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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:


40. Chapter 40

Rating 5/5   Word Count 7743   Review this Chapter

We’d just finished dinner when Carlisle received a call from the hospital. I could hear Dr. Snow apologizing over and over again through the phone even after Carlisle assured him it was no trouble for him to come in tonight.

Carlisle wasn’t being entirely truthful. Although prepping for surgery to take out an appendix at this hour would not be an issue for him, it did mean that he’d be missing out on our hunting trip tonight.

When he hung up the phone his first glance was to me. Sorry. I nodded and gave him a small smile letting him know that it was fine.

My feelings about tonight were mixed. Hunting before Bella and I left for our honeymoon was a good idea. Even though I wasn’t that thirsty yet, it would mean I wouldn’t have to leave her on the island quite so soon if things went well. But it also meant that I would be spending fourteen hours alone with my brothers AND away from Bella.

Being away from my love for even an hour made me anxious and the longer it lasted the worse it got. The comfort I clung to was that at the end of those fourteen hours she would be my wife.

The smile returned to my face and Bella noticed. Her arm slipped around my waist and I felt it tighten. When I glanced down at her, her face held a mirroring smile.

We all stood in the foyer as Carlisle made his apologies and said his goodbyes.

My brother’s thoughts were on tonight and how much more freedom they would have with me since Carlisle would not be joining us. Alice was focused on the future and those involved. She was determined that all go well tomorrow and for that I was grateful. I wanted this to be a good memory for Bella even if she wasn’t looking forward to it as much as I was.

Once Carlisle was down the driveway and out of sight, Phil looked down at his watch and commented that they should be heading back. To my surprise, Charlie volunteered to drive Renee and Phil back to their hotel.

Renee walked over to where Bella and I were standing off to the side. She eyed Bella weirdly for a second before pulling her into a hug. “I love you, Bella,” she whispered.

Bella released her hold on me to embrace her mother. “I love you too, Mom.”

After Renee stepped to the side, Phil came up and gave Bella a quick hug as well before retaking his place beside Renee who was now thanking Esme for the wonderful dinner.

Charlie made his way over to us next. He was stoic as usual, both in thought and action. Nodding to us, he said, “I’ll see you at home, Bells.”

My love just smiled back at her father and replied, “Drive safe, Dad.” He just smirked at her and headed toward the door.

Bella put her hand in mine as we followed her family out the door.

The three of them got into Charlie’s cruiser as we watched from the porch. Renee turned to waive goodbye as they pulled away. She was reluctant to leave her little girl knowing that tomorrow their time would be brief. My love’s free hand lift slightly returning the sentiment and I squeezed her hand gently to offer what comfort I could.

It was only a little after nine when Bella whispered to me that she was ready to go home. Before either of us could move or I could say anything in response, however, Alice was bouncing toward us. “Eleven-thirty, Edward. There will be no seeing the bride after midnight and I’m not taking any chances.”

Bella looked up at me with questions in her eyes. “You’re not staying tonight?”

Alice made a dismissive sound and waived her hand in the air. “Of course he’s not. He has a bachelor party to attend. Tradition, Bella,” she said as if that answered all questions.

I saw Bella’s mouth pull down a little in disappointment, but she didn’t argue with Alice.

Given that we knew Charlie was gone for at least the next two hours and Bella’s car was already at her house, we decided to forgo vehicles tonight. Walking into the back yard I pulled Bella gently onto my back. She circled her limps around my body pressing her heat against me. It was such a wonderful feeling.

With Bella on my back I ran through the forest. The trees whipped by us and I felt her smile as she kept her lips close to my neck. I could feel her hot breath tickling me with each exhale.

Twice during the run she pressed her lips against my cold skin. It was just a small gesture, but one I loved just the same.

The porch light was on when we arrived at her house. Charlie must have turned it on before leaving to come to rehearsal dinner, not knowing how late things would be. Although I didn’t need the light, it made things easier for Bella.

Inside the house was dark and quiet. She flipped on a light and went into the kitchen to get a glass of water. I leaned against the doorway just watching her.

When she was finished, she took my hand and led me up to her bedroom. Her eyes immediately fell to the clock and I knew what she was doing. It was the same thing I’d been doing from the moment Alice had put words to our time limit.

Closing the small distance between us, I wrapped my arms around her from behind and kissed the crown of her head. “Get ready for bed and I’ll lay with you until I have to go.”

She agreed reluctantly and went to her drawer to get her things. I walked to the rocking chair in the corner and sat down to wait as my love took a few human moments.

Closing my eyes, I listened to her movements in the other room. Every night it was the same routine. First, she would brush out her hair. I would imagine it was me holding the brush as it ran through her long locks. Her scent would float through the air freely surrounding both of us. The burn in my throat intensified just thinking about it.

Then came the sound of her removing her clothing. Zippers and buttons releasing their hold to reveal what I had yet to fully see. My mind flashed back to Seattle and her lying on the bed in the outfit she’d purchased with Alice. The memory of those soft curves under my hands, my lips, it was too much. A groan rumbled in my chest as my body reacted to the perfect recall I had of that night.

The sound of the shower starting didn’t help my current state as I heard her step into the spray. Being a vampire I could hear so many sounds that a human could not like the slight variation of water against flesh instead of porcelain.

I felt my pants tighten as my fingers curled over the arms of the rocker, my mind attempting to focus on anything but her and failing miserably. The plain and simple truth was that I didn’t want to be thinking about anything but her. She was my world. Bella was my present and my future. My bride.

The images I’d once thought to be inappropriate filled my mind as I continued to track every movement she made through sound. By the time the water shut off I was in what could only be described as pain. I’d long released my grip on the chair in fear of doing damage. All my muscles were locked in place, ridge. My breath was coming quickly, desperately inhaling the searing burn down my throat.

Knowing I needed to calm down before she returned, I moved to the window and opened it. The air was still warm but the light breeze helped to clear my head and ease the burn in my throat. Slowly my muscles began to relax.

It was at the window that Bella found me. Just her entering the room added a new dynamic to the heavily laden scent already in the room.

She didn’t walk directly to me, but instead put her things away. I turned and watched her.

Bella wore a gray tank top and a matching pair of shorts. Neither was as revealing as the outfit I’d just been remembering, but they were still enticing.

With each step she drew closer to me and I could feel that same pull I always did when she was near. Coming to a stop in front of me she reached a hand up to caress my cheek. “Are you okay?” she asked.

I gave her the crooked smile I knew she loved. “Yes.”

“What are you thinking about?”

“You,” I said simply.

She took another step forward, this time placing both her hands in my hair. “Good things I hope.”

Bella pulled my head down and I brought our lips to nearly touching. “Very good things,” I whispered before pressing my mouth against hers.

Our kiss was gentle without a hint of the passion I’d been feeling only moments ago. It would not be good to get worked up tonight considering that I had to leave soon and she needed her rest.

Several minutes past before we drew apart. Bella took a step back towards her bed pulling me with her. Willingly I followed.

She released me briefly to climb into her bed. The blanket wrapped around her small body and she looked up at me expectantly.

I removed my shoes and began to get into the bed before the look on her face stopped me. Bella looked like she was preparing for an argument although I had no idea what the subject would be. “What is it, love?”

Bella crossed her arms over her chest causing her breasts to lift slightly and I swallowed quickly refocusing my eyes on her face. “You’re forgetting something?” she said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

I continued to look at her trying to figure out what it was that I was forgetting when I followed her eyes to my chest. When I looked down I realized what her problem was. I was still wearing my shirt and she had declared I was no longer permitted to wear a shirt in her bed.

Laughing, I efficiently pulled the shirt over my head and tossed it on the floor beside my shoes. Bella’s eyes raked over my now naked torso and got bigger, darker as I moved to take my place at her side.

She moved to lay flush against my side, her head coming to rest on my shoulder, her left hand over my silent heart. It was perfect. No words were said for the longest time as we just enjoyed being together away from families and obligations.

It was in these moments that I felt the most human. I was hers and she was mine. We were not human and vampire, only Bella and Edward.

Eventually we heard Charlie come home and make his way up to his room. He didn’t check on Bella, thinking her to already be asleep given the quiet of her room. We listened as his movements filled the silence followed a short time later by his soft snores.

Gradually Bella’s fingers began to glide along my chest. Just that small movement caused a reaction in me from the deepest part of my being. “How much longer?” she asked.

There was no doubt in my mind as to what she was asking. I looked over at the clock and then let my lips graze her forehead as I murmured. “It’s just after eleven.”

Bella groaned and pulled herself up so that our faces were aligned. Her soft lips pressed against mine. “I miss you already,” she whispered.

Her hands came up to find their pace in my hair while her mouth hovered a breath away from mine. “I don’t need to leave. I can stay…” I answered back as my lips rubbed against hers seductively. I truly didn’t want to leave her. Alice could yell at me later.

“Mmm,” was her only verbal response as our mouths came together once more.

My arms held her tighter. As we kissed the outside world fell away leaving only us, our breathing, her heartbeat.

In twenty-four hours we’d be on our way to Isle Esme. I opened my eyes and looked at her as our lips parted. She was amazing. Perfect. Mine. A thousand years from now I would still be thanking whatever fate had brought her into my life.

Bella’s eyes slowly opened and found mine. She was gazing at me with a look of wonder I didn’t understand and never would. It was filled with such love, such devotion.

My love’s arms pulled me to her, our mouths meeting in gentle supplication. I did not want to leave her. Ever. “Definitely staying,” I murmured.

She pulled back slightly. “No, no. It’s your bachelor party. You have to go.”

Bella said the words, but her actions stated her true feelings. Her fingers tightened in my hair and she pressed her body more firmly against me.

In response, my hands came up surround her face gently. My fingers ran softly up and down from temple to jaw. “Bachelor parties are designed for those who are sad to see the passing of their single days. I couldn’t be more eager to have mine behind me. So there’s really no point.” There was no point other than tradition and an excuse to hunt.

To try and distract her I adjusted our positions slightly and angled her head up so that I could have access to her neck. I heard her response as the first goose bumps from my cool breath formed on her skin. “True,” she breathed.

My nose traced the line up and down her neck taking in her scent. Bella’s heart pounded against her chest making me smile. I loved that sound.

Then it was my turn to stop breathing as I felt her hand snake around me and begin trailing down my chest to my stomach. My body reacted to her touch as it normally did making me want to remove all the barriers between us.

Before I could do anything stupid I pulled myself back up to capture her lips with my own. What I didn’t expect, but should have given my knowledge of Bella, was her willingness to push my control. Her tongue slipped between her lips and pressed against mine.

A sigh of pleasure left my mouth. I needed to pull away from her. I needed distance.

Bella had other ideas. “Wait,” she said grapping my shoulders and pulling herself as close to me as possible. Her leg came lose from the blanket surrounding her and circled my waist. “Practice makes perfect,” she grinned.

I couldn’t stop myself from chuckling. “Well, we should be fairly close to perfection by this point then shouldn’t we?” Then I couldn’t help but add, “Have you slept at all in the last month?”

It was meant to be a joke but of course Bella had a one-track mind. “But this is the dress rehearsal and we’ve only practiced certain scenes. It’s no time for playing safe.”

As soon as the words left her lips, I sobered. We were not playing and she most certainly wasn’t safe. My last time with Jasper began to replay in vivid detail. The dirt in my hands. The deep impressions left in the ground marking my loss of control. “Bella…”

My thoughts must have been written clearly on my face given her next words. “Don’t start this again. A deal’s a deal.”

“I don’t know,” I answered honestly. “It’s too hard to concentrate when you’re with me like this. I…I can’t think straight. I won’t be able to control myself. You’ll get hurt,” I said trying to convey to her the seriousness of what we faced.

“I’ll be fine,” she insisted.

Bella was so stubborn. This was the girl who faced James. Laurent. Victoria. Not to mention werewolves. She never took danger seriously and this was just another example. As much as I wanted this…wanted her…I didn’t want to put her in danger. I couldn’t.

“Bella…”

“Shh!” she said a split second before her lips covered mine. I let my mouth move with hers while I tried to find some way to make her realize the very real danger this posed for her.

After a minute she pulled back. As much as I wanted to try and change her mind, I knew the chances were slim. Once Bella’s mind was made up on something it was nearly impossible to change. So instead I decided to change direction and asked, “How are your feet?”

She surprised me by saying in a rather firm voice, “Toasty warm.”

“Really? No second thoughts? It’s not too late to change your mind.”

“Are you trying to ditch me?” she said indignantly.

I chuckled. She was just too cute. “Just making sure. I don’t want you to do anything you’re not sure about.” It was said light heartedly, but I had no doubt that she knew my meaning. Tomorrow would mark the beginning of the end for her. The countdown of her human life. Although the specific date had not been set, once we were married it would only be a matter of time.

“I’m sure about you. The rest I can live through.”

She said it with such surety. But with every word I felt those old doubts creeping back in. This was it, her last chance to back out.

I wouldn’t blame her if she did. This life… This existence was all I could offer her. All I had. Did she really want that? Forever?

“Can you?” I asked in a near whisper. “I don’t mean the wedding, which I am positive you will survive despite your qualms. But afterward…what about Renee, what about Charlie?” I needed her to think about all the things she was giving up. For me. Although I wanted it more than anything, to have her by my side for all of eternity, I wasn’t worth it.

She sighed in response. “I’ll miss them.”

I was expecting more, but she remained silent so I continued. “Angela and Ben and Jessica and Mike.”

“I’ll miss my friends, too,” she smiled. Then the reason for her smile became obvious as she added, “Especially Mike. Oh Mike!” she said dramatically. “How will I go on?”

The growl boiled up from my chest before I could stop it. Even knowing I was all wrong for her, that Mike would be a better choice, it was not a thought I wanted to entertain. She was mine.

Bella laughed. “Edward, we’ve been through this and through this. I know it will be hard, but this is what I want. I want you, and I want you forever. One lifetime is simply not enough for me.”

She said it with such confidence, but how could she possibly know. How could she want to be like me? “Frozen forever at eighteen,” I whispered in all seriousness.

“Every woman’s dream come true,” she said in a teasing voice.

I needed her to understand the seriousness of what she was choosing one last time. “Never changing…never moving forward.”

That seemed to give her pause. “What does that mean?” she asked.

Then I put voice to the one thing that by being with me, by choosing me, Bella would be giving up forever. “Do you remember when we told Charlie we were getting married? And he thought you were…pregnant?”

Again she tried to make light of my comment. “And he thought about shooting you. Admit it…for one second, he honestly considered it.” I remained silent. How could she make light of this? “What, Edward?”

How could I make her understand that more than anything I wish I could be human and give her a child. To see her body swell with life and knowing that she was holding a part of me. “I just wish…well, I wish that he’d been right.”

“Gah,” she gasped.

I knew I needed to clarify. “More that there was some way he could have been. That we had that kind of potential. I hate taking that away from you, too.”

She didn’t answer right away, but when she did it was with her usual determination. “I know what I’m doing.”

Her response, although expected, frustrated me. “How could you know that, Bella?” I needed to make this real for her, to make her understand the severity of the situation. “Look at my mother, look at my sister. It’s not as easy a sacrifice as you imagine.”

“Esme and Rosalie get by just fine. If it’s a problem later, we can do what Esme did…we’ll adopt.”

Bella said it as though it was all so simple. Why couldn’t she understand?! I sighed in frustration. “It’s not right! I don’t want you to have to make sacrifices for me. I want to give you thinks, not take things away from you. I don’t want to steal your future. If I were human…”

She didn’t let me continue. Her fingers came up to cover my lips. “You are my future,” she said softly. Then with more firmness she continued, “Now stop. No moping, or I’m calling your brothers to come and get you. Maybe you need a bachelor party.”

Suddenly I felt horrible. These were the last few minutes we had together and we should be enjoying each other. Instead I was doing exactly what she’d said. “I’m sorry. I am moping, aren’t I? Must be the nerves,” I said honestly.

“Are your feet cold?” she asked.

“Not in that sense,” I assured her. “I’ve been waiting a century to marry you, Miss Swan. The wedding ceremony is the one thing I can’t wait…”

Ready or not here we come, Eddie!

Say goodbye, Edward.

“Oh, for the love of all that’s holy!”

“What’s wrong?” she said clearly worried.

My teeth ground together in irritation. This was going to be a long night. “You don’t have to call my brothers. Apparently Emmett and Jasper are not going to let me bow out tonight.”

Her arms suddenly tightened around me, but just as quickly let go. “Have fun,” she said with false enthusiasm. I knew she didn’t want me to go. Both of us would much rather spend the night together than anywhere else.

Seconds later I heard Emmett lightly scraping his rock hard finger nails against the glass of Bella’s window. I knew it was loud enough for her to hear and wondered if it was as annoying to human ears as it was to mine. Then I felt her body shudder slightly and knew that yes, in deed, it was.

“If you don’t send Edward out,” Emmett teased in a falsely menacing voice, “we’re coming in after him!”

Suddenly a laugh sprung forth from the woman beside me. “Go,” she said. “Before they break my house.”

I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the situation. Getting out of her bed I grabbed my shirt and shoes quickly redressing myself and preparing to leave. Standing by her bedside, I leaned in and kissed her forehead. “Get to sleep. You’re got a big day tomorrow.”

“Thanks!” she said with a slight hiss. “That’s sure to help me wind down.”

I sent her a beaming smile. “I’ll meet you at the alter.”

“I’ll be the one in white,” she said flippantly.

Bella was still not trilled about getting married. I knew that. She was doing this for me.

Not wanting to leave on a bad note I chuckled before responding to her. “Very convincing.” With a final smirk in her direction, I crouched down and in one fluid motion I jumped out the window landing directly on top of Emmett.

I’d taken my aim carefully to make sure I’d land exactly where I wanted. Emmett’s response was some very ungentlemanly remarks as he pushed me off him, which I ignored.

Jasper was amused by my antics. He was clearly in agreement with me that Emmett had deserved it. Then after a quick glance up towards Bella’s room, he was leaping up to perch himself on the outside of her window. “Don’t worry, Bella. We’ll get him home in plenty of time.”

I could read her worry through his thoughts. He thought they were due to concern over our leaving tonight. Knowing Bella as I did and her thoughts regarding tomorrow, I wasn’t sure that was the source of her worry.

Through his mind I could see her lying in bed watching him. She did look calmer than she had only moments before, but I knew once Jasper’s influence was gone so would be her peace. I tried not to let that bother me.

He smiled back at her and turned to make his descent when her voice stopped him. “Jasper?” My brother turned back to face her. “What do vampires do for bachelor parties? You’re not taking him to a strip club, are you?”

Of course she’d ask that. Why had I not thought to tell her? It would have been one less thing for her to worry about.

“Don’t tell her anything!” Emmett growled.

I was still standing close by him and took the opportunity to hit him hard enough with my shoulder to make him stumble. He managed to catch himself fairly easily, but his expression was very laughable and I found myself chuckling.

“Relax,” I heard Jasper respond. “We Cullens have our own version. Just a few mountain lions, a couple of grizzly bears. Pretty much an ordinary night out.” She looked calmer now as she thanked Jasper.

A second later he was back down on the ground beside me. “Ready to go?” I nodded and we all took off into the woods toward the house.

The run back was quiet for the most part. Both Emmett and Jasper were excited about the upcoming hunt. I was trying to push my still very valid concerns regarding Bella to the back of my mind.

To my surprise we did not go into the house upon our arrival, but went straight to Emmett’s Jeep. I hesitated for a second. Weren’t they going to say goodbye to Alice and Rose?

Jasper of course picked up on my emotions. “The girls said to have fun. Now lets get this show on the road.”

I could hear Esme, Rosalie, and Alice inside our home and I knew they were aware of us outside. They were all wrapped up in their own tasks and didn’t appear to be expecting us.

With a shrug I got into the Jeep. If they upset their mates by not saying a proper goodbye, that would be their problem.

“Alright!” Emmett shouted as he turned on the engine.

We drove in silence until we were outside of Forks. My brothers were thinking about the night ahead, but their thoughts were on the what, not the where. “So where exactly are we going?”

“Oh no,” Jasper said turning back to face me. “You, brother, are going to be surprised tonight. Just sit back and put yourself in our hands.”

Emmett laughed at that. “We have to mold and prepare you for Bella.”

I knew it would do no good to respond to his comment. Pinching the bridge of my nose I sat back in my seat and closed my eyes.

Just enjoy it, Edward. You’re getting married.

Jasper knew just what to say to calm me down. I was getting married. To Bella. My Bella.

The smile that covered my face caused Jasper to chuckle. “I think he’s just a little happy about getting married, Emmett.”

“It definitely has its advantages,” Emmett said raising his eyebrows suggestively.

My instinct was to sigh and roll my eyes, but I remembered my conversation with Bella regarding her gifts. I knew I was opening myself up to further teasing, but I figured it was worth it. “Did Alice and Rose tell you about Bella’s gifts?”

Both my brothers smirked. “I don’t think he’s talking about the anniversary album,” Jasper said conspiratorially to Emmett.

She got an anniversary album? Why didn’t she mention that? I’d have to ask her…

Realizing I was getting side tracked, I said, “No, I’m not talking about the anniversary album.”

I let that hang in the empty air of the Jeep knowing Emmett would take the bait eventually. He didn’t disappoint when forty-five seconds later he very bluntly said, “Need some help figuring out the handcuffs do you, Eddie?”

His comment was followed by a huge belly laugh. Even Jasper snickered. They were obviously having fun at my expense.

My curiosity was peeked at the mention of handcuffs, but I pushed it aside for more pressing matters.

It took a few moments for their laughter to calm down so I took the time to gather my thoughts and what specifically I wanted to ask. I thought the outcome would be better if I led them to the information I desired rather than give them free reign. “She received some…costumes.” I thought about using the word outfits as she had, but instead decided on costumes instead. It was what they were after all.

“Ah,” came Emmett’s voice once again. “So our little Bella went straight to the good stuff,” he said wagging his eyebrows again. Apparently it was going to be a regular occurrence for him for the foreseeable future.

I ignored his comment. “I was just…surprised. I hadn’t been expecting her to get stuff like that.”

“Why?” Jasper asked. “I mean you’re getting married. Sex is naturally assumed to be part of that.”

I was only vaguely paying attention to where we were headed at this point. Port Angeles had come and gone and we were now headed south. “That is true,” I admitted. “I just never thought of that for Bella and myself.”

The look on my brothers’ faces and their thoughts were almost laughable if it hadn’t been Bella they were trying to picture. Instead a low growl rumbled in my chest.

They heard my reaction, of course. Jasper had the decency to look apologetic. Emmett, however, just shrugged and turned his thoughts to Rosalie. “Emmett!”

He laughed. “Sorry, little brother. You don’t get to have it both ways.”

The Jeep was filled with silence for a long time after that. I wanted to ask more but I honestly didn’t know how without becoming the butt of more jokes. We were just outside of Seattle when Jasper spoke up and asked, “What is it about the ‘costumes’ that bothers you?”

With a sigh I tried to be honest. “Wouldn’t her dressing up…trying to be something that she’s not…be wrong? I mean I love Bella. I want her just the way she is.”

Jasper just smiled and said, “It’s not wrong, Edward. Playing like that with your mate is fun.”

I thought about that for several minutes. Would having Bella pretend to be a maid or a nurse be appealing? For the first time since she’d told me about it, I let myself imagine it. Although I’d not seen Bella’s maid outfit, I had seen Rosalie’s in Emmett’s mind all those years back. I put Bella in Rose’s place.

My pants started to tighten almost instantly. Maybe Jasper was right.

Nothing else was said as we made our way through the night and into the forest of the Olympic National Park. I should have guessed this was where we were going. It was the closest large hunting range in the area and we only had tonight. Traveling too far from home would have been impossible.

Emmett continued to drive for almost an hour more, taking us deep into the park before pulling off the side of the road and cutting the engine. He hopped out, his demeanor matching his thoughts. “Come on. Let’s go see what’s for dinner.” He laughed at his own joke while Jasper and I just rolled our eyes and followed him into the trees.

We all took off at a slow run. The night closed in on us as we continued deeper into the forest. What little light made it’s way through the trees would have been imperceptible to human eyes.

Emmett slowed and took a deep breath. There were several scents in the air. Most of them were of smaller animals that were not worth the effort.

Then a wicked smile crossed his face. Wolves.

My brother was off without a second thought. Jasper was ready to follow him, but hung back when he noticed my hesitation. What’s wrong, Edward?”

I shook my head. “Go ahead. I’ll find something else.”

He looked at me perplexed for a moment before realization set in. Should I not…

“No,” I assured him. “Its just Bella will most likely ask me what I hunted and I won’t lie to her.” Jasper nodded and with one last glance at me he took off.

I hadn’t thought about Jacob Black for many days but I couldn’t help but wonder where he was at this moment. He knew Bella and I would marry tomorrow. So far he’d not returned to his home, but would he?

The fact that her best friend would not be at her wedding bothered Bella. She didn’t say anything, but I knew her too well. My love could not fool me.

Closing my eyes, I opened up my senses and looked for my prey. I caught the faint scent of a cougar and took off in that direction. There would be plenty of time to contemplate Jacob Black later; right now I had more pressing matters to attend to.

My brothers and I stayed separated most of the night while we hunted. I managed to take down two cougars and an elk before hearing them racing towards me. Apparently Emmett had managed to take down a black bear. He was already giving me a play by play via my mental gift by the time they came into view.

It was still early morning, but we were all sated so we took our time making our way back to the Jeep.

The day would be perfect, just as Alice had predicted. It wasn’t raining, which was a rarity in this part of the country. Muted light filtered through the trees warming the ground. Bella would have her beautiful wedding day. A human memory I hoped she would carry into her new life.

As we drew closer to the Jeep, I noticed the tone of my brothers’ thoughts changing. I stopped mid stride. “What?”

“We got you a little something,” Jasper said struggling not to smile.

I waited, but neither of them said more or gave anything away in their thoughts. Instead, they just kept walking leaving me to trail behind them.

My anxiety was growing as the vehicle came into view. I knew this wasn’t going to be good.

Jasper made it to the vehicle first. He reached into the back and pulled out a box and handed it to me. I could tell there was more than one thing inside, and although I was reluctant to open it I knew there was no getting out of it.

Pulling the lid off, I looked inside. The first thing I noticed was what appeared to be a pair of black underwear. I picked it up and looked at it speculatively. Were these for Bella?

Emmett laughed. “There called Speedos. Since you and Bella will be on an island surrounded by water we figured you might do a little swimming.”

“Um. Thanks. I think,” I mumbled.

This time it was Jasper’s turn to chuckle. “Seeing as how you’ll be alone skinny dipping is perfectly acceptable, but knowing you you’ll have some weird rule about only seeing each other naked in the bedroom.” I growled playfully at my brother. Honestly, I wasn’t THAT bad.

Going back to the box I found two more pairs of ‘Speedos’ and a deck of cards that said, ’52 Sexual Possitions’ across the front. There was also a bottle of warming massage oil, much like the one I’d purchased for our Seattle, trip and two bottles labeled ‘personal lubricant’.

I looked up at my brothers and they were both grinning at me. “We didn’t know how Bella would…well…”

Jasper didn’t get to finish before Emmett jumped in. “There’s one that has warming stuff in it and one that doesn’t. Bella doesn’t seem to mind you being cold and all but that might be a different story with your…”

“Emmett!”

He just laughed.

Jasper was giggling to, but he tried to be serious as he said, “We just wanted you to be prepared.”

Although I knew part of this was my brothers giving me a hard time as brothers do, it was also their way of saying they were supporting me. Us. “Thanks,” I managed to choke out.

We were all lost in the moment until Jasper’s watch beeped. He walked over and slapped me on the back. “Ready to go get your bride?” I just smiled.

The ride back was filled with our normal banter. There was no other mention of what Bella and I had ahead of us. Emmett told me how much he loved Renee, which didn’t surprise me. They appeared to be made from the same mental cloth.

Jasper had spent most of the drive back to the hotel Friday night talking baseball with Phil. Apparently things were going well for him and they expected to be in Jacksonville for several more years.

By the time we arrived back in Forks, it was almost two. Jasper had been assigned the task of retrieving Renee and Phil today so I knew he’d have to be heading out almost immediately upon our arrival.

Emmett parked the Jeep in the garage and my ears tuned into the one sound I’d missed while I’d been gone more than any other, Bella’s heart. It beat a steady rhythm that instantly calmed me every time. Just thinking of the woman to whom it belonged sent a warm feeling from my head to my toes.

My eyes drifted up to the second floor where the evidence of her life was coming from as I walked toward the house. She was in Alice’s room. I could hear Rosalie announcing our arrival, and my love’s heartbeat sped faster in response. It was like a homing beacon, and I began to move towards it without conscious thought.

Only Alice’s very vocal response telling Rosalie to keep me out made me stop. My sister was bound to keep us apart before the ceremony, to keep things traditional. I knew that unless I wanted a fight I would have to respect her wishes.

The thought of being in the same house as Bella for the next two and a half hours without being able to see her, touch her, was difficult. I could feel the separation, the pull between us, even more now that I knew so little was keeping us apart.

With less enthusiasm than I’d had only minutes before, I made my way to the house. The smell of thousands of flowers filled my senses even before the door opened. Esme pulled open the door and grabbed my arm ushering me inside and through the decorations. Looking around, I could see that Alice really had out did herself. It was like something out of a fairy tale.

Esme didn’t release her hold on me until she had me out in the back yard. Her pretense was that she wanted my opinion on where to set the food. The woman I had considered my mother for the last eighty years couldn’t fool me though. She was trying to distract me.

If I had been human, her plan may have worked. Being a vampire I was capable of dividing my attention too easily. No matter how many tables, chairs, or place settings she had me move; I was aware of every breath, every movement, taking place on the second floor of our home.

I tried, with fair success, to stay out of Alice and Rosalie’s minds while they were with Bella. The only time I slipped was when I realized Bella was panicking. Instinct had me wanting to rush up the stairs. A brief flash of a nervous Bella crossed through Alice’s mind before it abruptly stopped and I heard, Stop it, Edward. You will not ruin this! I had been seconds from forgetting Alice’s rules.

A welcome distraction came when Renee and Phil arrived followed by Jasper. Renee saw me and began to tear up. Her mind was already picturing Bella and I standing side by side under the flowers that were already within her view. “Oh Edward!” she cried. “Don’t you look handsome.”

“Thank you, Renee.”

Then she turned her attention back to Jasper. “Am I allowed to see Bella?”

My brother shot me a knowing smile and I couldn’t help but chuckle. Obviously Alice’s iron fist had not only been directed at me. “Of course,” Jasper said offering her his arm and leading her up the staircase.

I heard Alice ask Bella if she was in need of Jasper’s help to calm down and my want to defy my sister once again surged.

The doorbell rang and Emmett suddenly appeared. He opened the door with a flourish to Tanya, Kate, Carmen, and Eleazar. Tanya flashed me a quick smile, her thoughts full of curiosity regarding Bella. I was sure she was going to say something, however the doorbell rang again with more guests.

It was as if the floodgates had opened. Suddenly the house seemed to be filled with people.

I saw Charlie head quietly up the stairs and then Carlisle appeared at my side asking for me to follow him. Almost everyone we had invited was here. Everyone except Jacob Black.

Carlisle and I walked to a room in the back of the house that was rarely used. There were no people back here. No decorations.

His thoughts were blank and his demeanor reserved. Motioning for me to go in first, he closed behind us before facing me with a smile on his face.

Opening his thoughts to me I was hit by the overwhelming sense of pride he had for me. “You’re getting married, Edward.”

It was such a simple statement, but we both knew the intense meaning behind it. I was getting married. To my mate. I would never have to be alone again.

We stood smiling at each other for several long minutes before he said, “I suppose now is the time I should be giving you some fatherly advice.”

My grin grew at this. “That would be traditional.”

He laughed. “Yes it would.” Carlisle paused and then became serious again, his eyes filling with emotion. “Just be happy, son. Make her smile every day.”

All I could do was nod before there was a knock on the door. Reverend Webber poked his head in. “It’s time.”

Carlisle and I followed him out. I could not believe the nervous excitement I felt. Her heartbeat grounded me. I couldn’t wait to see her.

We entered the room on the opposite side and took our places. Alice had set the room up with chairs and more flowers than any human could dream. Each chair was filled with guests. Our cousins from Denali sat just behind Esme on my side of the aisle. Bella’s friends from school sat on her side along with Billy, Seth and his mother Sue.

Bella’s mother and step-father sat opposite Esme on the front row. There was an empty seat left open for Charlie.

Although there was very little talk, I could hear the chatter in their minds. It ranged from curiosity regarding my bride from my vampire cousins to fear of being in the same room with so many vampires from Sue Clearwater to jealousy from Mike Newton.

The sounds of Rosalie descending the stairs caused me to push all of the idol thoughts of our guests out of my mind. I watched her make her way to the front and sit behind the piano.

She began playing the first chords of Pachelbel’s Canon. I took a deep breath preparing to see Bella when I heard her heart begin to race.

“Easy, Bella,” Charlie said. “She looks a little sick. Do you think she’s going to make it?”

Bella’s father sounded nervous. Was she alright?

Of course Carlisle had heard everything that I had and knowing me as he did, placed a restraining hand on my arm.

“She’d better,” I heard my sister say. Then her voice was softer. “Focus, Bella. Edward is waiting for you down there.”

I heard Bella’s heartbeat take on a different tone. It was one I recognized well.

Sensing that I had calmed down and was not about to run up the stairs Carlisle released his grip on my arm. I glanced over giving him a silent thank you. He just smiled in return.

A few more words were spoken upstairs and Rosalie made the transition of songs effortlessly. “Bella?” I heard Alice ask.

“Yes. Edward. Okay,” I heard Bella whisper.

And then I saw my sister glide down the staircase. Alice wore a lovely silver dress. Everyone was watching her as she made her way down the aisle to take her place at the front.

Unlike the others my gaze didn’t follow Alice. It remained on the stairs. “Don’t let me fall, Dad,” I heard Bella say.

I heard each footstep as it fell. I counted every breath she took on her way down. Her head was lowered as she floated into my sight, but that was all it took to make me stop breathing. Bella’s cheeks held the slightest hint of a blush. She was breathtaking.

Her head came up and her eyes began searching. The red on her checks deepened and even with the distance between us I could feel the burn. I took a deep breath and relished the feeling that meant her presence.

Then her brown eyes mine and I smiled. She was mine.