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Edward's Eclipse

Summary:
For True Edward Fans. An in-depth, accurate portrayal of the heart,
mind, and soul of the beloved Edward Cullen as he deals with the complex
themes and events taking place during Eclipse. Canon. Rated T for intimacy. Eddie's and Bellie's Twilight Fiction Award winner for "Canon that's better than Canon", TwiFic Indie Award Nominee for "Best Indie Story by and Established Author We Know and Love".


Notes:
Eclipse: Edward's Story I do not own Twilight, nor do I own any of Twilight's characters. All characters and themes referenced in Eclipse: Edward's Story belong to Stephenie Meyer. Any quotations from Eclipse are purely for reference and are in no way an attempt at any copyright infringement. For me, Edward Cullen is one of the most fascinating fictional characters in postmodern literature. In my imagination, Edward's existence is a constant existential crisis. The elements of conflict, duality, and desperation embodied by his character are all so fascinating. I hope I've done him justice. Feedback is appreciated. I love critics. Enjoy.


1. Theme from Chapter 8 - Temper

Rating 5/5   Word Count 9311   Review this Chapter

Emmett's jovial, booming laughter was completely filling the night air. His joy felt infectious. Running from the woods, I saw him approach and as if a bolt of energy shocked him, he charged at me for a high five. I rolled my eyes, but relented and raised my hand to his. He smacked it with unnecessary, exuberant force. I grinned at him and wrenched the handle to the Jeep open, sliding into the back seat. Carlisle arrived next to me, Jasper took the front seat, and Emmett slid behind the wheel.

Emmett was positively beaming. He had successfully brought down an entire herd of deer, completely destroying his previous record of the "Seven Minute Slaughter", as he liked to call it. I suppressed another smirk as I remembered the massive smile that adorned his face as Jasper called out the defeat of his previous personal record. The new record was established at seven deer in six minutes and twenty-nine seconds. I heard him repeatedly congratulate himself in his thoughts, marveling at his own prowess and strength. Carlisle smiled at his adopted son, musing at his fervor for competition, even with himself.

"Yes!” he squealed, slapping the back of Jasper’s seat with his right hand, leaving a hand imprint on the fine leather.

He turned to beam at me from behind the wheel and cast a quick gloating look at Jasper. Jasper sighed in the front seat and turned his thoughts to his memories of hunting as a human young man. There were others with him in the image and I briefly wondered if they were his human family. I blocked him intentionally. His thoughts were fascinating, but it felt inappropriate to intrude. Emmett exhaled loudly again in self-satisfaction and turned to face the dirt road, switching the key over in the ignition and shaking his head at himself in pure delight.

“I will never tell you my secret, guys. But I can tell you that it's all about pacing yourself…" he said.

He had addressed all of us, but he was talking to me. His eyes trained on mine in the rear-view mirror.

"Emmett…I stalk and you charge. I know more about pacing than you could possibly imagine," I pointed out.

I added emphasis on those last few words with a slightly raised brow. I wore an intentionally smug look on my face. I truly was the more graceful and efficient hunter and he knew it.

"Really…” he challenged.

He blocked his thoughts from me and turned his head, arching his torso at an extreme angle in an effort to imitate a very careful back-up of the vehicle. He was grinning. As he completed his back-up he did not readjust, instead he leaned further across the middle console of the front seat and placed his hand on the back of Jasper's seat.

“Well...why don't we put your money where your mouth is, bro? Next time, we switch styles. You use my technique and I’ll use yours, if that’s what you call it. Jasper will time us and we'll see who can meet the challenge in less than six minutes and twenty-nine seconds!” He stared from the front seat and raised one eyebrow. He was goading me. I tried to read his thoughts, but he kept his mind closed by humming his favorite rock tune.

I met his eyes and resisted the urge to taunt him with a response that would only be rooted in conceit. Deer was one thing; mountain lion was another. I had a fleeting image of Emmett attempting to "stalk" a female mountain lion.

He let out a low growl. I sighed and rolled my eyes at him, averting his gaze completely. Nothing annoyed Emmett more than being ignored. He read that my reaction was an attempt to convey that the thought of his challenge was not worthy of my attention. He still hadn't moved, though. His determination intensifying.

I continued to show my indifference, pretending to not notice. I propped my elbow on the window frame and placed my closed fist under my right cheek as if to continue to express my boredom. He let out another growl. I glanced from the trees to his face, pretending to be confused by his frustration. “Are you going to drive on?” I inquired, releasing my fist from under my cheek, waving him forward with my hand as if to encourage him.

He knew me better than that. He peered at me suspiciously with a devilishly wide smile forming at the corner of his mouth. “Nope, not until I get an answer, Edward! You can’t avoid me. Come...on! Don’t be a coward…” he whined.

At this Jasper turned his torso in his seat in front of me to provide me with a sympathetic glance. Carlisle looked amused. I cast annoyed glances at them both before I conceded. “Fine, Emmett.” I sighed again.

He moved his arm from Jasper's seat and pushed out a fist towards me. I met it with a resigned smile. He turned forward in total satisfaction. "Power fists seal the deal, Edward," he said. Nodding his head back and forth as if my commitment was irrevocable.

Yes! It will be soooo awesome. We’ll make it a series of challenges with diff..

“ But…” I interrupted him. I held up one finger as he tightened his eyes in the rear-view mirror waiting for the condition. His mental rejoicing ceased immediately.

“It should be noted that I cannot promise to imitate your technique properly. Brutish, irrational charges simply may not be possible for me…” I murmured casually, struggling to appear certain that the very prospect was utterly impossible.

“HA, HA! We’ll see, little bro, we’ll see!” he boomed loudly.

Jasper chuckled and turned to face the road. Carlisle let out hearty laugh. With a new song in his thoughts, Emmett finally slid out of the woods, put his foot on the gas, and began our journey home. We began to drive and I closed my eyes, feeling relaxed. I rested my head against the window and gazed at magnificent beauty of the forest.

I enjoyed these drives, but it did take significant concentration to maintain their privacy in the quiet car. As I tuned them out, I could not escape the verbal conversation taking place between Emmett and Jasper regarding the subject of hunting cold-blooded reptiles this coming summer. Carlisle was peaceful and at ease, as usual. His thoughts were of his patients and Esme. After a while, Emmett and Jasper’s words, and Carlisle’s thoughts ranged from a low hum to a comfortable silence. I barely noticed.

My excitement overcame my rational mind and I began to anxiously count the minutes until we would enter the town of Forks. It wouldn’t be long now, particularly with Emmett’s desire for speed intensified by his high mood and fresh victory. I was not just excited. I felt absolutely elated.

I closed my eyes tighter and shifted my head to rest against the cool leather seat, letting my mind wander. She was there, at my house, sleeping on the exquisite, antique bed I'd purchased for her. By now, she could be curled into a ball, hopefully wishing I were there with her. I smiled in remembrance of the vision I’d intercepted from Alice’s mind of Bella laying in an elegant position on the far side of the giant bed, dreaming.

All I could think of was Bella. I felt a twinge of guilt as I remembered why I was so excited. She was at my house because I’d tricked her, leaving her in Alice’s care under extreme circumstances. Although I loath to appear the tyrant, I had no choice. I could not concentrate on any aspect of the hunt with my mind constantly drifting to her safety. It was intolerable.

I suddenly realized that Emmett’s cheer might be because, for the first time in a very long time, we had all hunted together. Was his challenge was not just for sport, but also a ploy to plan a repeat of this weekend’s adventures? I winced; my ill mood frequently disrupted the lives of those I loved.

But, in truth, with Bella safe in Alice’s capable hands, I’d actually been able to enjoy myself this weekend. Jasper had felt like himself without my depression and anxiety rolling toward him in incessant waves of anguish. Emmett had been able to do what he does best, enjoy our lifestyle in any way possible. Carlisle frequently looked at us all in bright-eyed wonder, sincerely thanking his God for the very fact that we were all together.

His sincerity was humbling.

In fact, not only had I been free from worry of Bella’s safety, but I had also received a delightful surprise halfway through the trip, brightening my mood even more. I grinned to myself as I remembered the voice message she’d left on my phone. Flustered and pouty, she’d called to scold me for deceiving her. It was ridiculously adorable. I had listened to the message six times before saving it.

I caught myself on the verge of laughter as I recalled another vision I'd caught from Alice’s mind prior to our departure. It was exquisite. In the vision, Bella was sitting on our white couch; Alice at her feet, painting Bella’s delicate toes a shocking shade of red. I truly struggled to stifle my laughter as I remembered the scowl I was sure I’d seen on Bella’s beautiful face. Her lips were always so full and soft. They were always so inviting…

I was impatient. Where were we? I had drifted into my thoughts so completely I'd nearly lost track of time. In my sudden awareness, I lowered my mental block on my family’s minds too prematurely. Instantly, I caught an image in Emmett’s mind of Rosalie sauntering towards him, lips bright red, and hair wild. Jasper was thinking about taking Alice horseback riding. Carlisle was reciting his favorite poems by Rudyard Kipling. I cringed at the intensity of Emmett’s memories and immediately blocked them again. It was late and we were at least an hour from Forks.

I sighed, closing my eyes again, lowering myself further into my seat. Time taunted me when I was away from her. In my new comfortable position, I activated the part of my mind’s eye that held my most cherished experiences with her. I could find peace there when we were apart. Since I'd fallen in love with Bella, I had developed a new appreciation for my detailed vampire senses, which allowed me to preserve even the most inane details as carefully protected memories. I sifted through my best, most cherished memories selecting one of my favorites. I walked through it with perfect clarity, reliving the details with extraordinary pleasure, allowing it to absorb me completely.

--

Her bed was too small for the both of us, but we managed. She was wide-awake, her face turned to mine, her eyes clear and deep, her scent delicate and powerful. We laid there in the darkness nearly nose to nose, but otherwise separated as if an invisible barrier were placed between our bodies. My invisible barrier. Despite my insistence, she was adamantly refusing to sleep. We had been back together approximately six days and although she never said as much, I knew she remembered how much sleep she had gotten when I had abandoned her. She probably wished to never sleep again.

My involuntary grimace in response to the reminder of my actions almost lifted me from my reverie. I fought it back and focused on the memory. I tightened my eyes.

Her hair was soft and shiny in the dim moonlight. The smooth, warm sensation of the thick strand on my fingertips, as I cleared it from her neck, was exhilarating. She shivered, but not from the cold. We laid like that for several minutes until the overwhelming urge to kiss her forced my cold lips to hers. I closed my eyes and wrapped both of my hands around the cheeks of her lovely face. Her mouth gave under the slightest pressure. The sensation was exquisite.

Immediately, her breathing hitched in response to my tender kiss. She sighed into my mouth with pleasure. She rested her small hands against my chest. She was so warm. Usually, our intimacy was not enough for her and that night; I had felt a small fraction of what she must feel all the time. I struggled to resist, but ultimately decided to move my right hand from its comfortable position on her left cheek. I just wanted to feel more of her skin. I slowly moved my fingers along her jaw line, carefully tracing the magnificent curve from its start at her chin to the ending at the base of her ear. I did not stop kissing her lips. Ever mindful of the pressure at my fingertips, I continued to trace her neck until my entire hand finally longed to touch her.

Slowly, I enveloped my entire hand around the side of her warm neck. Her blood increased its pace through her body, her heart charged in her chest, and her body practically struggled to be near me. I could feel her pulsing vein beneath my hand and instantly, I washed the fresh venom away within a fraction of a second. I paused, considering whether her discipline could handle anything further. I stopped my hand at the place on her neck.

“Bella…” I whispered against her lips, my left hand still cradled against her right cheek, which was almost touching the pillow underneath her head.

She did not respond immediately. She could sense the difference in my touch and the intensity in my kiss. My eyes opened and I caught her intense glare. Although I could not read her thoughts, with this, I knew her mind. She wanted me to touch her; she just could not say it.

“Bella…I need you to promise me that you will control yourself…” I whispered firmly.

When she had failed to respond the second time, I pulled my head back slightly and intensified my gaze. Her heart was racing, hammering, pounding. She had the look of a deer trapped in the glare of bright headlights. The comparison unnerved me.

“Sorry…” she finally breathed, exhaling suddenly. She hadn’t been breathing and I chuckled against her skin. Was she sorry for feeling passion? She had no idea.

“Bella…can you control yourself…if…?” I continued. After seeing her eyes in that helpless expression, I was not entirely certain of her ability to breathe.

“Yes…please…please, Edward…” she whispered with veiled anticipation.

I closed my eyes to relish her words, her scent, and her careful annunciation of every syllable of my name. When I was sure she was composed, I opened my eyes and carefully placed my lips to hers again, moving slightly against her mouth. As I moved my hand from her neck to her collarbone, down her arms, around her elbow, stopping at her ribs, she breathed again and moved just slightly into the tender pressure of my hand. She was pressing her hands slightly against my chest, willing me to continue.

The warmth of her breath permeated my senses and swirled high above us into a colorful, intoxicating cloud. I ceased breathing, pausing for another infinitesimal second in order to force the newly pooled venom down my throat. The pain was intense, but when I was sure I could continue to kiss her again, I slowly moved my free hand to a comfortable position to the curve at her hip and waist. It felt as if she had been carved specifically for my hand. The warmth of her skin through her soft cotton nightshirt was desperately alluring.

Carefully, I wrapped four fingertips just short of the small of her back, watching her carefully as I moved my thumb back and forth along her abdomen, enjoying the sensations. Tingling ran through my arm and her heart went wild for me.

Spectacular.

I could not get enough of her and as I kissed her, my thumb moved back and forth, accessing with each stroke a wider range of my newly discovered territory. As I shifted my hand just slightly, my thumb caught the edge of her night-shirt and my thumb slid underneath. Clothing was essential to her protection. But, with this movement, my resolve wavered further and hers completely crumbled.

Quickly, she removed her hands from their stationary position on my cold chest and moved them downward, imitating my actions as her left hand stopped just short of my hip. Her hands were small and delicate and they left a wave of warmth down the front of my chest and down my side. She was not slow and deliberate, but she carefully moved her fingers across my abdomen to slide them underneath my shirt without warning.

The shocking warmth of her touch forced my eyes open; I tilted my head back slightly. My lips stopped. She didn’t move. Our eyes gazed into one another as she assessed them in an effort to detect rebellion. She detected no such thing. I forced myself to relax. I closed my eyes as her little hand blazed a delightful trail into uncharted areas across my abdomen. In a matter of a minute, she'd felt every inch. Her touch sent thrills through my body and I still wasn’t breathing to avoid her scent, but I fought the urge to exhale in response.

Then, it happened.

Perhaps inspired by my acquiescence, she attempted to cross the proverbial Rubicon of our physical relationship. My eyes were closed as I lay back, enjoying the sensations inside and outside of my body, the tingling inspired by her touch, anxiously anticipating the upward movement of her hand - when suddenly she moved downward. In one fluid motion, her inoffensive little hand moved to the very top of my trousers. In the full second it took for her action to register with my sensation-addled brain, she had succeeded in placing the fingertip of her forefinger a fourth of an inch inside the band of my trousers.

My eyes flew open and our hands simultaneously ceased any and all movement. She froze her hand in its place, which was desperately unhelpful. Her warmth, combined with my desire for her to continue nearly destroyed my resolve to hold back. As I watched her eyelids slowly flutter open, she gazed at me from beneath her lashes with apology etched in her expression. She was dangerous. I clenched my jaw in frustration. Her single fingertip had succeeded in igniting an uncontrollable warmth within my body. I was aroused and aching for her touch. I couldn’t let that happen.

“Bella, I…why did…” I stammered and stopped.

My hands were still in place. I almost breathed out of habit to calm me, but decided against it. I took one second to collect my thoughts before carefully moving my hand from her waist, grasping her small hand in mine, before securing her palm against my chest. Our faces were inches apart as our eyes locked.

“Bella...” I breathed, agonized.

I did not want her to feel for one second that I did not want everything she did. She closed her eyes at the sound of my pain. I knew she regretted her rash decision. What was she thinking? I had to breathe, but it wouldn’t help me clear my head. I steadied myself and slowly breathed one time for recovery before beginning again.

Desire moved through me again as I reassessed her scent, leaving the sensations tingling on the back of my tongue, flooding my brain. Another pool of venom collected and I swiftly discarded it. I looked down at her warm figure next to mine, her full eyes focused on mine in anticipation, her full, sensual lips…

I started again, this time I controlled myself. I felt my firm resolve, my strength return. I would not allow my weakness to jeopardize her. I had to make her understand.

“Listen to me…”

Her eyes opened again, this time I could tell they were close to tears. She looked as if she was blaming herself, not me. The monster.

“Bella, don’t be upset, please. Listen to me. I need you to understand something, please.”

My voice was no longer pleading, but firm. She drew from my strength. Her eyes met mine with perfect clarity.

“I am sorry, Edward. I was out of line…I…” she started.

I hesitated, but decided it was safe to move my hand from hers. I took my right hand and laid my finger on her soft, swollen lips.

“No, no...” I shook my head. “I want you to know that I desperately understand what you are feeling, probably more than you know. But, I need you to grasp that there is more at stake here than physical satisfaction.” She closed her eyes and stifled a sob. “It was my fault. I am sorry,” I finished.

I moved my hands from their positions and pulled her close to me. Ironically, in that intimate moment, it had been her warm heartbeat that helped me reign in my sanity. I knew then that when my desire receded enough to hold her without the threat of losing control, I had made incredible progress. I took in the smell of her scent and rocked her to sleep.

--

“Edward, dude, are you okay?” Emmett asked...I could have sworn that if he could sleep…

Jasper turned to look at me, concerned, or confused by my feelings undoubtedly. Carlisle knew better. Are you thinking of Bella? He thought. I nodded.

I was still a bit startled at being thrown back into reality from a magnificent alternate universe. I was irritated by the disruption. I had subconsciously known we were slowing, and then stopping, but I had been absorbed with enjoying her. I gathered my bearings and realized we were close to home. Why did we stop? Ah, yes. Gas for the Jeep. Naturally.

The pull to get home felt so strong. Perhaps I should run? I wanted to see her. I wanted to hold her, take her scent into my mind and hold on to it, savoring its dynamic luxury. I needed her.

I got out and stretched. The air whipped around me, heavy with moisture. I took several deep breaths and cast a long glance at Emmett from across the top of the Jeep, silently willing him to speed up the process. He was not paying attention. As I opened my mind to his thoughts, I caught an image of Rosalie in yet another compromising position. Could he not control this when I was around? Emmett. I rolled my eyes.

“Damnit, hurry up!” Emmett shouted at the gas pump that persistently ticked at each liter of gasoline it unloaded into the vehicle. He was anxious for his own reasons.

“Patience, Emmett…” Jasper murmured, throwing a wave of calm his way.

“Ugh. Don’t do that, Jasper…” he pleaded. He sighed deeply. It was too late to argue. He felt so peaceful.

Jasper grinned and let out a low chuckle. Carlisle and I laughed too.

Finally, we pulled up the long, snaked drive to the house. I was much more excited than usual, of course. But, it felt really nice to be home. Home. I longed to be in my quiet, tranquil room. With her.

We pulled into the rounded drive and parked in the garage, which was already open. Alice waited for us on the hood of my Volvo, watching each of us get out of the vehicle. She was doing her very best to look indifferent. Inside, she was exuberant.

We each quickly jumped out, leaving our props in the car for later unpacking. Consciously, I shut my door quietly, immediately aware of my surroundings hoping that our arrival home would not wake her.

“Edward. Carlisle. Emmett…” she nodded her head at each of us from her seat on the hood of my car, casually, tilting her small features in an attempt at suppressing her radiant smile with mock seriousness.

Immediately, she locked eyes with Jasper, her smile slightly breaking through. He smiled back, walking toward her to lean against my car.

“Where’s Rose?” Emmett asked.

“Inside…” Alice coolly responded, her high musical voice higher than usual. She flashed a sly glance in my direction.

“Sweet!” Emmett exhaled right before he bounded out of sight around the back of the house, anxious to share his victory.

“I am headed inside. Good night.” Carlisle nodded, walking in the door.

I attempted to pass Alice and Jasper. As I headed into the entrance, I tried to alter my stride in an effort to appear casual. I did not fool Alice. In one lithe movement, she bounded off the hood of my Volvo and landed right in my path, grinning. Curiously, she kept her thoughts still. Gauging my expression, she offered something else, probably to prevent me from probing. She winked as she threw me an image of her speeding down the Pacific Highway in a new Mercedes with Jasper in the passenger’s seat. Undoubtedly, headed for a weekend of horseback riding on the beach. I smiled in response. She had her Porsche, but she'd earned it.

“Yes, Alice…” I chuckled.

“Oh, Edward!” She squealed, jumping with force to up and down on the concrete in little, graceful bounces.

“Shhh, Alice!” I scolded, attempting to scowl, but with no success. I truly loved her for just being Alice. She was my best friend.

Smiling sheepishly, she put her pointer finger to her lips in order to demonstrate her renewed silence. She was ecstatic. Jasper laughed to himself as he felt her joy. He spread it around in one clean movement. I didn’t need it though. I chuckled at his gesture and bid them goodnight with one backward glance as I headed through the doorway. I just wanted to get to my room and see her. I focused my mind on the steady hum of thoughts in an effort to anticipate the locations of my family members so that I could easily, and without insult, avoid them. Carlisle and Esme were in their room, both reading, and I stopped searching after I heard Emmett’s internal shout of “Damn!”

I didn’t want to know any more.

I moved too quickly up the staircases, unable to contain my anticipation any longer. I could hear her heartbeat from where I was standing and I thrilled at the sound. Bracing myself for her scent, I moved up the second staircase towards my hallway. My feet touched the firm landing and it hit me hard.

I had been away from her for too long. I stopped. Harnessing my purpose and determination, I took six deep, consecutive breaths. Her incredibly powerful scent inundated my senses and I sucked back all three full pools of venom that flowed simultaneously into my mouth. My throat screamed and my muscles rebelled against the systematic self-torture. I felt my stomach churn in agony, but I did not waver. Swallowing the last, slightly diluted gush of venom, I stepped slowly forward, judging each movement unnecessarily. I never wanted to hurt her again.

I stopped outside my door, closing my eyes, and silently relished the sound of her reliable, beautiful heart. I stilled my movements for a second and sighed, placing my hand against the door and letting my forehead fall against the smooth wood. The steady beat was so strong it coursed through my body, reverberating, surrounding me, dizzying me…thump-thump…thump-thump…the song of my existence.

I quietly grasped the cool doorknob and silently entered my room. I moved my body effortlessly through the doorway only to grab the doorknob on the other side in order to close the door quietly behind me.

Her scent was intoxicating, but I fought the new venom with every ounce of my being, ignoring the subsequent pain and discomfort. I trained my eyes on the bed, which was a total mess. Where was she? I flashed my eyes to my couch. Bella was curled against the side, sleeping soundlessly. Rejection washed over me. Was she truly so angry with me that she rejected my gift?

I was not necessarily sorry that I'd deceived her. Frankly, it was a necessity. If anything proved she had no regard for her own self-interest it was the very fact that she was sleeping soundlessly and comfortably in a vampire’s bedroom. She was brave. I smirked at her in the darkness, appreciating her subtle strength. Suddenly, I wanted apologize to her.

I took a step forward and stopped, realizing the doorknob was still in my hand. Ha! She succeeded in stunning me into complete inactivity, even while sleeping. Oh, Bella

I sighed, longing to touch her. But why was she on the couch? I had purchased the bed intentionally in response to a vision from Alice’s mind. I retreated to that vision and saw, for the second time, Bella curled up on the bed. I marveled again at her indecisiveness. Was she really that upset?

I moved silently forward. She stirred a little. Her sleeping habits had become increasingly erratic over the past few weeks. Between the nightmares that haunted her face and her fears that she would wake up and find that I had abandoned her, she rarely enjoyed more than five hours per night. I knew this was not enough. I flinched at the reminder of the pain I had caused her and silently walked toward her.

As I approached, I caught my reflection in the mirror above my dresser. I suddenly stopped. I could see myself clearly in the pale moonlight that now flooded my bedroom. I truly resembled a creature of the night. The reflection sent a shock through me. I was repulsive. I had to look away, but the image of my glaring white skin and my sallow frame haunted me. I forced myself to focus on her breathing and her heartbeat as I approached her form on the couch. I pushed away the second haunting image: predator hunting unsuspecting prey.

I sighed. She suddenly stirred again and then, in one slow movement, she reached up in a stretch and nearly dropped herself off the couch.

This would not do.

In a flash, I steadied her form and lifted her quickly to the bed. My hands burned with the touch of her skin. A warm sensation passed through me. I didn't want to let go, so I kept my touch soft on her back for a moment. Would I chill her? I withdrew to the edge of the bed, watching her peaceful sleep.

“Hmph”

I closed my eyes at the sound. She was dreaming! I loved this part of the night. The flood of words that came involuntarily from her lips were precious little extractions from her magnificent subconscious. My only way into her mind. Her nightmares scared her and I longed to understand them, to cease them, but her dreams were treasures. And, so often they were of me. She moved again, just slightly. Was she cold, despite my distance? The golden blanket meant for the bed was on the couch and I considering moving to retrieve it, but then she stirred again and rolled onto her back towards me. Immediately, her heart skipped a beat. It was a beautiful sound. I was sorry that my presence had woken her.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.” I whispered.

In a soft, clumsy movement, she reached her hand up to find me. It was dark now, the clouds had moved obscuring the moon entirely. She reached up, searching for my face. I leaned downward in an attempt to aid her, placing my hands on the edge of the bed. I didn’t want to hold out any longer, particularly when she was reaching for me. Her scent stirred with her movement; I quickly cleared the fresh venom effortlessly. I gave in. I met my cold hand to hers and softly positioned myself next to her. She pulled herself closer to me, closing the space between us.

We were nearly face-to-face, but I leaned down to snuggle my face against her neck. She smelled delightful. She placed her hands on my chest, resting them comfortably. Her warm touch brought a calming feeling over me. As I gently pulled her closer, I wrapped my arms around her entirely. Her scent was nearly overwhelming and my head buzzed with longing for her.

I was disrupted from my euphoria slightly when her body tensed. How could I have forgotten? She was angry and I was invading her space, selfishly pushing myself on her when she was upset. Was there no end to my self-absorption? I looked for more meaning behind her tension, but she was still. Her heart was beating steadily. It beat just as thoroughly as it had before. She began to relax.

I felt like I was in limbo. Should I disengage myself from her or not? What was she thinking? I felt so complete right here, lying next to her. I was not going to leave unless she verbalized that want, or pushed me away with her hands. I had been away too long. I wanted to soak in the feeling of lying here with her as if it were my last moment on Earth. I closed my eyes and concentrated hard. I wanted to preserve every detail for later review. But it was difficult to concentrate.

She was so warm, so soft, and so beautiful. I felt the sudden urge to kiss her, and almost as if she read my mind, she began to move her face slowly towards mine, angling upwards as if she were craning her neck. I bent to meet her and sought her lips with my own. Her scent was nothing compared to the feel of her lips against mine. She wanted me to kiss her. Was this my punishment for deceiving her? Some grizzly she was. I hugged her tightly; carefully applying enough sensitive pressure to her lips so that I could murmur against them without interrupting our kiss.

“I was braced for the wrath that was going to put grizzlies to shame, and this is what I get? I should infuriate you more often.”

I was glowing and if she had seen my face, she probably would have been furious. I was teasing her.

“Give me a minute to work up to it,” she mumbled.

Sleepy, yet still she was taunting me. Take your time, or mine for that matter, I have eternity. I could see the faint moonlight reflecting off her hair and I could not resist the urge to touch it. “I’ll wait as long as you want,” I confessed against her soft mouth.

I had to touch her hair. If she was angry, I may not get another chance to be close to her like this. I hesitated and then gave in. My fingers touched her hair and the softness and warmth captivated me. Carefully, in an effort to control my urges, I grasped a handful of her warm hair and closed my eyes at the sensation. I wanted more. I wanted her more.

The rustle of her hair created another intoxicating scent cloud. I anticipated the fresh pool of venom and immediately discarded it down the back of my burning throat. I was not thirsty, at least not for her blood. I felt the desire again. It was strong, much like my feelings on that remembered evening in her bedroom. As if she sensed my desire for her, her breath was slightly uneven.

“Maybe in the morning,” she stated weakly. She wasn’t angry! And, with her response, I felt emboldened to stay right here and touch her again.

“Whatever you prefer,” I offered generously. Her anger was justified and I could take it when it came. She breathed shallow again and pressed herself a little closer to my body. I felt the warmth from her emanating again, sending my senses into a frenzy. Close felt good. I shifted a tiny bit so that I could encourage her head to tilt upwards allowing me full access to her soft neck. She complied as I kissed her jaw line.

“Welcome home, I am glad you came back.” she practically whispered. Home. I let the sound of her voice as she said that word ring around in my head. It only propelled me to want to hold her tighter, show her how truly happy I was to find her here. Home. In all of my years, I had never truly considered all of the emotions that were summarized by that powerful four-lettered word. The emotion was strong, but I pressed it back for now. Her heart was speeding up and I loved every beat of it. I knew what she wanted. It felt powerful and invigorating.

“That’s a very good thing,” I murmured against her neck. The feeling of her jaw moving against the top of my head in an effort to funnel out her increasingly ragged breaths made me smile against her skin. She moved her arms to encircle my neck and wrapped them as tightly as she could manage.

“Mmmm…” she moaned. No. Don’t do that, Bella…

She was willing me to go further, pushing me to continue to kiss her, touch her, and want her. The sensual sound of her moan rang in my head, bouncing around, solidifying itself in my memory. I felt as if it would stay there for eternity.

Suddenly, I wanted her even more than I had in her bedroom that night. I wanted every inch of her on me, with me, next to me. I fought to repress the urges, but then carefully, I conceded that some small concessions could be made this evening. I would not allow her to push it too far; she grossly overestimated my self-control. And, some of that was my fault. I put on a good show.

Yet, as I kissed her again, my body began to ache for her with an uncomfortable intensity. The same sensations began to creep in slowly, filling me with excitement and leaving me full of want for her. She was so close to me. Should I stop myself? Stop her? What would I say? On what grounds? I was not losing control. I would never let it get that far. I deliberated quickly and made my decision. I would readjust boundaries, but only because I had proven to myself that I could and would stop.

I opened my eyes and immediately averted them from her throbbing neck. I had the venom back in one clean swallow and it burned. I paid no mind to it; nothing would ruin this moment. My attention focused on the first part of her in my line of sight; her delicate, pale arm, which she had wrapped around my neck. It was exquisite. A masterpiece. I longed to touch it and I did.

Carefully, I moved my right arm from her back to grace the side of her left elbow with my fingertips. Her heart stammered and I relished the reaction. I traced the skin down to the place where her arm connected to her body and made my way carefully to her ribs. Her arms locked around my neck even tighter, she was now struggling to steady herself. Desire washed over me again, pushing me further. I wanted her. In response to my desire my groin began to ache uncomfortably. I needed her. I wanted her warmth. I wanted her on top of me.

Without thinking, I touched her waist with my thumb and deliberately moved my hand to her soft thigh. She was wearing thin cotton pajamas and the heat of her skin permeated through them easily. Her leg was delicate and supple. The power of my hands softened further as I molded my touch to her soft curves. I wanted her closer. In a moment of inspiration, I quickly pulled her leg to my hip and let it rest against me. I couldn't help but look down. The sight of her thigh laying against my hip, pushing our bodies closer together was sensational. I ached more than ever to be with her, but I resisted the compulsion to push into her further. I felt her stop breathing. I could do this. I was still in control and my ability to resist was empowering.

I pulled back slightly, knowing my limits, angling my face away from the vision of her long leg wrapped around my hip to calm myself. Her throat was against my nose again and as her pulse quickened, her neck throbbed wildly. I fought the venom with ferocity. As I readjusted by body slightly, she moved her leg, trying to pull my hips toward hers.

This single action awoke within me primal arousal. Conflict raged and I tried to will it away, but I was unsuccessful.

I suddenly became aware that her movement might have been an attempt to free her foot of the golden sheets, which were now in a heap at her feet. The bed was a mess. Why were they crumpled? I had a feeling they were a casualty of her anger. The golden comforter was probably pulled off angrily, disrupting the carefully made bed, crumpling the sheets and pillows. Why was she not on the bed? I decided to ask her, buying myself some time.

I closed my eyes and whispered against the hollow of her throat. “Not to bring on the ire prematurely, but do you mind telling me what it is about this bed that you object to?”

In response to my question, she exhaled loudly and I lost a careful shred of my control at the sound. It was heavy with strained want. She did not respond, but it made no difference. Her exhale chipped away at my careful composure and without thinking clearly, I rolled to my back and pulled her on top of me, using my hold on her hips to steady her form on my abdomen. She moved easily, adjusting effortlessly against me. Slowly, she leaned to place her head against my chest, her arms rested in between mine. With that movement, I wondered if she could feel my arousal. She tightened as if she could and then relaxed. Did she enjoy the pressure?

Suddenly, I felt ashamed. What was I doing? What did she think of me? I had to know. I carefully pulled her face forward so that I could see her eyes. What I saw was unexpected. Her soft face was relaxed, her eyes were heavily lidded as they met mine with curious intensity. Her mouth was slightly parted, her lips begging to be kissed. The sight of her discomposure only heightened my ache for her body. I could not tear my eyes away from her soft lips, opened elegantly in premature ecstasy.

I ached to kiss her and secretly, I wanted to shower her neck with sensual kisses simply to elicit just one more moan from her lips. I angled her face upwards to try. The anticipation was outrageous. She exhaled abruptly. I closed my eyes against her neck in an attempt to maintain control. I suddenly felt a little light headed as I thought of her face again. Say something to lessen the tension.

“The bed? I think it’s nice…” I offered, smiling against her neck as I kissed it again. My voice was too uneasy in my own ears, but I was confident she wouldn't notice. Her heart stammered again and she fought for breath as she attempted to answer. I kissed her neck again, this time with my tongue slipping between my lips and teasing the nerves on her skin. I could not help myself. I desperately wanted to take her soft skin into my mouth and taste her, but almost as immediately as the thought entered my mind I rebelled against it. She gasped again in response to my tongue causing my groin to ache even more. I wanted to hear her little, pretty sounds. I wanted to hear her moan every syllable of my name in pleasure.

“It’s unnecessary,” she gasped. Her voice. She sounded desperate for me to satisfy her. She needed me, wanted me too. Maintain composure. You can do this.

“That’s certainly debatable; this would have been very difficult on a couch.” I chuckled, coolly, aching again for her mouth. Her plump lips were close. I rounded her chin and dared to dart my tongue out slowly, tasting her. She moaned again as the heat of her mouth and sigh dizzied my mind.

I fought the sudden urge to press her firmly against me, to hear her gasp again at the feeling of my arousal placed against her: aching, cold, hard and firm. I desperately wanted to know what she would think when she felt confirmation of her affect on me. I quickly let the vision of her face twisted in passion and pleasure float forward. I was new at this, too, but I knew that there were many things I could do to her to elicit that reaction. Many things that would be safe for her, for us both...the thought sent a shiver down my muscles. How could I possibly show her…

Stop. Stop. Stop. What was I thinking?

I clenched my jaw and reminded myself that I was still firmly in control. We were not doing anything that we should not do. If I could control my thoughts, I surely wouldn’t have to worry about relinquishing any of this control I fought so hard to maintain. I needed to remove her from this compromising position. I rolled slowly and shifted her warm body beneath me, careful to hover over her with just enough pressure to allow me to hide my arousal. I suddenly felt mortified for even entertaining a thought so outrageous. Embarrassment soon gave way to shame and then disappointment followed. I stifled a sigh.

I stared into her eyes. She was excited and her eyes conveyed her desire for me to do whatever I wanted to her. Stop. Take a step back and lower the anticipation. The desire will calm.

Her heart was out of control. How could one heart beat so quickly, methodically without suffering from premature explosion? The thought made me cringe. I was growing ridiculously thin skinned. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. I silently chuckled and looked again into her eyes. I was in control, still.

I gazed at her, but she looked away and blushed. She reached her face towards mine and settled with her cheek against mine. Her heat radiated. Inwardly, I cringed again at my self-absorption. This was unfair to her. She was not my plaything to simply mold and manipulate. A wave of humiliation washed over me again receding quickly into further disappointment. What had I hoped to gain by this? I was torturing her and I was torturing myself. Disgusting. I was leading her to conclusions that were unrealistic and impossible

“Did you change your mind?” She breathed against my face.

Her question was heavy with sexual implication, fraught with desire, and laced with hope. Hope that would never come. Excellent, Edward. Suddenly my mind was reeling.

What was I thinking? Control! Ha! Laughable.

Immediately, in a flood of shame, my thoughts from less than a minute ago came screaming back to me. I had actually hoped she could feel my arousal pressed against her body, truly allowing myself to entertain the thought of making love to her. The vivid images bombarded me as the shock of my undignified behavior sent a wave of revulsion through me.

Outrageous.

I quickly rolled away from her, sighing as the realization hit me that I could never admit to this depraved behavior. I could never tell her that I had entertained the thought. She would think she was less desirable than she was, but I could not reveal my shameful thoughts to her. I felt sick to my core. I was a coward.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Bella. I was just trying to illustrate the benefits of the bed you don’t seem to like. Don’t get carried away.” I responded in the coolest manner I could summon.

I was a vile monster. I closed my eyes and draped my arm over my face, hoping she wouldn’t read my expression and see right through my weakness. She sighed.

“Too late,” she admitted. “And, I like the bed.” Her tone was flippant.

I carefully raised my arm from my face to get one good peek at her. She was radiant. She looked up at me confidently through her thick lashes, one eyebrow raised. She had enjoyed it. She had enjoyed me. I stifled another sigh of longing. The image of her face exquisitely contorted in slight ecstasy flashed into my mind and sent a shock through my body. The shock was shameful and I tightened my closed eyes again to collect my thoughts.

She had liked the bed. I hoped it would make her feel more comfortable in a home not accustomed to sleeping. As a small gesture, I hoped it would encourage her to find her place here, with me. She said she liked it. Her sincerity was obvious. I did not deserve her. I did not deserve her smile, her eyes, her forgiveness, her patience, her kind understanding. I deserved none of it. But, I was thankful to have it.

“Good, I like it too.”

I briefly removed my arm from my eyes to kiss her forehead, which was still overly warm from our feverish interaction. I retreated instantly.

“But, I still think it’s unnecessary. If we aren’t going to get carried away, what’s the point?” she asked.

Did I detect an air of frustration in her tone? Yes, she was frustrated. She was frustrated because she failed to understand the ramifications of such an endeavor! How could I blame her? She did trust me. If it were so dangerous, would I have allowed myself to get so wholly carried away with her?

I shook my head at her from underneath my arm, which thankfully cloaked the longing in my eyes I am sure she could have easily interpreted. I sighed.

“For the hundredth time, Bella…it’s too dangerous.”

“I like danger!” she insisted. Her eyes were wide as if this was some sort of consolation or reassurance.

Much more than you should….my thoughts this time strayed to Jacob Black and I stopped myself.

“I know,” I sourly admitted.

Quickly, without any forewarning, her heart began to speed up and her scent gained momentum. She sat up, pulling herself up by her fragile arms in an attempt to gain some height over me. I froze. I was sure that my leisurely position would only frustrate her resolve, but I could not move. I did not meet her gaze, my arm forming a protective barrier.

“I’ll tell you what’s dangerous! I’m going to spontaneously combust one of these days and you’ll have no one but yourself to blame...” she said pointedly, jutting her chin in frustration. She was unfulfilled and I'd led her along. I winced and felt my muscles tighten in response to the truth in her words. I thought of her heart, beating uncontrollably, striving to continue its task of maintaining her life, while my venom coated mouth longed to steal it. The sound of her staggering heart rang in my ears for a split second. The beat reminded me that, as it was working relentlessly to comfort and sustain her, I had rejoiced in my own ability to manipulate her body to my will.

Again, the image of myself that I'd caught as I leaned over her flashed across my mind. White, glowing, unnatural. I resisted against the corners of my mouth as they tried to form a disgusted expression. I knew it wouldn’t escape her attention.

I didn’t want to adjust my arm, which was thankfully draped over my eyes, so I reached out my left arm and softly pushed her away from me. It wasn’t genuine, though. I wanted her near me, even if it was wrong.

“What are you doing?” she asked, clinging to my arm as I gently pushed her away from me, panic suddenly in her tone.

“Protecting you…from combustion…if it’s too much for you…” I lied.

“I can handle it.” She murmured, wiggling against my weak resistance to settle on my arm. She laid her head against my cool chest.

I lifted my arm slightly and snuck a peek again at the top of her head. Her hair was a glorious mess. I suppressed a chuckle that I knew she would misinterpret. Poor Bella. How could I have done this to her? I owe her an apology. I could not confess, but I would apologize. “I’m sorry I gave you the wrong impression, I didn’t mean to make you unhappy,” I explained.

She hesitated at little. Her delay frightened me a little. I moved my arm from my eyes in a motion too quick for her to catch and immediately searched her eyes; they were wide and trusting. Should I tell her? She should know who I am. She deserves to know me for the true monster beneath.

Suddenly, her right eye crinkled at the corner and her mouth turned slightly upwards. She was going to mock me. “Actually," she said with her right brow raised. "It was very, very nice…” she said coyly. She was teasing me.

I looked at her incredulously. The intensity of my gaze pushed into her eyes. She immediately averted her eyes down to the bed and the most delightful blush of pink rushed to the apples of her soft cheeks. I longed to touch them, to comfort her, to caress…

NO!…You’ve had your way enough tonight. I took a deep breath and tried to distract her.

“Aren’t you tired? I should let you sleep,” I asked, genuinely curious since I was aware that it was only a short while since we had returned from hunting, so the time was no more than two in the morning. She sighed and lay against my arm, rolling away from my probing eyes and my cold chest. Her head hit my arm with a thud that almost concerned me. She seemed not to notice.

She closed her eyes as she spoke slowly. “No, I'm not...and, I don’t mind if you want to give me the wrong impression again…”

Her voice was low. She was serious. It was almost…husky. I looked down at her face. From this angle, her profile was stunning. She closed her eyes in concentration. I watched her eyes dance across her thin lids as if she were dreaming. What was she thinking? Was she remembering something? Her heart began to speed up and she involuntarily parted her lips again. Not good.

The look of her lips pushed through several surges of thoughts. She was arousing my senses again and I was not sure that this time I could control the desperate need to feel her. Animalistic impulse coursed through me drudging up several unconnected, erotic fantasies that I felt sure I’d never considered until I had seen her face twisted in passion, eyes heavy, lips parted, anxious for satisfaction. Waiting. Waiting for me.Stop it, damnit. The least of her worries is spontaneous combustion. You will kill her…

You will kill her.

I sobered, but not fully free from the images inspired by her words. “That’s probably a bad idea. You’re not the only one who gets carried away,” I offered, searching her face.

Her eyes were still closed, but her mouth moved to push up the corners of her cheeks, squinting her eyes. Almost…in disgust. “Yes…I am,” she grumbled.

Could she be serious? Did she want me to crumble and destroy our lives? Had she any idea what I was fighting against by not taking her right now, every day, every single minute we were together. Did she truly think I was made of steel? Realization struck me. She genuinely thought I did not desire her as she desired me. Ridiculous…

One day, perhaps, I could explain it to her. A day that was not today, lying on my bed, her hormones forcing her to risk death and dismemberment for the chance to simply be next to me. I had to chuckle at her reckless naivety. I looked at her with genuine feeling, but she did not open her eyes.

“You have no idea, Bella,” I countered. “It doesn’t help that you are so eager to undermine my self-control, either!”

She looked up at me, chin raised and eyes open. Her mouth was tightened in seriousness. She leaned forward as if to convey herself clearly. Her eyes were as clear as any unguarded thought.

“I’m not going to apologize for that.” She said firmly.