She sat astride me with one of her thighs on either side of my hips and slowly lowered herself onto me, taking me inside her heat. I moaned, reveling both in her closeness and in the intimacy of sharing myself with someone who understood how much it meant for me to open myself up like this—someone I could trust to never take my doing so for granted.

I raised my hips, pushing more deeply inside her.

“Harder. Oh god, Kate, fuck me harder.”

Rather than comply with my request, she stilled her movements.

“Kate?” I heard Bella ask. “Who the hell is Kate?”

My eyes flew open and I sat straight up in bed, taking in my surroundings as awareness reclaimed me. Despite how real my dream felt, I was indeed alone in my hotel room—exactly the way I was when I went to sleep, except now I was drenched in a cold sweat. I collapsed back onto the bed and rolled onto my side, but stopped when I felt a hard piece of plastic beneath me. Its sharp corner poked my chest in a physically painful reminder that although Bella’s presence in my hotel room was not real, more than likely the email I seemed to remember receiving from her was. I handled my laptop as if it would burn me, opening it ever so slowly, afraid of what the screen would display and unsure which of the two possible scenarios would upset me more.

When I saw that Bella’s message did in fact exist, I was simultaneously relieved and enraged, but more than anything, my mind screamed the same two questions over and over:


And more specifically:

Why now?

Could Bella’s timing get any worse? I mean, six months ago it would’ve all been different. Hell, six weeks ago it would’ve been different. How many times had I opened my laptop hoping—sometimes even silently praying—that I’d find an email from Bella? Even I had lost count. Back then I imagined a single word from her would assuage my agony, and if she sent me an actual message? Surely that would make me whole. In reality, it tore me apart.

Unable to look away, I stared at the screen, reading and rereading her words until my eyes began to burn. Though I doubted the validity of most of what she wrote, she had gotten at least one thing correct—she had no right whatsoever to “unburden her soul.” Whether or not the rest of the email’s contents were true wasn’t all that relevant. Its simple existence screamed that despite her apparent insistence otherwise, nothing had changes. She was just as selfish as ever.

I closed my laptop only after hearing a knock at my door.

“Pas maintenant!” I yelled, not entirely certain that my French was correct and too upset to care.

“Edward, it’s your father. You’ve been in there all morning. Is everything okay?”

I got up and opened the door for him. “It’s fine. I just…” I shook my head.


I wasn’t ready to talk about Bella’s email. “I just overslept. I’ll get showered, and we can get on with our day. I’m sorry I wasted the morning.”

“You don’t have to apologize. This trip was for you, remember?”

In light of recent events, it was impossible for me to forget the purpose of this trip—to spare me pain and keep me from returning to the past. I didn’t want to even think about how I’d feel if I’d gotten Bella’s email without an ocean keeping me away from her. I’d be tempted to drive to her house, and I knew what a huge mistake that would be. Of their own accord, my arms wrapped themselves around my father.

“What’s this about?” he asked.

“I’m just really glad we did this. Thank you for always being there for me, whether or not I deserved it.”

In a gesture not all that dissimilar from the way we would roughhouse when I was little, he pushed me away, laughing. “You wouldn’t be able to keep me away. It’s part of being a parent.”

“I wasn’t talking about that. I’ve been a shitty friend, Dad.”

“Maybe. But truly shitty friends never realize they’ve been shitty. You might have had a period where you behaved selfishly, but you’re not a selfish person. You weren’t trying to hurt anyone.”

“Do you think malice always makes the difference?”


“Huh.” I threw myself onto the couch, thinking about what he said.

“You wouldn’t agree?”

“I think there are exceptions. I mean, if one person cuts another to the bone again and again, does intent matter? Hypothetically, say there’s a person who perpetually acts in her own best interest without thinking of potential damage. There’s no malice, but there’s a certain level of self-absorption.”

“Ah, but that could also be self-preservation, depending on the circumstances.” He sat in the chair across from me. “This is strange conversation to have first thing in the morning.”

I feigned confusion. “It’s the middle of the afternoon.”

“For me, yes. You just woke up.”

As usual, he saw through me.

“You don’t miss a thing, do you?” I leaned forward with my head in my hands, groaning as I pushed my hair off my face. “I got an email from Bella this morning. She claims she still loves me.”

“How does that make you feel?”

“If I wanted the shrink angle, I’d be talking to Mom right now. God, it’s too much to even process.”

“I wasn’t playing therapist. I just know that if you identify the emotion, it’s easier to know what to do about it.”

“Honestly?” I asked. “I’m livid.”

His relief was palpable. “Thank god.”

I looked at him confusedly.

“Rage can be channeled,” he explained. “It’s nothing more than energy, which is healthy. It’s when you stop feeling altogether that there’s a problem.”

I remembered how I felt—or more accurately how I didn’t feel—this winter.

Apparently, my dad was thinking the same thing. “What finally brought you back to us?”

I didn’t have to think about my answer.


Kate. How could I have forgotten about her? Until that moment, I’d been so focused on what Bella’s email meant for me that I hadn’t even begun to process what it would mean for Kate—who was supportive and loving, and who just seventy-two hours ago had given me her virginity. Even if it was different from how I felt about Bella, I did love Kate and I refused to hurt her if there were a way around it. She deserved for me to give our relationship all of my attention—something I could never do while having anything to do with Bella.

Suddenly, it all made sense. Despite her electronic insistence to the contrary, Bella hadn’t changed at all. At no point did her email ask me to forgive her. It asked for nothing from me—not even a response—because it wasn’t about making amends to me as much as it was about her need to apologize so she could move on with her life. I wouldn’t begrudge her that—her email gave me what I needed to move on with mine.

“What are you going to do?” he asked.

“I’m going to get showered, and then I’m going to explore Paris with Mom. When she goes home, I’m looking forward to spending some time with my best friend, and maybe trying to make up for the fact that I’ve been a shit lately.”

“I was talking about the email.”

“So am I. I’ve decided I’m not going to let it ruin our trip,” I explained. “Do you remember what you told me the night I met Bella?”

“I remember telling you a lot of things.”

“‘Bros before hoes, my man. Bros before hoes.'”

My dad laughed. “I stood there waiting for you for two hours, bored to tears.”

“I never understood that. Why didn’t you walk through an exhibition?”

“If I went into the European wing with you, it would have seemed like I was hovering. If I went anywhere else, you wouldn’t have been able to find me easily if anything she said made you upset.”

He always put me first. It was time for me to start returning the favor.

“Anyway, it was good advice, and I’m sorry that I didn’t heed it at the time. That changes now. I’ve given Bella enough power over the past year; she doesn’t get this, too. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t tell Mom I heard from Bella. Mom would want to talk about it, and I don’t—well, not here. I’ll tell her myself when we get home.”

“Fine. This can stay between us, for now. Speaking of your mother, she’s probably wondering where I am. I should go find her.” He went to leave, but stopped in front of the door. “You know, Edward, I often have moments when I think that I couldn’t be more proud of the man you’ve become–”

“Then there are mornings like this,” I interrupted him, “when you realize how wrong that sentiment is and wonder how you could be proud of me in the first place—”

He didn’t let me finish. “I become even more proud. Truly.”

By the time we returned to the States, my dad and I were as close as ever. Upon arriving home, I marched right up to my room, anxious to get some rest. On my bed, I found a large photo album. I opened it and read the inscription.

To Y,

You balance me.

Love, X

As I flipped through the album of pictures she’d taken of my father and me in London, I realized two things. One was that Kate was actually a very gifted photographer. The other was that from certain angles, I actually did resemble my dad physically. My last thought before falling into a jetlag-induced coma was how much I hoped our similarities didn’t end there.

I woke to find Kate reading on the sofa in my room.

“Welcome home.” She put down her book and sat beside me in bed.

“The pictures are amazing. Would you believe I have nothing like them? I mean, I have lots of family shots, but nothing of just my dad and me.”

She smiled. “I was happy to be of service.”

I pulled Kate on top of me and kissed her, hoping to make up for my decision to keep Bella’s email a secret by exhibiting my physical and emotional devotion. With a fervor completely new to us, I tore at Kate’s clothing, desperate for there to be nothing between us that could be helped.

When I pulled lightly on Kate’s breasts and hair, she giggled. “Someone must have missed me.”

My mouth closed over her nipple and began to suck, and though she was still making noises, they were nothing at all like laughter.

Suddenly panicked, I released her breast. “Am I being too rough?”

“No. I’m just as excited to see you.” She took my hand and placed it on the soaked lips between her thighs. “See?”

I plunged my tongue into her mouth, not driven entirely by lust. There was also an overwhelming need to be inside her—Kate specifically—that I’d never felt before. What I didn’t know was whether my intention was to bring Kate closer to me or to push Bella away. Maybe it was a little of both. I did know that when Kate got on top of me and I lowered her onto my cock, all thoughts of Bella left me. They didn’t return until three minutes and eleven seconds after I came.

I wondered if with practice I’d eventually last longer.


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24 Responses

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  1. on 05 Mar 2010 at 5:15 am@IronicTwist67

    Great chapter! I still can't imagine how I'm going to be okay with Edward and Kate splitting up. You're the first author to make me root for a noncanon pairing. Which is particularly masochistic of me, since I *know* it doesn't work out between them.


  2. on 05 Mar 2010 at 5:29 amflyrbrd

    Thank you for this wonderful chapter. I love this story, I feel bad for Kate. But I am still Team Bella.


  3. on 05 Mar 2010 at 5:37 amlvk1978

    It's really tough for me to read this Kate/Edward stuff. It's kind of the way I feel now when I re-read all the "Twilight" books. When I first read them, all I could think of was Edward. Now, when I re-read the books, all I can think of is how little Edward actually figures into the story. It's all Bella/Jacob and I realize that I rely on fanfic to actually get the Bella/Edward fix that I so desperately crave.

    I can't say that I'll be sorry to see this relationship end. Edward is such a lovely young man and I appreciate that Kate has helped him to heal much like Jacob functioned for Bella. My "problem," if you actually want to call it that, is that I don't like the fact that the friendship turned physical. It always seems like a betrayal to me, although in some respects, I think that Bella somehow "deserved" this betrayal. I guess my real problem is that I'm too goddamned old-fashioned. People have sex so easily and so casually nowadays — sometimes it seems to me that it's not as special as it should be.

    Beautifully written as always. Mazel tov on the beauty location, too. This place is special. Thanks for posting.


  4. on 05 Mar 2010 at 6:51 amcccullen

    Question: Now that I have re read this chapter, how long were Edward and his father in Europe. When he returned "home" was that to Ct or to Princeton? Was Kate waiting for him at his house?


    sleepyvalentina reply:

    Kate came to see him in his parents' house, so neither CT or Princeton.


    cccullen reply:

    Thank you for the response. Also, what is the timing of Edward's homecoming? Is it immediately before school starts? August? ____As always and amazing and emotional chapter.


  5. on 05 Mar 2010 at 9:32 amTippyL

    I just found your site! Great job on getting this up and running. I first read ch 33 & 34 on FF and I have to say, I prefer the less graphic sex scenes with E & K. Lol. I’m hoping somehow magically you’ll fast forward two months so we can see Bella in the next chapter. The E/K thing is killing me. But beautifully written, as usual. I love the way you write Carlisle in this version. I only hope we get some kind words from him about Bella before he departs. It was something in AA5 that Bella always worried about.


  6. on 05 Mar 2010 at 2:46 pmjustdazzled

    This chapter is fabulous. I wrote a ridiculously long review, which the site wouldn't accept and which I had to retype twice because I was trying to break it into smaller pieces and it won't let me copy and paste. I gave up and will post it on FF. But I wanted to let you know I liked the unedited version over here and that I really like your website!


  7. on 05 Mar 2010 at 5:37 pmLynn

    I commented as cretin on ff.net, but came over here to view the "uncut" version.
    You are really talented, and I wish you all the best with your writing endeavors. This may not be what you want to hear, but published or not, you did, in fact, write a novel. Holy crap, that's HUGE. The other day, my daughter and I were watching the winter olympics, and they were showing one of the girls that didn't place, and she was crying, and my middle schooler said "What is your problem? You're in the OLYMPICS! You made it so far, quit it now" like the girl could hear her, but she was right. It is a huge accomplishment that she even made it there, just like it's such a huge accomplishment to finish a novel (when most of us can't even finish that afghan we started crocheting in 2008) and you should be so proud.


    sleepyvalentina reply:

    I love this comment. On my real life FB page, my college friends were teasing me that I hadn't finished anything that didn't come in a bottle since 1999. Oh, and I still haven't finished my laundry. If nothing else, I've this.


  8. on 05 Mar 2010 at 6:24 pmbluevolvic

    Hey , love the new site its lovely :)

    Really loved the update, I like that Edward is putting his life first, and trying not to let the email affect him, he's obviously trying to keep control. I still like Kate and I think that I will feel bad for her later.


  9. on 05 Mar 2010 at 8:46 pmPFG

    Well, wow. So that chapter was rough. Originally when Bella wrote him that letter I saw it as a good thing. To let him know she lied and she was sorry, to try in some fucked up way to make amends. Then you had to go and say it was self-serving…I didn't think about it like that. In some way I guess it was. And then there's Edward, trying so hard to NOT be Bella. He was burned so badly that he's bent on not treating Kate like Bella treated him. I'm looking foward to seeing how his relationship with Kate ends. What is said, how she reacts, etc.
    If anything I pity Bella because she did this to herself.


  10. on 05 Mar 2010 at 3:46 pmmugglemom08

    I feel much the same way that lvk1978 does about Edward and Kate's relationship. Having said that, I really liked this chapter. I liked that Edward didn't immediately contact Bella or let her email ruin the rest of his trip.


  11. on 06 Mar 2010 at 12:21 amSusan

    I really like your site! I'm more than sick of all the fuckery going on at ff. As always, I love this story deeply. I think this is a very interesting chapter in terms of Edward's growing emotional maturity–he's shaken as a result of Bella's email, but he stops to consider what she really said, the tone of it, and how he views it as really all about her, not him; and he's also thinking about Kate and what his feelings and responsibilities are toward her. I'm actually finding myself OK with Edward being with Kate sexually–I see it as healing and healthy for both of them, I guess. Maybe I would feel differently would be different if Kate hadn't had her boyfriend die and she wasn't so mature, and instead was just some random freshman virgin type. I look forward to seeing how Edward's thoughts about Bella develop. btw, when one refers to the diminutive of whores, it's "hos", not "hoes". My homies in the hood confirmed this for me. Susan (my1edward on ff).


  12. on 06 Mar 2010 at 2:51 amadhita

    Edward is still hurting very much, but I admire that he's trying to move on, because going back to Bella, at least at this point, would be very detrimental for him. The bad thing is he is trying to move on at times by losing himself on Kate and that's not healthy nor fair to either of them, even if Kate is also using him.
    Good chapter!


  13. on 06 Mar 2010 at 6:05 ambellybell79

    i dont actually like the E/K relationship i would prefere it kind of platonic. i feel like Edward is bretaying Bella and i dont like it.
    i cant wait for E/B be together again.
    and i love this story


  14. on 07 Mar 2010 at 2:45 amLindyP

    I really like your new website! I am happy for Edward that he could find someone to help him heal, but as much as he were try to deny his feelings, he isstill in love with Bella. (Thankfully)! I find it interesting that he feels Bella's e-mail was not an apology. I disagree. I think it was maybe a safe way for her to apologize, knowing what would happen if she were to see him face to face. No doubt she was scared too. Great update!
    LindyP :)


  15. on 08 Mar 2010 at 2:46 amalicenative

    Loved the chapter. I am a huge fan of Art After 5 and although it's tough to read the specifics about Edward and Kate's relationship, I know how the story ends.


  16. on 08 Mar 2010 at 2:46 amalicenative

    Loved the chapter. I am a huge fan of Art After 5 and although it's tough to read the specifics about Edward and Kate's relationship, I know how the story ends.


  17. on 08 Mar 2010 at 3:25 pmElizabeth440

    I didn't think it possible, but your use musical definitions as chapter titles is more inspired than those in AA5. Fermata – that is exactly what Youngward is doing.

    I feel so greatly for these characters, every single one of them. Their reactions to events and others are all so understandable and relatable. Bella's timing was awful and Edward's reaction reasonable, yet it doesn't change the fact that they were destined to find their way back to each other. Edward just doesn't realize it yet, although he is going to kill himself trying to overcompensate to Kate. Yet it still won't be enough.

    Once again, we get more proof of how special Carlisle is. Instead of immediately condemning Bella, he chooses to understand her even when she has yet again hurt his son.

    I loved the use of photographs to demonstrate to Edward how similar to his father he is. Others can see it when he cannot, and it was so poignant that it was Kate who was able to show that to him.


  18. on 10 Mar 2010 at 2:18 amceline

    I´m very ashamed to admit I´ve been reading your stories since last year, but never made a comment on ff or twilighted. English is not my mother language and I was always afraid to not express myself correctly. So I kept quiet. But it was very ungrateful of me, because you share your talent with us and you deserve to be recognized for that..
    Counterpoint and AA5 (and your other stories) are so beautifully written and you should be very proud of your work. The art references are amazing. Museums are such special places for me. I love how you made the Art Museum a character in the story…
    But i´m rambling now.
    I just wanted to say thank you. So, thank you!
    (going back to lurker town now…)


  19. on 07 Jul 2010 at 12:50 pmluckyduck0076

    I love the dream Edward had in the beginning. I have to admit that at first I didn’t know it was a dream, and I was like “OMG! I can’t believe he would do that!” I am so glad it was only a dream. I think not telling Kate about Bella’s email is a good choice, but also a bad one. If she finds out from somewhere else she will feel betrayed. But if he did tell her, it might scare her off, because it shows that Edward is committed to their relationship. Although by her giving up her virginity to him, seems like that was her way of showing she was committed to them as a couple.

    Will Edward & Emmett end up being friends again? I miss Emmettt. He was an awesome character in this story, and I think helped Edward out a lot with Edward’s relationship with Bella and with the ending of their relationship.


  20. on 27 Nov 2010 at 12:21 pmJulie

    I’m moving over here. I hate censored anything. Though I have to tell you that I don’t think what you have written here wouldn’t be fine on ff.net Glad Edward’s getting a taste of what it would be like to be with someone else. I’m reading this and AA5 simultaneously so I don’t know what happens (though I’m sure it’ll end with B&E ;) Still loving how each character has their own voice and version of the story.


  21. on 10 Jan 2011 at 9:29 pmSea4Me

    The letter controversy is interesting. I think it’s a good letter. It would be more selfish if she asked anything of Edward. But she didn’t. He might have wanted her to, but not doing so was an unselfish act, IMO.