Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is merely coincidental.

Special thanks to my new team of Betas: 2old2care, Room340C, and prettyflour

And to Raum (Banner Maker).

To my readers: love.

Make Haste, My Beloved Book 7 in the 'Unforeseen Events' Series. If you have not read 'I Hunger for Your Touch' (Book 6), you won't understand this. Please read it first. You may start at Book 6 and follow this story without difficulty. Rated NC-17 for lemons (including some of other flavours than vanilla), coarse language, violence, occasional brutality, and adult situations.

Sources for this chapter:



Music can be found on the jmollytwilight2 Youtube

"If I Ain't Got You", by Alicia Keyes

"Frankie and Johnny", by Kenny Gardner, Guy Lombardo & the Royal Canadians

"In the Mood", by Guy Lombardo & the Royal Canadians

"I'm My Own Grandpaw", by GL & the Royal Canadians

"Darktown Strutters' Ball", by Cliff Grass, GL & the Royal Canadians

"That's How I Feel About You", by Carmen Lombardo, GL & the Royal Canadians

"I Wanna Be Your Dog", by Iggy and the Stooges

"Knocking on Forbidden Doors", by Enigma

"No Name for Love", by Antoine Dufour

"Firework (Katy Perry)", by Boyce Avenue with David Choi

Set me as a seal upon thine heart. As a seal upon thine arm. For love is strong as death. Jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame; Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it... Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.

The Song of Solomon, Chapter 8: 6, 7, 14.

Chapter One: In Transit

Friday, September 17th, 2005, circa 8am:

Edward's pov:

"Bella? Wake up, Sweetheart. Come on, I need you for a few minutes, please," I said softly, reaching across the seat to cup her cheek in my hand. The car engine ticked as it cooled.

"Mmph. Five more minutes, Charlie."

I snorted. "Bella, wake up."

"Damn, did I miss-t?" she garbled, sitting up groggily and wiping drool from her face. The lights were on, but nobody was home. Hah.

Seattle, Spokane, the ferry? Wide awake, and chatty. Of course it was grey and dismal out most of that time, and we'd seen most of it before. Then, for Madison, Milwaukee, the Muskegon Ferry, and Flint, with rather more novel things to look at, she was out like a light. Sometimes I thought, I will be glad when Bella stops needing to sleep.

Now, it was getting onto twenty-four hours in the car, I was antsy, it was morning, and we had to cross into Canada.

"Miss what, Darling?" I asked, stroking her cheek.


"No, no, silly Bella. Please wake up. Your attention is required."

"Later, Ginchy."

"Hah. Seriously, Bella. Wake up."

She sighed and stretched, and Ren poked around a bit in under Bella's funny tee. I gave my wife's tummy a little rub, and our daughter's foot bumped out to nudge me.

"Why am I waking up, Edward?" Bella said clearly.

"We decided to go through Canada, remember? I need you to get your contacts in, and be prepared to talk to the border guards."

" 'Kay." She blinked her red eyes at me. "I didn't even realize we'd stopped."

"Been sitting here for half an hour, lazybones."

"Mmm," she moaned, flexing her legs and extending her arms over her head. Grr-wow. "Bluewater Bridge?"

"Got it in one," I smiled, handing her a contact case.

"Thanks." Bella pulled down the visor so she could look in the mirror, and popped in her brown contacts. "How's that?"

I wrinkled my nose. "They work. They aren't as pretty as yours were. I actually prefer the red, though."

My mate's eyes were a crystal-clear ruby red, like those of other Hybrid mothers we had met and rescued in Brazil. The coloured contacts turned them muddy. I was glad she wouldn't have to wear them all the time.

I got out my comb and argued with my hair, which as usual was not agreeable to lying down. I had just put it into some semblance of order when my minx leaned over and ruffled it up.

"Hey!" I chuckled, catching her wrist. She looked at me solemnly.

"You're never going to pass for twenty-four if you make it lie down, Mocha-chino, even with the beard. You look younger when it's flat."

I sighed, and wondered what it would have been like to reach my eighteenth birthday. Well, in less than a week, I was going to hit my eighty-eighth year of immortality, and I had an awful lot to celebrate, so I ought not to complain.


"Hm?" I said, startled.

"Are you moping?" she said, narrowing her eyes at me.

"What could I possibly have to mope about?" I wondered.

"Not looking old enough to drink?"

"That is one thing I will never miss, Minx. Although we should try to go to at least one kegger before we graduate."

Graduate. College. For real. I lit up inside.

"That's better," Bella said, and looked out the windshield. "I think we're up."

Indeed, the customs official was motioning me forward. I put the Guardian in drive, and pulled up under the overhang in front of him. "Good morning, officer," I said, passing up our passports.

He peered in, examining us carefully. "Good morning. State your business in Canada."

I smiled up at him. "We're stopping over in Niagara Falls overnight, before passing back over the border on our way to college."

"Where are you going?" he asked with a faint smile.

"Dartmouth, in Hanover, New Hampshire."

"Lots of kids are heading to college this week. Matching t-shirts, huh?"

Bella smiled. "Yes, it's something our friends and family dreamed up for the pregnancy. We have zillions of them."

"What's it say?" the guard asked Bella. She smoothed down the shirt.

"It says, 'Don't mess with me: I own a tree chipper'. For some reason my family seems to think I'm a little moody."

I held up my hands in surrender, to the guard's amusement. He read mine, which said, "I do not have an opinion on teen pregnancy. Ask my wife." Then, in little tiny letters underneath, it said, "If you want to die today." I had been wearing it for over 26 hours, and my OCD was starting to get to me. I would be glad to get to the hotel and change.

"Those are great," the guard said, handing back our ID. "Anything to declare?"

"No, sir," I said. "Everything in the car came from home."

He patted the hood of the Guardian. "Have a good time in Canada, and best of luck in school and with your baby."

"Thank you," we chorused. He backed up, and we moved smoothly forward. Soon, we were on the exquisite bridge, heading for Ontario.

We pulled up at the next station, paying our three dollar toll, and had a similar exchange with the Canadian guard, who asked us if we had been to Canada before. Bella and I grinned at each other. "Oh, yes," we told her.

"During the same week we made our daughter," I added.

The guard's lip twitched up in amusement. "Just don't give birth to her on the wrong side of the border. Too much paperwork. How far along are you?"

"Twenty-three weeks," Bella supplied.

"Well, isn't that nice. You take care, Mr and Mrs Cullen."

"Thank you, Ma'am," I said, and then up went the gate and through we went. Bella and I smiled as we pulled onto the 402-E.

"Port Edward, Ontario," she teased, reading the green and white city markers.

"Totally apropos," I said smugly.

"There's a port I could come into."

I glanced at my little minx. Her disguised eyes glinted with laughter. I cocked a brow at her. "Generally, Mrs Cullen, it is the male partner who cums into-"

"You're no fun. How are we going to annoy Em and Rose if you won't think outside the box?" she teased.

I nearly swallowed my tongue. "Minx: if you are alluding to certain… activities, then-"

"Mocha-chino," she said sternly. "I am not alluding to 'certain activities'. I am stating flat out that I want to strap on a big-"

"Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Bella!" I gasped. "You are not thinking outside the box. You have broken the box."

"Grr-wow, Baby, yeah, and I am going to break you in. Later," she declared smugly.

My hands gripped the steering wheel until the Guardian was in danger of losing its life.

"What?" my onetime lamb asked as though we were discussing the weather. "It's not like we haven't tried it before."

"You said with something big," I protested, turning off the highway on the road to the city of St Thomas. "You really scare me sometimes," I murmured, casting a leery look at her. Bella just grinned at me. I might never understand her.

"You think I'm scary now, just wait 'til I'm a Newborn," she sang.

I accidentally veered into the path of oncoming traffic, causing horns to blare. By the time I twitched the Guardian back into the middle of the lane and stopped hyperventilating, my bratty wife was hugging herself, laughing, with tears trickling down her cheeks.

"Are you playing me?" I gawped.

"No," she snickered.

"Jeez Louise," I sighed. "You are such a naughty girl. I cannot keep up with your mental gymnastics."


"Shut up, Minx," I mock-pouted. "I think I'm doing rather well at thinking outside the box, considering I'll be eighty-eight soon."

Bella's hand caressed my thigh, and I wrapped my fingers around it. "Of course you are, Love." She sighed and shifted. "Vampire age is so weird. You were a hundred-and-four on your human birthday, and you'll be eighty-eight on your vampire birthday. And I just turned nineteen but I stopped ageing at eighteen. So how old will I be once Ren is born?"

"A mere babe," I smirked.

"Cradle robber."

"Proud of it," I drawled. "And I'll even change your diaper if necessary."

"Shut up."

"Shame we didn't have any Depends down in the Amazon," I said in a sorrowful tone. Not.

"Oh, I dunno. We stuck Em with most of the mess," Bella said happily. "And Tanya." We both had a good giggle. Then, Bella fell sober unexpectedly. "Mocha-chino?"

"Yeah, Babe?"

"When I change, you won't let Alice…" she said softly, ending with a frightened gulp. I took her fingers and kissed them, then rolled my eyes at her.

"Of course I won't let her dress you," I said gently, purposefully misunderstanding. "You'd end up wearing Jimmy Choo's and some outrageous ball gown. It would be totally stupid for hunting. I promise to put you … in the unicorn pyjamas, yeah?"

"Promise?" she whispered.

"Promise," I said, lifting her hand to fold a kiss into the space between her left thumb and finger. "I will be the one to nurse you, Isabella Marie. I will be with you every single moment until you open your eyes forever."

"For three days?" she asked skeptically. "I give you permission to shower. In fact, I order you to shower at least twice. I want you to be the first thing I smell when I wake up, and you'd better smell good."

"I'll do it at vampire speed," I laughed.

"Thanks, Mocha-chino," she breathed.

"Of all the things she could worry about, she worries about what she'll wake up wearing and how I'm going to smell," I snorted at the roof of the car. "Typical."

"I know it's going to be fine," Bella murmured, stroking my thumb. "You'll take care of me. Everyone will."

"And God will take care of all of us," I promised. Bella liked that. She gave my hand a squeeze, and with a contented sigh, rested her head on the back of her seat, and watched me. I concentrated on the thin traffic. So far, driving in Ontario was so much easier than driving in Michigan.

Sometime later, I was relaxing with my left wrist resting on the steering wheel, admiring the maple and fir greenery of Southwestern Ontario, when my wife broke the comfortable silence.

"You're not speeding."

"Hah. There are cameras all over the place here, and the last thing we need is police attention in a foreign country." As I looked at a yellow Porsche in the next lane, relieved to know it was not Alice, I noticed that Bella was watching me again.

She raised one brow in challenge. "First call home to Carlisle, from jail?"

"He'd murder us," I smiled. "Let's save our shenanigans for Em and Rose."

Bella grinned and popped a foot up on the seat, which gave me a clear eyeful of Home Base. Delicious. Not for the first time, I was glad of vampire reflexes and my ability to read minds, as they gave me an opportunity to ogle my mate whilst safely zipping along the highway at a hundred kilometers an hour. "So, what do you have in mind for them, Mocha-chino?"

I tensed, staring at the road ahead. It was still difficult to openly discuss how we were going to gull my brother and his wife into thinking we were extroverted sexual deviants.

"Come on, Edward. You can tell me. I already know you're a perv."

"Shut up," I giggled nervously.

"Duct tape," she enunciated at me.

"Oh, yeah. Duct tape is hawt," I joshed.

"See? Perv," Bella said dismissively.

"Suede flogger?" I challenged, eyes narrowed while I awaited her reaction. Somehow her teasing always broke down my natural reticence.

"Spanking," she said with relish.

"Grr-wow, Minxy Kitty." I decided once and for all that college was the perfect opportunity to experiment and have fun. If we got carried away, there would hardly be any vampire witnesses. And we didn't have to use all the kinky things we were putting up as set décor, we only had to convince Em and Rose that we were. Hah. Child's play. And the best bit was, if they bleated about us to anybody in the family, our allies would deny, deny, deny.

Bella and I spent the next hour scheming about how to harass my brother and his mate, and then navigated a couple of beautiful Parkways before merging onto the Queen Elizabeth Way, also known as the 401-E, toward Niagara.

"You're not taking the same route we took last time," Bella remarked as we pulled off toward the city of London.

"There's something here I kind of wanted to see," I said softly, "so I made an appointment."

"Really?" she asked, sounding intrigued. "What interests you here?"

I turned and smiled at her. "Dancing."

"Dancing?" she echoed blankly. "We're going dancing?"

"Mm, probably not. I ought to have said, 'music history involving dancing'."

"Tell me more."

"Patience, Minx. We're nearly there, and you'll be able to see for yourself." I turned off Springbank Drive onto Wonderland Road, and found myself a little anxious. After a couple of quiet minutes, we turned down a steep driveway into a small parking lot. To our left was a restaurant. To the right was a sort of outbuilding, with an outdoor dance floor that did not look in very good repair. Shame. And closer to the road, in front of that dance area, was a small, one-storey building, bearing the name, 'The Guy Lombardo Museum'.

"Guy Lombardo?" Bella frowned as I helped her out of the Guardian. "Wasn't he part of the Big Band Era? I'm sure I've heard Carlisle mention him."

"Yes, we were acquainted," I murmured. It was … odd, like visiting an old haunt, and finding out it was now a historical site. Which was pretty much accurate. I took Bella's hand. "Come on, Love. Doug will be waiting."

We walked up the little concrete sidewalk to the front door, where we found an extremely elderly gentleman with tufts of thin white hair, and watery blue eyes. This was not Doug. This was Frank. Frank Dutton. The boy I knew had years of living mapped upon his face. The lines were happy ones.

"Hello there," he said, smiling. "You kids out for a walk in Springbank?"

"No, although it does look like a lovely park. Are you Doug?" I inquired mendaciously.

"Oh," he said, surprised. "Are you Mr Cullen?" He reminds me of somebody.

"Yes. Edward. And this is my wife, Bella." We shook hands.

"Lovely to meet you. I'm Frank. Sorry, Doug isn't feeling well, but I can tell you plenty about Lombardo and the Royal Canadians."

"Actually, you might say I'm a fan," I murmured. "We couldn't resist coming, since we were passing through the area. Thank you very much for meeting us."

"Yes, we only normally open on Sundays, but I'm always glad for the opportunity to discuss the icon, you know?"

"He was that," I agreed. "But he was a lot of fun, too."

"Well, come in, come in. Let me show you around." Frank said enthusiastically.

"Thank you."

Frank held the door open for Bella, and ushered us inside. There was a lot of great stuff, and in the background some sublime music was playing.

I headed straight for the racing boat, smiling fondly. "Boy, he loved this boat. He raced it all over the warmer parts of the world, you know. Had some wonderful weekends."

Bella looked both fascinated and a little uncertain. She knew the past could get me a little soggy, and she had figured out that I knew Lombardo personally. "What was he like?"

I shrugged. "Bit of a character. Smiled all the time." I noticed a violin. "Aw, look! One of his violins. You know, he used to play, and he would start conducting with the bow. It used to wreak havoc on the gut. The hairs would come apart, and wave. Finally, somebody decided to let him have a baton. The rest is history. You should have seen him conduct, Minx. He was so exuberant."

One of the Big Band member's bright red jackets was on display in the room where some chairs were arranged in front of a big screen TV. I walked over briskly and smelled it. "Is that Kenny's?"

Frank's face went slack with surprise and then kindled with excitement. "You do know a lot about Lombardo. I didn't think kids were interested anymore."

Bella was looking at the Large Playing Record jackets festooning the room. "Do you have any of these, Edward?"

"I have most of them," I smiled. "Frank, I'm really interested in seeing the documentary. Do you have time for us to watch it?"

"If you'll discuss my obsession with me, young man, I'll give you my whole day," he declared eagerly.

"The Stork Club," I sighed, looking at a photo on the wall. "Such a famous place. Everyone was devastated when it burned down."

"It was a terrible day for music," Frank agreed, shaking his head. "Young lady, would you care to have a seat?" There were two rows of bright red chairs.

"Thank you," Bella said, sitting in the chair in the front row that Frank proffered. I joined her on the other side, and admitted to myself that I was a little nervous. Had the filmmakers done a good job on the documentary? So often, history was misreported.

The documentary started, and I was soon absorbed in it. "This is excellent," I told Frank. "Look, Bella, that's Kenny, there. Such a lovely voice. Kenny Gardner. He was Guy's brother-in-law. And there's one of the Freds." I snapped my fingers. "Freddy Higman. He made it to the opening of this place, God rest him. I wish I could have been here."

"You'd have loved that. With whom would you have danced?" Bella wondered.

"Mom, or Alice. One of the Denalis, once in a blue moon. Sometimes Rose," I said thoughtfully. "Rose had this cream silk dress that she used to wear to the Stork Club."

"Rose?" Frank asked eagerly.

"Rosemary Cullen," I told him.

"You know Rosemary Cullen?" Frank gaped. "You didn't tell me you had a personal knowledge of people who were around Lombardo. Wait... Cullen. You're a Cullen... Carl Cullen?" he beamed, all excited.

"My grandfather," I smiled. My attention was drawn back to the screen. "Oh, in the name of all that's holy! Can you rewind that a bit?"

Frank hesitated, then hastened to back up the DVD.

"Stop!" I urged him, and approached the screen. Then, I doubled over in silent laughter. I turned to Bella, communicating my delight, and she stepped forward to join us, her surprise evident.

What bit him? Frank approached the screen, and stared. But... he looks just like that kid, dancing with Rosemary Cullen. Wait a second... I remember that guy. He was… a handful of years older than me. Yeah, I remember looking up to him. What was his name? He turned to look at me with big eyes. Anthony.

"That, my lady and gentleman, is my other grandfather, Anthony Masen, dancing with his friend Carl's sister, Rosemary. Carl married Ann Evanson, and Anthony married Alice Swan. Then Carl's son, Eddie Cullen, married Anthony's daughter, Elizabeth Masen, and here I am. Lord, I can't believe how much I look like my grandfather, except for the hair. All that cream. Ew, gross. He taught me to dance, you know."

"But, he was a beautiful dancer. Very well known, back in the Thirties and Forties. What kind of dancing did he teach you?" I knew he looked familiar.

I shrugged, trying to smother a bratty grin. It was wonderful to be remembered. "What didn't he teach me? Latin, Ballroom, Tap, Jive..."

"You can Jive?" Frank asked a bit warily, his faded blue eyes trained on me. Nobody jives anymore. If he's half as good a dancer as his Grandpa, it would be a treat to watch him dance. I wonder if he'd dance for me if I asked him. Oh, if only my Gladys were here to see. She used to admire Anthony's dancing so very much.

I ducked my head, feeling bashful. "Shame it didn't remain a popular dance form. Great fun, was Jive."

"Who dances it with you?" Frank wondered, fascination animating his features so that he looked ten years younger. "This lovely lady?"

Bella hummed a laugh. "Edward's only just starting to teach me to dance. Growing up, he danced with his sister, Alice."

"Aw, I wish you could dance for me," Frank sighed. Probably turn me down if I were to ask. "Not very often we see anybody younger than me who appreciates this stuff."

"Edward's very old-fashioned," Bella said, stroking my shoulder. "And I like old-fashioned things, too."

I looked at her affectionately. "I can teach you Jive as soon as you're liberated from our little Tigger, Bella. It's a little ... bouncy for you right now. But if you can Samba, you can certainly Jive. If you would put on a Foxtrot, Frank, we could do that for you."

Ooh, they're going to dance for me! "I've got just the one," Frank said, gesturing at us to wait. "'Baby': 1928!" He came back with a 75rpm, and set it gently on a turntable. Instead of the Foxtrot, on came 'In the Mood'.

"Whoops! Wrong side."

"Aw, Frank, that's a Lindy," I ribbed him. "No way I'm doing aerials with a pregnant lady."

Frank looked highly disconcerted. How old is this kid? "You can do the Lindy Hop?"

I reminisced about some of the brighter moments in my long existence. "Lindy, Shag, lots of different Swings. Bella and I did a Lindy in our school talent show a couple of years back. It was fun, wasn't it Bella?"

My mate rolled her eyes. "It was until that Blumfeld fellow showed up."

"You're a jitterbug!" Frank gaped.

I laughed a little shyly. "I'm no Dean Collins. I'm better at Tap."

"Oh, Dean Collins! There's a name I don't hear much anymore," he enthused. "Who taught you to Lindy?"

I ran my hand through my hair, feeling sheepish. "Frankie Manning."

"He invented aerials!" Frank said excitedly, the pitch of his voice going up almost an octave. "The forerunner of Breakdancing! The King of Lindy Hop! He's gotta be a hundred years old."

Hah. I had forgotten how enthusiastic Frank used to be. Rather like Mickey Rooney when Mickey was a kid, although Frank had looked nothing like him, with his blond hair and freckles. And Frank was still almost as tall as me. He had obviously taken good care of himself.

"Mr Manning's ninety-one. He's still teaching," I told him.

"Oh, please excuse me for asking, but you've just got to do the Jive for me. Just a little?" Frank coaxed.

"I don't have the right shoes," I said regretfully. I knew it would mean a lot to him, but I didn't know how to work it in Sketchers.

"Ooh, I don't care. Just do a little."

I scuffed my metatarsal bones against the floor, testing for grip. Dress shoes had smooth bottoms, so they could slide. Sketchers were built to do exactly the opposite. I looked around a bit fretfully. "You know, I shouldn't do this in here. Would you mind if we go outside, maybe use that outdoor floor? We can't risk breaking anything. I'm amazed more people didn't break each other's jaws, doing aerials back in the day." I looked at Bella meaningfully, so she got the picture. People had indeed broken bones doing them, often those of others rather than their own. Carlisle's skills had come in handy a time or three.

By golly, he's a great kid. Not stuck up at all. Anthony would have been proud of him. I wish Doug and Gladys could be here. Frank looked another twenty years younger. He was obviously thrilled. Indicating the door, he practically skipped back to fiddle with the audio equipment. "You go on out. I'll follow you in a minute."

"Okay," I said blithely, taking Bella's hand. I escorted her behind the museum to the outside party area adjacent to the Thames River, which meandered by in a smooth green ribbon. Luckily, any sunshine was obscured by the huge trees surrounding the area. There were three raccoons sitting on the dance floor. They eyed us with terror, and scattered into the undergrowth. Suddenly, music blared out of speakers: 'I'm My Own Grandpaw'. And here stood Anthony Masen/Edward Cullen in the flesh. How apropos was that song! Irony of the best kind. "I am my own grandpa, today, Minx," I whispered happily.

"Only you could tell that fish tale and have a song appear to confirm it," my girl whispered back. I chuckled and looked around. I could almost see the spot in darkness, lit up with paper lanterns, and girls' pastel dresses flaring as they danced. I stood with my arm around my mate and just enjoyed the memory.

Frank hurried around the corner of the building to join us. "Don't mind any raccoons. They think they belong at the restaurant. See the tent around the back? The owners open it in the evening, and the raccoons invite themselves inside to mooch food from the patrons."

"Really?" Bella asked, looking amused.

"Yes, indeed," Frank confirmed. I don't know how the owners get past the health inspectors. Perhaps it's because the animals do get vaccinated."

"Wonderland Gardens," I mused. "Been here a long time."

"Not going to be here much longer, I'm afraid. It's not doing very well."

I put on a show of stretching, even though it was unnecessary. My mate seemed to appreciate it, especially when I let my shirt ride up. I was tempted to tell her to put her tongue away, but I refrained. My erstwhile acquaintance was no longer a peer, and I feared it might offend him. "Shame. Perhaps people don't relish having raccoons join them for dinner. I don't know why. My grandfather told me people used to bring them apples, and they'd wash them in those wooden planters full of water, or take them down to the river to eat. He said they used to beg like dogs, but they were very clean and always washed their food before they ate." I turned aside. "I wouldn't have a problem dining with them," I said, winking at Bella. She buried a snort in a sneeze.

I wish my grandson was like that. He just thinks I'm old and dull, Frank thought sadly. I really wanted to cheer him up. I said a little prayer for him, hoping his family would appreciate him more in his old age.

"You were good friends with your Grandpa," Frank asserted.

"Not as good as I'd have wished. I remember him very, very well, though," I smiled.

The music changed to a Swing: 'The Darktown Strutters' Ball'. A song I danced to back in the day. How great was that! I paced out the floor a couple of times, and did a little skip, then front-flipped hands-free while the music hopped. Bella woo-hooed and Frank clapped for me. I put one hand up behind me, and the other down in front, and got into the swing, making my feet get busy. I thought about dancing with Bella and my daughter. Dancing was always fun, but it would be lovely to do more of it with my mate, now that she was durable, and teaching Ren would be so much fun. Soon, my feet were hard for Frank to track: the kid's so fast. Anthony used to be fleet of foot, too, as I recall. Checking myself,I inserted a couple of poses, moments of stillness.

In dancing it's not always the fluid motion that makes a dancer worthy of notice. The important part is often the held moment between the moves. I clapped a few times and did a couple of leaping twists. Then, I galloped around in a circle, ran up the wall, and flipped over, landing on my feet. The bubbly music ended with a flourish, Frank clapped enthusiastically, and I walked back over to my audience, faking breathing hard. That's when I realized my wife had our new video camera trained on me. Brat.

A new song came on. Well, an oldie. A Foxtrot. I confiscated the camera, and handed it to Frank. Then, I swept Bella into my arms, and hummed contentedly in her ear. "Nineteen twenty-eight. Carmen Lombardo sang this one. He wrote most of their songs." I crooned along with the music while we traversed the floor:

"If you said go and get the moon, I'd go right out and get the moon

That's how I feel about you, Sweetheart. Believe me!

"No matter what the past may be, I'll do just what you ask of me

That's how I feel about you, Sweetheart.

"Is there no way I can prove my great love for you

Just as you say, 'Come what may I will see it through

For you, Dear'

"If I can't have you for my own, I'd rather go through life alone

That's how I feel about you, Sweetheart."

Since dipping a pregnant lady to end the dance didn't seem like the brightest idea, I twirled Bella around a little instead, and tucked her against my chest while Frank applauded.

"I think you have a new bromance," Bella teased me at vampire pitch, her cheeks rosy and eyes luminous.

"I think you're right," I grinned, turning to our companion. "Shall we go back inside, Frank?"

"Sure," he smiled.

I took Bella by the hand, and the three of us went back into the museum.

"I'm so glad you came today," Frank told us, setting our camera down on the sales counter. "I get to add some information to our historical records, and I got to see some good old-fashioned dancing, and you're both just delightful."

"Well, thank you," I said, pleased to have made him happy. "Your website said you had CD's."

"Yes, we have three different ones, with sixty songs on them altogether," Frank told me eagerly.

I took out my wallet and pulled out my credit card. "I want four of each, no, better make it five."

Frank was thrilled. We haven't sold that many to one customer since the summer Big Band Festival. Doug's going to be so happy.

There was something else I wanted, that might please him. "And do you have the documentary for sale? My Dad would get a kick out of that."

"Your Dad's a lucky man, having a son who shares his interest," Frank beamed, stacking up music and a DVD for us. "Lord! Anthony Masen, and Rosemary and Carl Cullen. We had such wonderful times."

"I'm sure you did. Um, I meant five DVD's," I informed him. He looked a little stunned, but added them to the pile.

As Frank completed the transaction, my eyes swept the room, and I felt a satisfying amount of closure that I could not instantly explain. Perhaps it came from knowing that Anthony Masen and his family had not been entirely forgotten. Perhaps it came from seeing Frank again. I wasn't certain, but the feeling was welcome all the same. Frank handed me my new plastic bag full of history. I took it from him with a contented sigh. "Well, I guess we had best get going. We have to get to college in New Hampshire."

"Is that where your family is based now?" Frank inquired. I don't want to lose track of this kid. Wait 'til Doug hears!

"No, my parents are in Washington State," I told him. "Here, let me give you my card. I'm sure my family would have fun talking to you. You should ask Carlisle all about Carl and Rosemary." I pulled one out of my wallet and offered the card to him.

"Oh, that's wonderful," he smiled, taking it. "Thank you for coming, today. I'm so glad you did."

"So am I," I said, feeling contentment deep down in my bones. I shook Frank's hand. "Bye, Frank. I'm… glad to have met you." Again.

"Likewise, I'm sure," he said sincerely. Anthony Masen and Carl Cullen…If only my Gladys were here to see…

At the door, I passed him an envelope.

"Oh, don't worry about your tickets," he grinned.

"It's for the museum," I said, offering my arm to Bella.

"Oh. Thank you," Frank said, bemused.

Waving, I hurried Bella to the car. She giggled and pinched me on the backside. "You and your calling cards. You can take the Victorian out of the age…"

"Yeah, yeah, but you can't take the age out of the Victorian," I agreed, shutting her in.

Hopping in, I started the Guardian up, and drove quickly up the sharp incline to the street. Frank ran out of the door, waving my certified cheque like mad. Laughing, I waggled my fingers out the window, hoping they would not get caught in some errant beam of sunshine, as it was breaking through the clouds. My mate watched me with her left leg folded under her.

"You just made his day," she said finally, looking so proud of me.

"Nice fellow, isn't he? Not in the least condescending, considering he's only seven years younger than I am. He always was a genial fellow." I turned the air conditioning on. It was hot, considering it was September.

Bella gasped. "He's ninety-eight?"

"Yes. Well-preserved, isn't he? Comes from a lifetime of doing Ballroom." My smile faded. "He misses his wife Gladys. He was remembering her when we were dancing. She was very pretty, back in the day. She had lots of dark hair that she wore parted down the middle, and pulled back off her face, like Hedy Lamarr. His recollection of her is perfect." I turned east onto Highway 3. "Frank doesn't remember me very well, though."

I glanced over to find Bella watching me quietly. "Does that upset you?" she wanted to know.

"Nah. It's amazing he remembers me at all. People forget their friends from high school, five years back, never mind somebody they met socially seventy years ago. It's not like we were close. Now, Kenny, or Carmen, I'd have liked to see them again. No chance of that, now. But I liked being around their things, today."

"Mm. Thanks for bringing me, Mocha-chino. I really enjoyed that."

I reached out to take her hand. "Me, too. I'm so glad I have you to dance with, Bella."

"You promised me you'd do it every day," she reminded me.

"Yes," I grinned.

"You're slacking. Carlisle says the baby will like it when I dance," she pressed.

"I can think of other ways to rock the baby," I growled, giving my wife a wolfish smile.

"Yeah, well maybe we ought to get to the hotel first," she suggested coyly.

"Spoilsport," I teased.

"Shut up and keep your eyes on the road, unless you want to risk having a car accident in a foreign country."

Was Bella joshing? I could drive this blindfolded. I looked at her, feeling sly. "No."

"Yes!" she giggled. Something was wrong with the universe: I, the safety-obsessed male, was hinting that I'd like to get my rocks off in a moving vehicle, and my habitually-handsy spouse was objecting. "Behave yourself, you brat!" she said, pouting a little.

"No," I reiterated, feeling my eyes crinkle up.

"Why?" she teased.

"Hey, Minx! That's my line!" I huffed.

"You're so cute when you're bossy, Mr Cullen."

"I am not cute. I am a terrifying monster," I insisted. My wife patted my thigh, chuckling, and I twined my fingers up with hers.

"Yep, positively terrifying, Mr Jitterbug."

I rolled my eyes. Silly Bella.

We continued east toward Niagara Falls. Traffic was fairly light, so we made good progress. It only took three hours to reach the Niagara region. Soon, the familiar silhouette of the Skylon appeared.

"Where are we staying, Mocha-chino? Are we going back to the Hampton?"

"No. We're staying at the Sheraton on the Falls."

"Wow. View of the falls?"

"You bet." I attempted to sound casual, muting my excitement. Bella might just murder me for booking us into the best suite in the hotel.

Lundy's Lane presented its usual melange of accommodations, adult-oriented stores and venues, tacky souvenir shops and restaurants. The air had the scent of a fall fair about it, even though there wasn't one occurring. Traffic crawled, as everyone headed to, or from, any special site was passing through the area. I took the opportunity to get gas while I could. There hadn't been an open gas station within a two hour drive.

While the attendant filled up the tank, Bella and I rubbernecked. The Skylon was just visible from the station, and there were lots of storefronts, billboards and unusual people to gawp at. Bella's eyes lit up for some unknown reason. I knew that look. It spelled 'mischief'.

"What's bitten you?" I asked, the stirrings of something interesting building in my gut. She canted her brow and gestured across the street. I followed her eyes to a window displaying several spit-through, sexy outfits and posters for pornographic films. It was definitely not a place to shop for minxy French lace. I wouldn't be surprised if there were curtained booths in the back, where one might get off on a salacious flick or possibly even obtain a cheap blow job. In short, it was not the kind of place to take my bride. Definitely not Victorian approved.

"Want to stop in?" she asked me, eyes glinting as only those of a minx could.

"Um, no," I said, licking my lip nervously. Not too long ago, I had discussed aggression with my part-vampire, part-human mate. Perhaps this … strong libido could be attributed to vampire-like impulsivity. Or maybe it was those human pregnancy hormones about which Carlisle had quietly warned me. Who knew?

Bella blinked, her face unreadable. "You promised me you would be silly sometimes, and we've never gone into an adult-oriented store together."

"It is way past 'adult oriented,' Love," I objected, feeling my lip curl with revulsion. "It's a sex shop. We might pick up a disease in there."

My Bella's eyes rolled. "You're a vampire, and I'm a Hybrid," she said slowly, as though I were a dolt.

"Yes, and you caught a cold from a human infant, and gave it to me, and we were sick as-"

Bella reached out and smoothed the crease between my eyes. "Hon', I didn't say we were going to have sex in there, or stick any samples anywhere … communicable, or anything." Her look turned speculative. "I just thought it would be fun to have a look."

The gas station attendant tapped on the window, which I opened immediately to present my credit card. He swiped it and entered my purchase information.

"The sort of people who go into those stores scare me, Bella," I whispered, lest the attendant overhear. "I mean, if it were a nice lingerie shop, maybe, but this place is apt to get raided by the cops while we're in there."

"We can buy something to squick out Em and Rose," she coaxed.

I looked at the store dubiously. The proprietress within was logged onto her laptop, getting soggy over some Fanfiction thing she was reading about a young girl with broken wings tattooed on her back. "I dunno, Bella. Can't we just … keep shopping online, where it's anonymous and nobody's watching?" I bit my lip, Looking at the store. "I don't mind shopping online together, Bella. Or in a really nice store."

"Edward, we're in a foreign country," Bella asserted. "Nobody special is going to know we went in there. Who cares what some employee in there thinks? Please put the Victorian in his cage and come pick out a new toy." And with that, she got out of the Guardian and skipped across the street, stopping to smoulder at me, over her shoulder, as she opened the door.

I gawped after her like a complete fool, and jumped when the gas station attendant reached in the window and shoved the credit card slip under my nose. I signed it and retrieved my card.

"Thank you, have a nice day," the young man said.

"Yeah," I said, still focused on my mate, who was now inside the store. Some human male in a minivan behind me honked for me to get a move on so he could have his turn getting gas. Waving apologetically, I took the car back into traffic, and pulled into the small, dusty parking lot belonging to the shop. I could See Bella inside through the eyes of the proprietress, quizzing said person about various electronic stimulators. Bella was wrinkling her nose at a rather large silicone cock, and the proprietress was a little bemused. She thinks that's too small?

I am the man.

Sighing heavily, I exited the Guardian and opened the door of the … sex shop enough to peek in.

"Don't be shy, come in," the shopwoman invited me, waving. She had to be in her late sixties, and was attired in business-casual dress pants, sensible shoes and a white cap-sleeved blouse. She was not at all what I expected.

"Bella?" I murmured nervously. My minx gave me the once-over, her eyes sultry despite the horrible contact lenses.

"Come here, Mocha-chino, and tell me what you think of this cock," she coaxed me, squeezing up and down its length with one hand.

I froze, shocked to the core. How could she say such a thing in front of a perfect stranger? She knew I was uncomfortable coming in here in the first place. My wife was a very naughty brat. I promised myself that I was going to spank her later.

Had she always been this kitten, or was she putting me on? Her candour was… a little unsettling. What had she gotten us into? Maybe… she was playing a game. Yeah, my Bella's eyes were challenging me.

Well, bring it on, Missy! Two can play at that game. I had made a promise to talk more freely, in the name of fulfilling our prank on the siblings, and I kept my promises.

To get to Bella, I would have to pass by several monster dildos which were proudly displayed in the middle of the room. Some were as big as her entire leg. Hands in my pockets, I crossed the admittedly spotless hardwood floor, trying to look unfazed.

The matronly saleswoman regarded me with a smile. "Matching t-shirts? What a darling idea." Oh, she's got wedding rings. My, they're young.

"Yes, we have tons of them," Bella told her, holding out the dildo to me. Wordlessly, I took the apparatus in hand and examined it. My fingers went around it, and circled it far too easily. Time to knock Bella off her pins.

"Not big enough," I declared. "You won't even feel it." I handed it back to Bella. ◊Bella one, Edward one.

The woman's eyes bulged. Holy cow! "That's a pretty big specimen, young man. Only about thirty percent of men on the planet sport that kind of girth. I wouldn't recommend anything lar-"

"Oh, it's not for me," my naughty girl declared, fingering the artificial meat coyly. My eyes came up slowly to meet her bratty ones. I backed up a step, reeling, as comprehension dawned.

"No way," I yelped. "No," I repeated, in a much lower octave. ◊Bella two, Edward one.

"Well, we need a better strap-on," my mate insisted, taking cockiness to a whole new level. "The one we've got isn't going to reach soon." She addressed the saleswoman. "I'd like a harness that's padded, so it's more comfortable while I'm pregnant."

"Who are you, and what have you done with my wife?" I breathed weakly, still reeling. ◊Shy Girl? Not. Bella three, Edward one.

Bella ignored me. She thought she'd won the game. I racked my brain for a way to get more points.

"I have a suggestion," the saleswoman said triumphantly.

"No," I hissed, glaring at my mate. Both women ignored me.

"This is a different kind of strap-on harness. Very high quality black silicone and leather, easy to clean, and obviously one size fits all. It fastens around your thigh and then you can love him from behind or boy-on-top as usual, or you can sit in a chair and he can just mount-"

"Bella!" I yelped. ◊My mate is beating me hands down. I am being bested in a masculine domain. Cullen? Get your head together before you prove once and for all that you have a vagina.

My mate ignored me. "This seems like a pretty small ring," she said, fingering the opening that would hold the dildo. "It's fine for now, but I want to work him up to taking something larger."

OMG! Bella five, Edward one.

"Oh, that's easily replaced," the proprietress beamed, showing Bella how to undo the straps holding the cock ring to the … harness. She pulled the ring free and gestured at the glass case under her counter, wherein a variety of colourful o-rings resided.

"Awesome!" my mate declared, grinning lasciviously. "I'll take it. And one of those blue rings, and that red one."

"You have good taste," the woman declared, collecting the items for which my mate had asked.

"Bella," I warned.

"Yes, Dear?" she said, eyes as untroubled as those of a day-old baby lamb. Somebody was begging for a spanking.

I fisted my hair with one hand, rocking from foot to foot, and pointed at the dildo in her hands without looking at her. "That's … not going to happen."

Bella blinked at me, surprised. "Why not? Look, it's a nice one. It's got veins that will stimulate your prostate and you can put hot water in it and make it squirt, see?"

The toy did, indeed, have an actual urethra. "Jeez Louise."

"I bet it would feel really good," she cajoled me.

"Too big," I snapped, wondering what colour my face was. Thank God the lighting was dim.

"Oh," Bella said, face clearing. "Okay. You pick one."

Fuck my life. Although I was pretty positive by this point in my mated relationship that it was impossible for me to die of mortification, I wasn't past making the attempt. To my absolute horror, the entire wall opposite the cash register was covered in phallic-shaped objects. Black ones, white ones, purple ones, pink ones, you name it, this woman sold it, right out in the open where any passerby might see. ◊Why oh why could we not have done this online?

"He's so shy," Bella cooed fondly while she and the other woman watched me suffer.

Yes, but she got him to look. So many men aren't brave enough to admit to their desires, and I've never met a man who didn't want penetration. But so many of them tuck their tails and run.

I scanned the wall rapidly and grabbed the first decent –uh, indecent- uh… non-fear-inspiring dildo I could find. I shoved it at Bella, and crossed my arms stubbornly. There was no way I was going to concede the game. My mate rolled her eyes at me.


I brought my eyes up to meet hers. Bella was regarding me like I was a cute little puppy in the pet shop window. "Why so shy?" she mouthed, winking. Then she spoke at normal pitch. "This one doesn't even have a base for the ring, Sweetheart."

Oh. My eyes flickered warily over to the saleswoman. Mercifully, Bella finally took pity on me, turning to address her.

"My hubs is feeling a little self-conscious," she said condescendingly, giving me a pat on the arm. ◊Oh, Baby, you are asking for it. You are going down. I don't know how yet, but I will beat you at this game. 'Hubs', indeed!

"Perhaps you can help us with something else while he has a look at those," Bella suggested, setting the inappropriate dildo (are dildos ever appropriate?) down on top of a shelf of … merchandise? ◊What the heck are those? OMG artificial vaginas. I thought Yorkie's blow up doll was bad.

"Of course, dear." The matronly female turned to me. "If you need any help please do ask me," she offered solicitously. I wonder if he wants one of those to use when his wife is too tired to be intimate.

I think not.

Poor boy can't be much past his sexual peak. He's going to need an outlet when she gets close to her due date.

God help me, now she was beginning to feel motherly. Ew. I edged over to the wall of cock, surreptitiously spying on the females to discover what kind of mischief Bella was planning next.

"What are you looking for?" the proprietress asked Bella.

"Well," my mate smirked, "my husband's brother is a real pain in the neck. He's been teasing Edward about sex ever since he hit puberty, and now we're going to be living with him and his wife while we go to college. We've decided to play an ongoing prank on them, by pretending to be super-kinky extroverts. We're going to need plenty of props. We have some already, but…"

I couldn't believe my mate was so comfortable discussing our plans. On the upside, at least she seemed to have tired of her 'Let's-mortify-Edward' game.

The woman beamed at us through her red-rimmed plastic eyeglasses. What fun! "What's the theme?"

"BD-DS. No pain or humiliation."

The woman appeared delighted. "Who's going to play the Sub?"

Like she didn't know. I felt venom sizzle under my skin, and could only hope my silver skin tone wasn't discernible in the dim light.

"Well, we thought we could take turns at it," Bella revealed, sparing my ass some embarrassment.

"That's called 'switching'," our much-too-helpful assistant supplied. She shook her head thoughtfully. "This is the funniest thing I've heard of in a long time. Your young man is a prince to take part in a game like this when he's obviously such a private person. You're a very lucky girl. Your marriage is going to last forever, because you're so playful at such a young age." She glanced over at me. Poor boy's not making any progress. Quickly, she joined me, picked a product off the wall, unboxed it, and presented it to me. "Any latex allergy?"

I shook my head 'no', unable to raise my eyes.

"This one's very popular, as long as you can tolerate the latex. I sell thousands of them to straight men every year. It has a nice consistency, firm but not punishingly hard, a decent base that you can suction onto a hard surface, plus it has the water reservoir and the veining. As a bonus, it's the same diameter all the way down, so you don't stop feeling it part-way."

Despite myself, my imagination began to run away with me. I swallowed hard, and nodded.

"Here you are, dear. He'll take this one," the saleswoman said, beginning to re-box it. She's definitely in charge today.

"No box, please," I said firmly. I didn't want to have to figure out where to leave a lewd thing like that. No way was I putting it in a hotel room recycle bin.

"Of course, dear." She set the dong on the glass countertop, leaving the box beside it, and retrieved the thigh-harness from Bella.

I thought back to what Jazz had told me on my honeymoon. It was important to keep our paraphernalia clean, and normal cleansers could discolour or degrade materials. "We need toy cleaner," I added. Bella's head snapped up and her eyes flared. Hah. Point to Edward. There was no way I was touching that dong until it was washed. A bottle was promptly whisked into the pile.

"Now, is there anything else you'd like?" the saleswoman asked. "Boy Butter?" These are high-ticket items. I wonder how much they want to spend.

"What's that?" Bella wanted to know.

"Special lubricant. It's good and thick for his comfort, made of a natural gel containing Vitamin E, shea butter and aloe. You want the blue bottle, which is water-based." She cracked open a bottle. "The oil-based one is nice, but it degrades latex and can't be used for vaginal sex." ◊This woman is beyond my understanding. What she considers a good sales pitch is just TMI to be sharing. "So always buy the blue kind. It's better than most lubes because it doesn't evaporate. It behaves like an oil." She dabbed a little on Bella's wrist and rubbed it. "Very slick, doesn't ball up, or get sticky, and it doesn't stain bedding either."

"Great," my mate grinned, rubbing the lube into her skin like it was a moisturizer. She took note of me, bemused. "Sweetheart? Stop looking at me like I'm a Pod Person."

I ducked my head. ◊Cullen? You are a girl. You are so whipped you've turned fluffy.

Bella turned back to the saleswoman. "What else can you recommend? We want something really cool. We have a big budget for this."

Yay! Maybe I can get that dollhouse for my granddaughter. I'm so glad these kids came in. They're really cute together. If only they were porn stars! I wonder if I should suggest they contact His Golden Eyes. This boy would fit right in.

God save me from any comparison to Eleazar! I swallowed hard, feeling venom heat my skin again.

Then again, it might spoil what they have. They're obviously very devoted to each other. It's marvellous how they're willing to be open about what turns them on. So many people never connect with their spouses like this. "There are many possibilities, depending on your preferences. Tell me what interests you," the Sex-emporium Granny coaxed Bella.

Yeah, what she said.

The door to the shop flew open, and I flinched as some terribly salacious thoughts assaulted me. Silently, Bella and I watched a nattily attired elderly man walk straight up to the counter, where he leaned on one elbow, and gave our saleswoman the once-over, which she overlooked.

"Usual, Mitchie?" she asked coolly.

The man looked at Bella in a way that made the liquid in my body boil. When he glanced at me, I glared at him. He ignored me and turned back to the shopkeeper. "No. Got one with pregnant women in it?"

"Lesbo, or straight?"


Bella and I both gasped at exactly the same instant. But then, to my amazement –since I fully expected her to go all Newborn on me and rend him into unrecognizable little pieces, saving me the trouble of doing so- Bella surreptitiously lifted her middle finger to scratch her temple. And then she made a face at me as if to say 'Do you believe this guy? Psssht.' It actually made me feel kind of… impressed with her. My mate could handle her temper. Wow.

See Cullen? No need to kill this prick. Bella is not upset, nor is she at risk, and he is not worth your time. Besides, I think maybe Bella might just… castrate any guy who really offended her.

How great is that!

The shop woman walked over to the Rental DVD section and pulled out a selection, and passed it to the man, who snatched it and disappeared into a curtained closet at the back of the store. ◊Oh. My. God. The saleswoman turned back to us as though nothing unusual had happened. Bella and I stared at each other in shock. Then, laughter danced in her eyes.

I did my best to block out the noise coming from the closet, which apparently contained a small TV and DVD player to amuse depraved humans.

"So tell me about this prank you intend to play," the proprietress encouraged my mate.

Bella hugged her belly happily. "Edward's parents are in on it. They've ordered us a whole bunch of stuff to turn our bedroom into a dungeon."

The granny quickly covered her surprise. His parents know all about this? Shades of Seymour Butts' family of pornographers! I wouldn't have figured this young man for the type. Well, you just never know, do you? "Ooh. Aren't you lucky! Spanking bench?"


I will definitely be making use of it as soon as we've set up our bedroom.

"St Andrew's Cross?"

"Yep, and a bondage chair, and a whole bunch of floggers and paddles and restraints," Bella shared proudly. Jeez…

"Swing?" the woman wondered.

"What's that?" Bella asked curiously.

"Here, let me show you," the saleswoman offered, taking Bella over to a large box. "It comes with an A-frame, so you don't have to bolt it into the ceiling. They're very durable. This one will support up to 600 pounds, so you can both be suspended at the same time, and it comes with quite nice adjustable harnesses, that should fit you with no problem even when you get really big. There are padded slings, as well, that will help to preserve your circulation."

I didn't think that was going to be a problem for either of us.

"Oh," my mate said, smiling. "What do you think, Mocha-chino?"

"Yeah," I confirmed, running my hand through my hair nervously. I wandered through the shop feigning nonchalance while my wife looked around curiously. There was a lot of unbelievably twisted stuff. ◊Really, humans do such odd things. Who wants a foot up their ass, for Pete's sake!

I shied away from the pornography, as usual, but my eyes nevertheless fell upon a selection of His Golden Eyes shit, because the place was just … wallpapered in porn. My 'aunt' and 'uncle' were on the jackets of several DVDs. Fuck my life. Just fuck it.

Mr Nattily-dressed exited his … chamber, looking chuffed. He set one of the strange blue Canadian five dollar bills on the counter, along with the video, and departed without another word.

"Wonderful," our proprietress replied to me, grabbing the man's video and replacing it in its rack. I hated to think of all the germs that might be on those plastic boxes. I swallowed, trying to get my mind off what the guy was thinking while in the back room. At least he hadn't fantasized about Bella. Had he done so, I would have been hard-pressed not to injure him. Severely.

Returning to her previous spot, the saleswoman leaned closer to Bella. "I have something else that might interest you."

"Oh?" Bella asked curiously.

"Maternity lingerie, brought all the way from Italy."

My ears pricked up, and Mr Ed decided he no longer had to hide.

"Really?" my mate enthused. Our eyes met, and she gave me a private smile. She leaned toward our assistant and murmured in her ear. "He likes soft lace."

"This is the best," the saleswoman said proudly, pulling a packet containing a black lace cat suit out of a basket. She opened it so Bella could finger the stretchy fabric. My fingers itched to touch it.

"Beautiful. I'll take it. Do you have it in any other colours?" Bella wanted to know.


"Awesome. I'll have both. Do you have anything blue?"

"I have a very pretty gown, but it's stretch-silk, not lace." The proprietress pulled a long, royal blue nightgown off a crowded rack. "It has a built-in maternity bra. "When women get into the last trimester, they very often like to support the weight of their chest at night."

"Oh. Yes, that's really mi-" she checked herself, "sexy," Bella decided, adding it to the pile.

Twitch, twitch, twitch. ◊ Minxy, indeed. Down, Ed! Down.

"There's one more that I think would really suit you, but it isn't blue, it's ice green," the happy granny suggested.

"Let's see it," Bella agreed. The saleswoman's hand went directly to an item on the rack, and pulled it free gently.

"It's a baby doll nightie," she said sappily. The lingerie had spaghetti straps and a ruffled bodice with a chiffon skirt that flared out from below the boobs, a matching little chiffon robe, and a ruffled g-string. Mr Ed wept for joy.

Now, if I were to start licking at the left Achilles tendon, and alternated strokes from one leg to the other, I could torture Bella for possibly two minutes and thirty-eight seconds before suckling her clit and-

"Do you have more than one?" I demanded.

He comes out of his shell, the woman thought smugly. "No, I'm sorry, it's the only one. Hand-made."

Damn. I wouldn't be able to tear it off my bride. I pouted a little.

"I have matching ribbon, though, that could be used for your wife's hair, or neck, or put on her shoes. I have sequined dance slippers that would look sweet on her," the saleswoman suggested.

"Yes. Give us three yards, and the slippers," I ordered.

"Yes, sir," she said eagerly, piling all our things up on the counter. "Three metres okay?"

"Sure," I agreed. Metres, not yards. When in Rome…

After retrieving the items, the woman looked at us expectantly. "Anything else? Do you have a collar and leash for your game?"

I felt my nose wrinkle up. "No, not interested." I would never be able to face Jasper again. His willingness to parade around in public on a leash never failed to amaze me. I was not about to join the club.

"Let me ring this all up for you," our assistant smiled, and got to business. I extracted my black credit card from my wallet and put it on the counter, avoiding placing my fingers anywhere near the five dollar bill. Bella picked up my card and gave it back to me.

"This one's on me," she insisted firmly.

"Bella, I-"

"Mocha-chino? You aren't going to deprive me of the chance to use my new credit card, are you?" she coaxed, peeking at me through her lashes.

Sighing, I surrendered. The charges all came out of the same account anyway.

Our assistant was waxing poetic in her head. Apparently, her granddaughter was about to get spoiled rotten. "I've put my business card in your bag, here, dear. Any time you want any advice concerning your prank, please don't hesitate to call or e-mail me," she offered. "I'd really love to know how your game turns out."

"Oh, thank you," Bella beamed. She took out the card and examined it. "Buffy."

I picked up the huge box containing the swing, and carried it to the car, rolling my eyes. ◊Buffy? Seriously? She slayed me, all right. I looked into the car, overflowing with our possessions, and frowned pensively. However was I going to fit the box in?

In the end, I took suitcases out of the trunk and put in the box, then jammed the suitcases into the back seat of the Guardian. Bella joined me, beaming, and added her shopping bags to the contents of the trunk. I shut it carefully while she got in the car. After shutting her door for her, I got behind the wheel and pressed my head against the head-rest, exhaling with relief.

"Hey," Bella said softly, reaching out to stroke my brow. My eyes drifted shut. The stress of the venture into foreign territory began to fade. "Are you okay, Love?"

I swallowed hard. "Yes. I'm… glad we bought…"

"You were joshing so openly about it, all this week, that I didn't think it would bother you so much to go in," she said apologetically.

I squirmed a little, then straightened up in my seat. "I have to get over it sometime."

"I know that woman's a stranger, but you discussed dungeon gear with your parents, for heaven's sake. Why should talking to a stranger who will likely never see us again bother you?"

I thought about it. "I'm not sure. I'm just really tense this afternoon."

Bella watched me carefully, evaluating. After a pause, she asked, "How's your OCD?"

I smoothed my hand over my chest almost unconsciously.

"You need to change your shirt," Bella said sagely.

"Yeah, I've been wearing it for more than thirty-two hours," I fussed. And yet, it hadn't bothered me to wear my clothes for extended periods of time when we were in the Amazon a mere two weeks previous. It had to be because we were surrounded by humans again.

"Change your shirt, Love," Bella encouraged me.

I considered fishing through the baggage for a clean one. "I'll wait for the hotel," I murmured reluctantly.

"Come on, if you unzip the suitcase, I'll pull one out for you," she coaxed.

"I don't have room to get changed in here, and there's no way I'm asking the Sex-emporium Granny to use one of those squicky little rooms," I declared.

"Mocha-chino. You are a guy. You can take off your shirt in public, and put on a new one," Bella pointed out.

"Actually, top-freedom for both genders has been legal in Ontario since 1996," I muttered. "Not that women generally do it, thanks to the perverted mindset of males. Women are too intimidated to take advantage of the law."

Bella looked stunned. "Women are allowed to go topless here?"

"Ye-e-es?" I confirmed, looking at her uncertainly.

"That rocks!" my mate said, whisking off her shirt and sliding out of her bra. I simply stared, dumbstruck, enmeshed in the perverted mindset of males. Had the windows of the Guardian not been tinted black, I would have been wrestling my Thoroughly Modern Millie back into the offending garment. However, nobody but me could see, so I decided to calm down and ogle her in peace.

Bella stretched out in her seat, closing her eyes in bliss. "It's so hot today that it can make even a Hybrid sweat. You have no idea how good this feels." She cupped her breasts and rubbed underneath them, encouraging her scant perspiration to dry, and my mother's heart-shaped diamond glinted in her belly button. Mine. Mine. Mine, her heart informed me.

I shook myself free of her spell, extracted and extrapolated the most important puzzle piece from her actions and words. "You don't mean to say that you intend to get out of this car sans shirt, do you?"

Bella looked at me cheekily. "What would you do if I did?"

The minx knew exactly how I would feel, didn't she?

I endeavoured without success to lift my jaw off the floor of the car. I was highly tempted to give in to instinct and say, 'Like hell you will! Over my undead body!' However, that would be neither gentlemanly nor effective. After taking a couple of deep breaths, I looked warily at my mate. I swallowed venom, deciding to give a patient answer. I never knew how she would react when I got bossy. "I know I'm a dinosaur, Dearest, but the average North American –whether male or female- regards the feminine breast as a sex organ. Should you decide to publicly display your charms to the local sex-obsessed perverts, not keeping in mind that I regard them as exclusively intended for my viewing pleasure, I will be forced to go on the defense."

"Wow," my mate blinked. "Defense, huh? And exactly how do you intend to defend your toys from any member of the local male populace who dares to ogle me, O apex predator?" She circled her nipples with her forefingers, and bit her lip, giving me the come-hither.

Mmm… Wait. No! In public? What?

I checked my shock as I realized that Isabella Masen-Cullen was once again yanking my chain. ◊Game back on, Baby! I growled sub-audibly. "I will be forced to gouge out their eyeballs. And then, I will be forced to destroy the poor bastards, having displayed more than a credible amount of human dexterity for gouging out eyeballs. And after that, I will have to turn you over my knee, and spank the living shit out of you for dicking with me." I paused momentarily. "In fact, you had better be careful what you wish for, because I am definitely going to bind you to that spanking bench as soon as it's unboxed, and have my wicked way with you. You'll be lucky if I untie you in time to make it to midterms."

My mate's face went slack with disbelief, whether over my assertions or my dirty mouth I dared not tell. ◊ Two points to me. Then she looked at me with complete adoration. For once I understood her: I loved it when my mate showcased her territorial instincts. Yeah, jealousy isn't attractive, but it's real. In my opinion, mates who say they never get jealous of their spouse getting attention from somebody else just don't have a deep bond. But my Bella understood my feelings, and reciprocated them. My frost melted, I stopped hyperventilating on the steering wheel, and we sat there just smiling at each other like a couple of sappy dates. Bella's smile gradually faded as her eyes travelled over me in growing concern.

"Take off your shirt, Love," she said gently. "Please."

I mulled it over. "If I do, you must promise not to distract me while I'm driving. The last thing I need is a cop ordering me to roll down the window with both of us half-naked."

"Okay," my mate agreed.

With some difficulty due to the limited space, I pulled off my t-shirt and pitched it into the back, groaning, and had a good stretch. Bella was right. Without the shirt I felt instantly more at ease. My mate reached out and caressed my chest, helping me to relax even more. She pulled my small gold cross straight on its chain, and I thought back to a lazy day spent sunbathing on the bank of the Amazon, and smiled.

"Let's get to the hotel. I promise I'll put my clothes on before we get to the parking attendant," Bella suggested.

"Okay," I agreed, putting the car into gear.

We were quiet for a few minutes, and then I turned south onto Clifton Hill. It was already teeming with people, eager for some fun before the cold weather set in. Bella and I exchanged a sappy look. Things hadn't changed a bit since July. The place was still a zoo. And appealingly tacky. I eyed the Haunted House speculatively, and turned to stare at Bella, who licked her lips and turned pink all over.

Perhaps another visit to that venue was in order. Hah. Hopefully, they hadn't installed any security cameras in our absence.

I turned onto Falls Avenue and our hotel popped into view. "Shirt, please," I told Bella as I pulled up to the parking valet. By the time I rolled down the window she was smoothing her shirt over Ren, who was poking a little foot out for attention. I gave it a little tickle, and my baby kicked me. I would never cease to enjoy that.

If the attendant was surprised to find me shirtless, she hid it well. Not a squicky thought in her head, thank goodness. She directed me to a nearby parking spot, and waited while I got out and presented the car key. I reached into the back, liberated my suitcase, and extracted a clean shirt, to the disappointment of several drooling humans. Once I was decent, I helped my Bella out of the vehicle, and we took a few minutes deciding which items of luggage we needed to take upstairs. Soon, we had our two red roller-cases, our trusty black tote, and our shopping bags. Everything else could remain in the Guardian. I took the suitcases and Bella brought the lighter bags. She looked quite pleased with the hotel.

One of the valets opened the glass door into the expansive lobby. The design was interesting, with the white ceiling sculpted into circular shell-like arches. My spouse and I made our way to the front desk, where the female concierge smiled coolly at us.

"Welcome to the Sheraton on the Falls," she said melodically. "How may I be of service?"

I looked at her name tag. "Thank you, Marian. Reservation for Cullen." I set my credit card down on the desk and rhymed off our confirmation number.

"Thank you, Mr Cullen. Let me see what we have for you," she said politely. Then her eyes dilated in shock. Holy cow, I didn't expect anyone younger than me to take this suite! They must be flush! She covered her reaction smoothly, the consummate professional. "Ah, I see you're in the penthouse. Would you care for someone to take up your bags?"

"I think we can manage, thank you," I said, my eyes drifting to Bella, who, surprisingly, did not appear to be courting my demise for being 'extravagant'. In fact, she looked … hungry. In a good way.

Life just keeps getting better and better.

"Just let me alert the staff, and we'll have everything set up for you in five minutes. If you would care to sit down, I will bring your papers and keys over." She eyed Bella sympathetically, worrying about whether her ankles were swollen. It was refreshing to deal with someone so nice.

"Thank you," I smiled, and escorted my mate to the seating area. The chairs were of a blush-coloured fabric not too different from the colour of the maple accents on the pillars. The only drawback to the light and airy space was the huge plate glass window placed only yards from the chairs. I encouraged Bella to sit as far from the window as possible, and I set down the suitcases and stood behind her, guarding her jealously out of habit.

"Why don't you sit with me?" she encouraged.

"No, thank you," I murmured, eyeing the patch of light warming the carpet one yard in front of us. My bride absorbed my nervousness, and her eyes darkened a little. Then, she blinked, and her right contact lens separated into shards and disintegrated. My face likely betrayed my alarm.

"Ouch," Bella gasped, bringing her fingertips to her eye. I took my old-fashioned handkerchief out of my pants pocket, and pulled down her hand so I could look, hoping that my body blocked the view of the people sitting nearby.

"Let me see, Love," I murmured. The bits of dark lens were drifting about, the small shards melting to bits of sharp grit. The white of Bella's eye was enflamed. Her body was not yet as durable as mine. I used the hanky to whisk bits of glass out of her eye, and she blinked at me. "You okay?" I asked fretfully.

"Yes. It stings a little," she admitted, but her venom-laced tears were already at work repairing the mild damage. She eyed me questioningly, clearly wondering if a lens had disintegrated, as it had never happened to her before.

"Perhaps you should put on your sunglasses until we're upstairs," I suggested smoothly. My mate's face turned momentarily panicky. She extracted her sunglasses from her pocket with a shaky hand, and I took them from her and perched them on her nose.

"Better?" I asked calmly, winking at her.

"Yes, much better," she agreed, swallowing hard.

"Mr and Mrs Cullen?" Marion addressed us, her hands full of paper. "I merely require a signature from you, Mr Cullen, and then Bob will escort you up to your suite."

"Thank you, Marion," I said, signing the note and handing it back. "Lead on, please, Bob."

I couldn't remember ever meeting a 'Bob' who looked less like a 'Bob'. This guy actually looked Nordic. "Yes, sir. If I might take your bags?" he suggested. Please, please a good tip?

I let him put our suitcases on a cart. Then, he reached for Bella's shopping. "I'll take that," I said, interposing myself between Bella and the bellhop. No way was he carrying our toys. I mean, what if he peeked in the bag? Bella smirked at me a bit, despite her little scare with the contacts. I rolled my eyes, and followed Bob, the luggage, and my mate onto the elevator.

"We're going up to the twenty-second floor, Mr and Mrs Cullen," Bob informed us. "There are a few other suites there, and then, once you are inside your great room, you travel up your own set of stairs to your loft bedroom, and private bath."

I eyed Bella sidelong as her brows slowly migrated upward in surprise. I bit back a cackle, wondering how much rope I could throw her before she used it to hang me.

"It's a two-storey suite?" she asked, stunned.

"Surprise," I purred. "Since our last trip here was crashed by a dozen well-meaning friends and relations, and our time here is limited, I thought it would be nice to have a large space all to ourselves." The elevator came smoothly to a halt and pinged open. I held Bella's arm as Bob pulled the clattering cart out. "I'm going to love you on every surface of this room," I told her at vampire pitch, feeling her heart throb.

Pressing a kiss to her neck discreetly, I followed Bob. Our bellhop led us to a door in the center of the hallway. He used my key card, and then handed it to me. Opening the door, he allowed Bella and me to pass within, and I watched her drink in the surroundings while he brought in the baggage. Ever beautiful, my Bella was … radiant with my child inside her.

"Edward," Bella whispered in a tone which I found rather reverent. "This is amazing."

"Thanks, Bob," I said dismissively, holding up a folded bill in my hand. He took it, thanking me profusely, and bowed himself out. I moved instantly out of the shadows to join my mate.

"You aren't mad?" I checked, sliding off her sunglasses to examine her eyes. I pulled her into the light from the window to have a better look.

"No," she said, blinking in surprise.

"Thank God," I sighed in relief, cupping her cheeks and kissing her forehead affectionately. "You'd better take the other contact out. It's getting really thin."

"Okay," Bella agreed, casting about for the main floor lavatory. It appeared to be to the far left of the room. Bella hurried inside while I sniffed around. Practically the entire exterior wall was made of glass. The floors and walls were styled in pale beige, allowing light to permeate most of the space. We would have to be very careful not to give ourselves away. Bella was still not accustomed to sparkling. I had best remind her.

"Baby? This place is full of light," I called. "Remember to be careful if any humans come in."

" 'Kay," she called back.

Outside the washroom was a kitchenette with maple cabinets and a dark granite counter, a round glass table with two club chairs, and a bar sink. Beside the table, which bore a squat round vase containing live honeysuckle and daisies, was a small stand sporting an ice bucket of chilled champagne and two crystal flutes. Mercifully, the beverage had not been opened. I would have disliked wasting it.

The flowers were appreciated, however. Honeysuckle: bonds of love; generous and warm affection. Daisies: innocence, loyalty; I'll never tell; love that conquers all. Mmm

Opposite the front door was a sitting room with the ubiquitous hotel-burgundy sofa bed and chairs, a cherry door chest bearing a large television, a large gas fireplace, and a step-out balcony. To the right of that was a small, neatly appointed office space. To my far right were the stairs to the loft.

I picked up our suitcases and whisked them upstairs, where I found a high king bed with burgundy covers and white sheets, jam-packed with crisp white pillows. The bed faced the floor-to-ceiling window, which looked out on both sets of falls. Stunning. I set our suitcases on the racks and turned on the Bose radio beside the bed, dialling into a classical music station. On the matching bedside tables were identical vases teeming with white lilac (first love, humility and confidence), and an envelope full of vouchers and coupons. I set them down for future reference, and continued to explore. To my right was the master bath. I opened the doors, and was surprised to find a privacy-enclosed cubicle bearing a commode and sink. Past the water closet was another door. I opened it.

Wow: within stood a huge, creamy-white, two-person Jacuzzi, a partially enclosed glass shower stall, a towel cupboard, and a stainless steel and glass vanity. And a wall of glass showcasing the Falls. ◊Holy crow, what a view.

Seven hundred and eighty square feet of living space on two separate floors… all for the two of us. What a lovely respite from the busy and possibly stressful days ahead. Friday night at the Falls means fireworks in the park. I thought we'd go down, but if it suits Bella, perhaps we'll stay up here. The view will be perfect and we won't have to combat the crowds.

Impulsively, I plugged the tub and opened the large tap. Steaming hot water coursed into the Jacuzzi, the scent tickling my nose. I stripped off my clothes, pitching them on the floor, placed my cross on the vanity, and popped back into the bedroom to retrieve my toiletry kit. I started to get in the tub, but decided to shower off the day's grime first, not wanting to pollute the bathwater. Humming happily, I wet my head and reached for our shampoo.

"Mocha-chino?" Bella called from below.

"Upstairs," I called back, lathering my head and feeling rosemary-scented foam trickle down my shoulders. Heavenly. And then, even more heavenly, my mate's hands crept around my middle to fondle my abs. Her naked front pressed up against my back, and I felt my lips tip up in a smile. "We won't fit in here soon, Minx," I teased.

"Shut up," she chuckled. "No dissing the pregnant lady. Man, I thought for a minute, there, that you'd left me. This place is huge." Reaching around me, she ran my bar of sandalwood soap over my chest, making me purr with satisfaction.

"Your nose is better than that, Preggie Pear," I growled, watching my cock stiffen while water beaded on the glass wall. "You should be able to find me by scent. If you can't, we ought to practice."

"Yeah, I smell this," she said, palming my dick from behind. "How's your nose?" she asked, obviously joshing with me. I scented the air, frowned, and turned to her, cocking a brow. Bella's hair was tied up in a high ponytail. She obviously had … intentions. Pregnancy hormones: How great was that! I detected lubricant and silicone, a tantalizing combination when my mate was involved.

"You're in quite the predatory mood today," I purred, hot water streaming down my front. Smiling up at me flirtatiously, Bella produced, like a magician, the new bottle of Boy Butter H2O and a stripe-y, conical red and white toy with an o-shaped handle. It did not smell new, it smelled like Bella. It was larger than the ones my sister had sent us in the Amazon, but not ridiculously so. My girl was full of surprises.

"Put it in me," she husked, biting her lip nervously. "I want you to train me."

Gulping venom, I caressed Bella's shoulders as she turned her back, and knelt to kiss a trail down to her tailbone. I … must really be a perv to want this. But Bella seems to want to... and back on the honeymoon she showed me that video… and it's not unsanitary, it's just another erogenous zone. I knew what to do. I had unintentionally eavesdropped on the daydreams of my male kinfolk enough times. Okay, I can do this. My mate spread her legs for me and waited while I lubed up a finger. Buffy was right. It was good lube.

"Relax," I breathed, massaging Bella with my fingers. I stroked her gently, and gradually inserted the tip of one finger, finding little resistance. "Bear down a bit," I encouraged her gently. As she did, I pushed in, and suddenly the resistance to which I was accustomed simply disappeared. My mate moaned gutturally, leaning her upper body against the condensation-coated enclosure. I was, to put it mildly, surprised.

"Have you been… practicing?" I asked calmly, stretching her first sphincter. Bella instantly turned pink all over. Grr-wow.

"Um, I know back at Ruby Beach you said you'd claimed my anal virginity, but that was only with a toy." Her voice sounded strained. I gentled my strokes. "I want you to … c-claim my ass with that big cock, preferably before Emmett's around to tease us."

I stopped dead. ◊Did she seriously say what I think she just said? "Bella?"

"Uh, huh?"

"Did you memorize what you wanted to say so you could spit it out? Because it sounded kind of…" I winced, "contrived."

My mate turned red all over. "Do you have any idea how hard it was to say that at all?" she asked tightly.

"Sorry. I didn't mean to embarrass you."

"It's okay. So will you?" she pressed.

We had discussed it before. We had agreed not to try until after Bella was a full vampire. "You're pregnant," I said flatly, repressing my unseemly desire.

"Edward," she winced, "what if …"

I reclaimed my hand, and we sat together on the tiles. "What is it, Bella? You can tell me."

Bella bit her lip. "Don't be mad."

"Okay," I agreed, feeling worry surge up my body like water to drown in.

Bella looked afraid. I didn't like it. "Alice told me in confidence that when Jasper worked for Maria, he took various Newborns' … v-virginity. And their hymens grew back. The females had to be… burned if they wanted-"

I stopped her, and pinched my eyes shut. I had Heard the story. I didn't think that would happen with anal, but what if… "I get it."

"So can we try? Just try?" she pleaded. Déjà vu.

"Okay," I said, while my traitorous dick came to life again.

"Awesome," she beamed, pulling me back onto my knees and assuming the position. I retrieved the lube and went back to stretching her, feeling conflicted.

"The girls highly recommend butt sex."

Who had brought up sex with her this time? I stilled my hand, and managed to verbalize, "Girls?"

Bella cleared her throat and turned the colour of Rosalie's car. I waited for her answer, wondering how much longer she would blush red for me. Either she would eventually blush silver, or my female relatives would educate her out of blushing at all.

"Um, A-Alice."

Naturally. Titch and Jazz had doubtless tried just about everything monogamously possible. Hey, no, wait. Jazz was still occasionally mulling over how to bring up this very subject with his mate. He was terrified to hurt her. I could relate to that. "Alice and Jazz have never, um, gone all the way with this," I told Bella.

"She said the day is coming. He's not as indecisive as he used to be," she informed me nonchalantly. "But in this case, we are outperforming all your sibs. Rose hasn't been brave enough to try it either."

I had to feel a little smug about that. So sue me. Eighty-six years is a long time to be alone, and seventy years is a long time to be teased. "You said 'girls', not 'girl'." I inserted another finger, stretching my bride. Her body did not resist the intrusion at all. I admitted to myself that it was hawt.

"Tanya, Irina, Kate, Carmen, Esme," Bella continued. I froze. "Lauren, Jessica, and of course Renée."

"Holy crow. I'm sorry I asked," I deadpanned, slipping my fingers out. Bella whined in protest and shoved her backside at me needily. Mr Ed really liked that. If a single water droplet touched him, he was probably going to splatter jism all over the tiles. But was this a sick perversion? I questioned the rightness of what I was doing, and decided as usual that I was a dinosaur. My modern-thinking spouse really had no chance of keeping any innocent vanilla ideas, with all the liberated females surrounding her. And she was unbelievably stubborn. More stubborn than me. Was it wrong to find that encouraging?

At least I could honestly say it wasn't me who opened her eyes to certain possibilities. Placing my hands gently on her hips, I urged Bella onto her knees, then I picked up her toy and lubricated it, watching a line of pre-cum leak from my cock and collect on the tiles.

"Let me know if there's any pain, and I'll stop," I reassured my mate, pressing gently on her back to bend her part-way over. Carefully, I pressed the toy against Bella's opening, and to my thorough surprise, after her muscles relinquished their initial resistance, the plug slipped right in. Bella moaned loudly, her jaw going slack. I grasped the ring firmly and gave it a gentle twist. My mate made a brand new sound that went straight to my groin.

"You're pressing on my gee!" she gasped, legs quivering.

I tapped the toy slightly while she treated my fascinated ears to a whole bunch of new sounds. I was thoroughly absorbed, hearing only Bella, and the relaxing burble of running water…

Running water! Oops!

"Sorry, s'cuse me!" I yelped, panicking, and virtually leapfrogged over my mate. I did a pratfall on the wet tiles, and crawled to the Jacuzzi on all-fours, slipping and sliding all the way. The steaming water within it surged over the lip of the tub and spilled onto the floor. Hurriedly, I turned off the tap and threw a bath sheet down in the wet with a thwack, then sprawled out on my back with an amused groan.

"My bad," Bella and I said in unison. She turned off the shower and stepped over to me gingerly, walking extremely oddly, and I realized she still had the red and white plug inserted in her ass. She slipped on the wet tiles and I caught her before she could do her precious bum or her precious uterus serious damage by landing on one or the other. My breath went out of me in a huff as she fell, head-first onto my diaphragm.

Bella raised a brow, peering at me through wet hair and narrowed eyes that were positioned dangerously close to mine. "Made you say 'woof'."

So she wasn't hurt. I raised one back, amused. " 'Bow wow… wanna be your dog'," I sang. Reaching over her, I grasped the plug and twisted it, and Bella's eyes rolled all the way back in her head.

"A-woo," my girl fake-howled, splaying her fingers in my chest hair. "Sing it to me, Iggy!"

Any prospect I had of over-thinking the experience evaporated. I started to giggle, while continuing to pump rubber into Bella, who only made me giddier by continuing to make ridiculous dog noises.

"Yap, yap, yap!" She sounded like an insane chihuahua. "Pant pant woof arf arf ARF!"

"You are a nut," I giggled, gently flipping her onto her back and hovering over her, and she stuck out her tongue, panting, then licked all the way up my face.

"Doggy style," she growled, nose to nose with me. Whatever happened to my Lamb? Who was I kidding? She was never a lamb.

"Isabella Marie!" I squeaked. She pressed her lips against my earlobe, moaning, and bit me lightly. A happy growl thrummed in my chest, and I pressed wet kisses to the skin of her throat.

Yeah, vampires just love licking.

"I want you to do it," she husked, reaching over our heads to grab something on the vanity.


She held up a condom. A translucent red condom in a foil and plastic packet. We had never, ever used a condom. I must have looked perplexed because my Bella bit her lip and flushed scarlet.

"I want…" she said, lashes fluttering. "Just in case. For your OCD."

Bella Cullen is a total minx, and she doesn't even know it.

"Bella, we really don't-" I began softly.

"Please," she cut me off. "Please? It will make me feel… better."

I leaned on my arm and stroked her hair. "I don't want you to be worried about that. It's terribly unlikely that-"

She reached up plaintively and stroked my head. "I don't want your OCD to bother you. Please. I'll feel insecure if you don't."

I spent a few minutes considering, and decided that I should probably listen to Bella. "Okay," I agreed mildly, and she smiled in palpable relief. "Not in here, though. On the bed." As I rose slowly from the tiles, my mate jumped up in a flash, and skipped out of the room, spraying me with water droplets from her wet ponytail. The abandoned butt plug waggled in circles on the floor. I stilled it, scooped it up and dropped it in the sink. Nabbing a towel, I ran it quickly over my body, wiped my hands, and exited the bathroom carrying the condom and the lube. Oh, the sight that met my eyes!

Bella was head-down-ass-up on the bed, with a pile of fat cushions under her, waiting for me. I couldn't help feeling a little amused, for it looked like I ought to be painting a big, red lipstick target on her backside or something, and then delivering a hearty spanking. Hmm… hold that thought...

I fingered the packet hesitantly, hoping to make the emotional tone playful. Then I gave her bum a pat, followed by a little smack. "Slow your roll, Trouble! First, we need to stick a couple of towels under you. Second, if you want me to wear this thing, you're… g-going to have to help me figure out how to put it on."

Bella sat back on her heels, turned around, and gawped at me. "Surely you know how to put it on."

I shrugged and stared at it. "Theoretically, I know what to do, but I've never … used one."

"Not even for curiosity? Not to stow your jizz in when you jerked off?" she gaped.

I rolled my eyes. "With Emmett around? Please, Minx. That is why God invented Mr Kleenex and tube socks." As hoped, I got my girl to laugh.

"Perv!" my Bella squealed, pitching a throw cushion at me. I punched it and it bounced back at her, so that she had to alligator-catch it between her hands to prevent it from hitting her in the face.

"Takes one to know one," I sing-songed back, dropping to a fingers-and-toes-plank on the floor. "And you catch like a girl!"

Bella drew herself up haughtily, not deigning to chase me, dammit. "Thank you, Spiderman. I am a girl, so I'll take that as a compliment. Now, if you plan to allude to baseball, you be the pitcher and I'll catch. Second inning later."

I sat back on my butt, and gave up on the idea of a playful chase. Bella was obviously not going to be patient for games. My minx crawled over and used my thigh to balance herself as she transferred her weight from her knees to her backside. She scooted closer and took the condom from me, reaching out to run a finger up the length of my shaft.

"Hi, Mr Ed," she cooed. "You're going to be very fashionably dressed today, see? This is a nice shiny raincoat just for you."

"Do you realize there are actual companies out there manufacturing little costumes for penises?" I said archly. "Only the other day Em showed me one: a little tuxedo just like the one James Bond wore in 'Casino Royale'."

"Oh, golly. I need bleach," my mate asserted, stroking my dick. She bent her head to nuzzle and taste, and Mr Ed let his appreciation show.

"Seems like a waste of finite resources to me," I admitted, stroking Bella's hair, "seeing as such a costume would probably only be worn long enough for the laughing spouse to greet the proud member. Hey, I wonder if that means they're saying Bond is a dick," I mused. Bella gave a particularly hard suck, making me forget about everything but her mouth on me. I leaned back on my hands a little and lapped up the attention.

After a few minutes, Bella stopped lavishing affection on Mr Ed and sat up, frowning at the little foil packet. She stuck a corner of it between her very white teeth, and tugged it gently with her hands. There was a ripping noise, and suddenly she was holding half a packet and half a condom. The other half of the packet was still between her teeth, and the other half of the condom had fallen onto her inner thigh. She looked at the carnage, devastated, and laughter bubbled up out of me.

"Yuk it up, Brat! I'm in this condition because of you," she pouted, crawling over to her suitcase, from which she extracted a handful of colourful packets, which she flung at me. "Can't even open a condom with these stupid fingers," she muttered, wiping Nonoxenol 9 off her face with a grimace.

"That's right, because of me, you have a Condition," I crowed, brushing the packets off my person and making a little pile of them on the floor. "Just like Agnes Gooch from 'Mame'!" There were ten condoms. Bella's hopes were either impossibly high for this evening, or she didn't have much faith left in our ability to apply a raincoat to Mr Ed.

Bella squatted, and I helped her to sit down again. Baby Ren was beginning to get difficult to manage. I bit my lips to hold back my laughter, and Bella tickled my inner thigh, making me fall over with a yelp. She crawled up my front, growling. "Don't say another word."

"Yes Ma'am," I said with false sobriety.

"That's two words. Now shut up."

I nodded, eyes wide, and struggled not to laugh.

Bella crawled down my front and lollipop-licked my dick, and my eyes rolled back in my head a little. Then, she picked up another foil packet –blue this time- and nipped it just hard enough that she could open it with her strong fingers.

"Good job, Sweet-" I began, but the praise was short-lived, because the minute Bella tried to unroll the prophylactic, she poked a hole clean through it. I kept a firm hold on my amusement, hiding my eyes lest she see it. She looked so disappointed and I didn't want to hurt her feelings.

"May I?" I asked, picking out another red one. My mate nodded. I put the packet between my teeth and nipped it, tugging it with my fingers. Yuck. It tasted so … metallic. Chemical. But I had a useable condom in my hand. Schwing! Bella and I peered at the inoffensive but slimy red object.

"Which way does it unroll?" she murmured pensively.

"Let's see," I answered. I smoothed the condom over Mr Ed's head, and it stopped rolling and refused to go any further. "Upside down," I muttered.

"Yeah, yeah, that's upside down. Try it the other way," Bella urged me. I peeled the silky condom up gently and flipped it, then put it carefully on my tip and rolled it on. It promptly split from the top down. I snorted loudly.

"Where did you get these?" I grinned, pulling it off with a snap.

"They're some of the ones the gang threw at us back in July," Bella said, peeking at me sheepishly.

"They're probably from that Parent Ed debacle we suffered through Junior Year," I chuckled. "Probably useless. Oh, well. Gimme another one, we'll try again."

"Third time's the charm," Bella declared.

I managed to extract the next condom from its packet without breaking it. This one was grape-purple, with a reservoir tip. I inspected it and set it on Mr Ed like a ridiculous elf hat, pinched the end and rolled it down. Bella stroked it with her fingers, extending it further.

"One size really does fit all, like Coach Clapp claimed," she said thoughtfully. "But maybe we should double-bag it."

I picked up another red one and let Bella open it. She handed it to me triumphantly, and I squished it on over the first one.

"Geez, this may be the only time Mr Ed is a normal human colour," I joshed.

"How did you do that without ripping them?" Bella demanded, staring at me like I was Criss Angel.

"I've been touching your skin for two years, Dear Heart," I reminded her.

"Surely I wasn't that breakable," she frowned. "Those things feel like melting cling wrap. They're almost cobwebby."

"You weren't that fragile," I murmured. "I just … touched you as though you were." I met Bella's ruby eyes, which were now sober.

"I'm not fragile anymore," she reminded me gently.

"No," I breathed, running my finger up my swollen cock. "But I could still hurt you. We still have to be careful."

Bella shrugged nonchalantly. "How does it feel?" she wondered, gesturing at me. I stroked myself gingerly a couple of times.

"Um, different. Human males seem to get frustrated with them. They say it diminishes their sensitivity and they lose enjoyment. But in my case that could be kind of good, seeing as Mr Ed throws up at the drop of a hat. Maybe it will slow me down. And my skin still feels …p-plenty sensitive," I said, peeking at her shyly.

"Come on, let's try it," my Bella murmured, getting up, and scooting into the bathroom for towels.

I got up slowly, feeling self-conscious, while my wife returned and arranged herself again on the bed. Ass-up, head-down, elbows to her sides. I picked up the lube and approached, trying to sort out my emotions. Yes, I desired her this way. In fact, the position she had assumed spoke very strongly to my Dom tendencies, but was it right to put my Bella in such a submissive pose, even if she offered it? Was it demeaning, as many people claimed? And what if I hurt her? What if I hurt the baby? I bit my lip fretfully, and Mr Ed started to deflate like a reddish-purple balloon.

"Edward," my mate said firmly into the mattress. "You promised me you would try this. And I want it. Everybody was determined to tell me that this is mainstream. Now don't overthink it. I want to hear you enjoying it when you're inside me."

I wondered as usual, when exactly she got so good at reading my mind. Letting my breath out silently, I reached out with both hands and stroked my Bella's backside. She squirmed madly, squealing, "Don't tickle!"

"Sorry," I murmured, ironing her glutes with my palms.

"Like my ass, Mr Cullen?" she teased, pushing it at me.

"I was just thinking about spanking it," I drawled, kneading her flesh.

"Ooh, ja!" my Bella said like a bad porn queen from Amsterdam, waggling it at me. Obviously I had allowed her to spend too much time around Emmett. Obviously, I had been spending too much time around him, too. How else would I know about Amsterdam?

"Minx," I laughed.

"Why aren't you in me? I demand to be dominated," my mate said. I paused, processing.

"Are you ordering me to dominate you?" I asked in surprise. Wasn't that rather… oxymoronic?

"Do you have a problem with that?" she growled.

"Nope," I answered. "Nary a one." It was simply out of character. Opening the Boy Butter, I squirted a generous dollop onto my fingers, and recommenced massaging my mate's … ahem. "Are you okay in this position, Love? How are your knees?"

"I've slept a lot, and I feel well-rested. You have very talented fingers. Hurry up."

"You've tightened up," I revealed. "You don't need to hold yourself up high for me. Just relax so your muscles don't get rigid."

"I'm getting female blue balls," Bella whined.

"Ssh," I breathed, coasting my hands over her skin and adjusting the position of her hips a bit. I slid in my thumb and pressed it firmly against the side of her sphincter, pulling it open in a downward arc. My mate whimpered a little as I traced out the circle of her flesh, rubbing… rubbing…

"I want you. Now!" my impulsive girl demanded. I kissed her softly between the shoulder blades, speaking against her warm skin.

"Patience, Bella. Don't rush this. If I were ever to hurt you-"

"You will never!" she began hotly, then stilled, and reached back to grasp my hand, turning guilt-laden eyes upon me. "I'm sorry, Love. You're right. I'll … slow down."

I bent to kiss her fingers. "Thank you for understanding. We're going to try, now, but you must let me know if there's any pain. Don't you dare to prevaricate. I want to… be able to do this again."

Bella got up and looked at me warily. "Why wouldn't we do it again? I'm expecting it to hurt. But it will be okay next time."

Sighing, I sat beside her on the bed, and drew her to straddle me on my lap, feeling a little uncomfortable. And not because the lubricant was getting all over us. I still found it hard to talk about such things, especially if I had to do it with a naked Bella and a hard-on. Still, back at Ruby Beach, she had definitely appreciated it when I opened my mouth and told her exactly what I was thinking. I also had to admit that if we were going to pull off our prank, we couldn't appear nervous or introverted. Em and Rose would know right away that we were yanking their chains. Since I really, really wanted revenge on them for all the TMI they had boastfully thrown at me over the years, it behoved me to get past my hang-ups. Besides, I owed it to Bella to be honest with her. Therefore, I did my best to keep from hiding my eyes. "It's not the same," I informed her.

"Hm?" she asked innocently, twining her hands behind my neck.

"Um, it's a different kind of sphincter than the one in your vagina. Two sphincters, actually. It's not like I'm breaking your hymen, Bella." I swallowed nervously. "They can tighten every time. And I understand that it's almost like the muscles have a memory. Basically, if I hurt you, you might never open for me again. There are a lot of men out there who are furious with their mates, who are genuinely and justifiably terrified to be touched … there… again. And it was the males' fault in the first place for being selfish, inconsiderate and ignorant. If a guy wants it, he ought to learn how to do it the right way first."

I swallowed my nerves. It was always like pulling my own teeth out to tell Bella that I'd learned things: things that invaded the privacy of others, from Hearing. I was always afraid of rejection, even though my wife usually found my unintentional eavesdropping funny. I ran my left hand through my hair, frustrated with my outdated Victorian ideas, and yet I couldn't get past feeling shy. "I can't tell you how many times I've Heard a male demand a second chance, usually saying 'Oh come on, just bear down, you're gonna like it once I'm in', and the poor female gives in to please him, he ruts like a disgusting animal, and she almost feels emotionally like she's allowing her beloved mate to rape her. I couldn't bear that with you, Bella. I love you too much, and your … pleasure is my priority."

Bella's eyes welled with tears. "How did I get to deserve you?"

I looked down softly, and caressed my mate's stomach. Ren's home had to be a half-inch bigger today. "I think you have that backwards."

"Kiss me," Bella murmured, and I drew her against me, kissed her softly, and then with increasing ardour as her scent deepened and saturated the air. Her hands captured my cock, squeezing hard, but without question she was striving not to liberate me from the double-condom. My hands were everywhere, attempting in vain to memorize her changing curves, so different from the human Bella I had first touched. I had recently begun to notice that her skin was more responsive than it used to be, even if it was harder to make her blush. My supposition was that whatever venom my daughter's tiny body was providing was enhancing Bella's nerve endings. And every bit of my Bella seemed to be vibrating with want at present.

"Can we do it in this position?" she wondered between kisses.

"Um, I … think I'd best be able to see what I'm doing," I said hesitantly, drawing back. Clambering off my lap, she climbed back onto her knees and waited on all fours, her straight, stiff back betraying some nervousness despite her assertion of readiness.

"Put your head down, Love," I murmured, pressing gently between her shoulder blades. Bella systematically relaxed her limbs, releasing her breath in a big sigh. I checked her back door again for tension, and decided she was as ready as she could be. Applying a ton of lubricant, I lined my tip up with her entrance, holding the condom onto the base of my cock, and gave a gentle nudge. So tight. So, so tight. This is how I expected her vagina to be on our wedding night, but it was just as well she had done away with her hymen on her own, seeing as she was still 99% human at the time we consummated our bond. The constricted feeling was surprisingly arousing. I drew back and gave another little push, and Bella hummed languidly in her throat. I drew out and nudged in again.

"How is it?" I checked, my voice strained.

"Um… once your head is in, it's okay, but when your… corona passes over my … entrance it kind of… pulls," Bella said, teeth gritted.

I patted her gently on the back, and resolved to stay inside her, even if it was alluring to watch myself enter her. "You need to tell me. Promise." Perhaps steady pressure would be a better way to claim her. "Bear down for me a little."


I felt her push against my dick, so tight and strong. I used the smallest possible amount of my strength to push forward.

"More lube."

"Okay," I promised, spilling some on my dick and rubbing it around her tender flesh. "All right now?"

"Mm. Better."

"Okay, Sweetheart, you're doing great." I gave a couple of light thrusts, watching my cock sit deeper in her ass. "Just relax, now, there you go." Pushing past her inner sphincter, I buried it as deeply as I could, and then stilled my motion, waiting for her go-ahead. I pulled a breath in through my teeth, grinding them together. Keeping back the predator. My legs quivered in the effort not to push Bella down and pound into her like an animal. I had to stay civilized.

Bella released a guttural purr, and her body went limp, dampened with perspiration.

"You okay?" To my consternation, my dick twitched. I did not wish to hurt her, and there was no way to suppress involuntary movement. I felt the wild part of my nature seek to dominate. I pushed it back. There was no way I was going to be able to 'let go' in the way which my mate wanted.

"Yeah," she grunted. "Move."

Despite my resolve to be ultra-careful, a pleased, possessive growl thrummed in my chest. I took hold of Bella's hips, drawing back slowly and pushing in. "Oh, God! You're so tight," I gasped. I moved again, circling my hips, and she purred in response. I watched my latex-covered shaft slide in and out of her tight hole, the skin around her entrance gripping me, and very flushed with throbbing blood. I could feel her pulse in my throat, even though the bitter liquid in her veins no longer teased it.

"Ohhhhh," my Bella moaned, her head drifting from side to side. "More, Edward, more. I don't want you to hold back. Fuck my ass. Hard."

I increased my tempo to deliver about thirty percent of my strength, biting my lip to hold back my punishing power. I was certain that I could not thrust in the way we both wanted without doing irreparable damage, Hybrid or no.

"More!" Bella demanded loudly. "I want more!"

I blew out my breath and gave it to her, using perhaps fifty percent of my strength, aware that even a normal, human couple or an evenly matched mated pair of vampires could hurt each other this way if they weren't careful. I watched my insatiable cock plunge in and out of my mate, tugging on the flexible skin at her entrance, sleek and glistening and mine.

"Dammit, Edward! Fuck me!" Bella wailed. "I want to hear you. I want it all!" She reached back for my hand and squeezed it with crushing power. It felt shockingly good, but I didn't need her to damage me unwittingly. And that's when it came to me that she didn't really want me to be rough. What she wanted was for me to dominate her, and I could do that without being rough at all. Snarling a warning, I captured her hands in one of mine, pulled them over her head, and held them there. Supporting myself with my left hand and my feet, I kept my weight off her body, careful not to hurt.

"Yes!" she yelled triumphantly. "Yes! Fuck me! Fuck meeeee!"

"Unnnghrrrrr!" I snarled, and the venom in my cells hummed to electrified life. I placed my right hand over the left, over both of hers, and rolled my hips in ecstasy, seating my cock as deeply as inhumanly possible. Beneath me, Bella writhed and clenched, letting go a stream of garbled words and sounds that spoke directly to the Dom in me. It was euphoria and grit, animal and transcendent. It was like nothing we had ever experienced together. It was vampire sex without the violence. Bella's sounds became garbled and interspersed with whimpers, and my own vocalizations turned percussive:








"More, please!"

Mine mine mine…

"Oh, s'hawt fuck me shit makesomenoise! Mo-hmm grr-yeah! Cum for me lemme hear lemme feel your hot cum spurt you're so- mine mine mine!" my Bella sang to my soul. Her muscular synapses fired around me, and I knew she was close. Relishing my power over her, I withdrew from Bella's body at vampire speed, acknowledging her needy protest, and ripped off the condoms. Then, I sat on the bed and pulled my mate onto my lap, facing the window. Purring and needy, I buried myself in her hot pussy up to my hilt, and rested my lips against her salty-skin-jugular, my hands cradling her swollen tits. Our personal heat sizzled between us. Bella turned her sweaty head to rest against my temple, and I caressed my way down her firm rounded stomach to find her nub and stroke it just the way she liked. I rocked my mate, purring possessively, and reveled in her taste and scent and the beat of her heart, never forgetting how wondrous and fragile and changeable life could be.

"Huh-huh-huh-huh," my Bella panted, her breath sweet and hot against my face.

"Cum with me, Bella," I exhorted, cradling her against me. I increased the speed of my fingers, pinching to either side of her clit until she threw back her head against my shoulder and gave forth a guttural growl. Pressing my palm against her forehead, I slowed my pace, feeling her muscles clench erratically around me. And then my balls tightened and crying her name I soared euphorically, sending jism deep into my mate's secret places. I felt it spurt into her again and again, until my entire soul seemed to have poured out its sonnets into her body.

We breathed together, staring out at the untamed green waterfalls and the bright blue sky, until my Bella pressed a kiss to my temple and sighed.

I lay her down, still encased in her. We were quiet. Satisfied. And then my Bella yawned, and I drew us under the covers and held her tight.

"Happy?" I wanted to know. I always wanted to know.

"Yes, so happy," she said, eyelids fluttering, and she yawned again. "Are you… happy?"

"Yes. Sleep, my Bella."

She did. She slept for many hours, with me curled around her. The baby slept too, lulled by our rocking. Bella gripped my arm fiercely. She wouldn't have let me move, even if I had wanted to, which I didn't. I was very much aware that her days of sleeping were numbered. I only woke her a few minutes before ten pm, knowing that the coming noise would frighten her if I left her sleeping.

"Bella, angel?"

"Mmph. The purple one," she said with perfect clarity, which meant she was still dreaming.

Oh, my Bella! I was about to get a treat. I leaned on my elbow and nuzzled her ear. "What purple one, Dearest?"

"The purple one. Kill it for me. It's really very annoying, you know."

"What is?" I asked eagerly.

"You know," she frowned adorably in her sleep, sticking out very red lips and making a sucking noise.

"No, I don't. Please please tell me?"

My mate sighed a long-suffering sigh. "The purple whatsis. You know, the one Renesmee likes far too much. Whatsis whosis name… um… Barney."

"Barney, the purple dinosaur?" I asked, beaming in delight.

"Yes. Yummy purple blood."

"You want me to kill Barney, Dearest?" I rested my face gently on Bella's arm, feeling positively giddy. Shame I didn't know where Bella had put the camera. Nobody was ever going to believe this conversation, except perhaps Alice.

"Kill. Barney," my mate growled, opening one eyeball to glare at me. Then, she blinked and frowned at me pensively. "Why're you smiling so… big, Ed-rd?"

I felt my grin widen. "You wanted me to go and slay Barney. Don't you remember?"

"Shuddup," she said crossly.

"Renesmee would be sad," I teased.

"Ed-rd!" Bella huffed, blinking sleepily and throwing her arm up onto her pillow.

"Emmett would be sadder," I frowned, shaking my head.

"Oh, golly," Bella sighed. "Great. I thought it was bad enough, having to watch Elmo with him. Is there any reason in particular you woke me up?" She yawned hugely.

"Fireworks in five," I informed her. "I thought the noise might frighten you."

Bella sat up and stretched, the sheet whispered and fell, and the moonlight coming in through the wall of glass set her diamond belly button ring to glinting. "Don't want to find me clinging to this ceiling, huh?"

I bit back a silly grin. "Not that clinging to the ceiling isn't adorable, but I don't think the hotel staff would be terribly impressed if we put holes up there."

"Mm," she said, smiling at the thought. "Probably not. I'm rather surprised you don't want to go down to the fireworks for old time's sake."

"We have a private balcony for private viewing," I said, arching my eyebrows flirtatiously.

"Oh, yeah. I know exactly what privates you want to view, you brat," my mate said, scrambling up. She hurried to the glass wall and put both hands on it, peering down at the landscape below. "This place is awesome." I admired her figure profoundly in the moonlight. One could tell she was pregnant when looking at her back, now. "The cops are setting up the barriers now, to keep the crowds from getting too close."

"Yeah, it's nice not to have to deal with that," I said, stretching like a well-satisfied tomcat. The last time we went, they had moved back the crowds three times, interrupting our snogging.

A screaming white firework went off, and Bella jumped despite my forewarning. I got out of bed and pressed my lips to her shoulder, then slid my hand down her arm to take her hand.

"Come. I'm dying to see this from the balcony," I coaxed her. Eyes aglow, Bella slipped out of my grasp and swung her legs carefully over the wall of the loft. She slid into air, and coasted down to the bottom level as lightly as a fairy princess. I leaned my arms on the partition, feeling my lips creep up in a crooked smile, as she beamed up at me.

"Graceful, Minx, but you could have used the stairs," I purred.

"Where's the fun in that, Mocha-chino? Now get that delicious ass down here. Jump! I want to see the view," she grinned.

I sighed with fake irritation, grinning said ass off, and vaulted lightly over the wall, landing silently twenty feet below.

"Grr-wow, Mocha-chino," she winked.

A huge heart-shaped firework bathed us in red light, its boom rattling the glass. I strode to the sliding glass door and opened it, sticking my head outside to peek around.

Our balcony was totally isolated. The suites on the twenty-second floor were recessed from our walls, and there were no windows anywhere that would afford a view of the penthouse. Nobody could possibly see us unless they were standing in the park with a telephoto lens. And I was personally willing to take the risk of going outside naked. I didn't think it likely that humans would pay any attention to a hotel while fireworks were going off in the opposite direction.

"Edward, are you crazy?" Bella hissed, hurrying up behind me. "What if we get caught?"

"Who's going to notice us?" I shrugged. "Come on, we haven't been naked to watch fireworks before, and I miss walking around naked. Not like that's going to be possible in Hanover, Minx. There will be too many people around. Nobody's going to see us up here." I admired a white fiery flower with scintillating gold twinkles. "Look! What a stunning display…"

"It's a stunning display all right," Bella smirked, smacking my ass.

"Not me, that," I said, gesturing at it and rolling my eyes.

"Next thing you know, he'll be wanting to go to a nude resort," Bella muttered, rolling her eyes.

"Not bloody likely," I snorted, drawing my mate in front of me and enfolding her in my arms. A great purple fireball exploded in front of us, seeming so close that it almost felt like we were being drawn into it. "Ah!" we both sighed, smiling like a pair of sappy dates.

There were fireworks that fizzed, and shot off in all directions, and ones designed to look like lips and hearts, great colourful balls of light, and ones that cascaded like waterfalls themselves. And then, making us jump, came one that we fondly used to call a cherry bomb back in the day. Bright white, it sent a shockwave of sound straight at us which bounced off the glass wall behind us, thrummed through our bodies, and reverberated into the night. Bella and I slapped our hands over our sensitive ears, and laughed at ourselves.

"Man, that's deafening," Bella said, her voice muted because my ears were covered. We laughed again as more cherry bombs made us cringe.


I pricked up my ears uncertainly. No, it had not come from the park, or from anyone nearby. The voice was much too quiet, and much too small.

Another volley of gorgeous, lavish fireworks, marking the beginning of the finale, began their assault. The entire sky was painted with dancing light. Gorgeous.


I looked around, bewildered, unable to fully divert my attention from the dancing lights in the sky.

Daddy Mommy Tigger! This was followed by a mental scream of anguished terror.

My face went slack with disbelief, as I pulled a surprised Bella around to face me and fell to my knees, gasping. I put my hand on my wife's bare abdomen, feeling my tiny baby thrash around madly, and rested my head against it. "You're okay, Tigger. Don't be scared," I said soothingly. "Daddy's here now."

The last fireworks popped, leaving Bella, Renesmee, and me in comforting blackness.