Special thanks to Sebastien Robichaud for coming up with the title Finding Liberty. I ruminated on it for 4 days and came up with zilch. It took SR roughly twelve minutes to get back to me with the perfect title. And to Riss-uscmam who told me to do this months ago. Sometimes I'm a little slow on the uptake.
Many of you have probably seen these already, but I thought I'd post for those who have jumped in late.
These outtakes are generally shorter than a standard chapter, but Edward's wordiness more than makes up for it.
Thanks to Lucette21 and Daisy3853 for betaing this little ditty for me.
This first chapter covers most of the beginning of chapter 9, the day after the wedding, and is from EPOV.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
I woke up disoriented, expecting darkness and the ever-present feeling of exhaustion that had plagued me since I got to Annapolis. I was pleasantly surprised to wake up rested with my beautiful Bella sleeping soundly next to me, sunlight glinting off of her brown hair, making it look almost red. She was wrapped up in a sheet and looked incredibly relaxed as she slept. I wanted to touch her and kiss her and make her mine again but I couldn't find it in my heart to wake her. I could only imagine what the last few weeks had been like for her and she had looked so tired yesterday. I wanted her to be able to find whatever peace she could, while she could. I meant it when I told her that I couldn't remember a time when I didn't love her. I had waited so long for her and now to wake up with her, for my dreams of her to be a reality, made my heart swell in my chest. She was everything and I so badly wanted to keep her with me.
Yesterday had to be the single most frustrating yet amazing day of my life. I was so crushed when I thought I wouldn't make it to her in time. Getting bumped off the flight made my blood boil and my heart ache simultaneously. I had given myself enough time to get to New York, get her a her ring and make it on time and with one decision made by a faceless bureaucrat, Bella's wedding day was ruined. As if it wasn't bad enough that I couldn't give her a proper wedding. Jasper saw the look on my face and swore he would get me there and I had to believe him because I was in no shape to be civil to anyone. Somehow, Jasper managed to get us on a flight leaving forty-five minutes later, but the wait in the airport was interminable. I paced like a caged animal the whole time we waited while Jasper tried to calm me with assurances that Bella would wait for me.
I knew she loved me, but I was so afraid that she would lose faith in me, that she would think I didn't want her. I wanted her. I wanted her more than anything in the world and I just hoped she remembered everything I told her. When we landed, Jasper and I ran through New York Municipal Airport, grabbed a taxi and made our way to Manhattan. We had the taxi driver wait while I got Bella's ring and then he sped us over to City Hall.
My relief at seeing Bella standing outside, waiting for me, was profound. She hadn't left me.
The rest of the day passed in a haze of love and want; by the time we got back top our room my body was shaking with how much I just wanted to touch her and kiss her and make her feel good. There were no adequate words to describe how it felt to make love to Bella. It felt better than I remembered and the emotion of it shocked me.
I spent another few minutes watching her sleep, lightly running my hands over her hair, which made her moan in her sleep. I forced myself out of bed, stretched, and decided to take a run in the park. I knew it was cold but I had sweats with me and thought the chill in the morning air would be exhilarating. Not as exhilarating as making love to my wife, but since that wasn't an option, I would have to settle for the run.
There were a couple of other runners in the park and the weather wasn't nearly as cold as I thought it would be. As I ran I thought about the future, a topic I knew Bella was trying to avoid. I was so worried about her living in a strange city by herself, but I knew it was a battle I would ultimately lose. She could be stubborn when she wanted something and I knew she was adamant about following me. I still hoped to sway her but suspected it would be futile. Besides, there was a small part of me that was thrilled to know that she loved me enough to want to be where I was, no matter where that would be.
Not knowing where I was going was eating away at me. If I knew where I was going, I might not worry so much. I was smart enough to know to which division I would probably be assigned, I just had no idea what that would mean for Bella and me. I knew my future was in Intelligence, but that could mean anything. I could be stationed as far away as Moscow or as close as here in the states. To be stationed close to home, to be able to live every day with Bella is something I won't even let myself consider. The letdown would be too great if it didn't happen. Once the war was over I would work every day to earn the love and trust Bella had in me.
I finished my run and headed back through the hotel, the concierge tipping his cap to me. I was a Naval officer and I was in the honeymoon suite; there would be little they wouldn't do for me and I planned to take full advantage of that fact. I stopped at the desk and asked the concierge to make dinner reservations for us for that evening at La Pavillon. One of the recruits from New York told me it was one of the best, most romantic restaurants in town and I wanted Bella to have the nicest honeymoon I could give her. It was already so rushed and short and I hoped that some day I could make it up to her.
When I got back to the room and saw that Bella was still sleeping, I again resisted the urge to wake her and instead decided to have a quick shower. She looked so pretty when she slept.
After my shower, I emerged from the bathroom in one of the robes provided by the hotel, not sure in what state of undress it would be appropriate for Bella to find me. We had been as intimate as two people could be, but I was still so unsure of how any of this worked. Would she blush at my naked body, be disgusted, or would she enjoy seeing me? Would she be comfortable being naked around me when we weren't making love? Would she change her clothing in front of me? I wanted answers to these and so many other questions, but I feared we would run out of time before I unlocked her mysteries.
I let those thoughts cloud my mind and I started to brood about our short time together when I heard a small voice say, "Edward."
I was startled and walked over to the bed, ready to start our day, until I realized that her eyes were still closed. She spoke my name in her sleep.
Fascinated, I walked over to a chair by the window and sat, waiting for her to say something else, but feeling a bit guilty, like I was eavesdropping.
"Edward," she said again, so softly. "Missed you so much..." She sighed and turned to her side.
She said other things about New York, about me, even about Alice. After about ten minutes she said something that made my heart skip a beat.
"I love you, Edward. Please don't leave me." Her voice was small and laced with a desperation I had never heard from her before. "I don't want to be without you. I love you so much." She sighed again and was silent. The effect her words had on me was profound.
Not only was I completely sexually aroused, but my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. This girl that I had loved for as long as I could remember loved me back. I knew she loved for me, but I didn't realize until now that her love for me was as deep and abiding as mine was for her. I felt like the luckiest man on the face of the earth until I thought about our future, about the fact that in four short days we would likely be separated for months, if not years. I felt tears prickle my eyes and I took a deep breath, stopping them before they could fall.
I went to the living room, called down for coffee and picked up the newspaper. As much as every part of me wanted to wake Bella and keep her with me, I would be a gentleman and wait for her to wake up. I looked at the clock, silently willing her to wake up and just be with me.
She came out soon after, in a robe, her hair messy with sleep. She came right over to me and sat in my lap and I let out a sigh, so happy that she was with me again. I put my arms around her and held her, wanting to be close to her.
"Good morning. I'm glad you're finally awake. I missed you," I said honestly.
"What time is it?" she asked, yawning like a little girl with her hand over her mouth.
"It's just after ten o'clock" I said, kissing the top of her head. I loved the way her hair smelled.
"How long have you been awake?"
"I've been up for a while. I've been conditioned. We had to get up at five o'clock every morning at Annapolis, but I did manage to sleep until six thirty this morning."
"So what have you been up to since you got up?"
"I went for a run in Central Park, the came back and took a shower." I moved the hair away from her neck as my fingers traced a slow path from her forehead to her neck. I felt slightly guilty for listening to her this morning, so I wanted to be honest. "Then I listened to you talk in your sleep."
She flushed a beautiful shade of pink and buried her head in my neck. I rubber my hand up and down her back, wanting to offer comfort. "What did I say?" she asked.
I wanted her to know. She needed to know that I loved her as much as she loved me. That this was real for me and that nothing within my power would ever take me away from her. I put a finger under her chin and lifted her so she could see the sincerity in my face, but she wouldn't look at me.
"You love me," I said softly, hoping my words would convey what she refused to see in my face.
She looked at me, then reached out her hand and touched my cheek. "Of course I do. Did it take me saying it in my sleep for you to believe it?"
"No, no. I...God, I love you so much." I held her tighter, wanting her to understand that I never doubted her, just maybe myself. "I was so terrified to tell you how I felt about you for so long and then when I finally did, things happened so fast. I just marvel at the fact that you love me and I finally have you to myself."
"Get used to it. I plan on loving you for a very long time."
I took her left hand and kissed it. "Do you like your ring? I'm sorry it's not big and fancy, but I refused any help from my parents and my lifeguard job from the past two summers only paid so much." I didn't know why I needed to explain. She had to know my family had money and I didn't want her to feel like it was a reflection of my love for her.
"It's perfect. Since when have you ever known me to like anything big and fancy anyway?"
"Never. I just didn't want there to be any mistake. The size of the ring is not proportional to my love for you." I hoped she understood. I took all of the money I saved over the past two summers and bought her a ring and put some aside so I could spoil her while we were here. She deserved nothing less, especially since this is not how I ever envisioned the start of our life together. The war had taken away the honeymoon I wanted to give Bella, but I would see to it that she enjoyed herself.
"I didn't think it was, but thank you. I love my ring and I wouldn't trade it for anything." She kissed me and her brow furrowed.
"Is there any more coffee?" she asked.
"No, but I'll order you some."
While she was in the shower I called down and had them send up coffee and breakfast. I wasn't sure what Bella wanted, but I had known her long enough to know that she preferred bacon over sausage, pancakes over French toast and that she liked her eggs cooked until they were brown.
When Bella came out of the bedroom her hair was wet and she looked so well rested and happy and it made me smile to know that I was taking good care of her.
Her eyes widened when she saw the dining table. "Did you order everything on the menu?"
"Yes," I said. "I wasn't sure what you wanted and I thought you might be hungry." She sat down and didn't touch anything so I poured her a cup of coffee and watched her sip it before I had an idea. I picked up a strawberry and pressed it to her closed lips.
She hesitated so I said, "Open, Bella." She opened her mouth and I slid the strawberry past her lips and into her mouth. I couldn't believe how aroused it made me to watch her eat, but I was powerless to stop it. I watched, fascinated, as a bit of strawberry juice escaped her mouth and before I even realized what I was doing, I reached out my tongue and licked the juice from her mouth. Her breath caught but she didn't pull away so I told her exactly what was on my mind. "You taste so good."
All I wanted to do was take her in the bedroom and make love to her again, but it was morning time and I didn't know if she would want to. So I shifted in my seat, hoping to get more comfortable, and decided I would be happy just watching her eat. I took a grape from the plate and fed it to her, content to nourish her in any way I could.
As I removed my fingers from her mouth, she reached out her tongue and licked my fingers.
Bella licked my fingers.
I saw my feelings reflected back at me as I looked in Bella's eyes. Love. Desire. Happiness. Want.
I wanted her. I wanted every part of her. I wanted to know everything she felt, every dream she had, every desire. I wanted to learn everything there was to know about her body and how to make her feel good.
"God, Bella," I said. "We're not going to make it through breakfast."
Bella stood and I was afraid she was leaving, disgusted with my behavior. I swallowed thickly, wondering if I had offended her and ruined our morning.
Then Bella surprised the hell out of me. She took my hand and led me to the bedroom. When we got there she closed the door and leaned against it before slowly slipping the robe off of her shoulders.
I couldn't help the smile that spread across my face.