A/N: Welcome back, lovely readers! Thanks for your support even though many of you are unhappy with Izzy's decisions. I treasure each and every one of you.

Love to my awesome prereaders, Keye and Sandy. These ladies are the best and help keep me afloat.

Huge thanks to my awesome betas, Katmom and Sue (chayasara), for wielding the sparkly reds. The remaining mistakes are mine . . . because I'm obstinate sometimes.

Chapter 21



Where I Stood ~ Missy Higgins

This Way ~ Hana Pestle

Gravity ~ Sara Bareilles

Elsewhere ~ Sarah McLachlan

Just Like You Said ~ SEAL

I am
So unsure
Every minute that waits
Every second I'm away
From you

And love
Is a way that
Has no rules
Know that I'm loving you
Even if it's
A fool that waits in vain
Waits in vain

Yesterday it hit me
That we were slipping away
Say if you can it's okay
Just like you said back then



It was week two of my sit-in. The wolves were used to the crazy vampire sitting at the border of their land. I'd become an adornment, the butt of some of their jokes.

My family members came to question my methods and sanity multiple times. Eventually, I played Zen statue; I didn't respond to anyone, just sat cross-legged with my spine ramrod straight and my eyes closed. There was only one thing that would bring me back to life—Izzy.

She hadn't left the Res or wandered anywhere near its borders. The Quileutes were careful not to think of her within mind-shot of me. They sang songs, recited rhymes, or thought about being intimate with their girls.

Jacob frequently came to the border and stared at me. He never spoke out loud, but he didn't try to mask his thoughts like the others. I received a glimpse of Izzy's speech about how much she valued truth above all else. My mistake was underestimating how much it would hurt her that I withheld the truth, no matter the reason. There were dark streaks under her eyes and a bone-weary slump to her shoulders. Despite all of that, a kernel of strength existed within, one that allowed her to deny me, mate or not.

I poured all my pain into a belief that Izzy would come around. I turned myself to stone, into the very statue I'd used to punish her. The longer I went without feeding, the easier it became to turn within. And I wouldn't feed again until Izzy was back in my arms. If that meant becoming a shell of myself, the crazy vampire made of stone at the border of enemy land, then so be it.

Only one thing cracked my façade—Paul.

He never dared to come to the border in his human form. Slinking by as a wolf, he let me see Izzy in his thoughts. See her break down. See her sleeping in his arms. Hear her calling out my name in her sleep. I couldn't fault him for anything. He held her while she slept, allowed her to cry on his shoulder, jammed his feelings for her deep inside, and even defended me. Paul was conflicted at a deep level. He truly loved Izzy and wanted what was best for her—even if that was "a blood sucking fucking vampire that broke her heart."

I kept my eyes closed, but I parted my lips for the first time since beginning the sit-in and spoke. "Paul, thank you. This must be extremely difficult for you. I want you to know your efforts are appreciated."

I'm not doing it for you, bloodsucker! For her. Everything is for her.

"Understood. I know you love her, too."


He slunk away into the woods. It seemed the only time he was in human form lately was when he arrived at the door of the cabin where Izzy was staying.

I'd settled back into my cocoon of indifference when the sound of an unfamiliar engine drew closer. Not many cars came up the road to the Res. The Quileutes did most of their traveling on four paws or on motorcycles, but this was the soft purr of a very expensive SUV. As it approached the border, the driver slammed on the brakes and the window hummed, descending.


I supposed it was no use playing possum. It might attract undue suspicion, and that could be dangerous for an outsider.

"Jack." I nodded calmly. Inside me, jealousy reared its snarling head.

He pulled the car to the side and stepped out, his long legs clad in tight black jeans. He wore his signature black leather jacket, and his "bag of tricks" rested on the passenger seat.

I fought back the growl that vibrated through my chest. If Jack was here, it meant Izzy contacted him. His hands had been all over my mate. As painful as it was to admit, he provided something she needed, something I couldn't give her. Izzy might be craving direction about now.

His black boots crunched on the dried grass and leaves as he sauntered onto the side of the road. I rose to my feet, unable to have Izzy's former Dom looking down at me, not now when my position was so precarious.

"What's going on?" Jack examined me closely. He wasn't being casual; he meant his question literally.

"Izzy left me."

"Yeah, I gathered that when I received her call. She was a blubbering mess, Edward. I haven't seen her like that since . . . well, since that first night I came upon her at the bar in Port Angeles."

I cringed inwardly, remembering that night. I'd listened to Izzy's first session with Jack from the lobby of the hotel, listened to her say goodbye to me.

"She's that bad?" You know she is, Edward. She's your mate and in as much pain as you are.

"That bad. Don't you know? Haven't you seen it for yourself?"

"No. I haven't seen her for two weeks. Not since she . . . ended things."

"Edward, man, you look like shit. How long have you been out here?"

"Essentially, since she left."

"When's the last time you had a proper meal?"

"Don't remember." Actually, it was twenty-three days and counting.

"What the hell did you do that she left?" Jack's brows drew together. Although his mind wasn't completely transparent to me, his discomfort over the situation was. He was only here because he cared for Izzy and feared she'd do something stupid.

"I lied to her."

"Did you fucking cheat on her?" Jack took a step closer, bunching his fists. Brave man.

"Never." Just the opposite—I saved myself for her.


"No. I held back information that I didn't think she was ready to hear, and she values truth above all else."

"She'll come around."

"I'm not so sure."

He leaned forward and clasped my arm. "I'm rooting for you both, Edward. I'm not . . . I don't want to be here under these circumstances. I . . ." Jack shook his head.

"You don't have to say anything, Jack. You've been good to her—to us."

"Take care of yourself, okay?"

"I won't. Not unless she comes back to me." I shook my head sadly. It was as close to the truth as he would get.

Jack's mouth was set in a grim line. He nodded, hopping back into the big black SUV and driving onto the Res.

Sinking to the ground, I became stone once again. I studiously pushed thoughts of Jack and what he might be doing with Izzy from my mind. I had no choice if I wanted to live long enough to get her back.


The sound of a car door closing jerked me out of my trance. I'd been staring at the flickering flames in the fireplace, trying not to think, to simply drift. I sucked at it.

I pulled open the front door as Jack was striding up the steps. The handle of the black leather duffel with his equipment was gripped tightly in his right hand. His left arm reached around behind me and pulled me up against him hard enough that my lungs expelled their air.

"Damn it, Izzy," he muttered.

I remained stiff in his embrace. The level of comfort I'd previously reached around Jack had ceased, and once again, I was the troubled girl who needed to be guided. It took a great deal of suffering with no end in sight to get me to grit my teeth and give in, calling Jack and begging him like a pussy to come and "handle" me. I resented my weakness.

"Thank you for coming."

At first he'd flatly refused.

Two days later, he'd called back and said he'd visit me but made no promises. I fully expected him to reject me once he understood what I needed from him, but I had to try.

I attempted to pull away, but he dropped his bag with a thump and grabbed my arms in a vise-like hold. "I don't need to ask how you are—the dark circles and glazed look in your eyes speak volumes."

"Thank you, Captain Obvious." I glared up at him for a moment before twisting out of his grasp and stalking across the room to light a cigarette.

After taking a strong pull off my cig, I glanced over at Jack. He leaned up against the wall with his ankles crossed, smirking at me. He shook his head. "Same old Izzy. Same smart mouth." Jack strolled casually across the room until he was standing before me. He plucked the cigarette from my hand and stubbed it out in the ashtray then wrapped his hand around my neck, looking down at me with ice in his gaze. "Same need to be controlled, hmm?"

Something inside me awakened, anticipation uncurling. My inner feline stretched her back and licked her clawless paws, purring at Jack. With everyone else, I was in control. With him I was able to hand over the reins in perfect trust.

His fingers opened and his hand dropped back to his side. With a sigh of relief, I dropped to my knees and lowered my head in a submissive pose. For the first time in the past two weeks, I took full breaths into my neglected lungs. The pain of my loss wasn't far away, and it still felt like shards of glass were embedded in my lungs, throat, and nose. The ability to hand the burden of my actions over to another was as close to bliss as I expected I'd ever get.

Jack placed his palm over my crown, and the feeling was reminiscent of a priest absolving the sins of the aggrieved. "Rise now, doll. We need to talk."

"Yes, Sir." I rose to my feet, keeping my head bent and eyes lowered.

I followed Jack to the couch. He sat and I awaited his instructions. The ghost of his touch still tingled over my scalp, resting upon it like a comforting weight.

"Sit," he commanded and I eagerly complied. "You may look at me and speak freely."

Our eyes met. Jack was obviously confounded by this turn of events. He would be even more confounded when I explained what I needed from him.

"You called me here. You've fallen into submission with me. Explain."

"I respectfully request your services as my Dom, Sir."

"Request denied."

"Please . . . I need you."

"And your other Dom?" he asked brusquely.

"That relationship has been severed."

"By whom?"


"Is that so?" Anger sparked in the brown depths of his eyes.

"He did things I found unacceptable, so technically, I ended it."

"Ah, I see." Jack nodded then his keen gaze met mine again. "And you expect me to resume where we left off?"

"No, Sir."

His eyebrows raised in surprise. "What then, doll?"

"I need you . . . to have sessions with you. I want you to control me. Punish me." I faltered.

"Sounds like before to me."

"I can't . . . have sex with you." The carvings on the coffee table suddenly seemed much safer to look at than Jack's frosty gaze.

My revelation was met with a silence that grew from seconds into minutes. I stared so hard at the grooves in the wood they blurred and then became so razor sharp I could see splinters sticking up from the grain. My heart pounded behind my ribs.

Jack rose suddenly and stalked back and forth in front of the hearth. "Do you know what you're asking of me? I'm a Dom, not some twisted version of a sex therapist! A Dom/sub relationship is a give and take between partners. Trust is built and nurtured, and the needs of both are met. Now, I know our relationship has never followed the traditional, but this?"


"Absolutely not. It's insane! I never should have taken you on in the first place. Edward was there from the first day, haunted by you, too addicted to leave no matter how you behaved."

Pain lanced into my heart. "Don't say . . . his name. Please."

"What's this really about?" Jack pulled me up off the couch, his fingers biting painfully into my skin. "You know how much I care for you, but what the fuck are you asking me to do?"

Guilt shot through me, and my head drooped.

"Look at me. You called me here, and you will give me the courtesy of an answer. Now."

My eyes met Jack's again. "This is what I crave—you being in control. You're the only one I trust now to do this for me. You know it's my release valve!" His expression was dubious. "Please! I want to . . . to serve you. I'll wait on you hand and foot. Polish your boots. Take dictation. Make you dinner. You can spank me or make me hold the same position for hours—whatever you see fit. Just . . . no sexual contact."

Jack's eyes closed, and he shook his head slowly. "Do you realize how depraved this sounds? It's bizarre and disturbing on so many levels."

He sat me back down and stalked out the front door. His boots scraped against the rough wood of the front porch as he paced back and forth, muttering and cursing. When the pacing ceased, there was a loud bang that shook the front door in its frame before it was flung open.

"Damn you, Izzy Black." Jack glared at me and scrubbed a hand over his face. "I'm pretty sure I'm going to regret this . . . but, yes, we can try. No promises, and if it doesn't work, we stop immediately."

"Yes, Sir." A genuine smile spread across my face. Surprised your face didn't crack, my inner banshee, silent for the past two weeks, chimed in.

Jack sighed, sitting beside me again.

"Beer, Sir?"

"Quit the 'Sir' shit. We're not having a session right now. I really need to wrap my head around this. Only you could come up with something so fucking bizarre." He ran a hand through his dark, wavy hair. "A beer would be great."

Jack threw a few more logs on the fire while I rounded up the beer. He slung an arm over my shoulders, and we sat close together with our feet on the coffee table, a comfortable silence between us now that business was out of the way. I knew Jack could be trusted because he genuinely cared about me. He had no romantic feelings, which removed the possibility of hurting him.

"So . . . what happened between you two?" Jack broke the silence and leaned forward, placing the empty beer bottle on the table.

"He lied to me . . . about things I feel are important."

"Why did he do it?"

"Because he's a coward."

"A coward. Did he cheat on you and try to hide it?"

"No!" My tone was scathing. "Edward would never cheat."

"What's he afraid of then?"

"Losing me," I whispered. A strange, unfamiliar feeling roiled in my belly.

"Speak up, Izzy."

"Losing me."

"Why was he afraid he'd lose you?"

The feeling inside me intensified until it was replaced by a burning anger. Whatever that sensation was, it was an unwelcome intruder peeling away bits of my resolve. "He kept his past from me, some important things. And he took me to Rio because he knew his ex-girlfriend was coming to visit and he didn't want us to meet."

Jack tilted his head to the side. "What an evil guy, whisking you away to Rio. Since you say he's not cheating, I assume he was protecting you by avoiding his ex. Is he a mass murderer or something? What did he do in his past that was a deal breaker for a relationship in the present?"

Annoyance spread through me. "Jack! Fucking stop, okay? You're making light of this, making it sound as if Edward is some fucking angel. He's not. He hurt me."

"And you've always been perfect? You've never done anything to hurt him?"

"Not on purpose, no."

"Oh, so Edward purposely set out to hurt you? That doesn't sound like the protective boyfriend who was willing to allow you to have dalliances with other men while he waited on the sidelines for you to grow the fuck up." Jack's tone was acerbic, and his words cut deep.

"Jack, that's so unfair!" I shot to my feet and stalked over to the fridge to grab another beer. My face burned with indignation. Jack had essentially broken down the issues between Edward and me in an arbitrary way that left me feeling off-balance.

"Why so defensive . . . unless you think you overreacted? You're both suffering, so why not make an effort to end the torment?"

"Suffering? Edward hasn't even tried to get in touch with me!" It was the first time I'd admitted it to anyone. Edward hadn't even called my cell phone. Jasper, Alice, and Emmett had called, but I didn't answer and no messages were left. There wasn't one call from Edward.

Jack stalked around the side of the couch and grabbed me by the arms. For sure I'd have bruises tomorrow. "Wake the fuck up, princess! You think Edward hasn't tried to reach you? Why the fuck do you think he's been hanging around the entrance of the Res for the past two weeks? He looks like shit—wrinkled clothes, haunted eyes with dark circles, and his hair looks like he's been pulling and tugging at it incessantly."

"What?" My mouth gaped open. Edward had been that close to me for the past two weeks? If that was true, Jake and Paul had purposely held back this information.

"You didn't know?"

"I've been holed up here." I crossed my arms and pouted up at him. "I've barely left the cabin, and I haven't been off the Res at all."

Jack's eyes softened, and he tipped my chin up with two fingers. "I don't know what went on between you two, but I do know that he loves you more than anything. And I know you love him just as much. Think about it, Izzy. Think hard."

I walked Jack to the door after arranging a session for the next day. He shook his head and mumbled, "What was I thinking?" on his way out.

Even though I knew Edward loved me, the past two weeks were hell not hearing from him. The cliché of telling a man it was over and being upset he didn't chase me like a lovesick fool prickled my sense of irony and left me feeling even more pathetic.

After Jack was gone, I paced the floor, smoked a few cigarettes, and downed a few glasses of JD. When I could stand it no longer, I took a shower. I smoothed my hair into a silken fall, covered my under-eye circles, carefully applied my makeup, and put on my sluttiest outfit. No reason to be seen not looking my best.

For the first time in two weeks, I left the safety of the cabin and trudged into the woods. The sun was just sinking below the horizon, the sky streaked with pink, gold, and purple, and the cool breeze soothed my hot cheeks. I hiked to the border of the Res, hoping by the time I arrived there, I'd have some idea of what to do.

I didn't. And if I had, the sight of Edward would have erased it as surely as a strong magnet would destroy a hard drive.

My heart was in my throat and its beat pounded in my temples. Edward sat cross-legged, just over the border of the treaty line. His black jeans and plum T-shirt were rumpled, his hair tousled beyond hope, and purplish crescents that resembled bruises marred the skin beneath his closed eyes. What never changed were his perfectly chiseled features.

He was beautiful. Always so beautiful and breathtaking.

His pose reminded me of the punishment he'd meted out as my Dom, and panic welled inside me. Would he play possum if I spoke to him? Ignore me even though I knew damn well he could hear me?

Fuck that.

I turned away and started back toward the cabin.

"Izzy." Edward's voice was low and hoarse. My name, said in his angel's voice, held more emotion than any impassioned speech ever could. His pain was there; my pain was there. Our collective agony mingled between us.

I stopped, my boots kicking up a small dust-cloud of silt, but didn't face him. The very sound of his voice slayed me. The knowledge that he was a few yards away burned inside me. For the first time since I'd left him, my pain was purely emotional, not physiological, my numbness peeling away like a layer of skin, leaving rawness in its wake. Could it be my proximity to him that soothed my exposed nerves at the same time it clawed into my heart? The thought angered me because it led back to the crux of the matter: I was his mate and had to learn it from his ex.

"What the fuck are you doing out here?" My tone was harsh.


"For what?"


My heart sped, and my veins burned with need. Every cell of my being stood at attention and leaned in his direction as if magnetized. The urge to occupy the same space he did was overwhelming.

It was a struggle, but I took two more steps toward the cabin.

Edward moaned, a deep, involuntary cry of pain that came from his soul.

The sound stopped me in my tracks. My body betrayed me by following my inner compass, and Edward was true north.

Before I realized it, I was straddling the treaty line. Edward rose fluidly to his feet and approached with caution. The closer he came to me, the closer I was drawn to the abyss. His eyes begged my forgiveness, and it took every bit of strength I had left to stem the urge to throw myself into his arms.

Sam's voice interrupted the moment. "Cullen, you seem determined to poke a stick in a hornet's nest."

Edward's jaw tightened, but he never took his eyes from mine. "There's been no violation, Sam."

"Yet. But I must reiterate what I told you before—if you step on my land again, you're a dead man. No second chances."

I turned my head sharply to the right. Sam stood by the edge of the trees in a pair of loose fitting shorts, with his fists clenched and muscles trembling. I could see in his eyes that he'd like nothing better than an excuse to go after Edward. "He came over the treaty line?"

Sam nodded shortly.

"When? Why wasn't I told?"

"The day you arrived. We're not obligated to discuss Quileute business with you, Izzy. You came here for sanctuary, and it was granted. If you're not happy with the way we do things, you know the way out."

My mouth dropped open. Sam and I were far from close, but he'd never been openly hostile to me before.

Edward growled, taking another step forward. "Don't speak to her that way."

Sam's face twisted in a sneer. "One more inch, bloodsucker. Come on!" He beat his fists against his chest and his nostrils flared.

"Stop it! Just stop it! Don't you touch him." I glared at Sam.

"Make up your mind, sweetheart." He laughed, and then his expression turned cold. "If one of his toes lands on the treaty line, his ass is mine. No exceptions—not even for you."

Edward's hands curled into fists, and the rumbling in his chest erupted into a feral snarl. His body was as taut as a bowstring, poised for confrontation, and I knew he was seconds away from challenging Sam.

I stepped over the border, bringing me within two feet of Edward. My insides trembled as my breath was stolen away. I gazed into his eyes; his irises were onyx with vague swirls of burnished gold. His hands twitched toward me, but he restrained himself from touching. His eyes spoke to my soul; every need, desire, and sorrow was embedded in his fathomless gaze, and every part of me yearned to answer the call of my mate.

Once I was firmly over the border, Sam phased and took off into the woods, leaving Edward and me alone.

"You went over the treaty line?" I asked. Edward simply nodded. "Why would you do something so . . . so crazy?"

"You know why," he said softly.

"But you had to know they would stop you. You could have been slaughtered!"

"I wasn't thinking rationally."

"And you are now?"

"As well as I'm able." He took a step closer, the pain in his eyes palpable. There were now only inches between us. He lifted his hand, caressing the air beside my cheek, causing a tingling trail to erupt over my skin, but he didn't touch me.

I closed my eyes. "Why are you doing this? It's obvious you haven't . . . fed in a while."

"And I'm not going to," he said matter-of-factly.

"Why?" I asked, incredulous.

"You still don't understand me, do you?" he murmured. Edward still hadn't touched me, but he may as well have wrapped me in his arms. My entire body sizzled and sang like a live wire. His cheek hovered beside mine, those delicious lips mere centimeters away from my ear. "You're my only reason for existing. There's nothing tethering me to this world but you. If it takes the rest of your human life, I will remain here . . . waiting."

His cool breath tickled against my ear, and I longed for him to touch me. "Without feeding? That's crazy."

"I've made my peace with crazy." He gazed down into my eyes, and my body hummed with his invisible touch, the strands that bound us together tightening around me. "Will you give me a chance to explain myself? Please, Izzy . . . if I ever meant anything to you at all, let me talk to you."

My façade crumbled bit by bit under his scorching stare. Dizzy from the intensity of his presence, I swayed on my feet and he caught me in his arms. One wrapped around my waist, his other hand cradling the back of my head.

Edward nudged his nose along mine, his lips hovering a hair's breadth away from my own.

"Edward . . ."

"Shh . . . please don't. I love you so much." The pure desperation in his tone kept me from rejecting his tormented words.

His lips came down on mine, and he pulled me in tighter. I'd missed the cool hardness of his marble body, oh so much. His lips parted, swallowing my sobs as I melted against him and grabbed his T-shirt in my fists. The taste of him would always be my drug of choice. I decided to hate myself later, but right then I needed to feel the contours of his body, his lips molding to mine. And when his tongue swept into my mouth, I welcomed it eagerly and matched him stroke for stroke.

One of his hands slid up the back of my thigh, caressing my ass through the silky panties, while the fingers of his other tangled in my hair. My insides ignited when he ground his hips into me, his hardness insistent against my stomach.

Edward moaned, tilting his head to deepen the kiss. He took possession of my mouth, my body, and yes, even my black heart. My resolve and determination of the past two weeks unraveled in seconds, the carefully constructed façade shattering to pieces.

Cool air rushed over my pussy as he tore my panties off, and then his fingers were buried inside me.

"Mmph!" I tried to pull back, but when Edward held fast, his tongue continuing its aggressive exploration of my mouth, I ceased fighting.

He picked me up and turned us around, pressing me against the nearest tree. His cool fingers slid from my slickness and skimmed under my shirt, using the moisture from between my legs to tease at my nipples. I allowed my hands to glide up over his shoulders to grip his hair—just as soft as I remembered—and I ground my bareness against the roughness of his jeans.

Edward kissed across my jaw to the side of my neck then stopped abruptly, cursing as he buried his head in the crook of my shoulder. My fingers tightened convulsively in his hair.

"Why are you stopping?" I asked breathlessly.

"This is wrong. I'm not going to fuck you against the side of a tree."

"I don't mind where we are."

Edward stepped back, setting me on my feet and smoothing my short skirt down over my hips. He cupped my face between his cool hands and gazed down at me with a mixture of heat and anguish in his eyes. I clamped my fingers over his wrists, and looked up at him, trepidation filling me.

"Izzy, this doesn't resolve anything. What happens after?"

"Don't you want me?"

"How can you ask me that? I love you beyond reason. I won't be your boy toy, though." He shook his head. "It's all or nothing for me. If we ever make love again, it will be because you've come home to me." There was no cruelty in his voice, just an impassioned plea for understanding.

I gaped at him, my heart pounding in my chest, the words that would bring us back together on the tip of my tongue. "Edward . . . I . . . I can't!" A plaintive sob ripped from me, and I tried to pull away, but he refused to let go of my face.

"Izzy, please let me explain why I lied to you, and then I'll let you go if it's what you want."

My feelings were gaping and raw. There was no sign of my power now, and even if there were, I didn't think I could bear to use it on him. "Okay, talk." Being this close to him, being held by him, was heaven and hell at the same time. The desire to push him away and pull him close warred within me.

"You've come such a long way since we met, but you can't forget how damaged you were—what we had to get through before you could even admit that you loved me. The drugs, the alcohol, your indifference, James, the other men in your life . . . your fear of love. I knew the moment we met that something was different about you. The first time we made love . . . I already knew you were my mate, but how could I tell you with all that was hanging over us?"

"And you were a virgin," I pointed out in an attempt to remain detached—not that it was working.

"Yes. I knew you would reject me if I told you, and I couldn't bear to lose you. I'd waited a century. Many vampires play while waiting for their mate, but I had no interest in gratuitous sex. The first sexual urges I ever experienced . . . were with you." He brushed his thumbs over my cheeks and pressed his forehead against mine. "I kept waiting for the right time to tell you, but something always got in the way. When I heard Tanya was coming to visit . . . I didn't want you to meet her until you knew the truth. But, Izzy, I swear to God, I never intended to keep it from you forever, and my intentions were true." His eyes were earnest.

For the first time since Tanya maliciously revealed Edward's secret, I listened with an open heart instead of one tainted by a sense of betrayal. I thought about all I knew of Edward and realized he would never willingly lie to me. Everything he'd ever done since we met was to try to protect me, to love me.

"Edward . . . I don't know what to say. I believe you, but I'm so confused. It's hard to think straight when I'm near you." I traced over his beautiful face with my fingertips.

"Tell me what you need. You have to know there's nothing I wouldn't give you."

"Time. I need to be alone, to clear my head and think." What I wanted to do was throw myself in his arms and beg him to take me home to our bed and make love to me.

"Does that mean you . . . might forgive me?"

"No promises . . . but, yes, maybe."

"That's all I can ask for. You'll never know how deeply sorry I am for hurting you."

"Will you do something for me?"


I brushed my index finger over the purplish hollow beneath one of his eyes. "Please hunt."

"All right." He nodded.

"I do love you, Edward. That's never been in question." I pressed my lips to his. "I promise to carefully consider everything you've told me."

Edward's answering smile caused a kernel of hope to blossom inside me, sweet and raw and yearning. "I love you, Izzy Black. Forever." He lifted me in his arms and swung us around until I was dizzy, and when he let me go, I missed him long before he was out of my sight.


A/N: Looks like the sun just might rise again, huh? Thoughts, theories, opinions?

Next chapter of Red Kryptonite should be out within a few days, and next chapter of IWIPB in approximately two weeks.

I've been given the honor of receiving an ARC of the lovely Sydney Logan's (SydneyAlice) new book Lessons Learned. I'll also be hosting a day of her blog tour on September 8th. Mark your calendars and show up on my blog to read an interview with her character, the schmexy Lucas Miller. Leave a comment on the blog during the giveaway and be eligible to win your very own copy of Lessons Learned!

I'm also reading Ghostwriter by the talented Lissa Bryan. Stay tuned for news of the blog tour and e-book giveaway, coming in October.

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