Kneeling Angel with Two Putti


Time was a tireless enemy. Whether I was prepared or not, it marched onward decimating me in its wake. I arrived at work the day after Carlisle’s funeral with a physical exhaustion punctuated with a burn behind my eyes no amount of coffee could assuage. As I stopped by the main office on my way to my classroom, I found myself wishing I’d taken a second personal day.

“Rough night?”

I turned to see another teacher standing beside me.

I shrugged. “Not compared to other people, I guess.”

“I saw you at Dr. Cullen’s viewing two nights ago, but I didn’t get a chance to talk to you. I just stopped by briefly to pay my respects to Edward, poor kid. Losing a parent that young is terrible, but he and his father were so close. I didn’t realize you’d ever had Edward in class. Didn’t he skip ninth grade?”

“He did, and I didn’t. Edward and I are close friends.”

She looked at me as if she wanted me to elaborate. Instead, I changed the subject.

“Did you have Edward in class?”

“Yes, for AP English his senior year. He was a joy to teach.”

“I can imagine. If you’ll excuse me, I have some things to take care of before homeroom.”

I knew the only way I could retain my composure decently enough to teach that day would be if I didn’t think about Edward, and discussing him with my coworkers would not aid my effort. Thankfully, it was Friday, and once the school day was over, I could rejoin Edward at his parents’ house.

His parents’ house.

I sighed. Now it was just Esme’s. I blinked back tears at the thought that Edward would never again come home to find his father waiting for him. I told myself to buck up. If Edward could eulogize his own father without losing his composure, surely I could get through my work day.

Seven hours later, I pulled into Esme’s driveway. Spending the evening with her terrified me. Never in a million years had I thought my first encounter with Esme since reconciling with Edward would be under circumstances such as these. I would wallow in self-pity if the situation weren’t entirely of my own making. Had I not let my fears get the better of me the Thanksgiving before last, I wouldn’t have to spend the rest of my life wondering if Carlisle entered eternity hating me. I turned off the engine of my car and closed my eyes. I silently promised Carlisle that although I was fairly certain I could never make up for the pain I’d caused Edward, I would spend the rest of my life trying.

Edward came out to meet me, and just as I stepped out of my car, pulled me into his arms.

“Are you hanging in there?” I asked with my face against his chest.

“What choice do I have? Thanks for coming. It means a great deal to me…to both of us.”

Holding my hand, he led me through the back door. Somehow despite everything, Esme seemed genuinely happy to see me.

“I sent my sister home early,” she explained. “I felt as if her presence was just prolonging the inevitable. There’s comfort in routine. I just need to get back into mine and get accustomed to my new reality.”

” I am so incredibly sorry.”

“I know, Bella. Thank you.”

“If there’s anything I can do…”

“Edward seems determined to look out for me. Could you look out for him?”

I nodded.

“Good. He’s being strong for me, but I know he’s in a great deal of pain…”

I spent the afternoon with Edward and Esme. Because Mrs. Cope had worked more than twice her usual hours in the days leading up to the funeral, Edward sent her home. Grateful to be any help that I could, I cooked dinner and screened phone calls that came in for Esme on the land line. After Esme went to bed on Friday evening, I grabbed my purse and told Edward I’d be back first thing in the morning.

“You aren’t staying?” He looked crushed.

“I will if you want me. I didn’t want to presume.”

“I want you.”

“Then I’ll stay. I should still run home and take care of a few things,” I explained.

“Would you mind if I went with you? Taking a quick drive to clear my head is appealing.”

“Okay.”

We went out the back door and walked toward the Volvo. It was unusually warm for April. The night air, balmy against my face, was such a contrast to the stagnant grief inside the house. I closed my eyes and reveled in it, though I immediately felt guilty for doing so. When I opened my eyes, Edward was standing next to the open driver’s side door. He gestured for me to get inside and handed me the keys.

“I’m just along for the ride.”

I hesitantly took the keys from him. “You do realize…”

“I know.” He walked over the passenger side and sat down. “In all the time we’ve known each other, I’ve never let you drive. If you’d ever decided to call me on it, I would have told you it was because your car was too unreliable. In actuality, I was being chauvinistic. I also very stupidly thought that you’d only see me as a man if I were the one driving.”

“What changed since then?” I put my hand on the gear shift, and Edward covered it with his.

His eyes bore into mine as he spoke.

“Everything.”

“I promise I’ll be gentle,” I whispered.

His lips formed a small smile. He knew that I wasn’t talking about his car.

Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at my house. I grabbed the mail and ran upstairs to throw a bag together.

“Did you just paint downstairs, or did you do work on the second floor as well?” Edward asked from the foot of the steps.

“That’s right. Until this week, you hadn’t been here in over a year. I’ve done work on all three floors, though the third floor isn’t furnished yet,” I answered as I threw my overnight bag onto my bed. “Jazz and Emmett actually did most of the intense labor for me. I’m so grateful to them. I could never have afforded contractors. They refinished the floors and skim coated the walls while Alice and I painted. You’ve never been on the third floor.” I poked my head out of my bedroom and gestured him up the steps. “You should go take a look.”

He climbed the steps and waited before ascending to the third floor.

“You can go up there by yourself. It’s not like I’m hiding anything. I’ll be done in a minute.”

As Edward walked up to the third floor, I started to change out of my work clothes. I figured I could probably squeak another wear out of my dress if I hung it up now. If I crumbled it up into my overnight bag, it would definitely need to go to the cleaners. I kicked the door mostly shut and stepped out of my dress. I’d hung it in the closet and removed my bra before I heard Edward’s voice.

“I had no idea you had two additional rooms up there.” He poked his head in through the crack of the door and saw me standing there in my panties. I instinctively crossed my arms in front of my chest, waiting for him to step back into the hallway and close the door. He just continued to stare at me, making no move to leave my bedroom.

“Do you mind?” I asked finally.

“Not at all. Though it would be better for me if you dropped your arms to your side and did a little turn.” He laughed and rotated his index finger.

I rolled my eyes at him. “I’ll meet you downstairs, Edward.”

He sighed and retreated to my living room. As I pulled on my sweats, I replayed the way he looked at me when I was topless. There was something different about it which I couldn’t quite identify. There was obvious lust in his eyes, though current celibacy notwithstanding, that was nothing new. I continued to ponder this, even after I zipped up my overnight bag and ran down the steps.

“I’m good,” I said as I picked up my keys from on top of the piano bench.

“Oh, you were better than good.”

“Get your mind out of the gutter. So, would like me to drive again?”

“If you’d like.”

We were halfway to his house when I spoke again. “Do you remember when we were at the bris…” I began.

He nodded.

“When you left, you let Angela drive your car.”

“I was very upset after seeing you, and she didn’t think it would be wise for me to drive in that state. That’s the reason she was there in the first place” to provide me with emotional support if I needed it.”

“So, you’ve never been involved?”

“No,” he confirmed. “She and her boyfriend from home are still very devoted to each other.”

“Then how…” I stopped. I didn’t want to admit that I’d eavesdropped on the two of them.

“Go on.”

“I’d like to preface this by saying that I fully appreciate whatever you do sexually is none of my concern.” I looked over at him to gauge his reaction.

He was smiling. “This should be good. Please continue.”

I sighed. “I’m just curious as to what the two of you were doing in the powder room together?”

“Oh, that. We’d been standing in the hallway when you arrived. I wasn’t mentally prepared to see you yet, so I ran into the powder room and pulled Angela with me.”

“How does she know what your penis looks like?” I asked.

“What?”

“Okay, so I was listening in on your conversation. I’m not proud of this. Anyway, Angela made reference to the fact you’re circumcised…”

“Right. Well, I am.”

“How did she know that if you’ve never been more than friends?”

I don’t think I’d ever heard Edward laugh so hard. “There’s a story there, but it’s not at all what you think. One night freshman year, Mike was being…well, Mike. He took pictures of his cock with my cell phone and sent them to all of the girls whose numbers he knew that lived in our residential college. Anyway, some were amused, some were appalled, and all of them thought it was a picture of me. Unable to live it down, I may have…er…whipped it out one night at a party to provide visible proof that the cock in question was not, in fact, mine. As you know, I am circumcised. Mike is not. Poor Angela was in the room for all this. You know, I should be annoyed that you felt territorial during a period in our relationship when you had absolutely no right to, but at the moment, I’m just too grateful to be laughing again. I thought I never would…”

It didn’t bother me that his laughter came at my expense. I was too thankful to see him happy again.

When we arrived back at Edward’s house, he carried my bag up the back steps to his room for me. I didn’t follow him, instead standing in the hallway hesitantly.

“Just direct me to a guest room,” I said finally.

“Oh.” He looked incredibly disappointed. “I was kind of hoping you’d sleep in my room with me. I promise, I’ll be a gentlemen. I’d just like to hold you, unless of course you mind…”

“I don’t mind,” I interrupted. I followed him into his bedroom and kicked off my shoes. I went to the bathroom and changed into shorts and a tank top. When I returned to his room, he was waiting for me in bed wearing a t-shirt and pajama pants. I climbed into bed next to him and settled myself into his embrace.

“I want you to know that this isn’t about the comfort of female company as much as it is about the comfort of your company.”

“I know, Edward.”

“Do you?” He cupped my face in his hands and turned me to look at him.

I nodded. “Of course, it doesn’t hurt that you also managed to see my tits today.”

He laughed. “I would say that I’m sorry I walked in on you, but I’m not.”

He closed his eyes, and I rested my head against his chest. Moments later he was asleep. As I stared at him in the dark, I finally realized what was different about his face when he’d walked in on me changing.

Edward hadn’t blushed.





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  1. on 29 Aug 2010 at 3:16 pmizziey

    interesting progression of their relationship.

    [Reply]


  2. on 01 Oct 2010 at 2:45 pmlisa89

    “Edward hadn’t blushed.” You and this story are amazing.

    [Reply]


  3. on 12 Nov 2010 at 11:27 pmkng1986

    Edward is still in love with Bella’s boobies.

    [Reply]


  4. on 13 Nov 2010 at 3:50 pmKellye

    aww Edward’s growing up! *tear*

    [Reply]


  5. on 25 Nov 2010 at 5:28 pmBooksgalore/Bookishqua

    Oh good point about the blushing. I’m glad they haven’t hopped into bed metaphorically speaking. Bella still needs to learn about trust. Him, too.

    [Reply]


  6. on 30 Dec 2010 at 4:51 pmFancastride

    They have gotten so close.

    [Reply]


  7. on 06 Jan 2011 at 1:11 amSea4Me

    Ohhhhhh-no blushes!

    His innocence truly is gone, isn’t it. :(

    [Reply]


  8. on 29 Jan 2011 at 10:20 pmJanice

    Edward is growing up

    [Reply]