Sunday was my second favorite day of the week.
"Good morning, my love."
Or maybe it was about to become my first favorite.
"Hmmm," I hummed. I snuggled in deeper, my head comfortably on Edward's chest.
I felt lighter than air. Clouds weighed a million tons in comparison to me.
"You slept well."
He wasn't asking me. I answered anyway.
"Yeah, I did."
"Your dreams were pleasant."
Were they? I tried to remember them.
"Probably," I said. "I fell asleep in a pretty good mood."
"You spoke my name several times."
I could hear the smile in his voice.
"I speak your name when I'm awake, too," I teased.
"It's different when you're asleep. It is the closest I can be to hearing your thoughts. When you're awake, you choose your words before speaking. When you're asleep, you speak without conscious consideration."
That made sense. I smiled as I slithered up his body a little.
"If you could read my mind, you'd know how very happy I am right now. Last night was the best night of my entire life."
"With the exception of when I upset you. I'm sorry that I did."
"That doesn't matter now." I dismissed his apology with a light kiss to his lips. "We worked it out."
"Hmmm." His hum could still – and probably would forever – make me melt. "The day is yours, my love. How do you wish to spend it?"
I grinned. "Surprise me." I kissed him quick one last time before hopping out of bed.
I rushed through my morning routine. I just couldn't wait to be back in Edward's presence. I wasn't even anxious about what surprise he had in store for me. I was just too happy to allow my old issues to surface.
If happiness were a crime, I would have been sentenced to death for sure.
What we had shared the night before went beyond all expectations. Went beyond any known words to describe it. It was sweet, passionate, perfect, intense. It was life changing. I actually felt different.
I looked different, as I stared at my reflection in the mirror. In eleven days time, I had changed into someone else. Someone who was loved. I wondered if anyone else would notice. My parents. My friends.
I didn't care. Let them notice. I was happy.
I bounded back towards Edward's room to put my stuff away. He wasn't there, but that didn't really surprise me. He was downstairs waiting for me. I knew he was.
I watched my steps as I descended to the first floor, then I nearly ran to the kitchen.
Yep. There he was, holding my chair out for me, wearing a perfect smile on his perfect face. I grinned back, then took my seat.
Breakfast was a mere necessity. I shoveled it.
"We have time, my love. Chew your food, please."
I didn't want to chew. Chewing took too much time. But I did it anyway, simply because he asked me to.
The house seemed quiet. I waited to take my next bite.
"Where is everyone?"
"Carlisle is at the hospital, Esme is grocery shopping, Alice and Jasper went for a stroll, and Emmett and Rosalie are working on your truck."
That last one surprised me. I stopped eating again.
"Yes. She is a very skilled mechanic. In some respects, more so than Emmett."
I quickly shoveled another forkful of French toast. I nearly swallowed it whole before asking, "Is she unhappy doing that for me?"
I couldn't think of a better way to phrase the question. If she hated me, then why would she help repair my piece of crap Chevy? Was someone forcing her to?
"No. She's not unhappy. She enjoys a challenge, and your vehicle offers her that."
Well, okay. Yeah, I supposed that would be a good enough reason. Still seemed weird, though.
I shrugged it off and continued to inhale my food. When I just knew I wouldn't be able to hold another bite, I sighed and pushed the plate away. Edward seemed amused by that.
"I will clean up. You can brush your teeth now."
He knew my routine better than I did.
When I was done with that, after throwing my toiletry bag at my suitcase, I ran for the stairs. He was standing in the middle of the flight, waiting for me. He offered me his hand when I met up with him.
"Are you ready for your surprise?"
My heart skipped at least two beats. He smirked at that.
"I think so," I answered. I wasn't so sure I was. The anticipation of what it could be had me both excited and nervous.
He led me straight into the piano room.
Oh. Okay. I loved listening to him play. That was a good start to any day.
But as we approached the piano, he dropped my hand, then he moved the bench so that it was sitting long ways out.
Confused, I blinked up at him. He just smiled back at me. Then he gestured for me to sit. I did, still confused.
Was he expecting me to play? He was about to be sorely disappointed.
He straddled the bench, sitting behind me, me between his legs.
Okay, never mind. I would slam random keys for him, as long as we could stay in that position for a while.
His front pressed against my back as he leaned into me, and then his arms came up under mine. He rested his fingers on the keys.
"Place your hands on mine. Gently."
I did. And then I realized what he was planning.
When he started playing, I recognized the song instantly. One of my favorites. Track five.
My fingers slipped a few times at first, but soon I learned just the right amount of pressure to stay with him. If I closed my eyes, I could almost imagine that it was really me playing.
I know it might not sound like much, but trust me, it was awesome.
We played three songs like that, my lullaby being the last. Then he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me tighter against him. I melted, head back against his shoulder, eyes closed, and hummed.
"Now it's your turn."
Sure, okay. My turn for what?
"It's not terribly complicated, once you learn the notes."
My heart began racing when I realized what 'my turn' meant. He wanted to teach me to play.
I had never had any musical ability. Like dancing, I just didn't have the capacity to learn.
"Don't be nervous. We are going to start simply."
His left arm stayed around me, holding me. His right extended, his fingers gracefully settling on the ivory. Then he plunked out an old familiar song. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
He played the song in its entirety once, then he started over, but played only the first three notes.
He asked me to copy it, so I did. Then he started over again, but added two more notes to the three. I copied him again.
The more notes he added, the more I messed up, but he never lost patience.
Hours later – or at least it felt like hours – I was able to play the entire song on my own. Once I had mastered it, he helped me to my feet, turned the bench back the way it was supposed be, then gestured for me to sit back down.
When I did, he sat beside me.
"Don't concern yourself with what I'm doing," he said. "Just play it like you have been."
I started it off, and then he joined in, playing the lower keys to my left. The melody and harmony mixing together made the simple song sound like a masterpiece.
We had just played a duet!
I grinned over at him. Sure, it wasn't like I had just played one of his magnificent compositions, but still!
He stood first, before offering me his hand and helping me to my feet. Then I was in his arms.
"Did you enjoy that?" he whispered.
I nodded against him. "Thank you."
He kissed the top of my head, inhaling deeply. Several long seconds passed.
"You should eat. We are going on a trip soon."
"We are?" I asked. He nodded. "To where?"
"It's a surprise, my love."
My lunch was waiting for me on the counter. I didn't even know anyone was home. Vampires were really quiet when they wanted to be.
I ate as much as I could, but I was sure not to overdo it. If we were going to be running, I didn't want to hurl.
But we weren't going to be running, apparently. After lunch, Edward led me into the garage.
Okay, I hadn't seen the garage yet, I realized, as we entered the huge attached building off the house. There were three cars parked in there besides my truck, and there was still room for one more.
We passed a very rough and tumble looking jeep, a red convertible, and a fancy BMW sedan on our way to my very out of place, rusted out Chevy.
"You're all set here," Emmett said. He looked very pleased. "I think she'll be safe even for you."
I smirked back at him. "Ha, ha. I'm a safe driver."
He laughed. "As long as you're not chewing gum?"
I was just about to retort, when Rosalie came sliding out from underneath. She locked eyes with me for a moment, then looked away almost as quickly.
"You should change your oil every three thousand miles."
"Um, thanks. I will." I sounded as awkward as I felt.
Edward put his arm around me and led me to the driver's door.
"Where would you like to go?" he asked me as he gestured for me to get in.
I didn't want to go far, but I was excited about driving. I missed my truck. "Just around town," I answered as I slipped into the seat.
He smiled before rounding the vehicle in the flash of a second and climbing in on the passenger side. The garage door opened automatically.
I mostly just drove around in circles. My truck had never run or sounded better. Instead of groaning, she purred. Instead of rattling at forty-five miles per hour, she sang. It was the new tires against the road, I realized.
"You will be safe now. This pleases me."
I smirked, but kept my eyes on the road.
Eventually, we took the truck to my house. His Volvo was parked at the curb. One of the Cullens probably brought it over, then ran back home.
When we got back to his place, instead of going inside, we walked hand in hand into the forest. I honestly didn't care where we were, as long as we were together.
After walking for a while – it certainly would have been faster if we had run – I noticed a pile of blankets by a tree. He led me straight to them.
He dropped my hand and laid out one of them, then he gestured for me to join him. He took the second blanket and wrapped it around us as we snuggled in. He was leaning against the trunk of the enormous tree, I was leaning against him.
"This day could not be more perfect. Thank you."
"I'm pleased you have enjoyed it. I want to please you."
There was something in the way he said that. His voice was soft. Husky. Seductive. My heart began to race.
I took in a shaky breath when he shifted and his eyes met mine.
God, he loved me. Really loved me.
Every touch was as slow and gentle as the first, like he was memorizing my body for future reference. Each kiss was soft and adoring. I ascended to new heights one significant increment at a time. It was so perfect, so intense, I almost started to cry.
When he moved towards my neck – or at least that's where I thought he was headed – I offered myself to him.
His movements stopped. "No, Bella," he whispered against my ear.
I descended a little. Disappointment shot through me. I was too dazed, too aroused, to reason. Why had he stopped?
But then I quickly gained the ground I had lost. His hands, his fingers, were caressing me again. Drug Edward flowed through my veins once more.
I sighed his name as I tensed and arched my back. He smiled against my temple. Then I collapsed to the blanket beneath me.
As I recovered, he inhaled my scent and placed gentle kisses in my hair. He murmured 'I love you' six times. I counted.
When I felt I was ready to return the favor, I sat up a little and moved to straddle him. But he stopped me.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
His smile turned sweet. Almost apologetic. "Not now, my love. Soon. Just rest."
He encouraged me back into my original position. I was confused, and a little disappointed, but I didn't fight him on it.
I didn't remember falling asleep. I just remembered waking up, in Edward's arms, the sun on the edge of setting.
I bolted upright. Or, at least, that was the action Edward stopped from happening.
"Shhh, love. You're fine. You're safe."
I felt safe. Absolutely. "But I wasted— How long have I been asleep?"
"One hour and thirty-six minutes."
That was one hour and thirty-six minutes of time we would never get back. I huffed, irritated with myself.
"We will have the rest of your life together, my love. One and a half hours is but a blink in time. Shhh."
How could a shushing sound be so sexy? I settled in and relaxed.
"Is it 'soon' yet?" I asked. "I wanted to… reciprocate."
A thought inched in. I pulled back – he allowed me to – and eyed him suspiciously. "You're going to let me reciprocate at some point, right?"
He smiled a little, but it looked a bit sad. Or at least his eyes did. "Yes."
"Something's wrong." I just knew there was. "What aren't you telling me?"
"As uncomfortable as it is with my family around, I would rather be home when… you reciprocate."
That surprised me. "Why?"
"An added safety precaution."
I caught on almost instantly to what he meant by that. If he felt he was about to lose control, his family would intervene.
I sighed and settled back against him. "You're stronger than you give yourself credit for."
"My strength is precisely what I'm concerned about."
I rolled my eyes. "You know what I mean. You won't hurt me, Edward."
"Bella…" He whispered my name, almost sighed it, and then he added seconds later, "I'm trying."
A pang of guilt hit me, but that turned into an overwhelming urge to comfort him. I held him tighter and kissed his chest.
"I know. Thank you."
He kissed my hair. "Would you like to go home now? Dinner will be ready soon."
I nodded against him.
After he helped me to my feet, just as he was preparing to help me onto his back, I glanced over at the blankets. "Aren't we—?"
I fought not to laugh. Apparently, blankets, like dishes, were disposable to the Cullens.
Emmett wanted to hear every detail about how my truck drove. He seemed quite pleased with himself. He chattered about the different things that he had fixed and 'tweaked', but he might as well have been speaking Greek, for as well as I was able to understand. I just nodded along.
Dinner was perfect as usual. Only Edward sat with me. Alice was busy with Jasper, apparently. I didn't ask what they were busy doing, though I had a strong inkling what the answer was. There was just something in the way Edward would occasionally wince.
I wondered if the rest of his family winced like that when they heard us together.
I showered after dinner, then Edward and I retired to his bedroom. As I sat on the bed, he stood by his desk. It made me curious.
"I don't wish to make you uncomfortable…" He trailed off, then turned his back on me. When he faced me again, his hands were behind him. "I have a present for you."
I was just about to protest…
"Please," he whispered. He almost sounded like he was begging me. Like if I rejected the gift, it would be like I was rejecting him.
How could I say no? Uncomfortably, reluctantly, I reached out and nodded.
I almost didn't want to open it. Not because I was afraid of what was inside, but because the wrapping was so elegant, it seemed like a crime to rip it. So I didn't. I carefully slipped my finger under each taped fold until the box within was finally freed. I literally gasped when I lifted the lid.
The bracelet appeared to be made of white gold, and attached to it was a clear crystal heart pendant. At least I hoped it was crystal. If it was a diamond, it would have cost millions.
"Please," he said again. Then he gently removed the piece of jewelry from its box and held it out to me, like he was asking permission to put it on me.
I raised my arm. "Please tell me this isn't a diamond." He just grinned as he clipped it around my wrist. "Edward, seriously, tell me it's not. Lie to me if you have to."
"It's not a diamond, my love. I suspected such a gift would make you uncomfortable."
I sighed with relief. Then I settled my attention on the, what I assumed to be, symbolic heart, taking in its beauty. "Thank you," I whispered.
He seemed pleased. Happy. And not just because I liked it.
After eleven days, he already knew me so well. He knew my first inclination would be to refuse his gift. I almost did. I was glad I didn't. But it's hard to receive when you have nothing to give in return.
As I admired it, he sat beside me, right up against me, his arm encircling my waist. And then he got affectionate.
Brushing my hair back behind my ear, he began nuzzling and planting gentle kisses. On my temple, my cheek, my ear. My breath caught in anticipation when I thought he was heading for my neck. I tilted my head a little, hopefully, but he didn't take the cue. I didn't have time to feel disappointed for long.
As soon as his lips touched mine, tentatively, I threw my arms around his neck and pulled myself into him. That got a reaction out of him. He intensified the kiss, and then we were reclining.
I wasn't as brave as he was, it seemed. I explored his body, running the tips of my fingers across his chest, his abdomen, his thigh… but I couldn't bring myself to venture into unchartered territory.
My hand slid up to the safety of his arm. I could feel his smile against my lips. But when he pulled back, there wasn't the slightest hint of amusement within his expression. His eyes bore into my soul, and then he tilted his head away from me, exposing his neck.
I took in a shuddery breath, excited, and leaned in.
His hold on me became urgent. His fingers tangled into my hair. He moaned loudly several times. God, that was a good sound. It ignited me from the inside out.
When I bit down, he tensed, pressing his body firmer into mine. I could feel him again, hard against me. He felt good.
And then he growled like I had never heard him growl before. He wasn't holding back. He was allowing himself to enjoy it. My adrenalin spiked with the thought of it.
Then he relaxed himself. His hold on me became gentle. Loving.
"I will need to excuse myself for a moment, my love. I won't be long."
I nodded, hazy from my bliss.
I almost didn't have time to miss him. He couldn't have been gone more than forty-five seconds.
He wrapped me in his arms, then sighed. He sounded content.
So was I. I didn't even care if he reciprocated. I just basked in the peaceful afterglow.
"I don't want to go to school tomorrow. Don't worry, I will," I added quickly, before he could scold me. "I just don't want to."
He laughed. "You will go," he said, almost as if he was ordering me to. I didn't care. "I will not be the reason why your education suffers."
A yawn escaped me, and he laughed again. "Such a frail, sleepy little human. Rest now, my dearest Bella. I will be here when you wake up in the morning."
I opened my eyes just long enough to remind myself of the beautiful crystal heart around my wrist, and then I closed them again and succumbed to sleep.
To be continued…
Okay, the reason why this is one of my fave chapters, is for the piano scene. My fave line in this chapter is: Okay, never mind. I would slam random keys for him, as long as we could stay in that position for a while.
It's a cool thing when you can write something that makes you laugh.
The next chapter is the angsty one, and includes the two lines that brought me to tears as I wrote them.
I got an idea for another fic last night (or in the wee hours of this morning, more accurately), but I'm not sure if I can make it work. I'll keep you posted.
Still not smoking, for those who are following my progress with that.
Thank you so much for the reviews and support.