AN: This is dedicated to LoreleiKate.

Disclaimer: All recognizable elements contained herein belong to their respective owners.

For three years, she was the perfect Stepford Wife—dutiful, compliant, never complaining about his less than gentle nature—but when the perfect pink plus sign shown through the tiny rectangular window, something began to stir. Then Royce raged in reaction, red flags billowing, bold and bright, arousing her long dormant bravado.

She spent the next year socking away money. The term socking was quite literal, too. She'd slipped twenty-dollar bills she'd solicited from the cash back function at the grocery store checkout into a shredded pair of stockings that lived in the back of her sock drawer.

Once she'd accumulated more than 200 bills, she neatly folded and carefully tucked them inside the lining of her medium sized American Tourister roller bag where she'd deftly placed a selection of perfectly folded clothing, appropriate footwear, and necessary toiletries before slipping out the back door of their home.

She took a taxi to the train station and paid cash for her ticket to the city. At the CVS in downtown Rochester, she bought a box of blonde hair color, a pair of beautician's shears, cheap black sunglasses, and a matching hooded sweatshirt. As the sun set she walked the rest of the way to the hotel where she further facilitated her transformation and escape.

She breathed deep and calm as her silken nightgown slid smoothly over her freshly bleached and trimmed tresses, the damp ends barely brushing her shoulders. She imagined slowing her heart rate as she settled in the lotus position on top of the stiff springboard and mattress to count her cash once more. She rolled her shoulders then tucked the money safely into several separate envelopes, smartly budgeting the days to come. Double-checking the departure time on her bus ticket for the following morning, she made the decision to try and get some rest then set the hotel issued alarm clock for 4:30 a.m.

She didn't sleep a wink.

The nighttime hours had passed, recollections of so many nights leaving her broken-hearted and dark in her mind, memories of him coming home, smelling like booze and someone else's skin. She couldn't forget about his hands and his words, cruel and demanding. She didn't want to think about those tender patches of black and blue, but her mind wouldn't let her forget.

He was a powerful man. His family had money and authority, and she had once felt like the luckiest girl in the world that he had chosen her. She thought he was everything she wanted; he was good-looking, athletic, and he held promise for the elegant and exciting life that she had dreamed of as a young girl.

He courted her, wooed her, and made pretty promises that made her forget there was ever anyone or anything but him. Just weeks after his graduation from Law School, on a perfect June day, they vowed to love, honor, and cherish, 'til death do they part.

Then death couldn't come soon enough for her. Instead of waiting for another trip down the staircase, another moment when her breath was shut off at her throat, another kick to her abdomen—instead of waiting for death to come to her, Rose went in search of a new life.


Four-thirty arrived swiftly, and Rose was less than rested, but she was early to the bus station and the first passenger to board. She sat in the back in a window seat, nameless shades covering her light eyes, and newly colored locks cloaking her face. By the time the bus departed, she was deep inside her own head, lulled by the hovering scenery and rhythmic tremor of the wheels on the road.

Memories of vacations on warm, sandy beaches and weekends with friends and family were washed away with the wind and rain, sunset and sunrise, and three time zones. She rode anonymously for seven days, keeping clean and coiffed with use of public showers along the bus route as the Greyhound traveled to the unlikely refuge of Seattle, Washington. If he chose to search for her, he'd never think she'd opt for such a cold and wet place.

When they arrived at their final destination, she and 30 other Seattle seeking sojourners stepped off the bus and accepted their suitcases from the gentleman who was unloading bags and luggage from underneath. She handed him a five-dollar bill and he nodded politely in response.

She turned on her heel and strode alongside the bus until she could no longer see it in her periphery or smell its exhaust. She walked several blocks toward the heart of town until she came upon a stretch of restaurants, bars, and retail shops. Across the street from where she had stopped she saw a sign in a window that read: HELP WANTED.

She inhaled slowly and deeply, then crossed the street without more than a glimmer of a second thought. She was successfully progressing through her transition from dependent housewife to independent woman, from always being controlled to being in control, from victim to victor. Nothing was going to stop her.

A bell rang above the door heralding her purposeful entrance into the café. Patrons took note of the beautiful and determined girl as they sipped their coffee and nibbled on their scones. She approached the counter and requested an application.

"Hi," she said. "I noticed your sign in the window. Are you still hiring?"

"Yes," answered the tall, blonde man behind the counter.

"Great," she said with relief. "May I have an application?"

"Of course," he answered with a smile. "I'll be right back."

She watched him move—not without urgency, but with an even pace—until he disappeared down through a doorway. Then her gaze wandered about behind the counter noticing a few younger looking employees, both seemingly oblivious to her presence as they flirted in front of the espresso machine. She briefly considered at what stage they were in their relationship. Were they just friends who flirt? Were they dating? Had they kissed? She didn't have much time to think about it, though, because the blonde man was back with a piece of paper and a pen.

"Here you are," he said, handing her the application. "You can have a seat anywhere you're comfortable."

He smiled warmly when she took the paper and pen from his hand. She met his eyes and noticed they were blue—deep blue and calming, not the ice blue of Royce's stare. Her determination was somehow further emboldened by his gaze.

"Thank you," she replied.

She sat down at the first open table she saw and pulled out the wallet where she kept her brand new identification, thankful for her criminal cousin Jasper, who had been imprisoned for a number of counts of forgery, and who would never have denied her protection. She carefully laid the I.D. card on the table in front of her and began to fill in the blanks.

Once Rose had completed the basic information, she gathered her things and approached the counter once again. The young boy behind the counter—still flirting with his tiny, brunette companion, but now aware of Rose's presence—reluctantly turned to pay her attention.

"Hi," he greeted her with a goofy, lopsided grin. "How can I help you?"

His nametag told Rose that his name was Edward. She thought of her grandfather whose name was Edward and who she missed very much. She smiled fondly at both her memories and the way the boy blushed when he met her eyes.

So young, she thought to herself.

"I have an application to submit," Rose answered.

"Oh, okay."

The boy nodded then glanced over his shoulder at the girl behind him before turning back to Rose again.

"Just one sec, I'll go get Carlisle," he said. "Will you be all right here, Bella? I'll just be a minute."

His voice was so gentle and sincere, and the girl, Bella, was beyond charmed by it. Maybe she was a new employee and he was helping to train her, but, regardless of his intentions, she was utterly spellbound. She nodded shyly then turned to busy herself.

So, so young, Rose thought again.

When Edward reappeared from the back of the café, Carlisle was close behind him. Carlisle had a small smile on his lips, which Rose thought must always sit there in varying degrees. She imagined that Carlisle was the kind of person who was always pleasant to be around, always had compliments, was always happy.

"All finished?" he asked as he stopped in front of her, his hands resting comfortably on the counter that separated them.

"I am," Rose answered and handed him the sheet of paper with a lot of false information, but so much hope.

Carlisle took a deep breath and his presumably ever-present smile grew slightly. He scanned the sheet of paper in front of him, and Rose eyed him less modestly than she initially had. His eyes were kind, which she'd noticed before, and his brow and jaw were gentle, but firm. Rose took in his relaxed yet strong stance, his comfortable and steady grip on her application. She briefly wondered what his smile would sound like if it grew into a laugh.

"Well, Ms. Hale," Carlisle returned his gaze to hers and his smile had teet—white, straight, perfect teeth. "If you have a few minutes right now, maybe we could sit down and chat?"

She nodded in agreement, and her own smile grew into a toothy grin as they moved across the seating area to a small table to talk about the beginning of her new life.


"We've been dating for about a month," Bella said. "But my dad doesn't know that we're anything more than co-workers, and his mom would…freak."

"Why would she freak?" Rose asked.

It was Rose's third Sunday shift working with Bella. Over the few weeks of working together they had gotten to know each other during down time and when Rose needed help with big or complicated orders. Carlisle said Rose was a very quick learner, but some of the coffee drinks could be so convoluted and she wanted to make sure she got them just right.

Carlisle's kind words were encouraging to her, but never patronizing. She appreciated his feedback.

"Edward's kind of…" Bella paused and worried her lower lip in thought. "Well, his family is kind of… rich."

Rose felt her eyebrows raise and knew her forehead was probably deeply lined in the way that forces some women get Botox injections, but she left that thought behind her. She concentrated on Bella. She knew how Bella was thinking and feeling; she had been there before. In another time and place.

"Look, Bella," Rose said, setting a paper cup on the counter to pour steamed milk into it. "If his family makes you feel bad about yourself, then you need to speak up now."

How many times had Rose thought of herself as almost perfect because she was lead to believe Royce and his family name were the missing ingredients? So many times.

"They don't make me feel bad about myself," Bella replied reluctantly.

Rose dumped two shots of espresso into the milk, leaving one eyebrow arched over her gaze at Bella to let her friend know she wasn't falling for it. Then she rolled her eyes a little bit before turning and calling out the name on the cup.

"Vickie."

The redhead who came in every Sunday afternoon to sit in a window seat and read from her Kindle for an hour stepped up to the counter and accepted the drink with a half smile. Rose nodded in return then turned to face Bella again.

"All I'm saying is, don't settle, and don't let anyone tell you that you aren't good enough."

Rose rested her hip against the counter and spoke matter-of-factly to Bella. Bella was just a girl, her whole life ahead of her. And maybe Edward wasn't Royce, but Rose would not stand by and watch another girl define herself by a boy or his family. Rose had learned the hard way never to do that again.

"Where's your family?" Bella asked after a few moments of silence between them.

Rose was surprised by the question. No one had asked her a lot of questions about her past. Carlisle, Edward, Bella, even the UPS guy who openly flirted with her and had asked her out the week before, seemed to recognize and acknowledge that she was a private person. Or maybe they all had a sense about her; maybe they all knew better than to ask.

"My parents were killed in a plane crash three years ago, and I was an only child."

Bella gasped and Rose apologized for her bluntness.

"I'm sorry," Rose said. "I didn't mean to be abrupt. I just…"

She swallowed thinking about how much she missed her mom and dad and how Royce barely gave her a minute to breathe let alone grieve after their deaths. She missed them terribly, so she wasn't going to pretend they never existed.

"I'm still working through some of it, I guess."

Bella nodded her head, looking like a friend with compassion and affection in her eyes. Rose realized that as old as she felt, Bella wasn't that much younger than she was—less than 10 years, actually. But Rose's experiences had drained her, not the time that had passed. Still, she longed for the youthful hope and tender trust she saw in Bella's eyes.

"Well…" Bella fidgeted, cracked her knuckles and shifted her weight. "If you wanna talk about it…" She shrugged. "I'm here."

Rose smiled in response, knowing Bella meant what she said and thinking she'd take her up on that offer sooner or later.


Carlisle was sitting and counting money, closing out the register, as he told Rose which columns to write in which numbers. Rose leaned in close because she didn't want to miss a thing. He was training her to close the café on her own, and Rose was looking forward to the freedom and added responsibility.

"It's very simple, really." Carlisle's voice was always clear and calm with patience as its driving force. He was always teaching, coaching, guiding. Rose hadn't felt so present and real—like someone was acknowledging her actual value—since she was a child and her dad was teaching her to tie her shoe then play backgammon then drive a manual transmission.

"First count out your base drawer of three-hundred-dollar—fifty ones, ten fives, ten tens and five twenties," he said. "Then take what's left over and count it out, match it with what's on the sales report and put it all in the safe."

He showed Rosalie the secure pouches to put the money into with the correct slips of paper and where to sign off on all the reports. Together, they locked the cash and the credit card reports in the safe for Carlisle to deposit in the morning when he went to get change from the bank.

"Once you get this all down, we'll work on deposits, okay?" he asked, grinning down at her as she ducked under his arm that held open the door.

"Sounds good," Rose answered.

Rose watched Carlisle lock up the back door. He seemed to be taking a little longer than usual, his movements deliberate and slow. She glanced around the parking lot, wondering if she should even try to ask him for a ride home since he was acting a little off and since she hadn't asked earlier.

Just as she was about to decide to say goodnight and head down the street three blocks to her apartment, Carlisle turned to face her, speaking quickly and calmly.

"Rose, would you like to get some dinner with me?"

Rose blinked twice before finally resetting her gaze on Carlisle's face, looking him in the eye.

"Yes," she answered. "I'd like that very much."

There was a brief moment when Carlisle looked a little bit like Edward and Rose felt a little bit like Bella. Rose liked the feeling and she loved the way Carlisle looked.

"Excellent," he responded. "There's a pizza place around the corner here that you may have seen. It isn't particularly fancy, but the pizza's delicious and they have a great selection of beers-"

Carlisle abruptly cut off his own sentence and looked to Rose in surprise. Dismay may have been a better word to describe his look once Rose understood what he was thinking.

"I'm sorry," he said. "Maybe you don't drink."

"I'd love a beer, actually," Rose said.

Once Carlisle had collected himself and was seemingly much more relaxed, which didn't take long, he extended his elbow in an offer to escort Rose. She lightly wrapped her hand around his bicep, feeling the hardness and the ripple of its muscle under the soft cotton of his shirt.

"We're still wearing our uniforms," Rose noted, and both she and Carlisle laughed as they walked the few blocks to dinner.

The t-shirts that Carlisle had made weren't formal, but they did bear the company logo. His was a gray long sleeved t-shirt, and Rose wore a dark pink—rose, if you will—short sleeved t-shirt. They both thought it was sort of funny that they matched, but were determined to have fun anyway. Before long, they were walking through the door of Doyle's Pizza Place with their Cullen Coffee shirts proudly on display.

"We can just take any seat," Carlisle informed Rose as his eyes casually scanned the few available booths. "How about there?"

He pointed to a small booth for two next to a side window. The view through the glass was of the community garden that many of the downtown residents shared since none of them really had yards of their own.

"Sure," Rose replied with a smile and a good-natured shrug.

"Is there anything you don't like on your pizza?" Carlisle asked.

He pulled two menus out of the caddy that sat at the edge of their chosen table then handed one to Rose. Their fingers brushed, not unintentionally. Rose felt bold for not flinching away from his touch. She felt invigorated by his return action. She felt altogether new from both of the developments.

"I don't love fruit on my pizza, but just about everything else is a thumbs up," Rose answered.

Royce loved Canadian Bacon and pineapple on his pizza. Rose had eaten it for years without hesitation. Now, it made her stomach roil and lurch.

Carlisle laughed at something he seemed to be remembering. Something Rose's comment must've triggered.

"No," he chuckled. "Neither do I. Not since our family dog ate an entire Canadian Bacon and pineapple pizza when I was a kid."

Rose laughed at that. She missed a lot of things lately, and one in particular was her dog, Brandy. She had to give Brandy up when she moved in with Royce.

"Oh, my gosh, did he get sick after?"

"Oh, yeah," Carlisle answered with an emphatic nod of his head. "He threw up the whole next day and… other things."

Carlisle rolled his eyes and grimaced. Rose thought it was kind of cute that he was apprehensive to use the word diarrhea at the dinner table. She appreciated his

discretion.

"But the funniest part was, he spit all the pineapple out into a neat little pile on the back seat of the car," Carlisle continued, laughing again. "My dad was mortified for leaving him alone in the car with our dinner, even for just the three minutes it took him to run into the grocery store for chips and dip. But we all laughed our asses off at the fact that Jake had spit the fruit out."

"That's so typical, isn't it? Dogs are so funny," Rose said.

There was a comfortable silence settling between them as they each looked at the menu. Rose told Carlisle that she would love sun-dried tomatoes on the pizza and he agreed enthusiastically. They also chose olives and feta cheese then skimmed the beer menu.

"I'll take the stout," Rose announced.

"Good choice," Carlisle answered. "I always get the stout here."

Their food was ordered and they chatted, sharing stories of childhood pets and friends. They talked about music and movies, and Rose laughed when Carlisle dripped sauce on the front of his shirt.

"I'm not usually this clumsy, but you seem to have that effect on me," he commented quietly as he soaked his napkin in his water glass to try and circumvent the worst of the damage.

Rose felt herself blush pleasantly. She also felt her brain work extra fast to arrive at the conclusion that sooner or later, she would have to tell Carlisle everything about herself. It didn't take a genius to realize her story could potentially destroy any trust and bonds she and Carlisle had formed.

They finished their pizza and beers, and Rose thanked Carlisle when he insisted on paying the tab.

"It's my treat," he said, tucking his debit card into the plastic pocket of the bill folio. "I invited you. You can pay when you invite me."

Rose liked the sound of that—of going out with him again.

"Okay, then."

She was totally unable to contain the grin that mirrored his.


"That isn't a word, Carlisle, take it off the board."

"Xi is a perfectly valid word. It's in the dictionary. See?"

Carlisle flipped open the worn out dictionary that sat on his kitchen table. It was Saturday night, and the fourth weekend in a row he and Rose had closed up the coffee shop, gone for pizza, then headed to one of their apartments for a rousing game of Scrabble.

"That's ridiculous. It's just one of those words that no one ever uses, except when they're playing Scrabble and they don't know what else to do with their high scoring X."

Carlisle laughed and closed the dictionary. He played the word Xi every single weekend, and Rose always complained.

"Seriously, have you ever said the word Xi unless you were arguing that it's a valid word to use during Scrabble?"

Carlisle laughed harder.

"Point taken," he said. "Do you want me to take it off? Because I will, but then you have to promise not to use Zed anymore. Same principle."

Rose scrunched her nose and narrowed her eyes.

"I had an uncle named Zed."

Carlisle's laugh was revived by her playful fib.

"Okay, okay…" He held his hands up in surrender. "Feel free to honor your uncle, but Xi stays."

Rose rolled her eyes.

"Fine," she conceded.

They had opened a bottle of wine, and the bottle was almost empty. Rose was intentionally trying to relax herself for the one thing she wanted to accomplish before she left Carlisle's apartment that night.

They had grown to be more and more comfortable with each other physically. They'd kissed several times at length. They'd even stripped down to their underwear and worked themselves into quite a frenzy. But something always stopped them. There was a thin, but obtrusive virtual barrier between them that Rose was determined to do away with once and for all.

Off of Carlisle's not-so-original, but high-scoring word, Rose played the word "identity". Her fingers shook slightly when she realized where she was going with it. She was trying to boost her confidence, not give Carlisle a sign, yet she felt the energy in the room shift when her word was complete.

"Well played," Carlisle said, recording Rose's score. "Y is on a double letter square and that's a triple word."

"Thanks," Rose answered, swallowing heavily.

He pursed his lips and scrutinized his rack of letters while Rose watched and waited for just the right moment. After two more exchanges of play, she realized she had to just take a plunge. There was no right moment.

"Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be someone else?" she asked.

"Hm," he answered, clearly confused by her question, but also pre-occupied by his letter tiles. "Uhh… I don't what you mean?"

"I mean…"

Rose paused to reconsider exactly what she did mean. She thought about what she had done, what she had orchestrated and executed—secretly taken money from her and her husband's joint checking account, illegally changed her name, then escaped from Hell. But had she really become someone else?

"Well, let's say your life is… less than satisfying."

"Okay," Carlisle answered, refocusing his full attention entirely on Rose.

"Would you leave it behind? Become someone new?"

Carlisle thought quietly for a few minutes, a look of concentration on his face, then he took a deep breath before he answered.

"I think if I had already tried to change things, to make them more satisfying, and it still didn't work out, I would consider starting over, yes," he answered finally, but was still open to the discussion. "Is that what you mean?"

Rose thought about all the ways she had tried to make things more satisfying with Royce. She remembered slowly coming awake with the recognition and joy of her short pregnancy, feeling fierce and hopeful. She recalled the utter devastation after her miscarriage and the subsequent realization that no amount of patience, diligence, or obedience would ever stop Royce from hurting her or eventually killing her.

"Yes," she answered.

Carlisle eyed her cautiously and absently fiddled with his tiles.

"You know you can tell me anything, don't you, Rose?"

She nodded, because she knew that Carlisle was a kind and compassionate man. She knew he wouldn't judge her.

"My name isn't Rosalie Hale," she said.

Her voice was quiet and calm, confident. This was the thing that was standing between them, preventing them from becoming more. Rose didn't know where they were going or ending up, but in the two months she had known Carlisle and worked with him she had felt more whole, more lively, more invigorated that she ever had before. Whatever they were to become, she didn't want anything to taint that or stand in their way.

"With the help of a distant cousin, I changed my identity and left my husband."

Rose began at the end, or rather at the present, and told Carlisle her story. He sat with an open face that Rose imagined was a reflection of his heart and mind.

"My name was Carrie King. My husband was Royce. We were married for four years. He abused me both verbally and physically."

Carlisle gasped then got up from his seat across the table from Rose to sit closer to her, to gently touch her, and to listen more intently.

"My parents died less than a year after we married, and I kind of just withdrew. Not that Royce was ever a decent human being, but things definitely escalated after my parents were gone."

Rose basked in the feeling of support and understanding coming from Carlisle.

"I just never recognized his abuse for what it was until it was too late. I started realizing it wasn't normal when I told him I was pregnant and he freaked out, started screaming… He would go out with his friends then come home drunk and say some of the most terrible things… always too rough."

Carlisle was so tense beside her, but she didn't feel threatened. She told him about the night Royce put her in the hospital and she lost the baby. Carlisle pulled her into his arms and held her. He said things that were muffled by their tight embrace, but no less comforting in their sentiment.

"You're very brave," he said when they finally pulled apart enough to speak clearly. He held her face in his hands, and she felt the barrier begin to dissipate.

"I had no other choice," Rose answered.

Sunday morning Rosalie woke in the bed of a wonderful man. He was warm, kind, generous, and smart. He was also incredibly good-looking, and Rosalie wondered where he had run off to until she heard him whistling from outside the bedroom.

While they hadn't had sex that night, the path had been cleared. And Rose was growing even more impatient with waiting for one of them to spontaneously make the first real move.

As disappointed as she had been that he had gotten out of bed and left her there, she was equally pleased to see him in the kitchen shirtless and digging through the refrigerator.

"Good morning," she greeted.

Carlisle turned, looking momentarily startled then slightly disappointed. He closed the refrigerator and approached her with a carton of eggs in his hand. Before he reached her, he set the carton on the counter so that he could take her in both arms.

"I wanted to bring you breakfast in bed," he muttered in to her hair, kissing her temple and letting his hands wander tentatively.

"And I want you in bed," she replied, kissing his neck and matching his roving hands, but with a bit more certainty.

"Yeah?" He grinned.

"Yeah," she answered with a light nip at his jaw.

They kissed and caressed and danced around the room until Rose was settled with her back against the wall. Carlisle braced his hands on either side of her body, one palm beside her head and the other fisted at her hip. She stood still, trapped by his presence. He simply breathed her in, his nose running the delicate line of her jaw and lingering at her ear.

She thought she should be panicking. The last time a man had her in this position the outcome was a bad one. Intellectually, Rose knew nothing bad could come from being with this man. Carlisle would never overpower her or take anything against her will.

She raised her hand to touch his bare chest and used her other hand to pull him close. His body warmed her, and she could feel his erection pressing into the low curve of her belly.

Rose couldn't recall the last time she consciously wanted to open up and take someone inside, accept nourishment and comfort from someone else. She twisted her neck and licked his throat, from Adam's apple to the cut of his jaw. He exhaled and dragged his hand from the wall beside her head and into her hair.

They moved again to cross the room toward the large sectional couch in the center of Carlisle's living space. The backs of his legs finally hit the seat and he dropped to the cushions, bringing Rose with him. She fell over him, clumsily straddling his hips and ghosting her hands over his shoulders.

His grip on her hips was not quite demanding, much more intense than he'd ever been with her. She could feel the electricity humming through his body and hers. He was so amped up, but trying so hard to be careful.

"Rose…" He hesitated and groaned as her fingers grazed his bare nipples and she pulled his earlobe between her lips. "Are you sure?"

She slowly rotated her hips, grinding over him, then leaned forward, greedy for another kiss. She kissed his mouth, licking and sucking as his fingers lightly traced the waistband of her cotton pants. He tickled the skin where her top had ridden up, exposing the small of her back.

She shivered before pushing away from him slightly. He looked dazed until she crossed her arms down in front of her hips and clutched the hem of her top. Before he could think, her breasts were bouncing bare and free before his eyes. She arched her back, tossing the garment to the floor as she took a deep breath. She turned then to look down into his eyes.

He was watching her every movement, hands resting lightly on the tops of her thighs. She reached up to cup her own breasts and to toy with her hardened nipples.

She was blissfully aware of the reality, where she sat willingly in a man's lap, naked from the waist up, tempting him with her body. She loved how it felt to know that he wanted her and cared for her. It turned her on to feel that he was hard for her. It felt good to know she was driving this—that she was in charge.

Rose reached for Carlisle's face with one hand, pulling him to her chest, guiding his warm mouth to one of her breasts. He moaned around her nipple in response. His hands slowly moved to her hips as he swirled his tongue around the dark and tight skin in the center of her breast. He watched in fascination as her hand disappeared down the front of her pants.

"Oh…" she breathed.

One hand tightened on his shoulder as her other hand worked inside her own pants. Carlisle continued to lavish attention on her nipples, alternating his mouth

with his fingers, as he watched her come quickly in his lap.

She felt like she was floating as she rested her head on his shoulder, and he continued to kiss her neck and cheeks.

"Thank you," Rose said between kisses. "You're so patient. But I want you now."

"Not to sound cheesy," Carlisle said as he shifted his position on the couch and turned to lie Rose on her back. "But thank you. You're beautiful."

He bowed his head to take one nipple at a time into his mouth, working her pants down over her hips.

"And so sexy, I'm dying."

Rose groaned and lifted her hips to help Carlisle get her pants the rest of the way off. Before she could settle back onto the cushion, his hands were on her hips and thighs, holding her open, and slipping a finger inside.

She was still sensitive from her orgasm, but she wanted him to fill her up. She wanted him to feel good too.

"Do you have any condoms?" Rose asked.

Carlisle was gone and back again in a flash. As he climbed between her legs on the couch, he opened the packet and rolled on the latex.

He smiled at her adoringly and slowly covered her with his body. She felt him at her entrance and opened her legs a little wider then wrapped them around his hips. When she felt him enter her, she almost laughed with overwhelming joy, but realized Carlisle may not appreciate her laughing during their first time.

First time, she thought. Means there'll be a next time.

The thought that this wasn't their last time to kiss and feel each other brought a renewed surge of bliss to Rose's heart. She had emerged from dejection, misery, and gloom to certain happiness.

Rosalie and Carlisle made love that morning, not just for the first time, but for the first in a long life full of devotion. They made love in the ocean, on mountaintops, and in the desert. They traveled the world, built a family and a home, and they lived happily until the end of time.

End notes: Thank you to Einfach_mich for the pre-read and support and to MsKathy for the red pen. I love you both!