Wednesday, January 9, 2013 | By: Jenny

Haunted Angel Chapter 34

Chapter 34
Hands flew to the hems of shirts, while others blindly reached for the bedroom iPod or locked our bedroom door. I needed to block out the rest of the house...or at least drown out the sounds we were making. Words were barely uttered between us as our lips stayed attached. Shoes and socks were scattered across the room, shirts were yanked roughly over heads, and jeans were savagely shoved down, if not ripped off completely. I hardly had time to register sweet lilac underwear before they, too, were made to disappear.
I'd never wanted a human to go to sleep so badly in all my life, but now that she had, lust had filled the house. I knew Jasper couldn't help it. I also knew that Caroline and Archie were new at trying to get a handle on everything they were feeling, but damn, she'd played video games for hours, only to then ask Archie to play chess. And that had resulted in way too many sexual thoughts between them.
Archie was trying his damnedest to be a gentleman, but having Caroline accept him, having her blue eyes dance over him at every possible opportunity had caused his emotions to spiral out of control. I understood it because Bella and I had done the exact same thing, not to mention every other couple in the house, but all of it at once was driving the entire family crazy.
The soft, smooth, romantic notes of Nat King Cole's "I Remember You" wafted out of our speakers. As much as I wanted to revel in the words of the song I'd added most recently, I couldn't. I needed skin, more kisses, just...more. I needed long, strong legs wrapped around my head, my hips – it didn't matter which. I needed to touch, be touched, and I needed the push and pull that only Bella could give me.
Invisible fingers suddenly appeared at a flushed sleeping human cheek, lightly brushing blonde hair out of the way...
Blonde hair draped across blue sheets as a large frame loomed over...
Lips and tongue tracing over multiple immortal scars...hands weaving into black, spiky hair to hold them there...
Strong male hands gripped and pulled at broad, masculine shoulders, chest to back, as whispers of now and ready were called out while fingers fumbled with lubricant...
Honey-colored hair was wrapped around a strong hand from behind, wrenching back to expose the sensual curve of a neck...
My snarl was loud, long, and low as I lowered Bella down into the middle of our bed. Seeing Esme and Carlisle together was my breaking point.
"If you love me, use that damn shield, Bella!" I growled low, pressing my forehead to hers as I tried to ignore every member of our family in situations I never needed to see...and from every angle.
"Okay, okay," she panted, placing her hands flat on either side of my face. "Shh, I've got you, baby," she soothed against my lips.
The beautiful mental silence that descended upon me made me practically collapse onto Bella in relief. Dropping to my elbows, I thanked her over and over, placing kisses on random soft spots of skin – behind her ear, along the slope of her neck, across her sweet-tasting collarbone, and finally, over my scar – my immortal claim on her.
She arched up into me in a graceful arc, trying to fight her smile and control her sounds at the same time.
"So not funny, Isabella," I said with a dramatic gruffness to my voice, which only resulted in a giggle escaping my sweet, silly girl.
I smiled against the top of her breast because I truly loved that sound, even if sometimes, it was at my own expense. Bracing on one hand so that the other was free to touch, cup, pinch, I loomed over her, losing myself in her deep, dark eyes. Bella's nipple peaked tightly when my thumb swirled around it.
"I don't need their lust to want you. I always want you. But I only want to see you," I whispered, my eyes flickering from her stunning, aroused face to what my hand was doing. "Your mind, your body, your orgasm." I leaned down to let my mouth take over where my fingers once were. "I only want to hear your voice, sweet, delicious girl," I continued, switching from one breast to the other and keeping my eyes trained on hers as I suckled at her skin. "I only want to hear you call my name, and you one will care."
"Yessss," I hissed against her bellybutton. "Just like that, baby." I slipped lower, nudging her legs farther apart. "And I only want to feel, sense, and taste your lust, my beautiful Bella..." I swirled my tongue along the scar I'd left on her inner thigh not too long ago. "I just want to concentrate on you... Just you."
I smiled when her hips bucked up, seeking my mouth that was so close, yet so far away. Placing a hand flat on her belly, I urged her back down, rubbing gently. With her shield in place, I could slow down, revel in what was spread out before me. The lust-filled haze that had clouded everything in my head was now cleared, allowing even the music to settle around me.
I remember you
You're the one who made
My dreams come true
A few kisses ago
I remember you
You're the one who said
"I love you, too, I do"
Didn't you know?
I swirled my tongue over the super-soft skin that resided just below her navel and then lightly bit each hip bone before crawling back up to her sweet face. Settling beside her, I slid my thigh between her legs, purring at how wet she was for me already. A small, warm hand ghosted up and down my back at the same time the other hand slid slowly up my stomach and over my chest, finally coming to rest at the back of my neck to pull me closer.
"So beautiful," I whispered, grazing the backs of my fingers across her cheek.
The sweetest of smiles graced her features. "I love you, Edward."
Those were my favorite four words in the history of the English language. They were simple and perfect, yet carried the weight of so much meaning in them. We said them a thousand times a day – laughing, teasing, comforting, and just...because. It was all in how we said them. Sometimes, it was dry and sarcastic, with a meaning of "you're lucky I love you, 'cause you're an idiot, Edward." Other times, it was "whatever put that frown on your face shouldn't matter, so remember I love you, Edward." But my favorite was how she'd just said it – in a whisper, like it was a secret, filled with an overflowing amount of emotion that had to be released in some way. She couldn't not say it.
Tracing her bottom lip with my thumb, I sighed contentedly as she played with my hair at the back of my head. "Love you, too, my sweet girl."
Leaning down, my lips swept over hers – top, bottom, left, right. She whimpered softly, a sound that made a little of my regained control slip just a bit. Tongues slid together, my own moan escaping. The fingers of one of my hands wove into her hair at the same time the other hand sought out the soft skin of her breast, her sides, and her ass, only to squeeze and pull her closer, trapping my steel-hard dick between us. But that movement caused her swollen and sensitive core to grind up my thigh, eliciting the growling purr that I loved to hear.
"Yeah?" I asked her, pressing my forehead to hers and hitching her leg higher around my waist, only to cup her sweet ass one more time.
Her hips rolled again, causing her mouth to hang open just a little and her breath to catch in her throat. In her mind, my thigh was hard, sexy, muscular, and giving her just the right about of friction.
"Oh, baby, you want to come this way?" I asked her, dragging my teeth across the curve of her shoulder. This time, I guided her hips with a little more pressure while my thigh came up.
Bella nodded, and she rolled her hips again. Her whole body shuddered, her fingers now securing themselves into my hair and onto my shoulder. Her breathing sputtered out in stilted pants, and she kissed me senseless. My cock twitched between us when her grinding, her kissing, and her gripping hands didn't let up. Something about my girl using any part of me to make herself feel good, to make herself come caused a possessive growl to rumble through my chest, which was fitting because the song changed to the next one I'd added.
"You Belong To Me" by Dean Martin wafted out of the speakers, one again drowning out the rest of the house and activities.
Trailing long, nipping, open-mouthed kisses down her throat to her ear, I whispered, "I can feel how wet you are, Bella. You're close, too."
It was the truth; her arousal was dripping down my leg with each clench of her sweet pussy. And damn it, I wanted to tell her that, but a houseful of family made me monitor my words.
As it was, I still couldn't help encouraging her. "Come for me, love. All over me," I purred in her ear. "I want to feel you against my skin. Don't you want to come for me, baby?"
"Yes! So close," she agreed in a hiss, grasping either side of my face. Her teeth nipped at my lips as we shared the same breath. Our eyes locked – onyx to onyx – and our lips barely touched as she got closer and closer to the edge. "Please, Edward..."
More, she thought loudly to me, showing me exactly what she wanted. And at that moment, I was never so grateful that she allowed me into her amazing mind.
My lips curled up into a wicked smile as the hand that was cupping her bottom slid toward her center. Gathering a little of her arousal, I swirled a finger around her other entrance and gave her just enough pressure to cause her head to fall back and her breathing to stop. But her whole body started to quake.
"More?" I asked almost breathlessly, giving her just a touch more pressure.
"Shit," she gasped and nodded against my forehead, gripping my hair almost painfully, but I couldn't find it in me to care at the moment.
I guided her once, twice, three times over my thigh, never stopping my kisses to her neck or my touches to her ass. Bella in full orgasm was a sight to behold, especially when it snuck up on her. I felt her core clench, her fingers twitch, and her breathing stop, and with a gentle thrust of my finger, I sank into her two knuckles deep. My name never sounded as good as when she chanted it in a whispered prayer.
"Mmm," I purred, unable to keep my own hips from pushing against her stomach. "That's my girl," I praised in a whisper, nipping at her still open mouth. "I love it when you come on me..." I admitted aloud. It took a few minutes for Bella to come down from her high, and when her eyes focused back onto my face, I smiled. "There she is."
She huffed a laugh, and it was sexy and husky and sated, but I could tell she was far from being through with me. "God, baby, it's official..." she murmured, kissing me sweetly. "You feel amazing...everywhere."
"So do you, sweet girl," I told her with a smile and a wink, rubbing the cheeks of her ass for emphasis, which made her grin.
Pushing at me, she rolled me onto my back so she could straddle me. Bracing her hands on my shoulders, she leaned down to kiss me, but the feel of her pussy sliding up and down my now almost painful erection made me growl low.
I'll be so alone without you
Maybe you'll be lonesome too and blue
Fly the ocean in a sliver plane
See the jungle when it's wet with rain
Just remember til you're home again
You belong to me
Bella registered the words of the song and sat up a little, gazing down at me. "Feeling a little old-school, are we?" she teased softly, but the warmth of her eyes, the question in her mind told me she heard what the song meant.
"I'm not sure I appreciated them then as much as I can now," I answered her honestly.
Singers – or the old crooners, as they were called – back then were the epitome of romance, love, and sweeping a girl off their feet. Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Bing Crosby were the kings of it all back then. However, as much as I had appreciated their talent, none of it had meant anything to me. Until Bella.
"I see," she whispered, leaning down to kiss me again. "And you picked a song about separation because..." It was her gentle way of asking what the hell I was thinking, bringing up the past.
"Because," I said, grasping either side of her gorgeous face and kissing her. "Because no matter where I were still home to me. You still are, even if we're in the same damn room. And you would've always belonged to me."
She smiled again, humming sweetly against my lips. "I love you, Edward."
There was again, the inability not to say it. And I held her gaze for a beat more.
"Bella, love... Please..." I whispered in a begging tone, my hands unable to not grip her and grind her over me.
My girl lifted just enough so that I could guide myself to her entrance. The moan of relief and want that escaped me as she sank down over me would have been embarrassing had she not let out the same strangled noise. She was warm and wet, gripping me like a hot vise, and she felt like sin and home all rolled into one singular feeling.
My human girl had been awkward and clumsy – traits that endeared her to me. But my immortal Bella was graceful and strong as she rode me. She was fluid motion and sex incarnate, doing what came naturally to make me and herself feel good. She was dark eyes and red lips, grasping hands and strong thighs, and her hair fell about her shoulders like a wild mane. She looked dangerous, ethereal, and the essence of everything I'd ever wanted within hands reach. And yes, my hands reached...and touched and pinched and groped. They flattened against her stomach so that I could feel myself moving inside of her, they gripped her ass to move her faster, harder, and they trailed over peaked nipples, immortal scars, finally swirling over her swollen bundle of nerves.
Bella leaned back, bracing herself on my thighs and opening herself completely to me. There had never been a more perfect sight than watching my cock move in and out of her. As she lost herself to the feel of us, her head fell back with another orgasm, and her shield slipped just a little, allowing the tidal wave of lust that was filling the house to flood me. The entire lot of us were lost to it, including Archie, who had fled from the house and into the woods.
Shifting quickly and rolling us until I was looming over her, I forced Bella's gaze to mine. "Please, please... Shield us, baby," I panted, nipping at her lips. "Please? I just want you..."
"Sorry, sorry," she chanted weakly, but I cut her off with a kiss as I drove into her harder, faster, deeper.
I didn't acknowledge her apology, nor did I want it. I simply couldn't handle seeing that many couples in ways I shouldn't...not all at once. It was sexual overload – and disturbing, if I were to be honest. Before Bella, I would've copied Archie, running from the house to save my sanity. But as it was, I wasn't alone, and all I wanted was just...Bella. And her talent gave that to me, without questioning it.
Firm fingers gripped my hair, pulling my face from her breast to hers, at the same time another hand grabbed my ass to thrust harder.
"Come, Edward," she commanded, bringing my forehead to hers so that we were eye to eye. "You're so close, baby. My turn to feel it."
I didn't want the bliss to end, but her voice, her touch owned me. With two more thrusts, I came with a long, low, loud growl that ended in a satisfied purr as I kissed her softly – each eye, her nose, her lips, the tip of her nose, and finally, her forehead.
"Thank you," I whispered against her wrinkling brow. "You have no idea what I was seeing."
She snorted, and it turned into a giggle. "Don't tell me. I never, ever want to know."
"Me, either," I sighed, smiling when she giggled again. "Unfortunately, I'm scarred for eternity."
"Poor thing," she crooned, though I could hear the teasing tone in it. "I'm sure there's not enough brain bleach for an occasion such as this."
I was pouting and shaking my head no before she even finished that statement. "Nope. Not at all."
"I'll just maintain my shield, then," she snorted.
Using just my hearing, I listened to the house. My family was still otherwise occupied in various stages, and the healthy thump of Caroline's heart told me that she was still sleeping soundly, but I couldn't hear Archie.
"Actually, love, lift it just for a moment," I told her, shifting us so that I was leaning back against the headboard of the bed. Gathering her to my side, I dropped a kiss to the top of her head. "Damn," I said, flinching at what hit me, but I was searching for one person. Once I located him just inside the back woods, I murmured, "Okay, okay," in sympathy for him. He was also...occupied.
She snorted, slamming her shield down around us. "That bad? I mean, I hear them, but..."
I sighed, rolling my eyes. "It's a vicious cycle," I told her. "Jasper can't help it, but that's not the worst part."
She nodded, kissing my chest before propping up to look at me. "Mom and Dad?" she asked with a laugh.
"Yes!" I cracked up, my head thumping back to the wall. "As if I didn't see it enough for the last eighty years."
"Well," she chirped, scooting up to kiss my chin, "now you have me!"
Grinning at the pure truth of that statement, I kissed her lips softly and pulled her back on top of me. "Yes. Yes, I do."
"We won't be gone long, sweet girl," Edward vowed, lifting me up and setting me on the bathroom vanity. "Archie needs to hunt, and Carlisle is using it as an opportunity to talk to him before Caroline wakes up."
"Where will you go?" I asked, my eyes raking over his bare chest as he stood between my legs in nothing but a black pair of jeans that fit him like a damn glove.
"Not far. I promise," he stated, kissing my forehead.
Droplets of water still clung to his freshly showered skin. My fingers skimmed over the soft trail of hair that disappeared behind denim, only to tease the skin of the V on either side of his stomach. With flat hands, I reveled in abs, pecs, and finally, the back of his neck, pulling his face to mine. He smelled divine; his skin was still warm, and his hair was still wet. Maybe there was still a remnant of lust floating around the house, because Edward seemed absolutely irresistible. Or maybe it was just me.
He smiled into the kiss at first, slowly stepping closer and claiming my mouth with his tongue. That amazing masculine moan met my ears as my fingernails lightly scratched down his strong back. Edward slowed the kiss down, cupping my face and pulling back to look me in the eye. His expression was a mix of pain and smugness.
"Bella, please... I can't tell you no. Ever," he begged in a whisper, nuzzling my nose with his own. "But Carlisle wants me with them."
Grinning, I kissed him roughly before pulling back farther. "Sorry."
He laughed, and it was sexy and deep. "No, you're not. And I don't want you to be," he stated, still chuckling.
I couldn't help but giggle, but I reached over to grab a towel. I rubbed it over the top of his head, drying the excess water. When I was done, I ran my fingers through it, giggling that the only time it could be tamed was when it was still damp.
Edward rolled his eyes. "Believe me, I know."
I smiled and bit at my bottom lip, just gazing up at him. "I love it, so stop bitching."
"I stopped...complaining in 1922," he snorted, rolling his eyes again at having to clean up his language when it was just us and shrugging a shoulder when I burst out laughing. "I just accepted that it would always be...that." He pointed to his head as the locks – now much drier – fell the way they usually did, with a casual, sexy carelessness, but it was paired with the most adorable disgruntled face as he studied himself in the mirror.
Laughing again, I grasped his face. "God, I love you, Edward. Go, before I tell Carlisle he can't have you."
Edward shot me a wink and his crooked grin and then snatched his dark green shirt off the hanger, buttoning it up swiftly before rolling up the sleeves. Quickly, he braced his hands on either side of my legs and kissed me roughly.
"I won't be long. We aren't going far. I'll be back before you can miss me," he vowed again, waiting until I nodded. He was making sure I knew our connection wouldn't be tested, that we wouldn't be in pain. "Love you, my sweet, beautiful girl."
With one more brief kiss, he was out of the bathroom, through the bedroom door, and down the stairs. I sighed in defeat, hopped down to the floor, and padded out into the bedroom to watch out the window as Carlisle led all the boys, except for Kevin, through the backyard and into the woods. It was still dark, and the sun wouldn't be up for at least another hour. Once they stepped into the trees, they sped off.
I could hear the telltale steady beat of Caroline's heart as she continued to sleep. I could hear activity all over the house with everyone else left behind. There was a lazy feel to the movements, which made me smile and shake my head. The night before had been...crazy, to say the least.
Poor Jasper hadn't been able to contain all that Caroline and Archie had been feeling. It escalated to a point where we all were just about to claw out of our own skin for her to go to bed. Hell, Emmett and Rose didn't even bother to wait. Edward was right; it was all a vicious cycle. Jasper could only push out what he was being hit with, so that, in turn, caused the rest of us to ramp up the lust level. Poor Edward, though, always got the worst of it. It was one thing to feel it but a completely different thing to see it through everyone's minds.
I groaned, shaking my head to myself as I dressed in a pair of jeans and a sweater as I remembered him begging for my shield. I couldn't imagine what he'd seen...nor did I want to. Very rarely did he ask for it, so it had to have been mental overload.
I gazed around our room, smirking at how clothes were scattered everywhere. Edward's jeans were shredded, but mine had survived, which was a surprise due to how we'd behaved. Gathering up the clothes that had endured, not to mention the basket in the bathroom, I toted it all downstairs to start a load of laundry. Kevin and Esme were already in the kitchen when I plopped my basket down onto the table.
"Oh good! By all means, Goddess, go first," Kevin gestured with a dramatic bow toward the washer and dryer. "I hate laundry. Maybe I can push it off until tomorrow."
Grinning, I rolled my eyes at him. "Give it here, Kev. I'll wash yours with ours," I told him, and he gasped, falling at my feet. "'re folding with me."
"Anything!" he cried, wrapping his arms around my legs.
I gave a laughing Esme a dry look, which made her kiss my cheek. "You're his hero, Bella."
"Actually, Jasper's the real hero," Kevin snorted, standing up before raising his eyebrows up and down lasciviously. "I should buy him something nice."
Cracking up at Esme's nod, I went about separating colors and whites, adding Adrian's and Kevin's clothes into the two piles. Once the first load was washing, I joined the two of them at the counter.
"What do you think? Flowers?" Kevin asked with a grin.
"This was your first time with Jasper losing control, huh?" I snorted, shaking my head at him.
"You can't tell me that wasn't...a boost," he argued.
Smirking, I looked between Kevin and Esme, who was looking overly innocent. "It's fantastic, but I'm not sure Edward would agree." They both froze, which caused a laugh to bark out of me. "Oh ho! You forget he can see everything. Poor thing just about lost his mind."
"That's kinda hot – in a voyeuristic sort of way," Kevin mused, but then his nose wrinkled. "Except...Heavy E isn't that kinky."
"Well, he doesn't like to watch his family, if that's what you're asking," I said with a chuckle, neither confirming, nor denying Edward's kinkiness level – which was a force to be reckoned with all on its own.
Esme sighed, fighting her smile. "My poor boy," she cooed. "He's so sweet never to say a thing about it." She slid her laptop over to me. "Sweetheart, do me a favor, and check Mr. Dixon's flight. Make sure it's still going to be taking off on time in a few hours."
"Sweet," Kevin scoffed, rolling his eyes. "Just imagine all the twisted information that Edward has in that head of his. A hundred and fifteen years of every sexy idea anyone ever thought around him..."
Esme laughed and looked to me.
I simply grinned, focusing on the computer screen. "I'm a lucky, lucky girl," I sang, chuckling when they both laughed.
By the time the sun was coming up, I had checked on Tim Dixon's flight, which was running on time so far, and verified his rental car. I'd also answered a few emails from home while I was sitting there, but I knew I needed to call Charlie soon.
Kevin and Esme discussed several different topics – Archie and Caroline being one of them – as Esme prepared not only Caroline's breakfast, but her lunch, as well. She'd thought out loud about making dinner for all of us, considering Tim's impending arrival, but she wasn't sure he'd stay.
"Bet he doesn't set a foot inside this house," I muttered as I shopped online with Kevin looking over my shoulder. I grinned when he pointed to different colors and styles of lingerie. "Pink or green?"
"Yup. Both," he answered with a nod. "Heavy E will love both, most assuredly. And I'm with you... I don't think that man will be brave enough to come inside."
Alice and Rose wandered into kitchen.
Alice pointed over my shoulder to the screen from behind me. "You'll want the black and the silvery gray, too. Trust me," she said in that all-knowing, sing-song way.
Giggling, I added them to the cart before getting up to pull out the first dry load of clothes. When I sat back down, Rose had added four more sets to my order.
She grinned. "Definitely the cobalt blue," she said with a wink.
She'd also added two floral sets and a red set, and I nodded in approval, finally checking out and closing Esme's laptop.
"Mr. Dixon comes inside the house, but he doesn't stay long. He'll say he wants to get on the road, but really, he still fears this place," Alice said knowingly and turned to Esme. "So don't bother with dinner."
"Okay," Esme sang. "Good to know."
"So what was this boys' club meeting about?" Rose asked with a laugh.
"Archie," Esme responded softly. "Carlisle thought he'd be more comfortable around the men discussing what happened last night."
"Oh," Kevin and I both murmured.
Grimacing, I checked on Kevin's and my clothes again. My thoughts drifted to Edward, wondering how awful it had to have been as an un-mated vampire to be in a house filled with the amount of lust like the night before. It was difficult to concentrate even when we were coupled off, so I couldn't fathom what Edward had been through over the years. And that led me to Archie. I hadn't even given his situation a second thought, which made me feel just terrible. There was a part of me that felt I should apologize, but knowing Archie the way I did, it would only embarrass him further.
"Damn," I sighed, sitting back down. "I forgot all about Archie."
"Yeah," Rose agreed with a grimace. "It's Edward all over again."
"Exactly," Esme stated firmly, "which is why your father took the boys out." She looked to me with a warmth and sadness to her eyes. "Edward wouldn't speak of this before you came along. He sort of buried his head in the sand about it, and we allowed it. He became rather bitter about being alone and having to endure nights like last night, and Carlisle doesn't want that to happen with Archie."
"Edward ignored it...avoided it," Alice added with a nod. "But really, I suppose we should've talked about it."
I was shaking my head before she finished. "That's not Edward. To speak of it would be admitting what he saw, and he hates that he invades your privacy, especially like that. I'm not sure you would've gotten him to talk; he would've considered the topic inappropriate. Archie's at least different in the fact that he doesn't see everything." I tapped my temple.
"Hmm, that's true, too," Rose concurred but looked up when Caroline's heartbeat changed. "She's waking up."
Just about that time, her phone rang, and she answered it sleepily. It was her father, letting her know that he was just about to leave for the airport, which meant it was super early for him on the west coast.
Her heartbeat changed again, signaling that her anxiety had kicked up a bit. For a split second, I wondered if she was nervous about her father and whatever possible punishment she would receive for running away, or that she was sad about leaving. Nudging Kevin, I gestured that we needed to finish our laundry, so we piled it all up into two baskets and took it upstairs to Edward's and my room as Alice and Rose said they were running a quick errand into town.
"Come, my laundry-hating friend," I teased Kevin, spreading the clothes out on my bed.
"Don't judge me. I'm just...better at other things," Kevin said with a salacious grin.
I snorted. "I bet."
The two of us chatted aimlessly for a few minutes as I stored away the bigger stuff in my closet and dresser, separating our clothes from Kevin's and Adrian's. It had been a long time since just Kevin and I had hung out. There was always someone home or mates to tend to or distractions that interrupted.
We listened as Caroline padded her way into the kitchen. She was quiet with Esme but thanked her graciously for making her breakfast. Esme also explained to her where the boys and Alice and Rose had gone.
"Send her upstairs, Esme," I said in a normal voice, knowing she could hear me.
"Make yourself at home, Caroline. The boys won't be long, but Bella and Kevin are upstairs – the last room at the top – if you'd like to join them," she told the girl. "Kevin hates chores, so Bella tends to keep him on the straight and narrow. They're folding laundry."
Kevin snorted, grinning up at me.
"Damn straight," I growled, throwing a pair of his or Adrian's underwear at him.
Whereas Kevin hated laundry, I liked it. It was a soothing chore. It was something I'd done as a human, and I still continued to do it. It reminded me that despite the fact that I was surrounded with never-ending wealth and immortality, I was merely a married woman, still just Bella. It was the simplest of chores that made me feel...normal – simply a wife taking care of her husband. I never needed to cook or do dishes, unless we had the rare human visitor, and I never had to work or send my Edward off to a tedious job every day, so this was my humbling activity.
By the time Caroline had trudged up the stairs, I had finished helping Kevin with folding Adrian's many T-shirts, and we were working on socks and underwear.
Her heartbeat could be heard way before the soft knock on the door frame.
I looked up and smiled. "Morning. Come on in."
She was holding a mug of coffee, giving Edward's and my room a long, slow gaze. "Hey," she said with a sweet smile. "This is beautiful."
"This is Alice's doing," I countered with a laugh, but I walked to the dresser, switching out the bedroom iPod for Edward's personal one. Finding his playlist of rock ranging from just about every decade, I set it on random. "She and Esme are pretty amazing when it comes to decorating," I finished, gesturing for her to feel free to wander around.
"Yeah, but this wasn't..." She stopped, smiling and shaking her head. "This was an attic."
Kevin laughed. "Yeah, it was. But Heavy E and the boys did a damn fine job."
She smirked. "Why do you call him that?"
"Edward?" Kevin asked with a laugh, and she nodded.
I snorted and rolled my eyes, patting him on the shoulder. "That's all you. Keep it clean."
Kevin gave Caroline the watered-down version of his story, including how he knew us when he was human, seeing the boys play live, and the nickname I'd given Edward at the time – Hot Doc. She giggled at that but listened closely. Kevin went on to explain everyone's nicknames, but Edward's was a joke. He'd met up with us in London one night for a Open Mic Night. He'd been backstage with my brothers, who'd told him that when Edward arrived, he should send him back to help unload his equipment – therefore earning the title Dr. Heavy Equipment, because it took three people to unload it.
"Ah, Heavy E." She snorted, shaking her head, but turned to me. "Doctor? Really?"
"Hmm?" I hummed, looking up from the mountain of socks in front of me on the bed. "Yeah, two times over, actually. He's amazing with kids."
"Why doesn't he do it all the time, like Carlisle?" she asked.
I wrinkled my nose and sighed, balling up another pair and tossing them into Kevin's basket. "A few reasons. Edward's age, first of all. He looks young, so nurses and other doctors don't truly take him seriously. Second, it starts to weigh on him. As much as he likes the minds of children because they're so open and sweet, the mind of a sick child hurts him when he can't just...fix them. And then...there's me. Hospital hours are long, and Edward can be very dedicated, but we can't go long periods apart. We found that out the hard way not too long ago."
Kevin kissed the side of my head and then turned to Caroline. "Bells and Edward are...different. They're mated, but..."
"Oh!" she gasped, nodding a little. "Esme told me. The complete soul thing."
I smiled sadly and nodded. "Completi l'anima. Yeah, it can kill us, actually."
Caroline grimaced. "Yeah, she told me that, too. Does it scare you?"
I huffed a soft laugh through my nose. "No. It's...amazing. And we've learned to work around it. The family helps. Like today, the boys aren't far. At least, they're within our tested range. It scares Carlisle more than anyone because when Edward and I were apart, we could've died, and we didn't know it. We didn't know why we were in pain, and my being human could've really caused things to end...poorly."
Caroline had been told our story, so I knew she'd understand what I was talking about. She frowned a little but glanced up at the wall that was covered in black and white photos. They were every stage of our lives together, starting with prom at Forks High and ending with silly faces taken with a phone. Our wedding, Italy, football games, photo booths, dancing at clubs, Isle Esme, and Edward's favorite – the one Jasper had taken while I was reading one of Edward's beautifully penned notes – were all up there. Esme and Alice tended to decorate around them everywhere we moved. They knew color schemes and furniture weren't important to Edward and me, but those pictures damn sure were.
"Your wedding was beautiful," she whispered.
"Alice," Kevin sang with a chuckle. "You have to understand... Bella doesn't care about the silly details of colors and cake and wallpaper."
I laughed. "That's very true. And thank you. That was one of the best days of my life."
I glanced over to the box filled with every letter Edward had ever written me. I didn't even have to look because I knew for a fact that the one he'd left for me the day we got married was at the front. It might have even been my very favorite because it had been filled with a vow that he'd never run away from me again. And sitting atop that very box was the little stuffed lion that he'd left with that note. No, I didn't care about colors, invitations, or even how my room was decorated, but I reveled in all the little ways Edward had shown me his love throughout the years. He showed it with pride and a romantic flair, wearing it honorably, like a knight in a suit of arms.
Her eyes zeroed in on prom. It was obvious that I was still human. Despite the black and white of the picture, my face was flushed and showing every bit of what I felt for the angelic creature beside me. Edward's beautiful face was pained, though just as excited and lovesick. We were so lost and confused back then but unable to hide a single bit of the love we felt.
Caroline smiled, reaching up to straighten a frame or two. "I read your book ages ago, you know," she started softly, and Kevin smiled up at me. "Back in California, all my friends were enamored with it. I read it out of sheer pressure, but it struck me hard. I wanted that. I wanted what you found – the love that would never die." She smirked, meeting my gaze. "Best line ever... 'When you can live forever, what do you live for?'"
I chuckled. "Jasper," I stated. "He was very...involved in publishing that book."
She grinned and sat down on my chaise, sipping her coffee. I balled up a few more pairs of socks, trying to determine which basket they belonged. The music switched songs to "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey. I had to smile at how the words were fitting for the moment, because the next series of questions that she hit me with gave me a glimpse into what she was thinking.
"I think with how my mom was, I really connected with that book. I wanted something that wouldn't fade away," she sighed, the smile falling from her face. "I watched my friends flit from one guy to the next. I just didn't see the point."
"No kidding," Kevin agreed with a nod. "That shit almost got me fucking killed," he muttered, rolling his eyes.
I ruffled his hair but then ran my fingers through it. I remembered the bloody mess he'd been when he'd shown up on my doorstep after a night of poor decisions. If it hadn't been for Edward, we'd have lost Kevin that night. I was sure of it.
Caroline listened to the music for a moment, focusing on her coffee mug. "In the kissed."
Smirking, I shoved a snickering Kevin. "Yes."
"Did that happen?" she asked, still zeroed in on her coffee.
"Oh, yes." I chuckled, throwing the last pair of socks into the basket and getting up to sit next to her on the edge of the chaise. "Edward really did drive me crazy."
She grinned at her hands but then looked up at me. "How... How did it work?"
"Very carefully," Kevin piped up from my bed with a guffawing laugh.
She regarded both of us with a serious yet slightly embarrassed face. "Tell me, please."
I studied her face, sighing deeply at how this had changed from just getting to know each other to plotting on poor Archie to kiss him stupid. Because I could see it in her eyes. She was determined; it was a look that I recognized immediately. I'd worn that very look more times as a human than I could count.
I glanced back over to Kevin. "Good thing Jasper's not here," I told him with a grin.
"No shit," he agreed. "I can barely walk today as it is," he murmured just low enough that Caroline didn't hear him, and it took all I had not to laugh.
Turning back to Caroline, I said, "Actually, Kevin's right. You have to be extremely careful."
"I don't think Archie...wants to," she whispered shyly. "He'll move away or just...change the subject."
Sighing, I turned her to face me. "Remember what I said about hundred year old vampires that are set in their ways?" I asked her, and she nodded, wide-eyed. "Good, because this is where you need to find your patience, Caroline. You need to understand all that surrounds you."
"First of all," Kevin added, "he's a guy...he definitely wants to."
I nodded. "That's very true, but he has to be so, so careful, sweetie. He could crush you if he reached too fast or gripped you too hard. Not to mention our teeth are extremely dangerous. There's also the blood factor. Okay?"
Her face fell. "But Edward did it..."
I smiled and nodded. "He did. And some days, he pushed himself way too far. Or rather...I pushed Edward too far."
I snorted to myself, thinking that if Edward was listening, he would be eating this up, because our first few kisses were a prime example of lust overload. As a human, there had been no way to stop myself, and he'd had to use every bit of his control and restraint. Thinking back, I probably should've apologized to him.
"Yeah, I did the same thing to Adrian," Kevin said with a chuckle. He got up from the bed to kneel in front of us. "Quick movements, rushes of adrenaline, and certain...needs can kick our kind into overdrive. Where, as a human, you don't feel all of that or sense it, we can, and it can push us over the edge. Lust and blood and sex kinda all get wrapped up into one feeling for us."
My eyebrows shot up at Kevin's honesty, but he was simply trying to help.
"So he could...kill me? All over a kiss?" she gasped, looking forlorn.
I let out a deep breath. "I don't know." I shrugged, taking her mug and setting it on the table next to the chaise. Picking up her hands, I said, "That certainly is something to keep in mind, but knowing Archie, I'm willing to bet this is a factor of propriety more than blood." When she looked confused, I went on. "You need to understand the era in which he was born, sweetie, and the fact that he hasn't really seen how much of the world has changed except through us, TV, and the little that he's seen around town in only the last six months."
"He's had some severe culture shock, that's for sure," Kevin stated firmly and without teasing. "I'm betting Dr. Feel Good is having this same conversation right now." He grinned when I snorted into a laugh.
"Probably." I giggled, looking back to Caroline. "Look, Caroline, we've explained how some things are ingrained in us when we change, so you have to understand that the era they're born in comes with them. I say 'they' because Edward is from that very same time frame. He was raised to believe that everything – and I do mean everything – waited until after marriage. Courting was a ritual that required supervision by the girl's parents. They didn't touch or hold hands, though Edward said that sometimes, the chaperone would allow it. The father of the girl had to approve the match, the man had to prove himself worthy of her, and nothing physical happened until the wedding night."
"Tell me you didn't wait until you got married," Caroline gasped.
Kevin laughed, poking her leg a little. "You've seen Heavy E around the Goddess here. Do you honestly believe they could've waited?"
She shook her head no. "No, he's crazy about you..."
"He is," I said with pride. "But all of his old fashioned ways changed after he came back to me," I sighed, giving her a small, sad smile. "He told me that after being away for two years, he'd never deny me again."
Caroline nodded in acceptance of that, but I could see how her mind was working. She was most likely thinking that her patience would kill her.
"Hey," I whispered, waiting until she met my gaze with sad blue eyes. "I said I pushed Edward, not that it wasn't worth it." I winked at her, causing her to smirk. "Sometimes, those stubborn hundred-year-old vampires need a shove in the right direction."
The smile that curled up on her lips was beautiful and a little mischievous. "Thanks, Bella."
"Oh, Lord," Kevin sang, rolling his eyes as his head fell back with his laugh. "Poor Archie..."
Inhaling deeply, I smelled the fresh scent of honey and linen before the sexiest of forms leaned casually in the doorway of our bedroom. Edward crossed one ankle over the other, folding his arms across his chest.
"Poor Archie, indeed," Edward snorted. "You're shameless, Isabella."
"I'm right, Edward Anthony," I countered with a smirk, folding my own arms. "And you know it."
His brow wrinkled at the same time he was fighting his smile. It was one of my most favorite looks of his because it was a internal debate with him. He couldn't decide whether to be reprimanding or amused. Amused almost always won out, especially when Kevin and Caroline were laughing at the same time I was smiling smugly at him. His beautiful smile was blinding as he let out a soft chuckle.
Tell me, my handsome man, that this was the same conversation that you guys just had with Archie, I thought to him.
He nodded once and shot me a wink but then turned to Caroline. "I should give you fair warning that my sisters are planning on some sort of...makeover before your father arrives later this evening, so if you want to see Archie, he's out on the deck waiting for you. He mentioned a walk but promises to have you back in time for lunch."
Kevin and I snorted, looking to Caroline, who was grinning.
"So formal," I teased with a giggle, rolling my eyes. "You and Archie are two peas in a pod, I swear."
Edward laughed, shrugging. "It is what it is, sweet girl."
Caroline giggled and stood up. She grabbed her coffee cup. "Thank you," she said to him, only to turn to me and Kevin. "Thank you, too." She smiled at Edward on her way out the door.
We nodded, and I shoved Kevin. "Get your clothes, you lazy thing."
"I love you, my Goddess," he whispered, kissing my head once he stood up. "Have I told you that lately?"
"Yeah. The last time I did your laundry," I muttered. "I'm sensing a pattern. Do I need to ask the mind reader?"
"I love you...laundry or not." Kevin laughed, grabbing up his full basket and nudging Edward on his way by. "Tell her, Heavy E."
"She knows." Edward sighed, shaking his head at us. Once we were alone, he knelt in front of me. "Oh, my beautiful girl...are you ever right about Archie."
I smirked, running my fingers through his hair. "Did you tell him that it's worth the struggle?"
"Mmm, I did."
"Did you tell him that he'll regret not kissing her?"
"Yes, ma'am."
"Did you tell him that she'll be overcome and kiss him back with fire and love and things she can't control?"
"Repeatedly." Edward's voice was smooth, like melted chocolate, but so sweet and sexy. His eyes darkened just a touch.
"And what did he say?"
He smiled crookedly, huffing one laugh. "That he can't wait."
Grinning, I brushed a lock of Edward's hair from his forehead so that I could press my lips to it. "Good," I whispered against his smooth skin.
"Beautiful?" he asked, pulling me back to meet my eyes.
"Don't you ever apologize for your reactions to our first kisses," he stated firmly, almost angrily. "I lived for them. Okay?"
Smiling, I pressed my forehead to his. "Me, too, Edward."
He brushed his lips across mine. "Good. Now, let's brace ourselves for this day. Archie isn't exactly ready to let her go."
I nodded solemnly. "She's the same. We'll just have to be there for them, baby."
Edward sighed and nodded in agreement, offering me his hand once he stood up. "We don't exactly have any other choice. Though, I'm always hoping – for his sake – that something changes."


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