This story looks at five nights that could have happened during Eclipse. Assuming you ignore Breaking Dawn and Stephenie Meyer's unhealthy obsession with abstinence, it is canon-compatible.

(The significance of each of the dates is explained at the end.)

Thanks to bmango for the last-minute pre-read, and to Stephenie Meyer for Twilight (Breaking Dawn and unhealthy obsession with abstinence aside). Thanks, too, to Sandy at Southern Fan Fiction Review for giving me the chance to share this with you.

May 20, 2006


Her voice is a whisper, breathy and low against my skin, and my throat cracks. "Heaven and hell," I say, too low for her to hear.

Always, always, Bella has been both.

Her mouth is only more so.

Lost in soft and heat, I take her lip between mine so gently, so carefully. Swiping my tongue across her flesh, I reel. She tastes of blood and everything that I imagine sex might be.

And I want to know.

Hard in every sense, aroused by her softness, her scent, her shape, I press myself against her mattress but keep an inch of air between our bodies. Even through it, though, she scintillates.


As it does on nights like these when, instead of shunning it, I invite temptation in, her scent grows earthier and even more distracting with every kiss. She opens her legs in a silent invitation, and I am almost floored by wanting.

I can't.

Automatically, in a reflex born of decades of denial, I begin to pull away. She grasps more tightly to my neck and hair, her hands too weak to hold me but my will not strong enough to force her to let go.

"Bella. Be reasonable."

A flash of anger lights her eyes, but there's hurt there, too.

Even when I protect her, I hurt her.

She's the one to pull back now, throwing herself against the bed with force. "I'm tired of being reasonable." Squeezing her eyes shut, her hands are fists, and I want them on my skin. She thinks that I'm rejecting her. I know I'm still rejecting myself.


She grunts and crosses her arms over the full swells of her chest. My mouth waters and my body burns more brightly than it would were it aflame. And yet I am no less destroyed.

"It's fine," she says, the rejection more audible now. I don't know what to do.

She resists when I try to pull her into my arms, but eventually she relents.

The whole night long, I hold her, and as I do, I whisper, "I love you," and, "I want you," on an endless rotation. But I know it's not enough.

June 3, 2006

The scent of animal and musk on her body makes me become an animal myself. I try to keep it from her, always hiding away the myriad ways I am more monster than man.

I want to replace his scent with my own. To claim her. Take her. To remove the little distance that sometimes feels so large when she insists that his arms are safe arms. His thoughts are never safe. And his hands could do more damage than my own.

Keeping the snarl inside my throat, I embrace her possessively, but all too soon, the wrongness of her scent pervades my brain. I push her away. And there's that hurt in her eyes again.

"It's okay." She's pulling back.

With my hands in fists, I try to contain it all: the stress of having her in danger and my jealousy and my failing efforts to be the better 'man.' "I'm sorry. Just…"

"I know. I stink." Huffing, Bella begins to gather clothes from her drawers, and I get a quick flash of satin and lace.

"No, Bella - " It's a lie. She reeks of a scent I only process as a threat - an enemy in this world of hidden monsters and a rival whose potential to replace me in her heart is too real for me to stand. But that's not the only reason I can't hold her.

In anger, I know my own strength. And after listening to him as he released her back to my side of the line, I grew angry, indeed.

I have never known such helplessness or rage.

"It's fine." Her voice is resigned now. "Give me five minutes to shower."

I don't want to give her a minute or an inch. I don't know if I can stand her being naked and so far away.

Still, I let go, struggling for calm. "All right." But the look she gives me is somehow all wrong.

While she bathes, I sit on her bed, listening to the way the water hits her body. To her sounds. Her breath and heartbeat quicken, and if I had a pulse, it would be pounding when I realize she's panting.

I check myself before I can take my hand to my own aching need.

When she touches herself, I'm no longer certain she's thinking of me.

June 7, 2006

Her pulse is too fast, her eyelids fluttering in some kind of dream. It's embarrassing how much imagining its contents arouses and terrifies me.

She smells right tonight. Lush. Tempting.

Heaven and hell.

When she breathes my name, low and wanting, my body responds like any man of my physical age. The aches in my groin and my throat are becoming overwhelming, my mind spinning, drunk on lust. I let the feeling grow just a little, barely holding on to the loosened chains of my control. I love to hear her say my name.

So I am all the more crushed when her eyes snap open, darting and settling on my face before her own features fall.

"Oh," she says, cheeks blooming with a flush that pushes all of my desires even higher. And her mind may be closed to me, but that doesn't mean her thoughts are.

She's disappointed to see me.

She begins to roll away, and it's another level of physical pain.

"Do you want me to go?"

Bella shakes her head, and I am relieved. Reaching out, I pull her back into my arms, her spine to my chest but with my hips so far away from the curve of her backside. She's so warm. Soft.

"I'm sorry." Her voice is gritty and her posture closed.

Skimming my nose across the side of her neck, I ask, "Whatever for?"

"Just…" She trails off, and I don't know what to do.

"Sleep, my love. My beautiful girl."

She only stiffens more.

We lie there in silence for a while, but I know she isn't sleeping. My body is far too awake as well. Fidgeting and sighing, she turns inside my arms but never lifts her face to mine.

"Talk to me?" I plead.

"I just…" Tense, she exhales deeply. Her words all escape her in a rush. "I can't sleep."

I hold her closer and kiss her skin. Tempting. "Shall I sing to you?"


It's not the answer she was looking for. "Tell me. Please."

"It's just..." Her blush is hot enough to feel. Such heat. "If you weren't here…"

It's not what I want to hear. Still, she didn't tell me to go. I feel out the petrified cage of my ribs. I steel them around my heart before I speak. "If I weren't here… what?"

Her breath grows more labored, her whole being insisting that I hear, and there are things I know she cannot say. "I can't sleep … like this."

She shifts more meaningfully, and my eyes widen. I can feel them darkening. Barely a whisper, I ask, "Like what?"

Pushing back against me and wrapping her arms around mine so tightly, she insists, "Like this."

"Please. Tell me."

Bella buries her face in the pillow, and I fear I'm losing her already, her bravery slipping.

Please. You have to tell me.

My control is slipping, too. But like a vampire of legend, I need her to invite me.

Ask me one more time, I beg her silently. I swear that I'll give in.

"Ugh. This is so embarrassing."

"Please don't be embarrassed with me."

"As if. You're the one I'm most embarrassed with."

"Bella, no…"

She huffs and tenses. My earlier hubris, thinking I could read her reactions if not her mind, seems ridiculous now. Mumbling a quiet curse beneath her breath, she turns to look at me for just an instant before hiding her eyes away. "Geez. I'm just … horny, okay?"

Vulgar though they may be, her words are a match, and I am flame. Curling into herself, retreating in a kind of shame I cannot bear, not now, Bella pulls the covers up over her head.

In a single motion, I have torn them off, my hands on her face, her side, her hip. And I am kissing her. Desperately. "Bella."

Surprised, she responds only on instinct, minimal reactions and permission until her mind catches up. Then she is right there with me, her hands in my hair and her mouth so open to me. I am speaking too quietly for her to hear, my desire a dangerous thing. "You have no idea what you do to me. No idea."

"I - " she breathes. "Have you…?"

I'm so tired of leaving her wanting.

My hands move over her body, touching the skin at her waist where her shirt has ridden up. Higher. When my fingertips caress the side of her breast, I can hardly think, the desire so hot in me for all that I am freezing; I am ice, melting beneath her heat. "May I?"


So long, I've wanted to touch her like this.

Her breast is the softest skin, full and ripe. In the lightest strokes, I circle it, just grazing the peak. She groans and parts her legs.

She smells so ripe.

"Do you like it when I touch you?"

She can't hear me, but still, she moans.

"Where else do you want me to touch you?" Louder now, I ask her, "What do you want?"


"You have me. Always." Too quietly, my hand against her heart I add, "Please let me have you."

"No. I want you."

I freeze, and I feel her stiffen in response. My arousal is a deadly thing, scarcely restrained, and I allow a moment to ponder what it would be like. To feel her body and her heat. To take. To give.

"I'm sorry - "

"Don't be," I answer gruffly. In my reflection in her eyes, I can see my irises, black as night. "Don't ever be sorry. Just not tonight."

I'm too out of control tonight.

I cannot take her. But I can give her this.

Loosening my control by the tiniest of increments, I move again, touching and kissing. Her mouth does not open to me, so I find her jaw and neck. I pull down her shirt to kiss the swell of her breast. And my other hand drifts lower.

"I'm sorry I've ever left you wanting, Bella," I whisper in her ear, letting her hear. "I won't this time. If you'll let me."

My fingertips brush her thigh through her pajama pants. Moving to the inside, I urge her legs to once more slide apart. And I breathe. She smells divine.

"Will you, Bella?" I don't know how to talk like this, and yet I do. "Will you let me make you come?"

Her answer is a gasp and a squeak and a release of all the tension from her body. Liquid against me, she flows. I follow her to her source.

"Here?" Even through the fabric, I feel her heat. I feel her here. In the center of all things.


"Breathe, love."

With a great gasp and an intake of air, she does. And with that, she comes alive. Grasping and clutching, she pulls me to her body. I let my chest press flush against her but still keep my hips away. Warm and sensual, she makes my throat burn and my desire flare, and I need to focus.

So softly, my fingertips dance across damp cloth, and the very feeling of that moisture on my skin squeezes something in my chest and in my loins. I babble near-silently. I ask her if it's good and if it hurts. If it aches to want so desperately. If her need is a match for mine.

"More," she begs, pressing her sex up into my touch. "Please."


Retreating from that sacred place between her thighs, I place my palm on her hip, my fingers curling and my thumb skimming flesh and lace. Against her pulse, I ask her, "May I?"


With absolute reverence, I begin to pull away her clothing and my sanity. I want her bare. I want her so badly. Like I do in the beginning of every fantasy, I remove the barriers to my desire so slowly, savoring every inch with fingertips and eyes. And she's beautiful. Her hips. Her thighs.

Her … pussy.

I swear without meaning to and louder than I want to.

The scent of her arousal hits me like a wall, and I lean against it just to stay upright. "God, Bella."

"I-" Her shyness is resurging now, and I feel her trying to pull away, her thighs closing. I need them open for me.

"Don't," I ask her as I nudge them apart. "Don't keep me out. You're beautiful. You're so beautiful to me."

She moans and relaxes a little, tensing again when I run a single finger through darkened curls and through her lips, staggered. She's even softer there. And wet.

Slick skin gives way for me, and I cannot help imagining what that hot flesh would feel like wrapped around me. Caressing me. Sliding.

"You feel amazing," I breathe. "I can't - "

Can't breathe. Can't take. Can't wait.

But I will.

Quieter, I tell her and myself, "I can't believe I'm touching you here."

But I am.

As she relaxes, my hands grow bolder. I hover over her, lips on hers, kissing her mouth. Her breast is warm in one palm, her sex slick and giving against the other. With curiosity and barely contained need, I slip my fingers between the lips with increasing confidence, darting just inside. The heat almost consumes me.

"I can't wait to make love to you."

Sliding upward, I find the small, near-hidden protrusion of her clitoris, and she bucks off the bed.


My name and her pleasure wreck me. Determined now, I draw on every illicit thought that I have ever heard. I stroke and press, soft and slow, faster as her body welcomes me, teasing just below. At her opening. Where I want to be.

"I need -"

"Tell me." I may know what some women like, but my Bella is a mystery to me.

I can't wait to discover her.

"Just like that. Just - "

"Tell me."


I comply and probe her mouth, tease her breast. "Please come for me. Please."

I will go out of my mind if she doesn't come for me.

"Oh!" With a sharp gasp, she tenses, freezing, eyes closing, and I can almost feel the pleasure cresting, too, inside of me. Through her silence and her stillness, I keep touching, changing nothing as I stroke over and over across her clit. "Edward-"

And then she shatters.

I kiss her mouth to devour her scream, a single finger sliding just inside where I can feel her rhythmic clenching. I feel the love of my existence. Coming.

Because of me.

"Oh, Bella. Bella."

With my hips pressed to the mattress, thrusting hard just once as I let her go, I tear the sheets as I feel myself emptying.

And yet to come like this - to not be alone - is the greatest pleasure I have ever known.

June 12, 2006

Days pass. The clouds that hovered in Bella's eyes seem to dissipate, but they are never truly clear. Not with me.

The clouds over our heads, danger and uncertainty, linger just as persistently.

Sated and yet restless, Bella lies against me, her spine to my chest. I do not think that she can want for anything, my hands uncovering her body nearly daily, touching so lovingly. Although I can read her need now, sometimes, she even asks me.

I love it when she asks me to touch her.

Still, for all my years and gifts, she has the capacity to surprise me.

Giving me no warning, Bella presses her body back against my own, and I fail to pull away in time, first shocked and then overwhelmed as pleasure floods me. While she has brushed against my erection before, it has always been in passing. Never intentionally. At least not obviously. Never once has she seemed to recognize what the reactions of my flesh mean, or if she has, she has not made anything of it.

This time she makes so much of it.

She makes it harder. Needier.

"Bella," I warn. With all my will, I move to put some space between her body and mine, holding her still.

She is not so easily deterred. Turning to face me, she reaches forward to place her hand on my hip, and I want it lower.

I cannot help but imagine what it would be like to have her touch me. But all I can picture is all the ways that I could break her.

As if the brace around her hand was not enough of a reminder.

With my hand curled delicately around her wrist, I return her arm to her side, only looking up in time to see her features fall.

She schools her expression quickly, though. Turning to lie on her back, she sighs heavily. "Fine. Whatever."

I hate when she speaks like that to me. "You know I want - "

"No," she insists, shaking her head roughly. There is wetness beneath her eyes. "I don't. And I appreciate that you … humor me, or whatever you do. But you don't have to do …" She glances down the length of her own body with disgust. "… that anymore."

For a moment, I cannot even react, my mind reeling. She can't possibly think -

From the stiffness of her frame, I know she does.

"No, Bella. I promise. I - "

"It doesn't even matter." It does. The way her voice breaks as she speaks, I know it does. "If you don't … want … me."

"I do." How can she not know? Moving too fast for her to see, I place myself above her, my lips a whisper on her cheek. "How I want you…"

She's still shaking her head. "It's not a big deal. I just… I don't even know why I'm getting upset over this."

All I ever do is hurt her. "I do," I repeat. "If I've ever made you feel unwanted … It's the last thing I ever meant to do."

She chuckles wryly, but she still won't meet my eyes. Her hands do come up to touch my chest, though, and I relish the heat. "Then why don't you ever…"

"What?" I prod her gently as I trace my lips down her throat, breathing in the scent that so tortures and arouses me. "Beg you to touch me the way I want you to?"

She shudders and blushes, and I can hear her pulse pick up.

"If I could dream, it would be of your hands on me," I breathe, just barely loud enough for her to hear.

Her reaction is immediate, her whole posture opening. Her legs open, too. In just a t-shirt and her underwear, the fabric still damp from the climax I urged her to a few minutes earlier, she is ravishing, and it's almost too much for me to take. I feel her palms as they slide down my chest, fingertips tracing my abdomen and then the top of my pants.

"Let me, then."

I close my eyes and try to focus, but it's so difficult. In this existence, I follow so many lines of thought at once, a life lived in perfect recall. And yet in this moment, I am only here. There is only her body beneath me and her desire to touch me.

She reads my expression all wrong and retreats immediately. I don't let her get far. My fingers close around her wrists, holding her so that the heat of her hands still seeps through my shirt to warm my frozen flesh.

Choking on the words, I admit, "I'm scared."

"Don't be."

My laughter is humorless. When it comes to Bella, everything frightens me - her love and her fragility. The way she is so essential to this existence that now feels like a life.

Moving slowly, she presses the palm of her good hand to my stomach more firmly. "I need to know you want me," she insists.

"I do. So badly."

"Then let me."

Damned creature that I am, I do.

"Slowly," I beg. And then I release her hands.

She meets my eyes, and I try to instill them with a warning. Hers are warm and comforting. It aches to know that she thinks she needs to comfort me when I am the one who should be strong. When I am being the most selfish of creatures right now.

Her hands are sure but careful as they continue down my body. I steel myself for my reaction, and she acclimates me to her touch in stages, moving first to my hips and then my thighs. They close in slowly until my need is so great that I feel certain it will shatter me.

Even though my clothes, the first slow brush against my length floors me. "God, Bella." My hands dig into the pillow and my hips push forward, wanting more. She gasps, and I refocus immediately, knowing full well how one wrong move could cripple her. But there is no pain on her expression - only fascination as for the very first time she explores the shape of me.

That's when I make the mistake of looking down, the sight of her hands on my body unbearably erotic, and I know I can't let her touch me this way. Not like this.

She blinks hard to find herself atop me, her knees straddling my thighs and her fingers still wrapped around me. "I need you on top," I manage, my voice strained. "I don't trust myself."

I prove myself right when she grasps me more firmly and strokes upward, pleasure shooting through my body, my head jerking back and my hands grasping at air as I throw them instinctively away from her. She releases me, and I groan, but then she traces a fingertip along my belt. Looking down at me shyly, she asks, "Can I?"

I hate myself a little more when I nod. As selfish as this is, though, I have not seen her so confident or so pleased in weeks. Seemingly entranced, she pulls the leather loose, her sure fingers fumbling with nerves as they move to the button that lies just beneath. I look to her face to see desire and disbelief.

And for once, I want her to know exactly what she does to me. I want her to see herself the way that I do - as irresistible and sexy.

I want her to be confident in me.

"Please, Bella," I beg. "Please touch me."

She inhales sharply, and her whole chest expands. Her flush is less embarrassment than want, and her hands are now steady. So slowly, she opens my pants and pulls them down my hips, tracing the long line of my desire through the fabric of my boxers before hooking her fingers into the waistband of those, too.

"Yes," I moan in encouragement.

The room goes silent when she finally reveals me.

I lie there, frozen in every way as I watch her face as she takes in my body, eyes widening, flush deepening.

What I would give to read her thoughts.

It feels unbearably dirty to be with her like this, asking her to touch this part of me. It seems too low for her. I do not want to debase her any further. My hands move to pull my clothes back on, wanting to hide my desire and my shame. "You don't have to…"

But then her hand wraps around bare flesh.

I tear my boxers in two.


Her name is a guttural groan. A plea.

In a century of loneliness and longing, no one, ever, has touched me.

She recoils immediately. "Is that … not good?"

I have to stop myself from placing her hands back on my body. "It's perfect," I pant, eyes closed, neck straining. My flesh is straining toward her, too. "Exquisite. Please."

An eternity seems to pass before her fingers brush the head, sliding down, and I moan embarrassingly loudly.

"More," I whisper, and, "God, I want you," and, "Touch me."

Encircling the base, her fingers wrap around me, my hands flying up over my head to grip her headboard when she takes the first slow, torturous stroke up. "Yes," I hiss.

"You'll tell me if it's not right?"

My eyes fly open to take in the sight of her face, open and vulnerable, but so fascinated. And it strikes me for the first time that she likes touching me.

I remember just how much I savor touching her. Making her feel good.

"It's right," I gasp. It is. "It's so, so right."

Faster now, she begins to stroke up and down.

And it's over before it's begun.

"Get off of me," I plead. Her brow furrows, confused, but I cannot explain. Sucking in a rough breath, I shift her body off my thighs, sitting her beside me, my hand wrapping around hers for just a moment to keep the exquisite heat of her fingers curled around me. "Don't want to … ungh … hurt you. God, yes. Please. Keep going - "

She does.

With my hands once more safely clear of her body, I stare into her perfect, beautiful eyes.

My pants tear as my legs separate.

Everything separates.

And then everything is one.

With my eyes on hers, my hips as wild as my need, I push up into her hands as gently as I can. Then with an intensity that staggers me, I let the pleasure overwhelm me.

And I can't even bring myself to be ashamed when my release coats her hands.

June 16, 2006

I pace her room relentlessly, too much energy in limbs that long to touch. Too many thoughts in a mind I wish would settle.

For a few more moments, I stride between her bed and the rocking chair that I have haunted so many times before, eventually choosing to perch on the latter while my eyes go to the former. I remember sitting here, watching her sleep. I remember that first night and the feeling that I could drown.

I remember falling in love.

It's a good memory - the kind I want to linger in, luxuriating in the warmth of that most fundamental of changes instead of in the other memories that will not leave me. Memories of her teeth chattering. Of another man's arms.

Of what it felt like to hear his recollection of their kiss.

Of tears.

I am up again a moment later, my hands clenching and flexing. The voices downstairs are infrequent. She and her father never speak much. I know that she is nervous about him tonight, though, and that she is putting in some extra time. I smile when I hear his voice float up, asking her to grab him a beer while she is up. His thoughts are all bent toward maintaining a façade of normalcy.

But his eyes keep seeing his baby girl. And then my ring.

My ring.

That thought alone is able to calm me.

She sits beside him again and they both pretend to watch baseball. She's restless, though. I hear the couch creaking with her nervous shifting.

"I think I'm going to go upstairs and read," she says. Finally.

Charlie grunts and says goodnight, accepting her embarrassed kiss to his cheek with silence and a kind of quiet joy that increases my esteem for the man.

"Thanks," she adds, her foot eliciting a soft creak from the bottommost step. "For, you know … not freaking out. And stuff."

"It's not too late for that, Bells."

"Got it."

Thirty seconds later, she is opening the door. And then she's in my arms.

"I missed you," I breathe, all the air exiting my lungs.

She laughs but hugs me harder. "It's only been a couple hours."

"Eternity," I argue. It's ridiculous, of course. After centuries of killing time, every moment is precious now. Every moment.

Every heartbeat.

Burying my nose in her hair, I can still smell the lingering scent of his breath. It both angers and thrills me.

It both hurts me and reminds me that she chose me.

My fingers go instinctively to her left hand. "I love seeing you in this," I admit as my fingers stroke the shining band, my mother's diamonds flashing when she moves.

She sighs, but there's no irritation to it now. "I know you do."

"I think you're starting to learn to like it, too."

Her blush is all the answer I need. Pulling back, she runs her fingers through her hair, sparkling gems against shining strands, and the beauty of the image warms me. Awkwardly, she moves to her dresser and pulls out a pair of soft pajamas. My favorite set. I love how they show off her breasts.

Turning back to me, she stammers, "So, um, I'm going to go take a shower."

She knows she still smells like him.

That knowledge is nothing to the image I have of her body, naked beneath the beating spray, my body still aroused from the moment today, in our meadow, when we came so close to making love. I step in closer and run my fingertips down her cheek, feeling the warmth of them before I bend to kiss the very corner of her mouth. Closing my eyes, I recognize I'm nervous. Still, I ask, "May I join you?"

Her breath hiccups and her hands clutch at my shirt. "You want-"


She makes me wait for a minute before finally, shakily, she answers, "Okay."

Her father's mind is preoccupied with the end of the game. He only vaguely registers Bella's movement toward the bathroom, and he most certainly does not detect mine. With the door locked behind us and the water heating, Bella and I face each other, her eyes averted and mine intent upon her form. Her lips. Her still-flushed cheeks. Her breasts and hips.

Her shoulders relax as I stroke a single finger down her throat, tracing between her breasts and to the hem of her shirt, her body pliable against my efforts to remove her clothes. It is only when she stands before me in her undergarments that I feel her shaky hands move up to my collar, unbuttoning slowly as if she expects me to bat her away.

Not anymore.

Not ever, ever again.

"You can undress me," I whisper. "It's all for you anyway." Caressing the skin above her hip, I make her shiver lightly. Only I'm not sure if it's a tremor born of words or touch or cold. "Whatever you want," I promise. "Take it. It's yours." Even more quietly, I breathe, "I'm yours."

She finds my flesh and I find hers, removing her brace last of all and feeling some satisfaction that I'll be able to help her tonight. When we are both nude, we stand before each other, barely breathing.

In all our explorations, we have never both been bare before.

Feeling closer to her than ever, I pull back the curtain to the shower and urge her to get in. It's all I can do just to watch her, the soft curve of her behind, the way her hair darkens beneath the spray. The rivulets of water on her skin.

She cranes her neck, looking back at me so shyly and yet with such allure, her eyes darting to where my body is clearly ready for her. And I realize it then.

I'm ready.

Stepping into the tub behind her, I close my arms around her waist and let the water warm my skin. My left hand clasps with hers against the center of her chest, the cool hardness of my ring such a clear contrast to the softness of her skin. While I have been prepared to join her life to mine since the moment she found me in Italy, this is the moment I know I am truly ready to be married to her in spirit … and in flesh.

And it strikes me just how easily I could have lost everything. Though I have been loath to say so, containing my jealousy and my hurt, I tell her quietly, "I'm so happy. That you … chose me."

Her hesitation lasts for less time than it takes to breathe, and then she is turning in my arms, her breasts against my chest and her stomach flush against my wanting flesh. Her hand drifts to my cheek, and her eyes are so soft. "I told you. It wasn't a choice. I can't live without you." With her face damp, it's hard to tell that she is tearing up. But I can tell. "I won't."

"No," I agree. "You won't. Ever." It's a promise I seal with a kiss.

Slowly, with a passion that is allowed to grow, an eternity of days stretched out before us now, our mouths explore, our hands touching where they will. Slippery with water, she feels like a whole other being pressed against me this way.

I feel like someone new.

Free to touch and love, I feel the weight of so much insecurity and anxiety as it washes away.

Without my hang-ups and my distance, I suddenly see that I can care for her in so many new ways.

Sliding my tongue once more across her lips, I place a final soft kiss against her mouth before releasing her. When I reach for her shampoo, she tries to take it from me. I look at her squarely, offering her the choice. "Please? Let me?"

Biting her lip and turning around, she nods. Her hair feels so good in my hands as I lather and rinse, combing through it just to feel the silky strands. The scent of strawberries and Bella's own lushness pervade my senses, enhanced by the heated steam and by my own desire. I slide soap across her skin as well, caressing in slow circles, prodding her again to face me. Kneeling to wash her feet, I look up at her to find her watching me with eyes that match my lustful ones. When she is clean, I stay bent beneath her, our gazes still connected as I press my lips to the patch of skin beside her hip, so close to the place where I want to be.

She smells so good.

Sucking in a low gasp, Bella threads her fingers through the soaked hair at the base of my neck as I close my eyes and slide my nose along the curve of her abdomen, my fingers rising up to part the lips of her sex. With her body open to me, I give in for just a moment, putting my mouth to the softest skin and sucking her clitoris so gently between my lips.

Her groan is loud, her nails scratching at my scalp to pull me closer. Her pleasure is my own, and with my skin tingling for want of contact, I press my lips to her more fully, allowing my own pained sound of desire to burst from my lungs. Probing her sweetness, flowers and musk, I lick and kiss and suck, tasting her in a way I never dreamed I would.

It's better than I could have imagined.

"Oh, God, Edward."

I hum my agreement against her skin, pushing my fingers just inside where it is hot and slick. Her breaths grow ragged with alarming speed, her body staggering to lean against the shower wall, but still I pursue. Relentlessly, I seek her pleasure and her taste.

Moments later, pulsing wetly, both pour over me like rain.

Only once I've coaxed as much from her body as it can stand do I release her. I remain on my knees, floored by what she has given me. She pulls me up a moment later, though, and I let her drag my mouth to hers, allowing myself to really feel the warmth of her skin where it presses against me.

"Take me to bed," she breathes.

I nod, turning off the now-cooling water and reaching for towels to drape across our skin. She barely gives me time to dry her before she is taking my hand, insisting. Safely back in her room, she bids me to lie down, damp and naked against her sheets. Her body covers mine exquisitely, her hand wrapped around me and her knees pressed tightly to my thighs.

"Did you mean it?"

I can barely think when she is touching me like this. When we're so close. "Did I - What?"

"This afternoon," she explains between soft, wet kisses.

I groan at the recollection of her body amongst the tall grasses, my hips between her legs and my lips at her throat. I remember offering her whatever she might want.

"Anything. Yes," I hiss as she strokes harder. "Everything."

"You're sure?"

Intense heat and wetness replace her hand, my breath shuddering when I see her sitting atop my nakedness, her skin pressing to mine so intimately. Just another inch -

My hands go to her hips, and she wraps her own hands over mine, her eyes intense as she searches my face for something.

"I'm sure, love. So sure." I lift my arm to brush my fingertips over her cheek. "You've committed to me, and I to you. That's all that matters."

Still, for a moment, she hesitates.

And then I admit again the truth that has so often plagued me. The one I so rarely admit to myself. "I want you." My knuckles caress her lips, her throat, her breasts. Her sex. "In every way."

Her face shifts, a decision in her eyes. As if she knows I do not trust myself in this, she is the one to lift herself up.

She is the one to guide me inside.

At once, the pleasure is all-consuming, almost as blinding as the heat. Even with just my tip inside, I am flooded.

She's so hot inside.

So slowly, she lowers herself down, wincing slightly but shushing me when I try to protest, fighting the bliss that is overwhelming me. My own brow furrows, my breath hitching when I sense the rich earthiness of fresh-spilt blood. I feel her innocence yielding before me, but I do not mourn it.

Instead, I give her mine in return.

Eventually, her hips meet mine, taking me all the way inside, and her name escapes my lips in a deep groan. I want to push my hands away - to keep her safe. But here, like this, making love for the very first time, I need to touch her. Kiss her. Show her exactly what she means to me.

"You're everything to me," I breathe as she lifts her hips and slides back over me, her mouth to mine. I can't get closer. I couldn't if I tried.

"You're everything I need."

All the uncertainty that has plagued us since that very first day melts away in the wake of her heat and the intensity of this union. I want to make her come - to feel her come around me - but my body is already tensing, my need cresting. It is too much to be inside of her like this.

"Bella, I - "

And then I do.

With all the restraint that I have left, I make my hands and my body soft, while my climax is hard. It takes my breath away, my eyes wide as they stare up at the wonder that is her face, all flushed skin and parted lips. And I pour myself into her, marking her forever as my own.

She brands me just the same.

Afterward, we huddle close in her tiny bed, naked and kissing. Talking.

"I love you," I breathe as her eyes drift slowly toward sleep.


"Yes," I agree quietly. "An eternity."

And for the first time in my existence, eternity is laid out before me.

And nothing at all about it seems too long.

A/N: The dates used in this story match up to canon as follows:

May 20, 2006: Edward and Bella return home after their impromptu visit to Florida to see her mom.

June 6, 2006: Bella goes to the Quileute Bonfire with Jacob.

June 7, 2006: Finals week at Forks High School. Also, the night before she breaks her hand on Jacob's face.

June 12, 2006: The day after graduation and the night before Edward and Bella get engaged.

June 16, 2006: The day after the battle with Victoria. Also the day after she cried herself out over Jake (gag).

(Source: Twilight Lexicon and my own dog-eared copy of Eclipse.)