Reviews for Shelter
Renee Aubin chapter 21 . 5/8
So much more enjoyable than poor canon Edward: ‘I've had her nude and in our bed (and in the shower and on the stairs) for three days. A few hours with her body hidden behind that irritating fabric won't kill me.’

Understandable: ‘I don't want anything to disrupt the delicate balance we've established. I'm terrified of tipping her over the edge—away from me.’
It’s been such a difficult road getting where they are now.

Oh, sniffle: "I know I can't see him, but I like being close to my dad," she says at last. "Just knowing he's out there, a few miles away, makes me feel connected somehow."

Smile: ‘He wants me to come first. It's become an obsession for him…. If we were keeping track over the past week, my orgasms would far outpace his, anyway. In fact, knowing Edward, he probably is keeping track.’
So his obsessiveness has moved onto a much more fun track!

Oh my: ‘…revel in the sensation of him filling me on the inside while his clever fingers play me on the outside.’ Your sex scenes are delightful.

Excellent: "See? Wasn't that better than 'lovely'?"

Delightful to see Edward this way: ‘The eager puppy has altered his routine somewhat, but he's still always aching to please.’

Thank you! ‘“I want to keep what we have here private." … I only know I don't want my time with Edward mixed up with Emmett's teasing, Alice's knowing looks, or even Carlisle's polite silence.’

Nice: “This has been the best week of my life. I want to box it up and keep it safe, you know?"

And “Surely, we have time to make a few more memories for the box?" Yumm.

A vivid reminder of time passing, and how long it will be till they see the meadow again: ‘It makes me sad to think I won't be here to see them bloom again next year. It could be decades before it's safe for us to return. With a sinking realization, I suddenly understand we'll probably have to wait until everyone we know in Forks is dead.’
And God only knows how Forks might have changed by that time.

I like this formulation of one aspect of what being a vampire is like:
‘I might find some comfort in the idea that everything changes, but that's not entirely true, is it? The world keeps moving around me while I stand still, frozen in time. Everyone I know will grow old and die while I remain the same—etched in stone.’
Sounds so very lonely. No wonder the family sticks together no matter what.

Nicely said, when she was human ‘Every day I get older feels like a tiny step away from him.’

Wow, as a human she really didn’t get enough time to develop confidence in him:
‘I know I have at least a couple more years before the age difference becomes obvious; a decade if we push it…
Assuming he sticks around that long.’

Yes, this is exactly how contrary we humans tend to be: "When I was human, I wished for eternity with you. When I was turned, all I wanted was to go back.”

The beginning of a very fitting wrapup:
"I love you."
He takes a moment to process that, looking at me. Really looking.
"I know."
So important that finally he does!

I enjoyed your author’s note about how “Shelter” is the biggest thing you’ve ever undertaken and finished.

‘I was inspired by all of the amazing works of fanfiction I had just discovered and I wanted to see if I could create a story that made me laugh, cry, and feel in the way so many of them did.’

Congratulations – from my viewpoint that’s exactly what you accomplished. I loved your complex understanding of these characters that often seemed two-dimensional in canon, and your ability to imagine just the right scene to illustrate the way you saw them, individually and together.

Thank you for an exceptional AU story!
Renee Aubin chapter 20 . 5/7
Good for him: ‘I knew giving Bella my journal was a gesture laced with potential danger, but I don't regret the decision. I want her to know everything, even if we have to muddle through an awkward conversation or two as a result.’

Fun: ‘I have the urge to laugh, but wisely hold it in. I'm teasing her. She's just so cute, all shocked and wide-eyed.’

‘"Bella, I knew you were the love of my life the first night I watched you sleep. … You've read that. More importantly, you could feel that, couldn't you?"
"Yes," she whispers.’

This detail is kind of startling: ‘…running my nose along her silent pulse point.’ I guess she really IS a vampire!

‘I love the idea of Bella someday wearing my mother's ring… Perhaps it's silly and archaic in this day and age, but it's an idea that fills me with indescribable warmth.’
See, I think if canon Edward had expressed it so simply, it would have been much more effective than his tiresomely insistent this-way-or-no-way attitude. (Of course to be fair we only got his words, not his thoughts.)
When he offers to show her the ring: "Don't panic," I say through a smile. "I just thought you might be curious."
He has learned to be careful not to scare Bambi away.

Great insight into the early days after Edward’s change: “On top of everything else, mourning my parents would likely have broken me. As it was, I was too busy dealing with my new ability and the certainty that I'd gone mad."

I love how nimbly he navigates the conversation about a proposal. Her every expression causes a change of course.

Now this I don’t get:
‘"If you were finished with school, and I'd gotten down on one knee? What would you have said?"
Her face cracks, horror at my words blooming raw and unconcealed.’
Why is the question so horrifying? She explains about her parents, but it still bothers me that the fact that it’s HIM doesn’t seem to make a difference to her.

Good phrase: "Don't go all sad-eyes on me.”
Yeah, that would be hard to take.

And at least he figures out: ‘I don't need anything else, as long as I have her.’ Duh – take that canon Edward!

I enjoyed how they’re both thinking like grown-ups, each showing concern for the other instead of drawing battles lines because they each want their way. Managing to actually communicate!

‘"Did I hurt your feelings?"
Do I tell her the truth?
I've been so careful to keep these scabbing wounds hidden from her, but it's starting to seem like a futile effort. She reads me so well—I don't have to say the words for her to know what I'm thinking.
"… I was in love with a dream—a phantom you and me with an imagined future. It want the real you, not some Bella I've made up in my head."’
Well done, both of them.

‘"You'd like to wear it?"
She nods silently against my chest.
"The ring?" I can't imagine what else she could be talking about, but I want to be certain.’

This is poignant:
"I want to share that dream, Edward. I want to be excited by the prospect of saying 'I do', not terrified by it. I want to wear this beautiful reminder of your mother and see that adoring look in your eyes—the one you get when you talk about marrying me. I know I'm not there yet, but I want these things so much it hurts."
This is more self-knowledge than canon Bella ever had. Of course she was a few critical years younger.

Excellent metaphor:
‘There's something tethering her to her former life—something that causes her hesitation in moments like this. So slight, but so enormous. A drop of red in a bucket of white paint.’

“Can that be enough for now?"
A nice spin on one of my favorite canon lines: “Is it not enough to have a long and happy life with me?”

‘I pause there, frozen, uncertain about this next step. I want to ask her if she's sure, if this is really what she wants. But after everything we've shared today, I know if I do, she'll only get upset.’
Good choice!

Perfect: ‘She's so beautiful. We're beautiful—together, like this.’

I enjoyed your version of their first time. I thought it was very believable that he would finish without her. After all, how many decades has he waited? I like that she’s pragmatic about it too, and appreciates that it was still wonderful. "Stop it. Don't ruin this moment for me."
Oh yes, and deliciously hot!

Excellent: ‘I watch Bella's face as my hand treats itself to the feel of her body.’

Good description of exploration: ‘I love learning to play the instrument of Bella's body. Soon I'll have her singing for me, but right now I like playing random chords and snippets of melody.’

Lovely phrase: ‘…watching the gorgeous canvas of her face fall into blissful tranquility.’

‘This is the closest to dreaming I've come since my change. While the stars make their slow revolution in the sky, Edward and I exist in a hazy half-sleep—moving from silent contentment to fervent lovemaking and back again. I spend the quiet moments thinking about the frenzied ones until they're all mixed up together, and I can hardly distinguish the two.
A trance-like state. A beautiful delirium.’
I don't think I've ever read a better imagining of what it might be like for them to never need to interrupt themselves to sleep, and yet it can't be just frenzy for days on end.

Charming, his “counting freckles” that disappeared with her change: "I remember the exact location of each one, and I'm kissing where they used to be."

What a lovely meditation on what she has lost: ‘I picture the light scattering of freckles across Renee's nose, the same ones I inherited from her, the ones now erased from my face. I see Charlie's warm eyes and know the red in my own will soon fade to golden amber, never returning to his rich brown.’
So much better than a generic “I miss my parents”.

Kind of shocking:
‘“There are differences, of course, but you're still the same Bella."
I don't think so. Not really.’

But a great explanation: ‘The other Bella never experienced pain the way I have; she never lost faith in her world. I know I've found my way back to Edward, but I'm not the same Bella who fell asleep in his arms that night.’

‘As quick as that, we're flying headfirst into another frenzied moment. And this Bella—whoever she is—couldn't be happier.’
“Whoever she is”, huh? Well, I guess I have to accept that she really isn't the same person. Who would know better than her? You’ve done a great job having her grapple with what such a foundational change could really mean to someone, especially when it’s unplanned and without her consent.
I was going to say she and Edward are having to make do with the “scraps” of the old Bella, but she is still a whole person, and whatever relationship they'll have has to incorporate that whole person. Much of his struggle the last few chapters – aside from his own sense of guilt – is discovering and accepting the differences. He has to find out who this altered Bella really is, and whether they can still “work” as a couple.

And since these two can actually communicate, and each thinks about the other as much as about themselves, they've got a decent chance.
Renee Aubin chapter 19 . 5/2
Snicker – I love Edward unabashedly admitting what he wants. ‘We're both fully dressed, which is a shame. … Bella insisted on putting her shirt back on—I have yet to find a subtle way to take it off again.’

Nicely said: ‘She no longer burns under my fingers, but when we're together like this, a slow-spreading heat seems to overtake us both.’

‘"And this? Is this okay?"
There are no words for how okay this is.’

Perfect: “"I want you, Bella. I want everything you're willing to give. I'm sorry you're confused—I didn't mean to make you doubt yourself.”

Terrific: "I know there's still a lot to talk about . . . but can you just be kissing me now?"
I didn’t catch the Buffy reference – it has been a while – but I do love that show.

What a yummy phrase: ‘I want to feel his fire.’

Lovely: ‘He's always been warmth and wonder in my heart, but now his skin matches that feeling.’

So sweet: ‘I grin from my perch on his lap as he takes me in. No matter how many times he's seen me this way, he always manages to wear that stunned look of awe.’

Excellent tie back to her human days: ‘…desperate for the pleasure that teases my fractured memory like a mirage’.

Beautifully said: ‘I am shivering, mindless anticipation. I am a spark before the inferno.’

Whoa, vivid image: ‘He prowls forward, urging me onto my back, keeping connected by mouths and hands and soft, wet skin.’

A delicious view of Edward: "Oh my God, Bella, you're just—" he whispers through heavy, rasping breaths. "Fuck, you're beautiful."

Aww: ‘We are absurd giggling playfulness. We are a long cleansing breath after staggering hurt. I love seeing him like this—light and happy. Eager to connect.’

Her slow exploring was so good. "Patience, cowboy."

Very believable: ‘My former bravado has abandoned me, leaving me with nothing but anxious desire propelling me forward.’

And then:
‘Edward is beautiful. And intimidating.
Holy crow. What the hell am I going to do with that?’

But she figures it out – it helps of course that he is so responsive. Wonderfully done.

And finally, they’re BOTH happy!
Renee Aubin chapter 18 . 4/23
Excellent: ‘…the family recounts various Moments from Bella's Training Days. It's a humiliating hazing process, but I accept it silently and with grace. And by that, I mean I'm already plotting my revenge on each and every one of them.’

A good perspective on Bella’s party-phobia: “We want to celebrate, and you're going to let us.”

Fun interactions with all the siblings. Maybe my favorite was Alice and the old shoes.

‘Edward's journal.
The intimacy of the gift, the profound generosity of Edward opening his heart, floors me.’

What a wonderful idea, letting her read his journal entry from the last night of her human life.
‘The last time I would dream or breathe or feel blood pulsing through my veins. The last moment knowing exactly where I belonged.’
Very touching.

A nicely done transition: ‘Edward's love, spelled out so clearly for me here, finally makes sense. As I take in the man who penned these words, the world shifts under me, and I see what forever might look like…’

Snicker: "Out. Everyone out. Now."

Considering what they’ve been through, this is perfect: ‘We kiss and touch and explore with frantic need—as though this is our last moment together, not just the beginning.’

Yes: ‘Oh, no. He's afraid I'll regret it. I told him I love him, and he's afraid I'll take it back. What horrible scars have I left on this poor boy's heart?’

Good point: ‘How did he do it? I never would have survived, having him close and knowing he didn't want me.’
Amazing strength of character.

Wow, good for him:
"I just—God, I hate myself for saying this! Can we slow down a bit? Catch our breath? I feel like we're moving at warp speed here, and I need a minute."

Sniffle: ‘…with sudden clarity I realize he does look different. There's a sadness etched around his eyes that wasn't there before.’

"[Alice] doesn't want to see me open my present?"
"Nothing to open."
Now I'm confused. I wait for him to explain.
"They're all staying away for the week. Time alone. That's the gift."

Such lovely words: ‘She's heaven in my mouth, fire under my fingers, and cool waves of joy in my heart.’

Very smart:
‘"What was it? That made you change your mind?" I know she said she loves me, but if something were to happen, if I ever need to bring her back to me, I want to know how to do it again.’

‘I can't tell her that I didn't survive it. Not really. I can't say that a little part of me died every second she kept her distance. Because that won't help us; it would only create a rift I don't want between us. And it's not her fault, anyway. None of this was her fault.’
And '...praying for the day when what I've said is the whole truth'.
Renee Aubin chapter 17 . 4/14
Sigh: ‘Sometimes I wonder if I'll have to spend eternity as her best friend—her favorite brother.’
A slight improvement over being the only single one with three couples, but far from what he had thought he finally found.

Emmett is ‘convinced Bella's feelings will mature any minute now … though I can't allow myself to hope for such a thing. I can't let the thought take root—it would be too painful to extract if proven false.’
Yes, and as volatile as she has been, if I were Edward it would take me a long time to believe her even if she does seem to come around.

Wow: ‘Instead, I enjoy what I have with Bella, and try to make this existence as happy as possible for her.’ I expected the “enjoy the moment” sentiment, but the “for her” was a nice refinement.

I didn’t watch the last couple seasons of True Blood, but I do agree with Alice’s and Rosalie’s reasons for watching. Although I did also enjoy Sookie a lot (and Tara and her gay cousin … what was his name?). Now you’ve got me curious about the final resolution of the love triangle!

Well said: ‘Bella's desire to touch me is as mercurial as the moon. Close one minute, remote the next.’

Hmm: ‘As I watch Bella run under the fall of moonlight, I feel happy and free. This is everything I need.’
Maybe he can manage as “favorite brother”.

Snicker: ‘Edward … told me Carlisle would like a word. It feels a little like being sent to the principal's office.’
I still can’t get used to the idea that Bella doesn’t know the other Cullens. Especially Carlisle, somehow.

Good for her: ‘I can't be polite and forgiving while that cunt's sisters offer their condolences for my decimated life. I don't have that in me.’

“I can be a newborn in Alaska as easily as I can in Forks. Don't let me keep you here longer than necessary."
Umm … does she realize the Denalis are in Alaska?

Nicely done conversation with Carlisle. Especially the last bit, about waiting to move because there’s ‘No need to wreck two houses.’

Clever – I like that the outdoor food handling practice ‘always makes me feel like Alice in Wonderland.’ Better yet: ‘Edward sits glumly across from me, like the surly Caterpillar.’

Too bad Edward can’t read her mind:
‘There's no chance I'll be cuddling Jasper later today, so I lose nothing by taking my ire out on him. Were Edward in his place, we'd both miss out.’
And later ‘At some point along the way, Edward's affection has stopped feeling like a prison. It kind of makes me feel warm instead.’
I bet he doesn’t know she feels either of these things.

I enjoyed Jasper’s style: "Suck it up, darlin'. If you want to pass in the human world, you have to be able to do everything they can do. And I have yet to meet a human who can't pick up a cookie."

Good one: ‘I want to punch [Jasper] in his Zen-calm face when he talks like that. In fact, I did once. Emmett laughed for half an hour afterward, and even then he only stopped because I threatened to do the same to him.’

Jasper pushes her to take a bite of the cookie. ‘Edward growls from across the table, and his protective instinct snaps me out of it. When Edward starts to coddle me, I know it's time to push myself.’

Good perspective: ‘Edward has gone through our time together in as great a detail as possible, but that accounts for only a single week of my life…’
Vampire road trip, for researching Bella's past – it would give them some much-needed privacy too.

Funny: ‘…I drag my feet. Literally. I leave huge dents in the grass where my heels dig in.’

Even more funny: ‘It looks like a unicorn puked up a sparkly rainbow.’ I do enjoy your Bella’s voice.

Uh oh. I wonder who will stop her from killing Alice?
Renee Aubin chapter 16 . 4/8
Jasper has ‘trained so many newborns—admittedly, for different reasons—his methods are near perfect by now.’ I can’t think of another author who explicitly used Jasper’s experience with newborns this way – clever! More commonly if he has a role, it’s keeping her calm with his gift.

Aww: ‘I'm running out of innocuous [memories]. Pretty soon I'll have nothing left to describe but the way she felt when I touched her bare skin, or the smiles she gave when I called her "love."’
So I have to wonder – does she understand how intimate they were?

Interesting description: ‘She looks lighter somehow, like the weight of the change doesn't sit quite so heavily. There's still a wall there, but it's shorter, and I can occasionally peek over the top.’

Shivery contrast between the shared memories Edward is describing now, and his personal memories during his “rebellious” days.

Nicely said: ‘I love it when she remembers something. She lights up—firecrackers shooting off sparks in her mind.’

I enjoyed the simplicity of the time B&E spent together, paddling around on the swan boat ride. I like that it was about spending some pleasant, peaceful time together, rather than high-octane, high-dollar entertainment. It sounds like them.

Ha ha, $100 on cookies and drinks. I imagine it would be easy to do, though, it sounds so innocuous to just have a few more cookies rather than spending a small fortune on a meal in that prime location.

Geez I guess this is better than nothing, as Edward thinks some more about the memory of that day, ‘the embers inside my heart flare, warming me the slightest bit.’

I enjoyed this:
‘This is something I should do on my own. I can't rely on Edward for everything. I need some independence.
So much for independence.’
I think it happens to all of us that we are sometimes surprised when the words that come out of our mouths are different from the decisions we thought we just made.

Terrific imagining of the post-vampire difference: ‘I can see me in there—in the shape of my chin, the fullness of my lips—but it's like I've been buffed and polished into something sleek and shiny and foreign. Paste jewelry magically transformed into diamonds.’

Hmm: ‘When my eyes find Edward, I feel better. He seems to know who I am, even if I don't, and that's comforting.’

Oh boy, this makes me uncomfortable: ‘I don't know if I can ever find myself enough to love Edward again, but maybe feeling loved by him will be sufficient.’ Ooh, not for long, I think. But then she seems to spend the rest of the chapter grappling with that very question.

Smile: ‘I'd hate to have to resort to violence with [Jasper], but I will.’ Yeah, good luck with that.

Interesting that she has kept Alice at such a distance: ‘I haven't spoken more than a dozen words to Alice since I woke up over a week ago…’ That must be killing Alice.
But then Bella is thinking ‘She can't help what she sees. If Edward could read my mind, would I be as cruel to him as I am to her?’ God, I’m glad they don’t have to find out. Because I’m guessing “yes”.

Thank you! ‘Alice smiles sadly, and for the first time she doesn't look like some obnoxious bouncing pixie to me.’

Well said: ‘This conversation is like an Escher drawing—a circular, upside down labyrinth. It's so fucking awkward, it's hilarious.’ And later ‘This is like some horrible Buddhist riddle!’

Wow an actually helpful conversation results:
“What if I can't ever feel the way he feels about me?"
[Alice] levels her gaze at me, and all of the humor is gone from her eyes. It stops me short. I've never seen her look so . . . scary.
"Don't you think Edward is aware of that possibility? Do you honestly think Edward would prefer you act cold and distant when you don't really feel that way?"

And she needs to understand this: “Moving forward, there will never be a time when Edward is not in love with you."

"Can't you just tell me if I'm going to love him again?" I plead. "It would make everything so much easier if I could just know that one thing."
She shakes her head. "I'm sorry, Bella, but you haven't decided yet."
What I love about this is it goes against the romance novel trope that love just happens, like a safe falling on Wil E. Coyote. Bella has to open herself to it with a choice!

Good insight at the end, about the difference between Edward’s openness and her own self-protection.
Lovely: ‘Edward's eyes shine in anticipation as I approach. All he wants is me. So I give him all that I can in this moment, and I take his hand.’
Renee Aubin chapter 15 . 4/1
Hmm, well put:
‘Why can't I just take his love as the gift it surely is, rather than a stone shackled to my neck?
Because I see it now: he loves me.’
Progress, maybe?

Well, this should be good news: ‘I'm done with him giving me space I didn't ask for and don't want.’

Bella really put on her big-girl pants to apologize to all of the Cullens about her Big Tantrum. I am totally sympathetic with her wish to ‘hide out in this meadow for the rest of time.’

Wow, quite a change in perspective: ‘Suddenly, I realize Rosalie's venomous glare has never been directed at me. Edward is the sole target of her hateful words and icy scowl.’

Good for Bella, for being so honest with herself: without Edward ‘I'd be alive. I'd have my family, my friends. I'd have the promise of a future.
And I'd be absolutely miserable. Lonely. Alone.’

Thank goodness: ‘It looks like [Alice is] holding herself back from hugging me.
Wise choice.’

Well done scene of Edward’s aggravated thoughts as Esme helps Bella take a shower in the next room. I loved that Esme thanks her for defending Edward from Rosalie.

A nice parallel to Bella’s thoughts:
"Esme, do you think Edward wishes we hadn't met?"
"Oh, sweetie. I know he wishes things had turned out differently for you two, but I have a hard time imagining him ever wishing to go back to his life before you."

Wow: ‘[Esme’s] memories of me during the past few years are harsh and bleak. In her mind's eye, I look empty, hopeless. I thought I'd done a better job of hiding the extent of my misery, but Esme saw through the facade, of course.’

And then the next sentences were heartwrenching: ‘Those grim memories fade when she pictures me holding Bella as I bring her into the house for the first time—a heartsick vampire carrying his broken, bitten love. Even through my grief, Esme sees the love shining through, sees the way it buoys me.‘

Wonderful, in Esme’s thoughts: ‘We're coming out now, Edward. You might not want to be caught loitering against the wall when we do.’

Again, good for Bella: "Would you like to come in?" she asks, motioning to her room. "I was going to go back outside, but I promised Emmett." She's really trying.

I enjoyed the extra little details about Bella’s T-shirt quilt, that her and Renee’s road trips were when her mom drove her out to visit Charlie. (Even though the book explicitly said Bella had never been east of Albuquerque!)

Aww: "You did that for me. By keeping these things—" She motions to the room. "—by saving them for me, you helped me hold onto something I thought was lost. Thank you. You have no idea what that means to me."
Finally, he can’t deny he did SOMETHING right.

Oh, sad: ‘The expectant look in her eyes is heartbreaking. I understand the overwhelming desire she has to connect to her former life, but it's not something I can even pretend to entertain.’

Excellent, re Bella’s reluctance to look in the mirror:
"I guess I'm afraid what I see will be too different. If I can't recognize myself, does that mean I'm really gone?"

Good one: “I've had it! If you say 'sorry' one more time, I'll . . . I'll let Emmett help me with the next shower!"

Very good finish:
“…I'm going hunting." She stalks out of the room without a backward glance, and I'm frozen to my seat.
After a lifetime, Bella's icy voice floats upstairs.
"Are you coming or not?"
I’m guessing he’ll take it!
Renee Aubin chapter 14 . 3/21
Wow what perfect lyrics for this chapter:
‘We're reeling through an endless fall
We are the ever-living ghost of what once was’

Oh gosh, Edward’s thoughts while he hopes against hope that Bella won’t “say it out loud” are heartbreaking. But of course she does say it.
And his conclusion is devastating:
‘God, what have I done?
I was wrong. I shouldn't have believed Alice… But I did, and now Bella's soul is lost and we have nothing. Nothing.
I should have set the fire and let us burn together.‘

Very Edward – after those heartless words,
‘"Will you please excuse me?" Edward says at last, startling me. His voice holds the same cool dispassion as his eyes.’

Interesting to watch Bella’s thoughts too. At the time she thought she was only telling the truth, but now she questions how harshly her words might have been received.

And boy do these words of Bella’s sound like canon Edward: ‘I wonder how something so beautiful can house something so foul.’ Well done.

Good Lord what strength of character he’s showing:
"I know I can never give you back what's been taken from you, and I will forever regret that. But I promise I will do everything in my power to make this new life bearable for you—whether that means you choose to have me in it or not. I want nothing more than to see you happy, Bella."

A wonderful touch that he’s taken the time to fix up her room: ‘The space is laid out just like my old room in Cambridge.’ How welcome it must be to have something – anything – familiar now.
Wow: ‘It's tangible evidence I once walked this earth—human and flawed and loved.’

After that gift, she’s entirely confused about whether she wants him around. He’d probably be happy to know she’s at least on the fence, rather than totally done with him.

So sad, from Edward: I ‘focus on the sound of her breathing on the other side of the wall. Slow and steady. If it weren't for the distinct absence of a heartbeat, I could almost believe she was human. Happy. Sleeping.’

What a lovely memory, from that last evening of her human life. Good job on her slide into sleep and dreamland. Snort, “The monkeys will help”.

Understandable: ‘I can't stand to hear her say "sorry" after all that I've done.’
He doesn’t give himself a break at all given that it’s Tanya who did the damage, entirely without his knowledge.

What a time for them to visit the meadow. That was a nice touch, having actually researched Western wildflowers!

I think he takes some risks by encouraging her memory of the day with the cherry blossoms. What a contrast to the current situation: ‘It cuts me to remember how Bella once thought meeting me was destiny. Once told me I felt like home.’

Whoa, finally a newborn reaction from Bella, when Edward hesitates to explain Tanya. No wonder he’s practically frozen: ‘If I don't picture Bella's broken body in my arms, maybe I can get through this.’

He thinks he understands what Tanya was thinking: ‘Her last gift to me was eternal love.’
But ‘Bella's love, it seems, was not eternal—it couldn't survive the fires of the change.
And now I've lost everything.’

And the fact is, we can’t always make sense of why other people do what they do. Now the only thing to do is to figure out whether the pieces can be picked up.

No wonder he’s furious enough to destroy a tree.

I loved “Blood Play” too. Waiting for updates was torture, and it remains unfinished, but at least she resolved the major story arc. I loved her take on what it was like for newborn Bella, but the ever-mangled communication between them was sooo frustrating!

Hmm, kind of like in this chapter!
Renee Aubin chapter 13 . 3/11
Terrific imagining of what Bella’s first days as a newborn could have been like. I especially liked her just sitting outside with Edward, staring around her or thinking as hours and hours slipped by. So much to absorb.

Some favorite lines:

‘How can there be a "me" when all that I am is fire and agony and despair?’

‘There's a final, exploding blaze—an atom bomb dropped inside my empty chest cavity, mushrooming out and covering the world in smoldering pieces of flesh and bone.
Then nothing. No hurt. No ache.

I loved your ideas re how she reconnected with language:

‘I start to notice other things. I hear leaves rustling, and I remember the word "leaves" and understand what it means. Extraordinary.’

‘He stops and holds his hands up placatingly. I'm momentarily distracted, rolling that word around in my brain.
Play-kate-ing-lee. It feels nice.’

‘…two beasts tethered to a tree at the edge of a large, grassy field. Instinctively, I taste their scent on the breeze. It smells off somehow, but the fire in my throat flares in response, and I know I'll try anything.’ Reminded me so much of the Jurassic Park scene of the tethered goat waiting for the T-Rex. Bella as T-Rex seems quite appropriate.

‘…he smiles—his mouth turning up in a crooked half-moon—and suddenly the air is sucked out of me as it all comes flooding back.
Oh, God, Edward. My love. And I'm Bella. BELLA.’
But then … not that Bella!

‘He's not answering me, and I need answers.
"Edward, what am I?"
… That's okay, I already know.
As I say the new word, it doesn't feel good in my mouth. It tastes like ashes.

‘I remember my first days after the change. It was overwhelming—all the new sensations, the ability to process so much information, but the complete inability to prioritize that information's importance.’

‘Mostly, I'm thankful she's allowing me to be here in her presence. I can so easily imagine her pushing me away. I'm responsible for all of this—why wouldn't she push me away?’

I always thought this was a key component of Bella’s personality:
‘It's a testament to Bella's ability to accept me unconditionally that she calls everything related to my vampiric abilities a "quirk"—as though it's some unique component of my personality, not a reflection of my deeply flawed nature.’

A welcome light moment, courtesy of – who else – Emmett:
‘They're leaving? I hear Emmett think from the house. Fucking lame!
"You suck, Eddie!" he says, and I chuckle at his eagerness to meet Bella.’

A nice detail: ‘There's an out of place lump in the yard, and we stop to examine it. Someone has laid out fresh sets of clothes for us.’ Vampires would certainly be aware of anything different in their environment.

‘Someone chose Bella's outfit from the suitcase I packed—a battered Clash t-shirt and dark gray yoga pants—and the familiar scent wafting towards me makes my heart ache.’
Mine too.

Nice: ‘The gleaming modern decor and inhuman beauty create an incredibly imposing scene, like I'm at the foot of Mount Olympus, bearing witness to a secret meeting of the gods.’

It’s still astonishing to me that she hasn’t met any of the other Cullens before. Incredibly stressful way to have that first meeting.

Another good detail: Alice ‘reaches across the table to circle her arms around me, and I instinctively tense. It takes everything I have not to throw her across the room.’

‘"Rosalie," she corrects coolly, and I feel a shiver slink down my spine. She reminds me of another bitchy blonde vampire, and immediately I feel like jumping across the table and ripping into her.’ Oops.

‘I barely remember my own family—how the hell does [Carlisle] expect me to take on another one? I just met these people, and half of them make me feel more uncomfortable than welcome.’
A shock for canon lovers who are practically required to adore the whole gang, but I think it’s a realistic take on what it might be like for very-newborn Bella.

Wow, what a transition:
‘I remember the hours we spent together in my last week of life... I remember the way he made me feel, remember thinking I loved him.
But that was another Bella. Not me.
That was a girl who hadn't been ripped from her life without cause or explanation. A girl who hadn't lived through an eternity of torment. A girl who hadn't forgotten everything that was important to her. A girl who didn't mistrust everything and everyone around her.’

Interesting: ‘If I'm honest, I don't really feel like being touched right now. The numb disinterest I've been feeling since I woke is starting to fade. I'm afraid it's being replaced by something ugly.’

Good job on the emergence of the “ugly”. A regular ol’ human in her situation would have plenty to be profoundly angry about, let alone a volatile newborn.

‘"And you—what am I supposed to be to you? Ready-made girlfriend? Lover? Mate?" I glare at him with bile in my heart. "That's my job, right—to keep you happy? The family's counting on me. How delighted they must be to have finally collected the last figurine in the matching set!"’

‘"It's not fair . . . it's not fair . . . " I sob over and over again. I want to wash this hurt away, and I'm trying, but the tears aren't coming, and that makes me want to cry even more.
How am I going to do this? How am I going to be this?’

It astonishes me to realize you’ve successfully turned my attention from the expected B&E obsession to empathizing with what a horrible situation Bella has found herself in, Edward or no Edward.
Renee Aubin chapter 12 . 3/5
From your opening author’s note: ‘I own my fearful anticipation.’ I can see why!

Good phrase: ‘this pale beauty with the predatory glare of a lioness’.

Oh, damn:
"Edward isn't here, little mouse."

"And I'm not Alice."

How terrifying to get this call on his way to the airport: "Turn around!" Alice screams at me before I can finish. "Turn around right now!"

Vivid – Alice is about to tell Edward what Tanya is up to: ‘"Don't fucking say it!" I can't let her finish the thought. If she finishes the thought, I'm done for. I won't be able to continue, won't be able to function.’

Bella’s POV of the encounter with Tanya is extra-chilling because we know this is only the second vampire she’s ever met! No months of being used to the Cullen family to bolster her confidence. Not that it would have helped.

Excellent, putting this canon line in Tanya’s mouth: “Look at you! You're nobody! You're nothing!"

Heartbreaking that Bella is wrong:
‘I realize the meaning behind those squealing tires. Edward must be here.
Oh, thank God! He'll stop her! He'll save me!
I can almost see the door bursting open, can almost feel my love's cool breath against my cheek as he holds me and tells me I'm safe, tells me he'll never leave my side.’

I like your description of Bella’s change much better than canon. ‘After twenty minutes of screaming, Bella loses her voice.’ I know it was part of SM’s notion of what made Bella "special", but I thought the silent change was idiotic.

Aww, so sad: ‘…something inside me breaks—something irreparable—and I realize it's my faith in myself. My belief that I am good for this woman. My hope that I could ever deserve her. …
She may never be at peace again.’

It made me shudder that he even thought about actually killing her to stop the change. Whoa.

This made me chuckle even in the midst of all the angst: ‘Even from inside his head, Jasper's slow, Southern ease makes me want to punch him in the face.’

Oh my gosh, Tanya’s decision came from hearing one of Alice’s visions … which never got the chance to happen! Good point too that Tanya must have been nearby for a while, masking her thoughts, so she could enter the apartment as soon as Edward left.

Ah, so finally they’re headed for Forks! Makes me irrationally happy.

Amazing scene where Edward tells Angela that Bella is going away while he packs up Bella’s stuff. I guess he’s right, though: ‘Angela, of all people, doesn't need me to ease her in.’
Particularly well said:
"You know we're different, Angela. My family. You've always known." …
Her eyes grow wide, and her mouth drops open. Slowly, she nods her head.
"Bella's going to be different now, too."

Terrific description of the change from Bella’s POV. For instance ‘Universes collide and disperse in the time it takes the searing fire to move—cell by cell—from my neck to my shoulder.’

There’s something about being greeted by Carlisle and Esme in Forks that is so poignant – it really brings back to our minds that this is the same Edward we saw (and loved) in canon, in just slightly altered circumstances.
Esme’s perspective is a welcome ray of optimism: "I know this isn't what you wanted, but I'm just so happy you found each other."

Excellent, in contrast to being surrounded by the family:
‘The silence of Bella's mind has been such a relief for me, and I didn't ever truly appreciate it.
I was too busy wishing I knew what she was thinking to be thankful for the beautiful quiet.’

Fabulous ending:
‘At last, her stuttering pulse stalls and stops completely, and I feel the ions in the air shift.
With a start, Bella opens her blood-red eyes, and nothing is ever the same again.’

I smiled at your concluding note: ‘I want to remind you all to breathe’. Yeah, I needed that!

I have to admit that this is the stage when I lose interest in many stories: vampire Bella. There’s something about the human-vampire dynamic that fascinates me, and that’s over. SM’s vampire Bella in particular was so “perfect” that she was boring, well, to me anyway. However – takes deep breath – I trust you to do something interesting with her. Certainly the circumstances in canon were radically different before her change, so there’s an awful lot yet to be resolved. (and no baby, thank the goddess)

I hope you will also shed more light on Tanya’s motivation, eventually. I would have understood if she had killed Bella, but why do her the “favor” of changing her? Baffling!

P.S.: Thanks for the rec of “The Unlikely Meeting”. I truly was belly-laughing. It made me want to go back and see if the original MotU was really that clumsily written! Haven't seen the movie yet.
Renee Aubin chapter 11 . 2/23
Fun playfulness as Edward hangs around to help Bella close up the coffee shop.

Bella is thrilled Edward can’t read her mind: ‘There's no way I want to share all the embarrassing things I think about him. What would he think if he knew how desperately lost I am in his presence?’

So sweet: he guesses what she’s thinking but ‘He can't possibly get it right, because each time I ask him to tell me what I'm thinking, my heart is screaming I love you.’

A charming variation on “the pot calling the kettle black”.

So funny: Spencer “has an unhealthy fascination with me." Bella’s all over that!

Oops: ‘Since Alice is not only the pushiest but also has the best chance of helping us avoid any potential disasters, she and Jasper seemed like the obvious choice for our first house guests.
Esme will forgive me, eventually.’

Aww, so he’s fighting the same battle:
‘"Sweet girl, they will love you. How could they not?"
I love you.’

Nicely said:
"Oh, Bella, my family has had to put up with my unhappiness for nearly a century. You cannot imagine how 'worth it' they think you are."
But, oh yuck, she knows nothing about the Volturi yet.

What makes your lemon so special is that you really take your time with it. It grows so naturally out of their cautious explorations (an organic lemon!). I enjoyed how you wrote Edward’s very normal lust, too.

Thank you for reversing this sentiment: ‘Bella is looking at me like I'm something delicious she'd like to taste…’

An example of your yummy details: ‘When I'm in position, she runs her fingers up from my wrists, exploring the lines of my forearms, the bend of my elbows, and the muscles corded around my upper arms.’ Very cinematic.

When she wants more,
‘I curse myself for making her cry.
God, I wish I could just give her what she wants.’
To be fair, in canon we never got Edward’s view of this kind of interaction, but we sure didn’t see the combination of compassion and sheer courage that your Edward shows.

An interesting complication that in your story they’ve already shared mutual orgasms once, so it’s difficult to convince Bella they can’t have that again.

Now this line was pretty much the same in canon: “I can't risk hurting you—not for some selfish desire." It always bothered me that this focused only on HIS desire. Doesn’t hers matter? Not in SM’s universe.

Good for him: ‘This isn't my Bella. My Bella is a fighter—she doesn't give up. I hate what this is doing to her.’
And so he actually thinks about alternatives, rather than just slamming the Victorian gate closed.
‘An image flashes in my mind: Bella wild with passion, my hands exploring places I've never dared. …the thought sinks its teeth in, latches onto me, and my imagination takes the fantasy to its natural conclusion. In my mind's eye, Bella looks completely satisfied, and I haven't lost control, haven't put her in danger. If I could pull it off, it would be amazing.’

Aww: ‘“…maybe I could try something else." I have no idea what I'm doing. I just know I can't keep looking at the disappointment on her face.’

Good one: ‘I can't even call it playing with fire—what I'm considering is like surfing a volcano.’

I like that he allows her to explore his body (north of his jeans, at least), and not in a grim or fearful way. I enjoyed his response when she does something he likes: ‘I'm sitting up in a flash, removing the offending t-shirt and flinging it aside carelessly. … I smile as I lie down, pulling Bella across my bare chest…’ There wasn’t a lot of smiling Edward in canon.

Lovely: ‘Soon, my fingers are teasing the skin under her shirt, and Bella stops her ministrations on my mouth to focus on the sensation. She rests her forehead against my shoulder as my fingers saunter up her spine, dance across her shoulder blades…’

The rest of it, from Edward musing that he’s a breast man, through announcing to Bella that he’d like to try something, through the end, is all sensational. Some favorite bits:

‘"May I?"
Her mouth is open, but she can't seem to form any words. Instead, she nods her head slowly, looking like someone who's inexplicably found themselves inside the lion's den.’

‘I want to tell her I love her. I want to thank her for trusting me with her body and her heart. I try to tell her all of that with my kiss as I draw her down to the bed.’

‘"Don't you dare think of stopping," comes her husky reply, and I almost chuckle at her eagerness. But I'm not that stupid.’

‘Before I can reconsider, her panties are gone, and Bella is naked.
On my bed. Waiting. For me.
Oh, God.

‘My God, the heat coming off her is blistering. I'm almost certain my fingers will have burn marks on them if I'm ever stupid enough to pull my hand away.’

‘With my free hand I part her outer folds. The sight that greets me ignites a fire in my belly that scorches a path through every limb, until I'm nothing but ash.’

‘Her arousal is like a flaming dessert at a five-start restaurant—dangerous and seductive. She tastes sweet and spicy, like I'd imagined…
It's not just the best thing I've ever tasted. I am certain—without a doubt—it is the best thing anyone has ever tasted.’

And thank goodness your Edward takes care of his own arousal after Bella falls asleep.

Lovely finish: "I love you, Bella," I whisper to my darling girl. "I love you more than you will ever know. I promise you'll hear me say it when you wake."
Renee Aubin chapter 10 . 2/18
Hmm, so no action in the dark theater, but only because Edward is fighting such a powerful urge to do more than explore the first three bases. Afterwards, ‘I need Bella's reassuring touch to remind myself that I am not, in fact, a debased, licentious degenerate.’ Poor guy.

I really like their conversation as they walk by the river, cleaning up the debris that litters their short time together.

"I'm sorry you were upset by my following you."
"That's not the same as being sorry for following me."
"No, it's not."

Bravo Bella, taking the risk to say this: "Who could possibly resist a beautiful mystery like you?"

And finally, he’s perfectly direct: ‘"Do you forgive me, Bella? For your window, for following you, for . . . losing control. Please say you do." I can't have this between us.’

Love her answer: "Will you promise to stop trying to run away from me?" Which, amusingly, seems like a non sequitur to him.
And better yet: “Stop trying to decide what's best for me. I know what I want. Do you?" Halleluia!

Lovely phrase: ‘…the woman who has forgiven me, the woman who wants me—flawed as I am.’

Aww: ‘I picture her under these trees in the sunlight, and it's the most beautiful thing I can imagine. It pains me to think it's something I won't ever get to see.’ I never thought about this consequence of his limitation.

Nicely said, Edward musing about his life a year ago: ‘…I struggle to understand how he ever resembled the person I am in this moment.’ A striking change for him.

Excellent imagining of how E&B missed being in Forks at the same time. And his reaction: ‘She would have been there—in Forks—with me. Three years. I could have had three more years with her.’

Wow this Edward is remarkably revealing of himself: "It scares me to think how much chance had to do with bringing us together. …What if we'd never met?" I feel my voice rising in panic, and my stomach tightens sickeningly. "I don't think you understand what my life was like before you came into it—how empty it was."

What a lovely little moment: ‘She continues stroking my hair, sending calming waves throughout my frame. I could sit here forever, if she would let me.’

Terrific synthesis of how this relationship works for Bella. Reminds me of M. Rosenberg’s speech at the end of Eclipse, only this time thankfully it IS all about Edward:
"But when I met you, I had this feeling of finally being right in the world. I mean, yes, there have been some shocks, but even with everything we're both trying to adjust to"—she gazes down at me, a wry smile playing on her lips—"I still feel more at home with you, here in my lap, than I ever have—anywhere.”

I didn’t know whether to smile or groan when he backs away from saying the L-word! But yes, sigh, it’s just not like Edward to act impulsively.

Good for him: "Since you clearly don't understand, let me enlighten you about exactly what I see in you."

‘I wasn't planning on spilling my guts that way—telling him he felt like "home", basically saying I believe meeting him was fate.
What a crazy fucking thing to say on a first date.
But for some reason, this doesn't feel like a first date. This feels like finally being right after a lifetime of being wrong. This feels like everything I never knew I wanted.’

Good for her:
‘Edward's silence is unnerving, and I frantically scan our last conversation for clues.
Then it hits me. Edward is quiet. And pensive. Of course.
"What is it?" I ask. …
"I'm sorry?"
"You should just come out with it, now—whatever you're not saying that has you all twisted up in knots. You know you're going to tell me eventually.”’

Touching, when she sees his apartment: ‘All the times he tried to tell me what his life was like before, how lonely he was. I see it here, in this sterile space—this room that could never be called a home. I see someone who doesn't care. Someone who has given up.’

Very good: ‘The juxtaposition of these two men—the one who created this space and the one in front of me—tell me it's true. He's different. I've changed him.’

I really appreciate this: ‘"Can you explain what you were thinking before you initiated that pleasant little surprise?" He's trying so hard to make me feel better about basically attacking him…’
Canon Edward so rarely seemed to think about how his words or actions affected Bella’s feelings.

Clever: ‘Edward just trashed his place for me.’ It’s charming to see him act so spontaneously!
Renee Aubin chapter 9 . 2/9
Funny moments with Alice coming unglued with happiness over E&B’s progress. It’s not that much of a stretch to imagine canon Alice getting too excited to be tolerable.

Nicely done:
‘“Bella's meant for you, Edward. I can see it—she's your future."
Then my future walks into the room, and I can't see anything but her.’

Boy, he sure could have introduced this problem more gently: "I'm sorry, Bella. I know it can feel like an intrusion at times, but there isn't much privacy in my family. …It's something you'll have to get used to."

And then he makes it worse by trying to backpedal, saying “we can just focus on taking things one day at a time." If the timing had been better they could have talked it out, but Angela and Spencer are waiting.

A nice idea that Edward learns a lot by overhearing Bella and Angela’s conversation on the way to the movie. ‘But as I listen to the pair locked together intimately, I realize they sound nothing like their peers. This conversation isn't sharp and brassy; this conversation is a strange, delicate, half-formed thing, like wisps of colorful tissue paper floating through the air.’

Aww: ‘I couldn't believe it, couldn't fathom I would mean so much to her.’

Very girlfriend-y – Angela knows E&B haven’t had sex yet because “anyone who blushes around a guy that much obviously hasn't seen his bits and pieces." I like seeing Bella in this relationship – canon Bella was so tenuously connected to her peers. Aside from Charlie she was almost adrift except for Jacob and the Cullens.

Hopefully Edward will learn something important from overhearing this part: "But then he says something that makes me think he's doesn't feel the same way, that I'm not as important to him. He keeps trying to pull away, and it hurts so much." Like “one day at a time”, for instance?

‘I can't even process all that I've heard. It'll take me days to unpack the feelings she voiced, and I wish with everything in me that she felt she could express them to me.’ Sounds like he needs someone to talk about it with, too.

A sweet follow-up to Bella and Angela’s conversation about how Edward “blew the doors off the plane” she’d been stuck on, allowing the stale air to escape.
‘Bella smiles as she crosses to me, placing a small kiss on my lips and beaming up at me.
"What was that for?" I ask.
"Just enjoying the fresh air."’

Very vampire: ‘Then he pulls me in and bends down, brushing his nose along my neck while inhaling deep and long—like I'm the only air he wants to breathe—and I know he feels it too.’

Fun conversation about both of Edward’s mothers and their feminist credentials. "The terms 'gentleman' and 'feminist' are not mutually exclusive, love." If only more (male) people understood that!

I enjoy your Bella’s curiosity about Edward’s lifetime. ‘My focus on the outside world fades as I think about everything Edward's revealed in the past minute. I picked at one little snag in the fabric of his history, and instead of a single strand, he revealed a million linked threads, all begging to be loosed.’ I always thought, for as smart as she was supposed to be, canon Bella was appallingly incurious about everything the Cullens had seen in their long lifetimes.

Smile: ‘It's amazing how his touch affects me, like a snake charmer drawing a tightly-coiled serpent up into a languorously swaying dance. I feel like rubbing myself against him and purring.’

Looking forward to the next chapter. There promises to be some yummy interaction in this dark theater. With Bella wearing a skirt. Hmm.
Renee Aubin chapter 8 . 2/3
I have to say good for her: ‘I want to punish him, make him feel this rage coursing through my veins. I want him to understand the pain of learning he was always within reach—even in those moments I vowed to stop looking, even as hope drained out of me…’
But then ‘While my ire dissipates—swirling into the air like harmless fumes…’ A bad precedent?

I have to admit I was confused for a while by Bella’s thoughts, in the middle of starting “break-up sex” in the kitchen, returning to “the last time this happened”. Her musings end with ‘Edward's face as his hand closed around the handle of my door, the silent goodbye in his eyes that threatened to break my heart.’ I had to reread the last chapter a couple times to realize she’s reacting to the fear of believing he was going to leave earlier, even though in the event he didn’t go. It made sense, though, that she’d want to avoid doing anything to trigger that kind of drama again.

Nice job with the Icarus analogy, btw, especially ‘And when I burst at last, melting from my draw to the blazing sun, it took me a moment to realize my wings were mangled and my body was smashing to the ground.’ She is very clear how much power he has over her.

This does get nervewracking: ‘I shift, trying to pull away, trying to give voice to these fears, but his grip only grows tighter, his kiss more insistent. … I feel fear creep up my spine and skitter into the spidery network of my nerves. He could do anything to me, and I would be powerless.’
Oh, good tactic, just going still. That both gets his attention AND doesn’t do anything to throw gas on the fire, as escalating her struggle might well do.

Good girl: “Don't you dare think of leaving."

I think it’s a huge improvement on canon that Bella actually tries to help with his struggle not to hurt her. ‘But it's not just his job to keep me safe.’ That’s right. It drove me crazy that SM thought Bella endlessly repeating “you won’t hurt me” was in any way helpful or romantic or responsible.

Well imagined and well said: ‘I see the doubt in his eyes, the desire to escape—to protect me—and I wonder if we're destined to play this scene out over and over again. Will he always have one eye on the exit?’

"I've never done this before."
This I understand. Doubt. Fear of inadequacy. I feel the connection of that trepidation, and I hope it's enough to pull him to me again.
"Me neither. Can't we learn together?"

Wonderful that she sees it this way: "I know I'm making this hard for you because I'm human. If I were like the others, if I weren't so fragile—"

Terrific that this opens the way to his confession “There are no others. I've never done this before—with anyone." I loved her stunned non-response as she struggles to understand and believe what he’s telling her. Very well done.

I smiled that after they retreat to her bedroom, ‘I need something to distract myself from his touch or we'll be right back were we started—me a hot, steamy mess and him heading for the door.’

I smiled even more at
‘"I don't . . . sleep."
I really need to start preparing myself for these little revelations.’
Good luck with that.

And when she starts babbling about what she could accomplish with all that non-sleeping time,
"I may not sleep, but you obviously need to."
He's laughing at me behind that smooth voice…’

Very good: ‘There are some things that shouldn't be asked of a virginal vegetarian vampire. To be here in Bella Swan's room as she sleeps is chief among them.’

Your description of breakfast the next morning with Angela and Spencer was certainly amusing. Easy to imagine anyone from the cast of Friends in that scenario, but it’s a new one for Edward! Could have done without the second flashback in the same chapter, though.

Fun conversation when Bella wakes up. Good line: ‘"I'm not sure I could take any more of your dreams, love," he chuckles.’ And then his revelation that she not only talks in her sleep, but also “wiggles”.

Oh my, canon Edward would never have flirted like this: "Most of what you said was indecipherable, but I did catch two distinct words: 'Edward' and 'hands.' …Do you mind telling me what it is my hands were doing?" Yummy.

Yup, entirely believable: ‘I thought I could be strong. I thought I would have the power to tell him, "No, we need to think about what we're doing," but my resolve is a useless thing against his touch. I just want more.’

When Angela wants to compare notes in the morning, Bella opens the door ‘and look behind me to find Edward looking like sex and ice cream sitting on the windowsill. He grins widely, no embarrassment marring the perfect ease of his expression.’ I can’t decide whether I like “sex and ice cream” or “the perfect ease of his expression” better!

Fun summary: ‘I mean, he's a vampire with a serious martyr complex, and he thinks I'd be a super-tasty snack. He doesn't eat food, and he doesn't sleep—ever! He has a psychic sister, and I can't seem to keep my freaking hands off of him even though physical contact poses a serious threat to my future ability to be alive. And now the fact that he can't go out into the sun complicates things?
I'm such a dope.’
Renee Aubin chapter 7 . 1/26
I loved how Bella makes tea to soothe her nerves because ‘There's a vampire in my apartment.’ We never got a moment like this in canon because Bella was too young to have her own place.

Vivid description of Edward coping with the concentrated scent in Bella’s apartment, in part by stopping dead at the threshhold. Sniffle: ‘whispers of suffering haunt his eyes.’

Poignant, after Edward offers to go if he’s scared her: ‘I wish he'd stop trying to leave me.’

Good one: ‘He's so out of place here—a shiny new Porsche parked in a broken-down used car lot.’

A particularly good formulation of this thought: "I just don't know how to read you. I tell you I only drink blood, and you smile—it's completely ridiculous. You never react how I think you will."

Well-imagined conversation about her scent.

Very good: ‘I know he's talking about my blood. I know I should be horrified—scared beyond thinking—but the desire in his voice is intoxicating. It may be desire for my blood he's describing, but my body doesn't care.’

When she asks how she’s still alive, he answers:
"I remembered who I was. Who I want to be." Carlisle would be so proud.

Throughout their conversation she thinks ‘Don't let this be a joke.’ Makes perfect sense that she’s thinking ‘How can anyone so beautiful, so god-like, say these things about me? ‘

Great insight into Bella: ‘Stop! Please, stop, I silently plead. Don't say anything else. You could break me so easily.’

He says this about what he saw through her window: “In all of my many years on earth, it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen."
And then you give us a whole paragraph of the most wonderful description of her reaction:
‘My mind is a wasteland, an empty barren desert. A blinding mushroom cloud has wiped the space clean—thoughts, feelings, basic functions . . . all razed and turned to ash from nuclear fallout. The shell of me, the Bella-shaped thing sitting here, taking up space, leans in slowly to the angel in front of it. It doesn't think, it just moves. It presses lips to exquisite lips, and all is right with the world.’

Edward admits that ‘I have time enough to stop it, time enough to be out the door and down the street before she knows I'm gone.’ Better yet, he's honest with himself that he wants to let her kiss him.

More favorite lines:

‘It's a Herculean task, increasing the space between us by millimeters…’

[after the kiss] ‘Like the slow arc of a sunflower turning toward the light, her eyes open, lost and faraway.’

‘I want to find the person responsible for tearing this girl down—for teaching her this blasphemy—and I want to rip out their spine.’

‘This time, I let my desire flow from me, sharing the flame she has ignited, stoking it with long-dormant passions of my own.’

It’s riveting to hear the flow and buildup of Edward’s thoughts before he suddenly, mercifully manages:
I fly across the room, crashing into plaster, white dust floating around me.’
Entirely believable: ‘There are no words for the horror I feel.’

Terrific, his response to Bella’s “tell me what I did wrong”:
‘I am tumbling down a rabbit-hole of despair because these words—these words—are base profanity, a black, stinking lie; and they cannot go uncorrected. Just like that, I'm turning, my resolve as fragile as a butterfly's gossamer wings. I should have known I wouldn't leave.’

Oh my gosh I didn’t expect this:
‘"I can't be trusted with you. You don't know what I almost did. How close I came—" Her hand reaches out to stroke my cheek—maiden comforting the dragon—and I break.
I bury my face in her lap and sob…’
But it makes perfect sense.

‘We make our way into the kitchen, fingers still entwined. That simple act, that casual intimacy, fills me with more hope than I've felt in a hundred years. I feel like I could burst into a thousand points of shimmering light.’
I’ve never thought of that – this story, these many stories, illuminate so many simple moments between two people, because these two people are so extraordinary.

Smart of Bella to realize this: ‘There's no way it can possibly end well. He will destroy me—one way or another.’

Fun conversation about the Cullens, with the extra insight of the thoughts Bella doesn’t speak aloud. Leading to the much more serious topic of how he acclimated himself to her over the next weeks.

"When did you follow me?" …
"All the time."

More crackling, insightful prose:
‘As I spin and face his chest, glaring up into startled eyes, I'm not looking at a fierce vampire, but staring down the boy who has dared wrong me. I am The Furies come to rip and shred and tear.’
Wonderful that her venomous speech reveals the truth that he needs to hear, that all week she has been looking frantically for HIM.

Terrific finish:
‘I think of resisting him.
Oh, who am I kidding? I don't even spare it a thought.’

Of course you’re not the first one to reimagine moments like the ones in this chapter, but what a satisfying combination of a heartfelt, fresh imagining of what these moments would be like for these characters, combined with a gift for words and images!
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