Author's Note: This story was initially intended to be a simple interlude between Edward and Bella, but after writing several chapters I realized that it could (and will) turn into something more. The events here take place at some point after Twilight. This is written for people who, like me, simply cannot get enough of Edward and Bella's endearing interactions, but who also enjoy a bit of plot with their fluff.

Inspiration while writing: Your Hand in Mine by Explosions in the Sky

Breathe Deeply

A Fan-Fiction by False Modesty

I loved being here like this, with him. As he lay beside me, his skin sparkled like a sheet of exotic diamonds, interrupted only by his piercing amber eyes and his endearingly crooked smile. It was during moments like this with Edward, here in the meadow, our private sanctuary, that I realized the extent to which I was completely and utterly in love in with him.

It was an uncharacteristically warm afternoon in Forks, and after our final class that day Edward and I drove down the one-ten to the forest that had become our own little secret. He was in a good mood and decided to humor me by laying with me for a while in the meadow, beneath the warm sky. I loved watching his skin sparkle more brilliantly than the sun itself.

He lay next to me in the grass, one hand folded behind his head and the other holding me securely to his solid chest. We lounged for a few moments in silence, his fingertips gently stroking my bare arm and my own hands curiously tracing the contours of his angular jaw down to his abdomen, firm even beneath his shirt.

"Edward?" I murmured, feeling my coherence slip away as I drank in his near-perfect features.

"Mmm?" he said absentmindedly, reaching to gently stroke my cheek with the backs of his fingers.

"When I'm with you…," I paused, moving my lips but unable to formulate the words correctly. His beautiful amber eyes were fixated on my face intently, curiously.

"I just…," I continued, before sighing and giving up. "I love you." I moved closer to him, resting my forehead against his as I simply enjoyed the close contact. He returned the gesture by playfully rubbing the tip of his nose against mine several times. I giggled quietly, girlishly, in spite of myself, and his deep, easy laughter echoed in return.

"You're usually more eloquent than this, Bella," he admonished gently, the corners of his mouth tilting up as he arched a perfectly masculine eyebrow.

I sighed. He was frustratingly right, as usual – I typically was eloquent, and sarcastic. But those traits usually vanished when I was with Edward. He reduced me to a mumbling, girlish mess, and I think I had reached the point where I didn't mind it one bit. The only option I had left to avoid making a complete fool of myself, I thought, was to be completely straightforward.

"Time stands still," I said simply, my eyes locking with his as we stayed close, with our foreheads touching. "When we're here, like this, I can picture being with you forever, spending time sitting with you and talking to you about the most inconsequential things. I never want it to stop."

I wasn't entirely sure what the point of all of this was, or what exactly had possessed me to tell Edward this. It could have been the breathtaking beauty of his solid form, stretched out so casually beside me, or the perfection of his easy grin and intense eyes, always focused on me as though I were the most precious treasure in the world. It could have been the serene mood we were both in at that exact moment, lulled by the warm sunlight and the whisper-soft breeze that caressed our skin at just the right moments. Regardless, I felt the overwhelming need to express to Edward that he was the most important person in my life – and I knew in my very core that that was never going to change.

"Bella," he said huskily, gently bringing me back from my thoughts. He sat upright and pulled me into his lap. I sighed, laying my head against his chest as his pale, slender fingers combed through my hair, his fingertips lightly massaging my scalp. "You are perfect. Do you know that?"

His voice sounded gentle and rugged at the same time, and I felt my cheeks flush in a mixture of self-consciousness and excitement. "I want you," I murmured, my hands wrapping around his torso and coming to rest at his hard, muscled back. I squeezed my eyes shut and sighed, expecting him to gently push me away, knowing I'd probably gone too far.

But Edward simply let his fingers trail down to the tips of my long brown hair before forming a secure hold around my waist, drawing me even closer to him. I couldn't help but smile, feeling so protected, so loved. I was so lucky to have him.

"I want you, too," he breathed, his lips touching down gently on the top of my head.

I tilted my head to look up at him, my eyes wide with surprised. "You do?" I could feel my heart drumming persistently in my chest.

He flashed me a wide smile that I returned immediately. "Of course, silly," he murmured as he softly kissed the tip of my nose. "But that doesn't mean we can do anything about it," he added, speaking slowly and patiently.

I growled from somewhere deep in my throat and pouted up at him, my frustration hopelessly evident. I was beginning to resign myself to a future of gentle kisses and caresses – something that any normal girl would be thrilled to have, especially with a boyfriend like Edward. But this was different. I had grown to love him so much that a mere brush of the lips paled in comparison to the overwhelming emotions I felt inside of me. I needed to feel him close to me – impossibly close. But Edward was adamant.

I looked down at my lap, only to have my chin immediately lifted back up to meet Edward's startlingly powerful eyes. "Haven't I told you I think about you constantly?" he demanded, his voice low and determined. "That if I could dream, it would be about you? That I find you so utterly tempting that I hardly trust myself to be close to you like this?"

"I know you think you'll hurt me," I said, my words coming out in a rush, "but why can't we take things slow? Mind over manner, remember?"

Edward frowned. "Bella, let's not start this again."

"Why not?" My voice sounded whiny, to my dismay, as my frown matched his. "We both want this-"

"But we can't have it, so it only frustrates both of us to talk about it," he finished firmly, his grip around my waist still tight, possessive.

"We can take things slow," I repeated, emphasizing each word carefully. I reached up and placed my hands on either side of his cool, powder-white face, my pleading eyes dueling silently with his stubborn ones.

Edward's frown softened, but he didn't speak. Another breeze swept across the meadow and gently rustled my hair.

"I refuse to put you in danger," he said quietly.

"You already have several times, without meaning to," I reminded him teasingly, my lips curling into a soft smile. "I survived."

Edward's frown deepened, then disappeared again. "You're not going to let this go." It was more a statement than a question.


More silence. Edward released his grip on my waist then, placing his newly freed hands on top of mine and massaging them gently. "What did you have in mind?" he asked finally.

"Uh," I murmured, caught off guard. My mind immediately flashed to all the visions I'd had of Edward and I, together, and my face colored at the thought of putting those actions into words. Edward seemed to sense this, and grinned.

"Yes?" he asked, clearly amused.

I sighed, removing my hands from his face and trailing my fingertips lightly down his muscled chest, frustratingly covered by a striped blue polo. "I'd… like to see you without this on, for example," I said, my voice hardly more than a whisper. My face colored even more and my heart pounded as I bit my lower lip, unable to believe that I'd just said that.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw that dazzling, crooked smile. "That seems harmless enough," he said, slowly but pleasantly, leaning forward to give me a quick kiss on the forehead. "What else?"

I groaned, forcing myself to look up and meet his now-sparkling eyes. He was thoroughly enjoying this. "Edward," I whined, "Why are you making this so difficult? I feel like this isn't mutual at all-"

"Hush," he said, still amused, as he placed a cool white finger over my indignant, pouty lips. He sighed. "Bella, you know I desire you constantly."

"Prove it," I said heatedly. "What do you think about, then?"

He hesitated, smiling softly, before leaning close to me so that his lips nearly touched my ear. "Well," he murmured, his voice silky perfection, "I've imagined you lying beneath me, so soft and yielding, your delicate fingers clutching my back as I press myself hard against you, and kiss you with a force that we have… yet to explore," he finished delicately.

My eyes fell shut and my lips parted as I held very still, picturing his image along with him, not ever wanting to let it go. I shuddered involuntarily.

He chuckled and gently nipped my ear. "A little preview?" he inquired.

"Can we go to your house?" I asked quietly, my breath coming in uneven intervals.

He looked at me, startled. "Right now?"

"Yes," I said, locking my eyes with his. "Specifically, to your room."

"Did you want to borrow a CD?" he asked innocently, but I was already disentangling myself from his arms and standing up, steadying myself on trembling legs. He was beside me before I could blink, his arm wrapped securely around my waist.

"We're going to go very slow, Bella," he told me seriously, as we exited the meadow at a human pace. "And if I feel like I'm losing control at any point-"

"We'll stop," I agreed amiably, nodding my head once. I was elated at the progress we were suddenly making, and willing to take what I could get. My heart thudded wildly in my chest, and I began to feel lightheaded as I comprehended the conversation we'd just had. I staggered forward a bit, somehow tangling my feet together.

"You just might be a bigger threat to yourself than I am," he mused as he effortlessly caught and steadied me with one arm.

"Maybe, but if I faint I'm holding you personally responsible," I grumbled, although I couldn't suppress the smile that had spread across my face in giddy anticipation of what was to come.

Edward's deep laughter echoed throughout the field.