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 Forty-Five

The route we took from Forks to Lake Ozette was mainly made up of forest roads, half of which didn't even exist on a map. How Edward knew about them, I wasn't sure, but it was a nice drive and the kids enjoyed themselves as they tried to spot animals and talked to Emily on the walkie-talkie set Edward had brought along. By the time we reached the area we were camping in, I was starting to get a little confused. Edward parked his truck under some trees, and I pulled up next to him. As I got out of my car, I noticed the meadow that opened up a few yards in front of us. We weren't at the same place we'd gone the year before, and the first thing I noticed was that there were no restrooms anywhere nearby.

"Um, I thought we were going to a campground like last time," I said.

Edward smiled a devilish grin before stepping behind me and wrapping his arms around my shoulders. "Nah, that was easy last time. This will be more fun. More private and quiet for us. We're completely alone out here," he said, whispering the last part into my ear. His warm breath made me shiver and in a very good way.

"But I like bathrooms," I whined as he laughed.

"Oh, ye of little faith. Give me an hour, and if you hate it, we'll go find that campground on the north side of the lake."

I kissed him lightly then followed him so that I could help unload the back of his truck. It was packed full with camping gear, and he had the kids carrying certain items to designated places where we would be using them. It wasn't long before both tents were set up – luckily not right next to each other – and he was setting up a tall, narrow tent a little ways away from the main camping area.

"What's that?" I asked.

"Your bathroom," he replied, smiling brightly at me. "You didn't think I was gonna make you squat behind a bush, did you?"

"I hoped not."

Once it was staked down to the ground, he started setting up another tent that was very similar to the bathroom tent. "We need two bathrooms?" I asked.

"No, Bella. This is your shower tent. I figured you'd want a shower every day. Right?"

I was in shock that he'd planned so many things he knew I'd like, and it made me laugh. "The next thing I know, you're gonna tell me you brought an oven out here," I said mockingly at him. When he didn't reply, I looked closer at him and saw the sheepish look on his face. "Edward?"

"Well, we gotta make Emily's birthday cake somehow. It's small. Don't worry."

I stared at him with my mouth wide open, in shock of just how wonderful he was. He really had thought of everything, and as the night continued on, I realized just how many everythings he'd thought of.

"We're cooking hot dogs over the fire for dinner tonight, but I've got steaks and potatoes for tomorrow. We'll cook all of that on the stove," Edward told me as he pulled out all the items we'd need for our dinner. He had a couple of large tarps set up on poles that formed overhead cover for us, which was great. They'd keep us dry from the rain that would almost definitely show up at some point during our outing. The tents were set up on either end of the overhead tarps, so while they were close to one another, there was still a good amount of distance between them.

I got the kids situated around the fire in their little folding chairs while Edward got the roasting forks loaded up with hot dogs. We had a great night cooking our dinner and making s'mores afterward for dessert. After it was dark, the kids got into their pajamas, and we all sat around the fire singing silly songs and laughing with each other. It was so much fun, and I loved every second of it. At one point, I looked up and across the fire from me to where Edward was sitting. He was looking straight at me, and the fire in his eyes was nearly as bright and beautiful as the fire in the little pit between us. I knew he was loving our night just as much as I was, and I was anxious to get the kids to bed.

"Mommy, is you gonna sleep with me tonight?" Mckenna asked as I helped her in the bathroom just before we sent the kids to bed. Edward had glow sticks in the bathroom and all around the campsite so that the kids would still be able to find their way during the night, even if they lost their flashlights.

"No. You're gonna sleep in the kid tent with Collin and Emily, remember? Aren't you excited?"

"Yeah," she said with a sigh. "But you'll be lonely without me, Mommy."

I knew I couldn't tell her the truth, so I sighed along with her. "I'm always lonely without you, but just think of how much fun we're gonna have tomorrow. Maybe we can go fishing or swimming or something. Would that be good?"

She nodded happily. "I bringed my swimsuit."

"I know. It'll be fun, so we need to get to bed. We have to make a cake tomorrow, too. It's Uncle Edward's birthday, and then the next day is Emily's. You gotta help me frost it when it's done."

"Okay!" she said. Then she picked up her little pink flashlight, and we left the bathroom tent. The bigger kids were already in their sleeping bags in their tent, so I got her snuggled in and then kissed them all before zipping the door shut. I only pulled the zipper down half way since they were all a little nervous about being alone in the tent, but I assured them that Edward and I would be right outside.

When I got back to the fire, I was surprised to see a blanket on the ground with some big pillows and a quilt on top of it. Edward was sitting there, smiling up at me.

"What's this?" I asked as I smiled back at him.

"Well, I thought it would be nice to lay out here and watch the fire or look at the stars. It's not raining, and there's no cloud cover tonight. So, you know…"

"I see," I told him as I slipped off my shoes and sat down next to him. The ground was hard, but he had a thin foam mat under us, so it helped cushion us just a bit. I lay down with my head on one of the pillows and looked up at the sky. "It's so pretty tonight."

"Yeah," he said as he watched me.

"No, the stars. The stars are pretty," I joked.

"I stand by my original answer." He scooted closer to me, letting his body press against mine as he lay down.

"We're not sleeping out here, are we?" I asked.

"No. We'll go in the tent later. This is just so we can listen for the kids and have a little romantic time by the fire. Is that okay?"

"Romantic time, huh? I like that," I said, then reached up to pull his face down to mine. "Tell me more about this romantic time," I whispered against his lips just before he kissed me.

It was a beautiful night. We stayed under the stars for a couple of hours, talking and kissing and laughing. Sometimes it was just quiet, but it was okay. I knew that neither of us needed the steady flow of conversation between us. We were still able to communicate with each other by just being there together.

"I know you mentioned bringing condoms, and I thought maybe we should talk about that a little bit tonight. Get that conversation out of the way before we're in the moment," he quietly said.


"I'm clean. I know I already told you that I got checked after I found out Jane was messing around, but I wanna make sure you know. There hasn't been anyone else since her, and there were only a couple before her. I'd never put you in danger like that, Bella."

I nodded, letting my fingers twist with his. He had his arm under my neck and I was holding his hand that was resting on my chest.

"I'm clean, too. It's the same for me; no one since Alec and only a couple before." I let out a breath and then continued. "I have an IUD, so I'm not worried about getting pregnant. And I don't want you to think I bought the condoms because of that or because I'm afraid of getting something. I just thought they might be more helpful out here since things can get a little messy. You know?"

"Yeah. Good thinking," he said with a soft chuckle. "How long have you had your IUD? They're only good for a certain number of years, right?"

"Um, five years is how long they last. I think, anyway. I got mine after Mckenna was born, so it's been almost four years. I'll have to get it replaced within the next year."

Edward was silent for several seconds before speaking again. "Do you want to get it replaced?"

His question made me think for a minute. Did I want it to be replaced? I wasn't sure anymore. Although I knew it was crazy to even be considering having a baby with Edward so soon into our relationship.

"I don't know. After Alec died, I thought I wouldn't need to because I wasn't planning on being with anyone again. But now, I don't know. What do you think? Assuming we're in this thing for good, do you want more children?" I asked him. I couldn't look at his face, so instead I focused on our hands.

"I want more children. With you. Do you want that?"

The love and quiet excitement in his voice was enough to have me quivering with desire and hope for our future. "Yeah. I would want that."

"So, maybe when it comes time to have it removed, you just don't get another one? And then we can decide when we want talk about a baby."


After several more quiet minutes together, he started to kiss me. It felt so amazing to have him hovering over me, pressing his hips against mine and knowing that I could have him in any way I wanted him, and it would be okay. He rolled onto his back, pulling me on top of him as his hands wandered my body and I straddled his waist. He was so hard underneath me, and I could feel myself getting wetter and wetter by the minute. I wanted him and there was nothing to stop us.

"Can we? Can we go in the tent? I want you," I whispered into his ear before sucking the lobe into my mouth.

"Baby, I think we should wait. We can fool around, but I think the kids are gonna wake up. We should wait until tomorrow."

I pulled back so that I could look at him. The glow from the fire was dying out, but I could still see his face in the soft amber flickers that continued to dance and wave in the fire pit.

"You wanna wait? But we don't have to."

"I know. I just thought..." He let out a deep breath. "Tomorrow's my birthday. I want it to be tomorrow. Okay?"

I nodded. "Okay. If you want."

"I'm not saying we can't still fool around, because we most definitely can. And I want to, but I know the first night of camping; Emily never sleeps well, and I don't want to get interrupted by kids. Not during our first time together. So tomorrow, I'm gonna wear them all out, and by the time it's dark, they'll be so tired, they'll sleep all night. We'll have the night together without any worry of little ears hearing us, okay?"


He smiled up at me. "Trust me. I want this to be perfect, and it will be. I promise."

After packing up the foam mat, blankets, and pillows, we quickly settled things around the campsite and then went to bed. Edward kept his promise of doing amazing things to me, and we both went to sleep completely happy and content. He was curled all around me, his chest against my back, and I might have "accidentally" ground my rear against his groin a few times. The groans that flowed from him made me smile. Knowing I was able to affect him that way was an amazing feeling, and I couldn't wait for what I knew was coming soon.

Sure enough, at some point during the night, each of the kids found their way into our tent, and by the time the sun was coming up, there were three small bodies sandwiched between Edward and me. I woke up to Mckenna's curls in my face and her elbow digging into my ribs.

"Morning," Edward softly whispered. I opened my eyes to meet his and saw the most beautiful smile on his face.


"So far, this is the best birthday I've ever had," he said, looking at each of the kids and then back at me. "If I can wake up like this every day for the rest of my life, I'll be a happy man."

I let out a little laugh. "Well, maybe not every morning. I tend to enjoy the mornings where it's just you and me," I told him.

He smiled. "Yeah. I do love those mornings. But this... This is pretty incredible, too."

The kids began to stir a bit, each of them grumbling and wiggling as they tried to get comfortable in the cramped space.

"I think I'll go start some breakfast," Edward said. "You go back to sleep. I'm planning to wear these kids out today, and you're gonna need all the strength you can get for tonight. I have plans for you." The fire in his eyes was back, and I felt my breath stutter out of my chest.

"Oh," was all I could manage to say in response to his words. When he smiled at me before standing up and grabbing clothes so he could go change, I might have stared at his butt for a little too long, but I didn't care. He had a gorgeous backside, and it deserved to be appreciated. And I couldn't wait until I could appreciate it in all its naked glory.

True to his word, our entire day was action-packed and busy. Edward kept the kids moving and active constantly, and even though I didn't participate in every activity, it was enough to nearly wear me out. By the time we started working on dinner, I could see the weariness in our children's eyes, and I knew they'd be out before too much longer.

"Uncle Edward's gonna take us fishing tomorrow," Collin said as I helped him get into his pajamas after he'd taken a quick shower. The kids had gone swimming in the lake, and even though the water was relatively clean, I still wanted to wash them off with some soap before letting them go to bed.

"That'll be fun, huh?" I replied.

"Yeah. I wonder if he got worms for our fishing poles. Do you think he'll let me put one on the hook? That'd be so cool, all those worm guts."

I laughed at his excitement and assured him that Uncle Edward would know exactly what they needed to catch some fish, so he didn't need to worry.

Just like Edward said, the kids were falling asleep around the campfire not long after the sun set, and we moved them all into their tent. They each managed to mumble a "good night" to us, but after that, they were out. It was so quiet around the campsite after that. There was an excited electricity in the air, and every time mine and Edward's eyes met, it was like we knew. We knew what was coming. We knew what we were about to do. We knew that after that night, nothing would ever be the same. There was no going back, and I wanted it.

I'd debated bringing lingerie for the night or some skimpy, tight outfit, but I knew that we'd be in the dark and not on the most comfortable of beds, so I decided to just go with normal clothes. Our love-making wasn't going to be anything super wild or crazy, but that was okay. It would be us, together, finally giving ourselves to each other, and that would be enough. I knew things would get more intense and hot later on as we grew more familiar with each other. I was looking forward to those times, but I was nervous and anxious for our first time together.

I took a quick shower in the shower tent, just to clean up a bit, and when I finished I found Edward playing with something on one of the tables under the tarp awnings.

"What are you doing?" I asked as I tried to see what he had.

"I brought my iPod and speakers, so we'd have a little music for tonight," he said. "I thought that might help in case the kids wake up. That way they won't hear us or most likely you," he teased with a smirk on his face.

The look in his eyes made me blush, and I smiled as I looked down at my feet. "I can't help it. It's just what you do to me."

"Hey," he said as he laid the iPod down on the table and moved toward me. "I like it. I like that I do that to you." His hand brushed my hair over my shoulder just as a song began to play through the speaker. "I want everything to be perfect tonight. I don't ever want to forget this."

He took hold of my right hand, bringing it to his chest as his right hand slid around my waist. When his feet started to move back and forth in time with the music, I sighed and lifted my left hand to his shoulder.

"I wanna dance with you," he whispered into my ear as we swayed back and forth. The moment was so perfect and intense, and I laid my head against his chest, tucking in just under his chin. I breathed in deeply, taking in the way he smelled, and I couldn't help the tears that instantly filled my eyes. I never thought I'd feel the things I was feeling for him. Not after Alec. I thought I'd always be alone – on my own – but Edward had changed that. I wanted to be with him. I needed to be with him in every sense of the word. I knew how I felt about him, and even though it scared me, I wanted it.

"Bella," he whispered softly. When I looked up at him, he kissed me lightly. His lips were so soft and heavy on mine, and as the seconds flew by, the kisses grew more intense and powerful. Soon his tongue was sliding against mine, and his arm around my waist was pulling me tight against him. I could feel how hard he already was, and I wanted it. I wanted him.

"Make love to me," I breathed as he began to kiss along my jaw. He paused for a moment and then pulled away so that he could see my eyes. They were filled with a fire and spark I'd only seen a few times before in my life, and it nearly brought me to my knees. Stepping away from him, I reached down to take his hand and pulled him after me, toward the tent. It only took a few moments until we were inside the tent with the door zipped shut. The music still played outside on the table, and it added to the way I was feeling.

Slowly he stripped me of my clothes, taking time to kiss and touch my skin as he exposed it to the warm night air. His fingers rubbed across my nipples, hardening them instantly as his mouth sucked at my neck and collarbones. I took my turn at undressing him, too, worshiping every part of his body that I could. His chest shook with excitement or nervousness as I ran my fingers along his skin, and it made me want to be braver, bolder.

When I originally thought about having sex with Edward for the first time, a campout was not my first choice. Sleeping bags were hard to clean, the ground was often times hard or bumpy or slanted, tent walls were thin and easy to hear through, and there's no place to easily clean up afterward, if we needed to. It seemed like a bad idea, a wrong choice. But as Edward and I stood in the tent, our hands grasping at skin as our mouths hungrily sought out one another, I couldn't imagine being anywhere else for our first time. I didn't want it to happen in my house, where I'd shared so many intimate moments with Alec, and I didn't want it to happen in Edward's house, where he and Jane had been together so many times. A hotel seemed almost cheap and seedy, and a car was so high school and wrong. I knew both of those places had their good points, but for our first time, they weren't right. In the forest, alone, and with our children sleeping soundly nearby was perfect to me.

The bed we were sleeping on was made up of foam pads. Clearly that was just another thing Edward had thought about ahead of time and prepared for. As much as I liked sleeping on air mattresses, they weren't always conducive to sex and the thrusting that I was really hoping would happen. The pads under us were firm, yet soft, and as Edward finally guided me to the bed, sitting me down on top of the open sleeping bag, I pulled my mouth away from his for a moment.

"Please," I begged, trailing my hand down his chest and toward his hard cock that was tempting me. He paused, leaning back until he was standing up straight before me, then threaded his hand through my hair as my tongue peeked out to lick him.

"Bella," he whispered as I kissed and licked him for a few moments. My hand slid up and down his length, and I watched as his eyes closed and his head fell back. He began to pump into my mouth ever so slightly, filling me with the taste of him as my tongue slid along the smooth, silky skin. As much as I enjoyed having my lips wrapped around his cock, I needed more from him. I let go, then slid back on the bed until I was laying before him, ready and waiting to finally be with him.

He grabbed a condom from the box that sat on the top of my open suitcase, then knelt down on the bed and stalked toward me. As he hovered over my body, I smiled, letting my teeth press into my bottom lip. I knew he loved it when I did that, and the groan that rumbled from his chest reaffirmed what I already knew.

"Are you sure?" he asked as he dropped down and let his body rest on top of mine. I could feel him hard and pressing against my belly as his eyes searched mine for an answer.

I wrapped my arms around his waist, letting my hands trace up and down his back before they slid around his shoulders and I pulled him tighter against me. "I'm sure. I want you. All of you."

He kissed me again for a few minutes as his hand squeezed my breast, pulled at my waist, and then finally slid between my legs. His fingers pushed into me, and I could hear the sound of them sliding back and forth through my wetness. I moaned when he pushed them in farther than they had been and wiggled them around a bit. He hit a place inside of me that he hadn't before, and I began to whimper and pant, hoping that he'd get the hint and fuck me already.

As Edward lifted away from me, he leaned back and took a moment to sheath himself with the condom. Once it was in place, he watched me as he traced his fingers along my hips and thighs. We both were breathing so heavy, our chests rising and falling faster than they probably ever had before. I could see the need in his eyes, but there was something more there, too. There was a softness, a tenderness that made my heart stutter. It was dark in the tent, but there was enough light that I could see his eyes gloss over just a little, and for a split second, I wondered if he was having second thoughts.

He leaned down, holding himself up as his body stretched out over mine again. My knees bent and my legs dropped open, cradling him between my thighs. He was so quiet, so calm, so serious as he stared at me. I lifted my hand to his head, letting my fingers push into his hair and twist the strands slowly and carefully. He placed gentle, innocent kisses on my lips as he reached down to take hold of his length and line himself up with my entrance. I felt the tip of him between my folds, and as he pushed in, I felt a breath in my chest slowly escape my body, a breath I'd been holding in for so long and so deep. My muscles began to shake as he filled me, pushing inch by inch until, finally, he was completely inside of me. Then he stopped.

"I love you, Bella."

His fingers ghosted over my face, and he watched me closely. I was speechless, silent, still. I didn't know what to say.

"You don't have to say anything back. I just wanted you to know. This means something to me. It means so much. I wanted you to know," he whispered.

I felt my head nodding, and my eyes watering as I continued to shake and tremble. I could see the worry in his eyes as he lay on top of me, still inside of me.

"Are you okay?" he quietly asked. I nodded again, biting down hard on my lip. "Can I...?"

"Yes. Please," I managed to squeak out, and then he began to move.

I felt him thrusting in and out of me, loving me with his mouth and his hands and his hips. I clung to him as I fought back the tears that were threatening to explode from me. Closing my eyes, I clung to him, trying to keep myself from falling. Trying to keep myself from scaring him. Trying to keep myself from completely losing it. Trying to keep myself in the moment and with him and feeling everything I knew I wanted to feel.

It was the hardest thing I'd ever done in my life. Harder than losing Alec. Harder than living for my children. Harder than letting myself want Edward.

"Oh, Bella," he moaned as his lips kissed up and down my neck, sucking at my skin. His right hand grasped my hip, then moved down as he pulled my thigh higher so he could bury himself deeper in me, hitting places I'd never been touched before. My eyelids slid closed, and I gasped as my back arched up and my breasts pressed against his chest.

"Ahhhh," I sighed before letting out a moan as he continued to pump in and out of me.

"So good, baby. So fucking good," he whispered, his lips still attached to my neck as his hand kept hold of my breast. He kept moving as I fought back the tears that continued to build in my eyes. I could feel a sob bubbling up in my throat, and I tried so hard to keep it in, to contain it and fight it back. I refused to let myself think about Alec. I wouldn't let my first time with Edward be tainted with memories of someone else, and to be honest, I'd never been made love to in the same way Edward was making love to me. This was different, he was different, and I would never disrespect him by thinking of someone else. Not even Alec.

Edward deserved better than that.

"Bella, I'm close," he said as his hand slid from my breast and moved down my stomach toward my hips. I felt his fingers glide across my belly and down to where Edward and I were joined. His thumb began to rub softly against my clit, causing sparks to shoot through me as I cried out. It felt good - so, so good - and my thighs squeezed against his hips as he started to move faster. "Fuck, baby. You feel so good. Oh, baby, I love you," he said as he brought his lips back to mine, kissing me hard and deep and long.

My toes began to curl. My heart pounded harder. My stomach tightened and fluttered. A burning sensation began to fill my body, and my hands fell from Edward's sides, reaching out to the empty spaces next to me before finally grabbng onto the fabric of the sleeping bag underneath us.

"Edward..." I cried out just as he buried his face in my neck and thrust harder and deeper into me, pushing my body down into the foam padding under us. He stilled above me, though his thumb kept moving, and soon I was flying, lost in the most intense orgasm I'd ever had in my life. My mind was blank, my fingers were numb, and my skin felt every inch of his skin that was touching me. In my eyes, all I saw was him... Edward.

After several seconds, a few more pumps, and soft, gentle kisses, he relaxed above me, letting his body loosen and lay heavily on mine. His fingers softly smoothed over my cheekbones, my nose, my brow, and my chin before moving behind my ear and wrapping around the back of my neck. His thumb tucked under my chin and lifted my face to meet his.

"I meant what I said. I love you, Bella. I'm in love with you."

I could see the hope in his eyes; that I would say it back, that I would tell him I was in love with him, too, and that I was feeling everything he was feeling.

But I couldn't say it. And not because I didn't feel it or because I didn't want to, but just because I couldn't.

The longer I stayed quiet, the less hope and light I saw in his eyes until finally he smiled a little and kissed me so sweetly, so tenderly, so perfectly.

"I'm gonna take care of this. Don't go anywhere," he said before pulling out of my body and causing me to shake just a bit at the loss of his touch. I knew I needed to put some clothes on since I really didn't want to be naked if the kids came crawling back into our tent at some point in the night.

Over the next few minutes as we both dressed and got ready for bed, he smiled at me. He kissed me. He touched me. He was wonderful and perfect and everything I wanted him to be. Yet I knew he was disappointed, and he was sad. And that broke my heart. I wanted so much to tell him I loved him, too, but I didn't know for sure. And more than anything, I never wanted to lie to him. Never.

As we got into bed that night, he curled up behind me, whispering sweet things to me, and I lost it.

"I'm sorry," I said as my tears broke free and began to pour out of me with a vengeance. "I'm so sorry."

He pulled me tight to him, soothing me and calming me and telling me over and over again that it was okay, that we'd be okay. My body shook as I cried harder and harder. The reality of what we'd done finally hit me, and in that moment, I was forced to accept the fact that my husband was really gone. I'd never see Alec again, and as much as I wanted to be with Edward, I still missed Alec. The guilt was overwhelming, especially when I admitted to myself that if given the choice between Alec and Edward, I wouldn't choose Alec. I would choose Edward a hundred times over, and the thought broke my heart.

"It's okay. You're okay," Edward whispered as I cried and twisted in his arms, then clung to him, soaking his shirt with my tears.

"I'm sorry," I whimpered.

"I know. I know," he said.

He rocked me in his arms, gently humming to me for such a long time as I cried and cracked into a million pieces. There were so many things I was sorry for, yet I couldn't put myself together enough to tell him, to explain it to him. It would have to wait for the morning. I could tell him then, make him understand.

My head began to ache from all the crying I'd done, and gradually, the tears slowed down, eventually letting me fall asleep. It was a restless sleep, and almost instantly, I was overtaken by a dream. Alec was there, smiling and calling to me. He was happy and lovely and everything good that I remembered about him. He was familiar and safe, and I wanted to go to him, but I couldn't move.

"Alec?" I called out just as he started to walk away. "No, don't go."

"It's okay, Bella. Go. Be happy," he said as he smiled back at me. It was then that I realized Edward was behind me with his arms wrapped around my waist, holding me to him.

"Edward. No," I told him as I pulled out from his arms.

"Stay with me. Be with me, Bella," he said, brushing a piece of hair from my brow and tucking it behind my ear. His smile was like an angel, and I couldn't take my eyes away from him.

"You can stay with me if you want to," Alec's voice said from right behind me. When I turned around, I saw his face so close to mine and a sadness in his eyes.

"I want to go with him," I whispered. "I always want to go with him."

Alec smiled as I took hold of Edward's hand. "He loves you. It's okay if you love him, Bella."

"I do. I love him. Only him. I'm sorry," I told Alec before looking up at Edward's smiling face. "Always."

I felt a breeze, and when I turned around, Alec was gone. "Alec?" I called, but Edward and I were alone.

"I love you, Bella," Edward said.

"I love you," I told him, then wrapped my arms around him and vowed to never let go.

Suddenly I woke up, sitting up in the dark tent and trying to calm my racing heart. Edward was asleep next to me, lying on his back with a look on his face that made me sad. It made my spirit hurt for him. I didn't want him to look that way, and I promised myself that as soon as morning came, I would tell him. I would make him understand that I loved him, too. That I wanted to be with him and only him. That he was the love of my life, my soulmate. That I had never and would never love anyone else the way I loved him. That he was it for me, and that I wanted to be with him always.

Laying back down next to him, I curled into his side and let out a deep breath. "I love you," I whispered as I closed my eyes, breathing in the scent of him, the spirit of him, and the love I'd been unknowingly waiting for my whole life.