Chapter Eighteen: Afterglow

Slowly things seemed to be taking a step back towards normal. We returned to Forks the next day. Charlie and I ignored whatever words had been exchanged putting it off on a teenage breakdown. I swore to myself I would never do that to him again. If anything ever happened again, I would tell him the truth. No matter what. There wasn't much time to relax before we were thrown into finals at school. Edward had the material memorized and made a big deal of leaving me alone at night to study. It was he that couldn't make it more than two nights. When I'd wake in the middle of the night, he'd be there like always studying me in my sleep. The week seemed never ending as I filled out bubble sheet after bubble sheet. I was so thankful when Saturday finally came and we could actually spend the day together.

After sleeping through most of the day, I was disturbed by the incessant ringing of my cell phone.

"Hmm?" My voice mumbled out half awake. I hadn't even opened my eyes yet.

"How about that real date that I've been promising you?" The tone of his smooth voice sent me shooting up in my bed.

"What exactly did you have in mind?" I used the back of my hand to wipe the sleep from my eyes. The sun poured in lighting my floor brightly.

"It's a surprise."

"I don't really know how to dress if you don't give me a bit of a hint, Edward. I'm not a healer, not a mind reader. Would you throw me a tiny hint?" As romantic and charming as he was, his surprises always left me slightly terrified at what he was capable of.

"Oh I think you'll know just what to wear. I'll pick you up at seven." Before I could open my mouth to protest, his line had already gone dead. Sighing gravely I dropped my phone back on my bed. I then shuffled blindly toward the bathroom to shower and hopefully wake up before getting ready for our surprise evening with each other. As I dried my hair, possible options for tonight passed through my mind. Edward did not seem like the dinner and a movie type. It was just too generic for someone as thoughtful as he was. After our last visit to the city, that seemed to be out of the question as well. He hadn't even let me driven myself to school once since we had been back. Wrapped in my towel I opened my closet to find a possible outfit that could outlast whatever activity he had planned. The sight of bright red silk met my eyes. It was the exact same dress down to every stitch. There was no possible way that he could have managed to find the dress from Port Angeles. And then buy it for me. It was too much. On the floor beneath it lay a pair of dangerously high black heels. With huge eyes I picked them up only to see a familiar worn parchment tucked into one of them.

Just kidding! I had you there for a minute, didn't I?

I couldn't help but smile at his words. Tucked safely behind where the heels lay were my worn black converse high tops. Even more confused than before, I slid the dress on smoothly and jammed my feet into my sneakers.

"Bella!" Charlie bellowed from the bottom of the stairs. "Edward's here!" My damp hair had already started to curl gently. Quickly I brushed on some clear gloss and a touch of eyeliner praying I looked decent enough. Hesitantly I descended downstairs my eyes watching the gentle sweep of the fabric as I walked. The first thing my eyes saw were his sleek black dress shoes. As my eyes made their way up his form, I was taken aback by his tuxedo. I had never seen anything so perfect. His hand carefully held onto a plastic container. His smile was wide as I finally graced the last step.

"I see you found something to wear?" Watching his eyes wash over me sent a surge of blood to my cheeks.

"How did you-" My head shook slightly completely shocked at his ability to track down one dress out of thousands. Swiftly his hand fished out a small photograph from his pocket.

"Angela gave it to me. She said that you'd probably burn it, so she might as well give it to someone who'll cherish it." My mind quickly flickered back to the dress shop when I had tried it on and was met by Angela's camera flash.

"You didn't have to buy it. It's so expensive."

"Consider it a gift." His fingers expertly opened the plastic container revealing a corsage made from white calla lilies. A small gasp escaped my glossed lips as he slid it onto my wrist. "There. I think we're ready now." Before we could make it to the car, Charlie stopped us on the porch to take a picture. Slowly my mind began to place the pieces together as to where our first date would be.

"We're seriously going to prom?" I finally worked up enough courage to ask when we had pulled out of the driveway. His face broke into a slow, beaming smile.

"You did promise me. We don't have to stay long. I have something else planned too. But like I said, I don't want you to miss any milestones. You've given me an excuse to go for the first time," He said while his hand slipped from the steering wheel to rest atop of mine.

"You're going to kill me," I sighed as we pulled into the packed parking lot of school.

"No, my dear, as you so pointed out, I can't." Although I had been repeating it to him for the entire course of our relationship, it had been the first time he had let the words pass his lips. It seemed he had started to finally believe me. As he walked around the car, my heart pounded with nervousness and excitement. Never in a million years had I dreamed of dancing with the love of my life at prom. His hand graciously helped me out of the car. Slowly we made our way into the dimly lit gym that vibrated with the sound of music. One thing I truly loved about Edward was that he was just as terrified of fast songs as I was. We wondered around the outer edge of the dance floor talking to classmates. Prom was just what we needed after a hellacious week of cramming for tests. Summer was fast approaching within the next week. I had originally planned to spend the summer back with my mother, but I couldn't stomach being away from Edward for any length of time.

"Shall we?" His suave voice broke me out of my daydreams. He led me towards the middle of the dance floor. The speakers began projecting the guitar riff that both of us were so familiar with.

"How'd you get them to play this song? I doubt anyone DJ has The Hollies randomly on their play list," I questioned raising my eyebrow knowing he had been up to something.

"You'd be surprised what they'll do for tips." His hand pulled me closer towards him resting against the small of my back. We fell into a soft rhythm as my head rested against his chest. He expertly swayed us back and forth to the music. I could feel the people around us step away slightly in order to better watch us dance. Ordinarily I would be terrified at the added attention, but he was worth it. "Are you ready for the second part of this evening?" He whispered pressing his lips close to my ear. He placed a tiny kiss just below my jaw line cooling my body instantly. I nodded in response and let him lead us through the parted crowd.

The air outside had cooled down quite a bit in the couple hours we had been inside the heated gym. After ten minutes of driving through winding roads, I became less knowledgeable about my surroundings.

"Where are we going?" I asked as my eyes noticed the thickening of the trees around the road.

"It's a surprise," He cooed slowly easing the car to a stop in a clearing. "Don't be angry with me, but there might be some running involved. Just know that it will be worth it," He spoke rapidly scooping me out of my seat and closing the door with his foot. Before I could open my mouth to protest, he had begun speeding through the brush holding me against him. I closed my eyes for the entirety of his stunt knowing the repercussions of looking at our blurry path. He came to a halt in a bigger clearing completely surrounded in tufts of wildflowers. I now knew where he had managed to make such a spectacular bouquet the night he met Charlie. A blanket had already been spread out near the middle of the ground.

"Edward, this is…unreal," I whispered breathlessly. His hand laced with mine bringing me over toward our spot.

"I'm glad you like it. There's a reason I brought you here tonight," His voice trailed off slightly lined with nervousness. He bit down on his lips searching for the right words to speak. He took my right hand into his and caressed it so softly. Reaching into his breast pocket, he retrieved a small gold ring with one diamond set perfectly in the center. My breath was knocked from my lungs as I watched him roll it between his fingers. "This was my real mother's ring. It's the only thing I have left from my previous life. I want you to have it as my promise to you. That in time I will do as you wish so we can be together. That I will marry you, Isabella Marie Swan. And that I will love you for the rest of my unending life." Gracefully he slid it onto my finger. My hand shook uncontrollably causing the diamond to sparkle in the moonlight. Taking my hand in his, he ceased my quivering.

"I love you too, Edward." Tears threatened the corners of my eyes. Without speaking, his hand cupped my cheek bringing me in closer as our lips met passionately. It felt so right as his fingertips brushed over the skin of my collarbone before brushing down my arm. Gently he laid me back onto the awaiting blanket hovering over me slightly. Daringly I let my tongue flick ever so gently against his bottom lip my eyes fluttering closed. Instead of stopping like I thought he would, he responded by parting his lips slightly meshing my tongue with his. My small fingers managed to slide his jacket off his arms dropping it to the ground. My flesh was taken by goose bumps when I felt his nails slowly drag down the length of my side causing my back to arch off the ground toward him. When I opened my eyes, they were met by his staring longingly back at me. It was as if in that moment, his defenses melted away. With my unwavering trust in him, he had begun to trust himself as well. He had given me a life I had only dreamed of, and in return I wanted to give him everything he could want. Both of us would surrender to our enduring love as the moon shone brightly down upon us from the starry sky. As I drew in a shaky breath, his lips pressed down once more against my neck.

"I love you, my Bella," He murmured his hands sliding lower as my eyes fluttered upwards into the midnight blue sky. Neither of us needed to say anything aloud, words were not necessary. Our undying love spoke loud enough for both of us. The rest of my life with Edward Cullen would begin tonight under the vibrant stars.

****Well? I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it! I have begun a sequel....It's called 'Numb'. If you liked this one please continue reading!! I'm very serious about completing the next one too. More elements from Heroes have been added...****


Jenfur Lee