|While You Were Gone
Author: LauraACullen PM
What if the wolves didn't get to Bella before Laurent bit her? This is the story of Bella being changed despite Edward leaving to prevent it. How will her change impact their chance for a future together? Rated M; not for younger readers.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Angst - Bella & Edward - Chapters: 17 - Words: 74,297 - Reviews: 726 - Favs: 1,166 - Follows: 457 - Updated: 11-27-09 - Published: 05-14-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5061041
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Well, folks, it's not October, but it at least we're talking about an update in a matter of weeks rather than months.
And so, I bring you, without further ado, the conclusion of this New Moon Saga. I hope you enjoy. And I'll see you down below.
SM owns, of course.
One Month Later
The sun rose at the beginning of a cool Alaskan summer day as I snuggled into Edward's panting chest in our room.
"Good morning, love," he chuckled as he kissed the top of my head.
"Yes, yes it is," I replied as I pressed a prolonged kiss against his bare chest. "We should start every day like this," I mused, still reveling in our post-coital glow.
Edward laughed – a sound I was hearing more and more these days – and agreed. "Your wish, Bella, my command."
I pushed up into a sitting position and stretched my arms above my head.
Edward groaned behind me. "We're not going to get out of this bed if you keep doing that."
"Promises, promises." I turned and started to crawl back up his body when a knock rapped against our door.
"Go away, Alice," Edward and I said in unison as we kept our eyes on each other.
"Make yourselves decent," she hollered as she pushed through anyway.
"For God's sake, Alice," Edward grumbled as he pulled the sheet up over my body on top of him. Alice plopped herself on the edge of our bed and pulled a leg up underneath her. Edward rolled his eyes. "Well?" he finally said when she didn't immediately make known the reason for her intrusion.
"It's been a month," she said.
I immediately knew what she was talking about. Today was a month since the fight against Victoria's newborns. A month since Irina's death.
I nodded as I slid off Edward and into a sitting position. Alice handed me a t-shirt off the floor and turned her head away while I pulled it on.
"I'm still worried it's too soon," I murmured. Edward's hand stroked soothingly along my spine. "What do you think?" I asked him.
Given how the battle had united our two covens, I was hesitant to do anything to damage the relationship. And I feared that having a wedding so soon after Irina's death and memorial would be insensitive to the Denalis' grieving. It wasn't like time was an issue for us anyway.
Edward sat up next to me and pushed my hair back over my shoulder. I heard and smiled at his kneejerk reaction: I can't marry you soon enough. But I appreciated the more thoughtful response he voiced: "You know, Bella, that I am willing to wait until you are comfortable doing this. But, honestly, not only do I think the Denalis would be fine with our marrying now, but I think it could possibly offer them a pleasant distraction from their grief for a few hours."
Edward was probably right. Indeed, I knew from the time we'd spent with Eleazar and Carmen that they felt a certain affection for me. Though they lost a 'daughter' in the fight, my talents – I begrudgingly acknowledged – played a large role in ensuring the rest of us emerged from the conflict largely unharmed. And they'd seen how I'd saved Kate and Tanya when the firestarter attacked.
I sucked in a breath to say "okay" when Alice squealed and jumped off the bed and started clapping.
I sighed in defeat, but grinned too, especially once I saw the gorgeous smile on Edward's face.
In a flash she settled back on the bed, serious and focused. It made me giggle.
"Oh, it's going to be beautiful," she gasped, her eyes glazing as an image of the day flashed through her mind. "Please let me help."
"Of course I'll let you help, Alice. Actually, I was hoping you'd be my—"
She tackled me to the bed before I'd even finished. "Yes! I'd love to be your matron of honor!" Finally she sat up off of me and grabbed my hands to pull me back up.
Edward reached for and took my hand in his. I met his eyes and pulled his hand to my lips. He looked positively joyous. It affirmed my decision – it was time. Time for me to honor the commitment I'd made when he'd asked me to marry him. Time for us to be together in every way there was to be together.
"Oh my," Alice murmured, deep in thought. "A month, eh? That's pushing it, Bella. But…okay. I can make it work."
Edward chuckled as his sister continued to think out loud.
From that moment on, the entire family was caught up in wedding planning, despite the fact that there really wasn't that much to plan. At least, I didn't think so. I mean, after all, it was only our family, the Denalis, and the wolves.
Although there were a few more Quileutes here now that Jake had called home to tell them he'd met someone. In the month since the battle, he and the other wolves had been able to relax and sightsee some since they were no longer 'on duty' scouting for us. During the first week of his travels, Jake had met a Tlingit girl named Sheyla and immediately knew they were fated to be together. That was when he'd first explained to me about imprinting. It was apparently a pretty big deal, which was why the rest of the pack had come to meet Jake's soulmate. Sheyla would be a senior in high school this coming school year, so Jake's immediate plans would be keeping him here in Alaska. I found that sorta comforting.
One of the hardest parts of the wedding planning was keeping my dress secret from Edward. Which meant keeping him out of my head. I wasn't very good at blocking my thoughts from him when he was inside my shield. So in order to keep my dress a surprise, I had to keep my shield closed to him altogether. And I'd become so used to the velvety feel of him inside my head that it was hard to go without him.
We compensated by spending every possible moment together. Not too long ago, we'd lamented the fact that things always seemed to prevent us from just being. Now that those things were gone, we reveled in the quiet times. The alone times. The times when we just hung out with his family. The times we could be us. The times we could lose ourselves in each other's passionate embrace.
Celebrating the small and the ordinary and the normal parts of life with Edward and the rest of the family made the time fly. And soon it was our big day.
So fast and not fast enough, the morning of August 13th dawned: our wedding day. Our. Wedding. Day. For so many reasons it was absolutely miraculous that this day was here.
For it wasn't so very long ago that I assumed I'd never see Bella again. Never feel her arms embracing me. Never see her accepting gaze. Never hear her words of love. It wasn't so long ago that I'd given myself up to the idea of a life of longing, of yearning, of wanting, but never having. It wasn't so long ago that my grief over all this had suffocated the life right out of me, leaving me with nothing to look forward to but an eternity of pain. An ache that would only end when Bella left this earth, and I could seek my end as well.
Where once there was only emptiness, now there was a life full of love and belonging. Where once there was only pain, now there was such joy that it seemed to illuminate new colors in the world I'd never been able to see before. Where once there was no hope, now there was a world filled with possibilities and second chances.
And the difference? The difference was Bella. The difference was our love and her forgiveness. And mine – because, she was right, I had to forgive myself too. Not just for the colossal mistake that was my leaving her that awful day last September. But also for what I am, and the things that I had done in my life. For all of it.
It was nine in the morning, and the ceremony would begin at noon. It was nine hours since I'd last seen Bella. The Alice-enforced separation was our longest since before the battle with Victoria. My desire to see her, to hold her, was causing a literal pain in the center of my chest, so visceral was my need to be in her presence.
"You know," Jasper said, wincing a little and smirking, "this angst you're feeling is killing me."
"Sorry," I chuckled, knowing he was razzing me for my nerves.
The two of us were hanging out listening to music while Emmett and Alice took Bella for a pre-wedding hunt. She was insistent on sating herself so she could handle Sheyla attending the wedding. Imprinting apparently made it impossible for Jacob to withhold information from his betrothed, so she was aware of what we were. Thankfully, her relationship with Jacob bound her through the treaty to keep our secret. Once she learned how close Jacob and Bella were, she was willing to see if Bella could handle her presence. Jacob was leary, not surprisingly, but once he had the back-up of the rest of the pack, he was willing to try.
I had never been more proud of Bella than I was that day -- the day her humanity trounced her newborn nature in a landslide victory. Separated by a small field, Bella had handled being in Sheyla's presence like she was a vampire twenty times her actual age. Not once did bloodlust invade her thoughts or challenge her calm control.
Bella's euphoria at her accomplishment was complete. Because it meant she could have Jacob at the wedding (though he planned to keep Sheyla back from the immediate vicinity of the ceremony). But, more importantly, because it also meant that it wouldn't be long before she could chance seeing Charlie again. Now it was a question of when rather than if, and her pleasure at that realization was so very gratifying to see.
Jasper's voice pulled me out of my musing. "I'm a little out of practice for it, is all."
I frowned and looked at him curiously. I hadn't been paying enough attention to follow how his thoughts had led to that statement.
He smiled. It's just, you're so happy now, Edward. I didn't realize just how deeply I'd felt your pain and loneliness all those years until the past few months. The ache had become so familiar that I didn't even realize it was there anymore. Until recently. Now I feel like I'm on the strongest pain medicine there is. God, Edward, it's such a relief.
I nodded, speechless. I knew exactly what he meant. Then I frowned again.
"Stop that," he said.
"Don't feel guilty about what I said. For God's sake, man, don't look for things to feel upset about," he chastised as he smacked me on the shoulder, and knocked the guilt right back out of me. I was an expert at guilt. It was going to take me some time to unlearn that particular bad habit.
"Yeah, okay," I said through a smirk.
I turned my head to the bedroom door just as Carlisle knocked. "Come on in, Carlisle."
He smiled as he entered the room. "It's my job, apparently, to ensure that you are suited up and ready to meet a certain brown-haired beauty in just over two hours."
"I see," I said as I looked from Carlisle's amused face to Jasper, who just shrugged at his mate's antics. "Well, in that case, I guess I'll take a quick shower."
As the water cascaded over me, I couldn't help but smile. Twelve o'clock couldn't come soon enough.
I stood in front of the floor-length mirror. I was simply stunned by the image that reflected back to me. I looked…incredible.
Alice, Rosalie, and Esme surrounded me, all visions in their individually designed champagne gowns. Their expressions were full of love and excitement and happiness – for me.
I looked from them – from my family – back to the mirror and took in the moment.
The gown was an elegantly simple ivory sheath with deep v-necks in the front and back and three-quarter-length sleeves. The ivory color cast a warm tone over my now paler skin. My chestnut hair was pulled back on the sides with antique ivory combs Esme lent me as my something borrowed. Otherwise, it hung in long loose curls to the middle of my back and the new rich tones in my hair further accented the warmth of the ensemble. Edward's mother's ring was my something old and my gown was my something new.
I was trying very hard to ignore the fact that my whole family wasn't here. I longed for Charlie's quiet presence and Renee's frenetic energy. While I was thrilled that Carlisle was walking me down the aisle, I couldn't help but fantasize about my daddy – the man who used to carry me on his shoulders and scare boys off with a cutting glance and a well-placed hand on his gun belt – escorting me down the aisle and helping me begin my new life with my soon-to-be husband.
Esme hugged me carefully from behind and leaned her cheek against mine. The compassion on her face melted me a little and I felt a stinging sensation at my nearly topaz eyes that once would've been tears. "Are you okay?"
"Yes," I sniffed. "I just…."
"I know, Bella. I'm so sorry."
I glanced up at Rosalie's unusually quiet interruption.
"I have something for you. Well, it's actually from Jacob, but I couldn't let the mutt in here. Obviously." She smirked to cover up the smile that threatened. Killing Victoria had apparently provided something of a bonding experience for the two of them.
Alice giggled and I rolled my eyes.
"Here," Rosalie said softly.
I was curious about her demeanor, which seemed hesitant, especially for Rosalie.
I grabbed the odd circular piece of cloth and turned it over in my hands. My hand flew to my mouth as I gasped in shock.
"Jake apparently asked someone from his pack to get it for you when he called to tell them about Sheyla. He thought you'd want a…memento. But we were thinking," Rose said, motioning to the others, "that it could be your something blue."
I choked on a tearless sob and my hand shook as I stared down at the round Forks PD patch on which Charlie's scent still faintly lingered. I knew it was Charlie's scent on some basic instinctual level. It smelled familiar, and felt like home.
I pressed the patch to my chest and stared at the three girls, incredulous. I was hanging on to my composure by the barest thread, torn in equal parts between immense gratitude and utter despair.
"Bella?" Edward's worried voice called through the door.
All three Cullen women yelled a version of the same command: that he not come through that door.
I flew to the door and pressed myself against it. One hand was curled tight around the patch, and the other was flat against the door's smooth surface. I was willing my fingertips to feel him on the other side.
"What's the matter, Bella?" he asked.
"Edward, you're not supposed to be talking to her," Rosalie chided.
"It's okay, Rose," I finally croaked. "I need him, just for a moment."
"I'm sorry, Bella," Rosalie said.
I turned to her. "Don't be. I…really…it means the world to me. I just…." I shook my head and cut myself off.
"Bella? Please talk to me."
"How did you know I was—"
"I don't know…I just knew…and then I felt it in Jasper's thoughts."
I nodded even though he couldn't see me.
"I just miss them," I murmured, knowing I didn't have to explain who 'them' was.
"I know, love. God I wish I could touch you."
I smiled and took a deep breath. "Me too. Soon."
"Soon," he echoed.
"I'm okay. I promise." I looked across the room at the clock. "I'll see you in a few minutes, okay?"
"Okay. I absolutely adore you. You know that, right?"
"Yes," I nodded, "and I am madly in love with you."
I heard him chuckle on the other side of the door. "I'm so glad. Okay. I'll be the one waiting for you at the end of the aisle."
I stroked the door, feeling the motion of his hand on the other side, and smiled. "I'll be the one in white."
"God, I love you, Bella."
I heard a scuffle on the other side and some chuckling. Apparently the guys had come to reclaim Edward from the girls' side of the house. A kissy-kissy sound on the other side of the door confirmed it, especially when Emmett couldn't stop himself from laughing at his own silliness.
But in true Emmett fashion, he made me laugh, too. And it helped.
I turned around to the girls and offered an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry I freaked out. I really do love this. It was a perfect idea."
They all brushed off my apology, insisting it wasn't necessary.
"Here," Alice offered, "let me help you with that."
Reluctantly I handed her the patch and watched in satisfaction as she tucked it securely into the tightly wrapped ivory ribbons around the stems of my bouquet. When she was done, she handed me the bundle of tightly bound roses. "It's time," she whispered with a smile.
I nodded and took a deep breath. "Okay."
In a blur I was standing in front of our small gathering, my hands clasped tightly in Edward's. His touch grounded me, centered me.
"You look…you're a vision, Bella. Truly," he whispered to me.
"You too," I whispered back with considerably less eloquence.
Eleazar officiated over the ceremony, apparently having been ordained at some point in his life. It was his wedding present to us. And we were so pleased to have someone we knew marry us.
When it was time for me to say the vows we'd decided to write, I was nervous, but the joy on Edward's face gave me the courage to make my words strong and confident.
"Edward, when we found each other, we filled in the holes in the other's heart so completely, that now I find it difficult to know where my soul ends and yours begins. But what I do know is what a beautiful, caring, and generous soul you have. I also know that I feel a sense of belonging as I stand here before you, anticipating with the greatest joy the thought of spending the rest of my life with you, that I've never felt before. I thank you for the way you love me. If we share an eternity of that kind of love, it won't be enough. So, today I choose you for my husband. I promise to love you, honor you, care for you, and be faithful to you, from this day forward and for the rest of our lives."
I took a deep breath and Edward stroked over my knuckles with his thumbs. His eyes sparkled so brilliantly that I couldn't help but think he would be crying if he could. I wanted so desperately to extent my shield out around him, to hear what he was thinking. But I feared if I did I would lose the very little bit of control I had that was keeping me from wrapping myself around his body. Plus I wanted his vows to be a surprise.
"Bella," Edward began with a smile that could only be described as joyful and content, "the most amazing thing I've learned about love is the more love you give, the more you get back. And I know that because you have made me feel so totally filled up with love, so very consumed with it, that I feel a completeness I've not known, well, ever. Because of you there's light, and song, and color in my world. Because of you I know the miracle of hope and joy and faith. Because of you, I've experienced the wonder of humanity and forgiveness. There has never been anyone for me, except you. So, today I choose you for my wife. I promise to love you, honor you, care for you, and be faithful to you, from this day forward and for the rest of our lives."
The tightness was back in my throat again as Edward finished his vows.
Eleazar barely said the words, "I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cullen," before we were in each other's arms. "I guess I don't need to encourage you to kiss the bride," he chuckled.
The kiss was like air. As I threw my shield out around Edward, I knew that both of us needed that physical connection like we'd once needed oxygen. That connection, that physical evidence that we were both here – and always would be – was fundamental to our very survival now.
Emmett snickered under his breath to get a room and Edward and I broke into grins as our lips still met. Finally we pulled away, hands clasped.
Rather than walking down the aisle, the small gathering collapsed around us, offering hugs and words of congratulations. First to us were Jasper and Alice, who had stood up for us during the ceremony.
The reception passed with dancing and food for the Quileutes and just a little toasting and speechifying. I was so focused on Edward that I later realized that Sheyla's presence didn't once cause me a problem.
Then finally, finally, we found ourselves all alone in the Cullen mansion.
We stood in the great room, surrounded by the remains of a great party. Edward pulled me into his arms…
And Alice's voice rang out from the front door. "Um, guys?"
Edward groaned. "Seriously, Alice?"
"I'm sorry," she said, and her voice was so full of remorse that my initial irritation went away.
"What is it, Alice? What's wrong?" I asked as she appeared in the doorway to the great room.
"Well, nothing's wrong…."
"Alice," Edward's voice was softer now as he urged her to say what she needed to say.
"Well, if you're willing to try, I think I have a present for you," she said cryptically.
"No, Alice, I don't think that's a good idea," Edward finally said.
I looked between them, my shield not extended at that moment, trying to discern the meaning of Edward's words.
"I had a vision," Alice pushed on, "and I was thinking you might want to see it for yourself."
Edward huffed out a breath as I understood what she was proposing. Since that first time, I had avoided including Alice within my shield, fearful of what would happen if I lost consciousness so completely again. Alice wouldn't be offering unless it was something especially important.
I was torn. I didn't want to upset Edward, particularly not on this day of all days, but I couldn't resist whatever Alice thought I'd want to see.
"Please, Edward? I promise I'll be okay."
"Bella, I could never lose you. Do you understand that?"
"You won't, Edward. I promise. I'll be right here the whole time. And I'll be right back."
"It'll be okay, Edward. I've seen it," Alice reassured.
"Fine," he said, not completely mollified but clearly wanting to give me what I wanted. "Come here, love," he offered as he took my hand and pulled me to the couch. He sat in the corner and spread his legs so that I could settle between them and rest my back against his chest. "I at least need to hold you while you do this."
"Okay," I said as I offered him a small smile and a lingering kiss.
Alice sat on the opposite end of the couch. I nodded at her and she nodded back, and then I threw my shield out around her.
Second passed – five, ten, then thirty. Two minutes ticked by and I was just about to shrug it off in favor of Plan A, jumping my husband on my wedding night, when the vision hit and blackness descended.
In the dream, I knew the trip was Edward's Christmas gift to me. A week back in Forks, timed when Charlie had taken off a string of days to do some stuff around the house and spend some time with Sue Clearwater, who was quickly and unexpectedly becoming more than a good friend.
The first clear image that came to me was standing outside of his living room window at night. Sue and Charlie were putting up a Christmas tree, and several boxes of ornaments were scattered around them on the floor. Christmas carols played softly in the background, and Charlie grumbled through the whole ordeal, only shutting up when Sue softly admonished him that I wouldn't want him sitting in a dark, undecorated house at Christmastime.
Sue hummed along with "Silent Night" and stretched to reach a branch at the top of the tree. Charlie came up behind her and pulled the branch down so she could more easily reach it. She turned to thank him, and he surprised a laugh out of her by spinning her around and taking her in his arms. They kissed once and he took her hand in his, and then they were dancing amidst the boxes and fallen pine needles and other mess that still covered the floor. Charlie smiled.
Out of nowhere, the living room was gone. Edward and I cuddled on thick blankets in the middle of the meadow under a moonlit sky. He made love to me and whispered words of amazing adoration. That part of the dream ended too quickly.
The image shifted. And then I was in Charlie's bedroom. He was asleep alone in his bed, flat on his back as he always slept, one arm thrown above his head and the other over his chest. The room was chilly, and when I touched my hand to his, my coldness didn't seem to bother him. I thought to be fearful of being alone with him, but then that fear was gone. It was just a given that I wouldn't, couldn't, hurt him. I sat on the edge of his bed and watched him for some length of him, memorizing the details of him – the crinkles around his eyes, even as he slept, the set of his mouth, the color of his hair, the size of his hands.
"I'll always love you, Dad," I whispered in the dream.
"Bella," he murmured. I'd gotten my propensity to talk in my sleep from him, after all.
"Yes, Dad. I'm here."
"Miss you, little girl."
"I know, Dad. Me too."
Charlie shifted in his bed then and his hand clutched mine.
"Take care of yourself for me."
His words floored me. I knew from Alice's visions right after I'd been changed that it was a long time before he'd accepted the idea that I was really dead. But his subconscious was accepting my presence so readily; it seemed that perhaps some part of him clung to the belief that I was still out there, somewhere.
"Love you," he murmured.
I gasped back into consciousness, momentarily disoriented. And then twisted in Edward's arms to bury my face against his neck and clutch him to me. As I worked to calm my breathing, I felt Alice kiss the back of my head and rub my shoulders. She and Edward exchanged words that I couldn't concentrate on. I was replaying the vision in my mind for Edward's benefit, and knew I wouldn't be capable of words until he'd seen what I'd seen.
When I was done, I could still only manage thoughts. I get to see him Edward.
I know love. I'm so glad.
And he talks to me.
His heart knows you, Bella. It's clear.
Oh God, Edward, thank you.
Edward nodded and pressed soothing kisses against my temple.
Kisses that very quickly escalated my already heightened emotional state and erupted into a fierce need to have him, all of him.
The day was simply magical. From beginning to end.
And getting to experience Bella's euphoria at the confirmation that she would get to see her father again, and relatively soon at that, was worth the seven minutes of near-panic I'd endured while she was unconscious. I couldn't imagine that seeing her still, unmoving, unbreathing – as she was when the precognitive dreams gripped her – would ever be any easier. But this time, this time it was so very worth it.
Soft, soothing kisses quickly turned urgent and needful. I pushed us up off the sofa and scooped my bride into my arms. Up in our bedroom, the girls had built a fire in the big stone fireplace and decorated with candles and flowers and a soft romantic canopy over the bed.
The house was ours and ours alone for the next week. We were putting off our honeymoon until our first anniversary. By then Bella would definitely be able to be around people and we could choose our destination based on where we really wanted to go, rather than be dictated by her newborn nature now. It would be something fun to look forward to and plan, together.
But, for right now, all I was looking forward to was claiming my wife. Joining us together for now and forever.
I set Bella down on her feet as I pushed the door shut behind us and she gasped at the alternations to the room.
"It's so beautiful."
"It barely compares to you," I said as I turned her to face me.
"Oh, Edward. Is this real? Am I dreaming?"
"If you're dreaming, love, it's because it's a dream come true. This couldn't be more real. And I couldn't be more grateful."
She reached up as I leaned down and we met in a kiss filled with longing and need and love. She pushed at the jacket on my shoulders and I shrugged out of it as we continued to kiss. Our fingers fumbled together with my tie and the buttons down the front of my shirt. Soon I was shirtless and the feeling of Bella's fingers exploring me set me absolutely afire.
I reached around her and found the zipper to her gown. Carefully, we pulled her arms out of the delicate sleeves and I helped her step out of the luxurious pile of fabric.
Oh my Bella.
She was an absolute vision in a nearly sheer white linen and lace shift. It was an undergarment from a different era. I knew enough to know this was very much what I might have seen had we been marrying in 1918.
The thoughtfulness of her gesture astounded me.
Do you like it? she asked silently as she turned around for me.
I cocked an eyebrow at her. You really need to ask? This is…you look…wow, Bella.
Our bodies found their way back to one another and I could feel every part of her through the fine antique fabric. I kissed down her throat, across her chest, and laved her nipples with my tongue until they stood taut and exposed under the flimsy material. Bella was gasping and moaning and fisting her strong hands in my thick hair.
I walked us backwards until her legs hit the bed. She sat down and pressed kisses to my stomach that caused me to suck my breath in and moan. Then her hands found my belt and the fastenings to my tux pants which she tugged down. She ran her hands over the silk of my boxes. The attention she paid to my hard length was causing me to pant and press my hips forward into her touch.
She grabbed the band at my waist and leaned forward as she pushed them down to my ankles, where I stepped out of them.
So gorgeous, she thought as she looked up at me with heavily lidded eyes.
She licked her lips, and then leaned forward again and licked the rigid length standing erect right in front of her.
Aw, Christ. I groaned and my hands flew gently to the back of her head as her hands clutched at my hips.
She moved from licking to taking my engorged length in her mouth.
God you taste good, Edward. So good.
Oh, Bella, you can't…you can't say something like that right now.
I'm not saying anything, she teased, causing me to groan again. Her mouth was taking away every bit of brain capacity I had right at the moment.
Christ, Bella, that's so fucking good.
I stood, absolutely enthralled at the pleasure she was giving me. But within a half dozen intense strokes I had to push her away.
"That's incredible, Bella. But I need to be in you so bad it hurts."
"Come to me, then," she said as she pulled the shift over her head and it fluttered down next to the bed. She scooted her body back up on the bed as I crawled towards her, a predator after his prey.
Underneath the shift had been a small pair of beautifully detailed lace and pearl panties. But I wasn't of a mind to admire them right at that moment. And they joined the growing pile of clothing on the floor just before I settled my weight atop Bella.
For long moments we kissed and touched and stroked and rubbed and pressed against one another. Our need was a physical presence in the room.
Bella pulled her legs apart and cradled herself around my body. As the tip of my length brushed around the immense heat and moisture of her sex, I could wait no longer.
Oh God I need you, Bella.
I need you too, Edward. So take me. Make me yours.
I pressed forward, and inch by inch I found myself, my home, my heart, my forever.
When I was fully sheathed within her, I paused, reveling in the sheer intensity of the moment.
God, Edward, you feel so good. But I'll go insane if you don't move with me. She shifted her hips up and we both groaned at the exquisite sensation.
We were connected everywhere. My arms were wrapped underneath her shoulders as hers clutched my back. Her legs were twisted around my own, helping to offer her leverage to meet my hips, thrust for thrust, stroke for stroke. Though our lips hardly ever parted, our eyes remained open. And the connection to her soul was so utterly obvious and complete that whatever lingering doubt I had about the existence of my own soul fell away once and for all.
More, Edward. Please.
I tilted my hips and hunched myself around her as I drove harder, faster. She moaned her approval and her nails dug into my lower back and rear as she urged me on and thrust herself against me.
Fuck, Bella, fuck. I can't believe…I never knew…. In the moment, I was just too overwhelmed to vocalize just how complete she made me.
She groaned and whimpered as I ground my hips against her pubic bone, wanting, needing, to make her fall apart in my arms. My actions made my strokes shorter, deeper, faster, and it didn't take long until the slow contraction of her inner muscles exploded in a frenzy of heat and wet and gasps that frequently included my name.
Feeling her body convulsively grip mine pushed me closer to my release. But I wanted so desperately to draw out our lovemaking as long as possible. So against every physical urge I had, I slowed my pace and began pulling nearly all the way out before slowly pushing all the way back in.
"Edward," she pleaded.
"Sshh, Bella. I want to savor you, love."
"Mmmm," she moaned as she licked her lips and stroked my back.
She was whimpering nonstop and silently begging me to go faster after just a few minutes of the beautiful torture that the slower pace brought. And I was right there with her, needing more, always more, and getting more back from her in return.
Soon I couldn't help but thrust into her fast and hard and deep. My hands clutched her shoulders and also twisted in her hair, causing her to grunt and thrust herself against me with even more ferocity.
"Oh, Bella, oh fuck." I tilted my hips so that my cock stroked that place inside her that made her body so gloriously responsive.
"Don't stop, Edward. Oh, please. Ungh, God. Oh…Ed…ward!!!"
As her second orgasm caused her body to arch and contract around me, my climax flashed through me with an intensity that caused the room to spin around us. I continued to ride us through our euphoria, feeling her body milk the release out of mine over and over and over again.
Afterwards, she embraced me so tightly with her arms and legs that it was impossible to tell where she ended and I began. I rolled us to our sides so that I could wrap myself around her just as much.
I don't know how long we lay in the cocoon of our embrace. Or which one of us pushed out of it first. Or whose need led to the second lovemaking, or the third.
We were so connected that whole night that there was no her or me, no Bella or Edward. There was only us. And we simply couldn't get enough of one another.
As the pale pink of the early morning danced around the edges of the room, we found ourselves resting in a loose embrace.
"I am so thankful for you, Bella."
She shifted to look up at me. "Me too, Edward. There's no place I'd rather be at this moment – no place that I'd ever want to be – than right here in your arms."
"Bella, I love you more than life itself."
"And I love you with everything I am."
We continued to share words of commitment and devotion until the need swept us again.
It was the first day of the rest of our lives and we had everything we'd ever need right there in that room. And we had the certainty and security of knowing nothing could ever, ever, separate us again. We'd simply never have to worry about what happened to one another while we were gone.
Because we were in this life together.
I hope you enjoyed this ending and the story itself. I would love any and all comments, and read them religiously even though I find it hard to keep up with replying.
I have many thanks to give: to all the readers, to all the reviewers, to the many of you who hung in there through my long hiatus and who PMed me or emailed me to encourage me not to drop the story. Thanks to those of you who have given my other stories a try, or who found their way to this little story after reading The List. Thanks, too, to the many of you who helped support my effort to work on my original fiction by voting for me in the contest over at textnovel(dot)com. And thanks to those of you who nominated this story for various awards over the past several months. I am just filled with gratitude to all of you.
It seemed that timing the end of this with the release of New Moon makes a certain kind of sense, no? I'm hoping you all enjoyed the movie as much as I did. It's fun for me to think about this story now that I have the visual of the movie in my head.
Keep an eye out...I should be featured in an interview on the online podcast called Twigasm soon.
Until we meet again....