Hello, readers! Sorry it took me longer than usual to update! But this chapter is about twice as long as the others, so hopefully that helps some. I'd like to give a ginormous thank you and the biggest hug ever and anything else you want to all my readers. I'm giving you all a bigger thank you than normal because this is going to be the last chapter in this story. I'm really sad to see it go, but this is where I planned to end it all along and I think continuing it would detract from the story line. You guys have been the sweetest, most enthusiastic readers and I thank you guys for every favorite and every review you guys have given me. :) Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I do have to tell you guys where this chapter's quote is. This one is from Breaking Dawn and it's on page 42 in my edition. It's just a few pages into Chapter 3. And don't worry when you don't see M rated stuff immediately. It's in here, just like I promised. :) I think that's about it, folks! Thanks to those who've read this from the beginning, those who just started reading today, those who reviewed any of these chapters, those who favorited this or added it to your alert subscription. Thanks to my lurkers, too! :) Thanks to everyone who gave this a chance. So, without further ado, here's Chapter 10! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, as always. Stephenie Meyer does.
She didn't uncover my eyes until we were in her oversized bathroom. I stared at the long counter, covered in all the paraphernalia of a beauty salon, and began to feel my sleepless night.
"Is this really necessary? I'm going to look plain next to him no matter what."
She pushed me down into a low pink chair. "No one will dare to call you plain when I'm through with you."
"Only because they're afraid you'll suck their blood," I muttered. I leaned back in the chair and closed my eyes, hoping I'd be able to nap through it. I did drift in and out a little bit while she masked, buffed, and polished every surface of my body.
I was slowly getting used to the breezy, cavalier attitude Alice adopted whenever others were around. It had bothered me at first. I missed my tender, gentle Alice. I missed her slow, sad smiles. Pined for her soft, pillowy embraces and touches. Ached to hear her soothing, silver words and whispers again. I thought, for awhile, that I had lost my Alice forever.
It took me a few weeks to understand Alice's new, strange behavior, to know where to look for my Alice underneath the façade. I didn't understand, at first, that Alice had to change her behavior to keep the rest of the family, especially Edward and Jasper, on an even keel. To restore a little bit of emotional balance to things. Our decision to be apart in order to stay with our respective partners wasn't worth much if we appeared to be emotionally sidetracked. I also understood later that Alice knew I wasn't a talented enough actress to help her share the burden of putting on a brave face for everyone else. Alice had to convince me, at least for a little while, that her attitude was genuine. Her casual attitude towards me was so convincing that, one day when we were in her room discussing wedding plans together, my eyes started welling up with tears. I couldn't understand what I had done to make Alice act that way. There were a few family members milling about in other rooms of the house, so I was unable to ask about it.
Alice's eyes widened as she realized that she had been a little too convincing. She didn't say anything to comfort me. She disguised my crying for the rest of the family with an "I'm sorry, Bella. I know all this planning gets a little overwhelming." I was about to break down into full-blown sobs when I felt cool, gentle hands flowing through my hair. I opened my eyes to find Alice kneeling down so that her eyes were level with mine. She never said a word. She didn't have to. I only had to look into her swirling amber eyes to know exactly what she was trying to tell me. Her eyes said that she had been trying for weeks to get me to understand that this was a farce. But, being my unobservant self, I had only taken her words to heart. I hadn't thought to look for more subtle communication. Alice's eyes still held that gentleness and love that I had been missing so badly. My tears slowed and she smiled slowly. She was glad that I finally understood. She patted my cheek gently, tucked one last strand of hair behind my ear, and resumed talking about the guest list.
As Alice spoke, I searched her eyes for messages and meaning that weren't conveyed through speech. It was a little like communicating with Jacob in wolf form. Alice couldn't say certain things to me. But, as usual, Alice's eyes told all. Alice was talking to me about who to invite, how may people we could reasonably expect to attend, how we were going to arrange the ceremony and reception. But her eyes said that she had been worried sick about me, said that she was sorry that she had hurt my feelings, and asked if I was alright and if I understood now. I tried responding without any gestures, or nods, or smiles. I tried my best to say, with my eyes, that I was fine now that I understood that this was an act. Alice nodded infinitesimally. I smiled and she continued. I remember wondering how I could've been so foolish. The expressiveness of Alice's eyes was one of the things I loved most about her. For me to forget to search her eyes for the real message was an enormous oversight.
When no one else was in the room, Alice allowed small amounts of physical contact. A brief embrace, a light brushing together of the hands, an imperceptible stroke of her finger against my cheek, a fleeting running of her fingers through my hair. But the non-verbal communication came in handy when others were present. Alice and I could communicate without the rest of my family ever realizing it. We could retain the status quo and still keep a tiny bit of the emotional bond we had had.
Our interaction was a little different right now, though, as Alice prepared me for my wedding. This required more extended physical contact than we had had in a while. It was both refreshing and a little nerve wracking. It was difficult for me to have this much physical contact with her after having not had it for a while.
At first, things felt very normal and fairly platonic. Alice was giving me a manicure. I was quite content to have Alice's nimble, dainty hands filing, and buffing, polishing away. It was nice, simple, safe contact with no complications. When my hands looked perfect, Alice sat cross-legged on the bathroom floor to work on my feet. This was equally safe and platonic, at first. I sighed, counting the tiles in Alice's shower, a little bored. Alice was concentrating on making me look perfect and wasn't feeling terribly verbose at the moment, so I had to find something to do to fill the void left by the lack of conversation.
I was fine until Alice leaned up to the counter to grab a bottle of nail polish. Her hair brushed my knee and I stiffened, images flashing along the back of my eyelids. I swallowed hard. If Alice noticed the slight quickening of my heart rate, she didn't say anything about it. She continued painting my toenails, making sure they looked flawless. She replaced the top and set the bottle back on the counter. Then she uncrossed her legs, and rose up on her knees. The chair was low enough that she was almost level with my face. I knew she was examining my face so she could get a sense of what she wanted to do with my makeup. To a passerby, everything would've looked completely innocent and I was sure that Alice hadn't meant anything by it either. But there was something about the way she was positioned, something in the way she held herself that reminded me of another time and place. I inhaled forcefully, and Alice's eyes flicked up to meet mine. I could tell she knew what I was thinking as her lips parted and her jaw went a little slack. I closed my eyes and turned my head as the memories flooded my brain...
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Alice's mouth met mine. I felt heady adrenaline begin coursing through my system. I had expected more of a protest from Alice, so her quick, zealous reaction had caught me off guard. There was a gentle, heavenly electric current running through my veins. Alice had been so cautious around me lately, so her sudden abandonment of that wariness was surprising and exciting. I was basking in this feeling. True, my elation was mixed with grief that I had to leave her. But I was, for the most part, happy for now. I was going to let things just happen without worrying about what was going to happen later. I was going to revel in the fact that I had the opportunity to - I felt myself blush as I thought the words - make love to Alice before I had to leave her. I grinned against her mouth at the thought and I felt her velvet, wintry lips smile back.
My left hand continued dancing along Alice's ribcage, where it had been before Alice's vision. I let my thumb skim the curve on the underside of Alice's breast before my hand skirted to Alice's sculpted collarbone and around to her tiny shoulder blade. I slowly brought my hand back to the front of Alice's ribcage. I was a little nervous about being too bold, or too hasty, or too clumsy in my actions. I was, after all, utterly inexperienced. As if she knew what I was thinking, Alice brought a hand up to my face, thumb stroking my cheekbone softly. I was reassured, remembering who I was with. This was Alice. Alice whose sole goal was to make me feel comfortable and loved. She would take care of me. I had nothing to worry about. I kissed her with greater fervor and moved my hand to cup her breast. Alice moaned softly into my mouth and I smiled at feeling that wind-chime voice vibrate against my lips. I kneaded her breast gently and I felt her sharp intake of breath. I was doing alright so far. I kept my hand where it was, enjoying the soft, cushioned weight of Alice's breast cupped in my hand.
I broke our kiss to come up for air, and kissed along Alice's delicate jawline all the way to her ear, before nibbling softly on her earlobe. Alice tilted her spiky head to one side, allowing me better access to her ear and slender neck, encouraging me. I nipped and nuzzled and kissed all the way down Alice's graceful, porcelain neck. When I reached where Alice's pulse point should've been, I heard her breath hitch. I'd forgotten that vampires were particularly sensitive about those. I was wondering if that was a mistake when I felt Alice's tiny hands slip into the back pockets of my jeans, yanking me closer to her, allowing my legs to wrap around her waist more tightly. Definitely not a mistake. I continued sucking at her pulse point, enjoying the feel of Alice's quickening breath fluttering in my hair. I wondered briefly why Alice wasn't taking action as much as I was. I was about to ask when Alice, who had obviously seen my question, answered.
"I'm following your lead, Bella," she explained, voice just a tad huskier than normal. "This is all under your control."
I nodded. Alice couldn't completely abandon the cautiousness she'd adopted around me in the past few weeks. She didn't want to take any sort of control for fear that she'd do something that made me uncomfortable. I was a little nervous about taking charge, but I shook it off quickly. I continued kissing Alice's neck until I reached the base, lips brushing her soft, cotton shirt. I took a deep breath, inhaling her comforting scent, before bringing my fingers to her collar, unbuttoning it. I kissed the milky, satiny skin that appeared. I inched down the line of buttons on Alice's shirt, kissing the few inches of skin that were revealed every time I unbuttoned a button. I kissed the base of her neck, her breast bone, the valley between her breasts, the space between her ribcage, her stomach just above and just below her navel. Her smooth, frigid skin felt wonderful against my warm lips. Alice's shirt soon fluttered open, like curtains rippling in a gentle breeze. She shrugged it off, revealing a simple, elegant, black satin bra. I admired the curve of her shoulders and the flawlessness of her skin. I leaned back in to kiss her and felt her hands tentatively touch the hem of my shirt. Alice wasn't sure whether to act or not. I placed my hands on her icy ones and guided them so that they tugged my shirt over my head.
I tossed the shirt on the floor. I leaned back, mouth still locked on hers, to lie on my side, keeping my legs clenched around her waist. I tugged Alice as close to me as I could, savoring the first few moments of skin-on-skin contact and the taste of her lips and tongue moving feverishly against mine. We stayed like this for a few minutes, just enjoying kissing each other and exploring newly exposed skin. Suddenly, on a whim, I took Alice's left hand, which had been meandering along my side, and dragged it to the button of my jeans. Alice paused for a minute, wary, and I whispered in her ear, "It's okay, Alice. I trust you. You're not going to upset me."
I kissed her tiny ear and Alice nimbly flicked the button open on my worn jeans. Alice turned gently so that I was on my back and she was now hovering over me. She curled her fingers in my belt loops, tugging downwards and I lifted my hips so that my jeans easily slid off. Alice let them drop to the floor, where they pooled in a heap of frayed denim. Alice stopped for a minute and I looked up to her bright amber eyes boring into mine. She smiled slowly and I giggled at her. She was starting to relax, starting to let go of that wariness and fear that had bound her for months. It would take a little more coaxing to get her to let go completely, but we were making progress.
I looped my arms around her back, and she planted her arms on either side of my neck. I dragged myself up to kiss the smile that graced her face and I felt it widen. My hands wandered down to the satin band that hugged Alice's back. I pulled away from her lips, locking eyes with her as my fingers reached the clasp of her bra. Alice just stared back as I pulled the two ends of satin so that they tightened at first, and then gave way. Alice's bra slipped down her shoulders and she sat up to remove it completely. I gasped. Everything about Alice was stunning, and her breasts were no exception. They were perfectly shaped, large enough to fill my hand, but not so large that they looked disproportionate. There was a halo of light cinnamon brown in the middle of her breast, at the center of which lay Alice's nipple, a beautiful, soft petal-pink. I sat up and kissed her yet again, softer this time, in awe of her. She was heartbreakingly beautiful- so much so that I was starting to feel a little cowed by it. I kissed her slowly and gently, bringing my hand up to cover her bare breast. Alice pulled back and sighed, whimpering a little as she did so.
"You're so warm," she breathed.
I smiled, pushing her gently so that she was now on her back. I hooked my fingers into the waistband of both her expensive gray jeans and her panties, looking at her for permission. She kissed me, raising her hips and I removed her last two articles of clothing. I sat on my knees at the foot of the bed, staring at Alice who was now completely naked. The moonlight was pouring in from my bedroom window and Alice's porcelain skin gleamed and shimmered lightly in the bright, silver light. I have a few memories like this one. Moments where I couldn't speak, couldn't move, could barely cry because I was too awestruck by something or someone. The first was the first time I saw the sun rise in Phoenix, when the world glowed in hues of pink and orange, and it seemed that the dusty desert stretched forever out into the horizon. The second was when I finally found Edward in Volterra, when I first set eyes on him after five black months of grief, shining like diamonds in the Italian sun. The third was the first time I saw snow, here in Forks, blanketing every surface in crystal ice and sparkling powder. The fourth was the first time I recognized Jacob in wolf form - his russet fur, his understanding brown eyes that I knew so well, and his aura of wild, rustic power and grace. The last one was this. Alice, lying naked and vulnerable on my bed, propped up on her elbows, skin shimmering like stars in the moonlight, and eyes shining with love so strong that it thickened the air between us so that I was sure I could reach out and touch it. I felt tears well up in my eyes. I whispered, "You're perfect."
Alice smiled sadly. "Far from it. But I'm glad you think so."
I smiled. "I do think so." I was so glad I had decided to let go and let this happen. To think that I could've missed this. The thought was heartbreaking.
I paused for a moment. I was still partly clothed, sitting in my cotton bra and panties. I was cowed by Alice. She was utterly flawless. I was afraid to undress completely because I could never compare to her. I would always look plain in comparison. Alice noticed my hesitance and leaned up, kissing me reassuringly. I felt her two icy, delicate hands situate themselves so that one was dancing along my back and the other was at my hip. With a quick, nimble flick of her wrist Alice removed my bra with one hand. I felt it slide down my upper arms and I briefly removed my arms from Alice's shoulders to toss it to my left. Alice gently pulled away from me, nudging me towards the foot of the bed. I felt her tiny fingers inch into the elastic hem of my panties and I understood. I briefly stood up, and Alice slid my purple cotton panties down my hips so that they fell to the carpet beneath my feet. I stood there, intimidated at being completely naked in front of one of the most devastatingly beautiful people I'd ever laid eyes on. I crossed my arms, covering my breasts in a moment of insecurity. Alice sighed, reaching out and placing a gentle hand on mine. She laced her fingers with my left hand and eased my arm away from its folded position in front of my chest. She did the same with my right hand, so that my arms dangled by my side. She was now holding both of my hands, thumb stroking the back of each one.
I saw Alice's amber eyes slide down my frame and back up. I shivered a little in nervousness and excitement. Alice locked eyes with me, whispering, "You are so beautiful." I was going to protest, was going to tell Alice to stop lying for my sake when I stopped. I couldn't because of the way Alice was looking at me. Alice's amber eyes were lit up with that silvery, loving sheen of hers. It stunned me. She really thought I was beautiful. There was no mistaking the look on her face and in her eyes. She wasn't telling me that to placate me. I felt tears well up in my eyes again. This was one of the few times in my life I had truly felt beautiful. Alice made me feel beautiful.
Alice's thin eyebrows arched worriedly. "Is something wrong? Why are you crying?" she questioned apprehensively.
I smiled through the tears. "Because I love you."
Alice's eyes shone like they would've if she were capable of tears. "I'm glad you do, even though I'm not sure why you do."
"Why?" I asked, laughing quietly. I leaned in, slipping my fingers in her dark, silky hair, kissing her so softly I could barely feel it. I put my free hand on her delicate shoulder, pressing back, so that Alice reclined on the bed. She slid up so that her spiky head rested on my pillow. I moved so that I was suspended above her. I kissed the corner of her mouth, her chin, along her cheekbones.
"Why do I love you?"
I kissed her nose, her forehead, the top of her spiky head.
"Because you risked your life to protect me from James in Phoenix when Edward couldn't."
I kissed her tiny, delicate ear, nipping her earlobe.
"Because you didn't listen to me and celebrated my birthday even when I asked you not to."
I kissed down her slender, graceful neck.
"Because you make sure I always have something pretty to wear because you know I can hardly dress myself and you want me to look appropriate."
Alice giggled at that one, and my lips felt it vibrate in her throat. My hands traveled down Alice's shoulders, tracing the elegant curve of them.
"Because I can always tell how you're feeling by the way the light reflects in your eyes."
Alice's perfect lips parted slightly, stunned a bit by my last statement. My hands trailed all the way down her sides, moving in a perfect hourglass pattern and she shivered.
"Because you always search the future to look out for me, to make sure I don't get in any trouble."
My hands danced around her sides to her soft, smooth stomach. I saw a little bit of that heat start creeping into her eyes.
"Because your hair tickles my neck when you hug me."
Alice grinned. I moved my hands so that they rested under her breasts, hands stretched in an L shape to follow the curve of her breasts. I heard Alice's breathing quicken a tiny bit.
"Because you let me take control to make sure I'm happy and comfortable."
I kissed her firmly on her velvet lips, thumbs brushing across her nipples. Alice whimpered into my mouth.
"Because you held and stroked my hand when it was broken."
I kept moving my thumbs in circles, feeling Alice's nipples harden. Impulsively, I nudged Alice's graceful legs open with my knee and slipped a thigh between them, adding gentle pressure. I could see Alice's stomach moving faster up and down as her breathing picked up.
"Because you told me you were in love with me, even though you were scared."
I moved my leg a bit, adding pressure, and then easing off, over and over. Alice closed her eyes, breathing heavier.
"Because you stay optimistic when others can't. Even when there's nothing positive to be said about a situation."
I took her nipples between my thumb and forefinger, rolling them. Alice bit her lip and moaned with her mouth closed tight.
"Because you slept on the couch with me that night because you know I can't sleep without a vampire anymore."
I kept my left hand on Alice's breast, and moved my right all the way down her left leg, from her thigh, to the bend of her knee, to her calf, and around her ankle.
"Because when you smile, I can't help but smile back."
I removed my thigh from between her legs and slid to lie down on top of her, left elbow on the mattress, propping me up so I could see her face. I shivered, that electric feeling returning as I realized that our breasts were touching. I inhaled slowly and deeply, my right hand moving from her ankle up her inner calf.
"Because you said you loved me before anyone else ever did."
My right hand slid up to her inner thigh, nudging her legs open again. Alice pulled her knees up a bit, so that her feet were flat against the mattress.
"Because you always respect my wishes."
I wasn't entirely sure what I was doing. I knew what I did when abstinence became a little much and I needed release. I decided to just mimic that and hope for the best. I slipped my middle finger into her folds, making a soft circle around the swollen bud just underneath. Alice gasped rather noisily and I bit my lip. Alice felt like wintry, liquid silk.
"Because you know how to make me feel better when I cry."
I made a few more circles, adding a little more pressure. Alice closed her eyes, tilting her head back and breathing heavily through her nose.
"Because I love the way you taste."
I leaned down and kissed her, lightening the pressure and then intensifying it again. When I pulled back I saw Alice's tiny hands clench around fistfuls of my sheets.
"Because you watched for my future when you were gone, even though you were told not to."
I sped up the circles I was making and Alice moaned for quite a few seconds behind her tightly closed, frosty pink lips. She was guarding her movements a little to make sure she didn't hit me. Unrestrained contact with me while she was in this vulnerable state would kill me.
"Because you waited with the phone in your hand every time my future disappeared."
I replaced my middle finger with the soft, strong pad of my thumb, using a finger to tease her opening before entering her. Alice's hips bucked once and her silver voice filled the room as she moaned loud enough to make me appreciate that Charlie was out of the house.
"Because you came back when no one else did."
I started sliding my fingers in and out, thumb still going in circles. Alice's hips started moving in rhythm with my hand.
"Because you didn't leave me once you were back."
I added a second finger and Alice started panting.
"Because you make me feel beautiful," I murmured. "Am I doing this right?" I questioned, blushing.
"God, yes," Alice breathed and I blushed further, feeling it burn in my cheeks. Alice opened her mouth to speak, heavy breathing punctuating her words. "Just...move your fingers...like...this.." Alice lifted her hand, curling her fingers in a come hither motion. Alice's hand went back to clutching the sheet.
I did as Alice asked. I replaced my right thumb with the fingers on my left hand. I turned my right hand so that the underside of my wrist was facing the ceiling and I curled my fingers up, towards me. As soon as I did so, Alice's feet slammed into the mattress as her knees pulled up and she yelped so loud it made me jump. I recovered quickly, and continued pumping my fingers as I had been doing, making sure to curl them as Alice had asked. Alice got pretty noisy after that, moaning and mewling so loudly it echoed in my tiny bedroom. At one point, when I leaned down to kiss her, feeling her voice vibrate against my lips, I heard something rip. I knew it was only a matter of time before Alice shredded my sheets. After a few minutes, I got a little worried. I wasn't experienced, but I knew enough to recognize that things should've been progressing a little more than they had. I wondered if it was something I was doing wrong when I looked at Alice's face. She was biting her lip so hard she would've bled if she were human, her eyes were clamped shut, and her forehead was wrinkled. I knew part of her stiffness was that she was trying not to hurt me. But, after a moment, I understood that part of it was that Alice still hadn't let go of that wariness enough to give herself over to me. She was still holding back.
"Alice," I whispered. "You're not letting go. You have to let go."
Alice shook her head. "But if I do, I might hurt you." Alice's wind-chime voice was breathy and faint.
"No, that's not what I meant. I didn't mean physically, Alice. You have to let go emotionally."
I waited for a minute, still moving my fingers back and forth, but I didn't see a change.
"Alice, you have to let go. Let yourself feel it. Let yourself love me, Alice. It's okay. No one can get mad at you for it. You're not going to hurt anyone. Let go, Alice. You want to know why I love you? I love you because you love me. You have to let yourself do just that. Just let go, Alice. It's okay. Let. Go."
Alice nodded and I felt her back start to arch and her hips moved faster.
"That's it," I murmured. "I love you, Alice."
As soon as those words left my mouth, Alice's knees jerked up almost to her shoulders, her back arched in to a c-shaped curve, her head snapped back so that it almost touched the space between her shoulder blades, her eyes clenched shut, her mouth hung open, and she cried out my name so loud it rang in my ears for a few minutes. I felt her contracting and releasing around my fingers and I relished the feeling. I kept pumping my fingers until the movement of her hips slowed. I waited until I thought she had calmed down enough and I kissed her slowly, withdrawing my now slick, freezing fingers. Alice unclenched her hands from my sheets and draped her willowy arms gently around my back. I felt one hand snake into my hair. I pulled back and rested my forehead against hers, looking into Alice's heated, slightly dazed, happy amber eyes. Her lips were still lightly resting against mine, whisper soft.
"I love you," she murmured, and I felt the words move against my lips, her breath breezing across my lips and into my mouth. I felt a mixture of joyful and melancholy tears run down my cheeks and drop onto hers. That was the first time she'd ever said that without being prompted first by me. It was the first time she'd been able to say it without being scared. It killed me that she only had tonight to express how she felt without having to censor herself. But for now I was going to be thankful that we had tonight at all. Jacob and I hadn't. I was grateful for the chance to feel and act openly before I had to cover up my grief for others' sakes. Alice said it again, reveling in the fact that she could do and say what she'd been aching to for so long. "I love you."
I smiled through my tears. "I know. By some miracle, you do," I chuckled softly.
Alice shook her spiky head at me. "It's no miracle, Bella."
"It is. I know you love me. I don't know why. I've never been able to figure it out. I can't understand what anybody sees in me, Alice. I don't get it."
Alice shook her head again. "You never have been able to see yourself clearly. I can't speak for others. But I can tell you exactly what I see in you. You told me why you love me. It's only fair for me to do the same for you."
Alice leaned up to kiss me. As soon as her wintry lips met mine, I felt gentle pressure on my left shoulder. I gave in to it and Alice turned us over so that my back was pressed into my downy quilt, Alice's cool, gentle weight on top of me. I felt Alice pull away and I opened my eyes seeing her delicate face suspended over mine. I couldn't help but smile at the way the moonlight hit her. She looked the same way she had that night she had told me she was in love with me for the first time. The light cast the same feathered halo as it drifted through her hair, created the same oblique shadows across her cheekbones as it shone through her eyelashes. The only difference was that now there was bright love and happiness in her eyes as opposed to misty sadness.
"I love you because you saw a family of vampires as people instead of monsters."
Alice's soft lips trailed from the corner of my mouth, along my jawline, to my ear. I felt my heart rate pick up just a little as Alice kissed my ear, carefully avoiding it with her sharp teeth. I felt her cool breath in my ear as she whispered, "I love you because you are so fearless you punched a werewolf in the face."
I couldn't help but laugh a little. I felt Alice's own giggling bubble in my ear, felt her stomach bounce on top of mine. I wrapped an arm around her waist, and draped the other between her shoulder blades, fingers moving to play with the soft, short hairs at the base of her neck. Alice moved back to my mouth, capturing my lips in yet another kiss. I tasted honey, snow, and silver moonlight again. Alice moved her lips, trailing in the same fashion to my other ear. I kept my fingers in her hair, still tasting her as her icy lips closed around my earlobe. I felt her breath in my other ear just as I had a minute ago.
"I love you because you asked Edward to apologize to me when it would've been easier for you not to."
Alice's mouth moved downwards from my ear to the area just below the curve of my jaw and I tilted my head, giving her access to my neck. It was a risky move to make around a vampire, but I trusted Alice. Alice kissed her way to my pulse point, freezing tongue darting out to lap at my skin for a split second. Alice then quickly moved away from my neck before my scent became too much for her. I felt her lips on my collarbone, close to my shoulder.
"I love you because you let me torture you with clothes and makeup because you know I love it."
I smiled and Alice began kissing her way down my arm. Occasionally I felt her tongue lap lightly against my skin. When Alice reached the bend of my elbow, she kissed the line of dried blood left from when I cut myself during the battle to distract Victoria and Riley.
"I love you because you're brave enough to sacrifice yourself to protect others."
I met Alice's amber eyes for a moment as she rested her head between the bend of my arm and my stomach. I ran my fingers through her silky hair, trailing my thumb across her cheekbone. She smiled at me and leaned down to kiss my lower arm. She lifted my hand to her lips, kissing along my knuckles. I gasped, shocked as she took two of my fingers in her perfect mouth. I could feel her silken tongue on my fingers and I felt the muscles in my arm tense excitedly. She sucked on my fingers very gently, making sure her teeth didn't nick my skin, before releasing them. She bit her lip and I realized that she could probably taste herself on my fingers. I felt a gentle pulse at the apex of my thighs, felt that electric current crackle in my nerve endings.
"I love you because you didn't disown me when I told you I was in love with you."
Alice kissed back up my arm, along my collarbone, and finally to my breastbone. Her hair tickled the curve above my breasts and I felt the customary tug in my chest that meant my heart was picking up speed.
"I love hearing your heartbeat," she whispered, pressing her tiny ear to my chest right above my heart. I felt her eyelashes brush my skin as she sat there for a minute, listening. She picked her head up, kissing my breastbone again. Alice then trailed her soft, icy lips between my breasts, her silky black hair brushing against them and I felt my breathing shallow just a little. She kissed the curve under my breasts, running her hands down my sides. I clenched my thighs together reflexively, trying to gain some pressure to relieve the quickening pulse between them.
"I love you because you worry about others so much that you ignore yourself."
Alice's velvet, icy lips kissed my breast, an inch away from my nipple and my hips rocked infinitesimally. Alice then moved to do the same to my other breast and I was forced to close my eyes and breathe deeply. I was stewing in my own anticipation, muscles pleasantly tense, gentle heat growing between my legs. I kept my eyes closed, waiting for Alice to act. I felt her kiss between my breasts again and I growled under my breath, mildly frustrated. Alice was teasing me.
"I love you because you kissed me yesterday when it would've been easier for you not to."
I squirmed a little, feeling the cool air that was Alice's breath on my right breast. I was about to say something to her when I felt her silken lips close around my nipple. I heard myself moan involuntarily and I felt my cheeks heat up as I blushed. My hips started rocking softly, searching for pressure as Alice's freezing tongue swirled around my nipple. I reached up, clenching my fingers in her hair, swallowing hard. Alice pulled away from my right breast and I gasped as the air hit my wet nipple and it pebbled, hardening enough that it was almost painful. Alice's mouth moved to my other breast and she whispered,
"I love you because you're the most trusting person I've ever met."
Alice's thumb moved in circles over my hardened right nipple, and I clenched my teeth before she moved to suck on the left one. My back arched automatically, pushing my breasts closer to her. It was almost too much sensation for me to handle. I was panting now, and I could feel a light film of sweat start to gather on my skin. I was surprised at how automatic and involuntary all of my reactions were. I wondered if I should be embarrassed by them, but Alice didn't seem to think it was a problem, so I didn't worry about it. Alice released my left nipple, using her left thumb to mimic the circles her right one was making. My head tilted back a little as Alice kissed down the middle of my stomach. I felt Alice's lips moving just above my navel.
"I love you because you're humble when you have no reason to be."
Alice's mouth kept moving south, veering to the left a little. She kissed my hipbone, removing her hands from my breasts. I clenched my thighs together again and felt them slide a little, slick with moisture. Alice then kissed her way down my left leg, hand sliding down my right to mimic the path made by her mouth. She kissed down my thigh, my knee, my shin and to my ankle. Alice's mouth moved to my inner ankle bone before she began kissing up the inside of my calf. I shivered. Just before Alice reached the bend of my knee, her dainty fingers wrapped around my ankles.
"I love you because you're one of the kindest people I know," she whispered, hair tickling my knee. Alice pushed gently on my ankles, sliding my feet up so that my knees bent and my feet were flat on my mattress, like hers had been earlier. I could barely breathe at this point. I was suddenly glad that Alice's skin was so cold. I could feel sweat already soaking my shredded sheets. Alice moved up to kiss the soft bend of my knee and my inner thigh. Then she placed two gentle hands on my inner thighs, exerting soft pressure. I drew a shaky breath and opened my legs further. I whimpered as Alice kissed the bend of my thigh. Then I felt Alice's lips kiss the mound at the apex of my thighs, and my head snapped forward, eyes locking with hers. I felt her breath caress my skin as she stared into my eyes and whispered, "I love you because you make me feel like I'm human. I love you because you make me feel alive."
I felt tears in my eyes again, and my head dropped back onto my pillow, eyes clenching shut and rolling back slightly as Alice's gentle, freezing tongue ran, flat, up the length of me. My hand automatically slipped into her silky hair, clenching into a fist. Alice's tongue circled the sensitive bud that had been softly pulsing earlier and I gasped forcefully, hips bucking involuntarily. I was slowly abandoning rational thought, slowly losing awareness. The only thing I could focus on was the movement of Alice's mouth and the only things running through my mind were fragmented thoughts and images of her. Alice's tongue flicked against that bud and I moaned, her face, lit by moonlight, flashing across my closed eyes. As Alice alternated between soft, strong circles and nimble, staccato flicks of her tongue, I was hearing the reasons she said she loved me, repeating like a broken record in my ears. I vaguely heard myself cry out as Alice's tongue moved down a little, lapping at my opening before she slipped a tiny, frosty finger in me. I felt my hips rocking violently as I saw her bright eyes and slow smile flash across my mind's eye. Alice started sucking softly on that little bud and I felt like my blood had been replaced with alka-seltzer. I heard Alice's laugh, like tinkling silver wind-chimes, echo in my ears as she curled her tiny finger, like she had told me to do, and pressed down on the space between my hip bones with the flat of her left hand. My hips started moving faster in response to the increase in sensation. I felt adrenaline tingling in my blood stream, and I felt like I had gone numb and like every nerve ending had suddenly become hyper-sensitive at the same time. I could feel it before it happened. I felt my back arching very slowly, felt my lungs steadily filling up as I inhaled, felt my muscles slowly tighten like a spring. It was like standing in the ocean, watching in anticipation as a wave reared up and gained height and speed, where you could almost feel it crash down on you before it even hit. As Alice sucked on me, tongue swirling around the little bud, as her curled fingers pumped faster, as her hand pressed harder on my stomach, I felt that wave rear up. I felt a surge of heavenly sensation rush between my legs as the wave crashed. I felt my knees jerk up, hips bucking. I heard rushing in my ears as well as fragmented snippets of the song Alice sang to me that night she told me she loved me. I couldn't hear anything I said, but I remember feeling the air in my lungs empty and I suspect I cried out the only thing that was on my mind - Alice. I felt like I was floating in the ocean, or maybe in space. I just remember that I had lost the sensation of gravity. I remember seeing Alice's face in my eyes as well as random flashes of color that looked like the Aurora Borealis ribboning across the back of my eyelids. It was like heaven, or paradise, or Nirvana. Something. Whatever it was, wherever I was, it was perfect.
I remember feeling Alice's silky hair brush against my knee and I was vaguely aware of a pair of icy lips on mine. When Alice's lips left mine I opened my eyes. She was smiling softly at me, index finger stroking my cheek. I smiled back for a minute, but it faltered. My vision clouded with tears. I saw Alice's smile fade as well.
"Bella, what's wrong?" she whispered, eyes misting.
I sniffed. "It's over. You're going to leave me now."
Alice nodded. "I will have to leave you soon. Everything ends, Bella. It's sad, but it's true. But, Bella, I don't have to leave right this moment."
I dragged a hand across my cheek, sweeping tears away. "You don't?"
Alice smiled sadly. "No, Bella. I don't have to leave quite yet."
I nodded. "How long do you have?"
"Till just before the sun comes up."
I sighed in relief. We had a little while yet. "Won't Edward and Jasper wonder where you are?"
Alice shrugged. "Let them. They've got the rest of eternity with us. They can handle one night by themselves."
I smiled slowly before craning up to kiss her again, and again, and again.
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I was fighting sleep, curled up against Alice's freezing, willowy frame. I had both of my arms looped around her waist, squeezing her to me in a vice-like grip. My head rested on her wintry shoulder as I yawned for the millionth time. I had been lying like this for about an hour and a half, talking to Alice before she had to leave. Alice kissed the top of my head and sighed.
"Bella, you have to go to sleep sometime."
I shook my head stubbornly, turning to look at her. "If I sleep I'll miss something. I don't have much longer with you. And I have a question."
Alice giggled. "Okay. Go ahead."
I was sure that Alice had already seen the question, but was doing me a courtesy by not reacting to it before I had asked it.
"Why do you want to help me with my wedding? Isn't it difficult for you?"
Alice sighed. "It's a good question. For one, I am a rather spectacular wedding planner..."
I swatted at her. "Be serious."
Alice grinned. "Sorry. I do enjoy doing it, no matter whose wedding it is. But mostly, it's the control aspect of it. If I can't marry you, then at least I have control over it. And I get to see you in your dress and everything before Edward does. That helps some. Does that bother you?" she asked, eyebrows arching.
I shook my head. "No. I don't really care enough about the ceremonial aspect of it for it to bother me."
Alice nodded. I sat for a minute before another question floated up into my mind.
"Hm?" she murmured, eyes closed.
"You said that if I chose Jacob that my future would've disappeared. Did you ever see anything for us? Did we have a future?"
Alice smiled sadly. "I saw one, when you kissed me yesterday."
My eyes widened in surprise. "What was it like? Were we happy?"
Alice sighed. "It was a difficult one. When we were together, just us, we were very happy, yes. It was others that made it difficult. Particularly Edward and Jasper. They didn't handle things well. They tried. We tried for awhile to make things work between us and still have a relationship with Edward and Jasper, but it didn't work. Things like that rarely do. Edward and Jasper left. That put a strain on the rest of the family. We were happy, but there was a cost."
I sighed. "There's a cost to this path, too. I have to leave you."
Alice nodded. "That's one of those lessons you have to learn. There's always a cost, Bella. There is no decision you make in life that won't have some kind of cost. So yes, the path we're choosing now has a cost. An equal one, emotionally. The outcome is just a little less messy than the other one."
"So you think we're making the right decision?" I questioned.
Alice nodded. "I do. It's just as painful, but a lot less destructive. So yes, it's the better choice."
I nodded, yawning again. Alice whispered in my ear.
"Bella, you should sleep. I have to leave soon anyway. It'll be easier on you if you're asleep when I do."
I fought tears, whispering, "It's not daylight yet."
Alice sighed, smiling mischievously. "It was the nightingale, and not the lark that pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear?"
I nodded, chuckling in spite of my tears. "Exactly."
Alice laughed softly back before her smile faded. She quoted a little more text from memory.
"It was the lark, the herald of the morn, no nightingale: look, love, what envious streaks do lace the severing clouds in yonder east."
I closed my eyes, listening to Alice's silver voice quoting some of my favorite text. I nodded.
"I know. I just don't want you to leave me. But it has to happen sometime."
Alice nodded, eyes misting over. "I'm sorry. But we decided this together. Have you changed your mind?" She looked at me worriedly.
I sighed, shaking my head, voice cracking. "No. It's just hard."
"I know," she whispered, kissing the top of my head.
I sighed, tracing lazy circles with my hand on Alice's hip, fighting the tears that threatened to spill over. Alice's quoting had gotten me thinking. Thinking about what Edward and Alice and Jacob were to me. I remember Jacob telling me that he was the natural path my life would've taken. But then what were Edward and Alice? I had decided that Edward was my fairy-tale. My happily ever-after. I had originally thought, as cliché as it sounded, that we were star-crossed lovers. But after Jacob and Alice, my relationship with Edward seemed easier. For the most part, Edward and my path fell together peacefully, without much fuss. Now, I felt like Alice and I fit the star-crossed lovers' description. Alice and my relationship was like a tragedy. We couldn't be together without causing an uproar. We couldn't have a relationship without it destroying our family. We had to be apart in order to keep everything together. I nodded to myself. This was the right choice to make. It hurt terribly, but it was the right one.
My eyelids were growing heavier, but I continued to fight sleep. Alice sighed again.
"Bella, you have to sleep. It'll be easier on you. Trust me."
I nodded, grudgingly accepting the fact that it was time for Alice to leave, feeling tears seep out of the corners of my eyes. I had one last request from Alice before she left.
"Alice? Will you sing that song again?"
I didn't have to explain which one I was talking about. Alice just nodded, taking a breath through her nose, and starting that delicate, melancholy melody I loved. There was no fighting sleep now. I let Alice's heartbreaking, glass-like song shimmer around me for the last time. I felt tears beading on Alice's skin as they fell from the corners of my eyes. Just before I fell asleep I felt her wintry lips on mine. She whispered "I love you," and I slipped under, letting sleep overtake me.
I couldn't tell if I was half-awake or dreaming when I heard hushed voices around me. I recognized the flute-like silvery one that was Alice's, and I smiled, realizing she was still here. Then I heard another voice, a lower, velvet one and I smiled wider. Edward was here, too. I assumed that I was dreaming since they were both here with me. I recognized each individual word they said, but I was too sleepy to understand what they meant together. I heard Edward's velvet voice.
"Alice, I was worried sick! I expected you to be here for a couple hours, not all night! I kept waiting for a call and never got one. Then I finally get a call at six in the morning! Then I come through that window, and I see in your mind what happened, and I can smell it in the room, and you expect me not to get angry?"
I frowned, recognizing anger in his tone. What was going on? I smiled when I heard Alice's calm, silver tone.
"I didn't say I didn't think you'd be angry. I only asked you to calm down enough to listen to me for a moment."
"Calm down? Why should I, Alice? I come through my fiancee's window and I smell sex in her room!"
"Are you finished?" Alice murmured, a little bite of anger creeping into her tone. I heard silence before Alice spoke again. "As always, Edward, I made sure that Bella took control of the situation. I'm not going to take advantage of her! I'm not like that damn dog, Edward. And I'm certainly not going to act of my own accord when I've got you to answer to. But more than that, look at her, Edward. Look at her face. What do you see there?"
I heard more silence. Alice spoke again. "I'll tell you what I see. I see someone who's not distracted anymore, Edward. She looks peaceful for once. She's not grinding her teeth, she's not tossing and turning, she's not talking in her sleep all the time. When was the last time you saw her sleep like this?"
No one spoke for a minute before Edward sighed, grudgingly answering.
"I haven't seen her look like that since before I left last fall."
"Exactly. She needed this, Edward. She had to let go of me before she could be with you. To be honest, she probably needed a similar experience with Jacob-"
I heard Edward growl lightly and Alice stopped in her tracks.
"The point is, Edward, she's emotionally whole now. She can be with you without getting sidetracked. She's really yours now. You can ask her yourself. She'd tell you the same thing. You don't have to like it, but I can tell you know it's true."
I heard another exasperated sigh. "Okay, she does look better, I'll give you that. Just give me some space, Alice. This is hard for me to swallow."
"I know. Don't be too angry with me. You get eternity with her. Can you blame me for wanting one night?"
I heard a pause before Edward spoke. "No. I would've done the same thing. And I'm trying to be understanding. Part of the reason I get so angry is because I miss you. I'm tired of everything being complicated. I just want my sister back."
I could hear in her voice that what Edward said had shocked Alice.
"I...I miss you, too. Give it some time. Things will die down. You can't get rid of me for too long." I heard a soft smile in her voice and I heard Edward chuckle softly. Alice's silver voice cut the silence one more time.
"We're going to wake her up if we keep talking. I need to leave now. She'll be upset if she wakes up and I'm still here. It'll be easier on her if she doesn't have to see me leave."
Edward whispered. "Okay. You can say goodbye to her before you go."
Alice didn't say anything. I knew I was dreaming when suddenly I felt cold lips on my temple and heard a silver, whispered "I love you" in my ear. I burrowed deeper into my quilt, smiling, the dream slipping away as I fell deeper into unconsciousness.
I remember waking up to something lightly scratching my wrist. I slowly opened my eyes, squinting as sunlight streamed through my window. I sat up, dressed in pajamas that I didn't remember putting on.
I smiled as Edward's velvet voice surrounded me. I turned to look at him, smile faltering as last night came flooding back into my brain. I didn't regret it. Not in the slightest. I was just worried about Edward's reaction. I bit my lip.
"Edward...I don't know how to say this-"
Edward shushed me gently. "Alice already explained the situation. You don't have to say a thing about it."
I nodded, thankful that I didn't have to break that news to him.
"Are you mad?"
Edward hesitated before speaking. "Well, I'm not thrilled, to be honest."
I nodded, swallowing hard. "Edward, I'm sorry. Just hear me out and then you can yell at me. I needed last night. I know I'm engaged to you and that it was uncalled for to do what I did. But I needed closure. I wasn't going to be okay, emotionally, to marry you otherwise. I don't regret what I did, for that very reason. I want to be able to give myself to you completely. I want to be whole for you. Last night had to happen for me to be whole. I'm sorry that I upset you. It's not going to happen again, so you don't have to worry about me being continuously...unfaithful. You have every right to be furious with me. You can say whatever you want to me now. I won't stop you. I probably deserve it."
Edward sighed. "I'm not going to yell at you, Bella. I understand the reasoning behind your decision. I'm not happy about it. Having said that, I'm not as upset as I could be since I know it's not going to happen again. I forgive you for it."
I nodded soberly. "Thank you. I love you."
Edward smiled softly. "I know. I love you, too."
I nodded once more before speaking. "I'll be right back. Human moment."
"Of course," Edward murmured.
I yawned, heading to the bathroom to brush my teeth and try and make sense of the tangled mess that was my hair. As I was trying to rip a brush through my hair, I felt that light, annoying scratching sensation against my wrist. I looked down to examine it and saw that a tiny, curled piece of white paper had been woven into the links of the bracelet that Jacob gave me, situated on the far left of the crystal heart and carved wolf that dangled there. I sat on the edge of the bathtub, carefully detangling the paper from the metal links. I felt something small and hard in the tiny scroll. I unrolled it, gasping as I found Alice's curling, whimsical script flowing across the page.
I didn't give this to you before I left last night because it would've upset you unnecessarily. You can choose to wear it or not. I have two of these. They were the only possessions I woke up with as a vampire. Jasper has one. Now you have the other. Jacob and Edward gave you gifts similar to this. I felt I should do the same. You may do with it what you wish. I love you.
I could barely read the last few lines of the tiny paper as tears began running down my cheeks. I saw something taped at the bottom of the paper. It had a clasp on it, so I could attach it to the bracelet like I had the wolf and the heart. It was a gorgeous round gem that I recognized as an opal. It had a sparkling, milky cast to it that was identical to the color of Alice's skin. When the light hit it, it sparkled with hues of silvery-blue, and I also saw some hints of pinkish-red. My favorite color that reflected in the gem was an amber that matched the color of Alice's eyes. At the end opposite the clasp, I saw a disc attached to the opal. It looked like it had been altered, probably by Alice, from something else. I squinted, trying to figure out what this little trinket had been in a past life. An earring, maybe? It didn't matter much. I could tell exactly what it was supposed to look like now. I laughed through my tears as I took in the foggy little orb sitting on its spindly disc. It was a crystal ball. It was the perfect representation of Alice. I immediately peeled the tape off the clasp and hooked it on the delicate silver bracelet circling my wrist. I admired all three charms as they lay on the inside of my wrist. The smooth, strong sparkling heart lay in the middle, with the rustic howling wolf on its right, and the delicate, shimmering crystal ball on its left.
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I was examining the delicate bracelet now as Alice and my mother fussed around me, straightening my veil, smoothing out my dress, making sure my hair was perfect. I vaguely heard Alice tell my mother that it was time for her to go downstairs and I saw Charlie leave the room to go and fetch my bouquet. Alice ducked briefly under my dress, dainty hand clutching my ankle, slipping her garter onto my leg. I was about to snap at her for doing that with other people in the room when I realized no one else was here. It had taken me a moment to realize I was alone with Alice. I stared into her eyes for a moment before she rushed at me, arms curling around my waist, hair tickling my neck like it always did. I squeezed back, hugging Alice with everything I had. I tried not to ruin my makeup with tears just yet. I missed her. I had been trying to find traits in Edward to replace her and I couldn't. I realized nothing could. Nothing could replace Alice, just like nothing could replace Jacob or Edward. Coming to terms with that had been tough. Coming to terms with the fact that there was no happily ever after without a serious cost had been equally hard. But as Alice and I stood there, enjoying a brief moment alone together, I was reassured that we were making the right choice. Alice was telling me that it was okay. That she wasn't going anywhere. That she would always be here, like this, to take care of me. That things were going to be alright. She pulled away, smiling that slow, sad smile I loved so, stroking my cheek once with her index finger. She moved away quickly as Charlie stepped back into the room. Charlie handed me the bouquet and my heart started racing with nerves. Alice led us to the Cullens' huge staircase. I vaguely heard her tell me that my cue was right after hers. I was starting to sweat as my nerves got the best of me. Just before she left, Alice looked back and locked eyes with me. I let out a sigh of relief, staring into her bright amber eyes, nerves melting away. She reached back and discreetly brushed a finger against the little opal on my bracelet, smiling. I smiled back, watching Alice's willowy frame dance gracefully down the staircase, and feeling safer knowing she'd always be close, watching out for me, presumably for the rest of eternity.
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