Author's Note: Writing an M-rated story was quite a departure for me, and I didn't go very far into M territory. Please be aware that if you're looking for the raunchy explicit stuff, you will not find it here. I think this must be the mildest M story in the world. But then, how would I know, since I don't read M stories!?

The thing is, I felt the honeymoon night as told in Breaking Dawn was a bit out of character for Edward. Meeting in the water without any clothes on strikes me as a drastic leap from what they'd done previously. Why would caring, thoughtful, nervous Edward put himself and Bella through that? In the end, I thought he wouldn't, and I wrote this alternative version. You'll see just where I start to deviate from the book!

Juliejuliejulie helped me, which was exceptionally nice of her, because she wrote her own, very different version of this night, and I haven't even read it, because, like I said, I don't read M stories. Hers is longer, more graphic, and from Edward's POV— definitely check it out if that appeals to you.

Some of these sentences are right out of Breaking Dawn, and of course so are Edward and Bella and Isle Esme.

"I was wondering," Edward said slowly, "if…first…maybe you'd like to take a midnight swim with me?" He took a deep breath, and his voice was more at ease when he spoke again. "The water will be very warm. This is the kind of beach you approve of."

"Sounds nice." My voice broke.

"I'm sure you'd like a human minute or two….It was a long journey."

I nodded woodenly. I felt barely human; maybe a few minutes alone would help.

"I'll change first, and then I'll wait for you in the water." He took a moss green bathing suit from his suitcase and stepped into the bathroom. The moment the door closed, it swung open again and he came out, tossing his already folded clothes onto a chair. I couldn't help laughing a little bit. He picked up my hand and lifted it to his mouth, pressing a kiss on my fingers. His cool breath tickled my overheated skin. "Don't take too long, Mrs. Cullen."

I jumped a little at the sound of my new name. He walked past me to the French door that opened right onto the beach sand and slipped into the moonlit night. The sultry, salty air swirled into the room behind him.

Did my skin burst into flames? I had to look down to check. Nope, nothing was burning. At least, not visibly.

I reminded myself to breathe, and then I stumbled towards the suitcase that Edward had opened on top of a low white dresser. It must be mine, because my familiar bag of toiletries was right on top, and there was a lot of pink in there, but I didn't recognize even one article of clothing. I pawed through the neatly folded piles, looking for a swimsuit. I discovered a collection of scanty bikinis in every color of the rainbow. I didn't know how or when, but someday, Alice was going to pay for this.

I chose one in white with a green leaf pattern. We might as well match. I took it to the bathroom and peeked out through the long windows that opened to the same beach as the French doors. I couldn't see him; I guessed he was there in the water, not bothering to come up for air. In the sky above, the moon was lopsided, almost full, and the sand was bright white under its shine. It looked heavenly.

In the mirror above the long stretch of counters, I looked exactly like I'd been sleeping on a plane all day. I found my brush and yanked it harshly through the snarls on the back of my neck until they were smoothed out and the bristles were full of hair. I brushed my teeth, meticulously, twice. Then I washed my face and splashed water on the back of my neck, which was feeling feverish. That was really refreshing. I pulled off my clothes and put on the bikini, carefully facing away from the mirror. I'd just been transfixed by the perfection of Edward's nearly naked body. There was no point in activating my insecurities now.

I was dressed, but I hesitated. I didn't feel quite ready to face the unknown. Sternly I reminded myself, I wouldn't be alone. Edward was out there. We were both beginners. We'd learn our lines together. There was no audience to observe or find fault. We only had to please each other. I knew just being near him intoxicated me, and I could only trust that I'd figure out my part.

I headed out the open glass door onto the powder-fine sand. Everything was black-and-white, leached colorless by the moon. Edward was still underwater. Either that or he had decided to swim back to Brazil. I walked slowly to the water's edge. I let the gentle swells break over my toes and found that he'd been right about the temperature—it was very warm, like bath water. I stepped in, walking carefully across the invisible ocean floor, but my care was unnecessary; the sand continued perfectly smooth, sloping gently down. I waded through the weightless current until I was in to my waist and then I ducked under.

The gently moving water felt so good. The memory of the long trip was dissolving. I started to relax and forget everything except being right here, right now. I twisted to float on my back and look up at the nearby moon and the countless stars.

Edward surfaced a few feet away. He glowed white in the moonlight, and his wet hair was as dark as the ocean. His eyes looked silver in his ice-colored face. No god or angel could be more beautiful. In the unearthly light, he looked like a photographic negative, but his warm velvet voice was as familiar as my heartbeat. "What do you think?"

"It's great," I said fervently. "Why don't they just live here?"

He laughed. "Carlisle and Esme have lots of reasons to be in Forks. But we don't. We can stay here as long as you like."

"That could be a very long time."

"I have plenty of time," he said, taking my hands. "I have forever."

He gazed at me steadily as he pulled me closer for a kiss. As soon as our lips met, the heat I'd felt earlier flared up again. My arms flew around him, and I pressed myself against his body. I could feel so much now. He'd never let us get this close before. I wanted more of his mouth; I wanted to inhale his breath; I wanted to feel his tongue. Excitement boiled up inside me, and I let out a little sound as I tried to eliminate any space between us.

His lips moved from my mouth along my jaw to my ear, so that he could speak. "Bella, we have all night." His voice was husky. He kissed down my neck and along my collarbone to the other side. "And all day," he murmured. He flicked his tongue into my ear. "And every day." He kissed my eyelids. My whole body was tingling. "And every night after that." His mouth was on mine again, and he swept me into a different embrace to carry me back to the house. All my nerves were forgotten in the closeness. Kissing him was the same, the same cool lips, the same smooth texture, the same delicious flavor, but it was different because the boundaries were gone. We were married now. I was in my favorite place in the world, Edward's arms, and this time I was staying there.

He was so graceful and gentle, as always, and I was so wrapped up in kissing him that I didn't realize we'd reached the bedroom until we were lying together on the big white bed. I was on my back and he was on his side next to me His mouth was almost warm now from so much contact. Desire was crashing through my body. I knew my heart was pounding and I was panting, but I didn't care. The room was hot. I wanted all the weight and chill of his body to cover me. I tugged on his shoulder. I tried to hook my leg behind his and pull him on me but he wouldn't move. Instead, he slid his hand down and inside the bottom half of my bathing suit.

"Edward!" I gasped.

"Shhh," he whispered. "Let me." His voice was so mellow and loving and certain that I stopped worrying and let myself fall into the feelings. He was still kissing me, even as he was making me pant and whimper and moan. I was surrounded by his thrilling scent and completely transported by his touch. It seemed like I was in a dazzling, marvelous, electrifying new place, but I wasn't alone. He was taking me there. It seemed to last a long time. I could hear the waves rolling outside as the pleasure slowly subsided.

"Oh, Edward." I didn't know what to say but I was sure he could tell he'd sent me thoroughly over the edge. I turned towards him, pressed myself against him. "That was amazing. But… what about you?"

"Bella," he whispered. "Maybe this isn't the usual—"

"Edward!" I said firmly. "I do not care about what is usual."

"Lucky for me," he said, kissing me softly. His mouth was so delicious. I was getting caught up in the kiss, but then I remembered I'd interrupted him.

"What were you going to say?"

"I thought… I thought I should try the same thing. Before we try together."

"OK." I'd do this however he wanted. Especially after what he'd just done to me.

"Because I don't know how it feels. I never wanted to, before you. And then I didn't want to without you. But I can't take the chance of hurting you."

I kissed him and stroked his marble cheek. "Edward, you are the sweetest, most caring—"

"I just want to make you happy, and I have to know my own limitations."

"You do make me happy," I said emphatically. "I wish you could hear my thoughts and know how fantastic you're making me feel. Seriously, if this is it, if we can't do anything else and this is our honeymoon, it's wonderful. I just don't think it's fair. I want to make you happy too."

"Well, I think this is a good way to start, OK?"

I smiled. "Can I touch you?"

He took a deep shuddering breath. "Yes, I want you to, but Bella…"

I waited, running my hand along his arm, but he didn't continue. "What? Please, tell me whatever I need to know."

"I need to see what it's like. When I get close, I have to do it myself. I'm going to push you away. I want you to give me some space. Do you understand?"

"I get it." His concern for me made my heart swell.

"It won't mean that you did anything wrong or I don't like it." He sounded anxious.

"OK," I reassured him. But he still didn't move.

"There's something else." I could barely hear him.

"Tell me! Edward, I love you. You can tell me anything."

"I'm afraid it could be frightening for you."

"Frightening? What are you talking about?"

"A dangerously out of control vampire, Bella. Right next to you." That beautiful voice was laced with stress. He took another deep breath. "If you want to stop after this, I'll understand. You said what you wanted and I promised, but you can change your mind anytime."

"I don't see a dangerously out of control vampire in this bed. I see the man I love. My husband."

"Oh, Bella," he groaned as he brought his mouth back to mine. I reached down to caress him the way he had me. He wasn't wearing the bathing suit anymore, although I hadn't noticed when he took it off. He must have done it very quickly. I wasn't sure how to do this, and I couldn't get any clues from his heart rate or breathing. But I could tell from the way he moved, the way he was kissing me that he was responding to my touch as I had responded to his.

He did push me away. And he did seem kind of...frenzied. But it wasn't frightening. It was glorious. I wanted to throw myself on top of him and be part of his ecstasy. When it was over, he opened his eyes to see me watching him.

"Wow," he said slowly.

"Well, what do you think?" I asked eagerly. "Do you think you can handle it?"

"Bella," he laughed.


"Give me a minute!" But he rolled onto his side to face me, and he began tugging on the top of my swimsuit. "Let's get you out of this."

A jolt of excitement shot through me. "Does that mean yes?"

"Do you mind if I just rip this off?"

"Alice packed plenty. I think she anticipated some of them wouldn't make it." I giggled.

"Smart girl, my sister," he commented. "And now…" He tossed the shreds of my suit behind him onto the floor. He looked at me and stopped breathing. "Don't move."

Obediently, I froze, but I couldn't help trembling. He shut his eyes and pulled me against him. I gasped from the intense burst of desire that came from feeling his naked body all along mine. Without thinking, I launched myself at him and fastened my mouth on his. My momentum actually toppled him onto his back. The motion startled me, and just as abruptly as I had lunged for him, I pulled away, and we were staring at each other.

"I'm sorry!"

"It's OK, love." He didn't seem distressed. He ran his hand through my hair.

"But you said don't move, and I—"

"Come back here." His voice was rough now. He pulled me back into the embrace and the urgent kiss. Sooner than I expected, I had gotten accustomed to the skin contact, and I needed more. He must have felt the same, because he turned so that we were lying on our sides again.

"I think we can try. If…if I do something wrong, if I hurt you, you must tell me at once." His tone was very serious.

"Edward, it is going to hurt, at first. Everyone says so." His mouth tightened. "Don't look like that. I know it hurts you to be near me." I stroked his throat. Was I killing the mood? But I couldn't have him freak out if the next step proved a little tricky for me.

"That's unavoidable."

"And so is this! It's only natural. It's temporary. I'll be over it in no time. Please! I want to." I stared into his eyes, sure that my face displayed my longing to merge with him, body and soul. "You've got me so worked up." He captured my lips with his again, and I knew he wasn't going to argue anymore. I guessed that he had accepted that it might cost me a little to experience this particular rite of passage. But I was long past caring what price I had to pay. His mouth and hands and his enticing scent were driving me wild.

"You will stop me if it's really bad?" he whispered.

"I promise. Don't be afraid."

He was over me now. I closed my eyes and resolved to keep my expression very even, so that I wouldn't upset him. But there was some pain, and I knew it had flashed across my face because he stopped and kissed me. I opened my eyes and locked my gaze on his to show him that I wanted him to go on. And in a few moments there was no more pain, only the most complete closeness, a connection stronger than I'd dreamed was possible. The electricity that our very first touch had sent through me was now lighting up my whole body. I saw in his eyes that he felt it too, but neither of us spoke. The sensations were too powerful for any words.

He was holding me, and I only wanted the embrace to be tighter. Somehow he had shifted so I was on top. He was touching me, sliding his hands all over me, stroking me and sending heat spiraling through me. It seemed like he was reading my mind because everything he did felt so right. Every movement was sending me further and further away from earth and towards the fierce, bright bliss I'd felt before. I was flying, coasting, floating on the pure pleasure like I'd floated in the ocean outside, until it peaked and the waves dropped me back into his arms.

He was still now too, and we just lay there together while my breathing slowed down. I felt so limp and comfortable with his cool body beneath me and his arms around me. I took a deep breath in and out, letting the relaxation deepen and spread. He chuckled, very quietly. I picked up my head to look at him.

"What's funny?"

"We did it," he whispered.

"Yeah." I laughed quietly at his air of wonder.

"I was so afraid, so worried, and now I feel so great."

I dropped my head back to his chest. Sleepiness was starting to overwhelm me. "I knew you could do it. See? You should listen to me."

"I'm listening." His voice was so sweet and gentle and happy.

"I love you, Edward Cullen."

"I love you, Bella Swan…Cullen."

With those magical words echoing in my mind, I fell asleep.

Author's Note: I wanted this story to fit into Breaking Dawn and neatly replace what's there. In my judgment, that meant the conversation afterwards had to be very short, because when Bella wakes up she is surprised by the feathers and she's not certain that Edward enjoyed the experience. Surely, if they'd talked more or made love again, these things couldn't happen in the morning. Besides, sleepiness is often the very first sign of pregnancy.

A while ago I wrote some moments from the honeymoon (T-rated!) from Edward's POV. They're collected under the title Paradise Lost.

Anyway, as I said in the prefatory note, I wrote this to address my own concerns about the way this night unfolded in Breaking Dawn. For me, this story is more in character. I hope you liked it as well.