Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Requite My Love

She waited, longing and praying for his attention, but with the social restrictions and guilt, will he ever requite her love? 
Rating: M Genre: Romance Word Count: 10,532 Pairing: Edward & Bella

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight. SM does. Fic includes a relationship between a stepfather and stepdaughter.

Requite My Love

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
~ After the Storm by Mumford and Sons~

I tossed and turned restlessly, the sheets tangled between my legs. My tongue felt as though it was glued to the roof of my mouth as the images whirled around in my mind, repeating the scene over and over again. 

There was no escape from it; I was trapped, forced to experience it to the point that it would be stamped permanently in my mind. My lips parted in a silent cry, my muscles tensing and coiling, winding tighter and tighter until I was thrown back into the harshness of reality.

My back bowed off the bed, and I clenched my hands into fists, a strangled gasp escaping me as my eyes flew open. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to feel relief or disappointment at being thrust into consciousness, whether the images lingering in the corners of my mind were dreams or nightmares.

I groaned, twisting my body as I kicked the sheets down to the bottom of the bed, so I felt less stifled, the heat emanating from my skin and curling around my limbs. A groan passed through my lips as I raised a shaking hand to push the snarled mess of hair out of my face. I blinked a few times, allowing my eyes time to focus in the darkness of my room. Blood pulsed in my ears, thrumming in time with my heart, which galloped like a thousand horses in a stampede.

I moistened my lips with the tip of my tongue. It darted out from between my plump lips, sliding over their contours, coating them in saliva, before retreating. My teeth bit down on my bottom lip, digging into the sensitive, chapped flesh, trapping the blood in its hold. My body was a live wire, electricity humming through it as I fought to find a cool spot on my mattress. I uncurled my fists, laying one hand on the sliver of flesh between my tank top and boyshorts. I flung the other hand above my head, grasping the pillow as I let my eyes fall back closed.

The pads of my fingers stroked my overly sensitive, sweaty skin, feeling it tingle everywhere they connected. My legs fell open in a unconscious move, anticipating what was coming next. I swallowed tightly, my throat constricting as my fingers dipped beneath the waistband of my underwear, playing with it as I danced back and forth between right and wrong. Part of me fought against the need, the craving to continue, but I easily pushed the guilt and shame away as my hand slipped fully into my boyshorts.

My teeth nipped at the loose, dead skin on my bottom lip, tugging at it as I melted with barely restrained lust. I brushed through the soft, sparse hairs on my mound as pictures of tangled limbs and desperate cries flitted through my mind. My fingers glided easily across my folds before dipping into the silken flesh hidden between them. I wasn't surprised to find myself slick and hot, my labia and clit swollen as I explored.

I stroked my needy flesh, grazing the sensitive tip of my clit as it throbbed with blood. I couldn't restrain the breathless mewl that escaped as my hips arched into my touch, rolling forward as if to coax my hand to give me more. My nipples strained against the thin cotton fabric of my tank top, rubbing against it as they swelled and tightened until it was almost painful.

My hips rocked against my hand, and a choked whimper escaped my lips as I slid two fingers inside the tight caverns of my pussy. My walls stretched around the intrusion of my fingers, clenching down around them. The friction of my fingers, which were now completely slick with my arousal, moving in and out of me sent shivers of pleasure down my spine, forcing a fresh gush of arousal to coat my pussy.

My free hand, which up until that moment had been resting above my head, drifted down, caressing the skin of my shoulders and arms as I pushed the straps of my tank top down. I squirmed as my top loosened and I tugged it beneath my tits, freeing them from their cloth prison. They heaved, aching for my touch as my shaking fingers descended over my collarbone, brushing over the swells of them. I slowly, almost cautiously, rubbed the pad of my thumb over the taut bud of my nipple, sucking in a sharp breath at the resulting stimulation.

I cupped my breast, massaging it in my palm as my fingers quickened between my legs. I could hear a chorus of pants mixed with the wet sound of my fingers working my pussy. The sounds filled the silence, and I could practically taste the scent of sex on my tongue as I inhaled it deeply. It was so wrong, yet so right, that I found myself getting off on images that, to anyone else, would be considered disturbing. Edward—the current object of my fantasies–was my stepfather, after all.

I should probably backtrack and explain that little tidbit.

My biological father, Charlie Swan, had left my mother when she was seventeen and pregnant with me. He was a deadbeat who didn't want to be saddled with the responsibility of taking care of a wife and baby. He hit the road running and never looked back.

For years, it was just my mother and I until she met Edward, a young landscape architect. I had been wary of him at first. He hadn't been my mother's first boyfriend, but I could tell from the beginning that he was different. He was charming and fun, and somehow he fit into our little family like he had always been there. He clicked with us, and we gravitated around him like planets in orbit. They married in our backyard when I was fourteen, with me as the maid of honor and close friends and family present.

I pulled myself out of my thoughts as I teetered close to the edge, my fingers thrusting furiously inside me while I plucked and pinched my nipple. My body trembled and my thighs tensed, moans and whimpers slipping unchecked past my lips. I didn't care about being heard; in fact a part of me wanted him to hear me, to know what I was doing here. Just imagining him with his ear pressed up against the wall listening to me was the push I needed to throw me off the edge.

My hips bucked as shudders rolled through my body in waves. Sparks jumped behind my closed lids as my arousal drenched my hand, my mouth open in a silent scream of pleasure. I floated back down to earth slowly, my mind swaying back and forth as the thick cloud of lust that I had been drowning in dissipated. I blinked lazily, my limbs refusing to budge from their current position, as I tried to catch my breath. It was only when I was fully back within myself that I felt the emotions that had been pushed aside rear their ugly heads.

I pulled my hand free of my boyshorts and adjusted my tank top, the disgust at my actions and the despair of their futility washing over me. I tried to swallow them back down, a hollow emptiness settling in my stomach like a gaping wound. I rolled over and stumbled from bed, a dull sense of panic welling up inside of me. I dashed across the hall into the bathroom, not bothering to pause to turn on the light as I frantically started to scrub at my hands, dousing them in liquid soap as I tried to remove all traces of what I had done.

Every time I did this it seemed to get worse. The panic would eclipse every thought and feeling, tightening around me like a noose until I could barely breathe. I was foolish and stupid, trapped in an unrequited love that seemed to only get more intense as the days went by. Knowing that my fantasies were just that made my knees buckle as pain radiated throughout my chest. It was like someone had sucker punched me, stealing the breath from my lungs as I went down.

I wasn't even sure when it had started, when the platonic love we shared had somehow warped into more. Maybe it was the closeness we had cultivated whilst watching the woman we both loved dearly die slowly from osteosarcoma, bone cancer. Neither of us had seen it coming, and almost two years later, Edward and I were still struggling to move on. We leaned heavily on one another for support, and though I would be turning twenty after the summer, we still lived together.

We'd moved from the house that they'd bought after getting married to a condo in Newport Beach, near where I was attending Art College in hopes of getting a degree in Illustration and Graphic Design. The pain of losing the one woman who understood me like no other had eased over time. At one point, I could barely bring myself to get out of bed, let alone go to school.

I sniffled, brushing away a few stray tears that had fallen as the loss of my mother topped with the guilt of feeling anything more than platonic love for my stepfather churned in my gut. I wrapped my arms around my stomach in hopes of keeping myself relatively together before wandering aimlessly out of the bathroom and down the hall. I knew sleep was now a fruitless endeavor, and I let my feet carry me into the kitchen, my hands warm and clammy as I poured myself a glass of water.

I gulped it down quickly, my throat parched, before refilling it and drinking the second glass more slowly. I leaned against the counter, my body fatigued as I looked around, the lamppost outside bleeding light through the thin curtain. I felt as though the whole world was still, holding its breath until morning as the silence filled every corner.

I pressed my half-full glass to my face, my overheated skin grateful for the respite, and slowly let myself relax. My eyes closed and I focused solely on the light breaths I inhaled and exhaled.

I would have liked to say that I didn't feel his presence, that the room didn't crackle and hum with electricity as he stood in the doorway, but I would be lying. I didn't need to open my eyes or strain my ears to feel every shift of his muscles, to know his exact location.

Goosebumps rose on my skin and I shivered, my lips parting as I slowly peeled my eyes open to look at him. My gaze didn't need to wander to find him, honing in on him automatically as he leaned against the doorjamb, his boxer briefs tight around his hips and upper thighs. He wore nothing else, his sun-kissed muscled chest with a smattering of hair unwittingly teasing me with what I could never have.

No words were shared between us as our eyes met, his olive green irises soft and sad. I swallowed tightly, dropping my gaze from his, not wanting him to see the guilt and pain in my own. My hands fumbled with the glass as I set it down on the countertop, turning away from him in a futile effort to regain some semblance of composure. His bare feet were silent on the tiled floor as he came up behind me. I could feel the heat of his skin radiating behind me, and I tensed as his large calloused hand brushed my hair off my shoulder whilst the other clasped loosely around my hip.

I was suddenly aware of just how little I was wearing, my tank top and boyshorts seeming almost indecent as he coaxed my body around to face him.

I didn't fight him.

I never had and I doubted that I would ever be able to. I turned around, lifting my face as he cupped my chin, his expression tender and understanding as he pulled me tight against his body. My soft, supple curves met his hard, defined muscles, and I inhaled the ripe scent of spice and man.

His hand moved from my chin to my cheek, holding it lightly as his thumb stroked it before drifting down and around until his hand was grasping my neck. He pressed my face into his chest, holding me close to his body as a sob welled up inside me. He rocked me back and forth as the dam broke, and I collapsed against his chest, sobbing heavily.

"Shhh," he soothed.

"It hurts," I rasped.

"I know, honey bee, I know."

He stroked my hair, running his fingers through it just like my mother used to do as I let all the emotions bottled up inside break free. I almost didn't notice we were moving as he guided me carefully out of the kitchen, his hands never loosening their hold. He pulled me onto him as he sank down on the couch, and I didn't hesitate to curl up on his lap, my face buried in his shoulder as I cried.

All the pent-up emotion, the pain and frustration that clawed at my stomach, released as he rocked me, murmuring in my ear soothingly. My breath stuttered as I felt his hand dip beneath the back of my tank top, his large hand splayed across my bare skin as he rubbed circles into it. It was both heaven and hell, the feel of his strong arms wrapped around me, his warm breath fanning across my cheek, and his long fingers stroking the bare skin of my back. He was so close—in every way—yet not as close as every cell and molecule in my body longed for.

I slowly calmed down, hiccupping slightly as I wiped my snotty nose on the back of my hand, pulling back to look at him.

Our eyes connected, the electric charge causing me to shiver. His expression was unreadable as he brushed a few stray hairs out of my face, his fingers lingering on my skin for a moment before he drew them back. Flickers of emotions passed through his eyes, each one gone quicker than the last, but something deep inside me identified with them, even if I didn't quite understand them.

My lips parted slightly, and the pace of my heart quickened, practically tripping over itself as his face drew close to mine. I didn't dare to hope or believe. I just closed my eyes, reveling in his affection as his soft, pouty lips brushed my right cheek, kissing away the tears there before repeating the action on the other side.

His breath was warm against my face, and I found myself clinging more tightly, a whimper fighting to break free as he moved away.

"We should go to bed," he murmured softly. He shifted, attempting to stand, but I refused to relinquish my hold on him. The last thing I wanted right now was to be alone, and I buried my face back in his shoulder, stubbornly refusing to let go. Admitting defeat, he simply hefted me up in his arms as he got to his feet, and I naturally reacted by wrapping my legs around his waist.

He walked steadily through the condo, heading toward our bedrooms. I dreaded our impending separation as he stopped outside my room, hesitating slightly.

"I don't think either of us want to be alone right now," he stated, his words hanging heavily in the air. My only response was to tighten my grip, but he seemed to understand my unspoken agreement to his words. He sighed, shifting one hand to grasp the back of my thigh, the tips of his fingers centimeters from my ass as he continued forward to his room.
His room was dark as he entered, closing the door behind with his foot before heading toward the bed.

"Are you going to detach yourself from me anytime soon?" he asked, a hint of humor in his tone. I was reluctant as I uncurled my tight grip, slipping slowly down his body. I pressed my hands against his pecs under the guise of support, and I bit down on my bottom lip as the hand that had previously been on the back of my thighs coasted partially over my ass before he removed it completely.

Once I had released him, we both climbed up into his bed. His scent permeated the sheets, and I found myself intoxicated by it, barely restraining myself from rolling in the sheets and sniffing his pillow.

We didn't talk for a while as we lay side by side, the gap between us a chasm to my over sensitive hormones. Our time together generally ended with some kind of silence, it was never uncomfortable or awkward. We found peace in the quiet, both of us lost in thought about something or other.

I wet my lips, trying to gear myself up as I opened my mouth, the question stuck in my throat. I rolled over on my side to look at him, his features bathed in darkness as he lay on his back, his head resting on his arms. It was clear that neither of us had any intention of sleeping as of right now, and I pushed myself to speak.

"Do...do you think you'll ever get married again?" I asked softly. He didn't answer at first, mulling it over carefully before propping himself up on his elbow, turning to face me.

"Are you sure you want to talk about this now?' he asked, giving me an out to what would be a painful conversation. No matter which way I looked at it, it would hurt, but I had been stuck in a rut of unrequited love for so long, and I was tired of pining after the unattainable. I needed to break the hold he had on me, one way or another. There was a big chance that I wouldn't react well to his answer, maybe even feel betrayed by it, but it had been two years, and slowly but surely we were moving on from my mother's death.

"Yes," I whispered.

He let out a long sigh before slumping onto his back, dry washing his face.

"I'm not sure how to answer your question," he admitted. "The very thought of dating scares me. It's been close to ten years since I had to, and your mother snatched me up when I was pretty young. But to answer your original question: No, I don't see myself ever getting married again."

I wasn't sure what I was supposed to feel after his admittance. Part of me wanted to feel relief, but another part felt...sad. Maybe he would never find happiness with me, but that didn't mean that I wanted him to be alone for the rest of his life.

"Plus," he added, bringing me out of my thoughts. "I have my hands full with you." He chuckled as I gasped in mock hurt, slapping his chest playfully.

"Hold your tongue, old man. You should be happy that I grace you with my presence," I told him, grinning.

He guffawed. "Alright, princess, whatever you say," he said wryly.

"Damn right, and don't you forget it," I replied.

He reached over, grasping me by the waist and pulling me against his body as he kissed the side of my head. "I love you, honey bee," he murmured, my nickname on his lips making butterflies flutter in my stomach.

"This is where you tell me you love me back," he deadpanned after a few moments of silence.

I snorted. "Eh, you're all right."

I squealed as his fingers dug into my side, tickling me. I kicked my legs out as his other hand joined in, laughing and squirming.

"Uncle!" I shrieked, trying to bat his hands away.

"Say it and I will," he crowed.

"I love you!" I squealed, panting as he let go of me.

"You make a very good impression of a pig when you're tickled," he commented, and I elbowed him hard in the ribs. He grunted but took it like a champ. The change in mood made the pit in my stomach seem not so hollow, and I relaxed fully.

It didn't take long for me to start nodding off, emotionally spent and exhausted. I flopped onto my stomach, hugging a pillow to my chest as I slowly succumbed to sleep.

I hadn't expected to have another dream after the one I'd had earlier, especially a memory. Being transported back to the hospice my mom had stayed in at the end left me slightly discombobulated, but I guessed talking about my mother brought it all back to the forefront of my mind. 

Upon waking, I couldn't be sure of all the intricate details of it, only the words she had said on her deathbed ringing in my ears.

"Take care of him for me," she'd rasped, talking about Edward. "He's going to need you more than ever."

At the time I had cried and shaken my head in denial, unwilling to believe that she was slipping away, but she had continued.

"Just be what he needs you to be, in whatever capacity. I want you both to be happy. Don't stop living because I'm gone. Promise me."

I had given her my word, and as I slowly returned to consciousness, the light spilling in through the curtains waking me, I wondered at the depths of her words.

I want you both to be happy.

Did those words apply to my situation? I doubted her words had been a consent to go after her widowed husband, but I couldn't help think that I either needed to confront my attraction or move on. The limbo that I was in was making me miserable, and it wasn't fair to myself to be wasting my life being like that.

My eyes blinked open slowly, my vision blurring before slowly regaining focus. My fingers and toes curled as I shifted, flexing my muscles slightly. My face rubbed against the coarse hair on Edward's chest, which I had made my pillow. Upon further inspection I found that it wasn't just that I was using as a pillow. I had one leg thrown between his and half my body resting on top of his.

I yawned, turning my face further into his chest as he stirred beneath me, and I made a weak attempt to extract myself from him. It wasn't until he groaned, shifting his hips that I realized that in my attempt to get off him, I was rubbing my thigh over his crotch. I could feel his body reacting under me, and I sucked in a harsh breath as my heart took off. I swallowed down the lust that immediately churned in my gut and rolled off him.

The damage had already been done though, and I watched in fascination as his semi-erect cock strained against the cloth of his boxers. My eyes traced the length of it, my fingers itching to touch it as it lay against his thigh.

My own body reacted to the awakening of his; my lower body squirmed against the mattress as my fingers dipped beneath the neckline of tank top to rub the taut tips of my nipples.

His cock continued to grow, getting fatter and longer as the head curved upward until it was pushing at the waistband of his boxers. I could see the outline of it clearly, and while his girth and length were not huge like you read in fiction and saw in porn, it was nothing to sniff at.

When she had given me "the talk," my mom had been clear about what I was to expect when I was ready to be with a man. As a nurse, she made sure to fill me with every aspect of sex—the good and the bad. Size wasn't as big a deal as books and everyone tried to make out. It was the "motion in the ocean" not the size of the boat that brought you pleasure. Just because someone had a large cock, it didn't mean you automatically would have more pleasure than with a smaller cock. It all boiled down to how a man used it, and to make sure you had an attentive and giving lover.

I knew from accidentally overhearing my mom and Edward a few times that he was just that, and my mom hadn't been shy about sharing some of their adventures in the bedroom. At the time, I had been a little grossed out, but overall happy. Now, I was unsure how to feel about that knowledge.

I was brought out of my thoughts as Edward stirred again, slowly starting to wake up. I quickly withdrew my hands from my tank top, stilling my lower body as I closed my eyes, pretending to be asleep. I didn't want him to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. It was a natural reaction to morning, and—unbeknownst to him—I'd had my hand in its early rise.

I peeked at him through small slits, all the breath in my body evaporating as I watched his hand travel down his chest to his crotch. I could swear my mind was singularly focused on his hand, my ability to breathe and think diminishing to nothing as he brushed his hand over the length of his cock, dipping down to scratch his balls lightly. His hips shifted at the contact, but he didn't linger, sighing and moving his hand to rub over his eyes.

His eyes darted over to me, his expression indescribable as he stared at me for a long moment, trying to tell if I was awake or not. He turned his face away after a minute, rolling over to the edge of the bed, leaving me to believe that I had successfully feigned sleep. He threw his legs over the side, propelling himself to his feet. He stretched, the muscles of his back rippling as he lifted his hands over his head, a yawn escaping him. I had given up on being stealthy at this point, my eyes roving his body hungrily.

Thinking that I was still asleep, he had no qualms reaching into his boxers to shift his erection. My vantage point wasn't great, but the way he was standing, his body turned toward the nightstand, afforded me a partial view of his front.

A rush of heat filled me when the tip of his cock poked out of the top of his boxers as he arranged himself more comfortably. The bulbous head was a blushing red, and I almost whimpered as he cursed, carefully tucking it back into his boxers before wandering toward the bathroom adjacent to his room.

It was only when the door was closed behind him that I felt like I could finally breathe again. I rolled onto my back, my gaze fixed firmly on the ceiling as my mind traveled back to what I had just seen. As always, my mind took me a step further, conjuring up images of how I believed he'd look sans boxers. There was no denying that I was a masochist, each image causing my frustration to mount higher and higher as my arousal spiked.

It didn't matter how much I masturbated, I needed something more firm and tangible between my legs. I wasn't a virgin by any means, and I'd had a few boyfriends—two of whom I'd had sex with—but since my mom's death I had never really gotten back into the swing of dating. Guys did hit on me, casually asking me out, but I knew my heart wasn't in it, so I was forced to turn them down. Until I could get over Edward, I was doomed to be single.

I sighed dispassionately, throwing the sheets off my legs as I sat up. I was pulling my tangled hair back over my shoulders when Edward emerged, his chest glistening with water and a towel wrapped loosely around his hips. I hadn't realized how long I had been lying there thinking, but a quick look at the digital clock on his nightstand told me that it had been at least ten minutes. I couldn't control the way my eyes blatantly checked him out, his happy trail and the 'v' of his hips visible above the towel.
If he noticed, he didn't say anything as he strolled into his closet, giving me a brief view of his towel-clad ass.

"I was thinking," he called out as my ears strained for the plop of the towel falling, leaving him naked. "It's such a nice day, and it would be such a waste to spend it inside. So, if you don't have any plans, maybe we could head down to the beach today?"

I mulled over his suggestion, weighing the pros and cons before agreeing. "That sounds great. We should head out as soon as possible if we want to get a good spot. Maybe we can get some breakfast on the way?" I suggested, getting excited.

You would have thought that living so close to the beach would cause its allure to diminish, but I loved the ocean and I doubted I would ever get tired of it. With all the emotional whiplash from last night still heavy on my shoulders, a day of doing nothing but swimming and sunbathing sounded like heaven.

"Great," he answered as he walked out of the closet wearing black board shorts with surf terms scrawled in light grey standing stark against the dark backdrop. The t-shirt he'd paired it with was red and hugged his chest and biceps tightly. "Half an hour enough time for you to be ready to go?"

I nodded, finally pulling myself away from the comfort of his bed. I stretched my muscles, somewhat aware of Edward's gaze on me from the peripheral of my vision. I was internally thrilled when his eyes lingered for longer than necessary before he forced his eyes away, clearing his throat as he attempted to regain his composure. I sauntered past him, an extra sway in my hips. I didn't need to see him to feel heat of his gaze on my ass where my boyshorts had ridden up.

This wasn't the first time I'd caught him looking at me in what could be considered a more than platonic way, but I also knew that whatever he felt, good or bad, he would never act on it.

There was a constant push and pull between us, the edge of the knife that we were both teetering on becoming unstable as time passed. Neither one of us dared to make a move toward something more, the fear of the repercussions too great to risk on what could potentially end in disaster.
I hurried to get ready, taking a quick shower before pulling on a black with white polka dots string bikini that showed off my curves and honestly didn't leave too much to the imagination. I chose a pair of mini jean shorts with rips, holes, and frayed edges, and a thin, loose white tank top that I knotted above my stomach, leaving my midriff and navel piercing exposed.

Once I deemed myself presentable, I grabbed a large beach bag, filling it with towels, sunscreen, snacks, and anything else that we would need. I would have let Edward pack it, but he was terrible at remembering what to bring.

Once it was packed and stored in the back of the SUV, along with Edward's surfboard, some blankets, and an umbrella, I went to fetch Edward. It didn't take a genius to figure out where he had gone, his routine almost as familiar to me as my own. He was in his greenhouse in the backyard, carefully showering one of his plants in the small sink at the back.

"What are you doing?" I asked as his fingers danced over the petals lightly, caressing them as he lightly sprinkled the water on them.

He glanced over at me, smiling and beckoning me closer with his head. 

"I'm cleaning my begonia. It's one of the few plants I keep in the house and the dust suffocates it. It doesn't need much watering or care, but once I week I'll clean away the dust and water it heavily," he explained.

He picked up the dripping plant, the water cascading from the bottom as he placed it back in its pot. The time and care he gave his plants was awe-inspiring, and while I knew that as a landscape architect he loved nature in general, it still softened me to see him in his little world.

He grabbed a small towel, drying his hands on it. "We good to go?" he asked.

I nodded. "Yep. Everything's in the car. Do you want me to drive?"

He shook his head. "Nah, maybe on the way back."

As soon as I was situated in the passenger seat, I kicked off my flip-flops and propped my feet up on the dashboard whilst I went through the playlists on my iPod, picking one with a lot of indie and alternative rock. I plugged it into the dock, smiling as the music filtered through the speakers.

I leaned back in my chair, fastening my seatbelt, ready for the day to begin. We headed for Laguna Beach, stopping by McDonald's on the way to pick up breakfast. The beach was only a half hour drive from where we lived, and though there were closer beaches, Laguna Beach was my favorite beach in Orange County.

There was so much to do there, with the many art galleries and one-of-a-kind shops close by the beach. It was also home to my favorite sushi restaurant, Fusion Sushi.

We headed toward Main Beach, thankful that we had made it early enough that there weren't too many people milling around. We parked and set up, laying out our towels and putting up the umbrella to give us a little bit of shade.

I didn't immediately head for the water, letting the sun warm me up first. 

I lay on my stomach, taking out my newest read, A Song Of Fire and Ice.
Any other day and I would have read it on my Kindle, but today, I wanted to turn the pages and inhale the musty scent that books always gave off.
I didn't get very far before I was distracted by Edward pulling his shirt off and applying sunscreen. He seemed oblivious to the stares he was getting, and not just from me, as he rubbed it into his skin.

"Do me?" I requested once he'd finished, smirking inwardly at my double entendre. He seemed startled, a myriad of emotions flashing in his eyes at my words.

His expression was uncertain as he let one side of his mouth curl up in a small smile. "Uh, sure."

I nonchalantly reached back, untying the back of my bikini so that it fell open at my sides before folding my arms in front of me and resting my head on them. I wasn't sure where this teasing that I was initiating came from, but I knew I was pushing the precarious balance between us.

He hesitated, warring with himself before kneeling beside me. My heart quickened as I felt the coolness of the sunscreen pool on my back and I sucked in a harsh breath as his large, calloused hands descended on my back.

His touch started off tentative, unsure, but once he saw that I was relaxed, he started to massage it in more firmly. I hummed at the feel of him rubbing the sunscreen onto my shoulders and the back of my neck. As his touch drifted down to my sides, I had to control my actions so as not to react when the edges of his pinkies brushed lightly against the edge of my breasts.

He paused, but once he saw that I wasn't reacting, and therefore in his mind hadn't noticed, he went back to his task. He grazed my breasts a few more times, lingering in that particular area longer than necessary before he shifted his hands further down. I reveled in his touch, but as always, it was too brief to be fully satisfying.

I wasn't surprised when he made a quick escape as soon as he was done, using surfing as an excuse as he left. I'd clearly pushed him; I just hoped I hadn't pushed him too far. I didn't have a set plan in my mind; I was working based on my instincts and hoping for the best. I refocused my attention on my book after retying the back of my bikini top, letting myself be immersed in an alternative universe.

After a while, I joined Edward in the water, the water a cool respite from the heat as I watched him, along with the other surfers, ride the waves. I swam for a bit, working up an appetite before heading back to where our stuff was.

I was conscious of some of the looks I was getting in my bikini, and while I personally didn't find anything too special about myself, I'd been told that I was quite pretty. I guess in a girl-next-door kind of way I was, with my thick dark hair and big brown eyes. I kept myself in good shape thanks to the small gym we had at the condo, where I practiced kickboxing, and when I got the time, I went jogging.

My steps faltered when I saw a woman hanging around Edward, who was leaning back on his elbows, a book in his lap and a mildly uncomfortable expression on his face. She was obviously flirting with him, and Edward—being the gentleman that he was—was too polite to outright tell her he wasn't interested.

The relief that filled his eyes when I sauntered over confirmed my suspicions, and instead of going to my towel, I plopped down on Edward's lap.

"Hey, babe," I cooed, running a hand languidly through the soft tresses of his hair. I ignored the look of surprise on his face as I turned my attention to the woman, pretending that I had only just noticed her.

"Hi," I said, a fake smile plastered on my face. "Can I help you?"

She seemed startled and embarrassed by my appearance, and I made sure to stake my claim on Edward by giving him a kiss on the cheek. I wasn't sure how he was going to react to my obvious display of affection, and dare I say possessiveness, but he took it in stride, wrapping an arm loosely around my waist, so my back was flush to the hard muscles of his chest.

"I was just..." she mumbled, flustered. Her eyes darted to the way Edward held me, the familiarity between us undeniable.

I quirked an eyebrow, unimpressed, and cocked my head to the side. 

"Well, I doubt you're going to get what you came for," I stated. "Now, run along." I made a shooing gesture, and she seemed to get the hint, scuttling away.

Edward's chest rumbled with a chuckle as soon as she was out of earshot, and it didn't take long for me to join in. "You're cute when you're jealous," he commented as I snuggled further in his lap, making no move to get off him.

"I wasn't jealous," I huffed, denying his accusation even though I knew he was right. It wasn't as though he had admonished my behavior. In fact, if anything, he had encouraged it, but I still felt a little defensive. Maybe it was because my motives had not been pure, and that the flare of jealousy slowly settling in my stomach had less to do with the fact that someone was hitting on my mother's widowed husband, and more to do with the fact that I saw him as my own.

I crawled off his lap with a sigh, not wanting to overstay my welcome. I glanced over my shoulder at him as I popped open the lid of the cooler, curious about the small smirk playing on his lips.

"What?" I asked.

He shrugged me off, the corners of his eyes and mouth crinkling as his grin widened.

"Nuh uh, you don't get to look all smug and shit and refuse to tell me about it," I countered, and he turned to look at me, his eyes sparkling.

"I just...I guess it's just nice to know that women still find me...you know...attractive," he admitted. I stared at him blankly, his words not quite registering.

"Why wouldn't they?" I asked, a tad bit baffled. Edward was handsome, not in the obvious, model-type way, but in a refined, mature way.

He had short, dark hair that curled and stuck up in messy waves, unruly, yet somehow styled. He had a strong jaw, defined beneath the light trail of stubble. His olive green eyes drew you in and put you at ease, but it was more the way he held himself that made him appealing. There was a confidence and authority that surrounded him that demanded respect, and it was given to him freely.

He shrugged again. "I don't know. I just don't look the way I used to. I'm practically forty now, and I guess I just figured that women wouldn't have that much interest in me," he admitted.

To say I was shocked was an understatement. I had seen Edward vulnerable, but never insecure, especially about his looks.

"Well, I would date you," I said boldly, turning to grab two beers from the cooler. Edward cocked his brow at me as I expertly cracked them open, handing him one whilst taking the other for myself.

"You know, the last time I checked, you were still underage," he commented as I took a swig.

I grinned at him, batting my eyelashes as I ran my tongue around the rim of the bottle suggestively. "I won't tell if you don't," I whispered huskily, baiting him easily. His eyes were transfixed to the movement of my tongue as it retreated back into my mouth. He blinked a few times, clearing his throat before shifting his attention to his own beer.

I watched with the same fascination that Edward had granted me as he tipped his head back, his lips pursing and his Adam's apple bobbing as he drank. There was a light sheen of sweat on his skin from the heat, and it glistened, making his sun-kissed muscles look darker.

"I've gotta ask," he said once he had swallowed, his expression thoughtful. "I'm not trying to be nosy, and maybe it isn't any of my business—your mother was always the one you confided in—but you haven't brought anyone around the house since she passed. Are you seeing anyone?"

I shrugged, trying to hide my surprise at his errant question. "I don't have much free time outside of school," I said, hoping that he would leave it at that. I had hoped that he hadn't noticed the absence of any male company that I kept, but I guessed it was more obvious than I thought. I had dated a lot throughout high school, but in the last two years, I hadn't put in the effort, knowing that there was no way for any man to capture my heart when it belonged to the man I was currently with.

"What about at school? You're a beautiful girl. I'm sure you've got guys hounding you for dates," he pressed.

I snorted, taking a sip of my beer before answering. "The guys at my school are either sensitive artists or arrogant jerks. The few that aren't are either taken or not my type."

I couldn't quite decipher his expression, but something told me that he didn't quite believe me. It could have been the fact that my attention had been fixed on my beer bottle when I answered, but somehow, he knew that there was more to my single status than I was willing to share. He didn't push though, knowing that the subject was uncomfortable for me.

"They don't deserve you anyway," he commented. "You're way too good for them."

The way he spoke, the confidence and finality in his tone made it seem as though his words were a foregone conclusion, and I beamed, feeling my cheeks blush. The insecure little girl that every woman secretly harbored inside of her reared her head, self-consciously making me try and straighten out my appearance. I smoothed my windswept hair, tucking a few stray strands behind my ears.

"Really?" I asked shyly.

He glanced over at me, the smile tugging up on the corner of his lips making his eyes sparkle. "There isn't a doubt in my mind," he replied.
Warmth settled in my stomach, spreading throughout my body to the tips of my fingers and toes. I wasn't that much of an insecure person, but that didn't mean that sometimes I didn't need some reaffirmation and confidence boosts. It was nice to hear how he felt and saw me, and I felt as though I had been placed on a pedestal. I just hoped that I wouldn't disappoint him.

He held my gaze minutely, to make sure I knew just how serious he was. Green locked with brown, and the familiar electricity between us sparked, crackling in the space between us. My pulse spiked, and I swallowed tightly, my throat suddenly feeling dry. A whoosh of air left me as he broke my gaze, his eyes dipping down as I waited for the light-headed feeling to pass.

"You're getting a little red. Have you put some more sun lotion on since you were in the water?" he questioned.

I looked down, noticing that my skin was in fact turning pink. "Fuck, thanks for reminding me," I told him, turning to rummage through the beach back for the sunscreen. It was, of course, buried at the bottom and took me forever to dig up. Once I found it, I crawled over to Edward, sitting between his spread legs before offering it to him. I gave him my best winning smile over my shoulder, pouting and batting my eyelashes at him.


"How exactly did I get the job as your grunt?" he asked, taking the sunscreen from me.

"Because you're a big, muscled man, and I'm a delicate woman that needs constant doting and attention," I deadpanned.

He snorted, his hands less hesitant than the last time as he started massaging the sun lotion into my shoulders. "Of course, how could have I thought any differently, Princess?"

I shrugged. "Beats me. Now, less talking and more rubbing. I'm not paying you to chat," I quipped.

"You're not paying me at all," he pointed out but focused his attention on his hands. I hummed, letting my eyes fall closed as I planned to enjoy every minute of his touch. It almost felt like a massage as his hands skimmed over my collarbone and neck, the pads of his fingers digging lightly into my skin as he rubbed.

His hand flitted over my skin, caressing my arms before he turned his attention to my back. I didn't quite understand why, but there was something intimate about him doing this, and I grappled for control over my hormones as my nipples swelled into tight buds, straining against the material of my bikini.

My breathing had quickened, and a flush descended over my body as he reached the tie in the center of my back, a shudder wracking through my body in response.

I wet my lips, sucking them into my mouth before I spoke, my voice low and husky. "You can undo it if you like."

I would have liked to say that my suggestion was nonchalant, but the breathy quality in my tone belied it. My hands trailed lightly over his thighs, the hairs tickling me as I felt the firm muscles. He paused, obviously hearing the warning bells ringing in his head. The lines in our relationship had always been drawn in pencil, easily shifted back and forth, but I was truly pushing it by asking him that.

My fingers flexed, my nails digging lightly into his skin as I felt the tug of the strings when he pulled the loose. I barely allowed myself to breathe, unwilling to do anything to jeopardize the moment or startle him into the realization of just what he was doing.

The strings fell to my sides, and he continued applying sunscreen as though nothing had happened. The tension rose steadily between us, and I knew that while we both pretended to be oblivious to it, he felt it just as strongly as I did.

I could tell by the way his thighs tensed reflexively and the way he shifted every so often behind me, always careful to keep space between our lower bodies. I may have been able to hide how wet he had made me, but if I was correct, the erection that was growing inches from my butt wasn't as easily concealed.

I moaned as his hands drifted around to my stomach, grazing the jewel in my navel. My navel was very sensitive to touch, and I squirmed in his grip, pushing my ass back against him. I couldn't contain the gasp that escaped at the feel of him hard and thick against me. His hands continued, the guise of applying sunscreen still the force that drove him forward, though it was more of a caress, an excuse to touch my skin, than anything.

His touch ascended up my chest to my ribs, tantalizing and teasing all at once. Since the fabric of my bikini was loose around my breasts, it wasn't hard for him to "innocently" graze the undersides of them.

My head lolled back against his shoulder, my face turning into his neck as my hands curled into tight fists.

"Edward," I murmured, my lips brushing against his skin. He swallowed, the muscles of his neck moving against my mouth as his hands froze. The haze of lust surrounding us started to dissipate as his mind cleared, but before he could try and escape I grasped one of his hands. I slid it up under the bikini until he was cupping my bare breast in his large, warm hand.

"Don't stop," I whispered, completely oblivious to everyone around us. As far as I was concerned, they didn't exist, and I felt Edward release a shaky breath as he shuddered, his body still tense and unmoving.

A low keen escaped me, and I bowed into his hand as his fingers flexed, grasping my breast more firmly. My hand never left his as I coaxed him to rub his palm over my plump flesh. My breasts weren't large—just enough to fit in his palm—but they were round and perky, which as far as I was concerned, more than made up for that.

His fingers were slippery from the lotion and slid easily over the taut bud of my nipple.

"Tell me to stop," he ordered, but it came out more as a plea. His breaths were uneven and choppy as he thumbed my nipple, heightening my arousal and stimulating me as I shook my head, denying his request. I never wanted him to stop, and if I had my way he never would.
"This is wrong," he groaned out.

"If loving you like I do is wrong, then I don't want to be right," I retorted. He broke free, somehow successfully tugging his hand from my grip. His hand fumbled as he tied my bikini back in place, low curses flying from his lips.

"Edward, calm down," I told him, knowing that he was freaking out completely.

"I'm not...this isn't me. I don't prey on young girls like some sort of pervert, especially not my stepdaughter! I loved your mother more than anything, and you, this, makes my love look empty and cheap. Like I used her to get to you, but it was never like that. She's probably rolling in her grave right now. I'm sure the last person she expected me to move on with was her daughter!"

I twisted around in his lap, cupping his face between my hands so that he was looking right at me. I realized that I had mere minutes before everything was dashed to pieces. If I had any hope at salvaging this, then it needed to be now.

"I understand that," I told him softly, knowing that this was fucked up beyond measure. "But she wanted both of us to be happy, and maybe this is fucked up and wrong, but that doesn't change the way I feel."
The conflict raged in his eyes, and he opened his mouth to speak, but in a last ditch effort I crashed my lips to his, cutting off whatever he had intended to say.

He didn't fight or push me away as I savored the feel of his soft, warm lips against my own. It felt almost reverent as we coaxed each other, silently asking for a little more.

His free hand shot to my hip, his nails digging into my flesh as he yanked me forward harshly, his mouth moving tentatively against mine. The kiss was hesitant at first, unsure, but we both fell into it as though we had been doing it for years.

I had dreamed for years what kissing him would be like, and given the time I had spent imagining the fireworks and sparks, the hopeless romantic in me rearing its head, I found it surprising that the moment, while far off from what I had imagined, was perfect.

It didn't matter that we were in public, everyone around us privy to our moment. It didn't matter that I hadn't brushed my teeth since early that morning and that my lips were chapped. All that mattered was that it was he and I, finally together.

I exhaled shakily as he drew back slightly, his lips once again hovering near mine before I used the hand on the back of his neck to draw him back in.

This time, the kiss he granted me was firmer, his mouth wet and soft as he tilted his head, our noses skimming across each other as his lips moved against mine. I pulled myself up tighter against him, returning the kiss with equal fervor. My chest felt as though it had exploded, warmth seeping through every pore of my body as our lips yielded beneath the pressure we were both exerting.

There were no fireworks, sparks, or anything of nature; instead I felt an all-consuming peace wash through me. I felt calm and sated, the years leading up to this moment non-existent as we reluctantly pulled away from each other, our foreheads resting against each other as we tried to catch our breath.

I raised a hand, surprised to find it shaking, and pressed it against my lips, feeling them moist and swollen under my touch as they tingled. My tongue slid over them, tasting the faint traces of his minty, spicy taste, reveling in the events that had just taken place.

My stomach twisted, tightening in want, almost desperate to feel his lips again as a quiet whimper escaped me. He had awakened something deep inside me, and I was eager to delve into it.

"Edward," I whispered, our foreheads still resting against each other. "Kiss me again?" My request was a plea, a cry for satisfaction, and he groaned low in his throat, his dark, turbulent eyes flashing open to meet mine before he captured my lips once again.

The hand not on my hip threaded through my hair, forcing my head back as he crushed our mouths together passionately. I whimpered, now aware of what exactly I had been missing all of these years, yet still unable to regret the wait since my reward was far better than anything I could have conjured up.

I grasped fistfuls of his hair, clinging to him as my lips moved frantically, trying to keep up with his. I couldn't find it in myself to be embarrassed as to how my lower half was starting to react to him, my thighs rubbing together in a bid for friction as a dull throb settled below my pelvis, my kitty becoming slick with arousal.

Years of sexual frustration caused by him bore down on me, and as his tongue swiped along my lower lip, there was nothing I could do but moan wantonly, my lips parting to give him access. His tongue delved into my mouth, twisting and mingling with my own.

My hormones were out of control, the feel of his tongue caressing and slipping against mine almost too much for me to handle. I wanted to slide my tongue over the stubble of his jaw just to see if tasted as good as the rest of him, and I forced myself to stifle the urge to rub up against him like a cat in heat.

"Isabella," he groaned, his mouth practically devouring my own until it felt as though my lungs would explode from lack of oxygen. He hardly referred to me by my full name, knowing that it usually meant that I was in trouble. Today though, instead of filling me with dread, it fueled the fire that had kindled inside of me.

He slowed down the kiss, his tongue retreating as it became chaste. I wanted to protest, to tell him to keep going, but I knew that as much as I would have loved to, we couldn't stay there all day making out like a couple teenagers. If I could have found some kind of way to fuse our lips together permanently, I would have, but I settled for giving him one last lingering kiss before pulling back.

My fingers played with the hair on the nape of his neck, my eyes rising to meet his as my mind swam in a haze, making me feel high. I swallowed tightly, trying to find my voice as I slid my tongue over my suddenly dry lips.

"I love you," I told him before shaking my head. "No, I...I'm in love with you."

He seemed at a loss for words, my declaration along with the kiss taking its time to register in his brain. Though there was noise around us, the silence between us seemed to eclipse it. I waited with bated breath, every nerve in my body on edge.

His brow furrowed as he closed his eyes minutely, collecting his thoughts. He sucked his bottom lip into his mouth, his body still pressed up against me. The hand that had been in my hair traveled down to the side of my neck, cupping it as he stroked his thumb over the hollow of my throat.

The hand on my hip mirrored the other as he collected his thoughts, absently dragging his fingers along my skin. His eyes were lighter than they had been minutes ago as he opened them, staring intently into my own as he released a sigh.

"I honestly don't know what to say," he finally murmured. "This was never meant to happen. I thought that I could fight this, that I was stronger than to give in to this. It kills me, Bella, to know that you feel so strongly for me. I can't help but blame myself for this. I've ruined you. I held on so tight, not wanting to lose you, that I let myself get too close."

I wanted to argue, to tell him that he was so wrong, but his eyes begged for me to stay silent until he was finished.

"I've lost everyone I've loved. My parents, my brother, and my wife. A part of me feels like it's only a matter of time before I lose you too, and that scares me more than you can imagine. I feel more than I should for you, more than I should for someone who's supposed to be my daughter, but I can't control it. God, I've tried to suppress it, I promise you that I have, but after your mother's death you became...everything.

"Your mother used to tell me that the three of us gravitated around each other, that we were always meant to find each other. I never figured that she would leave us, and the pull we share would only intensify. I don't know what we're supposed to do now. Fuck, I don't know what we can do because, feelings aside, we are still related by law."

I shook my head furiously. "You never adopted me after Mom and you got married. Mom was our connection to each other. You could leave today and never come back without any ties to me. From a legal standpoint, you have little power over me or my decisions. I'm an adult, and unless there comes a time when I am incapacitated and unable to make my own decisions, I don't need you, in that sense," I told him.

He opened his mouth to interrupt, but I was quicker, pressing my finger against his lips to silence him.

"We don't need to have all the answers, right now, Edward. I just need to know whether you're willing to give us an honest-to-God chance," I implored before retracting my finger.

He leaned forward until his forehead was resting against mine, his eyes falling closed as he stroked my neck, his fingers exploring the column of it. They danced along my jawline, tickling my skin as my lips parted and my eyelids fluttered shut.

His nose grazed mine, skimming along it as his hot breath washed over my skin, leaving a fiery trail in its wake. "I can't not," he whispered so quietly that without our close proximity I wouldn't have heard him. "I know that if I don't, I'll regret it for the rest of my life."

I felt as though a heavy weight had been lifted from my shoulders as he continued to caress my jaw, my arms wrapping tightly around his body, hugging him to me.

I glanced up at the sky, a small, serene smile on my lips. Somehow, I knew that if my mom could see me from heaven, she wouldn't condemn me for my actions. The world worked in mysterious ways, but it seemed that no matter what, Edward and I had always been fated to be.

Maybe the circumstances weren't ideal, and the situation that forced us this close wasn't a happy one. It had been a long, painful road to get us where we were, but I couldn't let that stop us.

There were a lot of things that we still needed to talk about and figure out. 

The odds were stacked against us, and the future that lay before us was uncertain, but I knew one thing for sure: As long as I had him, I could fight against society and its narrow-minded perceptions. Nothing and no one could stop me from loving him, and as long as he requited my love, we were unbreakable.


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