Chapter 44: Comfort and things


"If that thing comes anywhere near me, I will die, Edward."

He laughs.

"Amazingly, I've been told this by a woman before."

I look over the edge of the mattress. He is on his hands and knees looking for that goddamn Godzilla-sized spider.

"I mean it."

He stands up. "It's long gone, Sweetheart. There's no spider in here."

I make a face. He thinks it's funny. I do not. He sighs. There's a still a hint of amusement on his face.

"Get off the bed then. I might as well be thorough."

I let my toes touch the carpet and he starts pulling apart the bed. I glance all around, making sure that thing is no where near us. He already checked the bathroom and nothing. Eight legs and all; it couldn't have gone that far. The bed is a complete disaster. Pillows and blankets messed up. He turns around.

"It's not here, Bella. Can we please go to sleep, now? I'm tired…and have my entire room pulled apart."


I crawl back into the bed. He leans his palms to the mattress, but doesn't make any move to get in.

"I'm going to shower first." He kisses my forehead.

I do not like this idea. He sees it. It's 'grin at Bella time' again.

"Five minutes. Nothing will attack you while I'm gone." He kisses me again and the bathroom door is closed. I shimmy down into the sheets and swear there is something on my leg every two seconds. In my hair. On my back. I have officially lost my mind. I am scratching fake itches and swatting imaginary bugs.

I fall back into the pillows. So irritated. I roll to my side and the table-lamp catches the shine on the bracelet. I stare at it. I hear his words. I hear the sadness in them and my heart is alive, but pained. I lift my wrist and let the light dance on the silver. It blinds my eyes. All I see is that day. All I will ever see is that day. The itch is back. I push the covers away and climb out.

My toes touch the soft carpet. My shirt does too. And so do my bottoms. He is lost somewhere in the steam of the bathroom. Only the black from his wet hair can be seen vividly. I find him and warm water and soapy bubbles never felt so good. My fingers scratch along the nape of his neck. His hands rest on my bare hips. We aren't being foul. It's sexy without trying to be sexy. If we had clothes on, it'd be almost innocent, if not for the thoughts running through my mind. My vulgar mind. My cheek rests to the bare skin of his chest. My fingers have figured out how to touch without me thinking.

They form circles. They roam. They trace patterns to pictures I can't see. His chin is on the side of my head. He seems content with this. I feel him moving and then his fingers in my hair. I lower my arms and wrap them around his waist. I keep my cheek to his chest. I listen to the water and beating. I only feel his fingers and the bubbles he is forming. I lift my head and let him wash the other side. I watch him, but his eyes don't watch me. He looks far away. His mind is somewhere else. I fix it.

Lips find dewy chin. There's a little scruff. Nothing major. I like it. I glide the blades of my fingers up his spine. Green eyes are back. On mine. I curl my fingers into his skin. They slide and scrape against the wet. Over the muscles on his back. Between his shoulder blades. There's a wetness between my legs. A hardness forming in between his.

Now, we are being foul.

I drag my fingers down his back again. His hardness grows. My fingers find the nape of his neck and they are once again moving on their own. The washing of my hair is forgotten. Hands are sliding over my skin, over the slope of my hips and lower. He grips the bottom of my ass and hoists me onto his hips. Our mouths haven't touched. Green eyes are still on mine. I lock my legs around his waist. My back is against the wall. My heart is about to thump out of my chest. It matches the pulsing down below. We haven't done anything yet and I'm breathless.

His forehead press to mine. Eyes still open. On me. "I love you, Bella."

And he pushes forward, sinking himself inside of me. My sounds echo off the tile wall. His mouth finds the side of mine. He keeps it there as he slides himself from inside of me. Back in. Out. In. Fuck. I am panting and speaking foolishness and he knows what the hell he's doing.

My voice is high. "Cullen…"

His is low. "Fuck."

And he's with me and in me and filling me and keeping his mouth to the side of mine as I pant through my orgasm. He's letting a soft groan escape his throat and whispering shit against my skin. I am holding on to him and moving my hips and wanting to miss none of what he's giving me. And he's still moving and my body is still tingling and the more he moves, the better it feels and I know it's over, but it's not over. There's still life there and my mouth begs for it.

"Don't stop. Please don't stop."

And he keeps moving and every time he slides himself into me, the further along I go. And I slip and fall and feel the surge creep through my veins again. And he makes noises that help. And I keep begging.

"You're gonna make me come again. Don't stop. Don't stop. Don't…"

And he doesn't.

The bed is warm. The itch is gone. It's dark and I am more comfortable than I ever remember feeling.


There is only a note. He is gone and I have overslept. The paper is placed beside me. I put it to my face and it smells like him. I slide a finger under the fold and reveal the words. It's from a page in a book, but not either of two we were reading. I'm not sure where it came from. It is titled to me, in his script, but the other letters are typed.

The Enigma

by Anne Stevenson

Falling to sleep last night in a deep crevasse between one rough dream and another, I seemed, still awake, to be stranded on a stony path, and there the familiar enigma presented itself in the shape of a little trembling lamb. It was lying like a pearl in the trough between one Welsh slab and another, and it was crying.

I looked around, as anyone would, for its mother. Nothing was there. What did I know about lambs? Should I pick it up? Carry it . . . where? What would I do if it were dying? The hand of my conscience fought with the claw of my fear. It wasn't so easy to imitate the Good Shepherd in that faded, framed Sunday School picture filtering now through the dream's daguerreotype.

With the wind fallen and the moon swollen to the full, small, white doubles of the creature at my feet flared like candles in the creases of the night until it looked to be alive with newborn lambs. Where could they all have come from? A second look, and the bleating lambs were birds— kittiwakes nesting, clustered on a cliff face, fixing on me their dark accusing eyes.

There was a kind of imperative not to touch them, yet to be of them, whatever they were— now lambs, now birds, now floating points of light— fireflies signaling how many lost New England summers? One form, now another; one configuration, now another. Like fossils locked deep in the folds of my brain, outliving a time by telling its story. Like stars.

And I don't get all of it, but I get enough to understand.


"What is with you people? You always tell us to be on time, even make us arrive early and then we have to wait around for forever."

Edward is smiling. He leans over the examining table. "You have to pee really badly don't you, Bella?"

I groan. "I am going to burst! This asshole better hurry the fu…"

And in walks the doctor. Edward is smiling like that cat from Alice in Wonderland. Whatever his name is. I have no idea. I only saw it once when I was fucked up. They showed it on one of the movie channels. Jesus, Renee was a shitty mother.

"How are we feeling today?"

And this doctor is cheery and old. It's weird. He's not the same doctor as last time. I don't know why. I'm not going to ask. If Cullen is bringing me here, then he must trust this guy.

"Fine." Such a liar.

It's too cold in here. My bladder is going to burst from the amount of shit they made me drink and I have Cullen staring at me like this thing is his or something. For such a smart person, he is totally deranged sometimes. Most of the time. No wonder he likes me. Loves me. Whatever.

The doctor asks me to move my shirt up some and then squirts stuff on me that doesn't make the temperature of the room any more comfortable. The room is dim and he flips on a screen on the wall. I'm guessing so I can see, but I don't want to. Edward is looking at the same monitor as the doctor. Kid in a candy store. I swear. He is truly a geek. So sexy. Jesus. I am fucked up.

This wand thingy presses against where my stomach is making my life misery and I want to punch someone. Anyone. I'd take the doctor. Either one of them. Right in the face. My toes clench and tingle and he's pressing and swirling the wand and I am going to pee. I am going to pee. Oh my God, this is torture and I am going to motherfucking…

"I'm going to take some pictures for my records and then we'll get to the fun stuff, Miss Swan."

Fun stuff? Seriously? Goddamn men. They have no idea what they are talking about. Ever.

"Your baby is not being shy, today. This is wonderful if you'd like to know what you are having."

He is waiting and I am not paying attention. I am still stuck on fun.

Edward is paying attention. "Bella?"

I look at him. "What?" I am so irritated. He senses this. He puts his hand on my forehead.

He's talking like I am the child "Do you want to know if it's a boy or girl?"

"What difference does it make?"

He glances at the monitor, then to me. I wonder if he knows.

"It might make it easier when you meet with people. They might want to know. Esme wanted a girl when she looked for Alice."

I sigh in irritation. "Yeah, sure. Whatever."

The other doctor. "It's a girl."

I look at my toes and nothing else. All I feel is uncomfortable. Physically and in every other way. The doctor rambles off things he is taking pictures of. The only thing good about Cullen being here is that he understands what 'fluid levels' and other shit mean.

Oh, and he rubs my face.


Hand-in-hand, we walk down the path. It's beautiful outside today. The trees are getting their color and leaves back. The forest looks fuller. It's not as scary. I see the gazebo and my feet are going to walk that way. Edward has other ideas.

"A little further," he nods.

I glance at him. "I thought you wanted to read?"

"I do."

We walk a little further and round the bend into a part of the woods I haven't seen before. There is a bridge made of wooden slats and rope. It would be scary, except that it isn't that high off the ground. Still, he holds my hand as though it were, as we cross. The bridge is only to allow the small stream of water to pass. The water is coming from a fountain. A fountain is connected to a small house. It is made of wood and tree. A few feet above the ground. Again, not scary. The stilts look thick and sturdy.

I look at him. "What is this?"

"Where I like to come sometimes. When the weather is good. And there's good company." He's smiling and it's all very….charming?

There is a place to rest outside of the doors. White sheets that I don't remember ever washing, but they are clean. A net hangs over it. Again, white. Clean. A few leaves. It's small. He pauses at the open doorway and lets me step inside. I look around and it's not Cullen, but it's sort of Cullen. It's charming. It's a little unexpected. Everything is natural and carved and I want to touch. There is art on the walls and I look at it. I hear him rustling around. My glance his way. He is opening a large trunk.

"I usually put them back on the shelves this time of year. Now that it won't snow or rain much."

The trunk is filled with books. I see other trunks and assume there is more. The books cases are built into the interior of the space. Part of the wall, where the art is hanging. It's very organic. He starts to pluck a few books from the trunk. He glances at the titles and then he stands. He puts them on the shelves and then goes back for more. I kneel down and pull a book out. I feel his eyes on me.

"How do you want them arranged?" I ask.

He shrugs, digging for more. "I don't really have a system. If you see something you like, just keep it aside."

He goes back to putting books on the wall. I pick out some and add them beside his. We work mostly in silence and the shelves are pretty full by the time we reach the third trunk. I have no idea what any of these are about. I choose nothing and neither does he. They all get put on the shelves.

He smiles. "I guess we should have brought the one from the house, huh?"

I smiles back. I shrug.

He looks nervous. "Do you still want to stay here? It's relaxing. We could just talk."

He motions towards the area where there is a bed of sorts. It looks soft and comfortable. I nod. He extends his hand and I step on the little wooden stool to climb in. I feel six. I rest against the pillows and he lays next to me.

His shirt smells good. It's blue and long-sleeved, but he has the sleeves pushed up to his elbows. My leg rests on the denim of his jeans. My eyes see his shoes and I sit forward. I untie the laces and pull them off, dropping them to floor. He wiggles his toes and pulls me back to him. I kick off my shoes and push them off the bed. I curl into him and it's just nice. It's quiet and his fingers move slowly and softly through my hair. You can hear the birds and the breeze is amazing. Such comfort.

I play with the fabric of his shirt. "Tell me something."

"Like what, Sweetheart?"

I shrug. "Anything. Something random."

He thinks for a few moments. I hear only his breathing and heart under my ear. His voice vibrates in his chest when he starts to speak.

"The only memory I really have of Elizabeth is her cutting my hair. It's really weird. I don't remember hardly anything, but I can remember her cutting my hair like it was yesterday."

I smile against his shirt. "Did you like it?"


I shift so I can see him. His other hand plays with my hair. "Is that why Alice does it?"

He looks surprised. "I suppose. I mean, she offers, but I think it's because when we were little I used to tell her about it. I think it's her way of…I don't know, trying to be Alice?" He laughs. "She's a pain in the ass most of time, but it's only because her heart is in the right place. She knows what it's like to be hurt, too. To be left."

My fingers rub along his chin. "My kid is going to hate me, isn't it?"

He shakes his head. "I don't hate Elizabeth."

"But you're happy she isn't your mother. Right?"

He thinks first. "Bella, the situations are completely different."

"Not really. It's like you said; I have a place to stay. You don't even understand why I'm giving it away."

"And maybe I spoke without thinking, Bella."


He sighs. "About everything else. I'm serious when I tell you that you can stay. That you have a choice. That part is all true. But I didn't exactly think about the rest of what I was saying when it comes to you. Your life. My mother brings up a good point, in a way. I'm sure you won't be content working as a housekeeper - in particularly my housekeeper - for forever. I see the eagerness in your eyes and that's good. You should want to learn. You should want something better."

I look at my fingers as they curl into the fabric of his clothes. He touches my face, under my chin and makes me look at him.

"I'm not telling you to leave. I'm not firing you. I'm saying it's okay to want more."

My voice is weak. "Like what?"

"Like going back to school. Like finding a job that is worthy of you. Like seeing yourself for the person I see you as. That beautiful girl that is smart and got a lot of chances stolen from her. Like being able to offer your daughter a chance at a mother someday…even if it's a long way down the road."

I argue because I am difficult. "I didn't even finish high school, Cullen. How am I supposed to do all of that shit you're spewing, without even being able to understand a book that is made for dumb people to read?"

He is used to my mouth. He is un-phased. "They have GED programs. Night schools. It's equal to a diploma. You can still go to college and get a degree, if you want to. If you put the effort in. And for the record, those books 'made for dummies' are owned by people from all walks of life. I happen to own three of them. I'm pretty sure you aren't implying I'm stupid, are you?"

And this is why I hate Cullen sometimes.


"Are you sure it's going to hold, Edward?"

I eye the swing tied to our tree. Two ropes and a wooden seat. Edward gives it a tug.

"Emmett said it would. Wanna try it out?"

No. Yes. Yes. I take a seat and pray it won't break. It doesn't. Edward gives a little push. I hold on and feel six again. He sits on the grass facing me and I swing a little. Not too high; he looks like he wants to talk. He also looks nervous.

"Bree called me this morning while you were showering. She has a ballet recital next weekend. I was wondering if you would join me? It will be in Virginia."

He hugs his knees to his chest and waits for my reply. He looks like a young boy asking a girl out for the first time. Well, I guess it is, in a way.

I tease him, because it's fun. And he's fucking cute.

"Like a date, Cullen?"

And he just nods. I have to smile at him because I am reduced to a teenaged girl in the presence of his stupid eyes and nodding and grins. Fuck.

"I don't know. It'll cost you. Big."

And he produces one of those grins that only reaches one side of his mouth.

"How much?"

I stare out into the field. Big stupid smile on my face. I stop the swing and look back to him.

"How long will we be gone for?"

He shrugs. "Just the weekend."

"Then you owe me two days."

He looks confused. "Of?"

"You'll see."

He sighs. He complains. "Bella."

I laugh and start to swing. I'm teasing.

"Nope. It's either yes or no. You said you loved me, Cullen. I think that means you have to trust me too. Doesn't it? I mean…unless you don't. Unless you were lying."

He grabs my feet and stops me from swinging. "I meant it."

I lower my face, leaning in towards his. "Then say yes."

He shakes his head, a light laugh leaving his chest. He kisses my knee.


And I am once again smiling like an idiot.