Rating: M

Genre: Twilight

Author: Kiva Johns-Adkins (TwittahMom)

A/N: While writing EPOV of the Twilight Saga I always go back to Edward's past, in journal entries or thoughts. I have long believed Edward's Catholic upbringing and faith made him who he is so this delves into that and shows us what his life would have been like had he met Isabella Swan in 1918, Chicago. The biggest thanks in the world goes to my long-term Beta, ForksPixie who always makes sure my facts are straight. She really had her work cut out for her on this one, checking and double-checking my Catholic references. You wouldn't have my Edward if it wasn't for her. And thanks to UNF4Rob for the beautiful banner that brings this to life. This was written for Fandom4Floods and I have been so anxious to share it with you all. I hope it buys me a little time with you until the next update of Shroud (working on it).

THAT BOY

June 16, 1918

I awoke to the smell of fresh bacon crackling in the skillet, the smell wafting from the kitchen up the stairs to my bedroom. The warm Chicago sun streamed through my window, dancing across my sheets with a gentle breeze.

I graduated from high school last summer and had spent the last year as an intern at my father's law office. He and my mother wanted me to go on to Northwestern this fall and begin my studies to become a lawyer, just like dad. I, however, had other intentions. I had made it very clear that my desire was to join the military and go off to the European front to fight in the Great War. Neither one of my parents would agree to it and said that if I was to make that decision, it would be after I turned eighteen. Lucky for me, my birthday was less than a week away and my destiny was close at hand.

"Edward!" my mother called from the bottom of the stairs. "You need to wake up and come down for breakfast. We need to start heading for church soon. Father Daly is offering a very important sermon today."

I was the only child and I understood their hesitation in allowing me to follow what I felt was my destiny to fight in the Great War. But understanding it didn't make me agree with it. It would be difficult to leave my mother, Elizabeth. I couldn't bear to see her soft green eyes tearing up one more time, pleading with me to embrace the gifts I had been given with a comfortable upbringing in a good Catholic home. My father, Anthony, was a great man, very well-respected as a lawyer and member of the neighborhood community and an integral part of Old St. Patrick's Catholic Church. But I was not my father. I would never be my father. While he was a great man, I never endeavored to be my father. I wanted to be my own man. Leaving Chicago and heading to the front lines of the battles in Europe was my way to show everyone the man I wanted to be.

"I will be down in a moment, Mother!" I called back, forcing myself to swing my legs over the side of the bed, my feet hitting the cool wooden floor.

Just as I stepped out into the hallway to make my way to the bathroom for my morning shower, my father stepped out of his room. His reading glasses had slid down the bridge of his nose and he was intently reading something when he stopped to speak to me.

"Your mother and I have been giving great thought to your request to join the military," he started. I looked him directly in the eye, making sure I hadn't heard him wrong. I tried to hide my gleeful surprise. "Perhaps after church we can sit on the back porch and enjoy some tea and sandwiches to discuss it further."

"Thank you, Father. I would be most grateful," I said, stepping into the bathroom and shutting the door behind me.

As the water of the shower beat upon my skin, it took me to another world. For the first time, I could actually picture myself clearly in my Army uniform, standing shoulder to shoulder with my European counterparts, pointing my rifle at the German enemy. Before, I had only dreamed I could one day get the chance to keep evil at bay, before it found its way to the shores of my country, and my family. Now, it seemed, I was one step closer to reality.

After my shower I joined my parents for breakfast. My mother was always so good to us, feeding us the heartiest of meals, especially on Sunday morning since the rest of the day was for sandwiches and soups. I had bacon, sausage, eggs, black pudding and grilled tomatoes with brown bread. I chased it with a strong Irish coffee, with plenty of milk and a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice as my mother skimmed the Chicago Tribune. Mother sipped on her coffee with cream while looking over the society page before we headed off on our Sunday morning walk to Old St. Patrick's Church.

I walked behind my mother and father, who held hands as they strolled with bibles held tightly in their other hands. My mother would occasionally look over her shoulder at me and smile, then look up to the sky in deep thought, perhaps asking God to bring me to my senses before our after-church discussion.

Just as the Adams Street church came into view, my father reached down and picked a daffodil, handing it to my mother, who blushed as she took it gently in between her fingers and leaned down to inhale the bloom. She then carefully tucked it into her Bible as a place holder, with the beautiful bloom peeking out safely from the top.

"Good morning Mr. and Mrs. Masen," Father Daly said, taking my mother's gloved hand in his, helping her up the steps to Old St. Patrick's Church. "Edward."

"Good morning, Father Daly," we said in unison.

As we stepped into the sanctuary we each dipped our fingers in the Holy Water and made the sign of the cross, briefly kneeling in reverence to the altar at the front of the church. My father took my mother's arm in his and I followed them as they made their way down the aisle to our regular seat on the fifth pew back to the left of the church. My father was very regimented and liked his routine. I have to admit, I did, too. There was comfort in knowing what to expect. I imagined that was why our Irish-Catholic background was so important to us.

The history of our church was not as long and storied as churches in Europe, but it was a great story, nonetheless. It was one of only a few buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and was now the oldest public building in the city. Old St. Patrick's Church had been a part of our family since my ancestors settled in Chicago. Our family was even there when the church was dedicated on Christmas Day, 1856. The history of my family, my church and my country was what made me want to go overseas to battle the forces of evil. I wanted to maintain the history I had known and lived for my children and their children.

After Father Daly made his way to the altar the services began and I stood up, sang, knelt and responded, almost robotically. The fact was, I was anxious to get home and discuss my plans to enter the military. I just knew it was my lucky day.

"Today I will read from Homily number forty. In this day and age, with changes to our world like automobiles and industry and war being waged on foreign fronts we, as Catholics, need to remember our virtues and their role in not only our lives, but others as well, and how they intertwine:

"'One: Concerning exterior discipline and what practice is best and first, know this, beloved, that all the virtues are bound up together. The one is linked to the other, like a kind of spiritual chain; prayer to love, love to joy, joy to meekness, meekness to humility, humility to service, service to hope, hope to faith, faith to obedience, obedience to simplicity. And on the opposite side, evil things are bound one to another, hatred to anger, anger to pride, pride to vainglory, vainglory to unbelief, unbelief to hardness of heart, hardness of heart to carelessness, carelessness to sloth, sloth to sullenness, sullenness to want of endurance, want of endurance to love of pleasure. The other parts of vice, likewise, are dependent upon each other; so also on the good side the virtues are dependent on each other and connected."

Father Daly's words resounded with me in regards to the war. The spiritual chain versus the chain of evil was exactly like the Allies vs. the Central Powers. Surely, God was on the side of the Allies and victory would be ours and I would be there to raise the American flag next to my counterparts from England, France and Russia.

"'Two: But the chief of all good endeavor, the topmost of right actions, is perseverance in prayer, from it we may daily gain increasingly the rest of the virtues through asking them of God," Father Daly continued. "By it is formed, in those to whom it is vouchsafed, the fellowship of the holiness of God and of spiritual energy, and the attachment of the disposition of the mind to the Lord in love unspeakable. The man who compels himself every day to persevere in prayer is enflamed with divine affection and fiery longing by spiritual love towards God, and receives the grace of the sanctifying perfection of the Spirit.'"

It suddenly seemed as though Father Daly's message was taking on a whole new meaning to me. It seemed as though he was encouraged me, and me alone, to focus on prayer. Prayer to end the war, rather than focusing on fighting it on the field of battle.

As I was taking in the words of Father Daly, the doors of the church creaked open. A narrow ray on bright sunshine from the beautiful summer morning slipped through the slight opening in the door and hit me with its warmth on my neck. I quietly turned my head to see who it was that would step into a church at such an inappropriate time. It was then that my destiny changed. It was then that Isabella Marie Swan stepped in through the sunshine and shook up the quiet, safe routine of my little world.

My mother and father kept their eyes respectfully on Father Daly but me, and most of the young men in the church, were unable to take our eyes off of the beautiful young girl that stepped into our church. On the arm of the man I assumed was her father; a middle-aged man with dark hair, dark eyes and a dark handle-bar mustache was an angel on earth. Following closely behind was another woman of equal but more aged beauty. I assumed the petite woman was the angel's mother.

I barely heard Father Daly's words as he continued the homily, transfixed by the chestnut-haired beauty with the darkest eyes. She looked towards the ground, biting on her lip as she blushed, realizing she was the focus of so many men's attention.

"Three: Question," Father Daly continued. "Since there are some who sell their goods, and emancipate their slaves, and perform commandments, yet do not seek to receive the Spirit in this world, living thus, do they not go into the kingdom of heaven?"

Something about seeing that angel changed everything in an instant. I no longer pictured myself in battle on the front lines of the European theater. The only vision in my mind was of walking hand in hand through a meadow of wildflowers with the girl with the chestnut hair.

"Answer," Father Daly continued. "This is a subtle matter. Some say that there is one kingdom and one hell; but we say that there are many grades and differences and measures, both in the kingdom and in hell. As there is one soul in all the members, which operates aloft in the brain, and also moves the feet beneath, so the Godhead contains all creatures, the heavenly, and those under the bottomless pit, and is everywhere fulfilled in the creation, although it transcends the creatures, because it is infinite and incomprehensible."

My mother conspicuously tugged on my suit coat with her fingers, forcing me to turn my attention back to the front of the church.

"This Godhead looks upon men, and providentially orders all things according to reason; and when some pray, not knowing what they seek, and some fast, others continue in service; God being a just judge, gives to each a reward according to the measure of faith. What they do, they do for the fear of God; but not all these are sons, or kings, or heirs."

The beauty walked past me, to the pew in the front and to the right of me. The loveliest scent of honeysuckle and lavender wafted in front of me as she took her seat. I had the perfect view of her. As she opened her Missalette I saw her shoot a bashful glance in my direction and Father Daly's words yet again had new meaning; his sermon evolving with each new moment. God was rewarding my faith by sending me an angel to re-direct my path to one of love, not war; one of prayer, not action.

"And in the world there are some who are murderers, others fornicators, and others extortionists, while others distribute their own possessions to the poor. Upon both these classes the Lord keeps His eye, and to those who do well, He gives refreshment and reward," Father Daly read. "For there are superior measures, and there are little measures, and in light and glory there are differences, and in hell itself and punishment appear poisoners and robbers, as well as others who have committed only little sins… and how many there are now who pray and fear God! On these and those alike, God keeps an eye, and, like a just judge, prepares refreshment for the one and punishment for the other."

The service progressed as usual and I tried my hardest to listen to all Father Daly had to say, but I was drawn to the new visitor to our church and I found it nearly impossible, to pull my attention away from her.

"I pray that our Heavenly Father help guide each and every one of us to give of ourselves to one another and to the community and the world we are a part of," Father Daly said.

"Lord, hear our prayer," the congregation recited. My hearing zoned in on the voice of the Chestnut haired girl with the chocolate eyes and I hoped the Lord was hearing my prayer; to meet the beautiful girl and know, without a doubt, that my future was intertwined with hers.

"Heavenly Father, please guide and give strength to President Wilson, Prime Minister George, Prime Minister Clemenceau and Lenin as they make choices and decisions to protect their countries and the world as a whole from the Central Powers."

"Lord, hear our prayer," we recited.

"And Heavenly Father, please guide, protect and bless Pope Benedict the Fifteenth as he works diligently to guide the faithful throughout the world, to find a peaceful resolution to this war he has deemed the suicide of civilized Europe."

"Lord, hear our prayer."

"And Heavenly Father, bless each and every member of my flock and bless and guide them as they make their path in your beautiful world."

"Lord, hear our prayer."

Finally we were able to step forward and take Communion and I found myself standing next to my angel in front of Father Daly, and visions of my future flashed before me; each of us kneeling before Father Daly at our wedding mass. I couldn't get the beautiful girl out of my head and every glimpse or scent of her sent my imagination into over-drive.

Throughout the remainder of the service each of us stole glances with each other, my mother occasionally taking note and nudging me back to the service. However, I noticed a slight smile crossing my mother's lips and I knew she must have caught a glimpse of what I saw; my future as a husband, not a soldier.

At the end of the service, Father Daly invited the congregation to come together at the rectory to meet and welcome new guests of the church.

"We have time to introduce ourselves," I whispered in my mother's ear. "Don't we?"

My mother caught me sneaking a glance in the direction of the angel, who was looking in my direction as her mother and father shook hands with their neighbors.

"Of course we do, Edward," my mother said, smiling at me, then at my father and back at me. "We have all day."

As soon as the service concluded I proceeded to walk the two blocks back to our home on Monroe Street and bring back the deviled eggs and baked beans my mother had prepared that morning. When I stepped into the rectory I saw my angel being introduced, along with her mother and father, to my parents by Father Daly.

After I sat the dishes down on the buffet table I made my way towards the group, looking forward to being formally introduced. As I stepped into their circle my senses were pleasantly assaulted by the scent of honeysuckle and lavender and I knew it was the scent of my angel.

Father Daly put one hand on my father's back and the other on the father of my mystery girl, joining our families together, symbolically.

"Mr. Edward Masen, Sr., this is Charles Swan and his wife Renee and daughter, Isabella." My father shook Mr. Swan's hand and offered a chaste kiss on the hand of each of the ladies of the family. "They have moved here from California. Mr. Swan has taken a job with the Chicago Police Department as a detective."

"What an interesting line of work you are in, Mr. Swan," my father offered. "I am a lawyer with the District Attorney's Office. I am sure we have much to talk about; compare notes if you will."

"Well, I will leave you to compare notes. Please continue to introduce the Swans, Mr. Masen," Father Daly requested before moving across the room to make introductions for a newly married couple that just joined our congregation.

"Mr. Swan, Mrs. Swan, Isabella," my father gestured towards my mother and I. "This is my beautiful wife, Elizabeth and our son, Edward, whom I hope will follow in my footsteps as an attorney one day."

Bella slipped off her gloves as everyone shook hands. There was nothing remarkable in our families meeting until I reached to take Bella's hand in mine to introduce myself. Her fair skin was so soft. She was a tiny girl and seemed very fragile. I had a strong desire to place her upon a shelf with my mother's glass menagerie in order to protect her.

"Pleased to meet you, Edward," she said softly, offering a curtsy to me.

"The pleasure is all mine, Isabella," I smiled, hesitantly releasing her hand because there was nothing more I wanted to do than to hold on to it forever.

"Please, call me Bella," she said as our parents engaged in adult conversation, leaving us to ourselves.

"Renee, I must make my way over to the buffet table to organize these dishes coming in," my mother said, touching Mrs. Swan's arm with her hand. "Would you mind helping me? I can introduce you to some of the Women's Auxiliary."

"Of course," Mrs. Swan smiled hesitantly, following my mother, looking over her shoulder at Mr. Swan and Isabella.

My mother stopped suddenly and turned to face the Swans. "Before I forget, I would love to have you over to our house this week for dinner."

"That is most gracious of you, Mrs. Masen," Mr. Swan replied.

My father smiled and lit up a cigar and offered one to Bella's father. "Perhaps Elizabeth will fix her famous pot roast. No one in Chicago can touch it."

"Thank you, Mrs. Masen," Bella said. "I would love to taste a good pot roast."

Her mother shot her a knowing smile and her father laughed. "What Bella means to say is Renee is not a good cook at all. Bella does most of the cooking in our house."

"Well, Isabella, it is a pleasure to meet you," my mother said, extending her hand to her. "I look forward to having your family over to our house and swapping recipes with you."

Bella was flattered at the invitation and compliment and smiled, which made me smile. My mother was being her normal, gracious self, but it was garnering me points with the young Miss Swan.

"Thank you Mrs. Masen," Bella said. "That would be wonderful."

As our mothers made their way to the gaggle of women that had converged on the buffet table, our fathers made their way across the room to meet up with other men, puffing on their cigars. That left the young Miss Swan and me alone.

"Would you like a glass of lemonade and a cucumber sandwich?" I asked, reaching for a plate at the buffet table.

"That would be lovely, thank you," she smiled.

I put a sandwich and a couple of butter cookies on her plate and handed her a glass of lemonade. I held her plate for her as I led her across the room to a less crowded area.

"It is a lovely day," I said, taking my chances she might want to go outside. "Would you like to go sit in the garden and talk?"

She smiled bashfully, considering my invitation.

"I'm not sure," she said with a slight giggle. "I would love to, but my parents are in the middle of being introduced to the entire congregation, one member at a time, by your parents."

I looked across the room to see my mother, Elizabeth introducing Renee to all the ladies she knew from prayer groups, reading groups and fundraising groups. My father was sharing a cigar with Mr. Swan, introducing him to a few other police officers and lawyers that attended our church.

"It's just outside," I reassured her. "There are plenty of people around and I am a gentleman - I assure you. There is no reason to fear for your honor."

She laughed and I looked at her quizzically.

"I am sure you are, Edward. I am not worried a bit about my honor. I just don't want my parents to worry where I disappeared to."

I smiled, realizing I was worrying far too much about appearances and being proper instead of just enjoying the moment I was having with the beautiful Isabella.

"Well, if you wait here, I can go inform your father that I will be taking you out to the garden; if you like," I said, smiling at her in hopes she would say yes.

"Thank you, Edward," she smiled. "That would be very nice of you and I wouldn't have to fret about worrying my parents."

I made my way across the room to Mr. Swan and asked for his approval to escort his daughter out into the church garden for a bit of conversation. My father smiled slyly as I asked. Pleased I was sure, that I had taken interest in the girl. No girl before had ever caught my attention the way Miss Isabella Swan had and I was certain my father was hopeful it would change my outlook on life. Mr. Swan looked across the room at his daughter who smiled and nodded that it was okay with her.

"That would be very nice, Edward," Mr. Swan said. "Please, regale her with stories of life in Chicago. She was so very upset when I announced we would be moving here. Perhaps you can share some of the blessings this wonderful city has to offer."

"It would be my pleasure," I assured him before returning to Bella, who had just finished her sandwich.

"Would you like me to refresh your glass of lemonade before we go outside?" I asked. She was hesitant to ask me to do so, so I offered her a reassurance. "I need to refresh my glass as well, so it would be no trouble at all."

She dipped her head, bit on her bottom lip and slid her glass towards me. "Thank you."

With fresh glasses in hand, I led Bella out to the garden, her arm wrapped through mine, her hand clutching to my elbow. As we made our way up the stone steps from the rectory to the garden, she used her free hand to lift her skirt, showing a hint of her dainty ankles. Despite the stockings that covered her skin I knew her legs were the same milky white as her face and I hoped one day I might have the pleasure of touching them.

"So, what do you do, Edward?" she asked as we walked through a path in the rose garden.

"Right now I intern in my father's law office," I began. "I haven't quite decided how I want to proceed with my immediate future. I considered fighting in the Great War, but I might also go on to college now, rather than later, so that I might start a life of my own and be able to provide for my own family."

"You have a family of your own?" she asked in surprise as we took a seat on a stone bench surrounded by peach and yellow roses with a fragrance very complimentary to Bella's own scent.

I laughed. "Oh, no. Not at all. I only hope to have a family of my own one day."

"So you are not betrothed to another?" she asked, bashfully.

"No," I smiled. "No girl or woman ever caught my eye or peeked my interest in that way, until you walked through the church doors this morning."

The familiar blush I had seen earlier returned, the pink flushing her milky white cheeks.

"I'm sorry," I apologized. "I didn't mean to be so forward. I was just so taken aback by you. Just this morning I couldn't wait to get my parent's permission to sign up to fight in the war, although I turn 18 in a week and could do it on my own. Then I saw you and all of that changed. I can't explain it."

She took a sip of her lemonade and sat the glass down on the bench next to her, crossing her hands in her lap as she looked up at me in earnest.

"I do so hope you choose to remain in Chicago," she said. "I have only just arrived and you have been so kind and wonderful. I would like to have the company of your friendship and allow you to teach me about your beautiful city."

I sat my drink on the ground next to me and looked her directly in her dark chocolate eyes. "If that is your wish, it is my desire to grant that wish."

She smiled, pleased that I was agreeable to staying in Chicago to serve as company to her. There was a short, awkward silence before I spoke.

"So, tell me more about you and your family, Bella," I urged. "California must have been fascinating."

"Well," she smiled. "It was always sunny and I did very much like going to the beach with my family, sunbathing and searching for seashells. I have quite the collection."

"So, what made your father decide to come to Chicago?" I asked.

"There were more opportunities for advancement here and they have a very good nursing program at St. Anne's Hospital. It is my father's desire that I do my part to help in the war effort by becoming a nurse to help soldiers coming in and out of Navy Pier as they ship off."

I paused, thinking of Bella caring for the sick and infirmed soldiers, perhaps taking pity on one of them and falling under their spell. Quite frankly, I did not like the thoughts of that.

"Is that what you desire?" I asked.

"I am only a woman, Edward," she smiled. "Society is changing, but not that much. It hardly matters what I desire. My father knows what is best for me and nursing is a wonderful skill and it is doing God's work."

"If I may be so forward," I began. "You are a beautiful young woman, Bella Swan and you can be anything you desire to be; a nurse, a teacher, even a police officer like your father. I understand they are accepting women now."

She laughed in embarrassment. "My father would be mortified if I thought of becoming a police officer. Besides, that is man's work. I want to become a good wife and nurturing mother one day and nursing will help guide me in that direction."

Bella and I went on to talk for perhaps another hour or so, uninterrupted; her telling me about her days in high school in California, from where she had just graduated. She told me about the most amazing trees called Redwoods that reached to the heavens. She assured me it was something I had to see in person one day before I died. I made note of it and committed to memory to put it on my list of must-see things. Maybe one day, Bella would show me her beloved Redwoods.

I told her about all of the beautiful museums in Chicago and how I would love to take her to each of them and give her a tour. My mother had a great love of art and I had grown up spending much of my free-time with her at places like the Art Institute of Chicago, discussing the works of Monet and Renoir.

I proceeded to tell her the story of the Great Chicago Fire and how it began with an accident involving Mrs. O'Leary's cow. Bella was amazed that such a simple accident could cause so much devastation. But I assured her that it had all been for a reason, for a rebirth of my beautiful city, which had rebuilt itself, bigger and better, hosting the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.

XXXXX

For three days I anxiously anticipated the arrival of the Swan family, particularly Bella. When she and I first met I felt a spark – something I had not felt with another girl. I had a feeling she was the one and I couldn't wait to see her again.

Just as my mother sat the dishes on the table there was a soft knock at the door and I rushed to answer, knowing it was Isabella.

"Welcome to our home, Mr. and Mrs. Swan, and Isabella," I greeted as the Swans stepped into the foyer of our home. Father stood by and took everyone's coats.

"Something smells wonderful," Mrs. Swan said.

"Pot Roast," my mother answered, entering the hallway, wiping her hands on her apron before she shook Mr. and Mrs. Swan's hands.

"I am a horrible cook," Renee reminded us.

"Well, Renee, perhaps we could take some cooking classes together," my mother laughed. "Welcome to our home. I am so glad you could make it."

My father returned from depositing the women's wraps and Mr. Swan's jacket into the study.

"Please," he motioned us to the lounge room. "Let's all sit and enjoy a cup of tea as dinner finishes."

"Thank you," Isabella and Renee chimed together as everyone made their way into the lounge room.

"So good to see you again, Isabella," my father said, hugging Isabella around her shoulders as she prepared to sit on a bench near the window. "How are you finding your studies at St. Anne's?"

"It is a bit overwhelming since I don't know the area or anyone in classes with me," Bella answered bashfully. "But, for the most part, all the girls are nice and I am catching on quickly."

We each partook in idle conversation for the short time it took the pot roast to finish, my mother pulling Mrs. Swan into the kitchen with her, perhaps in hopes her culinary skills might brush off on her.

Over dinner, my mother and Isabella swapped recipes of their favorite meals and I longed to try Bella's cooking, particularly her recipe for Beef Stroganoff.

After dinner we each drank tea and coffee and planned future Sunday get-togethers. Just as the Swans were about to leave, I made my way to Bella, with a gift, wrapped in a beautiful handkerchief decorated with the bluebird of hope.

"This is for you, Bella," I offered, placing it in her hands.

"Oh, Edward, I couldn't—," she protested before I cut her off.

"It is nothing. The handkerchief is new and just for you, but the book is from my own collection. It is Virgil. Do you know his works?" I asked as she unfolded the handkerchief to reveal the green book 'Doomed Love'.

"Don't worry," I smiled, "It is not nearly as dire as the name implies.

"Thank you, Edward," she smiled, wrapping the book back up and holding it close to her chest. "I will begin reading it tonight."

XXXX

For the next two months of Sundays, Bella and I spent time talking with one another in the garden of the rectory as our parents spent time becoming acquainted with one another. My father ended up inviting Charlie to attend one of his regular monthly poker games at a Judge's house near our own home. My mother took the opportunity to invite Renee and Bella to come over to share dinner with the two of us and partake in a game of charades.

"You are a wonderful cook, Mrs. Masen," Bella complimented after cleaning her plate of Lasagna. "You could happily feed an army."

Her mother chuckled and wiped the corners of her mouth, before placing her napkin on top of her finished plate of Lasagna. "I manage to cook, but I am not very good at it, Elizabeth. Bella actually cooks most of the meals. She has quite the culinary knack," Renee admitted, causing Bella to blush.

"Perhaps one day I might have the pleasure of eating one of your favorite dishes," I said as I cleared the dinner table and took the dishes to the kitchen.

"Perhaps," Bella smiled, picking up a couple of dishes and following me through the dining room doors to the kitchen.

"Edward, would you mind pouring Renee and I each a cup of coffee?" my mother asked. "We will take it in the parlor and leave you and Bella to wash the dishes."

Bella looked at me in surprise as I raked the scraps into the trash can.

"You do dishes?" she whispered.

I leaned in towards her, smiled and whispered, "And laundry, too. My mother worried I would never find a woman to care for me and wanted to make sure I was self-sufficient."

Bella burst out laughing, covering her mouth with her hand. "I'm sorry," she apologized. "I know it is not funny, but my father would eat off the floor before he ever washed a dish."

I made my way to the carafe and poured two fresh cups of coffee. "Then your father is missing out," I said. "I have learned quite a bit about how hard women work and the contributions they make to their families. It also has offered me a great opportunity to spend quality time with my mother I wouldn't otherwise have."

Bella reached for the coffee cups. "Please, let me take them to our mothers. Then I will return to help you with the dishes."

I smiled as she walked through the swinging door into the dining room. I loved watching her go as much as I liked watching her arrive. She was a beauty in every way and I was certain God brought her to me, for me to love and care for.

The afternoon we first met I informed my parents that I had begun to re-think my plans to join the military and they smiled happily, not prodding. I turned eighteen one week after I met Bella and I could have been away in basic training already, but I didn't want to be. The only place I wanted to be was with Bella.

I filled the sink with warm, soapy water and carefully dropped the dishes in to the water when Bella came back through the kitchen doors. She made her way to a hook on the wall and pulled down one of my mother's aprons, tying it around her waist.

"I insist on washing the dishes," she smiled, nudging me aside with a bump of her hip. "You can dry."

When her hip touched mine a surge of energy crossed between us, rushing to my chest and to other more private areas. Bella Swan had an effect on me that I could not deny and I was certain that although we had barely met she was the girl for me.

"I am glad God brought you and your family to Chicago," I admitted to her.

She smiled bashfully, washing a plate, never making eye contact with me.

"I am too," she said. "It seems this is where I was meant to be."

XXX

Soon we found ourselves visiting each other's homes on not just Sundays, but Saturdays as well. The rest of our weeks were busy with her studies at the hospital and my interning at my father's office. Soon, the Fall Semester at Northwestern University would begin and I would immerse myself in my studies.

In early August we visited the Swan's house, which was only a few blocks away from our own, to enjoy a late summer picnic.

My mother made fried chicken, corn on the cob and her famous baked beans. Renee and Bella made a fresh spinach salad and had prepared a lovely fruit salad for us.

We all laughed and swapped stories of my father's knack for losing at every poker game, and Renee's futile attempts to prepare some of the new meals she had learned to cook with my mother at a local cooking class.

Bella told of the influx of soldiers coming in to St. Anne's for physicals and check-ups before heading off to the European front. Most of the injured were cared for at other hospitals, but she saw the occasional soldier who had lost an arm or a leg and talked of their loneliness and despair when their girls never showed up to welcome them home. I listened intently to everything she had to say and thought it was such a shame that she would have to see such things. She was a beautiful woman who deserved beautiful things. Most of all, she deserved to be loved and doted upon, never having to lift a finger.

I stood and took Bella's hand in mine, which surprised her.

"The sun is going down and there is something I want to show you before it gets too dark," I smiled.

She took my hand and stood, looking at me in wonderment. Her father looked at me in hesitation but didn't say a word.

"I have been meaning to show you the art of eating honeysuckle," I smiled.

Our parents chuckled, surely remembering the treat from their own childhoods.

"Eating it?" she asked in surprise and I tucked her arm in the crease of my elbow, leading her off to the large honeysuckle bushes that lined the perimeter of our property.

"Oh my, yes," I laughed. "There are so many gifts and treats God provides for us that should not be missed out on and eating, rather, sucking on honeysuckle is one of those things."

"I trust you," she said, leaning her head against my shoulder.

"I adore you, Miss Bella Swan," I whispered against her hair.

"As I do you, Mr. Masen."

I led Bella to my favorite honeysuckle bush and picked one out from it.

"You have to make sure that you take the whole stem with you, so it can be easier to suck the nectar from the plant," I said, showing Bella how to go about reaching the honey that was elusive to so many.

"Now, take the honeysuckle and take a look at the top of the stem from the flower. Take your fingernail and cut the very tip of it," I demonstrated as she looked intently on.

"You see the gooey liquid oozing out from the flower?" I asked.

"Yes," she nodded.

"First, smell it to make sure it smells sweet," I said, placing it under her nose for her to familiarize herself with. "So that you know it's the honeysuckle nectar, and not the stem juice. Now, just suck it up!" I smiled, handed it to her for her to enjoy.

She sucked on the nectar, closing her eyes as she enjoyed the delicacy. "I never would have imagined," she said.

XXXX

The very next Saturday my father had gone in to the office to work on a case that was heading to court very soon, leaving my mother and I home, alone.

My mother sat in the sun room, knitting sweaters for the fast-approaching brutal Chicago winter and I sat next to her, reading the works of Virgil.

"Would you like some tea, Mother?" I asked, setting my book down on the table in between us.

"Oh yes, Edward," my mother said, returning her knitting supplies to the basket next to her chair. "That would be lovely."

She began to get up, but I stopped her. "No, mother. You relax. I will get the tea."

I stepped into the kitchen and put a teapot on the stove as I poured honey and lemon into two cups in anticipation of the hot tea I would pour over it.

All I could think of was Bella and the night we stood in the kitchen, washing dishes next to one another. Every thought I had involved her and me and our future, together. I had spoken to my father earlier in the week, during a lunch break at the office. I told him of my desire to marry Miss Swan and he informed me I first had to talk to my mother, although he thought I had made the perfect choice for a wife.

The tea pot whistled and I poured the boiling water over the tea bags I had hung over each cup. I turned off the burner of the stove and carried the tea on a tray, along with toast to my mother.

I took my seat in the chair next to her and sipped my tea, working up my courage to broach the subject.

"Mother, I think Isabella is the girl I want to marry," I revealed.

My mother inhaled slightly, coughing on a bit of her tea that must have gone down her wind pipe. She then sat it down on a coaster on the end table and turned to me.

"But what about college, Edward? You have to be able to provide for this girl, and for your family," she gently remind me.

"Well, I will start college in a few weeks and the wedding wouldn't be until next summer," I explained. "I would continue with my studies and work in father's office in my down time to provide for our lives as a married couple. I have never been so sure of anything in my life," I say to her convincingly.

"Where would you live?" she asked.

"Well…" I began before she cut me off.

"Have you discussed your plan with your father?" she asked me.

"Of course I have," I answer. "He understands that she is my destiny. She came to Chicago for me. He said grandmother could move into the house with the two of you; she is getting up in the years and could use the extra care and Bella and I could move in to her house."

"Oh, Edward, you have such romantic ideas," she smiled, once again sipping on her tea. "Have you discussed your plans with Isabella? Does she feel the same?"

"I know she feels the same," I reassured her. "We have discussed our adoration for each other on many occasions, but I have not told her of my plans to marry her. That would not be proper. First, I must ask her father for her hand in marriage."

"Then I suggest you put on something more presentable and make your way to the Swan residence to have that talk with Charles," my mother encouraged. "Oh, and you will need a ring."

I returned to my room and searched my closet for my best Sunday suit, which I nervously put on, shaking as I fastened each button and straightened my bow-tie. I then checked in the mirror to make sure I was presentable.

When I stepped out from my room, my mother was there, in the hallway, greeting me with a small box.

"Open it," she encouraged, placing the black velvet box in my hands.

After slowly opening the lid to the box I realized it was the ring my father had given my mother when they married 20 years earlier.

"But, this is your ring, mother," I said, trying to hand the box back to her.

"I have many rings now, Edward," she smiled, tucking the box into my hand and closing my fingers around it with hers. "I do not have a daughter and this is something that should be handed down. Please, offer Isabella the ring when you ask for her hand in marriage. It would be an honor."

I kissed my mother and thanked her, tucking the ring away in my inside jacket pocket as I made my way out to the Model T we had recently purchased. I wasn't the best driver in the world but, fortunately, many people still used the horse and buggy so I had some leeway and it was only a few short blocks to Bella's house.

I parked the car in front of the Swan residence, nervous about stepping out of the car and on to the sidewalk, having broken out in a sweat on my way there.

Mr. Swan was there to meet me on the front porch. Knowing my mother, I had no doubt she had my father call ahead to inform Mr. Swan of my intentions.

"Good afternoon, Edward," Mr. Swan said, motioning for me to join him in the wicker chairs on the wrap-around porch. There was a pitcher of iced tea sitting on the table between us, and I was certain he knew I was coming.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Swan," I said nervously making my way to sit next to him.

Isabella's father poured me a glass of tea, and then poured one for him, taking a long, slow sip before twirling his mustache between his fingers.

"What has you out this fine Saturday afternoon? Is there a church event we didn't know about?" he asked, eyeing my suit.

I tugged on my jacket lapel and smiled. "No, sir. I came to pay you a visit."

"Why would you have to dress up in your finest to pay me a casual visit?"

"Well, Mr. Swan," I said, clearing my throat, shaking, trying to gain the courage to tell him of my intentions. "I am very fond of Isabella and, well… I plan to work at my father's office while I finish my education. I plan to become a lawyer like my father… anyway… I would like to share my life with Isabella. I am here to ask your permission to ask Isabella to become my wife."

Mr. Swan chuckled, undoubtedly at my nervousness. I pulled out a handkerchief Isabella had given me with her initial embroidered on it and dabbed the sweat from my brow, taking a large gulp of tea.

"You are a fine young man, Edward," he started. "You come from a fine family and you are a good Catholic boy. I couldn't ask for Isabella to find a more perfect mate than you."

I smiled, feeling I had achieved a small victory, but Mr. Swan was not done.

"What about children? Will you be able to manage a job, a wife and a strenuous college education along with raising children?"

"Well, sir, I have not discussed any of this with Isabella, but I am sure God will bless us with children when he sees fit and I am confident I can provide a comfortable, loving life for Isabella and as many children as we are blessed with."

"Hmmm," Mr. Swan muttered, drinking his tea, looking off at the park across the street.

I waited for what seemed like an eternity before he finally turned to me and spoke.

"Do you have a ring?" he asked.

"Yes, sir, I do," I answered, fumbling in my jacket pocket to remove the box my mother had given to me. I opened it and showed it to him. "It was the ring my father gave to my mother when he asked for her hand in marriage. My mother would like Bella to have the ring."

Mr. Swan examined the ring closely before closing the box, smiling and handing it back to me. "Well, Edward, it seems as though you have given this a great deal of thought and I have no doubt you love Isabella as much as anyone could. You have my permission to ask for her hand in marriage. When do you plan to do this?"

"Honestly, Sir, I would like to do it today; if possible," I said, placing the box back in my pocket. "I cannot wait to hear what Isabella thinks and to know if she wants to spend the rest of her life with me."

"Well, son, gather your nerves," he laughed, slapping me on the arm. "I will go get Bella for you."

Mr. Swan reached for the screen door and I panicked.

"Please, sir, don't say anything," I pleaded.

"Do not fret, Edward," he smiled. "Your secret is safe with me."

Time moved at an excruciatingly slow pace but, in reality, it was mere minutes. Bella pushed open the screen door and looked surprised to see me.

"Hello, Edward," she smiled, making her way towards me. "I didn't expect to see you today. I thought you had things to do."

I smiled and was very aware of the fact that I was, most likely, blushing the way my beautiful Bella did so often. "I couldn't bear not to see you," I admitted.

"That is very sweet," she smiled. "I am very happy you couldn't because I didn't know how I was going to make it through a day without seeing you."

"Would you like to go for a walk, Bella?" I asked nervously.

"I would love to," she smiled. "Where should I tell my father we will be going?"

"Would it be okay if we walked to the park across the street from the church?" I asked, hoping she would be agreeable.

"Sure," she smiled, reaching for the screen door. "I'll be just a moment. Let me let my parents know."

Within minutes Bella returned, with a beautiful hat on her head that matched her pale yellow dress, a sunflower adorning the side of it. I would remember this day for the rest of my life and I wanted to remember every single detail, right down to Bella's drop pearl earrings and matching necklace.

I took her arm in mine and we began the short walk to the park across from the church, only a few blocks away. Occasionally, she would reach up to secure her hat when a strong breeze would whip us as we changed direction. Mostly she looked at the ground, holding tightly onto my arm, looking up at me with a smile every now and then, then up to the sky, watching the birds fly overhead.

"You look beautiful today, Bella," I said, patting her hand as she held on to my arm. "Yellow is a fetching color on you."

"Thank you, Edward," she smiled. "But, had I known you were coming by, I would have worn something special for you."

"Haven't you realized by now that anything you wear is perfectly fine by me? I have never seen you in anything that I did not think were absolutely beautiful."

She smiled bashfully and we entered the front of the park. I led her to a bench under a large Oak tree near the pond. The ducks and swans were out in large numbers, swimming and sunning themselves on the grass that surrounded the pond. Aside from the sounds of birds and squirrels running nearby and the fountain in the center of the pond the park was quiet. I only saw one other couple, nearby, sharing a picnic on a blanket, feeding the ducks that visited them.

"I am so happy you decided to come by today, Edward," Bella said, removing her hat, folding it neatly and laying it on the bench next to her. "I always enjoy going on a stroll with you and the park is simply beautiful today."

"You don't miss California and the ocean?" I asked.

"When we moved here, I thought I would," she admitted. "But not once since I met you have I missed one thing about California. I love Chicago, because this is your home. You are Chicago and Chicago is you."

"Do you imagine one day that you will consider Chicago your home?" I prodded.

She smiled at me and reached for my hand, squeezing it between hers. "I already do. It is as if I was always meant to be here. California, it seems, was merely a stop on my way to you."

I took a deep, audible breath that I was sure she heard. It was time to ask for her hand and, unbelievably, I realized asking her father for her hand had been the easier job.

After an awkward moment of silence, I moved to kneel on one knee in front of her, holding her hands in mine. She took a deep breath in and looked from side to side. I think she knew what was about to happen.

"Isabella Marie Swan, from the day you walked through the doors of the church I knew God had brought you to me, for whatever reason," I said. "Just that morning I wanted to leave Chicago and go off to fight on the front lines of the Great World War. Then you arrived in a ray of sunlight, smelling of honeysuckle and lavender and I never imagined myself as a soldier again. From that moment on I imagined myself as your companion and could see visions of our future together. Soon, I will start college and become a lawyer like my father. I want nothing more than to provide a happy, comfortable life for you and any children God blesses us with."

I swallowed hard once again, and reached into my breast pocket for the ring my mother had given me. I opened the velvet lid and presented it to Bella, who gasped and grasped her chest.

"I love you and could not imagine a future without you by my side. I have already asked your father's permission to ask for your hand in marriage and he said yes. Now, Bella, I am asking you if you would agree to marry me and spend the rest of your life as my wife."

Tears were streaming down her cheeks and she was shaking. "Yes, Edward, I love you, too!" she barely got out before throwing her arms around my neck, tackling me back onto the grassy surface. She placed a kiss on my lips and caught herself, remembering that we were still in public. She quickly sat up on the ground beside me, allowing me to right myself and remove the ring to place on her finger.

"May I?" I asked.

"Yes," she smiled, extending her hand to me.

I slipped the ring onto her finger and the golden web that surrounded the many diamonds fit perfectly on her ring finger, another sign of kismet.

"It was the ring my father gave my mother when he proposed," I explained. "She said she had no daughter and wanted me to give it to you; that she was honored to have you wear the ring."

"Remind me to thank your mother," she smiled, hugging me once again. She extended her hand and looked at the ring, which sparkled in the bright summer sunshine. "I hope to be a wonderful wife and mother to your children."

"As long as I have you by my side for the rest of eternity that is good enough for me," I said, hugging her before I helped her to her feet. "And there is one more thing I need to do to make this moment perfect."

"Oh?" she asked, reaching back for her hat as I led her to the trunk of the oak tree I had proposed under. I reached into my pants pocket and pulled out my pocket knife, carving the initials EM + IS into the tree, surrounding it with a heart.

"I will be gone from here and sing my songs," I began, reciting Virgil. As I began the second stanza, Bella joined in. "In the forest wilderness where the wild beasts are, / And carve in letters on the little trees/ The story of my love, and as the trees/ Will grow letters too will grow, to cry/ In a louder voice the story of my love," we quoted Virgil together, another tie that bound us to one another.

XXX

Everything moved so fast. Bella didn't want to wait for spring to be married so we opted for an October wedding. Saturday, the nineteenth of October was a beautiful fall day with bright hues of orange, red and yellow adorning the trees that surround Old St. Patrick's Church. Bella had just turned seventeen a month earlier and was anxious to begin her adult life as a married woman.

I waited at the altar with my father and Father Daly. And, as had happened four months earlier, the doors of the church opened and a bright ray of sunshine ushered in my beautiful Bella.

Mr. Swan walked Bella down the aisle of the church and placed her hand in mine, her dark brown eyes so visible from behind her ivory veil.

I could not take my eyes off of her throughout the wedding mass, anxious to carry her across the threshold of the home that had been my grandmothers. My mother and Renee had worked frantically the week leading up to the wedding, preparing everything as a surprise for Isabella and I couldn't wait to show it to her.

"I, Bella Marie Swan, take thee, Edward Anthony Masen, II, to be my husband, secure in the knowledge that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, and my one true love. On this special and holy day, I give to you in the presence of God and these witnesses my sacred promise to stay by your side as your faithful wife in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, as well as through the good times and the bad. I promise to love you without reservation, comfort you in times of distress, encourage you to achieve all of your goals, laugh with you and cry with you, grow with you in mind and spirit, always be open and honest with you, and cherish you for as long as we both shall live," she said, fighting back the tears that welled in her eyes as she slipped a simple gold wedding band onto my ring finger, a symbol of her love and commitment.

"I, Edward Anthony Masen, II, take thee, Bella Marie Swan, to be my wife, knowing in my heart that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, and my one true love. On this special and holy day, I give to you in the presence of God and these witnesses my sacred promise to stay by your side as your faithful husband in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, as well as through the good times and the bad. I promise to love you without reservation, honor and respect you, provide for your needs as best I can, protect you from harm, comfort you in times of distress, grow with you in mind and spirit, always be open and honest with you, and cherish you for as long as we both shall live," I said, smiling proudly as I slipped a matching gold wedding band onto her ring finger. She was biting on her bottom lip, trying to keep it from quivering although I could feel her shaking as I held her hands in mine.

Father Daly smiled and blessed our union and our rings. "You may kiss your bride, Edward."

I smiled and slowly leaned in to kiss my angel. Everything around us seemed to fade away and only our love for one another lingered. We looked into each other's eyes as we ended the kiss that made me the happiest man alive.

As the mass proceeded, Bella and I could not take our eyes off of one another, each of us rubbing our thumbs and fingers against the others hand. I was anxious to finish the ceremony and all of the formalities and get on with my life as the husband of Isabella Marie Masen.

Along with Father Daly and the congregation we recited the Lord's Prayer and accepted the Eucharist offering. Then the moment I had been waiting for since the moment she first walked into Old St. Patrick's Church happened. At Father Daly's urging, we rose from the kneeler and joined hands, facing the congregation.

"It is my distinct pleasure to introduce to everyone Mr. and Mrs. Edward Anthony Masen, II," Father Daly announced. My mother and Renee were both crying and clapping proudly. "May the Lord bless and keep this couple and each and every one of you as you leave this church. May the Lord be with you."

I was a very happy man, beginning my life as the husband of Isabella Marie Masen and suddenly my visions included Bella and I, gray haired in our rocking chairs on the front porch of our home, watching our grandchildren play in the yard in front of us.

XXX

The quiet reception in the rectory was a blur of first dances, cake cutting and congratulations from all of our guests. My father and Mr. Swan had loaded the gifts into the Model T and delivered them to our home, so we might open them later. But I could care less about the opening the gifts.

As nervous as I was, I wanted to open the greatest gift of all, my darling Isabella. I had given great thought to our wedding night and making it special for us both. My father sat me down and told me what to expect and what I should do to please Bella, taking great care to be gentle with her. Isabella had no idea, but our mothers had taken extra care with our marital bed. They dressed a brand new mattress with brand new fresh linens, embroidered in red roses along the edges, our monogram on each pillow case, IME. I asked them to make it very special and romantic for my new wife, scattering fresh red rose petals on the bed and around the room.

Finally, the reception was winding down and Bella and I ran out of the church into the Model T, decorated with tin cans and streamers, under a shower of bird seed. Soon, it would just be us, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Anthony Masen, II.

"Welcome home, Mrs. Masen," I smiled, kissing her on the lips as I led her up the steps to the front porch of our new home.

On the front door hung a 'Welcome to the Masen's' sign, hand painted by one of the women from the church. Bella ran her finger along the letters and tears filled her eyes.

"Our home," she smiled at me.

"May I carry my lovely bride across the threshold?" I asked.

"I wish you would," she teased, reaching her arms up for my neck as I scooped her into my arms, her bouquet of Sunflowers and Daisies brushing against the back of my head as I opened the door and stepped through, making my way hastily up the stairs to the bedroom that awaited us.

"I hope you are comfortable here, Mrs. Masen," I said, pushing the door open with my foot.

"Oh, Edward," she gasped as we entered the room. "It is so beautiful."

"I wanted it to be beautiful for you, my love," I said, as I gently lay her in the middle of the bed, lowering myself over her body, kissing her neck, cheeks and lips.

I rose back up off of the bed and removed my tie, suit coat and shoes, standing in my shirt, pants an suspenders, wondering if I would be able to do this right.

Bella sat up and slid off the bed, standing in front of me, sliding her hands down my arms, then up my chest, pushing my suspenders from my shoulders as she reached up to kiss my neck.

"Will you show me the pleasures of making love as husband and wife?" she asked shyly.

"This is new to me as well, Bella," I chuckled. I was nervous but her soft touch against my chest combined with her feather soft kisses immediately made my manhood grow hard, pushing against my pants, anxious to meet the sweet, soft folds of my wife's sex.

She moved to the vanity and slowly removed each of the hairpins holding her veil in place and I watched anxiously from the side of the bed. When she finished, she slowly returned to stand in front of me, unbuttoning my shirt slowly.

"Then let's learn together," she said.

I reached for my wife's arms and slowly turned her to face the bed, with her back to me. I ran my fingers over her shoulders and leaned forward, kissing the nape of her neck, causing her to shiver. I moved my fingers to the buttons of her gown and began to undo them, revealing more and more of her milky white skin with each button release. What I really wanted to do was rip the dress from her and throw her on to the bed, ravaging her body. But I was going to take my father's sage advice and move slowly with my advances, savoring each moment and memory we were making with each other.

As I unfastened the final button, I slipped my hands inside her dress, up her slip and over her shoulder blades, slipping the garments from her body as they fell softly into a heap at her feet.

Before I could make my next move, Bella reached around her back and unfastened her brassiere, which fell to the floor on top of her wedding gown. I reached down and hurriedly unfastened my pants, dropping them to the floor on top of her garments. My erection was struggling to free itself from my boxer shorts, pushing forward, brushing against her thighs.

Instinctively I pushed my boxers down, allowing my hardness to touch the apex of her thighs where her soft ass invited me to touch her. I slid my hands over her hips and up her waist to her shoulders, gently bending her over the bed. I reached forward with each of my hands and unsnapped her garter belts, quickly pushing her white stockings down her legs. She stayed face down on the bed, moaning lowly as she rose each foot for me to remove the stockings. All that was left was her garter belt and I made quick work of pulling it from her hips, picking her up and flipping her onto her back on the bed. The dark red rose petals surrounded her chestnut hair, now laying haphazardly across the pillows and outlined her perfect white skin.

I climbed onto the bed above her and lost myself in her, paying close attention to each and every part of her perfect body. I focused on the mole where her right leg came together with her sex, her dark curls hiding the treasure I had been anticipating.

"It's okay, Edward," she reassured me, slowly parting her legs for me, giving me a glimpse of the soft pink folds. She reached her hand to my erection and slid her hand up and down the shaft, gently pulling me down to her. "I'm ready for you. Just go slow."

I wanted to make sure she was ready and although I knew it would hurt her when I entered her; I wanted to make it as painless as possible. I leaned down and ran my fingers through her curls, parting her lips with my fingers which slid easily into her wetness. First one finger, then two. She closed her eyes, arched her back and moaned beneath my touch and I was eager to enter her, forcing myself to take my time. We would never have a first time again.

"Does it hurt?" I asked as she grasped the pillow with her hands. "I don't want to hurt you."

She opened her eyes and smiled seductively at me. "It is a pleasurable pain. I trust you and I know you will take care of me."

I slowly removed my fingers from inside of her, bringing each to my lips, licking her sweet wetness from them as I lined myself up to enter her.

"Please tell me if it hurts and I will stop," I whispered, gently pushing against her entrance.

She tensed and I paused, allowing her to take a deep breath and relax. When I was confident she was ready, I pushed into her, causing her to gasp and grab tightly onto the pillow.

"Oh my God, Edward," she moaned.

I began to pull back, worried I had hurt her. "I'm sorry, Bella."

"No, Edward, no. Don't stop. It is everything I imagined it would be."

With her reassurance I placed my hands on either side of her and worked into comfortable rhythm. When I moved, she moved with me, in unison, a virginal ballet of pleasure.

It didn't take long before I felt the pressure build at the base of my dick, twitching against her walls that clamped tightly around me as she arched her back and moaned my name with her release. I leaned down and kissed her lips, met by her tongue, darting hungrily into my mouth. She grabbed onto my shoulders, pulling me against her. I rested on my elbows and tangled my fingers in her hair as my climax rocked me, filling her so much that our combined fluids leaked out onto the new sheets.

"Was it okay?" I asked, rolling on to my side.

"You were very gentle and loving, Edward," she said, a dark pink flush filling her cheeks. "I cannot wait to make love again."