capitolo quarantadue bis

Andare in basso

capitolo quarantadue bis

Messaggio  simona80 il Dom 13 Mar 2011, 03:52

On the day of the wedding, Charlie paced nervously at the entrance of the Basilica in Assisi. He was nervous. And the fact that Bella and her bridesmaids were late didn't help matters.
He tugged at his bow tie as he waited, and then a vision in white velvet over organza floated through the front doors like a luminescent cloud.
Charlie gasped.
"Dad," Bella breathed, smiling with excitement as she walked towards him.
Rose and Alice helped divest her of her cape and adjust the layers of her skirt, straightening out the train that extended behind her. And then Cristina, the wedding planner who was hovering nearby, handed Alice and Rose their bouquets, which were a mixture of irises and white roses, designed to match their iris coloured dresses.
"You look pretty," Charlie mumbled, pressing a shy peck to Bella's cheek through her long veil.
"Thank you." She flushed, looking down at her bouquet, which consisted of two dozen white roses and a few springs of holly.
"Could you give us a minute?' He asked the bridesmaids and the wedding planner.
"Of course." Cristina pulled Rose and Alice to stand at the entrance to the sanctuary, signalling to the organist that the processional was about to begin.
Charlie smiled at Bella nervously.
"I like your necklace," he said.
Bella's hands flew to the pearls that hung around her neck. "They were Esme's."
She fingered the diamonds in her ears, too, but elected not to reveal their source.
Charlie nodded. "I wonder what she'd think about you marrying her son."
"I'd like to think that she'd be happy. That she's looking down on us and smiling."
Charlie nodded again and shoved his hands into the pockets of his tuxedo.
"I'm glad you asked me to walk you down the aisle."
"I didn't want to get married without you, Dad." Bella smiled at him.
He cleared his throat and lowered his gaze, shifting awkwardly in his rented shoes.
"I'm sorry I was a lousy father. I should have kept you when I took you away from Renee the first time. I never should have sent you back to her." His voice cracked.
"Dad," she whispered, tears overflowing.
He reached over and hugged her, trying to show her with his embrace what he couldn't say in words.
"I forgave you a long time ago. We don't ever need to speak of it again." She paused, looking up at him. "I'm glad you're here. And I'm glad you're my Dad."
"Bells." Charlie coughed in order to cover up the strange surge of feeling that welled up in him and then he released her with a smile. "You're a good girl."
He turned so that he could peer down the long aisle that led to the altar, to where Edward was standing nervously with his brother and brother-in-law. All three men were dressed in black Armani tuxedoes, with crisp white shirts. However, Emmett and Jasper had eschewed Edward's choice of bow ties in favour of regular ones because bow ties were, as Emmett put it, "for old men, young Republicans or professors."
"Are you sure about this?" Charlie asked his daughter. "If you have any doubts at all, I'll call a cab and take you home right now."
Bella laughed.
"No, Dad. Edward might not be perfect, but he's perfect for me. We belong together."
"I told him that I expected him to take care of my little girl. That if he wasn't prepared to do that, we'd have a problem."
"He said that if he treated you as anything less than the treasure you are, that I should come after him with my shotgun." Charlie grinned. "I said that suited me fine."
Bella giggled and shook her head.
"Okay then. Let's do this." Charlie offered Bella his arm and they nodded to the bridesmaids to begin the processional to J.S. Bach's Sheep May Safely Graze.
When Bella and Charlie entered the Basilica, to the melody of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, Edward's eyes locked with hers and a wide, excited smile spread across his features. The December sun shone in through the doors, illuminating the bride from behind and making her look as if a halo shone around her veiled head.
Edward couldn't stop smiling. He smiled through the entire Mass, including his vows to worship his wife and the performance of selections from Bach's Sleepers Awake and Mozart's Exsultate, jubilate by a solo soprano.
After the ceremony, he placed trembling fingers on Bella's veil and lifted it carefully over her face. He swiped his thumbs underneath her eyes, wiping away the happy tears that had trickled down, and kissed her.
The kiss was soft and chaste, but full of promise as their hunger for one another flared. Afterwards, husband and wife disappeared into the lower church and down to the crypt.
They hadn't planned to do so. Somehow, hands entwined, they found themselves walking to the tomb of St. Francis to spend a few minutes alone.
In the quiet darkness of the crypt, where Edward had his ineffable experience months earlier, they knelt in prayer. Each silently thanked God for the other, for the many blessings He had given them, for Esme and Maia, for their fathers and siblings.
When Edward finally stood and lit a single candle, each of them asked God for one more blessing. One small miracle out of the lavishness of his grace. As they ended their prayers, a strange but comforting peace wrapped around them like a warm blanket.
"Don't cry, sweet girl," Edward whispered as he took her hand to help her to her feet. He wiped her tears away and then kissed her cheeks. "Please don't cry."
"I'm so happy," she said, smiling up at him. "I love you so much it hurts."
"It's the same for me. I keep wondering how this happened. How did I ever find you again and convince you to become my wife?"
"Heaven smiled on us."
She reached up to kiss her husband next to St. Francis' tomb without shame, knowing that her words were truly spoken.
All Bella knew about the honeymoon was that Edward had planned everything and that he wanted it to be a surprise.
After the wedding dinner but before the dance had ended, he pulled her aside, eager to leave. They changed into their going away clothes, a dark suit for Edward and a purple dress for Bella, and then they sat side by side in a chauffeured car that he had arranged.
They didn't drive for long.
Soon the car was pulling up the drive that led to a villa near Todi. The very same villa that Edward had rented when they visited Italy the year before.
"Is it –?" She asked, as soon as she caught sight of the house.
"Yes, my love." He kissed the back of her hand as he helped her out of the car. Then he was taking her in his arms and carrying her across the threshold.
"Are you disappointed? I thought you'd prefer some quiet time to ourselves, but if not, we can go to Venice or Rome. I'll take you anywhere you want to go." He kissed her soundly and then placed her on her feet.
"No, Edward. This is perfect. I'm so glad you decided to bring us here."
She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him wildly.
At length, he pulled away with a laugh.
"I think we'll have to suspend kissing, at least until I've had the opportunity to carry our luggage upstairs. Are you hungry?"
Bella grinned. "I could eat."
"Then why don't you see if there's anything tempting in the kitchen, and I'll join you momentarily."
She leaned forward with a devilish look on her face.
"The only thing in the kitchen that would tempt me would be you … on top of the kitchen table …"
Her sultry suggestion hearkened back to their previous visit, when they'd christened that table several times. With a deep groan, he quickly carried their suitcases upstairs as if someone was chasing him.
In the kitchen, Bella found the pantry to be fully stocked, as was the refrigerator. She laughed when she saw several bottles of cranberry juice lined up on the counter, as if they were waiting for her.
She had just opened a bottle of white wine and finished preparing a cheese plate when Edward returned.
He seemed years younger as he raced into the kitchen, boyish even, his eyes bright and his expression cheerful. She watched as he ran his fingers through his hair and smiled.
"This looks delicious. Thank you." He kissed her cheek and sat at her side, glancing at the kitchen table significantly. "But I have to say that I'd rather our first few times occur upstairs in bed than on this table."
Bella felt her skin flush.
"This table has happy memories for me," she said.
"For me too. But we have plenty of time to make new ones. Better ones." He gave her a heated look.
She felt the flutterings of desire increase.
"Was the wedding everything you hoped for?" He gazed at her eagerly, pouring two glasses of wine.
"It was better. The Mass, the music … having the wedding in the Basilica was incredible. I felt so at peace there."
Edward nodded, for he'd felt that way too.
"I'm glad we only invited family and close friends. I'm sorry I didn't have much of a chance to talk to Katherine Picton, although I saw you dancing with her twice." Bella pretended to be offended.
He eyed her in mock surprise. "Really? I danced with her twice? That's pretty impressive for a septuagenarian. I'm surprised she could keep up with me."
Bella rolled her eyes at his pretentious choice of adjectives.
"You danced with Carlisle twice, my dear. I suppose we're even."
"He's my father now, too. And he's an excellent dancer. Very elegant."
"Better than me?" Edward feigned jealousy.
"No one is better than you, darling." She leaned over to kiss away his pout. "Do you think that he will ever marry again?"
"No," Edward said quickly.
"Why not?"
He took her hand in his and brought it to his mouth so he could kiss it, and then he caressed her knuckles gently, one by one.
"Because Esme was his Beatrice. And when you have experienced a love such as that, anything less would seem like only a shadow." He smiled sadly. "Strangely enough, it was the same in Esme's favourite book, A Severe Mercy. Sheldon Vanauken never remarried after his wife died."
Bella pondered his words quietly.
"That's how I feel about you, Isabella. Dante lost Beatrice when she was twenty-four and he spent the rest of his life mourning her. If I were to lose you, it would be the same for me. There will never be anyone else. Never," he emphasized, a fierce but loving look in his eyes.
"You aren't going to lose me," she protested.
"You're right. I'm not going to lose you. Even if we're separated in this life, we'll be together for eternity. In Paradise."
Bella blinked back tears valiantly, for she did not want to begin her wedding night by crying. But what he had just said touched her deeply.
"I wonder if my father will marry again." She changed the subject.
"Would it trouble you if he did?" He watched Bella's reaction carefully.
She shrugged. "No. It would take some getting used to, but I'm glad he's dating someone nice. He hasn't had much luck in the romance department and I'd like him to be happy. I'd like him to have someone to grow old with."
"I'm looking forward to growing old with you," said Edward.
"Me, too."
Husband and wife exchanged a look then finished their late snack in relaxed quietness. Afterward, Edward stood and stretched out his hand.
"I haven't given you your wedding gifts, yet."
She took his hand and her fingers touched his platinum wedding band. "I thought our gifts were our wedding rings and the inscriptions inside them: I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine."
"There's more." He led her to the fireplace and paused.
When they entered the house, Bella hadn't noticed that the artwork that hung over the fireplace previously had been removed. In its stead was a large and impressive oil painting of a man and a woman in a passionate embrace.
"It's beautiful."
Edward was silent.
She took a step closer to the painting, transfixed by the stirring image.
The male and female figures were wrapped around each other, the male naked to the waist and slightly underneath the female as if he were kneeling at her feet, his head resting on her lap. The female figure was bent forward, naked and wrapped carelessly in what appeared to be a bed sheet, clutching the male's back and sides and resting her head between his shoulder blades. In truth, it was difficult to tell where his body began and her body ended, so entwined they were, almost like a circle. Need and desperation leapt off the canvas, as if the couple had just made up after a fight or found each other after an extended absence. Or more likely, had drunk their fill of love and were tangled together nakedly, unwilling and unable to be separated.
It was a truly moving piece, but there was more. Much more.
"It's us," breathed Bella as she blinked in shock.
The male's face was partially hidden by the woman's lap, his mouth pressed down against her naked thigh. But it was Edward's face and his unruly hair, of that there could be no doubt. The female's face was Bella's, eyes closed in bliss, a small smile playing at the edge of her full lips as she faced the viewer. She looked happy, blissful even.
"But how?"
He stood behind her and placed his arms around her shoulders. "I posed for the artist and provided photographs of you."
He leaned forward to kiss the side of her neck. "Don't you recognize your posture? It's a study of some of the pictures I took of you in Belize. Do you remember the morning after you wore your corset for the first time? You were lying in bed …"
Bella's eyes widened in remembrance.
"Do you like it?" Edward's usually sure tone sounded surprisingly uncertain. "I wanted something –ah – personal to commemorate our wedding."
"I love it. It's beautiful. I'm just surprised."
His body relaxed.
"Thank you, Edward." She took his hand and gently pressed her lips to his palm. "It's a lovely gift."
"I'm glad you like it. But there's one more small thing."
He released her and walked over to the mantelpiece of the fireplace in order to retrieve a familiar looking golden apple.
"How did that get here?" Bella smiled.
"Open it, Mrs. Masen."
She lifted the lid and found a large, old-fashioned key atop the red velvet inside.
She met Edward's eyes quizzically. "A magic key? To a secret garden? Or to a wardrobe that leads to Narnia, Professor?"
"Very funny. Come with me." He caught her wrist and brought it to his lips, hesitating against her skin.
"Where are we going?"
"You'll see."
He led her out the front door, closing it behind them. They stood on the porch, surrounded by darkness that was illuminated only by the lights that hung on the stone walls.
"Try the key."
"What? Here?"
"Just try it." Edward rocked back on his heels, trying to hide his sudden anxiety.
Bella put the key in the lock and twisted it. She heard the lock click into place and then with a flick of her wrist, it unlocked and the door swung open.
"Thank you for becoming my wife," he whispered. "And welcome home."
She blinked at the now unlocked door in confusion.
"It's yours, darling. The entire estate is my wedding gift to you."
"Edward, you didn't … "
"We were happy here," he said softly. "I wanted us to have a place that we could escape to … somewhere with fond memories."
He reached out to lightly touch her arm. "We can spend our holidays here when we aren't in Forks. You could write your dissertation here, if you want. Although I'd have to accompany you. I couldn't bear to be separated from you for more than a day."
Bella flew at him and kissed him deeply, thanking him over and over again for his lavish gift.
They stood there for several minutes, revelling in one another's touch, their heartbeats quickening.
Without breaking the kiss, he picked her up and with a triumphant cry, carried her back inside the house and up the stairs to the master bedroom.
He found it difficult to let go of her once she was in his arms, but let go of her he did, twirling her in a circle and admiring the way the full skirt of her purple dress flared out as she spun.
"I believe I owe you something."
"And what's that?" Bella giggled as Edward pressed himself up against her back.
He reached over her shoulder to whisper to her. "Make up sex."
The tone of his voice goose pimpled her skin.
He rubbed his hands up and down her bare arms. "Are you cold?"
"No. Just – excited."
"Excellent." He brushed her hair aside so that his lips could find her neck and he began plying her with kisses. "And just so you know, I have a lot to make up for. In fact, I think it will take me all night."
"All night?" asked Bella, coughing slightly.
"All night and into the morning."
She had already begun to melt into his embrace by the time he retreated, pressing his mouth and tongue eagerly to the curve of her shoulder before letting her go.
"While you're getting ready for bed I want you to think about all the ways I'm going to please you."
He traced a single finger across her neckline in promise before releasing her with a provocative wink.
Bella gathered her lingerie from her luggage and disappeared into the washroom.
When she went shopping for something to wear on their wedding night, she had been intimidated. Edward already knew her naked body. She was unsure what to choose that he hadn't seen before. She wanted something special. Something elegant.
In a tiny shop on Newbury Street, she had found exactly what she was looking for – a long Merlot coloured silk-satin gown with a deep-v neckline. But its crowning glory was the crisscrossing laces in the back, which plunged to an almost indecent level. She chose the gown knowing that he would delight in undoing her.
In more ways than one.
She left her hair up and she swiped at her lips with a hint of sheer gloss before stepping into the black Dolce and Gabbana stilettos she had purchased for their honeymoon. And then she opened the bathroom door.
Edward was waiting.
He'd bathed the master bedroom in candlelight scented with sandalwood and Bella could hear soft music playing. It was a different playlist than they had enjoyed before, but she liked it nonetheless.
He walked toward her in his white shirt and dress pants, his shirt untucked and unbuttoned almost to his waist, his feet bare. He held his hand out and she joined him, winding her arms around his back.
"You're exquisite," he whispered, his hands almost trembling as they traced the bareness of skin that peeked through her laces. "I'd almost forgotten how lovely you are by candlelight. Almost, but not quite."
She smiled against his chest.
"May I?" He fingered her pinned up hair and she nodded.
A lesser man would have taken out the hairpins all at once, if he could have found them, loosing the strands quickly so that he could move on to something else. Something more appealing.
But Edward was not a lesser man.
Painstakingly, he combed his long fingers through her hair until he alighted on a hairpin and then he gently undid it, letting down a single curl. He repeated this procedure until Bella's hair fell like waves against her pale shoulders and her body was alive with want.
He cupped her cheeks and looked deeply into her eyes.
"Tell me what you desire, my love. The night is yours. I'm yours to command."
"No commandments." Bella tasted his lips twice. "Just show me that you love me."
"Isabella, I love you with all four loves. But tonight is a celebration of eros."
Edward plied her bare shoulders with urgent, heated kisses before standing behind her and stroking the exposed skin of her back.
"Thank you for your gift."
"My gift?"
"Your body, alluringly wrapped up just for me." He paused as his eyes swept down to her feet. "And your shoes. Surely after such a long day, they must be uncomfortable."
"I hadn't noticed."
He began to toy with the diamonds in her ears. "And why is that, my darling?"
"Because all I can think about is making love with you."
"I've thought of almost nothing else for days. For weeks." Edward inhaled sharply and begun running his hands up and down her bare arms. "Is it wrong of me to take pride in the fact that you've had no other lovers? That I was your first? And as of today, your last?"
Bella couldn't begin to answer his questions, especially since her entire concentration was focused on the feeling of his hands on her skin.
"I'm the only man to see you naked in all your glory and to know the sounds you make when you're pleasured. Your body recognizes me, Isabella. It knows my touch."
Beginning at her lower back, he undid the bow, sliding the satin laces painstakingly through his fingers.
Bella quivered.
"Am I making you nervous?" Edward reached over to lift her chin to the side so that he could see her profile.
"It's been a while …"
"I'll take that as a yes. Don't be nervous, darling. I'm going to take my time. The – ah – more vigorous activities will come later, after we're sufficiently reacquainted." He pointed his nose in the direction of a blank wall and Bella trembled.
He slowly pulled the laces open until her back was completely exposed. Then he placed the palms of his hands flat against her skin and began to skim them up and down.
"I burn for you, Isabella. All these months I've waited, waited to take you to bed, to know your body once more."
He turned her so that she was facing him and without ceremony pushed the straps of her nightgown down her arms. His eyes followed the sighing silk as it slid down her form before dropping to the floor.
She stood before him naked, blushing lightly, her hands at her sides.
"Magnificent," he breathed, his hungry eyes appraising every inch of her painstakingly slowly.
Not content to be the centre of attention, she took a step toward him and began to unbutton his shirt. She pushed it off his shoulders and pressed her mouth eagerly to his tattoo, nipping and kissing across his pectorals before making short work of his trousers.
Soon he was naked, also, and she saw evidence of his considerable arousal.
He moved to kiss her but she stopped him.
"You deserve to be worshipped, too," she said. And then with trembling fingers she began with his hair and explored his body, paying homage with fingertips and lips. His face, his mouth, his jaw, his shoulders, his sculpted chest and abdominal muscles. His arms and thighs and …
He caught her hand in his before she could wrap it around him and kissed her once more, whispering sweet things against her mouth. Words of devotion in Italian that she recognized as coming from Dante's pen.
He picked her up and carried her to the large, canopied bed, where he seated her just on the edge. Then he knelt on the floor in front of her.
"Where shall I begin worshipping you first?" he asked, his eyes slightly darkened as his hands travelled across her flat stomach and down her thighs. "Tell me."
Bella inhaled quickly and shook her head.
"Shall I start here?" He leaned forward to trace her lips with the barest tip of his tongue.
"Or here?" He caressed her breasts before placing them in his mouth, licking and teasing them.
She closed her eyes and gasped at the sensation.
"What about here?" His finger slowly encircled her navel before he fluttered his mouth across her abdomen.
She moaned and tugged at his hair. "All I want is you, Edward."
"Then have me."
She kissed him and he responded by enjoying her mouth slowly, setting a gentle languorous pace.
When he felt her heartbeat quicken, he took her left foot in his hand and began to remove her shoe.
"Don't you want me to wear them?" she asked, looking down at him. "I bought them for you, for tonight."
"Let's save them for later, when we christen the wall …" Edward's voice was a low, throaty whisper.
He slowly removed her shoes and spent a few moments massaging her feet, paying special attention to her arches. Then he pushed her to the centre of the bed and reclined beside her.
"Do you trust me, Isabella?"
He gave her a soft kiss on the lips. "I've waited a long time to hear you say that and to know that you mean it."
"Of course I mean it, Edward. The past is behind us."
"Then let's make up for lost time."
Tenderly, he began using his hands to touch and to tease, his movements deliberate but passionate. And then he added his mouth, nipping and sucking to the tune of her sighs. His heart swelled in gladness at her sounds and the way her body writhed from side to side under his touch.
When her hands moved up and down his back urgently, finally coming to rest on his backside, he spread himself atop her, bringing their bodies into perfect alignment like a celestial dance.
Staring down at her without blinking he began to whisper, "Behold, thou art fair, my love; thine eyes are as doves…. Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy mouth is comely."
Bella reached up to press their lips together before she answered him. "Refresh me with apples; for I am love-sick. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his precious fruits."
Edward moved so that their noses were inches apart. "Are you inviting me inside, my love?"
Bella nodded as a flash of heat raced across the surface of her skin.
"My beautiful husband. My soul mate."
"My brown-eyed angel. Open to me … my love, my dove."
His tongue played with her mouth as their bodies melted into one another and soon they were one, their collective sighs muffled by teeth and tongues.
Edward's rhythm was slow at first, like the patient lapping of waves upon a beach. He wanted this experience to last forever, for in that moment, as he gazed into the wide and loving eyes of his wife, he realized that their previous experiences, exciting as they were, paled in comparison with the sublimity of their current connection.
She was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. She was his soul mate and his wife and all he wanted was to bring her joy.
He was consumed by his adoration of this woman.
Bella traced his brows, wrinkled as they were in concentration, his eyes now shut tightly.
"I love that look," she murmured.
"What look?"
"Your eyes closed, your eyebrows furrowed, your lips pressed together … you only look like that when you … come."
He opened his eyes and she saws sparks in their verdant depths.
"Oh, really, Mrs. Masen?"
She bit at her lip and nodded. "I've missed that look. It's … breathtaking."
"You flatter me." Edward averted his eyes, slightly embarrassed.
"I want to have a painting or a photograph of that face."
He frowned at her playfully. "I think something like that might be a little too much."
Bella laughed at him.
"And this is coming from a man who decorated his bedroom with naked photographs of himself."
"Not anymore, darling. The only naked photographs in my bedroom are of you, my exquisite wife."
His rhythm increased, catching Bella by surprise.
As she panted out her pleasure, Edward buried his face in her neck.
"You're so enticing. Your hair, your skin. Your scent."
"Your love makes me beautiful."
He kissed her mouth hungrily. "Then let me love you forever."
She arched her back. "Yes, forever. Please."
Edward smiled against her skin and moved apace, his lips playing across her neck, sucking and drawing the skin lightly into his mouth.
In response, her hands grasped his hips, pushing and pulling him until she was close, very close.
"Open your eyes," he gasped, moving more quickly.
Bella gazed up into the dark but tender eyes of her husband, so alive with passion and true affection.
"I love you," she cried out, eyes widening and then closing as a great wave of pleasure overtook her.
This time, Edward didn't close his eyes as his brows furrowed in concentration.
"Isabella … I love you," he breathed with every movement, every glide of skin against naked skin, until they were both sated and still.
Just before sunrise, Bella awoke with a start.
Her handsome husband was by her side, his face boyish in sleep. The face of the beautiful young man she met on Esme's back porch. She gently traced his eyebrows and the stubble on his chin, a tremendous feeling of love flowing through her. A tremendous feeling of contentment and joy.
Without wanting to disturb him, she crept from their bed. She picked up his discarded shirt from the floor and put it on carefully before tiptoeing across the bedroom and out to the balcony.
The faintest hint of light teased out from the horizon, over the gently rolling hills of the Umbrian landscape. The air was chilly, far too cold to be outside in anything other than a hot tub, but the view was unspeakably lovely and she felt the need to drink in its beauty. Alone.
Her heart was so full she was afraid it would burst. Happy tears escaped her eyes and drifted down her cheeks.
Growing up, she felt so unworthy of having her deepest desires satisfied, of being loved absolutely. She didn't feel that way anymore. And this morning expressions of gratitude bubbled up from her soul, wafting heavenward unspoken.
Edward stretched out his hand to Bella's side of the bed, but found only her pillow. It took a moment for him to fully awake, exhausted as he was with the previous evening and early morning's activities.
They'd made love at least six times, by his count. And taken turns worshipping one another's bodies with mouths and hands.
He smiled to himself. All her fears and anxieties appeared to have vanished.
Was it solely because they were married now? Or was it because enough time had passed that she knew beyond doubt that he wouldn't take advantage of her?
He didn't know. But he was pleased because she had been pleased. And when she gave herself to him in a way that she'd never been able to before, he treasured that gift, knowing that it was given out of love and absolute trust.
Awaking to an empty bed made him nervous, however. So rather than indulge himself in these silent musings, he quickly went in search of his beloved.
It didn't take long for him to find her.
"Are you alright?" he called to her as he walked out onto the balcony.
"I'm wonderful. I'm happy."
"You'll catch pneumonia," he chided, slipping off his robe and wrapping it around her.
She turned to thank him and noticed that he was naked. "So will you."
He shook his head and grinned, positioning himself in front of her and opening the robe so that it wrapped around both of them.
She sighed at the pleasurable feeling of their naked bodies pressed tightly together and leaned her head against his chest.
"Was everything – to your liking?" Edward's voice was hesitant as he rubbed her back through the robe.
"You couldn't tell?"
"We didn't have a lot of conversation, if you recall. Perhaps I kept you up too late. I know we were making up but …"
"Edward, I'm fine. A little out of practice, but deliciously worn out." She flushed. "Last night was even better than our first time together. And certainly, as you put it, more vigorous."
He chuckled. "I concur."
"We've been through so much, I feel as if our connection is deeper." She nuzzled his shoulder with her nose. "And I don't have to worry about you disappearing."
"I will never leave you," he whispered. "And I feel the connection, too. It's what I wanted. It's what you deserve. When I touch you, when I look into your eyes, I see our history and our future." He paused and lifted her face so that he could see her better. "It's breathtaking."
Bella kissed him delicately and then she snuggled closer in his arms.
"I spent too long in the shadows." Edward's voice brimmed with emotion. "I'm looking forward to being in the light. With you. Forever."
She placed a hand on either side of his face, forcing him to see her.
"We're in the light now. And I love you."
"As I love you, Isabella. I'm yours for this life and the next."
He kissed her lips once more and then led her back into the bedroom.


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