Author's Note: This is set during the honeymoon, in the early morning hours after Bella and Edward made love for the second time. Enjoy! :)


Epilogue

I lay with my hands clasped behind my head, watching as the ceiling slowly warmed with the light of dawn. Bella lay across my body – I burned where she touched me and itched with longing where she didn't. I'd thought last night, with the little rational part of my mind that had remained, that perhaps making love to her again would ease the longing for her that put thirst to shame. Impossibly, I wanted her even more this morning.

To think I had once considered it a torment when I had kept watch through her sleep, waiting for her to awaken with smiling eyes and stolen kisses. In retrospect, it had been simple – as easy as resisting the blood of a doe. Her bare skin beckoned now, radiating heat, and my entire body responded with warm echoes.

This was insanity. She was still so breakable. I would never be able to forget the look of her black-and-blue breasts, her lips swollen from my bruising kisses. Maybe, like so much of the other desensitizing, those images were part of what kept her safe last night. Well, safer, anyway. The woodchip scent of the pulverized headboard was ironically bland considering the violence the furniture had absorbed last night.

Bella's light snores stuttered and she shifted, her hand sliding up my bare chest. So help me, if she begged for more, I'd give it to her even if it meant waking her up. But as she had for the last week, she wordlessly slept. I would let her rest, then. Heal. Recover.

And when she awoke?

With her soft body against mine, I was acutely aware of how little it would take to arouse her again. A suggestive smile. Caressing her cheek and then letting my hand drift down in another fulfillment of so many fantasies. A single kiss – slow and tender to begin with – would thoroughly wake her. But she was human; she would need breakfast. She'd probably want a shower, too. And even though I couldn't see any bruises, I imagined she would be stiff at least. Her needs had to come first.

For a week, I'd kept my hands to myself. I could behave a few hours or days until she again initiated something more. It must always be her choice. I comforted myself that I probably wouldn't have to wait very long. Even with how badly I'd beaten her the first time, she'd been hinting she'd like "more practice" before the day was over. And I thought I was a masochist.

Last night had made the effort worth it – the humiliation of Alice seeing my failures, the struggle of desensitizing, the patient hours spent rehearsing. Last night, I'd finally given her the one human experience she wanted, untarnished by my weakness. I'd finally earned the faith and trust of my wife.