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A Second Chance at Love

Summary:
Bella dismisses Edward when he returns in New Moon. She moved on with Jacob, and promised Edward that he would find happiness and love someday. With the letter she wrote him in hand, he believes her and moves on with his life, in search of his love. Forty years later, he and the rest of the Cullens re-enroll in High school. Two new students throw his world out of orbit and he’s faced with the reality of the promise Bella made him. AU after New Moon. Edward is a little OOC because he doesn’t want to repeat history, otherwise, canon couples with the exception of Edward of course. Note: Jacob was a werewolf, but Bella wasn’t necessarily all human herself. Rated NC-17 for language and content in later chapters. Yes there will be lemons but not at first.


Notes:


3. Chapter 3 Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition

Rating 0/5   Word Count 7717   Review this Chapter

Arbie POV

The rest of the week goes by with little drama. Raven and Robin Sharpe avoid my brother and I like the plague, just as I expected they would. “Jeez. They’re avoiding you like you’re the Spanish Inquisition,” Emmett remarks Friday afternoon as the slag sisters pass by me in the hallway averting their gazes while I glare at them, spewing my disdain at them.

“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” I quip. He’s gawking at me wide eye, jaw on the floor.

“Do you even know what that quote is from?” he finally asks.

“Do you?” I retort. “Or are you a dead parrot, ex parrot or late parrot who doesn’t know anything about film and television?” I add.

“No way! The dead parrot sketch is my all time favorite!” he exclaims.

“Mine, too!” He holds his hand up for a high-five, which I smack with gusto.

“So I hear you and Eddie boy have a date tonight,” Emmett says as Edward strolls up to us.

“Indeed we do,” I reply. “Which reminds me. Where am I meeting you?” I ask.

“Ah, I can certainly pick you up from your house, if you like. Or, I guess you could come to mine?” Edward suggests.

“I can come to yours,” I reply, still not ready for him to be at my house. My parents are due back home tonight, and I don’t want to risk an encounter between them and Edward just yet.

“Okay, let me put the address into your GPS, then?” he asks, reaching for my phone in my hand. I hand it over and let him punch in the address. “The meteor shower is supposed to start at nine, but did you want to come over for dinner first?” he asks. I hold back a chuckle, he looks like a lost puppy who has no idea where to go from here. Obviously this is one of his first go-rounds in the dating world.

“I’d love to,” I reply, showing him my winning smile. His eyes widen and pupils dilate slightly at my expression. I’m dazzling him, just like he’s done to me several times this week. I reach up and give him a sensual kiss on the cheek, squeezing his arm at the same time. I can feel his body freeze under my touch. “There’s a taste of your own medicine,” I add as I walk away, towards my car. Once in the car, I spare a glance at him, he is still completely frozen, staring off into space. I dazzled him alright.

At home, I race up the stairs and throw myself into the bathroom to shower and get ready for tonight. I hear my phone buzz from the counter top. I stick my head out of the shower to get a look at it. The screen lights up with a message from Edward. “Six thirty okay?” it reads. I dry my hand on the hand towel and reply quickly.

“I’ll be there J”

Standing in front of my closet, I’m warring with what to wear. Rosalie. Rosalie will know. I quickly call her. “Hello?” her musical bell voice answers.

“Hey Rose, it’s Arbie. I need your help.”

“What’s up?”

“As you know, Edward and I are going to his meadow for the meteor shower tonight.” She hums her affirmation. “But we’re having dinner at your house before hand, and I’m having trouble finding something to wear that is both dinner appropriate and sturdy for a hike through the woods.”

“Do you have any really dark blue jeans?” I search through my closet and inform her that I do indeed have several pairs. “Okay the thicker the better,” she says. “And I’d wear a low cut v-neck long sleeve cotton blouse, with a lace camisole underneath it and bring a fleece vest to wear over it for the hike. You already know how to coordinate colors so I’m sure you know not to mix brown and black.” I hold back a condescending reply. Of course I know that. “I’m sure Edward will be packing blankets galore so you don’t get cold, so I wouldn’t worry about that.” Being cold is the last worry on my list, but no need to tell her that. “And some sturdy boots, and you’ll be good. Esme is a stickler about no shoes in the house, so wear cute socks.”

“You are a life saver, Rose. Thank you. Will you be at the house later?”

“Not till you get back from the meteor shower. We all promised Edward some privacy for your dinner, so we’re going out. He’s downstairs cooking with Esme right now. Or rather, she’s cooking and he’s watching.” I giggle in response.

With her suggestions in mind, I grab the appropriate clothing choosing a dark brown Henley shirt, that is low cut like she suggested. Followed by a turquoise camisole to wear underneath it. Bree always says turquoise brings out my eyes. I have a tan colored fleece vest that will complement both colors well, and settle on my dark brown hiking boots. I slip on some turquoise and brown striped socks and am about ready to head out the door when Jeb stops me on the stairwell.

“Are you sure about this?” he asks me. “Are you sure about him?”

“I’ve never been more sure about anything or anyone in my life,” I reply, letting every ounce of truth drip from my words, so he believes me. He steps aside, relenting and I head down the stairs. I take a deep breath before hopping in the Bentley and making the short drive to the Cullen house.

If I had expected anything of the house, this surely wasn’t it. This house is a beautifully restored Victorian mansion nestled against the woods like a house in a fairy tale. The dark colored house is offset by a beautiful violet trim that would look odd on any house but this. Esme has a gift.

I’m staring at the outside of the house for a long time before the door opens. “Usually it’s customary to walk up to the door and knock; not expect whoever your calling on to know you’ve arrived and will come to the door without you knocking,” Edward jokes.

“I… uh… it’s just… wow,” I reply, unable to form a full sentence. “Your home is beautiful,” I finally say.

“Thank you,” he replies graciously. He steps off the porch and approaches me warily, as if he thinks I may attack him. “Would you like to come in?” he asks extending his hand. I take it and squeeze it tightly as he leads me into his home.

“Something smells absolutely wonderful,” I reply as we enter his home.

“I wish I could tell you I made it, but it would be an utter and complete lie,” he replies, sighing.

“Yeah, Rosalie told me you were ‘helping’ Esme,” I say, using air quotes. He giggles.

“I’m not much of a cook, it’s true. But Esme definitely knows her way around the kitchen.” I try not to laugh at the irony of that situation. He leads me into the dining room where he has a beautiful dinner for two set up. In the middle of the table is a steaming dish of pasta with what looks like a homemade Roma tomato sauce. “It’s gemelli pasta with goat cheese and roasted roma tomatoes,” he describes. I lick my lips in anticipation.

He pulls out a chair for me and then strides gracefully to the other side of the table. “I know we’re not ‘of age’ but would you care for some wine?” he asks holding up a very expensive bottle of Shiraz. I hold up my glass in approval as he pours it in. I hold the glass to my nose, swirling the dark burgundy liquid and inhaling deeply. Simply lovely. “It looks like this is not your first time drinking wine,” he says.

“How observant of you,” I joke as I take a sip. “Delicious,” I add, licking my lips again. He looks as if he’s about to break the bottle he’s holding it so tight. “Are you going to have any?” I ask, trying to pull him out of his frozen state. He shakes his head, breaking free of his trance and then pours himself a glass.

“Help yourself,” he says as he holds up the steaming hot dish of pasta. I grab the serving spoon and help myself to a hearty portion. He takes a conservative portion and returns the dish to the center of the table.

“Are these candles hand made?” I ask staring at the beautifully tapered candles glowing between us.

“Yes, a hobby of Emmett’s if you’d believe it,” Edward replies.

“That surprises me. I pictured him more of a grease monkey than a crafter.”

“Then it will surprise you to know that Rosalie is the grease monkey in the house.” I lift an eyebrow at him. “And Alice is the fashionista so I should warn you that she was a little, shall we say… frustrated that you called Rosalie for help instead of her.”

“Well goodness gracious. You’re all always so impeccably dressed I just went with the first person that came into my mind. Alice probably picks out all of your clothes, doesn’t she?” He nods in response. “Well next time I need assistance, I will call her first.” I pick up a fork full of pasta and slide it into my mouth. My eyes close of their own volition. “This is absolutely fabulous,” I muse, eyes still closed. “Yum,” I add after I swallow. Before I can even look at Edward’s face, I spear another large bite and eat happily, moaning with each delicious bite. When I do look up, I see that Edward is staring at me, still holding his first forkful of food. “See something you like?” I joke.

“Uh, no. I mean yes! Of course, you’re gorgeous, it’s just…” I wait. “I haven’t seen anyone react that way to Esme’s food in a very long time. It just caught me off guard is all.” He drops his hand and proceeds to push his meager portion of food around his plate.

“You think I’m gorgeous?” I ask as I take another bite. He nods and smiles lightly. “So gorgeous that you’ve lost your appetite?” I add pointing at the mess he’s made on his plate..

“Yes, I suppose I have. I should have known you were the cause,” he muses. “Are you finished? Would you like more?” he asks, gesturing at my now empty plate.

“Yes I am finished, thank you. It was fantastic. I’ll have to get the recipe from Esme.”

“I’m sure she’d be happy to give it to you,” he replies as he stands to collect my plate. I grab the wine glasses, noting that he didn’t take but the first sip of his, when we “cheers”ed each other and clinked glasses. Quietly I down his glass, savoring the delicious shiraz that he was about to waste. He quickly rinses the plates and places them in the dishwasher. “Would you like to take the rest of the pasta home?” he asks. “If so, I’ll box it up for you and stick it in the fridge for now.”

“That would be lovely,” I reply. “Thank you.” I wait in the kitchen while he finishes cleaning up. “Are we about ready to go?” I ask starting towards the front door.

“Yes but, we’re not taking a car he says, grabbing my arm to spin me around. I do a double pencil turn and stop right in front of him, nearly running into his cool body. “Sorry, didn’t mean to spin you so hard.”

“You didn’t,” I reply, as I continue spinning back towards where I spotted the back door leading to the deck and humungous backyard. “So how are we getting there then?”

“Hiking,” he replies, handing me a backpack and my shoes from the font door and donning his own. I nod and follow him out the door, across the lawn and into the woods that kiss the back of the porch on the end of the house. We hack through the woods in companionable silence, occasionally commenting on the beautiful flora in the area, though I can’t help but notice how utterly silent the woods are. It’s as if a storm is brewing, but the sky suggests otherwise, a very eerie feeling that I’m not yet used to around Edward.

“It’s just through those trees,” he says pointing ahead of him and allowing me to take the lead. I jump lithely over a fallen tree and hear a gasp come from behind me. Isn’t he used to being around inhumanely graceful people all the time? I’ve seen his siblings in gym class. Perfect dancers, just like Edward. Why should I be any different? Once I’m through the trees I set eyes upon the most beautiful meadow I’ve ever seen. The sun is just resting beyond the trees, creating an orange glow through the meadow, lighting all the wildflowers on fire with color.

“I’m sorry to say this, but your painting does this place absolutely no justice,” I say to apparently no one. Edward isn’t standing behind me. “Where’d you go?” I ask, searching the space for him. I glance towards the sun again, suddenly understanding. A couple more minutes and it will be completely sheathed behind the trees.

“I’m preparing your dessert,” he replies, invisible behind the tree line. A few minutes later, he appears from the shadows, walking towards me holding the hugest banana split I’ve ever seen.

“How in the hell did you transport the ingredients for a banana split through the woods?”

“My backpack is refrigerated,” he shrugs. “Hold this a moment while I spread out the blanket?” he requests. I take it from him, swiping my finger across the whipped cream and popping in my mouth.

“Is this homemade whipped cream?”

“Yes. Everything is homemade, except the bananas of course,” he replies. “Esme likes to experiment with ice cream flavors. I must say, they’re not always edible though,” he giggles. “But these are the traditional vanilla, strawberry and chocolate,” he clarifies when I grimace at what concoction may be in this dish. He takes the dish from me again and gestures for me to sit down on the blanket. As I sit, I notice this is a heated blanket, he has no idea that I don’t get cold at all. My non-aversion to his ever chilly skin should give him some indication of that, one would think. He lies down behind me, propping himself up on his elbow, and plays idly with a strand of my hair while I’m devouring the delicious banana split. I lay down next to him once I’m done, and turn so I’m mirroring his pose. My long hair fans out behind me.

He glances at his watch. “Meteors should be starting in about 30 minutes. What shall we do until then?” he asks. My mind reels with things I would like to do. Many involving much more than the chaste kisses we were talking about when he made his painting of this place. Tentatively, I reach out and brush my fingertips along his chiseled cheek bone. Something I’ve been wanting to do since the first day I met him. I brush them along his brow bone next.

“You have such beautiful eyes,” I remark. “Like warm honey.”

“Likewise, only your eyes are a deep, dark chocolate,” he smiles, reaching out to touch my cheek, mimicking my affections. His hand is icy cold as always, though it seems slightly warmed by the heated blanket. “I’m always wondering what’s going on behind those eyes in that beautiful mind of yours, wishing all the time that I could read your thoughts.”

“Don’t we all wish that?” I reply. “Well, I suppose it would be nice to know what someone is thinking from time to time, but I imagine if someone truly had said gift, it wouldn’t be able to be that refined. One would hear everyone’s thoughts all around them all the time. The room could be completely silent, except for all the thoughts of random and mostly useless dribble coming out of their brains.” He gaped at me. Cleary something I said hit a nerve.

“What are you thinking?” he asks.

“Honestly?” I reply. He nods. “I was thinking about your painting. About how this place is so beautiful that it shouldn’t be tainted by anything other than chaste kisses. I must say, my mind is going much farther than chaste kisses,” I admit.

“Well I’m glad I’m not the only one having those thoughts then,” he says as he turns over and lays on his back, staring straight up at the stars. His arm is stretched out to his side as if inviting me to cuddle with him, though I can’t be sure. I hesitate a moment before sitting up and staring at him. His eyes meet mine. “Something wrong?” he asks.

“No, I’m just a little warm actually. This blanket gets rather hot, doesn’t it?”

“I suppose it does. Would you like me to turn it off?” he asks.

“No,” I reply. “I think I’ll just do this,” and I lay down right next to him, my head resting on his outstretched arm, my body pressed tightly along side his. “There. Much better.” He reaches his free arm across his torso to stroke my shoulder and upper arm.

“Very sneaky,” he replies. “I don’t think the blanket is really all that warm.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was practically sweating bullets over there,” I say, with a slight hint of sarcasm.

We lay in silence for a while, taking in the sounds of nature, that are decidedly rather far away from our current position. This is not an unheard of thing for me though. I seem to have a warning sign on my forehead after inadvertently killing every pet I’ve ever had. I turn on my side and snuggle into him. The arm that I was resting my head on is now wrapped securely around my shoulders.

“So it doesn’t bother you then?” he asks. I know he’s referring to the temperature and texture of his skin, but I’m going to play stupid.

“What doesn’t bother me?” I reply.

“That my skin is so cold, and the texture of it,” he whispers, as if ashamed of himself.

“There’s nothing about you that bothers me,” I say honestly, turning so I can look into his eyes. “Not one single thing.”

“I wish I could believe that,” he replies.

“What does that mean?”

“It means there are things about me that you don’t know. Things that would probably scare you away if you knew them.” I shake my head at him, indicating I wouldn’t be scared. “Haven’t you ever wondered why it is that my skin is so cold, or that it’s hard as a bloody rock?”

“Everyone’s skin is cold to me Edward. Haven’t you ever wondered why my skin is so warm? Or why I’m so tall for my age? We all have secrets Edward, and how we react to each other’s secrets is directly related to how strongly we feel for one another. I can say with all honesty and truthfulness that nothing you could say to me would ever make me run away.”

“You really mean that,” he states rather than asks. I nod and resume my place laying along side him, just as the meteors begin shooting through the sky. Hundreds of streaks of lights go across the night sky, offering a brief illumination of the meadow around us. I dare not blink for fear that I may miss one.

“Arbie, I know we’ve only known each other a week, and I know this is only our first date but,” he hesitates just long enough to make my breath hitch in my throat and my heart skip a beat. But what? What is he going to say?! “Arbie, may I kiss you?” he asks shyly. Well if that’s all he wants.

“Please do,” I reply smiling.

Edward POV

I freeze for a moment before scooting closer to her and leaning my face towards hers. She meets me half way and hesitates centimeters away from my face, waiting for me to make the move. I can feel her warm breath on my face. Reaching my hand out, I cup her cheek, threading my fingers through her long silky hair. I take a deep breath before pressing my lips to hers. So soft. So warm. So strong! Her lips are moving with mine rather than forming themselves around my lips. She scoots her body so she’s laying flush against me. I can feel every curve of her body molding to mine as if she were made to fit there.

I slide my hand down her neck, shoulder, muscular arm, and to her hip pulling her more tightly against me. She responds in earnest by wrapping her fingers in my hair, tugging slightly. I’m surprised at the amount of strength she has. More than any human possesses, but not as much as a vampire. She indicated she was something more than human with her body temperature comment, but what could that possibly be?

All too soon, she pulls away taking several shallow quick breaths. Right, humans need oxygen. I can’t help but notice that I’m breathing just as quickly. Panting would be a more apropos description. She leans in for one last chaste peck before turning her body slightly so her head is resting on my chest, but she’s facing the sky again. Meteors continue to shoot through the sky. I stroke her arm with one hand, while my other runs through her long, silky strands of hair. She seems to be more goddess than human, and I can’t help but let my mind wander to the possibilities. Nothing I’ve ever read about in any mythology book comes close to describing it.

The meteors have stopped and I start to move to get us back to the house. I notice that her breathing has evened out and her pulse has slowed. Clear indicators that she is fast asleep. Panicking slightly, I reach for her phone which is bulging out of her front pocket. I find Jeb’s cell phone number and hit “call.”

“What up, sis? I thought you were on your date,” he greets.

“Ah, Hi Jeb, this is Edward, actually.”

“Oh. Hi. Ah, what’s wrong?”

“Well, nothing really, it’s just that your sister has fallen asleep. I have no idea where you live or I’d take her home. It’d be great if you gave me your address, or if it’s alright, she can stay at my home. My parents will be there of course. If you want, I can give you time to call your moms and verify if that’s ok. It’s up to you.”

“Hmm,” he thinks for a moment. “I think it’ll be alright if she stays with you. Our moms aren’t always reachable at this time of night, and if I know my sister, she probably wouldn’t mind a sleepover. It’s been so long since she’s made any friends other than me,” he states, his tone full of concern for his one sister.

“Okay then. I’ll take her back to my house, and you have my word that she will be fine.”

“I trust you Edward, but I will tell you that if you break her heart, I’ll break your neck, and that’s a promise.” His tone was eerily similar to the one Arbie used to threaten the Sharpe twins. Clearly these two Bentley twins are very protective of each other, an admirable trait, for sure. I pick up Arbie, wrapping the blanket around her holding the backpacks in my hand that’s under her legs and carry her home, careful not to jostle her too much. She never stirs. It’s a good thing that she had her cell phone with her so I could call Jeb, it looks as though she would not have awoken if I tried to wake her.

“What’s this?” Carlisle asks as I enter silently through the sliding glass door on the deck.

“She fell asleep. I called her brother, he said it would be okay if she stayed here. I think my room is the only one available though,” I reply.

“You go put her in your bed,” Esme says. “I’ll get some pajamas on her.” I nod my agreement and dash up the stairs, still careful not to move the sleeping beauty in my arms too much. I will admit that I am quite excited to be allowed to watch her sleep for the first time. I’ll set up “bedding” on my couch and pretend to sleep there for the night. I wait patiently outside the door while Esme and Alice are in my room undressing Arbie and replacing her clothes with silk pajamas of Rosalie’s. Their sizes are the closest together, though Rosalie is still a couple inches shorter than Arbie. I try to stay out of their thoughts, concentrating on my memory of this evening’s events. Kissing Arbie was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Her lips were soft, warm and so strong. If I had been standing when our lips met, I surely would have fallen down, weak in the knees. I can only hope she would have had a similar reaction and would have fallen with me.

“I know you won’t stay out of that room, even if I asked you,” Esme says as she leaves the room with Alice in tow. “But please, stay on the couch,” she requests. I nod at her. “I’ve made up some bedding for you and pulled a book off of your shelf. Better to act like you can’t sleep with a book in your arms than staring blatantly at her all night.” With that, I enter the room silently and stand beside her sleeping form. She is even more beautiful in sleep. I lean down and kiss her forehead.

“Good night my angel, sleep well,” I whisper before heading to the couch at the end of the bed to take my vigil for the night. She stays still for hours. Any hope that I had about her speaking in her sleep has been quickly quelled. A few moans here and there, but no words. Sometime around 3am she stirs, rolling around, seemingly trying to get comfortable. I glance up at her eyes seeing that they are fluttering open.

“Where am I?” she whispers.

“In my room,” I reply.

“Edward?”

“Yes, Arbie, It’s me. You fell asleep in the meadow,” I explain. “I called Jeb and he said it would be alright if you stayed here. Esme and Alice helped get you into a set of Rosalie’s pajamas and I’ve been on the couch.”

“Oh,” she replies. “What time is it?”

“It’s late. You should get back to sleep.”

“I didn’t ask for your opinion on my sleep habits, I asked you what time it is,” she nearly snaps.

I told you she was feisty Jasper thinks from across the hall.

“It’s about 3 am,” I reply, glancing at my watch.

“Why are you way over there?”

“What do you mean?” I ask back, confused.

“I mean why aren’t you laying with me? It’s not like there’s not room for you on this gigantic bed.”

“I didn’t think it would be appropriate,” I reply, looking down.

“Oh, poppy cock, get up here,” she demands. Poppycock? Who uses that word anymore besides Esme? She holds out her forefinger and curls it upwards, beckoning me to the bed. Once I start moving she pats the spot next to her. I lay down atop the blankets staring into her deep chocolate eyes. She takes a deep breath, staring back at me, before leaning over and pressing her lips to mine. I can sense her maneuvering under the covers, though my eyes are closed. The next thing I know her thighs are on either side of my hips straddling me. Her lips never leave mine throughout her entire maneuver. Her fingers are knotted in my hair as she pulls herself flush against my body.

The warmth of her body is pressed against mine in a most intimate way, setting off certain physical responses in me. “Is that a banana in your pocket, Mr. Cullen?” she whispers. I can hear Emmett snickering from downstairs. She seems oblivious to it. “Who knew that just kissing you would do that?” she jokes. “I must be a hell of a kisser.”

“Well yes, you are. An amazing kisser actually, but coupled with the fact that you’re straddling me and your body is so warm…” I trail off. She climbs off of me, and I immediately feel cold for the first time in over a century. She sidles up against my side draping an arm over my torso, pressing her lips against my neck before resting her head against my shoulder. Her leg is thrown over mine and my leg nestles between hers as she slowly drifts back to sleep. If she wakes up and attacks me like that again, I’ll wonder what kind of dreams she is having.

In the morning, I am downstairs when she wakes, I hear her pad across the floor to the door and head into the bathroom across the hall. Alice and Rosalie rush up the stairs to demand details from her as I refused to give any, and Alice is completely bothered by the idea that she has no idea what went on as she cannot see Arbie’s decisions, and therefore cannot see mine anymore. “Okay lady. Spill!” Alice demands.

“Alice, I haven’t the slightest idea what you are talking about,” Arbie replies.

“Oh please,” Rosalie interjects. “You spent an entire night with Edward in his room. Alone. Do not expect us to believe that nothing happened.”

“I don’t kiss and tell,” she replies. Admirable. I can imagine many girls divulging every detail and even making some up.

“So there was kissing!” Alice muses. “I knew it!” Arbie rolls her eyes at them before disappearing back into my bedroom. “I have clothes for you in my room,” Alice calls out. Arbie sighs audibly before opening the door and allowing my sisters to drag her down the flight of stairs to Alice’s room. I leave their minds at that point not wanting to intrude on Arbie changing.

“So?” Emmett asks as I come outside onto the deck. “What happened?”

“I’ll echo Arbie’s statement of ‘I don’t kiss and tell.’ So I won’t,” I reply. “But I will say, kissing her is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.” His thoughts flicker to Bella for a moment the back to Arbie. I have to admit that the resemblance between them is uncanny. My mind drifts to the possibilities that Arbie is a distant relative of Bella’s or something. The eyes are just too similar for it to be a coincidence. Maybe that’s why I can’t hear her mind, if she’s in anyway related to Bella, there would be a strong chance of that trait popping up somewhere else in her family.

Pulling me out of my thoughts, Arbie’s arms wrap around my waist from behind. “You’re concentrating awfully hard on something for a Saturday.”

“What would you like to do today?” I ask, not wanting to divulge my thoughts to her.

“It’s kind of cloudy and rainy today,” she says. “Which makes it a great day to stay in and watch movies?” she suggests.

“Wouldn’t you like breakfast first?” Esme calls out, sticking her head out of the kitchen doorway. “I’m Esme by the way. Edward’s dear mother,” she adds realizing she hadn’t formally introduced herself, and Arbie was fast asleep when she helped her into her pajamas.

“It’s lovely to meet you. You have a beautiful home,” Arbie states reaching out to grasp Esme’s hand in greeting. Esme takes her hand confidently having heard from the rest of us that Arbie is not adverse to our skin temperature for some unknown reason. “Edward tells me you designed it yourself?”

“Thank you dear, and yes I did. Alice helped with the interior design though.” So Esme, always trying to put the talent off on someone else.

“Thank you for helping me get settled into bed last night. I tend to be a heavy sleeper, I must have been dead weight for you to have to maneuver.”

Esme scoffs as if it wasn’t a bother at all. “What’s on the menu?” Arbie asks, releasing me and following Esme back in the house.

“Completely up to you,” Esme says. “Pancakes, omelets, eggs Benedict, waffles, French toast, biscuits and gravy…” Esme trails off, listing off every breakfast food she could think of.

“How about good old fashioned milk and cereal?” Arbie asks. So like Bella to not want to burden Esme with making a huge breakfast.

“Ah sure, I think there’s some cereal in the pantry. You’re sure you don’t want something more… complex?” Esme asks, her heart sinking slightly.

“After that incredible meal you made for me last night? And that fantastic homemade ice cream? I’m not sure my stomach can handle something like that again so soon,” Arbie says, complimenting Esme’s cooking. As much as Esme’s heart sank a moment ago, it soars now.

She eats quietly in the kitchen at the counter as Esme prattles on about interior design and how much she’d love to learn landscaping. “My mom’s a landscape designer,” Arbie says. “I’m sure she’d love to work with you on landscaping this home, or any you’re working on. She’s been looking for a business partner for some time now, actually.”

“Well that would be lovely! When can I meet her?”

“Ah, well she’s out of town a lot, they were due back this weekend, I’m not sure if they’re back yet though.”

“Well as soon as you’re ready, we’d all love to meet them, I’m sure” Esme muses, thinking about an architecture – landscaping partnership. Bentley Cullen Designs, no Cullen Bentley, no Culley, or Benten. Better to leave well enough alone until I learn if her mother is even truly interested in a partnership.

Once she’s finished, I lead her to the home theatre room that Emmett demanded when Esme was planning the renovations for this house before we moved here. She sinks into one of the plush chairs as she pages through the interactive menu looking for a movie to watch. The menus are motion and voice activated, responding to her using her arms to navigate the menus or voicing her choices.

“There are hundreds upon hundreds on here, so scrolling through them that way might take a while,” I say. “Would you like to narrow it down to categories? Or certain actors?” she nods in response. “Okay, just speak aloud what category or actor you want and it’ll sort through them automatically and give you a list of the ones that fall under your choices.” Her eyes widen in surprise.

“I’d heard of that feature, but we don’t have it at our house yet, we use a touch screen though. It’s not voice or motion activated.” Touch screens wouldn’t work at this house, since most of them respond to temperature. “Cary Grant,” she declares, and waits a few seconds while the screen populates all movies with Cary Grant. She chooses a movie to watch, but my eyes stay on her, completely oblivious to the wall sized screen. “Movie screen is that way,” she says, catching me ogling her. I hadn’t realized but Alice put her in a v-neck blouse that shows off her cleavage beautifully. My eyes were roaming down her neck and into her shirt when she caught me. If I could blush, I would be beet red.

“You’re far more interesting to me than any movie could ever be,” I say, pressing my lips into her hair.

“Well then what are we doing watching a movie?” she asks as she turns in the seat and then climbs into my lap. “Kissing you would be far more entertaining anyway,” she says just before pressing her warm lips to mine. My arms encircle her waist, pulling her tightly to me. Her tongue caresses my lips begging for entrance. I willingly open my mouth to her, momentarily forgetting about the threat that my teeth play.

She moans into my mouth as our tongues mingle together. I growl seductively at the taste of her and the feeling of her fingers knotting into my hair. Her legs tighten against my thighs triggering a physical reaction in me. “Hello Mr. Banana,” she whispers, grinding her core against me. I growl in response, that sensation is incredible.

“Arbie, what are we doing?” I pant.

“Making out, I do believe,” she replies. “Why, do you want to stop?”

“Want to? Definitely not. Should we? Probably,” I reply.

“Why?” she asks. “Why should we stop? We both want to move forward in this relationship, right?”

“Yes, of course, but Arbie, our first date was last night. Shouldn’t we court for a while before moving forward like this?”

“Court? Edward are you from the 1900s or something?” she jokes.

“Oh please, Arbie. You use ancient words all the time,” I retort, holding back a wince at her accurate estimation of my age.

“Oh yeah?” she replies, knotting her fingers in my hair again and leaning in to kiss my neck. “Like what?”

“Um, you called the Sharpe twins trampy strumpets, promiscuous harlots and tarty slags,” I start. “This morning you used the word poppycock, none of which I’ve heard in ages.”

“I see, so you think I speak old fashioned, so therefore I must be old fashioned and you think we should wait a while before progressing the physical aspect of our relationship?”

“I just don’t want you to think I’m only interested in one thing, and I don’t want to think that about you either.”

“Do you think that about me?” she asks, sliding backwards on my legs.

“No! Not at all!” I reply pulling her back against me. “I’m sorry, it’s been so long since I’ve been romantically involved with anyone, I have no idea what I’m doing. And that relationship never progressed past chaste kisses,” I admit.

“So, we’ve already gone farther than you ever did with her?” she asks shyly. I nod in response.

“I was so afraid back then. Afraid of myself. Afraid of not knowing what to do to please her. I’m not that way anymore. I want more than anything to show you how I feel about you, but I want it to be perfect. A time when we’re both ready, on a perfect night after a perfect date.”

“You know that’ll never happen right?” she replies cynically. “There’s no such thing as perfection. We can try to have that perfect date and perfect night, but we’ll be waiting forever if we base our decision on that.”

“You’re right of course. How about we gradually move forward. This is okay, right?” I ask, placing my hands on her hips, their favorite place to be. She takes in a sharp breath.

“Yes, that’s definitely okay,” she replies. “Feel free to squeeze a little if you want.” She presses her lips to mine. I do just that and squeeze her hips slightly. Her fingers tighten in my hair and she moans into my mouth. After a few moments, her fingers release my hair, trail down my arms leaving behind a trail of fire where her fingers run. Her hands cover mine and slide them up her back and under her shirt. “I’ve been craving your touch on my skin,” she whispers against my lips. I let my hands roam up her back just to the bottom of her bra line and back down to the top of her jeans. My lips find hers again before peppering kisses across her cheek, jaw and down her neck. Kissing her collar bone is the most glorious thing ever. I run my tongue along the length of it and kiss back down the other direction.

“Edward, you’re driving me crazy,” she says, pressing her heated core against my pelvis again. Her fingers trail back up my arms and across my chest, and latch onto the buttons of my shirt. She begins to undo them and pushes the fabric aside, exposing my chest and torso to her. “Wow,” she says as she runs her fingers across my chest and down my abs. “I think I may need your torso’s help to do some laundry later.” I am confused for a moment, then I realize she’s referring to washboard abs. I had never thought about it before, but yes I suppose I do have washboard abs.

Emmett’s booming guffaw and Jasper’s chuckle are audible even to her. Her cheeks redden slightly and she chuckles a bit but she does not stop kissing me. I could quite literally sit here for the rest of my existence kissing her, and be perfectly content. While I can’t smell her blood, the flavor of her skin is the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. Her fingers roam all over my torso, igniting me in a fire of passion. I want nothing more than to throw her on to the floor and have her right here and now. Because of this, I stop kissing her and lift her off of me, setting her next to me on the seat and start panting heavily.

“What’s the matter?” she asks.

“I was about to lose control,” I admit. “I don’t want to do that. It would be way to easy for me to… I’m so sorry Arbie.”

“Are you referring to the idea that you’re leagues stronger than me?” she asks.

“Idea? It’s a fact, Arbie. I know that I’m stronger than you. The only one I know who is stronger than me is Emmett.”

“That’s what you think,” she replies. “Squeeze my hand,” she requests, holding out her hand to me.

“What are you talking about?”

“Squeeze my hand, and I’ll tell you when it starts to hurt.”

“Arbie, I don’t want to hurt you,” I say, holding her hand gently. She rolls her eyes and holds my hand firmly, squeezing it.

“You won’t,” she claims as she squeezes harder and harder.

“Ow!” I cry, feeling my titanium-like bones groan in distress. She releases my hand instantly, and I begin rubbing it trying to figure out how she is so strong. “How did you do that?”

“I told you I was strong,” she says, getting up out of the chair. “And now I’m hungry.” She leaves the room and heads towards the kitchen. I’m sitting here staring at my hand trying to figure out how on earth she squeezed it hard enough to cause pain. Emmett bursts in to the room as soon as she leaves.

“Did I hear you say ow?” he asks. I nod. “Did you mean it?” I nod again. “Dude, you wuss!”

“Dude,” I retort. “She squeezed my hand so hard it actually hurt. Surprised the shit outta me,” I say as I get out of the chair, stride past Emmett and out to the kitchen in search of Arbie. She’s perched on a stool waiting patiently for Esme to cook her an elaborate lunch.

“You know Esme, I am perfectly capable of making my own lunch,” she muses while Esme whirls around the kitchen, trying to appear human.

“Nonsense. I love this kitchen,” Esme replies. “I love being in here, I love cooking, and I especially love having people to cook for.” I cringe slightly, worried that Arbie will pick up on the fact that Esme doesn’t cook for any of us. She presents Arbie with a bowl of soup and a sandwich a few minutes later. It seemed as though she made the bread from scratch and the stock from a chicken she butchered out back, with the mess that was in the kitchen.

Later in the day, Arbie decides she ought to go home to spend the rest of the weekend with her parents. I offer to accompany her but she declines quickly. “I know you introduced me to your parents already, but I’m not quite ready to have you meet mine. Soon though, I promise.”

I follow out to her car, intending to kiss her goodbye. As soon as we reach the driver’s side door, I spin her around, pull her close to me and kiss her passionately. I even dip her down and pull her back up without releasing her lips. “Well that’s one way to sweep a girl off her feet,” she giggles. “I’ll most definitely see you Monday at school,” she breathes.

“I’ll count the hours in between,” I reply.

“Better than counting sheep,” she jokes as she slides gracefully into her car and drives out of my sight. I feel the absence of her immediately. It wrenches a hole in my heart so deep I very nearly go off running after her.

“Don’t even think about it,” Alice calls down from an upstairs window. “She’ll think you’re a creeper.”

“I thought you couldn’t see her,” I reply.

“I can’t, but I can see your decisions regarding her now. They’re still fuzzy but getting clearer. That one was clear as crystal though.”

“Would she honestly have thought I was a creeper?” I ask.

“Well, how else could she explain how you materialized at her house seconds after she arrives home without a car? I can’t see her thought process of course, but the expression on her face when you knocked on the door was definitely ‘creeped out.’” Well there goes that plan.

“What if I call her?”

“Wait a few hours, you’ll see her in the morning. She’ll think you’re clingy or needy if you call her when she’s barely gotten home. And I don’t need a vision to tell me that.”

“I’ll see her tomorrow? How do you know?”

“She’s going to invite you to her house to do homework,” Alice replies. I lift my eyebrows questioning how she knows that. “Just trust me,” she says, turning a perfect pirouette before disappearing inside the house.