The sensations he could elicit within me took my breath away. I didn't know how he knew just where to touch my body to set it aflame, but it must have been instinct. We undressed each other slowly, dragging out the intensity of our anticipation. I traced the planes of muscle that ran across his chest, thrilled that he was mine, that no one else had experienced this with him. His fingers worked on my bra until I was bare from the waist up, and he reverently caressed my face before moving down to tantalize my breasts.
We settled on my bed when we had no clothes left to remove. I was tentative to touch him at first, but it didn't last. He was so responsive to everything; he gasped when my hands wrapped around his cock, warm, hard and heavy in my hands, giving me a sharp thrill. His hissed breath caused a moan to erupt from my chest in response. I stroked the silk over steel length of him, whispering heated words into his skin of what we would experience together. He grunted when I brought him into my mouth, tightening my lips around the tip, then sinking down completely. When he grabbed my hands and pulled me up to meet him, I knew it was because he was already so close to exploding.
It became awkward for a moment, when it seemed he just wasn't sure of what he was doing. Even that only slowed him down briefly, as he began to relax and follow his instincts, moving as though we were made to fit together.
When Edward pushed fully inside me, my back arched and our hips met, welcoming him like I said I would. Deeply, fully and completely. "Right where you belong," I whispered.
He kissed me, his full lips capturing mine and drawing them in. His hips began a rhythm as old as time, as he murmured in my ear. "It's perfection, Bella. I never knew what the fuss was about, but if I had…"
He didn't have to finish his sentence. His body was doing the talking for him as he moved sinuously, muscles bunching and contracting, causing a coiling in me to build and tighten, until I couldn't stand the sweet pressure it caused.
"Edward, oh god." He smiled at me in the semi darkness, and I memorized his face in that moment. Hard lines turned soft as he looked down on me in love and wonder, experiencing for the first time the ecstasy we could share as he slid his cock deeper inside of my willing body.
I grabbed his hand, pulling his long fingers down to where he was joined with me. Something about his expression had that coil tightening again, and I showed him where to touch me, how to circle my clit until I was trembling and screaming his name.
"Jesus, Bella, I had no idea it would be this intense," he gasped, just before he faltered in his movements, stilling with his body pressed tightly to mine. I pulled his head down to me, kissing him with everything I felt in that moment. He eventually rolled over, pulling me against his side.
"I love you," I whispered. I wanted him to know for certain that I was someone he could always count on.
"I've fallen quite hard over you. You're witty, and intelligent, compassionate, and strong. And it doesn't hurt that you're so hot."
I giggled, pressing closer against him. My head rested over his heart, beating wildly just for me.
"That's something I could get used to hearing," I said quietly. "It's not very hard to fall for you. You've made every aspect of my life better. I'm amazed at the strength you've shown, and the positive attitude you keep. Like you have nothing to fear."
"What is your greatest fear?" he asked pensively.
"I have so many," I admitted. "Mostly, I'm afraid of losing you."
"What? Don't you dare-"
"Let me finish." I looked up at his face, begging him to hear me out. He sighed in resignation. "At first, my greatest fear was that I'd fail you. If I didn't get you out, I would prove to you that you were right when you said there was no hope. There is always hope, and I needed you to believe that." I swallowed and had to look away.
"And now?" he prodded.
"Now, I'm afraid you'll realize you've got me on a pedestal, and that I'm not your savior. I'm just me."
"Just you? Kicker of asses, devoted to righting wrongs. Fierce protector." He kissed me briefly. "Selfless friend." He kissed me again. "You've shown me how wonderful you are in your daily life, Bella. You do the same for everybody that you do for me. It's not hero worship, and I'm not going anywhere."
I rested my head on him again, pleased with what he'd said. "What else you got?" he asked.
"I'm afraid of the dark. You can't be aware of your surroundings when it's dark, and it bothers me. I don't feel safe at night, at least I didn't before the detail started."
"I'll protect you, Bella. You're precious to me, and I'll take care of you." His fingers skimmed up and down my arm. "My nightmares are always of going back to that place. The fear of the unknown time from that night, when nobody can be sure of who the monster really was. I'm terrified someone will realize I really did it, and put me away again."
I sat up, my eyes blazing into his as I spoke with passion. "Edward. You didn't do it. You were too heavily drugged to have been able to do anything but sleep. You are not a monster, do you hear me?"
I remembered that I was naked at the exact moment his eyes caught fire, and he sat up with me, crushing my mouth under his.
"I've finally found where I belong, Bella."
It was some time later when we finally ventured to the kitchen to heat up the dinner I'd made. It wasn't as good as it would have been, but I didn't mind. I was sure Edward didn't either since he scraped his plate clean. Conversation flowed about his job and mine. I mentioned the woman I'd spoken to in the hospital, and he was just as eager as I was to have that bastard brought in.
"They're keeping it very quiet, so he doesn't know it's happening beforehand. Charlie will send for him at the last minute." I spun my empty cup on the table repeatedly, not really surprised when I knocked it over. Long, pale fingers wrapped around my hands, and I looked up into his concerned face.
"Bella, are you okay?"
"Yes. This is not about us. Well, it is, but not about us, us."
"What the hell are you talking about?" he said, a tinge of frustration evident in his voice.
"I want you to come for Sunday dinner tomorrow. It's just that I have a big family, and I don't want them to overwhelm you."
He laughed heartily, reminding me of Emmett. I was relieved that he wasn't averse to the idea.
"If that's all that's troubling you, we can handle it. I would love to go with you, as long as we're honest about why I'm showing up."
"I'm not going to introduce you as the case I got reversed, if that's what you mean," I said, almost offended.
"Good. Does that mean I can spend the night? I don't think I've spent enough time exploring your body." He wiggled his eyebrows at me, and I laughed.
"It's a deal."
Loud arguing and an audience cheering on the television was what greeted us the next day. My brothers took football more seriously than church, and the Seahawks were playing.
I glanced to Edward as he helped me slip my jacket off. I showed him the hall tree, and he hung them both before we ventured hand in hand to the living room. I stood near the doorway, watching my two opposite looking brothers as they wrestled. When Emmett glanced up and spotted us, he punched Jasper in the shoulder and pointed.
"Hey, guys," I said a bit shyly.
Edward stepped forward, sticking his hand out to Emmett, since they had previously met. Emmett shook his hand, then Jasper did too.
"Nice to meet you, Edward," Jasper said.
"Yeah, you too."
I'd made sure to arrive close to lunchtime so we didn't have to stand around making small talk. It was awkward enough to have him there doing the parental interrogation at the dinner table, with Mom wanting to know all about his job at the IP. Thankfully, she drew the line at asking him about prison.
I tried to make it clear that we were in a relationship with all the hand holding and longing gazes, but at the end of the night my brothers sort of dismissed him as someone they wouldn't likely see again. My sisters-in-law, however, stopped us in the foyer and chatted for a few minutes about coming next Sunday.
"Next Sunday?" Jasper asked. "You're coming back next week?"
I shot him a glare for his obtuseness, and caught Emmett watching us closely. "Yes, Jasper, I thought I'd bring my boyfriend back to the house of pain."
Mom came around the corner, and I was positive she'd been listening in. "Friends of any nature are always welcome here."
"Thanks, Mom," I said gratefully, right before looking pointedly at Jasper.
Alice had her hands on her hips, glaring up at her husband. "You can be so blind sometimes. Let's go, before you embarrass me any further." She hugged first me, then Edward, and finally Rose and Emmett before stomping out the door.
"You put your foot in your mouth with Alice, but I'm sure you know how to remove it," I heard from my dad.
"I didn't know you were listening," I mumbled.
Jasper sighed a bit before muttering 'sorry' and heading after his diminutive wife. Emmett wisely kept his mouth shut, and after their goodbyes, it was just my parents standing there with me and Edward.
"So, I could probably make this more humiliating, but I'm just going to say see you next weekend."
I tried not to cringe, but nothing makes you feel more like a child than your full name from your parent's lips. "Yes?"
"Edward was kind enough to tell me and your mother that you two are dating."
"Yes. We have been, it's just that- well, only now-"
"It's serious," Edward spoke up from beside me. He turned to me. "I explained to them that I couldn't help myself, considering what a remarkable young lady they raised. How could I not fall in love?"
"That was slick," I whispered as I leaned in to his kiss on my cheek.
"You two are good together, honestly. Isn't that what I said, Charles? She's glowing."
"Yes, that's what you said, Renée. Bella, if you're happy, that's what matters. Nothing else."
Dad always knew how to bring tears to my eyes. "Thanks, Daddy. We'll see you next week. And don't forget to let me know how it goes tomorrow morning."
"I'll let you know as soon as I know something."
Feeling more lighthearted than I had in a long time, I followed Edward out the door and to my car.
Little did I know it would be a long time before I felt that way again.
A couple of reviewers have asked if this story is nearing the end, and the answer is no. I think the foreshadowing at the end of this chapter will attest to that.