Disclaimer: I am not Stephenie Meyer. More's the pity.
"Edward," my beautiful Bella sighed below me. I trailed kisses over her face and felt the venom pool in my mouth as I headed towards the pulse point in her throat. Her blood sang and pounded against my lips and every muscle in my body ached to free it, to feel the searing spray of her essence in my mouth. I took a deep breath of her torturous scent and murmured against her hot skin.
Since the day in the meadow when I gave myself to her, I had lowered our boundaries – both testing my control for rapidly forthcoming wedding night and silently begging Bella to lower her own boundaries, to give in to the thing I knew she wanted more than anything else. Me.
The Smiths CD I loaned her played softly in the background. I smiled against her skin when I thought about how Morrissey and Marr could only be mood music for teenage lovers. Never before had I revelled in my teenage status until I met Bella. I was willing, for short periods of time, to play my age happily and act the role of Bella's contemporary and co-conspirator. At least when we were alone in her room.
As I rained kisses over her beautiful collarbone, I thought about just how greedy I could be with Bella. I shared her reluctantly with Alice, although I tried to make it look effortless – if I showed Bella just how difficult it was for me to leave her presence, she'd never let me go. And I had hated sharing her with the mongrel at all. Even though he was now God knows where, I had to let her go for her own safety as their methods of finding time together were becoming dangerous, but I had hated it and begrudged him every second of her company. I was torn between wishing he were gone permanently, never to darken our doorsteps again and wishing him to find his imprint, to find his own happiness, so Bella could live guiltless and happy with me. Either way, I wanted Jacob Black to cease being a concern for her. And for me.
I breathed a cold breath over her skin and delighted in her shiver and the tiny noises that escaped between her gasping lips. I hoarded those secret noises like a miser stockpiling pennies. I sighed as I felt Bella's shaking fingers unbuttoning my shirt. Her hands plucked at my shirt sleeves, and the part of me that could admit the baser parts of my nature looked forward to when she would be strong enough to simply rip it off. I helped her and shrugged it off, not caring where it landed. Her leg hitched over my hip and Bella wriggled beneath me. She always wanted to know if her blood or her body called more to me, and had I been completely honest with her, I would have to say in almost every case since our return from the Volturi, it was her body. I wondered if, once she was changed (for it seemed a drawn conclusion now, no matter how hard I tried to fight it); her power would be that of the Denali women. That Bella would be a succubus would be no stretch of the imagination to me.
I pressed my lips against hers and then sighed as she opened her mouth to me. I gave her my tongue, savouring the twin burns on my lips and in my throat. She tasted soft and sweet, better than anything I could remember tasting in this so-called life or my previous human existence. There was nothing finer than my Bella.
As my hand teased its way up her leg, her lips, so hot and so full and pounding with her blood, feverishly kissed my exposed skin. I let her. The entire world revolved around to how close she was to me and I wasn't about to put another inch there. I savoured the confusion that spun my head while I was so intimate with Bella. I let my eyes fall closed and let myself wallow in the sensation of her pulse beating in her fingertips, the luxurious warmth in her open-mouthed kisses on my chest and the musical thump of her heart beating furiously in her chest. Bella hadn't an ounce of artifice in her body, so the sensation of being wanted by her was something so basic, beautiful and pure that I had no desire to stop it. I was long past wanting to do what was best for her, most of the time. When I acted on those feelings, I was always wrong. My last brilliant idea of doing what I felt was best for her nearly wound up with both of us being killed, and so I was determined to let things go as they would until Bella decided herself that we would stop. I simply held my control together and let her have me.
And despite my desires, I knew it was madness to even consider making love to her.
She raked her fingernails sharply up my exposed stomach and I growled. Desire licked at every inch of my skin, begging me to take her, to end this on-going torment. I clenched my teeth, determined to do my part, to hold back my lusts – all of them – and let this happen at her pace. If – no, when – she decided this would stop, then I would be a gentleman. And until then, I would lap up every second of this and greedily save every sigh, every moan, every gasp in my endless crystal clear vampire memory to take out and examine for eternity. Her tiny hands pulled me closer to her and so I allowed my weight to push her deeper into the mattress. Her open mouth fastened onto my neck and my eyes rolled into my head. I ached and throbbed for her and I pressed it against her, needing to get some pressure and warmth on my desperate arousal. She gasped against my skin and I thought for a second that she was experiencing the moment of clarity, that second where the lust clears and you realise that you must stop. No such luck.
"God," she moaned. Her voice was low and deep and sexy. It pulled things in my stomach that I've never experienced in my century plus of living. My lust for her fought with my love. My love, which demanded that I do what's best, to pull away, to make her uphold her decision in the meadow until she told me, clear-minded and level-headed, that her mind was changed. My desire demanded that I have her, all of her, here and now. Her back arched, exposing her neck to me, tossing her long mahogany hair onto her pillows. I licked my way up her neck to her ear. Her shirt had ridden up and the soft skin on her stomach pressed against mine. We were yin and yang. She was soft to my hard. My very hard, if I was being vulgar. She was hot to my cold. Beauty to my beast. Angel to my demon. And, most of all, she was generosity to my greed, because if I gave in, and I let my control go, I would take everything she was – her beautiful life, her gorgeous body, her soul and her heat – and I would leave her nothing.
I met her eyes and shuddered. The chocolate brown depths were nowhere to be seen. Instead they were drowning pools of black. Desire lit them and they burned like flames into mine. Temptress. I kissed her flushed cheek. "Tell me to stop," I begged her.
She wove her hands into my hair and I shuddered again. "Please tell me to stop," I beseeched her. "I want to stop, but I won't."
Her eyes widened. "Do you?" Her voice was smooth and dark. She'd never sounded more beautiful.
"I don't, Bella. But you wanted to wait," I replied, honestly. I rolled to lie beside her and tucked her into an afghan. I didn't want my coldness to touch her, as perfect and warm as she was.
"Besides, Jasper and Emmett will be here later," I added. "It wouldn't do to be interrupted. I want your first time to be perfect."
She pulled me close. I let her. "If it's with you, it will be perfect," she whispered.
Her lips met mine and I lost myself in my enchantress again. I wrapped my arms around her and let the time pass. I measured my time in her heartbeats. I kept my hands above the bulky blanket, but let her explore my exposed torso as much as she wished. Her hands were soft and warm on my body and I relished it. I sighed and blew my breath into her face as I let her once again catch her breath.
I was amused to hear that my own breathing was ragged. I didn't even need air and yet I was gulping it down like I did.
"I miss you already," she whispered breathlessly. Her eyes were closed. I wished she would open them. I smiled and listened to her heartbeat race.
"I don't need to leave. I can stay…" I wanted her to ask me to stay but I knew our time would be cut short tonight. Emmett would drag me out by my toenails if I tried to resist.
I watched her hungrily, memorising and counting her eyelashes where they rested in a crescent against her cheek. A new song began composing itself in my head. I had all of time in which to write new songs for her, but only fleeting moments left in which to watch the blush in her cheeks, or to cherish the rhythm of her heartbeats. I felt giddily fortunate to know that I would have an eternity with her. That she would give up so much for me.
Almost as if she could hear the tone of my thoughts, she opened her eyes and caught me. I knew the emotions were showing, unguarded on my features and so I let her see them – the undying, deep, unwavering love, the lust, the aching need for her company and high regard.
Her eyes widened and she pulled me to her again. Her hand tightened in my hair.
"Definitely staying," I murmured against her lips. Emmett and Jasper be damned.
She pushed me away, just a fraction of an inch. "No, no. It's your bachelor party. You have to go."
Her arms held me tight against her and I smiled. I touched the blush on her cheeks. "Bachelor parties," I explained. "Are designed for those who are sad to see the passing of their single days. I couldn't be more eager to have mine behind me. So there's really no point."
Oh, if she only knew! I couldn't wish for anything more than our wedding day to be upon us! She kissed my chin and headed back down my neck.
"True," she whispered against my skin. I shivered. Her warm hands trailed down my chest. I was completely unsure where I wanted this to go. I was torn between asking her, begging her even, to change her mind, and leaving the haven of her room to search out my brothers. I wanted her so badly, if it were capable of dying, I was certain it would kill me. Her fingertips traced my stomach muscles and again, I shuddered. I pressed my lips carefully to hers, sighing as she licked my bottom lip.
God, she was such a temptress! I wanted to weep in thanksgiving for her creation. I watched her eyes glaze over as my breath washed over her. And as much as I wanted to stay, I knew that if I didn't draw this to a close, I would be completely unable to leave. I started to pull away, only to be stopped as she held onto me with all her strength and wrapped her leg around my waist.
"Wait!" She begged.
"Practice makes perfect," she breathed.
If I were capable I would have melted. Instead, I chuckled. She was so absurd. I delighted in her every word. "Well, we should be fairly close to perfection by this point, then, shouldn't we? Have you slept at all in the past month?"
At least when I thought of her health, my better nature always won out. I looked at the faint circles under her eyes with concern. My lust cooled a bit, but this war was won in small battles. I knew from a lot of experience.
"But this is dress rehearsal," she insisted, "and we've only practiced certain scenes. It's no time for playing safe."
I watched her pupils begin to dilate again. Oh, God. I knew I didn't have the time to take to give her to experience I should and so my only defence was to engage her in conversation. To distract myself from my desire to feel her body beneath mine, shuddering and undone. I tensed against my craving for her body.
"Bella…" I croaked. I could barely think I wanted her so badly. I could hurt her. I could destroy her. Even entertaining the possibility of lovemaking was ridiculous.
"Don't start this again," she said. Irritation toned her voice. "A deal's a deal."
"I don't know," I said. My desire to look out for her, to protect her at all costs, warred with my desire to possess her. She had no idea how hard it was for me. "It's too hard to concentrate when you're with me like this. I – I can't think straight. I won't be able to control myself. You'll get hurt."
I wanted her so much. I wanted to give her everything she asked for and more, but asking for this. If holding her was like juggling eggshells, then touching those parts of her would be like stroking a soap bubble. She was so breakable and I could so easily cause her pain, especially in those most sensitive of areas, and all I wanted was to give her joy and pleasure.
"I'll be fine," she argued.
She quieted me with a kiss. I leaned into it, wishing I could give her so much more. I enjoyed her warmth against my lips and then decided to go again with the distraction technique as I felt the lust within me rise again.
"How are your feet?" I asked her, enjoying her momentary confusion.
"Toasty warm," she answered.
My eyebrow rose. "Really? No second thoughts? It's not too late to change your mind." Yet.
She smiled, clearly amused at my attempt to give her an out. "Are you trying to ditch me?"
I could have laughed so hard that my laughter would have broken the windows, but that would bring Charlie in here and I had no desire to explain myself. "Just making sure," I said. "I don't want you to do anything you're not sure about." For instance, allowing me to make love to you, damning yourself to me for eternity, giving up your life for me…Just to name a few things.
She gave me a squeeze. "I'm sure about you. The rest I can live through."
I sighed. "Can you? I don't mean the wedding – which I am positive you will survive despite your qualms – but I mean afterward…what about Renée? What about Charlie?"
I played on her weakness – her parents. Only the love I felt for her could make me selfless enough to put her life first. Otherwise I was a selfish creature. Greedy and ignoble.
Bella's eyes grew thoughtful and she sighed. "I'll miss them," she admitted.
"Angela and Ben and Mike," I prodded.
"I'll miss my friends, too," she said, and smiled. "Especially Mike! Oh Mike! How will I go on?"
I growled despite my urge to laugh at her theatrics. I was trying to get her to think seriously about her decisions and she covered it with humour.
She grew serious again. "Edward, we've been through this and through this. I know it will be hard." She had no idea how hard, I thought.
"But this is what I want," she continued. Her voice shook with the conviction of her words. She wanted me to believe her so much. "I want you, and I want you forever. One lifetime is simply not enough for me."
"Frozen forever at eighteen," I whispered. My voice choked on the words. My mind reeled with the images of Alice's visions: Bella, beautiful as ever but with the red eyes of a newborn. My Bella. Forever my Bella, crystallised like an insect in amber, never changing.
"Every woman's dream come true," she said, a smile lighting her features. Humour again. Would she never take this as seriously as I?
"Never changing…Never moving forward," I added.
"What does that mean?" She challenged.
I hesitated for one of her heartbeats. Perhaps this was a bad way to end our evening together, but I really wanted her to think about it. There were so many more human things she could and should do before she held me to my promise and asked me to change her. "Do you remember when we told Charlie we were getting married? And he thought you were…pregnant?"
I nearly choked on the word. I wanted it so badly for her, but it wasn't even a thought I could really entertain. To see Bella, my beautiful wife, her belly swelling with our child. She laughed and it cut me to the quick.
"And he thought about shooting you," she teased. When I didn't laugh, she continued. "Admit it – for one second, he honestly considered it."
The words were still locked in my throat. Tears that I could and would never shed for her humanity kept everything locked inside me. She might have found Charlie's reaction to be funny, but all I wished was that there was even a possibility.
"What, Edward?" she demanded.
And just like that, I could deny her nothing. Not even my deepest and darkest fantasy.
"I just wish...well, I wish he'd have been right," I confessed.
She gasped. "Gah!"
"More that there was some way he could have been. That we had that kind of potential. I hate taking that away from you."
Now that I had confessed it, I could keep nothing back. Even if it ripped my heart to shreds.
Her eyes saw through me. Defiance infused every muscle in her body and she stiffened against me. "I know what I'm doing," she argued.
"How could you know that, Bella? Look at my mother, look at my sister." I hated to bring them into this, but if it would make her think, for only a minute, then I had to hope that they wouldn't mind. Especially Rosalie. "It's not as easy a sacrifice as you imagine."
"Esme and Rosalie get by just fine. If it's a problem later, we can do what Esme did – we'll adopt."
I wanted to scream in frustration. Adopting teenage vampires was nothing like raising a child of your own! A sigh escaped me. I wanted to shout at her, but she didn't deserve my irritation. She wanted me, she wanted to give up everything for me, and part of me wanted her to.
"It's not right!" I'd beg her if I had to.
"I don't want you to have to make sacrifices for me," I pleaded. No, I wanted her to have everything, and all I could give her was a pointless existence with me. "I want to give you things, not take things away from you. I don't want to steal your future. If I were human-"
"You are my future," she countered. "Now stop. No moping, or I'm calling your brothers to come and get you. Maybe you need a bachelor party."
I wanted to rake my hands through my hair, to shake some sense into her. I wanted to cry and beg her to give it more thought. I could do nothing, and my time was over. I sensed Jasper and Emmett come into my thoughts. They weren't far away. I didn't have much time to turn this around.
"I'm sorry. I am moping, aren't I? Must be the nerves," I whispered contritely.
"Are your feet cold?" she asked me. Fear etched itself in her features. The fear that I would leave her again made her eyes empty. My silent heart wrung itself in guilt.
"Not in that sense," I said. I wanted to kiss away that look, to leave her feeling secure and happy and anticipatory for our big day. "The wedding ceremony is the one thing I can't wait…"
'Come on, little brother!' sang Emmett's thoughts. 'Bros before hos!'
"Oh for the love of everything holy!" I exclaimed, exasperated with Emmett already. It was going to be a long night. I could hear their footsteps outside.
'Say your goodbyes, Edward,' Jasper thought. 'We're not far off now.'
"What's wrong?" Bella asked.
I gritted my teeth against the string of irritating rap music from Emmett's mind. It was going to be a very long night.
'Put it away, Eddie!' Emmett shouted in his head. 'Time for some male bonding time. You'll be stuck with the old ball and chain for eternity. Better get some quality time with the bros now!'
I sighed. "You don't have to call my brothers. Apparently Emmett and Jasper are not going to let me bow out tonight."
'Coming up!' Emmett's thoughts announced. I heard the soft thud of his hands and feet scaling the house.
Bella held me closer, giving me the tightest squeeze she could manage and then let me loose. Her look was regretful.
"Have fun," she said. A wry smile lit up her face.
Emmett ran his fingernails down the glass, laughing quietly when Bella shuddered. It really was a most appalling sound. I watched with amusement as goose bumps broke out all over her arms.
"If you don't send Edward out," Emmett threatened, "we're coming in after him!"
I rolled my eyes, and retrieved my shirt. I'd like to see him try to drag me out of here against my will. Still, Charlie was asleep in the bedroom next door. I leaned in and kissed Bella's forehead.
"Go to sleep. You've got a big day tomorrow," I whispered.
She gave a small laugh. "Thanks! That's sure to help me wind down."
I smiled. "I'll see you at the altar."
"I'll be the one in white," she joked.
I chuckled. I couldn't wait. "Very convincing," I said as I opened the window and then leaped quietly. I landed on the ground effortlessly. Immediately, I pounced on Emmett and gave him a slap on the back of his head.
"Ow!" he said.
"Idiot!" I growled.
We scuffled while Jasper leapt up to reassure and calm Bella. I heard the rustle of her blankets as she sat up and asked him, "What do vampires do for bachelor parties? You're not taking him to a strip club, are you?"
I snorted. As if any other human, naked or not, could hold any allure for me after knowing Bella.
"Don't tell her anything!" Emmett growled.
I slapped him again. I laughed as he turned to me and raised his fist like he would hit me. The big baby.
Jasper gave her another reassurance, followed by a mental push of calm and sleepiness and leapt silently to the ground.
"Now, off to hunt, little brother," he said with a smile. He bashed fists with Emmett and we walked around the house.
Without another word, we melted into the forest and began to run. My last night as a bachelor was upon me and I couldn't be happier.
A/N: Please review!