NEEDS

Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to the wonderful Stephenie Meyer, not me. *sigh*

A/N: Another reworked chapter from Eclipse. This starts after the events of "Ethics" - after Bella has finally said goodbye to Jacob. Given the lack of response to "The Kiss," I didn't bother posting that revision.

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

I didn't get very far before driving became dangerous. When I couldn't see anymore, I rolled slowly to a stop at the side of the road, then slumped back on the seat and allowed the weakness I'd fought in Jacob's room to overwhelm me.

But I wasn't alone for very long – just exactly long enough for Alice to see me here, and then the few minutes it took him to arrive. The door creaked open, and he pulled me into his arms.

He didn't say anything, just let me cry until I mumbled Charlie's name. "Are you really ready to go home?" he asked doubtfully.

I nodded. "I need to get past Charlie before it gets late enough for him to call Billy."

So he drove me home – for once not even getting close to my truck's internal speed limit – keeping one arm wrapped tightly around me while the sorrowful tears trickled slowly down my face.

"Wait for me upstairs," I mumbled when we were in front of the house. He hugged me closer for one minute, and then he was gone. Once inside, I headed straight for the stairs.

"Bella?" Charlie called after me from his usual place on the sofa as I walked by.

I turned to look at him without speaking. His eyes opened wide and he lurched to his feet. "What happened? Is Jacob worse?"

I shook my head. "He's fine," I promised. And Jacob was fine physically, which was all Charlie was worried about at the moment.

"But what happened?" He grabbed my shoulders, his eyes still anxious. "What happened to you?"

"Nothing, Dad. I . . . just had to talk to Jacob about . . . some things that were hard. I'm fine."

The anxiety calmed, and was replaced by disapproval. "Was this really the best time?" he asked.

"Probably not," I admitted, "but it just got to the point where . . . it had to be said. Sometimes there isn't any alternative."

He shook his head slowly. "How did he handle it?

I bit my lip and didn't answer.

He looked at my face for a minute, and then nodded. That must have been answer enough.

I could feel my control slipping. "I'll be in my room," I told him, shrugging out from beneath his hands.

"Okay," Charlie agreed. He could probably see the waterworks starting up again. Nothing scared Charlie worse than tears.

I made my way to my room. Once inside, I fought with the clasp on the bracelet Jacob had given me, trying to undo it with shaking fingers.

"No, Bella," Edward whispered, capturing my hands. "It's part of who you are." He pulled me into the cradle of his arms as the tears broke free again.

This longest of days had seemed to stretch on and on and on, until I'd wondered if it would ever end. But, though the night also threatened to drag relentlessly, it was not the worst night of my life. I took comfort from that. And Edward was with me; I wasn't alone – there was a great deal of comfort in that too.

One tiny corner of my mind worried that he would be so distracted by comforting me that he might not hear Charlie coming to check on me – my dad didn't know about Edward's nocturnal visits. But Charlie's fear of emotional outbursts kept him away, which was a relief.

Edward said little; he just held me on the bed and let me cry myself out, which took longer than I'd expected. When the tears finally stopped altogether, I lay quietly sniffling in Edward's arms. I touched his chest; his shirt was wet with saltwater.

"I ruined your shirt." My voice was hoarse; I cleared my throat.

He just shook his head. "That couldn't matter less."

"I know." I took a deep breath and looked up at him through swollen eyes. Then I gave a bitter, despairing little sigh, and shook my head. "I'm sorry you had to see this, Edward. I promised myself this morning that you wouldn't see me shed any more tears for Jacob. It isn't fair to you. "

He put one hand alongside my face. "Bella . . . are you sure? Did you make the right choice? I've never seen you in so much pain – " His voice broke on the last word.

But I'd known worse pain – much worse. The tears must have washed all the sense from my brain, for unthinkingly I said, "Because you weren't here." The next moment I would have bitten my tongue off to take the words back, but it was too late.

Of course he knew exactly what I was referring to. He grew very, very still. His eyes closed before I could read their expression, but pain drew lines at their corners. "I will never forgive myself, not if I live for a thousand years."

Cursing my careless stupidity – what was wrong with me? - I touched his cheek. "Edward, don't. Please. I'm sorry I said that. It doesn't matter. What matters is that I did make the right choice. I know who I want to be with – who I need to be with."

I kissed his tight lips. He opened his eyes; anguish still lurked in their amber depths.

I went on, "I have to be with you, Edward. It's the only way I can live." Then I pointed over his shoulder. "Hand me that book, will you?"

His eyebrows drew together as confusion momentarily replaced pain, but he gave it to me quickly. "This again?"

"I just wanted to find this one part I remembered . . . to see how she said it." I flipped through the book, finding the page I wanted easily. The corner was dog-eared from the many times I'd stopped there to read it. "Cathy's a monster, but there were a few things she got right."

I read the lines quietly, mostly to myself. "'If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.'"

I nodded, again to myself. "I know exactly what she means. And I know who I can't live without."

Edward took the book from my hands and flipped it across the room; it landed with a light thud on my desk. He wrapped his arms around my waist.

"Heathcliff had his moments too," he said. He didn't need the book to get it word-perfect. He pulled me closer and whispered, "'I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!'"

"Yes," I agreed quietly. "My point exactly." Before I could continue, he softly kissed my forehead.

"Bella," he murmured huskily. "You are my love -"

Another kiss, on my cheek.

"My light – "

A third kiss, beside my mouth.

"My life." His lips captured mine in an urgent kiss as he crushed me to him.

My heart stuttered, then pounded against my chest. The fatigue I'd been feeling vanished in an instant, replaced by the familiar heat that seemed to replace the blood in my veins whenever we kissed. It flowed through every part of me as his lips left mine and trailed kisses down my neck, into the hollow of my throat.

He gently rolled us over and lay above me, careful to keep most of his weight off me, still kissing my throat. One hand moved down my chest, so quickly it took me a moment to realize he was unbuttoning my blouse.

Before I had time to take more than one quick, surprised breath, his lips were travelling over my exposed skin while his cold hands slid beneath me, stroking the skin of my back.

"Take off your shirt," I whispered. I didn't know what had prompted his actions, but right then I didn't care. All of a sudden, I needed him too badly to even attempt to stop him.

He sat up. A second later, his shirt floated to the floor and then he was over me again, his marble chest not quite touching my skin. I ran my hands along his icy perfection, but then he began kissing me again, and one of his hands slipped from beneath me, cupping my breast. His thumb carefully passed over the tip, and a flame seemed to shoot through me.

I gasped, and he repeated the motion; I could feel my nipples tighten as the skin pebbled. His lips traveled from my mouth to my throat to my shoulders and back again, his fingers gently caressing every inch of my bare skin.

I realized that the sounds I was hearing were my own gasping breaths. Then he bent his head and kissed my breast. I felt his granite lips and then the cold sweep of his tongue over my nipple, again and again.

I made a soft, hoarse sound. He moved his attentions to the other side, until fire exploded through me. I convulsed, and in a flash his mouth returned to mine, trapping my involuntary cry before it could leave my lips – and possibly bring Charlie to investigate.

When I recovered my senses, I was wrapped in his arms, held against his chest, while he softly stroked my hair, pressing light kisses on my head.

"What was that all about?" I managed to ask several minutes later.

"Are you complaining?" I could hear the smile in his voice.

"Definitely not," I murmured, running my hand over his hard muscles. "Just curious." Suddenly I shivered, and he let go of me and sat up.

"You're cold."

He retrieved his shirt from the floor. I watched with regret as he put it on, but unfortunately he was right – I was cold. As much as I loved seeing and touching his bare chest and arms, sooner or later I had to wrap up against the chill.

Which is what he did now – grabbing the spare throw from the foot of my bed and swathing me in its warm folds, then re-settling himself on the bed and holding my cocooned form in his arms.

"So, what prompted that?" I repeated, and unexpectedly yawned. The emotional extremes of the day were taking their toll, and I was suddenly exhausted again. My eyelids drooped.

Edward tightened his arms around me. "I'm not really sure," he said finally. "Seeing you so distressed . . . it was unbearable . . . I had to do something . . . I hoped it would help, at least a little."

I smiled faintly. "Good instincts. Thank you." I yawned again and felt sleep overtaking me. The last thing I remember was his voice, whispering, "I love you."

When I woke up, there was no disorientation. I knew exactly where I was and what had occurred. I opened my eyes and met his concerned gaze. "Hey."

"How are you feeling?" There were shadows beneath his eyes, worried creases on his brow, lines bracketing his mouth.

I reached out and touched his face. "I'm fine," I promised. "That won't happen again."

His eyes tightened. "As long as you're sure, Bella."

I smiled. "Do we need to go into that again? I know what I want and what I need . . . and what I'm going to do now."

"What are we going to do now?"

My smile widened, just a bit, at his correction, and then I sighed. "We are going to go see Alice. After I shower."

When we drove up, about an hour later, Alice was on the bottom porch step, too hyper to wait for us inside. She looked about to break into a celebration dance, so excited was she about the news she knew I was there to deliver.

"Thank you, Bella!" she sang, springing up from her perch as we got out of the truck.

"Hold it, Alice," I warned her, lifting a hand to halt her glee. "I've got a few limitations for you."

"I know, I know, I know. I only have until August thirteenth at the latest, you have veto power on the guest list, and if I go overboard on anything, you'll never speak to me again."

I rolled my eyes. "I don't know why I bothered coming over. Okay, you know the rules, then."

"Don't worry, Bella, it will be perfect. Do you want to see your dress?"

I had to take a few deep breaths. Whatever makes her happy, I reminded myself. "Sure."

Alice's smile was smug.

"Um, Alice," I said, keeping the casual, unruffled tone in my voice. "When did you get me a dress?"

It probably wasn't much of a show. Edward squeezed my hand.

Alice led the way inside, heading for the stairs. "These things take time, Bella," she explained. Her tone seemed . . . evasive. "I mean, I wasn't sure things were going to turn out this way, but there was a distinct possibility. . . ."

"Uh-huh. When?" I repeated.

"Perrine Bruyere has a waiting list, you know," she said, defensive now. "Fabric masterpieces don't happen overnight. If I hadn't thought ahead, you'd be wearing something off the rack!" From her tone, you'd have thought there could be no greater disaster.

It didn't look as if I was going to get a straight answer. "Per – who?"

"He's not a major designer, Bella, so there's no need to throw a hissy fit. He's got promise, though, and he specializes in what I needed."

"I'm not throwing a fit," I said calmly.

"No, you're not." She eyed my face suspiciously; then, as we walked into her room, she turned on Edward. "You – out. You can't see the dress until the day of."

She shoved Edward back out the door. He didn't even look at her – his eyes were on me, anxious, afraid to leave me alone. I nodded, hoping my expression was tranquil enough to reassure him.

Alice shut the door in his face. "All right!" she muttered. "C'mon."

She grabbed my wrist and towed me to her closet – which was bigger than my bedroom – where a long white garment bag had a rack all to itself.

She unzipped the bag in one sweeping movement, and then slipped it carefully off the hanger. She took a step back, holding her hand out to the dress like a game show hostess.

"Well?" she asked breathlessly.

I appraised it for a long moment, playing with her a bit. Her expression grew worried. "Ah," I said finally, and I smiled, letting her relax. "I see."

"What do you think?" she demanded.

It was my Anne of Green Gables vision all over again. "Nineteen-eighteen?" I guessed.

"More or less," she nodded. "Some of it is my design: the train, the veil. . . ." She touched the white satin as she spoke. "The lace is vintage. Do you like it?"

"It's beautiful. It's just right for him."

"But is it just right for you?" she insisted.

I smiled. "Yes, I think it is, Alice. I think it's perfect I know you'll do a great job with this . . . if you can keep yourself in check."

She beamed.

"May I see your dress?" I asked.

She blinked, her face blank.

"Didn't you order your bridesmaid dress at the same time? I wouldn't want my maid of honor to wear something off the rack." I pretended to wince in horror.

She threw her arms around my waist. "Thank you, Bella!"

"How could you not see that one coming?" I teased, kissing her spiky hair. "Some psychic you are!"

Alice danced back, and her face was bright with fresh enthusiasm. "I've got so much to do! Go play with Edward. I have to get to work."

She dashed out of the room, yelling "Esme!" as she disappeared.

I followed at my own pace. Edward was waiting for me in the hallway, leaning against the wood-paneled wall. I noticed he'd used the time that I'd been occupied with Alice to change his clothes and, judging by his damp hair, to shower.

"That was very, very nice of you," he told me.

"She seems happy," I agreed.

He touched my face; his eyes – too dark, it had been so long since he'd left me – searched my expression minutely.

"Let's get out of here," he suddenly suggested. "Let's go to our meadow."

It sounded very appealing. "I guess I don't have to hide out anymore, do I?"

"No. The danger is behind us."

He was quiet, thoughtful, as he ran. The wind blew on my face, warmer now that the storm had really passed. The clouds covered the sky, the way they usually did.

The meadow was a peaceful, happy place today. Patches of summer daisies interrupted the grass with splashes of white and yellow. I lay back, ignoring the slight dampness of the ground, and looked for pictures in the clouds. They were too even, too smooth. No pictures, just a soft, gray blanket.

Edward lay next to me and held my hand. "August thirteenth?" he asked casually after a few minutes of comfortable silence.

"That gives me a month until my birthday. I didn't want to cut it too close."

He sighed. "Esme is three years older than Carlisle – technically. Did you know that?"

I shook my head.

"It hasn't made any difference to them."

My voice was serene, a counterpoint to his anxiety. "My age is not really that important. Edward, I'm ready. I've chosen my life – now I want to start living it."

He reached over and stroked my hair. "The guest list veto?"

"I don't care really, but I . . . " I hesitated, not wanting to explain this one. Best to get it over with. "I'm not sure if Alice would feel the need to invite . . . a few werewolves. I don't know if . . . Jake would feel like . . . like he should come. As if that's the right thing to do, or that I'd get my feelings hurt if he didn't. He shouldn't have to go through that."

Edward was quiet for a minute. I stared at the tips of the treetops, almost black against the light gray of the sky.

Suddenly Edward grabbed me around the waist and pulled me onto his chest. "Tell me why you're doing this, Bella. Why did you decide, now, to give Alice free reign?"

I repeated for him the conversation I'd had with Charlie last night before I'd gone to see Jacob . . . Charlie's request that I give him a chance to say goodbye before doing anything major, such as running off with Edward.

"It wouldn't be fair to keep Charlie out of this," I concluded. "And that means Renee and Phil. I might as well let Alice have her fun, too. Maybe it will make the whole thing easier for Charlie if he gets his proper goodbye. Even if he thinks it's much too early, I wouldn't want to cheat him out of the chance to walk me down the aisle."

I grimaced ruefully at the words, then took another deep breath. "At least my mom and dad and my friends will know the best part of my choice, the most I'm allowed to tell them. They'll know I chose you, and they'll know we're together. They'll know I'm happy, wherever I am. I think that's the best I can do for them."

Edward held my face, searching it for a brief time. "Deal's off," he said abruptly.

"What?" I gasped. "You're backing out? No!"

"I'm not backing out, Bella. I'll still keep my side of the bargain. But you're off the hook. Whatever you want, no strings attached."

"Why?"

"Bella, I see what you're doing. You're trying to make everyone else happy. And I don't care about anyone else's feelings. I only need you to be happy. Don't worry about breaking the news to Alice. I'll take care of it. I promise she won't make you feel guilty."

"But I – "

"No. We're doing this your way. Because my way doesn't work. I call you stubborn, but look at what I've done. I've clung with such idiotic obstinacy to my idea of what's best for you, and all it's done is hurt you. Hurt you so deeply, time and time again. I don't trust myself anymore. You can have happiness your way. My way is always wrong. So."

He shifted under me, squaring his shoulders. "We're doing it your way, Bella. Tonight. Today. The sooner the better. I'll speak to Carlisle. I was thinking that maybe if we gave you enough morphine, it wouldn't be so bad. It's worth a try." He gritted his teeth.

"Edward, no – "

He put a finger to my lips. "Don't worry, Bella, love. I haven't forgotten the rest of your demands."

His hands were in my hair, his lips moving softly – but very seriously – against mine, before I realized what he was saying.

What he was doing.

My heart gave an uneven thump. Already I couldn't breathe right. My hands were gripping his arms, pulling myself tighter to him, my mouth glued to his and answering every unspoken question his asked.

I tried to clear my head, to find a way to speak. He rolled gently, pressing me into the cool grass.

Oh, never mind! my less noble side exulted. My head was full of the sweetness of his breath.

No, no, no, I argued with myself. I shook my head, and his mouth moved to my neck, giving me a chance to breathe.

"Stop, Edward. Wait." Oh yeah, that was convincing.

"Why?" he whispered into the hollow of my throat.

I labored to put some resolve into my tone. "I don't want to do this now."

"Don't you?" he asked, a smile in his voice. He moved his lips back to mine and made speaking impossible. Heat coursed through my veins, burning where my skin touched his. I flashed back to that incredible night in his bedroom – was it only three nights ago? My body remembered in intimate detail, and was reacting as if the days in between had been mere hours . . . or minutes.

And then, of course, there was also last night. . . .

I made myself focus. It took a great deal of effort just to force my hands to free themselves from his hair, to move them to his chest. But I did it. And then I shoved against him, trying to push him away. I could not succeed, of course, but he responded as I knew he would.

He pulled back a few inches to look at me, and his eyes were black fire. They smoldered. "Why?" he asked again, his voice low and rough. "I love you. I want you. Right now."

The butterflies in my stomach flooded my throat. He took advantage of my speechlessness. "Edward, wait," I tried to say around his lips. "Please?"

He groaned, pulling away again. "Tell me why not, Bella," he demanded. "This had better not be about me."

Everything in my world was about him. What a silly thing to expect.

"It's just – " I took a deep breath to clear my head, and reached up, stroking his face. "The other night, in your bedroom, you were determined not to break this one human rule because it might damn your soul."

"Your soul," he corrected.

Either concept seemed ridiculous to me, but I didn't want to argue. "Both our souls, then. Why have you changed your mind?"

A bleak look crossed his face. "As I said before, I realized that my stubbornness regarding the way I thought your life should be has only caused you even greater pain. So arrogant," he whispered bitterly, "so positive I knew what was best – and it almost destroyed us both."

I couldn't bear to see his pain. I stroked his cheek soothingly with the backs of my fingers. "That's over and done with, Edward. We're together now, and that's all that matters."

Edward turned his head to kiss my fingers, then smiled his crooked smile down at me. "Yes. We're together now."

His eyes were once more smoldering, so I hurried before he could interrupt me again. "So, you're not worried anymore about our souls?"

His expression softened. He cupped my face in his hands. "After the other night, knowing now what it feels like to hold you – to be with you, like that – " He drew in a shuddering breath and softly kissed me. "I can't believe that those feelings can be wrong, not with you."

And of course he now had more confidence that it was possible to stay in control enough not to hurt me. Still, I hesitated. "Are you sure?"

"I am very, very sure, Bella. If it's what you want, of course."

I gazed deep into his darkened eyes, finding no hint of uncertainty. My breathing, which had slowed while we were talking, sped up again; my heart began racing. I couldn't speak, just pulled his face down to mine without another word.

I'd sort of thought - in the small amount of time I'd had for thinking about such things, before all my thoughts were consumed by the possible imminent death of people I loved – that after all our intimacies in Edward's bedroom the other night, the actual consummation wouldn't be such a big deal. After all, how much better could it possibly be?

But from the very beginning, there was a perceptible difference. Maybe it came from knowing that, this time, we wouldn't be stopping. And also, we were outside, in the daytime, however overcast the sky. That actually was a little inhibiting, to me.

At first.

But by the time Edward pulled my sweater off and laid it on the ground as protection against the dampness – by the time he unbuttoned my blouse and discarded it, an army could have marched through and I wouldn't have noticed.

Because I had already removed his shirt, and there was just enough light breaking through the clouds to make his skin glow. Not the dazzling, diamond-faceted brilliance induced by bright sun, but a subtle, shimmering gleam. His beauty, as always, took my breath away.

And also because he hadn't stopped kissing me - or only long enough for the sweater to make it over my head. His cold lips fastened onto mine again before it even hit the ground; and when he sat back on his legs and pulled me astride his lap to slip my blouse down my arms, his mouth only moved to my shoulders, my throat . . . the swell of my breasts.

My lacy bra vibrated to the thunderous hammering of my heart. His hair was silk under my clutching fingers, his lips warming against mine as I bent down to meet them. I felt the brief touch of his fingers, and then my bra floated to the ground, and he was nuzzling me, his hands slipping up and down my back.

His wintry tongue and lips caressed and teased, moving from one side to the other, making me gasp. I managed to slide one hand in between us to trace along his perfect chest, doing my own little bit of teasing with my thumb. A shiver rippled through him, and the next moment we were on the ground again, his body pressing into mine.

Then things grew a little chaotic, but a few details stood out, clear and bright: The moment when our last items of clothing disappeared – the expression in Edward's eyes as he gazed on me, the heat that flashed through me as every last inch of his pale, perfect body was revealed . . .

The feel of him expanding in my hands . . . the heavy weight, so rigid yet still soft to my touch, like silk . . . his shudders as I shly caressed him. . . .

His incomparable angel's face above me, and the tenderness of his kiss, in that final moment before our bodies meshed perfectly into one. Even the pain I'd anticipated didn't last long, fading into other, infinitely more pleasurable sensations as we moved together. . . .

Relaxing together, after, Edward's head resting on my chest, listening to my heart slow down; his hands lovingly stroking down my flushed body. The texture of his hair beneath my caressing fingers.

Suddenly he sat up. His nostrils flared and anxiety flashed across his face. "Bella, there's blood."

I shrugged, mildly embarrassed. "There probably is; isn't that supposed to be what happens?" Then I realized: Vampire. Blood. Oops. "Are you all right? Maybe you shouldn't breathe."

He was staring at the ground under my hips. "Is there supposed to be so much?"

"What?" I sat up too. To my surprise, there was quite a sizeable dark spot beneath me – and it was growing. I stared at it; should there be that much blood?

"Uh, I don't know," was all I could say. I forced myself to look away, and breathed through my mouth. Don't faint, don't faint, I chanted mentally.

"Bella, what did I do to you?" His face a mask of horror, Edward surged to his feet and began collecting our clothes.

"What?" I stared at him, confused, as he knelt beside me again and tugged my sweater back over my head, effectively cutting off all speech. Automatically I put my arms through the sleeves and pulled the hem down. He'd already pulled on his pants and was shrugging back into his shirt, his movements inhumanly quick. He found my jeans, slipped my feet into them, and began to draw them over my legs.

Then I felt a familiar sensation in my abdomen, and suddenly I knew what the problem was. I groaned and pulled my knees up, hiding my face in them. "Oh, no! It's too early! No, no, no!"

"Bella, we have to get you to Carlisle right away." Edward tried to tug my pants up, but my arms and face were blocking them.

"No, we don't," I groaned, still in hiding. "Crap, crap, crap! This is so embarrassing!"

"Bella – " His voice was frantic.

"Edward." Finally I looked at him, my face burning with mortification. "You didn't hurt me. I'm having my damned period!"

"Your – period?" He stared at me, then sagged with relief. "You're sure that's all it is?"

"Maybe not all," I muttered, "but that's what most of it is."

He collapsed on the ground with a thankful sigh. "But you're not due for three more days." He frowned thoughtfully. "I suppose the early onset could be due to all the stress you've been under lately."

I gawked at him. "You keep track of my periods?"

He hesitated, and then gave me an apologetic look. "I'm sorry. It was necessary in the beginning, because I needed to be extra vigilant on those days. Later – well, I suppose it just became habit." He shrugged.

Extra vigilant? Oh, right. Because of the blood – which meant he knew when I – which meant he must be able to . . . Oh, no. I hid my face again. "Is it possible to die of embarrassment?" I moaned.

Edward sat up and hugged me comfortingly. "Fortunately not, or most of us wouldn't make it to adulthood." He kissed the top of my head. "Come on, let's get you home."

I sighed in resignation and raised my head, avoiding his gaze. He slipped something into my hand. I looked down to see a handkerchief, neatly folded. "Edward, why do you even carry a handkerchief? It's not like you can catch a cold or anything." A silly question, but anything to avoid thinking about . . . other things.

He shrugged. "I carry a pocketknife too. It's all part of blending in with humans."

That made sense. I nodded. "Thank you. Now, please, I need a few minutes." This whole situation was humiliating enough without him watching.

I waited until he disappeared into the shadows of the trees, then located my underwear, which he'd overlooked, and quickly finished dressing, using his handkerchief as a makeshift pad. It would serve until I got home.

I glanced down at the stained ground, and sighed. I could count on my stupid human body to ruin just about everything, it seemed. Then I walked in the direction he'd taken. "Edward? I'm ready."

He met me before I'd gone more than a few steps. I loosely draped my arms around his waist and rested my head against his chest. His arms closed around me.

"I'm sorry," I sighed.

I felt his lips on my hair. "For what?" he murmured. "It's hardly your fault, Bella."

"Maybe not, but talk about a mood-killer," I said glumly.

He laughed softly, then tilted my head up and kissed me. His lips lingered for a long moment before he pulled away. "While I would have loved to spend the rest of the afternoon here with you, we couldn't have anyway. It's beginning to rain. I suppose we were lucky it didn't start earlier."

Sure enough, the rain started to drip through the clouds, a few scattered drops that made faint thuds as they struck the grass. Normally I would have been glowering at the sky for cutting short my time with Edward, but right now it was comforting to know we would have been leaving even without my body's bad timing.

"Let's go." He brushed tiny beads of water from my cheeks.

"Rain's not the problem now," I grumbled. "It just means that it's time to go do something that will be very unpleasant and possibly even highly dangerous."

His eyes widened in alarm.

"It's a good thing you're bulletproof," I sighed. "I'm going to need that ring. It's time to tell Charlie."

He laughed at the expression on my face. "Highly dangerous," he agreed. He laughed again and then reached into the pocket of his jeans. "But at least there's no need for a side trip."

He once again slid my ring into place on the third finger of my left hand.

Where it would stay – conceivably for the rest of eternity.

END OF CHAPTER

A/N: I'm not sure what prompted the whole period thing – I just wanted a reason why Renesmee couldn't have been conceived during this first encounter. *shrug*