Twilight and its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.
So much love and thanks to arfalcon for all her help and for believing in me from the start. Hugs to m244rob and MeilleurCafe for tons of encouragement throughout. And thanks to Kirsten for the spark.
Surrounding me, embracing me.
Browns of winter, greens of spring, and everything in between.
Nature's colors, more vivid than any artist's palette.
Every hue made more beautiful by Isabella's presence.
She brightens the yellows, enriches the blues, outshines the golds.
Illuminates my existence.
As I hope I do hers.
Today we set out into the forest, the muted shades of winter giving way to the cheerful pastels of spring.
A perfect day for a lesson.
"Close your eyes. Listen. Tell me what you hear."
Isabella does as I ask. She lets out a sigh and tilts her face to the sky. Her brow knits in concentration as she takes in the symphony of the forest.
"Several different species of birds. Twigs snapping. Leaves rustling. Water." Her eyes open suddenly. "Footsteps."
"Man or beast?"
"Out here? I would assume beast. "
"Don't assume, determine."
She closes her eyes again and inhales the crisp March air.
"Excellent. Now, how many?"
"Does it matter?"
She cocks her head to the side, eyes fixed on an unknown point above.
"Two," I say, shaking my head.
"How will I ever distinguish?" A hint of frustration tinges her voice.
"That will come with time and experience. The exact number isn't always important, but it is to your advantage to know what you're up against." I reach for her and pull her to me; I can't be without her touch for too long. "Anyway, I don't plan on letting you out of my sight long enough for you to worry about that."
"I need to learn how to take care of myself, Edward," she says, trying to wiggle out of my grasp, her face indignant.
"I know you do, my love. But I like taking care of you, too."
Isabella stills in my arms. She reaches up and touches my cheek, her gaze tender and loving.
"And you did take care of me. Just as you promised."
I tighten our embrace as memories of the past few months flood my mind. The torturous days and nights waiting for Isabella to awaken. The agonized cry she let out before she opened her eyes, confused and frantic with thirst. Tormented by the knowledge of what she was suffering, the sound of her anguish nearly drove me mad. I was physically weak as well, refusing to leave her side, my own thirst inconsequential to her well-being. Before she regained full consciousness, I managed to stumble into the woods, fighting hallucinations and weak limbs, to catch several rabbits and a young fawn. A paltry hunt, but enough to subside both our thirsts and lull Isabella back into a sleep-like state, giving me a little more time to regain my strength before she fully awakened.
She has taken to her transformation remarkably well. It's been three months since Isabella's change, but she's yet to interact with a human being. On a recent walk in the woods, she caught her first scent of human blood, faint and far away. Not so much to cause her discomfort, but enough to catch her attention. Her reaction was one of longing, so I'd like to give her a little more time to adjust before reintroducing her to society.
"Edward?" Isabella's voice pulls me back to the present.
"Yes, my love?"
"The footsteps are closer. Shall we?"
I release her from my arms and sweep my hand in front of me.
She's gone in a flash; I'm not far behind her.
My God, I love to watch her hunt! She's inherently graceful in her stride, lithe and powerful in her takedown. She takes my cue and asks her prey for forgiveness. Her final strike is clumsy, but what she lacks in technique, she makes up in zeal. Blood darkens the beast's neck and my mouth waters at the sight. Isabella pauses long enough to reach out to me; I drop to my knees beside her and together we share a primal feast.
Later, Isabella and I are sitting on a flat rock on the hill outside our house. The hill where I revealed my true self to her. Where she professed her love to me.
The ground is damp from an earlier rain shower, its earthy aroma pleasant. Familiar.
"You know we won't be able to stay here much longer. I've been here ten years; Mr. Elkins might soon start to notice I haven't aged. As soon as you're better able to control your urges, we'll move on." I collect her into my arms and bury my face in her hair, relishing her scent. While she's no longer human, she's still my Isabella.
"I shall miss this place. The memories…" My voice drifts off as I recall the events of the past year.
"Tell me again," she says, shifting in my arms to look up at me. I stroke her hair, knowing exactly what she wants to hear.
"When I first laid eyes upon you, I thought I'd stumbled into a dream. A living, breathing angel, sent down to save me from my wretched existence. But then I smelled you and the world I'd come to accept came crashing down around me."
"I'm sorry," she says.
"Apology accepted," I say, grinning. I take her hand and bring it to my lips. "When I first touched you, in Mr. Elkins' shop, I was in awe of the softness of your skin."
"And I thought you were the most handsome man I'd ever seen. The way you looked at me—I felt exposed, flustered…exhilarated."
We continue trading off recollections of our courtship.
"When you read to me in the library for the first time, I realized what I felt was more than bloodlust. I wanted to discover everything about you."
"The first time you posed me on our bench, I remember how your fingers caressed my cheek. You were so gentle, yet you set my blood on fire."
"Painting lessons…the first time I kissed you."
"Stargazing. When you told me the story of Cygnus."
"Our wedding night," she adds with a wicked grin.
I laugh at her candor. "Yes, I rather enjoyed that as well."
We fall quiet, watching the storm clouds break up over the horizon.
"Where shall we go?" she asks.
"Wherever you'd like. We have the world at our disposal."
"We might as well start with this country. I've always wanted to go west. I should like to see the sun set into the ocean."
"It's beautiful. Miles and miles of untamed wilderness." I tousle her hair. "Perfect for a wild and untamed vampire."
Isabella narrows her eyes and opens her mouth to protest but I silence her with a kiss. She melts into my arms, my teasing forgiven.
"We could go to the Pacific Northwest. Seattle is a thriving city."
"It's not far from the coast, is it? I've always wanted to live near the ocean. Somewhere high on a bluff where I can watch the waves crash on the rocks." She turns to me. "Imagine the sunsets you would be able to capture on your canvas."
"That sounds delightful. Then again, any place you choose is perfect as long as I'm with you." I coax her down onto the wet ground and settle over her, my hand pushing up her skirts.
"Edward! My dress will get ruined!"
"I'll buy you a new one." She squeezes her eyes shut when I slip my fingers between her legs.
Our hands work together to undo my trousers, our need too great to fully disrobe.
"I'll hold you to that," she says, taking hold of me, guiding me inside her.
"I've no doubt you will," I say, pushing into her.
I will never get enough of her.
She is mine. I am hers. Bound together.
A/N: Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone for reading, recc'ing, and taking the time to share your thoughts. You have all made this such a wonderful experience and I've been truly touched by your support! I've been thinking of writing a chapter from Isabella's POV, so if anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them! xo