Proposal versus Proposition:

Yeah. M for citrus.

Thanks to Eternally Cullen for pre-reading :}

Sometimes I just need to clear my palate. Happy birthday to me. Lol. Thought it might be fun to get this down while I'm in the mood. It may not quite fit my UE canon, later, when I go back to rewrite the first three books (which might not happen for years at this rate). However, this is what I wanted to happen after seeing 'Eclipse'. It's closer to movie canon than the book, jsyk.

So, for now, we'll call this a oneshot/precurser to the UE Series. Eventually, it will be part of a bigger fic (as an outtake). When I redo Eclipse in my canon, this will be in Edward's pov. But I fear you'll have to wait for that one. Ren is waiting to be born. If you like this, the 'Unforeseen Events' Series' time line picks up about a month after this story. And yes, there's a lot of 'practicing'. Snickers. Eventually they get to the good stuff. Go read UE, and then you can find the other stories listed in consecutive order on my Profile. I think there are 18 fics in this series. I've lost count. All my spare brain cells go into writing more.

My character Ivo, from 'Heaven Help My Heart', is nominated for Best Other Character (Canon or Original) in the Sunflower Awards. If you love him, please vote (beginning May 4th):

thesunflowerawards(dot)blogspot(dot)com/p/categories

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is merely coincidental.

Sections of this story are paraphrased or directly quoted from 'Eclipse'. Edward also paraphrases the words of one Fitzwilliam Darcy. Oh, and Bella has some fun with Buttercup and Wesley.

My dates do not adhere to SM canon. Events are out of order, based on things that clutter up my head. Please don't tell me, 'that didn't happen like that'. Nope, it didn't. I changed it:}

The PVP Playlist is on my youtube: jmollytwilight2. The hyperlink is on my Profile.

'Say When', by the Fray

'Make You Feel My Love', by Adele

'Love of my Life', by Darla and Chad Day

'L'Amour Rêvé', by André Gagnon

I see you there,
don't know where you come from
Unaware of a stare from someone
Don't appear to care
that I saw you, and I want you

What's your name?
Cause I have to know it
You let me in and begin to show it
I'm terrified
cause you're headed straight for it,
might Get it

Hear the song playin on background
All alone but you're turnin up now
And everyone is risin to meet ya,
to greet you

Turn around and you're walkin toward me
I'm breakin down
and you're breathin slowly
Say the word and I will be your man,
your man, say when

(Chorus)
And my own two hands
will comfort you tonight, tonight
Say when
And my own two arms
will carry you tonight, tonight

Come close and then even closer
We bring it in but we go no further
We're separate
two ghosts in one mirror, no nearer

Later on if it turns to chaos, hurricane comin all around us
See the crack, pull it back from the window,
you stay low, say when

(Chorus)
And my own two hands
will comfort you tonight, tonight
Say when
And my own two arms
will carry you tonight, tonight

Come across you're lost and broken
You're coming to,
but you're slow and waking
You Start to shake,
you still haven't spoken,
what happened

They're comin back
and you just don't know it
and you wanna cry
but there's nothin comin
They're gonna push
until you give in, say when

Now we're here and it turns to chaos,
hurricane comin all around us
They're gonna crack,
don't you back from the window,
you stay slow

It all began with the man and country
Every plan turns
another century around again
And another nation fallen

Maybe God can be on both sides of the gun
never gone, understood why
some of us never get it so good,
so good
Some of this was here before us
All of this will go after us
It never stops until we give in, give in, say when

(Chorus)
And my own two hands
will comfort you tonight, tonight
Say when
And my own two arms
will carry you tonight, tonight
say when

And my own two hands
will carry you tonight, tonight.
say when
And my own two hands
will comfort you tonight, tonight...

Sunday, May 15th, 2005, 7:48pm:

Bella's pov:

"We're going out. You'll have the house all to yourselves. All night."

Having Alice throw me at her brother was really nothing new. It might be weird, but it wasn't exactly unwelcome. But this time, it was kind of uncomfortable, considering the absence of the family meant they were all in league, and they would all be casting bets about what would happen during our 'alone time'. I was wondering about that myself. My Victorian had all sorts of rules about that sort of thing. Antiquated rules. Chaste, hands-off rules.

"What exactly have you Seen?" I asked warily. Alice looked at me with unnaturally wide, innocent golden eyes.

"Nothing for you to get nervous about, Sweetie. He's not going to eat you. We just thought it would be nice for you, considering tomorrow is going to be ... a little wild."

"Are you telling me that the family doesn't want us to die virgins?" I yowled, my heart hammering against my ribs. "You said defeating the Newborn Army would be child's play, and we'd all be home forty-eight hours from now, filling out college applications. Have you been lying to me?"

"Bella," Alice sighed, eyes rolling. "Cut the melodrama, will you? You're getting to be as emo as him. Nothing's going to happen to either one of you. I still See you as one of us. Do you want him to bend his rules, or not?"

I glared at her, pouting. "Yes," I relented at last, and threw myself down on my bed, crossing my arms and legs defensively.

"Yay!" the demented pixie clapped.

"Does he know anything about this?" I growled.

"Sort of," she said, peeking at me.

"Define 'sort of'," I insisted.

"We told him we were going out. We didn't tell him you were coming over. See, the females have been plotting it since yesterday, but we only just told our mates that we want them to take us out somewhere, so we could get our freak on, away from Edward."

"Alice!"

"Well, ever since Jacob gave you that wolf charm, Edward's been really jealous," the meddling pixie said nonchalantly, examining her nails.

"No kidding? He gave me a great big diamond to prove it," I growled. Jacob had clued me in two days previously, and I was still kinda pouting about my mate's deviousness. "How did you clear this with Charlie? I'm supposed to be keeping you company starting tomorrow, while the family goes camping."

"I told him they were leaving a day early because of the nice weather," Alice shrugged. "So, Bella?"

"Yeah?"

"How many times, exactly, have you turned down his proposals of marriage?" Alice threw out of left field.

"Well," I said, blushing. "A whole lot of times. I don't even know why I turn him down any more, because wait!" I stopped dead, gawping like a fish. "Are you telling me he's going to propose tonight?" I gathered my wits, trying to decide what exactly I thought about that.

"Would I be looney enough to tell you that, if I were certain he was planning on it?" she demanded. "He'd throw me in that chipper shredder you're always threatening us with, if I spoiled a surprise like that."

"Then what are you getting at?" I huffed, pouting. In truth, I had been starting to regret turning him down. I loved him, and I was certain that he was the future that I wanted. It was stupid to worry about whether we would regret it. We wouldn't. Besides, I had never met a divorced vampire. Edward said it simply didn't happen.

"Um, you might say that he's at a crossroads," Alice said calmly, not looking at me.

"What kind of a crossroads?" I asked narrowly.

"He bought you a present. Handmade by a master-craftsman in Germany. He put a lot of thought into it, which made us all concur that he wants ... you to use it," she told me, still avoiding my hairy eyeball.

"Is it jewellery?" I demanded.

"Not even close. Now hurry up and pack, and get your butt over there pronto."

"Are you not dropping me off?" I asked, collecting my knapsack, and shoving things in. Hairbrush, sweater, jeans, underwear, socks...

" Jasper's waiting for me just around the block, with the Ducati. As far as Charlie knows, it's the usual sleepover with me. He saw Jazzy drop me off here, and as far as he's concerned, you're driving us to my place," she said happily.

The word 'sleepover', in connection with Edward, did odd, flippy, things to my insides. "Perfect," I said coolly. Interfering nosey vampires. I thought all I had to be nervous about tonight was a coven of bloodthirsty Newborns and their vengeful creator. However, I was hardly going to turn down a night with Edward. For the first time in ages, we were going to be completely alone. All night. I decided I could handle that. Cheerfully, I pulled his t-shirt and my shorts out from under my pillow, to tuck them in my bag.

"Bella! You are not wearing those!" a quivering Alice protested, coming between me and my knapsack.

"I'm not wearing French lingerie, Alice!" I asserted, reaching around her to grab it. I stuffed in the clothes, and she came between me and my things again.

"Bella, please?" she said, thrusting something at me, her eyes like a sad kitten's. "It's not French, it's American." I looked down: a gift bag from Victoria's Secret. Big surprise.

I took it, and opened it, suppressing a sigh. She really couldn't help herself. I reminded myself that she wanted us to be happy. My fingers closed around something soft and swishy. I pulled, and the contents of the bag spilled like water onto the bed. I couldn't hold back my hum of pleasure. If I wore these, it would drive him nuts. "Lace?"

"Victorians loved lace. So you like them?"

I sighed. There was no denying it. "They're perfect, Alice."

Alice clapped, eyes filled with delight. "Thank you, Bella! Hurry up. Jazzy and I want to get to Mount Olympus in time for the sunset."

"The sun is supposed to set in an hour, Alice," I reminded her, running to collect my toiletry bag.

"We'll make it. Are you ready? Super! Time to say 'bye' to Charlie." She skipped down the stairs, and I clomped down after her, cheeks still pink.

"We're going, Charlie!" she sang.

"Call me in the morning, Bells?" my father demanded. "I want to make sure you're both okay, alone in that big house."

"Okay, Dad, I will," I promised.

"Have a nice time," he directed, turning back to the game. "Nice to see you, Alice."

"You too, Charlie. We'll chat in the morning."

"Sure, sure. Bye," he waved vaguely, riveted on his game.

Alice and I hurried out to the Monster. She hopped nimbly into the passenger seat, and I went around and climbed up into the driver's. I suddenly felt unbearably nervous. "Where's Jazz?" I asked woodenly. Was I really going to do this?

"Turn right at the corner. He should be right there," she grinned. Sure enough, we pulled around the corner, and down the street, leaning against the black Ducati, was Jasper, wearing a tight, black and silver-slashed t-shirt, black button-downs, biker boots, his dog collar, and black lipstick. He looked highly dangerous.

"I didn't think you all were coming," he drawled, putting a leg over the bike. "Your neighbours were starting to get nervous about me."

"I can't imagine why," I said, eyes rolling. "Do you always dress like that to wait on street corners for your mate?"

His lips turned up cheekily, and his eyes twinkled. "How else am I expected to have fun around here? Mrs Stanley is at Mrs Bellows' house, having palpitations. I just love winding her up." He waved at the front blinds, and they snapped shut. Chuckling, he winked at me as Alice hugged me and hopped up behind him on the bike. "Be gentle with him, wild thing."

"Yeah, whatever," I said, eyes rolling. Jasper cackled, and revved the bike, then, he and Alice took off, disappearing from sight in practically no time. I stood silently, looking after them. Then, I got in the truck and got en route to surprise my mate.

There was really no reason to be nervous, I decided, hands slick on the wheel. Nobody was going to put a gun to my head. I could ... flirt with him, and get him to kiss me. Nothing scary about that. We didn't have to go all the way. Bah! I knew he wouldn't allow me to do anything close to that. He'd probably shut me down after five minutes of flirting. I could... ask to extend our boundaries a little. Yeah. I could do that. Or, I could just spring it on him. Put his hand on my boob. Or... put my hand on him. God, he'd probably die. Scratch that. Start small, you sap. Get him out of his shirt. That would probably be enough to give him a stroke. You're even starting to sound like him, you great vixen. More like a scared rabbit! Epic fail.

By the time I pulled into the long, private road, I had talked myself out of having a seizure. Alice had supplied me with lingerie to die for. It would get a rise from him. I just knew it. Never, ever bet against Alice. Steeling myself, I parked at the end of the driveway, and got out of the Monster. Swallowing hard, I looked up at the windows. The lights were on in his room, and there was something... odd. Did he have new furniture? Curiouser and curiouser. I guessed I would be finding out. I wondered what he had bought me. I wondered what the females were up to. I wondered what details the males were giving odds on. Like I was going to tell them what we were doing, if we did anything! Hey... there were panels dividing up the windows. Drapes? Were those drapes? Ohmygod he bought drapes! So nobody could see in. How ginchy was that! My girlie parts did a little advance-celebratory dance. What kind of crossroads were we talking?

I jumped out of my skin as the front door opened, and my smiling mate flitted up to the driver's side window. "Hey, Love! This is a nice surprise. What are you doing sitting out here? Were you going to come in?"

"Um," I said cleverly. He seemed, suddenly, to notice that he was holding a screwdriver. Sticking it in his back pocket, he opened the door, took my backpack and slung it over his shoulder, then grasped me around the waist and lifted me elegantly to the ground.

"I was just thinking about you," he said silkily, wrapping his hands around my hips and dancing us a little. He smelled so incredibly good: chocolate, coffee, leather, and sandalwood. The sweetness of his breath made me light-headed as he pressed a kiss to the corner of my mouth.

"Um," I repeated, swallowing hard, even as I pulled his head down onto my shoulder. He drew back to look at me quizzically, still looking pleased as punch.

"Well, Miss Swan, aren't we loquacious this evening," he teased, raising one brow.

"I'm a little anxious," I admitted. His lip tilted up smugly. Cocky son-of-a -

"You don't say," he drawled. "Honestly, Bella, your heart's about to fly. What's got you so excited?"

"You," I mumbled, turning red as the M3.

His features filled with satisfaction. He pursed his lips at me. "Really."

I broke his gaze, and headed self-consciously up the verandah steps. He didn't follow me. "Coming?" I asked, and turned around to find him right where I left him, his eyes decidedly too low. "Edward Cullen! Are you ogling my ass?"

He crossed his arms, leaning on the hood of my truck, and put on a beautiful English accent. " 'Joining you would defeat the object, Miss Eliza. Your figure appears to best advantage when walking, and that I might best admire from my present position' ." He stepped toward me, lithely as a cat stalking a mouse. He stared down the front of my royal blue sweater, breathing me in. I thought I might just spontaneously burn to a crisp.

"You pulled the Darcy card," I breathed, tilting my face up in hopes of getting another kiss. He brushed a light one onto my mouth, chuckling under his breath. "That's not playing fair, Mr Cullen."

"There's nobody home," he growled seductively. "Do you know how rare that is?"

"Um, I can guess," I gulped. Be brave, Bella! "Um, about that?"

"Yes?" he asked, running his lips along my wrist.

"They've all gone out. All night," I said, a bit shakily.

"That's what they told me," he whispered, eyes shut. I decided the rest of the conversation should be conducted inside, where there was less chance of him throwing me out. I tugged ineffectually on him, and he followed me compliantly into the house. He shut the door and set my backpack down on the bench.

"So why should that make you nervous?" he asked happily. Stupid naive Victorian. Did I have to do all the work? Couldn't he meet me half way in the schmexin' department? Composing myself, I sashayed over to him, and ran what I hoped was a flirty finger down the zipper of his hoodie. It was one I had never seen before: black velour.

"We're all alone," I said, licking my lip shyly, stroking my fingers around on the soft fabric covering his pecs.

Edward casually hooked his thumbs through the belt loops of his jeans. "I hope that doesn't mean you want to waste the evening setting up pranks on them, although I admit it's rather tempting."

Sigh. It was all up to me. "Um, yeah, right, I was thinking of ... tempting you a different way," I blurted, flushing pink again.

He tipped up my chin, obviously trying to see the inner workings of my head. "You always tempt me, much too much." He leaned in for another kiss. I was getting decidedly warm. And dizzy. Yay! I could work with that.

"Breathe, Bella," he smirked, giving me room.

"Let's go upstairs," I suggested, giving him the eye. Normally, I'd have felt a moment's disorientation, and found myself right there. Not so tonight. Tonight, he stood awkwardly, peeking at me from under his lashes. "What's wrong, Edward?"

He ran a hand through his hair, nervously, and laughed a little. "Nothing. This has my sister written all over it. What did she tell you?"

I cringed a little. Busted. "Um, she just said I should bring my stuff over. She said you got me a present, and she thought I might like to use it. And... she made me pack my pj's."

Edward froze, his eyes dark. Then, confusingly, he laughed. "Did she tell you what your present is?" he grinned, his white teeth flashing.

"No, she wouldn't. She mentioned being afraid of my chipper-shredder," I admitted.

"She should be," he told me, eyes rolling. "Alright, Bella. I've been trying to figure out how to broach the subject with you, and I'm only tying myself in knots, so I guess the thing to do is just to show you, and ... hope that you..."

"Hope I what?" I asked eagerly.

"Hope you... like it," he said shyly. I had a feeling that it wasn't what he had intended to say. He was keeping secrets. Bratty, cryptic vampire.

I resolved that I would like it, whether I wanted presents or not. "Lead on," I encouraged. He walked beside me, not touching.

"I don't want to imply that this means anything inappropriate," he told me as we climbed the stairs. "I just thought maybe you'd ... stay... sometime. Someday, I mean, um, when you're ready. Maybe after graduation, now that you're eighteen. Um, if Charlie ... doesn't... find out and kill me." He looked at me shyly. "Alice would ... cover for us."

Cover for us? Edward wanted Alice to lie to Charlie? Clear as mud. The only thing I knew for certain was that Edward Cullen was nervous, and that was not necessarily a bad thing. "Okay," I mused uncertainly. What could it be?

Edward stepped around me to open his door, and ducked his head bashfully.

I was awestruck, certain that my mate was the most romantic guy on earth. "Did Esme help you do this?" I gawped.

"Uh, no. I ... planned and executed everything myself," he said, suddenly taking an extreme interest in his shoes. I decided he was also the sweetest, shyest, hawtest guy on earth. I stepped further into the room and looked around.

The formerly stark-white walls had been painted a soft mustard, and the heavy new leather draperies were a warm chocolate brown. His black couch had been pushed into the corner, near the French door, and dozens of small white candles were scattered throughout the room, in addition to several lamps with gold shades, casting warm pools of light everywhere. I kicked something, disconcerted when it rolled: another screwdriver.

"Mind you don't fall," he told me, smiling a little nervously. He hurried to collect a set of assembly instructions off the floor, along with a couple of hand tools and some screws and stuff. "I, uh, was just finishing up... when I noticed you... outside. It took me a really long time to put it together. The screws burr really easily." He jumped up hurriedly and disappeared into his closet, presumably putting his bits and pieces away.

"You ... you bought me a bed," I said incredulously, feeling my hopes rise. Perhaps he was willing to extend his physical boundaries after all. I stood awkwardly in the space between his small, antique desk and the queen-sized, wrought-iron canopy bed. I approached it, fondling the small iron roses that wound their way all over the frame, feeling tears prick my eyes. It dominated the room. Rather like the proverbial elephant.

He came back out of his closet. "Yeah," he said shyly, eyes still downcast. I thought my heart would burst with joy. He peeked at me hopefully, and his expression turned horrified. "You're crying!" he lamented. I hurried around the bed and put my hands on his cool cheeks, and pressed kisses to his surprised mouth. His coiled muscles relaxed.

"Thank you thank you thank you," I whimpered between kisses. "You have no idea how much this means to me. Edward, I love you."

"Yeah, I love you too. Um, wow. I had no idea... you would be so... enthusiastic," he blinked while I virtually crawled up his front.

"You made room for me in your life. Room for me to stay with you. You want me to live here with you," I half-sobbed, kissing him wherever I could reach. He pulled me back, chuckling at my ridiculousness.

"Well, yeah. Of course I want you ... to ... share my life. I wouldn't have promised to change you otherwise, would I?" A hint of sadness lurked somewhere in the happy. I tugged on his hands, and grabbed the big plastic zip-bag off the floor, opening it up and pulling out a comforter made of some decadent fabric, that wasn't far off from the colour of his hair.

"Help me with this," I grinned excitedly.

"Okay," he agreed, helping me to stretch it out and put it on the bed. Then, he gathered a bunch of golden, rust, and bronze pillows and throw-cushions off the floor, and arranged them artistically. I looked at the finished work with admiration.

"It's beautiful, Edward. I think it's the best gift you've ever given me, besides yourself," I enthused. His eyes rolled.

"I give her a diamond, and offer her a car and an Ivy League education, and what does she really want? A bed," he said, shaking his head in mock-sorrow. "Ah, modern youth!"

"Let's try it!" I demanded, kicking off my shoes, and pulling at him. He kicked off his own, and crawled up the end while I scrambled on from the side. Lying down on the side closest to the door, he put out his arm so I could rest my head on it. The bed was cushy as a cloud, and twice as warm. "Oh, I never want to move," I declared, snuggling into his chest.

"Mmm. That sounds..." he stopped.

"How does it sound?" I asked, stroking his face gently. Heavenly. That sounds Heavenly. He pushed his cheek into my hand. I realized with a jolt that he was sad. And I knew why.

"Too good to be true. It sounds too good to be true," he husked. My heart panged sharply. He let me draw his head down onto my chest, and run my fingers through his silky hair. My lonely soul. How long I had frustrated him! I realized, right then, that he loved me so much, that he was willing to settle for less than everything... he needed. How unselfish. Like a white knight. Time for the princess in the tower to come down.

"Let's have a little hypothetical discussion, shall we?" I murmured. He lay silently for a few minutes.

"Okay," he agreed.

"Let's say there was this guy. Let's call him ... Joe," I began. He breathed a laugh against my neck.

"Shall we call you Jane?" he asked, the beginnings of a smile rekindling around his edges.

"Heck no! I never want to hear that name again. Forever will be too soon," I declared, eyes rolling melodramatically.

"Fine then. Buttercup," he teased, smoky-eyed. The way he wrapped his lips around the name was positively sinful.

"Good name, considering she was totally snotty to her suitor and wouldn't reward his love," I acknowledged. Edward propped himself on his elbow, panicking.

"Bella, I-" he started, but I placed a finger on his lip, hushing him. His eyes dropped, crestfallen.

"None of that, Wesley," I ordered, drawing his head back down onto my chest. "Let's suppose ... there were these two insane people, named Wesley and Buttercup, who truly loved each other and just didn't know how to tell each other that they weren't getting what they needed in order to be... secure in the relationship."

He leaped back, almost falling off the bed, his eyes vulnerable and black. "Are you leaving me?"

"No! Lord, no! Sorry, sorry! Of course not! Get back here, you sappy date," I yelped, holding my arms out. He crept back into them, eyeing me like I imagined a bear might look at Emmett. "Um, see what I mean about not being good at talking?" He nodded barely perceptibly, still looking at me like I was going to gut his heart out and throw it on the new carpet. "Hush," I told him, resuming my ministrations, but he stayed tense. Oh, Bella. You moron. "Let's try again, okay?" He didn't answer. I sighed, and cleared my throat.

"Let's say there was this Lord High Executioner, who declared their mate bond valid," I suggested. "Let's call him..."

"Terrifying. Completely terrifying," Edward said with a shudder. I was thoroughly convinced it was genuine.

"Okay. CT. We'll call him CT," I declared. "CT said their mate bond was real, and they ought to get a move on and consummate it, and stop all the hemming and hawing about the parts of them that were... incompatible."

My mate looked totally perplexed. "Are you saying Wesley and Buttercup are incompatible?"

I sighed. This was not going as planned. I totally did not know how to express myself to him.

"Um, kinda, on account of Wesley being amazingly strong and therefore terrified to hurt her, and Buttercup being determined to make him act all tame when he's ... not sure he can."

Edward's muscles uncoiled a little. "Oh."

"And they both have needs that they are ... afraid to express, because in the past those needs have been viewed by each partner as illogical demands from the mate."

His tension was back. "Oh."

"But maybe, in view of his most recent gift, their needs are not as far apart as they... used to think," I said softly, feeling his muscles go slack.

"Really?" he murmured. "And how do you come to that conclusion?"

"Well, he got her this extremely large and comfortable bed, and turned his bachelor sanctuary into a total fairy-tale-worthy love nest."

"He did?" Edward asked hesitantly, biting his bottom lip.

"Totally," I asserted. "And by doing that, he reduced some of her fears."

"He did? What exactly was she afraid of?" he asked, blinking his golden eyes.

"That he... didn't really want to have her around forever," I said bashfully.

"I've told you a million times that I want you with me forever. It might be selfish, but you're stuck with me now. If you were to change your mind, I would accept it, but I would be... v-very disappointed."

My heart got all gooey. "I'm not going to change my mind."

"Is that all?" he asked, obviously relieved.

"Um, no," I winced.

"Oh," he said, his smile falling away.

"So... Wesley made these ... demands of Buttercup, and she really thought he was being silly, and she didn't see that the things he wanted were... needs."

"I see," he mused. "And what were these ... needs?"

"He needed her permission to take care of her, and he needed her to agree that if he was going to make her physically compatible with him, so he could keep her forever without feeling guilty, that she needed to recognize and accept his concept of the eternal relationship between mates. In short, he wanted to buy her things, send her to school, protect her from the wolves of the world, and get married."

"Sounds like a real ogre," he sighed.

"Shut up. He is not. He's just a man. Men are from Mars, you know."

He turned his eyes away. "She doesn't want the things he ... wants."

"She didn't, because she wasn't sure of him. She wasn't sure that he wanted the things that she needed him to want," I told him.

"This is getting confusing," Edward declared, brow wrinkling. "What is it that you aren't getting from me, Bella?" I felt the heat surge out of me. "You're blushing," he said, caressing my temple with his knuckles. "According to your little story, Buttercup views Wesley's wish to provide for her, protect her, and marry her, as demands rather than as evidence of his need to have her with him always. Correct?" I nodded.

"And if she were to get what she needs, she would give him everything he needs," I said, and blushed.

He looked confused. "Is this some sort of power struggle?"

"No," I growled, exasperated. "It's about compromising, in order to reach mutual fulfilment and personal satisfaction."

"I see." He caressed my face again. "Tell me what your demands are, Bella. And breathe."

I took a calming breath. "I want you to change me, as you know. I need that. I need to be your equal partner. Forever."

"I know that," he said simply. "You already have my word."

"I only have one other, little, solitary demand," I said rapidly.

"I was unaware that you had any demands other than having me change you into a soulless, terrifying monster. Go on," he said warily.

"I just upgraded my list to two demands," I declared, eyeing him beadily.

"Let's hear them," he said curiously.

"First, you must stop referring to yourself as a soulless, terrifying monster. None of those things are true."

"Alright," he sighed, resigned. "What's the other one?"

How to say it? "Um, back when we met, you had a hard time controlling your thirst," I began.

"Yes, but I learned to control it," he said, perplexed. "Like I said the other day, being near your blood doesn't bother me any more, Bella."

"I know. But... um... I'm assuming... you learned to control a lot of your other ... urges, too."

"What are you getting at? Just tell me what you want from me, and you can have it. Anything you want," he said rashly.

"Do you promise?" I asked, feeling like a coward for tricking him.

"Of course. What is it that you want?" he asked innocently.

"You," I mumbled, clutching the throat of the delicious hoodie and pulling him down to me. He kissed me absent-mindedly, confused, and then the missing puzzle piece seemed to snick into place.

"Oh, Bella, no," he said, pulling back. "Be reasonable. Sweetheart, it's much too dangerous. I -"

I rolled away, turning my back on him, the lump in my throat making it impossible to breathe. I prayed for a hole to crawl in, so I could expire in peace.

Edward clutched my shoulder, and gasped. "Did I hurt your feelings?"

"No, it's fine," I lied, and spoiled the lie with a little sniffle. When a woman says something is 'fine', it isn't. I wondered if he knew that.

"I did hurt your feelings. Don't ever prevaricate with me, Bella. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to," he said, caressing my arm as he rested his cheek on it. How irritating was that!

"Oh, you can't help it, even though I did tell you that it's the thing that's been making me insecure about marrying you," I snapped, unleashing my temper as I pushed myself up and stomped over to retrieve my knapsack. "You really make me feel like I'm some sort of villain, trying to steal your virtue." I suddenly found myself unable to move. "Let me go, Edward."

"Bella, it's not my virtue I'm concerned about. Talk to me," he pleaded, drawing me back to him by my wrist. He sat on the bed and pulled me between his knees. I kept my head down, unable to meet his eyes.

"Seriously?" Sometimes his age really showed.

"I've only left the one Commandment unbroken. It's probably too late for me. But your soul is pure. I will protect it."

He was too good to ever be sent to Hell. Why couldn't he understand that? Angry tears trembled on my lashes. "Hell is for people who don't repent their sins. But our love could never be a sin, and the Bible says that when people have sex, God considers them married. Don't you... want me?"

"Bella, it's not that I don't want you, you silly, brave, beautiful girl. You don't realize how desirable you are. If you could read minds, you would understand why I get so possessive. I sometimes feel like there's a line of suitors forming, waiting for me to botch this, so they can get their chance."

"Yeah, right," I cried, avoiding his eyes.

"Honestly. You'd be surprised," he asserted.

"Like whom?" I pouted, peeking at him.

"Banner," he said nonchalantly, "Davidoff, Clinton, Welmsley..."

"Ew! Welmsley's an old lady," I grimaced.

"Then I guess I shouldn't tell you about Mallory and Blewert," he said wryly.

"Eeeew! TMI ! I howled, slapping at his shoulder, which only earned me a sore hand. He took it, inspected it anxiously, and rubbed it between his cool ones, pressing a kiss to my palm. My treacherous body thrilled to it.

"Silly Bella. You should have learned not to do that after the dog..." he checked himself, looking sheepish.

"Guess so," I agreed sullenly.

"We digress. Talk to me. You can always tell me things, Bella."

"Because you have been so receptive to my words tonight," I said, eyes rolling. There was a snapping noise, and he showed me one of the cast iron roses, which was now residing in his palm. He closed his hand, and when he opened it, the rose was mangled beyond recognition. It looked like play dough squished between a child's fingers. He flexed his palm and it disintegrated into dust. He pitched it into the corner, where it fell against the wall with a sound like rain, his face twisted with self-loathing.

"I know you're strong," I said bitterly. "You didn't need to break the furniture. It's just that I don't believe that you would ever lose control with me. It's not that you aren't insanely strong, it's that you always harness your strength."

"Controlling my strength is a constant battle, Love. It's difficult to keep the monster harnessed. You want me to let him off his leash. I can never, ever take that kind of risk with you. Please, Bella. Wait until I've changed you. When you're durable I'm going to love you with everything I've got," he promised.

I slid out from between his legs. "No, you won't," I declared sadly.

He reached for me. "Of course I will." He held my fingertips gently, the picture of sincerity. I pulled them out of his grasp.

"I don't think you will," I sighed, turning away.

"Bella! That's not true," he protested, trying to get me to look in his eyes. He pulled me down onto his knee.

"You don't understand," I muttered, looking at the seam on the inner thigh that was touching my knees.

"That's the point," he declared. "Enlighten me."

I sighed, drooping, then met his eyes squarely. "How can I marry you, and commit myself forever, if I'm not convinced that you desire me? That you want me just as intensely as I want you? And be honest, Edward. You won't touch me unless we're married."

His face. Oh, holy crow. He was completely stunned. I blushed hotly. Now that he knew what a perv I was, he would admit he couldn't match my passion.

"Bella! What planet are you from, exactly! Believe me, I want to." He eyed me earnestly. "Haven't I been demonstrative with you? Do you think I don't enjoy-"

"Every time it gets the slightest bit steamy, you stop," I interrupted, angry tears welling. "I don't need words from you, Edward. I need actions. Evidence." I stood, preparing to run off like an infant, and he dragged me back down.

"Bella," he groaned. "Why must you insist on this? All the things I want to give you, and this is what you ask of me? I want to please you, by giving this to you while you're human, but I'm afraid. If I were to hurt you, I couldn't live with myself. And Bella, every time we... get excited, venom pools in my mouth."

"Please, Edward."

"Why?" he asked sadly.

"Because everybody keeps telling me that the thing I'll want more than anything in the world once you turn me is blood. And right now, the thing I want most out of anything in the world is you. And that's going to change, isn't it! I want you, while I'm still... me."

"Bella," he sighed.

"Please, Edward. Please. I need to know you, and you hide so much of yourself from me. I need your passion, Edward. Share all your love with me, and I'll... I'll marry you. And I'll let you buy me a car, and pay for me to go to some ridiculously expensive school, and-"

"Bella," he said, smiling like the sun after a rain. " Slow down."

"I'm tired of slowing down," I declared, sliding a hand down his abs. "Just try. It's all I want. Please, Edward, try? And if it's too much, and you can't do it, I'll still marry you. I swear."

"Seriously. I'm not going to marry you because you want to get giggedy. You've made it exceedingly clear, 2, 146 times, that you do not want to get married."

"Two thousand- you're joshing, right?" I winced, letting my hands fall.

"Sadly, no," he sighed, looking like he might just cry. "But I love you anyway."

Ouch. Beeyotch. "Edward, I haven't been honest. I was too proud," I said, biting my lip.

"What is it, Bella?" he asked nervously, eyes darkening again.

"I ... I do want to get married." I knew I was red as a beet. I shut my eyes, waiting for him to laugh. When he didn't, I peeked at him. He was gawping at me, open-mouthed. "I don't know why I kept telling you 'no'. I thought my reasons were valid at first, and then my excuses were blown out of the water one-by-one. And I just kept telling you 'no', even though my heart said 'yes'. I kept telling myself that if you ever showed up with a ring-"

He threw his head back and laughed like the proverbial bear. I crossed my arms, huffing. "It's not funny."

"You're not joshing," he said, his voice cracking.

"Shut your mouth or the flies will get in," I pouted.

He grinned at me, thoroughly delighted. "Are you asking me to marry you?"

I stuck my nose in the air. "Yes." He laughed even harder.

"You don't even have a ring," he said coyly.

"Like you do?" I protested.

He shook his head regretfully. "Oh, Sweetheart. I guess I'm just too much of a dinosaur to invert our roles. How about a compromise? It's worked for us before."

"What do you suggest?" I asked curtly.

He stroked my arms soothingly. "I suggest we get married, and I'll ... try. While you're still human. And at least then, if I ... hurt you, I can turn you right away, and nobody who owns a gun will be expecting you to be home by a certain time."

"But how do I know you'll keep your promise?" I growled contrarily. "If there's a loophole, you'll find it."

"Ah, Bella. I know better than to break a promise to you. You scare the crap out of the Volturi, for Pete's sake. My little lamb has teeth."

"And how will you manage to follow through on the deal? How do I know you won't bite me five minutes after we've started, leaving me high and dry?"

He raised his brows, conceding the point. "If we were engaged, I guess we could start to... practice."

Holey moley. I'm drenched. I think I just ruined his jeans. "Do you mean... ?" I asked suggestively. His eyes got all smoky again.

"Is it a deal?" He asked smugly. Cheater. My blasted stomach chose that precise moment to growl. He became concerned. "Didn't you eat dinner?"

I hid my eyes. "No."

"What am I going to do with you?" he asked, eyes rolling as he turfed me off his lap.

"Marry me?" I suggested, peeking at him. He cackled, not deigning to answer, and marched toward his door. Or perhaps one should say 'swaggered'.

"Are you going to turn me down 2, 146 times?" I called after him.

"Maybe. Payback's a bitch." I was stunned. He used the B-word! "I suggest you get your jim-jams on, Bella, and I'll serve you up one of your gourmet TV dinners. In bed." Damn if he didn't make that sound dirty. I caught myself, gawping after him, and then decided I only had about five minutes to get changed before he delivered me food. I snatched up my knapsack and flew to his bathroom, stripped down in record time, and struggled into four pieces of delicate, aquamarine clothing, almost falling over in the process. Stretch-lace cami? Check. And underwear. And long-sleeved, mandarin-collared satin pyjamas. I undid my French braid and finger-combed my hair, then rubbed my cheeks to pink them up.

When he came back upstairs, whistling, I was sitting under the covers waiting for him. He stopped dead in the doorway, the whistled tune morphing into a wolf-whistle.

"Stop," I giggled, bright red all over.

"You're only wearing that to tease me," he said, tongue in cheek, practically skipping in.

"Busted," I said, attempting to give him puppy-dog eyes without laughing.

Huffing a laugh, he set the large, white bed-tray on my lap, removing a silver serving lid with a flourish. "Your dinner, Miss Bennett: Mandarin salad, gravy and mash, and barbecued chicken wings." And a red sweetheart rose in a bud vase. And a linen napkin. And hot tea with sugar cubes and a silver spoon. Go 'head, Bella: Swoon.

"Thank you, Mr Darcy." I said, picking up my fork with trembling fingers, and stabbing gingerly at the salad. I ate self-consciously. As usually, he was staring. "Why do you like to watch me eat so much? And don't give me the usual about it being interesting because you can't do it yourself." He cleared his throat, looking sheepish. I narrowed my eyes, scooping up and savouring an exaggeratedly-slow bite of mashed potatoes, and watched him watch me. I licked the spoon. He swallowed hard. "Give," I growled.

He fidgeted, and looked out the window. "Pretty sunset."

"Edward. Stop deflecting."

"I can't tell you that," he whined, flustered.

"It's not up for debate. Talk."

"I can't help it. It's a fixation, okay?" he said curtly, looking out the window. I drove the spoon through the gravy, catching his eye. He started staring again. His eyes turned velvety black, with silver lights. I loved it when they did that.

"Oh," I said smoothly, licking off another spoonful. "An oral fixation?" Good to know.

"Jeez Louise. Will you stop doing that?" he moaned, watching the progress of the spoon regardless.

"Okay," I said, picking up a chicken wing. "Yum. Nothing like a little barbecue." I gnawed the meat off carefully, glad it wasn't overly-spicy.

"Glad you like it," my mate said gruffly, trying to keep his eyes off me by looking out the window. I decided to mess with him a little. Okay, a lot.

"Oh, I do," I said smugly, picking up the next wing and putting most of it in my mouth. I sucked on it a little, loudly, sneaking a peek at my mate. Yep. I pwned him, hook, line and sinker. I took the wing out of my mouth, and licked it, then bit it gently, tearing away the white flesh. He swallowed hard, staring. I put the bone back in my mouth, and swirled my tongue around it. Then, lips pursed, I pulled it out again.

"Bella!" he squeaked, then lowered his voice, attempting to be stern. "Bella!"

I picked up a wing with a nice knobby end, and swirled my tongue over it. Jessica Stanley had been teaching us all how to blow pop bottles at her sleepover parties. I licked sauce off my lips, looking at him wide-eyed. "Yes, Beautiful?" I stuck my thumb in my mouth and sucked on it.

He simply stared, black-eyed. "Um, never mind." I scooped up more mashed potatoes, and licked the spoon clean theatrically. I watched him obsess over it, and then, it struck me funny. I did it again. And again. The more lively my expression got, the more suspicious my mate's got, until finally, he growled at me. The sound went straight to my girlie parts. "Stop doing that," he directed me.

"Doing what?" I asked innocently, widening my eyes. I bit into a new piece of chicken.

His narrowed. "You know very well." I couldn't help myself. I burst out laughing, chucking my chicken bone onto the dish. He carefully moved the tray off my lap, onto the floor. "No more chicken wings for you, naughty Bella."

I scrambled out of the bed, onto his lap, and hugged him. He froze. I rested my chin on his shoulder. "Sorry, Mocha-chino Latte." He drew back, puzzled. "That's how you smell to me, plus leather and sandalwood."

"I'm surprised your nose is that discerning. But I refuse to accept the latte part. I do not smell in any way like fluffy milk." His hands wandered curiously over my slippery pyjama pants, and eventually rested on the back of my hips.

"Fine, Mocha-chino," I said silkily. "Suits you. You wear chinos a lot."

"Just don't call me that in front of anybody," he plead, eyes rolling.

"You smell like dessert," I told him, twining my fingers in the hair resting on the back of his neck. "I may just eat you."

In a flash, he was gone, standing wild-eyed in the hall, chest heaving.

"Sorry," I said meekly. After a few moments, he inched his way back into the room.

"I thought, for a minute, you were going to bite me. Don't ever bite me, Bella," he told me firmly.

"I'm sorry," I repeated.

"Practice," he murmured, moving to sit on the bed.

I ran my tongue over my teeth. Ew. "Will you excuse me for a moment?"

"Sure."

I slid off the bed and walked to his bathroom, opposite the bedroom door, feeling his eyes on me. "Are you ogling me again?" There was a pause.

"Guilty."

"Good." I opened the upper cupboard, to the left of the sink, retrieving my toothbrush and paste. In the mirror, I saw him get up, and half-expected him to join me. He liked my toothpaste. But he didn't. Instead, I heard his closet door open again. I grabbed a pristine glass out of the cupboard and rinsed my mouth, then wiped it on the hand towel, taking a surreptitious sniff of his robe on my way out. Of course he caught me.

"Are you perving on my robe?" he teased, brow raised, standing just inside his room.

"Yep. Can I wear it?"

"That would mean I'd have to wear yours," he informed me.

"Kinky. Is it pink?"

"Isabella!"

"I have a robe?" I asked him. Hawt hawt hawt.

"Um, yeah?" he said. I was making him nervous. Squee! "I figured if you were sleeping here, we both might need one. After all, I know you'll want to bathe and I do a lot and I didn't think you'd want to give my nosey family a show. Oh god that totally didn't come out right." He shut his eyes, pressing his fingers against the bridge of his nose. Adorable. I approached him, sliding a palm up his smooth cheek, and he let his arm drop. I ran both hands down his arm, and pressed his hand between mine, to draw him toward me.

"Come lie with me," I invited.

"W-we're not engaged yet," he said nervously, reclaiming his hand and hiding it behind his back.

"Close enough," I said, stepping closer. He backed up a step. I advanced. He backed up again, right against the bedpost.

"Y-you dangerous creature. Honestly, I know I'm hopelessly outdated. It's not a modern notion, but-"

"It's ancient. Practice, Edward." I trailed a finger down his chest, and sashayed back to the bed, crooking a finger at him. Miraculously, I didn't do anything embarrassing like trip over the perfectly flat floor. Life was looking up.

He ran a nervous hand through his hair. Behind him, the sunset was a riotous mass of reds and oranges. "I'm from a different era. Things were a lot less... complicated. You know, had we met back in the day, I'd have courted you. We'd have taken... cold tea on the back verandah, or lemonade." I was charmed. I always enjoyed his stories about life in his youth. "We'd have gone on chaperoned strolls, and to concerts. And it wouldn't have been very long before I realized that you were made for me. I may have stolen a kiss or two, but only after asking your father's permission," he gulped nervously, and I shifted, sensing his dynamics change, "I would have gotten down on one knee," he is, ohmygod he's going to do it, "and I would have presented you with a ring." He reached for my hand as my heart soared, and placed an old, black velvet box in it, opening it to display the contents: A large, oval setting of white gold, adorned with maybe fifty diamonds. "This was my mother's," he told me.

"Oh," I mouthed, heart full to bursting.

He set his jaw, doubtless encouraged that I had not stopped him from proceeding. His golden eyes burned with determination and love. "Isabella Swan? I promise to love you every moment of forever. Would you do me the extraordinary honour of marrying me?" He waited on pins and needles for me to respond. I held out my left hand to him.

"Yes," I said simply, and witnessed the joy kindle and spill out of him. It was breathtaking, and I felt my entire being turn incandescent. Reverently, he slipped the ring onto my finger.

"Perfect fit," he husked, and kissed it, bending my fingers over his to examine my hand, awestruck.

"You like that, don't you?" I teased through a throat thickened with tears. He leaned forward and pulled me into his arms, kissing me all over my face.

"So much," he breathed into my ear. "You have no idea." I realized that he was crying. He rarely cried in front of me. I wrapped my arms around his neck, overflowing with emotion. He rocked us while I clung to him, until we sniffled and snuffed up our dignity with a shared giggle.

"Emo," I teased him, wiping my nose elegantly with the back of my right hand.

"Takes one to know one," he accused, wiping my eyes. On impulse, I put my thumbs under his dry ones, as though taking away tears.

"Yup, we're both just a couple of sappy dates," I smiled shakily. "No more tears, Mr Cullen."

"No more sadness, Miss Sw-" I put my fingers over his lips, and followed them with a soft kiss.

"Mrs Cullen," I corrected him.

"Mrs Cullen," he echoed. "When?"

I considered. "This summer, after graduation. We'll need a little time to plan. A month before my birthday, and then, we can pretend we're going away to college."

"August 13th?"

"Yes."

And then, he hitched me around his waist, and stood up, twirling me around until I was positively giddy. Laughter bubbled out of him. I had never seen him so happy. Why had I denied him so long? I found myself pressed against the window, with my mate humming contentedly against my cheek. "So where are we going on the honeymoon?" I wanted to know.

"That's for me to know, and you to find out," he told me smugly, nuzzling my neck so that I shuddered with pleasure.

"Brat," I accused weakly.

"You love me," he crowed.

"I do," I affirmed.

"Say that again," he pleaded.

"I do. I do, Mr Cullen. I do want you. For my husband. Forever and ever. To love, honour, and cherish."

"Bella," he rasped, and his hands travelled around my back, and down to my backside, where they began to iron and knead my flesh. That was new. And highly agreeable. After a moment of disorientation, I found myself on the bed, propped on the pillows, with him leaning possessively over me. "We're going to wait. Right?" he asked, smouldering.

"Yes," I moaned, and he tipped up his head, seeking my mouth. I reached for his hoodie zipper, and drew it down, exposing his torso. He kissed me, and there was nothing chaste about it. It was exciting and demanding, and it burned for more. I put my hand on my top button, releasing the loop that held it shut. He stilled me. "What? Do you want to do that part?"

"I do," he told me.

Holy crow.

"Say it again," I ordered, pulling a hissing breath between my teeth.

"I do," he growled. I tried not to pass out from the thrill. He reached toward his waist, and there was a clacking sound. To my surprise, he drew out his belt, and dropped it on the floor. His leg slipped between mine, his fingers running down from my hip, and then he hitched my thigh up over his, pressing us together, and I felt him, hard, as he began to rub against the outside of my other thigh. Ohmygod! He can't be that big. Seriously. How does he hide it? I reeled.

"Breathe, Bella," he whispered into my ear, pulling my head against his chest. His scent intensified. Deepened. Surrounded me.

I needed friction. A lot more of it. Reaching behind me, I awkwardly tugged at his knee, and he obligingly brought it up so that his cool thigh pressed against me. Clenching his jaw, he stared at me through those black, silver-shot eyes, and I realized that when they were like that, it meant that he was turned on. Which meant that he was turned on a lot. That made me all kinds of smug. His eyes squeezed shut, and he looked almost like he was in pain. He wasn't breathing. I writhed against his rough jeans, and electricity shot through me in response to his soft moan. I heard him gulp down venom, twice. After a few minutes, he stiffened, shuddered, and arched, squeezing his eyes shut, and I shuddered too, gasping, white hot heat surging out of me. I was too shy to scream, even though I had to bite one back. Edward was also virtually silent. He lay panting as I collected my wits. I reached a languid arm up, intending to stroke his hair.

"Don't move!" he said, his voice strained, and stopped his breath. I decided it would be prudent to play dead. His head was heavy on my chest. He still wasn't breathing. I decided I was an apex predator rivalling my mate. I am a lion-tamer. Hah! I wondered how soon he would let me do it again.

Twilight was over. I lay still, triumphant, as the room grew darker and a sliver of moon shone through the trees. I decided I could stay like that forever, if that was what he wanted.

The firs of the rainforest whispered and waved, and the little candles reflected like fireflies, golden, on the glass wall. At last, he stirred, rolling onto his back, and pulled me with him so that I rested on his bare chest. I listened to his even breathing, deliciously happy. "You liked that, didn't you," he drawled, and I peeped up at him.

"So much," I quoted him. "You have no idea."

He breathed a laugh, twining my hair up on his fingers. "I think I have a pretty good idea."

I kissed his smooth chin, sucking it a little, and he tipped my face up so he could see me. "Thank you, Bella."

"I love you," I said soppily. The silver lights in his eyes glinted in the candlelight.

"As I love you," he slurred, looking almost sleepy.

"I thought you were going to undress me," I teased.

"I don't think I can do that just yet. Are you okay? I didn't hurt you, did I?"

"I'm perfect. You?"

"Yeah. I think... I'm relaxed..." he said, looking a little perplexed. Sitting up, he used one arm to slide me under the covers, and then joined me.

"Penny for your thoughts."

"Um, I just feel ... different. Almost like I could go to sleep. And just before he left, Jasper teased me. He peeked into my room, and he told me to have a nice nap. And then he laughed, picturing us asleep. Almost like it could happen. He's been teasing me a lot," Edward informed me, looking confused.

"Maybe you should ask Carlisle, Mocha-chino," I advised.

"Maybe," he conceded. We fell quiet.

"Mocha-chino?"

"Mm?"

"Your jeans are a little rough. Will you... take them off?"

He smirked in the semi-darkness. "Something tells me you have an ulterior motive."

I sighed. "You caught me."

"Don't push your luck, Bella. It's going to be an interesting battle if we're hiding here, with you burning, while my family is off somewhere dispatching Newborns." I shuddered a little. "No fretting, Love. Everything will be fine. By Wednesday morning, everything will be back to normal. Except better."

"Yeah," I agreed. I squirmed a little.

"Bella?"

"Mm?"

"This jacket? It's a pyjama top. I thought... Well, last spring was miserable for you because we couldn't keep you comfortable once it got mild out. The electric blanket was too much, remember?"

"Mm-hmm," I groaned sleepily.

"So... I could ... wear the pants," he said shyly.

"Yes, go change," I said, blinking groggily.

He slipped out of my arms. "You want me to shut the drapes?"

"When d-we haveta geddup?" I slurred.

"Dawn."

"Don' bother," I sighed. A few minutes later, I felt the cool air invade as he lifted the blankets and pulled me close. Everything faded away.

Something tickled my middle. I squinted. The light was so bright, it hurt my eyes right through their lids. I cracked one open, grimacing. The room was bright. It was sunny out. And someone was looking at me like a very naughty puppy. "Whadder you doin'?" I garbled, peeping at my mate. He smirked at me, smouldering intensely.

"Sorry," he said impishly, plainly not sorry at all.

"What time's it?" I wanted to know.

" 'Bout a quarter to six."

I stretched, and felt cool air touch my chest. I looked down, and blushed. All my shirt buttons were undone, and the pale aqua camisole was not leaving much to the imagination. The shadows of my nipples were dusky against the clingy fabric.

"I ... liked the buttons, Mrs Cullen. Cold?" he drawled, placing his hand on my sternum and running it upward.

"No, hot," I gasped.

"Mmm, good. I like the lace," he said, looking at me through those impossibly long lashes. Watching me, he placed tentative fingers on my boob. Ohmyohmy. Then, without warning, he flopped onto his back with a frustrated groan. "Jesus, Mary and Joseph! I looked at him, perplexed, as he started to button my buttons at an incredible speed. Within moments, I heard car doors, and the rev of a motorcycle. Voices chattered, and suddenly, we were not alone. Dancing yellow eyes appeared right in front of mine, making me jump out of my skin.

"Good morning, Bella," Alice sang.

"Morning," I growled. "Next time, knock."

"Ooh! Lemme see?" she sang, and I held out my hand and waggled it at her. "Edward, you are Mister Romance today. Congratulations. Both of you." We murmured our thanks.

"I wouldn't believe it if I couldn't see it," Jasper drawled, arms crossed in the doorway.

Emmett popped up from behind him. "I wouldn't believe it if I couldn't sm-"

"Em-mett!" my mate howled, pitching a shoe at the pair of them. "Get out!" All three vampires skipped from the room, and Edward lay back, blowing out his breath.

"Bella and Edward are getting married!" Alice bellowed, making the stairwell ring.

"Come on, Little Brother! Romance later. There's Kwoli Ute to meet and Newborns to kill," Emmett boomed, heading down the stairs to his room.

"Yeah, yeah," Edward said, eyes rolling. I felt more eyes on me, and looked shyly at the door. And boiled red. Carlisle and Esme were standing there, arm-in-arm, looking as proud as if they were attending a high school graduation.

"Good morning," Esme beamed.

"Um, hi?" I essayed. It wasn't every parent who was thrilled to catch their son in bed with his ... fiancée.

Edward spooned up behind me, resting his mussed head on his hand. "Five more minutes, Mom?"

"Just five, mind you. We have Newborns to shred."

" 'Kay," my mate said. His parents backed out. Before shutting the door, Carlisle gave us two thumbs-up. How embarrassing. I didn't imagine Charlie would have the same reaction. Edward threw his leg over me, nuzzling my neck.

"How far do you think we can get in five minutes?" I protested, grabbing his face and giving it a playful shake. His cheek was rough. Wow.

"Pretty far," he smirked, looking at me like I was something to eat.

"Practice, Edward," I breathed in his ear, pulling him down.

"With pleasure, Mrs Cullen."