Hello all! So I have to thank everyone for the overwhelming response and support for this story! You guys are amazing! :)

A huge thank you to Traci for being my beta. I'm so excited to be working with you!

Also thank you to Sue and Krystel for pre-reading! You were a great help and I loved having your feedback. Aurowanfinn, I hope we get the email situation figured out soon, so you can get the next chapter!

I don't own this...



"Isabella, I know that my family keeps intervening and that it may seem confusing to you. I'd like to tell you why, if that's alright with you?"

My father's voice is strong and sure here in his office. Only I, with my gift, can detect the uncertainty in his thought process about why Bella has taken to my nature thus far with little outward signs of distress.

His mind is firmly lost in memories of Emmett and how he physically struggled through the process of mating until Rosalie, in a panic, insisted that Carlisle change him immediately, the 'old fashioned way'. He clears his throat, unnecessarily, and then launches into the story that he hopes will ease some of my Bella's confusion.

"You see, Emmett was a human working on the Railroad in Gatlinburg, Tennessee when Rosalie bonded to him. It was 1935 and we were just passing through the area. Of course, the bond was immediate and they wasted no time consummating it. I warned them to take it slowly, on Aro's advice, but they didn't listen. I suppose I should have asked more questions and done a little more research myself so that we were prepared for the chaos that their rash decision and actions caused. They say that hindsight is twenty-twenty, you know?

"Well, immediately after their consummation, Rosalie went into heat and conceived their first child, Jasper. Meanwhile, Emmett was getting more and more aggressive. By the time that Rosalie went into her second heat, nearly four months after Jasper was born, Emmett was very sick and practically uncontrollable. No one could come near him, Rosalie or the baby.

"Rosalie was frightened and although there was never a doubt that he would ever harm her or their offspring, the pure animal rage was unsettling for her. You see, Bella, his human mind just couldn't handle the surge of the bonding hormone. Because they didn't allow the hormone to ease into his system and make the subtle changes necessary, he became feral. And to be honest, it nearly killed him.

"By the time Edward was able to finally get a read on his mind, it was too late. He was physically sick and mentally mad. It took Edward, Esme, Rosalie, and me to restrain him enough, even in his weakened condition, mind you, to be able to infect him with my venom. Thankfully, Aro was right and it counteracted the effects of the hormone, but we are very lucky that we didn't lose him. As you know, we would have lost Rosalie as well, and I'm not sure my Esme would've been able to handle that."

My Bella's eyes are wide and her thoughts, although sympathetic to Rosalie and Emmett's situation, are not convinced. While it's clear that she takes my father's word as absolute truth, she can't help but assume that there is more to the explanation, not to mention a mild frustration about how imperfect the vampire mating ritual is if possible death is the price you pay for giving in to the extreme urges that come along with it. I feel nothing short of pride when she voices her opinions.

"I don't mean to be argumentative, Dr. Cullen, but I just can't seem to reconcile in my head why giving in to the nature of our bond can cause such detrimental side effects. Does it always happen that way? What if there is no one around to intervene? Would the human mate just die? That doesn't seem right to me."

My father is taken aback by her boldness, but isn't the least bit upset by it. In fact, he feels an insurmountable sense of pride at her maturity, determination and insightfulness.

"You bring up a good point, Bella, and you're right. What happened to Emmett and Rosalie is extremely uncommon. I hope you can understand, though, that we are only trying to keep you safe. We would hate for anything to happen to you, even if it is unlikely. We want this transition to go as smoothly and as painlessly as possible."

She nods her head in acceptance of his explanation, but her thoughts betray the fact that she is still annoyed at their interference. I squeeze her hand lightly, silently reassuring her that I feel the same way. I'll admit that I've not paid much attention to the details of the mating bond in the past, but I do remember with alarming clarity how the situation with Emmett affected us all.

"Dr. Cullen, you mentioned earlier about a hormone that's released at the onset of mating. Can you explain that to me? I'm not sure I understand what you mean."

Carlisle smiles warmly before launching into a very scientific explanation about how the hormone works.

"You see, Bella, some humans, such as yourself, are born with a dormant vampire gene. It's not necessarily a gene that indicates that you have vampire in your ancestry; it's just a gene that some humans are predisposed to have. These are the humans who are intended to be vampire mates. The natural pull of these dormant genes, however, are strong enough to bring their intended vampire into the proximity of their human without even a conscience thought. For example, as Edward's destined mate, you would have made your way to him or he to you eventually, with or without our help.

"Now, at the moment the bond is established, the HMv2 hormone is produced and then released for the first time by the hypothalamus gland into the bloodstream. The first surge of the hormone is quite a shock to the system and can be quite painful and overwhelming to experience."

She shudders at the memory of the pain she experienced the first time she saw me across the cafeteria, but easily pulls her attention back to my father.

"The hormone continues to be secreted and as intimate contact increases between the human mate and the vampire, the surge of the hormone increases as well. Our theory is that if you move slowly into intimacy, you are actually giving your body time to adjust to the new, very invasive hormone, thus making your transition into an immortal much smoother and much less traumatic on your fragile human body."

Bella's thoughts are going a mile a minute trying to process all of this new information. She's easily grasped the basic biology of the situation but she still seems frustrated with the fact that we are urged to resist the very nature of our bond and what it's encouraging us to do. In her mind, she feels like she's betraying her nature and by association, betraying me. She hates that feeling and refuses to just accept my father's rationale.

"Pardon me for asking such a personal question, but Edward told me that Esme is his biological mother." My father nods at her with a kind smile, urging her to continue her question. With a deep breath and red cheeks she asks, "Did you and Esme have as hard a time as Rosalie and Emmett?"

I swear my father would be blushing if he could, and his thoughts are clearly embarrassed due to talking about this with me. You would never guess that he was anything less than composed by his calm outward demeanor, however.

"No. No, we didn't. We also didn't consummate our bond immediately. You see, my Esme was only sixteen at the time. We weren't able to wait long; the bond would not allow it, but we tried our best to resist consummation. Where we went wrong, though, is that I was completely uneducated in the mating process. I didn't realize that she had already gone through the process of changing with the release of the hormone. By mutual choice, I infected her with my venom and changed her traditionally…unnecessarily, we later found out. I hate that I caused my mate undue pain, but we are much more educated now. I assure you."

Bella is thoughtful for a long while, but when she finally speaks it's with confidence and determination. She is absolutely breathtaking, and I squeeze her hand to let her know that I fully support her thoughts.

"Thank you for your concern, Dr. Cullen. I really do appreciate it. But with all due respect, I feel it's only fair for you to share all you know about the mating process with me and my Edward, and then allow us to make the decision on how to proceed ourselves."

My father bristles a little at Bella's blunt statement, but he can't deny that she is absolutely correct. I want to keep her safe, but it really should be our decision on how exactly we want to proceed. My family should be here to guide us, not dictate to us. I go ahead and voice my agreement just so that he knows that I'm one hundred percent on my mate's side - just as I should be. His posture relaxes and his expression softens at my admission, and his thoughts reflect that although he is worried that we will rush into a physical relationship, he is also proud of us for taking control of our situation.

Having come to terms with the fact that we aren't going to let them dictate to us, he immediately delves into sharing everything he knows about the mating process. After an entire afternoon of explanations and phone calls, Bella and I decide to let her sleep on the information and come up with a timeline that works best for us. I know that my father isn't thrilled with the plan, but he's not about to interfere. I also know that he will be here for us every step of the way. We still have her father to deal with this evening, so with many thanks and hugs goodbye we make our way to Bella's house.

I wander through the lower level of the modest home she shares with her father while she prepares a dinner that I will not make any pretense of eating. I spend the hour it takes for her to prepare her special stroganoff looking at pictures of her throughout her childhood.

To say that Bella was a beautiful child is an understatement of epic proportions. Looking at her pictures, cute isn't a word I would use to describe her. Even during her awkward pre-adolescence, she was lovely. And now, as a young adult, she is absolutely gorgeous. Her long dark brown hair is striking against her flawless, ivory skin. Large, deep brown eyes are framed by long, thick lashes that sweep upward toward her delicately arched brows. An elegant, straight nose finishes off her beautifully proportioned bone structure. And her lips - lips so full and so lush that they almost appear too large for her delicate features, yet are so enticing that no word other besides erotic could suffice.

For being so young, her body is soft and curvaceous. Full breasts, a narrow waist, sensually curved hips and a robust behind taper down into long shapely legs, complete with ample thighs. Skinny is a word that would never describe my Bella. Her gorgeous body is reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour, back when women looked like women. Some may even be so ignorant as to say that she is heavy, or full figured. But not me. No, my Bella is voluptuous. She is stunning. She is all woman, and she is mine.

I make my way back into the kitchen when I hear Charlie's car turn onto her street. I wrap my arms around her, trying to offer comfort and security, because I know that this will be one of the hardest conversations she will ever have in her life.

"Are you ready for this, baby?"

She looks up at me with all the confidence in the world, and because I'm able to read her thoughts I know that her confidence is genuine. She is truly ready to move forward with me. I can honestly say that her assuredness makes my heart soar.

"I've never been more sure of anything in my life, Edward. I can't wait to tell him about you so that we can really start our life together."

"Oh, baby, me too. I feel the same way."

Sadly, our tender moment is cut short by Charlie Swan entering the front door. I purposely left my car parked on the street in front of the house because for one, I didn't want to hide the fact that I'm here because that is just disrespectful, and secondly because I wanted to give him a bit of a heads up. This is going to be a very big, life-changing day for him and the last thing I want to do is catch him completely off guard. I think he deserves at least that.


She reaches over and slips her tiny hand into mine just as he rounds the corner into the kitchen. "Hey, dad." The moment is tense and awkward as he just stands there gaping at our joined hands. I can tell by his thoughts that he recognizes me and that several scenarios are running through his head, each one equally horrifying. I don't think Bella is going to get the acceptance she's hoping for.

"Bella, what's going on here?"

His tone is far more harsh than he intends it to be, and he feels instantly remorseful when he takes in the hurt expression of his daughter. Her anger is palpable as well as his fear. Not that he fears me, mind you, he only fears that I've come to take her away. In a sense, he's absolutely correct. I decide to jump in, to avoid Bella saying things to her father that she will regret later.

"I'm Edward Cullen, sir. It's a pleasure to meet you." I try to keep my tone soft and polite, offering my hand in greeting. It takes him a few moments, but eventually he does grunt a reply and reach out and shake my hand, squeezing with as much force as he can. I don't bother to wince because it would refute everything we are trying to do here today. Be honest. He does notice the coolness of my skin, adding to his suspicion. But it's not a glaringly obvious detail, like he expected. He assumed that my skin would feel like ice and that it would feel like stone, but that is such an exaggeration of the truth. Yes, we run a few degrees cooler than a normal human but we're not walking ice sculptures or marble statues. Jeez. As for the texture of my skin, well it feels just like skin. The only difference is that it heals itself immediately. For instance, if I were to be cut the gash would be healed by the time the blade left my skin. I am immortal after all.

Thankfully, Bella interrupts his fruitless attempt at crushing my hand just as I start to worry that he is going to injure himself.

"Why don't you go change for dinner, dad. I made stroganoff."

With one more gruff and accusing glare, he turns on his heel and stomps his way upstairs. This isn't going to be good.

Bella makes short work of serving a plate for herself and then one for her father. She doesn't even bother setting one out for me and that fact warms my heart. It shows that she doesn't expect me to try to be anything I'm not, even for appearances sake, and that she accepts me for who I am. I have a sudden urge to claim her and have to fight hard to keep from following through with it. The all-consuming desire to constantly touch her are ever-present and I feel that we are both making progress in balancing that need along with conducting ourselves in a socially-acceptable manner as far as PDA is concerned.

It's the sudden impulses to claim, mark and consume that are much harder to manage. It's almost as if the bond takes control over our bodies, making resisting it an impossible feat. The way she is looking at me, longingly, through lust filled eyes doesn't help matters. At all.

Good God, she is exquisite.


Just as I wrap my arms around her and attack her mouth with my own, her father clears his throat behind us. It's is clear in his mind that he feels that I'm being disrespectful, and I suppose that he has a valid point, for his human way of thinking anyway. I only feel a sliver of remorse for snarling at him, as I register this fact. Then I feel just a wee bit more for going back to her mouth when I smell a spike in her arousal at my threatening sounds.

Grudgingly, I pull away from my beloved but do not offer an apology. I haven't done anything wrong, and I refuse to imply that our actions are improper. His reaction is anything but accepting, but that is to be expected, I suppose. He is her father after all.

I love that she isn't embarrassed by our display. Instead, she smiles brightly offering her father a seat while placing a steaming plate of the stroganoff in front of him. She wisely waits until he's sitting before she speaks. He makes no attempt to hide the fact that he's eyeing her warily and his thoughts betray his distress that she's about to announce what, in fact, she is about to announce.

Charlie Swan is a bright man. He also has enough knowledge and has had enough contact with the shape-shifters of La Push to have a keen understanding of how mating rituals within the supernatural realm work. He's also aware, much to his dismay, that there is very little he can do about it. His awareness, however convenient, doesn't make this announcement any easier for him to hear. And according to him, he'll be damned if he makes it easy on us.

Thankfully, my Bella breaks the heavy silence before I allow Charlie's thoughts to really sour my mood.

"Dad, I've got some really wonderful and exciting news."

He barely manages to give her a grunt of acknowledgement while continuing to shovel his dinner into his mouth.


She squeezes my hand tightly as she takes a deep, calming breath. "I've met and bonded with my soulmate." Her thoughts are clear and confident, veiled with complete adoration as she shoots me a shy, sweet smile. All of her confidence returns when she turns her attention back to him, "Edward, is Dr. and Mrs. Cullen's son and he is absolutely perfect for me."

He looks at me with complete and utter revulsion before addressing his daughter, "I'm perfectly aware of who he is and I won't stand for this. Do you have any idea what you're dealing with, Bella? He's a freak, and so is the rest of his family. I will not sit back and allow my daughter to associate with the likes of them. End of story."

My Bella gasps in horror before I cut in, "With all due respect, Charlie, there is nothing you can do to keep her away from me. And while I do understand your concerns, I will not have you refer to me or my family as freaks." Bella sends him a seething glare while winding her arms around my waist. She is calm and confident on the outside, but her thoughts are jumbled and panicked on the inside. She is unnecessarily fearful that her father will be able to keep us apart. I've got to make it clear to him that separating us isn't an option and make it clear to her that nothing will keep us apart.

Just as I'm about to speak, he barks out, "Didn't your parents teach you to address your elders with sir or ma'am, Edward? Show some respect, boy!"

It takes everything inside me to not tear this man limb from limb. Not wanting to upset my mate, however, I address him in the smoothest tone possible. The only indication of my irritation is my one raised eyebrow. "In that case, Charlie, it would be Dr. Cullen to you. I was merely trying to keep things comfortable and casual, but if you insist on formalities, then I and my one hundred and nine years would expect to be addressed as Dr. Cullen."

His face turns an alarming shade of puce before I continue, "Considering that this is a shocking and difficult situation for you, Charlie, I'm willing to go with Chief Swan and Edward. As my Bella's father, I'm willing to extend you that courtesy. I will not, however, tolerate myself, my family and especially my mate being disrespected again. Do I make myself clear?"

His curt nod is the only confirmation I need before I move into the more important topics. But not before noticing the distinct scent of my Bella's arousal in the air around us. I smirk at the thought of her enjoying the dominant and authoritative side of me. You'll get plenty more of that, sweet girl, you just wait and see.

"That being said, I believe that we have much to discuss, including our living and sleeping arrangements, how much time you want to spend with your daughter, how much you actually want to know about the situation and whether or not you'd like to exercise your protection rights."

He struggles to maintain a passive look on his face, but I can clearly hear that his thoughts are reeling. "Is there anything in particular you'd like to start with, Chief?"

Completely ignoring my nicety, he turns to his daughter, "Do you even have a clue what you are getting yourself into, Bella? Jesus Christ almighty, do you even know what they are? How could you allow this to happen?"

I know by Bella's thoughts that she needs to handle this herself. I do, however, squeeze her hand in support.

"Dad, I know that this probably isn't what you had in mind for me, but I need you to understand that I couldn't be happier about it. Just, please, try to see it from my point of view. For instance, you'll never have to worry about my safety. Edward will protect me at all costs. And you never have to worry about anyone ever breaking my heart, because Edward will be completely devoted to me until the end of time. I will still get to raise a family, God willing, and I will be loved until I cease to exist. What more could you possibly want for me?"

Despite my effort to try not to be inappropriate in front of her father, I can't help but pull her into my lap, nuzzle the side of her beautiful face and purr in contentment at her perfect words. Love. Yes, that is exactly what I feel.

My purring gets louder when she tangles her slender fingers into my hair and presses herself even closer to me. I know that we should really tone it down, but I can't find it in myself to care and judging by the blissful state of my Bella's thoughts, she doesn't seem to care either. I press one chaste, yet passionate kiss to her pillow soft lips and then turn back to the resigned thoughts of her father.

"Is there really nothing I can do to stop this?" I hate that his voice sounds so, sad. Resigned. He also is completely creeped out by my purring. I might try to keep it to a minimum but that just isn't possible considering how much my Bella enjoys it.

"No, dad, It's done. You'd only succeed in killing me if you were to try and separate us now."

With the chief's heavy heart, we finally get down to discussing the details of how our lives will meld in the upcoming months. Of course, these plans are contingent upon how Bella and I continue to respond to our bond. If we need to get away and be completely alone to bask in our bond, we won't hesitate to do so. As much as Bella's father hates the very idea, he at least understands and accepts it now. I even dare to think that he may eventually warm up to the idea. It's hard to say though, because he has such a deeply ingrained fear and misunderstanding of our kind due to his close relationship with the wolves. I can tell by his mind that our bonding is something he is dreading having to tell them.

It's ten o'clock by the time we finish our discussion, and although he doesn't say anything out loud, I can hear the disapproval in his thoughts as I follow my mate up to her…our… bedroom for the night. He absolutely refuses to acknowledge me as Bella's spouse, but that is the best human comparison that I can give him. I suppose he will just have to get used to it.

My Bella turns to me as I close the door behind us. I'm mesmerized by the seductive sway of her curvaceous hips, watching her make her way to where I'm standing. She doesn't stop until she is flush with my body and I close my eyes when she trails her delicate hands up my arms, across my shoulders and winds them around my neck, pulling me down to her level. She is so tiny in comparison to me.

I willingly wrap my arms around her waist, letting my hands drift down over her bottom and kneed softly while capturing her soft lips with mine, easily parting them with my tongue. Her thoughts, as always, catch me off guard.

I want to see your fangs…I want to feel them…

And because Bella will always get what she wants where I'm concerned, I allow them to grow slightly under the pressure of her tongue. I immediately feel the trickle of blood and eagerly lap it up, allowing my venom to easily seal the wound. I'm not concerned about initiating an unwanted traditional change because the wound I created is superficial and I would have to consciously inject a large dose of my venom directly into one of her veins and that's not gonna happen. Ever. I want her to experience the change naturally, the way it was intended.

She moans at the feel of my fangs against her tongue and pulls back to look at me through lust filled eyes.

Let me see…

I curl my lips back, exposing the long, needle sharp canines to her and am instantly assaulted by the heavenly scent of her arousal.

"Oh my god, Edward, that is so sexy." Her normally husky voice is now dripping with sex, and she is shamelessly rubbing herself all over me, making me impossibly hard.

"I'm glad you think so." I can't help the self-satisfied smirk that appears on my face at her reaction to something about me that should be so scary for her. It's admittedly a turn on.


"Yes, babygirl?"

"Can you…I mean…are you able to…you know…feed from me?"

My breath hitches in my throat at the mere idea of taking my sustenance from my angel. My mate. As appealing as it sounds to me, I want to make sure that she wouldn't be afraid or disgusted by the idea. Taking her hand, I lead her over to her full-sized bed. After carefully removing her clothes, leaving her only in her pink satin bra and panties, I discard my jeans and pull her under the covers to lay cuddled beside me. This is certainly a conversation I don't want to have while standing in the middle of the room.

"I could, yes. Only if it were something that you'd like to experience though. I don't need that to make me happy. Just having you in my life is enough."

Her innocent eyes are nearly enough to do me in. "It is possible though?" She is pressing me and by the tone of her thoughts, this is something she is more than interested in.

"Yes. From what I understand, it is a very stimulating and erotic experience for a mated pair. In fact, it would deepen our bond even further. That is what's so sad about both my father and Rosalie. They both changed their mates the traditional way and so they lost out on an eternity of that experience."

Her thoughts hone in on the possibility that we could spend the rest of our days sharing in that experience, and I rush to explain the phenomenon to her.

"It's called blood bonding. Do you remember what my father was explaining earlier about how your body is predisposed to be immortal? That you carry the dormant vampire gene?"

She nods eagerly, allowing her hand to creep underneath the two layers of my shirts, wanting to hear more about this ritual.

"Well, the hormone that your body is now producing because of our bond will automatically alter your DNA to make you immortal. It will occur naturally by the end of your second heat cycle. Unfortunately, my father didn't know this and he changed my mother the traditional way. Regardless, if we allow your natural change to happen, then we will be able to blood bond eternally. Of course, only if you want to." I don't know what is making me feel shy about this information. Maybe it's because blood bonding is much more intimate and I would be way more disappointed if she were to be uninterested in it.

Oh, Edward. Of course I want that with you…I want everything with you…do it now. Bite me. Feed from me…I want to feel your teeth…

Her mental encouragement is all I need. But not tonight. Not here in her room with her father mere feet down the hall. No, I will need to make this special for her. For both of us. But first, I will need to speak with my father to make sure that all of her needs are met and taken care of properly. Tonight, however, I've got a few things I would like to try with my beautiful girl and all of them involve bringing her body the kind of pleasure it has never known before.

I mentally let her know that I feel the same way as she does about the blood bonding and that I will speak to my father as soon as possible. She seems to be okay with waiting as long as we do it soon. I waste no more time with silent discussion as I pull her soft, mostly bare, body flush against me and press my tongue back into her warm wet mouth, taking my time to caress and explore each crevice as I deepen the kiss.

She frantically tugs at my shirt, trying desperately to get it off without pulling away from my lips. I smirk at the frustrated huff she lets out when I finally disentangle myself from her enough to yank my shirt and undershirt over my head.

Her lips are urgent against my neck, sucking and biting with every ounce of passion inside her so I tilt my head to the side, giving her all the access she needs, while I reach around her back to unhook her bra and slide it away to free her gorgeous breasts. Her ultimate goal is to leave a visible mark on me but what she doesn't realize is that I mark easily, it just heals instantly.

Sensing her frustration, I let her know that by the time her change is complete, she will be able to permanently mark me with her venom. It won't be easily seen with human eyes, but every supernatural being will easily be able to spot it. She pouts a little at having to wait to have her marks on me but manages to focus more on how my hand is currently traveling up between her thighs instead.

"God, yes. Please, Edward."

When I finally reach the apex of her thighs I groan loudly. She is so hot and so wet. I can feel the moisture through the flimsy silk fabric of her panties and I can focus on nothing other than making her feel good. I need her to be satisfied. The bond will not settle for anything less than bringing her complete and pure pleasure.

My mate.

She moans softly when I add the slightest bit of pressure over clitoris and grinds her hot little body against my hand. My head is swimming with her thoughts as well as my own, making me feel surrounded by her…by us. It's only when I feel her warm, wet tongue flick out against my neck that I lose the last bit of self-restraint I'm so desperately trying to hold on to.

I thrust my tongue into her mouth at the same time that I rip the tiny scrap of silk from her body and before she has a chance to react I'm underneath the covers with my face planted firmly between her luscious thighs.

If there is a heaven on earth, I have just found it.

A possessive growl escapes my throat when I take in the first whiff of her arousal and it shifts to deep purring when I start lapping at her wetness. Her delicate hand finds its way into my hair and she easily twines her fingers into the strands, pulling gently in time with my tongue. She starts writhing against my mouth when I pick up my pace, gently sliding one of my fingers inside of her. I savor each of her sounds but purposely avoid bringing her to climax, wanting her to experience as much pleasure as possible. I don't even realize that my inhuman sounds are as loud as they are until I hear her father stomp down the hall grumbling about respect.

Please don't stop, Edward, ungh…

My Bella's thoughts, and a sharp tug to my hair, bring me right back to my current task and I waste no time cradling her soft body in my arms as I finally take her over the edge.

"Oh! Oh, Edward, yes. Yes!" Just the sound of her falling apart and the feel of the rush of her juices coating my lips, tongue and chin send me over the edge, with a deafening roar, as well. There is nothing in the world more satisfying than taking your mate to the height of passion. I certainly can't wait to do it again. And again and again. I may have to wait awhile though because my angel is currently out cold, draped across my bare chest.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Are we glad they finally got a little action? ;)