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Age of Edward Contest

Your pen name: EnchantedSailorBella

Title: My Lord Cullen

Type of Edward: Dukeward

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"Isabella!" My best friend Mary Alice Brandon was running my way across the courtyard. We had not seen each other in more than a year. By the Queen's request, I had gone to serve the Spanish court. "Isabella, 'tis so great to see you. I have missed you so." She threw her arms around my waist and squeezed me tighter than the corset I wore ever could.

"Mary, I've missed you too. I really wish that Queen Catherine had sent you with me. Everyone there spoke in almost nothing but Spanish. I haven't spoken much since I left." Mary still hadn't let go of me. I realized that I had grown taller as I looked down at my friend's cap.

Releasing me from her strangle hold, she took my arm and began to escort me from the courtyard. "There is so much to tell you. The king has taken another mistress. The sister of a former mistress who mothered two of his bastard children. He has been seen openly with her. Her name is Anne Boleyn. The poor Queen is a mess."

"Hush, Mary" I looked around the courtyard carefully. "You must not speak of such things so openly. The Queen has been very good to us, and we mustn't publicly disgrace her so." I grasped the tops of Mary's arms firmly as I turned her so that I could look her in the eye as I scolded her. She was always so excited that she tended to forget herself.

She hooked her arm in mine and pulled me through an entryway of the castle, easily diverted. "Then we shall discuss other matters. Let's begin with your brother's engagement. I've met Lady Hale recently. She seems to be a lovely woman."

I scrunched my nose. Lady Hale did not much like me. On the few occasions that I had seen her, she had made it her duty to tell me how out of fashion my dress was or what a disgrace I was to my family that I was already sixteen and was not even trying to attract the attention of a suitor.

What she did not know, was how wrong she was. I had spent the last summer before I went to Spain trying to attract the attention of the Duke of Mason. Lord Cullen was the most amazing man that I had ever met. He was ten years my senior and one of my brother's closest acquaintances. I had never met a man who would make me go weak in the knees just by being in the same room.

I noticed the corridor which Mary was pulling me through. "Mary, where are you taking me? I'm supposed to visit with the Queen before I can go home to see my family. I have missed them so and do not wish to tarry any longer."

Mary kept pulling me in the same direction. "The Queen's chambers have been moved, Isabella. The King has moved our beloved Catherine into the tower away from the rest of the court."

I gasped,"If she is no longer in the Royal Chambers, then who is living in them?"

Mary shook her head sadly, "The king has moved the witch Boelyn into her old Chambers. The Queen has held her head high and bore the disgrace as only a Queen could. I fear for her health, though. She will be so glad to see that you've returned. You always could make her smile when you sang for her. No one else has been able to bring such happiness to her." As she spoke we reached the door to the stairwell that would take us to the Queen.

I nearly ran up the stairs to my Queen. I could not imagine what kind of health she was in. When I had been serving as her lady in waiting, she could only speak of her darling King Henry. There was no doubt that she loved him dearly. The betrayal of her husband would be the death of her. I stumbled through the door and looked up on my beloved Queen. She was sitting on her throne with a piece of needle work laid across her lap. I walked across the room and kneeled in front of her. "I have returned to you from Spain my Queen. I hope that my time away has not found you ill."

The Queen placed her hand upon my cap gingerly. "I am so glad to see you, dear Isabella. I have missed you dearly and am glad to have you among my ladies in waiting once more. I hope that we may soon talk about the home of my parents when you have seen your family." She took my hand and pulled me to my feet, "and I hope that you will grace me with your beautiful voice again very soon. There is no voice in all of England that can compare."

I brought the Queen's hand to my lips and kissed the back of her hand. "It would bring me such pleasure to do so for my Queen. At present, I must ask permission to take my leave to see my family. I rushed here to see you upon my arrival. I miss my family so and do not wish to go any longer with out seeing them. I promise to return to you before the rising of the sun."

The Queen smiled at me, a ghost of the smile that I had once known to grace her beautiful face and my heart clenched at the sight. "I await the time when we may sit as we once did. I wish to know everything that has become of my once beloved homeland." The smile faltered ever so slightly. The sight of my Queen so saddened brought tears to my eyes. One spilled over and she caught it. "And I hope to see your smiling face again very soon, Isabella."

I curtsied low and walked from the room, never turning my back on my Queen. How could the King have turned on her so? Such a beautiful woman deserved so much more.

Mary escorted me from the tower to the courtyard where she had first spotted me. "How long has she been this way?"

There was no need for me to say more, she knew exactly what I meant. "Three months after you left, she became pregnant. The King was overjoyed. He spent every night dining with her. He sat with her at all the winter sports. He spent every moment with her dotingly. A month into the pregnancy, the poor child was lost. Once the King had discovered it, he abandoned her. He took Anne Boelyn in and she's been with him ever since. There's talk of an annulment. The Witch Boelyn has brainwashed our dear King against the Queen. He cannot see what she is doing to him"

"Why was I not called back immediately?" I would never be able to rid myself of the way that my Lady had looked today. Her skin had appeared as though the bones would come right through them. Her once Spanish dark skin, had now lost much of its color and luster. "The Queen needed me. I should have been there for her."

Mary shook her head, "She didn't want you to know of her troubles. She thinks of you like a daughter, and wanted you to enjoy your time in the land that she grew up in. She kept speaking of the company that you must have been enjoying. It was her dearest wish that you enjoy your time with out worries of her."

I let another tear streak down my cheek. The Queen was far too selfless. At sunrise, I would be ready to tell her everything of Spain. I would tell her the beauty of the lands and talk to her of the merriment of the court.

Mary and I walked to the stable quietly. The stable hand, Michael Newton, was working with one of the younger mares. "Miss Swan, I had heard that you'd returned." The flirtatious smile he sent my way was expected. It was common knowledge that he would try to tempt an unprepared lady in waiting into one of the stalls where he could take her.

I nodded courteously in his direction and went to find my favorite mare among the King's many horses.

"Are you looking for Annabelle, Miss Swan?" Michael's voice was far closer than I was comfortable with.

I turned back to him. "You remember well. Where is the beautiful mare? I have missed her so."

He frowned slightly and I worried that she had passed in my absence. "The young Boelyn has also chosen her as her favorite. She is currently out riding with the King himself."

I sighed. I could not wait for her return to go to my dear brother and father. I wanted the comfort of my childhood walls surrounding me. I wanted to kiss my father and give my bother my congratulations. He had been smitten with Lady Hale since first setting eyes upon her at the young age of eight. "Do you have another that could be spared for the night? It will be returned by sunrise."

Michael waved me over to a nearby stall. I dragged Mary with me so as not to fall into a trap. "Lilly, here, has a similar temperament. I'm sure with a lady as lovely as you atop her, she would be gentler than a lamb."

I thanked him and asked him to saddle her for me. I waited outside with Mary for Michael to produce the mare. When he brought her out, I mounted and headed for home.

Upon arrival, I noticed a carriage close to the house. It was a familiar carriage, a carriage that I had been in upon several occasions. One in which several of my fantasies had been based, fantasies that I would never admit to anyone, not even in confession. It was Edward's carriage. The thought of him being in my father's home caused a familiar tension in the pit of my stomach.

I slowed when I reached the family stable. I took Lilly to the stall in which Annabelle had often stayed. I removed her bridal and saddle and brushed her out. I made sure that her feed and water was fresh before finally making my way into the house.

Upon entering, I could hear the delicious laughter that had my heart fluttering against my chest. I walked toward the sound, determined to see him. I needed to see his face after over a year in absence. I needed to look into his eyes, so much like the magnificent emeralds that adorned much of my Queen's jewelry. They'd been haunting my dreams since my departure. I heard the deep, vibrating laughter again and was nearly sprinting toward it now. I came to the door of the tea room. There he stood. Even with his back to me, I knew that it was him.

My dear brother Emmett was the first to see me. He glance at me and looked away before looking back as if he had seen a ghost. "Isabella?" My name slipped between his lips as no more than a whisper.

I nodded at my brother and smiled. "Yes dear brother, 'tis me."

He stood up and crossed the room to me. "You looked so much like mother standing there in the entry way, that I could not believe what my eyes were seeing. You have grown so much in the past year." He kissed my lips and took my arm, turning me toward the rest of the room. "Dear sister you have missed so much since your departure to Spain. Lady Hale here has finally agreed to marry me."

Lady Hale was smiling at me as though there had never been any ill feelings between us. "Your brother insists on calling me by my title rather than my name. Emmett, dear, when you are my husband, I will expect you to use my name."

He smiled playfully, "When your name is Rosalie Swan, I will be overjoyed to call you so."

She shook her had and turned to me. "Isabella, will you call me by my name? I tire so of being known by who my departed husband was."

"If it pleases you, Rosalie."

Her smile was genuine, and I felt the responding smile stretch across my lips.

Edward cleared his throat. I looked upon his face for the first time in over a year to discover that he was smiling at me. He had not changed in the slightest. He was still the most handsome man that I had ever seen. "Isabella, 'tis a pleasure to see you again." He bowed his head.

I gave a slight curtsy, "And I'm delighted to see you again, Lord Cullen."

His eyes met mine as he gave me a stern look. "When have you ever been able to call me Lord Cullen?"

I smile, "My apologies, Edward. Habit of the court."

He came forward taking my hand and bringing it to his lips. The touch sent shock waves through my body. "I believe that the Spanish air has been good to you, Isabella. You have grown more beautiful, if that is possible." His breath brushed my skin and an involuntary shiver ran down my spine.

Trying to regain my composure, I flashed him a coy smile, "You flatter me too much, Edward. If I didn't know any better, I'd believe you were trying to woo me."

He looked deeply into my eyes, emerald green penetrating to my very soul. "I believe that's exactly what I was trying to do."

I entered Mary's quarters, the quarters that I had once shared with her. As the Queen's main ladies in waiting, we had received a room to ourselves. Upon entering I saw another girl sitting on the bed with Mary. "Isabella!" She turned and ran to me the same way that Mary had only yesterday in the courtyard. "Isabella, I haven't seen you in years."

"Cynthia," Mary scolded from her bed. "The court is still sleeping. You do not wish to draw attention to yourself."

Mary's little sister turned to her and giggled. "Says the wench who's engaged to the head of the King's guard."

I turned all my attention to the maiden who I had assumed to be my closest friend. "Mary Alice Brandon. Why didn't you tell me that you were engaged? Not one of your letters even hinted that you were being pursued by a suitor."

She looked at me sheepishly, "It's a secret engagement," she whispered. "Sir Whitlock and I aren't ready to announce it. He wants to leave the guard and move to the countryside with me. He has grown tired of the court and wants to live in a large home where he can raise a family properly." I could see the adoration in Mary's eyes. While I was away, she had fallen for Sir Whitlock, and there was no coming back for her.

I smiled at her, "Are you going to leave me so soon, Mary?"

She shook her head, "For you, Isabella, I will always find a way to come back."

I smiled at her again before getting ready for the day. It was the first time that I would be serving my Queen, and I wanted to give her no reason to be displeased with me.

Mary and Cynthia walked with me to the Queen's new chambers. They were updating me on the latest gossip. "Lord Cullen has been spending much time at court as of recent." Cynthia stated.

"Is that so?" I was trying desperately to not let it show how much his name alone affected me. It was improper for me to have such feelings for him.

"He constantly walks by our room." Mary said with her all too knowing smile. As younger maidens, she had always teased me for my feelings for the only Lord who rarely appeared at court. "Late at night I can hear him pacing outside the door. It was almost as if he were waiting for something." She glanced over at me from the corner of her eyes.

I looked strait ahead, knowing the crimson color of my cheek extended from my cap to the top of my gown. "Did you speak with him?"

"Only once," Mary said. "He asked if I knew the date of your return. I told him that you were expected back soon. That was a week ago. He's been here everyday since." She was still smiling when we reached the stair well.

Our moods became somber when we reached our Queen. She would not see us. She had locked herself in her bedroom and would not come out.

Mary looked at me concerned. "Isabella, sing. I know she can hear you."

I gathered everything in my heart and sang her favorite Spanish Ballad. Near the end, the door cracked open enough for me to enter. I kneeled at the Queen's bedside and sang as many Spanish songs as I could think of.

Mary had entered the room behind me and was rushing about preparing a bath to soothe our dear lady.

She finally raised her head just enough to look at me. Her tear stained face breaking my heart. "They won't let her come to me."

I reached out and began to braid her hair. Then twisting the plaits from her face, I tried to find what had happened. "Who won't they let come to you, your Majesty?"

"My daughter," she whispered.

My heart splintered more for my beautiful Lady. There was nothing I could say to comfort her. Nothing would mend her heart. She looked as though she was on her death bed, and they wouldn't bring her the one person who could make her feel loved.

A tear stole down my cheek as I helped her stand and undress. Mary and I helped her bathe and dress in preparation for the day.

"The King wants me at his side at the tournament today." Catherine held her head high as she said the words. "It seems the country has grown tired of seeing the Witch that my husband has been parading around."

I forced a smile for my Queen. "Your people love you my Lady. We all love you."

She cupped her hand to much cheek. "I wish for you and Mary to be with me. You have both stood by me through everything. I want you with me when the king looks on me kindly." It was considered the highest of honors to be in the box with the Queen. Only the most noble and trustworthy were allowed.

"It would be my greatest honor." I curtsied and bowed my head low. "Mary and I will follow you anywhere."

She closed her eyes and nodded. "I know you speak the truth, but I fear that they will rip you from me as they did my daughter." She placed her hand under my chin and tilted my head up to look into her eyes. "To save your own life, you will have to go. I fear this is a battle that I will not win."

Mary pulled me back as the Queen walked into her throne room. "I have a terrible feeling that she is right. We will be forced to abandon her. She will not last the season."

I wasn't superstitious, but I had grown to trust Mary's feelings. They were rarely wrong. "She has to Mary. I can't lose her." Another tear streaked down my cheek unwillingly. "I can't lose another mother."

Mary put her arm around my waist and squeezed. She knew how I'd felt about the Queen. She had raised me as only a mother could. "I hope that I am wrong, Isabella. I do not wish to be right." She gently tugged me to the Queen who we followed to morning mass.

Mary and I were sitting on either side of Queen Catherine at the feast. I quickly picked out Sir Whitlock as he couldn't keep his eyes off my dear Mary. It didn't take me long to find Edward either. He smiled and lifted his glass in toast to me. I smiled and nodded his way.

I kept my eyes on him the whole night. When he moved, I watched his muscles ripple beneath the cloth that was blessed to touch his skin. I had the most sinful urge to go to him and run my hands along his muscles. I tried to push the urge away, but then he would move again and the urge would swell once more. The feast passed far too quickly. I wasn't ready to lose sight of him.

When the feast was over, I followed the Queen to her room where I helped her undress and read to her until she slept peacefully.

I had sent all other ladies in waiting to their rooms as most had drunk more than their fill. They would need to sleep off their drink so that they could rise before the rest of the court.

I was walking back to my quarters when I felt something wrap around my wrist. Before I could respond, my back was pressed firmly against a wall. I looked up into the pale blue eyes of the stable boy. He had his hand on over my mouth and his body pressed firmly against mine. Even through my many layers, I could feel his hardness against my abdomen. A single tear streaked down my cheek as I waited for that which I could no longer avoid.

"I've waited for you a long time, Isabella. You have toyed with me too many times, and I'm going to have you now." His breath permeated my nose, smelling heavily of drink that he must have snuck from the kitchen during the feast. He pushed my legs apart with one of his. Taking his hand from my wrist, he reached down to cup my sex through my skirts. "You will give this to me"

More tears streaked down my cheeks as I stared up at him in horror and shock. There was nothing that I could do to stop him. Nothing at all to prevent him from getting what he wanted.

"Get your hands off of her." The melodic voice and hurried footsteps must have been my imagination. I was sure that everybody in the court was passed out from the massive amounts of alcohol consumed. And those who had not drunk their fill had surely returned to their rooms and homes and were sound asleep.

Newton looked over his shoulder. He let some of his body weight shift away from me. I slumped to the ground immediately.

"Isabella!" There was horror in the beautiful angel's voice. It was so close, and so real. A hand gripped my arm tightly, almost painfully, but the jolt in my veins alerted me to who it was, and I welcomed the pressure of his hand on my arms. I looked up into his green eyes that were only inches away from mine. "Isabella, can you hear me?"

I nodded my head, but could do no more than that. I was left stunned by the realization that he had come to my rescue. I was safe because he had been there.

He swept me into his arms where I buried my face in his chest. The tears were flowing more freely now. I couldn't see Newton, but I knew that he was still there. Edward was growling at him. "Miss Swan is a lady from an honorable family and should be treated as such. If I hear that you so much as look at her, you will not live to tell the tale." With that, Edward turned and began walking in a different direction. I didn't know where he was taking me, and I didn't care. I simply clutched at him and breathed in the beautiful scent that nothing in the world could compare to.

With my face buried in his chest, I could hear him knock on a door. When it opened, I could hear Mary's sleepy voice. "Lord Cullen, what happened?"

I could feel a rumbling in his chest when he answered my best friend, "She was attacked by the stable boy. Why was she walking the corridors by herself? 'Tis not safe for such a beautiful maiden."

I had to defend Mary. It wasn't her fault. "I sent them away." The words were muffled into his chest as I refused to move from the soothing scent that he provided. "'Tis my job to ensure that the Queen sleeps soundly. I am the last to leave her chambers."

He turned his angry eyes on me, forcing me to look up at him. "He could have hurt you, Isabella. If I had not been there, he would not have stopped."

I nodded my head, "I know that Edward," I heard Cynthia gasp at such a casual use of a Lord's name. It was not proper, but I was too consumed in Edward's arms around me to care.

His eyes finally softened. The edge to his voice was gone. "You must be more careful, Isabella. Your father and brother could not stand losing you. They have already lost more than should have been taken."

There was something behind his eyes. Something almost sad. I reached up to caress his face. "And you?" The boldness of my own question shocking me.

He turned his head and kissed the inside of my palm, causing my breath to catch in my throat. "Yes, I cannot lose you either."

I should have blushed. I should have been more aware of the audience to our intimacy, but all I could think of was Edward. How his green eyes pierced me, reading my soul. How his laughter was so sweet and delicious that I was addicted to the sound. In that moment, I knew that I was in love with Edward Cullen. In that moment, I wanted him. I wanted every part of him, including his heart. I wanted him to love me too.

Mary was walking close at my side. She had taken Edward's worries to heart. The only time she left me alone was in the Queen's chambers. She would wait for me outside in the throne room and walk with me to my next destination.

I eyed her dejected from with worry. "Mary, you should go tend to Sir Whitlock."

She shook her head sadly, "There are others to dress his wound. We should keep our distance until we're ready to announce our engagement."

Not being able to stand watching my friend suffer a moment longer, I made a quick decision. I turned down the unfamiliar corridor and began heading to the chambers in which I knew Sir Whitlock was now residing. He had been injured in a hunting accident. We reached the guard at the door and I spoke, "The Queen sent us to help with the healing of the good Sir Whitlock. We have knowledge of the local herbs that will more rapidly heal his wounds."

The guard nodded and opened the door to us. I was not a good liar, but Mary needed to see her intended. She had been a mess for days.

Mary and I entered the dark room. She reached out to the bed tentatively. "Sir Whitlock?" her voice was shaky. I was sure that she was close to tears.

"Mary?" It was a mere whisper, but the emotion in his voice beat at my heart.

"Jasper!" She all but threw herself onto the bed, feathering kisses across his face, finally landing on is lips. "Jasper, I've been so worried. I have had no way to come see you without people suspecting."

Jasper shook his head. "I don't care anymore. I cannot be separated from you any longer. I want to speak to your father. As soon as I'm out of this bed, we will be properly engaged." And there it was. The happily ever after for my best friend. Jealousy for her situation hit me. I wanted the life she would soon have.

Sir Whitlock must have sensed my presence because turned his attention to me. "I guess that means that you know our secret."

"Yes, Sir Whitlock." I eyed him carefully. "And I'm holding you to what you just said. I will not tolerate you hurting Mary."

A broad smile lit up his face. "You must be Miss Swan. Both Mary and Lord Cullen speak so highly of you."

My heart started to beat rapidly as I thought of Edward speaking of me to others in the court. "You know Lord Cullen?"

Jasper nodded thoughtfully. "He's far too serious for his age. The only time I've ever seen a genuine smile on his face is when he speaks of you."

I tried not to think about his statement. The only time I'd ever seen Edward in less than a joyous mood was when Newton had attacked me. Could my presence really be what made him happy? I shook that thought away. "Sir Whitlock, may I see your wound? I am well versed in herbal remedies."

He nodded and I inspected the wound. It wasn't deep, but had not been cleaned properly and looked worse than it actually was. I left Mary with a sponge and some warm water to clean the wound as I began to create an oil that would speed the process of recovery.

I saw the adoration in Sir Whitlock's eyes when we left him. He would make Mary happy, which I was grateful for. Mary deserved some happiness. God knows she had seen much sadness with the Queen in my absence.

When we reached our chambers I was surprised to see Edward pacing in front of them. "Lord Cullen." I called out to him in the most formal way possible. There were too many who would report me for speaking out of rank.

"Isabella" he raked his hand through his already disheveled hair, his cap nearly crumpled between his fingers. He closed the distance between us quickly and took my hands. "We have little time. You must come with me."

I took my hands from his and whispered, "Edward, I cannot. The Queen needs me to be here." I could not leave with out my dear Queen's consent.

He turned to Mary, "Miss Brandon. 'Tis no longer safe here. You should not report to the Queen. The moment that he is ready, you must run with Sir Whitlock. The tides are about to turn and you cannot afford to be caught on the wrong side."

Mary continued to stare at him in confusion as he threw my cloak around my shoulders and pulled me away from her. "Edward, we cannot leave." I attempted to hinder our forward motion, but my strength was futile against his.

He pulled me into his carriage. "We must, Isabella. I've already gotten your father and brother away safely. Lady Hale has gone with them. Now you must come with me."

I was dazed. He'd already gotten my family away? If we were really in danger, why would he risk his own life to make sure that my family and I were safe? I shook my head to rid it of those thoughts and questions. At the moment, there were other more pressing matters to attend to. "But the Queen…"

"Cannot run from her fate." He quickly interrupted me. "I will not allow her to drag you down as well. We must get far away quickly"

I shook my head trying to get it to make sense. I couldn't leave my Queen. I had pledged my life and my loyalty to her. If she was in danger I needed to be with her. I would not allow myself to be torn from her.

Edward growled at my lack of attention and took my face forcefully in his hands. "Dammit, stay with me Isabella."

His lips descended on mine with intense force. My train of thought was gone. Edward's lips were all that existed in the world. Losing control of all thought, my body reacted instinctively. My hands weaved into his hair and held him to me.

My response seemed to disable any control he was hanging on to. He twisted so that I was lying underneath him on the seat of the carriage. He broke away to look at me. His green eyes were shaded so much darker. The intensity of his gaze tightened every muscle in my body. "Isabella," his voice came out husky. "Please do not tempt me so. You are in too much danger. I need to think strait until I'm sure that you are safe. There was no doubting his need. He was pressed so tightly against me that I could feel his hardness even through our many layers.

I tried to concentrate on what he was saying rather than how his body felt pressed against mine, "How am I in danger?"

He sighed and heaved himself from me, sitting on the opposite side of the carriage. I wanted to sit with him, but I needed to understand what had happened, and his presence was making that increasingly difficult. He ran his fingers through his hair as I only had moments ago and tugged forcefully at the ends. "The King has officially turned against the Queen and the Church, and if we do not do the same, the Witch Boelyn will have us hunted. You are too close to the Queen. You will be the first to go. I will not lose you." He slammed his fist down on the seat.

The outburst shocked me with its passion, "What do you mean, lose me?" The way he said it was possessive. It tugged at my heart. He did not know how he'd already owned me. Everything about me was already his.

He looked at me a little taken aback. "Did your father never tell you?"

"Tell me what?" It irritated me so not to know what was happening.

There was happiness and worry mixed in his eyes. "When your mother died giving birth to you," he leaned forward and took my hand, "your father took every precaution to ensure that you had a future. He wanted you to be safe. One of those many preparations was an engagement."

I was lost. I was engaged. Why had my father never told me? "Who?"

He looked at me with an amused smirk. "You have been betrothed to me since you were born." He sighed, "You took my heart with you to Spain. I didn't even realize you had it until you were gone. I will not be without you again." There was determination in his last words.

"Edward," I breathed.

He kept his gaze locked with mine. "Isabella, I love you." He caressed my face. "Please don't leave me again."

My breath caught in my throat. He was so close now, and I couldn't resist. Both my hands flew to his hair. I tugged him forward until our lips touched. I needed to kiss him. I needed to touch him. His confession had left me speechless. This was the only way I could let him know how I felt. I threw myself into the kiss with far too much eagerness.

He chuckled under my persistent lips. I growled at his control. I wanted him to hold me. I needed more. The area between my legs ached in an unfamiliar way.

My breathing had increased, and I had pushed my way into his lap. He pulled away to breath. He looked into my eyes and I could see that same intense dark green. "Isabella," he was panting, "I need to make sure you're safe first."

I groaned as I moved back to my side of the carriage. I needed to distract myself from his presence, because I was clearly going unable to control myself.

Exhaustion soon overtook me, and I dreamed of my beautiful Queen. I dreamed of times passed when she used to laugh with me in the sun filled courtyard. When her beautiful smile, brighter than the sun beneath which we sat, graced her face most of the day. The look in her eye and the blush so similar to my own when the King gave her that look. Slowly the sunlight of my dream dimmed and I saw my Queen laying in her bed, alone. She was crying. I tried to comfort her, but I couldn't move. I couldn't call to her, or even sing for her to calm her. I tried to sing her favorite Spanish Ballad, but nothing came. I began to cry.

"Isabella" I could hear the sweet voice through the haze of my dream, but it wasn't what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear my lady's sweet laughter. I needed to know that she was okay.

"Isabella, love. Please stop crying." I unwillingly opened my eyes. I could barely see him through my tears. He pulled me to him, rubbing soothing circles into my back. "Hush, my love. We will be there soon. Your family is waiting for us."

"Edward, we have to go back. She is so sick. They won't even let her see her daughter. I can't abandon her." I was sobbing into his chest, soaking him thoroughly.

He kissed my hair, "They would have killed you. I could not live with that. It may be selfish, but I will not live in a world where you do not exist."

I tried to calm myself. If what he'd said about the King's decision was true, then I couldn't go back. He was right. "What about Mary and Cynthia? What will happen to them?" I should have made sure that Mary was safe before our departure.

He continued to rub his hand across my back soothingly. "Sir Whitlock will take care of them. Once the engagement is announced publicly, she will be safe."

I pulled my face back far enough so that I could look up at him. "How did you know about the engagement. I thought nobody knew."

He smiled, "He couldn't hide the way he reacted when she passed, or the smile they exchanged when they believed that nobody was looking." He looked deeply into my eyes, reaching up to brush his fingers across the apple of my cheek. Even during my distressed confusion, my body reacted to his penetrating gaze. "His reaction to her was very similar to the way that I react around you."

I tried to slow my heartbeat by concentrating on my breathing. "You're distracting me."

He smiled and turned to look out the window. He kept his arms around me, so I tried to use his scent to soothe my fears. I could not protect the Queen from her fate, and I could not replace her daughter, the only person who could make her truly happy.


"Yes dear," I seemed to have pulled him from some other thought.

"Where are we going?" It hadn't occurred to me before, but I'd stepped into the carriage hours ago, and still hadn't discovered it's destination.

"Italy," he said simply.

Shock registered in my system. "That's nearly a month's time of travel."

He nodded his head, "Yes, we are going to change carriages three times before we get to the dock, and then we are going to board a boat so we may rejoin our families. I don't want them to be able to track you."

I tried to piece together what was happening with the little information that I had been given. "You said that we would be there soon."

He nodded again, "We're stopping in an inn close by. I believe you'll feel more rested in a bed and with some food." He took a deep breath. "For your safety, you will need to go by a different name. Your birth name, though beautiful," he stroked my cheek, "is too recognizable."

"What will I be called by?" I was temporarily stunned by his touch and was only barely aware of what he was saying.

"I will introduce you as my wife, so you will be formally known as Lady Cullen." He looked up at me, suddenly realizing that I may not be accepting of his plan. "If you do not mind that is."

"I don't mind," I was caught in his gaze. I couldn't move if I'd wanted to.

"And I love your name so much that I don't want to lose it completely." He continued to gaze deeply into my eyes. "I believe if we were to simply shorten it to Bella, which of course means beautiful, it wouldn't be lost."

I was listening to his voice more than his words, but I understood what he was saying. "So instead of Isabella Swan, I will be Bella Cullen."

He nodded and I thought about it. I bit my bottom lip at the idea of being introduced as Lady Cullen. "Is something wrong? We can figure something else out."

I chewed on my lip for a moment longer many images running through my head. "If I'm introduced as your wife, we'll be sharing a bed?

"As man and wife, we will be expected to do so." I nodded as butterflies assaulted my stomach. "Though, I would sleep on the floor if it will make you more comfortable."

I shook my head, "You are not going to sleep on the floor. We'll be in the carriage far too long to not enjoy the comfort of a bed." I blushed and looked down at my hands, embarrassed by my sinful feelings. "I want to share a bed with you."

He lifted my chin so I was looking in his eyes, "My beautiful, Bella," he kissed my forehead. "Nothing would make me happier than sharing a bed with my beautiful wife."

He leaned down to kiss my nose, "One day," his hand ghosted over my stomach, "I will watch you grow round with my child. You will be so beautiful."

His lips moved to mine. His lips began gently sliding against mine. My arms snaked around his neck while his circled my waist. His tongue trailed across my bottom lip. I hesitantly opened my mouth, granting him access. His tongue entered my mouth and met mine. The sensation sent a shudder down my spine. The heat built between us. I couldn't get close enough to him. The tighter his arms held me, the happier I was.

Suddenly, the carriage stopped, shocking both of us and knocking me to the floor of the carriage. Edward helped me up as the coachman opened the door. "Lord Cullen, we have arrived."

Edward slid from the carriage before turning to offer me his hand. Once I was settled on the ground, he turned back to the coachman. "Thank you, Benjamin. Do you remember what I asked you to do?"

"Yes, sir." He gave a low bow, showing his respect for a man of high rank. "Will Sir Whitlock know where to find me?"

"No," Edward searched around in his cloak, "In the castle you will find a young maiden named Mary Brandon. You will give this to her." Edward handed Benjamin a letter. "She will get it to him. You will wait until he is well enough to move, then you will follow his instructions. You will take them where ever they wish to go."

As soon as the carriage was gone I stretched up on my tip toes and kissed him lightly on the lips. He smiled down at me, "What was that for?"

I smiled up into his eyes, "For saving my father, brother and, now, my best friend. I'm not sure there's anyway that I could ever thank you."

He stroked my cheek gently, "I did this because I love you. You are all the thanks that I could ever want, ever need, and far more than I could ever deserve."

I took the arm that he extended to me, and we walked inside. The strawberry blonde behind the counter looked at Edward, and was so overjoyed that she nearly jumped over the counter to get to him. "Lord Cullen, how nice to see you again. What brings you so far away from England?"

"My parents wanted to meet my young bride." He looked down at me, nothing but love reflected in his eyes. "I could not deny them that pleasure any longer Miss Denali."

Miss Denali's eyes flickered to me and back to Edward. She was obviously not pleased. "Would you like your regular room?"

"If 'tis available, yes." A thrill ran through me as I noticed that he paid Miss Denali no mind, instead returning his gaze to me.

Miss Denali handed us a key and Edward handed her a payment in return. "Dinner will be served down here, unless you'd like me to bring it to your room." There was a glint in her eye when she said it, as though she was bringing more to him than food.

"I would like someone to bring it up to us, if it wouldn't be too much trouble."

"No trouble at all." I tried to ignore the implications in her words. Edward was my betrothed and he loved me. What some inn keeper had on her mind did not affect that at all.

Edward offered me his arm, which I took, and led me to our room for the night. The room was nice. It was rather large with a bed that could easily sleep two. It had a mirror that was far too grand for such an inn, and an Armour as big as the one in my quarters in the castle that I had shared with Mary Alice. My eyes widened with the realization of how much more empty this Armour would be than the one at the castle. "Edward, I don't have any clothes." I couldn't believe that I had missed such an obvious detail.

"I know, dear. My mother and Lady Hale will make sure that you have a wardrobe when we reach Italy." He had taken off his cloak and laid it across a chair.

Nervousness and anxiety crawled around uncomfortably in my stomach. "What am I supposed to wear to bed?"

He sighed, "My apologies. I did not think of such things. I was so worried that they'd get to you before I could get you to safety. I should have grabbed something." A line formed across his forehead as he began to feel that he had not done everything he could have for me.

"'Tis fine," I wanted to get rid of the stress on his face and in his voice. I shouldn't have gotten so worked up over such a small detail. "I'll sleep in my shift."

Only a few minutes later, food was brought to our room. The broth was warm and the toast eased some of the butterflies. It wasn't much, but I felt better after the meal.

I moved to the mirror and began to remove the pins from my cap. Once the cap was removed, the braid fell from the top of my head to the middle of my back. I hate having to cover my hair. The soft texture when I ran my fingers through it was very calming. Though the color was no more than brown, it shined in the light. I ran my fingers through the plaits to remove the braid. Once removed from it's bondage, my hair waved freely past my shoulders and down my back.

I caught Edward's eyes in the mirror as I finished with my hair. "You are so beautiful," he whispered.

The butterflies that had just settled with the help of the meal fluttered again with new vigor. His emerald eyes had darkened to the color of the forest. I stood slowly and turned to him. My breath hitched in my throat as I caught full sight of him. He was leaning against the wall next to the bed. He was looking right at me, studying my body as if every detail was crucial to his very existence.

The power of his eyes drew me to him. I slowly glided to where he stood. He reached out and lightly caressed my cheek before leaning down to claim my lips. His hand moved from my cheek, through my hair, to the back of my neck. He held me there against his lips. The longer he kissed me, the hotter the flames that were consuming me seemed to be. My hands, of their own accord, traveled down his covered chest. I wanted to touch him, worse, I wanted him to touch me. The sinful thoughts burned in my brain until there was nothing else there.

"Isabella," my full name came in a breath. It sent an aching between my legs that I intuitively knew only he could relieve. "Isabella, I want you."

The words came out before I could stop them, before I could think about them. "Take me." It was husky and breathless.

His lips moved across my jaw and down my throat. Once he got to top of my dress, he began to tug on the material lightly. "I need to see you."

His voice sent my heart pounding, which I was sure that he could hear now that he was so close. I reached for the ties of my dress and fumbled with them in my haste. The pure desire and need that I could hear in his voice, coupled with my own sent me in a frenzy to be closer to him. Eventually, with his help, the dress pooled at my feet, leaving me in nothing but my shift and corset.

He pulled me closer and I could feel the affect our bodies were having on each other. He was hard and frighteningly large. I had never been with a man, and my inexperience scared me. As he held me so close, he began to untie my corset, which fell to the floor with my dress before he moved to my shift. I blushed at being seen in such indecency, but my skin was so flushed, he would have never known. He pulled it over my head, leaving me with nothing. My body reacted to the change in temperature immediately. I could feel the ache in my breast as the cool air brought the nipples to a full peak.

He ran his hand through my hair "You are so beautiful, my Isabella." He leaned down, and lifted me into his arms. Placing me gently on the bed, he explored my body with his lips. He began his journey at my lips, brushing his tongue against mine, sending shock waves directly to my sex. His mouth moved created a blazing trail across my jaw, down my throat, and over my chest. When he got to the mound of my breast, he licked around the pebbled skin before drawing it completely into his mouth. The sensation caused me to arch into his mouth, offering more of myself to him. He bit down lightly, causing me to gasp in shock. He licked the wound carefully, lovingly before moving to the next soft mound. He flicked the nipple with his tongue causing a moan to escape my lips, a sound that I did not even know that I possessed. He lightly bit down again marking me as his.

One of his hands traveled down my side and across my stomach. My muscles clenched in anticipation under his touch. His fingers trailed lightly through the hair between my legs. On finger gently applied pressure to a strange bundle of nerves. A jolt ran through me as my body came off the bed, pushing into him.

"Isabella, you are so wet." He ran his fingers through my slit and circled my entrance, "Do you want me?" His fingers teased me as his breath fanned across my breast, wet from his ministrations. A slight whimper slipped through. He finally looked up at me. "Do you want me?"

"Yes," I was breathless and the ache between my legs increased so that my hips bucked without my permission, "Please."

With my words, one finger slipped into my entrance. The pleasure of the friction was so delicious that I moved to increase it. His other hand reached up to knead the breast that he was not ravishing. My hands went to his hair, weaving into the strands, not wanting him to move.

The pleasure increased as he slipped in a second finger, stretching me. He set a rhythm with his fingers that had me gasping for air. Every muscle in my body was tightening in anticipation of an unknown action. He inserted a third finger and everything released as his name escaped my lips. Heat flowed through me to his fingers. He slowed his pace and removed his fingers. I saw him bring his fingers to his lips and suck my juices from his fingers. He closed his eyes as if drawing extreme pleasure from the action.

He suddenly opened his eyes, and they were nearly black. The aching that had eased after my release was back. I could feel the area growing slicker. "Isabella, I need you." The husky words made me shiver.

I reached up my hands to help disrobe him. Fumbling with each tie and button in anticipation. After far too much time had passed, he stood before me, nothing separating us from the other. There was nothing in the world that was more beautiful then what I saw now, nor more frightening. Each muscle was so well defined it was as if it had been carved from marble. His hardness stood proud. I licked my lips and it twitched slightly.

My gaze locked with his. He slid up my body, finally allowing the skin-to-skin contact that I had craved. He took possession of my lips, slipping his tongue into my mouth. As he kiss me, he hitched my legs around his waist. I could feel him positioned perfectly at my entrance, as if we were made to fit together this way. My hips bucked, trying to take him in, to make myself complete.

He broke the kiss and looked into my eyes. I clung tightly to him, afraid that he would slip away, that he was only a dream. "If I hurt you, if I do something wrong you must tell me immediately." I nodded dumbly, my hips still moving in hope of relief.

In one swift movement, he had pushed through me. There was a tearing pain and he caught my scream in his mouth. He stayed there. Our bodies combined as one.

He kissed his way down my jaw and made a path to the junction between my neck and my shoulder. His teeth grazed me gently, distracting me and sending shivers of pleasure through my body. The pain was subsiding and he began to move again. He made slow, deliberate strokes. The pleasure caused by the friction overshadowing the pain. His pace increased and I dug my nails into the muscles of his back.

I felt my muscles clamp down tight on him just as I reached my peak. Liquid heat poured from my body to his. Immediately after I felt his hot seed pool inside of me as he grunted my name.

He collapsed on top of me, anchoring me to the world when my body seemed to be somewhere in the heavens. We lay that way for an immeasurable moment. If one us us shifted in the slightest, the pleasure continued.

As our breathing slowed, I played with his beautiful copper hair. The texture almost making him seem normal, human.

Eventually he pulled himself from within me. The loss was great. I missed him immediately. I felt empty without him there, because that was where he belonged.

He rolled onto his side and pulled me into his chest. The heat still radiating off his skin drove my already exhausted body to unconsciousness.

2 years later

I had just waved goodbye to my father. He visited me nearly every day with the arrival of my child close on the horizon. He was surrounded happily by grandchildren, and he seemed happier and happier with each passing day. I had not known his to ever have such a joyful disposition. But Emmett claimed that he had once been this happy when Mother had been alive.

"Mama!" Little Renesme came running down the hall to me. "Mama, Daddy's home."

I kneeled down and smiled as she flew into my arms. "Oof, darling you must be more careful." I placed both of our hands over my swollen belly. "You don't want to hurt him do you?"

She beamed and shook her little head, bronze curls swaying around her face. I kissed her forehead before she went running in the other direction. I groaned as I lifted myself to my feet.

"Careful, Bella." Mary came running down the hall toward me. She and Sir Whitlock had joined us in our journey to Italy. We had been through so much together. After being forced to leave our beloved Queen, we had been shunned by the country that we had both loved and served our entire lives.

She had been my midwife for me on the journey after we discovered that I was with child. And I had held her when we discovered that her sister, Cynthia, had gone to the Witch Boleyn to be her lady in waiting rather than serving her true Queen.

Mary rubbed my back as she helped me to the chair. "You really mustn't walk around so much. Edward will kill me if he finds out."

I waved her off. "He will do no such thing. We journeyed a great deal of the time that I carried Renesme and she was a beautiful and healthy babe. There is no need to fuss over me now."

"I disagree my dear." Edward entered the room with a playfully stern mask set in place.

Mary curtsied low to Edward out of habit before exiting the room, leaving me alone with my incredible husband. He closed the door and stalked toward me slowly. "Must I have someone hold you down when I leave?"

I pursed my lips, trying not to laugh. "You could just not leave." I said playfully.

He took a step closer, the wicked glint in his eye. My need for him grew as my body did with what I knew was his son. He kneeled down in front of me and took my face in his hands, brushing his lips across my own. He ran his hands down my sides until they caressed my swollen belly.

He pulled back and brushed his lips across my stomach as well. When he looked up into my eyes, I could see that the beautiful green that I loved so much was blurry with unshed tears. One hand came up to brush lovingly against my cheek. "Are you happy my Isabella?" He rarely used my given name anymore. Even in our home in Italy, he feared someone would take me from him.

I smiled down at my loving husband. I took his face between my hands and placed a kiss on his lips. "Yes, my darling husband, yes. I am so filled with happiness that it overflows."

A tear streaked down Edward's cheek and I wiped it away with my thumb as a breathtaking smile spread across his face. "I love you more than you will ever know, my beautiful wife."