These characters belong to Stephenie Meyer . . .


I emerged from our room two days later. Bella refused to come with me, saying she wasn't ready to face anyone yet. I was sorry for her discomposure, but couldn't help chuckling happily – anything that kept her in our bed couldn't be all bad.

I went to find Carlisle, hoping to avoid any encounters with my brothers on the way. At the end of the day, though, it didn't really matter. Had they known what I felt, the only emotion they would have displayed would be envy.

I found Carlisle in his office. As I entered, he looked up and said with a laugh, "So, I do have a third son after all."

"Very funny, Carlisle," I responded.

"Sorry, Edward - I couldn't resist. What can I do for you? Where's Bella?"

"She's feeling a little . . . uh . . . shy at the moment, so she stayed upstairs," I admitted.

"I see," Carlisle responded, a smile threatening again.

I crossed my arms over my chest, trying to tell myself that there was nothing funny about the reason that brought me here. I gazed out the window as I blurted out, "Bella has developed a gift. I assume it was triggered by the recovery of her memories." I struggled to keep the smile off of my face.

Carlisle was instantly sober, concern apparent in his voice. "I see nothing humorous about this Edward. If Aro finds out . . ." he trailed off.

"I'm quite certain this is not a talent which would be useful to Aro in any way," I asserted. My smile broadened. I was losing the battle to maintain my dignity in this conversation.

"You're being a bit jocular about this, Edward," Carlisle announced with disapproval. "This is still serious. I assume you came here to tell me, so please proceed."

Carlisle was obviously getting impatient, but now that it came down to it, I was reluctant to say more. It was too . . . personal, too . . . intimate. I was starting to feel like the proverbial teenager having the awkward sex talk with an uncomfortable parent. But Carlisle did have a right to know and frankly, I was curious about his opinion.

I sighed. "Er . . . um . . ." I fumbled, and then stopped to gather my thoughts.

"At a loss for words Edward? This is unprecedented," Carlisle commented.

I took a calming breath and tried again. "Her gift creates . . . a certain . . . enhancement in our . . . physical relationship."

Carlisle seemed to be suppressing a grin now as well. "Are you sure this is a gift – and not just long repressed desire?"

"Oh, I'm sure. Although we never actually . . . re-established complete . . . intimacy . . . before Bella recovered her memories, this is most definitely and noticeably . . . different. The . . . feelings and . . . responses . . . are . . . overwhelmingly . . . magnified," I finished with a mumble.

"Well," Carlisle concluded. "I suppose I should be gratified - this fits perfectly with my theory."

I raised an eyebrow in question.

"I have said repeatedly that a person's most predominant human traits will exhibit themselves in an intensified form after their change."

"What do you mean?" I asked defensively. I was pretty sure I should be taking offense at that statement and how it reflected on my wife.

"Bella's most obvious attribute was loving you."

"Carlisle, that doesn't really make sense to me. Loving me is not an attribute," I objected.

"You're right, Edward, I'm expressing myself poorly. This isn't about you – it could have been someone else, I suppose. What I'm saying is that Bella had a very unusual human quality – the capacity for a great love – an epic love. You just happened to be the lucky one on the receiving end of that ability."

Carlisle continued reflectively. "Think about this Edward. In the beginning, Bella and you were only together for a relatively short time. Consider that you then left her for seven months – a long absence for any human relationship, particularly one involving a teenager. Add on top of that the fact that Bella believed you did not love her anymore. Despite that, the minute Alice appeared and Bella discovered you were in danger, without a second thought to the very real peril to which she knew she would be exposed, she jumped on an airplane to go save your life. During your absence, her love for you had not wavered in the least – it had not lessened one whit. Does any of this sound like average human behavior to you? Do you really not comprehend the incredible gift you were given?"

For some reason, I couldn't quite accept it. "Still, there was Jacob – she loved him as well."

"And did Bella's affection for Jacob Black detract at all from the love she felt for you?" Carlisle asked pointedly.

"No," I conceded. And that was true – it hadn't. Bella had said there was no choice - that she couldn't live without me.

"So, it really shouldn't surprise you that Bella's gift gives her the ability to show you in no uncertain terms the depth of her love for you and allows you to appreciate it all the more," Carlisle concluded.

I wasn't grinning anymore. I was awestruck. I was starting to wonder what I had ever done to deserve such a love. Carlisle was right – lucky didn't even begin to describe it. How had I ever doubted her feelings for me? I was an idiot. But rather than get caught up in the negative emotions of the past, I vowed that I would do everything in my power to be worthy of Bella's love in the future.

"I realize that Bella and I haven't spent much time with the family, but I think it's best if we have some more time on our own. We need an opportunity to become reacquainted. I'm thinking of a second honeymoon, where she and I can . . . fully explore the . . . parameters of this gift." The smile was fighting to come back.

"Of course, Edward – I think that makes sense. We will miss you both, naturally." Carlisle was now grinning, too. "How long will you be gone?"

"A month, two maybe," I was uncertain. "We'll keep in touch."

"I hope you realize how fortunate you are, Edward," Carlisle added as I was leaving his office.

"Maybe I truly understand that for the first time," I admitted, before returning to our room.

I hesitated before opening the door to our bedroom. I knew once I entered, it could be another two days before I had the will to leave it. As soon as I got close to Bella, the . . . excitement would be palpable. And if I touched her, we would both be lost. We really did need to get a handle on this gift.

I entered the room, closed the door and leaned against it. Bella sat up and smiled at me, looking completely disheveled and utterly desirable. My breath quickened just at the sight of her.

"What took you so long, Edward?" she asked. And her voice was so sultry it sent a shiver down my spine.

Her hand reached out to invite me back into our bed, and my feet moved forward of their own accord. I knew the intensity of this . . . energy, this . . . talent, this . . . whatever . . . had to dissipate at some point, didn't it? Otherwise, as I once predicted, Bella would be the death of me.

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