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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.


10. Theme from Chapter 20 - Compromise - Part Two

Rating 5/5   Word Count 6630   Review this Chapter

The set of my mouth straightened automatically. She gazed at me with wild eyes as I flagrantly narrowed my own. Before she could register the movement of my hand, I snatched one iron rose from the bedpost and held it before her. Her human eyes adjusted slowly. After her momentary confusion passed, I crushed the flower into fine iron granules with a snap of my hand. It was unfortunate that I had to be so theatrical, but apparently outlandish demonstrations were necessary. She was watching intently. With a quick break of my wrist, I flicked the sand across the room dramatically.

I stared at her with purpose for another second, hoping she understood.

Bella gazed back in silence, but I could her heart gaining speed. Her face was sullen at first, undoubtedly processing my actions. The blood underneath her thin skin began to rush to her face. I realized then that she was getting angry. It took me just a quick second of additional observation to understand that her expression was somehow indifferent to my theatrics.

She narrowed her eyes at me. “That’s not what I meant. I already know how strong you are. You didn’t have to break the furniture.”

I looked back at her in frustration. “What did you mean then?” I replied in my lowest voice, wishing she would explain some rational aspect of her troubling demand. How could she understand and not understand simultaneously? She continued to stare me down. Her cheeks were so bright. I wanted to touch them.

“Obviously not that you aren’t physically able to hurt me, if you wanted to…more that, you don’t want to hurt me…so much so that I don’t think that you ever could.” She stated simply.

I stared at her exasperated. How could she possibly come to that conclusion? Did she truly trust my control so implicitly? There were too many things that could go wrong. Things that would scare her. I was momentarily torn between my desire to cure her naivety completely somehow, and my compulsion to preserve her innocence.

I sighed with impatience. “It might not work like that, Bella.” It wouldn’t work at all, actually.

“Might!” she snapped in frustration. “You have no more idea what you’re talking about than I do.”

“Exactly. Do you imagine I would ever take that kind of risk with you?” Incredulous, I bore my eyes into hers with intention, trying to see her mind working. The image of her broken body flashed forward with all of its gore and promise. She didn’t answer for a long moment as we watched each other think. I had the slightest opportunity to entertain the idea that I’d somehow convinced her, when Bella’s face began to change.

I saw every minute adjustment of her expression, but could do nothing to resist her. The ability to concentrate eluded me completely moment she finally switched her eyes. It was a formidable expression of genuine longing. My breath caught.

“Please,” She whispered desperately.“It’s all I want. Please.”

…”please”…

Emotion and lust surged in me as she held me defenseless, dazzled under her gaze. A thousand desires bombarded me at once as I watched her. It seemed as if every passionate thought I’d had for her invaded my mind at once. I could see them all so clearly. Visions of deep kisses and delicate explorations of her beautiful femininity tortured me. Rendered completely motionless, I simply could not break from the force of her relentless eyes. Now it was Bella playing the beautiful predator.

“Please?” She breathed softly again. Her scent whirled around me, confusing my already incapable mind. My breathing sped up as the flavor of her began to tickle the back of my tongue.

“It’s all I want. Please?”

Why was she doing this to me? It was all I could to search her eyes in question. Her pleas were painful. The sadness and the anguish of not being able to simply say ‘yes’ sent waves of despair through me. She sensed my indecision and closed her eyes in silent prayer. Released from her hold, I could think clearly for a few seconds. You cannot give in to her, I told myself. I could kill her. I nodded my head, solidifying that conviction.

And then, the thudding of her heart grew stronger and quicker. Bella flashed her eyes open once more and I lost the hold on every determined promise I’d just sworn. Her beautiful eyes were so deeply desperate.

“Please?” she begged painfully. “You don’t have to make me any guarantees. If it doesn’t work out right, well, then that’s that. Just let us try…only try. And I’ll give you what you want.”

Her words succeeded in breaking me from my chaotic emotions. What did she mean? Before I could ask - her violent heart grew more frantic. Words of emotion left her mouth in a flurry.

“I’ll marry you. I’ll let you pay for Dartmouth, and I won’t complain about the bribe to get me in. You can even buy me a fast car if that makes you happy! Just…please.”

Bella. My mind buzzed with the prospects of hopeful possibilities. I saw my wildest dreams manifest quite vividly: Alice’s vision of Bella and the wedding roses; Bella and I in New Hampshire bundled and warm in the snow; Bella in my Vanquish, safe and secure; Bella as mine, husband and wife.

I searched her eyes and wished sadly that I could hear her working mind. Her emotional gaze was so pleading and trusting. Her heart began to scramble in anticipation of my response. The sound of her life relentlessly filled my ears as I looked into her tortured gaze. Spurred on by her lovely eyes, a small, irrational part of my mind began to chip away at my resolve. I wanted her so very badly in every possible way. ‘I’ll marry you’…

Her voice echoed, swelling my silent heart again. So much hope surged through me as I replayed her words in small seconds of time. She was willing to give me everything. Why was she asking for this? The one thing I could not give her.

I pulled her close to me, explaining what I could in an emotional whisper. “This is unbearable. So many things I’ve wanted to give you – and this is what you decide to demand. Do you have any idea how painful it is, trying to refuse you when you plead with me this way?”

“Then don’t refuse…“ She begged in a breath that lit my nerves on fire.

I closed my eyes at her words. She was untying my resolve with mere implication. She was begging me to love her. I could see my passionate thoughts begin to assault my convictions. The sacred fantasies I’d only allowed myself to entertain in times of mourning for the love we could never share advanced on me all at once. All of my faculties became consumed so quickly with the need to make her mine in every way, as my wife and my mate.

Forever.

“Please.” She whispered against my skin, destroying the remainder of my shaky will with one insignificant syllable. The warmth of her breath ignited a flitter of sensations through my shirt. I could think of nothing else but the image of her in my arms, soft and warm.

“Bella…” I tried, failing miserably with the words I knew I needed to say.

Her heart jumped a little at the sound of her name, reminding me further of her fragile vulnerability. This only weakened my resolve. It was as if my passion for her became intertwined with deep, severe emotions I could not identify. In that moment, I cursed my nature with absolute despair. I would give anything to be human again, anything to simply love her as she deserved to be loved.

But, cursing would do no good. I would have to settle for the intimacy that was safe for her. Her life, her humanity was more important than any of my basest desires. I tried to convince myself of this as I began to kiss her neck with secret remorse. Her delightful heart began to sing with my touch, breaking my black heart once more into a thousand pieces.

I could never love her as she deserved to be loved. She deserved an explanation. I steadied myself before posing to explain, but words never left me.

In several quick movements, her delightful lips crashed into mine. The feeling of her skin, warm and pleasant encouraged my deepest passions for her. I wanted to show her that she was all I would ever want. She kissed me urgently and I responded. My hands moved of their own determination to her face as I rolled her away from me, holding her close. I lost control of every discipline I’d ever dominated with the feeling of her near me. The soft curves of her body molded into mine. I wanted nothing more than to touch the delicate lines of her frame.

I broke as her warm hands tangled into my hair. My over stimulated mind swam with simultaneous urges, needs, and illusions for intimacy as I kissed her deeper, more fervently that I’d ever allowed myself before. I saw myself carefully undressing her, kissing and tasting her soft, floral skin. I was certain that I could please her.

Bella’s fingers slipped from my hair to my shirt leaving a delightful trail of tingled warmth resounding through me. I knew that I should stop her, but I didn’t. Conflict raged. It was very wrong to want her this way, but I could only think of her consoling touch. I yearned for her comfort and her tender warmth. Above all else, I wanted her to show me that her desire for me was as pure as my own.

Consumed with tasting her skin, I was only broken back to a slight form of reality when Bella’s warm, delightful hands traversed the length of my torso sending soft, numbing warmth through my entire body. The pleasure was undeniably wonderful. I very nearly gasped at the sensation. The relentlessly desirous part of my mind imagined what she would feel like against me so closely. She tugged on my hair to pull my mouth to hers again and I kissed her intently, desperate to show her that I wanted nothing more than to love her in every way. I held her then, so close to me, wishing and hoping so desperately that I could just make her mine.

It was only when Bella began to pull her buttons loose on her blouse that I registered how far I’d allowed myself to go. The desperate, passionate part of my dreams would be realized very quickly if I didn’t intercede. The imagined image of her warm breasts against pressed against my cold skin reeled me in. That vision alone excited me nearly beyond my control.

I had to stop. And I had to stop her. I forced the image of her broken body to my mind. It kept me strong as I snatched her hands from her shirt and held them above her head. I had a very small portion of a second to brace myself for her disappointment before her human mind registered what I’d done. I buried my face against her cheek, shielding myself and my battered will from the force of her gaze.

“Bella…would you please stop trying to take your clothes off?” I whispered steadily.

“Do you want to do that part?” It was a breathlessly hopeful question.

I clenched my eyes tightly, steeling my resolve. The image of her deathly pallor hung violently behind my closed eyes. “Not tonight.” I promised patiently.

Her shoulders slackened. “Edward, don’t – ” She tried. Please do not plead with me again, Bella.

“I’m not saying no, I am just saying not tonight…” I added, hoping she would not resume her torturous temptations.

She didn’t respond at first, but the exhale of her held breath made me feel comforted. I could only pray she was giving up. The ticking moments of silence were torturous, but I utilized my patience. She was thinking. Please Bella, I begged silently. The heat of her face intensified in frustration. She shifted beneath me slightly, but I was unmovable. It was imperative that I keep myself shielded from her eyes.

She exhaled once more before speaking. “Give me one good reason why tonight is not as good as any other night?”

Gratitude swarmed as I realized she was breaking her resolve. I could not help but smile lightly in relieved victory. But, immediately, I was at a loss as to where to start. I had so many reasons. I decided quickly to utilize the most logical explanations. Emotions and feelings were uncontrollable, logic was infallible.

“I wasn’t born yesterday,” I explained. “Out of the two of us, which do you think is more unwilling to give the other what they want? You just promised to marry me before you do any changing, but if I give in tonight, what guarantee do I have that you won’t go running off to Carlisle in the morning? I am – clearly – much less reluctant to give you what you want. Therefore … you first.”

The second and a half it took her to both register my request and plan her response, I let the grin of my hope light my face. I wasn’t foolish enough to look at her just yet, but I sensed my win.

She huffed at me. “I have to marry you first?”

I stared at her delectable ear as she spoke. It was so soft and tender…

She would concede. The delight of my reprieve cheered me as I began to kiss her gently, hoping to be as persuasive as possible. I mused that we were now fighting with equal ammunition; one beautiful predator against another.

“That’s the deal – take it or leave it. Compromise, remember?” I breathed against her neck, doing my best to not allow my carefully restrained merriment to catch her attention. I continued to kiss her audaciously.

Her heart sped up as I moved from her neck to her jaw line, placing soft, passionate kisses against her skin. I became quickly consumed with so many emotions as she thought in silence. I allowed my mind to fill with the remembrance of Alice’s vision: Bella and the roses. She was radiant. The cream of her skin glowed in contrast to her long dark hair…

Bella’s voice brought me back to the moment, but I felt a little less tortured now. She exhaled again, very loudly, still mulling over my demand. “I think that’s a really bad idea,” she whined.

Of course she would say that. “I’m not surprised that you feel that way. You have a one-track mind.” I popped my head up from her jaw line and smirked.

The delightful blush intensified on her face and I couldn’t help but grin at her once more before I moved back to kiss her cheeks with purpose.

“How did this happen?” she asked. “I thought I was holding my own tonight – for once – and now, all of a sudden – ”

“You’re engaged.” I finished, completely and absolutely unable to now resist grinning like a fool. The very annunciation of the word left my head spinning with delight.

“Ew! Please don’t say that out loud.” She cried, closing her eyes in revulsion.

I chortled at that. Her aversion to marriage would not dispel my cheer. In some part of her mind, she’d already made the decision to marry me. Alice’s vision assured me of that. So, I teased her. Quickly, I rose up away from kissing her cheek and straightened my expression seriously.

“Are you going back on your word?” I asked in shock.

It was my turn to unleash the full force of my eyes this time. She looked at me widely for a moment and I couldn’t help but flash my anxious grin at her flagrantly. She rolled her eyes, but didn’t answer otherwise.

“Are you?” I challenged, blatantly cornering her into admitting she would marry me.

Her face slipped into resignation. “Ugh!” She groaned. “No. I’m not. Are you happy now?”

The smile was unstoppable. It consumed my face. “Exceptionally.” I admitted through a flash of teeth.

She groaned again, but her expression faltered a little when she covered her face with her hands. She didn’t look frightened. She looked mildly entertained.

“Aren’t you happy at all?” I asked with simpering cheer.

“A little bit.” She said. For a split second, I was slightly moved by the honesty in her eyes. “But not about getting married.”

I expected her answer, but it still split some rare emotion in half. It struck me that in another time, the time of human youth, her reaction would be quite unorthodox. I couldn’t resist kissing her once more before entertaining her with my musing.

“Do you get the feeling that everything is backward?” I chortled against her skin. “Traditionally, shouldn’t you be arguing my side, and I yours?”

She didn’t answer quickly and my mood soared higher as I took my time kissing from her face to her jaw again. The incredible image of her walking carefully towards me in a wedding dress continued to fill my mind. How wonderful that I would have this warmth and her skin forever.

“There isn’t much that’s traditional about you and me.” She said with conviction.

“True.” I had to concede that in between kisses against her wrist.

“Look, Edward,” she whispered. “I said I would marry you, and I will. I promise. I swear. If you want, I’ll sign a contract in my own blood.”

“Not funny.” I murmured against her skin.

Her expression grew persuasive and her eyes tender. “What I’m saying is this – I’m not going to trick you or anything. You know me better than that. So there’s really no reason to wait. We’re completely alone – how often does that happen? – and you’ve provided this very large and comfortable bed …” She trailed off, realizing she was knocking on a closed door.

“Not tonight.” I said. I couldn’t be frustrated despite her persistence. She’d agreed to marry me and that was all I could think of.

“Don’t you trust me?” She frowned.

“Of course I do.”

She grabbed my face and pulled me from her wrist. I met the sensational emotion in her eyes with resolve this time. Although, I wasn’t foolish enough to linger for too long.

“Then what’s the problem? It’s not like you didn’t know you were going to win in the end. You always win.” She muttered.

“Just hedging my bets.” I assured her with a small smirk.

Although, I knew it was not a game. The small realization that somehow, perhaps even this year, I could make her my wife began to swirl around, soaring my mood to impossible heights with each consideration. I flew through a dozen possibilities for how we could arrange the affair privately, knowing it would be what she wanted.

“There’s something else,” she said, staring at my face. She was right. Would it scare her if I began reciting for her the possibilities I’d just imagined?

“Are you planning to go back on your word?” she asked suspiciously.

“No. I swear to you, we will try.” I told her in absolute seriousness. “After you marry me.”

She shook her head and giggled. Her mood was cheering a little, too. Her smile made me happier. The last thing I wanted was for our evening to be tainted by any frustrations. She sighed and I began to kiss her delightful skin once more. I could clearly feel my earlier relief begin to morph into slight joy. Carefully, I brushed my nose against her rounded collarbone dizzily absorbing her scent. I listened to every infinitesimal sound she produced as she inhaled to speak.

“You make me feel like a villain in a melodrama – twirling my mustache while I try to steal some poor girl’s virtue.” She laughed.

My lips stopped for a moment as I considered her characterization. Despite her humor, the words she’d spoken were contradictory. Bella was not the villain; Bella was the innocent.

I became momentarily lost in her amused expression as the image of making love to her for the first time filled my thoughts. It was a consolation that I would be able to give her the one part of me that was unsullied by my unnatural existence. I focused on resuming my kissing of her skin in an effort to distract myself from another thought: my inexperience would surely make me more dangerous to her.

My taunted image had just returned when I’d realized Bella was observing. “That’s it, isn’t it?” she murmured in awe. “You’re trying to protect your virtue!”

I reeled slightly from her assessment and with a slight adjustment I concealed my face against her shoulder. A combination of strange apprehensions seized me. I wasn’t sure why I felt so conflicted, but it was. My reasons, which were both personal and – moral – would be awkward to explain her. But, I knew that I should. They would all concern her if she succeeded in obtaining immortality. Bella giggled at my expense.

“No, silly girl,” I muttered between kisses on her shoulder. “I’m trying to protect yours. And you’re making it shockingly difficult.”

I listened to the finite tunes of her life as she exhaled and inhaled once more. “Of all the ridiculous-“ she began.

I cut her off, fairly certain of where she was going with her comment. “Let me ask you something.” I started. “We’ve had this discussion before, but humor me.” I inclined my head to her earnestly and she answered in kind.

“How many people in this room have a soul? A shot at heaven or whatever there is after this life?” I asked her seriously.

Her heart had begun speeding as soon as I’d said ‘soul’. I knew she would be determined. “Two.” She growled.

I nodded appreciatively. “All right. Maybe that’s true. Now, there’s a world full of dissention about this, but the vast majority seem to think that there are some rules that have to be followed.”

She rolled her eyes and narrowed them. “Vampire rules aren’t enough for you? You want to worry about the human ones too?”

“It couldn’t hurt,” I admitted with a shrug. “Just in case.”

She glared at me in frustration, but I continued nonetheless. “Now, of course, it might be too late for me, even if you are right about my soul.”

“No, it isn’t.” She hissed, pointing her small delicate finger at me.

“’Thou shall not kill’ is commonly accepted by major belief systems,” I argued, locking my eyes in to hers. “And…I’ve killed a lot of people, Bella.”

Her eyes didn’t flinch from my gruesome admission, but that didn’t surprise me.

“Only the bad ones.” She said softly. A part of my love for her swelled at her sweet sincerity, but I stayed focused.

“Maybe that counts and maybe that doesn’t. But you haven’t killed anyone-“

“That you know,” she interrupted in a mumble.

I almost frowned at her, but I pressed on with a bit of a smirk. “And I’m going to do my best to keep you out of temptation’s way.”

“Okay. But we weren’t fighting over committing murder.”

“The same principle applies – the only difference is that this is the one area in which I’m just as spotless as you are. Can’t I leave one rule unbroken?”

I looked at her with emotion. I wouldn’t explain to her that my unbroken sin was my last hold on the belief that somehow I’d experience redemption. Not that it mattered anymore. The prospect of spending an eternity with her was enough for me.

“One?” She asked. She was surprised. I chuckled a little at her expression.

“You know that I’ve stolen, I’ve lied, and I’ve coveted. My virtue is all I have left.” I admitted.

“I lie all the time.” She said seriously.

My grin grew a little wider. She was impressed by her tally of sin. “Yes, but you are such a bad liar that it doesn’t really count. Nobody believes you.”

She gaped at me and I laughed. “I really hope you’re wrong about that. Because, otherwise, Charlie is about to burst through the door with a loaded gun.”

The images from Charlie’s own mind flashed. He’d thought of a dozen scenarios for confrontations with me. I chuckled at the endearing reminder of his fatherly chivalry. “Charlie is happier when he pretends to swallow your stories. He’d rather lie to himself than look too closely.”

She had to agree with that. The truth was obvious.

“But what did you ever covet? You have everything.” She wondered quietly.

That was entirely wrong. “I coveted you.” I murmured. “I had no right to want you – but I reached out and took you anyway. And now look what’s become of you! Trying to seduce a vampire!” I joked. I shook my head at her incredulously and she rolled her eyes again.

“You can’t covet what’s already yours,” she informed me. “Besides, I thought it was my virtue you were worried about.”

“It is. If it’s too late for me…Well, I’ll be damned – no pun intended – if I’ll them keep you out, too.”

“You can’t make me go somewhere you won’t be,” she said. “That’s my definition of hell. Anyway, I have an easy solution to this: let’s never die, all right?”

I began to frown at her clever solution, until I watched her face brighten. That previous delightful swelling emotion appeared again as soon as I saw her smile again.

“Sounds simple enough. Why didn’t I think of that?” I wondered aloud. She narrowed her eyes as an adorable line formed on her mouth. She huffed a little and my teeth broke free.

“So that’s it. You won’t sleep with me until we’re married.” She asked formally.

“Technically, I can’t ever sleep with you.” I said thoughtfully. Her mind was still working on the subject at hand, but I couldn’t quite focus. Those imagined visions of Bella and me together on our wedding day were inundating me with wonderful feelings.

She rolled her eyes at me again. “Very mature, Edward.”

“But, other than that detail, yes, you’ve got it right.” I said.

Bella stared at me intently for a moment and I stared back. Her right eye creased at little as she watched me. I smirked at her curiously.

“I think you have an ulterior motive,” she said certainly.

Oh! To see the workings of her mind. I had no choice but to indulge her. I gave her the most innocent expression I could manage. “Another one?”

“You know this will speed things up,” She charged.

I straightened my face as much as possible, knowing my high spirits would only make her angry. “There is only one thing I want to speed up, and the rest can wait forever…but for that, it’s true, your impatient hormones are my most powerful ally at this point.”

She huffed and threw hear head against the pillow, so I flashed another smile. I was now fairly certain that no matter what happened for the remainder of the evening, I would be able to brighten her mood. My cheer had become all consuming.

She shook her head in disgust. “I can’t believe I’m going along with this. When I think of Charlie…and Renee! Can you imagine what Angela will think? Or Jessica? Ugh. I can hear the gossip now.”

I frowned at her in wonder. Why in the world was she worried about them? If she got her way, she would never see them again. She turned to face me a few seconds after she’d uttered the words. She met my surprised expression with a frown of her own. She seemed lost in thought for a moment and once more, I longed to hear her mind.

Her thoughts would never reach me, but I knew her face well. My suspicions that she was concerned more about Renee than anyone else grew by the passing second. It wasn’t a very long time, but I waited for her to speak and I grew concerned when she didn’t. We’d never discussed this before. Would she be more worried about others opinions or the spotlight such an affair would bring? I’d always assumed she’d want something simple. The line in her brow creased and I grew even more worried. It was when the color hit her cheek and she shuddered that I tried to explain.

“It doesn’t have to be a big production,” I promised. “I don’t need any fanfare. You won’t have to tell anyone or make any changes. We’ll go to Vegas – you can wear old jeans and we’ll go to the chapel with the drive-through window. I just want it to be official – that you belong to me and no one else.”

“It couldn’t be more official than it already is,” She moaned. But, actually it could. I’d not really asked her the proper way and I’d not given her my mother’s ring. It would be official then…

“We’ll see about that,” I smiled complacently, thinking of how wonderful my mother’s ring would look on her delicate finger. “I suppose you don’t want your ring now?” My voice was high with hope and it unnerved her.

She swallowed and leaned into the bed as if I were threatening her.

“You suppose correctly.” She managed.

I laughed at her anxiety. To think the high point of my excitement for the evening was giving her my mother’s jewel. It would have been delightful to give her them both. Particularly since she’d already said yes to one gift…She surely couldn’t say ‘no’ to another. But, it would be best to wait.

“That’s fine. I’ll get it on your finger soon enough.” I said noncommittally.

“You talk like you already have one.”

I met her eyes with sincerity. “I do. Ready to force upon you at the first sign of weakness.”

Her heart sped up and I could only imagine the images she was contriving. She’d seen both Alice and Rosalie’s rings, I was sure she probably thought I would do something similar. She had no idea the ring was a tasteful antique. I wondered if she would like it. It was beautiful. Immediately, I imagined the scene from Alice’s mind of Bella’s earlier acceptance. This time it was my mother’s ring she was happily receiving.

She saw me thinking and narrowed her eyes. “You’re unbelievable,” she accused.

“Do you want to see it?” I blurted hopefully, anxious for her approval.

“No!” she shouted, her mouth opened in horror. I reeled back from her and I tried not to show my disappointment. The image dissolved in my mind quickly.

“Unless…you really want to show it to me.” She encouraged. I looked up at her indifferently.

“That’s all right,” I shrugged. “It can wait.”

She started to frown and I wondered why. Did she feel guilty? I felt childish, but I didn’t want her to accept it out of obligation.

“Show me the damn ring, Edward.” She grumbled.

Obligation, again. “No,” I stated simply.

And then before my eyes, her little face fell from its frown into that expression I’d seen earlier. I braced myself this time, leaning slightly back from her. But, my feeble attempts at resistance were useless. Her big brown eyes slipped into a pleading expression.

“Please?” she begged softly.

I closed my eyes and leaned into her hand as she stroked my face with her warm fingers. The sensation was so wonderful, “Please can I see it?” I heard her ask.

I snapped my eyes open to hers and immediately knew she’d done used that tone on purpose. I supposed it was fair; I’d dazzled her intentionally many times.

I sighed. “You are the most dangerous creature I’ve ever met.” I told her before I untangled from her and glided with veiled happiness to my nightstand. Bursting joy was threatening my composure as I opened the drawer with conscious deliberation. I wanted the moment to last.

Still, I snatched the box too quickly and flashed to her side. I held her close to me, reveling in the warmth of her back against my arm as I balanced the box on her knee. Every sense trained on her as she lightly grasped the little black box and posed to open it. That ticking beat of her heart began to accelerate through her entire being. The resounding thud moved through her body, sending warm sensations through the length of my own. I enjoyed the confirmation of her emotion immensely. I could only hope it was excitement she was feeling.

I wanted nothing more than for her to open it.

“Go ahead and look, then,” I encouraged her roughly, desperate and impatient to see her reaction. She was still stalling. Time stood still for me as I watched her small fingers fumble slightly.

“You didn’t spend a lot of money, did you?” she murmured. “Lie to me, if you did.”

“I didn’t spend anything. It’s just another hand-me-down. This is the ring my father gave to my mother.”

“Oh,” she said. I watched in anticipation as her little fingers danced along the edge of the opening. She was intentionally postponing the moment.

“I suppose it’s a little outdated. Old-fashioned, just like me. I can get you something more modern. Something from Tiffany’s?” I mused.

“I like old-fashioned things,” she mumbled as she finally opened the box. I closed my eyes briefly at the sound of her musical heart as it sputtered with some emotion I’d probably never understand. I snapped my eyes to the box and saw with absolute glee the vision of her appreciating the fine ring. Her face was growing hot again.

“It’s so pretty,” she whispered, as she fingered the stones.

“Do you like it?” I asked hopefully.

“It’s beautiful. What’s not to like?”

I chuckled at her. “See if it fits.”I said, desperate for my memory. But, Bella’s hand snapped into a fist. I looked at her in disapproval. I knew that she didn’t feel forced, but her reaction encouraged a pang of doubt.

“I’m not going to solder it to your finger.” I said gently. “Just try it on so I can see if it needs to be sized. Then you can take it right off.”

“Fine,” she grumbled.

I slipped the ring onto her finger and felt an unprecedented energy course through me at the sight of my accomplished goal. I wanted to grasp her and hold her tight. I wanted to kiss her until she couldn’t breath. I exhaled quietly and composed myself. Bella was nervous; she would need me to maintain some element of propriety. So, I straightened my face with great care and concentrated on keeping the mood light.

“A perfect fit. That’s nice – saves me a trip to the jeweler’s.” I said casually.

But, my voice broke a little with emotion at the last and it did not escape her attention.

She was on to me. “You like that, don’t you?” she asked, wiggling her finger as she narrowed her eyes in speculatively. I almost broke then, but I held fast.

I shrugged at her. “Sure. It looks very nice on you.” I conceded simply. The smile was contained, but just barely. The corners of my mouth were twitching and I felt it struggling to break free. My breathing picked up a little as I fought it, but…it was no use. She intensified her gaze on mine and for a brief second the new emotion in her eyes combined with my own desire to show her how unfathomably happy she made me feel destroyed my resolve.

I crumbled completely and the smile, that damned ridiculous smile, conquered my careful veneer. I almost breathed a sigh of relief as I let it dominate my controlled expression. I could see my joy in her eyes, which widened into their own smiling curiosity. Bella’s breath caught as she assessed my happiness and I seized my opportunity. Swiftly, I knocked her breathless as I crashed my overexcited lips into hers.

I had to break away before I became too overwhelmed by the moment. I settled for taking in her scent as I moved to whisper into her ear. “Yes, I like it. You have no idea.” I gushed, letting my overwhelming happiness slip out once again. It felt good to release that restrained emotion and I could barely catch my breath.

She giggled at me. “I believe you.”

I tightened my hold on her, as I nestled my face into her neck once more, taking in her scent and closing my eyes at the relief that passed through me. She’d loved the ring. She’d accepted it. And, for once, she’d allowed me to show her what she meant to me. I reeled a little at the remembered vision of my mother’s ring on her finger. It was perfect for her.

Only when I revisited the memory again quickly did I realize that something was missing. It had happened so suddenly. I’d not actually asked her to marry me properly. She knew my intention, but it wasn’t official…

“Do you mind if I do something?” I whispered into her ear. Her heart sped a little and I nestled my nose against her ear. My adoration for her was without precedent.

“Anything you want,” she replied breathlessly. Feeling lighter and yet, oddly enough, a little nervous, I slid away from her. I took a few steps back from her, but it didn’t feel right. I wanted to have her standing. I reached for her and she immediately understood.

“Anything but that…” she whined as her face grew red.

Speedily, the beat of her heart increased its tempo, and once again, I reveled in my ability to excite her. This was definitely one “human” experience we both would enjoy together. I carefully took her soft hands in mine and pulled her reluctantly so that she could stand. Her face turned so bright I could feel the temperature envelop the air around her. Only, this time I could sympathize with her anxious nerves because - I felt them too. Nevertheless, I straightened my face into polite seriousness as I grasped her delicate shoulders.

“Now, I want to do this right. Please, please, keep in mind that you’ve already agreed to this, and don’t ruin it for me.”

She said nothing, but I watched her carefully as I transitioned into the timeless position; I slid down to one knee.

“Oh no,” she gasped as she took a small step back from me, covering her mouth in wide-eyed surprise.

“Be nice,” I warned her, hoping she would do her best to give me this one memory. She took a deep breath, once again, bracing herself for my antics.

“Isabella Swan?” I began, feeling my silent heart dance along the edge of bursting with happiness. “I promise to love you forever – every single day of forever. Will you marry me?”

Bella’s expression was strangely peaceful as she blinked, swallowed, and exhaled quietly. I watched several emotions cross her face before she said the one word I simply longed to hear, ‘Yes’.

My nerves exploded in glee. I felt a rush of energy and I longed to take her into my arms and spin her like a scene from a ridiculous movie. But, I refrained. Her provision for marriage was a requirement that would require an incredible amount of control. It would be best to begin practicing now. So, I carefully restrained my euphoric glee.

“Thank you…” I breathed in one exhale.

I rose quickly and took one step towards her. Her eyes were wide and almost emotional. I pulled her soft, warm hand towards my mouth, closing my eyes at the feel of her skin against my lips. I breathed in the scent of her wrist and kissed each of her fingers before I laid one final, exultant kiss on my mother’s ring. As I looked at her once more, I noticed something new in her expression. It took me a moment to place it, but I did. The look of a serious emotion painted her lovely face. And it was the face she wore in Alice’s vision as she peered into my eyes from a bundle of roses.

I smiled at her in delight and resisted the urge to crush her next to me in an all consuming embrace. Instead, I looked once more to the ring that now lay on her finger. The ring of my human mother. The ring that held every hope I clung to.

The ring which now belonged to Bella…just like my joy.