Warning: Edward is very wordy.

This night was undoubtedly the second greatest….no, the third greatest…well, maybe fourth…no. Well in any case, this was one of the greatest nights of my young adult life.

I know Bella believes she can't dance, but that belief confounds me. After watching her move her body so fluidly, so seductively for so many years in her work-out room (I'm still shocked she doesn't hate me for my closet-perverted behavior; hell, I'm ashamed of it) I don't understand how she thinks that.

One of the few times I ever danced with her, and the first time out in public, had been at the Jazz Fest I'd taken her to. Despite her earlier skepticism about the whole thing, I will forever be proud of myself for bringing her there, because Bella dancing…was a sight to be hold. She was so alive and so...bright. Beautiful. She'd laughed so much, her face red, her eyes shining, her amazing smile almost knocking me off my feet. That was when I knew I was going to have to dance with her again.

And what better place than a club? A club in Paris no less?

But this…dancing with her like this…It was a whole other experience entirely from our previous one.

I pulled her to the dance floor soon after arriving, and she'd wrapped her arms around my neck, resting her head against my chest. It started out innocent enough. I put my hands on her waist, keeping her close, feeling her. We'd moved our hips in time to each others slowly, so slowly. The thin fabric of her dress didn't protect much. Her soft skin was giving way to my jeans, her supple body molding to my form.

I about lost my damn mind.

My hands slid down to her hips, and I gripped her tightly. Her hands slid down my chest to grip my shirt, her tiny form feeling so unbelievably vulnerable against me, even though I knew her great strength.

I relished the exposure.

I slid one hand up and down her back slowly, petting her neck, caressing her ribs, stroking the outside of her thigh softly - all things I knew would drive her crazy. My breathing was labored as I looked down at her, her eyes closed as she rubbed her body against mine - her hips against my thighs, her stomach against my contained erection, her breasts against my abs. Her fists moved almost imperceptively against my chest, her thin wrists brushing against me. And she'd even somehow managed to link our legs together so our ankles brushed. I never knew ankles and wrist could be so terribly erotic but, then again, it was Bella. Only the center of my entire universe.

I felt myself say that I loved her, but I think it was too quite for her to hear. First off, the vibration in my vocal chords didn't feel that strong, and she also didn't react. She just continued to exquisitely torture me with her angelic expression while her hips moved sinfully against my body.

Because that's how Bella was; she was so innocent at heart, so accidentally seductive. I doubt I was the only man who she made go crazy. I was just the only one that was allowed to enjoy her, love her, adore her.

The thought made this strange rumbling quake deep inside my chest, and I wanted to feel a different angle of her suddenly.

I tightened my hold on her hips and then flipped her around, keeping her steady - though my grip on her was too tight for anything to happen. I pulled her back against me, her delicious bottom now grinding against me, and I let out a soft sigh - or maybe it was moan. I didn't pay attention. Because who could pay attention to anything else when they held this fiery angel in their arms; when she moved against them like this?

She let her head fall back against my chest, her normally sweet chocolate eyes darkened in the club, her pupils expanded. Her long, dark hair fell down her back, brushing her graceful neck. Her skin and body danced with the pulsing red lights of the club, fueling her fiery image more. She smiled at me, something in between sweet, loving, lustful, and mischievous.

Only Bella. Only ever her.

She bit her lip - and I don't know if she did it on purpose, but she should know by now how insane it makes me - and raised her arm above her head to wrap around my neck, her thin, graceful fingers playing with my hair at the nape of my neck, raising goose bumps on my skin. This made her breasts slightly more prominent to me at this angle, and I felt myself need to fight harder to breathe. With the way her chest expanded an collapsed, I guessed her breathing was just as heavy as mine.

God I love her.

I couldn't resist periodically bending down to brush my lips over her skin; against her hair, her forehead, her cheeks, her neck…her lips. Never pressing, but brushing, feeling her hot breath against my face, smelling delicious. I couldn't resist periodically moving a hand from her hip to brush against her soft body that teased me so much, that felt like heaven and fire pressing against me, that sent electric shocks up my spin and tingling spots on my skin. Her ribs, the sides of her breasts, her collarbone…that beautiful part of her. I couldn't resist periodically bending down to her ear, feeling myself tell her I loved her. There was no mistaking that she heard it when I was close enough to her. She'd turn her head and meet my eyes, and I never wanted to look away.

I just couldn't resist her.

The music and everybody else was irrelevant. The other people were shadows on my peripheral vision. The music was just a pounding in the air and in the floor that I ignored, because I had something so much more important to pay attention to.

My breathing was labored, my body so aroused it almost hurt. I couldn't inhale enough of her scent. I couldn't get her close enough to my body. I loved her so much it ached. How could one heart hold this much? And it grew by the second when I looked at her, when our eyes met, when our lips brushed, when she smiled and I knew that she loved me the same way.

There was nothing in the world better than moments like these.

I thought briefly of the ring I'd purchased a few weeks before we'd left for France, my father having helped me pick it out and making sure it was perfect; and more specifically, perfect for Bella. I smiled to myself, knowing that soon enough I would ask her to be mine, to show everyone how much I loved her, and guarantee a lifetime of perfect moments like this. Normally, the nervousness behind the thought of proposing - and her response, which was what had me nervous - had my hands shaking; but in this dark club, with my hands firmly against her, with that smile on her face, my hands were quite steady.

Eventually, Bella pulled away, taking my hand and leading me back to our table where we'd left our coats. She sat down first, and for the first time I truly recognized how sweaty her face was, and how out of breath she was. She raised her hands as she sat down to sign to me, and, like always, I wondered what she was going to say.

We've only been here about an hour, and they've already played this song about eight times, she told me, her face slightly annoyed. I smiled, adoring her more and more. This was a perfect example of how she was. Sexy one moment, adorable the next.

I grinned at her. Well I think we've been doing pretty good so far, despite the odds. I leaned closer to kiss her neck, and I saw and felt her giggle underneath my lips. My heart panged with loss at the same time that it jumped in delight. This was the same way it had always reacted when I saw her laugh. Every. Single. Time. Ever since the very first day I'd met her in kindergarten, when she'd been the only one to give the scared, lonely boy in the corner of the playground a glance after I'd sent my sister away to have fun with the normal kids.

I cleared my head quickly and qualified what I was talking about. Dance wise. Very…very good. Well hell, understatement of the year. One of the most erotic moments of my life had just occurred and the only adjective I could find was 'good'. My hand, of its own accord, moved to her sinfully soft, tight-clad thigh, caressing it as it was meant to.

I felt her thighs begin to rub together, as she did when she was excited and needed release. Speaking of which…

I felt myself say her name, wanting her so bad, and knowing that speaking would loosen her up. She loved it when I talked, I noticed. It broke me that I couldn't do it more for her. I said her name again, concentrating on moving my tongue correctly, paying attention to the vibration in my throat. Then I signed, I believe…that you owe me…a dance.

I watched her breathe out, her chest collapsing. Exasperation in her expression melded way to apprehension, and I knew she was over thinking it.

Sure enough, I watched her pretty mouth form the shape of my name, a scared glint to her eye. She raised her hands to sign, I don't know if I can do it.

I knew that she could. She could do anything. I believed in that. I told her as much. I fully believe in you. And so she'd be more convinced, I added, Trust me, I know it will feel good no matter what, if only for the simple fact that we're touching. She couldn't tell me I was lying. She knew how I felt about her.

The scared expression didn't waver, however. But…but we're in public! she tried to reason. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. Bella had a bad habit of letting her insecurities have too much authority over her. It was my job to fix that.

Though the club was dark enough, to appease her I grabbed her waist and pulled her to my lap, sliding over to the center of the half-moon shaped bench, up against the wall and in the deepest shadow you could find. It would be impossible to see us clearly, even if anybody was looking.

I looked at her smugly only to see her looking down at her fidgeting hands, twisting and yanking the skin there. She was worrying the skin of her bottom lip with her teeth like she did when she was nervous. Her eyes darted around before settling back into a downward position.

Guilt started to creep into my system. Maybe this wasn't about insecurity. Maybe she just didn't want to do it. If that was the case, then that changed things drastically. I would never make her do something she didn't want to do, if fear didn't factor in. Never that. It made me sick to my stomach to imagine.

You don't have to if you don't want to, I told her, rubbing her back when I was done to reassure her that it wouldn't offend or anger me if she didn't. The idea of that happening was absurd.

Bella's expression hardened then, a more determined air immediately taking place of the panicked one that was there previously. I watched as she opened her mouth to suck in a deep breath and looked straight up at me, her beautiful brown eyes dark and almost mysterious. Certainly seductive. Certainly mine. Suddenly she moved her legs off my lap, placing one knee on one side of my thigh and swinging her other thigh over to the other side.

Oh fuck yes. I immediately got excited again as she placed her hands on my shoulders and shuffled closer to match up our groins. For a moment there her breasts had been in my face, and the urge to bury my head in between was almost overpowering…but I was good, and I resisted the desire. Her torso went down lower, her clothed center brushing over my denim-covered erection, and I couldn't resist letting out what I recognized as a groan, the vibrations deep and farther back in my throat than regular moans were.

She was too irresistible. Too Bella. I went to grab her hips, needing more friction than she was providing, but she suddenly smiled coyly at me, grabbing my hands before they could touch her and placing them down on the leather seats. Her intent was clear. I wasn't allowed to touch her. My frustration grew, nostrils flaring, but there was also something so undeniably sexy and forbidden about it that I agreed silently to go along. This was her dance after all.

Thankfully, mercifully, she leaned in so her lips pressed against mine provocatively, tilting her head, and I devoured her mouth, needing more but taking what I could get happily, needfully. Her hot hands ran up and down my arms teasingly, and I had to fist my hands into the seats to stop myself from touching her…just once, just a little bit, never stopping. It was then that she decided to drop her full weight on me, right over my arousal, her own pressing down hard; that friction I'd been craving finally giving itself to me.

Oh fuck! Finally! I couldn't resist the moan that I felt escape from me, squeezing my eyes shut. Bella's forehead pressed against mine, and her hot breaths were as heavy as mine, her sweetness washing over my face. I paced my breathing with hers, our chests meeting in time. She was perfect for me. So perfect. I needed more. I'd always need more of her for the rest of my life.

Opening my eyes slowly, I watched my Bella's lustful face as she watched me too. Her throat contracted briefly and I grew impossibly harder as my sweet girl began to slowly gyrate her hips over me. She pressed down harder, swiveling a little bit faster as she felt my encouraging response and it was so amazing, I just…I needed to touch her. I almost did before I forced my hands down, arms spasming wildly. Instead, I threw my head back and let my breath escape me thinly.

Bella's tiny arms wound around my neck tightly as she rested her forehead in the crook of my neck, her breath hot and hard against my exposed skin. I felt her lips tremble briefly against my neck, and I didn't know if she was talking or kissing me, or maybe just gasping for air. Whichever it was, it drove me crazy, and I felt the impulse to rock my hips in time with hers. But I had to be good…this was her moment…I had to be good…

But then Bella tilted her hips forward to create more friction on her sensitive clit, and that just shot all my good intentions to hell.

I felt the groan tear from me deep in my chest, the oddest sensation but one I'd grown accustomed to, and, finally giving into my desire, I grabbed her hips roughly and pressed my beautiful woman harder and faster down on top of me. There was a heat building deep inside my stomach, my bones throughout, and I knew that if she just kept rubbing against me, if I just kept feeling her like this - hard, fast - then that heat would explode. I needed that. Bella breathed out hotly against my neck, and then I felt her smooth teeth sink into my skin.

Oh dammit dammit dammit! A rumbling in my chest, and I couldn't help the instinctive tightening of my hands on her hips -maybe too tight, but she wasn't stopping me. Friction was what I needed. There was never enough. I was pinning her down as tight as I could, and the only thing left that I could think to do, without ripping our clothes off, was to lift myself up and - Ahhhh! Fuck yes! Pressure. My arousal could feel Bella's soaked-through tights and panties even through my jeans. Her thighs were trembling over me and suddenly she threw her head back, her face full of beautiful pleasure, pleasure from us - she was getting closer. Her long, graceful neck was on display for me and I wanted her even more. It wasn't possible. Yet somehow it was.

Bella's arms slipped down from my neck to fall down to my jeans - the button of them, her tiny hands grasping and tugging, undoing them. I knew she needed more, closer friction, just like I did. I let her slip them down my hips, clearing my erection, lifting my hips up to help her get them down. I just needed them gone. She was beautiful in her passion, my Bella was. Her eyes sinfully needful, her swollen mouth parted slightly. I could see she was panting. A couple tendrils of her wild, full hair were plastered to her sweating face, her cheeks dark with her blush caused by exertion.

There was no one on the planet more beautiful than her.

She sat back down on me, relief washing over her face, as it did mine. Damn, she was so wet, I could feel it through my boxers, so much closer than before. A small smile played out over her face as she met my eyes. She took her beautiful, full bottom lip beneath her teeth, her lusty eyes glinting with mischief. She placed her arms back around my neck and leaned back, though she kept her grinding groin over me. I almost pulled her back, before I saw that she was giving me her dance. Her slim torso swayed erotically before my eyes, her luscious breasts pushed together. She watched me as I watched her.

I wanted to say her name. And I did. I knew her name probably came out strange though, because that deep rumbling was back in my chest and I could feel it distort the word. But she still seemed to like it, because she bit her lip again and moved her hands down my arms to my hands, picking them from her hips to up to her breasts. Gah. She knew me too well. Her breasts were full, soft, delicious, something I could touch and never tire of. They molded and fit to my hands perfectly, and 'mine' went through my head repeatedly, as it always did when I touched her perfect breasts. I squeezed and groped and touched her in all the ways I'd come to learn drove her crazy, teasing her nipples through her shirt, palming her roughly. I pulled her closer to me and kissed that hot, panting mouth that was begging to be kissed.

And that was all it took. I felt Bella's thighs tighten and become rigid around mine. A wave of wetness rushed through her clothing and melted through my boxers, wetting my dick with her. The only thing I'd ever want. She pressed her mouth harder to mine, her lips vibrating with what I assumed were cries of pleasure, and that knowledge almost pushed me over the edge. My fingers drifted softly up to her vocal chords as I rocked her just a little bit more. The feel of her jumping chords and her silky, hot wetness above me was all it took to make the heat inside me explode and I came, staining my boxers. I was suddenly so glad Bella had pushed my pants down. I'd come so hard that there was no doubt it would've been noticeable if I'd been wearing them.

Bella was limp and relaxed in my arms for many minutes afterward, and I couldn't blame her because I was the same way, trying to regain my breath. Her breasts expanded and folded against me wearily as she slowly calmed her breathing. I felt her breath against the sweaty skin of my neck. I wished I could hear her pants, but I had no choice but to rely on my other senses for gauging her reactions. I held her close to me, loving her so much. I told her that, saying it in her ear: I love you. I suppose it came out weak. It didn't seem to vibrate so much in my throat and the bottom of my jaw.

We were mush for many minutes before, eventually, Bella moved off me, limbs still slightly shaking, to collapse next to me on the seat, leaning against my side with a content smile on her face. I took the opportunity to pull my jeans back up, my boxers dry.

Bella was still grinning at me. She raised her hands and signed, So, was it everything you dreamed of? When she was done she took one of her delicate fingers and trailed it down my chest seductively. Really, how much could one man take?

And more, I assured her, returning her grin and swooping down to kiss her sweet-looking mouth. So soft, so decadent. Her soft, tiny hand went to my cheek as we kissed, before she pulled away.

She was grinning widely, looking completely carefree. Like I would try my best to make sure she always looked. Want a drink? she asked. Drinking age is lower here, you know.

Happiness was infectious. Miss Swan! I teased, trying to look indignant. This wouldn't be an elaborate scheme to intoxicate me so you can take full advantage of my lonesome later, is it?

She played along, smiling while trying to look caught in the act. Well, I don't know about elaborate scheme, but yeah, essentially.

She was too cute. I kissed her soft cheek before signing, Sure, "love." You can pick, I don't care.

And I really didn't. This night was too good.

She smiled at me once more before stepping out from the booth, smoothing her dress. I glanced around, but no one was watching. I slid over to the edge of booth seat so that I could make sure she was okay as she began walking towards the bar.

I lost sight of her briefly as she weaved through the crowd, but found her again at the bar. She scanned the bottles and glasses for a minute before pointing something out to the bartender. He nodded, grabbing two frosty bottles with some pink liquid inside. I chuckled, shaking my head.

It went well until she started making her way back to the booth. I lost sight of her once again in the crowd of people. And the next time I saw her, I also saw a man, obviously drunk, with his arm slung tight over her shoulder. Bella was frozen, a look of disgust on her face as she looked at him. He was talking to her. Bella's expression was frosty as she responded. I saw her lean away, attempting to break the man's grip on her shoulder - but then his hand tightened, keeping her there.

I was up out of my seat and moving in a second flat, my fists clenched shut tightly. Oh hell no. This man had no right to touch her. I walked quickly toward her, only for a crowd of people to suddenly block my path, and my line of sight. Still, I knew where I'd been heading, where to go. I pushed past people impatiently.

I reached a break in the crowd and that's when I saw them again.

I froze, trembling with rage.

That…that…that fucker put his hand on her shoulder, Bella's shoulder, and wrenched her around roughly, making her stumble, his mouth moving, his face dark with anger.

He didn't know what anger was.

I've heard the expression 'seeing red' before. But I thought it was only that. An expression.

It wasn't.

Blood pounded wildly inside my head, directly behind my eyes, making everything crimson, coating everything in blood, just like his face was about to be.

I thought I'd known pure rage before when Tyler had hit her; my perfect, amazing, angelic best friend, who had certainly not deserved it. But I still knew that it had been an accident. It didn't make me hate him less. But it wasn't on purpose.

But this vile, low-down, disgusting man some way in front of me, was doing everything on purpose. He had touched her. He had touched her roughly. He'd come on to her when she was clearly not his, when he had no fucking right.

It was that time with Tyler, times ten. I didn't defend her then, when I should have. I'd never forgive myself for that. But this? Right now? I certainly was. I had so much fury inside me I didn't know if he was going to survive it, and strangely enough I didn't care. He would never touch her again, never get away with it.

He had no idea who he'd messed with today. He had picked the wrong damn fight.

He lunged toward her, to touch her again, but I was moving already, the red in my vision pulsing just as I pulled my fist back and slammed it into his face as hard as I could, years of pent-up anger and frustration coming out as I taught him a lesson in a language men understood.

The impact was strong enough to send him spiraling into the ground, completely knocked off his feet. I expected my anger to diminish some.

But all it did was grow. And inside of it, a small twinge of pride glimmered inside of me.

But mostly I just wanted to continue kicking his ass.

It was only then that I noticed the strange vibrations in my chest, so much stronger than I'd ever felt before, like they were fighting inside of my chest, my throat, my mouth. I realized I was making some sound. But all I could really concentrate on was the blood pounding in my veins.

I recognized then that Bella was moving toward me. I knew she would be disapproving; I could already feel it in her eyes boring into my face. But I'd have to deal with that later. She was close enough that I wrapped my arm around her waist, tugging her behind me. I'm sorry Bella, I wanted to say. But this is my fight for you today. Let me have it.

Of course, it would never be that easy. She struggled against my hand, but I didn't want her near to me right now. The thing that called himself a man was still struggling on the ground, but he was recovering. I couldn't let her stand next to me.

The vile atrocity stumbled his way to a standing position, and his dark eyes had murder written in them. I didn't feel the slightest bit of fear. I suppose fighting must be instinctive, because while I've never really condoned fighting before, impulses were jetting their way through my body. I knew what to do. I knew I would win.

His mouth was moving. I didn't bother trying to make out what he said. It was irrelevant now.

He paused, gauging himself and me, before leaping forward.

I grinned darkly, ready for this.

He went for what I anticipated: a blow to the face. I didn't let it hit me, instead stopping it in my palm. I took advantage of his moment of imbalance to take his fist in my hand and whirl him around, twisting his arm. I used my other hand to punch him once again, sending him toward the ground for the second time. He didn't go down so easily this time though. He landed on the ground and immediately kicked out toward my legs. I wasn't prepared and I fell too, scrapping with him on the floor.

I got the impression, judging by the jumping feet, open mouths, and charged air, that people were being loud and rambunctious, cheering for us. For once, I was glad I couldn't hear them. It made it so much easier to concentrate.

He tried to punch my face again. He wasn't very original. I jabbed his rib quickly and slammed down his punching arm to the ground. His leg came up and swiftly kicked me in the back, making me wince but not enough to lose my focus. I stomped on his leg as good as I could from this position, but I lost my balance, causing us to roll around. His good arm that wasn't used and abused was hitting me wherever he could, mostly my shoulders and chest, but I punched his face real good once more and he rolled off. I climbed back on top, punching the shit out of his face, over and over again. His nose was broken and bloody, smearing onto my knuckles. He kneed my inner thigh hard enough to bruise, but it didn't stop me. I was winning. He was losing. One more punch in his gut.

And I'd won.

I jumped up, breathing heavy but triumphant, wiping my bloody knuckle on my dark jeans. I looked down on his crumpled form, not hating him any less for his earlier actions. He'd gotten what he deserved.

I wasn't out of the woods yet though.

Bella suddenly emerged before me, looking furious enough to throw me down on the floor and kick the crap out of me. Her hands ghosted over my arms, her eyes scanning for damage. All in all though, I'd emerged from the fight unharmed. Some spots might be tender, but nothing bad enough to keep me down or hurt me. I couldn't help grinning at her, still on a victorious high. I'd defended my woman. And I'd won. All that is caveman is me, and I don't care! Bella's glower darkened, but I knew she was also relieved I didn't seem to be hurt. I could see it in her anxious eyes.

Suddenly her head whipped around, and I followed her eyes, landing on a guy drinking at the bar. He was half-grinning and talking, gesturing around wildly. I got a feeling he was doing more than praising me, or Bella wouldn't be paying attention. My stomach started to sink when Bella looked back at me, panicked. I hadn't thought, foolishly, yet about how my fight would have consequences. But judging by Bella's expression, there was. Probably police involvement.

I grabbed her hand quickly and pulled her through the still exuberant, happy and pleased crowd, back to our table to grab our coats, and then out of the club. The cold, biting night air, colder because of the breeze off the river Seine, whipped across my face and through my hair as I ran with Bella, hand in hand. The adrenaline already in my system heightened, my heart palpitating wildly, the cold air not bothering me because of the heat I'd garnered.

I felt alive. I felt free. I glanced over at Bella's face, with so many different emotions and expressions mixed in it, and I couldn't help but to laugh out loud at the whole thing. I know I laughed. I recognized the shaking sensation. And as I watched, Bella laughed too. My heart jumped and panged.

I smiled, victorious, as we ran like the absurd criminals we were through the light-brightened city.

We were far away from Batofar when I finally dragged my out-of-breath girlfriend into a clean, deserted alley. I kept her hand as she collapsed down, and then I sat down next to her, panting as well. I put my arm around her shoulder to make sure she stayed warm, and I leaned my forehead comfortably against her shoulder to relax and recapture my breath.

But apparently Bella was still pissed.

She shoved me away and crawled out from my side, coming to kneel in front of me, her deep brown eyes narrowed as they examined my face.

Are you hurt? she asked. The look on her face could've been chiseled from stone. I got the distinct impression that I was about to be hurt.

I just shook my head, hoping that if I went along she'd let me off easy.

She looked skeptical and unconvinced. Really? she signed, sarcasm twisting the form of her mouth. He didn't hit you at all?

It was really wounding my ego that she so disbelieving of me. I won! I'm all right! Let's leave it at that. I scowled and turned my head away. Well, maybe he got in one or two hits, but it's nothing to worry about.

She was still glowering. Take off your shirt.

I got the impression this was no sexual request.

But it's cold! I protested silently.

I wasn't gaining any sympathy from her. Well, you should have thought of that before you got in a fucking brawl, you idiot!

All right, this had gone on long enough. Before she could move, I grabbed her waist and pulled her to me quickly. She landed on my lap, her bewildered face inches from mine. I narrowed my eyes at her. Yes, I got in a fight. Over her. And I was damn proud of it too. I mean, hell! It wasn't like she never got in a fight over me…The memory made my face darken. I met her brown eyes, looking into them, wanting her to get over it. She was being way too hypocritical, she had to see that. I could tell she was still slightly disoriented, but aggravation remained regardless. I softly brushed my hand along her face, silently urging her to relax. Everything was okay. I leaned forward to kiss her, reassure her, and she let me, finally melding into me. Good.

Maybe I just needed to explain. I took for granted that the reason was so obvious to me.

I felt myself say her name, preparing her. I couldn't just let that guy get away with what he tried to do. I'll never let any man get away with that. You deserve to be treated better than that, and that kind of disrespect is absolutely unacceptable. Plus… I felt my eyes narrow. One of my primary motivations was beyond possessive, but I didn't care and I knew that Bella wouldn't mind either. You are mine. No one else gets to touch you...not like I do. Never like that.

Bella gave in finally, sighing as she nodded. Her eyes dropped from mine and she wound her arms around my neck, resting on my shoulder. There was a moment of stillness, before I felt Bella's body jerk in a way that had become familiar to me over the years - she was crying.

I swiftly grabbed her shoulders and pushed her back so I could see her, panicked. I hated when she cried. I hated when she was that kind of sad. It was my job to make sure she didn't cry, not be the cause of it.

What? What is it? I could feel my anxiety registering in my expression.

I watched her throat contract gently, before she shook her head, her small hand coming up to rub the tears from her eyes. Nothing. It's stupid. Just everything catching up to me, I guess. I just…don't want you to get hurt. She bit her lip, more tears welling up in her pretty eyes.

I said her name, wanting to reassure her, comfort her, let her know it was all right. I hoped it came out like that. I leaned forward to kiss her all over, kissing her tears away, doing all the things that comforted her. I said her name over and over, and made sure I told her I loved her at the end too. Saying 'I love you' was difficult. It was a lot longer than her name, and I hadn't been saying it nearly as long as her name. But I was still happy I could say it to her, that she could hear it, if only one of us could. Especially since I had something else to say to her soon, that was even harder.

I'm fine, really, I reassured her again, and kissed her still trembling lips softly.

Hold me, please, she asked, looking down almost in embarrassment. 'Bella, oh Bella,' I wanted to say. 'There's nothing I want to do more for the rest of my life.'

I wrapped my arms around her tightly as she buried her face in the crook of my neck, her favorite hiding spot. I rocked her back and forth slowly, keeping her whole and safe in my arms, like I always would.

I would assure that. I thought briefly back to her wedding ring hidden in my suitcase, and bit back my smile. I leaned down to tell her I loved her in her ear again. I kissed her hair tenderly, running a hand through the beautiful brown locks.

I was glad we were done fighting. I didn't mind arguing, but I hated fighting with her. It brought back too many painful memories…which were my fault.

The seventeen year old boy walked out to his car with his best friend in tow. She was smiling and bouncing, but seemed oddly distracted. He didn't worry over it too much. It wasn't such a rare occurrence. She was probably thinking about a book she was reading. She got lost in her own world a lot. He smiled briefly before he slipped into the driver seat of his car, his best friend already sitting in the passenger chair, buckled up and everything.

He snapped his buckle shut as she looked over to him, her eyes sparkling, and he forced himself to concentrate on something other than staring at her, hurriedly putting the key in the ignition.

Hey, she signed, a brilliant smile on her face, dazzling him. Can you just drop me off at home today?

He froze, this bringing him back to reality. This request was a rare occurrence. Something was usually wrong when she asked that. Except she looked okay…and he was pretty good at looking past any fake smiles she threw at him…

He raised an eyebrow, suspicious. Why?

She gave him a look. I don't have to tell you why. Just do it.

This didn't sound good. He was going to have to play dirty. Please?

He watched her exhale heavily, defeated, and cheered grimly inside, still anxiously anticipating whatever she would tell him.

I'm just going over to a new friend's house, she told him. You know, that new exchange student from the UK I told you about? Ian? Yeah, well he said that he had some books that could only be gotten exclusively in the UK, and he's going to let me borrow them! She smiled enthusiastically, her eyes shining with excitement. Of course, I'm letting him borrow some too.

Edward felt his mouth harden, furrowing his brow. He fully believed Bella's intentions were innocent. But she also didn't like to see the reality of the situation when it came to her and other boys. Unfortunately, he did. And he knew that this new, apparently "cute" Euro-punk wasn't asking her to go over there for any damn books. It was just an in.

You're going over to a guy's house? he qualified. He knew what he must sound like, but his mind was racing, trying to think of a way to talk her out of it without sounding crazy or jealous. Because, yes, he was beyond jealous. But it was more than that. He knew she wasn't going over there for anything physical, but that just might be what she got.

His best friend interrupted his brooding by rolling her eyes. Yeah, so? I go over to your house all the time, Dad.

He raised his hands, wanting to say that his motivation behind his concern was not fatherly in the least little bit, but that wasn't something he could say without raising questions. He dropped his hands like they weighed a hundred pounds, and could think of nothing else to say for now. He quickly started his car and began the drive home. His thoughts were haywire the entire way to his friend's home. He had to convince her not to go. At the very least, for his own sanity. He'd seen the new guy, Ian. And he didn't trust him for a second. And not just because he was jealous. At least, he didn't think that was why.

They arrived at her house too soon in his opinion, and he was still undecided on what to do. He could just tell her the truth…but how would that be recepted? He felt her looking at him. His palms sweat slightly. He had to just tell her flat out he didn't want her to go over there, and hoped she wasn't angry at him. But he saw her shrug and leave the car before he could sign anything, walking up the stone steps to her front door. He exited the car quickly too, hurrying to reach her. He stopped a few steps behind, mentally preparing himself as he shifted his weight restlessly on one foot to the other.

Bella was about to open her door before she turned around, and looked startled at seeing him standing there. Did she expect him to leave? That thought panged in his chest. She turned around fully, her expression curious.

Taking a deep breath, he raised his hands to ask a question that might potentially let him be more okay with this. Are you two going to be alone? he asked. He couldn't even meet her eyes, concentrating hard on a crack in the wall next to the door.

She scowled at him. How am I supposed to know? Maybe. Now, are you done acting like my parents?

Was she going to continue to play oblivious? He felt his eyes tighten, and the frustration gave him the courage he needed to slide his eyes over to look at hers dead on. Why can't you just exchange books at school?

And then, another thought penetrated his mind. A horrifying, breath-constricting thought. Maybe…maybe she wanted something with this new guy. Maybe he had something she'd been looking for. That would explain why she was so insistent on going over to his house. It wasn't the only possibility, but it was a very real one. Pain seemed to rip his heart open. Maybe he was too late. Why was he such a damn coward? What if she was moving on?

She didn't see his internal struggle as she rolled her eyes. Because that's cumbersome, she signed, annoyed.

Annoyed. What if that annoyance never went away? What if things were changing? What if she was moving on. What if he was that constant annoyance who wouldn't get a clue as she pulled away? What if?

What then?

He tried to push the thoughts aside. Maybe they were completely unfounded. Maybe he was being crazy because he was being insecure. He decided to stick to his original point. And if…if she still wanted to go over after, then that would just prove it…And…and then he'd know. He took a deep breath for some much-needed strength. Alright. Let me just say it. There is really only one reason he wants you to go over there. And it's not to 'exchange books.'

Her mouth fell open in shock a minute before she closed it, glaring at him. There was no relenting in her eyes. You're unbelievable! You know what, I didn't even ask you. This isn't your business.

And that…and that proved it. He felt like she'd grabbed his heart, squeezed most of the blood out of it for a while, so he could feel the pulsing pain each time, and then ripped it out violently, leaving an angry, jagged hole that the wind burned and stung whenever it touched.

But he couldn't show that now. So he used his pain instead to become belligerent and furious.

And he pretended like he didn't give a damn as his world fell into a black hole and sunk.

He lashed out. Fine then. Whatever. Don't listen to me, and go get raped. See if I care. You'll probably enjoy it anyway. He glared at the sidewalk, trying not to think about what he said so he wouldn't give in immediately. His heart tugged and hurt. He had to remember to breathe. He wanted to leave. He wanted to stay. He never wanted to leave her side. But he never wanted to give her the opportunity to push him away

And then, before his musing could go on further - SMACK. He felt flesh collide with his cheek, and knew that Bella had hit him. Out of shock, he stumbled back. His widened eyes narrowed as he recovered his balance, rubbing his cheek as he analyzed her reaction. His insinuation had obviously offended her, he noted, as he took in her heaving chest, flushed cheeks, and narrowed, angry eyes. So maybe that's not what she was after with this Ian. Or maybe she was just pissed that he'd questioned her virtue. That was reasonable too. Guilt was stabbing his torn heart. He wanted to apologize. He wanted her to reassure him.

He'd put himself in no position to deserve either of these.

He watched his best friend breathe out, anger twisting her features. She was still the prettiest girl he'd ever seen.

She lifted her hands to sign at him. He waited, resigned. He'd fucked up and he knew it. And you know what? It's not even like I can scream at you right now, because you couldn't hear it anyway.

His mouth fell open, his breath leaving in a single gust of exhalation. He'd been expecting harshness, a big fuck you, but he'd never expected that. He never expected her to go there.

She was already gone, whirling into the house and slamming the door shut behind her.

There was no sound in his ears. There never had been, probably never would be. He leaned unsteadily against her porch railing, and wished desperately that he could scream, and hear it, because maybe that would release this vice grip on his heart just a little bit.

He didn't really remember the drive home, or going up to his room, slamming the door and collapsing on his bed.

He just remembered her angry face. The hurt in her eyes at his assumptions. The way she'd looked on the verge of tears.

And he knew he'd been dead fuck wrong about everything.

He wiped his tears away angrily. He didn't deserve them.

He wanted to go apologize right now, make things right, let her hit him and tell him what a dumbass he was. But he'd never seen that look on her face directed toward him. And he figured it was better he gave her some space.

That was, if she ever wanted to talk to him again.


Emmett slammed into Edward's room two weeks after the fight, aggravated, as he saw his brother sitting cross-armed on his bed, staring out the window, looking at nothing, doing nothing. What was there to do?

Edward, just go fucking talk to her already! Emmett signed erratically, pissed off as he watched his sullen brother.

Edward sighed, shaking his head slowly. He wished he could. He really did. But she still hated him.

That first day they'd seen each other again, after the long weekend apart, he was going to go crawling to her, begging her forgiveness. But she had started avoiding him. He'd pulled up to her house to drive her to school that day to find that she had already left. He went to talk to her in the halls just to see her bow her head and scurry faster, making it very clear that she was still pissed. He had thought, of all places, he could corner her in the lunchroom but she'd stopped coming to lunch too. Hanging out somewhere else, with other people. He hadn't eaten once at lunch since she'd deserted them, and he just stared at the table, hurt beyond what was fair really. He'd started this. He just had to give her time.

Time was long. Time was slow.

Surely another twenty-four hours was enough? That second day, he was going to approach her, just to see her chatting with that stupid Ian guy. It didn't last very long, ending in Bella shrugging and walking away, but it was enough to leave him conflicted again. He was at a loss as to how she felt about this guy. He'd thought that maybe she didn't but maybe she did. He wondered briefly what they had done at his house when she went over, probably some time after he had left, and he felt sick, like he was going to throw up. He'd turned and walked hurriedly away.

It's not that easy Emmett, Edward signed, desolate.

His big brother rolled his eyes and neck in exasperation. Whatever, he huffed, turning and storming out of the room.

Edward shifted in his bed, deliberately making himself as uncomfortable and stiff as possible. He'd started getting too comfortable in that other position. He didn't deserve that.


It had been three weeks now since their big blow-out. After being hounded by his family to just go make amends, he started hiding out in his car during lunch. It was better than being around everybody else just to be reminded of the one jarringly empty spot that belonged to his…best friend. If he could still use that title.

He watched from the parking lot to wait for the mass of students to be released from lunch. When he saw they were, he sighed and left too, heading back up the school.

His heart lurched as he saw Bella heading his way in the hall. Their eyes met briefly and then Bella was blushing and looking down, gluing herself to the opposite wall. Edward looked away too, because it hurt too much. But he couldn't help but to look at her quickly and sneakily. She looked tired. She looked like the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.

He paused at the end of the hall and whirled around suddenly. She was almost to the opposite end, about to turn a corner. 'All right,' he promised himself. 'If she turns around…if she turns around I swear I'm going to run over there and hug her and tell her I'm sorry…and maybe even kiss her and tell her I love her even if she likes that Ian guy. As long as she turns around and looks at me again.'

But she didn't. She turned the corner and was gone from his sight. And that was basically the only thing he had.


Four weeks since they'd last talked to each other. Edward's hair was a mess, his mind a wreck. He missed her so much. He'd never gone this long without her. Even when she'd went to see her father in another state, for crying out loud! He was an addict and she was his drug. A good drug. A healthy one that he wanted and would always want and couldn't live without but she seemed to be able to live without him just fine.

'I fucking hate Ian,' he thought miserably. 'And I fucking hate me.'

And that was when his other sibling burst into his room.

She huffed exasperatedly and jumped next to him on the bed. All right loser, she said. I did some digging so you can stop moping around and start acting like a man, going to fulfill your manly duties. Bella does not, in fact, like Ian and she never even went over to his house. Okay? Will you stop being a baby now and go make amends?

He looked down, swallowing hard as he digested this information. His heart healed the tiniest little bit. But that wasn't his biggest problem now. What if it's too late Alice? he asked despairingly. What if I've waited too long?

Alice threw her hands up and muttered something. She fixed him a with a beady glare. Well, you'll never know unless you try, will you?

He was doubtful, but he nodded. I'll try.

Alice looked at the clock. It read ten in the evening. It's not so late Edward, she said. You could sneak over there right now. It's not like you haven't been over there later than this.

But he was shaking his head. No, I'll do it tomorrow. I don't know how well I'll be received when she's tired.

Alice frowned but didn't argue, standing up and leaving.

Sighing, Edward stood up and scanned his room. His eyes landed on his bookshelf, something he hadn't even noticed these past few weeks. There was an old, loved copy of a book lying on top that was definitely not his. Even from across the room he recognized it, and he gulped.

Unsure as to why, he stood up and took it down with shaking hands, running his fingers softly over the worn cover, knowing this was the same cover she had caressed so many times. He didn't even really like this stupid story. But she did.

He started flipping through Romeo and Juliet, the pages landing on ones that she most often flipped to. He read those fervently, as if he could be closer to her somehow, this way.

One passage in particular caught his attention.

"Tis torture, and not mercy. Heaven is here
Where Juliet lives, and every cat and dog
And little mouse, every unworthy thing,
Live here in heaven and may look on her,
But Romeo may not."

Well wasn't that the damned truth.

Edward's eyes moved to the clock. It was after midnight. He'd been at this a long time.

But it had given him what he needed. His mouth set in a determined line, his eyes glinted. Opening his door, he crept downstairs and out of his house.

He knew where he had to go.


He rapped on Bella's window quickly. He didn't know if they were still best friends, but he was going to do his damnedest to keep them that way. And he was never saying anything so stupid as he'd said before again. If she even let him in, he'd drop to his knees and kiss her feet if that's what it took to earn her mercy.

Because maybe he was no Romeo, and maybe she wasn't Juliet, but damn it all they didn't need to be, because he loved her, and that was all it took to be greater than them.

The girl in question threw back her orange curtains, looking down at him in surprise. He was trying to plead with her desperately through his eyes, resisting the urge to rake over her raggedy-clothed form with delight. He'd missed her so much; every single part.

Her surprised expression folded into a calm mask as she opened her window and crossed her arms. This wasn't an invitation in. But it gave him hope that he could make things right. He said sorry with his eyes as best as he could, drinking her in, before she slowly unfolded her arms, extending them toward him.

Resisting the urge to cry with relief, he jumped into her room and rushed to her, grabbing her small form up tightly in his arms, burying his face in her hair. She squeezed him back tightly, burying her face in his chest. She smelled like strawberries and perfection.

He had planned a million things to say. A million ways to grovel, explain, apologize.

He smiled in almost tearful reprieve as he realized that none of these things were necessary, just as they'd never been necessary with them.

Nothing had changed for them.

It was almost happy, except that Edward wanted something to change.

He picked up a strand of her silky hair and twirled it around his finger as he thought, and a plan began to form. He wanted to tell her that he loved her. Not just sign it to her. She had to hear it.

He smiled against Bella's cheek, kissing it softly. 'Take that, Romeo.'

I'd made lots of plans over the years, and I was about to follow through with another one of them. I'd always wanted to give Bella an amazing proposal. I'd always wanted to give her an amazing everything, to the best of my ability. Past it, even.

What better way than with a complete city view of Paris at sunset?

I smiled to myself as Bella grabbed my hand and made me halt our climb as she collapsed on the ground. I knew the cold air was hard for her. It wasn't easy for me either, but I had something else to concentrate on. I glanced quickly at the horizon, and to the sun's position in the sky. We had time.

Still, I really wanted us to get to the top of this preface soon, just in case.

But my poor girlfriend…I grinned as I examined her. Her face was almost completely red with exertion and the cruel wind, her cute little nose pink.

She was dehydrating. I reached into my pack and pulled out my bottle of water to hand to her. She'd already finished hers. She chugged mine gratefully, and the color started to fade from her cheeks as I watched her even out her breathing. I smiled at her. Come on, it's just a little farther. We're almost there.

She glared at me exasperatedly. You said that almost an hour ago.

I grinned wider but didn't respond because we really were close and she knew it. I held my hand out for her and she took it. I hauled her to her feet and began pulling her along after again, keeping a grip on her so she wouldn't slip on a rock and killed herself. That would be just my luck. And hers too.

I patted my pocket on the way up. I kept thinking that the friction of my moving jeans would eventually cause it to slip out without me noticing and be lost forever. And that would shoot all my careful planning to hell.

I'd still propose though. I'd just rather do it with a ring.

We reached the peak soon after and Bella slipped her small bag from her slim shoulders, craning her head back in exhaustion.

I set my bag down and fished out a blanket that I laid out, so we wouldn't have to sit in the dirt. Hungry? I asked her. She looked like she was.

She nodded, looking relieved, and went to sit next to me happily. She wiggled herself into my side for the warmth, and I put an arm around her to help her goal. I would've liked to warm her up a different way, but stripping out here would not be effective for warming up no matter what…physical exertion we were exerting.

I pulled some light, easy foods from my pack, like fruits and cheese, and juice as well. I would've brought wine, but honestly Bella didn't need anything to compromise her balance further when we hiked back down.

Bella smiled and picked up the grapes, a sly gleam coming to her eye. She set them down to sign, Want some? The grin on her face matched the look in her eyes. I couldn't help but to grin back, wanting very much to know where she was going with this.

She turned to face me and took my shoulders, encouraging me to lay down in her lap. My grin widened. Oh yes. I could definitely agree with this.

She brought the grapes down to me like I was a revered Greek god and I pinched one in between my teeth, tugging it gently off the vine. I closed my eyes, happy as I chewed, and brought my arms up to wrap around Bella's slim waist, wanting to hold her but not wanting to move. I felt her lean down, her hair tickling my face, before it was her lips brushing against mine, pressing down and making the grape taste almost bitter in comparison to her sweetness. She held my face in her hands and I deepened the kiss.

It was some minutes later when we broke away for air.

Now, why'd you want to get up here so fast? she asked.

Oh thank the heavens she hadn't seen the view yet. I'd been too distracted to think about that. I turned my eyes to the left to look at the gorgeous view of the city. The sun was beginning to set. It played out over the mist, making everything look surreal and unreal.

I grinned. Perfect.

I quickly raised my hand to cover Bella's eyes, seeing her begin to look in the same direction I was. I stood and helped her to her feet too, maintaining my cover over her eyes. She was smiling in confusion and anticipation. I patted my pocket once before I spun her around and placed that hand on her waist to hold her here, like this, to me. Then I removed my hand and let her see, placing my head on her shoulder.

The view was beautiful it was true. But it paled in comparison to Bella's face as she looked at it. Her eyes widened, becoming very bright, the brown dancing. A faint pink tinted her porcelain skin. Her full lips formed a perfect 'o'.

I loved her. Now was the moment.

I took a deep breath and squeezed her once for courage. She turned to look at me but I didn't meet her eyes as I turned her to the side, stepping in front of her, the heart-shattering view to our right. I took her hand in mine and kissed it, wondering how the hell I was going to do this.

I hadn't had a lot of time to myself lately to practice this phrase. What if I forgot how to do it, and all of Alice and mine's work went to waste? And Bella couldn't actually understand the words I'd picked out carefully? I took a deep breath and tried to calm down. I could do this. I'd worked too long and too hard to not have it work out.

And even if I failed, Bella would understand.

The woman in question placed her hand on my cheek, concerned as I stared at my feet. I could do this. I could do this for her. I looked up at her, her brown eyes so overwhelming with love and beauty, I couldn't help but to lean in and kiss her for courage. I reached my hand simultaneously into my pocket.

I kept her hand in mine as I bent down. Bella's eyes widened.

The sunset played out heart-stoppingly on her skin and hair, dancing in her shocked eyes. I'd never seen, and would never see, anyone so perfect as her.

That steeled me.

I let her name escape me, the movements familiar to me. I opened the soft velvet box to show her the ring I'd bought for her, holding it up as an offering in the age-old ritual. The next words were less familiar but I knew them. I did.

I felt myself say 'Marry me,' moving my lips and tongue the same way Alice had taught me, feeling the familiar vibrations. And I knew I'd done it.

Bella's eyes immediately filled her tears as her lips mouthed 'Oh, Edward.'

A shaky hand came up to her face as we stared at each other, and my heart ached for her to say yes.

The tears spilled over her cheeks in a tidal wave, and then she was nodding emphatically, too overcome to do anything else as the widest smile I'd ever smiled spread out over my face. I slipped the ring onto her finger and dropped the box thoughtlessly to the ground, standing up to grab her and kiss her furiously, swinging around.

She laughed through her tears and my heart panged and jumped as I laughed too, triumphant and gloriously enraptured by her.

My best friend.

My girlfriend.

My fiancée.

My soon-to-be bride.

Romeo and Juliet weren't forever. We were.

I kissed her hard as I felt my own tears slide down my face.