Author's Note: Hi! If you're still with me, thank you. As we get closer to the end of this story, there are only a few more things to cover. My gratitude to Caius09 who beta'd this sucker, and whose insights were invaluable. She also fixed my typos, so all remaining errors are mine. When we last left Edward and his Bella, they were pretty blissed out after their bath. This new chapter takes them on a trip to Seattle, and some family discussions. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: As always, Stephenie Meyer is the Queen Bee and I simply play in her sandbox. Twilight and its characters are hers, not mine. This story's plot and the words within however are mine, so please don't steal.


19. Family Ties

You calm the storms and you give me rest
You hold me in your hands
You won't let me fall
You steal my heart and you take my breath away
Would you take me in, take me deeper now
And how can I stand here with you and not be moved by you
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this

Cause you're all I want, you're all I need
You're everything, everything

Lifehouse - Everything

ooo~~~OOO~~ooo

"Oh, can Jasper and I come too, please?" Alice squealed the next morning when I entered the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee. Edward was still upstairs after having insisted on cleaning up the bathroom which was still a little under water from our bath the night before. Apparently, he hadn't moved from the bed after I had fallen asleep, which surprised me a little, though it shouldn't have. In all the time in Chicago, he had lain beside me while I slept, unwilling to let me out of his arms.

I hadn't slept this well in a very long time.

"Are we going somewhere? And good morning to you, Alice."

"Yes, good morning, sleepyhead," she waved off my greeting. "Edward wants to take you to Seattle."

"I know. We talked about that last night." I smiled, remembering our time in the tub, before focusing on the hyper vampire next to me who looked at me me hopeful eyes.

"If it's alright with Edward, I'd love for you and Jasper to come with us." I poured myself a cup of coffee and moved to the refrigerator for the creamer I'd come to love.

While Alice squee'd her pleasure at the invitation, Rosalie entered the kitchen from the garage and plopped down in the chair next to me. "Hey, Bella."

"Hi, Rosalie."

"Emmett and I went to get your truck this morning. It's a disaster, and the parts I need have to be ordered."

"Uhm, okay..."

"It shouldn't take me too long to fix it up. So, what's this I hear about Seattle?" She grinned. "Emmett's very interested. He's gone hunting with Jasper, but they'll be back soon."

I sipped my coffee before answering, still not used to her open acceptance of me.

"Oh, Edward mentioned last night that maybe we could spend the day there. You know, just walk around, shop a little, browse the bookstores, that sort of thing. Did you want to come with us?"

"Shut up, Edward," she responded to something he must have said from upstairs, rolling her eyes at the ceiling. "I'm talking to Bella, and if she wants us to come along, what are you going to do about it?"

Edward appeared beside me without warning. I nearly sloshed the hot coffee over my hand, but his reflexes were faster, and he took the cup from me before I could burn myself.

"Sorry, love." He glared at Rosalie.

"Well?" she challenged him. "Alice said the weather would cooperate the day after tomorrow. Just imagine, Edward – an outing with all your siblings. Won't that be fun?"

I took my cup back from his hand and sipped coffee quietly, interested in seeing how this little spat would play out.

"Loads of fun, no doubt," Edward replied. "Bella doesn't have to agree, and I won't have you badgering her into saying yes. I'm sure you'll understand if we want to go alone."

"But Edward," Alice piped up. "We want to spend time with Bella, too. Look, it really will be so much fun. And we can even take two cars, since you'll want to sta-"

"Alice! If you don't mind, that was going to be a surprise."

"Bella hates surprises," Rosalie said with a smirk. "You of all people should know that."

"Bella is right here and perfectly capable of talking for herself." I snorted into my coffee cup when three sets of eyes landed on me.

"I love you, Edward. Thank you for making sure I get a choice in the matter. Alice, if Edward is planning a surprise for me, kindly keep it to yourself. And Rosalie, how about a compromise? We can all go, hang out for a while and then Edward and I will go off on our own for a few hours. I think that might suit everyone, would you agree?"

Rosalie looked at me with appraising eyes. Alice clapped her hands, a huge smile on her face. Edward groaned in defeat.

"Perfect," Alice said. "We'll leave at eight."

I turned to Edward and pulled him toward me by his shirt. He buried his head into the crook of my neck, his lips pressing gentle kisses onto my skin, as his arms wrapped around me.

"Excellent," Rosalie said, granting me a smile. "Oh, Bella?"

"Hhmm?"

"Call me Rose."

I stared in surprise as she winked at me before she disappeared back into the garage.

Edward borrowed Emmett's Jeep to drive over to my father's house so we could move the rocking chair to our cottage.

"That was a very nice gesture you extended to my siblings," he said as we were pulling away from the house. "You didn't have to invite them."

"I don't mind, Edward. They were instrumental in getting us back together, and I'm very grateful that they drove me all the way to Chicago."

He grasped my hand and pulled it to his lips. "Yes. Forgive me. I'm selfish and want you all to myself."

I smiled and leaned my head against his shoulder. "I know you don't share well."

Edward huffed. "That's not true."

"Isn't it? Tell me, when is the last time someone else drove the Volvo? Or the Vanquish, for that matter? Or you let someone other than me touch your CD collection? Or the piano?"

I suppressed a smile in the ensuing silence. My Edward didn't like to share, and he knew it just as well as I did.

"It's just a couple of hours," I soothed. "Will you tell me the surprise you have planned?"

"Well, let's just say that you'll need to pack an overnight bag." Edward replied. "Nothing fancy. We're not seeing an opera this time."

"In that case, perhaps I should let Alice pack my bag, since she's seen what we'll be doing. I trust her not to go overboard."

Two seconds later, my phone lit up with a text message.

Thank you! - A.

I laughed, showing it to Edward. "Still watching closely, I see."

He snorted. "I'm not surprised."

After parking the Jeep in front of the Cullen house, Edward pulled the rocking chair from the back and grabbed my hand.

"Let's put it in its rightful spot," he said as I giggled and let him pull me along the path to the cottage. Once he had put the chair in the corner of our new bedroom, he stood back to admire it. I moved to the bed to lie down, and he took he hint, sitting down in the chair, watching me watching him.

"This feels like old times," he mused as I smiled. "I sat in this chair so many nights while you slept."

"Before or after we got together?"

"Both," he admitted with a sheepish smile. "Even though you'd fall asleep in my arms, there were many times I had to move off the bed lest I ravish you. Resisting the temptation was very difficult, my darling girl. Your soft skin, the hot puffs of breath that warmed me from the outside in, the trust you showed by falling asleep next to a vampire, knowing your blood sings for me, the little moans that fell from your lips..."

He trailed off, his eyes traveling up and down my body. I tried valiantly not to blush but it was to no avail. His heated gaze made me feel desired and beautiful, and I wanted nothing more in that moment than have him get up to lie beside me.

"I remember every word you said in your sleep. Most of it was garbled and didn't always make sense, but every so often, you'd snuggle closer and murmur my name, sighing with content when I pulled you more tightly against me."

A strangled noise came from my throat. His eyes flashed to mine, and then, as if he'd read my mind, his lanky form was pressed against me from chest to toe, his hands roaming my back when his lips found mine.

Since I didn't want him to feel left out, my hands moved to his hair, grasping fistfuls and pulling him down to me. He pulled my leg across his hip and then cupped my behind firmly, growling deep in his chest.

All coherent thought forgotten, we kissed for what felt like hours after which my lips were swollen and Edward's hair was in even more disarray than usual, something Emmett saw fit to comment on when we finally made it back to the main house for lunch.

"Your lips are a bit puffy there, li'l sis. Did you get stung by a bee? Nice do, Edward." He winked and then laughed uproariously. Edward snarled while I snorted.

"Jealous, Emmett? Does it make you feel inferior to know that Edward satisfies me in every way?" I wasn't quite sure where my courage had come from, but it got a boost when Edward laughed loudly at Emmett's stunned face.

"Well, I'll be...what...no, it doesn't. Rose makes me a very happy man."

"Are you sure?" I teased. "Considering you're so very interested in what Edward and I do in the bedroom, you must be missing something from your own. Poor Rosalie."

Emmett was still sputtering when I walked toward the kitchen to fix a sandwich, a wide grin on my face. Edward's love gave me the confidence I'd needed, and shutting up my soon-to-be brother felt amazing. His face showed pride, as he grinned at me and gave me a thumbs up.

"Good job, Bella," Rose yelled from the garage where she was apparently still tinkering with the truck.

"Thanks, Rose," I said before focusing on my lunch.

"Have you or Carlisle heard from Sam?" I addressed Edward as I put the plate in the sink. "Did he go over to the rez last night? I meant to ask sooner but someone distracted me."

"Someone, huh? I assure you, the distraction was mutual," he murmured before dropping a kiss on my forehead. "To answer your question, yes, he did. Sam called him shortly after they got to Jacob's house, and Seth escorted him from the border. He's set the bones again, and with a few days rest, Jacob should be fine. Billy even thanked him, knowing full well that it was me this time who'd injured his son, and apologized for what he called hot-headedness. Carlisle thinks, and I agree, that the tribe is a bit worried we'll retaliate for what could be considered an unprovoked attack."

"Not that you would," I said, "right?"

"No, of course not. Billy told Carlisle that they would be sending Jacob to live with his sister in Hawaii for a while as soon as he's able to fly out. He can't be here, not with having challenged the Alpha, and Billy knows it. So, he'll be far away soon enough, and we no longer have to worry about him at all."

"Good." I smiled. "Maybe a change of scenery will be good for him. Maybe he'll find someone to imprint on while he's there. That would solve his whole infatuation with me for sure."

Edward nodded. "That's true. I don't think he understood or even thought about that fact. Even if you had chosen him, he would have had to leave you if or when he found his imprint, much like Sam left Leah for Emily."

"I brought that up with him once. He said he didn't think he'd ever imprint on anyone. That it was rare. But then I look at Sam and Quil – there's two of them in less than a year. Chances are it's not as rare as he thinks."

"I tend to agree." Edward nodded. "It doesn't seem all that rare, considering that three of the ten have imprinted by now."

"Three?" I exclaimed. "Who else?"

"Paul," Edward replied. "It's very recent. I saw it in his mind yesterday. Her name is Rachel, and she's Jacob's sister."

I couldn't help but grimace at the thought how well that must have gone over with Jacob when he found out. "Well, I'll be damned. Maybe she'll calm him down a bit. He flies off the handle too easily."

"I hope she doesn't get hurt like Emily did."

That sobered me up. "True."

Edward wrapped his arms around me, and I put my head on his chest and my hands in the back pockets of his jeans. We stood there silently for a moment until he asked me if I would like a trip to the meadow.

"Always." I smiled up at him. "Are we driving or running?"

He laughed. "If you're up for it, I wouldn't mind stretching my legs for a bit."

"And you'll be my ride?"

"At your service."

As usual, my amazing vampire had packed a small backpack with drinks and snacks and even thought to grab a blanket. With my eyes wide open and the wind in my face, he ran us to our special place deep in the woods.

It turned out to be a wonderful afternoon. Edward even wove me a crown of wildflowers, carefully selecting only the most beautiful of blooms for his masterpiece.

I wore it with pride.

Dinner was a quick affair, and Edward and I spent the evening with the family, laughing at Emmett's antics while playing Halo with Jasper, before heading to the cottage for the night. He looked at me appreciatively when I changed into some silk pajamas, and I returned the favor when he took off his clothes in exchange for a pair of lounge pants, his bare chest gleaming in the moonlight.

Morning came early, and I grumbled for a minute about waking up alone until a barefoot Edward walked in, still dressed for the night, with a cup of coffee for me.

"Good morning, sweetheart."

"It is now," I replied and took a sip. "Ah, thanks, Edward."

"Alice wishes me to inform you that you have 45 minutes to get ready, and that your bags for tonight are packed and in our car."

I laughed. "45 minutes, huh? Does that include time for food?"

"Apparently, I was remiss in letting you sleep for too long, so breakfast will be an egg and bacon burrito you'll have to eat in the car, I'm told." He snorted. "She's a little dictator. I had to argue with her about letting you have coffee before your shower."

"She means well," I said lightly, taking another sip before looking at him from underneath my lashes. "But thank you for pleading my case. You know, in the name of saving time, perhaps we should share the shower?"

Edward smiled wickedly. "I like the way you think, Bella, but we both know that showering together is going to make us late."

I raised an eyebrow. "Is that a challenge, Mr. Cullen?"

"Most definitely, Ms. Swan."

I giggled and put the coffee down. "Race you," I sang as I pulled my top over my head and dropped it at his feet with a confidence I hadn't possessed a week ago. His mouth dropped open, and another giggle burst from my chest.

At the bathroom door, I looked back at him over my shoulder. He still hadn't moved, his eyes skimming up and down my back. Emboldened, I shimmied out of my pajama pants and winked at him. Once in the bathroom, I turned on the shower, waiting for the water to heat before stepping under the spray.

"Coming, Edward?"

He appeared behind me, naked as the day he was born, his hands gripping my waist and turning me to face him. His mouth descended on mine, and my fingers curled into his hair. I felt him, hard and wanting, against my stomach. Knowing that his wonderful man was aroused because of me made me feel a hundred feet tall.

We did eventually wash up, but not before he'd used his nimble fingers to coax me to a climax and certainly not before I had the opportunity of watching his face dissolve in pleasure of his own.

No towel racks were harmed this time.

Alice grinned at me knowingly when we arrived at the main house with only a minute to spare. I didn't have it in me to blush, still flying high on Edward. I simply shrugged at her with a smirk.

The drive to Seattle was over quickly, the second car with his siblings following behind us. Once I'd inhaled the burrito Esme had lovingly prepared and downed another cup of coffee, Edward and I listened to music and chatted about what we'd do once we got there. I asked to go to the original Starbucks and the Space Needle.

"Actually, if you don't mind, I'd prefer seeing the Space Needle tomorrow before we head home," Edward said. "I was thinking we'd stop at the Seattle Center after you've gotten your fill of Pike Place."

He suddenly got very animated. "The Experience Music Project is one of the main attractions there. It houses more than eighty-thousand artifacts, from Seattle's own Nirvana to Jimi Hendrix. I would love to show it to you."

"Have you seen it before?" I asked

Edward shook his head. "No. I wanted to take you last year during the summer, but there never was a good time, and then...well, you know."

I reached across the console to pat his leg. "I look forward to seeing it with you."

His smile was blinding. "I love you so much, Bella."

"I love you, too."

The six of us had a great time at Pike Place. Alice took pictures of me and Edward standing in front of the Starbucks, though we didn't bother going inside. The line was just too long. I had a hot dog for lunch, from one of the street vendors, and Edward handed me a cold bottle of water afterward. Rosalie and Alice pulled me towards one of the vendors that sold hand-blown glass and convinced me to purchase a painted ball that, according to Alice, would look wonderful hanging in the living room window of the cottage. Edward watched me, a small smile playing on his lips, as I pulled out cash that had mysteriously appeared in my wallet to pay for it. And he carried the bag with pride when I handed it to him.

Around three that afternoon, his siblings took their leave to head back to Forks, while Edward drove us to the Edgewater Hotel where he had booked a suite for us to spend the night. After we'd checked in, we walked to the Seattle Center to visit the music exhibit. Edward's enthusiasm was infectious, and I let him tell me about the history behind the various artifacts on display.

Once we got back to the hotel, we changed for dinner. Alice had packed me a pair of black Capri pants and a shimmering blue blouse with short sleeves, and black flats. Grateful that the attire she had chosen wasn't over the top, I didn't balk at the lacy underthings she had included.

Part of me was also hoping that Edward would delight in peeling them off me later. A bit of mascara and lip gloss, the pretty earrings Edward had purchased in Chicago, and I was done.

Edward's heated gaze skimmed up and down my body when I exited the bathroom, and I smiled.

"You like?"

"Beautiful," he murmured as he walked towards me, taking my hand to his lips for a kiss. He was looking quite handsome himself in his black slacks, light green shirt and charcoal dinner jacket, and the knowledge that this loving, considerate and kind man had chosen me over all others made me light-headed.

"May I escort you to dinner, Ms. Swan?"

"I'd be delighted," I replied as I curled my hand around his proffered arm. As we walked down the hallway to the elevators, he told me he'd made reservations for us at the hotel's on-site restaurant.

"It's mostly seafood," he explained, "oysters, mussels, salmon and such, fresh from Pike's Fish Market. I hope you'll like it."

"Sounds good."

Edward stood behind me, nuzzling my neck as the elevator descended, his cool breath making me shiver in pleasure. "You smell so damn good," he whispered in my ear before kissing the sensitive spot right below.

"Enjoying the bouquet?" I teased him while trying to stay upright.

"Very much so, sweet girl."

Dinner was great. Our waiter was male, and for once we didn't have to deal with someone fawning over Edward the entire time. Carlos was friendly but not overly so. Of course, Edward watched him with narrowed eyes while he ordered a bunch of seafood appetizers for me to try, though he didn't elaborate on any untoward thoughts he probably picked up. I just smiled and reached for Edward's hand, showing off the beautiful ring on my finger. That made him crack a small smile and all was well again.

"Did you enjoy your day, Bella?"

"I did. It was fun watching you so enthusiastic about something you love."

He smiled crookedly. "You weren't bored?"

"Not at all, silly. You know so much, and it's fascinating. I love that you want to share that part of yourself with me."

"I want to share everything with you, Bella," he said, his eyes shining.

"I want that, too," I whispered in reply. "I love you."

"Oh, Bella. Are you done with your dinner? Please say you're done. I need..." He broke off, staring at me with desperation in his eyes.

"I'm done, Edward." I smiled at him happily. "Whatever you need, baby."

"Check, please."

He practically dragged me back to our suite after he'd paid for dinner, his hands never leaving my body for a moment. When he'd opened the door, he pulled me inside quickly, shutting it with his body and pulling me against him. His lips found mine and all bets were off. I moaned into his mouth when his cold tongue pushed between my lips, my hands flying into his hair, pulling myself closer.

I faintly heard fabric rip and a breeze cooled my suddenly overheated skin when he rushed us to the bed before laying me down gently. He trembled as he moved back a little, breaking our kiss.

"I'd say sorry about your clothes, but I'm not," he muttered, his eyes devouring me. "You are exquisite, Bella." He took off my shoes and dropped them behind him to the floor.

"I am very partial to that color against your skin," he said, "but please allow me to remove your undergarments. I really, really need to touch you, Bella."

I nodded, gathering courage from the knowledge that Edward wanted me just as much as I wanted him. "On one condition. You allow me to undress you."

Edward swallowed hard, searching my eyes. "Oh...uh...alright."

I smiled. "Proceed."

My bra didn't stand a chance. Edward pulled me towards him, fumbled with the clasp for a moment and then gently tugged the fabric from my body. I lay back and in a bold move put my arms above me, arching my back.

"So beautiful," he whispered. His fingers skimmed up my sides before he moved them across my chest, teasing each nipple to a hardened point.

"Edward," I moaned when his cool tongue left a fiery trail from my neck to the tip of my breast. I felt him smile against my skin before his lips closed over the tip and suckled gently. My back arched further, pushing myself into his mouth. He moved to the other side, lavishing the same attention to my other breast. Somewhere in the back of my mind, pride at his strength, his control, took up residence. His trembling wasn't as pronounced, but even in my heightened state, I could see how careful he was with me.

"I love you," I gasped when his lips moved down my stomach towards my panties, a trail his hands followed down my sides. Edward raised his eyes to mine when he reached the silken fabric that still covered my most private parts, silently asking permission.

I nodded quickly, and silk shredded under his fingers. He leaned up a little, watching me as he let his fingers trail down towards my mound. When he swiped them through the wetness that had gathered there, I whimpered.

"So hot, so wet," he muttered almost to himself. "And all for me."

I couldn't help the giggle, but it turned into an embarrassingly loud moan when a cool finger entered me, gently rubbing against the flesh inside. My knees came up and fell to the side, opening myself to his explorations. His thumb flicked over my clit, and I lost all coherent thought, writhing on the bed, my hips lifting to seek more friction, more movement, more, more, more...

...and then I shattered around his talented fingers, a flash of white light bursting behind my closed eyes. I was babbling nonsensically as he slowed his strokes to calm me down. Edward smiled up at me from his position between my legs.

"I don't think I'll ever get used to how beautiful you look when you come apart," he said before bending down to kiss my stomach right above my mound, groaning as he inhaled. "And you smell so fucking good, Bella, I can hardly wait until it's safe to taste you right here."

My face bloomed as I reached out a hand to run my fingers through his hair. "Soon," I promised.

He exhaled shakily and moved up the bed to lie down next to me, pulling my face to his for a kiss. I snuggled closer to him, sighing into his mouth. My fingers clutched his shirt, toying with the buttons. When he pulled back, I looked up at him.

"My turn now?" I asked, my voice shamelessly hopeful.

To his credit, he only hesitated minutely before nodding. "Go slow, love, okay?"

"Of course," I assured him with a smile. "Lie on your back. And maybe you should keep your hands under your head? I don't think breaking the bed is an option here."

He chuckled. "Probably not."

Edward arranged himself after taking off his shirt before I could blink. It fluttered to the floor next to the bed.

"Hey," I protested in jest. "That was supposed to be my job."

"I'd say I'm sorry, but I'm not. I just want to feel your hands one me."

I gaped at him open-mouthed before shaking my head. "Where's the old-fashioned guy I used to know?"

He shrugged, a crooked smile on his angelic face. "He was too uptight, so I made him go back to nineteen-eighteen where he belongs."

Snickering, I reached out my hand to touch his chest, drawing patterns around his pecs in ever smaller circles until I reached one of his pale nipples and scratched my nail across it. Edward hissed under his breath. Encouraged, I paid the other nipple the same attention and was rewarded with a long groan that ended in my name. Watching his face, I trailed my fingers down his stomach, scratching lightly when I reached the small patch of hairs that led into his pants. Unbuckling his belt with one hand proved tricky so I shifted onto my knees to use both hands. When the belt fell away, Edward held his breath as I slowly popped the button and then searched for the zipper, feeling him strain against the fabric under my hand.

"Bella," he whined, "please..."

When the zipper was about halfway down, his hardened length suddenly stood straight up and broke the rest of it. I jerked my hands back, stunned, before starting to giggle.

"Commando, Edward?"

His perfect lips formed a perfect O. He blinked twice before drawing in a breath. "Are you okay? I'm so sorry. It seemed like a good idea at the time."

"I'm fine, see?" I wiggled my fingers. "Can I...touch?"

He nodded, and I curled my fingers carefully around him, slowly stroking him. Unlike when we'd been in the shower, his penis was cool to the touch, but the skin was soft and smooth. I nearly forgot all about removing his pants but Edward lifted his hips slowly, and I managed to pull them down to his feet. I'd also forgotten about his shoes but before I could remove them, he'd toed them off. Crawling down, I tugged his pants off completely before glancing at him.

He was holding himself very straight, but his body was nearly vibrating. His face was relaxed though, and I could see the need and desire in his eyes. I ran my hands up his leg until I reached his member again, standing up proudly, perpendicular to the rest of him. And like the rest of him, it too was sheer perfection.

I wasn't sure where my courage came from, but I wanted to put my mouth on him. And I knew that I'd have to warn him beforehand lest he freak out.

"Edward?"

"Hmm?"

"I...uhm..." I took a deep breath. "I want to...kiss it. Is that okay? Please?" I asked him, keeping my strokes even but tightening my fingers around him. His eyes locked with mine.

"Bella, no...that's not proper...yes, God help me. Yes. Please...oh God, okay...be careful. Oh fuck...yes..."

Slowly, I lowered my face to the very tip of him, pursing my lips to press a soft kiss on the head. Edward snarled in his throat, pressing his hips into the mattress. He had his hands locked in a vice grip around his wrists. His eyes were wild.

"Please, Bella, Bella, Bella..."

Encouraged by his reaction, I carefully licked around the ridge. It was like licking an Edward-flavored popsicle. A long groan followed when I closed my lips around him, still using my hand to stroke up and down. I sucked lightly and Edward started to pant.

"So good, so good, oh God, Bella, yes, yes...shit...close, so close...please, sweetheart...you have to move out of the way."

I released him from my mouth, but kept the rhythm of my strokes. His growls and snarls reverberated through the room. My eyes were on his face, contorted in pleasure when I felt the cool liquid of his climax flow over my fingers.

I slowed my strokes, much like he had done with me, until his breathing became normal again, before I released my grip on him. He pulled me up to lie beside him, face to face.

"Are you alright," he asked, worry in his voice. "Did I hurt you?"

"Not at all," I said. "Thank you for trusting me, and yourself."

"Oh, my darling girl," he crooned before kissing me deeply. "I should be thanking you."

"I love you. And I'm so proud of you." I smiled at him. "I love how close we've become, and that we can experience these things for the first time, together."

He stroked my hair. "I love you. And I love that you don't push me beyond what I'm capable of giving you."

I sighed happily and nuzzled my nose into the crook of his neck.

Unfortunately, the hotel bed didn't come with an electric blanket, and I started to get cold after a while. Of course, Edward noticed right away.

"Are you cold, sweetheart? I'm sorry..."

"Shh, it's okay. Do you think Alice thought to pack us a spare blanket?" I asked him, unwilling to leave his arms.

"Let me check. Knowing my sister, it's entirely possible." He jumped off the bed to check his bag, grinning when he found what we needed at the very bottom. I might have shamelessly checked out his behind.

"Ha! I love my sister," he exclaimed.

"Yay! Remind me to thank her tomorrow," I said before getting up myself. "Human moment. I'll be right back."

I walked to the bathroom, naked as a jaybird, knowing full well that his eyes were on me the entire time. Right before I entered the room, I wiggled my butt, giggling when I heard his breath hitch.

"Vixen."

I brushed my teeth and use the lavatory, washing my hands before returning to the bedroom. Vampire speed came in handy, as the bed was remade with the electric blanket. Edward was wearing a pair of the now familiar lounge pants, so I put on the pajamas Alice had packed. Well, what she would call pajamas, as the top didn't leave much to the imagination and the tiny shorts barely covered my butt cheeks.

From his gaze, I would say that Edward appreciated the view. I felt empowered, loved, desired. The thought that I could have easily missed out on this all-encompassing love was sobering, and I thanked my lucky stars that we had been given another chance.

Sleep came quickly after he wrapped me in his arms under the covers and starting to hum.

I woke up the next morning to the smell of coffee and waffles. Disoriented at first, I swiped my hair from my face as I sat up. Edward sat at the foot of the bed, a cart in front of him.

"Good morning, sweet girl. I took the liberty of ordering breakfast for you. I hope you don't mind."

"Morning," I said sleepily. "I don't mind at all. Thank you so much."

"Coffee?"

"Yes, please." I threw the covers off and crawled down the bed, sitting down next to him as he handed me the cup. There was a plate with a domed lid on the tray, and a bowl of fresh fruit. He removed the dome with flourish to expose the waffles I had already smelled.

"Oh, yum," I said. "Thank you."

Edward picked up the waffle with his long fingers after dripping maple syrup onto the plate. He tore off a piece, dipped it in the syrup and then held it out to me, with a smirk on his face. Well, two could play that game.

I closed my lips around his fingers, making sure to swirl my tongue around them after taking the piece of waffle.

"Hmm, so good," I moaned before I chewed, suppressing a smile as Edward's breath hitched and his pants tented slightly. I looked at him innocently and opened my mouth for another bite.

He fed me the rest of my breakfast with a fork.

We got dressed after I'd finished my coffee. Once we had checked out and stored our bags in the car, we went to see the Space Needle. The view from the top was fantastic, even though clouds had moved in again from the west.

"Alice texted me earlier," he said later on in the car after turning down the music we'd been listening to on the drive home. "She went this morning to pick up your birth control pills. Your cycle should start tomorrow, which works out perfectly, since you're supposed to take the first one on the first day of your cycle."

I couldn't help the blush. "Oh, uhm...okay. How do you know I start tomorrow?"

Edward shrugged and glanced at me. "I don't mean to make you uncomfortable."

"It's fine. Awkward, but part of my being human. So, how do you know?"

"Well, you've always been very regular, and...I can smell...thechangeinyourhormonelevel."

"Sorry, what was that?"

Edward sighed. "I can smell the change in your hormone level."

My blush went crimson. I didn't quite know what to say to that. "Huh. That's...well, interesting."

"I'm sorry."

"No, no." I waved him off when a thought crossed my mind. "Oh, God. Does that mean your brothers and sisters can smell it too? Esme? Holy shit, Carlisle?" I hid my face in my hands. "Why didn't you tell me before?"

A cool hand closed gently around my leg. "It's no different than the other human females that are around us every day. We're used to it."

"Not helping," I whined. "All this time..."

"Sweetheart, please. It's not important. I shouldn't have brought it up."

I reached deep inside me, reminding myself that I wasn't the only woman they'd been around, and that soon enough, I wouldn't have to deal with this particular issue anymore. Edward kept glancing at me, his brows in a worried crease.

"It's fine. So, I'll start the pills tomorrow? I thought we had decided to wait until after the wedding?"

A sheepish smile crossed his face. "Yes, we did. It's just, now that we've done other things, I'm not sure I can't wait much longer. And the wedding is still weeks away."

I gaped at him. "Oh."

"I just want you to be protected, in case...well...if what Carlisle has heard is true, and even if we wait, you'll still be human. Most likely."

Desire bloomed deep inside my belly. "Really?"

He turned his head to face me fully and took my hand. "Bella, I've come to believe that I don't have to be afraid to hurt you. With a bit more practice," he winked, "I believe it's possible to give this to you before I change you. If that's what you want as well."

"Only if you want it, Edward. I won't push you for it, and I won't have you be afraid to hurt me, just to get that experience. It's not worth it. I want you to enjoy it too, and you won't if you're scared."

He smiled and raised my hand to his lips. "I'm not. Not anymore. And I want to make you mine in all ways possible. I yearn for it."

I exhaled shakily. "I am yours, Edward, body, heart and soul."

His smile was blinding. "I know. I really do know. And I am yours."

I leaned my head against his shoulder, sighing happily.

"Do you want to talk about what Carlisle said? About the possibility? Could we try to find out more, before we decide what we'll do? I mean, I've never thought I'd want children, not after having raised my own mother, but to have your baby, to give you that? If that option exists, safely of course, I think we should discuss it."

His brows furrowed and fear flashed across his face.

"Bella, I don't know. Nothing Carlisle has heard indicates anything other than death for the human mother. And while I want to give you anything you ask for, I won't risk losing you, not for anything. Especially not a child I never thought I'd have."

"So, why don't we see if we can find out more from this person, what's his name?"

"Alistair. I suppose we can see if Carlisle can reach him to inquire about this."

"Okay. I won't risk eternity with you, Edward, I promise."

"Fair enough," he said with a sigh. "Let's talk to Carlisle when we get home, alright?"

I nodded and decided it was time for a subject change to something more pleasant.

"So, is there anyone you'd like to invite to the wedding, other than the family, of course?" I asked him.

"I assume our Alaska cousins will come. I'm sure Alice will send them an invitation."

I remembered a conversation Edward and I had a while ago, about beautiful blond vampires who had the hots for him.

"I'd like to meet them," I said, "and you still prefer brunettes, right?"

Edward laughed. "Actually, there's a very specific brunette my heart is set on."

"Oh yeah? Do I know her?"

"I should hope so. You see her every time you look into the mirror."

"Well, in that case..." I giggled. "I should tell you that I'm very partial to a certain vampire with unruly bronze hair."

"And thank God for that," he sighed.

We arrived home shortly after. I spent a bit of time with Esme and Alice, going over a few more wedding details, before calling my Dad to check in with him. He told me that he'd heard from Billy, and that Jacob was en route to Hawaii and wouldn't bother us anymore. I relayed the information to Edward after I'd hung up with Charlie and then went to the kitchen to fix dinner. Already cooking what seemed to be a chicken breast, Esme kicked me out, lovingly of course, and told me she'd call me when it was ready. I wandered back into the living room, just as Carlisle walked in the front door.

I looked at Edward, and he nodded. "Good evening, Carlisle. Would you have time for Bella and me after her dinner? There's something we'd like to discuss with you."

"Of course," Carlisle replied. "I'll be in my office. Just come up whenever you're ready."

Esme called me into the kitchen just then. I waved at Carlisle and blew a kiss to Edward. I sat down at the kitchen counter where Esme had put my plate.

"This looks great, thank you," I praised her, inhaling the smell of the grilled chicken she had made for me. A scoop of mashed potatoes and a small mound of green beans completed my dinner.

"Thank you, sweetie. I so enjoy taking care of you." She smiled as she put a glass of milk next to the plate. "Now, I don't mean to pry, but I couldn't help but overhear Edward asking Carlisle to make time for the two of you. Is everything okay?"

I could hear the worry in her voice and nodded quickly. "Yes, everything is fine. It's just...Carlisle mentioned something the other day, and Edward and I want to find out more before we decide what to do."

Esme nodded thoughtfully. "I must say, I'm impressed with the changes I've seen in both of you. Edward seems...lighter, happier than I've ever seen, and you appear much more confident, not only in him but also yourself."

"Is it that obvious?" I asked her, frowning. "I mean, I know he's happy, I can see it in his eyes, and to me, the changes he's made are huge, but I didn't realize it was that obvious."

"Oh, sweetie, only to us, because we've known him for so long. That sad, withdrawn boy who carried the weight of the world on his shoulders – well, he's gone. You've given him something that set him free. And whatever it was you did, thank you. His smiles come so easily now, and it's a joy to watch."

She lightly wrapped an arm around my shoulder, and I turned in my seat to face her more fully. Leaning my head against her shoulder, I shrugged a little.

"I have noticed that, too," I said, "and after last week, we're closer than ever. It's like, we really talk with each other now. We don't make important decisions without first discussing things. He knows I'm not going anywhere, and I finally know that he'll never leave me again."

Esme gently squeezed my arm and dropped a kiss on my head. "He can't be without you, Bella. We've known that for a long time. And it was high time you realized it too."

I smiled sadly. "Yeah, you're right. I've been very stupid."

"No, not at all," she was quick to assure me. "It's completely understandable that you guarded your heart after we left you last fall. And I'm so sorry about that. I'm so sorry that we didn't try to stand up to him when he demanded we leave you."

"I forgave you the moment you came back," I whispered, "I just didn't trust him, or all of you, to stay."

"You're my daughter too, Bella," Esme insisted. "You're part of our family, and family doesn't treat one another like that. Please accept my apology."

I could hear in her voice how important it was to her, so I nodded. "I accept."

"Thank you. Now, eat up."

I grinned before taking a bite. "Hmmm, very good," I said after I'd chewed and swallowed. "Thank you for making this."

"It was my pleasure," Esme replied before busying herself at the sink. "I'm glad you like it."

Shrugging, I cut off another piece of chicken. "It was made with love. What's not to like?"

She looked at me, her eyes shimmering in the light. "Oh, Bella..."

It seemed a subject change would be a good idea. "Can I ask you something?"

"Of course. Anything."

"Carlisle mentioned something about male vampires being able to father children with human females. That's actually what Edward and I want to talk to him about later. Have you heard of it?"

Esme shook her head. "No, I didn't think it was possible until Carlisle told me about it yesterday. I hope you're not considering it, Bella."

I took a deep breath. "I am, actually. Only if it could be done safely, of course. I'd like to find out more before we make a decision."

"How does Edward feel about this?"

"Well, two weeks ago, Edward would have categorically dismissed the idea, and we wouldn't be having this discussion now. Since we are now making monumental decisions together, he's open to getting more information. I know he's scared of losing me, and I won't risk it either, not without knowing that I would survive the pregnancy and birth."

At that moment, Rosalie burst into the kitchen unexpectedly, eyes wild. "You could have a baby? With Edward?"

I flinched at her sudden appearance. "Uh...maybe. I don't know. We're going to talk to Carlisle about it."

"And you didn't think this was something the whole family should know about?" She put her hands on her hips, glaring at me.

Bristling at her tone, I narrowed my eyes right back at her. "Not at this time, Rosalie, no. We are currently only gathering more information. It's too soon to discuss it with everyone, I would think."

By that time, Edward had found his way into the kitchen as well, clearly having overheard the conversation. He came to stand behind me and put his hands on my shoulders.

"Rosalie, we don't even know what the these half-vampire creatures are like. There are too many unknowns right now to make a decision. And even if we had all the information, I'll thank you to leave the decision to Bella and myself. This is not something in which you'll get a vote."

Her face crumbled before my eyes. "But Edward..."

"No!" he said firmly, though his voice sounded strained, as if he was trying not to yell. "I will not risk Bella, not for anything. Do I have to explain to you what that would do to me, and to his family as a whole? No. Your selfish desires will have no influence on whatever decision we'll make."

Apparently by that time, the rest of the Cullen siblings had overheard what had been said, and everyone was crowding into the kitchen. I noticed that Jasper had a pained look on his face, likely from absorbing all the emotions in the room.

Everyone began talking at once, the words spoken to rapidly for me to get anything more than snippets. And the more they talked over each other, the louder they got until it felt as if everyone was yelling. It was only when Carlisle entered the kitchen and firmly said, "Enough!", that everyone stopped talking.

He looked around at everyone before locking eyes with Edward, who nodded. "Alright, everyone. Let's move to the dining room to discuss this as the civilized people we pretend to be. Bella, I apologize, I don't want you to miss your dinner, but apparently, my children have decided that this issue needs to be discussed now rather than later."

With that, he marched out of the kitchen, with Rosalie hot on his heels, Emmett following behind her. Esme smiled at me sadly, while Edward sighed behind me. "Yes, Alice, this most likely explains why you and Jasper are making a trip to Scotland, I assume. Come on, sweetheart, I'll carry your plate."

"Just leave it. I'm sorry, Edward," I said quietly, no longer interested in the food. "I forgot that everyone would be able to overhear my conversation with Esme."

"It's alright," he said, bending down to kiss me quickly. "They would have found out sooner or later anyway. I'll deal. I would have preferred talking to Carlisle first, but we'll make the best of it." He sounded sincere, but I could see the tension in his face.

I followed him into the dining room where he took a seat next to Carlisle who was already sitting at the head of the table. I chose the chair beside Edward, of course, holding on to this hand.

"Very well," Carlisle began once everyone had sat down, "I shared some information with Edward and Bella a couple of days ago in regards to rumors I heard over a century ago about male vampires having fathered children with human mothers. Now, each of those rumors spoke of creatures that chewed their way out of the woman's womb, thus killing the mother in the process. In the course of that conversation, I suggested to them both to use some form of birth control while Bella is still human to avoid an unwanted pregnancy. They have decided to do so, but at the same time wish to obtain further information as to whether it is possible to conduct such a pregnancy without harm to Bella. My old friend Alistair might be of help, which is perhaps why Alice sees herself in Scotland in the near future. However, and I cannot stress this enough to everyone here, the right to make the decision whether to move forward with that possibility or not remains with Edward and Bella. And only Edward and Bella. Whatever decision they make, we will support."

There was complete silence for a moment. Then all eyes swiveled to Alice, who shrugged. "Sorry. I can't really see the outcome since they haven't decided yet. I can only tell you that when Bella decided to ask more questions, her future became fuzzy. And I had a flash of Edward holding a baby, looking happy."

"Aha," Rosalie cried. "So it is a baby, and not some strange creature. And if he's happy, then that must mean Bella survives."

"No, it doesn't," Alice said firmly. "I didn't see Bella at all after."

"Hold it," Emmett said. "Edward will have sex with Bella while she's still human? Dayum, dude!" He waggled his eyebrows but sobered up quickly. "Would that even work?"

I blushed hotly and bent my head, letting my hair fall on either side of my face, as Edward groaned beside me. "I'm not discussing my sex life with you, Emmett."

"You mean, your non-existent sex life?"

"Shut up, Emmett," Rosalie growled when Edward snarled in response. "That's not what's important here. They could have a baby. The one thing we can't have."

Emmett looked hurt when he turned to his wife. Carlisle cleared his throat. "Jasper? Any insights you have on the subject? Have you heard of anything like this?"

Jasper was quiet for a moment, studying Edward and then me. "No, never heard of it. And as long as it doesn't put Alice in danger, I'm not opposed to finding out more information. I'll say this though – if anyone has the control required to...well, be intimate with a human, it's Edward."

"We'll be fine," Alice said to her husband. "I see us coming home in plenty of time for the wedding."

"That's not what I meant," Jasper said. "If this...child is born, even if Bella survives it, as a human or a vampire, we'd have to keep it hidden from the Volturi. There's a reason why they're rumors – I'm sure the Volturi don't know these children exists, if the rumors are true. Carlisle would have heard about it from them. How secretive is this Alistair guy, Carlisle?"

"He stays as far from the Volturi as he can. He's a bit of a misogynist, and a loner. Doesn't trust anyone. I'd have to get in touch with him first, to let him know you're coming."

I was stressed out by the tension I could feel coming off Edward, turning to him and putting my hand on his arm. "Are you okay, baby?"

Edward snorted before facing me, his eyes blazing. "Am I okay? How can you be so calm about this? This should be a private matter between us, and instead it's being tread out for the whole family," he snapped.

"Hey," I replied, getting angry. "I was all for talking to Carlisle about it. I already apologized for bringing it up with Esme, and you said it was okay. What else is there to do but be calm? You said yourself there was no privacy in this house, what with your superhuman senses, so why are you getting all pissy with me? Emmett is the one who can't keep his big mouth shut about our sex life, existent or not, so why don't you bark at him? Rosalie is the one who insisted on butting into my conversation with Esme, so bitch at her, why don't you? When did this become my fault? You," I snarled at Emmett, hurt fueling my anger, "why are you so interested in what Edward and I do in the bedroom, huh? What business of yours is it?"

Emmett raised his hands defensively. "Whoa, Bella, I'm just kidding."

"Bella, sit down, please," Edward said and tugged on my hand. I hadn't even noticed I'd gotten up. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snap at you."

I looked around the table, trying to calm myself. "Listen," I began, "I won't put myself or this family in danger. I just feel that if the possibility exists, we should find out what we can, before making a decision. So it's an informed decision, not one based on rumors or assumptions. And once we know more, Edward and I will decide what's best for us. For all of us, okay? And our...bedroom adventures are private. I don't go prying into yours, so please extend us the courtesy to not pry into ours."

I sat back down, and dropped my chin to my chest, partly unable to believe I had just stood up to a whole family of vampires. From my right, I could feel pride and admiration radiating from Jasper. That made me feel a little better.

"Damn," Emmett whispered into the silence. "Baby girl has backbone."

Edward scooted closer and wrapped his arm around my shoulders. I leaned into him as he kissed the top of my head. "I really am sorry."

"It's okay. Sorry I yelled."

"If nobody has anything else, this family meeting is adjourned. I'll be in my office. Esme, would you mind coming with me?" Carlisle got up from the table, smiling at me. There was pride on his face, strangely enough. "Good night, Bella. Edward."

"Thank you, Carlisle, Esme," I replied, giving them both a small smile. "Good night."

As the rest of the Cullens disappeared, Emmett winking at me as he dragged a glaring Rosalie from the room, Alice enveloping me in a quick hug, and Jasper granting me a rare smile, I got into Edward's lap. He held me close as I snuggled into him.

"That was an impressive display," he whispered in my ear. "Taking on seven grown vampires and shutting them all up – very impressive, Ms. Swan. You will make a fantastic vampire one day soon."

I snickered. "Maybe that'll teach Emmett not to mess with me."

"Doubtful," Edward replied with a grin. "Though I must say, watching you snarl at him was priceless. His dirty mind went utterly silent for a minute, and it was such a reprieve for me. I suddenly feel the need to show you my deep and sincere appreciation for your assistance in the matter."

Giggling, I leaned forward to kiss him. "Oh yeah? Show me how?"

He stood up, throwing me gently onto his back. I curled my legs around his waist and my arms around his neck, giggling as I felt his free hand supporting my butt. He carried me out the backdoor into the cool night.

He showed me, alright, until I fell into an exhausted sleep, a sated, happy Edward holding me in his arms.


Endnote: Thank you for reading. I'd love to hear from you. Reviews are always appreciated.

At this point, we'll have about 3 chapters plus the epi left. Till next time,

TMOT