Thank you for the continued support.
I've had a few people asking me when Edward and Bella will become intimate. The answer, I don't know. But I wanted to make it perfectly clear that I'm not here to write porn.

Also, my timelines might be mixed up. Sorry about that, but just go with what I say in this chapter.

Isabella

There were few things in my life that I was certain about. I grew up in an orphanage, I had been dependent on a pathetic man for far too long, and I was in love with Edward. The last of these was reaffirmed when I awoke to strong arms wrapped around my middle and kisses being placed on my shoulder. The sleeve of the nightgown had shifted down during the night, and the shoulder was left bare for Edward to ravish.

"Sleep well?" His voice, deep and seductive rumbled in my ear. A gentle sound, one that was similar to a growl but softer sounded in my ear.

"What is that?" I murmured, rolling over so we were face to face. I placed my hand over the place where his heart was, and rubbed at it softly. The low growl increased in volume and his eyes became gentle, the red dulling to a softer colour.

"Vampires are instinctual creatures. We purr when we feel our mate's presence." It made sense, or at least enough sense as everything this past week had. I rubbed at his heart and he purred louder, nuzzling his face into my hair.

"You're like a cat." I grinned and he chuckled. Truthfully, a housecat was the least likely candidate for an Edward replacement. Maybe a lion would work, but definitely not a housecat.

Edward rolled over so that he was on top of me, his face hovering above mine. His weight was supported on his forearms and the lower half of his body rested onto mine. He leaned down and began to pepper my face with light kisses.

"Am I now?" He teased, rubbing my cheek with his. The purring grew louder. The sun cast down rays through the open window, placing the two of us in its brilliant light. It hit us in such a way that while I was shielded from most of its rays, Edward shone in all his glory.

"Oh," I whispered, reaching up to cup his cheek with my hand. He was absolutely gorgeous, his diamond skin reflecting streams of light so that they turned into vivid sparkles. Seeing him like this, poised above me radiating with nothing but beauty, I began to wonder just how such a creature survived for seventeen thousand years in the shadows with no one to see his beauty.

"I know it's not the most flattering, being bound to someone who sparkles." A crooked grin, one where the left half of his mouth pulled up higher than the right, appeared on his face as he leaned down to kiss my lips.

"At least you didn't burn." I muttered as I returned his kiss. Our lips moved softly, neither of us in a hurry to rush what was between us. The outside world, the issues that had been troubling us for the past week, all disappeared when we were together. Here with Edward, I felt as though I were invincible. In a world of convicts I was the enlightened, as long as I was with him.

Humanity interrupted us soon enough, with my stomach calling out its protest. Edward smiled and ceased the kiss, resting his forehead against mine.

"You mortals and your needs." In a blur of movement I was swept up into his arms and we were walking out of the bedroom and towards the kitchen. His arms were strong and cold around me, his chest unyielding as I cuddled around him. He deposited me onto the chair at the table and went around to the fridge.

"I can't say I have much experience cooking. The Cullen's were good enough to stock this place for you." He pulled out an arrangement of breads and fruits and placed them on the table, his expression that of a pup eager to please his master.

"Thank you," I whispered, grabbing for a croissant. I bit into it, my eyes focused on wooden surface. It was odd, I mused, how only a little while ago I was sleeping in an abandoned factory and my breakfast consisted of any alcohol I had left in my bottles.

I pressed my tongue against my teeth when I remembered the soothing feeling that a hard kick of alcohol would present me with. I was far from an alcoholic, I never allowed myself to get to that stage. Still though, the remembrance of my past life was enough to make me crave something to make the memories disappear.

Perhaps Edward could be my new coping mechanism.

Breakfast was a simple ordeal, I eating much more than I probably should have while Edward gazed at me with watchful eyes. The electricity between the two of us rumbled, and I could feel it grow as the hours passed.

"Christmas is in two days." My brow furrowed. I was becoming so out of touch with time. Before Edward, the days went by in a drudge of never-ending greys and blacks. Now though, they flew by so fast that I was losing track of each hour. The days and the nights were blurring together, though in happiness and not in horror.

"We met each other how long ago?" Edward's face twisted in concern and he reached for my hand, flipping it over so that he could trace my palm with his finger.

"A week yesterday, love."

I got up from the table and walked towards the window. The forest floor was dotted with snow, the sun shining brightly and casting illuminations on the land.

"Why did Rosalie try to attack me yesterday, especially if Carlisle warned them of our arrival?" I could hear Edward blow out through his nostrils as I questioned him. I seemed to be doing that an awful lot lately.

"Vampires are extremely territorial. Some of us more so than others. Rosalie could have received all the warning in the world and still acted like she did. In her mind we were invaders on her territory." He shrugged delicately, though his eyes were hardened with a sort of grief.

"Do you agree with it?" He raised his eyes to mine and quirked a brow. I could feel my cheeks heat up as the feeling of being an idiot crept up on me.

"No, I believe Rosalie was an idiot to try and attack you with myself in such close range. Had I not have such a respect for Carlisle, I would have slain both her and her male. However, I do understand the territorial feelings we all get. I feel it for you."

I wasn't sure whether I should be insulted that he was discussing how Rosalie could have gone about killing me, or insulted that he was calling me his territory. As though he could read my mind, he was in front of me in a second, cupping my cheeks with his hand.

"I would protect you with everything, love, never doubt that." He rubbed his nose against mine. "I am yours and you are mine." He lifted his face to gaze out the window. "Come on; let's go out for the day."

The cottage had an assortment of clothing, including a total of six winter jackets. I grimaced when I pulled out one made only of wolf's fur, and Edward laughed when I instead chose to wear the one he bought me back in Italy.

"Do you miss it?" He asked me, throwing an arm around my shoulders as we exited the cabin. It was just past midday and the sun was starting to lower. Edward hadn't told me where we were headed, only that we had to make a stop by the Cullen's first. Without any warning he reached for me, pulling me into his arms and starting to run.

The mansion appeared within seconds, the white walls glowing against the ivory landscape. Edward made no notion of knocking; he simply strutted through the doorway with me in his arms. Carlisle was sitting on the sofa next to Esme, though the rest of the family was not to be found.

"Edward," Carlisle smiled and walked over to the two of us. His hair was slicked back and he wore dress pants and a green button-down. Esme, who glanced at us from her seat, was dressed casually. Noticing my stare, Carlisle chuckled and gestured to himself.

"I go to work soon." He said his face a picture of warmth. I nodded, my cheeks reddening from being caught staring.

"Carlisle's a doctor." I nodded my head at Edward's statement. Though in my mind I was thinking of how odd of a profession that was for a vampire. He drank the blood of animals, but from what I've gathered he was still tempted by human blood. I shuddered to imagine what could happen if he unleashed his true power at the hospital; among the sick and the weak.

"This brings me to my next question." I raised my eyebrows at Edward, turning to stare up at him. His face, which had hardened since we came into the presence of Carlisle and Esme, turned slightly sheepish as I stared at him.

"I would like for Carlisle to give you a brief medical examination. Just to be sure you didn't catch anything on the streets." It made sense; I gave him credit for that. It just hurt to hear the open ended consequences that come from living most of my life as an urchin.

"Shall we?" I nodded my head and Edward placed his hand on the small of my back, leading me towards a long dining table. I sat down upon it, Carlisle folding up the elegant table cloth and placing down a paper sheet in its place. He reached into a leather bag and pulled out a few essentials that I hadn't seen since my days at the orphanage.

He went through the usual procedures; checking my blood pressure, heart rate, breathing. Edward growled when he felt my abdomen for abnormalities, but I was able to calm him down. Despite everything, I had to agree with him. It felt strange to have anyone but Edward's hands there. Otherwise the examination went completely normal, at least until he started to feel up my leg.

"Stop." I said, pulling my thigh away from his grip. He frowned and removed his hands, reaching instead for a notebook. I pulled down the edge of my shirt, hoping to hide the area from his and Edward's curious gaze.

"Is something wrong, love?" Edward rested his hand down on my shoulder, pressing his lips to the top of my head.

"No, nothing's wrong." I muttered quickly, ducking my head from his touch. The room began to feel very hot. I got up from the table and walked towards the door, grabbing my coat along the way.

"Thank you, Doctor Cullen, but I think it's best if we are on our way." I opened the door without a glance backwards and found myself standing on the porch steps. Ignoring the snow I sat down on the first step, placing my head in my hands. I could feel my entire body shake, the area on my thigh feeling as though I were burning.

"Isabella!" Edward raced through the door, his face worried and his eyes angry. Hopefully not at me, I thought grimly. "Come on," he swept me into his arms again and began running, this time in the opposite direction of the cabin.

"Did I get the all clear?" Edward hummed in reply, but I could tell he was still angry about something. A moment later we arrived in a small clearing. It was gorgeous, a perfect circle covered in untouched snow. The trees hung over the clearing, leaving only a small patch in the centre for the sun to stream through. The sound of a stream could be heard in the background. Edward set me on my feet, but kept his arms wrapped around me.

"What's wrong?" He asked. I shook my head, trying to look away from him. His red eyes bore down into mine, the dark crimson swirling as his anger was pronounced.

"It's stupid." I protested, trying again to remove his arms from around me. He growled and let me go, turning to face the closest tree. Using only one hand he reached for a branch, grabbing and hurling it off into the forest. The sound of its crash could be heard loud and clear.

"Have I told you what happens when a vampire believes his mate to be hurt?" Edward ground out, his body sagging though his words were tense. I shook my head, and somehow, he seemed to see it.

"They become soulless killing machines, uncaring for anyone. They will stop at nothing to see their mate avenged. Now I'm going to ask you again. What happened?" He turned to face me and his eyes were raging. I took a step back, the snow sinking in through my jeans, soaking my leg.

"It was a long time ago, it has no relevance now." I tried to reason, the area continuing to burn as Edward stared at me. Suddenly he was in front of me again, this time his face was soft. I couldn't keep up with his mood swings.

"Bella, I will not hurt you. But I must know. Tell me." I was defeated, my head falling down onto his heart and my eyes drooping shut. I could feel his arm come around me, pulling me close. He began to whisper something in a language I did not know.

"I had just turned eleven a week ago. The church-they didn't believe in large celebrations. So Nicolo and I decided to have our own party. We snuck out at night-we'd been doing that a lot lately, and went down to the local bakery. Nic had saved up his money and managed to buy me a treat. At the time, it was the sweetest thing anyone did for me." I blew out a breath I didn't know I had been holding and rested my body fully against Edward's.

"We were fine on the way there, the way back was another story. There was this broken down fence on the east side of the church-right next to the chapel that we used to sneak through. From there we'd go through the back door through the chapel, then the courtyard, and finally make our way back to our rooms. We'd been doing this for the past six months without any trouble. We probably should've known our luck was going to run out sometime.

It was the worst night of my life. The fence somehow had been boarded up between the time it took for us to leave and come back. Of course we could've gone through the front door, but then we'd have to admit that we had left and be subjected to punishment. So Nic got this great idea. He said that we should run away, right then. He said that we could conquer the world, travel to all ends of the earth and enjoy life's delicacies. He was always like that, an overachiever.

Then we were found out. Father Matthews had been strolling the grounds; he had suspected that we were sneaking out. When he found us, talking of escaping outside the broken fence, he knew that his suspicions were correct.

We thought it was strange that he didn't deliver us to the nuns. Priests weren't supposed to be involved with the orphans except for service and the choir. Nicolo stayed silent, while I was begging him to let us go.

I remember him throwing us onto the ground of the chapel. I hit the side of a pew, that's where I got this." I pulled down the top of my jeans, the cold air whipping at the exposed skin. Edward sucked in a breath as he saw the scar, still bright and prominent across my upper thigh. I blushed and pulled the pants back into place.

"He ignored me though, and turned his attention to Nic. The priest, he had a wandering eye. I guess he figured he'd found the perfect opportunity with me and Nicolo. When he reached for him, I made sure he was stopped. I didn't kill him, but Nicolo and I knew that we weren't safe at the orphanage any longer. Two nights later, we escaped. We survived by begging and off the good grace of others for four years. When Nicolo was eighteen, he opened up the whorehouse. Then everything changed." I smiled sadly and collapsed into Edward's arms, my legs not even supporting my weight.

"I now that it's not the most dramatic sob story, but it's mine. Nic and I were closer than siblings, Edward. There was a time when I could tell him everything and knew that he could understand. That all disappeared once he opened up that horrid place. But that's a story for another time."

Leaning down, Edward placed his lips lightly upon mine. Softly, and with a bit of confusion on my part, our lips moved together in perfect synchronization. His tongue slipped into my mouth after a few seconds and my hands gripped at his jacket. A few snowflakes fell down from the sky and onto our hair and clothing.

"You're perfect, you silly, stubborn girl. I can only apologize for not coming to you sooner." I frowned and rested my head on his shoulder, avoiding his eyes.

"It's odd to think that I've only known you for a week. It seems like much longer than that. You've turned my life around, Edward." I kissed his neck softly.

We stood there, him freezing and me boiling, wrapped in the other's embrace for the better part of the day. After a half hour he removed his jacket and covered me with it, but despite the below freezing temperatures I felt oddly warm. We danced beneath the sun, him supporting my weight on his feet, his arms encircling me as the two of us bonded over nothing and everything. I began to see the little things that made Edward who he was. The crooked smile that would appear on his face only when I was around, and how his face would turn impassive and hard when anyone else appeared in the room. I started to appreciate how he treated me with such tenderness, despite barely knowing me. How despite my stubbornness and my curiosity, he was never anything but patient with me. Looking into Edward's eyes, I began to see what love really meant.

After a while, when the sun was starting to set, Edward pulled away from me and examined my cheeks with his hands, frowning when he caught sight of their red texture, this time from the cold and not my penchant to redden every time he was in my presence. Without a word he swept me into his arms and began to run, this time further away from both the Cullen's and the cabin.

We approached upon a busy city street, people bustling about talking on their phones, shopping bags in their hands. They kept their heads down to avoid the whipping snowflakes, and their breath was coming out in gentle puffs. Edward kept his arm wrapped around my shoulders, the masses parting as we walked down the centre of the street.

The town hadn't spared a dime when it came to decorations. Garland graced the top of every storefront, tinsel dancing in between. A few golden bells hung from the entrances and a cardboard cutout of Santa Claus was on every street corner.

I didn't know why I was being taken here; the stores all seemed like simple chain stores. A clothing store for plus sized women, a Subway, and countless other franchises I cared not for. Still, I stared in every storefront window as we passed by, Edward keeping his pace slow enough for me to satiate my interest.

After what seemed like hours, and the sun was completely removed from the sky, we came upon a shop nestled away from the busy street. It had no garland on its rooftop, and no jolly Santa to greet customers. In fact, I didn't even believe it was a shop until Edward pulled open the red wooden door and ushered me inside, the sound of a welcome bell ringing.

I rubbed my shoes on the mat, my nose picking up the scent of honey candles and a fire. Looking around, this shop seemed more like someone's cottage living room than it did a shop. A fireplace made out of stone was to the back of the right wall, two plush chairs in front of it. An antique desk stood straight ahead of me, a computer thicker than the desk itself seated precariously on top. The walls were made of wood, and the floors matched. A braided rug stood near the far wall, and it was there that a small display case stood. Taking my hand, Edward led me towards it.

Inside were the most beautiful jewels I had ever seen in my entire existence. They looked to be ancient, the gold and silver contrasting perfectly with amethysts and garnets. Some were gaudy, while others were simple. Each one of them had an outrageous price tag slapped on. I had never been one for jewelry, but I had always had inkling for history and, staring at these pieces, I wondered just how old they were.

"Welcome to Johnson's Antiques, we will be closing in the next ten minutes, so please make your purchases and leave." An old man with a hunchback hobbled towards the counter, a cane in his hands and his face screwed up into a scowl. His hair was styled in a deliberate comb over, and he was skinnier than a shadow. When he looked up to see Edward and me, his scowl deepened.

"You kids look awful young to be in an antiques store." He leaned against the counter and raised his eyebrows at us. I could see Edward smirk out of the corner of my eye and he let go of his grasp on me to reach for something in his breast pocket. He handed a sheet of paper to the man and his eyes widened, glancing between Edward and the note.

"You're Mr. Masen?" He asked, raising his brow as his scowl started to transform into something more akin to awe. Edward nodded once, wrapping his arm around my waist and kissing my temple.

"Yes, sir. I trust that what we spoke about is still in effect?" The man nodded, folding up the paper and turning around, opening up a wooden door with the sign 'employees only' on it.

I was constantly amazed at the power Edward seemed to exude. One moment he was gentle and affectionate with me, but it took less than a second for him to turn cold and powerful. He demanded attention with his very presence. It was a thing that made me wonder if it was the vampire in him, or the seventeen thousand year old man. He walked with such sureness that it wasn't hard to imagine it being a bit of both.

The man returned a moment later, a box with a lock on it in hand. He set it down on the counter and reached into his pocket, pulling out a set of keys. He took a moment to find the right one, finding it and sliding it into the lock. It broke away and he moved it to the side. In a gesture of great surprise to me, he pulled on a pair of latex gloved before taking the two halves of the box and separating them, leaving me to gawk at what was inside.

A delicate necklace, made entirely of gold with emeralds laid in-between links, and a touch of what seemed to be diamond around the clasp. It was thin, the stones weaving together to give the appearance of delicacy. I could only imagine who once wore such a piece, and what it would now be worth. Edward smiled at my amazement and reached into the box, pulling it out and holding it between his two fingers.

"It's the make of the Aztecs. One of the things Cortés stole from them before he brought about their destruction." He shrugged delicately and placed the garment over my head, wrapping it twice around my neck so that it lay just above my breast.

"Oh my," I whispered, turning to stare into the small table top mirror the man had procured from beneath the case. It sparkled and glowed against my skin, my hair dusting against the emeralds, the gold blushing against my skin.

"Edward, you can't buy this for me." I whispered, my fingers ghosting against the jewels. It had to have cost a fortune, more money than I'd ever have earned with my life on the streets. I could sense Edward as he came up from behind me, could feel him as he placed his hands on my shoulders and leaned down to rub his cheek against mine.

"Johnson owns a safe. I've obtained numberless amounts of jewels over the course of my existence. This just happens to be one of them. I want you to have it." He pressed a kiss to my temple and went over to talk to the man, leaving me to gaze at my reflection in wonder.

This was a whole new me, I realized with wonderment. No longer was I a beggar, or tied to Nicolo in any form at all. Now, I was tied only to a future where nothing but brightness remained.