Chapter 15. Mind Over Matter
We walked up the brick path to her front door. I could feel her eyes on me, and I was all of a sudden very excited. This would be the first time I would be invited into her home, as far as she knew… and I was enjoying the fact that I didn’t have to sneak in this time. As we passed under the eave, I reached for the spare key. Thanks Alice
, I thought to myself.
I rushed forward to unlock the door, returned the key to its hiding place, and was back at Bella’s side before she’d even registered my absence. Again I opened the door for her. She’d better get used to the chivalry.
“The door was unlocked?” she asked, concerned, stopping with only one foot past the threshold.
“No, I used the key from under the eave,” I smirked.
Bella stepped the rest of the way inside and raised her eyebrows at me, in almost an accusatory manner.
“I was curious about you,” I replied guiltily.
“You spied on me?” she asked, with a slight smile.
I looked at her and shrugged. “What else is there to do at night?”
She walked down the hallway towards the kitchen. But I made it there first, of course. Having just enough time to deposit a roll of bills into the grocery jar before Bella walked through the door. By the time she entered, I had already taken a seat at the table, eager to make myself look comfortable in her presence. She paused for a moment, staring at me with a curious expression before she turned away towards the refrigerator and began preparing dinner for herself.
She removed something foil-wrapped from the fridge, scooped a helping into a dish and placed it in the microwave. I found the whole ordeal rather fascinating. It had been literally ages since I’d seen anyone prepare a meal in the normal way. The ease of instant gratification. We didn’t have microwaves the last time I could have stomached real food. And I honestly couldn’t remember a single dish I may have favorited while I was human.
Bella watched her meal revolve slowly in the microwave, seemingly mesmerized. Almost immediately the cooking food filled the room with a sickening aroma. I didn’t like it. It made Bella smell less appetizing as a result. But that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering her current company. With everything that had happened today, she was more appealing to me than ever before, and thirst had nothing
to do with it.
I watched her every movement in earnest. From the stance she took, putting all her weight on one foot while she tapped the other, to the rapping of her fingers on the counter while she waited for her food to finish heating. I saw the movement of her lips before sound even escaped them, having been staring at them at that very moment, I realized, thinking of them ever since we’d left the woods.
“How often?” she asked. She was feinting nonchalance, but the pink in her cheeks betrayed her.
“Hmmmm?” She’d awoken me from my private interlude.
“How often did you come here?” She still did not turn.
I decided that honestly was the best policy. I would never lie to my Bella. Unless it is absolutely necessary
, I correctly myself mentally. “I come here almost every night,” I finally confessed.
That got her attention. She twisted around, nearly losing her balance, the pink in her face becoming more pronounced now.
“Why?!?” she gasped.
“You’re interesting when you sleep,” I answered simply. “You talk.”
“No!” She gasped again. The pink had now darkened to a deep crimson. She clutched the counter for support as I saw her legs wobble unsteadily.
I hadn’t expected her to react this way. And instantly I was in damage control mode. “Are you very angry with me?”
“That depends!” she said breathlessly.
I waited but she didn’t elaborate.
“On?” I pressed.
“What you heard!” she cried.
And I left my seat to join her at the counter. I took her hands carefully into mine. “Don’t be upset!” I begged. But her cheeks were still reddened. She was embarrassed as I thought she may be, but I held her gaze.
“You miss your mother,” I explained in a whisper. “You worry about her…. And when it rains, the sound makes you restless.” I’d suddenly recalled that it had been raining that night, when I’d been exploring her bedroom for clues, and felt less like an unwelcomed invader. Perhaps it was the rain that was to blame for her restlessness, not my intrusion.
“You used to talk about home a lot…” I continued. “But it’s less often now.” Um, what else… Oh!
“Once you said, ‘it’s too green,’” I laughed softly.
“Anything else?” she demanded.
I racked my brain and thought about the countless ramblings she’d uttered in her sleep, of which I had taken mental notes, hopeful someday to decipher their meanings. But she was asking about something more specific and I decided I knew exactly what she was referring to. “You did say my name,” I admitted.
She sighed. “A lot?”
“How much you mean by ‘a lot’ exactly?”
“Oh no!” She hung her head in defeat. Embarrassed again.
I pulled her closer, embracing her against my chest. “Don’t be self conscious. If I could dream at all, it would be about you. And I’m not ashamed of it.”
Just then I heard the sound of a car pulling into the driveway and the flash of headlights shining through the windows. Bella tensed in my arms. Charlie was home.
“Should your father know I’m here?”
“I’m not sure…” A panicked expression crossed her face.
“Another time then…” And I disappeared through the door.
“Edward!” she hissed.
I laughed hidden in the shadows. I escaped through the back door and waited in the trees behind her house where I’d hid the first time I eavesdropped on their dinner. This time I knew she would be aware of me listening.
Charlie walked through the front door and called out “Bella?”
“In here!” she called.
I listened as Charlie made his way into the kitchen. I caught the scent of the food again through his thoughts and grimaced. “Can you get me some of that?” He obviously didn’t share the same sentiment. “I’m bushed.”
I heard Bella rummage through the refrigerator once again and the crackling of aluminum foil as she prepared a helping for Charlie. And the hum of the microwave was the only sound besides the two beating hearts.
“Thanks,” I heard Charlie say a few minutes later after Bella placed his food in front of him.
“How was your day?” Bella asked in a rush. Her heart was pulsing just as rapidly as her words.
“Good. The fish were biting. How about you? Did you get everything done that you wanted to?”
“Not really. It was too nice to stay indoors.”
“It was a nice day,” Charlie reflected.
As Charlie took a first bite of his food, Bella was chewing on her last. He watched her drink the last few mouthfuls of milk, by the looks of it, and I felt the suspicion arise in his mind.
“In a hurry?” he asked.
“Yeah, I’m tired. I’m going to bed early.”
Charlie wasn’t buying it. He thought she appeared way too energetic to claim tiredness. The detective in him was emerging.
“You look kinda keyed up,” he noted. Charlie was much more observant than I originally gave him credit for. Must be where Bella gets it from.
“Do I?” she asked guiltily.
Charlie tried to act casual, in the middle of this familial interrogation. He had never had to deal with a rebelling teenage daughter before. “It’s Saturday. No plans tonight?”
“No, Dad. I just want to get some sleep.”
Charlie took a mental note of her lie, and pressed on. “None of the boys in town your type, eh?” He was fishing now. Hilarious. He was envisioning Bella and a secret rendezvous. I smiled to myself. I wonder what Charlie would think of his daughter spending time with me today.
“No, none of the boys have caught my eye yet.” I felt a momentary tinge of hurt at those words, but I knew she was only trying to spare Charlie an awkward conversation. Bella, ever the peace keeper.
“I thought maybe that Mike Newton…” Charlie probed. “You said he was friendly.”
a friend, Dad.” Those words made me feel much better.
“Well, you’re too good for them all anyway.” He was finally giving up. “Wait till you get to college to start looking.” I laughed again as Charlie’s fatherly worry entered his thoughts. Of course he wouldn’t want to think of Bella being with a man until after she had left his home.
“Sounds like a good idea to me.”
Charlie watched Bella leave the kitchen towards the front stairs. “Night honey,” he called after her.
“See you in the morning, Dad.”
I heard Bella ascend the stairs, slowly. I rushed to scale the house and climb through her window. By the time she had reached the top of the stairs, I had already closed the sash and sprawled myself across her bed. She walked through her bedroom door, and I watched as she walked straight to her window. I put my hands behind my head, and rested it back on her pillows, trying to look like I’d been waiting ages for her. Well, in truth, I had been waiting ages for her.
Bella threw open the window and leaned out. “Edward?” she whispered. I just laughed quietly. After I had just given her credit for inheriting her observant nature from Charlie, yet she still had not noticed I was behind her already, positioned comfortably on the mattress. I suppose that wasn’t her fault. Humans were very easy to sneak up on.
“Yes?” I replied, unable to hide my amusement.
She whirled around. Her heart missed a beat, the blood draining from her face. Her hand flew to her neck. “Oh!” She shrieked. And her knees buckled as she slumped to the floor.
“I’m sorry.” I said, trying not to smile.
“Just give me a minute to restart my heart.”
I sat up very slowly I leaned forward to pick her up and set her down on the bed beside me. “Why don’t you sit with me?” I suggested resting my hand on hers. “How’s the heart?”
“You tell me-I’m sure you hear it better than I do.”
I laughed quietly. Of course I hear, Bella.
“Can I have a minute to be human?” she asked
“Certainly.” You can have all the minutes you need. I would wait forever for you.
I motioned for her to proceed.
“Stay.” She commanded, her eyes penetrating, as if training a new puppy.
“Yes ma’am,” I mocked, and then froze, trying to ‘play dead’.
Bella grabbed some pajamas and an overnight bag off her desk, left the bedroom and slammed the bathroom door loudly. I heard her brushing her teeth and then the sound of the shower running. After several minutes, the water was turned off and I listened as she scrambled to towel herself dry. She bounded down the stairs to tell Charlie goodnight.
“Night Bella!” I heard Charlie say. And then Bella was diving back up the stairs. She entered her bedroom hurriedly and carefully closed the door behind her.
I watched as she shyly entered the room. She looked quite comical. Her t-shirt was full of holes, and her grey sweatpants fell loosely over her slim legs. She actually looked quite cute, in an awkward sort of way. I raised my eyebrow. “Nice,” I smiled.
She grimaced. She thought I was joking.
“No. It looks good on you,” I promised. Everything looks good on her
. I secretly wished she’d try me on for size.
“Thanks,” she whispered awkwardly. She approached the bed and sat cross-legged beside me.
“What was all that for?” I asked her calmly.
“Charlie thinks I’m sneaking out.”
“Oh.” She was right, of course. His thoughts were exactly along those lines. He was downstairs right now trying to figure out a way to hinder her escape, without looking like an overbearing father.
“Why?” I wondered aloud.
“Apparently, I look a little overexcited.”
I reached my hand to her face and lifted her chin to meet my gaze. “You look very warm, actually.”
Her cheeks went slightly pink and I bent my face slowly to rest my cheek against hers. I was right. She did feel warm.
“Mmmmm,” I breathed.
Bella took a deep breath after her heart had steadied and then spoke. “It seems to be much easier for you, now, to be close to me.”
I smirked. “Does it seem that way to you?” My nose ran over her jaw and I brushed her hair back so that I could kiss below her ear. All my senses were magnifying. As they were in Bella. A flush of pleasure warmed her neck and she smiled lazily. I watched her pupils dilate.
“Much, much easier,” she gasped.
“Hmm,” I replied simply, continuing to explore her neck and throat, as I also explored these new desires awakening in me. I kissed her ever so lightly again, just behind her ear, feeling the thud of her heart beat through her entire body.
“So I was wondering…” she began as pulled her hair back once again. Adding to her distraction, I traced down her clavicle with my fingertips.
“Yes?” I breathed.
“Why is that do you think?” she asked, her voice shaking.
I laughed silently. I was exhibiting more control than I would have imagined myself capable of. Years have gone by without crossing paths with someone that so much as interested me in the remotest way, and without finding anyone nearly as attractive
, and I use that word openly, as Bella was to me. And yet here I was, sniffing her, tasting her, caressing her, while her heart still beats safely in my embrace. Who would have guessed it possible?
“Mind over matter,” I finally answered.
She pulled back and I froze holding my breath. We stared at each other for a long moment. The electricity between our faces was gradually strengthening. The message in her eyes was one of acknowledgement, of mutual interest and arousal. I had to force myself to hold back from ravaging her. Slowly I relaxed and wondered why Bella looked so strange.
“Did I do something wrong?” I asked.
“No the opposite, you’re driving me crazy,” she exclained.
I considered that and was amused that I solicited the same driving pull for Bella as she did for me. “Really?” I smiled widely in satisfaction.
“Would you like a round of applause?” she asked sarcastically.
I just grinned. “I’m just pleasantly surprised. In the last hundred years or so, I never imagined anything like this. I didn’t believe I would ever find someone I wanted to be with… in any other way than my brothers and sisters. And then to find, even though it is all new to me, that I’m good at it…. at being with you…”
“You’re good at everything,” she complained.
I shrugged in agreement. Sure, I will take that. And we both laughed in whispers.
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