Alice and Jasper got engaged the night of Rose and Emmett’s wedding. I’m still not sure how we didn’t hear her screams of joy through the thin hotel walls, but I suppose Edward and I were busy making our own excited noises.
She didn’t say a word and acted like nothing was different as we sat down for breakfast in the small conference room her family had rented for brunch with the out of town wedding guests. I was raising the coffee cup to my lips when I saw the ring on her finger. I gasped and her eyes popped up to mine. She bit her lip, holding back a grin.
“What?” Edward asked from beside me. He was still only half awake.
“Nothing, I spilled my coffee,” I mumbled, still looking at Alice.
Her shoulders shook with silent laughter and Jasper gave her a look, but she still didn’t say anything. I didn’t know if she was waiting to make an announcement or waiting for her mother to notice. It didn’t take too long to find out.
“Mary Alice Cullen! What is that I see?” Emmett’s voice boomed.
Emmett was struggling to keep a straight face, but Alice was full on laughing.
Edward stared at the ring like he couldn’t believe his eyes.
Esme and Rose were squealing and hurrying to Alice’s side.
“You’re not running over there?” Edward asked me, sounding a little concerned, while everyone congratulated Alice and Jasper.
“Nah.” I shrugged. “I’ll get a private showing later and a blow by blow account of the proposal.”
“Seems like she would have told you first,” he said quietly.
I cocked my head, studying him. This wasn’t about me. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” He licked his lips and stared into space for a second. “You need coffee?” He pushed his chair back and grabbed my cup without a word.
Alice looked at me, mouthing, “Is he okay?”
I shook my head, letting her know I wasn’t sure what was going on and stood to go after him. “Edward?”
“I’m fine,” he repeated before adding a packet of sweetener to my coffee and handing the mug back to me.
I grabbed his free hand, twining our fingers together and led him into the hallway. He huffed loudly but followed me to sit on a small love seat.
Setting my coffee on the side table, I took his juice glass and set it aside as well. I put my hands on his cheeks as he looked at me, his lips pursed and his brows raised. We needed to talk, but he seemed really tense, so I leaned forward and kissed him. His arms came around me and he kissed me back, threading his fingers into my hair. Before we got too carried away, I pulled back just enough to separate us.
“Tell me,” I said quietly.
He exhaled loudly as he held my gaze. “My parents should be here.”
“Edward,” I sighed. I hadn’t thought about him missing his parents at a time like this, but it made complete sense.
He sat back a little, shaking his head. “Don’t get me wrong, Carlisle and Esme have been amazing, and most of the time I think of them as my parents, but…” he sighed. “They should be there for this—for Alice.”
“I’m so sorry, Edward.” I closed my eyes trying not to cry. I wasn’t really sure what to say or what he needed to hear, but something dawned on me. Wiping away a tear that I couldn’t hold back, I squeezed his hand. “I think I understand now why you were so upset about Charlie not coming to graduation.”
“Yeah.” He smiled sadly and shook his head a little more. “Ultimately, I get why he couldn’t be there, but your mother? She makes me fucking crazy.”
“I’m kind of over it. I quit expecting her to act like a parent a long time ago.”
“And that makes me really sad, Bella. I would give anything to still have my mother, and yours acts like you’re just another friend whose life she can drift in and out of.”
“Hey,” I said, putting a hand over his heart. “I’ve got Charlie and you and the rest of your family, that’s all I need. The same goes for you. We’re all here for you; I’m here for you.”
“I know.” He nodded, taking my hand in his. He shifted to lean his head against my shoulder and closed his eyes.
We sat quietly for a few seconds while he pulled himself together. I watched Esme walk towards us, concern all over her face. I gave her a half smile as I squeezed Edward’s hand. He sighed and opened his eyes to see her standing in front of him.
“Alice was wondering what happened to you two,” she said quietly.
“We just needed a moment, but my coffee’s cold now so I’m going to head back inside.” I stood and glanced down, but Edward remained seated. I gave him a smile and he nodded before I moved towards the conference room.
“Hey, Mom.” I heard Edward’s voice behind me and I knew he would be all right.
Time flew by as Edward and I continued to grow closer. I had a job and a boyfriend. I joined an online-book club and went to yoga. On Sunday afternoons I made casseroles for the week ahead. I began to feel like a grown up, not just some twenty-something posing as an adult.
Edward rotated through departments at the hospital. He was exhausted and irritable sometimes, but he was doing well in his program. He understood that I needed to keep busy and that sometimes I would be the one with plans and wasn’t available when he was off work.
We stuck to monthly dates as much as we could – taking walks, shopping at thrift stores, exploring the city and going to movies. For the most part, Edward and I continued to get along well. We had little fights here and there, but that was to be expected. They were normal disagreements that happened in every relationship.
I tried—I really tried—not to get upset about all the time I spent alone while he was at the hospital. In fact, for the longest time it wasn’t really an issue for us. Eventually though, I did grow jealous of the time he spent there and the people he was with. The surgeons and specialists that he spoke about as if they were gods, the nurses and other residents that all had nicknames with great stories behind them. The patients, to whom he gave his best bedside manner to when I was lucky to get a grunt ‘hello’ at times.
Edward tried to reassure me that there was nothing to be jealous of. He loved his job and he loved learning to become a better doctor, but the hospital required most of his time and the people there were only co-workers. I wanted to believe him, I knew I should. In the past I had believed without question, but something well — someone, happened that made me question everything.
A new nurse from the hospital moved into our neighborhood and we ran into her everywhere. At the gas station, the grocery store, the cleaners, the Irish pub, my hair salon — everywhere. Her name was Sasha or Inna, or something, but I called her Russian Barbie.
At first she just irritated me. Every time we saw her she made googly eyes at Edward. Then she gave me a dirty look at the dry cleaner’s. She swooped in front of me and took a melon at the grocery store. She eyed Edward like a piece of meat and I saw her touch his arm when he was standing at the deli counter. Then it got worse.
I made lasagna for dinner one night and instead of making Edward wait until he got home at some crazy hour, I took some to the hospital for his dinner.
As I approached the corner before the nurse’s station and the doctor’s lounge, I heard Edward’s voice, “Can you file this? I’m going to check on Mr. Barnes now that his daughter is gone.”
My steps slowed as I realized he was busy, then I stopped, completely shocked at what I was hearing. I knew it was her; the bitchy Barbie from our neighborhood.
“Look at his ass. Damn he’s hot…and that hair.”
“He always looks freshly fucked,” another woman replied.
“I just wish I was the one he was fucking.”
“Too bad he has a girlfriend.”
“She’s just his girlfriend,” the first one snorted. “I don’t go for married men, but girlfriends? Whatever.”
The phone rang, ending their conversation and I stood still not sure what to do or think. I couldn’t believe what I’d heard. Should I say something? Let them know I was there? Should I pretend like I hadn’t heard them? Should I wait for Edward to come out of the patient’s room and kiss him in front of them?
Before I could do anything I heard Edward speaking to one of the nurses again. “He was sleeping, but everything looks fine. Let me know if he has any problems later.”
Squaring my shoulders, I took a deep breath and plastered a smile on my face before someone caught me lurking in the hallway.
Edward smiled when he saw me come around the corner. “Hey, babe, this is a surprise!”
I snorted a little. He had no idea. “Hey, to you too. I brought you dinner.”
“Oh man, you’re the greatest,” he said, pulling me into his arms for a hug.
The hallway was empty, aside from the nurses gawking at us, so I turned my head and kissed him. It was just a little kiss, but it was enough to show possession and I couldn’t help glancing at Cold War Barbie afterwords. She gave me another dirty look but I just smiled back at her.
Edward glanced at his watch. “Come on, I think I have enough time to eat right now.” He kept an arm around me and guided me down the hall.
I still wasn’t sure what to do about the conversation I’d overheard. What kind of woman discounts someone’s girlfriend like that? I mean, Edward and I lived together. We weren’t just some newly dating couple, and even if we were, who did that? That was just…what a bitch.
The more I thought about it, the more I understood that it was all about her. I wasn’t worried about what Edward would do, but how she would tempt him. The more I thought about that, the more horrible I felt for even considering for a second that something could happen between them, but it was still there. That seed of doubt.
I held off from telling Edward what I’d heard, but I needed to talk to someone so I told Rose. She was pissed on my behalf, then tried to assure me that Edward would never cheat and certainly not with Russian Barbie.
She did, however, observe their interactions at work and it was clear that Nikita, or whatever her name was, had started putting the moves on Edward. Rose heard that she had traded shifts a couple of times to work with Edward and that she had taken to occasionally buying him coffee on her breaks. He’d accepted it of course; no resident turned down caffeine.
I was glad Rose was keeping me posted, but it was stressing me out. It didn’t matter that things were going well, that Edward was as attentive as ever, I just had this sick feeling in my stomach that something bad was going to happen and it was going to be related to Stolichnaya Barbie.
It took about three weeks for things between Edward and I to come to a head. He’d been aware that something was bothering me, asking me if things were all right, calling a little more often that he normally did, but I continued to deny it. The thing was, I knew I just needed to get over it. I didn’t want to have some big blow up with Edward over what was essentially an unrealistic fear.
We’d met at the bar around the corner from our condo when he got off work. We caught the end of a Mariners game and grabbed a burger. I hadn’t even seen her in the bar, but when the waitress brought over a beer Edward hadn’t ordered—I knew who it was from.
“This is from the lady at the bar,” the waitress said, blushing. Even she understood that it was not cool to be sending drinks to a guy that was clearly there with someone.
I searched the bar, and sure enough, Bitch Barbie was at the end, grinning at us.
“Seriously? That is so not cool, Edward,” I said, referring to her buying him a drink. I wanted to throw it in Caviar Barbie’s face, but Edward wouldn’t let me.
“She was being nice.” He rolled his eyes a little as he sipped his beer, the one I had ordered for him.
“Nice? She sent you a beer while you’re sitting at a table with me, your girlfriend.”
“Exactly, I’m with you.”
“And she doesn’t care.”
“Bella….” He was finally beginning to get exasperated with me, but that was okay because I was starting to get pissed at his denial.
“Listen. I overheard her at the hospital, she doesn’t care. She said if you were married it would be different, but we’re not.”
“What are you talking about?” He looked confused, which I supposed was better than pissed off.
“The day I brought you lasagna. She and that other nurse were talking about how fuckable you were. And the other one, Zoey, maybe? I don’t know. She said that it was too bad you had a girlfriend, and that bitch said if would be different if we were married, but since I’m just your girlfriend she didn’t care.”
“Well, I care,” he said seriously. It was exactly what I needed to hear, but I also needed him to stand up to her.
“So do I, but you need to tell Oksana Baiul, or Jaromir Jagr, or whatever the fuck her name is, to stop.”
He snorted and rolled his eyes. “You know her name is Sasha, and she may be flirting,” he scooted a little closer to me and put a hand on my cheek, “but I’m not interested, at all. And I’ll remind her that I’m taken if it will make you feel better.”
He leaned over and kissed me. It wasn’t just a little kiss. It was a toe curling, mind bending, moan inducing, sloppy piece of PDA kiss. It took me a minute to catch my breath when he sat back, and I found myself blinking at him trying to focus my eyes.
“Consider her reminded,” he deadpanned, smirking at me.
“You are a cocky mother fucker,” I mumbled, still a little dazed from his kiss.
“I’m your cocky mother fucker.”
I didn’t think before I opened my mouth. “Take me home and prove it.”
He grinned at me, then raised an eyebrow. “Are we okay?”
I kissed him quick and hard as I stood and grabbed my coat. “Less talking—more cocky.”
Leaving the beer she’d sent over on the table untouched, he stood, pushing his chair in and putting his hand on my lower back. “I’ll take that as a yes.”
We practically ran home, holding hands as I tried not to giggle. He stood behind me in the elevator, his hands on my hips and his chin on top of my head. The seconds that it took to get to our floor, felt like they took forever, as we both resisted attacking each other. We stumbled into the condo laughing again, and then I was pushed against the wall as his lips found mine. Our hands were everywhere, touching and tugging, pulling off clothes as we continued peppering each other with kisses.
Shoes and clothes littered the floor as we made our way to the bedroom. Limbs tangled together as we paused to make out against the wall in the hallway. We were naked when we finally made it to the bedroom. Edward crawled up over my body on the bed, grinning down.
I stretched up to kiss him, pulling him down to me. The weight of his body against mine was delicious. My hands skimmed his back before finding their place in his hair while his hands cupped my face and his hips rocked against mine. His hand slipped between my legs, stroking me for just a few seconds before he replaced his fingers with his erection, sliding it over my clit. We moaned together as my back arched.
“Are you ready?” he murmured in my ear as he kissed along my neck.
“Yes,” I gasped, and before I could say please he pushed into me.
Our hips began moving, setting a hard driving rhythm that was exactly what I needed.
He hitched my leg up over his hip and hit just the right spot with every stroke.
“Right there,” I moaned.
“There?” He didn’t really need to ask, because he was hitting it every time and he knew it.
I could hardly form words as everything in me began to tighten. “Yeah, don’t stop.”
“Never.” It was more of a growl than a reply, and it was sexy as hell.
“Oh fuck,” I cried, biting my lip. With just a couple more strokes from him I went over the edge, calling his name as my body clamped down on his.
“Holy Shit.” He kept thrusting into me, clenching his teeth with his effort. Then he jerked our hips tightly together and let go inside me with a groan.
He was still panting a couple of minutes later when he chuckled and kissed my forehead. “Christ, Belly, I don’t want to fight with you, but it that’s what comes out of it…”
I laughed and ran a hand absently across his chest. “Seriously, and that was hardly an argument.”
We stayed tangled together, sweaty but content, until I went to the bathroom to clean myself up. When I came back into the bedroom, he’d straightened the mess we’d made of the sheets and gathered the trail of our clothing into a pile. He was stretched out on his side, his arm bent and his head resting in his palm. When I looked at his face, I found his eyes locked on my face. He looked both sexy and serious and I couldn’t help but smile. I climbed in bed, kissing his chest lightly before I sighed and snuggled against his side.
“Are we okay?” he asked for the second time. I knew it wasn’t insecurity that brought him to ask it again, but he hated to go to bed without resolving things.
“We’re good,” I chuckled. “You can go to sleep.”.
“Are you sure?”
I found his hand and slid my fingers through his, giving him a little squeeze. “I’m sure. I just get scared. I wonder what you’re doing with me when you work with those brilliant doctors and you have hot nurses throwing themselves at you.”
“Bella, you don’t ever have to worry about me cheating. Okay?”
“That wasn’t it, not really. I wasn’t worried about you cheating. I was more afraid that Ivanka Trump was going to seduce you somehow. I mean, she seems persuasive.”
He snorted. “Sasha.”
“She tries hard, I’ll give her that,” he chuckled, “but I’m not interested. Not—at— all. She’s fake and plasticy and,” he kissed me, “not you.”
I laughed. Russian Barbie and I were polar opposites.
“You can trust me, Isabella.”
“I know I can, she just got under my skin.”
He sat up, leaning on his elbow. “Don’t let her get to you. Besides, even if I was single, I wouldn’t touch her with a ten foot pole. I’m pretty sure that shit is radio-active.”
I laughed a little, feeling much better about things.
“And Bella, you really need to talk to me about this stuff. I mean, you’ve been sort of brooding about this for almost three weeks. All you had to do is tell me and I could have reassured you that there’s not a chance in hell that anything would happen with her.”
“Not even with a lot of vodka?” I joked. “Because I think Russian Barbie comes with her own private stash.”
He shook his head, chuckling. “You’re ridiculous, you know that?”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry. I love it, and I love you. Just you. No Russian Barbies, or any other Barbies for that matter.”
“I love you, too.”
He stretched out beside me again and I snuggled into his side, reaching my hand out across his chest. I was almost asleep when his chest rumbled a little with laughter.
“Russian Barbie. How do you come up with this shit?”
I slapped his chest. “Shut up! You called her radio-active!”
“She probably is,” he muttered. Grabbing my hand, he brought it up to kiss my palm before putting it back over his heart.