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I think this is the longest chapter so far... ENJOY!

Chapter 17: Enough

Edward's POV

Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

The fourth city of my immortal life.

It is no more or less remarkable than the others with one notable exception.

I have a live-in diversion.

The doctor settles us in another remote area, this one hidden high in the mountains framing the tiny town. The stone ranch is large enough to spread out in, and Rosalie and I claim the west wing for ourselves.

After a heated debate, of course.

Upon entering the house, I seek the space furthest from my so-called parents, craving privacy and refusing to infringe upon theirs.

'Let us have a bit of sport,' Rosalie thinks as she stalks past me. 'Set the tone for our new abode.'

"Natural light!" She enters the largest of the four rooms first. "The perfect sitting room."

"Excuse me." I turn stiffly toward her. "The choice is mine."

She arches an eyebrow as the doctor and his wife appear in the archway. "Have you never heard of 'ladies first'?"

"Why would such a thing apply here?"

A low hiss escapes her, and Dr. Cullen steps forward. "I am sure there's a way to work this out."

"There is nothing to work out." I clasp my hands behind my back as I tour the space. "I was a member of this family first…"

Rosalie snorts. "So we're a family now?"

"…therefore I have first choice. The acoustics in Rochester were a disgrace. My piano belongs here, and I with it."

"The piano will reside in your bedroom?" Mrs. Cullen asks. "What if Rosalie wishes to play?"

"She shall knock on my door and ask permission."

My nonsister folds her arms. "And what if you are not at home?"

"Then you shall wait until I return."

She turns to Dr. Cullen. "I want my own piano."

"That could be arranged," he says.

"And have two pianos dueling in the house?" Mrs. Cullen tsks. "That will not do."

"What do you suggest?" her husband asks.

"That they share the piano and this end of the house."

Rosalie gasps, and I shake my head once. "Out of the question. I need silence and isolation to play properly."

"An entire wing for one instrument?" Rosalie cries. "Could you be more pretentious?"

"Rosalie…" Dr. Cullen sighs.

"What?" She points to the airy space adjacent to my music room. "A view of the lake and the lone shower. I want those two rooms as well, and he shall not have them."

"I care nothing about them. I need this room for my piano and see no reason why you cannot sit in the larger room with the superior lakeside view on the other side of the house."

"I shan't justify my reasons to you."

"You could share this area," Esme says again.

"No!" we exclaim. "The house is large enough to preclude such inconvenience," I add.

"Now I'm an inconvenience?"

I clench my fists, biting my lip to quarantine my retort. "I do not mean to suggest you are an inconvenience," I grind out. "I mean only that sharing space is unnecessary in a house this size."

She is greatly amused by my forced harshness, but she huffs aloud. "I appreciate the clarification, but we remain at an impasse."

The doctor and his wife stare at me, their eyes matching their pleading thoughts, and I release a harsh breath. "Would you like this end of the house, Rosalie?"

She falters at the use of her name, her voice softening. "I would."

Our eyes meet—sienna on gold—and I am momentarily lost. "Then take it."

"Do you mean it?"

Our feelings ignite, diluting the subterfuge, and I clear my throat to recover it. "I would not wish to suspend any pleasure of yours."

She blinks at my answer, recalling the quote, and thanks me in her mind. "I suppose I should return the favor," she says aloud. "I need only so much space, after all."

"Which means what?"

She tosses back her hair, refusing to look at me. "You may store your piano here if you wish."

I feign surprise. "Are you certain?"

"Did I stutter?" she snaps, then forces a smile. "Yes, I am certain. The room beside it is also vacant, should you decide to store yourself there."

"That room is also beside yours."

She raises sarcastic eyes to mine. "I am sure you can tell the difference."

I hold her gaze, shrugging despite the fluttering in my heart. "Very well."

"Then it's settled!" Mrs. Cullen claps. "I am so glad it worked out."

Dr. Cullen beams at me, and I am shocked to feel gratified. "Nightfall approaches, and Esme and I must meet our furniture at the train," he says. "Are you coming with us?"

"I have no interest in this town," Rosalie scoffs. "It is not home and never will be." She quits the room without a mental word, and I know her feelings are genuine.

You should stay here tonight, the doctor thinks at me. This transition will be difficult for her, and she will need you.

I roll my eyes and angle my head toward the back door, indicating my need to speak with him.

"I'll be along shortly," he says to his wife. "Wait for me at the second landing on the east side of the mountain."

"Of course." She kisses his cheek, and I do not scowl for once. Mrs. Cullen notices, poorly disguising her shock. "Thank you, Edward." For being so kind to Rose.

Her gratitude is superfluous, but I acknowledge it with a nod.

She needs not know serving Rosalie is my greatest pleasure.

'Yes, thank you, Edward,' Rosalie thinks as she unpacks her travel bag. 'Your generosity warrants reward. Think long on what you wish, and I shall make it worth your while.'

She then assaults me with a vision of her perfect hands cupping my face, her rosy eyes dropping to my mouth. I can taste her breath as she leans in, the exotic florals unique to her, and my mouth waters with anticipation.

"Edward?" The doctor passes me, his voice ruining the mirage. "Shall we go?"

'Fear not,' my nonsister smiles as I flee the house. 'There is more where that came from.'

I nearly run into a tree at her final thought, barely recovering before Dr. Cullen can notice.

Damnable creature.

—B—I—

I stop running when we are beyond earshot of the house. "It has been three weeks since our discussion, and you have not answered me."

He stuffs his hands in his pockets. "I am aware of that."

"Do we have an agreement?"

Concern sullies the normal brightness of his eyes. "I'm afraid I have no answer."

"Is there some issue on your end?"

"It is not a matter of logistics."

An angry hand flies through my hair before I can stop it. "Then what is the problem?"

He blocks his thoughts with a German recitation of the Psalms. "I wonder if this is the best course of action."

"For her?"

"For both of you."

"I didn't ask for your approval."

"No." He folds his arms. "But assistance implies acceptance, and that I am loath to provide."

My voice drops to a growl. "Give me one reason why not."

"Rosalie values her privacy, and I do not think she will appreciate your violation of it."

"You don't know her."

"And you do?" He waits for an answer I do not give. "Think about this, Edward, about the decision you are making."

I can think of little else.

He advances in the silence, his golden brows knit. "Could you not speak to her first?"

"And risk her disappointment if I fail? Absolutely not."

"This is a delicate mission, son. And though I believe your heart is rightly motivated, I must protect her from…"

"I am trying to protect her!"

The doctor comes to a halt. "I see."

His crumbling mental block reveals his curiosity about my motives, and I force myself into indifference. Rosalie wants our entanglement to remain secret, and I must respect that wish above all others.

"My apologies," I say. "But your vacillating wishes confuse me."

"I'm sorry?"

"You say you want us to get along, for me to befriend Rosalie. This is my attempt to do that, and your refusal to help is rather…"

"I have not refused."

"So we are in agreement?" I take a step toward him. "You will do this for me?"

He searches my eyes for ulterior motives, though I already know the last two words have broken him. "Upon your word of being in earnest, I will do this."

A smile nearly splits my face, and I reach for his hand to shake it. He hesitates but a moment then covers our joined hands with his free one, holding on as if for life.

I remove my hand as politely as I can, fighting the urge to wipe my hand on my trousers. "See that no one finds out."

He bows and prepares to speak again, and I fly down the other side of the mountain. Though I shall not share my plan, Rosalie will soon know what I have done, and the doctor will confirm his complicity, adding his belief that I acted in her best interest.

I hope it is enough.

—B—I—

The following night, I return from a solo hunt to find the house dark. Though she relishes human convention, Rosalie revels in her ability to see as clearly with light as without it.

'There is something naughty about consorting in the dark, is there not?' she whispers when we're alone at night.

Alone.

At night.

A delicious tremor shimmies across my belly, warning me of the folly ahead. I should take a wide arc from the house and join the Cullens in town on their exploratory excursion.

But Rosalie's earlier words spring to mind, and I walk faster.

A fountain pen scratching against paper greets my ears as I near the house, and I remember to announce myself. When lost in her private thoughts, Rosalie's peripheral awareness diminishes and she scares easily. After one such incident in Rochester where she shrieked and pinned me to the floor in fright, I have learned to be more declarative in my movements.

And to deny the enjoyment I derived from our prone position.

I kick a stone against the side of the house upon arrival, and she hides her journal in her bureau, closing the top drawer without a sound. Clearing her throat, she invites me into her mind.

'Are you ready to play?'

"Depends on the enterprise."

'Does it matter, as long as you win?'

I place a foot on the bottom step. "And how do you know I will win?"

'Oh, my boy. If you play nicely, we both shall win.' The use of her preferred pet name affects me as she knew it would, and I stop where I stand. 'Now back up and start counting.'

Knowing her game, I retreat into the trees, dutifully reciting my numbers up to one million. From this distance, I can see, hear, and smell nothing, and the loss of her presence makes my fingers itch.

I miss her already.

Reaching my numerical goal, I sprint toward the front of the house, stomping on the bottom step with a shout. But she is good and makes not a sound.

I close the door and once in the entryway, I close my eyes. Though I navigate easily without sight or smell, the deprivation of those senses alarms me, and I must pause to gather my wits.

There are nocturnal creatures outside the house, an errant insect or two within. The steady hum of electricity and the gurgle of water in the pipes.

Otherwise, the house is completely silent.

Hide and seek was a favorite pastime of the boy I used to be, but its vampiric counterpart is far more exciting. Seeking without the benefit of sight engages the body and mind in myriad ways, to say nothing of the object of the game herself.

And the sweet reward she gives upon her discovery.

It would be foolish to pretend I do not crave her kisses, a boldface lie to deny my desire for more. Each time we play, our bodies betray us, inching us toward a precipice we claim intention to avoid. Were we wiser, we would desist in our teasing and revert to chastity, contenting ourselves with safer pursuits.

But where is the fun in that?

Aware of my surroundings, I clear my mind and inhale slowly through my nose. A sift through the scents is hardly necessary to distinguish the one I seek, but I complete the circuit just the same. At the first whiff of jasmine and amber, my heart soars with recognition. But as I weigh its potency, I realize minutes have passed since she last graced this space.

I venture further.

I check the parlor, the doctor's office, and the kitchen with only my nose to guide me. I stand at the top of the stairway leading to the basement, wondering if she has explored the bottom floor without me. Though her scent is faint in each place, the outcome is the same.

No Rosalie.

I stand outside the Cullen's bedroom and hesitate. Rosalie hid beside Esme's chifforobe when last we played and later giggled through my invented excuse for invading their room. But I was recompensed with a double portion of kisses, so I begin to hope she is within.

But my senses reveal otherwise, and I huff my disappointment.

With all rooms in this wing accounted for, I proceed toward our end of the house. As her scent grows stronger with each step, I marvel at the blankness of her mind: not a whisper or image to be found. I know not how she does it, and she revels in her secrecy.

Minx.

As I come upon her suite, I smile, knowing victory is at hand. But the familiar decrease in potency confuses me, and I conclude she is not in her bathroom. Another three steps plant me in front of her boudoir, and though her scent is stronger, it is not strong enough.

Which means but one thing.

She is in one of my rooms.

My suddenly dry mouth goes slack, and I drag a palm down my face as possibilities assault me:

Rosalie reclining on my leather sofa, arms and legs open in invitation.

Rosalie spread out across the closed top of my piano, lusty eyes beckoning me forward.

A harsh oath slips past my lips, and as my loins tighten in response, I come to a sure conclusion.

She is trying to kill me.

Recalling the migratory patterns of every bird in New England, my body relaxes enough to move me toward my bedroom door.

I no longer care about winning. I just need to touch her.

Without bothering to inhale, I open the door and am rewarded with a soft cry of surprise. "You found me."

I walk toward my sofa where she lies against its higher arm. "So I did."

Her eyes hold mine, a challenge in their depths. "But your eyes are open."

"So they are."

"So you lose."

I reach the end of the chair where her legs are crossed at the ankle. "That is debatable."

"Is it?"

I lift her feet and set them on my lap as I sit. "You said I'd win either way."

"If you played nicely." Her breath catches as I remove her right shoe. "You are cheating."

"Am I?"

I cradle her stockinged foot, squeezing gently. Her head rolls back against the cushion with a breathy sigh. I continue my attention to her heel and arch, and she moans as the pad of my thumb presses against her instep. "Stop."

I obey but do not release her foot. "Does this not please you?"

She raises her head, leveling me with her eyes. "Quite the opposite."

On instinct, I turn toward her, inadvertently settling between her legs. She notes my position with wide eyes, and we stare at each other, our thoughts identical.

We face the abyss once more, the expanse of her body the only barrier between what is and what could be, both aching and afraid to move.

The moment stretches beyond what is tolerable, and I bite my lip for want of contact. Her eyes follow the movement, and I shut my eyes. "Rosalie, tell me what to do."

"Edward…" Her breath is shaky, its fragrance deepened by her arousal. "Please…"

I lean forward, feeling her hands slide over my wrists. "Yes?"

She clutches my arms. "Please… let me."

The gentle command belies the strength of her grip, but as her thoughts are blocked, I cannot decipher the reason for the difference. But as her hands slide up to my shoulders, I forget to care.

I open my eyes to find Rosalie shifting to a sitting position, her covered legs on either side of me. She traces the line of my jaw with a finger, trailing it lightly over my bottom lip. I shudder as she cups my face, my eyes fluttering shut as our lips meet.

My body tenses upon contact, every pore and dead nerve awakened once more. There is nothing beyond her mouth against mine, no consequence to fear or life to be had. Each press of her lips is a prayer answered, and I lay myself on the altar of her whims.

She shifts, rising above me, and from our new angle, I realize she is on her knees. Her lips part, searing me with sensual flavor. I burn to hold her but do not move my hands. She needs my submission, to know she is in control, and I yield to her in this as in all things.

Rosalie suddenly relaxes her grip on my hands and licks my bottom lip. She traces it lightly before sucking it into her mouth. The desire to taste overrides the need to touch, and I capture her lips, groaning as our tongues meet for the first time. She is a silken, consuming fire, setting my soul ablaze.

She inches closer, the rubbing of her knees against leather audible in the silence. The sound echoes within me, and I remember we are on my sofa, a place where I have imagined this scenario more times than I'd ever admit. Fantasy colors my reality, and I deepen our kiss, running my tongue along her teeth. She sighs my name, and I am lost.

My freed hands slide into her hair as I leave her lips, teasing the line of her jaw. I dip to her neck, nipping and kissing the spot where her pulse is silent. As I gently suckle the fragrant skin, she holds my head in place, urging me on with her moans. Her scent unravels in heady layers as I taste her, and I fear I shall never have enough.

When the urge to bite nearly overwhelms me, I force myself away from her throat. Seizing the moment, she presses her physical advantage and pushes me onto my back. Our throbbing bodies perfectly align, and as she adjusts, her arousal rubs against mine.

Our eyes open, and we stare at each other, adrift in uncharted waters. This is the push and pull of us, and I brace myself for her retreat, an apology on my lips.

But Rosalie does not move.

She steadies herself on top of me, studying my eyes as her sacred center presses against me. We moan together, and I force my attention away from the sensation as she prepares to speak.

"Is this…" She gasps for breath she doesn't need. "Do you want me to move?"

Several replies flood my mind, and she blushes at my indecision. "That is," she clarifies, "would you like me to remove myself from your person?"

I drink in her hooded eyes, parted lips, and heaving chest. "A question impossible to answer."

She laughs but the humor is short-lived. "I want to stay… like this…." Her bottom lip trembles with her pause. "But I'm not ready to…"

"I know."

She shakes her head, her eyes glazed as if to cry. "Is it enough?"

Her uncertainty pierces my heart, and my anger rekindles toward the King and his men. She misreads my emotional shift and turns away, shame coloring her thoughts.

My rage instantly cools, and I rest my hands against her hips, willing her to look at me. "I am not angry with you, love. Nor could I ever be."

"But you are angry."

I want to deny it, but she knows me too well. "I am angry at your pain, at those who caused it."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be." I take her hands in mine, squeezing gently. "Don't ever be sorry for how you feel."

"But…." Her brows furrow in frustration. "I don't want to disappoint…"

I lay a finger against her mouth, forcing her eyes to mine. "You are what I want. You are all I want, and you could never disappoint me."

My eyes burn with the intensity of her stare, but I do not look away. At length, she kisses my finger. "So… this is enough?"

I sit up to meet her, laying my palm against her cheek. "You are enough."

She finally smiles, bringing her lips to mine once more. My hand winds around her neck to rest upon her lower back as she falls forward. And as we kiss away our first private night in Tennessee, I pray to someday be enough for her.

What do we think of Roseward's version of Hide & Seek? And what in the world is Edward doing with Carlisle? Stay tuned, friends... things are about to get interesting

xoxo ladylibre