Disclaimer: Render unto Stephenie Meyer what is Stephenie Meyer's. Which is all this.\
"Getting Warmer" is up for fic of the week at The Lemonade Stand, thanks to Melissa Duncan Jones. Link on my profile page, or head over to the tehlemonadestand.
The gray car crossed the serene Connecticut River into Vermont. It was October, a gray day that matched the car, but the red and orange leaves on the hardwoods looked vibrant under the clouds, a different beauty than on a sunny day. It was beautiful, and new to my eyes. I had seen one fall on the Olympic Peninsula, but I couldn't remember it.
The man driving next to me was also beautiful, and also felt new to my eyes. He had one hand resting on the steering wheel, the other cooling my thigh, yet still warming me. His voice was impossibly rich, hinting at tones I couldn't detect. I knew if I leaned a little closer to him that I'd breathe in his wonderful scent. As we turned south on Route 5, I did just that.
We were on the most banal of errands. We were going grocery shopping. I was going into sensory overload. His face had that expression of peace that it wore when only his thoughts were in his head, but when he turned to me he froze.
I couldn't answer him. I was, I suddenly realized, shaking. I felt as if I was stepping into a whirlwind, a tornado, the second circle of the Inferno.
It was so much. It was too much.
The car stopped on the empty road. My door opened, my seatbelt vanished, and he was on his knees pulling me to him. "What's wrong?"
The arms around me eased my shaking, the closeness helped me breathe. "I don't know… It's nothing," I mumbled. "Stupid hyperventilating. I'm fine. Nothing's wrong."
I hoped I wasn't lying.
Chapter 1: GIG
"C'mon, Dad," I said with exasperation. "You really need to learn how to cook. You're a strong, independent man. Or you could be."
I was back in Charlie's little house, for my last day in Forks before heading East to college. I'd decided to spend the time with my father while Edward went out hunting, and since conversation with Charlie was usually desultory, I thought making some dishes I could freeze for him would help pass the time. I had dragged him with me to the supermarket, and then we spent the afternoon in the warm yellow kitchen, Charlie in his oldest plaid shirt hanging out while I cooked, talking about work – the drunken driving, petty vandalism, rumored meth labs of a small town. It was more pleasant than I expected.
"Nah, I'll just guilt another woman into cooking for me," he said, almost making me cut myself as I sliced celery for chicken soup. He was joking. This was a nice change. And it gave me an opening.
"Okay, I can see that, but what are you going to eat if Sue Clearwater breaks up with you?" I said as I chopped.
"Huh?" he grunted, his face coloring. That damn blush ran in the family.
"It's pretty obvious, Dad."
"Hmpf," he replied. "You look tired."
I blushed in turn, though I'd lived with Charlie long enough to know that he probably wasn't making a veiled allusion to my honeymoon. Probably. I'd told him a little about Isle Esme, but I'd made it sound more like a resort. The Cullens didn't need word going around Forks that they owned an island.
"Jet lag," I said. "Rio is four hours ahead of here." I hoped he wouldn't think too much about the logic of that sentence.
He didn't answer, and I let my mind wander as I stirred the soup. The last few weeks had been blissful, and our time on the island had been perfect after our initial ... hiccup. I thought fondly back to the dream that had changed everything, and that we had re-enacted later, on the beach itself this time, in part to give Esme's furniture and bedding a respite; before we left Edward had had to arrange with Gustavo, the caretaker, to oversee the installation of a bed to replace the one we had destroyed.
There had been one odd event, near the end of our stay. We had been preparing to take a break from our, um, usual activities to go swimming - well, I was going to mostly loll on the beach while Edward let loose his strength in the water – when he heard a boat pulling up to the pier. A few minutes later, a timid knock sounded, and Edward ushered in Gustavo's partner, Kaure. She was carrying a big casserole, and even though it was cold, I got a whiff of a wonderful smell, a mixture of onions and fish.
"Why is she here?" I whispered to Edward as she put the dish into the refrigerator.
"She came by to offer us dinner, she says, but she's really checking up on you, to make sure that I haven't done away with you yet," he said, unconcerned. A couple of weeks of proof that he wouldn't kill me had certainly relaxed him.
"That's great. You won't have to cook tonight," I said happily. "How do you say 'gracias' in Portuguese?"
"Obrigada will do," he answered, and I called out, "Obrigada, Kaure."
She said something back, presumably, "You're welcome," but her voice seemed tense and her eyes lingered on the loose white shift that I'd tossed over my navy bikini in hopes of avoiding sunburn. Something that she was thinking caught Edward's attention. He started questioning her casually, but I could hear an edge to his voice.
Their conversation started in Portuguese, but Kaure seemed wary of Edward's queries, so he shifted to a more guttural, harsher language - Edward knew Ticuna? The change and Edward's natural persuasive powers had their effect, and soon Kaure was talking easily. To my surprise I heard the word "libishomen," and I wondered why Edward would want to bring that up, with Kaure already so suspicious of him. She looked at me occasionally, and I smiled at her in hopes of easing her mind - after all, she was awfully brave to come here by herself and risk the wrath of a vampire.
After several minutes, I heard Edward say, "Obrigado" and Kaure gave him a smile. She waved to me and called out something, then made her way out of the house.
"What was that all about?" I asked.
Edward hesitated before he replied. "Kaure was thinking about a part of the libishomen legend I had never heard before, something she was told in Colombia - you remember the beautiful women they prey upon? Apparently sometimes the women survive long enough to ... have children."
That was a chilling thought.
He went on, "I told her that you were an anthropology student and would find this fascinating, and that's why she was willing to talk. But she really doesn't know that much about it, and since the libishomen story is so inaccurate in many respects, I imagine this part of it too has no basis in reality, or maybe even mythology. It's just not possible."
I knew this, because we had discussed it already - I had been astonished to learn that changes wrought by venom meant that Edward had a different genetic makeup from me. Explaining all this to me one night before the wedding, he had also told me about Rosalie's efforts to find out if there was a way she and Emmett could have a child without running afoul of the Volturi, her hopes rising with every advance in reproductive science and story about Baby Louise and even Dolly the cloned sheep. "She experimented with fertilization with donated human eggs," Edward recalled, "though Carlisle and I pointed out the highly dubious ethics involved with using a surrogate human mother.
"In any case, it didn't work, despite Emmett's manly offerings, and when genetic testing became sophisticated enough, Carlisle was able to demonstrate why. Rosalie was especially difficult to be with for a long time after that."
Poor Jasper, I had thought.
More immediately, I suspected there was more to Kaure's legend than Edward was telling me, but I could also tell that he wouldn't tell me even if I pushed, and I was in too good of a mood to try.
"You scared me there for a moment," I said with a grin. "When I have dinner, I'll see if Kaure's cooking was worth having to hear her stories."
Several days later, we headed back to Forks. I was disappointed that we didn't spend any time in Rio - pretty much all I saw was the blaze of lights from the favelas at night as we drove to the airport - but Edward promised we could come back later; his memories being told while he was in the city I had died remained too fresh, he said, for him to enjoy watching me discover it now.
The gray skies and cool breezes of Seattle were a shock after the sunshine of the island, but probably mild compared with winter in New Hampshire. For the first time in my life, I would be somewhere that got seriously cold. With my cold husband.
It was fantastic to see all the Cullens again. I was overwhelmed by the love I felt rushing toward us as Edward and I stepped out of the Volvo. I got enthusiastic if careful hugs from them all – even Rosalie.
"You look fabulous," she whispered to me as I gaped at her, "and my brother looks … amazing. I have never seen him so happy. Thank you."
I was so flabbergasted I couldn't respond, but I was distracted from my embarrassment over my speechlessness by, of course, Emmett.
"Bella!" he boomed. "You made it out alive! Now I have to pay Jasper $300, so you owe me."
Of course, Emmett would bet on my demise. "And how would I have paid back Jasper?" I asked him coolly.
"Seriously, Bella, you know I was making the bet as a good-luck charm," he said, leaning down to kiss the top of my head.
"Yeah, I know," I admitted. "But you don't have to be such a jerk about it."
"Jerk in 1935, jerk today."
The siblings had another reason to be excited: the plan was for us to take our cars to Dartmouth, though not all together. Alice, Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie would be racing one another, while Edward and I would trail behind in the Volvo - "you'd probably want to eat and sleep in a bed occasionally," he noted - and meet them in New York. Esme and Carlisle were staying behind in Forks to keep up appearances.
But as wonderful as it was to be with my new family, and as shocked as I was by Rosalie's welcome, I was worried as I went upstairs to Edward's room - our room, now - to change out of my travel-rumpled clothes. The privacy on the island had been perfect; now I was in a house full of vampires with such acute hearing that they could probably hear me peel off my socks on the third floor. Emmett had already made some remarks that turned my cheeks red after I thanked Esme for lending us her island; I hoped Edward could explain the necessary redecorating to her sometime when Emmett was many, many miles away.
Could I remain absolutely silent with Edward? I doubted it. And I doubted that Edward would bother - why should he? He had spent decades overhearing his family.
I sighed in defeat and went down to the kitchen. Carlisle had picked up takeout for the human, and I was hungry. Esme and Edward kept me company while I ate, and she quizzed us about the state of the house and the island flora; she knew down to the last detail where certain trees and orchids were, some of them very rare. I was on edge for the entire conversation, but Edward didn't mention the bed and I silently blessed him, for I knew that Emmett was next door in the living room.
In fact, the whole family seemed to be … waiting in there, I realized as I washed the dishes I'd used. "Bella?" Alice called out, excitement obvious in her voice. "Could we see you a moment?"
"What's going on?" I asked Edward with suspicion.
"Um, they have something …." he started, then rushed on when he saw my face, "something for us," he emphasized the last word. "So you can't complain," he concluded.
Alice came in then, and grabbed my wrist. "Come on, Pokey," she said, dragging me into the other room, Edward following.
Carlisle greeted me with a smile. "We do have a wedding present for the two of you," he said. I suppressed my sigh; I really was being needlessly ungracious about all this.
"Okay …" I started, hesitantly, because I couldn't see anything in the room that could possibly be meant for us, but Alice cut me off. She danced in front of me, dangling a key from a red ribbon. "And I'm going to show it to you,'' she announced. "But we'll have to run."
It must be in the woods somewhere, I thought with confusion. "Okay…" I said again.
"Come on," she said impatiently, grasping my wrist again, "hop on my back."
"I'll do that part," Edward cut in.
"You'll let her look."
"She won't see. It's too dark."
"That's true," Alice conceded. The moon was barely a sliver. Edward took my wrist from her, but then he stopped to flash a brilliant smile at his family.
"This is incredibly thoughtful of you, and I'll - we'll - never be able to thank you enough," he said fervently. Esme beamed back at him. Maybe his graciousness would make up for my lack of it.
Edward got me my jacket and led me out the back window wall and onto the lawn before slinging me across his back, Alice at his side. They flew to the river edge, then leapt across; my breath caught even though I knew I was perfectly safe wrapped around Edward. We made our swift way through the black forest for a few minutes before I could sense that Edward was coming to a stop. They could see something in the dark ahead that was hidden to my eyes.
Edward let me slide off his back, then took my hand to lead me forward. My feet hit a smooth stone, then another - it was a walkway, I realized - and then I could make out the outline of a little house.
"Oh," I whispered, "this is our present?"
"Yes," Alice said smugly, clasping the key to my palm. "Do you like it?"
I stared at the house, my eyes adjusting to allow me to see more details. It was stone, with a little arched doorway, and there was a tiny garden in front.
"I'm sure I will, once I see it in daylight," I told her. "This is so generous of you. Please give everyone my thanks," I added, remembering my vow to be nicer about these things.
"Sure," she answered, giving me a peck on the cheek. "Bye!" And then she was gone. I looked in confusion in the direction I thought she had gone in, and Edward laughed.
"Wow, she was in a hurry," I said.
"She didn't want to delay our using the house," he said. Then, seeing my continued bewilderment, he explained, "Privacy is their other gift to us."
Relief swept through me when that sunk in. Yes, the best gift of all, I thought, remembering my worries earlier. I smiled up at Edward. "Show me around?" I asked. He grinned as I opened the door with my new key and then swept me up to carry me in.
It was an incredibly charming house, I thought, noting the fireplace in the living room, driftwood already burning in it, and the wrought-iron daybed that served as a sofa. There was no kitchen and no heating system - after all, it was unlikely we'd have many non-vampire visitors here - but there was a generously sized bathroom.
The bedroom was a replica of the white room on the island, with its huge bed and French doors that Edward said opened onto a little pool. He warned me that Alice had persuaded Esme to put in an enormous closet, but I barely heard him as he carried me into the bedroom, because his lips were so close to my ear that his breath was washing over me, driving out any other thoughts. I turned my head so I could meet his lips with mine, and he could tell that I couldn't care less at that moment about what Alice had done.
He sat me down on the edge of the huge white bed so I could kick my shoes off. He followed suit, then did that thing where I was lying on my back, he was hovering over me shirtless, and I couldn't figure out how all this had happened. Not that I minded. Not when it had been an incredibly long stretch of hours since we were able to really touch each other. Not when his cool lips were on my earlobe, then my jaw, then my throat, then my collarbone. Those lips moved up to my own, and I was only vaguely aware that the buttons on my shirt were disappearing. His hand slid under the fabric of my bra to cup my breast and –
Crap, that was cold. My choked-off moan and recoil took me by surprise, and Edward swore under his breath and then he was sitting up.
"Don't move," he whispered, and pulled the linen-covered comforter over me before disappearing. Crap, I thought again. I miss Isle Esme and oppressive humidity and sweat. We hadn't really thought about what delaying my change for college and returning above the 40th parallel would mean for our sex life.
I decided to shuck my blouse and jeans for the sake of expedience, tossing them on the floor and watching them slide inconveniently under a dresser. Faint noises came from the front of the house, and after several minutes Edward was back at the side of the bed, gorgeous and naked, snatching me up, comforter and all. He carried me into the living room, and I could see that he had placed the mattress from the daybed between the fireplace and a huge space heater.
"Fantastic," I breathed as he placed me gently on the mattress, and adjusted the comforter so it covered us both. I could feel heat blowing on me on two sides, and when Edward returned to hover over me again, one of his strong legs between mine, I put my hand on his chest. It was warmer now too. "Did you jump in the fire? Or lie on the space heater?" I asked.
"The latter, or rather, the space heater was lying on me. Let's take advantage of my warmth while it lasts, shall we?"
"Mmm," I agreed, and I gasped for a different reason this time when his hand slipped inside my bra again.
"Ah, my warm-blooded wife, how will we keep you that way?" he murmured. He easily pulled my bra apart, freeing my breasts so he could palm them with his warmed hands, twirl his fingers around the hardened nipples. A pulse thrummed in my sex even though his hands weren't anywhere close. I brought up my own hands to flick at his nipples; they were like stone, and Edward hissed and flipped me to my side so that my back was pressed against his chest and his fingers could roam freely along my front.
"A space heater seems useful," I mumbled as he drew a line with the pad of his index finger from my throat down to my belly button.
"I approve of the way you spent your time while I was getting acquainted with the heater here," he said before taking some minutes to kiss my bare back. "What else?" he finally asked.
"Huh?" I'd lost track of the conversation.
"Oh. Fireplaces and … hot showers?" I arched as he traced the underside of my breasts.
"Jacuzzis. Saunas. Hot-water bottles. Electric … ah," I said incoherently. His fingers were running under my panties and through my hair there, and I squirmed against them. They disappeared for a second, and so did my underwear, and then they were back, spreading my wetness, building pressure in my belly, shortening my breaths. "Oh," I moaned, feeling his thrust between my thighs.
"Bella, love, can we try this?" Edward said from behind me. He removed his hand to push me gently forward a bit, lifting my left leg easily, opening me to his slow push. He paused partway in, constricted, then withdrew slowly, gathering, causing, the lubrication that eased his way back in and deeper. I flattened my palms through the comforter against the fireplace apron to gain leverage, and Edward grunted as I pushed against him. We moved in perfect coordination for a while until he could get settled in me.
"How is that for you?" he asked, his exhalation spreading deliciously along my back, sending a thrill along my skin.
"It's heavenly…" I answered. I could feel him trembling. "Are you okay?"
"Can you stay still for me?" he asked, his voice tense. "I'm going to be too fast this way…" He moved his hand back to my clit. "I can make you feel good like this …God, I can feel the vibrations of your clit on my cock, you're so warm, you're ... throbbing …" His words and his movements made me groan, which made his fingers more decisive, more urgent, the pleasure and the sensation more intense, rising.
"That feels so good," I said inadequately, and the pressure spiraled up and around. The urge was overwhelming to brace my hands and pound against him, and I choked out, "I have to …" just as he made me hit a peak and I pushed off the bricks and slammed my hips back to him. Again. Again. "Go," I pleaded. "Let go."
He let out a snarl and thrust forward to meet me. "Yes," he grunted with our now disjointed rhythm, as I tightened around him, my cries loud, and he pulsed into me. I collapsed under him, and he held me, keeping me together, as our panting slowly subsided. Then we were silent for a long while, save for his unintelligible murmurs and soft kisses against my shoulders, and he finally pulled away and I could turn toward him, pressing my cheek to his chest and draping an arm over his torso.
I noted that no comforters were harmed in the making of this rather dirty movie.
"This seems to be pretty easy for you now," I said eventually, moving my face away from his chest and waving my hand above our entwined bodies.
There was a pause. I could feel the heat from the fire on my back. I could hear the humming of the space heater.
"Hmm. I have a question about, um, physiology," I ventured.
"Of course," he said, grinning. I reddened, and once again marveled at how my nearly Victorian-era husband could be so much more comfortable, so much more modern, about these matters than his 21st-century wife. Well, apart from the objection to premarital … anything.
"So - you're very careful about your venom getting on me, and I understand why. Though I must say, I'm looking forward to someday getting to first base with my husband," I started.
He laughed. "I am, too."
"Okay. But how do you know that your, uh, semen is safe for me?" I asked. "I mean, I know it must be, or we wouldn't be doing this, but how did you figure it out?"
He slid his fingers into my hair and rubbed my scalp gently for a few moments to relax me. It helped. "Well, for one thing," he answered, "the men of Alaska are hale and hearty despite their unholy congress with our cousins in Denali."
"That's not the same thing, is it?"
"No, but it shows that our fluids aren't all dangerous. And you recall how when the newborn bit Jasper, the venom stung?"
I nodded, remembering only too well.
"Semen doesn't do that to us, nor does it do that to mammals. We did a bit of animal testing – "
"What?" I nearly shouted. "Animal testing?"
"Don't tell PETA," he said slyly. "And don't worry – they were fine. Really," he said, as I buried my face in his chest. "They all hopped away." I groaned.
He was silent for a few moments, then went on, "Do you want to hear the rest?"
"God help me, I guess I must."
"You know the legend of the incubus, right? It may sound like a convenient cover-up for infidelity, but it is true, in some respects at least. It's just that the women don't survive" — he raised his hand to stop the question he knew I would ask— "but that's because they're killed in the normal way, not because the semen hurts them."
"Inevitable may be the better adjective..." He stopped when I stared at him in disapproval. "All right. The usual way. Of course, that's all inconclusive, legends and inferences. But we have talked to someone who's actually done this, and he was able to tell us firsthand what happens."
My God, I thought. It could only be Jasper, in the many decades before he met Alice. I wondered if it bothered her. I knew that Edward could have slept with every girl at Forks High, and Lauren Mallory twice, and it wouldn't matter to me, but what Jasper did was far more disturbing…. I also knew Edward wouldn't tell me if Jasper was the source of his information. I shuddered, but then I thought, it could be much worse.
"Um, is there some sort of vampire listserv so you can ask these things?" I asked. "You know, "Re: Sex With Humans'?"
He laughed. "Of course. We're on Facebook, too. 'Aro's mood: acquisitive. Marcus's mood: inscrutable.'"
"Jasper's mood: whatever you're having."
"Jasper's mood around Edward for the last several months: frustrated beyond belief."
"Hey, that's your own fault," I protested. Mostly, I amended internally. He did offer.
But we'd gotten away from the subject. "So, what does happen?" I asked. He looked at me as if he was worried that he was going to have to explain to me how we'd spent most of our time since the wedding. "Okay, I know what happens, but your ... source was able to control himself long enough to uh, complete the act?"
"Yes. But you have to remember that his primary desire was not that sort of fulfillment, but thirst. This just happened to be a way to get what he wanted."
I considered that for a moment, then I remembered my original motive in starting this conversation. "So, if your semen gets on another part of my body, even if I've, say, bitten my tongue or cut the inside of my cheek or something, I'd be all right?"
"Yes," he answered, then waited for me to continue.
"So if, uh..." I hesitated, mentally cursing myself and my blushing. I was unable to get the words out.
He finally took pity on me. "Yes, I imagine that I'd like that very much," he said softly. Yes, he would. I could feel him hard against my thigh. "But…"
I was able to make him break off as I flicked my tongue against his neck.
"But I'd have to keep my hands off you, at least for now," he abruptly said. "And you must stop if I ask."
I looked up at him and nodded. "No time like the present," I muttered. "Maybe it won't be hard now," I added, before pushing him onto his back and lowering my lips to his neck.
I felt awkward at first: here I was, a married woman, who, truth be told, had had a lot of sex by human standards in the last few weeks, and still I knew less about doing this than the technical virgins in the sophomore class at any high school in the U.S. It seemed such an intimate act, in some ways more so than intercourse. And I was still so shy. I knew so little about everything compared with him.
But instinct and desire took me over as I made my way down his body. He was so beautiful, his muscles perfect for me, not bulky but lean and long, and even more than that, his skin seemed so sensitive to even my lightest touch. He shuddered under me as I traced the lines of his torso, as I licked his nipples, as I brushed my tongue against his navel and followed the soft line of hair there farther down.
I was so enthralled tasting his smooth skin, drunk with breathing in his scent, that I almost forgot my objective, and was a little surprised when the tip of his erection bumped my chin.
I kissed the taut skin there experimentally, and Edward inhaled sharply. I looked up to see his hands flash above his head, his fingers interlacing, far from me. I lowered my head again, drawing my tongue tentatively up and down his length. The taste was unexpectedly tart, almost making me grimace - it didn't taste like him, or rather, it tasted like him and … it must be me. I'd have to do something about that.
So I licked him thoroughly, my tongue wrapping around his length, flicking his tip, rubbing under his ridge, his taste becoming cleaner and his noises louder. I hazily realized that he was begging me: "Fuck, Bella, it feels so good, it feels too good, put your mouth on me, please, put me in your mouth…" I was teasing him without knowing it.
Before I could think about it too much, I grasped his length, and guided his tip into my mouth, wondering if I would hurt him before remembering that I couldn't. Even if I did this completely wrong, even if I bit him, I couldn't damage him. That encouraged me to take him in more, my cheeks suctioning around him, my hand holding his base. His guttural response made me wish I had straddled his leg so I could rub against him.
He came almost instantly, his body frozen but his mouth hurling profanities into the air. "Fuck, baby, fuckfuckfuck ..." He was channeling his craving to thrust into my mouth into speech. I swallowed his release automatically, immediately regretting it; I was so fascinated by his reactions that I hadn't even tasted it.
He was smarter than me, kinder, stronger, faster - just all around more "er" than me - that this sign of the power I had over him was thrilling.
He took some moments to compose himself, then helped me crawl up, keeping me from getting too close to the heater, so we were face to face. He kissed me hard, then whispered, "I'm sorry that my cock gets to taste your mouth and I can't. But -" he kissed me again – "it enjoyed tasting your mouth very much … Were you okay with everything?"
"My mouth liked it too. It was … gratifying to see you."
He laughed, understanding. "Anytime you need an ego boost, just let me know."
He kissed my neck this time, just where I liked it most, and I realized the flaw in my plan. I was now alert and eager, but surely he…. I wondered if I looked as aroused as I felt.
"That worked, don't you think?" I asked, pulling back from his lips. He looked surprised.
"Worked seems a pedestrian word," he answered. "It was perfect. But you were wrong about one thing," He smirked at me.
"I'm a 17-year-old vampire," he said, his lips moving to my ear. "It's never going to be not hard." His kiss cut off my giggle.
A/N: This is probably the first fiction I've written since junior high school, and, well, I'm impressed by all the authors who write so well and so much. I'm envious.
And yeah, some reviews would be nice.