Well, I admit to being a little partial to the "Please, Edward, please..." scene from the last book.


Patient, almost patronizing, he repeated his instructions. "Don't move. Stay as you are..."

He was standing right behind me, so close that I thought I felt the heat of his body. So close that my rational mind gradually started to shut down. His breath tickled the nape of my neck and raised pimples up and down my arms, making me shudder.

I sensed him move and heard a faint rustle of fabric but I stayed as he requested, with my back at him, facing the front door.

"I like your hair up like this," he said after a pause, in gentle tones that slid down my spine, arousing and soothing, just like his hands moving over my shoulders and down my arms. "It makes a delightful combination of exposure and vulnerability," he said, marking the beginning of our delicate and difficult dance, the kind that could not be rehearsed or scripted.

"Edward, what are you doing?"

The question was futile for a number of reasons, but I had to be consistent with my role.

"Nothing special, my dear. Only that it's high time to satisfy those seeking special after-dinner delights."

I smiled to myself; what it was desired and needed hereinafter was a dish best served in bed, not in a hallway. "Oh, but any place would do," I conceded naughtily.

His fingers were stroking my neck where his breath had warmed my skin, the touch so tender it was almost reverent. I thought of the door. Closed but not locked. A houseful of guests just having departed...

"Edward, somebody may return..."

His mouth replaced his fingers and he began to kiss me, moving from my jaw line down my neck with an almost agonizing slowness, his hot tongue licking softly where the pulse was throbbing closest to the skin.

"Let me worry about that."

He sounded a bit displeased at the interruption. Somehow, I managed another complaint, while working hard to conceal my delight.

"They're not even in the parking lot yet..."

"Dismiss all thought of the matter, Isabella!" His stern tone sent a tremor of excitement running through my body. "I believe a man can do as he desires with his wife, in his house, provided he doesn't annoy the neighbors, of course. You are my wife, remember?"

Settling at the base of my throat, he bit me lightly and I jolted, a faint gasp escaping my lips. His kiss increased in pressure, suckling, knowing he would leave a mark. Intending to leave a mark.

"It's not unreasonable for me to wish to be the man in my own home, now, is it?"

"No..."

"So will you stop questioning my status as a man in control, having the right to do what he wants on his property, with his property?"

His breath on my neck, just at the top of my spine, made me almost incapable of answering his question. "How does he know that the skin of the neck is connected to the sex so closely, that just a brief caress will make a woman wet?"

I breathed.

"I will..."

"Good." His tone implied that further argument on the subject would have been futile, anyway. "I must admit I quite enjoy Alice's choice as your outfit for tonight..." His voice had dropped to a pleasant rumble resonating through the wall of his chest. "So sublimely subtle, reflecting exquisite touch. Remind me to compliment her later on her sartorial taste."

In my view, the dress was far from subtle, but I found I was strangely disinclined to sustain my opinion for the moment. His fingers at the moment were caressing deftly the depression between my collarbones, feeling for my pulse that accelerated under his touch.

"Why?" I inquired smiling, both pleased and amused by his surprising admission. "I suspect a very...earthly reason."

Leaning closer, he whispered into the layers of my hair:

"It featured a very powerful, subliminal statement of femininity..." Then again, a chant: "No bra..."

"Oh..."

"An artful exhibition that has been most terribly distracting. All evening long, I could look at nothing but your breasts, swaying, alluring, beckoning to me. Such a delicate, intimate promise..." he further clarified the matters, letting his fingers run along my nape down my spine.

"It was hard to get through dinner with guests without being sidetracked by the...improper thoughts that particular sight unavoidably provoked," he whispered, his lips close to my ear.

Everywhere his lightly trailing fingers went, they left behind aroused nerve endings pleading for more. He was now caressing slowly, with feather-like touches the sides of my ribcage over the fabric of the dress.

"You seemed unaffected to me... perfectly in control of yourself, as usual," I finally managed to say, leaning a little back into him.

He carefully slid his hands up my ribcage, stopping just under my breasts. Those light, elusive touches on my body had a softer and more seductive quality than an overt, unabashed groping. My breasts began to throb and my back arched involuntarily, offering them for more but he avoided touching me more significantly.

"A man can have calm control over himself in general, but still be able to display his passion when appropriate. I'm sure there's no real need for me to remind you the truism about the appearances that can be deceiving... although I don't intend to lose that self-control anytime soon."

His tone was so calm and even that I listened to it first, rather than to the actual words. I was too absorbed in savoring the delicious tingle his fingertips produced at the under side of my breasts. Abruptly, what he had just said downed on me. I swallowed a gasp and asked in a rush, more than just alarmed.

"I hope withholding sex isn't the punishment you have in mind for me, Edward, because that would be awfully cruel of you!"

He laughed lightly.

"No, love. Not sex."

I exhaled, immensely relieved and relaxed again under his touch.

He brushed burning lips across my ear and breathed into it.

"Just my cock."

"You...what?!"

"I am temporarily depriving you of my penis, Bella," he explained with dead calm as he brushed his lips against the back of my shoulder.

"You can't possibly be serious!"

I fidgeted, enraged and bewildered, trying to turn around but he wrapped his arms around my waist, his deadly grip keeping me still.

"I said not to turn around!" he said harshly and his hot breath stirred over the fine hairs on the back of my neck, making me shiver again.

"You have to be fucking kidding me!"

"Language, Isabella."

"This is a gratuitous and mean exercise of control and dominance!"

"Fighting my decision will only add to your sentence, love," he informed me imperturbably and his tone tolerated no contradiction. I exhaled audibly in frustration.

"For how long?" I managed to stammer out.

"That depends on how pleased I am with you," he answered with pedantic superiority. A wicked nip of his teeth against my shoulder followed, then a slow, erotic lick over the mark he had left on the flesh between my neck and shoulder a moment before.

I nearly moaned but refrained in time. I had a battle to fight. Although the fight was to be conducted on his terms, I believed I still had some chances.

"Many things can be excused to those who repent. I am extremely remorseful for what I've done...and in the future I'll be very-very good..."

He chuckled at my eagerness, low and rumbling like a lion. In my haste, I had overbid my own offer much too quickly.

"Now, don't be sad..." he falsely consoled me. "There's so much more to sex then simply the act. From the moment the evening started, we began our lovemaking. Didn't you feel it? My eyes on you...my words in your ear… I know you're feeling it now. I can sense it in the way your body heats under my hand."

To fight him, knowing my strength and self-control to be less than his, was to invite defeat; a denouement foretold from the beginning. Nevertheless, I welcomed the prospect and enjoyed the thrill of being mentally and physically overcome. Deep inside, I loved being vulnerable to my man. There was something primal, overwhelming and intensely arousing in being defeated in advance by his masculine power.

Still, I needed to be a worthy opponent. I would not surrender without resistance. Now, where was the fun in that? Who values an easy victory?

It was the electricity in the game that was exciting, the measuring of will power, the struggle to give in or not, the need to test and fight in spite of the certain knowledge that paradoxically, victory was not really possible except through surrender.

I recalled the games we'd played in the past, their main rationale being his belief that the buildup of passion, although maddening and frustrating, was as delectable as the act itself. I agreed though; teasing was a delicious erotic play and the best form of flirting. It was a subtle battle over power that led us into greater intimacy, the dynamics of our interaction infused, absolutely saturated with sexual tension. I too, savored the anticipation even if it drove me insane. I couldn't say I didn't enjoy it, the frustration, the creativity. Followed by the deep, ardent fucking.

What turned me on hugely was his struggle to keep himself focused and in control at the same time as he coaxed me to higher and higher peaks of arousal. How could he do that and manage himself at the same time was beyond my power of comprehension.

I remembered how he teased me until the scorching desire threatened to boil my blood; how he used his male attributes, his appeal to raise and maintain in me an inescapable need, which only had to be surmounted; how I always ended whimpering helplessly and pleading for him to fuck me.

It would be definitely unbecoming to beg so early in the evening, though; I forced my mind back to the battlefield.

"I have been thinking of nothing but for quite a while..." I said quietly, in all honest candor.

He laughed, a bit too sharply.

"You don't believe me?"

"Oh, not for a moment did I think your confession insincere. You will have my cock inside you, as you desire, my greedy Bella. Soon. But not tonight."

"I really can't see the benefit of it!" I riposted in fresh, genuine infuriation.

"I would've thought that being punished excludes the concept of having benefits."

I groaned in exasperation. "Edward, why are you doing this to me? To us? After all this time... And how about you?!... Wouldn't that be a punishment for you at least as much as it is for me? I can feel how hard you are..." I said, intently brushing my ass against the front of his pants.

"I can wait, my dear," he said with a voice so patient and controlled, it sent shivers racing down my spine. "And I think I'll be the winner regardless!"

My breath caught as he flicked his hot tongue around my earlobe, slow, tantalizing.

"My concern is for your arousal and pleasure but it is my own, deeply selfish pleasure that drives that concern. I trust I am able to bring you to pleasure in other ways as well and I'll be immensely entertained... and fully satisfied with the exquisite reward of seeing you... feeling you...making you...come."

I knew he meant it. Treacherous longing started to spread in my body, as if his words were a sweet poison, intoxicating, addictive. I sighed, whined a little.

"Sooner or later, you will become dissatisfied in that barren, abstemious wasteland in which you're isolating yourself..."

"A man taking-but-not-quite-taking plays on the edges of his own needs and resistances, the just barely under control lack of control. Erotic denial is teasing in its purest form and it certainly affords the most exquisite pleasures for a man. In our case, it also serves my purpose of punishing you for your recent lapses in judgment."

"Your self-control is unnatural, Edward! Are you sure you are even human?"

He stilled for a second, his lips wet on my throat.

"Stop complaining or I'll be even more drastic!" he threatened in the silkiest voice. "Is that what you want?"

Once he so wickedly asserted himself, I temporarily lost all desire to be combative. I knew he manipulated me, at times more than I cared to admit, but I wondered if he realized that I knew how much, how extended his influence was. Despite that, I never felt adversely affected or taken advantage of. He was a bright man.

"No..." I breathed.

"Good. I thought so."

I felt his hands trailing down my dress. I tried to peek at him.

"Be still, I said!"

The harsh command froze me.

He clutched the heavy material and with one determined, forceful motion, tore the skirt from the hem almost up to the waist, the side seam giving in between his strong fists. The sound of the fabric ripping startled me and made me giddy at the same time.

"Now, that's what I call a stunning gown..." His words were almost growled.

"Alice will kill you for this..." I said, trying very hard not to smile and failing successfully.

"No, she won't. I rather suspect she'll approve."

He dropped to his knees behind me and I felt his hands at my ankles.

"You can forego the shoes. From the fine tremor of your legs, I'm guessing they're bothering you," he noticed thoughtfully, slipping the straps of my shoes over my heels so they came off. He slid his hands up my calves beneath the skirt, then I felt them insinuating between my knees. I heard his murmured agreement when his hand met with the top of my stockings. Slowly, carefully, he pulled the panties down my legs then around my ankles and off my feet.

"Tearing panties...now that's a waste. They can be put to much better use..."

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him slipping the delicate garment into his left pocket as he stood up.

"A treat for later," he murmured, his lips gently brushing a very sensitive place behind my ear.

"Yes, Edward, I can see so clearly now how different tearing lingerie is from ripping other pieces of clothing, like evening gowns, for instance."

"There's a world of difference, love," he rumbled into my ear from behind. "I imagine that your breasts are tender by now? Sensitive? Heavy? Do they ache to be touched?"

My breasts throbbed in response to his sly questions, warm and heavy, as if they were yearning for space. He adeptly reached his cupped hand into the deep neckline of my gown and exposed my left breast, bringing it into the open air; the cool of the room quickly made the bare nipple harden. He circled the areola with his index, a light caress I barely felt. There was nothing urgent or insistent in that touch.

"This also will be a treat for later, love. Having too much fine food at once can make one insensitive to the more refined details. Especially after a long fasting."

I felt his hands stroking from the curve of my breast to my waist, then gliding along the rounded contour of my hip. His fingers continued their downward path and crept between the newly achieved side slit of my skirt. In next to no time, they were fluttering along my upper thigh, caressing the band of naked skin uncovered by my stockings.

I breathed out his name. He cupped my inner thigh.

"I can feel your heat...," he crooned as his hand drew closer and closer to the saturated folds of my sex.

"You are so wet, Bella... Is this for me?"

The velvet timbre of his voice caressed my ear and my mind's eye. So many implied promises... My breath began to come faster.

"I don't hear your answer, Isabella. This is only for me, isn't it?"

"For you and because of you..."

"Did you engage in any guilty pleasures lately?"

"What...what do you mean?"

"Did you touch yourself while I was away?"

My breathing stopped.

"Now, don't be coy, Mrs. Cullen. Come on... Divulge secrets...unfold confessions... Unbind mysteries..."

He punctuated each word with light, agonizing strokes of my outer lips.

"Tell me now and I'll know if you lie!"

"Yes." I said the single word steadily, not even thinking of denying.

"Naughty Bella..." his voice barely there. "How many times?"

"Just once..."

"I don't believe you!" he said, retrieving his hand from where it had been wandering so wonderfully.

"No, please, this is the truth..."

"Are you sure?!" he teased some more.

"Yes..."

His wicked fingers mercifully returned and continued their sensuous exploration. I moaned my gratitude and he chuckled against my ear.

"When exactly?"

"In Sweden..."

"I'm afraid I need you to be more specific than that."

"The night you called me."

"Oh, yes... I remember you sounded like you were in a hedonistic mood that night... And how was it?"

It was so typical for him to torment me at the same time as he inflamed me. Curious how things can work on you even when you recognize them.

"Please, Edward, do you really need specifics?! I'm a shy girl; I need to be slowly unwrapped not insistently torn open."

He chuckled, deeply amused.

"Answer the question, Isabella, or I'll stop right now and won't finish."

"It wasn't as productive as it could have been," I replied ambiguously, the breath tight in my throat.

"Oh, and so the discussion goes back to my cock, isn't it?" he laughed hoarsely.

As usual, he was very quick to slice to the point and keep things on track. The frustration provoked by his unusual form of punishment added to my arousal but also to my bravery.

"Something like that...and I don't see why not. Everything a woman values most in life can be directly attributed to her husband's penis. Mankind would have long ago perished without the achievements, creations, and pregnancies driven by the cock-generated impulses. To deny, evade, or seek to rewrite male nature, male predation, male selfishness is irrational. That's why I don't get you... If you deny yourself, strangling your own needs, then you're cutting yourself off from the very source of your...male power."

I felt him laugh more than heard it.

"You're digressing towards a tangent that is immaterial to our discussion. This is not about me, love, it's about you. And on a side note, I don't remember saying anything about denying myself."

He was still tracing the soft contours of my pulsating, steaming folds.

My discourse had sounded a bit strangled to my own ears, the hitches in it more than noticeable. I expelled my next breath slowly to disguise a moan and I tried to ignore what he was doing to me and focus on my speech instead. Sometimes, men just get blinded when a woman adds a creamy layer of butter on their ego. That was why I considered my very eloquent diatribe still incomplete, so I expanded on it, emboldened by his amusement.

"This is not a laughing matter. The men should be aware that women are very different creatures; a woman can experience the act of being conquered and fucked by her man as not only intensely pleasurable, but also deeply fulfilling, ennobling even. It can be essential to her sensitivity that thus, her womanhood is fully expressed and honored."

He laughed again with obvious satisfaction, a throaty chuckle, sensuous and warm that washed over my womb like a wave of heat.

"This is, of course, gratifying to hear. Are you by any chance trying to seduce me by engaging in abstract discussions of sexuality?"

I needed to tread more carefully. Too much forwardness on my part would only remind him of his game, and that would only prolong the wait.

"Would you rather I denied it?"

"Oh, Isabella, you do know how to flatter a man. It is very pleasing to hear you so forthright and I certainly agree that this is the right path to attaining my full focus, attention, and desire. Just be sure you're prepared for what might come out of statements like that."

"How pleasing?" I asked, sounding breathless.

"You would like me to show you, wouldn't you?" His deep voice vibrated against my ear with a smile.

"Very much, yes..." I admitted, almost imperceptibly.

He slid his hand lower between my legs and a moist sigh escaped me when he opened my damp inner lips, pressing down tenderly.

"Here?" he asked, pushing just the pad of his finger inside me. I swallowed a groan and widened my stance slightly to give him better access.

"Yes," I whispered ardently. I shivered and clenched my muscles around it, an attempt to draw it deeper inside.

"Imagine my finger to be my cock. Can you do that?" he devilishly asked, dipping his fingertip just a little further.

My breaths deepened and the only response I could manage was a whimper.

"Can you feel this?"

Carefully, gradually, he slipped one long finger into my hot sheath. I gasped and writhed, pleasure and need flaring.

"Would normally my cock be doing this to you?"

Another dip, another gasp. I curved my spine in delight, leaning back, swaying my hips, rubbing my bare shoulders against his shirtfront.

"Yes."

"Do you like it?"

Oh, the man and his million questions!

"Was that a yes or a no, Bella? I couldn't quite understand that sound."

"Yes." All I could do was to whimper the word.

"Do you, now…" he said thickly.

"You know I do."

"You'll like it better when I'm inside you," his honey-sweet voice poured smoothly in my ear, making my knees weaken. His fingers returned to probing tantalizingly at the entrance to my body with fleeting touches, fingertips barely entering. I moaned and melted back into him.

"Please, deeper..."

"I'll go deeper if you let me hear how much you like it."

A smile curled my lips, impulsive. If there was something Edward was vulnerable to, this was it. My moans of pleasure. Having his attention distracted would work to my advantage. Maybe I was going to win for once at his game.

I leaned into his body until I was wholly dependent on his support of me. His scented cheekbone slicked on mine as he nuzzled my neck. I let my head fall back, turning my face up to his, asking for his lips. I moaned into his mouth, and he reacted, as sharp fingers dug into my trembling thigh, pulling me closer onto him. I felt his erection, that rigid column of hot flesh pressing hard into the base of my spine.

He slid again his long, smooth finger inside, all the way into the creamy depths, making a brief, succulent sound. My pulse leapt and I groaned in pure delight, my flesh quivering and clenching around his digit.

"See? Deep, as promised..."

I moved against him, rolling my hips in a languid manner and I felt his chest vibrate with a low growl as I deliberately pushed against his erection. I slid my hand between us to feel his cock; I yearned to fit my palm along its stiff length.

Lightning fast, with no hesitation, he captured my hand before it reached its destination and brought it to his lips. His other hand stilled its caresses and I let out a tiny groan of frustration.

"Patience is a virtue you certainly seem disinclined to achieve," he observed quietly, in an almost severe manner.

"No. I'm not impatient," I said, tartly. "It's just that this isn't the sort of teasing I am in the mood for tonight."

"That's too bad..." he intoned, turning my prisoner-hand over to kiss my palm. "Because I'm going to add to it. Something must be done to correct this tendency of yours; you really need to be schooled in patience. So, tonight you are not allowed to touch. That's my prerogative alone."

"That's not fair!"

"Oh, of that there is no doubt. Don't fight me, Isabella, or this will take an eternity," he promised in a very quiet, grave tone.

The threat had some effect but not enough to hush my vociferous complaints.

"There will be many other occasions to tease me and teach me patience in bed but, please, please, pretty please not tonight..."

He pulled his finger out, leaving me writhing in an agony of want.

"Shall I stop?" he prompted, the sound very low.

And again, maybe I was not going to win. I was forced to concede this round to him.

"No..." I pleaded meekly.

"Keep in mind, Isabella," he warned coolly, "I can take away other privileges as well." His finger returned deeper inside me, thrusting, getting more precise with each of his words. "It's irritating," he said lowering his voice, "...to have to resort to threats in dealing with you."

I could feel his hand on my sex getting hotter, melting into me, as if wave after wave of deep heat were steaming up from my vortex. He pushed my labia together, rolling them against one another so that they slipped and slide.

"You're filling with moisture, love..."

I whimpered, the sound tender and helpless.

"I want nothing more than to bury my face in your wetness until I am marked and covered and immersed totally in your scent. I cherish and savor such moments whenever and wherever I find them. What do you say?! Shall I have a taste? I bet the flavor is going to drive me mad."

I didn't respond. I seemed unable to focus sufficiently. Perhaps he took my silence as hesitancy so he pressed his cause, the voice low, like the vibrating strings of a cello.

"I'm a parched man, Isabella... I need to drink... I need to drown myself in your fount."

That elicited an irrepressible whimper.

"Turn around and brace yourself against the door," he said gently. It wasn't exactly an order, but it wasn't a request either.

"Edward, please..."

"Hush and do as I say," he whispered and the weak protest died on my tongue. I yielded to his command. I turned to face him and I noticed he had removed his evening jacket, which was now tossed on the floor. I finally met his gaze. A playful, meaningful smile was twinkling in his eyes. I watched him intently, trying to measure his resolve but that was too ambitious a task for the moment.

He knelt before me and opened the slit in the skirt, exposing my legs. With a preoccupied, concentrated expression, he lightly touched my garter belt before deftly unfastening each stocking in front, then behind. Fastidiously, he rolled the stockings down my legs, inch by agonizing inch, stroking the skin as he uncovered it.

After that, he picked up my left leg and rested my thigh on his shoulder, my weight balancing on him and on our very acquiescent and very unlocked front door. His breath caught a little as he faced my open folds and the result of a good Swedish wax job. I had to stifle a little triumphant smile.

Firm hands were now gripping on my ass, supporting and holding me tightly in place while he, with a shrewd smile, occupied himself kissing the inside of my thigh. He nipped and sucked the delicate flesh, pulling firmly the sensitive skin between his teeth then soothing it with soft open-mouthed kisses and strokes of his tongue. He was leaving a love-bite. He was thorough, methodical. Ceremonial. He was branding me again with the same controlled, deliberate intensity with which he did everything.

It hurt yet it didn't. There was something intensely arousing in knowing that for the next few days, under my clothes, where no one else could see, I would bear his mark.

He put a halt to his attentions and stood still, waiting for me to look at him. His gaze intently locked with mine and his eyes were burning, intensely like a green fire. I read that look in his eyes. 'I know you', it said. 'I know your limits, know how far I can push you'.

Very slowly, very deliberately he stated aloud:

"I've starved for a long time and now it is time for my feast."

He hovered over me and resting his mouth very lightly over my opening, he inhaled my scent slowly, breathing just enough for me to feel the air playing across the wet lips, across my quivering clit. He inhaled deeply again, then his velvety tongue played down one side, then the other, meticulously parting my labia. He dragged it upward, closer and closer to where I needed it most but gave me only a swirling tease over my clit before poking it inside.

He began a rhythm that shortly became an erotic torture: slid his tongue into me, drew it up, pull it flat and slowly over my clit, sucking a little, then starting over. His tongue danced over every petal and fold; little flicks of the tongue, stray nibbling kisses, long, luxurious licks. Slow, easy, fast. It was sweet, glorious agony.

Looking down, I watched. I couldn't help but watch. The muscles in my abdomen tightened and my clit began to throb furiously in response to his tongue of fire lashing against me and into me, everywhere.

I broke the eye connection and weak, defenseless, I let my head drop against the door with a soft thud. My breath was coming out in rapid, shallow rasps, punctuated by whimpers. I felt myself rocketing towards orgasm, but wise as ever, he withdrew his tongue, impervious to my moans of protest.

I closed my eyes and with an open-mouthed sigh, I confessed quietly, in absolute surrender.

"If you touch me now, I'll come."

"I know." He sounded like he was smiling but the strain was getting evident in his voice, too. "And I think I've just decided to admire a little longer the exquisite view you're providing. Would you like me to describe it to you?"

I could not respond to that coherently. The mere idea was enough to drive me crazy. I panted frantically; shivers bolted down my spine and the leg supporting me began to tremble slightly from tension and anticipation.

"Imagine a dark red rose bud. A fresh, young, perfect little rose bud..."

I could come from his words alone. Only from his breathing over my folds if he happened to do so. A pained whimper of need escaped me.

"Please, Edward..."

His breath there, oh, it was hot, so hot and it burned and I burned for his touch.

"...glistening wet with dew, passionately throbbing for attention... for love." His blackened eyes stared up at me, narrowed and gleaming with heat as his lips parted in an almost feral grin. His voice turned thick on a sudden with deep, savage anticipation. "It's a pity that such perfection is going to be marred in symbolic devouring!"

With these words, he swiftly bent his head and the sensual snarl with which he planted his lips around my clit again made me groan. His lips clamped over the small bud and just sucked hard, his tongue flicking the sensitive tip over and over, torturing me. Abruptly, his thumb slid through my slippery folds. I ground against his face with my head thrown back, my mouth open, my ribs heaving, as he stroked his tongue over my clit again and again, in time with his thumb fucking me.

I could hold back no longer. Waves of unbearable desire attacked me. I cried out, a long, agonized, raspy sound I hadn't made in a very long time.

He waited for me to finish, pressing his tongue flat against my clit until it stopped pulsing, until the last spasm dissipated, leaving me limp and breathless. He reluctantly pulled away as my leg on his shoulder went back to the floor. I felt him rising from his knees, on his way up briefly kissing my swollen nipple. I swayed, my legs refusing to hold my weight, and he folded strong arms around me, steadying me, supporting me with his body.

"Splendid," he concluded huskily, a vaporous, quickly dissipating whisper of appreciation, his breath on my cheek hot, thick with need, his tender touch still alive on my breast. I opened my eyes; I was still drunk with pleasure and my brain was fuzzy.

Pressure from his hand coaxed my head up to meet his eyes.

"You taste so much better than I remembered, love."

He leaned in for a kiss, soft, brief, still gently holding me against him. He tasted musky. Sweet. Of course, when I told him so, he merely smiled.

"I cannot take credit for that. I've had help. If I had to use an analogy, I would say I've just enjoyed a juicy peach and its abundance of delicious flavors, tastes and oh-so-delightful textures."

"You're very poetic of a sudden..." I observed, thankful that my voice had not left me completely.

He showed me another wicked smile.

Except for the evening jacket and his bow tie, he was still fully dressed. He could have opened the door to an unannounced visitor and appear completely decent and presentable, whereas I was neither. I looked seriously disarrayed: I was barefoot, my gown was askew and split to the hip, my confiscated panties were tucked in the pocket of his very proper pants and my décolleté was...well, it wasn't quite a décolleté anymore. And I could only speculate about the expression on my face or the state of my hair.

My behavior tonight had been far from a perfectly ladylike fashion.

He took a step back and examined me intently with a red, sly smile and pleasure in his eyes.

"You're embarrassing me, staring like that..." I said feebly, arranging the bodice somewhat back into place.

"You look charmingly disheveled."

"Well, I cannot take credit for that. I've had help."

He chuckled in response.

Unexpectedly, he bent and lifted me in his arms, heading towards the bedroom. I felt good in his embrace, so deliciously exhausted, surrounded like that with his physical strength and warmth, which were making me aware of being vulnerable and small and so terribly female.

I clung to him, pressing my face into his neck to inhale his special scent that was far too appealing to be just cologne. I sensed citrus, soap and a tang of spicy male sweat.

The way Edward smelled was one of the sexiest things about him. The allure of his scent, so potent, so strong always made me breathe deeply and wanting more, dizzying my mind and driving me insane. Of course, it might just have had something to do with the male pheromones but biological explanations were too feeble in their cold, clinical aspect to dilute either the eroticism or that kind of attraction. Oh, Edward, my scented male.

"Where are you taking me?" I asked airily.

"To bed. To sleep," he quickly clarified. "What kind of gentleman would intentionally keep you up so late after you've been through an experience so...vivid?"

"I don't want to sleep. I have other plans," I protested, already a bit slumberous. He chuckled.

"I'm sure you do, but your plans can wait. You need the rest. I'm going to join you shortly."

"I'm officially protesting!"

"That's duly noted."

"And unofficially ignored..."

"Isabella, who's driving the bus?"

"You are."

"That's right. Keep that in mind."

Pressed like that against his warmth, lulled by the reverberation of his cultured, smooth voice resonating in his chest, I understood what gave a cat the urge to purr. The deep rumble of his voice had a wonderfully soporific influence. Cat or not, I did my best to purr, indicating that he should not, under any circumstances, stop holding me so pleasantly. I turned my face into the crook of his neck and opened my mouth so I could take in more of his scent.

"I wouldn't mind if you carried me like this all night long," I said into his skin.

"That could be easily accomplishable but terribly impractical. How are you feeling?" he inquired solicitously. "Tired?" A seductive smile. "Sated?"

"Hmm...," I falsely mused, "I may still have a personal emptiness in need of proper filling."

His teeth flashed and he gave a sharp laugh.

"I know, I know, you need the mighty scepter of my manhood...but I haven't changed my mind, despite of what happened in the last half an hour." Reflecting, he paused before adding, "Which reminds me... I believe I've encountered among your writings something about an entirely clothed... session," he said with a grin.

Oh, yes, the infamous manuscript of my innermost secret thoughts and desires.

"You have? Possibly. I can't remember. When will I get that notebook back?"

"Only after I'll have learned it by heart..."

"In that case, I'm sorry to announce you that tonight session won't count in the fulfilling fantasies department."

"Suddenly, you do remember... May I ask why?" His voice once again was a mere whisper, accompanied by a playful smile. "The noises you've just made sounded pretty fulfilled to me - I suppose advising you to be shy about vocalizing would be pointless. And I am obviously still dressed."

"There were unmet conditions."

"Like?" he prompted.

"You did not fuck me through your open fly."

A pause.

"Ah," he considered, "This is another matter, indeed. My mistake." The words were rich with amusement but there was a distinct edge to his voice and I knew he had taken my blow in full.

"The only dispensation would be the unbuckling of the belt. I don't know, there's something about the sound that the belt makes when it slides through the belt loops...that leathery swishing sound gives me chills. The good kind."

"What if I wore a cummerbund, as I am right now?" His voice had dropped to a rough whisper.

"Something could be arranged..."

We had reached our bedroom and he put me down. My thighs were still trembling from the strenuous position maintained earlier, my body still wrapped in a sensuous afterglow.

He didn't comment on my last remark, he didn't bite my bait so I tried something different.

"I know why you staged tonight..."

"Session," he quickly completed, sagacious as an old snake.

"...in the hallway."

"I'm listening," he replied serenely, in patient tranquility.

"Because you did not trust yourself to bring it to the bedroom."

"And here I thought it was impulsive lust! We are in the bedroom now, Isabella. Do I seem intimidated?" His voice, even controlled, sounded a bit too low, slightly altered. He had parried my attack well but I knew I wasn't too far off the mark.

"...you wanted to be uncomfortable, precarious..."

"You don't think I'm able to perform standing, love?" A trace of menace.

"I have my doubts." I answered flippantly.

"And I suppose you could let yourself convinced to the contrary?" Amusement again.

"I'm open...to dialogue," I hesitantly admitted.

"And not only to that, I imagine. Nice try, Isabella, but it won't do."

Another dead end. I just couldn't win.

Maybe I should give up and prepare for bed.

I tried to undress myself, fumbling blindly, fiddling to undo the zipper at the back of the gown. There were of course, easier ways to remove it. He observed my efforts for a while, in attentive scrutiny, which I knew perfectly well that it was purely deliberate. But his keen attention now gratified and excited me, failing to make me self-conscious. It was a bit late to affect a timid appearance, anyway.

"Let me help you with that," he finally offered in a gallantry as authentic as my own display of clumsiness.

"Oh, the chevalier has returned..." I observed, making an admirable effort to keep my tone serious.

"Don't be impertinent to the professor!"

He stepped closer and reached around, his movements lithe and efficient but strangely impersonal. I heard the zipper rasping quietly. I slipped the bodice off my shoulders, revealing my breasts to his gaze. His countenance was still of perfunctory propriety. This charade proved easy for him, or he was doing a very credible imitation. I pushed the dress lower and it slid to the floor with a soft rustle that resembled a resigned sigh. Or was it my own?

All that had remained on was the garter belt, which I slowly pulled over my hips myself, wearing a noble little smile that said I was, in my generosity, sparing him another temptation.

If he was impressed, that didn't come across his demeanor. His mood was so composed, I began to wonder if he wanted me at all. His gaze drifted leisurely over my breasts then further down one more time before he grumbled:

"Womanly wiles and indefensible tactics, indeed." Then, louder, "Let's get you into bed."

I took a step towards the bed then stopped abruptly, as if stricken with a sudden idea.

"Are you sure you can handle my sleeping naked?" I asked him with mischievous intent.

He seemed to be musing for a second there, then unexpectedly, he unfastened the cummerbund that flawlessly encased his waist and discarded it. He expertly removed the cufflinks next, and started to pull out his shirt from his trousers, all the while examining me, slow and easy, as I stood, fully nude and a trifle defying, exposed to him. Men are visual; I enjoyed teasing him like that. It was only fair after what he had just done to me.

When he began to unbutton his shirt down the front, my mouth went dry; he was making something of a production out of removing his shirt, but I didn't get the feeling he was performing for my direct benefit. The shirt slid off his broad, confident shoulders and I was facing now the splendor of his naked chest.

He was muscular in a taut, unobtrusive way, which was more masculine than the hard, flamboyant, narcissistic display of a bodybuilder. I wanted to bury my face against his bare chest and just enjoy the feel of him, the scent of him, after too long away. I tried to tear my eyes from him but my enchanted state must have been quite apparent, because he asked with a half-smile, half-smirk.

"Like what you see?"

I loved that bit of the peacock in him, it was part of his appeal.

"Sure of yourself, are you..."

"I thought you enjoyed my...'cockiness'."

I knew that pushing him was the wrong kind of strategy. The man needs to be the pursuer. But playing hard to get was not only difficult to stage, at my current level of need, it was plainly impossible. I simply had this urge to taunt his masculinity, to push his resolve, to test his dominance.

So I played some more. I inhaled and fructified the opening.

"Speaking of which... At some point, you need to back up all this raw, unabashed self-confidence with some proof, you know..."

"Self-confidence cannot be faked," he countered quickly.

"But is it self-confidence or incredible vanity?"

"I'm starting to feel a little disrespected by your relentless provocation, Isabella," he interrupted my maladroit analysis in an indulgent tone. "You're restless and rebellious again."

"That's because I'm cock-starved!"

"Your attempts are indeed quite inventive. Still, you are too obvious in your quest. Your ingenuity is much appreciated but far from efficient." He smiled with familiar cool arrogance, daring me to meet his level of self-assurance. "But I do find your efforts entertaining even though I would prefer a more subtle approach."

"You are exasperating!"

"And you are being punished. Obviously not severely enough, since you so unwisely keep challenging me."

"What can I say?! Sometimes the devil just takes over. Perhaps I'm in the particular mood where I welcome the wrath of the almighty conqueror. Perhaps I need him to overwhelm my defenses and crush my resilience and his will and strength to prevail over my all too proud spirit..." I said in my slowest, most wicked drawl.

He offered me an uplifted corner of his mouth and I suspected he was rather pleased that I was not backing down. His eyes were glowing as he neared me, saying gently: "Here, put this on."

He was presenting his shirt as a sleeping garment. The man, cruel in his acuity, preyed on my every weakness.

I clumsily lifted my arms, like I were I child, letting him dress me with his shirt, which was still warm from his body. It was a sweet gesture, I liked it.

"That's cute."

"I wasn't exactly aiming for cute here."

He brought the shirt over my arms and shoulders and down the front, his nimble fingers making quick work with every button to the last.

That brought us very close together, making it impossible for me to abstain from touching him. I just seized the opportunity, I reacted, impulsively. First, I encircled his neck with my arms then I pushed my hands into the strands of his crazy hair, capturing him tightly.

"What were you aiming for, then?"

"I seem to have become incapable of keeping you in line, completely incompetent at standing up to your brattiness. Tell me, Isabella, do you think I've lost my touch? Need I to discover new ways to handle you?"

In spite of his words, he made no move to back away.

"Isn't it that your never-ending job as a man?! But if you're confronted with situations beyond your experience level, I could always help out, you know?! I could give you...useful, insightful, suggestions... From the other side of the fence."

He intervened promptly.

"I'm sure you could but I don't need to be coached."

I let my palms trail over his face, then down to his marvelous chest. To my delight, he still didn't withdraw and I felt a surge of triumph as he let his eyes close, savoring my touch. My palms settled nervously, obediently on the width of his pectorals but my gaze wandered down between us to the hardness between his legs.

I wanted to scrape my nails across his torso then down, down, down... I wanted to unzip him and sneak my hand inside his trousers to grab a handful of cock and balls. I wanted to nestle his testicles, heavy like a pair ripe fruit, into my palm, to spoil them in my frenzy to explore, to taste, to inhale their carnal perfume.

An impulse so strong, so painfully delicious, it made my head spin. A deep quiver of lust shot through me as I bit my bottom lip sharply enough to taste blood. Only thus, I managed to resist the temptation.

I searched for something stupid and diverting to say instead.

"May I recommend you take some vitamins?"

"You will find soon enough that my stamina is quite vigorous. I'll prove that to you in ways you can't even imagine, love."

The guttural promise, his heavy tone rewarded me to an extent and made me fidget.

"A man of words and not of deeds..."

"Do not mistake a gentleman's behavior for a wimp's." He came closer, his arm slipping around my waist, pulling me against him. His voice had a new, huskier edge. "Be careful, Isabella, it is often said that men cannot take criticism and if you continue in this key, I might be tempted to put your tongue to better use."

"Oh, yes - the fragile male ego and so forth. But I'm afraid I haven't been given much to praise..."

"Dissatisfied so quickly?"

I tasted his breath in my mouth and drew it deep, deep into my lungs.

"No..." I exhaled onto his lips, a ghost of a moan barely there, "...never dissatisfied. Just famished. And asking for more..."

In response, he surprised me by kissing me. His hand wound itself into my hair, forcing my head to incline, tilting my mouth to the angle he desired, easing me forward, close, kissing me roughly, tongue in my mouth. Not gentle, not sweet, not careful but demanding. Taking my mouth for his pleasure. Like a man.

I arched delighted against his body as I felt the steel-hard contour of his thigh inserting itself, pressing hard between mine. The movement rasped my hard nipples against the pleated shirt. I wound my arms tighter around him, lifting my leg to circle his. A new sense of triumph emerged, but it was quickly muted in a fresh wave of desire.

His long thigh, pressed harder against the swollen flesh of my pussy, the strong muscles clenching against my clit, spiking the pleasure of the contact. Sartorius at its finest. Heat was pouring off his thigh through the fabric of his pants and my sex grew wetter, hotter. I was melting against his leg. I hoped his tuxedo trousers would wear the stain well.

His hand slid down to the back of my thigh, behind my knee, pulling my leg higher up on his and the kisses grew more languishing. The implications of his deteriorating control had my blood singing in exhilaration. I had almost convinced myself that the game was finally forgotten, when he broke the kiss to suggest, much to my dismay:

"Maybe a second helping from the first dish is in order, if you're still so hungry."

Fallacious again. He wasn't losing control, just misleading me, conning me into thinking he was. He was doing it on purpose, luring me, then making me wait, making me wait, wait, wait, until I was ready to scream, ready to beg, ready to whatever. I hated that he did that and yet, I couldn't get enough of it. Still, I was somewhat irritated by his unrelenting resistance and my own naïveté; a trifle disillusioned.

"You're offering me bread crumbs again... That proffer, sir, is respectfully rejected!" I retorted, unsuccessfully hiding my annoyance.

Almost indiscernibly, his mouth twisted at the challenge, eyes sparkling with devilish intent. He pulled me tighter into himself and grinned openly, evilly before bending towards my ear.

"You're hardly in the position to refuse anything, love..." he sneered, his voice low and scratchy. "If repletion were what I wanted for you, that would be easy enough. I would suffer no obstruction. You know I love it when you dare tease me. It turns me on massively. But you need to be careful and know what you're doing; aroused past my point of self-control, I come on like a freight train. Now please, desist this mutiny of no use and get into bed, before I am forced to become really cross with you."

Sometimes there was no telling when he was kidding.

He tore his body from mine, helped me into bed and covered me with the comforter.

"There is that!"

Creaking slightly under his weight, the bedsprings gave as he sat beside me.

"You're being very cruel, indeed..."

"Isabella, I am acutely sensitive to your needs and do my damndest to satisfy them. Partly because I can, but probably even more so because I want to give you everything I've got. You're going to receive ample confirmation of that, let me assure you. You'll be...full filled."

I tried to sit up again but he gently pushed me back into the pillows.

"Everything?"

"Yes, everything."

"If I asked for the moon?"

"Even the golden fleece, if I had to. But for now, I insist you get some sleep. The night is a good advisor. Who knows, maybe by surrendering instead of rebelling, you will find unexpected completion of your needs and wants."

The white bed sheets were crisp and smelled wonderfully. I sunk my face against the soft, silken pillow.

"I am so happy to be home with you," I barely managed to add.

"As am I," was his gentle reply.

"Don't take too long..." I mumbled. "Time is of the essence."

I heard him laugh as I drifted off, without any real volition. My last conscious thought was how wonderful it was to find comfort in the familiar. And that I needed to thank him for not mentioning Jake to his family.


It was not yet dawn when I woke, my sleep disrupted by a sudden, inexplicable inquietude. I reached over to his side of the bed and my hand met only an empty pillow instead of him. He was not in bed, the mattress beside me was cold, which meant he hadn't been there recently. That could not be good.

As I passed room after room, my heart went faster and faster until it stilled; I knew where he'd be. In his chambers. In his cave.

In his office.

The door was ajar. I entered soundlessly and stopped shy, by the door. My heart started to slow.

His chair was turned to face the window, putting him in profile. He sat still, staring at the ceiling, shrouded in the mystery of his thoughts. Adonis, reclining.

All that he wore was his silk pajama bottoms and his bare skin gleamed palely in the amber light of the desk lamp, one long, strong hand extended out on the arm of the chair like a lion's paw. Entwined in his fingers, a thick cigar, which I knew he would not lit. On the desk, a glass of scotch. Glenfiddich, oddly, on the rocks.

I stood unmoving, silent, in wait, studying his profile in the dimness. I had always felt an odd compulsion to observe him clandestinely, I did not know why, but that didn't keep me from doing it. His stillness was strangely compelling, drawing me to him like an invisible pull. There was a sense of latent energy, of dormant force about his posture that awakened in me all sorts of difficult hungers.

My fingers yearned to trace his angular, masculine features, the strong and defined jaw line, to feel the texture of bone and skin, much like one might run a hand over a fine statue. I wanted to soothe his warrior brow and refit him for his fights. As strong as they may be, men don't have inexhaustible resources. Even leading, strong men have vulnerabilities and need to be cared for by their women.

"Don't stir up the sleeping dragon...," a little wise voice said in warning.

"Had enough sleep?" A deep, gruff voice acknowledged me.

He was no longer playful and seductive, he sounded displeased, the teasing charm gone. Earlier in the night, it had seemed to me that his armor was getting thinner. I had thought that his control was flagging, that his resolve was slipping. Looking at him now, I was no longer as certain.

Perhaps we had begun to play the game too hard.

"I had some, unlike you. What kept you awake?"

He did not answer.

This new, unexpected element of conflict thrilled me. Something moved low and telluric inside me, a shadowed, murky blaze. My own desire was waking in a completely new way. I briefly fantasized about walking over to him, throwing one leg over his lap and biting down hard, in revenge and exasperation, at his mouth's perfect fullness. But that only left me shaking and lustful.

"You seem upset." I observed quietly.

"No, I'm not."

So few, curt words. He was upset. I knew it.

"Why aren't you sleeping then?"

"I was thirsty," he answered dryly.

"So I see. But why the sitting alone in semidarkness?"

"I was thinking about something unpleasant," he responded in a distant tone.

"What about?"

"About the rotten nights I've had in here without you, Bella."

His voice was so terribly quiet and far away. It was that first night at the hotel all over again.

"This shouldn't be a night for such somber considerations. I'm here now..." I said, my voice faint and breathy. "Let's redeem all that wasted time."

He turned his head to look at me, so intensely that his hypnotic, brilliant gaze felt almost like a physical touch. Suddenly, his voice got a terrible calm intensity to it and he sentenced adamantly:

"You won't run away from me again."

This emotional roller coaster couldn't go on any longer and I knew that what was about to follow would be crucial. Anger does not damage the relationship as long as there is an unselfish love at its core; however, he needed to express his, once and for all, to dispel it and end with, instead of leaving it to simmer. This was what made the moment so intimidating and meaningful. Great as well as scary.

My marrow was weakening but I wasn't afraid. My legs were quivering but I wasn't scared. Instead of more painful anticipation, of more inner turmoil, I suddenly felt a quiet acceptance, a resigned serenity; come whatever might, baptism by water, by fire or by ordeal, I was ready. I was strangely calm and ready to accept it all. He needed it in order to end the circle of anger.

"You're still mad at me," I stated evenly.

Frustrating silence again.

"Edward, if this is still a game, you're pushing things too far!"

"Am I?"

With those words, he stood swiftly from the chair and walked right up to me, in a very definitive manner. In that dim light, he looked like a smoldering demon. With every step, I could see him with a new clarity: tall, dark and in a weird, dangerous mood. He loomed over me, wickedly intimidating. Very suggestive. Very intoxicating. I felt dizzy under his gaze. I swallowed hard.

"How about now? Hmm? Are still the...things too far?"

He took another step in my space, making me back up against the wall. Using the tip of the cigar, he started to pinpoint lazily the buttons of my shirt, making small circles around each of them.

"How about now? Are things any better?"

He must have had more than just a drink.

"Please explain to me, Edward, I need to understand. I deserve to know. Why are doing this? Why are you really doing this?"

He pushed me further into the wall, the scent of Glenfiddich and musk and anger pouring from him like a strange, heady perfume. I sensed the tide of primal manhood coursing through his veins. Standing in his manly, imposing presence with my head tilted back to see his eyes, I felt it, I smelled it. It drove me wild. Touching him was all I thought about. I hoped he'd let me at same point.

"In search for knowledge are we, little cat?"

"Pretending your anger does not exist is a mistake... constantly corking it up like that, stuffing it away inside you..."

"You know me inside out, don't you?! Every bone and sinew, every itsy-bitsy little thing that goes through my narrow, boyish mind..."

"You're damn right I know nothing of what you feel! You don't let me know any of it!" I injected with some acrimony, facing him squarely.

For a few long heartbeats, he watched me gravely, with smoldering eyes, his lips just a whisper away.

"Very well, then. You're right. I am still so fucking angry with you. I believe that, among your duties, firstly, you must honor your husband by giving him exclusivity." His voice had dropped to a dark, hoarse murmur and he put both his hands on the wall, on each side of my head, bringing closer the rich, taut curves of his arms and chest. His shoulder glistened in that poor light, as if damp with sweat, making me want to lick the skin there.

His lips turned pale when he spoke next.

"You failed, Isabella. You brought a ghost into our bed."

"You know that's not true, Edward... You said you believed me," I defended weakly but my voice didn't crack.

"I'm jealous," he muttered, in the same stifled tone. "I won't deny that side of my nature. I am very territorial about you and now, after all that has happened, I have this compulsive desire to become a bit much for you, to take you, my woman, in every possible way, to use you thoroughly, vigorously, strenuously so you won't ever again forget that I'm the only one who can have you. Ever."

Old, stubborn resentments still flammable as gasoline danced and flickered in his eyes, like distant bonfires.

"It is an urge I have been trying very hard to contain," he continued acerbically, between clenched teeth, with a cold look in his eyes that was downright spooky. His next query was more a wild, low hiss.

"So, don't you think it's unwise to tempt me when I'm like this, Isabella?"

I was not certain whether it was the cruel playfulness in the smile following his question or the real heat in his warning that made me shiver. I hesitated, afraid of getting the answer wrong, because then he would use it against me, with a derisive, snarky little turn of phrase.

"I think I'm entitled to all of you, either good or bad."

"Is that so?!" he inquired darkly.

He kept flashing out his resentments, I kept expressing my availability. It was like a dialogue of the deaf.

"Yes, it is. I'm in for it all: your hard, swagger thighs, your soft, clever lips, your strength, your temper, your cock, your brain. Now, please, stop this, you're tormenting me for real, Edward..."

"Oh, the raw power of a woman's 'please'... So strong and indefensible..." he declaimed, theatrically, to an invisible audience. "It will affect a man, deeply, often to the point of granting her request. 'Please' implies an acceptance of the reply, whether that is 'yes' or 'no', isn't it? With that comes an unvoiced element of submission. How heartless would I have to be to say 'no' to your heartfelt request, to your legitimate need?"

I shrunk under his new assault and said again 'please', although I didn't know what I was asking for any more.

He leaned more into me and his husky laugh fanned over my face.

"That is something I heard quite often from you tonight."

Suddenly fearless, I stood on tiptoe and kissed the corner of his mouth with gentle but poorly concealed fervor. I needn't have worried about touching him, because he then kissed me back. Hard, really hard, so hard I hoped it would bruise. He disengaged from the kiss as sharply as he had begun, leaving my mouth slack, lips sensitized, tender, a little swollen. I made a petulant sound of protest and he let out a dry chuckle.

"I might," he said in a non-committal fashion, "...under certain circumstances, allow fulfillment of your desire." My heart skipped a beat, giddy on new possibilities. "As a sign of goodwill. But you must make a good effort to convince me." His teeth gleamed. "A better effort."

"I've been doing nothing but..."

I could hear a new, wolfish smile in his voice, his tone deceivingly sweet. His eyes shone through the darkness, blackened pupils burning me. "You must be very, very persuasive... Convince me, Isabella!"

Hastily, fervidly, I searched my mind for other, more compelling arguments.

"The effective maintenance of a relationship is determined by, among many other things, the efficient disposal of the potential damage a swallowed, amorphous anger as yours, may impose. Release your anger to avoid the cancerous drain of chronic, unresolved disputes weighing down on us!"

I realized my voice had begun to sound like the strident wail of desperation, so I hurried on.

"The termination of conflict in the act of lovemaking is the glue that binds couples together. When anger is not channeled into something more positive, such as passionate love, homeostasis can only be maintained by dissociating from the anger or by ceasing to care. The first you seem unwilling to do, at least for now, the latter is a horrible prospect... Forgiveness is essential, Edward... Without it, any given relationship is doomed."

My arguments were spent, my trick bag was empty. My powerless words dissolved into an unsettling, unfriendly silence, a hush that gathered, accumulated, falling around us heavy like a fog. I could hear even the lamp bulb buzzing. I hardly dared breathe.

Finally, he broke the quiet, his voice as flat and dead as dirt.

"Very well sustained, Isabella. But rather ineffective, I'm afraid."

That made me stir in panic. He responded to my insistent motion by forcing against me even harder, using his superior strength to flatten my body against the wall.

"Please, give up to this punishment nonsense, you're making us both frustrated and miserable... Make love to me, Edward! I need you. I need to reconnect with you… Don't you want me?" I futilely, heatedly pleaded.

"Don't I want you..." he drawled, as if musing over the matter.

In response, he moved against me, just so I could feel the burning weight of his arousal, safely concealed beneath his pajama pants. The heavy length of his cock imprinting against my lower abdomen made me whimper, hungrily.

"You know that I so despise to tell untruths. Besides, the answer to that has become self-evident, I expect..."

A little nervous laughter escaped my lips.

"The penis never lies."

"No," he said, snapping out the single word and the ravenous expression in his eyes sent a shudder through me. "It doesn't."

With that, he put the cigar between his lips, grabbed my shirt and pulled it open roughly, with a fine, flagrant disregard for its integrity. I gasped, my breath caught, my folds swelled. He removed it completely and threw it away, not caring where it landed.

Torn apart shirts - a sartorial affliction common enough in the good, old days.

He took the cigar out of his mouth and clicked his tongue in disapproval while he examined me.

"You got too damn thin," he said in a disgruntled mumble. "I don't like to feel your ribs like this."

My skin tingled, alight with desire under his palm and I felt my breasts swell under his seeking touch, as he cupped one supple weight, lifting it slightly. His thumb grazed the nipple.

The pointed tip of his tongue appeared, between equally red lips. It slowly licked his upper lip then the lower and went back inside his mouth. With his gaze still fixed to my breasts, he took a sudden step backwards, allowing me space to move.

"Lie down on the rug."

I hesitated, even though his tone implied it was not a suggestion.

He neared me again, half of his face cast in shadows and muttered something distinctly unworthy of a gentleman. "I don't mean to be abrupt here, but if you hoped you'd get fucked against a wall, that's not going to happen."

I still didn't move.

His voice was low, sarcastic as he unknowingly turned my own thoughts against me. "Hmm... You're reluctant," he said. "What are you afraid of? Embarrassing yourself?"

"No."

"Of me?"

"No."

He snarled, coming closer and glowered down at me. His lips twisted with an edge of self-mockery as he inquired, "No?! And why is that? I'm being an asshole, a despicable brute..."

"I trust you. And I'm not afraid."

"Go lie down, in that case."

"Make me."

Edward laughed then, a harsh sound filling the room and his teeth flashed, very white, like a predator's. With one step he was against me again; he wrapped my hair around his fist and pinned me with the bulk of his body against the wall. He forced his knee between my legs and used it to spread them. Then slowly, deliberately, he started to grind his hips against my pubic bone, teasing me with his cock, so eager and taut and swollen, hidden by nothing more than his thin pajama. Every time the silk-clad cock passed over my clit, I moaned with delight. My breath got heavier and he smirked, undeterred, knowing that if he kept that rhythm, I wouldn't resist for long.

He stilled, the hand closed in my hair tugged steadily, forcing my chin up while his piercing eyes fed on every expression on my face. His mouth was a grim line but his eyes had an avid glint. He bent his head to speak, a mesmerizing hiss, in my ear.

"I like it when you're like this, so hot and bothered and needy that you need to get insolent. It makes your surrender all the more sweet..." His free hand lowered on my bare ass, pressing my body to his as he ground his hips again. "What if I withheld this... - his erection rubbed hard against me - indefinitely, hmm? How about that?"

"No..." I hummed to myself.

He released me and took a step back. He had me and he knew it. His implacable gaze still held mine, his voice quiet, a whisper.

"I'm still waiting."

As I sidestepped him to advance into the middle of the room, he smirked again, self-satisfied and reflected aloud:

"I just wonder, what made you change your mind so abruptly?"

It was a rhetorical, ironic question, one that didn't quite require my opinion.

"A woman's privilege," I answered steadily, with a trace of defiance.

I felt his eyes on me as I sat down on the carpet. Slowly, I lay on my back with my legs bent at the knees. A lingering stage of apprehension made me wonder what he would choose to do next. Uncertain, willing to please, I waited on him, waiting for his next instruction. "Be still and pay attention," the little voice said, "and you will know which path to choose."

He lithely came near, slowed then stopped. I watched his feet sinking into the carpet as he halted. The rug was thick but felt coarse on my shoulder blades. Well, that was all right. Rug burns don't hurt until after, anyway.

I lay motionless, soft and pliant, absorbing all the nuances of his demeanor, my senses attuned to his movements. He started pacing patiently up and down at my feet, all the time watching me, his eyes entranced, the need in his gaze addictive. There is a pattern to things, behavior and all, and just like that night in Sweden, he began to explain, his voice this time unexpectedly gentle.

"I like seeing you aroused... seeing your anticipation, your little touch of uneasiness about what's going to happen. I feel pride, because I'm the only man who can do what he wants again and again with this witty, sparkling, powerful, beautiful woman."

The sounds flew over me, erasing all worries away, the effect of his chanted, monotone monologue almost hypnotic. I watched his back muscles moving like a living, warm undulation of dune, the loud thud of my heartbeat in my ears almost covering his voice.

"I feel overwhelming power, because I can make you moan and whimper and scream and beg and cry. Because I can torment you with a touch of my hand or give you satisfaction with the same... Because I can bring you to pure feeling by making you lose all control over yourself."

His words left traces on my skin, invisible, random patterns like a caress, each of them designed to inflame and unlock me a little further. I whimpered. He stopped.

"Is the word-craft of my lecture arousing you, Bella?"

I nodded.

"Let me hear you."

"Yes..."

"You're burning for things I cannot give?"

His soft tone was knowing, so knowing it was almost scary.

"Yes."

"I can smell you," he remarked conversationally, and his penis twitched in admission under his pajama pants. His erection had subsided; his cock hung now at half-mast, a less threatening and just as full of erotic promise state I secretly, perversely enjoyed. Whenever I had the chance, I watched it in a spellbound trance, as it would swing lazily, in a sort of wordless undertaking, bouncing nonchalant from thigh to thigh with Edward's each advancing step. I imagined it in my mouth, pulsing so much I wouldn't be able to keep up, the semen spilling from my lips and down to the full testicles dangling below.

Anticipation is nine tenths of the pleasure. I shivered flashing those mental images. And then again at his next words.

"I can see you, too... Closed shyly, glistening like a velvety split peach, so juicy, ripened and fragrant."

A few heartbeats of silence then he ran a hand through his hair and resumed his pacing. Back in the lecturing mode, his voice retook the monotonous intonation.

"In moments like this, I am grateful because you gave yourself to me. I feel that you belong to me fully and this is a gift I don't take lightly. This mix of feelings can be indeed, very arousing for a man."

With this conclusion, he stopped at my feet again, casting a long, heavy shadow across my body.

"Spread your legs, baby."

His request sounded natural, uttered without supplication or threat, yet it was full of authority.

I complied, forcing myself to relax, with my thighs aslant. I had never felt this naked, this exposed but my posture was far from lost on him. I was at my weakest point and yet, by the expression on his face, I must have never been so powerful. He looked so intense, so serious, as if it were his inescapable, predestined duty to conduct that inspection. I felt the need to close my eyes.

I could feel his stare, burning into my undefended sex as he gazed between my thighs. He could see my pussy, empty, begging, the juices oozing into the rug. I just kept my eyes closed, waiting and heard him strangely murmuring, under his breath: "One must adore before one commands, ravages, despoils, takes... one must completely adore..." I drew in a sharp breath when I felt him kneeling between my thighs.

He let his hand travel up and down the inside of my thigh, lingering where the skin was tender and thin, softest, most receptive, pulling my thighs apart, wider. Under his avaricious stare, my clit was growing heavy and hot. I imagined how he would see it, poking out between the lips, flushed scarlet, brazen in its need.

"You should see how you look from here...beautiful beyond any description as you're offering yourself in the throes of desire. An image of inconceivable perfection." His hand moved over my sex, just once, a bold, masculine caress that scorched my flesh. "Open and dripping... Strung up. You're making me think of a tensely coiled spring. The stronger the spring, the more exceptional I have to be in order to get it to release. So irresistible..."

My legs started to shake almost imperceptibly with impotent need that made every nerve quiver; my voice scraped my throat, hoarse with wanting.

"Do things to me, Edward..."

The sound of my breath almost covered the silkiness of Edward's murmured reply.

"Oh, I have every intention of it…"

He stroked me again with the flat of his palm, the contact almost hard and I gasped.

"What a marvelous humidor..."

The implications of his words sent deep ripples down my spine. He ran the cigar along my pussy, watching me with hooded eyes. He held the tip against my clit, smiling as I squirmed against it. It felt very stiff and hard, almost abrasive.

"It feels alien against your skin, isn't it? It takes your warmth away... It takes your breath away..."

He began to explore every crevasse, charting out peaks and valleys with his naughty utensil, speaking all the time, asking wicked questions, his voice silk, smooth baritone silk.

"Do you think I could make you come with this thick, scented substitute for my cock?"

Being the cerebral, versatile lover he was, I had little doubt but I didn't answer.

"I could have it thoroughly soaked with your essence and then, when I'd smoke it later, I would have you all over my fingers and tongue. Inside my lungs... The smoke might even curl up in the air into a volatile impression of your hip."

Afraid to shake my head in open refusal, I caught his gaze, trying to reveal my unwillingness, if not disappointment, at the sudden offer. The cigar had grown warm, sucking up the heat and cream of my skin.

Unexpectedly, he removed it, sniffed its musky bouquet then set it aside.

"Some other time, perhaps," he whispered pensively. Had he distinguished in the slight intake of breath my anxiousness?

"What was it that you wanted from me, again?" he asked with an expectant, interested tone as if we were having just another conversation.

My previous composure was growing thin. I felt fragile and tensed with frustration, oppressed by that incessant longing, by his relentless games.

"You already know what I want..." I whispered wearily.

Suddenly, he hovered over me on his hands and knees. His sly expression had disappeared, a look of intense concentration taking its place. His eyes glinted as he provoked once more, his lips so close I could feel their heat on my cheek.

"Indulge me."

He did not touch me but his proximity was dizzyingly. I felt a fresh wave of juicy audaciousness. I spoke again, after a shaky breath.

"Your waist scissored by my thighs, our limbs braided together..."

He propped on one elbow and let his other hand travel randomly on my body: gliding down my cheek, testing the pulse in my throat, tracing the line of my jaw, the tender hollow above my collarbones. His fingers were snaking over my breasts when he asked slowly, deliberately:

"Don't censor yourself. What else?"

"I want to feel you...to touch you for a long time, to trace arcs and spirals and paths on your balls... and on your chest, and on your back..."

He bent his head and his tongue swiped over my nipple once. A surge of sensations rippled through my spine. Quick little licks over the other tip made me arch my back. More. I wanted more. A throttled groan rasped in his chest as he began to suck. Pleasure lanced straight to my sex, sending my legs numb. Too quickly, he pulled away; the flare receded.

"No, Isabella, these are just means to an end. What do you really want?" A smile tickled the corners of his lips but his eyes were blazing.

My thoughts were moving so fast, like flickering cinematic shadows, thoughts made into images, images made into words.

"I want to live darkly and richly and safely in my femininity under your command. I want to learn your desires, watch you constructing our life, doing your manly work. I want you on top of me...in every way that there is. You, my pivot, always on top. I want to feel the sweet pain of being possessed by you, for your pleasure, at your will, at your time..."

I hated the sound of my own voice, begging him for what I needed, but I knew that was the only way I would obtain anything from him tonight. And I needed to be taken, hard. His hand moved down, lazier, his fingertips grazing my hipbone.

"Men are logical and sexual. Be direct... Be feminine."

"But most of all, I want your cock." I exhaled. "I need it."

His palm sought out my sex, stretched between splayed thighs and the flames blazed up again.

"How badly do you want it?"

He was tracing circles through the damp relief. I grew wetter, wettest under his probing fingers. My blood ran too hot, filling, scalding my veins. I was burning wet, slippery smoldering, water and fire enhancing each other. I parted my thighs further, allowing him better access, my arousal passing the point where I could pretend to restrain.

"Very badly." A heated, breathless admission.

"But you'll leave it to me, whether I will enact your desires, won't you?"

A phantom voice passed through my mind, a litany, a single word revolving around. "Surrender, surrender, surrender..."

"Yes." The word burned my throat.

"Because this is my game. My way, Bella."

A faint sound of despairing capitulation. Desire distilling into surrender.

"Yes."

"And you'll have it, love. At my time. At my bidding."

More sterile, distant promises. A confident finger running through my sensitized slit brought me sweet little solace.

"Like this, baby, don't you?!" he asked softly, and moved his hand again, daringly exploring my folds, his fingers spreading me, opening me.

"Mmm..."

A skilled intrusion of his luscious middle finger stilled my thoughts. The shiver of my legs became a fine tremor that took over my entire body.

"But I don't know which you like best… That?"

His finger withdrew abruptly, disconcerting, leaving me a sensation of empty loneliness as its touch faded from my heated depths. With a smile, he wiped slowly, demonstratively the wetness off his finger across his smooth, chiseled chest then returned his hand between my legs, beginning to massage sweetly the flesh surrounding my clit as if he wanted nothing. "Or this?"

As the pulse in my sex exploded with urgency, I started to arch and undulate beneath him, imploring, using a breathy tone I hadn't even known I possessed. When he finally did touch it, I shuddered and cried.

"Now, now. Good girls keep still and quiet while their wet, swollen clits are being rubbed and pulled." When he pinched it, I was on the verge of coming. I gave him my response, all eyes and breath, relishing the hunger he'd allowed to cross his face. His breath was so hot that his words in my ear felt like a verbal penetration.

"Shh, baby... Just making sure you really know how painful arousal can be..."

"Please, take me... I am ready..."

He cupped my sex and my swollen, turgid labia filled his palm.

"I'm taking you...in my hand, love," he murmured and his voice got huskier with every word, "...at your melted, molten core and your readiness is exquisitely obvious to me... Hmm, to have you in the palm of my hand...that is not just a poetic metaphor. There is a mouth with full, open lips, quite capable of drawing within, moistly and heatedly absorbing into itself the object of its desire. Ready you are, Isabella, all hot and soaking..."

His words made me melt in a white-hot inferno of desire, out of my senses, so far out of control psychologically that I couldn't even imagine being in control. I reached up, grabbed his shoulders, pulled him down to me and half-bit, half-kissed his cruel, clever, sculpted lips; he had never tasted better.

"Please, more..."

With each of his strokes, I became more frantic. All my reactions to him were charged. Every muscle in my body ached, I needed him so badly! I was shaking like a leaf, my body screaming to be taken completely, a reckless willingness and primal desire to be owned by him, totally his, totally held by his power. The agonizing sensations, the heat, the throbbing increased to the point where I could stand no more and tore my lips away from his, to moan, to beg.

"Please, let me touch you... I miss you… I've been waiting for so long…" I murmured imploringly into the kisses.

I writhed and clung to him, and he was hard and unrelenting as stone in my arms as I squeezed his shoulders. I kept whimpering incoherently, helpless, begging for his cock, with every move and sound pleading for him to touch me, to dominate me, to use me.

"Please, Edward, give it to me..."

"Which one is going to be, baby?" he asked hoarsely. "Give or take?"

I would have laughed if I hadn't been so insanely aroused. I was suddenly furious at him, at his arrogance, at his carelessness, and most of all at the fact that he knew me far too well. I didn't know the difference between lust and anger anymore.

"Are we playing semantics?!" I asked incredulously in half-mad desperation. "Give is take and take is give. Who the hell cares which is it, just give me more and take me more! Take me hard and mercilessly so you can purge your anger! Give me your cock so I can oil it and feel it slide inside me... Just fuck me, Edward. Please!"

His eyes turned mad with lust. I barely registered his deep-throated snort.

"Oh, you're so mean when you want to..."

With a swift, unexpected movement, he pushed his pajama bottoms down to mid - thigh. Released from its delicate confinement, his penis sprang forth, so large, so dark, arching hungrily, as rigid and unyielding as a forged weapon. A greedy sob escaped me. I wanted to grab it and pull at it like tugging on a rope, dragging him inside my cunt.

In a blur of a motion, before I could reach out to touch him, he mounted me, drawing my thighs wider apart and his full weight splayed me beneath him.

"You have earned your desire. A man can only take so much!"

With that, he dexterously guided himself and entered roughly without further ceremony, piercing the folds, splitting me exquisitely, filling me like a man should, and in a way that a cigar could never match.

I heard myself moan and all my thoughts fractured into falling shards. I had forgotten or maybe I hadn't, the abrupt stretching, the surge I always felt when his cock first entered me, the sensation of being overfilled. Another deep, fast stab and I sucked up a scream. A rush of heated breath against my ear:

"I am inside you now. Was this what you wanted?" he asked, darkly.

I managed only an inarticulate sound. I was too breathless to speak.

"I must insist on an answer..." The request sounded like it was coming through clenched teeth, urgency taut in his voice.

Locking my legs around him, I strained upward, craving more, gripping his shoulders tighter. I met his eyes; he looked serious, rapt, devoid of vanity and pretension, all artifice gone.

"Yes, husband."

His voice had changed. Gone lower. Rougher. "Take it all then," he groaned and gave me more, his hips pistoning into me fiercely. The savagery was inevitable after our long wait. I'd been longing to be used by him, as the object of his lust and I reveled in that forceful intensity. My flesh swelled, stretching, accepting, enfolding his burning length, the friction more delicious than the best memory I had. I was so aroused, so ready for him that I welcome the tender-ferocious assault.

"All of me." His voice was a low, slow growl, his breath harsh, coming in counterpoint to the fierce, furious thrusts of his cock. "You like that, don't you? Take me deeper... This is an exquisite treat for a man, to just let it rip," he grunted in my ear.

Nails scraped his back; sobbing noises of pleasure, of need denied for too long, echoed in the room. He drove into me hard, taking me with a rough possessiveness, or perhaps it was just anger - my latest acquaintance. It was a greedy, crude fuck and mercy was nowhere in sight.

"Fuck, you've tightened!"

His mouth at my ear, whispering promises of incoming torture, everything he'd learned I liked, everything he'd learned I needed... "I'm going to make you see stars... I'll make you come so hard you'll think you've died." He rammed into me over and over, plunging faster and harder and it didn't take long until deep inside, my muscles started to quiver. Orgasm, quick and sudden as death, broke over me, stiffening and immobilizing my limbs then bursting through and galvanizing my body into shuddering spasms.

He slowed down to feel it. "Squeeze me hard, baby, squeeze me into oblivion...," he murmured, rubbing his lips over mine, inhaling my cry.

As awareness began to return, I could hear him, still whispering, like someone drunk with love, a muffled mixture of curses and soft words. Keeping himself still, still impaling me on that part of him that could prove and explain things the rest of him could not, he was waiting for my return, giving me time to recover, waiting for the last tremor to pass.

"So tight, so hot..." He was breathing words, face buried in my hair, inhaling, praising my beauty in quiet tones. I regained enough consciousness to notice the fine trembling of his body, straining for control, against me, inside me, a sign of his inhuman effort to remain motionless.

The pulsations of my flesh tempered and he seemed to know this, taking it as a cue to resume his manly labor. He restarted with slow rotations, caressing my wet, aching inner walls with infinite slowness, then went on with long, slow, liquid thrusts, moving inside me as if underwater, as if he knew my waters better than I.

He groaned low in his throat and his pace quickened. My breath matched his rhythm, the throaty sounds of pleasure dropped to short, sharp whimpers, my only leverage against the heavy pumping. He was fucking me now with a punishing, avenging thoroughness, steadily guiding me to another climax.

Pleasure, pleasure, more pleasure with each deep, vigorous thrust. A stripe of light on his severe cheekbone. Our bodies grinding lava, sweat and musk against each other, like ancient, elemental millstones. A doomed attempt to reunite the primary androgynous. Each thrust filled me, each withdrawal left me starving.

"All mine. Until the day I die."

My second orgasm built quickly, much too quickly. Stronger this time. Reduced to just a hot river of sensations, my entire body, inside and out, suspended itself, taut as a bow strung too tensely, every nerve frozen in anticipation of the next fluid, piercing lunge.

I hovered on the edge, sucking breath, so good, so extreme but I couldn't stop or pull away. I felt its waves coming, inexorable like a tsunami, pulling me in, pulling me down, pulling me under. I tried to warn him, but he already knew. He already knew, and when it hit me and I almost blacked out, he laughed with savage pride and satisfaction.

But then he was the one coming, while I was still squeezing him, urging him, as I had been designed to. The slams slowed, the rhythm broke and he plunged into me over and over, trembling violently as his cock labored to fill me with his seed. Filling me as he had been designed to. He was all liquid, his bones melted, a man of steel liquefying inside, his release appeasing two long months of famine.

Suddenly limp, he felt twice as heavy above me. He pulled out and I felt his semen leaking, then gushing from me, fecund and thick, marking me, making me feel so possessed. I made no move to clean up. I was perfectly content to let it soak into my skin, to let it dry on my thighs. His breath still came in sharp rasps as he collapsed beside me, spent, relaxed, maybe for the first time in months. His sweat smelled, sharply male, intimate. Different. Like sex.

An eerie, contralto female voice, was singing with immense longing in the back of my head: "Don't you stop being a man..."

He turned on his back and pulled me on top of him, lifting me from the cold rug. My eyes were heavy-lidded, my breathing as ragged as his. I put my cheek on his chest and the only sounds were the beat of his heart and our erratic gasping. Right then and there, only he and I existed. Neither of us moved. I didn't know how much time went by; I didn't particularly care.

What is afterwards? After the descent into the pits of raw, untamed primordiality? A man and a woman who had seen and wanted all in the other, and in this want, given all of themselves. The knowledge now born, that all of each was known, felt, and hungered for by the other. A knowledge that gave depth beyond measure to their bond.

Drowsily, I lifted my head and looked at him. His eyes were closed, his mouth soft. He had received his small, mortal measure of peace.

"Are we done with the games?" I asked, pressing my lips to his throat.

His arms tightened around me, squeezing with a force just short of actual pain, sensing my skin pebbled from cold.

"Oh, we're a long way from done, baby..." His voice trailed off as a slight, mysterious grin slipped over his features. He stood up with amazing fluency and removed his pajama bottoms with quick, balanced movements.

I watched him in awe; naked, he was even more beautiful, unashamed, perfect as marble carved David. His maleness had an element of untamed independence and roughness, a vigor of animal vitality, exuding strength, sexual prowess, virility. At his feet, I felt wholly powerless, like a speck of dust in his path, swept away, consumed, but also engulfed by the reassurance that his strength - which had only in some measure to do with the power of his flesh - could not be surmounted by outsiders. Not without difficulty. I felt safe and so much more.

Safety, desire, self - abandonment, laughter, tenderness, vulnerability, hunger, love, all those words and many other could be used in conjunction with my submission to him. Because they were a part of it, cause and effect all together.

And yet, as a woman who was truly subjugated, truly owned by her man, I was not weak. It takes a strong woman who possesses a clear understanding of herself to submit to the leadership of a man she trusts. I knew my strengths, indeed. Always thinking of new ways to make him feel loved in return, I strove to become one with his flesh, to be his divine afflatus, to become his creation, the perfume of his poetry. To be as indispensable to him as he was to me.

Loved, supported, cherished, I was in a position to accomplish all my dreams. To be all that I could be, completely secure in my femininity, in my self worth. For that was what his nurturing, masculine dominance desired above all else.

That knowledge, the safety it gave me, allowed all that was within me to soar in freedom. Relinquishing power frees a woman from her fear that her husband will abandon her or lose interest. And there, all responsibility ripped away, unchained by the shackles of panic and worry, I was free, utterly free.

Apparently impervious to my transfixed, insatiable stare, he helped me to my feet as well. Then, for the second time that night, he picked me up in his arms and carried me to our bedroom. We passed dark rooms but he had no need of light. Tired, floppy as a rag doll, I was held like a trophy in his arms. He carried himself straight, as if his bare feet were righteously traversing the Elysian Fields, not merely padding on the wooden floors of our earthly home.

"I think our bed is in need of a cleansing ritual, so be prepared for 'ennoblement' again."

"I'm sure I don't know what you mean," I said lazily, my heart at ease with satisfied love.

"Wasn't it that how you put it?"

"Oh, am I expected to remember everything now?"

"You truly are recalcitrant, Isabella. I obviously need to make sure I keep you well and properly fucked."

"It was about time you realized that. I was getting enough of all that virile stoicism!"

"Were you convinced by my nocturnal - and oh-so-artful, I might add, mise-en-scène, then?"

"You know, Edward, sometimes I don't believe you at all..."

"You are a very poor liar, my love."

"How much of it was real?" I asked, cautiously.

"You don't want to know that," came the answer, in a controlled, brooding way.

He was right. I didn't.

"You okay?"

"For now, suffice it to say that I've rid myself of the devil riding on my shoulder."

"The beast returned to its cave?"

"Not by itself. You chased it away."

He kissed me and placed me on our bed, wrapping me in a tender, warming embrace. His face was radiant; he looked at me with something fiercer than love, more visceral and pure. I watched him back, trying to picture him as an old man. His small wrinkles turned into creases. His body still lithe, well oiled, sleek. Still unbent. And somehow, becoming more beautiful, more desirable with every line, with every grey hair. Getting better with every passing year, like aging wine, as certain men do.

Sexiness wears thin in time, physical beauty fades... Would he look at me the same way as now? Would he still love me then? He and I both were ephemeral, like a steamy breath dissipating with reluctance on a cold morning. But maybe our love would make us both immortal, despite our less than perfect aging bones.

Hot lips on my temples, on my eyelids were efficient in restraining those unsettling, vagrant wanderings.

"Well, lesson learned?"

"I have perhaps learned more patience but I'd venture to guess that this virtue isn't on top of your list, either," I observed, impertinently, my lips only whispering over his.

"We shouldn't ignore the warning signs and a wise man admits when his time has run out. I'm sensitive enough and responsible enough to consider your feelings and put them before my urges. And sometimes this means giving in to my urges."

"That is just another way of saying that the control you pride yourself so deeply on, has broken, isn't it?!"

"Well, it looks like you're affecting me and I am not entirely displeased with the results," Edward admitted, heaving a sigh.

The sweet irony of the powerful male becoming powerless... What is more delicious than thinking you have undone your man? He had challenged me, vexed me, but also inspired me. I called forth his demons, I summoned them and absorbed them. I exorcised them with my crafty, sweet femininity. I was pleased with myself. From certain angles, there were splendid aspects about being a woman. I laughed lightly, a silly, carefree little laugh, feeling dizzy and lightheaded. From the bark of command to the sweetness of a sigh, his journey was now complete.

"I haven't heard that giggle in a while... What mischievous thought hides behind it?"

"I'm the winner, right? You said 'not tonight', and yet, here we are..."

"It's after midnight, love. All that you have won is a little silvery cup full of stardust."

"Says the man who lost all control of himself due to my charms..."

"Hmm... I guess we both have to lose before we can win. Sleep now, my feisty love."

Every love story is unique and has its own time line, the mystery within succulent. We still had so many layers to unravel in ours, surely more churnings and upheavals of romantic emotional intensity to face ahead of us. But under his wing, secure in my trust and our deep, abiding love for each other, I feared no more.

Still giggling, drunk on the musky scent of his skin, I let myself go in his arms. Under my right palm, his heart was beating vital, steady, comforting. That and his warm flesh made an exceptionally potent narcotic. My thoughts slowly tapered off and then, in the muted hours of darkness, I found my rest at last, on the shore of his body.


Final disclaimer: This story is not original; it's a mere compilation of things I loved over time in movies, books, songs or even other fics.

Thank you kindly for accompanying me in this journey! Ending it is such a sweet sorrow.