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Perspective

Summary:
Edward told Bella he had talked with his father and brothers regarding their wedding night. This is my version of that missing moment from between Eclipse and Breaking Dawn and includes what Edward and Bella do to prepare for their first night together as husband and wife.


Notes:


38. Chapter 38

Rating 5/5   Word Count 7094   Review this Chapter

Bella began to stir around nine o’clock. Her arms stretched above her head and she yawned before she turned to find me. My love smiled a sleepy smile and I returned it with her favorite crooked grin.

“Is Charlie here?” she asked.

“He decided to check in at work this morning. You have a note on the kitchen table. He’ll be back for lunch,” I told her.

She still hadn’t moved much from her original morning position. Her eyes roamed my face looking for something. I watched and waited, trying to read her thoughts from what I could see in her face.

My guessing had become more accurate over our time together, although it was not perfect. This time, however, I read concern and worry, and I was correct. Of course, she was not the focus of her current anxiety; she never was. Her unease, was for me, which she put voice to asking, “How are you this morning?”

We weren’t touching and I made to rectify that. Using my fingers to glide along her hairline starting at her temple and moving down behind her ear to the base of her neck. I could try to lie to her, I probably should, but Carlisle’s voice was still nagging me to be honest with her. “I’m better.” And then trying to redirect her attention, I asked, “Did you sleep well?”

“Yes,” she said and then sighed. “Why were you so upset last night?”

Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath filling my lungs with her unique flavor. I felt the mattress shift and her scent intensify as she moved closer. Without opening my eyes, I felt her hot breath caressing my face as she hovered above me. Her close proximity comforted me, and amazingly I felt the tension begin to ease.

When I opened my eyes once again, it was to find ones filled with concern staring back at me. “I’m fine, love. It was just…” I paused. “My time with Jasper didn’t go as planned and I…”

“Whatever happened, we’ll be fine, Edward.”

I closed my lids once again not able to look at her when I said my next words. “You don’t know that. I could kill you in a second.”

“Shh,” she said, placing a soft finger against my hard lips. “You are not backing out on me.”

I didn’t answer her. There was no point. Bella was determined. But I couldn’t help the newly reaffirmed doubts that had been creeping into my being anew. The feelings I’d experienced two nights ago in the clearing were still vivid in my mind. I’d lost all sense of myself in the feelings Jasper had been sending to me. Never before had I let myself feel like that. Whenever I’d begin to sense those emotions from my family members, I’d leave; go for a run or a drive, anything but stay in the house with them.

Now, here I was lying on a bed with the woman whom I was willing going to try and experience those things with in just three short days. And the horrible part was, I wanted it. I wanted to feel all those things with her, to lose myself in the feelings I’d been experiencing with my brother’s help.

But I couldn’t push the fear completely away. I could not lose her. No matter what did or did not happen, I could not lose her.

The feeling of Bella’s fingers running down the side of my face brought me back to reality and the woman in front of me. I opened my eyes to find her expression had not eased in the slightest. She was clearly worried about me, and I still had not responded to her very adamant ‘you are not backing out on me’ statement. Bringing my arms up to wrap around her, I pulled her closer and placed a chaste kiss on her pouty lips.

Her eyes were still watching me when I once again put distance between our mouths. I slid my right hand up her back to play with the ends of her hair. “I’m not ‘backing out’, love. I promised we would try, and we will.”

“Then what’s wrong? What happened with Jasper?”

I sighed and closed my eyes briefly before answering her. “I just…I lost control of my strength.”

She watched me for a minute and then leaned her head to rest on my shoulder. “I’m sorry,” she said. Why in the world would she be sorry? And then as if to answer my question, she added, “I wish this was easier for you, but it will be worth it, Edward, you’ll see.”

I didn’t want to argue with her, not on our last morning of semi normalcy. So instead of answering I tightened my hold on her, and just lay there enjoying the feeling of having her in my arms.

It was Bella’s stomach that eventually made us move from our position over an hour later. We hadn’t talked much in that time, but instead were just content to be together.

When she went down to get something to eat, I ran home to get my car. It would not look good for Charlie to come home at lunch and find me here with no vehicle. He was just beginning to warm up to the idea of me becoming his son-in-law; I didn’t need to add any further obstacles.

My trip home included a quick change of clothes, and then I headed back to Bella’s. When I arrived, she was just putting her cereal bowl in the sink. She turned to me and wrapped her arms around my waist. I placed a gentle kiss on her forehead as I held her close.

We stood there for several minutes just holding each other. This feeling never changed. Even after the shortest times away from one another, it seemed like forever. It was like we had to reassure ourselves, make that reconnection to the part that had been missing in those moments or hours when distance had come between us.

I knew there would be times, even after she was like me, that we’d be apart. There was a hope that maybe the separation wouldn’t be as bad since then I would have the knowledge of her safety, but even now I knew that was only wishful thinking. She was my mate, and I would never be whole without her by my side.

It was almost eleven by the time we made our way into Bella’s living room to watch television. Charlie would be home soon, and after that our day would go quickly. Angela’s father was due to arrive at two, and then we would need to head to Port Angeles in order to pick up Renee and Phil from the airport. I was hoping to have enough time between meeting with the minister and picking up my love’s mother and step-father to take her out to dinner, but that would all depend on timing. As I’d never been through something like this before, I had no idea what to expect.

Charlie showed up right on time just before noon and Bella fixed him a sandwich. He brought his food into the living room and sat with us while he ate. I had to give him credit he really was trying.

Bella’s father watched us as we sat beside one another on the couch. Our fingers were laced together, and she was leaning her head on my shoulder. I knew by the way she had herself angled against me that she would have preferred to be sitting in my lap, but Bella wouldn’t push things that far. Whether that was due to my feelings on openly showing affection in front of her father or because of the man in question himself I had no idea. Either way, she remained where she was plastered to my side.

Eventually, he asked what our plans were for the day and Bella told him about meeting with Reverend Webber. Charlie seemed to like that idea a lot. Although he voiced his approval out loud, his internal musings were much more enthusiastic. He didn’t want Bella to make the same mistake he had. It wasn’t that he regretted marrying Renee, but more that he wanted to spare his daughter the emptiness his divorced had caused him.

Bella’s father was not overly optimistic that the minister could deter us from our decision, more that he was hoping he’d at least have us considering all our options. He just didn’t want to see his little girl get hurt.

I knew I needed to have a talk with Bella’s father. It wasn’t something I was looking forward to, and I’d honestly hoped after her discussion with him the other night that it might not have been necessary. I had been mistaken, however. Charlie needed reassurances. He needed to know that I would take care of her. Forever.

After Charlie finished his lunch, he remained in the living room while I followed Bella into the kitchen. She protested when I insisted that she allow me to help her clean up, but I kept firm. We worked together to make sure everything was in its place and ready for our guest to arrive.

By the time Reverend Webber knocked on the door all was ready. We had decided that since her father was home, it would be best to talk out on the back porch.

Bella and I settled ourselves beside one another on two lounge chairs, while Reverend Webber took the empty seat directly across from us. His mind was fairly calm as he situated himself and the few papers he’d brought with him.

I had always liked Angela due to her genuine kindness. She didn’t put on a face for the world to see while harboring ill thoughts of her neighbors. Her father was no different. His mind held curiosity and a little concern, but there was no condemnation or judgment lurking.

When he seemed to be just about ready to start, I reached my hand out to Bella’s. Her fingers weaved there way through mine. I gave a reassuring squeeze and turned my attention to Reverend Webber.

“So Edward. Bella. Are you ready to get started?”

I nodded, and Bella answered with a small, “Sure.”

“Great,” he said. “This will be mainly pain free I assure you, but I like to get to know the couples I’m to marry.”

He shifted in his seat, before sitting back. “Edward,” he said, looking directly at me. “I know your father fairly well. He’s a good man and an excellent doctor. I can’t say that I know very much about you. So why don’t we start there. Tell me a little about yourself.”

I saw Bella shift uncomfortably out of the corner of my eye. This was the part she’d been dreading, the lying. I couldn’t say I liked it anymore than she did, but it was something I was used to.

“I’m adopted. After my parents died, I came to live with Carlisle and Esme. I was young when they took me in, so they are really the only parents I’ve ever known. We moved to Forks from Alaska four years ago,” I paused allowing him to gather his thoughts and lead any farther discussion of the information I’d given him.

Instead he surprised me and asked a completely different question. “How about your hobbies? What do you like to do for fun?”

Before I could answer Bella spoke up and said, “He plays the piano.”

“Really?” he said, his surprise genuine. Not many people in Forks knew I played. It just wasn’t a subject that came up in normal teenage conversation. “And what type of music do you like to play?”

What amazed me was that so much like Angela, her father’s question was exactly what it seemed. “I play classical mostly, but what I play usually depends on my mood.”

Bella’s hand squeezed mine. When I glanced over at her, I could tell she was more relaxed than she’d been when the questioning had started. My playing the piano wasn’t something that had to be hidden from the human world, it was not something about which we needed to lie.

Reverend Webber was a little surprised at my answer, but also impressed. “No wonder that isn’t common knowledge,” he laughed. “I can’t imagine classical music is discussed much in a high school cafeteria.

We both laughed right along with him. “No, not exactly.”

As his mirth subsided, he turned to Bella. “Angela tells me you like to read. Anything in particular?”

Bella took her bottom lip into her mouth for just a second before answering with a smile on her face. “I also like the classics. My favorite is Withering Heights.”

“Hm,” he said. In his mind he was thinking we both appeared to be old souls.

But instead of continuing on with that line of questioning, he veered off onto a new path without any notice. “Tell me how the two of you met? I mean I know it was at Forks High, but how exactly?”

I looked over at Bella and she looked up at me. Our eyes locked in knowledge and remembrance of that fateful day.

Several minutes past before I answered, not taking my eyes from hers. “We met in biology on her first day. The seat beside me was the only open one.” And then lowering my voice I continued, “As soon as she crossed my path, I knew I would not be able to resist her.” Bella blushed.

We sat in a world of memories all our own for several minutes before the minister’s voice brought us back. “And was it the same for you, Bella?”

She looked over at him briefly before turning back to me. “I knew there was something about him, something that made me want to know him.”

Again there was a long stretch of silence before he said, “Usually I like to ask a couple regarding their feelings for one another, but I somehow don’t think that’s necessary.”

Bella blushed again before ducking her head. I chuckled and squeezed her hand. Reverend Webber was viewing our love first hand. We were careful around Charlie because of his feelings. This man needed to see our love and devotion so we freely shared it.

Clearing his throat, Reverend Webber got our attention once again and said, “I’m sure what I’m going to say next will not come as a shock to either of you.” He was correct. In his thoughts I heard the question before he asked it. “You both are very young. Is there a reason why you are choosing now to get married?”

Of course we could not share the real reason, which involved Bella’s obsession with getting older. Instead, I told him the same thing I’d told Charlie when we’d announced our impending marriage. “We are both going away to Dartmouth this fall, and we would like to do that the right way.”

I was hoping that would be the end of it, but by his thoughts I could tell he was not going to let it go so easily. “So there’s nothing other than college that is causing you to marry now rather than in a few years?”

Bella moaned, which caused both of us to switch our attention to her. I, of course, knew the cause of her reaction. It was one I’d felt every time I’d hear the thoughts or whispers around us whenever we were seen out in Forks together. Only years of masking my thoughts and emotions kept me from outwardly expressing my frustration again and again. My love didn’t have all those years of experience in hiding behind a mask, and right at this moment her frustration showed plain on her face.

“I’m sorry if this makes you uncomfortable, Bella,” Reverend Webber said, and I could tell he was sincere. “but I do have to ask.”

She let out a heavy sigh. “No. I’m not pregnant.”

“Bella, I didn’t mean…”

“It’s fine. It’s not like everyone in town isn’t thinking it anyway,” she stated with a bit of heat.

I hated seeing her upset. Pulling her into my arms, I kissed the top of her hair before tucking her head into the crock of my shoulder.

Now it was Reverend Webber who sighed. “I do apologize. To both of you. I know some of this subject matter is sensitive, but as your minister there are certain things I feel I must ask any couple who is planning to marry. Especially one as young as yourselves.”

“It’s okay,” Bella whispered, and my arms held her just a little tighter. “I didn’t mean to snap at you. I know you’re just doing your job.”

He cleared his throat. “Yes, well… Along those lines, I’m afraid I have one more question to ask that you may not want to talk about.”

Immediately I knew what he was going to say and cringed. But before he could voice his question, Bella spoke up. “No,” she said. “We’ve not had sex. We’re waiting until after the wedding. Yes, we’ve talked about it. And yes, we know what we both expect from one another,” she paused. “Anything else you wanted to know?” Both of us looked at her in shock. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought she was the mind reader.

Her words had not been said with venom or anger, but more frustrated resolve. She wanted to get it out of the way so that we could move on instead of dancing around the issue. And once I got over my initial reaction, I couldn’t help but chuckle. Oh how I loved her.

It took Reverend Webber a few more minutes to get his thoughts back together after Bella’s very blunt announcement, but eventually he did. “It’s very mature of you both to have discussed your future marital relations, and I apologize if this comes out wrong but from what I know of both your families you are not overly religious. Not that I’m complaining, not in the least, I think it is wonderful that you’ve both decided to wait, but may I ask why?”

I jumped in this time before she had a chance to answer. “I am rather old fashioned I’m afraid. I wanted Bella as my wife before we crossed those lines.”

Again, I was not lying. Every word of it was the truth although had I not been a vampire, I’m not sure we would have been waiting for a wedding. Bella was just too tempting.

Reverend Webber seemed to consider this. His mind was trying to wrap itself around what he saw as our obvious sincerity and balance that with what he knew of teenagers.

While he was lost in thought, I turned my attention to the woman wrapped in my arms. Leaning in, I placed a kiss just below her ear and ask, “Are you alright, love?”

She nodded before looking up at me and smiling. Returning her smile, I placed one last kiss on her nose before turning back to the minister.

He seemed to be in a better place now that he was fairly certain we were being honest with him. Turning back to his notes, he asked, “How about future goals? I know you both said you’ll be going to college this fall, what about children?”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Bella’s brow crinkle slightly. She knew we would have to lie here. “We’ve talked about children, but have no immediate plans.” It was a vague answer, but it seemed to satisfy him.

“How about roles in the marriage? Who will be responsible for taking care of bills, shopping for groceries, cleaning the house, etc.?”

Neither one of us answered right away, I was trying not to lie any more than I must, to stay close to the truth. Then I heard Bella’s voice at my side saying, “I’m used to taking care of the house, but Edward helps me sometimes. We’ve shopped for groceries together before, so I doubt that will change. As for taking care of the bills, I have no problem with Edward taking care of that stuff.”

“Do you both have a financial plan for once you leave home?”

It was my turn to speak. “I have a fairly stable financial portfolio for my age.”

Reverend Webber waited to see if I’d say more, but I didn’t. He was curious, as was everyone else in the town of Forks in regards to the Cullen money. Everyone knew we were wealthy given our home and the vehicles we drive, but other than that we did not flaunt our wealth.

I didn’t elaborate though, so eventually he moved on. He asked questions on the ceremony, and gave us a few options on vows. Bella and I only had one request. We wanted the words ‘until death do you part’ to be changed to ‘as long as you both shall live’.

It was a little after four by the time Reverend Webber left promising to see us tomorrow night at the rehearsal. We were due to pick Renee and Phil up at six thirty, so if we were to stop for dinner we needed to leave soon. Luckily, Bella seemed more than willing to get out of the house. And after saying a brief goodbye to Charlie, we were out the door in less than twenty minutes.

She was quiet until we made it out of town. Then she turned to me and said, “I didn’t think it was going to be that bad.”

I glanced over at her and smiled. Her face was flush with her embarrassment. “It was fine. Not as bad as I was expecting actually.”

“You were thinking it was going to be worse?!” she said clearly outraged.

I couldn’t help but chuckle. “It wasn’t that bad, Bella. He could have asked a lot more questions where we would have to lie. As it was, we really only had to color the truth a bit.”

“I suppose,” Bella huffed. She was so cute when she was agitated.

We rode in silence for a while. Time was a factor, as I wanted her to have plenty of time to eat so I didn’t bother to moderate my speed.

About ten minutes outside of Port Angeles, Bella asked, “How did you lose control last night?”

If I had any color in my face, it would have left me. This day was not turning out how I’d planned and it was nowhere near over.

When I didn’t answer right away Bella tried another angle and asked, “What were you thinking about? I mean you said you lost control, and you said you think about us when you’re practicing with Jasper so…”

“Bella, I don’t think…” My hand came up to pinch the bridge of my nose. Why was this so hard for me?

Then I felt her hand reach up and removed my fingers from my face. “Please tell me,” she pleaded. “I want to help, and I can’t if I don’t know what’s going on.”

She still held my hand in hers as I glanced over at her. I saw nothing but complete openness in her eyes. Bella really wanted to know. And I knew that I should tell her. It was just that I was embarrassed. Not only because of my loss of control, but also with what had almost happened and what I’d been thinking about when it did.

“Please,” she begged me again.

I sighed and wrapped my fingers around hers for support. She was my lifeline, my anchor. “I wanted to know what it would feel like to be with you,” I said and then paused waiting for her to understand my meaning.

And as the silence filled the air, finally she did. “Oh,” she breathed.

She said nothing else as we drove into Port Angeles and I found a place to park. It took her until we were right outside of the restaurant to recognize where we were. When she did, Bella looked up at me and smiled before tugging on my arm and pulling me inside the restaurant where we had our first unofficial date.

Very few things had changed since the first time I was here with Bella. The hostess was different and some of the servers were new, but the décor was exactly the same.

Just as I had the last time we’d been here, I asked for something private. We were led to the back corner booths just as before, and I had to smile as we were sat in the same seats. The hostess handed us our menus and left. Bella set down hers not even looking at it and slid over to sit by my side.

The last time we were here, we were only beginning to discover one another. I’d been scared of her reaction to my cold touch, and she in turn had been determined to touch me. Here had been the first time she’d knowing come face to face with a vampire.

Her hand linked with mine on top of the table as our waitress came to take our drink order, but Bella told her she was ready. I wasn’t surprised when she once again ordered the mushroom ravioli. As soon as she said it, we both broke out into huge smiles drawing attention from the third party.

Then realizing we were not going to share our inside joke, she excused herself to put Bella’s order in. Minutes later, she came back to set our drinks on the table and then quickly left once again.

Bella took a long drink of her coke and then turned to me. “So you were thinking about us having sex and you lost control?”

My eyes closed in both desperation and resignation. She was not going to drop this. And I knew Bella. She would wait for as long as it took for me to answer her.

So opening my eyes again, I looked at her. “Yes.” It was a simple, direct answer, but clearly not the complete one she was wanting. “I don’t know what you want me to say, love. You know what Jasper can do.”

Biting her lower lip, she watched me as if considering her next words. “So you’re worried that you lost control with Jasper?”

“Yes,” I sighed.

“Don’t be.”

“How can you say that?” I asked mildly affronted. It was not unusual for Bella to put everyone else’s welfare above her own, but she knew what it would do to me should something happen to her.

“Easy,” she said taking another sip of her coke. “I know you, and I know how you are with me.” Then she took my face in her hands, “You would never hurt me, Edward. Even at the beginning when it was hard for you to be in the same room with me you managed. You more than managed. I never thought this would be possible for us, but now I know it is. I know we can do this.”

I wanted to believe her. In order to do this, I needed to believe her. My hands came up to take her wrists in mine pulling them down from my face. “Okay,” I whispered as the waitress brought Bella’s food. My love looked skeptically at me as she began to eat her food.

After a few bites, “Okay? You’re going to stop worrying and just let things happen?”

I gave a short, sarcastic laugh. “No. Not exactly.” Her face turned down into a frown. With my right hand, I brought my thumb up to smooth the creases from her brow. “I can not promise not to worry, Bella. But I will try and just let things happen. As I told you before, I promised we would try and I meant it.”

She seemed to consider my response, weighing it in her mind. Eventually, her face relaxed and she went back to eating.

It was six by the time we left the restaurant and headed back to my car. As I maneuvered us back onto the road, Bella asked, “So are you ready for Renee?”

I smiled, “I can handle your mother, Bella. I’ve met her before remember.”

“Yes,” she said. “But now you are days away from becoming family. Nothing is off limits now so be prepared.”

Laughing I headed out of town toward the airport.

Renee and Phil’s plane was a little late, but it was still before seven when we saw them come through the security gates. As soon as Renee laid eyes on her daughter, her face lit up and she ran to close the distance. Bella released her hold on me to hug her mom.

“Oh Bella, baby,” she said as she hugged her daughter swaying from side to side. Then pulling back enough to see her, she brought her hands up to cup Bella’s face pushing her hair back. “I can’t believe my baby’s getting married!”

Bella flushed. “Hi, mom.” Renee was totally oblivious to Bella’s embarrassment. The blush covering Bella’s cheeks didn’t even register in her mind.

Wanting to direct some of the unwanted attention, I took the opportunity to step forward. “It’s good to see you again Renee. Phil,” I said nodding to the man who was standing off to the side and behind his wife smiling.

“Edward!” Renee squealed moments before moving to embrace me.

I saw her coming and shifted my weight so it would appear I had a little give to my body. I didn’t want her to hurt herself. In passing, she registered my cold and then dismissed it.

Bella watched us until Phil came over and gave her a hug of his own. “How have you been, Bella?” he asked.

“Good,” she answered as she removed herself from his embrace.

He was glad to see her, but not really for himself, more for Renee. His wife had missed her daughter in their time apart, and I began to feel that guilt creep inside at the knowledge that after this weekend the two would never meet like this again. Bella may one day be able to see Renee, but her mother would never again be able to see her.

As if sensing my thoughts, Bella chose that moment to look up at me. Our eyes met and I could see everything she couldn’t say. ‘Yes I will miss them, but I want you more.’ She’d said it time and time again. Every time I questioned if she really understood what she was saying, and seeing her here now with her mother I couldn’t help but question it again.

We continued this silent communication with our eyes until a gasp from Renee drew our attention back to her. She’d watched our wordless exchange, and although she hadn’t grasped the meaning behind it, she saw the love there between us. Renee was a romantic. I’d known it the first time I’d met her, but now with the wedding only two days away she was letting her imagination get the best of her.

Phil cleared his throat and mentioned their bags. Immediately Renee brought herself back to the present and hooked her arm inside Bella’s. Without another word to Phil or myself, Renee began pulling my love toward the baggage claim telling her every detail of their flight, leaving her husband and me to trail in their wake.

As we picked up the bags and made our way to the car Renee managed to keep her inquiries on safe topics such as how life was in Forks, my family, and Charlie. She was asking Bella about the diner as I put their luggage into the trunk of the Volvo.

After a slight debate over seating arrangements, Bella slid into the back seat beside her mother while Phil sat up front with me. It was a short drive to the hotel to drop off their bags, and Renee continued to keep the topics of conversation mundane.

All that changed as soon as we left the parking lot and began the drive toward Forks. The shift was sudden, and although I’d expected it, it still took a second to grasp the complete redirection of thought. Renee turned to Bella abruptly and started asking her if she was ‘prepared’ for the honeymoon. Her voice took on a whisper quality, although the volume had not decreased in the slightest.

It was very obvious by Renee’s intonation what she was really asking with her question, but my love played dumb and responded with a reference to Alice already having everything packed and ready to go.

“Oh that Alice!” Renee said excitedly, reminding me at that moment of the sister of whom she spoke, “She’s wonderful, Bella. I know I haven’t met her yet, but the things she’s told me,” she squealed. Renee seemed to be lost in her own mind for a minute and then she asked, “So where’s the honeymoon?”

Her question was directed at Bella, but my love remained silent. I’m sure she was hoping that maybe I’d give in and let our destination slip with her mother present, but that wasn’t going to happen.

Finally I heard Bella release a hard breath filled with frustration. Through her mother’s mind I could see her lean back hard against the seat glaring at me. “I don’t know,” she said flatly.

Renee looked from her daughter to me. “It’s a surprise,” I answered with a crooked smile.

“Ooooo!” Renee continued in obvious excitement. It was the complete opposite reaction Bella would have. She was much more like Charlie than Renee in personality. “That’s just so romantic. Don’t you think that’s romantic, Phil?”

“Depends on the destination, I suppose,” he said, turning back to wink at his wife.

She giggled like a teenager and turned her attention back to Bella. “So, if Alice is doing all the packing that means you’ve had some time on your hands. Did you make the appointment with that doctor I sent you?”

“Mom…” Bella moaned.

It took everything I had not to burst out laughing. Renee had sent her all the information for an OB/GYN in Port Angeles that was supposed to be very good. The doctor was also female, and for Renee that was a plus. I had no idea what Bella had told her mother in response to her generous outpouring of information, but I knew that above all else my love was embarrassed. Even two feet behind me I could feel the heat of her blush and smell the warming of her scent filling the car.

“Don’t ‘mom’ me Isabella Marie. You’re both still so young, and you’ve got college ahead of you for the next few years. The last thing you need right now is a baby in the mix.”

“Edward’s dad is a doctor, mom. I just talked to him.”

“But Bella, he’s a man. Men just don’t understand these things the same way women do.” She paused for a minute and then sighed. “I doubt if I called tomorrow morning she’d be able to see you on such short notice. Oh well.”

Then as if she’d not said her previous statement, she rounded on her daughter again. “So what did you decide?”

Bella’s eyes were wide from what I could see, and I wasn’t doing much better. My love knew her mother well, and did not need my mind reading to understand what Renee was asking. Her eyes flashed up briefly to Phil sitting in the seat beside me. Renee caught her eye movement. “Don’t worry about Phil, honey,” she said waiving her hand dismissively. “Trust me, he’s not a prude after all.”

“Mom, please,” Bella begged. “Can we NOT do this now?”

“Fine,” she said, with a huff of her own. “But don’t think I’m going to let this go. This is very important stuff you know.”

And then if her previous line of questioning hadn’t been enough, she turned her attention to me. “So Edward…Are you ready for the honeymoon?”

Renee was anything but subtle, and I knew Bella was probably bright pink right now. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Phil smiling. He knew his wife, and he excepted her and her very blunt ways. I, on the other hand, was not used to such direct questions regarding my sex life from anyone other than Emmett.

I could tell my brother to mind his own business. Answering Bella’s mother was a slightly more delicate matter. “I am looking forward to it, Renee.”

There was no use in trying too hard to come up with something neutral. Renee had a one-track mind that reminded me in many ways of Bella’s. Once she was focused on something, there was no chance of deterring her.

Luckily, I was spared from farther inquiry as we arrived at my house. Alice had arrange for an evening of ‘girl time’ as she called it, and Carlisle, Emmett, Jasper, Phil, Charlie, and me were going to the diner for dinner.

I quickly turned off the car and made my way to Bella’s door. As soon as it was open, she hurried out and wrapped her arms around my waist. “I’m sorry,” she whispered for only my ears.

Hugging her tightly, I kissed the top of her head letting myself linger in her scent. “Don’t apologize love. I can handle your mother.”

“I know,” she said, her words muffled against my chest. “I’m still sorry though.”

I wanted to say more, but Alice chose that moment to come bouncing out of the house. “Renee! Phil! It’s so good to finally meet you. I’m Alice.”

My sister didn’t really give Renee much time to adjust to her over exuberant personality before ushering them inside our home to introduce them to the rest of the family. I realized then, as I released Bella from my embrace, that there were extra guests in the house. Human guests.

Leaning down, I whispered in Bella’s ear. “Angela and Jessica are inside.”

She looked up at me and whispered back, “Why?”

My family’s thoughts were all still very guarded, but the human’s in the room were not hiding anything. What I could see through their minds made me stiffen, and Bella noticed.

“What?” she hissed.

“They’ve planned a bachelorette party of sorts for you.”

“Ugh,” Bella grumbled. “Can’t I go with you instead,” she asked clinging tighter to my arm.

“Alice would just drag you back, love.”

She sighed, resigned. “How bad is it?” I cringed. Angela’s mind was concentrating on greeting Bella’s mother at the moment, but through Jessica’s I could see some very suggestive decorations filling our dinning room and kitchen.

Bella felt my reactions and blushed. “They’re going to embarrass me aren’t they?”

I pulled her close again. “Two more nights, Bella,” I said, looking down at her with as much love as I had within me. Her breath hitched, and she swallowed. “Two more nights,” I repeated, bringing our lips together. “Then you are all mine.” My mouth brushed soft kisses up to her ear. “Let them have their fun, and I will make it up to you tonight.”

She gasped, gripping my shoulders tighter, as my tongue darted out to taste the skin right behind her ear. “Promise?”

I smiled, but before I could answer her Alice appeared. “Break it up you two. There’ll be time for that later,” she winked at both of us. “But right now, we have a party to get started.”

“Do I really have to, Alice?” Bella wined.

“Yes,” Alice said in her firm no nonsense voice. “You do.”

Alice tugged Bella from my arms and toward the house. Bye, Edward. You and the boys have fun.

As if on que, the men of my family, plus Phil filed out of the house. Emmett had a knowing grin on his face that worried me, while Jasper and Carlisle looked more sympathetic. It was decided that Carlisle would drive everyone else to the dinner while I went and picked up Charlie.

When I pulled up in front of Bella’s house, he was waiting for me. Apparently Alice had called to let him know I was on my way.

He got into the car without comment, those same resigned thoughts filling his mind. I knew this was the opportunity I’d been waiting for, so I cleared my throat to get his attention. “Charlie, I know you still have some concerns about Bella and I getting married.”

Bella’s father did not respond verbally, but I had his attention. “I just want you to know that what happened before, my leaving her, will never happen again. When we left, I thought it would be better for her if there wasn’t contact. She’s young,” I said, and then added, “We both are. And I thought that a clean break would be easier. That she would heal and move on without me.”

Charlie was listening to me intently. An image of Bella from our time apart flashed through his mind, and it took everything in me not to physically react to it. “It didn’t work though,” I said, almost whispering, letting him hear the emotion in my voice. He needed to know my sincerity. “For either of us.”

I let that sink in for a minute before continuing. “I almost died without her, Charlie.” He didn’t realize that this was not an exaggeration or figure of speech. “Before I met her, I never would have thought these feelings were possible, that my life could be linked to someone as mine is to hers.”

We pulled into the diner then, and before I turned off the Volvo I caught his gaze and held it. “I will take care of her for the rest of her life. I will love her with everything I am. I promise you.”

Charlie looked at me like he’d never seen me before, and truly he hadn’t. Not like this. I had never bared my feelings in this manner for anyone but Bella. He needed to know, however, just how deep my love and devotion to his daughter ran.

After several minutes, he nodded his assent. No words were spoken, but in his mind something had clicked, changed. As if a switch had been flipped somewhere in the recesses of his mind, I felt something from him I hadn’t before. Acceptance.