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When I woke the next morning, it was on a mattress that felt like a cloud. Edward lay next to me wearing a relaxed smile. The sun outside the window was more muted than yesterday's and I could already sense the cloud cover rolling in. "You know I could really grow to dislike you if you insist on waking me up," I told Edward, who was stroking a lazy path down my arm. It was this trail of goose-bumps that had stirred me, so it was entirely his fault that I was awake. His smile didn't fade. "Good morning, my love. Alice will be back today, and she will insist on taking you shopping. I want as much time alone with you as I can get." "Okay," I relented, snuggling up closer to him. "I can get behind that idea. How long do we have?"
"A couple of hours," he murmured into my hair. "Any ideas about what we should do?" "I'm sure you have plenty," I retorted. "But first I want to shower." It had been a warm night, and I was sticky with sweat from sleeping and...well, from before I'd slept as well. I had no idea how Edward could stand being next to me when I was like this. "Oh, I have plenty of ideas on how we could while away the time in the shower..." he mused, and I shot him a dark look. I don't think it was very convincing, because internally I was salivating on the memories I had of wet naked Edward. His crooked, confident smirk confirmed it. "Okay, well I'm going to shower, and you ± stay put!" I ordered. I dashed straight for the bathroom, robe-less this time, and he chuckled behind me. Last night had been an experience, to say the least. After we got dressed following our afternoon activities, he took me to a relaxed little trattoria down the street, where I had pizza and more ice-cream. When we returned to the hotel, Edward proceeded to demonstrate to me his plans that didn't involve the bed: they mainly revolved around the chair and the floor. I'd had more practice at being above him, which he'd surprisingly seemed to really enjoy, though he still controlled my pace and movements. Something had been unlocked in him in the past few days, and ever since he put the ring on my finger, he seemed loathed to lose physical contact with me, constantly needing to prove that he loved and wanted me. I'd finally fallen asleep in the small hours of the morning, immediately after another world-melting climax, which sucked the last of my energy away. Today, my legs ached and my spine still seemed to have the consistency of jelly. I was very relaxed this morning. I turned the shower on while I brushed my teeth, and let the water get hot, before opening the bathroom door and calling out to him. "I know you're planning to hijack my shower anyway, so you might as well come in now." He was beside me in a flash, whirling me under the water. "As my lady wishes," he said into my ear, before claiming my mouth. I draped my arms around his neck, letting him support my weight. "Mmm." He dragged his lips away from mine. "Can I wash you again?"
"Sure." He eagerly squeezed shampoo into his palm and began rubbing it into my hair, giving me a thorough scalp massage in the process, before tipping me under the spray to rinse it out. He followed it with conditioner then reached for the body wash. "I have a better idea," I suggested coyly. "How about I wash you?" I took the bottle from him and filled my palm, and his body reacted happily to my idea. I rubbed my hands together to create a lather. I began with his arms, running my fingers over every muscle, every sculpted line then swept my hands over his chest and down. Edward didn't really need to wash, but I had a plan, and this was the best way to accomplish it. I dropped to my knees, causing him to moan out my name, rubbing his feet and calves before moving up to his thighs, paying as much attention to the skin there as he had when he washed me. He backed up against the tiles, his hands fisted tightly beside his hips, and every sinew in him was rigid. He was erect and level with my face; it was the closest I had ever been to him in this way before. His skin was white, smooth and hairless, the shaft straight but swelling out at the tip, where a few beads of liquid oozed. I knew from holding it in my hand that I could barely curl my fingers around him. I swept my gaze up his body to meet his eyes, which blazed black. "The other day, you said you couldn't put your mouth on me while I'm still human. What about the other way around? Does the same thing apply?" He let out a harsh gasp. "No, but Bella, I don't think I'll last long if you do ± uh!" He broke off in a grunt as I wrapped my hand around him. "I'm okay with that," I assured him. I moved my hand a few times, gliding up and down on his satiny skin, gathering courage to do this. He was so big, how did girls fit these in their mouths? The tension in his body increased with every pass of my palm. Finally, I just leaned in and opened my mouth, running my tongue over him lightly, before sucking him in. I'd heard the advice before: treat it like a popsicle, but he was so different ± so much bigger, taking up all the space in my mouth. He was also much, much sweeter. For some reason I hadn't expected his skin to taste the same as he did when we kissed, but the flavor was as wonderful, and I was suddenly hungry for it.
I kept my pace slow, and I brought a hand up to stroke him where my mouth couldn't reach. I only had Edward's moans to tell me if I was doing this right, but he seemed to be enjoying it ± his breathing was coming in fast, shallow pants, and he kept chanting my name under his breath. I varied the suction, and used my tongue to caress the tip of him whenever I passed over it. I gained confidence, and moved my mouth down his length even further sucking hard enough that my teeth grazed him as I came back up. Abruptly, his hips bucked forward, away from the shower wall, and he hit the back of my throat for a moment, making me cough around him. He hissed at the sensation of my throat closing around him, and pulled me away from him, out of my mouth and into his own hand. He gave a few fast pumps and creamy liquid spurted out over his thighs, before washing down the drain in the cascade of water. The other fist smashed against the marble and cracked a tile. He brought me to my feet, and I was the one panting now. He pulled me flush against him and whispered to me. "Bella, are you okay, love?" "I'm fine." I stood on tip-toe to kiss him. "I was surprised, but not hurt." He was still tense, the black of his eyes deep and imploring. "I didn't mean to move but it was so good, so intense - I just lost it for a moment«" "I'm glad you liked it," I whispered, sneaking a peek up at him from beneath my eyelashes. "If you don't want to do it again, that's okay," he said hastily. I wrapped my arms around him again, pulling him down to meet my lips. "No, I think it's a good thing that you enjoyed it." We kissed leisurely. "You just need to work on your control some more. Which means we should practice. A lot." The thought of practice excited Edward again, and he pressed into me; I was beginning to worry that I couldn't possibly keep up with his stamina. He began growling. The vibrations passed into me where we touched - chest and arms and lips, making my nerves quiver under my skin. It was an interesting sensation, little licks of fire flashing over my spine as surely as if he'd kissed a trail down it.
He turned us so I was the one pressed up against the tiles, one hand drifting up from my butt to my chest and fingers stroked at my nipples, touching until I was firm beneath his fingertips. "You know it's not fair that I came and you didn't," Edward whispered silkily, and my knees gave out. He used that phrase so casually, and evidently liked the effect it had on me. As a matter of fact, I liked the effect it had on me. I couldn't believe that Edward Cullen, the proper young Edwardian gentleman, would find it in him to say such things. The hand at my breast roamed downwards, spreading my thighs and finding the spot without hesitation, two fingers caressing me until I was trembling against him. "Edward," I gasped. "Want you." He lifted me, so my hips rested above his, with my back pressed to the marble, and I wrapped my legs around his waist for support. This felt familiar; I could almost feel the sunshine on my face and hear the gentle music of the water in the fountain. Our foreheads rested together, our breath mingling, and he pushed into me. With the slickness of the tiles, I could find no purchase to thrust against him, so he had complete control over the pace. He took it slowly, and I just wanted speed. I was on the edge, ready to tumble over at any moment, but this leisurely movement wasn't enough to push me. "Please, please ± harder - " I begged, and he ignored me, doggedly sticking to his maddeningly even movements. "This is how I wanted you in the courtyard," he told me. "Above me, completely at my mercy, begging for more." I moaned at his words, snaking one hand down his chest, then across my belly towards my groin, desperate for more sensation. He grabbed my wrist and lifted my arm above my head, pinning it to the wall. I fisted my other hand in his hair and tugged roughly. "Do you want to see how it would have been? I was so out of control that day ± do you think you can handle that?" "Yes," I sighed, and he let go.
His thrusts were suddenly fast and furious, and I could appreciate the position properly ± he filled all of me as he moved, and his pelvis rubbed against me with every jerk of his hips, moving me tantalizingly closer to that edge. He pulled my pinned hand towards his lips and kissed the ring I wore. "I love you. Do you like feeling me inside you?" I whimpered and tried to grind down onto him. He pushed his hips into mine, pinning me completely to the wall. "Do you like it when I'm rough like this?" His words were my undoing, and I unraveled around him between one breath and the next, clenching rhythmically as the world narrowed to a pinprick of pleasure, exploding outwards. When the feeling subsided, I sagged against him. He slowed again, but the rhythm was still insistent. "I want to try something different." I could only nod against his shoulder. He released me gently, pulling out of me and dropping me to my feet, before turning me around and placing my palms flat against the wall. I was bent very slightly at the waist, with my hair was plastered down my back. He swept it out of the way, pressing his skin against mine then slid inside me again. One of his hands braced against the wall beside mine, and the other slid around my waist, holding me to him. Oh, my. Of everything we'd tried so far that I'd thought was deep, this was something else; every stroke hit that place inside me that made me writhe. He resumed his languid pace, testing how I would react to this angle, but the tension in his arms told me he was holding back. "Edward," I gasped. "Let go." "Bella, you feel so good like this," he grunted into my ear, picking up the speed infinitesimally. "So tight around me; I can't let go. I won't be able to stop." He kissed a path down my neck, moving the hand on my waist up to cup my breast, massaging me softly. I noticed again how my nipples seemed to be directly connected to everything below, and every time he passed his thumb over me, I clenched, and he snarled. "Are you nearly there?" he panted.
"Yes. Just need a little harder ± oh, yes." He complied before I finished speaking, and the force of his thrusts had me convulsing around him. My hands slid down the tiles as I collapsed to my knees, my throat taking another battering as I screamed myself hoarse. He fell with me, catching me around the waist so I wouldn't bruise on the tile, and then he let loose a string of curses in my ear announcing his own pleasure. I leaned back against him when I could, dropping my head so it rested on his shoulder and our cheeks touched. "Well, that was«" He hummed in reply, his hands still moving on my skin. "And there are a few new things to add to the bill. Cracked tile, epic water bill." He laughed, and that made us both writhe. He was ready to go again. Instead, he pulled out of me, and hauled me to my feet. "As much as I'd like to stay here and add ever more to the bill, Alice will be here soon. I think you want to be dressed and ready before she gets here." I groaned my displeasure. The rest of the shower involved only washing-related activities. I was thoroughly exhausted and wondering how on earth I was going to survive a shopping trip with Alice. I dressed casually again, and Edward packed our belongings while I went for breakfast. I was famished today ± probably as a result of all the energy I'd been expending. We were catching a flight this afternoon, so we'd be back in Forks before nightfall, well, before nightfall there ± the time difference was confusing me. I'd been gone for nearly a week. Charlie was going to be pissed. It was Alice who opened the door to the room when I knocked on it. It took me a moment to process her outfit, which was very Audrey Hepburn: a black shift dress over a thin, white, long-sleeved turtleneck, black hose, black pumps, black opera gloves, a white headscarf, and big, dark glasses that covered half of her face. She'd topped it off with a string of pearls and a large slouchy hat. "Hi, Alice. Is that what you're wearing to go shopping? Oh!" Excitement filled me. "Are we not going shopping anymore?"
She frowned and pulled the shades off, annoyance clear in her eyes. "Of course we're still going. This," she indicated her ensemble, "will allow me to walk around without attracting attention." I paused a beat. "Are you sure? It's quite an attention-grabbing outfit." "Come in, we can't talk about this in the hall." When the door was closed, she continued. "The weather is a bit unpredictable today. It's mainly going to be cloudy, but there will be patches of sunshine that will be hard to avoid. This covers most of my skin up, so we don't have to stay inside." "But won't you attract more attention dressed like that?" She laughed. "Oh, Bella, not where we're going. They all know about me and my delicate constitution. I snorted at the thought of anybody believing Alice was frail. Edward came out of the bathroom in jeans, looking as mouthwatering as he had yesterday. He came straight to me, pulling my face to his for a tender kiss. "I missed you," he said against my lips. Alice cleared her throat beside us. He sighed. "I'm going to miss you even more today," he continued. "You were right the other day, I need to hunt ± it's been months since I've properly fed." I tightened my grip on his arms and turned my face up for another kiss. "I'm going to miss you too." "Oh, is that the ring? It's lovely!" Alice said brightly, clearly trying to break us apart. I leaned my head against Edward's chest and turned my face to her. She took hold of my left hand and lifted it to inspect the ring. "Good choice. It suits both of you." "I'm glad you approve," Edward said drily. She glowered at him. "This is important; I have to make sure the dress matches the ring." Her mood changed, and the ear-to-ear smile returned. "I had so much fun when I was hunting ± I've planned so much already! I thought an Italian theme would be apt, so that's what we're going with for the food and decorations. Of course, we can't tell Charlie why we really chose the theme, but I can convince him it's because of Bella's name."
I groaned and buried my face into Edward, inhaling him. "Make her go away," I whispered. "Bella," I could practically hear her pouting. "I'm just doing it because I love you. I want this wedding to be perfect, and I know you hate to be involved in this kind of stuff. Please let me plan your wedding?" The guilt was too much to bear, especially when I looked up and met her wide, imploring topaz eyes. "Okay," I muttered. "But all the big decisions need running past me and Edward, and we can veto whatever we want." "That's wonderful!" she squealed, and pulled me out of Edward's arms into her own. "We're going to have so much fun!" She glanced at Edward. "Aren't you supposed to be hunting?" He didn't look like he was planning on moving. "Nothing's going to happen this afternoon. Look." There was a moment where they were both sifting through her visions of my future. "See?" Edward nodded tersely. "I suppose I should go." He crushed me to him again, burying his nose in my hair and inhaling deeply. "What is there to hunt, anyway?" Alice made a sound of disgust. "Not much. Some goats and deer. There are wolves if you want to venture into the mountains." "Lovely." He threaded his fingers through my hair. "I don't think I'll go so far though. I want to be back as soon as I can be." With one last brush of lips on my forehead, he was gone, no doubt aiming to get out of Florence while it was still cloudy. Once out of the city, he'd be free to run as fast as he wanted across the Tuscan countryside. "Ready?" Alice asked, taking my hand and leading me out of the room. I shuffled along and kept my head down as we passed through reception. Edward and I had probably made as much noise last night as we had on the first. Alice called out a greeting to the woman on the desk and hurried after me.
"I promise, Bella, it's not going to be as bad as you think. We're only going to a couple of stores, and I know exactly what I'm after. We'll be back in time for check-out." Edward had arranged a later check-out at the hotel than normal, for the early afternoon. We moved through the streets briskly, and she kept my hand in hers, like I was an errant child she was afraid would go running off given half a chance. We ended up on a busy street lined with stores, all of which had designer names above the stark window displays. She took me down a side street that I wouldn't have given a second glance to ± there were a few restaurants, some dumpsters and parked Vespas, and one more of those ultra-chic stores. I didn't recognize the name above the door. A bell chimed as we entered, and a very elegant woman rose from behind the counter. She looked every inch the Italian: olive skin, dark eyes, dark hair pulled back into a French twist, and she wore a pants-suit with a scattering of gold jewelry. "Alice!" she greeted. "Che bello rivederti! Questo deve essere Isabella?" She took my hand and kissed me on both cheeks. "Piacere Isabella! Alice era molto eccitato quando è venuta a vederci l'altro giorno. É questo l'anello?" I flashed a perplexed glance at Alice, and she gave a tinkling laugh. "Le mie scuse, Silvana, non Isabella è l'italiano. Lei non capire una parola che dire!" "Oh, I'm sorry! I just assumed, since her name is Italiano." "Don't worry about it. Is Sergio ready for us?" "He is. He's very excited to see what ideas you have for him." We were led across the room to an arched doorway, which opened onto a corridor. A man walked up the corridor, his arms outstretched to Alice. "Signorina Cullen! Cosa creazioni sorprendenti avete per me? É questo Isabella?" "Esso è. Lei non parla italiano."
After they'd finished hugging, Alice spoke again. "Bella, this is Sergio Migliore. He'll be creating your wedding dress." "Hi," I said. He took both of my hands in his, and kissed the backs of them. "Bella by name, Bella by nature. You give me such good material to work with Alice! She will be a vision in white!" He took us into a brightly lit room that I assumed was a studio. There were rolls of fabric everywhere, a couple of tailor's dummies, and lots of sketches adorning the walls. "So, what did you have in mind?" Sergio asked Alice, and she launched into a detailed description that I couldn't follow. There were lots in it about sleeve shapes, and hemlines, and darts. I barely understood most of the terms they were using; it was like they were planning a military operation, although it was hardly surprising since this was Alice. Sergio sketched frantically with every word she said. At one point, he came over to examine the ring, and then he began a lengthy debate with her about what type of lace would work best. Finally, they lapsed completely into Italian, and I had to amuse myself with figuring out what the sketches on the wall were actually of. I missed Edward. It was like a physical pull in my midsection, urging me to find him. I reminded myself that it was just for a couple of hours, but my body wasn't listening. After what seemed like eons, both Sergio and Alice seemed happy with the finished sketch. "Bellissimmo! She will be the most beautiful bride your little town has ever seen. I just need to take her measurements, and I will get working immediately." For the next half hour, I was prodded and poked, stripped down to my underwear as Sergio flapped around me with a tape measure, while he and Alice had a rapid-fire discussion about the undergarments and accessories best suited to my dress. I wasn't asked for my opinion, but the gleam in Alice's eyes told me she could already see me wearing it in her mind's eye, and she was happy with the result.
When I was full clothed again, they exchanged air kisses one last time, and I bundled back onto the street, blinking in the bright light. Alice pulled her hat lower to shield her face. "See, Bella, wasn't that fun?" "Uh...yeah." "Sergio is a master at what he does ± his work is very historically-inspired, very vintage-revivalist ± and there is nobody better to make your dress. Edward will be so happy when he sees you in it!" That thought thawed me a little: if it made him happy, then I could live with it. "So, where are we going now?" I asked as Alice led me back into the bustle of the main streets. "We just have one more place we need to visit - it's a custom boutique that makes the most exquisite lingerie. They'll have exactly what we need to go under your dress, plus it won't harm to stock up while we can." The memory of Edward losing it when he saw me in blue satin and stockings made me much more amenable to this kind of shopping. The boutique was small, but the stock on display was bewildering ± there were items where I couldn't figure out what they were supposed to be. Alice apparently knew the owner in here as well, and we were assigned an assistant, Margherita, to follow us around the store and catch whatever Alice threw in her direction. "We'll sort me out first," Alice said, "then we'll go round again for you, Bella." She piled Margherita's arms high with jewel-colored satin and wispy threads of lace, and Margherita disappeared for a moment to deposit Alice's selections behind the counter. Alice had already started on my pile when she returned, going for more sedate pieces at my insistence. "No thongs," I warned, and she waved a hand at me. "I know what you'll be comfortable with and what you won't. I promise that you'll like everything I choose." I still haggled as we went, convincing her to add a selection of cotton briefs and she could pick some more daring pieces in return. She also chose
several items in white satin, including a garter belt and white silk stockings, which she informed me were for underneath my wedding dress. The final bill was eye-watering. "Alice," I hissed, "we need to put some of this back! That's a ridiculous amount to spend on underwear!" "Don't worry, Bella, it's not as bad as it looks. It's all down to the exchange rate." It was only when we were heading back to the hotel that I realized she was lying. We passed a bank window which had the exchange rates displayed, and when I quickly calculated the amount we'd spent in Euros back into dollars, it was still an outrageous figure. She knew the exact moment I figured it out. "They don't accept returns, and Edward would be heartbroken if you tried to take it back." I scowled at her. "That 'Edward will love it' thing will only work so many times, you know." She smiled brightly. "I only have to keep using it until you give in and accept whatever I think is best." It was early afternoon, so we stopped at a cafe so I could get a slice of pizza, Coke and my last gelato, which I ate as we strolled back to the hotel. The sun had disappeared again. "We'll wait outside," Alice said as we approached the hotel. "Edward is in reception, negotiating the damage. So far I think he's offered them enough to completely redecorate the room ± three times over. He's ordered a cab to take us to the airport which will be here any minute now." I leaned against the wall, enjoying the last few licks of my ice-cream, and the warmth. Forks was going to be a shock to the system after a few days in Italian springtime. "Alice?" "Hmm?" "Can I have ice-cream at the wedding? Proper Italian ice-cream?"
"I've already got Esme sourcing it. I want to have miniature stone-baked pizzas, too." "Thanks Alice. Is this one of those times when you know best?" "Oh, I always know best." A car pulled up at the curb, and Alice bent her head in through the open window to chat animatedly with the driver. She'd discarded the hat, headscarf, glasses and gloves now the cloud cover was absolute. Edward finally emerged, and slung our bags into the trunk of the saloon. He came straight for me, pulling me to him and kissing a trail from my forehead, down my nose to my waiting lips. "Missed you," I murmured. Now he was back with me, the pull I'd felt all day settled and a sense of rightness washed through me. Alice settled in the passenger seat, leaving Edward and I to sit in the back ± although, this time we had to actually sit in our own seats, which Edward was not happy about. He kept casting nervous glances in the driver's direction, wincing at the erratic movements, and kept one arm wrapped around my waist, braced for any potential impact. The driver weaved in and out of lanes, took corners sharply, and drove a little too quickly for my liking. I didn't see how it was any different to Alice's driving. Alice kept him distracted with a stream of dialogue, and Edward whispered to me. "He doesn't understand English. We can say what we like." "That's good," I replied. "You look better." The circles under his eyes had faded, and his irises were finally back to the liquid shade of topaz that I loved. "I think I may have put a species of Italian goat on the endangered list. I didn't dare venture too far away, and it was all I could find." "Well, when we're back in Forks you can go looking for mountain lion." He made an unhappy noise in the back of his throat. "Back to reality." The Coke had had the effect I wanted, and I was buzzing all the way through the airport, which amused Alice and concerned Edward. The first flight was only an hour long, as we had to change at London Heathrow. There, we had a few hours to kill before we could get on the connecting flight to SeaTac.
Alice was in her element: the terminal in Heathrow housed a Harrods and a Mulberry store, and she went on a mini spending spree. Edward and I strolled around, stopping to get a sandwich for me. He also bought me a chocolate bar in a deep purple wrapper, and handed it to me with the words, "I've heard it's good." It was the best chocolate I'd ever had, coming in second only to the icecream as the best thing I'd ever tasted in my life. Actually, that wasn't true: neither compared to Edward. "Oh my word, what is this?" I asked in awe. "It's Cadbury's. I can get some shipped to Forks if you'd like." "If you can manage that, then no matter what Charlie has to throw at us when we get home, I can promise you that I'll spend the entire weekend alone with you. Practicing." "Deal." His voice was low and raw. We found one of those rows of metal chairs that are in every airport in the world. I explained my personal theory to Edward: they made the chairs so uncomfortable that you couldn't sit in them for long, so you had to go shop in the terminal and spend even more money. He laughed at me for a few minutes until I threatened to go find Alice and spend the afternoon with her. He placated me with whisper-soft kisses and a few wafts of his intoxicating breath over my face. We sat cuddled together, occasionally touching but not needing to speak. Alice returned to us half an hour before boarding. She'd found one of those trolleys designed to move luggage around, and had it loaded with shopping bags. "What?" she said at my incredulous expression. "Rose would kill me if she knew I'd been to Harrods and hadn't bought her something. And I found a lovely coat for Esme ± in fact, I got gifts for everyone. It would have been rude not to." "I'm sure they'll appreciate the thought," Edward said evenly. "I've heard from Esme as well. She's in Forks right now, and she went to see Charlie." My head snapped up. "How bad is it?"
"She's got him calmed down quite a bit. We've devised an official cover story." Edward groaned beside me, and I looked between him and Alice. She explained to me our excuse. "Edward was in a car crash in L.A. and was hospitalized with head injuries. He hadn't come round after a few days, so I decided to go to Forks and fetch you, since he'd been pining for you ever since we moved away, and it worked! As soon as you turned up at his bedside, he woke up. I'm insisting it's a miracle, although Carlisle has everyone else convinced it's a coincidence and Edward woke up when he was ready to. You two are back together, and Esme has decided the accident was the last straw in L.A., so we're moving back to Forks at her insistence." "And that's what she told Charlie?" "Yes; she's visiting as one concerned parent to another. She found out that all you'd left him was a cryptic note, and you were so wrapped up in Edward at the hospital that you forgot to call and update him. Esme has expressed her disappointment in both of us for our poor choices, but Charlie completely sympathizes with me. Of course, Edward can't be blamed for any of this because he was unconscious." "Great. That just leaves me in trouble!" Alice shrugged. "I think he's going to be fairly lenient." "Wait a minute - how is Edward supposed to have recovered from this accident so quickly? He looks as healthy as ever." Edward leaned forward. "And more importantly, how did the Volvo fare in the crash?" "You weren't driving the Volvo you were in Carlisle's Mercedes. He's buying the newest model to replace it. As for your injuries, most of them are covered by your clothes we just need to wrap your head in a bandage." He growled something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like a tirade against the rest of the Cullens' parentage. "There's something else you aren't telling me," he said aloud. "You only hum that song in your head when you're trying to hide something from me, and you've been screaming it for the past five minutes."
"What song?" I asked. "Barbie Girl," Alice replied. "Well, there is one more thing, Edward, and you aren't going to like it." "Clearly." "You can't drive for a few weeks." "WHAT?" "Carlisle will give you the all clear in the next fourteen days, but until then, you're recovering from a head injury and he's prohibited it. Charlie knows all about it." Edward narrowed his eyes at her, and I tried to control my silent laughter. "Why did you have to choose a head injury?" he grumbled. They finally called us for boarding, and Alice went on in front of us. She turned right, but we were directed to the left by the very well-manicured male flight attendant, whose gaze was glued to Edward's body. "Why are we going a different direction than Alice?" I asked Edward. "Alice has decided to travel in business class to give us some alone time." "If she's in business class, what...holy crow!" I shot him an accusing glare. "We're in first class!" "It's a long flight, love. I want you to be comfortable." I gave up grumbling when I settled into the plush seat; I had more legroom than I knew what to do with. The chairs were high-backed and deeplyupholstered, isolating us from our fellow travelers, since there was no-one in the seats closest to us. The attendant came by and was very attentive to Edward, who brushed him off and ordered a glass of champagne for me. I protested, and he hushed me with a kiss, no doubt to show the attendant exactly where his sexual orientation lay. "Enjoy the last alcohol you'll be able to drink until you turn twenty-one." Then he whispered to me, "This is probably the last drink you'll ever have." The first glass was followed by a second and third. It was much tarter than the wine I'd had in Florence, but the bubbles softened the flavor. Flight
attendants of both genders were finding excuses to trail past our seats, and Edward repeatedly had to turn down the offer of drinks. In the end he relented and asked for a glass of water, stroking my engagement ring as he spoke to the dazed woman. The saccharine pleasantness turned cool after that, especially towards me. After the male attendant had brought my fourth glass of champagne, Edward leaned over to whisper to me. "He was thinking there's no way you can suck me as well as he could." I choked on the bubbles, and he offered me his water. "Is that what you normally have to put up with?" I asked when the fizzing up my nose had stopped. He nodded. "I've got a strategy for it now though ± I just replace whoever is doing the fantasizing with you. I find that's much more appealing." I blushed and finished the water, declining more champagne. All I could think about was taking Edward in my mouth again, and the taste of the alcohol was positively sour compared to him. The temperature of the cabin dropped gradually, and we snuggled under the blankets provided. It seemed everyone else was sleeping or engrossed in the in-flight entertainment, and the attendants had retreated to the galley. "You know, there's a common fantasy people have when they're on a plane," Edward murmured to me. He flicked his gaze in the direction of the bathroom, its light set to 'vacant'. "Eww. No!" I'd been to the bathroom a while earlier, and although the cubicle was a little bigger here in first class than the ones in economy, it was still a cramped space. It was still a bathroom. He huffed out a breath. "Fine. I just didn't know whether it was a fantasy of yours." His voice turned seductive. "It's one of the things I've had to replace you with in someone else's daydream, and I thought it was hot." He was running his fingertips over my neck and face, and the combination of his touch and voice caused my body to react. "Absolutely not," I hissed. "I just, I can't, it's ± ick!" I shuddered for emphasis. No matter how much I wanted to be with him right now, I couldn't bring myself to do it in a toilet cubicle. "I'm sorry," I whispered against his lips. Then inspiration struck me. "I do have an idea, but it will
only work if you keep completely silent, and you'll need to warn me if someone is going to walk past." He caught on quickly and grinned wickedly. "Oh, I can keep quiet. Can you?" He kissed me roughly, invading my mouth with his tongue, and his hand curled around my hip. I dragged my palm down from his chest, across his taut stomach, to the hard presence between his legs. "You first," I whispered, pulling his zipper down tooth by tooth, to keep the sound to a minimum. He shifted his hips impatiently. When the zipper was fully down, I pushed my hand in, surprised by straight in contact with his cool skin. "You're not wearing underwear," I gasped out. "Alice warned me not to," he breathed. "I didn't ask why." I curled my hand around him and pulled him free, though he remained concealed by the blanket, and started to stroke him slowly. Edward kept his promise and was quiet: he didn't even breathe. I tightened my fist and quickened my pace, and his eyes rolled back, his fists clenched tightly against the armrests. The strain was evident in his entire body, but the sight of his tensed muscles only increased my arousal. I pumped my hand as quickly as I could, sometimes running my thumb over the head, and I was greeted with a muted hiss whenever I did. I couldn't keep the speed up much longer, so I leaned in to kiss along his jaw line until my mouth was at his ear. "I wish I could get down on my knees for you." "Bella, fu - " He cut off his response by shoving a pillow in his mouth, and let his hips buck once before I felt him explode over my hand, the viscous liquid coating my palm and fingers. The expression on his face should have been frightening ± eyes black and fierce, his jaw set in a hard line, and his lips drawn back from his teeth in a snarl ± but it reminded me of him when he was above me, inside me. I associated that look completely with the moment of his pleasure. He drew my hand away from him and wiped it off with the cloth of the ruined pillow, fastening his jeans deftly with one hand. "That was hot," I told him, nuzzling into his neck. "I like seeing you lose control like that."
He shoved the ruined pillow into a paper bag and stowed it under the seat. "I like losing control like that," he said, rubbing his nose softly at the pulse point under my ear. "It's you. Only you can make me lose it like that." He kissed me tenderly, and eventually his fingers trailed to my breasts, and followed the same path I had made on him to the buttons on my jeans. He stroked at the patch of curls until he slid his fingers under the elastic of my panties. "You are wearing underwear. Shame." I couldn't respond. I'd bitten down on my lip to keep from crying out as he slid one cool finger between my wet, heated lips, sliding along their length until it returned to tap on the knot of nerves. The pressure was so light, and I could only beg for more with my eyes, because if I opened my mouth the whole plane would know exactly what we were doing. Another finger joined the first, gliding through my folds until he pushed both into me, leaving his thumb to stroke me. I swallowed back moan after moan, chewing on my lower lip until it was ready to bleed. "Here, love, bite down on this." He pushed another pillow between my teeth, and I clamped down obligingly. He was as thorough as he ever was in his quest to bring me pleasure, returning to those spots he'd discovered the last time he touched me like this, stroking them with the lightest touch. I grabbed his wrist and squeezed, trying to pull his hand to move faster. Every time the pleasure started to build, he moved onto another spot, leaving it to start building from the beginning. His thumb skimmed the softest of circles on me. All the while, he whispered to me, things that were dirty and sweet in equal measure. "I love you, Bella Swan, and I can't wait until you are Bella Cullen. I love the feel of you, wet and hot around my fingers, although not as much as I love being buried inside of you. I love the fact that I am the only man who will ever touch you this way, the only man who will ever see your sweet face as you surrender to ecstasy." He twisted his fingers inside in rapid movements that delighted every nerve in me. "I love the scent of you when you want me, and the taste of the wetness you produce when you are ready for me. I can't wait until I can suck you as
thoroughly as you do me. I can't wait until it's safe for you to drink me, if that's what you want to do. I can't wait to be able to take you as fiercely as I am able to, and know that we can make love for days without tiring." He curled his fingers now, repeatedly inside me against the place that responded the most, and I shook with the need to find release. His eyes were a black I could drown in. "Every day that we exist, I will seek to please you, in whatever form you want that pleasure to take. I will never grow tired of you, because you are my everything. My only love. My mate, my wife, my destiny. Mine." I whimpered and thrust my hips against his hand. So close« "Bella, my love, please won't you come for me?" He flicked his thumb over me one last time and I obliged, shuddering in the chair and spasming around his fingers, topaz fire burning behind my eyes and shooting through my veins as he continued to stroke me until I was spent. When I was completely still, lazing against him, he withdrew his fingers, and I heard the familiar suckling sound that meant he was licking them clean. He fastened my jeans because I couldn't; I could barely keep my eyes open. "Sleep, Bella. I'll wake you before we land." It still took me several minutes to drift off, as I had to wait for the high to dissipate from my veins, and let my mind and body drift back down to earth. He gently shook me awake when we were twenty minutes outside of SeaTac, and I shuffled off to the bathroom to clean myself up, taking the little bag of complimentary toiletries with me. My hair was a lost cause: it stood up in every direction, knotted from sleeping in the chair, and I wrestled with the tangles for several minutes before giving up. Alice had even packed a clean pair of panties in my hand luggage. I was thankful for the foresight, but on the other hand, I didn't like the idea that anyone had seen me doing that. It was bad enough that, despite her being in another section of the plane, she had undoubtedly heard everything. The male attendant had one last attempt at flirting with Edward when we exited the plane, and as we walked through the gate he discreetly tossed something in a trash can.
"His phone number?" I guessed, and Edward grimaced in response. We waited for Alice to disembark, and she strolled up still looking like a film star from the '50s. "Breakfast at Tiffany's was one of the movie choices," she said, grinning. "I adore that movie." We headed out to the baggage claim with me tucked under Edward's arm and pressed into his side. It was so weird to be back in America: everything felt so familiar, and yet so distant. It was hard to believe we'd only been gone for four days. Up ahead, there was a group being given a wide berth by the rest of the people in the terminal. It could only be our welcome party. Emmett was the first to greet us, bounding up to me and yanking me from Edward's hold, pulling me off my feet into a bone-crushing embrace. "I've missed you so much, Bella. No-one else in the family is as entertaining as you are." "Thanks," I panted out, catching my breath when he released me. "So," he continued, "I hear you popped Eddie's cherry in a courtyard. Dang Swan, I always thought there was something a little bit kinky about you. Public sex on your very first time? Nice!" He shut up at the identical glares from Edward and Rosalie. She'd walked up behind him, looking as breathtaking as ever, even if the shadows under her eyes were almost dark enough to match the pitch of her irises. "Edward, I'm sorry." He grunted non-committedly. "She could have been killed. If the Volturi found out - " "But they didn't," interrupted Alice. "And all's well that ends well." She wasn't looking at us she was staring at Jasper, who stood frozen some yards away, looking as pained as ever. "Bella," he began. "I need to apologize as well. But right now, I can't«I just can't." He gave Alice one last desperate look and backed away, disappearing into the crowd. Far from appearing upset, Alice clapped her hands together in delight, and she ran after him.
I turned to Edward, my heart in my throat. "Is it still so painful to smell me?" "No, love," Edward said softly. "It's not the blood at all that made him run. He was overwhelmed by the lust I'm feeling. He had to go, ah«work it off. That's why Alice has followed him." "Oh, God." I flushed and Emmett cackled, continuing even beyond Rosalie's murderous stare this time. Carlisle and Esme were the last to come forward, and Esme hugged me to her tightly, not letting go for several minutes. "It's so good to see you again, sweetheart. We've all missed you so much." "Thank you. I've missed you too." I glanced Carlisle's way over her shoulder, and he smiled warmly at me. "I'm glad Edward came to his senses, even if it involved a trip to Italy." "Glad I could help," I said, and Esme finally stood back. She beamed as she took in the way Edward stood so close to me. "I don't think I've ever seen you look so happy, Edward! I've got everything prepared - " She shut up at a glance from Edward, and I narrowed my eyes at him. "What have you done now?" "You'll like it, I promise." We ended up driving back in Emmett's jeep, since Carlisle and Esme had to wait for Alice and Jasper to return from«wherever it was they'd gone. Edward admired Carlisle's new Mercedes in the parking lot, and the male vampires spent several minutes locked in a discussion about car specifications. On the drive back, Rosalie pestered both of us for forgiveness. I didn't see what there was to forgive, and I said so. "It was a misunderstanding, and it's as much Edward's fault for jumping the gun."
He wasn't happy that I sided with Rosalie, but I mouthed 'practice' to him and he grudgingly forgave her. The journey to Forks went too quickly, even though it was dark by the time we reached the outskirts of town. Just before we turned onto Charlie's street, Edward leaned over to me. "I'll be waiting in your room." Then he leapt out of the jeep and fled into the tree line, swallowed quickly by the mass of greenery. We pulled up outside my house, and as expected the cruiser was parked in the drive. "Wish me luck," I said to no-one in particular. Emmett grinned at me in the rearview mirror, and Rosalie muttered "Luck". I climbed out and trudged to the front door, which swung open before I could reach for the handle. In the doorway stood Charlie, arms crossed over his chest, his expression inscrutable. "You've got some explaining to do." Italian translations: Addio alla primavera Farewell to spring Trattoria ± small restaurant, usually fairly cheap (a.k.a. the sort of places I can afford to eat in when I've been to Italy) Che bello rivederti! Questo deve essere Isabella? How lovely to see you again! This must be Isabella? Piacere Isabella! Alice era molto eccitato quando è venuta a vederci l'altro giorno. É questo l'anello? Nice to meet you Isabella! Alice was so excited when she came to see us the other day. Is this the ring? Le mie scuse, Silvana, non Isabella è l'italiano. Lei non capire una parola che dire! My apologies, Silvana, Isabella isn't Italian. She doesn't understand a word!
Signorina Cullen! Cosa creazioni sorprendenti avete per me? É questo Isabella? Miss Cullen! What amazing creations do you have for me? Is this Isabella? Esso è. Lei non parla italiano. It is. She doesn't speak Italian. Bella - Beautiful Bellissimmo! ± Very beautiful.
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