn't feel any sparks or see fireworks and I kn
ow you won't let me settle for anything less." Bella had practiced that line all
week, but now as she said it to her good friend, she felt her heart constrict a
nd immediately tried to convince herself of the lie.
"I understand," Alice said solemnly, "but that doesn't mean you have to avoid hi
m, does it? I mean, he pretty much said the same thing to Jazz but it doesn't me
an you two can't be friends."
Bella wasn't prepared for the way her heart reacted to those words. Edward didn'
t feel anything for her. That was a good thing right? They were walking down the
sidewalk toward the bus stop as she contemplated the strange feelings in her he
art. Why did it hurt to think that he didn't like her? And why did her heart con
strict when she told Alice that there were no sparks.
When he touched her, her skin felt alive, like every nerve ending was on alert,
waiting to feel his touch. Was that what sparks felt like? Or was it similar to
the tingly waves that washed through her body when his tongue dipped into hers o
n Monday night or when his lips trailed kisses down her neck last night? Bella h
ad never felt such amazing things before but she never would have classified the
m as sparks. More like tingles and burning waves that electrified her soul.
Electrified? Had she really just thought of that word in conjunction to how Edwa
rd made her feel? No, she couldn't think of him like that he annoyed her. But wh
y? Why did he annoy her? Was it because girls were constantly going up to him an
d touching him? Or was it because he let them touch him? He never once asked any
of the girls last night to leave him alone. When Jessica started kissing on his
neck, he did look a bit annoyed, but he never stopped her. He didn't like Jessi
ca it was plain on his face. But he never once asked her to leave him alone, nor
did he stop her from rubbing up against him or kissing all over him. Heck, she
even saw him kissing her back at one point. That was why he annoyed her. He didn
't care who he was with, as long as he was getting something. Ball players were
all the same in Bella's eyes.
With great determination, Bella decided she hated the Cubs star short stop once
again. Her strides grew longer with her intense resolve to hate the gorgeous mel
on-eyed man and she barreled past Alice on the street, making it to the bus stop
much earlier than her friend.
"Wait up, Bella!" Alice called as she tried to run the last few feet to the stop
. "What has gotten into you?"
"Huh?" Bella was confused. She didn't realize that she left her friend to fend f
or herself in her dust. "Oh, sorry Al, I was thinking about something."
"It's okay," Alice shrugged as she pulled out a pack of gum and held it out towa
rd Bella. "Want a piece?"
"No thanks."
As Alice placed a piece of the gum into her mouth, Bella caught the scent of ras
pberries, bringing her thoughts back to Monday night and the kiss that unsettled
her soul. Edward tasted like raspberries, and the way his tongue felt in her mo
uth as it brushed up against hers was like . . .
"Are you okay? You look flushed Bella."
Alice was closer to her now and the scent of raspberries wafted over her face, g
iving her a raspberry overload and tingles ran down from her heart to her toes a
s she thought of the taste of Edward's tongue once more. "I'm fine," Bella repli
ed out of breath. "I'm just tired from being out late last night."
"Are you sure? You turned pale there for a moment."
Bella's eyebrows arched as she looked at her friend. "I'm always pale, Alice." T
he bus was approaching and Bella was grateful for the distraction to change the
direction of their conversation.
"Rose is going to have a field day today if there are any Cards fans near us," B
ella exclaimed rather smugly.
"That's one thing I miss about sitting with you guys," Alice pouted.
"Then sit with us, no one is using the extra ticket."
But she didn't sit with Bella, Emmett, and Rosalie. Bella caught glimpses of her
lonely friend behind the Cubs dugout and felt bad for her. Maybe she should've
given in and sat with her. There was no reason to avoid Edward. She was just bei
ng petty, blaming him for the actions of her mother. Forget it Bella, you promis
ed yourself to forget it.
"I know you're blind Ump, I've seen your wife!"
Bella's head snapped up as she heard Rosalie's voice scream out to the umpire. S
he wondered what she'd missed. It wasn't like her to zone out during a game, wha
t in the world had happened? She stared out onto the field and saw that Edward w
as up at bat, but standing outside the batter's box staring right at her.
"Hey Ump," Rosalie continued in hysterics as she held up her cell phone. "You've
got four missed calls!"
The crowd around them roared with laughter and Bella looked up to see the umpire
's face turn red. Oh, the umpires say all the time that they don't pay any atten
tion to the insults that fans yell out to them, but Bella had seen Rosalie get u
nder many an umpire's skin.
Bella glanced at the scoreboard and noticed that Edward had a full count on him.
She leaned over Rosalie's seat she was standing as she continued yelling insult
s at the umpire and nudged Emmett on the shoulder. "Hey," she gritted out, "what
happened?"
"Sit down!" The demand came from a voice not too far behind their seats and Bell
a, Emmett, and Rosalie all turned around at once, their gazes settling on a tall
skinny man wearing a Cardinals shirt and hat with a red foam 'number one' finge
r on his hand all he was missing was a big sign saying, 'John 3:16'.
"Come here and say it to my face you scrotal cheese lick!"
Bella cringed in her seat and turned her head just in time to see Edward hit a d
ouble. The whole crowd at Wrigley cheered him on except for her section, which w
as enjoying the show between the beautiful blond in a Cubs hat and a tall skinny
Cardinals fan.
Bella tried hard not to pay attention, but the tool seriously had the nerve to s
tart walking down the few steps toward Rosalie. She tried to keep her eyes on th
e field, but really they were just on Edward and she could tell that he was inte
rested in what was going on in their section the whole ball park was now interes
ted as it also caught the eye of security which was now descending on the scene.
"You look like a freakin' lobster, any resemblance between you and a human is on
ly by coincidence."
"Hey buddy," the lobster called out as he looked at Emmett. Emmett didn't respon
d, but he stared at the man in red. "Why do you think she insists you use a rubb
er?"
Emmett's chest heaved as he tried to control himself. These sort of things somet
imes happened with Rosalie at the games. She wasn't afraid to say whatever she f
elt, and with her being as attractive as she was, it incited some men to try and
banter with her. Horrible move on their part, as Rosalie always won.
"So she can have a doggy bag for later!"
With the skinny lobster's final words, Emmett lunged forward, but Rosalie grabbe
d him around the waist and whispered into his ear. Security had caught up to the
insipid lobster and asked him to move back to his seat. As he begrudgingly turn
ed to leave, Rosalie had to get the last word in.
"Now that's the perfect blue print to build an idiot!"
Everyone around them laughed and security came over to tell Emmett and Rosalie t
o quiet down or they would be asked to leave the park. Bella was standing up nex
t to them, but for some reason, the warning was only to the pair of hard-heads n
ext to her. The three of them sat down and turned their attention back to the ga
me. Edward was now on third base with Newton on first.
~GO CUBS~
Edward couldn't wait to hear about what had happened with Rosalie and the man dr
essed all in red last time he looked, they were still playing the Cards, he wasn
't sure what the lobster costume was for. From what he'd remembered of meeting R
ose, she wasn't someone he'd want to go head-to-head against. The girl was rough
around the edges and scary as hell he wasn't sure how a great guy like Emmett c
ould stand to deal with her.
And in the middle of it all, as Rose swore insults at the umpire, Bella was ther
e shaking her head. Edward didn't know if it was from embarrassment of her frien
d's actions or if it was something else. She didn't seem embarrassed when she st
ood up with her friend in a defensive stance against the obsessed fan. Did she r
eally think she could thwart off the wrath of Lobster Man? He chuckled as he sto
od in the infield, waiting for play to begin. He was starting to hope his enchan
tress would be joining them at the bar after the game. He was curious to find ou
t what had happened.
He could hear Rose's voice still, calling out to the batters and he smiled. She
really was entertaining, if nothing else. He took a quick glance over at the thr
ee friends and sighed as he saw Bella with her pony tail pulled out, her hair ca
scading over her shoulders and a blue and red Cubs knit hat on her head. Did she
really rush to the field so she could be one of the first 10,000 fans in order
to get a hat? Was she that obsessed to need a cheap blue hat? He could get her a
nicer one for free, all she had to do was ask they were friends after all, righ
t? Even after her insult last night, he couldn't begrudge her. She was right, he
did sleep around and if it hadn't been for the tall gangly man upsetting her la
st night, he most likely would've gone home with the curly-haired girl Jennifer,
or Jasmine, whatever her name was the sloppy kisser that worked with Bella.
Last night had been out of the ordinary for Edward. He didn't know what caused h
im to jump to Bella's defense again. First he talked with the boring fan who had
been hitting on her, just glad to keep him away from her. And then when he saw
her with the gangly geek, his jealousy was it really jealousy? was erased when h
e saw how painful their dance looked with her lack of ability to move smoothly a
nd the geek's jerky movements. It was quite amusing to watch actually.
But when the guy pulled her into his groin, Edward became irate. He couldn't thi
nk straight and was only able to cool off when he saw Bella practically run from
the man. But the guy never let up, he followed her across the bar and from the
look of it, Bella was trying to leave and escape his unwanted attentions when he
grabbed her. That was it for Edward, he had to step in.
He hadn't intended to walk her home and then when he did, he started thinking of
the possibilities. He could finally have sex with her and then be rid of the ha
unting she had been doing to his mind. Once he stuck his dick in her, the appeal
would leave it always did after he had his way with a woman. But she didn't inv
ite him in, she didn't even seem to want to stay and talk with him. But he didn'
t want to leave her, so he sat down and practically begged her to talk with him.
He wasn't sure why, but for some reason, he really wanted her company. He didn't
normally talk with any of the girls he hooked up with. Even with Lauren whom he
had his most serious relationship with he never sat down and talked with her ab
out much more than where she directed their conversations the Cubs and where the
y were going each night. So it was odd to sit and have a conversation with Bella
but he actually enjoyed it. He learned a lot about her, yet not enough to satis
fy him and he became determined to get to know her better, until she insulted hi
m. You deserved it Masen.
A shallow fly ball registered in Edward's peripheral vision as he raced under th
e descending ball, lifted his gloved hand in the air, and caught it effortlessly
three outs. The game continued on, each team's pitching doing the job, keeping
the runs to a minimum until the seventh inning when the Cardinal's pitcher got t
ired and Edward was able to knock in two runs, giving the Cubs the final lead of
the evening resulting in the their 7-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
It wasn't hard for Edward and Jazz to find their friends in the small dive bar t
hat Alice had picked. Alice was sitting at a table surrounded by Rosalie, Emmett
, and the groping couple that Bella had been with the night before but he didn't
see Bella herself had she not come out with them?
After grabbing a couple of beers for him and Jazz, Edward made his way over to t
he table, where Alice was clutched onto the winning pitcher from today's game, g
iving him a victory kiss it looked like while Emmett and Rose cheered them on. I
t was nice to see the smile on Jazz's face and he knew that Alice made him happy
, but the display had him frowning because it was something Lauren would've expe
cted him to do flaunt his celebrity status and their relationship.
"Edward!" Big man Emmett bellowed out as he approached the table and he felt a b
it awkward with the attention on him. "We were just having a kissing contest. So
far the major leaguer and pixie are winning. Go grab yourself a girl and join i
n!" The burly man was definitely drunk.
"Haven't drunk enough, Em," Edward said as he sat down and glared over at Alice
and Jazz.
"Hey, I'm Angela," The tall, skinny brunette said from beside Edward, jutting ou
t her hand for a shake.
Edward took her hand and shook it gently. "Edward," he muttered and fought back
the urge to roll his eyes when he noticed the girl's groping boyfriend gawking a
t him, mouth hung open and eyes bugging out.
"This is Ben," Angela said apologetically. "He's still shocked to be sitting at
the same table as Jazz and now that his hero is here, I don't think he'll be abl
e to function much." She frowned over at Edward then looked back at Ben whose fa
ce had turned beet red.
"His hero?" Edward asked. "There're no heroes in this bar that I see," he wavere
d, "except for Jazz, the kissing king. I'm sure he'd be thrilled to give him an
autograph if you think it'll help." He gave Angela a small smile and she laughed
.
"Have you met Angela and Ben?" the little pixie called across the table toward E
dward as she stood up to make introductions.
"Yes," he said, stopping her from having to be separated from Jazz's arms. "We'r
e all set."
"Did she tell you that she works with Bella?"
"You know Bella?" Angela cut in over Alice as she leaned forward, closer to Edwa
rd.
"Yeah, you can say that," he said shyly, not sure why she was so interested in t
he fact.
"I wonder what's holding her up. She should be here by now."
"She's coming?" Edward didn't want to sound so eager and he silently scolded him
self for acting as such.
Trying to find a way out of talking about Bella, he looked around the table. Emm
ett and Rosalie were gone and he noted they were now on the dance floor. They re
ally did move well together and watching them triggered the memory of the way Be
lla moved in his arms. He shook his head and stood up. "I'll be right back," he
said to the table before he sauntered over to the bar for another beer.
Sitting on a barstool, Edward struck up a conversation with the man next to him.
He seemed to be a decent fan, one bonus being he didn't freak out about sitting
next to Edward and he didn't ramble on about the game the whole time either. Th
ey spoke a little about the game but then he seemed genuinely interested in talk
ing about music with the famed short stop. It was refreshing for Edward to talk
to a stranger about something other than baseball as if that was all he knew abo
ut.
He had been sitting at the bar for a while when a staggeringly sweet smell wafte
d over him and his new bar friend. Edward turned on his stool and noticed the ro
ot of the putrid smell a beautiful blond smiling down at him. He smiled back. It
had been a while since he enjoyed the company of a beautiful woman since before
he met Bella. He mentally chastised himself for thinking of her again.
"Hi," he said softly. "May I buy you a drink?"
"Of course," the beautiful blond replied, her eyes roaming away from his face to
focus on his chest then down further toward his lap.
Edward smiled and cocked an eyebrow at her. "Enjoying yourself?" he asked amused
.
Her head slowly lifted to look into his eyes and she leaned in, placing her lips
against his ear. "Not yet handsome." Then she kissed him softly against his nec
k.
He wrapped his left arm around her waist and pulled her in to stand between his
legs before turning to the bartender and ordering her a drink. "So what's your n
ame?" he asked sweetly when he turned back toward her, wrapping his other arm ar
ound her.
"Ginger," she purred in his ear and he stiffened. Why was it that no one would u
se their real name with him?
"So Ginger," Edward purred, exaggerating her name, "did your parents have some u
nhealthy obsession with 'Gilligan's Island'?"
"What?" Ginger pulled away and looked at him in confusion.
"Your name," he cooed into her ear after pulling her back into him. "I was just
wondering where the inspiration came from."
She smiled slyly at him before leaning in and devouring his mouth with hers. Edw
ard enjoyed the kiss and he let his hands roam up and down her back, landing on
her ass, pulling her in closer to his groin which had been neglected for far too
long. At this point, he could care less if her name was Bertha, he needed to ge
t laid.
"ergh, eghm." Someone cleared their throat at the two love birds kissing all ove
r each other at the bar.
Edward heard the interruption, but he ignored it, pulling Ginger in closer to hi
m as he let his lips slide down to her neck, his hands riding up her torso getti
ng closer to her large breasts. But when the person cleared their throat a secon
d time, Ginger became annoyed and turned her head in the direction of the annoya
nce while Edward's lips continued sucking and biting along her skin.
"Excuse us," she bit out breathlessly before turning back to the man in her arms
and running her fingers through his hair.
"No, excuse me," Bella spat and Edward's head stopped at the sound of her voice,
his dick immediately hardening from the sound even though it held anger.
Ginger pulled away from Edward's lips while he turned his head to stare at the e
nchantress standing next to him and the blond between his legs. He let his eyes
roam over her, admiring the way her dress clung to her curves and then his eyes
moved down to her exposed knees and he licked his lips before looking back up in
to Bella's eyes. She had gone home and changed her clothes. He was now very glad
for her delayed arrival.
"We're a bit busy here," Ginger said in a sugary tone, anger seething out of her
smile and eyes.
"Yes, busy sticking you tongue down my boyfriend's throat," Bella bit back, her
eyes shooting daggers at the blond.
"He started the whole thing," Ginger practically yelled as she took a step away
from Edward and he tried hard not to laugh. He couldn't figure out why Bella was
interrupting and, though he was a bit pissed that he wouldn't be getting laid b
y the shapely blond, he was mesmerized by Bella, curious to know why she was act
ing the jealous girlfriend.
Edward watched as Ginger and Bella stared each other down, Bella's eyes never gi
ving an inch and he eventually gave in and turned his body toward her, grabbing
her by her waist and pulling her in to his arms. Bella glanced over her shoulder
at the blond standing behind her now and sneered before turning her attention b
ack to Edward, leaning in and giving him a chaste kiss on his lips.
He held on tight around Bella's waist as her lips grazed against his and he clos
ed his eyes, wanting to deepen the kiss, but not sure where she was going with t
his jealous rift. He wasn't sure why she interrupted. He was far from needing to
be saved, if that was what she intended. At this moment, though, he didn't care
because she felt good in his arms and he relished the moment, smelling the swee
t strawberry scent of her hair and the hint of bananas on her skin. She smelled
delicious, like a banana split.
"You reek of cheap perfume," she said, pulling away from him, but staying in the
hold of his arms.
He chuckled softly, shaking his head. "You do know that you aren't my girlfriend
, right?"
"Just returning a favor."
"Maybe next time you should make sure I want to be saved."
"Oh, you wanted to be saved, believe me." Her eyebrows crinkled together and he
thought she looked adorable.
"Yeah? And why's that?"
"Becca's a little slut who has slept with practically every guy in this bar."
"But me," he said slowly, deliberately.
"Yes, and you're one of the few men in this bar who hasn't contracted the Clap b
ecause of it," she said pointedly, raising an eyebrow as she stared at him.
His mouth dropped open. "Becca? She told me her name was Ginger."
"Figures, she told my coworker her name was Claire."
"So, why save me? You made it clear last night what you think about me." He was
sounding like a sulking, dimwitted female who got her feelings hurt and he hated
himself for showing his vulnerability.
"I just spent three weeks listening to a coworker of mine complaining of his new
disease he got from sleeping with her. She's dirty Masen even you can do better
than that!"
"Even me?" he laughed.
"Yes, even you. Besides, I owe you, remember?" She smiled up at him, as his hand
s moved up her back, stroking over her long mahogany hair. "Oh look, there's ano
ther blond over there," she said, turning her head and pointing at a tall skinny
girl with thick rimmed glasses and braces.
"I don't think she's old enough." He recoiled on his barstool, she was also hide
ous looking.
"A lot of people in their twenties have braces now-a-days, Edward. Just think, i
n a couple of years, she'll have beautiful teeth."
"But what about her nose?"
"Okay," she said as she scanned the bar again. "Ooh, how about the blond over in
the corner with the red shirt and black skirt?"
"Why are you looking for a blond?"
"I thought that's what you like." She turned her head back to him and stared int
o his melon green eyes, swallowing hard at the desire she saw broiling behind th
em.
Edward stared into Bella's chocolate brown eyes, fighting the urge to lean in an
d kiss her. Her chaste kiss earlier wasn't enough for him, he wanted more. And t
he smell of her was driving him crazy. Turning to the side, he leaned over the b
ar, got the bartender's attention, and asked for two new beers. When the bartend
er came over, he told him to take his empty and the full beer still sitting on t
he bar, the one he had purchased for Ginger Becca before turning back to Bella a
nd smiling.
"Thank you," he said sweetly.
"Any time," she replied breathlessly.
"So tell me, what was up with Rosalie today?" Edward asked, curious to know what
was going on behind the visitor's dugout during the game and also desiring to k
eep Bella with him.
"I'm not sure how it started," Bella replied. "All of a sudden she was yelling a
t the ump. Wait, you were up at bat what happened? I couldn't figure out what st
arted the whole thing."
"A bad call," Edward shrugged. "Thing was damn near down at my ankles and he cal
led it a strike."
"Ahh," Bella said as she grabbed one of the beers that the bartender placed in f
ront of the two and took a swig.
"You weren't paying attention to the game?" Edward teased her as he tickled her
side and she squealed, flinching from his wiggling fingers.
"I was thinking about Alice," she laughed. "She looked so lonely sitting on the
other side."
"The other side? You do know that she was sitting on the Cubs' side, right?"
She rolled her eyes at him and took another sip. "She asked me to sit with her t
oday and I didn't. I felt bad. Of course lobster man made up for it. Did you see
him?" She giggled and Edward gazed at her smile. He had never seen anything so
breathtaking before.
"Yeah, I saw you three almost get kicked out the park, what happened?" Edward ti
ghtened his hold around Bella, enjoying the feel of her against him as he looked
into her expressive eyes.
"Lobster man thought he could exchange insults with Rose. She had to hold Emmett
back from pummeling the guy to the ground. That's when you probably saw securit
y come and talk to us." She shook her head and leaned in closer to Edward.
"Bella?" He smiled.
"Hmm?"
"Let's dance." Edward gently pushed Bella back a step so he could stand up and h
e placed some cash on the bar to pay for his tab before taking her hand and lead
ing her to the small dance floor.
"Oh no," she protested, planting her feet on the ground. "I don't dance. You've
seen me, I'm horrible."
Edward stopped and turned towards her. "That's not how I remember it," he breath
ed out as he leaned in toward her. "Besides," he placed his lips against her ear
. "My girlfriend would never refuse to dance with me."
He smiled against her ear when he felt her body shiver, then pulled back to look
into her eyes. She licked her lips as she stared behind him at the daunting dan
ce floor and he chuckled. "I promise I'll be a gentleman."
"I haven't had enough to drink yet," she continued to stall.
He flashed his crooked smile, picked up her hand and kissed the back of it. "May
I have this dance Bella?"
"You can't dazzle me Masen," she said breathlessly and Edward fought the urge to
broaden his smile. He most definitely was affecting her. He could see it in her
eyes and feel it as her body relaxed into him. He entwined his fingers with her
s and pulled her softly to the dance floor without another protest from her. Onc
e they were in the middle of the tangle of bodies, Edward pulled Bella closer in
to him and she lifted her arms, wrapping them around his neck.
"Follow my lead," Edward whispered into her ear and she nodded, concentrating ha
rd on following his body. "Relax," he chuckled after she stepped on his foot for
the second time and his hands came to rest on her hips as he led her, showing h
er how to move.
"Don't look down," he whispered against her temple. He was having a hard time co
ntrolling himself. He found her so desirable, yet she was definitely not the typ
e of girl he knew he could have a tryst in bed with and be done with her. She wo
uld want a relationship, she wouldn't settle for anything less and he wasn't sur
e if he'd be able to say no to her.
"Where do I look?" she asked as she stomped on his foot again and he chuckled be
fore pulling her in closer, positioning their bodies so that his thigh was betwe
en her legs and hers between his. He could feel her heart pounding against him a
nd he wondered if she was nervous about the dancing or about being so close to h
im. He was definitely feeling anxious about being close to her.
"Close your eyes," he said softly and when she complied, he smiled. "That's righ
t," he said close to her ear. "Now stop thinking and feel the rhythm of the musi
c." He smiled at the crease that he saw between her eyes, she was concentrating
on listening to the music now and he laughed.
"Bella," he cooed, "stop thinking, just feel." And with that he started moving t
heir bodies together. When she still wouldn't relax, he whisper into her ear, li
ttle silly things at first, just stuff to get her mind off what her body was doi
ng or trying to do.
He found that as he whispered about the game that day and all the stuff that was
happening on the field that the fans didn't get to see or understand, her body
relaxed against his. He kept whispering little facts about the game into her ear
, about the conversations between him and some of the other players on his team
and on the Cards and he looked down as their bodies were moving perfectly togeth
er to see a look of wonder on Bella's face.
They were dancing finally. Edward allowed himself to enjoy the feel of her again
st his body as he took in her smell one more time. The strawberry scent of her s
hampoo was what he'd expect to smell on a child, but on Bella it was tantalizing
, he wanted to nuzzle his head into her hair and breath it all in.
As the song ended, Edward held on close to Bella, afraid that she would bolt bef
ore he was able to get them moving to the next song, but she stayed there in his
arms and looked up at him questioningly. He smiled down at her, pulling her in
tight again for another dance, and she smiled back as she closed her eyes, givin
g her body over to Edward for direction.
He didn't disappoint. Only this time, he was too full of his own thoughts to whi
sper into her ear. Instead, he kept her close, his hands guiding her hips as he
moved them to the rhythm of the song. He swallowed hard as he leaned his head on
top of her hair. He enjoyed being with her. There was no denying that. Maybe th
ey could be friends. Maybe he could open up to her, even if she was a fan, and h
ave a new friend in her. He enjoyed spending time with her: talking, dancing, la
ughing, touching, she captivated him. She made him laugh and smile. She made him
think about things he normally wouldn't give a second thought to and, above all
else, she made him happy. Yes, he decided, they could be friends. He'd find a w
ay to make it work.
When the second song finished, Edward pulled away from Bella and he looked down,
noticing the small blush that spread across her face. He smiled as he grabbed h
er hand and pulled her out of the throng of gyrating bodies. "We'll make a dance
r out of you yet," he teased her as he wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling
her close to his side as they made their way to the table full of their friends.
"Don't count on it," she breathed out. "I thought I was going to puke the whole
time."
Edward looked down and laughed before they sat down with their friends, but ther
e weren't any chairs next to each other so they ended up on different ends of th
e table. He became very quiet as he listened to the conversations around him but
kept his eyes on the enchantress. She was too alluring for her own good. She di
dn't even know what she did to him what he had seen her do to countless other fo
ols.
Edward nervously adjusted his erection, glad that Bella hadn't noticed it while
they were dancing. She was laughing and talking with Emmett and Edward was insta
ntly jealous of their friendship. He wanted to be the one to make her laugh like
that, the one to put the smile on her face, the only one to warrant a strong an
d loving hug from her.
And though they didn't get another moment alone that night, Edward caught her ga
zing at him numerous times, each time he smiled at her and she smiled back with
a blush on her cheeks. When she finally said her goodbyes to the table and left,
Edward felt empty and alone. For the first time in his life, he felt pulled tow
ard someone, as if he couldn't control his actions around her. Bella would be in
his life, he knew that now, he wanted that now. He just hoped he'd be able to g
et over his desire for her and handle being just a friend.
Chapter 4 April 19, 2009
Bella sat at the kitchen table staring absentmindedly at her laptop, oblivious t
o the fact that it was now filled with a screen saver sporting the Seattle Marin
ers team logo. Instead, her mind was occupied with thoughts of the Cubs' handsom
e short stop and the way he made her feel. He was charming, funny, intelligent,
deep, sensual, handsome, and of course, a ball player. No, Bella thought, she co
uldn't go down that road but she also knew she wouldn't be able to stay away fro
m him. Closing her eyes, she swallowed the lump in her throat. She would have to
find some way to just be friends with him and she could handle that. So far, th
at's all he seemed to want from her, so it shouldn't be too difficult to keep up
the facade.
Bella's head turned as she heard a key twist in the front door lock, and the doo
r opened to reveal not only a refreshed looking Alice, but a laid back Jazz righ
t behind her. "Hey guys," she called out.
"Bella!" Alice chimed. "You don't have any plans today, do you?"
"No, just getting some work done and then going to the game," she glanced out th
e window as she mentioned the game, wondering if it was ever going to stop raini
ng. As nice as yesterday had been bright and sunny, the nicest day yet this spri
ng today was the opposite; cold, wet, and rainy very rainy. "Speaking of which,"
she continued as she looked pointedly at Jazz, "is there going to be a game?"
"Probably not," he replied in his lazy southern accent. "But that's why we're he
re. We've been invited over to Cullen's for a barbeque."
"Oh, have fun." Bella moved the mouse on her laptop, getting rid of the Mariners
screen saver so she could get back to work. She had spent most of her morning d
oing actual work, but now she had to get working on her homework. She had one cl
ass left her capstone course and then she'd be done with her Master's.
"You'll come with us, won't you?" Alice pouted as she walked over to the table.
"Please say you'll come, don't make me be there all alone. I'll need you to tell
me who everyone is so I don't make an ass of myself."
"I'm sure Jazz will introduce you to everyone. I've really got a lot to get done
."
"Two hours?"
"What?"
"We'll give you two hours to work and then we'll leave for the party." Alice pou
ted again but she wasn't the one to get Bella's resolve to crumble, it was Jazz.
"Bella, you can't sit around here all day working like some robot," Jazz drawled
. "Work for two hours then come to the party with us. Then, once you've relaxed
a little, you can leave and come back here to finish."
He really did make a good argument, Bella thought, and she could use a little br
eak to blow off some steam and just veg out. But the game, she didn't want to mi
ss the game. "What about the game? If I go to the party, I won't be able to-"
"The game is going to be postponed," Jazz said casually, as if he already knew.
But he couldn't, as far as the media was letting on, the game was still schedule
d.
"Are you sure?" she asked skeptically.
"Positive. The field was already damp yesterday. After this, it doesn't matter i
f it stops raining right now, the field will be way too wet to play on."
"Okay," Bella mumbled. "But, give me two hours without interruption," she cautio
ned with the tone of her voice and a threatening look in her eyes.
Bella worked hard all morning, plugging away at the case study she had to do for
class. She was able to get in a groove where everything flowed out fluidly, per
fectly. She smiled to herself once she completed her analysis, knowing full well
that she would get full credit for the study. She shut down all her application
s, turned off her laptop, closed it, and then leaned back in her chair, raising
her arms over her head to stretch. Looking at the clock on the microwave, she re
alized she had a half an hour left before her two hours were up and she decided
to jump in the shower.
~GO CUBS~
"Okay, so which one is Carlisle?" the small pixie in the front seat asked again
as Bella and Jazz tried hard to explain to her who everyone on the team was espe
cially the host of the barbeque.
"Carlisle plays second base," Bella huffed, "right next to Edward."
"Is he the old guy?"
"I wouldn't call him old," Jazz replied, choking back a laugh as Bella rolled he
r eyes and shook her head. "He's only thirty."
"Hmm, he seems much older than that." Alice did have a point because Bella had n
oticed that he seemed more mature than the other players too.
"He's like a big brother to us," Jazz said slowly, "and his wife is wonderful. Y
ou girls will love her." He smiled over to Alice and she beamed back at him, exc
ited to make new friends.
Upon entering the large north side home of the Cullen's, both Alice and Bella we
re in awe. The place was not only massive, but it was absolutely beautiful. Ever
ything was cut into very neat lines and white stark white. Each room, though, ha
d one touch of color in it, usually noted in the flowers or a painting, but some
splash of color and Bella liked it a lot. If the decorating wasn't enough the a
rchitecture was remarkable with high vaulted ceilings and columns throughout the
wide open spaces and at the entrance to the massive staircase. She would have t
o somehow take pictures with her phone to show Emmett he was an architect, after
all.
"Jazz!"
Bella pried her eyes away from the beautiful house to take a look at the source
of the sweet sounding voice. She recognized the woman instantly as being Esme, C
arlisle's wife. She was dressed in light brown slacks and an ecru blouse that lo
oked like silk, but Bella wasn't sure. All she knew was that it was something sh
e'd wear to a shower or to church, not to a barbeque, and she started feeling se
lf-conscience in her jeans and polo shirt she had decided to wear.
"Hi Esme," Jazz drawled in a heavy accent, "this is my Alice," he beamed as he i
ntroduced the little pixie and for a moment, Bella was afraid that her friend wa
s going to bow in front of their hostess. "And this is Bella," he said as he mot
ioned towards Bella, "her good friend and roommate." Then he turned his attentio
n to the two stunned women next to him. "Alice, Bella, this is Esme Cullen."
"Hi," Alice and Bella said in unison.
"It's nice to meet the two of you," Esme said demurely, and Bella immediately ha
d a vision of her as June Cleaver and a smile started to prickle at the sides of
her lips. "I've heard so much about you Alice," she continued as she shook the
pixie's hand. "And Bella, it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Have you be
en friends with Alice long?" She took Bella's hand in hers and shook it softly.
"A little over three years," Bella squeaked out. She was suddenly very anxious a
nd as she took her hand back from the beautiful woman before her, she wiped it a
gainst her jeans, drying off the sweat that had suddenly seeped out in her nervo
usness.
Just as Bella thought they were in the clear, Carlisle walked up to them and gav
e Jazz a typical man-hug with the clap on the back before turning to her and Ali
ce. Before Jazz could start the introductions, Carlisle started talking, a huge
smile on his face. He was a handsome man, there was no denying that and together
with Esme, they made the perfect looking couple they really could be Ward and J
une Cleaver.
"So you two are friends of Jasper's?" Carlisle asked, using Jazz's full name, as
he reached out a hand toward Alice and shook hers.
"I'm Alice," she said sweetly, "and this is my friend, Bella."
"Alice, Bella," he said as he let go of Alice's hand to shake Bella's, "It's a p
leasure to meet you two. Any friend of Jasper's is a friend of ours." His bright
smile was almost intoxicating.
"Oh, don't let him fool you, Bella is my friend too," a deep velvet voice said b
ehind them.
Bella turned around slowly, recognizing the voice immediately, and smiled up at
the handsome man with unruly auburn hair. He looked amazing in jeans which made
Bella feel better about her ensemble and a dark blue button down shirt. He hadn'
t shaven, his face was covered in dark brown and red stubble, and his eyes were
a little bloodshot, but he was still very nice to look at.
"What hole did you crawl out of Masen?" Newton called as he stepped into the ann
ex that they were all standing in. "Still not sleeping in your own bed?"
Bella watched as Edward's body tensed and she realized that he probably didn't s
leep in his own bed last night. He most likely went home with some random girl a
nd didn't have time to shave, probably not even shower, before making his way to
the Cullen's. Bella immediately felt sick to her stomach as a light blush crept
onto her cheeks. She stiffly swallowed a lump in her throat and put a fake smil
e on her face, turning back toward Carlisle, who now looked a bit upset with New
ton, but Bella was too absorbed with her own feelings to notice.
Bella's head was spinning with thoughts of Edward and some faceless girl naked i
n bed together and she wondered why it upset her so much. She was so absorbed in
her internal musings that she didn't pay attention to the conversations around
her, and when she finally looked up, she noticed that Alice and Jazz were gone,
as well as Esme and Newton, and Edward was talking to her.
"I'll see you later?" he asked with a concerned look on his face.
"Huh?"
"I said that I need to help Carlisle with something real quick, but I'll see you
later," he said again, slowly, eyeing her peculiarly.
"Sure," she breathed, and she watched him stroll down a hallway with Carlisle, l
eaving her alone in the small room.
Bella wandered through the house, looking at all the different rooms and the way
they were decorated, while at the same time taking note of everyone there. She
knew most of the men by name, and was even shocked to find some of the Cardinal'
s players in attendance. She had read about friendships between players on diffe
rent teams, but she was still shocked by it none-the-less. She didn't talk to an
yone, just observed and avoided. She wasn't in the mood to really get into any d
eep conversations. Her mind was still reeling with thoughts of Edward and it ang
ered her that the thought of him having sex with someone would upset her so much
.
"I haven't met you yet," a silken woman's voice said from her side.
"No," Bella stuttered as she turned to the woman. "I'm Bella, Bella Swan."
"Victoria," the tall woman with deep red hair said with a smirk. She was dressed
casually in jeans and a tight green t-shirt and she held out a hand fingers ful
l of rings for Bella to shake. "I'm James Towne's wife."
"Right," Bella said, remembering the rookie that was pulled up from the minors d
uring spring training. She also remembered seeing him in the bar with Edward on
Friday night with two women all over him one of them in his lap. "How's he adjus
ting to the big league?'
"He loves it." Victoria smiled even larger, taking the opportunity to tout her h
usband, rambling on and on about how great of a short stop he was.
"Is he enjoying third base?" Bella asked hesitantly. It was starting to sound li
ke Towne, or maybe it was just his wife, may not like being given a different po
sition than he preferred to play.
"It's okay, but he misses short stop." She paused a moment as her eyes lingered
over the crowd behind Bella. "Whoa," she gasped. "Now there is something worth l
ooking at."
Bella turned her head, trying to catch what Victoria was staring at, but all she
saw were some people gathered together talking and Edward with his sleeves roll
ed up, carrying a bag of ice into another room. "What's that?" she asked confuse
d.
"You missed him?" Victoria looked back to Bella. "I'm sure he'll be back out soo
n."
"Who?"
"Edward Masen," she said, her lips curling up into a lopsided grin. "What I woul
dn't give to taste him."
"Hmm," Bella sounded as she let her eyes roam to the hallway that she last saw h
im walk into. She couldn't believe the gall of this woman. She didn't know Bella
from Adam. Wasn't she concerned that she may know Edward or that she'd say some
thing to her husband?
"Oh, I see Garrett," Victoria cooed out suddenly. "I'll talk to you later," she
called over her shoulder as she took off in his direction, leaving Bella staring
after her and shaking her head in disgust.
Bella looked around at the remaining occupants of the room and then bolted for t
he doorway as she led herself into more white rooms, with more people huddled in
them. When she came to a set of sliding glass doors, she paused and looked arou
nd to make sure no one saw her. The enclosed porch on the other side of the glas
s looked so inviting, but she wasn't sure if she was allowed in it no one else h
ad ventured out to the porch yet.
After sneaking through the doors, Bella sat down on a whicker chaise lounge, too
k off her shoes and propped her feet up. Leaning her head back against the white
cushion, she closed her eyes. She was surrounded by major league baseball playe
rs and though most people would be excited at the opportunity, she felt ill. She
let her mind wander back to her parents and the fun she had growing up with the
m.
Life had always seemed so normal, living in a small town with two loving parents
who obviously loved her dearly, regardless of her mother's scatter-brained ways
or her father's unease with showing his emotions physically. They were her pare
nts and she loved them. Though she looked almost identical to her mom and held m
any of her mannerisms, she bonded tightly with her dad. But over the years, she
had started to think that her mom had resented their intimacy. Bella's face cont
orted into a scowl as she thought of her mom's jealous ramblings.
Renee just couldn't be happy when Bella and Charlie got close, especially when s
he became a teenager. She always made snide comments about the pair or brought u
p everything that they didn't have in common with each other, but it didn't faze
Bella not at first. It wasn't until Bella's sophomore year in college that she
finally understood what was wrong with her mom, why she resented the relationshi
p that Bella had with her dad, a relationship that was absolutely normal between
a father and his daughter.
Bella was home on spring break and was going through some old papers that she fo
und in a box in the attic while trying to find a paper she had written when she
was in high school. She swore that she had saved the thing, knowing full well th
at she would most likely need to write on the same subject in college. As she go
t to the end of the box, she came up empty, but knowing for a fact that she had
saved it, she decided to look in other boxes all the other boxes in the attic un
til she found it.
It was maybe the third box that she started looking through where she found an o
ld tattered shoe box. Curiously, she opened it up and found a ton of opened lett
ers addressed to her mom. She really should've closed the lid on the box and con
tinued looking for her paper, but the return address was foreign to her and she
told herself that she would only peek.
Three hours and many tears later, Bella closed the box with the letters inside a
nd left the attic without her high school paper. Retreating to her room, she con
tinued to cry until dinner time. She was too shocked at what she had found to wa
nt to be around anyone, but she needed to talk to someone. Picking up the phone,
she called Emmett. They had already broken up at that point, but he was still h
er best friend and he knew exactly what to say to give her the strength she need
ed he always knew what to say.
Once she had gotten off the phone with Emmett, she made her way down the stairs
and cornered her parents, demanding they tell her who Phil Dwyer was and why he
had written love letters to her mom. That was the beginning of the end of her pa
rent's marriage and Bella had never stopped blaming herself for not keeping quie
t about it. She could've asked her mom in private, she could've just not said an
ything at all. If only she hadn't invaded her mother's privacy and had left the
box of letters alone. If only her school paper was in the first box she had look
ed in. So many 'if only's'.
Bella's shoulders shuddered from her tears and the memory of what she found that
day along with the arguments between her parents that ensued afterwards. She la
y on the chaise listening to the rain fall outside, tears streaming down her fac
e, her heart aching from the emptiness she felt inside, feeling a need for somet
hing . . . but not exactly sure what it was.
~GO CUBS~
"Edward, I want you to meet . . ."
"Edward, how about that homer . . ."
"Edward, your average is dropping . . ."
Everywhere Edward turned, someone was striking up a conversation with him, filli
ng his ears with annoying clatter, making his head hurt more than it already did
. He needed aspirin, a quiet place, and . . . and Bella. He had been looking for
her for over a half an hour now and she was nowhere in sight. He stopped moving
and closed his eyes as he listened to the babble surrounding him. Placing a han
d through his tangled hair, he sighed before opening his eyes and searching for
a quiet place of solitude.
He heard his name being called as he walked by groups of people huddled together
in conversation but he ignored them all and made his way to one place he was su
re to find peace and quiet the porch. As he walked to the sliding glass doors, h
e continued to look for the enchantress that had overtaken his mind, leaving him
unsure of himself and what he wanted out of life.
It had been over a week now since he had gotten laid totally unheard of for him
and all because of a little chocolate-eyed girl that wasn't interested in him, i
n the Cubs' star short stop, at all. He had never had a problem attracting women
. No one had ever turned him down before. In all actuality, Bella had never turn
ed him down, but he knew she would he could tell. She just wasn't interested in
him for anything other than . . . than what? Did she even want to be friends?
Feeling worse than he had before, he quietly opened the door to the screened-in
porch and stepped into the cool, damp room, shutting the door behind him after a
quick look to make sure no one saw him venture into the wonderful seclusion. He
was taken off-guard though, when he heard a gasp behind him. Turning around, he
found himself staring into the mesmerizing doe-eyes of Bella.
"Oh," he said, shocked to not only find her hiding out on the porch, but also to
see that she had been crying. He didn't know what to do with a crying woman the
y made him nervous.
"Hi," she said slowly, wiping the tears off her cheeks and out of her eyes.
Edward watched as she sat up straight on the chaise and straightened out her wri
nkled shirt before smiling up at him. Friends, he reminded himself as he spotted
a box of tissues on a side table. He grabbed the box and smiled warmly at Bella
before sitting down next to her, both of their legs hanging over the side of th
e chaise.
"I know these parties can be boring," he joked with her, "but they aren't that b
ad."
She smirked while taking a tissue out and blowing her nose as quietly as possibl
e. "Thank you," she mumbled before taking a deep breath and looking up into his
melon colored eyes.
Edward was glad that she seemed to have stopped crying, but he was oddly curious
as to what was bothering her. "That sad over the game being postponed?" He nudg
ed her shoulder with his, a small crooked smile on his face and she chuckled, wi
ping her eyes with another tissue that she pulled out of the box.
"Just thinking of some skeletons in my closet," she mumbled.
"Skeletons?" he asked curiously.
Bella turned her body toward Edward and she looked at him thoughtfully. "I suppo
se you don't have any of those," she said sarcastically before running a hand th
rough her wavy brown tresses.
"Touché."
"So," Bella said quietly, "rough night?"
Edward laughed heartily as he began to relax, "a little too much to drink."
"Did you get any sleep last night?"
A slow crooked smile crept onto Edward's face as he realized she was trying to f
igure out if Newton had been accurate in his assumptions earlier. Yes, he did sl
eep in his own bed and, yes, he had been alone, but it also made him happy that
she was curious to know the truth. "I got home late, but I got some," he said sl
owly, trying to catch the expressions that ran across her face.
"As long as you didn't end up with Becca, or was it Ginger?"
"Definitely not, and thanks for that. I owe you."
"Any time," Bella sighed as she turned her eyes back to the grey sky outside.
"That's not a bad idea," Edward mused as he studied her profile.
"Hmm?" she asked, her head jerking back to look at him.
"I was just thinking. Maybe we could be each other's wingmen."
"Wingmen?" Bella cocked an eyebrow at him, confused about the way the conversati
on had turned.
"You know, I'll watch your back, you watch mine."
"I always thought a wingman helped the other person get laid," Bella slowly said
, thinking about the funny beer commercials.
"They normally do, but they also keep them from the enemy's attack," Edward leer
ed.
"The enemy?"
"You know, the ones that won't leave you alone no matter how rude you get with t
hem?"
"I bet you get a lot of that," she said shyly and he wondered why she was blushi
ng.
"I think you're the one who has needed to be saved more often than me," he laugh
ed, but then his face turned serious. "I just figure that as friends, we could l
ook out for each other. Jump in and save the day when someone won't leave the ot
her one alone."
"Yeah," Bella said, "sounds good." She looked down at her feet for a moment befo
re she looked up with a twinkle in her eye and Edward had to catch his breath sh
e was breathtaking. "So tell me, what kind of girl do you like?"
"What?" he said absurdly.
"If I'm going to be your wingman, I need to know what kind of girls you like so
that I know when to leave you to your game and when to jump in and save you."
Edward stared at the most beautiful woman he'd ever laid eyes on and almost star
ted describing her. Instead he decided to lie. "Blond, blue eyes, large tits, an
d easy." Did I just say tits to Bella?
She stared at him incredulously before shaking her head. "That just described mo
st of the women we see in the bars, Edward, you're gonna have to be more specifi
c than that."
"How about we make a sign," he suggested as he realized he wouldn't care if she
saved him every time he talked to another woman.
"What kind of sign?"
"How about if I run my hand through my hair whenever I want to be saved?" He ran
his hand through his unruly hair, showing Bella what he meant.
Bella laughed. "You always run your hand through your hair. You need something e
lse, something you don't normally do subconsciously."
"Okay," he paused to think. "How about if I rub the top of my nose?"
"What if you have an itch?"
"Good point." He paused again, thinking of something that wouldn't look odd, but
would be obvious to Bella. "I know. I'll pinch the bridge of my nose."
"I've seen you do that before."
"Yeah, but I only do it when I'm upset or agitated. You coming to my rescue woul
d be needed in either case." His crooked smile beamed down at Bella and she smil
ed back at him.
"Okay, but what if you're talking to a man and you do it?"
"Then don't take your time to get to me," he laughed and she joined in, finding
humor in the fact that he had a lot of male admirers. "How about you?"
"I'll play with my earrings. Either ear, it doesn't matter. It's a nervous habit
of mine, which I only do when I'm uncomfortable."
"Perfect."
The two of them sat in an awkward silence for a moment as both of them thought o
f what to say next, neither of them exactly sure how they felt about the other,
but both excited at the thought that they were becoming friends.
"Why don't you tell me what your ideal man is?" Edward asked hesitantly as he lo
oked up at her eyes.
"Well," Bella began, "I'm not really sure. I'm not too picky on hair color or an
ything like that. It's more about who he is inside." She frowned, and he wondere
d why she seemed so sad.
"What kind of guys do you normally date?"
"I don't date much," she said slowly. "Between work, school, and Cubs games, I d
on't really have the time." Her teeth sank into the soft flesh of her bottom lip
and Edward swallowed the lump in his throat as he felt himself harden.
"I didn't realize you took classes too," he said, shifting his seat to hide his
arousal.
"I'm taking my last class for my Masters," she said, smiling up at him. "After t
his, I just have a comprehensive exam."
"How do you find the time to juggle season tickets, work, and school?"
"I have a great boss, who buys my extra ticket off me whenever he can, so he doe
sn't say a word when I leave early as long as I get all my work done. My class i
s on Monday evenings, which can be bad if there's a game on a Monday night, but
normally there isn't . . . I checked the schedule before enrolling I just happen
ed to get lucky this semester and I skipped class this past Monday for the opene
r. "
"So, you have four season tickets?"
"Emmett has two and I have two, but they really belong to Emmett. He got them fr
om his company who used to use them to entertain clients but, with the economy,
they wanted to get rid of the extra expense," she said casually.
"I didn't think season tickets were transferrable."
"I'm not sure," she said, shrugging her shoulders. "All I know is that I pay for
two tickets each game and Emmett pays for the other two."
"You and Emmett are really close, how long have you known each other?" Edward wa
s jealous of the intimacy he had witnessed between the two. And for some odd rea
son, whenever Emmett touched her, even though it was innocent, he felt a snag of
possessiveness toward Bella and it confused him.
"God, we go way back," Bella said with a far-away look in her eyes. "We knew eac
h other as babies our parents were friends."
"So you grew up together?"
"Yeah, he's my best friend." Her words sent a stab of pain into Edward's chest a
nd he swallowed hard at the envy he felt.
"How does Rosalie feel about that? I mean," he stumbled over his last word, "she
seems pretty possessive of Emmett." He tried to make it sound like a casual que
stion, but it didn't come out exactly as he intended.
Bella laughed and looked down at the ground before looking back up into his inqu
iring eyes. "We didn't quite get along at first. You know, the ex-girlfriend mee
ting the current girlfriend and all," she started, but was interrupted by a chok
ing sound from Edward. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," he strangled out. "You used to date Emmett?"
"We were high school sweethearts." She chuckled at the look on Edward's face bef
ore continuing. "He was my first in everything," she said pointedly, "and Rose w
asn't too fond of that idea. It took her a while to warm up to me, but once she
figured out that I didn't move here to steal her man away from her, we became gr
eat friends." Bella looked over at Edward and raised her eyebrows at him. "What'
s wrong?"
"I'm just shocked that you and Emmett dated," he stammered. "It must be odd for
you to be around them."
"Not at all, Emmett's like a big brother to me. He wasn't in high school, but af
ter . . ." Bella's eyes got a far-away look in them and tears started to form.
"After what?" Edward asked cautiously.
"We're friends, right?" Bella asked uncertainly as a tear fell down her left che
ek.
"Yeah," Edward said softly, "best friends." He wanted so much to take Emmett's p
lace. He wanted to be the most important person man in Bella's life.
She smiled sincerely at his use of the phrase before continuing. "When you first
came in here, I had been thinking about my parents. They died almost four years
ago in a car accident." Her eyes pierced into Edwards and he lifted his hand an
d grabbed a hold of one of hers, squeezing it gently, letting her know that he w
as there for her.
"The accident was my entire fault really. I keep thinking that if I hadn't said
anything . . . if I hadn't of found . . ." Bella took a long look at Edward's ex
pectant eyes. "Edward, there's probably something you should know about my mom,"
she said hesitantly, looking extremely nervous. "Have you heard of Phil Dwyer?"
"Played for the Yankees a few years back," Edward stated. "He's going to be indu
cted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this year." Edward watched as her face sudde
nly looked wounded and he held back the urge to wrap his arms around her and pul
l her close into his chest to comfort her.
"Well, my mom knew him," she said, her words laced with venom. "She knew him ver
y well." Her heart raced as she brought up the history between her mother and th
e famous golden-boy of baseball all those years ago. "Apparently my mom was his
tumble-of-fun every time he came to Seattle to play the Mariners."
Edward's body stiffened at the words that Bella had just said. He knew all too w
ell what her mother had been to the Yankee's famous third baseman. He, personall
y, had a woman like that in San Diego and guilt immediately infused his heart. S
weaty palms, a racing heart, and flushed cheeks impaled him, but Bella didn't no
tice.
"I'm sorry," Bella choked out as she grabbed another tissue and wiped at her eye
s.
Not only was Edward's mind on what she had just told him about her mother and Ph
il Dwyer, but also about what she almost said, or half-said about her parent's d
eath. Did she honestly believe that she was responsible? It was on the tip of hi
s tongue to ask her more about what she had begun to tell him when she began to
speak again.
"Say something, Edward," she whispered before quietly blowing her nose.
"What?" he asked confused.
"Say something to get my mind off this." Bella grimaced as she looked up into hi
s eyes, which were lidded with concern.
"Um, Newton wears pink g-string panties under his uniform?"
"What?" she laughed out. "You can't be serious!"
"Aah," he beamed at her, "I've found something you don't know. Let's see . . . w
hat else could I possibly enlighten you about?
"Wait! You can't say that about Newton and not elaborate!" Bella had grabbed his
arm while she spoke. Looking down to where their skin touched, she slowly pulle
d her hand away. "What I mean is, is he a big Bull Durham fan or something?"
"I believe that's where he got his inspiration. He claims they bring the team go
od luck. If it weren't for the thought of touching something that has been insid
e his crack, I'd have confiscated all of them and burned them already." His body
shivered at the thought and Bella rubbed his arm, comforting him from the disgu
sting thoughts that plagued his mind.
When she noticed Edward staring at her, she abruptly removed her hand and spoke
again. "So, what else can you tell me about?"
"Yorkie grabs himself before each pitch."
"I knew it!" she said a little too loudly. Noticing how Edward flinched from the
shrill of her voice, she practically lowered it to a whisper. "Emmett didn't be
lieve me. At first I thought that maybe his cup was too small." She laughed when
Edward raised his eye brows, giving her an incredulous look. "I don't know!" sh
e laughed out loud again.
As Bella laughed, Edward thought back to what she had revealed to him earlier wh
at she was currently trying to clear her mind of. Her mom had had an affair with
Phil Dwyer. Immediately, his mind wandered to Jane, whom he saw every time he w
as in San Diego. He had never thought about how their relationship impacted her
life. Did Jane have a family? He had never asked and she had never offered up th
e information. It was suddenly very clear to him that there was nothing remotely
casual about casual sex nothing.
"Are you okay?" Bella looked at him with concern as she squeezed his hand that w
as still holding onto hers.
"Yeah," he said brashly, "I'm just exhausted."
"Well I guess it's a good thing the game was postponed then," she teased, and he
was happy to see that talking about something else had helped her get back to h
er normal self so easily. But was it healthy, he wondered?
"Come on," Edward said as he stood up, pulling her to stand with him. "Let's go
get some food, I'm starved!"
The two friends took off together to find the rest of the guests sitting around
and eating burgers, brats, ribs, and steak. Bella had never seen such a large sp
read at a barbeque before and she mentioned it to Edward who chuckled. "The Cull
en's never do anything half-way," he teased her.
After meeting up with Jazz and Alice, the four of them sat quietly and ate their
meals until James and Victoria came to sit at the table with them. Edward ended
up stuck between Bella and Victoria and his body tensed as the red head rubbed
her thigh up against his.
"Looking forward to the day off tomorrow?" Jazz asked Towne when he finished che
wing a bite of his brat.
"Yeah, was thinking of golfing but with all the rain, I'm not sure what I'm goin
g to do." He answered with his mouth full, spewing bits of his food across the t
able. "Maybe I'll go to the shooting range instead," he mused before taking anot
her bite of his ribs.
"He's leaving me all alone," Victoria pouted before leaning over toward Edward.
"Maybe we could meet up for lunch or something, I'm going to be bored."
Edward's breath hitched as he thought of how to reply, but Bella the wingman ste
pped in. "Sorry Victoria, Edward and I already have plans to meet for lunch tomo
rrow." She didn't elaborate or talk about any details, leaving it open, yet clos
ed since she didn't invite the red head to join them.
"Another time then, Edward?" Victoria asked coyly and Edward looked up to see Ja
mes smirk suggestively in his direction, making his stomach turn.
Bella came to the rescue again as she changed the subject, talking about all the
fun things there was to do in Chicago, suggesting places for Victoria to go see
or shop at. Edward sat back and watched as the three women conversed animatedly
about clothes now that Bella had brought up the word shop.
He was so enthralled with Bella; the way her smile lit up her whole face, the ex
pressions that ran through her eyes, the faint blush that tinted her cheeks when
she knew everyone was listening to her, the way she bit down on her lower lip w
hen she was deep in thought, every little nuance of Bella's was suddenly signifi
cant to him and he almost didn't catch what Alice mentioned.
"I'm a Designer in the Merchandise and Design department at Macy's," Alice said
proudly, catching Edward's attention away from his enchanting friend.
"You're a designer?" Edward asked in shock and all eyes turned to him, the women
confused and the men disgusted that he was interested.
"Yes, Edward, I'm responsible for the design, development, selection, and approv
al for all the clothes you see in the women's department at every Macy's in Illi
nois. Didn't you know that already?"
"No," he muttered, "I thought you . . ." looking into her eyes, he couldn't say
it. He couldn't tell her he thought she was a dumb, money-hungry opportunist who
worked a cash register in women's lingerie.
"You thought I what?" she prodded.
"I think what he was trying to say," Bella interjected as she placed her right h
and on Edward's thigh under the table, "is that he didn't realize you were respo
nsible for such a wide area. He thought that you were only responsible for the d
owntown Chicago store."
Talk continued on about Alice's position in Macy's between the three girls and E
dward started talking with Jazz and James, periodically sitting back and watchin
g the women, especially Bella since her hand was still lying on his thigh. Every
once in a while, she would look over at him and smile, catching him off-guard.
He was glad that they were able to be friends because being around her was so ea
sy and comfortable. It just felt right, as if they were always meant to be frien
ds. But there was a part of Edward that was aware of Bella in a way that, as a f
riend he shouldn't be, and he had to constantly readjust himself throughout the
night as every little look from her or when she bit down on her bottom lip cause
d his erection to grow. Eventually, he had to excuse himself and disappear into
the bathroom, hoping to find some time to think of his grandmother, dog, old men
in Speedos, something to get his arousal to go down.
When he emerged from the bathroom, he first stopped off in the kitchen to grab s
ix beers for the table before returning to find that Bella, Alice, and Jazz were
gone, leaving in their place, Newton and Crowley. Edward took a deep breath bef
ore marching over to sit across from Victoria at the table.
"Hey guys," Edward's smooth voice called as he took his seat, placing the six be
ers on the table.
"Masen," Newton belted out, "you finally awake? What happened to you last night?
You looked like death when you got here earlier."
Edward faked a laugh as he took a swig from his beer. "I'm fine, just drank a li
ttle too much."
"You shoulda come out with us last night then, we had a little competition," New
ton laughed and Crowley joined in, punching his blond friend on the shoulder.
"What competition was that?" James asked, interested in the game he missed.
"We went hoggin'," Crowley sniggered, trying hard not to choke on his beer.
"Not in front of the lady," Edward said irritated, even though Victoria barely c
ounted as one in his book.
Edward stayed at the table for a while as Newton and Crowley told James and Vict
oria of the women they had sex with the night before. He was actually surprised
that James told them that he wanted to join in next time, and as he looked acros
s the table, shocked that James would be open about this in front of his wife, h
e noticed Victoria wink at him. He immediately got up and left without another w
ord to the nauseating foursome.
He wandered around, going from group to group, talking with whomever, the whole
time searching for Bella. Eventually, he saw her amid a group of women. She look
ed happy as she spoke with the other ladies, and he just watched, not wanting to
interrupt.
"There you are," a woman's voice slurred and he turned to see Victoria advancing
on him.
"Victoria," he choked, "where's James?"
"He's busy digesting all the rules of hoggin'." She continued her advance as Edw
ard's feet scrambled underneath him, moving back from her until he found himself
up against a wall.
"I was just about to get going," he started.
"So soon?" Victoria asked as she lifted a hand and ran her fingers through his h
air.
Edward pulled his head back abruptly. "You're a married woman."
"James won't mind," she smirked. "Actually, he'll be insulted if you turn me dow
n."
Edward's fingers immediately went to the bridge of his nose and he squeezed gent
ly, trying to calm himself down. His eyes closed and he sighed out loudly before
opening them, looking in Victoria's eyes.
"It was nice talking to you," he began, but was interrupted by a small warm arm
wrapping around his waist. Looking down, Edward saw Bella attach herself to him
and she leaned in, her lips coming to rest on his neck.
"I'm getting tired, hon," she moaned into his skin, sending an electric current
throughout his body.
Bella's lips continued to press against his neck and he put his arms around her
waist, pulling her in closer, separating Victoria from his personal space. Edwar
d used a hand to lift her chin, bringing her face up to his and he bent down and
brushed his lips against hers.
"I guess I was too late."
Edward heard Victoria's voice, but he didn't acknowledge her. He was amused, how
ever, with the way Bella's lips curled up into a smile against his, and he took
the opportunity to open his mouth, his tongue sneaking out into hers, deepening
their kiss. Her hands reached up and combed through his unruly hair and he moane
d into her mouth, delighting in the feel of her hands on him and her breath ming
ling with his.
But before he was ready, Bella pulled away from him, her hands moving down to re
st on his chest as she looked up at him, smirking. "She's quite a handful," Bell
a quipped with a snort.
"I thought you'd never come," he groaned while pulling her waist in toward him a
nd she smiled. "Which has me thinking," he said slowly as he took an arm away fr
om her and pulled his cell phone out of his back pocket. "Give me your number?"
"Here," she said as she took his phone and handed him hers. They both programmed
their numbers into each other's phones before handing them back to the other. "
I'm sorry we took off on you earlier," she said sheepishly. "Mike and Tyler came
over to the table and we just couldn't deal with them very long."
Edward sighed as he put his arms back around Bella's waist, pulling her back int
o him. "You left me hanging there," he reprimanded her, teasingly. "Next time I
won't be so forgiving." He winked before bending down and placing an innocent ki
ss on her lips.
Bella was staring up at him and he wondered what he'd been thinking to do someth
ing so stupid as she stepped away from him. "I've got to get going," she sounded
nervous, "I've got some homework to finish up still."
"I'll drive you," he offered hesitantly. He didn't want to seem overanxious but
he didn't want to be away from her either.
"Um, I don't want to take you away from the party. I'll just have Alice bring me
, then she can come right back."
"Okay." Edward was confused by her abrupt change of demeanor and he swallowed a
lump in his throat as he decided he had definitely over-stepped his bounds with
the kiss. "Can I call you tomorrow?" he asked, suddenly feeling unsure of where
they stood with each other.
"Yeah," she smiled at him as she took a step backwards. "Call me in the morning,
maybe we can do lunch."
Edward's heart soared. She actually wanted to go to lunch with him. He smiled wa
rmly at her, reached out, took her by the waist, and pulled her back into him. H
e squeezed her tightly, giving her a big hug and kissed her on her cheek. "I'll
take you to Alice," he said sweetly, and then he led her to her friend in silenc
e.
Chapter 5 April 20, 2009
Bella stepped off the El and started walking the rest of the way to her office.
Normally, she would take a bus to get a bit closer before her walk but the weath
er this morning wasn't too bad. It had finally stopped raining and she could sme
ll spring in the air it was perfect. She was still a bit tired from the night be
fore, so the cool morning wind that blew past helped to wake her up and rejuvena
te her she would need it today.
After returning home from the barbeque last night, she had finished some stuff f
or work and then reread the case study and her analysis for her class before pas
sing out. Her dreams last night were odd. There were dancing raspberries with lo
bsters eating baseballs and jets flying overhead shooting at the scene below. It
was strange, but she knew exactly where each facet of the dream had come from,
at least.
As she thought of her peculiar dream on her way to the office, she focused on th
e raspberries and sighed. She had kissed Edward again last night and of course h
e tasted like raspberries. At first she thought she had dreamt it, but this time
, she knew for a fact that it was real. But it wasn't just the raspberries that
kept her mind on Edward this morning. It was the memory of the way she felt in h
is arms, the way his lips moved against hers, the way his tongue gently mingled
with hers, the way his arms held her close against his chest, the way his eyes b
urned like a fire behind the melon green façade, the way her heart leaped when he
was near, and how her body tingled with every touch of his skin. There was somet
hing about Edward Masen that made her react in a way she never had before to any
one man or woman.
Unfortunately, she thought as she rode up the elevator to the fourteenth floor,
he was a baseball player. There was no way she could ever entertain the idea of
anything more than being friends with Edward. She shouldn't even contemplate bei
ng his friend, really, but it was too late for that. Everything about him pulled
at her. She didn't think she could go on if she didn't know that she'd see him
again. His presence was like a drug and it scared her.
"What's going on with you and Edward Masen?"
Bella had barely made it through the doors of her office when Jessica approached
her, demanding to know what was up with her and Edward. She took a deep breath,
rolled her eyes, and continued on toward her cubicle.
"Nothing," Bella said over her shoulder to the secretary that pranced at her hee
ls. "He's a good friend."
"That's not what you called him on Friday night."
"What?" Bella stopped abruptly in the hallway and turned to look at Jessica.
"Edward and I were getting along great, and then out of the blue, he left me and
went right over to you and some guy. The next thing I know, Edward's kissing yo
ur neck and you're telling this guy that Edward's your boyfriend. And then the t
wo of you leave together!"
"Oh," Bella said as she continued her walk to her cube and then placed her bag o
n top of her desk. "Jessica, I know what it looked like, but believe me, it's no
thing."
"Are you dating him?"
"No." Bella looked around to make sure no one was listening to their conversatio
n and then she sat down in her chair. "Edward and I are friends and he was just
saving me from that pervert. The guy actually had the nerve to-"
"So he's still available?" Jessica interrupted in an excited voice.
Bella eyed the beautiful girl in front of her but, as she looked closely, she re
alized she wasn't as pretty as she always thought her to be. Her light brown cur
ly hair seemed to lack any sort of shine and her face had too much make-up on it
, making Bella wonder what she was hiding underneath. Her eyes were a pretty haz
el, but even as Jessica's best quality, they still lacked any depth.
"I guess so," Bella wavered. "But honestly, Jess, he really isn't looking for a
girlfriend."
"Who said anything about a girlfriend?" She gasped. "I'd just be glad to spend o
ne night in his bed."
"Hey Bella," Angela called, as she walked over to Bella's cube.
"Angela," Bella breathed out, grateful for the interruption.
"Jess, there's someone in reception," Angela said sweetly.
Both girls watched as Jessica strode away and they rolled their eyes. "Tell me w
hy we put up with her again?" Angela giggled.
"She's not so bad," Bella said peculiarly, "if you take her in small doses."
"So, are you going to tell me what's going on between you and that hunk of a man
?"
"Ang," Bella groaned. "Seriously, between you and Jessica, I just want to scream
. Nothing is going on between me and Edward. He's a friend and that's it."
"You two looked awfully close on the dance floor," she smiled widely.
"You saw us dancing?" Bella moaned. "You know I can't dance. Both he and Alice h
ave some notion of teaching me how, that's all." Bella gave her friend a stern l
ook. "Now, are you going to tell me why I had to sit at a table Friday night and
watch that boyfriend of yours fondling you?"
"I'm sorry about that," she said uncomfortably. "We were kind of in the moment."
"I'd say," Bella giggled. "Hey, you and Ben want to go to the game tomorrow?"
"You have two tickets?"
"I think so. Let me check again with Emmett first, to make sure though. I think
Rosalie can't get out of work for the rest of the week, though it is a night gam
e tomorrow and Wednesday. Let me double check, but you could probably go to all
three games, if you wanted."
"We can't afford that and you know it. But let me talk to Ben, maybe he'd like t
o go to all three."
"Honestly, if we can't find anyone to buy the tickets, I really don't mind just
letting you have them. The money has already been paid may as well have someone
sit in the darn seats."
"Fine," Angela said as she looked over toward their boss's door. "You talk to Em
mett and then let us know. We can at least afford a few tickets," she whispered
before she silently waved and walked away.
Bella put everything she had into her work, making sure she got everything done
that she needed. Today was Monday and there was no game, so she'd be putting in
a long day working until it was time to leave for her class in the evening. Igno
ring the goofing around that was going on at other cubicles near her, she put on
her head phones, blocking out the noises around her while she worked.
At 10:30, she got up to use the restroom. When she got back to her desk, she saw
her cell phone poking out of her jacket pocket that hung on the wall of her cub
e. Pulling it out, she noticed she had missed a call from Edward. Her body becam
e heated as she stared at her phone, wondering if she should call him back. Clos
ing her eyes, she opened her phone and sank into her chair as she selected his n
ame from her list and pressed the send button.
"So you aren't blowing me off," Edward's velvet voice said when he picked up.
"What?" Bella asked confused.
"You didn't answer my call. I assumed you were standing me up for lunch."
"Some people do actually have real jobs, Edward. I can't just drop everything fo
r you the moment my phone rings."
"Are we still on for lunch?"
"Sure, what time do you want to go?"
"Well, I'm over at the park right now, but I can probably get out of here in an
hour. Would twelve be too late?"
"No, that's fine. What did you have in mind?"
"Where exactly is your office?"
"The corner of Wacker and Madison in the south loop."
"Oh, right across from the Lyric Opera house?"
"Yeah, that's it," Bella answered wondering why a jock would know where the oper
a house was. Then it dawned on her that he'd probably been there for some charit
y function or something.
"Is there a place right on the river we could eat at?"
"Sure, there're a few places we go to right on the river. Though to be honest, I
don't have time for a sit-down meal."
"Well, I'm in the mood for a good burger, anything around there?"
"Blackies' is a few blocks southeast. They have great burgers . . . but it's sit
down." Bella frowned as she looked at her schedule for the day. "Hold on, let m
e see what's going on this afternoon. If I can get out of a meeting-"
"I'm not going to take you away from a meeting," Edward interrupted.
"Just hold on," Bella clipped.
Gently placing her cell on her desk, she walked over to Jessica and asked about
the importance of the staff meeting at 1:00 PM. Jessica didn't seem to want to g
ive out too much information, so Bella continued over to her boss's office and p
oked her head in.
"Marcus?"
"Hey Bella!"
"I'm going to have to miss the meeting today, is that okay?"
"Sure. It's nothing too exciting really. It's mainly for the new people who cont
inue to make the same mistakes over and over again. I think we're going to have
to revamp our training program. Actually, I was going to ask if you'd like to he
ad that up?"
"Um, sure-"
"Hold on," Marcus said as he answered his ringing phone. He then rolled his eyes
as he listened and motioned for Bella to leave and close his door on the way ou
t. She had gotten good at deciphering his hand gestures over the past few years.
Hastily walking back to her cube, she picked up her phone, her face bright red f
rom leaving Edward so long. "I'm so sorry Edward. I was talking with my boss."
"You need to get some elevator music for when you put people on hold," he chuckl
ed.
"I could've just hung up on you," she laughed. "Well, I don't need to attend tha
t meeting after all. I can go anywhere now, but if you're in the mood for a good
burger, Blackies is really the place to go. But it's not on the river. There's
a place at the Merc that has an excellent flourless chocolate cake for desert an
d it's on the river."
"Either one's fine, should I pick you up at your office?"
Bella stood and looked over to the reception area and saw Jessica smiling as she
spoke animatedly over the phone. "That's up to you. If you do come into the off
ice, I'm afraid that a certain secretary may latch herself onto you. But that mi
ght be exactly what you're after . . ."
"How about I meet you on the corner of Wacker and Madison then?"
"Sure," Bella said. "How's twelve o'clock on the northwest corner?"
"I'll see you then."
"Bye." Bella closed her phone and then held it to her chest, right above her pou
nding heart. What was wrong with her? Why did her body react this way to a man t
hat could only hurt her?
Bella was in a zone, working herself as hard as she could to finish a few things
before lunch. People walked by and said hi, but she only mumbled out a quick he
llo, never glancing in their direction. With taking so much time off to go to th
e games, there was always a lot of work for her when she was in the office and t
oday was no different. Actually, it was worse because Mondays were always busier
and because she planned on taking at least two hours for lunch. Her phone rang,
pulling her out of her groove.
"Hello?" she answered, knowing it was a Washington State number, but not sure wh
o it might be.
"Bella?" A rough voice spoke and she immediately knew who it was.
"Billy?" she gasped, smiling into her cell. "Billy Black?"
"Hi Bella," he said sweetly and she felt wetness start to pool in her eyes. The
last time she spoke to him was on the three year anniversary of her parents' dea
th. He always made sure to call her on that day. "I'm sorry to bother you during
the day, but I'm on my way out and wanted to get a hold of you before I forgot.
"
"It's not a problem Billy. How are you doing?"
"I'm rolling with the best of them," he chuckled and Bella smiled even brighter.
He had a great sense of humor about his condition. Being confined to a wheel ch
air never seemed to damper his mood. Throughout her whole life, Billy was always
able to put a smile on her face. Even at her parents' funeral, he lit up her wo
rld. There was something calming in his friendly eyes and smile.
"How are your kids?"
"Oh, they're doing great. Actually, it's the reason I was calling."
"Really? What's going on?"
"Well, Jacob has up and moved to Chicago."
"He has?" She nearly squealed. Jacob was her close friend when they were kids; t
hey were inseparable when their families got together. As they got older and sta
rted hanging out with friends from their different schools, they drifted apart.
Then, when Bella started dating Emmett, she had stopped hanging out with Jacob a
ll together. Now, as an adult, she felt guilty. Sighing sadly inside, she berate
d herself for ditching a friend for a boyfriend. It was such a stupid thing to d
o.
"He's been out there for about a month now and I keep telling him to look you up
."
"Of course! I'd love to get in touch with him! Have you given him my number?"
"Yes, but he's a bit shy," he said roughly. "I was hoping that you might call hi
m, show him around the town some time?"
"Sure," Bella said excitedly. "What's his number?"
Bella wrote down Jacob's number as Billy read it off to her. Afterwards, they sp
oke for a while about his daughters. Rebecca was married and living in Hawaii wi
th her husband and Rachel was engaged to one of Jacob's good friends, Paul. The
twins were a couple years older than Bella and Bella was a two years older than
Jacob. Being right in the middle, Bella played with all three of them, but for s
ome reason she got along better with Jake than the twins. She felt a little unco
mfortable around them since they didn't even need to speak to communicate with o
ne another. She and Jake played great together, but the few times they saw each
other in the awkward pre-teen and teenage years, they were shy and nervous aroun
d one another. The last time she saw or spoke to Jacob, or his sisters, was the
day of her parents' funeral and, of course, she didn't remember much of that day
.
Once she was finished with her phone call with Billy, Bella got back to work, on
ly to notice she didn't have much time before Edward would be waiting down on th
e street corner for her. Saving her work and locking her screen, she grabbed her
jacket before telling Angela she was leaving.
~GO CUBS~
Edward waited patiently with the collar of his jacket pulled up over his neck an
d a Mariner's baseball cap secured to his head. Not only did he wear it for Bell
a, since he knew she was a Mariners fan, but it worked as a disguise as well. No
one should recognize him in the offensive hat, though he was fearful if anyone
did. All he needed was for someone to take a picture of him in the hat and the r
umors would fly.
It was a cool April day, and thankfully it had stopped raining. The Cubs had one
more series at home, which started tomorrow, and then they would pack up for a
week, playing in St. Louis and Arizona before returning to Chicago. He thought o
f the road trip ahead of him as he waited. He had never felt anxious to leave Ch
icago for any reason, until now. The thought of not being able to see Bella afte
r the game put a damper on the week he'd be gone. Even now, waiting for his frie
nd, he was having a hard time concentrating on anything but her.
"Hey there All Star, nice hat!"
Edward's body jerked as he was pulled out of his thoughts by Bella's elbow nudgi
ng his arm. He turned his head to see her leaning back against the building next
to him. Her smile was bright, as if she were happy to see him and it melted his
heart which beat faster in her presence.
"Shh," he teased her, "it's my disguise." Once she stopped laughing at him, he p
ushed off the wall and waited for her. "Shall we go?" he asked and she followed
suit, pushing herself away from the wall.
"So, what's this place we're going to?" he asked.
"Well, there's Rivers, which is right on the river. It's the place I told you ab
out that has the best flourless chocolate cake ever, and then there's Blackies,
which is just down the road and across the river from Rivers. Which do you think
you're in the mood for?"
"Let's see how crowded the first place is and if it's not too bad, we'll eat the
re."
"Sure."
They didn't speak much as they walked down the street because Bella seemed to be
in a zone, leading the way, dodging around obstacles, weaving through the slew
of people that crowded the sidewalks. It was way too crowded for him. Even in hi
s disguise, he noticed people doing double-takes in his direction. He never vent
ured downtown during the work week unless it was absolutely necessary. He'd have
to think of somewhere else they could go the next time they went out for lunch.
Arriving at the Merc, Bella motioned in through the glass walls. "This is Rivers
. The food is good, but you won't be getting a cheeseburger here."
"Am I dressed okay?" Edward looked down at his jeans before looking up into Bell
a's eyes.
"I'm sure you'd be fine. I don't remember there being a dress code." Turning aro
und, she looked through the window again and Edward took note of how her black p
ants formed to her tight ass. "Actually," she said, turning back around to face
him. "I'm not really sure. I don't see anyone in there in jeans, but it is durin
g the work week and not too many people wear jeans to work down here."
"Let's go over to the other place then. It's not as fancy as this, is it?"
"Nah, but there probably won't be anyone in jeans there either," she warned him
and he shrugged his shoulders.
Edward took off his hat as they entered the restaurant and Bella smiled up at hi
m, her eyes lingering on his unruly hair. Self consciously, he ran a hand throug
h it, shaking his head at her. "Don't mess with my hair, woman, it's got a mind
of its own."
"I'll say," she giggled.
They had to wait twenty minutes to be seated, but once they were, the service wa
s impeccable. They both ordered bacon cheeseburgers with fries and Edward smiled
at her choice, finding it nice that she didn't order a salad or something healt
hy. That was one way that Jane always bothered him. She was a vegetarian, or som
ething, and always made him feel guilty for ordering something greasy.
"So you have class tonight?" Edward asked between bites.
"Yeah," she replied before taking a sip of her coke. "I feel bad for missing it
last week."
"I'm sure your teacher will understand. It was the Cubs' home opener after all."
His lips curled up into a smile and he watched as she paused before taking anot
her bite.
"I don't think that'll work on her," she said after swallowing her food. "I offe
red her my extra ticket and she lectured me." She laughed. A full heartfelt laug
h and he watched, his eyes transfixed on her lips.
"Will you be at the game tomorrow?"
"Yeah, it's nice that the next two games are at night. I'll be able to actually
work two full days in a row!" She exclaimed in mock excitement.
"Excuse me," a tall man in a full suit interrupted with a pen and piece of paper
in his hand. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I was wondering if I could get your a
utograph?"
Edward took a deep breath as he looked back at Bella. Normally, he didn't mind s
igning autographs here and there, but he wasn't sure how she would take it. "Do
you mind?" He asked her quietly.
"No, go ahead," she replied sheepishly, blushing.
"I had tickets to yesterday's game," the man said as Edward took the pen and pap
er from him. "I was going to bring my son."
"What's his name?"
"Billy," the man said, smiling as he watched Edward write out a quick note to Bi
lly and then sign it.
"Well hopefully you can make the make-up game," Edward said as he passed both ob
jects back to the tall lingering figure.
"We hope so," the man looked nervously between Edward and Bella. "Well, thank yo
u."
Edward nodded to the man before he walked away, and then suddenly became fearful
that the man would have started a trend. He got very quiet as he slouched in hi
s chair, hiding his face with his hands, which he propped on top of the table.
"Are you okay?" Bella inquired, the flesh between her eyebrows puckering in her
perusal of him.
"I just don't want to get bombarded with having to sign autographs."
"Well, I think you're safe for now, stop trying to shrink into your seat." She w
hispered with a laugh.
Edward lifted his head and looked around. There were some people looking over at
him, but no one made any move to get up from their seats. Avoiding eye contact
with everyone around them, he sat up straight and relaxed.
"Geeze, Edward, you're not that famous."
"I guess not," he chuckled. "Do you want desert?"
"Only if it's good. I'm very picky."
"Are you now?"
"Yes. I won't eat anything with nuts in it or anything with chunks of fruit eith
er."
"You don't like nuts or fruit?"
"Oh, I love nuts and fruit," she said rather animatedly and then abruptly stoppe
d as her cheeks turned pink. "What I meant to say is that I like both, but not m
ixed in my desert."
"How about plain cheesecake?"
"Perfect."
Edward ordered one cheesecake and two forks. They shared their desert, and Edwar
d reveled in the feeling of being Bella's friend, even though it wasn't really a
ll that he wanted. Well, he didn't want anything more relationship-wise, he want
ed her physically. She was a very desirable woman. Who knows, Edward thought. Ma
ybe someday they could have an intimate relationship and be able to keep their f
riendship.
As he watched her take another bite of their desert, guilt grabbed hold of his t
hroat, causing him to force down his last bite. How could he ever think that way
about this wonderful person? She had just yesterday explained to him about the
relationship her mother had with Phil Dwyer and he wanted to treat her the same
way? Inside he fumed over his pig-headedness, but on the outside he grew hard be
neath his jeans as he imagined what it would feel like to be inside her body as
she moaned out his name. Awkwardly shifting in his seat, Edward adjusted himself
as he watched Bella pick up the last bite of desert. She held her fork up, offe
ring the last piece to him.
"No thanks," he smiled and then watched as the fork disappeared in her mouth. He
readjusted himself and then grabbed their bill which was already sitting on the
ir table.
As they got up to leave the restaurant, Edward gave his Mariners hat to Bella wi
th a pleading look in his eyes. She smirked, but took the hat and placed it on h
er head, adjusting the strap in the back.
"Thank you for lunch," she said casually as they strolled down the street. "I wi
sh you would've let me pay for myself though." She scrunched her nose up at him.
"I invited you," he said languidly. "Next time, you can pay."
"Promise?" She asked, out of breath.
"Scout's honor."
"You weren't a scout Masen," she giggled.
No, he wasn't and that's something she'd know. "Somehow I get the feeling that y
ou know more about me than I do."
"Someone's got to remember all this stuff. I wouldn't want you to go around lyin
g to all the ladies, trying to show them your slippery hitch."
"My what?" he coughed.
"See? Right there! I'm talking about a knot and your mind wanders to . . . to .
. . Well, you definitely weren't a Boy Scout."
"And you were?"
"Emmett was. I had to help him with all his knots." Bella's eyebrows lifted sugg
estively and she laughed in his direction.
His heart constricted at the suggestive mention of her ex-boyfriend. "Emmett was
a scout? He doesn't seem the type."
"And what type is that?"
"I don't know," Edward mumbled, not wanting to be rude or stereotypical. So far,
Bella and her friends had proven to be anything but conventional.
"So Jennifer's looking to latch on to me?" he asked, changing the subject to avo
id answering Bella's question.
"Who?"
"Jennifer?" When Bella still looked confused, he ran his hand through his hair,
"whatever your secretary's name is."
"Jessica," she corrected him. "Yeah, she attacked me first thing this morning as
king if we're an item. And she's not my secretary, she's the office receptionist
."
"What did you tell her?"
"That you're still available." She winked while flashing him a mischievous smile
.
"Masen!" a booming voice bellowed. Immediately, someone had forced his way in fr
ont of Edward and grabbed his hand, shaking it profusely. "I can't believe it's
you!"
"Neither can I," Edward said cautiously, his eyes roaming over to Bella, making
sure she wasn't harmed during the man's quick approach.
By the time Edward shook the excited fan from his arm, they were back at Bella's
office. She turned to face him near the entry to the building and smiled. "Than
ks again for lunch."
"Anytime, Bella."
Edward pulled a pack of gum out of his jacket pocket and held out a piece for Be
lla. "Would you like a piece?"
"What kind is it?"
"Raspberry Sorbet."
"Raspberry?" she asked as she took the stick from his hand. "I think Alice start
ed chewing this kind recently."
"Yeah, she borrowed a piece one day and freaked out asking me nine million quest
ions about it. I went and bought her a six-pack of the stuff so she wouldn't ste
al mine every time we see each other."
Bella held the stick of gum up to her nose and breathed in the scent. A warm smi
le spread across her face and Edward watched as her shoulders relaxed and a deep
blush rose to her cheeks. He wondered why the smell of raspberry gum had that a
ffect on her and was about to ask, but she spoke first.
"Well . . . I'll see you later?" she asked sheepishly, the piece of gum still he
ld in her hand by her face.
"Of course. We're friends, right?"
"Right."
"And Bella?"
"Yeah?"
"You can tell Jessica that I'm not available anymore."
"Seriously Edward? You think lying to your gaggle of girls is going to win you a
ny brownie points with me?"
"I'm not lying. I'm going to take a break from girls for a while." At Edward's d
eclaration, Bella's eyes grew big. "And I would wager a lot of money that you we
re never a Brownie." When her eyes drew together he laughed, knowing he was corr
ect. "Oh, and I'm not trying to win any points with you. We're just friends, rem
ember?" With those words, he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek before walk
ing away, whistling the song he had started composing the day he met her.
The song still lingered in Edward's mind as he walked into his condo almost an h
our later. There was something about the chocolate-eyed enchantress that he just
couldn't shake. Even if all he could ever be was her friend, she still inspired
him to be better, to want better. Spending time with her these past few days ha
d filled a space in his heart that he never knew existed. He smiled more often,
laughed louder, and was generally a happier man.
Grabbing a bottle of water from his fridge, he walked into the living room and s
at down, looking through his mail. He received a couple of movies from NetFlix a
nd he pulled them out, not sure what was next in his queue. Looking at the title
s, he saw that he had received some new vampire movie that seemed to be the craz
e right now and the last disc for season six of The Sopranos.
Throwing both discs onto his coffee table, he threw his head back against the co
uch and placed his hands over his face. Bella was still on his mind. He couldn't
seem to stop thinking about her and his body desired her more than any woman he
had ever desired before. Plus, it had been over a week now since he had gotten
laid. "How much longer can I go on?" He muttered before grabbing the remote and
turning on his TV. It was well after two in the afternoon and most channels had
soap operas on. Turning to HBO, he left the rerun of True Blood on, sat back, an
d watched, his mind still on the Mahogany beauty he had shared lunch with earlie
r.
As he watched an erotic scene on the TV, he pictured Bella in his mind, his body
responding to the current of his thoughts. Her long beautiful mahogany hair, ch
ocolate brown eyes, pink, pouty lips, bright smile, heart-shaped face, strawberr
y scent, silky, soft skin, and soft sensual voice permeated his thoughts. Unbutt
oning his pants, his hand slipped inside, grasping his hardened mass, stroking h
imself as he closed his eyes and imagined Bella's moist, soft lips around him, h
er sweet tongue swirling around his head. He came unexpectedly fast and shuddere
d against the couch, calling out Bella's name.
Cursing himself, he got up and took a shower. He really needed to get laid. He h
ad relieved himself more in the last week than he thought he had as a teenage bo
y. Maybe he needed to go out tonight and find someone anyone to sleep with. Mayb
e if he had sex he'd stop fantasizing about this one small, frail, little girl a
nd get back to his normal self. But that wasn't what he wanted, was it?
He had told Bella that he was no longer available, that he was giving up the lad
ies for a while. What exactly had he meant by that? Leaning his head against the
shower wall, he let the hot water fall against his back. He didn't know where t
hose words had come from or why he felt like saying them to her. What was he try
ing to achieve with this?
After drying off, he sat on the couch and put the vampire movie in his Blu-Ray p
layer. He couldn't really enjoy the movie because the main character had brown h
air and brown eyes, reminding him a little of his Bella. She's not mine, he remi
nded himself as he got up and went into the kitchen to fix himself some dinner.
Afterwards, he struggled with the decision to go out and find a girl to screw or
stay home and watch the last two episodes of The Sopranos. In the end, he wound
up playing Guitar Hero on the Wii and going to bed early. Unfortunately, it jus
t gave him more time to toss and turn in his bed as he contemplated his motives
behind giving up women for the time being. Also, what would that mean for him an
d Jane? Not only that, but should he tell Bella about Jane? No, a voice inside h
is head whispered. She's not your girlfriend. You don't need to tell her.
~GO CUBS~
Jane stood in the back of the rancid, smoky hallway by the bathroom doors with t
ears rolling off her cheeks. Lighting up, she took a puff of her cigarette as sh
e thought of what she needed to do. This was the last time she was going to allo
w Carlos to treat her like a sack of shit. She needed to find a way out.
Unfortunately, without an education and too many bills piling up, there wasn't m
uch she could do. She needed money it was the only way to free herself from the
mess of her life. She took another drag off her cigarette before wiping her chee
ks dry and straightening her skirt. Walking back into the main area of the bar,
she watched as Carlos flirted with some red head by the jukebox. She marched rig
ht out the establishment's doors, unnoticed to everyone there.
Jane wasn't sure how she made it home, but somehow she was there. Stumbling out
of the driver's side of her car, she burped from the affects of the alcohol that
consumed her body. After staggering her way through the door of her trailer, sh
e made herself a pot of coffee while she changed and then sat down, resting her
elbows on the table, her head in her hands. Carlos wouldn't be home for a while
and she needed to sober up and figure out what to do.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
She jumped at the sound of someone knocking on her trailer door. "Who is it?" sh
e yelled.
"Jane, its Lisa, Lisa from next door?"
Moaning to herself, Jane put her cup of coffee on the table and went to let her
next door neighbor and the kid inside. "Sorry, I just got home," she slurred.
Little Bobby ignored Jane and ran to the back of the trailer, where his bedroom
was.
"Jane, are you going to be all right with him alone?"
"I'll be fine," she garbled in reply. "Do you want a cup of coffee?"
"No thanks," Lisa said hesitantly. "I need to get home. It's well after midnight
."
After Lisa had left, Jane went and checked on her seven year old son. He was lyi
ng face down on his bed sound asleep. She picked up a blanket off the floor, cov
ered the boy with it, and then sat down on the side of the bed rubbing his back.
"I'm going to find a way for us, baby," she whispered through her tears.
Finding her way back to the table and her purse, she pulled out her phone and st
ared at it. What time was it in Chicago? She'd have to disguise her voice, make
sure he couldn't tell that she was drunk or high before she called. She needed t
o know when he was coming to see her. When she found his number on her cell, she
paused, staring at it as her heart pounded in her chest. He had never given her
his number. Normally when he called, he showed up as PRIVATE, but once, his num
ber had actually shown up. She saved the number without telling him. She had nev
er used it before. She'd only saved it in case of an emergency. Pushing the send
button on her cell, she held her breath waiting for him to answer.
"The Cincinnatian Hotel," a polite voice answered the call.
"The what?" Jane asked, confusion washing over her as she looked down at her pho
ne that showed she was connected to Edward's number.
"The Cincinnatian Hotel, how may I help you?"
"I'm sorry," Jane slurred, "I must have the wrong number."
Closing her phone, she slammed it on the table, mad at Edward for never giving h
er his phone number. How was she supposed to get in touch with him? Taking anoth
er sip of her coffee, she thought of who might know when the Cubs would be in to
wn next. She had to find out so that she could make arrangements for her plan, t
he plan that would set her free from Carlos.
She had met Edward in a bar one night while she was out with her friends. She wa
s dressed nicer than normal, wearing her girlfriend's dress and heels. Her makeu
p was done nice, as was her normally wiry pale-blond hair. She knew who he was f
rom the talk of everyone at the bar, so she took off her wedding rings and appro
ached him. They hit it off and spent the three nights he stayed in San Diego in
a hotel room. He even got her tickets to the games so she could watch him play.
After that, he would call her up every time he was in town and she'd put on her
best clothes, stop smoking, do her hair and makeup nice, and pretend to be a veg
etarian, thinking that was the type of girl he was used to dating. For two years
now she had been waiting for him to move their relationship to something more.
She wanted out of her marriage to Carlos. If she had the money, she would fly ou
t to Chicago and track him down, but she had no idea where to find him, even if
she did make it to the Windy City.
This had to work, she thought as she downed the remainder of her coffee and then
refilled her cup. She was sick and tired of waiting for him to make the next mo
ve. She was going to have to do it, for her sake, as well as her son's. And if h
e didn't want her, if he refused her, she would have to come up with a plan. Her
mind raced with ideas as she thought of the best ways to get money out of him.
This was it. The next time he was in town, she would confront him with what she
wanted. If that didn't work, she would execute her plan. One way or another, it
would work, it had to.
Chapter 6 April 21 22, 2009
"Bella!" Alice's voice pierced through the walls of Bella's room, drawing her ou
t of her heavy slumber. "You're going to be late for work if you don't get up."
Rolling over in bed, Bella turned off her alarm that had been screeching loudly.
Her right hand went to rub her heavy feeling stomach and she winced from the qu
easiness that enveloped her. Afraid to make any sudden movements, Bella lay stil
l as she thought of the things she had to do today.
After returning from her lunch with Edward yesterday, Bella had called Jacob and
left a voicemail telling him to call her. She wanted to bring him to the Cubs g
ame tonight since Angela and Ben ended up having plans and wouldn't need the ext
ra ticket. She needed to get in touch with him sometime today so that they could
plan to meet up before the game and get to know each other again.
She also needed to call her partner for her class. Her teacher had divided them
up into pairs for which she would have to work on the last case study with. It w
as a lot of work and she was glad for the opportunity to work on it with someone
else, but she didn't do well with groups or partners. Due to her season tickets
, she liked being able to make her own schedule, sometimes even doing her homewo
rk during the wee hours of the morning. When she got up to talk with Chad her as
signed partner after class, all she had time for was to exchange phone numbers b
ecause her stomach had cramped up and started rumbling. She barely made it into
the bathroom as she ran from the poor guy, totally embarrassed and hoped he wasn
't offended.
The gurgles from her stomach were even louder this morning and Bella covered it
with both hands this time, wishing the pain would go away. Noises from the bathr
oom kept Bella staring at the ceiling. There were two bathrooms in the townhouse
that she shared with Alice, but only one on the top floor where their rooms wer
e. There was no way that she'd make it down to the other bathroom in time. Once
she stood up, she'd be like a walking time bomb, ready to explode. Her stomach r
umbled again and she closed her eyes, praying to keep everything down long enoug
h for Alice to finish up.
"Bella?" Alice's voice had turned soft as she opened Bella's door to peer in at
her best friend and roommate. "Are you okay?"
Bella opened her eyes, a stray tear falling out onto her pillow when she did. As
soon as her mind recognized the fact that the bathroom was empty, bile shot int
o Bella's throat and she bolted from her bed. She immediately covered her mouth
with one hand as she ran to the bathroom. She couldn't figure out what she had t
o do more, puke or sit on the toilet, so she grabbed the white plastic waste bas
ket as she rounded the corner into the bathroom, threw down her sweat pants, plu
nked down on the toilet, and placed her head in the trash can as she relieved he
rself from both ends at the same time.
Once her stomach had stopped heaving, she threw her head back against the wall,
her bottom still sitting on the toilet. Alice grabbed the wastebasket from her a
nd Bella let her. She was mad at herself for being so weak to make Alice have to
help her, but her body was just that, weak.
"Clean yourself up, Bella, and I'll tuck you into bed," her pixie friend said sw
eetly, a hint of concern edged in her voice.
"Okay," Bella moaned, and did just what Alice said.
Sliding into her bed, Bella moaned and grabbed her stomach again, pausing to gau
ge whether she needed to head back to the bathroom or not. "Can you hand me my p
hone, please?" She asked shakily, deciding she would be okay to lie back down.
After handing Bella her cell phone, Alice placed her hand on Bella's head to che
ck for a fever. "You don't seem too hot," she mused, watching Bella try to sit u
p.
"I don't think I'm sick," Bella croaked and Alice looked at her incredulously. "
Seriously, it's probably food poisoning."
"Do you want me to stay home?" She asked Bella, sitting down on the edge of her
bed. Alice had a conference she was flying out for later in the day and she'd be
in Florida for the remainder of the week, returning on Friday evening. "I can a
lways fly out tomorrow."
"No, I think I'm just gonna sleep all day. Besides, you don't want to miss the m
ouse."
"It would be easy to switch my flight," Alice continued. "It really isn't a prob
lem."
"You know me Alice," Bella's gravelly voice said. "I'd rather be alone when I'm
sick." Bella preferred to be left alone when she wasn't feeling well. As a child
her mother hovered over her whenever she was sick, poking, rubbing, and proddin
g at her body, annoying her to no end.
The first time she ever got sick in college was an eye-opening experience. She a
ctually felt better just being alone, being left to lie down and rest without th
e disturbance of someone's hands continuously touching her. She liked it better
that way. She could be free to toss and turn without the over-bearing burden of
someone wondering if she were okay or if she needed help to the bathroom.
"I'm going to call Emmett and make sure he checks on you during the day," she ad
ded and Bella tried to smirk at her. "I'll get you a glass of water before I lea
ve. Is there anything else you need?"
"No, just the water," she moaned. "Thanks."
When Alice left Bella alone in her room, she called her boss, letting him know t
hat she was sick. Unfortunately, Bella had left her work laptop in the office ye
sterday, so she called Angela next and asked her to drop it by after work. Once
she hung up with Angela, she broke out in a cool sweat and jumped from the bed,
barely making it in time to heave over the toilet. What she didn't think of was
the problem she had before, her body's need to eject the funk from both ends.
"Shoot," she groaned, thinking of another word that was more appropriate and rea
lizing she now needed to trek downstairs to do some laundry.
It wasn't so easy to clean herself up and she was very weak as she stumbled down
the stairs, but she threw her soiled pants and underwear in the washer and star
ted it. If she had lived alone, she would've just let the stuff sit in her baske
t until she felt better, but it wouldn't be fair to Alice to come home to a smel
ly house on Friday or for Angela or Emmett when they dropped by later in the day
. Once upstairs in her bed again, she closed her eyes as she lay on her side, he
r right arm clutching her abdomen. Her stomach rumbled again, mixed with the thr
eat of heaving and the desire of nourishment.
Turning over to her other side, Bella's mind drifted to what could have caused t
his mess. She had stopped for dinner at Potbelly's for a Wreck before her class
last night. She guessed that it could've been their food, but wasn't so sure, it
also could've been Blackies. As she thought of the bacon cheeseburger that she
at for lunch, her mind shifted to Edward and the gleam in his green eyes as they
ate lunch together. They were becoming friends.
"Friends," she whispered into the darkness of her room. For some reason, the sin
gle word didn't feel like enough. Not only did her body react in a more than fri
endly way toward the green-eyed playboy, her heart also seemed to overflow with
excitement and joy when he was around. Apart from being devilishly handsome, he
was funny, witty, smart, articulate, sincere, a good listener, and he composed m
usic. She couldn't wait to hear him play the piano. As her mind thought of his l
ong, warm fingers stroking ivory keys, she settled off to sleep.
Her slumber was restless, and her body tossed and turned, trying to get comforta
ble for two hours. Finally, just when she found the right spot, she jumped out o
f bed, hurling herself toward the bathroom. This time, Bella remembered to grab
the waste basket before sitting down on the seat, relieving herself both ways on
ce more. Luckily each bout of sickness was followed by a small spurt of energy s
o she was able to dump the contents of the bucket into the toilet and wash it in
the bathtub before heading back to bed.
Her day continued in this fashion, waking up every few hours to empty the conten
ts of her stomach and bowels, eventually resulting in only bile being relieved.
At some point, she drank the water that Alice had left her and though she heard
her phone ringing a few times during the day, she never once bothered to answer
it she felt too ill.
She had a faint memory of Angela coming into her room and dropping off her lapto
p before refilling her water glass. Luckily, Angela was one of the few who knew
where they kept the spare key on the porch. Emmett also stopped by but didn't st
ay long as he was on his way to the Cubs game.
At around eight that night, Bella stumbled out of bed in search of something to
eat. Her stomach was all twisted in knots, but she thought that if she ate somet
hing, she'd feel better. Grabbing some crackers and peanut butter, she sat on th
e couch and turned the TV on to watch the game. Curled into a ball, she stared a
t the Cubs' short stop, whom was up at bat, admiring his pale skin with pink che
eks, piercing green eyes, and auburn hair though his eyes were hard to notice on
TV and his hair was covered by a batting helmet, but she imagined them in her m
ind. Stepping out of the batter's box, he adjusted the straps to his batting glo
ves at his wrists while he stared over toward the visiting team's dugout, his mo
uth chewing on his gum.
Images of his lips pressed against hers filled her mind, the taste of raspberrie
s clouding her thoughts of the game. And just as she felt warmth spread through
her body, her stomach revolted and she ran to the downstairs bathroom, heaving t
he crackers out into the toilet. Her stomach was still rumbling when she turned
off the TV and climbed the stairs, leaving the jar of peanut butter and box of c
rackers out on a side table.
Her room was only a few steps away when her stomach cramped up again and she flu
ng herself into the upstairs bathroom this time, her arms encircling the white p
orcelain seat as her body jerked forward retching into the water below. Too tire
d and queasy to stand, Bella laid her head on the cool linoleum tiles of the bat
hroom floor and passed out, one arm flung over her forehead, the other resting o
n her abdomen as it continued to grumble.
~GO CUBS~
Edward's eyes roamed over the seats directly behind the visitor's dugout. The Ci
ncinnati Reds were in town for a three-game series, and then he'd be packing up
to leave for St. Louis. But that wasn't what was on his mind as he stood on the
field waiting for play to resume. Bella hadn't shown up to the game.
After speaking with Jazz, Edward was still confused as to why Bella wasn't there
. Alice was in Florida for a conference but that didn't explain Bella's absence.
Staring over at Bella's seat again, he watched Emmett and Rosalie speak to the
two people sitting with them.
It was hard for Edward to concentrate on the game. His mind was preoccupied with
thoughts of Bella and their lunch date. No, it wasn't a date. It was two friend
s having lunch together. In all actuality, it was a date, he guessed, but not th
e kind he wished him and Bella could have. Keep dreaming, she's so far out of yo
ur league!
There was no way she was ever going to want more from him than friendship, not w
ith the way her mother had been treated by Dwyer. Besides, he didn't want a rela
tionship either. Then what exactly did he want? Why did he decide to give up wom
en for now? What was he trying to achieve? Edward's body automatically lurched t
oward a ground ball, securing it in his glove before throwing it over to Newton
at first base for a third out. Frustrated with himself, he shook his head and ra
n into the dugout. His eyes glanced over Bella's seats once more and his stomach
twisted into a knot. What did he want to gain from this?
After the Cubs' 7-2 victory over the Reds, Edward maneuvered his way out of the
dugout and across the field to the visitor's side. Catching Emmett's attention,
he motioned for him to come down to speak with him.
"Great game Edward!"
"Thanks," Edward replied quickly. "What happened with Bella? She told me she'd b
e here tonight."
"You two have a date or something?" Emmett asked, his eyes squinting as he looke
d over Edward, sizing him up.
"No, nothing like that," he breathed out. "We're just friends."
"Hmm."
"Is she okay?" Edward asked slowly, wondering why Emmett was being elusive.
"Yeah, she's fine."
"No she's not," Rosalie butt in, pinching her burley man in the side as other fa
ns gathered around, trying to get at Edward. "Tell him the truth."
When Emmett didn't make any move to do as Rosalie said, she sighed loudly. "Bell
a's been sick all day. We stopped by on our way to the game and she was sleeping
."
"Sick? What's wrong?"
"Are you sleeping with her?" Emmett scowled.
"What? No! We're friends," Edward said emphatically. "What's wrong with her, Ros
e?"
"Not sure. Alice called us this morning and asked Emmett to check in on her. We'
re planning on stopping by again on our way home."
"I'll check on her if you'd like," Edward said quickly. "That way you can get ho
me at a decent time."
"I don't think-"
"That'll be great!"
Rosalie and Emmett spoke at the same time and then turned to stare at each other
. "I'm not letting him in her house while she's alone and sick." Emmett glared a
t Rose and she glared back, hands going to her hips.
"She trusts him. Haven't you seen them together?"
"What do you want with her?" Emmett turned his attention back to Edward, sulking
now as he asked his question.
"We're just friends," Edward said slowly, "good friends."
The last two words out of Edward's mouth turned Emmett's lips into a flat straig
ht line. Rosalie shook her head and dug in her purse. Pulling out her set of key
s, she proceeded to find which one she was looking for before pulling it off her
key ring and handing it to Edward.
"Why would you do that?" Emmett bellowed. "You could've just told him where the
spare is kept on the porch."
Rolling her eyes, she grabbed her key back from Edward as she shot words at Emme
tt. "I figured you wouldn't want him to know where it was considering you've dec
ided to play the role of overprotective big brother."
"I'm not overprotective," he sulked.
"Where exactly is the key?" Edward asked, cutting into their conversation.
"On the right side of the porch behind the big bush is an electrical box. It was
supposed to have a couple of outlets in it, but instead it's just a bunch of wi
res. They keep the key in there. Make sure you return it, Alice tends to forget
her key a lot."
"Thanks." Edward smiled warmly at Emmett and Rosalie before running back to the
Cubs' dugout and into the locker room below.
~GO CUBS~
Edward hurried in the shower and got dressed quickly. It being late on a Tuesday
night, there weren't too many of the guys that planned on going out to a bar af
ter the game. All of the men that Edward hung out with were going home to their
wives, or in Jazz's case, back to his empty home to call Alice.
Not wanting to waste any time, Edward kept to himself as he got ready, not bothe
ring to play along with his teammates as they joked around with each other. Newt
on was making a fool of himself, as usual, parading around bare-assed while prov
ocatively gyrating his hips. It was not a scene Edward wished to see and he avoi
ded eye contact with the group surrounding the chaos.
Leaving earlier than normal, Edward said goodbye to Jazz, Garrett, and Carlisle
before taking off for Bella's. Thinking about the times when he was sick as a ki
d, he decided to stop off at a White Hen to pick up some popsicles. His mother a
lways had them handy when he was sick as a boy. They helped with the nausea as w
ell as making it easier to get some water into the body.
It was late by the time he made it to Bella's townhouse. He found the hidden key
without any problems and quickly put it back in the electrical box after unlock
ing the door. He noticed crackers and peanut butter sitting out on a table in th
e living room as well as the putrid smell of puke as he walked into the home. Af
ter placing the popsicles in the freezer, he made his way upstairs to see how Be
lla was doing.
Having never been in Bella's house, he wasn't sure which room was hers, so he we
nt to the door on the left first and peeked in. It was dark but obviously vacant
. He turned to the next door and found the room also to be empty, but the sheets
were all ruffled and it had a stale vomit smell in the room it had to be Bella'
s. Skipping the next door, as it looked like a closet, he pushed the last door f
urther open it was already open a crack and found Bella sleeping on the floor of
the bathroom.
At first he wanted to pick her up and put her in her bed, but after thinking of
the smell in her room, he decided to do a couple of things first. Edward reenter
ed Bella's bedroom and opened her window to air it out. He then looked in the cl
oset that was next to the bathroom and found some new sheets. After quickly chan
ging her bedding, he went back into the bathroom to get Bella.
Trying hard not to wake her, he picked her up bridal style, but she stirred imme
diately and gestured toward the toilet. He placed her back onto the floor and wa
tched as she heaved into the porcelain bowl. Ducking out of the bathroom, he gav
e her some privacy and waited out in the hallway for her to finish.
"Edward," Bella groaned from behind the closed door.
Immediately, he opened the door and found her wiping her face with a towel and t
hen flushing the toilet. Once she tried to stand on her own, he wrapped an arm a
round her and led her into her bedroom.
"You changed my sheets?" she asked, her eyes peering into his.
"Um, yeah . . . would you like to change your clothes before lying back down?"
Bella had on a torn pair of sweat shorts and an old faded concert t-shirt with h
oles in it. She looked down at herself after he spoke then back up to his eyes,
her cheeks stained pink from embarrassment.
"Not very attractive, huh?" She smiled before plopping down on her bed. "I'm too
weak to change."
Edward covered her up with her blankets and then grabbed the empty glass on her
nightstand. "I'll get you some water," he whispered as he watched her hand slide
down her body to rest on her stomach. "Is there anything else you need?"
"No," she moaned.
With the glass in one hand, he picked up the dirty sheets with his other and car
ried everything downstairs. Finding the kitchen wasn't hard but he had to do a l
ittle search for the washer and dryer, which was located in a very tiny nook nea
r the back door. Inside the washer he found a pair of sweat pants and underwear,
which he threw into the empty dryer before starting. He then put the sheets int
o the washer and started it as well.
After cleaning up the living room and putting the crackers and peanut butter awa
y, he grabbed a new, clean glass from the cupboard and filled it with water and
made his way back upstairs. Bella was sound asleep when he stepped into her room
and he placed the glass of fresh water on her nightstand. There wasn't anywhere
for him to sit, but he didn't want to leave. He remembered when he was sick and
how he loved having his mom near him for when he needed something.
Unsure of what to do with himself, he very slowly sat on the edge of Bella's bed
, trying hard not to make any sudden movements as he leaned back against the hea
dboard. He was tired and his muscles ached he hadn't done any of his post-game s
tretches that he normally did. He kicked off his shoes and lifted his legs onto
the mattress. Bella moaned slightly and Edward froze, waiting to see if she woul
d wake up. When she didn't, he relaxed back into the bed and closed his eyes.
It wasn't long after he drifted off to sleep that he was woken up by an abrupt m
ovement on the bed. His eyes opened to see Bella flash out of the bedroom door a
nd run into the bathroom and then he heard her retch into the toilet. Rubbing hi
s sleep-filled eyes, he made his way into the bathroom behind her and grabbed a
washcloth out of the closet on his way.
As Bella's body continued to heave, he wet the washcloth with cold water and wai
ted for her to finish. Her hair was already pulled back into a pony tail, so he
didn't have to worry about helping her keep her hair back. Once she seemed to re
lax, Edward flushed the toilet for her and then bent down so that he was close t
o her face. He gently wiped the cold, wet washcloth over Bella's forehead as she
lay with her head against the porcelain seat of the bowl.
"What are you doing here?" She croaked, her eyes remaining shut.
"Taking care of you," he whispered as he continued to wipe the cool cloth along
her face.
Bella reached up and grabbed the wet cloth from his hands and placed it on the f
loor. "Please stop doing that," she groaned, her eyes never once opening to look
at him.
"Are you ready to go back to your bed?" He asked hesitantly. When she didn't ans
wer, he asked another question. "Do you need me to get you anything?"
One of Bella's eyes opened and peered at him in the dark bathroom. "You're worse
than my mom."
"What "
"Don't speak," she moaned, her shaking arms pushing her up to stand.
Edward's arm reached out and wrapped around her waist and she glared at him unti
l her legs gave out and she nearly fell. His arm held onto her tighter, pulling
her into his side and supporting her weight. He smirked at her as he helped her
back into her room.
"Have you been able to keep anything down?" He asked quietly as she slid under t
he covers of her bed.
"No," she sighed, resting her right arm over her forehead.
"How long has it been Bella?"
"Hmm?"
"How long since you've been sick?"
"It started last night," she rasped out, her face starting to turn pale again.
"Wait right here," Edward said before taking off down the stairs.
When he returned to her room he held an orange popsicle in one hand and a bowl i
n the other. Bella's eyes were closed but her face was still very pale and he wa
s sure she hadn't fallen back asleep yet, not if she felt as sick as she looked.
"Bella," he said quietly. When she didn't respond, he said her name again.
"Would you go away?" She bit at him.
"Bella," his voice was stern now, sounding like her father had when he was upset
with her. "If you don't suck on this, I'm going to have to take you to the emer
gency room."
Bella's eyes shot open. "Suck on it?" She asked dryly and Edward blushed from th
e way his words could have been taken. When he opened his mouth to reiterate, sh
e beat him to it. "I'm not going to the emergency room. I'll just end up with th
e swine flu or something." Her head shot up abruptly and her face looked even pa
ler. "You can't go either. You can't afford to get sick."
"Don't worry about me," Edward sighed as he sat the bowl down next to her glass
of water and put the popsicle in it. "If you can't hold down any water you're go
ing to dehydrate."
"What's the popsicle supposed to do?" She asked stubbornly.
"The coolness will help with the nausea and the water will hopefully hydrate you
some. It's something my mom always gave me when I got sick as a kid."
When she tried to grab the popsicle herself, he reached out and grabbed it for h
er, eliciting a scowl. Smiling to himself, he handed her the popsicle and watche
d as she bit into it.
"Don't bite it," he chuckled as he sat down on the edge of her bed, making himse
lf comfortable. "You're supposed to suck it slowly."
"You need to stop with the sucking references," Bella bit and Edward smiled at h
er, glad that she felt well enough to banter with him.
Bella began to suck on the popsicle, avoiding eye contact with Edward at all tim
es. After watching her for a few seconds, he got up and rounded the bed, ploppin
g back down on the other side. Bella didn't say anything as he lay down next to
her, on top of the covers. He closed his eyes as his head sunk into the edge of
her pillow listening to her slurp at the sweetness in her mouth and he fell asle
ep.
It was a restless night as Bella got up twice more before morning, heaving into
the porcelain bowl, ridding her body of all the fluid Edward tried to get into h
er. As dawn cracked through the sky, he contemplated bringing her to the emergen
cy room. She looked so pale and weak. Instead, he called Carlisle. Though he pla
yed baseball, Edward knew that he had been pre-med at Harvard University years b
efore. The conversation didn't go too well as Carlisle had no advice to give him
. Apparently, being pre-med meant nothing if you didn't continue on and go to me
dical school.
Edward made his way to the kitchen, letting Bella sleep up in her room. After ma
king a pot of coffee and pouring himself a bowl of cereal he sat down in the liv
ing room and watched the news while he ate. Half way through the weather report
a phone rang upstairs.
Bolting out of his seat, Edward ran up the stairs hoping to find the phone befor
e it woke Bella. The phone was in Bella's room sitting next to her half empty gl
ass of water.
"Hello," Edward whispered into the phone.
"Um, I think I have the wrong "
"Are you looking for Bella?" he asked as he tiptoed out of her room, shutting th
e door behind him.
"Yes," the small voice said tentatively. "Who's this?"
"Edward, a friend of Bella's. She's a bit under the weather right now," he said
as he stroked his free hand through his messed up hair.
"Edward Masen?"
Edward froze at the top of the stairs, wondering who was on the other line. "Yes
," he replied.
"Edward," the voice said excitedly. "It's Angela. We met the other night."
"Oh yeah," he said relieved, glad it wasn't Jennifer, or whatever Bella's secret
ary's name was.
"She's still sick?"
"Yeah."
"I'll go ahead and tell our boss for her."
"Thanks."
"Um, Edward?"
"Yeah?"
"The other day Bella offered Ben and I some tickets to tonight's game," Angela s
aid uncertainly. "Would you happen to know if the tickets are still available?"
"Um," Edward thought of what to say before he decided to just get her and her bo
yfriend tickets if Bella's weren't available. "Yeah, just go to the will-call wi
ndow when you get to the park and there'll be two tickets for you."
"Oh, great. We're looking forward to the game tonight. Tell her we said thank yo
u!"
"Will do," he said before ending the call.
That was the first of the calls he'd have to take that morning. The next one was
from Alice who sounded very worried when Edward answered the phone. After plead
ing with her to stay in Florida for the remainder of the conference, he finally
was able to get her off the phone by having her promise to pick up a souvenir fr
om Disney World for Bella.
"Would you like one too?" She asked excitedly and he laughed.
"I'll be fine," he said, shaking his head at her exuberance.
"What do you think Bella would like?"
"I'm not really sure," he whispered into the phone, wondering what she would lik
e. "How about a t-shirt? Something she could sleep in that isn't faded and cover
ed in holes."
Alice giggled before promising to buy her a sleep shirt from Disney and then she
thanked him for being there for Bella before hanging up. Edward went back upsta
irs with Bella's phone in his hand. Once in her room, he lay down on the bed nex
t to her and stared at the ceiling. He wasn't tired, but he didn't want to leave
her alone either. Picking up a paperback off her dresser, he opened it up with
a snicker and began reading.
A little over an hour later, Bella woke up with a start and headed for the bathr
oom, Edward following behind. She still wasn't keeping anything down, but at lea
st her bouts of nausea were growing further apart. Despite her aversion to the w
ashcloth, Edward wet it once more with cold water and held it against her forehe
ad as she leaned against the cool toilet seat.
"What time is it?" She asked quietly, her eyes still closed as she sat on the ba
throom floor.
Edward looked at his watch before answering. "A little after ten."
"I don't want to go back to bed, my neck hurts." Bella lifted her head and place
d a hand at the back of her neck and massaged her skin gently.
"Would you like to lie on the couch? We could watch a movie."
"Why are you here?"
Taken back from her question, he hesitated before answering. "You're sick."
"I'm not sick," she grumbled as she reluctantly took his hand to help her stand.
"I've got food poisoning. It still doesn't explain why you're here though."
Edward helped Bella down the stairs and led her to the couch where she sat down
and rested her head against the back cushion. "I'll go get your pillow and a bla
nket. Would you like another popsicle?"
Bella bit into her bottom lip and he stared at her for a moment, making sure she
felt okay before taking off up the stairs. Returning with her pillow and blanke
t off her bed, he tucked her in on the couch and watched as a slow smile spread
across her face.
"Thank you," she mumbled. "I thought I didn't need a mom anymore, I guess I was
wrong."
"A mom?" He asked, his masculinity threatened by her words.
"Mmhmm. My mom used to tuck me in just like this." Her smile was so infectious a
nd as he thought about the fact that her mother was dead, he gave in to her remi
niscence. Leaning down, he kissed her on the forehead and then made his way to t
he kitchen.
When he came back into the living room, he had a red popsicle in a bowl in one h
and and a glass of water in the other. Bella had turned on the TV and was watchi
ng some soap opera. He made his way back upstairs and grabbed the smutty book he
was reading while she slept earlier.
"I can't believe you read this stuff," he chided her as he planted himself on th
e other end of the couch, lifting her feet and placing them in his lap.
"I can't believe you're reading it," she said weakly, the popsicle planted again
st her lips. She wasn't sucking on it, just letting it rest against her skin.
"It has some good parts," he mused, his eyes never leaving hers as a frown cross
ed his face.
"Turn to page 176," she said slyly and then closed her eyes.
Edward didn't turn to the page she suggested, he was actually into the story and
wanted to read the book through correctly. But when he did reach page 176, his
eyes grew large and he glanced down at the sleeping figure next to him, shocked
that she read that type of smut, shocked that that stuff existed. Bella's phone
rang at that time, pulling him from the entrancing book.
"Hello?"
"Who's this?" The demanding voice was unmistakable it was Emmett.
"It's Edward," he replied irritated.
"What are you doing answering Bella's phone?"
"She's sick, Emmett," Edward breathed out, tired of his protectiveness.
"Still?"
"Yes, still." He massaged his brow as he remembered the phone call from Angela e
arlier. "Hey, Angela called earlier and asked about tickets to tonight's game. S
he said that Bella told her that she and Ben could go."
"Oh." Emmett sounded disappointed. "Rosalie decided to go and I was going to see
if my friends could use Bella's tickets."
"Do you have her tickets on you?"
"No, I was going to stop by and get them. Aah, don't worry about it, go ahead an
d give them to Angela."
"I don't know where they are," Edward replied. "How about I get Angela and Ben t
wo tickets and you can use Bella's. I'll let her know you're coming over to pick
them up."
"Thanks bro," Emmett said enthusiastically and Edward smirked. He didn't like Ed
ward spending time with Bella but throw in a couple of tickets and they were now
brothers.
"And Emmett," Edward said with a lump in his throat, "nothing is going on betwee
n me and Bella. We're just friends." He looked down at her once more, wishing sh
e would want more, wishing he could give her more.
"If you hurt her "
"We're just friends," he said again, more severe.
It was around lunch time that the next phone call came in. Bella was still sleep
ing and Edward was further into the smutty romance novel. "Hello?"
"Ah, is this Bella Swan's number?" A deep voice asked.
"Yes, it is," Edward replied immediately hating the man on the other end.
"Can you put her on please?"
"Who's calling?"
"Who wants to know?"
Edward pulled the phone away from his ear and looked at it, shaking his head, wo
ndering what jackass was calling her. "Listen," he said agitated, "Bella's not f
eeling well today. You can either leave a message with me or call back tomorrow.
"
"You aren't Emmett," the deep voice stated and Edward shook his head again.
"Nope."
After an awkward silence the man finally spoke up. "Can you have her call Jake w
hen she's feeling better?"
"Sure," Edward said and then hung up on the man.
No sooner did he settle back down to read, he was disturbed by Bella's ringing p
hone again. "Hello," he answered, exhaling loudly into the receiver.
"Um, hi," a nasally voice replied. "Is Bella available?"
"I'm sorry," Edward said for what seemed the hundredth time, "she's not feeling
well today."
"Oh," was the other man's reply and Edward waited, wondering how many guys calle
d Bella on a daily basis.
"Can I take a message?"
"Can you tell her that Chad called?"
"Sure," Edward clipped and then he hung up.
Why would he expect her to not have admirers calling? Why did it bother him that
he wasn't the only man in her life? Heck, he wasn't even in her life in that wa
y they were just friends. Placing her phone down on the coffee table, Edward pic
ked up her sex book and continued to read. So it wasn't a classic, nor did it ha
ve a good plot, and it had a cheesy name, but it still captured his attention fo
r the next hour.
~GO CUBS~
Bella awoke on the couch to the sound of the Cubs game on the TV. Grabbing at he
r aching stomach, she moaned as she rolled over and remembered her afternoon. Wh
y Edward insisted on hanging out with her all day, she didn't know, but he would
n't leave she couldn't get rid of him. In all fairness, it was nice that he want
ed to make sure that she was okay, but she really liked to be alone when she was
sick and unfortunately, he didn't get her not-so-subtle hints.
When she awoke around two in the afternoon, Edward made her try some saltines al
ong with water. It was the first thing she was able to keep down and after that,
Edward stopped being so crazy with the popsicles. Although, Bella thought, the
popsicles did work and they actually did alleviate the nausea. It was the coolne
ss that actually helped. She didn't even need to eat the thing, just holding it
against her lips made her feel better.
Bella heard a large crack of a bat on the TV and turned her head to watch the ba
ll fly into foul-ball territory. Edward was up at bat. As the camera zoomed in o
n him, she noticed that he had circles under his eyes he was tired. Serves him r
ight! Okay, maybe that wasn't fair, she mused. As much as she wanted to hate him
, she had no reason to. She wasn't the type of person to hold another man's past
sins against another. What Phil did to her mom was horrible, but so far regardl
ess of his reputation Edward hadn't shown to be anything like him. Bella stared
blankly at the screen as Edward struck out.
The game continued on and Bella tried hard to keep her eyes open, but as the nin
th inning started, she lost the fight and fell asleep on the couch with the TV o
n. She wasn't sure what time it was, but she was aware that someone had turned o
ff her TV and had picked her up off the couch. Snuggling into the warm body that
held her, she breathed in the scent of raspberries mixed with Edward's cologne
and smiled as she nuzzled her face against his neck. It all seemed surreal as sh
e felt her body float upstairs and then be placed in the cool sheets of her bed.
Rolling over, she thought she heard herself moan Edward's name and then she fel
l back asleep, her head sinking into the softness of her pillow.
When dawn broke the next morning, Bella wondered why her pillow had become so ha
rd. Lifting up on her elbow, she looked down to see that her head had been resti
ng on Edward's chest. He had stayed the night with her again. It didn't take her
long to disentangle herself from her blankets and make her way to the bathroom.
"Friends," she mumbled as she relieved herself. What part of friends includes sl
eeping in the same bed with each other?
"Bella?" Edward's voice was right outside the door.
"I'm fine," she replied.
"Are you going into work today?"
Bella sighed. She still didn't feel all that well. She hadn't gotten sick in a l
ong time, but she was still weak. "Nah, I'm gonna work from home today." She was
hed her hands and opened the door to the bathroom to see Edward leaning against
a wall in the hallway. His hair was standing out at odd angles and he hadn't sha
ven in a couple of days. He had on a pair of shorts and a white t-shirt. He look
ed too good for a friend.
"You do have a bed, don't you?" She asked, staring into his green eyes. "I mean,
you aren't homeless or anything?" Look away, Bella. God, don't get stuck in the
m!
"No," he whispered, "not homeless."
Bella snorted and then passed him in the hall and walked down the stairs. Once i
n the kitchen, she pulled out some pop tarts. "Are you hungry?" she called up to
her friend. There was no answer and she heard the water in the bathroom sink ru
nning, so she grabbed some pop tarts for him and sat at the table eating hers.
"Bella, you shouldn't have." Edward sat down at the table and eyed his elaborate
breakfast. "Can you pass the salt?" He asked with a straight face.
"Shove it Masen," she groaned. Inside she was happy that he was there. As shocke
d as she was to wake up in bed with him, it still didn't upset her. But she didn
't want to give him the satisfaction of knowing how he affected her. And she did
n't want him to affect her as he did.
"Before I forget," Edward began after swallowing a bite of his pop tart, "You ha
d a couple of calls yesterday afternoon."
"From who?" Bella asked, swallowing a sip of her milk.
"Jake and Chad," Edward replied, watching her facial expressions for any hint of
emotion.
"Thanks." Nothing, no emotion at all, she just looked tired.
"I've got to be at the field early today. Do you need me to get you anything bef
ore I leave?"
"No, I'll be fine," Bella yawned. "I've got a lot of work to do and I don't want
to miss the game."
"You're going to the game?"
"No, but I'll watch it on TV. You better play better today," she scolded him. "Y
our average is dropping."
Edward shook his head as he threw away his trash. "Maybe if I got a decent night
's sleep . . ."
"No one asked you to stay with me!"
"It wouldn't have been so bad if it weren't for all your sleep talking."
"My what?" Bella turned bright red as she stared at the handsome man in her kitc
hen. What had she said? Determined to get the focus off her, she changed the sub
ject. "Maybe it was the smut you were reading yesterday!"
"You were right about page 176." He winked and her heart skipped a beat. "Do you
have any other great books I could borrow? I'll need something on the road."
"Actually," she said as she thought about the new vampire series that Rose had g
otten her hooked on. "I've got a few books that are pretty hot. I've got the fir
st six books and the seventh comes out in May."
After retrieving the first four books of the series for Edward, whom insisted he
'd have enough time to read while on the road, she ushered him out her door so t
hat she could get to work. Since he was leaving early in the morning for St. Lou
is, he wasn't planning on stopping by after the game this evening. Bella felt a
little sad that she wouldn't see him tonight, but definitely didn't want him to
know that.
"I'll call you," he called over his shoulder as she watched him step into a silv
er Volvo parked on the curb in front of her townhome.
"Okay," she rasped back, unable to hide the small frown from the sadness she fel
t at the thought of not seeing him for a few days.
Chapter 7 April 25 26, 2009
"Coming out with us Masen?"
"No thanks," Edward replied, barely taking a glimpse at Newton, who was standing
way too close to him for his liking.
"Two nights in a row? This aint like you."
Shaking his head, Edward rolled his eyes at the Cubs' first baseman and then tur
ned to finish towel-drying his hair. He'd spend tonight just as he had spent las
t night; lying in his hotel room, reading one of the books Bella let him borrow.
And he planned to call Bella first because he wanted to hear her voice, even th
ough she'd most likely pick on him again for losing another game their fourth st
raight.
Last night, when he'd called her, she was hanging out with her friends and she s
tarted going over every mistake he had made on the field. It honestly didn't bot
her him at first because it was Bella and he had started to just accept her as t
he fan that she was. She was actually quite cute as she discussed baseball with
him it was the first time she had openly spoke about it so passionately probably
because she had been drinking. It was when Emmett grabbed the phone from her an
d started giving him a pep talk that he decided to end the call.
It still bothered Edward that Bella hung out with her ex-boyfriend, but he didn'
t understand why exactly. He knew it was an irrational feeling, as they were obv
iously just friends, yet it still upset him. Emmett had been her first in everyt
hing, she had told him, and Edward would never be with her in that way. Maybe th
at was why it upset him so much he'd never be as close to her as Emmett was beca
use they shared a special bond. Besides, on top of that, it was plain to Edward
that she didn't look at him as he looked at her.
When he took care of her while she was sick, it had been as if she were trying t
o get rid of him. Most people girls he knew loved being taken care of by their m
en. Edward thought of the time Esme boasted to him about how Carlisle cared for
her when she had the flu. You would think Carlisle could walk on water the way s
he spoke of him. But Bella didn't want him caring for her. Bella didn't want him
at her townhome it was painfully obvious. It didn't deter him though because sh
e was his friend.
Keep telling yourself that, Masen! His inner monologue argued.
"I heard you're going out with Newton," Jazz said, startling Edward as he put on
his deodorant.
"No, I'm heading back. You?"
"No man, I promised Alice I'd call her when I got back to the hotel."
A horrible rendition of a cracking whip sounded behind them and they both turned
to see Yorkie pretending to wield the rope-like weapon, laughing as he looked a
t Jazz. "She's got you by the balls Whitlock!" He snickered loudly, drawing atte
ntion from everyone around them.
"Let's get out of here," Jazz drawled, before discreetly leaving the locker room
with Edward close behind.
Back in his hotel room, Edward stripped down to his boxer briefs and got comfort
able under the sheets. With a book in one hand and his cell in another, he conte
mplated whether to call Bella or not. Pushing the book aside and running his fre
e hand through his disheveled hair, he selected her name from his list and hit t
he 'send' button. His heart beat picked up as he listened to her phone ring, uns
ure if calling her for a second night in a row was too much, or not, for friends
.
"Itchy Dicky Massage," someone answered in a fake Asian accent. There was a lot
of noise in the background.
"Is Bella there?"
"Is this Masen?" Emmett's voice bellowed out, yelling into Edward's ear.
"Hey Emmett."
"Dude, what's with all the strike outs?"
Edward snorted into the phone and then breathed in deeply, not wanting to have t
his conversation again. "I did hit a home run today," he replied tersely.
"Four games in a row, bro," Emmett said, laughing when he realized he had made a
rhyme. "Damn I'm good!"
"You're drunk," Edward stated, bored with the conversation. "Can you put Bella o
n the line?"
"One sec, bro."
Edward stared off into the darkness of his silent hotel room - being on the road
got awful lonely. He knew that the players with families had a harder time than
him and he wondered how their wives fared. Not only were they alone, missing th
eir men, but they had the job of taking care of their kids on their own too.
"Hello?" Her words were slurred and he could tell she was drunker than Emmett.
"Bad night?" he chuckled.
"If the Cubs could afford some decent players I'd probably be a happy drunk righ
t now. Luckily the Mariners are doing pretty well so far. Maybe the night won't
be such a loss."
"Do you actually try to insult me, or does it just come naturally?"
Bella giggled on the other end and Edward smiled to himself, beaming from the kn
owledge that he could elicit that response from her. There was a lot of noise st
ill in the background and Edward couldn't make out her garbled response followin
g her fit of laughter. "What was that?"
"I was just saying that I'm going to the Sox-Mariners game on Monday," she yelle
d into the phone, and he cringed from the sharp pain that shot through his ear.
"What about your class?"
"Day game. I'll be able to make it in time, I think."
"Well have fun," he said, wishing he could sit in the stands and watch a game wi
th her. As much as he loved to play, he did miss relaxing in the stands, eating
a polish sausage, and watching a game.
"I will," she beamed. "I'm going with my friend, Jake. He's a Mariners fan too.
Well, now he claims to be a Sox fan, but I told him you'd forgive him . . ." Bel
la began rambling and as much as Edward tried to keep up with her, he hadn't hea
rd much after her first sentence. All that he actually perceived was that she wa
s going to the game with Jake, and his heart constricted from the thought of som
e other guy sitting next to her, eating peanuts with her as they drank beer and
talked about the game.
Edward's mind drifted to a perfect day where he could take Bella to a baseball g
ame and sit with her, eat junk food, and talk about the plays. He had seen her f
ace light up when she spoke about the games. There was always this amazing feeli
ng that Edward would get when watching a ball game and he could tell that Bella
felt it too. He missed that.
"Bella," he tried to cut in, but she was still talking, this time giving him a p
lay-by-play of the Mariners game that she was currently watching. "Bella," he sa
id louder, laughing to himself as her voice raised an octave when she got excite
d about a play. "Bella, I should get going."
"Oh," she said surprised. "You probably could care less about the Mariners, huh?
"
"It's not that," he laughed. "I'm just tired. I was about to lie down and read o
ne of your books. I'll talk to you later?"
"Yeah, sure," she replied breathlessly. "I can't wait to hear how you like them.
"
"Do you have someone there with you?"
"What?"
"How are you getting home?" he asked, realizing he'd have to be direct with her.
"Oh, Jake said he'd drive me. We're at a bar right now . . ."
She had started rambling again and he took a deep breath in, trying hard not to
focus on the fact that this Jake guy was a little too close to Bella for his lik
ing. "I've got to go, Bella," he said, agitated.
"Yeah, right . . . sorry."
"Call me when you get home? I'll worry about you all night if you don't."
"I'm a big girl, Masen."
"I know you are, Swan, but I don't know Jake, and I won't be able to see if you
play with your earring "
"You don't have to worry about Jake," Bella cut in, giggling. "We've been friend
s since we were kids."
"Oh," Edward responded as his fingers began playing with the corner of the cover
of the book. And then he heard cheering in the background behind Bella screamin
g on the other end of the phone. "Mariners score?"
"What?" she shouted. "Sorry, Edward, I've got to go. Talk to you later?"
There wasn't any time for him to reply to her as she ended the call as soon as t
he last word left her mouth. For the next half hour, Edward seethed inside, wond
ering who this Jake character was and what he meant to Bella. She had told him t
hat she didn't date. So was he just another friend like Emmett and himself? How
many other guy friends did she have? His stomach plummeted when he thought of th
e guy, Chad, who called while she was sick. Actually, Jake had called that day a
s well.
Another ten minutes without being able to concentrate on the book, and Edward ha
d had it. He couldn't stop thinking of Bella with this other guy. Turning irrati
onal, Edward bolted out of his bed and threw on a pair of jeans and t-shirt befo
re grabbing his room key and wallet. He didn't want to leave the building, but h
e needed a drink.
Finding the hotel's bar, he strolled in, thankful that it was still open and tha
t there were only a few people lounging around this time at night. Edward sat at
the bar and ordered a shot of whiskey. With every sip he took, he thought of Be
lla; her eyes, her lips, her smile, her snort, her long, wavy hair, her soft, si
lky skin, and her cute, round ass. God, he wanted her. He wanted her like no oth
er woman he had ever known.
Two hours later, Edward was walking a fine line between having a nice buzz and b
eing drunk. He rarely drank to this level, but the images of Bella on the arm of
some runt had him on edge. Moving slowly, he stood up to the outstretched hand
beckoning him to join her on the empty dance area of the bar. The bar was still
vacant, but a small jukebox played in the background and the lady obviously want
ed to dance.
The woman before him could be pretty, he thought, though it was hard to tell thr
ough his blurred vision. The one thing he could make out of the figure now plant
ed in his arms, was that she had long brown hair just like Bella. As their bodie
s ground together to the beat of the music, Edward enjoyed the feel of the warm
feminine body against his. It had been too long since he had been with a woman.
His body reacted to her involuntarily, his erection straining against the confin
es of his pants. This woman had great skill and though he enjoyed dancing with h
er, he couldn't help but find his mind wandering through the memories of dancing
with Bella. Her body didn't move nearly as well as his current partner, but he
found himself wishing it were her he was dancing with now; her body rubbing agai
nst him, her hand currently grabbing his ass, pulling him into her heated center
.
"Let's ditch this place," the brown-haired blur whispered in his ear and he felt
himself twitch in anticipation of what her words promised.
There was no need to utter a response and his hand slid down to grasp hers, pull
ing her from the dance floor and to the doors where he first entered the bar. "Y
ou got a room here?" Edward asked when they made it to the elevator, suddenly he
sitant to bring her up to his.
"Fifth floor," the blur responded as they stepped onto the empty elevator and Ed
ward leaned into her as he pressed the appropriate button, his lips finding her
neck to trail kisses along it.
"So you play for the White Sox?" She asked breathlessly, her hands roaming over
his back and buttocks
"Cubs," he corrected her, his lips leaving her skin as he pulled back to look at
her again. Her features were still distorted in his inebriated state. He went b
ack to work at her neck.
"Oh, I could've sworn a guy at the bar said you played for Chicago."
A smile broke out along his face and he chuckled silently to himself. "They must
've been mistaken," he whispered as his lips trailed up to capture her mouth.
Though his lips caressed this nameless, faceless girl in his arms, his mind was
solely on Bella. All he could think of was the words he said to her when he drop
ped her off at her office after lunch. He had told her that he was giving up gir
ls for a while, yet here he was doing the opposite of what he had promised. You
didn't promise her anything. True, she never asked him to give up his lifestyle
and he never did promise her he would, he only told her that he was going to. An
d he did say, 'for a while', which could mean any length of time.
As the mystery woman's hand traveled down to the aching need in his pants, he ar
gued with himself over what he was about to do. He had never felt guilty for wan
ting to be with a woman before so why should he feel guilty now? Bella wasn't hi
s and he wasn't hers. She had made it especially clear that they were just frien
ds and she even agreed to help him with the ladies when they go out together. So
why did he feel guilty?
His arms tightened around the woman as he tried to force the images of Bella out
of his head. Right this very moment, he reminded himself, she was with some guy
named Jake in her home, doing who knows what. And she had a date planned with h
im for Monday. If she could enjoy the company of a man, why couldn't he do the s
ame with any woman he wanted to?
The elevator dinged and the door opened just as he made up his mind. Exiting the
elevator, he followed the blurred form of a woman down a couple hallways until
she came to a stop and opened up her room. There was no need to turn on any ligh
ts. As soon as he was inside and the door was shut, she twirled around to face h
im, throwing herself into his arms and tearing at his clothing.
Immediately, his heart started racing. This wasn't what he wanted. She wasn't wh
at he wanted. He wanted Bella and only Bella. But Bella was with Jake and as he
thought the other man's name, he growled, capturing the blur's lips with his. Th
ere was nothing in the kiss other than the physical desire. There was no electri
c current and no spread of warmth through his body. Everything that he felt when
he kissed Bella was absent, so he started to imagine that the woman he held in
his arms was the same woman that haunted his mind. He imagined the smell of her
strawberry shampoo, her full, pink lips on a heart-shaped face with piercing, br
own eyes, and her soft sultry voice when they bantered with one another as he le
d his body through the motions of sex. At the end, when he found his release, it
was Bella's name that came screaming from his lips, resulting in an extremely u
pset bed partner, who now was more than just a blur.
Guilt saturated every sense of Edward's being as he rode the elevator to his flo
or and then stumbled to his room. It was still night out and he would luckily ge
t a few hours of sleep before having to wake up and head over to the stadium for
another round with the Cardinals. His stomach turned as he thought of what he h
ad just done and he couldn't understand why an act that he easily had done just
two weeks before now made him feel less of a man.
Leaving the light off as he stepped into the room, he removed his clothes, strip
ping down to his boxer briefs, and then ran his hand along the top cover of the
book he had earlier tried to read. He was almost done with the first book. It wa
sn't the normal kind of story he would choose to read, but at least this one had
a decent plot to go along with the explicit sex. Swallowing a lump in his throa
t as he pictured Bella in his mind, he got under the covers and closed his eyes,
hoping to dream of his mahogany-haired enchantress.
It couldn't have been too early when Edward heard his phone ringing because the
sun was pretty high in the sky, shining into his window. Turning over to his sid
e, he picked up his cell phone and saw that it was a little after seven in the m
orning and that it was Bella calling him.
"Hello," he rasped in his morning voice.
"Did I wake you?" She didn't sound much better herself.
"I needed to get up," he moaned as he sat up in bed, adjusting his eyes to the l
ight that poured in from the windows.
"I'm sorry," she sputtered, "I just wanted to call and let you know that I made
it home okay."
"You're just getting home now?" He rubbed his hand over his eyes in a further ef
fort to wake up.
"No, I got home last night as soon as the game was over. I'm sorry I forgot to c
all you, but Jake was the perfect gentleman." She giggled.
Jake. He had forgotten about him. There was an uncomfortable silence on the phon
e after she mentioned his name and he wondered what she was thinking. Then his m
ind traveled to his evening and what he had done and he groaned, remembering the
blurred figure he had relieved himself with.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, just a little hung over."
"Must've been a good book to get you drinking all night," she chuckled.
"You could say that."
"No wonder the Cubs aren't doing too well lately." She meant it as a joke, but E
dward didn't find humor in it. Closing his eyes, he took in a deep breath afraid
to open his mouth in fear that he'd say something hurtful. "I'm just kidding,"
she grimaced when he didn't respond. "I'll hang up now. I only wanted to let you
know that I was okay."
"Bella," he whispered into the phone.
"Yes?" she whispered back.
"I'll call you after the game, when I'm awake."
After closing his phone and placing it back on the nightstand, Edward rolled ove
r onto his back, his hands covering his eyes as he berated himself for what he h
ad done last night. Of all the stupid things he had done in his life, last night
was probably one of the worst. All the questions that circled around in his hea
d as he contemplated what to do in that moment, he now had better answers for. H
e had decided to give up women for a reason and after giving into his baser inst
inct last night, it was finally very clear as to why.
He wanted Bella. With every fiber of his body and soul, he wanted her. And not j
ust for the obvious reasons. He wanted a relationship. In all his pig-headedness
since Lauren had spewed out his heart as if it were vile and repulsive, he had
closed himself off from getting close to any one woman.
Revolving through different beds with different girls had been his way to push t
hem away before any of them could see that he wasn't the guy they thought him to
be. He was just plain old Edward, nothing more, nothing less. It wasn't enough
for Lauren. He couldn't live up to the life that she wanted; he didn't want to b
e someone's trophy that they sported on their arm. Since her, he had turned ever
yone away before they could realize that he was nothing more than a normal guy w
earing a Cubs uniform.
Now, as he cursed himself for his stupid, drunken, mistake, Edward realized that
he wanted to try a relationship again. He was willing to try with Bella, if she
'd have him. Courting her wouldn't be easy since she was leery of ball players t
o begin with. But they were friends, and that was where he would start.
Taking a deep breath in, he pictured her in his mind. It would be hard to show h
er that he was committed to her. Especially after last night, asshole. God, he'd
have to tell her about it. There was no way that he could start a relationship
with her with lies. He'd have to tell her about Jane as well. Edward groaned lou
dly as he pulled his pillow over his head. Any relationship with Bella was doome
d from the beginning. There was no way she'd be able to understand or forgive hi
m for his relationship with Jane.
Chapter 8 April 26 28, 2009
"I've had enough," Bella moaned as she sat back in the chair at her kitchen tabl
e. Chad, her partner from class, sat next to her, his fingers punching furiously
at his calculator as he tried to figure out some stupid percentage that Bella c
ouldn't care less about. The Cubs game was going to start in a little over an ho
ur and she wanted to relax a little before it did.
Her conversation with Edward this morning had been strange. He seemed lost in de
ep thought as they spoke, answering her tersely and not finding humor in her tea
sing with him. Since they had decided to be friends, he always liked to joke aro
und with her. His mood change had her worried.
"Just a few more minutes, Bella, we need to get this done so that we can start w
orking on the presentation." They only had four weeks until their second-to-last
class when the case study had to be turned in and their presentation given.
Closing her eyes, Bella cursed the fact that she had to work with a partner on t
his last and final case study for her capstone course. She always worked better
alone. If it were just her, she'd be drinking with her friends right now, who we
re in her living room waiting for her, and then work all night after they left.
Luckily, she was saved by her cell phone ringing.
"Hello?"
"Bella?"
"Hey! I thought you were going to call me after the game," she beamed, a smile i
nstantly overtaking her sullen expression from before.
Getting up from the table, she walked away from Chad. In her discussions with hi
m, she had learned that his roommate worked for the Sun Times and, even though h
is roommate didn't work for the sports section, she was leery of Chad finding ou
t that she was friends with Edward. The last thing she wanted was for Chad to be
feeding his roommate information that would eventually end up in the paper.
"I wanted to apologize for this morning," Edward said and her stomach felt as if
there were little flutters inside. "I know you didn't mean anything by what you
said."
"You really need to chill out!" She laughed and he joined in breaking the ice. "
Shouldn't you be out on the field warming up or something?"
"I've still got time. Besides, according to an inside source, we don't stand a c
hance considering the Cubs are too cheap to pay for decent players."
Bella snorted. "Maybe if you all kept your mind on the game instead of where you
'll be drinking afterward, you'd actually see the ball enter the strike zone."
"How come I get the feeling a bet is coming on?"
"You want to make a bet?" Bella asked, quickly thinking of what she'd want as he
r reward for winning. But did she really want to bet against the Cubs? She wante
d them to win. "I won't bet against the Cubs, you'll have to think of something
a little more interesting that won't screw up our chances to win. Besides, we do
n't need a repeat of the 1919 Black Sox."
"Okay," he chuckled. "How about if I hit a home run for you?"
"Hmm," Bella hummed as her lips curled up in thought. "There's got to be more th
an that. How will I know it's specifically for me?" She paused a moment longer b
efore speaking again. "I want you to call it."
"What?"
"You know, like Babe Ruth."
"You can't be serious."
"How else will I know that you specifically hit the home run for me?" Bella aske
d in mock innocence, giggling to herself.
There was a moment of silence on the phone and Bella wondered what he was thinki
ng. Would he actually take the bet? He couldn't possibly call a homerun, could h
e? "Okay, but I'm not going to get all dramatic and point my bat in the air like
Babe Ruth. I'll have to give you another sign."
"You can pinch the bridge of your nose," Bella suggested with a smile on her fac
e.
"You're enjoying this, aren't you?"
"I'll be enjoying it more when I receive my prize."
Edward breathed in deeply before speaking again. "Okay, I'll step out of the bat
ter's box and pinch the bridge of my nose. Hopefully they'll get it on camera fo
r you."
"What do I win?"
"Whatever you want, Bella," Edward replied and Bella's heart skipped a beat with
the way her name rolled softly off his lips.
"Um, how about you play me a song on the piano? The new song you said was runnin
g through your head that night on my porch." Bella wasn't sure if she had over-s
tepped her bounds. She had a hunch that he was a little closed off about that si
de of him, as he had fidgeted in a shy manner when he spoke about it that night.
But she really wanted to get to know that part of Edward Masen. She waited, hol
ding her breath, for Edward to respond.
"Okay," he finally breathed out. "And if I win, you will accompany me to a chari
ty event on June first."
"A charity event?"
"Garrett and his wife host a charity auction each year. In the past they've done
it at some really cool places. Last year we were bartenders at a dance club. I'
m not exactly sure what it's all going to entail this year, but I promised to he
lp out and donate a few things to auction off."
"Okay," Bella smiled into the phone, "So we have a deal then?"
"Definitely," Edward said and she heard someone yelling his name in the backgrou
nd. "I have to get going, Bella. Make sure you watch closely. I don't want you m
aking all sorts of excuses for why you didn't see my sign."
"Good luck," she said and then a mischievous glint shined in her eyes. "Break a
leg, Masen!"
"That's for the theater, Swan," he chuckled before ending the call.
After closing her phone, Bella walked to the fridge and pulled out two beers. Tu
rning to the table where Chad still sat, his work forgotten in front of him, she
handed one to him. "Come on, Chad. Let's go watch the Cubs."
It wasn't the place to watch the game if you wanted to listen to the commentator
s on TV. Between Rosalie and Alice looking through magazines and talking about a
ll the latest Hollywood gossip and Emmett giving his own commentary, his voice r
aised over the noise of the two gossiping women, Bella was starting to get a hea
dache.
Chad sat on one of the chairs in her living room, watching the game, but not com
menting about it too much. If she remembered correctly, she thought he said he w
as a Cubs fan, but then again, she may not have been paying attention well enoug
h to know exactly what he had said. He wasn't a very lively person, to put it be
st. His sense of humor was dry and he had an elitist way about him. He was very
much into music, movies, and comics and if you didn't agree with his opinions, t
hen you pretty much didn't have much culture in his eyes. Bella could put up wit
h that about him, but it was obvious that the other people in her small living r
oom couldn't.
For instance, when Alice mentioned The Cure in passing, Chad's ears perked up an
d it was as if he became a peacock, his tail billowing out, his feathers reveali
ng all their glory. He couldn't stop squawking noisily about the band. Then Emme
tt made some comment about their music being depressing and the tail feathers re
coiled as a dark façade covered Chad's face and he got extremely defensive and sta
rted arguing with Emmett.
This of course just egged Emmett on he always loved a victim who fought back and
the two of them became such a distraction to Bella that she had to kick them ou
t of the living room until they finished their cock fight. She was too busy tryi
ng to keep her eye on Edward and look for his sign to have to deal with their me
ss.
At the start of the seventh inning, Emmett and Chad were seated back in the livi
ng room and Bella was feeling very good about the bet she had made. She did not
mention it to anyone, wanting to keep it between her and Edward only. Besides, t
hen she'd have to tell everyone that he was not only a musician, but a composer
as well. That, of course, would lead into 'poser' jokes from Emmett. She really
did love him to death, but his sense of humor hadn't changed from their High Sch
ool days.
On the edge of her seat, Bella watched as Edward came up to bat. There was one o
ut and no one on base. The first pitch was high and outside, the next tipped fou
l, and the third right down the middle for another strike. With a count of 1-2,
Bella felt very smug. It wasn't that she was hoping to see him strike out or not
do well. It was just that her nerves were on edge while he was in the batter's
box. Once his at-bat was over, she would be able to calm down.
She watched closely for any sign from Edward, but he had yet to put his fingers
anywhere near his nose between pitches. As the next pitch whizzed toward home pl
ate, Bella scooted closer to the edge of the couch, swallowing hard as she saw E
dward's bat make contact with the ball. Emmett yelled out in his excitement and
Bella's hands fisted at her side, hoping for the home run because he hadn't made
the sign it wouldn't count. As fast as all their excitement erupted, the sad si
ghs came slowly out as the ball drifted foul.
And then Edward stepped out of the batter's box. The coverage of the game shifte
d to show a replay of the almost home run and Bella's heart accelerated. What if
he gave the sign and she didn't get to see it? When the coverage shifted back t
o the live field, Edward was still outside the batter's box and his fingers were
now pressed against the bridge of his nose. Bella gasped. He must've been stand
ing there like that for a while because the batting coach and Aro, the Cubs mana
ger, started walking out of the dugout, drawing the commentator's attention as t
hey started to speculate over what could be bothering the Cubs' star short stop.
"What's wrong with him?" Rosalie asked Bella. "Does he have allergies or somethi
ng?"
"I don't know," she replied in a daze, shrugging her shoulders.
"These guys get a hang nail and they run into the dug out looking for a band-aid
," Emmett said snidely, resulting in a pillow being thrown at his head from dear
, little Alice.
"If your fingers were worth more than what you currently make a year," she barke
d at him, "you'd put a band-aid on them too."
"Well that boy of yours better shape up," Emmett boomed at Alice. "Another loss
from him and I'm not voting for him for the All Star game."
Rolling her eyes, Bella tried to tone out the conversation around her as Edward
stepped back into the box after his brief conversation with the batting coach an
d Aro. Okay, she thought, he didn't need to make it that obvious that he was giv
ing her the sign. Biting down into the moist flesh of her bottom lip, Bella kept
her eyes glued to the flat screen in front of her.
The next pitch came down fast, right in the strike zone, and Bella cringed, near
ly shutting her eyes, not wanting to see him hit a home run, but also not wantin
g to see him strike out. As his bat swung forward, Bella heard the sound first b
efore relating it in her head to the fact that he had hit the ball. From the cor
ner of her eye, Bella could see Emmett's body start to lift from his seat and sh
e watched in slow motion as he pumped his fist into the air and hissed the word,
"Yes!" Chad was a little less composed as he came to stand awkwardly, screaming
in front of her. The ball flew across the screen, up and over into the waiting
crowd behind the Cubs' bullpen. Edward had hit a home run.
Bella stared, fixated to the TV in front of her. She had lost. The odd thing was
, she wasn't upset. She wasn't giddy over the whole thing either, but she wasn't
disappointed that she would have to go to a charity event. What exactly 'charit
y event' meant, she didn't know. Would she have to dress up in a nice gown and d
rink champagne while talking to boring person after boring person? But he said t
hat last year he had to be a bartender at a dance club. Watching Edward run the
last leg home into the waiting high-fives from his teammates, Bella decided she
wouldn't worry about it until he brought it up again. Unfortunately though, she
would have to wait to get to hear him play the piano.
"I can't believe you're not high-fiving Emmett right now." Alice sounded confuse
d as she looked at Bella. "On any other day, you'd be up and hollering with the
best of them."
"I just wish he could've done that on a day when they weren't up by six to begin
with," Bella muttered. "Like two days ago. That home run would've helped a lot
more in that game." Hearing her own voice, she knew she sounded like a pessimist
, but she still didn't want to tell them about the bet especially with Chad in t
he room.
~GO CUBS~
"Alice!" Bella called down the stairs as she hurriedly ran into her bedroom to f
inish getting ready. She had barely made it home in time enough to shower and no
w, as she was getting dressed, she couldn't find her Mariners hat the hat that E
dward had given her.
"Alice!" she called again as she stumbled out of her room and started descending
the stairs.
"Is everything okay, Bella?"
"No," she whined. "I can't find my Mariners hat."
"I saw your Cubs hat in the living room."
"I can't wear a Cubs hat to a Sox game," she grumbled and Alice giggled. "What?"
"But you'll wear a Mariners hat?"
"You bet!" Bella smiled brightly.
"Did you look under your bed? The last time you "
"Right!" Bella blurted out as she ran back upstairs and right away found her Mar
iners hat under her bed. Her room wasn't messy, really, just a bit out of sorts.
Her clothes from earlier in the day lay on top of her dresser and a couple pair
of shoes cluttered her floor. Otherwise, it wasn't too bad. But the hat must've
fallen and gotten kicked under the bed, probably when she was sick.
"Okay," she said out of breath as she came back down the stairs. "I'll be with J
ake, don't wait up." Leaning into Alice, she gave her a hug and kissed her on th
e cheek. "Don't forget to tape the Cubs game."
"You're not going to complain if Edward hits another home run are you?"
Bella chuckled. "No. Remind me to explain that to you another day. Right now I'v
e got to go. I'm running late."
The game on Monday had been postponed till tonight, Tuesday evening, due to the
amount of rain that fell yesterday. Luckily, the original game today was planned
for the afternoon, so the Monday tickets were good for the evening game of the
double-header she wouldn't have to miss any work. Getting out of work on time wa
sn't a problem, but traffic was pretty backed up and it took her longer to get h
ome than normal.
Pulling out her cell phone, she quickly sent Jake a text, letting him know that
she'd be late. In so doing, she noticed that Edward had texted her.
Enjoy your game tonight.
Sunday night, after the game, Edward had called and gloated over the phone about
winning their bet. Bella wasn't rude to him, but she also didn't want to let on
that she was happy he hit the home run; so she wasn't very sociable over the ph
one. Luckily, Edward just laughed her off. On Monday night, Edward texted her to
tell her that he had finished book two and was starting book three of the serie
s she leant him, and now he texted her to wish her a fun time at the Sox Mariner
s game tonight. Bella's heart raced. You're just friends, chill out!
She had to keep reminding herself that they were friends because as excited as s
he was to get closer to Edward, a part of her screamed to push him away. She did
not want to end up like her mother. She did not want to ruin her life pining aw
ay over some guy who could just as easily sleep with some random girl from a bar
without a second thought to the people who loved him. Not gonna happen.
She was almost to The Cell when she decided to text Edward back. He was probably
, at this moment, warming up for the Cubs game tonight in Arizona, so she though
t she'd send him a little taste of home.
Hey, Chicago, what do you say? The Cubs are gonna win today! Go, Cubs, go! Go, C
ubs, go!
And, of course, now that she texted him lyrics to the Cubbies 'un'official song,
she decided to download the ringtone and make it his personal ringer, smiling t
o herself because she knew he'd get a kick out of it, or at least she hoped he w
ould. He didn't always like it when she talked about the Cubs . . . he seemed bi
polar in a lot of ways.
Jacob was waiting for her right as she crossed the pedestrian bridge to get from
the train to The Cell. His smile was wide and infectious, causing Bella to rela
x and smile warmly up at him, regardless of the fact that he wore a White Sox ha
t on his head when he should be wearing a Mariners hat.
"What's with the hat?" She asked as soon as she was close enough.
"It's a Sox game," he stated, sounding confused.
"But they're playing the Mariners. You're a Mariners fan, aren't you?"
Jake shrugged. "The Sox are the home team."
Rolling her eyes, Bella got in step with Jake and he led the way into the crowd
of people to their seats. Stopping along the way, they each got a beer and some
food. Bella hadn't eaten dinner yet since she had to rush to make it on time. Wh
en they passed the souvenir booth, Jake took a look at the foam finger and Bella
cringed, hoping above all hopes that he wouldn't dare purchase it. Luckily, he
decided to wait and buy something after the game.
Their seats weren't too bad, better than Bella expected, but definitely not as n
ice as her Cubs seats. While the players warmed up on the field, Bella and Jake
ate their food, and when they were finished with that, they sat in companionable
silence, watching the players and crazy fans.
"So you're a Cubs fan?"
"Yes, no . . . I like both Chicago teams," she replied, turning in her chair to
look at him. "Emmett likes them and he was able to get us the season tickets. I
watch the Sox every now and then too."
"But you won't wear a Sox hat?" he asked as he lightly tapped against the lid of
her Mariners cap.
Rolling her eyes, she shook her head while answering him. "If the Sox were playi
ng any other team besides the Mariners, I'd be decked out in a Sox hat and t-shi
rt."
"So, if I get us tickets to see a Sox-Cubs game here at The Cell, you'll wear a
Sox hat?"
"Are you going to wear a Cubs hat to the game I take you to?" When she saw him h
esitate, she continued. "Remember what you told me earlier, 'the Sox are the hom
e team'."
"But "
"No buts!"
"Okay, but only if you wear a Sox hat to the game here."
"If you get the tickets."
"Deal!"
They continued to talk about the White Sox and the players and Bella really took
the time to look at the man she sat with. The last time she remembered spending
any amount of quality time with Jake, he was a young boy. Heck, she had been yo
ung then too. It was her freshman year of college and she was home for Christmas
break. Jake and his family came over to visit with hers. Emmett was there, brie
fly, but left shortly after the Blacks had arrived. It was around the time of th
e beginning of the end for her and Emmett's relationship.
Jake was a lot larger than she remembered, and sexier too. He still had his long
black hair but his face seemed to have matured. He had lost his baby fat, or ma
ybe he just had a few age-lines in his skin that made him look manlier. Whatever
it was, it looked good on him.
The two of them sat in silence as the game played out, only speaking to each oth
er on the big plays, sometimes arguing over calls. Jake had only lived in Chicag
o for a little over a month and yet he had already abandoned the Mariners. She w
as a bit perturbed by that such a fickle fan.
Sometime during the eighth inning, Bella's phone went off. She pulled it out and
looked to see a text message from Emmett.
Wish you were watching the Cubs with us! Yorkie's actually pitching a good game!
Your man isn't doing so bad himself . . . 2 doubles and 3 RBI's
Bella's eyes shot up to the scoreboard and saw that the Cubs were ahead 11 3 aga
inst the Arizona Diamondbacks in the bottom of the eighth.
"Is everything okay?" Jake asked, his head close to hers as he peered down to re
ad the message on her phone.
"Yeah," she said, pulling her phone away from his view. "Emmett just wanted to l
et me know that the Cubs were winning.
"Who's your man?" He asked bitterly.
Taking a deep breath in, Bella closed her eyes. She hadn't been fast enough to h
ide the message from him. Why would he do such a thing anyways? It was rude! She
immediately became agitated that he would presume so much after just reconnecti
ng after many years of not speaking to each other.
"He's not my man," she huffed. "He's just a friend of mine."
"The guy who called you the other night?" he asked, speaking of the man that her
and Emmett had spoken to the night they were at the bar watching the Mariners g
ame.
"Yeah."
"Who is he?"
The game in front of them forgotten, Bella turned her body toward Jake to get a
better look at him. "Edward Masen," she said quietly.
"You're not friends with Edward Masen," he stated.
"Yes, I am," she spoke firmly. "What does it matter to you?"
"Guys like Edward Masen don't have female friends, Bella." His eyes bore into he
rs, concern piercing out from his deep brown depths.
"That's ridiculous!"
"It's inevitable," he said roughly. "When a guy and a girl hang out, one of them
if not both eventually starts wanting the other person sexually, if they alread
y didn't feel that way to begin with."
"Believe me," Bella shot back at him, "Edward has no sexual interest in me."
"And how do you feel about him?"
Her mind swirled with thoughts of the two kisses they shared, the way they moved
together on the dance floor, the taste of raspberry on his tongue, and the pric
kly sensation she got from just the simple touch of his hand.
"We're just friends," she stated firmly, her eyes lashing out at his. There was
no way that she could ever fantasize about being more to Edward than his friend.
She was about to explain to Jake why she could never want anything more from hi
m, but she stopped herself. Jake's family didn't know, nor did they need to, abo
ut Renee and her Yankee acquaintance. If she told Jake, then he'd tell his fathe
r. She didn't want to tarnish the memory of her parents. The only people who kne
w of the affair were herself, Emmett, Alice, Rosalie, and now, Edward. That list
was more than enough.
"Listen, Edward may be attractive, but he's just not my type. I'm not into jocks
."
"It must be the challenge," Jake said dryly.
"The challenge?"
"You've made it clear to him that you aren't interested in him, right?"
"Yes."
"Then, it's purely the challenge." Jake watched for Bella's reaction and when sh
e still looked confused, he continued. "Bella, guys want what they can't have. I
t's a thrill to chase the girl. But be warned," he continued as he noticed Bella
frown, "once he gets what he wants, he'll leave you. Guys like Edward Masen dat
e models or actresses, not the girl next door!"
"We're just friends!" She said adamantly and then turned her attention back to t
he game in front of them, her mind chewing over the tough reality of what Jake p
resented her with. Was she just a game to Edward? A challenge? Was the thrill of
the hunt all that interested him in her?
Chapter 9 April 30 May 2, 2009
Rosalie shuffled through music on her iPod in the living room while Alice finish
ed blending her notorious frozen mud slides in the kitchen of her and Bella's to
wnhome. After pouring two tall glasses with the yummy goodness she created, Alic
e danced into the living room singing along with the song blaring from her speak
ers and handing one of the glasses to Rosalie.
"So," Rosalie asked as they sat on the couch together, "how is your handsome pit
cher doing?"
It was Thursday and Alice had taken the day off work to spend with Jazz, who had
just returned home from the road trip. If he hadn't needed to be at Wrigley fie
ld for tonight's game, they'd still be together, locked in each other's arms. Sh
e missed him so much.
"He's wonderful," she chimed. "I'm going over to his place tonight after the gam
e and then we're going out on a date after tomorrow's game."
From the first moment she had laid eyes on Jasper Whitlock, Alice knew that he w
as the man for her. She had spent countless days and nights watching him pitch a
nd then even more nights waiting for him to come into a bar that a local magazin
e said he frequented.
The night he finally showed up, it was as if Moses parted the sea of people that
led him to her. Their eyes locked from across the room and he walked straight t
oward her as she stared at him, her heart pounding wildly in her chest. From the
ir first touch, she knew she would never be separated from him again.
"And when is Emmett ever going to propose to you?" Alice asked Rosalie, trying t
o bring the attention away from her and Jazz because she couldn't get the things
he had done to her that afternoon out of her mind she desperately needed to thi
nk of other things.
Rolling her eyes, Rosalie took a long sip from her mudslide. "He's too chicken-s
hit." Placing her glass on the coffee table, she turned to get a better look at
her friend.
"Sometimes I wish I could see inside his head. You know, like read his thoughts.
We've always had an outstanding relationship. I love the fun we have, but for o
nce, I'd like him to be a little romantic. I know he's got the ring, I found it
in his underwear drawer! Can you believe that? He keeps my diamond with his dirt
y, torn boxer briefs!"
Picking up her glass, Rosalie took another sip of her drink before continuing. "
You know, part of me is scared that he'll propose during the seventh inning stre
tch at a Cubs game."
"That is so him!" Alice squealed with a little giggle.
"Exactly," Rosalie grimaced.
"I think you spoil him."
"What?" Rosalie narrowed her eyes on the small woman before her, wondering how s
he could even dare suggest such a thing. "I take care of my man, Alice. He wants
for nothing . . . nothing! But I'll be damned if I'm going to allow you to tell
me that I am whipped! I'm not a pussy!"
"I didn't mean that," Alice giggled, covering her mouth with her petite hand. "W
hat I meant was that though you put up a strong front, all he has to do is whisp
er something naughty into your ear and off you go, running away with him and giv
ing in to whatever he wants."
"You only know half the story," Rosalie warned her with the tone of her voice as
well as the look in her eyes.
"Then explain it to me."
"It's too much for your prudish ears," she leered and then dodged the flying pil
low that came close to knocking her drink out of her hand. "You'll pay for that
pixie!" She threatened while the front door opened to reveal a very tired lookin
g Bella.
"Bad day?" Alice asked as she got up from the couch to give her best friend a hu
ge hug.
"I haven't been sleeping very well," Bella yawned as she pulled away and waved a
t Rose. "Already boozing, I take it? Let me change my clothes and then I'll join
ya!"
Rosalie and Alice watched their friend scurry up the stairs and then Alice sat b
ack down on the couch. "I worry about her," she sighed while looking into the li
ght brown drink before her.
"Did Eddie-boy do something to piss her off?"
"I don't think so, but she's so closed off when it comes to him. I can't tell if
things are going well or not."
"What does Jazz say?"
"He won't talk about it with me. He says it's none of my business and to stop in
terfering." Alice pouted and stared up the stairs, toward the place she last saw
her friend. "I just know they'd be so good together."
"Emmett still doesn't think it'll work out. He was the first person she spoke to
about her mom on the day of! How in the world is she supposed to let go of all
that? To think that "
"Sh," Alice interrupted and then spoke in a low whisper. "Edward isn't Phil Dwye
r, and Bella isn't her mom."
Just then, Bella's feet hit the first stair as she started her descent. Upon rea
ching the bottom, she made a bee-line into the kitchen and poured herself the la
st of the mudslide from the blender and then settled on the chair in the living
room with her two best friends.
"I'm so glad this day is almost over," she rasped out before taking a long suck
from her straw.
"What happened?" Rosalie asked, her eyes roaming over Bella's choice of outfit f
or the game. If Bella had any desire to make a good impression on Edward, she su
re as hell didn't show it with her clothing choices. She wore a pair of torn, fa
ded jeans and a black t-shirt. At least the shirt was fitted, but it still didn'
t do anything for Bella's pale complexion.
"Just a busy day with work and then having to thwart off all my coworkers who wa
nt my extra ticket to the Cubs Sox games in June. My God! You'd think I work wit
h stinking idiots the way they pretend to be my friend during certain times of t
he year and then ignore me the rest of the time. As if I wouldn't notice. Maybe
they think I'm the idiot!
"The funny thing is that I haven't had an available ticket for those games for a
long time. Oh, and Alice, I need to use your extra ticket for one of those game
s. I sort of promised Jake I'd bring him to one of them."
"No problem," Alice replied hesitantly as she stole a questioning glance in Rosa
lie's direction.
"So," Bella beamed in a cheerful voice, a complete change from only seconds befo
re. "What exactly were you ladies talking about when I walked in? All I heard wa
s something being too much for the pixie's prudish ears. Care to elaborate, Hale
?"
"Don't you think she spoils Emmett?" Alice asked.
Taking a long sip from her mudslide, Bella looked at the beautiful blond sitting
across from her. Spoil Emmett? Was Alice serious? "Are you kidding me? Rosalie
is the only person I've ever seen put Emmett in his place!" As Bella watched Ros
alie's gloating expression, she thought of the last time she saw her and Emmett
together. "Although, you do seem to turn to mush the moment he whispers in your
ear."
"Yes!" Alice rejoiced, bouncing up and down in her seat while clapping her hands
.
"And that," Rosalie purred, "is where things get to be too much for both of your
prudish ears!"
"Okay," Bella said slowly before turning her attention to Alice. "How was your d
ay with Jazz?"
With eyes alight, twinkling as she spoke, Alice animatedly described every secon
d well not every second, some things were private of her time this afternoon wit
h Jazz. From the time he got off the plane at O'Hare to the moment he dropped Al
ice off at her townhome, she had the most perfect day.
The absence from each other had been hard and miserable on them both. They spent
the second two hours of their reunion the first hour was one of the moments she
passed over catching up with everything they had done in each other's absence.
They had a close relationship, one where they shared everything with one another
, never leaving a bit of information out. Alice couldn't imagine anything being
better than what her and Jazz had it was perfect!
"Okay," Rosalie said loudly once Alice was finished. "Your turn, Swan!"
"My turn for what?" Bella asked, her words slurring a little as she finished her
third drink a White Russian.
"You're going to tell us why you look like you just walked off the set of 'Dawn
of the Dead'," Rosalie said, her shoulders squared, ready to battle for the info
rmation she wanted.
"I don't know," Bella huffed. "It's just . . . it's something . . . Jake said so
mething on Tuesday night and it has me thinking. That's all."
"What did that scruffy dog say to you?"
"Scruffy dog? Seriously, Rose?"
"He's hairy and smelly, what do you expect?"
Rolling her eyes, Bella put her glass down on the table next to her chair and lo
oked at the time. They would need to leave within a half an hour to get to the f
ield, but it should be enough time to talk to her friends about what Jake had sa
id. "Do you guys think that men and woman can be friends?"
"Why do you ask? Does he want to be more than friends with you?" Alice asked cas
ually, trying to hide her fear that Bella would choose Jake over Edward.
"No, he was talking about me and Edward. He thinks that Edward has a hidden agen
da, and that men and women can't ever be just friends. He said that eventually o
ne of them will want to have sex with the other one."
"When Harry Met Sally," Alice said while nodding her head knowingly.
"What?" Bella asked.
"That's what Harry tells Sally when they're on the plane. Or was it in the car?
I don't remember. But he tells her that men and women can't be friends."
"But they do become friends," Bella said excitedly. "They made it work! I rememb
er them spending time on the phone and shopping and going out to dinner with eac
h other. They made it work!"
"Um, Bella," Alice said tentatively. "Harry and Sally end up having sex."
You could physically see the deflation in Bella as Alice spoke her words. Her wh
ole body sank into her chair and she closed her eyes before she spoke. "I guess
Edward and I are doomed then."
"Why do you say that?" Rosalie asked.
Bella's eyes shot open to look at her friends. "I can't decide what to do. Part
of me wants to be friends with Edward so bad, but the other part keeps warning m
e to be careful and to not trust him. Things were going good and then Jake menti
oned this 'friends' thing, telling me that Edward was probably only my friend be
cause I presented him with a challenge."
"A challenge?" Bella's friends said together.
"Yeah, you know," Bella hesitated, "the thrill of the chase?"
"That ass!" Rosalie rose from her seat, pacing in front of the TV. "Bella, did i
t ever occur to you that maybe Jake said all those things because he's intereste
d in you?"
"No," Bella said, her eyes scrunching together as she peered at the pacing blond
.
"I would wager a bet that he's afraid of Edward being competition. Heck, listen
to what he told you, 'men and women can't be friends'. If that's the case, then
he couldn't be your friend either, now could he?"
"No!" Bella belted out, more firmly and sure of herself. "I hate guys! Did I eve
r tell you that?"
"All the time," Rosalie laughed as she finally made her way to Bella. "Don't tak
e any of what Jake said out on Edward, he really is a nice guy."
Contemplating Rosalie's words, Bella looked up at her friend sheepishly. "Maybe
I shouldn't have ignored Edward's call today."
"Now, we have the truth as to why you walked in here looking like you were ready
to walk into a post office and open fire!" Alice said incredulously, standing u
p from the couch. "You're just missing Edward, that's all." She giggled after sh
e spoke and then all three of them gathered together for a big hug. "I need to h
ave a talk with Jake," Alice whispered into their tight circle.
"No, let me," Rosalie insisted and Bella laughed as she pulled away.
"Honestly girls, I need to be the one to talk to him. I learned from Emmett to a
lways tease your prey first." She winked at her girlfriends and then grabbed her
Cubs hat off the entertainment center. "We've got to get going though. I want t
o see if I can get a chance to talk to Edward before the game."
~GO CUBS~
It was crazy and loud on the El after the game Friday night. Sitting alone, as t
he drunk, cold, and wet Cubs fans exalted in a win, Bella looked out the window,
watching the blur of buildings as she made her way to meet up with Angela and B
en. Alice was going out with Jazz this evening and Emmett and Rosalie had plans
with some friends from her office.
At the game yesterday, Bella never did get a chance to talk to Edward. She was h
oping that if they arrived early enough, she'd be able to flag him down before t
he game started but she never caught his eye. The three girlfriends did, however
, make it to the field in time to be one of the first 10,000 fans to receive a C
ubs car flag, which was now sitting on Bella's dresser. She'd never put anything
on her car, even if it were for the Cubs, or the Mariners.
She had texted Edward after the game and apologized for not answering his call.
He texted her back and told her he'd see her tomorrow, which was now today. Emme
tt, Rosalie, and her boss, Marcus, watched the game with her and every once in a
while, her eyes locked onto Edward's. He never showed any emotion toward her du
ring the game, but that didn't bother her. She knew that he had to keep focused.
In the seventh inning, right after the singing of 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame'
, where Bella was finally able to elicit a smile from her friend along with a wi
nk, Edward proceeded to hit a grand slam home-run, which gave the cubs their fin
al lead and an 8 6 win over the Florida Marlins.
Once Edward had escaped to the locker room, as Bella was getting ready to leave
the park, she received a text from him, asking her to wait. The majority of scre
aming fans had dissipated out of the stands by the time Edward emerged from the
dugout and walked over to where Bella stood waiting for him in the stands. They
were finally able to speak face-to-face for the first time since the morning he
left her house when she had been sick.
There was an awkward moment when he first approached, where Bella felt the pull
to lean in and give him a hug. His body also leaned forward but instead of going
in for contact, they stared at each other and smiled uncomfortably until Edward
spoke, asking her where she planned to go after dinner. They only spoke for a b
rief moment before a group of lingering fans gathered around Bella, trying to ge
t an autograph from the Cubs short stop. He grimaced at the attention and then t
old her to call him once she was out of the park.
"Which would be now," Bella muttered under her breath, no one on the train able
to hear due to the loud, drunken singing and chanting that was still taking plac
e on the El. She hurriedly called Angela to see what their plans for the evening
were. After the call, she still didn't know what they were doing after dinner,
so she texted what she knew to Edward. It felt weird to actually try and meet up
with him. Every other time they'd been at the same bar was a coincidence or Ali
ce had set it up. Now, typing out a text to the man that made her heart stutter,
she was suddenly anxious.
Having dinner at Lou Malnatis. No plans after that. What are you doing?
Friends, Bella, just friends! This was what friends do, she reminded herself the
y made plans to meet up. Then why did she feel like she was doing something wron
g? Why did she feel that taking this step would plunge her further into a world
she did not wish to belong to?
Going out with a few guys from the team. Not sure where yet. Will text you when
I find out.
At Lou Malnatis, Bella met up with Angela, Ben, and another one of her coworkers
, Tim the guy who was unfortunate to receive the Clap from Becca. The three of t
hem had watched the game over at Ben's place and were just as excited as Bella f
elt inside over Edward's grand slam. All four of them spoke of nothing else but
the Cubs as they ate and it felt good to Bella to be able to relax and speak abo
ut one of her favorite things baseball. She was in her zone, going over each inn
ing, when her cell phone went off, notifying her that she had a text message.
Going to Days End . . . not far from Lou's.
It wasn't her favorite bar, but she liked it all right. Actually, it was the pla
ce she first met Edward and she suddenly wondered if he remembered that. Taking
her attention away from thoughts of the green-eyed mystery that was Edward Masen
, she told her friends that he and some of his teammates were going to 'Days End
' and the boys got excited. Ben was a huge fan of Edward's and Bella was sure th
at he would probably make a fool of himself again. Tim was a huge Cubs fan as we
ll, but he didn't seem to Bella as though he'd forget his name, as Ben had the f
irst time he met Edward.
Upon entering 'Days End', Bella found Edward's friends easily, but he was nowher
e to be seen. Unsure of what to do, she paused in the entrance with her three fr
iends behind her. With her heart pounding crazily in her chest, she started the
walk toward Edward's friends and teammates. Luckily, Bella had met Kate, Garrett
Greene's wife, at Carlisle and Esme's barbeque. She just hoped that Kate would
remember her as well. She had never spoken to Garrett, Hugo Saldana, or Peter Mo
ck, who were among the other people sitting with Kate.
Kate recognized her right away and stood up, greeting her with a big hug. "It's
so nice to see you again, Bella!"
"It's nice to see you too," Bella replied shyly. "Um, these are my friends, Ange
la, Ben, and Tim." Bella used her hand, motioning to each of her friends as she
said their names.
"You know my husband, Garrett, right?" Kate asked.
"I've never been formally introduced," Bella blushed.
"This is Garrett, Hugo, Peter, and Peter's wife, Charlotte. This is their first
night away from their baby together," Kate said as she introduced the people sit
ting at their table.
"Congratulations," Bella said sweetly before the four of them scrounged up some
chairs to join the table.
Once seated, everyone talked about the game and Edward's grand slam, which had b
rought both Garrett and Peter in to score. Bella listened and gave her opinion h
ere and there, but her eyes scanned the bar, looking for Edward. Eventually, he
emerged from the bathroom, but as soon as he did he was immediately accosted by
a man who patted him on the back, talking very closely to Edward's face.
The commotion made by Edward trying to get away from the guy brought in more peo
ple who suddenly recognized who he was and instantly, he was surrounded by peopl
e wanting to talk with him.
With her eyes on Edward and her ears on the conversation at the table, Bella wat
ched as person after person went to slap Edward on the back or ask for his autog
raph. He was very gracious once he got the original man off him. He even wore a
smile on his face as he spoke to people, shook their hands, and signed various a
rticles, mostly cardboard coasters from the bar. It wasn't until Bella noticed E
dward pinch the bridge of his nose that she realized he wasn't enjoying the atte
ntion.
"Poor Eddie," Hugo chuckled as he observed the scene Bella had been staring at.
"Why is it that only a few people have come over here to ask for autographs but
he's hounded?" Angela asked in awe.
"There's safety in numbers, it intimidates," Garrett responded, laughing at the
predicament his good friend found himself in. "It's usually not that bad, but wi
th his grand slam, everyone wants a piece of him today."
Seeing Edward's discomfort, Bella stiffly stood up from the table and purposeful
ly walked to the crowd, pushing her way through, until she was next to Edward. P
utting her arm around his waist, she felt his body immediately stiffen from her
contact, but then relax when he looked down and realized it was her that was tou
ching him.
"Bella," he sighed, happy to see her come to his rescue.
"Sorry, folks," Bella said loudly, waving her free hand above her head to get ev
eryone's attention. "Mr. Masen is done signing autographs." Bella kept her arm a
round Edward's waist as she pulled him with her, out of the throng of people and
over to the bar, where they huddled in a corner, Edward's back to everyone's st
aring eyes.
"Is it clear?" He asked amused.
"No," she grunted.
"I wasn't sure if you were going to come."
"Well, you gave me the sign."
"Right," he smiled before looking up to get the bartender's attention. After ord
ering two beers, he relaxed next to Bella, finally getting a chance to really lo
ok at her for the first time today. "You came straight from the game?"
"Yeah," she said, her hands uncomfortably ghosting over her blue Cubs t-shirt. "
Sorry, I wasn't thinking."
"It's fine."
When their drinks were placed in front of them, Bella immediately started drinki
ng, finding it easier to be in his presence with a beer to her lips than to have
to talk to him at that moment. Why hadn't she thought of bringing an extra shir
t with her? Suddenly, her attention was brought to the widescreen TV above the b
ar where she saw Edward's mug talking about the game.
"Nice," she chuckled and Edward followed her eyes to the TV screen.
"As if this night couldn't get any worse," he moaned.
"You don't like to see yourself on TV?"
"I don't like to hear myself speak on TV," he corrected her. "My voice sounds we
ird."
"Luckily, it's too loud in here to hear what you're saying. Maybe I should have
the bartender turn it up?"
Edward looked back up at the TV and grimaced. "I'm sure I was just saying someth
ing generic about how it felt to hit the grand slam."
"And how did it feel?" She asked, her eyes begging for a real answer as her teet
h bit into her bottom lip. She wasn't sure if asking him would upset him or not.
"I don't know," he replied as he turned his attention back to her and took a sip
of his beer. "I heard my bat connect with the ball and I watched it fly as I ra
n down the first base line. It felt normal, as normal as when I hit any other ho
me run."
"So the cool out-of-body experience that the media is looking for doesn't exist?
"
"Not for me," he said with a smile.
"Okay," Bella said forcefully. "I'm sure you're sick of talking about that. Tell
me how you're doing on the ladies front."
"What do you mean?" He asked, suddenly fearful to do what he needed to tell her
about his screw up in St. Louis.
"The last time we had a coherent conversation, you told me that you were giving
up girls for a while. What exactly did you mean by that, and would that exclude
cute red-heads who have been staring at you all night?" Bella's eyes roamed over
a tall red-head who looked as if she was getting ready to interrupt their conve
rsation.
"Cute red-heads?" He asked confused and tried to turn in the direction of Bella'
s stare, but she stopped him with her arms, holding his body in place.
"First tell me what you meant."
"Bella, this is a conversation I'd rather have anywhere else but in a bar."
"So, the tall cute red-head is out?"
"I have no clue what you're talking about."
As the red-head got closer, Bella questioned her sanity. Was she keeping Edward
from looking at the red-head because she didn't want to end their conversation,
or was she genuinely trying to help the man? "Are you game for some female compa
nionship?" She asked nervously.
"Depends on the female," he smirked. When Bella's expression didn't change, he c
ontinued. "I'm not leaving here with anyone but you," he stated, his eyes twinkl
ing as they stared into hers.
Without warning to Edward, Bella pulled him into her, her lips pressing eagerly
against his as her hands roamed up and over his back. The feeling was the same a
s the other times she had kissed Edward before, her heart stuttered and the hair
on her arms stood up in response to the electrifying feeling that originated in
her chest and shot down into her toes.
When his arms tightened around her, Bella opened her mouth and reveled in the ta
ste of him as their tongues collided, fervently playing with each other, ignitin
g a fire under Bella's skin. She was in too deep. She found that she didn't want
to stop the kiss, though she knew she should. Letting herself enjoy the feel of
his strong muscles under her fingertips, her lips lingered against his until hi
s left hers, moving down to her jaw and then to her neck, planting kisses along
the trail.
That's when she opened her eyes and realized the red-head had left them alone. "
Shoot," she muttered as she pushed him away, leaving him looking confused. "I'm
sorry, Edward, I should've warned you."
"Warned me about what?" He asked breathless.
"Some red-head was on her way over to commandeer you. I should've let you talk t
o her, I'm a horrible wingman," she smirked. If only that were the real reason I
kissed you!
His laughter was rather loud and Bella wondered if he had lost his mind. When he
finally settled down and looked into her eyes, she blushed. She had enjoyed the
kiss more than she'd like for him to know and she was now worried that he'd see
it written all over her face.
"Not at all," he finally spoke. "I'm not in the mood to . . . Bella, when I told
you that I was done with women, I meant it. Well . . ." Edward's face changed e
motions so fast that Bella had a hard time following the looks of guilt, anger,
and fear as they crossed over him. "God, let's get out of here," he said hurried
ly, his eyes darting over to the table where their friends sat, acknowledging th
e mixture of their two groups joined together. "How're they getting along?" he a
sked curiously.
"Okay, I think. Ben and Tim are in total awe and Angela has no clue about baseba
ll, but I think she's getting along with Kate and Charlotte pretty well."
"Do you think they'll mind if we leave?"
"I think the question you should be asking is whether I mind if we leave," she s
aid friskily. "Where are we going?"
"To have a talk," he said, placing money down on the bar to pay for their drinks
. "Come on."
Following Edward to the door of the bar, Bella glanced over at Angela and mouthe
d the words, "I'll call you." Angela didn't seem to mind that she was leaving an
d, for that, Bella was grateful. But as they exited the bar, Bella suddenly felt
nervous. What exactly did he want to talk to her about? Had she overstepped her
bounds in the bar earlier? Was he upset that she . . . what could he possibly b
e upset about? Nothing, she finally told herself, feeling a little more optimist
ic about the conversation he wanted to have.
"You okay?" He asked, his eyes searching hers as they walked through the parking
lot, approaching his car.
"Yeah, I'm just thinking."
"I'm glad to get out of that bar. I'm more in the mood for some peace and quiet
tonight," he smiled.
All the anxiety that Bella had built up left her body once Edward spoke and she
relaxed into his side, his arm reaching out, wrapping around her waist. It wasn'
t anything intimate. It was something that Emmett would do to her. Friends. It w
as something a friend would do.
Edward led Bella to his car and opened the door for her. Reluctantly, she took h
is hand as he helped her into the passenger side. Leaning back against the gray
leather seat, she watched as he closed her door and then rounded to the other si
de of the car and slid behind the wheel.
"I think I was expecting more of a muscle car from you," she mused quietly and h
e took a long look at her before he put the key in the ignition and started the
car.
"Disappointed?" He asked with one eye cocked.
"No, I just assumed . . ."
"It's not nice enough outside to be riding around in my other car," he chuckled
cockily.
"Right," Bella clipped under her breath. "And what car might that be?"
"An Aston Martin DBS."
When Bella didn't respond, he looked over to her with an amused look. "Don't tel
l me you don't know what an Aston Martin is," he chided her.
"I've seen James Bond," she huffed and he chuckled as he pulled out onto the str
eet. "Where are we going?" Bella asked sometime later when it seemed they were j
ust driving around.
"I'm looking for a coffee shop."
"Turn left at the next light. There's a small place I pass all the time on the r
ight-hand side. I've never tried it but I think it's open late."
The coffee shop was pretty empty, but Bella got the feeling it was one of those
places that became packed as the night wore on. Scanning over the desert menu, B
ella let her eyes linger over the various types of pie, not really thinking of w
hat she wanted. She was too nervous thinking about what Edward wanted to talk ab
out.
When the waitress came over and started making small talk with Edward about the
game, Bella listened, smirking when the lady hit on him. He gently kicked her le
g under the table, pleading for help but she just laughed to herself as she let
her eyes roam above the edge of the menu to get a look of the woman. She was in
her early fifties, most likely, the gray already starting to show in her dark br
own hair. Her lipstick was dark red and thick, but that seemed to be the only ma
keup she had on. Her eyes looked natural, as did her cheeks.
"Are you ready hon?" She asked Bella, who immediately dropped her menu to order.
"Um, sure . . . I'll have a cup of coffee and a slice of pumpkin pie a la mode,
heated."
"Did you want the ice cream heated too?" The waitress asked and Bella stifled a
giggle.
"No, thank you," she said politely. "Just the pie heated and then the ice cream
on top." A small giggle escaped her lips and Edward softly nudged her leg with h
is again. Bella's eye's shot to his but he had looked away from her, giving the
waitress his full attention.
"I'll have a slice of Key Lime and a cup of coffee, please."
When the waitress finally walked away, Bella couldn't hold it in any longer. "Wh
o heats up their ice cream?"
"Don't make a scene," Edward grimaced, but her laughter was too infectious and h
e found himself laughing with her.
They both got themselves under control when they saw the waitress walking toward
their table with a pot of coffee. After they both had their coffee in hand, sil
ence permeated the table. They both sat, sipping at their black coffee, Bella's
eyes on the other patrons of the shop.
"Do you ever wonder," she pondered quietly, "what a person's story is?"
"Sometimes," he said, placing his cup down and looking toward the table that Bel
la was staring at. "What do you think her story is?"
Bella's eyes had been transfixed on an older woman in worn jeans and a UIC sweat
shirt. Her hair was tied up in a wispy bun at the nape of her neck and she read
a book while a piece of half-eaten pie sat on the table in front of her. Bella t
ried to make out what book it was, but she couldn't figure out the cover from th
e distance.
"She gave her life to her career," Bella said softly. "Now, years later, all she
has is her book, a piece of pie, her coffee, old memories from college, and thr
ee cats waiting for her in her small one-bedroom apartment full of plants." Bell
a frowned down into her coffee cup before taking another sip.
"So pessimistic," Edward smirked. "I see a woman who is out enjoying a piece of
pie and coffee with her favorite book the book she reads at least once a year. S
he has a love affair with this book, but above all else, she had a most wonderfu
l love affair with the man of her dreams, who died not too long ago. She just re
turned home from visiting with her four grandkids and is debating on whether or
not to take her daughter up on her offer to have her come live with them full ti
me." Edward leaned in closer to Bella. "On one hand, she'd be closer to her gran
dkids and get to see them every day, spending all the quality time she desperate
ly wants to have with them. But, on the other hand, she would be leaving the hom
e that her and her love had built and all the memories of their lives including
favorite restaurants especially this coffee shop."
"That's still a pretty sad story," Bella said with a frown. "I want to die befor
e my husband. I don't think I'd want to go on without him."
Their slices of pie were delivered and Bella literally moaned as she took her fi
rst bite. They silently ate for a few bites and then Edward sat back and watched
as Bella savored the flavor of her pumpkin pie.
"How many relationships have you been in?" He asked quietly.
Taken off-guard by his rather random question, Bella swallowed the piece of pie
that was in her mouth and took a sip of her coffee before looking up at him. "I'
m sorry?" She asked while choking over the burn that she gave her throat from ta
king the hurried sip.
"I'm just curious as to how many relationships you've been in."
"Why?"
"Bella," he sighed, "I'm just trying to figure a few things out."
"Like what?" She immediately became defensive with his line of questioning. Jake
had, just a few days before, warned her that he was after something more than f
riendship from her. After speaking with Alice and Rosalie, she had given up the
notion. But now, this question coming out of left field from Edward scared her.
"What I said to you the day we had lunch, about giving up girls," his features t
ensed up and Bella wondered what he was nervous about. "I did mean it, Bella. At
the time, it seemed so right . . ."
"But," she encouraged him, not wanting to hear what she was afraid he would say
to her.
"But, I had . . . well, I was at a bar . . . I was drunk." He looked nervously i
nto her eyes.
"Okay?" She asked, trying to help him along.
"Afterwards, I knew it was wrong and I feel horrible and . . . guilty."
"Guilty about getting drunk? Edward, I'm not following you."
"Not drunk, Bella, for giving in. For having sex." His body immediately went rig
id and Bella stared at him, her heart racing. It doesn't affect you. He's just a
friend, Bella. Say something!
"W- . . . Why are you telling me this?" She stuttered out, her throat feeling sw
ollen, as if it were closing up on her. Running her finger along the rim of her
coffee cup, she focused her sad, cold stare at Edward.
"I promised you and I failed," He said miserably.
"You have no reason to apologize," she forced out of her lips. "We're just frien
ds." Reminding herself to breath, she continued to stare at him, wondering why h
e felt the need to tell her this. So he had sex with someone. Didn't she already
know that he had sex with different women all the time? Now that they were frie
nds, was he going to tell her about all the girls he slept with? And why did he
feel guilty? She knew she must be missing something.
"There's no reason to feel guilty." The words ghosted out of her lips and she li
stened to them, not realizing at first that she had said them. "We're only frien
ds. And as your friend, I really don't want to hear about your sexual exploits."
"Listen to me," he whispered as he watched the enchantress he had come to . . .
well he wasn't sure what he had come to feel for her. But he was watching her br
eak down and it hurt him all the more. "I finally realized that I don't want tha
t life anymore. I made a promise to you and I mean it - from here on out. I'm no
t going to be running off and having sex any more."
Still confused as to why he felt the need to tell her all of this, Bella sat sti
ffly in her seat and just listened. He obviously was upset and needed to talk to
someone. But the reason behind his candor plagued her. Was he using this to mak
e her jealous? Was Jake right, and he was after her for more than friendship and
thought that jealousy would push her into something more?
"Bella, I want to try a serious relationship."
The words Edward spoke reverberate through her mind. "Bella, I want to try a ser
ious relationship." With her? What was he trying to say? Why would he presume th
at she would want anything more after they both agreed to just be friends?
"I . . . I don't know what to say," she stuttered.
"I'm doing this all wrong, aren't I?" He ran a hand through his unruly hair and
sighed loudly.
"Honestly, Edward, I have no idea what you're even trying to do."
"I just . . . as my friend, I thought I could talk to you about this. I want to
make a change in my life." His hands came to rest, one on top of the other, on t
op of the table and he stared intently at them. "The only real relationship I've
had since playing professional ball ended in a disaster. Lauren used me to get
what she wanted and . . . and, well, let's just say I was on the losing team whe
n all was said and done."
"I'm sorry," Bella whispered, placing one of her hands on top of his.
Edward lifted his gaze to her. "I just thought you could help me out. You seem t
o have a level head on your shoulders." He smiled warmly at her.
"I'm probably the last person you should ask for advice. Besides Emmett, I've on
ly had one other serious relationship and that one was doomed from the beginning
," she snorted.
"So we're both new to this?"
"Yeah," she replied and then hesitated before speaking again. "Edward, can I ask
you something?"
"Sure."
"Why have you been sleeping around?"
It was obviously not the right question to ask. Bella watched as Edward's face i
mmediately closed up. His eyes turned cold and hard, not allowing a glimmer of t
he smile he politely gave her to reach them.
"It's late," he said with the fake smile plastered to his face.
Bella knew she had offended him again but she didn't even feel like apologizing
this time. She was tired he was tiring her out. "I'll see you later," she mutter
ed quietly and his eyebrows furrowed together.
"You're going to stay?"
"Yeah, I want to finish my pie," she said dejectedly, not meeting his eyes.
"Bella, I'm sorry "
"No. There's no reason to be. You're tired and need to go home. You have a game
to rest up for. I'll see you later." Bella put on her fake smile, just as he had
done, trying hard to put off a strong exterior. Inside she wanted to cry and sc
ream at him, but she had to fight against that desire because then he'd know . .
. he'd know . . .
"I won't leave you here alone," he stated and remained in his seat.
After a few minutes, Bella's pie didn't taste all that good anymore. There were
only a few bites left as she played around in the pie and melted ice cream, sile
ntly pleading for him to leave her be.
"I'm having a barbeque after the game on Sunday," he said some-what excitedly.
"Oh?" She responded in a flat voice.
"I was hoping you'd come. You can invite Emmett and Rosalie. Jazz already told m
e that he and Alice will be there."
"I'm supposed to work on a project for my class," she replied in a monotone voic
e. Then after a while, she continued. "Do you really think we can do this?"
"Do what?"
"Be friends? Look at what just happened. We can't even have a decent conversatio
n without both of our feelings getting hurt."
"But that's why I think we make great friends." His foot nudged hers under the t
able for the third time since they sat down and she smiled genuinely. "If you di
dn't challenge me so much, how would I ever become a better person? A real frien
d doesn't put up with my shit, as so many others do."
"No one has said anything to you about all the girls?"
Edward's body tensed up for a moment but then slowly relaxed. "Jazz, Garrett, an
d Carlisle have. And when that didn't work, Esme and Kate joined in." That last
bit of information from him made her snort and then laugh.
"What's so funny?"
"I just can't imagine Esme scolding you. She seems so demure, so perfect. I can'
t see her raising her voice to anyone."
"Just wait, once she gets going, she's like a freight train."
Bella chuckled again and Edward finally relaxed. "Friends again?" he asked.
"We never weren't."
"Great, then you'll come by on Sunday?"
"Maybe," she smiled. "I may have to bring my partner though. I promised him we'd
get some work done after the game."
"Bella?"
"Yes, Edward?"
"Thanks for letting me get that all off my chest. I really do want to make a cha
nge."
"Well I guess we're going to have to work hard to find a deserving woman for you
," she thought out loud. "It could be hard though, you're too well known around
here."
"Now you understand what my problem has been," he sighed, throwing his napkin do
wn on the table.
"Is that really all it was? You couldn't find a nice girl that didn't already kn
ow who you were?"
"Maybe I was looking in all the wrong places . . . and for the wrong girl," he s
aid sweetly and Bella realized that his eyes had softened up, as well as the mus
cles in his face. It was unnerving to stare into his smoldering eyes. They invit
ed her in and she found herself getting lost in their depths. This man was dange
rous to her. With just one look, he was able break through her defenses, causing
her heart to sputter forward, allowing desire to build up within her. She had t
o fight harder.
"At least we know that it won't take much, once you find her," she smirked. "One
look like that at her and she's yours." Bella fought to control her beating hea
rt, bringing it down a notch so that she could breathe smoothly, instead of the
jagged breaths that were being forced out of her lungs.
"If that were the case, she'd already be mine."
The words came out as a whisper and then he stood up to pay the bill. Had she he
ard him correctly? She couldn't be sure, so she just sat there and watched as he
walked over to the cash register. Digging in her pockets, she pulled out some c
ash and left it on the table as a tip and then went to meet up with him.
"You know that I was supposed to pay this time," she scolded him.
"I said you could pay the next time we go out for lunch."
"And when will that be?"
"Monday."
"You're so sure of yourself. Maybe if we knock your ego down a few levels it'll
be easier for you to find a nice girl."
"I don't really think that's the problem," he breathed out next to her ear and t
hen opened the door for her to exit the café

Chapter 10 May 2 3, 2009


In all actuality, Bella never cared for going out and drinking every weekend, bu
t ever since meeting Edward, it seemed like all she did now. Not that she got dr
unk every time she rarely did. And not only had Edward gotten her out to the bar
s lately, Jake had too. He was supposed to meet up with them tonight, but he had
cancelled. It didn't bother Bella much that he had, but she was hoping to play
a trick on Jake put him in his place and now that would have to wait.
In place of the wonderful company of her long lost friend, she now found herself
talking to some guy who had a problem focusing on her eyes. Instead, his attent
ion was drawn down to the tightness of her shirt. Bella crossed her arms over he
r chest, irritated with the clod.
She didn't have specific plans to meet up with Edward tonight. Well, not really.
He had texted her earlier in the day, before the game started, telling her that
he was going out with Jazz tonight. She texted him back, telling him that she w
ould be out with Alice. It didn't take a rocket scientist to put two and two tog
ether.
Despite Bella's original fear of Alice dating a baseball player, she really did
like Jazz and he treated her wonderfully. When they were on the road, he called
every evening and sometimes during the day when he got a chance. And though the
distance sucked, they made up for it by spending as much time together as they c
ould when he was in town. Bella wasn't blind; she could see that Alice was happy
with him. Right now, her little pixie friend was filling her mug with more beer
, waiting for her man to arrive and Bella was waiting as well.
After the long talk she had with Edward in the coffee shop, Bella did a lot of t
hinking she couldn't help but think since she couldn't sleep. She lay in bed all
night, tossing and turning, burrowing her face in her pillow, trying hard to re
member the smell of him the smell he had left on her pillow after staying with h
er when she was sick. The smell was gone now, but she still tried.
It hurt that he had slept with someone when he was out on the road and she still
didn't understand his reasoning in having to tell her. Why couldn't he just say
that he wanted to change? Instead, he had to tell her that he had sex with some
one. And on top of it all, the fact that it bothered her as much as it did unner
ved her.
"Do you need another beer?"
"Um, no, I'm fine," Bella replied, looking up at the guy she was talking to. Sam
? No, Scott. No . . . God why can't I remember his name?
"Would you like to dance?" He asked as he attempted to take her empty glass from
her hand.
"No," she said cautiously, holding tight to her mug. "I don't dance." She still
couldn't remember his name, but what did it matter in the long run? As cute as h
e was and not too boring, he wasn't who she wanted to be talking to. Just as she
was about to leave him and walk over to where Alice sat with Emmett and Rosalie
, she noticed Edward and Jazz walk into the bar. Her heart jumped into her throa
t.
"Where was it you said you worked again?" She choked out, her eyes straying over
to the bar where Edward now stood. He wore dark jeans and a light blue button d
own shirt. His auburn hair was disheveled, as always, and she immediately imagin
ed running her fingers through it. It always felt so silky and soft. She bit dow
n into her bottom lip and turned her attention back to the man in front of her,
catching the last part of what he said.
". . . it's not that glamorous, but it pays the bills."
"Yeah," she mumbled, still not exactly sure what he did for a living. "I know wh
at you mean."
"You do?" he asked as he leaned in closer to her.
"Um, yeah. My job isn't that exciting either, but it's steady and it pays well."
Glancing out the corner of her eye, Bella noticed a small brunette approach Edw
ard. Give me the sign, Edward.
"So how long have you lived in Chicago?" Mysterious boy, who's name started with
an 'S', was asking the most generic questions.
"Not too long, you?" Sadly enough, she was being boring back.
"I just moved here from Indiana a few months ago . . ." The guy started rambling
and she let her eyes shift back over to Edward, who was now in conversation wit
h the brunette.
Bella's stomach twisted into a knot as she noticed him laugh and she fought the
urge to charge over there and interrupt. He hadn't given her the sign he was enj
oying the other girl's company. Taking a deep breath, she calmed herself down an
d focused on the boy in front of her, watching his mouth move, but not bothering
to listen to his words.
The one thing Edward had said he wanted yesterday was a relationship. Maybe he l
iked the brunette's company and would ask her out on a date a real date. Bittern
ess seeped into Bella's heart as she thought of him laughing with the brunette a
nd she turned her head in time to notice that his smile wasn't reaching his eyes
. Maybe he wasn't enjoying her company after all. Her heart kicked back into gea
r at that thought, but if he wasn't enjoying himself, then why hadn't he given h
er the damn sign already?
". . . did you go to the Cubs game too?"
"Cubs game?" She asked in a haze. She really hadn't been paying attention.
"Yeah, you do like the Cubs, right? I mean, you live on the North side, don't yo
u?"
"Um, yeah, I live on the North side." Here was a decent looking guy who's only f
ault so far was that he spoke mostly to her breasts than to her, and she couldn'
t even get excited about talking to him about the Cubs something was wrong with
her. "And yes, I was at the game, were you?"
She was still preoccupied with Edward and the brunette. Her eyes strayed to look
at them again and the little creature had her hand on his arm. Heated rage seep
ed throughout Bella's body, her arms, legs, and face becoming overheated. Sudden
ly, without thinking it through, Bella placed her fingers on her left ear and st
arted to play with her earring.
"Well not exactly, we had seats on top of a bar . . ."
It was almost instantly that Bella felt Edward's arm encircle her waist and she
immediately turned into him, her arms moving around his neck as she placed a kis
s at the base of his jaw. Edward's other arm went around her, pulling her closer
as he glared at the pretty boy who had been bothering him since he walked into
the place.
She really should've felt guilty for being rude to both what's-his-name and Edwa
rd, but all she felt was elation at the fact that Edward was no longer talking t
o that skank the skank who now stared at Bella viciously. "Edward," she sighed a
gainst his neck and he loosened the grip he held her with.
"Aren't you Edward Masen?" Bella's friend asked, interrupting their moment.
"Yes, and you are?" Edward asked skeptically.
"Steve!" Steve thrust out his hand, grabbing Edward's, shaking it profusely. "I
can't believe I'm standing here next to you!"
"It's nice to meet you, Steve," Edward replied tersely. "If you'll excuse us," h
e continued, his eyes shifting down to look at Bella.
"Sure, sorry about that," he said quickly and then he scampered away, looking ba
ck every couple of steps to stare at the Cubs short stop.
"Thank you," Bella said shakily, hesitantly looking up at Edward. Would he know
that she only gave the sign to get him away from that girl? Emmett always told h
er she was easy to read. Now would be a good time for her to find a poker face.
"Anytime," he smiled down at her, his arms still wrapped around her waist while
her hands rested on his chest. Neither of them made any attempt to pull away. "I
thought you were enjoying his company with the way the two of you were so close
together."
"Definitely not. He was just so . . . so . . . I don't know. He just didn't do a
nything for me."
"No sparks or butterflies?" He teased, his eyes twinkling as he looked down into
hers.
"You know," she started, "as much as I don't believe in that stuff, maybe Alice
and Jazz are on to something." There was a current that she felt when Edward tou
ched her. Was that what sparks were? It didn't feel like a spark, more like a fl
ow. And were the butterflies the little flittering that she felt in her stomach
whenever he smiled?
"You think you'll know your soul mate when he kisses you and you see fireworks?"
He was amused and Bella started laughing as she caught onto what he was insinua
ting. She had never seen fireworks when kissing anyone even Edward. That stuff j
ust didn't exist. But, God, his kisses did make her feel . . . feel . . . God, t
hey made her feel. Every fiber of her being reacted when his lips blended with h
ers, they made her feel alive, on fire. Maybe it wasn't fireworks, but it was so
mething.
"I've yet to see any," she challenged, wondering if he had ever experienced it.
"Me neither."
"So," she began brightly, determined to change the subject. "Who was the little
brunette?"
"Some fan," he stated, dismissing the girl entirely.
Call her masochistic, but Bella wanted more detail. "Just a fan? The two of you
looked awfully close for her to be just a fan," she goaded.
"Are you jealous?" Edward pulled his head back, getting a better look into her e
yes.
"Of course not!" She lied. "I just felt bad for pulling you away from her. Maybe
she was a nice, sweet girl you could take out on a date."
"She wore too much perfume and had huge, buggy eyes."
"Are you sure?" Why was she doing this to herself? "Maybe you could go find her
. . ."
"Are you trying to get rid of me?" He smirked, pulling her in closer to him, tic
kling her side, and she giggled, twisting away from his fingers.
"Never," she whispered against his chest and his fingers stopped their torture,
his arms relaxing his hold on her, as he smiled down at her flushed face. "I jus
t thought you might want to search for someone to ask on a date." She swallowed
the lump in her throat after she said the words.
"Actually," he breathed, his eyes scanning the tables around them. "I just want
to sit back and relax. Come on," he said, pulling her over to a couple of empty
stools by the bar and ordering them each a beer.
"So, have you finished those books yet?"
"Actually, I have a couple chapters left in the fourth one." His eyes leveled on
her with a playful spark. "Do you always read porn?"
"They aren't porn," she nearly shrieked. Quieting down a little, she continued.
"They're good stories."
"Right," he gleamed at her, "that's why you read them."
"Okay, so the vampires are sexy and the author gets into some nice detail with c
ertain scenes," she blushed, "but the stories are good too."
"They're okay. Which one's your favorite?"
"You can't tell?"
"I know which one I think you would like, but you always seem to surprise me."
"I haven't even given you the book of my favorite one yet," she winked.
"So it's not the one with the demon?"
"Oh, I like him too," she said, smiling brightly. "Actually, when he gave into t
he beast and, well, the part where . . . God, I can't believe I'm talking to you
about this."
"About what?"
"He's just so . . . sexy."
"You don't, um, you know . . . pleasure your "
"Edward!" She shrieked, teasingly slapping him on his shoulder before turning he
r head down to hide her embarrassment and pink cheeks. Totally ashamed, she look
ed back up at him. "How about you? Did it, you know, turn you on?"
"The beast? No!"
"How about the girl?"
"No!"
"What are you two doing over here alone? We have beer at the table!" They were i
nterrupted by Emmett, who had two empty pitchers in his hands, bringing them to
the bar to get refilled.
"Hey Emmett," Edward greeted him.
"Dude, that was a cute chick you were with earlier," he winked and smiled bright
ly at Edward.
"Chick?" Bella scoffed.
"Come on Bells, you used to like it when I called you my chick."
"First of all, that was back in High School. And secondly, I didn't like it, I t
olerated it."
Edward chuckled and clapped Emmett on the shoulder as he swiveled in his bar sto
ol. "Go on back to the table. We'll bring the pitchers over when they're done."
Once Emmett had left them, the pitchers arrived and they each grabbed one. They
stood at the same time and Edward leaned over, placing his lips against Bella's
neck and whispered against her skin. "Do you like to be bitten, Bella? Is that w
hy you read vampire books?" His mouth opened then and lightly bit down on her ne
ck.
She nearly dropped the pitcher as her body shivered from the feel of his teeth r
aking along her skin. "Please tell me you aren't going to start biting all the g
irls in the Chicagoland area!" She chided, winded from the reaction he invoked i
n her.
"Only one hot chick," he chuckled as he placed his arm around her and led her to
the table. It sounded like a joke, but it still launched Bella's heart into ove
rdrive.
~GO CUBS~
It wasn't her favorite thing to do take her laptop to a Cubs game but she had to
do it so that she wouldn't have to spend her evening with Chad after the game a
s originally planned. She had called him first thing this morning to try and wor
k around a long drawn out session with him. In the end, it was decided that they
would work on separate parts of the project for the evening and then she would
drop her part off directly after the game and they'd meet early, before class, t
omorrow.
So there Bella sat, in the stands at the Cubs game with her laptop open, taking
all the teasing from her fellow fans around her. She knew a lot of the people ar
ound them by name, well the season ticket holders, anyway. It wasn't the first t
ime she had ever brought her laptop, so they were used to seeing her with it, bu
t the fact that this wasn't just a one-time occurrence made their teasing that m
uch worse. Even Emmett and Rosalie joined in, which resulted in a few choice wor
ds from Bella.
Today, Bella was sitting between Rosalie and Alice, who had decided to use Bella
's extra ticket. Shuffling papers, which kept ending up in Rosalie's space, Bell
a searched for the highlighted information she needed. At least she thought she
had highlighted it. Right now, with the crowd growing louder and Rosalie's inces
sant talk about which players looked sexier in their uniforms Edward was one of
the top three, Bella was having a hard time finding what she needed.
"This is useless!" Bella spat.
Rosalie snorted next to her, her eyes never leaving the mass of stretching men o
n the field. "You're missing Edward stretching with that hunk, Cullen, again. I
swear, the two of them together should be illegal."
"Rose," Emmett cut in, "you've got more man than you'll ever need right here." E
mmett wiggled his eyes in her direction and she snorted again, turning her atten
tion back to the field while Alice snickered.
Bella let her eyes stray from her laptop to get a look at Edward and Carlisle st
retching out. She had never paid much attention to all the stretching before. No
rmally, she was too consumed with talk about the opposing pitchers and how well
or bad the Cubs had done the day before. But Rosalie was correct they were a sig
ht to behold.
"Oh look!" The little pixie sitting next to Bella suddenly became animated as sh
e bounced in her seat. "There's Jazz!" She had binoculars pushed against her eye
s while she watched the three players talk.
Jazz had pitched yesterday, so he was off today. He wore his uniform, like all t
he other Cubs players, but had on a light-weight jacket over it. The three girls
watched as he approached Edward and Carlisle, interrupting their stretching. Th
e guys spoke for a little while and then Edward glanced over in their direction
and Jazz motioned toward them.
"Do you think they'll come and talk to us?" Alice grinned.
Looking down at the crowd of kids that lined the barrier to the field, Bella did
n't think they'd come close because then they'd get stuck signing autographs. Bu
t when she looked back up, she saw Edward staring at her with a smile on his fac
e, his feet bringing him closer to her with each step he made.
"Looks like your man is on his way."
Bella heard Rosalie's words but she was too focused on the man approaching the s
tands to pay her any attention, or correct her phrase of calling Edward, her man
. Placing her laptop on her seat, she made her way past the grinning pixie and d
own into a crowd of young kids and parents. Not wanting to push her way through,
she tried to make eye contact with Edward, who was now signing autographs. You'
re a fool, Bella, he only came over to sign autographs! With pink-tinted cheeks,
Bella turned her body around, embarrassed by her assumption.
A small arm grabbed a hold of her quickly and Bella turned back to look down at
a young boy around the age of 10 with dark freckles on his cheeks and brown hair
styled in a fauxhawk. He had on a Cubs jersey number 13. Edward's number.
"Is your name Bella?" he asked excitedly, his hands clasping a ball and blue Sha
rpie.
"Yes," she responded.
"Edward Masen asked me to get you." The child beamed up at her, happy to do this
small request for his hero.
"Um, okay," she replied as the kid pulled her behind him through the crowd.
As she made her way to the front, behind grunts and inappropriate words from par
ents, Edward looked up at her and smiled, his hands busy signing a young girl's
glove. She watched him talk to another young kid and then sign a picture the boy
had brought to the game.
Bella stood silently, watching Edward as he greeted each person and spoke to the
m first. His smile was always sincere, his eyes making contact with his fans. He
posed for a couple of pictures and Bella swallowed hard as something stirred wi
thin her. Edward had turned out to be the opposite of everything she had thought
him to be.
Even the papers over the past few days had mentioned something to the fact that
he hadn't been caught with any women recently, all of them wondering if he had s
ettled down and was seeing someone seriously. Of course, the Sun Times which was
Bella's Chicago paper of choice had a guess as to who the lucky lady was that h
ad caught his attention and Bella's heart twisted as she realized that the perso
n they thought he was dating was more the type of person he would want Daria Fis
cher, the movie star.
A loud fan, thanking Edward profusely, brought Bella out of her reverie and she
took a deep breath, swallowing another lump in her throat as she caught Edward l
ooking at her out of the corner of his eye. Before she had a moment to blush, he
turned his attention back to the young fan he was returning a signed ball to. J
ust his smile alone melted her, making it near impossible to continue standing t
here, staring at him, so she cleared her throat.
"Why in the world did you bring your laptop to the game, Swan?" He asked while h
e took another ball from a waiting fan and signed it, never once looking in her
direction.
"If you want me to "
"If you want me to hear you, you're going to have to speak louder." He looked up
at her then and winked as he took another item to be signed, briefly asking the
child his name.
"It was either do my work here," she shouted in some poor kid's ear, "or not go
to your little barbeque later."
"So you'll be there?" he asked, his eyes briefly looking up to catch hers as he
handed a boy back his ball.
"Yes, but I may be a few minutes late. I still have to stop over at Chad's to gi
ve him what I've got done."
"Chad?" he asked.
Of course he knew who Chad was, didn't he? She had only mentioned him a billion
times. Or hadn't she? Maybe she had never mentioned him by name before. Before s
he could explain to him who Chad was, Bella was elbowed in the stomach by an ove
rly-eager mom who was pushing her way through the crowd so her son whom she was
dragging behind could get Edward's autograph.
"Look, I'll let you get back to all of this," she gestured toward the waiting cr
owd, specifically the woman who had just assaulted her. "Text me your address af
ter the game, or none of us will be there," she smirked.
"I'll see you later," he said, taking a moment to let his eyes peer deeply into
hers, and then he glanced over to the next waiting fan, grabbed their item, and
briefly asked their name.
"What did he want?" Alice asked as Bella sat back down.
"He was just being a prick like everyone else," she replied, rolling her eyes at
the obnoxious look she got from Rosalie. "He wanted to know why I had my laptop
at the game."
"Hey, did you get me an autograph?" Emmett asked and then raised his beer to his
lips.
"Emmett, if you want a stupid autograph, ask him yourself!"
"I don't want him to think that that's all I want from him. Jazz gave me one, bu
t he's easier to talk to." He pouted and Bella held back a giggle.
"I bet if you ask nicely, he'll even sign your chest!"
"Way to step over the line, Bells. That's gross."
"To some," she said thoughtfully before focusing back on her laptop. She only ha
d a two hour life on her battery so she had to work fast.
By time the seventh inning stretch rolled around, Bella had closed her laptop an
d was downing her second beer as she sang along to the words of 'Take Me out to
the Ball Game'. Rosalie was talking smack with some guy behind them and Alice wa
s peering through her binoculars, trying to spot Jazz in the Cubs' dugout.
Suddenly, Bella's phone went off and she looked to see a new text message from E
dward with his address on it. Actually, it wasn't exactly an address, but a name
of a building and suite number.
Lake Point Towers suite 6407.
"Shit," Bella whispered.
"Did you just curse, Isabella?"
Looking up, Bella's eyes locked onto Emmett's and she giggled. "Do you know wher
e Mr. Baseball lives?"
"No, but I bet you're dying to tell me."
"Lake Point Towers! F , I mean," she stuttered when Emmett cleared his throat, cat
ching her from saying something even she detested to hear. "Who lives at Lake Po
int Towers? This guy's ridiculous!"
Rumor was that a certain Chicago talk show host lived there, but Bella was sure
that she didn't. She had read somewhere that it was definitely just a rumor and
that she lived in the Hancock building. But then again, they could both be rumor
s. Regardless, Lake Point Towers was supposed to be an amazing place to live. It
was its own city, really. It had a grocery store, hair salon, fitness center, p
rivate park located on the top of part of the building three stories high, indoo
r and outdoor pools, tailor, laundry room, and business center. There was no rea
son to leave the building if you didn't need to.
As nervous as Bella felt over the fact that Edward lived in Lake Point Towers, s
he was suddenly excited. She had heard amazing things about the views from the c
ondos. They all had huge windows revealing panoramic views of the city, and she
secretly hoped his condo faced the lake and Navy Pier.
Emmett chuckled at Bella and Rosalie turned to look at her. "Are you serious? Ma
ybe we'll get to go to that park I heard about. It's supposed to be amazing!"
"It's a little too cold to swim," Bella moaned, turning her head to look at Alic
e who had totally missed the whole conversation. For all Bella knew, Alice was a
lready aware of where they were spending their evening.
For the remainder of the game, Rosalie and Alice spoke over Bella, discussing wh
ich look was better: the baseball pants worn all the way down at the player's an
kles, or pulled up to their knees, revealing the colored socks underneath? And t
hen there were the players that wore their pant legs pulled up part way . . . Be
lla was sick of listening to them ramble about inconsequential things, so she tr
aded places with Rosalie, happy to sit next to Emmett, whom was overly eager to
talk about real baseball not uniforms.
After the game, Bella high-tailed it out of the park and hurriedly made her way
over to Chad's apartment. He wasn't far from the park, but due to the traffic, i
t took her longer than she anticipated getting there. He opened the door right a
fter Bella knocked, ushering her in and the two of them got right down to busine
ss as the sounds of The Cure echoed in the background.
A few minutes after Bella had arrived, a stout man, not much taller than Bella,
walked into the living room. "Hey, Chad, I'm heading out."
"Okay Brian," he said casually and then righted himself. "Oh, this is Bella from
class, the girl I told you about. Bella, this is my roommate, Brian."
Bella looked over to the bearded man, wondering why Chad would talk to his roomm
ate about her, and noticed he wasn't dressed to go out on the town, but rather t
o work. "Hey Brian," she breathed out, suddenly nervous about the way he looked
at her.
"Nice to meet you, Bella," he smiled sincerely. "I'll be home later than normal,
" he muttered briefly to Chad and then he walked out, his head looking back for
another view of Bella right before he closed the door.
"That was strange," Bella mumbled, turning back to her laptop as she connected t
o Chad's wireless network to upload her files to his computer and download his f
iles to hers.
The process took all of ten minutes between the time she entered Chad's apartmen
t and the time she was saying goodbye and running back out his door. Quick and p
ainless, just how she liked it maybe working with a partner wasn't so bad after
all.
~GO CUBS~
"Hey Emmett, Rosalie," Edward greeted as he let his two new friends into his con
do. He watched in amusement as the two of them walked over to the large pictures
que windows with a full view of Navy Pier, Lake Michigan, Millennium Park, and G
rant Park. It took him a year and a half to wait for one of the 07 Presidential
suites to go up for sale in Lake Point Towers, but it was well worth it. It was
undoubtedly the best view the building had to offer.
"I think I'd get sick if I look straight down," Rosalie said wearily as she appr
oached the windows where Alice and Emmett were standing as close as possible to.
"It's not that bad," Edward called over to her as he grabbed a couple of beers o
ut of the fridge for her and Emmett.
"Who else is coming?" Alice asked and Edward smiled over to her. Getting to know
Bella had softened his heart for the little spike-haired girl who had captured
Jazz's heart. He knew that Jazz was serious about her and now that he could see
that Bella was right and Alice was committed to Jazz as well, he was able to ope
n up to her more.
"Peter and his wife, Charlotte, were supposed to come, but their daughter got si
ck, so they've backed out. Esme and Carlisle were going to come, but he cancelle
d earlier this morning. Something about wanting to spend alone time with her," h
e said suggestively and she smiled.
"So it's just us then?"
"Yeah," he replied shrugging his shoulders. "Once Bella gets here, we can head d
own to the park."
"I love this building," Emmett said softly as his eyes travelled over the walls
and round, white pillars. "What?" Emmett asked, feeling self conscious from the
look of shock in Edward's stare.
"I just never thought you were the type to appreciate this," he said as his arms
gestured around the room, "type of thing."
"Did Bella ever tell you what I do for a living?" He asked as a dimple started t
o form on his right cheek.
"No." Edward's hand combed through his hair unconsciously as he thought back to
their conversations. He didn't remember her saying what he did.
"Don't play with him, Em," Rosalie bit out. "He's an architect thinks he's God's
gift to the profession, too."
"I'm a damn good architect," Emmett pouted.
They were all interrupted by a small knock on the door. Edward wanted to run and
answer it, but Jazz was closer and made his way off the couch and in front of E
dward. Pushing Jazz out of the way would look a bit suspicious, Edward figured,
and instead returned to the kitchen to get everything ready to bring down to the
park for the grill.
Edward had come to a conclusion after his mess up in St. Louis. He was going to
court Bella, but not openly. He needed to get her to trust him first and that wa
s going to be hard. Deciding that he had to be totally up-front and honest with
her, he had already told her about his mistake. Feeling like it had been a disas
ter, he was now more frightened about telling her about Jane.
And now, with Bella walking into his condo, he couldn't control his speeding hea
rt or the immediate sweat that rushed through his body. Other than friends, he h
ad never had a woman in his apartment. She is just a friend, moron.
"Hi everyone," Bella's small voice called out and Edward swallowed hard as he tu
rned toward her.
"Hey." He tried to make it come out casual, but his voice betrayed him and she l
ooked questioningly into his eyes wondering what was wrong.
"Bella! Come look at this view!"
Alice pulled Bella over to the windows and Edward watched her eyes light up as s
he approached and took in the view. It was a view Edward looked at every day and
had, in time, started to take for granted. Now seeing Bella react to the beauty
that sat outside his windows, he walked over to take a closer look himself. It
had been a long time since he stood and stared down at Navy Pier and the lake be
low.
"It's beautiful," she whispered as she lifted her gaze to meet his.
Not as beautiful as you. He couldn't say those words to her. They were too sappy
, too lame. But they were true. Bella seemed to become more beautiful the more h
e got to know her.
"We ready to head down to the park?" Emmett asked from Edward's other side.
~GO CUBS~
The burgers and brats were almost done. Edward stood at the grill in the middle
of the park located on top of part of Lake Point Towers. It was 2.5 acres of exq
uisite landscaping: an outdoor pool, grills, walking paths, water fall, and tons
of foliage. There were even some places where you actually couldn't tell that y
ou were standing in the middle of a big city. This place was an oasis, a perfect
, beautiful haven in the middle of chaos and noise.
It was hard for Edward to watch Bella with Emmett. They played so freely togethe
r. Bella was currently jumping on Emmett's back, getting a piggy-back ride while
the bear of a man ran as fast as he could before purposefully falling over, ban
ging Bella to the ground. The giggles that pervaded Edward's mind saddened him.
Those should be his giggles, not Emmett's.
"They're very close," Rosalie said from Edward's side as she watched the pair ro
ll around in the grass together. Emmett had turned to torturing Bella with tickl
es.
"And you're okay with it?" He paused after placing the cheese on top of the burg
ers.
"There's nothing but friendship there. They've known each other since they were
in diapers." She laughed a little at their display and then turned her eyes back
to Edward. "Once you accept their friendship, it's easier." With those last wor
ds, she rested her hand on Edward's forearm, squeezed it gently while giving him
a friendly smile, and then walked away, approaching the two good friends who we
re both squealing loudly.
The thought that Rosalie was encouraging him to pursue Bella soared within him.
If her friends were on his side, then it should be easier to show her who he rea
lly was. Looking up from the brats he had just turned for the last time, Edward
caught Bella in a secluded area behind a bush, talking on her cell phone. She wa
s smiling brightly and laughing and his heart, which had been soaring only momen
ts before, halted. Who put that smile on her face? Who made her laugh that way?
Turning his eyes back to the meat on the grill, Edward scowled, berating himself
for getting so caught up with this girl. Ever since he had decided he wanted he
r, his emotions had been on a roller coaster. Every time he turned his head, he
felt as if his future were changing, right before his very eyes.
"Anything I can do to help?"
The soft, silky voice of Bella caught Edward off guard and he almost dropped a b
rat to the ground as he transferred it over to a tray. "No, I think I'm good her
e."
"Thank you for having us over," she said sweetly and he smiled down to her, noti
cing that her arms were crossed over her chest. She was wearing a white fitted t
-shirt with light blue three-quarter sleeves and light blue jeans.
"Are you cold?"
"I'll be okay," she shrugged. "It seems to have cooled off since the game."
"Here," Edward said as he put down his spatula and took off his navy blue North
Face fleece jacket. "Take this."
"I'm fine," she insisted, but he didn't listen to her.
After placing his jacket over Bella's shoulders, he continued to remove the burg
ers and brats from the grill. His eyes kept peering out the corner, trying to gl
impse her reaction to wearing his jacket and he finally relaxed when he noticed
she had placed her arms through the arm holes and zipped it up.
"If a guy friend asks a female friend out to dinner, does that make it a date?"
She asked out of the blue and he froze.
"That would depend," he stammered, wondering where she was going with this. "Has
this guy shown any interest in the girl, other than friendship?"
"I don't know," she replied, her fingers playing with the zipper of the jacket,
pulling it up and back down, over and over again. Was she nervous? He wondered.
"Did one of your friends ask you out to dinner?" He asked reluctantly, wondering
if that was what her phone call was about earlier.
"Jake just called me. He wants to go out to dinner on Friday, which is fine, but
I'm not sure how I should take it."
"Do you want it to be a date?" Please say no.
"Not really," she sighed. "I just thought I would feel something if there was an
ything more there. You know?"
"I thought you didn't believe in sparks and butterflies," he smirked, rememberin
g the first night they'd met.
"I was thinking more like passion," she whispered, not wanting to meet his eyes
as a light blush rose in her cheeks.
"If you don't feel anything for him other than friendship, then it's not a date,
" he stated.
"But what if he thinks it's a date?" She asked almost hysterically. "I don't wan
t to lead him on, yet I don't want to assume either." She looked up and then sno
rted. "Maybe Harry was right."
Who the heck is Harry?
"Hey guys," Alice interrupted. "It's getting cold out here, can we eat inside?"
"Um, sure, Alice," Edward replied, his eyes regretfully leaving Bella's to look
at the other woman. "Why don't you round up Emmett and Rosalie and then we'll al
l head on up."
The table in Edward's condo was small, so they all sat in the living room surrou
nding the coffee table. Once everyone had finished and the dishes were cleaned u
p compliments of Bella, Rosalie, and Alice, everyone sat back down in the living
room and talked. Sitting directly opposite of Bella who sat curled up on the fl
oor, Edward watched her carefully. Other than the five minutes of conversation t
hat they shared outside, they hadn't had any alone time.
Laughing loudly, Emmett said, "Jazz told us you get a lot of interesting fan mai
l, Edward." Emmett had definitely had his share of the beer that only hours ago
filled Edward's fridge.
"Some," he said cautiously, immediately frightened by what Jazz may have told Em
mett.
"Come on, Masen," Jazz laughed. "I know I get my fair share of panties and nudes
, but you sure do take the cake."
"Panties and nudes?" Bella asked, her eyes scanning the circle of faces around h
er as a small blush tinted her cheeks.
"Nude photos," Jazz clarified. "Some of them are horrible, but some . . ." he tr
ailed off as Alice playfully hit him on the shoulder. Leaning over, he covered h
er in a bear hug and kissed her firmly on the mouth.
"Can I see your stash?" Emmett asked excitedly.
"I don't keep a stash," Edward said irritated, his eyes trailing over to watch B
ella's reaction.
"I for one," Bella finally spoke up, "would like to see the stash of panties. I'
m always looking for some cute ones." She winked playfully at Rosalie.
"I don't keep the pictures or the panties," Edward pleaded with them, his hands
rising in the air in submission. But Bella wanted to see the panties and he now
had visions of her wearing them and only them black lace, red silk, crotchless,
vibrating, edible yeah, he could totally picture Bella in them.
"Or the banana hammocks," Jazz laughed.
"I'm not the only one who gets those either," Edward said pointedly to the hands
ome pitcher and Emmett roared with laughter.
"Did you get anything recently?" Emmett asked, trying hard to keep a straight fa
ce.
"What?"
"Nothing sexy arrived recently? It would have been a big package," Emmett hinted
, his eyes wiggling suggestively toward Edward.
Edward's eyes narrowed as he glared at Emmett and then he turned his stare to Ja
zz who was trying hard to keep a straight face but couldn't. Rosalie had a knowi
ng smirk on her face, as did Alice. And Bella looked just as confused as he felt
. Well, he wasn't as confused as her he suddenly knew exactly what Emmett was ta
lking about.
"That was you?" He laughed, shaking his head in shame.
Emmett's head nodded as he laughed along with everyone else, except for Bella. H
er head cocked to the side as the skin between her eyebrows puckered. "Would som
eone like to let me in on the little secret?"
"Your jackass friend sent me an enormous banana hammock, as he'd call it, drench
ed in God-awful cologne." Edward shook from laughter and then turned to Emmett.
"That was the scariest thing I've ever received!"
"Scarier than the pocket pussy?" Jazz cut in.
"Oh God," Edward moaned, burrowing his head in his hands. "That was pretty sick.
"
When he looked up at Bella, he noticed that she wasn't finding as much humor in
the twisted gifts he sometimes received. Yes, he had received some odd things, b
ut normally his fan mail was full of cute letters from young kids. "How about I
show you all the fan mail I do keep," he said and then he retreated to his offic
e and came back out with a stack of opened letters, handing a few to everyone ar
ound the table.
Edward watched as Alice and Rosalie dug right into the letters and started readi
ng them right away. Emmett sat frowning with the unopened letters in his hand, h
is eyes lingering on Bella, who Edward finally realized was upset. Worried, he f
rantically thought about all the letters he had saved. No, he had never saved an
y from grown women even the hot ones. He never kept those letters. Even the dirt
y, nasty ones he threw them all away. All she could be holding in her hands were
letters from young kids.
Suddenly, Emmett was at Bella's side, his arm wrapped around her shoulders as he
whispered in her ear. A tear fell down Bella's cheek and Edward's heart broke.
What had he done?
"Is everything okay?" He asked, standing up from the couch.
All eyes were on Bella and as soon as she realized, she bolted to the bathroom,
Emmett at her heels. Alice and Jazz made their exit at that time after cleaning
up the empty bottles scattered across the living room. When saying goodbye to th
em, Alice pulled Edward into a tight hug and whispered into his ear.
"Talk to her about it," she said softly before kissing his cheek, and then she w
as gone.
The room was charged with unease as Rosalie and Edward stood apart from one anot
her, neither of them sure of what to say. Emmett was in the bathroom with Bella
and that fact wounded Edward's pride. He desperately wanted to be the go-to guy
in Bella's life, yet here she was receiving comfort from Emmett. It didn't get a
ny worse than that. On top of it, he had no idea as to what he had done.
"Here," Rosalie interrupted his thoughts, handing Edward the stack of fan mail b
ack to him.
"Thanks," he muttered. "Do you know what's going on?"
"Just be patient with her. I'm sure she'd rather you be in there right now," she
said uneasily and Edward wondered if she was hurt by Emmett comforting Bella as
much as he was.
"I just wish I knew what I did wrong."
"It's nothing you did. Has Bella talked to you about her parents?"
"A little," he whispered as he sat back down on the sofa.
"It seems that maybe she hasn't gotten around to telling you everything. When sh
e does," she looked pointedly at him, "this will all make sense."
"Does this happen a lot?"
"No. Actually, I've only seen her upset on the anniversary of their deaths. Neve
r out of the blue like this, but . . . never mind, I've said too much already."
Just then the bathroom door opened and Emmett walked out. "I'm going to get the
car. Can you get Bella down stairs?" he asked Rosalie.
"Sure," she said, walking toward the bathroom.
"Is she okay?" Edward asked as Emmett started to walk out.
"Yeah. She's a little embarrassed right now, that's all," he replied and then di
sappeared down the hall.
The bathroom door opened again and Edward watched as Rosalie walked with Bella t
oward the living room. She kept her head down, her eyes averting his. "I'll give
you two a moment," Rosalie said uncertainly. "I'll be in the hall, Bella."
"I'm sorry," Bella squeaked out, raising her head to look at him.
"Bella," he said tenderly, his arms reaching out to bring her to him, enveloping
her in a tight hug and she shuddered against him, crying into his shirt. "Sh,"
he whispered into her hair before kissing the top of her head.
"I had a really good time." Pulling away, but remaining in his arms, she looked
up and gave him her best smile she could muster.
"I could bring you home if you want to stay and talk." Please stay with me.
"No, I should go. Emmett and Rose are waiting for me." Her hands wiped unconscio
usly against her cheeks, removing her wet tears.
"Are we still on for lunch tomorrow?"
"That's right!" She said cheerfully, a genuine smile finally gracing her face. "
I'm actually leaving work early. Well, not really. I'm going into the office ear
ly and then coming home at lunch time to work from home. I have to meet up with
Chad before class since we didn't get a chance to go over anything today."
"Is that a yes or a no?" He chuckled, happy to see her eyes light up again.
"Definitely," she stated and he was happy to have his Bella back. "We can do som
ething around my place, if that's okay?"
"Sure," he replied, his mind already planning out what he would love to do with
her tomorrow afternoon. "Would eleven be too soon?"
"Umm," she hesitated. "No, it'll be fine. I'll just run into the office and give
my boss the tickets to tomorrow's game and then escape before anyone catches me
. I should be back by then."
"Great. It's a date then."
When her eyes grew big, he realized his mistake. Jake had just asked her to dinn
er for Friday night and she didn't know how to take it, and now he just told her
that their lunch date was a date. He wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed. Yet
at the same time, he was glad for the slip up. She didn't correct him or look up
set. She looked shocked. Was it a good shock, or a bad shock?
"Take that however you'd like to, Bella," he whispered against her head as he pu
lled her in for one last hug. And with that, he ushered her to the door and then
leaned down and planted a kiss on her cheek. "I'll see you tomorrow."
Chapter 11 May 4, 2009
Answering her cell phone for the third time this morning, Bella tried to whisper
so that no one on the El would hear her. "I know why you're calling."
"How are you doing with all of this?" Emmett was only concerned for her and she
knew that, but it didn't mean she wanted to talk about it, especially while she
was on the train.
"Alice and Rose have already called," she moaned, still keeping her voice down a
s much as she could.
"Did you have any heads-up that this was going to happen?"
"No." She looked around nervously, making sure that no one was paying any attent
ion to her. When her eyes fell on the object that was causing the problem held i
n some stranger's hands, Bella leaned forward, letting her hair fall around her
face, shielding her from view. "I don't understand. Some of the pictures are fro
m over a week ago. Why wait until now?"
"Maybe they didn't know who you were," Emmett suggested.
"Maybe," she echoed, pondering what that meant. How did they figure out who she
was? "Just yesterday the Sun Times was saying that he was dating Daria Fischer a
nd now, one day later, they do a complete one-eighty and he's seeing some nobody
from Lincoln Park?" She let her breath out quickly. "Did any other papers repor
t this?"
"No, I've got the Trib right in front of me and there's nothing about it."
"Luckily the Sun-Times Media Group doesn't own any other major US Newspapers!" s
he bit into the phone.
"Yeah, but that doesn't matter. Soon this will be on TV."
Bella groaned. "Do you have to rub that in?"
"It won't be that bad," he comforted her. "Just smile and deny everything."
"Of course I'll deny it, Emmett! It's not true!"
"You know its okay if it is, right?"
"It doesn't matter because we're only friends! We're not dating!"
"Well these pictures are kind of, well, he's kissing you in a couple of them, Be
lls."
"I know," she groaned.
"It's going to be hard to explain these pictures from the friend angle."
"I said, I KNOW!" Her words came out a little too loud causing a few people arou
nd her to look in her direction she slunk her head further down.
"Has he called you yet?"
"No," she muttered, not sure if she even wanted to talk to Edward at the moment.
"We're meeting up for lunch later. I'll talk to him then."
"What did Rose and Alice have to say?"
"You probably already know what Rose told me," she sighed. "And Alice . . . well
, you know Alice. She always sees the bright side of everything.
"What's the bright side, Bella?"
"I think her and Rose have some notion that Edward and I are meant to be. You kn
ow, when all the planets align, stars shoot across the sky, and fireworks explod
e in the distance. Earth shattering stuff," she said sardonically. "Listen, I've
got to get going, Em. Can I call you later?"
"Sure, you have class tonight, right?"
"Yeah, Marcus is buying both my tickets."
"Cool. Call me after your class."
If the phone calls weren't enough this morning, Bella still had to walk into her
office and face everyone there especially Jessica. Who the heck cared about her
anyways? So what if Bella and Edward were dating? It wasn't true, but Bella kne
w that Jessica wouldn't believe that.
Keep your head down . . . keep your head down . . . keep your head down . . . "U
h, good morning Jessica," Bella said sweetly as she walked right into the recept
ionist.
"I know you lied to me." Jessica accused, not wasting any time.
"Don't believe everything you read," Bella hissed over her shoulder as she moved
her feet faster, ducking under the line of cubes she walked down the middle of.
Reaching her desk, Bella sank into her chair and hunched forward, hiding herself
from any nosy passers-by. She pulled out this morning's copy of the Sun Times a
nd laid it on top of her desk with the sports page on top.
'Cubs Playboy Tamed by Girl Next Door' was written in huge letters across the to
p. At least the title of the article wasn't too bad it didn't hint at any malice
on the author's part. The horrible parts were the eye witness accounts and accu
sations that Edward and Bella couldn't keep their hands off each other in public
.
The worst part though was that they kept referring to her as Bella. When they in
itially identified her, they gave her full name: Isabella Swan, but after that,
it was all Bella. They had to have spoken to someone who knew her in some way. O
therwise, wouldn't they have just continued to call her Isabella?
"Dang, Bella," Angela whispered behind her and Bella nearly jumped out of her ch
air.
"Keep your voice down," Bella hissed, ignoring the fact that Angela was already
trying to keep it quiet.
"Some of those pictures are pretty hot," Angela laughed. "I can't believe you di
dn't tell me that he kissed you."
"It was nothing. We really are just friends," Bella said wearily. "You believe m
e, right?"
"Yes," Angela sighed. "But no one else will. Look at these things," she suggeste
d, turning a few pages to find a full-page spread of pictures of Edward and Bell
a. "There are two pictures of you two making out, one where it looks like you're
feeding him desert, and three more where the two of you are giving each other g
oo-goo eyes."
"We don't give each other goo-goo eyes," Bella bit at her friend. "At least the
one on the cover was innocent enough," Bella huffed. The cover of the sports pag
e was a picture from yesterday's game where Bella had gone down to talk to Edwar
d while he signed autographs for the kids. The photographer must've been waiting
for just the right moment because Edward had barely made eye contact with Bella
during that time, but the picture had Edward looking up at her with his famous
crooked smile plastered on his face.
"Hey Bella," Greg from the mail room called out as he approached her cube and Be
lla immediately covered the Sun Times with her bag, hiding the pictures from his
view.
"Good morning, Greg," she smiled.
"Do you think you could get Edward to autograph a ball for me?" He asked expecta
ntly.
"No!" She shrieked, a little too loudly, and then turned her head away, ignoring
the now confused man.
Burrowing her head into her hands, Bella curved over into her lap as she listene
d to Angela politely tell Greg to take a hike. "Aren't you working from home tod
ay?" Angela asked once Greg had walked away.
"Yeah, why?"
"Because you probably should leave soon if you are. Nick and the guys are over i
n the copy room right now talking about you and Edward." Nick was the resident C
ubs guru even more so than Bella. The two of them got along great, but she wasn'
t sure how he would take the rumor that she was linked with Edward. Heck, she ha
dn't even told him that she knew Edward for the fact that he would probably reac
t just as Greg had, expecting autographs or something.
"Let me just drop these off with Marcus," Bella sighed and then stood up with th
e two tickets for tonight's game clasped in her hand.
~GO CUBS~
It was a quiet morning for Edward. After waking up and eating a quick breakfast,
he went into his third bedroom and sat down at the baby grand. It had been a wh
ile since he had the time to relax and compose. Normally, he didn't bother tryin
g during the season but, since meeting Bella, he had found new inspiration and h
e didn't want to lose the song playing in his head. Actually, there were two son
gs now and he was afraid they'd get jumbled up in his brain if he didn't sit dow
n and get them out on paper.
A couple times during the morning, Edward's phone rang but he didn't bother to a
nswer. He was in a zone and didn't want to be interrupted. Concentrating on only
one song this morning, he was able to get the first part down on the music shee
ts before him. Eventually, he would get it into the sheet music program on his c
omputer but in the beginning he preferred to work with paper.
On his way out the door, Edward finally checked his missed calls and noticed it
was both Jazz and his mom who had called. His mom left him a voicemail asking wh
en he was going to bring Bella by to meet her and his dad. Confused, Edward look
ed at the one text message he received from Jazz.
Have you read the Sun Times this morning?
His heart dropped. Between the two messages, he had a very good idea about what
he would find in the Sun Times. Unfortunately, he didn't subscribe to either of
the Chicago papers. He read them in the club house between batting practice and
stretching.
Since he hadn't heard from Bella yet this morning, he could only assume she hadn
't read the paper either, but that didn't make any sense. She would have come in
to contact with someone who had read it on her way into the office or even on he
r way back.
At first he was going to stop on the way to Bella's and pick up a newspaper, but
he decided to just go straight there. If she didn't already have one at her pla
ce, then they could pick one up together. His stomach rumbled with unease over w
hat her reaction would be. He didn't know what all was said, or what pictures th
ere could actually be of them together, but he was sure that Bella wouldn't be h
appy.
"Come in!" Bella called out after Edward knocked on her door.
Stepping into the house, he called out her name, not sure where she was. "Bella?
"
"In the kitchen."
When he crossed into the kitchen he saw her sitting at the table reading the new
spaper. "Is that the Sun Times?" He asked anxiously.
"Yup," she replied, popping the 'P'.
"Anything interesting?" He sat down in the chair next to her and leaned over to
see what she was reading an article about President Obama.
"Yup," she replied again in the same fashion. She still hadn't looked at him.
"Okay, I haven't read the paper, but my mom called asking when I was going to br
ing you home to meet her and my dad."
That got her attention. Her head shot up and she glared at him. "You think this
is funny?"
"Bella," he sighed. "I haven't even seen the pictures or read the article. It ca
n't be that bad. I mean, we've never done anything wrong and we're only friends.
There can't be anything that incriminating."
"It's not bad," she huffed, "it's just that I couldn't even walk into my own off
ice without being accosted by Jessica. Then the boys were meeting privately in t
he copy room, and Marcus treated me extra nice which wasn't a bad thing and you
should've seen all the looks I got on the El. People were literally sitting next
to me on the train looking at pictures of me and then looking up at me."
"I'm sorry," Edward said softly. "I didn't think . . ."
"I'm not mad at you," she said, deflated. "I'm just frustrated. I keep wondering
what my dad would say if he saw this. He must be turning over in his grave righ
t now." Rubbing her hand over her eyes, Bella sighed loudly and then looked back
up at Edward and smiled. "So, where are we going for lunch today?"
"You still want to be seen in public with me?"
"Here," she said as she pushed the paper over to him, turning it over to the fro
nt of the sports page.
"What's wrong with this picture?" he asked while looking at the one of him and h
er at the game yesterday.
"Nothing, if you ask me. But apparently, we're making, what Angela would call, '
goo-goo eyes' at each other," she smirked.
"I'll remember to wear my sun glasses while signing autographs next time," he qu
ipped and she smiled.
"Turn a couple of pages. The good pictures are inside."
After turning to the correct page, Edward's jaw dropped from what he saw. It was
obvious that the pictures were all taken by cell phones. There had been other p
ictures of him and various women over the past couple of years to surface and al
l of them had been taken with cell phones too. Why hadn't he remembered to be ca
reful?
"This is entirely my fault. I should've been more careful."
"I should've been too," she said sadly. "Listen. I was mad this morning pissed.
But there's nothing we can do about it. We can deny the rumor up and down, until
we're blue in the face, but no one is going to believe that we're just friends.
Not when there are pictures of us kissing." Bella looked down after she spoke,
her face tinted pink from her blush.
"Are you okay with that?" Edward swallowed hard as he looked at her, wondering h
ow she felt about people thinking they were a couple.
"I'm not going to confirm it," she said shakily, "but I'll live." Just as she fi
nished talking, her cell phone went off. Looking at who was calling, she groaned
silently and then answered, apologizing to Edward with her eyes and mouthing th
e word, 'work'.
Edward read the article about him and Bella as she spoke on her phone. There was
n't anything mentioned that was wrong, except for the assumption that they were
dating. The pictures were all of the two of them no manipulation done that he co
uld tell. The one that he wasn't prepared to see was of Bella holding up the pie
ce of cheesecake to his mouth. It was such an innocent gesture, yet in the snaps
hot in front of him, it did look intimate.
"Thank God Alice and I don't have a home phone," Bella stated, drawing Edward fr
om the article.
"Is everything okay?"
"My office phone has been ringing off-the-hook. My boss finally answered it to b
e accosted by the Tribune!" She exclaimed, shaking her head and then she snorted
. "All these years I've complained about the fact that my cell phone is under on
e of Emmett's friend's names. I never thought I'd live to be glad for the screw-
up!"
"Your phone bill goes to one of Emmett's friends?" he chuckled.
"No, one of Emmett's friends from work's wife," she paused to look at him. "Stay
with me here," she chuckled and then reiterated. "His friend's wife works for S
print and each employee can give their employee phone plan to a certain number o
f friends or family. They don't know many people in the area, so Emmett and I go
t the plan, but it's all under her name. I get the bill and I'm responsible to p
ay it," she narrowed her eyes at him, playfully challenging him to tease her mor
e. "But if you try to find my phone number, it's not under my name. It's been fr
ustrating, but I've never been so happy about it until now oh, and I get unlimit
ed everything for really cheap."
"It amazes me how you can go from pissed to happy in such a short time," he muse
d.
"Come on, Masen. I don't have all day. What do you have in mind for lunch?"
"First, you need a jacket. I don't think it's going to rain, but it's pretty clo
udy out and there's a chill in the air."
Once outside, Bella started walking to Edward's car, but he put his arm around h
er waist, pulling her over to the sidewalk with him. "Where are we going?" She a
sked and he just pointed down her street. "Are we taking the El?" She tried, hop
ing to get some information from him. When he didn't respond, she gave in and en
joyed their silent walk, her mind drifting to thoughts about the pictures in the
paper this morning.
"That's it!" She exclaimed some time later.
"What's it?"
"It's been bothering me all morning. Yesterday, the Sun Times said that you were
dating Daria Fischer . . ."
"Daria Fischer?" Edward asked in shock. "Why would they think that?"
"I don't know," Bella replied. "But yesterday, when I went over to Chad's apartm
ent, his roommate looked at me weird. Emmett thinks that the media has had some
of these pictures for a while, but didn't know who I was."
"So, what does Chad's roommate have to do with any of this?" Edward asked, confu
sed.
"I guess I didn't tell you," she replied sheepishly. "I never told anything to C
had, Edward, I swear. But his roommate works for the Sun Times. I don't know exa
ctly what he does, but when I got to their place yesterday, he was getting ready
to go into work and he looked at me funny. He even took a second glance before
he left."
Bella hadn't realized it at the time, but subconsciously, she was freaked out by
Brian. Even now, thinking about him and the way he looked at her, she had cross
ed her arms over her chest, hugging herself tightly. Edward noticed and gripped
his arm tighter around her waist.
"Did he say anything to you?"
"No. But all morning, I couldn't figure out how the paper knew to call me, Bella
. They had to have talked to someone who knew me. I think Brian had seen the pic
tures before last night and knew they were trying to figure out who I was. When
he saw me, I think he recognized me."
"What are you going to do?"
"There's nothing I can do," she said, pulling away from Edward's arm and looking
up at him. "But he will get a piece of my mind."
"What did you tell Chad about us?"
"Nothing. He doesn't even know that we know each other. Although," she said, thi
nking back to the day he was over at her apartment, "he may have caught on." Bel
la told Edward about the day he was over at her apartment and everything that ha
d happened.
"So he was there the day I won the bet?"
"Yeah, and I couldn't tell anyone else about it because I didn't want him to kno
w anything. Alice is still confused about why I was mad that you hit a home run!
"
Edward laughed and Bella looked at the man next to her, admiring the way his clo
thes sat perfectly on his body. "What?" Edward asked, noticing her perusing eyes
.
"Nothing," she said with a slight blush.
Edward looked down at his clothes, wondering what was wrong with what he was wea
ring. He had on dark jeans with a white button down shirt and a grey v-neck cash
mere sweater over it. He matched, he thought. Maybe he had food on his shirt? As
he thought through what could be wrong, Bella laughed.
"What now?"
"There's nothing wrong with your clothes. I was just admiring them." She blushed
again and Edward's heart skipped a beat. Had she been checking him out? Could B
ella have feelings for him too? Or maybe she did just like his outfit. But that
didn't make any sense because she wasn't into clothes like Alice or Rosalie. He
was sure that a guy she was interested in could wear a ratty pair of sweats and
a torn t-shirt and he would still turn her head.
"So," Bella said, bringing him out of his reverie. "Do you have any more informa
tion about the charity event you'll be dragging me off to?"
"Yes, actually, I just talked to Garrett the other day. It seems that this year,
they are doing a murder mystery dinner."
"A what?"
Edward chuckled. "They're going to have all the players who volunteer and some o
f the wives act out a murder mystery and then people will have to try and guess
who the murderer is."
"Can anyone go?"
"Yeah, I think tickets go on sale next week, why?"
"Emmett and Rosalie would love that!" She giggled.
"There'll be a silent auction too. I think he said I have to take a chair and de
corate it and add stuff to it."
"Oh, I've heard of that."
"Good because I have no clue what to do."
"Well, the whole idea especially since you are celebrities is to decorate a chai
r and let it have meaning to who you are. Like . . . um . . . Oh! I got it. You
could get a piano bench and put CD's of your favorite composer in it along with
some sheet music that you like to play and a certificate for a year of free pian
o lessons somewhere here in the city. Then you can add the normal things, like o
ne of your jerseys, an autographed baseball, your rookie card, that kind of stuf
f."
"That's a great idea!" Edward stared at the woman next to him, amazed that she a
ctually saw the real him. Most people never took the time to get to know him any
more not that he gave women a chance to now-a-days, but it still made his heart
swell to know that she saw more in him than just baseball; especially since she
knew his stats better than he did.
"Hey!" Bella cut in, as she finally paid attention to where they were headed. "A
re we going to the zoo?"
"Yeah," he said sheepishly. "I thought it would be fun since it's a nice day out
."
"I haven't been in so long! I used to come a lot," she said wistfully. "Alice an
d I would eat lunch here on Saturdays. I'd bring a book to read," she trailed of
f, noticing the sarcastic smirk on his face. "Leave my books alone!"
"Don't let me leave without getting the next two," he said, holding back a laugh
as they entered the zoo. "What would you like to do first? We can walk around a
little before eating or we can just eat now."
"Let's walk around a bit."
It had been years since Edward had been to the zoo as well. When she told him th
at she'd be home for lunch, he knew right away that he wanted to bring her here,
it was a perfect date, though she didn't need to know that's what he had classi
fied their time together as.
"Bella?" He asked as they stared at the tall giraffes eating leaves from a baske
t high up on a stand.
"Hmm?" She turned her gaze to look at him and he instantly relaxed.
"Can I ask you about yesterday?"
"Yeah," she blushed, her eyes retreating from his to search out the giraffes onc
e more. "I'm so sorry about that. I really would like to read some of your fan m
ail." Her eyes glanced over to him again. "Let's get something to eat and we can
talk."
Bella made sure she was able to pay this time as they ordered their food from th
e concession stand. Instead of eating at one of the picnic tables, they decided
to find a place in the grass by the pond.
"The fan letters were all from young kids," Edward said apprehensively after he
swallowed a bite of his hot dog. "I didn't want you to think that I kept the stu
ff that we had been talking about."
"I believe you." Bella took another bite of her hot dog and watched the ducks al
ong the shore of the pond while she chewed. After she swallowed and then took a
sip from her Coke, she turned her attention back to Edward, who was sitting and
waiting, giving her the time she needed.
"The way I found out about my mother's affair was from finding a box of love let
ters that Phil Dwyer had written to her. I don't know why, but yesterday, when I
held your fan letters in my hands, it just triggered the memory. All at once I
immediately felt the pain from that day as if I had just found the letters. It's
odd, I thought I had gotten over it," she smiled, shrugging her shoulders.
"I'm surprised my father stayed with her," Bella mused quietly. So quietly that
Edward had to lean in closer in order to make out all her words. "I don't think
I could do it, you know? Taking back a wife that not only cheated on him, but .
. . well maybe I'm the reason he stayed." She shrugged her shoulders again and l
ooked back down at her food.
They continued eating, both of them staring out over the pond. The wind blew int
o them, lifting some napkins in the air and Edward reached out to grab them. "Gr
eat catch," Bella giggled and he smiled.
"How old were you when she had the affair?"
"I hadn't even been born yet. Shortly after she got pregnant with me, she and Ph
il had a huge fight. I remember the letters and his words vividly; 'It's not min
e', 'you can't blame this on me', 'think about my kids and my wife'." Bella snor
ted and then looked down at her empty paper hot dog cradle. "Maybe I should've g
otten two."
Edward was in shock. Was Bella trying to tell him that she was Phil Dwyer's daug
hter? "Bella, is Phil Dwyer your father?"
"What?" Her head shot up. "No! There's never been any doubt that Charlie was my
dad. I may look exactly like my mom, but I have my father's hair color and eyes.
"
"Did your parents ever get your paternity tested?" He didn't want to upset her,
as it appeared he had, but he was curious. And if he was curious, wouldn't other
people have been? Wouldn't her dad have wanted to know for a fact?
"Edward," her soft voice sighed quietly, "when my mom got pregnant with me, she
thought I was Phil's." Her voice cracked at saying Phil's name. "According to th
e letters, and from what my mom told me after I confronted her, Phil wanted noth
ing to do with her after she told him about me. He called her a whore," she cont
inued, stuttering on the last word. "He accused her of being after his money and
then berated her for trying to ruin his family."
Edward focused his eyes on the top of Bella's head because she was currently loo
king at the ground, her fingers pulling at the grass that lay underneath them. H
e could tell that she was nervous as she spoke and he just wished for her to loo
k up at him. He wanted to look into her eyes. Reaching out, he grasped one of he
r hands in his and she finally looked up.
"She tried to leave my dad," she frowned, her eyes intently staring into his. Ca
utiously, Edward rubbed his thumb over the top of her hand that he held. "When P
hil refused to acknowledge her or the baby she carried, my mom was all alone. I
think the only reason my dad took her back was because of me."
"Bella," Edward grated out, but she cut him off.
"If it weren't for those letters I found, my life would be totally different." W
ith those words, Bella looked away from him again, her eyes lingering on the duc
ks where they lay in the grass by the pond.
Edward kept her hand in his, relishing the feel of her small one. There was a ce
rtain tingling feeling in the tips of his fingers from their connection and, tho
ugh it felt strange, he didn't want the feeling to end. Taking in a deep breath,
Edward twisted his hand and laced his fingers with hers, unsure of how she'd re
act.
There was no evidence in Bella's body or expression that told Edward she felt th
e change in the way their hands were positioned. She continued to look out over
the pond before them and he finally released his breath. As soon as his body rel
axed, he felt her squeeze his hand and his eyes shot back over to see her smilin
g at him.
"I've shared my story," she started, "now how about you?"
Confused, Edward diverted his stare to their hands, which were still entwined to
gether. "What do you mean?" He asked, looking back up at her.
"Lauren."
Shit. "There's not much to tell about her."
"She was the last relationship you had before . . . well, you know what I mean,"
she said, not wanting to bring up his whoring ways, afraid that he'd close hims
elf off from her. "She did something to you," she whispered, her eyes penetratin
g into his.
You wanted honesty, Masen, now go for it. Clearing his throat, he squeezed her h
and as if it were his life line, drawing courage from their connection. "I met L
auren not long after coming up from the minors. She was beautiful, ambitious, an
d full of life. I was never one to go out and drink a lot or party until I met h
er." He paused for a moment as he adjusted himself, lifting one knee up and rest
ing his free arm across it. He looked back at Bella before continuing.
"She liked the nightlife in Chicago. She liked to go to all the dance clubs and
expensive restaurants. I'm originally from this area and being brought up to the
Cubs, the papers talked about me all the time. When I got a chance to play, I d
id well, resulting in more opportunities. I became a local favorite, even though
I wasn't a big name in baseball; people here knew me." He smirked and then look
ed back at the water.
"Deep down, I knew there was something missing from our relationship. We never s
pent any time together, just the two of us. We always had to go out in a big gro
up of her friends, and we always had to go to the hottest bar, club, restaurant
. . . whatever she wanted, she got." His tone had turned bitter and Bella starte
d rubbing her thumb over his skin. Chills vibrated through Edward's spine at her
intimate gesture and he took a deep breath, trying to control his racing heart.
"It seemed that friends of hers were coming out of the woodwork looking for tick
ets to games, autographs, jerseys, everything really. It felt like all I did was
stand with her and tell baseball stories to her friends and then sign autograph
s and leave. Like a job. Only my payment wasn't monetary, if you know what I mea
n," he finished, one eyebrow cocked, making sure she got his meaning. Sex with L
auren had been great, but it left a sour taste in his mouth to know that it mean
t nothing to her emotionally.
"When I confronted her about how I felt, she laughed at me. Apparently, that's a
ll I was to her. She made me feel like a piece of shit that day, like the only v
alue I had was the fact that I was a baseball player. That's when it dawned on m
e."
A sarcastic laugh escaped him and he looked over to Bella with a vicious smile.
"Lauren never once tried to get to know who I am. All we ever talked about was b
aseball, dance clubs, and what my name could get for her." He shook his head, hi
s eyes never leaving hers, and she squeezed his hand. The simple gesture felt so
reassuring and his heart leaped with hope as he looked at the beautiful woman b
efore him.
"People don't see me when they look at me. They see Edward Masen, the Cubs short
stop. They don't see me, the guy who likes to play the piano, watch stupid movi
es, lay around eating peanut butter cups, or take a walk with a beautiful girl t
o stare at smelly animals."
Taking a deep breath, he brought their entwined hands to his mouth and kissed th
e back of hers. "Thanks for letting me be myself, Bella."
As Edward slowly dropped their hands, they both leaned closer toward each other,
their eyes locked together. Bella's mouth opened, drawing Edward's attention to
the full, pink flesh as her tongue unconsciously slipped out, wetting her lips.
Their faces moved closer together and Edward anticipated the moment his lips wo
uld touch hers as he closed his eyes, making the final movement that would bring
them together.
Suddenly, Bella pulled back, shrieking as she ran her hand through her hair. "So
mething hit me!" When she brought her hand back in front of her face, she notice
d white goo rubbed across her palm and she turned bright red. "Stupid birds," sh
e muttered and Edward started to laugh. "It's not funny," she spat, but it was f
unny and she couldn't hold back the laughter either.
"Come on," Edward said, standing up and holding out his hand to her. "Let's get
you cleaned up."
~GO CUBS~
Bella pushed her way into Chad's apartment when he opened the door for her. Orig
inally, they were supposed to meet at a small coffee shop near their class, but
Bella called him after she returned home from the zoo and told him she'd come to
his place. It was definitely not on her way to class, but she wanted to talk to
Brian and see if he was the one who gave out her information.
"Hi Chad," Bella said coolly as she looked around his apartment. "Is your roomma
te home?"
"Brian?" he asked, his Adams apple bobbing as he gulped.
"Yes," she sneered, "Brian. I need to talk to him."
"I'm sorry, Bella," Chad said frantically. "I didn't know he was going to do it.
He called me after he got to work last night and asked for your full name and o
ther information. I wasn't thinking."
"You did this?" She asked, suddenly more upset than she was before.
"Don't be mad at Chad," Brian chimed as he came out of hiding. "They had some of
those pictures of you two for a while. Other papers had them too, I supposed, b
ut no one was running with the story because no one knew who you were."
"Why didn't you ask me last night if you could use them?"
"They don't need your permission to use the pictures, Bella. They just needed a
name, and there you were standing in my living room."
Anger seethed inside of her. "Did it ever occur to you or anyone at the Sun Time
s to maybe ask me about my relationship with him before making up lies about us?
"
"What lies? The two of you are obviously in some sort of a relationship, the pic
tures speak for themselves."
Turning to Chad, she pointed her finger at him. "You owe me!" She spat. "And for
the record," she said as she turned back to Brian, "Edward Masen and I are not
dating, we're only friends."
Bella could tell by the look on Brian's face that he didn't believe one word of
what she said. "Forget it. It's not worth it," she huffed as she turned back to
Chad. "Let's go before I do something I won't regret."
~GO CUBS~
"Was your friend able to get them?" Jane whispered excitedly to her friend, Nikk
i, who sat in the booth across from her.
"Yeah, I told you he would," Nikki replied before taking a swig from her beer. "
What do you need them for anyway?"
"You promised not to ask," Jane spat. "Besides, I may not need them."
"Here," Nikki said as she started to pull out a baggie from her purse.
"Not here!" Jane hissed.
"Give it up! No one gives a fuck about what we're doing over here." She placed t
he baggie on the table and slid it over to Jane.
"Just three?" Jane asked, as she eyed the contents before slipping the baggie in
to her purse.
"Danny said his guy charged him more because it wasn't a direct transaction and
you were a new customer."
"There were supposed to be five."
"Well you're going to have to deal with three unless you have more money."
"No," Jane sighed. She had used all the money she had available to buy these.
The two friends sat in an uncomfortable silence for a moment, both drinking thei
r beer and watching the other bar patrons. "Are you still planning on moving awa
y?" Nikki finally asked.
"Yes. I have to get out of here," Jane sighed.
"And what about Carlos and Bobby?"
"I don't know. I can't tell Carlos I'm leaving until I'm already gone. Otherwise
," she said as her body tensed up, "he will find a way to keep me here."
"And Bobby?"
"He'd be better off here, with his dad."
"You aren't taking off with that ball player, are you?" Nikki asked, her eyes na
rrowing on her friend.
"Listen, the less you know, the better. Just promise me you won't tell anyone ab
out this," she said, motioning to the baggie that peeked out from her purse. Upo
n noticing that, she tucked the baggie in further and zipped her purse closed.
"You aren't going to drug anyone are you? Wait!" Nikki screeched as a thought su
ddenly entered her head. "Please tell me you aren't going to give those pills to
Carlos!"
"They aren't for Carlos, all right? I probably won't even need to use them."
"Probably?"
"If everything goes as planned, these," she said while patting the top of her pu
rse, "can be flushed down the toilet."
Jane took a deep breath as she thought of her plans. Plan 'A' was simple enough,
and up until today, she was pretty sure it would work without any problem. But
with the news clip she saw on TV earlier, she was now thinking that Plan 'A' was
not going to work well at all. Was it true? She wondered. Did Edward have a gir
lfriend in Chicago?
Jane wasn't dumb. She knew that Edward slept with other women. But she also thou
ght that she was the only one he was with on some-what of a regular basis. If he
had a steady girlfriend, would he still want to be with her? Eighteen days. Edw
ard would be in San Diego in eighteen days. He normally didn't contact her until
about a week before he was planning to arrive. Waiting for the phone call would
be absolute torture now.
"And if things don't go as planned?" Nikki inquired.
"I don't want to think about that right now."
Plan 'B' wasn't as appealing as the other plan. It involved the contents of the
baggie in her purse along with deceit. And not only would she have to betray Edw
ard's trust, she would have to make sure everything went off just right, which s
he couldn't guarantee because nature sometimes had other plans. Feeling overwhel
med, Jane pushed the thoughts of plan 'B' out of her head. She didn't want to th
ink about it right now. Not yet. Not when there was still some hope that plan 'A
' would work.
"Can you please just tell me where you're going?"
"I can't risk it. You're the first person Carlos is going to talk to when he not
ices I'm gone." Jane chugged down the last of her beer and then smiled at her fr
iend. "I've got to get back to Bobby. I promise to say goodbye before I leave."
Chapter 12 May 5 8, 2009
"Don't forget to ask him," Alice said firmly into her cell as she walked down St
ate Street on her way into Macy's on Tuesday morning.
"Alice, I can't lie to the guy," Jazz said slowly. "Besides, he probably already
has plans with her."
"They need to do more than hang out at bars, Jazz. Everyone will be out drinking
tonight, it's Cinco de Mayo. They need a change of scenery, something different
date-like."
Exasperated, Jazz gave in to his beautiful lady with a sigh. "Okay, Alice. I'll
make sure he agrees and then I'll make reservations for four."
"Thank you!" Alice squealed on her end, ecstatic that she was getting her way.
"You don't think they'll be booked up?"
"Not for you and Edward," she smiled, weaving her way through the hordes of peop
le on the street. "Call me before the game. I'm going to get Bella to sit with m
e today."
There was no way that Alice would ever be able to tell Bella that she had been t
rying to get her and Edward hooked up. From the first moment she met Edward, she
knew right away that he would be perfect for Bella. He was charming, funny, sar
castic, sexy, and enjoyable to be around. His demeanor was friendly and his eyes
shimmered with a kindness that was very rare a kindness that Alice had seen in
Bella's eyes. The two of them were kindred spirits, she just knew it.
The first attempt at getting the two of them together had flopped big time. Alic
e knew that Bella had a hang-up with sports figures, considering what she went t
hrough with her parents and their marriage falling apart. But she still couldn't
ignore the feeling she got, it was as if she could see them together in the fut
ure. The vision was clear as day in her head. She just knew they'd be great toge
ther; just as she knew her and Jazz were meant for one another.
Selecting Bella's name from her call list, Alice pushed the 'send' button on her
cell phone. "Good morning, Bella!" Alice shrilled out as Bella answered her pho
ne groggily. "Did I wake you up?"
"No," Bella replied, still growling at her pixie-like friend. "I missed my bus a
nd now I'll be late. I so do not want to go into work today. You know it'll be w
orse than yesterday," she groaned.
"Keep your chin up and a smile on your face. Don't let them see you upset over t
his," she suggested, sorry that her dear friend had to go through this mess. Ali
ce had had her picture in the paper a few times, but nothing like what had happe
ned to Bella and she felt so sorry for her. "I want to go out for Mexican tonigh
t after the game. Are you in?"
"Where do you plan to go?"
"How's Lalo's on Clybourn?"
"Um, sure," Bella replied hesitantly.
"Unless you have other plans," Alice threw in there, hoping her uncertainty stem
med from wanting to meet up with Edward afterwards.
"No, no other plans. Should we ask Emmett and Rose to join us?"
"They're going out with some friends of Emmett's from work after. Oh, will you s
it with me today?" She asked, hopeful.
"I don't know," Bella responded. "Skank," she then muttered quietly and Alice's
face scrunched up in confusion.
"Did you just call me a skank?"
"No, some girl from the bar the other night just walked past me." Bella paused f
or a moment before continuing. "Let me call Emmett and see if he has anyone inte
rested in going. One of his friends from work is already using my empty seat, so
if he can find someone else to buy my other one, then I'll sit with you. Deal?"
"Deal."
"Are we going out with the guys afterwards?" Bella suddenly asked and Alice smil
ed brightly.
"No," she lied. "They have to get ready for their road trip. I thought just us g
irls could go out and have a little fun. We haven't done that in a while."
"Sounds fun. Hey, can I invite Ang?"
"I don't know. I had to call a lot of restaurants trying to find an opening. It
is Cinco de Mayo, Bella. Everything's booked up."
"That's okay. She probably already has plans with Ben. I'll see you at the game.
"
It wasn't fun lying to her good friend, but she wanted to surprise Bella. Maybe
if she realized how much she missed Edward when he wasn't around, she'd give in
to her feelings for him. And Alice knew that Bella had feelings for Edward. It w
as plain as day, written all over her face whenever she looked at him. Alice cou
ld definitely see it, Rose saw it, Emmett tried not to see it, but even he admit
ted that something was there, and Jazz had finally given in and acknowledged tha
t there was something between the two. Now she just needed Edward and Bella to s
ee it.
Planning this dinner wasn't anything elaborate, it was just two couples getting
together for a meal. But the boys wouldn't be able to meet up until much later a
fter the game. Normally, they ate at the club house before coming out after a ga
me because they had food there for the players and it was easier for them. But t
onight, she had Jazz promise her that he'd talk Edward into going out with him f
or dinner.
There really was no reason to keep Edward and Bella in the dark about the other
being at the dinner, other than wanting to see the look of joy on both their fac
es when they see each other. It was a selfish thing on Alice's part. She would t
ake each of their favorite toys away each other and then at the last minute, giv
e them back to them and watch the big smiles overtake their faces. She couldn't
wait! And maybe, they would realize how special the other person was to them. "J
ust maybe," she sighed softly as she stepped into the doors of Macy's.
~GO CUBS~
"Hey Marcus," Bella smiled, poking her head into her boss's office. "I'm getting
ready to head to the game."
"I was hoping to see you before you left," he replied, leaning back in his chair
. "Can you come in for a moment?"
"Sure." Bella strode into his office, leaving the door open, and sat in one of t
he chairs in front of his desk. "Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, everything's fine. I was just wondering how you're doing. Did the guys fi
nally leave you alone?"
"Yeah. Other than a few requests for autographs they left me alone hours ago."
"And the phone calls?"
"I've been threatening to sue them if they continue to harass me at work," she t
ried to smile.
"Something's wrong," Marcus stated, noticing the slight, forced smile she held o
n her face.
"Nothing I can't handle."
"Well, if Jessica continues to give you a hard time, let me know. I've been look
ing for a reason to fire her."
Bella's eyes widened at his confession and then smiled genuinely. "Why didn't yo
u say so before?" She said deviously.
"Go to the game, Bella," he laughed.
Marcus didn't have to tell her more than once. She was out of the office within
ten minutes and met up with Alice at home so they could change. Alice always too
k longer to get ready than Bella, so she sat back and ate something for lunch be
fore throwing on a pair of jeans and a blue Cubs sweatshirt. It was a man's larg
e and hung on her, hiding all of her womanly curves Alice hated it.
"We're coming home before going to the restaurant," Alice stated when her eyes c
aught a glimpse of Bella's clothes.
"I've got another shirt on underneath," Bella huffed, but Alice still insisted a
s they walked out the door.
It was weird for Bella to sit on the opposite side of the field she felt like sh
e was missing out on something. From the vantage point of her season tickets, sh
e had a good view into the Cubs' dugout. Granted, she couldn't make too much out
, but she could still see in not that that mattered in a game.
When Bella saw Alice pull out a pack of gum, she couldn't resist asking for a pi
ece and shoving it in her mouth, savoring the flavor of raspberries. The taste b
rought her back to memories of Edward's lips on hers, their tongues lingering ag
ainst each other, and a rush of warmth seeped through her body. Taking deep, ful
l breaths, Bella tried to focus on everything around her.
There were many players' wives in their section and they all chatted quietly, ta
lking about the upcoming autograph day where some of the players were going to s
it at tables before the game and sign autographs for fans. A few also spoke abou
t Garrett and Kate's charity murder mystery. They were all brain storming ideas
for the chairs they would decorate.
"Is Jazz going to donate a chair?" Bella asked Alice, turning her head away from
the field where she still hadn't found Edward. The Cubs had just finished with
their infield time and were switching to the outfield to stretch so that the San
Francisco Giants could take the infield.
"Are you kidding? He's got tons of Civil War books and movies all ready to stuff
on a big saddle sitting in his living room."
"A saddle?" Bella asked, both eyebrows lifted in confusion.
"He keeps arguing with me that it's a chair," Alice smirked, shaking her head in
frustration.
"I think Edward has a plan already."
"Really?" Alice asked with a sickening smile on her face, causing Bella to take
a closer look at her friend.
Just as Bella opened her mouth to say something to Alice, she got a text message
. When she looked at her phone, her eyes scrunched together, confused. Looking o
ut over the field, she noticed again that Edward was not out stretching like he
normally does before a game.
Not coming to the game today?
Snorting, loudly, not caring that Alice was looking over her shoulder, Bella rep
lied to Edward.
I could ask the same to you . . . sitting with Alice today.
Got the day off ;)
Right before it was time for the singing of the National Anthem, Edward's head e
merged from the Cubs' dugout and he turned around, finding Bella in the stands.
The crooked grin that Bella loved so much slowly slipped onto his face and she t
ook deep breaths, trying to control her breathing as her body was consumed by a
surge of heat. That smile of his always seemed to affect her in ways she didn't
want to acknowledge.
"Ow!" Bella hissed when Alice nudged her.
"Stop flirting with him. It's what got you in trouble in the first place."
"I'm not flirting, and I'm not in trouble," she bit at her friend.
"The pictures," Alice stressed, her eyebrows lifting for affect.
Sitting back, Bella tried not to stare at Edward as he stood just to the right o
f the dugout, waiting to line up on the third base line for the Anthem to be sun
g. It was odd, but after knowing Edward and Jazz, Bella could now see the clique
s within the players. She had always assumed a ball team was like a big, happy f
amily. But even at the Cullen's barbeque, she could tell that there were some pe
ople Edward avoided or barely tolerated.
Throughout the whole game, Bella found herself thinking back to her time with Ed
ward at the zoo yesterday. For a brief moment, she had wanted him to kiss her. I
n that one fragment of time, he was everything she had ever wanted and she could
n't keep herself from leaning toward him, wanting him to touch her, kiss her, an
d take her. God, she wanted him.
In the eighth inning, Edward was put in as a pinch hitter for Yorkie, who strugg
led with some batters in the top of the inning, allowing three runs to score. St
aring at his back as he stood at the plate, Bella felt sad. The team was leaving
for Houston in the morning and would be gone for about a week. If she didn't se
e him tonight, she wouldn't get a chance to say good bye.
After Edward grounded out, Bella watched in silence as the Cubs lost to the Gian
ts, 6-2. Bella remained seated after the game, staring at the top of the Cubs du
gout, wondering if Jazz or Edward would come out to say anything to them goodbye
perhaps but they never peered out. Instead, she slowly rose and followed Alice
out of the park.
They went home to quickly change clothes before taking Alice's Jetta to the rest
aurant. They didn't get to Lalo's until a little after six and Bella was anxious
. She didn't understand why they couldn't meet up with the boys tonight. It was
hard for her to put a name to how she felt, but she actually missed Edward. It w
as because she had expected to see him, she told herself, not because she really
missed him. She checked her cell phone numerous times at home, on the drive to
the restaurant, and now as they sat waiting for their margaritas to arrive, hopi
ng for a text from him.
"Will you stop staring at your phone?" Alice scolded, a knowing smile on her fac
e.
"I'm not," Bella frowned. "I was just checking the time."
"They eat at the club house, you know."
"No, I didn't know that," Bella muttered, trying to relax into the booth they sa
t in. It was huge too big for two people.
"Well, Jazz doesn't always eat there, but sometimes he does. It's easier for the
m."
There was so much about Edward's life that Bella didn't know about and it hit he
r hard that they came from two different worlds. "Are you staying with Jazz toni
ght, before he leaves?"
"I don't know," she sighed before changing the subject. "So tell me about Jake,"
she said sternly, her eyes peering hard into Bella's.
"He's an old friend. You've met him."
"What's he like?"
"I don't know," Bella hesitated. What was Jake like? "He's funny and happy all t
he time." Just like his father was, Bella noted to herself. "He's a bit annoying
at times, but I think it's just because he's immature." She shrugged.
"And you're going on a date with him Friday?" Alice asked skeptically.
"No, it's not a date."
"Tell me how he asked."
"He called and asked how I was doing then made a joke about the Cubs," Bella sai
d, recalling the conversation she had with Jake on Sunday while they were in the
park at Edward's building. "And then he asked if I'd like to go to dinner on Fr
iday night."
"It's a date," Alice stated with a frown.
"Okay," Bella said thoughtfully, "and what if it is? Is it wrong for me to final
ly have a date? Why can't I go out with a good looking guy for dinner?"
"Do you feel anything for him?" Alice asked anxiously.
Loudly relieving the air from her lungs, Bella narrowed her eyes on her friend.
"I don't feel . . ." she paused as she thought of how the simplest touch from Ed
ward set her blood boiling, or how the way he smiled at her kicked her heart int
o overdrive. "There aren't any sparks or fireworks," Bella finished, frowning do
wn at her napkin.
Their waitress approached at that time, bringing with her two huge frozen margar
itas. After placing them on the table in front of the girls, they dove right in
and grabbed their drinks. "To us," Alice said joyfully. "I'll do anything for yo
u Bella, you're my best friend."
"And I'd do anything for you, unless it's shopping, because you know darn well I
hate to do that." Their glasses clinked together as they laughed and then took
big sips of their flavorful drinks.
"Alice," Bella said softly, "how are things going with you and Jazz?"
"Everything's great," Alice beamed. "He truly is my Prince Charming, Bella! He g
ets me. You know how many guys I'd dated who got too overwhelmed by me," she con
tinued and Bella thought of the guys she used to date. They were all horrible fo
r her. Actually, Bella had never seen her so happy and free to be herself with a
ny other guy.
"Jazz loves me for who I am. I don't have to pretend to like the Civil War with
him, he doesn't care that I'm not into it. Just like I don't care that he isn't
as fashion conscious as he should be."
"Fashion conscious?" Bella laughed, taking another long sip of her drink.
"My God, you should see some of the stuff he had in his closet. I've been slowly
getting rid of things here-and-there and replacing them with new shirts and pan
ts."
"Edward dresses nice," Bella mused and because she was so caught up in the image
s of Edward in her head, she didn't notice the knowing look on Alice's face.
"He sure does," Alice agreed, suppressing the urge to literally leap from her se
at in hysterical excitement. "He smells good too," she added to see how Bella wo
uld respond.
"Mmhmm," She hummed and then took another drink, her cheeks blushing profusely.
Alice had noticed the blush but didn't want to put her friend on the spot. She d
idn't want to make her feel uncomfortable or bring too much attention to Bella's
budding feelings for a man that she apparently didn't think she should like.
Deciding to change the subject, Alice decided to tell Bella the one thing she ha
d been dying to share with her. "So, Jazz asked me my ring size the other day,"
she sang as composed as she could possibly be, which wasn't very. She was bounci
ng in her seat with a gigantic smile on her face, her eyes alight, glowing from
joy.
"Oh my God!" Bella exclaimed. "I can't believe it! What did he say? What did you
say? Why didn't you tell me sooner?" It was nice for Bella to feel like a girl
at times, and this was one of them. It felt good to let loose and be excited for
her friend.
"He asked me what my ring size was and I told him size 6, and that was all," she
said matter-of-factly.
"That's it? Didn't you question him more?" Bella was sitting on the edge of her
seat, her margarita half way to her mouth.
"There's no need to. I know he's going to propose."
"Are you sure? I wouldn't want you to get all excited and the-"
"I'm not going to get hurt," she cut Bella off. "You know how I just knew that J
azz was the one for me?" She asked and Bella nodded. "Well, that's how I know th
at I'm going to marry him some day. Even if he doesn't buy me the diamond right
now, I know that in the future he will. It's as if I can feel it, see it happeni
ng."
"You and your feelings," Bella huffed. "I wish I could see sparks and feel butte
rflies and know, just like that," Bella said as she snapped her fingers. "That h
e is the one." You do feel butterflies, Bella, just not with the right guy. A fr
own creased Bella's face.
"It's not always so cut and dry. Just promise me that you won't settle, especial
ly for Jake. I know that he likes you and it's nice to have a guy be interested
in you, but please don't settle. Promise me that?"
"I promise," Bella stated. "And you don't have to worry about Jake. I really don
't have any feelings like that for him." After taking another sip of her drink,
finishing it off, she placed it down on the table and let out a large sigh. "Can
I tell you something private?"
"Of course you can," Alice said, leaning forward over the table.
"Promise me you won't tell Emmett or Rose?"
"I promise," Alice said passionately, crossing her heart with her finger and Bel
la smiled.
"I think I'm falling for Edward," Bella whispered, nervously watching Alice's fa
ce for her reaction. But she never got to see or hear what Alice thought because
her attention was drawn to two men approaching their table.
"Edward?" Bella asked, confused.
Alice had jumped up and embraced Jazz. Neither of them looked surprised to see t
he other. Edward and Bella looked at their embracing friends before looking back
at each other even more confused. Why would Jazz and Alice go through such trou
ble to bring them together? Didn't they know that they were friends?
Sliding over, Bella watched as Edward sat next to her in the booth. "I assume th
ey are trying to set us up again," he whispered so only she could hear.
"Hmm," Bella sounded, suddenly embarrassed by her lack of conversation. She was
too caught up with Edward's appearance. He wore a light green button down shirt
that brought out the green in his eyes, and blue jeans. As he sat down, Bella go
t a whiff of his aftershave and she took a deep breath in, savoring the smell.
The waitress came over once Jazz and Alice were seated and they ordered another
round of margaritas; two frozen for the girls and two regular for the guys. Afte
r ordering their food, the four of them talked about Houston and the game earlie
r today, Bella getting a bit too animated when she spoke of Yorkie who pitched h
orribly in the seventh and eighth innings.
"I was talking to Edward earlier," Jazz drawled out, getting the full attention
of the table. "We'll be in Milwaukee on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We thought
you two might like to come up for the weekend and watch the games."
Alice showed her approval physically, clapping her hands and throwing her arms a
round Jazz. Bella sat in her seat, speechless and unsure of how to respond and t
hen it dawned on her she had a date for Friday night, she wouldn't be able to go
.
"I can't go," she muttered. "I have plans Friday night."
"Jake?" Edward asked, not letting his disappointment show through.
"Yeah."
There was silence at the table and then Alice spoke up. "Well, maybe we could co
me up Saturday morning then and just stay the one night," she offered. "It's onl
y two hours away we can leave first thing and meet up before you have to go into
the park."
"That sounds perfect, as long as you're okay with it?" Bella looked at Edward, h
oping he was okay with her meeting him on the road. Though they were friends, sh
e didn't want to burden him with her presence or act like an over-exuberant fan,
which she was starting to feel like.
"Of course," he smiled. "I wish you could come up Friday, but it's a late game a
nd we wouldn't be able to spend time with you two anyways."
"I'll call and get a room, what hotel?" Bella asked.
"Don't worry about it," Edward replied. "I'll get one for you and check in Frida
y so that you can get in the room right away when you arrive Saturday. Otherwise
, check-in's at three or something."
"Thanks," she replied and he winked at her, sending waves of warmth down to her
toes.
They finished their meals while talking about movies they liked and Bella felt v
ery uncomfortable. This whole dinner seemed odd and she was furious with Alice f
or putting her on the spot, but every time she looked up into her best friend's
eyes, Alice was grinning at her and she couldn't be mad. She knew Alice wouldn't
do anything to upset her on purpose.
Edward put all their meals on his card and then they got up to leave. As they wa
lked down to the parking lot, Alice and Jazz in front of her and Edward, Bella f
elt very awkward. She had ridden over with Alice and it looked like Edward had d
riven his car, bringing Jazz with him. They'd have to hang around and wait for t
he love birds to kiss and grope each other before they could leave.
"I'm sorry about Alice," Bella said, resigned to making small talk, yet wanting
to let him know that she didn't have anything to do with the weirdness of the di
nner.
"There's nothing to apologize for. Alice just thinks differently than the rest o
f us," he chuckled.
"Edward?" Alice interrupted them.
"What do you need, Alice?"
"Would you mind taking Bella home? I'm going to stay with Jazz tonight."
Mortified, Bella was about to protest, but Edward smiled and assured Alice that
he would take her home. She angrily climbed into the passenger seat as Edward he
ld the door open for her and looked over to Alice, threatening her with a glare.
Alice just smiled back and waved as she giddily got behind the wheel of her car
.
"Damn that little pixie!" Bella huffed as Edward started his car.
"She's not very smooth, is she?" He laughed as he pulled out of the parking spot
.
"Not at all. Half the time I can tell when she's trying to set me up with someon
e, but I wasn't expecting it tonight." Thinking back, Bella realized that the la
st person Alice had tried to set her up with was Edward, the evening of the Cubs
' season home opener.
"So, she sets you up with guys a lot?"
"She used to," she mumbled, staring out the windshield at the street in front of
them.
"They couldn't have all been bad," Edward goaded her, trying to get more informa
tion from her.
"Oh, yes they could," Bella grumbled and he laughed.
"Tell me about one. Who was the worst guy she set you up with?"
"Oh, God, I can't believe I'm going to tell you this," she moaned and grimaced a
t the smile he flashed her. "Okay, his name was Gustavo. He was nice enough, but
I couldn't understand a word he said. I pretty much smiled and nodded my head t
he whole night. But he was a close-talker too," she said, eyeing him. "You know,
like on Seinfeld? I guess the close-talking wouldn't have been so bad if his br
eath smelled okay, but it reeked of fish." Bella shook her head, remembering the
horrible experience. "The more I pulled away, the closer he tried to get."
"How about you?" Bella asked when she noticed him laugh at her horrible date exp
erience.
"I haven't dated in a very long time," he replied quietly, taking a quick glance
in her direction.
"All right, how about girls that flirt with you? There must've been some real wi
nners over the years."
"There're all types of those," he groaned, and Bella smiled, finally glad she wa
s able to bring up some bad memories for him.
Edward parked his car in the first empty spot available near Bella's townhome, a
few houses down. After turning off his car, he turned to face her. "Looks like
I'm off the hook."
"Not so fast, Masen, we haven't finished our conversation." She looked at the ti
me on her cell phone then back at him. "Would you like to come in for a drink?"
Her heart sped up, she could feel it pounding against her rib cage and she sudde
nly felt extremely hot.
Taking a deep breath, Edward stared into Bella's eyes and she swallowed unsteadi
ly, wondering what he was thinking. "Thanks for the invite, but I do need to get
home and pack," he said sadly.
"All right, I'll see you Saturday then?" She hoped her voice didn't sound as dis
appointed as she felt.
Edward leaned over and gave Bella a hug and then kissed her cheek, catching her
by surprise. "Saturday," he smiled when he let her go.
~GO CUBS~
"That one's too sexy," Alice said, putting the dress back in Bella's closet.
"Too sexy for a date?" Bella protested. "Since when is anything too sexy for a d
ate? I'm the one who usually has to tone down my outfit, not you."
"I thought it wasn't a date."
"It's not. Not really, I just don't know what to call it."
"I thought you weren't interested in Jake," Alice frowned, pulling out a dress s
he had tried to get Bella to throw away numerous times. "Here you go, this is pe
rfect."
"Will you stop?" Bella grabbed the dress and threw it into the corner of her roo
m.
"You said it yourself, Bella, you want Edward, not Jake."
"I didn't say I wanted Edward, I'm just . . ." Bella paused, not sure what name
to give for how she felt for the Cubs' short stop.
"You're falling for him," Alice sang, rising onto the balls of her feet with a h
uge smile on her face. "Okay, I promised I wouldn't pry," she pouted when she sa
w the expression on Bella's face. "Does Edward know about your date?"
"Yes, he does, and for the millionth time, it's not a date!"
"What did Edward say about it?"
Bella growled as she gave in to her friend. "He told me that if I didn't have fe
elings for Jake, then it's not a date. So get off my back!"
"You told Edward that you don't have feelings for Jake?" Alice asked, re-energiz
ed.
Taking a deep breath, Bella pulled out the plain, slinky black dress that Alice
made her put away earlier. "Yes. Now let me get dressed, will you?"
"You're really going to wear that?" Alice asked sadly. "I thought you could brin
g it to Milwaukee with us for tomorrow night."
"I'm not wearing a dress like this to baseball game, Alice"
"Fine," Alice huffed. "I'm going shopping tonight then."
"For crying out loud! Will you stop buying me clothes? A t-shirt and jeans is ju
st fine for baseball."
"You'll dress up for Jake but not for Edward?"
"Alice," Bella pleaded, closing her eyes as she fell back on her bed in defeat.
"I don't like Jake, okay? I just haven't been on a date in ages and, well, it's
nice to be liked."
"So you do consider it a date," Alice said miserably.
"Not really. I mean, it is technically a date, but I don't have any feelings for
Jake, I really don't."
"Then why do you want to dress nice for him?
"I want to look good, Alice, it makes me feel good."
"Okay," she frowned, feeling like a traitor to Edward. "I'll shut up and do your
hair."
"Thanks," Bella smiled. "I promise to come right home and gossip about the whole
evening, okay?"
"Okay."
~GO CUBS~
Down in a dark cramped restaurant, Bella sat at a small table across from Jake s
taring at her menu. "How exactly do we order?" They were at Geja's Café, a fondue
restaurant.
"I don't know, I've never been here," he replied with a sheepish grin.
"Okay," Bella said and then searched the restaurant for the person who took thei
r drink order. Upon making eye contact, she motioned with her hand that they nee
ded assistance.
"We've never been here before," she said quietly, embarrassed because everyone e
lse in the crowded little restaurant knew exactly what they were doing.
"First date?" The waitress asked and Bella blushed, not sure what to say. "I rec
ommend the International; beef, shrimp, and chicken breast. You'll also get the
cheese for your appetizer and then finish off with the chocolate for desert," sh
e said, eyeing the couple, waiting for a response.
"That sounds perfect . . ." Jake smiled and he paused while he searched his memo
ry for the waitress's name.
"Annie," she giggled. "I'll put you down for the International then. The cheese
will come out first." She took their menus and sauntered away.
"You mustn't know what to do with yourself with the Cubs out of town," Jake joke
d.
"I've been working on my project for my class. I get a lot done when the Cubs ar
e away I love it when they're on the road." Bella's heart constricted as she sai
d the words, her mind automatically thinking about Edward and his smile. Road tr
ips hadn't been the same since she met him they were lonely now.
Their waitress returned with a fondue pot full of cheese along with apple wedges
, grapes, and different types of sliced bread. "You just go ahead and dip it in
and eat it," she said, smiling brightly to Jake.
"Thank you," he said robustly.
Bella started off with an apple and was floored by how good it tasted. "This is
amazing," she said in awe after she swallowed her bite.
They ate the cheese fondue in silence for most of the time before Jake looked up
and caught Bella's attention. "How are things going with Edward?" He asked smug
ly.
Anger shot through Bella. She originally had a plan to get back at Jake for what
he had said at the Sox game, but she totally forgot about it. Thinking quickly,
she came up with a reply. "We're doing great," she said pointedly. "I'm so glad
you told me how guys and girls can't be friends. If it weren't for you, I would
never have realized my true feelings for Edward and we would never have gotten
together!" Bella put on her best smile and watched him sulk.
"You did read the Sun Times on Monday, right?" It was her time to be smug.
"I thought that was just a rumor they were starting," he said, his eyes narrowin
g on her. "I talked to Emmett and he said nothing "
"Oh," she interrupted, "don't say anything to Emmett about us. He gets a bit ove
r protective; we're keeping it a secret from him."
Bella took the last apple wedge and dipped it into the cheese before taking a bi
te from it. She watched Jake's expression as she chewed, enjoying the way his ey
es were now slits and his cheeks were flushed red. "You and Edward?" He asked.
"And we have you to thank for it! He was so glad that we were going out to dinne
r tonight, he wanted me to thank you for both of us." Bella's smile was bright,
maybe a bit too bright and she wasn't sure if he was buying it.
Their waitress brought over the oil fondue with the beef, shrimp, and chicken an
d explained to them to make sure the chicken was cooked all the way through befo
re eating. She placed some batter and sauces on the table for them to dip their
meat into and then retreated, her eyes lingering on Jake as she did.
"Oh yeah," she continued bitterly, once the waitress had left, "Edward also want
ed me to tell you that I'm definitely his type and no model or actress could eve
r replace me." She realized as she finished, that her words were too angry.
"You're so full of it," he challenged her he had caught on.
Bella speared a piece of beef on the end of her fondue fork and stuck it in the
hot oil and then did the same to a piece of shrimp and chicken. "Of course I'm f
ull of it," she sighed, looking back up at him. "Don't you ever interfere with m
y life again, Jacob Black!"
"Whoa," he said, his arms rising in submission, "I was just trying to look out f
or you," he insisted.
"No you weren't," she snapped. "You were looking out for you. If you're interest
ed, fine," she growled, "but don't knock the other men in my life especially my
friends."
"Does that mean you're interested too?"
"In who? You or Edward?" She asked cockily.
"Me," he stated, his chest puffing out.
Rolling her eyes, she pulled her piece of beef from the oil and placed it on her
plate, removing it from the fork. "I don't have time for a man in my life," she
said quietly, peering into his deep brown eyes. "You're a friend, Jake, just li
ke Edward is." Only I want Edward in a whole different way. "I can't give you an
y more than that."
Bella was relieved to find that Jake avoided talking about Edward for the rest o
f the night. As they ate their meals, he spoke about his decision to come to Chi
cago. His good friend, Seth had finished college last year and Jake had been wai
ting, month after month, for him to return to Washington. When he realized he wa
sn't coming back, he decided to move out here to be near him. Jake was in constr
uction, and conversation moved to that as dinner finished and the chocolate fond
ue was delivered to their table.
It was hard for Bella to pay attention to everything that Jake said. To be hones
t, he was a bit boring and she couldn't care less about construction zones and u
nion issues. He was a pipe fitter by trade and Bella had no clue what that was,
so she just smiled and nodded, as she did many times on numerous other dates.
But this time, she let her mind wander to Edward. He had been at the forefront o
f her mind lately; the first thing she thought of when she woke up in the mornin
g and the last thing as she laid her head down to sleep. They hadn't gone a day
without talking or texting in a long time, long enough for her to have stopped c
ounting.
The last text message she received from him was earlier in the day, wishing her
a good time at dinner with her friend. She had smiled when she read it, glad tha
t he, at least, was not calling it a date.
She wondered what the score of the Cubs game was as she dipped a chunk of banana
into the chocolate and placed it in her mouth. Edward would love this place, sh
e thought, moaning from the rich taste of the chocolate. Deciding to bring him h
ere, she smiled, happy to know that they would get to spend time together tomorr
ow. She couldn't wait to see him and to go out with him. Friends, Bella, reel it
in!
But she would have sworn on Monday that Edward felt more for her than friends. T
he way he looked at her and spoke to her about Lauren. She had a feeling that he
didn't tell just anyone all of that. When he held her hand as she spoke about h
er mom and Phil, she felt as if he was reassuring her that he wouldn't do that t
o her.
"Are you all set?" Jake asked as he leaned back in his seat, apparently done eat
ing and talking.
"Sure," she replied, picking her napkin up off her lap and placing it on the tab
le. "I'll remember to wear a looser fitting dress next time I come here," she si
ghed with a smile, letting Jake know that she enjoyed the meal.
"Next time I'll take you to a great Mexican place near my apartment," he said, r
ising after leaving a pile of cash on the table.
Nervously, Bella smiled, not sure what he meant by 'next time'. "Thanks for dinn
er, Jake," she said, deciding to avoid it altogether.
~GO CUBS~
Bella walked into her apartment to find Alice and Rosalie sitting on the couch w
atching 'When Harry Met Sally'. Shaking her head, she chuckled. "I'm going to ch
ange and then I'll be right down."
"Don't take your time," Rosalie called up to her.
Upon coming down the stairs, she grabbed a beer out of the fridge and then sat i
n the lone chair to the right of the couch. "So," Bella started, wondering what
their first question would be.
"Did you kiss him?"
"No."
"Did he kiss you?"
"No."
"Did you want him to kiss you?" Rosalie asked, her eyes narrowing as she stared
at Bella.
"No. I'd stop asking anything about kissing unless you want me to say, 'no', for
the rest of the evening."
"Where did he take you?"
Bella told the girls all about Geja's Café and how good the food was, but differen
t. She explained the different types of fondue and the sauces for the meet and t
hey all agreed they'd have to go sometime, just the three of them.
"So that was it? Nothing exciting?" Alice asked disappointed.
"He's just a friend. Once we stopped talking about Edward, he was actually quite
boring. Maybe that's why I stopped hanging out with him in high school," she mu
sed.
"You talked about Edward with him?" Rosalie asked.
"I kind of played it off that Edward and I got together because of what he said
to me at the Sox game."
"You did?" Alice bounced.
"Yes," Bella said, throwing a throw pillow at her. "But he caught on to the lie,
" she shrugged. "And then I told him that just like Edward and I, he and I were
only friends and that's all we could be."
"And that's that?" Alice said with wonder in her voice.
"Yup, that's that."
"So," Rosalie started with a smirk, "tell us about Edward now."
"What about him?"
"Is he just a friend too?"
Eyes darting over to Alice, Bella blushed, wondering if her friend had said anyt
hing to Rosalie. "I've got to get to bed," Bella hurried out as she stood, not w
anting to talk about him because she was afraid she'd reveal too much, making it
more real. Once she had admitted to herself for feeling something for Edward, t
he feelings just seemed to grow. And after starting to tell Alice about it on Tu
esday night made it even worse. She wasn't sure what she'd do if her feelings gr
ew even more . . . she already was fantasizing about him in various states of un
dress, she couldn't handle any more.
"I already packed for you," Alice called out to her as she ascended the stairs.
"Alice!" She groaned, pausing to look down at her friend.
"I promise that I did not buy anything for you today."
"That doesn't make me feel any better," she moaned.
"They were birthday presents for you. I figured I'd give them to you early."
"Uh huh," she mumbled as she stomped the rest of the way to her room.
Chapter 13 May 9, 2009
"You aren't going to talk to me about him?" Alice said sadly, resigned.
"There just isn't anything to talk about," Bella sighed, staring out the window
of Alice's Jetta as they drove north on I94. They were a little over an hour awa
y from Milwaukee and so far, the first half of the trip wasn't so bad. She was e
ven starting to relax, thinking she was going to be able to avoid the dreaded qu
estion, yet here it was Alice had finally brought him up.
"I know that what you and your parents went through was difficult," Alice began
and Bella glared at her, threatening her with her eyes. "No," Alice said firmly.
"You don't get to do that. You're my best friend and I love you. I'm not going
to let you throw a good thing away."
"And this good thing would be?" Bella asked sarcastically.
Alice exhaled, her teeth biting down into her bottom lip a habit she had picked
up from watching Bella do it too many times. "Edward is a great guy. I know he h
as a pretty shady past, but don't we all?"
"I can count on one hand how many men I've slept with, I doubt he could do the s
ame."
"Actually, Bella, I think the answer to that would be zero."
Bella tried to hold back her snigger, but it still came out and Alice smiled bri
ghtly at her. "Listen, he's not the first guy to have a one-night-stand okay, a
lot more than one, but he's not the first and he won't be the last. Every guy yo
u've met has probably had at least one."
When those words didn't hit a mark in Bella's brain, Alice continued. "Even you
have had one."
That hurt. Yes, Bella Swan had one one-night-stand and she regretted every momen
t of it. It wasn't her finest moment, but she learned from it and she swore she'
d never do it again. "You can't compare me and my one mistake with a man who has
lived in a constant state of revolving doors."
As soon as the words left her lips, she felt a burst of pain break out in her he
art guilt. What was she doing? Edward was her friend. He had become a close frie
nd, and he would be hurt if he ever heard the words she had just spoken. She fel
t like crap.
"I didn't mean that," she muttered, tears threatening in her eyes.
"I know you didn't." Alice reached her hand across the center console and grabbe
d a hold of one of Bella's. "Don't let your anger for your mom and Phil Dwyer cl
oud your feelings for Edward. That's all I'm trying to say."
"I just don't know how to feel," Bella sighed, turning her head to look at her g
ood friend. "Sometimes it's hard for me to stay away and keep my hands off him.
It's as if some animal wants to take control and attack. Not in a bad way," she
leered, "in a very bad way, if you know what I mean." Bella looked over to Alice
and saw her nodding with a knowing smile on her face.
"And others?" Alice prompted.
"Other times, I just want to crawl into his lap and let him hold me. He has this
side to him that . . . I don't know . . . he seems so cold and distant one minu
te, and the next, he's compassionate and caring loving. Sometimes, I think he ca
n see into my soul."
"You love him."
"Oh, no," Bella said, holding up a hand to silence Alice. "Don't go there. I can
't even admit to having feelings for the guy, there's no way I'm going to jump t
o that."
"Silly, Bella," Alice laughed sweetly. "You just did admit to having feelings fo
r him."
Inhaling slowly, Bella looked back out the side window. "I guess I did," she mum
bled.
"So, are you going to tell me about his kisses?"
"Come on, Alice," Bella groaned.
"I've seen the pictures "
"So has everyone else," Bella interrupted. "They were innocent."
"They didn't look very innocent. I mean, you must've felt something."
A faint tinge of red covered Bella's cheeks and Alice squealed. "I knew it! Fire
works? Sparks? You told me there weren't any!"
"There aren't. Well, I wouldn't call it that."
"So what would you call it?"
Turning her head to stare out the window once more, Bella thought of the feel of
Edward's lips against hers. It had been a while since they had kissed, but her
lips tingled from the memory and a wave of heat coursed through her blood. "A ru
sh," she whispered.
"A rush of what?"
"I don't know." Bella turned back to look at Alice. "It's like this force that s
tarts in my chest and then rushes down through my body and into my toes."
Alice didn't say anything, but her smile grew even larger, if that were possible
. They rode in silence for a while, listening to some songs on Alice's iPod. Aft
er a while, Bella turned to Alice with a frown on her face.
"Please don't say anything to Emmett or Jazz. I don't want anything to get back
to Edward and have it ruin our friendship."
"Do you really think that Edward isn't interested in you for more than friendshi
p?" Alice asked incredulously.
"We're just friends, Alice."
"But I've seen the way he looks at you." When Bella rolled her eyes, she continu
ed. "You want more, right?"
"I don't know. The thing that scares me is all the traveling he does. What's to
stop him from hooking up with other girls on the road?" It was on the tip of her
tongue to use his slip-up in St. Louis as an example, but she kept her mouth cl
osed. She would never betray his trust like that.
"You don't think Jazz has the opportunity to do that as well?"
"Of course he does and I'm sure it drives you crazy. I don't want to live like t
hat. I don't want to live my life wondering the whole time if the man I love is
fooling around with other women."
"The man you love?" Alice cocked an eye in Bella's direction.
"I was using you and Jazz as my reference. You are in love with him, right?"
"Of course," Alice beamed.
"Well, I don't think I could go through that. It would be like torture."
"It's not torture," Alice said softly and Bella listened carefully. Alice wasn't
quiet very often and when she was, she normally had something very important to
say.
"I trust Jazz with my whole life. I don't think you can truly love someone if yo
u don't trust them, Bella. I know that your mom betrayed your dad's trust and Ph
il Dwyer betrayed hers, but you have to ask yourself if any of them truly loved
the other.
"Don't answer that right now," Alice said hurriedly. "Think about it. I know tha
t Jazz will never cheat on me. Do I worry about women coming onto him? All the t
ime! I know he's no Edward Masen," she giggled, "but he has his own following of
girls."
"How can you know without any doubt?" Bella inquired.
"We're honest with each other and never hide anything. The secret to complete tr
ust is having no secrets. When Jazz returns from a road trip, the first thing we
do is tell each other everything about our time apart. He tells me about female
fans all the time, Bella. You might think it's masochistic of me to want to kno
w, but it helps me, it really does."
"That's the first thing you two do when he returns?" Bella asked sarcastically a
nd Alice laughed.
"Okay, not the first," she winked, "but the second. Listen, I know that it's goi
ng to take a lot for you to learn to trust someone like Edward and that's okay.
Not all relationships go by the same time-line. Take things slow with him, build
on the friendship you two have going and learn to trust him a little at a time.
"
"So you think I should just give in and go for him, warning bells be damned?"
"If the biggest warning bell is the fear of him cheating on you, then yes. That
doesn't mean you go blindly into a relationship and never talk to him about the
things that bother you. You would definitely have to discuss every issue with hi
m and make sure he's clear on how you feel and what is and is not acceptable, bu
t I think passing up someone who makes you feel the way you described would be a
bigger mistake."
"I've never felt anything like this with anyone," Bella sighed. "I never knew th
ese feelings existed."
"I felt the same way when I first met Jazz." Alice concentrated on the road for
a while, letting everything sink into Bella's head.
"Now that I've told you everything, are you going to leave Edward and I alone, l
et us figure all this out on our own?"
"I promise not to interfere anymore," Alice pouted. "I know what I did on Tuesda
y wasn't right. I just got a bit carried away forgive me?"
"Of course. But you didn't have to go through all that trouble. Edward and I are
friends, all you had to do was invite us out to dinner and we would have gladly
come."
"I know, but I wanted you to realize how much you miss him when he's not around.
"
Bella's eyebrows shot up as she stared at her friend. "For real? You didn't thin
k I'd realize that while he was on the road for a week?"
"It hasn't been a week, Bella," Alice giggled.
"It may as well have been," she mumbled and Alice beamed from the seat next to h
er. "Shut up," Bella groaned.
Now that Bella had admitted her feelings for Edward, it was hard to keep them al
l inside. There was an energy running through her, wanting to talk about nothing
but Edward, but she held back because she didn't want to come across as a crazy
, psychotic stalker which was what she felt like now as they rode up to Milwauke
e to watch him play ball.
"We should arrive a little before ten," Alice spoke up a few minutes later, chan
ging the topic. "I'm not sure what the guys are going to want to do, but the Mil
ler Brewery gives tours."
"That's cool," Bella said in a daze. She was too busy thinking about Edward and
wondering how he was doing to pay attention. It was a blow on Tuesday night when
he didn't want to come in and finish their conversation, she really didn't want
to say goodbye; she wasn't ready. And now, four days later, she was eager to se
e him again.
It was pretty quiet the rest of the ride up to Milwaukee, and Bella fell asleep
for the last thirty minutes, waking up when they reached Milwaukee as she felt t
he car slow down dramatically when they exited the highway.
"Can you look out your window for the hotel?" Alice asked as Bella rubbed the sl
eep from her eyes.
"Sure, what's it called again?"
"The Pfister Hotel."
"Is it on this street?"
"Should be a couple blocks ahead."
"I'll text Edward," Bella said, happy to finally have a reason to contact him. A
lice and Jazz had been corresponding all morning, leaving her no reason to call
or text Edward.
We'll be there in a couple of minutes.
It only took seconds for his reply to come through.
We're in the lobby.
Alice pulled the car up to the Pfister hotel and a bell hop immediately scurried
out to help the girls with their bags as a man came over to exchange a valet ti
cket for Alice's keys. The doorman opened the door for them and once they walked
in Alice squealed as she caught sight of Jazz standing in the corner, waiting.
Throwing herself at Jazz, Alice bounded into his arms and they started kissing,
leaving Edward and Bella to awkwardly say hello with a quick hug, kissing each o
ther's cheeks. Bella's lips lingered a little longer than they probably should h
ave but she just couldn't resist he smelled of aftershave and the raspberry gum
that he was chewing.
Holding out her hand, Bella silently asked for a piece and Edward chuckled, pull
ing his pack out and handing her one. "Looks like I'll have to buy you a six-pac
k too," he said, flashing his crooked smile as she slowly put the gum into her m
outh, savoring the flavor that she now thought of as, 'Edward'.
"We'll take those," Edward said, grabbing the three bags from the bellhop, "they
're already checked-in.
"Wow," Bella gasped from beside Edward, catching his attention, "it's beautiful.
" Her eyes scanned the hotel, noting the gold accents and rich tones of the wood
, furniture, and elaborate staircases before settling her gaze on the painted ce
iling overhead. It wasn't the Sistine Chapel, but it was still beautiful.
"This place is pretty old, the floors creak and the pipes moan." He smiled as sh
e fell into step beside him.
Once they made it to the room she'd be staying in, Edward gave her the key and b
rought her bag in. Alice and Jazz had gone directly to their room and Bella coul
d just imagine what they were doing.
"So," Bella said, opening the blinds and looking out the window to the street be
low. "What do you have planned for this morning?"
"Nothing." He looked down at the street, standing right next to her, but his eye
s lingered on her. "Is there anything that you and Alice want to do?"
"She had mentioned going on a brewery tour, but I'm not sure when the two of the
m will resurface."
"It's been a long four days," he whispered.
"Yeah, it has," she said quietly before sitting down on the large bed in the cen
ter of the room, picking up the remote to the TV, and turning it on. "We can wat
ch a movie," she suggested.
"Actually, that's not a bad idea. It's a couple hours until lunch time and they
should be ready by then." Strolling over to the bed, Edward laid down next to wh
ere Bella sat, crossing his arms behind his head, his legs crossed at his ankles
. "They have a whole slew of movies you can order from."
"Okay, let's see what they've got." Bella took her shoes off and lay back agains
t the headboard, adjusting herself until she was comfortable. "What kind of movi
e are you in the mood for?"
"Nothing too girly," he smirked as she lingered on '27 Dresses', and she giggled
.
"Oh look! 'Princess Bride'!"
"You're lucky there's sword fights in it Swan, otherwise I'd have to tickle you
for control of the remote," he said mischievously, his hands coming to hover abo
ve her sides.
"You wouldn't dare!"
"I said you were lucky," he huffed. "But watch it; I may not be so generous next
time."
"Be quiet and watch the movie," she chuckled, playfully pushing his hands away a
nd then pushing a button on the remote to order the movie.
It was the first time the two of them ever sat down and watched a movie together
where they were both awake. The only other time they had tried was when Bella w
as sick and she slept through most, if not all, of it.
This time, the two of them quoted the movie word-for-word, laughing at their fav
orite parts and butchering Inigo's accent. At the end of the movie, they found t
hemselves curled up next to each other, their bodies barely touching.
When Bella turned off the TV and the room was filled with silence, the charge in
the air between them became increasingly noticeable and she attempted to breath
e normally while she argued with herself over her feelings for Edward.
"Thanks for the movie," he finally said, lifting his hand to brush a strand of h
air off Bella's cheek, placing it behind her ear.
The path his fingers trailed along her skin burned and she stared at him, wantin
g him to lean in to her. He hesitated a moment as his fingers lingered and then
he pulled back. "We should go pound on their door. We don't have much time until
Jazz and I need to be at the park."
"Right," she sputtered. "Am I dressed okay for lunch?"
"You look perfect," he gushed with a crooked smile.
A few minutes later, Edward and Bella were at Jazz's room, knocking on the door.
They heard a few giggles and then Jazz groaning about something and Bella looke
d at Edward, holding in her laughter, shaking her head.
"Maybe we should just ditch them," she mused. "I have a feeling they aren't quit
e ready to go eat."
The door opened suddenly to reveal Jazz wearing a plush white bathrobe. "Sorry g
uys," he said distractedly. "We're gonna order room service."
"So," Edward started after Jazz closed the door, "what are you in the mood for?"
They decided to walk around the city to find something since neither of them had
a preference for anything in particular. They ended up at a Chinese restaurant
overlooking the river and Edward got up the nerve to ask about her date the nigh
t before.
At first Bella was hesitant in sharing much about it, considering they talked a
lot about him, but she finally relaxed. "The food was amazing," she told him and
then went into full detail of everything they ate.
"I think Garrett and Kate have been there," Edward said before he took a bite of
his ham fried rice.
"We have to go sometime, you'll love it! It was nice and cozy and dark . . ." sh
e trailed off, not finishing her sentence. She was about to say that it was roma
ntic.
"How did everything go with Jake?"
Bella shrugged. "It was a little awkward, but I think he understands now that I
only want to be his friend."
"You're frowning."
"Okay, it was a horrible date happy?"
"Should I be?" Edward chuckled.
"He was just so boring," She griped. "I had thought that I stopped spending time
with him in High School because I had started dating Emmett and I just didn't h
ave time for him as a friend, but after last night . . . well, I think I stopped
hanging out with him because he loves to talk about himself."
When Edward's only response was a sarcastic smirk, she narrowed her eyes at him.
"Don't tell me you've never had to put up with someone who loved to talk about
themselves."
"All the time, actually," he stammered. "It's one of my biggest pet peeves."
"It's such a big turn-off! You know, I didn't look at last night as a real date,
but at the same time, I was disappointed afterwards."
"Are you going to see him again?" Edward's voice sounded funny.
"As friends," she shrugged. "We have plans to go to a couple Cubs-Sox games toge
ther this summer."
"He's a Sox fan, right?"
"He shouldn't be," she muttered. "Did I tell you how fast he abandoned the Marin
ers?" Her voice raised an octave as she spoke and Edward's lips lifted in humor.
"Some people just don't feel the same loyalty to a team as you do," he offered,
but she wasn't buying it.
"Would you abandon the Cubs if you lived in a different city?"
"Bella, if I lived in a different city, it would be because I had been traded. S
o in a way, yes."
"Does that mean you'd never choose to go to a different team?"
"I don't know," he said sluggishly. "I've always been a Cubs fan since I was a k
id, but if I wasn't happy here and I was a free agent . . . I don't know what I'
d do."
"God, Jazz could leave and take Alice with him." Bella looked intensely at Edwar
d. "I didn't think of that."
"Bella, we're both under contract with the Cubs right now, I don't think you hav
e to worry."
"But you can be traded at any time!"
"I wouldn't sweat over it. Here," he sighed, trying to change the subject by off
ering her a fortune cookie.
Not sure which one to pick, Bella closed her eyes before blindly choosing one. "
None of that 'in bed' stuff, Masen."
"What?" He asked as he cracked his cookie open.
"Emmett always adds the words, 'in bed,' to the end of every fortune he gets fro
m these things.
"I knew there was a reason I liked him," he chuckled and then he read his fortun
e, his eyes narrowing on the words in front of him, confused about what it meant
.
"What's it say?"
Looking up from his fortune, Edward responded with a gleam in his eyes. "You fir
st."
"Okay," she said, "'Someone is interested in you. Keep your eyes open'."
"In bed," Edward added with a laugh.
"That just sounds so wrong, like some guy is stalking me and I have to be carefu
l that he doesn't climb into bed with me while I'm asleep." She shuddered purpos
ely and Edward frowned.
"Sorry, I didn't mean for it to sound that way."
"No need to apologize," she snorted before asking him to read his.
"It's lame," he sighed, "'Your sparkle will never fade'."
"In bed," she added for him and then giggled as her blush tinted her cheeks a br
ight red.
"When we were kids, the fortunes actually made sense, these are just odd," he hu
ffed.
They took their time walking back to the hotel, their bodies as close to one ano
ther as they could get without touching. Bella was deep in thought over the conv
ersation she'd had with Alice in the car on the way up, considering whether or n
ot to make a move on Edward. Her fingers twitched as she thought about how easy
it would be to grab a hold of his hand and lace their fingers together. Pulling
her arms up, she crossed them, jailing her hands underneath her arm pits.
"Are you cold?" Edward asked, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and her heart
soared as the rush she had spoken of earlier gushed through her body, envelopin
g her, and turning her into mush.
"Thank you," she whispered, leaning her body further into his. She took a couple
of deep breaths in, rejoicing in his scent. They were both chewing a piece of h
is raspberry gum, so that smell was on him, but she also enjoyed his aftershave
or was it cologne? She wondered. "What are you wearing?" she asked quietly.
"Clothes," he said lethargically, dragging out the 'o' sound in his confusion to
her question.
"No, I mean what scent? It smells nice." Her head bowed down as she timidly look
ed at the ground, shielding herself from his view.
"Woods," he shrugged.
"Hmm, I like it." She nuzzled her face in the shoulder of his shirt and her hear
t stopped as she heard his quicken.
Once back at the hotel, Edward invited Bella up to his room, but she declined, i
nsisting she wanted to take a nap before the game. Instead, Edward walked her to
her room. Upon entering, he walked over to her window and shut her blinds while
she sat on the bed watching him. He was so masculine, every single inch about h
im, and Bella found herself staring at his muscles as they moved beneath his clo
thes.
Admitting her feelings to Alice was obviously the wrong thing to do because she
now couldn't get him out of her head at all. She desperately wanted to pull him
down on the bed with her, covering his body with hers.
"Will you be up late tonight?" Edward asked, pulling her out of her fantasy-haze
d mind.
"Um, yeah, I think so."
"Can I drop by when I get back?" He stood at the foot of her bed, nervously watc
hing the different emotions ghost across her face.
"Yeah," she smiled, "I'd like that."
Edward took the two steps he needed to close in the space between him and Bella
and then bent down, his hand resting against the side of her face as he leaned i
n and kissed her on the forehead. "I'll see you after the game." With that, he w
alked out of her room, closing the door behind him.
Bella kicked off her shoes and lay down on the double bed, her eyes staring up a
t the ceiling. Her heart was beating erratically, unable to calm down from the g
entle touch of his lips on her skin. I'm sorry, Dad.
The last thoughts that crossed through Bella's mind before she fell asleep were
of her dad and how guilty she felt for falling for the enemy. Edward Masen repre
sented everything that she had come to hate, and here she was wanting this man a
replica of her father's nemesis to kiss her, and touch her, and make her his. S
he wanted him badly and she didn't think she could hold back any more.
During her sleep, Bella thought she heard someone in her room and the drawers in
the dresser opening and shutting. Alice, she moaned out in her sleep and then s
he pushed the thoughts of reality out of her head. Rolling over, she moaned and
concentrated on her dream Edward biting along her neck and shoulder. Not long af
ter that, Bella was interrupted by a frantic voice.
"Bella! Bella, wake up! Shit, Bella, why was your door open?"
The cause of the voice was shaking her and she remotely recognized it as being A
lice, but she pushed her hands away and groaned. "Stop interrupting my dream wit
h Edward."
"Bella!" This time, the little pixie's voice was stern with a hint of fear in it
.
Abruptly sitting up in bed, Bella took some time to open her eyes, adjusting to
the bright sun light that poured in from the open blinds. "Why did you open my b
linds? Edward closed them for a reason," she mumbled, still trying to wake up an
d make sense of Alice's urgent tone and expression.
"Bella, the blinds were open when I got here."
"Hmm?" she asked, not comprehending what Alice was trying to say.
"When I got down to your room, your door and the blinds were both wide open. Why
didn't you shut your door? Anyone could've come in here and . . . Bella, I don'
t want to think of what could've happened."
"My door wasn't open," she said agitated. "Edward closed it when he left. I watc
hed him." Running her hand through her messy sleep-hair, she stood up from the b
ed and stretched and then stared at Alice's scared expression. "What?"
"Your door was wide open, Bella. I'm not making it up. I thought maybe you kept
it open for me, and I didn't open your blinds."
"Oh man," Bella breathed out shakily, startled from what she had remembered. "I
thought I heard someone in here earlier. I thought it was you." Bella's eyes nar
rowed on Alice. "Were you going through the dresser drawers, putting my clothes
in them?"
"No," she responded quietly. "Bella, we need to talk to the manager. I think som
eone has been in your room."
~GO CUBS~
The game seemed to drag on, well, in all honesty, it did. Nearly four hours for
nine innings and the Cubs lost to the Brewers, 12-6. Edward didn't hit very well
, his average dropping even more, and he was restless after the game, anxious to
get ready and out of the club house and he wasn't the only one. With Chicago be
ing so close, many families had made the weekend trip to Milwaukee to be with th
eir ball players, waiting for them, just as Bella and Alice were waiting for him
and Jazz.
It was a bit unnerving to know that Bella was at the game because he had no idea
where she was sitting. He scanned the crowd numerous times looking for her or A
lice, but came up empty. He couldn't wait to get back to the hotel and spend mor
e time with her. They'd had such a great time together earlier, even though they
didn't do anything exciting. And that was just it he didn't have to do anything
extravagant with Bella in order to have fun. They could walk around or sit and
talk all day and it was special to him wonderful.
Though Edward and Bella had made great strides with their relationship, Edward s
till wanted to take it slow. In that one moment at the zoo, all he could think a
bout was taking her, claiming her as his own, and he was just about to until she
had pulled away. As disappointing as it was to not get to feel her lips against
his that day, Edward was glad for the interruption. There was one thing he need
ed to do before he could declare his feelings to Bella. There was one thing that
stood in his way; something that could possibly ruin everything for them Jane.
He needed to tell Bella about Jane before the team travelled to San Diego at the
end of the month. The Cubs were scheduled to be there the twenty-second through
the twenty-fourth of May it was approaching too fast. There was no reluctance o
n his part to do what he needed to do; what he wanted to do. With as much fun as
he'd had with Jane in the past, she never meant more to him than a mere acquain
tance, and he was sure she felt the same. Everything about their set-up had been
casual no strings attached, but he still felt uneasy over the whole situation.
"You all right, man?" Jazz asked from the seat next to Edward in the cab.
"Yeah, I'm just thinking." Edward and Jazz had left the club house as early as p
ossible, with Edward's hair still wet, to get back to the women waiting for them
.
"Excited to get back to Bella?"
The subject of women was one they didn't discuss much. Edward had always been cl
osed off on it before. But now, with the way his feelings for Bella had been mat
uring, Edward found himself wanting to talk about nothing but Bella. "Yeah," he
sighed, not really sure how to talk to Jazz about his feelings.
"She's pretty amazing."
That was an understatement, where Edward was concerned. Bella was more than amaz
ing but there really weren't enough words to describe her. She had a brilliant p
ersonality that just mesmerized Edward, drawing him in like a vampire to a blood
y wound, she was secure in her intelligence, not afraid to let others know there
was a brain behind the beautiful face and shapely body, and she had a certain w
it that both amused and astounded Edward. She was perfect.
"Yes," Edward agreed, "she's amazing."
Stepping out of the taxi and walking into the Pfister Hotel, the first thing Edw
ard wanted to do was go to his room and change into some comfortable clothes bef
ore heading over to Bella's room. But as he walked into the lobby with Jazz, the
y both halted in their tracks, shocked by what they saw.
Bella and Alice sat curled up into each other on a couch in the lobby, a yellow
blanket wrapped around them. They looked frightened, and as soon as they noticed
the men, they both jumped up and ran over to them. Alice threw her arms around
Jazz and Bella didn't hesitate once as she threw her arms around Edward's waist,
burrowing her head into his chest.
Edward's arms wrapped around her, pulling her closer into him, rubbing her back,
trying to comfort her. He looked over at Jazz, a questioning look in his eyes a
nd Jazz shrugged in response. "What's wrong, sweetheart?" Edward asked, his lips
pressing a kiss on the top of her head. When Bella looked up, Edward could see
unshed tears in her eyes and his heart crumbled. What had happened to her?
"Let's sit down," Jazz said with concern, leading Alice to the couch and then si
tting down and pulling her into his lap.
Edward brought Bella over to the couch, but he sat down next to her, his arm wra
pped around her as she leaned into him. She was definitely frightened by somethi
ng, which only worried him more.
"You tell them," Bella squeezed out, staring at Alice.
"After you guys left for the park," Alice began slowly, "I went down to hang out
with Bella. When I got to her room, the door was wide open and she was asleep o
n the bed with the blinds open."
Edward shifted his gaze to look at Bella, who had turned to look up at him. He k
new he had closed the door and he couldn't think of any reason why Bella would h
ave opened it up before taking her nap. "I closed it when I left," he said quiet
ly, his eyes turning back to Alice.
"That's what Bella said. And the blinds," she said pointedly, "she said you had
closed them."
"Right," he responded as his heart started to beat faster.
"And the drawers, Alice, don't forget the drawers."
"You'll have to tell them that part, Bella, I didn't hear it."
When everyone looked at Bella, she took a deep breath and began to speak. "While
I was sleeping, I swore I heard someone opening up the drawers in the dresser.
I thought it was just Alice putting my clothes away, so I ignored it and went ba
ck to sleep."
"Was anything missing from your room?" Edward asked, one arm rubbing over Bella'
s back, the other one squeezing her closer into him.
"No, everything was just as I had left it."
"We should talk to the hotel manager," he decided, ready to head over to the fro
nt desk.
"We already have," Alice stopped him. "They sent a couple of people up to the ro
om and everything is fine. There was no forced entry, and no evidence of anyone
being in there."
"There's more," Bella shivered and Edward tightened his hold on her. "When we go
t back from the game, we were hanging out in the room and there were noises."
Edward froze when she mentioned the noises. He had heard some strange things the
night before, but passed it off to having odd dreams. Not only that, but there
were all the other stories he had heard from other people on their team as well
as other ball players in the league. "I don't think anyone was in your room, Bel
la," Edward said with concern.
"Come on, Edward, do you really believe all those stories?" Jazz had finally spo
ken, knowing full well what Edward was talking about.
"That's exactly like the story that Crowley told us last year after staying here
."
"What do you mean?" Bella asked, snuggling closer into Edward.
"There are tons of ghost stories about the Pfister Hotel. Even Tony LaRussa beli
eves the hotel's haunted."
Both women shivered as he spoke and Jazz rolled his eyes before showing his anno
yance with his friend with a grimace. "Don't listen to him," he drawled out, pul
ling Alice in closer to him.
"It's not just me, Jazz," Edward huffed. "There're a couple players on our team
who are doubling up in their rooms because they're frightened and we're not the
only team that stays in the Pfister. Ask around the league, a lot of guys from d
ifferent teams have experienced weird things even some of the Brewers who've sta
yed here during the off-season are freaked out about this place."
"What happened to Crowley last year?" Bella asked, her skin paler than normal.
"He swears he shut his door and even closed the hinge over the bolt before he we
nt to bed one night, and when he was woken up by strange noises that sounded lik
e something banging around he noticed that the door to his room was wide open."
Edward was smacked in the back of the head by Jazz and he jerked his head to loo
k at him. "What was that for?"
"For scaring the ladies," Jazz bit in his southern accent.
"Wait," Alice said, squaring her shoulders and shooting daggers at Jazz with her
eyes. "You had us come up here to Milwaukee to stay in a haunted hotel?"
"Baby, it's not haunted. Edward and some of the guys just let their imaginations
run wild sometimes."
"I didn't imagine the door being open, Jazz!" Alice seethed.
"And I shut the door behind me, I know I did," Edward said quietly, looking down
at Bella.
"He did, I watched it shut." Bella turned her head to Jazz. "The door and the bl
inds were both closed when I fell asleep." Her fingers nervously played with a b
utton on Edward's shirt.
"You can't stay in that room alone tonight. Edward," Alice said, turning her ple
ading eyes on him. "You can't let her stay there alone."
"I saw a Motel 6 not too far from here," Bella interjected. "I could get a room
there for the night."
"No." Edward turned to look at her. "I'll make sure everything's safe for you."
"But if it's haunted, there's nothing you can do."
They stared at each other for a moment, all four of them silent. Edward did not
want her staying at a different hotel but it did make sense. There was something
not right with the Pfister, and he definitely believed that, but he also knew t
hat she'd be safe. The strange occurrences were unnerving, but there had never b
een anything malicious done, that he knew of.
"I could sleep on your floor," he said, uneasily. He really didn't want her to b
e so far away tonight, but if she preferred to move to the Motel 6, then he'd he
lp her check in and carry her bag over for her.
"How about your room?" She asked. "Has anything strange happened in there?"
"There were some loud noises last night, but my door stayed closed."
"Which room do you think would be better?"
He wasn't expecting her to go along with them sharing a room and his heart leape
d into his throat from the excitement that coursed through his veins. "Which eve
r is easiest for you?"
"You're closer to Jazz, right?"
"He's just a few doors down from me."
"Can we stay in your room?" Bella asked shyly, her forehead pressed against Edwa
rd's shoulder as she looked down at her fingers, which still played with his but
ton.
~GO CUBS~
Edward stared in the bathroom mirror as he brushed his teeth. He had brought Bel
la back to her room to gather all of her things before bringing her to his room.
She took her time in the bathroom while he changed into some shorts and a blue
Cubs t-shirt and then they switched.
Bella had been so frightened earlier and as worried as he was, he was also elate
d that she threw herself into his arms; he wanted nothing more than to comfort h
er and to hold her all night. And now she lay in his bed dressed in the cutest M
innie Mouse tank top and skimpy sleep shorts they must've been the pajamas that
Alice got her from Florida.
Having her in his room all night would be dangerous though. He wasn't sure if he
could keep himself from touching her, holding her . . . stick to the floor! If
he could just stay on the floor, he should be fine, but if he were in that bed w
ith her . . . no, he wouldn't let himself think about that. Great, now look what
you did.
Sitting on the closed seat of the toilet, Edward leaned his head back against th
e wall and closed his eyes. Old men in thongs, baseball, Newton dancing naked in
the locker room . . . It didn't take long for him to get his arousal under cont
rol and then he took a deep breath in, opened the bathroom door and walked into
his hotel room.
Bella sat up in his bed leaning back against the headboard, the blankets pulled
up to her waist. "Are you ready for bed?" He asked her, unsure if she was tired
or wanted to stay up.
"I don't think I could fall asleep right now," she whispered.
"Would you like to watch TV?" Edward grabbed the remote and was about to turn th
e TV on until her voice stopped him.
"No, actually," she said, patting the bed beside her, "I thought maybe we could
talk."
"Sure," he replied as he made his way to the side of the bed and then sat down o
n top of the covers, leaning back, just as she was, against the headboard. "What
did you want to talk about?"
"Anything really," her voice shook and then she spoke more surely, "actually, we
never finished our conversation from Tuesday night."
"That's right," Edward smiled. "What were we talking about again?"
Bella scooted down into the bed, leaning her head back on her pillow, and then t
urned on her side to face him. "You were just about to tell me about the crazies
t flirts you've encountered."
"Oh man, that's right."
"You said there were all different types. So tell me, what types are there?"
"Some aren't so bad, just your basic flirting, but others . . ." He paused think
ing if telling her all of this would set them back any or not. Honesty. The one
word hung in his head, dangling around, taunting him. He needed to be honest if
he had any chance at a relationship with her.
"Others?" She coaxed him.
"Let's just say that some aren't so subtle."
"You're not playing nice," she pouted and he scooted down further into his pillo
w to join her.
"Well, sometimes they're very touchy-feely, and I don't just mean a simple gestu
re of their hand on my arm."
"Where do they touch you?"
Edward saw the anger flash through her brown eyes and he smiled. "Are you jealou
s, Swan?"
"Tiuh! No!" Bella's facial expression and rapidly beating heart betrayed her and
Edward's smile turned soft.
"They touch my legs, hair, face, chest, ass, and . . . well . . ."
"They don't!" she interrupted. "That's not flirting, that's sexual assault!"
Exhaling loudly, Edward thought of how the wives and girlfriends of other player
s handled things. He knew that Esme and Carlisle had a policy that he wasn't sup
posed to tell her about the blatant flirting from women fans, but he also didn't
put himself in any position to get hit on. On the other hand, Jazz and Alice, f
rom what he had gathered, were extremely open and Jazz told her everything. They
were the two extremes and he suddenly wished he had Garrett right there to talk
to about this he needed a third example.
"Bella, I don't allow girls to touch me like that . . . well, what I'm trying to
say is that I let them know I don't appreciate that type of attention."
"Not to all of them," she cut in.
"Why would you think that?" He frowned over at her, wondering why she thought he
'd enjoy that type of attention.
"Well, you obviously appreciate some of their attentions or you wouldn't have th
e reputation you have."
"My reputation," he said dryly. "Shall we go over how I got my reputation?"
"We don't "
"No, I don't mind," he said tersely and he noticed Bella stiffen next to him. He
became alarmed when he noticed he was scaring her. "I'm sorry Bella," he frowne
d. I think this is something we should talk about though." He needed to tell her
everything and suddenly, he wasn't afraid to, at least the little stuff he'd ge
t to Jane eventually.
"But," he continued, "if I'm going to share all the gory details of my past, I'd
like the same back."
"I'm sure my past would bore you," she chuckled.
"I'll be the judge of that," he winked.
"Okay, then, why don't you start with your reputation?"
"I've told you about Lauren," he scowled down at her. "After she and I broke up,
I swore I'd never fall for another blood-sucking fan again. She sucked every ou
nce of life I had right out of me. I had stopped hanging out with my friends for
her and her pseudo friends and my parents had also taken second-fiddle to her f
amily when it came to holidays."
"You fell hard," Bella whispered and he smiled dryly.
"I guess you could say that. I swore I'd never let anyone get close to me again.
One-night-stands were pretty much all I had. Or sometimes, I'd spend a weekend,
a week, or even a couple of weeks with someone if they were totally clueless as
to who I was or what I did for a living. But as soon as the next road trip came
, I'd disappear and never contact them again."
"How did you avoid the annoying phone calls or them showing up at your condo?"
"I never gave them my phone number it shows up as private and I've never had a g
irl in my condo before."
"Except for Lauren?"
"No, not even her. I bought the place after we had broken up."
Turning on his side, Edward made himself more comfortable and Bella motioned for
him to get under the covers with her. "You don't mind?"
"No, it's fine."
After getting comfortable under the covers, Edward turned to look at her. Their
faces were so close, yet they still seemed so far apart. "Well, I'm sure you've
heard of the two women," he started back up again, looking at her face for recog
nition of what he spoke about.
"Yes, I read about that. You were with two girls and a reporter knocked on your
door, getting a beautiful picture of you with them."
"Well, to be honest, I don't remember the night at all. I was out with a couple
of guys from the team having fun and then the next thing I remember is the pound
ing on the door. My question is why was a reporter banging on my door and how di
d he know which room was mine?"
"One of the girls called him," Bella grimaced.
"That's the only thing I can think of too."
"You seriously don't remember any of it?" She asked confused.
"Nothing."
"How much had you been drinking?"
"A couple of beers, nothing major. I normally don't go out and get drunk on nigh
ts when I have a game in the morning. I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, but
it's not normal for me." He immediately thought of the night in St. Louis, it w
as totally out of character for him for both things. He usually didn't drink to
get drunk and he also didn't just run off with a girl not knowing her name or an
ything about her. He usually took his time with a lady and talked to them first,
or at least flirted a little, and at the very least asked for a name.
"I know it's not normal for you," Bella mused and Edward wondered where her mind
was. She seemed to be thinking deeply about something. "You never heard from th
e girls again?"
"No," he shrugged, "like I said, I never gave out my phone number or address."
"But with the picture, and if they did call the reporter themselves, they could
have contacted him again, which would get them to you, if they needed to."
"What are you trying to get at?" He asked because he could literally see the whe
els turning in her head.
"It all just seems so suspect, you know? Ah, never mind," she laughed. "I have a
n overactive imagination."
"So, your turn," he said with a yawn.
"You seem tired," she frowned. "I don't want to keep you up too late."
"I thought I was clear earlier today," he teased as his fingers lightly grazed h
er side, getting ready to tickle.
"Okay," she gasped with a laugh. "My life is so boring. You know about Emmett,"
she shrugged. "After him, I had a boyfriend in college named Sean. We dated for
a couple of years, but after finding him in bed with my so-called best friend, w
ell, that was the end of that."
"He cheated on you with your best friend?"
"Yeah," she sighed. "I should have known better. They had been going behind my b
ack for months."
"And after that?" he prodded.
"After that, I graduated from college and lived in Seattle until my parents died
. Emmett flew out for the funerals and planted the bug in my head to move to Chi
cago. A couple months later, I hopped on a plane."
"And other than all the blind dates Alice set you up on, you haven't had anythin
g serious?"
"No, not serious," she replied unsteadily. "When I got to Chicago I was mad at t
he world and didn't quite do things the way I would have wanted."
"How's that?" He queried, wondering why she had blushed.
"I kind of got drunk one night and brought a guy home." She exhaled loudly and E
dward could tell it was a sore subject for her. "I had never done anything like
that before."
"A one-night-stand?"
"Yeah. I felt so empty afterwards and dirty. I didn't even recognize myself. Tha
t's when I got out of my miserable slump and started to focus on my friends and
my love for them."
"And since then?"
"You're going to make me say it, aren't you?"
"Say what?" he asked bewildered.
"No one has mentioned the name 'Danny' to you?"
"No," he shook his head.
"Fine," she mumbled. "After my one-night-stand, I thought I found the man of my
dreams. He was the perfect boyfriend," she rolled her eyes. "I should have seen
it coming that time."
"Seen what coming?"
"He cheated on me," she groaned, her face turning bright red.
"Not your best friend this time, I hope," he smirked.
Bella snorted. "No, but I'm sure he would have been all too thrilled to have bee
n with Emmett."
Edward's eyes opened wide in shock. "He was gay?"
"Apparently," she chuckled.
"Did you?"
"Have sex with him? Yes. And yes, we did use protection and I did get tested. An
d just so you know, anyone who has casual sex needs to do both those things." Wh
en he didn't respond, she peered into his eyes. "Do you use protection?"
"Always," he responded calmly.
"Even the one time you blacked out and don't remember?"
"There were used condoms in the trashcan," he muttered. "So," he said brightly,
trying to change the mood of their conversation. "How long has it been for you?"
"You didn't just ask me that," Bella moaned. When she saw that he was serious, s
he responded automatically. "A little over two years."
"Don't look at me that way," she scolded Edward when she saw his look of shock.
"I'm not looking at you in any way," he whispered as his hand lifted to move a l
ock of hair from her face. As his fingers made contact with her skin, he swallow
ed hard, his breathing shaky as desire coursed through him, thankful for the cov
ers hiding the evidence. "I'm impressed," he whispered, looking down at her lips
.
"Edward," she sighed as her hand moved to rest on his chest and his throbbing ne
ed began to ache. "It's been a long time for me." Bella's eyes shifted to Edward
's lips and he licked them in anticipation, waiting for her as he watched her le
an in toward him.
Jane.
What's one kiss? He argued with himself. I can tell her about Jane later. But hi
s heart cramped up and his breathing became unsteady. Honesty! That word started
fighting against the throbbing in his shorts and he closed his eyes and took a
deep breath in, leaning his forehead against Bella's.
Bella's hand gripped at his shirt and she placed her lips against his. A fire ig
nited in Edward's heart and he wrapped an arm around Bella's body, pulling her i
n closer to him, their lips moving ardently against each other. It was their fir
st kiss, a kiss that was only between the two of them and not for any benefit or
gain on either's part.
This kiss was better than anything he could ever have imagined, better than any
kiss they had ever shared and while their lips moved together and Bella opened u
p to him, he sucked in her flavor, inhaling her breath as he opened his mouth. A
low moan escaped Bella's throat as their tongues found each other. His heart ra
ced as he deepened the kiss, moving against her more urgently as Bella's hand li
fted from his shirt to run through his hair. You have to stop this!
Edward suddenly pulled away from Bella, leaning his forehead against hers once m
ore and they laid in silence, listening to the sound of their heavy breathing. T
heir hearts beat against each other through their heaving chests and Edward felt
sick to his stomach at what he needed to do. He hadn't expected her to give int
o him so quickly, he thought he still had time to tell her, but he didn't, and h
e needed to get everything out in the open right now. Otherwise, the secret woul
d linger between them, eventually breaking them apart.
"I need to tell you about something," he strangled out. "About someone."
Chapter 14 May 9 11, 2009
"I'm not looking at you in any way," Edward whispered while his hand lifted to m
ove a lock of hair from Bella's face. At the feel of his fingers against her ski
n, a wave of excitement sped through her body, rushing down to her toes, her pan
ties instantly becoming wet. "I'm impressed," he continued and Bella noticed him
look at her parted lips.
Moving her hand to Edward's chest, she leaned in closer to him. "Edward," she si
ghed, "it's been a long time for me." Her eyes shifted to his mouth, watching hi
s tongue sneak out and wet his lips and she leaned in more. There was no longer
any doubt in her mind that she wanted Edward Masen and she wanted him badly. All
her inhibitions were gone, erased by not only Alice's words of wisdom, but from
how wonderful of a person he had turned out to be.
And the honesty! She was so amazed with how open he had been with her. She never
expected him to be so forthcoming it actually made her want him even more, if t
hat was possible. To listen to him talk about his sordid past, to know that he s
poke of everything in past-tense, and to know that he wanted something more out
of life and out of a woman than just sex. God, could he be more perfect?
Edward leaned in closer to her as she stared at his lips and then, before she kn
ew it, his forehead was pressed against hers. Gulping down the excitement that s
hot out from her heart to her throat, Bella moved through the last bit of space
to place her lips against his, grabbing his shirt and pulling him even closer.
They had kissed a few times before, but nothing had prepared her for the burning
hunger that blew up in her heart. It was almost painful, but pleasurable; and t
hen, just as quickly as it exploded, it shot down to her center and her wet pant
ies became soaked.
When Edward wrapped his arms around her and pulled her up against him, she opene
d up to him, exhaling as her tongue sought his. The flavor of minty toothpaste a
ssaulted her senses and she moaned from deep within her throat, clinging to this
man that set every sense of hers on edge.
Bella's hand traveled up to stroke through Edward's hair, pulling him in closer,
and then, without warning, Edward suddenly broke away from her lips and she imm
ediately felt empty, alone, and alarmed. Shit, shit, shit! What have I done? I j
ust attacked Edward! Fuck! Shit!
Awkwardly remaining in Edward's arms, Bella swallowed the bile that threatened t
o escape. Had she just ruined their friendship? Would he let her down easily, or
play it off as if it hadn't happened? My God, I'm such an idiot! As her labored
breaths began to calm down, her hold on him loosened but he held onto her still
and she silently wished she could disappear. And then he spoke.
"I need to tell you about something . . . about someone." His words sounded tort
ured, as if he were in pain, and Bella froze, sensing the seriousness of what he
was about to say.
Both of them pulled back from the other, peering into each other's eyes, Bella s
eeking answers, wondering what was going on. Who did he need to tell her about?
Why was this person so important that he would stop kissing her . . . Shit!
Immediately, Bella's thoughts went down hill, thinking that he had a girlfriend,
and she started cursing him in her mind, angry at him for playing with her emot
ions. But it didn't make sense to her. He didn't have a girlfriend, he couldn't
have a girlfriend. He had just recently decided that he wanted a relationship he
only recently gave up on casual sex.
Maybe he had decided that he wanted to go back to that life of ambiguity, a life
where he could fuck someone one minute and then walk away, never looking back t
he next. Maybe he liked that lifestyle so much better than the thought of a real
relationship and all the problems that come along with one.
"Bella," he started, "there's something that I need to tell you," he breathed ou
t, one of his hands lingering on her waist beneath the covers. Clenching his eye
s shut, he took a moment and sighed deeply before opening them again, and captur
ing her eyes, penetrating into their depths, searching for a flicker of hope tha
t he would not lose her. "Can you promise to listen to everything I have to say?
"
"Sure," she replied, alarmed and confused. Deep in her stomach, her insides star
ted to knot together. She knew this was going to be bad and she internally began
to prepare herself for the blow.
Edward sat up in the bed, leaning his head back against the headboard and looked
down at his hands that now sat in his lap. The coolness of the air that replace
d his hold on Bella chilled her and she shivered slightly. Covering herself with
more of the blankets, she remained down on the bed, her head burrowed in her pi
llow as she stared up at the man who had unraveled her entire being.
"A couple years ago I met a woman in San Diego." Edward's eyes shot to Bella's t
rying to gauge her reaction, but still not sure if she understood where he was g
oing with this. He turned to his side and scooted down a little under the covers
so he could get a better look at her. "Bella, I've wanted to tell you about her
for so long but something always gets in the way."
"You have a girlfriend?" she asked calmly with a shaky voice.
"No," he corrected her. "She's not a girlfriend." With a short exhale of his bre
ath, he focused on her eyes again, his hand reaching out to take one of hers in
his and he began to play with her fingers. "We meet up whenever I'm in San Diego
." His voice wavered at the end and there was a stinging from the onslaught of t
ears prickling behind his eyes.
Bella's mind was instantly flooded with images of her mom, a man she had never m
et in a Yankees uniform, and the plethora of love letters she found one day in t
he attic. She didn't realize her breathing had become unmanageable until she sta
rted to hyperventilate and Edward freaked.
"Bella! Are you okay?" He asked worriedly as he jumped out of the bed to lean ov
er her. "Bella, talk to me."
Struggling to catch her breath, Bella's body shook as tears wretched from her ey
es. How could he do this to her? How could he keep this secret from her? Shit! H
e's just like Phil! Pushing at the man that loomed over her, Bella fumbled out o
f the bed and over to her bag, forcefully throwing everything in and zipping it
up.
"Bella," Edward pleaded, but she ignored him, keeping her back to him.
On shaky legs, she made it to the door of Edward's hotel room and as her hand gr
abbed hold of the knob, she realized she had no where to go. Leaning her forehea
d against the door, she debated over her options: her haunted hotel room, interr
upt Jazz and Alice, walk over to the Motel 6, or find a way home to Chicago as f
ast as possible. The latter of the list was what she wanted most, but there was
no way she was going to find a ride to Chicago at one in the morning.
Be brave, Bella. She barely recognized the thought as her own and it confused he
r. Be brave about what? About the haunted room she was destined to sleep in toni
ght, or be brave and listen to everything Edward had to say? Why can't my consci
ence make sense?
"Bella, please let me finish," Edward asked softly from across the other side of
the room and another tear dropped from one of her eyes, landing on the floor be
low.
Staring at the dark spot her tear had made in the hotel's rug, Bella swallowed t
he influx of saliva in her mouth. She didn't make any move to leave the room, bu
t she also didn't make any move to stay and Edward took the opportunity to speak
some more.
"I was wrong to keep this from you, and I'm sorry," he said a little closer to h
er and her body tensed. "I've been trying to find the right way to tell you abou
t her." His voice suddenly became haggard, tired. "But I guess there's no right
way now, is there?"
"No," she hiccupped, not sure why she would give him the benefit of a response.
Shut the hell up, Bella!
His voice was stronger when he continued. "The day of the Cullen's barbeque, I m
ade a huge decision. Bella, I knew that I needed to break things off with her. W
hat I did to her was wrong. Keeping her on the side, at my will, for my pleasure
was wrong."
More tears fell from Bella's eyes as she listened to his words but pictured her
mom and dad in her head. The craziness that ensued after she confronted her pare
nts was maddening. For the next three years they hated to be around each other a
nd were only civil to one another if Bella was with them. Phil had destroyed her
family. It wasn't just Phil, it was mom too.
"Do- . . . does she have a family?" she sputtered. Please say no, please!
"I don't believe so," he sighed and sat on the end of the bed. "Bella, she was n
ever anything more than a fun time to me, and I know that that probably makes th
is worse, but I want you to know that she never held a piece of me."
"Your right," she snapped, "that does make it worse." Phil had actually loved he
r mother; at least the letters he had written her said he did. Did he really lov
e her? Alice's voice had somehow made its way into Bella's head now and she shoo
k it, trying to drive it out.
"As far as I know, she doesn't have a family," he choked out, outwardly showing
his pain from the knowledge of hers.
"Is that supposed to make this all better? She doesn't have a family, so it make
s what you've done less severe? Have you ever thought about how you've abused he
r emotionally by leading her on these last two years?" Her words came out more b
itter than she had meant, but they were out and there was nothing she could do n
ow.
Turning around, Bella sank against the door, sliding down along its length until
she was sitting on the floor, her knees pulled up to her chest. Leaning her chi
n on top of her knees, she inhaled while taking in Edward's form.
He was hunched over while sitting on the end of the bed, his elbows resting on h
is knees while his face was planted in his upturned hands. He looked miserable,
which turned a switch in Bella's heart and she suddenly felt bad for him.
"Tell me about her?" Bella asked quietly and Edward's head raised, his eyes show
ing his confusion at her request.
"She's blond," he smirked and Bella rolled her eyes. "And just so you know," he
added, "I'm partial to brunettes, not blonds."
"Right," she said sarcastically, and for the first time since he stopped their f
evered kiss, he smiled genuinely.
"I really don't know much about her. When I'm in San Diego we may go out to dinn
er, but other than that and the one trip we took to Sea World, we just mainly st
ay in my hotel room."
"Do you love her?" she asked, unable to make eye contact.
"No."
"Why didn't you keep this a secret from me?" Her eyes lifted, meeting his, and a
lump immediately formed in her throat from the pain she saw in his melon eyes.
The melon eyes that she loved to see sparkling when he laughed or smiled, the me
lon eyes that held such warmth when they looked at her, and the melon eyes that
darkened when he touched her. Passion. God, there was passion in his eyes when h
e normally looked at her and she missed seeing it now.
"I needed to tell you because . . . well . . ." Edward's eyes closed for a momen
t and when he reopened them, that passion was burning behind them and Bella's he
art soared. Her Edward was back. He still looked to be hurting, but he hadn't lo
st the passion she was so desperate to see in him again. "Bella, I care for you
and I didn't want there to be any secrets between us especially this. Can you ev
er forgive me?
"How can you ask me that when you haven't even told me where you stand with her?
Do you still plan to see her when you go to San Diego?" Though she focused on t
he last part of what he had just said, her mind was going crazy over what he sai
d first he cared for her!
"It's over between us," he insisted.
"Does she know that?"
"No," he muttered. "I plan on telling her when I'm out there at the end of the m
onth." When he looked up and saw her sad eyes, he continued. "I can't do it over
the phone, Bella. I won't treat her like that."
"I don't expect you to," she mumbled, upset with herself for being angry that he
was going to see her in a couple of weeks.
"Tell me," he said, sounding eager and hopeful, "tell me there's still hope for
us."
"Us?" she asked, craziness starting to tingle in her heart at his implication.
"Yes, us. I know you feel it too, Bella."
"Yes, I feel it." She blushed, thinking about the electric current that coursed
through her veins whenever they touched. "But we can't . . . Edward," she forced
out, staring straight into his eyes, "We need to take things slow and, to be ho
nest, I can't be with you until you break things off with . . . what's her name?
"
"Jane," he said hoarsely.
"Jane," she whispered, staring at the floor.
An immeasurable period of time passed as they sat; Bella against the door and Ed
ward at the foot of the bed. Neither of them spoke, nor did they look at each ot
her and then a voice sounded in the room, giggling. Both their heads snapped to
each other and as realization hit, Bella jumped from the floor and ran into Edwa
rd's arms.
"This place is really creepy," she stuttered, burrowing her head into his chest.
It felt so good to feel his arms around her again and though she still hurt fro
m his revelation, she gave into her desire to be close to him. "Can we go to bed
now?" she begged softly against his skin.
"Yeah," he sighed and started to get up from the bed.
"Where're you going?" she asked forcefully, holding him down on the bed.
"I thought . . . I mean . . . I was just going to get some blankets for the floo
r."
Bella's teeth bit into her bottom lip as she looked up at him. "You can stay in
the bed with me," she said sheepishly. "I . . . the noises . . ." She looked up
at him expectantly. "If you wouldn't mind?"
"I don't want to take things too fast, Bella," he rasped.
"We won't," she squeaked. "I just thought you could . . . um, hold me?" It came
out as a question and she was suddenly nervous that he would turn her down. She
really had no idea where they actually stood, what he expected from her, or what
she expected from him. But at that moment, she just wanted to be held.
Edward's cockiness was back as he got under the covers of the bed and held out h
is arms for her. "Come here," he sighed slowly and she complied.
They lay in comfortable silence, Bella's head resting on Edward's chest, one arm
and one leg draped over him and his arms securely around her, holding her tight
. It felt wonderful for Bella to be in his embrace and she let herself enjoy the
moment, pushing the thoughts of Jane out of her mind.
"Thank you, Bella," Edward whispered against her hair before placing a kiss agai
nst it.
"For what?" She lifted her head to look at him.
"For listening to me; for letting me explain."
A slight, saddened smile covered her face before she laid her head back down on
his chest. "It's not over yet," she said quietly. "We still have to get through
your trip to San Diego."
"We?" he asked smugly.
"Shut up, Masen. You're supposed to be comforting me," she huffed and he chuckle
d before planting another kiss on her hair.
"Goodnight, Bella."
"Goodnight," she yawned back, snuggling further into his side.
~GO CUBS~
Standing in line at the Portillo's on West Ontario, Edward impatiently pinched t
he bridge of his nose. He wasn't sure how much time Bella would have for lunch,
but he was hoping she'd be able to give him some time. Having called and asked h
er to lunch this morning, he was a bit saddened by her refusal. She said she pla
nned to eat at her desk and get as much work done as she could before she met up
with Chad before class.
The thought of not seeing Bella today didn't sit well with Edward. He had to see
her, had to make sure that they were okay. The last time he saw her was at brea
kfast in Milwaukee on Sunday morning and it was awkward. When he had awoken yest
erday morning, Bella was still in bed with him, in his arms, her back to him. He
had pulled her in closer to him her back pressed against his chest and enjoyed
the feel of her there.
They lay like that for nearly an hour while he listened to the soft murmurings o
f her sleep talking. She said his name a couple of times along with two other na
mes; two names that angered him: Jane and Phil. It was obvious that she was havi
ng an unpleasant dream and when she woke up, she immediately flinched before rel
axing and smiling at him. She didn't seem to be upset to be in his arms, yet she
acted very shy and unsure of herself traits that he rarely saw on her he knew s
omething wasn't right.
Bella used the bathroom first, taking her whole bag into the small enclosure wit
h her. When she emerged, some twenty-five minutes later, she was fully dressed a
nd ready to go. Edward had been sitting back on the bed they had shared, watchin
g TV and when he got up to take his turn in the bathroom, she hurriedly excused
herself and left his room, telling him she'd meet him down in the hotel restaura
nt for breakfast.
"Next!"
Raising his head, Edward noticed a young lady behind the cash register at Portil
lo's staring at him. He quickly ordered three meals, one being for Angela as she
had told him what floor her and Bella worked on and also told him she'd meet hi
m when he got off the elevator. The least he could do was buy her lunch. He wasn
't sure what either of them would like, so he got them each one of his favorites
; a chili cheese dog and cheese fries.
Portillo's hotdogs were probably the best he'd ever tasted ever. There were a fe
w restaurants he considered to be like home, and Portillo's was one of them. He
always knew he was back in Chicago when he could sit back and eat a Chicago-styl
e dog from Portillo's, or even better yet, a chili cheese dog they had the best.
As Edward waited for their food to be finished, he thought back to breakfast at
the Pfister on Sunday morning. When he had gotten down to the restaurant, Bella
was already seated with Alice and Jazz. While saying 'hi' to some of the players
also in the restaurant, Edward made his way over to their table and everyone sm
iled warmly at him as he sat down next to Bella. Her smile was genuine and he re
laxed back in his chair, thankful that she wasn't acting awkward any more.
But breakfast was over quickly and he and Jazz had to get to the field by ten an
d they still needed to check-out. The girls were planning to walk around town be
fore the game and so Bella gave him a hug to say goodbye. He embraced her tightl
y, her body molding itself against him. How he hadn't noticed it before was beyo
nd Edward, but they fit together perfectly, as if they were two pieces of the sa
me whole that had been broken apart.
"Good luck," Bella whispered into his shoulder, her heart beating, pounding agai
nst her ribs and he smiled down, thrilled by the reaction he invoked in her.
"I'll call you later tonight," he said quietly, wanting no one to overhear their
conversation. When she smiled back at him, he bent his head and placed a kiss o
n her forehead. Seeing her blush from his simple affection made his day, but jus
t as fast as the kiss, Bella was walking away from him.
"42!"
Drawn out of his memories by another Portillo's employee, Edward walked up to th
e counter and grabbed the bags of food and drinks waiting for him. Ignoring the
many stares of the people around him, he made his way out of the restaurant and
jumped into his Volvo, hoping to make it to Bella's office in good time so their
food wouldn't get cold.
He felt like a delivery boy as he walked from the parking garage to Bella's buil
ding. Angela had told him that he'd need a visitor's pass to get past the securi
ty and that she'd submit his information so he could obtain one. Surprising Bell
a with lunch turned out to be a lot more work than he thought it would be. What
had happened to the days when you could just show up at someone's office and wal
k right in?
Upon approaching the security desk, Edward could tell they had been waiting for
him to show up. After a few autographs and a call to Angela, Edward had a sticke
r across his chest with his name and PWC written on it as he rode up the elevato
r to the fourteenth floor.
"Hi, Edward," Angela greeted him in the elevator lobby.
"Hey, thanks for helping me."
"Anytime. I've had to bother her with work for the past half hour to keep her fr
om heating up some soup. Here, let me take some of that for you."
Angela grabbed a bag from Edward and then led him to the glass doors of their of
fice. "Unfortunately, Jessica is already back from lunch."
Jessica. Edward had forgotten about her. Hopefully he'd be able to pass her by w
ithout any notice. "Is there another entrance?" he asked hopefully
"No," she groaned as she opened the doors.
As they entered, Edward heard Jessica before he saw her. She was talking loudly
and just the shrillness of her voice made him cringe. When he caught sight of he
r, she was sitting behind a large desk in the reception area with the office pho
ne pressed against her ear as her free hand willowed about dramatically.
It was obvious when she noticed Edward because her voice suddenly cut off, leavi
ng the room dreadfully quiet. "I've got to go, I'll call you back," she said hur
riedly before jumping out of her chair and rounding the desk.
"Edward!" she said enthusiastically. "We weren't expecting you today."
"Actually," Angela spoke sternly, "we were expecting him."
"You didn't go through me to get a visitor's pass for him," Jessica said with ex
tra sugar, eyes shooting daggers at the tall brunette.
"You weren't in the office when I made the request," Angela bit back and Edward
stifled a laugh. "Come on, Edward."
"It was nice seeing you again," he politely let out before following Angela past
the reception desk and into a room full of office cubicles.
When they made it to Bella's cube, Edward stood back while Angela stood in the o
pening, Bella's back to them. Her desk area was a bit messy, pieces of paper str
ewn along the three surfaces of the cube, a picture of her, Rosalie, and Emmett
in one corner, a picture of an older couple he assumed was her parents in the ot
her corner, and then a picture of her and Alice pinned to the wall, right next t
o multiple plain white pieces of paper with black typing on them. One looked to
be a list of phone numbers and another, a table of acronyms and their definition
s.
Angela quietly knocked on the fabric-coated wall of Bella's cube and without tur
ning around, Bella knew who it was. "What do you need, Ang?"
"Are you ready for lunch?" Angela asked with a smirk.
"I told you I don't have time for lunch," Bella said, turning in her chair, and
then her jaw dropped. "Edward?" she asked, eyeing the bags of food and drinks he
and Angela held. "What are you doing here?" Her eyebrows scrunched together, th
e skin between them puckering up.
"You said you couldn't meet me for lunch, so I thought I'd meet you instead." Hi
s cocky smile held her attention and she just stared at him.
"Um," Angela said, clearing her throat, "I'll leave you two to your lunch."
"Wait!" Edward stopped Angela. "I picked up something for you too for helping me
break through security and bypass Jessica."
After separating Angela's food out from theirs, Bella and Edward said goodbye to
their friend and then looked at each other. "So," Edward began, leaning his sid
e against her cube entrance. "Do you want to eat here?" He motioned to her tiny
cube with one chair. "Or do you have a lunch room we can go to?"
"Oh, yeah, of course," she stuttered before swiveling back toward her computer.
"Let me just save this and lock my screen."
Edward watched as she speedily typed a few things before saving her document and
then turned her AIM status to 'away'. "Are you ready to face a lunch room full
of Cubs fans?" she asked humorously. "I don't think I ever told you about Nick,"
she continued as she stood from her seat and grabbed the cup holder and drinks.
"Maybe we should find an empty conference room," he suggested.
"Oh, no, Masen. You decide to barge in and interrupt my work, you're gonna have
to put up with a little attention," she taunted.
"You're plain evil."
"But you love it."
The mischievous gleam in Bella's eyes excited Edward and he once again had hope
for them. They never spoke about where they stood relationship-wise. She had tol
d him that she couldn't be with him until after he broke things off with Jane. H
ad she meant that she couldn't be with him intimately, but she would date him, o
r did she mean she wouldn't even date him until his situation with Jane was over
? Take whatever she'll give you, moron.
As always, the break room TV was tuned to ESPN, which was currently showing high
lights of yesterday's MLB games. A round table consisting of five guys sat with
their lunches in front of them, watching the TV and talking amongst themselves a
bout the Cubs.
Swallowing nervously, Edward followed Bella to an empty table near the guys and
they sat down, her evil gleam still flickering in her eyes. "The guy behind you,
" she started in a whisper, "is a huge Cubs fan. If you think I'm scary, just wa
it, he takes the cake!"
Edward took a deep breath as he started emptying the contents of the single bag
they had left after giving Angela her lunch. He noticed that she sat at another
table with some girls, gossiping about celebrities as they skimmed through an is
sue of US Weekly.
"Do you normally sit with them?" he asked, motioning toward the table of girls.
"Sometimes," she shrugged. "I actually prefer to be at the table behind you." Th
e fiendish look was back in her eyes and he groaned.
"I hope you like chili cheese dogs," he said pulling one out and handing it to h
er.
Bella's eyes narrowed on him. "Did Ang tell you what to get me?"
"No, I took a guess. Cheese fries?" he queried, offering the little cup of chees
e to her.
"They have the best hotdogs at Portillo's," she started before she was interrupt
ed by loud whispers from the table behind Edward and she grinned wickedly at him
, lifting her eyebrows in amusement. "Maybe you should have worn my Mariners hat
today." Bella popped a fry dripping in cheese into her mouth and chewed as she
watched the mayhem behind him.
Luckily for Edward, the guys that had noticed him were too tongue-tied and star-
struck to go absolutely crazy. Instead, Nick approached them alone, sitting down
in a seat next to Bella, across from Edward him and his son's hero.
"Hey Bella," he said, his voice uneven from nerves.
"Hey Nick, this is my friend, Edward," she said, innocently fluttering her eyela
shes in Edward's direction as she pursed her lips around her straw and took a si
p from her coke.
"Edward," Nick said cautiously, holding out his hand for a shake.
"Bella has told me about you." Edward smiled. "It's nice to finally meet someone
who can rival Bella." Their hands shook a little longer than normal before Nick
finally released Edward's hand.
"She told you about me?" Nick beamed.
Edward turned his attention to Bella who was looking up at him through her eye l
ashes, biting down on her bottom lip. "She says you're a huge fan."
"I've watched the Cubs since I was a kid." His voice raised an octave.
"Have you been to any games this year?" Edward asked, making small talk.
"A couple. I'm still waiting for Bella to miss a game so I can take my oldest so
me day."
"I miss a lot of games, Nick," she huffed.
"But Marcus seems to always get your tickets," he teased her.
"How many kids do you have?" Edward asked.
"Two boys, six and three."
"I can get you four tickets to tomorrow's game if you'd like," Edward offered, s
hrugging his shoulders.
"Seriously?" Nick asked surprised, glancing back and forth between a shocked Bel
la and a sincere Edward.
"Sure, it's not a problem. Just give your name at the ticket office tomorrow."
"Thanks, man!" Nick exclaimed and then nervously looked at his friends staring a
t him from the other table. "I'll let you get back to lunch."
"What was all that about?" Bella whispered once Nick was gone, her head leaning
over the table to get closer to Edward.
"I just thought I'd give your friend some tickets. You did say he was a bigger f
an than you, right?"
"Yeah, but you don't need to pass out tickets to my friends, Edward, it makes me
feel uncomfortable." Her eyes were scrunched together, the adorable pucker show
ing up on the skin between them.
"Relax and enjoy your dog, Swan." Edward took another bite from his and watched
her scowl down, begrudgingly chewing as she glowered at him. "If it'll make you
feel any better," he continued after taking a sip of his coke, "I can give your
two tickets away too."
Their lunch didn't last long and Bella needed to get back to work. It was hard f
or Edward because he had the whole day off and all he wanted to do was spend it
with her, but she'd be at her class tonight.
"Will you call me when you get home from class?" he asked, walking next to Bella
as she led him to the doors that would take him to the elevator lobby.
"Sure, I shouldn't be too late, it gets out at nine. Although, we may get out ea
rlier, it's all presentations tonight."
"Are you giving yours tonight?"
"No," she mumbled. "Chad and I have ours next week."
"So you could skip then?" he asked, cocking one brow, hoping she'd play hooky so
they could go out tonight.
"I wish it were that easy," she whispered, leading him past the reception area.
They paused at the glass doors, ignoring the curly, brown mop of hair behind the
desk. They looked at each other, delicately leaning in, watching each other's m
ovements until they were practically touching. Jessica's voice no longer trilled
out behind the desk and Edward was sure that she was staring at them.
Taking a chance, he pulled Bella to him, his arms wrapping gently around her. "H
ave a good day, Bella," he whispered against her ear, placing a kiss where his l
ips had vibrated against her skin.
"Thanks for lunch." Her muffled voice was barely heard, but he felt her hot brea
th seep through his clothes, tickling his skin underneath.
When he pulled back to let her go, the look in Bella's eyes fueled him. She wasn
't looking at him with her usual adorable eyes bright with mischief, but with ho
oded eyes, darker than normal, something burning deep within them. He swallowed
twice as the charge between them flickered against his skin, and then he leaned
down, cupping his right hand behind her neck, planting a chaste kiss on her lips
. Only Bella wanted more and her arms went around his shoulders, pulling him in
for a moment longer, not that he would complain.
When he finally pulled back, he flashed his cocky, lopsided smile, enjoying the
red flush that tinted her cheeks. "I'll talk to you later," he said hoarsely and
it was her turn to smirk cockily at him.
~GO CUBS~
Jane glanced nervously in the rearview mirror. It had been twenty-two minutes si
nce she packed everything she needed from her trailer along with Bobby and his s
uitcase, and left her home for the last time. The only thing she left behind was
a packet full of divorce papers on the table for Carlos.
Today would be hard for both her and Bobby, but she needed to do it. As much as
she wished she could take him to Chicago with her, she just knew Edward wouldn't
be ready for him yet. She'd have to break the news to him gently, after she had
been living with him for a while.
The thought of being with Edward every day, waking up in his arms each morning a
nd going to bed after making love to him at night thrilled her. Ever since meeti
ng him, he was all she thought about and she treasured the time they did get to
be together whenever the Cubs were in town.
"Your daddy has a new wife now," Jane said, saddened that another woman would so
on be taking care of her son. "I expect you to mind them both."
"Will you come back for me?"
Jane would always be amazed at how perceptive her seven year old son was. All sh
e told him was that he was going on a vacation to his father's house, yet he cou
ld tell that something wasn't right. It broke her heart to have to do this, but
she wanted a better life for him. She had to snag Edward he was the only light i
n her miserable existence, the only way out of the tunnel.
"Once I get everything settled in our new house," she stuttered, fighting the te
ars that threatened to fall down her cheeks. "Baby, we're gonna live in a big ho
use now! You're gonna have a humongous room with lots of toys you're gonna love
it!"
Her eyes strayed to the little boy sitting in the seat next to her. She had made
sure to give him a bath this morning and it was remarkable how different he loo
ked without the smudges of dirt all over his face, arms, and legs. She always th
ought he was darker from the sun, but apparently his color washed off. Not only
would their new life bring them comforts they had never known, but she'd have th
e time to become a better mom. With Edward's salary, she wouldn't need to work a
nd she could stay home and take care of him properly.
Bobby's head turned to look out the window, ignoring her word-filled promises an
d she sighed. She couldn't understand how they had grown so distant toward each
other. He was her little baby boy, but recently, he had seemed so detached. Mayb
e spending some time with his father would be a good thing for him. A sick feeli
ng engulfed her, her nerves acting up again.
Rob didn't even know that she was bringing Bobby to stay with him and his new wi
fe. The only reason she even knew how to find Rob was from the address on his ch
ild support checks that he sent each month. Other than that, they had no communi
cation, even though Rob had scheduled visits with Bobby every other weekend. At
first he showed up for every single one, but once he got remarried and had anoth
er child with his new wife, he had stopped coming. At least the checks still arr
ived.
Jane's cell phone went off and she flinched from the ring, scared to see if it w
as Carlos. But when she looked at the caller ID, it said, 'PRIVATE'. She only kn
ew one person who called her with a private number and the thought of that perso
n sent butterflies in her stomach.
"Don't say anything while mommy's on the phone, Bobby," she said quickly before
answering. "Hello?"
"Jane?"
"Edward! I was just thinking about you!"
"Um, I just wanted to call and let you know that I'll be in town on the twenty-s
econd."
"Should I meet you at the hotel for lunch?" Hearing Edward's voice again was mak
ing her giddy, especially since she hadn't expected him to call this early. Mayb
e he was just as excited to see her as she was to see him.
"Actually, we'll be getting in later than normal," he said shortly and Jane sudd
enly became worried. His voice sounded different to her, strained.
"Is everything okay?" she asked, concerned.
"Yeah, everything's fine. Can we meet up after the game Friday night?"
This conversation was turning out to be weird. They always met up before the gam
e and had a little fun in his room first. Why did he not want to see her as soon
as he could? "Sure," she finally replied. "How about the usual place?"
"That sounds fine. I'll call you after the game and let you know when I'm on my
way."
"I ca " She was cut off by a click on the other end. "Edward?" she asked confused
.
"Are we almost there?" Bobby whined from his seat.
"What did I tell you?" she shrieked, glaring at her son, who recoiled in his sea
t and turned his head to look back out at the scenery passing them by.
She couldn't believe the way Edward had just blown her off. Normally when he cal
led, they talked a little after making their plans. And what was up with him not
wanting to see her before the game. Fuck! She had just realized that he didn't
mention tickets for her for the games while he was going to be in town. Somethin
g wasn't right.
The insides of her stomach churned while she thought about her plan B. It wasn't
really something that she wanted to resort to, especially since it would mean s
he'd have to remain here, in California, for a bit longer than she wanted. And w
here would she go? She wasn't sure if Mila and Dom would be okay with her extend
ing her stay with them. She had told them it would only be until the twenty-seco
nd of May. But that date was dependant on Edward's reaction to her plan A. I'm s
o screwed.
Looking over at Bobby, she realized it could be longer than she anticipated unti
l she saw him again. But she would definitely come back for him. When all was sa
id and done and everything fell into place, she would come back and get him.
"Don't ever forget that I love you," she said quietly as her right hand reached
out and ran through his dirty blond hair.
"I know, mom," he scowled, pulling his head away from her loving hands.

Chapter 15 May 12 14, 2009


Driving up to Winnetka was second nature to Edward. It was where he grew up as a
kid; his parent's home right on a golf course where both of them played regular
ly. The schools and parks were all the same from when he grew up in the town. Ha
lf the neighbors, if not more, were all the same as well. His childhood friends'
families all lived in the same houses it was like going back in time whenever h
e entered Winnetka.
His mother had called early this morning and after a few minutes of conversation
, he found himself agreeing to have lunch with her. In all honesty, he was thril
led to see her again. Though they lived about twenty miles apart, a thirty minut
e drive give or take a traffic light, they rarely saw each other during the seas
on. He was hoping to have lunch with Bella again today but absence makes the hea
rt grow fonder, he reminded himself. He frowned, knowing that not seeing Bella r
ight now was better than over-burdening her with his presence. They had spoken o
n the phone Monday night after she returned from class, staying up until one in
the morning. Maybe it was best to give her some time alone.
His parent's home a large, white, French Normandy manor had been in the family f
or the past couple of generations, originally built for his great-grandparents,
William Edward Masen and his wife Sarah. When they passed away, Edward's grandpa
rents, Edward Anthony Masen Sr. and his wife, Violet, moved in for a few years b
efore giving the house to his parents, Edward Anthony Masen Jr. and his wife, El
izabeth. It had been through many renovations over the past eighty-years, but no
ne more-so than since Edward Anthony Masen III had been born.
The manor now had an indoor and outdoor pool along with a batting cage in the at
tic, which was put in when Edward started playing high school ball. The things h
is parents did for him, to help him achieve everything he dreamed of, he would a
lways be thankful for. Edward had never gone through a rebellious stage growing
up. For some reason, he was able to skip that part of life, even when his friend
s had gone through it. It all had to do with respect, and Edward respected his p
arents a great deal. Yes, they burdened him with rules about where, when, and wi
th whom he could do things with, but on the other hand, they provided him with e
verything he ever needed and were always there for him with honesty, love, and o
pen arms.
The black and white checkered tiles of the entryway welcomed Edward home as he s
tepped over the threshold and breathed in deeply, enjoying the smell of home. Th
ere was a certain scent that his parents' house always held. Maybe it was from h
is mom's cooking, or even the type of cleaner she used on the tile and hard wood
floors that filled the huge house, but whatever it was, the smell always settle
d his nerves, comforting him, making him feel relaxed.
"Mom!" he called out, walking down toward the kitchen, where he assumed she'd be
. "Mom!"
"Eddie!" She said excitedly, wrapping her arms around her only child. "I'm so gl
ad you came by!"
Pulling back from his mother's embrace, Edward looked down at her hazel eyes and
auburn hair. He had gotten his hair color, fair complexion, and lips from his m
other, but his green eyes, aristocratic nose, and jaw structure from his father
he was the perfect combination of the two. "You look beautiful," he sighed, cast
ing a crooked smile across his face.
She playfully slapped him on his arm. "You and your father, always full of compl
iments," she teasingly complained. "Now go sit down on the porch, I'll bring lun
ch right out."
"I can help," he offered, following her into the kitchen, from which she had ori
ginally emerged.
"All right, take these on out," she said, handing him a tray full of plates, for
ks, napkins, glasses, and a carafe of ice tea.
She and Edward ate in perfect silence while they watched birds flit from tree to
tree in the expansive back yard. The golf course wasn't too far away, Edward co
uld see one of the greens in the not too far-off distance, but it was far enough
so that their yard was still private. There didn't seem to be many people out g
olfing today. He remembered how bad it could get on a Sunday during the summer m
onths and smiled at his mom.
"What's that for?" She asked, wondering what had made her little boy so happy.
"Just remembering when I was a kid," he mused, mischief twinkling behind his gre
en eyes. "I used to stand right over there," he motioned with his hand, "and sho
ot balls at the green." His face turned red as he laughed, remembering his mom y
elling at him to stop.
"You were always up to no good," she teased him, taking another bite of her sand
wich.
"I'm so glad you kept the place." A few years back his parents had considered se
lling his childhood home, a home that had been in the Masen family for three gen
erations now. It wasn't that he expected them to pass it down to him some day, b
ut he had envisioned his own kids running around the yard, splashing in the pool
, hitting golf balls out at the green. The kids looked different in his mind now
. They no longer had auburn hair like him and his mother and green eyes like him
and his father. No, the kids he envisioned now had mahogany colored hair with d
eep brown doe eyes.
"I'm glad too," she answered, her thoughts in a far-off place.
"What are you thinking about?"
"Just reminiscing like you," she smiled brightly. "Actually, I was wondering whe
n I would hear the pitter patter of little feet in this house again." Her soft e
yes prodded Edward's and watched as he took a deep breath and smirked at her.
"Is this your way to try and get information out of me?"
"Information about what?" She asked, trying to sound innocent.
"If you want to know about Bella, just ask."
"So it's true? You're finally in a serious relationship?"
"No," he sighed, not sure what to classify his relationship with Bella as. He st
ill didn't know where they stood and he couldn't explain it all to his mom she d
idn't know about Jane. "Bella and I are close friends, that's all."
"Close friends don't kiss each other the way you two do," she retorted, her eyes
narrowing on him.
"Look, it's complicated," he exhaled, placing his napkin on the table next to hi
s plate.
"Eddie," she sighed, "true love always is." She patted his hand across the table
and he looked at her, watching her hazel eyes twinkle. Depending on the color s
hirt she wore, they changed color. Today, they looked almost perfectly green, on
ly they had a splash of gold around her pupils.
"You can get that," she said when Edward's cell phone rang.
Looking down at the screen on his cell, Edward saw that it was Bella, but wasn't
sure if answering in front of his mother was a good idea she'd probably want to
talk to her, so he placed it on the table in front of him. "It can wait." He sm
iled softly and then took another bite of his sandwich.
His mom wasn't having any of that. She was sure it was Bella calling, so she gra
bbed her son's phone, pleading him with her eyes to let her answer. His eyes lif
ted in disbelief, and then he shook his head and raised his hand, giving her per
mission to answer. Please don't refer to me as Eddie. His mom was the only perso
n allowed to call him that anymore. As a kid, it was all he was ever known as, b
ut as he grew older and wanted a more mature name, the only two options he could
come up with were Ed or Edward. His father and grandfather both went by Ed and
so he decided to go with Edward. No one called him Eddie anymore, except for his
mom.
"Hello," Elizabeth said in a jovial voice followed by a pause. "Are you looking
for Edward?" Another pause, and then she giggled. Edward sat back in his seat, f
inally relaxing as he listened to his mom talk to Bella.
"This is his mom . . . oh, no, please call me Elizabeth. I haven't heard enough
about you yet." Elizabeth looked up at her son then and smirked the same smirk h
e always used. "So tell me, how is it you come to know my son?
"So you're a Cubs fan?" Elizabeth's eyes shot up to look at Edward again they tw
inkled with the same mischief his did as a boy. "Really? Is it empty tonight . .
. Oh, that's too bad," she frowned slightly and Edward wondered what they were
talking about. He tried to grab the phone away from her, but she shooed him away
.
"Tomorrow night? Really? I'd love to come. It's so nice for you to invite me." E
lizabeth beamed at her son, the twinkle in her eyes turning from mischief to lov
e.
"Where should I meet you?" she continued. "Oh, that's a good idea, anywhere in t
he area is good for me . . . I like all kinds of food, you decide . . . oh, that
's fine, the more the merrier!
"It was nice talking to you," she crooned, standing up and walking over to stand
next to Edward. "I'll put Eddie on now. See you tomorrow, Bella."
Edward's cell phone was shoved into his hands and he stared at it for a moment,
and then looked up at his mom, liking the happiness he saw in the crease of her
eyes. Putting the phone against his ear, he took a deep breath. "Hello?"
"Eddie?" Bella laughed on the other end.
"What do you want, Swan?" he said dryly, earning him a disapproving glare from h
is mom. He shrugged his shoulders and smiled at her, apologizing with his eyes.
"I just thought I'd call to see if you wanted to meet for lunch," she said meekl
y and his smile grew bigger.
"I'm sorry I didn't call," he sighed. "My mom called me early this morning and "
"No need to explain," she cut in. "You're mom seems very nice, I can't wait to m
eet her tomorrow."
"What exactly are you two gonna be doing?" His mom had left the porch, giving hi
m some privacy as she cleaned up their lunch dishes.
"She's coming to the Cubs game with me my extra seat was empty."
"I'll pay you for the ticket," he said automatically, without thinking.
"You'll do no such thing!" she exclaimed, a little too loudly. "I'm taking your
mom out tomorrow, it's between her and I, and you have no say in this."
"You have a date with my mom?"
"Jealous?" She giggled and Edward could tell that she was enjoying teasing him.
"Yes," he sighed. "You've been out with Jake on a date and now you're going out
with my mom, but you haven't let me take you out."
"You know the reason behind that," she murmured quietly, reminding him of the on
e thing standing in their way.
"Jane," he groaned.
There was an unsettling silence over the phone and Edward closed his eyes, regre
tting speaking Jane's name. "I'm sorry," he murmured. "I "
"How about you plan a perfect first date for when you return from California ins
tead of apologizing to me again?"
"The perfect first date?"
"You've had all this time to plan and prepare," she taunted him. "I'm afraid my
expectations are pretty high."
"Are they, now?"
"Mmhmm."
"Okay, the perfect first date," he mused. "I'm sure I'll score better than the g
uys Alice set you up with."
"Score?" she choked.
"Ah, that's not what I meant." Edward's face immediately turned red, just in tim
e for Elizabeth to walk back in the room and take notice. "I just meant that . .
. we'll talk about this later, Swan."
"Don't want to get into that conversation with your mom in the room?"
"Something like that."
"All right, I'll let you off the hook. I'll talk to you later?"
"I won't get home until late after the game tonight." Edward scowled down at the
table, aware that his mom was watching him. "How about I take you out to lunch
tomorrow?"
"I can't tomorrow," Bella said regretfully. "We have this stupid lunch training.
They seriously think they can get more out of us by scheduling training during
our lunch hour. All they end up doing is screwing us out of an hour break that i
s legally owed to us while they feed us cheap, disgusting food as we day dream a
bout other things while they speak about nonsense. It's really counter-productiv
e."
"What do you daydream about, Bella?" He leaned back in his chair waiting for her
answer until he saw his mom's disappointed scowl. Shit, she taught me to be a g
entleman. "Never mind, you don't need to answer that," he mumbled.
"I've got to get going, Eddie. Maybe I'll catch your eye at the game tonight," s
he teased. "Oh, and think about our first date, Eddie, I know I will be."
"I'll see you later, Bella." Edward sat in his chair, dazed by her parting words
to him. She'll be thinking about our first date.
"Is everything all right?"
"Yeah," he said, coming back down to reality once he heard his mom's voice. "I j
ust have a lot on my mind."
"She seems like a very nice girl," his mother said, looking intently at him.
"Mom, if you and Dad ever want tickets to a game, you know all you have to do is
ask, right?"
"Of course. It's just that your Dad has been so busy lately getting ready for a
trial and it's no fun going to the games alone."
"If you had asked me, I would've gotten you and Bella seats together."
"Why would you do that when she has season tickets? That's just a waste. Besides
, she told me that we'd get a better view of you at the plate from her seats."
~GO CUBS~
"How is it that you all know my son?" Elizabeth asked, staring at the four peopl
e sitting around the table with her. Directly to her left was a cute little girl
named Alice, who had a wise look about her, and next to Alcie sat a beautiful b
lond named Rosalie, who looked like she had been sucking on a lemon all day. Nex
t to Rosalie was a big burly man with curly hair and the cutest dimples named Em
mett and then between her and Emmett was Bella.
Elizabeth was ecstatic to finally meet Bella, the beautiful woman that had her s
on glowing with love. It didn't go unnoticed to her yesterday how Eddie's eyes s
parkled and the corners of his mouth twisted up into a smile whenever he spoke a
bout her.
"Alice is dating Jazz Whitlock," Bella stated, a stunning smile on her face and
Elizabeth's heart grew larger, providing more space for Bella. "Jazz and Edward
are good friends and Alice is my roommate, so we all just sort of met at a bar o
ne night after a game."
"Well, he speaks very highly of you all," Elizabeth said pointedly, her gaze foc
used on Bella. "Do you guys come here often before the games?" She took a bite o
f her cheeseburger, enjoying the taste as she waited for someone to answer her.
"Not really," Bella replied after swallowing a bite of her burger. "We normally
grab a dog or sausage at the park and eat while watching the players warm up and
stretch." A light blush tinted Bella's cheeks and she looked down.
"Well, the food here is very good. You'll have to bring Edward here sometime."
"This place is way too close to Wrigley Field for him to venture into," Bella re
plied, wiping at her face with her napkin. "He tends to gravitate toward dive ba
rs or places he can go unnoticed."
"Yeah, I guess being who he is puts him in a place where he couldn't enjoy a bar
with a huge picture of Wrigley Field on the wall." Elizabeth laughed before tak
ing a sip of her drink, relaxing as she saw everyone else laugh along with her.
She felt a bit out of place, being the oldest one in the group, but her anxiety
was starting to dwindle.
"So," Emmett goaded Elizabeth, "can you tell us anything we can tease Eddie abou
t?"
"Emmett," Bella scolded, but Elizabeth laughed, wiping her mouth with her napkin
.
"It's okay," she told Bella. "I have a good feeling about this guy." Elizabeth w
inked at Emmett, drawing out the cutest dimples in his cheeks when he smiled bac
k. "One thing that always gets him going is when people talk about West Side Sto
ry."
"Why's that?" Bella asked, intrigued.
"He played Tony in his High School's production and was teased relentlessly by t
he guys on his baseball team. He did such a good job though."
"Isn't that the play you did in High School?" Emmett asked Bella, a wicked gleam
lighting up his eyes.
"Yes," she mumbled in reply, her face turning an adorable shade of pink.
"Let me guess," Alice joined in before looking at Rose, nodding, and then lookin
g back at Bella. "You played Maria!"
"Yes, and I hated every minute of it. The only reason I got the part was because
I was the only girl who tried out that looked somewhat Puerto Rican."
"You don't look Puerto Rican," Rose insisted, her lips puckering up even more.
"Exactly!" Bella exclaimed, rolling her eyes.
"I'm sure you did a great job," Elizabeth said supportively, grasping Bella's ha
nd.
"No, actually she didn't," Emmett said seriously. "She has a hard time singing i
n key. Simon would chew her up and spit her out if she ever auditioned for Ameri
can Idol."
"Thanks, Em," Bella said dryly. "Can we change the topic?"
"I don't know," Rose piped in. "Edward was Tony and you were Maria? It seems lik
e destiny," she said dreamily, fluttering her eyelashes mockingly.
Everyone at the table laughed except for Bella, who buried her head in her hands
. "I never should have invited you guys to dinner with us," she moaned. "You're
supposed to be my friends."
"Ooh!" Alice jumped in her seat excitedly. "Did you tell Elizabeth about our tri
p to Milwaukee?"
"We haven't heard about that either," Emmett chimed in and Rosalie looked at him
cockily.
"You mean you haven't heard about it. I know all about what happened." Her eyes
roamed over to Bella, giving her a knowing smile, piquing Elizabeth's interest i
n the subject.
"Tell them, Bella," Alice nearly whined.
"It was nothing, really, just some haunted hotel."
"It was more than nothing, Bella!" Alice shrieked before taking over, telling ev
eryone at the table about Bella's hotel room and how she found the door and the
blinds in Bella's room wide open and how Bella heard weird noises while she was
sleeping.
"You stayed in a haunted room all by yourself?" Emmett asked, surprised.
"Not exactly," Bella replied nervously. "Edward offered to sleep on the floor, b
ut I didn't want to stay in my room, so we stayed in his. And for the record," s
he said pointedly, her eyes boring into Emmett's before looking over to Elizabet
h apologetically, "nothing happened. It was all very innocent. He was concerned
for my safety."
"Of course," Elizabeth interrupted, grabbing Bella's hand again. "We wouldn't th
ink anything otherwise," she said, then looked over to Emmett. "Would we, Emmett
?"
"You're teaming up on me now? Edward's not going to believe the two of you are g
etting along so well." Bella shook her head in wonderment.
"Actually, I'm sure he suspects exactly that," Elizabeth purred. "I can tell he'
s nervous by the amount of times he's texted me since we've been here. How many
times has he texted you?"
Bella stared wide-eyed at Elizabeth, not sure how to take her. "Um," she hummed,
trying hard to remember the question. "Let me check . . . six times since I tal
ked to him a few hours ago," she mumbled.
"His last text to me was a threat," Elizabeth stated. "He's so nervous I'll say
something embarrassing. Like the fact that he slept with a teddy bear until he w
ent off to college."
The whole table erupted in laughter, Emmett's booming voice overpowering everyon
e else's. "What else?" Emmett asked, coming down from his high.
They spent a few moments longer at the bar at Edward's expense before heading ov
er to Wrigley Field. There were a couple things waiting for them at the park whe
n they arrived. First, all the girls got Cubs makeup bags as they entered the pa
rk and they all 'Oohed' and 'Aaahed' over their new bags, unzipping them and loo
king inside, each of them trying to figure out what they'd use it for.
Secondly, the player's wives organization had put together an autograph signing
session before the game and a few of the players were at large tables throughout
the ball park signing autographs. Elizabeth and Bella both texted Edward to see
if he was out signing, asking where he was.
"Argh! He's on the other side of the park!" Bella groaned.
"Let's go see him!" Elizabeth grabbed a hold of Bella's arm and pulled her along
.
"Hey, get me an autograph!" Emmett yelled out to their retreating forms.
"Okay, he told me to just walk up to the security guard and tell them who we are
, they'll be expecting us."
Elizabeth looked over at the woman walking next to her, seeing the inner beauty
that she knew her son must see in her as well. Bella was like a breath of fresh
air to her. The many years of Edward's indiscretions and treating women as toys
that he could play with for a moment and then discard so easily had hurt her; bu
t whenever she brought up the subject with him, he tuned her out, ignoring her.
Yesterday had been the happiest she had seen her son since he'd realized what a
cold-hearted bitch Lauren was.
Putting an arm around Bella's shoulders, she leaned in and squeezed her gently.
"I'm so glad my son has found you," she whispered as they approached the line of
people lined up for Edward's autograph, leaving Bella no time to reply.
After explaining to the security guard who they were, they were led up to the fr
ont of the line to see Edward behind moans and disapproving looks from everyone
in line. "Hey!" Edward bellowed to the disapproving crowd. "This is my mom!" Eve
ryone quieted down after he spoke and he leaned in, embracing her first before w
rapping his arms around Bella and planting a kiss on her cheek.
"We don't want to keep you from your fans," Elizabeth gushed with pride. "We jus
t wanted to stop by and say hi." Her heartbeat picked up as she watched her son
and Bella together. Neither of them could keep their eyes off the other and they
both oriented themselves around the other, almost touching, but not quite. She
could tell that whatever was going on between them was still very new.
"Before we go, Emmett would love an autograph," Bella suggested.
"Would he now?" Edward asked cockily and Elizabeth rolled her eyes. Some things
never change.
"Oh, and make it good. He and your mom are conspiring against us."
Edward sat back down at the table, grabbed a picture, and then winked at Bella b
efore writing on the bottom corner. He then pulled another picture over and wrot
e on that one as well before giving both of them to Bella. "One of them's for yo
u."
"I don't need "
"Just take it, Bella. I'll see you two later."
Bella and Elizabeth watched him for a few minutes after they took a couple steps
away. He was very good with his fans, talking to them before signing his pictur
e. "He's a natural," Elizabeth sighed next to Bella. "So, what did he write on y
our picture?"
"Let's see," Bella responded as she looked at the two pictures she held in her h
and. "Figures," she laughed as she handed one of them to Elizabeth.
"'Bella'," Elizabeth read aloud. "'Here's something for you to throw darts at. Y
our BFF, Edward'." Elizabeth cocked any eyebrow at Bella, looking so much like h
er son. "Your BFF?"
"Private joke," Bella laughed. "Here, look at the one he signed for Emmett, he's
gonna flip!"
Elizabeth looked over Bella's shoulder and read, "'Em, I'm thinking about you. L
ove, hugs, and kisses, Edward Masen #13'. Emmett will be able to sell this on Eb
ay to someone named Emily or Emma." Elizabeth shook her head while she laughed,
falling into step next to Bella as they made their way to their seats.
Elizabeth really enjoyed her time with Bella and her friends, but was disappoint
ed to find that sweet, little Alice didn't get to sit with them. Bella promised
that the next time she wanted to come to a game they'd have Edward get them tick
ets so they could sit near Alice. But Bella's seats were perfect for when Edward
was up at bat; Bella had been right about that.
Before Edward stepped into the batter's box, he'd look up and make eye contact w
ith Bella, giving her a small intimate smile or a wink. Elizabeth had never seen
him act like that for any girl even Lauren and she hoped that things would work
out for the two of them. If there was one thing she learned today, it was that
Edward and Bella's relationship was very new and fragile. It was delightful to w
atch them together for the short time they got to talk to him. It almost looked
like he had to restrain himself from touching her and Bella looked the same way
toward him.
What's holding them back? She could tell that something was keeping them from be
ing together, but she just didn't understand what. She knew that Edward was sing
le, so there was nothing on his end that could keep them apart, but what about B
ella? Was there someone else in her life? No, she decided. The way Bella looked
at her son, she could tell he was the only one who kept her attention. She'd hav
e to invite them out for dinner or lunch some day and get down to the bottom of
it all.
~GO CUBS~
Bella wore a new Cubs shirt to the game on Thursday afternoon. Edward noticed it
as soon as he saw her sitting in the stands behind the visitor's dugout. It was
Cubbie blue with a red number 13 and the word Masen across the chest followed b
y the Cubs logo. The sight of her wearing his name on her chest made his heart s
well with pride. They may not be officially dating, but in Edward's eyes, the sh
irt was a declaration of sorts. She was his.
It had been such a long time since they actually got to spend any quality time t
ogether. Other than their quick thirty-minute lunch on Monday, the last time the
y actually sat down and really talked was Saturday night in Milwaukee. That conv
ersation had been strained once Edward had brought up Jane, but that kiss. Edwar
d often thought about that kiss. It was different than the other kisses they had
shared. Bella had freely given her full self to him in that kiss. She held noth
ing back, and neither did he.
"That's so cute," Towne sneered from Edward's side on the field. Edward was play
ing catch with Cullen and Towne had walked up from behind.
"What's cute?" Edward asked, taking the bait.
"Your little girlfriend is wearing your shirt."
"It's not my shirt," Edward bit, turning his attention away from Towne, focusing
once more on the ball flying through the air toward his head and catching it.
"Then you won't mind if I try to remove it . . ."
The glove and ball in Edward's left hand fell to the ground as he charged into T
owne, pushing him back. The fans' reaction from the stands near them caused Edwa
rd to pause, allowing him to stop himself from making a big mistake. "I don't ca
re what it is that you and your wife do but stay away from us. Bella and I are n
ot interested in your games."
"Edward?" Cullen called as he ran up to the two, holding up his hand to hold bac
k a couple other players, but Aro still advanced on them.
"What's going on boys?" Aro asked as he made it to the three men.
"Nothing," Edward spat, bending over to pick up his glove and the ball he had di
scarded.
"Towne?" Aro asked when he noticed the other man still had his chest pushed out
and hands balled up in fists.
"You keep him off me, coach!" he growled in response, throwing his hands up and
backing away from the other men.
Aro turned his glare on Edward, who tried to ignore him. "Is everything okay?"
"Yeah," Edward muttered. "It won't happen again." Edward's right hand palmed the
ball and he looked down at his fingers, his mind totally far away from the game
ahead of them.
"We've only got a couple more minutes on the field. Get back in the game, Masen.
" With his parting words, Aro left the remaining two men, Edward watching his re
treating form.
"What did he say?" Carlisle asked.
"It doesn't matter," Edward rasped out. "Go on, let's finish this."
Carlisle ran back to where he originally started and Edward threw the ball to hi
m, his mind focusing on the game ahead, pushing Towne and his comments out of hi
s head. After they finished throwing, it was time to head back into the dugout t
o get ready for the National Anthem. Edward's eyes roamed over to where Bella sa
t; proudly wearing her Cubs shirt and baseball hat, and holding a Cubs golf towe
l the free handout at Wrigley today. She caught him looking and smiled at him, m
aking his whole day. He couldn't wait to see her after the game.
Edward had a great game. His fielding was spot-on, at one point picking up a gro
und ball and stepping on second base before throwing it to first for the double-
play. He also went 3-4 at bat, hitting two triples and a double, scoring twice.
One thing he was aware of the whole game, was Bella sitting in the stands, twirl
ing her towel along with the other fans, cheering him on. He had never had a gir
lfriend come to all his games and support him before and it felt great. She's no
t your girlfriend yet. Yet . . . that word hung in his thoughts as he showered i
n the locker room after the Cubs 11-3 win over the San Diego Padres. Just thinki
ng of the name of the team they had just beat made him feel sick to his stomach.
Edward and Jazz finished getting ready and grabbed a bite to eat at the club hou
se before heading out to meet their friends at a local dance club. It had been a
while since Edward had willingly agreed to go to a dance club and he figured Be
lla didn't have a say as to where they went either since she hated to dance. All
he knew were the instructions Jazz told him and the complaints that Bella sent
him via text messages on his phone, which he didn't get until he was in his car.
He had to dress nice, no jeans or t-shirts, so Edward had on a pair of charcoal
grey pants and a white button down shirt with a blue and green embroidered drago
n on one half of the front. Bella's texts warned him of the crowd outside the cl
ub, especially for a Thursday night and how they were in the VIP section, appare
ntly using his and Jazz's names, so they had to show up. He laughed as he finish
ed reading her messages, the last one threatening him if he didn't arrive soon.
Walking up to the crowd out front of the club, he caught up to Jazz, whom was wa
iting for him off to the side. "Whose idea was this?" Edward growled, not hiding
his dislike for the place. He had to bring Lauren here a lot.
"It'll be fun. Alice has been dying to come here for a while."
"Figures, I'd say she's more like an ogre than a pixie at this moment though."
"Come on," Jazz groaned, walking up to the bouncer and cutting in front of all t
he people waiting to get in.
Upon entering the club, Edward took a moment to adjust his eyes to the darkness
of the room and the smoke that thickened the air. His ears hurt from the loud th
umping of the music and the strobe lights annoyed him. This was not his idea of
fun. All he wanted to do was find Bella right away and maybe talk her into leavi
ng.
"Where are they?" he asked, leaning over to yell in Jazz's ear.
"She said they'd be by the bar in the back."
As they made their way to the back, past the dance floor, Edward let his eyes ro
am over the crowd. The people surrounding him were a bit scary in some ways and
he avoided eye contact with any of them. His only hope was that Bella would be m
ore than eager to leave this place after a dance. Yes, he wanted to dance with h
er first, it had been a while since her last lesson.
Edward kept his eyes on the crowd; not really looking at anyone in particular un
til he heard a high-pitched squeal and Alice came bounding toward Jazz, throwing
herself into his arms. At that point, Edward looked in the direction from where
the little pixie had bolted from and he saw her.
Bella was standing with her back against a pillar and a glass of beer in her han
d, staring up at a tall dark-haired man who was leaning in toward her. But that'
s not what caught Edward's attention the most. Bella was wearing a deep blue dre
ss that hung on her, accentuating all her curves and stopping mid-thigh revealin
g more skin than he'd ever seen her show while out in public. It was a plain dre
ss compared to the flashy outfits of the crowd around them, but sexy and elegant
with the way the material gathered between her breasts and fell loosely down he
r torso.
Edward paused and stared at her. He had yet to see her wear anything but jeans,
black work pants, or pajamas. Her legs were long and toned, beautiful, silky-loo
king and his palms itched at the thought of running up along them, caressing her
skin. Closing his eyes, Edward took a deep breath, trying to think of something
other than the enchanting beauty before him, struggling to restrain his sudden
arousal.
When he opened up his eyes again, he noticed Bella's right hand playing with one
of her earrings while her eyes strayed in his direction. With a smirk, Edward w
alked over to Bella and wrapped one arm around her waist, ignoring the man that
she was talking to. He leaned his head down and smiled at her as his free hand l
ifted, stroking softly along her cheek. Without thought, his head leaned further
in and he captured her lips with his.
It wasn't what he had planned to do when he took his first step toward her, but
as his hand stroked down her soft skin, it was what felt right. It had been so l
ong since they had shared a kiss and he didn't want to waste another opportunity
. Ever since the kiss from Milwaukee, he couldn't stop thinking about her lips a
nd how soft and silky they felt against his own.
She responded to him immediately, opening her mouth, letting his tongue slide in
. Her free hand found its way into his hair at the nape of his neck and he groan
ed when he felt her pull softly, but as her pulling became more fierce, Edward's
restraint crumbled and he deepened the kiss, crushing his body against her as o
ne hand ran down the length of her dress, coming to stop at the hem, his fingers
itching to run along the bare skin on the other side.
Out of breath, Edward broke the kiss, his lips never wandering from her skin as
he trailed kisses along her cheek and jaw line. Feeling bold, his fingers travel
ed down Bella's leg, landing behind her knee, lifting it up to place around his
hip.
"Edward," she groaned.
The husky sound of Bella saying his name fueled the burning within him and he pr
essed her further into the pillar, moaning her name against her skin, delighting
in the feel of her fingers raking through his hair, across his scalp.
"Ed . . . ward."
His name sounded different from her lips this time and his head lifted from her
neck, his eyes finding her half-lidded gaze. Realizing he had gone too far, he s
lowly let her leg slide down his as he leaned his forehead against hers. Both th
eir eyes were closed and their breathing ragged as they stood wrapped in a lover
's embrace. Edward could feel her chest heaving against his own. She felt it too
, he knew she did. But he had gone too far, they were supposed to be taking thin
gs slow and waiting until after San Diego he felt like a complete ass.
"I think I spilled my beer," Bella sputtered between uneven breaths.
Edward chuckled softly, but remained in his position against her. Finally, after
catching his breath, he pulled his head away from hers and opened his eyes. She
looked up at him nervously and guilt ripped through his heart. How could he hav
e treated her like this? She deserved better; she deserved someone who wouldn't
ravage her in the middle of a bar, in front of her friends and hundreds of stran
gers.
"I'm sorry," he exhaled, swallowing a lump that formed in his throat.
Before either of them had a chance to say anything else, Jazz was at their side
with two glasses of beer, awkwardly looking at them. "We're over in the VIP sect
ion," he said, motioning toward a roped-off area where they could see Alice sitt
ing on a plush couch with Emmett and Rosalie, waving at them.
"You go ahead," Edward whispered in Bella's ear, his lips lightly brushing along
her skin. "I'll grab us some beer first."
You've really screwed up this time, asshole. What the fuck were you thinking? Ed
ward berated himself as he waited at the bar for the bartender to notice him.
Oblivious to his surroundings, Edward didn't notice the tall blond with shoulder
length, curly hair batting her eyelashes at him. While he waited, silently scol
ding himself, the blond woman tried everything from sticking her generous rack i
n his face to licking her lips and inviting him over with her tongue.
"Looks like you've got a friend," the bartender laughed as he approached Edward.
"What?"
"The lady," he said, his eyes wiggling, gesturing over to the blond, whom was no
w getting annoyed that her attention went unnoticed.
Inhaling slowly, Edward averted his eyes from the woman and ordered two beers an
d waited. The blond sidled over to him and pouted. "I've been known to turn a fe
w," she purred in his ear.
"Excuse me?" He turned to face her.
"I may not be your type," she purred with the cock of her brow, "but you'll neve
r know the difference, when I'm do-"
"Excuse me," Edward flared, placing some money on the bar and taking the two gla
sses of beer from in front of him.
By the time he made it to his friends, he had forgotten the whole encounter beca
use sitting down and looking majestic in her short blue dress, was Bella. She lo
oked relaxed and happy as she spoke animatedly with their friends and every ounc
e of stress in his body disappeared.
Placing a glass in front of Bella, he sat down next to her and put his arm aroun
d the back of her on the loveseat they shared and she smiled up at him. But it w
as more than a smile to Edward. The simple gesture meant so much more in that mo
ment because after mauling her earlier, he was expecting her to be upset with hi
m, but instead, she beamed alluringly in his direction.
"So, Alice," Edward said purposely, "was there a reason you chose this club?"
"You've got to live a little, Edward," she pouted. "This place is fun and you'll
have fun tonight. Right, Bella?" She asked innocently.
"Two beers," Bella said, holding up two fingers. "I promised you two beers and t
hen I'm outta here."
Edward squeezed Bella's shoulders with his one arm, glad she felt the same as hi
m. But he wanted to make sure she danced with him once before he took her home.
And he would take her home, he'd insist if she tried to refuse. Even if he had t
o follow her there, he'd see to it that she made it home all right.
"Thanks for the autograph," Emmett shouted from the couch opposite him and Bella
, a wicked looking quirk in his smile.
"Hey, anytime," Edward replied, laughing as he held up his glass of beer to Emme
tt.
"At least yours was nice. Mine instructs me to throw darts at it," Bella said, r
olling her eyes.
"I figured you'd need something to do while I was on the road later this month,"
he said seriously and she frowned in response. He was referring to when he'd be
in San Diego and he could tell by her response that she understood his meaning.
"Maybe I'll burn it instead," she bit before downing the rest of her beer. "Okay
, that was two," she gasped, taking in a full breath and standing up.
"Hold on," Edward practically yelled over the music as he grabbed a hold of her
wrist. "You can't leave yet, I just got here."
"I promised two beers," she said firmly, leveling her glare on him. "You bought
me my second thanks, by the way."
"But you spilled your first. You actually have more to drink."
"Why are you trying to get me to stay?" She asked, her eyes narrowing on him as
she sank back down in the love seat next to him.
"How about you give me one dance and then I'll drive you home?"
"A dance?" She asked incredulously. "Have you seen the way these people move? I'
ll end up hurt. Or worse, you'll end up hurt and on the DL! They're like animals
out there!"
"I'll take care of you." He spoke as quietly as he could through the loud music,
his mouth not far from her ear as his hand reached out and grabbed hers. "Pleas
e?" He pleaded, a small pout forming on his lips.
"One dance," she said firmly, ignoring the squeal that Alice let out and the kno
wing smirk on Rosalie's face. "I'll see you all later." She waved to her friends
as she left their seats with Edward's hand laced through hers.
Edward led her to the dance floor and spun her around so that her back was to hi
m. One hand grabbed a hold of her waist as the other snaked around to her front,
his palm resting intimately on her lower stomach. "Remember to relax," Edward w
hispered into her ear, "close your eyes, and feel the rhythm of the music."
His body moved to the beat of the song, his hands guiding Bella's hips to follow
him. He had forgotten how wonderful she felt in his arms and how great she move
d with him. "That's it, baby," he sighed, taking her hands and lifting them up t
o place behind her head and she immediately grabbed a hold of the back of his he
ad, pushing his face closer to her neck. He kissed along her exposed skin, hummi
ng against her flesh while his hands trailed down her exposed sides.
"You look so sexy in that dress," he purred in her ear, his hands coming to rest
on her hips.
"Edward," she moaned, her head turning toward his.
Their eyes locked, their lips moments away from touching and Edward swallowed ha
rd, using his eyes to question her, asking if she wanted him as much as he wante
d her. Her eyes fluttered shut and then she leaned in further, pressing her lips
against his.
"God Bella," Edward moaned against her mouth, opening up to allow her tongue acc
ess. His fingers inched higher along her blue dress, caressing her stomach and t
hen rib cage, lingering just below the swell of her breasts while his other hand
lightly flitted along her side, leaving a trail of tingles along the skin of he
r arm as he ventured up to her hand.
Swiftly spinning Bella around, their lips remained locked onto each other and Ed
ward's hips ground into Bella's, moaning from the pleasure of the heat emanating
from her center through to his pants. Her fingers pulled at his hair, twisting
it harder, and harder as her lips left his to explore his jaw line, her teeth ge
ntly biting into his skin.
"So you do like to bite," he murmured, enjoying the feelings she unleashed in hi
m.
"And be bitten," she slurred, her lips taking a break from caressing his chin.
"Bella," he said hoarsely, "do you really want this?" At that very moment he had
every intention to take her back to his place, not releasing her until he heard
his name screamed from her lips multiple times. But he had to make sure it's wh
at she wanted too. The last thing he wanted to do was take things too fast with
her and ruin everything.
Bella suddenly stilled, her lips leaving his body, allowing a draft of air to wa
ft against his heated skin. He gripped onto her tighter, pulling her in against
his length. "Slow," he whispered into her ear before placing a kiss on her templ
e. "We'll take things slow."
"I "
"Sh. I'll take you home." Edward laced his fingers with Bella's and led her out
of the dark, damp club and into the fresh cool air of the Chicago night.
Once they were settled in his car, he turned to her, his eyes pleading for forgi
veness. "I'm sorry about that," he stuttered. "I "
"No," she interrupted. "Don't apologize. It's not that I don't want you," she sa
id, blushing horribly in the dimness of the dashboard lights. "But we really do
need to wait."
"I know, Bella," he reassured her, grabbing a hold of her hand.
They rode the rest of the way to her townhome in silence, each one stealing quic
k glances of the other when they didn't think they'd get caught. When Edward par
ked, Bella didn't invite him in this time and though he desperately wanted to sp
end more time with her, he didn't ask because he knew what it would lead to his
body was still aroused from their dance.
"Will you come over after the game tomorrow?" Bella asked.
"Sure," he said hesitantly.
"I'll make dinner, so you don't have to eat at the club house. I just don't feel
like going out again."
Edward smiled warmly and leaned in to place a kiss on her forehead. "Can I walk
you to your door?"
"I don't think that's a good idea right now," she said brokenly. "I'm not in com
plete control, if you know what I mean." She looked up at him apologetically and
he chuckled.
"Neither am I."
"Thank you, Edward. I can't think of any other guy who would have stopped that."
"Would you like me to bring a movie tomorrow?"
"That would be great!" She beamed, happy that everything was still good between
them.
"Tomorrow, then," he whispered, leaning in one last time for a kiss, this time o
n her lips.
They lingered together a little longer than they should have and Edward moaned s
ilently as he finally pulled away. "I hate to kick you out of the car, but if yo
u don't leave now, I can't promise you that I'll stop."
Bella leaned back into him and innocently kissed the tip of his nose. "Sweet dre
ams, Edward," she said before exiting the car and walking briskly to her townhom
e.
Edward waited until she was safely inside her home before pulling away from the
curb and heading back to his condo. It took everything he had to stop their kiss
on the dance floor and also in the car. He needed to get home and take a cold s
hower and then get to bed. But once he made it to his bedroom, the cold shower w
as far from his mind as he lay down and started to stroke himself. Something tha
t he did so regularly as a boy had once again become a big part of his life. If
anything his father said about the subject were true, the past three weeks alone
should have made him blind.
Chapter 16 May 15 - 16, 2009
The day started off gloomy, with an overcast sky and a chill in the air, the hig
h expected to be in the mid-sixties. Bella travelled to work the same as she had
the past week and a half, with her head down and her hair hiding her face from
the crowd of people on the El. There were more pictures in the paper the past co
uple of days and the worst was the picture in Thursday's paper of Bella leaning
over to talk to Elizabeth at the game on Wednesday. The caption read, 'Edward Ma
sen's mother, Elizabeth Masen, and Bella Swan get friendly at Cubs game'. The ar
ticle was about the game and only briefly mentioned Bella and Elizabeth thank Go
d.
Today's picture was of her and Edward leaving the club last night, his arm wrapp
ed around her waist, Bella leaning into him intimately. The caption for the pict
ure was, 'Masen gets cozy with Bella Swan after leading Cubs to 11-3 win over th
e San Diego Padres'.
Between the rain and the pictures in the paper, Bella's day dragged on miserably
and she was even more disappointed when the Cubs game was postponed, landing he
r at home with Alice while she started to get everything ready to make dinner. E
dward showed up at their place earlier than expected with Jazz in tow and the fo
ur of them decided to run to the movie theater to see X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
After fighting over who was going to pay for Bella's ticket, she and Edward made
their way to the concession stand. "What do you want?" Bella asked, eyeing the
Twizzlers and Junior Mints. She could never decide between the two and usually e
nded up with both.
"Just a small popcorn."
"That's it?" she asked, giving him a look of disapproval.
A small boy walked over to the two of them with a piece of paper and a pen, hesi
tantly looking up at Edward. While he bent down to talk to the young boy, Bella
stepped up and ordered a large popcorn, Twizzlers, and Junior Mints along with t
wo large cokes.
Her hands were full when she turned around and saw that Jazz was now with him an
d they were both talking to a few older fans, signing movie ticket stubs and oth
er pieces of paper, and then three teenage girls walked up to get autographs. Al
ice stood beside Bella and the two of them watched as the three girls flirted wi
th their men. They were both very polite, then Jazz turned and asked Alice to ta
ke a picture of them with the girls, handing her a pink cell phone.
Once the three girls left, Edward and Jazz had to turn away other people that ha
d begun to crowd around in hopes to get an autograph, telling them that they had
to go into the theater. "Nothing will ever be normal with you, will it?" Bella
asked, picking up the few snacks left after Edward piled as much as he could in
his hands.
"You've been around me long enough to know that that wasn't the norm, Bella. Som
etimes we can go out and never be bothered for an autograph and then other times
"
"Other times you get hounded," she sarcastically finished for him.
"I'm sorry if the attention bothers you, but I'm not going to turn them away."
"No," Bella sighed, stopping to let the people behind them go ahead. "I'm sorry.
" Her voice sounded defeated as she leaned back against the wall. "I'm just not
used to watching girls flirt with . . . um . . ." She had almost said, 'my boyfr
iend', and frantically tried to think of something else to say.
Edward chuckled when he noticed the panicked look on her face. Taking a step clo
ser to her and leaning in, he placed his lips against her ear and whispered. "Yo
u can call me your boyfriend."
Bella pulled her head away from his, shocked by what he had just said and also t
rying to hide the affect his soft voice and warm breath had on her. "But you're
not," she insisted, pushing herself off the wall, moving her legs quickly to cat
ch up to Alice and Jazz who were waiting for them at the entrance to the theater
.
They sat near the back in the middle of a row, the two women next to each other
and the guys flanking them. Going to a movie with Edward seemed like an actual d
ate to Bella and she suddenly became nervous as she noticed Jazz and Alice talki
ng quietly together, leaving her and Edward alone.
"You must be hungry," Edward chuckled, looking through the candy and huge bag of
popcorn. "We are having dinner after, right?"
"Um, yeah, I just wasn't sure what I'd be in the mood for. Besides, it ended up
costing more than the movie tickets, so we're even." Edward had insisted on payi
ng for her ticket, so buying all the snacks made her feel like she was chipping
in and paying her own way.
"Just so you know, you won't pay for anything when we finally go out on an actua
l date."
Bella's heart leapt to her throat, excitement bubbling through her veins from hi
s words. She couldn't wait to go on a real date with him, yet at the same time,
she was scared to death. What if he didn't like date Bella? She could be a total
ly different person when on a date with someone compared to when she was just ha
nging out with them.
"When exactly is our first date?" she asked, not sure what he had planned.
"We get back from San Diego on Sunday night but Monday and Tuesday are both nigh
t games, so either Wednesday or Friday, I'm not sure yet." Edward stuffed some p
opcorn in his mouth and chewed, turning his attention back to the screen to read
the trivia questions.
After swallowing his food and then taking a sip of his Coke, he turned back to B
ella. "Robert Redford," he stated.
"Huh?"
"The answer to the question: 'Who played Roy Hobbs in the movie The Natural?'"
"Oh, I wasn't paying attention. Is it your favorite baseball movie?" She knew hi
s favorite movie was Reservoir Dogs from interviews she had read, but she wasn't
sure about baseball movies. There were so many good ones.
"No."
"Really? Most guys I know love that movie."
"It's a great movie, but it's not my all-time favorite. What's yours?"
"I've got mine at home if you want to watch it later. That is, if we aren't all
movied-out after this." Her all-time favorite baseball movie all-time favorite m
ove in general was Major League. She could watch that movie over and over again
and never tire of it.
"As long as it's Major League, I'm game for another movie."
Bella smiled brightly in response. "Wild thing," she whispered close to his ear.
"I think I love you!" She giggled, pulling away from him.
"Perfect. I haven't seen that movie in a long time."
"Neither have I. I used to watch it all the time, but then life happened." She f
rowned.
The lights suddenly turned off, darkness taking the place of the light and the c
harge between Edward and Bella instantly multiplied. The pull from one to the ot
her was exponentially stronger and they both fought it, trying to ignore the des
ire and need to be in constant contact with the other.
The movie was captivating right from the start and Bella started in on the Twizz
lers first, every so often grabbing a handful of popcorn or handing a Twizzler o
r Junior Mint over to Edward. She was hoping to accidentally bump into his hand
with hers in the popcorn bucket, but it never happened.
At one point in the movie she jumped, a small squeal escaping her lips, and Edwa
rd put his arm around her. For the next half hour, Bella sat uncomfortably again
st the arm rest separating her body from his until she had finally had it. She l
ifted the arm rest and then nuzzled close against him, enjoying the heat he put
off since the movie theater was cold. They finished the movie in this position,
neither of them wanting to move for fear that the closeness would be lost and wh
en the lights turned on, they both groaned internally, knowing they'd have to se
parate.
~GO CUBS~
"Hold on a sec," Bella said into her phone after greeting Emmett when he called.
She then covered the receiver with her hand as she turned to Edward in the driv
er seat of his car. "Do you mind if Emmett and Rose join us tonight?"
"That's fine," Edward replied, berating himself for not speaking the truth. No,
he didn't want Emmett and Rosalie to crash their evening. He had been looking fo
rward to spending some time alone with Bella tonight and now he would have to sh
are her with not only Alice and Jazz, but also Emmett and Rosalie.
"Thanks," she said softly before inviting Emmett and Rosalie over.
She received another call, but after checking the caller ID on the first ring, B
ella stared at her phone. Edward could sense her anxiety. "Who is it?" he asked,
his eyes swiftly glancing in her direction before returning to the wet road.
"Jake," she muttered.
"Oh."
The two of them listened to her phone ring a couple more times and then a few se
conds later, it beeped, letting her know that she had a new voicemail. "Do you m
ind if I listen "
"Go ahead," he interrupted.
She listened to the message that Jake had left her and then closed her phone and
stared out the windshield at the street. After a moment of silence, she finally
spoke. "He wants to know what I'm doing tonight."
"Do you want to invite him over?" Edward hoped her answer would be no, but at th
e same time, he knew he'd have to meet Jake eventually. Only, he was hoping it w
ould happen after he and Bella were officially dating.
"I guess," she mumbled. "I have to warn you though he can be annoying at times."
"Well, you know the sign. Just play with your earring and I'll be right there."
"You always seem to be the one saving me," she teased him, knowing full well tha
t the last two times she had done it deliberately, wanting to be close to him ra
ther than needing help with the men she had been talking to. Both times, she cou
ld've easily walked away from the guys, neither of them was threatening in any w
ay.
"Maybe you should carry a big stick when you go out at night."
"Maybe you could lend me one of your bats," she suggested with a wicked twinkle
in her eye.
Once they were back at her townhome, they settled in on the couch each with a bo
ttle of beer while Jazz and Alice took a trip upstairs. "Let's just hope they ar
en't loud." Bella rolled her eyes, but as she did, she heard the faint words of
an argument. Her eyes grew big. "I don't think I've ever heard them argue before
," she muttered.
"It's healthy to argue," Edward said slowly, wondering what her parents were lik
e when they argued. His parents did it just as much as the next couple, but it p
robably depended on how a couple argued to be considered healthy or not.
"I know. I guess I just kind of thought they had the perfect relationship."
Edward snorted. "There's no such thing as the perfect relationship, Bella."
"Well their's is pretty darn close." Bella took a sip of her beer. "I remember y
ou saying you don't like Alice much," she whispered.
"And you don't like Jazz."
"I never said I didn't like him, just that I didn't trust him."
"But now?"
"Now I know that it's none of my business and as long as Alice trusts him, that'
s all that matters. The same for you and Alice?" she asked, watching him finish
off his beer.
Edward shrugged. "Pretty much. Since I've gotten to know you, I've been able to
see how she didn't fit the stereotype I kept trying to fit her into." Edward's a
rm lifted to the back of the couch and Bella leaned into the opening he created
at his side.
"I tried to stereotype you too," she said meekly, unable to look away from his e
yes.
"I did the same to you," he whispered.
A knock on the door shook them from their conversation and Bella jumped up to an
swer it. Emmett and Rosalie stepped in and Rosalie hugged her tightly as Emmett
headed straight for the kitchen to put his case of beer in the fridge.
Rosalie and Bella sat down in the living room and then Emmett came in with a pla
stic grocery bag. "I brought you a little something to say, 'thanks', for the au
tograph." Emmett pulled out a brown stuffed bear and forced it in Edward's face.
Dumbfounded, Edward's hands lifted up and grabbed the bear from Emmett. "What is
"
"Emmett!" Bella roared, her eyes shooting daggers at the dimpled bear of a man i
n front of them.
Turning to look at Bella, Edward didn't see the wicked gleam in Emmett's eyes wh
en he spoke. "We thought you might get lonely on the road."
"She didn't," Edward moaned, his eyes digging into Bella's, looking for confirma
tion.
Bella nodded. "She did."
"I brought a little movie to watch too," Emmett chuckled, bringing both Edward a
nd Bella to turn toward him.
"Emmett, what is wrong with you?"
"Oh, come on. You invite me over and don't expect me to bring this?" He held up
a VHS tape in his hands and Bella gasped.
"I can't believe you!"
"What is it?" Edward asked, tossing the bear to the other side of the couch away
from him. He wasn't going to argue about the subject change. Why his mom would
tell them about the bear he slept with as a child, he didn't know, but apparentl
y, she found it funny. Brown bear, which was what he called it, was given to him
when he was a baby and it was always in his crib. As he got older, he stopped c
uddling with it, but he kept it next to his pillow, in his bed, until he went of
f to college. He didn't know why, but it just made him feel safe as a kid. Now,
he always used the excuse that he was superstitious it was a stereotype he didn'
t mind using when the subject of his teddy bear came up.
"Bella's performance of Maria from our High School's production of West Side Sto
ry."
"Really?" Edward asked, turning his gaze to Bella. "I didn't know you were into
musicals."
"I'm not, well, I'm not into acting in them."
"But why "
"I was forced," she interrupted.
"You were not forced," Emmett groaned, disbelieving.
"You still have no idea, do you?" she asked him, shaking her head. "Renee loved
you, thought you were the most adorable boy. She even told me that I had to have
sex with you if I wanted to keep you interested."
"Yeah, she wasn't shy in telling me that stuff either," Emmett mumbled uncomfort
ably.
"I don't want to know." Bella shook her head and sighed. "Charlie, on the other
hand, hated you. Well, not you per se, but the thought of you. He thought that I
was alienating myself from the rest of the student body because I spent too muc
h time with you. He was going to ground me from seeing you, but finally gave int
o me only if I joined an extracurricular activity at school. The only one that d
idn't consistently meet on Fridays was the drama club, so I joined."
"That's why you did this?" Emmett asked, wonder sounding in his voice. "I though
t you actually thought you had talent." He laughed full-heartedly. "You should'v
e seen her," he said, turning to Edward and Rosalie. "She kept telling me that s
he really wanted to try out for the school musical, was adamant that it was a de
sire of hers to be a singer." He laughed again. "She was horrible."
"She couldn't have been that bad," Edward cut in, taking Bella's hand in his and
squeezing it in support just as his mother had done two days before. "She got t
he lead female role, so she must've been good."
"No," Rosalie said, jumping into the conversation. "I saw the video last night,
it's pretty bad."
"Can we just burn that thing?" Bella moaned. "I don't even know how you got a co
py of it!"
"My mom bought one."
"You've had it all this time and never told me?"
Emmett shrugged. "I need a good laugh sometimes."
A couch cushion soared through the air, hitting Emmett in the head before bounci
ng soundlessly to the floor. "What was that for?" he screeched.
"For being a jackass! Now give me the video!"
"No way! I'll never get it back!"
"Get what back?" Alice asked, half way down the stairs with Jazz right next to h
er.
"The video of Bella in West Side Story."
"Ooh!" Alice exclaimed, running down the rest of the stairs, leaving Jazz in her
wake. "Let's watch it!"
"No!" Bella and Edward said in unison and she shot him a thankful glance. "Besid
es," Bella continued, "we don't have a VCR."
"I've got one up in my room," Alice said in a panic, her legs turning dramatical
ly, darting back to the stairs.
"ALICE!" Bella screamed at the top of her lungs and the room became quiet enough
to hear a pin drop.
"Fine," she huffed, over-dramatically plopping down on the couch next to Bella,
grabbing the teddy bear and playing with its ears. "Whose is this?"
"That would be Eddie's," Emmett said, his dimples deepening on his cheeks.
"Priceless," Alice chuckled, snuggling it closer to her chest.
"So," Bella said a little too loud, capturing everyone's attention. "How about w
e order some pizza?"
~GO CUBS~
A few minutes after the six of them started eating their pizza, the door bell ra
ng again and this time Emmett got up to answer the door. Bella was still perched
between Alice and Edward on the couch, the three of them, along with Rosalie wh
o sat on the floor, watched the Mariners-Red Sox game on ESPN. It was rare to ge
t the Mariners or the Red Sox game televised in the Chicago area, so Bella was p
syched.
"What're we watching?" a deep voice bellowed through the living room.
"Hey Jake!" Bella exclaimed before standing up and going to welcome him to her h
ome. Edward watched as she gave him a big hug and then pulled away. "Seth?" she
asked, looking at the man standing a little behind Jake.
"Hi Bella," he said sheepishly.
"It's nice to meet you." Bella held her hand out.
"We've already met, actually. Our parents were friends. You used to come to my h
ouse ever summer for my dad's fish-fry.
"Clearwater?" Bella asked, thinking back, trying to remember Seth.
"Yeah, you didn't play with me. I was four years younger and you were always off
with Rachel, Rebecca, and Jake."
"Sorry." Bella smiled apologetically and then held out her hand for his jacket.
"Come on in guys."
Seth and Jake followed Bella the couple steps into the living room and paused be
hind her. "Jake, you know everyone but Edward and Jazz, right?" she asked as she
motioned to the two people he didn't know. "Seth, you already met Emmett at the
door. This is his girlfriend, Rosalie; my roommate, Alice; her boyfriend, Jazz;
and, um, Edward." Bella gestured to each person as she said their names. "Guys,
this is Jake and Seth." She turned back to the two recent arrivals and motioned
to the kitchen, telling them to go ahead and grab some pizza.
Bella was seated next to Edward again when Jake and Seth came back into the livi
ng room with plates full of pizza and bottles of beer. They sat on the floor in
front of Edward and Bella, using the coffee table to put their food on.
"Cool, the Mariners are on," Seth said, a huge grin overtaking his face.
"At least one of you still likes them," Bella clipped.
"We live in Chicago now," Jake shot back, exasperated. "When in Rome . . ."
"We aren't in Rome, moron," Rosalie cut in.
"Hey Jake," Bella said, changing the subject. "I didn't know you could cut your
hair."
"Why wouldn't he be able to cut his hair?" Edward asked, confused. His left arm
lifted and he placed it over her shoulders as Jake turned his head to look back
at them. He wasn't sure how she'd respond to his possessive move, but he just co
uldn't stand the way the dog looked at her, as if she were a piece of meat. Ever
since he had walked into her home, his eyes were on her. She's mine. He wanted
to push the guy up against the wall and growl it at him, his primitive nature co
ming out. Unfortunately, he didn't think Bella would appreciate the move and als
o, Jake was huge. The guy could easily take him.
"I always thought it was a tribe thing." She shrugged her shoulders, looking at
Jake with his hair hanging down almost to his waist. It was longer than Bella's.
Seth's hair was cut short, which was why she was curious.
Jake and Seth both laughed, looking at each other first, then back at Bella. "We
can cut our hair, Bella," Jake said after downing a long drag of his beer.
"But you never did," she pointed out, confused as to why he wouldn't cut it if h
e could.
"I thought you liked my hair long."
"Yeah, sure." She shrugged again, a slight frown forming on her lips.
"I think she's trying to tell you that she prefers shorter hair on men." Seth bu
mped his shoulder into Jake's.
"Would you give me another date if I do?"
"No!" The answer was immediate and decisive, making Edward relax next to her.
He had wondered what her answer to that would be as well. Mine! His arm squeezed
Bella closer to his side and he bent his head to kiss her temple. She gave him
a questioning smile and then turned back to the TV just in time to see a two-run
homer by her team, putting them up by one in the bottom of the sixth.
Bella's hands shot up into the air, as did her body, exploding in a loud cry of
victory. She wasn't the only one celebrating, and she threw herself into Emmett'
s arms, accidentally kneeing Jake in the head in her eagerness.
"Thanks, Bells," Jake groaned sarcastically.
"That's what you get for being a traitor." She high-fived Seth on her way back t
o her spot next to Edward and then leaned into him as he put his arm around her.
A couple hours later, Edward found himself talking to Seth about football. It wa
sn't Edward's favorite sport, but he was glad to talk about anything other than
baseball with someone new. He honestly didn't think that Seth knew who he was. E
ither that or the kid just didn't care. Either way, Edward enjoyed the conversat
ion, which was why when he saw Bella rigorously play with her earrings, he let h
er be. She had been at the kitchen table for the past twenty-five minutes talkin
g with Jake. He kept his eye on them, making sure the punk didn't cross any line
s, but she looked to be doing okay so far.
"Rose!" Bella called out, her eyes finding Edward in the process and glaring at
him.
Shit, she's pissed. "I'll be right back," he said absently, excusing himself fro
m Seth. He strode over to the kitchen, arriving right behind Rosalie.
"Hey Bella," Rosalie garbled, the affects of alcohol obvious in her speech.
"Rose!" Bella exclaimed. "Jake was just telling me about the union he's in!" Her
eyes grew big in her fabricated excitement. "Jake," she continued, turning her
attention to the long-haired bore. "Rose is IBEW local 134." Bella's eyes connec
ted with Edward's, who stood just behind Rosalie. "If you two will excuse me," s
he said, standing up from her seat.
"You!" Bella narrowed her eyes on Edward as she approached him. Grabbing his han
d, she pulled him behind her to the back door that led out to a small, square, f
enced-in yard. There wasn't much outside except for a couple of chairs and a cov
ered grill still covered from the summer before.
"Having a good time?" Bella turned on Edward as soon as they were outside, her h
ands moving to her hips, trying to look intimidating.
"I am now," he said hoarsely, closing in the gap between them. His hands reached
out and grabbed her around the waist, pulling her against him. "You gave the si
gn," he whispered, his head leaning down, his lips rubbing along her exposed fle
sh above the collar of her brown t-shirt that read, 'I'm what Willis was talkin'
about'.
"You never came." Her low, raspy voice shook as her arms moved up to his chest.
"You didn't look like you needed any help," he breathed out along her skin, his
nose leaving a tingling trail up her neck. "Why did you use the sign?" His breat
h was on her ear now, his lips gently grazing over her fleshy lobe.
"I . . . I needed you."
"No," he whispered, "you're not telling the truth." He bit down on her ear lobe
and Bella took a sharp intake of breath, her fists grabbing a hold of Edward's w
hite t-shirt. "Why did you use the sign, Bella?" He sucked on her ear lobe for a
fleeting moment and then planted his lips directly beneath it at the start of h
er jaw bone. "Why?" His lips moved over to her cheek leaving a wet kiss and Bell
a turned her head a fraction, hoping, anticipating his destination.
"What do you want from me?" he whispered, his lips moving a little closer, placi
ng another kiss against her skin. "Say it." His lips were at the corner of her m
outh now and they lingered there, waiting.
"Kiss me."
Without any hesitation, their lips were locked, moving together feverishly. Bell
a's hold on Edward's shirt intensified, pulling him closer and Edward's right ha
nd moved to the back of her head, entwining his fingers through her hair, pullin
g her head back as they moved together like a pair of savage beasts.
Edward crushed her up against the cold, brown brick of the townhome, his hand le
aving her hair, skimming over her side, moving down to her waist. He pressed his
hips into hers, pushing her further back against the hard, bumpy wall, his hard
-on rubbing against her stomach.
"Edward," she moaned, fueling his desire more.
His lips moved back over to her ear, catching his breath before sucking her earl
obe into his mouth. "Is that what you wanted, Bella?"
"Yes." Her chest heaved as she tried to get control of her breathing. He was sti
ll pressing her against the brick wall, but his lips moved slower against her sk
in now, giving her time to breathe.
"Me too," he breathed out against her neck, wrapping his arms around her, engulf
ing her in a huge hug. "I don't know how much longer I can wait." He breathed in
the scent of her hair tangled with the aroma from her skin a mixture of strawbe
rry and freesia.
"I don't usually kiss on the first date." She chuckled slightly, burrowing her f
ace back into his chest, enjoying the warmth his body provided.
"Not even a peck on the cheek?" he asked, one corner of his mouth lifting in a g
rin.
"If I'm feeling generous," she joked, tickling his side. Edward flinched from he
r wiggling fingers, laughing and avoiding her invading hands. "What? Eddie's tic
klish?" She laughed, maneuvering her body to flip them around, her hands aggress
ively assaulting his sides.
"I'm warning you, Swan," he choked out, "don't do it!"
"Do what?" she asked, going in for another barrage of tickles, pushing him back
against the cold, brick wall this time.
His hands reacted so fast that before Bella knew he had moved, her wrists were h
alted by his hands. "I warned you," he teased, spinning her around and pulling h
er back up against his chest, crossing their arms across her torso.
"Mmm," she hummed, enjoying the feel of being in his arms.
His hold on her relaxed and they stood quietly, staring out at the darkness of t
he night, every so often, a car driving down the alley in front of them. Edward
leaned his back against the wall, his head bending to place a kiss on top of Bel
la's hair. He was right where he wanted to be; alone with Bella.
"If you want to come over tomorrow, I'll cook you that dinner I promised."
"Do you really think that's a good idea?" he asked, not sure if he'd be able to
keep his hands off her if they spent the whole evening alone. "Maybe we shouldn'
t be alone until after . . ."
"I think you're right." Bella laid her head back against his shoulder and turned
her head to look up at him. "Maybe we could meet for coffee and pie again," she
suggested. "I just don't feel like going to another bar."
"I'd invite you over to my place " He stopped when she started laughing. "What?"
"As if that would help the situation."
"We could go see another movie," he proposed.
"Dark room, divider up?"
"Just not so much junk food this time."
"Is this a date?" Her head turned to look in his eyes.
"No, our first date won't be to the movies."
"So what is this then?"
"Two friends going to a movie together we can even sit with an empty seat betwee
n us if it makes you feel better."
"That defeats the purpose of raising the divider."
"BELLA!" Alice called from the half-opened screen door in the back of their town
home.
Edward quickly squeezed Bella in a tight hug and kissed her cheek before releasi
ng her. "I'll be right in," he told her.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah," he breathed loudly. "I just need to . . . relax." He knew the moment she
understood his dilemma from the blush that speedily rose into her cheeks, and t
hen she was gone.
~GO CUBS~
"I never thought of Captain Kirk as hot before." Bella giggled, placing her lips
around her straw and sucking hard.
She and Edward had gone to see Star Trek after the game Saturday and were now si
tting in a corner booth at Oberweis Dairy. Edward had a tall strawberry shake in
his hands and was watching her closely, enjoying the way her lips pressed again
st the straw, her eyes looking up at him through her lashes.
"I didn't realize you were a Trekkie," he teased.
"I hated the Next Generation. My mom always watched it, leaving my dad to listen
to talk radio about the Sea Hawks at the kitchen table and I hid in my room rea
ding books."
"So you don't like football?" he asked curiously.
"It's okay to watch, but not listen to guys talk about it on the radio."
"So I don't have to worry about you stalking any quarterbacks then?"
Bella rolled her eyes. "I'm not a stalker."
"How is it we ended up in the same bar three nights in a row?" He chuckled quiet
ly and then took a sip of his shake when he saw her eyes narrow.
"So," she said with mock excitement, "you leave Tuesday morning for St. Louis?"
"Yeah, and then we fly to San Diego on Friday." It was the subject that they had
both been avoiding since they returned from Milwaukee but Bella really needed s
ome answers. Ever since that night, questions kept popping up in her head.
"Do you have plans to see her?" Her voice trembled.
"We're meeting Friday night after the game." Reaching across the table, he grabb
ed one of her hands in his. "Bella, look at me."
Lifting her head, she finally looked him in the eyes, scared of the conversation
that she knew they needed to have. They hadn't been taking things slow, as she
had originally wanted and now her heart felt like it was going to break in two.
She had let herself get too close to him.
"I'm meeting her at a bar on Friday night and then that's it. I won't bring her
back to my room and I won't ever see her again."
"I just . . ." She paused to wipe a tear that snuck out. "Sorry," she squeaked,
taking a deep breath in. "I guess I'm just curious."
"About what, Bella? I'll tell you anything you want to know."
"Your arrangement with her, what exactly is it?"
"Our arrangement?" His hand let go of hers as he sat back in his seat, his hand
running through his messy auburn hair he needed a haircut. "We never had anythin
g official," he started, staring into Bella's eyes, wanting to say what she want
ed to hear, but knowing the truth was what she needed. "I'd call her to make pla
ns a few days before I was going to arrive and we'd meet up at the hotel. Bella,
she really doesn't mean anything to me. To be honest, she's the kind of person
you can only take in small doses. Please believe me that I never promised her an
ything, I never lied about who I am or what I wanted. I've never even promised t
o see her again even the last time I saw her, everything was left open-ended."
"When did you see her last?"
"Honestly," he exhaled, "I don't exactly remember . . . toward the end of last s
eason some time." Leaning forward, he took her hand again.
"What if she feels differently? I know girls, Edward. They don't just sleep with
a person on more than one occasion without having some sort of feelings for the
m. A one-night-stand, I can understand not having feelings involved. But a set u
p like yours?" She shook her head, trying to think of what that would be like an
d how she would feel. "I just don't think she sees it the same as you. I wouldn'
t see it the same."
"How would you see it?" His hand tightened its hold on hers.
"Does she know that she's the only girl you see on a regular basis?"
"I think so."
Bella closed her eyes, her shoulders slumping forward. "That's even worse." Bell
a took another big sip from her chocolate shake. "I'm sure she thinks that she's
special. If nothing else, you've given her that perception by letting her know
that she's the only one who gets a repeat."
"It's not like "
"It doesn't have to be like that. If the perception is there, it's there. My fat
her once told me that even the perception of an affair he was talking about my m
om and Phil was bad enough. He didn't need to know for a fact."
Edward's hold on Bella's hand released. "What are you trying to say?"
"Nothing. I just don't think you're prepared to break things off with her." When
Edward started to speak, Bella realized her words had come out wrong. "What I m
eant," she said, holding up a hand to stop him. "Is that you're going into this
thinking she's just going to give you a hug goodbye and smile as you walk away.
You need to be prepared for her to want to hold on. My mom did not let Phil just
walk away."
"What did she do?"
"She called his home, talked to his wife, made calls to reporters. Phil was luck
y because my mom was a crazy loon at times. One minute she'd be talking all phil
osophical and making sense, and then the next she'd start saying things that wer
e really disturbing. No one in the media took her very seriously. Their affair w
as reported but then the media turned it around and started bashing my mom. Phil
offered her money to shut her up but my father refused to let her accept it."
"And still no one requested a paternity test?"
"She was saying crazy things. One minute she insisted that I was his kid and the
n the next, she was telling everyone that Phil couldn't even get it up, and that
I was definitely her husband's."
Edward attempted to hide his laugh, but failed. "I'm sorry." Closing his eyes, h
e tried to get the image of a crazy looking Bella telling the media that Phil Dw
yer couldn't get it up out of his head. When he opened his eyes, he saw a little
smirk on her face as well. "You find it funny too?"
"What? Big, scary Yankee not being able to get it up? Yeah!" She laughed, relaxi
ng with each breath she breathed out.
"I don't think Jane's like that."
"You would know," she sarcastically bit, regretting the words even as they spewe
d out of her mouth.
"I deserved that," he muttered, raking his hand through his hair once more.
"No, actually, you didn't." It was only Saturday, they had a week before he'd be
free of Jane, and yet Bella couldn't find a way to act mature about the whole m
ess. "I'm not good at this sort of thing. I don't know how to act or react. I do
n't know what to expect or not expect. And when I don't know what to do or say,
I tend to do and say the wrong thing. I'm sorry."
"I'm not handling it very well either. You're only trying to help and you're rig
ht, I need to think of what I'm going to do if Jane tries to pull any of that st
uff on me."
"She was never pregnant when you saw her, was she?" At the look of incredulity o
n Edward's face, she held up her hands in surrender. "I just thought I'd ask. It
wouldn't have been the first time a major league baseball player had gotten a m
istress pregnant."
"I think I would have noticed something like that."
"Right. How about money?"
"What do you mean?"
"Do you pay her money? Put her up in a nice place to live, send her a monthly ch
eck?"
"Bella, this was a casual thing, nothing was set in stone, I told you that alrea
dy."
"Are you prepared to pay her money if she threatens to talk to the media?"
"Now why would I do that? She doesn't have anything against me that I'd be afrai
d for her to tell anyone. Yes, I've used her for sex over the past two years. Wi
th my reputation, the reporters would just shrug their shoulders and say, 'who d
idn't he do that to?'." He frowned when he noticed Bella's shoulders slump. He d
idn't mean to be so crude, but her questioning was starting to get ridiculous.
"Do you have her last name?"
"Yeah, why?"
"If you give it to me, I can look into her a bit. I don't have my dad's connecti
ons, but I can find anything on the internet if it's out there."
"No, not yet. If things don't go well, then you can investigate all you want. I'
ll even hire a private detective, but until then, I don't feel right checking up
on her."
They finished what was left of their shakes and then drove back to Bella's townh
ome. The car ride was quiet, each of them thinking about their conversation and
Jane. Bella didn't think Jane was just going to turn over and let Edward go very
easily. She definitely wouldn't so why would a woman who had slept with him be
so willing to?
"Does she contact you outside of your meetings in San Diego?" Bella asked, break
ing the silence in the car.
"She doesn't have my phone number or address, but she has sent me stuff through
Wrigley Field."
"What kind of stuff?"
"Do you really want to know?" he asked, taking a hold of her hand across the cen
ter console, glancing quickly into her eyes.
"Yes."
"She has sent me a few letters and pictures."
"Did you keep them?"
"Bella "
"Did you keep them?" she interrupted forcefully.
"I kept the first letter and picture she sent, but after a couple of months of h
aving it in my place, I threw it away. I haven't kept anything else."
"Why?"
"Why what, Bella? Why did I keep it to begin with, or why did I decide to throw
it away?" His voice raised an octave in his frustration, causing Bella to flinch
away from him. "Bella, I'm just mad at myself, not you." His hand tightened aro
und hers, squeezing it gently to reassure her. "She doesn't mean anything to me.
Never has and never will."
They were parked in front of Bella's home where they stared at each other across
the small space that seemed so much more expansive to them now. Both wanted to
cross over and hold the other, but were uncertain about the moment. "Would you l
ike to come in?" Bella asked, biting her lower lip in uncertainty.
"I don't think it "
"Please?" she interrupted. "We're not done having this conversation. I promise "
Her words were interrupted by Edward's lips, and she melted into his hands as th
ey cupped her face. It was a gentle kiss, sweet and innocent, but powerful enoug
h to knock the breath from her lungs. "I can't promise you anything, Bella, but
I'll try to keep my hands off you." His crooked smirk melted every morsel of dou
bt in her body, curling her toes inside her shoes. Just one look and she was a g
oner. How was she ever going to last the next few days, or even the next few hou
rs?
Once inside, they sat on the couch, both turned a little toward the other so the
y could talk. Bella knew what she wanted to talk about, but was uncertain about
how to bring it back up the letter and picture that Edward had kept of Jane. "Ok
ay, I'm just going to blurt this out because I need to know. Why did you keep th
e letter and picture from Jane?"
Her question was said evenly and slowly, trepidation setting in as each word lef
t her mouth. Did she really want to know the answer to that question? Was this w
hat Alice meant about being truthful about everything to the point of masochisti
cally wanting to know everything? Would her knowing really help, or would it mak
e it worse?
Edward reached a hand over to Bella and stroked his fingers across her cheek. "I
t was stupid for me to keep it at first. She sent it after the second time we me
t and I wasn't sure what it meant. I have no reason why I kept it except that ev
en back then, I think I wanted something more out of life. But whenever I looked
at the picture, I felt sick to my stomach. She didn't mean anything to me and h
aving her picture around, well, it was odd not in a good way. I threw it away al
ong with the letter and everything else that she ever sent to me."
"What did her letters say?"
"They weren't love letters, Bella. They pretty much just said that she enjoyed s
eeing me again and that she was looking forward to the next time the Cubs were c
oming to San Diego. The pictures were not pornographic or nude, she was fully dr
essed. Well, the ones I saw were, anyways." When Bella looked at him questioning
ly, he continued. "After the second letter, I stopped opening them. I would see
her return address on them and immediately throw them away."
"So, she did mean something to you at one point though, right? I mean, you would
n't have thought to keep the letter or the picture if there weren't some feeling
s there."
"Why do women dissect every little thing?" His fingers immediately went to the b
ridge of his nose and pressed. "I don't know what to tell you, Bella. I'm not su
re why I kept it to begin with, it was a stupid idea and, as I said earlier, aft
er a couple of months, I got rid of both the letter and the picture. I have noth
ing in my house or my heart that ties me to her at all."
"Is this our first argument?" she asked sheepishly, her lower lip trembling.
Edward exhaled. "And it won't be our last. Come here," he said, pulling her into
his lap. Bella rested her head on his shoulder, breathing in his scent, closing
her eyes to enjoy the feel of him surrounding her. "How would you like to come
to San Diego with me?"
"What?" she asked, shocked by his offer. She pulled away from him to look closel
y into his eyes. Was he for real? He wanted her to go to San Diego with him?
"We fly in late Thursday night and out on Sunday night. I can have you back well
before work on Monday morning. You can sleep on the plane."
"I can't," she groaned. "I have my final exam on Monday. I'll be studying all we
ekend for it." She frowned into his shoulder. "Besides, this is something you ne
ed to do alone. I'll be here waiting though," she offered, her fingers raking th
rough his silky, smooth auburn hair.
"I'll call you ever day and night, text you whenever I can. I won't be far, Bell
a." Edward rubbed his cheek against the top of her head and kissed her hair. The
y sat like that for hours, neither of them saying anything, listening to the sou
nd of their erratic heartbeats colliding against each other.
When Bella awoke the next morning, she was in her bed, though she had no idea ho
w she got there. There was a note left on the side table and she picked it up, r
ubbing the sleep from her eyes so she could focus on the words.
Chapter 17, May 17 18, 2009
"How does Jazz's arm feel today?" Bella asked, concerned after reading an articl
e in the paper about it bothering him.
"He said it was starting to feel better. I think they're talking about putting h
im on the DL for a couple weeks, but they're going to wait to see how he pitches
in St. Louis on Tuesday." Alice answered, her eyes straining to scan the Cubs b
ull pen.
"You going down for the game?" Emmett asked, leaning over both Rosalie and Bella
.
"No, I tried to get out of a meeting that day, but I can't." Alice frowned.
"Dang, they're at it again," Rosalie murmured, handing her binoculars to Bella.
"You need to use these, they're so much better."
Bella adjusted the binoculars to her eyes and then focused in on what she knew R
osalie had been staring at Edward and Cullen stretching together. She never thou
ght she'd be the kind of person to go to a baseball game and ogle the players bu
t here she was, enjoying the way Edward's muscles moved as he lifted Cullen's le
g up in the air. Or the sexy curves of his ass as he bent over. God, did he know
what he was doing to her?
"So, is it official yet?" Rosalie asked from beside her.
"Is what official?" Bella asked, giving the binoculars back.
"Come on, Bella," Fred from behind her said, "we've all been taking bets on it."
"Bets?" she asked, turning in her seat to face the fellow season-ticket holder.
"Fred, what bets have you been taking?" Usually, Emmett and Fred would bet on th
e weirdest things during a game. Like how many times a ball would be hit foul to
the Bartman seat, or how many times Yorkie would grab his crotch during the gam
e.
"Ah, let's see." Fred pondered for a moment and then smiled a big toothy grin. "
How many times Masen winks at you during a game, how many times he's caught star
ing at you while out on the field "
"Wait a minute," Bella protested, holding up a hand. "How in the world do you en
joy the game if all you're doing is watching for Masen to look over here?"
"You don't think I enjoy doing this?" he asked, clutching his chest mockingly.
"So, what's the bet for today?"
"There's always the bet to see if he'll throw a ball to you from the field. He h
asn't done that though." Fred looked down to the notepad that he held in his han
d and flipped a couple of pages. The guy was quite a geek, but such a loveable o
ld man. "Oh, if he'll come over and sign autographs so he can talk to you. Unfor
tunately we didn't have that one going the one time he did. Those are the big mo
ney ones."
"And the small ones?" she asked, dumbfounded by the little games these guys play
ed.
"Well, Sue," he said, referring to the lady four seats down from Fred, "has been
winning the little ones. The winks, staring, stuff like that. He's always watch
ing you during the seventh-inning stretch. But then this one here," Fred continu
ed, motioning to Alice. "Her guy is more subtle, but still does the smiles and s
taring. No winks though."
"Okay, that's enough," Bella moaned, looking up to see Edward grinning at her fr
om the dugout. Maybe Fred was right. Leaning over Rosalie, Bella pinched Emmett'
s thigh. "No more betting on me."
"I've never bet on you, baby, only Edward."
Bella rolled her eyes and then focused on the Cubs as they took the field. She w
atched them play catch so that Yorkie could warm up from the pitchers mound. Sal
dana was playing third base today, which meant Towne was sitting out again. He p
layed short stop the one day that Edward had off but didn't do very well and sin
ce then, had only been brought in as a pinch hitter.
"See," Fred said, leaning over Bella's shoulder. "He just looked over at you."
Bella watched the game in a dream-like state. Fred was right, Edward did look up
at her a lot and smile or wink. She had noticed this before, but never really t
hought about what it meant or whether or not it was distracting him from the gam
e which was her main concern. She didn't want to be a distraction to one of the
Cubs' best players and she must have been a distraction. Edward only hit 1-5, dr
opping his average even lower.
It was quiet on the El as Bella and Alice made their way home. Bella was dressed
in tight dark blue jeans, a grey Cubs t-shirt and a light blue and grey Cubs ho
odie. There was a frigid wind that blew though, thankfully not too strong, and i
t was only in the high 40's when they got off the El and walked the couple block
s back to their home. They walked in silence, Bella not wanting to discuss the l
oss and Alice biting her tongue she had promised to not meddle and the only thin
g she wanted to talk about would be considered that.
As the plan stood, Edward and Jazz were coming over to their place again this ev
ening but it would only be the four of them this time and the girls set to work
right away when they got home. It was a little after five when they started maki
ng dinner corned beef and cabbage; what Bella had planned to cook on Friday, but
with the way everything turned out, they had ordered pizza instead. Alice hurri
edly went to work to make Irish soda bread to go along with the meal sans raisin
s.
The girls took turns getting ready for the men to arrive, Bella dressing in a cl
ean pair of jeans and a green, long-sleeve t-shirt with a light green turtle on
it that said, 'I Like Turtles'. Alice eyed her as she strolled down the stairs.
"What's with the dorky t-shirts all of a sudden?"
"Huh?" Bella asked, looking down at her chest. "I like turtles." Bella sauntered
into the kitchen, passing her friend in the living room, paying her no mind. "Y
ou want a beer?" She called out, grabbing a couple from the fridge. Thanks to Em
mett and Jake, they were fully stocked.
"Sure, bring me one of the ones Jake brought the other night."
"Moose Drool?" Bella asked, making sure she heard her right.
"Yeah, it's really good, you should try it!"
Bella shrugged her shoulders then grabbed two Moose Drools and walked back into
the living room. Jake, apparently, had weird taste in beer. He said it was brewe
d in Montana American made, he had boasted. One thing about union laborers, they
didn't buy things that weren't American made if they could avoid it. Rosalie re
fused to shop at Wal-Mart and forbade Bella to do so as well. Bella still did in
secrecy from time-to-time when she needed something from there, but luckily it
wasn't one of her favorite stores to begin with. Otherwise, the two of them woul
d have had a problem.
"So," Alice practically sang, "how is everything going?" Her eyes twinkled as th
ey watched Bella sit next to her and she grabbed one of the opened beers and too
k a long swig.
Bella took a drag from hers as well and actually was shocked. It really was good
. "Everything's fine." She shrugged and took another drink. Alice's lips pressed
together in a tight line and she stared at Bella. "What do you want to know?" B
ella huffed.
"You don't have to tell me anything." Alice frowned. "It's just that I'm your be
st friend and if you're not talking to me then who are you talking to?"
"No one," Bella sighed, turning her lips up into a smile. "There's really nothin
g to say. We aren't dating "
"But you're kissing him," she interrupted. "I accidentally walked in on your kis
s Friday night."
"We weren't kissing when you came to get me."
"No, before then; I walked out and saw you, then waited until it was safe to cal
l you in."
Bella's face turned beet red. She leaned forward, looking directly into Alice's
eyes. "I really like him. I just don't want to jinx it, you know? I got excited
about Sean, told my parents about him and everything and then he went and, well,
you know what he did. And then with Danny! God, I can be such a fool some times
. Every guy I've ever gotten excited about has let me down even Emmett. I though
t I loved Emmett, Alice. He was everything to me. We've managed to remain friend
s because I've never let him know how much he hurt me."
"Do you still love Emmett?" Alice looked at Bella sadly, not sure if she wanted
to know the answer.
"No. I said I thought I loved him. I know now that I never truly loved him like
that. I loved him as a friend, yes, but nothing more. He still broke my heart th
ough. I thought we were going to get married and have kids, live in Forks for th
e rest of our lives." Bella smirked and then started to laugh. "Could you pictur
e me and Emmett with kids and a house with a white picket fence?"
"Two dogs running around in the yard?"
"Exactly! We were never meant to be, but it doesn't mean it didn't hurt when he
broke up with me."
"I thought it was mutual." Alice cocked her head to the side, trying to remember
what Bella had told her about her breakup with Emmett.
"Well it wasn't, but he doesn't know that. We were in our first year of college
at different schools. I didn't have any trouble staying faithful to him, but . .
."
"He cheated on you?"
"No. He never did, but the desire was there and he wasn't sure how much longer h
e could hold out."
"So he broke up with you?"
"I told him that I felt the same way, but I really was just trying to make the b
reakup amicable and not awkward. He was my best friend and I didn't want to lose
him. Please don't tell him or Rose! Oh God, if Rose found out . . ." Bella shud
dered in her seat Rosalie was scary.
"Okay, so getting back on track," Alice said very business-like. "You're afraid
to be excited about Edward?"
"Yes. I don't want to talk about him and get all ga-ga over him because it just
hurts that much worse when they leave." She took another sip of her beer and rea
lized it was gone. "Need another one?"
"I'm good," Alice replied, watching Bella stand up from her seat and head into t
he kitchen.
The doorbell rang just as Bella took a step back into the living room and she tu
rned to answer the door. It was like déjà-vu with Edward and Jazz smiling at her whe
n she opened the door and she ushered them in and took their coats after receivi
ng a kiss on the cheek from each one, Edward's lingering a little longer, but no
t long enough to her liking.
"Can I get you guys a beer?" she asked. They both responded in the positive and
Bella disappeared again, returning with three Moose Drool's this time.
"Is this the stuff Jake brought over?" Edward cocked an eye at Bella, questionin
g her choice of beer.
"It's actually good try it!"
The four of them talked about the game until the timer went off indicating Alice
's bread was ready. The girls left the guys alone in the living room and Bella c
ould hear the sounds of a baseball game on TV. Shaking her head, she set the tab
le and got everything ready for dinner before calling them in.
Dinner conversation centered on the upcoming murder mystery charity night. Ticke
ts were expensive, but that was the whole idea. Emmett and Rosalie had purchased
theirs already and the guys told Bella and Alice that they were all set as well
. Jazz spoke in great detail about the chair he was putting together for the auc
tion and all three of them laughed at his idea, Edward feeling sorry for the per
son who ended up with a saddle. But someone would bid on it, of that he was sure
. Jazz was one of the greatest pitchers in the National League.
After dinner, the four of them worked together to clear the table and put the di
shes in the dishwasher; then Alice and Jazz disappeared upstairs in her room for
a little while. Bella got the movie ready and then sat on the couch with Edward
, each of them with another Moose Drool.
"I told you it was good."
"It's okay." He shrugged.
"I've got a question for you and I want you to answer it honestly, okay?"
Edward's eyebrows pinched together, concern gleaming in his eyes and Bella felt
bad, she didn't mean to worry him. "Okay," he said evenly.
"It's not bad, I promise. This is going to sound odd, but I was wondering," she
began, playing with the seam of her jeans, "if I'm a distraction to you at the g
ames?" Her face was turned down, too embarrassed to face him.
Edward reached out and placed his fingers under her chin, lifting her face to lo
ok at him. "Why would you think that?"
"Fred a season ticket holder that sits behind me has been taking bets on how oft
en you look at me." She frowned up at him. "You're not doing as well as you shou
ld. You went 1-5 today and your average is dropping, so I was just wondering if
. . ."
"If you were the reason I'm not hitting well?"
"Yes."
Edward pulled Bella into his side, squishing her against him, placing a kiss on
top of her head. "I am distracted, Bella, but it has nothing to do with you."
"What's going on?" she asked, pulling back to look in his eyes. They were a soft
green, but sad.
"This trip to San Diego just has me thinking a lot. What we talked about yesterd
ay and what I need to do I've just got a lot on my mind."
"One week from tomorrow you'll be back in Chicago," she murmured, snuggling agai
nst his side again. He smelled so delicious; he didn't have the scent of raspber
ries on him today, but his cologne Woods and the soap he used mixed with the sme
ll of beer from his lips.
Bella turned her head up and looked at the lips that she couldn't get out of her
mind. They were full and wet from the beer he was drinking, a drop of moisture
beaded on one of the soft lines . . . Before she could finish her thought, his l
ips had pressed against hers, a soft moan churning inside him. Kissing him had b
ecome such a guilty pleasure to Bella. She knew she shouldn't do it, not until a
fter San Diego, but she couldn't help herself, he just tasted so good and the wa
y his tongue darted in and explored her mouth, she felt like she would lose it f
rom his kisses alone.
Her lady parts started to tingle, feeling swollen as she threaded her fingers in
his hair. She pulled him closer to her, rejoicing from his hard muscles pressed
against her breasts. Even between the layers of clothing, his heat radiated off
his skin and through to her body he was electrifying, turning her flesh into a
pile of burning embers, snapping and popping as they flamed.
Edward broke the kiss first, pulling her head into his neck as he caught his bre
ath. "If we don't stop this," he gasped, "we won't be watching a movie tonight."
In that split second, Bella far from wanted to watch a movie, she wanted nothing
more than for Edward to pick her up and take her to her bedroom. Her face was b
uried in the flesh of his neck and she slipped her tongue out, tasting him there
, sighing from the tingles on her tongue and then she heard him groan, pulling h
er body away from him.
"You're not helping any." His eyes were little balls of green fire, darkened fro
m the passion with sparkly bits of light flickering looking savage.
Bella swallowed and tried to calm her erratic breathing. "When did you become th
e responsible one?"
Edward laughed, pulling Bella onto his lap and holding her like a child against
him. "I want to do this right, Bella. And this is the right thing to do for both
of us."
The two of them sat on the couch, Bella in his lap, and watched the White Sox ga
me on TV until Alice and Jazz reappeared downstairs. Bella ran upstairs quickly
to grab a pillow and blanket and when she came back down, Alice and Jazz had pos
itioned themselves on one of the oversized chairs leaving her and Edward the cou
ch, where she sat down next to him, barely touching his side.
Sometime during the movie, Edward's arm made it around Bella's shoulders and the
n her head found its way to his shoulder, eventually ending with Bella lying on
the couch with her head on her pillow in his lap, his arm resting over her waist
as his other hand played with the curls in her hair, wrapping them around his f
ingers.
It had been a while since Bella or Edward had seen the movie and though they rem
embered all their favorite lines saying them out loud during the movie neither o
f them thought about the underlying cause of why Jake and Lynn's relationship en
ded to begin with he had been having affairs while out on the road.
At the first mention of this in the movie, both Edward and Bella tensed up. She
couldn't believe she had forgotten about that aspect of the film. The first time
she saw the movie, she hadn't known about her mother and Phil and every time sh
e had seen it since then, it just reinforced her hatred for baseball players. No
w was different. Now, she wasn't sure how she felt, but her body didn't react ve
ry well.
Edward's hand began to rub up and down her arm and she turned her head to look u
p at him. He didn't look like he was doing too well himself. What would Alice do
? she asked herself. Bella was reminded of the conversation she had with Alice o
n the way to Milwaukee and how she and Jazz got through this stuff. What would A
lice do in this situation? Alice is in this situation, Einstein! She's sitting w
ith her boyfriend watching the same movie. Bella's eyes shifted to the chair to
see Alice and Jazz cuddling together, holding hands and kissing every so often.
Hold his hand, Bella, let him know you're okay.
When Edward's hand neared hers on his descent down her arm, Bella turned her han
d over and caught his. Awkwardly maneuvering their hands so that her palm was on
top of the back of his hand, she laced her fingers down through his and then pu
lled his hand to her stomach his palm burning through her shirt, penetrating int
o her skin. Too afraid to look at him, she kept her eyes focused on the TV, not
really paying attention to the movie anymore. Every so often, Edward's hand woul
d move a little or his fingers would wiggle slowly, grazing her stomach and igni
ting a fire deep within. Her body was hot, but her skin chilled and she began to
sweat from their connection.
Then another scene she forgot about came on the screen; Dorn's wife watching him
on TV as he left a party with a girl on his arm. This time, Edward leaned his h
ead down as far as he could and whispered, "Sorry," in her ear while squeezing h
er fingers. She squeezed back before bringing his palm to her lips for a kiss.
When the movie ended, Bella used the bathroom, returning to find Jazz getting re
ady to leave. Alice walked him out and Edward stood up, walking over to where sh
e stood. "I should get going too. I know you've got a presentation to get ready
for." Bella's heart soared he remembered her presentation. Unfortunately, she'd
been dragging her feet on it, spending time with him instead of doing her work.
She'd be up all night working on it now. She had promised Chad that she'd have t
he Power Point presentation ready to go for tomorrow.
Wrapping his arms around her, Edward drew Bella close to him, breathing in the s
cent of her hair. "Can we do lunch tomorrow?" he asked, breathing out against he
r temple.
"I actually have the whole day off," she said, pulling back to look at him. "If
I can get everything done tonight, we can do whatever you want."
"I'll call you in the morning. Is there anything you want to do? Navy Pier? Mich
igan Avenue?"
"I've never been to the top of the Cock."
The crooked smile that melted Bella's insides spread across Edward's face. "I th
ink we can take care of that."
"I bet," she chuckled. "Now, get going. I have a lot of work to do if you're goi
ng to kidnap me tomorrow."
Edward pulled her in close again and pressed his lips against hers. It was meant
to be an innocent kiss but, as always, he lingered longer than originally plann
ed and Bella opened her mouth to him, enticing him by running her tongue along h
is bottom lip. He was lost to her and the crazy pain that exploded in his heart
each time they kissed. The pain always did him in as it seeped through his heart
, down his chest and stomach to his aching hard-on. He groaned against her mouth
and pulled away.
It was becoming harder and harder to hold back and not take her over the side of
the couch as he was now envisioning. He wanted to be deep inside of her, sweaty
skin against sweaty skin. His vision blurred as he stared at her. Inhaling slow
ly and closing his eyes, he held her at arms length.
"You have no idea what you do to me," his voice quivered. Leaning in, he kissed
her gently on the forehead and murmured, "Goodnight," before slipping away and o
ut the door.
~GO CUBS~
Bella stayed up all night working on her project, knowing that the reward would
be well worth it a day with Edward roaming around Chicago. One of the things she
hadn't done since moving to the Windy City was go sight seeing like a tourist w
ould. She had done a few things, like take the architectural water tour through
the Chicago River. It was very interesting and she had Emmett with her, which wa
s great because he added more insight into the tour, considering he was an archi
tect and knew his stuff. She had also been to Navy Pier, Shedd Aquarium, Field M
useum, Grant Park had to see the famous Buckingham Fountain from Married With Ch
ildren, but other than those few things, she never got to enjoy the city the way
a tourist would.
She woke early too early to her cell phone ringing, 'Go Cubs Go!' singing out lo
udly by her ear.
"Someone better be dead," she moaned into the receiver, trying to figure out the
time, but her vision was blurred from the sleep in her eyes.
Edward chuckled on the other end. "Too early for you?"
"No," she groaned, sitting up in her bed and rubbing her eyes. Finally, she was
able to read the clock by her bedside 7:16 AM. "Yes."
"How late did you stay up?"
"I don't know." She yawned in his ear. "The last I looked, it was a little after
four." Bella's eyes scanned her room and she noticed that her laptop was still
on her bed at the foot and opened. She must've . . . well, she wasn't sure what
she had done, but now she wasn't even sure if she finished everything she needed
to.
"I'll be at your place at nine." There was humor in his voice and Bella suddenly
realized he was laughing at her.
"Bring the biggest coffee you can find and a Squagle from Cosi's."
"No one would ever dare call you a Trixie," he said sarcastically, the laughter
still in his voice.
"Did you just call me a Trixie?" She was awake now. Trixie's were the bane of Be
lla's existence. The one thing she loathed about living in Lincoln Park was the
thought of being stereotyped as one. But she had one thing going for her; she wa
sn't a blond.
"Bella, it was a joke."
"Oh, Eddie, you don't know who you're playing with, do you?"
He laughed heartily on the other end; "apparently the President for the Lincoln
Park Trixie Society."
"I'll see you at ten," she seethed, trying to hide the giggles that wanted to co
me out. She really wasn't mad, but she couldn't believe that he had the gall to
call her a Trixie of all things!
"Nine!" he said loudly into the phone before disconnecting.
At 9:00 AM sharp, Edward rapped on the door. Bella answered it wearing a very ti
ght light pink Cubs t-shirt and a very short skirt, which looked like it might h
ave been Alice's it was something Alice would wear, not Bella. She wore an evil
smirk on her face, her eyes playfully challenging him.
"You look lovely today," he smiled brightly, trying not to react to her outfit t
ypical of a Trixie at a Cubs game.
"You're not so bad yourself," she crooned, laying the sugar on extra thick. He w
ore jeans and a blue long-sleeved cotton shirt with the Abercrombie logo on it,
a white t-shirt underneath.
"You're going to be cold in that." He stepped into her home, shutting the door b
ehind him. "Why don't you go change into something warmer?"
"What, are you too embarrassed to be seen with a fan?" She fluttered her lashes.
"You can dress like a Trixie if you want, Bella. I'm sure the news papers will l
ove it."
He had her there. She really didn't want to be seen looking the way she did typi
cal Lincoln Park Trixie get-up. She huffed loudly before stalking upstairs to ch
ange into something more casual and warm jeans and a brown short-sleeved t-shirt
with her light blue and gray Cubs hoodie on top.
They drove into the city and parked in a parking garage on Michigan Ave. Once th
ey were out in the pleasant Chicago air, Bella smiled brightly, extending her ar
ms out and breathing in deeply. She loved the city. Living in a small town all h
er life, she was used to everyone knowing her business and she hated it. Here, i
n Chicago, it was rare for her to run into anyone she knew while walking down th
e streets there were so many people.
"Where to first?" he asked, enjoying the way the wind lifted her hair, twirling
it around.
"I'm not sure," she sighed, stopping where she stood to turn around in all direc
tions. "It's still kind of early, why don't we take a walk through Grant Park or
by the bean "
"The bean?" Edward asked, his eyes rising in confusion.
"The big silver looking bean thing," she said dismissively.
"The cloud gate?"
Bella laughed. "Is that what they really call it? I like the bean better."
"To the bean, then." Edward laughed, placing his hand on the small of her back a
nd leading her across the busy street.
As silly as the bean sounded, it was really a lot of fun. There were tons of peo
ple crowded around the shiny silver contraption, but none of them seemed to reco
gnize Edward, which was what Bella was fearful of. She wanted to have this fun d
ay with him without anyone bothering them and so far, she had gotten just what s
he was hoping for.
Once she was inside the opening of the bean, Bella put her hands up against the
structure, her reflection looking down upon her as she looked up. "Hey, stay lik
e that," Edward said, and she complied, turning her stare over at him. He pulled
out his cell phone and snapped a picture of her and the bean, her reflection lo
oming above her head.
"Your turn," she said, changing places with him. Edward placed his hands up agai
nst the silver bean and looked at Bella with his prize-winning smile. She took a
couple of pictures of him before a woman came over and offered to take one of t
he two of them together. Bella handed her phone over to the woman, a little afra
id that she would run off with it, and then jumped next to Edward and put her ha
nds up next to his. The lady told them to say cheese, and as they did, she took