The Path We Choose

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chapter 25


"Angel, you need to get up," my favorite voice in the world whispered as I felt a warm breath and then a wet tongue on my ear.

I shook my head, my eyes still closed, as I tried to snuggle back into my pillow.

Edward chuckled softly and then kissed my shoulder and I felt his arms pull me back towards him. I was still naked from the bath from last night…and from the hours of making love with Edward that followed.

It was one of the most special and meaningful nights of my life and I didn't want it to end.

The way he took care of me, worshiped me…and not just my body…but all of me, was something I would never forget.

Edward shifted our bodies until he was lying on top of me, his elbows by my head and his semi-hard erection pressed into my thigh. He ran his fingers through the tangled mess of my hair and I couldn't help but let my hands move to his back and allowed them to trace over the defined muscles there.

He bent his head down and lowered his lips to mine and chuckled at me when I kept mine pressed in tight line. "Bella, kiss me," he commanded in a low, gritty voice.

I looked into his mesmerizing green eyes, the ones that burned with love for me and shook my head at him.

Edward pouted; his bottom lip adorably stuck out and asked, "You don't want to kiss me?"

Moving my hands from his back to his chest, I pressed them against him because I knew as soon as I tried to answer him he would kiss me anyway.

I pushed against him, and said, "Morning breath."

As expected, that didn't stop him from swooping down to try to kiss me anyway. He ghosted his lips back and forth across mine and softly said, "Baby, we barely went to sleep just a few hours ago and you brushed your teeth then, besides I don't give a fuck. Now," he breathed out as his mouth closed over mine, "Kiss me."

His tongue traced over my lips insistently until I couldn't help but open my mouth and allow his tongue inside. Edwards's fingers tightened their grip in my hair and my hands went to his back again as his body relaxed to settle on top of mine.

I really, really loved to kiss Edward. It didn't matter what kind of kiss it was. Soft and gentle; quick but passionate; or the ones where he was almost desperate and needy like he seemed to be right now, I loved them all.

Edward moved his mouth from mine and began to kiss and lick his way down my neck and into the dip between my shoulder and collar bone, lightly grazing the skin there.

Jesus that felt so good.

I let out a quiet moan of pleasure when I felt his tongue trace indistinguishable patterns back and forth and up to behind my ear. My hands went into his hair immediately when he began to suck and bite at the spot behind my ear.

"God baby, that feels so good," I groaned as he pressed his now very hard cock against my aching pussy.

"How is it possible that I want you so much again Bella? I can never get enough of you," he panted breathlessly as my legs wrapped around him

"I need you again Bella. Please?" Edward pled, his voice tense and full of an emotion I couldn't place.

I picked his head up with my hands and held his face so that I could look at him. His eyes were closed and his breath was coming in quick, short bursts, like he was trying to keep himself from losing control.

My fingers traced over the creases in his forehead and over his cheeks and I felt him lean into my palm as my right hand rested on the side of his face.

"Edward talk to me. What's the matter?" I quietly asked him and waited for him to open his eyes and look at me.

"Oh baby," I gently said when his eyes found mine. He looked lost, afraid and it almost took my breath away.

He bent his head down and rested it on my shoulder and I ran my fingers through his hair while I waited for him put his thoughts in order.

My own thoughts were quickly spiraling out of control while I waited for Edward to tell me what was upsetting him. He was always so strong, so confident and sure about everything, it shocked me to see him like this.

I began to get more ashamed of myself the more I wondered what was going on with him. I had Jasper, Seth, Rosalie…him, but who did he have? Who did Edward talk to when he was angry or confused…or scared? I knew he would be hesitant to talk to me because he was so focused on keeping me calm, but keeping whatever bothered him bottled up inside didn't help anyone - least of all Edward.

"Come here sweetheart," I tenderly told him, my heart breaking as he silently complied.

I grabbed his face again and kissed his nose before I rolled us so we were lying face to face.

Placing my hand on his cheek I whispered, "I love you Edward, so much. Please tell me what is bothering so much this morning."

He took a ragged breath and spoke in a low, pained voice. "I'm so sorry baby; I don't know what's come over me. Last night and this morning was so amazing…overwhelming almost and when I woke up and you were in my arms Bella, I realized how much I fucking hated the thought of sleeping without you tonight. I don't have the words to tell you how much going to bed and then waking up with you every day for the past week almost has meant to me, angel…it's been…I mean…fuck." He took a frustrated breath and then began again, "I've hoped and dreamed of finding what we have Bella, since I was old enough to look at my parents and recognize how happy and in love they were, and I'm just so fucking scared of losing it when we leave our bubble here this afternoon," he finished in barely above a whisper.

His words were like a knife to my soul; not because of what he said, but because I never realized he would feel that way. Edward was my rock, my Superman. In my eyes he was perfect, strong…unafraid.

I pulled him to me and wrapped my arms as tight as I could around him…if I could have crawled inside of him I didn't think that would even be close enough. "My Edward, my love, I'm so sorry," I sobbed to him as I massaged his scalp with my fingers.

Edward shook his head at me and I stilled my fingers and positioned myself so that I could look in his gorgeous face. He opened his mouth to say something but I kissed him quickly on the lips and said, "Shut the hell up baby." Edward smirked at me and that made me feel a little bit better before I took a deep breath and told him, "I am sorry Edward. I've been so wrapped up in my own shit for the last week that I have totally disregarded your feelings. You've been so good to me for the past few weeks and so strong for me and I didn't realize until just a few moments ago how selfish I have been."

"Bella, no, I didn't mean for…" Edward started to say but I stopped him with a finger pressed to his lips.

"Yes, Edward, I have been. I know that none of this has been easy on you either. Well, let me amend that and say now I know. I can't believe I didn't even stop to think about what all this has done to you Edward. Can you forgive me?" I asked and my breath hitched as I tried to keep my emotions under control.

"Oh baby, there is nothing to forgive. Why would you even think there was?" he asked as he gently kissed my lips.

I allowed myself to melt against him for awhile, enjoyed feeling him close to me, feeling the warmth of his skin against mine. I ran my fingers over his chest and rested my palm against it and let the beats of his heart soothe me.

I still felt awful for disregarding his feelings the way I did and I vowed to myself that I would never allow something like that to happen again. Edward was my gift, a gift I could never repay…fate; God, whomever, whatever…for and I swore I would never take him for granted ever again.

Edward squeezed me in his arms and then rolled us over so that he was on top of me, and as he ran his fingers through my hair and kissed my forehead, eyelids, each cheek and then the tip of my nose, he quietly asked, "Now, my sweet girl, tell me why you think I need to forgive you for anything."

"I never want to take you for granted Edward, and I feel like, after I thought about it, that I have," I told him as I stared into the green eyes that told me so much.

Right now they were staring back at me, as he tried to figure out what to say back to me.

"Can you explain that statement to me please?" Edward quietly asked me.

I sighed deeply and closed my eyes for a brief moment before I opened them to find his looking intently at mine. "Sweetheart," I began as I pushed the hair that fell over his eyes back and then let my fingers trail up and down his arms, "You are the most important person in my world...I love you more than anything, than anyone baby. And while I know you know that, I hate that I don't always act like it. I ran away up here without giving what you would think about it a second thought. I know you told me to come up here," I quickly told him when I saw he was about to respond, "But that does not negate the fact that I decided to leave the city without talking to you first. Was it the right thing to come up here, of course it was. Was it right for me to decide to do it without asking you for your opinion, hell no. Would I be angry if you did the same thing I did, if I am being honest with myself, I have to say yes I would."

"Bella…angel, you know I understand why you had to come up here after Pop gave you the letter from Charlie," Edward tried to argue with me.

I smiled gently at him; he really did not want me to be angry with myself.

"I'm not saying you don't understand Edward, I am saying if I were you I would have been angry, or at the very least hurt that I left without even asking what you thought about it." I prodded him. "Can you honestly tell me it didn't hurt your feelings at all that Seth was the one that was up here with me and not you?"

He stared at me intently as he processed what I just asked him. Maybe he'd never really thought about it, or maybe he didn't want to admit it, but when the realization of the accuracy of what I just said hit him, he dropped his head and shook it silently.

I felt the tears fall from my eyes as my heart broke. How could I have been so fucking stupid? Yes it was emotional and a shock to see Carlisle and Esme. It was an understatement to say that receiving a letter from a man who had been dead for almost five years was overwhelming. It is unfair and difficult to understand having a mother that emotionally abandoned her daughter before the age of eight. But that still did not excuse the way I had treated Edward, even though it was certainly not done on purpose.

Yes, Seth has been a constant presence in my life since the moment I was born, the person that had been there for every single thing…trivial, momentous, devastating and everything in between…but that did not mean that it wasn't time to let him go. He would forever and always be my best friend, the brother of my heart but he was no longer the most important man in my life.

That title belonged wholeheartedly to the one in my arms, the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life loving and caring for.

"Edward, can you look at me please?" I choked out, barely able to force the words from my throat because I was trying to keep from completely breaking down.

He picked his head up slowly, like he was afraid that he had upset me somehow. Silly, adorable man.

I smiled at him softly as his eyes hesitantly settled on mine and I felt his body relax with each passing moment, "Edward Anthony Cullen," I began so full of emotion I was barely able to speak, "I love you with every ounce of my being and I am completely and totally yours and yours alone. I knew it almost from the very instant we met that you had the other half of my heart and that with you, I would find true happiness, that I would find my home. You asked me to let you take care of me not too long ago and now I am asking the same of you. You don't always have to be so strong Edward, its okay if you get angry or upset with me and while I may view you as my own personal Superman, you are allowed to be scared sometimes. And sweetheart," I gently said as I stared into his eyes once more and tried unsuccessfully to stop the tears that fell from my eyes, "When those times happen, you know you can come to me."

"Isabella, my love," Edward sighed as he pressed his forehead against mine, "I love you so fucking much baby, and I am yours just as completely as you are mine…forever and always."

He kissed me then, claiming my mouth as well as the rest of my body and I loved every damn second of it. Our bodies aligned without even a conscious thought and he slid into me effortlessly. We were in perfect sync with one another, our movements fluid and slow.

Edward lifted his body up and I missed the weight of him immediately…until I looked into his eyes.

He knelt on the bed; my knees spread open around him. My thighs rested on top of his as he continued to move in and out of me.

"Bella, look at me," Edward quietly but forcefully demanded of me.

I focused my eyes on him, feeling his gaze burn into my soul.

He stared at me for untold moments, our breathing the only sounds in the room. If there was anyone awake downstairs, I couldn't tell, didn't care. All that mattered was Edward and I in this bed, in this moment in time together.

"Watch us Bella…look at our bodies together," he breathed out, his voice gritty and raw. "There is nothing I love more in this world than you, than making love to you, than feeling you surround me," Edward ground out as I brought my knees up to my side and felt him go deeper inside of me.

I lowered my eyes and watched him glide in and out of me, "Oh my God," I moaned, feeling the coil tighten in my stomach. "We are so beautiful together Edward," I whispered, my love for him…my need for him completely threatened to consume me.

"Remember this, Bella, this moment right here. This is everything baby…fucking everything…you and me…" He groaned as my hips rose off the bed to meet his thrust.

"Oh fuck…baby…I'm so close," Edward panted as his fingers curled around my hips.

I closed my eyes and threw my head back on my pillow, losing myself in feeling him move in and out of me.

"Open your eyes Bella, don't stop looking at me…please?" he begged his voice strained from the emotions he was trying to keep inside.

At his request, as I found his eyes with mine and watched his face soften and a gentle, relaxed smile appear I knew that he was coming back to me. "I love you so much Edward," I said as I exhaled slowly.

"My sweet girl, I love you, too. Now, come with me Bella…let me feel you," Edward implored me.

At his words…his voice…I let go…my body responded to him as if I was his instrument to command.

"Yes, my Bella, my love…yes baby…oh god so fucking good…" he said as he threw his head back and released into me.

He was magnificent in his passion and all mine.


Edward collapsed forward on top of me when he was finished, our breathing evened out as we continued to lay there. I ran my hands through his damp hair; loving him more than I ever thought was possible.

He was my entire world…my everything…and I would never, ever take him for granted again.


We finally made it downstairs, only to find that everyone had already eaten breakfast. I blushed horribly when Emmett and Rose both raised their eyebrows at me and then Edward as we made it outside to the deck carrying our plates of food.

Luckily, there was plenty of food left from yesterday's breakfast along with muffins and fruit I had gotten ready last night so that Esme and Diane did not have to prepare too much.

I felt suddenly guilty for leaving the care of my guests to the two of them and Edward must have caught the slightly panicked look I am sure I had on my face as I thought about what they must think of me.

"Bella, stop it. No one expects you to wait on all of us. We're family, not paying guests and we are all adults, too. Everyone knows how to heat up food in microwave…well except for the big oaf over there," Edward told me with a quirk of his eyebrow, letting me know that I would not be winning this particular argument with him at all.

"I just feel bad making your mom and aunt take care of feeding everyone, Edward. I invited you all up here; I certainly never meant to not take care of feeding people," I huffed at him.

"Hey, what do you mean I can't heat up food in a microwave, Ed?" Emmett questioned as what Edward said about five minutes ago finally seeped into his brain.

Edward laughed at his brother and popped a bit of muffin in his mouth before he said, "About time you caught that Em. Where is everyone?" Edward asked as he finished his coffee.

He looked so much better than he did when he first woke up, more relaxed and content.

Emmett finished up his food too and set the plate down before he answered, "Ma and Pop took the twins down by the lake to watch Seth, Uncle Marcus, Demetri, Tanya and Heidi on the boat. Aunt Diane is up in their room packing and Jasper, Ali, Ben, and Angela are on the four wheelers.

I watched Edward's eyes light up as he looked at the water and giggled lightly to myself; he was such an overgrown kid sometimes.

Standing up, I walked over to him and took the plate from his breakfast from his hand. I bent down and kissed the top of his head and said, "Go have fun baby, I have some things to do here anyway."

He shook his head, "No Bella, I'll stay and help you."

Edward tried to look sincere, he really did, but I knew he really wanted to go out on the boat. It was one of the things he was most looking forward to doing while he was up here.

I shook my head back at him, "Go, Edward. It's okay. Really."

"Are you sure you'll be okay Bella?" He sweetly asked me as he stood up and stopped in front of me. "I'll stay if you need me to angel."

I stood on my tip toes and kissed his jaw and then pulled his head down to meet mine. "I'm sure Edward, take Emmett and go have fun on the boat. Spend some time with the kids and your parents. I'll be fine; Rose is here to keep me company anyway."

"Fuck yeah, little brother; let's get the hell outta here. There is no way Dem is driving that boat and not me!" Emmett hollered as he slapped Edward on the back. "Thanks, Sweet B, I promise to return him in exactly the same condition when we get back."

Emmett kissed me on the cheek and then swept Rosalie up in his arms. "Try not to miss me baby, I'll be back before you know it," then proceeded to kiss her until she was limp in his arms. He stood her up and slapped her soundly on the ass. "Later, baby!"

He ran into the house to go change into some board shorts and a t-shirt and Rose was still standing where he left her…still looking dazed and confused.

I truly never thought I would see the day when a man turned Rose's world upside down like Emmett Cullen had.

I giggled at her and waved my hand in her face, "Le, are you all right? You look a little stupefied there."

She shook her head to try to clear the cobwebs out and narrowed her eyes at me, "Shut it Swan, you look at Dr. Dad like that every damn time he walks into a room!"

"Damn straight she does!" Edward chuckled before he walked to stand beside me.

I turned to look at Edward who was looking quite smug as he grinned at me. I wanted to deny it, but really, who was I trying to kid. Everyone knew I was absolutely crazy about him so there was no point in even trying.

"Get the hell out of here Kit Kat before I put your old ass to work," I giggled at him as he put his sunglasses on.

Edward Cullen in low slung black and green board shorts, a tight black t-shirt, flip flops and sunglasses is about the sexiest damn thing I have ever seen in my life and that is no fucking lie.

He started to walk down the stairs of the deck towards the dock and turned around to blow me a kiss. "Love you, Jelly Bean."

God, he really did turn me into a big heaping pile of goo when he did shit like that.

I smiled at him and blew him a kiss back, "Love you too, baby. Keep an eye on the time, ok? I think everyone wanted to leave by 4:00."

The gorgeous smile that had just been on his face dimmed just a bit at my reminder but nevertheless he said, "Sure thing beautiful. See you soon," before he turned around and walked to the lake.

Emmett came barreling out the door and ran to catch up to Edward, wrapping an arm around his head and put him in a head lock. "I still got it baby brother," Emmett laughed at him as Edward tried unsuccessfully to get out of it.

I looked at Rose and the two of us burst out laughing and as she hooked her arm in mine and we walked inside, the last thing we heard was the sound of Emmett screeching, "Damn it, Edward, not the junk dude!" as we shut the door.

We walked to the kitchen where she sat down at the island while I went to the refrigerator. I was going to make some pasta salad for lunch, along with some sandwiches, and then whatever was left from the past few days. Everything else was going in the trash since it would be a while before we could come back. I hadn't quite decided what to do for Edward for his birthday. I really wanted to come back up here, but had almost decided to wait until the Fourth of July for that. There was an amazing fireworks display on the lake for that and I had an incredible view from the deck.

I was vaguely aware of some upcoming appearances I had to make for Volturi and I knew that a few of those involved some out of town trips. I would definitely need to meet with Angela when we got back to the city sometime after tomorrow to get a handle on it all. I was in the homestretch now, the end of my contract was so fucking close I could almost taste it and there wasn't anything that could get in the way of that now.

Except…right, some crazy ass freak out there that was taking pictures of Edward, Maddie, Masen, and I.

I had forgotten about that little piece of truth for about five minutes and when I remembered, it made my hand falter and I dropped the knife that was in my hand.

"You okay, Bell?" Rose questioned from her spot at the island.

I turned to look at her, my face must have been awash with…something because Rose jumped from her stool and rushed to my stand in front of me.

She grabbed my hands and anxiously said, "Bella, talk to me. What is the matter all of a sudden?"

I looked in her eyes that were frantically traveling over every inch of my face and then she held my hands out from my body and checked my hands, I guess to make sure I hadn't cut myself or something.

My breathing was finally starting to slow down again and when I finally found her eyes again, I said, "Sorry, I spooked myself there for a second." I shrugged my shoulders at her, hoping that would appease her.

"Bullshit, Isabella Marie," my best friend immediately told me back, her eyes narrowed as she stared directly at me.

Shit…Rosalie is the world's best bullshit detector…forgot about that.

"Talk to me sister," she quietly, but very determinedly told me as she picked the knife up off the floor and set it back on the counter and then she pulled me over the island and set me down on a stool.

"Sit," Rose commanded and then she went to the cabinet and pulled out a glass and then walked to the fridge and poured me a glass of Coke with lots of ice.

She knows me so well!

After she placed the glass in front of me and sat down beside me, she waited for me to take a drink…damn that tasted soooo good!

As soon as I set the glass down, she pounced, "Now Bell, what the hell is going on?"

I took a deep breath and looked out the back window and smiled when I thought about Edward out there on the water somewhere, enjoying the sun and hopefully not getting killed by Seth, Emmett, or Demetri when he was water skiing.

There would seriously be some major ass kicking commencing if any one of those idiots put so much as a scratch on my man!

The smile that came to my face as soon as I thought his name caused me to sigh again and when I reached up to take my pendant in my fingers, I felt my body instantly calm as I held it.

I turned to Rosalie and said, "I just forgot for like five minutes about the letters J showed us and then when I remembered, everything just kind of rushed back."

"Bell, you know we will all do everything we can to make sure you are safe, Edward and the twins, too," she quietly said.

Reaching over I took her hand in mine and said, "I know Rose, let's hope it doesn't even get to the point where that becomes necessary. Like Edward told me yesterday, we're not even sure what's going on right now. I mean it's only those two letters. I know I've gotten more besides those two, anyway…those might be completely random and the only ones I will get like that," I finished, knowing I was trying to convince myself as well as her that I was correct.

The look she gave me didn't help to convince me and she knew what I did. These letters felt…off, and I had a sinking feeling they wouldn't be the last.

I squared my shoulders and slipped off the stool so that I could continue making lunch. There were still some things that need to be done around the house before I could leave anyway. I needed to strip all the beds and wash the sheets, throw out all the food that wasn't eaten, which wasn't much thankfully, due to the presence of Emmett, Seth, and Demetri. I also needed to lock up the four wheelers and make sure the boat was tied up.

After a few minutes of mindless chopping and mixing I turned to Rose and narrowed my eyes at her for a change, "Want to tell me what's going on with you and the other Cullen brother?"

I was done worrying about hate mail and modeling appearances and the fact that Edward and I would be apart in a few short hours…besides I was dying to know!

She looked at me, her eyes bulging out of her head and she sputtered out the drink of water she had just taken, "Whhhaatt…. I mean….shit..." she managed to get out as she continued to cough for a few seconds.

I giggled at her, her reaction telling me more than I could have hoped for.

Once she finally had herself under control she rolled her eyes at me, "Not a word Bella."

I laughed at her. Rose hated to admit to any kind of weakness and she viewed getting all lovesick over a man as almost the biggest weakness she could imagine.

Didn't mean she wasn't nuts about Emmett though, because she sure as hell was, but I wasn't going to push. If I waited long enough, she would tell me what I wanted to know.

"Fucking hell Bell," she exclaimed, letting out a frustrated breath.

I knew if I waited long enough, she'd spill!

Turning to look at her, I cocked my eyebrow at her, indicating she should continue…like right now. I was dying to know if Rosalie Whitlock was officially off the market. I had a distinct feeling that she was, I just needed her to confirm it for me.

"He's everything I could ever want in a man Bella," she whispered, sounding like she couldn't believe it.

Which, she probably couldn't…especially with someone like Emmett. On the surface he seemed completely wrong for her. He was loud, boisterous, silly, and seemed like he didn't have a care in the world. But underneath all that, the true Emmett Cullen was loving, gentle, and as fiercely loyal to his friends and loved ones as Rosalie was to hers. He balanced her perfectly, as she did him, and I could not be happier for my best friend.

"Is he excited about you moving to the city?" I asked, knowing that excited and Emmett went along hand in hand.

She giggled like a school girl and nodded, "That, BFF, would be a complete understatement."

I stopped what I was doing and gazed at her as she stared out the window. I had never, not in almost twenty years, seen Rose look as calm and as at peace as she did right now. She needed Emmett, and even though I knew everything going on with me was the catalyst for bringing her and Jasper home, I couldn't find it in me to be upset about that. Jasper and Rose had both given up more for me than I had a right to expect and knowing that they had each found their someone special helped ease my guilt…minimally.

I would never lose it, even fifty years from now when we had all been happily married and had children and grandchildren of our own, I would still feel the twinge of guilt I got every time I thought about it.

"Stop it Bella," Rose said softly when she turned to face me again. "I know that look. You're feeling guilty again. God damn it Bell, are you ever going to get it in your head that there is nothing, fucking nothing for you to feel guilty about. Jesus woman, you're like a dog with a damn bone."

Chuckling at that, because I really couldn't help it, I sighed. She and Jasper and Seth would never, ever understand my feelings on this. We'd been having this same damn discussion for almost five years now and we hadn't made any progress on it. They told me we were family it was just what people did, I argued none of them should have had to give up anything for me in the first place.

It was a never ending battle. If I wasn't so sure I was right, I would just admit defeat and move on, but I couldn't. No matter what they said or what example of something good that had come from all of this they gave me, the facts remained the same. The three of them put their entire lives on hold for mine so that I could try to save Charlie, and that was something I could never fucking ever repay.

"What the fuck ever Rose," I told her, giving her my favorite response and the one I knew would bring a smile to her face and allow me to change the topic.

"Have you decided where you are going to stay yet? I'll have you know your stupid ass brother almost gave my man a heart attack letting him think you were going to be staying with me." I laughed, remembering Edward as he told me about that.

I couldn't agree with him more though, we really were going to be extremely limited in the amount of time we could spend together once we got back to our schedules tomorrow and I couldn't bear the thought of having to share him or have our time together not be ours alone.

Lord knows I loved Rose to the ends of the Earth, but still, I was so happy she wasn't going to be staying at the loft with me.

She traced patterns on the counter top with her finger as she answered me, "I think I am going to stay with Alice. Her apartment is close to Dr. C.'s house, your loft, and the office. Besides, Emmett doesn't live too far away from there, either," she finished with a smile.

"I give you like a month before you and he are living together," I laughed at her. "Esme won't even have time to find you a house!"

"Did I hear my name?" Esme chuckled as she and Carlisle walked into the kitchen, my little Rufus tagging along.

I bent down and scooped him up in my arms and giggled as he tried to lick my entire face. I loved him, but that was just nasty. I kissed him on top of his head and let him down on the floor and I shook my head at him as he slid across the floor to his food bowl. He was getting so big now!

My eyes searched for Maddie and Masen, since I knew they had been with Esme and Carlisle down by the dock.

Carlisle strode over to me and stood beside me and said, "Edward has them on the boat with him. Dem and Seth got on the jet skis."

"Did Edward get the smaller life jackets out of the shed?" I asked him quickly, prepared to kick Edward's ass if he didn't.

Carlisle snickered at me and laid a comforting hand on my arm. He turned his head to me and leaned in to press a quick kiss on my cheek, "Of course he did Bella. But, I can't tell you how much it pleases me that your first instinct was to be angry with him for forgetting. You love Maddie and Masen very much, don't you?" he asked.

I stared out the window, knowing I couldn't see him and absentmindedly picked up my pendant and rested it against my lips. Turning to face Carlisle I whispered, "As much as if they were my own Dr. C."

"Come with me little one," he said to me as he took my hand to lead me to the deck. "Es, I am going to talk to Isabella for a bit, we'll be right outside if you need us."

"Of course dear. Bella, I'll finish getting lunch ready if that's ok?" Esme asked me as she looked at Carlisle and I with a tender look on her face.

I nodded at her, really, what else could I do?

Carlisle led me to the deck, picking the loveseat to sit on and pulled me down next to him. He still held my hand and we sat in silence for a time. I enjoyed it…immensely. Carlisle Cullen exuded calm, serenity, and strength…it literally poured off of him and I basked in it.

He was much different than Charlie. Whereas my father was guarded and reserved, Carlisle was open and giving. Neither was better than the other, they were just different types of people.

After a few more moments, I felt Carlisle squeeze my hand and I looked at him. He stared out at the water still, not looking at me but he said, "It's not your fault Bella."

My breath hitched and I made a move to get up but he was surprisingly strong and he gripped my hand harder. "You have to stop blaming yourself sweetheart. It wouldn't have mattered if you would have been a match for Charlie or not, the chances are minute that you would have been able to save him."

I immediately felt my eyes fill with tears, my vision blurred as they poured out of my eyes. I shook my head at him, wanting so much to believe him, but not being able to let that one last thing go that I had desperately clung to for the past five years. If I couldn't have saved him, then I, along with Jasper, Seth, and Rose sacrificed everything we had…for absolutely nothing.

Carlisle turned to look at me and had his arms wrapped tightly around me in the blink of an eye. I had been hugged by Seth and Jasper, and Edward too, but having Carlisle hug me like he was…well, I hadn't felt like that in a long time…before Charlie even got sick to be honest.

The last paternal hug I had like the one I was currently receiving had been at one of my games before I had gotten hurt. Charlie and Sue had come to Oregon to watch us play our biggest rivals and we had gone out to breakfast before the game when Charlie pulled me aside and hugged me like he was afraid I was going to disappear. After that hug, he kissed me on the side of the head and said, "Love you so much Bells, I am so proud of you," before he walked to his car. It wasn't long after that when I got the news that he was sick.

Carlisle kept me tucked in close to him and shifted us so that I was leaning against his shoulder when he began to speak again, "Bella, I know you may not want to hear this but it is time you knew. I want you to know sweetheart, that I tried as hard as I could, used every treatment I could think of to save your father. But by the time I was brought in, he was just too far gone to do much else besides try to keep him comfortable."

"Then why the test, why did we go through all of that if there was no hope?" I begged him, hoping that he could give me an answer, since neither Charlie nor Renee could.

He shook his head at me lightly and spoke softly, "As a physician Bella, you always have to have hope. Were the chances that a successful bone marrow transplant would be enough to save your father worth it? No one knows for sure. But, my dear, sweet, Isabella, you have to know how much your father truly wanted you to be a match, how desperate he was to try the transplant."

"But why, Dr. C.? I don't understand," I sobbed to him.

I didn't understand that at all. If Charlie knew the chances were so slim that it would work, why did he push for it so much?

"Bella, from talking with Esme then and now, and after listening to Jasper I can only surmise, but I do have an opinion if you want to hear it?" Carlisle asked me quietly.

I nodded my head at him and he began as he pushed my hair back behind my ear and kissed me on top of my head, "I can imagine that he did it as a way to make it up to you for all the horrible things that had happened to you. You were abandoned emotionally by your mother for the majority of your life, he watched your soccer career and life's dream go up in smoke in the blink of an eye when you got injured, and your father was a police chief Bella, do you really believe he didn't find out that Renee was pressuring you to sign that damn contract so that you could run that test and bring me in?"

I gasped; I did not want to think of Charlie knowing what I was doing with the contract.

"Bella, honey, I am quite sure he realized what you were giving up to try to save him. I can also conclude he knew what it would do to you if it didn't work, but also how it would make you feel if by some miracle it worked. He didn't want you living the rest of your life feeling like you had given up on your dreams to save him and then feel guilty when it didn't work. You are also going to have to come to terms that we may never truly know what his reasoning was Bella. He was dying and he knew that. I am certain of that. The other things, well we may never know," Carlisle finished and rested his hand on my hand.

"I didn't want him to know, Carlisle. I've never even allowed myself to think he might have in all this time," I whispered to him.

"I know little one. Your dad loved you very much, Isabella… that is another thing I know with one hundred percent certainty. He loved the other three as well; he talked endlessly about the four of you in between your visits to the hospital," he chuckled.

"Oh, goodness, I can only imagine," I giggled. There really was no telling just which stories Carlisle and Esme had already heard.

"I have another theory, if you'd like to hear it Bella," Carlisle said after a moment, his voice sounded somewhat wary and anxious.

I sat up and looked at him when I noticed it and he was staring intently at me.

Nodding my head at him, he began, "I believe everything that happens to us Bella, is for a reason. We may not understand it at the time, but I do believe in fate. While I would never, ever wish for what happened to Charlie on him or on you, I sincerely trust the fact that I was sent to Seattle five years ago for reasons that go beyond the boundaries of medicine. You, Jasper, Seth and Rose became like children to Esme and I. I have mentioned this before, but I had never met people that affected me the way the four of you did. Not ever before and not since. And then for you and Edward to find one another in a city of over eight million people is not something I am willing to admit happened just by chance. The four of you, but especially you Isabella, have been what this family had been missing for so long now. Edward could never be as happy with anyone else as he is with you. He is the man I have always known him to be because of you. Happy, carefree, at peace…totally in love with the woman he is meant to spend the rest of his life with. And my grandchildren little one? My god, do they ever love you. Before you and Edward even expressed your feelings to the other, I had pictures of weddings and family visits to the park and the four of you in front of a Christmas tree decorating my office at home. So many I had to beg them not to draw me any more because I didn't have anywhere else to hang them." He laughed lightly at that and shook his head.

I was in shock, utterly stupefied by what he told me.

Carlisle took a deep breath and finished, "I believe with my whole heart Isabella Marie Swan at some point to be Cullen, that fate brought our families together. It is no accident or even coincidence that Rosalie and Emmett are so perfectly matched or that Jasper has put a smile on the face of my daughter that I have never seen before. Tanya is like one of my own and Seth is the only man I have ever known that has truly accepted her for who she is on the inside and not for what the world sees on the outside. And you, my precious daughter of my heart, there is no way that anyone could be more perfect for my son than you are. The four of you complete my family and that is a gift I will never be able to repay. I know I will never take the place of Charlie, but I am always here for you if you need me Bella, and I love you as much as any of my other children," he finished with tears in his eyes.

I threw my arms around Carlisle then and hugged him as if my life depended on it. I couldn't even speak so I hoped he was able to understand what I was trying to tell him without being able to voice them. How do you articulate to someone that he had just given you what you have wanted your entire life with just a few words? I had a family now, one that loved me completely, loved Seth, Jasper and Rose too. They accepted all of us and it was…everything.

I kissed his cheek, "Thank you, Carlisle. I love you and Esme so much," I was able to whisper to him as I sat back and wiped the tears from my face.

"Love you too, little one. And just remember," he said as he stood up, "if Edward ever steps out of line, let me know. I may be older than him but I will kick his ass if he hurts my Bella," he said as he kissed my head one last time before he went inside.

I followed him inside after a few minutes and went to head upstairs to finish getting things done so that I could close up the house for the next few weeks until we could come back. Rose caught my eye as I entered the kitchen and I just nodded my head at her, letting her know that I was okay. Esme gave me a gentle smile and I kissed her on the cheek before telling her softly, "I love you. Thank you for all you've done," and then made my way to my room.

I was busy stripping the sheets off the bed when I felt a pair of arms around my waist and felt two warm lips against my ear. "I think that is my favorite bed in the whole world," Edward whispered as he licked the outside of my ear.

"Mmmm, why's that?" I breathed out as I turned around in his arms and felt his mouth as it went to the side of my neck.

He smelled mouthwatering. Sun, sweat, and of purely Edward…there really wasn't anything that smelled any better.

"Well, if you must know," he said as he lifted his mouth up off the side of my neck, but not before he sucked on the spot behind my ear, "I think I have fallen more in love with you every day since I've been here and been able to go to sleep and wake up with you in my arms in that bed."

Edward had moved his lips to mine then and began to kiss me; his fingers immediately plunged into my hair as he held the back of my head to him. He walked us forward until I felt my knees hit the side of the bed and we fell backward, never losing contact with each other. He maneuvered us so that his thigh was between my legs and then my arms pulled him down to me.

His tongue circled mine, and I lost myself in kissing him. Firm, deep strokes of his tongue followed him nibbling on my bottom lip and then my top. The kiss seemed to go on and on until I was completely unaware of everything around me except for him.

Holy hell the man knew how to fucking kiss!

"I missed you this morning, baby," he huskily said as he pressed his middle against mine and began to slowly rock back and forth.

I ran my hands up under his shirt and relished in the way his warm skin felt against my fingers. "I missed you, too Edward, so much baby," I moaned out as I dug my fingers in the tight muscles of his shoulders as I wrapped my legs around him.

"Jesus Bella, you feel so good angel," Edward groaned as I dug my heels in his ass and pressed him more into me.

The sounds of doors opening and closing inside the house as well as on the car doors outside brought me out my Edward induced haze and I placed a hand on the side of his face and said with a sigh, "We need to stop Edward. Everyone is starting to get ready to go and I have a few things left to finish before we can leave."

He laid his forehead against mine for a few seconds before he kissed the tip of my nose, "Okay," he said as he let out a frustrated breath, "Let's get this show on the road." He quickly kissed me on the lips and stood up and held his hand out to me.

I looked up at him, wishing more than anything that in a few short hours we weren't going to be saying goodbye and he must have been able to tell what I was thinking because he gave me a smile that melted my heart and said softly, "It'll be okay sweet girl. Together, remember?"

I nodded at him as I lifted my hand to his and let him pull me up. I stood on my tip toes and kissed his cheek before I whispered, "Together."

We finished getting the beds stripped and the guys took out all the trash. Jasper and Seth made sure the garage and the shed were locked and Emmett and Ben double checked the security system, pointing out a few things to Seth that needed to be updated before coming up the next time.

I was in Jasper's room helping Maddie and Masen finish packing when Masen quietly called my name, "Bella, will we still get to see you once we get home?"

How was I supposed to go home to my loft alone and not have the three of them with me?

I sat on the bed and motioned for Maddie and Masen to come sit beside me. I held both of their hands in mine and looked at each one in turn. Damn, I loved them both so much.

"Of course you will Masen. I love you and Maddie so much…you're my best friends, remember? I do have to work so it won't be all the time like it's been the last couple of days, but we will see each other," I told them both.

"Are you gonna go away again like you did before?" Maddie asked me.

Shit…I knew I had to go out of town at least a few times coming up.

I took a deep breath and nodded my head, "Yes, sweetie. I do. It won't be for as long as it has been before, but I do have to leave a few times."

"Whose gonna take care of Rufus? Whose gonna teach me to play the drums?" Masen asked, his bottom lip trembled as he tried to not cry.

Jesus, I felt like my heart was being ripped from my chest.

"Come here you two," I told them as I pulled them each onto one of my legs. "I know you might not understand everything right now, but I give you my word, I'll still be able to teach you how to play the drums Mase, and you baby girl, we can still go to the park and practice soccer," I said as I looked at Maddie who was no better off in the bottom lip, tearing up department than her brother.

"I'll go to your swimming meets and your dance recitals and we can still hang out and play Rock Band and go to the park. You guys can even come spend the night with me at the loft and we'll camp out in the living room okay?" I looked at each one of them.

"Hey you guys," Edward said from the doorway.

His eyes were soft and swimming with emotion as he walked in the room and sat down beside me and pulled Maddie on his lap.

He kissed her forehead and then reached over and ruffled Masen's hair before he picked up my free hand. "Everything will be okay you two, I promise. Bella and I will talk and we'll figure out something, okay? Now go on downstairs and help Nana get Rufus put in the kennel for the drive home."

Maddie and Masen each gave me a kiss and hug before they scurried off to help Esme.

I looked at Edward with tears in my eyes, and he placed a hand on the side of my face. "We'll figure something out Bella, it'll be okay."

He leaned forward and kissed the tip of my nose before he stood up, "Come on, everyone is about ready to head out," he said as he held his hand out to mine which I took gladly and intertwined our fingers together.

Edward picked up the bags the kids left up here and I shut the light off as we made our way downstairs.

"Who are we riding home with?" I asked as I realized neither one of us had a car up here to drive home.

He stopped by the front door where he had dropped the bags and said, "We're driving Ben's car back. Mom and dad are taking the twins and Rufus."

"Oh," I softly said, secretly so glad that we were going to be by ourselves for the ride home.

"I want as much time alone with you as I can get, I'm not ready to let you go yet baby," Edward whispered.

He looked as pained as I felt and that made my stomach hurt.

"Besides, we still have some things to talk about Bella," Edward said and all I could do was nod.

We did have a lot to talk about.

The good byes were long and drawn out. You'd think we didn't all live in the same city or some shit like that. I was happy to see that everyone was reluctant to leave though, that meant that everyone had a good time at least.

Uncle Marcus swept me up in a big hug and spun me around in a circle before settling me on my feet. "I can't thank you enough for this weekend little one. I am so glad you asked us to come," he said as he laid a big, sloppy kiss on my cheek, complete with raspberry sound.

I kissed him back and gave him a tight hug, "I am so glad you could come Uncle Marcus, the weekend wouldn't have been the same without you and Aunt Diane," I honestly told him.

"Welcome to the family Bella, we're so happy to have you," he whispered in my ear before he stepped back and gave me a wink. "Let's have lunch soon, okay?" he asked as Diane gave me a quick hug and a kiss and repeated the same sentiments as her husband.

Edward stepped up to my side and grabbed my pinky with his and smiled at the both of us, "Uncle M, you trying to take my girl from me?"

"You better watch it nephew, I'll do it if you don't treat her right," Marcus told Edward as he slapped him on the back before he kissed him on the side of the head.

"Never happening old man," Edward laughed at his uncle as he shut the door.

Marcus rolled down his window and told Edward, "I'll be watching him Bella, I just need an opening," he laughed before he ducked his head back inside and then they were gone.

"Come on baby, time to hit the road," he said.

Everyone else had already gone; Carlisle was the last to leave besides us. We double checked the locks on the house and set the alarms and then we got in the car to head home.

We drove in a comfortable silence for a bit before Edward turned down the soft music that was playing to a soothing background noise.

He was still holding my hand, had been since we got on the highway to take us back to the city.

"Bella," Edward said quietly in the enclosed confines of the car.

I turned my head to look at him, noticed the pinched lines by his eyes and the crease in his brow. His mouth was set in a tight line and he squeezed the steering wheel so tight his knuckles turned white.

"Are you okay Edward?" I asked softly as I reached out to touch him, my fingertips traced up the line of his jaw.

He nodded but didn't look at me and after a brief moment he shook his head and let out a deep exhale.

I stilled my fingertips on his face and waited for him to glance in my direction. He gave me a small smile and squeezed my hand before bringing it up to his lips and kissed my knuckles.

Edward adjusted himself in his seat and set the cruise control on the car while I waited for him to begin telling me what was on his mind.

"I don't even know where to begin angel. It seems like so much has happened in the last few weeks and it wasn't until you brought it up to me yesterday that I truly understood just how much it was. I can't even begin to tell you how much it sucks ass that we have to leave our little bubble and face reality tomorrow," he said with a pained voice.

I didn't respond, I wanted him to get it all out. Thinking back to this morning, I should have realized there was more that was on his mind, but at least he was talking about it now.

"I know you have appearances to make Bella; I know you still have a job you have to do. I told Alice the other day that I was upset with you because there is a part of me that wants you to just say fuck it all and quit and not ever go out in public again," he said the last part a little sheepishly.

"Do you still feel that way?" I asked in a small voice, hating the thought that he would be upset or disappointed in me for any reason, even if it was a little on the irrational side.

He had the grace to look chagrined and shook his head. "Of course not baby. It was just a knee jerk reaction from Jasper showing us the letters. Am I concerned about you being out in public, hell yes I am, terrified actually. Do I want you to quit? Unfortunately the answer to that question is a yes too, as chauvinistic as it might sound. Will I let you quit and hide away from some coward who sends completely ambiguous, albeit creepy mail… no way in hell. Like I said, it was a knee jerk reaction. I am not going to lie, I am going to be a nervous wreck for the next three months and I am sure I will piss you off at some point and I can guaran-fucking-tee I will overreact at times, a lot of times," he said the last part with a pointed look.

Yes, I was well aware of the tendency to overreact of one Edward Anthony Cullen.

Truth be told, it was usually hot as fucking hell when he did it, too…not that I would ever tell him.

"Thank you for being honest with me about that Edward," I told him sincerely.

We had been so wrapped up in ourselves for the past few weeks, this felt like the first time we had truly talked about where things stood with us now.

"Edward, you should know a few things as well," I told him, knowing it was my turn to be contrite.

He glanced at me for a moment before he looked back to the road, "Oookaaayyy," he dragged out.

I giggled a little; he's too fucking cute for words sometimes. "Um…I kind of knew I had gotten some hate mail before I left to go up to the Lake," I said quietly as I braced myself for his comeback.

"What the hell, Bella?" he shrieked at me.

Yep, pretty much just like I planned.

I held my hand up and said, "Just wait baby, before you blow a gasket," and I giggled again.

"Isabella," he ground out.

Ok, time to move on before he really did blow something.

"I had to stop by the office before I left the city and Aro and Jane mentioned it. Nothing specific mind you and certainly not anything about the letters that Jasper brought up here. As far as I know, those are the only two like that I've gotten so far," I finished weakly.

"So fucking far," Edward mumbled under his breath as he huffed out a breath and shifted in his seat.

"I didn't not tell you on purpose Edward. When you got to the house on Tuesday, well, you know happened, and then talking about Charlie and getting ready for everyone to get here, I just didn't think about it. I wasn't trying to hide it from you or anything," I told him sincerely.

"I know that baby, it's ok. Thank you for telling me now," he said sweetly as he looked at me quickly.

"There's more sweetheart," I said, really not wanting to discuss this part. "Um, well…Aro and Jane mentioned that there were a lot of requests for both you and me to make some appearances together. Apparently we made quite the impression at the Gala and the office was inundated with requests from all over."

"Really?" Edward asked, sounding somewhat pleased by that.

I didn't want to burst his bubble but it needed to be done.

"Edward, while that may sound like a good thing, it's really not," I told him firmly, hoping to quell his excitement before it spun out of control.

"Why not beautiful, I want everyone to know you belong to me," I cocked my eyebrow at him, "and me, you, of course." he finished lamely.

I took a deep breath, wanting him to really understand where I was coming from here. "Baby, the more of those things we go to together like that, the more the interest builds. The more the interest builds, the more we are followed…everywhere Edward. Do you want to be followed to Mase's t-ball game or to Maddie's soccer games? Or how about if we want to take the kids out for pizza and ice cream? Do you want to be followed by multiple photographers trying to take pictures of you and me…and of the kids, and having them splashed around in magazines and on the Internet?" I finished, sounding defeated.

"No, of course not Bella," he answered succinctly. "What's the matter, what is that look for?" he questioned as he turned to look at me.

"I think I am going to need Ali's help again. Aro and Jane were so excited by all the requests, I just know they are going to push and threaten me with…something to try to make me cave. I won't do it Edward, I hope you know that. I will not put you or the twins in any danger. I couldn't live with myself if anything happened to any of you because of me," I finished on a whisper.

"Bella, look at me," Edward demanded. "I know you wouldn't baby, we'll talk to Alice when we get home, okay? I am sure she and Jasper can think of something."

We were both quiet for a time, lost in our own thoughts but still holding hands. I couldn't let go of him, wanting to keep my connection to him for as long as possible.

I was absentmindedly playing with my pendant, running it back and forth on the chain over my lips when Edward said so softly I barely heard him, "I'm so sorry Bella."

I whipped my head in his direction, nearly giving myself whiplash in the process and demanded, "Whatever for Edward?"

"For everything that happened to you before Charlie died. For the horrible way your mother treated you, for the injury that took your dream away from you, for Charlie dying…for James." He growled out the last part.

Not surprising really, I knew when he heard about that he would be angry. He gripped the steering wheel again and stared straight out the windshield. I could tell by the way the muscles were working in his neck and the way his shoulders tensed that he was close to losing it again.

"Edward, my love, since you can't look at me and drive at the same time, just listen to me okay?" I beseeched him, turning in my seat a little so that I could look at him and touch him. I pulled the hand that wasn't on the steering wheel across the console and into my lap. I stroked his long, strong fingers and felt the muscles in his arm relax after a few minutes.

"I know what Jasper told you the other day must have sounded awful. I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that my life before I met you was easy, because you and I both know it wasn't. But it wasn't terrible either. Yes, Renee was a horrible mother and a poor excuse for a human being. Yes, she made my life miserable every chance she got, but Edward, I learned from an early age to be happy despite her machinations. Charlie was a good father and I loved him with all my heart. Should he have been able to step in and do something about Renee? Probably so…"

He interrupted with a quick snort and a, "No fucking shit," muttered lowly under his breath.

I smiled briefly at my overprotective man and began again, "Fine. Yes, he should have. I won't ever know why he didn't and I've slowly started to come to terms with that, thanks to the help of his letter…and your father."

He turned his head quickly in my direction and raised his eyebrows at me. "I'll tell you about that later, one thing at a time," I told him and then leaned over and kissed his cheek…just because I needed to.

Edward nodded at me so I started speaking once more, "I've had a long time to come to terms with the hand I was dealt in the mother department. Renee took the coward's way out and ended her life before I could get any answers from her either. I guess it doesn't really matter at this point anyway. From her example, I know exactly what not to do when the time comes for me to be a mother."

"Bella, you already know, and you are a spectacular mother," he said tenderly.

I opened my eyes at him so widely that I was for sure my eyeballs would fall out, and gulped. Did he just say…he called me…mother. God, I wanted that so badly. I loved Maddie and Masen with my whole heart; I knew that even if they weren't biologically mine, it didn't matter. I wanted to be the one to take care of them, love them, and protect them always.

Holy Shit!

I shook my head and plunged forward, I couldn't even comprehend what he just said to me right now in the middle of this discussion. "And as for getting hurt and losing the World Cup, well that stung like a bitch, I can't lie about that either. I was devastated when it happened Edward; I didn't have any idea what to do with myself. I mean it had been my sole focus for twelve years when it happened."

"God damn fucking bitch from hell," he hissed.

Yep, still overprotective.

"Bella, you can't even begin to imagine how hard it was for me to listen to Jasper tell us about your injury, and then to find out that some vindictive cunt rag did it on purpose…I have no…I want to kill her for what she took away from you baby," he finished on a strangled breath.

I quickly unhooked my seatbelt, not caring in the least about the possibility of getting a ticket for it being unlatched and pressed me forehead against the side of his head. I really wanted to crawl in his lap, but that would be pushing the boundaries of safety I told myself.

"Shh, Edward…it's okay…shh…" I told him over and over again until his breathing calmed back down again. I didn't move from my spot though, I couldn't move an inch away from him if I tried.

"What you've been through, what's been taken away from you, my God baby, I have no words to explain how fucking strong you are," he said as he placed his right hand on the steering wheel and then covered the hand that I had on his chest with his left. He picked it up and placed a lingering kiss in the middle of hand.

"If I could take all that pain away from you, I would Bella, you have to know that. I hate that you had to go through all of that," he said in a pained voice.

I kissed his temple then, and gently said, "I know you would Edward, and that means more than you can possibly know."

"I won't let anything like James happen to you again Isabella," he forcefully said. "To think what could have happened to you that day, I can't even…" he said on a stuttering breath, and I pressed my lips to his temple again.

We really should not have had this part of the conversation in a moving vehicle I am realizing but there isn't anything I can do about that now, except to try to keep him calm.

"But I'm here now Edward, he didn't do anything to me but give me a few bruises," I calmly told him, hoping beyond hope he couldn't hear my heart beating so hard it felt like it was going to burst out of my chest.

"What if now…the letters…" Edward began and I pressed a finger over his lips.

"Hey now, none of that, you told me yesterday not to jump ahead of ourselves here, so take your own advice okay?" I teased him slightly; thankful that I could tell my words were having their desired effect. His muscles relaxed again and he had stopped breathing in and out of his nose.

Yeah, that inhale, exhale through the nose was a dead give away.

"Lets just get home in one piece and then we can talk some more, deal?" I asked, smirking at him as I used his word from yesterday.

He took a deep breath and held it for a moment before his eyes found mine as I sat back in my seat, "Deal," he said as he let out his breath and settled back in his seat as well.

"Put your seatbelt back on baby, we'll be home in about an hour. Why don't you rest until we get there?" he gently prodded me.

I did as he asked and turned in my seat, as far as was comfortable with the seatbelt on and looked at him.

"I love you so much Edward. The last few days have been the best in my life," I told him as I reached out to run the back of my hand down the scruff of his jaw.

He turned his mesmerizing green eyes in my direction and his voice was overflowing with emotion when he whispered back, "I love you too, Bella, more than I can possibly say. Now rest angel, we'll be home soon."

The next thing I knew I was being lifted out of the front seat of the car and heard Edward murmur softly, "We're home baby."

I curled myself into his chest as his words registered in my sleep addled brain and when I heard the elevator stop at the top of the loft and realized Edward had stopped at my door, I gripped his shirt tightly in my hands, not wanting him to let me go.

"Don't leave," I begged him, knowing it was unfair to ask him, but not being able to stop myself.

"Already taken care of sweet girl," he told me as he opened my door.

I rested my head against his chest, listening to his heartbeat as he walked towards my bedroom.

"I couldn't bear to leave you my love, and now, I am going to make love to you all night long," he purred as he laid me on the bed and quickly covered my body with his.

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