Characters are always the property of Stephenie Meyer.
I want to say that after admitting our feelings for one another, Edward and I held hands and walked off into the sunset. I'd like to say that we lived happily forever after.
But that isn't what happened.
Old habits die hard.
I ran down the dark tunnel, smiling wickedly. There was no way to beat me at my own game. The scent was still fresh, so I let my fingers graze the smooth stones of the walls. I let my instincts guide me, but remained in control of my pace. That way, my prey would hear me coming long before he saw me. My smile widened and my eyes flashed. They were dulling now, but still a dark red, like congealed blood. I liked them. They looked positively sinful.
I let my eyes search back and forth, though I knew the trail still head south. What he didn't realize was I knew these sewers like the back of my hand. I had run through them millions of times. He couldn't get away. He was trapped.
My footsteps were slow and silent as I made my way toward him. His body began calling to mine and I knew he was nearby. I didn't need to react on scent alone. The connection was too deep to keep him hidden. He was mine.
Crouching low like a huntress, I crept along the wall to the very last cell.
I lunged in the room and crouched low, my eyes raking the man before me. The darkness was thick inside this hole, but I could still see his pale and half naked body laid before me. He was breathtaking, but I couldn't let him know that.
"I found you," I hissed, the wicked grin slid back on my lips.
"Only because I let you." His voice trailed off as he caught the look in my eyes.
"Oh? Then why did you run so fast?"
"I like things fast." His crooked grin flashed in the darkness and his tone was unmistakable.
I snarled again. "Unfortunately for you, I like to take my time. Draw it out. Make you beg for mercy."
"We'll see who begs," he teased.
"Yes," I answered more breathlessly than anticipated. "It won't be me." I laughed, a light sound in the pressing gloom. It echoed bell-like around the stone cell.
In less than an instant, he sprang at me, but I let him come. Strong arms wrapped around my body roughly, pushing me into the wall of the cell. I could feel the cool smoothness pressing through my thin clothing, but was more aware of his body as it fell flush against mine. I couldn't help but slowly pull in a breath of air. Just feeling him next to me was making alarms go off all over my body, but I was distracted by the depth of his gaze, now locked with mine. The predator becomes the prey.
"You can't always have everything your way," he growled against my neck.
Using my last bit of resistance, I narrowed my eyes slowly. "It's my way or the highway."
He leaned in until his lips were an inch from mine and his breath flooded my mouth in heady bursts. I instantly craved more, but miraculously held my ground. He tasted like passion, like romance. Still, I tilted my head away.
His nose ran up my exposed neck and I shuddered. "I'll give you what I want and you can take it."
I almost groaned, barely resisting the urge to tell him that we both wanted the same thing.
"Don't fuck with me," I threatened weakly. It didn't sound at all the threat I intended.
Lips brushed my skin as his breath hit my shoulder in quick gusts. I found I was breathing as heavily as he was. His hands slid down my arms and pulled my wrists, guiding them above my head. He pressed them into the wall and I was too aware of the way my body longed to melt into his. Stretched this way, each angle of his hard chest felt even more stimulating. This time my groan was pure arousal. The way my body reacted to his was stronger than gravity. I could never get enough.
With that thought, I moved my head to stop his advancing kisses and snared his lips with mine. It was amazing, letting myself go. Wonderful, beautiful, sensual. There would never be a need for anyone but him ever again and it wasn't just that he completed me on every level. He also satisfied my emptiness. The fact he played my games made it just a bit more electrifying. He was my every fantasy. I'd never look away.
Hungrily our mouths met and desperately tried to tie together. It never seemed enough. My entire body reacted to the intensity and I pushed back against him. His own urgency was evident as he pressed his hips roughly into mine. We sighed into each other's mouths, as the real fire ignited from the contact of our lower bodies. Out of control and rampant as ever, we gave ourselves to the hungry desire our bodies craved. It was easy.
I used to think that love had the ability to destroy, that it crushed the soul. And I was right. What I never understood was that love also had the ability to build you back up. I'd lost everything that I'd come close to loving in my life, except Edward despite my intent to scare him away. Now, his love for me and in return, mine for him, saved me from myself. I had a beginning place in this strange new world and that was with him. Knowing that, I could let the rest go.
Edward released one of my hands which immediately fell into his messy hair. I twirled the silky strands between my fingers. The way my hands slid through the unruliness was an aphrodisiac. I couldn't stop the sound of pure pleasure as it escaped my lips.
His fingers were on my breast, nipping lightly at my already alert nipples. Edward's mouth moved from mine and continued kissing my neck, my collarbone, my shoulders. His lips were a force of their own and just when I thought the burning was too much, he dropped to his knees in a single fluid movement.
"You want something from me?" he whispered with an eyebrow arched sinfully.
I couldn't make coherent words, but guessing by the way he tore the pants from my body, I think he got it. Strong fingers rubbed the silk of my underwear and his lips began kissing my hips, my thighs, until they met the thin fabric he stroked. With a slow pace, Edward let his tongue slide under the edge of the black thong.
"Beg me," he whispered, mouth hovering directly above the fabric. The way his breath spilled against my wet center was amazingly unbearable. My breathing hitched and I could feel his face turn into a smile. There was a mischievous gleam in his eyes.
I moaned his name loudly.
He moved away an inch, and I tried to move my hips to follow, but he was just out of reach. "I said beg me for it, Bella."
His tone was crisp and sharp and I couldn't stop myself. He used his power and dazzled me into whatever it was he desired.
"Please," I whispered hoarsely, breathing quickening.
"I didn't quite catch that." The bastard grinned. He was actually grinning at my underwear and moved another inch away from me.
"Please!" I cried desperately.
Edward ripped off the offending barrier and pushed into me, his tongue immediately circling the point of my desire. I curled one leg over his strong shoulder, reveling in the way his muscles rippled as his tongue plunged into my body.
"Yes," I moaned into the air.
Edward slid his hands to my ass, coaxing my other leg from the floor. I tied my ankles behind his neck and let Edward support me against the wall. I was breathing wildly now, desire spreading the fire. My muscles were tightening as Edward inserted his fingers inside me, pushing in and out at a steady pace. His tongue went back to licking up my folds and the tension built in my body. I shuddered beneath his artful touch.
He only grew hungrier in his attack. Eagerly, his hand pounded into me and let his teeth graze my swollen slit, until the mounting tension broke and, bursting like an explosion, I released, wave after crashing wave of ecstasy through my body.
Edward didn't stop, but neither did my burning for him. He slowed his thrusting, but lapped up the result of my orgasm and sighed softly into me. That one sound, as content and pleasured as it was, sent me reeling all over again. This time, Edward pushed as deep as his fingers could go, to feel me clench around him. I might have screamed his name, but venom pounded in my ears and it was all I could hear.
Loving kisses traced back up the slope of my stomach, hesitated over my heaving chest, before finding my lips again. He lowered my body to the cool surface of the floor. I eagerly opened my mouth to taste myself, my love, all over his lips. My need only increased as my fingers dislodged from his hair and found their way to his zipper, which was hastily slid down. Edward fell from his restraint with a soft moan into my mouth.
I ran my fingers down the length of his erection, feeling the familiar soft flesh. In a quick motion, Edward's pants disappeared and he was pressed against me so I had no room to move my hand down him.
Growling in my ear he said, "I won't last long if you do that."
"Beg me," I sighed, but obliged and released my hold. Immediately his tip hit my ready center. Warmth pulsed through me and I greedily pushed myself onto him. There was a mutual gasp as we connected and Edward took a long moment to collect himself. I could already feel how swollen he was with desire.
Slowly, his body pulled out of me, but he left his chest flush with mine and went back to showering my skin with delicate kisses. I ground against his hips as they slid forward between my legs once more. Edward groaned and bit onto my shoulder. Instead of adding to the fire raging inside me, it cooled me. I felt Edward's venom swam into my veins. A swirling, light headed feeling came with it and I was plunged deeper into the euphoria of Edward.
To return the intensity, I slid my teeth carefully into his neck, careful to ease into it. The taste of his essence pushed me further and almost into an frenzy. I drew him into me with long pulls. His strength, energy, stamina, love boiled into my system. His body loosened and tensed at the same instant as the exchange hit him.
With dizzying emotions, Edward's pushed his body against mine, trying to enter me as deeply as possible. I let my legs fall wider and opened myself to him. He never pulled out again, only pushed deeper, ground harder into me. My body took his need and lust and stroked it. My legs began shuddering as he finally released it all in a pulsing moan. The feeling of his eruption was enough for my center to clench him violently and spill me into a final mind-numbing scream.
He collapsed onto me, panting and we laid there still connected as reality shifted around us. When I was in Edward's arms, there was nothing else in the entire world. Pressed together, flesh against flesh, I knew he was my angel, my savior. He was the reason I was where I was. He had taken me, broken and hollow, and ignited those fires that burned away everything else.
In Edward's arms, I was me. I was who I was meant to be, who I would never be without him. The burning passion and need for Edward only grew every second and I knew I completed him in the same ways he completed me. Without each other, there was nothing in this world. He would forever be at my side, as my friend, my companion, my lover, my anchor.
"You don't play fair," I finally breathed aloud as he rolled away.
Edward was chuckling. "I like to be on top, too."
My arm was carelessly flung across his chest and one leg snaked around his. Tiredly, I traced lazy circles over his stomach, delighting in the way it moved with his steady breaths.
"I've got something to show you," he finally broke the silence. He jumped to his feet quickly, leaving my naked body in complete contact with the floor.
"Does it have anything to do with why you've been hiding from me all week?" I asked, sitting up, only a little perturbed.
He was grinning widely. Post coitus Edward was the picture of a god. His hair mussed more than usual, but I couldn't help but sigh as I looked at his bared perfection. I was reminded of the last time he had stood like this before me.
We dressed (I had to alter his t-shirt into a makeshift skirt, as he had ripped away my pants) and quickly made our way back down the tunnel. Even if everything else had fallen, the heart of the city remained intact. The intricate tunnel system beneath the city streets was the only bit that escaped the war unscathed. There were still fallen passages from Edward and Emmett's bombings, but for the most part, they were whole. And Volterra was being rebuilt from its ashes. It would rise prouder and stronger than before and I wasn't scared anymore. I had accepted my position for the future.
It helped the Cullens were by my side. Each one made this even more bearable. With their help, I had come to terms with the massacre. I was slowly letting it all go. It was much more about my own sorted past, than the city itself. But, in the end, both had been built on lies and deceit, so I had no choice but rebuild and move on. The Cullens just made it easier.
Edward and I exited the sewers, our hands entwined, and stepped on to the freshly cleared cobblestone street. I inhaled the sweet twilight air and could hardly smell the burned, decimated scent of the battle. That would make it easier. I had been spending most of my time underground. I guess it was hiding from my atrocities, but Edward was insistent.
Most of the familiar buildings were still fallen, but the streets had been cleared and the salvageable materials piled beside their prospective monuments. Work was moving slowly, but I was content for the humans to do it at their speed. Volterra was to become a historic monument and the nations of the world had risen to rebuild it. I knew much of the monetary response was due to vampire influence and that was comforting. It was almost like a gift of confidence, allegiance. It was easier to take it all in, knowing I was supported.
I could see Carlisle's makeshift triage center to our left, but Edward led me on. Carlisle had been instrumental in the aftermath of the battle. He had set up the triage center for the wounded humans and spent the last few weeks doting on even the most common of ailment. The place was still rank with the scents of blood and death and made my stomach clench uncomfortably anytime I was near it. Needless to say, I hadn't spent much time with him since the battle, but we had spoken a week afterward when I forced myself to visit the blue tent near the western edge of the city.
I had felt uncomfortably diplomatic as he gave me a tour of the meager facility. It was true luck that Carlisle was simply amazing at what he did. No human would have been able to make the differences he had with the little amount of supplies at his disposal. He was their savior. I wouldn't be surprised if martyrdom hit Carlisle early. I might have to ordain a Saint Carlisle Day to coincide with Saint Marcus Day (which would be a tradition that would continue for eons.)
He was totally at ease while I was inwardly shuddering at the stench thick in the air. "We've made a difference," he said contentedly, sliding into a chair and finishing the tour.
"You've made a difference," I corrected, then added sincerely, "I'm so glad you were here."
Carlisle leaned forward, looking at me with his sharp eyes. He grabbed my hand with both of his and held it tightly. "I told you I would be there if you ever needed me," he reminded me of promises from a former life. "For a long time, I thought I had broken that promise, but I realize you never really needed me before now."
Suddenly overcome, I matched his intensity and leaned in. "But I did need you, Carlisle. All along I've needed your presence. I've realized that now. I never got you out of my head. Not for 250 years." I couldn't finish.
His smile was warm. "Our past experiences are what make us unique. Without them, how could we, as a species, mature? I'll be the first to admit I've made mistakes along the way," he ignored my raised eyebrow. Was anyone less tarnished than Carlisle Cullen? "but the one lesson I have learned is I have to them let go. Mistakes happen, but we can rise above them. We can better ourselves because of them."
"Ok," I said slowly, "So shit happens, deal with it. Check."
Carlisle chuckled. "Those wouldn't be the words I'd choose, but yes, essentially. I think you've got it."
He winked, so I rolled my eyes. "I'm afraid that I'll never change."
"You've already changed, Isabella. The second you put your trust in Alice your whole world tilted. When something like that happens it's permanent. There's no going back, only forward. Only you can decide what to do with it now."
His words had clung onto me.
I had to go forward. It was easy in some ways and impossible in others. But I had something I never had before: Edward. He was worth whatever struggle it took to make me worthy of his love.
We walked at a slow human speed, though there were no humans around. Most, human and vampires alike, had already moved on, leaving Volterra a virtual ghost town. I didn't mind. I liked to think of it as mine, anyway. This just made it feel more solid.
The evening sky was a brilliant red, fading to a velvet blue in the east. I recognized where he was leading me, but went along regardless of my reluctance. Edward seemed to notice my hesitation and dragging feet and finally turned to me. He kept walking backwards, keeping his golden eyes locked to mine.
A smile danced in those eyes, but his expression was unreadable. "Trust me," he whispered and I could only nod because I had no control over myself when he turned that look on.
Finally, we reached the Palazzo dei Priori and Edward's hand was suddenly blocking my view. His body leaned in close, so I could feel his chest against mine.
"I love you, Bella," he said, brushed his lips against mine and released my eyes. They fell immediately to the center of the square. I gasped. The last time I'd been here, when I confessed everything to Edward, it was decimated. Now?
Now, it was amazing. Better than it had been before though the tower no longer shadowed it. That fact hardly deterred from the effect. There in the very center, built of an ageless pearled marble was my fountain. It was familiar in the sense it had the same basic design, but it was different in so many ways, much more delicate in the intricacies.
Immediately, water shot from the top, flooded over the rim of the upper tier and began filling the second shallow bowl. It only took a moment until the water trickled down, filling the two other tiers, before splashing into the pool. The sound immediately soothed me and I walked over and sat on the edge. My fingers grazed the water and I was instantly at peace.
Then, I looked back at Edward. He was still in the same spot where I'd left him. My stomach twisted as it often did when I was in his presence. I used to think he made me uncomfortable, but I'd come to find out the fluttering and tightening was common for those in love.
I didn't know what to say. He'd been sneaking around, building this behind my back and I had absolutely no idea. "You did this." It wasn't a question.
Edward's lips curled into his perfectly crooked grin and he walked to me. He bent onto his knees, taking my hands with his. "I told you," he whispered, leaning in so his breath tickled my ear. "I love you."
I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped. I still wasn't sure how any of it was possible.
"Kiss him already," sighed a flat voice. "You're boring me, Bella."
I didn't move my gaze from its lock on Edward's, but laughed. "And here I thought you were the entertainment, Rose."
She hissed, but I knew it was in fun. We'd had formed a sort of guarded friendship as soon as she admitted to me that she had binged on revenge once. Then, she'd become an advisor. At least, she made her opinions known. Whatever it amounted to, we were snide and crass with each other, but I found I enjoyed the blonde's company as well as any of the Cullens.
I could hear the snickers of the rest of the family and smiled. They had just returned to the city, after spreading word of what had happened across the world and flush out Volturi supporters. I was glad they'd come back so soon. Felix still hadn't come home. He was experiencing his own sort of "distractions" in the aftermath of the war. But, I couldn't fault him. Above all, I wished him some sort of happy ending. Somewhere out there was a soul mate for him. I only wondered if I'd be jealous when he found her.
I shook Felix from my head and leaned forward. My lips touched those of my love. The electricity still burned fierce between us and my body reacted, though I'd had him less than ten minutes ago.
It was easy to lose myself in Edward's arms, against his mouth. He was my soul mate, my other half on infinite levels. I hardly remembered how I survived before I knew him. Even if I'd done a lot of evil things in my life – terrible things that I might regret –one thing eclipses everything else: my love for Edward. It's irrational, undeniable and completely irrevocable. But because of it, I was whole and happy.
To say that Edward and I lived happily ever after would be the biggest understatement in history because that's not what happened at all.
Edward was everything and we had each other for the rest of days.