Disclaimer:

All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Stephenie Meyer owns anything and everything relating to Twilight and its characters. No copyright infringement is intended.

The original aspects of this story—all of the original characters, plot, names, nicknames are all the property of the author—eternally addicted. Unauthorized use of such material is plagiarism. In simple terms—it's theft. I am in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise mentioned in this story. No reproduction, downloading, copying, reposting, or any other kind of redistribution of this story or its contents is permitted without my express written authorization.


Thanks to My-Bella and Hope4More for all their help and encouragement. And a special thanks to Moltz, one of my readers over on TWCS, for her great idea that I used in this chapter.


October 6, 2011

{Bella}

"I'm Lexi Carrington and that's the news and weather for this evening. Now let me hand the reigns over to special topics correspondent, Misti Holtz, for tonight's segment of Baltimore's Best," came the news anchor's voice as it carried across the room from the television speakers.

Edward, all of his family, myself, along with Al, Emmett and Skylar, sat scattered across the various pieces of furniture that filled Tyler Cullen's media room as we waited for the special piece about Edward and me to air. The only person missing from the room was Tyler himself. He had agreed to a live interview after the segment about us was aired.

After Edward and I had made no headway with my mother in regards to the pictures of us, Tyler and the lead members of his campaign advisers had come up with a plan to head off any attempts for the pictures to be used in a negative way.

Their idea had been tell the story of how we'd met. It would be presented to the public as a star-crossed lovers type of love story.

"Good evening, everyone." Misti's smiling face greeted us and the rest of the city from the television screen. "For months now we've all been listening closely as two of Baltimore's finest have battled to win our votes in the upcoming election. Everyone is very much aware of the two men, their views on all the important matters plaguing our city, and the very fine line the two of them have drawn over their differences in their race to be the next mayor of Baltimore.

"But what most of you don't know is how two young lovers, one from each of these families, have crossed the political boundaries and found true love. Is this young couple doomed to a fate such as Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet or will their love have what it takes to stand the test of time? We'll give you their story when we return and let you decide."

When the reporter's smiling face reappeared on the screen after the commercial break, she eagerly began telling our story, beginning with our time in the Dominican Republic this past summer. As she relayed the details Edward and I had given her during our private interview yesterday, the story was enhanced with clips from the interview, a few photos we had personally selected, and the most innocent of the pictures Tyler's team had gotten from James Sullivan.

At the end of the piece, they went to another commercial break and when they returned, the show was again shooting live with the reporter now sitting in a mock living room across from Tyler. We all sat there glued to the screen.

"Don't worry. Tyler won't let them slam us in any way or answer any question that gets too personal," Edward assured me.

I nodded as he slipped his hand from mine and slid his arm around me, holding me closer to him. He kissed the top on my head and then refocused his attention on the TV.

"Welcome back, everyone. Now joining us we have none other than Tyler Cullen himself.

"Mr. Cullen, I'm sure you can guess that after hearing the story we've just shared, all of Baltimore must be wondering right now how you feel about your nephew being involved with your adversary's daughter. Would you care to enlighten us on that?"

"Certainly, Misti," he replied with a smile I was quickly learning was a trademark of all the Cullen men. "My family and I adore Bella. She's already won the heart of my nephew and is quickly winning all of ours as well."

"So it doesn't bother you that Charles Swan is her father?"

"No. Why would it?" he answered. "Just because her father and I are in a heated battle to be the next mayor of our city, doesn't mean that she and my nephew have to be on opposite sides as well. The Swan family is one with a long standing history here, just as generations of the Cullen family have called Baltimore home. Just because we may have different opinions politically, doesn't mean that either of us is a better person or has a better family. This isn't the Hatfields and the McCoys. We'd never ostracize Bella based on what her last name is, who her family is, or what they may have done."

"That's a pretty amazing view of things you have there, Mr. Cullen," Misti commented.

"Well, Misti, to put it in simple terms, Bella is her own person, with her own track record, her own goals and aspirations. She is only responsible for her own actions and those are the things she should be judged on, not what those around her have done," Tyler insisted.

"See," Edward whispered in my ear. His warm breath tickled my neck and sent a warm prickling feeling shooting down my spine. "I told you there was nothing to worry about."

"Okay so you were right. What do you want? A prize?" I teased.

"Yes. I'll collect on it later." He gave me a quick kiss and when he pulled away he had a sarcastic smirk on his face, but his eyes were smoldering and the heat from his gaze warmed my entire body.

So why was I shivering?

Instead of trying to decode the way my body reacted to Edward, I returned my attention to the TV.

"What an amazing outlook you have on what surely could be a sore spot for both sides, Mr. Cullen," the reporter responded.

"Just being honest, Misti," Tyler replied, showing her just a hint of that Cullen charm that Edward was constantly making me swoon from.

"Well we certainly appreciate your honesty. But tell me, are Miss Swan's parents as understanding about her relationship as you and your family seem to be?"

"Again, being completely honest, I can't speak for how they feel. What I can say is that with the election right around the corner, our focus needs to be on the election and our constituents, not a young romance."

Misti nodded her head in agreement before she made her next comment. "I can certainly understand that, Mr. Cullen. Is there anything you wish to add before we end our discussion? Anything else that you'd like for us to know about these seemingly star-crossed lovers?"

Tyler had a contemplative look on his face. It was clear he was choosing what he'd say next very carefully. After a few seconds, he cleared his throat and began. "I would just like to add that my family and I appreciate the concern and curiosity my nephew's relationship with Miss Swan has caused. It's why I agreed to this interview in the first place. We certainly didn't want any false rumors or speculations to be spread.

"Our purpose for my being here today was that by answering your questions and giving you a bit of information and background history on their relationship, you'd see it for what it truly is—two young people in love, who have come together because of their similar goals in life. We hope that it erases any worries or misguided thoughts anyone might have had."

Tyler paused for a second, picking up the glass of water on the table situated between the two small sofas on the news set.

"We also hope that it allows these two young people the privacy and space they deserve. They aren't the ones running for office. They both have promising futures as a doctor and a nurse. They should be focused on their studies rather than if they are being followed by some hotshot reporter with a camera watching their every move."

"Very well put, Mr. Cullen," the reporter stated sincerely before turning her attention to the camera.

"In closing I'd like to thank Mayoral Candidate Tyler Cullen for taking time out of his busy schedule to join us today." She paused and held out her hand for Tyler to shake.

"You're welcome, Misti. It was my pleasure," he returned along with the smile he shared with his nephew in full force as he shook her hand.

"I'd also like to mention quickly before we go, that we have reached out to Mr. Swan's camp for his thoughts on the matter. However we have yet to receive any response from him or any of his representatives.

"That's it for tonight's segment, folks. Thank you for tuning in today and don't forget to join us again next Thursday for another episode of Baltimore's Best, where we'll take a look at some of the lessor known best places to dine. I'm Misti Holtz saying good night and reminding you kindness is contagious."

October 21, 2011

*{Esme}*

"Oh, it looks like Edward's home," I said to my mother-in-law as I pulled the car into the garage of my condo. "He can help carry in our bags."

Babs and me had spent the afternoon mostly window shopping in the mall before we hit the grocery store. Carlisle and Edward had both loved the meatloaf she'd made the other night and when she offered to share her secret recipe with me, I didn't hesitate to take her up on it.

I'd never gotten much of a chance to really get to know my mother-in-law before due to the strained relationship between Carlisle and his father. Though I was sad about the circumstances that were allowing me to finally do so, I was thrilled to be spending time with her now.

It was easy to see what a remarkable woman she was, as well as how caring and protective of her family she was. She had a huge heart and the love she had for her family was tremendous.

"He's an amazing young man, Esme. You and Carlisle have done a wonderful job raising him." She rubbed my shoulder and turned to face the window.

We hadn't really talked at all about Carlisle's estrangement from his family. I didn't want to bring up something I knew was a sore subject with the matriarch of the Cullen family.

After removing the keys from the car's ignition, I looked over at her and could see the reflection of the wistful look on her face as she stared out the car window. Her eyes were full of sadness and regrets.

Babs' chest rose and fell slowly as she took a long breath and released it. Her face remained looking in the opposite direction as she spoke to me. "I'm so sorry I missed out on so much with him, with you. The only thing bigger than Bart's heart was his stubborn streak. Even once he'd realized how wrong his actions towards Carlisle had been, he was too stubborn to make amends." She sighed before clearing her throat softly and turning towards me.

I reached out and gently grasped her hand, holding it securely in mine after giving it a squeeze that was just firm enough it let her know I understood. "Let's not focus on the past," I requested. "There's nothing we can do to change it now. We're here now and I know Carlisle is happy to have you back in his life." Reaching up I caressed her arm, trying to convey my understanding of the situation and my affection for her.

She nodded. "You're right, dear. I just want to make sure you know I wished things had been different."

"I do. And so does your son," I assured her.

I knew for a fact Carlisle had never blamed his mother for the things his father had done.

"I'm glad. I love both my boys the same." She smiled widely at the mention of her sons. I had no doubt she was proud of the men they had both become. "Now," she said squeezing my hand just as I had hers. "How about I show you the secret of my meatloaf recipe. I hope you aren't too disappointed when you see how silly it really is."

She gave me a warm smile as she grabbed the door handle, but I could still see a hint of the pain she was dealing with lingering in her eyes. I couldn't imagine how hard it must be for her to still be coping with the loss of her husband. I knew I'd be devastated beyond anything I could even try to comprehend if I ever lost Carlisle.

Because I had done my grocery shopping for the entire next week there were still several bags remaining in the car once Babs and I had grabbed what we could.

"Edward?" I called as we neared the top of the stairs just in case he'd left with someone else. "You home?"

"Yeah," he returned.

I heard the sounds of more than one chair scraping across the floor after his reply, and figured Bella was probably here with him.

The two of them were nearly inseparable these days. They had been spending more time here at the condo lately instead of her dorm room due to the pesky reporters that had refused to leave them alone after their story had aired a couple of weeks ago. However neither Carlisle nor I minded having them around. We loved Bella as if she was our own daughter and seeing the love they shared growing stronger reminded me of when Carlisle and I had been dating. I was certain she'd be an official member of this family one day.

The two of them were just a few steps away as we reached the top step.

"Here let me take those for you," he said holding his hand out to take the bags from me.

I handed them to him and noticed Bella doing the same for Babs, setting them on the kitchen counter.

"Would the two of you mind getting the rest out of the car? Your grandma is going to show me how to make her meatloaf. If you play your cards right I might let you have some for dinner," I winked at him as I teased him with the bribe, knowing full well he'd have done it anyways.

"I will if he won't." Bella offered. "He's told me all about that meatloaf.

She smiled at me before sticking her tongue out at Edward. He promptly returned the gesture.

I smiled at their silliness.

"Sure, Mom," he said giving me a peck on the cheek. He grabbed Bella's hand and tugged her along with him.

I shook my head and chuckled at the lost puppy love look he had every time his eyes landed on her. Of course she was just as bad off as he was.

I turned around to the counter behind me and began putting away the items in the bags we'd already carried up.

"What's this?" Babs asked, pointing to the stack of books and papers the kids had scattered about the other side of the counter that served as a breakfast bar.

"Homework I imagine. Why?"

"Well forgive me for seeming nosy, and I could be wrong, it has been quite a while since either of my boys has gone to college, but these look like some sort of financial aid papers to me."

I placed the can in my hand in the cabinet and moved over to where she was sitting at the counter and took a look for myself at the papers she was referring to.

I sighed in frustration when I saw she was indeed right.

"I would love to give that woman a piece of my mind," I said, the irritation evident in my voice.

"Who, dear?" she questioned.

"Bella's moth—the woman who gave birth to Bella," I retorted, refusing to call that woman a mother. She was nowhere near being worthy of the title.

Confusion spread across Babs' face. "Are you telling—"

She paused when she heard Edward and Bella coming up the stairs.

"One more trip and that's it," Bella said, sitting the bags in her hands down.

"How are you, sweetheart?" I asked and hugged her tightly.

"I'm good," she replied with a soft smile. However I could see something was bothering her and I was willing to bet it was the stack of papers lying on my counter.

"I can get the rest of the groceries on my own. Why don't you move our stuff to my room," Edward suggested to Bella as she started to follow him back down the stairs.

"Okay," I heard her tell him as I caught him giving her a quick kiss out of the corner of my eye.

I continued putting the food away as I waited for Edward to bring up the rest of the groceries and for him and Bella to both be out of earshot in his room.

"Now I where was I?" Babs inquired, not wasting any time in getting back to our conversation.

"We were discussing Bella's mother or lack of."

"Please explain to me why her parents aren't paying for her education?"

"That's only the half of it, Babs."

I pulled a bottle of water from the fridge and offered her one too, which she immediately took. As I twisted the cap off of mine, I wished it was Renee Swan's neck I was twisting.

"Well we have time, so fill me in," she ordered, getting up and coming around to my side of the counter to begin my cooking lesson.

I spent the next several minutes filling my mother-in-law in on everything I knew about what had happened between Bella and her mother. Babs hadn't said much, but I could tell she was upset and had something weighing on her mind. However I didn't press her to tell me, figuring she'd tell me if and when she was ready for me to know.

That time came right as I closed the door to the oven after safely placing the pan full of meatloaf inside it.

"I wouldn't be wrong in assuming my son has told you how none of the Cullen men have ever fallen in love more than once, would I? How once they find the girl they love she's the one they spend the rest of their lives with?" Babs asked while wiping her hands off on a towel after washing them in the sink.

"No. You wouldn't be wrong at all," I confirmed. I had a feeling I knew where she was going with the topic she'd chosen, but I wasn't sure what her point was, so I asked. "Why?"

"Surely you realize that Bella will one day be a Cullen officially."

I smiled widely at her, remembering Carlisle telling me about the so-called "curse of the Cullen men", and also how I'd had the same thought about Bella earlier tonight.

Returning my smile, Babs continued, "I see the depth of love in Edward's eyes every time he looks at her. It's the same way Bart always looked at me all those years ago. The same way Tyler looked at Beth, and I'm sure it was the same way Carlisle looked at you."

"You're right, he did. I recognized the look on my son's face months ago. In fact, it was practically instant with them. And she returns it in equal measure too," I assured her.

"She does. That's what makes me so certain of what needs to be done."

"What do you mean?" I stopped loading the dishwasher and turned to face her.

"That girl," she said with conviction while raising her hand and pointing in the direction of Edward's room. "That sweet wonderful child should not have to suffer because of her parents' ridiculous beliefs and shortcomings."

"I agree completely. Carlisle and I have talked about offering to help her."

"That will never work. She'll never take a penny from either of you if you offer, which makes her all the more deserving in my opinion. She expects nothing of those she loves except to be loved in return, but gives everything."

Babs was right. But it still didn't explain what she wanted to do about the situation.

"Are you busy Monday morning, Esme?" she asked with a mischievous gleam in her eyes for the first time since I'd known her. It reminded me of Carlisle when he was up to no good.

"No. I'm volunteering at the hospital that afternoon, but my morning is free."

"Would you mind taking me to pay a visit to the school?"

"No, not at all," I replied. "Babs, are you going to do wh—"

"Yes," she answered cutting me off. "I am going to pay her tuition. And before you tell me she's not going to like it, I am well aware of that. But…" she paused raising her finger in the air telling me she had more to say. "She's going to have to accept that being in a family such as ours means learning to accept help when it's needed. She'll be given the only stipulation that Rosalie and Jasper were given, in order for me to continuing paying for it until she graduates."

"What's that?" I asked.

"She has to keep her grades up and find a worthy cause to volunteer some time to helping."

"I'm sure it won't be a problem for her," I supplied.

"Neither do I," she admitted. "And don't you worry about her getting too upset. She may be at first, but if she's as much like someone I know was at her age, she'll be just fine.

I had suspected Babs was referring to herself when she was younger and when I saw the sly smirk on her face, I was certain.

And I agreed with her completely.

October 27, 2011

*{Bella}*

"This movie is so sad," Rose said to Al. "Remind me again why we're watching it, why you're so into it?"

"Because it's so romantic. An epic love story," Al replied softly, keeping her eyes trained on the TV and only barely paying attention to Rose.

Rose shook her head and grabbed the bowl of popcorn off the coffee table in front of her.

I snickered at the two of them. They'd been bantering like this from the moment Al had put the disc into the player. I'd only been halfway paying attention to the movie and had been playing a game on my iPhone while we waited for the guys to get here.

"It's your house, you could pull rank on her and put in a different movie," I suggested playfully.

"Nah, the boat is going to sink soon, it'll be over before you know it." She popped a few pieces of her snack into her mouth and stared at me for a minute like I had a giant zit on my nose.

"What?" I asked.

"You're unusually quiet tonight. That was the most you've said in the last hour. Something wrong? The media attention getting to you?"

"Eh, kinda," I said, with a shrug of my shoulder.

"I think she's nervous," Al chimed in.

"About what? You got a big test coming up or something? Is it the election next week?" Rose asked glancing back and forth between the two of us.

"No. It's nothing," I said.

"Edward's taking her to your family's cabin for the weekend. They're leaving right after school tomorrow."

"Alice," I hissed when Rose's head spun so fast it was a wonder she didn't give herself whiplash.

"Oooh. Now I get it. A weekend alone, doing the deed with my cousin," Rose quipped, leaning over and giving me a teasing shove with a shit-eating grin on her face. "Shit, I might have to drag Emmett up there sometime. I can't believe I didn't think of that."

I instantly felt the heat of my blush engulf my face.

"Bet you'd like that too," Rose said, giving Al a nudge. Al's only response was a wide grin before her eyes landed on me and took on an apologetic look.

Rose followed her gaze. Seeing my face still slightly red she asked, "What am I missing here? What's with the nerves? It's not like it'll be different from any other time you guys have fooled around."

I kept my eyes glued to my phone screen and tried to pretend I hadn't heard her. It wasn't like I knew anything was going to happen between Edward and I this weekend anyways. In fact I hadn't even considered it until Al had mentioned it last night when she'd confessed that she and Jasper had gone all the way.

But now I couldn't stop thinking about it. Things had progressed between Edward and I further than I'd expected them to after our morning talk a few weeks ago. Lately we'd been spending a lot of time alone at his house with the unwanted media attention we'd been getting since our story had come out. Once our homework was done, it seemed making out and touching each other had become our favorite way to pass time. The first time, Edward had been really hesitant, but now that we'd moved things along, neither of us could keep our hands to ourselves.

I closed my eyes for a second fighting the sensations my memories of him bringing me to orgasm the first time with his hands stirred in me.

"Unless…" Rose's voice brought me out of my thoughts. "Unless you guys haven't had sex yet," she added.

Despite my best efforts to not give myself away, I did, which only egged her on.

"Ok, spill," she ordered. "My cousin isn't a monk, so surely you've done…something."

She looked at me with her perfectly manicured left eyebrow quirked as she waited for me to reply.

"We've…done…some stuff," I mumbled out.

"I don't want details," Rose claimed. "But when you say stuff, can you be a little more specific? Like first base, second. You know, something like that."

It took me a minute to actually remember what the base analogies stood for. It had been a while since I'd heard that phrase.

"Uh..third, I think," I told her. My cheeks felt like they were going to be permanently stained red at this point.

It wasn't that I was embarrassed about what Edward and I had done or that I had any regrets. I loved him, he loved me and everything we'd done had felt natural between us.

"So you've done everything but had actual intercourse, right?" Rose asked.

"Yeah, something like that."

"Hey," Rose said, leaning over and patting my leg. "I'm not trying to embarrass you. If you don't want to talk about this, it's cool. But if you need some advice or whatever, I'm here. Just think of me as the big sister you never had. Okay?"

"Okay. And I'm not embarrassed. I'm just not used to talking about this…sorta thing."

"I get it. Really I do."

"Thanks, Rose."

"No problem. Besides my cousin looks at you like you're his sun and his moon. That man is so gaga over you he'd rip the damn moon out of the sky for you if he could. Babs says the Cullen curse has struck again."

She laughed and went on, "I'm sure if you're not ready for the next step he'll wait as long as you need. I know some guys might tell ya it's okay to wait, but yet they still pressure you in other ways to go further, but that's not Edward. If he said he'd wait, he meant it."

I only vaguely heard what she'd said. All my mind could think about was this thing called a Cullen curse she'd mentioned.

"What's the Cullen Curse?" Al asked, beating me to it.

"Jasper hasn't told you about it?" Rose asked Al, sounding surprised.

"No," Al replied.

"What about you?" she asked me.

"No, Jasper hasn't told me about it either." I smiled widely at her. I couldn't help it, being sarcastic just came naturally sometimes.

"Smartass," she shot back at me. "Has Edward told you?"

"Nope," I said popping the p.

"I suppose it's possible Edward might not know about it yet, but I know for a fact Jasper does."

"Well what is it?" I asked.

Rose went on to explain how it's been said for generations in the Cullen family that once a Cullen male falls in love, that it's permanent, forever. She told us that Babs once described it to be like the animals who only mated once in their lives—penguins, lobsters and swans.

"Awe, it's like Ross and Rachel on Friends. Edward is your lobster, Bell," Al cooed.

"Which is pretty funny considering your last name is Swan," Rose added.

"He's your lobster, you're his swan…oh my god it's just so perfect. You guys were totally meant to be together," Al squealed like a three year old on Christmas morning.

"Calm down, Al, we've only been back together for a month. You act like he's going to propose tomorrow."

"He will one day," Rose declared with a sly smile. "Mark my words."

'Weee," Al cheered and clapped.

"Oh you're going to be a Cullen one day too," Rose assured her.

Holy shit! If Rose was right Alice and I would be truly related one day.

Luckily before I thought too much more about it, the guys showed up. The second Edward was in the room I knew it. I felt it and looked over to him, our eyes instantly locking. He winked as he made his way over to me, wearing that smile of his that melted me every time.

"Whatcha watching, ladies?" Emmett's voice boomed through the room as he neared us, carrying four pizza boxes.

"Titanic," Al chirped as Jasper sat down next to her and pulled her over onto his lap.

"Awe hell no," he grumbled. "How can you watch this?" He held his hand out and motioned towards the TV. "Look," he ordered Al. "Look at that right there," he demanded a second time causing her to roll her eyes at him before she did as he wanted. "First she doesn't share the piece of wood with him. And then she tells him I'm never gonna let go, never gonna let go, over and over again and then what does she do? She pops her hand right out of his and lets go. She's a...a...lying liar I tell ya."

"Have a little trouble coming up with that, Em?" Edward teased his friend.

"Fuck you, Edward," Emmett barked back at him with a muffled voice caused by a mouth full of pizza.

"You know," Jasper pipped in, wrapping his arms in a vice like manner around Al.

I watched him curiously wondering if he was about to need protection from her and that was the reason for the hold he had on her.

"The boat still sinks. The old lady still tosses the diamond into the ocean and then dies. No matter how many times you watch it, it will always end the same."

Al instantly started wiggling furiously on his lap, trying to get out of his grip. "I can't believe you just said that," she huffed at him.

Somehow she pinched his leg, which forced him to release her as he cursed, "Damn, Ali. That hurt."

While the rest of us watched them, completely entertained, Al wasted no time in hopping off his lap. Plopping down as far away from Jasper as she could get on the overstuffed couch, she pulled her knees up and propped her chin on them, while honing in on the television screen and tuning the rest of us out.

"Is she really that pissed off?" Edward whispered in my ear.

"No. I don't think so. She loves this movie, but she's used to getting shit about it. I just think Jasper teasing her caught her off guard. She expects it from Emmett and even you. But not Jasper. Ya know?"

He nodded. "What about you?" he asked, tugging on me and indicating he wanted me to crawl up on his lap.

Once I did, his hand snaked around my back and slipped under the bottom of my shirt. His thumb stroked my skin softly, warming me inside.

Edward and I spent most of the next several minutes of the movie kissing instead of paying attention to what was going on.

By the time old Rose had passed and the vision of her young again walking down the grand staircase in her white gown to a smiling Jack at the bottom was playing, I wasn't surprised to find Al had tears streaming down her face.

Jasper had tried twice before to make nice with her, and had been shunned both times. However this time she allowed him to wrap her in his arms and comfort her as the movie came to an end and the music began to play.

Not long after that, Edward and I left, knowing we had a long day ahead of us tomorrow, with school and the near hour long drive to the cabin.

October 28, 2011

After my last class, I rushed home to pack for my two day trip with Edward. I didn't know much about the Liberty Lake Reservoir area where the Cullen family's cabin was located, other than the reservoir was the water source for Baltimore's and its surrounding cities, but I was excited to be going there. I was almost finished packing when I received a text from Edward.

Leaving house. Mom packed food for us so we won't starve. C U soon.

Can't wait 2 C U. Tell her thanks. Text me when ur here and I'll come down.

Sounds good. Love U

Love U 2

Pushing the send button on my phone, I slipped it into my jeans pocket and tossed the rest of my stuff into the bag I was taking with me.

A little more than an hour later we saw a sign saying we were at the Liberty Lake Reservoir and shortly after Edward turned up the gravel drive leading to the cabin.

The drive up had been gorgeous. The roads on both sides had been lined with trees full of leaves in every fall color you could imagine, and loads of giant evergreens too.

"I thought you said we were staying in a cabin?" I said hopping out of Edward's jeep and taking in the building in front of me.

It was rustic in appearance with a dark honey colored wooden exterior and a tin roof. The only sign of the modern world was not one I'd have expected, which was a large solar panel attached to the roof.

"That's what they called it. Remember I've never been here before either."

"Oh right. I forgot and I guess I shouldn't be surprised that your family's ideas of roughing it and what they'd call a cabin would vary greatly from what I'd been expecting."

"I know," he said coming up behind me, slinking his arms around my waist and resting his chin on my head. "Not quite what I was thinking it'd be either, but since it's better than either of us thought, we shouldn't complain."

"No we shouldn't."

I continued taking in my new surroundings while standing there content in Edward's arms. It was peaceful with only the sounds of the birds and other wildlife going about their business in the woods around us. The sky was blue and the sun was shining at the moment but was being threatened by a bank of clouds off in the distance.

"It's beautiful here." I sighed and leaned back further against Edward.

The grounds were full of a vivid array of many colors. The green tin roof of the cabin was almost identical in color to the vibrant green grass of the small yard in front of the structure. Both were a crisp contrast to the brilliantly warm array of colors displayed on the leaves of the trees enclosing the clearing where the cabin sat.

Across the small yard there was a picnic table and what appeared to be a stone fire pit.

"Not as beautiful as you," Edward whispered against my neck before placing a soft kiss on the spot just behind my ear. He stayed there for a few moments with his face nestled against my skin. I loved the feeling of his warm breath. Raising his head he looked up to the sky, shading his eyes with his hand even though he still had his sunglasses on. "Come on, let's get our bags and the food inside. If we hurry there should still be enough daylight to take a hike on the trails before the chance of rain gets here."

I nodded and accepted another quick kiss from him then followed him around to the back of the jeep to grab our stuff.

We made our way through the covered porch that stretched across most of the front of the building. In the center was the door leading into the main room of the cabin.

Entering it we found a living room-dining room combo. The ceilings and the walls were covered in knotty pine paneling. Just to the right of the door was a small table and chairs set, with what looked like a freshly placed table cloth and dinner ware for two.

Across from the dining area the other side of the room had a sofa lining both walls. One had a long coffee table in front of it and an end table with a lamp on the end furthest away from us. The wall on the other side of the room boasted a huge stone fireplace, with a thick wooden mantel, that had been fitted with a wood burning stove and was flanked on both sides by small windows.

I stepped near the table and ran my hand across the chair back. I glanced up at Edward and then back at the table, wondering if he'd somehow skipped a class and had already been up here to set things up.

Seeing the curious look on my face, Edward explained, "Aunt Beth mentioned yesterday that she had their housekeeper come up and freshen the place for us. She must have set the table for us then."

"That was really nice of her."

"It was. Let's find the kitchen," Edward suggested letting his duffle bag drop to the floor.

I did the same and followed him across the room. To the left of the fireplace was an open doorway that led into the kitchen and to the right was a partially opened door leading to the bedroom.

The kitchen was a cozy galley style with wood floors and counters that were highlighted by the blue painted cabinets. We quickly put the food away and then grabbed our bags off the living room floor and deposited them on the bed.

"Ready for that hike?" Edward asked. "Tyler said there's a trail right behind the house that leads down to the lake."

"Sure," I replied with a wide grin.

It was cooler out here in the country so we both put on a light jacket and set out for our walk.

We'd been walking hand in hand along the trail for about twenty minutes when we heard the sound of rushing water. Curious we kept going and soon came to a wide stream that had a wooden bridge crossing it. The stream was a beautiful sight with trees lining both sides and a multitude of boulders, big and small scattered throughout the bed and along the shores forcing the water to move around them.

"Which way?" Edward asked after we crossed the bridge. The trail split, one side going straight and the other running along the stream.

"That way," I said, pointing to the side of the trail that followed along the stream.

I started to turn in the direction the trail went when I felt Edward tug me back.

"Wha—" My words were cut off by his lips attaching to mine.

Edward kissed me softly but deeply as one hand slid around to the small of my back and the other up to the base of my neck. With his long fingers twisted in my hair he held me pressed against him. Lost in the moment I clung to his jacket and returned his kiss until neither of us could go any longer.

"What was that for?" I asked through my labored breaths as I tried to calm my breathing.

"Do I have to have a reason?" he returned, kissing me sweetly again.

"Mmm, never." I smiled up at him before resting my head on his chest, closing my eyes and relaxing to the sound of his heart beating.

"You have to make me a promise this weekend," Edward said softly, his voice was muffled against my hair.

"What's that?"

Nudging me back a little he slid his hands up and grasped my face gently between them. As he rubbed his thumbs lovingly across my cheeks, I could see all the love he had for me in his eyes. It was so intense, almost too much, but I didn't believe there was such a thing as loving someone too much. And I knew I loved him as much as he loved me.

"I know everything that's happened hasn't been easy on you. I know that despite how much your mother deserves to be cut out of your life, it still doesn't make it easy," he said as he reached up with one hand, brushed my hair back and ran his fingers through it.

"So this weekend I want all of that left back in Baltimore. No worrying about paying for school, the election, or anything else. This is our time. It's just you and me here, and I want us to enjoy that without anything hanging over our heads. There'll be plenty of time for that once we go back home." He leaned down and kissed me gently. "Can you do that for me?"

"Yeah, I can."

He wrapped me up in his arms and held me tightly. We stood there like that until we noticed that it had suddenly become darker outside.

I looked up just in time for a fat rain drop to plop down on my forehead.

Edward laughed and wiped it away. "I think we better head back to the cabin."

"Me too!" I screeched as the rain started coming down fast.

By the time we'd made it back to the cabin we were both soaked and our shoes were coated in mud. We quickly kicked off our shoes on the porch and left our jackets there too.

"Holy shit that rain was cold," Edward said. "There should be towels in the bathroom."

I nodded and rubbed my hands up and down my arms trying to warm myself up.

I entered the bedroom just as Edward was coming out of the adjoining bathroom with a couple of towels. He stopped dead in his tracks. I watched as his eyes darkened and he swallowed like he had a huge lump in his throat.

Not exactly sure what was going on with him I asked, "Edward?" My voice shook slightly from me being so chilly. "Are you going to share the towels?"

"Oh…uh…yeah. Here," he whispered in a raspy voice trying to turn away from me in a hurry after jutting the towel out at me.

"Hey." I grabbed onto his shirt and stopped him from retreating so fast. "What's going on?"

I had no clue what was going on with him, but I was going to find out. Everything had been perfect just minutes ago and now it felt like he was running away from me.

He sighed and ran his hand through his hair that was now just barely long enough to do so. It had been growing back rather quickly.

"Edward, please?" I begged, moving around to stand in front of him.

I placed my hand on his chest and looked up into his eyes. This time I recognized that look in his. They were dark and full of desire, but I didn't understand why he was trying to hide it from me.

"I was…I was trying to hide my reaction from you," he mumbled.

"You're hiding from me?" This time I sighed. It wasn't like I'd never seen him turned on before. "Edward, that's ludicrous."

"When I came out of the bathroom and saw you standing there all wet, it reminded me of all the other times I'd seen you like that and one memory really uh…affected me."

"Which one?"

"The night you slipped in the shower. Our first night in the DR."

So he was remembering me naked and wet. Shouldn't that be a good thing?

I stepped closer to him, dropping the towel and pressing myself against him as I wrapped my fingers through his belt loops. I could feel exactly how he'd been affected by his memory of me that night. I rose up on my toes and kissed him. He kissed me back, a little slowly and somewhat startled for a moment, but then responded whole heartedly. As he kissed me even harder and encased me in his arms, I felt myself shiver again, but it wasn't from being cold this time.

I hadn't even realized we'd been moving until the back of my thighs hit the bed and I lost my balance, falling backwards, bringing Edward with me.

I was glad that we'd already had the discussion about birth control back when we'd began exploring the physical side of our relationship. Once we'd seen how heated things could become between us, we'd had the talk just in case we got carried away in the heat of the moment. Edward had been shocked to learn Renee had insisted I go on the pill when I was 16. How she'd told me she refused to allow me to make the same mistake she had. It infuriated him that she saw me as a mistake and had told me how much he loved me and that I was the best thing that had ever happened to him.

His lips left mine and moved down my neck, across my collar bone as his hand slid up under my shirt and stopped just below my breast. "Bella," he whispered huskily against my skin and his forehead rested on mine. "Maybe we should stop before things get out of hand."

"I don't want to stop." I pulled his mouth back up to mine.

I knew I was ready for us to take the next step and hoped he was too.

He returned my kiss hungrily. Thinking this was really going to happen, I began to tug on his t-shirt, untucking it from his pants. However any thoughts I'd just had of him giving in flew out the window faster than a humming bird's wings could carry them.

Edward pulled back and sat up. He rubbed his hand back and forth across his jaw before settling his eyes on me.

"Bella I…I know we've taken things further physically, but I didn't bring you up here to seduce you and steal your virginity."

I sat up and scooted next to him. He had such a serious look on his face, almost as if he was scared. I wanted to lighten the mood and show him I didn't think that he'd have any preconceived notions about what would happen between us this weekend.

"It's not stealing if I'm giving it to you."

"Don't say that."

"Why? It's the truth," I argued.

"I just don't want you to think that was what I was expecting." He sighed and reached over and linked his fingers through mine.

"I didn't. I don't. So why don't you tell me what's really bothering you. I can see that it's more than you're letting on." I tugged on his shirt and pulled him to me, giving him what I hoped was a kiss of reassurance. "Talk to me, Edward. Please."

I watched his facial expression change as he mulled over what to say. I was completely intrigued when I noticed a light blush creep up his neck and over his ears.

What could he possibly be embarrassed about?

"I don't want to hurt you," he said so softly I barely heard him.

"Edward, I don't…I don't…" And then it hit me and this time I blushed over not getting what he meant right away. "You mean because I'm a virgin it might be painful the first time?"

"Yeah," he said nodding at the same time. "I've never been with a virgin before. The a…girls I've been with before were experienced."

"So then I guess we're never going to make love?" I asked.

That got his attention real quick. His head snapped up rapidly. "No," he answered. "That's not what I said."

"Well you do realize that no matter how long we wait the possibility of it hurting the first time isn't going to go away."

I couldn't help but fall in love with him even more. He was such a genuinely sweet, loving, and caring man who was obviously pushing aside his own wants and desires in order to keep from hurting me. But his thinking was just a little illogical to me.

"Then you're gonna have to spell it out for me or something, because that's how it sounds to me. I mean even if I wait until I get married someday, the risk of it being somewhat painful is still going to be there."

"If waiting for marriage is what you want, Bella, then that's what we'll do. I told you I didn't bring you up here for that."

I couldn't help giggling just a little at him.

"Why are you laughing?" he grumbled.

"Because if I wanted to wait until I was married I wouldn't have been trying to undress you a few minutes ago. It's an ancient tradition and that's not why I'm still a virgin. The only reason I've waited until now is because I never loved anyone before. I never found anyone who I even cared enough about to consider taking that step with.

"But with you, I want to. I love you, Edward and you love me. I want to be with you. I'm ready and I think you are too. If for whatever reason you aren't then yes, let's wait. But to be honest with you, even if you weren't thinking about the possibility of us making love this weekend, I was," I admitted to him.

"You were?" His eyes widened and darkened a little instantly with the knowledge of what I'd been thinking about.

"Yes," I replied softly, crawling up on his lap and kissing him.

He kissed me back before asking, "You're sure?"

"I'm positive. I love you, I want this."

I kissed down his jaw and nipped on his ear. I could feel him relaxing as his breathing sped up.

"God, I love you too, Bella. I love you so much," he breathed as my lips continued to move over his heated skin and my fingers tugged on the hair at the base of his neck.

"Show me, Edward. Make love to me."

Bringing his hand to my face, his thumb caressed my cheek as he gazed into my eyes . Edward wrapped his arms around me, flipped me over, and kissed me hard and passionately. His mouth left mine and moved down my neck, returning the sweet torture I'd given him.

"I've wanted you like this for so long, Bright Eyes."

He raised up off me enough to pull my shirt up. When it got hung up on my arms, I helped him get it off me and then removed his too, tossing it to the floor. Moving to straddle my legs, he reached down and popped the button of my jeans open and then lowered the zipper all while keeping his eyes locked on mine.

I sensed he was waiting for some sign from me before he went any further so I nodded for him to continue. Unfortunately since my jeans were drenched they were stuck to me like a second layer of skin and it took both of us to wrestle them off. Dropping my jeans to the floor, Edward stood and started to remove his own. Just as he moved to step out of them, a loud clap of thunder rumbled through the air, followed by a bright bolt of lightning that lit up the whole sky.

Edward grabbed the covers and was about to pull them down, when the room went completely dark.

"Shit," Edward cursed. "Uncle Tyler said there was an emergency generator. I'll be ba—"

I grabbed his wrist. "Leave it," I told him.

He crawled into the bed next to me and was immediately kissing me as we rubbed against each other. Edward was sliding my bra off me and I hadn't even realized he'd undone it.

I giggled as he tossed it over his head and we heard it hit the wall.

"Bella," he whispered, just before his mouth claimed mine again. The feeling of being so close to him with almost nothing between us was amazing. He kissed down my body leaving a trail of fire everywhere his lips touched.

"Edward," I gasped softly when his tongue brushed over my nipple.

My fingers slipped into his hair. I gripped the shorts strands as best I could, holding his head against me. For the next several minutes he went back and forth between my breasts, kissing and sucking on them both.

By the time he moved back up to my mouth, I was squirming beneath him. It wasn't like this was the first time he'd touched me, he'd touched me in more intimate ways. Maybe it was the anticipation for what was to come, I didn't know, but I was more worked up than ever before.

As if reading each other's minds, we both reached for the last remaining pieces of clothing on us. Once his boxers and my panties were kicked off and lost in the covers somewhere, Edward rolled me over and slid his hand down over my hip.

"You're so beautiful," he whispered, and pressed a soft kiss right over my heart, when a bolt of lightning lit up the room.

There was just enough light shining in through the window from the brief flashes of lightning for me to see all the love he felt for me shining in his eyes.

"I love you," I whispered to him.

"I love you too."

He trailed kisses up along my neck and jaw until he found my lips. As he kissed me deeply, his hand traveled down between my legs and gently nudged them apart.

I felt completely consumed by him when his hand slid between my legs and he slipped a finger inside me. The feeling was overwhelming. So intense. It was like he was everywhere, touching every inch of my skin all at once.

It was amazing.

After a few minutes I was arching against his hand. "Edward," I gasped. "Make love to me."

"Are you sure?" he asked.

"Yes."

"Will you let me take care of you first?"

"What do you mean?" I asked, trying to move against his hand, missing the sensations he was causing in me.

"Let me make you feel good first. I don't know…I don't know how good it will be for you this first time."

"Okay," I murmured against his lips.

His lips were on mine, kissing me slowly, but passionately, as his hands work their magic on me. Soon I was flying high and crying out his name as he brought me to climax.

Edward moved until he was hovering over me. I moved my legs further apart, allowing him to get into position. He slowly lowered his body against mine.

"You have to tell me if it's too much. If it hurts too bad."

"I will," I promised, wrapping my arms around him tightly, grasping his shoulders.

Lowering his hips against mine, I feel him at my entrance.

"I'll go as slow as I can."

I nodded and kissed his jaw.

He began pushing inside me and my heart felt as though it was going to jump right out of my chest. I tried to remain calm as a burning and pulling sensation began to spread. It hurt, but it wasn't unbearable.

He stopped for a moment. "Are you okay?"

"Yes," I told him truthfully because even though there was discomfort, I wanted this. I wanted this with him.

"Okay," he said softly, pressing a kiss to my forehead.

He pushed in further and the burning feeling increased, causing me to move in an effort to try and ease the feeling, but instead it caused Edward to slide all the way in. I gasped and he froze. He remained still, leaving me with only a slightly uncomfortable feeling of being stretched and of being full that now accompanied the burning. And though I tried to hide it, my body betrayed me by tensing up.

"I'm sorry," Edward mumbled, his face buried against my neck.

"I'm okay. It's not too bad."

Edward brought his lips back to mine and started kissing me, slowly and softly. It wasn't long before our kiss became heated again and my body relaxed under his.

Feeling my body's reaction, Edward began to move again.

"God, Bella. I'm not…I was hoping to last long enough to make this somewhat pleasurable for you, but…you feel so damn good… I just don't think I can hold back much longer."

His breathing grew harsher, coming out in short quick spurts of air against my neck where his face was buried.

"It's okay," I told him, knowing that this was just the first of many times we'd make love and believing that it would get better each time we did.

This was so much more than just a physical act for us. It was about our love for each other. And despite any discomfort I'd had, I felt a connection to him on a whole different level than I had before. There had always been a deep, intense connection between us, one we'd both admitted to feeling almost instantly. But this was so much more. "I love you," I whispered, turning my head to kiss him. "It's okay. I promise," I assured him. Hoping to make him feel a little better about it, I added, "You'll just have to make it up to me next time."

"Fuck, Bright Eyes," Edward moaned as his position changed slightly and he slipped even further inside me. "We're not even through with the first time and you're already wanting more."

"Is that a problem?"

"Hell no," he said with a grunt.

Edward moved one of my legs up over his hip and slid his arms under me and up around my shoulders. His hands gripped me tightly as his pace picked up speed. A low throaty groan escaped his lips.

"I love you, Bella," Edward panted in between his breaths just before his entire body shook and collapsed onto mine.

We stayed like that for a while, the only sounds or movements coming from either of us where the ones being made by our heavy breathing and the storm outside. I buried my face in the crook of his neck and breathed him in as I grazed my hand up and down his back a few times before I moved it up to toy with the short hairs on the nape of his neck. It was wet with his sweat but I couldn't find it in me to care. Especially since the reason he was sweaty was because he'd just made love to me.

After a few more minutes Edward pressed a kiss on the side of my neck and rolled over, pulling me with him.

"Are you okay?" He reached up and brushed my hair back out of my face.

"I am. I'm perfect actually," I replied honestly. I'd never forget this first time between us and was sure that it'd only get better from here.

"I hope it didn't hurt too much," he said softly.

"No." I shook my head, backing my words. "Was more of an uncomfortable sort of burning sensation than anything."

"I'm sorry," he whispered and gave me a soft kiss.

"Don't be. It's not your fault and it couldn't be helped. And besides, it will only get better now, right?"

"Yeah." He was quite for a few moments as we laid there in each other's arms and then asked, "Do you wanna take a shower, a warm bath?" His fingers gently trailed a path along the side of face.

"Mmm," I hummed as I thought about it for a second. "No. I want to stay right here."

I couldn't help yawning which earned me a chuckle from Edward.

"Thank you, Bella," Edward whispered. He leaned down and kissed me slowly telling me how much he loved me without words.

"For what?" I asked.

"For everything. For waiting for me, for letting me be your first, for loving me, and for not giving up on us when I was being an ass."

I was a little overwhelmed and didn't know what to say. Nothing seemed to be enough compared to what he'd just said.

Edward must have picked up on that. "I'm serious, Bright Eyes. What you gave me tonight was very special and I'll never forget it. I've never made love to anyone before tonight and I'm so happy it was with you."

"I know you meant what you said. And I'm glad my first time was with you too. I love you, Edward and I'm glad I waited for you and that I'm your first love."

"Me too," he returned. "I love you so, so much."

We kissed a few more times before falling asleep in the comfort and warmth of each other's arms and the sounds of the rain hitting the window. I was pretty sure just before I succumbed to sleep, I heard Edward whisper that I'd be his first and only love and his wife one day. It was the most perfect moment of my life and I couldn't think of anything I'd love more than to marry him some day.


I know a lot of you have been waiting for them to reach this point in their relationship. I hope it was worth the wait. Can't wait to see what you think.

There are pictures of the cabin and the area around it on my blog. The link is on my profile page.

I'm sorry I didn't get to respond to your reviews for the last chapter. Life has been busy and I spent all my free time writing the chapter. Just know that they were all read and I love all of your input.

Thanks for reading, see ya next time.

EA