Disclaimer: This is a work of fan-fiction based on Stephenie Meyers' Twilight Series. (No copyright infringement intended).

Bella certainly was in no condition to drive. Besides, I liked the control of being behind the wheel, even if it was behind the wheel of a vehicle slow enough to have come right out of a Flintstones cartoon. Compared to my Volvo her truck drove like someone attached a governor to it. If her father was as concerned about her propensity for trouble as I was, he probably did have a governor installed.

The slow drive home was worth it. When I was forced to drive at a reasonable speed with Bella I had time to enjoy observing her. I didn't really watch the road. My driving ability was beyond reproach. I had never had an accident and drove more by the feel of it rather than the sight of the road. I kept one hand on the wheel and held on to her hand with the other. I still wasn't ready for the day to end.

Driving the old truck made me nostalgic for some of my favorite music. I tuned the radio to a fifties station and began to sing along. I knew the word to every song. Music was a true passion of mine.

"You like fifties music?" Bella asked curiously. I thought I had already proven that I had diverse musical interests.

"Music in the fifties was good. Much better than the sixties, or the seventies, ugh!" I shuddered to even think about those two decades of horrid music. "The eighties were bearable."

"Are you ever going to tell me how old you are?" she asked pointedly.

The question didn't bother me. After today, there was not much she could say or do that would affect me negatively. I smiled and asked, "Does it matter much?"

She seemed frustrated by my avoidance of the question. "No, but I still wonder. There's nothing like an unsolved mystery to keep you up at night."

I looked out into the setting sun and thought about her request. "I wonder if it will upset you."

"Try me." She said.

I sighed and looked into her eyes. When I saw the interest and the love in her eyes I knew I had no option other than to answer her question.

"I was born in Chicago in 1901." I paused and glanced at Bella out of the corner of my eye. She seemed unfazed and was patiently waiting to hear the rest. I managed a slight smile, pleased that I could tell her my story. "Carlisle found me in a hospital in the summer of 1918. I was seventeen, and dying of the Spanish influenza."

I could hear Bella take in a deep breath and I looked into her eyes again. She still seemed comfortable, despite her physical response. Surely this was difficult for her to take in. I came from a different time, a time she almost certainly could not relate to in any way.

"I don't remember it well – it was a very long time ago, and human memories fade." I thought about that before continuing. I hope she understood the depth of those words. I hoped she would never want my life, to give up the memories of the mother and father she loved so dearly. "I do remember how it felt, when Carlisle saved me. It's not an easy thing, not something you could forget."

"Your parents?" she asked.

"They had already died from the disease," I explained. "I was alone. That is why he chose me. In all the chaos of the epidemic, no one would ever realize I was gone."

She pushed for more information. "How did he…save you?"

I paused again and carefully considered my words before continuing. I wanted her to understand that the process was not easy, hoping she would never want to go through that herself. I also did not want to frighten her so much that she would stay away from me. After today though, I was certain she was going nowhere.

"It was difficult. Not many of us have the restraint necessary to accomplish it. But Carlisle has always been the most humane, the most compassionate of us…I don't think you could find his equal throughout all of history." I paused again before I described how it was for me. "For me, it was merely very, very painful." That was all I would tell Bella. That was enough to satisfy her curiosity and keep her from asking for more details I was unwilling to divulge.

I could tell she was thinking about what I said and I was grateful for that. She should not be duped by Hollywood into believing all the stereotypes.

"He acted from loneliness," I explained. "That's usually the reason behind the choice." I then went on to tell her that I was the first member of Carlisle's family, soon followed by Esme. I told her Esme had fallen from a cliff and was brought straight to the morgue, though her heart was somehow still beating. It was not my place to tell the darkest details of any of our stories.

"So you must be dying, then, to become…" she hadn't said the word vampire and I could tell she was hesitant to speak it now.

I saved her from her verbal dilemma. "No, that's just Carlisle. He would never do that to someone who had another choice." I spoke in a low voice as I thought about the sacrifices Carlisle had made for so many people and for our family. He was the most admirable man I knew. "It is easier he says, though, if the blood is weak."

She prodded further. "And Emmett and Rosalie?"

I then explained to Bella how Carlisle brought Rosalie into our family next, in the 1930's – though I did not hint at her tragic story, the most tragic of any of ours. "I didn't know until much later that he was hoping that she would be to me what Esme was to him – he was careful with his thoughts around me." I rolled my eyes at the notion of that match. "But she was never more than a sister. It was only two years later that she found Emmett."

I told her how we were in Appalachia at that time and Rosalie had been out hunting when she came across Emmett, about to be finished off by a bear. I explained how Rosalie had carried Emmett over 100 miles to Carlisle because she feared she would not be able to change him herself. "I'm only beginning to guess how difficult that journey was for her." I looked directly at Bella when I said that, raising our joined hands up to brush her check gently.

Bella was touched by Emmett and Rosalie's story, even though Rosalie had been so cruel to her. "But she made it." She seemed encouraged by the face that, deep down, Rosalie actually did have compassion.

"Yes," I murmured. "She saw something in his face that made her strong enough. And they've been together ever since." I smiled and explained to her that sometimes they lived separate from us, as a married couple and other times, with us as siblings.

She then asked about Alice and Jasper. The progression was only natural.

"Alice and Jasper are two very rare creatures. They both developed a conscience, as we refer to it, with no outside guidance. Jasper belonged to another…family, a very different kind of family. He became depressed, and wandered on his own. Alice found him. Like me, she has certain gifts above and beyond the norm for our kind." I explained.

"Really?" she interrupted, excited at that information. "But you said you were the only one who could hear people's thoughts."

I clarified it further for her so she would not think I had tried to deceive her. "That's true. She knows other things. She sees things – things that might happen, things that are coming. But it's very subjective. The future isn't set in stone. Things change."

Bella wondered aloud what kind of things Alice saw and I told her how she saw Jasper before even he knew he was looking for her, then how she saw our family and came along with Jasper to find us. "She's most sensitive to non-humans. She always sees, for example, when another group of our kind is coming near. And any threat they may pose."

She was surprised. "Are there a lot…of your kind?"

I was sure she thought our family was anomalous and we were a rarity in our choice to be "vegetarians", but by no means were we the only vampires. I told her about Tonya's family in Denali and how we had all lived there together at one time, until we had to move away to keep the locals from questioning our situation. Then I went on to explain that most of our kind were Nomads, never settling in one place long enough to be detected.

"Most of us prefer the North," I said as I pulled the truck in front of her house and turned the engine off. Chief Swan was not home yet.

"Why is that?" she asked, as if the explanation was not obvious. The answer was obvious to me and I thought, after seeing me today, it would be obvious to her.

"Did you have your eyes open this afternoon?" I teased. "Do you think I could walk down the street in the sunlight without causing traffic accidents? There's a reason why we chose the Olympic Peninsula, one of the most sunless places in the world. It's nice to be able to go outside during the day. You wouldn't believe how tired you can get of nighttime in eighty-odd years."

Now she was starting to put the puzzle pieces together in her head. "So that's where the legends came from?"

"Probably," I replied.

She then asked if Alice came from another family, like Jasper. I explained that Alice had no memory of her human life. She had no idea who created her and had woken up alone. I told her that whoever had made her walked away, which was not commonplace. "If she hadn't had the other sense, if she hadn't seen Jasper and Carlisle and known that she would someday become one of us, she probably would have turned into a total savage."

Bella chuckled at the thought of sweet little Alice as a savage. Bella should not underestimate Alice either. No one should. She took care of herself and Jasper for some time and was quite capable of terrible destruction. That thought made me smile.

Suddenly I heard Bella's stomach rumble and remembered she hadn't eaten all day. I hadn't spent enough time around humans for extended periods of time. I easily forgot how frequently they needed to eat. "I'm sorry, I'm keeping you from dinner."

Bella responded quickly. "I'm fine, really. I want to stay with you."

"Can't I come in?" I asked.

She seemed surprised that I would ask. "Would you like to?"

"Yes, if it's all right," I said as I got out of the truck and moved around to open her door for her.

"Very human," she smiled at my act of chivalry.

"It's definitely resurfacing."

I walked with Bella up to the front door and quickly reached for the key the Swans kept hidden under the eave. My move was so quick, Bella didn't even notice. "The door was unlocked?" she asked, concerned that she had made a mistake.

"No, I used the key from under the eave." I revealed.

She stepped inside and flipped on the porch light for Charlie. I could still see by the expression on her face that she could not understand how I knew where the key was. I couldn't read her mind, but her expressions were becoming clearer for me to decipher.

"I was curious about you." I explained.

"You spied on me?" she asked.

She wasn't angry and I wasn't sorry. "What else is there to do at night?" I moved into the kitchen and sat down at the small table while she went about warming up left-over lasagna for dinner. I was already familiar with the house from my nightly reconnaissance missions.

"How often do you come here?" she finally asked still facing the counter, away from me.

"I come here almost every night." I was not keeping secrets from Bella any longer and I might as well fess up.

She spun around, confused. "Why?"

"You're interesting when you sleep," I explained. "You talk."

The pink flush immediately returned to her cheeks. She was embarrassed, mortified rather. "No!" She even had to grasp the kitchen countertop to keep from crumbling from the realization I had seen her at her most vulnerable.

I was concerned that I had upset her, without intending to. "Are you very angry with me?" I asked.

"That depends!" she exclaimed, breathing deeply.

"On?" I asked. I couldn't imagine why this would have made her angry.

"What you heard!" she wailed. Boy was she mad. I actually like seeing the fire I knew lived inside her, but didn't want it to be directed towards me. I moved to her side and took her hands in mine.

"Don't be upset!" I pleaded with her. I dropped my head down so my eyes would be at the same level with hers. She tried to look away but couldn't.

I tried to reassure her by revealing what I had heard. "You miss your mother," I whispered. "You worry about her. And when it rains, the sound makes you restless. You used to talk about home a lot but it is less often now. Once you said, 'It's too green.'" I chuckled.

"Anything else?" she demanded. I could tell she still didn't believe I had told her everything.

"You did say my name," I admitted.

"A lot?" she sighed. I could tell by her defeatist attitude that this was exactly what she had feared.

"How much do you mean by 'a lot' exactly?"

She hung her head in abject embarrassment. "Oh no!"

I pulled her against my chest, softly. I wanted to comfort her and reassure her that I thought that her nocturnal revelations were endearing.

I whispered in her ear, "Don't be self-conscious. If I could dream at all, it would be about you. And I'm not ashamed of it."

Just as I said that we both heard Charlie pull up out front. "Should your father know I'm here?" I asked.

She thought quickly and said, "I'm not sure…"

"Another time then…" I whispered and then quickly exited the back of the house.

I was still close enough to hear Bella call, "Edward!" I had to laugh. I would not be far and I'd see her soon enough.

Bella and Charlie ate their Lasagna and reviewed their days with each other. I could tell from Charlie's side of it, Bella was in a hurry.

It wasn't long before she appeared in her room. After my revelation to her earlier, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that she had expected me to be there.

"Edward?" she whispered, searching the darkness for me.

"Yes?" I laughed from behind her. I was lying comfortably on her small bed, my feet hanging off the end and my hands behind my head. I think I scared her to death. She spun around, grabbing her throat.

"Oh!" she gasped, sinking to the floor.

"I'm sorry." I apologized, trying not to laugh.

"Just give me a moment to restart my heart."

I slowly sat up, trying not to frighten her any further. I gently grasped her by the top of her arms and lifted her onto the bed beside me.

We sat there for a few moments while her heart rate returned to normal. I could not believe her reaction. Again, I expected her to expect me to be in her room. Perhaps actually seeing me there for the first time was what shocked her.

"Can I have a minute to be human?" she asked.

"Certainly," I said, raising one hand to encourage her to do as she needed.

She turned to me and pleaded, "Stay."

"Yes, ma'am," I complied.

She leapt off the bed and gathered her pajamas and bathroom necessities from her desk. She left the light off and slipped out the door, closing it behind her.

I obeyed her wishes and waited patiently for her to return. I didn't move an inch. I just scanned her room with my eyes, seeing things in a new light after days of questioning and gathering more insight on her.

There was a bulletin board with a drawing of her and her dad she had made as a child, with Bella scrawled across the bottom in crayon. There were pictures of her with her mom standing in front of a cactus and another with Renee and Phil at a ball field. There were various mementos such as tickets from concerts and ball games she had attended. I noticed a picture of her and a woman that must have been her Grandmother Swan.

Everything in her room indicated a typical teen-age girl lived in it, but Bella was far from typical and far more mature than any teen-age girl I had ever met.

It wasn't very long before I heard her shout down to Charlie. "Night, Dad."

"Night Bella." He replied back.

Suddenly she was back. She was standing next to her bed in her usual sleeping attire, comfortable gray sweatpants and a holey t-shirt. The way she tossed and turned at night she needed comfortable clothing to sleep in. I deduced that she had worn the holes in the shirt from her sleep pattern. Her hair was damp and I could smell the strawberry scent of her shampoo. I raised one eyebrow in approval. "Nice," I said.

The grimace on her face indicated she was not in agreement with my feelings.

"No, it looks good on you." I meant that. Aside from that awful sweater, I had not seen one thing that looked bad on Bella. She was what most humans described as "the girl next door" and I loved that about her. There was no one in the world, human or inhuman that was more beautiful to me than she was.

Bella made no secret of the fact that she believed Rosalie was the epitome of true beauty. I saw things differently. Bella didn't wear make-up and she didn't need to. She had naturally radiant skin and her dark, chocolate eyes were that much more exotic against her pale complexion. Bella's beauty emanated from within.

She returned to my side, sitting cross-legged, looking down at the floor. "Thanks," she whispered. I only wished she could comprehend how truly beautiful I found her.

"What was all that for?" I asked, referring to her stomping and slamming of doors.

"Charlie thinks I'm sneaking out." She answered with a frustrated smirk.

"Oh." How could he think that? Sneaking out wasn't Bella's style. He needed to be more concerned with whom, or what, was sneaking in. "Why?" I asked.

"Apparently, I look a little over-exited." She grinned.

I reached for her face and with my fingers I gently lifted her chin, admiring her flawless face.

"You look very warm, actually." I said. I then bent my face towards her, laying my cheek against her skin. Feeling her warmth against my cool skin made me feel more…human. Her warmth enveloped me. "Mmmmmm…" I breathed her scent in.

She wasn't saying much. I had a feeling I was dazzling her again.

"It seems to be…much easier for you, now to be close to me." She finally said.

I glided my nose to the corner of her jaw, gently moving her damp hair out of the way so that I could kiss the hollow space beneath her ear. "Does it seem that way to you?" I murmured, never opening my eyes.

"Much, much easier," she breathed slowly. She was trying to be very still. She had been very cautious of her movements since my over-reaction earlier today in the meadow.

"Hmmm." I purred.

"So, I was wondering…" she said as I ran my fingers lightly across her collarbone. Yes. She was dazzled. She couldn't even complete a thought.

"Yes?" I breathed.

"Why is that," she asked, her voice trembling, "do you think?"

I laughed lightly at her exhibition of human weakness. "Mind over matter." I stated.

She pulled back from me and I didn't move. I instinctively stopped breathing. We both looked at each other with caution, wondering what the other had done and what her reaction had meant. I looked at her with confusion, hoping she would explain.

"Did I do something wrong?" I asked. Not being able to read her mind was extremely frustrating.

"No – the opposite. You're driving me crazy," she responded.

That pleased me. I couldn't help but to smile as I pondered her answer. As new feelings and emotions surfaced for me they seemed to be awakening within her as well. "Really?" I asked.

I must have sounded arrogant by her response. "Would you like a round of applause?"

I continued to smile. Nothing could take the smile off of my face. Yes, I was pleased with myself and I was with Bella. That always made me smile. "I'm just pleasantly surprised," I said. "In the last hundred years or so I never imagined anything like this. I didn't believe I would ever find someone I wanted to be with…in another way than my brothers and sisters. And then to find, even though it's all new to me, that I'm good at it…at being with you…"

"You're good at everything," she pointed out.

I shrugged my shoulders. I couldn't argue with that. I had yet to find anything I was not good at but this whole human emotion thing was unchartered territory for me.

She asked me how it had gotten so easy for me, given how difficult it had been as early as this afternoon in the meadow. I apologized for my awful behavior then and told her that it wasn't so much easy as I had found the strength within me to fight that urge. I lifted one of her hands to my face and breathed in the scent from her wrist, to prove to her I was able to handle this closeness. "Mind over matter," I reiterated.

My mood turned serious, feeling the inner turmoil that still plagued me when it came to Bella. "I'm trying," I said. "If it gets to be…too much, I'm fairly sure I'll be able to leave."

Her face puckered with displeasure. She didn't want to think of me leaving any more than I did.

I explained to her that, every time I was away from her for any length of time, it would be more difficult again. I told her it was easier for me tonight than before because I had been breathing her scent in all day, de-sensitizing myself to it. Each time I went away and came back, it was like the first day I caught her scent.

"Don't go away then," she pleaded. She must have decided I could hide in her closet every night while she slept. Surely Charlie wouldn't notice my presence.

I smiled and gently wrapped my fingers around her wrists. "That suits me. Bring on the shackles. I am your prisoner."

"You seem more optimistic than usual," she pointed out. "I haven't seen you like this before."

I smiled at her. She was finally relaxed around me. She trusted me. She realized I only wanted to love her and protect her – not hurt her. I liked seeing this version of Bella – no emotional walls.

"Isn't it supposed to be like this?" I asked. "The glory of first love, and all that. It's incredible, isn't it, the difference between reading about something, seeing it in the pictures, and experiencing it?"

"Very different," she agreed. "More forceful than I'd imagined."

We were both experiencing this first love thing together, only it had taken me nearly 100 years to experience it. But it was so powerful and so magnificent and intoxicating, it was worth every decade I spent alone.

I tried to explain another emotion I was feeling to Bella – jealousy. I was unsure of what it was at first. I realized what the emotion was after I experienced the same sensation each time one of the boys at school asked her out. I told her I tried not to care, but I found it impossible.

I confessed to her that the day all the boys had lined up to ask her to the dance was the first night I had come to her room. I watched her sleep; hoping the answer would come to me in dealing with what I knew was right vs. what I wanted.

"And then," I whispered seductively, "as you were sleeping, you said my name. You spoke so clearly, at first I thought you'd woken. But you rolled over restlessly and mumbled my name once more, and sighed. The feeling that coursed through me then was unnerving, staggering. And I knew I couldn't ignore you any longer." I paused for a moment. I could hear her heart race and I had to be sure why –it was not out of anger that I heard her call my name, she was moved by the affect her words had on me.

"But jealousy…it's a strange thing. So much more powerful than I would have thought. And irrational! Just now, when Charlie asked you about that vile Mike Newton…"I shook my head in totally disgust.

"I should have known you'd be listening," she groaned. I don't think she would ever get used to my gift.

"Of course." I grinned.

"That made you feel jealous, though, really?"

"I'm new at this; you're resurrecting the human in me and everything feels stronger because it's fresh."

I had so many new feelings and emotions coming to "life" within me that I wasn't sure how I was going to manage them. Being this close to Bella was not only difficult because of her scent but because she was a beautiful woman and I was feeling cravings for her that I had never anticipated. I was a gentleman vampire though and I would not act on those desires – not yet.

My revelation opened the door for Bella to express her insecurity over not being comparable to Rosalie. Of course she wasn't – not even close. Rosalie was beautiful, but shallow and self-centered. That lessened her beauty to me.

"There's no competition." I reassured her, pulling her arms around my back, gathering her into my chest.

"I know there's no competition," she mumbled. She had taken it the wrong way. "That's the problem."

"Of course Rosalie is beautiful, in her way, but even if she wasn't like a sister to me, even if Emmett didn't belong with her, she could never have one tenth, no, one hundredth of the attraction you hold for me." I spoke with such sincerity and thoughtfulness; I hoped it would help her understand how strongly I felt towards her. "For almost ninety years I've walked among my kind and yours…all the time thinking I was complete in myself, not realizing what I was seeking. And not finding anything, because you weren't alive yet."

When she spoke, it was typical Bella – selflessly, the exact opposite of how Rosalie would have responded. "It hardly seems fair," she whispered, not moving from my hold on her. "I haven't had to wait at all. Why should I get off so easily?"

I grinned and chuckled slightly. Only Bella would think she was getting off easily. "You're right. I should make this harder for you, definitely." I took one of her hands in mine and, with the other hand, gently stroked her wet hair that hung to her waist. "You only have to risk your life every second you spend with me, that's surely not much. You only have to turn your back on nature, on humanity…what's that worth?"

"Very little – I don't feel deprived of anything."

How simply she thought of everything. Mortality and immortality were so much more complicated than she seemed to grasp.

Her words filled me with an overwhelming sadness. I did not want for her what I had suffered through. Of course my parents were already gone when Carlisle changed me, but years of this existence had wiped away most of my human memories. If it weren't for Bella bringing out those emotions in me now, allowing me to share with her those human experiences I never had…

I held on tightly to her wrists. I could tell she was trying to move back, to look at me. I did not want her to see the expression on my face. It was bad enough the tone of my voice was giving a hint of my sadness. Just then, I heard Charlie coming quietly up the stairs.

"Lie down!" I hissed at her. Then I stepped back into the darkness where he could not see me. Sure enough, be peeked in on her to make sure she was still in her room. She breathed in and out deeply to convince him she was sleeping soundly. What a horrible actress. Fortunately Charlie believed her and retired to his room for the night.

I then returned to her bed and lay down next to her, on top of the quilt so it served as a barrier between her and my cold skin.

"Should I sing you to sleep?" I asked. I began to hum the lullaby I had composed at home for her. She had never heard it before.

She laughed. "Right. Like I could sleep with you here."

I had to remind her of the obvious. "You do it all the time."

She rolled her eyes and reached over to lay her hand on my chest. It still sent shockwaves through me when she touched me. Why didn't she run away like every other human would? She seemed to have no survival instincts whatsoever.

She scolded me with her reply. "But I didn't know you were here."

"So if you don't want to sleep…" I said, ignoring her tone. She caught her breath. I surprised her.

"If I don't want to sleep…?" she asked.

I laughed. I enjoyed teasing her. She was so easy "What do you want to do then?"

"I'm not sure," she answered. I could almost hear the gears in her head turning. Her heart was certainly racing.

I thought I would further complicate her decision process by running my nose along her neck, breathing her scent in deeply.

"I thought you were de-sensitized," she whispered.

"Just because I'm resisting the wine doesn't mean I can't appreciate the bouquet," I whispered. "You have a very floral smell, like lavender…or freesia," I added. "It's mouthwatering."

"I've decided what I want to do," she answered. "I want to hear more about you."

Her willpower was certainly something to be marveled at.

"Ask me anything." I said. Being so close to her and feeling the warmth radiate from her body, breathing in her scent made me vulnerable. She could have asked me anything and I would have complied, without hesitation.

"Why do you do it?" she asked. "I still don't understand how you can work so hard to resist what you…are, Please don't misunderstand, of course I'm glad that you do. I just don't see why you would bother in the first place."

I gave what she asked some thought before I answered her. "That's a good question, and you are not the first one to ask it. The others – the majority of our kind who are quite content with our lot – they, too, wonder at how we live. But you see, just because we've been…dealt a certain hand…it doesn't mean that we can't choose to rise above – to conquer the boundaries of a destiny that none of us wanted. To try to retain whatever essential humanity we can."

She didn't move for a few minutes, "Did you fall asleep?" I asked.


I thought I was getting off easy. "Is that all you are curious about?"

I saw her roll her eyes. "Not quite."

"What else do you want to know?" I asked.

"Why can you read minds – why only you? And Alice, seeing the future…why does that happen?"

I shrugged. I wasn't sure I completely understood the whys myself. "We don't really know. Carlisle has a theory…he believes that we all bring something of our strongest human traits with us into the next life, where they are intensified – like our minds, and our senses. He thinks that I must have already been very sensitive to the thoughts of those around me. And that Alice has some precognition, wherever she was."

She went on to ask what the others brought into this life. I explained that Carlisle brought his compassion, Esme her ability to love passionately, Emmett his strength and Rosalie her tenacity. Then I tried to explain to her how Jasper had the ability to control the emotions of those around him, calming a tense situation or exciting a lethargic group.

She took in all the information I had beset her with. Then she asked me how it all started. She knew, obviously, that Carlisle had created me and that someone had to create him, but she wanted to understand the beginning.

"Well, where did you come from?" I posed to her. "Evolution? Creation? Couldn't we have evolved in the same way as other species, predator or prey? Or, if you don't believe that all this world could have just happened on its own, which is hard for me to accept myself, is it so hard to believe that the same force that created the delicate angelfish with the shark, the baby seal and the killer whale, could create both of our kinds together?"

"Let me get this straight – I'm the baby seal, right?"

"Right." I laughed, gently pressing my lips to her hair. Resisting her was going to be so difficult. But I had to remember I didn't kill her today. I had resisted an urge I thought impossible, so surely I could resist this human desire.

"Are you ready to sleep?" I asked. "Or do you have more questions?"

"Only a million or two," she retorted, snuggling closer to me. How could she find my cold, stone figure comforting? I imagined it would have been like sidling up to a block of ice for her.

I reassured her there was time. "We have tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…" She sighed with relief and closed her eyes, comforted by my promise.

"Are you sure you won't vanish in the morning?" she asked. "You are mythical, after all."

"I won't leave you." I promised her. I never wanted to leave her. I wanted every day and every night to be just as this one had – magical and real.

She was much like a young child who fought sleep off, talking their heads off until they passed out. She had another question but seemed to be embarrassed to ask it. Even in the darkness of her room I could feel the blush of her cheeks. When she changed her mind about asking me I reassured her that she could ask me anything. After all, had I denied her one request?

She was being quite stubborn about asking the question. I prodded her, convincing her I would assume it was something much more awful than I was certain it was. Again, this would be one of those times that reading her mind would make this all easier for us both.

"Well," she started. "You said that Rosalie and Emmett will get married soon…Is that…marriage…the same as it is for humans?" She struggled to finish the question, but she managed. I had to chuckle because now I knew what she was getting at, what had embarrassed her. "Is that what you are getting at?"

I could feel her squirm with anxiety. I know she wanted to know the answer, but she also seemed to wish she had not actually asked.

"Yes, I suppose it is much the same," I said. "I told you, most of the human desires are there, just hidden behind more powerful desires."

"Oh." She said.

"Was there a purpose behind your curiosity?" I asked, wondering.

"Well, I did wonder…about you and me…someday…"

Why couldn't she move more slowly? It was just today that she had seen me in my truest form. She should take the time to contemplate that rather than pushing for something I could never give her, no matter how desperately I might want to. It would be too dangerous. I told her simply that I did not think that would be possible for us.

"Because it would be too hard for you, if I were that…close?"

"That's certainly a problem. But that's not what I was thinking of. It's just that you are so soft, so fragile. I have to mind my actions every moment that we are together so that I don't hurt you. I could kill you quite easily, Bella, simply by accident." I moved the palm of my hand to her cheek. I didn't want her to think that I did not desire her in that way. I was only concerned with her safety. "If I was too hasty…if for one second I wasn't paying enough attention, I could reach out, meaning to touch your face, and crush your skull by mistake. You don't realize how incredibly breakable you are. I can never, never afford to lose any kind of control when I'm with you."

I waited for her to respond, to let me know she understood my rationalization. "Are you scared?" I asked.

"No. I'm fine." She said softly.

Now it was my turn to ask a question. I had to wonder where her curiosity on the subject had come from. "I'm curious now, though," I said softly. I didn't want to offend her. "Have you ever….?"

Again, I could feel her blush. "Of course not." She said matter-of-factly. "I told you I've never felt like this about anyone before, not even close."

I told her that I was so used to reading other people's thoughts and that I knew that love and lust did not always co-exist. She assured me that they did with her, now that they existed at all.

"That's nice," I said, relieved that neither of us had experienced that level of intimacy with anyone. "We have that one thing in common, at least."

"Your human instincts…" she started. "Well, do you find me attractive, in that way, at all?"

How could she not know that? I ruffled her hair, which was almost dry, with my hand and answered her. "I may not be human, but I am a man."

She yawned and I told her I had answered her questions and encouraged her to go to sleep. When she told me she wasn't sure if she could I offered to leave. She was quite insistent that I stay. Then I began to hum her lullaby softly in her ear. She quickly drifted off into a restful sleep, wrapped in my cold arms and a thin quilt.

After a few hours of lying next to her, I was certain she had fallen into a deep, restful sleep. It had been an exhausting day after all.

She only said a couple of things and it was with a smile on her face. The words brought satisfaction to me and I knew I had time to run home to shower and change clothes. I would return before she ever missed me.

Of course my family was anxious to see me, although Alice would have already told them the day went well.

"Hi Edward," Alice said cheerfully before I had even crossed the threshold of the front door.

Hello Alice. Don't look so surprised. How refreshing to be able to speak with my thoughts again.

I saw that you didn't hurt her. But I want details. Alice had at least not embarrassed me in front of the family.

"I am a gentleman, Alice. I do not kiss and tell," I whispered in her ear as I walked past her to go up the stairs to my bedroom.

You kissed her? She thought excitedly. There was no hiding her excitement from the family as her bright eyes light up.

I ignored Alice and passed the rest of the family as I went about my business.

"Edward is bringing Bella here later." I could hear Alice tell the family as soon as I reached my bedroom.

"Wonderful." Esme said, clapping her hands together. I am sure she was already beginning to plan how they all should present themselves to Bella.

"I refuse to be here." I heard Rosalie protest.

"Rosalie, we will all be here," Carlisle said calmly. "Edward is your brother. We support each other in this family."

I was done quickly and back down the stairs before Rosalie could complain much further.

"We'll see you later Edward," Esme said gleefully as I headed out the door, back to Bella's room.