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August 13th

august_13.png For Kayla Ariev picture by midnight-marauder
The day has come for a wedding and one last human experience. Takes place after Eclipse.

ATTENTION READERS: DO NOT STEAL MY STORIES. Someone copied this story word for word and posted it as if it were their own on fanfiction.net. This is called plaigarism. It's also known as STEALING. Don't f-ing do it. I worked hard on this story, as I work hard on all my stories. I don't get paid for it, but I'd like to get credit for it. Stealing my story and posting it elsewhere under your name (even a pen name) is ILLEGAL and WRONG. If you hadn't guessed, I am pissed off about this happening. I would like to thank a very nice reader who spotted the stolen story on the other website and brought it to my attention. I am working to ammend the situation. In the meantime, don't steal my stuff!!! SPOILER ALERT!!! This takes place after Eclipse.

1. Chapter 1

Rating 5/5   Word Count 4876   Review this Chapter

* * *

I stared at myself in the full-length mirror, enamored with the reflection I saw looking back at me. It was unfamiliar. The girl – no, woman – in the reflection was pretty and made-up in a cream-colored gown. The dress clung perfectly to my frame – the satin neckline scooping across my chest and tucking in at my waist. The chiffon sleeves fell over my arms just past my elbow, a soft puff – it wasn’t a modern style, but neither was the dress. From my hips, layers of more satin and chiffon and lace fell in cascades. The dress swished and flowed; it was like water – each movement fluid and graceful. I had not chosen the dress, but it was perfect. I could not have found a dress as perfect on my own and, since I’d agreed to this whole wedding thing, I was now very glad I had given Alice the reigns to plan everything. Including this dress. It made me feel different; more mature, more grown-up. But it also felt right. I didn’t feel like a girl playing dress-up. I was a woman in her wedding gown, ready and prepared to walk down the aisle.

My eyes traveled the reflection some more. I looked at my thin wrist, where the charm bracelet dangled – a red wolf on one end; a diamond heart on the other – heavier than the other charm, weighting down the chain just a little. My neck, I’d left bare – and Alice had swept my hair up loosely. Soft tendrils fell out randomly, but the way Alice had pinned everything it did not look messy. Just romantic, in a style from a time gone by. Tucked into the back were tiny, peach-colored baby roses. Finally, I looked at the face in the mirror. It was familiar, yes, but different. I’d allowed Alice to put makeup on me. But to my utter surprise and delight, she had not gone overboard. It was soft and subtle – but it made my features look so different. More defined, yet softer – enhancing the natural blush of my cheeks and the pink in my lips. My eyelashes were already long, but the mascara (waterproof – thanks, Alice) gave them emphasis. Slowly, it dawned on me – this beautiful reflection in the mirror really was me.

And I was getting married. Holy crap.

Of course, I’d been expecting this day – anticipating it for the last several weeks of the unusually cool, gloomy summer (even for Forks). For so long I’d resisted this arrangement, but I’d eventually come to see things differently. So I’d been looking forward to it, in a small way. This was my choice – and the wedding was a way for me to share this choice with my friends and family before I vanished.

Charlie was still a little peeved (he’d been furious, when I first told him) but I could tell he was also excited. He’d been jumpy for the last 36 hours, practicing the words he was required to say during the ceremony – reading them to himself in the bathroom mirror when he thought I couldn’t hear. He’d pressed his suit several times already and I was pretty sure the seams wouldn’t last through much more pressure from his iron. And he’d been fussing about me spending my last night as a single woman at home. I didn’t mind; in fact, part of me agreed. It sort of added to the romance of the wedding. Especially a wedding as old-fashioned as the one Alice was planning. That was not for my benefit; I didn’t care what kind of a wedding I had. But she and I both knew it would mean the world to Edward, even if he didn’t say so.

Renee had griped only mildly about the wedding. She’d lectured me plenty growing up about not rushing into something like marriage … I assured her that her lessons had not been ignored. I asked her to trust me; to trust that I really was doing the right thing. And, begrudgingly, she relented.

I had not been dreading this day. But even as it arrived, I felt nervous. Only because it meant the rest of my life would begin soon. Edward and I would marry today. Tonight, we would try. And before my 19th birthday next month, Edward would kill me and turn me into a vampire. It was practically perfect, all things considered.

A soft knock at the door interrupted my thoughts. It couldn’t be Alice, she’d left to finish setting things up at the church once she’d finished my primping. And it couldn’t be Edward; he wasn’t allowed to see me now until the ceremony. Renee and Phil were meeting us at the church. It left only one other person.

“Come in,” I said, and smiled as I turned to meet my father.

He stopped as he stepped into the room and for a moment, I think, he stopped breathing. His eyes glittered with sudden moisture as he looked me up and down – much as I’d done to my reflection just a moment ago. “Oh Bella,” he said. “You’re all grown up. You are so beautiful.”

My smile grew, spread full across my cheeks. I was careful not to tear my dress as I walked across the room, arms out to embrace him. He caught me up in a tight hug – his arms stronger around me than I’d expected. He kissed my hair, regardless of the care Alice had put into fixing it earlier, and sniffled loudly. I heard him swallow a sob, then take a deep breath and pull back. His hands rested on my shoulders as he took another good, long look at me – as if making sure he remembered every little detail about my appearance. This was the goodbye he’d been anticipating and I think part of him knew our time together was running out. The moments left would be brief.

“Well,” he said, finally. “I guess we’d better get going. But I think there’s someone downstairs who wants to see you before we go.” He smiled sadly and led me out the door. He hovered behind me as we walked down the stairs, probably afraid I would trip and fall and break my neck and miss my wedding. But I was careful as I took each step – the one item of my wedding wardrobe I’d insisted upon was flat shoes; Alice had obliged with custom ballet slippers – and hoisting my layers of skirts up indecently high, to make sure I could see the stairs and wouldn’t trip on the fabric.

I heard a chuckle from the doorway as I came down the last few steps. I looked up to see a large teenage boy filling the kitchen, arms crossed across his broad chest. He was wearing a suit and tie, his hair combed neatly back. “I thought brides were supposed to be graceful,” he said.

I glowered, setting down my dress and straightening the skirts now that I’d completed the stairway obstacle course. “Well it wouldn’t do for me to fall and hurt myself on my wedding day.”

“Yes, you might have to call the whole thing off –.“ He stopped when he caught my eye and raised his hands in apology. “Sorry. Old habits.” He smiled then, kindly. “You look really beautiful, Bella.”

“Thanks Jake. I’m glad you came.” From the corner of my eye, I watched my father slip outside to give us some privacy.

“I’m not staying.”

“I know. That’s okay.”

“I just wanted to see you before … and to remind you that you’ve still got another option.”

I shook my head. “I promised I wouldn’t leave him at the altar. And I really don’t want to do that, anyway.”

Jake nodded, sadly. It seemed that he’d expected my response. He was not surprised, but I admired his unwillingness to let hope die. It was something I loved about him – his constant hope and optimism. “I still love you, Bells,” he said.

I smiled. “I know. I love you, too.” I just loved someone else more; but I didn’t need to remind Jake of that. He already knew. Outside, the horn on Charlie’s cruiser honked loudly. I laughed. “I guess I have to go.”

“Yeah,” Jake said, scuffling his feet and looking down. “You wouldn’t want to be late to your own wedding.” He stepped aside to let me pass, but I surprised him when I threw my arms around his waist and hugged him tightly. It might be the last time I could; I wasn’t sure. I had caught him off guard, but after a moment, he returned the gesture, squeezing back. “Won’t he be mad when you show up smelling like werewolf?”

I grinned as I pulled back. “He’ll understand.” Smiling at him one last time, I turned and walked out to join Charlie in the car.

* * *

With my arm locked in Charlie’s, I didn’t hear the music. I moved forward when he did, trusting him to keep rhythm. No, all I heard was the thrumming of my heart – each beat counting down the time I had left. A pulse in my head. I looked around at the faces staring back at me as Charlie led me down the aisle. My mother and Phil where already at the front; and I could tell Renee was already crying. On the other side, were Esme and Carlisle. In other rows and seats were my friends from high school – Angela and Ben and Mike and Jessica and some others I hadn’t known so well, but who’d been invited, anyway. They all seemed so confused; after all, I hadn’t seemed the type to run off and get married just two months after graduating high school. Some other, distant relatives I didn’t really know where also there. And some of my dad’s friends – other cops and Sue Clearwater and Billy Black. Finally, I forced my eyes to the front of the church, where the priest waited patiently. On one side, were my bridesmaids – Alice and Rosalie (it had been my way of offering a truce) – and on the other side, Jasper and Emmett stood beside Edward.

Edward. He always seemed to dazzle me, but the look on his face at this time would have stopped me in my tracks if it hadn’t been for Charlie, pulling me along. Edward positively glowed as he watched me come down the aisle. I saw him smile when a deep blush rose up my cheeks and my heartbeat quickened in my chest.

My hands were sweating as Charlie pulled my arm from his and passed me over to Edward (muttering something about “I give this woman”); but as soon as his cold hands clasped mine, the sweating stopped. The trembling that I’d been fighting since Charlie had begun walking me down the aisle ceased. I was instantly relaxed by Edward’s touch. I felt his breath in my ear as he murmured, “As a vampire, I didn’t think it was possible … but Bella, you’ve stolen my breath away.” He kissed my ear, and then straightened up – the picture of a perfect gentleman groom.

With Edward holding onto me, I was only vaguely aware of what happened during the ceremony. I repeated the necessary words and made the necessary motions – placing the ring on his finger and holding my hand as steady as possible while he returned the gesture. And then, we were kissing. In a church. In front of all our friends and relatives and even some people we didn’t really know very well – kissing, right there in front of everyone. But it was okay – because the priest had told us to, had declared us man and wife – even though Edward and I both knew we were so much more. This kiss was different from the others we’d shared; it held the promise of something more and in that instant all I wanted was a room alone in the dark with Edward.

But that would have to wait. Pulling away, carefully as always, Edward looked down at me and grinned. Then he grabbed my hand and we practically ran back down the aisle and into daylight.

* * *

For someone who didn’t eat food, Alice had planned a very lovely dinner menu for the reception. Edward only mildly picked at his plate, pushing pieces of filet mignon and broccoli florets and summer potatoes around his plate to make it look like he’d eaten something. I, however, devoured mine – I was still human, after all; still needed sustenance and might as well enjoy the fine feast before me, while I still could. It was my wedding, after all. I could do whatever I wanted.

After dinner, were the toasts. Alice, my maid of honor, talked about how happy she was to have another sister. Emmett, Edward’s best man, repeated a similar sentiment – and added how much I seemed to have improved his brother’s life. “He’s much less grumpy now that you’re around, Bella,” he said. Carlisle and Esme talked about how much Edward had changed for the better since meeting me. They talked about how happy they were we’d found each other and they wished us an eternity of bliss.

Renee said she still couldn’t believe her baby had gotten married. “I warned her about this,” she said. “But she seems to think she knows better … and I think she probably does. She always did.”

And then Charlie – the father of the bride – stood and raised his glass. I was nervous about Charlie’s toast. We hadn’t really discussed it, though I’d tried. I’d asked him to please, be nice and he just told me to bugger off and mind my own business. He said he’d be perfectly polite and that he only got to give a toast at his only daughter’s wedding once and he wanted to do it right and I should never mind worrying about it. But I also knew how much Charlie didn’t like Edward and I couldn’t forget the deep shade of purple his face had turned when we first told him about the engagement. Standing now with his glass raised, I kept waiting for the vermillion to return to his cheeks, but it didn’t come. Instead, it looked like he was holding back tears. He coughed into his hand. “Bella … I’ve watched you grow up. Always so stubborn, so clumsy, so strong-willed … and I’ve loved you for every second. Even when you got on my very last nerve. And when you met Edward … you changed. You were still stubborn, clumsy and strong-willed,” he said, glancing down at a crumpled piece of paper, on which he’d scribbled the words he didn’t want to forget. “But you became stronger, prouder and more confident. I’ve never seen you walk so tall as today, Bells. And I’ve never been as proud of you as I am now – and I’ve never loved you so much. As a father, you always want to hold onto your little girl … to protect her from the world. But you’re all grown up now, Bella, so I can’t keep holding on. Edward, I’m asking you to watch over her for me now.”

“I will,” Edward said, softly, so that only Charlie and I could hear him.

“To Bella and Edward,” Charlie said, raising his glass higher. “I wish you both everything you could ever hope for.”

Across the room, glasses clinked and the crowd was quiet for a moment as everyone swallowed their champagne. I noticed my underage friends glancing at each other nervously; drinking in front of grown-ups, I imagine, they all felt rather scandalous and bold.

When the toast was done, someone announced that it was time for the bride and groom’s first dance. A song I was only vaguely familiar with began to play as Edward tugged me toward the dance floor. He knew I was wary about this part, but I had agreed to it because he’d asked nicely. I knew the first dance was important to Edward; he’d chosen the song on his own. With guitar strings thrumming an easy rhythm, Edward clasped his arm around my waist and took my hand in his. In his embrace, I felt much more confident – even as he began to move with the song.

Love of mine, someday you will die …

But I’ll be close behind, and I'll follow you into the dark …

... just our hands clasped so tight ...

“Just follow,” he whispered in my ear. And when I did just that, it was quite simple. We swayed together and in his arms, with his breath in my ear, I forgot that there were many sets of eyes watching us. “… if there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks … Then I’ll follow you into the dark …” Edward murmured in my ear, his velvety smooth voice matching the lyrics.

“Interesting choice,” I said, listening more closely to the words as he sang along.

“Perhaps a bit ironic,” he replied. “But truthful, nonetheless.” Listening more closely, I couldn’t agree more. We’d already proven the words true.

Relaxing in his arms, I closed my eyes and let my head rest against his shoulder. “I could stay here forever,” I said, sighing.

Beneath my cheek, I felt him chuckle lightly. “Me too,” he said, and we swayed some more as the music played on. We danced into the night, the sky darkening outside and the stars beginning to twinkle above. Slowly, the evening reached its December. Our guests expressed their well wishes and went on their way. And as the moon faded as the late-night clouds moved in from the coast, blanketing the inland with their cover, our families began tidying up the reception area. Gathering up tablecloths and gifts and empty glasses. Still, I remained in Edwards arms, just moving with him. And he held me. Until Alice finally came and shooed us out the door.

“Go home,” she said. “We’re not coming with you tonight.”

* * *

The Cullen house was empty. Joyously, pleasantly empty. Inside, Edward scooped me up and carried me up the stairs to his room, where the iron bed loomed – its blankets and pillows so tempting, though not for sleep.

Alone, finally, in the dark, I turned to him. “Can I undress myself yet?” I asked coyly.

“No,” he said, grinning. “I want to do that part.”

Obligingly, I turned, and grasped onto the bed post, exposing the hooks and loops running down my back. He came up behind me and I felt his cold hands clasp around my waist. His breath tickled my skin before his lips pressed down on the hollow where my neck met my shoulder. As he kissed my flesh, I remembered why I’d wanted my hair up and my neck bare – this was why. As he kissed my neck and collarbone, his hands slowly moved to the bindings on my dress, carefully unhooking each closure down my back. When the last loop had been freed, I felt his icy hands on my waist – on my actual flesh. His hands wrapped around me inside the dress and I let out a squeal when he spun me around so that we were once again facing each other.

His hands seemed to be everywhere at once – walking up the bare skin of my back, running down my waist and hips, tracing up my torso to my collar and neck, into my hair. He leaned down, his hands still a blur, and we kissed. It wasn’t like our other kisses. This one was different; it had purpose – passion and fire and utter want. I felt my knees buckle, but Edward had already firmly grasped my waist – pressing me against him – so I didn’t fall. He scooped me up and laid me gently on the bed.

I stifled a whimper as he pulled away from me, but then I saw the twinkle in his golden eyes and that crooked smile I loved so much. His hands wandered down my legs, pushing up the layers of skirts. Deftly, he flicked off my shoes, then let his hands trace the curve of my leg, up toward my thigh – where the garter had never been removed. It was a tradition we’d ignored at the wedding. Now, alone in the dark, he slid it down and off my leg, then brought his hand back to rest on my bare thigh, tracing lazy circles on the skin there.

I was almost dizzy when he brought his face back to mine, pressing our lips together again. But slowly, I willed my hands into action -- tugging at the tie around his neck and fumbling open the buttons on his shirt. He straightened up, pulling me with him. He straddled my legs and pushed his hands into my hair, undoing the careful pinning Alice had attended to earlier that day. I didn’t care. I took this opportunity to push his shirt and jacket off his shoulders. He obliged, and shrugged his arms out of the garments, then quickly brought his hands back to my face and neck and sides and back. He kissed my mouth, then my chin, then the hollow at the base of my neck – tracing more kisses down my chest until he reached the fabric of my dress. He sighed, frustrated, and pushed off the bed and onto his feet, pulling me with him. I knew what he was after and raised my arms above me, as he carefully pulled the dress over my head. He laid it aside, carefully. “I really do love this dress, Bella.”

I smiled. “Alice picked it out.”

“But you agreed to wear it.”

“I liked it … and I knew you would, too.”

He turned his attention back to me. In the moonlight, I felt quite pale – even compared to Edward’s sculpted marble chest. I watched him eagerly take in my nearly naked form. His eyes traced over each line and curve of my body. He held my hand and kissed my wrist, then my elbow, then my shoulder and then the soft curve of my breast, peeking above the complicated undergarments I’d worn beneath my wedding dress. Edward pulled back and surveyed the obstacle course between him and my flesh.

“Hmm,” he said. “These look tricky … I imagine Alice picked these out, as well.”

I rolled my eyes. Of course. I didn’t even need to answer.

He chuckled, then gave the hooks and loops and buckles another cursory glance, before his fingers were deftly undoing each fastening. I gasped when he pulled them from my frame, exposing my body. He’d never actually seen me naked and I felt a sudden shyness creeping over me. He seemed to sense this, because he pulled me against him and murmured in my ear. “It’s okay. I’m your husband, remember?”

This made me smile and relax. I looked up into his eyes and smirked, as my hands wandered to his waist and began tugging on the waist of his pants. “That’s right,” I said. “And I’m your wife.”

“My wife,” he said, smiling. He didn’t seem to pay any attention as I pulled the last of his clothes off of him. “I like the way that sounds. Bella, my wife.”

He was distracted by the words, but I knew he wouldn’t be for long. I stepped away from him and slid backwards onto the bed and into the middle of the mattress. I leaned back, tossing my now mussed hair over my shoulder. “Edward?”

His eyes were suddenly wide and staring at me – though not quite making eye contact. I didn’t care. I reach out to him and tugged him towards me. He obliged, climbing on top of me, his eyes greedily taking in the length of my exposed skin. His fingers danced over every inch of me and I shivered at his touch, though not from the chill. We kissed again, more passionate than before, and grasped at each other’s flesh. Edward rolled to the side and pulled me tighter against him, his hand burning into my back as he pressed our chests together. Holding tightly to me, he rolled me once again onto my back and he hovered over me. I felt the pressure of his body against me, but not his weight.

“Are you ready?” he asked, steeling himself to try extremely hard not to kill me in the process of making love.

“Yes,” I said. It was not soft or hesitant. I spoke firmly. This is what I wanted; what I’d been aching to have for several months.

He kissed me again and I gasped into his mouth as he pressed inside me. “Oh!” He instantly tried to pull away, but I held onto him. “It’s okay,” I said.

“I’m not hurting you, am I? I’m … sort of new to this.”

I smiled up at him, reassuringly. “I am too … it’s just different. Just … don’t move for a second. Let me get used to this.”

“I can do that,” he said, smiling back at me. “I like this feeling. You and me … as one.”

I breathed deeply, holding tightly to his neck. I pulled my face to his and we kissed again. Joined together at the hips and at our mouths, we truly were one being. And Edward was right; I liked this feeling. As I grew accustomed to the sensation of having his body inside of mine, I sighed. “Okay,” I said, and as he moved I felt my body shudder.

“What?” he said, alarmed again.

“Edward, if you panic every time I react to you, this is going to prove extremely difficult.”

“What do you mean? I didn’t hurt you?”

“No, Edward. In fact, it’s the exact opposite … you’re driving me mad with pleasure.”

“Oh,” he said, smiling. “So you like this?” And he moved again, grinning more broadly when I reacted.

“Yes,” I said, drawing out the S. Now that Edward realized he was not hurting me, but actually giving me pleasure, he took more relish with each action. Every movement seemed to be carefully gauged.

“You know, for just trying,” he said, stilling grinning smugly, “we seem to be doing quite well.”

Perhaps he was getting a little too smug for his own good. As he was about to make another motion, I twisted and contracted my muscles and he gasped, his eyes going wide and his mouth forming a perfect “O.” It was my turn to grin. “Yes,” I said. “Quite well.”

We were on even ground, truly, and now that we’d grown comfortable with our joint bodies, the competition ended. We kissed and gasped and breathed into each other’s mouths. Edward concentrated on the movement between our two bodies, one hand bracing his body against the bed – the other pressing into my flesh – my arms, my chest, my back, my neck. He twisted his fingers into my hair. I felt his teeth graze my ear and my neck – but I knew he was not going to bite. His lips pressed against the hollow under my ear. It would probably bruise there tomorrow. And as his mouth traveled my body, I returned the favor to him. I kissed his neck and his shoulders and his arms. I pressed my lips against his marble chest and he sighed. I held onto his shoulders with my hands, matching his rhythm and his pace.

And then, suddenly, I saw stars passing over my eyes. I felt dizzy and the room spun around me. I threw my head back and gasped loudly, his name on the cusp of my breath. Emotions passed through me that I didn’t know were possible; I felt tears in my eyes, but they were tears of gratification. Above me, when I could focus, I saw Edward grinning and panting. His body was trembling along with mine in unison. And when it felt like I couldn’t take anything else, I felt a surge pass through my whole body and I pulled myself from the mattress and clung to Edward, my arms wrapped tightly around his back. His hand pressed into my back, holding me there as we rode out the final wave together.

When it had passed, we rolled onto our sides, facing each other, our legs and arms intertwined. Edward’s eyes twinkled as they danced over my face.

“I’m glad I agreed to try this with you,” he said. “Though I have a feeling it might be even better when you’re no longer human.”

“Why, Edward Cullen – that almost sounds as if you’re finally looking forward to making me a vampire.”

“You know, Bella Cullen,” he replied, “I just might be.”

And he scooped me up in his arms and with his breath on my face, I drifted off into the most peaceful sleep.

* * *

The End

* * *