Sunday, January 27, 2013 | By: Jenny

Haunted Angel Chapter 39

Chapter 39
BELLA
My eyes took in Rio, causing a smile to curl my lips. I remembered my beautiful wedding and an endless flight to get here. Getting busted making out in the wee hours of the morning on the last flight into Rio, along with never-ending games of Hangman and Tic-Tac-Toe were just the simple, fun things that belonged to only Edward and me.
The large statue of Jesus guarded over the city on his high perch, arms outstretched and welcoming. The hustle and bustle of the nighttime activities waged around us as we walked down the sidewalk. Alice had asked us to stop at one of her favorite stores to pick up something she'd ordered before we made that final dash to Isle Esme.
Off to my left, I saw the motorcycle rental place that we'd gone to on our honeymoon. It had been the first time I'd hunted something other than deer or moose. And it was also the first time Edward and I had realized that hunting carnivores created some sort of carnal reaction between us.
"Say my name again," he said against my skin. "It will be the only name you will remember when I'm through fucking you."
I'd come simply by his words. Then again, Dirty Edward had more power than he was willing to admit. It had started to rain that day, and Edward had taken me hard against a tree, his mouth at my ear spilling the most delicious and sensual words I'd ever heard.
"Shit, Bella," Edward hissed, and suddenly, I found myself in a dark alley, pressed against a brick wall. "You have to stop, baby," he growled low, but his face was sweet and begging.
"I'm sorry. I can't help it," I whispered, my hands slipping slowly up his chest. "So many memories...our honeymoon, trips back here..."
Warm, heated eyes gazed down at me as he nodded in agreement. "I know, but you're killing me," he breathed, leaning his entire body against me.
I could feel his want for me pressing into my stomach, and that shot my control right out of the water.
"Fuck," I gasped, pulling his head down to mine and kissing him with all that I had.
Squirming just the right way, I used the wall behind me to climb Edward's lean body, wrapping myself around him, and he made no move to stop me. In fact, he merely pressed harder against where I ached for him the most, which caused my eyes to roll back and my head to thump to the bricks behind me as his lips trailed fiery and hot down my jaw, across my throat, and up to my ear. Khaki rubbed against khaki, and one of Edward's large hands cupped my bottom while the other snaked up my shirt to palm my breast over my swimsuit top. But the constant roll of hips never stopped, even when Dirty Edward escaped out into the dark alley of Rio.
"Believe me, Isabella, if it's something you want, then I want it ten times more. Mmm, the heat, baby," he said, slowly removing his hand from my shirt and snaking it between us to tease the inner seam of my shorts. "Did just thinking about me fucking you against that tree get you this hot?"
"Yes," I hissed, grasping his face in my hands roughly. I kissed his lips, forcing his gaze to mine. "Edward..."
"Do you want to come? Right here? Now?" he asked, his voice deadly, dark, raspy. "'Cause, sweet girl, I'll do it. I'll help you," he vowed solemnly, his fingers splaying between my legs as he felt me throb for him. "But I swear with all that I fucking have that I will take care of what's mine when we have the chance. When we're finally all alone, then we'll make new memories that'll keep you wet and wanting me."
I wanted to sob with need because it had been so damn long since Edward had truly unleashed this side of him, and it was probably being in Rio and the memories that came with it that were pushing us. Peals of laughter echoed up the dark alleyway, and even though I knew we'd never be seen, suddenly, I didn't want this here. Well, I wanted it, but not enough to defile an already-disgusting alley.
Edward slowed down, reading everything I was thinking. His eyes lost that dark edge and warmed to a deep amber as he pulled his hand away from between my legs and placed it on my thigh. "I want you, too, my love. So badly that I'm aching, but..."
"Not here."
"No, not here. I'd really rather take my time with you," he said, and even though I whimpered at the mere thought, his promise was sweet and needy. "And I really want to have you all to myself," he sighed forlornly, his eyes wincing just a little when more voices and sounds burst up the alley.
It had been a long journey to get where we were right at that moment. Edward's mind had to have been weary of not only the members of the family we were traveling with, but with every human mind that we'd come across along the way. And he'd needed to listen, so my offer to shield him had been declined more often than not.
It had taken us almost two weeks to traverse the North Atlantic, the Caribbean, and finally, the South Atlantic, keeping close to places Caroline could hunt. It had been harsh weather, family arguments, a newborn's mood swings, and hard work. But there had been more fun times than bad. Carlisle, Edward, and Esme had told us endless funny stories about the family over the years, Archie had learned to relish new things instead of fearing them, and Caroline had started to accept her change, though she was still fairly on edge. Calm seas at night reflecting the stars above, stolen kisses in the sunshine against sparkling lips, Edward's soft guitar playing at night as if it were the only sound on Earth, and even the rare moment alone were all new memories that I'd cherish. I'd even grown closer to Carlisle and Esme, especially after I'd seen my mother. I could appreciate how much they loved and accepted not only me, but all of us after that.
Adventurous as the trip had been, I could find nothing to complain about because Edward had been there the whole way. We always tended to thrive just about anywhere, as long as we were together.
Edward grinned at that thought. "True, baby."
I sighed, glancing up the alleyway, but he hadn't put me down yet. Gazing back at his handsome face, I said, "Not here," because as much as I wanted him, needed him, felt starved for him, I could wait. "But give me a second..."
My Edward chuckled, setting me gently on my feet and dropping a heavy kiss to my forehead. "You're so beautiful, Bella. When you're that lost in memories, it's hard to deny you..."
Smiling, I nodded, trying to right my clothes, my hair, my achy feelings of need. I tried to remember where we were and why.
"Store, love. For Alice," Edward reminded gently, not judging one bit, though he was looking rather smug.
"Oh yeah..."
"Candles or some...madness," he sighed, rolling his eyes.
My eyes narrowed playfully as my skin finally stopped stinging from his touch. "You know, I think you secretly like shopping, but you won't admit it."
He snorted. "Uh, no. Not at all. Not even a little bit. The only thing I like is surprising you with things."
I giggled at his put-out face and linked our fingers together. "Okay, come on. The quicker we get this errand done for her, the quicker we're back on the boat, the quicker we're on the island."
He chuckled, kissing my temple, and whispered, "The quicker I can steal you away."
I sighed deeply and dramatically. "Can I hear an amen?" I sang.
Wrapping an arm around my shoulders, Edward guided me back onto the busy sidewalk, muttering a deep, rumbling, "Amen..."
The grin barely faded from my face, even when we walked into the shop that Alice had directed us to. The Brazilian clerk eye-fucked Edward shamelessly as he conversed with her in perfect Portuguese, which I understood most of now. She had dark hair and smoky eyes and was sorely disappointed with every smile, kiss, and touch I received. But I didn't care. She could look all she wanted. Though, she took her dear, sweet time gathering up Alice's order.
From the items she set out in front of us, I could see Alice had been busy while we'd been on the boat. It looked like she was redecorating one of the rooms on Isle Esme. I would've bet it was Archie and Caroline's room.
"More like...added a room, sweet girl," Edward told me, his brow furrowing as he tried to ignore the thoughts of the clerk. "They had the time once everyone else flew in."
"Oh, that's cool," I said with a grin, kissing his lips. If she's bothering you that much, I can say something...
"Don't you dare," he growled playfully. "I just want done and out."
Giggling, I kissed him again. "Fine, fine...then pay, baby."
Once his signature graced the sales receipt, we gathered up two boxes and a couple of bags. It looked like decorative items – candles, pictures, soft material that could've been curtains. But the thought of Alice brought on the need to see the rest of them. I wanted to know how the storing of our things had gone, the closing up of the Varner house, and how Kevin and Adrian did on the flight over, though by now, the two were doing really well around humans.
We meandered through the streets back toward the docks. We boarded quickly, hearing a scuffle down below deck. Slamming my shield around the entire boat, I watched as a struggling Caroline came to a standstill. She sagged in relief, gazing up at me with weary red eyes.
"Thanks," she murmured, glancing over to Carlisle and Archie, who had been holding her back. "Sorry..."
"Dock worker?" Edward asked gently. When she nodded, he smiled softly. "It's okay. That's why we're here. To work through this with you. Once we're on the island, you'll finally really be able to relax. Okay?"
"'Kay. Thanks, Edward...Bella," she sighed, nodding once again.
"Let's get out of here, yeah?" Carlisle asked with a gentle and encouraging pat to her shoulder. "I'm tired of looking at you people."
We all laughed, and Edward rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, Dad? At least you aren't hearing them. Mm'kay?" he growled, playfully shoving our father. "Like I need to know what color boxers you decide to wear every damn day."
Esme, Caroline, and I collapsed into hysterics, and Archie chuckled. Carlisle, however, darted after a laughing Edward up and out of the galley and onto the bow. I could hear their lighthearted laughter as they untied the lines, started the engine, and pulled up anchor.
The short trip from the mainland to the island never took long, especially if Edward was driving the boat, but I could see that this was a learned behavior, since Carlisle was skimming us across the waves with lightning-quick precision.
Isle Esme was aglow in the distance, and no matter how many times we'd visited, the same feelings always overtook me as we got closer. The memories of first seeing this place were almost crushing. I'd been excited to have Edward all to myself, nervous that we were finally married, but the most palpable emotions were peace and ease.
There was something about the island that just relaxed us all. We'd all mentioned it at one point or another. It was a self-contained oasis for us. We didn't need to leave if we didn't want to, though with this many of us, we'd have to at some point. It was large, covered in natural, thick jungles and small mountains, with its own small ecosystem. No humans approached unless needed or requested, so there was no possibility of ever being discovered. It was Treasure Island, Nim's Island, and Lord of the Flies, all adventure and beauty, but it was also The Blue Lagoon, a representation of love and sensual, warm breezes that caressed sparkling, heated skin, and secret hidden corners of perfection like Journey to the Center of the Earth. It had everything, including the ability to make time become insignificant.
Isle Esme was heaven – plain and simple. And no matter how many times we came, whether it was just Edward and me – and now with the entire family – or how many places we traveled, it would always be one of my most favorite places on Earth.
Warm, strong arms braced themselves on either side of me against the boat's railing as the island's dock drew closer, wrapping me in a cocoon of masculine muscle and the scent that overrode the smell of sea air. Edward dropped his chin down onto my shoulder, sighing in relief or contentment. I wasn't sure which. Probably both.
"We may be here awhile, love," Edward reminded me softly in my ear as he nuzzled my skin. I rolled my eyes, which made him chuckle. "I was just reminding you, dear," he said sarcastically, the laughter still rumbling against my back.
Giggling, I turned in his arms and pulled him to me by the loops on his jeans. His eyes were heat and carnal want swirling together, all stormy and electrified. There was a tension that was humming just beneath the surface of his skin as he gazed down, leaning into me. And the crackling current that surrounded us kicked up a little because in the distance – and too far for it to come near us, unfortunately – a storm raged. The scent of sand, salt water, and damp air reminded me of our first storm here.
"I love it here, Edward," I told him, kissing his chin. "There are no rules on this island."
He smiled crookedly and nodded, caressing my face with the backs of his fingers, his thumb dragging over my bottom lip. "True. If there were, I'm sure we broke them a long time ago."
"Hmm, indeed," I hummed against his lips. I glanced over my shoulder to see the family coming out to welcome us on the dock, but I turned back to my sweet husband. "Edward, I'm doing my best to not let memories bowl me over, but if you keep looking at me like that, touching me like this," I said with a chuckle as I felt him getting harder against my belly, "then all bets are off, handsome. I can't resist this face. Not here. Not with what we've shared here. That's asking too much."
Edward's face morphed from smug and sexy to pained and weary. "My mind needs a rest, Bella. I need just you – quiet and perfect and the balm to it all."
Smiling sadly, I nodded. "Okay, baby. Soon. And you can steal me away at the first opportunity," I soothed him, running my fingers through his windblown hair, as if I could calm the mind underneath it.
It was so very rare for him admit that, but I could see why that was true. It had been a rough six and a half months – almost seven. And it had all started in the Varner house. Archie's haunting mind, his horrid story, Edward's constant watching over us, and now Caroline. Through it all, Edward had been steadfast with his guarding over us, protecting us, nurturing us, even though a few times, he thought he was going crazy. My Edward needed a break. He didn't want to hear thoughts if he didn't have to, and here, he could get away with it. Here, Caroline was free to roam, Archie was beyond repaired from his time back in Maine, and here, everyone would be able to breathe a sigh of relief – if only temporarily.
Placing my hands on either side of his handsome, sweet face, I raised an eyebrow at him. "Promise me something."
He huffed a light laugh through his nose, the smile unable to be contained. "Anything, sweet girl. You know that."
"Mmhm, I do," I hummed, maintaining his gaze as I shielded my thoughts. "Promise me that if you need my shield, you'll ask. There's no danger here, we're always forewarned when humans dock, and everyone can help with Caroline. Promise me that if you need to get away from it, you'll say the word. You've done so much for all of us these last few months, baby. You deserve more than just...one night of silence."
The boat lurched a little when Carlisle edged it toward the dock, but I gripped Edward's face, squishing it until his lips were all pooched out.
"Promise me...before we get off this boat," I said with a laugh just because he rolled his eyes, and it only added to his silly face at the moment.
"Pwomish," he sputtered, which made me giggle.
"Good!" I beamed, kissed his puffed out lips, and let go of his face.
He paused for one small beat in time, his eyes dark but so, so warm, whispering, "Thank you, Bella." He dropped a reverent kiss to my forehead as I nodded slightly against his lips.
The reunion of our family was loud and happy. And pure chaos. Those of us coming off the boat were jerked in several different directions, hugged, kissed, and welcomed. It didn't feel like we'd had an emergency move; it simply felt like we were all on vacation together. Emmett and Kevin exchanged money, and I overheard them say that they'd bet whether Caroline would destroy the boat. Although with their conversation with Edward, I was pretty sure that wasn't the only bet, because Edward had murmured, "No, not yet. And don't bug him!"
Jasper fed off the happy feelings of being back together as a family, and he pushed it right back out in a circular fashion. Alice was a hyper, bouncing mess, and Rose was calm, looking relieved at the sight of us. In fact, she and Adrian wore the same expression as we hugged.
The house was just as beautiful as I remembered it – open, breezy, freeing – though Alice and Jasper were quite proud of the new addition.
Archie and Caroline's room was...different. Alice, using her gift of foresight, created an oasis for them. It was calm, open, soothing. At first glance, though, there was no bed like the rest of the bedrooms. There was a small sitting area, blowing gauzy curtains that framed open French doors, and a closet, along with a few small tables, some lamps, and a long dresser. However, the wall unit that took up one long wall was deceiving. It was a Murphy bed, I noted as Alice tugged it down to reveal fluffy bedding that covered a queen-sized bed.
"Not yet," she whispered with a wink before tucking it back up against the wall. "Soon, though."
Edward barked a laugh but shook his head and said nothing more as he passed us by in the hallway to drop our bags off in our room.
But I saw it for what it was: Alice's way of taking just a touch of the nerves away from Caroline and Archie. She'd taken away the in-your-face, blatant sexual tension that a bed could bring to a room to be occupied by creatures that didn't sleep. I kissed her spiky head and hugged her because I could see by the look on her face that she felt a little guilty about Caroline's car accident. She was doing this as a good deed.
Once everyone had been given a tour, the boat had been unloaded, and Caroline had been taken to stretch her legs and hunt, we all gathered in the living room. I fell down onto the sofa between Kevin and Rose, and Edward sat at my feet with his back against my legs. We quickly discussed how the packing of the Varner house had gone, which was fine. All of our main possessions were now in storage in Bangor, Maine. They'd stay there until we either returned to the States or decided where they needed to be shipped. Something about that made me sad, until I realized it was Edward's piano that I'd miss most.
Carlisle smiled at us all, and I noted that even though he looked windblown and ruffled, he seemed younger in his khaki shorts and navy blue polo shirt. However, he still held our respect, and we quieted, waiting for him to speak.
He shoved his hands into his front pockets, studying the floor. Edward relaxed infinitesimally, even more when my fingers raked slowly and softly through his hair as he leaned his head back into my lap.
"There is no time limit here," Carlisle started, giving the room a long gaze. "We can completely seal ourselves off from the human world here and just...exist. That being said, I'm not sure that's what everyone wants to do. This island is only so big." He grinned when we chuckled at him. He turned his attention to Caroline. "Caroline, I'd like to take this opportunity to let you know that this is the perfect place for you to learn, grow, settle into this life. As you get more in control, more in-tune with your body and your abilities, we'll start to expand past the shores, but for now, you can consider this island your open hunting grounds, your training facility, and your temporary home. We are all at your disposal should you need anything."
Caroline smiled softly as Emmett ruffled her hair. "Thanks, Carlisle."
He nodded in acknowledgment of her thanks, but his eyes fell onto his next subject. "Archie, I've never seen anyone in this life that has been through the things you have, and not only overcome them, but conquered them completely. I know that leaving Maine was an enormous step for you, and I know you're worried about what the future may bring, but please know that you're a member of this family as long as you wish to be, that we're here for you no matter what you choose to do."
Archie nodded nervously, and Caroline smiled at him, linking their fingers together.
Carlisle's warm gaze on them lingered for a moment, but his eyes swept over the room. "As for the rest of you," he said wryly, making Edward smirk, but his eyes stayed closed as my fingers never stopped playing with his hair. "If it's at all possible, try to keep your hunting to the mainland. We don't want to completely deplete what's here for Caroline. I know that we have some decisions to make, but there's no rush at the moment. Where we go, whether it's as a family or separate, is up to all of us."
Carlisle started to pace a little, his hands still in his pockets. "There are too many of us now, but I can't bring myself to part with my family, and I consider every last one of you mine," he said, and Edward's head shot up to stare at him. "What used to work won't cut it anymore. I know that. Usually, we'd start over somewhere that could accommodate the adopted children story, but..."
"We're bigger than the Brady Bunch," Emmett finished with a chuckle.
Carlisle grinned. "Exactly. Our natural defense will push humans away, but with this many, I'm not so sure that they'll accept the lies we blend together. If that's the case, then we have no alternative but to live separately." When protestations started to rumble around the room, he held up his hand. "Look, I'm open to suggestions from any of you at this point, so take your time, think about how this could work, and let me know. When the time is right, we'll all sit down as a family, lay out all those suggestions, and come up with a decision. But we must be in agreement." Carlisle's warm, honey eyes surveyed the room silently, only to fall to Edward's momentarily. With a deep sigh, he smiled sadly. "Until then, I'm happy we're all safe and back together. For those of you who are here for the first time, welcome, and please, make yourself at home."
He held his hand out, and Esme got up from her seat next to him and took it. They disappeared out the back door without looking back.
"The thought of separating is killing him," Kevin noted in a soft tone, his eyes sad.
"Yes," Edward agreed with a nod, standing up and offering me his hand. "All he wanted from his human life was a big family. He's now got it, and he's afraid to lose it. New or old members, he merely wants to live quietly and in peace with us."
"But the call to do what he does, to be a doctor," Adrian started, frowning a little. "He can't stop that. It's a part of who he is. It's what makes him...well, Carlisle."
Edward smiled. "Yes, there's that, too."
"Marcus is worried," Alice stated softly. "We'll be a spectacle with so many. And no, school won't work. Well, it won't work the old way, anyway."
"We'll come up with something," Jasper vowed, but I could see that he was already running several options through his mind because his eyes were glazed over and locked onto nothing in particular across the room.
However, the squeeze of Edward's hand and his brief wince that only I would notice made me say, "Of course we will, but until then, I want to see this island again. Come, Edward."
My command made Edward chuckle, along with a few others, but he simply said, "Yes, ma'am."
Jasper started to protest, but Alice simply put a hand on his forearm and shook her head. I knew we'd just gotten here, and I knew that our siblings had missed us, but I wanted to give Edward the silence he wanted, the mental space he deserved, starting immediately. And it seemed Alice saw that as she shot a wink my way.
"Hey, Ed!" Jasper called, and we turned to watch him run across to a door. "Before you go, come look."
Emmett and Kevin jumped up, both wearing smiles, but Edward looked confused.
"Why are you all singing that same damn song?" he asked them with a laugh.
"Shut up, bro, and come here," Emmett chortled and waved him over. "You, too, Bells."
They pushed open the door to the second sitting room, and a smile curled my lips. Glancing up at Edward, I could tell he didn't know what to say.
"It's not the baby grand, but we knew you'd go crazy without music, so..." Kevin gushed, patting Edward's shoulder.
The boys had set up a small music area in the room with the most windows. Edward's big beautiful piano was missing, of course, but in its place were his keyboards. Next to them was the the bare minimum of Emmett's drums, and mounted on stands were a handful of the most used guitars, aside from Edward's personal favorite and oldest, which was currently in our bedroom in its case. But the one I'd bought him, the blue one from New York, and a few others were waiting patiently for the boys to pick them up and play with them, not to mention two of the smaller amps that they'd need.
A little giggle escaped me at the faces of Kevin, Jasper, and Emmett. They were so proud of what they'd done. But I knew for a fact that they loved playing with Edward. They'd done this for themselves just as much as they'd given their brother a gift.
Edward's head shook one time, back and forth, but his smile was filled with warmth as he took in the room. "That's..." He huffed a laugh. "Perfect," he finished with a single nod. "Thank you."
"Hells, yeah!" Emmett gushed. "And when you get back, we'll work on that blues song we started."
"Definitely," Edward vowed with a grin, but his hand slipped back into mine, bringing it up to his lips to kiss the back of it. "Come, love. Walk with me."
I mouthed a thank you to Jasper, who shot me a wink. But as soon as a wee morning breeze caressed our skin, I looked up at Edward. "Ready?" I asked him.
He nodded, smiling down at me.
"Good," I growled, pushing off him. "Race you there!"
His chuckle faded for a second but then slowly caught up to me. "You shouldn't have done that, Bella..."
I ran up the beach, suddenly darting to my left into the jungle. Long gone were any scents from the last time we'd taken this path, but I knew the way perfectly. Morning was dawning slowly, not that I needed the light, but it did add to the colors of the opening of the cave. Stopping at the mouth, I gazed up at the sparkle, the sharp points of the giant geode. It was black rock embedded with the deepest of purple crystals.
My fingers skimmed lightly over the keen tips of the crystals sticking out of the wall. The whole entryway looked like an enormous jewel – something old-fashioned and almost gaudy. But at the same time, it was beautiful in its intricacy. Edward appeared behind me, his hand joining mine, skimming over crystals.
"Why didn't we come out here the last time we were on the island?" I asked, though I didn't really expect an answer.
Edward chuckled deeply. "Because we barely left our room, love."
I grinned, turning to kiss his cheek. "Yeah...that was good stuff!"
His face took on a smug expression, but his brow furrowed for a moment as he concentrated on the wall in front of him. With a swift jerk, he pulled a large crystal from the wall about the size of a plastic cigarette lighter.
"Here, sweet girl. Hold onto that," he told me, and I took it from him, holding it up to the barely-there sunrise. "Cut just right, it could be set in something. I mean, it's quartz, not worth much, but you could take a piece of this place with you."
My eyebrows shot up. Normally, the only jewelry I wore on a continuous basis was my wedding ring, but that sounded pretty...and so very sweet and sentimental, just like my Edward. I just couldn't fathom what type of jewelry, though.
"Anything you want," he vowed, wearing a small smile. "We'll take it with us onto the mainland. Make it into anything...your choice."
Grinning, I bit my bottom lip. "And what if I like it just the way it is?"
Smiling, he kissed my temple. "Then keep it as-is, Bella. It's up to you."
I tucked the stone into the side pocket of my shorts, and Edward guided me inside the cave. The splash of falling water made me smile, but the glow from the pool beneath it was bluish-green and beautiful. We left our outer clothes against the wall of the cave, diving into the water at the same time. We raced, wrestled, and tickled our way through the narrow passage that led us through the thick stone and up into the other side of the pool.
Absolutely nothing had changed in that strange little untouched bubble of nature. It was mossy, green, and just barely lit by the rising sun. Edward gripped my waist and hoisted me up onto the side, but my gaze lingered on everything as I climbed out of the water adjusting my swimsuit. The wall with the drawings was still there, if not covered in more vines and flowers. The hole in the rocks above was just as high, allowing enough light in to illuminate everything in a soft, warm glow. Finally, my eyes fell to the moss covered boulders off to the side, and memories flooded me unexpectedly.
Not even the air around us had come between our bodies the last time we were in that cave. I remembered the dry sob that had escaped me, proclaiming that I never knew I could love someone so much. Edward's only answer had been that I was simply his everything.
"That's still true..." he said softly behind me, pulling be back to his chest.
"I'm sorry. I promised you mental silence, didn't I?" I said with a chuckle.
His grin was sweet when he turned me to face him. "Not from yours. Never, ever from yours."
"Come here," I said, tugging him by the hand. I sat down against the rock, patting the space between my legs. "Sit, Edward. I'll give you just my mind, if that's the way you feel."
Edward lounged back against me, our still wet skin slipping together, but his head rested back against my shoulder. Wrapping my arms around him and my shield around the both of us, I smiled against his wet hair when a pure, relieved sigh escaped him. His whole body physically shuddered against mine. I kissed his jaw that flexed once under my lips, and he picked up my hand to turn my ring.
Kissing the tip of each finger, he said, "Before you, sweet girl, I'd have to run to the most remote places to find this kind of silence."
I smiled at the amusement in his tone. "Yeah? Polar bears don't think?"
He chuckled. "No, not really. Neither do penguins. Monkeys, on the other hand..."
Giggling, I hugged him closer. "Well, they are the most human-like. That would make sense."
"Yeah, I've never hunted them. It's a little disturbing that I get flashes of thought from them," he admitted with a shrug of one strong shoulder. "They scare Emmett."
"The faces?"
"Yeah," he guffawed, shaking his head.
"Where would you go?" I asked him softly.
Edward was quiet for a moment. "Alaska worked. At least for an hour or two. Tanya never could leave me alone for too long."
He rubbed my hand, but I said nothing. Tanya, as much as I'd hated her back when I'd first met her, was a long, sad story of loneliness and mental instability.
"The Alps were nice," he went on, ignoring my mental musings. "The Sahara wasn't. It was empty, yes, but it was rather frightening to be that alone." He sighed, leaning into my kisses to his cheek. "Swimming worked no matter where we were. I would swim as far out as I could, and there would be...nothing. I just wanted to shut them all out, if only for a moment," he murmured.
He kissed my wedding ring at the same time my other hand trailed over the slight dusting of his chest hair.
"Then you came along, and even as a human, you had a tendency to make me forget everything else," he said with a snicker.
"See? I'm the arctic, the desert, and the ocean...all right here," I teased him. "If you'd let me block myself, you'd have complete and total freedom."
"No." He shook his head. "This is better. I don't want...freedom, Bella. Those places worked briefly, but they only proved to remind me that it was just...me."
My brow furrowed at the sound of his gratefulness, his utter hatred of being alone. "Not anymore," I vowed against his damp hair as I wrapped not only my arms around him, but my legs, too.
We were quiet, fingertips skimming over skin. Only the sound of our breathing echoed in the cave. The sun rose just a touch higher before Edward spoke again.
"Beautiful girl, I need to see your face," he stated, though it sounded like pleading.
With quick, graceful shifting, I extricated myself from behind him, and then he slid back and opened his arms to me. Straddling his thighs, I smiled at how the simple few moments without everyone's mind bearing down on him had changed his facial expression. Gone was the slight pinch at the corners of his eyes. The tension in his sharp jaw was no longer there. And I kissed where the slight dip in his brow had been before we'd left the house.
"Much better," he sighed, and whether he was answering my observations or whether he was just happy to see my face, I didn't know. He grinned. "Both."
I couldn't help but reach out and touch. His hair was slightly drier as I raked my fingers through it. Warm, darkening honey eyes stayed locked onto my face as I fussed over him.
"What?" I asked, giggling a little.
"I love you. And I've missed this," he whispered, his brow wrinkling a little. "Time with you. Just you."
Nodding, I understood. "You want to separate next time, don't you? From the family, I mean."
His head dropped back to the mossy rock behind him as he studied me from beneath his long, beautiful eyelashes. Fingertips glided down my spine, over my shoulders, up my thighs in a continuous circuit. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly as his eyes focused more on the little ties at the side of my swimsuit bottoms than anywhere else.
"I don't know," he stated, sounding honest, yet a little unnerved. "It's been a long few months, love. Caroline's newborn state is just as hard as when we discovered Archie. My first and most selfish thought is to say yes. I want what we had in London – our own place, our own bubble, our own refuge."
"But Carlisle..."
"Needs me...and you. It's a parental thing at this point for him."
"And Esme?"
He huffed a humorless laugh. "She'd be...so sad." He locked gazes with me. "I don't have an answer. Not right now."
I leaned closer to him, pressing my lips to his. "Maybe he knows that," I whispered against his mouth. "Maybe he knows we need time to...I don't know...decompress. And that's why he said for all of us to take our time."
Edward nodded, neither confirming, nor denying my theory. His eyes darkened as his fingers never stopped. He'd toy with the ties of my black swimsuit, follow their path around my ribs, up my chest, then switch to my bottoms, around my waist and across my hips. My body started to react all on its own, and my breathing deepened. I could feel him growing hard against his board shorts. It was when his touch skimmed around his immortal mark on me that I finally broke the silence around us.
"Edward..."
His eyes snapped to mine, and his cock twitched hard against me. "What does that feel like?" he asked, his voice a touch husky and deep. "This, baby..." Once more, his finger trailed around his bite mark over my still heart, and he tilted his head as he listened to my voice, my mind, my body.
I was damned certain I'd told him before, if he hadn't discovered my reactions all on his own, but he looked like he was playing just a bit stupid at the moment. On purpose.
The side of his mouth quirked up just a little at my thoughts, but he looked like the devil himself as he waited patiently, touched lightly, tilted his head the other way.
"Like cold fire," I told him through gritted teeth, glancing down to watch him do it again. The sensation zinged through me, stretching electric fingers across my chest, down into my stomach, and lower...much lower. "It feels...like an ache, but amazing. It's as close to feeling like the first time you really touched me..."
His eyes shot up to my face, and gone was the warm honey in his eyes. Black had overtaken every bit of color. He knew what I was talking about. It was the first night he'd come back to me that I'd stayed in the Cullen home. It was the first time he'd truly seen me bare for him and made me come with just his cool touch against my heated, human skin. As his finger circled around his bite again, I felt it between my legs just like I had then.
My hips rolled of their own accord, and my nipples peaked to aching points behind my swimsuit top – even the soft material was rubbing against them. But it wasn't enough. Nothing would be enough until he truly touched me.
"Edward, please..." I begged, shifting forward to satiate the throbbing between my legs. I grasped his face, kissing him with all I had.
His palm flattened over my scar, and I whimpered into his mouth as my hips ground down over him. Slipping his hand into my hair, he kissed me back. Hard. Sitting up, he gripped my hair harder, placing another hand in the middle of my back.
Breaking away from our kiss with a rumbling growl, his eyes locked with mine as he bent me back just a little, arching me back. "How about this?" he rasped, his eyes never leaving mine as his tongue flattened over his scar, his mark.
"Ungh!" I cried out, my fingers digging into his shoulder, hair, whatever I could grasp onto at the moment.
His finger was one thing, but his mouth was something completely different. It was if my skin remembered his tongue, his teeth, his venom. My breathing stopped altogether, as did my own sense of self-control.
"Hmm," he hummed against the top of my breast. "I wonder... Could you come for me like that, my gorgeous girl?" he asked, his voice silken and deadly. "I bet you can... I bet you'll come so hard. Just like you did the first time I touched you..."
As if my body had heard his command, I pressed down harder against his hard cock. I was seeking friction. I was swollen, leaking, and needy, and I throbbed hard against him. The ache was too much, and his mouth on my scar wasn't helping. He also was making no other move to touch me anywhere else.
Without even thinking, my own hand slipped beneath the edge of my swimsuit bottoms. The growling purr that Edward let loose vibrated around me, but his mouth descended over my scar, engulfing it in lips, tongue, and just a slight graze of teeth. The sound of just how wet I was surrounded us as I worked feverishly over my clit, my hand just barely brushing against his hard cock. I was so close already that just a few brushes across the most swollen and sensitive part of my body caused me to unravel right there in Edward's arms.
My fingers were still inside my bottoms, but I felt him grow harder and twitch one time against me, despite the two layers of damp fabric between us. I felt the tug on the ties of my top and felt myself being deposited onto my back into the soft, mossy floor of the cave, but it was Edward's sudden low growl that brought me back through the haze of my orgasm.
"Fuck, baby..." he groaned, tugging my bottoms down and off my legs. "You're so wet, I can taste it in the air..." His last statement came out mumbled, almost to himself as he braced over me. As if to torture me some more, his lips skimmed across my scar one more time, but he stopped. "Not torture, sweet girl... I just want to make sure your body knows to whom it belongs..."
I couldn't answer him, because his possessive remark was just one more thing to make the need kick up a notch. Besides, it wasn't exactly a secret that he owned me. Edward could make my body sing – better than any instrument.
Again, his mouth quirked up into a wicked, carnal half-smile. "Let's test that theory, shall we, love?" he asked smoothly, reaching down to pick up my leg. "'Cause I fucking love to hear you sing for me..."
I wanted to laugh that he was using my thoughts against me, but I couldn't. His teasing started anew, only this time, he was giving my ankles, knees, and inner thighs every bit of his attention. It seemed all my Edwards had come out to play – or maybe they'd been hiding in this secret cave. I wasn't quite sure, and I was in no state to think about it. But the firm grip of his hand was Possessive Edward, the tease of his tongue just outside my lower lips was Dirty Edward, and the gentle, yet forceful way he was holding me down was all Dominate Edward. But it was the dark-eyed, ever-watchful gaze traveling all over me, assessing me that let me know that Sweet Edward was always, always right there.
I felt his smile against my hip bone, but he merely dragged his tongue over my navel, his nose over my mound, and grazed his lips long the crease of my thigh.
"You know, my love..." he started, but then paused long enough to open my legs wider and lick me from one end to the other, making sure to swirl the tip of his tongue around my clit once, twice, three times. "Did you know that even when you come with your own hand...those orgasms are mine? All of them. They belong to me."
Flowers and moss disintegrated under my gripping hands as he licked again, not bothering to wait for my answer. Not that I could say much more than a nonsensical grunt. A green, earthy scent met my nose as I gripped again, only to give up, shake away my fistfuls of ground cover, and make my purchase in his hair.
Edward was moving too slow, his tongue languid and wet against my center. Gripping him harder, I wanted to grind against him as I chased my next orgasm.
Again, I felt another smile against me, and warm breath from his mouth gushed across my heated core. "Then open wider for me, Bella, and do it... Fuck my face..."
I didn't have to be told twice. My hips rolled hard against his mouth as he licked, sucked, nipped, causing a growl of satisfaction to erupt out of me at finally getting the friction, the feel that I needed. His hands gave up holding me down, slipping under my legs and up to my breasts, palming, squeezing, pinching.
Not able to articulate what I needed, or even if I knew what I needed, only his name came from my mouth. My head fell back, and I continued to grip his hair while my other hand sought out something else. A large, warm, gentle hand engulfed mine, linking our fingers together. The contradiction that was my Edward growled low and feral against my core, but his thumb made soothing circles on the skin of my hand, and I shattered into a million pieces.
Edward gave my clit one more kiss before looming up over me. His long fingers swiped at his mouth in the most un-Edward like gesture I'd ever seen, slinging the moisture away before his mouth descended upon mine. Something about that drove me absolutely wild, and I accepted his kisses hungrily. It was masculine, yet crass, the latter of which my Edward never was. But it also meant that my arousal covered him. I could smell it on his skin, taste it on his tongue.
My hands flew to his shorts, tugging open the button and fly. He'd never changed out of the khaki cargos that he'd worn in Rio, so they slipped easily down his legs, and he kicked out of them, only to settle back down between my legs.
"That's two, Bella," he pointed out, his forehead dropping down to mine as he braced over me.
He was strength and possession, predator and protector, love and want all rolled into one beautiful, angelic creature. My hands had to touch him, slip up his chest, over his shoulder, and around to the back of his neck to pull and tug him closer.
"I want another from you," he stated, almost sounding harsh, but he softened it all with a sweet sweep of his lips across my own. "I can't... I'm... Not gentle, baby," he stammered, begging me with his eyes to understand when he suddenly sheathed himself fully inside of me.
"Oh fuck... Yes!" I hissed, my head pressing back into the moss beneath me.
"Sweet Jesus," he groaned, his eyes squeezing shut as he drove into me.
Every sensation that my mind registered, he countered it again and again. He buried his face into my neck, whispering about how good I felt, how tight I was, and how nothing was as good as this. My shield wavered around us, but I couldn't help but grip him with it and my hands, which caused the most delicious string of curses to push out into my ear.
"So good, so good, fuck..." he panted, growling low when my hands gripped his ass, but my shield pressed down on his back. "Goddamn...that feels like... Shit, baby..."
Had I been more coherent, I would've known what he was trying to say, and I might've laughed. But any humor I might've found evaporated with the next swiveling thrusts he gave me. I knew it felt like more than just one pair of hands on him, but as it was, I needed to see this unhinged Edward come. Soon. And hard.
All that I had raked down his strong, flexing, sloped back, my legs wrapped around his hips, and my voice urged him to come, because there was no way in hell I was able to hold my shield around us much longer.
"Edward...baby, I can't..." I sobbed, gazing up at him. "Please... You have to come..."
"Okay, okay...it's okay," he chanted in a whisper against my lips, but his teeth dragged across my bottom lip. "Let it all go. But I need one more from you." As he said that, his hand slipped beneath my ass, lifting me up just enough so that he hit me just right.
There was no holding back. Everything inside of me let go, my shield included. All I could hope for was that we were far enough away from everyone that it wasn't such a shock to his mind.
"That's my girl," he crooned, but his rhythm faltered, his breathing stopped, and with a few more thrusts, he came hard. His braced stance over me failed him, and he fell to his elbows instead. "Shh, love," he whispered breathlessly against my lips as my whole body was wracked with an earth-shattering shiver.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," I chanted, feeling his smile as he brushed my hair from my face. "I couldn't hold it... Hell, I don't think I can get it back."
He snickered softly. "Shush, sweet girl. It's all right."
It was then that I chanced a look at his face. The dark mask of need was gone, and in its place was smug but very happy and sated.
I groaned. "You wanted to fuck the shield out of me, Edward?"
He cracked up, burying it into my neck as he rolled us to our sides. "No, not specifically," he said slowly. "But I so love when you lose control, baby. It's been too long since we could..."
Smiling, I cupped his face. "True. This...right here. This is my new favorite place."
"Mine, too." He nodded, kissing me sweetly. "You're right, love."
"Mm," I hummed against his chin as I pushed him onto his back and crawled on top of him. "About what?"
His brow furrowed a little, but he hugged me close. "You are my arctic, my desert, and my ocean...all in one very beautiful, very sweet package."
I smiled down at him, tracing his handsome features – heavy brows, strong nose, soft lips. "Good. Then, as those things, I get to keep you right here for a bit, yeah?"
He grinned, all sweet and sated. "Oh, yes, ma'am. I can't imagine where else we need to be, Bella."

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