"Off The Page Contest"
This is my entry for the bookward contest.
Pen Name: Freakybella
Book/Written Work: H.R.H. by Danielle Steele
Twilight by Stephanie Myers & H.R.H. by Danielle Steele
I do not own Twilight. I do not own H.R.H. Stephanie and Danielle own it all.
I do own a copy of The Sexy Stars of Twilight. Sigh.
Summary: Isabella is the Serene Princess of Liechtenstein. She has a calling to volunteer for the Red Cross to help others. While in Africa, she meets Dr. Edward Cullen an AIDS research doctor from Harvard. In the hot African sun, they fall in love, but little does Edward know that their love may not survive once they leave Africa.
The story starts in Bella's point of view and ends in Edward's.
Word Count: 14,788
I have been in Africa for two months now instantly falling in love with it the day I arrived. I came to volunteer at the Red Cross camp. The director came and picked my two body guards and myself up from the local airstrip. As he drove, he described the camp which included a small hospital and school.
Before we arrived to the camp the director and I discussed the need to keep my identity private. I am the Serene Highness Isabella of Liechtenstein. My father is reigning Prince of Liechtenstein, a small neutral country between Switzerland and Austria. My father had let me attend Berkley in the United States and upon returning, I found palace life difficult to say the least. I felt like there was something more in this world than attending state dinners.
About a month after I was home, there was an uprising in a small province of Russia. A school was taken hostage in order to blackmail the country to release terrorists that had been placed in prison. I informed my father that I wanted to go and volunteer to help. He tried to talk me out of it, but I was determined to go so he sent my body guards Max and Sam with me to protect me and we were off.
While I was there, I found what I had been missing in my life, my calling to help others. I found the Red Cross camp and after I met with the director there, I rolled up my sleeves and started to help. Staying for almost a week until the crises was over; the director was impressed with my work and dedication. She told me that if I ever wanted to help again, to give her a call.
When I returned, my father saw in my eyes the change that occurred to me while I was there. I explained to him that I wanted to volunteer my time with the Red Cross for one year. If he would just give me one year, then I would come home and be the good little Princess that he wanted. But I explained to him that I had to do this. I had this need to help other people in more ways than just visiting hospitals and nursing homes as my role as Princess.
After countless debates, he finally relented and contacted the Red Cross head office in Geneva. Discussing my idea with the administrator, my father was informed of a small camp in an area of Africa that had been at peace with its neighboring countries for a couple of years now that would be ideal for me to volunteer. Every security measure would be taken while I was there and at the first sign of trouble I would be taken out immediately.
My father let me go on the condition that I would take Max and Sam with me. I would never be alone, Max and Sam would shadow my every move. I had to call my father at least once a week myself to check in, while Max and Sam would report to him everyday. If at anytime my father gave the order, they were to bring me home kicking and screaming if they had to.
I had to go through a series of training classes with the Red Cross. My personal physician conducted a complete physical and administered a round of booster shots plus shots for malaria. So after finally convincing my father to let me do this and all the other things I had to do in order to get to Africa, here I am.
Even though I was extremely exhausted from my long journey from Liechtenstein, I was too excited to be tired. When we arrived at the camp, there were people lined up to meet us. Each member introduced themselves and explained their roll at the camp. Everyone I met was very polite and even though no one knew who I was, they were all very gracious and kind.
The director took us on a tour of the camp. The hospital and school were both a permanent structure while the mess hall and living quarters were large tents. One tent was for the women, the other for the men. Several small tents assigned to married couples for their privacy.
Once the tour was over, Alice, one of the nurses came up and swung her arm around me. "Bella, you and I are going to be great friends. Come on I will show you where you will be sleeping." The director and I had decided that everyone should call me Bella instead of my full name. Alice led me to the women's tent walking in and setting my bag on one of the cots. "This is my cot here." She pointed to the cot next to where my duffel bag was sitting. "Make sure you use the foot locker to put all your clothes and shoes in. Don't leave anything lying out, and if you do, make sure you shake it out before you put it on. We have seen spiders and snakes in here, so be careful. Make sure you check your bed before you crawl in to sleep too!" Alice gave a little shudder and made a funny face. I was not going to doubt her one bit.
After I was settled in, Alice started telling me all the minor things the director missed because he was due back to the hospital to see patients. Alice informed me of the shower schedule for the men and women explaining there were only certain times a day that you could take a shower, and if you missed that time, you would have to find someone to help you.
By this time it was late and time for dinner to be served. We walked over to the mess tent and grabbed a bite to eat. The food wasn't bad and I was famished so I couldn't complain. Alice informed me of the mess hall schedule for all the meals.
After dinner, Alice and I were walking back to our tent. It wasn't that late, but finally my journey and no sleep had caught up with me. Sitting on the cot, I pulled my boots off placing them in the foot locker heeding Alice's warning. Pulling my sheets back to make sure they were critter free and sure I would be sleeping alone, I crawled into bed with all my clothes on. I was too tired to care. Within minutes of my head hitting the pillow, I was sound asleep.
Everyday was exactly the same. Alice and I would go and eat breakfast together. When we were finished, Alice would head off the hospital and I would head off to the school. I was assigned to the school to be one of the assistants there. I could speak French and some of the children whom attended school there did as well. The teacher was impressed by the progress the children had made since I was there. She said they responded to me because of how I interacted with them. I was open with them and they responded in kind.
Alice and I would sit and eat lunch together. Then we went back to our jobs. When school let out, I was allowed to work in the hospital bringing the nurses supplies or running errands. I felt helpful and I loved it.
Dinner was always a joyous occasion for everyone ending another beautiful day knowing we had all helped people in our own way. Everyone would sit around and tell stories or play cards making feel like college again.
Max and Sam always kept an eye out for me, but would give me space. Each one had been assigned to do something that they were best suited for. They didn't mind coming with me to Africa. Each of them had been with me in Russia and was just as moved as I was. And truth be known, a life of a Princess is not only boring to a Princess, but to her bodyguards as well.
One day when I was working in the hospital, Alice came bounding up to me, clearly something had her excited. "Guess what Bella? Doctors Without Borders is coming next week. They usually make their rounds about every eight to ten weeks. It is so much fun with they come. It gets lively around here to say the least." I had never seen her so thrilled.
The whole camp was talking about the team arriving excited to have some kind of contact with the outside world. According to Alice, there was going to be a new doctor with them this time from Harvard doing AIDS research.
When Doctors Without Borders arrived the energy level in the camp was so high you could almost feel it buzzing in the air. We all stood around introducing ourselves and shaking hands. The team consisted of four doctors who brought medical equipment with them that was not available here in the countryside and the new research doctor.
Dr. Edward Cullen, whose name I learned at their arrival, had been traveling with them for about a month conducting AIDS research. He seemed to be a gentle man with a great passion for his cause who was polite and well spoken. With unruly bronze hair and the greenest eyes I had ever seen, I felt an attraction to him almost instantly, but denied it with my every fiber. There was no way that I would ever be able to have a relationship with him.
Later that night when I was lying in my cot attempting to go to sleep, I could hear Alice restlessly tossing around on her bed. Finally she sat up and started to talk, "Bella are you asleep?" she whispered trying to not wake our other bunk mates.
"No, Alice, I am not asleep. What's own your mind?" I sat up rubbing my eyes trying to wake up enough to listen.
Alice got off her bed, walked over and sat down beside me wrapping her arms around my shoulders, "Bella, you have been quiet today? I know you are naturally a quiet person, but more so today than usual. Does it have anything to do with a green eyed doctor named Edward?" She questioned making my heart flip in my chest.
Of course it had everything to do with a green eyed doctor and so much more. I could not tell Alice the truth. Even though I trusted her with my life, I could never tell her who I really was, and that I could never be involved with Edward. She wouldn't understand. Once she found out I was a Princess, then the way that she treated me would change. How could I explain to her that my life was bound by duty and honor? How could I explain to Alice that my life didn't belong to me? And because my life didn't belong to me, I couldn't belong to Edward.
When I met Edward, there was something about him. Instantly I could see myself with him, imagining what a life with him would be like. But as soon as the thought came into my head, I had to push it away. No matter how much I would like to be with him, I could never let it happen. I could not do that to him.
"Alice, I'm just tired." That was not a complete lie, but there was no way I would discuss the truth with her.
"Bella, are you sure that's all it is? Are you sure it has nothing to do with Edward, who I might add couldn't keep his eyes off of you." She nudged my shoulder in a friendly gesture. When I looked into her eyes she had a mischievous glint in her eye.
Taking a deep breath, I sighed heavily before responding. "Alice, it does not matter what he thinks of me. It does not matter what I think of him. My father will never allow a relationship with him. I will not start something that could potentially end in heartbreak for both of us."
Giving Alice an abridged version of my life when we first met, I had told her that I had a brother that was a disappointment to my father, and because of him, my father expected more from me. I explained that one day my father expected me to help run the family business and I would not let him down. It was not the complete truth, but as much as I could tell her without giving away who I really was.
"Wow, Bella. My family would be thrilled if I brought home a doctor as a potential husband. You really don't have any say in your life do you?"
I gave her a sad smile. "You have no idea Alice. Come on, let's get some sleep. It will be a long and hot day tomorrow." Alice went back to her bed and tried to go to sleep. I did my best to do the same, but I knew that my mind was consumed with thoughts that would not let me rest easy.
The next couple of weeks went by in a blur. I never saw Edward much while he was setting up his project and getting started. I would see him at dinner because every night he would come and sit with Alice and myself. Edward was easy to talk to. Too easy.
Talking with Edward I learned his father and brother were both doctors, and his mother died when he was young. He had never been married. He had once loved with a woman he met in medical, but they both realized it would never work so she moved out. Since he started his research, he had not had time do anything else.
Edward asked questions about me, and as I did with Alice, I gave him a version that did not reveal my identity. He asked what type of business my father was in so I told him public relations. Not an exact lie, but a tamed version of it. Questioning what I did for my father, I told him I was in the ribbon cutting business and I knew that I had slipped.
"Ribbon cutting business. What do you mean ribbon cutting business?" He chuckled shaking his head. "I have never heard of that before. Do you wrap ribbon onto spools or something?"
"Sometimes my father makes me attend openings of new offices." I shrugged trying to make light of it. I turned my head looking away briefly hoping he would not see the lie that was probably written all over my face and in my eyes. I also hoped her couldn't hear the sadness in my voice.
Walking towards the hospital for my afternoon work, Alice came rushing out towards me. "Bella we could use your help in here. One of the locals is having a baby and I need you to help gather supplies. Maybe you can help calm her down too. We aren't having much luck." She turned on her heels running back inside with me chasing after her. Once I was inside I washed my hands and arms before slipping on a set of scrubs and a cap for my head.
Inside the room set aside for surgeries and minor operations, I could see that the head doctor was trying to get the women to calm down, while Alice was getting everything prepared. I walked up to the woman placing my hand on her forearm giving her a reassuring smile. She looked up with a grimace on her face. Clearly the pain from the labor was overwhelming.
I had seen her before and knew that she spoke French. "Please try and calm down mademoiselle. It is not good for the baby. Would you like me to stay and help you? I am not a doctor or a nurse, but I will do my best to comfort you." I spoke calmly trying my best to sooth her.
She nodded yes as relief washed over her face. I explained that I needed to gather a few things and I would be right back. She nodded again taking a deep breath calming herself. Alice and the doctor both smiled at me appreciatively and went back to work. As I walked across the room I saw Edward standing in the doorway watching me. He smiled a huge smile at me and continued to watch my every move.
I went to the sink, filled a small bowl with water and then grabbed some small rags dipping them into the cool water. As I walked back over to the table where the delivery was about to start, I could feel Edward's eyes boring into my body. Taking a rag wringing most of the water free from it, I began dabbing at the woman's forehead. She looked at me with wide eyes then closed them sighing in content.
As her labor progressed, I continued wiping her forehead, her face, and her neck trying to keep her cool. When the doctor asked her to start pushing, she grabbed my hand and pleaded with me to stay with her. Alice and I sat her up and I climbed in behind her, my chest pressed to her back, my legs hung off the side of the bed and my arms placed over hers, holding her hands. I spoke softly in her ear reminding her to breath.
Finally after over an hour of pushing she delivered a fine baby boy. I climbed out from behind her drenched with her sweat and mine. Alice handed her the baby and even though she was tired she smiled a wide smile. Instantly I could see a bond being formed. Smiling at the sight I then turned to walk away when her free hand grabbed mine and she smiled at me with tears in her eyes. "I could not have done this without you. I was so scared until I saw you come into the room. How can I ever repay you?"
I smiled back at her. "There is nothing to repay. Just watching that little one delivered into your arms is thanks enough. Take care of yourself and him." I squeezed her hand nodded to Alice and the doctor and made my way out of the room. Edward was standing in the same spot his eyes glued to me with a look of admiration on his face. I quickly darted my eyes away walking out to clean up. Peeling my scrubs and cap off my sticky body I was instantly grateful to be rid of them. I washed my hands and splashed some water on my face to try and cool off.
As I made my way outside, I could feel the fatigue coming over me. It was mentally and physically draining to be a part of the delivery. Sitting down before collapsing I placed my head between my knees trying to compose myself. I could hear foot steps approaching and then someone kneeling down in front of me. Edward. I knew it was him without even looking. I was more aware of him than I should be.
"Bella? Are you okay?" He gently grabbed my chin raising my face up to look at him, staring at me for a long moment as if searching for something. "I…I am amazed by what you did in there. The doctor and Alice had been trying to calm her done for over an hour before you came. What you did in there was truly incredible." He paused taking a deep breath before continuing. "How did you know how to do that? I thought you studied political science at Berkley. Where did you learn to speak French? And I have heard you speak German too. How many languages do you know?" He was firing off his questions so fast my head was starting to spin.
"I don't know Edward." I whispered not able to muster up enough energy to speak any louder, darting my eyes away from the intense look he was giving me. "It just seemed so natural. I guess…I did what I thought would comfort me." I looked back at him trying to hide the guilt in my eyes from not being able to answer the rest of his questions. I went to stand and he placed a hand under my elbow helping me to my feet. Staggering, he caught me holding me, cradling me against his chest.
"I've got you Bella." He murmured bringing his hand up to wipe my sweaty hair off my forehead. "You must be exhausted. It's really late. Let me help you to your tent." He released me only to wrap his arm around my waist. I didn't resist him. I was spent and he knew it. He walked me back never saying another word. When we reached the tent he released me, said goodnight and walked away.
I fell into my bed not even climbing under the sheet. I was sweaty and dirty and exhausted and just too tired to care. Falling into a deep sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, my dreams and nightmares escaped me for once.
The next morning as soon as the first light of day peaked its way into the tent, I rolled over realizing I had not moved one inch all night. I stood and stretched my stiff body looking over at Alice noticing she was still in a deep sleep. Quietly gathering my toiletries and clothes I tiptoed out of the tent and made my way over to the showering area.
No one was there so I was relieved to have a nice hot shower to myself. As the water ran down my body it was reviving me for another day. I washed all the sweat and dirt from my hair and body as my mind wandered to Edward and I couldn't help but worry about what I was going to say if he asked me more questions. Turning the water off I grabbed my towel, trying to shake my mind from my fretting.
Once I was finished I dressed, collected my things and walked out finding Edward standing there leaning against the frame of the shower waiting on me.
"Oh", I gasped clutching my hand over my heart. "You scared me."
Pushing off the frame he straightened quickly. "I'm sorry Bella." He stammered. "I was worried about you. I just came to make sure you were alright." Looking down at his feet he shuffled them back and forth nervously. He brought his eyes back to mine and with a half smile he stammered again, "I wanted to know if you wanted to get something to eat. I know you didn't eat dinner last night. You must be hungry."
I just stared at him for a moment, my head running the gamut of my thoughts. Could I just give into him? I know I wanted too.
Could I just open my heart and my body to him? I believe that is already happened.
What would happen if I did? I would be able to feel something that I probably will never be able to feel again.
Could I just walk away from him when this was all over? I would have too.
Did I just want to give up this opportunity of being with him because I was scared? No.
There was no way I could tell him who I was, but I would just have to make it understood that once we left Africa, we would not be able to continue whatever this might turn out to be.
And so I let I begin. I had no choice really, I was drawn to him. That morning he walked with me to the tent to eat breakfast. I was surprised when he didn't sling anymore questions my way. After breakfast I went to the school for class. When lunched rolled around he was waiting for me again to walk with me to eat lunch. He went back to his research and I went back to the school. Just as soon as school was released he was waiting for me again walking me to the hospital so I could check on the mother and its baby. When I was finished we walked to the tent to eat dinner.
Everyday since has been the same. It became our routine of eating every meal together and walking back and forth to our duties. While telling me a story one day, he grabbed my hand and never let go. It felt natural my hand in his and I didn't pull away. So we added hand holding to our walking never missing a beat.
We both finished early one day and he asked if I would like to walk down to the river with him and I gladly accepted. I had been too afraid of snakes to venture off by myself. Max and Sam were too tired at the end of the day, so I didn't want to trouble them.
Walking to the river hand in hand, I would glance out of the corner of my eye at him catching him staring at me. He seemed nervous. I wasn't sure what was going on so I just kept walking. When he wanted to say something he would. I was nervous of what he could be thinking so I was prolonging the agony.
Reaching the river we found a log to sit on overlooking the running water. The water was swift and glistening where the sun was hitting it through the trees. Africa was truly beautiful. As I was watching the water pass by, I heard Edward shuffle his feet, and my nervousness returned.
He cleared his throat before he spoke. "Bella? I have to tell you something. This last month has been truly wonderful being with you." He paused taking a deep breath and exhaling before continuing. "I want to know how you feel. I want to know if you could be interested in me. Before I do anything against your wishes or offend you, I want to know how you feel about me."
What is he asking me? Does he want to know if I care for him? Does he want to know how deep my feelings run? Does he want to know if my feelings are more that just friendship? What am I going to tell him? I have to be truthful. I will not lead him on.
"Oh, Edward." I took a deep breath noisily letting it out. "This is so complicated. Not the way I feel about you, but how my life is. I do care for you Edward. I care for you so much. But you have to know, whatever happens between us…stays here. Once we leave Africa, I will no longer be able to see you. No matter how much I want you, no matter how much I care for you, I would never be able to see you again."
He moved close enough to me so that I could feel his body heat and smell him, his scent calming and inviting. "This is about your father isn't it Bella. There is something you are not telling me. Why does he have some much control over you Bella? What is it you are not telling me?" He turned me to him grasping my shoulders forcing me to look at him.
A small sob escaped my throat without my consent struggling with what I could tell him. Anything but the truth, there is just no other way I told myself. "Edward, I know you are a good man. I know that you would never hurt me. But none of that matters to my father. I have obligations Edward and I can't turn away from them. There is no other way to explain it. Whatever happens between us, will have to stay here." I whispered while tears ran down my cheeks.
Edward pulled me to him holding me tight to his chest. Feeling his heart thumping wildly, I knew mine was the same as he held me to him releasing me and grabbing my face into his hands. His thumbs wiped away my tears caressing my face gently. He brought his face close to mine feeling his hot breath blowing across my face.
Right before his lips touched mine he whispered. "I won't accept that. But I'm not going to fight you at this moment. I just want to hold you and kiss you right now. Oh, Bella." He whispered against my lips before he touched his lips to mine. Soft and gentle molding easily with my lips, I felt him open his mouth and dart his tongue out to lick my lip. I parted my lips and let my tongue met his. As our tongues touched and the kiss deepened, I trembled as he embraced me tighter.
Even though I am a Princess, I am still a woman, a twenty-two year old woman with hormones. I have been kissed before, dating a few guys in college, but none of them really held my interest. Before I went off to college, there were a few boys that I had met a state dinner or a ball. Sure I had been kissed before, but never like this.
Edward brought one hand to the small of my back pulling me closer to him than I thought possible while his other hand came up to the back of my head running his fingers into my hair. I molded my body to his and couldn't fight back the moan that escaped me.
Our kiss lasted until we both were desperate for air. He pulled away slightly bringing a hand up to cup my face. I leaned into his hand closing my eyes. "You don't know how long I have wanted to do that." He whispered.
I smiled back at him deciding if I couldn't tell him the truth about my identity, I could definitely tell him how I feel. I could at least be honest about my feelings. "I think I have wanted you to do that since the first day I met you." I whispered back.
Wrapping his arms around me, he held me close. We sat there well after the hot sun had set in the sky. Being held by Edward this way felt so right, so natural, as if we were made for each other. And although I knew that I was setting him and myself up for heartbreak, I couldn't stay away from him anymore.
Over the course of the next month, Edward and I grew even closer. We shared every free moment we had with each other, taking long walks at night after dinner, talking and laughing sharing memories of our childhood with each other. I, of course had to edit some of what I shared with him.
He talked of his college education and his years in medical school. As he talked about his research project his eyes danced with excitement. He was making breakthroughs in his research and knew that one day his work would make a difference.
One night as we sat cuddled up with each other Edward made an enticing suggestion to me.
"Bella, let's take the weekend off and see the countryside. We could take one of the cars and drive over to the wildlife reserve. There is a lodge there…we could…get a suite…if you wanted. The whole time I have been here all I have seen are camps and hospitals. I want to get away from all that for a little while. I want to get away with you, just you and me, alone, no one else." He nuzzled his face into the crook of my neck pressing his lips softly to me.
Instantly my mind went into overdrive. He wanted to go away with me. Just me and him alone. I had often thought of being able to be truly alone with him. We had kissed and held each other close, but that is as intimate as we have been. I had thought about how it would be if we could be alone. But I always would push those thoughts out of my head because I didn't see how it was possible. And now this idea of his would make it all possible.
I wanted him. There was no doubt about that. But if I was truly intimate with him, how much harder would it make it when we had to leave each other. Edward had already said that he didn't understand why we couldn't be together after Africa. He said he didn't want to fight with me over it now, but he was not going to give up.
I should have told him from the beginning. I should have just came out and said 'Edward, I am Princess Isabella, the Serene Highness of Liechtenstein, I have to go back to my castle and possibly marry someone of royal blood and even though you are the greatest man I have ever known, I cannot be with you.'
But I was too scared to tell him because if he knew the truth he would treat me differently like everyone else did when they found out that I was of royal blood. The feeling of just being a normal person, with him and being able to just be myself was wonderful. I was just Bella, not a princess destined to a life that consisted of honor and duty, just an ordinary girl who wanted to help others.
Edward took a deep shaky breath and exhaled sharply, breaking me out of my thoughts. "Bella, I'm sorry. I…that…I shouldn't have asked you. That wasn't very gentleman like was it? I just wanted to be alone with you. I'm sorry. I did not mean to offend you."
I had to say something fast before he thought I was rejecting him. "Edward, look at me. Please." He slowly raised his head to look at me, his eyes swimming with rejection. "Edward, I would love to go away with you. Nothing would please me more than to be alone with you. I am just not sure if it is possible. I would need to talk with Max and Sam first."
When I said that last part I realized that I had slipped up. I am sure that Edward was thinking why on earth I would need to ask permission from them to go away.
Edward gave me a questioning look as if he wanted to ask me, but then he seemed to think better of it. A flicker of emotions ran across his face before he smiled at me with his crooked smile. "First thing in the morning we will talk it over with the director and see if it is alright with him. Then I need to go into town and I will call the lodge to make the reservations. Are you really sure you want to go?"
I reached up and cupped his cheek running smoothing circles with my thumb. I smiled widely at him, "Of course I want to go with you Edward." He smiled back at me then grabbed my face bringing his lips to mine in a searing kiss. I was trying my best to concentrate on him, but all I could think of was what I was going to do about Max and Sam.
That night after Edward had walked me back to my tent, I slipped back out to find Max and Sam. They were playing poker with some of the other guys. When they saw my face, they knew that I needed to speak with them.
Explaining to them what Edward had asked me to do, I pleaded with them mercilessly to let me go away with Edward alone. They argued with me telling me that was not possible, there was no way they could let me out of their sight. Walking around outside the camp was one thing, but me going sixty miles away without any protection whatsoever, was something totally different.
My argument was not left on deaf ears though. Max and Sam seemed to understand that this was something that I would never be able to do again. They knew my feelings for Edward were strong, knowing that once I left here, I would probably never see him again. Finally after two hours of debating, they told me they would think about it and let me know first thing in the morning.
The next morning at breakfast, Edward could tell that I was distracted. I tried to pass if off that I was just nervous about what the director was going to say. Max and Sam walked into the tent giving me the same look that I gave them last night indicating that we needed to talk. Excusing myself, I told Edward that I would be back and made my way out of the tent to talk with them.
Max and Sam explained that though they felt like they were not doing their duty as my body guards, they were going to let me go. I had to promise them that if anything happened I was to radio the camp immediately so they could come and get me if need be. Practically knocking them over, I hugged and thanked them from the bottom of my heart.
When I entered the tent, Edward was watching me closely I'm sure wondering what had been said between the three of us. My face was almost broken from the smile I had on my face and I knew when I was close enough to him that he could see the excitement dancing in my eyes. He stood up hugging me closely not asking what Max, Sam, and I had discussed. He explained happily that he was going to make all the arrangements and all but sprinted out of the tent.
The week passed quickly and we were all set to leave. The director had given his blessing to us. He looked at me hesitantly at first, then Max and Sam talked with him and all was well.
Alice was almost as excited as I was telling me the trip would be like a honeymoon for Edward and me. She explained that we had been all through the dating process for the last month and this trip was going to be a joining of souls so to speak and after our return we would never be able to be apart from each other again. How I wished she could be right.
As we drove through the savannah, we held hands talking and enjoying each others company. The scenery was amazing and I knew I would probably never see anything like this again. We took our time driving, occasionally stopping to take pictures.
We arrived at the lodge right before lunch. Edward parked the car grabbed our bags and ran around opening the door for me, pulling me into his side wrapping an arm around my waist as we made our way inside.
Once inside the lodge, Edward got us checked into our suite. We walked to our room hand in hand smiling at each other. Edward fumbled with the key nervously before getting the door open. He motioned me inside following behind me placing the bags on the floor.
I walked to the balcony doors opening them and walking outside to see the spectacular view in front of me. Edward walked up behind me wrapping his arms around me pulling me tight against his chest. I leaned my head back against him placing my arms on his.
"It's beautiful" I whispered.
"It's nothing compared to you." He whispered back kissing lazy kisses against my neck. "Would you like to order something to eat from room service?" I nodded unable to find my voice.
Edward ordered our food while I unpacked our bags. We both flitted around the room nervous of what was to come. Once our food arrived, and we began to eat, the tension eased as we talked casually. After we were finished, Edward rolled the cart outside.
Edward closed the door, took a deep breath and turned slowly to face me. I stood in the middle of the room watching him unable to move from my place. Our eyes locked and we closed the distance to each other. Edward wrapped his arms around me, holding me close as I ran my hands up his arms and around his neck twining my fingers in his hair. Our breathing was the only sound that could be heard in the room.
Edward brought a hand up to my hair twirling a piece of it between his fingers. "I have thought of nothing more than holding you like this." He whispered. "Bella, I love you. I want to be with you. Please let me make love to you. Please. I want to show you how much I love you."
I brought my face up to look into his eyes seeing the love pouring from his eyes. "Oh, Edward. I love you too. So much. These last few months have meant more to me than you will ever know." I reached up on my toes and pressed my lips to his hoping that my kiss would show him how willing I was to take this next step with him.
We kissed passionately and gently until we both were desperate to breathe. Edward's lips moved from my lips kissing me across my cheek down to my neck as he moved one arm around my back and the other under my knees picking me up easily cradling my body to his.
Carrying me to the bed, he gently lowered me down hovering over me. "You are so beautiful Bella," he whispered lowering his lips to mine again kissing me.
We slowly undressed each other taking time to learn every inch of each others body. Our touches were slow and deliberate, anxious to show each other how much we loved one another. When all of our clothes were discarded and our bare skin touched for the first time a sensation ran through my body making all my nerve endings set on fire.
Edward easily settled himself between my legs and he asked if I was sure that this was what I wanted. I grabbed his face in my hands kissing him softly moving my hips up to meet his to show him that I wanted this just as much as he did. When he entered me we both moaned from the feeling and I knew in that instance that I would never be able to live without him.
This moment was more than just making love; it was a joining of our souls. As our bodies moved together in harmony our souls were dancing in unison. The way his body moved with mine only proved that we were meant to be together.
Together we reached our peak stilling our motions clinging to each other as if we let go, the other would be lost. Edward raised his head and looked into my eyes, "I love you Bella. I have never felt like this with anyone before. I love you so much," he whispered.
"As I love you Edward, my love," I breathed. "I will never feel like this with anyone else. There will never be anyone else."
"Never," he whispered to me rolling on his back pulling me with him. My cheek rested on his chest and Edward wrapped his arms around me holding me close to him.
When I made that statement, I was completely honest with him and myself. I would never love anyone beside Edward. I would never be with another man ever again. In no way would I ever be able feel for anyone what I felt for Edward.
Our entire weekend was spent wrapped in each others arms. We made love to each other over and over never leaving our bed other than to eat and take a shower. And even when we took a shower we were together touching and caressing one another. We were insatiable unable to keep apart.
When we arrived back at the camp everyone greeted us asking about our trip. Our smiles gave away the happiness that was not containable. Max and Sam were elated to see me, relieved that I was back, but happy that I had such a great time.
We resumed our routine prior to going away on our trip; Edward being more attentive and caring than before, if that was possible. Not long after we were back, he started hinting around about marriage. Keeping quiet, I just smiled, knowing I had no idea what I was going to say to him at this point.
Every night we would lie on a blanket in each others arms and watch the sunset unable to share the intimacy we had shared at the lodge. Edward said he would not ask me to be with him unless we could be together in a proper bed, he respected me too much. I would have been with him anywhere, it didn't matter to me at this point, and I knew that our time together was coming close to the end.
"Bella", he spoke softly as we laid together in each others arms one night, "I need to talk to you." He paused taking a deep breath before continuing, "I spoke with the head of my department yesterday. He said he is expecting me back by the end of this month. I may be able to stay another week or two tops, but after that I will have to go. I need to get my research papers back to the lab Bella. I have to leave."
I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding looking into his eyes drowning in the sadness that I saw there. "I know you have to go Edward. I understand that you have a life to go back to."
"No, Bella, you don't understand. You are my life now."
Edward sat up bringing me with him. He released me running his hands through his hair nervously.
"I will not leave Africa without knowing that one day you will be my wife. I can't live without you Bella. I know I don't have a ring and I am going about this the wrong way. But I love you Bella. I have to know that you will wait for me."
I shook my head at him as tears starting falling from my eyes.
"Edward, I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry. I should have never let it go this far. I can't marry you, my love. I will never be able to marry you."
Edward stood up and quickly started pacing in front of me. His desperation rolling off of him in waves, turning to me he gently pulled me up to face him.
"You have been hiding something from me since the start Bella. I want you to tell me now what it is. Is this about your father? Why does he have such a hold on you Bella? I'm a good man Bella. I've never been married. I would never do anything to hurt you."
I gave Edward a weak smile through my tears. There was no way to avoid this any longer. He had to know the truth.
"Edward, I have an obligation to my father that goes beyond what a normal person has. It is just not about him though; I cannot make this choice on my own. It does not matter to them if you are a good man or not, they will never allow it."
Edward was shaking his head before I could even finish.
"Bella, what do you mean. I don't understand. Why can't you make this decision on your own? Please tell me what is going on. Please."
My entire body was shaking from the sobs that I was trying to keep from escaping me. I tried to take a deep breath to calm myself but when I released it all that came out of my mouth was a strangled cry.
"Oh, Edward. My father is the reigning Prince of Liechtenstein. There is a privy council that makes the decisions for our family. Neither them nor my father will let me marry unless they are of royal blood."
Edward looked at me with questioning eyes. Emotions flickered across his face so fast I could barely comprehend them. Shock, confusion, denial, and then finally what seemed to be understanding.
"Bella…are you saying…do you mean…you're a Princess? As in your Highness?"
I nodded with a sad smile. I tried to furiously wipe the tears from eyes.
"I am the Serene Highness Princess Isabella of Liechtenstein. My father was the son of the last Prince and my mother was the Princess of France before she married my father."
Edward stood there I assume in an attempt to gain some composure. His eyes started to tear up and his mouth opened and closed several times trying to find the right words to say.
"My gosh Bella why didn't you tell me?" Sadness was thick in his voice.
I thought about that for a second. Why didn't I just tell him from the beginning? Maybe if I had, we would not be in this much pain now. I sighed heavily bringing my hands up to rub my face. I looked in his eyes and saw what I never wanted to see, heartache.
"I was afraid to tell you Edward, or anyone for that matter. I wanted you to see me as me, not a Princess. I never meant to hurt your Edward. I am so sorry," I murmured.
Faster than I thought possible Edward pulled me into his arms and crushed me to his body. My tears were flowing freely soaking his shirt. I kept repeating over and over how sorry I was.
"Shh, Bella, don't cry. I understand why you didn't tell me. I just wish you had trusted me. I love you, Bella. I love you."
Edward held me for a long time until my tears slowed and my breathing became regular again. I had no idea where we were going to go from here. Edward whispered to me as he held me.
"Bella you have to promise me something. You have to try and talk with your father. Please. Or let me try. I will do anything Bella. I want to marry you. We can work something out Bella. Please."
"Edward you don't know my father. He is bound by duty and honor and he expects nothing less of me. And besides that my mother's dying wish was for me marry someone with royal blood."
By the time I finished my voice was barely heard even though the silence of the night shrouded us. We sat there together holding on to each other like we were about to be ripped apart. In a matter of time, that is exactly what would happen.
Edward was the first to break the silence. His voiced was pained and he sounded broken and worn.
"Bella, will we ever see each other again after we leave Africa?"
I took a deep breath and exhaled softly. If I ever saw him again, I would have to hide it from my father. Edward and I would have to sneak away.
"I am not sure. We would have to be discreet. Maybe we could meet in Paris."
"I will do whatever I have to do to see you again Bella. Just say the word and I will be there."
I knew that Edward would be there for me no matter what. I hated that I was doing this to him, to us. Nothing that I thought of would help our situation.
"Bella, you have to promise me that you will at least try to talk with your father. Will you do that for me? Will you do that for us?" Edward was pleading with me to do anything to help us.
"I will try Edward. I promise I will try. I love you Edward. I am so sorry that this happened."
After that night, we were never apart. We knew our time was limited and precious. During the day Edward would stay by my side as much as he could. He was finishing up the last of his research and asked me to help him when I wasn't working at the school. We did anything to be with each other.
At night we stayed in each others arms almost until the sun rose. Edward held me to him whispering his words of love into my ear. We were not intimate, but as long as I was in his arms, I could feel his love for me.
We decided to take one more trip back to the lodge before Edward left. Max and Sam agreed without hesitation this time because they knew that Edward's and my time was nearing the end.
Edward and I made love the entire weekend. Each time that we were together I felt like his touches were reaching into my soul. We took our time as we memorized the way our bodies moved together. On the last day, after we made love, I laid in his arms and wept.
After we returned the days passed quickly and before I knew it we were riding together in the backseat of the car while Max and Sam drove Edward to the nearest airstrip. Edward held me close the entire ride and we never spoke for fear that we both would break down.
We stood holding each other when it was announced that his flight would leave in ten minutes. Edward drew me closer to him crushing my body to him. He was kissing my neck and under my ear then he started whispering to me.
"Bella, this is not goodbye. I promise I will do whatever I have to do to see you again. I will go back to Boston and finish my work and wait for you to call me. Whenever you call me, I will be there."
"Edward I love you so much. I will miss you my love. My heart, my body, and my soul are yours. They belong to you. Only you, Edward."
Edward pulled back grabbing my face with his hands so I could look into his eyes. There were unshed tears glistening making his beautiful green eyes shine in the sun.
"I love you. You are my life Bella. My heart, my body, and my soul are yours as forever. I love only you."
He placed his lips on mine kissing me passionately. As we kissed we cried and I could taste the salt of his tears mixed with mine.
"I love you, Bella," Edward whispered against my lips. "I love you with all my heart. We will be together again. I love you so much."
"I love you Edward. I will do anything to be with you again. I love you, my love."
Edward hugged me tightly one last time then placed a kiss against my forehead. He grabbed my hand and squeezed and as he walked away and our finger tips brushed together one last time. I immediately felt the loss of our connection as I watched him walk away.
When he reached the door to the plane, Edward turned to me and waved one last time placing his fingertips to his lips kissing them and pointing them toward me. I did the same and mouthed "I love you" to him and he did the same and turned and walked onto the plane.
My heart was officially crushed.
When I first discovered that I would be allowed to travel to Africa with Doctors Without Borders I was ecstatic. I had applied to go and trek with them so that I could do hands on research in Africa. DWB were allowed unrestricted access to any of the Red Cross camps across Africa and as such I would be allowed admittance with them.
I had been with them for almost a month when we arrived at a small Red Cross camp outside of Mozambique. When we arrived all the volunteers came out to greet us. During the introductions, I was introduced to one of the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen. Her name was Bella. She had the most captivating brown eyes I had ever seen and her long brown hair was braided I assume in an attempt to keep cool.
Over the course of the next few weeks I had caught myself staring at her more than once and was intrigued by ever word that left her mouth. Bella worked in the school from morning until mid afternoon and then came to the hospital to do whatever was asked of her.
Her actions spoke louder than words. She was kind and thoughtful to everyone she encountered. I had a chance one day to witness first hand just how truly wonderful she was. She had to help the doctor and nurse with the delivery of a baby because the mother was very upset. The way she instantly calmed the mother was amazing. I had never been so touched by anything in my life.
I knew from that moment on, I had to learn everything about her. At first she was hesitant and tried her best to discourage any type of relationship with me. But I wasn't going to give up so I continued to just be friendly with her and tried to find out everything I could about her.
Finally I was able to wear her down and when we shared our first kiss it was burned into my memory forever. From that moment on I knew that I was falling in love with her. We spent our days talking and laughing and our nights embracing each other and kissing.
There was a lull in the activity at the camp so I suggested to Bella that since we were not needed that I would like her to go away with me for the weekend. She looked apprehensive at first and said she would have to talk with Max and Sam. I didn't understand why she had to discuss it with them and at the time I didn't question her.
The weekend we went away was the most fantastic time I had ever had in my life. The first time we made love was more than I could have ever imagined. The way our bodies moved together and the feeling of her skin to mine was incredible. I knew then that I had definitely fallen in love with her.
We returned to the camp and spent every waking moment together we could. The more time I was with her, the more I knew that I had to have her in my life forever. There was nothing I wanted more than to make Bella my wife.
Nothing in my life could have prepared me for what happened when I told her of my intentions. Nothing. As I attempted to talk with her she started to cry and sob and I knew something was wrong. I knew there was something that she had kept from me and I never pushed it because she said she would tell me before we left Africa. Well my time was almost up and I wanted to know that she would be my wife one day.
What she told me was not at all what I imagined. I knew that her father expected a lot from her in our previous conversations. I knew that she came from money even though she never mentioned it all. But when she told me she was a Princess of some small country in Europe I was astonished. That was not what I expected at all.
Devastation was clearly running through my body reaching out until it had consumed every fiber of my being. The woman I had fallen in love with, the woman that I had bared my soul to, given my heart to was a Princess.
I begged her to do anything so that we could be together and she promised that she would. She said that we might be able to meet discreetly once she returned but never mentioned if we would ever be able to see each other again after that. As she quietly explained everything to me I was scared that once I left Africa that I would never see her again. That night I held her to me with such force I was afraid that I would crush her but she held me back just as tight.
Before I left we took another trip back to the lodge we had stayed at before. I spent the entire time memorizing every single curve of her body. We made love with untamed passion as much as our bodies allowed. And after the last time we made love Bella wept in my arms and I could do nothing but weep with her.
The time came for me to go back to Boston and as we held each other my heart was slowly breaking inside knowing that I would be apart from her for God knows how long. I wasn't sure if I would ever see Bella again and the thought made me sick to my core. We held each other close whispering our love to one another while Bella clung to me crying. She told me her heart belonged to me and I swore the same oath to her. When I let her go to get on the plane the loss of contact between our skin was felt deep within me and I wasn't sure how I would survive.
When I arrived home, I instantly threw myself into my work so that I would not fall apart from thinking about Bella. And although my work did distract me, I could never stop thinking of her. Everything I did would remind me of her and my body would ache to have her by my side. My thoughts also were running wild with worry for her. I knew she had Max and Sam, but I still felt uneasy knowing what I know now. If anyone found out who she was, there would be no telling what would happen to her.
A month passed before I realized because time meant nothing to me without Bella. One sleepless night I was watching CNN on television and there was breaking news of an uprising between two warring factions in Africa. I immediately became scared and worried knowing there was no one to call and no way of finding out if she was okay.
All night I watched silently as the story unfolded in front of me. By morning light I was pacing around my apartment consumed with fear. I almost jumped out of my skin when the phone rang. Running to it I snatched it off the receiver answering quickly praying against all hope that it would be Bella or some news about her.
"Hello?" I rushed out breathlessly from running to the phone.
"Edward. Edward can you hear me," I was rewarded with the only sound that I wanted to hear at that moment. Bella's voice.
"Oh, Bella. Where are you sweetheart? Are you alright? I have been worried sick. CNN is reporting everything that is happening over there. Please tell me you are alright."
I became instantly alert when I could hear Bella crying on the other end. She was nearly sobbing when she answered me.
"Edward it was awful. One of the camp members went to the neighboring village to check on a patient, when they did not return there was a search party sent out looking for them and they were found dead. Max and Sam packed everything and we left as soon as we could. Right now I am in France about to board a plane for home."
"Oh, thank God Bella. Thank God you are safe. I am so sorry you had to go through all of that. I am so thankful that Max and Sam got you out of there. I love you Bella. I have missed you so much."
"I love you too, Edward. I have missed you. I feel like I can't breathe without you. I cannot wait to see you. As soon as I get home, I will work something out so that I can meet you, my love."
I could hear announcements being made in the background then Max telling Bella it was time for them to catch their next flight. Bella gave me all of her phone numbers and her email address and promised that we would talk with each other everyday.
"I love you, Edward," she breathed into the phone, "I will call you as soon as I can."
"I love you, Bella. I will be waiting for your call." And with that we ended the call. We never said goodbye to one another with fear that it could be our last.
For the next couple of weeks, I talked with Bella almost morning and night. Her father had been busy since she had been home and had not had a chance to talk with him about us. She explained to me she had to approach him at the right time, and now was not the time. Her father was working with the United Nations on a pressing matter and would have to go to Geneva the next week.
"Edward can you come to Paris next week to meet me? We will have to get separate rooms for appearances, but you can stay in my suite. Please tell me you can come and see me, my love." I could hear the pleading in her voice.
"I would love nothing more than to see you. Just tell me when and where and I will be there." Honestly replying back, nothing would keep me away from her.
Arrangements were made to meet at a hotel in Paris for the weekend. I was hard pressed to contain my excitement on the plane ride there. I arrived at the hotel before she did and waited with baited breathe for her to call me.
Bella rang my room to let me know she was there and I all but sprinted to her door. When she opened the door I was greeted with the most beautiful human being I had ever seen. She was in a dress and high heels, nothing like the khaki clothes and boots she wore in Africa. Her hair was hanging in curls around her shoulders and her barely there make up and glossed lips were begging to be kissed.
I immediately pulled her into my arms inhaling deeply her scent that was overpowering my senses. Bella molded her body to mine sighing with pleasure just from the embrace we were sharing. I moved my mouth to hers to kiss her, our lips moving softly against each other intensifying to eagerness and lust.
Our lips parted as we gasped for air when breathing became a necessity. I showered Bella with kisses across her face and neck while she whispered my name over and over. I had every intention of taking Bella out to diner on a proper date, but when I felt her body in my arms all sense of logic left me.
As I removed her clothes, I placed feather like kisses on each part of her creamy white skin that was revealed to me. I darted my tongue out to taste her and was rewarded with the sweetness that was Bella.
Bella unbuttoned my shirt sliding it over my shoulders while her fingers traced across my skin leaving my skin tingling. She placed a lingering kiss on top of my heart before reaching her arms up around my neck pulling me in for a burning kiss.
"Edward, please, make love to me. I need you." She begged pulling me closer than I thought possible with her small frame.
I could not deny her anything. Especially like this. "Anything you want Bella. I will do anything for you."
I placed her on the bed laying my body fully on hers. I had been lost without her body this close to mine. Her body felt as if it was created for me and me alone and to feel her underneath me again like this only proved this to me. I reached between us pulling her legs apart planting them on each side of my hips. Positioning myself to settle between her legs, her warmth was enticing me and pulling me in. Once I penetrated her my body was overcome with passion holding her close as possible while I moved in and out slowly reveling in her touches. Bella moved with me bringing her body up to meet mine making soft moans and whispering her love to me over and over again.
Our movements increased bringing our lovemaking to a climax causing Bella and I to reach our highs together. Bella gripped me tightly holding on while her body shuddered beneath me. Once our breathing calmed I rolled to my side bringing Bella with me. I encircled my arms around her as she laid her head on my chest over my heart.
"I missed this sound," she whispered in the dark, "your heart beating in rhythm with mine after we made love. There is no sweeter sound than that to my ears, other than your voice when you tell me you love me. I missed you, my love."
"And I missed you Bella. I have been lost without you. I love you." I whispered back tracing smoothing circles across her skin.
We laid there in each others arms until our bellies growled in protest. Dragging ourselves out of bed we showered together washing and cleansing each others bodies which led to us making love again.
When we finally left the room, Max and Sam were waiting on us. They both greeted me cordially as we shook hands. Bella and I walked around hand in hand on our first real date. We dined by candlelight side by side at a small table with a view of the Eiffel Tower in the background.
We never left the room for the rest of the weekend. This was the first time we had been together since Africa and not knowing what our future held, we did not want to take this time for granted. When we weren't in each others arms, we were making love. Not one moment was lost. I could not stop from touching her, caressing her, loving her with all my heart.
On the last day, waking up in each others arms, we held each other close tenderly touching. We made love gently, lovingly for the last time and when we were finished Bella cried while lying in my arms. After calming Bella down, we showered together allowing the hot water to wash away our tension, and we made love again.
Once our bags were packed, we walked solemnly to the car, settling in to make our way to the airport. The ride was long, giving us time to hold each other one last time while whispering our love in each others ear. We held hands walking through the airport to our gates, and once we reached Bella's gate she turned to me with tears streaking down her face.
"I will miss you, my love. Somehow or someway we will be together. I believe that with all my heart." Bella fisted her fingers into my shirt pulling me to her. "I love you Edward. Never forget that." She reached up on her tiptoes, kissing me softly, and then lowered herself back to the ground.
I grabbed her hand bringing it to my lips kissing it delicately. "I love you, Bella. I too believe we will be together one day. Until then, my heart will be with you."
Bella nodded, tucked her head turning to Max and Sam and walked to the plane. I stood there watching her as she walked away knowing that my heart was going with her.
After our time in Paris, life seemed to stand still. In the weeks following my trip, my research had kept me busy finishing the last details before turning the paperwork over to the head of my department at Harvard. Now that my part of the research was complete, I had nothing but time on my hands.
Bella and I talked everyday, sometime twice a day depending on her schedule. She explained to me that her fathers speech at the UN Council while well received by most nations, others were not thrilled on his views. Because of this, security had been tightened around the palace, and Bella was saddened because she knew that it would be harder for her to get away to meet me again anytime soon.
Months had passed since we had met in Paris, and as each day passed, that time began to seem like a dream. I felt empty inside, knowing my heart was thousands of miles away with my one and only love.
Late one night while lying awake, I was startled by my cell phone ringing. Reaching over to grab the phone I glanced at the clock seeing that it was almost three in the morning. Answering the phone I immediately tensed when I heard Bella crying on the other end.
"Bella, is that you. What's wrong? Why are you crying?" I sat up in bed turning on the light bringing myself to her full attention.
"Their dead, Edward." She said sobbing into the phone gasping for air. "My father is dead. My brother convinced him to go for a ride in his new car and when he started the car it exploded. I was standing right there when it happened."
"Oh, Bella, I'm so sorry. Are you okay? Are you hurt?" I was frantic with worry. I knew her father's speech had made some people angry, but I never dreamed something like this would happen.
"I was not hurt Edward. But there is something else I have to tell you. The Privy Council approached me this morning and asked me to step into my father's place since I am the next in line of succession."
I released a breath I didn't know I was holding before asking her exactly what that meant.
Bella took a deep breath exhaling sharply before she answered. "It means Edward, that I will be Queen." There was a long pause before she continued. "The Privy Council will hold a private ceremony tonight crowning me as Queen of Lichtenstein. They do not want to wait considering what has happened."
I had no doubt about Bella ruling her country, only what this meant for our future. I knew that I had to at least try and ease her worries. "Don't worry Bella. You will be an amazing Queen." I responded truthfully because knowing Bella and what kind of person she was at heart.
"I am scared Edward. My only family was just killed, I have to help plan their funeral, and now I will have to run an entire country. I am not sure if I am strong enough for all of this." Her voice was trembling as she spoke.
"Don't be scared. You can do it and you will have people to help you." I sighed running my hands through my hair wishing that I could be there with her to just hold and comfort her. "I wish I was there with you."
"I wish you were here too, my love. I would love nothing more than to see you and feel your arms around me." Bella paused for a moment while someone else was talking to her. "Edward, I have to go. The Prime Minister needs to speak with me. I am sorry, my love. I love you and I will call you soon."
All the news networks were broadcasting the car explosion in great detail. The fact that Bella's father was a Prince and given his recent speech at the UN had everyone speculating foul play. Pictures of her father and brother were shown along with the picture of the explosion, but thankfully none were shown of Bella.
Bella informed me about the funeral and when it would take place. Extra security was being taken not only at the palace, but also during the funeral. Since there would be many royal families and members of the parliament there to pay their respects, no chances were being taken.
Scenes from the funeral were played on the same news networks that had shown the explosion. I was grateful that no up close pictures were taken of Bella, not only for her safety, but she did not deserve to have her grief plastered out there for the whole world to see.
Christmas was coming and I was worried about Bella. In the last few weeks when I talked with her, I could sense that Bella was lonely. Even though she was surrounded by body guards, assistants, and members of parliament at all times, none of them she considered someone she could openly talk to.
Our conversations had grown longer and more frequent as Bella confided in me many intricate details of the administration of her country. She said that she trusted the people that were constantly at her side, but she wanted to ask me what I thought about everything because she trusted my judgment and opinion.
Just a few days before Christmas, I asked Bella what she was going to do for the holidays. She informed me that she had no plans other than going to Christmas mass, stating that it really didn't feel like Christmas to her anyway because she had no family to share it with and I was so far away.
Closing my cell phone after talking with Bella, I knew what I had to do. There was no way I was going to let Bella be alone for Christmas. Even if all I could do was go and sit in a church with her and thousands of others during mass, I wanted her to know that she was not alone. I flipped my phone open to call and make travel arrangements and started to pack. I was going to Liechtenstein.
The flight was leaving the day before Christmas Eve and with the length of the flight and the time difference, I would be arriving just hours before mass started. During my flight I was anxious and nervous, but knowing that I was going to be close to Bella soon eased my anxiety. Going through customs was no problem and I easily rented a car making sure to get directions to my hotel.
Arriving at the hotel, I checked in, then made my way to my room so that I could freshen up. I didn't have but a few hours to make it to the church for the Christmas Eve mass. The hot water of the shower eased my tense muscles and allowed me to calm myself. I shaved quickly, got dressed, and then made my way out of my room down to my car.
Finding the church was not a problem with the directions the concierge had given me. I parked my car and then made my way into the church. Checking my watch, I noticed there was only fifteen minutes left before mass started. Once inside, I looked around trying to find a seat that I thought would be close to where Bella would be sitting. There were pews at the front of the sanctuary that had been marked reserved, so I sat in a pew directly behind them. Now all I had to do was wait.
Moments later, a hush settled across the church and I knew she had arrived. I glanced back to see if I could see her and when I saw her I gasped at the sight of her. She was dressed in black with a thin black lace veil covering her face. She was stunning. Max and Sam were flanking her sides as she held her head high gracefully making her way up to the front pews.
Bella sat directly in front of me with Max and Sam sitting on either side of her. Just as she settled in her seat, the priest walked out to the alter starting the mass. During the mass, occasionally I would hear Bella sniffle and see her wipe her tears with a handkerchief.
The mass finished and people started standing so they could make their way up to light a candle. Bella stood up in front of me and turned to make her way out of the pew and when she did she looked back and finally saw me there. When our eyes met I heard Bella gasp and I watched as a range of emotions flickered across her face, surprise, and delight and finally love.
Bella grabbed Max's arm and he leaned toward her and she whispered in his ear and then his eyes turned to me. A smile graced his face and he turned back to Bella as she spoke to him again, he then nodded and made his way out of the pew. Bella turned back to me smiling nodding her head slightly at me and followed Max out of the pew and up to the alter.
After Bella lit her candle, she made her way to the entrance of the church stopping to greet people as they left. Falling into line, I waited for my turn so I could at least say a few words to her. When I finally made my way in front of Bella and looked down at her, it took my breath away. Her face was still covered with the veil, but underneath I could see that she was smiling broadly with tears running down her face.
She beamed and then slightly leaned towards me and whispered quietly so no one else could hear her. Begging me her words were quiet but urgent. "Edward, drive your car behind the church and meet Max. He will drive you home."
Confusion coursed through me as I stared at her incredulously. I could not believe what she was saying. Sensing my uncertainty her eyes pleaded with me as she begged me again.
"Please Edward, go to Max. He will bring you to me, my love. Go!" She whispered letting go of my hands and turned her head to the next person behind me. I took that as my sign to leave and quickly made my way to my car. Once inside my car, I inhaled deeply calming myself before starting my car and driving behind the church.
As I pulled around behind the church, I could see Max standing against the wall. Stopping the car, I got out and then walked over to the passenger side settling myself in the seat. I was not opposed to letting Max drive if he was taking me to Bella. Max got in strapping his seatbelt on nodding at me with a smile on his face.
Max started the car and then drove off. "Max, where are we going? Are you taking me to Bella?" I stammered nervously clicking my seatbelt into place looking to Max for my answers.
Max's eyes never left the road but I could see his mouth turn up into a smile. "We are going to the palace Edward. Yes I am taking you to the Princess."
I let a breath out I didn't know I was holding and relaxed. I was going to Bella. That was all I needed to know. "Thank you, Max. I could never thank you enough."
"There is no need to thank me, sir." Max replied coolly with a smile still playing on his lips.
"Please, call me Edward." I stated as we then rode in comfortable silence the rest of the ride through the city making our way towards the palace. In the distance I could see the palace coming into view. We drove past the main gate around the grounds to another entrance at the side wall. Max pulled up to the guard shack slowly as the guard on duty stepped out of the shack to greet us. Once the guard realized it was Max, they exchanged a few words and waved us through.
Max pulled my car up to the garage door placing it in park and shutting off the engine. He removed the keys from the ignition exiting the vehicle handing them over to an attendant.
Exiting the vehicle and I followed him inside where he led me through the castle to what looked like a small apartment. Max waved me inside closing the door behind him.
"This is Princess Isabella's apartment. Please stay here until she arrives. She will be here shortly." Max smiled, then turned on his heels slipping out the door and closed it quickly behind him.
Standing in Bella's room her scent assaulted my senses. My heart started hammering in my chest as I glanced around letting the full force of knowing where I was overtake me. I was here. I was going to see Bella. I was going to hold Bella.
A few moments later, the door swung open quickly and before I knew what was happening Bella jumped into my arms. She reached her arms around my neck pulling me close nuzzling her face into my neck. I tightened my embrace around her small body lifting her and swinging her around the room. Bella giggled breathlessly as she showered kisses along my face.
Slowly I set her down on her feet as I brought my hands up to cup her face. I pulled her face gently to my lips whispering to her before our lips met. "I have missed you so much. I love you," I murmured before I kissed her deeply with no restraint.
Intensely Bella kissed me back running her hands around my neck pulling me closer to her. We kissed until we were breathless pulling away looking into each others eyes.
"Edward, my love. I love you so much. I can't believe you are here. When I saw you, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me."
"I couldn't let you be alone for Christmas, I had to see you, I had to let you know that you were not alone."
"Oh, Edward. You don't know how happy you have made me. I have wonderful news for you. After the funeral, I spoke with the Privy Council and asked them if they would considering letting us get married." She paused for a moment taking a deep breath before continuing. "The Prime Minister called me this morning and said they saw no reason to object. Edward do you know what this means?" She inquired as she brought her hands down to grip my shoulders.
My mind was racing with anticipation. "Does this mean we can be married?"
"Yes, my love, that is exactly what that means."
As Bella and I held each other, I thought of how we were living our own little fairytale. We had met in the hot African sun, falling in love and working against all odds to be together. And we were truly going to have our happily ever after.
AN: I am not sure I did this justice. I tried to follow the story line as much as I could. I know it is really long, but I wanted you to really see how things progressed for them. The principal idea of the Princess and the Doctor are Danielle Steele's. The characters are Stephanie Myers. The words are mine. I hoped you enjoyed it!
Please read and review!