Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight.

A/N: Sorry this took so long to post. I know I said I'd have it up over the weekend but my schedule just wouldn't allow. Plus, I tore apart this last chapter so many times. Nothing I wrote ever felt right. I'm finally happy with this and I hope you are too. :)

Thanks to my beta, icrodriguez. :D

Chapter 9 - Worth Waiting For

Bella opened her eyes, blinking a few times as her they adjusted to the room around her. She almost forgot where she was, and what had happened, until her mind raced through the events of the last few days. She stared up at the white ceiling, the dark brown wicker fan rotating gently above as her memories come back to her.

Her eyes picked up small specks of lint and dirt floating through the air with her sharpened gaze, as well tiny cracks littering the ceiling of her room. She took a moment to marvel at her new ability. How odd? She heard the crickets' chorus somewhere beneath her window. A dog howled off in the distance and the noise jostled her. She felt the brush of something against her leg, followed by a small movement, and then the sound of denim brushing together faintly. She took in a sharp breath, inhaling something familiar and all together exquisite.


Her eyes danced around before they finally found him sitting beside her, halfway down the bed. He was smiling at her, the gesture unsure and careful. He extended his hand to her and she took it, lifting herself up to a sitting position. She just looked at him. And he looked back. They were locked in place, unable to say a word.

Edward gazed at her wordlessly, his eyes wide, his lips finally spreading into a full grin. He felt such peace at that moment. It was the first sense of serenity he had felt in three days and he allowed it to sink in. It was real. It was finally over. There would be no more pain, no more screams. She was finally here; his Bella.

He couldn't help but think how her description of herself did not do her justice. Edward had been watching her during the change, his eyes never once leaving her face. And as her form began to slowly appear to him, her features filling in slowly but surely, he was stunned speechless by her radiance. There was no denying how truly beautiful she was. It was humbling to know that she belonged to him. He reached out a cautious hand to her, brushing his fingers along her cheek.

"Hello, love," he finally whispered.

Her soft gaze brightened and she threw herself into his arms. "Edward," she gasped.

Hearing her speak his name for the first time in three days gave Edward a shocking thrill. He missed her voice; the gentle cadence of her tone, the soft melody with which she spoke. It was a soothing balm to him now, cloaking him in warmth.

"Bella," he murmured.

The relief was evident in his tone as a small sigh left him, his arms locking around Bella's waist, his lips burying themselves in her hair. He breathed in, closing his eyes and remembering that smell. It was her. There was no denying that lovely aroma. It was his Bella. She was finally here. At last he could gaze upon the woman who had become his whole world, finally take in with his eyes what his mind had been trying to conjure up. His thoughts did not compare to her true brilliance. She was exquisuite.

Edward was so overwhelmed by what he was feeling. His heart swelled, his body trembled, his thoughts were scattered. There were so many things he wanted to do, so many things he wanted to say. Nothing seemed enough. All that mattered was that she was finally his. He had spent so long searching for her, so many tedious days and nights in solitary, and she was finally here. He had found his other half, and she had been more than worth the wait.

"You came back to me," he sobbed. A part of him had been so afraid he would lose her.

Bella whimpered as she strengthened her hold around him. She never wanted to let go. "Is it over?" she asked. "Is the pain really over?" She paused, her breathing finally leveling out as she took in soothing breaths. Her fingers dug into his skin with such force it caused Edward to wince.

"Careful, love." He gently moved her hands from their vice like grip around his neck, holding them in his between their bodies instead. He liked how perfectly they seemed to fit in his, enjoying they way her small hands looked encased in his large ones. "You're much stronger now. Stronger than me even."

Bella pulled her hands away and winced. "Sorry." She clasped her hands together, wringing them nervously in her lap. "I didn't mean to hurt you."

Edward smiled reassuringly and pulled her back into his arms, pressing his forehead to hers, desperate to keep the contact. He would gladly suffer the pain if it meant keeping her close.

"It's alright, Bella. I'm fine." Bella still looked unsure and Edward stroked a finger down the side of her face. "It will take some getting used to. It's perfectly normal, love."

She nodded, gazing up at him. She swallowed slowly, licking her lips. "You can see me?"

Edward's fingers played with the ends of the locks of her hair and he smiled. He could hear the distress in her voice, worried that it had not worked.

"Yes, Bella…..I can see you."

It was true. He could finally see her. He would no longer have to wonder what emotion her eyes held as he spoke to her. No longer would he have to imagine her innocent smile when he could just appease his curiosity by gazing at her glorious countenance. There would be no more closing his eyes in wonder as he drew a picture with his mind of what she looked like. She was finally here.

She pulled back and looked at him, her eyes searching his for something he couldn't figure out. There was worry in her eyes and his fingers touched the creases at the corner of her eyes with tender affection.

"And…" Her voice trailed off and she swallowed nervously.

Edward gave her a comforting smile, hoping to ease any unnecessary worries. "And you're absolutely perfect," he breathed, holding her gaze.

She smiled sweetly and Edward allowed himself a quiet moment to take in her face, to drink her in now that everything was finally over. She had a small feminine nose, high cheekbones, and delicate pink lips. They parted slightly at his perusal, her uneven breath the only noise around them. Her eyes, a crimson red that did nothing to detract from her beauty, reflected back at him the same adoration he felt for her.

Her heart shaped face was framed by a beautiful mane of auburn hair, the silky curls spilling over her shoulders elegantly. The luscious locks were so full and dark against her creamy skin, the delicate ivory flesh soft under Edward's tentative touches. He suddenly felt like an inexperienced boy, and perhaps he was, but the feel of her sent delicious vibrations throughout his body; something so foreign to him not four days ago.

Bella didn't feel the slightest bit of unease under Edward's passionate gaze. His eyes caressed her amorously, lovingly, and she enjoyed the attention he was lavishing on her. She took the time to look at him too. Her vision was much sharper than before and she could see more clearly the hint of gold interwoven into the bronze locks of his hair, the freckles scattered over his forearms, the small scar on his neck that matched hers. It was like a beacon calling to her.

And her sense of smell, it was so strong. Edward's natural fragrance was so much sweeter to her now. He smelled incredible when she was human, but to her vampire senses, he was simply wonderful. He smelled of honey and juniper and she breathed in deeply, filling her lungs with his exhilarating scent. The effect his aroma seemed to have on her was so overwhelming that she had to bite into her tongue to keep from whimpering.

"You smell divine," she murmured softly, trailing her hands over his chest and up into the hair at the nape of his neck, her thumbs stroking just below his ears. "So much stronger than you did before."

He nodded as his lips turned up in one corner. "As do you."

Her brow rose slightly in wonder. She continued to watch her fingers as they toyed with his hair. "So my scent is stronger now that I'm a vampire?"

Edward nodded again, the back of his hand brushing her hair from one shoulder. His eyes lingered on her collarbone. The area was so tempting, so inviting, that all Edward wanted to do was nibble on her flesh. He breathed in a steadying breath, steeling himself before he spoke. He moved his lingering eyes up the length of her neck and finally met her inquisitive gaze.

"Yes, but it's different," he said, his tone deep and rough. He cleared his throat before he continued. "But it's not your blood that is so appealing now. It's just you." He pulled in a long breath, closing his eyes and smiling. "All of you."

Edward's mind and body wanted nothing more than to capture Bella's lips in an earth-shattering kiss. He wanted to devour every inch of her, to take her and never let her go. It was his first instinct when she awoke. His emotions were high and his mind a bit cloudy with desire.

As his mate, he needed to connect with her in every possible way; mind, body and soul. He felt like he had waited an eternity for her, for this moment, and he didn't know how much longer he could control himself. His entire being was itching to touch her, to have her, to consume her and be consumed. He felt like he was trembling with the strength it took to hold himself back. But Edward didn't want to frighten her. Bella was fragile in so many ways, new to a world that was so foreign to her. He was afraid he would overwhelm her. All he wanted was to make her feel at ease in every possible way.

Bella sank her teeth into her lip, her body tingling with the need to touch him, to kiss him, to press herself against him. She finally managed to nod at his words, bringing her gaze all over him, her eyes touching every inch of his immortal body. With her new eyes she felt as if she were seeing him for the very first time. His features were sharp; his jaw strong, his thin nose perfectly straight. And he felt warm under her hands, the icy feeling his body once emanated gone. His skin was soft and pliant under her touch, his muscles moving and bunching in reaction to her small strokes. He drew in a quick breath as she moved her hands along his arms and to his neck, the tips of her fingers lost in a beautiful dance. His breathing soon turned heavy, an eager panting to Bella's ears that caused butterflies to erupt in her stomach.

Edward's eyes remained fixed on Bella, watching her explore him with her new senses. He felt desired under her gaze and it made him tremble with need. Her fingers found the spot just below his ear - the mark left behind by Carlisle - and his head lolled to the side, eagerly allowing her access. She tilted her head as she admired the scar, her fingertips caressing it tenderly, carefully, cautiously. He closed his eyes and shivered involuntarily. Her touches were like heaven.

"Does it hurt?" she asked timidly, pulling her hand back. He shook his head hurriedly, his eyes still closed, unable to make a sound. He hoped she'd touch him again.

As if reading Edward's mind, she continued to feel the mark against her skin, reveling in the realization that to her human eyes it was once nonexistent. But now, under her heightened gaze, it was so prominent, so beautiful. It meant that he was hers…..forever. She moved in and touched it with her lips, brushing her mouth across it slowly and languidly.

It was then that his resolve broke. Edward's arms encased Bella instantly, a groan slipping from his lips the moment her mouth met his skin. He flipped her onto her back beneath him, the bed creaking with the quick movements. She gasped, looking at him in surprise, pleasure dancing in her eyes. He drank her in hungrily, every inch, from the tips of her toes to the ends of her hair, and she was magnificent. Edward released a low growl that had Bella's eyes widening.

She was his.

Bella's tongue darted out and swept across her lips; lips that were just begging to be kissed. Edward complied instantly, meeting her mouth in a heated dance, both of them whimpering as their lips finally came together. It felt like they had waited eons to be together like this again and Edward melted into her, losing himself in all that was Bella. He felt like he was drowning in her, sinking in the depths of his desire for her.

Her body pressed up against him as his tongue collided with hers, his hands roaming over her in worship. Bella moaned softly in pleasure, a sweet sound that sent shivers down Edward's spine. His lips moved fervently against hers, his body desperate to get closer to her but not able to get close enough. He lost himself for some time in her lips, in her touches, her embrace, and when he finally pulled away, she smiled up at him.

"Have you been holding back, Mr. Cullen?" she asked with a sly quirk of her lips.

His smile was impish and he looked almost embarrassed. "Perhaps." He met her gaze, holding it steady as he rejoiced in the knowledge that there were no limits between them. There never would be. "But there's no need to anymore."

His eyes moved to the spot at the base of her neck; his mark. It pleased him to see it, knowing that she was his forever, that he had branded her as his. It sounded somewhat barbaric, she was no one's property, but it delighted Edward to know this. He kissed the mark, his lips light against the skin. He pulled back, rubbing the spot gently with his fingers.

"Mine," he insisted, his eyes burning into hers, his voice low and gravelly.

Bella nodded slowly and without hesitation, mesmerized by the possessive look in his eyes. She loved how it made her feel; desired, needed, protected…loved.

"Always," was her breathy response. "Forever."

Edward smiled lazily, happily, as his eyes moved over the rest of her body. She was dressed in a pale blue satin dress that came to her knees, the material currently bunched up her legs, riding up her thigh in the most sinful way. Edward restrained himself from exploring the new territory, and settled instead for feeling the softness of her shoulder as he lifted the thin spaghetti strap that had fallen loosely down her left arm. He gently slid it back into place, his fingers tracing her arm, blazing a path into her skin.

The flimsy material of the garment clung to her curves in the most tantalizing way, doing nothing to hide Bella's magnificent body. It looked more like a negligee than a dress and Edward had to bite back a groan. He was overwhelmed with just how much he wanted her, how much he needed her. But now was clearly not the time to show her.

"How did I get into this dress?" Bella asked suddenly, a bit of confusion in her tone. She touched her hands to her stomach, feeling the material against her palms. She smiled when her skin came into contact with the dress. "It feels wonderful," she marveled.

"Your senses are different now, so the satin will feel a lot softer than when you were human." He cleared his throat, looking away from her eyes. "As for you being in the dress…...your, uh, clothes...did not make the transition with you."

Bella's eyes widened, her mortification written all over her face. She had been naked? It was not the way she wanted Edward to see her like that for the first time.

"Don't worry," he rushed to assure her. "My family saw nothing…..and neither did I."

Her eyes shot open further. "Your family? They were here?"

"Yes, they were, but do not worry. No one saw a thing." Edward could see that his words were doing nothing to subdue her fears. He was only managing to make things worse. "Alice's visions have become much clearer where you're concerned, and she saw ahead of time before anything happened. She dressed you in this while I and the rest of my family left the room." Edward shrugged his shoulders uneasily, suddenly feeling very uncomfortable. But Bella's body relaxed in his arms and she sighed with a nod, pleased by this news. "Alice found this in your closet. I hope it's alright."

She nodded again, still gazing down at the dress. "It's perfect. I bought this just before everything happened to me. I just never had anywhere to where it to." Bella bunched some of the fabric between her fingers, fidgeting with it nervously. "I know it's silly to buy something that you may never wear, but it was just so lovely and I was hoping that one day I could find someplace to where it, like maybe a school dance - even though I know no one would have ever asked me - or to a family function-"

Edward stopped her rambling with a kiss, pulling her fingers way from the fragile material before she could wear a hole through it. She had yet to realize her strength and he didn't want her ruining it.

"You look radiant in it Bella," he mumbled against her lips.

Bella felt like she might blush, but knew that was impossible. She would never blush again, and a part of her was thankful for that. It always gave her away and she hated that it made her so transparent. She smiled in relief.

"Thank you, Edward." Her smile was tentative but her eyes confident as she looked at him. She cupped his face in her hand. "You make me feel beautiful."

Her admission forced an exultant grin to form on Edward's lips. He kissed her again, feeling unbelievably giddy with the news. And as much as Edward wanted to stay wrapped in her arms showing her just how magnificent she was, he knew it was imperative she hunt soon. She may have been distracted at the current moment, by his lips and his roaming fingers, but it wouldn't be long before her thirst made itself known. Edward pulled back grudgingly, knowing they had more pertinent things to take care of.

"I know this may not be the first thing on your mind, love. But you need to hunt." He stroked her hair, the silky locks gliding through his fingers. "Do you feel it? The burn in your throat?"

Bella brought a delicate hand to her neck and nodded, uselessly rubbing her muscles to try and ease the tension. "Yes, now that you mention it, I do feel it. It's quite uncomfortable actually. It feels like I have a sore throat, but much worse."

Edward nodded. "Feeding will ease the pain. Animal blood won't do away with it completely, but it will dull it enough to bear the discomfort. Soon you will grow used to it." Bella scrunched her face together as her hand continued to rub soothing circles over her throat. Edward smiled nervously down at her. "Before we do, though…..would you like to see yourself?"

Bella hesitated, her movements ceasing, her mouth falling open to say something but falling short of uttering a sound. She did want to see herself, terribly so. It had been so long since she last saw herself, her reflection that is, and she wanted to know what Edward was seeing right now; what his eyes were taking in now that she was visible. She was nervous - damn near afraid to see what would be reflected back at her in that mirror. Edward said that she would look a little different, that the venom would have altered her features. Would she still look like her? Would she even recognize herself?

Bella finally nodded and Edward helped her from the bed, her bare feet touching the floor. She wiggled her toes as she felt the coolness of the wood. Everything was different to her now, even something as simple as walking on a wooden surface.

As Edward led her to the mirror, holding her hand in his, he kept his eyes on hers, nervous for her reaction. He remembered how it was for him when he saw himself for the first time after his change, the blood red of his eyes extremely troubling. Edward could see the worry begin to take over her features. She was chewing nervously on her lip, her nose scrunched up. He reached out with his other hand, touching her chin gently with his fingers and bringing her uneasy gaze to his. He smiled softly down at her.

"Don't be nervous, Bella. Everything's going to be fine." He hesitated, licking his lips. "But I must warn you, your eyes are going to be a shock."

She nodded. "I remember. They'll be red."

Edward stepped behind her and she slowly turned to the mirror, her eyes closed as she held her breath. He settled his hands on her hips and placed his chin on her shoulder, looking at her reflection in the mirror.

"Open your eyes, love, and say hello to the love of my life."

Bella's eyes slowly fluttered open and they froze as she took herself in for the first time. Her mouth dropped open as she drew her wide eyes up the length of her body. Her mouth pulled up into a slow, hesitant smile. She licked her lips, moving closer to the mirror. She reached a hand out and touched the glass with one hand and her face with the other, as if she were making sure that what she was seeing was real. Her smile widened into a Cheshire grin, her eyes finding Edward's.

"Wow," she breathed softly. "Is that really me?"

Edward chuckled and nodded, pressing his lips together to keep in his excitement. He was glad that she was pleased with what she saw.

"Yes, love, that's you."

Bella never considered herself an ugly girl, a bit average perhaps, but not unattractive. In fact, people would often comment on her resemblance to her mother, who she found to be very beautiful. Though she disagreed wholeheartedly with other's perception of her, she was flattered by the comparison. But as Bella looked at herself, she was nearly speechless.

She still looked the same, she could see the girl she once was, only her features were just a little different now. They were enhanced in a way that made her look even more appealing. Her skin was smoother, her lips plumper and her curves just slightly more voluptuous. Her hair was fuller, if that was even possible, and the red tint that was once only noticeable in direct sunlight was more prominent, even in the dim lighting of her room. She couldn't contain the smile the erupted on her face.

Was it conceited of her to like how she looked; to think she was…..pretty? Bella had never felt so beautiful before, and it wasn't just because of her new face and body, but because of the way in which Edward was watching her. His gaze was filled with so many things; love, desire, a longing that made her feel craved. It was like he was the luckiest man in the world. And she loved it.

"Do you like?" he implored, nearly bursting with his need to know.

Bella laughed giddily, the noise pleasant to Edward's ears. She nodded vigorously as she looked back at him though the mirror.

"I do like…very much." She shook her head back and forth as she looked at herself in awe, completely flabbergasted that it was her. It had been so long since she had a reflection, an image that she could see, and it was absolutely wonderful; so incredibly surreal to her. "I was so afraid I wouldn't look like me but…..I still do."

"Do your eyes frighten you?"

Edward was worried that her eyes would terrify her. It was always a bit startling at first, seeing the bloody gaze looking back at you. It had made Edward feel all the more inhuman, so much more like the monster that he was. He didn't want Bella to see herself in that way.

She shook her head surely, no hesitation in her movements. Her scent permeated the air around them as her hair moved back and forth, and Edward shuddered as he breathed it in.

"Not as much as I thought they would," she confessed. "Besides, you said the color would fade after some time, right?"

Edward bit back a groan - her intoxicating scent doing funny things to him - and nodded. "Yes, with a consistent animal diet, your eyes will begin to lighten after a few months. Eventually they'll be golden like mine."

Bella turned in his arms and brought her fingers to his temple, rubbing lightly against his skin. His gaze softened as he looked back at her.

"But your eyes get black sometimes," she said. "Why is that?" She remembered their first encounter in biology, recalling the way his eyes had instantly changed color.

He smiled, taking her hand in his and kissing her palm. "That happens when we go too long without feeding." Bella seemed to consider that. Her mouth turned down in a small frown and her eyes looked off to the side. She finally nodded in understanding. "Are you ready to see my family again?" he questioned. "They'll be joining us on the hunt."

Bella looked to her bedroom door reflectively and her feet began to shuffle back and forth against the floor. "I think so."

Her inflection gave away her apprehension. Edward could understand the small fear he was sure she was feeling. She was used to being unseen for so long and soon she would be thrown into the spotlight for his family to fuss over. And as fretful as Bella may have been over the possibility of meeting his family again, Edward was that much more eager to introduce her.

His family would finally be able to see the girl that had captivated his heart from the moment she crashed into his life. They would be able to look upon the young woman who had rocked Edward's existence, changing his life in more ways than he could count. This was the woman who had brought new meaning to this boring world, someone who created new and exciting possibilities. And if Edward was being entirely honest with himself, the proud and slightly arrogant teenaged boy inside him wanted to show of the beautiful girl that he would call his for eternity. They would finally see what he had been clear to him all along.

"Don't be nervous, love," he soothed. "They're all excited to meet you." He kissed her nose and touched his forehead to hers. She sighed with the contact. "And they're going to love you."

After a moment's pause she finally spoke. "Are they here?" she inquired, her voice quiet.

Edward shook his head. "No, they'll be waiting for us in the woods. They didn't want to overwhelm you by being here when you woke up."

Bella seemed touched by the thought and smiled. "That was nice of them." She finally gave herself an encouraging nod. "Okay, then. I'm ready." Bella suddenly looked down at her bare feet, realizing that she was missing something. "Oh, I need some shoes."

"Allow me," Edward offered, sitting her back down on the mattress and picking up a pair of satin black pumps at the end of the bed. She looked at him warily. "Alice insists they go with the outfit," he explained.

Edward gently lifted her right leg, slipping the shoe on her tiny foot carefully. His hand slowly caressed the back of her calf, his fingers exploring their way up the length of her leg, stopping just behind her knee and tickling the skin gently. He watched with a delighted eye as Bella's body began to tremble, her lips parting, her eyes growing heavy. She looked back at him and took in a shaky breath, sinking her top teeth into her bottom lip as a low whimper escaped her. Her hands gripped the sheet beside her, tearing into the cotton. Her eyes widened as she looked down at the mess she had made. Her gaze sought at his and she smiled with a small shrug.


Edward chuckled, repeating the action on her other leg, this time using his lips to tease her skin. His mouth started at the top of her foot, a gentle touch at first that became more ardent as he discovered more ground the further up he went. Her breathy moans cut deeply into him, stirring within Edward the need to ravage her. His lips managed to reach the area above her knee, the skin so soft and supple, and his hands encased her thigh as he nipped at her succulent flesh. Her breathing became quite loud and her fingers tangled in Edward's hair. He rocked his head to the side, keeping his cheek against her thigh as he looked up at her. Her gaze matched his. They both wanted each other.

"I thought I was supposed to hunt," she rasped, the tenor of her voice unsteady.

He smiled up at her, his grin dreamy. He moved to settle himself between her legs, her gloriously tempting legs that wrapped around him the instant he moved closer to her. He grasped her hips in his greedy hands, pulling her closer to his body.

"There is nothing more I'd rather do than stay here and show you how much I love you," he growled.

She raised a provoking eyebrow. "Then why don't you."

She pulled him closer with one rough pull of her legs and he groaned with the collision of their bodies. His lips attacked hers fiercely and she moaned into his mouth, trying to pull him closer with her hands, clawing at him like a wild animal. His hands roamed the length of her back, tempted to just rip her dress it two to get to her. It would shred easily.

They began to lose themselves in their need, their hands and lips assaulting each other. Edward finally pulled away and let out an agonized noise, groaning loudly in frustration as he tucked his forehead into her shoulder. He kissed the spot, slipping his tongue out and licking lightly. His mouth lingered on her skin as her taste invaded his taste buds. She was heaven. He didn't know how he was going to be able to pull away, but he knew they had to. She really needed to hunt.

"We really must go, love," Edward mumbled into her shoulder. "As painful as it is for me to pull myself away from you, you really must feed."

Bella's breathing had slowed to an even pace and she lifted his head in her hands. "Then let's hurry."

It took some effort, but Edward finally managed to extricate himself from Bella's arms. He pulled her to her feet and walked over to the other of side of the room. Bella let her hand fall from his as she watched him walk over to the window and open it. He looked over at her with a smile, holding out an inviting hand.

"Come," he called gently.

She looked at him as if he were mad. "You want to jump from the window." He nodded. "Are you insane?"

Edward laughed and it caused Bella to smile unsurely. She didn't know what was so funny. "You'll be fine love. Trust me. This will be nothing."

Her feet began to bring her to him, her steps faster and surer than they used to be. The speed surprised her and she let out a breath of air as she fell into Edward arms. She shook her head in disbelief.

"What the..."

"You'll get used to it," Edward assured her, brushing a stray lock from her face. "I'll help you slow down your strides." Bella looked at him, confused. "For human appearances," he clarified.

Bella nodded but her mind seemed to be on something else. She drew her thumbnail between her teeth and began to gnaw on it, scrunching her nose up in thought. She finally looked up at Edward's concerned gaze.

"What am I going to do about my parents?" she asked anxiously. "Eventually, not any time soon of course, but eventually they will check in on me."

"When do you think that will be?" Edward knew they were going to have to concoct some sort of plan in order to allay any suspicions but he had yet to think of something.

Bella sat herself down on the large window frame, pulling Edward with her. "Well, chances are they won't come around until the summer, so I think I'd like to send them a letter, just to let them know that I've left and I'm never coming back."

Bella stared at the floor deep in thought and Edward wished he knew what she was thinking. "Are you alright, love?" he asked. She nodded with a smile, but the sadness in her eyes betrayed the gesture.

"I know I don't owe them anything but I'd like to leave something behind so that they know not to look for me, so they know that I'm happy and they shouldn't worry." Her face fell and she looked away. "Not that they ever did," she mumbled beneath her breath.

Edward's thumb stroked soothingly over the back of Bella's hand, his free hand reaching out to her gently, goading her face to look at him.

"Forget about them, Bella. You have me now, you have my family." He touched his lips to hers, savoring the feel of her mouth against his. She was so sweet, so soft; so perfect. "And you are everything to me."

Bella smiled against his lips. She felt like she might cry tears of joy at his words. He always seemed to know exactly what to say to alleviate her fears, to quell her worries when she lost herself in the memories of her depressing childhood. She had Edward now and there was no need to dwell in the past. Her parents were behind her.

She looked up at him, feeling the warmth of his love and affection wrap around her, and it made her smile. "I love you, Edward Cullen," she said softly.

That wonderfully sexy crooked smile appeared on his face and she melted into his touch as he took her face in his hands, his fingers weaving into her long locks, his thumbs stroking her lips.

"And I love you, Isabella swan. Now and forever."

He kissed her, his mouth meeting hers over and over in the sweetest of touches. She parted her lips, her sweet breath tickling Edward's skin. She purred in contentment, the sounded rolling over him in the most delectable way. Edward knew that no measure of time would ever be enough with Bella, but they'd start with forever.

Well, it's finished. Hope you enjoyed. :D