RESURRECTION

In hopes of calming my nerves, I dove into the warm Atlantic waters. I was confident in my love for Bella, but so fearful of her fragility. I was still fighting the nagging regret that I had made my new bride such a foolish and dangerous promise. My rational self reminded me that this was simply not safe. However, my heart simply could not deny her, my soul mate, my only love, my all. Now that the moment was upon us, I found it difficult to determine which was stronger– the thirst for her sweet blood, or the desire to consummate our marriage as husband and wife.

I suddenly felt short of breath. No logic in the feeling, a lingering habit of my former humanity, I drifted to the surface for air.

As I stood facing the vast ocean before me, a warm breeze carried her fragrance to me, and I knew at once that Bella had stepped beyond the confines of the bedroom. My body tensed with anticipation and I turned slightly, just in time to catch a quick glimpse at the very moment the towel slipped from her perfect figure, sliding gracefully around her as she draped it carefully over the tree next to my clothes. I had never seen anything so lovely in all of my existence. She was standing awkwardly, staring at my discarded articles of clothing, and I turned again before she was able to catch my eyes tracing the outline of her perfect form.

I could hear her cautious footsteps in the calm surf. The saltiness of the ocean only seemed to enhance her sweet aroma; the combination of scents was like nothing I had ever tasted before.

The fire in my throat ignited. Her blood singing louder than ever to me, my head wrapped in a sweet haze of desire for it.

Of course, I was anxious to see Bella, to hold her in my arms. I knew that one glimpse into her chocolate brown eyes would remind me of my overpowering love for her, and take my mind away from the unyielding need to take the life from her. She comforted me in ways I never thought possible. My mind drifted back to the first time I had tasted her sweet scent. That first moment in the biology lab at Forks High School seemed so distant now, and I barely recognized the man I had been then.

I waded in the waist-deep water, my palms skimming the surface, counting the seconds until she caught up with me. Her heart was racing, its speed increasing with each step as she inched closer to me in the gentle waves lapping at the shore. Though I could not hear her thoughts, I knew Bella would be nervous, having never exposed her body so openly to any man, much less to the monster that now stood waiting calmly to claim her life at any moment. Could she sense my own nervousness at being exposed and vulnerable for the first time? Suddenly I felt an overwhelming sense of calm at the warm touch of her hand against mine.

"Beautiful," she said. I could only assume she was speaking of the warm moonlit night that would remain with us for all of eternity.

"It's all right," I said, turning slowly to face her. She was staring up into the sky, likely gazing at stars that were never before visible to her human eyes. I took both of her hands in mine, and eventually her eyes fell to meet my gaze.

As I had fully expected, the warmth from Bella's stare radiated deep into my core– I felt strangely hopeful tonight that my soul was still intact. I could not believe that this much happiness could be bestowed upon a soulless being. A monster would never deserve this.

"But I wouldn't use the word beautiful," I said as I slowly took in every inch of her magnificent and vulnerable, fragile body. "Not with you standing here in comparison."

She smiled briefly, blushing, her pulse rising. She lifted her hand and held it to my chest as her breath quickened. The thirst roared inside me again.

I continued to hope that this struggle would not be such a challenge for me. I wished in vain that I could be human for this one night. I wanted so badly to be able to show her fully how very much I loved her, but I knew that would be impossible if I wanted to ensure her safety... I could not bare the thought of hurting her.

"I promised we would try," I whispered, worry beginning to consume my every thought as I considered what could–- or would– happen tonight.

"If I do something wrong, if I hurt you, you must tell me at once," I continued, my hands grasping her face to better see into her eyes. I wanted to make sure she understood completely the risks we were taking. I would never forgive myself if anything happened to my one true love, my other self, my Bella.

Never breaking our gaze, she nodded, and I knew that she understood. She was giving herself to me in that moment, trusting me completely, no fear in her eyes; even still, a second of doubt flashed in my mind. Was I worthy of her?

As if sensing my insecurity, Bella stepped closer toward me, closing the gap between us, laying her head on my chest.

"Don't be afraid," she assured me, "we belong together." I knew this to be true, and her unwavering confidence only helped to bolster my own. She was my soul mate, and I had waited what felt like centuries for this night, a night I had long since resigned myself to believing was always beyond my reach.

But here it was at last. I wrapped Bella tightly in my arms and agreed, "Forever."

I lifted her warm body to kiss her forehead, her cheek, her neck, her wanting lips, as I carried her deeper into the warm ocean. Her smooth legs wrapped firmly around my waist and I felt all of my measured control and inhibitions beginning to slip from my grasp.

I was suddenly aware of the burning in my throat as Bella's control also began to ebb and her kisses deepened. I fought to maintain control of the monster within me. I had made her this promise, it was all that she wanted from me, and I wanted to make sure it was everything she had dreamed. She broke away from my lips, nearly gasping for air as her heart fluttered. I could not take my eyes off of hers. They were filled with such longing, such desire, I knew that my own would be reflecting the same sentiment, and my mouth involuntarily pulled into a gentle smile to match her own. Finally. She was my wife.

I lifted her gently and cradled her in my arms, taking in her exquisite body in the bright glow of the moon. Her body, frail and beautiful in the dim light seemed to glow a pale alabaster. She was breathtaking. I held her gently with my left arm and brushed a lock of hair behind her ear. I looked down at her, taking in as much of her as I could. My right hand instinctively traveled slowly down her arm, and continued all the way down her left leg. I paused, briefly, and brought my hand back up the inside of her thigh. My hand paused just below her navel. Bella shivered, and I hoped this was a physical manifestation of her excitement rather than a reaction to my cool touch.

Our eyes met and she stared at me with anticipation. Without breaking our gaze, I began to take deliberate steps backwards, toward the house, as Bella tried to pull herself up to kiss me. No, I thought, I am not finished savoring this moment. I held her tighter with my left arm, restricting her motion, and smiled coyly at her. She narrowed her eyes, a bit frustrated, but I wanted to prolong these moments as long as I could. I traced down her right leg next, drawing circles around her knee, down her calf to her ankle. She shivered again as I slid my fingers up to her thigh. Again, I paused, my hand inches below her navel. My eyes eventually met hers once again, and I felt my lips curl involuntarily into a smile, overflowing with pride.

"Edward," she said impatiently. I smiled cunningly, but slowly set her down in the water that was a little more than waist-deep to her small frame. As I put her down, I brought my hand up her torso, slowly between her breasts, to her throat. My hand on the back of her neck, I pulled her toward me, kissing her deeply. Her hands reached desperately for me, so human, so uncontrollable, and I pulled away one last time.

"Spontaneous combustion, remember?" she playfully threatened. "You're killing me..."

"Well, that is the last thing I want to do, Bella," I responded, raising an eyebrow, and we were both silent for what seemed like hours. Even in the moonlight, I could see the flecks of red filling her cheeks, and I found myself forlorn at the idea that this trait that so endeared her to me would soon be lost by my own doing. I still hoped she would be reasonable, that she would agree to remain human for just a little while longer. I brushed her cheek with the back of my hand and they flushed pink once more.

"I held up my end of the bargain," she said. "It's your turn."

That's my Bella, I thought to myself. Stubborn as ever, she would never give in. There would be definite advantages to her becoming immortal, though. That was something I could not forget, especially in this moment.

I looked deeply into my love's eyes, and slowly moved my right hand from her cheek to her breast. Bella stared back, suddenly shy and full of uncertainty, but then smiled warmly as if to grant permission to my curiosity. I caressed her gently, and she took my left hand into hers and kissed the band of cold metal now encircling my third finger. I couldn't help but smile. She kissed each finger, working slowly from the knuckles to my fingertips, glancing up at me after each kiss. She then took my ring finger one more time, and lightly brushed her tongue along the length of it. When she reached the tip, she closed her mouth on my finger.

It was unendurable. I had never felt such a sensation in all my life. I was taken aback, suddenly filled with uncertainty where my control had been before. I let her continue for a few seconds, but I couldn't maintain my cool composure any longer. I cupped her head in my hands, and less tenderly than I ever had before, I lifted Bella's head to the side and pressed my lips feverishly on the base of her throat, kissing wildly, suddenly overcome with desire to allow my lips to part, to bare my teeth, to sink them into her warm flesh and, after so long, to finally taste the very essence of her.

Bella tensed in my arms. "I'm ready," she whispered. Ready for what? I wondered. Was she somehow aware of my sudden inner turmoil?

I fought back the urge to change her in that very moment, her tiny voice somehow bringing me back to my senses long enough to remember that I needed the love of my sweet, human Bella more than I wanted to taste her blood, to end her life.

I picked her up, and again, she wrapped her legs around my waist. We kissed– desperate, breathless kisses– as I carried her out of the dark waters and onto the white, sandy beach. I took the towel from the tree where she had left it and spread it neatly on the sand. Still holding my love, I knelt on the edge, then carefully set her down on the soft towel. Bella let go of me long enough to lay back, but her longing eyes only left mine briefly, as she surveyed my body, blushing deeply at first, and then smiling with consent.

She held her hand out to me, inviting me to join her. I took her palm and kissed it tenderly. My lips slowly made their way up her arm until they met hers, and I hovered over her as we began kissing, slowly at first, the pace quickening within seconds, Bella's breathing following suit. At first, her warm hands found their usual home behind my neck, tousling my hair, but it wasn't long before I felt them travel down my back until they grasped at my waist, attempting to pull me closer to her. Bella's human "strength" could never have moved me even an inch on its own, but I was more than willing to oblige. I lowered my body onto hers, but the desire pulsing through my granite frame kept me from being as gentle as I could have been. Bella wrapped her legs around me, the warmth of them surprising me, giving me pause.

I pulled my head away from hers ever so slightly and stared intently into her eyes. "Are you sure, Bella?" I asked her, wanting to be a gentleman but desperately needing her to say yes. At this point, I was experiencing things I had never felt, and the build up was so intense that I was not sure I could stop, if, by chance, she had second thoughts.

But this was Bella, and she had been ready for this night since our first kiss. "Yes, Edward, please..." she said with a breathless longing I had never heard in her voice before.

Even though my passion for her was beyond measure, I knew that I needed to proceed slowly, with caution and restraint. Knowing that it would be painful for her, and wanting to avoid any extra pain that my strength may inflict on her fragile, human body, I started, "If I hurt you–"

"Edward!" she interrupted, impatient. I sighed as one corner of my mouth lifted slightly. I adored this woman, my wife. I leaned down and kissed her again, attempting to distract her, relax her. It seemed to work. I moved upwards and kissed her forehead as I slowly made contact, and pushed ever so slightly. Bella's body became tense, and her breathing ceased with a gasp.

I pulled back to look into her eyes as I stroked her hair. "Breathe, Bella," I reminded her. In a simple exchange of glances, she told me to continue.

I pushed again, and she quietly whimpered, but tightened her hold on me with her arms. I was again uncertain about whether or not I should go on, but her lips pressed against mine forcefully, convincing me that she was all right. I inhaled deeply between kisses, then continued.

It was staggering. Extraordinary.

I let go of any self-doubt I had, any conflicted feelings of this night, and let my newly discovered instincts take over. It may have been the first time in my life that I did not hear a single thought– not even my own. The night was quiet, as if the world held its breath in anticipation of what was being exchanged between us in that moment. The only sound was that of Bella's quick, expectant breathing. She loosened her grasp on me, and slid her fingertips up my back.

I felt my last bit of control slip away; for the first time I had no control with her– I had no choice in the matter. I could not compare any hunting instinct to the urges I felt now. This passion was beyond anything I ever could have imagined.

Suddenly, I felt the unmistakable feeling of fire again, not from my thirst for her, but from the touch of her soft, warm skin on my own. As her hands moved down my back, I felt trails of fire in their wake that I had never before experienced.

"Edward!" she called out to me, possibly more than once, but her words were merely in the periphery of my consciousness. I found her neck and kissed it, fiercely, just below her ear, and I could feel the venom beginning to swell in my mouth. The taste of it brought me back to reality; reminded me of this fragile person beneath me; allowed me to hear her voice; forced me to open my eyes, alerting me to the single tear that had emerged from the corner of one of her own.

"Bella?" I asked, deathly afraid of what I had done to her to make her cry. Did I hurt her? Was she asking me to stop? Did I bite her? I quickly rolled onto my side, to inspect her body in full, to make sure there were no serious injuries. I saw nothing out of the ordinary, but she didn't answer.

"I'm sorry, Bella. Is something wrong?" Had I scared her, upset her? Was this it? The moment I had prayed for countless times, yet silently hoped would never come? Was she finally afraid of me?

She sniffled and quickly wiped the tear from her face. "Are you hurt?"

"I'm okay," she said, her voice trembling just enough for me to notice it.

"Bella, I'm so sorry," I said again, kissing her temple where the tear had once been, then brushing my lips over her cheek and forehead. I knew I had hurt her, but she would never admit it.

"I'm fine," she said with a weak smile, but the tenseness in her breathing betrayed her.

"Did I frighten you?" I asked, the familiar self-loathing returning. It all happened so quickly that I was not even sure of the details. Everything seemed cloudy, which was a frightening thought for a creature who saw the world more clearly than the vast majority. I stood up and grabbed my pants from the tree and quickly pulled them on, walking with my back to her as I stared out at the emptiness of the vast ocean before me. I felt like such a monster. I was repulsed with myself. How could I be so selfish? How could I allow myself to engage in this pleasure when the one I loved was hurting? When I was hurting her? "I lost control, Bella..."

I couldn't even look at her I was so ashamed.

"Edward," she pleaded. "You didn't scare me."

"Well, then, what?" I asked, still avoiding her gaze.

"Yes, Edward, okay, it hurt a little. I'm pretty sure it's supposed to the first time," she said. "I don't have anything to compare it to, but I'm pretty sure this is normal."

I turned around and went to her as she started to stand up, stumbling a bit. Steadying her, I helped wrap the towel around her and took her face in my hands. "Bella, I am sorry," I repeated.

"Please stop apologizing," she said, craning her neck to kiss me. My eyes closed, my lips remained motionless as I allowed her short, desperate kiss. Her soft caress only made me want her more, but the mere thought of causing her any more pain kept me from kissing her back. I had crossed a line before. I couldn't do that to her again.

"I'm fine, really. Better than fine, actually... I'm just a little... emotional, I guess. It was so... intimate. I've never felt closer to anyone."

"Bella, I just wanted it to be wonderful– for both of us."

"It was, Edward!" she insisted.

"I made you cry, Bella! And I didn't even take notice until... oh, Bella, it was completely irresponsible of me!"

"Edward, stop!" she cried, and held her finger over my lips. "I love you. I love you more in this instant than I ever have."

"Why?" I asked, turning to walk toward the house, confused. Once again, I found myself wishing in futility that I could hear her thoughts. Even now, I did not always understand her reactions to things, and I desperately wanted to comprehend the meaning behind her words tonight.

"You let go, Edward," she spoke after me. "You allowed yourself to be completely free– with me. I wasn't sure I'd ever get to see this side of you, you've always been so guarded and cautious. You gave me what I wanted, don't you see?"

I stopped walking and turned around. I looked at her with more love than I thought myself capable. "You're too generous, Bella. I wanted it to be... as... pleasurable for you... as it was for me," I admitted.

She grinned and raised an eyebrow. "So, you did enjoy it?"

"It wasn't obvious?" I asked, looking down at the ground, feeling more embarrassed than ashamed as the memories became clearer.

"I just wanted you to tell me," she said. "Tell me what you liked most," she continued as she walked over to me and put her hands on my waist, pressing her lips to my chest. Her hands grazed my abdomen as she slowly began to unfasten my pants. I was instantly distracted as my stomach quivered, leaping wildly within my body, a sensation I had never felt before this night. Suddenly my mind snapped back into focus as I felt the warm pressure of her lips against my cool skin, just below my navel.

"Bella," I said with hesitation as I moved her fingers away to re-secure my pants. "I don't know..."

"I do, Edward, I know what I want," she said. "Show me what you liked." She took my finger and kissed it again, in the same seductive way she did before, when she had set my mind spinning the first time. It was just as sensual and maddening now as it had been then, but I was still unsure, and it showed in my eyes.

"I want to try again," she stated, her words almost a command. Her boldness was intriguing, inviting, but I was still torn. I could now see how easy it would be to hurt her, to actually hurt her. But I also wanted her now more than ever. She could sense my wavering.

She sighed and walked past me as she ambled into the house. As she moved away from me, she pulled her still damp hair to one side, exposing her long supple neck. A few feet beyond the threshold, the towel unfurled from around her perfect figure and wound slowly to the floor with the sway of her hips. She continued forward and slunk onto the large, white bed like a great lioness stalking her prey. She stretched out on her stomach atop of the soft comforter, propping herself up on her elbows and resting her chin in her cupped hands. She crossed her silky legs in the air, and I could not take my eyes off of her.

"Mr. Cullen," she sang with a sly sideways glance.

I recognized that my judgment was cloudy in the drunken haze of her essence, and I still worried for her safety. The battle raged inside of me, but in the end, I knew which side I wanted to win. I held on to the door frame, although the electricity between us was pulling me, unconsciously, to her. I took one last breath, breathing in the heady smell of her sweet blood that had now infused in every corner of the confined bedroom. I inhaled deeply, the fire raging up and down my throat suffocating me, reacquainting me with the familiar burn that I had learned to control since I met her. In my current state, the desire to give Bella everything she wanted overtook my bloodlust for her.

Her very presence was intoxicating. She was the sun that gives light, the wind that gives breath, the source of my love, eternal. She was my everything. I was completely overcome as I took one step into the bedroom, one step closer to this woman that I wanted. My doubt was overthrown by her poise, and I could not resist her allure any longer.

Our gaze turned more intense, deeper, her eyes drawing me in further, and in that fraction of a second, I was undone. All the uncertainty and fear washed away in that last glimpse. I took advantage of my inhuman speed, for I felt I couldn't get to her fast enough. I wanted to hold her soft body in my arms, and I wanted her now.

My love for Bella was already boundless, but this seductress side of her– which I had caught only brief glimpses of until now– unearthed new emotions that awakened a part of myself that I had never before known. She seemed so confident, so bold, so strong...

She met me at the edge of the bed, arms outstretched, my lips succumbing to the warm, impassioned kisses that greeted me. Her arms pulled me closer to her, her hands fondling my hair, mine in hers. The kiss was like nothing we had ever shared before. I fell victim to her temptation and no longer had the will to stop.

Bella gasped desperately for air. As she inhaled, her head fell back slightly, exposing her throat, barely covered by her transparent skin. I was drawn to it, crushing my lips against it, breathing her scent, listening to her pulse quicken. As her hands dropped to my shoulders, my own worked out of control to remove the clothing that now came between my body and hers. I wanted nothing to separate us in this moment.

Swiftly and with little effort, I grasped her by the waist and moved onto the bed with her. With my arms behind her back and my lips never leaving hers, I laid her back against the billowy feather pillows. As my body hovered over hers, I broke away from her kiss. I could not believe that this angel was mine. I smiled and stared into her eyes, hoping that she could read every emotion they were conveying. I loved her passionately and wanted her desperately. There was no doubt in my mind anymore, I wanted only one thing now, to love Bella as a husband loves his wife.

"You are so beautiful, Mrs. Cullen," I spoke softly as I brushed her cheek with my cold finger, eliciting the enticing blush that always managed to throw me off balance. The smell of her blood made me feel even more alive– if that was at all possible. Bella's heart raced as her eyes caught mine and held me captive in their gaze.

"Thank you, Edward," she breathed.

I kissed her again and slowly drew her arms over her head, holding them in my firm grasp as my lips found her ear and my tongue began to trace its way down her neck until it reached the gentle slope of her collarbone. The sensation burned my throat, but that fire could not compete with what I was feeling– the feeling that my entire being was ablaze with desire for her.

My eyes left hers as I admired her figure and I was inundated with possibilities. Which part of her warm skin would I first excite with my cool lips? I didn't want to miss nary an inch of her body. My icy touch would initially bring a chill to the surface, but it was the warmth that spread after, making Bella's pulse race, that awakened long-dormant human urges in me. I was suddenly overcome with emotion; had I a heart, it would have burst; had I the need to breathe, it would have ceased.

Her red lips invited me in, parted in anticipation of my kiss. They were soft and supple, warm to the touch, and I pressed against them vigorously, drinking in her essence, a bouquet of lavender and freesia. When she broke away to breathe, I took advantage of their absence and began my exploration of the totality of her exquisite body, starting at the base of her neck, the part of Bella that typically cried out for me the loudest. Tonight, it seemed her entire form was screaming out to me.

As I sojourned further, my arms traced her body lightly with my arms as my lips traveled down her breast, her torso, her abdomen. She was more than content to let me investigate, as each kiss amplified her breathing and sent her heart rate soaring. Her mind was still a mystery to me, but her body communicated its satisfaction with every touch. My keen senses could relish in these subtle signals more than any mortal would ever be able to enjoy. It was a symphony of sound, fragrance, visions that put even the finest, most complex work of art to shame.

I had no idea what this would feel like as a human, but it could not be better than the intense pleasure I was feeling now. It encompassed every ounce of my being, all of my senses engulfed in each second we were together.

"I love you, Bella," I professed with intensity I had never before heard in my own voice. My lips frolicked around her navel, then quickly skipped to explore her thighs. I took a quick breath, testing the air around me, and for a brief moment, I wasn't sure I had the strength to fend off the monster in me. She was more vulnerable now than I had ever seen her. The venom resurfaced, but as her arm gently brushed mine, I felt her warmth against my body. I heard the rhythm of her enraptured heart. I remembered her deep, chocolate brown eyes. I was at once reminded of all the attributes that endeared her to me, and more than anything, I wanted to protect them, keep them alive in her, savor them for all of eternity. Once again giving over to my human desires, knowing that she was safe from the predator within, I proceeded cautiously, nervously, but confident that she would approve.

I moved my hands to her waist, and as my kiss, my touch, explored unfamiliar areas, Bella took a quick, surprised breath and her body tensed, briefly. She stopped breathing momentarily, but exhaled slowly as her fingers playfully ran through my hair. My lips found their intended destination, and I hoped that their cool touch would only enhance her exhilaration. I kissed her gently, even though I had unintentionally stumbled upon the one part of Bella's body that called to me more than her throat. At the moment, I was too fascinated with my current agenda to even consider my bloodlust.

"Oh, my God," she blurted, somewhat incoherently. Her hands released my hair, her right hand desperately kneading the white comforter, the left one reaching for the headboard, gripping it tightly. The blood coursed through her body frenetically, her heart pulsating as if asking for more. Tonight, I would give her everything she desired.

I didn't need to read her mind to know her exhilaration. I held her firmly as her body began to writhe in ways I had never seen before. Her back arched as a lone hand found my hair again, and sporadically knotted my hair between its fingers, pulling gently. I paused for the briefest of moments to glance up at her face, reveling in her expression of complete euphoria. My eyes would have been content to gaze upon her for hours, but I could sense that her body was aching for more.

Knowing that I could evoke such delight in her brought me immediate gratification, and the hunger in me raged. Her breaths became short, fast, uneven; each one more audible than the last, the latter ones coupled with soft moans. The grasp on my hair was tight, pulling, and I peeked to see her left fist clenched on the headboard as I felt her toes curl, her feet skimming my back.

"Edward!" she pleaded, breathless, at last summoning me, pulling my face up to meet her gaze. I was unable to hide my broad smile, and I kissed my way back up her body, slowly, until our eyes met, inches from each other, and she grasped my neck impatiently and pulled me toward her, a frenzy of caresses erupting from her burning lips. I laughed quietly, delighting in her excitement, this seductive tigress giving way to the youthful exuberance of a kitten having taken its first steps.

This kitten, this fragile creature, had never wanted me more. Her desire and need became my own, my throat finding particular flavor in her delicacy. My light-hearted smile became menacing as dark thoughts raced through my mind. She was entirely dependent on me in this moment, a blessing and a curse. She was tempting me with each kiss, and my mouth was swimming with poison, ready to strike. I fought for control, the battle between man and vampire becoming a full-scale war as I was suffocated with her sweet smell. I felt my humanity slipping away with each breath.

Her hands grasped my face, startling me, bringing me back into the present moment, her steady gaze providing the sanity needed to erase my twisted thoughts. Her eyes were the window to her soul, and that one look was all I needed to break me free of the uncertainty. In this moment, she had been in control again; in control when I couldn't be.

"Make love to me, Edward," she demanded. Her pleading eyes, her subtle pout, her suggestive touch all over my body, these things were not necessary to convince me of what I wanted. Not a single part of me did not want to be joined, connected, entwined with Bella.

Swelling with love for this woman, I kissed her gently, passionately. She wound her legs around mine and grazed my calves, my thighs, with her soft toes. Her hands clung to my back as her mouth moved from my lips to my jawline, to my neck. Her teeth skimmed my ear and tugged gently, yet another unexpected maneuver that ignited the fire in me.

Her heart was pounding against my chest, and as I sensed her giving in to her own innate wants, all of my good intentions fell by the wayside. The passionate urges grew beyond my control. I couldn't maintain any sense of self-restraint anymore, and I slid my arms under her back to pull her as close to me as possible, her body now welcoming me easily. As we joined together perfectly, her warm figure tensed again, ever so slightly, but one glance into her eyes told me that I dare not stop, and I felt her body relax, granting me entrance to an experience like no other.

I continued, pulling myself to her, repeatedly, taking breaths with each one of hers, not for the need of oxygen, but rather to taste the perfume of her body mixing with the warm summer air. The venom was thick, the burn in my throat potent.

Again, my instincts took over, and as close as we were, I still needed to grasp her tighter. I couldn't get enough of her. When the burning in my stomach came again, and again, I felt the need to hold on to her for dear life, and no matter where my grip settled on her body– her bare shoulders, her soft arms, her smooth back, her slender waist– I still could not bring her close enough to satiate my desire. The venom flowed freely in my mouth and the need to release it was nearly too much to bear. I will not be a monster. Bella's throat beckoned me further. I will not be a monster. It was so loud, her pulse so frantic, so desperately wanting me.

I will not hurt her!

She called my name again, repeatedly, small gasps between each excited utterance. My throat was ablaze, the fire raging all throughout my body and reflecting off of hers in waves. I was simultaneously overcome with my desire for Bella's blood and the unexpected jolt of electricity that erupted from deep within me, radiating outward across my body at the same moment. It felt as if I was having an out-of-body experience. As she threw her head to the side, the air escaping from her lungs in a breathy sigh, I closed my eyes and felt my teeth strike with reckless abandon.

I struck multiple times between labored breaths, tasting the air curiously. The sensation was a relief to me, but the result was not as I would have expected. There was no warm flow of sweet blood. Although the human part of me was completely consumed with the euphoria of the moment, the vampire in me was malcontent.

Confused, my head in a fog, the sensation was not like that of other humans I had bitten before. It was softer, easier to penetrate... feathery? And it didn't taste like Bella.

Bella! I thought, panic briefly interrupting my clouded thoughts. As my wide and horrified eyes regained focus, I realized I had taken a bite out of the soft pillow, scattering feathers. Seeing my wife's beautiful skin unblemished forced me to sigh loudly and I buried my face in her neck as she remained oblivious to the inherent danger.

Relief washed over me, but within seconds her pulse awakened the passion once again, swiftly sweeping me back into my constant state of nirvana. My lips found refuge in hers once again as I loosened my hold on her and stroked her hair. We moved together rhythmically as I gazed into her eyes, never losing focus, never wanting to look away. I saw such a wide range of emotions flood through them. It was an insight into Bella, much like her dreams had always been to me.

"Are you okay?" I whispered to her, continuing to pulse steadily with her gradual tempo, not breaking our stare. I wondered if she would be tired by now, although I knew I could keep going, night and day, a wonderful, newly-discovered advantage to being a vampire. How I hoped she wouldn't be tired!

Her heart jumped at the sound of my voice. "I could get used to this," she replied, smiling, finishing her sentence by smothering me with kisses. "I don't know... how it is for you... but I don't think... it could top... what I'm feeling," she said between breaths.

"I was thinking the same thing, Bella... I had no idea it would be this euphoric... perhaps you should have agreed to marry me sooner..." I teased, pushing just a little harder.

She exhaled briskly, then laughed. She shifted her hips slightly, but it was enough that I finally felt like it would be impossible for me to get any closer to her.

I inhaled sharply, moving my hand to her soft breast, and I couldn't help but accelerate the pace, pushing harder still, especially when she started to respond again with her quick, uneven breathing that brought the flames back to my entire body.

Wanting to see more of my Bella, and without allowing our bodies to separate, I rolled over onto my back and pulled her on top of me. I inhaled deeply, still wanting to feel the burn that often tortured me because it also heightened all of my other senses. I couldn't take my gaze off of her perfect form. Bella was stunning, her cheeks rosy, her eyes seducing me, her hair in beautiful disarray, dotted with feathers.

She smiled, and the only thing I could see in that instant was love. Pure, confident, unyielding, all-consuming love. I sat up so I could again hold her in my arms and kiss her sweet lips. As she moved gently, in sync with her slow breathing, I found myself– again– at the mercy of my instincts. No one could have prepared me for this. My body undulated with hers steadily, and I couldn't help but call out her name as the passion grew inside of me once again. I held her face in my hands, tightly, and kissed her roughly until the waves of desire overtook her.

Bella's head sloped backward with the arch of her back, her hair cascading to the bed. The fire in me still raging, I wrapped my hands around her back to help steady her, and I kissed her breasts gently. Our bodies moved simultaneously with each tender kiss, and the passion seemed to ignite a swelling inferno that burned deeper, more steadily than the other times. I held my breath in anticipation, wanting to prolong this forever, the intensity growing exponentially with every second that passed. A small breath escaped from my lips as I could no longer contain the roaring flames within the confines of my own body.

"Edward," she interrupted, catching her breath, exhaling in bursts. She continued pressing her lips to mine, but her pace began to slow. When my mind became clearer, I saw her fatigued eyes, and I remembered that my love was still human. It was possible that Bella might be tired... likely exhausted. My astute vision had already sensed the growing light in the windows, a faint warning of the sun's approach. Her lethargy was in stark contrast to my immortal stamina. There was nothing human about how my body reacted to Bella's powerful lure, to her touch. My response to her was constant, ceaseless, always wanting more. Surprisingly, I took great pleasure in knowing that we would have all of eternity to continue this night, to add to its memories or create entirely new ones.

"Yes, love?" I answered.

She gave no verbal response; she only blinked at me, sheepishly, seemingly intoxicated. Her translucent lids fell halfway over her eyes, and her lips, forming a perfect smile, looked oddly swollen. I was beaming with admiration for this woman who truly was my perfect match. I smiled back at her, and let out a small burst of laughter and kissed her once on her weary forehead, once on each blushing cheek, and finally once on her lips. I laid her down on the pillows again, and when her eyes closed, I kissed each one softly.

"Sleep, my love," I whispered quietly. Her wandering hand reached for my face, and I placed it against my cheek, kissing her palm tenderly.

"Don't go," she said, unable to open her eyes any longer. I smiled at the foolishness of her request. I couldn't leave her if I tried. I wouldn't. I was hers for all of time.

"Never..." I breathed, my voice full of devotion. "I love you, Bella."

I laid back, and pulled her to my side. As she nuzzled closely in my arm, I tucked the comforter around us, not wanting to be parted from her warm skin, but knowing she would soon be cold in my wintery grasp. I kissed her forehead again as she surrendered to her dreams, the smile never leaving her face.

I knew I should refrain from caressing her too much, not wanting to wake her, but I couldn't keep my hands from continuing to survey her bare skin. I had imagined this night for too long, and I didn't want it to end. I was content just holding her, touching her gently, her body a constant reminder that she was mine, forever.

EPILOGUE

Curiously, I noticed that her fragrance seemed more potent this morning than I had remembered. I ran my hand across Bella's arm while she slept. I thought I felt a slight bump, and in that same area, her skin felt slightly warmer. Intrigued, I lifted the comforter to inspect her limb further.

There were five, small red welts on her arm. As I looked more closely, I realized that the marks aligned perfectly with each of my fingers. I was terrified. When had this happened? I felt horrible... horrible that it happened in the first place, but even worse that she didn't tell me. I put my cold hand over the welts, in hopes of reducing the swelling. I began to rearrange the comforter to cover her body again.

It was in that moment that I noticed other marks, bruises, welts on her body. It was no wonder her scent was so strong. All over her body, her blood was pooling just below the surface of her translucent skin.

I carefully placed her on the tattered pillow and examined her closely as she slept. I started at her feet and worked my way up gradually. A purple blotch marred her leg, just below her knee. A patch of large bruises discolored her thighs, the same thighs I had kissed lovingly mere hours ago before I took her, recurrently, where I had experienced so much pleasure– pleasure that now turned to disgust. More splotches were evident on both sides of her waist, where I had tried to pull her closer to me, obviously with too much force. There were even more on her arms, and they were definitely worse on her shoulders where I had held on to her, finding support in those extreme times when I was selfishly overcome with the fire inside of me.

Her neck was red, raw, almost. I sank as I saw the green shadow forming on her cheekbone and I noticed the slightest bit of perspiration on her brow. Bella suddenly became restless, grasping for me. I was afraid to touch her anymore. I had done enough damage.

"Edward, I'm hot," she mumbled, and I wasn't sure if she was asleep or awake. She began to roll toward me, her eyes closed, and I laid back as I carefully helped her climb onto my cool chest where she sighed heavily and eventually retired to sleep peacefully. From this view, I could see more dark bruises forming on her back. They were taunting me, reminding me of the monster that I had so clearly been the entire time. I traced them lightly, and eventually just let my arms wrap around her, wishing that my embrace could somehow heal her wounds.

Why hadn't she said anything to stop me? Why had she let me continue, over and over again, when I was so obviously wounding her?

What was I thinking? I couldn't blame her for this, it was all my doing. Why didn't I take a few seconds to really take in the details of her body? If I wasn't so wrapped up in my own gratification, I would surely have noticed the marks sometime during the night, and I would have stopped immediately. I was tormented as I relived the events in my mind, paying particular attention to each mark on her body, trying to remember what I did to put them there. Of course, my mind was not clear on the details, so I was resigned to accept that it was the culmination of all things that led to her multiple contusions. Everything that I had found unspeakable pleasure in had hurt Bella. I had the urge to be sick, even though it wasn't something I could do anymore in my current, repulsive, undead state. Monster, I repeated in my head. I was egotistical and insane to have agreed to this.

I laid there in shock, continuing to outline the bruises I could see, noticing the minute changes in them, growing darker, getting larger every second. Eventually, the shame I felt kept me from looking at her body at all. I stared beyond the canopy over the bed, and began to confess my sins of this night to a god I wasn't sure would even acknowledge me– especially now.

I asked for forgiveness, though not from this god, but I prayed that Bella would somehow absolve me for what I had done to her. How could I let this happen?

It was simple. I lost control with her. I did something I knew would be dangerous going into our wedding night, but I had foolishly and selfishly convinced myself that I would be strong enough, coherent enough, attentive enough to keep her safe from harm. I was defeated. I had been none of those things, and I had caused her harm.

I didn't know that I could feel anything as strong as my love for Bella... but in the hours that I waited for my love to awaken– so I could gauge how severe the injuries were– the hate I felt for myself was just as powerful.