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Isle Esme

Summary:
For True Edward Fans. A look at the first night on Isle Esme through Edward's eyes. RATED M FOR ELOQUENT, EDWARDIAN LEMONS. CANON. EPOV. Nominated for Best Novella at the Eddie's and Bellie's Twilight Fiction Awards. Featured as an example of excellence on The Movie Fanatic's guide to the Twilight Fiction Community.


Notes:
There is a lot of pressure to do our poor, tortured Edward justice. We all love to believe he's a suave Casanova, but any fan knows that, while he is confident, he is also constantly over-reacting and doubting himself. Undoubtedly, the product of endless hours of brooding. Edward is full of reservations, particularly when it comes to Bella. Also, he is a vampire. :) Thank you to all of the reviewers that nominated Isle Esme for Best Novella: http://www.thecatt.net/tw/default.aspx


1. Chapter 1

Rating 5/5   Word Count 6949   Review this Chapter

There is something to be said for solitude in general. For me, solitude is not a method of relaxation or mediation; it is my only refuge. Refuge from the sea of voices, images and thoughts that consistently swarm inside of my head. As constant as the sunrise, each day is fresh with new assaults on my defensive barriers. I do block them, true. But that monumental task requires concentration and diligent focus. Frequently, the focus becomes so consuming that it defines me. And so, it is also just as true that for me, mental silence, which is essential to concentration, can only be obtained by placing myself in the remotest of places. And now, more than ever I needed both silence and concentration. For me. For Bella. For the inevitability of our situation.

So, for this reason I’d opted out of Alice’s grand plans for a Parisian honeymoon with Bella, Carlisle's thoughtful suggestions of Tuscany, and even Bella’s assumed preferred simple getaway to a nice Seattle hotel. And for this reason, I’d chosen Isle Esme.

Here, in secluded paradise, I could stand in the water, in the moonlight, and let down my defenses completely. Here, I could triumph over distraction and focus without feeling the consuming need to protect myself from the intrusion of others. And tonight, I would need that peace and that clarity more than I’d ever needed anything. Tonight, my success or failure was paramount, as Bella's life depended upon it. I was uncertain still, but at least in the silence, I felt more assured than I possibly could have anywhere else. And with that encouragement, I would find the courage to fulfill my end of a bargain made so long ago. A bargain made with Bella. Bella...

I closed my eyes in quiet appreciation of the feelings her name conjured within me. I smiled as I thought of a most exquisite memory: Bella on our wedding day. I chuckled at the remembered detail of her flushed cheeks. My memory was just as exquisite as the reality had been; she'd been a vision of unparalleled beauty as she’d walked towards me. I’d tried desperately to restrain from outwardly showing my deep, unyielding joy, but my resolve crumbled when our eyes met. It had seemed as if she had been searching for me. I’d been unable to hold back my ridiculous smile. Her gaze was so alive with emotion. She’d looked at me with a devoted tranquility so pure that I'd been sure then that I'd never seen anything so profound.

Caught and enraptured, for too long I’d stood there utterly lost in the message of love she’d wordlessly conveyed to me in that moment. She’d looked so beautiful, so radiant, and so confident. It was then that I’d felt the surge of the yearning, the adoration, and the passionate love for her that I hoped to harness responsibly tonight. For in our short ceremony, she’d given her word and her hand to me in marriage, fulfilling my dreams, my hopes and my deepest desires. And now - it was time for me to reciprocate.

For all she had given me, all of the joy, purpose, love and adoration, this was my one opportunity to give her what she wanted: me.

The cheer generated by my memory dissipated at that reminder. Sighing in resignation, I tried to focus on the wide, permanent Moon. It was a feeble attempt. It would be foolish to convince myself that I felt anything short of terrified. The whole situation was tragically uncertain. I needed to clear my mind. I knew exactly where my thoughts were headed; straight to my fears and anxieties. Fears and anxieties that always began with passionate pleasure and ended in a lifeless, broken Bella.

I shuddered at the image. My need for a distraction was intensified. With concentration, I forced myself to focus on both Bella's heartbeat and my most recent source of comfort of Alice’s vision.

She was even more radiant than ever as she smiled and giggled. We were together and laying in the sunshine. I was sparkling openly, but it made no difference. We were alone and we were kissing each other slowly, happily. We both looked so peaceful.

It was my wedding gift of sorts. And it was Bella.

It was over then, but I held on to it, lingering on the details Alice had brought to my attention. From the vision, it was clear that the image was from several days into our honeymoon because Bella’s usually alabaster skin had a tint of a tan to it. "You won't kill her," Alice had told me. Sourly, I'd told Alice that her visions held no guarantees. She'd rolled her eyes, knowing for certain that I'd use that vision in the future and muttered that "I'd thank her for it later." She probably saw me using it now. I barked a laugh and then immediately looked back towards the house. I hope Bella didn't hear that. I couldn't resist though.

I smiled and whispered into the silence. "Alice - if you can see me now...thank you for that vision. And, thank you for being such a fantastic sister. And now, kindly, get out of my honeymoon..." I chortled again at my own snide payback. I could only hope somehow she'd see it.

Ah, my mood was lightening. The overbearing weight of my anxiety had lifted a little, and although it wasn't as heavy as before, I could feel it slowly returning. I inhaled the fragrant ocean air once more, exhaling it in a rush of anxiety, hoping to mitigate the return of my uncertainty. It calmed me slightly. I closed my eyes again and tilted my head towards the glowing moonlight, focusing intently now on letting the strong sound of Bella's automatic life fill my world. It reverberated everything; strong and determined. But...not nervous? This unnerved me as I listened closely. Her heartbeat was faster than usual, but steady nonetheless.

I shuddered as I considered that I, the creature of immortality, might be the only party to this dangerous endeavor that had any reservations. No, surely not. Instinctively, I looked back towards the house. She had yet to emerge, but she was preparing. She had to be at least slightly nervous or anxious. This was her night.

Selfishly, I tightened my hearing, listening to not just her heartbeat, but the pattering of her soft feet on the floor of the house. At first, I heard nothing indistinguishable. But then, after several moments, slowly and gradually, I received my selfish reassurance. She was still running water, undoubtedly preparing to come and meet me. And…her heart was speeding.

I was relieved. Chuckling, I imagined her flushed expression when she would surely see Alice’s packed lingerie. I’d told Alice not to do anything to embarrass Bella, but Alice was full of snarky reassurance. She’d quite simply informed me that it was none of my business and that my intrusion on this part of their feminine agreement was rude and inappropriate. I’d glowered at her and she’d smirked back, knowing she’d had me beat. It was only later that I’d discovered they had no arrangement. Once again, what Alice wanted, Alice got. Poor Bella. If anything were to turn her off to immortality it would be Alice’s insistence on dressing her as if she were some play doll. Forever.

I heard Bella sigh and in response I snapped my head again to the house. She was taking a while. Was she more than just nervous? Was she scared? Should I run to the house to check on her? Bella's water stopped then and my own nervousness increased with anticipation. Okay, she wouldn't be long now...

I forced myself to breathe deeply. Again, as a small wave crashed against my immovable frame, I concentrated on the sensations generated by the trillions of microscopic particles of water that trickled down my body as the water passed me. “Don’t be a coward” I heard her mutter. I grinned at that. Oh, Bella. She was far from cowardly. Her little heart was flying now. So quick, in fact, that the constant thumping completely drowned out the waves pushing in from the massive ocean. I let out a breath I didn't realize I was holding. How would we make it through this? It was as if there was too much unresolved passion and tension between us; we desired one another too much.

Truly, I was confident that I could determine the range of my self-control. I knew the depth of my love for Bella, and I was perfectly aware that although the dictates of my body and my rational mind were at odds, they had agreed long ago about the inevitability of this situation. The inevitability of Bella and her needs. Needs she’d had since we’d first entered each other's lives…we could no longer wait.

Abruptly, a memory entered my mind. It was me rushing through the forest, headed away from the meadow with Bella snuggly wrapped around me. That had been right before I'd kissed her for the first time. Frowning, I chuckled at that memory. It seemed as if it were just yesterday and yet, we'd come so far. How wild I was with her, how unpracticed and undisciplined! Especially in comparison my behavior now…I'd grown tremendously in a short time. All because of Bella. How truly improved I was now.

I couldn't help but consider that thought further. One day, with practice, would making love to her be as simple as standing in her presence? At one time being near her scent alone drove me to nearly take her life, but I’d persevered. Would this be similar?

It was a question I couldn’t answer. And, truthfully, I was not entirely immune to her scent and to claim otherwise was unrealistic. Her scent still hit me, I was still aware of it, and it still teased my senses, but it was so easily conquered now compared to the force with which it had initially threatened my sanity. It was if my instinct and urge to take her blood were now only resurrected under duress, such as if I were to hunt near her. And even then...would I truly be so far gone that I would.

No, those instincts were eclipsed somehow by a rival set of instincts and desires. They were just as impulsive, just as dangerous, and just as unbridled as my thirst for her blood had been for so long after we’d fallen in love. The instinct for her body, which was not just physical. There were fierce emotions tied to that element of our relationship, bringing unrivaled intensity. My need to please Bella, to make her happy, to reward her for her patience, her unwavering loyalty and love, and her sacrifices. Perhaps the force of both the physical and emotional compulsions to pleas her were the reason behind the complete subjugation of my vampiric instincts?

Another unanswerable question. But, this was not a new consideration. I’d discovered this new reversal of instinct one night as Bella and I, once again, were pushing our boundaries in her bedroom. It had become too much and I’d pulled away, leaving her waiting, as always. As I’d regained my composure, I’d understood that no longer was the intense desire for her blood leaving me impulsively surging towards her in violent compulsions. It was the call for her body and the scent of her arousal that was pushing me now. It had become a new, curious torture; much like her had blood taunted my vampiric instincts to kill, her arousal was now taunting my lustful human desires to make her mine.

At first, the moment my brain had placed this new realization together, I’d gasped to myself and smiled a wide grin, feeling elated at the realization that somehow my thirst for her blood had been beaten back. She’d looked back at me in confusion and the moment I’d caught her eyes, I’d kissed her again, testing myself. Nothing. No new washes of venom, no stinging, or burning scorches of fire. Of course, as always, she’d then thrown herself at me kissing, touching, and pulling my hair wildly. I’d kissed her back ferociously until I’d heard her whimper. And, it was then that I’d realized my new problem.

My call for her blood was diminished, true, but replaced by this intensified need for her body; one that could threaten her life in the same way. By my loss of control. And, as soon as my grin had plastered itself on my face in elation and satisfaction, it had been replaced by my sulking frown. Bella had been thoroughly confused, undoubtedly by the rapid shift in my mood, but I’d explained that I would tell her when she’d changed. Only then would she understand. The last thing she needed was a confession that would surely encourage her further. She was already tempting enough. I'd acknowledged that it was manipulative, but she’d let it go and I'd made a promise to myself to explain to her one day.

But that night, as she’d fallen asleep, I’d begun to panic in the face of this new terror. I'd always known I could break her in a fit of passion, but I'd been able to control that side of my needs in the face of a stronger call to keep her safe, to keep her alive. This wasn’t a surprise, but a disappointment. Because, it seemed obvious to me then, as the instinct for her blood receded, this new threat grew in strength. And just as my thirst had called for her blood encouraging my teeth and venom to take her…now, my thirst for her body, my own instinctual need to feel her, love her, and make her mine surged in a similar fashion. Only their method of pursuit was not venom, but impulsive action. Impulsive action that would leave me defenseless and unaware of the demonstration or wielding of my physical strength until it was too late. It was the one final way in which I could still lose…lose myself, lose her, lose our future…

Immediately, I’d sought Carlisle that night after she’d fallen asleep. He’d been amazed by the new revelation when I’d told him that I’d felt an odd immunity begin to form, protecting me against the force of her singing blood. He’d delighted in hearing this news knowing that it meant I would have less of a challenge in being with her. And then, he’d sensed something was wrong. I’d told him then of my concerns and he’d even admitted to me that it was always, by far, his greatest fear. He’d admitted to believing all along that I was strong enough, good enough to resist her blood, but dealing with my strength was an entirely new problem. One he’d never truly wanted to explore with me as he’d known I understood my own nature and did not wish to add to my worries.

Such was the reality then…and now. I didn’t want to drink her into lifelessness as my dormant instincts urged. But now, I could simply kill her by pure accident. One slip…one careless slip…

My breath was quickening with anxiety and I frowned at my own idiocy. This was not negotiable. Worrying was senseless. I’d made her a guarantee. I could do this…I could. I had a duty to her…and, I wanted her too…it was only right, only natural now that we were now together...husband and wife...forever…she’d given me so much, surely, I was not so selfish that I could control myself in such a way to give her the one thing she wanted besides standing by my side for eternity…

As if to rescue me, I heard her walk from the landing into the sand where she stopped. Thank you, Bella. She was rustling something and I froze. Was she undressing? I wasn’t sure. I didn’t want to turn; she would need her privacy as well. But, I could still imagine her soft feet stuck in the sand, her long legs ascending higher to her hips and her tiny waist…

So quickly, she was walking again and I reeled to move away the emotions, thoughts and memories as I prepared to meet her. No longer negotiable, I told myself. I took a deep breath and glanced up at the silent Moon, praying for that heavenly being to provide me with the strength that I needed for Bella. I would do anything for her, anything to keep her safe, and anything to hold on to my control.

Perhaps I was drawing the wrong conclusions? Surely, it was true I desired her more than I should, but I was also strong - I could be strong for her in this way, couldn’t I? I glanced down at the water hoping then that if I could hold still, steadfast, and true against the breaking tide of a giant ocean, propelled with force by the dictates of the silent Moon, so giant and so absolute, that I couldhold fast now.

Sighing quietly, I placed my hands along the top of the moving water and closed my eyes in anticipation as I heard her take her first tiny step into the water. Before I could even feel her warmth, she glided towards me, sending her scent, heavy and warm floating around us. There was a faint trickle of venom, but nothing more. It disintegrated in my mouth entirely on its own. Surely that was something.

I heard her heart then, also wild and unrestrained. She came to an unstable stop next to me and I immediately relaxed further in her calming presence. She felt so good standing next to me, with me. The left side of my body became warmer with her presence. I didn’t look at her yet, as I was still partially absorbed in my own quiet musings, bargaining in vain with the Moon.

“Beautiful…” She muttered as her small hand reached out to me. She placed it silently on the top of mine. For some reason her word triggered in my memory again my comforting image from Alice's mind of Bella lying with me on the sand. Her long mahogany hair twisted wet and wild around her shoulders, her eyes, so wide and trusting looking into mine. That was beauty.

“It’s all right,” I murmured, slowly reaching for her hand. The focused on the sensations of her wet skin against mine as our fingers wrapped.

I felt her body shift in the sand. The impulse to help her surged, but I refrained, fearful that I would embarrass her, or myself. We were both modest by nature and for the first time, we were both nude in the presence of one another. The realization again sent a wash of anxiety and excitement through me. But, truthfully, I was desperate to see her, desperate to compare that image to her now. Slowly, I turned towards her, longing for the strength I hoped I could find from her eyes. I steadied myself, refusing to allow my instincts for her body to stray my eyes downward. I had nothing to worry about.

As soon as our gaze met, I was taken back again by her staggeringly beautiful and wide expression that was filled with with trust for me. Her soft, pale skin glowed wonderfully in the moonlight. The hot shower had turned her warm, moist skin an even brighter shade of pink. Beautiful Bella. There was no comparison.

“But, I wouldn’t use the word beautiful,” I amended, restraining myself from reaching out to touch her soft pink cheek. ”Not with you standing here in comparison.”

She smiled a sweet, loving smile and shifted a little towards me. Her hand rose from underneath the water as she watched her own hand rest on my chest. A steady stream of warm water cascaded down my body and I shuddered at the sensation. Her warmth, her beauty, the water, it was all so much. I wanted desperately to close my eyes, to relish the memory, but I couldn’t look away from her eyes. There was something else in them - they were confident.

A rush of gratitude flooded me. I was terrified; she knew it, but her eyes weren't wavering from mine in the slightest. I felt the need to speak to her, reassure her that I was under control and would need her help in maintaining restraint. I couldn't do it without her. I took an unsteady breath.

“I promised we would try.” I whispered, unsure if my shaky tone was apparent in her ears, “If…if I do something wrong, if I hurt you, you must tell me at once.”

She nodded in quiet reassurance and intensified her gaze on mine acknowledging that she understood my fear, my torturous resignation, and my careful resolve. I felt her body shift again as she took a step towards me, her foot pushing into the sand. As her body pulled closer to mine, the warmth and her scent enveloped the space between us entirely, sending desire and want surging within me. Her heart was thudding loudly, louder than I’d ever heard it. Should tell her how terrified I was? I didn’t want to ruin the moment, but it was only right that she know.

Before I could speak, slowly, with her right hand over my heart and her small left hand still in my fingers, she moved forward another inch and laid her head on my chest. I closed my eyes at the sensations generated by her closeness. The gesture was staggeringly genuine. It felt more intimate than anything I had ever experienced. She was so brave…I would never forgive myself if I hurt her…

“Don’t be afraid,” She murmured. “we belong together.”

The sincerity, the affection, and the staggering truth of her words rang in my ears. I suddenly felt the need to hold her closer, pull her closer, but I hesitated. I wanted to touch her so badly, but if I began to give in to my impulses now, could I stop? But, on the other hand, if I could not touch her now, like this, with affection and sincerity, could I even do what I would eventually want and need to do?

I had no true choice. I had to trust her. I had to try to trust myself.

Slowly, I moved my arm and placed it directly beneath her shoulder. I kept my other hand intertwined in hers. And, I held her. Close, closer than ever before. She was all I’d ever wanted and in that moment I understood her pleas of immortality. The very idea of spending a moment of my existence without her was crushingly intolerable. I resisted against the urge to release the flow of words that were desperate to leave me and settled on the one word I knew she wanted to hear above all others.

“Forever.” I agreed.

In response to my acknowledgement her pulse quickened infinitesimally, thudding loudly in my ears. It was not a nervous sound; it was in response to the absolution conveyed through my statement. An unspoken truce reached, right here, in this moment. She sighed contentedly into my chest. The sound was so reassuring. Overcome by the enormity of our love, the gravity of the situation, and the unforgivable desire I had for her, I moved back slightly into the water with her pressed close to me. As I took those first two steps, she looked up from my chest and smiled another sweet smile before she wrapped her hands around my back.

I loved the feeling of her hands on me, of her body so close, so intimate. I wanted to kiss her. The skin of her shoulders glistened and glowed in the beautiful, soft moonlight. She looked up at me again and in fascination, I watched her lips part slightly in anticipation. I leaned down and gave in, kissing her sweetly. I was in control, but I still paused for a second, searching her eyes before moving my lips against hers again. She was alert and willing to walk me through this. And, for once, she didn’t push me further. She was restraining herself.

I touched her lips with mine again and didn’t break our sweet kissing as I continued to take careful steps backwards, dragging us deeper into the calming water. I steadied my grip on her body and kissed her a little harder as I caught sight of her wild hair around us, now partially floating in the ocean. I had the fleeting desire to reach out and pull it to my mouth so I could taste and smell its luxurious scent. But I didn’t want to break away from her mouth.

Her feet left the ocean floor and I loved that she was entirely dependent on me for our course, trusting me to go at my own pace. We roamed a little deeper and she pressed herself further to me and changed her position without breaking our kiss. She wrapped her arms around my neck, clasping her warm hands into my hair. My breath hitched against her mouth as she pulled our bodies completely parallel, closing the distance between us entirely. I opened my eyes, sure of what she must have felt then. She met my gaze and her beautiful eyes widened at the feel of my arousal pressing against her bare skin. Shyness washed over me for a second, but I pushed it away. There would be no room for that now.

And then, so quick for a human, she pushed her mouth into mine further. I kissed her back gentler than I wanted to, but my restraint had the opposite effect on her and her kisses grew desperate. She whimpered into my mouth and I relented slightly as I slid my hand from her shoulder to her hair, tangling its soft strands into my fingers. I pulled her closer, deepening our kiss, and pushing her further against my arousal. I'd wanted her to feel it for so long. Her soft breasts were pressed against my chest and I ached to touch them, to see them, to taste her skin there. If her lips tasted this wonderful…

My breathing picked up in concert with hers as I struggled to rationalize around this new intense instinct. I was in control, but I still had the fleeting, dangerous impulse to lift her from the water underneath to bring this new, undiscovered skin to my lips so that I could taste her, kiss her and touch her how I wished. I shook the thought away with an unnecessary flick of my head and she didn’t seem to notice. But those urges just proved I would need to exercise better control. I knew this, and yet it was so difficult to focus on controlling anything with her next to me this way. I could feel every inch of her palpatating skin. Her curves molded to me and the hot rhythm of her pulse shook me with every strike, holding a beat I wanted to move in time with. I slowed down, steadying our pace as my inclination to follow the song intensified. Intead, I was patient and kissed her slowly and sweetly as we floated in the warm water.

And then suddenly, in a movement meant to satiate her desire to be closer to me, I felt her shift her weight and tighten her pull against my hair. She bounded a little upwards as if she were hopping…no…

She was going to try to wrap her legs around my waist and...I wanted her to. I saw it as if it were reality flash in my mind - the feeling of the warm water would be even more pleasant and she surely wouldn't get cold. Bella was halfway towards completing her hop as my delayed impulse-driven imagination conjured a second spectacular image. I could see it with vivid clarity: Bella’s head thrown back in ecstasy as I kissed her breasts, sucking her soft skin, her long wet hair tangled in my hands as it clung to her back, and her moans and cries as I slowly entered her warm body for the first time

No…not here…not this way…

I nearly groaned in restraint, but I shook my head again, dispelling the images. I held her closer, feeling my stronger desire intensify against her body. I told myself it was the best method of keeping her stationary. She sighed, either aware that I'd delayed her intentions, or silently acquiescing to my admonishment. I realized then that we were crossing too many barriers too quickly and suddenly my midnight swim idea seemed a little foolish. I had completely removed any advantage I would have had by slowly removing her clothing, taking my time, and concentrating on each step diligently, enabling myself to constantly assess my ability to control my urges and my strength. It seemed now that I had irresponsibly thrown myself headfirst into an irreversible course, only making this task, which I desperately wanted to be successful, even more difficult.

I broke away from her kissing and stretched my neck back slightly. Carefully, I steadied her with my right hand and she pulled away, sensing my reticence. The look on her face was stunning. I wrapped my hand around right cheek to cement her expression to memory thorougly. I almost groaned again at the sight of her desire for me. She was ready. Her eyes were heavily lidded and lustful. She seemed unfocused and distant. Her pillowy lips were swollen and soft in the moonlight. My entire being ached to be near her in every possible way.

“Bella…” I stroked her cheek. She seemed to blink and focus. “Bella, we must take this slowly. I think we should go inside. Do you agree?” I breathed, barely able to control my new found strength from breaking and cracking into a thousand pieces. She nodded, unable to speak. She was so strong, so trusting. She met her lips to mine as I began to move. Her mouth felt so wonderful and warm and I let the heat and the beat of her heart reverberate through my entire body. I could not force myself to break our kiss as I walked from the ocean. I was still in control and the power was gratifying for now. I would hold on to it. I can do this, I told myself. I can assuage her need, our need...

I took diligent steps toward the small outer landing of the house one at a time, moving upwards against the slightly sloping sand, stepping in time with her heart. I did not need to open my eyes to sense the entrance of the doorframe and as I crossed it, but there was something symbolic in the movement. As if I needed to focus on the sobering responsibility that came with this permanent step. The reminder that there was no turning back hit me hard, but it did not intensify my fear. Only my determination.

The strong, warm breeze from the ocean blew against my back as I took another calculated step through the door, entering the large, white room. Another breeze. And then, another. The air was warm and fragrant, providing temporary refreshment from the power of her luxurious scent, which became stronger as we continued to enjoy the new sensations and the intimacy between us.

As soon as I was in the room, the low light of the bedroom seeped through, but I still could not open my eyes. I didn’t want to stop kissing her, the wonderful sensations I was feeling in response to our passionate intimacy were incredible. The warmth of everything took over my entire experience. Her hands were all over my hair, pulling against me softly as I moved towards the bed. She moved her soft lips to my neck and those quick impulses to take her as mine, that instinctual need to claim her as my love surged at the feeling of her against me in such a way. I had to push them back. We both needed time; otherwise the passion could lead to senseless abandon. Heedless acquiescence was akin to taking her on the hunt. Unrestrained and dangerous.

I reached the bed and deliberated on how best to situate her. It was a dilemma I'd failed to consider. I would either have to set her flat on her feet and forgo the overwhelming pleasurable feeling of her next to me, or I would have to alter my hold on her soft, warm body in order to pull her legs up and lay her down. The latter course of action would do more damage to my restraint. I would see her entire naked form, pale, delicate, throbbing. Her heightened scent would crash over me, surging me forward. Could I handle that yet? My uncertainty was frightening.

I needed to act however, so I chose the former. I would restrain myself from looking, because if I were to do this, I would need her eyes to keep my focus, and I would need to work slowly.I broke away from her kiss and she opened those exquisite brown lashes, unveiling for me a gaze that burned with lust. She blinked, the desire in her eyes pulled back slightly as she gazed at me.I had her attention. Slowly, and without breaking our eyes, I set her down. As her feet touched the warm floor, she gasped softly in anticipation.

I took in a breath that was too ragged, the sound of it in my ears made me feel ridiculous. Did she sense my fear, my insecurity?

“Bella…” I hoped my voice did not sound to her as a plea.

“Edward…we'll go slow...” she whispered. Her eyes were strong, encouraging. I would never forget their look, especially if I hurt her, or lost cont-…

“Edward,” she whispered again, interrupting my thoughts. “Please, don’t worry. We will go slow.” As she spoke, she removed her right hand from its grasp around my neck, placing her hand on my left cheek.

“It’s okay.” She breathed, reaching on her toes to kiss me again, soft and firm.

I shuddered at the warmth of her touch, the tenderness in her gesture. With her support, I could do this. I nodded my head and grinned at her sweet encouragement. She did sense my nervousness.

“I know, love. Thank you.” I whispered, as I kissed her eyelids, feeling more thankful than ever that she was mine.

It was time. With a deep breath, I took her lips against mine again and wrapped my arm around the length of her back as my other braced against the bed. In one long glide, I angled her across the soft sheets, pulling her with me. I settled her on her back and laid at her side, and immediately it felt as if our bodies were stuck together: hot and cold. As we kissed, she began to run her tongue along the edge of my lips and I moaned quietly at the sensation. The warmth sent tingling sensations down my face and throat. The heat of her was incredible, delightful. And her scent...with her so close, so many desires swirled in a chaotic storm of need.

We kissed tenderly, each of us dedicated to our new found patience. Nevertheless, we were boiling with lust beneath the surface. I could feel it in our touch, in our lips, in our breathing, which even for me was becoming erratic and deep. I wanted her badly, but I wanted to go slowly. And what now? She would wait for my cue.

Without another thought, I kissed her deeper knowing she wanted more, breaking the careful tenderness she'd established, relishing the way her mouth still molded against my hard lips. I wrapped my arms around her tiny waist, around her back and pulled myself closer towards her. She moaned at the feeling of my arousal against her hip and I groaned back in anticipation as the warmth of her mouth and the intensity of our mutual desire seemed to permeate our kiss and our touch. I wanted to be inside of her. The urge was natural and it would be so pleasurable. She grasped my neck anxiously and I became weak with passion, fear, anxiety, want, desire. There were too many emotions, too many things to consider, too much to concentrate on. As if she sensed my conflict she grasped my hair tightly and pulled my head towards her. I wanted to touch her and there was no better time to begin.

I moved my hand down from her neck and touched the rise of her skin at her shoulder. She pushed herself forward again and kissed me harder. In a fit of instinct, I could no longer hold back the urge to look at her. I steadied myself and opened my eyes as I pulled away from her mouth. My imagination had entertained the thought of her bare hundreds of times in various states of undress, but there was no comparison. The moonlight cast a glow on her body and as I turned my eyes downward, I was able to truly appreciate her beauty for the first time. She was so soft and perfect, curved and feminine. My breathing stopped as I took her in. She was mine.

Officially, irrevocably and eternally. She was my wife, my mate forever. A fit of possessiveness struck me, encouraging me to touch her, kiss her, taste her again now. She belonged to me and I wanted to claim her as mine. She sighed as I began to kiss her with firm, purposeful kisses. I wanted every part of her on me, with me, next to me. I kissed her harder and she pulled even closer. Still it was not enough and I needed to touch more of her. She must have been feeling the same way because as soon as I moved my arm underneath her to free my other, she pulled herself even closer to me, providing me access in any way that I wanted. And I wanted access to her.

Carefully, I allowed myself to continue to kiss her neck, taking my time, with breaths between each kiss. But, I was still all over her, unable to refrain from feeling and tasting her beautifully crafted jawline and soft skin of her ear to the line of her neck. Her skin was so fine, it seemed etched in ivory as she extended it backwards for my pleasure. I sucked and tasted her skin slowly and greedily, gasping at her flavor and scent. She moaned when my tongue teased her skin. Everything about her consumed all of my faculties and I could concentrate on nothing but her body and her warmth and her sounds.

I kissed her shoulder as she arched her back, willing me to continue. The faster pulse of her vein inspired a small trickle of venom that I dissipated immediately. My desire for her, on the other hand, was intensifying even further as I began aching for her. Her pulse was driving me forward, encouraging me to surrender to that rhythm of her. Her life force demanding that I succumb to her. I stayed firm, though.

I moved down to her collarbone again and I shuddered against her skin as she sighed once more, so unsteadily. She wrapped her hands into my hair even tighter and began to push me downward. I looked up at her, to assess if she was still stable and breathing. She was so flushed. And I was shocked to see that she was watching my every movement through lidded eyes. I continued, moving down slightly so that my hands and my eyes were now focused on her body. The life underneath my fingertips pulsed in small rises with each beat of her heart.

As I came to a carefully calculated stop with my hand just barely touching her breast, I found myself immediately absorbed and fascinated by the new beauty that was this fresh, succulent skin. The way the soft tip of her breast rose discreetly from its base infatuated me. My hand shook a little as I traced from her collarbone to her tender peak, completely awed by the slight tremors created by the thud of her mysterious, beautiful heart. The heat of her skin warmed my fingers and I shuddered with restraint. She gently arched her back again into my touch as I continued to trace her. I resisted each urge to grasp her breasts and bring them to my mouth. I wanted to show her I'd wanted this for so very long. But I focused.

Her gesture of enjoyment encouraged my desires for her, but I had to proceed. I concentrated on touching her silky skin again carefully, absorbing the motions with my hand. The vibrations were so incredible and I shivered as the reverberating warmth moved from my fingertips to my shoulder. The rhythm was intensified when my full hand was on her completely. It was life.

She began to sigh more frequentely as I moved my hand to the soft bud of her breast. I touched this new, intriguing texture with my fingertips. I found myself in awe of this skin, which was different than any other part of her. She whimpered again and I closed my eyes at the sound. It was pleasurable for her too.

I continued to trace her skin with just the slightest pressure. She enjoyed that immensely and I memorized the touch and feel of this skin. It puckered under my finger so easily. So fragile and dainty. If this new skin, this new uncharted territory felt so wonderful, I could only imagine what she tasted like.