Everything was ready. Bella had her alibi in the form of a two day sleep over with 'Alice', that was easy enough. Her mind was slightly more at peace knowing that Charlie was fishing with Billy and that Angela, Ben, Mike and Jessica had gone to the concert. She also seemed almost comforted by the fact that in forty-eight hours, one way or another, this would all be over, as was I, somewhat at least. Now all we had to think about was tonight, I told myself.
Bella and I, completely alone. Although I had spent the night with Bella many times before, all while Charlie was suitably unconscious, of course, I couldn't help feeling slightly apprehensive about tonight. The house would be totally empty apart from me and one very vulnerable human. A human who’s scent was ever so dangerously addictive to me. The intensity of the way I felt about Bella, if I were being honest, still scared me slightly. I had never wanted, nor needed, anything so much in my entire existence. Everyday, the need and my passionate love for her grew. Nothing terrified me more than the thought that something might happen to her. Also, the underlining fear was always there that I would be the one to make it happen. Of course, I hid these feelings from Bella. I had to have her relax, and she was trying.
"For this one night, could we try to forget everything besides just you and me?" I had pleaded, staring into her eyes, trying to calm her with my own.
“It seems like I can never get enough time like that. I need to be with you. Just you" The thought, although slightly intimidating, of having my Bella to myself for one whole night, was exactly what I wanted and needed right now.
And, now, as I sat in the passenger’s seat of her decrepit old Chevy, smiling to myself at her slow human pace, I could hear her heart quicken, and once again I wished I could hear her mind.
As soon as Bella cut the engine, I was at her side. I opened her door and lifted her from the cab, eager to get into the empty house. I swiftly yanked her bag out of the truck bed and gently swung her legs up so that she was cradled in my arms, all the while my lips were crushed to hers. Without separating our lips, I kicked the door closed, lifted her bag onto my shoulder and started up the darkened steps. Once inside the doorway, I stopped, holding Bella to my chest as tightly as I dared. We kissed there for several minutes, fervently, less controlled than unseal. I could hear Bella's quickened heartbeat thump against my hard chest. She tightened her grip around my neck, trying to force herself closer still. As hard as it was to make my lips part with hers, I pulled her away with a quiet chuckle and held her at arms length. I had to compose myself. I breathed in, one sharp breath. I looked deeply into the eyes of my love and whispered close into her ear,” Welcome home"
"That sounds nice" She breathed.
I set her gently on her feet, where she wrapped her arms around my waist and crushed herself back against me.
"I have something for you" I said, trying to keep my tone casual.
"Your hand-me-down, remember? You said that was allowable"
"Oh, that's right. I guess I did say that"
I chortled. Typical Bella. Forever reluctant to accept a gift.
"It's up in my room. Shall I go get it"
Her eyes brightened a little and a look I could not fathom spread across her face.
"Sure" She said, taking my hand. "Let's go"
I couldn't wait to give her my gift and her human legs could not move fast enough for me. I scooped her up again and flew upstairs to my bedroom. I set her on her feet at the door and sped away, returning before she could steady herself. I stood expectantly in front of her for a second before she walked past me, and jumped onto the huge gold bed, I bought just for her. She settled herself into a ball in the centre of it with her arms wrapped around her knees, seeming to brace herself. "Okay, let me have it" She grumbled.
I laughed lightly at her.
I climbed onto the bed next to her and heard her heart-rate accelerate. I hoped this was a reaction to the gift.
"A hand-me-down" I reminded her.
I took her left wrist for just a second then gave it back to her. She looked at the bracelet cautiously for a long moment. Opposite the tiny wooden wolf already attached, now hung a sparkling heart- shaped diamond. Although, I knew Bella would be happier believing it was a crystal, rather than a precious gem. Bella sucked in her breath in a quiet gasp. Her reaction pleased me, but I stayed calm, hoping to seem indifferent.
"It was my mothers" I shrugged, "I inherited quite a few baubles like this. I've given some to Esme and Alice both. So, clearly, this is not a big deal in any way." I said, trying to convince her it was nothing at all. She smiled contritely at me.” But I thought it was a good representation. It's hard and cold," I laughed, " And it throws diamonds in the sunlight"
"You forgot the most important similarity," She muttered, "It's beautiful"
"My heart is just as silent" I speculated, "And it, too, is yours"
She held up her wrist and examined the bracelet again, twisting it, making the heart shimmer. "Thank you" She breathed sincerely, "For both"
"No thanks you. It's a relief to have you accept a gift so easily. Good practice for you, too." I grinned widely at her. She leaned into me then, and I wrapped my arms tightly around her, pulling her close to me.
"Can we discuss something?" She began after a moment, “I’d appreciate it if you could begin by being open minded"
"I'll give it my best effort," I said, wary now. "I'm not breaking any rules here, this is strictly about you and me" She cleared her throat, giving way to some of her apparent unease.
“So, I was impressed by how we were able to compromise the other night. I was thinking, I would like to apply the same principle to a different situation." She began rather formally. I struggled to stop a smile from sneaking into my voice, glad that she could not see my face.
"What would you like to negotiate?" I asked her. She did not speak. Instead, I could hear the over-excited beating of her heart.
"Listen to your heart fly. It's fluttering like hummingbirds wings. Are you alright?" I asked her.
"I'm great" She replied, a little unconvincingly.
"Please go on then" "Well, I guess, first, I wanted to talk to about that whole ridiculous marriage thing" I raised my eyebrows. "It's only ridiculous to you," I reminded her. "What about it?" She hesitated. "I was wondering...Is that open to negotiation"
I frowned. If i had a beating heart, it would’ve leapt. “I’ve already made the largest concession by far and away" I told her seriously, "I've agreed to take your life away against my better judgment. And that ought to entitle me to a few compromises on your part"
"No" She said quickly, shaking her head,” That part's a done deal. We're not discussing my... renovations right now. I want to hammer out some other details." She waited for me to reply, holding her breath. "What details do you mean exactly?" I asked slowly, suspicious. She hesitated, "Let's clarify your prerequisites first" "You know what I want." I told her.
Her face took on a disgusted look. "Matrimony" She spit the word, as if it burned her mouth. I grinned at her, amused by her expression. "Yes to start with." Shock flashed across her face. I had not shared these thoughts with her yet. "There's more?" She asked, exasperated.
"Well, if you're my wife, then what's mine is yours...like tuition money. So there should be no problem with Dartmouth." I explained, bracing myself for her reaction.
"Anything else ? While you're already being absurd?" She stared at me with her eyes open wide. "I wouldn't mind some time"
"No. No time," She answered immediately, "That's a deal breaker right there" The discussion quickly turned into an argument about her imminent change into an immortal. "I didn't realise there was anything else you wanted besides being transformed into a monster yourself. I'm extremely curious."
Bella’s desire to join my world had always intrigued, yet terrified me. I wondered why she was so eager to become a monster, like me. I sat watching her, waiting for her to reply. Instead, she stared at our intertwined fingers, a heat rising in her cheeks. "You're blushing?" I asked, surprised. She didn't look up. "Please, Bella, the suspense is painful" It was still extremely difficult for me when she kept her thoughts to herself, not letting me in! She eventually looked at me,
"Well, I'm a little worried," She admitted, "About after"
I tensed, but kept my voice calm,” What have you worried?" I asked. Bella explained to me that she was nervous about how she would act when she was newly 'renovated'. She had heard stories from my whole family about how volatile and violent newborns have been known to be, and this made her anxious.
She told me shyly, "I'm afraid I’ll be so preoccupied with the mayhem that I won't be me anymore... and that I won't... I won't want you in the same way I do now"
"Bella, that part doesn't last forever," I assured her. She looked at me nervously, and then her eyes stayed back down to her hands. She didn't say anything more. I waited.
"Whatever you want," I promised, encouraging her to go on, still wondering where this was leading. "Tell me what you want, and you can have it." I told her.
"You" She mumbled quietly. I smiled, pleased. “I’m yours"
She sucked in her breath deeply then moved to kneel in front of me. She wrapped her slightly shaking hands around my neck and kissed me. I kissed her back, slightly confused. I kissed her softly, still trying to figure out her thoughts, when her trembling hands slowly moved from around my neck. Suddenly, with shaking fingers, she began to undo the buttons on my shirt. I froze. I pushed her hands away, disappointed when I realised her intentions.
"Be reasonable, Bella"
"You promised--- Whatever I wanted" She reminded me weakly.
"We are not having this discussion Bella. No." I said, maybe a bit too harshly.
Bella was quiet for a long time, glaring at her hands in her lap. I moved her head up with my finger tips to look at her face, into her eyes. The look I found there shocked me.
"Did I hurt your feelings?" I asked, horrified.
"No" she lied badly.
Before she could think about it, I had her in my arms, holding her close to me. "You know why I have to say no," I whispered, "You know that I want you, too"
"Do you?" She asked her voice full of painful doubt.
"Of course I do, you silly, beautiful, over sensitive girl." I laughed once. Of course I wanted her. I had never wanted anything more, ever. There were no words to describe the desperate way I wanted, needed and loved Bella. She had to understand this. She kissed me, persuasively then, slowly wearing me down. It was hard to concentrate. I stopped her.
"Please, Edward. Please." She begged, her eyes burning into mine.
I pulled her close and whispered into her ear, "Do you know how painful it is, trying to refuse you when you plead with me this way?" I asked in a strained voice.
I felt her shiver when my breath blew across her face and her neck.
"Then don't refuse" She suggested breathlessly. I couldn't respond.
"Please..." She begged again.
I shook my head slowly, not quite a denial, my lips dragging across her throat, inhaling her sweet scent. I heard her heart race, knowing my own would if it could. Bella quickly twisted in my arms, bringing her lips back to mine. My breath huffed out in a low moan, seizing her face between my hands to pull her closer. Of course I wanted her. Of course I did.
I kissed her desperately, only allowing my lips to leave hers when she gasped for air. I still couldn't stop myself, although i knew i should. My lips moved, as if by themselves, from her lips down to her throat. While I was distracted, Bella had quickly got through the buttons on my shirt and was running her still trembling hands over my bare chest and stomach. This was unbearable. Her touches, her kisses, the quiet moans escaping from her lips, everything was utterly unbearable. And yet, i couldn't make my lips stop kissing her, i couldn't stop my hands from pulling her body closer to mine. Bella reached between us, up to the buttons on her blouse, to undo them. No. I had to stop this. It was already becoming too much. My hands moved unwillingly to her wrists and pulled her hands away, stopping her. "Not tonight" I told her, my kisses against her neck and jaw now softer.
"Give me one good reason why tonight is not as good as any other night?" She demanded.
"I wasn't born yesterday," I chuckled in her ear. "Out of the two of us, which do you think is more unwilling to give the other what they want? You just promised to marry me before you do any changing, but if I give in tonight, what guarantee do I have that you won't go running off to Carlisle in the morning? I am --- clearly --- much less reluctant to give you what you want. Therefore... you first"
Bella looked at me in disbelief, “I have to marry you first?" She asked her tone incredulous.
"That's the deal --- take it or leave it. Compromise, remember?" I wrapped my arms around her and kissed her, in a way that i hoped was persuasive.
"How did this happen?" She grumbled eventually, breathless. " I thought I was holding my own tonight---for once--- and now all of a sudden---" "You're engaged." I finished for her
"Eww please don't say that out loud!”
I opened my eyes wide, "Are you going back on your word?" I demanded, enjoying myself slightly.
"Ugh," She groaned "No. I'm not. Are you happy now"
I smiled hugely, "Extremely" And I was. I had never been so happy, nor had I ever been so excited.
"Do you want to see your ring?" I asked, with an almost childish eagerness.
"No!" She almost shouted. My face fell slightly, disappointed. She sighed.
"I'm sorry. Show me the ring"
"No" I huffed.
"Edward...Please? Please can I see it"
I narrowed my eyes at her, "You are the most dangerous creature I have ever met" I told her. In a flash though, I had moved and was back with a ring box which I placed on her left knee. She hesitated.
"Another hand-me-down" I assured her, before she could ask. "This also belonged to my mother"
Bella opened the box and her eyes widened. "It's so pretty!" She exclaimed quietly, sounding surprised.
I took the ring from the box and slipped it onto Bella's finger. Perfect. I liked that. Allot.
"Do you mind if I do something?" I asked her, tightening my arms around her.
"Anything you want" She replied but groaned when I slid away from her. "Anything but that"
I ignored her and pulled her by the hand onto her feet. I stood in front of her with my hands on her shoulders. "Now, I want to do this right. Please, please keep in mind that you have already agreed to this and don't ruin it for me." With that, i slid down onto one knee.
"Oh no" She gasped.
"Be nice" I muttered back.
I took a deep breath, choosing the perfect words. "Isabella Swan?" I began, looking deep into her eyes, “I promise to love you forever. Every single day of forever. Will you marry me"
Although I already knew what her answer would be, I held my breath, as if it would help. Bella's cheeks tinted with pink and she whispered, "Yes"
"Thank you" I said simply.
I stood and lifted her left hand to my lips where I kissed the ring which now would always belong to her. I would forever remember this night. The happiest night of my long life so far. Bella was my everything, and now, she would be my forever.