DISCLAIMER: I don't own Twilight as much as I wish I did.
HISTORICAL DISCLAIMER: I love History but I'm not a historian. So please forgive any mistakes I've made. They were made out of ignorance and not on purpose.
Many thanks to my PTB Betas: GetDrunkOnVictory and SqueakyZorro, you rock!
The light of morning brought clarity and anxiety to Edward's mind. As he lay in bed he contemplated his newly discovered feelings towards his wife. He had come to the conclusion that his love for Bella had been brewing inside him ever since he met her. He had never felt this way before, needed anyone as he needed Bella. Many doubts were clouding his thoughts, and he was genuinely scared of risking his heart to win over his wife's. He needed an outside opinion; of that much he was sure.
The only person he could think of who could provide him with sound, unbiased advice was Jasper, Alice's fiancé. He knew from what he had heard in London that Jasper had been considered one of the biggest rakes in all of England. He had led a life of debauchery of such proportions that even though he was a marquess, he was considered unsuitable and undesirable as a marriage prospect. Not that the matrons who rejected him as a potential son-in-law had the same kind of scruples in bedding the man they considered objectionable for their offspring.
When Jasper had shown interest in his young, sheltered cousin Alice, his aunt had refused to allow him to call on her precious daughter. He didn't fault his aunt for this decision; in fact at the time he had supported it. However, in time, Jasper had managed to convince everyone who mattered that he was fit to be Alice's husband.
So far, Lord Jasper had shown no signs that his devotion for Alice had diminished one bit, and his comportment had been almost saintly. No further scandals had ensued after the announcement of their engagement was made, and he had surprised the ton by showing an uncharacteristic devotion towards his fiancée.
How had Jasper accomplished such a feat? How had he convinced Alice, and more importantly her parents, that he would be a most faithful and devoted husband? Moreover, how had Jasper changed his ways in such a short amount of time?
Edward had had his fair share of lovers and scandals, and he couldn't fathom leaving that life behind as easily as Jasper seemed to have. Could he really cut off ties permanently with those women, all for the sake of his love for Bella? Could he be strong enough not to fall into his old ways again? Liquor, women, gambling, all were so easily accessible to men like Edward. With such temptation close at hand, could Edward trust himself to make promises to Bella—promises of love, faithfulness and devotion—he wasn't sure he would be able to keep?
Edward realized now—in the light of day—that there was one thing he feared, and it was promising his wife things he wasn't yet sure he could fulfil. Faithfulness, love, and commitment were foreign concepts for Edward since he was naught but a boy. How could he make himself worthy of Bella's trust and win her heart?
He decided he would consult Jasper in this matter. Jasper had proven a loyal friend to Edward in the short time they have known each other. Surely he was the one who could help him gain the confidence he needed to proceed with his plans in regards to his marriage.
With this new conviction, Edward called for his valet to start the day.
As much as Bella had tried to crush the feeling of hope blossoming in her heart, it only seemed to ignite and grow like a small fire would when fed by the driest twigs.
During breakfast, Edward had been more attentive to her than in all previous occasions. He had kept light conversation with her, asked her a few more questions about her life before they married, and even suggested she write to her mother so that she would not worry over her only daughter. Bella doubted Renee would worry when only a few days had passed since they last saw each other, but just the fact that Edward had concerned himself with her comfort and her mother's peace of mind had warmed Bella's heart. She wanted to smother these tender feelings towards her husband. They would only lead to pain, she decided.
They spent most of the day riding, as they had the day prior. To Bella's joy, Edward shared even more of his childhood with her. In return, Bella told him about her father, how much she had cared for him, their shared hobbies and ideas. She shared everything she felt brave enough to discuss about a subject that was still a sore wound to her soul.
Edward told her about his relatives, his uncle, Lord Carlisle, his aunt, Lady Esme, and his cousins, Emmett and Alice. He even proposed they pay a visit to their country estate, a short forty-minute carriage ride from the manor. Bella, whose family had been composed of her father and mother with only a few distant cousins to speak of, found the idea of a big family reunion positively glorious. She had had the opportunity to speak to Edward's family during the wedding, but she had been so nervous she could barely remember a word of what was said.
She remembered that Alice was a lively girl, and Emmett was a very kind and affable sort of fellow. Edward's aunt and uncle were too occupied making sure the reception was perfect as it befitted a man of Edward's rank, so Bella barely remembered them.
They had settled on a visit the next day to take advantage of the good weather and Bella was looking forward to the distraction.
Night seemed to bring the worst of her fears. Edward had tacitly left the decision of when they would resume their marital relations in Bella's hands. He had implied that he would only proceed when she felt comfortable with him. The problem with this was that even though her body craved the closeness and the intimacy she had experienced with the act, her mind fought with confused thoughts and feelings that plagued it.
Dinner was tense at best. The rapport Edward and she had established seemed lost and Bella didn't know how or what to say to lift the cloud of uncertainty that had fallen over them.
Edward seemed hesitant, keeping the conversation shallow. It was as if he could sense Bella's uncertainty.
Bella recognized that she needed to order her thoughts and feelings and proceed with the course of action that was best for her. They still had approximately three years before the deadline set by Edward's father was met. However, Edward's title was entailed*, and she had no guarantee she would give him a son on the first try. The matter of a male heir was of some urgency if she really considered it.
Bella drank from her wine glass to settle her nerves. So what would it mean to her if she decided to lay with her husband again as soon as this very night? How would she even go about letting Edward know she was ready? Was she ready?
While Bella tried to clear her mind and decide on what to do, Edward was having an inner conflict of his own. He had decided that after the fiasco of their first night at the manor, Bella would have to be the one to make the first move if they were to lie together.
However, he had failed to consider two very important factors: Bella's naïveté about sex and his own desires. He had not needed to take matters in his own hands—so to speak—ever since he was a young boy. There was always a willing body nearby to provide him with the release he craved. He had never had to wait or curb his desires. Now he found himself waiting for a girl, who had been a virgin not a whole week ago, to initiate matters. How he had thought that was a wise idea, he couldn't understand.
He feared that if he depended on Bella, he might have to wait a whole year or even more. What was worse, he desired Bella like he had desired none other before her, which made the situation even more pressing.
He had requested their supper be delivered to the anteroom that united their bedrooms. There were no servants attending to them tonight, and Edward cursed himself for his decision since their privacy seemed to put even more tension between them.
He had hoped he'd be able to be patient and allow Bella to set the pace, but seeing her sitting across the table from him—beautiful and tantalizing in a simple blue dress that enhanced her natural endowments— was testing his strength.
How could he resist her when she sat there looking delicious? Her porcelain skin seemed to glow. Her dark eyes—though guarded—sparkled. Her lips were cherry-red and just as appetizing. He felt as if it was taking all within him not to jump over the table and attack his wife like a wild beast.
Maybe he could cajole Bella, tempt her as she was doing him, so that she would make a move. There was only so much a man could take before going mad with lust.
"Are you enjoying dinner?" Edward asked casually.
"Very much," Bella replied as she nervously bit her lower lip. It was a habit she had when she was feeling anxious, Edward surmised, and it drove him insane. He wanted so badly to bite on that lower lip. He had to suppress a groan before he could continue.
"Have you tasted strawberries as delicious as these before? Mrs. Newton has them specially brought from a nearby farm. They are the best in the country I believe." Edward grabbed one of said strawberries from a platter and dipped it in cream before taking a bite.
Bella gulped. There was something about watching Edward's lips wrap themselves around the fruit, before taking a bite of it that made her stomach flutter and all the muscles in her lower belly tighten.
"Do you like strawberries?" Bella asked in breathy voice. Suddenly the air around her seemed hotter and her eyes were glued to Edward's mouth as he chewed.
Edward swallowed before replying and Bella was utterly distracted by the movement of his Adam's apple. She felt a curious urge to climb on his lap and lick his throat until he was moaning.
"Yes, it's one of the few fruits I can tolerate. I don't enjoy sweets very much, but I like the flavour of strawberries. It's very sweet but a little tangy as well." He wanted to add that it reminded him of her taste, the first night when he spent several glorious minutes between her thighs, but he refrained.
He needed to approach Bella like a fox would approach its prey. He needed to be stealthy and not obvious and blunt with her. He had scared her off once before with his lack of control that had resulted in their first fight. No, he needed full control over himself if he wanted to lure Bella into his bed and still maintain the pretence that she had made the first move.
He needed to become irresistible to her.
"Do you have a favourite dessert, Bella?"
"Not really. Like you, I don't enjoy sweets very much. I suppose chocolate; anything made with chocolate is completely mouth-watering to me."
"I shall instruct Mrs. Newton to make a chocolate cake for tomorrow's dessert," Edward declared with a smile.
"Oh, there's no need to go to any trouble—" Bella started but was interrupted by Edward's hand wrapping around hers.
"It's no trouble," Edward said simply.
Bella blushed profusely, touched by his gentleness with her and aroused by his closeness. He was such a mystery that she wondered if she ever would get to understand him entirely.
On the one side, he seemed like a lost boy. A boy who, having lost his mother at a very young age— and with a father too wrapped up in his own grief to care for him—had sought refuge in the escape he could garner from his many flings. On the other he seemed like a predator, a man so sure of himself he exuded the sexual pull women found irresistible. She wasn't sure which Edward she preferred; the boy looking for love or the predator who craved sexual pleasure. She guessed she could learn to love both.
And then there was that word, love. She wasn't sure love could be involved in their relationship at all. She wanted to block it, stop it from happening, but ever since the first time they were together— as man and wife— it had been slowly filling up her heart. As much as she wanted to flee from such feeling, Edward made it impossible for her not to embrace it, albeit reluctantly.
How could one love someone who hasn't been taught how to reciprocate it? How could one love someone who would break your heart at the first chance?
After that sweet moment, they spent the rest of their meal in silence, both submerged in their own thoughts.
It was the second night Bella had to spend alone in her bed. She had only spent her wedding night with Edward but it had been so magical she couldn't fathom she'd be able to endure many more lonely nights like this.
She craved Edward's company at all times. However, due to the way she was raised she had no idea how to broach the subject of their intimate relations. How did women of ill repute seduce gentlemen like Edward?
No, she couldn't allow herself to think of them. It would bring the memories of the maid to the forefront of her mind, and that was the last thing she needed.
Bella sighed heavily. The fact remained that she needed to discover a way to make it known to her husband that she was willing to resume their marital relations.
Bella sighed again and buried her face against the pillow, trying to drown her thoughts and manage some sleep. Edward had asked her if she would be okay with visiting his family the next day. He had said they had a house not far from the estate, so they would just spend the day there and return home in time for supper. At first, Bella was relieved she would get to meet the people who were important in Edward's life. Now however, she was beginning to feel the first stirrings of nervousness wreaking havoc in her mind.
So many questions were swirling in her mind along with her concerns about how to approach Edward about the subject of marital relations. She was finding sleep impossible.
When she allowed herself to breathe deeply she heard faint music that seemed to come from downstairs. She knew there was a piano downstairs but couldn't imagine who would be playing it so late at night.
Curious, she grabbed her robe and wrapped herself tightly with it. She descended the stairs as if in a daze, as if her very own Pied Piper of Hamelin* was summoning her with the hypnotizing tune.
She opened the door and stood on the threshold, watching as Edward's fingers flew over the keys. He had his eyes closed and the faint lightning in the distant clouds cast an eerie light in the room, making him look like a creature from fairy tales.
Bella shivered, both from the cold of the hallway and from the deluge of feelings invading her heart at the sight of her husband playing the piano so spellbindingly.
After the song came to an end, Edward remained quiet with his eyes closed, breathing deeply as if he were sleeping. Bella wondered for a second if he had fallen sleep.
Suddenly, a clap of thunder made the floor tremble, and Bella shrieked in fear, drawing Edward's attention to her.
They locked eyes for a few seconds until another thunder broke their connection. Edward walked steadily towards his wife, as a man who had reached a decision, and grabbed her in his arms.
Before Bella could utter a word, Edward's lips descended upon hers and silenced anything she'd planned to say.
His kiss was fierce, infused with an energy she had never felt in any of his other kisses.
It wasn't fast or deep; it was slow and gentle but full with something, some indescribable emotion that made Bella's stomach flutter and her arms automatically wrapped around Edward's neck.
Their tongues tangled in a subtle caress, reacquainting each other like two lovers would after a long time apart.
Bella's breathing was fast, impended by the kiss and the emotions that were brewing inside her.
Edward's harsh groan brought her slightly back to reality, enough to hear the words he later whispered in her ear in a ragged voice.
"Please… please don't ask me to stop."
It was a plea wrapped in a promise, a promise so sensuous Bella couldn't resist it.
"I won't..." she replied in an uneven voice.
Bella felt as Edward picked her up and she enfolded her arms tighter around his neck, never breaking the connection between their lips.
Before long she was in her bed, the same bed that had seemed cold and lonely a few minutes ago. Now it felt soft and warm with Edward's body atop hers.
Slowly, Edward's fingers untied her robe and removed the item entirely. Bella's fingers worked equally as fast in ridding Edward of his shirt and trousers. Before long, they were both naked, skin to skin, writhing together with unspent passion.
"Your skin is so soft," Edward whispered as he proceeded to show Bella the extent of his appreciation by worshipping every inch of her body.
Bella moaned loudly as Edward's mouth wrapped itself around her tender nipple and sucked, making her feel a pleasure so primal she couldn't believe it was real.
She heard herself utter sounds that were so animalistic she could not comprehend she was the one making them. So much desire, so much…so much everything.
Time seemed to stop while she was in Edward's arms like this, and she could not imagine a life in which this was not hers to have. These feelings of sheer happiness and want, she couldn't imagine herself relinquishing them once they succeeded in conceiving the much sought-after heir. She closed her mind from such thoughts and decided to live in the moment, in Edward's caress.
Edward's hands touched her in ways that made Bella's skin light in fire. His touch was electric, his kisses intoxicating.
"I want you so badly," he whispered in Bella's ear as she felt his manhood press at her entrance.
Bella's eyes opened momentarily, and she met Edward's gaze, her own eyes full with desire.
Edward's eyes were filled with an emotion Bella could not comprehend, but the feelings it stirred in her soul were strong and heady.
Could one's soul reach outside one's body and wrap itself with another's soul? It seemed as if in that moment that possibility was real, for Bella's spirit felt entangled with Edward's as their bodies were.
"I need to be inside you," Edward said as his mouth descended upon Bella's in a soul-searing kiss.
Slowly, tenderly, inch by inch, he filled her until there was no space between their bodies. They both gasped, shocked by the sheer power of their connection. It seemed as if each time they lay together the pull between them became stronger.
Bella clenched her eyes shut as Edward began to move within her. Her fingers tangled in his hair as her legs tangled around his waist. She felt as if a slow-building flame was igniting between them, where they were joined.
"Edward," Bella panted as the flame became a fire and her whole body arched in delirious rapture.
Edward grunted his pleasure against Bella's neck when it became too powerful to keep at bay. Never before had he felt such bliss, such unbelievably powerful ecstasy inside a woman—and he had had his fair share of them.
Enveloped in Bella's scent, wrapped within her body, drowning in her essence, he knew without a doubt that he would have to find a way to become a better man for her. She deserved only the best. She deserved to be worshipped as the precious being she was.
Bella could not comprehend how her whole world could shift so dramatically, so swiftly. Not a whole month ago she was still grieving her father's death while she attempted to find a way to keep her mother and her out of a workhouse. Now she lay in bed, wondering what the odd warmth building inside her chest was.
When Edward placed a kiss against her neck that caused her to tremble in delight, and when he tightened his hold against her body, making the warmth grow even stronger, she knew. The worst had happened. She had fallen in love with her husband.
Thanks for all the ongoing support, reviews, favorites, etc. I'm still shocked anyone finds this remotely entertaining and I'm very thankful to everyone of you for taking the time to read this. I wasn't able to do review replies, but I figured a new chapter would make you happier than a reply. I hope I was right.
(1) To fix (a person) permanently in some condition or status entail him and his heirs unto the crown — Shakespeare
Some titles/property in England were/are entailed to the male heir. Meaning that even though some assets could be inherited by any one of the sons or daughters, the entailed title/property could only pass to the eldest male heir. In the case of this fic, Edward would still be able to inherit the family fortune to his daughters—if he only had female heirs. However, if Edward and Bella want the title to be retained by their children they would need a male heir. Otherwise, the title of Duke and the properties attached to said title would pass to Edward's eldest male relative upon Edward's demise. In this case that would be his uncle Carlisle and/or Carlisle's son Emmett.
(2) There are many versions to the story of the Piped Piper of Hamelin. The one I was told as small child was that there was a rat infestation in the town of Hamelin and a man was hired to lure the rats from town. He lured the rats using the magical song from a flute. However, once the man did the job and got rid of the rats the townspeople refused to pay him for his services. So, as revenge he lured the town's children from their homes one night, and the children were never seen again. As a grown up I found out it's actually based on a true story, although the cause behind the Hamelin's children disappearance is not clear. Some think the Pied Piper is a metaphor for death luring the kids away.
(3) In case you were wondering which song Edward was playing in the piano he was playing Etude in E major Op.10 No.3 by Frédéric Chopin (a song also known as "Tristesse" (Sadness) or "Farewell (L'Adieu)."