The Charade – Chapter 1 – SATURDAY NIGHT

Story Notes: Stephenie Meyer owns any Twilight characters and Twilight plot lines that may appear in this story. The remainder is my original work. Copyright 2009 by NoMoreThanUsual. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without my express written authorization.

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Author's Note: This was supposed to be a one-shot, but typically it grew. Chapter 2 was the story I sat down to write and Chapter 1 was supposed to be a tiny prologue at the start of the story. But when Edward asked for more time in bed with Bella, who was I to argue? And he completely surprised me – this is not the story I thought he was going to tell.

Emmett also had way too much to say – but what can I tell you? I'm a sucker for that man!

I'd like to thank my betas, BlondieakaRobin and WendyAnn, for their invaluable help and encouragement with this chapter. Both ladies are incredible writers – if you haven't read their work, do. They rock!

Lastly, for all of you followers of canon, I've done some research and the Forks Police Department does run 24/7. SM said (in New Moon) that there were only 3 Forks police officers, so I don't get it – it's impossible to run a department 24/7 with only three cops; they'd never have a day off. Regardless, there really is a night shift that Charlie would be responsible for as well, even though we never see that in any of the books.


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Set: Post Eclipse, before the wedding

SATURDAY NIGHT

Edward's POV

It was no secret that Alice was my favourite sister. But this weekend, I adored her. Frankly I couldn't think of anything I wouldn't do for that perky little woman right now.

Maybe I should buy her an electric-blue Porsche to go with her yellow one. She'd love the ability to coordinate the car with her outfit. Or I could arrange a trip for her to France in the spring when the new fashion lines were released . . .

France! She eagerly cried out her choice to me. She and Jasper were sitting on the front porch, enjoying a bit of privacy, while the rest of our family was out. But apparently she was still keeping tabs on possible futures.

I laughed at her enthusiasm.

Bella, who was lying beside me in our bed, raised her head to look at me. "What's so funny?" she asked curiously.

"Alice. I was trying to think of something to do to thank her for this weekend," I explained. "She really likes the idea of a trip to France in the spring."

Bella laughed softly. "Well then, get it for her. She's earned it!"

I couldn't agree more. Bella's her father had let her know that he'd be working the night shift this weekend, to cover for Deputy Mark's time off. Although Forks was, by nature, a quiet town, there was a reasonably significant amount of teenaged drinking parties that the Chief preferred a more experienced officer to be available to handle. In his Deputy's absence, he chose to work the night shift himself than leave it to his other junior officer.

As soon as Charlie had announced his plans, Alice began working to convince him to let Bella stay over at our home. She'd argued that Bella would be both safer and happier if she didn't have to sleep alone in their house and that it would be easier for Charlie to sleep during the day if the house were empty and quiet. Esme's call to Bella's father, promising to take good care of her, had sealed the deal.

I was almost certain that Bella's father would have refused her if she had asked him alone, but he was unable to resist the combined forces of Alice, Esme and his daughter. What man could?

Bella and I had two whole days together free of the charades that life usually demanded of us. And I had Bella all to myself. It was the best present Alice ever got me. The least I could do was send her and Jasper to Europe for a few weeks.

"Yes!" Alice celebrated from the porch, making me grin even more widely.

Still grinning, I turned my focus back my love, lying in my arms. My breath caught. She was so beautiful. Her dark hair was still slightly damp from her shower earlier. I could smell the berries of her shampoo mixed with her own fragrance. Water, no matter what the source, always heightened her scent, amplifying it. It was intoxicating. Her alabaster skin was flushed. I wondered if her color was from the residual heat of the shower or if it was something else . . .maybe she was as affected by me as I was by her. . .

I reached out gently and stroked her soft cheek from her temple to her jaw. She shivered.

"Are you cold?" I asked her solicitously, wondering if I should get her another blanket, but hoping she was shivering for another reason.

"No, I'm not cold at all," she whispered softly, and reached out to cover my hand with her warm one.

My eyes searched her face, from her beautifully expressive brown eyes and then lower still to her full pink lips. Her breathing hitched. The tip of her tongue darted out to moisten her lips. I nearly groaned at the sight. I fought my instincts – this time more the man's than the vampire's – and held myself back from touching her as I wanted to. But I couldn't take my eyes from her, any more than I could move away from her. I was at her mercy.

Her heart raced. I could feel it fluttering against my own ribs, where she was pressed against me.

Then, unable to resist the temptation, I leaned down to kiss those delectable lips. She was sweet and warm and perfect. I was lost in sensation, in her smell and in her taste.

My lips moved gently over hers, reveling in the feelings she evoked. Her small hands explored my chest, kneading and caressing me. She traced the outline of my muscles with her fingers. Raising one hand, she caressed my throat, allowing it to trail a fiery path across my shoulder. Her delicate fingers clutched at me, bolding encouraging me to claim her further.

Her touch was heavenly. It burned through me, blazing away rational thought in its wake – leaving only the hunger and the need to be with her.

I let my hand drift over her collarbone to her shoulder and down to her waist. I pulled her tightly to me. She gasped with pleasure and I gently rolled over her, still continuing my assault on her senses. My leg came to rest between hers.

A small sound escaped her, part whimper and part groan. She writhed under me, desperate to thread her fingers in my hair, grasping and using all her feeble strength to pull me closer to her. Her heart thundered in her chest.

I gently licked her bottom lip. When she opened her lips for me, I deepened the kiss, gently tasting, letting her essence wash over me. Oh God, her taste, her feel . . . heaven.

I groaned into her mouth. She pulled me tighter to her, begging me to continue.

Careful, my rational self whispered to me in my mind, she's fragile, she breaks. I knew I should back away from her, to keep her safe. She's so delicate, the voice insisted, don't touch, don't break. I needed to stop this now. Bella might be hurt. My hand clenched into a fist behind her, as my inner battle escalated.

Letting her go was an impossibility. As Reason and Desire shrieked at each other in my mind, I compromised by trailing my kisses away from the temptation of her lips, across her jaw and down her throat to the sensitive spot at the base of her neck. Oh God . . . Too late I recognized the lie I had just told myself. As if her throat was any less tempting than her lips. Stop this! Right now! In just one more moment. One more kiss and I'll stop . . . I swear I will. My perfect immortal memory remembered exactly how much she loved being kissed . . . right . . . here.

She moaned deeply and pressed her hips tightly against my hard frame. The scent of her arousal shattered the last of my resistance. I struggled in vain for the remnants of my control. I wanted her . . . right now.

Losing the battle with rational control, I came undone. Closer...tighter...more...

All coherent thought flew from my mind. I was guided purely by instincts. Careful, careful, the voice cautioned uselessly. There was only Bella – her soft curves, her warmth, the wonderful sounds she wasn't aware she was making, the feel of her breasts crushed against my chest, and her hands, my God, her hands. The voice of reason was drowned out by another part of my mind – a traitorous, glorious, brilliant part – that shouted the list of things that I wanted to do to her, right or wrong.

Bella's hands, fisted in my hair, dragged me back to her lips. An enticing mewling emanated from her while her tongue traced the seam of my lips, asking for entry, as I had done to her a moment ago. My mind blanked entirely at the thought of that – to feel her inside of my mouth, to allow her to control the kiss for once, the feel of HER . . . God, YES! That would feel so good . . . My stomach clenched with anticipation, my muscles tensed for the pleasure that was to come.

No, No, NO! Reason screamed in my head.

MY TEETH! I jerked away from her, suddenly remembering exactly why I needed to keep Bella well away from their razor sharp edges. The horror of what I had nearly allowed to happen didn't touch me quite yet; my body and my mind were still too drunk on Bella's body and her kisses. I could feel the horror sitting in my mind waiting to be heard, but the lingering pleasure in my body still hummed too loudly to allow any other emotion but lust.

Damn it! Did I have no self-control at all?

I leaned away from her, but I kept my arms around her, unable to stop touching her entirely. Still fighting to gather my shattered willpower, I closed my eyes. I knew that if I looked into her eyes now, all would be lost. My chest heaved for breath. What had I nearly just done?

Focus, Edward, Focus, I berated myself. Control at all times! No mistakes!

How had a simple kiss evolved so quickly to the unraveling of my will?

I hazarded a glance at the woman in my arms. Oh, yes, that was how. That was definitely how. She was so tempting. Even now, in the cold shock of what had nearly happened, she tempted me still. Her eyes were still feverish with passion. Her cheeks flushed with a pink that would put the most beautiful sunset to shame. Her breasts, barely covered by her nightshirt, rose toward me in voracious heaves as she gasped for air. Her pulse throbbed under the delicate skin of her neck, the tiniest beads of sweat beginning to form in the hollow at the base of her throat, filling the air around us with the magnificent fragrance that was pure Bella. Her lips were red and swollen from the kisses . . . from my kisses . . . the possessive need to claim her overwhelmed me once more . . . I barely caught myself as I impulsively lowered my head to kiss her again.

Her...everything was her.

It was painfully obvious that I had no self-control whatsoever.

Frustrated with myself and with the entire situation, I groaned and flung myself back onto my own pillow, before I could do her any real damage.

Bella lay beside me for a moment and we both listened to her breathing and her heart rate slow. Then she rolled over and curled towards me, resting her head on my chest. She didn't say anything.

Self-loathing washed over me for what I had nearly allowed to happen. And beneath that lay guilt – it seems I was always leading her on, making promises that I couldn't – or shouldn't – keep.

"I'm sorry," I whispered. She deserved better. She deserved a man who couldn't kill her by simply kissing her, who could love her passionately and express that passion physically. A husband who could give her children and grow old with her . . .

"Edward," her soft voice cut into my thoughts.

When I didn't respond, she reached out to cup my cheek and I allowed her to turn my face to her.

"Edward," she repeated. "Don't be sorry. There's nothing to be sorry for. I enjoyed that very, very much." She smiled hesitantly at me, trying to make me smile back.

I couldn't. She didn't understand. "I nearly killed you, Bella. Don't you see? It was just a kiss and I nearly killed you." Agony gripped my chest.

"But you didn't," she insisted stubbornly.

"I nearly did." I had to make her understand this. She was being so senselessly stubborn. "Bella, I nearly let you near my teeth. You could have been cut. And it was only a kiss! On our wedding night . . ."

She didn't let me finish the thought. She straightened up and stared me down angrily. "Don't you dare try to back out of our agreement, Edward Cullen!" Then she paused as something occurred to her, "Wait, what do you mean 'you nearly let me near your teeth'? You weren't tempted to bite me? You're upset because I got too close to your teeth?"

I frowned at her. Of course, I was 'upset.' She'd nearly been cut and accidentally turned because of my selfish desire to feel her warmth inside of me. I was more than merely 'upset.'

Suddenly, she started laughing.

"I don't see anything funny at all, Bella," I told her sternly.

"I do! This whole thing isn't about your loss of control; it's about mine! This isn't about bloodlust, it's just . . . lust." She blushed crimson at saying that word, but continued her argument anyway. "I know to stay away from your teeth, Edward. I just lost my head. So your self-control's just fine, it's mine that needs work!" She laughed again.

I could hear Alice and Jasper chuckling downstairs too. "She's got a point, Edward," Alice commented out loud. Jasper silently agreed. In fact, he was deeply impressed with my restraint.

I was deeply irritated. I knew they couldn't help hearing our conversation; on the other hand, it was none of their business. Moreover, Bella's safety was not something to be taken lightly. I considered replacing Alice's French vacation with a bus ride to Armpit, Saskatchewan.

"Hey," she objected. "There's no reason to be mean! We can't help but overhear. And besides that, she is right!"

I growled in response to her and tried to block out their continued mental commentaries. They weren't helpful.

"That's not the point," I stated, turning back to my argument with Bella.

Unaware of the side conversation I was having with my siblings, she took up their cause. "It is the point, Edward. It's exactly the point. Look, you told me once that you found constant exposure to my scent helped you build up your resistance. Well, your self-control is great. Fantastic, even! "

I frowned at her. Where was she going with this?

Her eyes shone with excitement and she smirked at me. "So in the interest of continuing to build your resistance, you should kiss me some more." She tried to look deliberately serious. "You know, in the interests of safety."

Both Alice and Jasper burst out laughing, down on the porch. "I love her," Alice squealed.

I sighed and pinched the bridge of my nose. Bella had absolutely no sense of self-preservation whatsoever. How was I supposed to keep her safe with no help at all from her? Or from my idiotic siblings, it seemed.

"Now," Bella persisted.

"No."

"But it's for the best, Edward. It's just safer. Don't you see that?" She was relentless.

"Yes, I see," I grumbled. "I see that I'm engaged to a crazy woman."

She laughed.

I was having a hard time holding onto my brooding frame of mind. The sound of her laughter always lightened my mood. And yet, I refused to risk her safety again tonight.

"So . . . ?" she prompted hopefully.

I sighed in frustration. "Go to sleep, Bella."

"Will you kiss me goodnight?"

"No!"

Alice and Jasper made no effort to muffle their laughter. She's persistent, you've got to give her that, Jasper silently remarked.

My irritation with them made my next words to Bella come out harsher than I meant to. "Go to sleep, Bella."

She huffed. "I'm not sleepy."

"You haven't tried to sleep."

She huffed again and was silent for a moment. She was sulking. My lips twitched.

"Fine," she finally agreed.

She turned onto her side and I curled against her back, pulling her close to me.

"But this isn't over," she tossed over her shoulder at me.

Yes it was. She'd be safe. At least for tonight. And I still had time to make her reconsider her request about 'trying' before her change.

She must have guessed my thoughts, because she added, "I mean it. Our agreement is still on, Edward."

I sighed again. She was so stubborn. It was usually one of the things I loved about her – when it wasn't putting her safety at risk.

Giving up for tonight, I kissed her hair. "Sleep, my love. We can talk later. You need your rest." And I need time to think, I added silently to myself.


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A short time later, I heard the rest of my family return from their outing. They'd said they were going for a 'snack' but I knew they had wanted to give us a bit of privacy. I appreciated their efforts, especially given that my talent made it so difficult for me to give them their privacy.

Alice and Jasper came inside with my parents and other siblings. They made their way to their own bedrooms and I tried to block out their thoughts.

I gently stroked Bella's shoulder as she slept curled against me – both of us taking comfort from the soft touch. She burrowed closer to my chest, mumbling incoherently about pomegranates and snowshoes. A silly grin spread across my face as I tried to imagine the possible connection between the two. What I wouldn't give to see her dreams. I wondered if she'd remember them in the morning and made a note to ask her.

Alice interrupted my speculations as she paused at the door to her room on the second floor. Her tone was hesitant. Edward? Are you still grouchy?

"No," I whispered, careful not to wake my Bella.

Good, because I hate it when you get all angsty.

I couldn't help but laugh.

So are you still buying me bus tickets? Her mental voice clearly showed her disgust at that idea.

I hadn't given it any thought. My annoyance at Alice was long forgotten - and unjust. I was irritated with myself, not with her. Of course, I'd still send her and Jasper to Europe. I was still immensely grateful for her thoughtfulness in organizing this weekend for Bella and me.

Naturally my sister saw my decision as soon as I made it.

She grinned with relief that our 'argument' was over, and that her French vacation was back on.

So what are you going to do?

"Can't you see?"

No. You haven't decided yet. I just wanted to know what you're thinking.

I chuckled. That felt like my line to Bella. That thought sobered me. Bella. How on earth was I going to keep her safe? It seemed impossible. Every road led to possible disaster – to probable disaster. The hairpin turn to tragedy would happen too suddenly for Alice to foresee, until it was far too late. I couldn't rely on her talent in this.

"I don't know how to keep her safe, Alice." I admitted to her. "I want . . ." I sighed, trying to put my thoughts into words. "I want it all – the happily ever after AND the moment right now. I want to give her everything. I just don't know how to do that and not hurt her."

It'll be fine Edward. It will work out, she reassured me.

But I could see, in her mind, that her promises were empty. Two possible destinations lay before us – Bella would be turned or she would die – the same two possibilities that had always haunted me. The options never changed, no matter what I did.

I just wished that I could tell which path led to which end. Rather than clarify our possible futures, my sister's foresight confused them. Some of Alice's visions saw me weeping over Bella's broken body, cradling her in our marital bed, while others saw me frantically calling Carlisle for help as my love screamed in agony. In some visions, Bella resented me, her anger deep-seated and eternal, for not trusting 'us' enough to give her the human experiences she had begged me for. Some were nonsensical and bizarre, such as the one in which floating feathers drifted down to land on the bedsheets around us. I sighed in frustration. Who could possibly make sense of that?

I had seen both my love for Bella and my selfish desires break her physically or emotionally in more ways than any man should have to endure witnessing. Then almost deepening the torment, like a mirage in the distance, were the ones in which Bella and I were happy, in which she looked at me with longing and love, with golden immortal eyes.

I felt as if I were lost in the dark woods, uncertain of which way to turn – of which way led to disaster and which led home.

I tightened my arms around my sleeping love in a futile gesture of protectiveness.

It will work out, Alice said with more conviction.

"I know." I prayed she was right. "Goodnight, Alice."

"Goodnight," she whispered and quietly closed her bedroom door.


End Notes: As I said, this was supposed to be a brief pre-amble to the story. That Edward just had so much to say though. LOL Next chapter, Charlie goes to the Cullens' house looking for his daughter.

Please let me know what you think so far by leaving a review.