Bella lay motionless and silent in the dry grassy undergrowth, she could see the poacher’s trap she’d set
from her hiding place, she didn’t usually stay to watch, but, today, morbid curiosity got the better of her.
Autumn’s musky fragrance wafted through the balmy air and blackberries hung in abundance around
her head, her mouth and lips were stained violet from gorging herself on the plump purple fruits. It was
a bountiful crop this year and she couldn’t resist eating them, she decided she would gather more, later,
to take back home to the caravan, that would please her brother.
Emmett loved blackberries; grief suddenly overwhelmed her, lately the feeling had a habit of sneaking
up on her, leaving her breathless and hurting, her heart ached as she’d remembered her father.
“You make the sweetest desserts my little pudding,” he said, smiling, and pinching her cheek gently; his
brown eyes would twinkle and crinkle around the edges, it didn’t matter how much she had made, there
would never be any left over. Bella had taken it as a personal challenge to make more each time, to see
when her father and brother would reach their limit, now, she would never know.
Her mood was sombre and her heart felt weighty, her life was not a pleasant one, since the death of her
beloved father; he passed six months ago, she had never known her mother, who had died during
childbirth with her, leaving her father to care and raise two young children, while he nursed his broken
heart. A lesser man may have blamed the wretched child for causing the death of his wife, but not
Charlie Swan, he had been a good man and a kind and loving father. But, grief had weakened him,
eventually consuming his heart and soul gradually over the years, until one day he hadn’t the will left to
breath, his heart ceased to beat and he was with his beloved Renee once more.
Bella and her brother were orphans; Emmett had promised to give them a better life as soon as he was
financially able, he needed to get them away from the vile man that cared for them, ‘cared,’ that word
was laughable. Marcus was their uncle, their mother’s brother; he had been their only remaining kin, so
in the way of the Travellers and in the eyes of the law, he took over their care, also laying claim to all
their possessions. Their father’s body was barely cold before Marcus began selling everything of value,
and using the money on whores and drink in the towns and villages that they passed through. Emmett
and Bella were left destitute.
“Don’t worry sis, I’ll find work and somewhere for us to live,” he’d said it a thousand times, the words
were easy, but finding the work was harder. There were not many places that welcomed them, they
were always looked on as the scourge of society; Vagabonds, Gypsies, Romani/Roma, Travellers,
Tinkers, Troublemakers; they had a lot of names and not many friends.
They traded their wares in the market place; food, clothing, baskets, pots, they also sold and bought
livestock. Folks travelled from all over England to attend this annual market, and not just Travellers, but
land owners, estate managers, and farmers too. Until market day, they would lie low, undetected for a
while on the Cullen’s vast property. Surviving on the bounty of the land, pilfering food from nearby
barns, the men folk would go to poach and trap at twilight and the break of dawn, there was a river
nearby that was brimming with fish; they would be safe here and their bellies would be filled.
Bella longed to submerge her body in the river and be clean; it had been many weeks since they’d had
passed a large expanse of water. She washed daily from a small bowl, but she had to be quick, ensuring
she wasn’t seen by her Uncle Marcus. He had taken to walking in on her as she washed from a small
bowl in the caravan, making no attempt to avert his eyes or leaving her with the privacy she required.
Several times he would happen to be strolling by the river as Bella bathed naked; a look crossed his
face, a look that shouldn’t be on the face of kin, making her feel uncomfortable and vulnerable; the
quicker they were away from him, the better she would feel. Now Bella would only wash in the river if
Emmett came with her, or if Marcus was in town for the evening, entertaining himself.
A rabbit hopped past, pausing to sniff the air, it sat upright, its nose twitching quickly, Bella was close
enough to see its whiskers vibrate, she held her breath and marvelled at its fur, it was made up of
varying shades intermingled, from the pales to darkest brown, all varying in hue and moving slightly in
the breeze, it looked so furry, her fingers itched to reach out and bury themselves in the deep, warm
softness. Its senses were warning it that something wasn’t right, but it couldn’t see any danger, so it
continued on its current path straight into the snare she’d expertly set. Bella watched unable to move,
the more it struggled to free itself, the tighter the wire pulled choking the life from it, it’s once active
little body, it slowed and stilled until it was no more. It was necessary, she knew it, they would eat
hearty tonight, but there was still sadness at taking the life of one of God’s creatures. There was
something more that tugged at her heart, she felt an affinity for the creature, realisation dawned, it was
her, she was like the rabbit and if she didn’t change the course of her life she might meet the same end
with the life being choked from her.
Bella walked slowly back to camp carrying the carcass, some wild herbs she’d found in the hedges, and
her pockets were brimming with blackberries, without warning she stumbled over some gnarly tree
roots and fell painfully onto her knees. At the very moment she went down, there was a whizzing sound
through the air and an arrow pierced the tree next to her, Bella froze in terror.
“Oh my, Edward, I think you hit her,” Alice called, her voice sounded full of panic, she knew full well he
had missed her, but she fancied worrying her brother for fun, he was absolutely sure of himself all the
time, she loved to rock his solid facade whenever she got the opportunity.
“She appeared from nowhere,” he sounded breathless, and a little shaken as he ran to catch up with his
sister, he simply hadn’t seen the girl, her dark clothes blended well into their surroundings and he really
hadn’t expected to come across anyone, this was private land which belonged to Carlisle Cullen, his
“Are you alright?” Alice knelt to enquire of the small, wild looking girl.
Bella cowered and stared wide eyed at the beautiful strangers, panic began rising in her chest for a
completely different reason, other than nearly being shot with an arrow, she had been caught poaching,
she had been discovered; her Uncle would be furious.
“Perhaps she doesn’t understand English,” Edward stated. Bella frowned at him and held her derivative
“I think she’s scared, you did nearly kill her,” Alice simply stated, looking at her brother.
“Nonsense,” he retorted, he would not give her the pleasure of being right, she would harp on about it
“You should apologise Edward,” Alice said in earnest with her hands on her hips, he barked out a short
laugh, Bella felt her face flush in anger stir at his reaction, did he think she was not good enough for an
Rather than stay and fight him, she felt sure she could get a few good punches in, she held her own
against Emmett and he was twice the size of this, Edward. Instead, she took the opportunity at their
bickering as a distraction to make a run for it.
Bella hadn’t got far when she felt his strong arms grab her from behind and lift her clean into the air.
Edward was surprised at his actions, his body had reacted without his permission, he’d chased and
caught the feral little creature easily; he expected her to put up more of a fight. Why didn’t I let her go?
She seemed to be fine and she was running and therefore, unhurt, he reasoned.
“What’s the rush little rabbit?” he said smoothly and sat her firmly on a fallen tree. Bella swallowed
loudly at the close proximity to his taut, lean frame and his strong muscular arms were still wrapped
around her waist, his smell caressed her senses, she wasn’t aware that a person, a boy, could smell so
good, so clean and fresh, like pine trees after the rain had fallen.
“Please, wait,” Alice asked sweetly.
Bella dragged her eyes from his bewitching gaze, she’d forgotten for a moment they were not the only
Alice continued, “Edward, please mind your manners.”
“I’m sorry for nearly shooting you,” he knelt closer to her and smiled genuinely, it was dazzling; he was
the most beautiful man she’d ever seen. She looked properly at his face, he had the chiselled angular
quality that one only sees in the finest museums and palaces, on the faces of statues of kings and gods,
his features were well defined, his lips were the palest pink, and never in her life had she desired to kiss,
as she wanted to kiss him at that moment, surprised at these new feelings which came upon her, Bella
blushed, spreading like a wildfire up her body and blazing its way across her cheeks. His green eyes
twinkled with the beauty of emeralds; they were framed with impossibly long eyelashes and his
unkempt auburn hair, glinted with copper, gold, and bronze tones in the late afternoon sun.
“Do you understand me?” He said slowly and deliberately as though talking to an imbecile, he had yet
to see any signs of understanding in the frightened, dirty little face that stared blankly back at him.
All thoughts of his beauty were vanquished from her mind, as she glared at him through a curtain of
chestnut brown hair; he was presuming she was stupid now.
“Alice, I think she must be damaged or not right in some way,” he said sadly, looking at his sister.
Bella continued to scowl at him.
Alice laughed at her brother, for someone so intuitive, he could be so insensitive and stupid sometimes.
“I think it’s you who is damaged Edward,” she gave him a reproachful look, then turned to look at Bella,
“Please excuse my brother,” she said crouching in front of her, “Are you hurt?”
Bella decided she liked Alice immediately, her presence was comforting and friendly, she had the same
startling emerald eyes as her brother but her hair was black like jet, and short, she’d never seen a girl
with hair so short before, it all added to her unique beauty.
Bella put a hand tentatively over her knee, she could feel the burn and sting of the hidden injury
beneath her skirt, she had suffered alot worse than a scraped knee in her sixteen years of life, but she
shook her head causing her wavy hair to swing across her face. Both Alice and Edward caught sight of
Bella’s discreet hand movement.
“Please may I see?” Edward asked softly, gesturing towards her leg.
Bella recoiled slightly and shook her head.
“He won’t hurt you,” Alice promised, “Our father is a doctor, Edward goes with him sometimes, he will
make a fine doctor himself, someday,” she beamed proudly at him.
Bella felt the love flow between the siblings, she found herself wishing Emmett were here, he would
look after her; he always did. She felt grieved for her big brother as she realised he’d barely had the
chance of being a child when their mother passed, always looking out for her and helping their father to
raise and care for them.
Edward rolled his eyes at his sister, and then looked back towards Bella awaiting permission, Alice gave
Bella a pleading look, he saw her shoulders relax and her glare softened, then, slowly; she nodded her
permission. After that, Bella wondered if Alice had magical power, once she had set her mind to do or
not do something, she normally couldn’t be swayed; she was usually quite stubborn, but just one
pleading stare from Alice and she had given in, to her silent demands.
Edward lifted Bella’s skirt slowly with trembling hands, and draped it over her knees, blood poured from
a small deep gash below one knee, she winced as he pressed his fingers gently around the edges of the
wound, assessing the damage.
“Alice, would you wet this in the stream please,” he pulled a crisp white handkerchief from his pocket
and handed it to her without looking.
When Alice disappeared, Edward spoke quietly, “Look, I’m really sorry,” his eyes showed the sorrow he
felt, “I didn’t mean to startle you, I am really sorry I made you hurt your knee.” He frowned causing his
forehead to wrinkle, Bella wanted to stroke the creases, make them go away.
Their eyes connected for a moment; Bella felt the words form in her throat; she wanted to tell him it
wasn’t his fault, her own clumsiness was responsible for the wound she bore, and she was lucky to have
tripped at such an opportune time. The rustle of foliage alerted them both and Alice came running
gracefully through the trees with the soaked cloth, and the moment was lost forever.
They all watched in silence as he cleaned gently around the gash, taking great care not to disturb the
blood from clotting, then he removed the cotton scarf from around his neck and used it to bind her
knee, his hands moved quickly and efficiently, demonstrating that one day soon, he really would make a
“I think it’s time we went and left you to your business miss,” Edward said politely, standing up, his eyes
had discreetly scanned the area, he’d noticed the dead rabbit, she would need a means of leaving
without embarrassment or fuss from Alice, in some small way of making his amends and assuaging his
guilt, he felt the need to give her a way out.
“But,” Alice started.
“I’m sure she has somewhere to be Alice,” Edward gave his sister a quick look, “and we must be on our
way, father does hate it if we are late for dinner,” he spoke in a no nonsense voice effectively cutting
Alice off, she knew better than to question him. “Good day miss,” he smiled and nodded curtly.
“Goodbye,” Alice said cheerfully.
Grateful, Bella gave them a small tight lipped smile and watched until they were out of sight, then she
carefully made her way back to camp.
Marcus was still away in town and Emmett was off gathering wood and fishing, she hoped he wouldn’t
get caught, although she hardly felt sad now, at being discovered by Edward and Alice. She wondered if
she would ever see them again, at the fair perhaps, then they would be moving on, Bella felt a wave of
unexplained sadness, ‘it must be my mood today,’ she thought.
x x x x x x x
Family groups worked around their small individual campfires, washing dishes, and playing with
their children; Bella gave them a friendly wave, alerting them to her return, some waved back, others
shouted a friendly greeting to her.
Emmett and Marcus would be returning soon, and they would both be hungry, so she set about
preparing their evening meal, she didn’t want to be the reason Marcus was in a foul temper, he hated
waiting for his food. If they were lucky, his mood would be softened a little, by whisky and he would
have spent the afternoon in some whore’s bed; with a hearty meal inside of him he would soon be
“Bel-la,” Emmett sang cheerfully as he returned, fish swinging from a hook on his belt and his arms
laden with kindling.
She jumped immediately to her feet and ran to greet him, her face filled with joy at his return, “What’s
happened?” His voice was laced with concern, he reminded her so much of their father sometimes it
hurt, they had the same curly, dark brown hair and, where as their father had dark brown eyes, like
Bella’s, Emmett’s were blue, and twinkled with mischief as their father’s had once done and they
crinkled at the edges when he smiled or laughed. Emmett was very observant as far as his sister was
concerned, he had to be; he’d noticed her slight hobble as she made towards him; she shook her head
and scowled, “Please Bella,” he asked softly.
Bella let out an exaggerated sigh she wouldn’t deny her brother anything, even if he was over
protective, she knew it was because he loved her, so she lifted her skirt at one side to show him her
“You’ve been your usual clumsy self?” He joked, but his face was soft and caring.
Bella smirked and playfully pushed him, which only resulted with her nearly toppling over; she would
have made more of an impression trying to move a mountain she thought.
Emmett frowned as he looked at her dressing, his fingers dragged across the crisp, clean, cotton scarf,
“This isn’t yours is it?” His voice was hushed as he spoke; his eyes darted around the rest of the
caravans, making sure no one was listening into their conversation.
Bella cast her eyes down and away, biting nervously on her bottom lip, “Oh, Bella,” he said, she may not
be able to speak, but Emmett knew his sister well, she had always had such an expressive face and
emotion was easy to read in her eyes. He would question her further later, in private; they were starting
to draw attention of their fellow Travellers.
“That wasn’t a very Christian attitude Edward, you were so rude leaving her like that,” he could hear the
inflective pout in Alice’s voice, he avoided looking at her, she was right, of course, not that he would
ever admit it to her. “We could have at least offered to walk with her home; you did nearly kill her,” it
amazed him, how one delicate little female could stir up feelings of guilt in one breath and then
irritation in the next. He pinched the bridge of his nose and tightly shut his eyes, taking deep calming
breaths; he would not allow Alice to get the better of him today.
So, he chose not to engage her in conversation for the duration of the walk back to the house, there was
nothing more she hated than being ignored, and if she could vex him, it was only fair that he
reciprocated. Edward increased the speed of his walking; she would struggle to keep up with his long,
fast gait, if she were to jog beside him, she might manage it; there would be less chance of her chatting
“Do you think she will be alright?”
She had his full attention, his attempt to ignore Alice forgotten; he looked at her and frowned, “What do
you mean? Of course she’ll be alright,” she noted the hint of panic in his voice.
“Her leg,” Alice responded, she was pleased to have provoked a response from him, she was tired of
having a one sided conversation. “Perhaps we should call back tomorrow, see if we can find her and
check her leg is alright, I would hate for her to get an infection.”
Edward rubbed his hand across his face and groaned; he found his sister to be extremely meddlesome
and she found great delight in involving herself in everyone’s affairs.
“No, we would be better off not getting involved,” his voice took on an exasperated tone, “she has a
family that can take care of her, and I made sure the wound was clean.”
“I’ll ask father then,” she was used to getting her own way by any means necessary, and wouldn’t be
giving up just because Edward said no, he always said no; at first.
“Don’t do that,” he snapped, Alice was terribly naive some times, “She’s a Traveller,” he pointed out.
“Yes, so,” she chided, rolling her eyes at him, “You’re a terrible snob, Edward Cullen.”
“Alice,” he stopped walking abruptly, causing her to bump into his arm, “Did you see the rabbit? She was
poaching, and she’s probably camping in the woods, our woods; our private property.” He felt bad for
saying it out loud, but Edward had an overwhelming urge to protect the nameless girl, so he had little
choice and Alice seemed to have made the girl her personal mission.
There had been something about her that stirred an array of emotions within him, he recalled the pull
inside of himself, like his soul was reaching out to hers, but that was something he wasn’t prepared to
admit to anyone, ever. He shook his head as though that would clear his thoughts.
“Oh, I hadn’t thought of that,” she nodded thoughtfully, “Do you think father would drive them off?”
“I’d rather not find out,” he replied softly and began to walk at a much slower pace; Alice didn’t have to
try so hard to keep up with him.
They walked in relative silence, both deep in thought, each one still thinking about the frightened girl
they’d stumbled across in the woods.
“Why are you protecting her Edward?” Alice enquired, her brother wasn’t mean hearted, selfish, or a
cruel man, but he was usually very moral, everything was either black or white and having people
illegally squatting, and poaching on their land was clearly wrong, and it was quite unlike Edward not to
report it to his father immediately.
He laughed, “I don’t know what you mean,” he said, ruffling up his sister’s hair, knowing full well how it
would irk her. “Why are you so bothered anyway?”He turned the question around to avoid answering
“I liked her,” she replied promptly.
“You don’t know her,” he laughed, Alice’s reasons didn’t always make sense, and it looked like this was
one of those times.
“I know, but I can tell, if she was to stay around here, we would be the best of friends,” Alice gazed into
the distance and her voice was filled with so much conviction that Edward couldn’t help but believe
what she’d just said.
“I’m sorry I called you a terrible snob,” she said softly.
“Thank you,” he smiled, “Anyway, I’m not terrible; I’m an excellent snob.”
Alice giggled, she enjoyed it when her brother took the occasion to joke with her; she wished he would
do it more often.
“Let’s get home, we don’t want father annoyed if we’re late, and our cousins, Rosalie and Jasper, should
have arrived by now.”
Alice squealed and clapped joyfully, it had been too long since she’d seen her favorite cousins, although
the term cousin was used, they were only distantly related; it was their fathers that were actually
Her heart beat a little quicker at the thought of wavy, blonde curls and sky blue eyes, she wondered if he
had changed much.
They continued the rest of the journey in silence, but Edward’s head was far from quiet, he’d withheld
information from Alice, he knew why he was bothered, as she’d so questioned.
He recalled the terrified look in her huge brown eyes and the way her small frame had quivered beneath
his touch, her dirty little face peering at him from behind the tangles of her chestnut coloured hair and
how delicate and fragile she had felt in his arms when he lifted her. All these things stirred inside his
chest and feelings emerged, protective feelings, not like the ones he felt for Alice being his younger
sister, or ones that he was sure would surface if he had to defend or protect his family. These feelings
were unlike anything he had experienced before, strong, intense, overwhelming all consuming and they
frightened him, he needed to put distance between himself and her, he began to feel safer as the
distance between them grew and he felt sure in the certainty they would never see her again.
He was alerted from his thoughts by his mother, Esme, calling excitedly to them, “Edward, Alice,” she
waved from the top of the stone steps by the patio doors, “They’re here; Rosalie and Jasper are here.”
A young blond haired youth squeezed impatiently passed Esme, and then bent his head briefly at her
before turning to run joyfully towards Edward and Alice.
“Edward, Alice,” he greeted cheerfully, holding his hand out first to Edward for a brief handshake, “It has
been too long and how you’ve both changed.”
“Jasper, good to see you,” laughed Edward, it was true, too long a time had passed since they’d seen
their cousins and it was a great sadness that had brought them to Cullen Hall now. “I am sorry to hear
about the death of your father; Uncle Caius was a great man and will be sadly missed.”
“Thank you Edward,” he smiled sadly, pausing for a moment in thought, before turning to the anxious
young woman who stood impatiently by his side, surprising her, he grabbed her around the waist, Alice
squealed as he swung her around in a circle, before settling her back on her feet, but he didn’t let go,
“My, my, Alice, how you have grown, you are quite the young lady now,” his voice was breathy and full
of approval, then Jasper stood back to fully appreciate her beauty, Alice beamed and her eyes twinkled
“I remember the last time I came to stay, little Alice, you did enjoy a good game of chase,” his voice was
laced with innuendo, they both giggled and Jasper smoothly threaded her arm through his and turned
them towards the steps and into Cullen Hall, leaving Edward alone to follow behind, he rolled his eyes as
he caught the general direction of their flirty conversation, it seemed like he was going to have to watch
his sister and keep an eye on young Jasper Hale.
X X X X X
In a scene witnessed so many times before, Marcus returned to camp clearly inebriated, smelling of
cheap whisky and even cheaper perfume, his vicious mood quelled after spending the afternoon in a
sordid room, fucking some faceless, nameless whore. He made no secret of how he spent his time in
town, often bragging in detail to anyone who would listen on the day’s events in detail. As usual, their
fellow God-fearing Travellers tutted in disgust under their breath before glancing with pity towards
Emmett and Bella; then, in a flurry of activity, they all quickly found themselves suddenly occupied,
shooing their young and elderly far enough away, from hearing the obscenities that fell from his dirty
mouth, eyes remained averted as he passed, because woe betide anyone who dared to look in his
general direction when he had a belly full of liquor.
There had been one occasion, when one of the elders, Sam, had stood up to him and challenged his
ungodly behaviour. He didn’t take kindly to being chastised by anyone and had beaten Sam badly, he
wasn’t a small or old man, as you would think when the word elder is used. He was as tall as Marcus,
and twice the width, but Marcus seemed to possess superhuman strength and he moved quickly like a
snake striking its prey, it had taken Sam weeks to recover, no one ever challenged Marcus again.
Most of the group felt a deep seated guilt, they had loved and respected Charlie, who now must be
turning in his grave at the abandonment of his dear children, but most had seen the beating Sam took
and were fearful for themselves and their loved ones.
They were also a suspicious by nature and were sure Marcus was possessed by Diablo himself; for some,
he bought their loyalty by discreetly obtaining the things they desired the most, no matter how
depraved they were, and the price had to be paid.
To people who didn’t know him, he was a handsome man, his features were strong and proud in his
bronze face and he looked closer to forty than fifty, but his hair and eyes were the darkest brown,
almost on the verge of black. His physique was solid, strong like that of a man half his age, he possessed
the gift of the gab and a sinister charm and not unlike the snake in the Garden of Eden, he was
persuasive and irresistible to the opposite sex.
They both watched with loathing as he weaved a wavy path to the caravan and sat down heavily, he
grunted to Bella and Emmett, she restrained the giggle that caught in her throat, as she pictured her
Uncle as a pig.
Much to their delight, he never said a word during their entire meal; he wolfed down the rabbit stew
Bella had spent all afternoon preparing, barely tasting it, and then he rolled up in a blanket and settled
in his usual spot beneath the caravan for the night, leaving his niece and nephew to clean away the
Emmett struggled daily, to control the murderous feeling that burned beneath his chest towards his vile
Uncle. He feared that one day soon he would snap, he would gladly pay the price ten times over, but he
couldn’t bear the thought of his sweet little Bella being left alone, defenceless and homeless. The
thought of her being left at the mercy of men left his blood cold, she was a beauty and the epitome of
innocence, which was an alluring and rare combination. He had seen the gazes she attracted from the
men of all ages in the towns and villages they passed through, he had seen the dark sinister looks their
Uncle also gave her when he thought no one was watching; it made Emmett sick to his stomach.
One day, Emmett had caught the tail end of a conversation with his Uncle and a stranger, they had been
discussing a price, Marcus was unhappy he said that it wasn’t enough as she was still pure, he had
quickly cut the negotiations short when he realised Emmett had overheard some of the conversation.
Emmett hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep, since hearing his depraved Uncle bartering a price for Bella’s
virginity. He had decided to sleep on the floor of the caravan to protect his sister from any unwanted
advances in the night. It was never mentioned to Bella, but she was more than happy to have him there,
if she could have told him, she was sleeping better with him so close, as Uncle Marcus was increasingly
making her feel uncomfortable and vulnerable, she didn’t like the way he looked at her.
Relieved, Emmett took the opportunity for some privacy with his sister, and they walked together to the
clearing in the woods to wash the dishes in the stream, playfully jostling with each other, clanking pots
and pans as they walked.
“I set some more traps by the edge of the woods, near the meadow we could go and look in the
morning if you like?”
She nodded her head in approval.
“Bella, did someone see you today?” Emmett asked gently of his little sister.
She cast her eyes down and away from him, Bella nodded, he put a finger under her chin and coaxed her
to look in his face.
“I’m not mad at you, but I do need to know if we’re in trouble,” he explained.
She nodded and waited for his next question, she would try her hardest to make him understand
everything, she thought.
“Did they hurt you?” She thought of the near miss with the arrow and her bloody knee.
She held up one, then two fingers, shook her head and showed Emmett her dressed knee.
“Two people and they looked after you?” He guessed and touched the fine material around her wound.
Bella smiled and nodded, remembering Edward’s gentle hands on her knee and the shock that travelled
through her body when his skin touched hers.
“Men?” He frowned.
Bella held up one finger and then ran her hands curvedly down either side of her body indicating female.
“One man, and a woman,” Emmett raised his eyebrows in interest.
She held her hand out at shoulder height and moved it down.
“A small woman,” Emmett said.
Bella frowned at him.
“A girl!” He grinned at her teasingly. “Were they angry at you for being in the wood?”
Bella shook her head.
“Perhaps they weren’t the landowners then,” he said, more to himself than to Bella.
She shrugged, whoever they were, they showed her kindness when she needed it, she wondered if she
would see them again, him again, emerald green eyes and copper hair were scorched into her memory,
she felt a pull at her heart.
Emmett felt the building anxiety swelling in his chest, the annual, two day fair at Stow was big business
for his people, and he had a large part to play in today’s venture. He would be acting as handler at the
auction, Emmett was an excellent horseman, since he was raised around them; the animals responded
well to him; they could sense his kind and gentle nature.
Each owner was going to pay him a flat, but modest fee, which he would endeavour to keep out of
Marcus’ clutches. He also had other intentions this year, he needed to get himself noticed, to find
employment, he didn’t care what or where; just as long as he could scrape enough by, for him and Bella
to live on; they didn’t need much.
He felt the growing urgency to get them both away from their Uncle Marcus, particularly Bella, she
wasn’t safe and if something should happen to him, Emmett shuddered at the thought, he made the
decision that when the Travellers moved on in a few day’s time, he would make sure they weren’t going
with them, they would take their chances living in the woods. He would tell Bella about it later, then
they would have some opportunity to discreetly remove a few belongings, mainly clothes, Marcus had
sold anything they had of value.
“Will you be okay with Mrs Weber?” He asked, every fibre of his body screamed out to protect her and
he hated the thought of her in the crowded marketplace, all those people milling around, anything could
happen and she wouldn’t be able to shout out to him, but they really needed this money today.
Bella rolled her eyes at him and nodded. She felt his growing anxiety, there was something bothering
him, he would tell her soon enough, he always did; Emmett was the kind of person who couldn’t kept a
problem to himself.
He stroked his sister’s soft dark hair; it glinted with gold and red shades in the subdued morning
sunshine; he lost himself in memories of long ago. Bella hadn’t always been mute, there was a time as
children, when she’d spoken, alot from what he could remember, if she was excited about anything
she’d tended to ramble quickly, in a bid to get it out as soon as possible, and she would sing little songs
when she was happy.
After that day when she got lost in the woods with her friend, she just stopped talking, they all knew
something bad happened, she had no memories of that day.
At first, when they could afford it, their father had taken her to see a doctor, different ones in many
towns, but they were greeted with the same disinterested reception. They had little time and patience
for them and they weren’t really that interested in finding the root cause of her problem, she was of no
significance and they weren’t important people.
Years passed quickly and it was forgotten and accepted that she simply didn’t speak, Emmett reasoned
that she would do it when she was good and ready, she could laugh and cry loudly, so there was no
physical reason why she shouldn’t be able to talk.
“Do you think you will ever talk to me Bells?” He asked her softly, crouching until he was face to face
Bella frowned for a second, occasionally he would ask her to try, and she would open her mouth and will
the words to tumble out, only they wouldn’t and silence would follow. She closed her eyes took a deep
breath and opened her mouth, if she could have spoken, she would have told him, to get down to the
marketplace and stop fretting about her, but the words were stuck in her throat.
Emmett smiled sadly at her and kissed her forehead, “Next time,” he whispered.
He had arranged for her to stay with Mrs Weber, she would be selling her hand crocheted shawls and
scarves, lace mats, and tablecloths, the frail woman would do the talking and negotiating and Bella
would do the reaching, fetching, and packing for her, in the past, the arrangement worked well and they
had made a good team.
“I’ll come and fetch you at lunchtime, Bella; we’ll go and have something to eat at one of the other
stalls,” he promised, Bella bobbed her head enthusiastically, he had no need to worry, she enjoyed
spending time with Mrs Weber.
Mrs Weber loved having Bella’s company; she would be the same age as her beloved daughter, Angela,
if she were still here. When tragedy struck thirteen years ago, the day Bella lost her speech, Mrs Weber
had lost her only daughter, her whole world collapsed, she was already a widow. But as the mother of
young, twin boys she had to fight and keep going, they cared for her now; her life had been a hard and
cruel one and her hope now was that one day, Bella would remember what had happened, and be able
to tell her.
Marcus had made himself scarce; the prospect of a hard day’s work did nothing for him, although he did
have a little discreet business to negotiate in the marketplace later in the day. He had arranged for a few
contacts to meet him to take a look at his sweet little niece, there was a good price to be had for the
deflowering of a virgin and she was quite the looker too, he was confident that she would fetch him a
good price. After that, he had big plans for his innocent niece; she would be an easy means of earning
money in the towns and villages they passed through, she would get used to selling her body in time and
he would take what he wanted, for free.
He would have taken her already, if it wasn’t for that oaf of a brother she had hanging around all the
time, like some personal bodyguard.
Marcus felt some concern when he caught Emmett eavesdropping on a conversation with an old friend;
when he had first began negotiating a price for her virginity. Aro, his friend, had a preference for young
virgins, the younger the better, but had been fearful when he had seen the size of Emmett and when
he’d learned he was her brother. He could hardly risk exposure and his reputation as he was the
Minister in the town. Marcus was enraged, Aro was prepared to pay handsomely, he’d liked the look of
Bella, but there was little he could do about it, he decided to bide his time, feeling sure the opportunity
would arise again and he could be rid of Bella’s guard dog brother.
After that Emmett hardly left her side, he even took to sleeping on the floor of the caravan at night,
Marcus found this amusing; he was protecting her virtue, the thing that would earn him the most
x x x x x x x
“Come on,” Alice demanded, pulling at Jasper’s hand, he grinned at her, he thought her breathtakingly
beautiful; her black hair, lily white skin, and green eyes were an exquisite combination, she was
tirelessly exuberant, like a Springer spaniel pup and he was completely smitten with her.
“Where?” He asked, knowing full well it didn’t matter; he would follow her to the ends of the earth and
back if she asked.
“I love the market,” she gushed, Alice found she had a real passion for buying and would indulge as
often as she could, although she was from a very wealthy background, her father only allowed her a
small allowance which she had to make last. He was very strict with his money and both of his children,
trying to instil in each of them economic value and not to take their wealth for granted, as his own
beginnings had been a humble one.
Carlisle worked hard to put himself through medical school and finished top of his class, now he found
himself top of his profession, demanding his own price and much sought after amongst the upper
classes and royalty. Even then, he spent one day a week at the poor hospital treating as many
unfortunates as possible for free, he was a kind and generous soul.
Carlisle had high expectations of his children and he would make sure they weren’t going to be spoiled,
So, Alice had saved a tidy little sum to spend on market day, and it felt all the sweeter to her because
she had saved it, and it would be even sweeter when she got to spend it.
Edward felt some degree of relief as he watched Alice dragging Jasper around behind her and gave them
another hour or two before Jasper would be laden under a mountain of purchases, it could have so
easily been him, as it had been in the previous years, he shuddered at the memory.
He decided to wander around the stalls this morning and take himself home later, where he could enjoy
an afternoon reading a book or playing the piano perhaps, he thought, there would be no one around,
he would enjoy the solitude, something he rarely got with his sister constantly at him, but, now that
Jasper was here; more peaceful afternoons would be coming his way.
Edward caught sight of his mother and father walking arm in arm around the stalls in the square, he
smiled, the devotion they had for each other was glaringly obvious to anyone who cared to look, even
after thirty years of marriage, they still looked upon one another with the same love and passion as
when they had been newlyweds. Edward desired and craved that kind of relationship for himself, he had
seen it first-hand with his parents; he knew it existed.
Much to the delight of his parents, it seemed that his younger sister had accidently stumbled upon love,
too, he had watched her and Jasper interact with each other and he felt the ache within his soul and,
although he was still very young, and would be off to study medicine in the new year, he still wished to
find his soul mate.
A golden vision filled his sight, as Rosalie, his cousin, appeared behind his parents, he knew they would
have been overjoyed if he could have found love with her, that had been half the reason their parents
had sent for them to come and live at the Cullen’s home, he had heard his parents talking when they
thought he was in bed one evening.
His Aunt Athenodora, Dora for short, was closing up their home and coming to live with them, while still
mourning the loss of her dear husband. Carlisle had been distraught at the loss of his favourite cousin
and had extended his hospitality to his widow indefinitely; she and her children would take up residence
in the West wing of the house. Esme and Carlisle were looking forward to the new additions to the
household and all the possibilities it could bring.
Edward felt a pang of guilt as he could feel nothing for the beautiful, vain creature that was Rosalie Hale;
he found her to be self-absorbed, haughty, narcissistic and very opinionated and couldn’t bear the
thought of a conversation with her, never mind anything more intimate.
To a general on-looker Edward and Rosalie would pass perfectly as brother and sister, the resemblance
to one another was astonishing and their dispositions and personalities were remarkably alike, as a
result, they couldn’t stand to be in the same room as one another.
He could manage to be civil to her for the sake of his parents and they had indeed made sure he was
raised to display good manners at all times, if nothing else, Edward Cullen was a gentleman.
He wandered aimlessly through the square, enjoying the fine weather and hustle and bustle of the
shoppers and traders, when he felt a tingling, prickling sensation on the back of his neck, like when you
know you’re being watched. The feeling made him turn and scan the area, his eyes locked upon huge
innocent, doe brown eyes and he felt the connection between the two of them instantly, his breathing
hitched in his throat as he saw her sweet little face and, for a second, nothing else existed, he felt the
pull from within drawing him to her and he could see the same reflected in her face, they exchanged a
smile, soft and sweet and meant just for each other.
NO! His subconscious shrieked, bringing him back from the edge, no, no, no, she couldn’t possibly be for
him, he couldn’t possibly be attracted to her, she was..... she was.....was of a different class to him,
socially below him, a Traveller, he thought shamefully, he closed his eyes breaking their connection and
turned, heading for home early, he needed to be alone.
Bella had recognised him through the crowd, his wild array of copper hair, his perfectly lean body,
Edward her heart sighed, he looked so incredibly handsome. She watched him, the way he moved with
grace and elegance; he had an amused smile pulling at the edges of his mouth, as he watched the
activity in the market, she would have been content to observe him for the rest of the day.
Then he turned and looked straight at her, he smiled softly, just for her, she had felt it, emotions stirred
deep within her. Then she saw the look of disgust mar his handsome features, Bella recoiled painfully,
feeling like she had been denied something, but what? She was still so young; she had a lot to learn
about matters of the heart, she watched him turn and disappear quickly into the crowd, he was running
away from her.
“Hello again,” a familiar voice disturbed her.
Bella withdrew her eyes sadly, from the retreating figure to the form of his sister, Alice, standing right in
front of her with a huge friendly smile on her face. She felt the sting of unexplainable tears, but blinked
them back quickly and smiled at Alice.
“This is my friend, Jasper,” she introduced the pretty blonde boy, who politely bowed his head and took
Bella’s hand, she felt slightly uncomfortable, boys didn’t usually treat her courtesy, she blushed.
Alice and Jasper smiled and waited politely.
“Do you know these lovely people Bella?” Mrs Weber interjected.
Bella looked at Alice, then briefly into the crowd, but he was long gone, Alice noticed the look of hurt
and confusion in her eyes, she’d seen Edward all but run from the crowd, moments earlier, her curiosity
piqued once more, she had felt the chemistry between her brother and this beautiful gypsy girl when
they’d met once before in the woods, it had been palpable.
Bella nodded shyly at Mrs Weber.
“Bella,” Alice said, “That’s a beautiful name,” she waited again; Bella glanced at Mrs Weber, who knew
what she needed.
“She doesn’t talk my lovely, Bella’s mute,” the old lady addressed Alice.
Edward walked home angry with himself, he not just walked, he marched, trying to purge his anger, punish himself, to exercise the turmoil of emotions and prejudice that he’d discovered inside of himself. His parents had raised him to see and treat everyone as equals and he thought he did, before today, he was sure he did, that was until he felt the pull of attraction to her.
He still didn’t know her name, the girl that he had almost shot in the woods, for a second, a loathsome part of him wished he had, he felt bile rise in his throat at the terrible thought that invaded his mind; he wouldn’t be having these thoughts if he had shot her.
Involuntarily, his memory flooded with images of her, her face, the way she pulled faces and scowled at him, her chestnut hair that fell across her face, creating a barrier for her to hide from him, her warm brown eyes, the way she had glared at him with contempt one minute, and then softened and cocked her head to the side and gazed on him with interest the next. Her eyes were so expressive and, in all that time, she had never uttered a word. They would be images that would be forever scorched into his brain, his body responded as he remembered the way her fragile frame had felt in his arms, he had the overwhelming desire to hold her again, even if it was just for one more time, he groaned in annoyance and despair, raking his fingers through his hair, tugging hard as he did.
Edward quickened his pace, pushing himself harder, until he was running, he felt free; he could keep going until he was far away, away from the creeping madness that seemed to be stalking him. By the time he’d reached Cullen Hall, he was gasping for breath, his chest tight and painful, he fought to draw air into his burning lungs, his face and body were wet with perspiration, but he felt better, the gruelling run helped little in assuaging the myriad of conflicting feelings he was experiencing.
“Why, Master Edward, you are almost ready to collapse,” Mrs Clearwater declared with concern, she had been busy scrubbing the front steps to Cullen Hall, as he made his way around the house, clutching the sharp stitching pains at his side.
“I’m fine, a drink of water and a bath will make me better,” she rushed to his side and insisted on helping him up the steps and through the huge oak door to the residence, he had tried to resist her help, but was grateful, he was feeling a little lightheaded as he had not eaten since this morning.
She knew he had something on his mind, this had been young Master Cullen’s way since he was a child, he would push his physical boundaries, until the problem had been sorted out inside his head. It was his coping mechanism, the way he dealt with his problems, and the way he looked, this was a big one.
“I could do with something to eat too,” he flashed a huge grin at the housekeeper, he’d always known how to get his own way with Mrs Clearwater, she and her family had been in service to his family since before he was born, he had fond memories of this woman, she had been as good to him, as his own mother.
“Very well Master Edward,” she replied, “I’ll send Leah to draw your bath and, when you return, your food will be waiting for you in the library.”
As he towered over her, he leant over and kissed the top of her mop cap, “You know me so well,” he returned.
“I do that Sir.”
Edward finished a glass of cold ale before taking the stairs two at a time to his room, Leah had already drawn his bath and the room was full of fragrant steam, he was already beginning to feel a lot calmer and he was purposely keeping his mind occupied with trivia in an attempt to keep her out.
Leah remained hidden in the shadows, he hadn’t noticed her as he came bounding into the room, she held her breath and stayed frozen as he began to undress. She was filled with chagrin that she didn’t leave or that she continued to watch as he peeled the clothes from his exquisitely toned body, warm feelings blossomed between her thighs as his glorious nakedness was revealed bit by bit, for her to feast her hungry eyes on.
Edward groaned in appreciation as his aching muscles made contact with the warm water, Leah clasped her hand to her mouth to stifle the noise that would have echoed his, although her groan would have been in appreciation, of the wonderful specimen of manhood in front of her.
She closed her eyes took a deep breath and fought to get her emotions under control, then realised she was gripping a large bath towel for Master Edward, she should have placed it beside the chair, he would need it when he exited the bath. After a matter of minutes, she crept silently towards him, her intention was to leave the towel and the room before he could see or react to her, Edward’s eyes were closed and his breaths were deep and controlled, relief swept over her when she realised he was sleeping.
Leah allowed her eyes to roam shamelessly over his naked body, it was the first time she had seen a grown man without his attire, and what she saw pleased and fascinated her very much, the warm throb returned between her legs and she had a strong desire to touch herself and quell the swell of her arousal, she squeezed her thighs together, giving herself a little desperately needed friction.
The water rippled around his taut abdomen and over the swell of muscle upon his chest and strong rounded biceps, his face was relaxed, angelic and serene like, he was a truly beautiful man, she longed to kiss along his square jaw line, to feel his masculine stubble upon her lips, Leah ran her middle finger along her plump bottom lip as she imagined.
She fought the desire to look and lost, as her eyes travelled lower until they rested upon his male member, which was long in length and wide in girth, she thought it was beautiful and wondered if she would find all cocks this pleasing to look at, or was it just his?
Leah watched as it swayed and bobbed around in the water, enticing her to touch. She held her breath and moved closer, Edward remained in a state of sleep, she peeped at him making sure he was still undisturbed, before moving slowly and silently to the edge of the bath, she allowed her fingertips to enter the water and gently touch him, just one touch, she promised herself.
Edward hummed his appreciation as her hand wrapped around his girth, heat flared in Leah’s nether regions, she never realised that she could feel so much pleasure in her pussy by touching a man and she longed to explore further.
Bolder this time, she gently squeezed the shaft in her hand, marvelling at the feeling of the warmth and silken texture of his skin; she moved her hand, enjoying the feeling of how it moved through her fist. Leah was mesmerised as she felt it swell, and grow hard at her ministrations, until it was nearly twice as long again.
How could any woman fit such a huge piece of muscle inside their pussy? The thought was beyond her, nevertheless, it thrilled her and she felt moisture soak her drawers.
She continued to explore his length, drawing the skin back to take a closer look at the purple, mushroom shaped head and the small slit at the end which appeared to have a drop of clear liquid, she wondered if she could taste it.
Leah’s heart gave a start as Edward groaned, a low guttural noise and rocked his hips moving his tool through her grip, but his eyes remained tightly closed, she took his lead and continued to move her hand up and down his long, solid length, her eyes flicking back and forth from his cock to his face, ensuring that his eyes remained closed.
This was so wrong, she knew it, she could be in so much trouble if her parents found out, if Edward woke up, but she remained transfixed, and now she wouldn’t be able to move even if she had wanted to, still naive in acts of pleasuring a man, she was curious about what would happen when he found his release. She could sense the impending climax as his hips shuddered and his cock began throbbing in her fist, he was thrusting with her pumping hand.
“Fuck,” Edward hissed, red faced and grabbed her wrist, keeping her hand tightly in position as he ejaculated, Leah watching in surprise as the white emissions spewed from the end of his cock landing on her forearm.
Chagrined, she noticed the hand holding her wrist; she turned to see the very beautiful and flushed face of Edward Cullen.
“I-I’m sorry, I don’t know what...” she turned and ran from his rooms leaving him confused, annoyed and strangely satisfied.
Edward left the bath and dressed, his stomach was beginning to make grumbling noises at him, and Mrs Clearwater would be coming to fetch him if he didn’t put an appearance in, soon, and he couldn’t have another Clearwater female disturbing him while he took a bath.
He was relieved not to come across any of the staff as he made his way into the library, he wasn’t sure what he would say to Leah when he did eventually see her, she was clearly in breach of her duties and would need to be told. But then he remembered the joyous feelings she had brought forth, with her stroking, much more pleasant, than when he had touched himself.
He felt a calmness wash over him, for the first time since he’d met her, the gypsy, he was free from her haunting image, perhaps the release, had been just what he had needed, and for that he was grateful to Leah.
While he ate his sandwiches and drank his pale ale, which Mrs Clearwater had left for him, he gazed through the windows of the library, upon the manicured lawns of the Hall, and thought of his, strange or was it lucky, experience in the bath, the dream he’d been having whilst Leah had stroked him to climax lazily filtered back.
He stood in the long grass of the flower meadow at the edge of the Cullen estate, the area was private and surrounded by trees, wildflowers decorated the expanse of willowy green with their vibrant color, he could relax, be at ease here. She was here, the un-named girl, and she was naked, he reached out to touch her, her skin was soft and silky beneath his fingertips, sending little shocks of electricity along his digits, her chestnut hair hung long and wavy, covering her breasts, he moved it back over her shoulders so he could see her perfect rosy, pink nipples. Boldly, she opened his trousers, he groaned as her hot little hand took hold of his aching cock and she began to stroke him up and down, faster and faster, he lost himself in the sensation of ecstasy.
He’d woke too late to turn back, to stop it, truthfully, he didn’t want to, he was on the precipice, he was more than a little shocked to find Leah, their maid, with her hand around his throbbing cock, her eyes wide and excited at what she was doing to him, spurred on by a great need and lustful feelings, he grabbed her hand, fearing she would withdraw at the point of no return and he needed the relief of completion.
He could dwell on the shame of his dreams, he was sure the girl was too young, sixteen or seventeen maybe, to be having erotic dreams about, but it didn’t matter, he would not be acting on his desires and no one would ever know of them. Soon, she would be gone forever, the market would pack up in a few days’ time; they would move on, he could avoid town and the woods for the next few days. It was all some infatuation for a pretty face, he reasoned; she did have a very pretty face, huge soulful eyes clouded his vision.
Likewise, he would not feel shame over the encounter in his bathroom, which had been out of his hands so to say; he smirked to himself at his little joke. He’d enjoyed it, no one needed know, Leah had appeared mortified at being caught, and she wouldn’t be disclosing her actions to anyone. It’s not like it was something that would be repeated, he thought to himself.
He finished the entire plate of sandwiches and the rest of the ale, today’s events had given him quite an appetite and his mood was considerably more cheerful.
Bella was at the point of screaming in frustration at the small, dark haired menace, otherwise known as Alice; she’d had her show every single piece of lace, cloth, table runner, napkin, shawl, scarf, handkerchief, and lacy undergarment, the latter was much to Bella’s embarrassment, which Mrs Weber had in her stock, above and below the table. The whole time, she talked and cooed over the craftsmanship, caressing each piece reverently, Bella had never seen anyone so enthralled about buying anything, ever.
“Oooo, this is so intricate,” Alice cooed as she held the cream lace throw.
“Look how this one falls,” she squealed as she draped the white shawl over her shoulders and spun around laughing.
“Mrs Weber, you have a gift.” Mrs Weber positively glowed at Alice’s compliment, and the girl was buying up most of her stock.
After fifteen minutes, Bella’s head felt as though it was fit to combust, and she was sure if she had been able to talk, she would not have gotten a word in otherwise.
“This one would look divine on my mother,” Alice waved another lace shawl around at anyone who was listening now, for even Mrs Weber had, had enough and stopped smiling.
“I like this one for me,” she’d found another exquisite scarf. “This would look so beautiful on you,” Alice draped the thin material around her, Bella scowled and shook her head vehemently, immediately removing the thin lace shawl from around her shoulders and handing it back to Alice, who realised she’d overstepped the mark in her over zealousness.
When Bella had finally placed the last carefully wrapped item into Jasper’s outstretched arms, the smile had left his face over forty minutes earlier.
Emmett announced his arrival with a booming, “Hello sis.” Bella was both annoyed and pleased to see him, thinking why he couldn’t have arrived earlier, and spared her the nightmare of Alice, Bella felt a pang of guilt; she did in-fact like her tremendously.
“Hello, I’m Alice,” she held her hand out to a stunned looking Emmett, who wrinkled his forehead and looked in confusion from Bella to Alice and then back again.
“Emmett, Bella’s brother,” he replied slowly, stunned by the forward behaviour of the young woman in front of him.
Bella rolled her eyes and gestured to him curves, indicating a woman, and then held her hand out, palm down at her height, then moved it down. Emmett’s face split into a huge grin, “You’re the small woman who helped my sister,” he exclaimed a little too loudly, taking Alice’s hand, who beamed broadly in return, clearly ecstatic that he already knew of her, Bella squirmed and blushed by his side. “Thank you very much for helping her and...” Emmett shifted uncomfortably; he looked down at the floor and leaned in close to Alice’s ear to whisper, “For not having us evicted from your land.”
“Think nothing of it,” she replied quietly, smiling sweetly at him.
“You must be the gentleman who helped her too,” he acknowledged Jasper holding his hand out.
Jasper shook his head in response and fought with Alice’s purchases to grab Emmett’s huge hand, “Sorry, I didn’t have that pleasure.”
“This is my... erm... Jasper,” Alice stumbled over her words, and her cheeks pinked slightly, Bella was intrigued to see her flustered. “It was my brother, Edward, who cleaned Bella’s knee up, I think he went home, he’s busy studying to be a doctor, you know.”
Bella watched as Alice filled with pride for her brother once again, a sentiment she was familiar with, Emmett was her rock, the constant in her life and, he may not be a doctor, but she was just as proud of him, Bella felt a tug at her heart and wished she could tell him as much, she would one day, she promised herself.
“So what have you been doing at the market, Emmett?” Alice asked exuberantly.
“Horses,” he replied proudly, “I helped at the auction, I handled all the animals, which reminds me, I don’t have long to eat, the next lot starts at three, and I’ve promised Bella here,” he cocked his head sideways at his sister, “ that I would take her to lunch.” He grabbed her small hand in his huge one and pulled her towards him, she giggled in response.
“Can we join you?” Alice asked excitedly.
“I don’t expect you to pay for us,” she explained gently, sensing the reason for his hesitation.
Emmett looked relieved, and then ashamed, casting his eyes towards the floor, he wished he’d had the funds; it would be nice to go to lunch with friends and not worry about the money.
“Come on,” Alice gave him no choice and grabbed his free arm, “I believe the Cock and Hen serve a hearty soup and it’s reasonably priced.”
He allowed her to lead, he had a feeling she wouldn’t have taken no for an answer, and honestly, he thought, he was a little afraid of the tiny woman who was half his size.
Jasper followed on behind, letting out a small chuckle, just when he thought she couldn’t surprise him anymore, she did just that. He had a notion he was going to have an interesting life with Alice by his side, Jasper Hale had taken the decision to court Miss Cullen, and he was going to make her his wife.
“So, why doesn’t Bella talk?” Alice asked bluntly as they sat outside in the sheltered courtyard, eating and watching the activities in the marketplace.
Jasper had been sitting quietly until then, coughed and spluttered into his drink, “Alice,” he hissed, “you can’t just ask any question you want.”
Emmett and Bella both giggled, then she nodded discreetly to Emmett, indicating her blessing to tell them.
“No one knows,” he replied with a shrug then lifted his glass taking a deep drink, leaving a foamy moustache across his top lip. “Bella was out playing in the woods one day with her friend Angela, she was around four years old, and they wandered too far and got themselves lost. I remember my dad was sick with worry, we all were,” Emmett’s eyes glazed over. “We searched the whole day, Sam, one of our elders, eventually found Bella curled up in a little ball beneath a hedge, she was exhausted and fast asleep, I remember her sleeping for two days, she was never the same, dad said, and from that day on, she never spoke again,” he reached for Bella’s hand as he added, “Angela was never found.”
Bella listened to the tale again with a frown etched onto her face, she had tried to remember over and over, and she felt sure the way to unlock her voice was to remember what had happened to her and her little friend Angela.
“She had no physical injuries and no memory of what happened that day,” Emmett said sadly, looking at his sister.
Alice felt moved at the unspoken love that passed between them, they didn’t need words to communicate.
“My father’s a doctor; perhaps he could have a look at Bella.”
“I’m not sure we could afford to...” Emmett began.
“Oh speak of the devil,” Alice jumped up and waved across the courtyard, “Father,” she yelled.
Jasper smiled gently at Bella, she giggled when he rolled his eyes, as Alice was jumping around excitedly, but she felt nervous inside.
A handsome looking couple approached arm in arm, “Darling,” a smartly dressed woman, with copper brown hair embraced Alice. Her hair was the same color as Edward’s, Bella observed.
The woman’s face was alight with love, the way a mother looks at her daughter; Bella wondered what it would have been like to have her mother around; would she look at her, the way Alice’s mother looked?
“Alice, are you going to introduce us to your friends?” The gentleman asked, he had the same green coloured eyes as Alice and Edward, Bella realised how observant she was becoming in the matters pertaining to Edward.
“Of course Father, this is Bella and her brother, Emmett,” she gestured with her arm as she spoke, “they’re working at the market today.”
Friends, Bella and Emmett thought fleetingly, they never stayed in one place long enough to have friends, it felt nice to be considered one now, in under a few days, Alice had found a way to get under their skin.
“This is my father, Dr. Cullen, and my mother, Mrs Esme Cullen,” she announced politely in a sing song voice.
“Pleased to meet you both,” Dr. Cullen smiled warmly, extended his hand to Bella, and then Emmett, Mrs Cullen followed suit, Emmett rose nervously from his seat to meet Alice’s mother, bowing his head politely; he was uncomfortable around high-class people, never sure in how he should act.
“Please sit, Emmett,” Mrs Cullen said softly, smiling and immediately putting him at ease.
“Please join us,” Jasper spoke, pre-empting Alice and fetching ornate metal chairs for the two to be seated.
“What a wonderful idea,” Dr. Cullen replied, his feet were throbbing awfully, after his wife had dragged him from stall to stall, inspecting and chattering about all the beautiful items that were on sale, and how divine they would look at Cullen Hall and he felt sure he had parted with a small fortune, but he thought it was worth it to see the smile on Esme’s face.
He could see from Jasper’s exhausted slump and the huge pile of wrapped parcels, that his daughter had visited every stall this morning too, like mother like daughter.
Dr. Cullen groaned into his ice cold ale, whilst Mrs Cullen daintily sipped from her teacup, Bella watched with wide eyed fascination at these lovely people, everything about them was beautiful, rich, and elegant, she could see how two people such as them, could produce such dashing offspring like Alice and Edward, she tried not to think too much about him, his absence left her with a hollow feeling inside her chest, which she didn’t want to explore at the moment.
“So what kinds of work have you being doing at the market?” Dr. Cullen asked, looking at Emmett and Bella, who were both staring.
“Horses,” Emmett replied, and then he repeated the same story, as he had told to Alice and Jasper earlier in the day.
“I thought you looked familiar,” Dr. Cullen replied, “I recently purchased two new stallions today.”
“Father,” Alice exclaimed.
“Yes dear,” he grinned, “We did promise you one for your birthday next month.”
Alice squealed and clapped her hands together before diving across to hug both her parents at once, “I love you,” she gushed at them, there was a tangle of arms and kisses and you’re welcome darling from her doting parents.
When the unashamed display of affection was over, Dr. Cullen asked Emmett, “Are you any good with horses?”
Bella nodded enthusiastically at his side, which made him smile.
“I like to think so,” Emmett replied modestly.
“Would you care to give me your opinion later today? Perhaps you could bring them by, if you’re not too busy?”
Emmett looked at the pale blonde man, realising this could be the chance he had been waiting for, he had a feeling Dr. Cullen was asking more of him, than just delivering the animals to his home. He needed to grab any opportunity with both hands, if he stood any chance of getting him and Bella away from their detestable Uncle.
“That would be fine by me,” he grinned enthusiastically, he had a good feeling and he thought fortune was smiling on him today, “I have to get back, but I’ll see you all later,” he said his goodbyes and rubbed Bella’s head as he left.
“Jasper, do you mind giving Emmett directions to the Hall?” Dr. Cullen asked.
“Not at all,” Jasper stood, “I’ll walk with you,” he said to Emmett and they both left together.
“Bella, what is it you do?” Mrs Cullen asked softly.
Bella moved to the edge of her chair as if she was meaning to run at any moment, she had forgotten herself for a moment, she was in strange company and completely at ease and it was unlike her brother to just walk off and leave her, he must have forgotten, or he, too, felt comfortable around the Cullen’s.
Alice grabbed Bella’s hand sensing her discomfort, “Mother, Father, Bella doesn’t talk.”
“I see,” he replied, his daughter could see the curiosity peak in his eyes.
“I was wondering if...” Alice started, Bella felt her heartbeat increase.
“Bella, stop bothering these people and get back to work,” an angry, slurry voice sneered, interrupting Alice mid sentence, they all jumped, and they all saw how Bella recoiled from the dark, greasy haired man, she was out of her chair and biting her bottom lip nervously, backing away from him.
“She’s not bothering us,” Dr. Cullen jumped to his feet in her defence, she reminded him of a frightened little rabbit, and his primal urge to protect her kicked in, he stood face to face with a very angry, inebriated, poor excuse for a man.
“Bella, I said get back to work,” he commanded, pointing towards the market and ignoring Dr. Cullen.
Embarrassed, angry and not wanting to cause any more of a scene, Bella let out a little sob and ran back to Mrs Weber, refusing to look at the Cullen’s out of sheer humiliation.
Before anyone could react any further, the man snorted in disgust looked them up and down, turned, and disappeared into the throng of shoppers.
“How very rude,” Mrs Cullen exclaimed.
“I hope we haven’t gotten her into any trouble,” Alice stood, looking very worried, “Perhaps I should go after her.”
“Alice, I think we’d best leave the poor child alone, I have a feeling he finds trouble where ever he wants to.” Her father replied, but he, too, had a bad feeling about the horrid man, but there was little they could do, but it wouldn’t stop him thinking of a ways to put things right.
“But,” she started.
“We’ll talk to Emmett later,” his tone was firm but gentle, ending the conversation.
“Let’s go and find Rosalie, I want to go home,” Mrs Cullen replied, her mood for perusing the rest of the market now extinguished.
Emmett’s jovial mood that afternoon was beyond the stars and no-one could bring him down, his laughter and fine spirit were infectious and everyone that came into contact with him commented on the large, happy chap.
He was normally easy-go-lucky, despite the rough deal life had dealt him and now he could feel change coming, and he prayed really hard that it was good change, he felt as though he couldn’t deal with anymore sorrow. But he would, he was that type of a person, Emmett Swan would not give up, no matter how hard and tough life got, he was a survivor by nature and a fighter by nurture. His father had taught him to defend himself physically, life on the road wasn’t kind or easy and there was always someone out there to blame and point at them.
As with every walk of life, the Romany people had their fair share of bad people; Marcus, for example, was as bad as they came. He’d had little to do with them growing up, he had been around, but always on the outskirts of camp, before the death of his mother, Emmett couldn’t really remember a conversation with his uncle, he used to come and join them for a meal once a week when she’d been alive. He didn’t think his father had liked him much, he couldn’t remember a good word ever been said about him, but he did remember a lot of scowling looks and arguments between his parents, after Marcus returned to his caravan once he’d eaten with them.
Emmett had asked his father once if he liked Uncle Marcus, his father replied with a shrug, “Blood is thicker than water,” as young as he was, he knew it wasn’t an actual answer and never asked again.
So it was a double blow when their loving father passed, and their bad tempered uncle took over their care, Emmett also knew old Mrs Weber had volunteered to take the children, and so had Sam, the camp elder and Emily, his wife. For some reason, Marcus insisted he would take them, he was their next of kin; the reason became obvious when their belongings disappeared, in exchange for drink and whores, which were his favourite pastimes.
Emmett also discovered his uncle was handy with his fists, on a couple of occasions, upon his return from a visit into town, he had felt the need to hit his nephew around for sport, he always managed to pick a time when no one was around to witness or intervene. Everyone suspected what was happening, the bruises were glaringly obvious. Bella had sobbed for him when she discovered the beatings and that had broken his heart, so, the next time Marcus raised his fists, Emmett retaliated using his brute strength and the techniques his father had taught him, much to his surprise he managed to beat the cunning and much more experienced fighter. Marcus had realised his nephew wasn’t going to be the pushover he had first thought and he never bothered him again. But Emmett felt he was always waiting for his next opportunity.
The auctions and the fair began to wind down at six, and by seven, the traders were all on their way home, and Emmett led the two young stallions out to Cullen Hall. The evening was warm and still light, autumn was in full swing with a myriad of golds, crimsons and coppers adorning the trees; the air was balmy and heavily scented with ripe fruits. He filled his lungs with a deep sweet breath and felt the joy of being alive, after he had spoken with Dr. Cullen tonight, he hoped to be able to discreetly cut across his land and into the woods, back to Bella, she shouldn’t be worried, but they both felt happier if he wasn’t away too long. He knew she would still be helping Mrs Weber with her stall, what was left of it anyhow; from what he had seen, Alice had purchased over half of it.
He smiled when he thought of Alice, ‘she was a force of nature,’ he continued to muse, ‘that Jasper fellow would have his work cut out for himself if he intended making her his wife, she certainly wasn’t conventional with her forwardness and her short hair cut, like a man, but it all suited her somehow.’ He smiled again, he liked Alice Cullen, not in a man liking a woman way, no, it was a friendly way; there was that word again, friend. Emmett continued on the road, deep in thought and his musings when he finally arrived at the Hall. The sheer size of the elegant grey brick building took his breath away, it was all so clean and tidy, the gardens were immaculate and symmetrical; he could see the stables around the back as he approached and the spacious paddock where three horses were roaming.
“Looks like you’ll be going to a good home,” he said to the black stallion, “Come on then, let’s get you settled in,” he said to the smaller chestnut one, who whinnied in response and nodded his head up and down, Emmett chuckled, he loved horses, he loved their beauty and strength, the speed when they ran, and their gracefulness.
“Father, he’s here,” a shrill excited voice permeated the quiet evening.
Emmett heard her long before he saw her, she came bounding across the drive to meet him, her eyes alight and dancing with excitement.
“So beautiful,” she cooed to the dark horse, kissing and stroking his nose, she did the same to the other with equal love. “Which one do you think is mine?” She questioned and then ran off, shouting for her father before Emmett had a chance to respond.
Dr. and Mrs Cullen, Alice, Jasper, and a young boy, whom they introduced as Seth, came to meet him.
“Thank you Emmett,” Dr. Cullen took his hand with both of his in a friendly handshake, “I trust you will stay for some refreshment.”
Emmett was taken aback by the overwhelming friendliness of this family that barely knew him; he couldn’t help but like and trust them straight away.
The invitation was not up for debate as Mrs Cullen immediately said, “Of course, I’ll go and find Mrs Clearwater,” she smiled warmly, then turned and left.
Seth was walking around the horses, looking them up and down a little apprehensively, “They’re fine animals, Mr. Seth,” Emmett said to the young lad.
The young lad smiled immediately, he liked being called Mr. Seth, it made him feel grown up and important.
“Seth is our current stable hand,” Dr. Cullen said, “However, as we are extending the stables and other areas around the grounds, and as I am sure he will be the first to agree, Seth is more suited to gardens than horses.”
Emmett and Dr. Cullen both looked towards Seth, who smiled wryly and nodded his head.
“So we find ourselves in the position of needing extra help with the horses.”
Emmett held his breath, he could hardly believe what he was hearing, he was acutely aware of Alice squealing and clapping excitedly.
“I have made some enquiries, I do hope you don’t mind, and it seems you have quite an excellent reputation with horses.”
Emmett just stood there aghast, holding the reins of two horses, staring like an imbecile at Dr. Cullen.
“Shall I take the horses?” Seth asked softly.
Emmett managed to nod; Seth took the horses, prying the reins from Emmett’s sweaty fingers, he grinned at the large, beautiful man whose blue eyes twinkled mischievously.
Most people would find Emmett intimidating, but he radiated gentleness and friendliness, Seth liked him immediately and hoped he would accept the job offer from Dr. Cullen, who was a good boss and a fair man, and there weren’t many of those around these days. Most of all, Seth wanted a friend, a close friend, although there were plenty of people around him, they were nearly all women and he craved the company of men.
‘Master Jasper and Master Edward were older and of a noble class, they were kind, courteous even, but didn’t really have time for him. Master Edward was always busy studying with his father, to be a doctor himself, or off entertaining his brat of a sister, Alice.
But Alice had a new plaything now, in Master Jasper, who doted completely on her, she didn’t deserve him, she always got what she wanted, and it wasn’t fair.’
Now his internal rant was over, Seth was positively sulking, he found growing up tedious and terribly confusing, he had feelings he wanted to discuss with another male, and he felt sure they weren’t, ‘proper or decent Christian feelings,’ therefore, he was reluctant to talk to his father, who was a strict religious man and would have trouble understanding.
Seth desired the company of men, he had strong, overwhelming feelings, deep inside of him, he felt his manhood twitch and grow at the thought of touching and kissing a man, he tried to put a girl in the pictures of his mind but nothing happened, there were no stirrings, no heat, he was scared and excited at the same time.
Dr. Cullen broke the silence, “Seth, take the horses, please.”
“S-sorry,” he muttered, realising he had been lost in thought, he was grateful no one could read minds; he took the horses, leaving the two men to talk, as Alice and Jasper followed on, too, giving them some privacy.
“Come, let’s go and have some refreshments, then we can talk,” Dr. Cullen requested.
“Thank you,” Emmett followed silently, his heart thundering in his chest, ‘please God,’ he begged, ‘let this be real.’
The small wrought iron garden table had been set out with a pitcher and two glasses, Mrs Cullen was nowhere to be seen, it seemed that everyone intended Dr. Cullen be alone with Emmett.
“Lovely, Mr. Clearwater makes the best cider, would you care to try some?”
“I would, thank you,” Emmett replied politely, watching as his glass was filled with the dark amber liquid.
“To business,” he raised his glass to him, Emmett followed suit, “Please sit,” he indicated to the chair as he sat himself. “As I explained earlier, we are in the process of expanding here at the Hall, Seth is our current stable hand, who lacks confidence with horses and, as I am sure you are aware, the animals can sense that.”
“He would be happier taking over the gardens from his father, freeing Mr. Clearwater up to take on more of the household duties with his wife and daughter. I need someone to tend the horses, someone I can trust and I think that is you.” Dr. Cullen stopped to take a long drink from his cider. “You would receive a weekly wage of eight shillings a week, there’s a small cottage behind the stables where you could live and there’s vegetables in the gardens, fruit in the orchard, and produce from our livestock, that you are more than welcome to help yourself to. I think you could be happy here, it’s a good life.”
Emmett closed his eyes, there was a look of worry etched on his face, he took along drink, Dr. Cullen was disappointed he had not jumped at the chance to work for him; he was use to getting what he wanted, when he wanted it, and he wanted him.
Emmett had a good reputation with horses and was an honest man, something was holding him back.
“Would my sister be able to come with me?” He asked apprehensively.
Dr. Cullen smiled, “Of course.”
“Really?” Emmett’s face split into a huge smile.
“Really, it was stupid of me not to mention your sister, the invitation was open to her too, which reminds me, after you left today, a man came shouting at her to get back to work, he was drunk and really angry.” He remembered the scene in the marketplace; he hated to think of him in charge of anyone.
“My uncle, he’s always really angry,” Emmett replied calmly, it made Dr. Cullen sad to think this was the usual behaviour for their guardian. “I’d best go, make sure she’s ok, we’ll return tomorrow, if that’s ok with you?”
“That would be wonderful,” the doctor replied, standing to shake his hand, “I’ll walk you up the drive; I can point out the shortest route back to the woods.”
Emmett looked at the doctor in shock; he knew they were camping on his land and although the Dr. Cullen was gracious enough to allow the trespass, he wanted Emmett to know he was no fool and would not be treated as such. Emmett understood what was left unsaid, and a deep understanding and respect developed between the two men that would last a lifetime, Emmett’s expression relaxed and he nodded his silent thanks.
As they passed the stables, they saw Seth in the yard, he was struggling to lock one of the horses up for the evening, the animal was a little spirited and tugged at her reins, causing Seth to let go and the horse trotted freely around.
“That’s Twilight, she’s always been a little feisty,” Dr. Cullen informed Emmett.
Emmett felt himself being drawn slowly towards the beast, palms up and speaking in hushed tones, “There, there girl,” the horse slowed as if responding to his voice.
Dr. Cullen watched in amazement, feeling delighted with his decision to have him in his employment. He’d had a long conversation with his daughter that afternoon, who was also keen for him to employ Emmett and have Bella live in the cottage, she had no other explanation, other than she had a good feeling about the two of them, they were meant to be in their lives.
Alice had a good insight into life and he had come to trust in her instincts, he had to admit though, both of them had left an impression on him and Esme, she had an overwhelming desire to mother the girl, he chuckled to himself, Esme had an overwhelming urge to mother everyone. She would have gone onto have more children if there hadn’t been complications whilst she was giving birth to their third child, who arrived prematurely; the poor little babe, James, they had called him, died within the week, nearly taking her with him.
Esme had never been able to conceive after that. She had long since made her peace and was extremely grateful for what she had.
A barking dog snapped Dr. Cullen back to the present, the family hound, Barker, came racing through the yard, followed closely by an annoyed looking Rosalie. Emmett thought he’d seen an angel when she followed the giddy dog; she was scowling and shouting unladylike things at the dog. Her golden hair was fastened into a braid with ringlets dancing around her slender face, she had piercing blue eyes, the colour of a summer sky, her china white skin was flawless, and complemented the rose pink of her perfect lips. She wore riding breeches and a tweed jacket, which hugged her long curvy frame, he thought of poetic prose and songs to sing this beauty.
“What are you looking at?” She snapped crossly, ‘how dare he stare like that,’ she thought.
Then he was suddenly a believer in love at first sight, and felt the awful grief that she would never be his. He was so mesmerised with her that he hadn’t noticed Twilight’s agitation was building again, Barker had continued to race around excitedly chasing a moth. Seth had managed to get hold of the reins again, and was pulling the animal while she tried desperately to pull free, by the time Emmett was aware of his surroundings again, Twilight had reared, kicking out her front legs.
Time seemed to slow down for Emmett; his angel was standing too close and was in danger of being hurt. Seth had been shaken free of the reins again and was falling, the dog continued to be annoying, barking and racing around, he thought he could hear Dr. Cullen shouting behind him. His angel stood there frozen in fear, her eyes wide as the hooves of the horse came closer, Emmett did the only thing he could and lunged towards the beautiful woman, pushing her out of the way, placing himself in line of the hooves.
This chapter contains scenes of a disturbing nature
“Fuck.” Rosalie cursed as she picked herself up from the floor and rushed over to the fool that had pushed her, the foolish, big oaf that had saved her from the hooves of that stupid, bloody horse, Twilight.
Her heart warmed slightly, after all, it was a heroic thing that he had just done, and for someone he didn’t even know too.
Dr. Cullen was already leaning over the unconscious man with a look of concern on his face; he relaxed marginally when he felt the strong thrum of a pulse, as he placed two fingers over Emmett’s jugular.
He wondered for a moment... If a weaker man such as himself, would have been as fortunate with such a fierce blow to the head.
“Emmett, can you hear me?” He tried to rouse the injured man.
His deft fingers worked swiftly and with care, assessing the injuries to his head, neck, and shoulders, pressing his fingers into the bruised flesh; that was already beginning to swell as she watched.
“Will he be ok?” She asked, panic lacing her voice, she bent down to tenderly touch her rescuer’s face; he looked peaceful and childlike... Just like he was sleeping, she thought.
“Yes, but he is badly injured, go and get the men from the house we need to get him inside quickly,” Dr. Cullen instructed with urgency.
Rosalie disappeared and soon he was surrounded, Edward had been given enough information to come with his father’s medical bag and he instructed Seth and Mr. Clearwater to fetch the board from the stables; to use as a makeshift stretcher.
After his neck was braced, Emmett was gently moved on to the board, all the men working in unison to prevent any further injuries. After a short discussion they decided to take him to a spare room on the ground floor, behind the servants’ quarters, simply because he was too heavy to carry upstairs, even with five men on the job.
It was a simply furnished room with a bed, a table, and a chair.
Mrs Clearwater had worked quickly to prepare it for their arrival, the gas wall lights were lit and there was a blazing fire in the grate. Crisp, white linen covered the bed and there were fresh towels on the table, she’d pre-empted Dr. Cullen by leaving a jug of cold water and linen squares.
“Thank you Mrs Clearwater.” Dr. Cullen smiled; as he surveyed the room, he had always thought she would have made a fine nurse.
“If there’s anything else Sir... I will be down the hallway.” She nodded taking her husband and distraught son with her as she left.
Edward stayed and assisted his father, applying cold compresses to Emmett’s injured head, where the horse’s hooves had struck; then he gave his father a second opinion after examining him thoroughly.
“He has a dislocated shoulder, lots of bruising, and he will have the mother of all headaches when he wakes,” he diagnosed, pointing to the relevant areas as he spoke.
Dr. Cullen felt pride rise in his chest, his son learned quickly; he nodded his agreement.
“The hospital is too far to move him tonight.” He paused. “I think he would be more comfortable here, there are more than enough people to take care of him,” Dr. Cullen added, tidying up the resources his housekeeper had left.
Edward frowned, but agreed as he removed his stethoscope and packed them away in the black medical bag. “Who is he?” He asked and nodded towards the stranger in the bed.
“Emmett,” his father answered. “I have employed him to take care of the horses.”
Edward raised his eyebrows, looked down at the black and blue face, then up at his father in disbelief. “Really?”
Dr. Cullen smiled at the irony in his son’s voice. “Yes, he got his injuries rescuing Rosalie, Twilight reared and was about to kick her, when he jumped in the way.” Dr. Cullen affectionately touched Emmett’s shoulder. “It was very brave of him.”
“We’d best fix his shoulder...” Edward said, “While he’s still out.”
The two worked in unison manipulating his shoulder back into position, it made a satisfying noise when it found its rightful place; then Dr. Cullen rested Emmett’s arm across his chest and thought how sore he was going to be when he woke up. He would be sure to give him some pain relief as soon as possible.
There was a quiet knock at the door and Rosalie entered without being asked, she strained to look around both men to take a look at the injured stranger. “How is he?”
“Unconscious,” Edward replied sarkily.
She smiled at him with contempt, “Funny.”
“Please,” Dr. Cullen hissed, he was in no mood to play referee between these two tonight.
“He needs to rest tonight, tomorrow he’ll be very sore, so if you both wouldn’t mind going.” He tried to usher them both towards the door.
“I’ll stay and watch him,” she offered.
“Rosalie, go to bed,” Dr. Cullen directed.
“No, it’s my fault he’s here, I’ll watch him tonight... you get some rest and, if he so much as makes a murmur, I will fetch the both of you.” Her voice changed from commanding to a softer, pleading tone as she spoke. “Please,” she added.
Dr. Cullen relented with a deep sigh. “Ok, anything...” he pointed at the unconscious man in the bed.
“I’ll fetch you, I promise,” she nodded.
Edward was ushered out of the room by his father, leaving Rosalie to nurse Emmett for the night. He frowned at his father in the hallway; this was most unlike Rosalie to show any kind of care or compassion to anybody.
Dr. Cullen was equally confused; he shrugged his shoulders. “Guilt?” He whispered.
Bella ate a delicious evening meal with Mrs Weber; she’d always enjoyed the older woman’s company, and she’d laughed all night as she’d regaled her (again) with tall tales of her misspent youth, and how her life had been in the early days.
Mrs Weber equally loved the company of Bella; she was reminded of her own daughter Angela... She would have been around the same age.
If only she could talk to me, she’d thought wistfully.
It was very late and dark when she walked the short distance to her caravan, the old woman had provided her with a candle to illuminate her way home, and she’d watched her from the steps of her caravan; they waved to each other in the gloom.
Bella quickly readied for bed, then put a sleeping mat and blanket out for her uncle and bolted the door; Emmett wasn’t back, it was unlike him to be so late, but he was probably having fun with the Cullen’s. She was pleased and excited for him, and hoped when she saw him next, there would be good news and they could stop living in fear of their vile guardian.
As for tonight, he would have to sleep outside, she was opening the door for no-one; and he would understand that.
She was relieved Marcus wasn’t home, when he did return he would presume Emmett was inside with her, and she would not be bothered by him; exhausted at the late hour, she soon fell in to a dreamless sleep; it had been a tiring day.
Morning seemed to arrive all too quickly and there was still no sign of her brother or her uncle.
Uncle Marcus she couldn’t care less about... He was probably torpid in some whore’s bed in town, but her brother never stayed out all night, she felt justified in being worried.
Mrs Weber and the rest of the Travellers were moving on this morning, first into town to sell the rest of their wares, and then they would carry on through to Applegate for the next market, which was taking place in a few days time.
Bella slowly packed up the few belongings they had, and she readied the horses like she was preparing to follow, the truth was she couldn’t really do much without Emmett or Uncle Marcus.
“Your uncle not back yet?” Mrs Weber called over to Bella, while her son harnessed the horse to the caravan.
Bella shook her head and chewed her bottom lip anxiously.
“You can always come with us, you know that don’t you?”
Bella felt her heart warm, she loved the old woman and she looked upon her as she would have done her own grandma. Hot tears prickled at the corner of her eyes, and she ran into the embrace of the Mrs Weber, sobbing into her shoulder.
“Shhh, it is ok child.” She stroked her hair soothingly. “Come with us, Emmett can look after himself.”
She knew Bella’s answer well before she gave it.
She smiled sadly at Mrs Weber and shook her head.
Mrs Weber held her own tears back for the frightened child; the old woman was gifted, not unlike Alice, she seemed to have a sense of what may happen. And she knew she would never see Bella or Emmett again after today, Bella had to endure the challenge ahead of her, for her life to change; as yet the future was undefined and her path could go one of two ways, one would eventually lead to her happiness, the other would lead to...Mrs Weber shuddered, death.
She was a suspicious woman who believed in the old ways of her people, in spells and curses, old magic and destiny, therefore, Bella was already on her path and what will happen, must; she said her goodbyes and when she was far enough away, she prayed and let her tears fall.
Her son shook his head, ‘silly old woman,’ he thought.
Bella was tempted by the offer to leave with them. She was frightened of being on her own, but she had a plan, as soon as the last of her people left, she would go and find the Cullen house, after all, that’s where Emmett was last. Her mind began conjuring up dreadful scenarios of what could have happened to him, perhaps he lay injured in the woods or the field on his way home in the dark. The tears prickled again, in worry.
Marcus had indeed awoken in a whore’s embrace again.
Lauren had been his favourite while in Stow, and she’d granted him many favours. He might have led her on a bit; given her ideas and notions and now she had ideas above and beyond her station, stupid cunt he thought, what was she expecting? A ring? Wedded bliss? Steady money?
He snorted, Lauren stirred in her slumber, rubbing her full figure against him, and he felt the stirrings in his manhood. He was leaving today, but he had time for one last fuck before he went; no matter how disappointing.
His sexual appetite was insatiable and quite depraved, some of his darkest desires he had denied himself for too long, his mind briefly flashed back fourteen years, the last time he’d allowed himself true pleasure.
He had nearly been caught; from then on he had tried to find satisfaction in other ways. He felt his will crumbling, daily and he was finding it harder and harder to control his urges, so fucking a sleeping whore was normal by his standards.
Marcus rolled himself on top of her and was deep inside by the time she was awake.
“Well hello,” she said, trying to sound sexy.
He closed his eyes to imagine she was someone else. He grunted and thrust, blocking out the sound of skin slapping against skin, he was thinking of her, the one he really desired to be inside, he envisaged her lily white skin, innocent brown eyes and long chestnut hair and the best thing of all, young, and so very quiet. His cock swelled with desire, he imagined piercing her tight virgin hole with his cock, not like the soft, slack hole without definition that he plundered now.
He wanted to make her cry and scream in agony, he thought about squeezing and biting her small, perfect breasts, marking them with his teeth. Taking joy from her back hole over and over again, his cock swelled and throbbed.
“Fuck,” he grunted, it had never felt so good.
“Oh, baby,” Lauren cooed, thinking she had her man all hot and bothered, she’d never felt him so passionate, so driven, she thought she’d driven him to this and that he was enflamed with desire for her.
Marcus focused on his innocent, sweet, virgin again, blocking out Lauren’s insipid moans of pleasure, his thoughts went to her hot little mouth and the way he would shove his cock between those perfect pink lips. He would hold her hair and fuck her pretty little mouth and she would swallow everything he gave her.
“Unngh,” he felt the first wave of pleasure, white hot, burning desire, it fizzled in the depths of his stomach and his sac. He was trembling and beads of sweat broke out over his skin. It was intense. He pounded harder, he imagined her again, beneath him with her legs parted, taking his cock inside of her, and loving it.
“Bella,” he grunted in the heat of the moment.
Lauren froze when she heard him whisper another name, “no,” not just another name; the fucker whispered his own niece’s name.
He opened his eyes when he realised his mistake, Lauren’s face had a look of utter disgust upon it. She began to try and push him off, but he was going to finish what he started, and this latest turn of events thrilled him all the more.
She opened her mouth and managed a scream before he put his hand over her mouth and nose, stopping the sounds dead in her throat, with renewed vigour, he continued to fuck as she struggled and fought beneath him. Soon, he was cumming harder than he had ever cum before, leaving his head swimming, his body quivering, he collapsed. “Amazing,” he whispered truly spent, Lauren lay motionless, he noticed she was barely breathing, he cared not and dressed in a euphoric state, this feeling was as close to happy Marcus had ever felt.
He had new images to torment and excite him, images of covering Bella’s mouth and nose while he fucked her, he wanted to recreate the intense experience that he’d just had with Lauren, it excited him, it was spiritual, he thought. He left the small squalid room without a second look; she lay barely alive, bruised and naked on her bed.
He kept to the shadows like a snake, he slithered around the outskirts of town, unheard and unseen, if Lauren should choose not to wake, he didn’t want to be the last one seen around her, he would head back to the caravan, they would be leaving Stow this very morning.
The street was quiet apart from two women gossiping, he froze at what he heard.
“...You know, the big brute of a lad, Emmett, I think his name is,” Marcus stayed hidden in the shadows.
“Well, Mrs Crowley called by Cullen Hall this morning and Mrs Clearwater told her that he was kicked in the head by a horse, he was saving Rosalie and he still hasn’t come round.”
This was the chance he’d been waiting for, he set off running; Bella was alone.
Contains violent scenes and disturbing imagary
“Good morning Mother,” Alice sang as she entered the dining room, expecting to find everyone already having breakfast, she’d slept a little later this morning, having been plagued by nightmares all night long. “Where is everyone,” she asked, helping herself to eggs and bacon.
“Oh dear,” Esme sighed, putting one hand to her forehead, “Rosalie is sleeping, she stayed up all night watching Emmett and your father and Edward have just gone to check on the poor boy.”
“E-Emmett?” Alice stuttered.
“Yes dear, he had an accident last night; Twilight kicked him in the head.” Esme stood up; she’d forgotten her daughter had gone to bed before the time of the incident. “Alice, are you well?” she moved quickly from her chair and across to her daughter, who looked quiet pale and as though she were about to faint.
“Where is he?” She asked, composing herself, she felt unsettled and nauseous inside.
“In the spare room, behind the servants’ quarters,” Esme replied, before she could ask anything else, Alice had turned and fled.
Dr. Cullen was assessing Emmett, who was still unconscious, but he’d had a comfortable night until Alice burst through the doors, shouting in a panic.
“Whoa,” Edward hissed, interrupting his little sister, preventing her from entering any further into the room, “Where’s the fire?”
“Bella, where’s Bella?”
“Bella, I completely forgot about her,” Dr. Cullen replied, standing to face his daughter, the colour drained from his face, in all the worry and fuss, he had completely forgotten about the poor girl and her wretched uncle.
“Wait, what? Who is Bella?” Edward questioned.
“The girl,” was all Alice had to say, and he knew.
“What has she got to do with this? He gestured wide with his arms, annoyed that he’d been made to think about her, just for a minute, she wasn’t already there, plaguing his mind.
“Bella,” a gravelly voice spoke from behind them and then a groan as Emmett tried to sit up, “I have to...”
“You’re not going anywhere,” Dr. Cullen rushed over to help Emmett back onto the bed, before he fell flat on his face.
“Please,” he said, “She’s in danger, my uncle; he’s not a good man.” Emmett tried again to get up from the bed, wincing in agony as the pain tore through his head and shoulder; another man would have passed out by now.
“Would someone please explain,” Edward raised his voice, panic was beginning to overtake him, when he’d heard her name; Bella, his heart sighed, but she was in danger, feelings exploded inside of him, rage like that he’d never felt before; someone was trying to harm her.
“Emmett is Bella’s brother,” his father pointed out, still struggling to get the big man to lie still in the bed.
“I’ve always been there to protect her from my uncle,” he whispered through gritted teeth, he’d given up trying to get up and the tears began to flow; “Now she’s alone.”
“Where will she be?” Edward demanded.
Emmett saw the fierce and determined look in Edward’s eye, which quelled him for the moment.
“On the other side of the river, there’s a clearing in the woods.”
Edward nodded, he knew the place and he and Dr. Cullen turned and ran from the room, Alice had already disappeared.
“Hurry,” Emmett shouted after them and then yelled loudly in anger, pain, and frustration, hot tears flowed down his cheeks. Rosalie appeared by his side, she never said a word, but held his hand and stroked his forehead, until his tears dried up. Then she waited with him silently, for what felt like an eternity.
Alice had summoned Jasper, and the horses were saddled and ready to go, Dr. Cullen kissed her forehead, “Go and tell your mother,” he said quickly, mounting his steed, Edward and Jasper were already halfway across the field.
Edward’s vision was blurry with tears and images of her pale skin and matching brown hair and eyes, he saw her thick lashes that framed her lids so perfectly, pale pink lips, she had smiled so sweetly the last time he’d seen her, but he’d been a total arse and walked away.
He was frightened of the feelings she evoked within him, now he may never get the chance to know her, he felt a bubble of pain and fury rise inside his chest; he wanted to scream, yell, and swear, vent the frustration and the myriad of other emotions that threatened to swamp him. He dug his heels harder, pushing his horse; Twilight, faster.
Bella knew she was in trouble, she could sense it, the hairs prickled at the back of her neck, she picked up the pace of her walking hoping she would reach town or at least a spot where people may pass her, ensuring some degree of safety. Her walking got at little faster and soon she was running.
She heard the foot falls behind her; her pursuer picked up speed as well.
Her heart thudded loudly in her chest and she could feel adrenaline course through her veins, she was being hunted. Bella lifted her skirt so not to trip or fall; it was no time to be clumsy.
She thought of her last fall, she’d met the Cullen’s, Edward’s beautiful face flashed through her mind, his gentle touch when he cleaned her knee and the tingle of energy she felt when his skin brushed hers, the look that passed between them; she felt a connection to him, had he felt it too? Bella felt sad, she would never know.
‘Please don’t let me fall,’ she sent out her silent prayer and headed for the densest part of the woods, perhaps she could hide from him.
Bella felt the strangest sense of déjà vu, like a dream she was trying to remember, she forced herself into a patch of blackberry brambles, the sharp little thorns ripped and snagged at her clothes and bare skin. His running had slowed too, she hadn’t turned to see who it was, she didn’t need to, she knew who was chasing her; it was her Uncle Marcus.
Memories began to surface; they’d played this game before, a long time ago when she was a child, when she played in the woods with Angela, Mrs Weber’s daughter.
It was fate he thought, Marcus was overjoyed to find himself behind Bella on his way back to the caravan, he picked up his pace trying to get closer, but the little cock tease ran into the woods, she liked to play games. She liked him to chase her, he grew harder, he liked to chase little girls through the woods, he allowed his mind to wander for a second and he lost sight of her.
“Fuck,” he hissed, but she couldn’t stay hidden for long, he would wait for her.
Bella lay beneath the brambles, ignoring the way they ripped into her flesh, pulling like tiny fangs, beads of blood surfaced and decorated her pale skin. She held her breath and the sobs that threaten to erupt, he was so close that she could hear his deep shallow breaths, she even heard him utter a cuss word.
Go away, she closed her eyes and wished, Marcus eventually moved away, the silence was deafening, not even the birds were singing as she crawled from beneath her brambly protection.
There were memories, bad memories trying to surface, but she fought them, not wanting to remember them now, while she was alone and vulnerable, tears prickled in her eyes and her heartbeat thrummed loudly in her ears.
Bella made the decision to run; she couldn’t go back, she would rather die than spend another minute wondering and waiting for him to strike, she blindly ran towards the river. Her heart lifted and she allowed herself to hope, she could hear the gentle sound of the rushing water, she could see the reeds that lined the banks, she was so close, if she could just reach the water, he couldn’t get her.
The breath left her lungs in a rush as strong arms circled her waist and neck from behind, pulling her so close to his hard body, the arm around her neck pulled so tight, briefly her world disappeared under a blanket of darkness.
She was watching the rabbit again as it hopped towards the snare she’d set, Bella opened her mouth to shout and scare it off, but no sound came, she tried to move, struggle but she was restrained, held against her will. She watched as the rabbit was ensnared again, she saw his struggles as they grew weaker, as the life was slowly squeezed from his little body.
Bella woke panicking and gasping for breath; she was still alive and found herself tied to the wheel of their caravan.
“You shouldn’t run; you know how much I like to chase, Bella.” Shivers ran down her spine, his voice was so full of malice.
She jumped and turned her head quickly to face her uncle, who was standing next to her with a leering look on his face.
The memories overwhelmed her, she was running and laughing with Angela in the woods, her father had said don’t go far, but they’d followed a fawn, it was so sweet and little, they’d just wanted to make sure it found its mother, so they followed it.
She couldn’t remember how her Uncle Marcus ended up in the woods, but suddenly he was in front of them, she hadn’t liked him even then, he’d always made her feel uncomfortable; he watched her a lot when no one was around and stroked the private part of his body.
Instinctively, both girls turned and ran from him, getting separated from each other in the process, Bella remembered running and running, she was lost, cold, and scared, it was getting dark; and she wanted her daddy. Then she’d heard noises, she moved closer, hoping it was someone who could help, then she saw him, obscured through the branches of shrubs and brambles, she saw the unmoving, little body of her friend Angela, on the ground, her clothes were up around her waist, he was looking around and tucking himself back his clothes.
It had been too much for the mind of a small child, she remembered opening her mouth to scream, she wanted everyone to know he was a bad man, but no sound came out. Bella’s world went black and she collapsed to the ground, and that’s where she stayed, to be found later by Sam.
Marcus was too busy getting rid of the evidence to notice his niece a few feet away, if he had noticed, it would have been two children who disappeared that day.
Streams of tears flowed streaking Bella’s dirty, bloodied face, she pulled for all she was worth against her restraints in an attempt to claw the bastards eyes out. Pain seared her wrists as she struggled and he laughed, delighted that she had remembered he’d killed her friend, he’d killed Angela.
He laughed and tossed his head back, “Kittens got claws,” he moved in close and grabbed her face; he reeked of stale alcohol, cigarettes, and sweat. “Good, I like a bit of spirit.” He pressed his mouth against hers, she struggled, but his grip on her face was tight and painful, she couldn’t move; her stomach flipped and bile burned in her throat.
He looked smug with himself as he pulled back; she took the chance and spat in his face, for a second, she had the pleasure of seeing his look of shock, that’s until it turned to anger and he struck her with the back of his hand. Bella felt the agonising throb in the side of her head and her mouth filled with blood from a gash on the inside of her cheek.
“I’ll soon knock the fight from you bitch,” he hissed, she had provoked him and, if he had the time, he would make her his now, but he couldn’t risk that oaf Emmett or anyone else showing up, he had to take her somewhere quiet; secluded, and then he could take his time breaking her in. To prove his intentions, he roughly pulled her cotton top down exposing her breast, then he sunk his teeth in her delicate flesh, hard enough to break the skin.
It all happened so quickly, it didn’t register with either that she let out a hoarse scream.
Edward and Jasper arrived at the clearing in time to see him expose her and sink his teeth into her breast, Edward was blinded by fury.
“Get away from her you bastard,” he rushed at the obnoxious creature that was defiling her, with Jasper close on his heels.
He felt some degree of satisfaction as his fist made contact with Marcus’ nose and he heard and felt it break beneath the blow, blood spilled across his face and he fell to the floor, momentarily he was taken off guard.
Normally, a lanky eighteen year old was no match for him, but Edward was strengthened by raw feelings, fuelled by an emotion he had yet to identify and admit to.
Years of fighting took over and Marcus rose quickly, he wiped his sleeve across his bloodied nose and laughed, then lunged at the teenager, he had yet to see Jasper, who had circled behind him. Marcus’ fist landed in Edward’s stomach, knocking the breath from him, as he doubled over from the blow, Marcus brought his knee up, striking Edward square in the face. Jasper landed on Marcus’ back as Edward hit the floor, and the sound of hooves alerted them to Dr. Cullen arrival.
Enraged he flung himself from the moving horse and straight on top of Marcus and Jasper, knocking them both to the ground. He too was driven by strong primal emotions, he was usually a peaceful and gentle soul, but today he was motivated by the need to protect his boys and Bella, coupled with the fact he had recognised pure evil when he’d seen Marcus that day in the market.
Coughing and spluttering blood, Edward stumbled across to Bella, who was still exposed and tied to the caravan wheel; he tried not to react as he moved her torn clothing across her body, covering her bitten flesh. He could feel the energy radiate from her close contact, he swallowed with difficulty, and then fumbled to untie her bindings. He grimaced when he saw Bella’s wrists, they were raw and bloody from where she had struggled to free herself, and even as he released her, she pulled at them in an attempt to get to her uncle, he could see the fury and the rage that burned in her eyes and yet she was still the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.
Edward struggled to restrain her from joining the fight, but she was quick and managed to wriggle from his grip, arriving at the three struggling men that were still on the floor; when Marcus pulled a knife from his boot, Dr. Cullen and Jasper backed off quickly, leaving Marcus alone and laughing hysterically on the ground, blood and spittle spraying from his mouth.
“Looks like the fight’s mine boys,” he jeered at them, the four of them just glared back at him, “Now, if you’ll just let me have what’s mine, I’ll be on my way,” he gestured the knife in his niece’s direction.
Before she knew what had happened, Edward had pushed Bella behind him in a protective stance, and Dr. Cullen and Jasper were standing either side of him, protecting her with their bodies, she felt a wave of gratitude towards these brave men, who were really, still strangers to her.
“Over my dead body,” Edward hissed.
Marcus laughed, “You can keep the little whore; I don’t know where she’s been,” he waved the knife around as he spoke.
Edward growled and lunged forward, Jasper and Dr. Cullen weren’t quick enough to prevent him, Marcus danced forwards with his blade; he would like nothing more than to stick it in this boy, the one who clearly stood between him and Bella. Marcus noticed briefly she’d gone, but his attention was back again, as the three men slowly approached him, circling round.
Bella was overcome with gratitude that these three men were risking their lives to protect her. She’d seen her chance when they were all distracted, and she wasn’t going to allow these saviours to be hurt on account of her, she wasn’t anyone important.
There were trees to her left, she could disappear into them and come up behind her uncle, then maybe distract him long enough for one of the others to get the knife.
“She has the sweetest, tightest cunt ever,” she heard him goading Edward, she could see he wasn’t reacting very well, he was so handsome even in a rage, “You want some? We could share.” Marcus continued, again, directing it straight at Edward.
Bella could see his body shaking now, even Jasper and his father kept glancing sideways with concern, whispering for him to ignore his comments, but he was so close to losing it, and then Marcus would have what he wanted.
She couldn’t have that; so, quietly, Bella picked up a thick branch at her feet, took a deep breath, ‘please forgive me,’ she prayed looking towards heaven, then she stepped out from behind the tree, and swung it hard at her uncle’s head.
They all heard the sickening crunch as the wood made contact, the force made his body crumple forwards and he fell to the ground impaling himself on his own knife, no-one knows which one was the fatal blow, Bella hoped it was hers.
All three men gasped in unison, but it was Edward who ran forwards to catch her as she collapsed, the adrenaline that kept her standing had burned up and she felt her bones and muscles turn to jelly.
She felt safe and comfortable in his strong arms, and just before she lost consciousness, he heard her whisper, “Thank you.”
“I’ll take her home,” Edward said as he walked passed them, he liked the way she fit into his arms, Bella’s head rest in the crook of his neck and her breath fluttered against his skin.
He refused all offers of help from Jasper and his father, he wouldn’t get on his horse because that would mean letting go of her, and the journey would be over too quickly.
“It would wake her up,” it was a poor excuse; he just wanted to hold her, for as long as possible.
Confused by his behaviour, Jasper and his father finally gave up trying to help and left him, to prepare a room for her and put Emmett and Alice out of their misery.
Edward was aware he kept burying his nose into her hair and breathing deep, she smelled fresh and sweet, like cut grass and flowers; she made him smile as she made little murmurs and sighs in her sleep. His heart warmed as she snuggled deeper into his neck, it nearly stopped when her lips brushed his overheated skin, the exquisite sensation spread like wildfire through his whole body.
He stopped just for a moment, in minutes, he would be home, he wanted just a little longer to be alone with her, this was wrong, so very wrong, she couldn’t be the woman for him, but she felt so very right, especially here in his arms, he kissed the top of her head, “Oh Bella,” he whispered with an ache in his heart; “What am I going to do?”
He looked down at her, she looked so innocent sleeping in his arms, she emitted a soft sigh and her lips parted, her perfect pink lips; he bent his head towards his sleeping beauty and very gently pressed his mouth to hers.
Like all small villages throughout England, Stow thrived on gossip, the whole village buzzed with news of the attack and subsequent death of the Traveller, Marcus. The events of that day were told and retold over and over until they were no longer a true reflection of what actually happened. But, the folks of Stow didn’t really care and chose to believe the version they liked best. It kept them entertained for almost two weeks until the next salacious piece of gossip came along.
The local magistrate investigated the incident and was happy with the chain of events as retold by Dr. Cullen, who was a close personal friend and a highly respected member of the community.
They saw no need to press any charges against Bella, who was seen as a heroine protecting herself, and the Cullen men, from a knife wielding lunatic.
Lauren, the unfortunate prostitute, was lucky enough to survive her horrific attack at the hands of Marcus, she came forward, battered and bruised, adding her story and influencing the police’s decision not to pursue the case any further; it seemed that Bella had done the community a favour.
Emmett cried openly with relief and gratitude when Dr. Cullen returned with news of the day’s events and his sister’s safe return. He neglected to say she was in the arms of his son, who, for some reason, was refusing to be parted from her at the moment; he thought that information would not be conducive to Emmett’s recovery.
“Can I see her?” Emmett strained to get out of bed; he was a strong man, who was healing quickly, by the morning he would be able to move without assistance.
“She has suffered a great trauma and I really do need to tend to her injuries,” Dr. Cullen regretted the words as soon as they left his mouth.
“Injuries,” Emmett cried out in distress, almost propelling himself from the bed.
“Carlisle,” Rosalie chastised, it had taken her hours to settle Emmett and keep him calm. She’d not left his side all day, only to fetch him food and water and attend to her personal needs.
Emmett hadn’t been in the mood to converse with her, so she read to him for a while from the newspaper; he found her voice to be soothing. When she finished reading, Rosalie spoke about her life, the grief she felt at losing her beloved father, Emmett could sympathise with her and as her eyes filled with tears, he quietly reached out and took her hand. She hadn’t wanted to come and live with Carlisle and Esme, although she loved them both very much, she had missed her home and friends.
She didn’t care very much for Edward; he was far too opinionated for her liking and thought too highly of himself.
“He’s gone to get Bella,” Emmett frowned, his first impression of him was favourable, he’d liked him immediately.
Rosalie patted his hand, “He will bring her back; he usually gets what he wants.”
After that she was careful and kept to less taxing subjects, not wishing to upset Emmett and continued with the more trivial parts of her life, the distraction worked and Emmett was highly educated on the subject of Rosalie.
She hushed and calmed him, cajoling him until he was resting back against the pillows; his eyes were filled with tears of emotional and physical pain.
“Sorry,” Dr. Cullen mouthed and frowned in her direction, he closed his eyes, fatigue was creeping up on him, he wouldn’t normally let something slip that would hinder a patient’s recovery.
“I need to see,” he groaned in Rosalie’s direction, she quickly took his hand and hushed him, Dr. Cullen watched in fascination as the huge man responded and settled under the attention and affection of his niece.
“She’s exhausted, her injuries are minor scratches and bruises; it seems she hid in some brambles to get away from him, she really does need to rest.” Dr. Cullen added apologetically.
Emmett still didn’t seem satisfied,
“She is a remarkable young woman, Emmett, she fought all the way and, if it hadn’t been for her, my son, I,” Dr. Cullen clutched at his chest, “or Jasper may have been seriously injured or worse. Please trust me to take care of her tonight,” he implored, reaching out to touch his arm.
Emmett could see the kindness in the man and relented, he felt so tired, exhaustion swept across his body in a wave, they were safe now, she was safe with people who cared and he could trust.
Emmett closed his eyes, sighed and nodded. He allowed his body to relax, it was the first time all day, his limbs felt heavy as the bed seemed to envelop him; it was extremely soft and warm, unlike anything he’d ever experienced, he had been too anxious to notice before, sleep would take him soon.
His angel, Rosalie, stayed close holding his hand.
“I’ll stay,” she whispered softly, Dr. Cullen had gone to check on Bella, as promised.
“You must be tired,” Emmett yawned.
She nodded and spoke, “Thank you.”
“What for?” Emmett frowned in confusion.
“It’s because of me that you’re here,” Rosalie answered, gesturing with a wave of her hand along his body.
Emmett smiled at her, Rosalie’s heart skipped a beat, his blue eyes sparkled mischievously, giving his face a rather boyish look, “Anytime,” he replied.
“Go to sleep,” she said firmly, and then, in an act quite unlike her, she leaned across and tenderly kissed his bruised face.
Everyone had tried to remove Bella from Edward’s arms, Mr Clearwater, Seth, and even Jasper had tried again to no avail.
“You must have walked a mile, you must be tired,” they said with concern.
Each time Edward flatly refused and turned away from them, he tightened his grip on her, and she responded by sighing contently, still deep in her exhausted slumber.
Esme frowned at the unusual behaviour her son was displaying, this was unlike Edward. Alice had always been the quirky, eccentric one that got attached to all manner of creatures. Orphaned chicks and ducklings being her favourites, every summer for as long as they could remember, she would come home with something that had lost its mother, and she took on the job of raising it as if it were her own. There had been some concerns that she had been stealing the babies from their nests, in order to have something to care for, she promised on the Holy Bible that she hadn’t, and that God knew she would take care of them.
Her parents hadn’t the heart to inform their daughter that, half of the time, the unfortunate creatures perished during the night. She would wake the next morning and be led to believe that it had left in the night to join its own kind, there would be a few tears, but then she would be fine and the following summer, the cycle would start all over again.
This year, Jasper had arrived and Esme hoped he would be the one she would care for from now on.
She smiled wryly at Edward, seems like he’s found something to care for, he had always been careful with his heart, when he found someone, she knew that she would be the one.
But Esme wasn’t sure how she felt about it being a gypsy girl.
Esme had watched Edward’s return from her window, she had seen how he looked with affection at the girl cradled in his arms. Her own heart had melted at the sight, as they got closer, she had realised they looked so right together, she had always been a firm believer in a mother’s instinct and everything about this girl was right for her son, it was like they were made for each other and she had yet to see any interaction between them.
She held her breath as he stopped and kissed her, a range of feelings briefly flitted through her, leaving her confused; joy, that he’d found someone, annoyance at him for kissing a sleeping girl, distaste, due to the girl’s heritage, and then shame at herself for thinking the latter.
Esme rubbed her hand across her forehead; she could feel a headache coming on and she had a feeling it was going to get a lot worse before it got any better.
They all watched as he gently laid her on the bed, he refused to leave the room as his mother and Mrs Clearwater stripped her of her dirty and bloodied garments and placed her in a clean nightie that belonged to Alice.
“I need to see if she has any, other, injuries,” his face was grim.
No one dared argue back, they were relieved to discover no injuries, other than the ones Edward knew of, Esme and Mrs Clearwater, however, were horrified at her bruises and cuts, and Esme stifled a sob and left the room, to calm down when she saw the bite mark on Bella’s breast.
“Oh, the poor girl,” Mrs Clearwater uttered.
Edward gazed upon Bella’s face, she was whimpering and frowning in her sleep, he longed to smooth the ‘v’ from between her eyebrows, to chase away the worry that tormented her as she slept, ‘what was she dreaming of?’ He felt the rage rise inside his chest as he thought of what could have happened to this exquisite creature, he took a deep breath to calm himself and gently cleaned and covered the wound.
“Let her sleep now, son,” Esme put her arm around his shoulders, “You did well today.”
Edward smiled up at his mother.
“Walk with me,” she said, holding out her hand, it wasn’t a request he could deny, wordlessly, he took it, looking once more at Bella before he left the room.
She led him out into the garden, the estate was so peaceful at twilight, the birds were performing one final song before nightfall and sweet smelling perfume of the climbing plants hung heavy in the mild autumn air.
“You have feelings for her, don’t you?” His mother stopped and turned to look at him.
Edward frowned but didn’t answer, he looked anywhere but at his mother, his silence told her everything.
He nodded, why did he feel like he should be ashamed?
“A fool could see how you feel for her, Edward.”
“I don’t know her, how can it be?” He asked.
“Sometimes it’s just meant to be,” she said, softly touching his cheek, he looked so sad and vulnerable.
“I don’t know what to do,” Edward sighed, his shoulders slumped in defeat.
“Do you have to do anything?” Esme questioned.
“I feel her when she’s near me, I long to be close to her, protect her. I can’t stay here and do nothing,” he replied.
She closed her eyes and couldn’t believe what was coming out of her mouth next, she had to believe it was for his benefit and not her own, “Then don’t stay.”
Edward frowned at his mother, was she seriously suggesting he left?
“You were thinking of going away to study medicine in the New Year, go early, put some distance between you and the girl.”
“Run away,” he said cocking his eyebrow at his mother.
“Self-preservation dear,” she scolded gently, “It would benefit both of you.”
“I don’t know,” he said, shaking his head.
“She’s uneducated, unrefined, she’s broken, Edward, she can’t talk, who knows what’s happened in her past, she needs time to heal, not fall in love.”
His heart leapt at the word, ‘love,’ could she love him? He wondered.
‘She can’t talk?’ He thought. “She spoke to me,” he said with a frown. Esme ignored his words; she was too busy thinking of her next carefully chosen words.
“You inhabit two totally different worlds, sweetheart, she is lovely, but can you see yourself with someone like her?” Esme pressed harder, she could see him crumbling and she’d convinced herself it was for his own good. “You have your family to think of and the Cullen name to uphold.”
Edward shook his head and gripped the bridge of his nose, he hated that she was making sense to him, playing on his insecurities.
“She is vulnerable and hurting right now, liable to make strong emotional attachments, if those attachments were to be broken...” Esme left the sentence unfinished, leaving Edward to think about the consequences of any rash action on his part, his mother was right, they didn’t belong in each other’s worlds; he needed to leave right away.
“Peter and Charlotte have room, they could take you early and he’s an excellent doctor, he trained with your father, you know.” Esme took her son by the arm and they began walking back to the house, she had sensed the change in his direction and felt the relief flood her body, followed closely by an emotion she could easily repress, shame. ‘It was for his own good and Bella’s,’ she thought.
With a heavy heart, Edward left for his rooms with the intention to pack; he would leave at first light.
Peter, Dr. North, was an excellent teacher and a dear family friend, he would mentor him through his medical training, Charlotte, his wife, had been unable to have children and would welcome him with open arms and care for him as though he was one of her own.
Before Bella stumbled into his life, he was greatly looking forward to spending time with the North’s, perhaps he would feel differently when there was distance between them, he needed to forget her and concentrate on becoming a doctor.
Bella dreamed of strong arms and gentle lips upon her own, a sad, velvet voice whispered in her ear, “You are so beautiful.”
Fingers softly caressed her hair.
“I have to leave, it’s best for the both of us.”
‘No,’ she tried to say.
“Another place, another time, things could have been so different for us, but I’m just not strong enough to fight for us.”
‘Please don’t go,’ she struggled, her eyes fighting to open.
“Please forgive me.”
“No,” she replied, so quietly, cool hands stroked her brow and low humming lulled her back to sleep; she lost the fight, when she awoke, he was gone.
Thanks to my beta's RAH07890 & js18
more of my stories are on FF.net and TWCS
Warning next few chapters will get a bit angsty.
Beta'd by js18 & RAH07890
“Bella,” Emmett’s voice cracked with emotion, Rosalie and Esme turned and wiped tears that escaped, with corners of lace handkerchiefs, Alice cried unashamedly, Jasper pulled her into his embrace which she accepted readily. Dr. Cullen raised an eyebrow at his youngest and her suitor, it was time to talk to the pair of them, he sensed their relationship was moving along at a faster pace than they expected.
Dora, Jasper’s mother, was in favour of the union, which would unite the families forever, she grieved so terribly for her soul mate; just breathing was a chore these days. Caius would have been overjoyed at the thought of their children marrying, even though they always thought it was going to be Rosalie and Edward.
Dr. Cullen ushered everyone from Bella’s little room, to allow brother and sister some precious time together, without the whole family observing.
“Mrs Clearwater, we will take tea on the porch,” he instructed.
Esme led everyone outside, it was such a beautiful sunny morning and tea with the family would offer an opportune moment to inform everyone of Edward’s departure, it wouldn’t be long before he would be missed, she thought.
Right on cue, “Where is Edward?” Alice exclaimed.
“He left early this morning,” Esme purposely kept her eyes away from her husband, “We talked last night, he was eager to start his medical training.”
Everyone looked with open mouths at Esme, who shifted uncomfortably, betraying herself to her husband, who knew her so well; he immediately knew there was more to the story than she was saying.
Alice narrowed her eyes at her mother, she knew there was more to tell, but she also knew she probably wouldn’t be able to get it from her; she needed to talk to Edward, before anything else was said, she was already making plans in her head, to go to speak with him.
Mrs Clearwater appeared with the tray of tea, aware of the fact the air was thick with tension, and unsaid words, she also knew it was connected to the sudden departure of young Mr. Cullen and the arrival of the Swan siblings.
There was talk beneath the stairs, the growing connection between Emmett and Rosalie had been eclipsed by the obvious attraction between Edward and the beautiful gypsy, Bella, everyone had seen the way he gazed lovingly at her and held her protectively against his chest. He’d almost growled at Mr Clearwater and Seth when they tried to help by taking Bella from his arms.
Mrs Clearwater was amazed at the loving and gentle way he’d attended her, the reverent way he spoke and caressed her, and she had also seen the way his mother had looked, barely covering the anxiety that radiated from her, she knew Mrs Cullen was one of the reasons her son was not here this morning.
Mrs Clearwater had been with the Cullen’s for over twenty years now, she knew Mrs Cullen was a good and kind woman who wanted the best for her children, and the best was to conform to what was expected, to marry someone of the same class, an equal and, if you were to marry out of your class, then it was to be one higher, not lower than your own.
To be the subject of gossip, ridicule, and prejudice was bad enough for one’s self, but to think of your child going through it was unbearable, Mrs Clearwater knew, she knew because she was aware of her own son’s deepest, darkest desires, as only a mother would, she knew of the pain and hardship that he faced ahead of him in the pursuit of his happiness. The question she asked herself now, what would she do to help her son achieve his happiness?
“I can’t believe he would go without saying goodbye,” Jasper was the one who broke the silence, everyone turned to look at him.
“He wouldn’t,” Alice said curtly, turning to look at her mother.
“Tea anyone?” Esme smiled uncomfortably as her family looked at her in disbelief.
Jasper and Rosalie left quickly, sensing the brewing storm, so they quietly decided it was time to visit with their mother, who was spending most of the time in her rooms.
“I didn’t make him go,” Esme said, a little high pitched in her defence.
“You did suggest it though, didn’t you?” Alice said dryly.
Esme didn’t answer.
“Why?” Carlisle asked.
“He needed a change of scenery,” she snapped.
“Don’t,” Carlisle’s voice was warning; he would not tolerate that kind of tone from his wife.
“It’s because of Bella, isn’t it?” Alice asked.
“Esme,” his tone took on a warning edge.
“He was confused,” she sighed in defeat and sat in the chair.
“About?” Carlisle asked, trying to keep his voice at an acceptable level.
“He does have feelings for Bella; I just suggested some distance, a distraction, neither one of them is ready for a relationship. Look at her, Carlisle, she’s broken, poor, and in need of love, and Edward, he needs to protect and love.” Esme shifted in her chair to face her husband, who was listening intently to her. “You should have seen how they looked together Carlisle, the way he looked at her; the whole world disappeared for him; it was just her.”
Carlisle nodded, he remembered Edward’s response to the situation in the woods, now he realised Edward would have died to protect Bella, it wasn’t a heat of the moment decision, it went much deeper for him.
Alice was horrified as she sat and listened, “No, you can’t keep them apart because you think it’s for the best, that’s so wrong.”
“We can and we will,” Carlisle voice was low and controlled, he held out his hands to Esme, the breath she was holding, she now exhaled, she visibly relaxed now her husband agreed with her.
“But...” Alice began.
“Go to your room, this discussion is over,” he said.
“I...” She tried again.
“ROOM, NOW, ALICE!” Carlisle rarely shouted at his wife and children, he was so fed up with not been listen to, it was time to assert his authority; he was the man in this house.
Esme flinched at the sound of her extremely angry husband and Alice immediately stomped off in tears.
“We will do this your way, Esme, but I’m not happy with the way you have handled this.”
“I only...” She interrupted.
“Do not interrupt me,” he said quietly, “if Edward chooses to come back for Bella, you will not stand in his way, do you understand me?”
She nodded, blinking back the tears that stung her eyes.
“Have you forgotten where we started from?” Carlisle paused a moment then left his wife sitting alone on the patio; hopefully she would see the error of her ways. He was hurt Edward had left without speaking to him.
Esme sniffed and composed herself, she didn’t want to remember her beginnings, they were poor and cold and dirty, she didn’t want to waste another thought on them, but she felt some degree of satisfaction that Carlisle wasn’t on his way to London to fetch Edward back.
Edward had three months to purge his system and rid himself of his captivation for Bella, when he came home for Christmas, Esme felt sure there would be nothing to worry about; his silly, little infatuation would have passed.
Alice watched and waited in the shadows, she was so angry with her parents at the moment, she could spit how dare they interfere and try to control, someone else’s love life, like they had all the answers.
Unaware of the altercations that had just taken place, Jasper left his mother’s rooms alone, Alice was grateful, that, for once today, something was going her way. He would have to pass her way to the main staircase, she grabbed his collar and dragged him backwards in to her room closing the door before he could register what had happened.
“Alice,” he choked, pulling on his collar in surprise, she was frighteningly strong for someone so small.
“Shhh,” she hissed putting her finger to her lips, waiting with her ear to the wooden door to see if she’d been heard, her father would be livid if he knew she had Jasper in her room.
“What are you doing?” He whispered, still a little shocked.
“Taking control of my life,” she replied, he heard the clunk of the metal key in the lock, she turned to face him.
Jasper’s eyes widened and he gulped loudly, he was also aware of the stirring he felt below the waist. He shook his head and walked backwards away from the approach of Alice.
“We can’t be here, alone,” he said.
“This is about us, not them,” she approached him, slowly unbuttoning her blouse.
“We’ll get married,” he implored.
“I know,” she whispered, nodding her head.
“We’ll wait then?” He said half-heartedly, she was still approaching him, with a look of determination and desire on her face, he could feel his will crumbling, if she touched him, he would be lost.
She shook her head.
‘Fuck, fuck, fuck,’ he chanted internally.
“I need you now,” she said, stopping her approach, her eyes were filling with tears, there was so much emotion in those four words, they pierced his heart. His body moved without consent, he lost his struggle, crossed the room in a few strides and pulled her into his strong embrace.
“Oh Jasper,” she breathed into the passionate kiss. “Make love to me, make me a woman.”
Clothes were removed slowly, gently, exposing their bodies for the other to gaze upon in awe and wonder, this was the first intimate experience for the both of them.
“I’m not experienced,” he said nervously, they stood naked and vulnerable facing each other, his erection straining, aching to be closer to her.
“Neither am I,” she replied, reaching out to hold his face with both her hands, she pulled him close, “We’ll learn together,” she said before she kissed his soft full lips.
He groaned as their mouths made contact, and his erection became trapped between their warm bare bodies, his hands roamed across her skin, making goosebumps break out in their wake; Alice pressed herself closer into him, enjoying the feel of his manly hardness against her stomach.
She gasped softly; as he kissed the sensitive skin of her neck and she shivered in delight as his mouth made contact with the puckered hard flesh of her nipple. Heat flashed across her body, radiating down between her legs, the pleasure was so intense; she felt herself become wetter.
“Your first time, it will be painful,” he warned, looking into her eyes seriously, he saw nothing but love and trust reflected back, she made his heart swell. “Are you sure?”
Alice looked down at his huge member with fascination and fear, but, for her, there was no going back, she reached and stroked along his length, it was the first time she touched him, she delighted when she saw him quiver and his eyes close in pleasure.
“I want you to be my first and only lover,” she answered.
Jasper nodded and walked her backwards until her legs hit the bed, Alice’s heart leapt beneath her breast and began to thrash wildly; he lowered her body to the bed, all the time keeping eye contact.
“I love you,” he whispered, parting her legs at her knees until the petals of her sex were open for him to see, he longed to examine her further, it would have to wait for another time, he could see her anxiety rising and he felt as though he were about to burst in building excitement. “You have to be so quiet for me, ok?”
Alice braced herself, breathed deep and reached up to hold onto his wide shoulders, “Ok.”
Jasper smiled at Alice’s squirm of pleasure, as he ran his fingers through her fleshy folds, inserting a finger inside her slit before lining his penis at her entrance, he nudged forward invading her tight hot hole, he could feel Alice’s body trembling beneath him and he was aware she was holding her breath.
“Oh God.” He gritted his teeth and pushed harder, forcing him-self through her maidenhead, Alice sucked in a long, deep breath, Jasper held quite still, letting her acclimatise to his invasion. His muscles ached at keeping his body positioned above hers and the sensation of having his cock inside a woman was like nothing he could have imagined, so hot, tight, and wet, his body trembled with desire and primal urges deep inside of him ignited and instructed his body what to do. He held still just a moment longer, he could feel Alice begin to relax around him, he wanted her to gain some pleasure, if that were possible from their first time.
She opened her eyes to look straight into his, she could see the conflicting emotions of worry and lust, that’s why she loved him; he truly cared for her and wanted, above all, for her to be happy.
“I love you,” she said softly and pulled his head towards her, Alice enjoyed the weight of her man on top of her, his skin touching hers, the feeling of his hard muscle inside her as he made a woman of her, uniting them in a sacred act. Their mouths met and tongues touched erotically for the first time, he began to rock his hips, sliding himself slowly in and out of her, there was pain and pleasure in equal measure and she began to see the potential for joy in their future encounters.
“I have to pull out now,” Jasper groaned and hovering over again, she watched as he frantically withdrew himself and took his erection in his fist and began to pump furiously. It thrilled her to see him, lose himself completely in such an intimate act, his face contorted and twisted in pleasure and he uttered her name as he ejaculated all over the creamy flesh of her belly.
“Oh Jasper, that was lovely,” she declared, feeling the twist of desire at her own sex.
He managed to open his eyes and smiled down at her before he collapsed to the side of her.
“I’m a woman now,” she beamed proudly.
“You’ve always been a woman to me,” he said drawing lazy patterns over her breasts; he liked to see her shudder and her nipples peak.
“Show me how you pleasure yourself.”
Alice turned to look at him in surprise.
“Please, then I can do it next time.”
Alice liked that idea, she wasn’t sure if she could successfully bring herself to orgasm, as she was feeling a little sore, but she could show him how she did it, “Ok.”
She ran her fingers down her body coating her fingers in his emissions, which were still on her belly, and closed her eyes, Jasper sat up so he could have a better view, the thought of him watching, made her stomach clench with excitement and she felt heat and tingles of excitement flood her groin area.
“You’re so beautiful,” his fingers caressed the inside of her thigh, as two of her fingers made contact with her swollen clitoris.
Alice hissed; she was already so sensitive to the touch.
Jasper watched as she circled the tiny protruding nub that crowned her sex, he was well read and educated; he had made sure to include various educational books on sex and pleasuring a woman into his regular reading habits.
He watched with growing fascination and arousal, as Alice’s fingers worked faster, her breathing quickened, out of curiosity he slipped two fingers gently inside of her. Her body arched and tensed, Alice’s mouth opened in a silent scream, he could feel the muscles spasm and quiver around his fingers, a groan left his mouth.
“Next time, you shall cum at my ministrations, my love.”
Alice grinned in her post-orgasmic haze, she approved of that idea.
Peter and Charlotte had been hospitable and courteous hosts, taking Edward in earlier than agreed without an explanation, they hadn’t pried or pushed for one, but they could see and sense that something was not right with their lodger, Edward Cullen. He was generally quiet and a polite young man, one who enjoyed solitude, and the quieter pursuits that life had to offer.
He had arrived a little over two weeks ago and was clearly unhappy to be here, he went through the motions of living, clearly distracted; he worked, ate and slept, studied, and spoke only when spoken to, the rest of the time, he seemed to be somewhere else, a million miles away, the furrow seemed to be permanently etched into his brow
“Edward, dear, please tell me what’s the matter,” Charlotte beseeched; she had finally had enough, it grieved her to see him so unhappy.
He’d been gazing wordlessly, for the last twenty minutes, through the French windows onto the streets of London; he was lost in the hustle and bustle of people carrying on with their daily routine.
“Is it a girl?”
Edward felt his heart lurch into his throat at her uncanny ability of getting straight to the heart of his problem, although his face showed no sign of his emotional unrest, he would’ve made an excellent poker player, as Bella was forced to the front of his mind, but she was always there in his peripheral memory.
“I’m sorry, Charlotte, you must find me terribly trying at the moment, but I promise this...” He dragged his fingers through his hair, leaving his bronze mane in tumble of disarray, “...thing that’s getting me down will pass.”
She longed to stroke his wayward hair flat, but she knew it wouldn’t help, his hair had a mind of its own, it always had, ever since he was a child. Charlotte wasn’t convinced he believed the words as he spoke them; she smiled sadly and wished he would open up to her, but she wasn’t going to push him, he would talk, if and when, he needed to.
She nodded once and kissed the top of his head, then left him staring through the study window. He may not have betrayed himself emotionally, but Charlotte knew that it was indeed a woman who was making him act so out of character, and she was pretty sure he was in love.
What can be so bad about being in love? She thought as she left to write to his parents, maybe they could help.
Leaving her had been the hardest thing Edward had ever done in his life, he sat all night in the dimly lit room and watched her sleep. Justifying in his own mind he would never see her again, so he would feast his eyes on her beauty until the dawn broke and he forced himself to leave.
The memory of her porcelain, heart shaped face would be with him forever, her chestnut hair fanned around her head like a halo, she was angelic, ethereal in her beauty. Her pale pink lips were parted and she sighed softly as she slept, these would be the memories he would lock into his heart for eternity, because she was not meant to belong to him, he would never again feel her pressed against his chest, or her arms around his neck or her soft lips upon his.
He absentmindedly touched his mouth with his fingers, his mind and body ached, grieved for her, he closed his eyes tight and pinched the bridge of his nose, he needed to be strong and get on with his life, he would force himself through the motions, until such a time where he could forget about her.
He had said goodbye to her, it was the right decision for the both of them, his mother had helped him reach that conclusion, and he had agreed. Why didn’t it feel right?
If attitudes had been different, if his attitude was different, he wouldn’t have thought twice about courting Bella. Shame flooded his body, he hated the feeling; he had discovered something he despised about himself.
He wasn’t strong enough to stay and fight, he’d told her so; she deserved someone so much better than him, someone of the same social class as her.
He stood quickly, causing the chair to tip back onto the carpet, he paced the room impatiently, not wanting to think of her with someone else, suddenly his mind was jumble of contradictions, he couldn’t be with her, she deserved to be with someone who could love her freely, without fear of retaliation and reprisal, that thought had him bristling with anger and jealousy.
He’d asked for her forgiveness and she had refused as she struggled with consciousness, it had been no more than he deserved, but she had spoken to him, a very clear, ‘No,’ he had brushed that off, his mother must have been mistaken, perhaps Bella just hadn’t spoken to them yet.
He needed a distraction, something to take his mind off Bella Swan.
Mike and Ben, his fellow medical students at the London Royal Hospital, had asked on more than one occasion for him to join them on an evening out, he made the decision to get on with his life, tonight, he decided, he would join them for a drink.
“My friend, it is good to see you,” Mike stood to grasp Edward’s hand enthusiastically with both of his clammy hands, it made him feel uncomfortable and just a little bit dirty, he wiped his hand along his trousers when Mike looked away to order him a drink from the bar.
“It’s good you joined us Edward,” Ben smiled, “Sit,” he pushed a stool smoothly towards him with his foot. “We thought you had turned into a monk.”
Edward smirked, it was the closest thing to a smile he done in weeks, he enjoyed Ben’s company, he was naturally funny, intelligent, and didn’t try hard to impress him, unlike Mike, who stumbled around fawning and trying to impress him at every opportunity. They were a strange combination of friends, polar opposites, and now he had chance to see it close up. He was intrigued to find out why they were together.
Mike was smartly dressed, obviously wealthy, his clothes were immaculately tailored and of fine cloth, he was blonde with blue eyes, and was of slight build and reasonably handsome, but he lacked the social graces in the company of gentlewomen and, therefore, resorted to buying the company of less reputable ladies. There was an air of desperation about Mike, he needed, he wanted, he was clingy; it turned most people off wanting to be around him.
Ben, on the other hand, seemed to be his opposite with dark hair and smouldering brown eyes, and physically larger and muscular built, there was an air of confidence around him, he was happy with who he was, friendly, talkative, and he would never resort to paying for his time with a woman, not that he needed to. His friendly disposition, confidence and larking attitude brought them willingly to his bed.
He wasn’t as well dressed as Mike, his clothing, while still of fine cloth, showed signs of age and wear, he was by no means on the breadline, but, unlike his friend, his family worked hard to support him through his studies, but there had been huge cost cutting along the way.
Mike handed him his pint, “Cheers,” Edward lifted his glass to his fellow students in a friendly gesture, perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad, he thought, both had gone out of their way to make him feel comfortable and welcome. He felt himself relax and the tension left his neck and shoulders.
The night wore on, Edward learned alot about his two new friends, the conversation and drinks flowed, Mike wouldn’t hear of Edward buying a round, he noticed that Ben didn’t even try to put his hand in his pocket.
The more alcohol he consumed, Edward realised, the less he thought about Bella.
The serving girl was very interested in their party, she made several unneeded trips to their table, smiling and laughing coyly, her attention was directed towards Edward, who was still naive and hadn’t noticed her attentiveness, Mike and Ben observed with interest and lewd remarks.
“She is offering you more than a drink Edward,” Ben leered, after the girl made yet another pass by the table, stopping to make conversation with the handsome young man with the bronze hair and the breathtakingly crooked smile.
Edward began to enjoy the attention.
“She is?” He chuckled and looked up to catch the eye of the buxom blonde girl, she winked and licked her full red lips suggestively, as she bent forward to pick up the used tankards from the table, giving Edward a good look at her full, ripe breasts, which spilled forth from the loose cotton restraint of her blouse.
She wasn’t a brunette with brown eyes, her figure was fuller, she was wanton and offering herself to him, she would help him forget her, he needed to forget her; at least for a time.
Fuck it, he thought. “What’s your name?” Grabbing her by the wrist and pulling her so close their mouths were nearly touching.
“Kate, sir,” she answered.
Edward slurred, “Kiss-ss me, Kate.”
Mike and Ben whooped and jeered as the two embraced brazenly in front of them, the combination of the kiss and alcohol was such a hedonistic experience, warmth and pleasure spread throughout his groin; he enjoyed the kiss and the human contact.
“I have a room around the corner,” she whispered into his ear.
Edward naively opened his mouth without thinking, “What about my friends-ssh?”
Ben nodded his approval and grinned, Mike froze in shock.
“Cheeky,” Kate purred, “Very well,” she answered, looking at Ben and Mike, it wasn’t her first experience of multiple lovers, Edward was certainly worth it, she liked her boys pure and pretty, Ben was masculine looking and attractive, she could see he was experienced, but the other one, well, it looked like it would be over quickly, she would be able to see to that.
Alcohol had given Edward the bravado he needed to follow her; he could barely believe his first venture into sex would be accompanied by two friends. They were as drunk as each other; he was sure that if he was to embarrass himself in any way they would have trouble recollecting it the following morning.
Kate took the lead and her main focus of attention was towards Edward, she pulled his mouth towards hers and kissed him, using her tongue, she parted his lips to delve deep into him, swirling erotically around his own.
His response was quick and instinctual; she was pleased with the how quickly he picked up these oral skills and was excited to see how he would fair with what else she had planned for him.
Edward enjoyed the kiss, Kate was very good and his body had begun to respond fleetingly, but he could feel something holding him back, he tried to ignore it and he grasped Kate’s face kissing her harder.
Ben worked at removing Kate’s clothing while she kept Edward lip locked; her hands were otherwise occupied in removing Edward’s clothing.
He did nothing to stop her, his body ached to respond and his mind willed his body to respond, his heart refused.
Once Ben had disposed of his own attire, he pressed his firm muscular body against Kate’s soft, voluptuous frame, rubbing his huge, hard penis between the soft cheeks of her buttocks. She responded by rocking back against his manhood, he groaned and lifted the wayward curls, from her elegant neck and began kissing her milky white flesh.
Moans and groans of pleasure filled the small room.
Kate’s arousal escalated as she felt herself become trapped between two splendid specimens of man, one, who was experienced and one, who was a virgin, she particularly enjoyed virgins.
Mike was all but forgotten as he slumped in the corner of the room, in an alcohol fuelled haze, he watched as the beautiful ones, touched, caressed and moaned against each other. He was left alone, as he usually was.
Kate moved from between the two bodies and laid herself upon the mattress with her legs wide, exposing her enflamed sex, both men stood before her as she stroked down her body, starting at her neck, her skin erupted in goosebumps as she circled her breasts, nipping her rosy nipples in turn.
“Touch yourselves;” she commanded.
Ben, Edward and Mike took their cocks in hand and began to pump and watch, enraptured as she moved closer to her wet, pink centre, her eyes closed in delight as she dragged her fingers in a feather light touch against her sensitive flesh. She liked men to watch her, it made her feel powerful, in-control.
Ben could no longer control himself and moved forwards to taste her, losing him-self in her sweet, moist folds.
“Fuck yes,” Kate threw her head back and threaded her fingers into the back of his dark hair, pinning him to her pussy.
Edward felt dizzy and sick; the room was starting to spin.
Kate cocked her finger at him and beckoned him to come to her; he did as instructed until he was lying on the bed next to her.
“Sweet boy,” she said huskily, he could see her body tremble and shudder in pleasure under Ben’s expert tongue, her nipples were taut and her breathing was shallow and erratic. “I want you to watch him,” she licked her lips then continued, “because I want to feel your mouth on my pussy too.”
No, his heart screamed, this is so wrong.
Edward’s eyes opened wide, he tried to speak but the words got lost in his throat and he could feel his heart hammering wildly in his chest.
Kate pulled Edward towards her breasts, he tentatively licked each taut little bud in turn, the feeling of the hard flesh on his tongue was not unpleasant, but it wasn’t right.
His half hearted ardour deflated completely as his alcohol-hazed mind cleared.
He could hear the sucking and slurping noises, as Ben lapped at her pussy, he detected the musky scent of her sex in the air. Edward watched Ben use the flat of his tongue to lick up the centre of her pussy, starting at her slit ending at the small knob of desirous flesh, he continued this action over and over, he stopped and used the end of his tongue to seek out and tease her clit. This action made Kate buck her hips and squeal in pleasure.
Edward realised in a panic this was not what he wanted, he needed to get out of here, now.
“Want some?” Ben asked from between Kate’s legs, bringing Edward back from his thoughts.
He seized his chance, “No, no,” he leapt quickly from the bed, looking towards the floor for his clothes, the room was suddenly too small and there was no oxygen, he needed to be outside, he needed air, he needed to go.
“What?” Kate sat up and hissed; men didn’t usually turn her down.
“Never mind him,” Ben spoke, moving up her body, laying her back down, nibbling erotically on her flesh as he went, causing her to giggle and bring her focus back to him.
Edward exited the room in a hurry and still naked, his clothes tucked under his arm, the sound of pounding flesh filled his ears and he tried not to see Mike stroking himself, from the grunts he was making, he was nearing his climax. Bile burned the back of his throat in disgust.
Thankfully, the streets were empty and silent as Edward dressed, he managed to put some distance between himself and them, before he fell to his knees and vomited; he wasn’t sure if it was from excess alcohol or the sordid images from the room he’d just left.
Back in his room, he watched the sky and waited for the sun to rise, and, for the first time in weeks, he felt a peace in his heart and calmness in his mind; that comes with making the right decision.
She barely knew him, and yet, she loved him.
He nearly shot her, fate.
He was rude, he was kind.
He thought she was beneath him, she knew she probably was.
He rescued her; he used his body to protect her.
He held her, she felt safe in his arms.
He kissed her, the thought still made her lips tingle.
He caressed her lovingly; her body ached for his touch.
He told her he was leaving; he wasn’t strong enough to fight for her, her heart broke.
He asked for her forgiveness, which she denied him.
He ran away from her, she would never forgive him for that.
Edward had been gone over two weeks, she was painfully aware of his absence every minute of every day, especially here, in his home, with his family. It might not have been so bad if she had been left where he had found her, where there was nothing to remind her of him, but here, she could sense him, he’d touched the furniture, he walked these floors, sat on the patio in the sunshine, looked through the windows to admire the gardens, there were echoes of Edward everywhere she went.
Bella dragged her fingertips against the various surfaces as she moved through the rooms, caressing the baby grand piano, did he play? She wondered. She ran her fingers down the spines of the books that adorned the shelves, which ones had he read? She tried to imagine how he would look in this room, with a book in his hand or seated by the window.
Bella blinked back the tears that gathered in her eyes, but it was too late, Alice had entered the room and witnessed her pain. Without an exchange of words, she allowed the small, dark haired girl to take her in her arms and soothe her, rocking gently, smoothing her hair, while Bella sobbed into her shoulder.
The pain she felt in her chest was physical in its manifestation, breathing in and out was a daily chore, but she willed herself to continue, she’d suffered her whole life and what didn’t kill you made you stronger, right?
By her estimation, she should be approaching invincible, she thought with a sniff.
“Don’t hate him,” Alice said sadly, handing Bella a small, white handkerchief.
It would have been easier to hate him, she thought.
Bella lay snuggled in the blankets; she thought how much her life had changed in the short time she had been here.
It was almost like a bad dream as she recalled the moment she hit her uncle across the back of his head, it made a sickening thud and his body crumpled, she remembered feeling sick, there was blood, he must have fallen onto his knife.
Her head felt hot and dizzy, then the world tilted and she was falling, it happened so slowly, strong arms caught her, she never hit the floor, his smell was all around her, Edward, she thought, thank you, she must have been dreaming she felt the words leave her mouth. Bella allowed the darkness to take her; she was safe now.
His scent had pervaded her dreams, he was still here, protecting her, watching over her and then, very softly, she had felt his mouth brush hers, her heart had filled with happiness to the point of overflowing, and she felt the sting of hot, happy tears; like a fairy tale, her prince had come to rescue her.
His velvety soft voice spoke again, he thought she was beautiful, but he was leaving.
She tried to scream and reach out to grab him.
The words would not come. Panic followed, her prince was leaving and she was trapped in this twilight world.
She heard him ask for her forgiveness, she would not grant it.
“No,” her voice rang out clear and foreign to her own ears. He stroked her brow and hummed, calming her frantic soul, despite the fury she felt, her body and mind were still exhausted, and they responded to his touch; the darkness prevailed and she fell into a deep sleep.
It was two days before she’d surfaced from her slumber, and Alice was waiting for her.
“Hello Sleeping Beauty,” she said brightly, then, sensitively, she had given her the news of his departure.
Her first few days were hard, painful, she barely moved, even Emmett couldn’t raise a smile from her. Dr. Cullen had assumed her withdrawal was due to the trauma of what she had suffered at the hands of her uncle, she had yet to tell them, his death had given her freedom and returned her voice.
“Give her time,” he told them all, “she’ll come back to us when she is ready.”
Bella began to feel ashamed of herself for wallowing in herself pity, she took the decision to get herself up out of bed and reluctantly get on with her life, if she pretended everything was fine, eventually she would believe the lie.
Edward had left without giving her a chance and that hurt beyond anything she had experienced so far. But, she was still alive and resolved to make the best of what she had left, for her brother and the memory of her dead parents.
She remembered Emmett knocking on the door and entering the little room with a breakfast tray, he had been surprised and delighted to see her sitting on the edge of the bed, she had been wondering where her clothes had gone.
“Bella,” he’d cried, rushing over, putting her food down on the bedside table and pulling her shaky little frame into his arms for a great big hug. “It’s so good to see you up, I was getting so worried.” He’d pulled away from her and was heading for the door, “Dr. Cullen will want to know you’re out of bed.”
“Wait,” Bella said in a little voice, she reached her hand out to him.
Emmett froze by the door, his hand holding onto the doorknob, he turned his face slowly towards her with a look of shock on his face, which soon melted into one of joy.
There seemed to be hours of silence before he said, “Say it again.”
“Wait,” she complied, her voice a little stronger this time, she returned his smile.
“How? When?” He laughed, joyfully approaching his sister, with a look of wonder on his face.
Bella shrugged, “I don’t know, after I hit...” She frowned but didn’t finish her sentence.
“It’s okay,” he said softly, “It’s just so good to hear your voice.”
Bella lifted her face to look into Emmett’s and felt her own emotions swell as she saw the huge tears pooling in his eyes.
“I love you,” she said, flinging herself into his arms, it felt as though she had waited a lifetime to say those words to the brother who had protected, cared, and loved her like a parent for so long.
“I love you, too, dear sister.”
Alice had screamed, Esme had cried, Jasper and Carlisle had grinned from ear to ear at Bella, Rosalie had patted Emmett’s arm affectionately, when Emmett proudly announced to the whole Cullen family that Bella had found her voice.
Although sunlight streamed in through the window, there was a nip in the air. Mrs Clearwater had lit a fire in the grate, when she brought Bella her breakfast of tea and toast with homemade strawberry preserves.
“It’s the first one of the season,” she informed her, as she lit the fire.
Bella smiled cheerfully, sitting up to take her breakfast, “Thank you, Mrs Clearwater.”
She was beginning to feel guilty now and felt more than able to perform her duties, but Dr. Cullen had insisted on another week of rest, at least until the cottage was ready, where she was going to be staying with Emmett.
Dr. Cullen spent time everyday with Bella, giving her exercises to stretch her vocal chords and looking at her throat with a small light. It wasn’t all for her benefit, he wrote up his findings in his journal, she had become a welcome distraction, it was good for him to keep busy; his thoughts recently, were of his son.
He was trying his hardest to be patient, giving him time to sort himself out, but he missed his company, and was hurt that he had not written since his departure. Peter and Charlotte had written to him and Esme, they were both concerned; Edward was, apparently, ‘out of sorts,’ he was so distracted and going through the motions of living.
Esme was grieved to hear her son was not happy, she ached to go and comfort him, but Dr. Cullen had forbid her.
“Edward has to make some decisions for himself, we have raised him, guided him this far, and now it’s time for him to be a man and take control of his own life,” it hurt Dr. Cullen to say that to his wife, when all he wanted to do was go and fetch his son back from London.
Dr. Cullen found Bella’s company to be stimulating and entertaining, she was an intelligent and a bewitching young woman, and he could see the huge potential in her.
He was excited about the medical observations he had made with Bella, and spent many evenings writing up his findings in his journal, which he would send to an eminent professor that lived in London. With her permission, he had detailed her life, including the incident which had caused the loss of her voice and the trigger that had returned it.
He had explained to Bella, that, as a child, her mind had reacted to the trauma she had witnessed and it had presented itself in her losing her voice, and then her brain had acted to protect her by making her forget what she had seen. As the threat began to remerge, her brain allowed her to remember and when the threat, Uncle Marcus, was no longer a danger, her voice returned to her.
“The human brain is so intricate,” he spoke enthusiastically, pacing the room and waving his arms around, it was hard not to get swept up in his excitement as he talked.
“It is research like this, which could get me published.”
She smiled and agreed to help as much as she could, patiently doing everything that he asked, she was truly grateful for all that he had done for her and Emmett, and felt that this was the least she could do for him.
Bella had loved living at the main house, and was grateful to all the love and care she had received from everyone, except Leah, for some unknown reason seemed to have taken a real dislike to her.
It would be nice to move into the cottage, she was looking forward to having some quiet time with her brother. It was exhausting being around so many people, especially Alice, who questioned Bella and kept her talking about anything and everything. Although, there had been plenty of people around when she lived with her Romany family, they had kept their distance from Bella and Emmett, due to Marcus, so she could be surrounded by folks and still feel lonely. She could never imagine feeling lonely in the Cullen house.
Emmett was thriving in this new environment, he was working hard, he loved the horses, and they seemed to love him. He had made friends with all of the Cullen’s and the Clearwater’s, Bella laughed at how Seth loved to follow her brother around when he wasn’t working in the vegetable garden or orchard.
Alice and Jasper had taken to going out for a ride with Emmett, when he had the time off, he was an excellent rider and it seemed he and Jasper loved to race, with an occasional little wager on the winner.
Even Mrs Cullen had fallen under Emmett’s charming spell, he was polite and cheerful, always giving her a wave when he passed her in the grounds, he collected and fetched, moved and carried, nothing was too much trouble for him. Due to his immense size, she never had to wait for Mr Clearwater, Seth or her husband, when she wanted a piece of furniture moving, which she did, often. Emmett did it straight away and alone, the latter made him popular with the men.
Bella had noticed the relationship between Rosalie and her brother, even if they had thought they were going to great lengths to be discreet. Alice was aware of it, too, at first, Bella had been worried about her knowing, but Alice was a bit of a romantic and loved the idea of Rosalie and Emmett being together and she was just as desperate for them to continue being discreet, so they could carry on their liaison.
Bella would never have admitted it to anyone, but it had hurt a little that Rosalie had been accepting of Emmett, even though their affair was kept in secret, while Edward had run from his feelings for her. She didn’t let these negative emotions spoil her happiness for Emmett, and she truly hoped they would find a way to be happy together.
Dr. and Mrs Cullen had insisted on Bella joining Alice in her studies while she was still in their house recovering, Alice was overjoyed at the company.
Rosalie joined them sometimes, but she was studious and already well read, she had strong moral, religious, and political views. She could hold her own in any conversation of a current nature and debate fearlessly for her ideals, if she were a man; she would have made an excellent lawyer or a Member of Parliament.
Bella felt pleased that on her first morning of lessons she was able to surprise Mrs Cullen with already being able to read.
“I’m sorry; I assumed you couldn’t read,” Mrs Cullen was gracious enough to admit.
“My dad taught both me and Emmett that reading is a necessity; in fact, all the Romany in our camp could read.”
Mrs Cullen had paled and Alice beamed proudly beside her, Bella felt as though she had just won some big unseen battle.
In the weeks since Edward left, his mother was continually surprised by things that Bella knew, she was well travelled, so her knowledge of places was far superior to her own. She had picked up the history of little towns and villages, frequented many museums, cathedrals, and seen famous landmarks and monuments. Bella and her family were lucky enough to have travelled overseas on more than one occasion, and she and Emmett had knowledge of other cultures, customs, and languages. She could sew, cook, recognise plants that were edible or were useful in medicines; she could ride as well as Emmett and fish and hunt as well as any of the men. The more time Mrs Cullen spent with Bella Swan, the more she realised how wrong she had been about the young woman, she was enchanting, highly intelligent, humble, quick witted, and eager to learn.
Mrs Cullen found herself delighted that all her preconceived ideas were out of date or totally wrong, she knew how lucky they were to have Bella and Emmett in their lives; though, she wasn’t ready just yet, to admit it out loud.
“How are my girls?” Dr. Cullen asked cheerfully, as he appeared in the library, he bent to kiss Esme’s cheek.
“Fine, darling,” she said, stroking his face affectionately.
“Alice?” He asked, planting a kiss on the top her head.
“Good father; and you?” She asked formally, not lifting her face from the book she was reading, she hadn’t forgiven either of her parents yet over their controlling and classist attitude towards Edward and Bella’s perceived relationship.
Her father had also stopped her from writing to him; he didn’t want any more pressure on his shoulders. So, Alice retaliated as best she could, by being distant with her parents and taking Jasper to her bed whenever she had the opportunity, which had been many times.
“Bella?” Dr. Cullen included her, giving her a kiss on the top of her head, just like he did with Alice.
“I’m, erm, I’m good,” she spluttered and blushed scarlet with surprise at the show of affection towards her.
Esme and Alice watched in amusement.
“I’m so sorry,” he laughed, “It’s just, you feel like family, I forgot myself for a moment.”
“Really, it’s ok,” Bella said, still scarlet, but his words and actions had touched her deeply.
“When’s dinner?” He asked trying to move the conversation on, turning to face his wife.
“Six dear,” she replied, standing up, she really did need to see Mrs Clearwater in the kitchen, “Bella, will you please join us for dinner?”
Every evening was the same, the family insisted on Bella and Emmett joining them for their meal. Emmett had no problem accepting, it meant being closer to Rosalie, but Bella was increasingly uncomfortable, she felt she should be in the kitchen with the rest of the staff, even though she wasn’t officially working for the Cullen’s yet.
“Please,” Alice begged, she had her hands clasped together as though she was in prayer in front of her and she was pouting.
“I would love to, thank you,” she accepted, although her mind was in confusion, she needed a defined role within the household, to know her place, she needed to start work, she decided to broach the subject with Dr. Cullen tomorrow.
Bella seated herself between Alice and Rosalie, they, in turn, faced Jasper and Emmett, the space opposite Bella was glaringly empty, it mocked her, she felt uncomfortable, it was where he should be seated, if he were here.
“This is nice,” Dr. Cullen said as he sat himself at the head of the table, “Let us pray.”
Everyone quietly bowed their heads in reverence.
“Oh Lord, for the food we are about to receive, we are truly thankful.”
There was a chorus of, “Amen.”
“Son!” Dr. Cullen exclaimed, as everyone opened their eyes.
All heads turned in the direction of the open door to see Edward looking uncomfortable.
“Sorry I’m late.”
Thanks to my beta's js18 & RAH07890 (princess07890)
Thanks to the encouragement you leave in Kudos or comments, I do really appreciate them ;)
There was a shriek of joy that everyone knew to be Alice’s; she was out of her seat and hugging her brother before anyone else had the opportunity to react.
“I’ve missed you, too, my dear sister,” he laughed, hugging her just as fiercely.
Alice pulled back from their embrace and punched him as hard as she could on his arm.
“That was for leaving me and not saying goodbye.”She pouted.
He knew to expect some grief from Alice, but it would be over quickly and once he’d apologised, all would be forgiven. He had the feeling it would not be so simple with some of the other members of this household, not that he could blame them.
Edward’s eyes flicked across to Bella, her head hung low, chestnut ringlets fell softly around her face, and he could see the blush that coloured her creamy cheeks, an ache gripped his heart and he longed for her to look his way, she needed her to see his face, his eyes, how truly sorry he was for abandoning her.
Esme was next in line to hug her son, “Edward, darling.” She cradled his cheeks in her hand and looked him in the eyes, “It is so good that you’re back dear.”
A frown flickered across his face in confusion, he felt sure he would have encountered some opposition to his return from his mother. Her words sounded sincere to his ears and her eyes glistened with unshed tears, and there was a look on her face that showed a deeper emotion, could it be regret, chagrin, or even, shame?
“We will talk later, son.” She replied to his unasked questions. “Come and eat, you must be famished.” She took his hand and dragged him behind her, giving him little choice in the matter.
Edward paused by his father, he yearned to talk to him and explain his actions.
He sensed his son’s anguish, “Your mother‘s right, sit and eat, we will talk later.”
Edward gave his father a nod before moving towards the vacant seat at the table.
“Oh Edward,” his father continued, with a warm smile, “It’s good to have you back.”
“Good to see you Edward,” Jasper added to the welcomes, and, although he was glad to have him back, the thought had occurred to him that he would have to be more vigilant in his romantic liaisons with Alice from now on, Edward had always watched his sister like a hawk.
Rosalie had barely acknowledged his return; she managed a smile and a nod in his direction, so as to appear cordial and not at all rude. Truth be told, she thought he’d been a total arse about the whole situation and had quite enjoyed his absence. All they did was bicker and annoy the hell out of one another. She was sure he would have something to say about the blossoming relationship between her and Emmett. Not that she cared what he thought or anyone else for that matter, Emmett was a giant with a sensitive soul and she had never met anyone else like him, he was her opposite in every way, she found herself quite enamoured with him.
He was kind, gentle, loving, sweet-tempered, generous, and passionate, leaving Rosalie with the opposite qualities, which would normally indicate not a very good or likable person. However, Emmett would disagree whole-heartedly; he found her to be loyal, strong willed, feisty, decisive, honest, beautiful, and very passionate, and she had his heart in the palm of her hand.
He was under no illusions about their relationship, he was aware of the differences in their standing in modern society. He had decided to take what he could, when he could, and, while it lasted, he would be grateful for the time with this amazing woman. He’d vowed to spend the rest of his life serving her in whatever capacity she would allow. When he told her all this, Rosalie had kissed him softly, and then she’d taken him to meet her mother.
Since the loss of her husband and soul mate, Caius, Dora was wholly in favour of true love in its various guises, she felt herself lucky to have been in love and be loved by a good and honest man. She could see the goodness in Emmett and she cared little that he was not a man of great wealth or means, with Rosalie by his side, he would achieve much.
Dora made a mental note to herself to chat with her dear friends, Esme and Carlisle, nothing escaped her attention, even in the confines of her room, she knew of the situation with Edward and Bella.
What was important was that their children would find happiness, forget the traditional norms, she thought, love and happiness was the most important.
Dora felt her time on this earth was coming to an end, her children were grown, healthy, and strong and it seemed Rosalie had found true love. She could already see the changes taking place in her obstinate girl, she didn’t seem as harsh or unforgiving in her manner; even her looks had softened. Perhaps it was due to the smile that always graced her lips.
Dora gave them her blessing before the afternoon was over.
“Your time together is precious,” she said, holding both their hands together over her heart. “Don’t waste it.”
Bella’s eyes remained downcast, she thought she would surely cry if she looked up to see him, for a good portion of time she had pinched herself, feeling sure this had all been a terribly cruel dream. Her mind must have finally snapped and was giving her what she craved; she dared not do anything that might break the spell.
Finally realisation struck as he seated himself in the chair opposite her, she was being such a silly girl; he was really here and she was wasting time avoiding looking into his handsome face, she didn’t know how long he would be here.
She didn’t realise how tense she was until Alice grasped her hand in her own and gave it a supportive squeeze, Bella stifled a sob as she felt Rosalie do the same, and her heart swelled and warmed. For the first time that she could recall, she had girlfriends, sisters, really, and she felt loved and supported.
Bella drew the strength she needed from the wonderful women that were seated on either side of her; then she saw them clearly, they were strong and independent in their own way. Neither needed a man to make them whole and both had men of their choosing, who clearly worshipped them.
Bella decided that’s what she wanted for herself and, from that moment, something changed within her. She would no longer rely on a man; what she needed was right here, inside of her and had been all along. Bella sat herself upright; she would not sit opposite him and cower from his gaze any longer.
“Welcome back,” she smiled cordially and nodded at him.
Bella thought she‘d heard a few hushed gasps from around the table and she fought to curb the grin that threatened to emerge.
Alice discreetly gave her hand another squeeze of support.
Edward was amazed at the incredible beauty in front of him, in a few short weeks, she had flourished, not in her looks, she had always been beautiful to him, but now she radiated strength from within. Her confidence had grown as she was nurtured in a safe and caring environment; she’d had good, positive female role models. He was grateful to Alice and Rosalie for that, he would eventually find out his mother had played her part in bringing forth the stronger Bella.
Eventually, it was he who looked away in shame, he realised how wrong he had been in running from her, and the feelings he’d developed.
“Mrs Clearwater, we’re ready to eat,” Dr. Cullen finally spoke to the housekeeper, breaking the spell around the dining table.
Dr. and Mrs Cullen had watched the silent exchange between the two of them, and realised that maybe Bella Swan was just the woman for their son and, in that moment, one of them silently gave their blessing.
Bella found her appetite had returned with a vengeance and had eaten everything that had been put upon her plate.
Mrs Clearwater had noticed and took advantage; placing more upon the young girl’s plate, it was done with motherly concern and intent; she had a lot of missed meals to make up for and her frame was still delicate.
Dr. and Mrs Cullen were also pleased to see her eat with such enthusiasm, it warmed their hearts; they exchanged glances at one another across the table and with Mrs Clearwater.
The earlier awkwardness soon dissolved and Bella was charming, joining in with the topics of conversation around the table, supported by Alice and Jasper. If the talk became too heated or uncomfortable, as far as Edward was concerned, Rosalie stepped in, and deftly steered the conversation on a different route and away from Bella.
The three girls worked efficiently together, manoeuvring and guiding Bella verbally around Edward, until he felt emotionally battered, he grinned to himself, it was no more than he deserved.
When the meal was finished and conversation began to wane, Bella made her excuses to leave the table, stifling a yawn as she did. She felt completely exhausted and longed to fall into her lovely soft bed and succumb to sleep.
She’d been amazed at how quickly she’d taken to sleeping on a plump mattress, it was sheer luxury compared to the way she had once slept and was grateful she didn’t have to go back to the thin roll of filler for quilts, which had once been her bed.
Bella left the room to a chorus of, ‘goodnights,’ Edward waited a respectable couple of minutes and then tried to excuse himself; he needed to speak with Bella, to apologise, and make her understand why he had left.
Everyone, bar Emmett, who had no idea at what was going on, had other intentions and Edward was bombarded with questions from all angles of the room, preventing him from going after her.
“How are my dear friends, Peter and Charlotte?”
“What are the current fashion trends in London?”
“Did you do any sightseeing, dear?”
“Did you visit any of the pubs?”
“Are you going back?”
He pinched the bridge of his nose, he was exhausted and could not face going through his family to get to Bella, he’d had enough of being railroaded tonight, she would keep until the morning; after all, they couldn’t keep her from him forever, could they?
Bella felt quite content in her heart and mind and, for the first time in weeks, and she slept peacefully, without the dreams that plagued her all night, but evaded her once she was awake.
All was right in her world, now she was in control and she wasn’t about to relinquish it to anyone.
Edward, although exhausted, found it difficult to find any peace in sleep, finally, he gave up and took a walk around the house and grounds, he had alot to think over before the morning, mainly the bewitching Bella Swan, who seemed to have transformed before his very eyes this evening. He still wasn’t sure what the future, if any, held for him, for them. But he could not think any further than here and now with her.
He was unaware as he strolled, deep in thought, of the chaos he caused around him; Jasper had to take action concealing himself behind the burgundy drapes in the entrance, as he wandered by. Fortunately Jasper was still undercover when Leah also appeared; he had nearly missed her as she kept to the shadows, not wanting to be seen. Curious, he’d thought.
Jasper held his breath and thought how he would’ve make a lousy spy, beads of sweat covered his brow, and he completely forgot about the housemaids suspicious behaviour, and his beating heart resonated so loudly in his ears, he was sure it would betray his location at any moment. By the time he reached Alice’s room, he was a trembling wreck, and she had to use her most revealing underwear, and whisper the most un-ladylike things she could imagine in his ear, to distract him. He was a red blooded man and soon forgot about her brother wandering the halls, and was buried deep in his love, making her chant his name in joy, as they had discovered the intimate secrets about each other’s bodies and the intricacies involved in lovemaking.
Once outside, Edward disturbed Emmett and Rosalie, who had an illicit midnight rendezvous planned, but he was so caught up in his own musings that he failed to notice them disappearing into the stable block. The excitement of being caught added to the thrill for these two adventurous lovers, and, once he had passed by, they pounced on each other in a frenzy of arms, legs, and hot, naked flesh and, since neither one of them was a shy virgin, it was fast and furious.
When he finally made it back to his own room and gave into sleep, he still had no idea of what he was to do; the only thing he was sure of was that he would not give up this time.
As the clock struck midnight, all around him and safe in each other’s arms, sated lovers professed their undying love for one another as they fell asleep.
For one of the couples, the morning would bring them embarrassment, as their covert liasons would be discovered.
Not surprisingly, Edward was the first up, exhausted but emotionally charged, he paced the unlit room biting his nails.
“Arghh!” Mrs Clearwater screamed, as she saw the movement of another in the dining room, she wasn’t expecting to find anyone awake other than herself at this unearthly hour.
“Mrs Clearwater, I’m so sorry,” He rushed across and helped her to take a seat, before she collapsed on the floor in fright.
“I wasn’t expecting anyone to be up already, Master Edward,” she panted.
“I couldn’t sleep,” he cast his eyes down and sighed, kneeling beside the housekeeper.
Mrs Clearwater smiled sadly at him, understanding immediately, she took his hand in hers. “She is a wonderful young lady.”
Edward looked at her and realised she probably knew her better than he did.
“You hurt her by leaving like you did.”
“I know,” he sighed again with a heavy heart.
“I’m sure you will find a way of getting her to forgive you,” she said brightly and ruffled his hair. “Now, I believe I was starting breakfast before I was startled to death.”
Edward sat through his mother and father’s breakfast, both had barely concealed the look of mirth on their faces, he ignored them, feigning hunger until Bella arrived, they made their excuses and left.
Finally, he was left alone with her.
“Good morning,” Bella said calmly, Mrs Clearwater had informed Bella of Edward’s vigil in the dining room an hour earlier, and she had postponed her breakfast, hoping he would grow tired and move on. Hunger finally forced her from the confines of her room and now she helped herself to the eggs, bacon, and tea, as he watched every move she made. Her heart was thundering like horses hooves against her ribcage, she could feel the vibration throughout her whole body. Due to the ample warning she was given, Bella was able to present a reserved exterior.
Edward paced and chewed his fingers as Bella sat and enjoyed her breakfast, then he dragged his fingers anxiously through his hair as she sipped her tea, he wanted to shout and scream as his trepidation increased, and she seemed to not be affected, had he been wrong about her feelings for him? Was he too late?
The more he paced, the calmer she became, a very small part of her, which was ruled by her head, enjoyed the distress he was enduring, the larger part, which was ruled by her heart and body, wanted to take him and soothe him with soft comforting words. She longed take his hands, which were clawing at his scalp, and hold them in her own, but she would not succumb completely to a man and give him total power over her.
Perhaps now he would understand a fraction of what she felt at his abandonment, her heart still bore the bruising and she was not about to make things easy for him.
“Bella,” he sounded pained. “Can you not see the distress I am in?”
“I can,” she said, keeping her face and voice neutral.
“You must know how sorry I am for leaving?” He wrung his hands in front of him.
“I must?” Bella’s voice betrayed emotion as it rose an octave, she left her seat and moved to the opposite end of the room to him, she needed distance to feel in control. “Why? Have you told me?”
“I am so very sorry for leaving; I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Bella felt her heart soften slightly, but she stiffened and ignored it. “Well you did hurt me, Edward, and I’m still hurting.”
“I will make amends, if you’ll allow me.” He held both hands out in a pleading pose to her; she wanted to run to him, but held her ground.
“Why did you go?” She challenged.
“I...” He stuttered.
“Is it because I’m not good enough for you?” Her voice finally broke with emotion and stress, physically her vocal chords were feeling the strain; she wasn’t use to increasing volume.
“It’s not like that,” he began and stopped, unable to think of the words to follow, when what she said, in essence, was the truth.
Mrs Cullen hadn’t wandered very far, and had heard the raised voices, she swiftly made her way to the dining room before her husband could intervene and stop her.
“Bella,” she said softly, disturbing both of them as she entered. “I’m so sorry,” she put her hand to her mouth to stifle the sob and compose herself. “I could see how he looked at you and I didn’t approve, I encouraged him to go.”
Bella’s finely composed facade crumbled, and traitorous tears flowed, “No,” she gasped shaking her head and looking at the both of them in disbelief.
“I can see now how wrong I was,” Mrs Cullen tried moving towards the distressed young woman.
“NO,” Bella shouted in anger and pain, holding her hand up stopping their advance towards her; before she ran through the door.
It grieved Bella and maddened her in equal proportions to think that they both had thought her unworthy, and to have them admit it now, when she had been made to feel a part of their family, she was vulnerable, the pain she felt inside was excruciating.
Bella had grown close to all of the Cullen’s, she could imagine being part of them, she dreamed of it. Alice was constantly telling her she was the sister she’d never had and Dr. Cullen was as affectionate toward her as he was with his own flesh and blood daughter.
Mrs Cullen had been a little harder to grow closer to, Bella had sensed the reluctance on her part, but recently, the time they’d spent together during lessons with Alice, she had sensed acceptance from Mrs Cullen; she was a wonderful teacher and was becoming a motherly figure to her.
But now what? She was good enough for friendship, to nurture and teach, but not good enough to be in love with or be loved by her son.
Bella cursed herself for being foolish enough to believe, to hope, for love and family, security and a happy ever after, people like her and Emmett weren’t destined for happiness. In the future she would know her place and stay in it.
She needed some space to think, to sort through the confusion that crowded her brain, but he wasn’t going to allow it, he’d followed shouting and pleading for her to stop and let him explain. Explain what? She was aware of his thoughts all too clearly.
Bella recalled every gentle word he ever said to her, as she lay exhausted in his arms and when she lay upon the bed, every word had pierced the fog that had surrounded her, his was the only voice she’d heard clear and true.
She recalled his caresses and kisses, the way he’d held her protectively against his body.
Had it all been in her imagination?
“Bella, you have to stop,” he bellowed.
“No, I don’t,” she screamed back at him in temper, she was surprised at the volume that came from her lungs, it was liberating.
Emmett and Rosalie left the stable together, holding hands and feeling elated that they had at last consummated their love, several times.
Emmett heard Bella’s shouts, the sound was foreign to his ears and it disturbed him more than words could say, after years of silence from his little sister. Within moments, he’d rushed across the yard, his whole body coursing with adrenaline, ready to fight and protect his sibling.
He was just in time to witness Edward catch up with Bella and spin her to face him, his blood boiled in his veins as Edward held onto the tops of Bella’s arms and he could see her struggling to free herself. Rosalie reached Emmett as he took off in anger towards Edward and Bella, who were oblivious to his presence.
Rosalie’s shrieks fell on deaf ears to all parties.
“Get your hands off my sister,” he bellowed.
Edward and Bella looked in surprise at Emmett, who seemed to have doubled in size and towered over the pair of them.
“I just need to...” Edward began.
“It’s ok, Emmett we...” Bella started.
But he ignored the both of them, all his focus was on Edward’s hands gripping the tops of his little sisters’ arms, and a possessive growl rose in his chest and his nostrils flared.
He still wasn’t letting her go.
“I-said-let-her-go,” he punctuated each word with a prod of his extremely strong finger into Edward’s chest, forcing him to back off and away from Bella.
“I just need to talk to her,” Edward persisted, trying to look round Emmett.
Edward’s distress now, was that he was being parted from Bella, he was sickened that Emmett could think he was capable of causing her physical harm, he realised too late what it must have looked like to her extremely big and very angry brother.
Edward saw it coming and braced himself, to no avail, as a very hard and fast fist made contact with his jaw.
He was unconscious for a couple of pain-free seconds, and he was not pleased when he woke flat on his back, his head was spinning and the pain in his jaw was severe, he reached for his face and was relieved to find there was nothing dislocated or broken.
“Idiot, you could have killed him.” Edward heard the shriek, that was undeniably Rosalie, if he could have spoken, he would have said it would have taken more than a fist to the jaw to kill him, but he didn’t want to tempt Emmett, who may have just attempted to prove him wrong.
His vision and senses returned and he realised that Bella was on her knees and by his side, she had her hand underneath his head and her eyes were wide and worried, as they searched his face, assessing the damage with her soft hand. Then, the pain was worth it and he tried to smile.
“Ow,” he winced tasting the tang of blood, his voice sounded muffled as his lip was now twice its usual size and still swelling. Edward relaxed as he felt her fingers tentatively caress the bruising flesh across his jaw and cheek.
“You’ll live,” he heard the smile in her voice as she spoke.
“Not without you,” he replied quickly, grabbing her wrist and keeping her fingers in contact with his face. “I am truly sorry.”
“I know,” she sighed, her sweet breath swept across his face. Looking at his swollen and bloody lips longingly, she felt herself drawn steadily, hypnotically towards him, her heart beating out a staccato rhythm.
“Would someone mind telling me what is going on?” Emmett said crossly, disturbing their intimate moment.
“Perhaps we’d better take this inside,” Rosalie interjected, placing a hand on Emmett’s bicep, she was lost for a moment as she marvelled at the firmness of his huge arm, remembering the gentle way he’d held her against him, she shook her head to clear her wandering thoughts. “Edward will need some butter on his bruises.”
Mrs Cullen was pacing the hall when the four retuned, she was delighted to see Bella had her arms tight around her son’s waist, before she realised she was just assisting him, then gasped and rushed over once she took in his bruised and bloody face.
“What’s happened?” She fussed around him, confused in her thinking; had Bella caused the injuries to Edward?
“I hit him,” Emmett spoke from behind her, she turned to him, “I thought he was hurting my sister...” He answered her questioning look, “... and I would still like to know what he was doing to her.”
While the housekeeper tended to Edward’s injuries, Dr. Cullen was summoned, he seemed to have disappeared somewhere in the house, finally, he arrived, looking very pale. He closed his eyes and rubbed at his temples as he sat down at the dining table, this was the very civilized way the Cullen’s discussed their problems.
The whole family, along with the the Hale’s and Swan’s were already seated and waiting expectantly for him, he raised an eyebrow at his son’s injured face, and he knew his headache was about to get a whole lot worse.
“Mrs Clearwater, would you mind fetching me a bottle of sherry,” he sighed heavily, one drink wasn’t going to be enough.
Emmett had some problems controlling his temper as Edward and Mrs Cullen recalled their conversation prior to his departure, several times he jumped to his feet shouting and cussing, eventually, Rosalie held on to him with both her hands and Bella begged him to keep control of himself.
“Please, Emmett, I want to hear what they have to say,” Bella said, looking directly at Edward.
He was shocked further as she took the seat beside Edward; he nodded once and remained tight lipped throughout.
“I am so sorry I left,” Edward looked at Bella then Emmett, “I was so confused and I am ashamed of myself for running away from these feelings I have.” He clutched his hands to his chest and continued, he knew he had one chance to put this right, so he spoke from his heart. “I see it now, I am not too good for Bella, it is quite the opposite and all I ask is for the chance to make amends to her.”
Bella could feel every beat of his heart as he spoke, and he looked deep into her eyes with such intensity and honesty that everyone looked away, feeling as though they were intruding on a private moment.
She smiled at him and Emmett knew it was already too late; he could see- she was totally in love with him. “If you hurt her again, I will not hesitate to kill you,” he felt a lot better to have gotten those words off his chest.
He joined in with the laughter around the room as people chose to believe he was joking, all except Edward and Bella, who both nodded solemnly.
Emmett would be watching Edward Cullen very closely from now on.
Bella returned the squeeze Edward gave her hands, and she spoke quietly and sweetly only for his ears; “I won’t be making it easy for you.”
“While we have everyone gathered, Jasper and Alice have an announcement to make,” Dr. Cullen said dryly and then took the rest of his sherry in one gulp.
All eyes left Edward and Bella, who were very grateful for the welcome distraction.
“I am pleased to announce...” Jasper began, with a huge smile on his face.
It was plain to see where Alice got her abundant excitement from as Mrs Cullen was bouncing in her chair with anticipation.
“Alice has agreed to be my wife,” he looked down at Alice, who was seated by his side and was grinning just as broadly as he was, she reached up and took his hand in hers.
There were screams and shouts of congratulations from all areas of the room as the family flocked towards the happy couple to hug and kiss them.
Dr. Cullen poured himself another drink and thought back to the events of earlier that morning.
After he and Mrs Cullen had left Edward and Bella alone in the dining room at breakfast time, he had come across Mrs Clearwater taking a breakfast tray to Alice.
“I thought if I took Alice her breakfast up, Master Edward would have more time to talk to Bella,” she’d said.
“Brilliant idea Mrs Clearwater, allow me?” he asked, seeing an opportunity for some time alone with Alice to sort out the disagreement they’d had over Edward’s departure.
It had been a long time since Dr. Cullen had visited his daughter’s bedroom, he thought back to the days when she was a small girl and he would put her to bed and read her stories, they were good memories, one’s to cherish for eternity, he thought wistfully how quickly the time had passed and opened the door to her room.
He couldn’t distinguish her clearly in the darkened room, the thick drapes at the windows kept any daylight from penetrating the room, so he moved across to open them. He blinked, thinking it must be a trick of the light as he passed the bed; it appeared as if there were two shapes beneath the blankets. His stomach twisted as light filled the room and he saw there were indeed two bodies, two naked bodies wrapped around one another.
Jasper was the first to stir as the weak daylight woke him from his slumber, and he lazily grinned and hugged Alice’s warm, bare body towards him, he pressed his wakening penis against her, and began kissing her shoulder as she lay with her back towards him. It was nice to wake up beside her, it was the first time he’d stayed the whole night, he couldn’t wait to make her his wife and spend every morning with her in his arms.
He heard a movement in the room and he opened his eyes, to find a very angry face scowling down at him.
“Dr. Cullen!” Jasper felt as though all his blood drained from his body, which was fortunate in the area of his groin.
Alice was fully awake seconds after her father’s name left her lovers lips.
“Father!” She pulled the sheets up towards her neck.
“Get dressed and meet me in my study, you have five minutes.” His voice was quiet and succeeded in sounding extremely menacing. He left the room without saying anything else or looking at either of them.
“I hope you really do love me, Jasper Hale,” she said as she threw back the blankets and began to dress hastily.
Alice held Jasper’s hand tightly and stroked her thumb reassuringly across the back of it as they stood before her father, like a pair of naughty school children about to be scolded.
Dr. Cullen had yet to say a word to them; he was pacing the carpet with his hands clasped behind him, he would stop occasionally, take a deep breath or shake his head and then start again.
Dr. Cullen finally stopped and looked at the two of them, “I am extremely disappointed with the both of you.”
“Father, we’re in love.”
“You are too young to be in love,” he snapped.
“But, we’re old enough to make love,” Alice retorted.
Jasper saw the last thread of Dr. Cullen’s temper snap as Alice had pushed him over the edge.
“Don’t you...” he lunged towards her with his finger pointing.
Jasper pushed Alice behind him, “Please, Dr. Cullen,” he spoke calmly, “I do love your daughter very much and would like to make her my wife as soon as possible.”
“Why, is she pregnant?” His eyes were wild with panic, now he was looking back and forth from Alice to Jasper and his hands were tugging at his hair, a nervous habit he’d passed to his son.
“No,” Jasper answered calmly.
“We’ve been very careful,” Alice joined in, “We used...”
“Alice, please let me do the talking,” Jasper interrupted quickly and took her face between his hands and seared her with his gaze, “Please.”
She nodded and sat down.
Her father was still reeling at the news that it wasn’t their first time; it was going on under his roof and he didn’t know how long it had been going on.
“Please, allow me marry your daughter, I know it’s not a good way to find out I love her, but I do, and I have for as long as I’ve known her.”
Dr. Cullen fleetingly thought back to the times when Jasper and Rosalie had come to stay; Alice and Jasper had been inseparable, had he and Esme been so set on making a match of Edward to Rosalie, they had overlooked the ones that had meant to be together?
Without realising, he nodded his head.
Alice squealed, hugged and kissed him, Jasper shook his hand, thanking him profusely and promising to take good care of his daughter.
They left him still frozen in shock as they went to tell Dora, Jasper’s mother, and that’s where he stayed until he heard his wife shouting.
Dr. Cullen snapped back to the present as he watched his daughter glowing with love and happiness, she proudly bore the engagement ring that had once belonged to Jasper’s grandmother.
“A toast,” he raised his voice and his glass, causing everyone to look his way, Mrs Clearwater was already making her way around the room with crystal glasses full of sherry.
“To love, happiness and finding the one to spend your life with.”
Dr. Cullen looked lovingly at his wife. “Cheers.”
Alice and Jasper kissed. “Cheers.”
Rosalie and Emmett reached for each other’s hand. “Cheers.”
Edward and Bella stared deep into each other’s eyes, oblivious to everyone around them. “Cheers.”
“To Alice and Jasper,” Dr. Cullen broke the silence.
“Cheers,” Everyone echoed.
“Please, you have to give me work to do, Dr. Cullen.” Bella was following him around, to the point of pleading with him, this was important to her, she now felt she was imposing on this family and she would not sit around idle.
“Oh,” he stopped suddenly on his journey to his study; he had begun to think of Bella as part of the family, Emmett, too.
Bella accompanied and helped Alice with her lessons, which he knew his daughter was grateful for, she already assisted Mrs Clearwater in the kitchen, her brother in the stables, and helped Seth in the vegetable garden, the girl was already everywhere and still she wanted more.
“Bella, you do realise how much work you already do around the estate? Mrs Cullen, Mrs Clearwater and I, are grateful for all the help you give them and Seth has learned a great deal about gardening from you.”
“But it’s not my job, Dr. Cullen; you have to give me my own job.”
Dr. Cullen laughed, he realised it was what she needed and he had to find a way of appeasing Bella, since it obviously something she needed.
“Ok,” he laughed and rubbed her hair. “I’ll talk to Mrs Cullen; let’s see what we can come up with befitting of a fine young lady as your-self.”
Bella rolled her eyes and snorted, very unladylike.
“You really don’t see yourself clearly, do you?” He said, looking at her, her beauty was simple and classic, she was helpful, kind and gentle and her capacity to love was boundless.
“And you don’t see very well- period?” She said and waltzed off before he could answer.
Edward had resumed his medical studies under the teaching of his father, who was only too happy to have his son close by. They both knew Edward’s reasons for staying had nothing to do with how good a teacher Dr. Cullen was, although, thankfully, he was an excellent tutor.
His reason for staying was stubbornly refusing to spend any time with him, she was courteous, kind, and infuriatingly polite, but was still managing to keep him at arm’s length.
After weeks, and driven to the point of desperation, Edward took extreme measures to ensure Bella would have no choice other than spend time with him, but he couldn’t do it on his own.
“Alice,” he pinched his nose as he couldn’t believe he was doing this.
“Edward,” she grinned, aware of his predicament and had been anticipating this conversation for weeks, she was amazed at how stubborn he could be sometimes.
“I require your help.”
Alice cocked her eyebrow and folded her arms across her chest.
“Well it’s about time,” she replied dryly. “We shall all go riding this afternoon.” Edward had a moment to nod his compliance before she disappeared.
Bella soon forgot about her ire at Alice, she had managed to get her out and on horseback when she should have been working.
“But it’s so beautiful outside and we need to make the best of it before winter comes,” she’d whined and pleaded, pouting until Mrs Cullen had begged Bella to get Alice out of the house for the afternoon. She promised her all the chores had been done and even Mrs Clearwater took the odd afternoon off to enjoy the fine weather, only then did she relent and agree to keep Alice company.
It felt like it had been a long time since she had been out on a horse, Bella loved horse-riding as much as her brother did, and while she was astride the beautiful mare named Briar; she wondered why she had neglected such an enjoyable past-time.
Alice waxed lyrical about her upcoming nuptials to her beloved Jasper, Bella laughed as she went over colour schemes, bridesmaid dresses, the ceremony, and her dress, she couldn’t imagine anyone enjoy planning a huge event as she was.
Without pausing for breath, Alice shocked her with a question. “Would you be one of my bridesmaids, Bella?”
Bella looked back with wide eyed shock, “I, erm- don’t know.”
“I know we haven’t known each other for that long, but you are going to be in my life from now on.” Alice said with a degree of finality.
Bella laughed, “How can you know that?”
“I just do, I know lots of things, you and Edward, for instance.” Alice raised her eyebrow knowingly and giggled, causing Bella to blush.
“What do you know about me and Edward?” Bella’s voice rose an octave; betraying her emotions and her heart leapt around excitedly.
Although she’d maintained her distance from him, she’d watched him with longing when no one could see her, truthfully, she was tiring of her game and her daily struggle had become a moment to moment one, she was close to giving in to him.
“I know you will be spending time with him very soon,” Alice giggled again.
Bella realised her horse had come to a stop. Bella turned to look in the direction Alice cocked her head, to have the breath leave her lungs in rush. Edward moved through the tall grass with the prowess of a jungle cat, his burnished brown hair glinted with copper highlights in the glorious sunshine, he smiled a half smile, with his head tilted down, he looked at Bella through his impossibly long eyelashes. Her breath returned sharply, only to get stuck in her throat, how could a man look like that and make her forget to draw breath?
Foreign feelings and desires swamped her mind and body. Oh! My, he’s so handsome, those eyes, how they penetrate and glow, and his lips...to have them pressed against my own, his hands on my flesh, his body... Her mind drifted to places it had never been before and he looked as though he were about to devour her.
Bella’s heart banged wildly against her ribcage as if trying to get to the man who owned it. And her body was alight with heat and tingles from her scalp to her toes, with the most intense sensation emanating between her thighs, in the region of her unexplored womanhood.
Briar moved, causing her to rock slightly against the hard leather saddle, Bella preferred to sit astride to ride rather than the usual side saddle. A jolt of intense pleasure issued from her swollen sex, Bella blushed as an involuntary moan escaped from between her lips; she hoped he was still too far from her to have heard it.
“Are you ok, my love?” He asked, rushing to help her dismount.
“I’m fine,” she whispered, allowing him to reach up and hold her with his strong masculine hands, she closed her eyes as her body slid from her mount and down the length of him, until her feet were safely planted on the ground, Bella found it hard to register anything other than his body pressed up against hers.
“I’ll go for a ride with Jasper,” Alice sniggered, looking at Jasper as they shared a secret, as lovers often do. “Do you want me to come back for you?”
Bella felt embarrassed she’d been so wrapped up in Edward; she hadn’t even noticed Jasper’s presence.
“I’ll see Bella back to the house.” Edward answered with a frown, narrowing his eyes and glaring at Jasper, he understood exactly what, a ride with Jasper, meant and, if he wasn’t so desperate to spend time with Bella, he would be seriously curbing their ardour for one another, in the cold water of the river, he thought.
Alice caught Edward glaring at Jasper and she raised both her eyebrows, daring him to say something to either of them. Edward lowered his gaze, conceding.... for now.
The distraction allowed Bella to take a delicate grip on her shallow breathing and racing emotions; by the time Alice and Jasper rode off together, she was almost composed.
“Come,” he said, holding his hand for her to take, without thinking, she placed her hand in his and meekly followed him over to a blanket, which was obscured by the long willowy grass.
Briar wandered happily, looking for some sweeter green grass.
There was a plaid rug which was covered with plates of food, Mrs Clearwater had packed him a feast when he had told her of his intentions to spend the afternoon with Bella, and she was whole heartedly on his side.
There were cucumber sandwiches with the crusts removed, scotch eggs, shortbread biscuits with strawberries and cream, and to drink there was Mr. Clearwater’s homemade nettle wine. The housekeeper had packed fine white china, linen napkins, silver cutlery, wine glasses, and even a long, stemmed, red rose and a tall crystal bud vase. Everything looked beautiful set out on the rug, Bella blinked back the tears and felt her throat thicken with emotion; no one had ever gone to so much trouble for her.
“You did this all for me?” She didn’t mean to give voice to her thoughts.
“I did,” he announced proudly.
“It’s lovely,” she whispered as she moved forward to kneel on the rug.
“So are you,” the words slipped reverently from his lips.
“Thank you.”Bella blushed.
Edward and Bella made small talk and ate with difficulty; as both felt they had a bellyful of butterflies, but etiquette prevailed and they forced the food down, which was fortunate, as Mr Clearwater’s nettle wine would have been extremely potent on an empty stomach.
When most of the food was eaten and the dishes were packed back into the hamper, all that remained was the dish of juicy red strawberries and the whipped cream.
“They look delicious,” she commented.
Edward agreed and picked a juicy, red fruit and dipped it into the cream, Bella watched as if mesmerised, he moved it towards his mouth, her eyes focused on the way his full lips parted, heat flared deep in the pit of her stomach.
Edward paused, aware of her interest and he smiled then took a bite from the fruit and licked his lips, Bella emitted a small gasp and bit into her bottom lip. Instead of finishing the rest of the strawberry, he held it out to her mouth; the sweet smell filled her senses reminding her of sunshine and summer days. Bella opened her mouth and she took the offered strawberry; her eyes remained locked on his as her hot, wet mouth made contact with the tips of his fingers and thumb.
It was his turn to gasp as her lips briefly wrapped erotically around the ends of his fingers, sending what could only be described as a current racing up his arm and through his body, ending with an awakening in his loins. Seconds passed before he realised that Bella had taken the fruit and he was still frozen in position, with the green top between his fingers.
Bella laughed, it was a light sweet sound which made him smile in return.
She reciprocated and chose a particularly plump, red strawberry and dipped it into the whipped cream, ensuring that the whole fruit was covered. He could see the playful and wicked glint in her eye and decided he would play along.
Bella grinned wildly as she offered him the large, tasty morsel, Edward opened his mouth and she pushed the whole thing into him, then doubled over, laughing loudly.
He chewed, filling his mouth with the sweet and creamy taste, it overflowed, juices seeping out at the corner of his mouth and trickling down to his chin, this made her laugh even harder and tears seeped from the corners of her eyes. He fought not to grin, as he wanted to keep the food from spilling forth and he frantically searched the rug for a napkin. Bella pre-empted him and pulled one from the picnic basket which was at her side and she reached forward still chuckling and gently wiped the escaped juices from his face.
The atmosphere between them changed in an instant, going from light-hearted and playful to one charged with sexual promise.
Bella reached forward with her other hand and caressed his face, as she had dreamt of doing since she had first met him. Tingles ran through her fingers, she dropped the napkin to feel him with both hands, revelling, at the contrast in texture, smooth then rough; as she caressed his stubble, following the sharp contours of his handsome face; she was lost in the moment at how he felt under her fingers.
Edward froze and shut his eyes, closing off one sense heightened all his others, he could smell the sweet floral perfume which was all her, and the added scent of strawberries; she made his mouth water. He could hear her deep breaths, and he was sure he could detect her rapid heartbeat, although it could have been his own. His skin prickled and buzzed at her close proximity and he relished the feeling of her touch as she explored him, touching gently around his mouth and nose with the tips of her fingers, skimming across his eyelids and down the side of his face.
He groaned as goosebumps ran up and down his spine and scalp as her hands slid into his hair and gripped around the back of his head, pulling him closer until he felt her lips touch his. He’d hoped to kiss her again, he’d longed and dreamed of it, so his soul rejoiced to the heavens when their mouths met once again and it was all the better for her initiation and passionate participation.
The first touch was filled with innocence as they moved their lips gently and sweetly against one another. There was no pause for breath as their passion for each other increased and they both grew bolder, pressing harder and like magnets; their bodies drew closer.
Bella’s hands were still threaded into Edward’s soft, thick hair; she pulled him harder as her desire for him consumed her, her whole body felt as though it was about to combust into flames starting at the hottest point, which was between her thighs. Giving herself completely over to her carnal desires, she squeezed her thighs together to quell the throb, to be reward by a short wave of pleasure. Bella had to pull away, panting and dizzy, fearing she would faint from the overload of exquisite sensation that filled her body, still so innocent, but she longed to explore further, these delicious feelings that he evoked from deep within her.
She was no stranger to making her body feel nice and ticklish, when she’d had the chance of privacy in the past, she had touched and explored herself, but the intensity of the feeling had paled into comparison to what she felt when she was with him, or daydreaming about him. Bella knew there was more to come, the feelings she was experiencing were a prelude to something greater and he’d ignited her hunger for it. She broke the kiss for air.
“I’m sorry,” Edward apologised, his voice sounded husky and alien to her ears.
“Why?” She asked, what was there to be sorry about?
“I thought I was moving too fast for you,” he muttered, feeling ashamed, he felt he was taking advantage of her innocence, they needed to go home, to talk, with people around them.
“I needed to breathe, you’re making me dizzy,” she answered.
“Oh.” His voice was merely a whisper.
She was pleased when he looked relieved at her words.
“I liked the way you made me feel.”
Edward’s eyes snapped up to meet hers, there was a dark hungry look that she had never seen before, and it made her stomach twist deep down inside and she felt hot moisture run from her sex and soak her underwear.
Edward closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, “No...We can’t.” He hissed.
Bella wondered to whom he was speaking.
“Don’t you like kissing me?” She asked sweetly, she was feeling confused now, he’d made the appreciative moaning noises that she liked to hear.
“Of course I do,” he said sounding hurt, “It’s not that.”
Bella inched closer and put her arms around his neck, immediately he was intoxicated by her heat, her heady scent, and her breasts that were pressed against his chest. She kissed along his jaw and neck, feeling the stubble; she poked the tip of her tongue out and dragged it across his salty skin.
Edward quivered and groaned; she felt the vibration in his chest.
He kept still, like a statue, daring not to move, holding onto every last ounce of willpower he had, Bella continued to kiss and lick his sensitive skin, ruffling his hair and scratching her nails over his scalp. His erection strained painfully against the confines of his riding breeches, and his hands itched to explore every inch of her body.
A groan involuntarily left his throat, which only seemed to drive her on, he looked down at her as she moved down his body and brazenly opened his shirt, her pale skin was flushed and glowed with a thin sheen of perspiration.
Bella closed her eyes and inhaled his manly scent as she nuzzled his chest, pressing her lips to his burning skin, over and over again.
He could feel his resolve begin to crumble, as the exquisite sensation of her mouth touched his body enflaming him with desire.
“Please, Edward...I need...” she couldn’t finish the sentence as she didn’t know yet what she needed.
It was too much for him; he growled and rolled them over as his last ounce of willpower dissolved.
Bella found herself beneath him, her legs spread and his body pressing lightly into hers, there was some degree of satisfaction already as she enjoyed the weight of him on top of her. She could feel his member, which was enflamed with lust for her, pressing in to her body, but she hungered for more.
Her uncle hadn’t had many belongings, but he did have a collection of books which had showed her the basic anatomy of the male and female bodies and how they fit together. He had numerous others in his collection, more erotic in nature, Bella wished she had paid closer attention and read them now, instead of dismissing them as disgusting.
Edward lay over the top of her, panting and supporting his body with his arms, he hadn’t meant it to go this far, but the look of desire in her eyes and the way she had asked him, pleaded for him, he knew she was still a virgin, as he was, but she couldn’t possibly know what she was asking for. He would go to hell if he took her innocence from her here, today; she deserved better than this.
Bella could see the indecision in his eyes and reached up and pulled him down hard on top of her, his mouth crushed hers in a passionate embrace and his clothed, solid member made contact with her enflamed sex. Even through the cotton material of her riding skirt and silky knickers, she could feel his divine length; she writhed so he moved against her, causing exquisite friction where she needed it the most.
“Oh, oh yes, there...” She whimpered and trembled.
Edward probed her mouth with his tongue, showing her how kissing could be more intimate and sensual, which enflamed her pussy even more, he groaned approvingly as she tentatively put her tongue into his mouth. She was rewarded as he ground his hips harder against her heated centre.
“Oh yes, Edward,” she cried, clawing, pulling, thrusting frantically against him, she needed something, but it was just out of her reach.
He was driven on, grinding into her covered pussy, he could feel her heat emanating through her clothing and his name uttered on the brink of pleasure brought him close to his orgasm.
Bella’s ascent stopped when she reached the point of highest altitude, where the air was thinnest, she was dizzy from her lack of oxygen when she began to fall, spinning, head over heels, fireworks and stars exploding, her whole body filled with divine rapture. She heard herself scream incoherently, over and over as the pleasure consumed her from her scalp to her toes. Edward followed seconds after, as joy united them, exploding from his body draining him, leaving him quivering and euphoric in the arms of his love.
“Bella,” Mrs Cullen carefully approached her, their relationship was taking a little longer to heal, perhaps it was due to the fact she had been a little on the frosty side with Bella in the beginning. “My husband has spoken to me about you wanting an official position of employment within the household.”
“Yes, Mrs Cullen,” Bella replied politely.
“We’ve spoken at length with Mrs Clearwater and we would be happy if you split your time equally between housework and your education.”
Bella tried to interrupt, thinking they were making a special consideration for her.
“Please,” Mrs Cullen held up her hand, stopping Bella before she could start. “Education is a great gift that will aid you in the future and Alice is benefitting greatly from your point of view and company. I like having you there too.” She added quietly.
“Thank you,” Bella agreed with a smile; much to Mrs Cullen’s delight.
Truthfully, Bella loved receiving her education; the Cullen’s had a fine library and a marvellous collection of literature, which they had granted her access to at all times. The latest novel was recommended by Alice and was written by a woman, ‘Jane Austen,’ the book was called, Pride and Prejudice. Bella found when she picked the novel up she was transported to within the pages, losing herself for hours at a time, likening herself to the protagonist, Elizabeth Bennett, and trying hard not to put Edward into Mr Darcy’s shoes, which she failed miserably every time.
“Bella, I hope you will allow me to explain and apologise for myself,” Mrs Cullen began, bringing Bella back to the present. “Would you take a walk with me?”
Bella nodded, it would be hypercritical not to at least listen, as she had forgiven her son.
The sky was a brilliant blue and the sun shone brightly as walked together through the rose garden, the sweet perfume hung heavy on the last of the dying blooms and the air was crisp and damp, both women pulled their woollen shawls tighter around their shoulders.
“I love this time of year, I find it to be the most beautiful,” Mrs Cullen, inhaled deep. “Nature puts on its final spectacular show before winter comes.”
Bella listened, she had been quiet for so long, it had become part of her personality, if it wasn’t necessary to say anything, she was happy to stay quiet; Bella wasn’t one of those frivolous girls who liked to talk for the sake of talking. She looked around and understood what Mrs Cullen meant; she, too, enjoyed the colours, smells, and even the bite in the air.
“I have no excuse for my behaviour other than the influences of the times we find ourselves in,” she hung her head in chagrin and wrung her hands together in front of her. “But I see times are changing for women, perhaps in other areas of our society too, so I find I must change. What I thought and said to Edward was terribly wrong and bigoted of me, and I am so ashamed of myself.”
Bella felt her own emotion rise as Mrs Cullen began to crumble under the weight of her heartfelt apology.
“I ask you to find it in yourself to please forgive me, I can’t begin to forgive myself if you haven’t, or can’t.” She turned suddenly to Bella, her eyes were wide and brimming with unshed tears, she took both the younger girl’s hands in her own.
Bella swallowed and nodded, “Of course I’ve forgiven you,” she answered in a small voice.
“Thank you,” Mrs Cullen sobbed, and then she threw her arms around Bella’s shoulders and pulled her into a tight embrace.
Leah watched the exchange from an upper floor window, from Edward’s rooms; no one would question the maid as to why she stood in his room. If only they knew how much of her time she spent in there when he was out, touching his clothing, touching herself, laying across his bed and smelling his pillow, thinking of ways she could be intimate with him once again.
Before she came, Leah had staked her claim, it was small, but surely he knew of the lengths she was prepared to go to, to be with him. She had hoped to become something more to Master Cullen, after the incident in the bath. Her body and heart ached for him to take her and make her his in any way he could manage, she required no more from him, she just wanted to be close and love him in her way. But now, he showed he was capable of love across the class divide, Leah was incensed that he had not looked her way, because Bella had arrived and cast her gypsy magic, causing him to be spellbound.
Edward waited patiently every morning for Bella to arrive with her brother; they had taken up residence in the cottage adjoining their property as agreed in Emmett’s employment conditions. It had been suggested that they both continue to stay in the house, Edward and Rosalie had championed that cause, it was the first time they had ever agreed on anything.
But Bella flatly refused, she felt boundaries were blurred enough, without them living under the same roof; Emmett went along with his sister’s decision, although by the look on his face, he was clearly upset by it.
So Edward managed to make her promise to have her meals in the dining room with him, Bella laughed and agreed to his terms, especially when he said he would refuse to eat if she wasn’t by his side; she liked nothing better than spending her time with him.
“Good morning,” he beamed and rose from his chair when she entered and lit up the whole room.
Bella smiled demurely back at him, “Good morning, Edward,” she purred and the sound of his name falling from her lips did erotic things to his body, he tried not to think like that.
He took her hand like a gentleman and kissed it, such a small innocent act caused a riot with Bella’s hormones.
After they had been close physically, the day of the picnic, her curiosity had been stoked and she began pushing the more intimate area of their relationship. He had ensured he was never left alone with her, not that he didn’t want to; it was quite the opposite, he wanted very much to be alone with her, but he knew his willpower would only survive for so long. He was also aware of how fragile one’s reputation could be, especially a woman’s, he needed her to be absolutely sure of her feelings for him, before he was physically intimate with her. He thought of Bella as so delicate and fragile, he wanted to protect her, keep her from the vicious gossip and ridicule of the townsfolk.
He realised looking back how his body and heart had known what she was to him before his mind had registered, recognised, and accepted.
He had felt the connection from the first day in the woods, when their eyes met, he had felt the flow of electricity between them when he tended her injuries, and, even then, his mind had constantly kept bringing her to the forefront.
He had prepared to fight and die if necessary, when they’d gone to rescue her from her abusive uncle, using his own body as a shield, he remembered as every ounce of his being had sung out to be near to her, to protect, and hold her, even when he refused to believe it. His body had hummed in contentment as he held her close during the walk back to the house, she completed him in ways he never knew were possible and he still grieved that he denied her, he’d denied himself.
Then he left for London, her absence had served to drive him further into insanity, reaching the point where she was all he could think of, waking or sleeping.
His sanity was safe for now, as his heart and soul rested knowing she was near, but a new temptation was sent to torment him. His mind and body were plagued with thoughts of a desirous and erotic nature, waking, and sleeping; his mind continually replayed the images of Bella finding her release as they lay together in the meadow. He could still hear her utter his name in rapture, he could still feel the heat that emanated from between her thighs, through her clothing and he could feel her tremble as joy claimed her.
Edward spent most of his days in a state of arousal, he was spending great periods of time alone in his room, taking his swollen cock in his fist and desperately relieving himself; only to catch of glimpse of her smile or hear his name fall from her perfect pink mouth and he was enflamed with lust once again. So he threw himself into his studies; that was the only thing that could quell his ardour and offer his beaten member some respite.
“Do you want to take me for a picnic at lunch time?” Bella asked, popping a piece of toast and jam into her mouth, he watched as she licked the ruby coloured preserves from her lips.
Edward felt his manhood swell and twitch, he groaned and closed his eyes; his whole body was pulsing and throbbing with need. “I don’t think it’s a good idea that we’re left alone,” he whispered. Images flooded his mind of Bella naked and beneath him, he imagined himself sinking into her wet heat as she whispered his name.
“Why?” She asked coyly, snapping him back from his lust filled thoughts.
“Bella, please, I might not be able to control myself next time.” He looked at her with a look of desperation.
“Then don’t,” she whispered back.
“No, we can’t,” he growled in hushed tones, glancing sideways at Emmett, making sure he hadn’t overheard.
She watched as he stood, discreetly adjusted himself, bent to kiss her forehead and left the room, calling as he went he would see her at lunchtime, in the dining room as usual, Bella pouted, she was tired of not getting what she wanted.
Luckily Emmett was too wrapped up in his breakfast and Rosalie, to notice anything of the exchange between them, but Rosalie didn’t miss a thing; and flashed a knowing look at Bella, as Edward left.
Bella was experiencing her first taste of true freedom, feeling as the whole world was ahead of her, she felt as though her heart mind and spirit could run, jump, and sing; she felt as if she was a freed bird that had been caged for too long and she was never going to be trapped again.
It wasn’t the world she wanted to explore, as was the usual with people feeling trapped; she had already travelled to exotic locations, set foot on foreign lands, seen the wonders the world offered, that others her age could only dream of.
Bella longed to explore who she was, with Edward Cullen, she wanted to experience love in all its divine glory, with this man she was head over heels in love with.
Life had been unkind to her, taking the ones she loved and cared for too early, and she was not about to waste time with rules set down in society by people, governments, or by God, she decided to live her life to the fullest, she was revelling in her rebellion.
“Are you sure it’s something you want to do?” Rosalie questioned with a look of barely concealed disgust on her face, how anyone could desire her cousin was beyond her thinking
“I’m sure,” Bella blushed.
“What’s the problem?”
“Edward, he doesn’t want to spoil me, or my reputation.”
“I don’t often side with him, but he does have a point, he’s only protecting you.”
“But, what about you and Emmett?”
“I’m different, stronger, I’m in control, I see what I want and get it, and I want Emmett.” Rosalie smiled softly at her own words and her gaze drifted to some intimate memory of her lover. She shook her head slightly, clearing the thoughts that passed through her mind. “I do love him Bella and he loves me.”
Bella smiled, “I know.”
Emmett was a changed man, since Rosalie appeared in his life, he was focused on his work, Bella knew he was trying hard to impress and prove he would be a good provider. He laughed a lot more, he was always jolly and tried to see the best in every situation, but Bella couldn’t remember hearing him laugh so much, but that could also be attributed to their living situation; as well as Rosalie.
“The difference between Edward and me is that I don’t care what people say or think about me.” Rosalie continued with a shrug, “It makes my life easier.”
“What do I do?”
“Make him forget about everyone else, and when the gossip starts, because it will, you have to be the strong one, Bella.”
Thanks to js18 & princess(RAH)07890 for doing a sterling job beta'ing for me xxx
“Clevedon Beach, do you know it?” Dr. Cullen enquired of Bella and Emmett over breakfast.
“No,” Emmett answered, showing everyone his mouthful of scrambled eggs, Bella glared, she had become more sensitive and refined after spending so much of her time around the Cullen’s, not that she was ever rude or impolite, but it appeared that Emmett was immune to picking up the correct table etiquette.
“S-sorry,” he stammered with a red face, putting his hand up to shield his mouth, which made Bella feel guilty for glaring.
“We go every year, it’s kind of a family tradition, we take the train and spend the day on the sand, paddle in the sea, have fish and chips, it’s divine,” frothed Alice, bouncing up and down, clapping her hands excitedly.
“Oh, I understand, well, me and Bella...” He grabbed her hand in a show of unity, “...would only be too happy to take care of things until you get back, it’s the least we can do.” Bella nodded in agreement.
Neither one could understand the look of confusion that crossed all the Cullen’s faces, followed by a guffaw of laughter, which was led by Dr. Cullen.
Emmett blushed red at his lack of understanding and Bella felt hurt, thinking that they didn’t trust them enough to take care of their house while they were away.
“I’m sorry,” Dr. Cullen began, “I am not making myself understood, when I say we, I mean all of us.” He made a circle in the air with his finger as he spoke. “You’re included.”
Bella boarded the train with butterflies in her stomach; the women seated themselves while the men loaded the baskets full of delicious food; which Mrs Clearwater had lovingly prepared for their picnic lunch. Bella tried not to let the thought of her previous picnic invade her mind. Alice was far too inquisitive and, if she were to start blushing now, she’d be pestered from here to the beach, Bella felt sure she would have to confess all, just to shut her up. So, to distract herself, she observed the people around her, the housekeeper sat alongside Mrs Cullen, chatting animatedly. Bella watched. It was a heart-warming sight; they looked like two good friends, not employer and employee.
“I can’t believe this time next week, I will be a married woman,” Alice sighed as Jasper boarded the train; he scanned the carriage until he caught sight of Alice. Bella watched his face radiate with the love he felt for his fiancée.
Bella was curious to why the wedding had been planned so hastily, and Dr. Cullen had been the driving force, pushing the Vicar to marry them as soon as the banns could be read in church, he seemed in more of a hurry than Alice.
“Are you feeling well?” Bella pried, hoping that Alice would share any news she might have, discreetly looking her up and down, she wasn’t carrying more weight than usual.
“Oooo, I’m so excited; I love Clevedon Beach, and my wedding is next week, and you’re going to be a bridesmaid and wear a pretty dress and a bonnet and...”
“I have to wear a bonnet?” Bella squealed in horror, forgetting her mission to pry any bit of gossip from Alice.
Emmett appeared next with a delicate looking Mrs. Hale in his huge arms; he made her look smaller than she actually was. The family had convinced her that the sea air was just what she needed, and Dr. Cullen had declared that, as her physician, she must come with them. Emmett carefully placed her in the seat opposite Mrs. Cullen and Mrs. Clearwater and Rosalie appeared with a blanket for her mother’s lap, tucking it in securely around her.
Bella saw the affection that Mrs Hale held for her brother; she reached up and he bent down, so that she could reach and stroke his cheek, Rosalie looked on with pride and love.
“Thank you Emmett.”
“That’s ok mother,” she heard him say, Bella looked around in surprise, no one else seemed to have heard, or be bothered at what he had called her.
She blushed as a thought popped into her head, would she be calling Mrs Cullen mother one day?
Mrs Hale had insisted that he called her mother, their relationship had flourished and grown, he was part of the Hale family now, she knew this man was destined to be her son-in-law, and she wished they would hurry and marry soon. It would be good to see both her children happy, and wed before she left this mortal coil.
Dr. Cullen and Edward boarded next, struggling between them, carrying the cumbersome basket style chair, with wheels, that Mrs. Hale was moved around in.
Once inside the carriage, Edward scanned the compartment until his eyes locked on Bella’s, she felt warmth flood her being as his face lit up, like Jasper’s did when he looked upon Alice; her heart leapt and her body began to melt in intimate places.
Jasper and Edward seated themselves opposite Bella and Alice as the train sounded its whistle, signalling its departure from the station.
Not a word was exchanged by either couple; they just gazed into each other’s eyes and smiled as they headed towards the coast. The clickity-clack of the engine mimicked the throb and pulse of their heartbeats, the vibration’s hummed through their bodies, as metal wheels ground against metal tracks, which served to heighten their excitement.
There was a gasp of surprise and a few giggles, as the train entered a tunnel and they were all engulfed in total darkness.
Bella struggled to see in the total blackness.
“Shhh,” a velvety voice whispered close to her ear, sending goosebumps across her skin, then a soft, full mouth pressed against hers in a very gentle kiss, then too quickly it was gone. In seconds, they were back in the bright sunlight and she was blinking against the bright light.
A ghost of a smile played across Edward’s lips; Bella began to think perhaps he wasn’t the one who had kissed her, and then he winked.
“Do I need to be aware of any more tunnels?” She asked with a smile.
Emmett looked wide eyed through the window, watching the blur of green as the county-side whizzed by them, he was exhilarated at the speed at which they moved, it wasn’t as good as horse-riding, but it came in a close second.
Bridge!” He shouted out random things excitedly as he spotted each one.
Rosalie watched him with undisguised love at his childlike enjoyment, swept up in his joy as though it were her first train ride.
Mrs Hale giggled too, Emmett had wormed his way into her heart with ease; she could see why her daughter had fallen head over heels in love with him. He was good and honest, with a heart of gold.
“Don’t you mind?” Her dear friend, Esme, whispered in her ear, nodding towards Rosalie and Emmett.
Dora smiled and shook her head, “How can I mind, look at her.”
Esme looked at Rosalie and she saw the love evident in her face.
“But he’s uneducated and poor and from different...breeding.”
“Rosalie doesn’t need a man with money, she has enough of her own, he’s more educated than you realise, he reads, writes, he’s worldly in ways we will never be, and as for breeding- well, stuff it.”
Esme gasped at Dora’s sudden use of gutter language.
Dora laughed at Esme’s look of shock, “He has finer manners than most gentlemen I have come across, and he treats her like a princess, he makes her happy and he’ll care for her long after I have gone, what more could I want for my daughter?”
“What about the gossip?” Esme whispered.
“It won’t bother Rosalie it will be like water off a duck’s back, I can’t see it bothering Emmett; so why should I let it bother me?”
“I wish I had your outlook,” Esme glanced sideways at her son and Bella; she had accepted their love, but was still fearful of their future together, the possible reprisals that could hurt them or her family.
“They might be fodder for gossip for a week or two, but it’ll soon be forgotten, it will strengthen Edward, give him some backbone, you have mothered him for too long, Esme.” She chastised her friend, who looked a little hurt, she felt a little sorry for her harsh words and reached across and grabbed her hand. “I think I need to put you in touch with a good friend of mine from Manchester, Mrs Pankhurst, she is a great inspiration to women all over Great Britain, you should go and hear her speak.”
Mrs Clearwater sat in silence and listened to the two women converse, she longed to share and lighten the load she carried; her heart was breaking over her own son. If news came out about him, it wouldn’t just be a little bit of gossip that would blow over in a few days or weeks, it would follow him around for a lifetime. He would be an outcast, beaten, ridiculed, or even killed for his desires. He was doomed to live a double life, forever fighting to keep his secret, so she remained tight lipped.
The air smelled different by the coast, salty, damp, seaweed, salt and vinegar from the nearby fish and chip stand. Bella closed her eyes, the wind was bitter against her cheeks, but it felt good, like it was cleansing her somehow, she could hear the waves lapping against the sand and feel the cold water licking at her toes, it was far too cold a day to venture into the water. She and Emmett were the only ones brave enough to have removed their footwear to walk on the sand, and she was the only one to come this close to the sea. Seagulls screeched above her, Bella kept her eyes closed and just listened, it was something she liked to do; it was something she did with her father when she was small, it made her feel close to him once again.
She heard him long before he stood beside her, her body tingled at his close proximity; Bella opened her eyes and smiled at him.
“I didn’t mean to disturb you,” he said quietly, looking out across the green-grey ocean.
“What were you doing?” Edward asked.
Bella smiled, “Listening.”
He frowned a little.
“Close your eyes,” she instructed, he smirked as he did as she asked. “Just listen.”
They stood beside each other in silence with their eyes closed. The gulls continued to screech above them, the waves lapped on the sand, distant sounds of voices, music from the pier, the clank, clank, clank of the bell around the donkey’s necks as they passed, giving giggling children rides.
Even with all the background noise, it was an intimate moment, like they were the only ones there.
“I used to do it with my father when we went out hunting and foraging.”
Edward looked at her and waited, she hadn’t really spoken about her family, other than Emmett.
She continued, wanting to talk, wanting to share Edward about her father.
“We liked to listen to the songbirds when we were in the woods...” Edward’s heart warmed as she smiled and her eyes sparkled, at the memories of good times. “...He could tell which bird it was by its song.”
It was as if the floodgates had opened, she told Edward of her earliest memories, the stories her father told her and Emmett, how he taught her to hunt, fish, and ride, how he’d met and fallen in love with her mother. Bella allowed the tears to form and fall; it had felt like a long time since she had thought of her parents.
Edward pressed his cotton handkerchief into her hand and quickly wrapped his arms around her, warming her through with his body heat. This was not something a gentleman usually did in public, and he was sure that his mother would have something to say about it later, but he would be ready for her. Bella needed him and he promised he would always be there for her, he wanted to be her protector; he longed to be more to her.
She stirred something in him, he could feel it bubbling to the surface, he couldn’t put it into words, it was like an urge to break free, rebel, but against what?
“Thank you,” she sniffled, confirming he had done the right thing.
Edward felt her body stiffen slightly, and he released her before looking into her sweet face, he was suddenly struck by the depth of feeling he had for her. He had long suspected he loved her and he had denied it for the longest time, now his heart filled to overflowing and he wanted to declare it from the rooftops.
“I think we’d better get back to your family,” she dabbed the hankie at her eyes, “They’ll be wondering what I’ve done with you.”
“I think they know,” laughed Edward cynically, he could feel his mother’s eyes boring into him from across the beach. He smiled in amusement at Bella; he suddenly had a wonderful idea, it was the beginning of his rebellion, he held out his hand to her. “Would you hold my hand?”
Bella frowned for a second in confusion and looked fleetingly towards his family.
“Please,” he asked again, “They need to get used to the idea of...us.”
She was sure there was a less public way of doing this, but felt the need to support him. His hand wavered as though he might remove it from her and she felt panic set in, so she reached out and took it quickly.
“You’re wicked, you know.”
“I am?” He grinned.
She was struck by how utterly handsome he was, his green eyes glinted mischievously, she decided then she liked playful Edward, they walked back towards the family, swinging their joined hands between them.
As they got closer, he could see his mother was avoiding looking at them, his father raised his eyebrows and shook his head slightly, but there was a hint of a smile. Mrs Hale looked positively giddy, as did Alice and Mrs Clearwater. It was Emmett he should have been worried about, firstly he was starving, and had to wait for them to stop mooning over each other before they could start eating, and then they had hugged publicly and continued with the public affection, walking hand in hand across the beach, had he forgotten she was his sister? Emmett felt a small amount of satisfaction when he saw Edward reach up and feel at his jaw.
Emmett soon forgot about Edward and Bella when Rosalie unpacked the baskets, and distracted him with pork pie, scotch eggs, sandwiches, and cake, he relaxed further when he consumed large amounts of cider. Sated and dozy, he found himself with his head in Rosalie’s lap, he drifted while she hummed a sweet melody, his eyes closed and he dreamed of his mother, as she nursed him, singing some long forgotten lullaby.
When Emmett opened his eyes, it was just him and Rosalie in their little area of the beach, Jasper and Alice had taken Mrs Hale along the pier to watch the puppet show, Bella and Edward had ventured into the funfair, taking Seth with them, he would have been happier staying on the sand watching Emmett sleep, but Rosalie had frowned at him.
Mr and Mrs Clearwater had taken a walk along the front to find the best fish and chip shop for later and Dr. And Mrs Cullen were walking side by side at the water’s edge.
Emmett felt a lump rise in his throat that she had stayed here with him, letting him sleep in her lap; he was touched beyond words at this simple action. She had made him feel safe, protected, and cared for, he liked it and he wanted her in his life forever.
“Hello sleepy,” she cooed down at him, her golden hair fell in soft ringlets around her face and the sun back lit her, giving the illusion of a halo; she was stunning.
“Beautiful,” he whispered sincerely, reaching up to gently touch her hair.
“You’re still dreaming,” she laughed, men telling her that she was beautiful was such a common occurrence; it meant nothing to Rosalie, but the words from his mouth were different, she felt the honesty behind them.
“I love you Rosalie,” he said, moving quickly until he was on his knees in front of her, she gasped at his suddenness. “You mean the world to me and I want to be with you forever, I have nothing to offer you...” Emmett grabbed her hands and pulled them towards his chest, “...But myself, always.”
Rosalie held her breath anticipating the next words out of his mouth. “Would you consent to be my wife?”
She didn’t have to think of an answer, for a long time now she knew her heart belonged to him, as his belonged to her.
“Yes, of course, I will,” she answered with a smile, “You are more than enough for me.”
Emmett grinned triumphantly and quickly looked around to make sure no one was looking, he didn’t want to offend his bride-to-be so soon, when he was confident, he leaned forward to kiss her chastely. Rosalie had other ideas and threw her arms around his neck and kissed him until he was left gasping for breath.
Edward’s heart rejoiced as he watched Bella’s eyes grow huge in wonder; her illuminated face followed the garlands of garishly coloured bunting, which flapped around like birds wings in the sea air. Her head snapped back and forth to find the source of the musical sounds of the carousel or the organ grinder with his monkey; she was entranced by the bright lights and attractions of the fair. He saw her eyes close and her nostrils flare as she breathed deep, taking in the scent around her, candy floss, fish and chips, seafood and the sawdust beneath their feet. He could feel her body vibrating with excitement.
“I’ve never been to a funfair before,” she whispered breathily. This was nothing like the street markets she was use to.
Her eyes opened and they were filled with joy and childlike innocence that wrenched at his heart, he desired to experience so much with her.
They wandered into the crowd, cockney boys called, adding to the hustle and bustle, challenging the men to show their strength or skill, from their brightly painted stalls.
“’Ear, throw the ‘oops on the spike and win ya sweetheart a teddy bear, guv.”
“Hook a duck and win a baby doll, for your doll.” Edward smiled as Bella blushed pink at being called his doll.
“Knock down all the cans, win a prize every time.”
Fancy painted script adorned the sides stalls, such as Harry’s Hoopla, Tin Can Alley, and Hook-a-Duck; all tempting patrons with the promise of grand prizes if they should succeed at the penny games.
He lead Bella to the, ‘Coconut Shy,’ where a penny was exchanged for three balls.
“Three throws, knock three coconuts off, mister,” the boy gestured grandly with his arm while bowing and backing away, leaving Edward with a view of the various randomly placed coconuts on stands. He’d done this before, his aim was fair, but with Bella by his side he felt as though he had something to prove, this was a display of his masculinity, and suddenly, he felt very nervous. It’s just a stupid game, he thought.
He threw the first, hard, and it struck the closest, knocking it clean off the stand.
“Yes,” Bella clapped excitedly, she was surprised that such a simple game had awoken such feelings of excitement inside of her.
Edward looked at his sweetheart, puffed his chest proudly and took aim and threw the second, it was a little further away, but his aim was true and the second coconut toppled and fell to the ground.
Bella squealed in delight and jumped up and down as she clapped this time.
Edward held the last ball up in front of Bella, “For luck,” he requested.
She smiled at him and leaned towards the ball and planted a kiss on it. Edward took a deep breath and threw the last ball, his aim was slightly off and it clipped the coconut causing it to wobble. There was a chorus of ‘ahh, ahh, ahh,’ before the nut finally fell from its stand; both Edward and Bella lost themselves momentarily and jumped around excitedly. When they noticed the bemused stares from onlookers they both ceased their display, and laughing turned back to the vendor.
“A coconut for the winner.”
Edward stared at the coarse, brown, hairy nut in his hand; wishing he’d chosen a game that would have won him something pretty for his Bella.
“I love coconut,” she exclaimed, sensing his disappointment in the unattractive hairy prize, she was rewarded with a breathtaking smile, which lit up his whole face.
“You do?” He asked, sounding more than a little relieved.
Edward held tight to Bella’s hand, he was pleased she’d allowed him to take it again, and he thought it was most fortunate; he felt sure he would have lost her in the crowd; she pulled him along eagerly- desperately taking in all the fair had to offer.
Seth had left them at the entrance, wanting to try his chances on the shooting range, then he mentioned the boxing, Bella screwed her nose up at that suggestion. So they parted, after making arrangements to meet up later by the Ghost Train.
After spending some of his money at the shooting range, Seth eagerly made for the tent that housed boxing; matches were arranged at intervals through the evening, and there were opportunities for the public to win prize money if they should last ten minutes in the ring with one of the boxers.
A bout had just ended as he entered the dimly lit tent, the intoxicating smell of tobacco smoke and sweat filled his nostrils, he paid his money and found a good place to watch the next fight. Negotiations were taking place for an extremely handsome young man with jet black hair and pale brown skin to take to the ring, Seth’s interest peaked.
“We ‘ave a visitor to our shores who fancies ‘is chances in the ring,” a voice boomed out from the darkness, and a light illuminated the ring. “Let’s ‘ear a warm welcome for Jacob.”
The space was filled with cheers and clapping, Seth watched with interest as the latest contenders entered the ring, the dark haired challenger removed his shirt, revealing his toned torso and well defined biceps. Seth took notice of the tattoos that adorned his huge arms, there were maritime in design, ‘a sailor?’ He smiled.
“This way,” Edward instructed, taking the lead, he spotted where he wanted to take her next.
The golden horses of the carousel were bewitching as they galloped gracefully around, accompanied by the uplifting melody of the pipe organ. They watched together as riders moved up and down to the music, laughing, smiling, and waving to love ones who watched and waited. At last it was their turn; Edward lifted Bella by the waist and onto a highly decorated, wooden horse, and then seated himself with ease onto the animal next to her.
She could hardly contain her excitement as the ride began, the loud music resonated within her chest; she laughed and threw her head back as the horse began its ascent and descent moving in opposition to Edward’s. He was enthralled by her beauty, her head thrown back freely; tendrils of mahogany hair had broken loose of their bindings and grips, and danced around in the breeze.
“Oh, Edward, this is marvellous,” she exclaimed.
He just stared in awe.
Bella just held on to her toffee apple and gawped with an open mouth, the big wheel moved slowly round, it made her stomach somersault just watching. She had never seen one up this close before, it was huge, majestic, a giant, words failed her.
“You’ll love it,” he reassured, her grip on his hand had just got a lot tighter. “You can see from the clouds, just like a bird.”
It wasn’t long before they were seated inside the small carriage for two, Bella emitted a small squeak of delight as they rocked back and forth, the wheel moved and they made their ascent. She grabbed Edward’s hand even harder; butterflies filled both their stomachs for different reasons, hers was through the excitement of a brand new experience and his was the thought of kissing her, if the opportunity should present itself.
He took great pleasure and moved closer to her, putting a protective arm around her shoulders, for he was glad to relieve his hand from her grip as the blood ceased to reach the tips of his fingers. She offered no resistance, and he felt her relax into his side as they moved slowly higher, the wheel stopped and started allowing passengers on and off.
“Oh my goodness,” she exclaimed in wonder, “It’s so beautiful, you can see right over the ocean, look Edward,” Bella pointed out the small fishing boat on the horizon and the lighthouse on the rocks.
He grinned at her exuberant charm, feeling the excitement course through him; it was almost as if it travelled through her and into him, like a current, charging him.
They giggled together as he pointed out the small ‘ant like’ people and the donkeys still working hard along the seafront.
“Can we see Emmett and Rosalie on the sand,” she exclaimed a little too loudly and then put her hand over her mouth in embarrassment, she was sure that the other passengers could hear her. The wheel was filling up with lovers, too wrapped up in each other, to pay attention to the excited dark haired girl and her beau.
“Thank you,” she gushed when they reached the top, they were given a few precious, private moments alone at the top of the world. Bella turned as she spoke to him and realised just how close he was to her, their noses were almost touching. Energy continued to flow between them; without thinking she moved closer and brushed her lips against his. Her intentions were just a small, thank you peck, but once they touched, it ignited the fire that flickered in the both of them and the innocent kiss turned into a passionate, breathtaking embrace, that awoke every fibre of their bodies. The wheel jerked as it began its descent, alerting the both of them; they pulled back from their kiss with blushes and frantically beating hearts, amazed at how quickly desirous emotions were evoked within the both of them. The wheel turned once more, upon reaching the summit, they took advantage of the privacy and embraced once again, when it was time for them to leave the ride, both their faces radiated the joy and excitement that they felt.
“What next?” She enquired, hoping there would be an opportunity for more stolen kisses.
“Helter Skelter,” he answered grabbing her by the hand and running them towards the stripy red and white turret.
Bella hesitated, and frowned in confusion, as she was given the coarse hessian mat and was taken by her hand towards the staircase.
“Come on,” Edward beckoned to her, taking both their mats and then disappeared up the winding stairs, she could hear his chuckle as she followed behind him, only catching up to him when he stopped at the top to wait for her, she still didn’t know what to expect at the top.
He stood by a small opening grinning as Bella approached him, luckily, they were alone and boldly, he reached forward, took her face in his hands, and kissed her full and deep on the lips, before she could draw a breath, he jumped onto his mat and slid out of view, still laughing. Dizzy from the embrace or was it the height of the Helter Skelter? She cautiously boarded her own mat and manoeuvred into position. Bella found herself squealing and laughing as the wind rushed against her face and she travelled at speed down the length of the curved wooden slide, exiting at the bottom, where Edward greeted her with an equally huge grin across his handsome face.
“How exhilarating,” she beamed.
“Again?” He asked, helping her to her feet.
Edward was completely taken by surprise, as she reached up and kissed his cheek before running for the stairs. “Catch me,” she challenged.
Valuable seconds passed as he stood with his fingers pressed against his cheek, a cough from the boy tending the slide brought him out of his reverie. He glanced towards the grinning youth who just nodded back at him and then towards the stairs, Edward turned and sprinted to the sound of laughter, taking the stairs two at a time. His long gait enabled him to catch up with her in seconds, but he held back until they reached the top, where he grabbed her by the waist and spun her in his arms.
“What was that for?”
“What?” She asked feigning innocence.
“Didn’t you like it?” She pouted, tilting her head down.
“I liked it very much, Bella Swan.” He replied using a finger under her chin to tilt her face up towards his.
“Would you like another one?” She teased; the atmosphere was heavy and charged; she could feel the swell of his manhood pressed against her, as they stood in the enclosed space at the top of the slide. She moved to rub herself wantonly against him, causing a groan to fall from his lips.
Bella smiled knowingly and his eyes darkened with want, making the butterflies stir, deep down inside of her.
The sound of approaching footsteps from the staircase broke the spell between them; Edward glanced away, when he looked back, he just caught sight of her sliding from sight.
A curse word fell silently from his lips; he desired another kiss from his temptress, more than anything else in this world, so he followed swiftly behind.
The musical sound of her giggles and flushed face greeted him as he reached the end of the Helter Skelter, it was the most wonderful sound he thought he’d ever heard, it was a sound he wanted to hear from her forever. That moment it was clear to him, he was meant to love Bella Swan, she was put on this earth for him and he, for her; he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life making her happy, making her laugh.
Beaming broadly, Bella skipped over with both hands outstretched to aid Edward to his feet, she felt happier than she could ever remember. Her heart was soaring, life was good, she was learning; she felt like she had a future and he was smiling at her from the foot of the slide.
Edward grabbed her outstretched hands and assisted, as she made exaggerated heaving noises as she pulled him to his feet.
“Ghost train,” she demanded, trying to pull him in the direction of their next ride, but he remained motionless.
“What’s the matter?” Bella frowned, noticing Edward’s face was looking rather serious.
“I have something to tell you.”
Bella looked around; the boy looking after the slide was watching from his perch and grinning.
“Do you have to tell me here, we have an audience,” she nodded towards the boy.
“I don’t care who hears me, Bella Swan.” Edward was feeling suddenly very brave and he cared not, who heard him. But Bella’s blush deepened from her usual pink to scarlet, and she bit nervously on her bottom lip, he felt guilty for causing her embarrassment, he had a lot to learn about courtship.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered close to her ear, “I want everyone to know of the depth of my feelings for you, Miss Swan. I am irrevocably in love with you.”
He was greeted by her surprised brown eyes, which quickly softened as her face broke into a smile.
“I have feelings of love for you, too, Edward,” she replied, looking at him from beneath her dark eyelashes.
Now he really did feel like shouting to everyone who would listen, not only did he love her, but she reciprocated his feelings.
“Ghost train,” he said, quickly taking her hand and running them both towards the spooky ride.
She was confused, deliriously happy but confused, as to why he suddenly desired to ride the ghost train after such important declarations. His intentions to her were very clear, as they entered the darkness.
Once inside Edward reached for her face and leant in for a kiss. Their mouths made contact in a searing, passionate embrace, both braver due to the privacy of the blackness, they both fully committed to the kiss with open mouths and curious probing tongues. The carriage moved through silken threads of spider-webs, dancing ghouls, witches, and vampires, bats flew from the ceiling and the dead rose from the grave, but the two were oblivious, too wrapped up in each other to notice. The experience was all the more exciting in a public place and the charged environment.
To onlookers, the flushed and dishevelled looking pair was simply reacting to the delights of the ghastly goings on in the ‘Train of Terror.’
Seth was waiting for them as they left the Ghost Train; by his side was a rather beaten and bloody young man, who was clearly in discomfort.
“Seth?” Edward frowned.
“He needs your help, your father’s help, please, he has no one.”
There was a pleading look on Seth’s face that Edward found himself unable to challenge, so he just nodded once.
It was a slow walk back to the beach, to their parents, and a fish and chip supper, Edward and Bella followed Seth and his new friend, Jacob.
Edward had offered to assist the injured man, but Seth had insisted he was more than capable, alone. Edward had been suddenly put in mind of himself, when he’d insisted on carrying Bella home that night from the woods, not so long ago. Like pieces of a puzzle dropping into place, he found understood Seth a little more that night.
“Edward,” Bella said softly, breaking the deep thought he seemed to in.
“Hmmm,” he smiled at her.
“Would you tell me something?”
“Anything, my love.”
Bella stopped walking, took both his hands in hers and looked seriously at him, “What happened to you when you left? Why did you come back to me?”
Edward wrapped his arm around his beloved as the train gently rocked her to sleep, and looked lovingly at her upturned face, she looked so sweet and innocent and to him everything about her was exquisite. Thick dark lashes that framed her doe brown eyes, were in stark contrast to her creamy white skin, and the pale pinkness of her plump, pouty lips complemented her tone perfectly. Her beauty was natural, there wasn’t anything false about her, and, as far as he was aware, she didn’t even use rouge to colour her cheeks, like other women he’d known. He sighed in contentment, she was his and he was hers and that was the only thing he was sure of in his whole world, and the life he had mapped out in front of him since he’d been a child, was now in question, and he could not have cared less about it; as long as he could be a part of her life.
He cast his mind back to hours before their departure home; when she’d asked him the question he was afraid of.
“Please Edward if we stand a chance of being together, we have to be honest with each other above all else; tell me why you came back.”
He knew she was right, but it grieved him about what he was going to tell her, would she still want him afterwards? He closed his eyes and anxiously dragged his fingers through his hair, “Ok,” he’d reluctantly agreed.
They’d distanced themselves from the rest of their party, eating delicious hot fish and chips, from a sheet of folded newspaper. She waited patiently for him to begin, her stomach churning nervously at the thought of what he might say, but it wasn’t enough to prevent her from consuming her supper.
Edward explained the best he could, his thoughts and feelings from the moment he left her, Bella already knew all this from prior discussions, but she silently waited, sensing his need to work up to the story he was about to tell.
Bella listened with her head low and her eyes averted from him, he wished to see her face, look into her eyes and know what she was thinking. It cut to the quick when he heard her sharp intake of breath, when his tale took a twist and began to grow darker, and more sordid. With a shaky voice, he recalled the moments with shame, inside Kate’s room, and still she kept her gaze from him. He longed for her to say something, shout, cry, anything so he would know how she was feeling. When he’d finished, the air hung thick and silent between them. He was afraid he’d lost her.
“Is there anything else you need to tell me?” Bella whispered.
He almost missed her hushed words. Edward was about to say no when Leah’s face filled his mind, he felt his stomach plummet.
That had been a wholly one sided encounter, that had made no impression on him, and he had been more than happy to forget it. But, recently, he had seen the longing way in which Leah looked at him. She was growing bolder and spending more of her time in close proximity to him, at first, he thought it was a coincidence, but recently he had put his suspicions to the test.
Edward had observed the servants cleaning the library one morning, and had settled himself there to study after they had completed, within moments, Leah was back in the room, apologising for not completing her duties. He had been polite and left her to work, retreating to the safety of his rooms. Within the hour, she was in his room, wide eyed, with her blouse open, revealing her ample cleavage and innocently professing she didn’t know he was there.
“Is there anything I can do for you?” She had asked, her tone full of innuendo, all the time she was running her hand across his back and shoulders.
“Please leave my room, I have to study.” He’d demanded brusquely, not even looking up at her.
Since then he’d endeavoured to avoid her, or be in the earshot of others in the household. He knew he was being a coward and would need to have a discussion with her sooner, rather than later. Truthfully, he cared for her a great deal; she had been with his family her whole life and he didn’t want to cause her pain.
There was a second of indecision, then he recalled Bella’s words and informed her of the liberties taken without his permission, he refrained from informing her that, the erotic dreams he was having at the time were of her, he felt sure it would not assist his cause.
“I am certain she is hoping something more will happen between us,” he added and then he waited.
It made sense to Bella now, the hostility she had been feeling from Leah; even her refusal to attend today’s outing. Leah had watched them leave early that morning, giving Bella a dirty look when no one was observing.
Bella fought with a mixture of emotions as she processed what he had told her.
She was aware she had been most forward asking him- she knew, most men would have laughed in her face and then taken pleasure, boasting of his conquests; and she would have been expected to deal with them. After all, it had always been man’s prerogative to sow his wild oats before settling down. Bella thought Edward was different; he had done as she’d requested and told her everything, he seemed to regret his part in both encounters. She could sense the anxiety coming from him in waves.
She was aware, he was taking a huge risk socially by loving her and confessing it, he had shown affection openly in front of his family and they would all become fodder for gossip in the community, it was all a matter of time.
Bella dug deep within her heart, and despite his small indiscretions, she was hopelessly in love with him, he was so much more than she could have hoped for.
“Thank you for telling me,” she said, jumping from the wall and holding out her hand- to a very worried looking Edward.
Edward lifted his eyes from his sleeping beauty and glanced around the carriage, everyone was consumed with fatigue from their day by the sea. Mrs Hale dozed by the window, wrapped lovingly in her blanket, which Rosalie had tended to. In the seat opposite her, his mother slept with her head jostling against the window; his father gave him a warm smile before gazing out at the darkness.
Alice and Jasper were seated somewhere behind him, with Mr and Mrs Clearwater, and somewhere on the train was Seth and his new friend Jacob, who, somehow, had managed to obtain passage and was on his way home with them.
His gaze came back to the pair in front of him; Rosalie snored gently and lay against Emmett’s huge bicep. Edward took notice of how very big and intimidating Emmett really was, and it appeared he had not finished growing yet. With regular meals, and a loving environment, he’d doubled in size. Edward suddenly found it very difficult to swallow, reluctantly his eyes found Emmett’s, where he was stunned to be greeted with friendliness and warmth.
Emmett had been true to his word and watched Edward these past few weeks, he had observed the way he treated his sister with genuine love and respect; he had seen her advances towards him when they thought they were alone and unseen. Edward had been nothing but kind and honourable and now he held her, and the depth of love and reverence was evident on his face, Emmett could no longer hold a grudge against him; he trusted him to love and care for his young sister.
A nod of understanding was exchanged between the two men. Emmett closed his eyes and nestled his head against Rosalie, his fiancée. He smiled at their secret; they would talk to Rosalie’s mother tomorrow, he had nothing to offer her, not even an engagement ring, Marcus had sold everything of value, he wished he had something left of his mother’s to give her.
“I have nothing to give you,” he’d exclaimed in shame, that afternoon on the beach after he had proposed.
How could he have succumbed in that moment and proposed? But Emmett wore his emotions openly; he had no right to ask her to marry him. But she had accepted, and his heart rejoiced.
Rosalie had chastised him for spoiling a beautiful proposal. “I don’t care for material things Emmett.” She’d declared, rubbing his arm in an attempt to lift his spirits, she was amazed at how quick his mood had gone from euphoric to desolate in seconds.
“You deserve a man who...”
Rosalie interrupted him quickly, “...Can love me for who I am and I deserve to be in love.”
Her words left him speechless and he smiled and nodded, he knew they were meant to be together, he could feel it deep inside; she completed him in every way.
“I have had many chances Emmett, many men have proposed, you are the only one to have captured my heart and I want you.” She put her hand across her heart as if to emphasise her words.
Rosalie was unimpressed by material objects she’d told him, she was wealthy enough to buy whatever she wanted, but all that she really wanted was him. Emmett made a vow to spend the rest of eternity making his Rosalie the happiest woman in the world. They’d sealed the promise with a kiss and decided on a quiet, informal wedding, the weekend after Alice and Jasper’s nuptials.
He promptly fell asleep to the train’s lullaby and dreamed of a life with Rosalie.
Seth and Jacob spoke animatedly on the journey back to Stow, Jacob’s bloody and bruised appearance was garnering curious and unwanted looks from other passengers on the train, and it had forced them to move to an emptier, more private part of the train.
Seth had felt Jacob’s difference the moment he’d rushed to his aid, he hadn’t fared well in the ring, after lasting a respectable five minutes, before being knocked to the canvas floor where he was out for the count. Wobbling from the tent alone, Seth had followed him, rushing to his aid when he lost balance and fell to the floor, their eyes had locked in understanding, when they’d felt the powerful surge of desire between them.
Jacob was weak from hunger and lack of rest, not having eaten properly for days and sleeping on the streets, he had seen an opportunity to earn a little money, but it hadn’t worked out quite as expected.
“My employer is a good man he will take a look at your injuries,” Seth insisted after they had tried to re-enter the boxing tent; it seemed that when Jacob left the tent he negated any obligation the onsite physician had to tend to his injuries, something that no one had informed him of.
“No, I don’t want to be a problem,” Jacob tried to move off, unaided, only to fall against Seth for support.
“I don’t think you have a choice,” insisted Seth and they sat together to wait for Edward and Bella.
Mrs Clearwater had been angry, concerned, and there was a look of panic on her face when her son had brought a relative stranger to them, a bloody, beaten but handsome young man. What have you done? She thought.
Without an explanation, Dr. Cullen checked Jacob’s injuries; he was never off duty and had immediately responded. There was a possibility that a few ribs were cracked and he would need strapping up, but he would be fine, he diagnosed.
“Thank you,” Jacob said painfully, “It was kind of you to take the time.” He nodded his gratitude to the rest of the curious family, then to Mr and Mrs Clearwater he said, “You have raised a gentleman, when no one came to my aid, he did.” Jacob nodded towards Seth, who bowed his head shyly.
Mrs Clearwater felt her heart warm for the young man and she could see the way in which her son looked at him. “Would you care to stay for supper?” The words had left her mouth before she realised.
Seth could barely comprehend the conversation that followed, which led to him being on the train with him that very night and heading for Stow, Seth was filled with warm and happy feelings.
“What do you do, son?” Mr Clearwater asked stuffing his mouth full of chips.
“Until recently, I was at sea,” replied Jacob, looking down at his hands. “I’m good with my hands, you know, fixing machines and things.”
This seemed to impress Mr Clearwater who raised his eyebrows and nodded approvingly, “What ’ya do now?”
Jacob shrugged his shoulders, he went onto explain the ship he arrived on, had been taken by debt collectors, in lieu of monies owed. It seemed the skipper of the ship owed alot of people, alot of money, in several ports. It had been a matter of time before he was caught; Jacob and the rest of the crew had been left stranded and penniless, and no one was accepting responsibility for them. So Jacob had moved down the coast looking for work and sleeping on the streets.
“There’s an opening for a boy back in Stow, fixing, mending and such, I know the owner, good friend of mine, William Black; he’s the blacksmith.”
Jacob hung on every word that came from Mr. Clearwater’s mouth like his life depended on it.
“I can vouch for you boy, if you’re interested?”
“Yes, yes please,” Jacob jumped up, wincing, and taking Mr. Clearwater’s hand in both of his; shaking them enthusiastically, he couldn’t believe his luck was changing.
Mrs Clearwater looked open mouthed at her husband, he rarely spoke to anyone, let alone strangers, then he offered to vouch for him and get him employment. Little did she know and she would never know, wild horses wouldn’t drag the information from him, but Mr Clearwater was aware of his son’s preferences and he wanted him to be happy, discreet, but happy.
“Is there no one back home, worrying about you?” Mrs Clearwater asked, although she had a good idea of what he was going to say.
“No Ma’am, my folks died when I was a baby.”
Leah waited and plotted, it was tearing her up inside to see him with Bella, even thinking her name gave her a bad taste. It was beyond imagination that they thought she could spend a day at the seaside watching her, fawn like a trollop over her Edward. So she feigned a headache, her mother had been concerned enough to offer to stay and care for her.
“No, please go,” Leah insisted, “Bring me back some rock.”
So she watched them go, smiling and waving cordially, flashing Bella a look of distain when she was sure no one else would see.
She was happy when they’d all left, for she could return to Edward’s rooms and her musings. He could love her, he would, and, if they were together intimately, he would feel how much she wanted him, and then he would love her in return, she was certain. She’d wait, concealed in his rooms, tonight, she would give herself to him, and they would be together.
Edward escorted a tired Bella back to the cottage, with orders from his mother to be no more than a few minutes and Emmett had walked Rosalie to her room, he wouldn’t be long.
Bella leaned heavily against him as they walked and she sighed, “I have had the most wonderful time, thank you, Edward Cullen,” she gave a soft little giggle and pulled on his arm until he leant towards her, where she kissed him on the cheek.
“Bella,” Edward felt his heart rise into his throat, and then he dropped to one knee.
All sleepiness was immediately driven from Bella and she was wide awake, new emotions coursed through her body, she felt sick, dizzy, giddy, elated, excited and scared all at once.
Still holding onto her hand he planted a small kiss on the back of it. “You have come into my life like a much needed breath of fresh air, Miss Swan, and you have changed me into the type of man that I want to be. Please do me the honour and consent to be my wife.”
“Oh Edward,” Bella exclaimed joyfully. She held out her hands to touch his face as he stood in front of her, to cover him with kisses, and to say yes, yes, yes.
“Huh hum,” Emmett coughed, clearing his throat nice and loud, although he approved of their relationship, he did not want to see them displaying it just yet.
Bella and Edward jumped apart in shock.
“I think your mum is just about to come looking for you,” Emmett teased.
Edward looked around in panic, then quickly back to Bella, “Sleep on it,” he said hastily, “See you at breakfast.” Then he was gone.
Bella waved blindly into the darkness, her heart dancing with elation beneath her breast, she floated off to bed as if walking on a cushion of air. Thoughts raced through her mind of how her life had changed in these past months, how she’d found the love of her life and now she was about to be part of this incredible family, and to be his forever.
Sleep evading her, she was far too excited and impatient; Bella decided she needed to see her love, now.
Emmett snores drifted up the passage, as she crept from her room, Bella slipped on her shoes and wrapped a shawl around her shoulders, taking care not to make a sound. Years of protecting her, being constantly on guard, Emmett was a light sleeper, but, tonight, the sea air must have knocked him out, Bella was thankful as she tiptoed into the night.
Edward was unaware of the intruder in his room; she’d stayed hidden in the shadows and watched with greedy eyes as he undressed by candlelight. She waited until he was snuggled beneath the blankets, watching as the light, cast dancing shadows across his handsome features.
Now several things happened at once, Edward had turned over with the intention of blowing the candle out, when Leah stepped out of her hiding place, dressed in white, gauzy nightgown, her naked body easily seen beneath it. Bella entered the room, having gained access to the house through the kitchen; the Cullen’s had taken to leaving it unlocked should Bella or Emmett need them.
“Leah?” Edward asked.
“Edward,” Bella said.
“Bella!” Edward exclaimed.
“Leah,” Bella snarled.
“Bella,” Leah sneered.
Did you know, the first fish and chip shop opened in1860 in London!
Dickens mentions fish and chips in 'A Tale of Two Cities,' and during the 2nd world war, fish and chips in Britain was one of the few foods not subject to rationing!
Big hurrah for js18 and RAH07890- who do a great job beta'ing for me.
Are you enjoying the story so far?
“Bella, I...I didn’t know she was here, honest.” Edward stammered, his head looking back and forth between the two women. He was still in a state of shock and disbelief, how could he not notice a woman in his room? Then, he began to feel indignation at the situation. These were his private rooms and no one should be in them at night without his permission.
Anyone observing would have found the sheer absurdity of the situation, akin to a farce, one could see on the West End stage.
Bella heard him but didn’t react to his words; she remained still, her fists clenched in fury, her eyes narrowed and locked on Leah, who mirrored her. Seconds passed, feeling more like hours, as all parties just waited and plotted thoughtfully, their next move.
“He was mine first,” Leah broke the stalemate, her words sounding immature and childish to Bella’s ears, she half expected her to stamp her foot in retaliation.
“Leah, what happened between us...”
Both women whipped their heads around and glared at Edward, immediately silencing him.
“Oh, Edward has already told me of your sorry little encounter,” Bella smiled sweetly as she stalked closer to Leah, although anyone could see there was nothing sweet about her, she was positively threatening.
Edward lay back and made himself comfortable on his pillows, suddenly he was mesmerised by Bella. Her whole demeanour had altered and, beneath the sweet and gentle exterior, he could see the fierceness that lurked beneath.
Leah was going to be sorry, he should intervene, he thought, but somehow knew it would be in the best interest of his health to stay put; for now.
“I don’t remember him objecting at the time,” Leah hissed.
“Perhaps that’s because he was sleeping,” Bella’s tone took on an edge of sarcasm.
Leah flushed slightly, in her befuddled imagination she had made their encounter out to be more than it actually was, and now she felt embarrassed that he had shared it all with Bella.
“We could have been more to each other, if you had given us the chance,” this time Leah turned to address Edward.
Edward shook his head in shame and felt genuinely bad for her, he should have spoken to her before; he could see that now. “Sorry, Leah, I have never thought of you in that way, I’m in love with Bella.” He looked at his dark haired beauty, his words had touched her and begun to soothe her, he could see the anger already beginning to dissipate. She’d never looked more beautiful to him.
The emotion in his voice and the weight of his words pierced Leah’s heart, blinded by anger and hate she balled up her hand into a fist and swung it hard at Bella’s face.
Bella moved easily out of Leah’s striking range.
Emmett and Charlie had prepared her from an early age to look after herself; physically. Gypsies often found themselves in situations where they had to defend themselves; and whereas Marcus was a challenge to Bella, Leah certainly wasn’t.
Edward and Leah could hardly believe how quickly she struck, and with the agility of a snake, Bella had her hand wrapped tightly in Leah’s long, black hair and she’d dropped to the floor bringing her down, twisting her body as they went. Leah found herself face down on the mat. Bella positioned herself so that she had one knee pinning Leah’s upper arm to the floor; swiftly she untangled her hand from Leah’s hair, but kept the pressure on the side of her head, leaning in close to whisper calmly, but with menace in her ear; so quietly that Edward couldn’t hear the words.
“He is mine, and I will never let you come between us, ever, do you understand me?”
Leah squeaked; Bella took it as confirmation.
Edward struggled with his mix of emotions, he wanted so much to rush to Bella’s aid, although it was clear to him she didn’t require him. He was also extremely aroused by what he saw- she was magnificent- and then he felt guilty for being aroused.
Bella lifted her head to face Edward and said loud enough for them both to hear, “I have come here to accept Edward’s proposal of marriage.” It wasn’t how she had envisaged accepting his offer, but he seemed to approve, jumping from the bed and hastily wrapping a blanket around his naked body, but not before Bella saw all he had to offer.
Leah whimpered in defeat into the floor.
Between them they pulled Leah to her feet.
“Return to your room immediately, I shall be talking to your parents tomorrow.” Edward instructed, pointing towards the door.
“No, please don’t,” she begged, pulling on the blanket that kept his naked body hidden from them both.
Bella opened the bedroom door, “Leave, now,” her voice was shaking slightly, as she kept a tenuous lid on her temper.
Leah ran from the room disappearing into the darkness.
Both of them waited for sounds indicating they’d woken the household, there had been much noise this night, when all remained quiet and still, Bella closed and locked the door behind her.
“Bella, what are you doing?” Edward whispered his heart in his throat. There was a look on her face he’d never seen before, determination? No. Lust? It was victory, and he was about to become her prize.
“Taking what’s mine,” she replied walking slowly towards him, the feeling of power acted like an aphrodisiac, it was heady, intoxicating, coursing through her body. She felt like she was on fire for him, and only he could quench the flames.
Bella pulled the ribbon loose at her neck, and tugged at the criss-cross of bindings across her breasts until the white cotton nightie was gaping wide to her navel.
He could see so much of her pale skin, the curve of her pert, round breasts and one dark pink nipple, he swallowed hard, but it was difficult with such a dry mouth.
She wriggled the garment down until one shoulder and arm was freed, then she repeated with the other side.
He feebly shook his head in protest and uttered under his breath about the risk.
When both shoulders were free, there was nothing to keep the nightie up; it fell to the floor in a pool of white around her bare feet.
His eyes followed the descent of the nightie, and then, slowly, his gaze drank in every inch of her nakedness, following up the length of her legs to the apex of her thighs, his eyes lingered greedily on the patch of dark curly hair that nestled there. Continuing over her soft womanly curves and the swell of her breasts crowned with taut nipples, subconsciously he licked his lips.
Bella saw how he looked upon her nakedness, and she felt desired, she stepped out of her nightie and moved towards him.
He’d kept her at arm’s length for long enough, she knew he was protecting her reputation, but he’d declared his love and intentions, life was short; they may die tomorrow. Bella was waiting for Edward no more; they would be as one tonight.
Edward had fought and lost his resolve, she was magnificent, he truly was under her spell and irrevocably in love with her, his whole body craved and longed for intimate contact with this vision of loveliness.
“Are you sure?” He whispered as he held open the thick warm blanket, like an angel opening his wings to her.
Bella kept eye contact as she nodded and stepped into the confines of his cosy embrace. Edward wrapped his arms and the blanket around the both of them and moved them across to his bed, their lips locked in a passionate kiss.
The candle burned and spluttered its last, darkness enveloped them.
As much as they desired to be joined intimately, there was a degree of apprehension attached to their union, the darkness shrouded them and gave them confidence to explore each other’s bodies. They found it comforting and liberating.
Bella explored the contours and the smooth and rough texture of his face with her fingertips; repeating the process with her mouth and tongue, kissing and tasting him. She continued this pattern tracing down his body, he groaned at the sensuous feelings that radiated in waves across his skin. She lavished kisses on his chest and arms, the crooks of his elbows, the palms of his hands; she sucked his fingers gently into her mouth and swirled her tongue around the ends, which made his cock leap for joy. Edward felt his body beginning to tremble, his member was so hard it ached; he felt if she continued to torture him in this exquisite way, he would lose the fight with his body, and come to a premature end, and he so desperately wanted to be buried deep inside of her.
“Please Bella,” he begged; the strain was evident in his voice.
Bella was so wrapped up in her exploring, curious to discover the delights of her love. Innocent as she was, had no idea of the effect she was having on him, other than he seemed to be enjoying it, due to all the appreciative noises and twitches he’d been making. There was one last thing she wanted to try before he lay between her legs and take her virginity. She’d felt the hardness of his cock against her body and she was curious to what it would feel like in her hand or to touch upon her tongue.
“Can I touch you; can I hold it in my hand?”
Edward remained silent, processing what he’d just heard, “Yes,” he replied huskily, bracing himself against the soft mattress.
Bella smiled as she heard the gasp of air leave him and his whole body go rigid as her hand encircled his hard, hot muscle.
“Oh my God,” he hissed as she experimentally moved her hand, discovering it moved in and out of her fist. He felt a wave of her breath across his sensitive end, as her face drew closer, questions filled his mind. Was she going to taste him? The imagery and longing that followed were nearly enough to finish him.
“Stop,” he croaked with regret, “I am afraid, I am too full of desire and am close to the end, let me calm down a while.”
When she was on her back he decided to bestow on her body, the same attention she had given his, starting with chaste little kisses and feather-light touches with his fingertips. She was soon quivering beneath him and emitting squeals of delight.
“Please my love,” he hushed her; “We’ll wake the whole house up.”
Bella bit on her bottom lip and pulled at the sheets beneath her as his lips attached to her swollen, sensitive nipples, desire shot through her body, enflaming her pussy. She was amazed at the feeling she got from the touch of his lips and tongue on her breasts, there seemed to be a connection- in a state of arousal, between her breasts and her pussy.
She groaned loudly, threading her fingers into his hair, keeping him at her breast, there was a longing inside of her, for him to touch her between her legs and quell the over whelming desire that was building. Was it something he would do? She wondered.
Edward ran his fingers from her breasts and down, over her ribs, he could feel her stomach muscles flutter with pleasure, he smiled wickedly when she thrust her hips upward.
“Bella, is there somewhere you would like me to touch you?” He teased.
“Please, Edward,” she pleaded, squirming against him in desperation.
He didn’t torture her anymore and slid two fingers through her slick, smooth flesh, moving gently back and forth; exploring her sweet delight.
Bella froze, her whole focus cumulated between her thighs, she hardly dare to draw breath, eventually she was able to relax into his gentle touch.
He sought out her clitoris and was surprised at how hard and protruding it was. Edward soon discovered its sensitivity; Bella jumped and emitted a small gasp every time he dragged his fingers over it. Soon, he fell into a rhythm, which she seemed to enjoy, moaning and rocking against him. He took great joy touching her this way, knowing he was giving her delightful feelings; his cock began to pulse and throb in appreciation.
“Oh don’t stop,” Bella said breathily and her body began to tremble, whimpering, she clawed at the sheets around them again, her body froze and her breathing halted.
He could feel her wet heat and the throb under his fingers, a strong pulse from between the hot folds of her sex; he smiled, he’d given her an orgasm.
Bella quivered, sighed loudly and relaxed completely beneath him.
It was nearly time, while she was still euphoric from her climax, he slid a finger inside of her tight slit; she groaned and he felt her walls twitch in response. He withdrew and inserted two, she pushed hard against him.
“I want you, Edward.”
Her words stirred him, “I want you, too.”
Both groaned as hot skin touched skin, fingers skimmed along flesh leaving a trail of goosebumps in its wake. Legs entwined and arms wrapped around each other all the time pulling closer, needing the other as you’d need air to breath. Hearts beat in synchronisation, as the time grew nearer and he rolled on top of her, Bella parted her legs, inviting him, accepting him, and desiring him deep inside of her.
“I’ll be gentle,” he whispered and nudged forward until he rested against her entrance.
“I’m yours,” she whispered and placed a hand either side of his face, bringing him closer into a kiss, he pushed forward, forcing himself into her body.
Bella braced herself as she felt the burn, the pain as he pierced her maidenhead; their lips remained joined, muffling the sound of her sobs.
Tears flowed freely in the dark, but he could feel them wet against his face and he leaned in to nuzzle her neck, for forgiveness, a sign of affection, a sign of his love; after causing her pain. Her body was hot and tight, she felt so good, like a velvet glove around him, sucking him in, holding him tight, he could feel her every twitch and pulse; which drove him to the point of insanity. But he held still, allowing her to grow accustomed to his invasion.
How can something be so wonderful for one person, be almost traumatic for another? He thought. The first union of two people in love should be a wondrous thing for both.
Bella grew accustomed to his intrusion, the burning lessened, the sensation was still raw. Edward remained shakily above her, waiting patiently, she nodded her consent and tried to relax, rocking her body against him.
Bella listened to his short shallow grunts as he pumped in and out of her, giving herself something to focus on, taking delight from his joy, which helped to distract from her soreness. Goosebumps covered her sensitive body and her nipples hardened, everything was hyper-sensitive to the point of painful, she knew it wouldn’t always be like this, it would get better and he had done wonderful things with his fingers. Her body reacted to her thoughts with a flush of tingly heat between her legs and for a moment there was a feeling of intense pleasure, a taste of what was to come.
Edward’s thrusts had become more erratic and she wished she could look upon his glorious face, as he approached the throes of his climax, another thrill ran through her, as she thought, they had become one.
Suddenly and reluctantly, he pulled quickly from her and she felt the hot, wet splash as his ejaculate hit her stomach, and then his trembling body collapsed to the side of her.
“I love you, Bella Swan,” he whispered breathily against her neck, sending shivers of pleasure all over her body.
Consumed with undying love, passion and need, they fell into sleep entwined in one another.
Love was in the air at Cullen Hall; the feeling was palpable all around, even Dr. And Mrs Cullen couldn’t help but respond to the pheromones that surrounded them; in privacy, behind closed doors, of course.
Carlisle watched from their huge four poster bed as Esme prepared herself for the night, she was still an enchanting woman.
He recalled the events that brought them together.
Carlisle was under the tutorage of an elderly doctor and living under his roof, assisting him in his medical duties.
Dr. Gerandy had been returning home late one night, after attending a patient, when he was jumped upon by some ruffians. Robbed, badly beaten, and left to perish, the Vicar of the small parish church stumbled upon him after hearing the skirmish and his cries for help. He’d helped him to the vicarage, where his son, Carlisle, had taken great care of him, cleaning and nursing him to full health.
Carlisle’s father had said, ‘God must have intervened that night.’
They were very poor, the church couldn’t pay much and he was a widower caring for his only child, his wife, the boy’s mother, had been taken by the flu, years earlier, the boy couldn’t even remember her face.
The doctor’s misfortune led to the discovery of Carlisle’s vocation; when he was well enough, the doctor offered to take him and train him as a doctor.
Esme and her mama had been barely scraping a living together, her father had passed a few months previous leaving them destitute and grief stricken. There were plenty of widows and young girls around to take in washing, scrub and clean for the gentry, so work and food was in short supply. Esme was on the verge of selling herself for sex when the opportunity to work for the kind old doctor, as housemaid and cook came along. He’d been an answer to prayer.
Carlisle had been in love with her from their very first meeting, as scrawny and dirty as she was, he could see the beauty beneath, and the fight and spirit in her eyes, she was determined to survive at all costs. She’d resisted his attempts at courtship and, in the end; it was her mama who agreed on her behalf, to allow him to court her, she’d been a feisty and spirited woman in her day.
She also pointed out blatantly to Esme, with his prospects as a doctor, he would be able to care and provide for her, he was a catch. Esme reluctantly agreed; to please her. The courtship wasn’t prolonged and they were married within the year, by then, he had wooed her and Esme was utterly in love with Carlisle, she thought herself lucky to find a kind and gentle soul, such as Carlisle in this harsh world.
Dr. Gerandy had been a good and generous employer, with no family to speak of; when he passed ten years later, he had ensured that all his employees, who were as good as a family to him, were financially taken care of. His substantial estate was shared equally between them all; as Carlisle and Esme were already married by then, they received their double portion of the inheritance and Carlisle was earning a modest living as a qualified doctor.
Esme’s mother died the following year, leaving them with another sum of money; they had enough finances between them for a very good life, and the first thing they did was to purchase their home and name it Cullen Hall, a residence, their legacy to be passed onto their children, if they should be blessed with them.
“Penny for them.” Esme said softly, breaking Carlisle from his reverie, he felt the mattress move as she sat on the bed beside him.
“Just thinking of how we met.”
Esme’s face dropped, “Must you?”
“Esme, we have no need for shame. Your life, our lives before, should make us more compassionate as people.” He put his finger under her chin and tilted her head so their eyes met.
“I don’t want to remember the poverty, the fear, wondering where the next meal was coming from.” She broke free of his gaze, and moved across the room.
“We have been granted many blessings my love,” Carlisle rose naked from the bed to follow, “We need to express our gratitude and thanks, by giving back, not by pretending we are something we are not. I am proud of who I am now, as well as who I was then. There but for the grace of God, go I.”
Esme turned to him and froze in her steps; it had been a long time since she had seen her husband’s naked body and the sight pleased her greatly. She could feel the flush of heat in her cheeks, it covered her neck and breasts, the warmth began to spread and cover her entire body, suddenly the room was heated.
“You look flushed, dear,” Carlisle said smirking as he approached her, “Allow me to help you cool down.” With those words, he reached down to the hem of her cotton nightie and pulled it up and over her head, revealing her bare body beneath.
“It’s been too long, my love,” he said looking lovingly over her soft, womanly curves, her body bore the signs and sacrifices of carrying his children, and to him she could have not been more lovely.
If Esme had been a younger woman, she may have swooned when he lifted her like a new bride into his arms, before taking over to their marital bed.
They took their time reacquainting themselves tenderly with each other, exploring hidden places of desire, remembering the kisses and touches to make each other groan and quiver in pleasure, adding a few new discoveries, after all, they both liked to read, there was a lot to learn from books.
When she arose the next morning completely fulfilled, if a little tired and sore in the aftermath of many hours of vigorous lovemaking. Esme looked at her sleeping husband and recalled his insatiability with a huge smile and she felt light of heart; as though she was a changed woman.
Wherever you looked in the Cullen residence, there were courting couples, Alice and Jasper sat in the library discussing their honeymoon arrangements, in between stolen kisses and touches. They were to spend their time in London; Jasper had chosen the city to please his future wife. She had too long been denied the bright lights, and hustle and bustle of city life. As a surprise, he had booked a box at a West End theatre to see, ‘The Magic Deer.’ She was desperate to peruse the market place, shopping there was reputed to be the best in England. Alice dreamed of all the new fabrics that came from Italy and France, which she could use to make new dresses.
When they returned, married life would start at Cullen Hall. Mrs Cullen longed to have her daughter stay; the prospect of having future grandchildren close was thrilling. The architects were due in and there was talk of extending the west side of the house to accommodate the new Mr and Mrs Hale upon their return.
Rosalie was in the stables working alongside her fiancé, she was not one to sit by and watch; she adored her horses nearly as much as she loved Emmett. News of their engagement was greeted with an unladylike whoop of joy from Mrs Hale.
“Thank the Lord, Emmett; I thought you’d wait until I was dead.”
Rosalie visibly winced at her mother’s words, “Please, mother, you’ll outlive us all.”
“If only that were true child,” she replied, stroking her daughters face, “But you have given me reason to stay a while longer, my darling husband will understand if I don’t go, just yet.”
Rosalie understood her mother completely, they truly had been cut from the same cloth, neither woman put on airs and graces, and it would have been understandable, as they came from a family of unimaginable wealth and both were unimpressed by the fact. Caius had been a great man of business, with the help of his beloved Dora, great investments had been made all over the world, mainly in the mining of diamonds in South Africa and North America.
Rosalie and Jasper were unaware of just how much money they had coming to them on their mother’s death. Dora had a team of trusted accountants and they were sworn, and paid to secrecy, the children would not be informed until after she was gone. It’s not that she didn’t trust them, but she wanted them to find true love, before they inherited their fortune.
She looked at Rosalie and Emmett; she was confident the money would do little to change the two of them. Jasper and Alice, well, she certainly did like to spend, but Dora knew Alice would do great things with the money she would share with Jasper, and many people would benefit. Alice was a kind and generous creature; no one would suffer with her around.
Bella and Edward had kept their news to be married quiet for the moment, the timing was not right for them and it seemed like everyone in the Cullen household was to be wed.
“I’d like a Christmas wedding,” Bella suddenly announced when they were alone together.
Edward kissed the back of her hand and promised her anything she wanted.
“I think I can wait that long,” he teased, raising an eyebrow.
Bella giggled, his playful words and manner were doing naughty things to her body, they’d decided to refrain from being intimate again until after they were wed. It was a promise both had made hastily; as being physically joined to one another, was all either one could think of.
Bella had taken to helping Edward study medicine--in between stolen kisses and caresses-- he found she had a quick and eager mind, it had occurred to him she would make an excellent nurse, and promised himself to approach the idea with her one day.
Edward had taken on a lot of changes as of late, he wasn’t sure he wanted a wife that worked just yet; but he couldn’t envisage her staying home to raise children either.
Seth had a whistle and a smile these days, too, and those who looked hard enough noticed he wasn’t spending his spare time in Emmett’s company like he usually did, but in the village at the blacksmiths’ shop, with his new friend, Jacob.
Harry Clearwater was relieved he’d taken a chance and vouched for the young man, William Black-- Billy to his friends-- was a widower and his only daughter had married a lazy good for nothing who refused to work in the shop. Jacob and Billy got along just fine, and he’d taken very well to working in the foundry with the hot metal, and in a relatively short time, was beginning to ease the burden on his employer.
“He’s a natural,” Billy said, beaming and heartily clapping Jacob on the back, when Harry paid them a visit.
As one problem in the Clearwater household found a sort of discreet resolution, another presented itself.
“Your daughter has declared her feelings to me, and I’m afraid she is unable to deal with my love for Bella.”
Edward decided when he saw Leah’s pathetic little face, red and puffy from hours of crying, he could not put her to shame in front of her parents by sharing all the details, and a plan came to him, he would give her a way out, it would be up to Leah to take it.
Leah was so grateful to Edward, she’d imagined he would disclose the whole messy chapter, of her advances, her inappropriate behaviour, and the way she was with Bella, she still disliked her intensely, but she knew now; Edward would never be hers.
Leah loved her parents very much and the thought that they would be ashamed of her was mortifying. She just sobbed and nodded in agreement with him.
“It doesn’t rain, it pours,” Mrs Clearwater exclaimed, rubbing her ruddy face in her hands.
Her mother had suspected Leah’s attachment to Edward, he was a handsome, kind man and she’d spent most of her life following him around, so, to find out she was in love with him wasn’t a great surprise.
“Oh my girl, what are we to do with you?” Mrs Clearwater said, trying to think of a resolution. The family they had were far away, she wasn’t happy at the thought of sending her off to them; they were strangers to her now.
“May I make a suggestion?” Edward asked, he’d already run the idea by his father, who’d agreed.
Mr Clearwater grunted, he wasn’t totally convinced, Edward hadn’t led his sweet and innocent daughter on in some way; and he wasn’t feeling too hospitable towards him at the moment.
“My father’s friends, Peter and Charlotte, they have a grand house in London. I’m sure they could make room for Leah, she is an excellent worker.”
Leah perked up, the idea of going to London appealed greatly, and she’d spent all her life in the country, cooped up in this little village.
Mr and Mrs Clearwater looked at each other.
“Please, Father, I want to go, it’s for the best,” Leah turned and mouthed her thanks to Edward.
“London isn’t too far away dear.” Mrs Clearwater rubbed his knee.
“Nnnrggh.” He grunted, which his wife and daughter took as an agreement.
“Edward, we’ve barely spent any time together recently,” Alice rushed across and looped arms with her big brother.
“Well, you do insist on spending all your time with Jasper,” he snorted jokingly. She was right though, he hadn’t thought about it until she’d said it. They barely had time for one another these days; his time was filled with Bella or his studies.
“Let’s take a walk, no one will miss us for an hour and the fresh air will do me the world of good.” It might have sounded like a request, but Alice was already off walking, with Edward in tow.
The walk was brisk, Alice seemed to be on some sort of mission to get them far from the house; Edward didn’t question her until they were out of earshot.
“What’s on your mind, little sister?”
She turned on him, he could always tell when she had something on her mind, which she needed to share with him; it was the only time she could walk as fast as him.
“We have had all the RSVP’s back from the wedding.” Alice began, it was a rhetorical question.
“Yes.” Edward agreed.
“Most of the family and our friends will be able to attend.”
He could tell she was trying to lead him somewhere, but he was getting exasperated with her game, “Alice...”
“Including the Denali’s,” her words stopped him in his tracks.
Alice nodded at Edward’s wide eyed realisation.
“Have you told Bella about Tanya?” She asked, knowing he probably hadn’t, but, then again, neither had she.
He just shook his head and looked back towards the house, he had confessed an awful lot to her just recently; the thought he had to tell her of Tanya, too, made his blood run cold in his veins.
Could there be any more skeletons in this man’s closet, she thought, closing her eyes.
“I want us to always be honest with each other; is that what you want too?” He asked.
“Did you love her?” Bella asked, ignoring his question, her voice trembled slightly; betrayed her nerves and approaching temper, she felt the walls going up around her, preparing to protect herself from his unspoken words.
“No,” he smiled softly, sweeping a wayward curl from Bella’s forehead; he used it as an excuse to touch her, he could see her beginning to harden, he needed the contact, she would know how he loved her, if he could touch her.
She remained still, deciding to reject his affection for now; it would cause bad feeling between them, even though he had come to her to disclose this secret; Edward smiled at her but she could see the worry in his eyes. She had no control and Bella felt her heart soften towards him.
“It was pure infatuation; I used to think Tanya a thousand times lovelier than the stars.”
Bella’s heart ceased to beat as he continued.
“Our families are close, her mother, Sasha, God rest her soul, was a friend to my parents, my parents always thought I would make a good match for Rosalie.”
Bella suppressed a smile, never in a hundred years would Edward and Rosalie ever make a good match, and yet she wasn’t bothered that his parents had wanted it.
Edward sighed, “Tanya and I made a promise to each other, a foolish promise made in our youth. We thought that we would...” He allowed his sentence to go unspoken. “I have to explain to her when she arrives tomorrow.”
Bella had turned her face from him, to hide the tears that flowed across her cheeks.
“Bella, my love.”
She felt the warmth of his hand through her clothing as he placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Please look at me, look me in the eyes.” His voice was soft and deep, it resonated within her heart.
Bella turned with glassy eyes and did as he requested.
“Can you not see the love I have for you?”
The way he gazed deep into her, like he could see her soul and he caused the whole world to fall away into oblivion, like it did once before, when they’d seen each other in the marketplace. Bella’s aching heart began to throb frantically, until all that she could hear was the thud in her ears.
“Yes,” she sniffed onto the back of her hand.
Edward smiled and used his thumbs to wipe away the tears; then very gently he dipped his mouth to hers. “Trust me.”
She could not help but be moved by the intensity and emotion of his declaration and the following embrace; when he withdrew, she felt quiet lightheaded and dizzy.
“Are you sure it’s me that you want?” She asked meekly.
“With my whole heart,” he replied in a heartbeat. “I was foolish; I thought I knew what love was, until I met you Bella. You complete me, I am nothing without you.”
Bella tried to shake her head and speak, but he held her steadfast between his hands, keeping her looking at him and hushed her.
“No more secrets, I’ve told you about Tanya and you’ll meet her tomorrow, and everyone will know you are mine.”
Bella blinked her understanding and bit her lip nervously, Edward’s eyes flashed to the plump flesh she took between her teeth. Desire pumped swiftly through him and the atmosphere changed immediately between them, from the need to comfort to a carnal craving.
The floodgates of passion seemingly only held back by the merest of restraint, they could only be together for limited periods of time, when their bodies began to yearn for intimacy, an intimacy they had vowed to keep until their wedding night.
Bella saw the look in his eyes change and she felt the rush of heat and moisture between her thighs in her body’s response to accommodate him. A whimper of sorts escaped her lips and, subconsciously, she moved closer to him.
“I need you to be my wife soon; I don’t think I can keep away from you for much longer.” Edward closed his eyes, taking deep breaths and rested his head to her forehead; Bella could feel the slight tremble that travelled through him.
“I need you too,” she replied.
Edward chuckled, “That doesn’t help my love.”
“Why?” Bella frowned; she thought he would feel better knowing she was experiencing the same divine torture as he.
“To know...” Edward took a deep breath and licked his bottom lip.
Bella felt the intense hot tingles between her thighs at the sight of his tongue against his lip, she squirmed.
“...Your body is responding to mine, making itself ready to take me,” his voice was low, almost a growl. “It’s almost too much to take.”
“There are other things we could do, is there not?” Bella said so quietly that it was almost a whisper.
Before she knew what was happening, Edward grabbed her hand roughly, and pulled her towards the barn, away from prying eyes, he bolted the huge wooden doors behind him.
When he turned to look at her, what she saw in his eyes was beyond anything she had seen before, fierce, lustful, and dark, it was to be her undoing. Without another exchange of words, they joined in a frenzied embrace, lips pressed, tongues touched and thrust into each other’s mouths, hands explored frantically against the confines of one another’s clothing, but there was no time or inclination to lovingly remove one another’s garments.
Bella groaned as he rubbed his hands up over the bodice of her dress, grabbing the swell of her bosom with both hands, pushing them up, while bending his head to lavish kisses and bites over her voluptuous flesh.
“Oh Edward,” she cried at the touch of his lips.
Spurred on by his lover’s pleas, Edward moved Bella; so her back was against the wooden bench, then he fell to his knees in supplication, slowly he slid his hands up her skirts over her outer thighs until reaching her knickers. He heard her breath hitch when he took hold of the silky garment and began to pull them. Edward felt his own arousal swell and throb, his groin was uncomfortable in the confines of his clothing and he longed to free himself.
Bella was already in heaven to have his hands upon her skin, to have him on his knees in front of her, face level with her aching quim and he had yet to touch her. Her breathing was coming out in short pants as her skirt was lifted and she felt the cool autumn air circulate around her moist flesh, the sensation was foreign but pleasant. She could feel her face burning with a mixture of chagrin and arousal, it would be the first time he’d see her pussy close up, she could not drag her eyes from his; it was like a magical enchantment had bound them together.
It was Edward who broke the spell to gaze upon her; Bella closed her eyes tight, fearing he would not like to look upon that part of her.
“Beautiful,” he whispered, before she was able to respond she felt his hot breath and soft warm mouth make contact with the lips of her sex.
It was fortunate that Edward had pinned Bella into the corner, with her back against the waist high work bench, the sensation of his mouth upon her quim had been so wondrous, she feared her legs would not hold her and she fell upon it for support. He gave her a moment before he started again moving the tip of his tongue through the sweet flesh, tasting her flavour.
“Oh...I...” Bella muttered incomprehensibly, as her body trembled and her eyes rolled in pleasure.
Edward, new to cunnilingus, experimented; using his tongue, he lavished long flat strokes, through her folds.
Bella mewed, squealed, and giggled, the sounds resonated in his member; he thought he might ejaculate bringing her to pleasure.
Edward was glad he’d bolted the barn door, although, he was confident the wood of the old building was good and thick, no one would hear them, Bella was most vocal in expressing her joy.
He used the tip of his tongue in quick flicks upon her clit, making Bella cry out and grab the back of his head, holding him in position. He kept up the pace as her moans grew more urgent and she trembled beneath his tongue, her fingers gripped his hair, now to the point of pain. Edward felt smug at her response and reassured, he’d spent alot of time researching medical documentation on the physiology of the female anatomy.
Edward slid two fingers inside her hot wet slit and pumped them in and out, imitating his cock.
“Yes,” Bella screamed, “Yes, yes, yes.” Her body convulsed and spasmed around his fingers and she thrust herself further against his mouth, lost in ecstasy.
He watched her descent from heaven, he felt her arousal run from her body, soaking his fingers and he saw the satisfied smile play at her lips, he found her magnificent, it was a spiritual moment; never to be shared, he would be the only one ever to put that particular look upon her face.
Bella opened her eyes and blushed, “I’m sorry...” She began.
Edward shook his head, “Don’t ever be sorry,” he stood to embrace her.
Bella stroked the front of Edward’s trousers, dragging her fingers against the hard bulge of his engorged cock, her pussy twitched and she smiled into the kiss they shared.
“A penny for them,” he asked curiously.
“I will be the only one to have you inside of me,” she replied.
His heart and soul rejoiced at the thought he belonged to her, they were not yet wed and she was staking her claim on him, his body, on his manhood, she was telling him there would never be anyone else.
He smiled, “I am all yours.” It was his turn to hold his breath as she fumbled with his bindings and released his hard cock into the cool air.
“I want to taste you too,” she whispered and fell to her knees.
Edward grabbed onto the edge of the bench, as if to keep himself earthbound and not shatter into a million pieces as he feared he might. He watched mesmerised as Bella held onto his throbbing cock, and drew her mouth closer to him until she was close enough to poke out her tongue and taste him. Edward held his breath and hoped she liked the taste enough to take him into her mouth. He’d heard it said fellatio was a marvellous sensation from many men he knew, who hoped their women would perform it on them. It felt like an eternity before she opened her mouth and took him inside her hot, wet mouth, and, like she had before him, Edward had to find support on the shelf behind him, for fear of crumpling to the floor in a faint.
Bella had not performed such an act before, she felt clumsy in her actions and Edward’s cock was considerable in size, more than filling her mouth, she found it better if she held on to the base and moved her head, she tried to remember the literature she had read recently, discreetly. The Cullen’s seemed to have a broad range of books at their disposal; she had wondered if Mrs Cullen knew what was housed on those shelves.
Bella removed her mouth but continued to move her hand up and down Edward’s marvellous appendage.
“Am I pleasing you?” She asked fearfully.
“God, yes,” he hissed, with his head back and his eyes tight shut, Bella felt the flow of more hot arousal from between her thighs, she felt powerful holding him, sucking him, giving him pleasure. Quickly, she took his cock back into her mouth; confident whatever she was doing was right. Bella swirled her tongue around his smooth domed end, relishing the salty essence that flowed copiously from him; then sucked him fast and hard, using her hand to aid her movements.
“OH Bella,” he cried and threaded his fingers through her hair, his legs began to tremble, as inexperienced as she was, Bella knew Edward was nearing his end, she was excited and scared, not knowing what to expect, but he had given her great joy upon his mouth and tongue, and she was determined to grant him the same.
“Bella, I’m coming,” he warned, moving his hand from her head, allowing her to pull away if she so desired. He wasn’t sure what to do at this crucial point, but he hoped Bella wouldn’t stop.
She seemed to be more spurred on by his warning, sucking harder and faster, Edward felt the uncoiling of pleasure deep inside his balls, the sensation growing stronger and stronger, consuming his whole lower region, until he could feel it leaving his body in strong joyous spurts. Bella fought hard to take his salty essence into her mouth, swallowing quickly, and resisting the urge to gag for fear of offending him, finally after what seemed like an age, he was done.
Edward slid down the wall, tucking himself into his trousers as he did, and pulled Bella into his lap; looking at her with love, admiration and joy.
“I love you, Miss Swan, and I can’t wait to marry you,” he said, showering her smiling face with lots of little kisses.
Edward paced the gravelly drive, usually the crunching sound of the gravel amused him, not today; the nerves made him sick to his stomach. Tanya would be arriving shortly and he’d decided to speak to her the minute she arrived. She was overassertive in the way she showed her emotion towards him, and he had no intention of Bella witnessing that.
He pulled on the lilac cravat that was intent on strangling him and he dragged his fingers through his slick hair. Alice had coerced him into taming his unruly locks with a little hair oil. She’d ignored his pleas that his hair was a lost cause, and he had a feeling by the end of the day, it would still resemble a crow’s nest. However, at the moment, his sister was happy with him.
The sound of hooves and carriage wheels upon gravel alerted him and his eyes glanced up towards Alice’s room, he saw the drapes twitch. That’s where his Bella would be; performing her duties with Rosalie as bridesmaid. An overwhelming feeling of giddiness caused a laugh to erupt, the mere thought of Bella and Rosalie attending to Alice, was suddenly amusing; neither woman was interested in fancy things like his sister was. Given the choice, Rosalie would happily spend her day in riding breeches or trousers and Bella, who did wear skirts and dresses, didn’t bother with the frills, ribbons, or baubles that most women did. She preferred her look to be simple, unhindered by fussiness; she had once put it, when he had offered to buy her lace and ribbons for her blouse.
Edward found he loved Bella’s simple beauty and taste, she was right she didn’t need all the fuss; she was exquisite in her own way.
“That’s what I like,” a smooth sweet voice interrupted his musings, “A welcoming committee.”
“Tanya,” Edward said politely, bowing his head to her.
“I think we can be a little friendlier than that, don’t you?” She raised her brow at him expectantly and tried to caress his cheek, he grew more handsome with the passage of time, she thought.
Edward pulled away from her caress too quickly, alerting Tanya, and he looked towards the window anxiously, hoping he wasn’t being observed.
“Would you please take a walk with me, I have something of the utmost importance to discuss with you,” he held out his arm for her to take.
She noted the strained tone in his voice, and concern bloomed in her stomach.
“Irina,” he nodded at Tanya’s equally beautiful sister, who had disembarked the carriage behind her sister, “Please, go straight up to the house; you’re expected.”
As if on cue, Seth came running from the stables to take their luggage, Edward frowned, he wasn’t aware they were staying at the house.
“I didn’t think you would want me to rush straight off, my dear,” Tanya answered his thought, looping her arm through his and pulling herself as close as possible with a little giggle and said, with as much innuendo as she could, “I’m all yours.”
They walked a short distance in silence; Tanya could see Edward was changed somehow.
“Tanya, I owe you the truth and there’s no easy way to say it,” he blurted out as he stopped to face her, clasping both her hands in his, “I have fallen in love.” He needed to do it quickly, for his sake and Bella’s.
She remained quiet and unmoving. Edward continued.
“I didn’t intend to; I always thought ...” He bent his head. “We would ... One day.”
“Who is she?” Tanya asked in a soft, calm voice.
She watched him in envy of her, as he lit up in pure joy and became animated as he began to tell her of his Bella.
Tanya and Edward had been friends for a long time; their families spent long hot summers at each other’s houses. They’d written to one another since childhood; shared their hopes, dreams, and secrets and confided heavily in each other over the years. It had been convenient for him to think she was his future, as no girl had ever garnered his interest, with Tanya at least he would have shared his life with a friend, she was beautiful, sociable and he had no doubt she would raise his public profile. He’d found her company easy- once upon a time. Truthfully, Edward had grown distant from Tanya of late, and began to wonder if life as a bachelor was preferable to spending it with someone he didn’t love; in the romantic sense. It would be a falsehood, one he thought would make him miserable, although he knew many who entered into marriages of convenience and had no complaints; and a mistress or two, Edward didn’t desire that sort of union.
It was different for Tanya; Edward had always been the one she wanted. With their pooled resources, they would command respect in high society, they made an absolutely stunning couple and their babies would be adorable, she’d had a long time to think of her future. Plus, he was handsome, rich, and had ambition and most of all, she desired him in her bed. He’d refused her subtle advances the last time she was at Cullen Hall, this time she’d intended to be more obvious; he wouldn’t be able to resist her charms, no man had, as yet.
The pain in her breast was soon replaced with fury, as he declared his undying love and the intention to make this woman, Bella, a nobody, a pauper; his bride, very soon.
He must have lost his mind, she thought.
Tanya kept the smile frozen in place, she never, for even a second, showed him her true feelings.
“Do you forgive me?” He asked, taking her hands in his, she looked into his pleading emerald eyes and for a moment she thought she’d concede and grant him anything.
“There’s nothing to forgive, my dear,” she answered through gritted teeth.
“Thank you, you’re a wonderful friend, my best friend and you’ll love her as much as I do,” Edward radiated with love and happiness.
Never had she bristled at being referred to as a friend before, when she wanted to be so much more to him. Tanya nodded, fearing if she opened her mouth to speak she may just vomit, they walked back to the house arm in arm, all the time she listened and seethed, as Edward waxed lyrical about Bella.
Thankfully, this Bella creature was not forced upon her straight away, and Tanya was led to her room that she was to share with Irina, her sister.
“What do you intend on doing about her?” Irina asked when Tanya had retold the whole story.
“If Edward Cullen thinks for one minute that I’m going to roll over and let some filthy gypsy whore replace me, and claim what’s mine, he can think again.”
Irina smirked and let out a dry laugh, she had absolute faith in her sister, who could have who she wanted, when she wanted; Edward and Bella didn’t stand a chance.
The ends of the church pews were adorned with bouquets of exotic looking pale pink Nerine, their long furled petals giving the appearance of gift ribbon. They were intermingled with huge lilac pom-pom Dahlias and white and green Hypericum berries with lush dark green foliage. Thick cream candles dotted the tiny church, bathing everything in a soft golden radiance and guests merrily chatted amongst themselves. The church was full to bursting as villagers filled the small building to wish Alice and Jasper well on their special day.
Jasper nervously paced and Edward laughed.
“I will grant you the same consideration when you wed Bella,” Jasper snapped at his bestman.
“Shhh!” Edward hushed, looking around to see if anyone had heard. “We haven’t told anyone yet.”
“Well, Alice knows.”
“Alice knows everything, she’s a witch,” he snapped.
“Hey, I’m marrying that witch,” Jasper replied, trying not to smile.
“I know.” He took a deep breath, “You’re like a brother to me, Jasper,” Edward placed a hand on his shoulder, “Take care of her.”
“Always,” he replied, patting Edward’s forearm.
The sound of the Vicar clearing his throat subtly alerted the two men to take their positions.
Mendelssohn’s Wedding March filled the church and Jasper turned with a smile to watch his bride approach.
Alice could not take her eyes off the wondrous sight that beheld her at the end of the aisle, Jasper, handsome in his pale grey mourning suit and high collared white shirt with lilac cravat, the warm glow of the candles backlit him, accentuating his golden hair and giving him the appearance of an angel. She found him to be breathtaking and her eyes prickled with hot tears, she thought she must be the luckiest woman in the whole world.
Bella nervously followed Alice and Carlisle down the aisle, originally, she was to be the last one in the procession, but her nerves had been so bad upon reaching the church, Rosalie had insisted on changing places with her, for fear of Bella making a run for the open country. She didn’t argue, because the thought had occurred to her.
Bella watched Alice and Rosalie in awe and envy, both seemed to radiate a calmness that she did not possess, no matter how many deep breaths she took.
Then she saw him and their eyes locked.
Edward smiled a soft, sweet smile that was just meant for her, and nothing in the whole wide world mattered anymore, her anxiety melted away and it didn’t matter that people were watching as she followed Alice down the aisle. She could hear the whispers, and would have been naive not to realise that she was going to be the focus of some of the attention today.
I’ll show them, she thought, Bella stood straight, braced her shoulders and she smiled at Edward, nodded at the faces she recognised in the pews as she passed by and blushed, a pretty shade of pink, which served to heighten her beauty.
Alice and Jasper repeated their vows loud and clear for everyone to hear, with smiles and love evident in their faces, which shone brighter than the flames of the alter candles.
Edward and Bella’s eyes remained on each other throughout the declarations of love, both of one mind, wishing it were they, exchanging vows before God and the congregation.
Tanya seethed from her position in the crowd, Edward was clearly bewitched, he’d never looked at her with love in his eyes, in all their years of friendship; she hated that word with a passion now. Tanya had been lucky to have a warm gaze, now- in waltzed this creature and he smouldered when he looked at her, usurped by a gypsy whore. Jealousy tore through her and she hated her on sight.
Tanya was accustomed to being the one people gazed upon, being ignored for the bride was one thing, but she could hear what was being said about Bella from within the congregation. She’d already won many a heart through her kindness and bravery, she was a natural beauty; Tanya snorted at that comment. Most of all, they spoke about the changes in Edward, how Bella had made him friendlier, approachable, and more likeable.
“Simpletons,” she uttered under her breath.
After the service, everyone congregated outside the small church and waited while Alice and Jasper, the new Mr and Mrs Hale, signed the registrar, and then a cheer erupted when the newlyweds arrived on the church steps.
The guests mingled on the lawn while the photographer took couples to a sunny spot on the well manicured lawn, where he’d set up his camera. When Edward and Bella’s turn came, everyone watched as he put her at ease, the pair looked dashing in their carefully co-ordinated outfits. Bella’s pale complexion and dark hair complimented perfectly, the lilac dress Alice had chosen for her and she didn’t even mind the little bonnet that she’d been forced to wear. The photographer took his chance, and didn’t pose them formally like the others; he could see the love between them and took the picture when they looked lovingly at one another. A few of the women in the party tutted, but inside they sighed romantically and wished their husbands looked upon them like that.
The guests moved off and made their own way back to the house for the wedding breakfast and the villagers bid Jasper and Alice farewell, waving them off in their decorated cab before returning to their lives and duties.
Bella sighed with relief and chose to walk with Edward the short distance back to the hall.
“When we marry, could it just be the two of us?” She asked.
Edward laughed, “Are you going to tell my mother?”
“I couldn’t do it like that, all those people,” she said, screwing her face up.
“I don’t care who’s there as, long as you are,” he said, trying to be gallant and kissing the back of her hand.
Bella felt her insides melt as she saw the sincerity in his soft green eyes.“Small then, just immediate family?” She looked at him with wide eyes, he wouldn’t be able to resist.
Bella had tried hard to put Tanya out of her mind and the wedding had all but achieved it, until they reached home.
The dining room looked resplendent decked out with the finest silver and crystal, the linen was snow white and starched to pristine perfection, Mrs Clearwater had done them proud. Flowers from the church now decorated the room and the French doors were open wide, allowing guests to spill out onto the terrace with their crystal glasses full of fine champagne, to toast the happy couple.
“I think it’s time you met my dearest friend, Tanya,” Edward announced to Bella.
She grimaced when he wasn’t looking and gulped all of her drink for courage; then followed him outside.
“Tanya,” Edward called and pulled a reluctant Bella by the hand. “This is Bella.”
“Enchanted,” Tanya’s voice was almost a purr.
Bella smiled meekly, “Pleased to meet you.”
Everything about her was golden; her hair was the palest gold she had ever seen and it was tied up in a chignon, the dress she wore was the brightest yellow, with the lowest neckline that bordered on indecent. Where she wasn’t glowing, she was sparkling with diamonds, they gleamed from a small comb in her hair, and fell from her ears in drop earrings, they surrounded her slim neck in a necklace, which fell in a teardrop pendant between her ample bosoms, even her wrists were adorned with strands of diamonds. Tanya was beautiful and radiant, Bella felt insignificant in her presence and it hurt her eyes to look at her for too long.
“Tanya, you look beautiful as always,” Edward said politely, kissing her cheek.
She flashed Bella a look that twisted her inside, and she reciprocated Edward’s embrace.
Bella knew she hadn’t gained a new friend.
The next few words out of Edward’s mouth were the ones Bella feared, and Tanya waited for, “I’ll go and fetch us all a drink,” and then he was gone.
Bella braced herself, the hairs bristled on the back of her neck, but she remained still and vowed not humiliate herself, Edward, or the Cullen’s by reacting to what poison was going to come from Tanya’s mouth.
Tanya could hardly believe she was getting the opportunity so soon to speak to Bella alone, when he was out of earshot and she was sure no one could possibly over hear she started.
“Edward greeted me at the carriage only this morning, to inform me that nothing has changed between us.” Tanya lied sweetly and nodded politely at passing guests. “I know you have spread your legs to ensnare him,” she continued maliciously. She’d hoped for a reaction from Bella by now, some shouting, perhaps a slap or some hair pulling, to show Edward what a commoner with no breeding, what-so-ever, she was. “After all he is a red blooded man and I suppose he needs something to practice on, until we can be together.” She looked Bella up and down in disgust, she was surprised and annoyed that Bella never even flinched. “But don’t think for one minute its love, how could he possibly love you, you’re nothing but a common gypsy whore.” Tanya laughed at Bella; to anyone around they may have thought she had shared something amusing.
The words stung and took her by surprise, she’d promised herself that she wouldn’t let the poison in, but Tanya had found the chinks in her armour, and discovered the insecurities that were already there. Bella bit back the tears with all the strength she had left in her body; she would not allow her to see that she was hurt.
“It’s been a pleasure, Tanya,” she replied through gritted teeth, held her head high and walked away using every ounce of willpower she had, before she slapped her pretty face.
Mrs Cullen had searched the room for Bella and spotted her talking with Tanya Denali on the terrace, lovely, she thought, she’d been so busy this morning with wedding activities she’d barely spoken; it would be good to pay her respects to both ladies.
Neither woman noticed Mrs Cullen’s approach, they didn’t see that she had stopped behind the large potted fern; it wasn’t her intention to eavesdrop but, she could see something was wrong by the way Bella was holding herself. The horrendous words that spewed from Tanya’s mouth stopped her in her tracks, she would never had believed it if she hadn’t heard them with her own ears.
Tanya had always been a good friend of the family and was loved dearly by the Cullen’s, but to hear these hateful words come from her now, broke Mrs Cullen’s heart. A new feeling made itself known in her heart, one of love and respect for Bella; she knew what she must do, she went to seek out her son.
Tanya felt quite pleased with herself; smug would be a more apt description, she had put Bella firmly in her place, so much so, she had not raised her face all afternoon. She’d discreetly made her way around the older, duller members of the reception; sitting and drinking tea. Tanya snorted, how very dull of her, she thought.
She, on the other hand, had showed what a social butterfly she was, flitting from one person to another, speaking with the young and beautiful, as well as the rich and famous members of the party. The Cullen’s were very well connected.
Tanya felt the need to demonstrate to Edward what kind of wonderful hostess and glamorous wife she would be; when he finally came to his senses and end the silly infatuation with the gypsy. When he realised, she was the kind of woman who’d be beneficial by his side.
There was a chinking of a glass as Dr. Cullen brought the wedding reception to order.
“Ladies-sss and gentlemen,” he swayed slightly, his cheeks had the ruddy glow of someone who’d consumed a little too much sherry. “It is my cush-tom I believe, as-sss father of the bride to propose a toast.” He held his glass out in front of him, grinning widely, he was most happy. Alice and Jasper were an excellent match and now he could forget about the circumstances in which he found out about them. Water under the bridge, he thought to himself.
Everyone in the room hushed as Alice and Jasper took their positions proudly beside him.
“Alice, my beautiful girl...” he turned to his daughter still smiling, and then to his new son, “... and Jasper, my very brave son-in-law, we wish you many happy years-sss together and lots...of fat babies.” He chuckled in amusement at himself and raised his glass, everyone followed suit.
“Cheers-sss!” He shouted a little loudly, sloshing his drink around precariously.
The room erupted with congratulations, chuckles and applause directed at the newlyweds.
Mrs Cullen was too anxious over what was happening next to scold her husband’s inappropriate toast.
“I believe my son, Edward, has a few words-sss as bestman,” Dr. Cullen bowed his head to his son and then moved over to pull his wife into a huge sloppy embrace. Mrs Cullen couldn’t help a little smile; her husband was a ‘happy and affectionate drunk.’
Edward laughed at his father; it was good to see him enjoying himself. He dragged his fingers through his hair and scanned the room, taking in all the expectant faces. Bella stood between Emmett and Rosalie. She reassured him with a heart-warming smile, silently encouraging him; she was thinking he was nervous about delivering his bestman’s speech.
He noted a look of sadness in her eyes.
Bella had thought she was prepared for Tanya’s wicked words, she could not have been more wrong. Her sharp tongue seemed to cut through her well constructed defence, like a hot knife through butter and Bella had paid heed to her vicious rant. Doubts began to form in her head and worse, her heart.
Could she make him happy? Was the class divide between them just too big? Would society accept them? Would Edward’s prospects suffer for the choice he’d made in a wife? Bella thought she couldn’t let him settle with her when he was destined for great things, good things; he’d worked hard his whole life. His wife should be his social equal, like Tanya, and that’s why the words had affected her, Bella was beneath him, she didn’t deserve him. Her head was in a turmoil, doubt and fear, grief and longing, she couldn’t get the air into her lungs quick enough and the room was beginning to spin; she was beginning to feel too hot.
“I will slap you if you don’t get control of your emotions.”
Bella was shocked out of her all-consuming thoughts, as if a bucket of cold water had been tipped over her by Rosalie, and a few well chosen words and an accompanying pinch to her upper arm.
“Owww!” Bella hissed.
It worked, suddenly the whole world was back in focus and all she could think of was the sharp pain under her arm.
“I warned you, you have to be strong and not fall at the first hurdle, he loves you, not Tanya, and, right now, he needs you.”
Bella glanced sideways at Rosalie who remained eyes forward, smiling serenely like she had never uttered a single word, it might have been a bizarre dream, but there was still a painful throbbing reminder.
Then, he smiled at her and she felt the glow in her heart, Rosalie was right, he was worth fighting for.
After he congratulated his sister and Jasper, and wished them well in their married life, on behalf of the whole room, and more drink was consumed as they toasted again. Edward took a deep breath and hoped, prayed he was doing the right thing. He didn’t want to upset Bella or Emmett; he glanced at the big man, he would need to speak to him alone later, perhaps to smooth things over, that was something to look forward to, he thought wryly.
Alice and Jasper grinned at him like lunatics, he had already spoken to them, asking for their permission for what he was about to say on their big day; they, of course, had granted it with their blessing. His mother looked on proudly and nodded her approval to go ahead. It was at times like this he realised how lucky he was to have the support of his wonderful family. He laughed at his father again, who grinned and waved at everyone, he had no idea of what his son was about to say and it was just as well, considering the inebriated state he was in, he might have just given the game away.
Edward tried not to look at Tanya, but she was hardly conspicuous, standing out like a beacon in the fog; in that ostentatious yellow dress. She had tried all afternoon to catch his eye, smiling, waving, winking rubbing up against him, and, ‘accidentally,’ bumping into him. He had never noticed before, how very obvious and forward she was until now. He’d watched her as she flirted her way around the room, with any and everyone she’d thought would be beneficial to her rise up the social ladder. Picking out the young and glamorous, blatantly ignoring the older and quieter members of the reception that sat in smaller groups around the room.
Bella, he’d noted, had been happier with quieter, smaller groups; was it a lack of confidence and practice in these situations? Was she comfortable with these people? Did she feel out of her depth? Or was it due to Tanya’s outburst?
Tanya had a look of smugness that he could hardly wait to wipe off her face. He’d had great trouble not confronting her straight away when his mother had told him of the conversation she’d overheard. Edward was dumbfounded then livid that she could say such wicked things to Bella, and that she thought he would never know of it. It also grieved him to think she had been a good friend to him, until now, one who had professed to love him, would she not know or care how this would hurt him?
Edward had alot to learn about women, especially a woman scorned.
He continued his speech and hoped it would be well received, by one person especially. “It is a happy time for all of us in the Cullen household, as you can see just by looking at Jasper and Alice,” Edward nodded at them; they returned the gesture with a smile. “It is most fortunate when you find the love of your life in your best friend, Emmett and Rosalie will attest to this,” he held out his glass to them, they smiled at each other and raised their glasses to him in return.
Edward moved from the front of the room slowly towards Bella, he saw her eyes widen momentarily and the pink blush creep across her beautiful face, when she realised he was coming for her. A complete hush fell across the room, not even a breath could be heard as the guests watched him.
He held out his hand for her.
Bella’s head and heart were of the same, she didn’t hesitate to take his outstretched hand.
“I wasn’t looking for love or a best friend when this woman came into my life.” He was sure he heard a huff from Tanya’s direction and would have loved to see the look upon her face, but that would mean taking his eyes off Bella and that was something he never intended on doing. “I want to do this properly,” he addressed Bella directly, subtly asking for her permission. She smiled and nodded.
Bella gasped as Edward got down on one knee in front of her. He looked up at her with such love and adoration and like the times before, everyone else seemed to vanish into the ether and it was just the two of them left in the whole world. There and then; Bella Swan gave thanks to all that was good and holy, never again would she consider giving him up.
“Bella, you have made me happier than I thought was possible; would you do me the great honour and consent to be my wife?”
There was a sob from within the room, Edward was sure this time- it came from his mother.
Tanya stood and seethed in the middle of the party, she was desperate to leave, but to go now would bring her attention she didn’t want. She was stuck and had no choice other than to witness the happy event.
Edward pulled a ring from his breast pocket; the stone was an oval cut peridot, the same green as his eyes Bella noted, surrounded by diamonds on a slim gold band, it was sheer elegance.
“The honour is all mine,” she said proud and loud for everyone to hear, and she took just a smidgeon of delight to know Tanya was here to bear witness.
Edward beamed widely as he slid the ring onto her finger. He, too, took a great deal of joy putting Tanya in her place, declaring his commitment to the love of his life in front of everyone he cared about.
It was too much for Tanya. “Preposterous!” She snapped, angrily throwing her arms in the air and left the room, shoving people out of her way as she left.
Mrs Cullen caught her firmly by the shoulder and discreetly whispered in her ear as she passed, “On behalf of Edward, and the rest of the Cullen’s you are no longer welcome in this house.”
Dr. Cullen looked at his wife with a puzzled expression.
“I’ll tell you later, dear,” she smirked, feeling immense satisfaction, and patted her husband’s cheek.
Mrs Clearwater beamed and was only too pleased; to hold the door for the two blonde vipers as they exited.
Their departure hardly registered, as the crowd had gathered around Edward and Bella.
“It’s exquisite,” Bella said looking from the ring into Edward’s eyes, marvelling at their similarity.
“It was my grandmother’s, when I told mother of my intentions to make you my wife; she gave it to me with her blessing.”
Bella could not help the sob that escaped her, or the rush of warm tears that flowed; she felt like, at last, she had been accepted.
Tanya and Irina wasted no time gathering their belongings and leaving the party, and in indignation at how rudely they were treated. Both unaware, after their poisonous, hateful words and childish behaviour, they would not be missed at all, and the wedding festivities went on late into the night.
By the time they had walked a few miles in the dark, cold and damp to the local inn, Tanya and Irina were exhausted, freezing and furious. The townsfolk soon made them feel at home and welcome, especially when they heard where they’d come from.
The landlord had their bags taken to their rooms, then the drinks flowed and tongues loosened.
The Cullen’s were noted for being very private, and their employees, who were usually the ones to dish the dirt, were extremely loyal to the family. So villages had to surmise what was going on for themselves. The elusive Cullen and the Hale families had come under a lot of scrutiny over the years, even more so this last six months; about the time the two Romany orphans were taken in. On the surface, the family seemed too good to be true, doing good deeds and charity work, a highly renowned doctor practicing in a small village, they paid their staff very well, which possibly bought their loyalty. Taking in waifs and strays; and allowing them to pair off with family members, this wasn’t expected normal behaviour.
Gossip was rife, but no one seemed to be able to get conformation; that was until Tanya and Irina landed in their laps and they were eager to talk; it was like an answer to prayer!
“That little gypsy whore...” Tanya spat the words out, pretending not to remember her name.
One of the townsfolk added, “Bella?”
“Well, she has tempted Edward from his path and into her bed!” Tanya continued.
“No!” There was a collective gasp from the crowd around her.
Tanya and Irina nodded in unison, hands clutched over their hearts, acting the part with indignation.
“You know how respectable the Cullen’s are?” Collective nods and a few indifferent shrugs, Tanya went on, “When Dr and Mrs Cullen found out, they were heartbroken, of course.”
There were more mutterings from around the room; the crowd absolutely loved it.
“They are setting a date for the wedding, soon.” Irina spoke up.
There was a hush now as they waited expectantly for the next words from her mouth.
“She is telling them she’s carrying his child.” Irina nodded.
People spoke excitedly between themselves.
“My sister is heartbroken,” Irina continued played the doting, caring sister and rubbed Tanya’s shoulder. “She was promised to Edward, and he was looking forward to having many children with her, that’s why he’s marrying the gypsy, he wants the child.”
Tanya dabbed at her eye with a handkerchief.
The barmaids rushed to her side offering words of comfort, men fetched more drinks from the bar to help them drown their sorrow and grief.
“You’re better off out of it.”
“A beautiful woman, such as yourself, will not have any problem finding a good husband.”
“God will punish her.”
Tanya left Stow never to return, knowing full well of the damage she’d left behind, and certain in her heart she would never see her beloved Edward again. Her heart was heavy and full of bitterness and the lies she’d woven had not brought the satisfaction or joy she’d thought they would.
As from that night Bella became the talk of the village, as the evil seductress who’d lured a good man into her bed and trapped him with a baby.
Bella began to stir and smile in the moment’s right before she woke and she stretched herself out alongside Edward’s warm, naked body. While she slumbered, he’d traced the outline of her lips with his fingertips, before he moved over her neck, and then teasingly lower, along the outer swell of her breasts, watching in fascination as her flesh broke into goosebumps causing her rosy nipples to pucker. He’d enjoyed watching her sleep, but now he grew impatient for her to wake. His cock was already proud and ready to enter her, the previous night’s lovemaking was still fresh in his mind, and had done little to quell his ardour, quite the opposite; it seemed to him that he had a permanent erection since Bella had come into his life. As much as he desired to, he restrained himself from mounting her while she slept, he was too much of a gentleman; although he was sure she wouldn’t mind. Bella was proving to be as insatiable as he was, he couldn’t wait until the time when they could be joined in holy matrimony, the idea of legally keeping her in his bed all day, was all he could think about, several times he was close to dragging her to the church and demanding the vicar perform the service right then and there.
He smiled gently and stroked the wayward curls from obstructing her lovely face from his gaze. These were the precious moments he would remember for a lifetime, these quiet moments right before the whole house was awake, and the noise began, everyone bustling around going about their daily business. The hours between midnight and the break of dawn was their time; Bella smiled a sleepy smile and held her arms open for his embrace.
“I could keep you here in my bed for eternity,” He whispered breathily into the crook of her neck eliciting a quiet giggle. Silence was paramount, it wouldn’t be wise for them to be caught and incur the wrath of his mother; little did they know of Alice and Jasper. So there was much sneaking around during the unearthly hours, between their bedrooms.
Bella had conceded to move into the main house when she’d agreed to marry Edward, giving Emmett and Rosalie the opportunity to prepare the cottage for their married life together, which would start in a few days’ time.
Rosalie had surprised Bella; she was obviously a very wealthy woman, yet she chose the simple things in life; not including her brother. She worked alongside him in the stables, clearly at home mucking out the horses, grooming, riding, and putting them out to pasture, it was almost as if she preferred the company of the animals to people. Bella had grown to love and respect Rosalie and now looked upon her as an older sister, and she was extremely good for Emmett, Bella had never seen him look happier or healthier in his life and, to look at the two, they were clearly besotted with each other. She was delighted he had found his soul mate in Rosalie, he deserved joy and happiness in his life, from now on and she would ensure he wouldn’t have to look out, or worry for her ever again.
Bella’s wandering mind returned when Edward impaled her with his cock, bringing her focus back to him in an instant, every nerve inside her vagina woke and rejoiced at his intrusion.
Her eyes rolled and her back arched in response to his slow withdrawal, then re-entering her at an equally slow and torturous rate. He closed his eyes and marvelled in the divine sensations that filled him at being one with her, he continued this slow pace, taking delight in extending their pleasure for as long as he physically could, committing to his memory every wonderful feeling that came from sliding in and out of her.
“Oh please,” she beseeched him, running her hands across her breasts, and writhing beneath him, he enjoyed her words and sounds immensely during lovemaking. Edward watched as she continued to touch herself, grabbing and squeezing at her breasts and nipples, while he continued to thrust himself into her. Their previous love making had been in the darkness, it gave him great joy to see her in the daylight, her skin radiated with the golden glow of the pale morning sunshine and her dark hair fanned out across the white cotton pillows.
Bella opened her eyes to see him watching her with unadulterated love and lust in his eyes, and it thrilled her to the core.
Edward was surprised when Bella grinned wickedly, and then slipped two fingers into his mouth.
“Suck,” she demanded.
He could hardly believe his eyes, as she ran the wet digits down her body to the place where they joined, to caress herself.
He felt his cock and libido double in size.
Bella felt quite wanton and brave in her actions, and held Edward’s gaze while she continued to touch herself.
He felt the swell of desire and pressure began to form deep within him, as she quickened her ministrations and the thought that she was masturbating while he looked on and fucked her, was too much to bear and nearly brought him to a premature conclusion. He watched her pant and writhe in ecstasy beneath him and his thrusts quickened.
Their eyes remained on each other as rapture took them, it was much more than a shared intimate experience for the both of them; it was like glimpsing on the other’s soul or seeing into the very heart of a person.
“I’m ... I’m ... I’m coming,” she gasped, her face contorting in pleasure.
Edward reached the crescendo of his powerful climax with her, somehow reigning in enough control to withdraw from her just in time and spill his seed on her belly.
He decided today he would have to travel to the next village, for the sake of anonymity, to purchase a condom. Many of his friends and fellow students already owned one and although they had said it de- sensitize the experience somewhat, he didn’t want to impregnate Bella just yet, but at least he was conscious enough to notice it was getting more difficult to withdraw at the chosen time, and it was only a matter of time before he got lost in the experience and lay his seed inside of her. Although a baby wouldn’t be the end of the world, as they would be wed soon enough, he was feeling selfish; he didn’t want to share her just yet.
“Marry me soon,” he urged, allowing his body to fall on top of hers, trapping her beneath him.
Bella enjoyed feeling the weight of him, his manhood resting between her legs, she could feel it twitch, and she knew it wouldn’t be long before it was upstanding and swollen again; his handsome face looked down upon her from above. Overwhelming emotion took her by surprise, leaving her reeling and breathless, just when she thought she couldn’t love him any more than she did, her heart swelled with love for him, to the point of aching. His face was framed by his soft bronze hair, all messed up from their morning (and evening) romp and there was a wicked twinkle in his green eyes; she glanced at the colour of her engagement ring, which paled in comparison.
All thoughts of a Christmas wedding vanished, how could she make him wait? “We could pay a visit to the vicar this morning.”
“Really,” he said kissing her hard and quick between her giggles, over and over again. Before long, the playfulness ceased and was replaced with need and want and hunger, desire coursed through the both of them, and very soon, he’d slipped back inside of her.
“Welcome.” The vicar said with his usual joviality, he was a most friendly and hospitable man and most suited to his job. He swept his arm back and welcomed them into his humble cottage alongside the church, a roaring fire burned in the hearth and the warm smell of toasty bread filled the air, the place had a homely feel, which made Bella and Edward comfortable.
“Mrs Crowley, we have company,” he shouted, and a robust, dark haired woman bustled into the room wiping her hands on the apron around her waist.
“Good morning my dears, would you like some tea? I have a fresh pot brewing.”
“That would be lovely, thank you,” answered Bella for the both of them.
The wind had chilled them and they both moved across the fireplace to rub their hands together and discreetly turned and warm their backsides.
“We’ve been expecting you,” Mrs Crowley said on her return, making herself busy handing out hot cups of tea.
“Mrs Crowley,” her husband said in a warning tone.
“Sorry dear,” she said blushing and left the room, leaving Bella and Edward both looking a little puzzled at each other.
“Please excuse my wife.” He rubbed his hands together and plopped himself down in the overstuffed armchair. “Right, what can I do for you?”
“We’d like to get married,” Edward grinned at Bella, then reached out his hand for hers.
Pastor Crowley was pleased to have diverted an uncomfortable conversation; he would need to discipline his wife later for her loose tongue. The gossip had reached their ears and he, too, had been expecting a visit from them, if what they were saying in the village was true and the gypsy girl was with child, they would indeed need to wed post haste. The Cullen’s were nothing if they weren’t responsible and, if Edward had got the girl into trouble, Dr and Mrs Cullen were good Christians and would make sure he’d do right by her.
After half an hour being charmed in their company, Pastor Crowley had to admit, they did seem to be truly in love with one another. His leading questions along the lines of babies and keeping themselves pure before their marriage night had not opened either one up, to disclosing information that she was with child. He had no qualms about marrying the two, this union was a match made in heaven; he prided himself on seeing a good pairing when he saw it. So, the date was fixed for a month from today, enough time to issue the banns. He chuckled, it had been a lucrative couple of months from the Cullen household; with them all getting wed close together.
Bella had agreed to accompany Mrs Cullen into the village; she enjoyed the walk and looked forward to doing some shopping. Bella had a small amount of money she’d saved from her work and was looking to buy some fabric, perhaps she would see something simple and pretty to make a modest wedding outfit, she thought.
Edward took a walk with them, bribing them with the offer of carrying their purchases back from the village.
Mrs Cullen had wanted the time alone with Bella; a time to talk and grow better acquainted with her future daughter-in-law, as they had gotten off to a rocky start, which she knew, in no small part, was because of her. She still felt awfully ashamed of her behaviour towards Edward and Bella’s growing attraction in the beginning, and no amount of apologies could assuage her guilt, time would have to deal with it, she thought.
Edward left the ladies to go and see how Jacob was fairing with Mr Black, and agreed to meet up with them later.
“Have you set the date?” Mrs Cullen asked gleefully as soon as Edward was out of earshot.
“The second Saturday in November,” Bella politely answered Mrs Cullen’s enquiry.
They both knew Edward would want to share the news when they were all together at supper, but Bella was so excited she needed to tell someone, and Alice would not be back from her honeymoon until supper tonight.
“I think I’d better buy another new dress,” beamed Mrs Cullen, who did seem to be genuinely pleased.
Bella could sense she was trying to be friendlier towards her, but she was having a little trouble trusting her completely. She’d been really hurt to discover Mrs Cullen’s involvement in Edward’s departure, and her admission to why she didn’t want them together. Especially as Bella had begun to see her as a mother figure, she had given the illusion she was welcome in the family, and actively encouraged her friendship with Alice. Bella knew she was going to have to forgive and forget, she was about to marry her son and become part of the family, it was time for a new slate.
“Let’s go and see the dressmaker first,” Mrs Cullen looped her arm through Bella’s and walked them quickly in the direction of the shop with the beautiful fabrics in the window.
While Mrs Cullen spoke with the seamstress, Bella wandered the little shop, fingering the beautiful reams of silks, satins and lace, wishing her budget would stretch to these exquisite fabrics, she would only need a few yards to make a simple little gown, nothing too fancy.
“Have you seen something you like?”
Bella jumped, she hadn’t heard or seen Mrs Cullen’s approach as she was too wrapped up in her day dreams.
She blushed deeply and moved quickly to the simple cheaper cottons she could afford.
“I like this one, or this one,” she picked out two pretty fabrics that would suffice and make a suitable wedding gown, and would also make a lovely Sunday dress, or for a special occasion.
“Bella, dear, my son would not forgive me if you didn’t get the fabric you really wanted.”
Mrs Cullen saw Bella’s eyes flash to the creamy coloured lace and satins.
“I like this one,” she insisted pointing to the cheaper fabric.
Mrs Cullen walked away and picked up the ream of cream fabric, “Edward would love to see you in this Bella; it would compliment your skin perfectly.”
She shook her head, but walked towards the material, she could just imagine the simple wedding gown she’d pictured in her mind.
“I could pay you back,” Bella reached out to touch it; she’d never seen anything so beautiful.
“Let’s get you measured,” the plump little seamstress appeared with her tape measure.
Mrs Cullen laughed at Bella’s look of shock and she explained the dress would be made for her, just how she wanted, by the wonderfully talented ladies in the shop. Bella relaxed and allowed her to move around her with the tape measure.
“If we take the waist higher, there will be no need of alterations,” the seamstress said.
“Pardon?” Bella and Mrs Cullen said together.
“Sorry,” the seamstress said, “As her belly grows ...” The girl blushed then carried on, her voice getting quieter as she’d realised what she said. “There would be no need to let the dress out ...”
Bella and Mrs Cullen exchanged a horrified look.
“Why would my belly ...?” Bella realised what the shop girl implied. “B-but I’m not expecting,” she stuttered looking to Mrs Cullen; it was her turn to blush scarlet.
“Of course not, Miss,” the seamstress retorted, looking at the floor, obvious she was trying to pacify her but there was the feeling between them she didn’t believe Bella.
Mrs Cullen felt her anger begin to rise. “How dare you,” she snapped, the girl and Bella jumped immediately and looked at her in surprise. “How dare you presume she is pregnant, where have you got that preposterous idea from?”
“The ...the whole village is talking about her ma’am,” the girl whispered quickly, her face paled, she had a feeling Mrs Cullen wasn’t someone to trifle with.
The manageress appeared curious to why there was raised voices in her shop, she was stunned to see who it was. “Mrs Cullen, how very good to see you, now what is the problem?”
“Your girl,” she spat out, “has informed us the village is gossiping about Edward getting Bella in the family way.”
“Yes,” she answered matter-of-factly, “Your blonde guest, Tanya? Informed the patrons in the inn; we presumed as she is a family friend ...” She gestured with her hands as the sentence came to a stop.
It all made sense to Bella now, the strange conversation in the vicarage when Mrs Weber had said she’d been expecting them.
Tanya’s tirade at Bella filled both their minds; and Bella was still unaware that Mrs Cullen had overheard the conversation between them.
“For your information, that is a vicious rumour, started by a scorned woman and I would mind you to inform everyone of that.” She didn’t wait for a response. “Come on Bella,” Mrs Cullen grabbed Bella by the arm,” We will shop elsewhere,” and she marched them from the shop.
Bella was reeling, people were gossiping about her being pregnant, Tanya was so very jealous, but, most of all, Mrs Cullen had defended her.
The three made the journey back home in silence and in half the time they normally would, as Mrs Cullen was so angry she’d marched them back and they’d both attempted to keep up. When they reached the drive, she turned on the pair very quickly, which made them recoil. “If you get her pregnant before the wedding, Edward Cullen,” Mrs Cullen snapped at her son, pointing a finger straight at him, “I will personally see to it you will not be fit to fulfil your husbandly duties. Do I make myself understood?”
The colour drained from Edward’s face, “Y-yes mother.”
She turned to Bella, who was wide eyed in shock; she bobbed her head quickly in compliance, before Mrs Cullen shouted at her too.
“Now, go and get cleaned up for supper,” she barked, and they both scurried into the house before she could say anything else, Mrs Cullen was scary.
Emmett lost himself as he gazed into the flames of the campfire, the yellow, red, and orange flames licked and crackled as they danced on the pile of kindling. It’d felt like an eternity since he’d built a fire and then sat dreamily gazing, losing himself in its golden depths until his eyes watered and smarted with the heat, his face flushed and glowed, despite the cold around him. This was goodbye to his old life, as tomorrow; he would be wed to the beautiful Rosalie, an angel put on this earth for him and he was sure he was the luckiest man on earth.
Out here close to nature, surrounded and safe with the people he loved, Emmett could feel the presence of his mother and father, whispering to him in the night air. So many memories were ignited by the smell of the fire, of times long gone; singing songs, telling stories, feeling full and dozy, wrapped in the comforting glow of the firelight. He would fight to keep these memories and pass them on to his children, if he and Rosalie should be blessed with them. He imagined himself a good father, he would love and cherish them always. Emmett glanced sideways at Rosalie, who’d snuggled into his side and rested her head, tired and heavy on his shoulder. It had been her idea to spend this night, the night before their wedding, here, out in the open, in remembrance of his parents and friends, Emmett and Bella had liked the idea. They might have suffered in their upbringing in some way, due to losing one parent after another, and had been left in the care of a twisted and seriously disturbed uncle, but the life of a traveller had been a good one, and there were things both Emmett and Bella were missing about their old life. The freedom and choice, the actual travelling to see new places, the bond within the group; granted that had diminished when Marcus took care of them, but, when their father was alive, Emmett and Bella had moved around the group, loved and cared for by them all. Being at one with nature, you could feel you belonged and your place in the world, watching the seasons change, feeling them change inside your very being. Every shift in the air told you something different, the way the wind blew; the smells on the air, watching the birds fly south and then their return. Becoming so attuned, it was possible to predict how harsh a winter or how hot a summer was going to be, when the rain was coming or an impending storm.
Emmett glanced across at Bella, who lay in the confines of Edward’s loving arms, he could see the pain still clearly etched on her face, but he knew and trusted she was safe with him. The police had visited them that very morning.
“Emmett, Bella,” the constable had nodded grimly at them; Mrs Clearwater had left to fetch some tea that had been requested. Dr Cullen had remained in the room with them at their request. Edward was doing his rounds, there was a lady in the valley about to give birth and his father had asked him to check in on her. Rosalie was out riding with Jasper, who was back from his honeymoon. Alice rested in bed, feeling tired and sick; it was early days, everyone hoped, but no one said anything yet, time would tell.
“We managed to track down your travelling friends.”
Emmett had felt his stomach lurch, the constable’s appearance was grim, and he feared bad news.
“Oh!” Bella interrupted, “Mrs Weber?”
“It took us a while,” he smiled without humour, “and I am sorry to inform you miss,” he looked toward Bella, “Mrs Weber passed away a few weeks back.”
“No,” Bella whispered weakly, and the tears fell, Emmett was quick to pull his sister into his huge arms and cradle her against his chest, like he used to when she was a little girl.
“Shhh,” he cooed softly and stroked her hair as she sobbed into him, “They’ll be together again, take a little comfort from that Bella.”
She sniffed and nodded, he was right but it didn’t stop the grief which consumed her, Mrs Weber had been the closest thing to a mother or grandmother she’d ever had.
After Marcus’ death, Bella eventually had to disclose her whole life to the police; certain parts of it had been extremely painful. It was during the time Edward was in London. Dr. Cullen and Emmett had stayed with her the whole time, holding her hand or stroking her back, helping her with the words; it had been a slow and torturous process. Her brother had proved valuable in filling in the missing pieces for Bella, and the police. When her story had been told, they promised to find Mrs Weber and inform her of her daughter’s fate; after all, not knowing was worse than knowing the truth. She would’ve been able to mourn her loss, even after all these years.
Edward returned ecstatic and rushed to find Bella first. “I’ve delivered my first baby.”
Bella had cupped his cheeks and kissed him tenderly, “Well done my love.”
But he saw the sadness in her eyes; she always displayed so much emotion in her eyes. “What’s the matter, my love?”
Edward’s heart ached as she recalled the morning and the events that lead up to it, he stayed still and quiet. Bella realised too late his silence meant he blamed himself for not being there when she needed him.
“So, the baby; boy or a girl?” She asked as a means of distraction.
“A girl,” he said smiling, his earlier joy diminished, and for being the cause of that, Bella was sorry.
It was too cold to spend the whole night in the woods, Edward and Rosalie had reluctantly started walking slowly back to the house, leaving Bella and Emmett to some privacy.
“Are we really going to do this?” Bella asked.
“I think we need to,” answered Emmett holding his hand out to her.
They walked the short distance into the clearing of the woods, to the place their caravan had been abandoned. Emmett built another fire, and Bella lit candles and placed them safely into storm jars which they’d borrowed from the stables, they stood back to look. It was a sorry sight to see, even by candle and firelight, which could make the grimmest places warm, inviting and romantic.
The dancing flames cast long eerie shadows across the peeling paintwork; before she could reign in her imagination, Bella imagined Marcus’ ghost rising in the place he’d perished, to finish what he’d started. Her blood ran cold and she shivered, as if someone had walked over her grave.
Bella and Emmett stared for what they though could have been hours, but was, in fact, only mere minutes, the hoot of an owl close by startled them both, breaking the trance that had held them both.
“Come on, let’s get this over with,” Emmett said, and Bella thought she saw him shudder too.
Damp muskiness assaulted their olfactory senses when they entered the place they had once called home. A place which held no love for them now, tainted with the bad memories, which had infested and spread like a tumour, suffocating the good and happy times that had once filled the small place. But they both needed to make sure for themselves, that there was no going back.
“Let’s just check there’s nothing we want, before we burn it,” Emmett’s voice was filled with repugnance which took Bella a little by surprise.
She looked half heartedly not expecting to find any joy here, Marcus had taken anything of value to sell, not that there was alot. There had been a few pieces of jewellery that had once belonged to her mother, grandmother and even great-grandmother and trinkets from their travels, which one day would have belonged to her and Emmett.
“Do you remember this?” Emmett’s demeanour changed, it softened slightly; he smiled when he held up his find to Bella. She reached out to the tatty little book, its pages were curly, damp and watermarked, but it had been well loved.
“Little Rabbit,” she said wistfully, “You read this to me every night for weeks.”
“Months,” Emmett laughed, “It was your favourite, you wouldn’t let me or father read you anything else, in-fact I could recite that story in my sleep.”
Bella hugged the book to her breast, thinking perhaps one day she could read the story to her own children.
“Mother’s bible, and father’s pipe,” Bella exclaimed, as she rifled with a bit more enthusiasm through a little discarded wooden box, she’d discovered in the back of a cupboard.
Emmett picked the pipe up and put it to his nose and inhaled deeply, there was just the slightest whiff of tobacco, enough to stir the memories of his father sat by the campfire smoking, smiling, his eyes crinkling around the edges.
“I loved the smell of tobacco,” it was his turn to be wistful.
“You should have it,” Bella said, “Father would want you to.”
Emmett squeezed his fingers around the simple shape and blinked back the sting of hot tears in his eyes, “Thank you.”
They continued to look through the caravan, finding the odd treasure that had been left because Marcus deemed it too inconsequential to sell, and viewed it as worthless; Bella and Emmett could not have been more delighted if it had been gold or diamonds.
They stood on the grass side by side, their precious possession tied up in cotton parcels; they resembled a pair of vagrants, with all their worldly possessions tucked under their arms. They watched as the flames took hold, at first the damp structure resisted, but soon it succumbed and the flames won, cleansing, exorcising, and reducing their childhood home to a pile of embers.
“Come on,” he said taking her hand, “Let’s go home.
It grieved them both not to be alongside their lovers, but they would never disclose it; they knew it was something Bella and Emmett needed to do together. The time approached midnight before they returned, both emotionally drained and quiet, every pore smelled of smoke and tears streaked their sooty faces.
Silently, Emmett and Rosalie disappeared into the darkness after kissing Bella on the forehead and nodding goodnight to Edward. Tonight, they would spend together, even though it was the eve of their wedding, they weren’t exactly the conventional couple and they chose not to start now. Emmett needed Rosalie in his arms and she needed him and nothing on this earth would keep them apart.
Hand in hand, quietly, Edward escorted Bella to her room, they’d been careful to keep a respectful distance after his mother’s scolding, and it was agonising for the pair, not to fall asleep and wake the following morning in each other’s arms. To touch, kiss and caress, hear the sigh of contentment or the moan of pleasure, and neither one had slept soundly these past few weeks; they counted the weeks until their own wedding day.
Bella sullenly undressed and dropped her smoky scented clothing to the floor, her heart was heavy with grief, it’d been emotionally exhausting to say goodbye to a way of life tonight, more than she expected it would, yet she had no desire to return to it, she knew her future lay with Edward. Perhaps it was losing what had been a link to her parents, although there hadn’t been much left, she looked at the few things she had rescued, her favourite childhood story book, a roll of paper with a simple inked image of her mother and father, a bible, which contained the Old and New Testaments as well as a piece of cheap costume jewellery- a butterfly shaped hair slide. Emmett had his father’s pipe, a book of the apostles and a horse shaped brooch that he liked and wanted to give it to Rosalie as a wedding token, Bella had thought it apt and they were both sure she would be touched by the sentiment.
She thought of Angela and the tears rolled again, it had been a long time since she thought of her little friend, some memories were hazy, while others were as clear as day; chasing butterflies through the long grass, eating blackberries until their mouths were black, helping Emmett tickle trout, they hadn’t been very good at catching the fish when they jumped, but both girls had, had a great time trying, much to Emmett’s annoyance.
‘You keep frightening them away with your laughing,’ he’d said, but his face didn’t stay annoyed for long and soon they were all helpless on the riverbank.
Her thoughts turned to Mrs Weber, she’d never been the same woman since the disappearance of her little girl, the life had drained from her and she simply existed for her remaining years, living a half life, waiting, always waiting for news of Angela. ‘I know she’s gone, she had once said to Bella, ‘but there’s the smallest flicker of hope that causes me pain, keeps the wound open.’ She understood Mrs Weber’s words now.
Bella had offered up a prayer as she watched her old home burn, for her mother and father as well as Angela and Mrs Weber, she’d felt peaceful in her mind and heart; it was time to grieve the loss of the ones that she’d loved and lost. Before she knew it, Bella was out of her room and running, her body reacted to the ache in her heart before her mind registered what was going on; she needed the comfort of his arms around her, sleep would not come if she were not by his side and their hearts beating in time as one.
Edward had resigned himself to spending the next few weeks surviving on a small amount of sleep, but it would be worth it in the end, a lifetime with his beloved, they would never have to be parted again, he smiled as he thought of the wedding vows; Therefore what God has joined together let no man put asunder.
Until then, his bed was a cold and lonely place without her, he missed the feel of her body pressed, wrapped around his, her scent that pervaded his dreams and even the way she talked in her sleep, but, tonight, he felt worse more unsettled than he usually did.
He jumped from his bed in agitation, before he knew what he was doing, Edward was out of his room, his intention was to watch her sleep, perhaps he could gain a little comfort if he was close by, he would not disturb or touch her, but he’d watch, listen and rest in the old rocking chair in her room.
He sensed her approach before he saw her, like a beautiful ethereal apparition, she moved silently along the corridor her white cotton nightie billowing behind her as she ran until at last she was in his arms, kissing his face and neck.
“I love you, I need you,” she cried, tears soaked his face; his or hers he didn’t care, she was here. Edward carried her through his room and wrapped them both into his bed, a happy place now, filled with warmth and love and his Bella.
“I’m never letting you go,” he whispered into the sweetest, tender kisses.
Bella sighed contently and relaxed into his arms, the place she belonged.
They slept soundly, entwined and safe in each other.
The final two chapters will be posted next week.
Rosalie and Emmett’s wedding was just as beautiful and poignant as Alice and Jasper’s had been, but the contrast between the two was defined by personality, preference, and choice. Where Alice’s had been grand and stunning, Rosalie’s was intimate and breath-taking, both services were memorable in their own way and both reflecting the couples perfectly.
Bella began to wonder what her wedding to Edward would look like.
The same church looked so different, simple twigs of witch hazel and garlands of winter jasmine adorned the pews and alter. The guests that came to celebrate were immediate family and a few friends. Rosalie was exquisite in a simple pale blue gown and dark blue cape, in stark contrast to Alice’s elaborate, sumptuous cream satin and lace dress. Rosalie carried a small posy of jasmine and a polished horseshoe with white ribbon laced through it, a small token from her favourite mare, Briar. Emmett was extremely dashing in his black mourning suit and high collared shirt wide open at the neck, he’d begged her to let him forgo the usual tie or cravat, he was extremely uncomfortable in formal wear as it was; a neck tie would make him feel as if he was being elegantly been choked to death. If he needed conformation he was marrying the right woman, he got it when she answered. “Wear what you want my love, I’d marry you in your birthday suit!”
A single choir boy sung Love Divine all Love Excelling as they stood to exchange their vows, no one gave her away and there were no groomsmen or bridesmaids in attendance, it was a simple but beautiful affair that reflected the newlyweds perfectly. Within the hour, the new Mr and Mrs Emmett Swan left the church for a family meal at Cullen Hall with their nearest and dearest.
An extravagance they did agree to as a wedding gift was the photographer; a portrait of this happy day was something they would cherish for years to come. Then they spent the remainder of the week locked in their little cottage asking not to be disturbed until they chose to surface.
Dora Hale had roared with laughter when she’d heard of her daughter and son-in-law’s honeymoon plans.
“She’s her father daughter, that one,” she professed as she remembered fondly, her own honeymoon with Caius, they had also lived with parents and he’d insisted on a honeymoon locked in their rooms, not to be disturbed until they unlocked the door. Food was left outside regularly; she and Caius had spent five glorious days in bed, that’s when she conceived her first child, Rosalie.
Dora glowed when she thought of her husband, even death, she felt, could not truly part them, when she had such wonderful memories to keep her warm. Dora could still feel his presence- daily, there was always something to remind her of him, and her love for him continued to grow stronger, unfortunately, so did her health and strength. Since she’d heard the official news that she was to be a grandmother, her health had taken a turn for the better. At first she was annoyed, she wanted to be reunited with her husband, but she believed Caius had other ideas, giving her the strength, then the desire she needed to carry on living, and it looked like she was going to be around for the arrival of her first grandchild. With each passing day, new vigour for life began to swell until she no longer dreamed about dying and looked forward to each new day.
Despite the scolding Mrs Cullen had given the shop-girl and manageress of the fabric shop, news of Bella and Edward’s impending nuptials, due to her expecting his baby, was the talk of the village.
Mrs Clearwater was also suddenly very popular, receiving invitations for tea at several establishments, for juicy bits of gossip from the Cullen’s, something she had never enjoyed or taken part in and she still refrained now. The old adage of, People in glass houses should never throw stones, rung clear in her head and she was very conscious- Seth was in a homosexual relationship with Jacob. How long would it be before people would notice? And then they would be the subject at everyone’s dinner table; she shuddered at the thought.
Bella bore the brunt of the hissed whisperings with grace and dignity squaring her small frame and ignoring the comments every time she ventured into the village.
“I’ll fetch the groceries,” Bella insisted.
“No dear, Mrs Clearwater will go,” Mrs Cullen answered.
Mrs Clearwater agreed in the background, “I was heading to the village to see Jacob anyway.”
Bella smiled she could tell what both women were trying to do, and she was touched by their concern. “Please let me go, I want to and I do so enjoy the walk.”
She saw the women glance at each other; she wasn’t convincing either of them.
“I have to go and show them, I’m not afraid of their words.” Bella relented and spoke the truth, and this time she couldn’t hide the emotion in her voice.
Mrs Cullen’s eyes became glassy as she looked at the brave young woman before her, it was as if she was suddenly seeing her through new eyes, long gone was the frail, frightened little orphan. Her mind quickly sifted through the patchwork of images from the past year, she had been by no means crude or impolite when she’d arrived, but Bella had evolved like a caterpillar does into a butterfly. Her demeanour, speech, and presentation showed someone of class and grace, but without the pretention or the hoity attitude that does sometimes develop. Although she’d had a few rough edges, they were smoother now, but she had always remained true to herself. Mrs Cullen could see how much Bella loved her son, he would be always taken care of with her in his life, and equally, she could see he loved her unconditionally.
She suddenly found herself humbled before Bella; she had come into her own life and quietly challenged her, then showed her what kind of person she should, and want to, aspire to be. Bella had never judged and treated everyone as equals; this thought made Mrs Cullen smile as she recalled Bella bringing tea to Lady Crowley and then the errand boy, who’d been sent from the village to fetch Dr. Cullen. It was even more of a surprise when she seated the pair of them together in the parlour. Mrs Cullen stifled a giggle, to this day she couldn’t decide who was the more shocked, her included.
Bella swallowed hard she didn’t want to show any weakness, she needed to stay strong. What Tanya had said still hurt, and the villagers’ words were mean and spiteful, they thought her an opportunist who had used her body to get her claws in a good honest man. She wanted to shout and show them she loved him, adored him, and worshipped the ground he walked on. It would be the same if he were a poor man, if only they would believe her. Could they not see the look on her face, and in her eyes, how much she loved Edward Cullen? She thought her very essence screamed the words.
“If I start hiding now and avoiding them, they will have won and so will Tanya and I will not give them that pleasure.” Bella was aware she gritted her teeth as she spoke and was surprised at how stubborn she had become recently; those around her were proud of her tenacity.
“They’re a fickle lot,” Mrs Clearwater suddenly piped up, “Next week they’ll have their noses in some other poor old sod’s business.”
Mrs Cullen and Bella looked in shock at the housekeeper before bursting into laughter; it was novel to hear her express herself in such a manner, and the tension in the kitchen was lifted. Bella and Mrs Clearwater agreed, and took the walk together.
Edward decide to ride on ahead into the village on horseback, if he got there first, which he would, he could not be accused of following, he thought smugly. He admired Bella’s way of dealing with the gossip, but he wished she would allow him to occasionally take care of her, and escort her into the village; he wanted to protect her, take her arm and proudly show her off. People would see how much they were in love and would cast aside the notions Tanya had put in their heads, even as he thought it, he knew it wouldn’t be the way, that’s not how people functioned. They preferred to think the worst of each other and sit in judgement, then spent the rest of the time gossiping about them.
Time passed swiftly as he rode, his horse seemed to have taken over, knowing the route while Edward was too wrapped up in his thoughts.
The post master hollered his name, snapping him from his reverie and waved an envelope in his direction, it was addressed to him, in a hand he recognised, it was from Peter.
Inside there was a small envelope for Mr. and Mrs. Clearwater no doubted from their daughter Leah who was now in their service, there was another envelope for himself; and a note from Peter, explaining a fellow medical student, by the name of Michael, had come calling. He’d had news he needed to share with him, Peter explained in his letter, he’d urged the young man to write his news down and he’d make sure he got it. Edward was grateful for Peter’s thoughtfulness, he recalled he wasn’t too impressed with Michael and he wondered why he would be writing to him now.
Edward felt the colour drain from his face and he screwed the letter up in his fist, before shoving it into pocket, promising to himself, first thing when he got home, he would ensure that letter would go straight on to the fire.
Michael’s news was about Ben; it seems his one night of wanton pleasure with Kate had resulted in him contracting syphilis. He was most ill and uncomfortable at the moment, but that was mainly down to the treatment of taking mercury internally and rubbing it into his affected areas. Michael went on to explain he was fine as he had not touched the whore, and he was too drunk to remember if Edward had entered her.
He was furious at first, then ashamed that for a moment he had considered fucking her; then he was so very grateful he hadn’t, thanking God silently, over and over for helping him see sense. He closed his eyes; he could imagine the shame he would have brought upon himself, and his family, and he’d shared himself intimately with Bella.
He had an overwhelming desire to see his Bella, to feel the comfort of her arms around him and she, pressed against him in his embrace, only then would he would feel content in this disagreeable world.
It didn’t take him long to spot her from his vantage point on horseback, he watched her proudly walking the busy streets alone, as people stopped in little groups to gossip behind their hands, or to watch her, no doubt trying to see evidence of her fattening belly. She continued her business with head held high and the blush continually growing scarlet upon her cheeks; she so did hate the redness that invaded her. Edward found it charming, giving her a sweet innocence. He hated that she was alone in this, but people still chose to believe Tanya and blame Bella, leaving him from the equation, like he was of no consequence and he really didn’t know whether to be angry or laugh.
He guided his steed slowly through the busy marketplace, eventually the crowd began to part as he made his way directly towards Bella, who was so busy being brave, and not paying any one any attention, that she didn’t notice her knight in shining armour coming to the rescue.
Bella stopped when the flank of a black stallion blocked her path, she looked up irked that someone had been so rude to position the animal in her way, her nerves and temper were beginning to fray and shred at the edges, and she didn’t know how long she could bite her lip and refrain from yelling at someone.
He gazed softly down at her, his piercing green eyes touching her heart and soul- like he could see right through her, his soft bronze hair in glorious disarray around his head, and his smile, the one that was just for her, the one that melted her inside, and reminded her she was a woman. Edward held out his hand, Bella stepped forward to take it without even thinking, and with one pull, he lifted and had her seated in front of him, with his arms wrapped around her.
The marketplace was silent as everyone froze, Edward’s skin prickled as he was aware of every single pair of eyes were upon them. He didn’t know why he did it, perhaps it was to define her as different from all the other women here today, but he removed the pins and slides from her hair, allowing her lush mahogany tresses to fall free, that’s how she wore her hair when they first met. He combed his fingers underneath, from her scalp to the ends of her hair and he watched her eyes close and felt her body tremor with pleasure; she was so responsive to his touch.
Then he tilted his head slightly, Bella felt her heart speed up, beating loudly against her ribs, like the hooves of the horse she was sat upon, surely Edward would be able to hear? She knew what was coming and she was powerless to stop him.
Slowly, he moved towards her, both closing their eyes as his lips so very gently pressed to hers. Bella let out the softest of sighs and ran her hands up his body and into his hair.
The people of the village gasped in shock. People, decent people, didn’t show affection in public, it was acceptable to hold a loved one’s arm and sometimes their hand, but never a kiss and not by unwed folk. But they couldn’t remove their eyes from that very sweet, tender honest embrace, it would be forever scorched into their memories, like staring at the sun leaves a fiery impression behind your eyelids, to haunt their quiet moments right before sleepy and waking; reminding them that absolute, true love existed.
Edward rested his forehead against hers and caressed her cheek with the tips of his fingers while whispering his words of undying love, before directing Muse, his horse, to move through the people, gathering speed as the crowd parted.
The crowd continued to watch, bewitched by the whole scene, Edward rode away with his love in his arms, her long dark hair billowing out, carried along on the breeze, they continued to watch until they could no longer see them, and then the spell was broken. They went back to their empty little lives, feeling and questioning the love they had or hadn’t got in their hearts.
Last chapter up tomorrow.
Thanks to my Beta's js18 & RAH07890
Bella gazed across the choppy grey waters of the Atlantic, Liverpool Docks albeit now a dot on the horizon, her old life disappearing as the expanse of water grew larger, separating it from the new. A new life, she thought, in the new world, an adventure.
The bitter wind cut through her woollen clothes, Bella wrapped her arms tighter around her body, trying to keep the little warmth she had. The cold sting made her eyes water profusely but she couldn’t pull them from her future as she turned to gaze in the direction of her new beginning.
Edward spotted her alone on the deck; as always her beauty took his breath away; her long mahogany hair took on a life of its own, whipped up and around her face, her cheeks pink, as a result of the bracing sea breeze, not a blush this time.
“Here you are.” She felt the warmth from his body as he slid his arms around her waist and tugged her closer; pressing suggestively against her. Bella’s excitement increased, he’d taken great pleasure in explaining in great detail what he would do to her body once they were on-board the ship, the Mary-Ann.
“Penny for them,” he whispered huskily in her ear, sending more shivers down her body, he chuckled at her quiver. Edward knew the effect he had on her, as she had the same on him.
Bella turned in his embrace and encircled him in her arms, “I was just thinking how lucky I am,” she said and kissed the end of his nose, which was rapidly turning colder.
“We could take this conversation into our cabin you know,” Edward quirked his eyebrow making her giggle.
“Why, Mr Cullen, are trying to seduce me?”
“I most certainly am, my dear Mrs Cullen,” he replied taking her by the hand and leading her below decks.
The cabin was small but comfortable for their long journey; Bella and Edward looked on this time as a belated honeymoon, before they started their busy life together in America.
He wasted no time in slipping his wife from her dress and allowing it to fall from her body, kissing the exposed flesh around her neck and shoulders, almost devouring her in the process, he stepped back to admire the view of Bella in a cream silk chemise, knickers, and a pearl choker. She smiled coyly while looking through her long lashes, and tugging gently at the ends of her hair.
“Just stand there,” he instructed as he began to undress himself, never taking his eyes from her as he did, she was so incredibly exquisite, he didn’t want to waste time looking upon anything else.
Bella’s breathing hitched as she watched him teasing her, his green eyes growing darker with want as the removal of each item revealed a bit more of his incredible body to her.
He stripped until he was naked for her to feast her eyes, and mouth upon.
Edward let out a long throaty groan as she moved towards him and took his solid length in her hand, twisting and rubbing him expertly, then covering his mouth with her own. It thrilled him very much on the occasion when she took charge in the bedroom. Bella began moving her mouth across his salty skin, tasting him, inhaling his scent, he was hers and she longed to remind him. She dropped to her knees reverently and took his long, hard cock into her eager mouth.
Edward felt his knees buckle as she sucked him all the way in until he touched the back of her throat, where she swallowed around his sensitive end. She slid him out and back in again all the time looking up at him. Bella knew his body well and expertly drove him to the point of madness and back again with her hot mouth.
He threaded his fingers into her long hair and guided her up his torso to his waiting mouth, he pushed his tongue deep inside her and sought the company of hers, wrapping them together in an erotic tangle, with lips still joined, he managed to relieve her of her underwear, leaving her only in pearls.
Edward pushed her forcefully backwards to sit on the bed, and he knelt on the floor before her, with a hand on each knee he forced her to part her legs, he thrilled at the look of desire in her eyes, as he slid his hands up the inside of each thigh, until the tips of his fingers grazed her hot, wet pussy. She gasped and threw her head back as he gently stroked through her fleshy folds, coating his fingers in her juices, sliding smoothly into her silken interior. Bella pushed herself forward, forcing his fingers further inside her.
So impatient, he thought with a smile. He kissed her mouth before pushing her back onto the bed, then he lavished kisses across her flat stomach, feeling the ripple of quivering muscle; all the time sliding his fingers methodically in and out of her, making sure to press against her clit. Using his tongue he licked a lazy pattern across her warm skin, gradually moving towards the epicentre of her pleasure. Edward felt Bella’s impatience begin to grow again as her fingers found themselves tangled into his hair, he knew if he didn’t put his mouth to her soon, she would force him to, like she had done so many times before. He was rewarded with a gasp of pleasure as he kissed her swollen lips and slid his tongue through her musky folds.
“Oh yes,” she whispered and bucked against his mouth, he had once told her that he thought she was happiest with his lips against her quim. There had been no denial, and Bella had smiled most wickedly in response.
His tongue sought out her small, fleshy pearl and dragged gently over it, back and forth, over and over; he began to increase pressure as Bella’s moans grew louder and she writhed beneath him. He enjoyed the sounds of her pleasure and each moan resonated within his cock, making him harder, so impossibly hard, he grew impatient; he needed to be inside of her. Edward increased his pace, he would not tease today; he felt her walls contract around his fingers. Pleasure approached, her body froze momentarily then she lost herself in joy. Before her orgasm had ceased, Edward had seated himself deep inside of her, he felt the ebb and flow as he shared the final throes of her climax, a few deep thrusts and Bella was experiencing her second orgasm. It was too much pleasure to behold and Edward let himself over to his carnal side; Bella instructed him on numerous occasions to abandon himself and truly fuck her, it was no time to be a gentleman. He closed his eyes to focus his attention solely on his cock, his pleasure, as he thrust deep and hard and fast into her, she was squeezing, sucking him in to her hot, wet depths. There was no slow build up as his climax tore through his body, exhausting, draining him, leaving him dizzy and gasping for breath in her arms. They lay together sated and sweaty, still entwined erotically around each other, the world could end now and they would die content.
She felt him grow heavy with sleep and she cradled him to her. “My husband,” she whispered.
Husband, she mused, a word she would never tire of, she thought back three years, when they’d become husband and wife.
“How do Romany usually wed?” Alice had enquired one evening during supper.
Bella and Emmett both stopped eating and looked sheepishly at each other across the table. The Cullen’s hadn’t pressed them for much information on their former life; and both had been grateful for that, it was a sensitive subject for them both, and they were happy to leave the past where it belonged.
They hadn’t attended many clan weddings, but their father had shared his wedding day memories, time and time again, it was etched into both their brains, and it would be the first time anyone other than he had retold it.
“Our parents’ marriage was arranged by our grandparents,” Emmett began.
Rosalie let out a small gasp of horror; she’d the horror stories of arranged marriages and did not approve of them.
Emmett smiled, “They had a right to refuse if they wished, but they agreed to the union, father always said he knew she was the one for him.”
“The groom’s parents then had to pay a bride’s price to the bride’s family, who would be losing a daughter as she would be joining the groom’s clan,” Bella added, smiling at Dr. Cullen cheekily.
“We’d pay,” he answered grinning back at her raising his glass, he liked that she’d become comfortable enough with him to tease, occasionally.
“The actual ceremony usually takes place outdoors and consists of the bride and groom promising themselves to one another in-front of the clan, with the help of an elder,” said Emmett. “Then they celebrate, sometimes for days.”
Bella watched Edwards reaction, she could see the wrinkle at the bridge of his nose appear as he thought. “That’s it?” He finally asked in disbelief, he cursed himself for not thinking to ask her before now; there was so much he had yet to know about Bella and her heritage.
“Yes,” she giggled.
There was a hush around the dining room as everyone was deep in thought.
“We could do that here,” he said, his words echoed everyone’s thoughts and there was a chorus of agreement.
“What about the church?” Bella asked, she’d accepted giving up her heritage when she left her clan, stayed with the Cullen’s and burning the caravan was more than symbolic.
“We can still go to the church...but I’d like to do it your way too, it’s only right,” he said softly, she could see the sorrow in his face.
“It’s alright,” Bella tried to say so much more without words, she hoped she’d conveyed that it in her eyes.
“Tomorrow,” squealed Alice, with a clap of delight, breaking the link between them.
“What?” A chorus of disagreeable voices.
“We have food, clothes, flowers, guests, what are we waiting for? She said looking at Bella and Edward.
There was a moment of thought when Edward said, “What are we waiting for?” He squeezed Bella’s hand, and she fell into the swirling depths of his green eyes and she shook her head.
“Nothing,” she whispered.
Dinner ended quickly and everyone scurried away excitedly making plans and arrangements for the following evening’s festivities.
Bella laughed and shook her head in disbelief, “You realise we have just agreed to two weddings!”
Edward grinned wickedly, “No more sneaking around, tomorrow you will be in my bed, now go and get your beauty sleep, tomorrow, you will be my wife.” He pulled her from the chair and playfully smacked her bottom, sending her running and giggling from the room.
Despite all the excitement she had building inside of her, Bella had slept surprisingly well and when she awoke refreshed the following day, the wedding preparations were already well under way, thanks to Alice, and a lot of assistance and advice from Emmett.
“Lovely, you’re up,” Mrs Clearwater exclaimed brightly ushering Bella into the dining room, “Breakfast?” She asked without waiting for an answer.
Bella took the hint and allowed herself to be shut into the dining room, there were things happening around the house that they obviously didn’t want her privy to.
Bella took one final look at herself in the mirror, all the torturous scrubbing and brushing Alice had put her through all afternoon had paid off, she had never seen herself look more radiant or lovely. Her skin almost pearlescent was flawless and milky white, with a hint of pink high across her cheek bones giving her a natural healthy glow. Her eyes were wide and sparkled with excitement; her hair hung in a lustrous mahogany wave down the centre of her back and shone like never before, thanks to Alice’s persistence with a hair brush, which had reduced Bella to tears, but now she could see for herself the pain had been worth it.
Rosalie and Alice had presented Bella with her wedding dress, appearing together holding it between them, smiling broadly and they couldn’t have looked prouder. Bella realised then, they wanted to please her, make her happy. Happy tears replaced the words that failed to come; they stroked and kissed her hair and face, tenderly slipping her into the blood-red dress. Emmett had informed them the colour was considered lucky, only on a bride’s wedding day. The simple corseted dress belonged to Alice, and it fitted Bella perfectly.
“It’s like it was made for you,” remarked Alice, as she and Rosalie stepped back to admire her like a fine piece of art.
The tears continued when Mrs Cullen appeared and kissed her before taking a section of Bella’s hair and proceeding to plait a section; a custom of the Romany people, when a bride prepares to join her husband’s clan, his mother plaits her hair, as a sign she is woven into the family, accepted.
“Emmett’s been busy,” Bella observed; they all seemed to know a lot about gypsy customs all of a sudden.
“We didn’t want you to forget who you are, where you come from,” Mrs Cullen said softly stroking Bella’s damp cheek.
“We all wanted to do this for you,” Alice added.
“Thank you,” she said weakly.
Rosalie dabbed Bella’s eyes with a handkerchief then pinched her cheeks to give her a little colour, when she was satisfied Bella had a healthy glow, she took her hand. “Come on, you know Edward can’t wait for you.”
Alice placed a gold coloured scarf over Bella’s hair and she was led into the garden in-between Mrs Cullen and Rosalie.
The garden glowed with the dancing amber of the campfire and a dozen candles in storm jars, which dotted the garden, making it appear magical and romantic. Edward was visible in silhouette as she approached, but she knew he was watching her, she could feel his gaze upon her, her skin prickled and her heart raced, the moment she had been waiting for her whole life was here, in front of her now, the time when she would be joined to her one true love.
Mrs Cullen passed her hand to him after first kissing her cheek. “Thank you,” she whispered softly in Bella’s ear.
“You look ...” Edward shook his head as he looked down her, words could not do justice to how she looked tonight; his eyes filled and glistened with tears.
“So do you,” Bella replied and squeezed his hand.
Emmett appeared before the both of them with a huge proud smile across his face. “Bella, Edward, it gives me great pleasure to bind you together.” Without another word, he produced a hunting knife from his belt and Bella and Edward moved to face one another. Emmett made a cut across their right forearms then bound their arms together tightly with a scarf, ensuring their cuts joined, mixing their blood.
Alice passed a small loaf of bread to Emmett, who broke it in two, handing a half to the bride and the groom, they both took a bite, all the time their eyes were fixed upon each other like they were the only ones present, then handed their halves back to Emmett, who broke the bread, letting it fall to the floor in a shower of crumbs. Following their custom, Bella filled a cup of water from a nearby bucket and gave it to Edward to drink of first, then she followed suit. The cup was then thrown to the floor and Edward crushed it to the ground. Finally a plate of salt was held in front of them; together they took a handful and threw it over their shoulders.
To those watching, emotion was thick in the air as these silent, simple exchanges, bound the two together. Each action, symbolic and steeped in hundreds years of history was still relevant today and showed how two people became one through a blessed union.
Emmett smiled at his sister; it had been an honour and privilege to proceed over her marriage to Edward, the job would have usually gone to the elder of the clan, in this family, that should have been Dr. Cullen. Emmett had been prepared to talk him through the ceremony, but the doctor refused, saying he would not feel right, it was Emmett’s duty and not his.
Emmett prepared to perform his last task and took his knife; with one swift move, he severed the now bloody ties that bound them.
Both were aware of the cheers, claps, and whoops of joy from their family and friends, but they were busy in each other’s arms kissing and crying.
“Let’s eat,” Emmett boomed, giving everyone a welcome distraction from the newlyweds’ intimate embrace.
Mr Clearwater had slaughtered a pig for the occasion, it was mounted on a spit and had been roasting the whole day, now it was done to succulent perfection and the air was filled with mouth-watering aromas. A tray of roasted potatoes appeared with Mrs Clearwater, Seth and Jacob were sent to the cellar for a barrel of cider, when they returned a while later, they were both looking ruffled, ruddy faced, and very jolly.
By the time the hog was sliced, potatoes dished out, and the cider poured, the new Mr and Mrs Cullen were in attendance, grinning widely and holding hands.
Mrs Cullen was sure she had never seen her son looking happier than he did right now with Bella in his arms and it made her insides warm. She looked around the circle at her loved ones, her husband was laughing and drinking cider with Mr and Mrs Clearwater, she still found herself desperately in love with him, and liked to see the way his eyes crinkled around the edges when he laughed. Rosalie and Emmett curled up together by the campfire feeding each other pieces of meat; Emmett was snatching playfully with his teeth, making Rosalie jump and giggle. Jasper was standing behind Alice, his arms around her body, his hands making lazy circles across her growing belly. Alice’s face was the picture of contentment as her head lolled back onto his shoulder.
Seth and Jacob were seated by Mrs Hale, all of them eating and drinking, and the boys hung on her every word as she had them enthralled with a saucy tale from her youth.
This was one of those moments she realised, when everyone was happy; it was perfect.
The decision had not been an easy one to make, Edward had been happy to continue following in his father’s footsteps and practice medicine in the small village he lived in. He and Bella would live close to his family and eventually they would raise their own children. But as time passed they began to realise this was not to be. They had not yet been blessed with a child of their own and, after the waiting, the disappointment and the praying, they had little choice other than to leave it in the hands of God. With time on her hands, Bella slipped into the role of helping Edward with his medical duties, and, as he always suspected, she was born to care for people, she made a wonderful nurse- his wonderful nurse.
During one of their visits to a sick patient, they learned of the famine and lack of work in Ireland due to potato blight, thousands were leaving their homes and starting a new life, in the new world.
“It would be a wonderful opportunity,” she sighed as they packed their medical equipment into the carriage.
“Could you just go?” He asked.
Bella shrugged, “It must be my gypsy blood.”
Edward put the conversation to the back of his mind, but, no matter how hard he tried, it wouldn’t stay there; it kept making its way to the forefront. He watched Bella, looking for signs she was unhappy in the life they’d made together, but nothing.
Alice had given birth to a baby girl, Victoria Rose, she was to be their only child; Alice suffered complications after the birth and she was unable to conceive another baby. They chose to see the positive; they were blessed with a healthy, happy, and beautiful child. She had the same positive look and appetite for life as her mother with the calm quiet nature of her father.
Shortly after the birth of Victoria Rose, Rosalie had given birth to baby boy called James, and had recently found out they were expecting another child.
Edward had watched Bella closely, fearing her reaction to more babies being born around her, but she took on her role as aunt with gusto and enthusiasm, the babies were lucky to have such an attentive aunt in their lives.
Edward and Carlisle received news from Peter, there was a shortage of doctors and nurses in Philadelphia with the Irish emigrating en mass, there were opportunities for medical staff, to work and train them.
“Do you want to go?” Bella asked.
“No ... I don’t know,” Edward had been confused by his reaction; his initial thoughts were, he was happy to stay where he was, with his family. But, the seeds had been planted and the thought of emigrating had excited him, he denied his feelings, but the idea continued to gnaw at him.
It was another month before he admitted to Bella and his father what he was thinking.
“We should go then,” Bella had said; Edward saw the flicker of excitement cross her face.
“How can you say that, think that so easily?” He asked.
“It’s been put on your heart and mine,” she said, putting both her hands to her heart, truthfully since Bella had heard of the opportunities overseas it had been all she could think of, she’d hoped Edward thought of it too. “It doesn’t have to be forever.”
When she said that, it made him realise she was right and he finally admitted he wanted to go and only then, was he at peace with himself.
Emmett and Alice had made the emotional journey to Liverpool to wave their siblings off, neither one spoke as they watched the ship leave harbour, and still they remained quiet as the vessel grew smaller before disappearing over the horizon.
Alice choked back the tears as her brother sailed off with his wife to start a new adventure.
“I’ll return…with presents,” he’d promised, it had made her smile, a little.
“Look after him,” Alice instructed as she hugged Bella goodbye.
“I will,” she promised, tears were falling thick and fast now.
Alice would feel the loss of her sister-in-law as much as her brother; she was the closest friend she’d ever had.
“Victoria Rose will miss you.”
Bella stifled the sob that travelled up her throat, the thought of leaving her niece and nephew had been nearly enough to stop them from going.
Silently, they both knew and never acknowledged it; it tore Bella’s heart out that she still hadn’t conceived Edward’s baby, and she kept it well hidden from him. Alice saw the pain and the longing in her sister-in-law’s eyes every time she held the children in her arms; she needed to leave for a time, for her own sanity.
Emmett and Bella had stood for the longest time holding hands and looking out across the ocean, their lives had been the ones to change the most, and it was this they thought of on their last morning together.
“I love you, Bella,” he said.
Bella fought back the tears and put one hand over her heart then pointed to him.
Emmett let out an audible sob; the action had taken him back years to a time when they only had each other in the world, and now they had a family, a good family and dear loved ones. There were no more words so they just held tightly onto each other until it was time to board, they had never been apart from each other for any length of time and no amount of preparation could get them ready for this.
Emmett’s thoughts ran to his beautiful Rosalie at home with James, she would probably be bathing him before the fire, he smiled to think of his chubby little boy splashing and giggling, he loved his bath time. He thought of Bella in the arms of her husband, cherished, loved, and adored, Edward would always protect and keep her safe and her happiness was more important than his own. These thoughts helped Emmett keep his heart from being torn in two.
“It won’t be forever,” she’d promised; when she broke the news they were leaving. “We’ll be back.” Her words whispered through the darkness reminding him when he needed it.
The Mary-Ann sailed smoothly into the night, gently rocking, its precious cargo beginning to sleep, lulled by the movement and continuous soothing drone of the engines.
Bella snuggled contentedly into the warm body of her sleeping husband; he’d fallen asleep quickly after their amorous activities of the afternoon. Soon she began to feel the pull as her eyes grew heavier; her dreams were waiting, of new places, excitement and adventures, new friends and opportunities, plenty of stories to tell their children, and family, in the future when they returned home.
Final chapter hope you liked.
Thanks to my beta's js18 & RAH07890.
Don't be scared to leave me a review :)