Dislcaimer: All Twilight related character belong to S. Meyer.

Chapter 2

EPOV

Spending nights in houses full of sleeping humans was some of the most peaceful time I could remember in my hundred years of immortal existence. Lazy dreamed thoughts were innocent and quiet. There were no television or radio noises blaring in the background, and no movement. It was calm and relaxing.

Living in a household full of nocturnally active vampires had deprived me of this solitude for many years. I'd grown to view nights at Bella's house in Forks as a sort of "meditation." Peaceful, quiet hours to end my day, rather than sleep. Back home there was always music; mostly mine, as I unsuccessfully tried to block out the inappropriate images that were getting unconsciously sent my way. I shuddered at the thought. I couldn't lie to myself, having my own mate to spend an evening with in the Cullen household would be heaven.

For more than one reason.

I let out a groan and covered my eyes with my hands. A gentleman did not let his thoughts wander this way. Soon Bella would be mine, and I would just have to wait until that moment.

I took a steadying breath and tried to clear my head. The living room was filled with lots of tiny noises, many of which were too quiet for mere human ears. I heard the water in the pipes behind the refrigerator in the kitchen, the tiny bulb flashing on and off on the television and a lizard scampering across the back porch. I let my mind absorb the room around me, and felt my muscles uncoil. The tight feeling in my gut remained, however, but that was because Bella was a room away.

I waited longer to rush to her side tonight as I pondered thoughts in my own head. I could hear her pulse from where I lay on the living room sofa. It was slow and relaxed. Maybe a little frustrated. I felt my lip creep up in a smile. So impatient, my love.

I ran a hand through my hair slowly. We hadn't had a chance to be alone since she'd returned from her late-morning walk with Renee. While her eyes told me most of what I needed to know, Renee's thoughts filled me in with the rest. I could see Bella's beautiful face reflected in her memory, eyes widening as she heard words like, intense and strange.

It had become easy to fall into our own rhythm and out of sync with reality. More than easy, really. I didn't have to hesitate before spending any time with Bella anymore. We were young, and very in love, but hearing the true opinion of someone who matters to you can easily alter how you think. I knew first hand how influential a parent's opinion could be. I asked Carlisle and Esme for theirs all the time. While Bella and my love may not be rational or safe, it was true. That much I knew.

As for being intense, that was unavoidable, really. Our relationship was intense out of pure nature. I was a beast: invincible, strong-willed, and made to kill. I was intense because I had no other alternative, and Bella, so sensitive to my (and everyone else's) feelings around her, would inadvertently adjust herself around me to make me comfortable. It was our understanding, our way of life and the rhythm I started keeping time to.

I never much thought of how we looked through anyone else's eyes, let alone a mortal. Of course we would look awkward. We would look foolhardy and obsessed with each other, and to many it would look like any other average teenage relationship. Mortals didn't know how gentle I had to be with Bella, or how dangerous it was for me to be in the same room with her. They didn't know that her mere existence was the pinnacle to mine. They didn't see her face every time I had to push her away and deny her of the kisses she deserved, or the caresses my hands burned to give her.

I let out a low sigh that came out more like a hiss. I'd been through all this before. I'd agonized our relationship for practically a year, punishing myself for loving something so perfect. It wouldn't benefit to think of it now. I had made up my mind. There was no foreseeable way I could live without my Bella. As always, it was up to her.

I remembered Bella's shocked face once more. Wind whipping her mahogany hair around her face, cheeks flushed with realization and eyes wide with doubt. She had wrapped her arms tight around me when they returned. It was brief and chaste, but I still wished to hold her longer. Her gentle voice had been quiet for the rest of the day, and her mother compensated, by filling in every lull with amusing conversation. It was hard not to like Renee, but it was hard for me to be fully courteous when Bella was so sullen.

Bella had seized my hand under the dinner table and refused to let go, in fact my hand still pleasantly burned from her touch. That was hours ago, and now we were split apart to our separate sleeping quarters. The scratchy cotton sheet over my legs served no purpose or held no comfort for me. The warm air had increased my body temperature considerably, and I felt more comfortable being close to Bella.

Perhaps too close.

Last night was a mistake. A colossal one. I had been so careless and captivated by her ridiculous, danger-loving, beautiful self that I forgot to control my own actions. The memory of her fragile body pressed against mine made the venom swell in my mouth and I swallowed uneasily. I was so drawn to her, and not by her blood. Not anymore.

The subtle sheen of perspiration on her skin, and the glow from the sun was breathtaking. I could taste it on her lips and neck when I kissed her. If she ever agreed to marry me, I would have to take her somewhere like this on our honeymoon.

The door to her room opened and she moved by the doorframe with a swift huff, making her way to the bathroom. She was upset. Staying out here, lost in my own thoughts, probably wasn't helping her rationalize her own. I would have to apologize to her. Profusely.

As if anything could keep me away from my beautiful, precious, kind Bella Swan.

I smiled at the thought. My Bella. Almost, anyway.

The door to the bathroom opened and she made her way back to her room. I could hear her feet slap on the tile floor. She stopped before she went into her room, looking my direction. She squinted unintentionally in the dark.

"Are you asleep?" she asked dryly, crossing her arms over her chest.

I reached my hand out, beckoning her to come closer. She moved over reluctantly, eyeing the direction of her mother's room. When she reached the sofa she leaned over the back, bending over to meet my eyes.

"I'm sorry," I said, pulling her chin towards me gently.

She bent down to kiss me.

"I should have come in sooner. I was just thinking."

She looked down at me and I could tell I was already forgiven. Her mouth was tight as she fought a smile. "Join the club," she said dryly, brushing her hair behind her ear as it slid out of place.

I watched her from my position on the couch. Her eyes were large, dark, and smiling, despite her clamped mouth. Her sun-kissed shoulders were raised on either side of her face as she leaned over me. The skin was still glowing, even more so after today. Her camisole was silver in the dark, curving low from her shoulders to the wide expanse of her chest. Oh no. This would not do for my self-control.

Throwing care to the wind, I lifted myself over the sofa and grabbed Bella by the waist. I flitted us into her room, closed the door and lay us on the bed. It was too easy to be myself around her. I really shouldn't drag her around like that...

Her heart was beating frantically now, the tantalizing sound like music to my ears. Her hands were on my face, smooth, warm fingertips running circles over my cheek. I savored the sensation for a moment, watching her wide eyes intently. She was grinning at me. Silly Bella. Of course, abusing my speed and strength was exhilarating to her. I should have known.

"You're ridiculous," I said, pressing my lips gently to her forehead. I slid my nose down her temple to her cheek and breathed in slowly. Fire hit my throat like a freight train. It was a welcome freight train. She smelled wonderful.

Another kiss to her temple, then to her ear, and her earlobe, the curve of her jaw and the deliciously warm thin skin of her neck. I paused again to breathe deeply.

"I love you," I said quietly, barely loud enough for her to hear. My lips brushed against her skin as I spoke. Her heart accelerated and her body melted to mine.

"I love you too," she repeated. Her voice was breathy and high pitched, and I forced myself not to notice.

More kisses to her neck. I could feel her strong, healthy pulse against my lips. Her hands moved into my hair, knotting it in her delicate fingers. I ran the tip of my nose up her jaw, to her chin, and planted a kiss below her lips. She bit her lower lip in response. I was teasing her, and I shouldn't. Especially not after last night. It wouldn't be nearly as easy clearing her overpowering scent from my head while we were inside.

I waited for her to release her lip before giving her a soft and meaningful kiss. Her fingers tightened in my hair, but she remained still and flat on the bed. Good, Bella.

I watched as her eyes fluttered open and she smiled at me, cheeks pink.

"I can be good," she said with a raised brow.

"I know."

"We could get pretty good at this, you know."

I couldn't help but laugh. "Aren't we already good at this?" Considering I was a vampire and could kill her any moment, I thought we were doing pretty well.

"We could get better," she said quietly, in a tiny voice, as though she felt she said too much.

I was still smiling. "Oh really?" Insatiable human hormones.

Bella shrugged, and I grinned at her.

"What are you thinking?" I asked, bending low to press a kiss to the corner of her mouth. It twitched at the hint of a smile.

She was still quiet, although I assumed it was for more prodding.

I kissed the other side of her mouth. "Bella?"

She met my eyes again, hers wide and excited. "I just thought that if I can be good, maybe you can be...more good."

I laughed again and pressed my face at the crook of her neck. Insatiable human hormones.

"Any more good, Bella, and you won't be returning home human."

Her heart raced, and I scowled into her hair. That was not the reaction I was looking for. I pulled back to look her in the eye.

"But you're stronger than me," she said, running a finger down my cheek. "If I can do it..." She didn't continue. She could sense the losing battle. Believe me, I wanted to give her plenty more. But I wanted her alive the most.

I nuzzled her neck once again, basking in the scent of her hair. "Always testing my limits, Bella," I whispered to her skin, raising goosebumps up and down her arms.

I thought about her words for a moment as I took another heady breath. Bella and I had come a long way in our physical relationship, especially considering our basic biological makeup. We certainly kissed, a lot. As hard as that was in the beginning, it had become second nature now, and quite enjoyable. I was able to push aside my thirst for blood and mask it with more human urges. However, the more "human" I became, the easier it was to slip and forget what I was altogether.

Bella sighed impatiently and turned over to face me. Her deep, chocolate eyes were bright and her cheeks were still flushed.

I placed my hand on the side of her face, framing her pink skin with my pale, stone-cold flesh. "Bella," I breathed slowly, knowing it would disappoint her that we could go no further. I couldn't bear the thought of slipping so far into my human instincts that I forgot to control my thirst, venom or strength. I removed my hand from her face at the thought.

"Look," she said, grabbing my hand and putting it back on her face, "I know you have moral standards and concentration issues-"

I snorted and shook my head at her. Issues? Absurd girl.

"-but I just want you to know that I trust you, and if you want, you can push your boundaries a little bit." She looked away and blushed. "For my benefit."

I stared at her blankly, reeling at what she was asking of me. Push my boundaries? Play with her life even more than I already was? For kissing? It was out of the question! There was nothing more valuable to me than her whole being; her flawless, unmarred body, perfectly untouched blood and currently intact virtue.

Bella was still looking away, staring at the off-white cotton sheets between us. She poked idly at the folds below her fingers. She was even brighter pink, and I could see the rush of blood beneath her skin.

I sighed heavily. Her blush was quite alluring. One could say it was valuable to me.

Her fingertips through my hair usually made my day, or my existence worth it.

As if on queue, Bella lifted her eyes and slid her fingers over my temple and into my hair. She sifted it idly through the pads of her fingers. Another valuable treasure.

I grimaced. Was I really this shallow?

Bella leaned close and placed a kiss to my forehead.

Of course, our kisses were more beautiful than any of the concertos I'd composed at my piano. More precious than any sort of wealth I had accumulated thought out my life. Again, valuable.

And Bella, wonderful Bella, willingly surrendering herself into my arms and my non-existent heart was the most wonderful thing in my life.

I felt the familiar pressure where my heart used to be. It felt warm and pleasant and like it would lift my off the ground if it could. I was used to this feeling, and even more used to suppressing it. When I didn't, things like last night happened. Too little control, too many kisses and too dangerous for Bella.

She was looking at me again, imploring me with her impossible eyes. "Edward," she said softly, barely a whisper.

I swallowed.

"Edward, just kiss me. I trust you. I love you."

The combination of my name on her lips and her simple proclamation of love tipped me over the edge. I slid my hand around to her neck and pulled her towards me. My forehead was pressed to hers, nose sliding along hers. "Bella," I breathed her name against her lips, anxiety evident in my voice.

"Just one kiss," she said. We were so close her lips moved over mine as she spoke. "One, and I'll go to sleep."

I smiled. That was a lie.

"Please, Edward."

At this point I had no idea what I could give her, that I hadn't already, or that I wasn't willing to give up, but begging was not to be ignored. If my heart could beat, it would be thundering in my ears.

I closed the remaining space between us and pressed my lips to Bella's. The heat from her feather soft lips spread through my body like her own sort of venom. I was helpless to her touch.

She flattened her palms to my chest and remained still as our kiss grew more intense. I slid my hand from her neck, over her shoulder and to the gentle sway of her hip. Tugging softly, I pulled her body flush against mine. Her thundering heart beat against my chest and I could feel the gentle flow of her blood through her veins.

I tried to focus on as many details as I could to keep my head in check. The warmth of her skin, the tiny scrapes from her chapped lips on my own, her breaths that beat on my cheek as we kissed.

I kept my hand clasped tightly to her hip, squeezing the thin cotton of her pajamas. One of her hands slid from my chest back into my hair. The sensation of her fingers against my scalp sent tingles down my spine and I breathed heavily through my nose, suppressing a moan.

Bella moved closer still and I focused on each molecule of her body that was pressed against me. The delicate frame of her ribcage against to mine, the soft swells of her breasts to my chest, the hard caps of her knees against my thighs. I pulled from her lips reluctantly to trail kisses down her jaw line to her neck. I pressed my nose to her skin and breathed deeply.

I let her heartbeat calm my instincts, and I counted each beat as it pulsed against my cheek. In a few moments I was up to one hundred and five, and I felt the pressure of her fingers tugging my hair gently, willing my lips back to hers.

I didn't hesitate as I let her pull me back to her. Bella let out an appealing noise of surprise as our lips crashed together once more. Had she not anticipated my compliance? Was I pushing this too far, too fast?

Her head fell back into the pillow as my hand moved back up her body. My fingers ghosted over her ribcage and around her back. Bella's body curled involuntarily, her hips pressing into mine. I pulled back with a gasp. "Bella," I breathed heavily against her lips, shaking my head. "We have to stop."

Her fingers released my hair at once and she rolled to her back. She lowered her arm over her face with a groan. "It was my fault," she said, shaking her head slowly. "I couldn't be good this time."

I laughed and pulled her back to my chest. "Nonsense."

"I was pulling your hair," she whined, as if that was a capital offense.

I tugged her arm off her head gently. "I know. I liked it."

Bella turned her head quickly to meet my eyes. Her cheeks flushed. "Really?"

I took a deep breath. "Maybe we should talk about something else."

She looked back up at the ceiling and sighed. "You're probably right."

I brushed some of her hair behind her ear. The momentary distraction cleared my mind a little. "Should we talk about what your Mom said today?" I asked.

She scowled at the ceiling. "That's really your topic of choice?" She turned her head again to look at me.

I laughed. "Yes."

Bella grumbled in defeat and rolled to her side to face me. "Fine."

"I just want to make sure you're okay with what Renee said."

She arched an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"

I shrugged. "Her opinions are important to you. I don't want anything she said to upset you or confuse you about us. If you have any concerns about how we are together then we should talk about them now." I eyed her cautiously; suddenly afraid that she would have an issue and we would be back to a year ago.

Bella smiled sweetly and ran her fingers down my cheek. "I'm not confused, or upset. I guess I just always hoped people would see us and see how in love we are. I want them to see how perfect we are, and not that we're awkward and 'intense.' It's important to me that my mom sees how present you are in my life, and how serious I am about you. I don't want them to worry."

I couldn't help but smile at her. "You're worrying about other people, again?"

Bella laughed. "Yes, I guess I am."

I placed my hands around her face, brushing the skin of her cheeks gently. "So you're okay about us?"

She nodded between my fingers. "Edward, our relationship is intense, and it is a little strange, but that's how it has to be. My feelings for you are," she paused and bit her lip, "consuming."

A thrill ran through my body.

"I don't think my mother has ever felt that way before, not even with Phil. In fact, I don't know many people that have found their soul mate." She wiggled a little closer and pressed a kiss to my lips. "I've found my soul mate, and I don't care how intense or weird or stupid it looks on the outside. I'm yours forever."

By now I was grinning. "You're mine?" I repeated, as she kissed me again.

"Yours."

"Mine."

The combination of her breath on my lips and the word mine reverberating inside my empty chest did me in, and suddenly my arms were around her. She let out a content sign as I pulled her on top of my body and pressed her close to me. Her hair fell around my face as I looked up into her eyes.

"Bella," I said again, and I heard how low and husky my voice was. I had to stop. This was going the wrong direction.

She leaned close again. The smell of her hair and skin was overwhelming. "Five more minutes," she said, dragging the tip of her nose over my cheekbone.

"I'm not an alarm clock," I protested, finding it very hard to form coherent thoughts.

Bella shook her head. "Don't think," she whispered as her lips brushing over my own.

I wasn't.

She gave me a wicked smile and repeated, "I'm yours." As if I needed a reminder.

An embarrassing and ungentlemanly moan escaped my lips before I pulled her down the rest of the way and crashed my lips to hers. Her hands were in my hair again and I was too keyed up to stop her. Her elbows were propped on my chest and I gripped them tightly, as if they would ground me from floating away.

I felt Bella's hips shift slightly, moving more towards mine. The sensation was a dull reminder in the back of my preoccupied mind. Stop. This is going too far.

I pushed the reminder away and kissed her harder, reveling in the taste of her breath on my tongue. Her leg started to move next, hooking over my right knee. Her fingers twisted more in my hair.

I was completely helpless.

A muffled buzzing sounded in the silence and it may as well have been a gunshot. Bella leaped off my chest and scurried to the other side of the bed. I lay still, hands still clawed where I had been clutching Bella's arms seconds before. I stopped breathing and closed my eyes, forcing myself to remember the phone vibrating in my pajama pants pocket.

"What," she panted from the other end of the bed, "is that?"

I opened my eyes slowly and slipped my hand in my pocket. "My cell phone," I said, still not breathing.

"Why do you have your cell phone in your pocket now?" she asked, raking her fingers through her hair and pulling it out of her face.

I pulled the tiny silver phone out of my pocket and flipped it open. It was a text from Alice. One word.

"Stop."

I closed it with a snap and pressed my fingers to the bridge of my nose. Thank you Alice.

Bella was sitting up on her heels now, looking down at me. Her hand smoothed the wrinkles in my tee shirt before pressing tenderly to my heart. "Edward," she prompted, and I met her eyes. "Is everything okay?"

I flipped open the phone once more to show her the text message from Alice.

She sucked her bottom lip into her mouth. "Oh." She looked around the phone to meet my gaze. "I guess that's why you have it with you, isn't it?"

I nodded, still unable to speak. Her warm hand on my chest was reminding me too closely of her leg looped over mine. I tried to forget the feel of the soft curves of her body wrapped around my own. I had felt so human for a few brief seconds. I had imagined us parked at one of the pullouts on the highway, wrapped around each other in the back of the car; out hands over and under various articles of clothing, acting like normal teenagers.

A sigh escaped my lips and I grit my teeth together. Too human for me.

Bella sensed my discomfort, and pulled her hand away. I was faster, however, and I grabbed her wrist. She eyed me tentatively as I pulled it to my lips and kissed it softly. I moved her hand back to my heart and pressed it firmly to my chest. "Don't pull away," I said. "I don't want you to go away."

A sad smile pulled at the corner of her mouth. "Okay."

I ran my finger back and forth over her knuckles. The exchange had returned me to my senses and took a deep breath. I let the welcome burn lick my throat and flood my body with my familiar vampire senses. The human urges were pushed aside. For now.

Bella lifted her other hand from her lap and brushed a strand of hair from my forehead. "I guess I should go to sleep then," she said softly. I could hear the sadness in her voice. I knew this wasn't what she wanted when she asked me to try harder, but this was exactly why I couldn't.

"Bedtime for the human," I agreed with a nod, smiling for her benefit.

I didn't fool her.

"You're not going to mope now, are you?" she asked.

I met her eyes, but didn't answer. There were no traces of tears, but they were still sad.

"I asked for this. I had an idea this would happen," she said, pressing more firmly into my chest. "Don't blame yourself. Blame me! It was insensitive for me to ask that of you."

I smiled genuinely this time. "I could never blame you."

Bella scowled at me and I chuckled to myself. "I wanted it too. Do you honestly think I ever want to stop kissing you when I pull away?"

She bit her lip and smiled. Her cheeks flushed instantly.

I ran my finger over the warm skin of her face before sitting up and standing off the bed.

"Any more talks with your mother that I should be ready for?" I asked as she moved over to the edge of the bed.

She stood on her knees and shook her head. Her deep brown eyes were level with mine. She looped her arms around my neck and played with the hair at the nape of my neck.

"Thank you for trying," she said sincerely.

My hands found her waist and I smiled back. "You're welcome."

"I love you," she said, voice full of emotion. "I love you more for trying."

I kissed her gently. "I love you too." Another kiss. "I love you more for asking."

Bella unhooked her arms and lowered herself back down on the bed. She tucked her feet under the sheets. "Goodnight, Edward," she said, looking up at me.

"Goodnight, my Bella."

I backed to the door and smiled at her once more before slipping back out into the hallway and closing it behind me. As soon as the door clicked in place I pulled the cell phone back out of my pocket to type a response to Alice.

"Thanks."

I barely had to wait three seconds before my phone buzzed in my hand.

"Always."

"What did you see?"

Another few seconds.

"More than kissing."

A/N - Thanks for all the love for chapter 1 everyone! I really appreciated hearing from you! I hope you enjoyed this much steamier, NaughtyWard chapter. I would have liked to do much much more, but I'm trying to keep it cannon. :D Depending on what you guys think I'm considering doing an Epilogue either on the plane, or back in Forks since that night in bed wasn't chronicled by Ms. Meyer. (hmmm...maybe plane AND forks?) Let me know your feedback! Thanks so much!