When the alarm goes off the following morning, it takes me a while to figure out why I’m so warm and constricted. Slowly it dawns on me that Edward’s lying sprawled half on top of me and fast asleep. With some effort, I manage to silence the alarm, surprisingly without waking Edward either by the noise or the fact I have to stretch to my limit in order to reach the damn thing. He does give a waffling snort, nuzzling his face further into my back as I settle back down again.

Memories of last night come flooding into my mind, and I have to burrow my face into my pillow to stifle the moan that escapes me. I want nothing more than to turn around and hold him, kiss him, taste him, but part of me is afraid. I know what he said last night, and I know he’s the one that initiated things between us, but that little nagging voice in the back of my head won’t shut up.

What if he regrets it?

Now that I’ve had a small taste of being with Edward, I almost feel like a man dying of thirst with the mirage of water just out of reach. I want more with him. Need it on a level I had thought never to experience again, and it scares me more than I can even say.

I force myself to lie still, to etch this moment into my memory – the feel of Edward’s weight on me, his warmth, the sense of rightness at waking up with him that’s trying to come through. If this is all I get, I want to be able to remember it forever.

As if sensing the conflicted feelings going through me – though more likely it’s the subconscious tightening of my muscles – Edward wakes up, planting a soft kiss on my back before murmuring into my skin, “Mornin’. What’re you thinking so hard about?”

I can feel him stretch his body next to mine, hear the contented near-purr as he settles in next to me, one arm flung across my back while resting his head on the other. He stares at me with a quiet smile, blinking blearily. It’s clear he’s not fully awake, but the sight of him like this has me aching inside.

He’s beautiful.

He hums as he leans in for a brief kiss, then settles himself back down again with a questioning brow. “Everything okay?” he asks quietly.

Instead of answering, I turn onto my side and pull him closer, burrowing my face into his neck and inhaling deeply. It isn’t until I feel his hands stroking my back gently and hear Edward making soothing shushing noises that I realize I’m trembling. Edward places an awkward kiss on my temple and whispers, “Shh, I’ve got you, Carlisle. I’ve got you.”

The sob that wrenches itself out of my throat startles me, as do the tears I can feel spilling from my eyes, and for a moment I’m wondering if I’m going insane. Tightening my hold on Edward, I struggle to figure out myself what’s going on.

Edward continues to whisper quietly, assuring me he’s here and that he isn’t going anywhere. His quiet, “Everything’ll be okay, baby. Shhh, I understand, sweetheart… shhh, shhh,” brings me up short, and I lean back to look at him in confusion.

“Y-you understand?” I croak, wiping furiously at my face to dry the tears.

Edward smiles sadly, nodding as he cups my cheek, his eyes searching mine. “Yeah… don’t you?”

I shake my head, because I really don’t, and I feel like a complete idiot for it.

He brushes his lips against mine, then lies back with a soft sigh, his fingers trailing over my cheek. “You’re freaking out because you feel this, too,” he says, taking my hand and placing it over his heart before continuing. “Tell me, Carlisle. How many men have you been with since losing Liam?”

His voice is sincere, without a hint of reproach in it. I frown, thinking for a moment, then answer hoarsely, “Four, why?”

A sad smile flits across his lips. “Did you ever allow any of them to get close to you?” he asks quietly.

My frown deepens, unsure what he means. All the men I’ve been with since Liam, I’ve had feelings for – had relationships with, albeit some were shorter than most.

Edward squeezes my hand, keeping it in place over his heart. “Carlisle, other than with Liam, have you ever had anything like this?”

That, I can answer readily enough. I shake my head. “No,” I whisper.

Something lights up in his eyes as he smiles at my answer. “Don’t you see,” he says, his voice filled with quiet patience, “you’re freaking out because of how strongly you feel. You said yourself you and Liam fell hard and fast. You told me yourself how much you loved him and how hard it was to lose him the way you did.”

Edward pauses, shifting so I’m on my back and he’s hovering over me again, gazing down at me with so much emotion that it takes my breath away. Edward’s lips brush briefly over my eyelids, my nose, my chin, before lightly claiming my lips. Then he smiles and cups my cheek again. “I’m not saying you love me, or I you… we’re not there yet. But there’s something here, baby, something strong, and it scares you and I get that.”

I frown, struggling to grasp what he’s telling me but surprised to find his words ring true, somewhere deep down inside. Still, there’s a knot in my stomach that won’t quite go away. I swear Edward can read my mind, because he smiles ruefully and says, “Being with me won’t be replacing Liam, Carlisle. I’m not him, and I’m not looking to be him. I want to be with you, for you and only you. I hope you feel the same about me. It’s okay to love again, Carlisle. He wouldn’t want you to be alone – not if he was the guy you painted him to be. I know I wouldn’t want you to be, if it were me.”

His thumb brushes my cheekbone, his weight comforting as he settles himself further onto me, the tip of his nose brushing against mine affectionately. He gives me time to process everything, offering up a solid comfort as I let everything he’s said sink in.

How can he know me so well? I wonder. My eyes search his as I wrap my arms around him. I can’t help the smile that slowly spreads on my lips when I realize the truth of his words. Edward is here, and seems to want to stay to find out where this… something… can lead. I close my eyes and take a relaxed breath for the first time this morning, that sense of rightness that wanted to come to the surface when I woke up now fully blooming inside of me.

Tangling my fingers into his hair, I pull his face closer and kiss him. Pressing our foreheads together, I smile, my voice still rough with emotion. “Thank you. I don’t know what I ever did to deserve it, but-”

He cuts me off with another kiss, grinning as he says, “You’re welcome. Now… I hate to say this, but we really need to get a move on if you’re gonna make it to work on time.”

I groan, thumping my head back onto my pillow. The last thing I want to do right now is leave this bed – leave him. A glance at the time confirms his assessment, though. I’ll barely have enough time to hop in the shower before I have to leave, and I can forget about making coffee or something to eat.

Edward raises himself up and tickles my sides, grinning when I squeak and squirm. I hate being ticklish, but I can’t bring myself to make him stop. “Up and at ’em,” Edward chuckles, then gets up.

With a sigh, I get up as well, trying to ignore the fact that Edward is standing within arm’s reach, still completely naked and delicious-looking. I definitely don’t have time to fool around right now. The second I’m on my feet, he smacks my ass and orders, “Hurry up.”

Narrowing my eyes at him, I stick my tongue out like the adult I am, which only makes him laugh. Edward reaches for me, cradling my face in his hands and plants a big kiss on my lips. “To get you started,” he says with a wink.

Reluctantly, I head to the bathroom to shower, shave, and brush my teeth. When I’m done, I walk into the bedroom to find the bed made, and all traces of Edward gone and my heart sinks. For all of two seconds, I’m paralyzed, and then the smells from the kitchen waft into the room, and I blink in surprise.

Since I’m still in my towel, I decide to finish getting dressed before searching him out. As soon as I’m finished, I follow my nose to the kitchen to find Edward pouring coffee. I stare at the two plates of eggs, bacon, and toast on the counter, only looking up when Edward holds out my cup to me – coffee fixed just how I like it.

“Thank you,” I murmur, pulling him in for a kiss. “I can’t believe-”

“Shh, eat. I know you’re running late,” he says as he places a finger on my lips to stop me talking.

Grabbing a plate, I take a seat at the table. Edward follows, smiling when I moan in appreciation at my first bite. I have no idea what he’s done with these eggs, besides scrambling them, but they’re delicious. He reaches over the table to take my hand, squeezing it lightly as he watches me carefully. “Are you okay?” he whispers.

Swallowing the bite I’ve just taken, I nod, smiling. “Yeah, I think I am. Thanks to you.”

His lips curve up on one side and he squeezes my hand again. “I’m glad.”

Taking a sip of my coffee to buy myself a few seconds of time, as well as to try to calm my increasing heart beat, I sigh. “So… would you like to have dinner again tonight?” I ask hopefully.

His face falls as he shakes his head. “I’d love to, but I have to work tonight. Charlotte needs me to help out at the bar. Some party or other. I’m sorry.”

The disappointment settles in my stomach, but I nod all the same. “That’s… that’s alright,” I force myself to say, even though I’m panicking on the inside. I’m almost afraid to ask, but I can’t stop myself, though I look down at my plate instead of him. My voice sounds hoarse when I say, “When… when can you?”

Edward threads his fingers through mine, brushing his thumb along mine. “Well, I was kinda hoping you’d go on a date with me on Friday?”

His tone holds a slight edge of teasing in it, and when I look up it is to see him grinning. “A date?” I ask, stunned despite all we’ve talked about.

“Mhmm. A date. As in dinner at a nice restaurant, maybe a movie after, or something else if you’d rather?”

My eyes widen. “Really?”

Edward laughs, rolling his eyes a little. “Just because of last night, does not mean I’ve given up on my plans of wooing you, Mr. Cullen,” he teases.

I duck my chin as I blush, giving a quiet snort of disbelief. Taking a steadying breath, I look up at him and smile. “You’re something else, you know that?”

“Yep, I do. So… would you go on a date with me?” he asks, watching me closely.

Guiding his fingers to my lips, I nod. “I’d be honored.”

Edward’s smile is almost blinding. He takes a steadying breath of his own, as if he can’t quite believe this, either, and asks, “Anywhere in particular you’d like to go? A favorite restaurant?”

I shake my head. I do have a place I like, but I find I’d rather he surprise me. This time, at least. “You pick. I’m curious to find out how a young man like you would ‘woo’ a guy.”

I grin as he narrows his eyes playfully and then we both end up laughing. The clock chimes seven-thirty, and I sigh, not wanting our time to be over just yet. Unfortunately, I have to leave for work if I’m to open the doors at eight, since I have a shipment coming in. Taking a last bite of food, I grab my plate and take it to the kitchen, intending to take care of the dishes when I come home.

Edward follows me and scrapes our plates clean while I finish my coffee. He waits for me to be done before wrapping his arms around my waist and kissing me tenderly. “Come on, let’s get you off to work,” he murmurs.

Sighing heavily, I mutter under my breath, “Don’t wanna,” and pout.

Edward chuckles, rolling his eyes as he slaps my ass, turns me around by the shoulders and all but marches me to the front door. He lets me pause long enough to grab my keys and my messenger bag before continuing on out the door. As soon as I lock up, he slips his arm around my waist and we walk to the elevator.

We wait in silence and I can’t stop smiling at how right this feels. Though I surprise myself by wishing I’d be coming home to Edward, instead of an empty apartment. Once we’re inside the lift, I hit the button for the ground floor then go to hit the one for the fifth floor, but Edward stops me. He pushes me against the wall, his lips brushing against mine as he whispers, “Don’t. I want to have just a little longer with you since I won’t see you again ’til Friday.”

“Okay,” I barely manage before he kisses me deeply.

I’m completely lost in him to the point where the ding of the elevator reaching the ground floor startles me. I pull away, gasping for breath and laugh even as I shake my head. “Wow,” I mutter. I haven’t felt like this since Liam, and I’m feeling kind of heady with it.

Edward pecks my lips once and cups my cheek. Smiling fondly, he murmurs, “Have a good day, babe.”

Drawing a shaky breath, I nod and smile. “You, too.”

I can’t seem to make my legs move away from him, though. Edward chuckles as the doors start to close and hits the button to open them again. He actually has to nudge me out of the elevator before I can gather myself enough to actually leave. When I turn to look over my shoulder, he waves, grinning as the doors close and he’s gone.

“Shit,” I mutter as I catch a glance at the clock on the display above the office that faces our building, right as it’s about to change to show that it’s a cool forty two degrees outside.

I all but run to make it to work on time, opening my door just as the delivery guy pulls up. After that it’s strangely busy, and I’m pretty much on the move non-stop all day, which is probably a good thing as the customers and projects keep me from being too distracted by thoughts of Edward.

Still, whenever there is a lull in business, my thoughts all seem to revolve around Edward – and Liam. I find myself wondering what Liam would make of all of this. Whether he would like Edward. I grin when I realize that he very likely would have – not to mention found him hot, too.

When the clock chimes six, I’m surprised to find my day over already and have to scramble to get through my closing duties. When I finally am able to walk home, I feel… off. Torn, somehow. Part of me is happy – excited, even – about this new development with Edward. But then I remember I won’t be seeing him tonight and feel hesitant. Not to mention like some lovesick fool over him.

I swing by the little Chinese place around the corner, not feeling in the mood to cook tonight. It isn’t until I walk into my kitchen that I remember the dishes from that morning and I sag against the fridge with a sigh. Not because of needing to wash them, but because I remember doing them last night with Edward and missing him with a force that takes me by surprise.

Scrubbing my face with my hands, I groan. “Get a grip, Carlisle. You’re not some horny teenager anymore, pining for his first crush.”

With a shake of my head, I push away from the fridge and square my shoulders, determined to not let my emotions get the best of me. I go change into a pair of pajama pants and a t-shirt, not in the mood for anything but comfort at the moment, and then grab chopsticks from the drawer, my take-out, and settle down on the couch.

I’m flipping through channels as I eat, trying to find something to hold my interest, but to no avail. With an annoyed grunt, I turn on my PS3 – a gift from Garrett and Kate – and switch to netflix, hoping to find something to watch on there. I don’t play games much, but Garrett insisted it’d still be worthwhile, and I can’t say I disagree.

It doesn’t take me long to decide on Dr. Who and as soon as I hit play, I put my feet up on the coffee table and settle in to watch and finish my dinner. Something niggles at me as I watch the Doctor get the grand tour of the Torchwood office in London, but I can’t place what it is.

I’ve always enjoyed the show and was delighted to find they’d made new episodes and that there were five seasons for me to watch. The Ninth Doctor was great, but there’s something about Ten that’s always gotten to me. When he gets transported into the parallel universe and is greeted by Rose’s father, it suddenly hits me.

Edward. He reminds me of Edward.

My eyes are glued to the screen now as I take in the hair – similarly unruly to Edward’s, albeit brown as opposed to Edward’s auburn – the way he smiles crookedly, his eyes crinkling in that way Edward’s do, too.

I blush when I realize I’m adjusting myself. “Oh, for fuck’s sake, Cullen.”

Crossing my arms, I secure my hands under my armpits to keep from doing anything, strangely embarrassed by the whole thing despite being alone. I have to concentrate to keep my focus on the show – a first, for me, since normally it has my complete attention.

When the show’s over I sit back, mildly stunned at how it ended. “Wow, poor Doctor,” I murmur. “Poor guy’s always ending up alone.”

Kind of like me.

With a sigh, I scrub my face and push the thought away. There’s no point in feeling sorry for myself, after all. Even before Edward I’d made the choice to be alone after several failed attempts, and surely whatever fascination Edward might have for me now, it won’t last. How could it? He’s so much younger than me. Best to enjoy this – whatever this is – while it lasts and deal with the aftermath later.

Stop it.

Pressing the heels of my hands in my eyes, I groan, hating the downward spiral I seem to be in. How it’s even possible for me to feel as strongly as I do is beyond me, but I know – deep down – that these thoughts are coming from my own insecurities as well as the strength of my attraction to Edward. Can it really have been so long ago that I’ve felt even remotely like this that I’ve forgotten how to handle my emotions?

Shaking my head at myself, I turn off the PS3 and the TV in order to go take care of the dishes before going to bed. It’s early, still, but I feel worn down and tired. It doesn’t take me long to do them, but as I’m putting everything in its place, I notice that Edward forgot his dishes. My fingers dance along the edge of the casserole dish. I smile and close my eyes briefly, remembering.

My first instinct is to take them to Edward, just so I can see him again, but I know he’s working tonight. I wonder how he’s doing, whether the party’s very busy, and if he’s having fun. With a sigh, I place his dishes in the bag he’d brought the salad in and place it on the table by the front door. That done, I decide to call it a night and crawl into bed. It takes me a while, but when I finally fall asleep, it is with a smile on my face and thoughts of my date with Edward the following day.

At the first sound of the alarm, I’m up. Up, but not fully alert. All night I’ve been having dreams that now feel like wisps of smoke, slipping through my fingers. All I’m left with is a lingering mix of feelings: content and an almost bone-deep ache that’s drifting in the background. Sitting up against my headboard, I scrub my face and try to figure out why, but I can’t.

With a sigh, I get up to get ready for my day. I’m just going through the motions in a half-fog and before I’m even really aware, I’m on my way out the door. Not even my morning coffee’s been able to shake me out of it, but the second I move to put the key in the lock after closing the door, I am instantly alert.

There’s a note taped over the lock, ensuring I’ll see it. My name’s written in neat penmanship and I know without a doubt who it’s from, without even looking. I smile as I pull the note off the door and open it, letting my keys dangle from my finger as I read it.

Dear Carlisle,

I’ve made reservations for tonight. I’ll pick you up at seven sharp. Please dress up? Dying to see you in a suit. Promise I’ll make it worth the trouble.

I missed you and can’t wait to see you again.


Biting my lip, I chuckle and shake my head as I read the note twice more. A warm bubble seems to make itself at home in my chest as I carefully fold the note before placing it in my pocket and mutter, “Wonder what he’s got planned? He wants to see me in a suit?”

Locking the door finally, I walk along in a daze, not even really registering the trip down the elevator. The bright sunlight when I step outside, though, pulls me out of it. I smile, hoping the weather will stay nice throughout the day.

Work keeps me just busy enough that it won’t allow me to think too much on what’s in store for me tonight. The only exception being a phone call from Esme around lunch time, asking if I’m able to come to dinner that night.

Tucking the phone between my ear and shoulder, I rifle through some orders, sorting them out in order of priority. Pausing, I bite my lip and I sigh. “I can’t, Esme. I… I have a date tonight.”

I cringe, knowing the torrent of questions sure to be unleashed and Esme doesn’t disappoint.

A date? Really? With who? Is he handsome? Where did you meet him? Why haven’t you mentioned anything before about him? Come on, Carbunkle! I want to hear all about him!”

Taking a seat on the bar stool I keep behind the counter, I sigh again and run my fingers through my hair as I try to figure out how much to tell. “Yes, really, sis. His name’s Edward, far too hot for my own good, and he lives in my building. It’s all still… new, Esme – really new – and I’m… not really comfortable talking about this yet. Please?”

Holding my breath, I close my eyes, praying she’ll drop it. To my great surprise, she does.

Alright, Carlisle. I’ll leave you alone about it. For now. But you better dish the dirt soon!”

With a sigh of relief, I nod my agreement and say, “Of course. Promise. Give my love to Charles, alright?”

Will do. Have fun tonight, okay? Let loose a little. You deserve it. Love you.”

“Love you, too,” I reply before closing the connection.

A nervous knot’s formed in my stomach during our conversation and it takes me awhile to really pin it down. I’ve never not shared anything like this with my sister. I’ve never gone into great detail or anything, but I’ve never kept anything from her either. Still, it just didn’t feel right to talk about Edward.

“Not yet, anyway,” I whisper.

Something tells me that that kind of conversation won’t go well. A small voice niggles at the back of my mind, wondering if it’s her disapproval I fear because of the age difference, or if I’m ashamed of it. Of him.

That brings me up short and I stare at a picture on the wall opposite me while I try to figure it out. No, I don’t think it’s shame I’m feeling, and if it is, I can’t for the life of me think why. Shaking my head, I force myself to focus on work again until it’s time to close shop.