Thank you, again, for sticking with us and for leaving a review, if you did. We appreciate you sharing our love of Twilight. Unfortunately, this is not ours. We just like to play with the characters created by Stephenie Meyer.
Up next will be a continuation of the previous chapter, discussing the mysterious fire and then the benefit.
"Is everything okay?" Bella asked.
"There was a mysterious fire and they need us to investigate to see if it was arson," Edward muttered. "My boss is calling me in, so I have to go. I'd much rather be here, dealing with the fire burning between the two of us."
"You're not the only one," Bella moaned.
"This," he said, pulling her back into his lap and kissing her deeply, "is not over. To be continued, Bella."
"I'm aching," Bella smirked. "And so wet, Edward."
"I'm hard as a rock, Bella. I want nothing more than to …" he trailed off, pressing his forehead to hers. "The benefit … you'll be mine."
"Is that a promise?" she asked.
"It's a fucking vow," he said, kissing her once again. "I'm going to go before I fuck you out here on the patio."
"I wouldn't complain," Bella giggled.
"I would. I fully intend on taking my time with you, Bella. You deserve more than just a frenzied fuck," he breathed, standing up while holding her. His hands rested on her ass as he gathered himself. "You deserve it all. Think of me while you deal with your ache."
"Be safe, Edward," she murmured. "And I will definitely think of you while I take things into my own hands."
He kissed her once more, stepping back. He made his way to the patio door and just as he put his hand onto it, Bella cleared her throat. "Edward, I want to be yours and I want to take my time, but there is nothing wrong with a frenzied fuck," she purred.
"I'll remember that, beautiful," he smirked.
Edward hated to leave Bella. He wanted nothing more than to go back and be with her. He was about to pull a U-turn when his phone rang again. Pursing his lips, he saw Charlie's number. "Cullen," Edward barked.
"Are you on your way?" Charlie asked.
"Rose just called me," Edward replied. "I was out, but I need to swing by my parents to change. I'll be at the fire station in a little bit."
"Rose is on her way here," Charlie said brusquely.
"Where's the fire?" Edward asked.
"Rudy's Barber Shop in Capitol Hill," Charlie answered. "Do you know where it's located?"
"Affirmative. I'll meet you there, Chief," Edward replied.
"Do you have your kit?"
"In the back of my truck. See you in a bit," Edward said.
Charlie grunted his goodbye.
Edward drove away from Bella's condo toward Rudy's Barber Shop off Pine Street. When he arrived, he had to show his badge to be granted entrance into the neighborhood. He parked his Bronco next to Charlie's department SUV. He opened the rear of his truck. He quickly changed into some work boots and swiped an SFD jacket before slinging his bag over his shoulder. He nodded at some of the guys who were cleaning up the scene.
"Edward!" called Rose.
He made his way to his partner and whistled lowly. The shop was gone. It was a smoking pile of rubble. "Wow," he said. "Was there any damage to the surrounding businesses?"
"Only at the barbershop," Rose explained. "Charlie was actually coming here to get a haircut for the benefit. This is his usual stop. They give amazing straight razor shaves, supposedly. When Charlie got here, it was up in flames."
"That's why he called us in?" Edward asked.
"Yeah. He wanted to fight the fire, but instead, he was determined to figure out what the hell happened. I told him it's too hot, but you know Charlie," Rose shrugged.
"Were there any casualties?" Edward pressed. "This looked like it burned fast and burned hot."
"No deaths, thankfully. There were a few injuries because of the chemicals in there, but everyone will make a complete recovery," Rose said.
Charlie came out, his face was covered in soot and his lips were pressed into a grim line. "You're both here. Excellent. They're almost done," he said tersely. "I was walking to this place when it exploded. It fucking exploded. Nearly everyone was outside. The owner was inside, trying to get some of the building's information."
"He's okay, right?" Rose asked.
"Smoke inhalation and second degree burns on his arms and hands," Charlie grunted. "I just want to start the investigation. I know we can't do much because of the heat, but something about this fire is rubbing me the wrong way."
"Well, perhaps it was the fact that you were almost inside it would rub me the wrong way," Rose snorted.
"It's not like I was the target or anything," Charlie snapped. "Grab your shit. Let's check it out, take some photos and head back to the lab."
"It's still smoking, Chief," Edward argued.
"Cullen, so help me, I do not want to put you on report," Charlie snarled, glowering at Edward. He held up his hands in surrender. Charlie spun on his heel and went inside, wearing a helmet and carrying a Halligan. Edward picked up a helmet, following Charlie with Rose coming up the rear.
The barbershop was still unbearably hot. It smelled of burnt rubber, smoke and toxic chemicals. Edward turned on a flashlight as he carefully walked through the debris. The front of the shop was not the flashpoint of the blaze. The fire patterns clearly indicated that it traveled from somewhere deeper in the shop. "Is there a basement?" he asked. He took some pictures of the flame patterns, along with snapshots of the damage to the chairs.
"I'm not sure if there's a basement. Backroom, maybe?" Charlie said. "I only hung out in the front getting my hair cut and my treat of a shave once a month. It was your father who turned me onto this place. Carlisle goes to the one closer to city hall, but I liked it here because it was on the way to the station and close to home." He coughed, wrinkling his nose. "We probably can't stay much longer. The smoke is aggravating my lungs."
"Agreed," Rose said. Her mouth and nose were covered by a mask and she wore a pair of goggles. "Chief, go outside. Edward and I will get the photos in the back of the barbershop. We'll come back tomorrow once this place has had a chance to cool down."
Charlie huffed out a breath, handing Edward the Halligan. "Get as many pictures as possible."
"We'll be out in ten minutes," Edward said. "We'll go to the lab and check what we've got, but we may not see anything until it's cooler and lighter. It's pitch black in here, Chief."
Charlie gave Edward a scowl but left the shop. Rose and Edward made their way back to the storeroom. Using flashlights, it was clear that the fire had started back here. There was far more damage in the storeroom. It was completely black and ruined from the flames. Rose took photos while Edward looked for evidence of the use of accelerant. He couldn't find anything outwardly, but he noticed some frayed wires. "This is a bust, Rose. It's too dark."
"Agreed," Rose sighed. "I got some pictures and took some samples of the debris. Let's head back outside and talk to the Chief about coming back tomorrow when it's daytime."
They did one more walkthrough, taking more photos as they made their way back out to the sidewalk. Edward noticed Charlie was talking to an older man with dark hair and a thick beard. His clothes were dirty and there was a bandage on his arm. He made his way to his boss. "It's too dark, Charlie. We'll have to wait."
"Sounds like a plan. This is one of the owners of the barbershop, Wade," Charlie said, gesturing to the other guy.
"Sorry for your loss, Wade," Edward said, shaking the man's hand. "Were you inside?"
"Yeah. I was talking to one of the clients when we heard some popping in the back," Wade explained. "Matthew, one of our stylists, went in the back to check to see what it was. No sooner than he went back there, he ran right back out. The entire back room was on fire. Another stylist, Victor, went further inside to grab his shirt and he was hit by the initial blast. I grabbed him and we limped out, barely making it outside before it went completely up. The explosion rocked the entire street and I still can't fucking hear."
"Have you been to the hospital?" Rose asked.
"I was just released. I've got some minor burns and damage to my ears, but I'll be okay. Victor will have a longer recovery," Wade said. "I just wanted to make sure no one else was hurt." He looked at the burnt-out shell of his shop. "And, to see the damage. I'm shocked that no one was killed."
"It was due to the fact that Charlie was close by," Rose explained. "I'm certain he got the fire department here really quickly. Are you familiar with this shop?"
"I am, but right now it's unrecognizable," Wade muttered, his face pulled into a grimace. "What do you need?"
"Could you come back tomorrow? When it's light out?" Edward asked. "We'd like to know if there is anything out of place."
"Of course," Wade nodded. "I'll also need your report to submit to the insurance company. What time?"
"Probably as early as possible," Charlie said. "The benefit … I need to help my wife with the setup tomorrow afternoon. The shit I do for that woman. It's why I was getting a damned haircut today. Fuck."
"Don't hold back, Chief," Rose deadpanned. "It's almost eleven now. Meet here at eight?"
"You both need to be at the lab by seven," Charlie commanded.
"Without any doubt, Charlie," Edward said. "Again, we're sorry for your loss." He handed Wade his card. "Call this number if you're delayed, but we'll be here by eight. Wear thick-soled shoes and bring a mask. It will be stuffy and smoky in the shop."
"Thanks," Wade said, taking the card. "I'll see you all tomorrow." He tucked the card into his pocket and he ambled away.
"Did you get any pictures?" Charlie asked once Wade was gone.
"Some, but we'll get more tomorrow, Chief," Rose answered. "Go home. We'll meet you at the lab tomorrow morning."
Charlie nodded and he walked toward his car, with Edward moving in step with his boss. "You look awfully nice for a call, Edward," Charlie said.
"I was out, on a date," Edward answered. "With Bella."
Charlie's brows shot to his hairline. "Really?"
"Yeah. I went to one of my mom's doctor's appointments. It's where I met her. Since then, we built a friendship and things have progressed to more," Edward said. If only Charlie knew what he'd done with his daughter just a few hours ago. My mouth was on her delectable tits. Don't tell the boss that. "We're going to the benefit together."
Charlie smiled softly. He was happy that Bella was opening up to someone. Heaven knows that she didn't talk to anyone and she was so closed off after Angela's death. His smile fell as he looked at his protege. "Does she know about that night? The night of the fire?"
Edward gulped. He did not want to tell Bella. She was the first person that he felt some sort of connection with since that night. "Not yet, Charlie."
"You need to tell her, Edward. She deserves to know," Charlie murmured.
"She'll hate me. Just like you do," Edward said.
"Son, I don't hate you. I don't blame you. Not anymore," Charlie said, stepping in front of him. "I did for a long time. I'm not going to lie. I needed to blame someone. Angela's death was so fucking senseless. You were right there and …" He blew out a harsh breath. "I don't blame you. I am sorry for my actions and how I treated you after Angela's death. I was an asshole."
"You lost your daughter. You had every right to be an asshole," Edward countered.
"Not to the man who was with her and tried to save her," Charlie whispered. "I forgive you and I will work my ass off to make things better between the two of us. You are one of the best firefighters I've known and you are a phenomenal investigator. Your uncle taught you well." He clasped his hand on Edward's shoulder. "But, you need to tell Bella."
"I will, but not until after the benefit," Edward said. Charlie cleared his throat, giving Edward the look. "I promise, Chief. I just want to give Bella a couple of nights without bringing up those horrible memories."
"Okay, son," Charlie said. "I'll leave it up to you."
The next day, Rose and Edward were at the lab after they spent several hours at Rudy's Barber Shop. Pictures were taken, evidence was collected and Wade gave his description of the shop, alerting Edward, Rose and Charlie to any concerning changes. They both felt like zombies, sucking down coffee to wake themselves up. Sitting in front of computer screens and analyzing the evidence was not helping in their exhaustion.
Charlie had left shortly after their examination at the barbershop, driving to get his hair cut at a sister location of Rudy's Barber Shop - the one frequented by Carlisle. After his appointment, he would then help his wife in setting up the benefit at the Edgewater Hotel.
"Edward, come here," Rose said, her eyes squinting at a photo she'd taken in the back storeroom. "Does this pattern look familiar?"
He put down the sample he was analyzing, walking over to Rose's laptop. "A bit. It was clear that this was caused by an electrical fire, but that looks like an accelerant. However, couldn't it be some of the styling products?"
"No, they were kept upfront," Rose explained. "The stuff in the back was mainly towels, paper products for the bathrooms and extra cleaning supplies."
"Cleaning supplies can be used as an accelerant," Edward said.
"No, stuff like brooms, dustpans, and shit like that," Rose muttered. She clicked through the pictures. "See? This is the room with the cleaners and stock for the styling shit. It was right near the front. There was very little damage up here." Clicking back to the original photo, she pointed to a spot that clearly indicated tampering. "This looks fucking familiar."
"The rug shop," Edward said, snapping his fingers. He slid her laptop closer to him and searched the files. "Here … the same pattern."
Side by side, the photos looked nearly identical. The only differences were the materials that had been charred. The rug shop had a concrete floor, but the flame pattern clearly indicated the use of an accelerant. The barbershop had a hardwood floor, making the pattern a bit more difficult to discern, but it indicated the use of an accelerant. "These may be linked," Edward said. "What did we learn about the rug fire? How did it start?"
"Electrical short in a storeroom, spreading quickly because of the materials inside the store and an accelerant," Rose read from her notes. "Though, the use of an accelerant was inconclusive because of all of the rugs. That place would have gone up quickly because of the merchandise."
"Our preliminary findings for the barbershop fire are the same, Rose," Edward said. "There was an electrical short in the back storeroom. But, that doesn't make sense. Wade gave us the most recent inspection forms. They were clean. No issues."
"Wade could also be lying," Rose said.
"I don't think so," Edward muttered, shaking his head. "The inspection guys came through the day before yesterday. There's no way that they could cause this much damage in two days. Look at the wires close to where the fire started. They look cut, clean through." He pointed to the picture. "This was deliberate and from Wade's conversation with us, he's just as flummoxed as we are as to how it happened."
"Check with the rug shop. See if there are any indications that they had any inspection issues," Rose said, flipping through the file.
Edward typed on the computer, pulling up the inspection records. "Like the barbershop, they'd had a clear inspection a couple of days prior to the fire. No issues. Nothing to report. In fact, the inspector wanted to take photos to share with other business owners," he said.
"I think we have a firebug," Rose frowned. "Someone is deliberately causing these fires. This must be their signature."
"Could there be more?" Edward asked. "Two fires do not indicate a pattern. Yes, it's highly suspect, but it could be just a fluke."
"I want to run this through the database. I want to see if we can find any other possible arson cases. Start typing, Cullen," Rose nodded. "It may take some time, but I have a sneaking suspicion that something fucked up is happening."
"Okay, what we know," Edward murmured. "Recent inspections, coming up clean with no issues."
"Electrical fires with possible tampering. Cut wires, incorrect fuses, and possible rodent damage," Rose added. Edward typed it in. "Oh, both places are family-owned, private companies. Not large corporations."
"Okay, got it. We also suspect the use of an accelerant," he said. "Time frame?"
"Let's go back ten years," Rose suggested, arching a brow at Edward.
"Hmmmm, that may be too long of a time. I'm not sure that the files from ten years ago are held on the same computer database," Edward said. "Let's try five years. If we don't have anything, we can go further back in the archives. We'd have to go to the commissioner's office in the city center, but we can start here." Edward put the dates and hit enter. "Damn."
"It's going to take at least a day for the computer to go through the files," Edward snorted. "Maybe longer."
"Okay, let's wrap up the paperwork to send over to Wade so he can submit it to his insurance adjuster. We're ruling this accidental or intentional?" Rose asked.
"Intentional, but the owner is not at fault. He'll get a payout to rebuild," Edward said. "And, I don't know about you, but I need a nap."
"You can get a nap. I've got to get beautified for this benefit tomorrow. I've got a date with my stylist. All of this is going to be upgraded," Rose smirked, flipping her golden hair over her shoulders.
"Who are you going with?" Edward asked.
"Peter," Rose shrugged. "He works on the second shift."
"Peter is a douche, Rose," Edward snorted. "Why are you going with him?"
"Because he's got a big cock," Rose answered.
"And, you know this why?" Edward laughed.
"I may, or may not have walked into the guy's locker room when he was showering," Rose smirked. "It's been a long fucking time since I've had sex. Peter is mildly good looking with a ginormous dick. Yes, he can be a douche, but it's not marriage. It's a benefit and I want to get laid." She picked up her phone, tapping on it.
"What are you doing?" Edward asked.
"Adding a bikini wax," Rose answered. "If Peter is going to fuck me, I better be smooth like a baby."
"And on that note, I'll drop this paperwork off and I'm going to go. Too much information, Rosalie. I swear," Edward grumbled, picking up the insurance forms for Wade. "I'll see you tomorrow."
Before Bella began getting ready for the gala, she made sure that the apartment was cleaned and that the sheets were changed. A girl could hope, she thought. She had been so aroused last night that it took less than a minute for her to come after Edward left. Once the apartment was in tip-top shape, she took a bath, since her hair had already been styled, being careful not to get it wet. Her stylist had added more conditioner, then blew it straight. To add some drama, the stylist pulled the one side over while the other draped over her shoulder.
Opening her panty drawer, she selected a pair of lace LA Perla panties. The lace created a beautiful trail of winding florals against her skin and is finished with a delicate scalloped edge. "Edward is going to like these," she said aloud, examining herself in the full-length mirror. She would have to forgo a bra, placing a set of black lace petals over her already erect nipples. Fuck, she was going to be a hot mess before the evening even started. Thankfully, the dress didn't have a zipper in the most awkward location and she was able to step into it, pulling it up over her hips, then sliding the straps over her shoulders.
Admiring herself once more in the mirror, she smiled as she ran her fingers along her shoulders. She loved the dress, though it was purchased because she hoped that it would make Edward's knees go weak. It showcased every inch of her curves.
Mission accomplished. I hope.
Sitting on the bench at the end of her bed, she slipped on her black peep toe pumps with stiletto high heels. Standing, she went over to her jewelry armoire, selecting a pair of diamond linear drop earrings and a diamond tennis bracelet. After placing her ID, some cash, compact and lipstick in her clutch, she made sure that the lamps by the bed were on, just in case and went out to the living room to wait for Edward.
Looking up at the clock, she knew that Edward would be arriving at any moment. As much as she loved seeing him in his tight jeans and work t-shirt, she couldn't wait to see him in a tuxedo. Before she lost herself completely in her thoughts of Edward, her phone rang. The security guard announced that Edward was there. Bella granted him entrance and waited for his knock. It came a few moments later.
Walking to the door, she checked the image on the control panel, seeing that it was Edward she unlocked the door and opened. The sight before her was beyond anything she could imagine. He was dressed in a black custom-fitted tuxedo that emphasized his broad shoulders, trim hips and muscular body.
Edward couldn't form words to describe the goddess before him. It wasn't just her beauty that took his breath away, but it was also her intelligence and caring, her empathy and dedication. He had seen her at work when she had given his mother her medical exams and spoken to her with compassion, love and understanding. Her tone was like a butterfly's caress, easing the worries of her patients away.
He had to have her in his arms. Reaching out, he pulled her close and buried his face into her neck. Inhaling deeply, he allowed her soothing, but sexy scent to calm his nerves. All day he had been concerned that he would say or do something stupid, ruining the evening. When she was in his arms, all those fears drifted away.
Placing a lingering kiss behind her ear, he pulled back. He stared at her, taking in her beauty. "You look exquisite."
"Thank you," she breathed, her skin tingling with excitement. "You look mighty fine as well, Mr. Cullen. A man in a well-cut tuxedo? That's porn for most women."
"Come on. We need to leave before I pick you and carry you back to the bedroom; the benefit be damned," he growled with a cheeky grin.
Stepping out of his embrace, Bella picked up her phone from its charger, placed it in her clutch, and took Edward's arm. The ride down on the elevator was done in silence. The air sizzled with anticipation. Both were excited for the gala, but the prospect of time afterward. They arrived in the lobby, strolled outside, and towards a car parked in the front.
"Edward, is that your car?" Bella questioned. She didn't know the name or year of the car, but it was a classic.
"No. It was my grandfather's. Dad keeps it in the garage, only taking it out for special occasions. This is the first time he allowed me to take it," Edward disclosed.
"What is it?" Bella asked, rubbing her finger along the fender.
"A 1939 Alfa Romeo," Edward answered.
"Wow. I can't believe it's that old," Bella murmured. "It's in pristine condition."
"Grandfather purchased it new. Over the years, he became an avid collector of fine automobiles. His enthusiasm rubbed off on my dad," Edward explained with a chuckle. "I don't think Mom even knows how many cars he has. We have garages all over Washington with cars like this."
"I would love to see them," Bella said.
"Bella, my father would do anything or give you anything you ask," Edward breathed, giving her a tender smile.
"Because you healed the love of his life," Edward explained, placing a kiss on her temple.
"I just did my job," Bella whispered, her face warming.
"Baby, you did more than that. You healed my mother, giving her a new chance at life. I spoke with her and she said that when she was first diagnosed, she was resigned to a death sentence. After meeting with you, you gave her hope and it was your compassion that made her stronger." Edward took her face into his hands, caressing the soft skin of her face. Bella's eyes were brimmed with tears at his fervent proclamation. He wiped a tear away, not wanting her to feel sad. With a crooked grin, he chuckled, "Now, let's get that sexy ass on the leather seat and get going to the benefit."
With a watery giggle, Bella nodded. "That sounds perfect."
Edward helped her into the front seat, closing the door behind her. Jogging around to the driver's side, he slid into the smooth black leather. He started the car, revving the engine. With a wink, he pulled away from the curb. Bella loved the car and asked question after question about it on the way to the gala.
At the Edgewater Hotel, Edward got out and hurried around the car. One of the valet attendants was about to open the passenger door. "I'll do that," Edward called out, arching his brow. Opening the door, he held out his hand to Bella, who took it and stepped out. When her palm touched his, electricity zipped through their skin. He brought her hand to his lips, kissing her knuckles.
"Thank you," she said, her brown eyes sparkling with excitement.
Edward handed the keys to the attendant. He shot him a look that if he put a scratch on the car, the attendant would be a dead man. With an anxious nod, the valet handed him a ticket, his hand shaking nervously. Edward could help but chuckle.
They walked up the steps, arm in arm, as the cameras were flashing and the press were calling out to Edward. They all knew who he was because of Carlisle. The handsome son of the mayor was always news.
"Mr. Cullen, who is your date?" several reporters called out. "Is she your girlfriend?"
Edward had always hated the questions, the invasion of privacy. Tonight, he was incredibly proud and honored to have Bella on his arm. "Dr. Isabella Swan."
"Dr. Swan, how long have you two been dating? Are you living together?" the reporters yelled.
Ignoring those questions, they continued up the steps and to the front entrance where a volunteer in a tuxedo was checking invitations. "Name?"
"Edward Cullen and Dr. Isabella Swan."
After finding their names on the clipboard, the volunteer smiled and stepped aside, "Thank you and enjoy your evening."
Walking in, they were in awe of the decor. The black and white theme filled every corner of the reception hall. Tables were covered in black and white striped tablecloths, black napkins, and gold silverware. The most striking element of the decor was the dance floor. It had black and white stripes with a platform where a big band was playing.
"Edward, Bella," Esme called out, rushing over to them with Carlisle following behind. She hugged both of them, a wide grin on her face. "Don't you two look spectacular."
"So do you, Esme. I love your dress," Bella exclaimed, admiring how great she looked, even after her cancer diagnosis. Damn, she hoped that looked that good when she was Esme's age. Bella looked at Carlisle, who was eyeing his wife, much like his son eyed her.
"I told you this was the one. Doesn't she look stunning, Edward?" Esme asked, taking Bella's hands.
"Yes," he said, smiling down at Bella's lovely face. "Words cannot describe her beauty."
Esme felt like crying. Her son was in love. There was no doubt about it. The look in his eyes as he looked at Bella showed it clearly. "Carlisle, do you see it?" she whispered, her voice cracking.
"Yes, my love," Carlisle answered, wrapping his arm around her waist and pulling her close.
Edward was lost in Bella's eyes and didn't hear anything until he was slapped on the shoulder.
"Cullen, didn't know you were coming to the shindig," Peter boomed, then he saw Bella. He looked at her, his eyes penetrating as he took in her form. "Damn, aren't you a sweet little thing?"
"Johnson," Edward growled, fisting his hands ready to strike.
"Edward, Bella," Rose called out walking towards them. When she stood beside Peter, he put his arm around her waist and began to pull her close. However, Rose pulled away giving Peter a dirty look. He held up his hands with a smarmy grin. Rose looked back to the group, seeing the mayor and his wife. "Oh, Mrs. Cullen, thank you for seating us to your table."
"Of course, my dear. Have you seen Alice?" Esme asked.
"Not yet, but she said she was bringing someone special," Rose remarked.
Bella turned to Rose and mouthed, Jasper?
Rose nodded with a wicked smile.
"Damn," Bella murmured under her breath.
Edward leaned down, and whispered in her ear. "Who is she bringing?"
Biting her lip, she looked into his crystal green eyes, "You'll see."
"Vixen," he groaned.
"You have no idea how much," she purred.
"Come on, everyone. They're getting ready to serve dinner," Esme said.
The couples made their way through the crowd, stopped several times by people wanting to greet the mayor and his family. Finally, getting to their table, which was the best seat in the house, they saw Charlie, Renee, and Emmett already there.
"Has anyone seen Jasper?" Esme asked, looking around the room.
"No, though I do know that he has a date tonight," Emmett grumbled, upset over the fact that his date had to bail at the last moment dealing with food poisoning.
Everyone sat down, greeting each other and introducing Peter and Rose to Emmett. Peter barely acknowledged Emmett, while Rose greeted him with one of her killer smiles. Why hadn't Bella or Edward ever told her what a drop dead handsome man Emmett Cullen was?
As they were placing their drink orders, Bella saw Alice and Jasper making their way through the crowd. When they reached the table, Esme looked up and gasped. "Jasper, Alice! When? How?" she stuttered.
Taking the two remaining seats, they told Esme the story on how they met and how long they had been seeing each other. The fact that they were fucking like rabbits was obviously not discussed.
Over the next hour, everyone at the table drank and ate the perfectly prepared meal. The caterers had done an exceptional job. At the end of the meal, the chairwoman for the foundation for underprivileged children, Megan McDonald, came to the microphone to thank everyone for their donations. The foundation would receive the money that had been raised that evening. The dinner was a thousand dollar a plate and there had been a silent auction for donated items. Both Bella and Edward had put in bids on items, in hope that they would win.
"I would like to thank all of you who came this evening. The foundation would like to give a big thank you to the Cullen Foundation for the generous million dollar donation, Emmett Cullen of Cullen Enterprises for his million dollar donation, and Dr. Isabella Swan for her five hundred thousand dollar donation. Please accept these white roses as a symbol of your generosity," Megan said, motioning to the server who brought over the roses.
Esme, Emmett, and Bella accepted the roses and nodded their heads to the crowd who were giving them a round of applause. The room finally quieted down and Megan announced that it was time to dance.
Peter leaned over and whispered into Rose's ear. "Come on baby, let's go rub our bodies together."
Rose turned, giving him a cold expression. Sure, Peter was nice to look at, but Edward was right. He truly was a douche. "Peter, we can dance if you like, but I don't appreciate your comment."
"Sorry, babe," he retorted, not sounding apologetic at all.
Peter, Rose, Jasper, and Alice all got up and headed to the dance floor. Bella was having a conversation with Esme concerning the new center that was being built with the funds raised that evening. Edward had been shocked when he heard the amount of money that she had donated. Picking up the white rose that she had laid by her plate, he began staring at it, thinking about her. He couldn't believe that he had been blessed to be with someone as kind hearted as her. She had brought him back to life, healing the deep jagged scars on his soul. Placing the rose behind his ear, he reached out and took her hand.
"Come dance with me," he murmured, his eyes full of emotion.
"Excuse us," Bella said to his parents and hers. They walked out to the dance floor and the band began playing "Someone to Watch Over Me." Taking her into his arms, they began to sway to the music. His hand held hers above his heart. Their movements were fluid, sinuous.
As they danced, Bella stared into his eyes. However, something caught her eye over Edward's ear. Bella saw the rose and giggled. "It looks good on you."
Leaning into her ear so she would hear him, "And, you will look fantastic draped naked over my body. I can't wait to make love to you."
Bella's gaze heated and she stepped closer to him. "Kiss me, Edward."
"You don't have to ask me twice," he murmured, brushing his lips over hers. She melted into his arms, lost in the softness of his mouth and the security of his embrace. They lost themselves in the kiss until the music changed to something more upbeat.
A loud smack broke them a part. "God damn it, Peter. I told you to stop!" Rose sneered. She was glaring at him, her eyes blazing.
"Come on, Rosie. You've been wanting to fuck me for years," Peter said, stepping back toward her. "You want this."
"Yeah, I want you," Rose scoffed. "I saw you flirting with Bella. You got the number of our waitress and got a blow job from the bartender."
"We were just kissing," Peter argued.
"With your dick?" Rose asked snidely. "You are a walking, talking sexual harassment suit. I should have listened to my inner voice. Lose my number, Peter." She walked away, making her way to the bathroom.
"I should go," Bella frowned.
"Rose needs a friend. I'd go, but I fear for my manhood," Edward said, looking over at Peter, who was seething. "I'll deal with the douche."
"Do you know him?" Bella asked, narrowing her eyes at him.
"He's an arson investigator, but he works on another team," Edward muttered. "Go, beautiful. I'll be right here."
"Thank you," Bella said, kissing him sweetly before scurrying off the
dance floor, following Rose.
Removing the rose, Edward blinked at Peter and walked toward him. Charlie was already on the dance floor. From the red color of his face, he was not happy. His boss took Peter's arm, dragging him toward the entrance.
"Chief, it's not what you think," Peter snapped.
"You represent the department, even when you're not on a scene," Charlie growled. "You were invited to this event. You were on a date with one woman and you were openly flirting with my daughter, got the number of the waitress and …" He couldn't say the last thing. It wasn't like Charlie didn't enjoy an occasional blowjob, but at a thousand-dollar-a-plate benefit? Not even remotely appropriate. "Peter, I'm extremely disappointed in your choices. Take a few days."
"You're firing me?" Peter yelled. "Talk about an abuse of power!"
"I'm not firing you. I'm sending you to a sexual harassment seminar seeing as you need a refresher on how to treat your colleagues," Charlie answered, crossing his arms.
"Can you believe this shit?" Peter asked Edward.
"I know, right?" Edward snorted. "The Chief is well within his rights to send you to that seminar. It was my date that you were undressing with your eyes."
"So? Dr. Swan has got some amazing tits," Peter smirked. "I bet she's hella freaky. I'd slide into her tight …"
Charlie was about to hit Peter, but Edward held him back. "Chief, I know you're pissed. I am, too."
"Again, she's my daughter," Charlie yelled, pulling away from Edward. He glowered at Peter. "Abuse of power or not, you've crossed the line. I was going to just suspend you until you took the sexual harassment course and then let you back. But, to disrespect my daughter? That crosses the line. Your shit will be mailed to you. You're done with the Seattle Fire Department." He blinked at a security guard. "This man is no longer welcome here."
"I'll take care of it, sir," the guard said.
"Come on, Edward. I need a drink," Charlie sneered, walking back into the venue and to the bar. He looked at the bartender, eyeing her skeptically. "Scotch, neat. Make it a double. The same for my friend."
"I'll just have some water," Edward said. "I have to drive home, Chief."
"Renee got us a limo and a room in the hotel," Charlie said, taking the drink from the bartender. "Do you know Peter?"
"Not that well, but he's a jerk, obviously," Edward answered. "I warned Rose about his douchiness."
"He's gotten several letters in his file for inappropriate behavior. He has some pretty backward thoughts about women in the workplace, especially female firefighters," Charlie sighed. "He's a great investigator. If he wasn't such a good investigator, I would have fired him years ago. However, you're so much better." He finished his scotch, staring at nothing. "Take care of my daughter, Edward. I see how much you love her."
"Chief, we're just starting to build a relationship," he said.
"You look at her like she's your world," Charlie breathed. "Thank you for your help with Peter. I'm going to find my wife. I need to dance with my bride." He walked away, finding his wife talking to Megan. He spun Renee away and they disappeared onto the dance floor.
Edward walked back to the table and found Bella. She was sitting with his mother, but they were watching Emmett and Rose on the dance floor. "Everything okay?" he asked his two favorite women.
"Rose is fine. Emmett was already talking to her when I found her near the bathroom," Bella explained.
"Mom?" Edward asked.
"My feet hurt. It's been a long time since I've worn heels," Esme answered. "So, your girlfriend was keeping me company." Bella blushed, blinking to Edward with a sexy smile. "Now, my feet may hurt, but I'm certain you two are not done dancing. Go. Have fun!"
"You sure?" Bella asked.
"I'm fine," Esme chided.
Edward stood up, holding his hand out to Bella. She took it and she put the rose back behind his ear. He laughed, spinning her into his arms and dipping her deeply. With a kiss to her neck, he led her to the dance floor where they spent the rest of their night. Their dances were just prolonged foreplay. After another slow dance, Bella looked up at Edward through her lashes. "I think we've been here long enough, Edward. Spending the night in your arms … it makes me yearn for more," she whispered. She kissed his lips, barely grazing his mouth with hers. "Make me yours, Edward."
He pulled back, searching her eyes. They were sparkling with desire, certainty. "No turning back, Bella. I'm yours and you're mine."
"Yes," she nodded. "Want to get out of here?"
He crashed his lips against hers, forgetting where he was momentarily. Pressing his forehead to hers, he nodded. "Fuck, yes."
A/N: We had every intention to get to the citrusy goodness in this chapter, but it was already a beast. So, that's coming NEXT chapter.
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