AUTHOR'S NOTE: The final chapter! I've already started a sequel to this but please feel free to let me know if you guys would like to read more about Edward and Houston. Reviews make the world go 'round and I would definitely love to know what you guys think! And the final chapter that cemented the story's M rating.
Stephenie Meyer owns the Cullens, I own the original characters. This is just for entertainment reasons, no infringement or slander intended.
The air was nearly stifling as I gingerly stepped out of the black Mercedes Carlisle had lent us for the trip. I had finally come back to the beginning of my story.
Squinting against the sun, I carefully pushed the passenger door back into the frame of the car and took an unsteady step into the dry, yellowing grass. It was abnormally hot in Houston, and time away had cost me my immunity to the humid air. I sighed quietly as I continued moving, memories from when I was nine sprang painfully to my mind. I hadn't thought about my mother's funeral in so long, but now that I was standing in the cemetary she'd been buried in, I couldn't escape them. I could still remember how she looked in her coffin. Her cheeks had sunken in so much that it looked like the bones of her skull would penetrate her skin at any given moment. The dress she had picked out hung over her skeleton like a veil and just made her look even smaller against the satin lining and pillow.
My throat constricted as I came to a stop in front of a flat headstone, the name Angela Elizabeth Morgan along with her birth and death dates etched into the gray, smooth granite. I could feel the tears building up against my eyes and jumped slightly in surprise when something cold suddenly squeezed my hand. I didn't have to look up to know who it was, though. Edward had broken his promise to stay in the car and braved the sunshine to comfort me. The collar of his shirt was pulled up and tucked underneath his unruly hair, which sparkled brightly in the overhead sun. He wore a baseball cap low over his forehead and his shirtsleeves were rolled all the way down. The only part of his skin that reacted to the sunlight was the hand gripping mine, his other hand was shoved deeply into the pocket of his jeans. "You didn't have to come out here." I breathed, tears finally spilling down my cheeks as I continued to stare at my mother's grave marker.
"I wanted to." He replied quietly and gently pulled me up against his side. My hands flattened against my thighs as he wrapped his arm around my shoulders and gently crushed me against his cold body. "I meant it when I promised that you wouldn't have to go through anything alone ever again."
"Thank you." I breathed and forced my eyes to close as tears continued to stain my pale cheeks. I dimly began to wonder just how much my face resembled the face that had been my mother's when she died. Without warning, my knees buckled and I crumpled to the ground. Edward caught me before I could fully fall over into the grass, my knees throbbing from the impact of my fall. There was an odd tightening in my chest, and the pain in my stomach flared enough that I could feel bile gathering in my throat. This wasn't how I'd expected to react to visiting my mother's grave for the first time since leaving Texas. But then again, I had completely forgotten about the memories my mind had kept away from me until this moment. My mother's funeral...her final breath in MD Anderson's Cancer Center...her collapsing in the living room of our apartment while trying to call for help...
I didn't realize Edward was kneeling beside me until I was once again being pulled up against his side. I gripped his thigh for support and let myself fall against him. I didn't have to worry about him tumbling over with the sudden addition to my weight. No one could keep their balance as well as Edward could. The tears came faster and sobs took full control of my body without my consent. My mind couldn't register the changes when he lifted me off my sneakered feet and pulled me into his lap. I was dimly aware that he had sat down on the dying grass and held me protectively against his chest as I sobbed uncontrollably, my fingers curled desperately into the fabric of his shirt. "It's going to be all right, Houston." He soothed, lightly rocking our bodies back and forth as his hands slid gracefully through my hair.
All I could do was nod against his chest as my grief continued to hold me in a vice. Finally, after what felt like forever, it's hold relented and I regained some measure of control. "I'm sorry." I muttered against the hollow of his throat, keeping my face hidden in his icy neck as sobs continued to ripple through me. Now that I was more aware of my surroundings, I could tell that whatever had forced me to my knees was not solely grief-related. There was a reason I'd reacted this way to seeing my mother's grave for the very first time. "Can I ask you to do something for me?"
Edward continued to hold me against him as he rocked back and forth soothingly. "Ask me anything." He whispered into my hair and caused more physical reactions. But instead of unwanted sobbing causing my spine to curve, it was the electricity that he always conjured.
"It's going to sound stupid." I sighed and finally pulled my face up so that I could stare into the eyes of the man that'd been my husband for close to a month now. "But I want a gravestone put here. Beside my mother's. I want it added into the story that I was brought back here to be buried. No ceremony, no one crying over me. I was just put in the ground and mourned."
When I saw his expression change, I knew that I hadn't asked for anything he would be unable to give me. Of course, there was no reason that the Cullens would need to grieve. I wasn't going to die and stay dead. I wasn't going to be put in a pine box then lowered into the ground while family and what little friends I'd managed to hold onto, wept. There would only be stoic expressions and heavy sighs when the Cullens ventured back out into Forks once news of Edward's bride dying had made it through the proper channels. "Of course." His response was simple, but it served it's purpose. A new sense of calm washed over me then and I was able to climb to my feet and walk back to the car on my own. My hand wasn't released from Edward's icy grip until we were back at the hotel room he'd rented for our stay in Houston. There was no time limit, he'd explained as we made our journey from Washington to Texas by car. We could stay as long as I wanted, or actually needed. He was going to pass on the college route this time around to stay with me while I transitioned from human to vampire. He'd even made a joke out of it, asking me honestly how many degrees in medicine a vampire needed before he felt a sense of accomplishment.
I thought about that as I locked myself up in the spacious bathroom connected to the suite Edward had secured in our name. The scalding water felt more than glorious against my skin, burning just enough to remind me of my fragilty. As if I needed a reminder of that! Ducking my head under the spray, my eyes stayed shut as the water cascaded over the back of my head and over my face. But before I could sort out my thoughts and put things into their proper perspective, a sudden wave of dizziness gripped me. I flattened my hands against the tiled walls as fast as I could but it was no use. The dizziness refused to fade, instead just growing more intense as pain seared through my abdomen, thighs, and even into my chest. I began to gasp for air then, practically doubling over as the steam from the showerhead billowed around me. I just barely heard the bathroom door shake in it's frame, Edward's worried voice acting as a life preserver thrown too late to a drowning victim.
When he crashed through the door, I could have sworn that I was dreaming. Everything was slowly going black and I could feel something, my feet maybe, slipping against the slick tub floor. It was Edward's arms that prevented me from cracking my head on the chrome faucet when I lost my balance and consciousness.
It felt like forever that I was unconscious, my mind playing a million different scenes in my head. All of the pictures faded into each other, acting as some sort of timeline that comprised of my progress through my relationship with Edward. There was no denying that the end of my human life was coming, and fast. Faster than anyone could have assumed or even predicted. The images became sharper and more clear when I felt a cool hand on my forehead, then my neck. Dry hair was pushed off my flushed skin and made me sigh quietly as reality grew more and more pronounced.
"Open your eyes, love." That beautiful voice, the painstaking melody that never sounded quite right in my dreams, floated to me and gently brought me back to the surface of consciousness.
Doing as he asked, I sighed again and slowly forced my eyelids to part, my brow wrinkling almost instantly when I saw the look on Edward's perfect features. He was worried. Did I really look that bad? But then again, I felt that bad. My entire body hurt, a dull ache that seemed to be humming around my major source of discomfort. Of course, the pain in my abdomen was crackling bright and powerful. I didn't want to move anytime soon as a result of that painful ball. "What...happened?" I didn't mean to sigh the words out, but I felt so tired and weak that speaking at all felt like the most painful of chores.
"You collapsed." I could hear the agony in his voice now as his hand continued to move feather-lightly over my face, neck, and shoulders. "I just barely caught you before you hit your head."
"Thank you." I sighed and succeeded in sliding onto my back as his cold hand molded against my hot cheek. My entire body felt hot, like I was laying over a blazing fire, instead of a worn, much-used mattress. "How long have I been out?"
Edward didn't speak right away. I had to force my eyes open again to make sure he was still in the room with me and a lump formed when he moved from the edge of the bed to the empty space beside my overheated body. "A couple of days." He whispered into my ear as he gently pulled me into his arms. Of course, there was a blanket blocking my body from his, but as I moved, I realized why a blanket had been wrapped tightly around me. I was completely naked underneath the coarse cotton and padding. "You developed a fever late last night."
"I'm sorry." I suddenly wailed and turned into him. My body screamed at me in pain but I ignored it, wanting to be as close to my husband as I possibly could right then. The artic scent floating off his frame was intoxicatingly inviting and I reached out to pull the blanket away so that I could fully feel his icy skin against mine. "Edward...please?" I wasn't above begging as I buried my face in his chest. It took a couple of seconds for me to realize that his upper body was bare, only his loose jeans covered his frame. "I feel like I'm on fire."
"It's the fever." He sighed heavily, but seemed to have some sort of insight into my mind. He deftly pulled the blanket from around me in one fluid movement, another movement that I couldn't see or track followed that one, then a large gasp filled my throat when I finally felt his body press against mine. This was probably the most intimate we'd ever been with one another, and it was because a fever refused to loosen its hold on me. I couldn't force my eyes open to take in his naked frame against mine. I didn't want to see how hideously imperfect I was, laying naked beside him. But Edward never seemed to waver. I was moved again, back onto my back as he gently covered as much of my flushed skin as he could with his marble, artic flesh. "That better?" He asked quietly, propping himself on one arm so he could watch my expressions change.
I exhaled a small, grateful sigh as I wrapped my body around his unconsicously. I could feel every single inch of him from where I was laying. I could feel the repetive rise and fall of his stone chest against mine, his flat stomach against my invisible abdomen, even his thighs and legs stretched over my hips then around my thighs. In any other situation, I would have blushed furiously and try to move away. After all, I could very clearly feel the part of his anatomy that made him male, against the core of my cancer-ravaged womanhood. I'd never been this close with a man before, and even with its innocence, there was a deep seed of sexuality to it all. I had no idea what he thought of me, now that my clothes were gone and I was completely exposed underneath him. I forced my eyes open, only succeeding in parting them enough to clearly make out Edward's face hovering above mine. A small smile slowly spread across my lips involuntarily and I nodded as my hands flattened over the small of his back. "Thank you." I breathed, still keeping my eyes open as I gently pressed on his back to bring him closer. It wasn't that I was trying for any sexual intimacy right then. It was simply that he was hovering over my main source of discomfort and the thought of his stomach pressed against mine would feel euphoric.
"We have to be careful." He breathed in my ear as he shifted over me again, resting his forehead against my bony shoulder as he molded the lower part of his frame more accurately over mine. "I am a man, after all. And you're even more beautiful than I imagined."
A familiar warmth flooded through my cheeks, making my face feel even more hot as it blended with my fever. I kept my eyes closed as my legs curled against his even more, against my better judgement and resolve not to push him even further. He was the healthiest being on the planet, and like he'd just mentioned, a man. A man that still thirsted for the blood coursing through my veins. "You're biased." I muttered and frowned slightly, doing everything I could to push away the mental images forming behind my closed eyes. Images that consisted of Edward losing control and drinking from me. Of letting the monster that lurked beneath his golden eyes win and drag me the final distance to death's door.
"I really wish you'd see yourself the way I do." He breathed against my skin and I actually shivered when his cold breath hit my skin. Goosebumps coated my arms and chest within seconds and my shiver didn't go unnoticed by Edward. How could it, when we were so intricately molded against one another? "You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen." His forehead left my shoulder then and my eyes opened a little easier when I felt his gaze return to my body. I couldn't pull my eyes from his as his long fingers drifted over my collarbone. "Yes, you're exceptionally small, but I honestly didn't expect to find your body as perfect as it is. You're even more addicting to me than you were originally."
"Do we need to move?" My question came in a breathless whisper as his fingers moved lower, gently gliding over the slight swell of my tiny breasts.
"I can resist." He promised and leaned down to cover my lips with his as his touch moved down the side of my ribcage, over the curve of my abdomen, then traced the outline of my exposed hipbone. My hands seemed to follow his lead impecibly, my short nails began to trace the muscular indentions drawn in the hard skin of his back. My lips molded against his effortlessly and I sighed instinctively when the palm of his hand slid over the curve of my hips. Even though the fever and pain in my body had been in the forefront of my mind just seconds before, it now took a backseat to the sensations assaulting me. I'd been right when I called him the best painkiller I'd ever known on the night of our wedding. He was too good at making me forget just how weak I really was against him and we both seemed to know that.
Neither one of us could help ourselves as we continued to touch either. My hands never left his back, and didn't go past the swell of his butt as he continued to kiss me urgently, yet passionately. His hands didn't stray from their innocent course either, but I soon felt a new, unfamiliar ache form between my thighs. It seemed to battle with the ache in my lungs for my focus, but was also pushed aside when a gasp filled my throat. Edward's lips parted ever so slightly against mine and my mind swirled endlessly when I felt the tip of his tongue trace the outline of my lower lip. Even though we were supposed to be careful, I couldn't help myself as I pushed my body up against his forcefully. Lines were being blurred and all I could clearly focus on was that need to taste him. To have him in ever single sense and cell that made up my frame.
His lips left mine abruptly and I was practically panting as he began to kiss over my jawline, then down the side of my throat. "I should really move." He whispered, urgency floating from his powerful lips, into the low rumble of his voice. His breathing was also labored, but only out of sheer habit as his tongue glided over the scar that was still visible on the right side of my neck. The scar that was a reminder of the first time I'd ever seen the monster that hid behind his eyes.
"Yes." I whimpered and clenched my eyes shut as I forced myself to focus on how his cold lips on my feverish skin felt. I didn't want to feel anything else, I only wanted to be in the moment. I wanted to be able to pretend that I was whole and healthy, able to enjoy the attention my husband was paying to my body. But my frame seemed to have it's own agenda and I instinctively moved to curl up on my side. I didn't get very far because of Edward's invisible weight holding me to the bed, but that one movement seemed to break the trance that had fallen around us. I didn't open my eyes when he moved away from me, only curling up on my side and into a ball just seconds after he released his hold on me. The fever...the pain...the searing ache in my abdomen all came rushing back to me in one powerful wave and I felt momentarily knocked breathless as I coiled into myself. He wasn't far from me, and a small amount of relief registered in my mind as he curled up behind me, pulling me back against his chest.
"We need to get you home, Houston." He said quietly and forced my legs away from my stomach long enough to flatten his hand over my surgery scars and radiation marks. He was also becoming my favorite icepack too, the thought occured to me humorlessly. "Do you think you can handle the drive back?"
I forced myself to nod as I hid my face in the pillow under my head. I was going to have to. I needed Carlisle's expert diagnosis so that my next decision could be decided and acted out. I didn't have much longer in my human body.
TO BE CONTINUED...