The Characters are the property of and strictly from the imagination of Stephenie Meyer.

Thank you to Shabbyapple from for reading and re-reading these chapters, contributing ideas, and making the whole thing better. If anyone needs a great beta...give her a call, she's fabulous.

Chapter 13 - The Calm after the Storm

BPOV

I instinctively stood very still. I couldn't hear Edward breathing, so I knew he was fighting to regain control. I had let myself lose control, and had nearly pushed Edward beyond his limits. Still, I couldn't bring myself to feel afraid. This was my Edward. I couldn't believe he could truly harm me. I focused on slowing my breathing and my calming myself so that my heart would slow.

Slowly, Edward began to release his tight grip on me, allowing me to move a little. I was very careful, how I moved. I turned to look at him. His face was guilt ridden.

"Bella, I'm so sorry. Please forgive me. Did I hurt you?" Edward's voice sounded shaken.

"No, I'm fine. I'm so sorry, Edward. I let myself get a little carried away. Are you ok?"

"Don't apologize. You did nothing wrong. Did I scare you?" he asked hesitantly. I could hear the self-loathing in his tone.

"No, I knew you wouldn't hurt me. My love, we knew that it was possible that this couldn't happen. If we need to wait for a few more days, then we will wait. It's fine. Would it be all right if I kiss you, or should I wait...," I asked?

And Edward stepped slowly toward me, put his arms around me and kissed me gently.

I could tell there was more he wanted to say, but I decided not to push him. Edward turned off the shower, then stepped out and grabbed some thick towels and returned, with one wrapped around his waist. He wrapped one towel around me then used the other to towel-dry my hair, then held my hand and led me out of the shower. "Come, I have another surprise for you."

I paused long enough to grab my brush off of the counter and quickly brushed through my damp hair. Finished with my hair, I laid the brush down and reached for my small pile of clothing on the counter, but Edward stopped me. He picked me up into his arms and carried me back into the bedroom and laid me on the bed.

" Ok, what's the surprise," I asked confused?

"This," and he handed me a little plastic box. I looked at it and began to laugh. It was a temperature control for an electric blanket. "You bought me an electric blanket for one night?"

Edward looked a little sheepish, "I didn't want you to get cold laying next to me. I turned it on just before I got in the shower."

"Thank you Edward. I love it. Really. I love it. Now come and lay next to me. Mmmm, it's nice and warm in here." I pulled the towel off of me and dropped it on the floor next to the bed. Edward's eyes burned as they raked over me. I could feel his slight hesitation, then he dropped his towel and climbed into the bed next to me. His skin still retained some of the borrowed warmth from the shower. I pulled myself toward him, laying my head on his shoulder and began running my hand over his chest.

"So, tell me what happened in the shower. I want to know what you felt so that I can make things easier on you tonight?" I asked a little hesitantly.

" Bella, you shouldn't have to think about what you can and cannot do, after all this is your wedding night," he replied sullenly.

"No, this is our wedding night. This is not my issue, or your issue, this is our issue. This is marriage. You know, husbands and wives sharing their concerns."

"Bella, this is your wedding night, your biggest concern right now should be what side of the bed you sleep on, not how to stay alive while making love to your husband." I heard the familiar sound of Edward's self-loathing returning to his voice.

"Edward, this is the life I've chosen. I thought you were going to try to respect my decisions and not second guess them. This was and is my choice. I wanted to marry you. I want to be here lying naked next to you, the man of my dreams. I want to understand you, to know what I can do to make you happy. Stop spending our time worrying about things that just don't matter. Talk to me Edward, stop trying to protect me and talk to me! I told you before that I was willing to wait until after my change, but you obviously wanted to try this tonight, so we should talk about this. I know you're laying there wrongfully imagining every way in which you have let me down and I don't know how to help make you feel better. I need to know how difficult things got for you when we were in the shower. Should I try to get you out of this self-loathing mood by trying to have my way with you tonight - or - is this just too dangerous? How can I know what to do until I know what happened to you? Either way, I have not been cheated in any way. Today I married my soul-mate, and tomorrow I will begin my eternal life with you, and then we will be able to make love forever. Is there a soul on this planet as lucky as I am tonight?"

I lay there quietly allowing my words to sink in as uncertainty registered in his eyes. I decided to push..

"Edward! What happened? Tell me what you were feeling. Was it my blood? Was it physically too much? Talk to me...," I could feel tears of frustration starting to form, and I blinked them back.

"I don't want to frighten you. I don't want to disappoint you," he quietly said.

"As if that were possible. Edward, please help me understand. Talk to me," I pleaded.

After gathering his thoughts, he finally began: "It was a combination of things. You are exquisitely tempting, my love: The feel of your pulse quickening with my every touch, leading me to places that I knew you wanted me to touch. The sound of your ragged breath and the small noises you made as you became more excited. It was so erotic. And, as always, the smell of your blood, made even more alluring as the heat brought it closer to the surface. I could feel it running through your veins and smell was driving me wild. I wanted so badly to please you. Then when I finally touched you, and you said my name as you climaxed - and the smell of your excitement - my vision swam and my instincts nearly took me over. It was not just my instincts to feel your blood course down my throat, but my human instincts, as well. I wanted to grab you and push myself inside you and feel what we have been denying ourselves for too long. I knew I could hurt you, if I wasn't careful, and I knew that I couldn't be careful just then - my passion was too raw."

"I'm sorry my love. I knew I needed to be cautious, but I got carried away. You were just too sexy for your own good," I said trying to lighten the moment.

He hesitated for a moment then added, "And I just don't like the thought that your last experience went far better than this one."

So this was going to be about Jacob, again? I opened my mouth to shout, when I saw the look in Edward's eyes, and I knew how much he regretted saying that to me, how hard it was to express his insecurity. Again, I deserved this, and I knew it. I had broken his trust, and however long it took him to get past it, I would be patient and understanding. I had asked him to be honest, so whatever questions he had, I would have to try to answer. I was unused to him showing me any insecurity, but I had given him this wound, now I would have to help him heal. I waited for my anger to pass, then:

"Edward, my love, there is no comparison between what happened between Jacob and me and what we just did. I never did that with Jacob. I never got that excited."

"You didn't," he asked slightly encouraged?

"No. I didn't," I answered. "I should have been more cautious tonight. I'm sorry."

He looked at me with such love in his eyes, "I liked that I was able to give you that much pleasure. Please don't apologize. I think it was the surprise more than anything that got the better of me. I knew I should have backed off a little, and give myself a second to focus, but I got so caught up in hearing your excitement, that I just couldn't stop. It's not your fault, Bella."

"So, why was it so important to you to try tonight. For months you asked me to 'be reasonable and wait until I was less breakable,' then when I decide to do just that, you want to try. Tell me what you were thinking. Certainly waiting a few more days with your incredible patience wouldn't be too difficult, so why were you so anxious to try," I asked? I wanted to understand what had driven Edward put himself in such an agonizing position.

"It's all of the things that make you so tantalizing to me. I wanted to feel your warmth. The feel of your heartbeat against my skin, radiating through my body, it almost made me feel human again. I love hearing your heart race when you're excited, telling me what excites you most, it almost makes up for not being able to read your mind. I wanted to make love to my wife, while I could still dazzle her," and with that he smiled.

"So...," I delicately began, "do you want to try again? Or, do you think it's just too dangerous? I trust you, Edward. If you get close to losing control, you cannot worry about disappointing me, just let me know and we'll stop or slow down. We'll just try. If I get too excited, I'll let you know and you can decide whether it will be too tempting. We'll just take things slowly."

"If anything ever happened to you, Bella..," Edward began.

I raised a finger and pressed it to his cool lips. "I trust you." Then I reached up and kissed him, gently forcing his lips to move with mine until I felt the tension in his shoulders begin to relax. "So, do you want to try again, or would you rather take me downstairs and play the piano for me, I would love to hear my new song." I asked, giving him an alternate plan.

Then Edward's lips were gently moving against mine again. Oh how glorious he smelled as my head began to spin. His kisses then moved to my neck, then my throat, as I fought to keep my breathing even, though my heart beat betrayed my excitement.

"May I touch you?" I asked, not wanting to take Edward by surprise.

"Mmmmm, please," he uttered.

Butterflies filled my throat, and my heart skipped a beat at the sound of his sexy, 'please'. I began placing small kisses on his throat, then down to his chest as my hand traced the perfect musculature of his beautiful chest and abs. Slowly I moved my caresses down along the firm muscled V of his lower abdomen then along the long solid muscles of his thighs. Small growls escaped him as he anticipated my touch. I looked up into his eyes, and he nodded, letting me know that he was still in control. I allowed my eyes to take in his beauty, welding it to my memory. Finally allowing my hand to softly explore the length of his arousal, I gently stroked and explored the feel of him, excited by the obvious pleasure I was giving him. As I allowed my touch to linger, I began to spread kisses across his muscled torso, paying special attention to the sensitive spot just below his navel. I kept my movements slow, and my kisses light, then gently grazed my teeth across his skin.

Suddenly, I was in Edward's arms, our bodies molded together, as he crushed his lips against mine - a deep growl issuing from his chest. He was taking control again, and I was more than happy to allow him. He rolled us over and hovered over me, careful not to put too much weight on me, as he moved his kisses along my jaw and neck. A flood of butterflies invaded my throat, and a small moan escaped my quivering lips. His scent mingled with the heady sensual feel of his cool lips against my overheated skin and I felt my excitement begin to build.

"Edward...?" I questioned cautiously.

"Hmmmm, my love?"

I could barely string the words together to form a coherent sentence, "Are...you...mmmm, that feels good...are ...you..ok?"

He chuckled softly, "Yes my love, I'm more than ok. I'm just enjoying covering my beautiful wife with kisses. How about you, are you all right?"

"Mmmmm," was all I could manage.

Edward finally settled between my legs, though I bore little of his weight. He continued scorching my hot skin with his cool kisses. I felt his cool lips and breath brush against my earlobe and a shiver of pleasure coursed through me. He moved his kissed down to my collarbone and the hollow of my throat, then lavished his attention on my breasts. My mind now too preoccupied with maintaining control could no longer focus. My hands now turned their attention from running over the muscles of his shoulders and back, to desperately tangling themselves in the sheets at my side. My body had given itself over to Edward.

"Edward, ..I'm ...so... close," I managed. I was trying so hard to maintain enough focus to not surprise him, but the sensations, his scent, and his occasional sexy growls were undoing my resolve.

"Bella?" he softly spoke, "May I make love to you?" I looked into his eyes and saw his loving concern for me mixed with a gentle vulnerability I had only seen a few times before. He was asking my permission. My heart melted, my bones grew weak, and a groan escaped my lips as an overwhelming wave of love washed through me. Oh, how I loved this man!

"Yes, Edward. Please make love to me." I whispered.

"I love you, Bella. Please always be mine." His eyes bore deeply into mine, as I felt him push toward my entrance.

I gasped, wanting desperately to feel him inside me, but Edward momentarily froze. I felt a shiver run through his body, though I could tell by his eyes that I wasn't in any danger. I desperately wanted to lift my hips toward him, taking him deep inside myself, but resisted the impulse. Whatever he was feeling, his eyes were gentle and loving, and I allowed him to take all of me at his own pace. I tried to momentarily push down my eminent release to allow us more time. My heart raced with anticipation, my breath caught in my chest then came in ragged gasps as he finally lowered his hips toward mine, sinking deep into my warmth. My hands came up and grasped at his hips as Edward moaned.

He began to establish a slow and sensual rhythm for us, the delicious friction causing us both to tremble with pleasure. I never imagined such erotic bliss. I felt emotionally vulnerable, laid bare and left powerless by the passion I felt - and I saw the same expression in Edward's eyes. As the tension in my core began to build, Edward responded by increasing the intensity of his thrusts, or increasing or decreasing the speed of our rhythm to heighten my experience. He was an unselfish and observant lover, allowing the tension in my body to build wave upon wave until I could no longer contain myself. Feeling myself on the very edge of abandon, I looked deeply in his eyes, trying to gage his level of control. His face was full of love and desire for me.

"It's all right, my love, just let go," he gently whispered as his dazzling breath washed through my senses.

And I was in bliss. Wave upon wave of pleasure washed over me as my release came, again and again, and when I was finally spent, Edward gave into his own climax. We clung to each other allowing this new intimacy to wash over us and take us under. Finally Edward settled next to me and pulled me into his side, allowing my head to rest against his chest.

"Thank you," I whispered then gently kissed his chest.

"No, thank you, my love, for trusting me - for allowing me to make love to my beautiful wife, for giving me an experience worthy of a century of wait. Thank you for completing my life. I love you, my Bella," he softly spoke, as he gently kissed the top of my head and squeezed me closer to him.

"I love you, too."

For several long moments we lay quietly caressing each other, lost in our thoughts. The warmth put off by the electric blanket made it easy to stay snuggled against Edward's side. Edward had his right arm up under his head, while his left was wrapped around me holding me against him as he traced lazy patterns over my arm and shoulder. He looked so contented, so happy.

"What are you thinking," I asked with a smile?

"How undeserving I am to be this happy," he smiled

"No one is more deserving than you, Edward. You are the most thoughtful man that has ever walked this earth. I wish you could see you through my eyes."

"Bella, are you all right? I mean, I didn't hurt you, did I?"

"No, you didn't hurt me, and I'm much better than all right. I watched your eyes so carefully as you made love to me, and you didn't seem to be struggling at all with losing control. What were you thinking? Why was it easier for you this time," I asked as I leaned up on one elbow so that I could see into his beautiful topaz eyes.

EPOV

I paused for a moment, trying to frame my words into something that would give her a glimpse into my heart.

"I knew I wouldn't be surprised this time. I decided that I would solely concentrate on causing you pleasure, after all your pleasure has always been my pleasure. I concentrated on listening to your heart, feeling your pulse and your breathing. My other needs faded to background noise as my only focus became feeling your warmth surround me and watching your eyes as you teetered on the edge of control. Nothing else mattered but your happiness - and mine. I had imagined this moment a thousand times in my mind, but never came close to imagining how my heart would feel, as though it was expanding a hundred fold and still straining to contain the infinite love I have for you. I've never known anything that has made me feel so deeply. I never knew I could feel such unrestrained happiness."

I looked down at my beautiful wife, and saw tears of love and joy welling up in her perfect brown eyes, as she smiled at me.

"I hope it is always like this. I don't know what our life will be after tomorrow night, but if this were my last moment on this earth, my life would have been perfect," she said, then settled back into the crook of my arm nuzzling my chest with her nose and her perfect warm soft lips.

Her breathing and heart beat were slowing, and I knew from their perfect synchronicity that she was near dozing. "Close your eyes, my love, I'll be here when you awaken," I whispered and kissed her gently on the forehead as she closed her eyes and smiled contentedly.

I allowed the silence to permeate as my thoughts wandered. Flashes of places, times, and people from my past shot randomly through my mind: images of my former solitary existence, feelings of loneliness, and glimpses of my pretenses of not needing anyone to share my life with. I'm not sure I even knew what I was missing. I was proud and arrogant in my solitude. I saw myself plodding through life as though life itself was slightly out of focus and without definition and color. I had been immersed in tedium with little purpose or real joy, and with few distractions from the obligatory going-through-the-motions of living life day in and day out.

But oh, how my obligatory half-life was doomed the moment I gazed upon her beautiful face for the first time. From the moment I first spoke with her, I felt a stirring of emotion break through me and I knew in an instant I could never go back to living an existence based only upon my love of music and literary and intellectual pursuits. Though my heart was cold and still, I felt it pulse with the lure of all that loving her could bring me, danger and taboos be damned! Her love and acceptance of all that I am, and all that I had been breathed new life into my soul - a soul that I could possibly now allow myself the faith to believe that I had.

I watched her eyes lids dance, as she slipped more deeply into sleep, and a smile crossed my face. I knew she was dreaming, and I held my breath waiting, hoping to hear my name on her lips. I languished in the feel of her creamy, soft, warm skin as it pressed against the entire length of my body, and felt a surge of euphoria wash over me as I realized, again, that my Bella was now my wife. She was mine to love, to protect, to honor, to spoil, to spend my eternity to try to understand the mystery that was her heart and her mind. Her errant thoughts and unselfish nature were still such unexpected mysteries to me. I doubt I would ever completely unravel the mystery of her, but I was looking forward to an eternity of effort.

"Edward, my love," she quietly uttered prayer-like in her sleep.

And my still heart jumped in my chest. She loved me. She loved me and nothing else in this world would ever matter again. My mind poured over all that we had experienced together this marvelous day. Our beautiful wedding filled my memory, our pledging our love in front of family and friends, and privately vowing to love each other for all of eternity. Then spending time with Bella this evening as we broke new boundaries, exploring new levels of intimacy together. I found it so exhilarating to have been able to see and feel my beautiful Bella without the constraints of clothing. To feel her beneath me, and to feel her very pulse surround me and run through me as I entered her. I loved taking clues from her body, leading me to draw out her pleasure, to give her as much happiness as I could while allowing myself to feel, truly feel her love and desire for me. Tonight was my vision of heaven, while tomorrow would certainly be my vision of hell.

Tonight I was able to suppress my animal instincts to take her blood, tomorrow, I would have to give in to them. Tomorrow, I would take my beautiful Bella's life, taste her lusciously aromatic blood, then watch as she writhes in pain and agony. Oh Hell, indeed. I hoped I would have the strength to endure, to restrain myself from taking more than just a little of her blood as I fill her with my venom. I hope I am able to give comfort to her as she gives her life for me, binding us eternally. But I would worry about that tomorrow.

I looked up at the window and contemplated the eminent breaking dawn. Dawn: the close of the long darkness, and the promise of a new beginning. My long solitary existence was over. This was the beginning of a new life, not only for Bella and I together, but for myself. With Bella at my side as my immortal companion, I saw the hope and promise of endless light and happiness stretching before us. I gently kissed her head as I closed my eyes and silently uttered a prayer of gratitude for my Bella and for the happy future that I now knew was ours.