Summary: Bella escaped Alice's guard and ran to La Push while Edward was hunting. Now he's back and the two of them have a lot to discuss. But first, they're in bed in a dark room... the end of Eclipse's Temper chapter from Edward's POV.
Thanks to the usual suspects: Juliejuliejulie and edward-bella-harry-ginny! And of course thanks to Stephenie Meyer, who created the characters and wrote all the dialogue for me!
She wasn't in bed!
I'd caught her scent, heard her heartbeat and slow breathing, from downstairs. I had no heart to pound with anticipation, but my steps had quickened as I made my way down the hallway. There was time for a flash of shock and fear at not finding her where I expected to see her before I processed the further evidence of my senses: she was asleep on the couch.
She was safe. No worse the wear for her jaunt to La Push. I knew it; I'd seen the evidence in Alice and Rosalie's thoughts, but when it came to Bella I had to see to believe. She was so fragile, always flirting with disaster. I could only truly relax when I was actually with her. Leaving to hunt was a torment, and learning that she was with my enemy intensified my stress a hundredfold. I'd decided I had no choice but to accept the visits, trust that he wouldn't harm her, but if he ever did hurt her, my tolerance wouldn't last a millisecond. I knelt beside her and touched her hair very lightly, careful not to disrupt her slumber. It was very slightly damp and exuded a whiff of strawberry. She had showered. She knew I disliked the wolf odor, most especially when it was clouding her glorious scent.
But a question pierced my relief and contentment at being in her presence. Why was she on the couch? Was she trying to tell me something? It had to be a message, rather like the one she'd left on my voicemail. "Angry grizzly bears are going to look tame next to what is waiting for you at home." She didn't like the bed. She didn't want to be comfortable here where I'd trapped her. I'd tried to gild the cage, but the golden bedclothes didn't hide the bars.
I'd move her, and I'd spend the hours until morning on the couch. I stood up, ready to lift her, but I hesitated. Maybe I should respect her choice. But it just felt wrong to leave her in a less comfortable place, especially when that kind of comfort meant little to me. She'd probably be mad at me in the morning when she saw that I'd shifted her. But she was already angry. Might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb. Better to ask forgiveness than permission. I smiled at the clichéd justifications that came to mind so readily. My reasons for moving her were selfish: to hold her in my arms, to feel the heat radiating from her body, and to know that she was sleeping more comfortably because I was here. I really didn't have a good reason, but that wasn't going to stop me.
As delicately as if I were placing the topmost turret on a house of cards, I settled her on the bed. But after the hours of separation, I couldn't bring myself to retreat to the couch. I lay down beside her. Despite my care, she stirred. At first I could tell she was moving without waking, but she rolled back with her eyes open. She frowned into the dark, struggling to see.
"Sorry," I whispered, careful not to pull her too far away from sleep. "I didn't mean to wake you."
I shouldn't have moved her. I'd disregarded her wishes. I'd woken her up. She was already angry, justifiably so, and I'd just compounded my fault. Not to mention the reaction she was surely having to the revelations Rose had laid on her. I clenched my teeth in frustration. If I didn't have to leave her to hunt, there would be no opportunity for these situations to arise. But I did have to leave. Because I was a vampire. I had to accept all the consequences that flowed from that. If she scurried back to the couch in irritation at my presumption, I'd make her as comfortable as I could there. If she railed at me for trying to restrict her movements and to prevent her from seeing whom she liked, I'd beg her forgiveness. And if my sister had given her second thoughts about our way of life, I'd… I didn't know what I'd do. I hoped I'd find the words and make the choices that would be best for my love. In the seconds while these thoughts and resolutions flashed through my mind, she reached towards me, and instinctively, I caught her hand, not knowing what to expect. She could shove me. Shrink from me. I deserved it.
She pulled herself against me. I had no idea what was going on, but my body seemed to understand. My arms went around her automatically. I felt her warm lips and her hot breath travel up my neck to my mouth. My mind was uncharacteristically spinning. The tingling heat of her kiss was scrambling my thoughts. I was sure-footed and incapable of losing my bearings, but I seemed to have wandered off the map. She was furious with me. Wasn't she? Her lips were so perfect and her body was so yielding that I had to hold her and kiss her. Finally, my brain accepted the message my instincts had received through her loving touch: she didn't seem to mind everything I'd done wrong.
"I was all braced for the wrath that was going to put grizzlies to shame, and this is what I get? I should infuriate you more often."
"Give me a minute to work up to it." But she kissed me. Give me my sin again.
"I'll wait as long as you want," I vowed, sliding my hands through her silky, fragrant hair.
"Welcome home. I'm glad you came back." Glad you came back? That was my line. Bella had confounded me again, overthrowing all my expectations, compounding my amazement and gratitude. If this were a musical, I'd break into song to express myself. Instead, I opted for understatement.
"That's a very good thing."
The middle of the night was not the right moment for a serenade. I didn't have to tell her how I felt. I'd show her. I slid my hand along her arm. Slowly and greedily I made my way into new territory. The subtle pattern of her ribs. The valley of her waist. The swell of her hip. Her tapered thigh. Was this inappropriate? She didn't protest, and I couldn't seem to stop. My hand reached her knee and I pulled her leg around me. It was shockingly good. I could spend days just savoring this sensation. Caressing Bella, kissing her had always been exciting. The lightest, most innocent touch had sent pleasure shooting through me. But this much closeness, feeling her body against mine in this new way was igniting a new need.
I could have anything I wanted. Just like hunting… I'd pick up the scent of the prey, my instincts would possess me, my body was ready to leap and bite and kill, and the thirst would flare up. I'd anticipate and then savor the rush of satisfaction when the first hot spurt of blood flooded my mouth. Because it tasted good, because it soothed the ever-present thirst, but also because I knew the first swallow was only the beginning. I didn't have to stop until I had drunk my fill.
That was what I wanted. To keep going, to have more, to stay inside this fantastic feeling and follow where it was leading. She wouldn't stop me. She wanted it too. Maybe I should trust her, let her decide how far to go, just like I was putting the decision about seeing him into her hands. Her hands…. I wanted to feel them roam all over me, tracing a trail of fire, igniting sparks of pleasure everywhere they traveled.
In the dark, quiet room, it felt as if we were the only two beings in the universe. We were Adam and Eve. Everything was new, and we had world enough and time to explore. I kissed the soft skin of her throat. Rushing underneath my lips was her blood, the most essential substance in the world, not because of its special appeal to me, but because it sustained her. I had never felt this alive. "Not to bring on the ire prematurely, but do you mind telling me what it is about the bed you object to?" My words were muffled against her skin, but I couldn't move my mouth away from her as I pulled her on top of me. I loved this feeling, having her weight on me, her body on mine so hot and supple. I could feel everything as she instinctively pressed herself closer. But she hadn't answered my question. "The bed?" I prompted. "I think it's nice."
"It's unnecessary," she countered breathlessly. My stubborn, seductive angel.
I covered her mouth with mine. I'd prove my point with touch, not words. Her mouth was so mobile, so sweet, so impossibly soft, so luxuriously warm. I wanted to experience her body on mine, under mine, next to mine, entwined with mine. Each slight variation offered a different thrill. There were too many possibilities for a single night. Careful to keep her against me, unwilling to sacrifice a moment of contact, I rolled us over. She was at my mercy, subject to my whim; I had her trapped, pinned. Everything I'd felt before was magnified by my position on top of her. "That's debatable," I said, delighted with the sensations I was creating and the dispute I was winning. "This would be difficult on a couch."
Very slightly I tilted toward her, and the pleasure shot through me like a rocket. All the clever banter flew out of my head. I had to have more. More pressure. More friction. More Bella. I tasted her lips with my tongue. I had no racing heart, but I was so close to her that the pounding of her heart seemed to animate my body too.
"Did you change your mind?" she panted.
In an instant, the question had snapped me back to my senses. Yes, I decided since you were putting your life at risk with that mongrel, you should experience equal danger in my arms, in my bed. Not likely. If she chose to be with others, that was her right. If it was my great good fortune that she chose to be with me, I would not fail to protect her, and it was my misfortune that the greatest danger to her at present was myself. I moved so that we lay facing each other. Not quite as tantalizing as other positions.
"Don't be ridiculous, Bella." My tone was too harsh. It wasn't her fault that I was incapable of giving her everything she wanted. "I was just trying to illustrate the benefits of the bed you don't seem to like. Don't get carried away."
"Too late," she retorted quietly. Too right. I'd escalated our intimacy. I'd let things get out of hand, let her imagination and desires intensify. I'd fanned those flames and then doused them. Naturally she'd be irritated. But once again she gave me the opposite of what I deserved. She didn't scold. She didn't sulk. With four little words, she made my heart soar: "I like the bed."
Author's Note: Edward mentally quotes from Romeo and Juliet. And his "world enough and time" is a famous phrase from a famous poem by Andrew Marvell, who lived just after Shakespeare.
My plan is for two more installments to get to the end of the chapter, when Bella falls back to sleep. In the meantime, if you haven't read Frantic, please do! It's Edward's POV of the first time Bella ran off to La Push and tells how he decided he had to live with it, so it pretty much leads right up to this piece.
I always love to hear what you think, and I try to write back to every review.