I came to the next morning more tired than when I went to sleep. It was his absence from the bed that woke me as I rolled over, my body unconsciously searching for him. My eyes stayed closed as I continued to lay there for a few moments more thinking about last night's conversation. It felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off of both of us. It pleased me that my overprotective husband had finally let me in. He spent too much time worrying about what I was thinking, trying to shield me from the realities of his existence. But soon it would be my existence as well, and I was glad that he was comfortable enough in that truth that he could talk openly about lay ahead.
I yawned and stretched, forcing my eyes open and sat up. From what I could see, the storm had passed for the most part. The sky from the window was a hazy gray and it was a light rain that now dripped off the palm that shaded this corner of the house.
I pawed around the nightstand looking for my phone to see what time it was. Crap, almost ten-thirty. No wonder Edward was already out of bed and gone. He had repacked our suitcases leaving out only the essentials, my clothes for today, my hair brush and my tooth brush. I yawned again, shaking my head, trying to get myself awake. At least my sunburn felt better. It was more itchy than painful. Never bothering with the nightgown I had brought, I slid quickly out of bed and into the bathroom before my mom came looking for me.
I threw the what was left of my stuff into my bag and headed out, catching the smell of sausage cooking as soon as I opened the door into the hallway. I followed the aroma and hearing the quiet murmur of voices, stopped in the living room just shy of the kitchen threshold to eavesdrop. Phil and Renee sat with their backs to me at the kitchen table talking to Edward who was at the stove, probably cooking some kind of breakfast feast.
"…flying lessons this summer. I'm still trying to talk your daughter into joining me."
Hmm... Edward was planting seeds. We had decided that a plane crash would be the easiest solution to the problem of faking my death. We would be lost at sea, ala Amelia Earhart or JFK Jr., our bodies unrecoverable. A well of grief washed over me thinking about their families and loved ones. Amelia's husband spent years looking for her. Would my parents do the same? We had to make sure that the wreckage was found. I didn't want them spending the rest of their lives hoping for a miracle.
I would never make it through the day if I started going down this road. I shook off my mood and walked in to join them all.
"I didn't say that I wasn't going to, I just haven't made up my mind yet." I said stepping into the room, smile firmly attached, as my mom and stepfather turned to look at me.
"Bella, why didn't you tell me you and Edward are going to take flying lessons?"
I bent over and gave Renee a kiss. "Good morning to you too, mom."
"Good morning dear." She replied dramatically, much to the amusement of our husbands.
I continued over to my Edward's side and he turn from the stove to give me my morning kiss. I glanced down at the stove, sausage and home fries sizzled over the heat. Beaten eggs sat in a bowl, ready to be poured into a skillet.
"I woke up early and decided to make everyone breakfast." Edward answered my non-existent question.
"How come you didn't wake me when you got up?" I asked snatching up a piece of hot potato out of the frying pan and throwing it into my mouth before it burnt my fingers.
"Because humans need sleep." he replied with a snicker at his own inside joke.
"We just got up not too long ago ourselves too Bella. That storm kept Renee and I up half the night."
I opened the dishwasher and began to pull out the dishes we needed for the table.
"How come you get to help?" Renee joked pouting, "Your husband wouldn't let me lift a finger in here."
"You haven't become immune to his powers of persuasion like I have."
"That's called ignoring him." Phil interjected. "Your mom does it all the time. You might even call her an expert at it."
"So that's where she learned it from." Edward chuckled and the rest of us joined in.
Breakfast, or I guess it was brunch was wonderful. I helped Edward finish things off and we both served Renee and Phil. There was a relaxed atmosphere to the meal as we talked and visited at the table till almost noon. Edward was the focus of their attention, and as they praised my husband's culinary skills, I did what I could to distract them while we ate, dropping my spoon on the floor or asking Phil and Renee if they wanted more juice or coffee. When I glanced back at my husband, his amused smile was all I needed to confirm he knew what I was doing.
"Well, Edward," Phil said pulling away from the table, "in spite of the fact that I am going to have to listen to my wife go on for a week about how I don't cook for her, thanks for the grub."
"Anytime Phil... Hey, I think the race starts in a few minutes."
"You just read my mind Edward. Didn't know you were a NASCAR fan."
I couldn't help but snicker at the truth of Phil's comment. "Edward appreciates anything that moves fast."
"I suppose the weather isn't fit for much other that TV." Renee grumbled.
"Well then I guess that's settles it." Phil said cheerfully, sitting his plate in the sink and heading off to the living room.
My mom took a page out of my book, ignoring Edward attempts to help clean up the dishes and shooing him out of the kitchen too.
"You never mentioned he cooked either," my mom commented as she finished emptying the dishwasher she ran last night while I rinsed our dirty dishes, waiting to reload it.
"He takes the garbage out as well mom…" I grinned teasing her. "…clears the drain in the shower when my hair plugs it up… starts the car and scrapes the frost off my windshield in the winter… If I think of anything else, I'll write it down and send it to you."
"You are one lucky girl aren't you." She giggled.
"Yeah, just wish I could do more for him." I said sighing. "Some days I feel very insignificant and undeserving."
It became quiet in the kitchen as we worked; the only noise coming from the TV in the other room and Edward and Phil discussing the merits of the chase and who they thought would make it in, what ever the heck that was.
"He does really take good care of you, doesn't he?" The tone of my mother's comment was serious this time.
It would be several hours before we left, but suddenly I found myself fighting the tears welling in my eyes as I realized this was my goodbye.
"He means everything to me." I whispered, unable to get any volume from my voice. "I don't know how I could live without him."
"There, there…" My mother came over and gave me a hug, sensing the water works were about to start. "You're not supposed to cry when things are good."
"I know. I'm being silly, aren't I?"
"You always have worn you heart on your sleeve." She sighed, a quiet snicker escaping her lips.
"I have missed you so much." I laughed with her, but the tears still broke loose, rolling down my cheeks. "So many things have changed since I left for Washington, and I guess I need you to know how truly happy in my life I am. I hope that you are as well."
"I miss you too, sweetheart." Now it was not only me with tears rolling down my cheeks. "But nothing makes me happier than to know that you're happy."
"You know I will love you forever."
"As I will always love you." She replied her voice cracking at the end.
We stood holding each other in the kitchen. As much as I didn't want to let her go, it was time. I pulled away sniffling. My mom handed me a napkin from the table and took one her self blowing her nose.
"I hope those two didn't hear us out here, Bella. They're gonna think we are a couple of girls."
We finished up in the kitchen and I put my arm around her shoulder. "Let's get out to the living room and pretend we give a crap about the race."
We look our places at our spouse's sides on their respective couches. Edward eyes stayed glued to the television screen. He knew I would not be able to maintain myself were his gaze to meet mine. But he stroked my hair as I laid my head in his lap, quietly comforting me. I did not look at him or the TV. Instead my eyes wandered to Renee and Phil. She leaned against his chest as he wrapped his arms around her. I could almost feel the love that surrounded the two of them. He kissed her on the nose as she snuggled up close, unaware of my of my spying, caught up in their own contentment. Everything would be okay, I told myself. Phil would take care of her.
It seemed like no time at all that the checkered flag dropped and it was time to go. The rain had stopped midway through the race and it wouldn't be long until the late afternoon sun made its appearance.
"We better get moving, Edward." I said getting up off the couch. "I know you wanted to get a good four or five good hours in before it turns dark."
"I'll go grab our bags" he said stiffly, kissing me on the cheek and exiting the room quickly.
Phil helped Edward with our suitcases and we all headed outside for the official farewell. I was glad that I had taken care of my goodbye earlier. Not a tear was to be found as I went back to pretending this was just the end of a visit and not the last time I would see them.
Renee first hug was for Edward.
"Thank you for your daughter." Edward's voice throbbed with emotion. "She is the light in my life. I love her more than I can say."
"As she loves you, my boy."
I had to turn away from this scene.
"Keep my mom out of trouble for me Phil." I said embracing Phil.
My mom released my husband and moved on to me. "I love you sweetheart."
"I love you too mom. I'll give you a call when I get home."
… and then we were gone.
As soon as we were out of sight, he pulled me over to his side, waiting for the sobbing to begin. Quiet tears did fall, but it was not sadness that took hold of me. I had done this once already. This year was a gift from my husband, one that I would not mar with sorrow.
"Thank you for this extra time Edward."
"Your welcome." He bent down kissing my hair.
He pulled me closer not commenting further. A couple of short weeks ago, he would have asked if I was sure, or suggested that we wait until after Christmas or some other arbitrary landmark… but not now. We were both set in our course and ready to face what would come.
Our plan was to get over the state line and stop at a hotel before the sun made its return. I didn't want to go there. I wanted to go back to the cabin. I wanted away from civilization where he could be truly alone with me, not pushing out all the thoughts that that filled a city constantly humming in his mind. It was a foolish desire. Weather aside, it would be close to sunset by time we got to Virginia and if we weren't going to stop in Georgia, we might as well drive straight through home. Of course if I asked him he would do it. I knew all too well that there was nothing he wouldn't do for me. But would the risk be worth it? I wanted it so badly, wanted to touch him without needing to be quiet, wanting him to touch me with as much freedom to express his love that my weak human body could endure. I seesawed on the decision, unsure whether to ask.
That was when my phone began to ring. It was Alice, leaving me a text. Edward looked down as I picked up the message.
Get off the damn fence ask him.
"Ask me about what?"
"I don't want to go to the hotel. Can we go back to the cabin?"
My phone buzzed again. This time Alice abandon sending just a message.
"Much better. You were giving me a headache. Now Edward, take the Five Chop Rd when you get on to 26 going into Orangeburg. You'll have nineteen minutes for gas and to find her something to eat at the truck stop. Then it should be clear sailing the rest of the way.
"Thank you Alice." Edward replied taking my phone in his hand and hitting the speaker button so we both could hear.
"You're welcome, what else is a clairvoyant weather girl for? Now maybe you two will stay out of my head for a few hours. Jasper's getting cranky about it."
"No I'm not." I could here Jasper hissing in the background.
"Love ya Alice," I laughed "...see you when we get home."
"I know," she giggled. "Enjoy your evening together."
The sun was low and hiding in the trees as we approached the park again. Edward stopped in Waynesboro to top off the tank and give me one more bathroom break. He laughed and rolled his eyes when I snagged a pen light sitting on the counter as I bought another OJ.
"It's gonna be dark up there. What if I have to pee?"
"Worried about the tree spites again?"
"No, I'm worried that I'll trip over a root and fall off the side of the mountain."
"I'll do my best to keep you out of harms way... real or make believe."
Just a few minutes from sunset, it was already dark when we arrived at the base of the mountain. I parked the Vanquish in the same place as I had three days before. If we hurried, there would be just enough time.
"Quickly love, I want to show you something."
"You surprise me everyday… several times a day in fact. And I am thrilled every time you do it" I replied as I wrapped her in our quilt. As steep as the climb was, I began to run, carrying her in my arms instead of my on my back. "Why shouldn't I be able to return the favor?"
I darted up the mountain and reached the summit just in time. There was an out cropping of rock, devoid of trees on the western face of the slope that I had been to before. I stood her up on her feet as she gaped opened mouthed down into the valley.
"It's beautiful Edward." She murmured.
The sky was ablaze in color above the silhouette of trees that stood on the lower surrounding mountains, the few wisps of clouds that floated in the sky only enhancing the perfect landscape.
She dragged me down to the ground, wrapping the blanket around me and settling herself into my lap. We sat together silently, holding each other, watching the sun take it's dramatic exit. The night mountain air chilled as the sky darkened. I pulled the ends of our quilt tight doing my best to hold in her heat.
"There have been so many, but this is one of the best gifts you have ever given me." She sighed happily and laid her head on my shoulder.
Her words reminded me of something she said earlier in the day to her mother.
"I need to ask you about something."
"Go ahead, Edward." She said cautiously.
"Why do you think you have not given me more that I have given you?"
"You do everything for me." She answered, looking down at her hands. "You love me, take care of me, spend money like its going out of style on me. This trip…"
"How can you compare the trinkets I have given you to the things you have done for me... to me?" I cut her off.
She scowled and buried herself further into my chest.
"Look at me." I pleaded.
I did not force her chin up as so often I had. I waited... waited as she took a deep breath and lifted her eyes to mine.
"You make me want to smile. I go days now without the ability to stop." I plunged my nose deep into her heavy main and inhaled. "I get the honor of holding your hand and smelling your hair.
"I lay in our bed all night happier than I have ever been and watched the sun come up every morning with you in my arms, excited for our day to begin."
She opened her mouth to say something, but I silenced her with my lips. Wrapped in our cocoon of her warmth, I laid us down on the ground, pulling her onto my chest and continued.
"You can't understand how you have changed me. I've spent all my life since I became what I am, feeling unworthy of anything. I've cheated death. Monsters that they were, I've stolen life from others and have had to live with the guilt of my actions. Yes, I've done my penance, did what I could to be a good person, help my family, but it never seemed enough.
"Then you came into my life. Even after we were together for some time, I felt like I was taking something that I had no right to have. But you have changed that in me. You're mine and I no longer feel undeserving.
"It's a gift that I will never be able to repay…" I paused staring into her stunned face and grinned. "…but I plan to spend the eternity trying. Promise me that you will never again feel undeserving of me."
"Make love to me Edward." She whispered, tears filling her eyes.
"It's only a couple of minutes to the cabin. I could get a fire star…"
"Make love to me here… right now." She demanded then smiled. "I can keep us both warm."
She had already unbuttoned my jeans and was now pawing at my fly. Rapidly growing into no position to argue, I rolled us to our sides and we undressed each other. Her fingers did not claw as they often did at my shirt. They were steady and confident. She kicked off our quilt as we wiggled out of the rest of our clothes, reaching between us and taking me into her hand. Her palm felt as though it was on fire, its pulse beating into me as she stroked the stone shaft, before sliding down to the base and fondling me. I groaned and twitched as her skilled hand slithered back up to the top, milking the head. As the lubricating juices began to flow, she removed her fingers from my body, sticking them in her mouth and sucking on them.
"God, its so good." She moaned, her leg wrapping itself over my hip, the pulsating heat of her loins now pressed up against my erection, rubbing her scent into me. I pulled her head back by the nape of her hair, exposing her neck to my mouth. Her body trembled in pleasure as I pressed my lips to her carotid and rolled her nipple between my thumb and index finger.
She unexpectedly pulled away from me and flipped on to her knees.
"Please," she begged. "I need you inside me…"
I knelt down behind her and thrust myself into her wet throbbing core.
Three days without… I thought smoke was going to come out of my ears.
Her aggressiveness was startling. I was serious when I told her that she would most likely hurt me, especially right after the change. But I can't imagine how I could experience pain. She could grind me into dust between her thighs and I knew I would feel nothing but satisfaction.
She moved with a ferociousness that was more animal than human and I growled in response as she slammed herself against me. I dropped down and balanced on one hand as the other wrapped around her the front of her, vibrating the tips of my fingers against the nerves at the apex of her womb. It was all I could do to maintain my self control as she grunted and panted, her body getting hotter and hotter as my pelvis rocked against the steaming flesh, sliding in the sweat pouring out of her.
Our heart hammered loudly, tighter and tighter around me she became as we moved. Gasping, she finally fell to her elbows screaming my name. My fingers at her clit rode out her orgasm, the scent of it exploding around us, before they dropped to the ground digging into the rock. My head snapped back, my body roaring in victory as I was thrown down the path of ecstasy.
We both collapsed down onto the stone precipice. I did what I could to wrap us quickly back up in our blanket before the fires that had erupted so strongly in her moments ago, fully extinguished and she got chilled.
"You're gonna be the death of me…" I said kissing her damp forehead, my breathing still not under control. "But I will be going out with a smile on my face."
Well I don't know about you, but I am all hot and bothered right now. Nothing like finishing a story off with a good bang. This is my longest story to date… and most likely will hold that title for a while. I tip my hat to all you writers that can crank out 50,000 or more words.
Whether there is one review or twenty, I do so much appreciate hearing from you. It truly inspires me to write more.