I stepped into the shower, letting the warm water wash over my skin, soothing all the tension in my body. It had been a tough day. Predictably, there had been enough gossip about the Cullen's sudden reappearance to keep Jessica Stanley occupied for weeks, and I had been forced, again, into the centre of attention. It had been excruciating. Or it would have been, if Edward hadn't been there. Whenever the staring got too much, or the whispers made me want to run far away from Forks and never return, his hand would touch mine, and an electric spark would leap from him to me and remind me why I was alive. I had forgotten how much I loved him, forgotten how beautiful he was, how his eyes burned into mine with that dazzling passion, because no weak human memory of mine could ever do any of it justice.
"Marry me" Edward whispered, his eyes blazing with the most intense love I had ever seen. I didn't think, I didn't even breathe.
"Yes." I whispered. Then my brain caught up with me. This couldn't be happening. He had left me. And then he had returned. But now he couldn't have proposed. That wasn't fair, A person couldn't have so many good things in one day. But even if he had… could I say yes? Renee would kill me if I got married so young, she had told me, my whole life, to take marriage seriously, wait until I was old enough to make a decision I wouldn't regret later. While my heart told me that I would never be able to regret marrying Edward, the little parental figure inside my head told me "You have your whole life ahead of you! You can't get married this young."
"No, Edward… I can't get married! I'm eighteen for god's sake!"
"Bella… Alice had another vision… the night I decided I had to come back to you. She saw you as one of us. I don't know if that's still what you want, but I thought you should hear it from me."
"Is that what you want?"
"No. Not because I don't want you by my side forever, of course I do. But this is not the life you deserve. The life of monster, a vampire. You deserve a full, human life, and then to die an old woman in your bed with all your grandchildren holding your hand. I can't take that life away from you and still be able to live with myself."
"Even if I'd wanted that life, I could never have it now. Even if my insane clumsiness doesn't kill me first, I'll never want anyone but you. Hence no grandchildren. Is that what you want, me a wizened old woman, lying dying in my bed, with you beside me, still perfect and seventeen for ever, and then you left alone for God knows how many more years."
"I wouldn't be left alone. I'd go to Italy and find someway to die."
I remembered the words he'd spoken to me before he'd left, so long ago, about the Volturi and how they did not take kindly to people who irritated them. The thought made me feel dizzy.
"No!" I gasped. "No you can't do that!"
"I'm not going to live without you Bella, I'm not that strong."
"Edward, you have to change me. I don't care about the stuff I'd be giving up, I have to be with you, for ever." I chuckled.
"What's so funny?" Asked Edward; he looked distraught.
"I just thought. I have no choice but to marry you at eighteen, since I'll probably be eighteen forever."
"Don't say that!"
"It's what I want Edward. Is it really not what you want?"
"Bella, you'll be the death of me. Of course it's what I want, to be with you for the rest of my existence. I want it more than anyone has ever wanted anything. But to do that I would have to make you give up your life, your soul, and I can't do that."
"Edward, look at me." He raised his tortured golden eyes to mine. "Do you think that I believe you have no soul? Or Carlisle and Esme, who are so compassionate and good? And even if we do have no future in the afterlife, we could conceivably never die, so that's all right. I don't need a heaven if I have you."
"So marry me."
He gently went down on one knee.
"I don't have a ring with me right now-"
"But if you will agree to be my wife, I promise I will love, care and protect you until the day I die. I will also… change you into a vampire, after the wedding."
I stared blankly at him.
"Bella, don't think about anyone else, or about what's expected of you and your generation. You are not, and will never be, ordinary, ordinary rules can't apply to us. Just do what's right for you."
"Yes." I whispered. "Yes, With all my heart. I will marry you."
I glanced down through the steam of the hot shower at the ring on my finger. Edward said it had belonged to his mother. It sparkled in the soft light. I was scared, but not badly. Soon we would have to tell Charlie, and everyone else in Forks would soon know. After that.. I didn't know. They would probably have to fake me death, to explain my sudden disappearance from the human world. But I wasn't thinking about that. I was going to marry Edward, the man I loved more than the world.
I stepped out of the shower and pulled on my old tee-shirt and sweatpants, brushed my teeth and washed my face.
When I stepped out of the door, Edward was waiting for me.