So, this long awaited chapter was written for the Fandom for Mental Health Compilation. I hope you all enjoy it.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended.
Have and to Hold
"Only two days until the wedding. How are you doing?" Jasper sat across from me in his office, his signature notepad and pen on the arm rest of his chair.
I shrugged, thinking over his question. "Okay, I suppose."
He nodded in encouragement. "Just 'okay'?"
Tucking a piece of hair behind my ear, I felt a slight blush form on my cheeks. "As far as the wedding is concerned, I'm doing okay. Alice and Rose, and even Esme and my mom have done so much that there hasn't really been anything for me to worry about."
"And besides the wedding?" he asked.
I knew what he meant, but I wasn't quite ready to deal with that.
Jasper simply smiled. He leaned forward and a few strands of his hair fell in his eyes. "Bella, we've been over this before. I know talking about intimate subjects is difficult for you; that is only natural given your history. But, in order for you to truly move on, you have to find a way to talk about it. Your likes, dislikes, fears, expectations, it's okay to voice them."
I could feel my face and neck heating up even more at his words. Discussing sex in this fashion was awkward. Before I'd only ever talked about the attack and how that had affected me, but I'd never talked about… the other side of it. I wasn't sure if I could.
"What worries you the most about it?"
"That's just it. I'm not worried so much as… anxious," I finally said. "Edward has been so wonderful through all of this. Patient. And with the wedding here, I just… I want it all over with so that I don't have to keep wondering." Letting out a deep breath, I thought over my next words for a moment.
Jasper watched me, a curious expression on his face.
"I think there will be a part of me, for quite some time, that will still be afraid. Not of Edward, but of opening myself up to him in that way. I know that he would never hurt me, but I haven't experienced making love the way it was intended. It's hard to grasp what it'll be like when all I've felt is horror." That was the first time I'd really been able to explain what was going through my head. It felt good.
"Bella, that's completely understandable and a healthy way of looking at it. You've found a way to distinguish between the two," Jasper said, sounding proud. "And finding a way to discuss it with Edward will only further your progress. I know that it's difficult, you'll find that it'll bring the two of closer together."
We spent the rest of the session discussing ways for me to work on opening up. I still found it nerve wracking, but promised myself to at least try. At the end of the hour Jasper walked me to the office door. Just before I walked out he placed a hand on my arm, the barest tips of his fingers so as not to frighten me.
He smiled softly. "Bella, you have come such a long way. I am extremely proud of your progress."
"Thanks, Jasper." I nodded. Jasper's words meant more to me than I wanted to admit, so before the tears could start I ducked out of his office. I could hear him chuckle behind me and he called out that he would see me on Saturday.
My skin tingled with excitement.
It was finally here.
Edward's and mine.
I could hardly believe that it was finally happening. After everything that we had been through together, we were finally there. All of my previous fears and concerns felt completely insignificant. The only thing that mattered was each other and our commitment to love one another.
My cheeks hurt from smiling at the thought. I managed to pull my cell phone out and place a to-go order with one of our favorite restaurants. Since we were leaving for Forks the next day, it just didn't make sense to get food at the grocery store that we wouldn't be able to eat.
By the time I got home and changed into some more comfortable clothes, Edward came in. He looked tired after a long day, but I could see the undercurrent of excitement on his face. A smile curled his lips and didn't look like it was going anywhere any time soon. The top button on his shirt and his tie were undone and I could just make out a hint of his collarbone.
Edward sighed and set his bag down in the entryway. When he stood up and searched for me, I couldn't help the internal happy dance that went through my mind. Meeting my eyes, any residual tension in his body relaxed and his smile spread even further. "Bella."
I leaned back against the kitchen counter, suddenly feeling shy. "How was your day?"
"Long. I wanted to stay and make sure that my last patient was coming through from the procedure all right." He walked across the room, taking off his suit jacket and unbuttoning his shirt sleeves. "When he woke up and saw that I was still there he told me to go home. That I have a big weekend ahead of me."
I blushed. "He sounds pretty smart," I said.
Edward nodded. "Especially since he's only sixteen." He stopped in front of me, his arms resting on the counter on either side of me. The close proximity of his body and the intensity of his gaze sent a shiver through me. "How was your day?"
Did he really expect me to be able to answer that?
When I finally managed to find my voice, it was slightly husky as I said, "Good. Jasper and I had an interesting session." I took a moment to consider my next words. "And I feel like I'm ready."
The expression in his eyes at those last words shifted from shock to pride to… lust. He opened his mouth to speak and then abruptly shut it a few times. After what felt like an eternity he closed his eyes and groaned softly, resting his forehead against mine.
I rested my hands on his chest, just under his collarbone. Even though his heart sped up, I could feel his body relax underneath my touch. "Thank you," I whispered.
He pulled back slightly so that he could look into my eyes. "For what?" he asked, huskily.
"For being you. For loving me when I was a complete mess. For waiting when I know that it wasn't easy for you." I gripped his shirt in my hands, tugging him just a little bit closer to me. "For being loving and gentle and patient," I finished before pulling him to me for a soft kiss.
He wrapped one arm around my waist, pressing me closer against his body, and twined his fingers in my hair, holding me in place so that he could deepen the kiss. He gently sucked and nibbled on my lower lip.
My entire body simultaneously shivered and warmed at the contact. I barely even noticed the bite of the counter pressing into my lower back. When he finally ended the kiss I felt my knees give out and Edward had to hold me up. I pressed my forehead into his chest, panting and blushing.
"You are a bad influence on me, Miss Swan." Edward's voice was filled with longing and amusement.
"The same goes for you, Mr. Cullen," I murmured as he pressed a kiss to my neck.
Edward moved so that he no longer had me pressed against the counter and loosened his hold on my waist. We continued to stand together, breathing each other in and relishing each other's closeness, before finally letting go. He sighed slightly in frustration, making me smile shyly, before we made our way to the kitchen.
We ate our food quietly and then curled up together in the living room to watch a movie. He rolled his eyes at my choice, but smiled good naturedly when it started and even said some of the quotes along with me.
Around midnight we went to our room to change. Going to bed seemed like such a mundane thing to do, a waste of time, but sleep was a necessity.
The next thirty-six hours were going to be long and difficult.
The Cullen's property was being completely transformed thanks to Alice and Rose. Alice refused to let me see what they were doing, but I knew that it would be breathtaking.
Edward and I had a rather lazy morning before heading out to Forks. Being the bride and groom gave us a little leeway, but not much. Upon our arrival we were greeted by a flurry of activity as they set up for the wedding and rushed us quickly into the main house.
In order to keep out of the way, I went in search of my dad. He'd graciously agreed to stay at the Cullen's for the wedding and I wanted to spend some time with him before things got really crazy. I eventually located him in the main family room, eating a sandwich and watching a game on the flat screen.
Charlie nodded when he saw me. Always a man of few words.
I sat down beside him and watched the game quietly.
For a while we both just sat there, neither of us saying a word. It was nice just to be near him and watching the game reminded me of the way it was when I was in high school. Back before everything got turned upside down. When life was simple and all we had was each other.
"How you doing, Bells?" Charlie asked.
"Good." I kept my eyes on the TV so he wouldn't feel uncomfortable. "How about you?"
He fidgeted around. "Okay."
I couldn't help smiling. We had started talking more, but discussing our feelings was still an uncomfortable subject, for both of us.
Another silence passed between us before I thought of something to say. "Dad?"
"I love you."
He looked over at me, but then turned his attention back to the game just as quickly. When I looked at him out of the corner of my eye I saw his mustache twitch upward. "I love you too, honey."
We sat together for a while longer until Alice found me and dragged me to the kitchen. She insisted that we needed to go over the schedule for the rest of the weekend and sat me down next to Rose, my mom, and Esme. Her eyes were narrowed and her face set in planning mode, she meant business. I sat back and marveled at how organized she was with everything planned perfectly. There wouldn't be a moment unaccounted for until after the wedding.
Alice emphasized more than once that my only job was to relax and let the others take care of everything else. That wasn't an easy thing for me, not keeping busy, but it was something I'd worked on with Jasper and Edward. Finding peace in the quiet moments, learning not to be afraid.
So while everyone else helped with the last minute preparations and setting up, I went up to Edward's old room and did some outlining for the book idea that Angela and I had talked about. While the first one had been a fictionalized account of what I'd been through with James and my recovery, my next one was going to be the complete opposite. I wanted to write something fun and adventurous.
I spent the rest of the afternoon doing some basic research and worked on an outline. When I was ready to take a break, it was dinner time. The house was quiet as I made my way downstairs and I found Esme at the kitchen counter, a phone at her ear and a notebook that she was checking off. When she finished her conversation she politely ended the call and set the phone down on the counter.
"Hi, Esme," I said softly.
She glanced up, a soft smile spread across her lips. "Hello, dear. Are you hungry?"
I nodded, sitting down next to her on a stool. "I didn't realize that it'd gotten so late."
She went over to the fridge, pulled out a bowl, and set it in front of me. "Here you are." It was a fruit salad, which sounded just right. "I sent the boys to pick up food for the rehearsal dinner and once they're back we'll go over the ceremony."
"Thank you," I told her, softly. I ate quietly as she finished whatever was on her list.
Once everyone returned, we gathered in the dining room for the rehearsal. Reverend Weber went over each part of the ceremony and made sure we were okay with everything before he moved on. He wished us luck and told us he'd come back early the next day.
We filled plates with the food the boys had gotten and ate it in the living room. It felt so good to all be together. We laughed, cried, and told stories. For a little while, it was exactly the way it should have been. We were happy and together.
In going along with tradition, Alice insisted that Edward and I couldn't see each other after 10:30 that evening until the ceremony the next day. So, we all said goodnight to the boys and then gathered in Alice's room for an old-fashioned slumber party. She even insisted that I wear a homemade facial mask overnight that she'd concocted.
I was exhausted when we finally went to bed, and ready for it to be my wedding day.
To avoid us running into each other before the ceremony, Alice had a light breakfast and snacks brought up for me the following day. I nibbled slowly on the food while the makeup artists and hair dressers got to work. They wouldn't let me look until they were finished, so I contented myself to read some on my e-reader and to watch the others as they hurriedly moved around me.
It was organized chaos, but seemed to fit the day just right.
Alice and Rose left the room every so often to make sure everything was going well downstairs. The last time they came back, I had just slipped into my wedding dress. Alice squealed excitedly and bounced up to me. "Edward asked me to give this to you." She clipped a pearl and diamond bracelet around my wrist.
I gasped. It was beautiful.
I took a moment to breathe.
It was really happening.
Someone moved me in front of the mirror so I could look at myself, and a tear slid down my cheek. Alice had done a phenomenal job, and had ensured my features had been enhanced without overdoing it. It was a dream come true.
Everything else after that seemed to happen in a blur.
I held tightly to my bouquet once it was handed to me and managed to make it down the stairs without falling over. Charlie waited by the doors to the backyard and teared up when he saw me. I rested my arm in his and kissed his cheek.
He didn't say anything, but he didn't need to.
Then the music began to play.
It felt like an hour before I finally rounded the corner and I saw Edward at the altar.
But I did, and he was beautiful.
The tuxedo he wore was fitted perfectly for his frame and his hair, though attempted into some sort of tame, still remained beautifully messy. It was his smile though. That crooked smile that not only made him look shy and sexy, but also lit up his eyes and made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the room.
His eyes never left mine as Charlie and I walked.
I could barely breathe.
By the time we finally reached him, my entire body trembled and my heart pounded.
It wasn't from fear like I'd always believed.
It was from anticipation.
Edward reached for me and I went willingly to him, Charlie placing my hand in his.
Pastor Webber spoke, but I barely paid attention. All I could focus on was Edward and that we'd made it.
We exchanged our vows, both of our voices shaking as we spoke and tears running down our cheeks. I couldn't believe I was so lucky. He'd been so patient and we finally made it.
"…I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride."
Edward's arms immediately wrapped around me. "Finally," he murmured.
I heard several chuckles in the background, but none of them mattered. All I could focus on was my husband.
He pulled me closer to his body and bent down. "I love you, so much." Before I could return his words, his mouth closed over mine and I was lost. He'd always been careful with me in the past, and still was, but in that moment it felt as though he knew I could handle more. He deepened the kiss without hesitation and tightened his hold a little more. Each brush of his lips let me know how much he cherished me and that I was safe with him.
I tugged on his tuxedo jacket and Edward chuckled softly. He pulled back and pressed his lips to my forehead.
Everyone clapped and cheered, reminding me where we were.
He kissed me deeply one more time before he took my hand in his and led us back down the aisle and toward the house. Edward sat down on the top step and pulled me between his legs. I wrapped my arms around his neck, rested my forehead against his.
And we just held each other in the silence.
It was perfect.
Eventually, after posing for some pictures, we headed to the tent where the reception was being held. We were announced and greeted as we made our way in, overwhelmed by all of the well wishes.
My cheeks ached from smiling so much, but I couldn't help it. I'd never been so happy, or felt so free. I thought James had stolen that from me, but Edward changed all that with his love and patience.
As we were eating dinner, the emcee called us to the dance floor for our first dance.
I blushed, but followed my husband.
He wrapped one arm around my waist, took my freehand in his and tucked it close to his chest. His lips quirked as he stared into my eyes, our bodies close and his eyes dancing with happiness.
The music began.
I swayed with Edward as he moved us to the beautiful song and paused for only a second when I realized that it wasn't a recording. I glanced toward the stage and saw a woman sitting at a piano.
"Edward," I breathed out.
"For my wife, on our wedding day," he murmured in my ear.
A tear trailed down my cheek. "Thank you."
Neither of us spoke as we danced to "Man and Wife", lost in our own world.
Instead of spending our wedding night travelling, Carlisle and Esme had insisted we stay in the guest cottage they had on their land. It was just far enough away that we would have privacy, but close enough we could stop by the main house before our flight.
I could hardly believe it when it was time to go. The evening had felt both long and short.
We said our goodbyes to everyone, spending a little extra time with our family. Charlie and Renee tearfully hugged me and told me how much they loved me. I thanked Carlisle and Esme for their generosity in opening their home.
Alice and Rose insisted that I send them plenty of pictures along with any details I would feel comfortable with. Emmett, thankfully, just lifted me up in a bear hug and kissed my cheek.
Jasper shook Edward's hand and hugged me. "You have both come so far and I know you'll have a wonderful time together. With that said, if at any time, either of you need to talk, please feel free to call me."
Edward clapped Jasper on the shoulder. "Thanks. That means a lot."
"Yes, thank you so much," I said with a smile.
My husband smiled down at me. "Are you ready?"
I nodded. "I think I am."
With the cheers of our guests calling after us, Edward and I got into the car and drove off down the road that led to the cottage. Our fingers intertwined and resting on his lap, soft music playing in the background, I felt happy and relaxed.
We reached the cottage a few minutes later and it was perfect.
Edward grabbed a bag from the trunk before he scooped me up in his arms.
I squealed and wrapped my arms around his neck. "What are you doing?"
He walked toward the cottage, his grip firm around me. "I'm carrying my bride over the threshold. So, you better get used to it for awhile." He winked.
Such a playful side to my husband.
As he stepped inside, I couldn't help the gasp that escaped my lips.
Candles had been lit and set up, leading down the hall toward the bedroom. Rose petals trailed the floor toward the bedroom as well. I bit my lips shyly as I took it all in.
Edward lowered me to my feet and set the duffle bag he'd grabbed on the floor.
"This is beautiful," I whispered.
He nodded. "It is."
For a few minutes we just stood there, watching each other nervously.
I lowered my eyes to my hands, self-conscious and worried about what Edward wanted.
After several moments, Edward pulled me into his arms, our bodies pressed together without an inch of space between us. He rested his hands on my waist and lowered his forehead to mine. "Love, you know that we don't have to do anything. It's just us, you and me. If you want to wait, I completely understand."
I shook my head. "No, that's not what I want. I just… I don't know... how to be sexy for you." I hated admitting those words.
"Sweetheart, you already are." He pulled back slightly and kissed me softly. "You don't have to do anything else. I love you just as you are."
I smiled, feeling my cheeks flush. "Okay." After taking a deep breath, I took one of his hands in mine and walked with Edward toward the bedroom. More lit candles and rose petals decorated the space. It gave the room a soft, romantic feel without overwhelming the senses. I stood in front of the bed and turned to find Edward leaning back against the dresser.
His bowtie was undone and jacket removed.
My heart pounded in my chest.
And he continued to watch me. He was letting me take the lead.
With a deep breath, I reached behind me and undid the zipper. It was thankfully easy. I held the garment to my chest for a moment, the realization that I was about to be partially undressed terrifying, and then let it go. It floated to the floor and I stepped out from the puddle of fabric.
I stood there in a pretty blue and white corset from La Perla and a pair of lacy panties.
Edward's nostrils flared, but he didn't move. He just watched.
I slipped off the shoes I wore and looked over at Edward.
He pushed off the dresser and took deliberate steps toward me, his eyes locked on mine the entire time. When he stopped in front of me, I'm not entirely sure which one of us moved first, all I know is that our arms were wrapped around each other and Edward was kissing me with so much passion I thought my legs were going to give out.
The smooth skin of his chest surprised me as I ran my fingers up down. I hadn't even noticed that he'd unbuttoned his shirt.
Edward groaned deep in his chest and lifted me up for a second, setting me down on the bed. He watched as I backed up and climbed on after me.
My entire body trembled as he settled down beside me, a look of longing and pure love in his eyes. I knew that he wanted to let me have as much control as possible, to give me the chance to say no and feel safe. It only made me love him more.
Before I could talk myself out of it, I gently tugged Edward so that he lay partially on top of me and kissed him.
He seemed to understand what I needed, his kisses intense and the pressure of his body just right. He took his time, loving me exactly the way I needed him to, with patience. There was no rushing.
We helped each other undress, offering assurance and comfort that it was just us.
I closed my eyes when Edward finally settled over me, his breath hot on my neck and his lips lingering. When I finally opened them and saw the green eyes of the man I loved looking back at me, I knew that I could finally let go of my fears. That I had nothing left to hold onto except him.
And I did.
Edward and I made love throughout the night, neither of us in a hurry.
Tears fell down my cheeks the first time and he worried that he'd pushed me. I assured him they were happy tears. Very happy tears.
We soaked in the tub and talked, and even had a midnight snack.
Each time we were together, I felt another piece of the damage that had been done to me fall away. All the worry I'd had, the fear that I'd only be reminded of him seemed a distant memory.
I laid across Edward's chest, my eyes closed and my body relaxed.
His arms held me tightly, firmly.
"I love you, Isabella Cullen."
My cheeks flamed. "I love you, too, Edward Cullen."