November 22, 1995
It’s a lot less awkward going to sleep tonight than it was last night, though admittedly that’s not saying much. I know I’ll be sharing Edward’s bed clad only in a borrowed undershirt and my panties. I know he’s going to hold me, kiss me, and get a gigantic boner. More importantly, I know I’m okay with this. I finish brushing my teeth as quickly as possible, anxious to rejoin him.
“Ever thought you’d be the kind of girl to sleep with someone on the first date?” he asks when I come out of the bathroom.
“No,” I admit, giggling.
He doesn’t bother with pajama pants tonight, and when he joins me in bed, he’s wearing nothing but dark gray boxer briefs. There’s a decided bulge next to the opening in the front, and I can’t seem to tear my eyes away from it. Edward sees me looking, and looks at me inquisitively.
I say the first thing that comes into my head.
“Is it weird to pee with your underwear on? Like, aren’t you ever worried you’ll dribble?”
He shakes his head, laughing. “I can’t believe you just asked me that.”
“Don’t be sorry; you’re adorable. And no, I’ve never been worried I’ll dribble. Even when I’m not hard, there’s enough of me down there that I can aim things where they need to go.” He reaches between his legs and takes out his penis. “This isn’t entirely accurate because at the moment I’m semi-erect, but you get the idea.”
Except I don’t get the idea. His hand is wrapped around it in a way that makes it difficult for me to see anything besides the head. Other than the fact it appears to be a much darker color than the rest of him, it’s still largely a mystery. It fascinates me—both his penis and the sight of him touching it.
He gives it a quick tug before tucking it back inside his underwear. Part of me is relieved he didn’t ask for a hand job or a blow job, and at the same time, I’m disappointed he didn’t. I know where we’re headed. It makes me nervous because I’ve never been there, not because I’m not sure I want it or don’t think it’s right.
“You seem like you’re in shock. I didn’t traumatize you or anything, did I?” His words are a tad egotistical, but his eyes are sincere.
“Uh uh.” I shake my head. “I kind of liked it. I mean, penises are kind of funny looking, but that one is attached to you.”
“Is mine funny looking?” he asks, laughing.
“I didn’t see enough of it to judge aesthetics, but if it’s anything like the rest of you, I don’t doubt it’s a perfect male specimen.”
“Do you realize what you’re saying? If penises are funny looking, and mine is the perfect specimen, doesn’t that mean my penis is the funniest looking of all?”
“Possibly, but in a good way.”
“You know, as amusing as this conversation is, part of me is offended.”
“I bet I can guess which part…”
I’m giggling as he pulls me into his arms and kisses me. It’s gentle at first—teasing—and though it’s nice, I want more. So I kiss him. I nibble, lick, suck, and when it’s still not enough, I climb on top of him. Straddling his hips between my thighs, I can feel him pressed against me. If he wasn’t fully erect before, there’s no doubt he is now. When I grind against him, he moans into my mouth. I think he’s beautiful, and I’ve never wanted anything as much as I want to see it. As long as we’re in this position, I won’t.
I take my mouth off his, and move so that I’m kneeling beside him.
“Is everything okay?” he asks.
“Yeah.” I run my fingers down his chest to the springy hairs around his belly-button. They’re surprisingly soft, and for a few seconds, I trace circles around his navel. Then my hand goes lower, to the waistband of his boxer briefs.
His chest rises and falls with each of his audible breaths, and though I don’t have a clue what I’m doing, I feel like I’m the one in control, that he’ll give me whatever I ask for.
“Will you take these off?”
Less than a second passes before he lifts his hips off the bed and pushes his underwear down his legs. His penis springs free, standing at attention. For a while, I just stare at it, taking in all the details—the veins on the shaft, the slit on the tip, the hair on his nutsack.
“Still think it’s funny looking?” he asks.
“Now that it’s hard, your penis is pretty. I’m sorry if I offended it. Your testicles on the other hand…well…they’re kind of hilarious.”
His laughter makes his penis move, and though I want to touch it, I don’t know how.
“You’re not going to hurt it,” he says, as if reading my thoughts.
“Well, not if you show me.”
He tries to put my hand on his penis, but I pull it away.
“That’s not what I meant.”
“What, are you asking for a demonstration?”
“If you don’t mind.”
He wraps his hand around his shaft and starts to pump it up and down, twisting his wrist on each downward stroke. It’s fascinating until I look up at his face, and as curious as I am about what’s going on in his hand, but I can’t tear my eyes away. His movements are making the muscles in his arms flex, and he moans each time he exhales. He smiles when he sees me looking, and I’m not sure if he’s more into getting himself off or the fact that I’m watching him do so. It doesn’t matter; his face is beautiful regardless.
“I’m close.” He reaches for a tissue with his spare hand.
I take it away from him. “Do it on me.”
“I want it,” I insist. “On me. Please.”
Almost instantly, he closes his eyes and lets out a long moan. The white liquid on my thighs is warm and thick. For a while, I just stare at it—not because it’s cum, but because of who it came from.
November 23, 1995
After I get out of the shower, I head right to the kitchen and start to work on dinner. Though I wasn’t surprised to discover Edward was serious when he asked if I knew how to cook a turkey, I never expected he’d be so excited by the prospect of a traditional Thanksgiving meal. He’s more like a little boy on Christmas than a grown man on Thanksgiving. It’s a side to him I didn’t know he had, and I like it. This morning, he’s not godlike, nor is he working toward spending immortality on a pedestal surrounded by white columns down by the river. I’m grateful for it—that part of him intimidates me. But this part—the part of him that wears jeans and flannel and gets excited over food—I love. What’s more, I think I love him.
I don’t have any experience with love, but my mom always says if you have to wonder if you’re feeling it, you probably aren’t. And I do wonder, but not because I doubt what I’m feeling. I just never thought I could fall in love so fast. So I think maybe I’m wrong based on that alone. Then I look at him watching me, and I want to make him happy more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life. And I know that’s love; I just don’t know what to do about it.
“Are you going to stare at me like that all day?” I ask.
“Probably,” he says, laughing. “You have to understand, I haven’t had a real Thanksgiving in years.”
“You consider this a real Thanksgiving? I mean, it’s just the two of us and we’ll be eating on the floor–”
“Everything about this is real.”
His eyes are serious, and I wonder if maybe he feels it, too.
“How did you learn to cook?” he asks.
“My mother. It’s the only thing we both enjoy doing, though honestly I have more fun with it when she’s not around. She’s very by-the-book; I like to do things my own way.”
“I can tell. I mean, I can’t even boil a pot of water, but I’ve eaten enough stuffing to know that dried cranberries and stale pumpkin muffins aren’t typical ingredients.”
“It’s my own recipe, and it works with chicken as well. It’s yummy; you’ll just have to trust me.”
“I hope you like red,” he says, opening a bottle of wine. “I didn’t think to ask—at my parents’ house, we always had Beaujolais on Thanksgiving.”
“I’ve never had it.”
“Wine.” I feel weird admitting this, but not for the usual reason. In this case, it’s not an age-difference thing as much as it’s a class-difference thing—and that’s something that will never change. “My dad only drinks beer; my mom doesn’t drink at all. Though I’ve drank a few times on campus, wine doesn’t exactly rank well on the buzz-per-buck scale.”
“That’s drinking to get drunk, which is different. Think of this as part of the meal.” He pours two glasses, one of which he hands to me. “Don’t drink it yet; it needs to breathe. If you swirl the glass around a little, it will help it along.”
I stare at the red liquid in my glass, feeling a sort of kinship. I need help breathing around Edward, too.
“Why don’t you sit down?” He gestures to a stadium blanket spread out on the floor. “You’ve done so much work. The least I can do is serve you.”
I sit on the floor and wait for him to join me. When he does, he’s holding a single plate of food. He doesn’t exactly serve me—he feeds me, one bite at a time. Though no one has fed me since I was a baby, I don’t feel like a child. Quite the opposite—I almost feel like a woman. And I want more than anything to be one.
After we clean up dinner, we get ready for bed. It’s the same as the night before—I change into one of his white undershirts, and he forgoes pajama pants. I’m sitting at his computer when he comes out of the bathroom, naked except for a pair of boxers.
“Come to bed,” he says.
“I’m not sleepy.”
“Who said anything about going to sleep?” He stretches out on the bed then pushes himself up onto his knees, beckoning to me with his index finger.
I get up from his desk and stand beside the bed. When he’s close enough to reach, he tugs on the hem of my shirt.
“I want to take this off,” he says.
He’s seen me topless once before, but this time, I’ll be wearing nothing but panties. It feels like it’s too soon.
It also feels inevitable.
He lifts my shirt over my head and discards it. Right away, I feel exposed. I look at the floor as I cross my arms over my chest.
“Because I’m so inexperienced.” I close my eyes, sighing. “You’ve probably never had to work so hard only to have to take matters into your own hands.”
“This isn’t about that.”
“By your own admission, you’re extremely sexual.”
“I am, but that doesn’t mean I have any expectations. The problem is that I don’t know what you’re thinking. You could be hiding yourself because you’re not ready for me to see you naked, or it could be because you’re afraid I won’t like what I see. If it’s the first reason, that’s fine—I don’t want you to do anything you don’t want to do. If it’s the second…which is it?”
I can’t bring myself to look at him, so I just hold up two fingers.
“Bella?” I look up at him in surprise.
“Hasn’t anyone ever called you that?”
“No. I’ve always been Izzy—well, until I met you, and you insisted on calling me Isabella.”
“Bella means beautiful–”
“That’s probably why no one calls me it,” I mutter under my breath.
“–and I think it suits you.”
“Okay.” I don’t agree with him, but I’ll let him call me whatever he wants.
“Now, Bella.” He takes my hands and pulls me toward him. “I think it’s time for bed.”
When we get under the covers, we’re skin to skin except for my panties and his boxers, I fall asleep in his arms, feeling like I belong here.
November 22, 2009
After the door closes behind us, Edward and I linger in the foyer. It’s tense being alone with him again, but not in the way I thought it would be. I no longer feel as if I need to prove my maturity, my intelligence, or my value to society, nor am I compelled to hide the extent to which his presence affects me. It doesn’t matter—now that he’s seen me cry, I’m past pretending. Relief comes with humiliation but it’s a relief nonetheless, and for the first time since I spotted him at the airport, I feel like myself. It’s a nice feeling, even if I know it’s not necessarily an improvement.
We’re standing a foot away from each other, despite the fact we had no problem at all touching while we were out in the hallway. Then there was a level of safety in knowing we could be interrupted at any moment. Now that’s no longer the case, there’s nothing stopping us from taking things too far. Part of me wants nothing more than to get carried away, to lose myself in him. I don’t trust myself to look at him without losing my resolve, so I look around his apartment instead. The layout is spacious, the views are spectacular, and the decor is both modern and decidedly impersonal. It’s more who he wants people to think he is than who I know him to be. Then again, my information is painfully outdated.
“I want you to relax, to feel at home here,” he says. “Would you like something to drink? I doubt I have any wine that would be up to your standards, but I try to keep a decently stocked bar.”
“Armagnac is fine.”
“Apparently, not decently enough.” He shakes his head. “Armagnac? Really?”
“It’s okay; most people don’t keep it around.”
“Most people don’t know what it is. Why do I get the sense you always have it on hand?’
“Because I do,” I say, shrugging. “But it’s okay. I’ll have whatever you’re having.”
I follow him to the dry bar in the corner. He pauses for moment, then pours a finger of Macallan for each of us.
“I hope this is okay,” he says, handing me a glass.
“It’s perfect. Thank you.”
As I raise the double old-fashioned to my lips, he watches me, shaking his head.
“Every time I look at you…”
“What?” I ask.
“The last time I saw you, you were twenty-two years old. Until yesterday, that was how I pictured you—with waist-length hair, a round face, torn jeans and beat-up Docs. I knew in theory your looks must have changed, but it’s nothing like having you in front of me. It’s going to take some getting used to—seeing you as an adult.”
“I’ve been an adult for as long as you’ve known me; what you’re having difficulty with is seeing me as your equal.”
“That’s not what this is about. Fourteen years ago, I gave you your first glass of wine. Now you’re asking if I have armagnac then forcing yourself to be content with single malt. As much as it feels like I know you, I’m painfully aware that I probably don’t. I can’t imagine you feel much different about me.”
“Oh, I feel completely different about you,” I say. “Not only do I see pictures of you all the time, you’re on CNN and C-SPAN—there’s video and sound to go with them. Needless to say, I knew exactly how you’d aged. I was prepared for all of it—well, almost. The wrinkles around your mouth and on your forehead kind of catch me off-guard sometimes.”
“Is this your way of saying I look old?” he asks, sounding offended.
“It’s my way of saying you have wrinkles.”
“You know, there’s this thing most of us do before we run our mouths—perhaps you’ve heard of it—it’s called thinking. Are you at all familiar with this concept?”
“I am.” I drink the rest of my scotch and place the empty glass on the bar. “However, you told me to make myself at home–”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
I shrug. “At home, I can’t even be bothered to put on pants most of the time—let alone think before I speak.”
“Ah, so there we have it. If you weren’t wearing pants right now, I wouldn’t be concerned with what comes out of your mouth, either.” He steps toward me and pulls my body tightly against his. “Just what comes inside it.”
I should be offended, but I’m not. He knew I wouldn’t be, because I know how he is. Once upon a time, I may have loved him for it—for making me feel sexy, desirable, and consequently whole. As much as I want to give in to it, I don’t. If I do, I’ll be lost forever.
“You’re being very forward.”
“It’s somewhat irresponsible of you, given your position.”
“Doesn’t this concern you?
“But it doesn’t.”
“Because I meant what I said on the plane.”
“That it’s nice touching base with your constituents?”
“Right. Because you know I’ve done this with everyone who lives in the state of Illinois.” His hands drop to an inappropriate section of my back, and he pulls me even more tightly against him. He briefly sucks my earlobe into his mouth before whispering, “You know very well that’s not what I’m talking about.”
“I’m sorry. You told me a lot of things during our flight out here. Unfortunately, right before you left you treated me as if I were just another registered voter. That rendered the bulk of your sentiments invalid.”
“Is that how I’m treating you now?”
“No. At the moment, you’re treating me like I’m just another registered voter you’d like to fuck.” Hearing myself say the words is more than I can take and, just like that, I’m sobbing again. My knees are weak and my body’s trembling, and if not for his arms around me, I’d be on the floor. I hate that I need him, and I need him so much—to feel content, to feel alive…Hell, at the moment I even need him to stand.
“Let me go,” I say, trying to wiggle out of his arms.
“Let me go!”
“Why? Why do you even care?”
“Because I love you.” He holds me even tighter, and when he speaks again, his voice breaks. “I love you, Bella. And I need you too much to ever let you leave me again.”