April 16, 2011

Chapter Six


Sunday arrives much faster than I'd hoped it would've.

On Thursday, Kate called to tell me that Esme and Alice had to cancel on our meeting Friday and to ask if I was available today instead. As opposed to going into detail about the 'day of rest' and why I'd need it after Saturday, I just agreed to meet them at noon.

On the drive out to their house, my mind is turbulent with thoughts. Work. School. The mentor program.

And, begrudgingly, Edward.

I've been trying to immerse myself in my schedule. In the chaotic grind that repeats itself every week. And for the most part, I can at least put off the madness in my head as long as I stay busy.

But then the weekends come.

No matter how much schoolwork I have or how hard I try to concentrate on it, the dam I spent the week holding in place gives way. In the small, silent space of my dorm room, all of the avoidance in the world can't repel the whirlwind.

My frustration with not being able to devote all of my attention to my studies is in overdrive. My decision to accept Edward's offer hadn't come easily. It wasn't something I took lightly. I'd weighed my options and agonized over it, doing everything in my power to prevent it from being my only option. But, in the end, I'd made a monumental sacrifice of self-respect in exchange for the security that it would afford me with school. For the chance it could give me to pull my grades up hold my failure at bay. And for what? So that I could spend the whole two days I have at my disposal distracted by thoughts that no good can come from?

When I left the Cullen house Tuesday, I hadn't done so alone. A tiny seed had been planted in the back of my mind, rooting itself there. As the days pass, I feel it sprouting up. Feeding off of any quiet, freed up period of time. The dead moments... when I'm alone in my own head...trigger its growth. Questions, bright and fragrant bloom from it. Vines of gnawing curiosity swathe themselves over, through, all around my mindset.

I tell myself it's none of my concern.

And then the photo flashes behind my eyes.

It's none of my business.

The glow of the sunlight in the strands of a little blond ponytail.

He's enough of a distraction without this too.

The brilliant white teeth of his smile...white that I'm not privy to.

I have my own life to worry about.

One set of vivid blue eyes gazing up into another equally striking pair.

You know nothing about him. You don't need to. He doesn't give two shits about me, why should I care?

The ache of sadness I felt when presented with visual proof that, at some point, Edward was...human.

It pisses me off.

I'd been having a hard enough time with the reality that it may have a mother...without the added possibility of a soul too.

I'm surprisingly angry about this turn of events. I don't want to know this about him. The uncanny way he effects me is bad enough. Now I had this on top of it. It'd gotten so bad, I'd almost Googled him.


My common sense and maddening curiosity went toe to toe. The end result? A blood blister on my thumb when common sense won and I slammed my laptop closed on it.

I'm mad that I'm wasting thought on him. He's a miserable prick who never spares me a second thought. Why the hell should I give him one? I wish I had a rewind button. I'd go back and mind my own damn business in the study that day. But nothing is ever that easy. What's done is done.

It doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.

When I ring the bell, it's Esme that answers.

"Hello, Bella. Please, come on in."

She closes the door and turns to face me. The way she smiles at me. It's unnerving. I know she's being cordial, but I feel uneasy. I fidget with the strap of my messenger bag and look down at my feet.

Away from her eyes and how they make me want to smile back.

"Kate isn't actually here yet. She called and said she was running about a half an hour late."

She has my attention again. I look up at her and hate how awkward I feel.

What the hell do I do now?

"Well, okay. Do you-"

I'm cut off as the cell phone she's holding rings. She smiles at me apologetically and holds a finger up.

"I'm sorry, Bella. This is work calling and I really need to take it. Excuse me. Make yourself comfortable."

She misses the snort I give as she rounds the corner.

Make yourself comfortable.

They're the same words Carlisle said to me the last time I was here. And just like that, I find myself in the exact same situation as Tuesday. On my own...just me and my thoughts.

Oh, goodie. More of that.

I glance to my left and into the dark study.

No, thank you. Lesson learned.

I look down the two steps into the living room area ahead of me, but decide against it. I already feel like in an intruder here.

For so many reasons.

Deciding to just stay put, I wander farther into the foyer. In the very center of the oval-shaped space is a tall, round table. A beautifully plush arrangement of flowers rests in a vase on top. They're real. I can smell the lilies.

I can't wait until Kate gets here. I feel...on edge being here alone. I barely know the Cullens. I don't exactly flourish in social situations, but I know how important this experience is for my future. It's for that reason that I haven't already fled the scene with my tail tucked between my legs.

And then there's the added knowledge that this is, in some capacity, Edward's family. Cullen. I just might have written that off as nothing. It's not like it would have exactly been a stretch. It's hard to imagine Edward here, in this house. In this home. With these people...related to these people who seem so...normal. Kind, considerate...humane.

But the photo...having seen that eradicates any chance of this being coincidence. And the roster of feelings that all of it causes, is not welcomed.

And then there's Alice.

I'm still not sure where I stand with her. On Tuesday she was civil enough to me, I suppose, when it called for it. But I noticed she didn't go out of her way to engage me herself, or include me in conversation. Whenever our eyes met, I could see a questioning lingering there. I can only assume it has something to do with how we met. In the study. She seemed emotionless about the photo itself, but her reaction to me was different. Looking back, I can imagine how it must have seemed. A complete stranger standing in her father's study holding that picture, of all things.

I still recall the way I felt when I was looking down at his face. So similar. So drastically different. At the girl, so young. Wondering who she was to him. At the complete mystery that it was-still is-to me. How the pad of my finger sliding over his face still did nothing to make sense what I was seeing. And I can only imagine how I must have looked. How the surely stunned look on my face might have appeared to her. Why she said what she did.

'You know him.'

And while I do, it isn't in any capacity that I'd be willing to share. With anyone.

Trying to redirect my frame of mind, I let my gaze wander and stop when my eyes land on the long canvas above me. I have to tilt my head back to see the entirety of it. Like before, I admire how unique it is. The contrast between the black lines of foundation and the lighter watercolors that overlap them is pleasing to the eye.

Standing this close to it affords me better sight and I notice a streak of black that I hadn't before. Down in the bottom right corner is what appears to be a signature. It's written atop the pastel of the watercolors, I'd guess with a fine tipped paintbrush. The black paint is thicker, slightly raised off of the surface of the canvas. Leaning forward to get a closer look, I squint and am finally able to make it out. It's a signature, but there's a short inscription as well.

For to ease your pain, Linc

I'm not entirely sure why, but I lift my arm with the intention of running them over the words. But just as I extend my arm, a shooting pain stabs at the back of my neck all the way down to my hips, where it pools and aches. I cup my hand around the back of my neck and massage it, closing my eyes and tilting my head back onto my shoulders.

The soreness drags behind it an onslaught of remembrance from last night's dalliance with Edward.


Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

It's a constant chant in my head as I park my car and run for the entrance of The Citadel. If I can make it up in about five minutes, I won't be late.

Of course today of all days, I would sleep through my alarm. The entire week has been hellacious. It's becoming routine. I never thought I'd miss the way things had been in my life for the last six years. I may have been overworked and overextended, but things were strangely...simpler then.

I'm a panting, breathless mess by the time I reach the security desk. Bracing myself on the counter with one hand, I flatten the other on my chest and try to catch my breath. I look up at the guard, the same one from last week, and take a stab at a friendly face through the huffing and puffing.

Hurry the fuck up, Bella!

He has mercy on me.

"Swan for Cullen, right?" As opposed to surprise this time, he looks...confused?

Whatever. I don't have time to impress him, or figure out what's so bewildering about my visiting.

I nod my head and point toward the elevators, silently asking if it's okay to go on up.

When he motions for me to go ahead, I sprint toward them and mash the button...repeatedly.

I don't care that it doesn't make the doors open sooner. It makes me feel better, damn it.

I've mastered a somewhat normal breathing pattern on the way up and by the time I'm stepping off, I've calmed it completely. I take a second longer to reaffirm the plan I'd put in place.

Remember, Bella. What you saw...the photo...it doesn't change anything. None of it is your business. He's none of your business outside of this.

Feeling rooted in my determination, I knock on the door and wait. It opens.

Turns out, the pep talk was unnecessary. There'll be no effort needed on my part to stay focused on him...on this.

I'll never get used to the way he makes me feel. Just standing there, clenching his jaw and already glaring at me. My body rebels, ignoring every despicable thing about him. It bases its opinion exclusively on the way he makes it feel.

I can't decide on a dominant emotion. Indignation and arousal slice through one another in competition for top spot. It's an unexpectedly heady combination.

I want to throttle him.

I want to mount him.

Holy shit. What is wrong with me?

He's not shirtless this time, and I want to slap myself for the pout I only just manage to curb.

Really, Bella?

He's wearing all black...again. The contrast between his pale skin and the color of his clothing is striking. The unique bronze color of his hair stands out, even peripherally. He's barefoot. Dress shirt, untucked and unbuttoned. Dress pants, sans belt, slung low on his hips as before.

My tongue brushes the back of my teeth.

The expanse of his abs that's showing is just as impressive as I'd remembered. For just a moment, I'm bitter about being forbidden to touch him. Mad that I can't run my finger over the indentation of muscle that forms a 'v'...following his hips down and disappearing under the waist of his pants.

The dispute between my physical desire for him and my hatred for the way he regards me is crippling.

A contest of strength.

I don't try and kid myself about which will win once I'm enclosed in these walls.

There's no consolation prize. Both sides end up in the same place when it's all said and done with.

Engulfed in shame and self flagellation.

His right arm is lifted and extended, gripping the door. It's written all over his face. He doesn't plan on moving. I'll have to squeeze sideways between the door and him. His childish instigation is exasperating.

The furious urgency from Tuesday is gone. The hurried, desperate way he'd maneuvered me in the supply closet. Just thinking of it causes my face to heat. I hadn't expected him to acknowledge it, of course, but his unpredictability makes me uneasy. He's back to being cool and controlled.


I make a mental note: Get used to the emotional whiplash.

I take in a deep breath and just go for it, turning and shuffling my feet sideways to slide under his arm. I keep my eyes on the floor, yet can feel his piercing into me.

His scent sneaks up on me. Bewitching me. I momentarily weigh the consequences of reaching up on my toes and sniffing that space...

The space between his collarbone and the bottom of his jaw.

Right in the crook there...

I'm so caught up that I miss my contemplation phasing into action. Just as the heels of my feet leave the ground, his voice cuts through the fog.

"Today, Isabella!" His upper body recoils away from me. His revulsion of unnecessary physical contact is staggering.

Startled, and mortified with myself, I snatch away from him and start toward the living room.

"Not so fast."

I look back at him only long enough to see him nod his head toward a hallway to my right and arch an eyebrow.

Right, eyes down.

I turn on my heel and head down it blindly. Not for lack of light, but because I have no idea where it is I'm supposed to go.

"The door at the end of the hall. Inside. Strip."

I can feel myself becoming accustomed to the way he speaks to me. The initial impact of his words is only a fraction less severe, but I know they'll never lose their desired effect. It triggers a morbid sort of relief inside of me. I'm learning to brace myself for his eruptions.

I walk through the opened door at the end of the hallway and into a bedroom. My first thought is that it's a guest room, but I spy a watch, wallet, cell phone and change on one of the black night stands.

This must be his room.

Just like the rest of his place, there's a sterility that coats every surface. It's...sad.

Champagne colored walls and carpeting. The low, white ceiling gives the room an elongated feel. Like the night stands, the dresser and entertainment center on the wall to the left are both black wood. On the right wall...the bed. California King. It's neatly made, outfitted in dark cream, three perfectly places charcoal throw pillows at the head.

I can feel him behind me...his presence looms over my shoulder like a fog. Rolling over me slowly...impairing my judgement, debilitating every last ounce of functioning sense. He's authoritative, even in silence. Because he's already given his command.

Just as the last time, I close my eyes and...obey, quickly ridding myself of every stitch of clothing. I remain facing the bed, my back to him.

I concentrate on my breathing. It keeps me from thinking about other things.

My nudity.

My nerves.

My shame.

My arousal.

"Hands and knees. On the bed."

I waste no time, scrambling immediately into position. It has less to do with complying and more to do with my total lack of control here. My actions are all I have. And the less forethought I carry them out with, the better.

I hold still and ready myself for whatever he has planned.

Or so I thought.

"Tell me, Isabella, do you fuck yourself?"

My reaction is instantaneous. My eyes flutter and close. My nipples stiffen painfully. And a throbbing...warm and wet, induced by his words.

My fingers curl into the bed.

And what he does next simultaneously stuns and thrills me.

The flat of his palm comes down and swats me between my legs with a sting, disappearing just as quickly.

"Answer me!"

Another slap...the wetness there adds to the punctuating sting.

Now he wants an answer.

"No!" I force the word out with more volume than necessary. It feels good to be able to vocalize.

"No?" His tone is rich in mock surprise.

Here it comes...

The taunting...

The humiliation...

His foreplay.

"Well, neither do I. When I say six o' clock, Isabella..."

My eyes snap up to the night stand, to the clock there.

The red digital numbers read 6:11.


His mouth lowers down next to my left ear from behind.

"...that's exactly what I mean."

I shudder from the hostility in his tone and bite the inside of my cheek.

Straightening up and walking around me, past the foot of the bed, he stands on the opposite side of it.

Facing me, staring me down...he begins the game.

"You see, I don't fuck myself. That's what you're here for."

I stare at the crisscrossed pattern of stitching on the comforter below me. It keeps me from concentrating on other things.

The adrenaline raging through me.

From fear...

From excitement...

In my periphery, the only sight I'm left with, I see his shirt slide down his arms and to the floor.

I clench my teeth and fight the compulsion I have to look up at him.

His hands go to his waist, and his pants are gone as well.

When his boxer briefs join the pile, I'm so on edge that I blanch when he speaks next.

"You made me wait. And now you will too."

Completely nude, he situates himself at the top of the bed with his back against the headboard. His legs stretched out and spread in front of him.

And as he reaches down and curls his hand around the base of his cock, I go rigid.

"Get over here, Isabella."

I raise up onto my knees, but he stops me.

"No." I freeze.

His voice plummets, low and malicious.


The venom that drips from his words is nearly tangible. I can feel it strike out at me, piercing through my defenses and entwining itself around my backbone.

Every time he addresses me, it's with an artistry, really. He operates with considerable strength. Unquestionable dominance. And I can't help but wonder, for just a moment...

Would it really be so bad?

To relinquish the death grip I'm struggling to keep on resistance?

To just...relent?

God knows it would be so much easier without the constant war in my head.

I feel a deterioration begin inside of me.

A crumbling...

The slow evaporation of the fight I've been clinging to. The disembowelment of my dignity. The total evisceration of objection.

His mere presence oppresses me...and I let it.

No one else is here.

No one else could know.

It's reminiscent of Tuesday...in that closet.

Once I'd been pulled out of the light and into the darkness, it felt...safe. An asylum from the actuality of what was happening. I was being used, debased. But being shrouded in total blackness gave me a sense of security, however false it may have been. I may have spent days chastising myself for not putting up more of a fight, but I'd be lying to myself if I said it didn't feel goddamned good to numb myself of the consequences. To put it all off until it was over.

I'd done it then.

I could do it again.

A quiet negotiation takes place between my sanity and my arousal. Both having something to gain from this game plan. My sanity's break from his mind games. My arousal's chance to...surrender to the pleasure. Without the shame. To partake in something purely carnal, without the burden of analyzation. Each side accedes, forfeiting control and leaving the other to indulge.

So with one long, deep breath in and out...

I let go.

Eyes down, I crawl over to him on my hands and knees and stop just as his feet enter my field of vision.

"Now, since you couldn't manage to get here on time, I don't think you deserve to participate at all."

My stomach plummets. He relaxes further into the headboard and rests his hands on either side of himself.

"Closer, Isabella."

He sounds...wicked. Contented with himself for whatever mind game he's about to unleash onto me.

I crawl toward him and am not surprised when he spreads his legs wider to avoid contact with my knees. I make sure to keep plenty of room between my hands and the outside of both of his thighs, which I'm now looking down at.

"Closer." I can hear the sinful smirk resting on his lips.

My hands begin to shake as I lift them and carefully place them on either side of his hips...again, granting a wide berth. My eyes closed while his thighs were still in my sight. I'm not sure I'm ready to be this close and stay cognizant of the rules.

My body is a live wire. I clench my teeth. His nearness is arresting. I'm as close to braced as I can manage. But for what? I have no idea what he's thinking.

Although I should be used to it by now, it still rocks me when he roughly snatches my head back by my ponytail with his left hand. I know better than to open my eyes.

Warm breath and hot words.

"My, my. What a good little slut you are." For all of a nanosecond, I'm proud of myself. His insult doesn't ignite the same level of ire it would have before. Letting go...numbing myself to get through our time together...it just might work.

As he speaks, his face moves from one side of mine to the other. He's baiting me. Trying to provoke me into self sabotage.

He breathes deeply in and then out through his nose. "Still, I don't think you deserve for me to fuck you. I mean, hear I am overlooking how rude it was of you to arrive late."

He sucks his breath through his teeth in contemplation.

Pulling my face so close to his own that I can feel the warmth of his cheek on mine, he hisses at me.

"I think that was awfully considerate of me, don't you?"

I'm not sure whether he really wants me to talk, so I err on the side of caution and silent.

"Express your gratitude, Isabella."

Without any finesse, he pushes my head down toward his lap. Figuring my eyes are safe from his view, I open them. As everything comes into focus, so do the meaning of his words.

He wants me to...

I've never done this with anyone before.

Keeping a firm grip on my hair with his left hand, he holds himself with his right and presses down on my head. When I feel the heat of his flesh on my lips, I open my mouth and quickly close it around him. Because he's still soft, and I can't use my hands, it's awkward trying to establish a rhythm. Despite this, he begins to harden inside my mouth.

And that's when I do panic.

Just as I'd deduced before, he is considerable in size. I can only take in half of his length before I feel my gag reflex respond. I feel self-concious about everything.

Am I doing this right?

Am I going fast enough?

How the hell am I supposed to keep my teeth off of him?

Am I supposed to keep them off of him?

I can't go off of his reaction. Because there isn't one. He's as still and calm as he was before I started.

So caught up in the mechanics of things, I'm caught off guard by what he does next.

Without warning, he pushes down on my head...hard.

I gag and, by reflex, try to pull back. He freezes, but holds my head in place.

"If you want to safe word, tap the bed." He's aggravated at having to address this.

I remain still, breathing through my nose and willing myself to calm down.

"Then stop fucking squirming and suck my cock."

He resumes his impatient guidance of my mouth up and down. I gag every time he pushes down, causing my eyes to tear. He takes advantage, thrusting forward and holding for a few seconds each time.

Upon every withdrawal, I take a deep breath through my nose.

The absurdity of the situation does not escape me. I'm well aware of how compliant I'm being. And it's a good thing. If he's this unforgiving now, I don't care for the alternative.

As long as I keep my mind concentrated on my breathing and not his callous treatment, I don't freak out...much.

He abruptly pulls my head back. "Enough."

I can't help but wonder if the lack of resistance on my part sullies the act for him. In any event, I stop, pulling back and lowering my eyes.

And I see it now. Long and hard. Pink flesh, thick and glistening...because of me. Realistically, I know that a mouth is a mouth, but still. For a brief moment, I feel a twisted sort of pride at having anything to do with it.

"Sit up."

I sit back on my heels and close my eyes, my arms resting at my sides. I feel the slight shift of the bed and try to quell my nerves.

"Turn around." As always, his dictating extracts docility from me with very little effort on his part. The difference now being that I've succumb to it.

I do as I'm told.

If I didn't know better, I'd say that it's agitating him.

Remaining on my knees, I turn my back to him. My heart is pounding so hard I can feel it in my throat.

Just as I steady myself on both knees, his hands wrap around both of my ankles and snatch. Having no chance to brace myself, I fall forward onto my hands. He then pulls back on my legs until I'm straddling his lap backwards. Without thinking, I act on reflex and place my hands on the top of his thighs.

Immediately, he releases my ankles and grabs each of my wrists, flinging them away from him.

"Don't fucking touch me!" Cold and threatening.

I silently chastise myself for forgetting the rule and hold my arms stretched out at my sides, hands open, showing him that I got the message.

It doesn't placate him. The damage is done.

He's livid now.

"Are you deaf or just stupid, Isabella? Hands. To. Yourself. Which one of those words is so goddamned confusing to you? And here I was feeling generous...about to let you ride my cock."

Abandoning whatever plan he had for me, he rises up onto his knees behind me and harshly pushes on the small of my back until I'm laying flat on my stomach. I rest my chin on the bed and remember the pledge I made to myself to comply.

From the corner of my eye, I see him slide over and off of the bed.

"You couldn't just be happy with what you had, could you? On your feet, Isabella. Get over here."

Without hesitation, I go to him. Keeping my eyes on my own feet, I walk until we're standing face to face.

"Turn the fuck around."

I oblige and my entire body breaks out in goosebumps when he utters his next words.

"Since you're feeling so handsy, let's give you something to hold onto. Bend over. Grab your ankles. And don't fucking let go until I tell you to."

Holy shit.

With shaky hands, I bend at the waist and do as he says. I feel my muscles in my back and legs stretch, unaccustomed to the strain of the position.

"That's right, Isabella. Get that tight little ass up in the air."

His execution is flawless. He never fumbles, never fidgets. He knows exactly where he wants me. Swiftly and without warning, he shoves a finger inside of me. All the way in, and pulls it out without lingering.

"Look at that. Dripping like a fucking faucet. I guess we can add greed to the list of reasons you won't be getting off."

I hear the crinkling of the condom wrapper and several seconds later, I'm confused when I feel him...playing with my hair?

How naive of me.

One...two..three times he wraps my ponytail around his left wrist. He secures a merciless hold on me.

I keep my head bowed down, poised and at his whim.

Bending over and hovering over my right ear, his tone of voice drips with amusement.

"You'd better hold on tight."

He straightens back up, yanks my head back as far as it will go, and slams into me.

The momentum from his hips transfers to mine on contact. I'm shoved forward and onto my toes with a jolt, only to be jerked back by my hair.

And this is the pattern he follows as he roughly takes me from behind. I close my eyes and try to focus on the sensations throughout my body, cataloguing them as I go.

The tension in my calves, knees and thighs as he unsparingly rocks forward into me, propelling me forward.

My neck is stretched taut, my scalp stinging as he pulls me back onto him.

Push, pull, push, pull.

He's relentless, establishing and maintaining a turbulent pace.

Aside from the usual grunting, he makes no noise. The blood rushes to my head and my pulse sounds loudly in my ears.

I'm so busy trying to stay in the precarious position, that I'm rattled when he bends his knees and begins thrusting upward...and much, much harder. It isn't the vigor he delivers with, but the unexpected friction and how divine it feels.

I'm caught completely off guard by the shock of pleasure and my knees buckle slightly. Although I recover before it compromises his angle, I know it's enough to tip him off.

He pulls out of me and pulls on my hair again.

"Turn around. On your knees." Breathless and clipped.

I drop into a squat, spin around and kneel in front of him.

I'm completely unprepared for the sight before me.

At my eye level, mere inches from my face, he stands. His right hand curled around and moving rapidly over his cock. The muscles in his arm and abdomen flex and shift beneath his skin.

He reaches out and grips me hard with his left hand. Strong, warm fingers wrap around the right side of my neck while his thumb presses into and and down on my chin. My mouth is forced open and he leans forward, resting only the head of his cock just inside my lips.

He continues roughly jerking his hand up and down his length. As he does so, the sides of his thumb and index finger repeatedly collide with my lips, pushing them into my teeth over and over with every upstroke.

I wince, but stay put.

"Fuck. I'm gonna come inside that hot little mouth of yours, Isabella. Damn you look good down there. I bet you do your best work on those knees, don't you?"

The valiance I'd armed myself with waivers at his words. His cruelty is astounding.

He's completely unmerciful.

He tightens his hold on my neck and chin just as I feel the first of many streams land. In my mouth, over my lips, down my chin, my breasts...I close off my throat to keep from swallowing any of it. I'm surprised he hasn't demanded it of me.

"Don't you spill a drop. You'll be licking it up from the fucking floor, Isabella."

When he's through, me releases me with a shove and I brace my hands flat on the floor behind me.

"Get your shit and get out." He slams the bathroom door behind him and I hear the shower start.

My legs feel like rubber as I stand and make a bee line for my jeans. I came prepared this time. I pull the travel size pack of wet wipes out and spit into one, using two more and making quick work of my cleanup.

Once I'm outside the confines of his penthouse, the aftermath descends. I always feel like a different person when he's near me. Maybe that's where the appeal lies. The reason for the aggressive compulsion to submit. To disregard good sense and bend to his will.

I'm not ready to face the cascade of emotions that I know I'll have brought upon myself by choosing to do what I did tonight. By numbing myself.

I'm not ready to admit that his tight grip on control...relieves me of the burden of mine.

So I won't.


"I'm so sorry that took so long."

Esme's voice and the clacking of her heels on the foyer floor tug me back into the present. I realize I've been standing in the same position for God knows how long and turn around to face her.

"Oh, Bella, you didn't have to stay in here. Please, don't hesitate. Not here. You're very welcome."

I try to change the subject, deflect from myself.

"This painting. It's beautiful. Did you paint it?"

I'm pretty sure she didn't. I don't know why I asked her that. I guess just to shift topics faster.

Some of the light leaves her eyes. She glances up and behind me. And though I'm sure she's seen it countless times, the reverence is blatant. It almost looks like she's seeing it for the first time. Her cheeks plump from the smile that cuts across her face.

She's remembering something.

Her eyes roam the length of it, top to bottom. It's incredibly important to her. It's written all over her face.

She looks at me again and the smile drips from her face slowly...taking its leave along with whatever memory was conjured.

"No. No, it was a gift."

I'm not dense enough to push. Nor would the time have been provided. The doorbell rings and the moment is over.

Thirty minutes later, Kate, Esme and I are seated at the large, round breakfast table in the kitchen. Esme insisted on making lunch and was busy tossing a large, very generously prepared chef salad. My mouth was watering from the sight, but my discomfort with the setting was overruling my appetite. The intrusive feeling I have about being here only intensifies when I hear the front door open and close.

Alice glides into the kitchen and smiles at Esme, kissing her on the cheek.

"Hi, Mom. Dad's pulled in right behind me. Kate, it's nice to see you again. Bella."

I'm given the name only greeting. Kate and Esme wouldn't think anything of it. Her tone of voice was perfectly pleasant. It was the look on her face. The one that only I saw. Whatever her problem was with me, it hadn't waned since we'd seen each other last. She wasn't glaring at me, but her expression was hard, careful.

I don't know much about Alice. I'd overheard Kate say that she was a student over at Cornish. I wasn't positive, but my guess would be something to do with music. It was the part of the ceremony she was the most vocal about on Tuesday. And then there was the small cluster of musical notes tattooed behind her ear and down the back of her neck. I roll my eyes at myself internally.

Way to go, Detective.

"Oh good. Just in time." Esme sets the large bowl of salad on the table and I just realize how rude I'm being.

"Is there anything I can help you do, Esme?"

I can tell she's about to tell me no, but whatever she sees when she looks at me stops her. It seems that while Esme is very kind, that motherly intuition she wields throws me off balance.

"Sure, Bella. Why don't you grab the glasses over off of the counter. They already have ice in them."

I rise up and walk over to the island, grateful for a distraction. I can feel Alice's eyes on me as I walk past her.

Just as I pick up the first glass, I hear footsteps approaching from the foyer. Assuming it's Carlisle, I reach for the second one when Alice's slick, suddenly friendly sounding voice addresses me.

"Bella, I don't think you've met the other man in the family!"

My entire body tenses and I freeze on the spot. All of the blood in my body is surely in my feet now. My breathing quickens and my stomach hollows out. My hands begin to shake and the cubes of ice inside the glass I'm holding clank against the side of it.

On, no. No, no, no, no, no. Please, no.

And then a deep, masculine voice.

"Hello, Bella, is it?"


Paula-Bells said...

It has to be Jasper..

ksw3 said...

God, these sex scenes remind me of rape. Even though she has consented. UGGG! Asshole! I couldnt do it. No way! I would have bitten the damn thing off!

Anonymous said...

Could be Emmett???
Oh lord... Edward isn't he???

tash perkins said...

I absolutely love this. I'm so glad you've got the guts to write this way- I know it seems pretty heavy to some readers but I find it really powerful... who doesn't love a damaged edward?

This.is.Yady! said...

Those damn rough sex scenes!! He infuriates the hell out me!

Aisling said...

I dont think its fuck head i get the feeling they dont speak but alice seems a bitch so she coulda done it on purpose

maxandmimasmummy said...

His cruelty is astounding.

He's completely unmerciful.

~Elli~Iris~ said...

Ch 6
Who is the girl? The painting…from Edward? Oh she’s late for a very important date. Not sure if his punishment worked for her. She seemed to like it. And the other family man? I understand her Edward panic but my money is on Jasper?

luvnrob said...

I would have seriously bit his dick off! He is an asshole and I cant believe Bella is putting herself through that...I feel bad for her.

Heather said...

Man i really cringed during that last sex scene. His cruelty is staggering. He is angry at women over a past experience though i can't figute it out yet. I'm assuming that was his little girl in the photo?? You are so talented to be able to evoke all of these feelings from us readers. The story is harsh but so beautifully powerful. Loving it, though I'm sure you don't get many feminist readers! Ha.

Blondemel47 said...

God he really his a callous bastard, but still there's something there. I dont know how she managed the throat stuff. I cant tolerate head pushing - it really is belittling in my book. But good on Bella she saw it through...Grab the money & run darlin.
Now the footsteps - I reckon its Emmett; am prayin its Emmett. Hopefully if he's like he usually is this could be fun. But will Bella break a glass first..

Millie said...

OMGGGGGGGGGGGGG damn is it Edward?

kelly said...

The timing In this chapter was confusing.

As much as Edward is a prick, I do understand how it kinda makes Bella feel liberated.

No way was that Edward who came in with Alice! It's definitely Jasper. Can't imagine Edward letting go of his anger issues long enough to rejoin his family :/

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think that Edward knows that he could love her. He feels attracted to Bella but since he is so closed off he refuses to believe it is anything but lust.

MissWinkles said...

fuckity fuck fuck.

can't review. reading.

It's good, you're amazing. Edward is a hot ass mofo.

x Wink