I'm so glad you enjoyed Edward and Bella's little bit of swordplay. It was lovely to hear from my fanfic friends, and I really appreciated the reviews and kind words.
It's my wedding anniversary today, so to celebrate 31 years of marriage to my very own romantic hero, as well as the release of my latest book, Passion and Propriety, here is part two of the future take. It's basically a fluffy lemon fest with some plot mixed in, so I hope you enjoy. :)
PS - Katmom and NKubie, my awesome betas, please forgive me for basically rewriting this chapter this afternoon. I wasn't happy with 'telling' the steamy against the door scene, so I 'showed' it, which required an entire rewrite. All errors and typos are mine!
Future take – Edward
Striding down the hallway, Edward resisted the urge to break into a run. He'd slung his precious wife over his shoulders like she was a sack of potatoes, and while she didn't seem overly offended by his actions, the last thing he wanted to do was cause her harm.
He didn't normally behave in such an aggressive manner, preferring to be gentle with Bella, tender and considerate of her needs. His way with her raised eyebrows, some of the men continuing to question whether he was strong enough to one day rule the nation in his father's stead. Emmett, the more gregarious and popular brother had leapfrogged him into a kingly role, one Edward had gladly passed up. But that didn't mean he was weak, and he no longer doubted his capabilities. For that he had Bella to thank, her love and unconditional support doing more for his confidence than any number of wins in the jousting arena. The battle would soon be upon them, and woe to the fool who underestimated Edward's resolve when it came to protecting the woman he loved and the people he was responsible for.
Demetri was a prime example, his one-time mentor now rotting in a prison cell, ruing the day he'd thought to manipulate Carlisle's eldest son and thereby gain control of the throne. The betrayal had been painful, his own father's lack of trust even more so, but it had brought about a strengthening of Edward's character, one reinforced by his wife's belief in him. He'd also learned a vital lesson . . . bombast did not equal bravery, and thoughtful consideration of a problem was not akin to cowardice. Of course there were times when action trumped deliberation, when the time for pondering the pros and cons was past.
The privilege of seeing his wife naked was one he would forever hold sacred. But the sight of her dressed in boy's breeches, leaping and lunging as she'd followed his directives and defended herself against his attack, had stirred something primitive in Edward . . . an almost savage and decidedly lusty reaction to their mock duel. He'd sought to show her the impossibility of her request, its needlessness. No harm would befall her with him as her protector. He may have proved his point, but she'd reminded him, once again, not to underestimate her . . . arousing his passions to painful heights in the process.
Whether dressed as a lowly servant, as a princess wearing the finest gown, or as a nimble young squire, it made no difference. She was glorious, and he desired her like no other. But despite his haste to bury himself in her sweet body as quickly as possible, his feelings for her were stronger than mere craving, deeper than lust, more powerful than any fleeting attraction.
He loved her.
He loved her company, loved her sweet, giving nature.
He also admired her strength, was in awe of her courage, and respected her intelligence. Not that she didn't rouse his ire occasionally, just as he did hers. But that was part and parcel of learning to live together in harmony as man and wife. He was the head of their household and she was supposed to obey him in all things, but after all she'd suffered, subjugating her held little appeal. Fortunately, there was no need, as a willingness on his part to compromise—as evidenced by his taking the unheard of step of agreeing to tutor her in self-defence—wrought far more beneficial results. He'd dreamed of finding a helpmate and had been rewarded with both friend and lover.
And he intended to love her quite thoroughly the minute they reached the privacy of their bedchamber.
As soon as the heavy, carved door slammed shut behind them, courtesy of his heeled boot, Edward lifted Bella down from his shoulder. Rather than let her body slide all the way to the floor, he pressed her back up against the door.
"In a hurry?" she asked, wrapping her legs around his waist and crossing her ankles behind him.
"You have no idea." He sucked at the bared flesh of her shoulder while cupping her bottom and grinding against her. Her eager hands pulled his tunic from the waistband of his breeches, a hiss escaping his lips when her cool fingers reached his heated flesh. Nimbly, she released the ties and button that would allow his hardened member to spring free. But when he would have slid up her skirts to access the honeyed treasure beneath, he was stymied by a pair of boys breeches and knee length boots!
"God in heaven," he muttered, releasing her so that her feet touched the floor. Desperate in his desire, he tugged at her trousers, pulling them down to bear her curved hips, rounded buttocks, and smooth thighs. Trying to help him, her equally frantic hands kept getting in the way so that he had to gently bat them aside. She acquiesced with a huff and focussed her attention on kissing whatever patches of his bared flesh she could reach with her clever lips. Distracted and increasingly short of breath, he continued with his task. But tragically, when he tried to wrench the pants legs past her boots, they refused to budge, becoming caught around her ankles.
"Hell and damnation!" Losing his balance, he collapsed to the floor, taking her with him in a tangled mess of entwined limbs and searching mouths. "No wonder woman are forbidden from wearing men's clothing. They're vexingly difficult to remove."
Bella shook with laughter. "Oh, is that the reason?" Her bared bottom pressed against his groin, causing his throbbing member to twitch in dismay. He'd thought to be inside her already, not sprawled in a heap on the rug.
"Well, it should be." He eyed her ruefully. "Although it's probably to prevent us weak-minded fellows from being driven mad with desire at the sight of delectable female derrieres."
Bella's wriggling ceased. "Are you saying you'd be similarly affected by viewing any woman's backside?"
"No!" His eyes widened in alarm. "Just yours!" She arched an eyebrow, and he rushed to add, "I've no interest, whatsoever, in any other woman, regardless of how she's dressed."
Seemingly mollified, Bella rewarded him with a sultry smile and began wrestling with her boots. The ties to her tunic had come undone, allowing it to slide down and reveal the creamy curve of her breast and one perfect, pink nipple. Momentarily distracted, Edward stared, saliva pooling in his mouth as he longed for a taste.
First things first, he reminded himself.
Giving his head a shake, he put his undivided attention into helping her pull her boots free. Once they were off, he focused on removing her breeches, a wave of relief surging through him when she was rid of the dratted things. Finally able to stand to his feet, he lifted her back up into his arms.
"Do you still want me to take you against he door?" he asked, groaning as she stroked his aching length from swollen base to moistened tip.
"Oh, yes." She positioned him against her slick folds, her head falling back as he thrust inside her in one, smooth stroke. "Oh, yes!" she cried again, and he began to move, sliding in and out of her velvet heat.
Groaning, he rode her as hard as he dared, desperate for them both to find release but not wanting to bang her against the rough surface of the door. Bella had other ideas, urging him on with her hands at his back and the pressure of her legs wrapped around his waist. But he refused to take her too fiercely. He'd never forgive himself if she were to be scratched or bruised, her tunic offering only scant protection for her delicate skin.
"Edward, harder!" she demanded, and his resolve wavered. Settling on a compromise, he spun around so that he was leaning against the door. She grabbed hold of his shoulders, lifting and lowering herself on his shaft as he bore her weight with his hands. In no time, her panted breaths became moans which turned into cries, his name torn from her lips when she came. She collapsed in his arms, and he spun back around, pressing her against the door. Thrusting deep, once, twice, three times, he pumped into her as he found his own, blissful release.
"Well, that was exciting," she said with a satisfied sigh when they'd both recaptured their breaths. "I'll have to dress like a boy more often."
Edward chuckled, too relaxed in the aftermath of their coupling to take offence. With the edge taken off their desire, they disrobed entirely, falling naked upon their bed. They rested for a while, cuddled in each other's arms. Then nuzzling cheeks, softly stroking fingers, and restless, entwined limbs lead to an equally passionate but gentler encounter. Holding his weight up on one elbow while his free hand stroked Bella's hip and along her thigh, Edward looked down upon his wife and smiled.
In the four weeks since they'd wed, he'd all but memorised her lovely curves, but he would never grow tired of exploring her body. As they rocked together, the feel of her smooth, silky skin sliding against his own saw him moaning with pleasure once more.
"You like that?" she whispered, between taking nibbling bites of his earlobe.
"I like everything you do." He groaned and pushed deeper.
"You want more?" She angled her hips to receive him more fully.
Edward would always want more, his desire for her a thirst that couldn't be quenched. Not that he wouldn't cry out in triumph when she pulsed around him, her release leading to his own shuddering climax. But no matter how enervated he was left by the encounter, how blissfully replete, his hunger for Bella always returned. If sleep overwhelmed him, he invariably reached for her upon waking, even before consciousness had taken hold.
And why wouldn't he, when such delight was to be found in her arms?
Groaning at the thought of the bone deep satiation to come, Edward resisted the urge to move faster, reminding himself he'd set a slow and languorous pace for a reason, wanting her to feel cherished.
For cherish her he did.
Heart swelling, Edward gazed down at his beautiful wife. He'd loosened her long, dark hair from its braid, and the crinkled locks spread out on the pillow around her head. It was a sight he would never grow tired of. Nor would he ever get enough of seeing her lashes resting against her flushed cheeks or her lips, pink and swollen from his kisses. He savoured the sound of her breathy cries, the soft whimpers that assured him she received pleasure from being filled by him, from being kissed and caressed and adored by him.
And how he adored her.
His precious wife.
A deep moan rumbled in his chest, and her eyelids fluttered open revealing warm brown eyes glazed with passion. Her hands stroked his back, trailing up and down his spine. Her knees hugged his hips, her lovely legs wrapping around his thighs.
"My love." He nuzzled her neck as he claimed her with slow, purposeful strokes.
She whimpered in response, the movement of her hips urging him to up the pace. He thrust harder, and her body pulsed around him, letting him know she was close. Angling so as to make sure he touched the places that would bring her the most pleasure, he marvelled at how well they'd come to know one another's bodies in such a relatively short time.
A little over four weeks.
It wasn't very long, but it felt like a lifetime of joy, one he never wanted to end.
Another thought teased at his consciousness, but he was unable to grasp hold, having more important things on his mind . . . such as driving his wife to the peak of ecstasy and then following her as she tumbled over the other side.
"Edward, please . . ."
Bella writhed beneath him, seeking the release that would bring him almost as much pleasure from watching her reach it as when he experienced his own. Knowing just how to help her, he lifted up a little, making some space between them. Cupping her breast, he rolled and tweaked the nipple until she cried out. He would have liked to suckle it with his mouth, but he was too tall to do so in this position. Instead, he put his mouth to good use, kissing and licking and nipping along the curve of her neck until he reached the tender spot beneath her ear. It was one of his favourite places, sure to inspire a delicious blush to spread across her already heated skin when he sucked the soft flesh between his tongue and lips. As expected, her whimpers grew louder, more frenzied. When tremors racked her body, he abandoned his place at her neck and kissed his way along her jaw. When he reached her mouth, she opened for him immediately, drawing his tongue inside and sucking it against the roof of her mouth.
Pleasure rippled through him . . . pleasure so intense he almost lost control.
Soon, he told himself, determined not to disappoint her. To his relief, it wasn't long before she broke away from his mouth, her breath coming in harsh pants.
"I'm nearly there," she whimpered, her hips rising to meet his quickening thrusts.
If he held back, he could make their loving last even longer, but from Bella's cries and the way she urged him on with her hands and body, he knew her hunger matched his own.
They could always take it slow the third time.
She tensed, her inner muscles clamping down on him, and he grit his teeth as pleasure raced down his spine and pooled in his groin. The sound of his groan filled the air, a low reverberation that contrasted with Bella's higher pitched cry. Arching like a bow, she reached her peak, the contractions occurring deep within her body sending them both soaring skyward for long, rapturous minutes. When their hearts finally stopped racing, and their breathing slowed, they returned to awareness laying on their sides, wrapped securely in each other's arms.
More minutes passed, interrupted only by soft sighs and gentle caresses.
"Do you think we'll ever tire of this?" Bella eventually broke the silence. Her teasing tone assured Edward there was no real concern behind her question, but he answered with as much force as his sated self could muster.
"Never. I shall always want you, my love. Always."
"Just as I shall always want you."
She snuggled even closer into his side, but rather than succumbing to the temptation to doze, he pondered her question further.
Edward hadn't thought to find a wife who reciprocated his desire; in fact, he'd been warned to expect the exact opposite. Bella and he engaged in intercourse a lot more frequently and with far greater inventiveness than was typical . . . or strictly allowed. If they were to follow the edicts of the church, he wouldn't touch her more than twice a week, thrice at the absolute most . . . not that many times a day. They'd have to abstain altogether once she was with child and for however long she nursed the babe after it was born. Two to three years of abstinence was the norm.
Would Bella want that?
Gazing down at the sleepily satisfied smile on her face, he didn't think he had anything to fear. His lovely wife enjoyed fulfilling their marital duties as much as he did . . . thank heavens. Of course, she might not feel up to obliging him as often and certainly not as energetically once she was carrying his child, and he'd be careful not to tax her body with too many confinements too close together. Losing her was not an option.
While soothingly stroking her arm with his hand, Edward vowed to be patient. He would make sure she knew how incredibly grateful he was for whatever scraps of affection she chose to grant him. Even a chaste kiss or comforting embrace from the woman he loved would keep him happy.
Though he did hope she'd continue to want more.
A chuckle shook his chest when he recalled the dread with which he'd once viewed marriage. He wondered how Emmett was faring, in no way envying him his bride. A shudder ran through him at the thought of dealing with Rosalie's cool manner and short temper on a daily basis. Bella wasn't afraid to express her opinion, even letting Edward know when she considered him to be in the wrong. But she didn't feel the need to belittle him in the process, her manner kind and her temperament even.
The smile that had an almost permanent place on Edward's face faded, as the thought that had teased the edges of his consciousness earlier returned fully formed.
The other warning he'd received in regards to the challenges inherent in matrimony was that his wife would be subject to irascible moods on occasion, specifically around the time of her monthly courses.
"Bella?" He kept his voice low in case she was sleeping . . . and to hide his growing concern.
"Hmmm?" She rocked against his side.
"We've been wed for a month now."
He felt her smile against his chest, as she hummed again in agreement.
"About that . . ." Edward faltered. His embarrassment was patently ridiculous considering the intimacies they shared, but it didn't stop heat from flushing his cheeks.
Bella lifted her head to meet his gaze, a frown creasing her brow when she took note of his glowing ears. "What is it?"
"Well . . ." He inhaled a breath and 'took a hold of his manhood' as Emmett would say—not literally, but figuratively—though he imagined even his blustering brother would find this topic a challenge. "It's just that it's been four weeks, almost four and a half, since we were married, and there has been no, er . . . impediment to our being together during that time."
Bella rolled her eyes. "Other than hovering servants, repeated audiences with your parents, fulfilling our royal duties, which are surprisingly time consuming. Oh, and don't forget ignoring the pointed looks and comments from those keen to judge us based solely on the rumours that have been spread that we are excessively amorous . . . rumour based in truth," she added sheepishly.
Edward managed a weak chuckle. "What I was actually referring to was the, ah . . . matter of your courses, or lack thereof. Your womanly cycle is irregular?"
Bella eyed him for a moment, a secretive smile curving her lips. "My cycle is quite regular."
"Oh." Edward thought about that for a moment. "So when are—were—you due?"
"About three weeks ago." Her smile widened.
"Three weeks," he repeated dumbly before his brows shot high on his forehead. Sitting up, he drew Bella with him. "But that means you might already be with child. My child!"
"Well it certainly isn't anyone else's," she muttered dryly.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because I wanted to be sure. I've experienced some early signs, but it's a little soon to know for certain." Bella's smile faltered in the face of Edward's darkening scowl. "You're displeased? You don't want a child?"
"Of course I want a child! I'm overjoyed at the prospect, but I'm also fuming at the thought of you putting yourself at risk. Swordplay is dangerous, even a mock fight. You could have been hurt . . . or lost the baby. What were you thinking?" Releasing one of her shoulders, he ran his hand roughly through his hair. "What was I thinking? Even without the possibility of you being with child, something I was too daft to consider, I should never have promised to tutor you. But you're just so persuasive. And when you look at me with those big brown eyes, I'd agree to anything . . . anything. What if we've harmed the baby? I'll never forgive myself."
"Edward, stop!" She caught hold of the hand he had tangled in his hair and drew it between them, nestling it against her breast. "I'm fine. The baby, if there is one, is fine also. I'm not used to a sedentary life, as I've always been very active. I might have some sore muscles on the morrow, but no worse than if I'd been scrubbing floors or beating rugs."
"But this is your first confinement. You don't know how your body will respond."
A crease formed between Bella's brows. "Yes, I suppose that's true." Her confidence shaken, she came willingly into his embrace. "It's just that I've known plenty of village women to work every day of their confinements and then return to their duties within days of the delivery."
"I've heard such tales, but not all women fare so well."
At Edward's sober words, she nodded against his chest, gripping him more tightly.
"I'm not trying to frighten you, my love, but you're very precious to me, and I couldn't bear for anything to happen to you or our babe." He dropped a hand to her still taut belly, his touch imbued with an extra degree of reverence.
"I'm sorry," Bella whispered. "I'll be more cautious in future. Does this mean you won't give me any more lessons in defending myself?"
She raised her head, and his heart fell to see her eyes were shining. The last thing he'd wanted to do was upset her.
"A promise is a promise." He gently wiped a tear from her cheek. "But we'll stick to less strenuous methods and rest assured, you will never be required to put anything you learn into practise. Not only are you the most important person in my world, Bella, you could be carrying our child, and he or she stands to inherit the kingdom one day."
"You would let our daughter ascend the throne?"
"If we're only blessed with girls, I don't see why not." Enjoying the stunned but pleased expression on her face, he drew her head to rest against his chest. "If she's anything like you, she'll be more than capable."
Thinking about their potential daughters and sons caused a spreading warmth in Edward's chest. The future stretched before them, not without obstacles, but he smiled in anticipation of the joys they were sure to experience. His confidence was not unfounded, as he'd already had a taste of heaven on earth . . . all because of the beautiful, courageous, and loving woman in his arms.
Sigh... I do love these two, and I guess I'm not the only one. I've had lots of requests to continue this story, but I'm not sure how to proceed. I could try and tell more of the story from Edward and Bella's pov, but I've got the plots roughly mapped out for two more stories in this 'series'. First up would come Alice, the widowed seamstress with a mysterious past, and Jasper, the spycatching baron's tale. Then would come Rosalie, the 'ice queen', married against her will to Emmett, the rakish prince's story. I'm keen to tell both tales, but I'm aware that most fanfic readers don't read anything other than Edward/Bella tales. If only a few readers are interested, I'll probably go ahead and write the stories and just self publish them on Amazon but give my fanfic readers the pdfs for free. Either way, I'll have to self publish them eventually, though I wouldn't do that until they're finished, and I'd still offer the pdf to my fanfic readers. I'd love to hear if you're interested in reading the other stories in the series or only E/B stories.
Sorry for the long AN, but if you're interested, the following explains my reason for needing to publish my stories and not just writing for fanfic -
As some of you may be aware, I've had some health problems the last few years. I had to quit working as a counsellor due to a neurological disorder that affects my voice and esophagus. At first, the doctors thought I had Motor Neurone Disease (called ALS in the US), as it's in the family and killed my mother. Thankfully, that wasn't the case (I wouldn't still be here if it was!), but we didn't know for some time. The doctors told me that if there was anything I wanted to do, I should do it straight away, so my husband quit his job and we went on a wonderful, four month caravanning trip around Australia last year. Unfortunately, when we returned, his job as a mentor and support worker with foster children, which he'd been promised would be kept for him, was gone due to government cuts. Now he's working casual as a delivery driver, and I'm on disability, so even though I'm not making a lot from my writing, every little bit helps.
I'm not saying this to get sympathy (really, I'm doing fine and soooo grateful to be alive), but to try and explain why I need to publish my stories on Amazon. I much prefer writing fanfic, as I love the feedback and interaction with my readers, whereas writing for publication is hard work and very isolating. So...I'm going to try and do both by writing for fanfic and then publishing but only after the stories are complete. I realise this will really upset some fanfic readers, but one thing I've learned since becoming a writer is that it is impossible to please everyone! My hope is that most of you lovely folks will understand, as writing is all I can do now.
Thanks again for all your support and your patience with this crazily long author note!
Passion and Propriety, the first book in my Regency 'Hearts of Honour' series, is now available on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and through TWCS. It's receiving fantastic reviews, and I do hope you give it a go. :)
Here's the summary -
A hidden beauty . . . a wounded beast. Can the curse threatening their happiness be broken?
There is absolutely nothing improper about Hannah Foster, the vicar of Hartley's eldest and least pretty daughter, nursing the badly wounded Viscount Blackthorn back to health—that's if the returned officer can be saved. At twenty-seven, she is two years the man's senior, a confirmed spinster, and far too sensible to develop feelings for her patient. The fact he was once her childhood friend, has grown into a fine specimen of a man—his terrible scars notwithstanding—and seems as lost and lonely as she sometimes feels has no bearing on the matter.
Even if the unthinkable were to happen and William was to see past her plain exterior and recognise the caring, intelligent, passionate woman beneath, he is determined to break the curse that has plagued his family for generations by letting his bloodline die out. Her best friend Grace's warnings are moot; a man of Lord Blackthorn's wealth and position would never be interested in a woman like Hannah . . . would he?