Author's Note: So I finished the Twilight series a little over a week ago... and what happens? I write a fanfiction for it. The day after finishing the book, I woke up with an idea for a short story - and here's the finished product!
I sat in the center of my bed with my knees pulled tightly up to my chest and my arms wrapped around my legs.
Stupid Alice and her stupid traditions.
If it weren't for those horrible traditions, I wouldn't have to be away from my fiancée right now – just because it was the night before my wedding!
I was getting married tomorrow and I had an unbelievable amount of butterflies crowding my stomach at the moment.
This was ridiculous, I realized. I let out a frustrated sigh and dropped my chin onto my knees, staring wistfully out of my open bedroom window. I had absolutely no need to be worried. Sure, I did happen to be getting married tomorrow – everyone gets jittery before they tie the knot, right? It's not as if my case was any different than anyone else's.
Well – not really…
Alright, so my fiancée was also a vampire – but that didn't change my feelings towards him! I loved him more than anyone I'd ever met – anyone I would ever meet! And I knew that my feelings were painstakingly obvious to him, too. Almost embarrassingly so…
And maybe it wasn't just the ceremony I was nervous about tomorrow. I knew that the moment we left for our honeymoon – it wouldn't be much longer until my heart stopped beating entirely and I joined the Cullen clan permanently.
But I wanted to join them – I wanted to be a vampire! Especially after all of the arguments I made in order to convince him it was the best thing for me – it was what I wanted – I wasn't going to back down now! I had been waiting for this moment for far too long – so why was I –
There was a hesitant knock on the door. Someone must have seen the light from my room beneath the door and knew I was still awake.
I immediately pulled my arms away from my legs and stood up off of the bed, trying to appear more confident than I felt.
"Oh, Bella," Renée softly scolded, appearing somewhat startled by the fact that I was not beneath the bed sheets and fast asleep after spending the past two hours alone in my room. "I thought you would have gone to bed by now."
I smiled weakly and shook my head.
And then, as if knowing what must be going through my head, she silently closed the door behind her and swiftly walked to my side.
"If you aren't ready," she whispered in her soothing voice and pulling me in close for a hug, "we can call this whole thing off right now. Just say the word."
"No, Mom," I protested, just as I had been doing all summer long. "I'm ready for this," I tried to convince her, but still feeling unsure myself.
I could feel my mother's lips press into the top of my head. "Yes, you've made that clear," she responded, patting my back. "But – just know that it's not too late to back out."
I nodded, letting my chin drop onto her shoulder. "I know, Mom," I replied, tightening my arms around her waist.
Renée slowly pulled away from me. She sat on the edge of my bed and grabbed my hand, gently tugging on it to pull me down beside her.
She gazed at me for a moment, as if memorizing my expression, and then sighed.
I knew exactly where this conversation was about to go. She had done nothing all summer but beg me to wait just a few more years to get married. She had even offered to pay for the entire ceremony and reception if I only waited until after college! Not that it would have made a difference, anyway – the Cullen's had more than enough money to spend for several hundred weddings, if they had wanted to. But nearly every time my mother and I spoke, she seemed to have invented some new type of excuse or another bribe in order to get me to back out of the wedding.
"You're only eighteen," she finally whispered. "You're much too young to know what you want in life, Bella."
I shook my head, sure of my answer for this statement. "No," I answered. "I know exactly what I want." I faltered, unsure of what else to say to calm my mother's nerves, as well as my own. I finally dropped my gaze to stare at my hands, clenched together in my lap. "I'm just having the normal pre-wedding nerves," I assured her, smiling down at the floor.
Renée wasn't convinced. "Are you sure?" she whispered. She leaned forward, trying to catch my gaze. "Are you really – " She stopped speaking to swallow. "Are you ready for this sort of a commitment, Bella?"
I slowly reached out and covered my mom's shaking hand. I looked up into her eyes and told the truth.
"I'm ready," I said. "Just nervous."
She stared into my eyes once more, possibly trying to decipher one of the many emotions that I was feeling at the moment. And – with a grim look of defeat – she nodded.
"Alright," she conceded, standing on her feet. "I've tried my best to push back the wedding date, but – " She sighed, beginning to smile again.
The room was silent. I held my breath in anticipation of what my mom seemed to be about to say.
With a small sniff and a slight shrug, she continued.
"I know you," she started once again. "And I know that you're the smartest, responsible, most caring person that I know – and if this is the right choice for you, then who am I to talk you out of it?"
I grinned, incredibly relieved by these words. I had never realized just how much I had been wishing for her to say them. An immense burden seemed to have lifted off of my shoulders and I let out a heavy sigh. It had taken several months of convincing, but I finally had my mother's blessing for my wedding.
Without realizing what I was doing before the action was completed, I leaped up from my bed and threw my arms around my mother, grinning.
"Thank you," I whispered, kissing her cheek. "Thank you."
My mom seemed taken aback by my sudden mood change. But, within seconds, she responded just as warmly, pressing her cheek to the top of my head.
"I love you, baby," she told me, gently pulling away from the hug. She brushed my long, dark hair out of my eyes and tucked it behind my ears. "You've got a big day ahead of you. And a, uh…" She suddenly flushed and avoided eye contact, but couldn't hide the smile playing at the corner of her lips. "Well, I'm sure tomorrow night may be somewhat eventful as well, if I remember honeymoons correctly…"
I couldn't help but match the bright shade of my mother's face. She always knew how to make situations far more uncomfortable than they ever needed to be…
I decided not to let her comment bother me. Instead, I used her own words on herself, smiling slightly as I began to tease her. "I'm sure you remember what a married couple typically does on the night of their wedding, don't you? Or should I have Phil jog your memory?"
My mother glared back at me, clearly upset that she did not manage to embarrass me as much as she had been hoping. "Just don't be stupid, Bella," she advised me, shaking a finger in my direction. "I don't want grandkids just yet."
I smiled. I stopped my teasing and nodded solemnly. "No grandkids," I assured her with a nod. "I can promise you that one."
My mother leaned in one more time to kiss my cheek. "Alice will be here at eight tomorrow morning so we can get your hair ready." She peeked over my shoulder at the digital clock on my nightstand. Its numbers seemed to change in perfect unison with her glance. It was one in the morning. "Get some sleep, alright?"
I nodded again, now beginning to grow frustrated by her mothering. "Alright – goodnight, Mom."
She soon left my room and walked back into the guest bedroom where, I assumed, Phil was waiting for her to come back to bed.
Poor Charlie. I felt bad enough that I had convinced him to let Renee stay at the house before my wedding, but I hadn't thought about what sort of impact Phil's presence might have on him. Ever since Charlie and Renée had split up, I knew that my dad still cared for my mom, but my mom had moved on and married Phil.
He seemed to be taking it all rather well, though. Considering all of the pain that I had put him through with my unexplained disappearances over the years, the odd accidents I seemed to acquire the more I hung around vampires, and the sudden announcement of an engagement and wedding, Charlie was remarkably calm all summer, especially with Renée's and Phil's presence.
Maybe he finally accepted the truth that I was incredibly unlucky and I was bound to bring nothing but pain and discomfort into the house.
I smiled slightly, remembering how much Charlie had worried about my health when I first moved to Forks. Now, when I returned home with an injury, he was still concerned, but had learned that the injuries came along with my constant streak of bad luck.
He really did seem to be holding up rather well. I just hoped he didn't break down at the wedding tomorrow…
My stomach churned uncomfortably.
I had almost calmed myself down enough to get to sleep! But now – I could feel the butterflies building once more. There was no way I could sleep in this state – maybe I should just – I really wanted to – I needed to –
My decision was instantaneous. I knew exactly what it was I truly needed.
I stood and flipped off my bedroom light, listening cautiously at my door. I opened the door with a slight creak of a rusty hinge, but all occupants of the house seemed to sleep soundly through its noise.
I tiptoed as quietly as I could down the stairs. I paused before the one step that always squeaked. Expertly, I stepped over that hurdle, smiling proudly and letting out a soft sigh of relief once I stood safely in the kitchen.
I didn't stop to think about what I was doing. I was still in my pajamas – flannel pants with a white tank top – but I was sure it wouldn't get that cold outside when it was still August. I knew I could rely on that much of the weather in Forks.
I slipped on a pair of flip-flops that I had left lying in the middle of the floor earlier today. And then – pushing aside the guilty feeling I was about to have – I snatched up a brand new car key from off of the middle of the kitchen table.
I knew Alice must have seen my escape the moment I decided to leave. She would know that I was coming. And – knowing her strong belief in traditions – she would most likely try to prevent that from happening.
But my decision had been impulsive and sudden. There was no way that she could have seen me sneaking out of my house until now.
Even with that small sense of comfort, I couldn't help but glance at every shadow as I hurried to the small, black car across the street.
It was Phil's car. Though I was sure Phil would be insulted if all I called it was a car.
It was, by Phil's definition, a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano. He could never stop telling Charlie and I about how it was the best vehicle in existence – although a silver Volvo tended to be my own personal preference.
The Ferrari was extremely quiet – unlike my beat up truck that would wake up not just my family from their deep slumber, but the entire neighborhood. I knew that Phil's car was so expensive that Renée blushed and ignored my question when I asked about the cost. I was relatively sure it was off-limits for guest drivers – I don't think Renée has even had a chance to take it for a spin, yet.
And it was fast.
I greedily hopped into the front seat, eager to have a chance to get behind the wheel of this sort of a car, no matter how nervous I was that I might crash it. Which, I was sure, would most likely happen with my luck.
I sat with my hands gripping the wheel.
Grand theft auto, I silently remembered with a twinge of guilt, recalling Alice's words from our trip to Italy. How strongly are you opposed to grand theft auto?
I swallowed, quickly taking in all of the buttons and devices that covered the dashboard. It wasn't really stealing if I brought the car back, was it? I was only borrowing the car for the night! There's no harm in that.
I slowly put the key into the ignition and turned it, finding it hard to suppress a smile when the engine started to hum silently.
It wasn't long before the trees were nothing but blurred colors, nearly unrecognizable at the speed that I was traveling. It was nowhere near as fast as I had seen some people drive, but it was much quicker than driving my old, beat-up truck. At least this vehicle didn't start to make bizarre noises when it approached fifty miles per hour.
Within minutes, I was sitting in the front yard of the Cullen's house. I quickly hopped out of the front seat, closing the door gently behind me – relieved that I had, so far, avoided causing any damage to the vehicle – and then froze, surprised by an odd ripping sound. The noise was coming from the backyard.
I walked around the side of the house, squinting through the darkness. Twice I tripped over my own feet, but caught myself before I landed face first in the wet grass. The last thing I needed right now was to fall and scrape my knee just before seeing a family of vampires.
I heard the noise again. Just as I rounded the final corner of the house, I could see the pale faces of nearly ever Cullen family member, their skin glowing eerily in the moonlight. And in their hands was a large tree trunk – ripped directly from the ground.
Emmett easily carried the cedar tree – with Jasper's help – to another location. I watched in a stunned silence as the roots of the enormous tree trunk remained connected, following Emmett and Jasper's movement.
My eyes caught another pair of faces, smiling and waving at me. Carlisle and Esme were on the opposite end of the yard, standing over a large hole with two shovels in their hands. It was a hole, I realized, just big enough for a tree.
I watched with amazement as Jasper and Emmett stepped up to the hole and let the tree fall into place with a loud thud. Esme then started to fill the dirt in around the edge of the hole so that the tree looked as if it had never been moved. Carlisle then filled the hole in the center of the yard where the tree had come from.
I felt a soft tap on my shoulder.
I turned abruptly, surprised by the interruption, but it was only Alice.
"Hi," I said, almost afraid to speak in a voice greater than a whisper.
Alice smiled in response, the normal sparkle gone from her eyes.
I cleared my throat, trying to fill the odd silence. "What are you guys doing?" I asked, curious. Alice wasn't normally this quiet.
She immediately erased my concern as she scoffed at my question, returning back to her normal self. "Well, you don't expect us to have trees sitting in the middle of your wedding, do you?" she replied, making my question sound quite ridiculous.
"Oh," I mumbled, watching as Rosalie came into view. She was balancing a stack of white, folding chairs with one hand and using her other one to set up each individual chair in a straight line; she was setting up the seats for my wedding tomorrow. "Right – of course," I said.
I watched for a few more minutes, staring as another tree was ripped from the ground and relocated in an empty hole at the furthest edge of the yard. I glanced at the many faces in the yard, struggling to find the one person that could not be found.
I glanced out of the corner of my eye at Alice and was surprised to see her staring at me. I turned my head sharply, looking right back at her with a confused expression.
"What is it?" I asked, tentatively holding a hand up to my face, as if I were worried that I had something covering my cheeks.
Alice shook her head, smiling again. She finally pointed up at the top floor of their house, answering an unspoken question. "Edward's in his room."
I was surprised by her automatic assumption, but brushed that thought aside for the moment. "You're just going to let me see him?" I asked. "Aren't you going to try to stop me or something?"
Alice raised an eyebrow. "Why would I stop you?" she asked, clearly puzzled.
"You know," I sighed, waving my hand around. "This whole – tradition nonsense! I'm not allowed to see my fiancée the night before I get married – remember?"
"Oh – that," Alice muttered. She smiled and shrugged. "Well, I think it's more important to talk to Edward, isn't it?"
I sent a perplexed look in Alice's direction, trying to decipher her cryptic messages, but finally decided that it wasn't worth it. She was giving me a chance to talk to Edward and I wasn't about to wait for her to change her mind.
I smiled gratefully. "Thank you," I whispered, touching her shoulder. And, without another minute lost, I turned and ran for the house.
The house was silent, as it always seemed to be. I had been expecting the silence, but not so much of it. It must have been because nearly all of its occupants were working in the backyard.
I quietly slipped my shoes off, afraid of breaking the silence, and then left them lying in a corner beside the door. Just beside the door was the familiar staircase that I knew led to Edward's room at the top of the house.
I took my time climbing the steps, almost as if I was trying to delay our meeting as long as possible. I even let my finger trace the carvings on the banister as I climbed, feeling the polished wood slide smoothly beneath my fingers.
I reached the end of the staircase, hesitating at the final step.
There was nothing to be afraid of, I reassured myself. Edward would understand. It might take some time – but he would understand.
Though I knew my thoughts were accurate, that didn't change how I felt. I was sure my heart had stopped beating the moment I saw Edward's door at the end of the hallway, wide open.
Before I even had time to form a decent explanation for my sudden appearance at one in the morning, I realized that my traitorous feet had already walked into Edward's room and were stopped in his doorway.
My legs started to shake and my arms went limp just at the sight of Edward. How could I have ever agreed to stay away from him for a full night just because of Alice's horrible traditions? She must have drugged me to get me to agree with her plan.
But my thoughts were cut off when I saw what, exactly, he seemed to be doing.
Edward was sitting on the edge of his black couch, still as a statue. His hands were clasped together, level with his chest, his head was bowed, and his eyes were closed. But I knew that he wasn't asleep – vampires couldn't sleep. So why were his eyes closed?
I frowned, trying to piece the puzzle together. I couldn't be sure, but it almost looked like –
He was praying.
Was there no end to his mystery?
My sudden realization caused me to have a sharp intake of breath. I realized that I hadn't been breathing at all for the past several seconds, and I sounded almost as if I was gasping for air.
Edward looked up, staring back at me – almost as if he were surprised by my appearance.
"Bella," he whispered, immediately standing up from his chair. He took in my pajamas and slightly disheveled appearance, frowning. "What's wrong?" he asked, automatically assuming the worst. "Are you alright?"
I stood motionless in the doorway, staring back at Edward. He must have misread my look of astonishment for another emotion, because he did not appear calmed by my silence.
I opened my mouth, trying to express my thoughts with words. I needed to talk to him – the sole reason for stealing a car and driving to his house in the middle of the night – but I found it almost impossible to say anything, now. There were so many things I wanted to say, but my voice failed me.
Another emotion took over.
My feet started to move, once again without my permission, but this time I didn't resist their direction. They brought me face to face with Edward Cullen. He stared down at me with a curious twinkle in his eyes, and then I pressed my lips against his icy ones.
Edward didn't seem to dislike my odd reaction. In fact, he was almost pleased. Instead of having to stand on my toes in order to reach his lips like I would normally have to, he wrapped his arms around my waist and easily lifted me into the air so that we were level with one another.
I hadn't realized that we were moving, though. One minute I was hovering several inches above the ground, my feet dangling in the air, and the next I was lying flat on my back on the bed that Edward had bought for me several months ago. I thoroughly enjoyed the slight pressure as he carefully shifted his weight on top of me.
He pulled away much too quickly, leaving me gasping for air once more. I opened my eyes in a flash and stared into his golden ones. He glanced down at my lips, parted as I struggled to catch my breath, and then laughed softly to himself.
"Hello," he whispered, smiling.
I managed to slow my pulse – or at least as slow as it ever got when I was around Edward – and smiled in response. "Good morning."
"Would you mind explaining what you're doing here?" he asked, sounding far more interested than I would have ever been had he greeted me the same way.
"Oh – well…" I mumbled, struggling to remember why I had even come in the first place. "I wanted to see you," I finally told him.
Edward rolled off of me, but kept a hand firmly planted on my waist. "You just stopped by to say hello?" he asked, sounding faintly amused. "And Alice let you in?"
I nodded, turning so that I was facing him as well. "Yep," I agreed.
He grinned, finding the situation comedic. "At one in the morning?"
I pretended to take offense at his badgering questions. "Well," I said with an exasperated sigh as I started to sit up and swing my legs over the edge of the bed. "If you would prefer that I wasn't here…"
"I never said that," he quickly assured me, reaching out both of his hands, now, to grab my waist. He pulled me back onto the bed, holding me so close that the only part of me that wasn't pressed up against him was my lips.
"Good," I answered, feeling my heart rate slightly increase.
Edward smiled, kissing my cheek. He then ducked his head down and kissed the side of my neck, following it by several more slow kisses, each just a little bit further down than the first one.
I swallowed, giving in to his touch. My head suddenly grew very heavy, rolling backwards onto the pillow behind me as I let him explore my throat a bit further.
No – wait. I did have a reason for coming here. I had to speak up before I lost all of my control.
"Edward," I rasped, surprised by the sound of my voice. It sounded as if I hadn't used it in years.
He spoke softly without having to remove his lips from my skin. "Yes?" he asked.
I realized that my hands were beginning to travel through his hair, ruffling the smooth, bronze locks that always seemed to fall into place. He chuckled softly as he felt the presence of my hands in his hair. Once he did so, my hands automatically grabbed a fistful of his hair as his cool breath sent a pleasant shiver down my spine.
It took me a moment to realize that the kissing had stopped. I lifted my head off of the pillow and looked down at Edward, only slightly surprised to find him smiling back at me.
"Did you want to say something?" he asked with a playful tone in his voice.
I silently cursed him and his smug smile. He knew what sort of affect he had on me – and I knew he enjoyed seeing me struggle to control myself around him.
"Yes," I finally answered, clearing my mind of thoughts that should not be present during this conversation. "I – I had a reason for coming here."
Edward replaced his smile with a calm expression. "I figured there was a reason," he replied.
I nodded, now afraid to look into his warm eyes. "It's about tomorrow."
I could feel Edward's entire body tense up at my words, but he slowly started to nod as he retracted his hand from my waist. "I thought it would be."
I pulled away from him, finding it much too distracting to be lying so close when I needed to speak clearly. I sat up with my legs crossed in front of me, but continued to look down at him.
"The wedding," I finally blurted out, almost hating to hear the words spoken aloud. "I'm – having second thoughts."
Edward listened patiently without showing any reactions. The only movement that he made was to sit up on his elbow so that he was at eye level with me.
"I don't know if I can do it," I whispered, still avoiding direct eye contact. "I mean – Renée was in my room before I drove here," I explained. And then I waved my hand as if I could skip this story because he already knew the outcome. "Of course Alice has already told you about what she saw, I'm sure."
Edward shook his head, staring down at the bed. "Actually," he said, "I haven't talked to her for a few hours. She's been pretty busy getting everything pulled together for tomorrow."
I ignored the guilty feeling in the pit of my stomach. Instead, my eyes widened in surprise. "You mean – she didn't tell you that I was coming?"
Again, he shook his head. "I didn't know that you were here until you were standing at the door." His eyes glazed over slightly, staring back at his black chair that I had seen him sitting on when I walked into the room. "I was preoccupied – I didn't even hear you come into the house."
I chewed on my lower lip. He didn't know why I was here – everything I was about to say was new news to him.
I instantly felt sick.
"Alright," I stammered, but shook my head and rearranged my thoughts. "Well – Renée told me that it might be better if we waited just a little bit longer to get married."
He nodded. This wasn't anything new to him, but it had never been a resolved issue in my mother's eyes.
"She really wants me to wait until I'm older. And Charlie – he's been so good around Phil all week – I feel so bad having to put him through his only daughter's wedding straight out of high school!" It was becoming much easier to say everything once it started rolling off my tongue. "But I want to get married," I concluded, finding the strength to look up into Edward's eyes. He was already watching me. "I really do – I'm just not sure anymore – if now is the right time."
"You wanted to have the wedding," Edward softly reminded me. "I told you it wasn't important and you don't have to do it anymore."
"I know," I answered with a soft sigh. "But – I'm just not sure anymore."
Edward nodded. "I understand," he said. He reached out and grabbed one of my free hands, threading his fingers through mine. "If you're afraid to get married, we don't have to do it. I already told you that my rules didn't apply to our deal anymore. I can still change you into one of us whether or not we get married."
I sat up straight and tall, taken aback by his initial statement. "I'm not afraid," I told him. "I mean – I'm worried about my parents and how they might react, but – I'm not afraid."
Edward smiled, rubbing his thumb over the back of my hand. "It's alright," he tried to assure me. "It's not every day that you get married – it's normal to be afraid."
"But – I'm not afraid!" I was starting to get frustrated. "I love you!" I cried out in a voice that wasn't quite a shout, but was much louder than I had been using since I arrived at his house. "I want to spend forever with you, Edward – I'm not afraid of some sort of ceremony. It's all just documentation, really," I explained, starting to babble incoherently. "That all that a wedding is – we don't need it to prove our love to each other, do we? It's just another tradition!"
I expected Edward to reply with an argument with as much volume as I had used, but what I got in return was something incredibly unexpected. He continued staring at our interlocked hands, motionless, and then his eyes flicked up to my face, automatically silencing my rambling.
In a whisper, he told me, "I'm scared, too."
I swallowed, taking in his silent expression. He had frozen in place, still as a statue, but his face was readable, unlike most other times. I could see his emotions etched plainly across his face. He looked troubled – almost as if this had been something that he had been thinking about for much longer than I realized.
I started to refute his statement. "No, you're not," I whispered back, reaching out with my free hand to touch his face. I ran my fingers down his cheek and over his bottom lip. "That's impossible."
The corners of his lips curled up and my finger stopped to trace every wrinkle that his smile had created on his flawless face. "Is it?" he asked. "Why is it so surprising that I might be afraid?"
I was speechless. I wanted to tell him that he was never the frightened one – it was always me. He was the one that was always saving me. He was the one who always had the confidence when I lacked it! Not to mention that it was his idea to get married in the first place – so why was he afraid?
Finally I blurted it out.
"You're never afraid," I told him. "You just – can't be."
Edward laughed out loud at my comment, making the blood rush to my face. He quickly sensed my discomfort and then stopped, replacing his laugh with a small smile.
"That's absurd," he said. "You know that I'm not perfect."
I didn't respond to his comment. I didn't know that – and I was sure that he could never persuade me otherwise.
"I spend every second of every day worrying about you," he whispered. "I'm terrified of what might happen if I lose you."
I could sense where his thoughts were beginning to lead him. He was thinking about what had happened earlier this year when he had almost lost me. Permanently.
"But you didn't," I assured him, trying to avoid the painful memories that we were both about to encounter. "And you never will."
Edward smiled again, dropping his gaze. "It almost happened once. Who's to say that it won't happen again?"
"I say!" I shouted, frustrated with his persistence to travel down this dark path of our history. "Listen – Edward." I dropped his hand and reached out to put a finger underneath his chin, tilting his gaze up to meet mine. "You will never lose me," I told him. "Tomorrow we are getting married – and then I'll be yours forever."
Edward froze and then slowly tilted his head to the side. "I thought you didn't want to get married."
I knew how stupid I must have looked, staring back at him with my jaw dropped because he had cornered me. "Well – I – " I dropped my hands from his face and pulled them away, wringing them together in my lap. "I mean – "
I took one look into his soft, golden eyes and melted under his piercing gaze. "I don't know." I let out a heavy sigh from the corner of my mouth, blowing a strand of hair out of my eyes, and then threw myself backwards onto the bed so that I was staring up at the ceiling. I heard a second sigh and, seconds later, Edward was lying on top of me again, stroking my flushed cheeks.
"If you don't want to get married," he told me, "we don't have to. You're right – to some extent," he added. "Getting married is just documentation. It doesn't change a thing about our relationship."
I closed my eyes, concentrating on Edward's icy breath on my face. "But it's important to you," I told him.
I knew, without opening my eyes, that he was shaking his head at me. "If it's not important to you, then it isn't – "
"Don't," I cut him off, sounding more irritated than I had ever been with him before. "Just – don't say it."
He stopped speaking and, I soon realized, breathing. I could no longer feel his cold breath on my cheeks. I started to wonder if maybe my sharp response had caused him to move away from me. I couldn't feel his pressure on my chest – wouldn't I have felt something if he got up?
I opened my eyes in a panic, frantic to find Edward, and gasped when I realized that he hadn't moved an inch. He was watching me with a soft expression and a simple smile – far from offended by my tone.
"I'm sorry," I mumbled, putting a hand to my forehead and massaging it. "I didn't mean to snap at you. I'm just – " I searched for the right word. Reluctantly, I gave in to Edward's previous argument with a heavy sigh. "Afraid."
I knew that he was smiling now because I had finally accepted his view. He leaned forward and kissed my jaw, then laid his head down on my chest, just beside my heart. "I know," he whispered. "But you don't need to be."
I blinked, trying to understand his meaning. "Why not?" I asked.
"Because your family loves you," he said matter-of-factly. "Right now, they think you're getting married tomorrow, and they will be happy for you if you do." He took a breath and let it go in a slow exhale. "If you decide not to get married, they'll be just as happy."
"I guess," I muttered, staring at a fixed spot on the ceiling as I tried my best to distract myself from the closeness of Edward Cullen. "But I don't want to hurt you."
"You won't hurt me," he whispered, kissing my collarbone. He then paused for a moment, lifting himself onto his elbows so that he was looking directly into my face. "Tomorrow," he began, "if you're ready to get married, then we'll follow through with it. If not…" He shrugged, looking as if it didn't bother him in the slightest. "Then just don't come. I'll understand."
I bit my lower lip. Surely I would be able to make a decision before the morning. And, even though he had already told me multiple times, I knew that I was finally beginning to believe that Edward really wouldn't mind which option I chose.
I blinked, startled by the sudden command. "Stop what?" I asked with a blank stare.
"Biting your lip," Edward said, staring at my mouth with a look of concern. "If you worry much more than this, you'll break through the skin."
I instantly understood and stopped. "Sorry," I apologized.
He smiled, looking back up into my eyes. "It's just too much of a temptation," he told me.
"Oh, really?" I asked with as much seduction as I could muster. I wrapped my arms around his neck, pulling him a bit closer. "Were you planning on using my lips much more this evening?"
Edward grinned, revealing a sparkling set of white teeth. "I might be."
"Well – don't let me stop you."
Before I had even finished my sentence, Edward had already closed the gap between us to sweep me up into another earth shattering kiss. It wasn't quite as urgent as it had been earlier, but it had the same effect on my heart.
He slowly broke off, pulling away. I watched as he glanced towards the door and then back down at me with a sad smile. I knew what he was thinking. He wanted to take me back home so that my parents wouldn't wake up before I snuck back into the house.
I quickly diverted his attention.
"Can I ask you something?" I said in a soft voice.
Edward rolled onto his side. I followed his movement, molding myself to fit into his chest as he wrapped his arms around my body and held me close. Although I was speaking directly to his chest in a soft voice, I knew he could hear every word.
"What were you doing earlier?" I asked, curious. "When I first walked in?"
I heard the soft rumble of a laugh, deep in his chest. I wasn't quite sure what is was that made me shiver; the sound of Edward's laugh, or his free hand, roaming freely across my back.
"Carlisle has gotten to me," he said in a soft explanation. "After so many decades together – he's bound to rub off on me."
I waited patiently for more of an explanation.
"I was praying," he finally mumbled, stopping the movement of his hand, but continuing to let his fingers wander in small circles across the bare skin just below the bottom of my shirt.
"For what?" I asked. I could barely manage to say those words alone – the touch of his cold fingers was causing my heart to beat irregular rhythms.
"For you," he whispered back into my ear. "I wanted you to stay safe at home when I couldn't be there with you."
I tried not to let this information affect my physically, but I knew, now, that my heartbeat was not only audible to Edward, but also to me.
He chuckled, as if responding to my thoughts. "Am I the one that's making your heart jump out of your skin?"
I blushed. "It's not the first time that it's happened," I softly reminded him.
He did not respond. Instead, he started to pull his hand away from my back.
"No," I gasped, darting my own hand out to grip the front of his shirt in a frenzied attempt to keep him from pulling away. "Don't stop," I whispered. "I like my heart rate above average."
I knew without looking that Edward was smirking as he returned to running his fingers across the bare skin of my lower back.
"So," I spoke again with a soft shudder as Edward flattened his entire hand at the base of my back. "You were p-praying?"
"I was," he agreed. His hand slowly slid up my spine beneath my shirt, inches from my bra strap. This was something new; he had touched my back, of course, but never like this.
Impulsively, I tightened my hold on the front of his shirt. I tried to speak in a calm voice. "About me?"
Again, he repeated his words. "I was," he whispered, sliding his hand around to hold my side. His thumb rubbed slowly over my stomach.
I couldn't keep my voice steady any longer. "Edward," I gasped, pressing myself into his chest. He rolled onto his back and I fell on top of him with a slight thud. I pulled my head up, throwing the hair out of my face, and looked into Edward's bright eyes.
He started to grin as I felt a second hand, just as cold as the first, begin to roam my back as well. "Is there something wrong?" he asked with a hint of amusement.
I used all of my control to just shake my head.
"Good," he whispered, leaning forward inches from my face. "I'd hate for you to have a heart attack because of me."
I couldn't stand the temptation any longer. Without any warning, I gripped the collar of Edward's shirt and pulled myself towards his lips.
He responded warmly, kissing me back. It wasn't until I started to tug on the small buttons of his nice shirt that he started to tense up.
I was through the third one before he had to stop.
"What are you doing?" he whispered, pushing me away from him. He sat up, pulling me with him in the process, and scooted a comfortable distance away from me. His eyes were now not as playful as before.
I fought the urge to blush at his question. "Do you need to ask?"
He stared back at me with a jumble of emotions on his face. I wasn't sure what he was thinking, now. He had told me once before that I had to wait to take this step with him until after our wedding – but within a few months, he said that rule didn't apply anymore – didn't he?
Before Edward could say anything else, I leaned back in to silence him with another kiss, but this time he let me undo all of the buttons. And – with a slight sense of accomplishment – I was able to easily maneuver his shirt off of his body in one quick, fluid movement.
As I was about to reach down to lift my own shirt, a pair of cold hands beat me to it.
I pulled away from Edward and gasped involuntarily.
I stared back into his eyes, silent and unblinking, as his hands seemed to move expertly around my hips once more and gently tugged up on my tank top. I held my arms above my head as he gently lifted the shirt up, never removing his cold fingers from my skin. The moment my hands were free of the fabric, his strong hands trailed slowly down the sides of my arms, past my shoulders, over my back, and down to my waist. I shivered at each and every touch, but I was sure this time it wasn't because of the ice-like temperature.
Slowly, I wrapped one of my arms around Edward's neck, hugging him close to me, and then ran the other through his hair until I held it locked in place behind his head.
Time stood still for the moment. He looked back at me with a serious look. He wasn't fooling around anymore. The entire game had changed.
I started to lean back, falling towards the pillows, and Edward quickly caught on. He lowered his body in sync with mine, but his lips always seemed to stay an inch away from mine.
I sucked in a gulp of air the moment his bare chest came into contact with mine. I had been expecting it. I knew the cool feeling would be coming, but I had not been prepared for the feeling that it gave me.
I didn't allow the shock to settle in. I lifted my head just enough to give Edward a soft, tantalizing kiss. Then I began to move down, across his jaw, and then back to his ear.
Just when I felt like I was finally in control, I shuddered as I felt a pair of thumbs run down my side and hover just above my waist. As Edward's thumbs slowed a stop, beginning to play with the elastic waist band of my flannel pajama pants, I felt another sensation at the base of my throat. Edward's lips were exploring the bare skin, traveling much lower than he had ever gone before.
There was a slight pause as I felt him remove his mouth from my tingling skin.
I swallowed. My eyes fluttered open in surprise as I realized that I had been holding them closed for the past several minutes. I was staring into Edward's glowing eyes.
"Bella," he repeated again, now with my full attention. "Are we going to do this?"
I put a hand to his cheek, cradling it in the palm of my hand. I watched with faint amusement as he leaned into my hand, eager for my touch. Once his eyes returned to my gaze, I answered his question. "I'm ready," I firmly told him.
He nodded, glancing away, and then he turned back to face me. "But are we going to do this?"
I knew what he meant. We had agreed several months ago that the time really wasn't important, but I had wanted to wait until after the wedding for Charlie's sake – but now? Would there still be a wedding? Did I still want to wait?
Edward was unmoving, patiently waiting for me to make a decision. He knew that I needed a moment to think things through, and I was grateful for every moment that he gave me.
Slowly, I found myself recounting the events of the night. Edward had been praying – something I had never seen him do in the several years that we had known each other. And not only was he praying, but he was praying for me. And now – he was helping me keep my promise to Charlie.
Who wouldn't want to marry a guy like that?
"No," I finally answered with a small shake of my head. "I don't think we should."
Edward nodded, smiling. "I thought you might want to wait a bit longer." He started to lift himself off of me to retrieve his shirt.
Before I let him get too far, I reached out one finger, stroking his jaw line. He quickly turned back to me with a curious look. I answered him by saying, "I thought we should wait until after the wedding."
I felt the immediate, cool sensation as Edward returned to his previous position with his chest pressed up against mine once more. "You want to get married?" he asked in a tentative voice, as if guarding himself for another letdown.
I nodded, smiling. "Tomorrow," I replied. "And not a day later."
Edward grinned, his smile covering his entire face as he leaned down to kiss me once more. As he pulled away – leaving me gasping for breath – he whispered, "Thank you."
This time, we both sat up. I looked down at my left hand and started to play with the wedding ring on my third finger. I no longer saw it as a ball and chain; it now took on a new meaning to me.
"You know," I told him in all sincerity, "I think this is truly one of the first times that I can say I'm comfortable with this ring." I held my hand out, admiring the diamond-encrusted ring. I, once again, felt butterflies in my stomach after gazing down at the stone, but they were there for an entirely different reason. "Before, I was always trying to fight getting married – but I'm ready now." I grinned, thrilled to hear myself speak the words aloud. "I'm not afraid anymore – I'm ready to get married. Tomorrow." I started to giggle, suddenly excited. I finally knew what it felt like to be Alice when she had been planning my own wedding.
I felt a sudden chill by my ear. I glanced away from my hand and realized that Edward was not sitting in front of me anymore but standing behind me with his lips pressed to my cheek. I turned to look over my shoulder and he politely held up my tank top.
"I think it would be wise for you to put this back on," he said, handing it back to me.
I smiled, taking the material back with a faint blush as I realized that I was comfortably lounging around on Edward's bed wearing nothing more than a bra.
"It's quite a bit of a distraction to talk to you when you're not wearing a shirt," he whispered into my ear. "Besides," he added with a smirk as he noticed the deep shade of red his words had evoked, "I think it would be best if you had your shirt before you went home. What would your mother think?"
I quickly pulled my tank top back over my head and turned so that my legs were hanging off of the bed. "No," I whimpered, taking his hands. "I don't want to go home – can't I stay for just a few more hours?"
Edward's eyebrow shot up in amusement. He glanced out of his window and at the small clock beside the bed. "Bella," he explained in a calm voice, "In a few hours, your parents will be banging down our door, thinking we ran off to elope."
I looked over at the wall of glass, surprised to see the faintest pink as the sun was about to break over the horizon. I had stayed with Edward for most of the night without realizing it.
"If we get you home now," he explained, pulling his own shirt gracefully back over his shoulders, "you might still get a small bit of sleep."
I thought about telling him I wasn't tired, but I knew that once I stopped to just lie still for a moment, I would be asleep within seconds. I sighed, unable to find an excuse to stay any longer. "Alright," I muttered, standing up. "But you're staying with me – no matter what Alice says."
He grinned, fastening the last button of his shirt. "No matter what Alice says," he agreed, placing his firm hands on my shoulders and kissing my forehead.
We walked silently down the staircase. I leaned up against Edward, beginning to feel the exhaustion set in with each step that I took. I wasn't sure just how many steps that was, however; somewhere down the staircase, I was sure that Edward had sensed how tired I was and decided to just lift me into the air so that my feet hovered above the ground several inches.
I found my shoes sitting beside the door and easily slipped them back onto my feet. I then turned towards the front door, holding my hand out to open it. Just as I was about to touch the doorknob, Edward beat me to it. He held the door firmly in place and spun to face me.
"Brace yourself," he whispered quietly.
I frowned, attempting to process this information. "For what?" I asked. What did he know that I didn't?
Slowly, Edward turned the knob and opened the door for me to step through. As I did so, I was sure I had been hit by an oncoming car.
I regained my senses and realized that it was Alice who had run over to me, wrapping her arms around my neck.
"Oh, I'm so happy," she squealed, beginning to rock her feet back and forth on the front porch. I was forced to do the same thing as her arms pulled me with her, dragging me around in a circle.
"I'm glad," I mumbled, tentatively patting Alice's back. "But – what are you happy about?"
"The wedding!" she cried, holding me out at arm's length. "You're getting married today!"
I blinked at the thought as Alice's hands dropped from my shoulders. It was today, wasn't it? It was no longer tomorrow.
I smiled and reached for Edward's hand, gently tugging him closer. He obeyed, standing beside me with an arm wrapped around my waist. "Of course I'm getting married today," I replied, circling my free hand around his front to hug him close to me. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"Well – you weren't when you showed up!" she shouted, sounding upset, now. "I knew you made up your mind to tell Edward that you didn't want to get married! I'm just glad that you talked yourself out of it."
I immediately snapped to attention, forgetting any drowsiness that I had felt up until this point. "Wait – you saw me – you saw us – just now?"
Alice had the decency to look somewhat embarrassed. She glanced back and forth between Edward and me. "I was only trying to see if you might change your mind…"
I glanced up at Edward's face to see him shooting Alice a glare. I wouldn't have been surprised if a small growl had accompanied his stern look. "You had no business to be watching us when we were alone in my room, Alice."
Alice seemed unfazed by Edward's reaction. She took a small step back, sticking her hip out to the side, and crossed her arms over her chest. "I was worried," she said, making a face of her own. "I'm sorry I caught you two in the act – I just wanted to know if the wedding was still on!"
"We didn't do anything," I immediately corrected Alice, but soon wished I hadn't said a word to continue this subject.
"I don't care what you were or weren't doing," Alice said so quickly that her words blurred together. "I really don't want to hear intimate details."
"Then you shouldn't have been eavesdropping," Edward hissed, stepping forward threateningly.
I was sure I had never blushed so much in my life. And, I knew, Edward could sense every ounce of blood as it quickly traveled to my cheeks.
"Well – it doesn't matter," I intervened, stepping in before the small argument escalated to more than words. "I'm definitely getting married today," I told Alice. "And I'm sorry that I made you worry."
Instantly, her frown disappeared and was replaced with a bright expression. "Oh, I knew you had to eventually change your mind," she replied. "Even if it wasn't for another year or two. That's why I didn't tell anyone to stop replanting the trees in the backyard."
"Thanks," I said with a smile. "I'm glad."
Edward started to walk off of the porch, pulling me in that direction. "I've got to take her back home, Alice," he said. "You'll be able to see her in a bit to help her get ready later."
Alice started to pout. "But you're not supposed to be with the bride the night before the wedding!" Alice complained. "It's tradition!"
I looked frantically back at Edward. Please don't give in, I silently begged him. Don't leave me alone!
Edward shook his head, smiling apologetically. "Sorry," he answered. "We went a few hours without each other's company – and we both agreed that we didn't want to try that again anytime soon."
I hid my elated smile from Alice as Edward gently squeezed my hand.
"Alright," Alice huffed, stepping off the porch to follow us down their driveway. "If you say so."
Edward smirked, turning back to the road in front of their house. He stopped walking.
"Where's your truck, Bella?"
My stomach dropped slightly. "Oh – right."
I instantly remembered the law I had broken earlier tonight. Slowly, I pulled out a small key from my pocket. "I stole Phil's car." I shrugged. "It was a quieter getaway car."
Alice snickered. "Rosalie saw it earlier. I've never seen her get so excited to see a car," she added with a giggle. "And she didn't believe that you stole it when I told her."
Edward snatched the keys out of my grip and escorted me to the passenger door, mumbling all the while, "I can't believe we turned you into a thief…"
"You didn't turn me into a thief!" I protested after we had pulled out of the Cullen's driveway and were driving nearly twice the legal speed limit.
Edward shook his head, easily maneuvering the car around the winding road. "Would you have ever stolen a car if you hadn't seen Alice do it? Twice?"
I shrugged. I remembered thinking about Alice before I had driven off with this car, but chose to discard this piece of information. "The key was just lying in the middle of the table!" I started to argue. "At least I was planning on bringing the car back! And it was so much quieter than the truck!"
When I looked over at Edward, it was to find him chuckling rather than appearing disappointed. "I'm teasing," he said, pulling up to my house. He reached across the small space to stroke my cheek. "I would have done the same thing."
I rolled my eyes and crossed my arms over my chest. Edward climbed out of his seat and walked around to mine, undoing my seatbelt and easily lifting me out of the vehicle. Within seconds, I was in my room and lying on my bed without my feet having ever touched the ground.
"You need to go to sleep," Edward said, beginning to climb on top of the covers beside me. "Or you'll be exhausted all day."
"Wait." I stopped him from lying down. I pulled back the sheets and climbed in. Then I patted the open spot beside me, underneath the blankets.
Edward shook his head. "No," he said with a small smirk, almost as if he were trying to figure out whether or not I was joking. "You'll freeze if there's no blanket between us."
I sat up on my elbow, staring him down. "I'm not going to bed until you lie down beside me." I narrowed my eyes and reinforced my words. "Right beside me."
Edward stood still for a moment, weighing his options. Then he darted across the room and returned in a blur, holding a Dartmouth sweatshirt up. Without another word, he pulled it over my head.
"Alright," I grumbled, wiggling into the oversized article of clothing. Then I looked back up at Edward with a raised eyebrow. "Will you lay with me, now?"
"Of course," he said with a grin, sliding easily onto the bed. He pulled the sheets up to our shoulders and then wrapped both of his arms around me and carefully placed his head on top of mine.
"Sleep," he whispered, beginning to hum my lullaby.
I willingly obeyed him, but not without one last, warm thought.
Mrs. Bella Cullen.
Author's Note: There it is! My first Twilight story! Very different style of writing compared to Harry Potter, but it was a good challenge!
And if anyone was wondering... the thought that I had when I first came up with this story was, "What would happen if Bella walked in on Edward praying?" And this is what happened, oddly enough... Just if you were curious!
I hope you enjoyed it! And, since this is my first story in this category, please please PLEASE let me know if I screwed something up! I tried my best to get every detail to match with the series, but tell me if I slipped up!