Thursday, July 17, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 33 & Pics

Chapter 33
September 2002
“Happy birthday, Bella.”
I could barely see her through my tears, but I could feel her arms around me. She felt different. She felt…like Edward. For a brief second or two, I was jealous, but I let it go. After hearing all about Alice’s struggles, I knew I wasn’t ready for that, but still… She could be with her mate without worries, she was indestructible, and she was…squeezing too hard.
“Alice,” I wheezed.
“Oh, fuck,” she hissed, letting me go almost too quickly, and I stumbled back, only to be caught in my favorite set of arms.
“You okay?” Edward asked, worry lacing his velvet voice.
“No, no…I’m okay,” I told him, turning back to Alice, who looked heartbroken. “Alice, really, I’m fine.”

It was then that I realized there were more people watching us than I was expecting. Carlisle and Esme were standing by Leah and Jacob. Jasper was holding Alice, whispering in her ear. I recognized Carmen and Eleazar, whom I’d met back at the New Year’s Eve party Edward had taken me to in Boston last year. There was a tall man with his arms around a beautiful woman, but there were also two other very pretty women standing side by side. One was blonde, and the other was strawberry blonde. The latter looked like she was about to bounce out of her own skin. But every last one of them – aside from Leah and Jacob – had bright golden eyes.
Ignoring all of them for the moment, I looked back to Alice and smiled. “Again…but not so hard.”
Alice squeaked, moving quickly and causing chuckles around us, and hugged me again. Her voice was soft, right at my ear as she whispered that she’d missed me, that she was sorry it took so long, and that she had a birthday present for me.
“Damn, Alice…” Jasper snorted. “Bella can barely keep up with all of that. Hell, I can barely keep up with that…”
Laughing, I pulled back to look at her. “He’s kinda screwed, then. You’ve always talked like that.”
Alice beamed, but nodded, glancing behind me. “I’m fine. I’m not breathing too much, Edward.”
I turned to face him, afraid he’d end this too soon, but I smiled at the sweet worry that furrowed his brows. “Thank you…”
He smiled, shaking his head. “Don’t thank me. It was Alice’s idea…and hard work that got her here.” He turned me to face the group of people I didn’t know. “And it was these people who brought her. These are our cousins from Alaska. Bella, I’d like you to meet Kate and Garrett,” he introduced, pointing to the couple off to the side, and I waved. “You know Carmen and Eleazar. And those two are Irina and Tanya.”
Kate and Garrett waved, but Carmen stepped forward to hug me. “It’s good to see you again, Bella. Happy birthday.”
“Thank you,” I said softly, and I realized that I hadn’t really spoken to her back at New Year’s, and her face lit up when I did this time.
Irina smiled softly, shaking my hand. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Bella. We’ve heard so much about you from everyone.”
My cheeks heated as I glanced around at Edward and then his family.
“Oh, no…no, no, no… It was all Edward. He doesn’t shut up about you,” Tanya snarked, shooting him a wink when he growled low, but she pulled me to her. “Bella this, and Bella that,” she sang, grinning when everyone chuckled, including me. “It’s an honor to meet you,” she finally said with sincerity. “I’ve wanted to see Edward’s beautiful swan for the longest time. You make sure he behaves. If he doesn’t, then you call me.”
Grinning, I nodded. I liked her – something I hadn’t expected. She was stunning, though they all were, but she was fun and sarcastic…and very real. I could very well imagine that she was flirty and sexy when she wanted to be, which would have been easily heaped onto Edward, who was sweet and kind and handsome. I could also imagine that men didn’t tell her no very often, but that Edward did. Repeatedly. Their biting comments to each other were just how they were.
Looking her in the eye, I said, “I don’t think I’ll need to, but thank you.”
Edward’s chuckle was deep and filled with pride, and he dropped a heavy kiss to the back of my head. “Birthday time, sweet girl.”
Glancing up at him, I smiled, though my brow furrowed at the expression on his face. It was dark, but loving and sweet. His eyes were warm melted honey, and he pressed a kiss to my forehead when I nodded.
“How long can you stay?” I asked, facing Alice again, but it was Leah’s voice that rang out.
“Long enough to celebrate. Now…let me see my girl,” she crooned, opening her arms for me.
I walked into the old woman’s arms, inhaling the spicy, sweet scent that clung to her clothes. She’d been cooking and probably baking, because there was a sugary/vanilla smell to her. She pulled back and cupped my face.
“I made all your favorites. And instead of a birthday cake, I made you that peach cobbler you like so much. Just make sure you get a chance to blow out the candle before the bottomless pit gets his paws on it,” she told me, smacking at Jacob’s shoulder.
Paws…real funny, Ma,” he snorted, but ruffled my hair. “C’mon, Bella. We set up everything in the backyard.”
Edward laced our fingers together and guided me toward the back of the house. My mouth fell open when I saw it. Strung overhead were white lights, crisscrossing from one tree to another and from the back of Leah’s cottage to the brick wall of Masen’s grounds. In the center of several chairs and a few tables was a fire pit already crackling and warm. Lastly, several lanterns were lit, casting a yellow-orange glow on everything. And the sun hadn’t even set yet.
“It’s…” I gazed up at Edward, who was waiting patiently for me to find the words. “The lights…they’re like New Year’s…”
He smiled, cupping my face in order to brush a kiss across my lips. “Yes, ma’am. I’m glad you like it.”
“It’s beautiful,” I whispered, gazing at everything.
“I’m pretty sure the boys just about broke their necks trying to get this all set up,” Esme said from behind me. When I faced her, she smiled. “Happy birthday, sweetheart. Come…presents. Your mother’s arrived this morning.”
My eyebrows shot up at that, but I didn’t say anything. My birthday the previous year was a touchy subject, but it had been Phil who had been responsible for mailing my gift. My mother had apologized profusely when the subject came up over the summer. Her anger at him had bloomed again, new and ugly, but Chelsea had changed the subject quickly.
Alice pulled me away from both Edward and Esme with a giggle. “One of mine is not for now, but this one is,” she whispered, not like everyone couldn’t hear her anyway. “So open it first.”
I did as she asked, laughing when it was a framed picture of the two of us laughing in the library last year. I remembered Rosalie taking it, but I’d forgotten all about it. My mother’s gift was two tickets to the symphony in New York, which I couldn’t wait to see with Edward. Chelsea had sent a ton of necessities: a new backpack for school, more blank sheet music with my name on the header, and a couple of new pairs of my favorite jeans. There were spa treatments from Irina and Tanya, both of whom stated that they missed getting pampered, so I had to go for them. Carmen and Kate had gotten me a voucher for plane tickets to Alaska – for whenever I decided to use them. Jacob had made me a carved wooden wolf for my charm bracelet, which I put on next to Leah’s sun charm – the one that had saved my life. The last one was another gift from Edward.
“You already gave me something.” I pouted at him, which only made him grin.
“Well, I’m giving you more. You might as well get used to it, Bella…”
Giggling, I nodded, waving him away. “Right, right…suck it up. Got it.”
“Damn straight,” he huffed, shooting a wink my way, but he glanced over at Jasper momentarily, shaking his head.
The box was flat, but inside was neatly wrapped up in tissue paper. When I peeled it back, I gasped, shaking my head. He’d taken my song – the one I’d started for my dad so long ago – and he’d not only had it copyrighted and professionally printed, but he’d named it, as well.
Swan’s Song.
Tears welled up at the sight of it because I knew he hadn’t named it after me, but rather, my dad. It was Charlie’s song…complete and whole and finished.
“Oh, hell,” Edward stated, walking to me. “Love, I didn’t mean to upset you…”
I shook my head fervently. “No, it’s…perfect.” I couldn’t look up at him just yet, and with a shaky hand, I reached for the last thing in there: a CD case.
Edward’s long fingers wrapped around my own, but his voice was soft in my ear. “Sweet girl, I did this to help with applications to college this coming year, not to hurt you.” He held our hands up together with the CD case. “This… This is you playing it, so you’ll have several samples of your talent and hard work.”
I melted into him, sniffling a little into his chest. “Thank you.”
Cool lips pressed to my forehead and then my cheek, but his voice was soft, reverent in my ear. “I just put it together, love. That’s all your doing, Bella. If Charlie could see you, he’d be one proud father…even though he would’ve lost the bet with you.”
Sniffling and laughing at the same time, I nodded, hugging Edward closer.
“What was the bet?” I heard Alice ask with a giggle.
Pulling back, I swiped at my face, but Edward reached up and did a gentler, better job. “Um, my dad said if I wrote my own song, he’d buy my first car for me.”
Edward laughed, kissing my lips. “You were twelve! And I’d have been willing to bet he’d have bought one anyway.”
Grinning, I nodded. “True, but…it was a big deal when he said it.”
“Edward, she won’t let you,” Alice warned with a laugh.
Narrowing my eyes on her and then him, I shook my head. “Edward Cullen, don’t you dare! I can buy my own car. I’ve just never needed one.”
He smirked, raising a deadly sexy eyebrow up at me. “Suck it up, buttercup,” he mouthed to me, backing away slowly, which made me laugh. He then pointed a finger at me. “One day, you will need one…”
“Mmhm,” I hummed, rolling my eyes, “but not right now.”
Leah’s appearance with a dish caught all of our attention. Jacob followed behind her with more dishes. I smirked at the candles in the shape of a one and eight in the middle of the peach cobbler that smelled so good. Jacob lit them, and everyone teased about making wishes and blowing them out.
I blew hard, smiling when they went out, but laughed when Jacob snatched up a spoon. Music played softly as Leah ate with Jacob and me. The rest chatted softly around us, but Edward stayed close to me. His fingers teased my hair, the skin at the back of my neck, but he carried on with conversations around us.
Alice and I chattered to each other almost nonstop. She told me what Alaska was like and some predictions she’d seen coming up, but only one made me cringe.
“You’re gonna end up valedictorian, this year, Bella,” she stated, wrinkling her nose at me. “I wasn’t sure whether you’d want to know, but…” She narrowed her eyes on Edward, but then back to me. “I thought you’d need to know, especially since it involves a speech.”
My heart pounded, and my mouth fell open. “No, no…” I looked to Esme and then to Edward, but Alice grabbed my hand, smiling sweetly.
“Bella, calm down. Just so you know…you make the speech.”
“I don’t see how,” I murmured to myself, but turned to Esme. “Do I have to?”
“Never!” she said with a sweet grin. “If she’s right, the choice will be up to you.”
As the sun set, Garret, Kate, Carmen, and Eleazar left us, stating that they were heading back to Alaska, which made my brow wrinkle at Alice.
However, Carlisle stood up once they’d left, wearing a small smile. “Which brings us around to your birthday present from Esme and myself,” he said, sounding somewhat too formal, but he and Edward both had a tendency to do that. “Alice won’t be going back to Alaska, Bella. Now…she can’t stay here, for obvious reasons, but since she’s done so well with being here tonight, I think it’s time to move her closer.”
“Stop it!” I squealed. “Really? Where? How close?” I asked her, but she was just as shocked as I was.
“Canada. There’s a cabin far enough away from humans, yet close enough that you two can see each other. Jasper could even come back to work if he so chooses,” Carlisle replied with a gesture to the quietest person at my party.
Jasper smiled crookedly, nodding once, but I could tell he was trying to keep us all on some sort of even emotion.
Alice and I were up and out of ours chairs in a heartbeat. She beat me to Carlisle, practically knocking him over.
“Alice, don’t break him!” I laughed, tugging on her shirt so that I could hug him, too. “Thank you,” I whispered, looking up when he cupped my face.
“You’re most welcome. Both of you,” he sighed, the smile falling from his face. “I hated to separate you, so this is our way of making it up to you. The cabin is a gift from us to Jasper and Alice, but the proximity is for all of you.”
Alice rushed to Jasper, and they lost themselves in a conversation that looked very intimate, very sweet. When I glanced up at Carlisle, he looked nervous.
“Bella, could we speak…inside? Privately?” When I nodded, he led me inside, pulling out a chair at Leah’s table. He took the seat across from me and folded his hands together on the tabletop, his eyes focused on them for a second before looking to me. “I…I don’t want to upset you, and you’ve come so far… But this topic is sensitive, and I’d rather have it just the two of us.”
Frowning, I looked at him curiously. “Did I…”
“No, you’ve done nothing wrong, Bella. Quite the opposite, actually. You’ve… You’re the shining light in my son’s life. You’ve given him…everything by just breathing, Bella. You’ve given Jasper his mate. You and Alice are the most welcomed new members of my family. And I…I wanted to thank you.”
I wasn’t sure what to say, and I could hear Edward’s voice outside, but it sounded happy and growly and sexy all at the same time while he argued with Jasper and Jacob and a third who sounded like Tanya, though I couldn’t hear what it was about.
“Bella, as your doctor and as your friend, I want to offer one more gift, but…I don’t want you to take offense.” He smiled when I tilted my head. Finally, he took a deep breath and let it out. “Edward tells me that you two are…eventually going to…change you.”
“Eventually,” I reiterated. “I’m not—”
“No, no, no…that’s okay. You have time, and you most certainly should think it over before you make that decision. However, he told me you asked about your change…and your scar.”
“Oh,” I whispered, my fingers immediately reaching up to touch the raised skin along my neck. “It was more curiosity than anything.”
“I understand. And I hope you know that you can come to us with any future curiosities,” he said with a grin when I smiled and nodded. “That being said, I think Edward told you he wasn’t sure if the change would take that away.”
“Well, he said that some flaws didn’t go away…”
Carlisle snorted, rolling his eyes. “His nose, right?”
“Hey, it’s not funny!” I heard from outside, which made me giggle, but I nodded.
“I can’t promise that some things will be erased by our venom, Bella. I can, however, offer you a chance to see one of the top plastic surgeons in New York. He’s a colleague of mine, and…”
Smiling, I reached across and covered his nervous hands. “Thank you, but… I don’t know. It’s um…such a part of me that I honestly never give it much thought. I know it shocks people, but not the ones who count,” I told him, shrugging a shoulder. “If anyone should be disgusted with it, it would be Edward, but he’s told me a million times that it’s just a sign of how strong I was…or am – something I’m trying to come to terms with, really. So…”
“Not right now,” Carlisle finished for me, patting my hand.
“No, not right now. I appreciate the offer, but…”
Carlisle stood up, but bent down to kiss my cheek. “If you change your mind, the offer still stands, Bella. Okay?”
When we stepped back out into the backyard, my eyes took in the amused faces of everyone but my Edward, who looked to be rather grumpy at the moment, and he shot them all glares before his face melted into the sweet expression that I’d learned was just for me: warm eyes, a sexy crooked smile, and a slight tilt of his head.
He pulled me between his legs as he sat in one of Leah’s loungers. “Bella, you sure?”
I smiled and nodded. “For now. I just…” I shrugged a shoulder. “I’m used to it. I honestly forget it’s there.”
Edward smiled, but his head turned to Tanya, who smiled my way.
“Not everyone is as comfortable with their flaws as you are, Bella, and that’s saying something, considering what you’ve been through.” She studied my scar for a moment, but then met my eyes. “I could understand how it would weed out the people who don’t matter.”
“Mmhm.” I nodded, but said nothing more.
It was amazing what a little twisted, discolored skin could do. My mother had friends who wrinkled their noses at it, offered their own plastic surgeons to correct it. People called it ugly and scary, but those who truly understood never gave it a second thought. A part of me knew I hid behind it, used it as an excuse not to speak. The other part of me knew it was a physical manifestation of my survival, something that proved I’d come through hell. And then there was the one person who was pressing his lips to it.
Smiling at Edward, I pushed his hair from his forehead. “Maybe I should get rid of it. I’ll think about it, okay?”
“Not for me, you won’t,” he stated firmly, shaking his head. “Scar or no scar, it doesn’t matter to me. You make that decision for yourself, my sweet girl.”
I nodded at the same time that Alice laughed loudly from behind me. Leah was wearing an amused grin as she slapped down tarot cards one right after the other.
“Oh, hell yes… I need to see this,” Tanya chortled, and she sat down at the table.
Edward chuckled, shaking his head, but I pulled his hand to drag him over there.
“Excellent,” Alice said, wrapping her arms around me from behind when I sat down. “We’ll use Bella. Ready, set…go!”
“Use Bella for what?” I asked with a snort.
“You’ll see, sweet one,” Leah soothed, giving Alice a sharp glance. “Alice says she can ‘see’ which cards I’ll put down.” She held up the deck, only to shuffle them as she usually did.
Before she set them down, Alice blurted out, “Love, Star, World, Death.”
Leah slapped down the four cards, grinning. “You know, Edward here said that getting us in the same room would be interesting.” We all chuckled with her, but she added, “Okay…oh great seer, what are they?”
Alice smirked, but Edward shifted a little next to me. “Death is her change…that’s obvious, ’cause I’ve already seen it. Love is…well, duh! And the Star card means hope and inspiration, which I’m seeing means Bella finishes her new song. The World card means…”
Her voice trailed off, but she shot a look to Edward, whose hands were gripping his hair.
Jasper snorted, glancing first to me and then to Edward, but then back to me. “This…” He pointed between his mate and mine. “This is new and really fucking annoying. They barely have to speak to communicate. Edward makes decisions and then reads the outcome through Alice’s mind. We’re all fucking lost.”
Giggling, I nudged Alice. “Cut it out, or share with the rest of us.”
I eyed the World card, only to look to Edward, who was dark-eyed and fidgety. The card meant completion/accomplishment. Leah had assumed it was our mating.
“You know what? I don’t wanna know,” I sighed, shaking my head, because something about that seemed wrong to blurt out in front of everyone. Instead, I looked to Leah. “I see the strength and justice cards are gone.”
She smirked. “Things shift and change all the time with the future. Though, your justice is in the past. Your strength is always with you.”
“But those two bastard brothers are still alive,” Tanya added, frowning down at the cards Leah was pulling back into a pile.
“That won’t always be the case,” Edward stated darkly, standing up from the table as he shot Alice a sharp gaze.
She smiled evilly. “Their future is…muddled. Decisions surrounding them change daily while they’re in prison.”
“Well, we can always hope one or the both of them get shanked over a bologna sandwich one day,” Tanya sang cheerfully, which made me laugh because her face took on a falsely wistful expression.
“O-Okay,” Jasper said softly, tugging at Alice as he stood up from his chair. “I feel your thirst, Alice. Stop fighting it.”
Edward’s head snapped up from where he’d walked a bit away from the table. “Alice,” he warned, almost in a low growl.
Walking to him, I put my hands on his chest. “Hey,” I called softly, making him look my way. “You okay? Something’s bugging you to death.”
His shoulders sagged, but he shook his head. “No, love. I just…” He smiled a little, cupping my face.
“Monitoring a bunch of vampire minds around his human girlfriend is not an easy job, Bella,” Tanya teased him, and he smirked her way.
“Yeah, pretty much,” he admitted, but his smile didn’t reach his eyes when he leaned in to kiss me. “Let me take you back to the castle, and I’ll go drop the car off.”
“Okay,” I told him, turning to get my stuff, but Alice was already there with all my gifts packed up, including the one she’d told me to wait on. She merely tapped it, winking my way. “When will I see you again?” I asked her.
“Soon,” she vowed, hugging me, and this time, she remembered to be gentler. “The more I do this, the easier it’ll get, and you’re the only human I want to see, so…”
Laughing softly, I nodded. “Yes, yes… Us lowly humans,” I teased her. “Still, call me Sunday and tell me about the new place.”
Her eyes flickered to Edward, but she only smiled and hugged me again. When she pulled away, I was hugged by Tanya and then Irina, and finally, I thanked Leah for the food and the party, kissing her cheek.
Edward was quiet as he led me to his Mustang, opening the door for me to get in. The drive back was just as quiet, but when he pulled up in front of Masen Manor, I turned to look at him.
“Are you upset with me?”
His head snapped up. “What? No, love.” He got out of the car and walked around, holding his hand out to help me out. Once he closed the door, I found myself pressed into it. “I’m sorry, Bella. My mind is everywhere tonight. I had to watch everyone…”
Smiling, I wrapped my arms around his neck. “Well, I’m in one piece, so you can relax now.”
He huffed a laugh through his nose, but bent to kiss me. I found myself completely surrounded by him, with hands in my hair, an arm around my waist, and cool lips kissing mine until I thought I’d burst into flames right there in front of my school.
Edward slowed us down, a smile curling his lips. “Someone’s watching…”
Grinning, I shot a look over his shoulder to see a few silhouettes in the windows throughout the front of the school.
Letting out a sigh, I met his gaze. “How long will you be?”
“Not long. Just long enough to store the car and run back,” he explained, dropping kisses to my lips as his breath pushed out across my face.
I gathered my gifts, smiling up at him on my way to the door. “Thank you, Edward…for that…”
For the first time in what seemed like hours, his smile was real and crooked and sweet; it crinkled his eyes. “You’re welcome, my love. Happy birthday.”
I reached for the door. “Hurry.”
He slid into the car, looking up at me. “Yes, ma’am.”
I pushed my car much harder than I probably should. The whole night had been wonderful and scary and annoying all at the same time. I’d had to monitor every mind around my girl until I thought I’d go mad, but the more I watched her, the more Jasper could feel everything pouring out of me – every emotion from love and adoration, to lust and want and need. It was hell on earth, especially when Alice could see every decision I made.
The Mustang’s engine rumbled through Hunter’s Lake toward the outskirts of town. I stored it in a unit along with a few other things I didn’t always use. I punched in my code, parked the car inside my unit, and left at a human pace, simply because I knew the place was under video surveillance. Once I was safely away and in the shadows of the woods, I took off at a run. Masen Manor’s high brick wall loomed ahead, and I scaled it without breaking my stride.
I took the hidden tunnel that started at the far north of the grounds, winding my way through the castle to the east wing. A deep inhale told me Bella had showered, but my ears told me she was playing the new electronic keyboard I’d put in my room. Smiling, I stepped in through my door, coming to a standstill at what I saw in front of me.
Bella’s hair was twisted up in a messy knot on the top of her head, the ends of the loose curls were still wet from her shower, but it was what she was wearing that was killing me. A cream, almost too-thin robe, and that was it. Nothing else. I could hear the piano’s chords, despite the headphones my girl was wearing, but I didn’t know the song she was playing. I was just about to ask her when her sweet voice lightly sang the words.
How long will I love you? 
As long as stars are above you
And longer if I can
How long will I need you?
As long as the seasons need to

Follow their plan
As she played, the fabric of that silky-looking robe slipped down to reveal a smooth, creamy bare shoulder. I closed my eyes, gripping my hair in a fistful as she sang softly to herself about love and forever and always. It didn’t help that she was using my own words of stars in her song.
I opened my eyes again, taking in every inch of her. I could walk away, leave, coming back when she was dressed for bed, but somehow, I didn’t think I could do it. My resolve disintegrated as soon as she tugged off the headphones and turned just enough to see me. It was the smile on her face that crumbled all my self-control. It splintered like glass, a spider web of fissures that fell into a pile of rubble with a simple, sweet smile. That smile was mine. It was happy and healed and trusting. It was everything good in the world, and it was completely different from the smile I’d received almost a year ago when I’d met her. As I looked at the smile that was only meant for me, I couldn’t even remember what I was fighting for.
“Hey,” she whispered, still smiling as I walked to her to straddle the bench, which put her between my legs. “I thought of something in the shower.”
“It’s beautiful, love,” I whispered back, unable to stop myself from kissing that smooth bare shoulder. Trailing my nose up to her neck, I inhaled the sweet, clean scent of her at the same time I checked my resolve, my strength, and the demon that lived inside of me. None of it mattered. “Play it again,” I begged softly.
Her giggle made me smile. “It’s not finished.”
“Don’t care.”
Her fingers graced the keys once more, and I pressed my forehead against her temple, watching as she played with ease, with a confidence that only came from true talent. Her hum was sweet and light, again murmuring words of endless love, of stars above, of oceans and sand, and of seasons never-ending. I closed my eyes, only to open them again. I knew they were black and heated as my gaze traveled up her arms to view the rest of her. That silk robe was even softer than I’d imagined and just as revealing.
When Bella’s playing faltered, I nuzzled her cheek.
“Hmm?” she hummed happily, meeting my gaze as her hand reached up to fix the fallen shoulder of her robe, but my hand stopped hers, lacing our fingers together. “Edward?” she whispered, her sweet brow furrowed with worry, but I leaned in to kiss it. “You okay? Your eyes…”
I shook my head in answer, hardly able to find the words to speak. I was feeling everything at once, and I knew if Jasper had been anywhere near me, it would’ve driven him far away.
Opening my mouth and then snapping it closed with a click of my teeth, I studied her face. She was patiently waiting for me to answer her, but in the meantime, I couldn’t stop touching her, kissing that sweet bare shoulder, or inhaling the scent of her. The need for her burned through me, and it was much more painful than the change I’d gone through into immortality. It made me ache for her, shake with the desire to claim her completely. But I feared that saying such things would scare her.
Swallowing nervously, I brushed a kiss across her lips. “What was your wish, Bella? When you blew out the candles tonight, what did you wish for?”
Her smile was secretive and sexy and utterly adorable. “If I tell you, it won’t come true.”
I couldn’t help but grin back, simply because she had no idea what I’d give her. “Yes, it will,” I whispered, bringing our hands up so I could kiss her fingers and then the inside of her wrist. “Don’t you know by now that I’d give you anything?”
Her laugh was soft and sweet, and she cupped my face with her free hand, tilting her head a little. “You’ve given me enough, Edward,” she chided teasingly, brushing her lips over mine, which only caused the fire burning within me to flare up that much hotter. “So much that I didn’t wish for anything.”
My eyes raked over her face, flickering between her warm brown eyes and down to her lips, and I saw nothing but total honesty gazing patiently back at me. The instincts inside of me all clicked into place. All of them. And she’d been right; they felt completely different than the ones that had destroyed Phil in order to protect her. These instincts were solely focused on her, on her heartbeat, her smile, her dilated pupils, and the salty/sweet smell and taste of her skin.
“Edward, you’re shaking,” she pointed out worriedly, squeezing my hand and reaching up to push my hair off my forehead.
“Because I… I can’t…” I shook my head to clear it, in order to focus on forming simple English words, but it seemed almost impossible. “It’s all I can do…”
Something in her expression changed; an understanding of sorts passed across her beautiful face. But instead of being frightened, a warmth melted her features.
“We can wait…”
“God, I don’t want to wait anymore,” I practically growled, letting go of her hand and releasing her hair from its knot. Slipping my fingers deep into her curls, I pulled her forehead to mine. “I can’t. It’s impossible, Bella. I waited until you spoke to me, until you knew what I was, until you made your choice to be with me. We waited through everything back in Boston, and then my diet… I can’t wait any longer.”
Her smile was gentle and sweet, but her breathing and heartbeat were picking up. “But you’re shaking, Edward. What’s scaring you?”
“It’ll change everything.”
“No, it won’t. It’ll only cement how we feel,” she countered, scooting closer, and she ran her fingers through my hair in the way that she knew could calm me. Even that was too far away, so I pulled her to my lap so that she was wrapped around me as she continued, “You told me once not to fight it, not to fight how I was feeling. I believe I said the same thing goes for you.” She placed her hands flat on either side of my face. “You said we could have faith in us.”
If I’d had a white flag, I would’ve raised it in surrender. The rumbling growl that erupted from me couldn’t be stopped, neither could the kiss I needed more than air, than life, than blood.
We kissed until Bella was breathless, until her lips were plump and red, and even then, my lips didn’t let up from kissing her everywhere I could as I stood us up from the piano bench. I wanted her in my bed. I’d wanted her in that damn bed since I saw it back in my room again after a hundred years. Warm fingers tugged at my T-shirt, and before I set her down, I lost my mind for a second, ripping the offending material completely away at the same time I kicked out of my shoes.
When I settled her down in the middle of the bed, her dark hair spread out around her, but that damned robe opened just enough to drive me mad. My forehead thumped to hers as my own breathing picked up.
“You’re so beautiful, my love,” I panted, opening my eyes to take in her nervous, yet calm face. “You have to talk to me. You have to tell me if…”
She shook her head, but smiled. “You won’t hurt me. You never have.”
“You’re… You’ve never…” I swallowed back nerves, completely shocked that my venom was almost nonexistent. I toyed with the thin belt of that robe, slowly untying it, but I didn’t open it yet, even though with my heightened sight, I could see that she was completely bare beneath it.
She grinned. “Edward…shut up, and be grateful.”
Her sweet demeanor caused me to smile. It was impossible for me not to smile around her. I reached for the edges of her robe, which by now I was convinced was new and the present Alice had given her to open here, but I locked gazes with Bella first.
“I love you. More and more every day. Tell me you know that before I…” I tugged the silky material a little.
“I love you, too, Edward,” she replied instantly. “Always.”
I leaned in, kissing her slowly, languidly, trying my damnedest to slow myself down. My fingers pushed the robe apart, but I still hadn’t looked at her.
“Edward, touch me.”
Threading her fingers into my hair with one hand, she covered my own with the other, guiding my touch. Everything underneath the pads of my fingers was familiar, but all of her would be new to my eyes. I knew, with every fiber of my being, that as soon as I looked, I’d be a ruined man.
And I was.
Every inch of her was perfection: the full shape of her breasts that fit into my hands; the curve of her hips that shifted beneath my gaze; the soft, creamy skin of her belly that rose and fell with every breath taken; and finally, the apex of her thighs, where her legs pressed together. Nothing about her was fake or wrong or altered, and every-damn-thing about her was made for me.
In order to distract myself from merely ravishing her, I leaned down to kiss her at the same time my hand explored. Again, my mind fought to remember everything I’d seen in minds in the past in order to prepare her…and myself for this next step, but there was nothing that compared to the feel of soft skin, of heavy breaths against my cheek, or of contracting stomach muscles when I found a ticklish spot. Poetry, love songs, and romance novels had nothing on the reality of it. She was a live wire beneath my touch, and I wanted her to completely fall apart before I claimed her as my mate.
“Open up for me, love,” I whispered against her cheek, but my eyes were on my rogue hand cupping her sex possessively. I purred when her legs fell open, but I pressed a kiss to her temple. “I want to… I need to… You need to be ready for me, Bella,” I said, my eyes rolling back as my finger circled her entrance, which was already wet, but I felt her fingers at the button of my jeans. “No, no, no… Baby, you touch me, and this’ll all be over way too soon. And sweet girl, I want to savor this. Please.”
Her hands balled up into small fists in order to fight the need to touch, and I understood it, but I need to lead the moment, at least for now. This first time was touchy, but I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I couldn’t wait until she took control, until she could have her way with me, which couldn’t be now.
The scent of sweat beaded on her brow at the same time I added another finger, working her, stretching her. The wetness that coated my hand wasn’t enough, but I also couldn’t stop myself. Bella whimpered when my touch left her, her hips rising up off the bed, but her eyes were black as pitch when I tasted her on my hand.
She was the best flavor, musky and sweet, tart. It was the pure essence of her, and I knew that one day, I’d have to figure out how to drink from the source without hurting her, but it wasn’t at that moment, because I knew she’d been close before I pulled away, so I went back. This time, I added my thumb into the mix…and another finger. Swirling the spot that was swollen and aching, I couldn’t decide where to focus: her stunning face as she shattered, or my hand where I was coaxing her orgasm from her.
Every inch of her exploded, her petite frame shaking as she called out my name, and the possessive bastard inside me wanted more. I moved too quickly – I felt it – but I couldn’t stop from practically destroying my jeans to get them off, but when I reached for her, my grip was too much, too rough, which made me pull back in fear.
“Edward.” She grasped my face in both hands. “Shhh, easy… Look at me, Edward.”
There was a fight-or-flight moment, but one look at her sated, yet patient face gave me the courage to stay right there in her arms.
She shook her head, pulling my face down to hers in order to kiss me softly, but at the same time, her legs wrapped around my hips, settling me in the cradle of her thighs. I could still smell her, taste her in the air, and feel her muscles clenching, but the feel of her skin on mine snapped me back.
“Don’t be sorry. Just love me.”
“Always,” I vowed, lining myself up with her entrance. Squeezing my eyes closed, I whispered, “I don’t want to hurt you, love, but…” I took her hand in mine, threading our fingers together and pressing them gently into the bed as I slipped just inside her.
There was a moment when her face looked pinched, pained, but she squeezed my hand and her legs pulled me in. Both of us let out an almost feral sound once I was seated completely inside of her, simply because I could feel the pull to her, the electricity that always crackled around us kick up to a fever pitch when I felt her innocence give way. My mouth gaped at the feel of her, the heat, the heartbeat that felt like my own, but something caused me to freeze.
I met Bella’s gaze as my mind caught something familiar, yet…not. “Oh my damn, Bella…I can hear your mind…”
She grasped at my face. “Really?” she breathed, looking shocked, but I could see that she was struggling to stay still.
Suddenly, my mind was assaulted, and the images were more beautiful than anything I’d ever seen. They were of me. All of them. It was from the minute I’d met her up until that moment. It was every hug, every kiss, every smile I’d ever given her. It was her faith in me and her gratefulness for my taking care of her in every way. It was her love for me, and it was real and perfect and never-ending. It was as strong as my own. I’d never doubted that fact, but seeing it, actually hearing it through her mind was utterly amazing…and oddly calming.
Do you see now? she thought to me, kissing my lips roughly.
“Yes,” I whispered against her mouth as I slowly started to move. I wanted to cry at the overload of emotions going through me, at the intense feeling of not only hearing her mind for the first time, but at the feeling of finally being one with my mate.
Hearing her thoughts gave me the advantage; she could show me what hurt and what caused her eyes to roll back into her head. I loved her to the point I thought I’d go mad with it, until she was shaking beneath me again. It was seeing us through her eyes that caused my fall into the abyss. To know that she could feel just how deep this felt, how big it all was, and to hear her actually think the word “mate” was all it took to send me over the edge.
The growl I let loose only spurred her on and sent her tumbling into another orgasm.
Mine,” I rumbled, burying myself as deep as I could.
My ears were ringing and I saw stars behind my eyes, but I didn’t want to lose that connection I had with her. My heart would break if I couldn’t listen to her thoughts.
“Don’t move,” she said, wrapping her arms around me and seeming to read my mind, and I smiled, brushing kisses to her forehead, her lips, the tip of her nose.
He’d better not ask if he hurt me…
I chuckled. “I won’t, I promise.”
Her brow furrowed, but a smile graced her lips. “I guess we learned something new.”
Biting my lip, I nodded, but I could see that she was a little sensitive, though my cooler skin was helping. The gentleman side of me knew that I needed to take care of her, but the newly mated vampire couldn’t bring myself to pull away just yet.
God, I was so wrong, she thought, trailing her fingers down my face and along my jawline. When I frowned, her eyes welled up with tears, but she smiled at the same time.
“I was wrong, Edward,” she whispered aloud, but her tears trailed down into her hair. “This changed everything. I didn’t think I could love you anymore, but I do.”
Nodding, I kissed her, finally finding the courage to separate myself from her. Immediately, her thoughts disappeared.
Her sniffly-giggle made me smile. “You look like I just took away your favorite toy.”
“Hush, sweet girl. Let me take care of you.” I grinned salaciously, kissing her lips. “And then…we’ll figure out how that works,” I told her, and she was still giggling when I carried her into the bathroom.


aelita48 said...

They finally coupled.
It is a beautiful birthday for Bella.
Thank you.

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