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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.


41. Chapter 41

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Her eyes showed all the warmth and love that I had grown accustom to since knowing her, and it was solely for me. I smiled back with a warmth that had started in my chest and was spreading through my body slowly, yet with raging intensity.

Bella’s heartbeat picked up again, and I saw the muscles in the arm she had wrapped around her father’s tighten. The small space between us seemed vast, and I couldn’t help but remember the first time I saw her sitting across the cafeteria. Never in my wildest imagination could I have fathomed today back then. Never would I have thought that I would want anyone the way I wanted her. Or that she would have those same desires for me.

Through his mind I saw Charlie look first at me, and then at his daughter. The love he had for her was similar to mine in many ways. He would do anything for her. He would give his life. He would give her to me.

I had always liked Charlie. He was a good man and father. The fact that I had gained his approval meant so very much to me, and I would never be able to repay to him the honor I felt because of it. I did not deserve Bella, and never would. She was beautiful, selfless, courageous, and kind. She was everything I was not.

Bella’s eyes stayed locked on mine as she walked down the isle and came to a stop in front of me. I reached out my cold hand for hers.

With unusual grace Bella’s father placed her hand in mine. It was symbolic and full of deep meaning. He was passing her care to me, and I felt humbled even more than usual in that moment by the honor being bestowed upon me. I nodded to Charlie briefly before turning my full attention back to the woman at my side.

Her warm fingers laced with mine as we stood side by side in front of our family and friends. Bella’s lips pulled up, widening her smile. I wanted to take her in my arms right there and never let her go, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. In just a matter of minutes I would be married to this wonderful creature. This was the first step in our forever.

Smiling back at her I gave her hand a squeeze, and we both took a step forward to face the minister.

Reverend Webber gave a small chuckle as he observed our interaction. He’d watched our display of love Friday on the back porch of her father’s home, and had been impressed by our connection. Today he was happy to be marrying a couple that was so clearly in love and dedicated to one another. Although he had no idea the level of dedication, he seemed to approve.

His focus moved from Bella and I to those sitting behind us. “Thank you all for coming to share this day with Bella and Edward. It is a happy time when two people decide to join their lives.”

“I had the opportunity to sit down with these two the other day, and was impressed by the love they freely show not only to each other but to those around them.”

He continued to speak to our friends and family a little longer before turning his attention back to us. “Bella. Edward. Your friends and family are here today to witness this union between you, but it is you who are entering into this marriage. There will be ups and downs, good times and bad, but if you work together the rewards are endless.”

His mind drifted to his own marriage. He meant every word he was saying.

Although I was listening to him as he went on speaking to us, my eyes were on Bella and hers on mine. We were lost in our own little world. I wasn’t even sure if she was paying attention to what the minister was saying.

He talked a little more about marriage and what it meant, but I only half listened. All I wanted was to get to the vows. The ones that made her my wife.

The minister angled his body slightly to face Bella and began the words I most wanted to hear. To these I knew she was listening by the moisture in her eyes. Tears ran down her cheeks as his words came to an end and she whispered, “I do.”

Her voice was full of conviction, and I felt that pressure deep in my chest as my own emotions bubbled to the surface. I knew that if I could cry I would be doing so now. She was mine. Forever.

“Edward?” Reverend Webber said, drawing my attention back to him.

When he was sure I was listening he continued. “Edward, do you take Isabella, to be your wife.”

Her eyes filled with fresh tears as the minister went on. “To have and to hold from this day forward.”

I tried to convey to her with my eyes just how seriously I took those words. Every single one.

“For better or for worse.”

Those words meant more to us than any other couple in history.

“For richer, for poorer.”

She would never want for any material thing again. Whatever she wished, it would be hers.

“In sickness and in health.”

I would love her however she would have me.

“To love and to cherish.”

My only love. My mate.

“For as long as you both shall live.”


“I do,” I answered.

All I could do was look at her. The people around us, and the chatter of their minds were just background noise to me. She was my only focus.

It was only movement from Alice behind Bella combined with Carlisle clearing his throat that got my attention. The rings, Edward.

I felt slightly embarrassed. How could I have forgotten the rings?

I turned a fraction towards him and Carlisle handed me Bella’s ring. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Bella doing the same with Alice.

Reverend Webber thoughts held amusement as he watched this exchange take place. He hadn’t missed the fact that Bella and I had been so engrossed in each other that we’d forgotten about anything else.

We turned back to each other and the minister instructed her to take my left hand and place the ring upon my finger. “Isabella, repeat after me. With this ring, I thee wed.”

The tears flowed even faster as she said the words, and I wanted so desperately to kiss those tears away.

Then it was my turn. I took Isabella’s hand and repeated the words to her. “With this ring, I thee wed.”

“By the power vested in me by the state of Washington, I now pronounce you husband and wife,” he said clearly for all those in attendance to hear. Then a little softer, specifically to me, he said, “You may kiss your bride.”

I released her hands and stepped closer, closing the small distance between us. My palms gently cupped her face. My wife.

Her eyes shown with a happiness that was mirrored back in mine as I leaned down to press my lips against hers. I felt her rise up on her delicate frame trying to close the remaining space between us. And in a move very much like that of our first kiss beside her truck, her arms wrapped around my neck and held me.

I tried to keep the kiss chaste. We rarely kissed like this in front of others, and today we had over twenty witnesses.

Bella seemed oblivious to the crowd, however, as she pressed her lips harder against mine. I could hear throats being cleared along with silent cheers of approval from my brothers. I knew we had to stop, and so reluctantly I pulled back.

Looking into her flushed face I could barely contain my joy. This woman loved me. Wanted me. This woman was mine. My wife. There were no words for how I felt with that knowledge.

Reverend Webber announced us as Mr. and Mrs. Edward Anthony Cullen, and our audience applauded. I knew we needed to do our duty and attend to our guests, so reluctantly I turned us to face them.

The first person to reach us was Esme. She hugged me, then Bella. It was slightly awkward as I refused to release Bella’s hand from mine.

Renee, Phil, and Charlie were next. And then everyone else in attendance fell into place after them. The congratulations were rushed as everyone stopped long enough for a quick hug or handshake before Alice began ushering them out into the back yard.

The man I’d considered my father for the last eighty years hung back and allowed everyone else their opportunity before coming to stand in front of us placing a hand on my shoulder. He looked first to Bella and then to me. “You couldn’t have done better, son.” Then he moved to Bella and hugged her. “Welcome to the family, Bella.”

A beautiful blush covered her features. “Thank you, Carlisle.”

And then we were alone.

I turned to face her taking her other hand in mine. “Are you ready, Mrs. Cullen?”

There was only a moment’s pause before her face lit up with the most magnificent smile. “Most definitely, Mr. Cullen.”

Giving her arms a gentle tug, I bent down and pressed another soft kiss to her lips. “I love you,” I whispered.

“I love you, Edward,” she whispered back.

We walked hand in hand out to the backyard where Alice had not only done an impeccable job decorating, but also arranging the timing of it all. It was twilight. And as I’d told Bella at the start of our relationship, it was the safest time of day for the vampires in attendance. But with lights placed strategically around the area, it created a magical scene for both human and vampire. Alice had truly outdone herself.

For the first time since seeing Bella walk down the staircase, I let the voices filter back in. They were no longer the din in the background.

Everyone gave us their attention, some of them applauding again, as we walked out and made our way over to the table Alice had set up with special place settings for the bride and groom. Carlisle and Alice also had places at the table even though the only one who would be eating was Bella.

There was a buffet set up with food about ten feet away from our table. The way it was arranged would make it so that everyone would have to pass by us on their way to the buffet.

People were mingled about the area talking. The humans stuck close together and on the opposite side of the area than that of the vampires. I noticed Jasper moving along the edges with a rather expensive looking camera taking pictures. My sister had thought of everything.

The first person to approach us was Seth Clearwater. He wore a huge smile on his face and his joy was genuine. He was truly happy for us. “Congrats, guys.”

Seth’s mother and Billy Black had joined him in his crossing over into hostile territory. Billy’s thoughts were mixed with resignation and even a small amount of happiness for Bella.

He knew what our marriage would most likely mean for our relations with his tribe. But he was also aware that Bella’s happiness was real. Billy Black had seen first hand what our separation was like for her. He also knew that neither my family nor I was forcing her into anything. His view on our relationship had changed almost as much as Charlie’s had.

The woman standing on the other side of Seth was a completely different story. Sue Clearwater was a bundle of nerves. Her eyes were wary. And her heart rate was higher than normal showing her fear.

Seth closed the distance between us and hugged me. I gladly hugged him back as I read the repulsion in his mother’s mind. I saw her shiver as her son’s skin and mine made contact.

“It’s good to see things work out for you, man. I’m happy for you.”

“Thank you, Seth,” I said stepping back. “That means a lot to me.” He would never know how much. His innocence combined with his sincerity was refreshing.

I turned to address his companions. “Thank you, as well. For letting Seth come. For supporting Bella today.” They were not here for me.

Sue remained silent. In her mind, the only thought was to when she could safely escape and not be overly rude.

Billy, however, answered, “You’re welcome.

The three said a quick goodbye and moved on towards the food. But in their wake was a line of others waiting to offer extended congratulations.

Angela and Ben stepped up next. Both of them offered heartfelt congratulations to both Bella and I.

Reverend Webber and his wife followed behind them, and then Mike and Jessica. Mike’s thoughts focused on me. He was still trying to figure out what I had that he had not possessed. I found this amusing considering that he was here with Jessica.

For her part Bella’s friend’s thoughts were neutral. It seems that she had finally accepted that Bella and I would not be separated.

As Mike and Jessica moved along, Tanya, Kate, Carmen, and Eleazar took their place. All of their minds were still very curious about the woman at my side, but it was Tanya’s mind I was currently focusing on.

Her eyes roamed over Bella’s features. Although she thought that for a human, my love was pretty, she didn’t see, couldn’t pinpoint what could be so special about her.

Then she reached out and hugged me. I guess this means that I have to keep looking doesn’t it.

Her grip tightened. “Ah, Edward. I’ve missed you.”

As soon as Tanya touched me, I felt Bella stiffen. She was observant. It wouldn’t take too much deduction to figure out which of the visiting vampires happened to be Tanya.

I chuckled slightly and maneuvered out of her gasp placing a hand on her shoulder to keep a measured distance between us. Glancing over her features innocently I commented, “It’s been too long, Tanya.” Bella’s hand squeezed mine. “You look well.”

She smiled. Only I could tell that it wasn’t totally authentic. “So do you.” Tanya meant the words however, no matter her disappointment. It was obvious to all of my cousins just how much happier I was.

I took a half step closer to Bella so that our arms were now touching as well as our hands. “Let me introduce you to my wife.” Just saying it out loud gave me such enormous pleasure and sent a pleasant shiver through body.

Looking down at Bella I gave her that crooked smile that I knew she loved. “Tanya, this is my Bella,” I said reverently.

My cousin’s eyes looked Bella over again still trying to find out what it was about her that had made me choose her. But if Tanya was anything, she was gracious. “Welcome to the family, Bella,” she smiled, although it did not reach her golden eyes. “We consider ourselves Carlisle’s extended family, and I am sorry about the, er, recent incident when we did not behave as such. We should have met you sooner. Can you forgive us?”

And knowing my love as I did, I knew exactly what her response would be. “Of course. It’s so nice to meet you.”

Mentally Tanya was shaking her head. Bella was a complete mystery to her as she had been to me for so long. I had to stifle my amusement.

But instead of continuing down that path of thought, Tanya turned to Kate and said, “The Cullens are all evened up in numbers now. Perhaps it will be our turn next, eh, Kate?” she grinned. It was the first true smile she’d given since walking up to us.

Kate was more laid back. She’d never seen me as anything but her cousin so her curiosity pertaining to Bella was totally different. My cousin rolled her eyes at her sister. “Keep the dream alive.”

Then without pause she turned her attention to Bella. “Welcome, Bella.”

Carmen stepped up next with Eleazar directly at her side. “I’m Carmen, this is Eleazar. We’re all so very pleased to finally meet you.”

“M-me, too,” Bella stuttered. I could tell she was starting to get overwhelmed by all the attention, and we still had quite a few more people to go.

Tanya’s eyes settled on the nervous looking humans waiting behind her before turning back to us. “We’ll get to know each other later. We’ll have eons of time for that!” she laughed as she lead the four vampires over to get some food from the buffet that they wouldn’t be eating.

We spoke to all the other guests one by one as they came up to us. Bella had shifted on her feet several times. She didn’t like all this attention.

Once we had a moment alone again I ushered her over to get some food. We each got a plate and then headed back to our table.

Bella’s eyes roamed the area as she nibbled on her food. Her face held an unreadable expression, and once again I wished I could read her thoughts. Instead I whispered, “Is the food not good?”

She jumped a little. “What? Oh. No. I’m mean yes, it’s good.” Then her brow crinkled a little. “Why?”

I reached up to brush the side of her face with the back of my hand feeling her warmth spread through me as I did.. “You seem distracted about something.”

“Oh,” she said and then paused for a moment before smiling back at me. “I was just thinking about…diversity.”

I couldn’t help but smile. I knew exactly what she was talking about. Who would have ever thought there would be a wedding between a human and a vampire that would be attended by humans, vampires, and a werewolf. “Diversity is good.”

“Yes. Did you ever think something like this was possible?”

We were speaking in hushed tones, but all the vampires and our one werewolf guest were privy to our conversation. “No. But before meeting you, love, I did not believe many things were possible.” A beautiful smile graced her face as she blushed.

As we sat smiling at each other, someone used their silverware to tap on their glass. We both heard it and it just made us smile wider. Leaning in to her I made sure my teeth were completely covered as our lips met.

The kiss was simple and chaste. When I pulled back to look into her eyes they were sparkling. I couldn’t help but close the distance between us once more and capture her lips a second time.

This time we lingered a little more enjoying to movement and feel of each other. Everyone was watching us with varying thoughts. I tuned them out. All I wanted to focus on was my Bella.

When we parted, I glanced down at her plate. “You should eat, love.”

She threaded her fingers through mine and then turned back to her food. I picked up my fork and moved some things around on my plate.

Periodically I would scan through the thoughts of our guests. Although I knew that on this day my family would not require it of me, monitoring the thoughts of those who could be a potential threat was a habit not easily changed.

When I looked over at my bride again I noticed Bella still wasn’t eating as she should. The expression on her face was one of happiness, but she was more focused on her surroundings than the fare in front of her.

She still needed to eat though. We would be on a plane for almost twenty-four hours. I could not say this for a fact, of course, but from the information I’d gathered food on airplanes and in airports was not of the highest caliber.

With sudden inspiration I loaded some food onto my fork and turned to her. “Bella?”

She looked over to me. Her eyes fell to the fork in my hand before coming back up to find mine. A small smile pulled at her lips and her mouth opened slightly.

Throughout our time together I had never before fed Bella. But as her mouth closed around the simple metal utensil I felt my body stir in a very familiar way. One I had experienced many times in the last month.

I swallowed and took a deep breath as I pulled the fork away. Her tongue slipped through her delicate lips to remove a small amount of sauce that lingered there.

My body tensed.

Bella leaned into me and I concentrated on the burn in my throat rather than act on the impulses running through my brain. Her warm breath caressed my cheek as she whispered in my ear. “Thank you.”

It was such a simple phrase, however, the way Bella said it took away its innocence. She seemed to have finally accepted what she was able to do to me and was enjoying every minute of it.

Thankfully Alice took that moment to appear in front of us. Bella sat back in her chair, but I didn’t miss the slight pout of disappointment covering her features. She had been enjoying her game.

“It’s time to cut the cake,” she said excitedly rubbing her hands together.

Standing fluidly, I offered Bella my hand. She took it and stood.

Alice had a beautiful three tiered cake made. I’d seen in her mind that she wished it had been bigger, more extravagant, but she’d reined herself in due to practicality and also because it was Bella. She knew my love would not want something too over the top.

We stood side by side behind the cake. I picked up the knife and Bella placed her hand over mine. Jasper, along with others who’d brought their cameras, took picture after picture as we cut into the cake and I place one single slice on a plate.

Bella’s eyes held concern for me when she realized that I had every intention of eating the traditional bite of cake that she would be giving me. We each took a small amount of the desert from the plate and faced each other.

Our hands reached the other’s lips only a second apart. She opened her mouth to accept hers, and once again I was held fascinated as her soft warm flesh grazed my fingers.

My own lips surrounded the confection she was offering. Bella knew to keep her fingers outside of my mouth, so she instead just pressed with the smallest ounce of pressure to put the piece inside.

The foul taste that past through my mouth and down my throat was only a small distraction from the woman in front of me. I was still having difficulty with the concept that she was truly and completely mine. Bella smiled up at me and gave me a chaste kiss as more pictures were taken.

Then Alice was at Bella’s side pulling her to the center of the activities. The single women all took their places and my love threw the bouquet over her head. In traditional Bella fashion, however, it went more to the side than behind her and ended up landing in the hands of an unsuspecting Angela.

After everyone had congratulated a still stunned Angela, Alice instructed my love to sit in the chair Emmett had placed there only seconds before. It seemed that my sister was making sure that all the traditions were kept.

Bella sat down as instructed. As I approached my wife to remove her garter out from under her dress, Alice reminded me that I had to use my mouth. It was tradition.

I placed my hands on either side of her hips as I kneeled in front of her and was very grateful at that moment for all the practice we’d done. My right hand reached for the hem of her dress and lifted it slightly so that I could place my head underneath the layers of fabric.

She was wearing white stockings that reached her thighs, and at the very top sat a lace garter. Her scent was strong as I wrapped my lips around the delicate lace and began moving it down her leg.

I heard a sharp intake of breath as I neared her knee. At first I thought maybe I’d done something wrong, but then I smelled a sweet fragrance coming from the juncture of her legs and tucked that piece of knowledge away for future use instead.

Once I got the garter clear of her body, all the single men lined up as per tradition. After a quick wink at Bella, I shot it over my shoulder and into the crowd directly into the face of Mike Newton.

Esme and Alice took positions near the cake and began putting slices onto plates while I guided Bella to the center of what made up the dance floor and took her into my arms as the music started.

A small sigh left Bella’s lips my arms wrapped around her. I began to move us with easy grace around the small dance floor. Neither one of us spoke for the longest time as we moved. And although I was aware of both the mental and verbal musings of those surrounding us, she was my only focus.

Her face was full of a happiness and peace that I rarely saw when we were around others. I pulled her closer and brought my mouth to her ear. “Enjoying the party, Mrs. Cullen?”

She laughed and I felt a shiver of pleasure run through me. I couldn’t tell if my reaction had more to do with her joy or the feel of her breath against my cold skin. “That will take a while to get used to.”

“We have a while,” I said trying to convey to her through my words just how happy I was about that fact.

The song came to an end and I heard Charlie heading towards us. He wanted to dance with his daughter. I felt him tap on my shoulder, and I quickly moved away to give him what he wanted. There was no way I could deny him such a simple request.

Moving away from Bella I was met by Esme. “I do believe that the mother gets a dance with her son,” she smiled up at me.

“Of course,” I said as I took her arm and let her back out onto the floor.

As Esme and I moved to the music, I could hear the conversation between Bella and her father. I didn’t need to see her face or be able to read her thoughts to know the conversation she was having with him was difficult for her. He thought she was just going away to college. That he would see her again at Thanksgiving and Christmas. He had no idea that this would mostly likely be the last he saw of his little girl.

My mother brought me back out of my musings. “It’s what she wants.”

I answered honestly. “I know.”

When the song finished Alice appeared insisting that I dance with her as well. And although I wanted to get back to Bella, I noticed another dance partner had already taken her father’s place.

After Alice there was Tanya, Kate, and Carmen. Jessica was debating whether or not to approach me when I noticed Mike Newton ask Bella to dance.

I tried to stay calm as I listened to his thoughts. Bella was mine and although I knew beyond doubt that she had no feelings for Newton, I did not enjoy the tone of his thoughts as he appraised the way my wife looked in her wedding dress.

A growl started to make itself known in my chest as I blocked out everything except getting to Bella’s side. I knew my family was watching me closely as I moved around a few other guests that were dancing.

As politely as I could, I inserted myself between Bella and Newton. He wasn’t happy about it, but after the glare I shot his way he cowered to Jessica’s side.

“Still not that found of Mike, eh?” Bella asked with obvious amusement as we began to dance to the new song.

“Not when I have to listen to his thoughts,” I answered her. “He’s lucky I didn’t kick him out. Or worse,” I added.

“Yeah, right,” she said in disbelief. Why was it that this woman could not see her own appeal?

“Have you had a chance to look at yourself?”

“Um. No, I guess not,” she answered a little shyly. “Why?”

Unbelievable. Did Alice not have her look in the mirror before she came downstairs? “Then I suppose you don’t realize how utterly, heartbreakingly beautiful you are tonight. I’m not surprised Mike’s having difficulty with improper thoughts about a married woman. I am disappointed that Alice didn’t make sure you were forced to look in a mirror.”

As soon as the words left my mouth, Alice was quick to defend herself. You’re lucky I got her downstairs.

I ignored her.

Bella looked up at me furrowing her brow. “You are very biased, you know.”

She was unbelievable. Sighing, I placed my hands on her shoulders and turned her to face the glass walls of the house. “Biased, am I?”

Through the glass I could see her eyes travel over our figures. I knew the moment she comprehended that she was the beauty at which she was looking. Alice had done well. The dress. The hair. The make-up. Everything was perfect.

I was so lost in the beauty that was my wife that I would have missed the new additions had one not shouted my name in his mind. Jacob. My body stiffened. He was not alone.

I thought Bells might like a surprise wedding gift.

“Oh!” I said as I pondered that. Looking down at my Bella I knew he was right. She would love this wedding gift.

She was looking up at me with clear question on her face. “What is it?”

I smiled wider. “A surprise wedding gift.”

“Huh?” she asked confused.

Instead of answering her, I pulled her back into my arms and started dancing again. Moving us across the floor, I brought us to the opposite edge of the trees and continued on until we were hidden from our guests. When I brought us to a stop Jacob was in sight.

“Thank you,” I said and I meant it. No matter what my feelings regarding Jacob, Bella would be happy and that was all that mattered. “This is very…kind of you.”

“Kind is my middle name.”

I realized the moment Bella reacted in my arms that she had not noticed Jacob until he’d spoken. “Can I cut in?” he asked more to her than to me.

Bella gasped and her hand reached for her throat just as her legs began to give. I held her tighter to keep her from falling. “Jacob!” she exclaimed. “Jacob!”

“Hey there, Bells,” he answered in a casual tone. He was nervous, but he was hiding it well. For her.

She pulled away from me, but I wouldn’t let go of her entirely. I was too afraid she’d trip on the uneven ground. It felt wrong to pass her over to Jacob’s care, even for a little while, but I did it. Again it was all for her.

I watched as Jacob’s arms circle around her and had to fight the urge to take her back. “Rosalie won’t forgive me if she doesn’t get her official turn on the dance floor, “ I muttered in way of dismissing myself. As I walked away I heard her say his name through her tears, and I felt that all to familiar pain in my chest.

Ignoring it, I kept walking until I’d found my sister. She walked with me to the dance floor and we began to dance.

Our movements to those without the knowledge of what was happening just beyond would have looked fluid and graceful. To those, however, that were aware it was obvious that neither of us were enjoying the dance.

I had mixed feelings about listening in on Bella and Jacob’s conversation. In a way, it felt like I was violating Bella’s privacy. But I couldn’t totally turn off my curiosity. Or my protective nature.

The song had changed, and so had my partner. Tanya had claimed me for another dance, but was wisely keeping her thoughts and comments silent given the close proximity of the wolves.

Jasper had been monitoring the emotional flavor of the party the entire night but had turned his focus to the trees once Bella and I had disappeared through them to meet Jacob. All at once both of our heads turned toward the secret conversation in the woods.

Suddenly things between Bella and Jacob were not so friendly.

I didn’t even mumble an excuse as I released Tanya and tried to calmly make my way back to Bella. It was a more difficult task than usual given the circumstances. Drawing attention to what was going on several yards out of sight would not create a pleasant outcome for anyone.

Once I was out of view from the humans in attendance, I raced to Bella’s side. When I reached her Jacobs hands were gripping her shoulders and his entire body was vibrating. He was having trouble keeping it together. I could hear him struggling in his mind trying to keep the change from happening.

“Take your hands off her!” I hissed.

Sam and a few others were just beyond in the trees and they gave a low snarl in response. It was a mixer of warning to both Jacob and myself, but it held no meaning to me. Bella was in danger and I would do all I could to protect her treaty or not.

Suddenly Seth appeared through the trees and came to stand beside Jacob. He was a wolf was well so if Jacob shifted while he was close his injuries would heal. Eventually. Bella would not be so lucky. I would not have this!

“Jake, bro, back away,” Seth pleaded. “You’ll hurt her,” he tried again. “Let her go.”

I couldn’t just stand there anymore. If I didn’t think that forcibly removing her from his grasp would harm her, I would have done so already. “Now!” I growled.

Finally Jacob’s hands left her arms. I pulled her into my chest a split second before putting some much needed distance between her and the dog that had hurt her so many times in the past, and had almost caused her permanent damage.

Once I was sure she wasn’t going to fall, I placed her protectively behind me. He would not hurt her as long as I was here to protect her.

But when I turned back around there were two wolves standing between us. They were trying to push Jacob back into the trees, but he was resisting. In his mind he was shouting at me. Cursing me for the damage that he was sure I would do to her.

“C’mon, Jake,” Seth said still pleading with Jacob. “Let’s go.”

“I’ll kill you,” Jacob spat at me. “I’ll kill you myself! I’ll do it now!”

He was still on the verge of shifting. Sam and Embry were trying their best to get him to move, but Jacob was holding his ground.

Seth was standing too close for my comfort. Although Jacob changing so close wouldn’t kill him, it could cause him significant damage and definitely pain. I didn’t want that for him. “Seth,” I hissed. “Get out of the way.”

My own plea was ignored however, as Seth continued to tug on Jacobs arm. Eventually his efforts were rewarded as Jacob moved backwards slightly. “Don’t do it, Jake. Walk away. C’mon,” Seth tried again.

Finally Sam had had enough of persuasion and placed his head in the center of Jacob’s chest. Jacob’s massive form moved against its own violation.

Eventually the two wolves and Seth managed to get Jacob away and I relaxed a little. The wolf named Quil took a few steps toward us. He was bewildered by what he’d both overheard and witnessed. There was no doubt that he agreed with Jacob’s feelings regarding our plans to consummate our relationship, but he was also determined that their tribe would not be the ones to break the treaty.

Bella’s soft voice broke my concentration on the wolf in front of us. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.

Of course my love would take the responsibility for Jacob’s immature reaction on herself. I pulled her closer into my embrace and let my lips linger near her temple. “It’s all right now, Bella.”

Quil continued to give me a cold stare, as he made sure that I did not miss what he was trying to tell me next. I didn’t. If any harm came to Bella they would retaliate.

Finally he moved away, back into the woods disappearing along with the others from sight. “Alight,” I said to no one in particular and everyone at the same time. Then I looked down at Bella. “Let’s get back.”

She held her ground. “But Jake…”

“Sam has him in hand,” I assured her. “He’s gone.”

At last, she allowed me to begin guiding her slowly back toward our guests. “Edward, I’m so sorry,” she began. “I was stupid…”

I cut her off. “You did nothing wrong…”

“I have such a big mouth!” she insisted. “Why would I…I shouldn’t have let him get to me like that. What was I thinking?”

She had been defending me, just like always. Defending the monster that I am. “Don’t worry,” I said reaching up to touch her face, trying to sooth her. “We need to get back to the reception before someone notices our absence.”

I began ushering her the final steps through the trees and onto the makeshift dance floor, but her hand tightened on my arm stopping me. “Give me two seconds,” she pleaded.

Bella looked down as if taking inventory of her appearance. “My dress?” she asked.

“You look fine,” I assured her. “Not a hair out of place.”

She inhaled and then released two deep breaths. “Okay. Let’s go.”

Circling my arms around her and pulling her body once again against me, I moved us back into position on the dance floor. All of the vampires in attendance were a little too ridge to be natural. My brother’s were still on guard, and Carlisle and Esme’s faces held obvious concern. They’d overheard the entire confrontation and were worried about Bella. With a slight nod of my head, I let them know that everything was alright.

Well as right as it could be. “Are you…” I began.

“I’m fine,” she said again. “I can’t believe I did that. What’s wrong with me?”

In typical Bella fashion, my love was accepting the blame for something that was not her fault. “Nothing is wrong with you,” I said emphasizing the you.

A change seemed to occur in her face, and a part of me was hopeful that Jacob had changed her mind about what we’d planed to attempt on our honeymoon. I should have known better.

“It’s over,” she said. “Let’s not think of it again tonight.”

Her tone was of dismissal and fake enthusiasm and I frowned. She noticed. “Edward?”

I closed my eyes and bent to touch my forehead to hers. “Jacob is right,” I whispered.” Those three words caused me physical pain to say. “What am I thinking?”

“He is not,” she said defiantly. “Jacob is way too prejudiced to see anything clearly.”

That may be the case, but that didn’t make him wrong. “I should let him kill me for even thinking about attempting something like this.”

“Stop it!” she said with venom. Her hands came up and took hold of my face, pressing until I opened my eyes to look at her. “You and me. That’s the only thing that matters. The only thing you’re allowed to think about now. Do you hear me?”

I knew it was no use arguing with her, and I didn’t want to. “Yes,” I sighed.

“Forget Jacob came. For me. Promise that you’ll let this go.”

She wanted me to promise. To forget that Jacob had once again brought to the surface all my doubts. She wanted me to promise that this day would not be tainted by the man who had tried to take her away from me even though he’s anger, his fear, was well placed.

But I would. For her. Only for her. “I promise.”

“Thank you,” she whispered. “Edward, I’m not afraid.”

“I am,” I whispered back.

“Don’t be,” she said with a self-assurance I wished I possessed. Then she took a deep breath and smiled the most beautiful smile at me. “By the way, I love you.”

There was no way I could not return her smile. “That’s why we’re here.”

We were lost in a spell that was suddenly broken by my bear of a brother. “You’re monopolizing the bride. Let me dance with my little sister. This could be my last chance to make her blush.”

I stepped aside allowing Emmett his time with her. Although I knew my family was hoping that things went well for us on our honeymoon, they all knew the risks.

Before I’d gotten far, Jessica Stanley finally got up the nerve to ask for a dance with me. It was a testament to how distracted I was since I couldn’t think of a plausible reason to deny her.

Over the course of the next hour, I quite literally danced with every female in attendance with the exception of Sue Clearwater. She was sticking close to Billy Black’s side more frightened now that her son, the lone werewolf in attendance, had left with the pack.

Eventually, I needed to feel Bella in my arms again instead of just seeing her. I needed to feel the reassurance that everything was just as it should be. That we belonged together. My world was a much better place when Bella was in my embrace.

Bella settled into my arms easily and laid her head on my hard chest. I tightened my arms around her wanting her to know through touch just exactly how lost I would be without her.

“I could get used to this,” I heard her mumble.

My shock came through in my voice at her statement. “Don’t tell me you’ve gotten over your dancing issues?”

She sighed and I felt her warm breath even through my clothes. “Dancing isn’t so bad…with you. But I was thinking more of this.” Her arms tightened around my stone body. “of never having to let you go,” she whispered.

The pleasure of those words was unbelievable to me. “Never,” I vowed bending down to capture her lips with mine.

At that moment everyone around us disappeared and became barely a hum in the back of my mind. The kiss began slowly with just a soft movement of our mouths. Bella’s body pressed into mine as her fingers came up to tangle in my hair.

Her lips pressed against mine in earnest, and I kissed her back with equal passion. My arms tightened around her as my hands began to snake up her back.

My shear bliss was interrupted by my sister’s nagging voice. “Bella! It’s time!”

I ignored her and kept kissing my Bella increasing the pressure, my love’s heart speed in response encouraging me.

Of course, my sister would not be deterred. “Do you want to miss your plane?” she asked. “I’m sure you’ll have a lovely honeymoon camped out in the airport waiting for another flight.”

Like I’d allow that to happen. I’d charter a private flight first.

I turned my face enough to speak to my sister. “Go away, Alice,” I mumbled before going right back to kissing my wife.

Alice acted as if I had not spoken. “Bella, do you want to wear that dress on the airplane?”

My sister’s voice was harsh. She was determined to part us one way or another so this time she directed her comment to me. “I’ll tell her where you’re taking her, Edward. So help me, I will.”

I froze. Alice didn’t make idol threats, and I could tell in her mind she was serious.

Easing myself away from the one person I wanted in the entire world, I glared at my sister. “You’re awfully small to be so hugely irritating.”

She stood her ground of course. “I didn’t pick out the perfect going-away dress to have it wasted,” she said grabbing Bella’s hand before either of us could reply. “Come with me, Bella.”

My love was resisting. Bella looked at me for help. And although I didn’t want her to go, I knew that the sooner she changed the faster we would be able to leave. I gave her a half smile that hopefully said how disappointed I was as well that our kiss had been cut short.

There were several giggles heard from our guests, and more than a few amused thoughts as Bella finally allowed Alice to pull her away and into the house.

As I watched Alice and Bella disappear, the male members of my family joined me.

Are you ready for this?

How are you feeling, son?

The countdown begins.

This last, of course, was from Emmett. To him my induction into manhood, as he so eloquently put it, was the only thing to focus on.

I knew Jasper could feel both the excitement and the nervousness rolling off me, but there was nothing to be done about either currently. We needed to say our goodbyes. But first, I needed to get changed myself.

Heading into the house and up the stairs, I bypassed Alice’s room where Bella was getting ready and headed to mine on the third floor. I took my time changing my clothes and made a brief stop in the bathroom to rid myself of the little bit of cake I’d ingested. Downstairs Renee was trying her best not to break down in tears in front of her daughter. For my love’s sake, I hoped Renee could keep that promise to herself. Bella didn’t need anything else to make her feel worse about marrying me and saying goodbye to her family.

Coming down the stairs from my room I overheard the conversation still occurring among the ladies. It saddened me when Bella had to skillfully avoid her mother’s invitation for us to visit.

I was waiting at the bottom of the stairs when Bella appeared. She was wearing a deep blue pants suite that fit her perfectly. Her hair was cascading down her shoulders. It took everything I had not to race up the stairs to her side.

When Bella drew close, I offered her my hand. Her fingers landed in mine with a natural ease and I wrapped my cold hand around hers before guiding her towards the crowd waiting to see us off.

Bella’s eyes began searching the crowd. “Dad?”

I leaned in. “Over here,” I said leading her to the far wall.

Charlie was not dealing with this as well as he’d hoped. He was going to miss her terribly, and I once again felt that pain in my chest at the reminder of all she was giving up for me.

Bella’s hand fell from mine as she hugged her father. “Oh, Dad!”

“There, now. You don’t want to miss your plane.”

Charlie was trying to be strong and not show his emotion. He didn’t realize just how perceptive his daughter was.

And then I heard the words that were almost my undoing from my Bella. “I love you forever, Dad. Don’t forget that.”

“You, too, Bella. Always have, always will.”

They kissed each other on the cheek, and then she stepped back beside me taking my hand once again. “Call me,” Charlie added.

“Soon,” Bella promised.

“Go on, then,” Charlie choked out. “Don’t want to be late.”

Stepping back, I guided her through the guests keeping her close to me. We moved towards the front door where the car was waiting. Before we stepped out, I leaned down to ask her one last time. “Are you ready?”

She met my eyes with conviction. “I am.”

To everyone else, the exchange would have seemed innocent enough but we both knew what I was asking. So with a final nod, we headed for the car getting covered in rice.

I tried to keep most of it from her, but with almost half our guests being vampires with perfect aim that was impossible. Emmett was personally determined to make every throw count.

Once I managed to get both of us inside the car, I headed down the drive and out to the highway.

Completely alone for the first time in almost twenty-four hours, I squeezed her hand to get her attention. I needed to know she was alright. “I love you.”

She responded by laying her head against my arm. “That’s why we’re here,” she said repeating my words from earlier.

I placed a kiss on the top of her hair and pressed down on the accelerator as we left Forks and all of its complications behind.