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8

I came to oddly aware that my limbs were tangled between shapely thighs and my right arm was numb from being stiff for too long. Beside me was my newly wedded wife who slept with her lips slightly parted and a fist tucked under her chin as she used my arm for a pillow. During our slumber we gravitated toward each other despite having been on separate sides the night before.

Sunlight streamed through the glass windows casting a soft glow upon her youthful skin. I reached out to caress her face but when my fingers were just hovering over her cheek. She stirred in my arms and I promptly pulled my hand away.

Warm, brown eyes fluttered open to meet my gaze and I suddenly recalled that I almost took the woman I loved against her will last night in a haze of passion. At that reminder, I quickly sat in bed.

"Edward, is everything alright?" She asked softly sitting up as well.

"Aye, we should dress for the day." I replied and crossed the room to our wardrobe.

I picked through my clothing as Bella sat silently on our bed without any intentions of moving. I decided this was a good time to remind her of some important things while I dressed.

"Ye should probably stay inside and avoid strenuous activities today," I began.

"Why?" Bella asked.

"Most women tend to feel aches in their body after their first coupling. If any woman should happen to ask ye if yer sore, the correct answer is 'aye'. No one can find out that yer still an innocent, Bella. So, keep in mind that yer my wife in every way which makes ye the Lady of this keep. Yer word is also law except-"

"Except when it conflicts with your laws," Bella interrupted throwing the words over her shoulder. "I know what's expected of me, Edward."

I nodded pulling on a thick tunic, "Ye should see mother after yer bath."

I cracked the bedroom door open and told the guard standing there to tell the kitchen to bring up a hot bath. Bella looked confused when I closed the door.

"The hot bath should help ye with yer 'soreness'." I explained tucking daggers into my belt.

"What about mother?" Bella questioned.

"She would like to hand over some housekeeping work to ye," I replied. "Before I forget, ye will have a guard with ye at all times. His name is Seth-"

"You cannot be serious, Edward!" Bella protested right away like I thought she would. "You and I both know I am more capable of protecting myself without one of your men trailing me about all day like a well trained pup."

"He's there to protect ye and keep ye from harm when I'm not around, lass."

"Aye, and he's also there to report everything to you. Am I your wife or an object you must keep under your thumb?" Bella demanded heatedly.

"Are ye my wife?" I asked calmly.

"Aye, but-"

"Then, ye will do as I ask. That is also yer duty," I reminded harsher than I intended. "It will also give me peace of mind, lass." Her shoulders dropped in defeat.

A knock sounded at the door.

"That's yer bath," I told her.

I hovered halfway between the bed and the door knowing that I should probably go now, but I couldn't leave her just like that without some indication that I cared for her. So, I took a few quick strides toward her and leaned down placing our faces inches apart. Bella didn't move or flinch away from me giving me hope that whatever happened last night wasn't an indication that she might be running scared.

With that knowledge, I planted a kiss on her forehead and told her I'd see her at supper. I passed the giggling maids at the door as they filed into the room to help Bella with her bath. Seth was nowhere in sight and I was just about to hang his hide when he came bounding up to me from the stairs.

"Yer late," I reprimanded.

"Sorry, sir." Seth bowed in apology.

"Keep James away from her," I ordered.

"Aye, sir."

"Watch her but I'd keep my distance if I were ye. I'm not responsible for any bodily harm she inflicts upon ye, boy."

"Naught a problem, sir." The boy smiled and took his place by the door like a proper guard. He didn't look intimidating by any means but the boy was a great fighter.

Walking downstairs, I noticed the bloodstained handkerchief hanging over the banister of the landing above as proof of Bella's innocence. It was tradition to have such things on display no matter how invasive. Though I may not fully agree with tradition, I was glad that it served as a warning to my men that Bella had indeed been claimed by me. She was now fully off limits to them.

Quickly, I ate a bowl of hot oats and milk in the dining hall before joining Emmett and our men on the training field.

During the night, the ground turned into a snow covered canvas. The field and walkways were already cleared and Emmett took our men through their strength exercises. As I got closer, I noticed Jasper stood by Emmett's side appraising our soldiers with critical eyes. He often turned to Emmett to exchange a few words probably pointing out men who needed to hone their skills.

Jasper was a strong ally to our North who commanded a lethal army of his own with a smaller number of men. His war strategies have made him a man to be feared but he's not all brute strength. I've seen my baby sister bring him to his knees in mere seconds, especially now that she was carrying his heir. I met them on the field with that thought on my mind and I just so happened to be smiling.

"Ho, ho! He awakens!" Emmett grinned suggestively and raised an eyebrow. "Good night?"

I grunt an affirmative better not to speak and give myself away.

"How was it, brother?" Emmett pressed and I frowned.

"Mind yer own business, man," Jasper shook his head.

"It's just a question," Emmett protested looking expectantly at me.

"Are we gonna stand here all day like gossiping maids or are we gonna train like men?" I asked calling my men to halt their exercise.

I was ready to get to work off some of my frustrations. We trained through the morning, and I joined my men on the field as they sparred with one another choosing to take on both my brothers for fun. Their fighting styles were like day and night. Jasper was patiently waiting for me to make a wrong move before he advanced, but Emmett had always been brute force and strength. Blow after blow, he was relentless as he forced me toward the edge of the field. In training, stepping off of the field was equal to surrendering and in real life, death.

"Did last night turn ye soft, brother?" Emmett shouted over the clanging of our weapons.

I blocked Emmett's spear with my sword. "It is ye who have turned soft, brother. After the birth of yer heir, all ye do is follow yer wife's skirts." I baited and briefly heard Jasper chuckle from behind us.

Emmett growled and shoved me backwards disconnecting our weapons. I side-stepped to avoid the edge of the training ground and barely dodged the sharp point of his spear. Emmett doubled his efforts and the clanging of our weapons was the only noise heard on the field. Our men have stopped training to watch us spar instead.

I knew Emmett would never intentionally kill me but at the moment I wasn't so sure. It was always wise not to taunt Emmett.

Deflecting Emmett's blows wasn't an easy task, but brute strength and force made him slow. I, however, was much faster. Seeing my window, I thrust the butt of my sword into his stomach and turned around to hit him on the back. Emmett briefly lost his breath but was quick to recover.

"Ye would be severely injured, brother! Ye lost!" I shouted as he came back with vengeance.

I thought I heard a commotion to the side but I couldn't be sure because Emmett was heading straight for me with a murderous look.

"I never give up," Emmett swung his spear high above his head and I ready myself to deflect but suddenly a flying knife found itself embedded in Emmett's wrist.

"YAHHH!" Emmett shouted in pain and dropped his weapon. I looked around for the perpetrator who now had a sword to Emmett's throat.

"Bella?" I asked confused.

I saw Seth standing by guiltily with his sword sheath empty.

"Why are you trying to kill my husband, your brother?" Bella demanded ignoring everyone else around her.

"Remove yer sword at once, sister!" Emmett bellowed yanking the knife out of his wrist.

"Answer me!"

"I wasna trying to kill my own brother! We were just sparring!" Emmett spat angrily.

I yanked Bella back and firmly took the sword from her hand. She only relented because she was confused by the situation. I thrust the weapon back to Seth who sheathed it without looking at me.

"But if you were sparring…You looked like you were going to kill him!" Bella exclaimed.

Jasper was helping Emmett tie a piece of cloth over the wound to help stop the bleeding until we could get him to my mother. It wasn't a major wound but it was a wound nonetheless caused by my newly wedded wife.

"Get him to mother," I told Jasper. Then, I grabbed Bella by her hand and dragged her behind me all the way into the castle.

"Edward, wait! Slow down!"

I shortened my strides so she didn't stumble but continued to pull her along pass startled maids who recognized my anger. They scattered out of the way. I thrust Bella into our bedchamber and slammed the door close.

"Edward, I'm sorry! I thought-"

"Enough!" I bellowed. "I told ye to stay inside and mind household matters. What were ye doing outside on the training field?"

"I was on my way to the garden when I saw your brawl. Emmett looked like he was going to kill you! I thought I was protecting you."

"I don't need yer protection, Wife. I protect ye! That is my job! Not only did ye make me look like a fool in front of my men as a leader, incapable of defending myself but ye also injured my flesh and blood. Ye are rash, lass!" I paused for breath trying to reign in my anger.

Any women who had been subjected to my temper have bawled their eyes out but not Bella. She was as stubborn as a mule and just like a wild horse, she refused to be tamed.

"From now on I forbid ye to pick up another weapon," I ordered it of her.

"You can't forbid me-"

"I can and I am as yer laird and husband." I interrupted her to punctuate my words clearly. Then, I pinned her against the door and lifted her skirts. She shoved against my chest but that only caused me to pin her harder until I found what I was looking for. There was no fear in her eyes, just pure anger and I prefer that to the scared kitten she became last night because of imaginary monsters.

I lifted the thin knives I found tucked in her stockings. "No more weapons."

"I will not be controlled, Edward. It's not too late to annul our marriage."

"Don't threaten me, Isabella, and I never want to hear those words out of yer mouth again. Yer mine." I growled the words and captured her mouth in a punishing way to drive my words home. Just as she started to respond, I pushed away before I forgot why I was angry at her.

"Ye are not allowed to leave this bedchamber without my permission." I told her before marching out of the room.

"Edward! Edward, wait!" Bella called behind the already closed door.

I locked it from the outside and handed a solemn looking Seth the key. "This door doesna open without my permission or if ye believe the lady is dying. Understood?"

"Aye, sir."

I locked Bella inside our bedchamber with a heavy heart and walked around for the rest of the day wanting nothing more than to release her but my ego wouldn't let me do it. I just wished she didn't have to fight with me on everything at every turn.

At supper, I was in the middle of ordering a maid to send a tray up to Bella when my mother appeared with my disobedient wife in tow.

"What is going on, mother?" I asked in a low voice to avoid making a scene while glaring at Bella.

"I brought Bella down to 'ave supper. Yer still in yer honeymoon period and I willna 'ave ye shutting yer wife up over a mistake. I, too, have often mistaken yer brawls with Emmett for a fight to the death." My mother was obviously defending her new daughter-in-law and it gave me an excuse to release Bella from her punishment but I didn't want to appear too soft.

"But ye don't injure yer sons in the process," I pointed out.

"I wanted to if it would only keep the both of ye from fighting. Now, Bella has already apologized and I see no reason why she canna join us for supper."

I said nothing, so, my mother took that as an agreement. She walked Bella right past me and sat her down on my bench at the head of the table with an encouraging smile and a comforting pat. Bella peaked up at Emmett and when he gave her a toothy grin, it managed to put a tight smile on her face until she saw me looking. She immediately dropped her smile and her gaze.

Supper was being served and I had no other choice than to take my place next to Isabella. Like a proper wife, Bella prepared my plate silently and carefully placed it in front of me before making her own plate. It was a tense and silent dinner mostly filled with Alice and Rose's inane chatter. They both tried to pull Bella into the conversation but couldn't get more than a few words out of her and I knew I was the reason.

At some point in the meal Bella stopped eating and rested her hand on my leg. I moved away causing her hand to slip off and told the table that I had my fill and wished to retire for the night. Then, I left her there with my family.

I was already in bed convincing myself that I should just let today's accident go and make up with Bella already when she slipped into the room. I could hear her moving about as she got ready for bed. At any moment, I could turn around and make this whole miserable day go away but something kept me rigid on my side with my back turned to her. Maybe it was that fact that she was capable of hurting someone I loved or maybe I was still angry about the fact that she bruised my ego by thinking she was protecting me in front of all my men.

When Bella slipped into bed, I expected her to quietly go to sleep not wrap a slender arm around my waist and hug me from behind. She was warm and it felt good to have her initiate something intimate after our disastrous wedding night.

"Edward, I'm sorry about today. You were right, I acted rashly and I hurt Emmett in the process. I'm sorry. Please don't be angry at me. I could stand it if everyone in the world was made at me, but I can't stand your anger." She pressed a chaste kiss to my bare back and started to pull away. I held onto her arm keeping it around my waist. That was all it took for her to snuggle into my back and fall asleep.


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