A chance encounter in her local coffee shop brings Bella's life to a grinding halt. Who is this stranger that knows things about her, she had only dreamed of ever finding out? How do they cope when they face a common enemy?
9. Chapter 8: Call me Bella
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“Call me Bella”
Her teeth were chattering as they ran through the thick undergrowth of the forest. The muddy ground had long ago given way to a more sturdier structure as they continued their hurried paste downhill.
Every single muscle in her body ached and her breath escaped in desperate huffs through her ruby lips.
The darkness had settled around them and the eerie sounds of night floated around them, making her cringe every time an owl howled or the wind picked up the leafs of the trees surrounding them.
A cold breeze had seemed to follow them along their escape route and she shivered as another cold blast of wind hit her from behind, lifting the fabric of her shirt and drying the mud that had stuck to the back of her head and neck.
“H-Ho-How fa-ar?” she stuttered.
Edward had been in the lead since their hurried escape and was shocked as he turned to reply her. Her small, frail body were shaking violently, her face plastered with dirt and mud and her tiny button nose red from the cold of the night. Her chest was heaving and the sight of her momentarily distracted him.
“Jesus! You’re shivering! Why didn’t you say anything?!” he exclaimed. He felt ashamed. He had felt the cold long ago, but he was used to the different elements and their impact on his body. He had completely forgotten to consider his companion and her frail body fighting against the cold.
They had stopped running and were now standing a few feet apart, surrounded by a canopy of trees and bushes. Another gust of wind blew passed them and Bella shivered involuntarily.
“I-I did-dn’-t think-k it w-would b-be im-p-portant-t,” she stuttered again. Her teeth wouldn’t stop their clattering and she was still trying to catch her breath from running. “We n-needed-d to get a-away.”
“Well yeah, but not to the point where you are over-exerting yourself and nearly freezing to death.” He argued. “That would sort of defeat the purpose for us being here,” he murmured in a slightly softer tone, not wanting her to misunderstand his anger.
“S-Sorry-y,” she sighed and slumped together. Her shoulders hunched forward as she wrapped her delicate arms around herself.
He sighed roughly and walked the few steps that separated them.
“Don’t apologize,” he murmured softly as he gently lifted her chin so their eyes connected. Big brown doe eyes looked questioningly back at him and he could see the fatigue in them. “Just, promise you’ll tell me whenever it gets to be too much for you, okay?”
His green eyes were looking smoulderingly into hers and she could feel her throat closing up. So instead of answering, she gave him a slight nod and gazed deeply into his burning green eyes.
“Good,” he smirked at her and caressed her cheek with the tips of his fingers.
She shivered once again, although this time she was fairly certain it was due to his caress more so than due to the cold wind.
Edward released her chin from his hold and let his hand wander down the side of her neck, marvelling at the soft skin beneath his fingers, and further down her arm and grasping her tiny hand into his big one. Her fingers were like icicles and he flinched internally as he reprimanded himself for his carelessness. ‘You idiot! Didn’t think to check in on her wellbeing at least once huh?’
“Don’t what?” he asked. Her soft voice had barely been strong enough to carry through the air, but he had heard her.
“D-Don’t blame yourself,” she sighed softly.
“How did you-” he stopped himself and sighed softly as he squeezed her freezing hand in his. “Never mind.”
Bella smiled softly at him. She had seen the worry and blame clearly in his bright green eyes, and she couldn’t stand the thought that he somehow thought he was at fault for her stupidity. She should honestly have spoken to him about her freezing earlier. It wasn’t really responsible behaviour to push herself beyond her limits.
“You need to rest,” he noted and dragged her slightly behind him.
He dragged them for a few minutes, passing even more bushes and trees, before he finally stopped and turned to her.
“We’ll camp here for the time being,” he told her, gesturing slightly ahead where a small incline in the ground created the perfect shelter for them for the night. “It might not be very comfortable, but it’ll do.”
She nodded her head, not really listening to what he was saying. Her vision had gone blurry and she felt weak in the knees, and honestly she just wanted to lie down and sleep. ‘A rock would do just fine right about now,’ she thought and smiled inwardly.
Edward led her over to the spot by the wall of dirt and helped her lie down. Her entire body was still shaking from the cold and probably from the sheer exhaustion and he quickly scooted down to lie next to her.
Her teeth chattered and her arms had a tight grip around her torso trying to still some of the shaking. “I-I’m so c-cold.” Even her voice stuttered violently and she felt tears gathering in the corners of her eyes. The embarrassment and exhaustion culminated within her and she began sobbing quietly.
“I know,” he hushed her and scooted even closer to her tiny frame, enveloping her in his embrace. His strong arms circled tightly around her midsection and he pulled her closely into him as he intertwined their legs.
As they lay there, completely wrapped in each other, he noted with satisfaction that her breathing had settled to a more regular pattern and her shaking were not as obvious as before. He sighed and curled even more around her, tucking her face into his neck and burying his nose in her hair, inhaling deeply before closing his eyes and letting sleep claim him.
Bella felt hot.
Come to think of it, she felt more than hot. She was burning up.
She could feel tiny droplets of sweat gliding down the skin of her back. Her neck was burning and she could feel a blush flaming underneath her skin.
Her eyes cracked open and she closed them almost immediately again. The bright light from the sun was beating down upon them and she cringed.
“Irk!” she shrieked and jumped slightly. She hadn’t noticed the hand gripping her around the waist and when she had cringed away from the light, the hand had clutched tightly around her, poking into her delicate skin.
The hand travelled down her front and clasped her around the waist and dragged her a few inches back, until her back met the form of Edward lying behind her.
She squealed once again as her backside connected with his front and she felt all off him up against her. From his nose buried deeply into the skin of her neck, to his strong abdominal muscles and strong arms encircling her, and to his legs curled up behind her keeping his crotch perfectly nestled against the soft tissue of her bottom.
She had squirmed trying to get loose from his tight hold and had inadvertently rubbed her backside against his crotch. And Edward had moaned.
“Don’t stop…” another moan.
Edward was dreaming. And they were good dreams, yes very good indeed. In the last one he was splayed in a bed of flowers, the sun bathing him in its rays and the smell of freshly cut grass and wildflowers surrounded him. A breeze picked up around him and another, fruity and sweet smell drifted towards him. He didn’t get to further explore where the smell originated before he was disturbed from his dream.
A high-pitched sound had rattled him and his eyes sprung open in alarm.
He had his arms around Bella keeping her tightly against every inch of him. He sighed deeply and tightened his hold even more around her.
Disturbingly he noted her entire frame seemed frozen. She wasn’t moving a single muscle, barely breathing, and instantly alarm bells went off in his head.
She remained stoic in front of him and he distanced himself a bit from her.
As he detangled his limbs from her, he discovered with great embarrassment his body had betrayed him by becoming turned on by her close proximity. He drew away from her instantly and sighed deeply as he realised the chances of her not having felt his reaction to her, were highly unlikely.
“Isabella?” he whispered after some time.
Her body slumped slightly into the ground as he heard her sigh softly. She remained with her back to him and didn’t respond. A few minutes passed by and he tensed from her unresponsiveness. He was afraid he might have offended her by his body’s reaction to her and he feared she would close up on him.
“Please…turn around,” he whispered as he tugged on her waist, willing her to meet his gaze. He found her responsive eyes always portrayed what she was thinking, and right now he was yearning to know what was going through her head.
She sighed and let him tug her around so she was facing him.
“You ok?” His eyes were searching her gaze, trying to decipher if she did indeed felt offended. All he saw in her eyes were embarrassment, and he sighed softly, feeling the knot in his stomach loosening.
She cleared her throat and blushed. “I’m fine.”
“We’d better get going… You feel up for another day of trekking?” he asked.
He stood from the ground and stretched to remove any stiffness from his muscles, and offered her a hand.
She took his hand in help and he pulled her off the ground as she murmured: “I guess so…”
They had travelled a half days worth before Edward had stopped and pointed into the greenery ahead. His face had come alight with glee and he had grabbed her hand into his and dragged her behind him, tugging and pulling impatiently whenever she stumbled behind him.
She was about to reprimand him for his caveman-ish behaviour when he turn around and shushed her and gestured for her to listen.
She quieted and focused all her excess energy into trying to hear…something?
Just as she was about to question him, she heard it: The distinct and faint sound of running water.
She felt a sense of déjà vu and listened harder. She was certain they had been travelling further west from where the trolls had kept them captive, so they couldn’t be back in the meadow, could they?
“Come on,” Edward urged and pulled on her hand, which was still clasped tightly in his.
A few steps ahead the sound of running water became louder and more distinguished.
She gasped as they emerged from the trees and bushes and as she laid eyes on the vision before them.
A small clearing, even smaller than the meadow they had camped in that first night, were in front of them. A pond took up the majority of the clearing and the seven feet high waterfall that fed the pond with water gave it an almost exotic feel. Bushes, vines and small trees littered the area around the pond and up the brick wall of dirt and stones the waterfall sprang from.
“Wow…” Bella uttered reverently. It was absolutely breath-taking.
Startled, Bella looked to Edward to see he wore the exact same expression of complete awe as her.
“It’s beautiful.” He said. “And exactly what we need.”
She looked at him with questions in her eyes. ‘What did he mean, exactly what they needed?’
He grinned crookedly at her and let go off her hand. She felt the loss of his touch and was even more bewildered by her body’s reaction to the missing touch.
But she didn’t get to ponder too deeply into why she had felt disappointed when he had let go off her hand, as he had stepped towards the edge of the pond and began removing articles of clothing.
Slack jawed and curious she watched him remove every article of clothing from his skin, only leaving on his boxers, before diving into the clear blue water.
“Come on!” he yelled once he emerged through the surface and shook his head. She grinned as she thought that movement closely resembled that of a wet dog shaking out its fur. His hair was swinging through the air, throwing droplets of water back into the pond before he smiled and called for her again, and dived under the surface, only to emerge from under the water farther out towards the middle of the pond.
He need not tell her to join him once again and she began running for the edge of the water removing her shirt and dumping it somewhere behind her on the way. When she reached the edge, she shimmied out of her pants, shoes and socks and followed him into the cool, refreshing blue wetness.
Edward had emerged from underneath the water and looked towards the shore. What he saw left him completely stunned. Bella had been a true vision, running towards the edge of the water, removing her top, her bosom bouncing from her hurried movements. And then she had further blown his mind when she’d stopped to remove her pants!
The way her hips had rocked from side to side, shimmying out of them, had left him entranced. Her movements had seemed almost seductive as she had swayed her hips in small circles, accentuating her tiny waist and perfectly curvy hips, and later, when her pants had been completely removed, her shapely legs.
And then she had disappeared from his sight as she had jumped head first into the water.
Her dive gave him enough time to get his body somewhat under control, but as soon as she emerged a few feet away from him, his control slipped and he swam towards her, feeling oddly like a moth attracted to a flame.
She was smiling, her entire face alight with delight from the freshness the water brought to her and a giggle bubbled through her lips as he sided up next to her in the water, their legs kicking against each other trying to stay afloat above water.
Edward smiled at her exuberance, feeling happy to see her so free and happy. Butterflies were strumming in his stomach, but this time he welcomed the feeling and gazed almost adoringly at the cute girl treading water next to him.
“This is beyond amazing!” she exclaimed happily and dived under before he could reply to her.
This time he laughed openly and once again swam towards her as she resurfaced, the moth to the flame. “It is.”
“Do you know where we are?” she asked as she gazed into his bright green eyes. Their colour was smouldering and she felt a tingling in her lower abdomen fighting against the butterflies that had settled there ever since he had removed his shirt.
“I believe we are in a small clearing named Vestibulum Piscinam. I’m not sure though…” he answered. “But if that is in fact where we are, we are a lot further west than I ever intended us to travel.”
She smiled back at him, not really caring that they might have travelled further than they ought to and definitely not caring how far they have to travel to return back to their original trail. Honestly she felt honoured to experience this wonderful place, and wanted to stay here for as long as possible.
Edward frowned slightly as he looked around them, trying to find any place mark that indicated if they were indeed where he suspected them to be.
Bella saw the worry and inquisition in his eyes, and she could really do without all the worrying. At least for just a little while.
Feeling like a child, she ducked her head halfway under the surface filling her mouth with water and slowly re-emerging from under the surface so as not to bring attention to her movements. This only worked perfectly if she was able to keep it a complete surprise.
He was still searching the area around the pound with his gaze, completely unaware of what she was about to do. She grinned inside her mind and set loose. She sprayed the water from her mouth straight into his stunned face and laughed loudly at his shocked expression.
“Ha! That was absolutely priceless,” she giggled. “You should have seen the look on you face.”
He had been completely stunned by her actions. Did she just spit water all over him?
‘I think so…’ he thought.
She was still laughing as she kept seeing his expression in her mind’s eye. She was momentarily distracted by her own humour and didn’t see the mischievous look his gaze had turned into seconds before he dived into the water, kicking his legs violently to gain altitude in the water, until he could comfortably grab her ankles and pull her under.
She sputtered violently as she resurfaced. “You evil man!” she yelled.
“Oh, so you get to be childish but I don’t?” he teased. “Don’t dish out what you can’t take Isabella.” He laughed and ducked under the surface as she sprayed water towards him.
She found herself laughing with him as she chased him in the water, grabbing onto his shoulders and forcing him under the surface. Her triumphant grin only lasted three seconds before he disappeared beneath her grip, only to resurface behind her.
“Boo!” he whispered into her right ear.
“Ah!” she screamed and turned to smack him on the head. Only she didn’t get to smack him as he had disappeared beneath the surface once again.
“Show yourself, you coward!” she laughed, swimming in circles trying to locate him in the water. She flinched every time she felt a touch near her feet and kicked blindly into the water, trying to avoid his grip trying to pull her under.
It came as a shock as he violently emerged from the water behind her and circled his arms around her midsection. “Hold your breath,” he whispered, almost seductively in her ear, and dragged her with him under the surface yet again.
She turned in his arms underneath the water, gripping his shoulders, as they began fighting each other to the surface. She would barely make it to break the surface and he would pull her under again, trying to beat her to get up and over.
When they both needed to breathe too badly, did they surface together, his arms still circled around her and her hands grasping her shoulders. They gasped for their breaths and laughed between heaving for air.
The water had stilled around them, only lapping against the skin of their upper bodies in tandem with the kicks they were giving off as they tried to stay afloat.
A patch of dirt on her nose and chin hadn’t come off from their playing around in the water, and Edward reached up with a hand to rub away the offending mud.
Her breath caught in her throat when his hand made contact with the skin of her face. First the tip of her nose and then caressing her chin, and she felt an overwhelming need to close the remaining inches between their faces.
The air around them seemed to sparkle with electricity and she smiled softly as she gazed into his burning eyes.
“You know, you keep calling me Isabella…” she whispered. She didn’t want to interrupt…whatever it was…that seemed to be going on between them.
He smirked slightly at her, a bit confounded by her words. “Yeah?”
“Well, why?” She could feel her cheeks blushing underneath his caress, as she gazed into his eyes.
“Why? What kind of question is that?” he chuckled. “It’s your name…”
She smiled softly at him. “I know it’s my name…”
“Then why do you wonder why I call you by your name?” he interrupted her, smiling softly back at her.
“Well it’s not so much that you call me by my given name…” she mused. “I’ve always just been Bella. Not Isabella.”
“So you would like for me to call you Bella?” he smirked, trying to make sense of what she was trying to tell him.
Bella blushed furiously as she realised how clumsily she had tried to get him to call her by her preferred name, and she felt slightly offended by the fact that The Smirk was back. Not wanting to disrupt the happy atmosphere that had settled around them, she settled for a cheeky comeback instead of an indignant one.
She grinned at his stunned look as she swam out from underneath his hold and used his momentary stupor to her advantage as she swam towards the waterfall.
Edward was completely confounded by this creature swimming away from him. One minute they had been toying around like kids, the next attraction and sparks had electrified the air around them, and she had seemed so vulnerable when she’d asked him to call her Bella instead of Isabella. Then she had turned back into a teasing minx, swimming away from him. And yet again he found himself attracted to her like a moth to a flame.
He halted slightly in his pursuit of her as she rose into a standing position in the water. It had obviously been shallower near the edge of the waterfall, he thought, as he gazed at her delicate frame rising from the surface, with only her feet and up to the middle of her calf still hidden beneath the surface of the water.
She strolled casually through the water and dipped a hand into the falling water, before submerging herself into the rapid stream, a soft sigh leaving her ruby red lips, as her muscles relaxed under the constant beating of the waterfall.
He watched, mesmerized, as she stepped into the stream, the water caressing every inch of her soft skin as it travelled from the crown of her hair to the surface of the water by her legs. He watched, as the droplets of water travelled over the striking and soft features of her feminine face, over her closed eyelids, past her rosy cheeks and dropping from her chin to her chest. He watched, as the droplets travelled between her breast, dipping into the cleavage her black bra accentuated and over the soft planes of her flat stomach, some of them getting temporarily caught in her cute belly button. He watched, as the droplets of water travelled along her lower abdomen, and gathered in the junction of her thighs, some of them disappearing from his view, others continuing their journey along her shapely thighs and around her delicate knees, until they blended into the rushing surface around her calves.
He gulped audibly and swam closer to her, drawn to her by an unknown and unseen force, beckoning him to be as close to her as he could possibly get.
He rose on the slight platform that created the shallow water along the waterfall and neared her bathing body.
Bella could feel him as he tentatively approached her, and she opened her eyes slightly, gazing through her lashes at him, as she moved slightly to the left to leave some space for him to join her.
Edward stepped into the constant flow next to her, keeping her gaze locked with his.
She reached up with her hands to wash off some dirt from his shoulders. She found she couldn’t – and honestly wouldn’t – remove her hands from him once she’d cleaned the dirt off of him, and instead she began caressing his chest, neck and sharp jaw.
His breath hitched in his throat before picking up at double speed at her caress, and he gathers her chin in his right hand as he lifts her head so their gazes locked once again.
Her brown eyes had turned almost black, the dark brown resembling molten chocolate and her dilated pupils taken up most of her otherwise light irises. She was breathing in tandem with him, their breaths huffing against the exposed skin between them, making gooseflesh rise all over their bodies.
Her hand reached up to touch the skin of his chin, slightly cupping his face.
His gaze was smouldering as he stepped closer to her, making the space between them even more non-existent.
She sighed softly and gave into the urge to touch him more, and let her thumb caress the petal soft skin of his pink lower lip. They parted as soon as she touched them, as she accidently slipped the tip of the digit into the soft crevice of his mouth.
“Bella…” he groaned, and nestled her head between his hand, letting the fingers of one remain on her chin, caressing her soft skin, while the other’s tangled in the wet tangle of hair at the back of her head, drawing her close to him.
They both moaned, second before their lips met in the middle, tangling together – soft and unyielding – as they both fought for dominance and gave into the other.
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