Chapter 32: Stitched Up Hearts
I slowly slide my arm out from under her. She doesn't wake or move. The sun is on her face, illuminating the tones in her hair. I pull the blanket around her and kiss her cheek before I get up. I close the bathroom door as quietly as I can. It's still early. My hand reaches into the shower and I turn the knob. It is impossible not to laugh as I see myself passing in the mirror. If there was ever a reward given for morning-wood, I would be the proud owner.
I strip down and stand under the stream. I scrub my face and then wash my hair. There is a throbbing in my groin that cannot be ignored. Bella coming into my room last night was the third to last thing I expected to happen. Bella staying the entire night in my room would be second to last. Bella in my room, in my bed, kissing me all night, would be absolute last. Doing the last things on that list, and only the last things was a sincere testament to either my amazing restraint, or insanity. I'll allow you to choose.
It was her eyes. The scared little girl. She wasn't looking for sex. This was the Bella I adore. The Bella I want to see. Hands trembling, heart beating, unsure. Who knew lips could be so soft? Or sweet. I wanted her. I'm not a saint. Every ounce of me wanted nothing more than to take her right there in my bed. But this Bella…she's never been shown true affection.
She's never been shown restraint. She's never had someone show her all of the places her body is just as desired as the space between her legs. And it is. Her lips are just as pleasurable to kiss. The warmth and fragrance of her skin. Her neck. The way goose-bumps rise at the faintest brushing of my lips to her shoulder. All pleasure.
And I enjoyed her all night. Her sleepy kisses at the end. Her just laying against me, wrapped in my arms. Waking up to a face full of her hair. All pleasure. But I had to let go. I had to turn her over and just hold her so my brain could catch up to my body. As much as she has never experienced the things she did last night, neither have I, to a degree.
I've never felt so aroused by simply planting pecks on the lips of another, or the way my fingers feel against her silken strands of hair. The amount of desire I feel for Bella is unreal.
It's not just my body that longs for her; it's all of me. There's something there, something I cannot explain, but when it's there, it's just never been more right. Not even…not even with those who were here before her. It's simply unreal.
And now I'm thinking of her and last night and that same desire has returned. I've had enough frustration for the last week. I grab the soap and lather my hand. I palm the wall close my eyes. There is only one face, one pair of brown eyes, I see. Her lips on my lips and my mouth on her skin. When she rubs her hand over me. I stroke harder. The slow slide of her tongue against my own.
The noises she makes in my ear. I grip myself firmer and pump fervently; hand over my swollen head and back down. How small she feels. How tight she must be. Fuck. Her sitting in my lap and I can see through her pajamas. Her nipples are so pretty. Dark and lovely and I have to kiss her chest and avoid looking. But they are so perfect and so pretty….fuck. My come hits the wall and the relief is incredible.
I find clothes in the closet and dress quickly. When I walk back into my room, she's still lying in bed. Her eyes are closed, but she has turned to the other side. Her back is facing me. I sit down on the edge of the mattress and lean down.
"Are you still sleeping?" I whisper. She nods her head. I smile. "You can stay here, but I have to go downstairs before Bree wakes up, if she isn't already.
She shakes her head in protest. Eyes still closed. I move, propping myself on my elbow next to her. I kiss her shoulder. "I'm sorry. I promised her pancakes and a trip to the museum, though." Bella arches so that her ass in my crotch. "You're not going to persuade me to stay, Sweetheart." I kiss her again. "But nice try."
I spend the day with Bree roaming around downtown. We eat breakfast and visit the museum. She tells me which painting she likes and I'm amused and amazed by how articulate she is. This is a much more pleasurable way to spend Sunday.
"Can we go in here?" She points to a window that's filled with things a girl her age would like.
"Sure." I hold the door for her and then keep my hands in my pockets. There is a lot of pink going on here. Butterflies.
"Hi! Welcome to Gravity! I'm Sandy! Let me know if you need anything at all!" And sales people who scare the holy fuck out of me.
Bree laughs. I follow her around as she looks at things. "Look!" She shows me a light-up pen.
She rolls her eyes and puts it back. "I'm supposed to get shoes. Mom said to buy shoes. She gave me money for some."
I look around. "I don't see shoes here. We can try another store."
Her eyes are shy. "Can I still buy something here, though?" She's only asking because the money Carmen gave her was for shoes and clothes. She's asking me to buy something else for her.
I touch her cheek. "Anything you want, Sweetheart."
And her smile is huge. "Thanks."
She twirls and starts looking at a shelf with monogrammed items. Pillows, journals, purses and so forth. She picks up a purse but puts it back. Her hand is reaching for a journal, but another little girl comes over and stands in the way. Brat. She tosses the items on the floor as she rummages through them. I hear a woman complaining to the sales lady and assume she is the mother. I follow Bree as she starts looking at other things. She looks back to where the other girl is still standing. Her mother is now with her. They are loud and obnoxious.
I touch her shoulder. "Did you want something from over there?"
I kneel down. "You shouldn't let others intimidate you, especially when there is no reason why they should."
She shakes her head. "It's just a stupid book, Uncle Edward."
And why do her words remind me of Bella?
"Today it might be a book, but someday it might be something more. Something you really want or need. Come on." I give her my hand.
We walk back over to the display. "Excuse me." I reach over them for the book. "This one?" She nods. I hand it to her. The mother glares at me and I don't give a shit.
We pay for the book and walk to another store. She finds her shoes. We walk back towards the car. "Ohhh! Look over there!" She points across the street. "Please can we go there? Please!"
A bear building store. No. I sigh. "You're draining your Uncle's wallet dry today…but sure."
We cross the street and it is a grown man's nightmare. "Look, one from Italy!" She points to a bear on the wall with a flag on its stomach.
"You should make that one for your Mom and Dad. They would appreciate the sentiment." The reason Bree is here, is because Carmen and Eleazar are in Italy, celebrating their anniversary.
"What does sentiment mean?"
"It's like the story or meaning behind something."
"Oh." She looks back to the wall. "Look! They have a ballerina, too!"
I laugh and rub my face. "Then get both." I am such a sucker.
I take a seat as she joins a group of kids and a clerk to build them. It's boring, but what are you gonna you do. It makes her happy. My mind wanders to Bella and I wonder what she's doing at home. I feel badly for not inviting her, but I already made plans with Bree and I didn't want her to feel awkward about a stranger being here. It's also never predictable how things between Bella and I will go…and fighting in front of Bree just isn't allowed. I do wish she was here, though.
Bree finishes and comes over to show me her bears. "Cute, right?"
I nod. "You did a good job."
"I need money to pay."
I laugh and rise from my seat. We walk towards the register. The line is ridiculously long. She keeps pointing out different ones to me along the wall.
"Look how cute that one is! It's a dog, though, not a bear." She keeps looking. I shuffle forward as the line moves. There is a collection of Valentine's Day bears and it reminds me that I still have yet to buy Bree anything. Her candy was left behind the day in the store.
"Sweetheart? Do you want something for Valentine's Day? I know I forgot this year. I'm sorry."
Her finger points to the wall. "Can I have that one?" It's a red and white heart-speckled bear.
"That's what you want? You just made two, Bree."
"One was for Mom, though," she whines.
We've only moved an inch in line. "Alright, if that's what you want."
I go with her this time as she picks it out. I eye the other bears. There is a plain one. It's really nothing special. I sigh. "You want to make one for Bella, too?"
Of course she does.
She also wants to pick out a skirt and other shit for it, but I'm not that much of a sucker. Plus, Bella would hate that. It's her turn and she starts making the one she picked out for herself with the clerk. She finishes and then starts the other bear.
"What goes inside?" Bree asks me.
She laughs. "No, Silly." She grabs my hand and shows me the choices. "You have to pick something to put inside of it."
"Oh." I stare at the choices, and then look back to Bree. "What do you think?"
"I like the heart." She points to a red-stitched felt heart.
I eye her curiously. "Are you saying that because I said the bear was for Bella?"
She masks her face in innocence. "No."
She giggles. "Okay fine, but geeze. It's for a girl, Uncle Edward. Boys are supposed to give girls romantic things."
"I'm not being romantic. I'm just being nice. Bella is my friend." She rolls her eyes. "And how the heck do you know what romance is, anyhow?"
More eye rolling. "Because I'm a girl. Gosh, boys are so stupid."
And I laugh at her.
"Um…have we decided?" The clerk asks.
Bree puts her hand on her hip, tapping her foot in challenge to me and there is no way she is just ten.
I look at the clerk. "I guess we want the heart." And fuck, I am that much of a sucker.
I am exhausted when we arrive home. I set all of our things on the kitchen floor and search the other bags for the food I picked up for dinner. It's Chinese take-out tonight. Bree makes a plate and sits on the floor in the living room. Her bear friends join her. Bella is in there, watching television when I peek in. I sit on the couch, but the next space over. It's a little weird. I don't know why. Maybe I'm just nervous because of what happened last night. She looks at me and smiles a little.
"Hi," she says back.
"Sorry we were gone so long. Someone decided she wanted to make every bear in the store." Bree makes a face at me and goes back to eating.
Bella shrugs. "It's alright." She looks as nervous as I feel. Her fingers fidget with her clothes. She avoids looking at me at first, but when our eyes meet, she doesn't look away. And it's still there. That buzz I feel. The wave of heat under my skin.
I scoot back into the corner of the couch. My voice is low, so Bree won't overhear. "Come here, Bella." She slides herself over to me and I open my arms for her. She leans in and I hug her to me, tucking her head under my chin. Bree is still watching the screen. "I missed you, today."
Bella's fingers play with my shirt. "You did?"
I kiss her head. "Of course." I kiss her again. "Are you hungry? I brought food home."
She nods and I slide my finger under her chin. Her face lifts towards mine and I wait.
Her lips smile and she nods, again. I kiss her lightly, several times. I'd love more than that, but there is a child in the room to consider. "Let's eat before it gets cold."
I set a bowl of vegetable Lo-Mein in front of her and then take a seat at her side. We're in the kitchen. She twirls the noodles around her fork and takes a bite. I do the same. It's still a little tense. This is all very new. I'm not sure what it is, but I know enough to know that it's new.
"So…how was your day?" I begin.
She covers her mouth and swallows. "Uh…it was okay."
"What did you do?"
Her fork plays in her bowl. "Went to see Charlie…um….painted my toes." She wiggles them at me. Red.
I smile at her and go back to eating.
"What did you guys do?"
I laugh silently as I chew. "Well…" I wipe my mouth. "We started off being very smart individuals and looking at things that very smart people look at. Picasso, Monet…we ended up in a store where they charge you two hundred dollars for stuffed animals that couldn't honestly cost more than a couple dollars to manufacture and being very, very stupid."
Bella laughs. "You're mom is right." She takes a bite of her food.
"She said if you ever had children they'd never hear the word no."
I'm amused by this. "Is that so?" Bella nods. "When did she tell you this?"
"The day you roped her into taking me shopping…you know…when you were plotting and scheming against me…trying to get me to keep this thing."
And I can't help but to smile at her ability to not miss anything. "I wasn't plotting and scheming…." She makes a face and I laugh a little. "Alright, fine…I was plotting and scheming, but it was only with the best intentions in mind."
"Mmm hmm. You know what they say about good intentions, right?"
"Yes, yes. They pave the road to Hell. I know, Bella."
She smiles and goes back to eating. I shove a bite of broccoli in my mouth and reach down to the bags. "Going back to the bears, though…" I sit the brown bear in front of her. "Bree made that one for you."
Her face scrunches. "Why would she do that?" She turns her head to look at me. When our eyes meet, she realizes what she just said. She finally gets it. She finally sees. She looks back to the bear. Her hands pick it up. She scratches its head and glances at me. "Um…thanks."
And it's like God does exist. And perhaps….actually listens to me once in awhile.
"I don't feel good." My eyes see Bree standing in the doorway.
"Come here." I wave her over and move my bowl aside. "What's wrong?"
She's rubbing her face and looks tired. "I feel icky."
I stand and pick her up; sit her on the counter. My fingers are under her chin. "Let me see."
She opens her mouth and nothing is wrong. I touch her face and she's a little warm, but nothing alarming. Plus, the fireplace is on. "I think you need to take a bath and then go to sleep. You ate too much junk today and we did a lot of walking." I smooth my hand over her hair and she groans.
She looks over to Bella. "Do you like him? I wanted to get him a skirt, but he wouldn't let me."
"Um…what?" Bella asks. I try not to laugh. She thinks Bree is talking about me.
Bree points. "The bear."
"Oh…Yeah. It's cute."
I set Bree on the floor. She stands next to Bella. "He has a heart inside. Edward picked it out, but only because I told him to. He doesn't understand what romance is."
"Goodnight Brianna," I push her away and she giggles, making her way towards the stairs. "And don't over-fill the tub this time," I call out. "I'm not insured for floods, thank you."
I sit back down. Bella's eyes are trained on the bear in her hands. She's quiet and usually when she is, it's not good. I never know what she's thinking and I never know if something – that to others is funny – to her is hurtful.
I call her name softly. "Bella?" She glances at me. "Are you okay? She was just joking around."
Bella nods. Her eyes go back to the bear. Her fingers scratch its head, between the ears. Her voice is quiet. "I was kind of worried, today. I wasn't sure if you'd change your mind."
I slide my seat closer to her. "About what?"
I can barely hear her speak. "About what happened last night."
I stare at her for a moment. She won't look at me, just the bear. My nerves tie themselves into a ball in the pit of my stomach. "Why would I change my mind?"
Her head shakes. "I don't know. My mind just started wondering when you didn't come home. I thought…maybe you were avoiding me or something."
Is that what she…
"I wasn't avoiding you." I hug my arm around her. "I'm sorry that's what you thought." A sigh escapes my chest. "I was worried too, Bella. I thought the same thing."
Bella snuggles closer to me. Her head is under my chin and I wrap my arms securely around her.
"Thank you for thinking of me, today. With the bear."
And for anyone else it would just be a normal thing to say, but for it to come from Bella – for her to acknowledge that's what I was doing – it's her way of telling of me that's she sorry for hurting me all of the other times I had considered her and she didn't recognize it.
I kiss her head. "You're welcome."
"Are you taking off tomorrow?"
I shake my head. "You mean because of Bree?"
She nods. "Yeah."
"Esme is taking her during the day while I work this week."
"Where are her parents?" She asks.
"In Italy. It's their anniversary."
I pull away to see her face. "It doesn't bother you that she's here, right?"
She shakes her head. "No. I was just curious."
"Well, she's not too much trouble…usually," I smile. "But she does go to bed much earlier than us and unfortunately that is on the couch…where the epicenter of our laziness and entertainment takes place."
Bella laughs a little. "It's alright."
"We can watch television in my room, if you want. A movie or something. If you're nice to me…I might even let you bring the noodles." I nod to her bowl of food that has barely been touched.
"Noodles in your bed? Yeah…you have a sex fantasy hidden somewhere, Edward. You try to mask it with jokes, but I see you for what you are."
I cup her face in my hands. "We'll be eating the noodles and watching a movie that is not the least bit sexy or romantic. I have no hidden sex fantasies, Bella. Just a strong desire to eat Chinese take-out and get my ass off this stool that is making areas of my body numb that shouldn't be numb."
And she laughs, just as I hoped she would. I kiss her and we take our noodles upstairs. She tucks her feet under the covers. There is a pillow on her lap with the bowl on top. My pillows are propped up behind us. A comedy plays on the flat-screen. I hear her sigh and look over. She rest back into the pillows.
"So full," she complains.
"I'd say your eyes were bigger than your stomach, but…they're not." I'm just teasing. She isn't even showing. You'd never know she was pregnant.
Her face looks horrified. I laugh. She looks at her stomach. "Is it really that big? Shit, I knew I shouldn't feed this thing so much."
I shake my head and set my bowl on the nightstand. I roll back over to Bella. "You know, it's going to be able to hear you, even though it's in there, right?"
"So, you calling it a thing is probably not very nice."
"Neither is making me fat. Consider us even, Edward."
My next words will probably piss her off, but it's true. I try to say them delicately. "It didn't ask to be there."
She sighs in frustration. "I used protection. I swear. I didn't want this, Cullen."
"I'm not accusing you of anything. I'm just saying that you can't blame it for shit it didn't do on purpose. It's just growing. It's just doing what it should."
She rolls her eyes. "Whatever."
"Don't you feel anything towards it? I know it's not an ideal situation that someone would want to have a child by or from…but don't you feel anything? I thought women were supposed to be all...instinctual."
"You're seriously asking me this?"
I nod. "Yeah."
She shifts her eyes back to the screen. "No, I don't feel anything, Cullen. Nothing except fat."
I watch her face. She won't look at me. I take my hand and move it towards her stomach. She cowers away and hits my hand. I can't help but to laugh.
She's angry. "What the hell, Edward?"
I stare at her hands as they rests on her stomach. She's protecting it from me.
"That…" I point to her hands. "Would be called instinct, Bella."
I roll back to my side of the bed as I hear Bree closing her door. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to make sure Bree is alright….and that we don't have a flood."
I walk out of my room and head down the steps. Bree is on the couch. Her bears are snuggled with her. She yawns. I kneel down next to her. "Feeling better?" She nods. Her face looks sleepy. "I'll be upstairs if you need me. You remember how to use the phone?"
She smiles. "I have a cell phone, Silly."
"Right." I kiss her face. "Get some sleep. I love you."
"I love you, too. Thanks for the bears."
"You're welcome, Sweetheart."
"Did Bella like hers?"
I nod. "She sure does. You're a very good bear maker."
"Are you gonna kiss her?"
I pull the covers over her head. "Goodnight, Brianna."
Her giggles are the last thing I hear as I make my way back upstairs. Bella is curled in the middle of the bed. She glances at me as I close the door. The bear is tucked under her arm. I crawl under the covers with her and rub my hand on her arm.
"What did I miss?" I'm not watching the movie when I ask.
"A lot of pot-smoking jokes and a titty-flash."
I laugh and nervously lean down to kiss her shoulder. She shifts her eyes to me. I whisper to her. "Is this okay?"
She nods and I kiss her shoulder again. I kiss a little higher. Soft laughter vibrates from her, against me. "I thought you wanted to just eat your noodles?" Her eyes are playful when I look at her.
The truth is that I don't know what I want. I don't know if this is right or wrong. It feels right. Everything is pulling me in this direction. In Bella's direction. Maybe I should let her choose. "What do you want?"
She stares at me for a moment and then rolls to her back. My face is pulled to hers and last night is repeated once more.