At Last, My Love

Summary: Edward has loved half-vampire hybrid Bella since she was born. However, now that she's of age and feelings have changed from familial love to intimate love, he seems to be struggling to show her his heart. Impatient, Bella takes the reigns. The Blue Hour outtake.

A/N: This takes place in 'The Blue Hour' universe, as stated in the summary. I mentioned Bella being impatient about Edward's hesitance to take the step necessary to change the status of their relationship for good in one of the other outtakes. I just HAD to write this one since this wouldn't be seen in TBH considering it'll be a primarily Alice/Jasper story with the others thrown in.

I'd just like to say that the response for TBH has been pretty wonderful judging by reviews for 'Sweet Reprieve' and 'When Jasper Met Bella'. I'm sure now that I'll be posting TBH after BH is over and done with.

Please read this outtake and leave me a line or two to tell me what you think of it.

Partial timeline for The Blue Hour universe (pre-Alice):

1935 - Emmett was found and changed by Carlisle.

1943 - Emmett met human Rosalie in the hospital after her attack.

1945 - Emmett and human Rosalie fall in love, get married and went on their honeymoon where she finds out she's pregnant with hybrids.

1946 - Rosalie gives birth to twins Bella and Felix, and is changed.

1947 - Rose's newborn lust fades and she starts to enjoy motherhood.

1948 - Jasper is the newest Cullen.

1957 - Cullens and Denalis meet. At the physical age of 5/6, Felix 'vampire imprints' on Tanya, and vice versa.

This takes place in 1978, 32 years after Bella and Felix were born. The flashback happened in 1958.

Things to remember and note: In 'The Blue Hour', half-human, half-vampire hybrids age twice as SLOWLY as normal humans, and vampires/half-vampires 'imprint' on their soul mates; it's called a 'Mate's Bond'.

Disclaimer: SM owns it all.

Things were changing.

Edward didn't know this but Bella had noticed it first.

How could she not?

She was far more observant than he was. He depended too heavily on his telepathy, and since he couldn't read her mind unless she allowed him to, it was easy for him to ignore his own emotions bubbling underneath the surface.

The first time she had noticed the subtle change in their dynamics was the night of her thirty second birthday, her body the physical age of sixteen. She was wearing a pretty blue dress Alice had picked out especially for her. Her hair was in their usual natural loose barrel waves and her eyes were the softest shade of violet that he'd ever seen…He had been mesmerized.

She had stepped downstairs after changing into the dress. She knew her parents, grandparents and the rest of their family were going to treat her and Felix to dinner and dancing. It was tradition in their household to spend the twins' birthday with the family then go out together at night.

The moment she'd come into view of everyone else, her eyes had immediately been drawn to Edward. She'd had to stifle a smile at how awestruck he looked, and though she was a little confused as to why her Edward, her best friend, was looking at her like that, for the most part, she felt like something right was clicking into place.

He had stammered for the first time around her that night. She had never once heard him stammer, not even when pretty girls sidled up close to him, wanting to get his attention. He would just ignore those women and had never bat an eyelash at their fruitless attempts, let alone stutter as though he was about to become the first vampire in history to blush.

It made her feel oddly proud that she had that effect on him.

The entire night, her observant eyes took in Carlisle and Esme's eager smiles and anxious looks as they snuck 'discrete' glances towards Bella and Edward. She saw the displeased expression crossing her father's face, the first real scowl she'd seen on him forming on his lips. She saw Felix standing close to their father, the two of them staring narrow-eyed at Edward as they muttered quietly to one another. She couldn't make out what they were saying – their voices were too soft, meant just for one another – but she had the feeling they were plotting one of their trademark pranks.

Most of all, she took in Edward – every reaction he had to her, every word he spoke, every emotion so blatantly displayed on his face even if he thought he was keeping a poker face. He could never hide from her, after all.

Of course, the confusion she felt at their newfound, fledgling emotions cleared the moment she was in his arms, swaying gently to a slow song.

She had known of the 'Mate's bond' she shared with Edward ever since a young age. Her reluctant mother and her eager grandmother had explained to her all about the bond; they'd told her how it was sort of like love at first sight. When she had been born, Edward had 'bonded' on her and she had done the same to him.

Six year old Bella sat on her parents' bed, her mother sitting right behind her. She loved the feeling of her mother's gentle hands running through her hair as she ran a hairbrush over her scalp over and over again.

"What would you like to do today, Bella?" Rosalie asked as the brush in her hand slid down through Bella's soft hair. If she had to, she could admit – if only to herself – that she was jealous of Bella's hair. "Do you wish to go out?"

Bella shrugged, her eyes fixed on the pretty dolls on her lap that Rosalie had gotten her for her and Felix's twelfth birthday just a week ago. "We could," she said noncommittally as she smiled down at her fair-haired, blue eyed porcelain doll she'd named 'Rosie' since it bore a resemblance to her mother. "Where would we go?"

Rosalie hummed. "Mm…We could go to the fair," she suggested. They had gone as a family, just Emmett, Rosalie and the twins, the week before and they'd had so much fun that both Bella and Felix were begging to go again soon. "You loved it there."

Bella brightened up. "Really?" she squealed excitedly.

Rosalie felt a smile pulling at the edges of her mouth, "Mm-hmm."

Bella remained silent for a few moments. "Will Edward be coming with us?" she asked, and Rosalie's hand stilled.

She was frozen, quiet, for a time before clearing her throat. "Edward?" she asked.

That was the one name that came up constantly during their family trip to the fair. Bella had kept asking for Edward. 'Will Edward come in a while?' 'I'm going to wait for Edward before I get cotton candy…' 'Do you think Edward will love the big cat toy?'

Despite how much fun Bella had with the family, and no matter how hard Emmett and Rosalie had tried to distract her, she had still been fixated on Edward's presence - or the lack thereof.

Bella nodded. "Uh-huh," she replied, making her Rosie doll walk across the mattress towards her 'Jasper' doll (a fair-haired, blue eyed doll she'd named after the newest member of their family). "I wanna go on a ride with him. Will he come with me?"

Rosalie frowned as she stared into Bella's hopeful eyes. Placing the brush aside, Rosalie let out a nervous laugh. "You know, sweetheart…You spent all day yesterday with Edward," Rosalie pointed out.

Bella nodded, grinning. "Ed took me to a pretty forest," she told Rosalie proudly. "We danced and I saw fairies."

Rosalie hid a smile. Bella had been obsessed with 'fairies' lately. She was convinced there were real fairies in the world and that, one day, they would have a fairy in the family. Every time she told a story, she'd add 'fairies' in them somewhere.

Rosalie had been a little worried at first but Emmett had convinced her it was normal for a little girl to have a healthy imagination. Rosalie hadn't been easy to convince considering Bella's constant fixation with them but Emmett was a man-child…Even she had to admit that it wouldn't be too farfetched to believe that he'd passed down the trait to indulge in his inner child down to their daughter.

"I'm sure you did, baby," Rosalie murmured, taking thick locks of Bella's hair and starting to twist them into a long braid down her back. "But what I meant is…You've already spent a whole day with him yesterday. How about today, we have an Edward-free day?"

Bella's smile slipped from her face. "Edward-free?" she squeaked, horrified. Her voice was smaller than it had ever been. "But…But…I want Edward!"

Her eyes had grown wide and round and those blue/violet eyes were now sparkling with unshed tears. Rosalie watched as her lower lip started to tremble and big, fat tears the size of the diamonds Emmett had gotten her for their latest anniversary started to slip down Bella's rosy cheeks.

It was like watching an angel child cry.

Rosalie reached out, placing her hands on Bella's thin shoulders and turning her around to face her fully. "Bella, my sweet, don't cry," she cooed, bringing her daughter to sit in her lap. "I didn't mean to upset you."

Bella sniffled, the back of her hand brushing against her tiny button nose.

"You really want Edward around all the time, huh?" she asked her daughter with an almost saddened quality in her voice.

Bella nodded. "Yes, I do," she answered immediately. "I don't know why, mommy, but Edward has to be with me. I will die if he's not. I swear I will."

"Shh, shh, my darling," Rosalie said quickly. "Don't talk like that. Don't ever talk like that…" Rosalie brushed Bella's dark bangs from her eyes. "Hmm," she murmured.

It had been twelve years since Bella and Felix were born. Twelve years of Bella's burgeoning relationship with Edward first started, their bond growing stronger and stronger each passing day. Bella was still only physically and mentally six years old so none of them had ever really seen the need to explain to her the bond between her and Edward. What was the point in broaching such a mature, complicated topic when Bella had it in her head that Edward had been created specifically to be her best friend in the whole world?

Of course, they hadn't thought of Bella's confusion when it came to her insanely strong attachment to the vampire.

Then there was the fact that, very recently, for the first time since Bella had been alive, the Cullens had met up with other vampires. It had been purely by accident and would've taken a drastic turn had it not been for the fact that these other vampires were also 'vegetarian' like the Cullens – the Denali coven in Alaska.

The family had moved to Alaska for the first time after Esme had purchased a beautiful home, completely isolated by humankind. The house had been completely renovated but it had only been half-furnished. Esme, wanting things to be perfect, had decided to go to Alaska early. Rosalie and Bella (and, with her, Edward) had decided to join her and leave the other men to wrap things up at their previous place of residence.

The first day they had been there, they'd gone on a hunting trip in the Alaskan wilderness and had stumbled across the Denali coven.

At first, things had been hostile.

The very first Denali who had caught sight of them was Irina. Still hurting over her mother's death at the hands of the Volturi, Irina had been enraged when she'd seen Bella, this tiny girl looking no older than four – five at most. She'd thought that the Cullens had created an immortal child.

Things had almost come to a blow but Eleazar Denali, someone who had just left the Volturi a few decades ago, had noticed the Cullen name. He had, after all, been there when Carlisle had knocked on the Volturi's door in Italy and consequently left because he couldn't deal with all the death and despair the Volturi seemed to thrive on.

He'd stopped the rest of his coven from taking any drastic actions they wouldn't be able to take back later. Taking a good look at a terrified Bella (who was hiding behind Edward's legs at this point, crying into his pants), he'd realized in shock that she had a heartbeat. The Denali coven had agreed to listen to the Cullens' story about how Bella – and her twin Felix – had been conceived and born.

They were skeptical at first but there were too many differences between Bella and the immortal child they had once known so they finally agreed that the Cullens hadn't done anything wrong.

While one or two of them were still wary of the Cullens being so close by – namely Irina – Tanya Denali had been delighted. She and her sisters Irina and Kate had been seducing men, human and vampires alike, for centuries. Nearly a millennia, even. They were actually the main reasons for the succubus legends.

Setting her sights on un-mated Edward (or so she believed), Tanya had been relentless. She was a beautiful, seductive vixen and every man she had come across had always fallen to her feet just at the pure sight of her – every man before Edward, that was.

She couldn't understand why he wasn't interested in her and convinced herself that he was only playing hard to get. Not one to be undermined, and always up for a challenge, Tanya had chased after him. Edward had tried to explain that he had Bonded with Bella but Tanya had been incredulous. Bella was a child who looked and acted five years of age. Tanya was a fully grown woman. Edward tried to make her understand that it didn't matter, that his connection to Bella (his future mate) prevented him from seeing any other woman in anything but a friendly light.

Tanya, who had known only one Bonded couple in her thousand years of experience, just couldn't understand the strong connection between Edward and Bella. It wasn't that she was deliberately trying to tear apart two mates. It was just that she couldn't fathom how Edward and Bella could be mated at all. It just didn't seem possible.

After all, when Eleazar and Carmen had met, they were both adults, in appearance and mentality. Tanya believed that a strong part of their bond had to be made up of their attraction towards one another. She had heard their passion for one another, after all.

How could Edward and Bella be attracted to one another? She'd seen him around the hybrid child – he treated her as though she was his little sister. And she'd seen the child around him – she thought of him as a play mate to play tea parties and princesses with.

Dismissing Edward's claim that he and Bella were fated to be together – after all, even if someday in the distant future, the two would mate, there was still decades before that happened. Poor Edward had to be lonely all by himself without anyone to release physical tension with – Tanya had pursued him with vigor.

Bella had been very upset by this. For weeks, close to two months, she would watch another female vampire (a completely gorgeous female vampire) lust after her Edward so openly. She didn't understand the whole story, not knowing that Edward was really her mate to begin with. Being so young, all she knew was that Edward was her best friend and this new woman was trying to steal him away from her.

She had been a hysterical mess, especially after catching an almost-stolen-kiss moment between Tanya and Edward. His mate's distress shooting to new highs, Edward had forgone his courteous manners and had been quite stern with Tanya about not feeling any attraction towards her. Still, Bella was upset.

Then came the rest of the family.

Felix, also looking and acting like a five year old child, had caught Tanya's eye the moment they'd seen each other. In a strange, cosmic twist of events, Tanya had Bonded with Felix and he had Bonded with her.

This didn't bring Bella any peace at all. Since she didn't know about Mate's Bond, nor did she understand why Tanya and Felix seemed so close now, all she could think of was that the threat that had tried taking Edward from her had now successfully taken her twin from her. She was confused over Felix's attachment to Tanya and even more confused by Edward suddenly being so nice to Tanya (now that she was no longer pursuing him and understood how strong a Bond is, Edward felt no reason to stay away from the female vampire; she had actually started to become a good friend of his).

Bella dreaded the day that Edward would fall into her clutches as well, and cried over the loss of her twin and the inevitable loss of her Edward. It didn't help matters that Jasper and Kate, Tanya's sister, had immediately clicked upon meeting each other. They hadn't Bonded but just because they weren't mates didn't mean that they held no attraction for one another. Bella worried that Edward might do the same things with Tanya that Jasper did with Kate.

Edward, not knowing how to explain things to his little Mate (everyone had decided that Bella and Felix were too young to learn about Mates and Bonds just yet and so had neglected to explain the significance to either of them), had simply taken to spending more time with her than usual. This meant that he was practically monopolizing her time but she'd eventually stopped being so paranoid about losing him so her parents couldn't complain…Much.

Still, there had to be some residual insecurities left because Rosalie could see evidence of it from time to time – for instance, Bella would frown sadly whenever she'd catch Tanya and Edward having a laugh about something or seeming as though they were having a good time together.

Jasper, the empath, had noticed it before there were any outward, physical signs at all. 'It has to be confusing for her,' he had told Rosalie and Emmett. 'Even though there is no romantic love yet, she still feels like there's something more – an untapped potential – and she'll drive herself crazy trying to understand what it all means. It's best if you explain it to her.'

Emmett had been worried for weeks but Rosalie was unconcerned. It was ludicrous to think everything would change so suddenly when things had been running so smoothly.

But looking at her frowning, red-eyed, sniffling little girl, Rosalie knew Jasper had been right.

God, I hate it when that happens, she thought miserably. I can't do this alone…How do I get Emmett to get back early?

Remembering that Esme had stayed behind with her and Bella, to give the men some bonding time during their all-boys hunt, Rosalie perked up slightly. "Esme…" she said quietly, not bothering to raise her voice as though Esme was sitting right next to her and Bella. "Could you come in here, please?"

Rosalie's mother appeared in the doorway of her room not a second after she called. "Is everything okay?" Esme's soft voice reached their ears as the gentle woman stood watching them with concerned eyes.

Rosalie nodded. Bella had cuddled up to her, sitting on her lap with her tiny body pressed into Rosalie's torso. Her head was resting on Rosalie's chest, one thin arm around Rosalie's back while her free hand reached up to run through Rosalie's golden mane. She still seemed subdued but her tears had completely disappeared and she had stopped sniffling.

"We're okay," Rosalie answered. "Could you come in, please?"

Esme nodded, making her way inside at human speed and tentatively sitting on the edge of the bed next to Rosalie. Her hand came up to Bella's back and she rubbed gently. Bella's eyes drifted to her but she made no move to lift her head from her mother's chest or to disentangle herself from her embrace.

"I was hoping maybe we could have a little talk," Rosalie said carefully, her wide eyes and her tone meant to imply a heavier subtext. "Maybe explain some things that we haven't before."

Esme understood the cryptic suggestion instantly – her vampire hearing had allowed for her to inadvertently listen in on Rosalie's and Bella's little talk. What with Jasper's suggestion of informing Bella and Felix of their Bond with Edward and Tanya, Esme had known this day would come eventually.

"Oh," she said understandingly. "Alright. Would you like my help?"

Rosalie nodded, wrapping her arms around Bella's tiny body.

Taking a deep breath, Esme tentatively began to explain all about what a Mate's Bond was. She explained the feeling of completeness that took over a vampire the moment you saw the vampire you were meant to spend eternity with. She explained all the different aspects of being Bonded to a vampire.

Then she explained how, when Bella was first born, she and Edward Bonded the moment they laid eyes on one another.

Bella stared open-mouthed at her Nana. "So…What's that mean?" she asked, pouting in confusion.

"That means…" Rosalie began, gently running a finger down Bella's hair. "That, for now, you and Edward are best friends. And when you're older and both you and Edward are ready, you can decide what you want to be. You can still be just best friends, or you can be…More."

"More?" Bella scrunched her nose at her mother.

Rosalie nodded. "You can decide, when you're both good and ready, if you and Edward want to be…Married to one another," she said, phrasing it as delicately as she could manage.

Bella stared at her silently, jaw dropped, for the longest moment. Rosalie watched with amusement as Bella's porcelain cheeks started to bloom pink until she was almost purple in the face. She burst into hysterical laughter.

Rosalie and Esme shared an amused glance before looking at Bella once more. "Sweetheart, what's so funny?" Esme asked.

Bella's face seemed to get even redder as she buried her face in Rosalie's chest, shyness seeming to get the best of her for the first time.

She didn't remember the Bonding happening. She had memories from when she was still a baby, some clear and some hazy, but she didn't remember the exact moment she was born. She didn't remember bonding on Edward. She doubted she'd even understood the significance of such a bond even if she'd remembered it back then.

All she knew was that ever since she could remember, she'd felt an unbreakable, impossibly strong bond with Edward. He was someone she could never see life without. He made her feel safe and loved and as though the whole world was a bright, happy place even when Felix was trying to scare her into thinking zombies roamed the streets at night and were just dying for little girl brains.

While she had been a red-faced, giggling mess when she was first told that someday, she and Edward would grow to love one another the way lovers do, screaming about how Edward had cooties and even though she loved him dearly, she would never want to kiss him for fear of being infected, things were much different now. She was grown, she had teenage hormones running rampage and she was no longer a little child.

Their dynamic had started to shift, little by little, and now there was something indiscernible between them. Something that was undeniable, even if it was scary and new and intense and had Edward too afraid to put a label on.

So he had avoided anything to do with the elephant in the room and did his best to pretend as though everything was exactly the way it was before she'd grown to just a few inches shorter than he was, grew sinful curves and learned how to flirt (he blamed her close relationship with Kate who'd started teaching her 'succubus flirting tricks' ever since she turned thirteen physically… Edward had a theory that Kate only did that to spite Edward because he had helped Emmett and Felix play a prank on her once. She might be the most easygoing sister in the Denali coven but she was still hell on earth if you messed with her).

The second time she noticed their changed dynamics was during a family trip.

The trip happened over a month after Bella's and Felix's birthday, and Bella had almost convinced herself that she had imagined Edward's longing looks and fond smiles sent her way. After all, he was a very beautiful man and pretty much every woman he crossed paths with wanted him to herself, right? What would make her different from the rest of them now that she was of age and experiencing emotions fuelled by hormones, as well?

The Cullens and Tanya were going on a family trip to the island her Poppy Carlisle had given to Nana for their thirty-fifth anniversary a few years back. It was named after her; 'Isle Esme'. It was such a romantic thing to do that Bella had gotten giddy with joy when she'd learned of his present to Nana.

Isle Esme was a private island, completely owned by Carlisle and Esme. It was large, uninhibited by anything that walked on two legs and completely isolated, allowing all the Cullens to be out in the open sunlight without worrying about others seeing them in their shining glory – literally.

The only downside – for Bella and Felix, anyway – was that the island was almost stifling hot. With their overheated skin on a normal basis, Bella and Felix often clambered all over the island in as little clothing as possible. When they were young toddlers, the twins had run around the island naked. When they had grown up, Bella would don a bikini. Felix would normally wear boxers but, being a boy – and Emmett's carbon copy, even personality wise – he would sometimes forgo that, as well. His reason was that if he wasn't ashamed to be naked, no one else should be ashamed for him.

"Ma," he'd said once to a seething Rosalie. "You know there are nude beaches all around the world, right? I'm planning to live at one when I'm eighteen. Think of all the hot babes running around without clothes…How well do you think Tanya would take to that plan?"

Rosalie had smacked him for that and sent him to his room, with the rule that he couldn't come out until he put some pants on.

This time, as the family made their way to Isle Esme, Bella changed out of her clothes on the family yacht itself, the sweltering heat already getting to her. The bright sun might be a nice change for her family but she was irritated by it. She'd shed off her thigh-length billowy summer dress and tossed it aside, content now that she was only in her skimpy swimwear, the heat much more bearable now.

"God, I can't wait to go swimming," Bella sighed as she gazed at the water surrounding them with longing. "I love this place, I really do, but does it have to be so hot here?"

Edward, who had been sitting right next to her, found himself unable to reply. His eyes were riveted to her body and he was feeling an odd mixture of lust and horror.

The last time they had visited anywhere that required her to wear a bathing suit or anything similar to it, she had been younger and he hadn't felt at all attracted to her.

He'd known, of course, ever since she was born that she was his soul-mate. With that came the knowledge that one day, he wouldn't see her as an adorable little girl that he had to protect but his beautiful mate he had to protect as they built their lives together.

The years had passed by so slowly, though, and he hadn't given that aspect of the Bond much thought. Now that the time had arrived, he felt as though the years had passed by too quickly.

Turning around, Bella leaned her back against the railing of the moving boat, her elbows on either side of her body. "Will you go snorkeling with me?" Bella asked Edward, grinning at him hopefully.

Edward, his brain still not catching up to him, continued to gape at her with his jaw dropped.

Bella's eyebrows rose to her hairline as she frowned at Edward. Reaching out, she waved her hand a few times in front of his face. "Edward?" she called out. "Edward! Are you okay?"

He coughed slightly, which only added to her suspicion that something wasn't quite right – vampires couldn't get sick and start coughing. "Oh, um, yes," Edward stuttered, feeling completely mortified and thankful that he could no longer blush. "Yes, I'm alright."

She giggled slightly. "Are you sure?" she asked, looking amused. "You looked like you spaced off for a minute there…I didn't know that was even possible for a vampire."

He smiled shyly. "No, I'm…I'm alright," he assured her. "I was just…Thinking." He could see the curiosity shining in her violet eyes and changed the subject before she could ask, "You want me to accompany you for snorkeling? I thought you usually go with Felix."

Edward could've kicked himself when he saw the sad tinge in her eyes. "I usually do," she admitted quietly. "But, you know, Felix and Tanya…" she trailed off, not needing to finish her sentence.

Felix and Tanya had gotten together a few months back and, ever since then, they had been inseparable – even more so than before.

Bella was truly happy for them. She knew how much Tanya meant to her brother and she couldn't be happier than they had found their true loves in one another. After all, just like Bella and Edward, Felix and Tanya were always meant to be.

That didn't mean that she didn't miss spending time with Felix, though. What with their romance starting up, and the intensity of their Bond being sealed for the very first time, Felix and Tanya had been caught up in one another. It was very common between true mates; an inevitability, actually. The intensity of their relationship would settle after a while but, for now, they were pretty much too wrapped up in their own little world.

Edward stood up and made his way to her. "Aw, Bella, I'm sorry," he murmured.

He wanted nothing more than to wrap his arms around her and give her whatever comfort he could provide…If only she'd put some clothes on because his control was already wearing thin just looking at her. The sadness in her eyes made him curse the maleness that had suddenly surfaced in him for the first time in his entire life, human and vampire combined.

Bella didn't seem to realize the filth in his thoughts – for which he was both thankful for and disappointed by – and stepped close to him. Sighing, she wrapped her slender arms around his torso and rested her head on his chest. "Mm," she hummed into his chest. "I'm happy for them. But I'm glad I have you, Edward…"

He was stiff in her arms. His tongue too twisted and his throat too dry somehow, Edward didn't even bother to speak. He wouldn't know what to say even if he was able to find his voice. Instead, tentatively, slowly, he brought his arms up. His hands had just barely touched the bare skin of her back, his eyes closing at the feel of the soft, supple skin underneath his touch, when they were interrupted.

"Eddie!" a booming voice called out.

Edward jumped, startled, and scrambled away from Bella as though burned. He turned to look at their untimely intruder. Emmett might be grinning widely like an idiot but Edward could see the threat in his eyes and the subtle menacing twist of his lips.

"Teddy," Emmett addressed Bella, using the nickname she had garnered as a child who had been obsessed with teddy bears and grizzly bears alike (he had thought it funny to rhyme their nicknames together considering how close they were; he'd called them 'Eddie and Teddy' just to annoy them most days). "What are you two doing out here?"

Bella placed her hands on her hips, glaring at her father. "Enjoying the view," she spat out.

Edward looked at her, his eyebrows furrowing. He didn't know the reason behind the vehement tone she was using. Her mind was, of course, silent to him and he didn't dare reach out and touch her with Emmett standing right there. While the man-child was his favorite, joker of a brother, when it came to Bella, Emmett was a surprisingly frightening and protective father. He acted first and thought later.

Emmett either didn't catch on to her tone or didn't care. "Well, we're reaching in a couple minutes," he told the pair. "Come join the rest of the family."

Edward nodded instantly and, without a spare glance towards Bella, he strode past both her and her father and disappeared towards the deck where the rest of the family were gathered.

Bella watched him leave for a moment before turning icy eyes to Emmett. Her glare was so reminiscent of Rosalie's 'I'm-angry-at-you-so-much-that-I'm-actually-considering-ripping-you-apart' glare that Emmett almost flinched back.

Bella was beyond annoyed. If her father kept interrupting her 'moments' with Edward, then what she had dreamt would happened the night of her thirty-second birthday would never come to fruition.

"What?" Emmett asked in an innocent tone as Bella stalked past him to follow Edward, still glowering at him.

Great, Bella grumped. My father is being an idiot and my mate is too afraid to actually take the plunge…A sly smile spread across her face. I'm going to have to make the first move, she decided with a secret, triumphant grin.

Five days on the island passed before Bella had an opportunity to get Edward alone. It seemed as though Emmett, in a misguided mission to 'protect' his daughter and her virtue, had hovered over both her and Edward almost consistently.

To Edward's credit, ever since they had arrived on the island, he had gone out of his way to impress Bella. He'd gather her bouquets of wildflowers and beautiful roses and lilies…He'd make her the most enticing meals. He'd even brought her stargazing (an event that was partially ruined by Emmett's insistence that the whole family went. While he'd only managed to wrangle Rosalie, Jasper and Kate along, it was still four people too many).

One annoyed look passed between mother and daughter had Rosalie scowling at Emmett, spewing nonsense about how she was feeling neglected and if this ridiculous behavior of his were to continue, he could spend the rest of the vacation by his lonesome because she was going on a shopping spree in Paris.

Her threat to take Bella with her was almost good enough for Emmett but then Bella threatened to bring Edward with her and Rosalie and he'd shut up. Besides…A whole month away from Rosalie? He could never handle that. He was a physical man in a very physical relationship with his loving wife…A month apart would never work.

Finally, Rosalie had distracted Emmett by kissing him passionately then inviting him on a swim to head to 'their spot' (an underwater cave of some sort they'd found the last time they'd been on Isle Esme). He'd followed her like a dog with a bone, completely forgetting about Edward and Bella.

Carlisle, Esme, Felix, Tanya, Jasper and Kate (who had come along to accompany Jasper who would've been pretty lonely otherwise, surrounded by happy couples on vacation) made excuses to leave the big house, claiming they wanted to go on couple hikes or swims.

As the six of them headed out, Felix bent and whispered in Bella's ear, "Good luck, sis."

Bella wasn't surprised at all that Felix knew of her plan. They were so close that sometimes it felt as though their minds were one.

Still, she couldn't help batting her lashes and saying in an exaggeratedly innocent voice, "I don't know what you mean, Felix…"

He rolled his eyes. "Yeah, sure," he snorted. "Bye guys," he clapped Edward on the back as he passed him on the way to the door. "Do everything I would do," he advised the older vampire.

Edward stared at him in confusion before he caught a stray thought of Jasper's – 'I wonder if they're finally going to seal their Bond…' Staring in horror at Bella's twin, he started to shake his head vehemently, terrified beyond belief of finally taking that last step.

It wasn't that he didn't want to seal his Bond with Bella. It was that he wanted it too much. He wanted to court her properly, the way he had been taught to do in his human life. He wanted to buy her flowers and take her to dinner. He wanted to woo her and tell her that he was very much in love with her. He wanted to brave asking her father for her hand and marry her.

But his vampiric instincts were much more primal and he desired her intensely. He was worried that if he kissed her and allowed himself to admit his want for her out loud, he would indulge a little too much in those desires…The last thing he wanted was to take advantage of her or make her feel as though he was simply using her.

He needed her to know the extent of his feelings for her before they took any physical steps in their relationship.

Unfortunately for him, she was evoking his primal desires more and more each day. Emotions and desires he never knew he was even capable of feeling (for he had never once felt any of them, not even as a human, teenaged boy) kept surfacing every time he was in her presence. It had gotten so bad (and near painful for him) that he almost wished they weren't on the island anymore so Bella wouldn't walk around in little more than a skimpy swimsuit all the time.

"So," Bella tried to contain her grin as she looked at Edward. They were both sitting on the lounge chairs on the front porch of the island beach house. She waited until he had looked away from the gorgeous ocean right in front of them and looked at her. "Do you want to go for a swim?" she asked him. "I feel a little overheated…"

Despite having not blushed for sixty years, Edward could almost feel the heat on his face at the suggestion. She'd gone swimming every day they were on the island – several times a day, in fact – and each time, he couldn't help but be mesmerized at the sight of her slightly tanning skin glistening with water, her body almost completely bare.

"I, uh…" he stuttered.

Before he could form a proper reply, Bella had stood from her lounge chair, whipped her sundress off her body to reveal the bikini she wore underneath and tossed it aside. "Come on," she urged. "The water looks so inviting, doesn't it?"

"I-I guess that it…Does?" he almost squeaked.

Bella giggled, took him by the hand and tugged him out of his seat. She looked at him expectantly and when he continued to stare at her blankly, his eyes firmly on hers for fear that if he let his gaze wander, she'd catch on to his ogling, she had to hide a smile.

I am a gentleman, he started a mental mantra. And Bella is a beautiful lady. I will respect her to the utmost of my ability.

"Edward?" Bella prompted.


"Are you going to swim in your clothes?" she gestured towards the slacks and black button-down he wore. God, he looks so gorgeous in black, she sighed to herself, feeling the urge to run her hands over his covered torso.

He grimaced. "Oh, right, of course," he shook his head. "I'm sorry. I was…"

"Thinking?" she rationed a guess. 'Thinking' was his excuse these days whenever she'd catch him daydreaming or staring into space, an almost goofy smile on his lips.

He nodded dumbly. "I, uh, I…Guess I'll just…" he gestured towards his clothes awkwardly.

She gave him an amused smile. "Would you like me to turn away?" she asked innocently.

He blinked at her.

She chuckled. "I'll meet you in the water," she said, turning away from him to head towards the ocean. "But remember that I've already seen you in less."

He gaped after her, unable to believe she had said something like that. Shaking his head slowly, he wondered, where was 'innocent Bella'?

Slowly undoing the buttons of his shirt, Edward took deep breaths, as though trying to calm a racing heart. I can do this, he assured himself. I've gone swimming with Bella before. Just yesterday, in fact…Sure, any desires I might've felt was kept at bay by Emmett swimming in between the two of us but it was still…I can still do this. I'll be fine. Everything will be fine.

It took him almost five minutes to join Bella in the water. Thankfully, she was too busy playing with a pair of dolphins that she didn't seem to notice his lateness. The moment the dolphins sensed him in the water, approaching them, they turned and made a quick escape away from him. Bella waved at them, still submerged under water.

Surfacing, she smiled at Edward. "The only downside to swimming with full vampires," she joked.

"I'm sorry," he apologized. Bella had a strong fondness for dolphins and, every time they came to Isle Esme, she'd seek them out to play with them.

She shrugged. "Hey, it's okay," she assured him. "At least they don't sense that I'm part predator. It could be worse. They could avoid me in the first place."

He nodded, about to respond, when Bella swam closer to him, a smile he had never seen before spread on her lips. She drew so close to him that he could feel the warmth of her body brushing against his cool skin.

"Wha…What are you doing?" he stammered.

She smiled that same, strangely seductive smile. His eyes were riveted to her lips, naturally soft and red like the inside of a rose petal. "I'm swimming," she answered. Was his imagination playing tricks on him or did her voice sound breathier than usual?

Before he had time to respond, she had reached out and splashed him. He blinked repeatedly as though coming out of a trance, and involuntarily laughed along with her. Lately, everything she did was so addictive, so infectious, and his head swam in circles every time he was near her.

"Bella…" he groaned, pretending to be annoyed at her.

She smirked at him. "Tag, you're it!" she yelled, and swam away as fast as she could.

Edward gave chase to her. He was obviously faster than she was and caught up to her easily a few times but he allowed her to escape from him and refrained from using his full speed from time to time, letting the chase continue as he raced after her.

Finally, he raced towards her in a burst of speed. Wrapping his large hands around her slim waist, his fingers almost overlapped. "Got you!" he sang as soon as they both surfaced.

She was laughing hysterically, her entire body shaking and her face going red. He watched her, a serene expression on his face. There was nothing he loved more than making her happy and seeing her so carefree, enjoying blissfulness in the moment…It made his heart clench with an almost painful sort of joy.

Like she had done countless times before, ever since she was a toddler, Bella wrapped her arms around his neck, her legs around his waist and rested her forehead on his. "I love you, Eddie," she murmured, sighing in contentment.

He held her to him, his eyes almost glazing over as he gazed into her beautiful eyes. He had to wonder how such an innocent gesture could turn so intimate.

"I love you, too," he whispered, one arm unwrapping from her waist so he could reach up and brush back a few wet strands of hair plastered to her cheek.

Bella held her breath. Everything about this moment was perfect – they had just had a fun time in the water, they were holding onto one another in a way a couple in love might hold each other, and there was this spark, this gleam in his beautiful eyes that gave her hope that they might, finally, call each other Mates, without any reservations.

Their moment passed and grew stagnant, neither of them making a move towards their inevitable forever. Edward pulled away from Bella, his arms dropping away and his hands disentangling her legs from around him.

"We should…We should get back," he muttered, unable to look her in the eyes. "You're probably hungry right now…I'll make you some lunch."

She watched him swim away back towards shore, a frown on her face. She was so frustrated by him. Though her dreams had told her she'd have to be patient with him, she was slowly losing what little sanity she had left. She felt like ripping her hair out of her scalp, screaming out her frustration until his ears bled venom.

Sighing, Bella shook her head and followed him back to shore. God help me, she thought to herself. But if that boy doesn't get his act together soon, I'm going to attack-kiss him.

Edward had already dried off and put his clothes back on by the time she joined him back on the porch. Handing her a towel, he barely looked at her as he said, "I'll just…Make you some lunch," he announced. "What would you like?"

She shrugged, her eyes never straying from his beautiful face. "I'm not that hungry," she murmured. "A milkshake would be fine."

He smiled and nodded. "Alright," he said softly, turning away from her and heading inside the house.

Bella sighed as she watched him leave. Toweling her body dry, she slipped her sundress back on before working on her wet hair.

She walked into the expansive kitchen – newly remodeled by Esme herself – to find Edward getting some of the blood they kept in the freezer for milkshake-purposes. "I can do it myself, you know?" she said to him.

Edward glanced up at her briefly. "It's my pleasure to do it for you, love," he murmured.

Her heart, already beating like a hummingbird due to her hybrid genes, skipped a few beats. She knew he heard it because his hand froze on the blender for a moment.

She leaned against the kitchen isle and watched him prepare her milkshake. Her hands on either side of her body, palms pressed to the cool granite. He poured the finished product into a crystal glass, stuck a bendy straw in the thick concoction and turned around to hand it to her.

"Here you go," he offered pleasantly. He had mostly reigned in his carnal desires from before and found it much easier to be around her. Unfortunately, he hadn't noticed how close she was standing and when he spun around to face her, they stood almost chest to chest, their bodies brushing against one another. "Uh…I…"

Bella took the glass from him and placed it on the counter behind her without moving an inch or breaking their heated stare. "Thank you," she murmured softly.

His body was reacting to her scent, her warmth, the sound of her voice, and he felt like he had no control of his senses or his actions. His hands reached up to cup her slightly rounded hips and he lowered his head to nuzzle his nose into her hair. "Bella…You're beautiful," he blurted out without thinking.

She laughed softly. "Thank you," she said again. Her palms laid flat on his chest and rubbed soothingly up and down his front. "So are you."

He hummed, his lips against her hair as he took in her addictive scent. Fearing he might do something stupid, he tried to pull himself away from her. It was difficult for him to put distance between them, a strange feeling of something physically anchoring their bodies together. His fingertips dug slightly into her hips as he forced himself away from her.

Not wanting another moment between them to pass vainly, Bella followed him, however, backing him up against the counter.

"Bella," his voice was half full of want and half full of warning. "What are you doing?"

She ignored his question. Slowly dragging her hands up his chest to lock her fingers behind his neck, she gazed into his pretty gold eyes and asked a question of her own, "Are you ever going to just kiss me, Edward?"

He started. He shouldn't be surprised – he knew Bella had known that, one day, they'd take the step to becoming Mates in every sense of the word, ever since she was six years old. She had been incredulous back then. When he'd returned from his hunting trip with Carlisle, Emmett and Jasper, she had hugged him tightly, told him that she loved him very much but there was no way she'd kiss him willingly – ever – because he was a boy and had boy germs.

He had laughed, beyond amused.

He half-wished for their innocence from way back when again.

"Well, I…" he stuttered. "I was just giving you time. To adjust, you know? I didn't want to rush you or make you feel as though you need to enter a physical relationship with me because you don't, Bella, unless you're fully ready and you want to because I'm willing to go at your pace. In fact, we don't ever have to…Do anything if you don't want to. I just…"

Bella nodded her head throughout his rant, a fond smile on her lips as she watched him being flustered. God, he's so adorable, she thought gleefully.

In full rant mode, Edward hadn't noticed Bella drawing their faces closer and closer together until her lips pressed against his.

He tensed up immediately, the warmth of her mouth causing heat to spread from his lips to every nerve ending in his body. Tentatively, he started to move his lips against hers, and the friction caused him to moan.

The sweet taste of her, and the way her scent intensified at their touch, was magnified a thousand times when he felt their Bond solidify. It felt like the millions of strings attaching them together was growing thicker and stronger, bound by some unbreakable substance, and electricity was coursing through each strand, making them both feel more alive than they'd ever been.

She pulled away slightly, the blissful smile on her lips matching the one on his. Looking into his glazed, wide eyes, she murmured, "Finally."

He let out a breathless laugh and cupped her head gently, bringing her towards him for another explosive kiss. Yes, he thought happily, reveling in the delicious feel of her touch. At last, my love.

You know, I'm just going to resign myself to the fact that my one-shots are always going to be long.

So…? How did you like this one? The scene with Bella asking Edward if he's ever going to kiss her and Edward's stammering response has been in my head for years. I can't tell you how amazingly wonderful it feels to finally be able to write it out.

Please leave a line or two to tell me what you think of this particular nugget in Bella and Edward's history, The Blue Hour verse.

P.S. Finally saw J.K. Rowling's interview on Oprah…I love her. I'm so in awe of her. God, isn't it just every writer's dream to have an inspiration to bring an amazing universe like Harry Potter's into the world? She's so lucky and so talented…BTW, I totally agree with her about needing a quiet place to write. I have one or two quiet placed I can write peacefully at. It's not as fancy as the hotel she went to but it works. Just for the record, Starbucks – while occasionally distracting – has a pretty good vibe for writing, as well.

P.P.S. For those of you who are Bella Hale fans, the next chapter would be posted on the 8th of July. Thank you so much for bearing with me and for staying patient even though I disappear for months at a time…*Cringe*. God, I have SUCH a problem with consistency, don't I?

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.