Chapter 39: Under, Over and Up Above


"Are you seriously eating French toast in the bathtub?"

She grins and takes a bite. Bella is floating in the hotel tub. It is big enough to swim in. She looks happy. I feel happy.

"You should take off your stupid underwear and come in."

Bella has good ideas.

She eats and I strip down. The water is warm and inviting. Fragrant. I settle myself next to her. She holds out her hand. There is a piece of French toast in between her fingers.

"Wanna bite?"

I shake my head. She sits forward.

"Cullen, the combination of tub to French toast ratio is perfect. If you put this in your mouth, there is a really good chance you will see God."

And she is the most adorable thing. She nods in encouragement. I take a bite and she waits.

"It's delicious, but I don't see God, Sweetheart."

She sits closer. "Hmm. Maybe your one messed up gene is preventing you from enjoying this experience. Perhaps this needs to be kinky for your brain to function right. We all know you're a freak, Cullen."

She takes a breath and she disappears under the water. I feel her in between my legs. She pops back up laughing.

"Okay, that is way harder to do than I thought."

I wipe the bubbles from her face and pull her into my lap, facing me. I lean back against the tub.

"I'd rather see Bella, anyhow."

She smiles and reaches for another slice from the plate. I take the bite she offers me and then she eats some.

"You know, I'm thinking this place kind of makes your house seem a little insignificant, Edward."

I smile. "I love Virginia. You haven't even seen the rest of it. I almost moved here once."

"Why didn't you?"

I shrug. "Tanya wanted to be closer to her family, but Esme threatened my life if I moved away from her."

She laughs. I push her hair back.

"I guess it's a good thing I didn't. I would have never met you, Bella."

And she puts her attention on the food.

"Someone told me there was a maple syrup place here where you can try all different kinds of maple syrup. Is that true?"

I shake my head. "You're thinking of Vermont."

Her face dims. She's looks a little embarrassed. "Oh."

"You know what Virginia does have?"

She shakes her head.

"Apple Orchards."

A slow smile creeps across her face. There is no other perfection.

It's sunny and quite pleasant out today. Bella looks beautiful as always. I feel proud to have her at my side. My hand in hers. No one in this town knows her. Me. I'm not a doctor. She's not…her past. We are just a man and a woman walking hand in hand. Enjoying the sights. When a man stares at her, my mind doesn't wander. He is just admiring what any man would. What I admire. How could you not?

She wants to look around in a used book store. I let her wander around and poke through some of the titles. There is a book of poetry and I wonder if Bella likes poetry. I hold on to it. I poke through some of the other books and find nothing. She comes back over smiling.

"Someone wrote a book for me." She holds it out and I snort.

Cooking for Dummies.

"Is that what you're getting?" She points to the book in my hand.

"Depends how you feel about poetry."

She thinks. Her voice is soft. "I've never really read poetry. Do you like poetry?"

"Sometimes. It might be nice to read at the orchard. We could buy a blanket somewhere."

And she likes this idea.

We arrive at the orchard with our blanket and book. We are given a basket and I pay the woman in the cabin. Bella doesn't protest and I am glad. I hand her the basket and we walk towards the trees. The fields go on as far as the eye can see. Tree after tree after tree in perfect rows. It's a nice farm. There are other families here. Other couples. It's all just very normal. I feel normal. We find a tree that is far from the other people so we have privacy. I set down our things for later. I turn to Bella.

"So, you're the expert. Show me how it's done."

She grins. "You're talking about apple picking, right?"

I grab her chin. I kiss her lips. "Your wit isn't lost on me, but let's focus on the mission at hand."

"Fine. It's all very difficult and technical, though. I'm not sure you have what it takes." She puts the basket down. I watch her. She reaches up and pulls an apple from the branch.

Yeah, Bella's got jokes.

I roll my eyes at her and push her aside. I reach my hand higher - as I am taller - and pick one she can't reach. I smirk and drop it in the basket. My eye roll is returned. We carry on, picking and filling our basket. There is a constant smile on Bella's face that she seems unaware of. It comes from up, over and above us. The cover of the trees as we travel through the field. The warm childhood memories that must be blanketing her mind. I won't ask. I don't need to. The smile says it all.

When our basket of apples is complete, we find our blanket. Only peace and normal live here; though I've never been here before. Is it possible for it to still be familiar? She knows where to sit. I know how to hold her. She knows how to feed me bites of her apple. I know how to kiss her cheek to thank her. She knows how to smile to say your welcome.

Her head knows how to lean on my shoulder. My lips know how to read to her. My eyes know which poem she would understand. My heart knows how to beat in anticipation. My voice doesn't know how not to speak the words that are so obvious.

"I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,

or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,

in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms

but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;

thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,

risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.

I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;

so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,

so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,

so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep."

And my head rests to hers. And she's quiet. My heart is drumming. It waits for the rebuff. It waits for a kiss. Her face turns towards mine. Her eyes are shining.

She's excited that she knows this. "That's from Patch Adams."

Yes and no.

Her head shakes. "I didn't know it was real."

I pick up her hand and place it against my chest. My heart.

"It's real."

I catch her eyes with my own. They soften. They feel my heart and they understand. Something tells me that if I touch her heart, it would feel the same. I know she won't say it back, even it were true. I don't want her to. I'm not that selfish. She just needs to know. I just need to tell it.

Her voice is breathy. "Can you read it again?"

I look back to the page.

"I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,

or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,

in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms

but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;

thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,

risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body…"

And she shifts to face me. And my face is pulled into hers. Her lips to mine and they are fire. A used book is forgotten and my hands are needed elsewhere. To the sides of her face. I need to hold her so she knows she is precious and my words are true. And my drumming heart is under, over and up above. Under Bella's spell. Over the moon. Up above the Earth where it cannot be reclaimed.

And the trees provide shelter. And the trees provide a place where new memories live. And the trees cover us so we can be under, over and up above. Together. She raises her arms and I pull her dress over her head. I kiss in between her breasts. Her heart. Her fingers remove my shirt, slowly. One button at a time and we are the same.

I put my mouth back to her chest. My fingers remove the fabric barrier between my lips and her skin. I toss it to the side and taste her. Flowers. Warmth. Bella. I suck softly to her nipples. The underside of her breast. I kiss. I hold her and listen to her breath.

I feel her lips on my hair. Her fingers. I trail my kisses to her neck. She holds me tighter. And I think this is the first time she really understands what love is. And it is so fragile you could break it with a feather. So precious that I'm not sure I am even deserving of sharing such a moment, even if I sparked it or taught it.

It's personal, but can only be experienced with another. And there's a difference between making love to someone and making love with someone. My body knows this. My heart knows this. And they both feel it.

Words are superfluous. They are not needed. I've said it before. It's still true. My lips are under her chin. Over the dip and all around her mouth. She rocks herself in my lap. My hardness against her soft. I slide my hands over her breasts to her hips. She moves her mouth to my cheek and chin and bare shoulder. I feel her cry there.

It's soft sobs and letting go. I wrap the portion of the blanket we aren't sitting on around her. I pepper her shoulder in kisses. Her lips begin to move again. Her arms tighten around my neck. I tuck my fingers into her panties and start to pull them down. She lifts up and I draw them down her legs. She does the same for me, though it's a little harder with her in my lap. I place her palm to my mouth and want her to remember the words from the poem. They are superfluous, but they echo what this is.

Her eyes close and she rests her chest against my chest. Our lips meet and stay together as I slide inside of her. She doesn't move for a moment. I'm inside of her and she keeps me there. I won't be anxious. I won't be needy. My need is being fulfilled. She hugs herself to me and I imagine she was never allowed to do this before. I hug my arms around her the same way and let her work how she wants. Her pleasure is my pleasure. It's the same. This isn't one-sided.

And Bella learns how to make love.

How to give love.


"Are you to sad to leave?"

I look over to her. "I wish I could have seen Bree, but it'll be nice to be home again."

"Yeah." She looks out the plane's window.

"Are you sad to leave?"

She shrugs. I take her hand. She looks over.

"It was nice here."

I kiss her hand. "Yes it was, Sweetheart."

And our eyes know what we mean.

When we arrive home, I am exhausted. Bella lays next to me in my room. The television is on and there are two empty cereal bowls on the nightstand. It's warm and I am way too comfortable. She snuggles into my side and closes her eyes.

"Don't do that."

She opens her eyes.

"If you close your eyes I will want to close my eyes and I have to get up in an hour and go to work."

She groans and sits her chin on my chest. "What's the point of being your own boss if you can't take the day off?"

I touch her nose. "It's called having people depend on you, Sweetheart."

"What about my needs? Your neglecting me to go play with others, doesn't that count?"

I smile. "I didn't know you needed me."

Her cheek rests to my stomach. I smooth my hand over her dark hair.

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't. Not everyone expresses themselves in poems and shit, Edward."

"If I had more energy, I would come down there and kiss the shit out of you, Bella."

She closes her eyes. "Such a loser."

I laugh silently. "You could come up here, you know. I don't always have to come to you. Plus, you would help me to stay awake."

Her eyes open. "I could stay down here and help you stay awake, too."

And Bella's good ideas followed her home.

I leave her sleeping in my bed when I leave. I'm even more exhausted now. Note to Self: orgasms plus tired does not equal energy. End note. Lauren hands me my schedule when I enter my office. It's still early. The office just opened. I had to leave the house or I would be sleeping right next to Bella. Esme isn't here yet. I sit in the empty seat next to Lauren and she babbles on about her weekend and how many pounds she lost. I can't see, but I'll take her word.

"So, did you do anything special this weekend, Dr. Cullen?"

I smile, but I can't tell those stories.

"Just visited some family friends out of town."

She looks up from her papers. "Oh. Where did you go?"


"Ahhh, lovely there. Haven't been in so long. Used to take the kids when they were younger. They loved picking out pumpkins and the hay rides."

"Well, I didn't do any hay rides, but I did go apple picking."

"That's fun, too. We used to pick so many I would joke with the owners that they owed us money. We could never keep them all and I would dare let them go to waste."

I smile. "Nothing went to waste on our trip. It was really nice."

She gives a smile in return and goes back to her work. I'm staring at the paper she handed me, but my mind is back in the apple orchard. How good it feels to hold someone bare against your bare and watch the sun settle in the sky, wrapped in a blanket. How apples will never taste the same.

Flowers in my senses and smiles you can't control as you roam through the farm's store looking at jams and jellies. Wondering if anyone else has any idea what you just did and guessing that they probably do. It's written all over her face. Her messy hair. My untucked shirt. And I'm sure my hair looks the same.

Soft giggles and unable to stop touching. Her hand holding onto my arm and it never lets go as we shop. I'm looking at the gift baskets trying to find something for my mother, but my fingers are telling the back of Bella's head that I love her with every circle they rub. My thumb on her neck.

And the people checking us out, handing me a bag and a receipt, smile and fail to hide amusement at seeing a man and a women in love. That's all we are to them. Her hand in my hand and my inability to not buy her a fresh cut flower they have in a metal bucket on the checkout stand. 3/$1.00 and Bella looked at it as though it were priceless.

"You're in my chair, Dr. E."

I'm pulled from my thoughts and suddenly not so sleepy.