AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hey everyone! So, I somehow got this chapter done. Woohoo! I promised I would finish this fic at some point and I plan on keeping that promise. With that in mind, there is only one more chapter, and maybe an epilogue. Enoy!

DISCLAIMER: I do not own anything that is recognizable as being from the Twilight books. I also do not own The Phantom of the Opera or anything associated with it.


Chapter Twenty-Four

Natasha's POV continued…

If I wasn't aware of this already, I soon learned that leaving Alice in charge of anything was both brilliant and stupid all at the same time. She was incredibly thorough and left very little for me to do in actuality, which was great because then Carlisle was completely in the dark.

I wanted to keep it that way. He had already done so much for me and I wanted to be able to surprise him for once. Not that there hadn't been occasions in the last couple of weeks that almost blew my cover.

Alice had made up a binder that was at least four inches thick of information for me to consider – flowers, dresses, cakes (which we couldn't even eat), and everything in between. Thankfully Alice had labeled the binder as "Home Improvements" and everything in it had incognito names. For example, the fabric swatches for bridesmaids' dresses were listed as "curtains". This meant that if anyone (i.e. Carlisle) stumbled across the book, he would have no idea of its true meaning.

It was late one evening about two weeks before the actual day. I sat in the kitchen, perched up on a stool with my binder laid open on the counter. I knew I was alone as I could be, considering the amount of people who lived in the house. Rosalie, Emmett and Edward had gone for a hunt, while Alice and Jasper had sequestered themselves in their room.

I had finally narrowed down the color of the bridesmaids dresses to four different choices: a shimmering champagne, a frosty blue, a candy-apple red, and a deep plum. I pulled the color swatches out and laid them out before me. Tapping my finger against my chin, I contemplated the possibilities.

I jumped slightly when a strong pair of arms wound around my waist and a hard chest pressed against my back.

"What has you so lost in thought, my love, that I can sneak up on you?" Carlisle whispered into my ear.

I turned in his arms, winding my own around his neck. My fingers buried in the thick blonde hair at the nape of his neck and pulled his head down to brush my lips against his.

"Curtains," I whispered, pulling away slightly.

Carlisle chuckled, kissing me again. "I didn't realize you were so interested in interior design."

I shrugged slightly. "Not really, but Alice thought I should have some input since I am living here now."

Carlisle raised an elegantly arched brow. "Alice actually wants input?"

I bit my tongue slightly, realizing how close I was to having my cover blown. I thought it best if I tried to change the subject and quickly.

"A way to make me feel useful, I guess. Either way, what are you doing home so early? I wasn't expecting you for several more hours."

Carlisle sighed heavily before speaking. "It was quiet and since I had been there since early this morning, they thought it best that I go home and get some rest. It is really frustrating some times."

"Well, they must have known that I was missing you."

Securing his arms more firmly around my waist, Carlisle effortlessly lifted me off my stool and spun me around a moment, before settling me down on my feet. I giggled as I buried my face in his neck, breathing in his scent. I wished I never had to let him go. It was in that moment, that I realized I had made the right choice. I yearned to tell him what I had planned, but I knew it would be better if I didn't. I had sought out Alice to make sure that I was making the right decision and she had reaffirmed that I had.

"And they must have known the same for me," he whispered, kissing the top of my head.

Tilting my face up, I asked, "You missed me?"

"Of course. I wish you could come back to the hospital with me."

"Me too. Me too."

Clearing my throat, I pulled away from him slightly and with an arm around each other's waist, we made our way into the living room.

"Can you tell me of your day, please? So, it doesn't feel like I am still so far removed from society." I asked softly.

Sitting down on the couch, Carlisle settled me down on his lap, with my arms wrapped around his chest and my head on his shoulder. He trailed his fingertips slowly up and down the length of my arm. I felt warm and safe in the confines of his arms. That somehow with him all the worries about the never-ending future that lay before us didn't seem so daunting.

"Are you still lonely?" Carlisle asked after a few long moments of silence. I simply nodded my head in reply. "I wish there was something I could do to help you. Anything to prevent you from feeling what I…" He stopped when I gently pressed the tips of my fingers to his lips.

"I would never wish what you experienced when you came into this life on anyone, Carlisle. You have been so good to me and understanding throughout this whole thing. I could not ask for more than you have already given me. You gave me my life back, you gave me another chance, you gave us another chance." I pressed my lips to the underside of his chin. "Now, let us put this behind us for now. Tell me of your day."

We spent the next several hours, curled up in each other's arms while he told me everything, not sparing a single gory detail.

Carlisle's POV…

I knew she was unhappy being caged in. I knew also that she was finally beginning to understand why I had to enforce this rule. After the visit with her grandmother, she realized what a danger she was to those around her. It was something that I hated to have to reinforce, but the risk was too great to ignore.

It pained me to have to see her like this, depending on the stories I could tell of my time away from the house and those of the others. It was the only thing that made her feel real again and normal. She would not admit it to me, because she knew I would worry too much. Even without her telling, I did worry. I wanted something better for her than what I was currently able to give. Maybe that is why she was so excited when I said I would take some time off from the hospital in the coming weeks. Then we could go somewhere new together and explore the wonders that this life could bestow on us.

A week passed us by and I began to notice that something was not entirely regular in our household. There were hushed whispers everywhere. It was like they all knew something I did not. Whenever Alice would see me, she would burst out into the brightest smile I had seen her wear in many years. In fact, it was a little unsettling, even if she was normally very happy. Her unending happiness was also wearing on Jasper, who no matter what he did was unable to. Edward, on the other hand, would just smirk and shake his head whenever he would see me.

What could I be possibly thinking that you think is so funny? I finally asked Edward.

"Or what you are not thinking," Edward replied casually as he tinkered on the keys of his piano.

I focused him with a pointed look from behind the book I was reading. "Is there something I should know?"

Edward simply shrugged, not bothering to answer my question. This left me wondering what in the world was going on.

My curiosity was only amplified four days later. It was a Friday, of that I am sure. Natasha had somehow convinced me to take her to have dinner at Noah's house. She had not seen her dear friend since she was changed and was practically crawling out of her skin to do so. I tried to stay resolute and firm on my decision, but when she gave me that sad face and her lower lip stuck out, I was a goner. She had reassured me that it would just be us, Noah, and his new boyfriend, so it was only two humans she had to overcome. While this did not totally sit well with me, I gave in.

I waited for her in the living room, while she got ready. I was dressed comfortably in black pants, a light blue button-down, and navy tie. Twisting the thick platinum band on my finger, I paced back and forth. Dropping down on to the couch, I racked a hand through my hair. I was worried about tonight. Something was not sitting well with me.

I was drawn out of my thoughts by the sound of high heels clicking down the stairs. Rising from my spot, I walked over to stand at the stairs. The venom pooled in my mouth when I saw her. Clad in a deep purple dress which fell to the tops of her knees, a daring neckline, and jeweled straps, she was a vision. Her rich chocolate brown hair fell in soft waves about her shoulders. Taking in her appearance, my eyes trailed down following the long lean lines of her legs.

Gallantly, I held my hand out to her as she drew closer. Her smile reached her eyes, and for the first time I noticed the gold speckled in the blue. Maybe her eyes would change after all. When she reached the final step, I pulled her into my arms, pressing a chaste kiss to her lips.

"Methinks I should make you go get a sweater to cover up, else I be distracted all evening," I whispered as I nuzzled my lips behind her ear.

Natasha giggled and playfully hit my arm. "I take it you like what you see, Dr. Cullen."

"Always, Mrs. Cullen," I replied before I had a chance to think about it. I bit my tongue and was quick to correct myself. "Natasha, I…"

She simply smiled, pressing a finger to my lips before replacing it with her own. "Hush, Carlisle. I am starting to warm up to the idea."

I held her close for a moment, not knowing what to say. It was almost enough to set my poor dead heart aflutter.

After a moment, we parted and headed out to my car. We drove in comfortable silence and I would occasionally glance over at Natasha in the passenger seat. She had her hands folded neatly in her lap, but I could tell she was doing everything she could to prevent herself from wringing them together. I took this as a sign of her nervousness at being around multiple people.

Reaching over, I took one of her hands in mine and give it a comforting squeeze. She gave me a wobbly smile, even though she kept her eye focused ahead.

We arrived at Noah's house promptly on time and were enthusiastically greeted. Noah pulled Natasha into a tight hug and I noticed both of them shudder; Noah from the cold of Natasha's skin and Natasha mostly likely from the combination of her ability and blood. After quickly shaking my hand, he ushered us inside and introduced us to his new boyfriend, Evan.

The night was comfortable, fun and it was nice to be out with people sometimes. Instead of serving dinner, Noah thought it better to have a bunch of finger food. This made it a lot easier for Natasha and me to hide the food in our napkins. We sat around the coffee table in Noah's living room, sharing stories.

"Do you remember that time in high school," Noah started as he pointed at Natasha, who had her face in my shoulder. "when we auditioned for the spring musical our junior year."

Natasha groaned. "You slipped during the dance portion and took me down with you! I was black and blue for a week. Let us not forget when you thought it was a good idea to wear sandals in January in Forks!"

"As stupid as that was, I still have all my toes," Noah quipped.

When Natasha's fingernails started biting into my forearm, I knew it was time to take our leave. With promises to visit again soon, we headed out to my car.

Once we were outside, Natasha relaxed significantly, though she seemed more fidgety now than she did when we first arrive. After we pulled into the driveway, Natasha quickly came over to my side of the car. Grabbing my hand, she tugged me out of the garage and into the woods.

"Where are you taking me?" I asked as I willingly followed her.

Her eyes sparkled. "You will see."

Handing intertwined, we ran until we reached the coast. Natasha kicked off her shoes and fell down on the grass, pulling me with her. We lay on our back gazing up at the sky for a long time. I rolled over on my side, propping myself up on my elbow and she did the same. Reaching up a hand, I tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, my fingertips trailing along her jaw.

"Carlisle," she whispered as she caught my wrist in her hand and brushed her lips lightly over the tips of my fingers. She moved closer until her body was almost touching mine.

Before I gave her a chance to say anything further, I pulled her closer, rolling onto my back, with her above me. She leaned over me for a moment, while I gazed up into her beautiful face, wanting nothing more than to preserve this image in my mind forever. Capturing my face in her little hands, she crushed her lips to mine, her tongue begging entrance, which I swiftly granted.

"I love you," I murmured, when our lips finally parted.

"I love you too."

She rested her head on my chest and her hands gripping handfuls of my shirt. I ran a soothing hand across her back when she stiffened suddenly.

"What is the matter, my love?"

"Nothing," she replied, her voice muffled.

"Something must be wrong, if you are shying away from me now."

"I thought I would have more courage than this. I had run this moment over and over again in my head and I thought I had finally mastered it."

I hummed low in my throat, sounding almost like I was purring. It seemed to calm her somewhat. I just wanted to know what she was talking about; curiosity was going to kill this cat if she dragged this out any longer.

"Why don't you just tell me? Don't think about it anymore," I coaxed gently.

"But I wanted this to be perfect," she pouted, "and it seems like my nerves are going to get the better of me."

"What could you possibly have to say to me that would have you nervous?"

Natasha lifted her head to look up at me. Her eyes sparkled with unshedable tears.

"I love you, more than I thought I could ever love another person. I want to spend my life with you, every moment of forever."

My mouth fell open when she lifted her left hand and removed the rings that rested on her ring finger. Taking my hand in hers, she placed the rings in them. I couldn't move, or even think straight.

She placed a firm hand on my chest, keeping me in place, lest I do something stupid.

"Those were a pretense to make people believe what had never happened. I realize now that is what I want. I want to be yours, now and forever. Will you marry me, Carlisle Cullen?" Her voice trailed off into a whisper that if it were not for my vampire hearing, I would have missed her question.

It felt like my heart was going to burst from my chest. I pulled her up and I feverously peppered her face with feather light kisses.

"Yes," I muttered in-between kisses.

Natasha left out a heavy breath and laughed happily. "It is a good think you said so."

"Why do you say that? Did you think I would not?"

She grinned brightly. "Because the wedding is planned for tomorrow."


Please review and let me know what you think of this chapter! I was rather on the fence about it when I wrote it.