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Even if I am Damned Regardless, Part 2.

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The sensation of being lifted up woke Bella, but even before her eyes opened the familiar scent of the person carrying her registered in her mind. "Edward," she murmured, still in an exhausted daze.

"It's okay, rest. It's late." The vampire's tone was impassive as he carried her through the Cullen household, perfectly steady so as not to jostle her. He didn't look down at her as he walked. He just couldn't; there was too much to process. The house was dim and silent; the others had gone hunting and for once, Edward wished he had the distraction of other peoples' thoughts. Lord, what would they even be thinking? Perhaps it was better that they were gone.

"But--" Bella lifted her head from its spot on Edward's chest when she finally felt lucid enough to comprehend what was happening.

"Alice had already convinced Charlie to let you stay for a sleepover as part of your birthday celebration."

They arrived at Edward's bedroom shortly after and when they entered, Bella realized they hadn't gone into his room that evening. If they had, she would've definitely noticed the change in decor; a large four-poster bed with plush bedding and pillows took up most of the room. A cool breeze of early autumn air blew through the slightly open windows of the room. Soft music played. A few candles were tastefully scattered around the room, flickering gracefully. A large bouquet of flowers - white roses, eucalyptus, mustard yellow chrysanthemums - with a card attached sat on the nightstand. It was obvious that Edward had had plans for her birthday evening before everything else h
happened. Bella swallowed hard as he set her down in the bedroom, still naked and barely covered by the blanket Carlisle had draped over her. She cringed at the soreness between her thighs: a reminder that this evening had not been some bizarre dream.

Before she could say anything, Edward offered her a half smile. "There are pajamas in the chest at the foot of the bed and a toothbrush for you in my bathroom. Let me know when you're ready to sleep." And I'll be back to lie with you, like I always do. He turned to leave.

"Wait."

Edward halted, but didn't turn back around.

"We.. we should talk," she managed, clutching the blanket over herself with white knuckles.

"Not now, Bella. Not tonight."

"Please," Bella breathed, feeling lightheaded as the weight of the situation registered. It was rare that her boyfriend wasn't willing to talk with her about any and everything. "Please just... look at me. Talk to me."

Edward complied and turned to look at her, determined to meet her gaze and not to focus on the fact that she was standing there naked because she'd just had sex with his father. "I don't think this is the type of conversation we should be having on your birthday, Bella. You should shower. Get comfortable and relax. I'll be here when you're ready for me."

"Are you mad at me? You must.. you must hate me." The girl chewed her bottom lip nervously as she searched the vampire's face for any sign of what he was feeling.

"I don't own you, Bella. I have no right to be angry with you for fulfilling your needs.. and I could never hate you." Somehow, his tone was still neutral. When the blanket started to slip off of Bella's shoulder, he gritted his teeth. "Will you please go get dressed?"

Suddenly, the girl's tone changed to fury. "Why? Because you can't stand to see me naked?" Bella's gaze was fiery, but her eyes welled with tears.

Edward couldn't help but scoff. "That's what this is about, isn't it? You think I don't want you like that? If you were so worried, you could've just asked, Bella. I see now that I grossly underestimated the power of this need you have." The suggestion that he wasn't attracted to her, that he didn't fantasize about making love to her, that he didn't have to stroke off each day before seeing her to ensure he didn't get carried away, was preposterous.

"I-if you want me, like you claim you do..  why couldn't you just give me that? Why couldn't you help me fulfill my needs?"

"I wanted to," Edward snarled, pointing at the bed in annoyance. "I just needed some time! I've waited over a century for this, for you. I thought you could've waited a little bit, too."

"Edward--"

"I know I'm old-fashioned. I know things are different now. Virginity is a social construct or whatever," he rambled, becoming more and more irate. "But I didn't want to take anything from you, I just wanted us to share that moment. You chose to share it with Carlisle. Don't worry, though, you can still own my 'first time.'"

He was bitter, snippy, and very unlike himself.

Silence hung heavily in the air before he spoke again. "I don't want to see you naked because I'm not ready to see the marks he left on your body. Keeping you out of harm's way has always been my priority. I was scared of hurting you. I see now that was a foolish reason to wait because it made you feel unwanted." He pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed deeply. "I want you. I want to give you what you want. I just need some grace. We can get there.. tonight, tomorrow, whenever you need it. I just want it to be our time."