I still wasn't used to it. Maybe that was the wrong way to put it, anyhow. It had always been lonely when Edward left to hunt, but now it was painful. A new kind of pain, even scarier than my lingering fear that this time he just wouldn't come back. I could talk myself out of that, mostly. But the rest of it? It was just a feeling. A horrible feeling that something was about to happen, something bad.

The house didn't have much by way of distraction. I could thumb through the magazines Alice left, but that was a bit of a lost cause. She'd picked everything out already, and I just couldn't manage to care about what kind of flowers should sit in the middle of people's dinner tables. And the look on her face when I'd stuck my neck out for Charlie's unadventurous taste in food… That was more than enough wedding planning for me.

Planning for after the wedding was a little more distracting. I couldn't bring myself to think too closely about the change, even if James' bite was nothing more than a foggy memory. I'd broken enough bones to know that there was no sense trying to remember how it felt – your mind shied away from pain.

It seemed like a bad idea to dwell on… other things… that would take place after the wedding. I was fighting a losing battle against my own biology on that score and thinking about it just made it harder to pull myself out of the moment. Edward's self-sacrificing streak was infuriating now. Maybe I'd been in Forks for too long. Special? Waiting for marriage? Like I'd never been in a locker room, like I didn't know there were ways and ways to connect while still saving the main event for a wedding night. But the passion couldn't quite nudge the pain off his face. I couldn't take that last scrap of purity from him, even if he was being ridiculous.

I could almost understand. Marriage. It had always been a big, scary concept for me and now that it was almost upon me it seemed imperative to do everything right. And at least I'd have something to look forward to, after a long day of being stared at and fussed over. If I didn't die on the spot, with everyone whispering nasty rumors, craning their necks to see if I sported a baby bump.

I was still reeling from just that conversation with Renee. I could feel a furious blush, just remembering how she'd breezed right on into a determined lecture about how I'd better not wait until marriage. It was irresponsible, she said, like buying a car without test driving it. Well, it had worked out ok with my truck.

Even with Edward – more a Ferrari than my old beater – I could kind of see her point. It was hard to remember all this when his mouth pressed against me, harder now, more urgently. When he was out of sight, I could remember the objections, all the questions. Was his mouth always filled with venom? How I'd been longing to pry it open, just once, with my tongue. Not to mention that my sleeping mind knew that Edward's mouth ought to be center stage in my sex life. Maybe that just wasn't possible? Perhaps his saliva wasn't the only venom, either. Maybe a condom? I had a sudden, horrible mental image of Mr. Banner's class – acid samples, sizzling plastic.

I thought my face might actually set on fire when Edward chose that exact moment to make one of his soundless entrances. If I hadn't been red to being with I was now, my whole body springing to attention when his cool lips brushed my brow. "Bella, my love, you're blushing," he muttered, sweeping his knuckles down my cheekbone.

Much too mortified to say anything, I stretched up to kiss him instead. I tried to be good, really I did, but it was so hard to keep my lips gentle, my hands still. I clutched him close, and oh, he didn't need his breath dazzle. His lips were wandering now. My jaw, my neck – oh that felt good, maybe just a little better because I could feel him trembling with want, with control. Maybe this time it would snap, maybe I wanted it to, maybe…

A rumble, moving gravel. Charlie, pulling into the driveway. I opened my eyes – when had then fallen closed? Edward's gaze was scorching, his grip on my arms harder than usual as he kissed me once more. "I'll be back," he muttered, vanished out the window.

My hands dropped to my knees. I must look awful, red and panting like I'd run a marathon. Charlie wasn't born yesterday. I'd better calm down, and fast.