Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight. I own a heart bursting with love for all of you.
This is it, dearies. I won't keep you. Notes at the bottom.
"Let it Be" by The Beatles
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo Ole'
Chapter 20 - Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Somewhere over the rainbow
Blue birds fly
And the dreams that you dreamed of
Dreams really do come true
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" - Israel Kamakawiwo Ole'
"So what is there to eat in Alaska?"
Bella drops the buck to the ground and wipes her mouth. It's strange seeing her with clothes on, but she refused my invitation to hunt naked. I told her if anyone saw her, they'd be too worried about surviving to notice her nudity, but she wouldn't hear it. I can't complain. I've had her nude and in our bed (and in the shower and on the stairs) for three days. A few hours with her body hidden behind that irritating fabric won't kill me.
"It's similar to what we have here. More moose. Plus bears. I think you'll really like those."
"Do you think we'll be leaving soon?" she asks.
I know Carlisle and Bella discussed making the move once she completed Jasper's training, but I'm not sure how she feels about such a big change. She just got used to the Forks house. I'd hate for her to feel out of place again. If I'm honest, I don't want anything to disrupt the delicate balance we've established. I'm terrified of tipping her over the edge—away from me.
"Do you want to wait?"
"No, I guess not. There's really no reason to."
"No. No buts. I want to go. I know everyone will be happy to return to their lives."
I'm not convinced.
"I'm sure it isn't."
She looks across the forest as though there's something precious in their dark green depths.
"I know I can't see him, but I like being close to my dad," she says at last. "Just knowing he's out there, a few miles away, makes me feel connected somehow."
Of course. Why didn't I think of that? It must be hard for her to imagine leaving him.
"We can stay here, Bella. You and me. I know I don't have Jasper's experience with newborns, but I could help you gain control around humans."
"Oh, you lovely man, no. I don't want to take you away from your family. Our family. Saying goodbye to Charlie is just another step. It will hurt, but I know I have to do it."
She takes my hand in hers, leading us back to the house with ease. Suddenly, the balance I've tried so desperately to maintain doesn't feel quite as precarious after all.
"Oh God, Bella."
Edward's eyes roll back; he won't last much longer. He's trying to hold still under me, but every now and then his hips rise to meet mine. A low grunt accompanies each erratic thrust, and I smile.
He wants me to come first. It's become an obsession for him, so I try to oblige, grinding against his pelvic bone as my hands grasp the headboard for leverage.
I love coming with him, but I don't feel that same imperative to make it happen every single time. My body craves the connection, certainly, but it doesn't necessarily demand the release. If we were keeping track over the past week, my orgasms would far outpace his, anyway. In fact, knowing Edward, he probably is keeping track.
He holds my hips tightly as I make figure-eights against him. With a gentle nudge, he shifts the angle of my pelvis, moving a hand to where we're joined. My panting breath comes a little faster as his thumb circles my sensitive nub.
"Ah. Ah. Ah."
"Let go, love."
I close my eyes to focus on the amazing feeling, electric flashes flying behind my lids. I increase the tempo and revel in the sensation of him filling me on the inside while his clever fingers play me on the outside. There's heat coiling in my belly, drawing lower and lower, a pulsing flame teasing me with its promise. My former nonchalance is burned away by desire—suddenly, I want to come.
Fuck, do I want to come!
Edward can't help but thrust into me now, and as his movement becomes more frantic, I feel that heat draw inward, focusing. It's building in intensity as my panting cries fly into the air.
"Yes, yes, so close," I whimper, and Edward's thumb works faster in response. The fire blazes out of control, consuming me whole, and I cry my release, wooden headboard splintering in my hands.
Edward pumps into me hard and fast, and he falls over the edge with his own strangled groan. I can feel him pulsing inside as I collapse against his chest, all melted limbs and shuddering sighs. We ignore the shards of wood dusting our bodies as our mingled breaths slowly calm.
After a long while, he murmurs, "See? Wasn't that better than 'lovely'?"
He's never going to let me live that down, and he's never going to stop trying to make up for our first time. I will have to suffer an eternity of him bringing me to orgasm every time we make love.
What a horrible fate.
I smile to myself, knowing what a lucky girl I am. Still, I have to tease him a bit.
"You say it like it's a bad word."
"It's an adequate word. I want you to feel more than pleased. Content. Fine."
I rock my hips and kiss him deeply and long.
"Well then, you have achieved your goal. Because I certainly feel better than 'adequate' right now. I feel downright blissful."
"Is that so?"
"Mm-hmm," I mumble against his chest. "I feel euphoric. Rapturous. Ecstatic."
His grin is wide and wicked as he flips us over, keeping himself inside me as he does. I see where his mind is heading and smirk. The eager puppy has altered his routine somewhat, but he's still always aching to please.
An electronic ping on the other side of the room halts us. Grumbling, Edward releases me from his embrace and retrieves his phone from a shredded pair of pants littering the floor. He reads the message as I feel a sinking in the pit of my stomach.
There's only one thing it can say. I'm not surprised, because I know what's coming, but I'm not quite ready for it, either.
"Alice. They'll be home by sunset."
And that's it. Our perfect week of solitude ends not with a whimper or a bang, but a text.
As much as spending the rest of our day in bed together sounds wonderful, I feel an urge to get out of the house. I'm tired of the walls. I want the open air. I want sunlight.
I stand up and rummage around my drawers for a scrap of clothing that hasn't been stained by blood or destroyed by Edward's enthusiastic pawing. There's surprisingly little left.
"What are you doing?"
Edward slides behind me, trying to distract me with wandering hands. I pick out a pair of panties as he cups my breasts.
"Looking for something to wear. Ugh. I'm going to have to do some shopping."
Thank goodness for the Internet. Even before my change, it's how I got most of my clothes; now it's an imperative, not just a preference, to stay away from the hordes at the mall.
Edward nibbles on my shoulder, mumbling between kisses.
"Why on earth would you want clothes right now?"
I manage to keep my focus—just barely—and choose an outfit I haven't worn since I was human. It makes me smile thinking about the last time I had it on. My first date with Edward. Renee had bought the brown skirt and off-white peasant blouse for me. At the time, I had told her I would never wear it, but she insisted the day would come when I would want to feel a like a girl, and then I'd be thankful it was in my closet. She was right.
"I want to go outside."
"Are you thirsty?"
"No. I just need to get out."
"Bella. Look at me." He tugs on my shoulder, gently spinning me. "I thought you were feeling better about the family."
He looks worried, and I want nothing more than to ease his fears.
"It's not that. I'm looking forward to seeing them. I just . . . I don't know. I want to keep what we have here private." I'm not sure I understand it myself. I only know I don't want my time with Edward mixed up with Emmett's teasing, Alice's knowing looks, or even Carlisle's polite silence. "If they walk in the house while we're making love, they'll own a little piece of us, and I don't want that. I want it to be ours."
There's love shining in his eyes, but under that, trepidation.
"You know that's what it's like for our kind, don't you? We'll hardly ever be alone if we live with them. I mean, you've seen the rest of the family in action. Even as discreet as Esme and Carlisle are, they know better than to expect absolute privacy."
"No, I know that. And yeah, I'm sure it's going to take some getting used to. I'm just talking about this week—what we've had here. This has been the best week of my life. I want to box it up and keep it safe, you know?"
He brushes his lips against mine, then thinks better of it and gives me a proper kiss. I have a hard time standing as he pulls away—thankfully, his arms are there to catch me.
"Of course, my love." He dips his head, working his way down my body with scorching kisses until he's on his knees and I'm gripping the dresser behind me for support. His breath is warm against my belly, and I shudder at the carnal look he's giving me. "But they won't be here for hours. Surely, we have time to make a few more memories for the box?"
Then his tongue is doing things my mind can't process, and my box is happy to take any memories he's willing to give.
We do eventually pull ourselves away from the bedroom. Edward runs behind me as we make our way up the mountain to the meadow. I suspect the fact that I've forgone panties has something to do with his choice to follow, but I don't comment.
I feel autumn's approach as I break through the trees—the bite in the air, the mulchy smell overtaking the sweet. Most of the flowers are bent and weary, their blossoms bruised and shriveled. It makes me sad to think I won't be here to see them bloom again next year. It could be decades before it's safe for us to return. With a sinking realization, I suddenly understand we'll probably have to wait until everyone we know in Forks is dead.
Edward palms my hips as I take in the scene. I feel sick.
He says nothing.
"I knew it would change eventually, but I thought we had more time."
I might find some comfort in the idea that everything changes, but that's not entirely true, is it? The world keeps moving around me while I stand still, frozen in time. Everyone I know will grow old and die while I remain the same—etched in stone.
A stream of sunlight breaks through the clouds, bouncing rainbow shards off my skin. It's undeniably beautiful, but it makes me feel cold. Remote.
Diamonds can't feel.
Golden sunlight streaks across the floor, highlighting the spilled coffee grounds I'm going to have to sweep up later today. I don't mind. Edward will be here with me, so the task doesn't seem nearly as odious as it used to.
"When's your birthday?" my vampire suitor asks from across the counter.
He's hovering in a shady spot near the bar, like he does anytime things in the shop are slow. Other times, he can be found at one of the tables with a full cup of coffee, pretending to read while shooting surreptitious glances my way. Angela and Spencer tease him relentlessly, but he pays them no mind. He doesn't care if they think he has no life outside of me.
"September. Why?" I don't like where this conversation is going.
"When in September?"
I don't answer, so Edward calls to Angela, who's busy restocking the milk station.
"Angela, when is Bella's birthday?"
"Traitor," I mutter, but she just smiles in response.
Aside from the fact that I hate getting presents, there's something about turning a year older that has me feeling nervous. I've never minded my birthday before, but twenty feels a lot older to me now than it did just a few months ago. It doesn't take a great cognitive leap to know exactly why that is. The seventeen-year-old frame of the man standing in front of me pretty much says it all.
"Now you know. Can we drop it?"
"You know I don't want anything, right?" I'm the one who told him to drop it, but I can't seem to shut up about it myself. "You shouldn't start planning some big surprise or anything."
"Wouldn't think of it," he says in a way that tells me he absolutely would think of it—is, in fact, thinking of it right now.
"I'm serious. Just act like it's any other day."
"It's more than a month away, Bella. No need to worry yourself about this now."
"I'm not worried, because you're going to ignore it."
The humor is gone from his eyes. Edward leans across the counter and takes my hand.
"Why are you so intent on pretending your birthday doesn't exist?"
"Why do you think, Edward?" There's an edge in my whisper, and I pull my hand away.
Is he really that dense? Every day I get older feels like a tiny step away from him. Surely, he understands that. I know I have at least a couple more years before the age difference becomes obvious; a decade if we push it. Much longer than that and people will start asking if I'm his mother.
Assuming he sticks around that long.
"I think the day you were born deserves celebration."
The way he says it is so sweet, there's no way I can respond with the venom I'm feeling, so I turn to mop up a non-existent spill on the opposite counter.
I hate how my time with Edward is so often tempered by pain. He wants me. I want him. Why can't that be enough? Why dwell on the day he no longer finds me desirable? Why waste time imagining how empty my life will be without him?
I wipe the moisture from the corner of my eyes and take a deep breath. I can't do this now. I can't fall apart here.
Anyway, Edward is right. It's nothing I have to worry about right now.
I turn and plaster a smile on my face. Edward shines the full wattage of his own lopsided grin on me, and my breath lodges in my throat.
I want to ask him to tell me what I'm thinking, but I can't seem to get the words out.
Shards of sunlight bounce across my vision and I look down, expecting to see my skin reflecting the rays. Instead, Edward's arms have wrapped me in their embrace, and it's our shared light that's shining all around.
"I never seem to get it right, do I?"
"What's that, love?"
I turn in his arms, hoping he understands how much he means to me in this moment. How much he will always mean to me.
"When I was human, I wished for eternity with you. When I was turned, all I wanted was to go back. I've been so stupid."
"I am certain you have never been stupid a single moment of your life."
"You're very kind."
"I love you."
He takes a moment to process that, looking at me. Really looking.
I smile at what might otherwise be a cocky retort. In this case, it's Edward's way of accepting my unspoken apology. I feel the weight of his remaining worry lift, see that he really believes me. He knows I'm not going anywhere.
"I'm so, so glad I have forever with you," I say as I lace my hands into his hair.
"It still won't be nearly long enough."
Our kiss is a healing balm on my heart. Oh, how I hope it's the same for him.
When we pull away at last, Edward takes my hands in his. He brushes the pad of his thumb against his mother's ring—my ring—and says, "You know how much I love you, don't you?"
"I do, Edward. Head and heart. I really do."
I am blissful-bright. I am rockets in July. I am awash in the light of a thousand suns. Edward's light. Edward's love.
We make love in what is now our meadow; it's not the first time, nor will it be the last. Still, it's a farewell of sorts, and as we watch the sun make its slow progress behind the mountains, I feel ready to take on whatever comes next. With Edward by my side.
A/N: I apologize in advance for how long the following is... Maybe grab a coke or cup of coffee now, if you want to read it. ;)
At just over 108,000 words, Shelter is the largest thing I've written and one of the most massive projects I've ever undertaken. I'm so proud to have finished it. I am notorious for starting things—sewing projects, home-improvements, screenplays, and exercise regimens—that I never complete. So even with all its flaws, bringing this to a close feels better to me than you can possibly imagine.
I started writing Shelter in November of last year, hoping to claw my way out of a 10-year writing dry spell. I was inspired by all of the amazing works of fanfiction I had just discovered (many of which have been featured in my recommendations), and I wanted to see if I could create a story that made me laugh, cry, and feel in the way so many of them did.
What was completely surprising was how many friends I discovered along the way. The first of those were darcysmom and Marlena516, the two lovely ladies who agreed to be my betas so early into the process. They held my hand, encouraged me, laughed at my jokes, told me when I went to fast or too far, and of course, corrected those damn commas! Perhaps the best thing they did was drag me, kicking and screaming, onto Twitter, where I have found the most amazing community of Twilight-obsessed weirdos ever!
One of those weirdos (I mean that in the best possible sense!) was AmeliaJBedelia, who was a huge cheerleader for Shelter and rather relentless in her pursuit of inside dirt. It payed off (for me, at least) because she agreed to by my pre-reader when I hit a huge crossroads in the story. This story would not have been the same without you ladies—seriously, I can imagine the pitchforks aimed at me if I didn't adjust things the way I did—and I owe you so much thanks!
There are too many people on twitter who have read, reviewed, and squeed over each chapter to ever name them all. You are snarky, funny, awesome people, and I love you. Lately, two peeps in particular have really helped by joining me for frequent writing sessions, so to dreaminginnorweigen (my sister from another mister) and IReenH, THANK YOU! I love you ladies and am in awe of your brilliance.
Finally, the biggest thanks goes out to all of you, my readers! You pushed me to work hard late into the night and early in the morning, you gave me encouragement when I thought surely everyone would think this was a hot mess, you helped me become a better listener, and in turn, a better writer. Thank you for sticking with this story. Thank you for your feedback. Thank you for your love.
I'm not done with the Twilight fandom yet, but I don't have any plans for another multi-chapter story. I have a novel waiting eagerly for me to return to, so I think I'll give that my attention for a while. In the mean time, I am taking the SmutU class with Project Team Beta this summer, so put me on alert if you want to check out those steamy one shots once a week. And I may come back for a future take or two on Shelter, but I need a little breather before that happens.
I hope you liked my story. I'm very happy sending these two off into the sunset. I don't like goodbyes, so I'll just say, "See you soon!"