A/N...Oh God, so here's the last chapter of Angel's Embrace. There's a bittersweet taste when I do this. Not only is it a feel of accomplishment, but there is some sadness at putting these characters to rest. (For a while at least.)
This starts with some emails to Bella...some catching up from different friends.
I'll see you at the bottom.
Subject: Miss You
I hope Alaska is treating you well. I just wanted to give you an update on things.
Pam and Drew are still dating. They want me to tell you hello. They fight like cats and dogs, but I think they live for the making up part. **rolls eyes**
Anyway, Ariel is seeing some guy from another school, Trevor. He has long hair like Demitri. She's forever going to have a crush on your friend. Lol
Oh and Erika...Oh, Bells, they had to institutionalize her. Ever since Matthew and his friends were found in the woods, they have had to medicate her. It's like she lost a part of herself. He was the stronger personality, I think. She's lost without him. Not that they were close, but Drew and I think it's because they were twins. We had to stop visiting her, she couldn't handle it. It's heartbreaking.
I have to go, Austin's picking me up for dinner. He got a car for his seventeenth birthday. I'm in love with him, Bells. He's everything to me. I never thought I'd have that.
My mom is doing well, taking her time and letting me have my space. I still see Dr. Davis every two weeks. Sometimes my mom comes with me. Dad is now in a high security prison. They succeeded in giving him life without parole. He writes me letters, Bells. I hate it. I don't know what to say to him, but Dr. Davis told me to take my time. She said eventually I would have to face him – whether by mail or in person. I don't know if I'm ready for that.
Please tell Edward hello from us. We miss you guys. Write soon.
Subject: We're home
I wanted to thank you for the trip to see you. What a beautiful home you have. Your father wanted me to tell you that he got his copy of your book. He'd write this himself, but he said he won't touch this "darn machine".
He also wanted me to tell you that Renee and Phil are doing fine. They are moving back to Phoenix next season. Phil got an assistant pitching coach job for a college out there.
Jake and Anna are fine. Seth says he loves you and misses you. And all the pack are itching for another football game. However, all the girls vote basketball for some reason.
Anna wanted me to tell you that Lauren finally "kicked Mike to the curb". She's remarried now and living in San Francisco. She said to tell you that he's tall and lean with messy hair. And Mike is currently fighting a case of the crabs. I don't know why you girls are so involved with that poor couple...
We love you. Give Edward our best and tell your family hello.
See the attached email. That revision you did on that last book...they loved it. I told you. So now, once Eternity has been out a year, they will move on with Forever. Does Eddie know yet? Or are you going to surprise him when you leave for your anniversary? Which, by the way, Emmett says he has all your information ready when you need it. Have fun in Africa...we'll miss you. I'll see you when I pick you up for registration.
It saddens me to have to inform you that Imelda is no longer with us. Her battle with heart disease was a short one. She didn't tell anyone and suffered in silence until close to the end. Marcus pleaded with her to let us call Carlisle, but she said no. She also declined immortality, saying it was time to see her family again.
She was given the highest respects and placed inside the castle walls along with memorials for Aro and Caius. Marcus wouldn't have it any other way. The whole castle is mourning the loss of the little lady that mothered us all, even when we were far older than she could possibly imagine.
I'm so very sorry, Bells. I know you came to love her in the short period you were here and it kills me to have to tell you. She spoke of you often before she left us. I thought you should know.
Carina and I had begun offering the vegetarian lifestyle to others, but even Marcus has struggled to maintain it. He's not sure, and it is a hard choice. We'll continue to try.
Tell Edward the Russians are still "asleep" and that we will let him know if that status changes.
He also wanted me to keep you two posted on Tanya. It's Tanya and Mark that Marcus has posted to guard the Russians. They are to hold their positions until Marcus sends relief. If they leave before being replaced, it's my job to find them and end them. And I'll do it, Bells, I swear. She's finally pushed too far. I saw your heart break that day, I saw the hatred on Edward's face. I can no longer call her a friend when she threatened what I have come to love as my family.
By the way, Marcus has no intention of relieving her. At all – as far as I can tell. He has a terrible sense of humor when he's upset with someone.
We miss you terribly and hope to see you soon. Carina has been begging to see you guys. We'll call you when we know when.
Subject: I can still pass you notes ;)
My sweet girl,
You really shouldn't sneak up on me in my office like that, my sexy girl. But what a delicious surprise. You'll be happy to know that a filing cabinet covered that hole in the wall just fine. ;) How did that happen again?
Since I'm working a double, I'm currently sitting in my office...missing you...and on a "break". I had to cover someone else's shift since we're leaving tomorrow. I know you're busy for the rest of the day. I hope you and Jasper enjoy signing up for class. I know you will watch over each other.
Is the rule still the same? If I tell you a story, do I still get the prize, beautiful? God, I hope so, because there's something I need to tell you. And since I can't have you in my arms, I thought I'd write it. Email isn't my favorite way of telling you, but since I can't tuck this into your pocket, it will have to do.
Remember when we first met and you asked me if Alice saw you coming? I evaded your question, telling you that Alice's visions were subjective – they could change at any moment. She stopped by this morning. She had had a memory resurface from her human days and wanted me to "see" it. While we chatted, she had another memory resurface, but this was from twenty four years ago. She had a vision of you, baby. We never knew what it meant then, so we didn't even pay it any attention. The day you were born, she saw you, my beautiful, brown eyed angel. She saw it all in this brief flash. A sweet dark-haired infant, an unsteady toddler, an awkward child and then the beauty that was you. God, baby, if I knew what it had meant...
The only thing that hadn't been clear in this vision was me. So, it's you, Bella. It's always been you. I hope you know that. I hope you feel that, because if you didn't, I would shatter. Even though I was the one that had come to terms with my set ways, it's always been you. You were meant for me, my love. Who do I thank? You? God? Alice? ;) I want to thank someone, anyone, because I couldn't be more grateful for what you've given me, for what you've filtered out of me. I love you. Thank you so very much.
Our trip tomorrow has been a long time coming. I plan on never leaving your touch if I can help it, sweet girl.
With all my love, always,
P.S. Pack that little blue thing...
I took a deep breath and pocketed my phone. I should have checked my email more often.
"What?" Jasper asked from the driver's seat.
"Imelda passed away," I frowned, looking out over the small campus of the school he and I were going to attend in the fall.
"Oh, little one," he sighed, shaking his head, "I'm sorry."
"She was sick, but didn't tell anyone," I nodded. "And I thought I was independent."
"She was very sad, Bells," he said, pulling the car over. "It was way deep down, because she got such joy out of taking care of people, but it was there. It surfaced when she would look at you."
"That makes sense," I smiled, "I looked like her daughter."
"Oh," he smiled sadly. "Yeah, now that does make sense. I'm sorry, Bells."
"I expected it, really," I sighed. "Edward and I talked about her the day we left on the train. He said that she wasn't young. I wonder if he knew then."
"He might have," my brother nodded, "but he's always going to protect you. Anything that could hurt you or make you sad, he's going to place himself in front of it."
"Nor would I change that, I suppose," I smiled. I looked out over the campus. "What are we taking?"
"I need to take a business management course, Bells," he sighed, looking out with me. "I need to make sure I can handle your career if you continue to write. Eddie doesn't have time to teach me."
"Oh, ok. Well, then let's go," I smiled, opening the car door. I pulled my phone out again, unable to keep the news from Edward. I forwarded Demitri's email and then texted my husband.
B: The prize will always be the same, my love.
I smiled when his reply was instant.
E: I love a constant. ;) And I love you.
B: I forwarded you an email from Demitri. You need to see it.
E: Yes, ma'am.
He didn't text, but instead my phone buzzed in my hand.
"Hey," I smiled.
"I'm very sorry, sweetheart," he sighed on the other end. "Are you ok?"
"Yeah, I mean, we knew, right?" I asked, stopping just outside of the registration building. Jasper waited patiently by my side.
"It doesn't make it easier," he sighed. I could almost imagine his hand running roughly through his hair. "You must be on campus," he mumbled. I could hear his hand rubbing his chest.
"Yeah," I smiled, "I feel it too, baby. I'll be home in a few hours."
"Ok, my love," he said and I could hear a smile in his voice. "I'll be home around midnight. What time is our flight?"
"And my suggestions for packing?" He chuckled. Jasper smiled and turned away.
"Are under my complete control, Dr. Masen," I snorted. "Go to work."
"Yes, Mrs. Masen," he laughed, "Love you."
I stood in the middle of my bedroom, going over the last of the packing. Satisfied with everything, I grabbed my laptop and went downstairs to the living room. Missing Edward's warmth, I lit a fire in the fireplace and sat down in the chair. I opened the playlist entitled Classical Edward. I was in the mood to hear him at the piano. The playlist had every song he'd ever played. It was a very long list.
I needed to answer the emails I had read earlier, aside from Edward's.
Subject: Thank You
I wanted to thank you for letting me know about Imelda. You were right, she had become important to me while we were in Italy. I can't imagine a better place for her than inside the walls of Volterra. She loved you all and took great pride in caring for you.
I also wanted to thank you for the update on Tanya. I trust that you will keep us posted with her status. She will not live through her next meeting with me.
I wish you luck with teaching "old dogs new tricks" when it comes to our diet. It's not easy for some, and almost impossible for others. Have patience, maybe one day we can start to see the changes.
Give Carina my love and I look forward to visits from you guys in the future.
Subject: RE: We're home
Dad and Sue,
We were glad to have you. It was fun to be able to show you our new place. I know you worry when we go away. But I want you to be able to see us as long as you want to.
Edward's doing well at the hospital, the kids absolutely adore him. And yes, Sue, the nurses do too. ;)
Dad, Alice may call you in the next few weeks. She's looking into her past. She may need your help in acquiring some old records. She doesn't remember her life before the Cullens and has been trying to put pieces together for years. All we've been able to discover is that she was from the South and she had been committed to an asylum before being pronounced dead. Imagine not knowing where you came from or who you were. It's rare that anything can darken our Alice's demeanor, but we know that this is something that has plagued her since before she joined the family.
I know you will help her. It will mean more to her than you could possibly know. Thanks, Dad.
Edward and I are going away for our anniversary. I will call you once we return. Enjoy the book.
Subject: happy for you
Oh, don't be so hard on Pam and Drew. There's something to be said for making up. ;) Please, tell them hello.
I'm very glad that you are doing well with your mom. I'm even happier that you still continue to see Dr. Davis. I can't give you the answer when it comes to your dad, Wen. You'll know when it's time to talk with him. You will know when you're ready to hear him out. He needs to apologize for his addictions, his abuse, and his past. And you need to hear it, but only when you can handle it.
I'm very sorry to hear about Erika. Matthew's death was tragic and seemingly unnecessary. I hope with time that she will be ok. If you try and see her again, please give her our best wishes.
I'm very happy for you and Austin. Edward told me he spoke of you a lot when we weren't around. He's loved you for a long time. Take care of each other.
Edward and I are doing well and miss you. Jasper, Alice, Rose and Emmett all say hello to everyone.
Take care, Wendy, I miss you.
My breath hitched as I deleted the email account that Wendy knew. I was going to miss her, but I could no longer keep in touch. Once she tried to answer my reply, her email would be rejected. It seemed harsh, but Alice said it would be the only way.
It was an odd day. Finding out about Imelda, severing ties with Wendy, and signing up for classes with just me and Jasper – they were all just huge changes. I knew that Edward worried the most about these things when it came to my immortality. He hated that he couldn't be there for every single thing that I went through lately. But if the first few years of my married life with Edward taught me anything, it was that no matter what, he was there for me.
Suddenly, I just needed to tell him.
B: I love you. Did you know that?
E: Yes, love. As I love you. And you can tell me again in about an hour.
B: How many today?
E: Too many for my liking. You're the only girl who's dirty thoughts I want to hear. ;)
B: As it should be. I need your arms around me when you get home.
As I read her last text, I knew that there was something bothering my love. Instead of replying, I called her.
"Edward, you better not be busy," she scolded. She feared I called too much, stepped away from my duties too often. That was actually not the case. It had been a quiet night.
"You are the most important thing, love," I smiled, "tell me what's wrong."
"Little things, baby," she sighed. I could hear classical music in the background. She missed me. A part of me wanted to bolt from the hospital to assuage whatever was bothering her, but I couldn't until relieved. "I emailed Wendy for the last time. Imelda. Classes without you...it's silly stuff, Edward," she huffed.
"Silly or not, I want to know," I frowned. "And it's not silly saying goodbye, baby. I fear that will always bother you."
"I know," she said, shifting around on the other end. "I hate that you worry. I will move on."
"We have plenty of time to talk about this, my sweet girl," I sighed, running a hand through my hair. "I have you to myself for a whole week."
"Ok," she said, but I could hear a smile in her voice. "Did Alice really see me?" She asked and I laughed, shaking my head.
"Yeah," I chuckled. "Her memory worked in like a circular way. She was remembering things from that tape that James left, which led her to thoughts of you and then that vision came through."
"How weird," she giggled. "Do you remember it from the first time?"
"Yes," I sighed, "but we didn't know, love. She often got flashes of things that held no context for us. She learned to push them aside to be able to focus on things that were more significant at the moment. We didn't know what a baby meant way back then."
"I bet not," she laughed. "I had monkey hair as a baby." She cracked up.
"You didn't," I snorted, but laughed with her anyway. "You were perfect."
"You're so biased, Edward," she groaned.
"Yes," I chuckled, "I can't help it. They're paging me, beautiful. I'll see you in a little while. And then you're mine for a whole week," I growled, smiling when she giggled again.
"Ok," she sighed.
"So," my beautiful wife smirked, turning to me in her seat, "I have a surprise for you, handsome."
"What's that?" I smiled, leaning my head back to the head rest of our first class seats. I reached up, unable to keep myself from touching her. I traced my finger along her cheek bone and under her chin.
"They approved my second story," she beamed proudly. "Jasper's been avoiding you in order not to spill the beans." She giggled, taking my hand in hers.
"Ours?" I asked, my mouth hanging open. "Really?"
"Mmhm," she nodded fervently. "They loved it...better than the first."
"I told you, smart girl," I whispered, pulling her closer and kissing her lips. "Tell me. What did they say?"
"They said that the characters had more depth, more heart, and a longing that they had been looking for," she paused, huffing a laugh that it was us they were talking about.
"Longing, indeed," I chuckled, tucking her hair behind her ear.
"Right?" She snorted, "Anyway, they also said that the female readers will be able to identify with my heroine. They said my hero," she smirked, raising an eyebrow at me, "is perfectly romantic."
"I do try," I sighed haughtily.
"Hush, silly," she snickered, kissing my lips. "They want more, but they want us." She frowned, her brow wrinkling slightly. "They're giving me all the time I need to renew my contract. Technically, it's not up until the second book is published, which won't be for a while."
"What's next, sweet girl?" I asked, trying not to glow in pure pride for my wife, but noticing the worry on her face.
"I can't, Edward," she sighed, cupping my face, her eyes overflowing with love. "I just can't write about being apart from you. I can't write about Jake and Victoria and the pain. I don't think it's anyone's business."
"You don't have to, baby," I shook my head as she laid her head on my shoulder. I kissed the top of her head, closing my eyes at how her scent alone was my world. "Can I tell you something?" I whispered, feeling her nod. She took in a deep breath and pulled back to look at me. "I'm not sure I want you to," I frowned, feeling like a jackass for saying it out loud.
"Oh thank God," she gushed, a smile spreading over her face. "I was sure you were going to pull a Carlisle moment on me and tell me I was stronger than I thought, tell me that it would be good for me."
"You're the strongest person I know, Bella," I smiled, "but I think it would be too much, baby. I think you've healed. You've become what you were always meant to be."
"Your wife?" She giggled.
"Besides that," I sighed, smirking at her for interrupting, "though that is the most important role you have." She laughed, shaking her head. "You've let it all go, sweetheart. I see the happiness that radiates from you. I think if you write that," I shook my head and sighed, "it will dredge it all back up."
"Me too," she whispered, kissing my lips softly. "I'll tell Jasper no."
"What did he say about it?"
"He was unwilling to form an opinion on this one," she shrugged. "He told me to talk to you. He must have known your feelings on it."
"He might have, though never underestimate Alice," I chuckled.
I sat on the steps of the cabin we had rented, watching the rain clouds move in. Despite the fact that we were on vacation, Edward still checked in with the hospital. There was one particular little boy he was concerned with. Toby was starting his first round of chemotherapy this week and Edward wanted to see how the first treatment went. I listened with a slight smile of pride creeping over my face as he paced on the phone.
Esme had been right, he had completely immersed himself in the kids. To watch little girls gaze up at him in wonder, to see little boys listen to every word he said – well, hell there was nothing like it. And he was so good with them – patient, sweet, gentle and funny – all the things he said he wasn't the last time he was a doctor.
"Let the parents know, Eden," he sighed, "the weakness is more prominent after he's done the third treatment. We'll have to keep his fluids up, he won't keep anything down for at least a day or two."
"Yes, Dr. Masen," she swooned on the phone. I snorted a little too loudly, feeling a pillow hit me from behind. I turned around to see him roll his eyes.
"Yes, Dr. Masen," I copied, losing the fight with my laugh when another pillow was launched my way from inside our room.
"And Eden," he said, threatening me with another pillow and a raised eyebrow, "I'll be out of contact for the next two days. Leave messages with the resort's service. I'll check in when I get back."
"Yes, Dr. Masen," I mouthed with her with an exaggerated eye roll, catching the last pillow and hiding my laugh. He hung up the phone and stalked towards me. "She's got it bad, hot doc," I cracked up, launching over the railing with Edward hot on my trail.
"You think you're funny, don't you?" He growled, just missing me as I used a tree to place a defense between us.
"She's so got a doc/nurse fantasy," I laughed, bolting past him and landing back on the porch of our cabin.
"She's not the only one, Mrs. Masen," he snorted, standing at the bottom of the steps. His smug look was sexy as hell as he hooked his thumbs in the front pockets of his jeans. And damn it, if he wasn't right. In fact, I wanted to play "doctor" with him so bad I could taste it.
"Oh, you'd just love me in one of those short, tight nurses outfits, wouldn't you, Edward?" I teased, folding my arms across my chest. "Forget cheerleaders..." I squealed as he leaped up the steps and picked me up.
"Hell yes," he growled into my neck. I laughed, burying my face in his hair. "I want it as much as you want a full check up, my naughty girl."
"You really need to stop sneaking up on me at home!" I gasped, my mouth hanging open, "Stop parking four houses away!" He laughed, shaking his head.
"Not a chance," he smirked, sitting down on the steps with me on his lap. We were waiting for the sun to set before going hunting. "I've caught some very interesting things that way."
"Eavesdropper," I growled, pouting fabulously until he kissed me sweetly.
"I've done it twice, Bella," he defended, "and it was only by necessity. There was a party on our street the first night, and the second was when they were delivering the piano."
"Hmmf," I rolled my eyes, my mood changing when he mentioned the piano. "I really want to thank you for that," I nodded, cupping his face. "The house feels like home with it there."
"It does, sweet girl," he smiled, nuzzling my nose with his. "I'm sorry I don't play as often as I used to."
"Me too, but it's ok," I smiled, running my fingers through his hair. "How's Toby?"
"Scared," he sighed, wrapping his arms around my waist and pulling me closer. "He's only nine and the surgeon thinks they got all of it. I'm not sure, his scent is still off. But he needs a few months of follow up chemo just in case." Edward and Carlisle used not only their flawless memories as doctors, but their vampiric senses as well. Without a stethoscope, they could hear fluid in lungs, heart problems and joints that moved wrong. Their sense of smell was just as important. I learned most recently that cancer actually had a scent all its own.
"If they didn't get it all and you find it," I started out of pure curiosity, "how do you let them know without raising suspicion?"
"Tests," he nodded, "and that's a good question, love. I would order more tests to find it and show it to the surgeon." I played with the sleeve of his plain white t-shirt. "I've missed this," he sighed, looking forlorn. "I've missed being with you everyday."
"Aren't you enjoying your job, baby?" I asked, tilting my head at him. He nodded, looking guilty. "I miss you more than I can tell you, but I want you happy too, Edward."
"I thought it was going to be a challenge," he stated, "but I didn't think it would be so different this time."
I smiled, kissing his nose softly. "I'd like to think that's a good thing, love," I snickered. "You're so good with them and you're so at ease with it. Esme and Carlisle make it work. We can too."
"Carlisle says it's in the scheduling," he nodded, pressing his forehead to mine. "Three shifts in a row requires three days off or something like that."
"Well, once I start classes, let's work towards that, ok?"
"What are you taking?" He smiled at the mention of school.
"Classic lit and some history with Jasper," I smiled. "Rose told me to take nursing courses," I giggled.
"Could you?" He asked, his mouth hanging open. "I mean, would the shield help you if you decided to?" God, he looked so hopeful.
"Maybe," I smiled. "We'll see. How ironic is it that the school offers a phlebotomy class?"
His laugh was beautiful and deep, his head shaking. "You know they call them the vampires of the hospital. That's all they do is take blood," he chuckled, kissing me and standing up. Holding me in his arms, he said, "You would make a beautiful distraction at work." His voice was smooth and velvety, his breath caressing my face.
"We would get into trouble, handsome," I whispered against his lips, smiling when he chuckled and nodded. Apparently, that was something he was willing to risk – the shameless thing. "No promises. I don't know if I'm ready to work with blood, Edward."
"I understand, baby," he nodded. "It's not easy. Don't force it if you aren't ready."
"Ok," I smiled, setting my feet on the ground. "Ready?"
"Oh, Bella," he chuckled darkly, "I've been ready for this since you first mentioned it."
"Me too," I smiled, biting my lip. "Let's go."
African Lions. Although they prefer to live in a family setting, a pride, there are exceptions called nomads. The males can grow to be about five hundred pounds, eight feet long, and the females four hundred pounds, five feet long. They are inactive during the day, preferring to groom and play at dusk and hunt at dawn. They choose to live in the grasslands and woodlands of Eastern Africa, occasionally drifting towards the Sahara Desert. They never live in the jungle.
And it was two nomads we were hunting. They had gotten a taste for humans, terrifying a small village just about twenty miles away from the resort where we were staying. Local hunters couldn't catch them. Women and children had come up missing.
Edward and I agreed before we even came to Africa that we didn't want to upset a pride or take away the mother of a litter of cubs. None of that. We respected the animal itself. We respected that Africa and all its animals were in trouble from poachers. But once Emmett found a few local headlines about the nomads, we were all for it. Get to hunt something we wanted, and save a village. It was a win/win situation.
Of course Emmett was trying to get us to hunt other things, and while we agreed with him, it wasn't a priority. A hyena sounded interesting, a giraffe just a lot of trouble. Elephants, rhinoceros, and cheetahs were all endangered, so we put our foot down. Although, I had to admit, I was curious about Edward versus a cheetah. I mean, who would be faster? How beautiful would that be to see running across the Savannah as the sun rose?
A light rain fell softly around us as night fell upon us. We had hunted in forests and grasslands at home. Nothing was as noisy as where we were. Despite the fact that everything near us was quiet due to our presence, a little further away was teeming with activity. And the scents – they were potent, full of life.
Do hyenas really sound like they're laughing? Absolutely. Do bats as big as your head swoop silently through the night? Yep. And does the deep reverberating roar of one lion calling to another make my husband's eyes turn jet black? Sexily so. I had seen his reaction in Italy when the tiger had been revealed during a magic trick. His skin seemed to roll with want, need and anticipation. I had seen Edward hunt mountain lions, his body filling with the strength of their blood, his libido overflowing to the point of combustion. There was absolutely nothing compared to watching him hunt his favorite prey.
To the far, far west, we could see the lights of fires of the small village. To the east, the call of the lions roared again. Even my own bloodlust rose to the surface at the thought of all that strength, all that power, all that beauty within reach. And they smelled as close to human as I had ever encountered. I imagined it was due to the lion's diet on the villagers.
"They're hunting us," he chuckled darkly as he pointed to one coming towards us. The other was behind us, crouched low in the tall grasses. "They don't know what we are," he smiled. "Their lack of fear of humans has made them forget to protect themselves, I think," he nodded, his eyes locked on the one in front of us. My ears stayed tuned into the one behind us. I wanted to watch Edward. I wanted to wait for mine in order to watch my predator at his most challenged.
Edward gasped at hearing my thoughts, his eyes blackening even more, if that was possible. A low, sexy, feral purr erupted from him as he looked at me. I shrugged. What more was there to say? I wanted it. I had fantasized about this moment for years. The fact that I was about to get it, was nothing short of a dream.
"Only if I can watch you," he crooned, gripping the front of my t-shirt and pulling me to him. I nodded slowly, my underwear already damp with want. His sweet breath caressed my lips as he barely brushed them with his own.
"Please, go," I begged, my eyes flickering to the lion in front of us taking a few steps more. It sniffed the air, shaking his head to clear it. It had no idea what was about to happen.
"'Kay," he breathed, his chest rising and falling with every heavy pant. The rain fell a little harder around us as he stared at me for an immeasurable amount of time. Droplets of water dripped down both our faces, Edward reaching up to wipe a few from my face with just his fingertips.
As always, the hunt for carnivores pushed us to the edge of our desire, causing the current between us to charge to almost a painful level. But this – this was a completely higher level. I felt it from my shoulders to the tips of my fingers, from my chest to the tops of my feet. Even my scalp prickled from the feelings around us.
The lion to our north chuffed in confusion, trying to force his dominance over the situation. I moaned with loss when Edward let go of my shirt, taking a few steps back. I chanced a glance at the lion behind me. He was still crouched, still waiting. He was not the dominant one. He was there as back up only. He would feed when he was allowed.
Edward's lion was huge, a full, dark mane and sharp, but crazed eyes. He turned to circle us as Edward crouched ready to spring. I saw a dark look of entertainment flicker across my husband's face. He was going to take his time, draw this experience out. For the first time, Edward would play like his brother, Emmett. I couldn't help but smile.
My lion snorted, shuffling around on the ground, but made no effort to move from his spot. He was, however, watching everything with keen eyes.
Edward sprinted, feigning as prey to catch his lion's attention. The cat's muscles rolled under his fur as he charged, coming to a stop when my husband did. I bit my lip as a giant paw reached out in a powerful swipe, Edward dodging it deftly. He shifted in a blur of movement, confusing the lion again. With a diving roll, Edward landed beside his prey, only to have that giant paw reach out and swipe again, catching my husband's soaking wet t-shirt at the shoulder. With a deadly smile, Edward caught that very same paw, flipping the cat over on to his back with a loud, low growl and an echoing thud.
The lion landed with a grunt, air rushing from its lungs, legs flailing. I couldn't help the wanton moan that left me as I watched every muscle ripple in Edward's torso and arms as he pinned the huge cat's head to the grassy floor. My legs pressed together as his teeth sliced the pulse point just under the lion's front leg – the leg that he was still gripping.
And when Edward stood, his fists clenched, his breathing erratic, my mouth fell open. He gripped at the neck of his ruined t-shirt, ripping it straight from his torso as his eyes never left mine. He dropped it to the ground like a shed skin, but stood his ground. I couldn't even imagine the strength, the sexual desire he was feeling. But I could see it rolling off of him in waves. I could see his jeans bulging with his desire held painfully behind his zipper. God, I fucking wanted him and I hadn't even hunted yet.
Soft padding steps sounded from behind me, my head snapping around to see the second lion going in to investigate. I wasn't sure I wanted to play, but damn sure I wanted a taste. It wasn't about wrestling for me. Without pause, I wrapped my shield around the now trotting lion. He wasn't going anywhere. I loosened my shield just enough so that he could lunge for me, swiping at me just like his partner did to Edward. With my sharp vision, I watched with fascination as his claws dulled against my shield, filing down to almost nothing.
This was so much better than bears, than cougars, and it beat the hell out of deer. His scent drove my bloodlust into overdrive, venom pooling in the back of my throat. I spun when he launched at me, both front paws leaving the ground in a grasping motion, like he was trying to hug me. Using my strength and my shield, I caught both paws, crouched and pushed the lion onto his back. His pulse point was at my lips before he could struggle.
My God, the power I felt, the strength. My core throbbed as Edward's scent wafted around me. He was close as I drained my prey. I drained him faster than I had ever drained anything before. I stood, squeezing my eyes closed. Rain dripped down my face, and I shook my head to clear it. Before I could even register that Edward was in front of me, he was atop of me, pressing me into the wet grasses.
His bare torso glistened with droplets of rain and moonlight. My head fell back as he ground his steel hard erection into me, diving for my neck. "I want you so fucking badly, Bella," he growled, his voice not even sounding real. "I can't...I won't be able to stop," he snarled, biting at the soft spot behind my ear and grinding into me again.
"Don't stop, don't stop," I chanted, my fingers digging into his shoulder blades.
With desperate grunts and whimpers, we shed our clothing. It flew around us, landing on shrubs and low tree branches. I cried out as he slipped swiftly down my body, spreading my legs with his hands. "Your scent," he whispered, "my God, love." A sound close to a sob erupted from him as he licked up the inside of my thigh.
"Jesus, Edward," I growled, gripping his hair as he licked up the inside of the other thigh. "Please, you can't tease, you just fucking can't!"
"I just want it all," he growled, his tongue finally meeting my heated center.
I don't think a coherent word escaped my lips as his mouth ravaged me. He didn't hold me back, he didn't pin me down. He let me writhe under his ministrations. He let me grind against his face, my legs pulling him in closer as his tongue dove into me without mercy. He used both of his thumbs to hold me open, to press against my clit. He drove me to an achingly blissful climax, only to continue until I came again and again.
My body shook with the aftermath of three consecutive orgasms. My whole upper body jackknifed as he bit and licked at my hip bones, my navel and sucking my puckered nipples into his mouth. It was sweet torture as with just his mouth, he was bringing me close again. I wrapped my legs around his hips and flipped him over.
I straddled his stomach, pinning his shoulders and meeting his smirk with one of my own. I dove for his lips, pressing myself against him as his flavor exploded in my mouth. He tasted of blood, my arousal and all Edward. He fisted my wet hair from my face, gripping my hip so that he could grind his erection through my folds. He needed release, and he was going to take it.
"Bella, if you don't fuck me," he grunted through gritted teeth, "I'm going to explode! Please...now, baby."
I pushed myself up, lining him up with my entrance and sinking slowly over him. I think we both growled, both rolled our eyes and both ground our hips at the same time. A shiver ran through me as I rolled my hips over him, taking him in as deep as I could. God, he fucking felt good.
We were not gentle. We were not slow. We were out of control, pulling and pushing against each other.
My coil tightened again as I watched Edward bite down on his bottom lip and thrust up to meet me with every roll of my hips. He gripped my ass hard as he hardened further inside of me.
"Come, Edward," I growled, my head falling back as his whole body rocked underneath me. He was lost in his climax, my own body milking him as he rolled us over, pressing me back into the grass. I smelled them before he did.
Edward's head snapped up, his nostrils flaring. His whole body jerked when my shield snapped tight around us. "No, no, no," I breathed, shaking my head. "Look at me," I commanded as I grabbed his face. "Are you under control?"
He shook his head no. "I need more, love, but we have to go."
"Ok, the shield stays put," I said, my eyebrow rising. He nodded again in agreement. The dangers of hunting close to where humans inhabited was that bloodlust could get away from us. We were far enough away from the village, but there were humans moving in closer. He jerked his jeans on, handing me my own clothes.
"Our kills?" I asked, before he could grab my hand.
"Leave them," he said, "they'll be happy to know they're gone." With a beautifully sweet smile, he scooped me up onto his back and took off. We didn't stop until he threw me onto the bed of our cabin, falling into me once again. I squealed as his tickling fingers ripped our wet clothing off of us and dropped them to the floor. His chuckle was deep, sexy, his mouth meeting mine in the deepest of kisses. This time we lost ourselves with sweet smiles, soft laughs and feathery caresses.
Our time away was perfect, making up for all the days we had been apart since Edward had first started at the hospital. I fell into our first class seats with a laugh as two flight attendants tried to help Edward with the overhead compartment.
"Shut it," he growled in my ear as he took his seat beside me.
"'Kay," I sighed, nuzzling his cheek with my nose. I was blissfully sated in every way. I had needed to lose myself in my husband without interruption, without his work or our siblings. I had wanted his undivided attention.
"Me too," he smiled, kissing my forehead. I couldn't help but smile smugly when the flight attendants' faces fell with disappointment. They both pouted as I leaned in to kiss him fully on the lips – just because I could. He was mine.
We found out Edward was, indeed, just as fast as a cheetah. He didn't hunt her, but did catch her, laughing as she tore off into the trees. We talked about how both of us missed each other throughout the day. I promised to visit the hospital more often and Edward promised to find a schedule that gave us more time off together, though we both knew that it might not happen. We vowed not to let time get away from us.
We spoke of Alice and her continuing hunt for her past. I told Edward that I had asked Charlie for help and he thought that was a good idea. We talked about Demitri and Carina, and how much we missed them. We both had come to love them like family and hoped that they would visit London soon.
Edward listened as I explained how I felt when I ended my contact with Wendy and how I felt when I found out about Imelda. His sweet face was attentive and slightly worried, but I assured him that the only relationships I needed were the ones I was currently maintaining. And the only relationship I couldn't live without was ours.
But above all else, we talked about nothing. Nonsense. We both babbled on and on, laughing and wrestling together as the days of our vacation flew by. We made love several times a day, unable to stay away from each other's touch, unable to get close enough to each other to settle our hearts. If we could have melted together, we would have still not been close enough.
I reached up and ran my fingers through Edward's hair, kissing his nose. "Happy Anniversary, Edward," I sighed.
"Happy Anniversary, my sweet, beautiful girl," he crooned, his warm, honey eyes were practically liquid with love. I smiled again as one of the pouting flight attendants huffed as she walked by. "Bella," he chuckled a warning.
"Mine," I purred, smiling when he laughed and nodded. "And don't tell me you can't hear the thoughts of the gentleman two rows up in the middle aisle." The round, red-faced man was practically drooling as he watched the two of us.
"I can," he smirked. "Want to know what he wants?"
"No," I cracked up. "Only what you want."
"A kiss, baby."
I was only happy to oblige him. We tried to keep it as chaste as possible, well aware that we were surrounded by travelers. I sighed when I pulled back, thinking about the fact that he started back to work the next day. "We can get used to it, right?" I asked, leaning my head back to the head rest.
"I hope so," he sighed, tucking my hair behind my ear. "We've done ok so far." I nodded, picking up his hand and turning his wedding band. I stared up at him, losing myself in his warm and loving gaze. Suddenly, the activity of people boarding the plane disappeared and all I saw was my husband, my best friend, my hero. My Edward.
"You're my life," I whispered, my brow wrinkling at the severe truth in that simple statement.
"As you are mine, love," he smiled, linking his fingers with mine as the seat belt sign came on. "Let's go home."
"Yeah, home," I smiled, realizing that single word – home – was really just sitting next to me. And he always would be by my side. He was my home.
A/N...So they finally got their Africa trip. Here's how that ended up at the end...it never fit ANYWHERE in the story. There was never time, or they couldn't leave...so it became a goal. So giving it to them as an anniversary present was perfect. Times were happy, there were no more threats...perfect.
Some of you asked for one more romp with Dirty Edward...well, there you go. He was dirty, feral, half naked and soaking wet, not to mention completely lost to his lust. Can I get a hell yeah? LMAO **wipes sweaty brow**
Some of you also asked for a little summary on the new story, Nature of Love...Ok, no prob...
Let me start by saying that I got this idea by watching a special on the Applachian Trail. It's over 2100 miles from Georgia to Maine, through 13 states, and it's completely done on foot. There are hostels along the way, not to mention campsites. They say it takes approximately 6 months from beginning to end.
Nature of Love is not about the AT...but about Bella Swan, photojournalist, documenting the experience. It's about the relationships that develop along the way with brothers, Edward and Emmett, and friendships, hardships, and getting to know each other for the next 6 months.
The whole gang will be there. And there's more to this summary on the first chapter. I'm actually quite proud of this story and will be working with a different beta this time around. Jenrar has taken on this project and I can't wait to see where we go with it.
I want to really, really, REALLY thank Brits23 for her amazing beta work on AE. She has been so supportive through this story, guiding me, pointing out the little shit I miss, and I'm sure rolling her eyes when I make the same mistake over and over! LMAO Love you and thank you for all your help.
My readers and reviewers...I've fallen in love with each and every one of you. So please stick with me if you can or want to. I am aware that some of you don't do AH, but I hope to see some of you in the next reviews. I live for your theories, your rants, your praise and your criticisms.
Well, there you have it. Please review for me. Let me have feedback on our little vamps before I dive into the human world for a little while. I need you guys to have patience with the third installment of the Angel series. I'm not putting a time limit on this one. It will happen, I just don't know when.
I've babbled enough...let me hear from you. I hope you liked it...Later.