Second base BPOV

I opened my closet to look for something to wear. I wanted to look good today. Edward had been away hunting all weekend, and this trip had marked the first nights we'd been apart since we began experimenting about three weeks ago.

A bright blue silky blouse caught my eye. Alice had bought it for me a week or so ago on one of her epic shopping trips. Edward liked me in blue, so I put it on with my skinny jeans, and a favorite pair of earrings.

I was a little surprised when I looked in the mirror. The top was a little tighter, and much lower-cut than I was used to. But I thought I'd remembered Alice saying that Edward was sure to love it, so I left it on. She would know, after all. I grabbed a granola bar in the kitchen and headed to my truck.

When I pulled into the parking lot, Edward was waiting for me near where I normally parked, standing by Alice. My face broke out into a smile as soon as I saw him. I parked the truck as quickly as I could and jumped out.

As soon as I was close, I started talking. I had so much to tell my fiancé; it had been a particularly eventful weekend and I didn't usually go so long without talking to Edward. I didn't let him say a word until we were settled in our English classroom and the bell was about to ring.

"Nice shirt," he said. His voice sounded weird as he complimented me, like it was caught in his throat, and he was looking at Mr. McDonough sitting at his desk, rather than at me.

"Thanks!" I responded, looking down at myself. Maybe the blouse wasn't as revealing as I thought. "Alice got it for me." I informed him.

As we went from class to class, Edward seemed stiffer than usual. His movements were more guarded. I couldn't quite figure it out, and I thought I was probably imagining it. By the time Edward and I split up for our different classes, I had dismissed my observations completely.

"I have to talk to you," Angela whispered to me on our way from our journalism class to the cafeteria. Her tone was secretive and I could tell she meant for us to be alone.

"Ok," I said, as we claimed a corner table for ourselves. We made small talk as we went through the line, then sat down with our food. I sat back to peel my orange, raising my eyebrows in a silent question.

"On Saturday, I went over Ben's house, and we were alone there all afternoon."

My eyes widened. I was surprised Angela's parents would have allowed such a thing. Her dad was a minister and they'd been very strict with the rules for her relationship with Ben. She'd griped to me several times about how difficult it was to get any alone time with her boyfriend. "What did you all do?" I asked, intrigued.

"We kissed for about a solid hour!" she gushed. I giggled in response. It was rare to see Angela so excited, and I was happy for her; she deserved to have fun and feel loved.

"Details!" I egged her on.

"We were watching TV on the couch, and then his mom left the house, and we just looked at each other and I could tell he thought of it too…"

"I think we're alone now…" I sang the chorus of an old 80's song.

Angela danced in her chair and finished the line with me, "There doesn't seem to be anyone around…" We giggled some more. I knew we were being a little childish, but it felt good to act my age for once. No insane vampires trying to kill me, just my best (human) girl friend and I talking about boys.

"And then?" I prodded.

"Then he started kissing my neck and before I knew it we were lying down on the couch!"

I recalled her father's "three feet on the ground" rule. Angela had really been quite rebellious this weekend!

But there was more. She leaned closer. "And then, I felt his hands just below my breasts."

My eyes widened. "Did you let him…"

She nodded. "I had the quickest moment of indecision, and then I knew I wanted him to. He'd said some of the sweetest things, and, to tell you the truth, my body was just aching for it."

"Yeah," I said, thinking of the way Edward made me feel. "Did you take your shirt off?" I whispered. Now that I thought of it, that was something Edward and I had never done…

She shook her head. "I was afraid we'd get caught. But he did put his hand underneath it a little. No, actually, a lot!" she giggled, then paused for effect. "And then, his hand was on the button of my jeans."

I was really surprised at this. Did Angela and Ben have sex this weekend? Preacher's daughter Angela beat me to it? Me, who had used my monthly blood to seduce my vampire boyfriend into performing oral sex? Whose killer hand job skills had broken a lamp? I felt sure if they'd really done it, Angela would have started out with this fact rather than telling the story from the beginning the way she had. I think the look on my face must have shown my shock, because she rushed to reassure me.

"Just let me tell you what happened. It's not what you're thinking." She began again. "We'd been kissing so hard and so long and he was on top of me, and I could feel him, you know, pressed between my legs, and it felt good. It felt really good, and my hips were moving against him without me even really meaning them to, and then he put his hand on the button of my jeans. We stopped kissing and just looked at each other for a long time, catching our breaths and trying to think rationally. He said, 'I just want to touch you,' and I trusted him. I believed him when he said that's all we would do."

I wasn't sure what do think of that. The way she said it made me think that this wasn't all they had done, but her tone was still happy; she didn't seem to think he'd betrayed her or anything. "What did you do?" I asked.

"I was so turned on I just couldn't say no. I asked him about his mom, to make sure we wouldn't get caught, and he said he was sure she wouldn't be back for at least two hours, so I let him."

"Wow," I said. "How was it?"

"Amazing," she sighed. Her voice lowered so that I could barely hear her. "I think I had an orgasm," she whispered.

I squealed in delight for her, then covered my mouth, glancing around to make sure no one had heard.

"His fingers were so nimble," she giggled. "I think it's because he plays video games."

I laughed aloud, thinking of Edward's piano, confident my fiance's hands were even more talented than Ben's.

But Angela wasn't finished. "And then afterward, we were just lying there, and he was being so sweet, saying how happy he was and what a privilege it was that I let him touch me like that, and I wanted to, you know, do something for him too, like he'd done for me."

I gasped. I knew exactly the urge Angela was talking about. I had acted on it myself. "Did you touch him, then?" I asked.

"Well, yes, and—" she paused and looked a little uncomfortable. "I used my mouth."

I felt a flash of heat wash over my face, and I knew it was partly from the embarrassment I felt to be discussing such topics, but the other part of it was jealousy. I was jealous of my best friend Angela and her human boyfriend. Lucky Ben had no reason to fear he would inadvertently skewer his girlfriend's brains if she sucked him off. Lucky Angela got to worship her boyfriend's body without fearing for her life. She didn't have to be so careful that the whole thing seemed almost clinical. They didn't have to have endless discussions to convince each other that it was possible for them to have a sex life at all. They just did it. How nice for them.

"And how was that?" I asked, hoping my voice was even. I wanted to be encouraging and happy for Angela. It wouldn't be right if my pettiness spoiled this for her. I popped an orange slice in my mouth, feigning nonchalance.

"It was great. He absolutely loved it. It took some getting used to, but, yeah, I liked it. I didn't swallow though." She wrinkled her nose a little.

"Oh."

"It was the first time, you know, and I didn't know what to expect. I will sometime, I guess."

There was another pang of jealousy. Mr. Human's spunk wasn't poisonous. If she wanted, Miss Human, his lucky girlfriend, could swallow buckets of it without experiencing unknown, but surely severe, side effects.

"What about you and Edward?" Angela asked. "I've talked your ear off here and you've never told me anything about what you two do. You're engaged; this stuff probably seems like last year's news to you." She seemed embarrassed now, and I knew she'd picked up on my mood. I felt like a jerk, but the only way to salvage the situation was to confide in her the way she had in me.

"Well, we have stuck to the plan," I started. "We're still waiting." Angela knew what I meant because soon after announcing my engagement, I'd had a great heart-to-heart with her about waiting for marriage to have sex. It had been just what I needed at the time; she really helped me solidify my resolve.

"That's great," she grinned, "But are you doing other things?"

I grinned back, just remembering for a minute. "Well, it's kind of like you and Ben," I said slowly, "except he used his mouth on me."

"Oh my word!" Angela gasped, and I laughed at what I called her "preacher's daughter curse." "And he liked that?" she questioned, confused. Despite her eventful weekend, Angela had much left to learn, and many inhibitions left to lose, I realized. That made me feel worldly and grown-up, which, since I'm so petty, assuaged my jealousy a bit.

"Oh yeah," I assured her. "he liked it."

"It wasn't…messy?" Her face was scrunched up in distaste.

I almost laughed. It had most certainly been messy, but that was Edward's favorite part! "A little bit, but he didn't mind."

"It wasn't smelly?" she asked again. I wondered what she'd been taught about her body, that she was so concerned about the smell and "mess" created by normal body fluids. It gave me the urge to shock her.

I leaned in close. "He likes the smell."

Angela reddened and sputtered. "I'm sorry," she said to her lap after a pause. "You must think I'm a naïve little yokel."

I rolled my eyes. I would not have her disparaging herself like that. "And you must think I'm a shameless hussy." I teased.

She laughed. "Of course not! You're engaged, after all!" Her face changed, got more serious. "And it would be ok if you weren't, too," she said, more to herself than to me, I suspected.

"Hey," I touched her hand, "You don't feel guilty, do you?" I hoped that someday Angela would be confident enough in her body and secure enough in her sexuality that she could experience what I had (minus the blood, of course), but until then I wanted to make sure she didn't spoil her memory of the most intimate experience of her young life with needless regret.

She gave me a sad smile. "Well, I know my parents wouldn't like it if they knew, and I do sort of feel guilty about that aspect of it, but I can't bring myself to think it was wrong. I love him and he said he loves me and I believe him, and in the moment it just felt so right."

I nodded, knowing exactly what she meant. "Do you think you two will get married someday?" I asked, feeling silly the minute it was past my lips.

"Oh, I don't know about that." She looked sheepish, as if she were afraid to offend me by saying she wasn't ready for marriage. "We're not like you and Edward. We're young, and there's no way to know if it'll work out for us in the end. There are just so many variables with college and jobs and stuff, but right now…I hope he will turn out to be the one." Her smile was broad and blissful. "I'm glad we didn't go any further, just in case it doesn't work out in the long run, but right now, I'm so happy we…shared that." Her smile became softer, more secretive and adult. "I can't imagine I'll ever regret it."

"Yeah," I agreed dreamily, thinking of the kisses I shared with Edward just after one of us had climaxed.

"So you and Edward have been enjoying yourselves?" she asked coyly, sipping from her drink. She must have caught that look on my face.

"Oh yes," I searched my mind for a piece of information I could give her—something intimate, but not too intimate, and most importantly, something that would not give away the secret. I settled on vagueness. "He's so eager to please me. He always wants to make me feel good; he's always saying something romantic that just makes me melt. And then when I…do things for him, he's so grateful it just…"

"Kind of makes you overflow inside," she finished.

"Yeah," I agreed. That worked as well as anything.

I looked up and saw that people were gathering their things; lunch would be over in less than a minute. I pulled my bag over my shoulder and followed Angela to throw out our trash. I gave her a small hug before we parted at the door.

"Enjoy it, all right?" I told her.

"Yeah," she replied, grinning. "You too!"

I went down the hall and up the stairs to Calculus. Only a minute after I sat down, Edward came and fell into the chair beside mine.

"Come to my house after school," His voice was insistent; there was even a hint of begging in it.

"Um, ok" I replied, slightly confused about why he was using such an imperative tone. He knew I would go along with him no matter what he wanted to do. "Any reason?"

"Because I cannot wait until Charlie goes to sleep." His jaw was clenched, and the words barely made it past his lips.

"Oh!" He was that worked up just because he wanted to be alone with me? What was I in for this afternoon?

And, damn, but his jaw looked sexy all tensed like that.

I knew the color of my face gave away my thoughts to the whole class. I could not concentrate on the lesson, and knew I'd have to teach it to myself later.

As soon as school was over, Edward grabbed my hand and led me out of the building. I really had to work to keep up with him. When we walked right past my truck in the parking lot, I questioned him and he said we'd pick it up later. When he started the Volvo without waiting for Alice and the others, I asked about that too, and he dismissed his siblings casually.

This was Edward-on-a-mission, single-minded in pursuit of one all-important goal. It was totally hot, but also a little intimidating. I hoped I could handle whatever he had in mind.

I barely had time to notice that he'd turned off the Volvo's engine, when suddenly I found myself in his bedroom. He'd carried me upstairs at vampire speed. He set me down, and I held his shoulders for a second to help me balance.

"What brought this on?" I asked. My curiosity was getting unbearable. I only had one idea of what he might be thinking of doing, and it didn't seem likely. "We've still got another week…"

"That's not it," Edward replied, looking down at me with his eyes bright and intense. He touched my shoulder, rolling the fabric of my blouse between his fingers. "This blouse looks absolutely exquisite on you."

His voice melted me, and I found myself incapable of coherent speech. "Oh! I'm—uh—glad you like it," It was humiliating how he would make me act so foolish sometimes!

"I wanted to ask you," he began, and paused. He seemed to think better of what he'd been about to say. Before I could question him, he invited me to sit on the bed with him. He was being oddly formal, I thought.

"I know we've taken some steps in our relationship recently," Edward said. It was like he was submitting a proposal to a committee or something.

I nodded, smiling, to encourage him. If this had anything to do with our latest experimentations, it could not be a bad thing.

He grinned back at me. "And it's been wonderful." His tone warmed, and I was glad I'd broken through the façade of his formality. "There's something else I'd like us to try, if it's all right with you."

Something else? I wondered, excitement shooting through me. Something new? Was he actually advancing our physical relationship himself? It felt so good to be pursued for once, rather than to be constantly propositioning him. I remembered Angela's gift to Ben, and reminded myself not to get my hopes up. There was no way Edward would allow that, and he would be too much of a gentleman to suggest such a thing himself anyway. What else might he want to do?

"Sure, what?" I asked, suppressing my urge to bounce on the bed.

He paused again; I could see him struggling with his early-20th-century reticence. "Can we start this way?" he moved forward, eyes on my lips. I met him halfway, full of anticipation. Not knowing what to expect from him made me alert and hyper-sensitive to his touches and kisses. I rested my wrists on his shoulders as we kissed, his tongue darting out to taste my lower lip. His hands caressed my sides and back as the kiss deepened. I wanted to recline and luxuriate in his arms like this for hours, my body completely relaxed. As I was about to lean back, I felt his arms tense around me, anchoring me in place sitting up.

Suddenly, he broke the kiss and touched his forehead to mine.

"May I?" His hand moved on me, drawing my attention to its position: just to the side of my breast.

He wanted to touch me.

Disbelieving, I pulled back to look at him. Was he really asking to touch my breast? Didn't he know that my body belonged utterly to him, from the hand that had pleasured him, to the heartbeat he would end someday? His tongue had been inside me, for god's sake!

And yet, the thought of those slim, talented fingers on my curves, exploring the one part of my body they'd never touched, drove me wild.

I could not think of a strong enough affirmative.

I opened my mouth to say, "Of course!" but my voice betrayed me. I didn't trust myself not to squeak, so I just nodded, hoping the rapid movements of my chin would communicate my eagerness.

I wanted to kiss him, but he rested his cheek against mine instead, as he moved his hand forward at an agonizingly slow pace. His touch was feather light, which was sweet, but frustrating; I wanted to feel him solidly gripping me, imposing himself on me. When his hand was aligned, I moved into it, wanting to feel my body yield to his hard hands. I almost moaned, but, thankfully, my voice was still out of commission.

And then his hand was gone. Before I could pull away to question him, I felt his other hand on my left side, preparing to repeat the maneuver. He was being very methodical about this.

When I pushed into his palm again, he seemed to get the picture, and began to use more force. I felt my heart racing; the feeling was wonderful. He made a pattern with his fingertips, tracing from the edges to the tip, and then back. He cupped me and moved his hand in circles over me.

Our lips found each other and we began to kiss while his hands explored me. I felt his lip trembling and reminded myself to keep the kiss light for his sake. He held me around the back with one arm, while the other hand caressed and massaged me. I loved feeling that pressure on my rib cage from both sides; Edward's focus on my body was so intense. My upper body loosened under his hands and my back arched into him. I felt that familiar tightening between my legs as his hands worked their magic on me.

I felt his hand on my cheek and neck, and the emotion that came into our kiss in that moment nearly brought tears to my eyes. I suddenly understood one of the reasons behind his hesitation in our physical relationship. Just as his love for me outweighed his thirst for my blood, it also outweighed his lust for my body. He never wanted to make me feel used or objectified or pressured. As if he could. Even if he did let his lust take over sometime, chances were, I'd like it. His concern was needless, of course, but sweet just the same.

He broke the kiss again, and his cheek took the place of the palm that had been cradling my face. I took the chance to catch my breath. With my attention no longer split between my lips and my breasts, I was able to notice the soft touch of Edward's fingertips as they traveled down my neck and finally came to rest on the top button of my blouse.

Oh, my God. He wanted to take my shirt off.

I was so shocked at this very un-Edward-like behavior that I pulled away to look at him.

"May I?" he repeated. His eyes brimmed with sincerity.

I nodded again. As his fingers fumbled with the button, he leaned in to kiss me, but his lips landed on the edge of my mouth, teasing me. It took him a surprisingly long time to unfasten that button; I thought I might have detected a slight tremor in his fingers. While I waited eagerly for him to reveal my cleavage, his lips moved down my jaw and to my neck. Thrilled, I sat up straighter, making it easier for him to reach me as he kissed the soft skin over my breastbone. Finally, the button gave, and he pressed his lips to the lowest spot revealed. It made me gasp, clutching his hair. My panties were more than a little damp. Then he traced the wide, round neckline of the blouse with his lips, until he kissed my collarbone. By the time he reached my shoulder, the second button was undone. With aching slowness, he made his way back down to the area so recently covered by my shirt. Upon arriving in the center, his eyes closed reverently, and he seemed to take a moment to prepare himself before brushing his slightly open mouth across the valley between my breasts.

I needed nothing more than to kiss him, to show him how glad I was that he enjoyed my body this way, how elated I was to have the chance to give this part of me to him too. I found his chin with my fingers and pressed up on it. For a second I thought he might ignore me or not notice, he was so intent on kissing my cleavage. But he did come up, meeting my eyes with a gaze that electrified me before crashing his lips against mine.

As his tongue entered my mouth, I felt a soft touch on the skin just above my right breast. There was chilly air on my chest, and I knew Edward had unbuttoned my shirt even more. By now my bra would be showing. I cursed myself for wearing a plain white cotton bra, rather than some of the more interesting lingerie Alice had bought me.

His hands were in a new position by now, thumbs just under my breasts and fingers wrapping around the sides of my rib cage. It made my body feel so small to be encompassed by him this way. He used this tight hold to pull me up to him, meeting his lips halfway. In the second before his mouth touched the spot right above the middle of my bra, I saw his eyes looking at my chest as if it was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.

He kissed every inch of my breast that was not covered by the bra, moving rapidly from the left to the right. I felt his fingers near my stomach, working on the remaining buttons. This is really happening, I told myself. Edward is taking my shirt off.

He gathered me to him again, placing his palms on my cheeks and bringing my lips to his. There was that same sort of gratitude in his kiss that I usually felt only after touching him and giving him pleasure.

He touched his forehead to mine, as we both caught our breath. His hands slipped from my cheeks, resting near my neck for an instant. Then, with a deep exhalation, he nudged the blouse past the tips of my shoulders. It fell around my wrists and I slipped them out of it.

I gathered my courage. It was time to let him see all of me. I met his eyes with all the confidence I could muster as I leaned back onto the pillows. He followed eagerly.

His hands traveled lightly all over my body, touching my stomach as well as my breasts. It felt like he was positively worshipping me; it was marvelous. We kept kissing all the time, light, short meetings of our lips full of tenderness and care.

Feeling mischievous, I pulled at his shirt until it was all gathered under his arms. When he figured out what I wanted, he sat up with that crooked smile on his face. I watched his stomach muscles contract as he crossed his arms to pull the shirt over his head. I'd seen Edward shirtless a few times, but each time he took my breath away. Coming at a time when I was already so aroused, it was almost too much. I couldn't resist touching his chest, stomach and back, marveling at the hard solidity underneath the smooth texture of his skin. His arms tightened around me and I felt our torsos come into contact.

He rolled us a little, so I was on my back and he balanced over me on his hands and knees. Beginning with my jaw, he kissed a straight line down to the button of my jeans, interrupted only by the tiny strip of fabric in the center of my bra. I found myself grinning broadly as I touched his neck and hair. It tickled a little as he traveled around my side. I was glad I was lying flat; it made the small pinch of fat between my belly button and the waistband of my jeans just about disappear. When he kissed that area, it made me ache with the memory of those lips just a little further down, his eyes peering up at me from between my legs…

After he seemed to judge himself finished with my stomach, he gave me a quick kiss on the mouth with an impish smile, then arranged himself on top of me again. He settled his elbows at my sides so that his face balanced just above my breasts, and continued kissing all the exposed skin in the area. The gathering feeling in my core was rapidly intensifying. When he rubbed his face over my bra, pressing with his nose almost exactly into my nipple, that was when I decided: even this small piece of fabric was too much of a barrier between us. I wanted him to have free rein over my entire body.

I pushed on his shoulder to get his attention, then sat up, my heart pounding. I was a little nervous; I couldn't help comparing my body to Rosalie's, and to the mental image I had of perfect Tanya. My breasts were small, and more pointed than round. They weren't much to look at, but they were his.

I reached behind me and found the clasp of my bra. Edward's eyes never left mine. His gaze was intense, and I thought I saw his throat move as he swallowed, preparing himself. There was that same look of determination and respect on his face. After I'd thrown the bra to the floor, I opened my arms to him, inviting him in.

He lay on top of me, lightly—he almost never put his full weight on me, not that he was very heavy—and we kissed deeply, our tongues caressing each other. I felt my nipples hardening from being in contact with his cold chest. The kiss went on and on, driving straight through me from my lips to my sex, where my heat was reaching a dangerous level. After a while I couldn't take it anymore, and ripped my lips away from his.

Edward paused, touching his forehead to mine. Then I felt his lips on my neck and his soft declaration of love in my ear, and he was going down, bringing his face level with my newly exposed breasts. He touched me lightly, watching the skin change color and break out in goosebumps. His hands gripped me firmly, massaging with soothing circular motions. He gathered my flesh in both hands, pressing it to the center and creating a tight crevice into which he buried his nose.

It went on and on—he used his mouth as well as his hands on me, stroking and even licking my sensitive skin until I was soft and pliable like putty. It was not just the wonderful physical sensations that were turning me on so much, but the love and tenderness he was communicating with every touch. My hips were pinned under his stomach, and the sensations shooting through my body were making them tremble and jerk, seeking contact, seeking release, seeking him. When his lips and tongue came in contact with my stiff nipples, it finally became too much.

"You're driving me crazy!" I cried out, unable to restrain myself any longer.

Edward apologized, his face stricken. I was in no mood for any of his guilt and self-flagellation; I just wanted him to finish what he'd started. I ignored his apology and asked him to touch me, unbuttoning my jeans with one hand. He got the picture.

Together we worked to unzip my jeans and pull them off. After he pushed the heavy cloth over my ankle, his hand trailed up my leg, lingering on my thigh and stopping on my mound, cupping me possessively. I parted my legs and his fingers moved on me over my panties and it felt wonderful, but it wasn't enough.

"Touch me under…please…" I whispered. I wasn't quite begging, but I was close.

My core positively ached with being empty. I wanted more than anything to feel him filling me. But I knew—in a detached, intellectual way that had absolutely nothing to do with what my body was telling me—we couldn't do that yet.

As if he'd read my mind, Edward slid a cool finger under my panties and straight inside my opening, making me gasp. Reflexively, my inner walls squeezed him, as if my body wanted to keep him there. However, he quickly withdrew, kissing me apologetically and concentrating his touches on a more sensitive area just above my wet slit. Embarrassed, I buried my face in his neck.

He wouldn't let me conceal myself. He pushed his face into the small space between my cheek and his shoulder, nosing me out of hiding. Our eyes met, and the combination of acceptance and desire I saw overcame me, and then we were kissing again.

This was amazing. Feeling him kiss my lips while his talented fingers worked their magic below my waist—it was indescribable. There was only one thing that could possibly make it better…

I pulled away from his mouth just long enough to arrange his left arm around me, draping it strategically. He understood quickly, tightening his arm around my shoulders and stroking my breast with his gentle hand. This position was too much—I had his lips and both hands working simultaneously on the most sensitive parts of my body. Rather than splitting my attention, the various pleasures he gave me with his hands and lips multiplied and amplified each other, driving me ever more rapidly toward oblivion.

There was only one thing wrong with what we were doing. It was so one-sided; it was all him giving to me, from the moment we got to his room. I wanted more than anything to touch him too, to return some of the pleasure he gave to me, but that wasn't the only reason. I wanted to make him feel as great as I did, sure, but, I realized, I also wanted to touch him because it turned me on too. There was no sight I found more erotic than Edward giving himself over to pleasure, no feeling more sexy than the hardness of his shaft in my hand.

And so, when I reached a new level of pleasure, so close to my completion, I could not resist reaching for him.

The second my hand came in contact with his erection through his pants, Edward halted. His left hand stopped pinching my nipple, his lips stopped moving on mine, and, most distressingly, his right hand stopped stroking my clitoris. I should have known he wouldn't be ok with me grabbing him like that! Cursing myself, I moved my hips rapidly against his frozen hand, trying to generate the friction that would take me over the edge.

I saw Edward steel himself and come back to me. His hands moved again, his lips kissed me with renewed fervor, and he even gave a tiny thrust of his hips, pressing himself into my hand. When I found the head and stroked it, he moaned, and that sound was what finally brought me release. I moaned in response, the sound singing straight into Edward's throat. My body filled with tingling heat and I convulsed involuntarily.

I returned to myself with a sigh, and turned immediately to my lover, pressing my face against his cool chest. His hands caressed my backside as we lay there in each others' arms, giving me goosebumps that weren't only from the temperature.

"I'm sorry I stopped…" he began

"Oh, shush." I snapped. "I shouldn't have grabbed you like that. I took you by surprise. I know that makes things hard for you."

"That's no excuse…" he insisted.

"I said, shush! I'm glowing here, all right? Stop interrupting!" I hit his arm and he chuckled. I shifted in his arms, making myself comfortable. I felt so sated and relaxed I almost wanted to take a nap.

For some reason, my conversation with Angela came into my mind, making me feel utterly foolish. I had two separate and opposite revelations:

One: in the past blissful half hour or so, I'd barely thought at all about Edward being a vampire. That situation was so totally under control that it didn't even register, especially in comparison with the intense pleasure I'd experienced. We'd acted just like any normal, human, lust-filled teenage couple! I wasn't missing out on a thing. Thinking of that was so liberating.

And yet, two: Our intimacy had been achieved at great risk and with much effort, and that was what made it so beautiful. The struggles and difficulties Edward and I had endured, the obstacles to our relationship we'd overcome, were not problems at all, but evidence of our love. Knowing how hard it had been for Edward to learn to be close to me, and that he'd fought to do it anyway because he believed I was worth the pain and thirst—that knowledge made all our intimacy an incredible gift, one that most teenage girls would never receive. My jealousy had not just been petty: it was completely wrong-headed. What Edward and I had was better than anything a "normal" teenage couple could ever experience, and now I finally appreciated that.

As I was thinking about this, I felt Edward open his mouth. Tuning back into him, I knew instantly what he was going to say, and I didn't want to hear it.

"Don't you dare try to thank me, Edward Cullen!" I jabbed a finger into his chest. "When are you going to understand that I like it too, that you give just as much to me as I do to you, no matter which of us gets off? You can't thank me for something that's already yours!"

"I know," he said, somewhat sheepishly, "but I just want to let you know that I'm grateful for your continuing gifts of yourself. Just because you're already mine doesn't mean I'm going to take you for granted."

I couldn't really argue too much with that, and since I thought he'd got my message, I was prepared to let it drop. Just then, Edward's phone vibrated with a warning of the impending return of his siblings. We dressed and went downstairs to Edward's piano.

He played a new song for me. I really enjoyed that, if for no other reason than because watching Edward's fingers pounding the keys reminded me how just minutes earlier they had played me so well, allowing me to linger in the pleasure I'd just received. It sounded kind of like my lullaby, but faster, and with a much happier ending. It didn't sort of peter out and give up the way the lullaby did. Instead, there was this sense of resolution. The song was uninhibited, resolute, passionate in an almost wild way. It sounded very—sexy, actually. It somehow made me feel like Edward was really and truly in agreement with my changing, even ready and eager for it, and that was such a relief and a delight to me.

When he finished, I heard a round of applause behind us, and I knew his siblings had heard most of the music. I blushed immediately, knowing the sensuality of the song would probably lead them to make guesses about what Edward and I had been up to. However, I needed to get used to that. Determinedly, I took Edward's chin between my fingers and placed a lingering kiss on his lips.

Emmett's loud laugh sounded behind us. "I think I know who's conducting this symphony," he boomed between guffaws.

Huh? It must have been some Cullen family private joke. I contented myself with the thought that before long, I'd be in on all their secrets and jokes too. This would be my family, and my home. I couldn't wait.