Chapter 19

Give As Good As You Get

"Edward, I'm home," my voice echoed hollowly down the hall signifying I was alone. While I waited, I wandered around the apartment; I was anxious to make things right with him. When strong arms wrapped around me from behind, I instinctually opened my mouth to scream, but I immediately recognized Edward's touch. I began to scold him for startling me but was diverted by the silent laughter that vibrated through his chest.

"Amore mio, I missed you." His voice dropped lower growing more serious, "please forgive me for earlier?"

"No," I shook my head. "I mean yes, of course, I forgive you. I shouldn't have snapped at you. It's just my wedding gown isn't ready yet, and there's so much more to planning a wedding than I ever realized. If I didn't have Angela's help, I'm afraid I'd go insane!"

"I'll share the load with you, and the dress is going to be finished soon. Esme and the girls will help with the other preparations."

"Thank you, Edward, that's what I needed to hear." I tiptoed to reach around his neck and answer the need to feel him against me. I was pleased to feel his body's reaction. His eyes grew dark with desire as he traced my lips with his thumb.

"I need you." The deep resonance of his voice melted me, and he was fully aware of that fact. I twisted my fingers in his hair and pulled him down to gain better access to his mouth. He gave me my way and rewarded me with a soul-stirring kiss that I held onto until I had to take a breath. Edward lifted me off my feet, and his keen sense of direction came into play as we made our way to the bedroom while his cool icy lips ravished my neck. Our bodies molded together and a shiver of pure delight coursed down my spine. "Do you know how much I love you, Isabella?"

"I think I do, but you're welcome to show me," I taunted. "But only if I get to return the favor by showing you how much I love you." Even the most attractive man in the world needed reassurance sometimes. In record time, I had the button of his jeans open and the zipper down. My mouth watered when he aided in the process by reaching over his head to peel his t-shirt off. I followed suit by tugging my camisole up and over my head. When I opened my eyes I gulped, Edward knelt in front of me; he smiled as he slid my skirt and minuscule panties slowly down. Resting his face against my stomach, he pressed soft wet lips to my heated skin. I grabbed his broad shoulders to keep from crumbling to the floor. Rising to his feet, he led me to bed and proceeded to show and tell me how much he loved me. Not an inch of my body remained untouched by his talented hands and lips.

I lay in Edward's arms utterly content, but the feeling was not destined to last. As if synchronized, both our phones vibrated across the nightstand. I crawled over Edward to reach mine, "It's Alice, I'll call her in a bit; I'm not through with you yet. How about a shower?" I invited.

The bathroom filled with warm steam, as the shower continued to pump sumptuous amounts of heated water over our bodies. I couldn't help the self-satisfied smirk I wore. My imaginative hands and lips were the reason Edward had so recently slid down the tile and lay sprawled inelegantly on the shower floor. I turned off the water, and Edward groaned, "I might need your help." My mouth fell open in awe; he'd never asked me for help before. His brow raised, "what?"

"It might sound strange, but I'm flattered to see you weak and thoroughly satiated."

"Really?" he laughed, "why?"

"I'm sure you've heard the phrase, give as good as you get, he nodded, "I think I just accomplished that goal."

"No doubt about it!" Edward replied enthusiastically. When he'd regained his equilibrium, he wrapped me in a luxuriously thick towel. We held hands and walked to the bedroom to get dressed. The insistent buzz of his cell brought us back to reality. "Must be important," he mumbled before he answered, "Hey, Alice."

Alice's voice carried through the speaker, "Edward, I need to talk to Bella right now, why isn't she answering her phone?" Edward handed the phone to me, unwilling to be harangued by his sister.

"Alice, calm down, I'm here. Is something wrong?" I could hear Jasper's voice in the background, they were arguing.

Alice forcibly calmed herself, "I need to talk to you right now Bella, I'm coming down there, I need you to clear the elevator code. Oh, and keep Edward's phone, I don't want him to talk to Jasper until I have a chance to speak to you."

I hurried to the elevator and punched in the code. As soon as Alice stepped into the apartment, Edward's phone indicated an incoming call from Jasper. Alice grabbed it from my hand and rolled her eyes, "he's trying to warn Edward."

"Warn Edward about what?" I questioned. My head was spinning. One minute, we were enjoying being alone together, and then Alice bursts in and starts making demands. What in the world was going on?

"The guys were there tonight, and now your birthday surprise is ruined." Edward stepped forward, his mouth opened to speak, but Alice butted in. "I hope you're happy Edward; you used your stupid spy skills, don't you trust your girlfriend?" He ignored Alice's scowl.

"Isabella, I was going to tell you," Edward uttered, but once again, his phone interrupted. Alice reluctantly handed it over. Edward answered and stood listening, and then replied, "It's alright Jasper, I can handle it from here. I'll tell her." Turning to his sister he passed on Jasper's message, "he wants you to come home right now." Alice huffed as she turned and headed straight for the elevator. She gave me a wave as the door closed.

"Isabella?" The misery in Edward's eyes kept me from saying anything I would later regret. "It was stupid; I shouldn't have spied. I'm sorry about that, and I'm sorry I ruined your surprise."

He did not attempt to touch me, and it reminded me of when we began seeing each other. We'd come too far. I wasn't going to let anything pull us apart, especially my silly effort to keep him from seeing my wedding dress, or trying to surprise him for his birthday.

"Can we sit down?" I asked. "I want to explain some things." I took his hand and led him to the sofa cuddling into his side until he put his arm around my shoulders. "You were suspicious because you have a built-in lie detector," I laughed. "I should know better than to try to pull anything over on you." I glanced up to see a frown marring his perfect features. "The plan to keep my wedding gown a secret from you and your family until the wedding is not worth all the trouble its caused. You don't know how much I wish we would have just announced our engagement as soon as you got the ring."

"Do you know why the dress is taking so long?" Edward asked worriedly.

"The fabric for the bodice is made overseas. Once Maggie receives the shipment, it will only take a few days to finish the gown. It should be any day now. I was in dire need of a break, and I got a call from a friend of mine who needed help with a seminar he was giving at U of C. It seemed like a good way to leave the wedding planning behind for a few days and do something fun. It has been fun, plus, I've spent time with some old friends. A group of them have formed a dance troupe, and the director asked me if I would perform in their upcoming production. It's on June 20, which happens to be your birthday."

"I'm sorry I spoiled your surprise," his agitation apparent by the way he yanked on his hair.

"Since Alice, Rose, and I are together so much they became suspicious, and I let them in on my idea for your birthday. I thought you might like to see me dance."

I couldn't keep from smiling at Edward's expression. We've been together for months, Isabella, and I didn't know you were a dancer. I feel like a pathetic excuse for a fiance!"

I sputtered at his crazy notion, "you're a fabulous fiance! In the time we've been together there has been so much going on, that dancing just never came up."

"There's something I need to know Isabella." I nodded, and he continued. "Is Jacob Black one of the men you mentioned on our first date, one of the men you went out with that wanted a physical relationship?"


"You weren't attracted to him?" The shiver of revulsion combined with the intense shaking of my head convinced Edward I'd never had any interest in more than friendship from Jake. "I read his mind Isabella, and Jacob Black, definitely, still wants you, and he wants more than friendship. I hope you'll take heed; please tell me you won't allow yourself to be alone with him."

I climbed into Edward's lap and pressed my forehead to his. "I promise, after the performance, I won't be around him anymore." Looking back, I realized I should have relied on my sixth sense. On occasion, Jacob had said and done things that made me feel uncomfortable. "What did you hear, was it bad?"

"Nothing I haven't heard before, but he was thinking about doing those things with my fiance." Edward's chiseled jaw clenched, "lucky for Jacob Black; I'm a civilized vampire. Otherwise, he'd already be in pieces." I pulled back, a little afraid of the anger boiling just below the surface, sensing my fear he regained control. "Isabella, I'm not going to kill him. He cupped my face in his hands, "do you forgive me for ruining your secret?"

"Yes, I forgive you. From here forward, no more secrets, or surprises. With a telepathic fiance, there's no such thing! I won't promise, but I will try to avoid distractions and remember the reason for our wedding. I love you, Edward, forever no matter what!"

"I love you too Isabella, forever no matter what! I'm looking very forward to our wedding, and for the first time in many years, I can't wait for my birthday. I want to thank you mio cara for all the effort you're putting into our future, I've never felt more loved."

We aced the rehearsal and were finally ready for the show. In the past, an upcoming performance had caused me anxiety attacks, but I was looking forward to dancing tonight because Edward would be there. Since our talk, we were careful to keep one another apprised of our daily plans. Thankfully, the mania that I'd almost allowed to spoil my wedding preparations had abated. I put all my to-do lists away and spent time helping Alice and Rose learn the parts they were playing in the production. Everything was ready, and we took turns peaking through the stage curtain to check and see if the family had arrived. We were so excited when they had taken their seats. It was finally time!

Once the music started the need to concentrate on the choreography fell away. The stage lights blocked the audience from view; there were only the familiar faces of my sisters born of affection for one another, and a shared love of dance. Brightly colored skirts swished and swirled; each turn, sway, dip, and twirl dedicated to memory. The music built upon itself until it reached its peak. The dancers joined hands and bowed, having accomplished a display of pure femininity so beautiful as to make one's heart to ache.

As the curtain fell, adrenaline still flowed. Everyone hugged and congratulated each other. Ali, Rose and I were invited to go out with the group, but we explained we were celebrating Edward's birthday.

When we arrived at the venue, there were more people than I had expected. Esme had been responsible for planning the event, and evidently, she had invited Edward's co-workers. When Edward spotted us, he waved us over. He hugged me close and whispered how much he had enjoyed my dancing.

The loud squawk of a microphone broke us apart. On a raised stage stood Carlisle and Esme. Carlisle raised his glass in a toast, "to Edward, happy birthday son." Following the toast, his friends teasingly jeered, "speech, speech!" Edward stepped onstage, and with our fingers intertwined he pulled me along with him.

Edward took the mic and thanked everyone for coming. "This has been a momentous year for me," he rolled his eyes and waited for his brothers and friends to stop their catcalls before he continued. "Momentous, because in the most unlikely way, I met the woman of my dreams. For those of you who haven't met her, I'd like to introduce Isabella Swan. I proposed to Isabella, and she accepted, at the time I didn't have a ring, but now, I do." There were gasps from the crowd, and Esme let out a slight squeal as she joined Alice and Rose as they bounced up and down. Edward went down on one knee, and the room suddenly quietened. "Isabella, you've made me the happiest man on earth by agreeing to be my wife; now, will you take this ring because I can hardly wait to see it on your finger." He held the small black box in the palm of his hand. "Open it," he teased. I lifted the lid and light reflected off the brilliant diamond making it sparkle.

I could feel my eyes fill with tears, and it didn't matter that everyone was watching and waiting for my answer. My voice failed on the first, "yes," I swallowed my tears and tried again."Yes!"

Edward took the ring and slid it on my finger. Cheers rang out. I threw myself into his arms. Before we even finished our kiss, Alice and Rose were jumping up and down around us. Soon Jasper, Em, Esme, and Carlisle joined in congratulating us.

Later that night I sat watching the way the light refracted off my beautiful diamond ring. "I love my ring, Edward; you went way above and beyond to surprise me with it."

Edward smiled broadly. "I was only following your example, Isabella, you taught me to give as good as you get."