DISCLAIMER: I don't own Twilight as much as I wish I did, because trust me if I did Reneesme wouldn't have had that name.
HISTORICAL DISCLAIMER: I got the highest grade in my Anglo-Saxon History Class, and I love History, but I'm not a historian. So please forgive any mistakes I've made. They were out of ignorance and not made on purpose.
A/N: When I signed up to write a O/S for Fandom4Preemies I did so because I wanted to give something back. I was then overwhelmed with RL stuff (just finished College, and now I'm looking for a job for the first time ever) and to make matters worse I had the worst case of writer's block ever, when I was due writing this. So forgive me if this sounds choppy or not as good as what I usually write. I'm slowly getting over my writer's block now, but this particular piece was written over the span of a month, so it may be choppy. I ended up with more that I bargained for though, because I intend to make this into a multi-chaptered fic when Âme Soeur is complete. It won't be a long fic (5/10 Chapters) but it will be continued.
I would like to take a moment to thank ladymystyque & tg10781 for pre-reading this for me. Especially tg10781 who took the time to help me even though she was going through a lot of not-so-good stuff in her RL. She's truly an angel and I could never thank her enough for all of her help. Also, a big thank you to PTB (Project Team Beta) for making this grammatically correct. I appreciate the help like you have no idea guys. If you have the time, willingness, and skills to help please check PTB's webpage (link in my profile) and join their group of Betas.
Writers like me really need your help.
Also, a big thank you and squishy hug for everyone who donated to Fandom4Preemies. You gave those people more than just money, you gave them hope, and more importantly you are a testament that this fandom is not just full of drama, but of kind-hearted people who more than make up for the bad. I send you all my love and appreciation.
Without further ado,
Chapter 1: An Arranged Life
Edward paced his father's study raking his hair angrily. He could not believe the ludicrous conditions his late father had set on his will. He had to marry! No, not only did he have to marry. He had to marry someone with a title, produce an heir within three years of his father's death, and he couldn't even get a divorce. His father had seen to it.
His Grace Masen Cullen, Duke of Devonshire, was blessed with foresight both for Politics and Economy. Therefore, he had anticipated divorce being made available for the general public*. Knowing Edward as he had, he stipulated a clause in his will that even if Edward were to divorce he would lose everything in favor of his wife.
Duke Cullen had been a shrewd businessman, an Aristocrat, and in Edward's opinion, a snob. He disagreed with almost everything his son did, with the company he kept, even with the women he bedded. He couldn't even have a mistress without his father expressing his reproach.
How finicky could one be about mistresses really? As long as she was beautiful, knew how to please you, and was not clingy, she would be perfect. That was all you truly needed from her, Edward reflected as he stopped his angry pacing to pour himself a glass of brandy.
All the aristocrats and noblemen Edward knew had mistresses — some more than one — but not his father. His father had mourned Edward's mother ever since the day she died almost ten years ago. As much as Edward appreciated his father's devotion to the memory of his mother, he just couldn't understand how a man could go on for so long without the pleasures a woman could provide. Memories were nice to have, but they wouldn't keep you warm at night.
Now he was gone too, and instead of being free from his hold as he had expected, Edward was even more hard-pressed to follow his father's instructions. He couldn't risk losing everything, but where and how would he find a noblewoman willing to marry him as soon as possible?
He felt a pair of arms surround him from behind and the feminine scent that permeated the air around him revealed who the unexpected visitor was. The hot kiss placed on the nape of his neck only confirmed his guess.
"What are you doing here, Tanya?"
"I thought you would want comforting after the stressful day you had. It's not every day you bury your father and inherit a fortune," the woman replied, making a path with her lips from his ear to his shoulder.
Tanya had been his mistress for more than a year, and he was sure she was the main reason behind his father's authoritarian clauses. From the day his father found out about Tanya he had been hammering into him the importance of getting a proper wife: someone who could provide an heir, not a bastard. A lady, his father had said.
Edward had absolutely no intention of marrying Tanya or anybody for that matter. He wanted to enjoy his youth, and didn't understand why he needed to hurry. He was only twenty-two. He was a man in the eyes of his world, and many of his friends had been married for years, but that didn't mean he had to marry as well.
Life was to be enjoyed, not to be tied down.
"You know that I don't like it when you turn up unannounced. You also know that I have appearances to keep. My friends know of your existence, and of our tryst, but I don't want us to be the topic of the tattle of London. You must know your place, Tanya," Edward scolded. He wasn't in the mood to entertain his mistress, or accept her comfort. He needed to think, come up with a plan.
"Edward…" Tanya said in a breathy voice, trying to use her most seductive tone. She knew that Edward would never marry a woman like her, an actress, a whore in the eyes of his relations, but she hoped he would choose her as his one and only mistress. She knew that if she played her cards right she could be more powerful than whomever Edward married. So far she had been successful in keeping his attention focused on her, and managed to get rid of all the competition. However, the tides were rapidly changing, and she knew that it was up to her to ensure that no one took away her Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs.
"No, Tanya!" Edward said in a commanding tone as he disentangled himself from the woman's embrace. "Don't you see I need time to think? I'm sure by now your informants have told you of the conditions my father set on his will. I need a wife of noble blood, and I need to plot a way to get one as soon as I can manage."
Edward was perfectly aware of the fact that Tanya had a couple of his maids on her payroll. She needed to take care of her 'investment' after all. He did not fool himself into thinking that she loved him. Their liaison was one of convenience.
"But Edward, that's exactly why I'm here. Well, besides tending to your needs," Tanya replied in a sickeningly sweet voice, closing the distance between them. "I heard of your plight early this morning, and I immediately sought out all of my connections in London. I've found the answer to your predicament."
Edward narrowed his eyes infinitesimally. He pondered whether she was trying to gull* him or if she truly did have something in train*. How could she have found the perfect solution in such a short span of time?
"Please, enlighten me then, dearest Tanya," Edward requested in an equally sacchariferous* tone.
"Well, Edward, the minute I learned of your situation I asked around to some of my friends. You know most of them are friends with noblemen, and are quite close confidants of some of them."
Yes, Edward thought, 'confidants' more like mistresses who get information out of them in the throes of passion. "Yes, of course," he said out-loud in a sarcastic tone.
"Be it what it would,*"Tanya continued with a fake smile plastered on her face. "I found out that there's a certain Lady who's in dire need of a husband. She's perfect for what you need her for. Her father was Charles Swan, Earl of Bridgewater. I'm sure you've heard by now of the way he squandered his money over the last few years. He led a life far beyond his means, and as a consequence, his wife and daughter were left penniless after he passed away last month. The only thing they have to their names is their title, and the house they are living in, in Belgrave Square, which I heard will be taken away as well to pay for some of Lord Swan's gambling debts."
This news piqued Edward's interest greatly. He had, in fact, heard of Lord Swan's gambling habit, which only seemed to worsen in his last years. He was a well respected man, an aristocrat, but he lacked the vision his father had, and also made poor investments that had left his family practically destitute.
However, his daughter hadn't even crossed his mind. She had to be seventeen, eighteen at the most, and he also knew of Lord Swan's many influential friends. He guessed one of them would pick up the bills and help the Earl's widow and daughter. To know that they were in search of an advantageous marriage to save them from indigence just when he was in need of a wife brought him a sense of peace, the likes of which he hadn't felt since his father's solicitor had read the will.
"Do you know if she has any potential suitors?" Edward was eager to learn all the facts he could.
Tanya smiled genuinely. She had high hopes that if she helped Edward find the wife with title he needed he would maintain the relationship they had kept for the last year. "There's only one that could prove to be a problem. She doesn't have a dowry thanks to her father's poor investments, so not a lot of men are interested. However, I've heard that Jacob Black the owner of La Push Shippings is quite fond of Lady Swan and has requested her hand in marriage several times."
This information soured Edward's initial enthusiasm. He knew that the Swans had been great friends with the Blacks for generations. If Jacob Black had proposed, it was very likely that Lady Swan would accept at some point. Why hadn't she?
"You said he has proposed… Why hasn't Lady Swan accepted if they are friends and she's in need of a wealthy husband?" He asked Tanya, truly bewildered by the fact that Lady Swan was still single a month after the death of her father.
"Yes, I think he asked for her hand the same day of her father's funeral. Her maid is a friend of a friend, and she said that Lady Swan was quite angered towards him for his lack of sensitivity in regards of her recent loss. She also said that Lady Swan finds Mr. Black aggravating and she's repulsed by him, always has been. It's the maid's belief that Lady Swan won't agree to marry him unless she's completely out of options."
Edward felt elated hearing Tanya's words. If he was swift, and arranged a meeting between his solicitor and Lady Swan, he could reach a satisfying arrangement between them. He had never met Lady Swan, but he had heard great things about her. Although no one ever had called her a great beauty, he had heard some gentlemen saying she was a most agreeable and cultured young lady. That was high praise in the world Edward lived in, and he could not ask for more with the amount of time he had to comply with his father's conditions.
He suddenly walked to his father's desk and grabbed two pieces of paper in which he wrote very short notes before sending for a footman.
"Who are those notes for?" Tanya asked, intrigued by Edward's behaviour. She suspected it was related to Lady Swan, but she wanted to be sure.
Edward grinned, satisfied with the feeling of finally having a plan to solve all of his problems. "One was for my Uncle Carlisle. He's the executor of my father's testament. I need to discuss my possible wedding with him. The other was for my solicitor. I will send him this very afternoon to make inquires about Lady Swan. I want to draft an agreement that will permit me some freedom even if I'm married. I'm sure that if Lady Swan is presented with a legal agreement that will benefit her as well as her husband to be, she'll be more prone to accept my proposal."
"So you're proposing?" Tanya smiled salaciously, satisfied with taking this worry off Edward's shoulders.
"If she agrees with my conditions, and I agree with hers, I will."
"Perfect," Tanya purred, pushing Edward onto the sofa and climbing on top of him. "So are you relaxed enough now? Do you wish to release some tension still?"
"I can always do with some quick releasing before I meet with my solicitor," Edward replied in a husky timbre.
"Um… just what I had in mind," Tanya said in a breathy tone before planting a passionate kiss on Edward's mouth.
Bella was sitting by her window watching the rain fall. Just a month ago she had been sitting in the same spot listening as her father played the piano. When the music had suddenly stopped she had assumed her father had left to his room, or simply stopped to change the sheet of music. Sadly, the screams coming from her mother moments later had shaken her world to its foundations. It had all been so sudden; she didn't even have time to ponder in her lost until the next day. She was still in utter shock when Jacob Black requested an audience with her.
She had always despised him, thinking him conceited and authoritarian, but she had forced herself to tolerate him for the sake of her father. She knew, deep down, that they were facing economic problems. She guessed that had been the cause behind her father's heart attack. However, Jacob Black's confidence the day after her father's death, his winning smile when he had practically communicated they should get married, was the end of the rope for her. She had decided in that moment that she would rather starve to death than marry Jacob Black.
After a month though, her conviction was beginning to waver. They had to let go of several employees who had been with them since before she was born. Her mother was prostrated in bed sinking further and further into depression. All of a sudden, she had become the head of her household, when a month ago she was protected and sheltered.
Bella sighed heavily when she remembered opening the letter from the Bank this afternoon. They were about to lose their house, her only inheritance apart from her useless title, to the many creditors her father owed.
"My Lady," she heard her only maid left call from the door.
"Yes, Anne," Bella replied absentmindedly.
"There's a solicitor here to see you, My Lady. He says he comes on behalf of Duke Edward Cullen of Devonshire," the maid answered in a meek voice.
Bella turned to look at her maid in shock. What would Edward Cullen, Duke of Devonshire want with her? He was a notorious philanderer who had recently lost his father as well. She would imagine he would be too busy celebrating his inheritance in a house of ill-repute, or something of the sort, to bother with a poor girl like her.
"Did he mention what business he wishes to discuss with me?"
"No, he didn't, My Lady. He said it was most urgent and that you would be very interested in what he had to say on behalf of the Duke."
"Alright, show him in please," Bella said after a moment's hesitation. She was quite intrigued by this visitor, never having even met the infamous Edward Cullen. Briefly, she feared her father owed money to the former Duke, and now that he had received his inheritance he had sent his solicitor to collect the debt. She hoped with all her heart that was not the case.
"My Lady," a balding man who looked to be around his mid fifties greeted Bella. "I'm Mr. Jason Scott Jenks I'm here on behalf of His Grace The Duke of Devonshire." The man turned and eyed Bella's maid speculatively, probably wondering if she would stay and bear witness to his message.
"Anne, wait outside the door in case I need you," Bella commanded, wanting to have as much privacy as was proper for a single woman of her position.
"Yes, Madam," Anne, the maid, curtsied and left her mistress with the stranger. She was already planning how best to overhear the conversation for later gossip.
"Please take a seat, Mr. Jenks." Bella signalled an armchair near the fire. She noticed the man looked cold and she guessed the rain was icy, and the winds arctic.
Mr. Jenks was surprised by Bella's kindness. Dealing with the capricious Edward Cullen, he had learned to be wary of any shows of gentleness since they were usually followed by veiled insults when they came from him. Nonetheless, something about Bella exuded sweetness and grace, so he confidently sat and started to rub his hands in front of the fire before delivering his message.
"Madam," Jenks started, "My client has a business deal that he would like to propose for your consideration."
A business deal? What sort of business could a rich Duke want with an almost dispossessed noblewoman like me? Bella wondered but remained quiet allowing Mr. Jenks the chance to continue.
"You probably already heard of the death of His Grace's father. What I'm sure you're unaware of is the late Duke set a few conditions in his will that his son has to meet before he can take possession of his inheritance."
"I still don't understand how this is related to me," Bella interjected, puzzled by the direction in which the conversation was going.
"You will, My Lady," Mr. Jenks answered affably. "As I was saying, His Grace has to meet certain conditions to gain control over the assets his father inherited to him. The main one being that he should take a wife, but not just any ordinary woman, but a wife from a good family, and with a title."
Bella grimaced at hearing these words, for she could see where the proposition was leading.
"Thanks to the many connections His Grace possesses, he has been made privy of your current situation, Madam," Mr. Jenks continued, "His wish is to strike up a deal that can benefit the both of you."
"What would this deal entail?" Bella asked, aware that she was out of options, and she should take any possible solution into account.
Mr. Jenks smiled, his confidence bolstered by the fact that Lady Swan was still listening to his proposition. He thought that she would dismiss him as soon as he made reference to her precarious situation.
"His Grace acknowledges that it would be for their mutual benefit to arrange a marriage contract between you and him. He would comply with his father's conditions, and you would get all the funds you needed to provide for your mother, and salvage the assets you lost to your father's creditors."
Bella nodded, letting Mr. Jenks know that she was listening intently, and considering.
Mr. Jenks gulped. This was the trickiest condition of the deal. "The second condition the Duke set was that His Grace's new wife should provide him with an heir within three years of his death. So what His Grace proposes is the following: a quick wedding as soon as propriety allows, followed by a long honeymoon at His Grace's estate in Devonshire. You would be required to live with the Duke for the span of three years or until an heir is produced. After such a joyful event occurs, you would be free to do and go where you please, as long as you're discreet and the Duke's name isn't dragged through the mud due to your activities. You would have an annual stipend of fifteen-thousand pounds*, and you would be in charge of the education of His Grace's son."
Bella was stunned. The conditions weren't bad, and compared to the life she would lead were she to marry Jacob; this deal wasn't horrific. All she had to do was enduring her new husband for three years or until she was with child, and then she would be relatively free to seek her own happiness. However, she suspected the reason behind that clause was that the Duke wanted to maintain his fortune without having to change his habits. Thinking about the possibility of having a child wasn't completely unappealing to Bella. She loved children, and her dream had always been to have her own to rear, and to spoil, and to care for, the same way her parents had lovingly cared for her.
However, she didn't want to bring a child into a loveless marriage. She didn't want her child to feel unloved by his or her own father. As Mr. Jenks made it sound, the Duke wanted an easy out once she became pregnant, and possibly even maintain his current mistresses while they were trying for an heir.
Bella wasn't completely naïve, and she knew of some of the dangers linked to having a mistress, or worse, several. Her Aunt Lillian had died of syphilis, although no one ever dared to mention that word aloud. It was common knowledge that she had acquired it through her husband — an even more notorious philanderer than Edward Cullen.
Bella took a deep breath, and with as much conviction as she could muster, she addressed Mr. Jenks. "Mr. Jenks, if I'm to agree to this proposition, I have a few conditions of my own."
"Of course, Madam, I wouldn't expect anything else of someone of your stature. You must protect yourself," Mr. Jenks was quick to respond.
"I'm glad we understand each other," Bella continued, "I agree with His Grace's conditions if he agrees to mine. During the time in which we are trying to conceive, I wish him to abstain from visiting his mistress or mistresses whatever may be the case. I'm also not willing to take full responsibility for the child that our union may produce. I want him to be involved in his or her rearing, and education. I also want his word, that no matter what, or where he is, that he'll visit his son or daughter at least once a month, and on important holidays such as the child's birthday. I will take no excuses, and I will make sure he keeps his word."
Mr. Jenks was taken by Lady Swan's grace, and the decisive way in which she handled herself during the whole meeting. He was saddened His Grace wasn't a more mature and well-grounded fellow. This woman was too precious, and her finesse too grand to be attached to the Duke's scandalous lifestyle. Alas, there was nothing he could do but follow instructions.
"Madam," he said, standing up. "I will let the Duke know of your conditions, and you shall receive word from me tomorrow at the very least."
Bella did hear back from Mr. Jenks early next day. The Duke had agreed to all of her requests, although Bella could sense by Mr. Jenks' disposition and the bags under his eyes that it had taken some convincing.
Her mother had been appalled when she learnt of the proposition Bella had agreed to. Renee had had great hopes that Bella would marry Mr. Black, and was sorely disappointed to learn that she had decided to marry the Duke. He was a man with a very bad reputation, and even though he was practically part of the royal family, she was distraught just by the thought of her innocent sweet daughter in the hands of a brute such as Edward Cullen.
Bella let her mother know that it was her belief that Edward could not be worse than a man who proposed just after her father's funeral. Jacob was not the man Bella wanted, and she would take anyone over him.
Mr. Black had been equally appalled when he heard of the Swan-Cullen nuptials. He had called upon Bella to learn of the reasons why she greedily accepted Cullen's proposal when she had rejected several of his.
"You don't even know him, Bella!" Jacob had exclaimed.
"Mr. Black, I please ask you to refer to me as Isabella, or My Lady. I never gave you the confidence to use that nickname. That name is reserved for my friends, and to my mother. In regards to your question, I don't think I owe you a single explanation. We were never engaged, and I never insinuated I was interested in being engaged to you. In fact, I was very clear every single time you asked for my hand in marriage. In case you didn't hear clearly the first four times, my answer was always, and will always be no. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an appointment with a tailor to order my trousseau."
Before Bella had been able to leave her drawing room, Jacob had grabbed her by the arm and seethed in a low, menacing voice, "You will regret this day, Bella Swan."
Bella had seen the determination in his eyes, the hatred, and the way his eyes tinkled with malice when he pronounced those words. She had been scared, but not scared enough to waver in her decision. If anything, being married to the Duke would be enough to protect her and her mother from any type of retaliation Jacob had designed.
The wedding had been planned in record time, invitations sent, and preparations put into motion. It seemed like only yesterday that Bella had agreed to marry Edward Cullen. Now she sat in front of her window, like that day just a few weeks ago, waiting for the carriage that would lead her to her destiny.
She was wearing a white dress* made of rich satin, trimmed with orange flower blossoms. She had a headdress on, which consisted of a wreath with more orange flower blossoms, and over it she wore a veil of Honiton lace. Her dress was exquisite, fit for a Queen. She really couldn't complain in any way about the wedding she would have. His Grace had made sure she had all the resources she needed to make their wedding into the social event it was supposed to be.
Of course, he had left all the preparations to her and her mother. Bella hadn't even met the Duke yet; they had corresponded, but all their communications had been related to the wedding. Bella suspected he was far too busy enjoying his last bachelor days with one of his mistresses to bother with something as trifle as his wedding.
Luckily, at least Bella didn't have to deal with her moaning mother anymore. All complaints had ceased the moment their connections, and friends had started inviting them to the many events of the season.
They had practically been pariahs for the last month — ever since her father's death — and Renee thrived in the attention they were receiving thanks to Bella's wedding.
Even though there had been talk — mainly due to the expeditiousness with which the preparations were carried out — the Duke was so high up in the London society, that even if there was truth to those rumours Bella's reputation would remain mostly unscathed. After all, in the eyes of her peers, someone who was practically a Royal could do no wrong, and Bella as his bride fell under that category as well.
"It's time, My Lady, your mother sent me for you," Anne her servant announced from the door. Bella sighed and silently prayed for the strength to survive the wedding, and the marriage itself. She put her veil down over her face, and walked slowly, but steadily towards her destiny.
Edward was standing in front of the church's doors pacing nervously, and dreading what was to come. He was lost in his own thoughts whilst he waited for his bride. His bride, he thought bitterly. If it were up to him, he would still be in Tanya's bed, enjoying the pleasures of bed-sport, as he had been for the last couple of weeks. He would not be standing in a church waiting to be married to a complete stranger.
He cursed his father and his luck when he remembered the conditions Lady Swan had set to agree to marry him. He had been hoping to take Tanya with him to his estate in Devonshire, and place her in a house in town, where he could visit.
He still could have without Lady Swan finding out, if it weren't for his uncle's intervention. His Uncle Carlisle as executor of his father's inheritance asked to be privy to every single detail of Edward's wedding negotiations. Jenks, as the loyal lap dog he was, told him all about Lady Swan's conditions, thus Carlisle had proceeded to warn Edward that he would make sure he complied with each and every single one of them.
Now he was to be bound to a single woman for the next three years or so, and to a yet-to-be-conceived child for the rest of his life. She better not be frigid, Edward grumbled inwardly already predicting his miserable celibate nights for the next three years.
She has to sleep with you as often as possible if you are to meet the three year deadline your father set, his conscience reasoned.
However, in Edward's mind sleeping with someone that was like a dead fish was as good as not having sex at all. He had been unfortunate enough to be drunk out of his senses one night, and slept with a society lady.
She was a widow so she wasn't a virgin, but apparently she was so uptight she only used sex with him to lure him in. She didn't enjoy it, and as a consequence, Edward didn't either. He imagined his wedding night like a déjà vu of that night with the widow Cope.
His cogitation was interrupted by his cousin Emmett walking up the steps of the church with a middle-aged woman in tow. Emmett had been waiting on the street with his Uncle Carlisle for the arrival of the bride, whilst Edward paced the corridor angrily.
Edward soon realized that the woman that companied Emmett must be his bride's mother. He groaned; that meant the time had come for his doom.
"His Grace," the woman greeted with a small curtsy.
"Please, Madam. Call me by my given name. We are to be family after all, and my family calls me Edward," he said in a gallant tone. There was no reason why he should make his life any more difficult than it should be. If he could win over his mother in-law, he was certain that he could charm his bride as well.
"Oh, thank you, Edward. Please call me Renee," the woman replied with a cadence of voice that Edward was sure was meant to be bashful, but actually sounded quite the opposite.
"Of course," Edward was interrupted by his uncle walking up the steps with his cousin Alice, and Emmett's fiancée Rosalie.
Since his bride had no close relatives left, Alice and Rosalie were acting as her bridesmaids, and his Uncle Carlisle was going to be the one giving her away. His cousin Emmett and Alice's fiancé were his groomsmen.
He took on the sight of the woman he was to be married. He couldn't make out her face, which was obscured by a heavy veil of lace, but he could still appreciate her curves. He was pleased to see that she had an attractive figure, and hoped she had a face to go with it.
She walked past him and stood in front of the closed doors with his uncle next to her. From where Edward was standing behind her, he could smell her sweet perfume. For a reason he couldn't comprehend, he felt an urge grow within him to lean closer and drown in her scent.
It was an odd sort of feeling that Edward fought against. He didn't like to feel out of control, even in the slightest.
Everyone proceeded to take their positions: Edward's uncle and his bride at the front of the procession, followed by Edward and the bride's mother, and the groomsmen and bridesmaids respectively paired up behind them.
Once the music started, and they walked slowly into the church, it all seemed to pass in a blur. Soon they were standing in front of the altar exchanging vows of everlasting love and fidelity that neither of them meant.
Edward could not see his bride's expression, and surprisingly it bothered him. When the moment to place the ring in the appropriate finger came, he grasped his bride's hand delicately, and an electric pulse ran through his entire body. He heard Isabella gasp, and he couldn't help but imitate the action.
He even felt somewhat dizzy. He was not a sickly person, and this whole episode disturbed him deeply.
He placed the ring on her finger, and they were pronounced husband and wife.
Bella was standing in front of a huge mirror in her new bedroom's dressing room.
My new bedroom, Bella sighed despondently.
Once the ceremony had concluded, Bella and her new husband had skipped the traditional reception and lunch. They left for Edward's manor straight from church. Bella's entire luggage was already there for the trip they would embark onto the following day.
They had been planning to use some of Edward's urgent business in his country state to explain the rushed wedding, and the lack of a reception. Fortunately, for Bella's reputation, when you had enough money no one questioned your actions. So no one asked too many questions about the uncharacteristic swiftness of the event and the subsequent trip.
Bella had been filled with dread from the moment she descended the steps of her coach. She feared the situation, and what could go wrong.
She imagined a scenario in which she would lose her strength and started sobbing in the middle of the ceremony. Or one in which Edward kissed her and the kiss made her feel disgusted.
Edward had not even kissed her at the end of the ceremony.
Thanks to God's grace, he had spared her the kiss on the mouth, placing a chaste kiss on her cheek instead without even lifting her veil. Even through the fabric of the veil, she had felt small tingles forming under the warmth of Edward's lips and spreading throughout her whole body.
It wasn't an uncomfortable feeling, and this made Bella more and more apprehensive about what expected her at night in Edward's bed.
Before she laid eyes on him, she had been certain she could force herself to sleep with her husband and provide him with an heir.
However, once she had seen his green eyes and handsome features up close — not across a ballroom like she had seen him in previous occasions — a new fear had been born in Bella's heart. A fear that whilst being Edward Cullen's wife, she could lose herself and fall for the philandering Duke.
She could not allow her heart to become a traitor of its mistress' happiness. She knew without a doubt that falling for Edward Cullen would be the biggest mistake she could ever make in her life.
Bella looked down at her nightgown and felt her face grow warm. She knew she was blushing, and her assumption was confirmed when her gaze returned to the mirror in front of her. Her cheeks were flushed, and they made a stark contrast with her white nightgown.
Her mother had picked out her attire for the wedding night when Bella showed no interest in the subject. It wasn't revealing or improper. It was an elegant gossamer nightdress, with a lace bodice, accompanied by a soft and very long robe made of the same material.
Nonetheless, Bella felt naked in it. She had never shown so much skin, and she knew that she was about to show much more once she walked through the threshold that separated her from her bedchamber.
After much stalling, she decided it was time to face her fate. She had come this far, and she knew that part of her agreement included an heir — the most important part of Edward's father's conditions. She would just have to live through the experience with as much calm as she could.
She squared her shoulders, and with new resolution opened the door that was keeping her apart from her biggest fears.
Edward had been in his study ever since he arrived home with his new bride. He had some final matters to wrap up before he could take an extended leave from London and go back to his childhood abode.
He loved his house in Devonshire, and even though it was a bit ostentatious and grand, he had never felt more at home anywhere as he did there. He missed the gardens dearly, gardens in which he took long strolls with his mother. He missed the Lake in which he spent long summer afternoons fishing with his father. He missed his old bedroom, and his horses. Things that he had taken for granted at one time, and now he was able to appreciate in the whole scope of their significance.
After a while pondering these things he looked at the longcase clock near the door and realized how late it was. His wife was probably already in bed, and he couldn't believe he had, for the first time ever, unconsciously stalled the opportunity of being intimate with a woman.
He felt an unease creep into his insides, twisting them, making him nervous. He had never had problems performing, nor had he developed feelings of anxiety before the act. However, he was invaded now with insecurity and fears.
Fear that he would hurt her, for he knew she was a virgin and he had no experience with virgins. Fear that he would not make her feel good before he reached his climax. An idea he found ridiculous, because even though he wasn't a selfish lover, he was never overly concerned about the pleasure his partner may or may not get from the act.
He finally concluded it was just fear to the unknown for she was still a stranger to him.
He had yet to see her face since she hadn't lifted her veil during their carriage trip, and had immediately locked herself in his bedroom's dressing room after their arrival. It was now almost five in the evening, so she had spent at least the last three hours alone in his bedroom.
Could she have gone to bed already whilst I was making these last minute arrangements for our trip? Edward wondered.
He gave orders for a light supper to be sent up, accompanied by the finest wine they had in the house.
Even though, she had to lay with him and perform her wifely duties, Edward had every intention of wooing his wife to make the experience as comfortable as possible. He wasn't a cad, and in spite of his many vices, his mother had raised him to be a gentleman.
He ate his own supper in the solitude of his study, preferring to give his wife a small reprieve in which she could enjoy her dinner. He only ascended the stairs once the maid climbed down carrying the empty dishes.
He knocked on the door before entering. He wanted to show his wife that he was respectful of her space, even though it was technically his room.
"Come in," a shy but melodious voice replied from the other side of the door. The hairs at the back of Edward's neck stood in attention in reaction to Isabella's voice.
He had heard it when they exchanged vows, but she had spoken so very little in the carriage on the way home, he had convinced himself he had imagined the effect her voice seemed to have on his body.
He walked slowly into the room, and saw Isabella sitting by the table in which supper had been served, lightly sipping on a glass of wine.
"Oh," she gasped when he entered and almost spilled her wine when she tried hastily to set the glass down. "I thought it was the maid… I didn't know… I didn't think…"
Edward was too stunned to give much importance to his wife's stumbling words.
She was beautiful. No, Edward corrected himself; she was a goddess. Edward had never seen such beauty in his entire life.
Her soft, refined features, the shape of her mouth, the soft pinkish glow of her cheeks, the cherry tint of her lips, the soft curves her nightgown hid beneath layers of gossamer, it all called to him. She drew him like a siren's call. He had never felt this attracted by a woman's beauty in his life, but he was too overwhelmed by his feelings to ponder on this fact.
"I thought you would spend the night in another bedroom," Isabella finally was able to utter.
Edward blinked; confused about why his siren would think he would spend a night away from her. Especially when all he could think about was how soft her curls looked and how he wished he could touch her chocolate tresses to test if they were as satiny as they appeared.
"Why?" he asked unable to formulate much more than that.
"Um…" she hesitated, "You took so long, and you let me have dinner by myself, I just assumed…" she trailed.
Edward tried to recover his composure before replying, "I was just taking care of some last minute business. Sorry I kept you waiting."
Bella gulped; her mouth parched all of a sudden when Edward slowly approached her. He stood right in front of her and offered his hand for her to stand. She carefully placed her hand in his and with shaky legs rose from her seat.
Edward's scent was intoxicating. It made her dizzy but not because it was a bad odour but because it was too good. He smelled like a mix of various spices, and fruits. It was such a perfect mix she could only recognize some notes of bergamot, lavender, and myrrh. She wasn't used to men, but she knew most of them smelled quite foul, and only bathed once a week.
Her mother had been raised by a Greek nanny, who growing up in the countryside had learned to take a bath at least every other day. Thanks to Renee's nanny, Bella had inherited a love for French fragrances, bath salts and frequent visits to the bathtub. Edward was obviously of the same belief.
"Did you enjoy your dinner?" Edward asked in a breathy voice that made Bella's shaky legs feel like they would collapse under her weight.
"Yes, thank you. It was delicious."
"I'm glad it was to your liking. I didn't know what food you prefer, so I sent up one of my favourite meals." Edward caressed the apple of her cheek lightly, making Bella's face turn puce. Edward already adored her blush.
Her skin is so very soft, Edward mused. I wonder if she's soft all over.
Instinctively, and before he could stop himself, he placed a chaste kiss on the spot his fingers had been caressing. Her skin was so soft on his lips, so warm, her smell sweet and intoxicating, freesia with a hint of strawberry. He nuzzled his nose against her jaw and circled her tiny figure with his arms. He heard Isabella gasp and felt her body stiffen in his embrace.
"Isabella, please don't be scared," he whispered in her ear. He used her given name trying to make her feel more comfortable, even though he should have called her Mrs. Cullen. "I want you to enjoy this. I know we know very little of each other, but there's no reason why we have to make this experience into a chore. I promise you that if you let me lead that if you trust me, you will learn to like it."
Isabella nodded against his chest and said in a small voice, "Call me Bella please, only my mother calls me Isabella when she's crossed with me."
Edward smiled, acknowledging the small concession Bella was giving him. Bella, he thought, such a fitting name.
He pulled back and looked her in the eyes, trying to infuse gentleness into his gaze. He knew she was scared, and he felt the need to reassure her.
"Bella," Edward said in the kindest tone he could manage. "We were both thrown into this marriage by happenstance. We needed each other for different reasons, and I won't pretend that, in anyone's eyes, your reasons were by far the direr. You are a brave woman, I can already grasp that from your actions, and I truly wish you are able to enjoy sharing a bed with me. I'm sure it won't happen tonight, but I hope that, in time, we can be more than strangers, I wish I could call you my friend someday."
In truth, after having seen her, tasted her soft skin, and delighted in her soft perfume, Edward was sure he wanted to be more than Bella's friend. However, he was unsure of what was driving him, physical desire perhaps? He was not going to promise eternal love when just a few days ago he would have scoffed at the mere idea of such a concept.
Bella felt much better after hearing Edward's words. From the rumours she had heard about him, she had expected a brute, a despot that would use her for his pleasure, never taking her feelings into consideration. The Edward standing in front of her, however, was acting like a gentleman. She felt comforted by his words and hopeful about her future.
She didn't know what to reply. She was touched but still quite apprehensive about the whole situation. Thus, she only nodded and lowered her chin to look at the ground.
Edward sighed, he really hoped that his speech would be enough to make the situation less awkward. He knew that realistically it would take more than his words to gain Bella's trust. He would show her with actions that he intended to be a kind husband to her. He really wished to have a peaceful coexistence with his new bride.
He put a finger under Bella's chin, and forced her with his touch to meet his eyes.
"Trust me," he pleaded.
"Okay," Bella replied with a more firm voice. She could do this, somehow, she knew she could do this, and she took strength in this knowledge. Where would she start? She knew very little of what happened in the bedroom between a husband and a wife.
Her mother had taken her aside last night and told her a bit about the subject. Bella had been so embarrassed listening to her mother talk about the extra parts men had, and what her husband would do with them to her body.
She had told her that her first time would probably hurt, but if her husband was gentle and kind it would only hurt for a while. She had also mentioned that depending on how generous her husband was it could even feel good, although Renee was also realistic and told her not to expect too much of the act. Apparently most men were not kind and were actually quite selfish in the bedroom.
"What do I have to do?" Bella asked meekly. She truly was lost when it came to this subject. Her mother had told her to take pointers from her husband, so that's what she would do.
Edward suddenly felt very warm. All of the women he had lain with were experienced in some way. He had never bedded an innocent before, and though the thought scared him, as he had already concluded, what he hadn't predicted was how aroused the idea of being the only man ever to touch Bella like this made him feel.
He felt sick to his stomach when he realized that he would only be the first if their agreement played out as they had drafted it.
He had basically given her permission to have as many lovers as she pleased after she provided him with an heir, as long as she was discreet about it.
That future didn't sit well with Edward now that he knew his bride. A part of him — a very selfish part of him — was already planning ways to have the conditions in the arrangement changed. He greedily wanted to be free, but keep Bella at the same time. He wanted her to be his — no one else's.
Clearing his mind of things he couldn't change or fix at the moment, Edward decided to concentrate on Bella's question.
"Lovely Bella, let me lead, and I'll show you we can make this work for our mutual benefit," Edward said in a hoarse voice, delicately kissing Bella's soft cheek.
"You'll see that this act can be enjoyable, and you may even learn to like it," he continued kissing Bella's jaw with feather-soft gentleness, and untying the knot that kept Bella's robe in place.
Bella's heart was thumping loudly inside her chest. Her bosom rose and fell with the excitement of what was to come. Fear laced her heart, but something foreign to Bella's innocent soul was slowly burning her from the inside.
She felt warmth flowing through her veins, heating her flesh, taking over her senses. Edward's touch was the spark which coming into contact with Bella's fiery skin ignited her whole body.
"I'll make sure you don't ever regret sharing your bed with me," Edward whispered kissing from her jaw, to her neck, to her clavicle. He slowly lowered a strap of her nightdress, leaving her shoulder bare.
"I'll make sure you don't ever regret sharing your body with me," he continued kissing her now bare shoulder and making a path of slow-burning kisses towards the spot behind Bella's ear. A spot that was incredibly sensitive much to Bella's surprise.
"She's beautiful, and therefore to be wooed; She is woman, and therefore to be won*," Edward murmured softly, directly into Bella's ear. Her whole body shivered at the rawness she could hear hidden behind the beautiful Shakespearean prose. However, before she could ponder on the wild feelings his voice unleashed in her whole being — his lips were on hers.
His lips were soft but hesitant, yielding but demanding. His tongue caressed her lips and sought entrance. Bella surprised herself by readily granting it.
Their tongues danced as Edward's hands explored. Bella didn't even notice when her nightdress pooled at her feet, leaving her exposed, bare. For, she had already bared more of herself than she even realized at that time.
Edward was in haste to dispose of every single article of clothing that kept his skin apart from Bella's. He wanted to have her supple body pressed against his. He was desperate to feel her unencumbered skin, to stroke it and memorize its texture.
He hungered. He was famished, thirsty, dizzy, and lost.
Bella was his food. Bella was his wine. Bella was his air. Bella was his compass.
Thus he sought her out.
Soon they were laying in bed, naked and innocent like Adam and Eve on their first day in Eden.
For, they were both innocent to the feelings that were sweeping them away much like the tide sweeps away the sand on the shore. They were drifting into an uncharted territory, away from themselves, and towards each other.
"Ummmm…" Bella moaned when Edward's lips wrapped around her nipple while his other hand kneaded her unattended twin. Deep in the recesses of her mind there was an inner voice that was calling her out for the indecent way in which she was acting. Telling her that the wantonness with which she welcomed Edward's touch was beneath someone like her, but she didn't care.
Edward hissed when Bella, in her excitement, brushed her leg against his ready member. His hiss sent a rush of cool air against Bella's wet puckered tip which consequently sent a jolt of electricity to Bella's nether region.
She couldn't even think the anatomically correct words for that part of her body — even though she had learned them from a biology book her father had kept in the library — but she was unashamed enough to moan quite loudly when the feeling spread through her body.
"Oh, Bella, Bella, Bella," Edward said, kissing her body in an upwards motion. "So responsive, so beautiful, and innocent. How I long to show you the things I can make your body do."
Bella was too incoherent at this point even to consider Edward's words anymore. She felt his hand travel from her belly to those parts she couldn't think of. She didn't resist; resistance was futile. She let him have his wicked way with her. Even though that inner voice, which sounded a lot like her grandmother's voice, was yelling at her and calling her a trollop at this point. Bella's thoughts were focused on Edward's hand, in its movements and the pleasure she was gathering from it.
Edward inserted two of his fingers into Bella, and he groaned deeply at the velvety wetness that tightly encased his appendages. His thoughts immediately flew to the neglected appendage that was demanding to take the place of his fingers.
No, Edward chastised himself. First her pleasure, then yours.
He didn't even stop to think how unnatural these thoughts were for him. He moved his fingers and found the spot that would make her cry out in ecstasy.
Just as he had predicted, the moment he started to massage the soft spot inside Bella, she started moaning and writhing like a snake in the hot sand.
Her sounds, her movements, they were like a symphony to him. His siren was glorious.
Suddenly, like a summer storm that lights the skies with thundering clouds leaving blue skies behind when it clears. Bella exploded into a thousand pieces, her body undulating with the strength of her climax until she dropped in bed, feeling as if her bones were made of jelly*.
Edward was quite proud of himself. He had done this. He had given her this much pleasure. Her pleasure before mine.
He waited until she was calm, until the skies cleared, and the shocks of lighting stopped within her body completely, before climbing atop her.
He waited until she regained enough of her senses to feel the tip of him pressing on her entrance.
She opened her big brown eyes, and her gaze was the anchor he needed to keep himself grounded whilst he took the next step. The step into the abyss of the unknown.
"Ugh!" he breathed as if in pain when he finally entered her. His gaze never wavered. He kept his eyes glued to Bella's gauging her reactions.
She briefly closed her eyes, and bit her lower lip when he broke through her innocence. However, as soon as she recovered she reopened them, and met his verdant gaze with her coffee one once again.
Like the waves coming to the shore with a synchronized rhythm he moved within her. Feeling her in every ridge of his body, in every pore, in every breath.
When he met her, he couldn't believe her beauty, but the beauty of her under him, her hips moving in tandem with his. There weren't words to describe it.
He had had sex many a time. He had tasted the forbidden fruit of sexual pleasure more times than he could remember. But here above this innocent girl, a virgin before he took her, he experienced the kind of blinding bliss he could only compare to the release of your soul in the moment you die.
He feared he was dying when he felt himself floating, higher, and higher, until he fell, like a ton of bricks and much too soon to his liking.
He lay atop Bella for a few seconds or for an eternity until he was able to move his body again.
"Bella, are you okay?" Edward asked worriedly, trying to assess the state of his bride.
"Perfect," Bella breathed in a sweet voice and gave him a blinding smile.
"Perfect," Edward replied and gave her an equally blinding smile of his own.
He quickly removed himself from her body, hissing at the lost of her warmth, and walked to the washstand that was hidden behind a screen in a corner of his bedroom.
He had requested they filled the washstand with hot water because he knew that his wife would need to be soothed after the act.
When he returned he found Bella covered with his coverlet with her face turned away towards the wall.
"Bella, what's wrong?"
She slowly turned to face him, and he was shocked when he saw her eyes were red, and her cheeks stained with tears.
"What's wrong, Bella? Did I hurt you?"
Bella shook her head.
"I thought… when you left…" she hesitated, but she had said enough to make Edward realize the reason behind her tears.
"Oh, Bella," Edward said pulling Bella's body close to him. "No matter what happens in the future, don't ever doubt that this was the best night of my life. I very much enjoyed myself, and I hope you did too, at least during the first part."
"I did," Bella replied shyly.
"Lay down," Edward commanded. He lifted the coverlet once Bella obeyed, and revealed her nakedness.
"What are you doing?" she asked in a panicked tone, ashamed now that she was conscious that she was bare.
"Taking care of my wife," Edward replied simply as he began to clean her thighs with the warm, wet cloth he had in his hand.
Even though she felt self-conscious about it, Bella let him take care of her, and whilst he cleaned her, she admired him in his true beauty. He was beautiful in the classical sense, but he had a much kinder, much more ethereal kind of beauty hidden inside of him. She could tell.
Once he removed the signs of their lovemaking from his wife, Edward disposed of the dirty cloth. He then lay down next to Bella, and cocooned her in his embrace while she slowly surrendered to Morpheus.
In the dead of the night, when not one sound could be heard in his household, and the moon shone light through their window, Edward lay in bed watching his wife sleep. She looked like an angel, glowing and splendid under the moon's rays.
He had gambled away his heart and lost it to the sweet, innocent girl he was holding, even though he didn't consciously know it yet. His heart betrayed his mind though. Thus, he felt a pang in his heart when he thought about the possibility that she could already be in the family way, the key to her freedom from him. For the first time in his life, the last thing he wished for was freedom.
Please delete all the extra spaces on the links.
Divorce in England* The 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act allowed ordinary people to divorce. Before then, divorce was largely open only to men, and had to be granted by an Act of Parliament.
Source: http : / / bit . ly / dHFcav
Gull* fool, trick.
Something in train* something being considered or planned.
Be it what it would* in any case, be it as it may, whatever the case.
Fifteen-thousand pounds* that's approximately £1,420,000.00 in Today's Value using the GDP deflator.I used that deflator in Economics when I took it in College, you can Google it, just don't ask me to explain the math of it to you. Pretty Please…
Bella's wedding dress* http : / / bit . ly / gEGxAX
Wedding Church* http : / / bit . ly / i5ytwN
Bella's Nightgown on her wedding Night* http : / / bit . ly / gCZvP4
Sleepwear Victorian Era* http : / / bit . ly / dOxg1i
Henry VI Part 1 - Act 5, Scene 2* She's beautiful, and therefore to be wooed; She is woman, and therefore to be won.
Jelly* It's common jello. http : / / bit . ly / aVCyUQ