I awoke to the sound of rain whispering on the roof and sighed contentedly. The first day of summer vacation was starting perfectly, if you didn't count the broken leg. Charlie would be at work already, so I'd be able to spend the entire day unsupervised. Only one thing was missing, or rather, one person. I sat up and looked about my room expectantly. Normally he was here when I woke up. "Edward?"
I heard his velvet voice calling from the downstairs. "I'll be up in a moment."
That was strange. I guessed I was on my own for my "human minute" this morning. I hobbled awkwardly to the bathroom, wondering what my boyfriend, for want of a better term, was up to. I hoped it wasn't something too extravagant. So far, I'd refused cars, jewelery, clothes — the last two unsuccessfully at prom. But I could never refuse flowers, and he knew it.
I thought about braving the stairs on my own, and instantly thought better of it. Sometimes imagination was a better forewarning than Alice's visions. Feeling like a sorry excuse for a peg-legged pirate, I clumped my way to the bed and laid back down.
A heartbeat later, my bedroom door opened to reveal the most glorious creature in existence — Edward. In the tuxedo he wore at prom. It wasn't fair that he could make my pulse react by simply walking into a room. In his hands was a ornate silver tray holding a plate of pancakes, a goblet of orange juice, a crystal bowl of grapes, and a single red rose in an elegant, silver vase. His eyes were amused, and I scowled. "What's all this?"
His lips twisted in a condescending smile. "Breakfast."
"I meant all the silver." Even the maple syrup was in a shiny little creamer, and I was sure it wasn't just stainless steel. My eyes drifted over his stunning body, made all the more breathtaking by the tux. "And the formal-wear."
"Esme loaned me her silver set."
He gave me a insulted look. "Do you honestly think she would entertain on anything less?"
I wasn't buying it. "Because you have humans over for dinner all the time."
Glowering, he said, "That's not funny, Bella."
He carefully laid a white linen napkin on the faded quilt just above my knee. "Now stop being difficult and allow me to serve you breakfast in bed. Why do you always put up such a fuss when I want to do something nice for you?"
"Since taking me to prom," I groused, "going out to eat every weekend, and bringing me to a live performance of Midsummer Night's Dream wasn't..."
In a blink, Edward was sitting next to me on the bed, his angel face in front of mine, his eyes smoldering under lowered lashes. My thoughts scattered like leaves. His lips quirked up in my favorite crooked smile. "Don't make me dazzle you, Bella."
Breathe! With difficulty, I tried to think. "If this is the punishment, I'll try to misbehave more often."
He chuckled, then kissed the tip of my nose. "My dear danger magnet, you don't have to try." Leaning back, he set the tray on my lap. "Now eat. Your breakfast is getting cold."
"Don't try to distract me," I answered severely, wagging the butter knife at him. He raised his hands in mock alarm, almost making me crack a smile. This was a losing battle. "I was trying to be grouchy. Why do you have to one-up me all the time?" I started to spread the butter over my pancakes. Butter, of course, not margarine.
He raised an eyebrow in surprise. "One-up you?"
The maple syrup was warm, of course. I poured it with annoyance. "When I brought my mom breakfast in bed on Mother's Day, it was on a cookie sheet covered with a kitchen towel. And I usually dropped it." Taking a bite, I rolled my eyes in disgust. "Fresh blueberries?" His eyes tightened in worry, no doubt afraid he'd botched the recipe, and my irritation melted. "I take it this is from scratch?" I asked a little less gruffly.
"Of course," he answered with a beautiful, lop-sided smile of relief.
His smile grew.
It was aggravating to no end that he was better than me at everything, but he made up for it a little by being insecure about his sumptuous cooking. That was the only thing he was insecure about.
I picked up the orange juice. "The goblet is over the top." Add filthy rich and lavish gifts to the "aggravating" list.
He chuckled. "Then I've accomplished my desire."
"Which was?" I mumbled through my bite of pancake.
"To make today memorable."
My resistance melted. How did he always do that? Even trying, I couldn't stay irritated with him. "Why today?"
His marble hand smoothed my wild, morning hair. "Because today begins our summer romance."
I sighed. I didn't want a summer romance — I wanted a forever romance!
Edward noticed my disappointment. "I know, a dozen red roses would have been better, but the tray couldn't hold..."
"I'll take a summer romance," I cut him off, "if that's all I can get."
The affection in his eyes was tinged with sadness. "I'm not going anywhere, Bella." Then he brightened. "If you want, I'll be your senior-year romance too."
That still wasn't enough, but at least he wasn't disappearing in a puff of smoke. Not yet, anyway. "Deal," I answered, shifting uncomfortably. The headboard was too flimsy to lean against. Edward realized why I was hunching my back and was instantly sitting on the bed behind me, making my heart skip. His legs were on either side of me and I contentedly cuddled up against his granite chest.
"Better?" he asked.
"Much." I preferred it when I could feel his cold, hard, real skin against mine. I took another bite of pancake. "So...dare I ask what we're doing on the first day of our summer romance?"
He reached for the rose and idly caressed the inside of my elbow with its petals. "Whatever you wish."
"You're no help," I pouted, trying to think past the chills running up my arm and shoulder. "At least give me some options."
The rosebud traveled up my arm and whispered across my collarbone. "Alice said I should bring you both bikini shopping," he said, the flower trailing up the side of my neck, "which I personally would enjoy for purely selfish reasons."
"I don't have a swimsuit," I conceded. There was no way I would let Edward see me model one, and I wasn't letting Alice buy one for me either. "But you'll have to bite me to get me into a bikini."
He chuckled darkly. "You know how to tempt a man, Isabella Swan." The flower brushed over my cheek, then slid down and across my lips. The mingled scent of the rose and his skin was enough to make me light-headed. "However, I think you'd best plan on a one-piece this year."
The rose drifted along my jaw as he continued, "Esme also requested that I bring you over to our house soon so she can paint your portrait. She wants to add yours to the rest of the family's."
It took a moment for his words to catch up with my hopelessly wandering mind. "Really?"
I could hear the smile in his voice. "Yes." The cool, soft petals floated down the front of my throat, making my breath catch, then trailed along my collarbone again. "Carlisle liked the idea too because he wants to take a look at your leg and make sure it's healing properly. He suspects the cast will need to stay on a bit longer than the doctors in Phoenix planned."
His icy touch sent a wave of chills down my back as he brushed my hair off my neck. "But Jasper doesn't think that's exciting enough for the first day of summer break." The rose wandered over my now-exposed, tingling skin. "He wants to go drag racing."
That brought me back down to earth. With a thud. "No."
Edward's chuckle rumbled against me. "Emmett didn't think you'd go for that either, so he suggested mountain climbing."
I shifted my bum leg. "He would."
"We wouldn't make you walk," Edward answered with indignation.
I knew what that meant — another thousand-mile-an-hour piggy-back ride. Better distract him from that. "What about you? What do you want to do today?"
Setting the rose on the tray, he pressed his lips to the hollow behind my ear. My heart jumped and stuttered, and I leaned my head back against his shoulder with a whimper of pleasure. His voice was soft. "I want to make you blush at least three times." He trailed kisses down the side of my neck. "I want to interrupt your heart-rate on at least two separate occasions..."
"You've done that a couple of times already," I murmured.
I could hear the smile in his voice. "Two times after breakfast, then. I want to bask in the warmth of your touch and your smile, and I want to hum you to sleep in my arms tonight." His cold hands slid from my shoulders down my arms, sending a thrill all the way to my toes. "If I can accomplish that, then I'll call it a day well-spent."
My head fell forward and I closed my eyes, concentrating on inhaling and exhaling.
"Well," he demanded, his marble lips on the nape of my neck. "What's it going to be?"
"I'll have to get back to you," I answered breathlessly. "When I can think again."
His cool breath puffed against my skin as he laughed. "If this is the punishment," he quoted, "I'll try to misbehave more often."
I melted against him. "Somehow I doubt this takes a lot of effort."
He cleared his throat, and there was humor in his voice. "Some days are easier than others."
With a start, I realized he was meaning my blood, not kissing me. "I'm sorry."
His voice was light as he nuzzled my hair. "For what?"
"For hurting you," I whispered.
His hand caressed my once-broken ribs. "So am I."
He held me like that, caressing my arms and hands, for an immeasurable moment, until my heart fell back into a more normal rhythm and my breathing slowed.
He was right, this was the perfect way too start summer vacation, and I was suddenly eager to find out what other delights the coming months might hold. "Let's go over to your house," I said, finishing the last swallow of the orange juice. "I can't bear to disappoint Esme."
I sat forward, expecting Edward to stand up and help me hobble to the bathroom mirror so I could tame my hair.
Instead, he pulled me back so that my head was pillowed in the crook of his arm. "You're not finished yet," he said softly and fed me a grape.
I almost choked on it, I was laughing so hard. "You're nuts!"
Tipping me back up to sitting, he was suddenly standing beside me, moving the tray to the floor. Then he scooped me up into his arms and pressed his marble lips to mine, kissing me until I was dizzy. "Yes, I am," he breathed, "madly in love with you."