Chapter 9

Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer & Little Brown Publishing own all rights

Edward Cullen was a habitual planner. His routine afforded him the luxury of planning things down to the minute. However, where Rosalie Hale was concerned, he found that careful planning flew out the window, and he was anxious to be with her sooner than when he’d said. Therefore, it was no real surprise when, at eighteen minutes to seven, he found himself standing outside her apartment door. He’d tried to arrive on time, rather than early, even stopping at the corner market and lingering in the aisle, looking mindlessly around before realizing he was standing next to pregnancy tests. A few minutes later, he’d exited with breath mints and the bunch of white lilies he clutched in his hand; they had reminded him of her. Although, if he were being completely honest, everything did in some way, shape, or form.

He stood before her apartment for a moment, shifting from one foot to the other, not entirely convinced that this was actually happening. He felt as though the hallway had a surreal quality to it, a hazy detached aura that blurred everything in his vision except her door. He chewed up his breath mint and swallowed it as he lifted his free hand to the small buzzer. He paused for a moment when he realized his hand was on the verge of shaking noticeably. Pulling it back, he allowed it to fall to his side. Although Edward was a man of decision he was not one to rush the natural course of things. Yet, as he took a moment to quiet his nerves he was struck again by the irony of his feelings. Part of him was as nervous as any guy would’ve been on his first real adult date, because that’s exactly what this was for Edward; grown-up and real. Most of him, however, wanted nothing more than to knock that door down and show her exactly what he was feeling.

With a nervous and excited grin on his face, he decided to forgo the doorbell and rapped decisively. He heard the creaking of floorboards as Rose neared the door, but he’d have felt her approach even if he’d been deaf, so attuned were they with one another. The knob rattled, he heard the sliding of a chain lock, the door opened and she was smiling just as nervously as he.

“Hello,” she said and fiddled with the door knob.

“Hello,” he returned, and smiled sheepishly as he held the flowers out to her, reminding himself not to push them into her hand, as he had done the pie.

“They’re beautiful, Edward, thank you,” she said and took them from him. “Would you like to come in while I find a vase?” Brilliant, Rosalie. As if you’d just leave him standing out in the hall?They were being overly formal and they both grimaced internally, feeling ridiculously uncomfortable. This was out of the realm of normal for them, out of the carefully built boxes they had placed themselves in.

“Yes, please.”

She moved aside to allow him entrance then closed the door behind him. In that moment, the reality hit them both. He was not her boss, he was simply Edward. They were alone, in Rose’s apartment, unencumbered by professional obligations of propriety but weighed down with the tension that coursed between them. They could do exactly what they wished and be exactly who they were. They could be together. Their eyes met and the shy smiles vanished, replaced by matching vibrant ones. This was real and this is what they wanted. She felt as though her whole body flushed with warmth. He shuffled his feet as a hand went to the back of his neck and her shot her his smile.

“I’m going to put these in water,” she said in a slight daze as she scurried off to the kitchen.

Eyes closed.

Her ears strained to hear every movement of Edward’s on the other side of the wall: the placing of his charcoal coat onto the arm of her couch, the low murmur of his voice as he spoke to Mr. Holland, the noise of his shoe against the hardwood floor before it was muffled by the area rug. Wits, words, they were all a lost cause. Instead of thinking, she knew she just needed to act. Let her emotions and passion drive her; it had been denied for too long.

Eyes open.

“Did you have an idea of what you want for dinner?” Rosalie called to him as she stood in the kitchen, trying to remind herself of why she was standing there in the first place. Flowers. She glanced down to look at the bouquet he had brought for her. Her hands rested on the very counter where he’d leaned a little more than a month prior, when they danced around these feelings. She’d come to the kitchen under the pretense of getting water for the flowers he had brought but now that she was far – hidden on the other side of the thin plaster wall – she only wanted to be near. She didn’t want to dance any more. She wanted to embrace them.

“No. I was going to make reservations but I wasn’t sure what you were in the mood for, so I figured we’d just happen upon something that we both wanted,” he called back. The words held many different meanings and she wondered if he realized it or if the words were unintentional.

Eyes closed.

Go to him, Rosalie. Go with your heart and your…

Eyes open.

Hastily, she found a pitcher, ran the water, and placed the flowers in it. It had been quite some time since she’d received flowers and while she tried to remember to buy them for herself occasionally, life happened and things got in the way of indulgent luxuries.

She knew she just needed to be near Edward, to close the gap that they’d been trying, so valiantly, to keep between them. The walls that had been carefully resurrected months ago were finally able to crumble, both of them climbing over the rubble to one another. She wasn’t exactly sure how things would go on their first date; to be perfectly honest, it was a bit awkward even referring to it as their first date. She really considered that to be the evening at Archie’s, when she had come clean to Alice about her feelings for him.

Edward sat at the edge of her couch, leaning over to pet Mr. Holland as she wound her way through his legs, pressing short hairs of orange and white into the fabric of his pants. He tried to admonish her, explaining in a hissed whisper that he was trying to impress her owner, but Mr. Holland paid no heed to his words. Sighing in resignation, his fingers scratched behind her ears, as she happily purred. He wished that he could have brought Jack on this dinner date. He really should have thought about the conditions more carefully before insisting that they have dinner out, especially since most restaurants weren’t too keen on having animals as patrons.

Why didn’t I invite her to my apartment? Oh, that’s right, because that’s too forward and it would appear I was only trying to get her in my bed.

Which would be nice. But not… immediately necessary. Maybe next month? How long do these things take?

The past couple of hours had sent Edward into a tailspin. He was valiantly trying to pull out of it and get his head in the game. What game? I have no game. Hesitation no longer had a place with them, and yet, he hesitated. His relationship experience was so limited. Now he was finally there, surrounded in her home by the essence of her and they finally were able to proceed; only he wasn’t exactly sure what that looked like.

Edward was a methodical man; he knew that the right thing would be to take her to dinner. There was an order to things and tonight was dinner. It’s why he was so insistent on their having dinner while they valiantly tried to not take things too far in the practice room. Rosalie deserved to be treated with the devotion in which they treated their instruments.

“You’re looking pensive, Edward. Everything all right?” Looking up, he forgot about his hesitation and second-guessing for a moment when he saw her beaming down at him, sunshine smile and sparkling eyes.

Clearing his throat, he stood, not sure if they were going to stay at her apartment longer or head straight out. “Just thinking about a composition I was working on earlier. The melody is haunting me but I get to one portion and then… nothing. It’s very frustrating.” And it was. It wasn’t what he’d been thinking about in the moments before but it was always there, the song he heard in his mind when they were together.

“The notes will come, Edward. Just give it time and inspiration will find you when you least expect it.” Soft smiles and light hearts were shared, each drawn to the other, meeting in the middle. She leaned forward and kissed him, careful to stop before things could move in a more serious direction. “A little inspiration to get you off on the right foot.”

“Thank you for that.” He dipped his head, capturing her mouth once again and she melted into him a bit before they both pulled back. “I, uh, suppose we should head out? Are there places nearby that you enjoy?”

“There are, but…” she paused, thinking how she’d rather stay there. She knew sometimes it took him awhile to open up, especially when other people were around. And selfishly, she wanted him to herself after having been surrounded by people the past month.

His fingers caressed the crown of her head, happily stroking the long blonde waves he so desired to weave his fingers through, before gently tipping her chin with the other hand. “But what, Rose?”

“How about we order in, instead. Pizza maybe?”

“Pizza? Are you sure you don’t want more? I envisioned candlelight and wine and quiet conversation.”

You are my more. And we can do all those things here. I just… I don’t want to share you with anyone.” At least not for a little while. In that moment, for that night, she wanted him completely to herself. Perhaps it was selfish, but as far as Rosalie was concerned, it never hurt to be a little selfish when matters of the heart were on the line. “Plus, we’ll have time for going out, wining and dining. After all, I believe that was part of the non-negotiable terms and conditions, as stated by you and agreed to by me, in the practice room approximately four hours ago.”

He smiled at her mention of the practice room but more at her admission of not wanting to share him.

“Pizza it is,” he agreed. He was grateful she had taken control and in doing so, had given him what he wanted too. He wondered if she would always be able to speak his desires before he knew them himself.

[~*~*~]

They both settled on the couch, their thighs touching. He kept glancing down at where their legs pressed together and she inwardly smiled at his reaction. A quiet dinner in her apartment afforded them closeness and a sense of comfort that they wouldn’t have had at a restaurant. Instead they were here, together, and he knew what he wanted. I If he was reading all of the signs correctly, he knew she wanted the same. But tragically, overanalysis was a flaw of his when it came to… everything. They ate their messy pizza in the silence that chewing enforced and Edward began thinking, which for Edward could be dangerous. What if we don’t work? What if she gave it all up for nothing? He felt guilty over Rose’s resignation. Surely she too felt the intensity of emotion that continued to draw him to her. She willingly gave up her position in the orchestra to follow her heart, as he had been willing to do. Edward was deeply touched by what she’d done.

“Edward? What are you thinking?”

He said nothing, unsure of how to begin after so many months or repressing his thoughts where she was concerned.

“I promise you, whatever you’re thinking, I’ve probably felt the same.” It was what he’d said to her on Thanksgiving.

“I was thinking that you’re a brilliant cellist with a promising future, a future you gave up for me,” he said, taking the empty plate from her lap and setting it, along with his own, on the coffee table in front of them.

Rose’s brow crinkled. “I don’t see it quite that way.”

“Tell me how you see it.” He took up the free hand resting in her lap. His green eyes were more calm and serene than when he’d arrived but the firm, yet gentle grip in which he encased her hand betrayed his worry.

“To begin with, it was never a goal of mine to play for an orchestra specifically. My outlook and priorities changed,” she said, remembering her near fatal encounter with the bus. “I knew something was missing in my life, I just wasn’t sure what it was. I was searching, and being part of the orchestra helped me find exactly what it was I was missing.”

He kept his gaze even, and was grateful the thunderous pounding in his chest was relatively silent. “What were you missing, Rose?” His hand unconsciously squeezed hers a little tighter.

“I was missing this,” she said, waving her hand between the small distance between them. “Whatever this is, or could be.” She didn’t want to say love, even though she was almost positive that’s what she felt. He smiled his smile again, his eyes falling bashfully to the couch cushion, his eyelashes casting long shadows across his cheekbones in the soft light. Then his frown returned.

“I’m afraid you might regret it some day. What if you start to resent us? Things like that tear couples apart Rose; I’ve seen it happen.”

She wanted to dismiss his absurdity; as if it were possible she could ever regret giving up anything that kept her apart from him. Not to mention, he just worried too much. Her free hand moved up his forearm and through his thin sweater she could feel his tension sear her fingertips. The middle of his noble brow was drawn in guilty torment. Rose brushed her fingertips from his temple through his hair down to his neck and felt some of his tension dissipate. Her hand squeezed his as she leaned in a little closer.

“I don’t know if we’re going to work out. I don’t expect you to know either. But I am sure that I would regret not knowing what might be between us if we didn’t try.”

He smiled and moved closer, too, as he brought her hand to his lips. He wondered what he’d done to be so fortunate as to find someone as giving and full of life, willing to risk her career on the chance of something wonderful. “Before you, I’d lost myself,” he began to confess as his lips ghosted over her fingers. “I floated, not sure of when or even if I’d find my way back to where I’d once been. I’d forgotten that feeling of sublime joy I once got, not only from making music but hearing it too.” He brought his lips to her cheek, placing tender slow kisses toward her ear.

She nodded, taking his words and internalizing them as though they were her own. Her own words were a seamless continuation, and it was difficult to tell where his heart had stopped speaking and hers had begun. “I was looking for something more. I was doing what I always did; I looked to music. Music is comforting, it’s where my passion lies. But, Edward, being with you? Playing together and realizing that there are people who truly do share my passion, it made me realize that missing link. People. One person, in particular. You,” she murmured, her eyes shut.

“Songs that I’ve heard many times over had lost their meaning somewhere along the way. I hear them now and they’re all revitalized, like I’m hearing them for the first time. You taught me how to listen again, Rose. You gave me back my passion for music.” His soft voice went hoarse at the end of his statement and he brought his lips back to hers. Rosalie’s lips were reassuring and her kiss told Edward to breathe. Relax. Enjoy. The fusion was delicious and Edward allowed himself to push his worries aside. She seemed resolute and sure of her decision, and he had to trust that she knew what she wanted. He knew what he wanted, and now he just counted himself incredibly lucky that he could keep close to him what he held most dear: his Rosalie and his career. For he well knew that rarely was anyone so fortunate in life.

The minutes passed and the kiss grew deeper as they became comfortable enjoying each other this way. Edward’s hands ached to touch her where it wasn’t gentlemanly to touch a lady on a first date. Her fingers itched to unzip his sweater and peel it off of him, but she knew that wasn’t very ladylike. Just as she was about to say to hell with propriety, Mr. Holland meowed right in her ear. Opening her eyes, she saw the cat next to their heads, happily perched on the back of the couch.

“It’s okay, I’m used to it. Jack likes to watch, too,” Edward teased. Rose laughed before remembering why Mr. Holland would do such a thing.

“She’s hungry. She’s usually been fed by now,” she murmured, pulling away and standing up, the moment now past. Edward stood too, attempting to help Rosalie clean up. “No, no, sit. Two plates and a pizza box don’t make for heavy lifting. Besides, with hauling my cello all around, I could sell tickets to the gun show.” She winked and flexed to underscore her punchline before collecting their plates, carrying them off to the kitchen.

He glanced around the room, uncertain of what he should do in this quiet moment. She was only putting away dishes, but his heart longed to be near hers; he knew it was silly and he shook his head at his dependency on her physical proximity. Her cello found its way into his arms again, a comfort, and he held it as he wished to hold her but didn’t know how to ask. He ran his fingers along the neck, toward its body, his hand visited the womanly curves of the instrument and he thought of doing the same to its mistress.

“You look good holding that. Are you sure you’re not having dreams of a cello career in your future? I’m sure that Jasper could find use for a cello player in the jazz band.” Her teasing tone didn’t mask the huskiness of her voice as it dropped lower, moving closer to where he stood; the need to touch him, to feel him pressed against her, was maddening. Her arms wrapped around him once more and she pressed herself against his back, her hands finding their home on his biceps. In unison, sighs were emitted, their chests both rising and falling with the air that was expelled.

If there had been a score to accompany their evening, that musical interlude seemed to be shifting. The pizzicato of their stilted meeting at the door was followed by the allegretto of their warm chatter and shared meal. As she wrapped herself around him, the adagio of the slow sensual contact flowed through them. The beats of their hearts remained the same throughout, but the mood in the apartment had become hazy, dream-like, leaving Edward wondering if the wine had gone to his head or rather if she had. He had the distinct feeling that it was the latter.

His eyelids fluttered shut as he spoke, a bemused smirk on his face. “I hadn’t gotten the chance to tell you I acquired a cello.”

“Did you?” She tilted her head to look at his profile, seeing that his eyes were closed. Her left hand dragged to massage his shoulder before continuing on its journey.

He swallowed hard, his Adam’s apple bobbing as her fingers traced his neck. “Yes. And every night I played. The time I longed to spend with you, but couldn’t, I held it instead.”

Her stomach dropped as she caught the accidental admission at the end of what he’d said. If he longed to hold her, she could certainly accommodate him. Her hand slowly traveled over him and he could not dream the realness of her touch, her thumb running against the day’s stubble of his chin. A dream didn’t hold her scent, vanilla and sunshine and her, enveloping him more than it had ever before.

Pushing lightly on his jaw, she whispered, “Edward, open your eyes.” Astonishing intensity pulsed through the both of them as they could see they both thought the same thoughts, dreamed the same dreams, wanted the same wants; their eyes and souls mirrored each other’s.

And now, nothing was standing in their way.

He was right there, and her patience with suppressing what she wanted had worn out in the practice room. She took the neck of her cello in her hand, moving it out of her spot so that she could stand there instead. Leaning in, she kissed tongue made a languid circuit around his, her hands tripping lightly over the fine knit of his sweater. He moaned, and she could feel the instant he let go and embraced the here and now. His arms quickly wrapped around her, one around her waist, the other moved up her back between her shoulders, his hand lightly grazing the back of her neck.

They gave themselves completely to the kiss. They explored and couldn’t stop touching as they embraced the still seemingly unreal concept of them. Edward marveled at how absolutely perfect she felt pressed against him, as if the closer his heart was to hers, the more love it could hold to lavish on her. Rosalie didn’t notice that her arm was getting heavy from the awkward way she was holding her cello from their bodies and Edward was completely unaware of the ache in his cheeks from grinning, even while kissing her.

She broke away first but didn’t pull back from him. She simply giggled, unable to control her inner fourteen year old any longer. The melodic sound made Edward chuckle, too, and they held each other for a moment, slowly and slightly swaying, their foreheads resting against one another, their eyes shut, each too afraid to open them. Finally, when her arm couldn’t take it anymore, she moved away from him, putting the cello on its stand. They were physically close but she felt they could be closer still. He followed, standing near as she put the cello to rest for the evening, willing to follow her anywhere.

“Edward, please…” she purred, her hands winding around his shoulders as she pressed herself closer to him. “The thought of you, the thought of this, has been on my mind since Thanksgiving…”

He picked up where she left off. “This is what I longed to do then…” trailing off, as his lips danced along the smooth, sweet skin of her neck. In a synchronized dance, she walked forward as he took gentle steps backward, both of them falling onto her couch. Mr. Holland scrambled to get out of the way, irritated that she’d been displaced but quickly finding comfort on the window sill. There was nothing tentative about their pacing; frenetic exploring was the theme of the evening, first of feelings and now of bodies. Rosalie’s leg swept over his lap and she straddled him, unzipping the charcoal sweater and running her hands along the broad plane of his chest before pushing it down his arms and off his body. Her hands returned to rest on his biceps, loving the feel of what she had imagined so many weeks ago when she’d first watched him in rehearsal.

“I just want to try one thing…” his hands found the hem of her shirt and he paused. In that pause, her hands crossed in front of her, lifting the material up and away from her body, before discarding it on the couch next to where he sat. The sound of their ragged breaths met, neither able to tell where hers ended or his began.

“Just one thing? Surely, you can think of more to do than just one thing.” Her voice was still thick and husky, laden with both humor and innuendo.

Edward grinned deviously, his mind was fuzzy from wine and joy and the visions of the multiple things he’d like to do to her. “Do you have a bed?” he asked playfully.

“Do I have… a bed? Yes, of course I have a bed.” Rosalie’s smile broadened and it occurred to her that she hadn’t taken the time to even show him around her apartment before winding up grinding against him like a hormonal teenager. “Would you like a tour?” She attempted to remove herself, to stand and offer her hand, but Edward was having none that. His arms wrapped around her torso, his fingers pressed right outside the ridge of her spine, where the sting of the tattoo gun had marked her years before.

“Of your bed?”

She leaned forward, tugging his bottom lip lightly between her teeth before kissing him soundly. The nervous energy had dissipated and the both felt comfortable with this shift to quiet teasing and insinuation. “You’d like a tour of my bed?”

He pushed off the couch and stood, easily lifting her along with him. She squealed at the movement, a very un-like Rosalie noise and he wondered what other noise he could conjure. “Yes, please. Let’s see if I can find my way there.”

He strode with her legs wrapped tightly around his waist, his hands still pressing hungrily on her tattoo. Pinning her against the first door he said, “Now, what do we have here?” She started to speak, to answer him, but he quieted her with his lips, speaking against hers. “Remember? I’m finding my way.”

She tilted her head back, granting him access to the column of her neck again. “We’re both finding our way, Edward.” It was a breathless moan but it was true, in so many ways.

One hand briefly let go of her back for a moment, jiggling the handle, only to reveal a small linen closet. “No bed in here.”

She giggled as he swung her around, aiming for the next door. “How very astute.”

The following door was open and he carried her into the small bathroom. She thought he’d turn back around and continue his search. Instead, he rested her on the sink vanity and took the opportunity and fortuitous placement of where she was perched to lower his lips to the swell of her breast. One arm stayed firmly wrapped around her waist, not allowing her to possibly fall back into the mirror. His fingers caressed the satin bra, the silky material feeling smooth beneath his fingers, before reaching the even softer skin that lay beneath. Her hands rested on either side of the sink as she jutted her chest out, presenting herself to him, loving the way his lips and hand lavished much needed, much anticipated, attention on her.

She lowered her chin and watched him, his open mouth placing kisses and sucking along the seam where the material met her skin. His hand palmed her breast, kneading it gently before he brought it around, nimbly undoing the hook-eye clasp and pulling it from her body. He hummed in appreciation, his mouth never stopping its exploration.

Leaning forward, she grasped the back of his t-shirt, wanting to feel her skin pressed to his and knowing it was only a matter of time before she would demand this tour end if she didn’t at least feel him. The shirt landed somewhere in between the shower and toilet, neither concerned about it now that it was no longer a hindrance. “While the bathroom is a lovely stop on our tour, and trust me, I’m enjoying this… I suggest we get a move on.” A flick of her tongue in the shell of his ear and a tug with her teeth on his lobe had him groaning. At that, she pushed him back slightly so that she could stand with him once more.

“Oh, but I intend to see all the nooks and crannies,” he teased, loving this new playfulness they could share.

“Do you now? Maybe I’ll give you a hint?” Fingers deftly danced to the button at her waist and with a quick maneuver, the material pooled at her feet. She stepped out of them, now clad only in her panties and heels. Leaning in, their bodies brushed once more, hers significantly less clothed than his, although she knew it would only be a matter of time. “Follow me, Edward.” Her warm breath rippled over his neck and he gave in with a nod, unwilling to resist what everything in his life had been pushing him toward for the last months. She reached the only door he had not tried in the hallway and paused for a moment, turning to find him right there, his breath hot in her ear, his fingers entwined through her hair.

“Rose, what we might have is extremely important to me. We’re not rushing this… are we?” His cautious (yet undeniably lustful) stare bore into her. His words and his body spoke two separate messages, one hand cupping her left breast, the other hand’s fingers tracing the lace of her panties.

“I want you. Do you want me?” She asked this very simply, very matter-of-factly with no coy beguiling.

“Very much.”

“Then no more words,” she whispered, and opened the bedroom door.

He kept his body flush to hers and mirrored her steps. His lips hovered over her shoulder as his calloused thumbs pressed greedily into the f-holes tattooed on the small of her back. Without realizing it, she tilted herself to him. The warmth of his bare chest against her back raised the goose flesh all over her. Smiling sideways at him, she slipped away and crawled onto the bed, reaching toward the nightstand to turn on the little lamp. Edward’s breath hitched; the sight of Rose crawling on the bed was his undoing. He moved swiftly, kicking his shoes off near the door. With a quick movement of his hands, his jeans and underwear fell to the floor beside the bed. She started to turn on her back but he caressed her hip softly, silently urging her to stay still. Kneeling on the bed behind her with a hand resting on the mattress, he fulfilled a fantasy that had tormented him since Thanksgiving.

He leaned forward and reverently kissed her tattoos.

She froze, too enraptured to move. He traced the outlines of the black ink with his tongue slowly, diligently, reveling in every second he spent devouring the only tattoo he’d ever seen that drove him mad. Soon his lips wandered over the rest of her back, the places he’d neglected thus far. His warm mouth kissed the outline of her shoulders as his hand traced the curves of the inside of her thigh, coming teasingly close to where she so wanted him to touch. He moved closer, so that they were perfectly matched, and the feel of his excitement behind her made her thighs twitch in anticipation. She pushed back into him and he gasped, his hands finding both of her hips while his thumbs pressed into her tattoo once more.

Rose, deciding that she needed to see him, laid herself on her back and taking Edward’s hands, pulled him down on top of her. The movement of her skin against his was better than any aria, and beneath him he could feel her body humming in a vibrato that alternated between anticipation and abandon. Edward fit himself naturally and comfortably between her thighs as dipped his face down to nuzzle his nose against hers. She reveled in his weight on top of her and cooed and opened her eyes to meet his gaze. What she saw staring back at her made her ripple inside. His heart laid bare and he was offering it up to her as if to say here are all my secrets, all my fears. I adore you.

She melted.

Edward kissed her so deeply, she felt like he might have touched her soul. He kept his eyes open, refusing to deny himself the pleasure of admiring so much beauty before him. The sight of her beneath him inspired so many fantasies, some of which he was tempted to fulfill right then. His better judgment told him that considering this was their first time together, now might not be the best time. There will be time for that, he thought happily as his leg slid up the mattress, catching Rose’s knee and coaxing it up which shifted the angle of her hips. The change was delicious and Rose moaned, clutching his back and smiled. Reluctant to move away from her, he started to reach for his pants which housed his wallet and the condom that he had carefully slipped in earlier, hoping that this moment would come to pass but never presuming it would happen quite as quickly as it did.

Curiously, she watched his movement, trying to discern what he was doing. Once it clicked, she shook her head once. Decisively. The pants, the wallet, the condom all fell to the floor at different speeds. His eyes held the question, Are you sure? Her eyes flicked to the top of the night table where her compact-looking pill pack sat before returning to his. Understanding, relief, exhilaration rose to the surface of his gaze. The message twinned in their matched searing looks: I’m sure. To drive the point home, she raised her hips from the bed and slowly slid her panties off them and down her legs.

Edward lay himself over her, his bronze hair tickling her nose as his teeth teased her collarbone and nibbled up her neck. Her fingers tangled in his hair as she pulled his face up; she needed his lips against hers. She kissed him deeply, her leg hitching over his lower back as she raised herself into him; he was warm and hard and so close. He whimpered and his abs brushed against her navel as he swirled into her, making her head fall back in near ecstasy. They explored and touched and enjoyed as they whispered secrets to one another. They let their mutual passion lead them to where they’d wanted to go for the last two months, and in so doing, they each found freedom in the other. When they joined together, Edward drowned himself in her perfection and swore he’d never felt so complete as he did in that moment.

Every minor shift in his tempo inspired a new sound. The crescendo was coming and Rose’s hands slid over her head to brace herself against the wall. Both her ankles were on his shoulders, his hands on her hips as he orchestrated their movements. One rough hand slid up the length of her leg and his calloused fingers encircled her ankle as his teeth found the soft spot just above his thumb. The other hand followed suit, and once both Rose’s ankles were in his grasp, he eased her legs apart and held them at arm’s length. Now he could see everything and Rose was beside herself, right on the verge. He gently placed one ankle on the bed and trailed his fingers along the inside of her calf, up her thigh until his fingers found her clit and moved in synchronized circles with the rest of him.

She moaned and quickly felt the precipice approaching, but she was desperate to have him closer to her, to feel his heart thumping against hers. She leaned forward and her hands raked up his chest to his neck. He released her other leg and leaned toward her to meet his lips to hers. Skin against skin, hearts matching beat for beat they danced a waltz unique to them alone.

Their eyes connected, and they could both feel themselves finally unraveling. Edward buried his head in her neck, a thumb caressed her cheek as a muffled groan escaped him. She followed just seconds later, her hands pulling his hair as they met in perfect synchronization.

Edward kept himself propped up over her, watching the pink flush wash over her body and loving the thin sheen of sweat they both shared. Her eyes were still closed, and she was wearing the most beautiful, content smile, and Edward felt his heart was ready to burst from what he was feeling. Thinking his weight must be bothersome to her, he started to pull away.

Her eyes flew open, her hand clutching his hips. Silently she shook her head, holding him there, pressed against her. It had been too long that they waited, too long that they were apart to separate physically just yet. Acquiescing, he let his body’s weight fall, as he didn’t want to move.

They lay together, their hearts harmonious and light with the knowledge that they had made the right choices. Their future together unfolded before them like a fresh, unmarked sheet of composition paper, and their dissonance resolved into a lovely and freeing consonance.

Fin