AN: I've been away from the fanfic world for way too long now. Hopefully this dive will not land me on my face. This is a 2-part fic; 2nd chapter forthcoming.
Many, MANY thanks to my dear friend Eowyn77...she beta'd this story too many times to count. She keeps me coherent :) But if there are any faults, they are strictly my own.
Stephenie Meyer owns all...but I own the shoe (you'll see!).
This was heaven, and I was floating on a cloud. An angel's cool fingers softly ran through my hair as his ethereal melodies swirled in rich, baritone cadences around my being.
Okay, so my head was lying in Edward's lap, resting against his outstretched marble-hard legs with my hair fanned out around me. And he wasn't really a cloud—there was no mistaking that. But his majestic face sparkled behind my eyelids. Vampire pillow aside, this was still my heaven. Alone with Edward. Close enough to my happy place.
We had spent the entire afternoon in his bedroom, testing out my wedding present to him: a new sound system. It had taken him all of one second to unwrap the box and another two to read the user's manual. He was like a kid at Christmas as he installed the sleek, futuristic-looking apparatus while rattling off all of the various capabilities and updated features compared to the previous model. Even if he hadn't been talking at that nearly-indecipherable speed he sometimes spoke at, I still wouldn't have understood a word. I had just asked him to show me how to change the radio station and gave up.
With a blur of motion, Edward loaded the CD deck to capacity—it held 100. Once he was satisfied with his playlist, he had proceeded to sprawl out on the floor, pulling me down with him. He was still as giddy as Alice in an haute couture boutique.
At first he had been surprised that I had known this brand and model was the best money could buy. I'd glowered at what was hidden behind his choice of words—he knew how I'd paid for it. That blasted credit card. I only used it because it was his present. Not for me.
My good mood was slightly deflated as I grumbled that Emmett had helped me pick it out, completely ignoring his smug grin and the way he was trying to charm more of a confession out of me.
Emmett, it turned out, was just as obsessive with state-of-the-art technology as Edward was. Good thing, too, because I was clueless when it came to electronics. My twenty dollar boom box suited me fine, thank you very much. But, I knew Edward would like it, and I liked listening as he played his favorite music for me—educating me he called it—so, the decision had been an easy one. So, too, had been the timing of when to give it to him. I specifically decided upon a couple of days before our wedding because it felt less...embarrassingly cliché than traditionally waiting until the day of.
Before the first song had finished, he had enthusiastically thanked me until my heart was racing and a not-so-subtle blush covered me from hairline to toes. Much to my ego's delight, he hadn't been completely unaffected either. From that point on, though, he had contented himself with alternating between playing with my fingers and combing through my hair.
From time to time, he became so absorbed in the music that his eyes would shut peacefully as a serene smile transformed his already glorious face. He would play piano melodies fluidly across my arm. It was magic when he moved, watching his fingers dance gracefully in patterns and rhythms too complex for my understanding.
His tranquility was contagious, and I let my eyelids droop shut, wondering if maybe he'd learned some of Jasper's talent over the years.
I was happy that he loved the stereo; and spending time with him like this was a gift in return. I could handle this kind of gift.
Only two days to go, I reminded myself with an inward shudder, until this whole ridiculous wedding business was over. And then...and then...I would never have to be apart from him. Ever. My happy place unfurled endlessly into my future.
Lost blissfully in my daydreams, I exhaled contentedly and heard Edward inhale in response. He was breathing me in. Savoring as I was savoring. The thought tugged at the corners of my mouth.
"What's so amusing?" he murmured, stroking my hair again.
My heart did a strange dance. Of course he would hear it, even over the music, but he didn't say anything. He was more interested in my verbal response at the moment.
I opened my eyes lazily and stared straight above me. Though I knew what I would see, Edward's perfect face still dazzled me senseless. He was unbelievably beautiful. In a hopeless attempt to steady my pulse, I intensely studied the little flecks of ocher in his honey irises and how just below his left pupil was a speck of bronze that perfectly matched his hair. Unable to help myself, I reached up and brushed back a lock that had fallen over his forehead. This wasn't helping at all.
"Bella..." he whispered again, unable to keep a slight tenor of frustration from surfacing. His piercing eyes searched my expression.
So impatient, even when it was his fault that my brain short-circuited in his presence. My smile grew—I loved that he wanted to know every bit of me as possible.
Bringing our intertwined right hands up to rest on my stomach, I teased, "I was just thinking about how you can't resist me."
His face lifted in amusement, too. "Hmm..." He gazed at me, pensive.
After a few moments, he brought his left hand to my face and caressed his fingertips lightly across my cheekbones, down my neck, across my shoulder, and the length of my arm. Goosebumps shimmered across my skin in the wake of his touch. He then slowly lifted my left hand to his lips—more goosebumps—and kissed the ring on my finger.
His expression was playful, but his eyes smoldered with intensity. "That's very true," he admitted unashamed. "I can resist you as well as the earth can refuse to orbit the sun. However," my breath caught as he flashed my favorite crooked smile, "I like to think that the feeling is mutual." He traced the outline of my lips and chuckled as my body responded mutinously.
Though we had been touching for hours on end, the few inches between us were now more than either of us could bear. Edward had me cradled against his muscular chest in less than a second. Our lips united in ways that by now were so familiar, but just as exhilarating and wonderful as the first time he'd kissed me. At least I had the fainting part under control now.
Just then, my cell phone started ringing. Edward groaned slightly as his body and mouth released mine simultaneously. Our ragged breathing was identical, and the pulsing in my ears was enough to drown out the background song's percussion line.
I pressed closer to him and wove my fingers hungrily through his hair. I wasn't done exploring the physics of our gravitational force. "I'll let it go to voicemail," I whispered against his neck. He effortlessly pulled himself away as my face reflected my thoughts in a pout.
"You're very adorable when you sulk." The velvet in his voice was trying to placate me, but it was useless. My body was throwing a tantrum for more than just that.
I glared at him. "I'm glad you get a kick out of this. You're a sadist." The last line came out much harsher than I had meant it to. Still, he was completely aware that being the responsible one was my job now.
Bringing my wrist up to his face, he skimmed his nose across the pulse point. "No, love. I'm a masochist." Then, putting more distance between us, he rationalized, "But, back to the matter at hand, it could be Charlie. It might be something important." His tone told me I wasn't going to win this battle. To further emphasize his point, he muted the stereo.
Defeated, I crawled across the floor to my purse and yanked the offender out of the side pocket. I punched the "send" button to answer and barked, "Hello?"
Stunned silence. "Umm...hi, Bella. Are you okay?" The familiar voice on the other end was obviously hurt.
Guilt instantly dumped over me like a cold shower. "Hi, Mom. Yeah, I'm fine." I coughed to clear my voice of its roughness. "I was just...really into a movie I was watching. You know, big scene and all." My cheeks burned with the lie. I caught Edward's eye, and he winked deviously. I stuck my tongue out at him. Childish, but such were my defenses at the moment. Reduced to rudimentary playground antics.
Stupid vampire dazzling.
"Oh!" She sounded reassured, her normal happy-go-luck self again. "Sorry to bug you. At least you can always rewind and watch the part over."
I risked another glance at Edward—he could hear every bit of Renée's side of the conversation. He arched an eyebrow invitingly.
I was about to chuck my purse at him when Renée changed the topic. "So, the reason why I called is because Phil and I are on the plane, but we're still waiting to leave the gate. One of the other passengers got sick. We'll be landing a bit later than we thought." It was painfully obvious where I got my bad luck from. "The captain said that it was going to take the paramedics about another fifteen minutes to get here. I just hope they serve some pretzels soon. I'm starving!"
Phil muttered something in the background, but she ignored him. "Anyways, I wanted to let you know so you wouldn't show up at the airport too early, and so Esme and Alice would know when I would be there to start helping." To my utter horror, she sounded as excited about all the wedding crap as my extremely lovable, but at the moment, extremely annoying, future mother- and sister-in-law.
I groaned. "Esme and Alice really don't need another accomplice. At the rate they're going around here, you'd think that Charles and Diana were getting married all over again!"
Edward chuckled. My grip tightened on my purse. Or maybe a shoe would be better...
"Oh, just get over it already, Bella," she snapped. It was my turn to be shocked. Renée hardly ever took that tone with me. She continued on before I could respond. "This is what you want for yourself, to spend your life with Edward. Just be happy that you figured it all out this early before you made any mistakes."
By "mistakes," she meant her mistake. Charlie. Almost twenty years had passed since she'd married him fresh out of high school, and she had never hid the fact that she still regretted it. I knew that she had found what she was looking for in Phil, that now she was finally happy. But I couldn't resist feeling protective of Charlie. He still loved her.
I sighed. This day had been so perfect. I didn't want to put a damper on it. "Look, you're right. I am happy with Edward. Really happy. I still can't believe that he wants to marry me. I guess I should stop my whining and snatch him up while he's still willing to say 'I do.'"
Cool arms wrapped around me tightly from behind as his lips brushed my hair. "Forever," he whispered fervently.
"Sounds like a good plan." The smile had returned to my mother's voice. Hoping to keep up the good mood, I "ooh"ed and "ah"ed as she started describing the dress she had bought for the wedding, how she was going to do her hair, her makeup, how good Phil looked in his tux, how the lady across the aisle was smart enough to pack her own snack...
Rosalie knocked on the door at some point during the conversation. Apparently Alice needed Edward downstairs. He got up, tossed the stereo remote on the bed, and started towards the door. I envied the way he made simply exiting a room a divine act.
"Hurry back," I mouthed, certain that at even that level, he'd understood me.
He paused at the doorframe, grinning mischievously. He puckered his lips in a kiss, though whether it was more for my benefit or Rosalie's annoyance, I couldn't be sure. Regardless, Edward seemed pleased when Rosalie made an exaggerated gagging sound and then mumbled something about needing to throw up before shoving him down the hall.
"Bella, did you hear me?"
My mind had been busy contemplating what they were all up to down there. Something wedding-related that Dante would have seen fit to include in his ninth circle of Hell.
"Sorry, Mom. What did you say?"
She sighed. "I just wanted to give you the flight number again. You know, just to make sure you all have it, that it didn't get lost somewhere." Her intonation started to sound panicky.
With Alice and Esme as my wedding planners, there was absolutely no way any detail—especially not the mother-of-the-bride's flight information—would lay forgotten by the wayside. But, my mother still didn't realize that not everyone misplaced things as often as she did.
I knew her panic would escalate into full-blown anxiety if I didn't play along, so I said, "Hmm...hang on just a minute. I can't seem to find anything to write with."
My purse was a dead end. My eyes scanned Edward's bedroom and landed on the small bedside table. That looked promising. Opening the drawer, I quickly found what I was looking for.
"Okay. Shoot." The post-it quickly filled with my messy scribbles. I repeated the number back, just to keep up the charade. After a couple more minutes of light chatting, her plane was ready to taxi and we hung up. Edward was still downstairs.
As I opened the drawer again to put the pad and pen away, something caught my eye. Shuffling random papers out of the way, my fingers closed around a small wooden box.
I sat on the bed to examine it more closely. It was so beautiful, so delicate. Unable to help myself, I let my index finger trace the inlaid white flower and intricate vines that patterned the top. I smiled—just like Edward. Old fashioned, but timelessly stunning.
Curious, I gently lifted the lid. To my delighted surprise, a soft tinkling filled the silent room—it was a music box. My vision blurred with tears as I recognized the tune of Debussy's "Claire de Lune." We had just listened to it this afternoon in fact, and Edward's expert pianist fingers had flitted over my arm. It was one of our favorites.
And then my breath caught. Nestled in rich sapphire-hued velvet and tied with white satin ribbon lay a lock of dark hair.
A thousand questions and thoughts instantly flooded my brain. Is this...? How in the world...? Why...?
It was a lock of my hair.