A/N: I don't own this. We all know who does.

Thanks to goldentemptress, BellaEdwardlover1991, and bugsmama07 for pre-reading this. :)

Thanks to MariahajilE for keeping me in line and fixing my brain spewings. :)


Chapter Thirty-Four

After filling our children with chicken nuggets and french fries, and then letting them play to their heart's content in the playcenter, Edward and I decided we'd had enough of McDonald's. The spark that was constantly igniting between us was burning hotter and brighter than ever, and I was ready to get the kids home and to bed so that I could collect on some of the kisses I'd bought. Edward seemed to be on the same page as I was, and we hurried the kids into the car so we could get home.

"Daddy, can I sleep over at Auntie Bella's tonight?" Emily asked as we drove. Edward and I both looked at each other, realizing exactly what that would mean. He watched me closely, and when I nodded to him, he smiled and told Emily that it was fine if she stayed the night.

Once we were back to my house, Edward left to go grab a few of the things Emily would need for the night, and I may have whispered to him that he was welcome to stay, too. I knew I wasn't ready to have sex with him, yet, but I was ready for more than just kissing. The emotions that had exploded in me when I saw all those women lining up for him nearly made me crazy with the desire to mark him as mine. I knew to truly accomplish that, I'd need more than just a few minutes on the couch while the kids slept in their bedrooms.

Emily found an extra pair of her pajamas that she had left in Mckenna's room. I was kind of thankful for them, since it meant I could get the kids to bed before Edward got back. I promised Emily that he'd bring her pillow, special blanket, and dolly in to her when he returned, but she was so tired already that I knew she'd be asleep before that happened. Not wanting to miss out on the sleepover fun, Collin made himself a bed on the floor of Mckenna's room, and I wished them all a good night after kissing and hugging each of them.

I quietly made my way to my bedroom, hoping I still had a few minutes before Edward returned. There was something I needed to do before he got back. Sitting down on my bed, I looked at the beautiful ring that was still on my left ring finger – my wedding ring from Alec. I let out a deep breath as I recalled the day he placed it there.

The wedding ceremony was over, and we were en route to the reception. We giggled and kissed in the back of the limo as we made our way to the reception hall where the party was happening. After a few minutes, he laced his fingers with mine and pulled my hand up to his lips.

"Baby, this ring means serious stuff, okay?" he said as the playful smile faded from his face.

"You think?" I teased, then watched as he stared at it for several long seconds.

"Promise me – right here and right now, just the two of us – that this ring will stay on your finger until death parts us."

"What? I already promised that and in front of all those people in the church," I told him.

"I know, but it's just us now. Promise me, Bella. Promise that this ring will stay on your finger every day for the rest of my life."

I smiled. "Don't you mean every day for the rest of my life?"

"No, every day for the rest of mine. What if I go first, Bella? Eventually, death is gonna part us. I want to know that for the rest of my days with you, you'll love me and be with me. And I want you to know that for the rest of your days with me, I'll love you and be with you," he said softly.

"Alec, it's our wedding day. I don't really wanna talk about this, okay? That's a conversation for another day."

He nodded. "I know, but just promise me that for the rest of my life, you'll wear my ring."

"I promise," I told him.

"I promise you, too. I'll wear your ring for the rest of your life. We're only bound until death, Bella. That's all the time we have. Let's make the most of it, okay? No regrets. Not now and not later, when we're apart."

"No regrets," I whispered, then kissed him - my husband, who I would love for the rest of my life, while wearing his ring for the rest of his - tenderly.

I hadn't ever thought much about the things Alec had said that day or the way he'd said it, but as I sat on our bed, staring at my ring, I knew what he was saying. I didn't have to feel guilty about moving on. He was gone. We'd been happy and had a good life together, and I had no regrets. I knew deep in my heart that Alec would want me to make the most of my life without him. And what I'd said to Edward before was true – this thing we were embarking on was about me and him, not Alec or Jane. Only Edward and Bella.

A few tears slid down my cheeks as I pushed the ring off of my finger. I held it in my fingertips, letting the light glimmer off the stones, sparkling and pretty. Bringing it to my lips, I kissed it lightly as my eyelids slid closed.

"I did what I promised. I wore your ring every day for the rest of your life," I said to the empty room. "And I'll love you every day for the rest of mine."

Getting up, I walked across the room and opened the jewelry box that lay on my dresser. I picked up the chain that held Alec's ring and unclasped it, letting my ring join his on the thin gold rope. Reclasping it, I gently placed it back in the box and closed the lid, looking at myself in the mirror in front of me as I did. I reached up to wipe away the tears that were still on my cheeks, seeing the indention in my skin from the ring that I'd worn for over eight years. It would take time for my skin to recover, just like it was taking time for my heart to recover, but I knew that it eventually would. And if things went the way I was hoping, someday – maybe – there would be a new ring to take the spot left vacant by Alec's ring, just like there was a new man filling the hole in my heart. I would always love Alec, and I would always miss him. I would always be grateful for the life he'd given me and for the children we'd had together. But it was time for me to let myself explore something with Edward. It was time to try and live again.

As I walked out of the room, I heard Edward's car pull into the driveway and my heart skipped a beat. Taking a deep breath, I hurried to the front door and waited for him, smiling as he walked up the sidewalk with two bags in his arms.

"Where are the kids?" he asked once he was inside the house.

"I put them to bed. Emily found a pair of pajamas that she'd left here, so she's wearing them. But I told her you'd bring her things to her when you got back."

He smiled. "Okay, hang on," he said as he made his way to Mckenna's bedroom. I waited on the sofa in the family room, and Edward was soon back and sitting next to me. "Are you sure about me staying? I don't have to, and even if I do, that doesn't mean anything has to happen."

I nodded, reaching over to take his hand in mine. "I want you to stay. I'm not ready for sex, yet, but I wouldn't mind laying with you for a while. Maybe just talking and being close, you know? And I have about $367 worth of kissing to do."

He smiled and squeezed my hand a bit. "Thank you for that. I'll pay you back if you want."

"I don't want your money, Cullen."

His laugh was soft and sincere. "Good. But please know that I had no idea Lauren was gonna do that. She told me it would be little girls and just kissing on the cheeks, like I told you."

"I know," I said. "I heard you talking to her, but I'm not surprised by what she did. That's just the kinda person she is."

"I was really proud that you said what you did today. And I'm sorry I didn't say something to her before you got there. I was trying to think of something that wasn't all curse words. There were a lot of kids around, you know? I didn't want to cause a huge scene or anything."

Smiling, I leaned my head on his shoulder. "I know. I guess you got yourself a front row seat for the crap I've been living with the past couple of months."

"Yeah, I totally understand why you were so upset over that birthday party thing and then the whole Easter deal. I can't believe women are so catty toward each other." Edward was a good guy, and I knew he probably hadn't spent a lot of time around women since he worked in the construction field and there wasn't a high female population there.

"It felt good to tell her off, you know? I probably could have gone a lot farther, but with Emily right there watching and the other kids there, I tried to keep it reined in a little. I didn't want to embarrass them too much," I told him.

"You did good. It was hot. Trust me. Seeing you all worked up like that... It did things to me."

His voice was teasing but low and gritty at the same time.

"So, about that money I spent today," I quietly said. "She made it sound like you'd do crazy and obscene things for twenty bucks. What'll you do for a hundred?" I asked, trailing my fingers up and down his thigh.

"Well, a hundred bucks could buy you a whole lotta kissing. That's for sure. Or maybe it could buy you kissing on more than just your lips."

"Hmmm," I hummed out loud. "Would my neck be one of those areas?" I asked, turning my head so that my face was pressing into his neck.

"Yeah, that could be one."

"What else?"

"Well, I think I'd have to move some clothes to get to the other areas," he whispered before tilting his head enough that he could line up his lips with mine and kiss me. I let my free hand glide up his arm to his neck and then tangle into his hair. As we sat on the sofa, kissing and shifting in an effort to get closer, he pulled away.

"Can we go somewhere?" he asked as his chest heaved with his heavy breaths.

"Yeah. The guest room."

After a couple more kisses, he took my hand and pulled me up behind him, leading me toward the guest room. It was the room I'd slept in right after Alec's death, but I hadn't spent the night in it for a long while. Once we were inside, he pushed the door shut and locked it.

"I really don't want the kids walking in on us. Is this okay?" he asked. I could tell he was nervous about what I'd say, but he didn't need to be.

"I'm okay with it."

As we stood in the room staring at each other, he let out a long breath. "No sex, right?" he asked.

"Not yet."

"All right."

"Soon," I softly said. "Just not tonight."

When he took both of my hands in his it was only a moment before he held my left hand in front of his face. "Where's your ring?" he asked, then looked up to meet my eyes.

"I took it off tonight. I'm ready to move on."

"Are you sure? I'm not pushing you, Bella."

"I'm sure," I told him, smiling at how worried he was. He didn't need to be. "I know what I want for my life. I want you, Edward."

He stepped forward and then wrapped his arms around me. His lips were on mine within an instant of my body being held against his. His kisses were slow and sweet. There was no rush, no hurry to them. Our lips moved together perfectly, with our tongues sliding and rubbing against each other. The quiet moans coming from us both combined with the sound of our kisses filled the room, and after several minutes, I felt Edward pulling me toward the bed. He sat down, standing me between his open knees. Breaking our kiss, his hands reached for the shirt I was wearing over my tank top, and he pulled it up and off me, dropping it on the floor next to us. The room was dark, only lit up by the glow of a street light outside the window. Everything was a deep golden gray color, and I watched Edward as he leaned forward and kissed my still-clothed stomach.

His eyes soon looked up to meet mine, and I could see the question in them. Without words, I reached down to grab his hands that were resting on my hips, moving them to the hem of my tank top and helping him to lift it up. He got the hint, and then both of my shirts were resting on the floor, and I was standing before him in only my bra and shorts.

"You're so beautiful," he said, kissing me lightly all over the exposed skin of my stomach and chest.

I was grateful for the shadows in the room and for the patterns caused by the window coverings. I had stretch marks from my two pregnancies. They weren't horrible, by any means, but I'd spent enough time with Jane to know that she didn't have any from when she carried Emily. There were several differences between my body and Jane's, and I hoped Edward would be okay with them.

Jane had been about three inches taller than I was. She was a little thinner, more up and down without the softer curves I had. I wasn't overweight but just had a different body type than she did. My breasts were at least a full cup size larger than hers, and I hoped that was something Edward would enjoy.

My hand ran through his hair as I held his face close to my belly, tingling from the kisses he was leaving on my skin. His hands had wrapped around my waist, and I could feel him grabbing me and pulling me closer to him as he continued to kiss and lick and suck at my flesh. Soon his hands moved up toward my bra, and as he pulled back to watch, his hands cupped my breasts. His thumbs slid over my hardened nipples – back and forth, back and forth – as he watched, mesmerized. He was like a kid in a candy store, marveling over the treats laid out before him. I was his for the taking, and it seemed like he was finally beginning to realize it was truly happening.

"Can I take this off?" he asked, letting his thumbs rub along the bottom edge of my bra.

"Yeah," I whispered, then sucked in my breath as he reached around my back and undid the hooks. I felt the fabric slacken, and the straps over my shoulders gave just a bit. Looking up at me, his hands moved to the straps and pulled them down my arms, causing the cups to fall along with them. Once the lacy brown fabric was on the floor, Edward's hands moved back to my breasts, cupping me and holding me, squeezing gently before finally he leaned forward and softly kissed the swell of my breast. Kiss after kiss was placed on my pebbled flesh before his lips finally wrapped around my nipple and he kissed, and sucked, and made my toes curl.

"Oh, Edward," I moaned, letting my head fall back. The sight of his mouth on me was nearly my undoing, and I wasn't sure how I would survive if he wanted to kiss any other parts of me that night.

After moving to the other breast and nearly giving me an orgasm just from his lips on my nipples, he leaned back and I felt his hot breath on my chest.

"The way I figure it, we've worked off about 42 bucks right now. Come here so I can at least get to a hundred," he said, pulling me down onto the bed with him, then rolling so that I was on my back and he was hovering over me.

"What's worth $58 more dollars?" I asked, silently shocked that I could do basic math because I was barely able to breathe due to the look in his eyes and the way his hand was running over my chest.

"You're still wearing shorts, Bella. And I'd guess a cute little pair of lacy panties that match that bra." He smiled a teasing smile at me. "Those are gonna have to go."

My eyes closed, my heart raced, and my thighs squeezed together. He was going to kill me. I knew it. The things he was doing and the things he wanted to do... They were more than I could bear. But I couldn't give him up, not when he made me feel so good, so right, so alive.

Reaching up and touching his face, I tilted his head so that I could look into his eyes.

"Show me," I said. And he smiled as his lips wrapped around my nipple again, sucking me deep into his mouth and making me moan.

He was worth every penny.