"Bella?" a velvet-soft voice stirred me from my dreams.
"Mmm" I mumbled slightly incoherently as I stuffed my face back into my pillow.
"You're talking in your sleep again" the voice quivered as if it were trying to suppress a chuckle. It took me a few seconds to register who that beautiful voice belonged to. "Morning" I smiled through sleepy eyes.
"You have no idea how adorable you are when you're all fuddled with sleep" Edward whispered huskily. "Mmm" I murmured again as I snuggled closer to his ice cold, rock hard chest. He really did chuckle then, his chest bumping against my head as he laughed.
"It's not polite to comment on a woman's appearance first thing in the morning" I growled, slightly miffed. "You, my love, are breathtaking any time of day… or night" he whispered into my ear seductively as he pressed gentle kisses to my jaw line. I simply could not help myself from turning slightly, to give him better access to the rest of my face. The kisses continued to blaze across my jaw, down the column of my neck and back up, where he eventually placed small, tender kisses to my lips. I tried to stay really still and enjoy the sensation of his ice cold lips whispering against my skin. My heart beat started to accelerate as the pressure of his lips increased on mine. I twisted my hands into his golden, copper hair, trying to pull him closer to me. He smiled into my lips as he gently pulled away. "Tease" I groaned at him.
"It's one way to make sure you wake up" he grinned at me, his topaz eyes sparkling. He was so damn sexy; I felt my heart rate increase, simply from looking at him. He laughed a low, seductive laugh as he no doubt heard it splutter. "That and the fact that today is our wedding day" he smirked.
"Oh, gosh! Oh gosh! What am I still doing in bed?" I asked "Alice is going to flip! We have so many things to do, hair, nails, make-up…" my ramblings were effectively silenced as Edward caught my face between his cold hands and stared down at me, dazzling me with his beautiful golden eyes, that swam with warmth and happiness. "Bella, you silly girl, just relax, take a deep breath. Today is meant to be the most amazing day of our lives, today you truly become mine, all mine"
"That would be the point, but if I don't get my butt out of bed soon, Alice will kill me for wasting her precious 'Barbie-time' with me, and where will that leave us?" I grinned at him. "Come to think about it, where is Alice? I'm sure she would've been jumping up and down in excitement and irritation by now?" I mused, a bit at loss for the absence of the little black-haired pixie I had come to view as my own sister. "She is under direct orders to allow you to get up at your own pace this morning, regardless of what catering calamity there may be" Edward pointed out matter-of-factly to me.
"Now I definitely know why I love you, you are a real gem, you know that?" I said all the while batting my eye lashes at him furiously. "I tell myself that while looking in the mirror, every morning" he said with a wicked grin. I couldn't help myself and burst into a fit of giggles at his light hearted mood. He slowly raised himself from the bed and looked down at me, adoration shining brightly in his eyes. "It's time for this 'gem' to make his escape, one really can't push Alice too far you know" With that, there was a loud knock on the door. Alice's beautiful wind-chime voice called out "Edward! I have met with your demands, now you need to get out, so us ladies can start getting ready! So much to do, so little time, I'm sure you catch my drift and I'm also sure that you can manage to tear yourself away from your bride-to-be for a few hours 'til the wedding ceremony. Now, skidaddle!" The last few words were said while Alice opened the door and revealed herself to be carrying a huge tray. "I come bearing gifts" She announced while placing the very laden tray on the bedside table. "More like bribes, if you ask me" I mumbled without enthusiasm as I stuffed my face back into my pillow. "Nothing like hot, strong coffee to wake you up" she said sweetly too sweetly. I was really starting to get excited about the wedding, not so much the whole clichéd affair, but more about finally really belonging to Edward and there was definitely some excitement about after the wedding when Edward and I were alone as husband and wife and him fulfilling a promise to me about a very specific human experience. But first I had to survive beautician Alice and her evil sidekick Rosalie. "Earth to Bella! Whatever you are thinking, I would say that you should stop, your blushing a new shade of pink, that I haven't seen on you before" Alice's voice interrupted my reverie. "Ugh Alice! I haven't even been awake for 10 minutes yet, give me a break" I whined in her general direction, still not opening my eyes. "Edward, can't we revisit the idea of having a quickie wedding in Vegas? That would mean I could skip all the torture she has planned for me?" I asked, with my face still pressed into the pillow and pointing in the general direction that Alice's voice had come from. "I would love to say 'whatever you want', but I do have some sort of self preservation, Bella, and I really don't want to test Alice today." He spoke from somewhere very close by and my heart reacted to his beautiful voice instantaneously. "Besides, I do know that you are very keen to try on your wedding dress and imagine what Rene would think, after coming all this way, to have her only child skip out on her and elope. Scandalous!"
"I hate it when you get all logical" I huffed and proceeded to pull myself into a sitting position, resting my back against the head board of Edwards ornate wrought iron bed- soon to be our bed. "There's the face of the woman I know and love. Now, drink your coffee before it gets cold, eat some breakfast that poor Esme has been slaving over all morning and have fun with the girls. After all, it's not every day that a girl gets to marry her teenage, vampire sweetheart, with almost the whole town in attendance." He smirked, adding the last bit in, just for my benefit. He knew how I felt about it.
After all the invites had been sent out, I had pretty much holed up at the Cullens' house. The looks I got from the folk in town, was enough to make my stomach lurch just at the memory. I was eternally glad that I did not have Edward's ability to read the thoughts of others, I'm sure I would have had a nervous breakdown by now. Charlie had taken the news quite well, simply stating that he wasn't surprised and as long as I knew in my heart that this is what I wanted, then he would support me. His love for me was so plainly obvious on his face that night, that I was lost for words. Rene was another matter all together. Once she had gotten over her hysterics, she started getting excited. She and Alice had been in contact every day for the past few weeks and I' sure she knew more about what was going on than I did.
"Edward, you need to go, now!" Alice's voice pierced my musings for the second time this morning. I looked up at Edward, who was looking at me with a slight hint of concern in his eyes. "It's too late to have seconds thoughts now Bella" He tried to sound as if he was joking, but there was a sliver of seriousness in his voice. "Nice try, but you aren't getting rid of me that easily" I answered him smoothly. "I was just thinking back over the last few weeks, I can't believe how quickly they have gone by" I added for his benefit. He sat on the edge of the bed as he took my hand into his cold one. "You have no idea how these last weeks have dragged by for me, I started thinking that this day would never come, and now that it has, I better leave before Alice rips me to shreds for wasting her grooming time" He smiled down at me, quickly pressed a kiss to the crown of my head and stood up to leave. "I will see you in a few hours, it's going to be torture to be away from you, but it'll be so worth it" He touched a icy finger to my pouting lips and added quietly "I love you Bella, I can't wait for you to be my wife" There was a loud hiss of irritation from Alice, "Get out Edward, before I call Jasper and Emmett to help you out" she stated hands on her hips. "Okay Alice, relax, I'm going" He sighed, but quickly ducked his head and crushed my lips to his. My body reacted immediately. I wrapped my arms around his neck and raised myself to my knees and kissed him back with all the passion and love I had inside me. He slowly withdrew from me, winked and sped out the door before Alice could have any more to say to him.
I sat on the bed, dazed by the sheer magnitude of emotions that Edward had managed to ignite within me, with one kiss. Tonight was really going to be wonderful if Edward's kisses were anything to go by.
"Ok, time to get out of bed, Bella. I'm serious now. There is a lot to do today and you lying in bed is seriously starting to get to me." She tried the hard approach and if I ignored her, she would put on her sad puppy face and that I always fell for, so I decided to save myself the trouble and started to get out of bed. Alice handed me an assortment of shampoos, scrubs and oils to use in the shower. Trying to balance them all in one arm, I snaked my hand out to grab the now lukewarm coffee and drank it in huge gulps. Alice just stood and stared at me, her golden eyes, now full of humour. "Might as well start the day off with a high dose of caffeine, if I'm going to survive all the primping and preening I have no doubt you have planned for me" I muttered as I made my way to Edward's bathroom.
Once out the shower, which took a considerably long time, with me having to follow all the instructions Alice hollered at me from the other side of the bathroom door, I wrapped myself in a massive fluffy bath sheet, wrapped another one around my hair and made my way back out to Alice. "One down, 37 to go" Alice said mostly to herself I assumed, grinning at the thought of the mental checklist she no doubt had in her head.
The morning passed in a blur of makeup and hairspray. All I had to do was sit there and pick at the sumptuous breakfast Esme had made for me, while Alice and Rosalie buzzed around me.
"Time for the dress" Alice squealed in delight. I couldn't believe how quickly time had just flown by. Alice grabbed me by the arm and proceeded to march me to the middle of her room. She grabbed the gown that I had been wearing over my very lacy, very revealing corset and garter set. I blushed about thirteen shades of pink, red, scarlet and vermillion from standing in front of these two exquisitely beautiful women, in my skimpy under garments. "Alice, we should have gotten her the black lingerie, it wouldn't pick up the red as much as the white does" Rosalie commented, looking at me with mock seriousness. I would have gotten upset, had it not been for the kind look in her eyes. Rosalie had extended a tentative hand of friendship to me over the last few weeks, which I was ecstatic about. We were by no means anywhere close to having the relationship Alice and I had, but hopefully over time, we would develop one that had its own uniqueness.
Alice arrived back after disappearing into her enormous walk-in closet, with my wedding dress in its garment bag. She hung it from a hook at the back of her bathroom door and unzipped it slowly. She carefully slipped the cover off the dress and then the dress off the hanger. She carried the dress almost reverently to me. Even after all the fittings and adjustments, it still managed to take my breath away with its sheer beauty. I felt my fingers and toes curl in anticipation of putting it on. Rosalie helped Alice undo the gazillion pearly buttons down the back, had it been me attempting this task, I would still be here this time tomorrow, but with their speed and dexterity as vampires, they were done in mere seconds. I held my arms up as they lifted the dress over me and slid it down my body. The feel of the silk and lace against my skin, was delicious. They redid the buttons in even less time than it had taken them to undo them. Rosalie tugged at the dress in a few places to get it to sit just right around my bust and hips. "Now for the shoes" Alice said, and in a flash, she was back with an ornate shoe box in her hands. He lifted the lid and peeled back layers of tissue paper. She extracted the ivory pumps from the box. The silver embroidery shimmered in the light from the overhead fixtures. She deftly slid them onto my feet.
I heard a door close quietly and looked up to see Rosalie with a large jeweller's case in her hands. I had been so preoccupied with my shoes that I had not even noticed her leave the room. "Edward wanted us to make sure that you wear these with your dress" she stated simply as if answering the question that I'm sure she saw in my eyes. "They belonged to his mother." There was no way that I could refuse. I would do anything to make him happy. Rosalie approached me slowly and once she was standing directly in front of me, she opened the case. I gasped at the sheer brilliance of the jewels that sparkled with a luminosity that took my breath away. Inside the large case, lay a tiara that was made up of hundreds of tiny diamonds that lay in tiny rosettes. There was a white gold necklace with a single tear drop diamond on the end and lastly there was a bangle. The bangle was also white gold with tiny diamonds embedded in the shiny surface. The arrangement of the diamonds matched that of the tiara. I stood dumbfounded, while Alice put the tiara on and arranged the veil behind it, carefully pinning it into my lustrous curls with diamante bobby pins. Rosalie gentled fastened the necklace around my neck and slid the bangle onto my arm. They both stepped back to admire their handy work. "Wow" they said in unison. "Bella, you look so beautiful…wow!" Alice stammered, which was very unusual for her. Rosalie but her hand on my shoulder and gently pivoted me to look into the full length mirror Alice had hanging on one wall. I stared in amazement at my reflection. If I didn't know it was me, I would have thought this to be a complete stranger. The dress fit me like a glove, the silk and lace gathered in all the right places, set off my curves just right. The bodice with its beautiful crystal beadwork showed of a modest amount of cleavage (thanks to the very tight corset). My hair hung in heavy curls down my back and my makeup was light and natural. But I was glowing. I was really glowing, not like the red emergency beacon glowing, that I'm used to, but more like a soft golden, heavenly serene glowing. Amazing.
"Thank you" was all I managed to say all the while still staring at the beautiful girl in the mirror. "Bella, Rene and Esme want to come up and see you. We have to go and get ready, there are only 45 minutes left, before we have to leave for the chapel" Alice whispered gently into my ear. I simply nodded. They left in a blur to get dressed into their brides maids dresses in Emmett and Rosalie's room.
There was a soft knock on the door. Esme entered the room first. From across the room, her smile brought tears to my eyes. This woman, this kind, gentle woman, was going to be my mother for all eternity and I was so honoured. She opened her arms and drew me into her embrace. We stood like that for a few minutes, before she whispered into my hair. "We all love you Bella, you have brought so much laughter, colour and light into our lives. What you have done for Edward, I don't know how I'll ever be able to thank you enough. I am so glad that you are becoming a part of this family. I want you to know that no matter what happens, we will all always love you and that your place will always be with us." With that, she gently kissed my cheek and stared into my eyes that were brimming with tears. She smiled a soft smile at me, and slowly turned to walk out the room. Once again, all I could say was thank you.
After Esme had departed, my mom slipped quietly into the room and stopped in her tracks. "Who are you and what have you done with my daughter" She called out to me. I burst out laughing, which was exactly what I needed to release all the emotions that had been building inside me. She came over to me and draped her arm across my shoulder while looking into the mirror at me. "You are beautiful Bella. Alice and Rosalie have done a marvellous job" she commented, with a huge grin on her face.
"Thanks mom, I'm sure it's a surprise to see me in anything other than jeans and a t-shirt" I said sarcastically
"It sure is, you clean up really nicely. You should let Alice dolly you up more often." She said absently. " I would rather chew my own arm off than allow Alice to torture me on a regular basis" I chuckled at the thought of Alice watching me chew at my arm, to keep her makeup brushes away from me.
"Bella, on a more serious note, I know that I initially gave you a hard time about getting married so young, but I have decided that if it makes you happy, then I'm happy. Edwards really loves you. You can see it in the way he looks at you. His family are wonderful and have accepted you fully as well. You will have a very secure future with them around to look after you." This was the most my mom had ever had to say about the family I was about to become apart of. "I want you to know that I love you and please Bella, for goodness sake, wait a few years before you have babies". That was so like her, to say something so deep and emotional and then finish it off with a joke. "Ugh! Mom! That's gross, I don't think I ever want to have kids! Maybe one day when you can grow them in a tank and all you have to do is feed them every day like fish, maybe then." I grinned at her and rolled my eyes. "Well, your father is waiting for you down stairs, and if we don't hurry, we'll be late and we don't want Edward thinking you aren't going to show up" She giggled and led me to the door.
As we descended down the stair case, I saw Charlie look up at me and his eyes filled with tears, which in turn caused mine to start swimming. This just wouldn't do. No wonder Alice insisted on waterproof eyeliner and mascara. As I reached the bottom step, Charlie hurried forward and took my right hand. "You are breathtaking Bells" was all he said and it made my heart lurch to think that I would soon be leaving him forever. "You ready?" he asked quietly. "As ready as I'll ever be" was the only response I could think of.
We made our way out the house. Charlie was thrilled that Edward had asked him to take me to the chapel in the Vanquish. I think Charlie was more excited about the drive to the chapel than anything else that was going to happen today.
The drive was quiet. Charlie and I had always been great with comfortable silences. Police chief and all, didn't stop Charlie from arriving at the chapel sooner than we should have, he just couldn't help stretching Edward's beautiful car's legs as he put it. Once we arrived, Charlie got out and came around to my side of the car to open it for me. He helped me out and we made our way to the entrance of the chapel.
Something was not right. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end. Charlie didn't seem too perturbed by anything. As we neared the chapel, I couldn't see Alice and Rosalie waiting for me as they should have been. I wrenched my arm out of Charlie's grasp, gathered up my dress and sped towards the chapel. I threw the huge, ornate doors open. It was empty. It was dark and empty and Edward was not there. I felt my heart being crushed in my chest. I turned to look for Charlie, but he was also gone. "Edward!" I screamed in panic as I ran into the chapel. There was no reply. Suddenly, I was thrown into darkness. The doors had closed. "Edward!" I screamed again, rooted into place by fear and panic. I could not see or hear anything. What was happening? Where was everyone? I started to run in random directions to find an exit, but couldn't feel a door or window. Why would Edward leave me like this and Alice, why? I slowly sank to the dusty floor, exhausted by my efforts to try and find a way out. The only thought that went through my mind as I lay down, was 'why?'
I suddenly sat bolt upright. I was totally disorientated. What was I doing in my old bed, in my old room at Charlie's house? My breath was being ripped out of my chest in painful bursts. It all fell into place. He had left me, again, he had left me a week before our wedding. But this time he hadn't left for my sake, he had left me for her. Rage and anger boiled together, with a fury that punched the air out of my lungs and once that had dissipated, I was relieved to find myself totally numb, totally devoid of any emotion.