I knock on the dressing room door.
There’s no response. When I turn the handle and enter, Cullen mutters, “I didn’t say ‘come in’.”
“Yeah, well, you didn’t say ‘fuck off’ either, so I figured I’d take a chance.”
I close the door and lean against it. He’s sitting on the couch opposite the mirrors, head back, arm thrown over his eyes. He’s changed out of his costume pants into his jeans.
Understandable considering what just happened. Pretty sure he’ll be dry-cleaning them himself instead of letting the costume supervisor do it.
“What do you want, Bella?”
“No, I mean, what do you want from me? To help you to —… I don’t know … undo the damage I’ve done. Tell me what I’m doing wrong. Please. Because I’m really trying here and it feels like all I’m doing is finding new ways to lose you.”
He doesn’t move. Doesn’t look at me. I press back into the door. Ask it for strength. It presses into my spine. Reminds me a backbone’s there for a reason, not just to hang bones on.
“I’m sorry.” I whisper it. Ashamed. Afraid that after all this time, and all the damage he caused, I’m not good enough for him. That he’s now a better person than I ever was.
“You don’t need to apologize,” he says, rubbing his eyes. “I’m sorry I snapped at you. I just— … I kind of had a grand romantic fantasy of how things would be when we got intimate again. Strangely enough, blowing my load fully clothed during a tech run wasn’t part of the plan.”
He still doesn’t move. I go to him. Sit next to him and pull his arm away from his face. He’s flushed, and I don’t know if it’s embarrassment or anger. Maybe both.
“Yeah, I kind of missed that memo. Sorry for orgasming you against your will.”
He laughs. “It’s ironic considering the amount of times I’ve practically begged you to touch me like that. I’d almost forgotten how quickly you can make me come when you put your mind to it. It’s actually kind of horrifying.”
He’s still not looking at me. In a way, I’m grateful. When he looks at me these days, he gives me all of himself, and right now, that’s a whole lot of too-much-for-me-to-handle. Instead he looks at his hands as they fiddle with the hem of my skirt. Every now and then he brushes my thigh. Yet again, he’s torturing me without even realizing it.
“I didn’t know if I still affected you like that. I thought … maybe … you’d outgrown it. Me.”
Now he looks at me. Incredulous. Looking for words. He looks at the floor, the wall, the mirrors, makes a disbelieving noise and then looks back at me, frowning and open-mouthed. When he finally speaks, he’s so exasperated, he sounds angry.
“In what universe have I ever given you reason to believe that my attraction to you is anything short of debilitating? You’ve met me, right? I’m Edward. Late-night drunk dialer. Compulsive ass-groper. Shameless boob-ogler. Forever-erect-in-your-presence serial masturbator. How the hell could I possibly outgrow that? If anything, it’s gotten worse over the years. Did you not just witness me coming violently from you fondling my cock for less than two minutes? What the fuck, Bella?”
His complete bewilderment makes me laugh.
He just shakes his head. “Crazy fucking statement. Not affected by you. Jesus.”
Should be up in a few days.