Dislcaimer: All Twilight related character belong to S. Meyer.
I let out an exasperated sigh and kicked the sheets off my legs with more force than necessary. I glanced over at the clock on the nightstand. 10:27 pm. Still early. I was restless, bored and awake. The three-hour Florida time difference and the eternal push and pull of water up the beach were keeping me that way. I'd forgotten how used to the quiet I'd become. In Forks there was an occasional gust of wind, rain on the roof or a car driving by. There was never this constant repetition of nature outside my window. Even the much larger city of Phoenix was only interrupted by the yip of a coyote or the shush from the freeway. We had only been here half a day, and I already missed the boring lull of Forks.
Here, in the sticky, warm night of Jacksonville, Florida, the rustling palm fronds and constant waves were beating on my eardrums and keeping me from slumber. Of course, the absence of my ultra-soothing vampire boyfriend also played a large role in my restlessness. Edward was sequestered to the living room couch for the weekend, sprawled out convincingly under a thin sheet. The thought of his human "act" made me smile. Pale, bare foot hanging out from under the sheet, purple rimmed eyelids closed and breaths smooth and slow. To any mere mortal he would look asleep, but I knew the truth.
My heart started racing as I pictured him that way. He looked close enough to a human, but only I knew how much more was under the surface. I smiled to myself. He could probably hear the change in my heartbeat from the other room. Maybe he would keep me company if he knew I was awake. I bit my lip and thought more about Edward. His smoldering eyes, smooth stone lips, and cool fingertips. My heartbeat was in my ears now, blocking out the swaying palms outside.
The door opened, closed and he was at my side before I could blink. Feather-soft kisses trailed from my hair line to my eyebrows and eyelids before he pressed his face to my hair. I burrowed deep into the hollow of his chest, for once grateful of his icy skin.
"Are you trying to drive me mad," he growled in my ear, sending goosebumps down my spine. "I can hear your tantalizing heartbeat from the other room, you know."
I lifted my head to meet his amber gaze. "I know." A smug smile spread across my face.
He made a sound of approval and traced the edge of my jaw line with his lips. "And what, may I ask, where you getting so excited over?"
I pursed my lips, smiling still, and knowing full well this would drive him crazy. Although, probably not as crazy as he was making me now. He moved his lips down my neck, peppering the thin skin with barely-there, ice-cold kisses.
"I can probably guess," Edward said after a moment, cool breath flowing over my chest like a burst from an air conditioner. He was quiet again, as he paused at the hollow of my jaw. "Your skin is exquisite tonight," Edward whispered.
He lifted his head and leaned close to press his forehead to mine. "It's glowing, even in the dark. I should make you lay in the sun more often." A devious grin lit up his pale face.
My Mom and I had spent a few hours catching up on the sand today after we'd arrived while Edward "studied" inside. My much-too-pale skin was pink, and lightly sunburned. I must be radiating heat at the moment.
"Don't try to change my mind again," I said, meeting his lips for a kiss. "It won't matter how tan I am when you-"
He placed a finger over my mouth, gently. His lips turned down in a frown. "We're on vacation, let's not talk about that while we're here, Bella." He removed his finger and dragged it down my jaw line. "Just let me worship your, warm, fragrant human flesh for the weekend."
Such an odd thing for a boyfriend to say, but so normal for my extraordinary one. I smiled and inhaled deeply, breathing in the scent that I loved. It was strung with the tang of salt air and plumerias and even more amazing, if that were possible. If Edward wanted to worship me, I certainly wouldn't refuse, even when we got back to Forks.
"Don't overheat yourself," Edward said playfully, dragging the same finger back up my cheek. I could feel the blush creep into my face. I certainly wouldn't miss giving that away come graduation. He could read my every emotion easily enough, but I wouldn't mind having a few secrets of my own for once.
"What are you thinking?"
I lay back down on my pillow, his cool arm bracing the back of my neck like a cold compress. "I was disobeying your last request," I answered, tracing the contours of his face with my fingers.
He closed his eyes and I was reminded of our first day in the meadow. His eyelashes pressed to his cheek, breaths smooth and slow, lips parted enough to show a peek at his pearly teeth. Again my heart pulsed.
Edward's smile grew and he placed his hand over my heart. "Listen to you go."
I shrugged. "It's the tropical locale, I can't help but get all gushy."
He laughed and looked over at the door. I could see the dim sliver of light from the other room peek through. "Let me ask you," he said in a low voice, moving his head to look at the wall that separated my room from Renee and Phil's. "How deep of a sleeper is Renee?"
A rush of excitement filled my veins. "I don't know, not as deep as Charlie, I don't think." It came out in one breath. Too fast.
Edward rolled his eyes. "Don't get too excited. I have an idea. I'm just wondering if she would notice your absence for an hour or so."
I laughed. "Even if she did, I doubt she'd mind. She's not like Charlie. She'd probably laugh if I escaped through the window without breaking my neck."
"Why, is she asleep now?"
Edward hesitated, eyeing my cautiously.
"What? Did they sneak out too?" The thought amused me. It would be so like my mother to sneak out of her own house.
"No," he replied slowly, and then still eyeing me, "They're not really sleeping."
My eyes widened and I instinctively covered them with the palms of my hand, as if pressing into my eyeballs would erase the image and Edward just painted for me. "Oh God," I murmured as Edward laughed quietly into the pillow.
"Let's go for a walk," he said after our laughter had subsided. "I haven't had a chance to get to the beach yet."
I turned to look at him, heart rate kicking back into gear. It was such a normal request, and yet so unexpected. Something I would never get to do in Forks with Edward. "Really?"
He sat up, and tugged me with him gently. "No werewolves or redheads, I'm pretty sure this is the safest we'll ever be. Unless you have a knack for attracting Mako sharks."
I shoved him playfully and he leaned away mockingly. As if I could shove him anywhere.
"Or we could stay in here, now that you know what's going on in the next room?" He jabbed his thumb in the direction of my mother's bedroom, grinning.
"No thank you," I said, sliding out of bed. "Unless you want to. I can only imagine what thoughts you're getting right now."
He chuckled and kissed my forehead. "I've spent one-hundred years living in a house full of couples. Trust me, I'm used to it."
He came and went in a flash, holding my flip-flops and a sweater in his hands.
"Should we go out the window?" I asked, sliding the sweater over my shoulders and flip-flops on to my feet.
"I think i can get us in and out quietly enough," he said with a wink, lifting me carefully into his arms. He kissed me for a moment and within two beats of my heart we were outside on the back porch.
I blinked at the sudden change in location, taking in the silver lit night. The white-capped waves beat against the shoreline and the beach grass leading down to the water moved gently like its own ocean. The warm breeze, mixed with the cool from Edward's skin was the most appealing combination. I snuggled closer in his arms, pressing the bridge of my nose to his neck. In Forks his cold skin was always keeping us apart, as much as I tried to hold back my shivers. Here in Florida I couldn't get enough. I couldn't get close enough.
"I wish there was some place like this closer to Forks," I said absently, placing my hand to his chest where his heart should be. "Even if we could never go anywhere during the day, we could just be someplace like this, where it's hot, but always cool with you."
I felt his lips in my hair, pressed tight to the crown of my head. "We could come to Jacksonville, any time you liked. We could change plans, and attend classes here in the fall. There are plenty of schools for you here, and you could be close to Renee-"
"No," I said, suddenly, wishing he would stop. I don't know why I even said anything. I was so lost in the comfort of his stone arms. It was hard enough being away from my mother this long, but the dilemma of immortality was not something I wanted to complicate even further. "I don't know what I was saying, forget about it. I just..." my voice faded and I looked up into his amber eyes. "I just like not being cold for once."
Edward smiled. "I know. It's an appealing thought for me too." He moved off the porch and to the path leading to the beach.
"Besides," I continued, playing at the collar of his t-shirt, "it wouldn't make sense to go to school here, you could never step foot outside."
He shrugged. "There are night classes."
"Well then I'd never see you."
Edward let out a defeated sigh, but I could see his smile. "It was only a suggestion."
I snuggled back into his embrace, wishing he could carry me like this all the time. Even if I got fat and lazy, at least I would always be close.
"What are you thinking?" he asked, staring out over the water. I wondered what he could see or hear in the ocean?
"Just trying to figure out if you would still love me if I was fat."
He couldn't help but laugh. The noise echoed over the deserted beach. "What kind of a question is that?"
I shrugged. "I just like being carried, it makes me feel safe. Makes me forget everything else." I sighed and kissed his collarbone through his t-shirt. "I don't have to worry about tripping, or running into anything or stubbing my toe. If I just stayed in your arms forever everything would be perfect, but I'd get all fat and flabby."
Again he laughed, but he followed his outburst with a cool kiss on my forehead. "Bella, I'd love you if you were obese beyond repair. I'd still be able to carry you too." His chest puffed out a little and I rolled my eyes.
"I'll love you always, no matter what the circumstance." His voice was clear and sincere and I was afraid of what he would say next. Probably something having to do with marriage.
I found myself waiting for it in the silence between us.
To my surprise he sighed against my temple. "But you already know that." He sounded resigned and his eyes were sad.
I tried to cheer him up. "Would you still parade me around the beaches in Florida if I was fat and flabby?"
I felt his smile, then his lips at my ear. "Bella, I would marry you here."
A chill went down my spine. There it was. Again. Pictures filled my head of canopies propped up on the beach, people barefoot in the sand and Edward and me under a seashell-plastered arch with the sunset behind us. It was cheesy, and embarrassing and...a little perfect. I swallowed and for more than a second, I was convinced one hundred percent. It was rare that I let his vampire-persuasion work on me. Sometimes I couldn't help it, his dazzling was just too much. He slowly set me down until my feet hit the sand. His hands were on my face and I could tell the idea had intrigued him as much as me.
"We could have the ceremony at dusk, right here on the beach. There would be lights strung all around and candles on the sand. It could be just you and me, and our families. Dark sky and stars and us."
It sounded magical. I kept quiet and tried to let the fantasy last just a bit longer.
He kissed me slowly and meaningfully, and I forgot for a moment that we weren't even engaged yet.
"We could dance under the moonlight," he whispered lower still; cool breath beating against my lips like the ocean on the sand.
Just a few minutes more. I didn't need to answer yet.
He kissed me again, this time differently than the first. It made my heart melt and butterflies flutter inside my belly. Edward's thumbs moved over my cheeks and I felt my knees grow week. He sensed my shift and wrapped an arm around me, pulling me close to him.
"Marry me Bella Swan," he said, eyes blazing. Through my half closed lids I dared to say yes to keep that look in his eyes. Would he still look at me that way when I refused him?
"Edward..." I sighed. "You know that sounds amazing."
"Only if you want it."
I pressed my eyes closed and forced my brain to remember everything about the daydream. Something to think about later, when he was brooding because of my refusal. Then with a deep breath, I opened them again. "I don't. Not...yet."
I met his gaze reluctantly, always waiting to see the hurt and angst in his golden eyes, but they were still frenzied and excited and my heart skipped a beat.
"Yet," he repeated, smiling.
I rolled my eyes at him. "Yet."
"That's all I need," he said, kissing me once more, briefly, and not near long enough. He removed his arm from my waist and I sunk back into the sand. I hadn't realized how close we were.
He was a few feet away now, walking down the beach. I realized he was wearing shorts and that struck me as odd. Edward was too refined to wear shorts. But they still appealed to me, for some reason. Maybe they were so normal.
His hand was extended towards me, and I took it, letting him gently tug me towards him. When I met his stride he lifted his arm and wrapped it around my shoulder, hugging me close.
His calming cool body in the sticky heat of Florida made me draw and unwelcome parallel between he and Jacob. I swallowed hard. What a cruel comparison, to have a use for each of the two boys I cared most about. Conveniently available in all sorts of weather.
"Is everything alright?" Edward asked, craning his neck to meet my eye.
He was always so observant, but I couldn't tell him about this. "Everything is great."
He let out a sigh above my head. "Bella."
It wasn't fair that he was so perceptive. What other boyfriend was like this? I grimaced and asked another question. "You won't stop asking me to marry you, will you?"
I could hear the smile in his voice. "Never." He squeezed my shoulder. "I've told you before, you are my life, Bella."
I melted to his side. My sweet, sweet vampire boyfriend.
"As long as I can hope one day you'll say yes."
I looked up at him and hesitated. Of course I'd say yes. Eventually. My personal experience with marriage wasn't the best example. I was a constant reminder of my parents' uneducated decision to marry. I knew they didn't regret anything now, but it was hard to justify a decision like this at eighteen, when my parents had unsuccessfully done the same thing.
"One day, I will," I said finally, and I heard him let out a breath. "One day, when we're-" the words evaporated into the night and I stopped dead in my tracks. I'd said it so naturally, because in reality that really would be the answer. When we're older. But we never would get any older. He wouldn't. I didn't want to.
Edward stopped with me, sensitive to my every movement. "Older." He finished for me. I hated that word.
He eyed me warily in the dark. "We can be," he said softly, voice full of understanding. I was angry with myself for playing right into his trap.
"Bella, I can wait forever."
"Well I can't," I said harshly, turning my face downwards to try and hide my blush with my hair. "I don't want to be older than you."
He was quiet at once, knowing not to push me further. We kept walking, and I clung to him tighter than ever.
Looking down at my feet in the sand I realized how dark it was. We'd passed the edge of light that my Mother's house emitted and suddenly I felt oddly paranoid. I knew full well that nothing would harm me as long as Edward was near, but still, walking unseeing in the darkness was disconcerting. I looked over the ocean (or the where I thought the ocean was) to distract myself. I could see tiny lights on the horizon. Boats out to sea. Cruise ships making their way home.
I sighed heavily and pressed my cheek to Edward's icy chest. I didn't want to talk about the future any more.
Much to my pleasure, I felt the gentile hook of Edward's cool arm lift my feet out from the sand and cradle me in his arms once more. I looped my hands around his neck.
"Since you like it so much," he murmured, nonchalantly, and I knew he was trying to cheer me up.
"How far are we going?" I asked, staring into the darkness, again wondering what he could see, hear and smell out here.
"Far enough for you to go to sleep," he replied, still staring ahead. I could see the smile on his face.
I didn't want to fall asleep. Not yet. Each night with Edward was the perfect dream I never wanted to wake up from. It was always new, different and perfect in some way or another. I wondered if it would always be this way. Could I discover bits and pieces of him forever? I wanted to try.
"What if I'm not tired?" I asked, unconvincingly. I could never fool him.
He laughed. "You're human. You're tired."
I sighed in defeat. "Well, what if I don't want to sleep. We're on vacation, and right now we're alone on the beach. Can't we at least...be romantic?"
"Being carried in my arms isn't romantic enough for you?" he asked, voice full of amusement.
"You know what I mean."
I realized that we'd stopped moving, and the sounds of the waves and the trees seemed to swell around us. We really were alone, in the dark, in the middle of nowhere. A thrill ran through my body, and my heart thumped loudly. According to Edward's standards, this was exactly the kind of situation he used to tell me to avoid. Alone with a vampire where no one could hear. More rapid beats of my heart.
Edward sunk down to the sand in one slow, fluid motion, settling me on his lap comfortably. My eyes were starting to adjust to the darkness, and I could see Edward's face in the moonlight. His eyes were gold, even in the dark, and they looked deep into mine. My heart beat loudly again.
He was right, carrying me on a moonlit beach was romantic. Staring at his moonlit, perfect face was even more romantic. I didn't need anything else besides this.
Well, maybe one thing.
Edward's hand was already on my face, lifting my eyes to meet his. "How's this for romantic?" he asked. His voice hummed in the space between us and the pleasant feeling in my stomach swelled.
His lips were soft on mine, gentle and slow, but as the waves crashed around us the mood intensified and suddenly I was pressed to his chest with his hands in my hair. With more force than he'd allowed for some time, Edward kissed me like I dreamed about being kissed. Short, frenzied breaths escaped through his nose and onto my cheek. His hands, while gentle, held me tight, running through my hair and over my back. I tried my best not to push the line, keeping my hands clasped tightly to the thin fabric of his shirt, instead of around his neck. I let him pull me closer to his body, instead of the other way around. Maybe this way it would last longer...
But I was foolish to hope, and selfish too. He pulled away suddenly, panting. His eyes were dark and intense. The thrill that he hated rushed through my veins, and rather than feeling afraid, I felt excited and more drawn to him. He displaced me from his lap at once and sprung ten yards away.
"I'm sorry," he said, voice low and husky. I could barely hear him.
Edward pinched the bridge of his nose. "That was all my fault."
I smiled. "I know."
He looked at me from his new position, shaking his head incredulously. I realized he'd stopped breathing. "I'd say that I was proud of you..."
"If I wasn't a freak of nature."
I heard him chuckle. "Refer to yourself more nicely, please. I do love you, you know, even if you are irresponsibly drawn to vampires."
"Just one." I hugged my knees close, watching him carefully.
He was smiling. "Just another moment," he said, voice still heavy and full of desire. I tried not to think about it, knowing that my heartbeat was teasing him even now. My eyes drifted back to the dark horizon, spotting new glowing orbs as they drifted in and out of view. How fast would it take Edward to swim that far and back? How long could it take me when I was like him? Could I beat him if we raced?
I didn't have to ponder long. A cool set of fingers dragged down my cheek, to my neck and finally rested on my shoulder. Edward placed a kiss where his hand stopped. "I'm so sorry, love. I should have known."
"I shouldn't have pushed you," I said.
"You didn't." After a moment he added, "I know I shouldn't encourage this, but I do look forward to the day when I can kiss you without end."
My body went in flames at once. My heart pounded in my ears. Kissing without end? Without the need for sleep? Normally I kept thoughts like that to myself, and only let my mind wander in the lonely time before Edward came back into my bedroom each night. I didn't consider that he could be thinking the same thing.
He laughed against my shoulder. "I shouldn't have said that."
"As you wish."
We stayed still for a few moments. I could feel his breaths against my skin again, and I felt more at ease. I hated when I pushed him too far.
"I should take you back."
I couldn't help but sigh. Another dream to an end. Tomorrow Renee and I were going for an early walk, and I knew what was coming. I wanted to put it off and live our lives without the judgment of the person I trusted second most in the world. I wanted to know what she thought about us, but I didn't want it to change how I felt. Right now I was secure, aside from the whole marriage thing, and I was happy in our little bubble.
"What are you thinking?" Edward asked, lips still pressed to my shoulder. They were almost warm now.
"I'm going on a walk with my mom tomorrow," I answered him, more to warn him than anything.
"I'd ask you what she was thinking, but I think I should find out on my own. It'll just keep me awake tonight."
"Her thoughts are too frenzied for me to pin down most of the time," Edward said, brushing my hair behind my ear. "I couldn't tell you much."
There was another moment of silence, and I pushed my mind to think about something else besides tomorrow. Perhaps how to make this night last longer...
But I was already being scooped into his arms, and we were heading back to the house. I could see it a ways ahead, glowing like a beacon. I sighed again.
Edward was watching me as we moved back down the beach. "So reluctant for our nights to end, and yet you won't consider marrying me," he said, pressing a kiss to my cheek.
It was risky of him to bring it up, especially since he hit on a key point. Trust me, I had thought about that.
"Our nights will still end if we're only married," I said, sounding bitter.
"Depends on how you look at it."
This was so infuriating. "I don't want to sleep any more," I said, voice tight and frustrated. It was embarrassing, but the truth. "I want to stay awake all night with you, talking and..." I stopped there. Was it wise to tease him so soon after I'd already pushed him so far? Did he already know what I dreamt about? Was he thinking about the same thing? He already dreamed about kissing me all night.
"You're such a temptress," he said, holding me closer. I could hear the smile in his voice. "I try not to think about that part. You'll crumple my resolve."
I couldn't help but smile. So he had thought about it.
"We'll have forever to do what you wish," he continued. "And trust me, I won't deny you my full attention all night."
I was on fire again. All night?
"But right now it's bed time for the human."
We were back on Renee's porch, and suddenly the flames on my skin were snuffed out.
A/N - My first entry on since 2005! Happy to be back. I hope you enjoy my first attempt at Twilight fanfiction. Please leave a review with any and all feedback!
Second chapter is about done. Will post soon!