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 Post subject: Twilight: Teach Me What Love Is
PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2009 1:17 pm 
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Summary: When Edward suddenly finds himself as a single father will a change of scenery be the fresh start he needs? Will a new friend break all her rules and teach him what love is? Written for SSAA winner mcc101180. AU/AH/OOC. Rated Mature for language/lemons.


A/N: TMWLI belongs to and was born out of a prompt presented to me by mcc101180. She won a 2500+ word fic in the SSAA. Thanks, lady, for your generosity to the cause.

~oOo~


After pressing my lips to her warm forehead, I gave a good tickle to her ribs and said, "Let's go, Beautiful, time to get a move on!"

"Stop! I don't wanna get up."

"Come on, it's your first day. You don't want to be late."

"I don't wanna go."

"Sure you do. You already know your teacher and you have your friend Garrett to play with. How about I make your favorite pancakes with peanut butter while you hop in the shower? Sound good?"

With a heavy sigh, Carlie replied, "Alright, Dad, I'm going."

~oOo~


It had been six months since her mother left us and while I did my best to fill the roles of both mother and father, Carlie was growing dissatisfied with only me. The absence of a female influence in her life was proving to be a difficult transition for her.

Lauren had gotten pregnant during our senior year of high school. We were young and stupid and had far too much to drink at a New Year's Eve party. Although we'd consistently been careful over the course of our relationship, using protection that night was the furthest thing from our minds in the state we were in. Consequently, we later became the school's poster children for preventing teenage pregnancy.

My father always had high hopes for me to follow in his footsteps and attend a prestigious medical school. However, he and my mother backed my decision to take care of my responsibilities to Lauren and our child. Her parents were adamant that we get married, and I hesitantly agreed, thinking it was the right thing to do. We were married right after graduation and I went to work waiting tables, mowing lawns, cleaning toilets - anything I had to do to support my new bride and our impending arrival.

Luckily, I had just finished the probationary period at my steady restaurant job when Lauren went into labor prematurely. Carlie Sue was born three weeks earlier than planned and if I had dragged my feet, none of their medical costs would have been covered. I'd worked my ass off just to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table, huge medical bills would have sent us to the poor house.

Lauren had a rough pregnancy and had not worked through it, so we decided she would continue to stay home once Carlie arrived. We felt more comfortable knowing she'd be raised in a loving home and not by strangers.

Although I originally thought I loved Lauren, our marriage was more of a matter of convenience. We stayed together because of the baby, but were more like friends than lovers. I felt a huge sense of obligation to provide for my family and worked most nights and weekends at the restaurant while picking up odd jobs during the day. Lauren felt the stresses of motherhood and felt as though she was doing it all alone. I helped out when I could, but I had to keep busy to keep our heads above water.

Remembering how important that health insurance had been when Carlie was born, I became interested in the field as a potential career. I was able to get on with an insurance company that sponsored training. During the day I worked the phones doing quotes and taking payments while I attended classes at night; continuing to work at the restaurant on weekends when tips were the best anyway. I first got licensed in property and casualty, followed by life and health, but became more fascinated with the commercial side of things. I wanted to help people that were working hard to support their families, just as I was.

When Carlie was about four, I left the small company I worked for that specialized in personal insurance and moved on to a bigger one with a large commercial department. I was passionate about my work and I soon surpassed all of the top sales people. The nice thing was that I was able to finally cut back shifts at the restaurant, stop working all of the side jobs, and help Lauren more at home. Unfortunately, the more time we spent together, the more apparent it was that we had really grown apart... and the gap was only widening.

Lauren started showing some signs of depression after giving birth. I thought it would eventually go away, but it only got worse over time and I started to worry about her ability to care for Carlie properly. But when I encouraged her to get help for it, she got angry and withdrew from me even further. We ended up just going through the motions most evenings. Gradually she did less and less when I was home and I took on more and more. By the time she left, she was a glorified babysitter during the day and I was a full-time dad at night.

I woke on a Saturday morning back in February to a note on her pillow that read,

Edward, please understand that I can't do this anymore.
This was never the life I wanted, but I've got to find what is.
Don't bother looking for me as I'm trying to follow my heart.
I know that Carlie will be in good hands with you as her father.
Please tell her that I loved her, but I wasn't strong enough
to be what you or she deserved as a wife and a mother.
~ Lauren


I know I should have been sad, but I felt a sense of relief that Carlie and I were alone. Sure, I worried about whether Lauren would be okay on her own, but I didn't want to be the one holding her back. I didn't want Carlie feeling the tension of the situation, or to feel as though she was the cause of it. It would be tough to raise a girl as a single father, but I was determined to do whatever was necessary to make her happy.

Lauren filed for divorce almost immediately under the grounds of "Irretrievable Breakdown of the Marriage", it was as though she had her attorney draw up the paperwork before she even left. She surrendered all of her parental rights and I opted not to fight her for child support, which made things pretty cut and dry.

During the process my company offered me a position in the Southern California market. Rather than try to travel down there frequently and have my mom drive into Seattle to stay with Carlie, I chose to move us to Carlsbad which was about thirty miles North of San Diego. I would be able to make my own schedule and work from home for the most part, only going into the city every few weeks. The day the moving truck arrived, so did the final dissolution of my marriage to Lauren. I took it as a sign: out with old, in with the new. It was time for a fresh start for my girl and me.

~oOo~


I arranged to take two weeks off in order to make the trip south, get unpacked and settled, and still have some time to spend with Carlie before school started. The moving truck was to arrive Monday, so we made the drive in two days. We spent the bulk of the time in our new home unloading boxes, arranging furniture, organizing closets and cabinets; making for a very long week indeed. The little downtime we had was spent watching Carlie's movies or taking naps, which I happened to be very fond of.

By the time Sunday rolled around, we were both more than ready to get out a bit. We made our way to a nearby park to run off some steam. I chased Carlie through the jungle gym, down the slide and over the grass. When she opted to slow it down and swing I pushed her for a bit until she protested that she could handle it on her own. At that point, I sat on a nearby bench, watching my girl and enjoying the warm breeze.

While I diverted my attention to the paper I brought with me, my daughter seemed to have made a new friend. She was playing with a boy that appeared to be a year or so older than her. He seemed to be nice enough, so I didn't worry too much but kept my eye on them nonetheless. When we made our way to the car and I asked Carlie who the boy was, she said, "I dunno, I didn't ask."

The next morning we stopped into a surf shop on the Boulevard before heading to the park. Carlie wandered around while I inquired about a few things. In the middle of quizzing the guy that I seriously doubted could even stand on a board given his size and height, I heard a soft feminine voice say, "See ya, Em. We'll be back later."

"Cool. See ya, Li'l Man," he replied.

Recognizing both the woman and the boy, I asked while nodding toward the door, "Your wife?"

With a big howling chortle, he replied, "No way, dude, that's my sister. She's taking my kid to the park."

Ah, the park! I explained why they looked familiar; they must have been at the park the day before.

When we got to the park this time, Carlie took off at full speed, leaving me in the dust. She had spotted her new friend and I was yesterday's news. With a heavy sigh, I plopped myself on the bench and took to reading the paper while they played tag. I heard a voice behind me that I had heard not so long ago. "Is that your daughter?"

I turned to look over my shoulder and saw the woman from the surf shop. "Umm... yeah. That's Carlie."

"She's a cute kid. Garrett sure enjoys playing with her." She moved around the bench and sat beside me with her hand extended out to me. "Hey, I'm Bella."

Taking her tiny hand into mine, I responded, "Hi, I'm Edward. It's very nice to meet you."

She blushed and nodded her head before returning her gaze to the children. "So do you and your family live around here?"

"Yeah, just down street. We moved into town last week."

"Oh? Where are you from?"

"Seattle. I was promoted and a move made more sense for us. Do you live around here?"

"Yeah, not far. My brother owns a surf shop nearby and when I'm not working I bring his son to the park. Gives him a chance to get out and my brother appreciates me wearing Garrett out for him," she said with a little giggle. "Which reminds me, I'd better get him back because I need to get to work. It was nice meeting you, Edward."

The next day I stood pushing Carlie on the swings when Garrett came running toward us. He hopped into the swing next to us, hollering for Bella to push him, too. "Good morning, Edward. It's nice to see you again," she said with a bashful smile.

"You too. So tell me, Bella, what do you do? Do you work for your brother?"

"I help him at the shop sometimes, but he's usually got it well taken care of between himself; his wife, Rose; his business partner and best friend, Jasper; and Jasper's girlfriend, Alice. But, no, my real job is teaching. I teach third grade at Pacific Rim."

Carlie's ears perked up and she interjected, "I'm going into third grade!"

"You are?" Bella engaged inquisitively. "Wait a second. Are you Carlie Cullen?"

"Yep!"

I looked at Bella questioningly with a quirked brow. She smiled, looked back toward my daughter and said, "You're in my class! I was just decorating my classroom yesterday and putting name tags on the desks and I remember writing your name."

"You're Ms. Swan?" I asked. We had just received the letter in the mail last week with the supply list and it showed Carlie's teacher would be a Ms. Swan in room 32B. She wasn't at all what I had expected. I guess the "Ms." part threw me off and I anticipated some old widow, not an attractive, young woman in board shorts and flip flops.

"I am," she said proudly. We continued to chat about how great it was that Carlie would already know her on that scary first day and that, although he was in a different class, Garrett would also entering third grade at Pacific Rim.

We, again, sat on the bench when the kids took off chasing each other through the grass. "So, what do you do?" Bella asked, turning the spotlight onto me and away from her.

"I'm an insurance salesman." When Bella cringed, I added, "Yeah I know, we rank right up there with used car salesman and the tax man. But I love what I do and I feel like it has the potential to make a dramatic difference to some family at a very crucial time in their life."

"Wow, you sound very passionate about your work, Edward. What about your wife? What does she do?"

"Actually, she is no longer with us."

With a gasp Bella said, "Oh, I am so sorry. I had no idea you lost your wife."

"I didn't really lose her, she left us last Winter." I wasn't really sure why I felt the need to fill this virtual stranger in on all the gory details of my failed marriage, maybe it was because I felt so comfortable around her or maybe I thought if she knew, she could understand Carlie a little better. Whatever it was, I explained Lauren's disconnect from both Carlie and myself and how she eventually walked away, giving up everything.

We continued these unplanned playdates for the remainder of the week, learning small tidbits about each other and talking casually about politics and current events. She always brought Garrett by the park before going into her classroom to prepare for the new year and the new students that would be descending upon her, bright and early Monday morning.

~oOo~


Accompanying Carlie to her designated line at school, I realized I was the only man standing amongst a sea of women and children. I didn't feel embarrassment though, only a pang that my daughter did not have her mother here to join her on the first day of third grade. I waited proudly beside her with my hand resting on her shoulder. I knew she was nervous; I was too. Going back to school was always nerve-wracking, but being the new kid was exceptionally hard.

The double doors of the school opened as several people of different shapes, sizes, races and sex emerged. The last one through the doors was a breathtaking brunette that stood with her shoulders squared and a sense of pride about her. Her long legs were accentuated by a tight black pencil skirt and strappy heels, her pert breasts straining against the crisp, white cotton of her blouse. I gotta say, I was really looking forward to parent/teacher conferences. Talk about hot for teacher!

Bella carried herself to our line as she announced, "Good morning, everyone! I am Ms. Swan, your third grade teacher. Let's get this party started!"

I grinned seeing the professional teacher side meshed with the fun, outgoing personality that I'd enjoyed at the park.

Waving her hand excitedly, Carlie said, "Hi, Ms. Swan."

"Hello, Carlie."

Then we heard Garrett's boisterous voice bellowing, "Hi, Aunt B! Hi, Carlie!" from his own class line.

Carlie was excited about knowing someone, but was still terribly frightened for me to leave her. I gave my daughter a big hug and kiss before prying her arms from around my neck. She had already been in school when Lauren left and I'd never been able to be with her on the first day before. It was breaking my heart to see the fear in her eyes, but I knew I couldn't coddle her either. Although I had a busy day, I would make it a point to be there when school let out at two-thirty-four. Why do they do that shit? Why can't it just be a nice round number?

~oOo~


The first week was spent visiting our various accounts with the outgoing district representative that I was replacing. Eric Yorkie and his family were moving back to the East Coast and he was beside himself to be going home. We hit it off nicely; it was good to know that he would be staying with the company and I could call him anytime, should I have any questions.

Most of the appointments were quick standard schmoozing sessions. However, we also began scheduling the meetings for open enrollments which would take effect the first of November. These were the part of my job I enjoyed the most. I loved being able to meet the people we were insuring, the hardworking individuals that kept the heart of the company beating. I was passionate about the need for insurance - not just as a salesman, but as a family man that was grateful to have had it when it was desperately needed.

I was dragging a bit during the day and Eric jokingly asked if he was wearing me out. I explained that work was actually a welcome distraction as Carlie had been waking in the night. The mention of it brought my thoughts back to the night before. I awoke, once again, to the sound of Carlie crying and whimpering in her bed. I sat on the edge and cradled her in my arms while she sobbed. "I want to go home, Daddy."

"Carlie, I told you, this is our home now. We can't go back to our old house." I think that having moved her from the only home she had ever known caused her to regress some. She had been doing fairly well over the last month prior to moving.

"But I miss Mommy."

"I know you do. But Mommy had to leave and I don't think she'll be coming back, honey. I'm sorry. Even if we could go back to our old house, she wouldn't be there." I didn't want to instill false hope into her heart and have her anxiously awaiting a return that would never come. I hated being the evil bearer of bad news, but I didn't want to be the one that lied to her, that she looked at with disappointment later. If by some chance Lauren decided to be a mother to her again, then she could prove me wrong at that time. But for now, I would be honest with my daughter.

I felt like such a failure not being able to give Carlie what she desired, what she needed. "It's you and me, Beautiful. Forever and ever." The best I could do was assure her that I loved her and would never leave her and rock her little body until she cried herself to sleep again. This little girl held my heart in her hands and I would do anything on God's green earth to make her happy, but this was the one thing that was out of my grasp.

~oOo~


The following week, after the Labor Day holiday, I made an attempt at catching Bella. Tuesday afternoon I stood on the playground waiting for her to dismiss the children. Once the doors opened, hoards of kids ran like butterflies released from a cage; they flitted about, bobbing and weaving, looking for parents, playing, and sprinting for the jungle gym.

My eyes scoured the chaos looking for Carlie when I spotted her walking out hand in hand with Bella. I was mesmerized, absorbing the dynamic before me and found myself wishing that one day I'd find that person to fill Lauren's abandoned shoes. If nothing else, our innocent daughter deserved it more than anything.

"Oh, guess what, Ms. Swan?" Carlie asked, looking up at Bella with excitement as they reached me.

"What's that?"

"Friday is my birthday. I'm turning eight."

"Well, guess what, Carlie?"

"What?"

"Next Monday is my birthday. But I'm not going to tell you how old I'll be turning," she smiled and then looked up and winked at me.

"Really? That is so cool, we're like twins or something."

"Hey," I said apprehensively, "I'm not sure if you'd be interested or not, but I promised Carlie I'd take her to the San Diego Zoo this weekend for her birthday. We'd love for you and Garrett to join us, if you can."

"Really? It is my weekend with G and he does love the zoo. Are you sure we wouldn't be imposing?

"No way!" shouted Carlie.

I tipped my head with a small grin and Bella knew I meant it. "Okay, that sounds fantastic. Do you mind if we meet you at your place and we ride together?"

"Sounds perfect. Oh, and I was wondering if it would okay to bring cupcakes for the class on Friday for her birthday?"

"You must have read my mind, Edward. I was just about to suggest something to that effect. I'll make a point of carving out some celebration time in the afternoon."

~oOo~


When Bella pulled into the drive, I stared unapologetically out the window as her long legs unfolded from the vehicle. Her tiny toes were on display in flip-flops and her bare legs stretched up to an enticingly small pair of board shorts. The tank top she wore hugged the curves of her delicate feminine body. Her dark brown hair was tousled in waves around her shoulders and she pushed her sunglasses up onto her head as she looked up at the house.

Her nephew barreled out of the pickup and tore off up the steps before I could get downstairs to greet them. The doorbell rang several times and Carlie yelled, "Dad! They're here!"

"I saw them, Sunshine, go ahead and open the door."

As I ambled down the stairs, Carlie unlocked the door and pulled it open to two excited, smiling faces. "Hey, C, are you ready to go to the zoo?" Garrett was an exuberant one and quite a big boy for his age. He was tall and husky, making my girl seem petite in comparison. He had blond hair cut into a short flat top with ice blue eyes. He, too, sported flip-flops, longer board shorts and a Billabong t-shirt.

Carlie just smiled at him and nodded, then turned to me for approval. It was so good to see my girl smile and it had been a smile that actually reached her beautiful blue eyes. She squealed with excitement when she realized that Bella stood behind Garrett holding a large balloon bouquet that said "Happy Birthday" across them. "Are those for me? We have something for you, too, Ms. Swan!"

"You do? Awesome! Well, Happy Birthday, Sweets! I would have gotten you more, but it was all I could fit into the cab of my truck without driving us off of the road," she said tilting her head back toward the beater in the driveway.

"Thank you! Come on, I'll show you," she said, grabbing Bella's hand and dashing past Garrett. She still had not said anything to him, but he didn't seem the slightest bit derailed by it. He smiled up at me and then proceeded to follow the girls to the kitchen as I shut the door behind them all.

Carlie and I had worked our culinary magic the night before and baked Bella a cake for her upcoming birthday. We cut flowers from around the house and she bundled them with a pretty ribbon. We then propped the flowers in a pitcher of water beside the cake to keep them fresh. Bella gasped as she rounded the corner and saw what awaited her, glancing over her shoulder at me with a look of awe on her face. I simply smiled and said, "Happy Birthday."

"You guys, this is amazing! Thank you!"

"Happy Birthday, Ms. Swan. Thank you for my balloons!"

~oOo~


We had a terrific morning wandering around the San Diego Zoo and only stopped to have lunch and refuel. We dined on hot dogs and ice cream cones at The Cupboard before proceeding into the Children's Zoo. Although we had gotten an early start, it was nearly four o'clock before we began making our way back to the Volvo.

The kids drifted off to sleep quickly once in the car and the ride back to Carlsbad was quiet, giving us an opportunity to talk freely. "Please forgive me for seeming too bold, but I'm going to assume that since you're here with us today that you are not married or otherwise attached?" I asked, needing to clear that hurdle straight out of the shoots. I never bothered to ask at the park for fear of seeming like a perv.

With a light chuckle, Bella said, "Nope, I'm divorced and not seeing anyone at the moment."

"Hmmm...good to know," I said seductively.

"Yeah well, I also do not date the fathers of my students."

I sat with my chin in my lap for a good while before saying, "Are you serious?"

"Of course I am," she said with a shrug of her shoulders. "That would be so inappropriate and unethical."

"Oh right. So does that mean I should pull my daughter from your class?" I said, trying to sound as if I was kidding, but really I wasn't.

"No! Absolutely not!

"I know, I know... I'm just kidding. But I can't say I wouldn't mind dating you, Bella."

"Well, I guess you'll just have to settle for being friends. Sorry, Edward. You're just lucky we met and became friends prior to school starting or I certainly wouldn't be hanging out with you like this today."

"So I guess I've got that going for me. Friends it is then. I'll take what I can get and just maybe one day I'll be able to wear down your defenses," I said as I glanced mischievously at her.

"Not in the next nine months you won't," she deadpanned.

"You're a tough cookie, Ms. Swan. I do love a good challenge." She kept her eyes in her lap, but I could see the flush rise over her beautiful cheeks as a tiny smirk tugged at the corners of her succulent mouth. "Speaking of Ms., you mentioned that you're divorced as well. Is Swan your maiden name?"

"No, Swan was my married name. My maiden name is McCarty. I was just too lazy to change everything back after the divorce."

"What happened, if you don't mind me asking?"

"No, it's fine. Chuck and I were young and in love, but apparently we never discussed some pretty pertinent information prior to tying the knot."

"Pertinent information?"

"Yeah, you know, little details like the fact that I desperately wanted to have children and he was adamant about never becoming a father. I tried to live with and respect his decision for a long time, hoping that just maybe he'd change his mind one day. I think that's why I became a teacher, somehow I thought it would help quench my desire for kids, but it only made the ache stronger. Unfortunately, he never came around and I decided that was an experience I wasn't willing to give up."

"So you left him?" I said with maybe a touch too much accusation in my tone.

"I did. I came to the conclusion that having children was much too important to me and I wasn't going to be held back by some self-centered, domineering asshat," Bella defended with conviction. "I didn't see my decision as being selfish either as I wanted to bring a child into this world and lavish it with love." With a dry chuckle, she continued, "The crazy thing is, here I am nearly four years later, childless and alone and he's actually expecting a baby with his new wife, Tanya. Funny how life has a tendency to piss in your Cheerios just when you think you have it all figured out."

"Are you still in touch with him?"

"Nah, his dad, Charlie, is the Chief of Police in Temecula where we grew up. Every time I go home to visit my mom, I inevitably run into him and he's all too eager to fill me in on all the details of his son's happy life. I'm okay with it, though. I'm a strong woman and I'm all good with having a Dixie cup kid and raising it alone, if I have to. I have no doubt that I have enough love for two parents. Like you do with Carlie," she said, nodding to the back seat with a smile.

After a long silence, Bella asked, "Do you ever wish you'd had more children, Edward?"

"Yeah, I suppose so, if things had been different with Lauren. She never really seemed to enjoy being a mother and because we weren't really even in love, it wasn't much of a consideration."

"So you never loved her?"

"Well, you know, I thought I did. The way any seventeen year old kid does when he's grateful to the gods that he's getting lucky. It all seems like true love then, but no I'm not so sure I even know what that is... other than the undying love I've felt for my daughter since the second I laid eyes on her."

"I'm sure someone would be happy to show you what love is, Edward."

"Right," I said sarcastically, "unless you've decided to break your rules, I won't hold my breath on that one. Besides, I've got my little girl to worry about, I'm not sure that finding love is that important anymore. I just wish Lauren hadn't shut Carlie out completely, because I worry about her. A little girl needs a mother and I just don't seem to fit the bill very well."

"From what I can tell, you're doing a terrific job with her, Edward, and she loves you very much. It does break my heart, though, that Carlie's mom turned her back on her. How did you handle her leaving?"

"You know, I was okay with it, it really was for the best. I mean, it was inevitable and I'm pretty relieved that it happened sooner rather than later, actually."

~oOo~


Carlie persuaded them to stay for dinner and while potatoes baked in the oven, I grilled chicken on the deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and Bella made a salad as the kids played in Carlie's room. I felt a huge sense of peace for the first time in... I didn't know how long. Things had been strained for so long with Lauren that my heart and my mind were finally able to just relax and truly relish the moment.

After a pleasant dinner and huge slices of Bella's birthday cake for dessert, we all decided to walk along the beach and enjoy the sunset. Although I had lived near the beach in Washington, I had always hoped to move to a warmer climate and be able to truly enjoy all that it offered.

Bella and I walked side by side as the children chased each other toward the water until the cold surf lapped at their knees. They would then turn back and run up into the deep, soft sand, dodging the seaweed that drifted inland. Smiling at the laughter that emanated from my daughter's chest, I inquired more into Bella's life, "So, I'm assuming that because your brother owns a surf shop that you surf as well?"

"Oh, yeah, Em and I grew up surfing, it's a way of life for us. Do you?"

"I have a couple of times back in high school. I'm not so great but would love to get back into it. Carlie has even expressed an interest as well, which I'm pretty excited about. Her mother would have had a conniption fit, but I guess that's another bonus of being a single father," I smiled down into Bella's warm eyes. I noticed, for the first time in the setting sun, that they were a light green color rimmed in blue, reminiscent of the sea itself, dark around the edges, but holding such indescribable beauty within.

We watched the kids run, jump and roll in the sand. As the giggling and screaming filled our ears, she said, "I think having a physical outlet like surfing would help Carlie tremendously in dealing with her mother's absence. I usually help Em when he holds lessons for kids, so let me know if I can help with that."

I nodded and we walked in comfortable silence for quite some time as the sky faded to black, the kids playing around the base of the stairs in the porch light.

Bella insisted Carlie and I each keep a slice of cake and I covered the rest for her to take home along with the flowers we picked for her. Although, Carlie saw her everyday, I secretly hoped that by sending her home with the cake pan and pitcher, she'd make an effort to see me again. As Bella hugged Carlie and thanked her for the gifts, Garrett slapped me some skin. He was quite the character and I really liked this kid. Keeping his distance, Garrett stood by the door before saying goodbye to Carlie and wishing her a happy birthday. I chuckled at him and escorted Bella to the door as well, with the palm of my hand resting on the small of her back. I felt a tiny jolt of electricity at the contact, but brushed it off as nerves. As she crossed over the threshold I stood in the doorway thanking them for a terrific day. Bella turned to face me, shifted the cake pan under her arm and reached around my neck with her free hand. I bent to return the hug and she laid a soft kiss on my cheek near my ear. "Thank you, Edward," she whispered. That tiny jolt of electricity I felt before was suddenly a full-on power surge in my pants.

~oOo~


Carlie showered and readied for bed as I cleaned up the kitchen and did the dishes. Once she was bundled warmly in pajamas, I tucked her into bed and read her a story. After the day she had running and playing, it was no wonder she was asleep well before the final page.

I wandered through the house double checking all the locks on the doors and windows before getting a glass of water and heading upstairs myself. As I undressed, I turned the shower on full heat, feeling a layer of sweat, dirt and ocean spray covering my skin. Climbing into the steam, my breath caught and then I sighed loudly as the hot water ran over my head matting my wild hair down onto my face.

The stream trailed down my chest and back and ran teasingly over my cock. As I began thinking of Bella and the day we shared with the children, my dick grew hard once again. I hadn't felt this alive in so long, and the freedom that granted me, added to the euphoria raging between my legs. I soaped up my body as my mind wandered and evaluated the entire day, from the attraction I felt as she exited her truck in the morning to the subtle kiss and her hot breath in my ear as she whispered to me in goodbye.

My hand moved of its own volition down my stomach to my groin and grasped my shaft aggressively. I had done my fair share of masturbating over the last several years, but now I had a beautiful face to picture, a sultry voice to hum in my ears and an electric touch to ignite the desire within. As my hand slid along the length of my cock, I twisted it under the rim of my head with each tug. My other hand reached below to roll my balls as my stroking intensified.

I leaned against the cold tile of the shower and dropped my head back as flashes of Bella filled my head. It was like a rapid slideshow of her legs in the tight pencil skirt she wore on the first day of school, her legs stepping from her truck, her legs as she bent to pick up a seashell. As my grip grew tighter and the pace faster, I saw Bella's breasts pushed up and peeking out from behind her button up blouse, straining against the the sheer fabric of her tank top and felt them against my chest as she hugged me tonight.

I began pumping furiously as I tried desperately to keep my groaning to a quiet minimum. The last thing I needed was my daughter walking in on me while I beat off to visions of her school teacher. Yeah, somehow that just seems very wrong, you pervert!

My stroking was fast and firm as I sucked my lower lip into my mouth and bit down as a reminder to keep quiet. I gripped my balls as they tightened in my hand, anticipating the release working from within. My breathing was erratic and my eyes had long since rolled into the back of my head as I heard Bella's name spill from my lips. I took a sharp intake of breath feeling like some sort of sinner, but soon realized I liked the sound of it, enjoyed the way my lips formed around the word and could no longer hold back. I continued my manipulations as the visual inspiration known as my daughter's teacher flitted through my brain. I quietly grunted her name repeatedly as the intensity finally overtook me and I shot my load into the air and down the drain.

~oOo~


Just as I had hoped, Bella was "forced" to call me to coordinate the return of my dishes. She originally began with the premise that she'd bring them out to me when I picked up Carlie from school one day. However, it didn't take long for that to change into a get-together one evening instead. I was willing to entertain any rendezvous that suited her, be it casual on the playground or hot and heavy in my bed. Of course, the latter was out of the question given our situation, but a man could dream.

When she inquired if Wednesday was good me, I replied, "Actually, I've got meetings that day up in Orange County and will have to put Carlie in Kid's Care after school. I won't make it back until around five-thirty."

"Oh no, let me keep her for you. It'll save you money and I'm not sure she'd enjoy being with those children anyway. Some of them are pretty wild."

"If you're sure you don't mind? She has a key hidden in her backpack if you just want to come back to my place and hang out here until I get home."

"Yeah, that sounds great. I'd love that and that will give us some alone time to just have girl talk. Maybe she'll even open up a bit."

"You're an angel, Bella. Thank you."

"My pleasure, Edward. See you Wednesday."

~oOo~


Wednesday was a long day as I made the sixty mile trek up North to meet with several of our larger clients, including lunch with the owner of a huge automotive group out of Newport Beach, and then anxiously fought afternoon traffic to get home. I walked in just before six o'clock to see two of the prettiest girls playing a heated game of Jenga on the coffee table.

"Hello, ladies," I said kicking off my dress shoes and laying my suit jacket over the back of the couch. "Who's winning?"

"I am!" Carlie shouted, jumping up with her hands in the air.

Bella just turned her head and looked up at me with a smile and a wink.

"I picked up a pizza on the way home. Bella, will you join us for dinner?"

"Hmmm...that depends. Where's it from?"

"Pizza Port?" I replied, more as a question than a statement. I sure hoped I had made the right decision in picking that place. It was always busy so I took that as a good sign.

"Excellent! I'll definitely stay for Pizza Port," she giggled.

"Okay, I'm so glad my choice in eateries was the one thing that could get you to stay," I added jokingly.

"True. At least you've got that going for you," she tossed right back. This one was a pistol and I liked that about her. "Pizza Port really is terrific though, we should go there sometime when I have Garrett. They have lots of fun games for the kids and a great brewery."

I loosened my tie, undid the top few buttons on my shirt and rolled up my sleeves. The girls quickly finished their game as I dished everyone some pie. We all sat on the couch and talked while we ate. Carlie sat between us and excitedly told me all about her day. She thought it was so great that she got to ride home with Bella in her old, beat up truck "in the front seat even" which was a first for her. They worked together on her homework and then went down to the beach to build a sandcastle before returning for their cut-throat game of Jenga.

After dinner, Carlie got all ready for bed and then came downstairs to ask if Bella would read her a bedtime story. When she gladly accepted, Carlie tore back up the stairs like a flash to pick out the perfect book.

I led Bella upstairs to Carlie's room. My longer legs carried me a bit faster than hers and as I turned in front of Carlie's door, I noticed Bella staring into my bedroom intently as she passed. Her jaw was open and her eyes were scanning the space with a rapid movement as though she were trying to memorize everything about it quickly. She slowly turned her head forward again and saw me watching her with a smirk on my face. She dropped her head as a rose blush covered her neck, ears and face. Glancing back up at me through her lashes, she murmured, "Sorry."

"It's quite alright, I could give you a tour if you like," I said, only half kidding. Bella just smiled and said nothing. Quirking a brow at her I motioned with a sweep of my hand for her to enter the room. She climbed onto Carlie's bed and began reading the chosen book with great animation. I stood with my arms crossed over my chest, one foot over the other and my shoulder and head leaning against the door frame as I watched Bella bring the characters to life and Carlie absorb every detail until she fell fast asleep.

~oOo~


Bella backed me up assertively, her hands making quick work of my belt and trousers, until the back of my legs hit the foot of the bed. She gave a firm push to my upper chest, forcing me to fall backward. She pulled my pants all the way off before doing the same with my boxer briefs.

My dick stood at full attention and jerked as she licked her lips. Without a word, she knelt between my legs and lowered her lips to my shaft. She wasted no time with teasing me, she simply swallowed my dick whole with her first attempt. She opened her throat to allow for my considerable length and then swallowed, the muscles of her throat massaging me and causing a groan to escape my chest. She hummed in return, intensifying my pleasure with the reverberation that coursed through my cock.

When I went to thread my fingers into her hair, Bella, grabbed both of my hands and pinned them to my sides as she masterfully sucked my dick. She teased me with timing and movement. Her motions were fast and furious until my moans were choppy and my breath labored. Then she would slow the process down and concentrate more on the actual suction, adding the tantalizing licking and swirling of her tongue.

Bella stood abruptly and pulled her skirt up until it rested on her hips. A tiny scrap of lace hardly concealed the sweet flesh between her legs. Reaching up and grabbing the elastic, she slid them down her shapely legs revealing her bare pussy. She then climbed back onto the bed to straddle my lap.

Bending over she gave me an aggressive kiss, forcing her tongue into my mouth to tangle with my own. Moving her lips to my ear, she growled, "I need something, Edward, and you're gonna give it to me," before clamping down tightly on my lobe with her teeth. She rose, lifted her hips and impaled herself on my rigid cock. Her pussy was so wet, she sunk with relative ease around the broad mass of my shaft.

As her hips rose and lowered onto my lap and the muscles in her legs flexed, she began raking her nails down my chest. She had her head thrown back and her long hair brushed teasingly across my thighs.

Her voluptuous breasts were straining against her blouse and she reached up, grabbed a handful of fabric in each hand and ripped it open. I knew I'd be finding buttons for days. She yanked the blouse back over her shoulders and threw it across the room. Reaching behind, she unclasped her bra and released her beautiful tits from their confines. My hands moved instinctually to hold the full weight of them and discovered her nipples were firm, erect and very sensitive to the touch. It didn't take much more than rolling them between my thumb and forefingers lightly to really get her going.

Bella writhed above me, her rhythm growing frenzied as her tits jiggled and bounced with the movements. She started moaning and spewing profanities as she grew close to orgasm, before provoking me to reach my own as well. "I know you fucking wanted this as much as me, Edward," she said in a commanding voice. I couldn't look away from her, and her look of determination and her dominance over me was so fucking sexy.

But as my hands slid over her ribs and down onto the ever-growing swell of her belly, the wild storm began to calm. Bella's motions slowed and her touch became tender. She laid her body down onto mine, kissed my lips passionately and wove her hands into my hair; the pads of her fingers rubbing soothing circles into my scalp. Bella started moaning my name over and over, causing my heart to clench as the burning ache of the coil in the pit of my stomach snapped. I held Bella still and thrust my hips up to meet hers and as my climax gripped me, I whispered against the flesh of her soft lips, "I love you, Isabella!"

My alarm sounded and I found myself short of breath and covered in a cold sweat. Holding my rock hard dick in my hand, I looked around the room for her. It was painfully obviously that I'd only been dreaming of Bella, but could it be a dream come true?

Can I persuade the teacher to teach me what love is?

~oOo~


A/N: So, I'd love to hear what you thought. Is this something you'd like to see more of? Is it better left as a one-shot?

Once Handcuffs & Heartstrings has completed the voting stage of Ninapolitan's DILF Contest, I'll be able to add a little bonus that is part of mcc101180's winnings, as well.

I want to thank my wifey, Nostalgicmiss for the fun banner she created for this and you can see links to it and the Polyvore outfits on my FFn profile. Thanks for reading.

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