I drove through the night with no concern to the speed limits or warnings as I plowed through Wyoming and later climbed the mountains and hills of Colorado.
Fear had a solid grip on my emotions as I drove without thought to the only other place I could find help, as I had fled from my first choice.
Bella was right. She always was. The guilt I felt from her transformation had been eating away at our marriage from the beginning. It was ridiculous and unreasonable, but it was how I felt. This small nagging part of me always knew I should have left that day we met in Forks and never turned back. But, I was weak. And selfish. And I took what wasn't mine. Gripping the steering wheel, I turned onto the familiar road and shifted into four wheel drive to climb the steep driveway on my left. As I thought about Bella's talk of fate and destiny, I scoffed. It was ridiculous.
I stopped the truck near the door of the cabin. There were no cars out front, but they easily could be in the back. As I got out of the car, the dark brown, wood slatted house seemed quiet, although I could hear a ruffle of thought coming from inside.
Climbing the front steps, I paused at the top, having no idea what I was doing here or what I wanted to achieve. I was wavering for a moment, considering leaving before I was seen, but just as my foot fell back a step, the door opened, and the entrance was lit by a welcoming face.
"Edward! I thought I heard your truck!" she exclaimed and received me in her arms instantly. I melted a little as one tends to do when embraced by a mother.
I shrugged and forced a smile on my face. "Is Carlisle here?"
Understanding graced the corners of her eyes, and she said, "Come in." I followed her into the inviting cabin she and Carlisle shared.
He's not here, at work, some kind of accident.
"Oh," I said, feeling defeated.
Esme led me to the living room where we sat on a soft leather couch, scarred and battered from wear. "How's Bella?" she prodded gently.
I sighed and leaned back in my seat. I wasn't sure I could or should talk to anyone about this. It was our problem, mine and Bella's. We should work through it on our own.
"She's fine," I said before laughing bitterly. "If you don't include the fact she's very angry with me right now."
What did you do?
"Why do you assume it was me?" I feigned offense. Of course it was me.
I looked at Esme, with her soft caramel hair and receptive eyes. She only wanted to help.
Sighing deeply, I told her what had happened. I described Hayden and Camille and Bella's words of regret. I explained the horrible, festering situation we had gotten ourselves into, led by my stubbornness.
"No. Not this time," I defended.
"I'm not going to argue with you, Edward. She is right. And you need to let it go. Do you want to be right or happy? Because obviously you can't have both. You can lose her if you don't." Her words were harsh, and I felt like I had been slapped across the face.
Esme stood up and crossed the room, fingering a photograph of Carlisle that was decoratively arranged on the mantle. "I carried guilt once. For my first marriage and my child. I threw myself off a cliff trying to erase it." She turned and studied my face carefully. "Don't throw it all away, Edward." And in her mind she gave me an image I never expected to see again.
The vision was of the family from the years before Bella entered our life. Everyone was there, laughing and happy. Except for me. Surrounded by socially functioning people, it was obvious I was empty. Lifeless and sad.
I winced at the picture.
Bella made you whole. She accepted you for everything you are. It's time you do the same for her.
And with shock, Esme revealed another image, this time of me and Bella, after the fight with Victoria. She was small and frail. Almost childlike. Her face was brave whereas her eyes were tired, but they followed me with concern and love. Acceptance even after seeing me at my worst.
I made a face in Esme's direction and she only nodded knowing I had seen what she projected. I flopped back on the couch and dropped my head in my hands. I had all the information I needed, and now I just had to work through it and make the right decision.
I turned into our driveway, the night air cool and damp. I'd left Esme hours ago and driven directly back home. To Bella. My wife.
During the solitude of the drive, I thought of the Bella, Esme had shown me, the one before her change. I loved that girl. She was the one that brought me to life and showed me my humanity. She taught me there are things to fight for.
But now, the Bella of today, was not only physically strong, but she was a woman. Bella was smart and educated, professional and caring. She had proven herself among her colleagues and supported me through my own shift into adulthood.
If I had to do it over again I knew, without a doubt, which Bella I would pick.
I stopped in front of the house and noticed with some relief that Hayden and Camille had left. I didn't have time to deal with their issues now, as I had to rectify my own.
Leaping up the steps, I flung open the creaky door and heard it slam against the wall before it bounced back into place. Lamps lit the rooms as I wandered through the house, but Bella was no where around. It was silent, but I caught a whiff of her scent at the back door, tracing it to the edge of the woods.
I traveled quickly, light on my feet, as though I was hunting. Bella had her preferred places to track animals. In the darkness of the forest, I made my rounds, keeping a keen eye and ear out for any sound.
It only took a short while before I found her, crouched low behind a rock, with her sights on an elk drinking from the stream. She was watching and waiting for her opportunity. So was I.
Just as she sprung from her spot, I hurled myself through the air and slammed into her body, crashing us both into the ground. A low growl escaped her lips as I landed on top of her, pinning her in the soft dirt, her hair splayed across the leaves.
Bella's expression went from anger to confusion, and I let my eyes travel to her full, pink lips. Greedily I reached for her face, sliding my fingers into her hair, and pulled her mouth to mine.
Her resistance was minimal, and when I broke the kiss, I said gruffly, "I thought I told you not to enter the woods alone."
Her lips tugged into a small smile, and I felt her knee slip up between our bodies. With force, she planted her foot into my chest and deftly kicked me off, throwing me back into the trees.
In a flash she was standing over me, smug. "That was then. I'm more than capable of taking care of myself now."
It was a challenge I was ready to accept. I grinned wickedly at her and hopped to my feet only to hear the rustle of branches as she fled though the forest. Her laughter echoed through the trees, and it only took a minute before I spotted her jumping up to grab a limb hanging midway up a tree. Bending my knees, I launched myself through the darkness, catching her by the soft skin of her calf, and together we tumbled to the ground in a heap.
Hovering over her, I reached up to pull a leaf from her hair and kissed her again, hard. "You know I'm faster than you." I breathed into her mouth.
"I know," she replied, lust glinting off the yellow of her eyes, and pushed her hips into mine. I felt her small hand slip down to the waistband of my pants and brush against the skin underneath, making me gasp. Placing my fingers on her shirt, I pulled, straining the buttons until they popped one by one onto the ground. With her shirt hanging limply from her shoulders, I pushed her breasts together with my hands before kissing her soundly once again.
After Esme's revelations, I knew what I wanted. This. My wife. Beautiful, strong and immortal. I wanted her smart and funny. I wanted her dangerous and predatory. As her fingers tugged my shirt over my head and tore the button off my pants, I knew without a doubt my days of remorse were behind me.
I wanted this Bella. And I wanted her now.
I flipped us, yanking her pants off her body, pressing my hard erection into her skin. She wiggled beneath me, and I felt her sharp, catlike nails scratch into my skin as she tried to gain leverage. In one swift motion, I adjusted her hips, tilting her upward, and plunged into her, fitting perfectly like a key in a lock.
Her eyes widened as my body connected with hers. I panicked for a brief moment, afraid I had gone too far, but all I saw was her lip curled into a smirk and desire in her eyes. Bella and I had made love countless times in our marriage. Always tender and pure. I worshiped her and her body as though it was the most precious treasure I could ever possess. But, Bella wasn't a prize I had won. She was her own person, and she allowed me access to her life. I'd always shoved the demon inside me back, away from her. I realized just now, as Bella's body writhed against mine, her teeth grazing the hard skin of my shoulder, that she wanted all of this from me as well. There was no part of me she wouldn't accept and love. The demon, as well as the angel.
Panting against her skin, I hissed from desire as I crashed into her indestructible body over and over, the soft dirt underneath us shifting as we drove into the ground. I felt her quaking beneath me, trembling, as her fingers slipped into mine, dirty and damp. I caught her eye and told her without a trace of remorse or fear, "I love you," before I lost all sense of reason. Bella's groan of ecstasy filled the quiet night, and I thrust into her once more with all the force I could muster, harder than ever before, and spilled my venom inside, knowing that Bella and I were now whole.
We exited the woods later, much later, as the sun was to the west in the sky. The forest looked as though a tornado had struck, trees dislodged, limbs broken, but the anger of our past was left behind, buried as Edward buried himself in me time and time again. Between the assaults on our flesh, as we rediscovered one another, all of each other this time, we talked about the issues that had infected our relationship.
Sitting by the stream, gently washing the dirt off my face with his shirt, Edward confessed that by giving up his remorse, he had been terrified he would give up a slice of his humanity. He admitted that when my heart took it's final beat on that island so long ago, a piece of him died as well.
Knowingly, I smiled at him as he said this, because these confessions were all part of why I loved my Edward so much. Because he did worry about these things. And, about me and about us, but he also had to put a little trust into things that were out of his control.
Holding Edward's hand, I tugged him, torn and battered, into the mid afternoon sun. His chest was gleaming, the shirt long gone, and I ran my own glittering hand over it possessively.
"Tell me again why you didn't kill me the first time you saw me?" I teased, skipping ahead towards the porch.
"Destiny," he said, rolling his eyes, but without the doubt from before.
I stood now, on the bottom step, waiting for him to step closer to me. "And when you saved me from the van?"
"And when I found you in Italy?"
"And when we married and you managed not to kill me on our honeymoon?" That one was a trick question.
"Destiny," he confirmed with a hard kiss on my lips.
that's it. 3 chapters!
thank you wolves&vamps for having the faith in me to put your hard earned money towards the support stacie auction and on me. This was really a stretch for me and it was a great learning experience. HUGE!!! i owe you.
thank you to OCD and NEV for betaing this and helping so much.
Also, on a personal note, i tied for first place in the twilighted original story contest. please check my profile for the link and go read it. Its about a girl and a guy who has superpowers. sigh. hot.
thank you for all the reviews! See you over on COH!