Thanks to my betas, MarcyJo and NoMoreThanUsual, both wonderful authors!
With Great Restraint
"I can't believe you left her alone with that mutt," Rosalie murmured, looking toward the trees at Bella. No matter which way we turned, I could see my love, my wife, through either Rosalie's eyes or my own.
"It's what she wanted, what she needed. He is under control." Control was foremost in Jacob's mind, he was intent on being kind to Bella, hiding his true feelings. If his attitude changed, I would take her away in a heart beat.
You are a mystery, dear brother, the way you give in to her in some instances, yet refuse her in others. "But I'm not questioning it any longer." Rosalie cleared her thoughts and pulled me close. "Congratulations, Edward. I'm truly happy that you've found your mate." She filled herself with the happiness she felt every time she'd said "I do" to Emmett, each vow as significant to her as the first.
"Thank you, Rose." I kissed her on the cheek. "I am lucky to have you for a sister."
She pulled back and looked at me in surprise, seeing nothing but sincerity in my eyes. It only took her a moment to find the words to kill the sentiment. "Yes, you are," she smirked.
Jacob and Bella twirled slowly, dancing to their own song. Bella mentioned Jacob's hair, and the memories that flooded him made me stiffen. She'd liked his hair longer, and he relished how she'd stroked it when he was in wolf form, so long ago.
"It's him, isn't it?" Rosalie whispered.
"It's nothing," I said, forcing my shoulders to relax. Jacob may be in love with Bella, but he was not letting her see his pain, not trying to steal her, this time. He truly was trying to be her friend.
If only I could run far enough away, find some way to get her out of my brain, Jacob lamented. Some way to get them ALL out of my head.
"Good luck," I murmured to myself, remembering when I'd tried to do the same thing.
"What?" Rosalie asked.
I shook my head, applauding as the song ended.
"May I have the next dance with the groom?" a sultry voice asked.
"Of course, Tanya," Rosalie answered, and winked. "But he's married now, so you'll have to keep your hands to yourself."
I fingered the bridge of my nose, but Tanya just laughed, the soft symphony of her mirth drawing stares from those around us.
Catching her hand, we circled into the crowd as the music began again. Jacob was still savoring having Bella in his arms, but remained calm.
Tanya glanced in their direction. "She is beautiful, Edward. It is clear you've found your mate, it shows in your very skin." Turning back to me, she noted the radiant glow I seemed to have about me, and how it brightened when I looked or touched Bella, my mate.
"Thank you, Tanya, you are very gracious."
If it's not too forward of me, do you intend to make her immortal?
"Yes. She will not be swayed from that future." I sighed. Bella's change was not the biggest problem I had to deal with at the moment. The thought of touching my wife brought more immediate issues to mind.
"Oh, Edward, I've made you uncomfortable again, haven't I. I'm sorry."
"No, it's not that..." I had in my arms the one person who knew the challenge I faced, the warring desires I felt. But could I ask this most personal question of Tanya, considering our history? It wasn't fair, but only she could tell me what to expect... "I have a question, but am embarrassed to ask."
Tanya's eyebrows rose with curiosity. "A question for me that embarrasses you? I'm afraid it can only pertain to one topic." Her mind immediately wandered to her bedroom.
I took a deep breath, "Yes, it is about... intimacy... but I would appreciate you not trying to guess."
"Very well. You know I'll tell you anything you want to know." She tried unsuccessfully to keep her favorite positions for sex from crossing her mind, and I winced. Drawing this out was not helping, so I cut to the core of the matter.
"How do you manage with human men - without killing them?" I whispered.
It was as if all the lights came on in Tanya's mind, and I was nearly blinded by her realization. "You won't wait until she's one of us?" she asked, stunned.
I spun her to a darker corner of the dance floor, where I could have a clearer view of Jacob and Bella. They were still swaying to the music, though Jacob was nearly as wound up as I was at the moment.
"It's not tonight, Jacob," Bella said softly, sending relief through him.
Don't do it, Jacob thought, wishing he could convince Bella to stay human. He didn't speak the words, but recognized the inevitable... and that he couldn't influence her decision. As I couldn't...
"It is not up to me," I said, frustration creeping into my tone.
My dear Edward, you are in deep, aren't you. I detected a hint of jealousy in her thoughts - not directed at Bella - but for wanting to experience the deep connection that I shared with my wife. I'm envious.
I smiled at my friend, happy that she understood how Bella was a part of me, and I of her. But would she help me?
Tanya stared into my eyes, reading my reaction, and then began to answer my inquiry. It takes enormous discipline to keep a human alive during sex, Edward. You know how I lived before-human men were nothing more than a fetish and a meal. When I realized that they deserved life as much as I did, it took great restraint to leave them breathing. I wasn't successful the first time.
My eyes closed and my stomach dropped to my feet. There wouldn't be a second chance for me.
"Don't lose heart, Edward. You have advantages that I didn't," she reassured.
I spun her around again as she tried to order her thoughts.
I had to change my view, where you are starting from scratch, so to say. For me, there was no feast without sex, no climax without blood. I had to re-learn the experience of physical love, discern the reactions of my body from those of my thirst. You have always separated the two, assuming you've never made love to any of your victims, so in that way, you are miles ahead of my first experience. Each time after, it was easier to balance the enjoyment with the fragility of my lover. I barely leave a bruise, now, she thought with a smile.
Her description, meant as encouragement, only served to reinforce my fears. Without intending to, she'd made it perfectly clear that my lack of sexual experience would only increase the danger.
My distress must have shown in my face.
"Edward, are you all right? You haven't killed any of your lovers, have you?" she said a little too loudly.
Newton bounced past us, his mouth hanging open, but dismissed his shock when Tanya giggled. It must have been some kind of joke, he thought. How many lovers has that guy had? He peered at Jessica, who he'd caught checking out the tuxedos around her, and wondered about the guilty expression on her face.
I rolled my eyes and pushed his jealous drivel away.
Tanya's mind was occupied sifting through her assumptions of me. Is that why you weren't interested in me - because I'm not human? Have you been keeping the incubus myth alive?
If it were possible for a vampire to blush, I would be doing so now. Of course she assumed I'd taken a lover sometime in my nearly ninety immortal years, taking for granted that it'd been a vampire. The possibility that I'd been the male equivalent to her succubus reputation sent her reeling.
"No, I've never killed any human women." Bella was the only woman I'd ever tasted... would she be the first one I'd kill? Jacob's thought mirrored mine again as he wondered exactly when I would change - or kill - Bella.
Tanya followed my lead silently for a few measures, trying to understand my conundrum.
"There is only one way I can really show you." She decided to demonstrate through her thoughts, remembering the first human she managed to love without killing.
She'd seduced him in a saloon, needing only a few words to entice the man upstairs to her hotel room. By her long white undergarments I guessed the era was late nineteenth century. If this disturbs you, Edward, by all means tell me. Please know that I do not bring these memories up to make you more uncomfortable. I know you are not interested in me. For once I didn't detect anything but truth in her words.
"I understand, Tanya, and I appreciate your frankness." So many times I'd fought to keep her exploits out of my mind, but this one time I would allow myself to see. Bella's life depended on it.
I continued the dance as she remembered the touches, the kisses, the feeling of her lover's warm skin against hers. As he entered her, he was so enraptured that her cold body did not dampen his reaction. Would that be the same for Bella?
His heat filled her from the center out as she rocked with him, losing her own sense of her surroundings. She pulled her lover tightly to her chest, the desire to feel every inch of his body against hers the only thought as her body exploded with euphoria. The sensation contracted every one of her muscles, and a new lust filled her. His scent, his flavor called to her and she clamped her lips closed, resisting the smoldering urge to end the tryst with her teeth at his neck. The thought of him lying in a coffin disturbed her, and she managed to force her hands open and plant them on the brass headboard behind her. It gave way easily in her grasp as she moaned and arched, still riding the waves of orgasm. In my arms, Tanya shivered at the memory.
"Sorry," she said sheepishly.
I nodded, but said nothing. The act itself was not new to me - living with three happily married, very affectionate couples had given me unintended glimpses into every aspect of lovemaking. It was the intensity of her memory that left my insides quaking. The heat of her consort intoxicated Tanya, and was what kept her clamoring for human companionship, even though she wasn't completely physically satisfied without feeding from the man at the peak of their joining.
The thought being in a similar position with Bella terrified me. To feel such pleasure with her, such release, and be surrounded by her infinitely more desirable scent would be unbearable.
I checked on Jacob again, surprised to find a laugh dancing on the edge of his thoughts.
"You'd rather spend it how? Playing checkers? Ha ha," he said in a voice that seemed to be teasing.
I'd lost the context of their conversation, but he was imagining me and Bella hunched over a game board in the middle of a huge bed. What was this?
Tanya interrupted me as she returned to the memory at the point she'd left off, savoring the last vestiges of ecstasy. What she showed me next turned my fears to horror.
After the pleasure subsided, she gently rolled the unconscious man off of her. She bit her lip as she inspected her lover, listening for his heartbeat. His limp body was covered with red hand prints, and his shoulder drooped at an unnatural angle. Several bones had been broken, but she couldn't remember precisely when he'd been injured. Relief filled her when he took a halting breath.
"I did it," she'd whispered in the past.
"Is this how it always ends?" I said hoarsely.
"What? What did you say?" Jacob said with the same alarm.
No, of course not... not any more. I've found ways to channel my strength in other ways. That is what you must learn to do - at least until she's one of us. But you know how hard that is, redirecting such explosive bliss.
She eyed me carefully, smoothly transitioning into the new song. She was beginning to suspect the truth - that my problem was not just restraint, but inexperience. But my attention was elsewhere.
"Have a real honeymoon? While you're still human?" Jacob's anger flared and I tensed. They'd been discussing the same topic as Tanya and I... and Jacob was losing his grip on control. My hands fell from Tanya's.
Edward, you know if...
Before Tanya could finish her proposition, I heard Jacob's thoughts turn violent. Bella's words galvanized me. "Ow, Jake! Let go!"
"Thank you Tanya," I said curtly as I stepped off the dance floor. Leaving the lights of the party, I raced at full speed to Bella.
"Bella! Have you lost your mind? You can't be that stupid! Tell me you're joking!" Jacob yelled. He'll kill you, the wolf thought. How can I get through to you!
"Jake - stop!" Bella screeched as he shook her.
If Jacob didn't let go off my wife I would rip his arms from his body. Followed by his head. Once I got Bella away, then Jacob and I would finish this.
"Take your hands off her," I snarled. This is your last chance, dog. He would never touch my Bella again; when I was through with him, he'd never draw another breath. For once, restraint would be the last thing on my mind.
Yes, I'm also working on the next update to Dark Side of the Moon... more angst coming soon to an Edward near you!