Chapter 1 - Engaged
"I'll see you tomorrow night." I said as I softly planted a kiss on Bella's forehead.
"I can't wait to be able to go with you on your hunting trips. Then you won't get rid of me ever again." She stretched to touch her lips to mine before she made a face at the big, solid, new car she then stepped into.
"Neither can I." I answered smiling a brilliant smile at her as I closed the door. The corners of my mouth twitched further upwards as I watched Bella drive very slowly away from our house and up the driveway to the main road. The engine roared just a little louder then really necessary.
When she, about two months ago, finally agreed to marry me, she agreed to quite a lot of my wishes in the heat of the moment before thinking about it twice. Some of these agreements were taking a credit card to one of my bank accounts, letting me pay the tuition for Dartmouth and allowing me to replace here ancient Chevy Truck once it would breathe out its last breath and make room for a vehicle a little more up to date.
Of course, Bella was aware that her concept of an appropriate car and mine weren't really identical. Then, one morning, soon after we made our compromise, the day had finally come. Her truck wouldn't start. Needless to say there was a little helping along on my part involved. Naturally Bella suspected as much but never said a word about it.
When I introduced her to the replacement, her whole body froze and her lips tightened. I had taken her to our garage that accommodated outrageous automobiles such as Rosalie's BMW M3, Emmett's offroad version of a Jeep Wrangler, Alice's Porsche Carrera 911 Turbo and my Aston Martin Vanquish as well as slightly more inconspicuous cars like Carlisle's Mercedes S55 and my Volvo.
Even in the company of these, the glossy black Mercedes Guardian seemed out of place. It was hard enough to get my hands on it since the model wasn't available in America. Carlisle had to pull a few strings with some acquaintances of his to even be able to get it as a loan for the weeks until the wedding.
After we would be married and I would have fulfilled my end of our bargain by changing her into what I still considered a soulless monster, I would return the Guardian and I would get to unveil the now covered high-end sports car that was waiting in the farthest corner of the garage to make its big appearance. Not that I really expected Bella to turn into a car enthusiast by becoming immortal. But, at least, she would almost certainly prefer a fast car like the rest of us did.
Until then, anyway, she needed as much protection as possible. Since my dream had come true and Bella had accepted my proposal, I had done a lot of thinking and planning on how I could ensure, nothing could happen to her before she would finally become my wife and after her change virtually indestructible.
Bella, as prone to any kind of accident as she was, would somehow manage to have herself at least injured bad enough to delay the wedding. Or even worse, something could still take her away from me so shortly before I would get all I ever dreamed of. I would not be able go on if that happened. So I decided that the least I could do, was providing her with an armored car. With Bella's luck, you couldn't really rule out the possibility of her being run over by a tank.
After Bella had taken a deep breath and her eyes had done a short examination of the car, she finally found her voice again.
"Well, it's not that a hadn't known you would embarrass me to the bone. So, it could have been worse than just a Mercedes sedan."
She clenched her teeth and really tried to come to terms with her new means of transportation.
"So, you can relax, now that you know it is just that." I had to smile inwardly at her evaluation of the missile-proof vehicle in front of her. Of course, I hadn't expected Bella to know what kind of car this really was.
And all the more, I was glad she didn't know what clientele usually drove those. I was sure, Bella didn't see herself in line with diplomats in conflict areas, smugglers of arms or drug-lords who would normally need an armoured car for their protection.
"The upside is, that I won't have to drive it for a long time though."
I smiled a little smugly. „Are you sure, this is the worst I can do?" leaving room for her imagination to run a little wild. And again, her face fought hard to conceal the shock.
"Anyway, noone I know will see me in the 'after-car'. I really have to drive this one around in town."
Since the demise of her truck, Bella tried to avoid driving around too much. She tried to limit her trips to the absolutely necessary. I hadn't really intended to take away her freedom like that but, on the other hand, her safety was too important to me to take any risks, even more now, that our wedding was only days away.
I hope, she will not throw a fit again. Is it too much to ask that she try on the dress without looking like I was slowly torturing her to death? I wish she could see that in the end she'll thank me for all this.
Alice's thoughts interrupted my daydreaming. She appeared in the door with two garment bags over her right arm. A black one that supposedly contained Charlie's tux and a white one that could only be holding the wedding dress.
Alice was very careful around me with everything concerning Bella's gown. She neither thought about it nor had anyone besides her or Bella ever seen it. In her visions and plans of the big day she always changed the dress from one picture to the next.
So I wasn't surprised to see that Alice had decided to take the dress to Charlie's house for the final fitting instead of having Bella try it on here where someone could intrude at any time.
"When are you guys leaving for your trip?" Alice asked when she saw me standing there still looking up the driveway minutes after Bella had driven out of sight.
"In about an hour. Emmett isn't home from his errand with Esme yet." I pretended not to know what they were doing. That they were preparing a very special wedding present for Bella and me which they planned to give to us after we'd return from our honeymoon.
"So, I guess you'll be gone when I come back and you won't get in my for the rest of the weekend. There's so much to be done and so little time left."
I was still anxious to leave Bella even for the shortest amount of time but hunting was a necessity we had to perform. But today there was something else that was keeping me high-strung. I was about to ask my brothers about the act of physical love.
Don't be too nervous. They'll tease you about it, of course, but they'll be able to help, too.
Alice's thoughts didn't really help much. They only embarrassed me further. I wasn't used to talking about matters that private with anyone besides Bella. But I had to overcome my inhibitions since I had promised Bella that once we were married, we would finally be together in every way.
Bella was worried that the way she was attracted to me would change once she would be a vampire.
So there was the one thing she insisted on experiencing while she was still human. In a moment of weakness, and to be honest, because I really wanted it too, I promised her, we would try.
I still wasn't sure if it would be possible at all. Although the monster in me was all but tamed, there was still the distant lure of her blood. Nowadays I was sure I would forever and under any circumstances be able to resist acting on that instinct. But there was still the matter of my superhuman strength. In only one moment of being unfocused I could hurt her unintentionally or even crush her to death.
So I needed to get as much information about the whole matter as was possible. I had to know what to expect when we would eventually be with each other as husband and wife.
Alice winked at me once, sang a short goodbye and then danced around the house to reappear only moments later in her yellow Porsche. She was out of sight faster than I could walk up the steps to the door.
As I sat on a rock watching Emmett wrestle with a grizzly I remembered the evening we told Charlie about our engagement …
I had told Bella that I didn't care about the way we would get married. The only thing that mattered to me was that she really belonged to only me and I to her. I had actually been quite sure that she would want us to elope to Las Vegas for the ceremony and tell no one that anything had happened at all.
All the more she had surprised me when she announced that she had decided to have a traditional wedding planned and executed by Alice and that it was time to let her parents know about it all.
We were sitting in her father's living room waiting for him to come home from the police station. Bella was sitting next to me on the loveseat, fumbling with the ring on the third finger of her left hand. My silent heart jumped a little at the sight of my mother's ring on Bella's finger. How long had I been dreaming about placing it there before, that afternoon, I finally got to slip it on her finger to leave it there permanently.
"Stop fidgeting, Bella. Please, try to remember that you're not confessing to a murder here."
"Easy for you to say."
I heard Charlie's cruiser drive up the street and park in front of the house. When Bella heard him, too, I had noticed her heartbeat speed up even more.
"Calm down, Bella."
Charlie banged the door against the wall and Bella winced as if she had been electrocuted.
"Hey, Charlie," I greeted him from the living room.
Great! Just the welcome I dreamed of.
"No!" Bella tried to stop me.
"What?" I whispered back not understanding what she was getting at.
"Wait till he hangs his gun up!"
Her anxiety about Charlie attacking me made me chuckle.
Charlie came into the living room, his expression strained when he spotted us sitting together. Seems like they're up to something. Give him a break. You promised. How bad can it be after all?
"Hey, kids. What's up?"
To give Bella a little more time, clearly, she didn't know how to start, I began the conversation calmly. "We'd like to talk to you. We have some good news."
It's gonna be really, really bad.
Chalie's face turned suspicious. ""Good news?", he snarled and turned his eyes straight on Bella.
"Have a seat, Dad." I can't imagine, anything ever followed these words that was considered good news by the recipient. Charlie's thoughts let me assume that he was in line with me on this. His stare went from Bella to me while he took a very uncomfortable seat across from us.
"Don't get worked up, Dad," Bella continued. "Everything's okay."
Okay wasn't really the word I would have used but I was aware that Bella was under a lot of stress right now and I was glad that she finally seemed to start telling her father.
Charlie wasn't calm anymore, it was dawning on him that he quite certainly wouldn't like whatever would come next.
"Sure it is, Bella sure it is. If everything is so great, then why are you sweating bullets?"
"I'm not sweating," she answered him a little too hasty to ease his concern.
Bella flinched toward me while she cleared her forehead of wetness in response to Charlie's accusation.
In that second I could hear the penny drop in his mind.
"You're pregnant! You're pregnant, aren't you?" He stared at me while the words burst out.
Shoot him! Now!
"No! Of course I'm not!" I could hear an unsaid I told you so in Bella's silent mind as clear as if I had been able to really read it. I felt a little twitch of regret that I tried to disregard at once.
Since she was probably the worst liar in the world, Charlie immediately knew that she was telling the truth. His expression relaxed a little. "Oh. Sorry."
"Apology accepted." Bella said a little stiffly.
Silence followed. Bella looked up at me her face terrified. Feeling that her courage hat left her, I smiled at her warmly and prepared myself for the announcement.
"Charlie, I realize that I've gone about this out of order. Traditionally, I should have asked you first. I mean no disrespect, but since Bella has already said yes and I don't want to diminish her choice in the matter, instead of asking you for her hand, I'm asking you for your blessing. We're getting married, Charlie. I love her more than anything in the world, more than my own life, and – by some miracle – she loves me that way, too. Will you give us your blessing?"
For me getting married was the logical consequence of being in love, so I was totally confident during my little speech.
Charlie's face turned dark red while his eyes were fixed on my mother's ring on Bella's finger. She stood up worried about her father's state of health. Holding her hand I whispered "Give him a minute." A long pause followed while I listened to Charlie's mind working to come to terms with what he had just heard.
They're too young. She's too young. Why would they be in such a hurry when there's no baby on the way? Now I get all the talking about her mother and me the other day. Anyway, at least it's better than being pregnant. I guess there's nothing I can do to stop this.
"Guess I'm not that surprised. Knew I'd have to deal with something like this soon enough." Although Charlie's words sounded like a grouch I heard Bella exhale next to me.
"You sure about this?" he interrogated her.
"I'm one hundred percent sure about Edward," she answered with all the conviction she was capable of and since she didn't have to use the words 'marriage', 'wedding' or anything along that line, she really meant it. Charlie immediately detected that and continued the questioning.
"Getting married, though? What's the rush?"
The truth was that Bella was terrified of turning nineteen in September while I physically stayed seventeen for all eternity. To make sure I would put a hold to her aging by turning her into a vampire, she had had to accept my condition of getting married first. But of course this reason was nothing we could explain to Charlie. So I decided to tell him a slightly more comprehensible reason.
"We're going away to Dartmouth together in the fall, Charlie. I'd like to do that, well, the right way. It's how I was raised."
And really, somewhere in there was my real reason for all this. I loved Bella and where I came from that meant you vow to cherish and care for the other one in front of all the people who matter to you. That's what I wanted as soon as possible. I wouldn't mind Bella staying human for a few more years.
Charlie pulled one corner of his mouth up.
What now? I can't argue with this. "Live together for some time first" is nothing a dad can say.
With a frown he mumbled "Knew this was coming."
Then a thought crossed his mind, no more than one word and his face changed expressions. All worries left and he almost smiled. Renée
Bella was alarmed by Charlie's change. "Dad?" she asked afraid. My face must have shown my surprise when I understood the meaning behind Charlie's idea.
"Ha!" he burst out like a child who found the solution to a difficult math problem making Bella cringe. "Ha, ha, ha!"
Charlie started laughing almost like a mad man. I had to keep myself from joining in his laughter since he was sure he would get his way without having to say one more word about it.
Bella looked slightly lost when she realized that I knew what was going on.
"Okay, fine," Charlie managed to get out in between chuckles. "Get married. But..."
Bella became impatient. "But what?"
"But you have to tell your mom! I'm not saying one word to Renée! That's all yours!"
She'll set your head straight.
He couldn't stop laughing for quite some time.
Bella was scared to death by the prospect of having to tell her mom. Since I'd had gotten a good look into Renée's mind in April, I anticipated that Charlie might be wrong in his assumption that Renée would 'set Bella's head straight' and that Bella's news would not come as a surprise to her.
Unfortunately I couldn't help Bella with telling her mom because she had to do it over the phone and it would have been rude if I would have taken the phone out of her hand to talk to Renée myself.
So I stood behind Bella, arms around her waist, for moral support. Again, she was almost too afraid to get the words out. When she finally did, she couldn't have been more surprised by her mother's reaction. Renée was not surprised by the content of Bella's announcement but by its timing. Apparently she had been waiting for us to make it official since April.
Bella was too surprised to relax. Even when her mom assured her that she considered our decision to be right, Bella seemed thunderstruck. For as long as she could remember Renée hat always warned her about getting married too early or getting married at all. So, when she actually congratulated us now, Bella wasn't sure if her hearing was working right.
Renée called Esme the day after to be a part of the planning committee.
Charlie could not believe Renée's reaction either. He felt cheated, having relied on her to be the one to talk us out of our plans or to scare Bella enough to make her go back on her word. But all that worked to Bella's advantage because Charlie was not angry with her but with Renée.
Brooding again? Thought everything was finally kittens and puppies.
Emmett had found me deep in thought when he was finished draining his bear.
I let go of my memories and concentrated on the conversation that had to follow now. I had not figured out how to start, yet. The topic wasn't one either Emmett or Jasper had ever heard me talk about.
Jasper walked out of the woods and towards us right in that moment. So, I figured, I might as well talk to both of them at once and get it over with.
"This isn't easy for me but I need your help." Emmett raised one eyebrow at me in expectation of what was coming. Jasper sat down beside me, waiting. His calm let me think that Alice maybe hinted at what I had to discuss.
"What's hard for you? Everything comes to you naturally any other time." Emmett laughed.
"Emmett, really. Please, just listen and try to take it seriously." I paused for a short moment organizing my thoughts. Sensing my agitation, Jasper sent a wave of calmness my way.
"When Bella accepted my proposal, she had one condition. Something she wants to do while she's still human. After she had heard all the talk about the newborn year and the crazy blood lust and all that brings along with it, she was, well, afraid about losing a part of herself in the process that might not come back to her, or, if it does, it might take years for her to feel like herself again. Of course, I know that it's not really like that but she won't let it go..."
"Edward, stop beating about the bush and spit it out. What does she want?" Emmett's impatience broke through. Jasper just waited.
I took a deep breath, if I could have blushed, my face would have been dark purple now, and choked out the word "Sex."
Emmett's expression became amused.
Don't get how you could go on without either that or exploding spontaneously, anyway. Virgins.
Emmett's thoughts were, of course, mocking.
Jasper looked like a suspicion of his had just been confirmed.
You know this is next to impossible? But, well, you defied impossible many times before.
"Have you thought that through?" Feeling the insecurity and anxiety I felt, Jasper's thoughts and words were more serious than Emmett's.
"Yes and no. I promised her I would try, since we both know it won't be easy. And I'm not worried that I might kill her for her blood. I'm worried that I might lose focus when I get distracted and hurt her in the process. So I need to know what to expect, what it is like to be with a woman in that way."
Emmett's thoughts were bantering and compassionate at the same time. Jasper was working on what to say exactly and how to phrase it.
After a pause, Emmett was the first to speak. "Wow, man, what a question. Well, I would say you have to experience it to know it, but I think, that's the whole point here."
"It's like nothing else. The only thing that might come close is drinking human blood," Jasper chimed in.
I remembered how it had felt to taste Bella's blood after James had bitten her last year. There could be no other blood any more potent. I remembered the euphoria, the intoxication it gave me. Surely, nothing could come close to that.
"It's the closest you can ever get to another person. It's totally overwhelming," Emmett offered.
"You stop thinking logically and just act on instinct. At some point you lose yourself and become one with her," Jasper was thinking about Alice now. But the pictures I got to see were far from being distasteful, I saw love and adoration.
"It's the best thing!"
What I could see in Emmett's head should have been censored. I never wanted to see Rosalie like that. So I did my best to shut his thoughts out.
"So, anything helpful?" Emmett asked. I thought about it for a while. What their descriptions had made me realize, was, that I wanted it badly, and, that it was almost impossible.
"Do any of you have any advise on how I can make this work?"
Silence followed. This time Jasper spoke first.
"Be as gentle as you can. Try not to give in to the urge to increase the intensity. Try to remember at any moment that Bella is fragile and that you love her. And if it becomes too much, don't hesitate to stop. That's all the advise I have to offer."
"I couldn't do it," was all Emmett said. After a moment he added "but I'm sure, you can."
I wasn't sure if his faith in me was justified.
The mood lightened a bit when Emmett smiled a mischievous smile.
"So, shall we now teach you how to be any good at it? I mean, Rose never complains."
I playfully attacked Emmett to put the discussion to an end when we all at once caught the scent of two mountain lions.
"Let's do what we came here for." I said and took of chasing after my prey.