Chocolate Grinder (No 1)


It was impossible to panic with Edward at my side. We settled into an easy rhythm as we finished preparing the meal. Wearing one of my aprons, he stood next to me at the kitchen counter helping me in any way he was able. We touched as frequently as we could while still being productive. As morning turned into afternoon, my pre-holiday jitters were replaced with a sense of peace I previously would not have thought possible. As much as I was looking forward to seeing my friends, part of me wished I could spend the rest of the day reveling in the quiet contentment I felt in Edward’s company.

Esme arrived first, and Edward went outside to help her unload her car. She came inside holding a wrapped platter, which she immediately handed to me.

“I may have gone overboard with your hostess gift, but I don’t think you’ll mind.” Her voice was brimming with excitement.

“I’m sure whatever you made is perfect. Does it need to be refrigerated?”

“I wasn’t referring to the hors d’oeuvres.”

I looked over her shoulder and saw Edward holding a framed black and white lithograph of three men in commencement robes. Though I was unfamiliar with this particular piece, I would have recognized the style anywhere. It was Grant Wood.

“So, where would you like this?” Edward smiled broadly.

My jaw dropped. “You’re kidding, right?”

Esme shook her head. “No. It was part of Carlisle’s personal collection. I think he would want you to have it.”

Somehow, I understood why.

“Did you know I met Carlisle for the first time at Edward’s graduation? He teased me about my lack of academic regalia. My back was turned to him, and I thought he was a student. I responded to him somewhat condescendingly by implying he was too poorly read to understand that I was paying tribute to Virginia Woolf. I sent him off to read Three Guineas and told him to report back to me.”

“I know. He told me all about it after you and Edward left our house following that disastrous dinner. It stuck out in his mind because he’d never read anything by Virginia Woolf. It was the first time in his adult life someone made a literary reference he didn’t immediately understand. He insisted the Women’s Studies program in which he participated as an undergraduate had nothing whatsoever to do with feminism or literature.”

Edward let out a loud laugh. “That’s so Dad.”

“I know, right?” Esme smiled. “I had to explain to him why academic garb is patriarchal, why some feminists would eschew it, and why despite the fact that you were engaged in an inappropriate relationship with my under age son, I suddenly found myself wanting to dance around a burning house with you.”

I knew what Esme was implying, and it shocked me.

“Were you the first woman in your family to attend college?” I asked.

“The first person, period.” She squeezed my hand. “We’re kindred in more ways than you realize.”

Though I had not intended to accept the lithograph, I now understood why she wanted me to have it. I placed the tray of hors d’oeuvres on the coffee table and hurried off to the kitchen where I retrieved a hammer from under my sink.

“What do you think about hanging it over the piano?” I asked as I reentered the living room.

Edward smiled. “I think that would be perfect.”

Less than an hour passed before my house was filled with my loved ones. David was now walking, and he delighted himself by standing on tiptoes so he could bang on the piano. When he appeared to be tiring out, Edward pulled him onto his lap and played a lullaby. I was amazed by the patience and understated affection he showed David. I stared at them from the dining room in wonder, turning away for only a handful of seconds so I could acknowledge Rose who was now standing beside me with two glasses of wine.

She handed one of them to me. “You’ve never seen them together, have you?”

I shook my head. “It’s interesting. I thought I knew everything there was to know about Edward, yet he continues to surprise me. Seeing him like this puts so many things in perspective.”

“Care to elaborate?”

“I had no idea that Edward was so good with babies. I’m sure there are many more revelations to come, some of which would not be news to you.”

“You’re passive aggressively grilling me for information about your ex-boyfriend.”

“Current boyfriend,” I clarified.

She turned away from the living room and looked at me. “Oh, really?”

I nodded.

“It’s about time.”

I looked at Rose expectantly. “Is my tactic working?”

“No. I’m still not telling you anything that Edward or Emmett told me in confidence.”

“I only have one question, and it will help me put some things in the proper context. You won’t be betraying either of them if you answer based on your own observations.”

“Fine.”

“On a scale of one to ten, how bad off was Edward after we broke up?”

Rose didn’t look at me as she answered. “Eleven.”

I sighed.

“Bella, you really should be having this discussion with Edward.”

“I’ve tried. He says he doesn’t want to dwell on the past and changes the subject.”

“I can understand why he wouldn’t.”

“Why, because I broke him?”

It came out sounding a bit more defensive than I would have liked.

“No, because revisiting dark times can be emotionally trying even under the best circumstances, and he did just lose his father. I wouldn’t dwell on it. He’s obviously forgiven you.”

“After what I put him through, I wonder if that is even possible.” I stared into my wine glass bitterly.

“Have you forgiven your mother for hurting you?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“And you don’t think Edward is equally capable of letting things go? Bella, do you really think he would have taken you back if he were still harboring resentment towards you?”

She had a point.

“I suppose not.”

“Speaking of letting go of the past, when did this long-awaited change in status finally occur?”

I smiled. “Four hours ago.”

Rose’s jaw dropped. “I’m in shock.”

“Really? We’ve been teetering on the cusp of this for months now.”

“Oh, I’m not at all surprised you two are back together. I’m amazed you didn’t cancel dinner so you could spend all day fucking.”

I laughed. “We didn’t have any condoms.”

She looked at me in disbelief. “You actually let that stop you? ”

“Wouldn’t you?”

“No. That’s a problem that can be rectified with a quick trip to Wawa, provided of course that you wanted to have sex in the first place. I’ve only ever used the out of condoms excuse when I was less than enthusiastic about the imminent coupling.”

“My physical desire for Edward has not waned,” I assured her. “Love may have driven our reconciliation, but lust is riding shotgun.”

“What about your sexual frustration?”

“It’s straddling the hump in the back seat.”

“Who is humping in the back seat?” As if on cue, Alice walked into the dining room and refilled her wine glass.

Rose sighed. “Sadly, no one at the moment.”

“Speaking of not getting laid.” I cleared my throat. “Do either of you have any idea how long a dry spell needs to last before a person is revirginized?”

“I think that depends on the amount of experience a person has before becoming celibate,” Rose explained. “For example, I’m fairly sure in my case it would take at least a decade. Alice, however, is such a prude that if Jasper were to spend a long weekend hiking with the guys, I suspect her hymen would grow back within seventy-two hours.”

I choked on my wine.

“That’s not funny.” Alice gave Rose a very stern look. “Have either of you ever had sex after your hymen regenerated after a brief period of vaginal disuse? I assure you, it can be quite painful.”

It took Rose and me a moment to realize Alice was kidding. When we finally did, we giggled uncontrollably.

“You’re just lucky I love you both so much that I don’t care how much you mock me. I know I’m not a prude. I only seem like one because you two are nymphos.” She put one arm around me and the other around Rose. “So, why are we talking about celibacy-induced revirginization?”

Rose pointed to me, and I took a sip of my wine.

Alice’s eyes grew wide with realization. “You mean you and Edward still haven’t done it?”

I shook my head.

“I was so sure after you declared your undying love to him at McGillin’s Friday night you would have gotten some.”

“They only officially got back together this morning,” Rose explained.

“Ah. So how long has it been now since Bella’s gotten banged?”

“Four days shy of eighteen months,” I answered sadly. “That’s a long time. I may have forgotten how to work it.”

Rose smiled. “You’re nervous. It’s cute.”

“It’s pathetic,” I whined.

“No, it’s not. It just means that this time you’re not letting the emotional significance of the act itself escape you…”

Rose stopped speaking when Edward got up from the piano. He walked toward us with a very sleepy David in his arms.

“Should I bring him upstairs?” he asked. “Emmett is setting up his pack n’ play and baby monitor in one of the spare rooms.”

“Thank you, Edward. It was so nice of you to play for him. He adores you.”

“It’s mutual.” Edward smiled down at David and stroked his hair before leaving to carry him upstairs.

When David was finally asleep, I served a pleasant meal to the people I loved. Since everyone but me had to work the following day, only Edward lingered after dessert. Despite the fact he had to be up early the following day, he insisted that he help me clean before he went home. He left me exhausted and contented. Ultimately, the latter won. I fell asleep with a smile on my face.

As sunlight streamed through my bedroom window, I opened my eyes the next day to find Edward next to me with his laptop.

“Good morning,” I said, yawning.

Edward laughed. “Not in this time zone. It’s actually a little after two o’clock in the afternoon.”

I sat up, rubbing my eyes. “How long have you been here?”

“About an hour.” He closed his laptop and set it on the bedside table. “You looked so peaceful. I couldn’t bring myself to wake you.”

He put his arm around me and pulled me into his chest. A Band-Aid on the inside of his elbow pulled my focus.

I straightened his arm to get a better look. “Someone isn’t wasting any time.”

He laughed. “Um, no.”

“I didn’t know you could have blood work done on such short notice.”

“You can have anything done on short notice if you have the right connections.”

Suddenly, I felt incredibly guilty.

I sat up and turned around so I could see his face. “I hope I didn’t make you feel pressured. I know in the past, I haven’t always been patient. I hope you didn’t feel as though you had to rush out and do this.”

He placed his hands on my shoulders. “Let me clarify something. I have never felt pressured to have sex with you. Not then and certainly not now.”

“You said you felt objectified…”

“Oh, at times I did, but for that we’re equally culpable. I was completely aware that you were using physical intimacy to avoid confronting your emotions. Still, I wanted you so badly I went along with it. At no point did I ever insist that we keep our clothes on and just talk. I knew you had unresolved issues from your past, that you felt unlovable. I thought  my love could make you whole, that I could prove to you how worthy you are simply by loving you. I think that was a large part of why our break up destroyed me. It wasn’t just that I’d lost you. I’d also failed you. Until then, I’d never failed at anything.

“I believed you when you told me you were incapable of loving me, and for months I wondered how I could have been stupid enough to believe that you did. As time went on, I looked back on our relationship with some distance and a little clarity. I realized what you said on Thanksgiving contradicted everything you’d communicated to me previously. I knew you lied. I just wasn’t sure if it had been during our relationship or its demise.”

He tucked a piece of my hair behind my ear before trailing his fingertips down my arm. I tried to ignore the ensuing flutter in my pelvis.

“Anyway,” he continued, “I don’t fault you for any of it.”

“You don’t have to,” I said, staring into my lap. “I do enough of that for both of us.”

“Bella, look at me.” He nudged my chin up with his hand. “I forgave you a long time ago. You need to forgive yourself.”

He leaned forward and pressed his lips to mine in a gentle kiss, after which I rested my head on his shoulder.

“I’m not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me. I just want you to understand…” I paused and selected my next words carefully. “I know the Thanksgiving Massacre was entirely my doing, and I know some people would think I deserved to suffer for it. I just want you to know, well, that my actions caused me pain, too. Each and every moment we were apart, I ached for you. I regretted my decision to end our relationship the moment you left. I just didn’t go after you because there was something I wanted more than to have you in my life.”

He stroked my hair as he spoke. “And what was that?”

“To actually deserve my place in yours.”

His fingers brushed my arm, and he kissed the top of my head.

“You do,” he whispered.

For what may as well have been the first time in my life, I exhaled.





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  1. on 24 May 2010 at 7:01 pmMary

    *Sigh*

    Any tidbits of AA5 makes me go all a-flutter. Thanks for this.

    [Reply]


  2. on 24 May 2010 at 11:59 pmColleen

    You know, I just realized that Easter was chapter 46 in Counterpoint, too. It’s funny how after all that, the stories line up again.

    [Reply]


  3. on 01 Oct 2010 at 3:35 pmlisa89

    It’s amazing how you’re capable of ripping my soul apart and making my heart melt, all in the same story. Well, that’s a bit melodramatic, but you know what I mean. :)

    [Reply]


  4. on 25 Nov 2010 at 6:40 pmBooksgalore/Bookishqua

    Loved the ending. :) Books

    [Reply]


  5. on 03 Jan 2011 at 8:41 pmFancastride

    Letting him know how much she ached for him, hopefully she will forgive herself for breaking Edward too.

    [Reply]


  6. on 06 Jan 2011 at 3:54 pmSea4Me

    After all the talks, I think this is the one I’ve been longing for. Simple, & covers some undiscussed areas. Hmm… I’m not talking about the hymen hysteria, either, but that earned an audible laugh. (A rare thing bc I’m nursing baby while I read & make phone typos.)

    [Reply]


  7. on 30 Jan 2011 at 12:00 amJanice

    I hope she will finally be able to forgive herself . . . that will probably be the hardest thing. There are still mistakes that I have made in my life that I cannot forgive myself for and that was over 27 years ago. Maybe I need counseling!!

    [Reply]