A/N: Sorry for the delay in this chapter. I had a mental block with it, so I hope you enjoy! Huge thanks to my wonderful beta, Jenny Cullen, aka Jenrar for her assistance. You are awesome!
The drive back to the Chicago area was much more… talkative. Now that Edward had assured Ben that his mother would not be leaving him again, he had been much more talkative and affectionate toward Bella. Every time he had given her a precious hug, his wonderful scent would drift up to her nose, and she would taste it on her tongue.
But that was as far as it ever got. She could not even envision allowing her imagination full reign around Ben, because just the mental picture of her doing anything to hurt him – let alone kill him – was enough to make her metaphorical blood run cold.
Though being in an enclosed vehicle with him caused her physical pain, she denied herself even the thought of what could happen. It was all mind over matter, in her opinion, and she would not do anything to put her son in danger.
Now, she had a much healthier and stronger respect for what Edward had gone through with her while she had been human. If Ben had sung to her as her blood had to Edward… She shook her head at the thought.
"Mommy? Do I get my own room?" Ben asked, setting his coloring paper aside.
Bella turned around in her seat, twisting the seatbelt with her. She no longer needed it – indestructibility was a new trait – but she wanted to set a good example for Ben. "You sure do. Your daddy and I decorated it while we were in Chicago working."
Ben's molten brown eyes were wide. "How?" he whispered.
"It's a secret," she whispered back.
Edward laughed silently, causing Bella to giggle, the musical tinkle filling the car. Finally, things in her life seemed to be going the right way.
"I don't like this room," Ben said, his teddy bear clutched in one hand, while he stood in the new bedroom that Edward and Bella had prepared for him.
"Why not?" Bella asked, surprised.
They had painted the room a soft beige color and decorated it using a baseball theme. It was completely different from his room in Jacksonville, which had been part of her planning. She was still trying to erase any memory he carried from Florida.
Ben stood still, looking at the ceiling. "I just don't. I wanna 'nother room."
Bella inhaled deeply for patience; however, her senses were then flooded with her son's scent. Underneath, she could still detect the scent of fresh paint and wallpaper glue, but his floral scent was overpowering those.
She was thirsty. It had been several days since she had fed, due to the move. When they said I'd be a slave to my thirst, they weren't kidding, she thought, looking down at her son with eyes she knew had to be a flat black. She needed to feed, and he smelled so good…
"Mommy? What'sa matter?" Ben asked, his own brown eyes wide and filled with innocence.
Bella gasped. What the hell was I just thinking? "Um, Daddy will be right here," she said, before fleeing the room.
Edward met her on the stairs, his eyes wide. "What happened?"
She shook her head. "Thirsty," was all she managed to choke out while passing him on the stairs. She had to get out and feed. Now.
Edward let her go and made his way to Ben's new room. "What's up, buddy?"
"I don't like this room. It feels funny."
Edward sat on the bed and pulled Ben into his marble embrace. "What do you mean? This used to be my room when I was a kid."
Ben turned his head around, his brown hair glistening under the light. "Really?"
Edward nodded. "Sure was. Did you know that I grew up in this house?"
He shook his head. "But it's old."
Edward laughed loudly. "Yeah, it is. Come on, and I'll show you some stuff."
Ben took Edward's hand, and they walked out of the room together and down the steps. Edward took him into the parlor first. "This was where my parents would entertain guests when we lived here."
He looked at Edward in confusion. "Whatcha mean?"
Edward explained how society had functioned back in the early 1900's. He knew that Ben currently had no sense of time; however, with him growing up around the vampire set, he knew that eventually Ben would understand his true age. He just hoped it did not freak him out.
Then again, it had not bothered his mother, and they were very much alike.
He took Ben through the whole house, regaling him with stories from when Edward was a child – at least, the ones he had not completely forgotten. He worried about Bella and the chance that she might forget Ben's childhood from her human years. He had encouraged her to write them down before they became too hazy, especially the ones he had not been there for.
Edward stopped at his father's roll top desk – which was now an antique. He ran his hands over the polished mahogany that looked and felt like silk. He sat in the accompanying chair and pulled Ben up into his lap.
"This desk belonged to my father," he told him. "He would sit here and work, at times, after he would get home from his office. He was a lawyer."
"What's a lawyer?"
Edward placed a kiss on the top of his head and explained simply what his father had done.
"Where's he now?" Ben asked.
Edward sighed and held Ben a bit closer. "He's in Heaven with my mother. He died a long time ago."
Ben solemnly hugged him back. "Sorry, Daddy. I had a goldfish once that died. I was so sad, and me and Mommy had a fun'ral for 'im."
"Did you bury him?"
Ben shook his head. "Nope. Mommy said fish get buried at sea, so we flushed him."
Edward held back a chuckle. "Would you like another goldfish? Do you think that would make your room better?"
Ben's chocolate eyes lit up. "Yeah!" He started bouncing up and down in Edward's lap. "Can we go now and get 'im?"
Edward stood up, lifting Ben easily in his arms. "I think we need to wait for your mom, pal. She might want to go with us."
Ben sighed. "'Kay."
Bella snuck out of the city and began running North. She was planning to head into the wilderness once she got past the Wisconsin state line. She and Edward had hunted there many times while they had been in Chicago and had found the area full of mountain lion and whitetail deer.
Her thirst was so powerful that she slaughtered the first animal that came by, draining it dry. Once her thirst had been satiated, she began to replay the thoughts that had run through her mind with Ben.
She was a terrible mother; that was the only logical conclusion she could come up with.
She had actually, for a split second, had a vision enter her mind of her killing her own son. She truly was the monster Edward had feared.
Edward. If only she had listened and delayed her change for a few more years, maybe things would have been different. Maybe not. But now she would never know.
She decided to drink from one more animal, in the event that Ben's scent became too potent for her. Once the deer was drained, she buried the carcass and began running back home; however, she kept slowing down, until finally, she was walking at human speed.
For the first time in her life, she dreaded going home.
Had Ben seen what she was about to do? Had he seen the flat blackness of her eyes and known what that meant? Or would he have been a willing sacrifice to her thirst, much as she would have been for Edward, had he asked.
No. She thought he was too young to understand what had just happened. There was a far more fundamental reason why she did not want to go home.
She was ashamed.
She knew Edward would not hold any blame on her, and for that, she was grateful. But she was afraid that in the back of his mind, he would know that he had been right all along.
Bella began to pick up her speed, knowing she was only delaying the inevitable. She needed to see with her own now liquid gold eyes that Benjamin was safe.
After a quarter of an hour, she arrived on the outskirts of Chicago and began to meander through the streets to their house in Oak Park. It was dark outside, and she knew that she was in a part of the city that was not known for its security.
She was not afraid. She knew she was the most dangerous thing out, regardless of any weapons that may have been carried by some of the more dangerous people who were out and about.
She had walked a few blocks, when a man stepped out in front of her. She stopped and sighed. She had made a vow not to kill another human after her slip up at the beginning of her conversion, but did this count? Hopefully she could just scare him into running away.
"Excuse me," she said coldly, danger thrumming through her words.
The man hesitated back a step, but then decided to pull a switchblade knife on her. "Where ya goin', doll face?"
Did she just fall into a mobster movie? "None of your business. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think you'll find things will go much better for you."
He grabbed her arm. "I said, where ya goin'?" he growled out.
Bella leveled her eyes on the man, who flinched at whatever he saw there. She let out a deadly growl from deep in her chest and grabbed the man by the throat, easily throwing him into a bunch of trashcans in an alley.
"And I said, none of your business."
Bella felt empowerment flood through her as hazy memories of the abuse she'd suffered at Eric's hands flashed through her mind. She need never be scared of any human again, and Edward would be there to help her with any immortals that might cross their path. She was free.
At the thought of Edward, she turned again toward home and quickly picked her way through the city, arriving at their new house within moments. She stood outside and listened, hearing Ben's steady heartbeat. From the sounds of his breathing, he was asleep.
Guilt washed over her again at what had happened, and she opened the front door, her head downcast.
"Bella?" Edward called, causing her to giggle hysterically a bit. She knew that there was no one else to whom he had to ask that question.
"Yes, it's me."
He was instantly at her side. "How are you?" His angelic features were twisted into an expression of worry.
She sighed and slumped against him, allowing him to support her weight. "Better. Not thirsty, at least. How's Ben?"
"He's fine; he's asleep. Why?" he asked curiously.
Bella scrubbed her face with her hands. "Did he say anything about me scaring him or anything like that?"
Realization dawned upon his face. "No, he just said he didn't like his room, but after I told him some stories – that I could remember – of growing up here, he did fine with it. But he didn't say anything about being scared."
"Oh, thank God," she mumbled. "All of a sudden, I was so thirsty, and he smelled so good… I was so scared that I would hurt him."
"Ah," Edward mumbled in understanding. "Well, he's fine, so don't worry." He brushed her wavy, long hair back and planted a soft kiss behind her ear. "You know, he is asleep," he hinted, placing a kiss on the other side.
"Mmmm," she murmured, wrapping her arms around her husband, understanding that he was trying to distract her. "Why don't you lock the front door, and we'll go upstairs."
Edward turned the deadbolt, keeping Bella in his arms. "Tell me about your hunting."
She laughed humorlessly. "I felt starved; I drained two bucks and almost one human, but I held out and just threw him into the trash," she said, laughing at her own private joke.
Edward became serious, immediately. "What happened?"
She recanted the story for him of how the stranger had grabbed her in the darkness, how she knew what he had planned for her, and how she was able to use her new powers to scare him and protect herself.
He growled. "That slime touched you?"
Bella laughed lightly. "It was his mistake. I warned him, but I didn't kill him. He was just so scared that he passed out."
Edward pulled her face up to his roughly, his tongue sliding along her bottom lip. "He dared touch what was mine?"
She shook her head. "I should have known not to tell you."
He pulled back, his hand still clamped around her jaw. "Why?"
"Because you always freak out, even though I can now protect myself."
"Sorry, but old habits are hard to break," he murmured, skimming his lips across her smooth skin. "Ben's still asleep," he hinted.
"Mmmhmmm," she mumbled, wrapping her fingers through his bronze locks and pulling his face to hers. "Then what are we waiting for?"
Bella and Edward had been able to explore each other freely while in Saskatchewan, but once they had returned to their family, they had not been able to touch each other, for fear that they would bring attention to themselves from Ben – and possibly tear the house down around them all.
But enough was enough.
Bella lifted herself up and wrapped her legs around Edward's waist, feeling his sudden erection through her clothes. "Let's go upstairs," she whispered, licking around his mouth, wanting him to open to her.
Edward groaned and pressed her gently up against the wall, being careful to not dent the plaster. "Fuck upstairs," he growled, causing Bella to moan.
She supported her weight on the wall and dropped her hands to unbutton his pants, trying to free him from the confines of his clothing. She wanted him… now.
Edward had the same idea and was busy loosening her clothing. He set her on the floor of the foyer and pulled her pants off, watching with dark eyes as she pulled her shirt over her head. "You are so beautiful," he murmured, skimming his fingers over her exposed flesh.
They suddenly heard Ben flop over in his bed, his breathing hitching for a moment, which suddenly brought them back to Earth. Bella gasped. She was practically naked in the foyer for anyone walking by to see, along with Ben, if he came out onto the landing.
"Oh, my God," she whispered at their state of undress.
Edward let out a soft laugh. He scooped her up, along with their so-far discarded clothes. "Bedroom," was all he said, as he ran them up the stairs and into their new bedroom, complete with a huge, King bed. He laid her upon the bed and began peeling the remainder of her clothing off.
Bella immediately put her legs over his shoulders, pulling his head toward her center.
He knew what she wanted, and he was only more than happy to oblige. He ran his tongue over her underwear, moaning at the taste of her. He ripped the flimsy garment off of her and placed his mouth over her most secret place.
The idea that no one else had ever done the things he was currently doing to her was enough to drive him crazy. It also did not help that Bella was moaning and thrashing on the bed, her fingers pulling almost painfully at his hair.
When his tongue entered her, she growled out his name, her voice almost feral. It drove him wild.
"Now, Edward, please," she begged, pulling him up to her and attacking his mouth. "Please, I need you, now."
He dropped his boxers in one easy move, and within a second, he was sheathed inside of her, her walls clamping down around him. For him, it was better than even human blood. Nothing compared to the feeling of Bella contracting around him.
He thrust into her hard, over and over, keeping one hand braced on the bed and the other over her mouth to keep her screams from waking Ben up.
Suddenly, she seized up, her entire body going rigid, his name falling from her lips. That was all it took, and he emptied himself inside of her, growling out her name.
When they had milked every ounce of pleasure from the other, they lay on the bed, a tangle of legs and arms wrapped around each other. They both came down from their high long enough to listen for Ben's breathing, which was still even and soft.
"At least we didn't wake him up," she panted, continuing to plant small kisses down Edward's beautiful face.
"We're getting better, then," he replied, earning a small giggle from her. On the occasion they had stayed in a hotel in Joliet, before returning to Forks, they had received several complaints from their neighbors.
He stroked her hair back from her face, her stone features smooth, yet her breathing still accelerated. "I love you, Bella. So much."
"I love you, too. But as much as I'd love to lie like this forever, we'd better get dressed, before Ben gets up and finds us like this."
Edward laughed and removed himself from his wife. "Yeah, and we almost gave the neighbors a show, as well."
"If they were watching, they were disappointed that we moved, whether they want to admit it or not."
"Kinky," he teased.
"You'd better believe it," she said seductively.
Edward abandoned his clothing and returned to his wife on the bed. Ben would sleep for at least another hour.
They could be quick.