DISCLAIMER: The characters do not belong to me…they are all the creation of the wonderful Stephenie Meyer.
I was lying silently beside my Bella, nuzzling her neck with my nose, breathing her into me, with one arm draped casually across her mid-section. We had spent many nights like this over the past few months. It was somehow both new and familiar to me. It was also unequivocally the best part of my entire existence. I listened closely to her breathing and to her heart beating strong in her fragile chest.
"Bella," I whispered against her throat.
"Yes, Edward?" she replied sleepily.
"I love you."
Truer words had never left my lips. I felt her moving and gave her space to get comfortable again. Once she was nestled against my chest with her arm over my waist, she sighed contently.
"What are you thinking, love?" I had barely spoken above a whisper, but she heard me.
"About how much I love you and how I wish every moment with you could be this calm and …" She stopped mid-thought. It was absolutely one of her most annoying tendencies.
She sighed and I felt her body tense up against mine. "I think I should go to sleep now."
I lifted myself onto my elbow and looked at her beautiful face, into her deep, brown eyes. "What's wrong, Bella? Have I done something to upset you?"
"No, Edward. I don't want to say anything to upset you." Her eyes held such sadness and longing as she looked at me. "I'd rather enjoy this relaxing moment with you, quietly."
"Bella, love. Please, tell me what's wrong." I couldn't stand to see my angel in such turmoil.
She sighed again and removed her arm from around my waist. She started twining her fingers together and staring at them intently. I wondered if maybe she'd finally realized what I was and had come to her senses. Maybe that sadness and longing was her wishing she was still clueless about what the monster within me.
She was quite for a few minutes before speaking. "Nothing is wrong. I was just daydreaming about things that I want, but that upset you."
I knew what she was thinking about now. I kissed her forehead then drew her against my chest tighter than before. Part of me was elated that she hadn't changed her mind about being with me, and the other part berated me for being such a selfish creature. It would be better for her to not love me.
"And you would rather not have me ruin your daydream by being upset with you?" I asked.
"No, I would rather you open your mind up about it and make it a reality. But you aren't going to, at least not right now, no matter how many times I ask you. And that saddens me because it feels like you don't understand just how much I love you and need you to be with me."
Her sadness was eating away at me. I felt helpless to ease her pain, knowing I could not do what she was asking of me. For so many reasons, it would be wrong and selfish. But mostly, I could never bring myself to damn her to this life. I didn't want her innocence to be destroyed by making her a blood-thirsty monster. She would regret her choice and hate me for eternity.
"Bella, in your daydream, what were we doing?" I asked her, keeping my tone gentle.
"Not much. Cuddling together like we are now."
I felt her blush against me. "Is that all were doing?"
She shyly looked up at me for the briefest moment then turned back to staring at her hands. "We may have been a little less dressed at the time and I may have been a little less fragile."
"Did your daydream take you past that part? Did it show you what it would be like for you to never sleep, to never be with your father again? How about what it will be like to have to hunt for your food?" I kept my voice as soft as I could, but she had to see the reality of things.
"No," she whispered.
"I didn't think so," I replied, kissing the top of her head.
She suddenly sat up and stared hotly at me, her mood changing from sad to angry. "It wasn't because I couldn't imagine it or because I didn't think to imagine it!" she hissed through clenched teeth. "It's because those things don't matter when I compare them to the value of being with you every single day. They're a small price to pay."
I ran my fingers across her cheek and down to her jaw. "I've upset you after all. I am sorry, Bella."
She blew out a long breath and stared at me. Her eyes gentled and became sad once more. "I don't want to be upset. I want to talk to you rationally and calmly so you can see my side of things. It's just that I've never wanted anything so much in all my life."
"You want to die that badly?" I asked. I was shocked at her admission.
"Don't you see? That's the problem right there. You view it as my death, but I view it as the start of my life … with you. There's no other life I want." She pressed her hand against my cheek and looked intently into my eyes, willing me to see her viewpoint.
"I wish I could find a way to help you understand my view, Bella. I wish I could somehow show you what this existence is like so you could know once and for all what it really is you're asking for."
"And you believe if I saw that, I wouldn't want it." Sometimes, I really wondered if she couldn't read my mind.
"Yes," I said softly.
She snuggled into the circle of my arms once again. "You underestimate me, Edward. That's okay for now. But one day soon, you will have to stop seeing me as a typical human. You will have to see me as I truly am – a woman in love with a man that she refuses to lose to anyone or anything, including mortality. A woman who can willingly, and without regret, give up everything for an eternal future with him."
"Bella …" I whispered.
"Ssh! Let me just enjoy tonight and fall asleep in your arms. Let me just daydream while I can. I am determined that one day soon, sleep will be something I gave up in exchange for a million nights of lying in your arms. Please just sing to me and hold me."
I tightened my hold on her and pulled her even further against me. There were so many things I wanted to say to her, but I couldn't find the words to express them. I gave her what she wanted instead. I sang her lullaby into her ear and listened closely to the rhythm of her heart as she fell into a deep sleep.