"I do have one thing I want to do." Bella admits as we rest on the massive bed in my room. She's sprawled on top of the comforter, and up until this point had rather quietly been enjoying the record she chose. I, trying to avoid staring at her delicate arms and shoulders, the way her chest rose and fell, the delicate twitches of her closed eyelids, had been halfheartedly reading.
"Oh?" I ask, closing the book and putting it aside.
"You can't laugh. But I feel like it’s unfair because you can’t do it."
I can feel the surprise on my face, and when Bella looks at me she laughs.
"There's an awful lot of things I can't do. Could you be more specific?"
Bella blushes and bites her lip, and I have to stop myself from trying to pry it from her. She’s still laying on her back, looking up at me.
"I've never really wanted to drink…" she starts and trails off.
"Drink what?" I interrupt and Bella looks at me as though I've sprouted a second head.
"Alcohol?" She asks, and I realize that maybe Rosalie was right, I am a party pooper. But also that Bella, unlike most of her age group, was not interested in anything alcoholic. I had always assumed she would, with all her earned maturity, have a glass of wine with her supper or drink a wine cooler when she was at home on a Friday night. But no, she had never even indicated towards it, always declining offers to go to house parties, bonfires, and loosely disguised camping trips. And yet somehow this had never been a consideration on my radar.
"Duh." I roll my eyes as I scoot closer to her. "So what is it that you want to do?"
Bella looks at me, propping herself up on her elbows. "You can't laugh."
I scoot closer and sit so that my face is closer to hers. "I promise. What can't I do that you can do?"
"I just want to get a little high." Bella says softly before immediately clarifying, "Weed, Edward. And not even super messed up or anything, just enough to know what it's like."
Emmett, who I could hear rumbling around the house, had started paying attention to us. I got just the thing, he thinks loudly before disappearing off. Of fucking course Emmett would have a weed guy, despite not being able to enjoy it himself. I'd have to ask him about it later, but I just knew he'd say something along the lines of trying to blend in and make friends. Just like last time.
"Edward?" Bella asks, and I feel bad for zoning out.
"Emmett is on his way to get you some right now."
"Could you please touch me." Bella all but begs, and I oblige, coming closer to her. I trace my fingers down her arms, across her collarbones, her neck. She's looking up at me, eyes wide, but she's so still. I’m almost afraid she’s stopped breathing.
"Edward…" She starts, closing her eyes. "Please touch me everywhere." And then she takes my hand in hers and places it firmly on her chest, before guiding it down her stomach and hips. I then carefully touch her legs, feeling the bare skin, thankful for her pajamas having shorts. Bella hums in appreciation even as goosebumps flare up on her skin. I cannot help but be mesmerized by Bella's body, how warm and breakable she is, and how ultimately trusting she was that I wouldn't just shatter her with just an errant flick of my wrist.
Emmett had retrieved edibles from his plug, as he had informed me they were called, with explicit instructions. She wasn't to eat it all at once, and to wait at least a half hour to decide if it was hitting or not, before she could take more.
"Bella, you gotta promise me one thing before I let you two get into it." Emmett had said and Bella blushed as she nodded, encouraging Emmett to keep talking.
"You cannot, under any circumstances, suggest these edibles "ain't shit." They're strong enough for a newbie, they're good, and if you say that, you're just setting yourself up for a bad time."
Emmett's mind reveals the plug telling him the same thing and Emmett's repeating it is because he wants to keep Bella safe. He was a little bummed that he would never be able to “test the universe” like this, since drugs couldn’t alter minds made of stone. I bite my lip, willing myself to concede Bella’s safety to Emmett by way of a 19 year-old nicknamed “mud.”
Which is how I find myself in my bedroom with Bella, effectively giving her a full body rub down as a new record spins, the volume low. She had picked it out and a soft female voice is crooning over light music, ambient music as the sun sets through the window, basking the room in a golden glow.
I could hear voices down the hall, Rosalie and Esme agreeing on how to best organize the garage so that there would still be space for Esme to store her projects. Carlisle was in his study. Jasper and Emmett were in the basement playing darts, doing their best to avoid structural damage to the house. And Alice was…I wasn't sure where Alice was, her mental voice conspicuously absent. Of course Bella heard none of this; she seemed oblivious to the fact we weren't alone in the house.
"Hold on." She stops me, opening her eyes just enough to see me. It surprises me a little; I was certain that Bella had fallen asleep. "Let me roll over."
Now I massage Bella's back, rubbing her shoulders, feeling her spine curve down. I avoid her bum, but work her thighs, her legs. She makes small pleasurable noises that stick to my memory and provoke a biological urge that reminds me of how human love and pleasure are. Driven by my desire to keep hearing Bella make such delectable sounds at the touch of my fingers, I keep working silently until one thought rings out above the others.
It's not so much a thought as it is Alice showing me a version of the future. I guess I hadn't noticed she had come home, too fixated on the milky smoothness of Bella’s skin contrasting against her hair and the black comforter on the bed. In her head, Alice sees me laying on the bed on my stomach and Bella laying along my back, asleep. My shirt is off and Bella looks so content, happy even. The vision is clear but fuzzy around the edges and I know I'm at a crossroads, even if Alice isn't showing me the other option. But anything that required Bella anything less than fully dressed is generally off the table, especially right now in her altered state.
My gentle fury firms up the edges of Alice's vision, and suddenly the crossroads disappear. Alice doesn’t hide her disappointment.
It's going to happen, Edward.
Not if I have anything to do with it, I resolve silently. Bella's virtue was something worth protecting--especially when she was not herself. She deserved to be safe and unharmed, something I wasn't so confident about. I'd hold out as long as I could, even if it meant denying the parts of my existence that felt more human and less monster. Putting Bella's needs before my own was basically second nature to me; I could keep doing it for as long as it took. Or so I hoped, seeing as recently Bella and I both needed the same thing.
Whatever you just decided, you just made your honeymoon very un-fun. Alice warns before she drops it and I'm focused back on Bella, who seems to be asleep. I'm working her back, gently massaging her spine, pushing through any tension still held in her muscles. She's so soft and possibly snoring. So I slowly move Bella on the bed so she can be tucked in, creating a barrier between us.
"Mmmm." Bella moans and her eyelids flutter. I press a soft kiss to her forehead. "Why'd you stop?"
"You were asleep, Bella." I reply quietly, my face hovering so close to hers. She looks up and she's still high, her pupils wider than usual. In the gold light, her hair looks more red than brown, and her eyes look molten. Overwhelmed with love, I press a light kiss to her forehead and Bella sighs contentedly, as though that kiss pushed her through her disorientation.
"Can I touch you?" She asks after a beat.
"What do you mean?" I ask, still a little wound from Alice's thoughts.
"If you take off your shirt, I'll massage your back." Bella is working hard to make a whole sentence, but is grinning like she won the lottery.
“You can’t give me a massage. I haven’t felt a single body ache since 1918.” I try to explain, but Bella looks at me blankly. Sober Bella seemed to only barely grasp that I was impervious to physical experiences of extreme weather and pain. Most of the things I felt were psychological conditioning--all but the feeling of joy, love, pleasure, and whatever that elated feeling was whenever Bella touched, kissed, snuggled me, which were feelings I believed to be genuine experiences of the mind and flesh.
“Could we maybe not talk about you’re old enough to remember a time before humans went to space?” She asks and I bite back a laugh. Of all the things she might take issue with, my age was unexpected.
“Now that we’ve cleared that up…” Bella trails off, but starts wiggling under the blanket like she’s trying to get up, but failing. “I’d like to touch you, if that’s okay. Not a massage. But if you could still take off your shirt…”
Bella manages to free herself of the blanket and sits up. I look at her and pause for a moment. Alice’s vision was harmless and frankly adorable. Plus, Bella looked so comfortable, so lovely and human. Was I simply going to deny Bella something so innocent because of one little comment?
She doesn’t seem to notice that I’ve grown introspective, but instead has focused on the record player, which was playing fuzz. “Oh. The music stopped.”
And then I watch Bella carefully scoot to the edge of the bed and stretch her legs. She stands wobbly, like a newborn calf, until she catches her balance. I quickly get up and go to the record player, trying to prevent an accident by carefully putting the record away. Bella sees me and goes for the wall, her finger trailing along the spines of the covers on the shelf. She pulls the next album from the same artist and offers it to me. Then she returns to the bed, sitting up, her legs dangling from the side.
"So will you lay down for me?" She repeats her query as I let the needle down. I turn to face her, take a deep breath out of instinct, and reach for the hem of my shirt. Bella has a goofy, happy grin on her face as I pull it over my hair and leave it draped across the footboard of the bed.
"Anything for you, my love." I try to keep the sappy tone to myself, but stoned Bella seemed to have very little anxiety and an awful lot of love and it was starting to affect me too.
"Mmmm." Bella hums as I lay down on the bed. But unwilling to let Alice be fully right, I lay on my back and Bella moves as though I am as fragile as her, positioning herself over my hips, knees on either side of me. And I wish I was that fragile, that I was human and could feel the weight of her in a more meaningful way than just a gentle pressure and her radiant warmth. But her positioning reveals my embarrassingly overactive biological instinct, and there was no way Bella wasn't aware of that, especially with how she was pressing on top of me. Once Bella has settled, her hands on my stomach propping her up, she blushes bright red and giggles. I am mortified and it must show on my face because Bella moves one hand to cup my face, drawing my attention to her. Her eyelids are droopy and she's smiling.
"If you're worried about that," she says, wiggling her bum. I bite my tongue, trying to suppress a moan. "Don't be. I don't mind. I just wanna touch you, that's it."
"Okay." Is all I manage to get out. Bella grins.
"Not here to steal your virtue, promise." She takes the hand that was cupping my cheek and holds it up like she's swearing on the bible. But her other hand is still on me, over my heart.
"I wasn't so worried about you doing that." I try to joke but I'm somewhere between feeling a deep-seated hunger for the pleasures only Bella could provide me and the absolute heart-hurting reality that I was not, and could never be, her human. I would not give in to temptation tonight, but I wondered if faced with the same situation a week from now, would I be able to control myself? If she was sober, would I have given in tonight?
I shudder at the thought that the only thing keeping me from seducing Bella was not my own hard-earned self-control, my fear of hurting her, or the fact my whole family was home. I was so well behaved tonight because Bella was not sober.
But as Bella methodologically rubs my chest, trying to massage the muscles there, I find myself distracted yet again. I worry she might hurt herself with the intensity of her focus and the way she is exerting herself. I fixate on the way she keeps checking on me, as if she's watching for some signal I'm uncomfortable or in pain. Every time we make eye contact, she smiles and it's contagious. I watch as her hair falls around her face, and when she tries to tuck it behind her ear. And I watch Bella carefully try to move without jostling her hips, even as the cause for my embarrassment persisted.
"Hmm I'm tired." Bella says after a long while, breaking the silence. I gently take her arms and settle her down on top of me, pulling the blanket around us. Eventually she would get too cold, but selfishly I wanted to feel her skin on mine. I wanted a taste of what it could be like, to just exist with Bella in the way we both so badly wanted.
"Then sleep, love." I whisper as I stroke her back. She's got her head tucked into my neck, and I can feel her eyelashes against my skin.
"I love you." She mutters. I smile, even though she can't see it.
"I love you too." I say as she falls asleep in my arms.