A/N: A huge thank you to Midnight Cougar for all of her suggestions and tweaks. xx
Song inspiration for this chapter: “All I Wanna Do,” Sheryl Crow
(Playlist for this story can be found on my YouTube channel, if you search for “ghostreader24”)
Disclaimer: Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond own the adorable little mouse whose needs inspired this very adult version of their story. Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m here having fun.
Almost two weeks later, Bella and I finally have plans for a date. I’ve had a series of busy overnight shifts recently, which have made coordinating our schedules and planning something challenging. I suggested a variety of activities during my downtime at the station via text yesterday, but she left it up to me what we would do this evening with her last words being “surprise me.”
When I arrive at her home, I don’t miss her father’s police cruiser sitting in the driveway, and take a few minutes to settle my nerves at seeing him as Bella’s boyfriend and not just a firefighter from the station next door. Running a hand through my hair nervously, I check the rearview mirror, hoping I look okay, and release a couple of deep breaths.
It’s been difficult curbing our attraction to one another at work since our day after Christmas sleepover. It feels like we’ve opened the floodgates on our physical relationship. The Chief caught us in the break room at the Police Station the other day when I had Bella wrapped around me and pinned against the refrigerator while kissing her senseless.
In our defense, she was on break, and the station was empty when we entered the room, making sure the door was closed… until he opened it moments later looking for her. At least it seemed like moments. It could have been longer. I’m not positive how much he saw exactly, but my hand may have been under her blouse and her skirt may have been riding up somewhere around her hips as I rubbed against her. Technically, we were both fully clothed, but I doubt that helped our case from her father’s perspective.
Bella laughed it off while righting her clothes and expressing her disappointment at being interrupted, because according to her, it was her best break yet. I’m inclined to agree and can’t wait to be alone with her again. If the Chief is still home by the end of our evening, maybe we should plan to finish the evening at my apartment instead.
I know I need to stop stalling, but his presence, while unexpected, has me hoping things won’t be awkward between us. Finally, I gather my courage, leave the comfort of my car, and walk toward the front door.
At my knock, there’s only a brief wait until the door swings open revealing the Chief and his narrowing gaze when he sees it’s me.
I give him a hopeful smile, but the look on his face says he knows exactly what I’ve been doing with his daughter and intend to repeat… soon.
“I’m here to pick up Bella. Is she ready?” I ask.
“She should be down soon.” He nods toward the room behind him. “Come on inside.”
“I’ll be right there!” I hear her shout from upstairs once I pass through the entryway.
“Do you want something to drink?” The Chief offers, waving toward the doorway leading to the kitchen, and I spy the table where my mind recalls enjoying Bella there for—
“No, but thanks.” I mumble my reply, but it does little to shake the images of her spread out naked before me—on their kitchen table.
He shrugs and points toward the couch. “Suit yourself. Have a seat.”
The Chief settles into the recliner while I take a spot in the middle of the couch. I look toward the stairs and check my watch, hoping Bella won’t be much longer. He surprises me when he expands on our stilted small talk.
“Where are you two headed tonight?”
“Uh… Brady’s out past Thriftway.”
His eyebrows shoot up and he pauses his beer in mid-air. “Oh?”
“I’ve been there with the guys a few times. We had fun, and I thought Bella might like it. Do you know it?”
His head bobs and mustache twitches at my words. “A buddy of mine, Waylon, bartends there. Billy and I grab breakfast sometimes, since it opens early, before the fish are biting. Have… have you met Brady?”
“No. It was busy when we were there, but we mostly kept to the billiards tables.”
“I’m okay, but Garrett’s a bit of a shark.”
Chief Swan chuckles as if he’s privy to some inside joke when Bella bounces down the steps, grinning from ear-to-ear and interrupting our conversation.
“Speak of the devil,” he mutters.
I stand, moving around the coffee table, thrilled at her arrival.
“Hello, handsome.” Bella grins, making a beeline for me, and excitedly jumps into my waiting open arms, surprising me with a kiss directly on the lips.
At the clearing of the Chief’s throat, I pull away, unwrapping my arms from around her body and setting her back on the floor. I hold onto her hands, trying to keep some sort of respectable distance between us.
Her smile falls slightly as her eyes search mine. “What is it? Something wrong?”
“No. No. Not at all. Hey.” I grin and reassure, squeezing her hands, but trying to play it cool in front of her father. “You look…”
My eyes linger over the long bouncy waves of her dark brown hair and past her beautiful face. Her soft-looking, gold-colored sweater looks to be barely hanging onto her shoulders and my curiosity at seeing no bra straps has me wondering if she’s not wearing one. At that thought, I swallow around the lump expanding rapidly in my throat as my mouth goes dry looking over her comfy blue jeans, which are worn in all the right places. There are a few small openings along the legs that my fingers wouldn’t mind exploring. After a quick glance at her boots, my eyes return to her face.
“…more beautiful than the last time I saw you.”
Because she is.
I hear her dad huff from beside us, but after my words, her smile is firmly back in place.
“Thanks. You look great—like always.”
I’m dressed similarly to her in a casual, long-sleeved shirt and jeans. I tried to make an effort and look nicer than how she normally sees me, in my work T-shirts and pants.
“Are you ready to go?” she asks.
“Absolutely.” I can’t wait to get outside and greet her properly.
“Okay. I only need to grab my purse and jacket from the hook on our way out.”
I nod, following as she leads us toward the front door. “Have a good evening, Chief.”
Bella finishes slipping on her brown leather jacket and zipping the front, then wraps a scarf around her neck. She slides her hand back into mine. “Night, Dad.”
“Night, Bella,” he calls after us.
Once we’re out the door and off the porch, I can’t get Bella to my car quick enough, taking the lead. I open the passenger door, and she pauses before sliding into the seat.
“I’d ask where’s the fire?” She wiggles her eyebrows suggestively. “But I think I know.”
My grin widens, and I lean down, pecking her lips with a promise once she’s seated. “I’ll show you the fire—just not in front of your father. I don’t think he’s forgiven me for the other day.”
Her laugh is instantaneous.
I close her door and hurry to the driver’s side, taking my seat and starting the engine.
Bella leans against the console between us. “I think I need a better happy-to-see-me—”
I cut off her request by kissing her hard, pouring every bit of heat and fire I’ve been suppressing since my lips last touched hers too many hours ago. I cradle the back of her head gently, my kisses rough and demanding until it isn’t enough and I push my tongue past her lips.
The hum of the engine and the creak of my leather seats from our movements are drowned out by the increasing tempo of our soft moans. Our mouths reconnect over and over in a frenzy of need until Bella pulls away and the sound of her ragged breathing fills the space.
“Damn.” She pants, touching her lips lightly while smiling at me. “Okay, that’s…”
“Better?” I grin as my eyes shift between her eyes and properly kissed lips.
“Yes. Much.” She leans back, settling into her seat with a dreamy expression on her face.
“Good, but we both know I can’t kiss you like that in front of your dad.” I reach for her hand, lacing our fingers together and pressing my lips against the back of hers.
She releases a contented sigh and squeezes my hand. “He needs to get used to it.”
“I think that’s easier said than done. Are you ready to get going?”
I look back toward her home and jerk my chin in that direction. “It’s a little unusual for him to be here tonight. Don’t you think? He isn’t normally home when I’m here.”
I shift the car into gear and pull out onto the road, driving one-handed while my other is linked with Bella’s and resting on her thigh.
“Dad got back from Sue’s not long ago.” She shrugs. “I think he’s planning to propose or something. I suspect he wanted to talk with me about it, but he never brought it up. Either way, he doesn’t go into work until early in the morning, and there’s some game he’s interested in watching—football or hockey. I don’t know.”
I nod, but suspect his being there isn’t a coincidence to my arrival, and he’s playing his intimidating dad card. But I suppose it is possible his intention was to hang out with Bella before our date. Maybe he’s feeling guilty for not spending much time with her lately.
“Where are we going tonight?” Bella asks, pulling me from my thoughts.
“I was thinking about that place out past Thriftway—Brady’s. Do you know it?”
“Yeah.” Her head bobs in agreement. “Sounds great.”
“If you have some other place in mind…”
“No. Brady’s will be fun,” she reassures.
“I’ve been there a few times with the guys. The food is good too.”
It’s a quick drive from Bella’s to our venue for the evening. This time of night, most of the people, like us, are ready to relax and unwind after work with dinner and a drink while shooting pool or throwing darts.
After finding a parking spot, we walk arm in arm toward the door, trading kisses along the way. I hold it open for her and she tilts her head, puckering her lips for another kiss that I gladly give before walking inside. The door is barely closing behind us when a woman at the hostess stand lets out a squeal.
“Bella!” She opens her arms wide for a hug.
“Hey, Gee.” Bella hugs her tightly then turns toward me, sliding her hand into mine and returning to her place at my side.
“Who is this?” the woman asks, looking me over appreciatively from head to toe.
“Gianna, this is my boyfriend, Edward Cullen,” Bella tells her proudly, gazing up at me. “Edward, this is my friend Gianna.”
Gianna’s smile widens, but I’m sure mine is nearly blinding at hearing Bella introduce me as her boyfriend. I had no idea this would be a bonus of our date, but it’s music to my ears.
“Hello, handsome. Where has Bee been hiding you? Away from me, apparently,” Gianna teases and winks.
I nod, unsure how to respond to her comment. “Nice to meet you.”
“Wow, Bee. We need to catch up—soon. You’ve been holding out on me.”
Bella smiles. “Hardly. I’ve been busy lately.”
“I can see why. Okay, well, let’s look at what we have available.” She taps on a computer screen, looking over the table map of the room. “Do you two want to sit at the bar or would you prefer a table?”
“A high-top would be great,” Bella suggests.
“Rachel is working tonight too. Do you want to sit in her section or mine?”
Gianna pauses, double-checking the tables in the room versus the computer screen. “Well, there’s an open spot that’s close to the billiards tables in her section with a view of the stage. I’ll sit you there.”
“Right this way.”
We’re following Gianna and walking in the direction of the bar when an older man notices our approach.
“Bellsy!” he shouts.
“Hey, Waylon.” Bella pauses, calling after Gianna. “Gee, wait a minute.”
“Bee, you’re going to be right over here.” Gianna points at a table not too far away. “I’ll drop off a menu. Rachel will be with you shortly and I’ll let Brady know you’re here.”
“Sure thing, Bee.”
Waylon’s voice draws Bella’s attention. “How’s big city living, sweetheart?”
“It’s good, but I’m back for a while.”
Hopefully, it’s a long while. Maybe even permanent if I have anything to say about it.
“Waylon, this is my boyfriend, Edward Cullen.”
She did it again and I don’t think I’m going to tire of hearing her say it all night.
Bella turns to me to explain. “Waylon and my father go way back. They’ve been friends forever.”
“Hey, Edward.” I shake his offered hand. “I’ve seen you in here a few times. It’s good to put a name with a face. Firefighter, right?”
“That’s right,” I confirm, shocked he remembers me.
“Well, I’ve known Bella from when she was little visiting Charlie during the summers, and those high school years when she moved here that were tough on her dad.” He grins. “So, if you want the good stories, come back without her and take a seat at the bar. I’ll keep you entertained all night.”
My grin widens at the possibility. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
“All right, enough conspiring you two,” she warns playfully, wrapping her arm around my waist, and I ease my hand into her back pocket.
“I hear you’re working with your dad at the station.”
“I am,” Bella says.
“I bet he’s enjoying your being at home.”
I don’t know about the Chief, but I couldn’t be happier.
“I would need to ask Sue. He’s been with her most of the time.”
Waylon laughs. “Hear any wedding bells yet?”
“Not yet, but my gut says something is brewing with him.”
“With Christmas and the New Year past, Billy thinks he’ll pop the question on Valentine’s Day, but I say maybe spring.” He shrugs. “We’ll see, I suppose.”
“It’s good seeing you again, Waylon. We’re going to grab our table.”
“All right, Bellsy. Let me know if you need anything.”
“Nice to meet you, Edward. Don’t be a stranger.”
We weave our way through the tables, and Bella unwraps her scarf then shrugs off her jacket, hanging it on a nearby hook. I remove mine and place it over hers, sharing the hook.
“Look at that. You’re on top of me again,” she teases and winks.
“Every chance I get.” I kiss her lips.
Bella scoots her stool closer to mine, and we settle into our spots with our legs touching. We would probably draw too much attention if she sat on my lap, but I can’t resist touching her any chance I get as I rest my hand on her thigh.
“What’s with the stage?” I ask. “I guess I didn’t notice it when I was here previously.”
“Karaoke. Have you ever tried it?”
Her eyes light with excitement. “Holy smokes, we’re going to need shots and I’ll have you up there before the end of the night. Promise. Karaoke is fun, but drunk karaoke is the best.”
“Gee said you were here.”
“Yes, I’m here with my boyfriend, Edward Cullen.”
Fuck that feels good even after her saying it for a third time.
“Rachel is Jacob’s sister,” Bella explains.
“Oh, nice to meet you.”
“Edward is a firefighter at the station here in town.”
Rachel nods. “You may know my boyfriend, Paul Lahote. He’s a paramedic.”
“From La Push?”
“Sure, I know him. He and Quil Ateara have helped us out on numerous calls.”
“Small town life. Everyone knows everyone around here. Well, what can I get you this evening?”
“Give us a couple of shots of courage and I’ll take an American Blonde.”
Rachel grins at her order. “Are you two singing later?”
At the same time Bella says, “Absolutely,” I reply with, “Doubtful.”
We’re all laughing, but I have a suspicion embarrassing myself later seems to be part of Bella’s agenda.
“Well, karaoke starts at nine and you can select something from the catalog. I’ll grab one for you. What can I get you, Edward?”
“I’ll have a Sky Hag.”
“You got it. I’ll be back with your drinks unless you want to put in an order for food? The specials tonight are the elk sliders, a ghost pepper burger with fries or onion rings, and you can’t go wrong with the brisket nachos. They’re always a winner.”
“Mmmm…” Bella looks at me. “Are you hungry?”
“Always.” I chuckle.
“Any preference?” she asks, flipping over the menu.
“Let’s share something,” I suggest.
“All right, we’ll order the brisket nachos,” Bella decides.
“I’ll put that in and be back with your beers and shots.” Rachel winks.
I squeeze Bella’s leg. “I thought you didn’t like beer.”
“I can’t drink Dad’s Rainier beer unless I’m desperate, but some of the craft beers on tap are okay.” She waves toward the bar. “I’ve tried everything here, but I prefer the lighter ones like the one I ordered. Wine is my go to, but sometimes you can’t beat beer and a burger or in our case nachos.”
“So, you’re a regular here?” I wonder.
“I don’t know about being a regular, but Angela loves karaoke and sometimes she needs to let off some steam. She’s a far better singer than I am, but we go out and have a good time, since this is one of the few places in Forks that closes late. During high school, we always ended up in Brady’s basement hanging out and belting out the hits. Years later, he bought this place and has managed some fantastic upgrades—karaoke included. It’s great to see it busy on a weeknight, but I’m sure the holidays were great for business too.”
“Here we go.” Rachel returns with our beers, setting them on napkins in front of us followed by two flaming shots.
“Bella… what have you done?” I laugh uncomfortably, already shaking my head.
I’m not one to do shots, let alone flaming ones.
“Awww, come on, Edward. Where’s your sense of adventure?”
I recognize instantly the twinkle in her eyes when she’s up to no good.
Rachel giggles as she departs.
Her hand finds my thigh, rubbing it lovingly while she explains. “This is the first one, and it’s easy. It’s a Flaming Hot Apple Pie shot with layers of Irish cream then Goldschläger and a little rum on top, which is what’s burning. The burning intensifies and deepens the flavor. These types of shots are always delicious.”
“I’m sure it is, but I’m hung up on the part where you said the first one?”
Her grin widens. “When you order a shot of courage, it’s actually kind of a progression of shots. Rachel will bring us the next one whenever we’re ready.”
“The fact that you know this concerns me.” I chuckle nervously, but know when I’m around Bella, she’s always pushing me outside of my comfort zone, which I probably need. It looks like shots and karaoke are included on that list tonight. “How many shots?”
“Whatever it takes to get you up on stage.”
I hesitate, staring at the pair of shots. I’m not a big drinker, but I have a suspicion I won’t be driving home. “Remind me to text Emmett for a ride later.”
She nudges my elbow. “Give it a try. I thought you’d like it since they’re all flaming shots—your specialty.” Bella nods toward the shot closest to me. “Blow it out and let’s shoot them back together.”
“You know you’re always in good hands with me.” She wiggles her eyebrows. “This one will ease you into the next ones and take the edge off. Trust me.”
“Okay.” I blow out the flame and tap my glass against hers. “To courage.”
“Courage.” She smiles.
After I tilt back the shot glass and swallow the contents in one gulp, I feel the burn immediately. “Damn.” I cough.
“Mmmm, good, right?”
“Spicy cinnamon.” I pat my chest. “Like that candy, Red Hots.”
“Would a kiss help?”
“It wouldn’t hurt.”
Bella presses a kiss to my lips and her hand curls around the inside of my thigh, but we’re interrupted before I can steal another.
She looks behind her to see a man approaching our table. “Hey, Brady.”
“Gee said you were here. How’s my girl tonight?” He tugs Bella from her seat, wraps his arms around her, and moves to kiss her lips, but she turns her head so he misses, kissing her cheek instead.
It’s subtle, but Bella seems surprised and uncomfortable with his greeting. While her smile is polite and I know her to be friendly with everyone, something is off here and warning bells are ringing in my head.
I don’t know Brady, but my first impression, based on her reaction, is that he needs to get his hands off my girl and keep his lips to himself.
If you give a postal worker a love note, she’ll wonder about the identity of the author when it’s delivered by an unintended mail carrier.
After a visit from a sexy firefighter, the mystery surrounding the note will add to her curiosity, but it won’t be solved any time soon, when she has no choice and accepts another job far from home.
Her secret admirer will hold on to hope for their paths to cross again, and when they do, he will find that being near her again is better than he ever anticipated.
Visiting her during his breaks and getting to know each other will be the best parts of their days, until one day she unknowingly makes his favorite childhood cookies, giving him the sign he needs to move forward.
She’ll hold back nothing as she tempts and teases him when they’re alone, testing his resolve, until a few adorable photos of him with a friend’s new baby causes an unexpected shift in her world.
As they grow closer, they’ll understand that the intimacy between lovers isn’t only about a physical connection, but the everyday interactions through the simplest moments and sharing of new experiences.