January 8, 2001
Carlisle’s barely looked at me since the bar the other night, and now is not an exception—his eyes stay focused on the countertop as I walk into the kitchen. We make eye contact for all of a second before he turns his attention back to prepping dinner.
“Interesting choice of attire,” he says. “I was wondering where that one went.”
I look down at my chest; I’m wearing one of his U2 tour shirts.
“Do you want it back?” I ask. “You said it didn’t bother you–”
“It doesn’t.” He pulls the sharpening rod from the its block and runs it against the blade of the cheese knife with hard, quick strokes.
“I’m sorry.” I don’t know what else to tell him.
“Why?” He puts the rod away then leans on the countertop, sighing. “You haven’t done anything I haven’t told you it was okay to do.”
“I know.” I think back to last week and everything I wanted to do that I didn’t.
He pours some honey onto a slice of Pecorino and offers it to me. As I raise my hand to take it, it occurs to me talking isn’t the way to go about this—what I need to do is show him I want him, but I just don’t know how. With Edward, I almost never initiated sex—mostly because he intimidated the crap out of me. Sex was the one aspect of our relationship in which he usually didn’t try to make me into someone I’m not; I didn’t think I could have handled it he were to criticize my performance there, too.
But I can’t imagine Carlisle doing that. If anything, he makes me embrace the person I already am—a person who, at the moment, wants to go to bed with him. I’m almost positive I’ll fuck up telling him, so I’m left with no choice but to show him.
So I eat the cheese right out of his hand.
“Do you like it?” he asks.
“Yes. In fact, I’d like to try some more, if that’s okay with you.”
He starts drizzling honey on another piece.
I shake my head. “I’m not talking about that.”
Come on, Izzy. You can do this.
I raise his hand to my lips and suck his index finger into my mouth. He gasps and, though his face betrays his shock, he doesn’t pull away from me. If anything, he leans a bit closer.
“Izzy…” he says, his voice breathy. “You have no idea what this is doing to me.”
I release his finger from my mouth, but I don’t let go of his hand. “Then tell me.”
He presses my hand against the front of his pants. I can feel him through the fabric, and he’s hard.
Even after I rejected him, even after I hurt him, even though I’m a total spazz, he’s hard.
“You want me?” I ask.
Nodding, he pulls his hand away. Almost involuntarily, my hand closes around him, my thumb brushing across the tip through his pants.
“Seriously? I thought I’d ruined any chance I had with you. Most guys–”
“Goddamn it, Izzy, I’m a man!”
The next thing I know, his tongue is in my mouth. Unlike last week, I don’t panic and I don’t run away. I kiss him back, marveling at the way his goatee tickles my face.
“Do you want me to stop?”
“No. Oh, god, no. It’s just…Shit, I don’t even know how to say this.”
He moves my hand away from his cock and lays it on the countertop, covering it with his own.
“I think it would be easier for us to talk if we weren’t so distracted,” he says.
“Oh, believe me—I’m still distracted. Carlisle…” I take a deep breath. “If we do this…I’m just worried things will change between us.”
“Last week I told you I was in love with you. I think it’s safe to say they already have.”
“I don’t want to use you for sex.”
He laughs. “I’ll let you in on a little secret—it isn’t possible to use a man for sex.”
“You know what I mean…I just don’t want…” I sigh.
“What do you want?”
I breathe in deep and focus on his eyes. “I want you to take off my clothes. I mean, if you want to…” I look down at the floor again. “Shit.”
He touches my face and angles my head toward his.
“I want to,” he says. “I want you.”
I close my eyes and swallow hard. When I open them, I can’t bring myself to look at him.
“Relax, Izzy. It’s just me.”
“I know—but before you, there was just him.”
He presses his lips to mine; this time, it’s close-mouthed and gentle. With one hand at the base of my neck, he slides the other under the hem of my t-shirt. When I feel his calloused thumb against my skin I stop thinking.
“And now?” he asks.
“What do you mean?”
He kisses from my mouth to my ear. “Who are you with now?”
“Only you,” I tell him.
At the moment, it’s true.
We stand there kissing and as close as he is, he’s not close enough. I pull him tighter against me then lower my hand to the back of his pants. The waistband is elastic, and my hand just slides underneath. The skin on his ass is soft and hot and makes me want to feel all of him against all of me. Before I can take off his shirt, my jeans and panties are around my ankles and he’s lifting me up onto the kitchen island. He kisses a path up my legs, his goatee brushing against my inner thighs, until he’s kissing me there. He licks and sucks, and when I come, it’s the kind of orgasm I feel everywhere. When my breathing starts to return to normal, he places a final kiss on my clit then lifts me into his arms.
“I’m sorry,” he says. “I hadn’t thought about how cold the counter would be.”
“You’re apologizing for that?” I ask, laughing. “I didn’t mind. Fuck, I didn’t even notice—at least, not until after…Can I say wow?” I reach up and brush my fingers across his goatee. “I felt this—you know—there.”
“Why do you think I have it?”
My jaw drops. “Really?”
He shakes his head. “Now let’s get you warm.”
He’s laughing as he carries me to his room and lays me down on his bed. I pull him closer and wrap my legs around his hips. For a while we lie like this—him on top of me with his head propped up on one of his elbows and a contentment in his eyes I’ve never before seen.
I free his hair from its ponytail, watching as it falls to his shoulders. He leans forward and kisses me. It’s slow at first, playful. When I slide my tongue into his mouth, I taste what I assume is me. I’m still deciding how I feel about that when he starts pulling on my t-shirt.
“As much of a turn-on it is for me to see you in nothing but my shirt, it needs to go.”
I don’t know why, but the prospect of showing him my breasts makes me nervous. Then again, I was nervous showing them to Edward, too. I take a deep breath and raise my arms over my head. I fold my arms over my chest the second I feel cool air against my nipples.
I expect Carlisle to make fun of me for being weird about my boobs, or at the very least, to tease me about it. He’s twenty-nine years old; most girls his age are more comfortable in their own skin. Who am I kidding? Most girls my age are more comfortable in their own skin.
“Izzy…” His voice is tender. “I’ve seen them before, you know.”
“The context was different. You didn’t have to pretend you liked them.”
He laughs. “No, I had to pretend I didn’t like them—or at the very least, that I didn’t notice them—until I was back in my room where I could jerk off.”
I roll my eyes. “Right.”
He presses his lips to my cheek then kisses a trail down my neck to where my hands are covering my chest.
“I love you,” he whispers. “And I wouldn’t change anything about you.” He tugs my hand away from one of my breasts, replacing it with his lips. “Not this…” As he sucks my nipple into his mouth, he pulls on my other hand. “And certainly not this.” He gives my other breast the same treatment.
It’s a strange thing—being naked beneath him while he’s still fully clothed. If I were with Edward like this, I’d feel self-conscious, but here with Carlisle, I don’t. If anything, I feel empowered and desired—but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to see him.
“You’re wearing too many clothes.”
As I pull his shirt over his head, he strips out of his chef pants and boxer briefs. I’ve seen him bare-chested more times than I can count, but it’s nothing like the sight of him kneeling naked between my legs. For a while, I just look at him—his sculpted chest muscles, his tattoos, the trail of golden hair on his chest that gets darker and thicker the lower it goes, the part of him that’s hard and thick. He’s different down there from Edward, and it takes me a moment to understand why.
“You aren’t circumcised?”
He shakes his head. “Uh-uh.”
I reach for it, but stop just shy of touching it. “May I?”
“Please,” he whispers.
The extra skin feels strange at first, but it makes it that much easier to slide my hand up and down him. I use my other hand to pull his head toward mine. This time, I can’t contain my giggle.
“What?” he asks.
“I’m not used to tasting myself.”
I let go of him down there and wrap both arms around his neck. He teases me as we kiss, almost entering me then pulling away, until all of a sudden, he’s lying on his back on the other side of the bed. I wonder what I did wrong until I see him pull a condom from the drawer of his bedside table.
“Oh. You don’t have to,” I tell him. “I’m on the pill, and I trust you.”
He shrugs. “I’ve never done it without one.”
“I’ve never done it with one. Ed—” I stop myself. I don’t want to say Edward’s name while I’m in bed with Carlisle. “Uh, I was told it doesn’t feel good.”
“Trust me, Izzy. It’s going to feel good,” he says, tearing open the wrapper.
“But will I feel you?”
“I love that you trust me, but I love you too much to risk it.”
I watch in fascination as he unrolls the rubber onto himself. When it’s in place, he pulls me so I’m straddling him. Ever so slowly, I lower myself onto him. God, how I’ve missed this.
From the beginning, he lets me set the pace. When I get used to having him inside me, I start to ride him harder. He flips me onto my back and does this thing with his hips that changes the way he rubs against my walls. Slow and steady, he slides in and out, in and out. Somehow, he manages not to come until after I do.
A few hours later, we’re at it again. As a lover, he’s both skilled and generous, and his tongue could make me forget about everything in the world.
Edward holds up his hand. “I’m not asking anyone to go anywhere.”
“Fine.” William pushes the door open and, looking at Edward, gestures toward the hallway. “After you.”
Carlisle calls after them. “For real, Dad?”
He says the word dad as if it’s an insult.
“Out, Edward,” William says, ignoring Carlisle.
What does William think he has, a dog?
“It’s going to be like this?” Carlisle jeers. “I shouldn’t be surprised. I mean in thirty-nine years, you’ve never called or come to see me. But now we’re in the same room and you’re looking at me…”
When William turns to the door, Carlisle starts to yell.
“For god’s sake, look at me! Look at me and tell me you don’t feel anything.”
William turns to Edward. “I’ll meet you in the hall.”
Edward’s eyes widen. “Please, sir. Don’t. Believe me, he isn’t going to–”
“Edward.” William’s voice increases in both pitch and volume from one syllable to the next.
“I’m not going anywhere.” Edward folds his arms across his chest.
“Have you lost your mind?” William asks him.
“No, sir. If anything, I found my conscience.” Edward looks at Carlisle; his expression shifts from defiance to empathy. “I’m sorry; you don’t deserve this.”
William glares at Sarah. “You know very well I don’t play games. I’m not sure why you’re here–”
She rolls her eyes. “William, your daughter went into cardiac arrest at my son’s house. Carlisle and I gave her CPR.”
“You just happened to be there?” He laughs. “How convenient for you! Tell me: how much do you want?”
“I don’t want anything.”
“Someone had to do something.” She shakes her head, sighing. “I’m here because I care what happens to your daughter—that’s all. I have no idea why you think I’d –”
“How much do you want, Sarah?” he repeats. “You must have a number in mind; you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t.”
She doesn’t flinch; her eyes remain focused on William.
“If you’d all excuse us for a moment,” she says, “I’d like to speak to William privately.”
Carlisle puts his hand on her shoulder. “Ma–”
“I’ll be fine, Sweetheart.”
His skepticism shows on his face.
“Really.” Her smile is one of sadness and determination.
He glares at William. “I’ll be right outside.”
Once the three of us are out in the hallway, the door slams shut behind us.
After a while, Carlisle leans against the wall and sighs. “When your—I mean—our father asked you to leave, you said you were sorry. Why?”
“I knew what was coming,” Edward says softly. “He’s done this before.”
Carlisle gulps. “So there are others? I mean, besides us…”
“I don’t think so.”
“Then how did you know he’d…” Carlisle shakes his head. “I don’t even know what to call what just happened in there.”
“Bribery is part of how he operates,” Edward says. “It usually works. Throw enough money at most people, they’ll do anything…”
“Vote for anyone?” Carlisle asks.
Edward shrugs then offers him a sad smile. “Something like that.”
Before I can ask him to elaborate, I notice one of Alice’s doctors coming toward us. I search his face for some clue as to how Alice is doing and come up empty. If anything, he just looks tired. We probably all do.
I reach for Edward’s hand. For a second or two, he leans against me. He takes a deep breath and approaches the doctor.
“Is there news?” he asks.
“Her condition is critical, but she’s stabilized. We’re still not sure what caused her to go into cardiac arrest. She’s awake, and if you keep it short, you can see her.”
Edward grabs my hand and starts pulling me down the hallway with him.
The doctor holds up his hand. “One person at a time and family only.”
“Thank you,” Edward says.
We take a few steps before Edward stops. He calls over his shoulder to Carlisle. “Are you coming?”
Carlisle looks startled. “Uh…no. I need to call Esme, and I should wait here. You know, just in case…” He nods toward the door. “Besides, my being there wouldn’t make any sense to Alice, and she’s been through enough today. But if there’s news about her condition…you’ll come find me?”
Edward nods. “Of course.”
Before we turn the corner, I look over my shoulder at Carlisle to make sure he’s okay.
He’s smiling Edward’s smile.