Now for Jasper. He and Alice were playing in the woods. It didn't take me long to get there.

"Jasper, can I talk to you? Privately?" I asked. Alice's expression, slightly confused, showed that she didn't understand my purpose. I guessed she hadn't seen anything new in my or Bella's future yet. She immediately began concentrating, and I could see her trying to look ahead.

"What is this about?" she asked, when her visions revealed nothing out of the ordinary.

"I'll tell you later," Jasper assured her.

"No," I declared firmly.

She looked outraged, but she could see Jasper returning to her side and declining to share our conversation. She glared at me.

"I'm sorry, Alice," I said, as Jasper kissed her before joining me. "It's a guy thing." I saw that he soothed her pique, and the irritation in her eyes changed to affection.

"Go ahead, then," she said to both of us. If you're plotting anything, I'll find out, she warned me, but her tone was fond, not threatening.

The river? Jasper inquired, and I nodded. We'd be well away from the others there.

"What's bothering you?" he asked, as soon as we slowed from a run to a walk. Of course, he could sense my anxiety. For the third time, I broke the news of my "compromise" with Bella. His reaction was pleased and concerned.

"Aren't you surprised?" I asked.

I can tell how she feels about you, maybe even better than you can. You hear her heart beat faster, but I can feel her enjoyment when you kiss her. And her frustration when you stop!

"Do you think I can do it?" I asked eagerly. "I already talked to Carlisle and Emmett. They think it's possible."

Jasper's face lit up with the excitement he could feel emanating from me. He wasn't ready to dispense advice. He was reflecting on the emotions that he anticipated experiencing with me. "It's the best feeling in the world," he said. But memories of other pleasures entered his mind, and he quickly corrected himself. "Except for drinking human blood."

Many remembered moments of intense sensation swirled in his thoughts, and he frowned slightly. "But human blood…," he said slowly. He paused for a moment to find the right words. "While you're drinking it, you can hardly think about anything else. It's everything you ever wanted, and you feel absolutely blissful and satisfied. But afterwards or even during, you know it's wrong."

He looked to see whether I understood, and I nodded.

"Making love with your wife, though, is completely right. So maybe that's better."

Better? I wondered. I had feasted on human blood too many times to count, and I had renounced it. I had encountered the scent of Bella's blood, more fiercely compelling to me than anything I had imagined, and I had resisted it. I had even tasted Bella's blood…

Carlisle and Emmett had both referred to my restraint on that occasion. Now, as I shared Jasper's vivid recollections of times he had killed and drank what our bodies craved, that terrible, wonderful memory took over my thoughts.

At the moment her blood crossed my lips, I was basically a wreck. I had spent days and nights in a frenzy of determination, rage and fear. With Carlisle and Emmett at my side, I was able to channel my frantic energy into the goal of finding and destroying the monster who intended to kill Bella.

But all our efforts failed. The enemy eluded all of us, lured Bella to him, and we arrived too late. We were only in time to rip him apart, to hear Bella's screams, to watch her blood pulse from her broken body. I was sobbing with overwhelming grief, horror, despair, fury. Yet Carlisle seemed to think her injuries were not fatal. For a handful of seconds, I was limp with relief and love. Then we realized that he had poisoned her. Battered by so many powerful emotions, I could barely comprehend when Carlisle told me what I had to do.

Suck the venom back out. Now terror became my overriding feeling. There was no way I could accomplish that. You must do it now, or it will be too late. I felt as if some outside force were taking over my body. I didn't make a conscious decision. I moved as if obeying a command, but the command came from somewhere inside me, from the center of the cold, silent heart that Bella had awoken. I bent my lips to her hand.

At the moment her blood crossed my lips, everything else disappeared. All the negative feelings that had been gripping me vanished completely. My mouth was flooded with the most exquisite nectar, and as I drank, it seemed that the supply was endless. Time had stopped and left me in paradise. The blood was thick, light, sweet, rich. It was full of every wonderful flavor. I could taste every magical drop, each subtly different, each fantastically delicious. My whole body felt like it was glowing from the completeness of this nourishment. I felt like I was flying. Leaping and never landing. This is heaven, I thought ecstatically. I want to stay in this feeling forever. The thought of heaven reminded me of my angel. In that instant, a tiny but sharp warning impinged on my joy: I have to stop. But every cell in my body rejected this new idea. I never want to stop. The alarm seemed to get louder. I'll kill her. I knew it was true, but the pleasure wasn't letting up. It was still increasing. I can't stop. I can't stop.

The next moment found me gasping for breath, clutching Bella's hand, shaking as I knelt beside her, savoring the last priceless sip that still filled my mouth. It was over. I had suddenly crashed to earth. I swallowed. I could taste the morphine. I heard her voice faintly. Stay, Edward, stay with me…

I had tasted her blood, and it was beyond perfection, and somehow I had stopped. Now Jasper was telling me there was something better than that, and I wouldn't have to deny myself.

I looked up to find my brother waiting patiently as I relived one of the most powerful moments of my existence.

"Do you have any advice for me?" I asked. "I want to make love to Bella. So much. We both want to. You can sense it, I know."

He nodded. So much in love. Anyone could sense it.

"If I hurt her, I will stop. I think… I hope… I know I can do that. And I think, maybe, that won't happen. It doesn't have to be like it is for—"

"Emmett?" he interrupted.

"Are you hearing my thoughts now?" I teased him.

"Just a guess. We both know Emmett!" We laughed. A man's style in the bedroom is similar to his style on the battlefield, Jasper mused. Emmett is direct, very physical, he goes all-out, he aims to overpower any opposition. You're more thoughtful, more observant, more deliberate. You like to spot an opportunity and press your advantage…

He sensed my tension as I followed his thoughts and chuckled. Don't worry. One way isn't better than the other. I'd back either of you for destroying your opponent or for pleasing your lover.

"OK," I said. I could detect an undertone of worldly amusement in his reassurance, but I still wanted to hear it. I wasn't used to feeling so ignorant compared to my brothers. It wasn't a great feeling, but I reminded myself that I was grateful that I had brothers to turn to with my problem.

"Still, it's going to be very overwhelming, and different than anything I've experienced before, isn't it? That scares me. I don't know how I'm going to handle those new feelings."

"That's my specialty," he said. I could tell that he was infusing me with confidence and calm, but it felt good, just the same.

"Edward, you know how hard it can be for me to deal with my…gift," he smiled ruefully. "It is as much of a curse as a gift at times. Your talent is the same way. A burden as well as a blessing. You've explained that you can tune out and let the thoughts you receive fade to background noise. But strong feelings affect my entire body. I can't ignore them. I can try to avoid them, of course, but sometimes that's not possible. I'll find myself possessed with anger or hatred or grief. Or joy. Strong positive emotions can be as difficult to handle as negative ones."

I knew all this, but I also knew he was leading up to something. He had my full attention.

"You have to be very careful when you're in the grip of powerful feelings. They will emerge one way or another. If you let these feelings build up, you will get out of control," he warned.

"Think about a battle. Why does a warrior shout or snarl or curse as he engages his enemy? When you are so caught up, extreme emotion and excitement are surging inside you, and those feelings burst out. That doesn't detract from the attack. It permits a fighter to increase his focus."

I listened as if my life depended on it. Because it did.

"If it's getting to be too much, don't try to fight it. You can't stop it or deny it. It's hard to describe, but you need to release the energy rather than let it explode. You have to feel it and find a safe way to express the intensity."

I understood, and I took a deep breath. If it were possible, my heart would be pounding. All of my dreams were coming true. I was going to make Bella my wife, in every sense of the word.


Author's Note: Well, there you have my first piece of fan fiction. It was a lot of fun to write, and I'm happy that people are reading it. I hope you liked it!

I've gone on to write some of Edward's thoughts during the honeymoon. That collection is called "Paradise Lost." So far I've written the first night after Bella falls asleep, the night she had the good dream, and when she told him she was pregnant. By the way, it's not at all explicit. Just suggestive.