"The great Edward Cullen has fallen to the wiles of a woman at last. From what I hear, she's a little slip of a thing. As inexperienced as you." I grimaced, fighting back my desire to protect Bella from even insults.
"I mean no offense, Edward" she placated, holding up her hands.
"I just don't understand the appeal over your other options." She smiled. "Meaning myself, obviously."
Very subtle, I thought to myself sarcastically.
"Obviously." I repeated, acknowledging her long time interest.
Tanya and I had shared a fairly comfortable relationship for many years following her initial interest in me. I considered her a dear friend and she likewise. Her advances all those years ago and my polite declines, although she forced them to be plural in nature, had only put a temporary strain on our relationship. She had backed off, although maintained a passing interest over the years. Had I been willing, she would have willingly added me to her list of conquests. It occasionally irked her that she hadn't had the opportunity, and she let me know it. Regardless, it had been many, many years since she had come on this strongly. It caught me off guard.
I sensed she was simply throwing out a last ditch effort for the 'one that got away.'
"Tanya." I warned gently as she glided toward me. She placed one hand on my chest and looked up at me through her eyelashes.
"Relax, Edward." She teased with a coy smile. "I just wanted to make sure you're committed to this –" she waived her hand around in the air dismissively , "- this whole marriage thing. To just ONE partner for the rest of time..." She finished the thought in her mind and looked at me hopefully.
"Of course I am." I affirmed.
"Well, then I've come to wish you the best." She said with a genuine smile.
I removed her hand gently from my chest and kissed it, like a proper 19th century gentleman. "Thank you, Tanya." I said with relief. I could tell her little test was over and we could go back to more familiar and comfortable terms.
She laughed. "Such a charmer." She teased.
We walked together without direction for a while until we came to a cliff edge. We sat together in companionable silence watching the stars.
"I've been waiting for you to ask." She stated into the silence in a seemingly disinterested way. Her thoughts told me otherwise.
"Ask about what?" I played along, delaying the conversation she was clearly initiating.
"As a person who is in a somewhat unique situation, who has access to someone who clearly has experience in said situation, I would think it would be fairly obvious." She drew it out. She was going to make me ask.
I had thought about asking her, but I wasn't sure I wanted to. I had deliberated because I didn't know if it was appropriate. I also wasn't sure how to bring it up. Apparently she took care of both concerns. I pushed aside my own insecurities and thought about Bella. The more I knew, the safer this would be for her.
I exhaled deeply, suddenly feeling my years. I ran a hand through my hair.
"If it was just up to me I wouldn't do it, you know." I said staring out at the stars. "I'd never consider something so…" I searched for the right word, "reckless."
She just looked at me curiously, even her thoughts were mute. That must have taken some effort on her part and I was grateful for the internal silence that would allow me to organize my own thoughts.
"I'm not saying I don't want to – God, how I want to. But not when she's so entirely breakable." I mused aloud unable to stop abusing my hair. I turned to Tanya, eager for her advice.
"How do you do it, Tanya? How do you love them and not break them? Do I have any chance of not harming her?" I asked turning to her with an intense hope.
She took my question as seriously as I had meant it, but she did chuckle softly. "I can only tell you things from a woman's perspective. Obviously the mechanics of your situation are a bit different." I half grimaced in response- nothing was working in our favor. I nodded, asking for her to continue.
"It's not easy. Even after hundreds of years, I still feel the temptation, the blood lust. I suppose that might be easier for you since you've never experienced the bloodlust with an … well, with physical lust." The word she really wanted to use was 'orgasm', but she censored her actual words in an attempt to make it easier for me. She looked at me to see if I was still comfortable with her continuing. This conversation was probably making my mother roll over in her grave- but I nodded for her to continue.
She was thoughtful and quiet for a moment. I stayed silent as she organized her thoughts. "I can show you." she offered carefully. "The first time I was successful. If it will be helpful." I nodded again. I had gone this far, might as well jump in all the way.
Her mind floated back to memories from what looked to be the early 1800's. From Tanya's perspective I saw a man sleeping alone in his bed. I watched him sleep as she undressed to her underclothes and slipped into the bed. She hovered over him, kissing and touching him. I shifted on the ground – feeling a bit awkward. I had certainly seen these situations hundreds of times in many people's minds. But it somehow seemed personal, intimate that she was showing it to me knowingly. Mercifully her perspective was focused on the man. I never saw images of her, so I didn't feel as perverted watching the remembrances with her.
Her memory continued as the man awoke and responded to her advances. From her thoughts, he didn't know her but was more than willing to participate. Her thoughts clearly conveyed that she was struggling with her own bloodlust as things progressed. She made sure to keep her mouth away from the man's throat –too much of a temptation.
I watched as she seduced the man, a very willing participant, to the moment when she climaxed and nearly bit him. Instead she bit her own arm. The man passed out and she surveyed the damage. She had shredded the sheets and cracked one of the bedposts in her efforts not to kill him. Her attention focused on the man himself and I barely stifled a gasp. In her memories, Tanya swore. He was bruised everywhere and most likely had a broken rib or two. She checked his heart rate and breathing carefully - he was alive. She was exultant – proud of her accomplishment.
Tanya's memory ended and she looked at me with a slightly sheepish expression. "I got better about that with time." She said referring to hurting him so badly.
"Oh God." I said burying my head in my hands. It was hopeless. I couldn't do that to Bella. That was what she considered a success?
"Edward" she soothed touching my arm. "You love her. It will be so much easier for you. You can focus on your love for her rather than your physical pleasure."
"I don't know. You were trying to be careful. What if it's too much for me – I've never done this before. What if?" I couldn't complete that sentence, imagining all the horrible ways I could hurt Bella. "You had so much experience and look what happened." She was about to comment again, but I continued with the worst part. "As if that isn't bad enough – How much worse would it be for a woman? I can't do that to her. I won't. I don't care what I've promised."
"Edward. Look at me." I kept my head buried in my hands like a petulant child until she grabbed my face with one hand and raised it to meet her gaze. "You love her. She is your mate. You wouldn't do anything to hurt her. You already drank her blood for crying out loud- and yet she lives to tell the tale. Love for humanity is what allowed me to let them live. Think what your love for her will allow you to accomplish." I watched her carefully looking for any doubt in her words.
"As long as you let her take the lead and don't push things before she's ready- it will be okay." She truly believed every word.
"Thank you, Tanya." I said sincerely. I had a better idea of what lay ahead of us thanks to Tanya's experience and I was grateful she cared enough to initiate the conversation.
She hugged me quickly and laughed. "Come on. It's about time someone de-flowered you. Don't be so nervous about it." She teased.
I rolled my eyes at her and managed a smirk. She punched me lightly on the shoulder and hopped up, extending her hand to me.
"Now, let's have some fun hunting unsuspecting animals. You'll be a married man tomorrow and we won't be able to have these little sexual encounters any longer. I don't do married." She teased as I accepted her hand. She pulled me up with ease and we ran into the woods in search of her dinner.
Tomorrow I would be a married man. And I would try to fulfill my promises to Bella- all of them. God help me, I would try. Our love would have to be enough.