Author's Note: I don't own Twilight. Just lots of magazines featuring photos of Rob Pattinson.
I'd spent all night reading. I enjoyed revisiting old favorites, and I could read in French, Spanish and Russian now too. But I always kept a lookout for new nonfiction and "historical" novels set decades earlier, well before the author's birth. I loved stories that took place at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, because they took me back to my human days. I closed the book with a sigh of contentment. It was so funny to think of roads packed with cars, rivers and oceans full of the fish my father had loved to catch, three months of summer vacation from school, giant computers that took up half a desk. So many things had changed.
"Good morning, love."
But some things hadn't: my beautiful husband, his warm, velvety voice and the love in his dazzling eyes.
"Did you finish it?" I nodded. He sat down next to me, and I curled up against him. "Did you like it?"
"Yes, it was great. Of course, he made mistakes. Electronic money didn't happen until later. But that doesn't matter. It was well-written and entertaining, and I just love all the period details."
"My old-fashioned girl," he said, bending his head to kiss me. "Bella, did you know that today is a very special day?"
Uh oh. Rapidly I ran through every possible occasion. I didn't think he was referring to a national holiday, but in any case, June 16 wasn't one of those. None of our family or friends had been born or transformed on this date. None of the humans we had loved had died. It might be one of Rosalie and Emmett's wedding anniversaries, but we refused to recognize all of them. We were willing to celebrate only one per year.
He laughed at my guilty expression. "Don't worry, love. You didn't forget anything crucial."
"What is it then?"
"Something happened exactly a hundred years ago today."
I thought back. "Exactly a hundred years ago? I was still human. But you made a mistake. The anniversary of our engagement was two days ago."
His crooked smile made me melt, as always. "I know. That's still one of the ten best nights of my life."
"I'm not sure if I should be glad about that or ashamed of myself."
"What do you mean? Why would you be ashamed?"
"Shouldn't I have given you ten better nights in a century?"
He chuckled. "I see your point. I'll give you another chance tonight; how about that?"
"That's very generous of you. But I think I need more than another chance. I need some pointers on what I can do to crack that top ten list."
"Well," he said, pretending to ponder. "You should always start by kissing me."
I shifted so that I was sitting on his lap, straddling him. I slipped my hands into his hair and leaned in towards his mouth. "Like this?" I asked, just before our lips met. His sweet breath washed over me and his delectable taste made my head spin. Kissing Edward was a delight to all my senses.
"Yes, something like that," he murmured against my skin. "Lots of kissing. Deep kissing." I matched my actions to his words, and I got lost in exploring his lips and his mouth and his tongue, until it wasn't enough anymore.
"And then what?" I prompted him in a whisper.
"Take off your clothes," he ordered in a low, husky voice. "Please," he added, but only from ingrained good manners. I was already complying.
"And then what?" I asked again. But he didn't give me any further instructions. He grabbed me, his hands slid over me, and he showed me what he wanted. The teasing mood evaporated as I caught and returned his intensity. Making love with Edward always felt so deliriously right. I'd left my own time behind, a century in the past now. Books and movies were the only way I could return for a visit. We'd hopscotched all over the northern United States and southern Canada. An endless series of houses and towns stretched behind me and ahead of me. Edward was my true home. When we were together like this, time and space fell away. There was only him— eyes, hands, mouth, scent, skin, voice, body— and the perfect fulfillment and blinding joy of our connection.
We lay quietly in each other's arms until he finally broke the silence. "That was wonderful, but I don't think it can qualify as one of my best nights."
"Then tell me what I should do differently," I challenged.
"Nothing," he said fervently. "It's just that it's broad daylight."
I laughed. "Fair enough. We'll consider it a warm-up."
He brought my hand to his lips and kissed it. "Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,/Towards Phoebus' lodging, such a waggoner/As Phaeton would whip you to the west,/And bring in cloudy night immediately," he quoted.
"You're funny," I said fondly.
"You are adorable and so distracting. There was something I wanted to talk to you about, remember?"
"Oh, right. So what happened two days after we got engaged?"
"Well, it had to do with that. You said you didn't understand why marriage was so important to me." He saw me shaking my head slightly. I didn't remember. "I said I'd tell you in a hundred years."
"Are you kidding? You remembered all this time and you're going to tell me now?"
"You were supposed to remind me. But of course I remembered."
"You don't have to tell me. I know that I married you mostly because it was what you wanted, but I'm so grateful that everything happened exactly the way it did. Otherwise we wouldn't have Renesmee. And without her, so many things would be different!"
"But I want to tell you."
"OK." I cuddled up to him.
"To explain why I wanted to marry you is easy," he began. "I wanted you to belong to me and no one else."
"I waited a hundred years to hear that?"
"Be patient, love. What's more complicated is why I wanted to marry you while you were human. I didn't think you would really understand until you were one of us, until you had been one of us for a long time. Compared to eternity, our human years are so short. But so much that we are comes from that brief, murky prelude, because we change so little afterwards. I wanted us to be joined during that special time, that time of possibility and growth. Once you were changed, of course you would marry me then. You would have eliminated so many other options, present and future.
"But marrying you while you were human, it was a gift you were giving me. You know that marriage is a human tradition. Most vampires have no interest. They usually have mates, not spouses. My parents, my brothers and sisters were married, but they were copying humans. With you, it wouldn't be pretending. It would be real. Just like your human body temperature warmed me, your human spirit made the best part of me come alive again. I could almost be human. When humans are in love, they get married and have children and grow old together. I thought the only thing I could do with you was marriage, and it meant so much to me.
"Marriage while you were human was also a gift you were accepting from me. The only one you let me give you back then— myself. I wanted to give you all of me, everything I had, everything I'd ever have, for always. My name. My ring. My body. My eternal commitment. I wanted to be everything to you and for you to be everything to me."
He caressed my cheek and kissed my forehead. "That's why I wanted to marry you so much. Was my explanation worth waiting a hundred years?" I thought over what he'd said. "Tell me, please!" he begged. "What are you thinking?"
I sighed. "Maybe you'll have to explain again after another hundred years."
"I still don't understand why someone as perfect and beautiful and amazing as you are fell in love with me and wanted to marry me."
"So in your mind, I'm perfect, beautiful, amazing and foolish?" he teased.
"Let's say perfect, beautiful and amazing, but you have a blind spot. Not that I'm complaining."
"Bella," he protested. "Just listen to yourself! Don't you think if you found someone who loved you so much and thought you were so much better than you were, you would fall in love and want to stay with that person always?"
"Yes, you think so?" he smiled warmly.
"Yes, I found him. And I married him. And I'm going to stay with him always."
He pulled me close and kissed me. I felt the heat rush all the way down to my toes. I slid on top of him so my hands could move through his hair while I traced his lips with my tongue.
"I love what you said," he murmured. "But I have to tell you that I'm not perfect."
I rubbed my nose against his nose. "You are perfect for me."
"But I'm very impatient," he declared.
"Hardly!" I said incredulously. "You just waited a hundred years to answer my question."
"True," he acknowledged. He held me tightly against him and rolled us over so that he was on top, transfixing me with the weight of his perfect body and the passionate intent in his golden eyes. "But I have to make love to you again right now. I can't wait until tonight."
Author's Note: Once again, I benefited from Juliejuliejulie's feedback. To be honest, I found Edward's statement that a hundred years had to pass before Bella could understand to be the most obnoxious thing he ever said. More so than when he said she couldn't be around Jacob, because at least then he admitted, "I suppose it's cruel." In a hundred years, she'd be older (in time elapsed since birth) then he himself was at that moment. But even though I totally wanted to slap him for saying that, I still wondered what he could possibly have in mind that he didn't think she was in a position to comprehend. Please let me know what you think about what I came up with!