Quartet


Over the years, I’d heard the story more times than I could count. My parents met after my dad accidentally knocked my mother into a cadaver, at which point she became enraged. He asked her out on a date; she told him to go fuck himself, words which caused him to fall in love with her instantly. My mother thought he was a complete tool and therefore had no interest in him whatsoever. It took several months for her feelings to change, but eventually she did fall in love with him. I knew the timeline, the events, even where he took her on their first date. What I didn’t know was what precipitated the change, and how she realized her feelings were different. It was arguably the most important detail of their love story, and I’d never thought to ask.

I didn’t know why it took me so long to make the connection. If my mother fell in love with my father in time, there was no reason to believe I wouldn’t eventually fall in love with Kate. If my mom’s feelings for my father changed, there was no reason to believe my feelings for Kate wouldn’t as well. They might have been already, and I just didn’t realize it because I had no idea what process was involved. Needing to know what to look for, I decided to call my mother.

“Edward?” she answered. “Is everything okay?”

“Everything’s fine. Why wouldn’t it be?”

If my feigned emotional stability failed to fool her, she kept this to herself.

“You don’t usually call in the afternoon.”

“Oh, yeah. I guess I don’t. But I actually have the room to myself and I wanted to ask you something.”

“You can ask me anything; you know that.”

“It’s about Dad. Did you really hate him when you first met?”

“Hate is a strong word, but I wouldn’t be lying if I said I disliked him intensely.”

“What changed your mind? Was there a moment when you knew your feelings had ventured out of friendship territory?”

“Whoa.” She let out a small laugh. “This is random.”

“Not really.”

“Oh, I think I know why you’re asking.” She paused, evidently thinking about her answer. “My feelings for your father evolved. At first I was indifferent, then I disliked him. Then I thought he’d probably make a good fu—uh—friend. We were friends for a while before I even began to consider him that way.”

“Would you have thought in the beginning things would go the way they did?”

“No.”

“How did that happen? Did you just look at him one day and realize things were different?”

“Pretty much. Romantics perpetuate the idea that love is static—constant. I think that’s an idealistic view of it. Love is a human emotion, and people change. It’s only natural that our feelings change with us.”

“You don’t think love is forever?”

“For love to last forever, I think it has to be able to change form. The love I had for your father twenty years ago was nothing like the love I have for him now. At the time, I thought I couldn’t love him more, and back then it was probably true. Life puts things in perspective; love and relationships are no different. I loved your father on our wedding day and wanted him in my life. Now he is my life—almost an extension of myself.”

“This from the person who is always telling me what a bad idea it is to lose yourself in your significant other?”

“That’s just it. It’s not an I-need-to-be-with-him-twenty-four-seven thing. Neither of us has lost sight of who we are as individuals. It’s more about sharing yourself. Everything I have is his and vice versa; things that happen to me aren’t real until I tell him about them. When he feels pain, I feel pain. Connections like that don’t just happen; they build over a period of time. If you go into a new relationship expecting to have that kind of pull, you’re destining yourself to fail.”

She was speaking theoretically, but I knew what she meant.

“You think I have unrealistic expectations.”

“I think you’re used to everything coming to you quickly. Relationships aren’t novels; you can’t rush through them and reach the same conclusion everyone else does in half the time. Oh, shit, my next appointment is here. I love you; we’ll talk again soon.”

“I love you, too. Thanks, Mom.”

I still didn’t know what to think, but I wanted to believe it was possible—that I could fall in love with Kate if I would just let myself.

Seven minutes after getting off the phone with my mom, Kate returned from class.

“I can’t believe it’s already time to figure out housing assignments for next year. September is five months away; so much could change between now and then.”

There was one change in particular I was hoping for more than anything, but I kept it to myself.

“I take it Irina told you her and Mike’s plan?”

Mike’s idea was for me to room with him again, but this time in a quad with Tyler and Peter in the other bedroom. Meanwhile, Kate and Irina would stay together in a double, making it possible for Mike to more or less live with Irina in our room while I lived with Kate in hers. It was a good plan in theory, but I refused to commit to a second year with him until I discussed it with Kate.

Kate rolled her eyes. “Yes. Obviously, I have no issue with the part that involves us, but if Irina and Mike manage to last the rest of the semester it’ll be a miracle—let alone the entire summer.”

She put down her bag, and I pulled her onto my lap.

“I’m hoping they do,” I admitted before pressing my mouth against hers.

She kissed me back and pulled at my clothes, but I refused to cooperate.

Kate looked at me perplexedly. “What’s wrong?”

“I want to love you.”

“Okay. I’m trying to see how you being naked would interfere with that, and I just…can’t.”

“It doesn’t,” I assured her. “I just don’t want it to stop with nudity.”

I put my hand between her legs and rubbed her through her pants. I’d never touched her there—clothed or otherwise. She responded right away by letting out a quiet moan.

“You brought me back to life. I want to return the favor.”

“I’m not ready for that.”

I stopped stroking her and rested my hand on her knee.

“Why?” I asked. “It’s nothing you haven’t done to me.”

“I don’t want to be compared to her. Don’t even tell me that you wouldn’t do that, because I know you would. It’s nearly impossible not to.”

“But doing things to me—touching me, blowing me—is somehow different?”

“Yes, because my curiosity outweighed my performance anxiety. I’d never given head before, but I know exactly what an orgasm feels like. I give them to myself all the time.”

“I don’t believe you for a second.”

“Girls jerk off just as much as guys do. It’s a fact. If you have any doubt of this, Google the word ‘vibrator’.”

“That’s not the part of your statement I’m questioning. Kate, I would never dream of pressuring you into doing anything you weren’t ready to do. I just don’t feel like you’re being honest with me.”

“I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You could never hurt me.”

She sighed. “Something tells me that if a girl started crying while you were fooling around with her, your feelings would be hurt. And that’s exactly what I’m afraid I’ll do, that I’ll cry through it. Going down on you is different. It’s still so new to me that I have to concentrate on what I’m doing. But for me to let you do things to me, well, there’s nothing to distract me. As much as I love you, as much as I want you—and believe me, I do want you—I always thought it would be him, that he would be my first. If I let you touch me there, if I give that part of myself to someone else, it means he’s really never coming back.”

“You don’t actually believe—”

“No, but sometimes I like to pretend he will. I’m sure you have similar fantasies.”

I nodded.

“Are you ready to give them up?”

I should have been. I’d given up all hope that Bella would ever contact me again. Still, Bella dreams weren’t all that dissimilar from wet dreams. Both caused intense physical reactions, and appeared to be involuntary.

“I’ve been ready for months now,” I assured her. “I just can’t always control where my mind goes.”

Or my emotions, for that matter. But I wanted to. God, how I wanted to.

She closed her eyes and sighed. “Exactly.”

I dropped the subject and didn’t bring it up again. I figured she’d tell me if and when she was ready to let me touch her.


From: J. Carlisle Cullen IV
Subject: Booked the trip
Date: May 4, 2010 7:04 PM EDT
To: Edward Cullen

London, Paris, Munich, Vienna.

Done.

What did you want to do the rest of the summer? Did you ever decide who you were with rooming next year?


From: Edward Cullen
Subject: Re: Booked the trip
Date: May 4, 2010 7:32 PM EDT
To: J. Carlisle Cullen IV

Anything but go down the shore.

Officially, I’m rooming with Mike.


From: J. Carlisle Cullen IV
Subject: Re: Booked the trip
Date: May 4, 2010 7:34 PM EDT
To: Edward Cullen

Does this mean you are unofficially rooming with Kate?


From: Edward Cullen
Subject: Re: Booked the trip
Date: May 4, 2010 7:55 PM EDT
To: J. Carlisle Cullen IV

Yes. We’re official. I’ve even met her parents.


From: J. Carlisle Cullen IV
Subject: Re: Booked the trip
Date: May 4, 2010 7:56 PM EDT
To: Edward Cullen

Do you mean you’re officially living together next year (unofficially), or officially something else?


From: Edward Cullen
Subject: Re: Booked the trip
Date: May 4, 2010 8:05 PM EDT
To: J. Carlisle Cullen IV

Next year, I’ll be unofficially living with my official girlfriend.


From: J. Carlisle Cullen IV
Subject: Re: Booked the trip
Date: May 4, 2010 8:06 PM EDT
To: Edward Cullen

So if Kate is your official girlfriend, does that mean you also have unofficial girlfriends? Where are they living? The Saudi prince’s unofficial harem?


From: Edward Cullen
Subject: Re: Booked the trip
Date: May 4, 2010 8:10 PM EDT
To: J. Carlisle Cullen IV

Ha. You’re funny. I officially did not inherit your sexual promiscuity gene.


From: J. Carlisle Cullen IV
Subject: Re: Booked the trip
Date: May 4, 2010 8:12 PM EDT
To: Edward Cullen

Unofficially, what makes you think I’m the parent you’d be getting that from? ;)


“Oh dear god,” I wailed.

Kate looked up, and I read her my father’s latest email.

“Are you sure you want to go to London with my dad and me? I mean, the man clearly knows no boundaries.”

“You said he was your best friend.” She shrugged. “Friends tell it like it is. Since I promised you I’d always be your friend…”

I knew I was in for it.

“…I feel obligated to remind you that you can’t put it off indefinitely.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“I know you’re avoiding going home.”

I sighed. “Having this discussion isn’t fair to you.”

“Not having this discussion isn’t fair to me.”

“I shouldn’t expect my current girlfriend to listen to me whine about how everything about the house I grew up in reminds me of my ex.”

“You’re right; you shouldn’t expect that from me. Then again, I brought it up, not you. I’ve thought of a potential solution.”

“Avoidance? That’s what I’ve been doing. There are too many memories.”

“Make new ones.”

So after finals, instead of going home to Old Greenwich, Kate came home with me. Seventeen minutes after walking through the door, it became clear it would be nothing like when Bella would stay with us. Kate excused herself to shower, and when she was safely out of earshot, I turned to my father.

“Why is Kate staying in a guest room? I mean, considering all the times Bella slept in my bed under this very roof, don’t you think it’s a little late to be preaching abstinence?”

“Bella was an adult.”

“So is Kate.”

“Get over it, Edward. Kate lives under her parents’ roof while not at school. She didn’t make the decision to spend the summer with us independently; I had to convince her father that under the circumstances it was the best thing for both of you. I’m not going to betray his trust for your convenience. Besides, it’s not like I’m going to be monitoring late-night hallway traffic. You’ll just have to do what generations of youth did before you—sneak around. On that note, I’ll be in my study.”

“Wait. There’s one other thing.”

“Yes?”

I reached into my pocket for my key ring and held up the key that opened Bella’s front door; I just knew I would never fall into love with Kate without letting go of Bella first. The key might as well have been Bella—small, cold and though it may have been capable of unlocking a door, additional hardware was required to open it.

“Would you hang on to this for me? I know I shouldn’t carry it around with me, but I’m not ready to let it go entirely. It’s not that I’m still hoping I’ll get to use it again someday; it’s that this key, a pair of panties and some pictures are all I have to prove I ever loved her, that it was ever real.”

I tried to take it off the key ring, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Sensing my reticence, my dad retrieved his keys from his pocket.

“We drive the same two cars. Why don’t we just switch?”

He handed his key ring to me, and I hesitantly handed him mine.

“You’re doing the right thing.”

“By giving up? That’s something I never thought I’d hear from you. Or do you mean in choosing to be with Kate rather than mope over Bella?”

“You aren’t choosing Kate; you’re choosing to live. Don’t ever lose sight of that. If you don’t put yourself first, no one else will.”

“Except for you and mom.”

“We won’t always be here.”

My father and I were never all that physically demonstrative, but for reasons I couldn’t entirely explain, I found myself throwing my arms around him.

“I love you, Dad. I’ve been a real dick to you lately. I know that, and I’m sorry.”

“I love you, too.” He rubbed my back over my shirt so soothingly, that he almost managed to erase my guilt. “And I understand. Never forget that I understand—always and no matter what.”

How to spend the summer was suddenly clear. I was going to prioritize the people in my life who cared about me, who stood by my side while I was a fuck-up and loved me even as I ignored and in some cases abused them—my parents, Emmett, Rose, Angela and Kate.

Especially Kate. I was certain that I loved her. I was also certain that I’d never fall in love with her if I didn’t make her my number-one priority. This summer, I was going to finally do right by her—starting with our trip to London.

Surprisingly enough, my dad seemed to be on board with this. When he booked two suites at the Savoy, he told me I’d be sharing one with him while Kate had her own. However, when we checked in, he directed the bellhop to put my luggage in the same room as Kate’s.

“I’m confused. Have you reevaluated your previous stance?” I asked as we rode the elevator to our floor.

“No. At home, Kate still stays in the guest room. What happens in London, however, stays in London. And you’re welcome—just don’t tell your mother. That goes double for you, Kate.”

Kate threw her arms around my dad. “I promise I won’t say a word. Thank you, Carlisle—for everything.”

Being in London with Kate was everything I hoped it would be. It was a fresh start for both of us, in a city where there were no memories of Bella and no memories of Jason. My father left us to our own devices, and we happily took advantage of the history and culture one of the greatest cities in the world had to offer.

The anniversary of Jason’s death passed like any other day. Kate didn’t mention it, but I knew it was on her mind. As we walked through the Victoria and Albert Museum, she paid particular attention to objects related to mourning but said nothing about them, nor did she mention the significance of the day until the following night.

The lights were off and I was waiting for her in bed. My eyes were just about to close when she crept in beside me and pressed her body against mine. All thoughts of sleep left me when I realized she was naked. I rolled onto my side and cupped her face in my hand.

“In Victorian times, the typical mourning period lasted a year and one day. Even by their standards, it’s been long enough.” She took my hand and placed it between her legs. “I’m ready.”

“Are you sure? This isn’t something we can undo.”

“I’m not acting on impulse here. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while; I even packed condoms. I want it to be you. Just…” She sighed. “Go easy on me if I do the wrong thing.”

“You could never do the wrong thing.”

“We’ll see if you still feel that way fifteen minutes from now.”

“Fifteen minutes? Give me some credit.”

“Can you make the first time quick? I think it will hurt less that way.”

Somehow, I knew she wasn’t talking about her virginity.

“I’d like to make you come first.”

“I’d rather you didn’t. I mean, I’m so wound up right now I doubt I could. Maybe after.” She put her hands under the waistband of my boxers and pushed them down my legs.

I moved my hand to her ass and pressed my erection into her hips as I kissed her and tried not to think of my first time with Bella. Then, it was about giving all of myself to the woman I loved, whom I thought loved me. That night, I wasn’t trying to overcome a hurdle while coming.

If the law of averages held true, Bella had probably fucked three new partners by now. She didn’t deserve for me to think of her while I made love to Kate—and that’s what I was determined to do here. I wasn’t going to take Kate’s virginity in a meaningless fuck, the way Bella had mine. I cared about Kate and past hurt notwithstanding, anything I did with her tonight was going to be an expression of that. It was also why, despite her request to the contrary, I needed to make her come.

“Where are the condoms?” I asked.

“I put one on your nightstand.”

I made note of its location as Kate moved onto her back and I began to stroke her clit.

“You need to be wet,” I explained. “I know you’re nervous, baby. Try to relax.”

“And if I cry?”

It would hurt me if she did—of this I had no doubt. But I couldn’t bring myself to hold it against her when I considered the fact that three minutes ago, I was thinking of Bella, whom still I loved beyond all reason despite her own admission that she wasn’t capable of returning my feelings. Conversely, Kate was capable of love. If she did cry, I’d view her tears as nothing more than further evidence of this.

“I’ll understand.”

She seemed to relax, and lay back against the pillow. “X loves Y.”

“Y loves X. Y wants to show X exactly how much.”

“X wants that, too.”

Her breathing deepened as I continued to rub her, and turned into quiet moans when I slipped a finger inside her.

Her heat surprised me—I’d forgotten how hot it could get in there. The apparent narrowness of her opening, however, was completely unexpected, and it only became tighter as she came. As her breathing returned to normal and I reached for the condom, I saw that was she crying.

“I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

“No.”

“Do you still–”

“Yes.”

Once I got the condom on, I settled my hips between her legs and entered her. She was hot and tight, and it took every ounce of restraint I had not to start pounding away, until I realized the sounds she was making weren’t moans of pleasure, but of pain.

I held her face in my hands. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine; you can keep going.”

I kissed her tears as I began to move inside her, but I stopped when she winced.

“I don’t want to hurt you.”

“I don’t want you not to hurt me. If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not real.”

She wasn’t talking about sex. Kate knew what it was like to love someone to the point that it was painful. She wanted to love me that way, and I wanted more than anything to reciprocate.

She shifted her hips, and it was my turn to moan.

“That feels good for you?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“What does it feel like?”

“Hot. Really, really hot.”

“Sex feels sexy? Well, duh.”

“That too, I guess. I was actually talking about temperature. You asked how you feel; you’re very hot and very tight.”

And if this conversation went on another second, I was sure I’d spontaneously combust.

“Huh. Interesting. I feel like I’m being stretched. It burns a little, but it’s not unbearable.”

She tentatively moved against me. Desperate for release, I thrust more deeply inside her, stilling myself only when her sharp intake of breath indicated that she was—once again—in pain.

“Please don’t stop. I want you to come,” she whispered.

Not long after my hips established a rhythm, that was exactly what I did. I didn’t last long, but she didn’t appear to mind. When we were finished, she went to the bathroom to clean herself up.

“Did I make you bleed?” I asked in a panic, when she reemerged.

“A little. I’m kind of surprised by that. I mean, I ride horses quite a bit.”

“I’m sorry.”

She shrugged. “It couldn’t be helped.”

“It gets better.”

“I’m counting on it.”

We didn’t have sex again until our last night in London. There were no tears and she claimed it didn’t hurt. Though she didn’t come while I was inside her, I did bring her to orgasm a few times with my mouth. It would be a few weeks before we saw each other again, and we were looking forward to a fresh start, both having done our best to let go of the past. When I woke up in Paris on my eighteenth birthday, I expected to feel like a man. Instead, I felt like a new one.

I spent the day at the Louvre with my dad, and by the time we went back to the hotel, my mother had arrived. We went out to dinner as a family, then my father insisted I go drinking with him. I fell into bed exhausted, but also optimistic.

When I woke up the following morning, I realized I hadn’t checked my email since I was in London. I took out my laptop and got on the hotel’s wi-fi, then crawled back into bed to catch up. Nothing could ever have prepared me for what I found in my inbox.


From: Catherine Fleury
Subject: X misses Y
Date: June 20, 2010 12:12 PM EDT
To: Edward Cullen

Happy birthday. Have fun with your family; I know how important this trip is for all of you. I’ll be here when you get back. I’m not looking forward to sleeping alone, or using my own hand to get off. I’ll probably have carpal tunnel by the time you get back unless I invest in some toys.

Thank your parents again for letting me join you in London. I have something special planned for when you all get home.

Love you,
X


From: Michael Newton
Subject: A song for you…
Date: June 20, 2010 1:32 PM EDT
To: Edward Cullen

I lick a lot of pussy, oh yeah. I lick a lot of pussy, oh yeah. I lick a lot of pussy, oh yeah.
Oh, yeah. I lick pussy.

(It sounds better when I sing it.)


From: Isabella Swan
Subject: None
Date: June 20, 2010 2:14 PM EDT
To: Edward Cullen

Dearest Edward,

After everything I’ve put you through, I fully expect you to delete this without reading it. And I would deserve that. I don’t deserve for you to read this, to enable me to unburden my soul. If I carried my guilt and shame of how I treated you eternally, it would still be less punishment than I deserve. If I were bound to a rock like Prometheus, if an eagle were to tear my liver out of my flesh each day of eternity, I would still think my punishment lenient.

I lied to you on Thanksgiving, Edward. I loved you, then and now, more than I can possibly articulate. I’m not going to make excuses for my actions, because there are none. I do, however, want you to know that I am in therapy and working on my issues. I can’t take back what I said to you that night, but I can let you know I will regret hurting you as long as I breathe.

I’ll love you even longer.

Bella


It was too much for me to begin to process, so I didn’t even try. I closed my laptop and cried until sleep once again overcame me.


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4 Responses

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  1. on 01 Mar 2010 at 1:54 amMichelle

    this is slightly different then the one of fanfiction

    [Reply]


  2. on 04 Mar 2010 at 1:26 amResaHK

    I really hope that he stays with Kate, this is by far the healthiest choice. I don't like Bella and this email just compunds this, it is self obsessed and writen with out any regard to whether Edward has moved on or not.
    Love the story, your English is very old world almost Austin-esk.

    [Reply]


  3. on 29 May 2010 at 11:09 amAitza Danielle

    I’m loving this story. I was hesitant about reading it because I was sure I’d hate Kate, however, it is the complete opposite. Reading this story from Edward’s point of view is enlightening and very interesting. I do think I would hate Bella had I not read Art After 5 first. Counterpoint is not what I expected at all. I’m loving the interacting with Esme, Carlisle, and Kate. You’ve done a wonderful job.

    [Reply]


  4. on 07 Jul 2010 at 12:36 pmluckyduck0076

    So…wow. Bella, I want to call her a bitch, really do. It was cruel of that email. What did she hope to gain out of it? I hope this doesn’t set Edward back in his process of wanting to love Kate. I almost feel like I want to put Edward in a case that lets everything in, except anything dealing with Bella.

    [Reply]