As I pulled up to Bella’s house in my new car, I felt like I was finally a grown man. Well, at least until I remembered that my mom picked out my clothing for this evening. While part of me wanted to acknowledge that many adult males accepted fashion advice from the women in their lives, the rest of me was painfully aware that if I couldn’t even dress myself I was way out of my league. I silenced my inner doubts and rang the doorbell. Forty-eight seconds later, I faced the largest man I’d ever seen.
“I’m sorry,” I stammered. “I think I have the wrong house.”
“You must be Edward.” He pushed open the screen door and moved to the side. “Come in.”
I stepped into Bella’s living room hoping her home would give me some insight into her likes, but the complete lack of decoration destined her to remain a bit of an enigma. With the exception of an upright piano, her living room was completely empty. An archway led into a functional dining room. Going by her furniture (or lack thereof) Bella apparently prioritized food and music. Relieved, I managed a small sigh. The agenda for our first date was perfect.
“I didn’t catch your name.” I stared at the giant guy in front of me and wondered if this was some sort of ploy to intimidate me.
If so, it was working.
“I’m Emmett. My girlfriend, Rose, is upstairs helping Bella get ready. I’ve been watching the Phillies game. You’re welcome to join me. I have a feeling the girls could be a while.”
I followed him upstairs to a small bedroom that had been converted into a second living room. There was an over-stuffed sofa and a television mounted to the wall. I sat on the far end of the sofa and stared at the TV screen.
“You have no reason to be nervous, you know.” Emmett settled into the couch and took a swig from his lager.
“I’m not nervous,” I insisted. I followed his gaze to my foot, which was rapidly twitching against the leg of the coffee table.
He angled his head toward my swinging foot. “If you say so.”
I sighed. “Is it that obvious?”
“Only because I’ve been there. If it makes you feel better, I had a panic attack before my first real date with Rose.”
I couldn’t imagine this guy being afraid of anything. “Why?”
“Have you seen Rose?” he asked.
I shook my head. “You’re the first one of Bella’s friends that I’ve met.”
He smiled. “Rose can be a bit intimidating. In addition to being incredibly hot, she’s brilliant. She’s a trial attorney on the fast track to becoming a partner at one of the city’s most prestigious firms.”
“Do you also practice law?”
The force of his laugh quaked the couch slightly. “No. I’m a grad student.”
“Me, too. I mean, I’m a student who has recently graduated…not college though…not yet.”
I couldn’t have sounded any less coherent if I tried.
“Rose told me. Congratulations, by the way. Princeton is a great school even if your basketball team sucks cock.”
I laughed. “You must go to Penn.”
“How did you know?” he said sarcastically.
I liked him already.
“You know, I was expecting Bella’s friends to think it was weird that she’d go out with me. I’m not getting that vibe from you.”
“It is weird Bella is going out with you, though not because of your age. Besides, my girlfriend is ten years older than me, so I have no room to talk.” He popped open another beer.
“And she takes you seriously? Wait, I didn’t mean it like that. Shit. I really need to pull myself together.”
Emmett laughed. “To answer your question, yes, Rose takes me seriously though no one else does. Edward, it’s okay to be nervous. Bella’s so flipped out she called Rose for moral support. She doesn’t typically do this sort of thing, you know.”
“What, need help getting dressed?”
“No.” He took another swig. “I meant date like this.”
“Is that what you meant when you said it was weird that Bella was going out with me?”
“Yep. Bella doesn’t date recreationally.”
“But she’s so…hot.”
“I’m not saying she lacks for male attention. She gets plenty of it and she certainly finds it entertaining. She has been known to go on tangents about how marriage and the traditional dating thing are completely outdated and neither hold any appeal to her. Still, she agreed to go out with you and called in Rose for reinforcement. That’s very telling.”
Suddenly, I didn’t feel like such a tool for asking my mother to dress me.
“She must really like you.” He leaned towards me and quietly added, “For the record, she’s even more nervous right now than you are.”
I dumbly tried to wrap my mind around the concept that I could possibly make Bella nervous.
“You think I’m full of shit,” he said.
I laughed. “The thought has occurred to me, yes.”
“Well, I’m not. At least, not when it comes to relationships.‚”He leaned over and smacked me on the back. “She likes you. She must have seen something appealing in you that she had not found in anyone else. Calm down and be yourself. It will be fine.”
“I’ve never done this before,” I admitted.
“Dated an older woman? It’s the same as if you went out with a high school girl. They just want to have fun and be treated with respect. Even in a long-term relationship, the mechanics are the same. If you are compatible, you’ll find the majority of the conflict you face comes from outside sources.”
“I’ve never dated a girl my age, either.”
“Oh.” He smiled. “You’ll be fine, my man. Just be yourself. If she doesn’t like who that is, she’s not the one.” He turned to the TV. “World fucking champions, you’d think we’d finally have some decent pitching. Still up three runs though heading into the ninth.”
“Yeah, but it’s the Phillies. We’ve blown bigger leads than this one.” I turned to the screen just as Ryan Howard hit the ball.
Emmett started yelling. “Woo hoo, yeah baby, bring it home.”
“And here I thought Pat Burrell was the world’s slowest outfielder. He’s got nothing on this guy.”
I looked up just as a tall blonde I assumed was Rose nudged Bella into the room. I stood when I saw her, and I hoped my doing so didn’t make me appear overly eager, even though I was.
Bella was absolutely exquisite. Her hair was pulled off her face but falling down around her shoulders. She wore a dress that crossed in the front and tied on the side. It was sleeveless and so low cut I could see the entire length of her breasts.
It was going to kill me not to try to cop a feel. I swore to myself I would be a gentleman, and my plan did not include fondling her boobs. Well, not tonight anyway. I took a deep breath and willed my cock to sit down. Of course, it threatened to defect.
From the time we left Bella’s house to when we sat down at dinner, I touched her exactly six times. They were all socially acceptable first-date touches, with the exception of briefly placing my hand on her knee as I drove. I knew that touching her below the waist wasn’t entirely appropriate given the early stage of our relationship, so I didn’t let my touch linger. As I pulled away, I vowed that I would not take any other such liberties with her this evening outside of holding her hand and if she seemed receptive to the idea, kissing her goodnight.
Bella wasn’t making it easy for me to behave like a gentleman. When I helped her out of the car at the valet, she did not let go of my hand. Instead she threaded her fingers through mine as we walked to the restaurant. She seemed to want me to touch her.
“So why medicine?” she asked.
“I like the challenge of shaping young minds.”
I smiled. “Present company included, of course.”
“Actually, no. I wouldn’t dream of attempting to form your intellect. I can barely keep up with you as it is. By the way, do you realize you answered my question with a question?”
I was enjoying this. “Does that bother you?”
“Not in theory, but I don’t want to talk about myself all night.”
“What if I told you I found the idea of learning all about you tremendously appealing?”
She laughed. “I’d think you were lying with the hope you’d get laid.”
“I’m not, you know.”
“Which? Lying or hoping you’ll get laid?”
“I’m not lying.” My cheeks burned with my admission.
“I’m glad.” She leaned toward me and added in a whisper, “On both counts.”
She reached over and touched my hand.
I was incredibly grateful we were sitting at a table. Not only did it conceal my erection, it prevented me from publicly ravishing her, and thus completely deviating from my plan. I wanted to be in a relationship with Bella, and I knew I wouldn’t get one if I attacked her.
The waiter arrived with our entrees and I was grateful for the distraction which our food provided. She picked up her fork, daintily plucked a piece of penne from her plate, and tucked it into her mouth. Of course Bella would order something phallic like penne. The sight of her lips around something flesh colored and cylindrical nearly made me come in my pants. My reaction defied logic. If we were talking strictly about pasta, I would hope that my genitalia more closely resembled manicotti than penne or even ziti. The sudden mental image of my penis in place of the penne between her lips over powered me. I needed a diversion, so I looked down at the table, hoping to focus on something else. Her penne rested in a bowl of cream sauce.
God, this was going to be a long, torturous night.
Torture be damned. I would not touch her inappropriately even if she wanted me to, and I was getting the distinct impression that she did.
“Is this very boring for you?” she asked. “Talking to me, I mean. I’m not even going to pretend to be your intellectual equal. You must feel like you have to dumb yourself down a bit.”
“Not at all.”
“That amazes me. In all honesty, I have little interest in men who are less intelligent than I am.”
I smiled. “Thus the basis of my appeal?”
“You are appealing on so many levels. Seriously, though, it must get old for you.”
“I don’t dumb myself down for anyone. I wouldn’t even know how. Besides, intelligence comes in many forms. Even if it didn’t, there are other personality traits, such as compassion and integrity, that are far more important to me than finding someone with a comparable IQ.”
She seemed uncomfortable and I wondered if I’d said too much. I ate a piece of my steak before making eye contact again, and changed the subject.
“How is your penne?” I asked.
“It’s wonderful. I can tell it was probably made this morning. I can taste each individual ingredient, and typically I can only do that with pasta that I’ve made myself.”
“You make your own pasta?”
She nodded. “I can be quite the foodie. I enjoy the entire process of preparing meals, from the planning of a menu to clearing the table.‚”She looked down at my plate. “You know, if your filet got any bloodier, it would still be mooing.”
“This from a woman who describes herself as a foodie? Surely you know that anything beyond rare is a waste of beef of this quality.”
“That’s what food critics say.”
I put down my fork. “Tell me, Bella, how do you like your meat?”
She cocked her head to the side and lifted her wine glass by its stem. “Hot throughout and pink in the middle.”
Speaking of meat, I was suddenly very cognizant of my own.
If her words weren’t enough for me to fear busting out of my pants, she tapped my ankle with her toe under the table. Her innuendo was intentional. I gulped some club soda and she laughed at my visible discomfort. It seemed that Bella was a bad girl. I pushed that thought away and made plans to revisit it when I took my next shower.
“So where are we going now?” Bella threaded her arm through mine and we walked south down Broad Street.
We stopped outside the Academy of Music. I led her up the steps.
“You mentioned you liked Rachmaninoff. When I saw the program for this evening, I had to get you to come with me.”
“You are amazing.” She threw her arms around my neck and gave me a quick squeeze, pulling away seconds later when her wrap fell to the floor.
I picked it up for her and placed it around her shoulders. “So this is another good surprise?”
“Oh, this goes well beyond good,” she assured me.
An usher led us to our box and closed the curtains behind us. Bella walked to the front and looked out at the stage below us.
“I didn’t realize they still played here. I’ve never been inside the Academy before. The murals are amazing.”
“They usually play at the Kimmel Center. Tonight is a bit of an anomaly.”
“Is it?” she asked.
I knew she wasn’t talking about the location of this evening’s concert.
“I suppose it doesn’t have to be.”
The lights dimmed and we took our seats. The concert master walked onstage, and she squeezed my hand with the exuberance of a little girl. She watched in fascination, a smile upon her lips. She never took her eyes off the stage I never took mine off her.
As we walked back to the car, she placed both of her hands in one of mine and leaned into my side. We didn’t say much during the drive home. I pulled into her driveway and shut off the engine.
She had her keys ready to go. I wondered if she was planning a quick escape.
“Would you like to come inside?” she asked.
“Yes.” My fears dissipated, and I answered a bit too enthusiastically.
So far, everything was going according to plan. Next, the serenade and then a kiss. She unlocked her door and gestured me inside. She stepped out of her shoes and placed her bag and wrap on the piano bench. I wanted to play for her, but didn’t want to move her things. I stood in the doorway indecisively.
“Is everything okay?” she asked.
“Would you like to come upstairs?”
“Very much so.”
As if sensing my trepidation, she took me by the hand and gently pulled me up the steps behind her.
“This isn’t a big deal, Edward. You’ve been here before.”
“I’m fairly sure I’ve never been here before.”
She gave me a tour which lasted one minute and seventeen seconds before pulling me into her bedroom. She walked over to her nightstand and before turning to face me. Almost in slow motion, she pulled the tie on the side of her dress and it fell to the floor.
Breasts. Oh my god, her breasts. They were small and perfect, with soft pink nipples. I lowered my gaze, past the round indentation of her navel to the swell of her hips, naked except for a black lace thong. I suddenly understood why artists were obsessed with the female form. I wanted to ask her to turn around so I could see her bottom, but didn’t know how to ask politely. As it was, I could barely control myself.
Both my face and my cock were on fire. It felt so wrong to gawk at her, but I gawked nonetheless. I was trembling from a combination of nerves and need.
Bella wanted me to fuck her. That much was obvious. Despite what Emmett had said about her not dating much, her behavior seemed to indicate that she was very experienced sexually. Together, those details could only mean that she regularly had sex outside of committed relationships, and now she wanted to have sex with me. Sex, which for her, would be meaningless. As much as I wanted her, I knew I couldn’t do this.
She walked towards me and wrapped her arms around my waist.
With great effort, I found my voice. “Bella…”
“Shh.‚”She placed her hands on my face. “Tell me what you want.”
“Everything,” I whispered.
“It’s all yours.”
She was offering me her body, in any way I wanted it, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy me. I wanted her mind and soul, but more than anything I wanted her heart. She already had mine, though I doubted she knew this. I’ve loved Bella from the moment I saw her, my dad always told me that sex was far more fulfilling when it was an expression of love.
I could take her into my arms and wordlessly express my feelings for her. Somehow, though, I didn’t think she would grasp the significance of my doing so. I would be just another guy she’s fucked. And if I didn’t perform well—and given my complete lack of experience, I did not expect to–I may never hear from her again. That would destroy me.
I put my arms around her, holding her tightly against me, hoping my trembling would subside. It didn’t. Her skin was soft and hot and I needed to feel it. I took a step back and ran my hands up the front of her body, brushing her breasts with my knuckles. Her areolas responded to my touch and she closed her eyes, inhaling sharply. I held one of her breasts in each of my hands while stroking her nipples with my thumbs.
I was so lost in the feeling that I was actually touching her there, that I didn’t notice she was undressing me until there were only two buttons remaining on my shirt.
“Do you want to do that part?” she asked.
“That’s not it.”
I was expecting her to ask me why I wanted to stop, or maybe to try to convince me to continue. Her tears took me completely off guard.
“Are you okay?” I asked stupidly.
“I’m fine.” She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, leaving a trail of black below her knuckles.
She thought I didn’t want her. I undid the remaining button of my shirt and pulled it around her, nudging her arms into the sleeves. Somehow, she was even more arousing in my shirt than she was in just a thong moments earlier. I knew I needed to be up-front about what I really wanted.
“We need to talk,” I said finally.
She was suddenly livid. “We so do not need to talk. And for the record – because the sooner you learn this, the better off you’ll be and I know they won’t teach you this at Princeton. ‘We need to talk’ is the worst phrase in the English language. No good ever comes from ‘we need to talk’. ‘We need to talk’ is fail.”
As much as I wanted to toss her on the bed and give her what she wanted, it just wasn’t me. I took a deep breath and decided to put it all out there.
“Fine, then. We don’t need to talk. I’ll talk. You listen. You think I don’t want you, which is ridiculous. I want you. I’ve wanted you for longer than you even knew I existed. You walked past me one day in the hallway and I became instantly obsessed. I thought about you constantly. I imagined you naked. I wondered what you look like between your thighs and how it would feel to be inside you. I didn’t know you, but I wanted you. God, how I’ve wanted you. And then when I saw you at the Art Museum in February, I was elated. I could finally talk to you, though I was sure you’d tell me to piss off. I prepared myself for rejection thinking that when you made it clear you wanted nothing to do with me, my obsession with you would go away. I never expected to connect with you emotionally. So yes, Bella, I do want you. I want to do things to you I can’t even bring myself to say out loud. But now that I know you, I can’t just fuck you. Not like this. Not on a first date. You’re worth so much more to than that to me. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve already given me so much. And I want to give it all back to you. I want to give you everything. “
I leaned back on to her bed.
“Come here,‚”I said, pulling her onto my lap. Her hair brushed my chest and even under these circumstances, the feeling of her against me was just so…right.
“I’m sorry, Edward.”
“What are you sorry about? I’m the one who just admitted I stalked you.”
She laughed. “Our night was perfect, and I ruined it.”
“You did no such thing.”
“I should have kept my dress on.”
“Bella, how old are you?”
She was only twenty-four. For some reason, I thought she was older. I then realized I’d made a grown woman cry. I remembered what my mother said about regarding individuals according to how they make us feel, and I had brought Bella to tears.
I was the world’s biggest douche.
I couldn’t erase that, but maybe I could make her laugh.
“The things you haven’t managed to learn in twenty-four years!” I shook my head. “Alright, teacher, allow me to school you. It’s impossible to ruin a guy’s night by showing him your breasts. Breasts can only make things better. I doubt there’s anything in the world that can’t be fixed by boobies in general, and yours are particularly stunning. In fact, going forward I may ask to see them when I get stressed out.”
I hadn’t used the word boobies since I hit puberty, and I suspected by her laughter it was the last thing she’d expected to hear from me. I took it a step further.
“I’m not kidding you know.” I turned her to face me. “Now that I think about it, I’m incredibly stressed at the moment. May I see your breasts, Bella?”
She nodded, giggling and I exposed her breasts. I was blushing again, and I wondered if I would ever get used to sight of her bare skin. She stroked my cheek and gazed up at me. Her eyes, lascivious only moments before brimming with tears, were now filled with trust.
I leaned forward and gently brushed my mouth against hers. It was polite and respectful, and if not for the fact we were half-dressed, it was everything I thought our first kiss would be. She let out a brief whine as I pulled away.
Instinct taking over, I put my hands behind her head and pulled her into me. Her lips were soft but firm, sort of like a latex balloon that had just begun to lose air. I swept my tongue into her mouth and gently rubbed it against her own. Her mouth was hot and wet and shockingly flavorless. Given the texture and color of the human tongue, I’d always imagined female saliva would taste slightly sweet, like strawberries. Though her mouth tasted no different than mine did, her tongue made me forget my own name.
I pulled away, catching a glimpse of her breasts behind my open shirt. Since they were exposed anyway, I lowered my head and kissed each nipple.
“So perfect.” I covered them with my shirt and kissed her forehead. “I should get going.”
“I don’t want you to go,” she protested.
She took my shirt off and handed it back to me. “You’ll need this.”
I couldn’t take my eyes off her breasts as I buttoned my shirt back up. I could only hope the two sides were lined up correctly. I made a mental note to check before I went home. My dad would have a field day if I came home with visible evidence of having been undressed.
I angled my head towards her body. “You’re not making this easy for me.”
She sighed and walked over to her dresser.
“I’ll walk you out‚” she said, after throwing on an over-sized t-shirt.
We walked silently to her front door. She crossed her arms and stood on one foot, touching her ankle with the other. I was amazed how the vixen of just a few minutes ago could look so innocent. And so young. At this moment, she seemed just as nervous as I was.
“I need to see you again‚” I said.
“Okay.” Her shoulders suddenly relaxed.
“Are you free tomorrow for dinner?”
“Great.” I gave her a quick kiss on the lips. “I’ll pick you up at three. My parents will be so excited to meet you.”
She watched me get into my car, and I smiled and waved before I pulled out of her driveway. When I got back to my house, I noticed the light on in the family room. I was extremely annoyed, though not surprised. I straightened my shirt and went inside the back door. My father was sitting on the couch with a book.
“You promised you wouldn’t wait up.”
“I didn’t wait up,” he explained. “I’m having a hard time falling asleep. So how was it? Did it go according to your plan.”
I shook my head.
“What went wrong?” he asked.
“I wouldn’t say anything specifically went wrong.”
“Did you get a base hit?”
“Dad, don’t be crude.”
“I’m not being crude. I just know that you were hoping you would get to kiss her.”
“Without going into too much detail and since you started the whole baseball metaphor thing, let’s just say I went right from t-ball to the major league.”
He looked at me quizzically. “You did use protection, right?”
“We didn’t have sex. You know I would never do that on a first date.”
“Edward, you’ve completely lost me.”
“Do you remember how you said you believed that you could look at someone and just know?”
“I understand what you meant by that now. I’m going to marry Bella. Not next week or next year, but eventually. I just know. I invited her for dinner tomorrow to meet Mom and hopefully get to know you as something besides an over-protective stalker parent.”
“I merely introduced myself to her, and you’re talking like I showed her my gun collection. I was not out of line…”
I glared at him.
“…much,” he qualified, laughing.
“I love how you have fun at my expense,” I said sarcastically.
“In all seriousness, Edward, I’m happy for you. Your mother will be, too, but you need to tell her about Bella before dinner tomorrow night. I’m sure she’ll be supportive, but she deserves advance warning about the age difference and where you first saw her.”
I sighed. “I was kind of hoping you’d take care of that for me.”
He shook his head. “No way in hell. If you’re old enough to play in the big leagues, you’re old enough to behave like a pro.”
“But as my manager, shouldn’t you hold the press conference?”
“Nice try, Edward.‚”He stood up and stretched before heading towards the back stairs.
“Dad?” I called and he turned back to look at me.
“I love you. Thank you for…well…everything.”
“I love you, too. And you’re welcome.”
He disappeared up the steps and I sat on one of the couches, still dazed but incredibly contented.