A/N – This is the outtake from Falling Beyond Redemption that I wrote for the Fandom for Sexual Assault Awareness fundraiser. It is an Epov based around content found in chapter 50, Bearing the Weight Until I Learn to Lean. Edward takes Bella to a secluded hot spring in Alaska where they spend a magical night making love and reaffirming life and their commitment to one another. In the actual chapter, this night was briefly mentioned, but never written in detail. I asked my amazing readers to choose between several possible outtakes, and this is what you all asked for. I hope it doesn't disappoint.
To those of you who are wondering where I've been and why updates for Prey for the Wicked and Defrosting Edward haven't been posted in ages, please see my profile page.
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Excerpt from FBR, chapter 50, Bearing the Weight Until I Learn to Lean - I stare down at the journal in my lap and blink until the words found there are no longer blurred, letting what I'd written chase away the melancholy I won't allow to taint Edward's current mood. Or mine for that matter, because in truth, melancholy aside, I'm also happier than I've been in a very long time.
Blushing, I read over the last line I'd written again, teasing the underside of my chin with the ridiculous poof of fuzz on my pen. The words are choppy, the loops of the letters broken by intermittent blank spaces as the ink runs out, but it hardly matters. I'd captured what I wanted to capture; a sweet intense moment between Edward and me in the hot springs last night. The air had been so cold and the water so hot, that the steam created walls that sealed us in so the only direction you could see was up. Above us a blanket of stars and the flickering lights of the aurora borealis. They'd danced and blended with the tiny, stationary jewels of starlight before coalescing with the explosion of lights in my body and mind.
Maybe it's silly, but it's my journal. My memories. And making love with Edward in the hot springs in Alaska in the middle of the night wasn't something I ever wanted to forget.
I shake the pen to try and squeak out the last remnants of ink to write two more lines. More than my own feelings, I wanted to capture and remember Edward's. The way he'd looked at me and the way he'd arched his back, growling his own pleasure to that light show in the sky. Most of all, the way he'd held me in that moment afterward, his unnecessary breathing oddly ragged as he'd groaned in my ear and told me – "You wreck me, Bella."
High praise indeed coming from an invincible vampire.
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You Are my Home
The day is cold but clear. As I stand at the window and watch Bella and Jasper make their way out of the house, I envy my brother and these moments he spends with her. The envy mixes with gratitude. His ability to monitor her emotional grid and help her through the turmoil and pain she's experienced in the aftermath of Jacob Black's assault has been pivotal in her recovery. He coaxes things from her that I, in my closeness to her, cannot. She still seeks to protect me from the worst of her heartbreak, and I understand her need for someone more objective.
They move into the small, winter garden and Bella's steady exhalations plume out in a mist of white fog, drifting away and dissipating, only to be replaced by the next. A cold breeze gently tugs at the strands of her hair that have escaped the blue knitted cap tucked snugly over her head and ears.
With a small smile, Jasper reaches out and tucks a few wayward pieces back over her shoulder, his thoughts pleased when she doesn't flinch away from his unexpected touch. Instead, she closes her eyes and tips her head back; turning her face to the sky and seeking out the weak, watery rays of sun that peak through a brief break in the cloud cover. When she smiles, Jasper feels his respect for her grow by leaps and bounds. After everything she's been through, all that she is still struggling with, she somehow still manages to embrace each moment and find appreciation and pleasure in things he's long since taken for granted. Jasper tilts his own face upwards and lets the warmth touch him as well, soaking it in, a thousand memories jumping around in his mind, making him realize it's been decades since he's done this.
When he looks back at Bella, she's still smiling, only now the smile is directed at him, less dreamy and peaceful, and more amused. It occurs to Jasper that she's never seen him in the sun before. The light fades back to gray as the clouds drift closed once more. Bella sighs softly, resuming their walk without comment on the brief appearance of the diamond facets of his skin.
She's quiet today. Understandable of course. It's not every day you fake your death and watch others get ready to take a flight back to your former hometown to attend your memorial service. Jasper thinks on that and realizes he'd been lucky, in a sense. The war had provided the perfect cover for his 'disappearance' and inability to return home after his transformation. He'd certainly never been in Bella's place.
He searches for a way to broach the subject, but Bella beats him to it.
"I'm worried about Charlie. He hates being in any kind of a spotlight. I can only imagine how hard it will be for him to have to stand around and pretend to be the grieving father, all along knowing I'm alive and that he can't tell anyone, not even Renee..." She trails off with a shake of her head, raising pale fingers to put pressure on her temples. The headaches she suffers from are growing worse. Yet another symptom of her increasing frailty and the slowly dwindling time she has left. The place where my heart lays silent in my chest aches at that thought, though it is tempered by hope that her looming change from human to vampire will end all of that.
I push aside those thoughts and focus back on them.
Jasper searches Bella's emotional aura, grateful to find she's not shielding. He senses her sadness and worry, and finds comfort in the peace she still manages to exude despite it. Whatever else she must endure, she has no regrets about the choices she is making.
"Charlie will struggle, Bella," he tells her gently, "but he's doing this for you. At the end of the day, that will give him the strength to go through with his part of the act. And we'll be there to help him; he won't be alone."
"Yeah, I know." She sighs and the sound is full of frustration. "It's just so unfair that I even have to ask him to do this. It all seems so unnecessary. I still think it would have been easier to have had a fake memorial for family only, somewhere other than Forks."
"We discussed this, Bella. There are too many people in Forks who knew you and Edward. They'll want to say their good-byes – it's human nature. Charlie can't escape that and he knows it, accepts it. And this way it doesn't end up being needlessly dragged out with multiple ceremonies. Besides, it would seem abnormal otherwise and we don't want to wave any red flags that may have people looking too closely at details."
She nods, lowering her fingers and chewing restlessly on the edge of a nail.
"Bella," Jasper's tone chides gently as he reaches out and carefully takes her hand from her mouth concerned about injury, more for her sake than his. Living in such close proximity with her, spending so much time with her, combined with his regret over past actions, makes him certain he could resist her blood. Still, he inspects her fingers carefully with held breath. The skin is ragged but not broken, and she blushes a little with a small apology.
He squeezes her hand and tugs her forward, leading her to the greenhouse and the warmth within, concerned about her being so exposed to the cold. They enter and she instantly goes to a table covered in an array of plants and planting supplies, settling onto the attached bench with a weary wince. She waves off his concern when he stands at her side with a worried expression.
He shouldn't have taken her for a walk today, he thinks. She tires so easily now. Edward will have his head, literally, if he returns her exhausted.
"Shouldn't you be packing?" she asks.
Jasper lets himself laugh a little at that, arching an eyebrow at her teasingly. "Do you really think Alice would let me anywhere near a task like that?"
She laughs. "No. Sorry. Dumb question, never mind."
"Besides," he continues, "I'd much rather spend time with you."
"I'm okay, Jasper. I won't lie, it's hard, but...I'm more worried about Edward."
She shrugs. "This is harder on him, I think. He still finds it so difficult to even talk about changing me. And here we are, faking our deaths and getting ready for him to do exactly that. I don't want him to feel...pressured. Like he has to do anything he doesn't want to."
"Bella, trust me. Edward wants to change you."
She gives him a look that conveys skepticism, and Jasper chuckles. "Okay, want might be too strong of a word." He grows serious again and takes a seat beside her on the bench, straddling it so he can face her. "As much as he loves you, can you blame him for not wanting to take your life?"
She shakes her head, and Jasper continues. "He wants forever with you, Bella. He's even accepted that this is what you truly want. Beyond that, you can't expect him not to worry, or to loathe the fact that he must take away your humanity in order for you two to be together."
She's silent for a while, her gaze resting on a tender new green shoot growing off a thriving aloe plant. "I wonder..." Once again she lets her thoughts lie unfinished and Jasper prompts her gently.
"What do you wonder?"
"I know it's silly, but I can't help but wonder if Edward would feel that way if I wasn't sick. If the Pack and the Elders hadn't set up that plan, if Jacob hadn't tried to rape me, if he hadn't shot Charlie, if I hadn't almost died, if I wasn't dying right now...would he still be reluctant? Still be scheming up ways to try to convince me to stay human? Is he only willing now because he has no choice?" Her words are rushed and unusually verbose, barely a breath in between, as though she's afraid she won't be able to say this if she gives herself time to think.
Jasper cocks his head to catch her eyes and smiles a little at her. "Hey, where is that coming from? I know you and Edward have talked. Surely he's told you what it will mean to him to have you, forever."
She nods, but her teeth bite down hard on her bottom lip and her eyes convey her worry.
"Would it help you to know what I sense from him?"
Her skin flushes a little, but the greenhouse temperature is balmy and it's hard to tell if she's blushing or just warm. She glances out the window towards the house.
Right to the window I'm standing at. As though she senses me there and knows I'm listening.
I try not to. Her time with Jasper is private. A place for her to air thoughts she doesn't always want to share with me. A safe place for her to work out her pain. My invasion of it is reprehensible, but how can I help myself? Especially today. The first day she lives while the world at large, with the exception of a very few, believes she is dead. Drowned off the coast of Maine where she'd been sailing with her husband on her honeymoon. Lost to the turbulent waters raised by storm winds.
I force myself to leave the window and Jasper's thoughts when I hear her soft acceptance of his offer, tuning in instead to Alice in her room, methodically and neatly folding and packing and mentally scratching things off lists in her mind. To Carlisle and Esme and Emmett and Rose and their myriads of thoughts on everything from the days ahead to the moments they're in now. It's impossible to be completely unaware of Jasper and Bella, but it is possible to drown them out until their discussion and actions are fuzzy background noise, unclear.
It's the best I can do and I leave it to Jasper for now to assure Bella of what I think she already knows. That my willingness to change her is not solely based on her faltering health, but on the need I have to make her mine, forever.
When she returns to the house, then I will find ways to reassure her myself. I smile as I think about my plans to take her to the small secluded hot springs located just a few miles from the Lodge. It is a place remarkably still mostly unknown and, as of yet, untouched by man due to its remote, difficult to reach location. After everyone has left, she and I will be alone – truly alone – for the first time in our marriage. A honeymoon of sorts, belated as it is. Despite the circumstances, I am looking forward to the days ahead and the chance for us to connect with no one else present, to focus solely on us. The others have been wonderful to give us plenty of privacy, but I won't deny that the chance to be alone with my wife is a prospect that almost makes the drama and heartache around our faked deaths, worth it.
With that thought, I vow to make the next few days special, despite the circumstances, and quickly finishing packing the backpack in our room with essentials for tonight.
The weather couldn't be better, thankfully. As we arrive at the hot springs and I set Bella gently on her feet, the stars in the clear night sky shine like diamonds and the hues of the aurea borealis have just begun their light show in the sky. Twisting shades of greens and yellows, and even a few startling strands of pale orange, paint the darkness in writhing ribbons of vibrancy. Steam and the faint sulphurous odour of the hot springs waters wrap us like an embrace as I smile at Bella and draw her closer to the largest of the four pools. It's enclosed by rock walls buffed smooth by thousands of years of heat, pressure and erosion. The wall to the right of us extends in a shelf-like formation, creating the perfect place to sit and rest. The perfect place, perhaps, to lay my wife and make love to her in the heat and steam. The thought sends a sudden and nearly violent shot of desire through my body that I tamp down quickly as I turn to Bella and kiss her softly.
There is no rush.
She smiles at me, her eyes dark and warm. "Wow, it's amazing here. How did you find this place?"
"I spent a lot of time exploring the area when we lived here before. It's remote enough that I never had to worry about being disturbed." I reach for the zipper of her jacket and tug it down gently, helping her shrug out of it. The humid heat is thick, making her hair curl gently at the ends and a slight sheen of perspiration dot her forehead. I kiss her again and taste the salt and sweetness of her lips with a little groan.
Jacket discarded, I move my hands to the bottom of her knit shirt and tug it upwards slightly with a small, playful grin. "May I undress you, love?"
She holds up her arms with a grin of her own and I free of her the shirt in an instant, then kneel to remove her boots and thick socks, lifting each foot and kissing the slope just above her delicate little toes. She giggles and her nails press down ineffectually on my shoulders where her hands are placed to balance her weight. The sound of her laugh creates joy tinged with sadness at how absent it's been since the night of the attack. So much pleasure at hearing it begin to return, mixes in with the rage I still feel at what took it away.
Still on my knees, I raise my head to kiss the smooth, velvet skin of her abdomen, relishing the little clench of muscles beneath my lips as I free the button and lower the zipper of her jeans. Her hands move to my hair as I kiss the skin I expose, touching the tip of my tongue to the flesh just above the waistband of her panties as I draw the denim fabric down her thighs. My fingers skim the sensitive place behind her knees and down over her silky calves. Lifting her foot again to help her step free of her pants makes it impossible to resist pressing my mouth to that soft, shadowed v of her pubic hair outlined through the pale blue of her underwear. I'm rewarded for my impulsivity with a small gasp followed by a quiet moan and the tilt of her hips towards me.
Breathing in her scent, I cup her hips in my palms, balancing her and keeping her still all at the same time, groaning in approval when she shudders at my cool exhale.
I press a lingering kiss lower, right over her clitoris currently hidden in the tender folds of her sex, using light pressure to coax that little bud out of its hiding place. Her scent changes by increments as her desire awakens. Deeper, richer, less floral and more musk and pure female heat. My body rises with hers, always a step ahead, ready before her, yet thoroughly enjoying every precious second that it takes her passion to grow to match mine.
I slip the panties down her legs and leave the secret sweetness of her sex reluctantly, rising to my feet, chuckling a little at the tiny frustrated sound she makes. I love how eager she is for me, how deliciously she always responds to my touch. After everything she has been through, what that bastard dog tried to do to her, what had always felt like a gift now feels infinitely more precious. It steels my resolve that she will never find anything but the most exquisite of pleasure at my touch, keeping my mind centered and my strength in tight check.
Taking her mouth in another lingering kiss, I simultaneously free her from her bra, cupping her breasts and stroking my thumbs over the taut tips of her nipples so that I can lick her moaned response from her tongue and lips. Before she can miss my touch, I shed my clothes as well and lift her off her feet into my arms, laughing a little at her shocked gasp when the speed of it takes her off guard.
"Rocks are slippery," I offer in way of explanation as I step down into the water. "I wouldn't want you to slip." She rolls her eyes, most likely realizing that though my tone is teasing, my concern is serious. Her balance has been more challenged than ever with her growing weakness.
The water is hot, swirling gently around my feet and calves with the pull of gentle currents that create ripples in the otherwise smooth surface. I wade in to my knees then lower her gently, smiling at her pleasured hiss at the shock of heat.
"Oh, God. That's so nice." She shivers and her skin erupts in tiny pebbled gooseflesh as her body registers the difference in temperature between the air and the water. With her hand in mine we move further towards the center of the pool where it's deep enough to reach just above her breasts.
Her skin is instantly flushed, the heat drawing her blood close to the surface and colouring her skin. She's so beautiful.
I allow her space to relish the water and the warmth, moving to the side to sit and lean back against the rock wall, watching her hungrily. Immediately she follows, gliding toward me, skin glistening, lips parted. She slips easily into my arms, a perfect fit, her flesh hot, slippery. Her mouth meets mine as I draw her closer still, guiding her so that she straddles my lap, our bodies meeting with sudden shocking wondrous intimacy.
I want her closer, need her closer.
My hands find her hips; pull her down until I can feel the touch of her most intimate place against my own. Her gasp is delicate and breathy, quickly followed by a little shudder as she rocks against me. Finding my hands she takes them, lifts them from her hips and places them over her breasts, pressing them to her flesh.
"Touch me, Edward, please..."
She doesn't need to beg, she never needs to beg.
Trailing kisses down her neck to her collarbones, I give her what she wants, taking my time to caress, to tease, to torment. My lips moving lower so that my mouth and tongue can add to her pleasure, take her higher until she's trembling, her back arching to offer more of her breasts, her tight rose petal nipples, her delicate, flushed, warm, sweet skin.
I want inside her. Now.
Turning us in the water, I press her carefully against the wall, conscious of avoiding abrading her flesh but needing to anchor her against something so I can make love to her in earnest. Lifting her from the water, I kiss lower, along her ribs, down her stomach, over each curved hipbone.
"Please," she moans, as her breathing becomes panting. "Oh, please."
"What do you want, love?" I ask her, as if I don't know. I slide my hands beneath her bottom, lifting her higher, trailing kisses across the very tops of her thighs, my tongue grazing the crease between her hips and pelvis. The contrast of the cold temperature of my mouth and the hot water creating new sensations that are quickly arousing her to a near feverish pitch.
Tucking my shoulder beneath her leg I open her to my gaze, groaning. "Do you want my mouth...here?" I murmur teasingly, kissing the same place I'd kissed before I'd undressed her, only now, with nothing between my mouth and hers, the reaction I get is so much sweeter.
Bella trembles, her soft exclamation forming her lips into a sweet bow shape that begs to be kissed. Except I have other, even more tempting places to kiss now.
"Edward," she moans, blushing now as I move one hand up her thigh and touch her. Slicker and hotter than the water, and oh, so much sweeter.
She cries out at my touch. I've learned her body and her responses, and I feel pride and satisfaction at the pleasure I can give her.
My wife, my mate, mine. She fills me with such possessive feelings. Deep seated, they mingle with my desires until I ache to claim her, to be inside of her, feeling her heat, the clutch of her sex around mine as we move together...
I want her to come for me. I want to feel her lose herself at my touch. I want to taste her and feel her let go against my lips and tongue and fingers, hear her cry out my name in that breathless way she does that makes me feel like a God. Powerful and fierce and tender all at once.
It takes only moments. The hot springs have worked their magic, easing her body, making her pliant and eager for the ecstasy of climax. The moment my fingers find their way inside her body, stroke deep and sure, curling upwards to touch her most sensitive place, she begins to tremble in earnest. When I add my mouth – teasing lightly, then growing bolder and more demanding, curving my lips over my teeth to draw her sweet little clit into my mouth to suckle her carefully, gently, but without faltering – her release is almost immediate.
I don't give her time to recover but pull her into me, lift her until I'm poised to take her. Only then do I pause, drawing her rapid exhalations into my lungs until her breath is mine, our skin pressed together, hot to cold, with no space in between. I can feel her heart pounding and the rhythm is mine, a melody I will remember long past the time it grows silent.
Her eyes open and meet mine. A long moment of anticipation, drawing out the ache we both feel, the need to be connected as intimately as possible until neither of us can stand it any longer and we must move. Must give into the need or lose our minds.
I'm careful. Oh so careful, never forgetting how fragile she is, though she tries to rush, tries to move fast and take me deep. Restraining her is hard, only because I want it as much as she does, but the possibility of hurting her is too real. I hold her hips, taking control.
"Easy," I murmur to her. "Slowly, love. Hold onto me. There. Yes." I can only growl at her heat then, the tight hot clutch of her as inch by slow exquisite inch we lose ourselves to one another.
"More," she breathes, pleadingly, and I hold her like delicate glass, grit my teeth and give her what she wants, what we both want, until finally we are one.
We hold there, again, lost in the feeling, in each other. Our pleasure is the same, the need, the hunger, the joy, the love.
When I begin to move, still holding her to me, still treasuring and protecting, she arches her back, tips her face to the sky.
Steam rises all around us. Like gossamer curtains, rippling in the heated, wet breeze so that all we see is distorted and softened. The clear view of the sky above us is alive with the northern lights and the deeper sparkle of scattered stars.
Nothing exists but this, us, and the escalating pleasure that grows and demands more.
"Harder," she keens.
"Yes," I respond, moving deeper, faster, still careful but more sure as her response guides me, encourages me, reminds me that my body knows hers.
Her hands skim over my back, my shoulders, her touch firing up the nerves so that every sweep of her finger tips creates the most incredible sensations.
"Please," she moans again, arching more as my mouth finds her neck, her shoulders, her breasts.
"Come for me," I growl as I feel her body tighten, poised on the edge. "You're so beautiful, let go, let me feel you."
I move faster and she gasps as each press in and drag out hits intimate nerves, swollen tissues, my hips tilting to press where she needs more pressure until she shatters.
It's all I can do not to join her.
Not yet. I'm not ready to let her go, to stop this. Though I know she will grow tired soon, I keep moving through her climax. Careful to keep everything the same so she can ride out the waves to their fullest.
She comes out of her arch and presses her forehead to mine, wanting kisses I eagerly grant.
"So good, Edward. Oh, god, you feel so good," she praises, her hips moving now against mine, no longer content to let me have all the control. Our bodies find a pace that pleases us both, easily, nothing more than breathless murmurs escapes our mouths. One worded praise and pleas and demands that are met without hesitation until we are both giving and taking in perfect unison.
Her skin tastes of minerals and salt and that perfect unique sweetness that is solely her, solely my love. My venom fills my mouth but the bloodlust is, as always, nothing more than a weak counterpoint to my desire to keep making love to her.
My hand glides between our bodies, touching where we are joined, marvelling at the feel of her delicate flesh yielding so sweetly to the stone-like rigidity of mine. She's so swollen now. So deliciously aroused and wet. My fingertips glide over her, making circles against the taut little bud of her clitoris until she cries out again, shuddering, her nails scraping deliciously over my back, my name tumbling from her mouth again and again and again.
I cannot resist her body's pull now. She's so tight, so hot, clenching so rhythmically that I must push inside her harder, my teeth grinding as I fight for control and the restraint I need not to hurt her.
Don't hurt her.
I could never hurt her.
Fire races down my spine as her climax ripples over me. The feeling settles low and deep, igniting hotter, such incredible pressure that boils over until all I can do is hold her to me and let it take me. My hands find purchase in the rock wall, sliding into grooves that seem meant exactly for this. I feel the rock crumble to dust, small stones splashing into the water around us as Bella clings to me, her blunt little teeth scraping over my ear lobe as she softly moans her approval, whispering the most incredible, erotic things. I nearly lose my mind as I growl my pleasure to the sky.
We find our way back to reality, slowly and she smiles as I groan.
"You wreck me, Bella," I tell her, kissing her lips deeply, slowly as that smile turns smug and pleased, making her impossibly more beautiful in her confidence.
I want her again but she's grown too hot so I lift her from the water and lay her on the low rock ledge, moving to lay by her side and stroke her body gently to cool her. She lies quiet, staring up at the sky, a small, secret, feminine smile on her face.
"You look content, Mrs. Masen," I tease her.
"Mmm. I'm positively boneless." She turns more towards me and reaches out to touch my face. I kiss her fingertips.
"I should take you back to the Lodge," I tell her. "You must be tired."
"Not yet. Can't we stay, just a little longer?" She moves closer, pressing herself against me and I cradle her like the gift she is. "Or did you want to go home?"
"I am home," I tell her with a kiss. "Right here, with you, no matter where we are. You are my home."
She smiles and for now, here, all worries about the future are gone. There is only this.