Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to SMeyer
A/N: Once again, I owe my gratitude to Spanglemaker9 and Cher for being the ones that help make this story a reality.
My thanks to TeamEPOV who decided to stand by me and Witchward. This last chapter of E:ofA&W is dedicated to you.
Chapter 28 & 29 – EPOV (E:ofA&W)
The four Elements swirled at a ferocious speed around and within the circle as I held Bella to me, curling my body around her smaller frame like a shield against that thing that was gnawing at the circle like a rabid beast.
After what Bella had shown me through our bond, and if we survived this- no, when we survived this- I would work to deserve those feelings she manifested for this ritual. The love that she created pushed me like no other to reach for the elemental heart of Air and Water to match her strength of Earth and Fire.
Because of her, I was more than I thought I could be.
I wanted to show her everything I felt for her and hoped that she would see me as more than the ass I had been when we first met. She had opened my eyes to the uglier things that I had ignored in my life.
When we got out of this, I'd give her anything.
Holding the same intensity in emotions as my mate's, I watched as the Elements completely merged and became the force of a brilliant white energy, then gave the command to release the power to do its work to drive the dark presence towards its prison.
The sight was both exhilarating and horrifying, seeing the mix of powers trying to dominate the other. I focused on the belief that the Elements were stronger and pushed all of the positive combined energies with Bella into them.
Of course, the exertion of the control we needed to maintain started to ebb. Sleep came rushing up to greet us all.
"Keep holding the circle!" I yelled over the roar of the violent struggle, knowing what we did in these next few moments was critical for all.
I held Bella tightly, resting my check against her soft hair, inhaling her personal scent to keep me grounded, but she was starting to fade fast, becoming a weight in my arms.
"Hold on," I encouraged, but was falling with her, feeling the darkness of unconsciousness seeping into my vision.
No, we need to hold strong.
Hold on, Bella. Please don't give up, we're almost there.
…falling asleep. Can'tkeepmyeyesopen…
Can't give up…have to tell you that…I love you.
We were alive.
At first I thought I was dreaming, that I was back home in bed as Bella's essence was heavy around me, but the level of fear coming from her alerted me that things were not alright. Her fear transferred through the bond in such a way that it became mine. It intensified the moment I saw Alice lying on the ground, looking lifeless. The sight had scared me into action, out of my wits with worry. They had been on the outside of the circle and the closest to the Soul Eater, the ones that would be hurt first before reaching the center.
Waiting for some sign of life from Alice felt like it took ages. The thought of having to go on without my twin was just as unthinkable as losing my mate. Looking over at Emmett, Rose, and Jasper- they were my extended family, brothers and sisters I knew since I was born…
…and it was with the greatest relief when they all showed signs of waking. I knew that it had been a real possibility that none of us would have made it, but if I had and one of them hadn't, even Bella…no, were alive. We had a second chance…I had a second chance to make this all right for us.
The drive back was hard.
The Soul Eater had inflicted massive damage before it was trapped. The acrid smell in the air was becoming denser as we moved closer to town, alerting us to where the majority of the thing had landed before coming after us. The tangled mess that was Emmett's jeep was nothing compared to what I was seeing outside the passenger window. The pictures of the destructions of the other Covens hadn't prepared me for the reality of what it could do.
Bella trembled against me as I held her close. She was affected, just as much as I was about our home. I had encouraged her not to look, but that didn't stop me from doing so. I could not look away even though seeing all of the devastation made me sick to my stomach.
The feeling of knowing that my real work as future Coven leader was about to begin became more of a certainty within my mind. It would take years to rebuild this land by looks of the chard landscape. All that I could think about was how to re-cultivate the life to make it safe for the townspeople, the Tribe, and for the Coven.
Yes, this was my destiny as a leader. I would emulate my mom and my mate with my gifts and learn to be a healer.
Our reunion with the rest of our immediate families was emotional for all of us. Renee had immediately gone emotional when she saw Bella, but I couldn't fault her. I felt the rumble of all sorts of emotions when I saw Mom. Her lip trembled as she embraced first Alice and then me.
"My babies…my babies," she whispered to us over and over again.
Mom, I love you…I listened to you. I listened to Bella. You were right. You were both right.
I was so choked with so many feelings that I couldn't say the words, but I promised her silently as I returned her fierce hug that I would become a better man.
I was glad to be headed back to the cottage to rest with Bella. As much as it meant to me to see my family alive, to be able to hold Mom and come to an understanding with the Swan family as my own, I felt almost giddy that we were going to be alone.
"Such a girl!" my inner voice said.
"Fuck off!" I responded. "I want to be with her."
Flashes of our time earlier in the library came to me, and the feelings that Bella shared during the ritual became a persistent thought. I wanted her to tell me that everything I felt wasn't just one-sided, that she wanted me just as much as I wanted her: that her caring feelings for me were more than just looking at me as her best friend, but feeling that equaled the love I had for her.
She stood in the middle of our living room, disheveled and tired, but I all I noticed was the quiet strength in her body, one that was tempting me even now to hold and caress with my mouth and hands.
She turned to face me, looking through me, questing through our bond for my feelings. She reached out to know my wants, my needs, before her own. Her eyes reflected her care for me…but could she feel how deep mine was for her?
Did she even know what she did to me when she looked at me like that?
The bond hummed to me of a budding desire, wanting us to touch, or was that her?
Or was it me?
I walked over to her, happy that she didn't avoid the feeling.
She stepped into my arms, and I held her as close to me as possible. Hearing her sigh in contentment as her body fit into mine made me feel that I was all that she needed. It was a powerful feeling, one that gave me a lot of hope that our future together was going to be all that I had ever wished for us.
The bond changed tune as Bella was emoting something big. Something that caused the firefly-like sparks to appear around us…something that I had felt when the ritual was cast yesterday.
Something that was akin to my feelings for her.
I was lightheaded, giddy, as I lifted my head from where it had rested against hers and reached up to cradled her face between my hands. She was almost delicate within my hold, but her eyes, her very expressive brown eyes, spoke of the strength that lay inside her. She was no damsel.
"Edward?" she whispered, sounding uncertain as the emotions grew.
I moved my fingers across her cheeks, coaxing her with gentle touches to continue.
Please tell me you want to be mine as much as I am yours. Tell me you feel for me as much as I feel for you. Tell me you love me.
"I should have said this before- I wanted to- I should have told you-"
"Tell me," I nearly begged. My stomach tightened in anticipation.
"I love you."
Yes! She's mine.
Mother God, Father God, thank you for this woman.
I pulled her to me and kissed across her beautiful face, feeling beyond euphoric, wanting to do something insane like run to the top of a mountain and yell that she was mine.
"Thank you…thank you," I told her instead, grateful at my second chance with her.
"Why are you thanking me?" she asked, laughing into my shoulder.
"I didn't think I would ever hear you say that," I responded, placing another kiss on her flushed cheek.
"That I love you?"
God. I don't think I would ever tire of her saying those words.
"After how we started- our families- I thought I was lucky to have you care for me as your friend-"
"How could you think that?" Completely surprised, she stopped me from finishing my confession of my feelings.
Glancing quickly into her determined eyes and then away, feeling slightly, okay a lot out of my element with these emotions, I knew that I needed to speak of everything in my head and in my heart so that there would be nothing to even remotely make Bella second guess herself in the future about where I stood in regards to her.
Taking the plunge, I began, "You're smart, kind, beautiful, brave, forgiving, loving…even those who haven't been as kind to you, you give them another chance-"
A flood of embarrassment moved through the bond as Bella placed her hands on my face to lift my eyes to be on level with hers, once again trying to stop me from speaking.
"No, Bella, listen to me," I pleaded, trying to remain focused and calm. "You are all those things. You have given this Coven a leader…but you have given me everything I could want in a mate. Everything…Isabella, I'm so in love with you."
When did I become like this? This need to make someone truly care for me?
"When you met her," came the resounding answer from my subconscious.
She looked dazed; her eyebrows rose in surprise. I would have been worried that I hadn't reached her if it wasn't for the emotional language of the bond. Bella was just as affected as I was. I made her feel things like I felt them.
"Now you understand how it feels to hear the words," I whispered, bending my head to kiss her.
As our lips touched, all that I was and felt for her, I gave. The kiss was much more than what we had shared before in the library. That was lust talking, this was something else mixed in with the physical. This was love for my mate.
Needing more than her lips to touch, I moved my hands under her clothes, restless to be closer to her. God, her skin was so soft, her scent was pushing me over the edge, and I wanted nothing more than to be inside her.
Pulling away slightly, I removed my jacket and then pushed hers off her shoulders. My mouth found Bella's as I pulled her back to me to remove the rest of her clothes. The thrill that went through me as she unbuttoned my shirt, small, but firm touches against my skin, left me having to fight off the urge to start ripping her clothes from her body. The knowledge that she wanted me, just for me, as much as I wanted her was like nothing else I'd ever felt.
Finally, finally, when there was nothing left but us, I couldn't help but stare. She was…everything. Everything I could even hope for or imagine. She was…
Her cheeks and chest bloomed with color adding to the glow that was surrounding us. Instinct, need, want, desire took over and ran my hands over her softness, down to her breasts and puckering nipples, swirling my fingers around their darkened peaks, sending a shudder through her body and the bond, which in turn sent waves of electric currents through my body. The emotion communication was almost too much.
Did she really feel this much from my touch?
"God, I can feel you," I told her, looking into her dark eyes reflected all of her emotions.
She moved towards me and responded with her hands, instead of words. My body was alive to everything she was doing to me. My cock was at attention, ready for her almost painfully. I pulled her to me, caressing her body in all the places I could reach, wanting to ready her, but worship her at the same time.
When it became too much for us both, and I heard her moaning demands for more, I stepped away to move her towards the bed. I had no intention of making this something uncomfortable by taking her on the floor. As much as I needed to be inside her, I needed this second chance to be something memorable and special.
Her eyes flew open, questioning mine.
No, beautiful Bella, we're not done yet.
I led her to the bed, positioning her across it, laying her body out for me. She didn't hesitate a second as she lifted her arms above her head, hiding nothing; open to my gaze, trustingly open to everything that I was and am.
As painful as it was physically becoming, I had to stop and look at her. This was beyond any fantasy or any inkling of a secret desire I ever had for a woman.
A wave of need came from her as her arms reached for me. I gladly sank onto her slighter frame, loving the feel of her special warmth she offered me, positioning myself between her legs. The urge to thrust into her was taking over the moment I rested completely against her and had to fight it, reminding myself to ease Bella into it. I wouldn't be sloppy this time. She deserved the tenderness.
I turned my head and captured her lips with my own, wanting her to know without a doubt that this was more than something animalistic. This was me wanting her, all of her. I kept nothing from her with each touch, impressing on her with each stroke of my fingers and mouth that she meant everything to me.
Needing more, I lifted one of her legs to wrap around my waist, bringing my cock into contact with where it wanted to be most. I froze, holding her as still as possible as I held dearly onto that last thread of control before I gave in and rutted against her mindlessly like some stupid dog in heat.
"You can't…too close," I said between clinched teeth, losing it quickly.
Need inside, need inside, need inside.
"I want you in me," she whispered, moving her hands down my back to my ass to press me against her.
"Yes." Everything in me gave thanks to that request, as I moved my hand between us and pushed into her, feeling a mix of everything hit me at once from the bond nearly causing me to come inside her right then and there.
Shit, shit, shit, not yet! Want her to come, too…
"I'm not going to last," I stuttered, moving to rest on my elbows before giving away to the basic urge and move within her.
I tried to keep it slow, but she showed me with her own upward movements, caresses along my body, and the intense connection through the bond that she was as desperate as I was to know a release. I held her to me, increasing my speed, pushing us towards the end goal.
Then I was there, white light blocking vision and sound except for Bella, as I moved with the shot of adrenaline in the last moments and pushed into release.
The way down was just as satisfying, as I stayed within her, wanting in some way to prolong what we just had. The glow lingered around us, giving testament to the emotions we now gave freely.
"My beautiful, Bella…love you," I spoke next to her ear, reveling in the fact that I could say it without having to second guess how it would be taken by Bella.
"I love you, too," she responded, then kissed my shoulder, sending a quiet shiver through me but not from touch alone.
She loved me…Bella, my mate, my wife, loved me.
I rolled off her, knowing that we were close to falling into sleep. She cuddled against me, laying her head on my chest. I pulled her in for a hug and a kiss on the top of her head, loving the rightness of all of this.
As I drifted, letting myself truly rest after all that we had been through, knowing that there was going to be a tomorrow, I felt Bella's emotions peak and recede, then peak again. I knew that she must be thinking something important.
Wanting nothing but to put her still active mind at rest, I asked "What are you thinking about?"
"You," was all she said, but the feeling of unconditional love broke against me like a tidal wave.
Again, thank you for letting me entertain you. I am beyond words in my gratitude to you!