I love my Vi! Needless to say, I had the most hardcore withdrawals from Viola Cornuta and all my DW gals for FIVE long days. Ta, Vi. You get my rocks off, I can't even really express how you bring perfection to my paltry words, and of course for the Anais Nin quote.

Disclaimer: MINE! And yours? Shall we call it ours and be good? Twilight, etc., belongs to SM. There, I said it.

~~Here's what happened: I was up late, listening to a song (All Saints, Surrender). I'd missed writing my oneshots for the Twi 25 Challenge so ran with this. I'm sending it out to everyone of y'all who gave such beautiful, heart-felt Christmas wishes to me and each other while I was away~~


Surrender

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
Anais Nin~

Him.

There.

Sharp.

Clean.

Tangy like the round Clementines I'd find in the foot of my stocking.

Charcoal and black as the cold lumps laid on top.

For I was a bad girl.

~~ll~~

Meaty.

Sustenance.

I was no little girl.

Sugar plums and faeries?

Not for me.

A limp festive wish was squandered under my breath, Christmas morn. Mourning.

There was nothing beneath the fresh cut, Douglas Fir tree I wanted.

Charlie passed me presents wrapped in leavings of newspaper. His bows created from red ripped-off ribbon from the Diner's takeout boxes.

Renee trilled and waltzed, an elf with no footing in this world.

Jacob and Billy were little more than totems to my past.

The tree inscribed with my twenty years; portraits, paintings, Shrinky Dinks – ha! I knew enough about those from Mike Newton! One look at his bared eye-of-newt thrusting back up into his crotch was enough to make me understand he was nothing but a boy. Looked like a fucking woodchuck…I'd told him 'no' as gently as possible. I had no wish to break his heart, but neither did I want Mike-fucking-Newton to be the man to break me in.

Giving my reticent thanks, glassing over others' gratitude, tugging Jake's girly locks and pressing a kiss to Charlie's cheek, hugging Renee, my obligations were met.

Rummaging through the hall closet, I found my skates. Pulling on legwarmers and fingerless black gloves, I snapped my down vest over my chest.

Forks sucked. Drab, discolored, bleached, bleak. I wished for the dangerous pandemonium of Edward's and my love.

The loss of his love had killed me.

From a shroud of bereavement, wearing a wimple of novice strength like a mark over my head, I'd risen like Lazarus from comatose caterwauling that had gone on for more months than I wanted to count.

This year I felt different.

I was waiting to be unwrapped.

The woman I was meant to be lingered inside, floating to the edges of my full body, tickling at my personality, wanting to shed the cotton cocoon whose cynical shell sheltered me from further pain. Secreting a transformation I felt.

It'd take a monsoon of monstrous emotion to rip away this carapace. To lay bare the person I might yet become instead of the seventeen-year-old girl whose heart had been shattered like bone china so fine it was transparent.

A touch, a pristine, clear, early summer daybreak to unfold my new wings from dewy webbing, to melt off the terrible frostbite of my soul. To give me yearning, need that could be soothed. Like a Luna Moth…to mate once, to die, knowing once again enormous love.

Anything close to what Edward and I'd had would rebirth me and, ultimately, be the end of me.

I didn't think any such thing would happen in Forks.

Perhaps nowhere. Never again.

My soft underbelly had become more and more unguarded as the winter months drifted over us, pillowing my sea-change in snow, frost, icicles fourteen inches long hanging from the eaves in melting plip plop plip daggers. All one had to do was poke me with an icy stalactite in just the right place to puncture me. Then what would be found? The same fucking futile pain that had washed over me like coldest December sleet?

Or was an unsullied layer beneath?

The death of our love was altering me.

Mikey met me with a Styrofoam cup of hot chocolate at the frozen pond, fashioned by the elders' shovels moving snow banks from the clouded slate surface.

A marshmallow melted inside the pebbly cup.

It reminded of the touch of his paltry cock and soft skin…Mike's body somewhat pathetic.

Fishing shacks sat over augured holes, and I knew the Quileutes pow-wowed inside those tight sauna-like sweat lodges, pulling up wide mouth bass, tanking back Ranier, toking spliffs.

The treaty meant nothing anymore.

He was gone.

I laced my ice skates and tested the blades against my thumb and forefinger until I drew blood.

Christly Christmas carols saturated their cloying noise to my mind.

I hated this shit.

Sitting on the bench, bracing my blades to glossy denuded gray surface, I blew across my cocoa and heard a rustling in the cedar cloisters behind me, tousling the twinkly lights chained around them.

Fuck you.

He was inside me, unsettling me. For two years I'd excised his presence from my thoughts, his strokes, hands, fingers, mouth from my membranes. This year, this time of year, this November and December, Edward's specter had returned to taunt me. Making me hot all the goddamn time! Every morning, noon, midday and night, I blanketed myself against withdrawal from his manly scent; the fresh cut lawn, the musk of animal, the ruby wine of his lips. As if he'd up and left two days ago, not three years and two goddamn agonizing months!

All of him haunted me.

When I let myself think of him.

I lifted my hand and gave the ghost behind me the 'V'. For good measure, I stood precisely, turned, and raised my middle finger.

Fuck. You.

He'd left.

Vespers to the wind.

Taking the love he'd promised.

Stealing away not only his gloriousness, the one fucking thing that had ripped the heart out of me, but also his family.

My family.

Now I had Charlie. Renee. Jacob. Mike. And my men, who needed me more than I wanted them.

Was this really what Edward wished for me?

I'd been a virgin aching for him alone.

I gave myself away instead. Physicalilty, fucking, grounded me. I wasn't a slut, I certainly had my standards, but neither was I holding out for that empirical first time. Vigilantly, I avoided the Tylers, the Jacobs, the Mikes. The stagnant ponds of the local high schools were most definitely off-limits.

Nonetheless I was a fatal blossom.

Nightshade.

Mistletoe.

No longer the unfurling lily whose pistil shook to a specific stamen.

I wanted.

So I had.

I didn't fool myself into thinking any of the men were replacements for Edward, I didn't have a Freudian father complex, I wasn't looking for Daddy, I wasn't seeking anything other than pure bodily pleasure. Love, fuck that. I'd had it. Emotional entanglement? Well, I wasn't certain when I'd be ready for that shit either.

Sometimes, I just wanted to fuck.

I almost always wanted to bite and spit and punch and kick!

Undeniably, when I bothered to look closely enough, I couldn't imagine giving my heart to anyone but him. And I just couldn't think about that.

I was becoming somebody else. I didn't look up my roster of rutting men, I stopped hooking up. This autumn-turned-winter was doing something to me.

Was this it?

Was this my life?

I lit a smoke and ignored the glare of family man Jenks with his duckling brood, Sue Clearwater's disapproving glance. Please. 'S'okay to toke up in the name of the wolfpack, but not for l'il old left-by-the-wayside Bella?

Dragging deeply, I swallowed the pleasant burn of nicotine and my lungs losing elasticity. Banner'd taught me well.

Through my nose, I blew a stream, straight at corpulent Mrs. Cope. She'd always hankered after Edward.

As if.

Making spirals and circles, I punctuated the air with my Marlboros, looped my scarf back around my throat and neck, rubbed my ears, and checked behind me one more time.

No one was here.

~~ll~~

Turning about the rink, I laughed at the little kids with the double-bladed skates, their knocking knees and slip-sliding.

"Miss Bella! Miss Bella!" Young William Cheney toddled over to me. I pocketed my gloves because I needed to feel the plump hills of his childish hands. Holding out my fingers, I brought his tickly woolen mittens into my palms, gliding backwards as I towed him slowly with me in ever widening spirals. A two-year-old rough and tumble boy, his willful personality reminded me of Jasper, his amusing antics made memories of Emmett flock over me, his shock of carroty hair and the deep brown eyes startled with flecks of gold caused my heart to keen for the human boy Edward had been. In life, with his mother and father…perhaps he'd skated with them on Lake Michigan.

How could I blame him, still?

Another layer of my cosseting casing shredded to the gray surface as William's tiny, mighty hand tightened and curled in excitement inside mine.

Mirth was so embroiled in gravity all this time.

It must have felt the same for Edward one million times over.

A desire to simply love crippled by near ninety years feeling an emotionally impoverished creature torn from his parents, tossed to infinity.

I knew right fucking now, why he'd left. Even as William trilled and tittered in his preschooler's voice, a lisp of life that had so grated my nerves for two years now filling me with some odd, weird hope, dime-sized tears clouded my vision. Love colliding with self-preservation and a cherished one's protection. From himself, because he'd always tried to underline the enormous, overpowering pull of my blood to his tongue and teeth and poison, a lunatic call, an addictive thrall, I'd just been too fucking naïve and willing to believe in the impossible, the fairytales, the classic romances wherein stories told of love conquering all!

Round wet salt talked down my cheeks and sat like ruminations and reparations in the corners of my mouth.

Edward had lost his life and his mortal family in one night.

Edward had awoken as another being after three goddamn days of wracking anguish! Edward had subsumed the villain inside him, replaced human flow with animal, like a person sucking O2 from a tank instead of clean air exhaled from the trees. Edward had walked for decades, alone, while his family grew, two-by-two, inhabiting the Cullen ark.

Edward had felt repletion, battling beastly wishes, with me.

Edward had kissed me, the first woman in all his life.

He'd held me, tenderly. Touched me as forcibly as he could.

Edward had given up his soul…so he could meet me eighty-seven later.

Edward had loved me so fucking much he'd left!

Cracking his own heart, denying any human comfort, foregoing possession, forsaking the one time, the one most vital emotion superseding all his other inclinations. To keep. Me. Safe.

A harrowing open hole, my mouth worked and gasped, and my throat swallowed ancient ache and tears. Unleashing William, I watched him flounder to the banister where he was caught in the welcoming embrace of Angela and Ben.

In the middle of the pond, I stood with my arms out from my sides, my feet firmly planted apart, my mind elsewhere, my insides bleeding.

He'd loved me too much to stay.

Edward had honored me so very much, he'd ingested his own guilt instead of my blood, staked his own heart instead of taking up any more residence in mine, gone off to some fucking god forsaken no man's land to allow me…life.

When my sight cleared, glacial rivers of dried weeping sleeping over my face, I was punched in the gut.

I questioned my sanity.

It wasn't the first time.

From behind the bench I'd sat upon fuming, noxious and angry, Edward shouldered apart the trees with his spacious torso. His hair picked up firelight, in direct contrast to the foliage behind him, lifting and whipping spiritedly in the chill wind racing down from the north.

Against the amber of his timeless eyes, I thought I saw glimmers of jade, damp and mossy dark. Almost wet. And he fucking pierced me straight through!

My figure skates sliced into ice as I braced myself.

My body trembled like the last leaf to fall from a maple.

Silence was all I heard.

I steadied myself, pulled my gloves out and rained them with the tears still leaking from eyes, rubbing out an hallucination that couldn't be real.

If he was here, no fucking way was I going to faint!

Steeled, stiff with irritation, I put my feet in motion and honed my blades on crusty ice as I made my way to where he stood.

This man who believed himself a beast. This boy who'd broken my heart. This vampire who'd turned my world from what was real and banal to insanely, complicatedly surreal.

Even I heard my heart choralling like a fucking tympani. Pushing off a fresh heave of snow from the railing, I curled my fingers around it and glared not at my Edward, but a novel Edward, lounging just beyond. Thudding with another pulse of emotion, my heart rattled my ribcage, trying to cavort through skin and bones to find the clutch of his hands.

He heard it too for he smiled in a new fashion, with his lips open, the sculpted red so hot-cold, lush and curvy. No more half-smile.

Narrowing my eyes, I questioned him mutely with a twitch of an eyebrow…one of the many tricks I'd learned from him. Just because I suddenly, intimately and hurtfully understood his intentions, three long fucking years ago, didn't mean I'd forgive him with just one insouciant lip lift!

He was so ripe. Even dead for a century, nearly, Edward was more alive than me at this moment.

His cheeks were ruddy, his lips like Macintosh's, his eyes apples dipped in caramel. Feeling heightened his usually alabaster unscathed complexion.

As I observed, I shifted back, back, back. Away from him, the feeling he detonated inside me, the finger of dawn I'd been waiting for.

The crescent moon spun white gold across skeletal clouds and midnight sky. Its light precipitated shafts that made landfall between us like stepping stones.

He didn't walk.

Neither did he skate.

He glided gracefully while I shook and rooted like an igloo, my feet blocks of ice.

Was he real?

Had he ever been real?

His frigid fingers were a mockery of weather, because he bore hoarfrost in his veins. His heart was a lockbox filled with sheared snow.

I felt so jaded, stripped, desperate.

I opened up as parasitic ivory-yellow mistletoe. Every single hurt sank inside my belly again.

I'd hardened into a landlocked burned arbor.

Opening. Closing. Yes, and no.

One look, one stroking finger imploded inside my gut, ejaculated out my mouth, I burnt my lips against my hot chocolate, the gooey marshmallow soldered to my tongue! My hands gripped air, not daring to reach.

Edward! Was he here?

Three years and too many months had passed while I'd lamented him.

Why? Why now?

I was almost fucking over him.

I was beginning to feel something fresh!

I was starting to heal.

Mittens, down coats, snowbanks, snow angels…he was at one…he looked at peace for the first time.

I was a yearling. Young and fresh and innocent and untarnished again.

He took my fag from my fingers, snuffed the smoldering butt, tossed it to the glassy pond with a sizzle.

My hands shook as I lifted another from my pocket.

This was the climatic change that had been weathering about me. My remains understood what I could never foresee. Edward had been coming for me.

Glaring at him, challenging him, guarding myself beneath a habit I'd taken up to loosen my thoughts, let go him when he'd foregone me.

I fucking dare you, Edward.

This was one time I wished he could read my mind.

Inside the expensive depths of his coat, he pulled out a lighter. Tugging the fibrous tip from my lips, he snugged it to his own mouth. He cupped his hand round the flame and lit the paper as a candle wick.

He took in a pull of tobacco first before placing the filter between my lips. Tobacco and Edward was a heady combination.

The taste of his tongue still hooked to the cigarette. I lolled his essence against my taste buds.

There'd always been safety in Edward, so I'd thought.

Now there was an air of rebelliousness. A look of danger. A crook of confidence having more to do with self-awareness than being the top of the food chain.

A man in his own right.

He watched me smoke as if it were foreplay, and still not one fucking word was spoken between us.

Where was the concern for my frail well-being?

Where was his fetish to be in control?

The man I'd known hadn't allowed himself this splendid sensual edge; he'd contained his sexuality like it was the dirtiest secret known to man! As if the abundant hormonal tendencies of a seventeen-year-old boy were nearly as condemnable as being a vampire bred of cold catacombs and fed on life's essence alone.

Edward looked more relaxed. Impossibly, he appeared taller. Older and more youthful. More powerful in body and mind. His lips curled up with my scrutiny in eroticism instead of defeat, cynicism, sardony. His chest seemed broader, his thighs mightier, his hair completely undomesticated, his eyes a darker bullion in the bonfire's glow.

Surely he was a figment; too little sleep, too much laced eggnog.

Skating away, I stopped, center ring.

I'd been fleeced.

Asshole!

Man I'd loved!

Vampire I'd wanted to mate, how could he be here?

I watched with sickening fascination as he took to the pond. Accosted by Jessica even now, he was suave. Ever the gentleman, he spun her about like Dean to her less than sylphlike Torville.

He bowed and released her.

He started coming for me.

Pain and panic crashed, and I knew it was really him, "FUCK!"

He stopped short.

He seemed to want to touch but certainly wouldn't. Not with his manners and my attitude.

He wasn't quite waylaid though.

"You look older," stated simply in his deeply downy voice that always had – and always would – created a fluttery warbling in my belly and up through my chest. I fought for breath, and my face pinkened with more than blustery cold, I wasn't sure this was a compliment. Old Bella would have bristled to be reminded of the passage of years while he remained circumvented by Father Time, a stony statue encased in a glass coffin while civilization went on its brutal way. I wasn't sure if his regard was favorable until I caught the rapier of his gold-ore eyes moving over my figure, appreciating the new roundness to my breasts and hips, accentuating the smallest fine lines stitching creases in the corners of my eyes, intonations of my body speaking of the hourglass' ceaseless passage.

Proudly, standing taller, shaking my hair back over my shoulders, without timidity I spoke, "I am. Older."

Edward's lips pursed against a smile. A dimple prodded his carved cheek. The sexy goddamn divot in his chin prodded up. With a tug of his teeth to his lush bottom lip, he looked me over again, the slightest hint of admiration teasing every plane of his face.

Ah, Edward's satisfied of this change in me. But did I need his esteem? Did I want it, crave it…would I cry myself to sleep over it? Not this time.

As if he could see the tumble of tumultuous thought in my head, he nodded in accord as if to say, "Good."

He'd only touched my cheek with one finger. Now his hands lingered down to his hips and I watched those digits slide into the waistband of his jeans, wondering at the skin inside, the secret tissue he was touching that I'd never had the privilege to look at, let alone caress. He fidgeted once, levering his weight from one foot to the other, running his thumbs under belt loops, thumbs I wanted splaying me open and sinking inside my hot slick flesh. I wondered if he was attempting to put me at ease with his mundane actions or if he really was…nervous?

"You look younger," I pronounced, and I boldly grabbed his wrist, massaging my thumb around his. "Well, I suppose you are my elder now," he winked, and his laugh was true, full, from inside! To hear such an exclamation made me chuckle too. I'd stepped closer. My cheek rubbed into his chest, scratching my smile into the wool of his pea coat. His hands freed from fiddling, I could have sworn they felt warm from their residence against his chrysalis muscles. If only. If only Edward were human, like me. Effortlessly, homing in, our hands clasped, fingers linked, a quavering breath tossed under the current of sudden belonging right fucking here, "Oh God."

His eyes closed, there was nothing frightening about Edward, not in this instant, not to me. There never fucking was…not to me. How, HOW could he have thought himself undeserving of me, of love, of a soul, of a complete life, of a human death?

Why shouldn't he live forever?

A moan mumbled through his tightly closed lips. His own breathing was severe and ragged. Raising his eyelids, his struggle subsided, leaving clarity and carnality and just the same damn thing I felt. This was home.

Too much.

I wanted to go back to Zombie Bella. I wanted not to feel this! He'd promised I'd never see him again!

I was almost over him.

Fool. Foolish. I might have moved on, but, Jesus Christ, there'd always have been Edward, my twisted fairytale.

The extreme voltage running between us, a familiarly exciting current, burst the anxious levity.

Tugging away, tucking my hand in my pocket, grappling with my hot chocolate, I turned half away.

I blinked back radiating tears, but they came anyway, meeting vaporous cold and turning to frozen icy drops splattering humiliatingly down my face, "You know how much I loved you." It wasn't a question. It was a declaration.

Taking my elbow but not daring to turn me towards him, Edward asked grievously, "Loved?"

I bolted away again, because I couldn't do this with him touching me. Loved. Love. Left. Lost.

Found.

The crisp cold bloom on his cheeks turned ashen, foliage decaying to ground. Shaken and filled with onus, he was guilty. He was fallible. Edward was faulty. I laughed a little broken thing because, for all the time I'd thought him perfect, immaculate, unbreakable, I'd always known he was just as human as me. I just never realized until he deserted me he was capable of wounding me.

It may not have been my blood he stole as he wanted to so many times -- a lethal terrifying yearning to feast from my arteries, a grotesque and morbid yen for my circulating liquid above all others -- but it was my heart. That organ that made my blood pump through fat plump veins.

Cocky and smirky and crooked smile took a backseat to years of desperation laden with hunt and want and malignance and desolation. Three years of the same fucking things I'd experienced until I was raw, bitten, bitter.

But he hadn't destroyed me. I was stronger, braver, more true to myself. Older, wiser, a little less gullible. A woman. One who'd loved and lost. One who'd gotten through it…just. I hadn't waited, I wasn't lost at sea…I was on the precipice of my life!

Fate was either bent and cruel, or benign and beautiful to deliver Edward to me at this precise moment.

Was he the morning's sunrise to melt away my sarcophagus? Or was this the most final goodbye?

Clearly wondering the same thing, Edward stood woodenly before me. Shoving my hands through the lengths of my hair, I coiled it over my shoulder. He watched each motion, his nostrils flaring, his eyes narrowing. I gulped down the last of my congealed cocoa, crushed the Styrofoam in my fist, skated off to throw it in the bin, came back.

I want to touch him so much.

I couldn't.

"I don't regret it," I stated. Comprehension staggered both of us. I'd been so naïve, juvenile, and irresponsible. A follower, a sheep, not the lamb we'd thought I was.

Our sad somber smiles echoed each other.

"I've missed watching you grow, Bella," Edward was rasping each word as if to utter them grated his missile resistant skin. Torture evident in each syllable.

I surrendered my shellac shell. I let loose my fortress cemented with acrimony and bile. "I wouldn't have changed if you'd been here. Perhaps you were right to leave.

"I'm not sure I forgive you though," I followed up.

Bowing his head, Edward lifted his arm up to clasp his neck. The rings of skin where his fingertips clenched turned to white full moons.

My man. He's so beautiful.

Weighty with anger at himself, Edward's eyes blacked out dense as gothic nightmares, "That makes two of us."

Ease him. How can you hurt him so? How can you let him censure himself again?

My soul pined to comfort him!

Approaching him, cutting my blades straight into the ice, I pushed up his shoulders, raised his chin, rubbed his jaw, placed my other hand against his neck, feeling the muscles tighten. Oh, to touch Edward!

The smile bursting upwards on my lips was uncontainable. "To touch you!"

"I've missed you, Edward." I had.

Overwhelming the suffering of abandonment was the sorrow of absence.

We had no fucking clue what we were doing. Not then, not now.

I guess I'd always thought Edward had a plan. A fail-safe. A way to make us work. I'd placed myself in his hands, at his disposal, thinking he would always fucking know what to do!

Jesus, I'd been so blind!

He turned into my palm and kissed me. The gentleness of it was a seamless sham to all the conquering emotions and desires battling between us.

"You've become a woman," tenderly, haltingly lest I pull away, he cupped my side and stroked up and down, his fingers to my back, his palm on my ribs, his thumb flickering to the underside of my breast and down to my hipbone. "Elegant…regal…real," each word punctuated by a sweet kiss to my forehead and both cheeks.

Unable to withhold himself another second, he framed my face suddenly and looked ardentlyto my eyes, darting his own down to my mouth, "You are real." Instead of kissing me, he pressed our brows together and whispered, "All the time, all that time, I was…how do you say it? Flying by the seat of my pants, Bella," he snickered, and I pressed my lips up to his to feel his next hush, "All I knew was that I loved you."

I pulled back with a quirked eyebrow, "Loved?"

Sheepishly, he grinned, a bit, "Love.

"Love, I had no idea how to be with you, keep you safe," with each phrase his body moved closer again until he was fully against me, "Not kill you with my thirst and lust," he pushed his hips into mine, and I felt a rigid bulge throbbing against my belly. Lips close to my ear, fingers trawling me up over his erection, "I could never have made love to you, Bella."

Nobly, Edward made not another move but to make it understood, "We'll do this however you want, Bella."

His confessions were both weighty and wanton. I undulated into his cock just for the pleasurable feel of something he'd never shown me before. I kissed his mouth closely, ran my tongue over the seam of his, pulled at his ears and tickled his sideburns.

Then I pushed him away.

Was that it? My final kiss? This, our last goodbye?

I shook my head and glared at him. Then let it all go, "I've been with men, Edward."

He scrunched his eyes tight closed. I felt rather than heard the feral rumble rutting in his chest. Every sinew clenched, before, one-by-one, he forcibly relaxed. Lastly he opened his eyes, hues of black-coal-dust, and I met his look and his stance because I wasn't going to apologize.

Dim shadows chased his tone, "I've never looked at another woman."

Momentarily, I curled over onto myself. I wanted to puke. Oh god! I was gutted by what I'd done. I was fucking pleased he'd remained chaste and true. Sucking arctic air down in great gulps, I stood up and owned my carnal trysts.

I felt like I was challenging him again.

Through barred teeth that could slice and dice any of the guys I'd fucked, with his face a handsome humanistic visage even fueled with the vitriolic jealousy he was trying to contain, Edward intoned, "I never imagined you'd wait for me."

Really?

He stooped over me, and I saw a glimpse of the nightmare creature sharing his spirit, "But I don't ever want to hear about it, Bella."

I was shaking. Was I enraged? Grateful? Pissed off? Blameworthy? Flattered?

All of the above.

He'd released me, and bound me to him.

This fucking dance was almost beyond my abilities.

But if he was here, for me, once more, I'd meet him at every step.

Bitchily, I incised, "I don't need your absolution, you know."

The anger was gone. Not buried, but contained. The poison I'd seen gathering over his teeth and plucking up the capillaries in his gorgeous neck, shafting through his eyes, dissipated.

"You never did," he looked down and back at me, his lashes swags of obsidian velvet curtains opening just enough to highlight a twinkling midnight sky.

Now I needed to solace him.

"They never fucking touched me the way you do…the way you did. And I refuse to feel guilty for it." A torrent of acknowledgement wanted out as if I were seated in a dark wood closet, a grated screen between us, a dogcollar binding his muscular neck.

Fingering his collar, as if reading my mind, Edward took a step back to me, his hands open, surrendering, "I need yours. I need your remission of my sins."

I ached for him, for myself, for the love we hadn't fought hard enough to keep!

"You always had it, my love," I pushed my arm around his lithe hips, the landscape my hands had itched to wander over for so goddamn long.

Clutching my face, looking at me pridefully, he asked disbelievingly, "Always?" His brow furrowed, his lips curled in distaste with himself.

"Let your demons go, Edward. Yes, always," I rubbed my thumb over the cherry brightness of his lower lip.

"And now?"

Why hold onto this hateful thing, this breeding anger, this stewing grottiness?

Untamed animals, my hands ran through his hair, that copper tarnished autumnal haze of mixed craziness. I mired myself to his form and kissed every inch I could find because not do so would just fucking kill me again, "Yes, god yes, Edward! I forgive you!"

His eyes widened and his breath thunked and his mouth turned away from mine, "You still sing to me."

To me.

Not for me.

The difference was startling. We wouldn't own each other.

We would possess each other willingly, this time.

Equally. Should it be so.

With my face so sweetly enclosed in his grasp, Edward kissed me, finally. Here. Where I'd known he'd be. Deeply, passionately, so we both moaned loudly enough Jenks herded his brood, skates and all, to his giant gas-guzzling SUV.

Seating my ass in his hands for the very first time, Edward grumbled and fondled and fingered up to my lower back, looking for entrance to the rounds of flesh goading him on.

Conceding his control, guided by our instincts, Edward shed his maintained aloofness and let me feel his body; his proud cock nestling right against my inner thigh as he dipped his knees and touched my breasts with his lean fingers almost eating through cloth to get to my bare skin.

I whimpered and clutched, dug in and doggedly kissed his pretty manly mouth until he pressed his tongue to mine and twirled that luscious muscle, wet and slick, around mine.

The tips of our tongues, the corners of our mouths, parted slowly. I sucked in the bow of his until he groaned and trod my hips further against him.

Dirty and desperate, I needed to know straight out, "You said you could never make love to me. What of now?"

"Christ, Bella! Can you feel me?" He shifted his penis so it sat right and true and strong between us. "You think I can stop this now?" He nibbled my earlobe and the depth of his melodious voice racked shockwaves through me, "I may never stop once we start."

"Mmm, Jesus, yes." I made love to his lips with my tongue, thrusting in and out of his mouth while he drove his pelvis to mine. I arched my back and was close to begging him to fuck me right there in the middle of the Brown Creek Pond.

I grabbed Edward's ass and the feel of his buttocks straining to my hands was enough to make me break our kiss and laugh upright to the diamond bright, cloud-skittered sky!

I yanked his hair, because I didn't know how to handle him anymore, and I was beyond caring any trespassing of his rigidly preserved misguided restrictions. "You're so beautiful."

He sighed with his breath pelting harshly.

"I missed you."

His face pounded the dip of my shoulder.

"You're a mystery."

Edward groaned and sank his hands into me, more firmly, less in control. Frantic want growled between us, melting ice, scaring off families and late-night anglers.

"You. Left."

He nodded against me and started to turn his face away from its warm cradle of my flesh. Ownership of one more claim to blame was his.

But did I really want that? How much culpability could one man take? Had he not injured himself enough?

I was crumbling like a Christmas sugar cookie. My righteous anger tumbling down like a gingerbread house being devoured by young kids on Noel's Eve.

I wouldn't let him leave the nook of my neck. I held him hard by the back of his head, spilling his sundry locks between my fingers, searching for a reason not to love him as I always had, always would.

I found none.

"I'm dying to be with you."

"Just tell me how you want it."

"The way I always did, Edward. All of you, or nothing."

"You can have me how ever you want me, Bella."

"Or not at all?" One last argument reared its ugly head. I just needed him to fight for me as I'd fought down every tendency toward him, through autumn, winter, spring, and summer, thrice-fold.

Full-blown rays of greenstone buttressed the battlement of his eyes, phosphorescent, blistering, lit with a wanton intensity turning gold to emeralds, "You want me to leave? Now you've seen me, Bella, you think I'll just walk away? I'm staying until you believe me, or until you tell me to go."

Sexy. Stern. This Edward wasn't going to roll over and play dead.

I tore off my skates, holding to his forearm for balance.

Otherwise, he didn't aid me.

The silver knives clattered to ice, the white leather camouflaged by snow. Ice chips settled. Laces dangled and danced and limped to the pond's surface.

The bright crimson satin inside my figure skates looked like the wet cavern of a mouth seeking another.

Ripe with desire, full and juicy of color.

Our new boundaries were being set.

I was able.

I stood.

Edward enclosed me in a rugged hug, grasping my bottom, molding to my waist. Thrusting me back one pace at a time; I couldn't see where we were going or what obstacles lay behind my feet, but I trusted him to watch out for me...again.

Competent, on my own. Trusting of his security. Standing on my own two feet yet allowing him to steer me, everything seesawed until we came to a balanced fulcrum.

This would just have to work.

Icy flakes sucked at the knee socks Renee had made for me in one of her fits of 'homemaking'. The soles of my feet ticked with snow sucking into thistle colored cotton-wool.

I shivered.

He lifted me.

His power met mine. I suckled his neck, lips tongue mouth wet heat to chilled honey.

I'd been too young! Now I knew my foibles, I was older. On my way to becoming wiser.

This was the touch I'd felt on the horizon.

Saying goodbye to my anger, my venom-filled nasty wish to kick Edward in the nuts, but only if I could cause more damage to his balls than my own body in such an assault.

Beneath the poignant haunting, the recurring sadness, I was a new person. A woman more gifted with the fortitude to love completely, maturely.

We were each, finally, deserving of this unearthly intangible celestial love.

I held Edward tighter.

How could I blame him, still?

I couldn't.

The poison, hate, blame, need for shelterand inability to act on my own;his wanting to safeguard in chivalrous intent, with his mores and gallantness, his idea he could save me from himself and others like him by absconding…all of that stupidity flooded away from both of us. Corroded, turned to stars burning out.

Diamonds, compacting. Forming.

This was the moment.

All that remained was love. And three years of tamped down flames ignited!

My voice that had known vice was as rusty, unused, and unlocked as the decomposed hasp of someone or other's fishing shackwe broke through, because, though I'd said it before, this time I knew what it meant! There was no 'What if' or 'Who will save me'. There wasn't an Edward God and a Bella Mortal. This time, there was simply us, and knowing we would stand together, shoulder-to-shoulder, hand-in-hand, meeting the unknown with determination.

Now I loved him on the same grounds he did me. And I believed our love was the same.

With my heart seated like a lumpy, ultimately deserving morsel in my throat, I pushed past the last vestige of fear to announce, to vow, "I love you, Edward. I love you now."

He juggled me against splintery wood, holding me up with one thigh so he could touch my face and feel the rush of my words, my avowal. His fingers soldiered across my mouth, and I smiled to say it again, liberated, "I love you now, Edward!"

Smoothing his thumb over my lips, he hushed me mutely so he could parlay, "Bella, Bella, I think I've loved you forever."

Closing my eyes, I knew the truth.

His delicious, devilish, kiss pressed so my head knocked to the wall with a thud.

"Fucking hell!" I exclaimed against his trickery mouth as boards were thrown off their nailed planks, becoming more warped with each twirl of his hedonistic tongue.

He'd never kissed me like this!

I felt freed!

Placing me sideways on the rough hewn bench, shoving aside tossed-off hats and ear muffs, little orange flags and ice traps, Edward kneeled on the ground.

"You swear a lot." This was the first time I'd seen his smile, the thing I'd felt against my collar bone.

"Yes."

"Hmmm," he hummed and began unclothing me. First my gloves, my vest he unsnapped so fucking slowly I started writhing, begging silently for more and more and more and faster. He unzipped my fleece and took my outerwear down my arms. Joining my hands at the wrist, above my head, Edward ran his hands first under my thermal shirt, testing, touching, teasing, watching with masted eyes the arch and dance of my breasts trying to make haste of his work.

Cold, durable, long. His fingers sent a thrum of longing straight from my pussy to my nipples and right back down my cleavage to my belly button.

Skimming the underside of my breasts, Edward sucked in a breath and bit his lips before he blew out a gusty breath, "No brassiere? Shit, Bella."

I laughed and raised my nipples up to his thumbs that were whispering air against me, "No bra, Edward. And when did you take up swearing?"

I swerved against his clutch and lathed his lips with the tip of my tongue so he could feel my heat and founder himself.

Coiling back, Edward joked, "We've both changed, love."

Opening my legs, I pressed as closely to his cock as I could, "Has this?"

"No, I just never let you see it."

I was shocked and turned on beyond fucking anything!

He took my silence to heart and continued his disrobement of me, finally pulling off my shirt. His hand was just under my ass, and he lifted me up to my knees on that damn raspy bench, bringing my bright camellia nipples, aroused to silky juts, to the level of his mouth.

Eyes wandering over my bared flesh, Edward heated me with the thick rolled erection in his jeans and the halogen flare of his meandering look.

Purchasing a pink niblet in his mouth, he licked with the full flat of his tongue. I came unglued! My hands still manacled, I beat them back to the timber, shaking the shack's surrounds, my body a bow. His mouth an arrow. His touch targeting my most sensitive points.

"FUCK!"

Quickly now, Edward pushed down my jeans, heavy socks, my panties, leaving me naked.

For the first time, I didn't want to cower.

He angled me lower, bearing up my back, reclining my head, making me a rainbow spilling all feelings turned to hues dappled by rain, raking me with his eyes and mouth and hands. Opening me, like clouds parting to azure skies.

The width of his palm spanned my tits, a pinkie and thumb to my nipples, rakishly pulling down, spreading an erogenous haze-filled heat from my curling toes, to my clenching-at-air fingertips, to my tautened tummy and my eager limbs. Every single bit of me took on the form of a sensual unleashed woman.

He twirled down through the fine curly ticking of my pubic hair, and looked for a complete minute. Just watching. Seeing. Memorizing. Whorls of padded fingertips parted my lips to find my clitoris. And when he touched it, softly, I came off the bench in a clutching rush of muscles beseeching like my breath, "Oh YES!"

His caresses were everything my body craved, because he'd always known me. Not coarse, though his voice rode like gravelly paths against my ear, "You like that?"

He didn't need to pinch or pull or tug. He pressed and timed and circled and licked; with that royal mouth that could devour, Edward strolled languidly. With fingers that could cleave a savage animal in two effortlessly, he prodded and rippled and lavished and brought me to climax with only one finger inside me, two listing up and down my nether lips, and his thumb flickering my clit.

I grabbed his forearms, his cheeks, bit his lips, tried to rip off his clothes, sank my hands to his hair and mine! Mindlessly beating my head back and forth, back and forth as he feathered in and out, in and out.

My juices ran out.

My body collapsed.

We colluded in the trespassed cabin.

Shaded by wood, and lit by dimly glowing kindling dying out.

Connubial.

Concubine.

Concupiscent.

"Jesus, love, you're resplendent when you cum. I wish I'd seen that before."

I rolled my cheek to his hand, kissed the hills of his palm.

Lackadaisical, I couldn't even speak.

But I wanted him naked, right fucking now.

I sat up, lazily. My legs splayed to either side of his thighs as he stood to his tall height. Making me dizzy with his handsomeness, his physique, his unbelievable beauty I now believed to be mine.

While I worried through the big bakelite buttons of his navy coat, Edward picked up my tits, weighing their heft, admiring the imperfect pear shape, running his fingers over the peach-colored skin, fretting my nipples…breaking my concentration until I shook his hands off, and he jokingly held them at his back.

Next, his top. Focusing, I quickly undid the prestids. My hands flat to the chest I'd never been permitted to touch, I brushed first one side and then the other apart and gorged myself, my sight and my touch, on his pectorals, his stomach, his ribs, his belly button, and that fucking almighty sexy pleasure trail leading to the promised land.

I smiled and licked the nappy hair.

Edward growled and lost another foothold on his straight-laced presence.

I put my index and middle digits exactly where his had been earlier, inside the waistband of his jeans. I felt what I'd imagined. The sinewy striations of muscles slicing gorges into his body. Leading, unerringly, in a point, right down to his shaft.

I could see the lovely thick shape of him jostling inside his pants.

Braiding a length of my tresses in his hand and around his powerful wrist, Edward locked us together.

He pushed on my shoulder, leant down to suckle at my mouth.

But I wanted to look.

I popped open each copper button, grazing his inner thighs until his knees trembled, and he bore himself up against the planked timber so as not to topple to the ground.

I had this power. Only me. Only him.

The inverted triangle of splayed fabric laid apart. Beneath, he was bare. Awed, I looked up and felt the deep cavernous brown of my gaze mesh with the strobing carnivorous spread of his own.

A half smile was born on his mouth, in encouragement and passion.

He wanted me to look further.

With two fingers, I pushed down the denim. My free hand reached inside, down to the juncture of jean and cock and balls. I sagged and fingered the most silken filled orbs of his sac. Bursting, like kumquats, I gently massaged those velvety globes until he groaned and tightened around my hair, toppled above me with his forearm propped against the wall, beating it, his biceps blanched with huge deep blue veins filled with toxin.

"More?" I asked, a coquette.

"Please," he answered, beholden.

Filtering my touch inside the placket, I pushed aside indigo and found the glowing cold steel rod of his cock. It sat, pulsing, sped over by juts of arteries, the largest running up the underside, from root to canopy. A giant dowel. At the top? A mushrooming head of fucking pure sexy. Turning bluish-purple, he was so hard. Cum and toxin pearled atop the slim bright tiny lips centering his head. Crepe de chine in flesh's hottest tones tipped up to the creamiest rim surrounding him.

In. My. Mouth.

I think he heard my thoughts then.

I felt my foreign flush fly up to my chest and lift my tits, litter my face with rosiness.

For a second, Edward forgot what I was doing, "You still blush."

I adjusted him out of his pants, panted two hot breaths round his dick and loved his quivering abdomen, "Only for you."

I slipped him inside, widening my mouth, lipping his lovely little hidden mouth and sweeping dollops of shivering cum into me.

He never said, 'You can't' or 'Please don't'.

Edward let me lick and love and lavish his cock, a long light-filled shaft, with lengthy laps and deep hard sucks. Until his entire body twitched, shoved, plastered with lust, and he pulled himself out, slowly so I could savor the sharp tang and sweet sexy scent of his stiff heathenish deliciousness on the way out my mouth. Holding close, he ran his erection from corner to corner of my lips, marking my pleasured smile with his cock.

Up and up and up, above me, Edward quavered in the ember's limpid red glow manifesting throughout this five-by-five cabin. The chinks in the planks let in shutters of heaven's spill.

My palm to the big bright head of his cock, I kept hold as he knelt. I shuddered.

Voice hungry and loving and clipped with wanting me now, "Cold, love?"

I sucked in a breath and saw Edward watching my breasts shudder, my nipples peak again, my hands digging up from his tum to his throat, "Fuck yes!"

He laughed.

It was so beautiful, that sound of angels among demons, a man inside the beast.

Hugging him so my breasts belted his chest, I missed this being, "You were always more playful than you gave yourself credit for."

Rotating from me, triggered by my thoughts, Edward stoked the fire. His back turned, he looked over his shoulder, "Only you, Bella. You made me young, mortal."

He twisted newspaper, made a new ziggurat of kindling, blew until a fresh flame took root.

Fire upon ice.

His ass claimed me. His back moved sinuously with each manly deviation from the monster. His thighs rippled with muscle and hair.

Edward was no longer a boy.

I sucked in a breath.

He heard me.

Pivoting on his heels, naked and with his thighs spread so I could clearly see the strong emblem of his dick a bastion beating against his navel, taut muscles everywhere hardening into rigidity, alluding to the fucking to come, Edward's voice spoke of sex, "How can I warm you, babe?"

I stood.

His teasing look dissolved.

He rose.

He knew.

His body might be frigid, but the feelings he engendered stoked a fucking full scorching screaming fire inside and over me!

I licked his lips, tucked my hands from his chest to his stomach whose muscles linked harder with each stroked, up to his armpits where I grazed over the susceptible concavity.

"Oh, you know, Edward."

From head to toe, less than a yard between us, bared for once and all, we watched and wondered and drank the vision before us.

How could a chin be pouty? Straight nose, the most sensual eyebrows, lips beautifully alizarin, handsomely full…his throat, the cord of muscle and tendon that moved beneath my tongue, his Adam's Apple that I nipped…his shoulders…his hands that knew so much of my history were beginning to search out my present, to cast our future…

Splendid and now! Barbaric and angelic, we crashed! We surrendered to each other.

Hush, plush, lust, now.

Potash, potage, potent.

He pushed me back, I moved forward.

We ended up on that slim creaking plinth. My back placketed in his arms. My head pounded. Edward sank in. There was no waiting, no teasing, no placating because we belonged to each other.

Slowly, filled. Feeling. Fully. Finally.

Fire.

Ice.

Melting.

Home.

He barely moved. His cold, my heat.

We didn't talk.

Unhurried.

His hardness stole away my breath. My soft hot wet clasp caused his cheeks to claw inside-out.

I bent back.

He folded forward.

His motion felt like seconds. It made us into a lifetime.

My hips didn't still.

My cunt sloughed him up and down.

In our time.

For the first time.

Ruddy, chapped, rouged, ruched, ready, reddened.

Wet, wicked, pink, pulsing.

Never did we change rhythm.

Because this was home.

Languorous filling, fantastic flying out. Tenderly in. Excruciatingly out!

Our mouths met, but we couldn't kiss beyond emotion.

The subtlest difference, my leg hiked just a bit higher and our bodies clapped.

Skin slapped.

We locked, legs, arms, hips, cock, lips, pussy, wet, cold, hot, slick, sweat, sex.

Air locked.

Time stopped.

Groping and holding and starving and staving and caving in and, "Oh my fucking GOD!"

Nothing fucking moved.

Not monsters, buried.

Not lovers, linked.

Not hearts, twinned.

Not mouths, breathing so fucking hard.

I scratched, coming down.

He bruised me, slightly, finding earth.

A burst of flame lifted a piece of pine and settled the pyre back down to ash.

Now we could kiss.

Now we embraced.

Now.

"I love you, now."

"I've loved you always."

"I did wait."

"I never strayed."

"I hoped."

"I hoped."

"What if I choose to remain mortal?"

"Then I'll love you so long as you live, till death do us part."

"And then?" I wrapped a navy blue fleecy blanket about us, found my nesting place against his chest, inside his shoulder, my legs pushing up his thighs, waiting for, wanting, more.

Always more.

"And then? I'll follow you, my love."


~Hi. That's me. The romantic with an edge. Tell me if I hit you hard and brought it all home ~

Shimmer Awards voting has started! I've got three or four bits up, so make haste. Link is on my profile.

Up next? The end of Looking Glass, more Dead Confederates, Carnal Knowledge 101, and Fairytale (this will be the Plea series from my Men of Twilight challenge) starting with a new chapter.

Xoxo

Rie~