All the times that I had wished that Edward would not have to leave me behind when he hunted, I had secretly been just a little relieved. Because I was sure that seeing this would be frightening. Horrifying. That seeing him hunt would finally make him look like a vampire to me.
Of course, it was much different from this perspective, as a vampire myself. But I doubted that even my human eyes would have missed the beauty here.
It was a surprisingly sensual experience to observe Edward hunting. His smooth spring was like the sinuous strike of a snake; his hands were so sure, so strong, so completely inescapable; his full lips were perfect as they parted gracefully over his gleaming teeth. He was glorious. I felt a sudden jolt of both pride and desire. He was mine. Nothing could ever separate him from me now. I was too strong to be torn from his side.
He was very quick. He turned to me and gazed curiously at my gloating expression.
"No longer thirsty?" he asked.
I shrugged. "You distracted me. You're much better at it than I am."
"Centuries of practice." He smiled. His eyes were a disconcertingly lovely shade of honey gold now.
"Just one," I corrected him.
He laughed. "Are you done for today? Or did you want to continue?"
"Done, I think." I felt very full, sort of sloshy, even. I wasn't sure how much more liquid would fit into my body. But the burn in my throat was only muted. Then again, I'd known that thirst was just an inescapable part of this life.
And worth it.
I felt in control. Perhaps my sense of security was false, but I did feel pretty good about not killing anyone today. If I could resist totally human strangers, wouldn't I be able to handle the werewolf and a half-vampire child that I loved?
"I want to see Renesmee," I said. Now that my thirst was tamed (if nothing close to erased), my earlier worries were hard to forget. I wanted to reconcile the stranger who was my daughter with the creature I'd loved three days ago. It was so odd, so wrong not to have her inside me still. Abruptly, I felt empty and uneasy.
He held out his hand to me. I took it, and his skin felt warmer than before. His cheek was faintly flushed, the shadows under his eyes all but vanished.
I was unable to resist stroking his face again. And again.
I sort of forgot that I was waiting for a response to my request as I stared into his shimmering gold eyes.
It was almost as hard as it had been to turn away from the scent of human blood, but I somehow kept the need to be careful firmly in my head as I stretched up on my toes and wrapped my arms around him. Gently.
He was not so hesitant in his movements; his arms locked around my waist and pulled me tight against his body. His lips crushed down on mine, but they felt soft. My lips no longer shaped themselves around his; they held their own.
Like before, it was as if the touch of his skin, his lips, his hands, was sinking right through my smooth, hard skin and into my new bones. To the very core of my body. I hadn't imagined that I could love him more than I had.
My old mind hadn't been capable of holding this much love. My old heart had not been strong enough to bear it.
Maybe this was the part of me that I'd brought forward to be intensified in my new life. Like Carlisle's compassion and Esme's devotion. I would probably never be able to do anything interesting or special like Edward, Alice, and Jasper could do. Maybe I would just love Edward more than anyone in the history of the world had ever loved anyone else.
I could live with that.
I remembered parts of this - twisting my fingers in his hair, tracing the planes of his chest - but other parts were so new. He was new. It was an entirely different experience with Edward kissing me so fearlessly, so forcefully. I responded to his intensity, and then suddenly we were falling.
"Oops," I said, and he laughed underneath me. "I didn't mean to tackle you like that. Are you okay?"
He stroked my face. "Slightly better than okay" And then a perplexed expression crossed his face. "Renesmee?" he asked uncertainly, trying to ascertain what I wanted most in this moment. A very difficult question to answer, because I wanted so many things at the same time.
I could tell that he wasn't exactly averse to procrastinating our return trip, and it was hard to think about much besides his skin on mine - there really wasn't that much left of the dress. But my memory of Renesmee, before and after her birth, was becoming more and more dreamlike to me. More unlikely. All my memories of her were human memories; an aura of artificiality clung to them. Nothing seemed real that I hadn't seen with these eyes, touched with these hands.
Every minute, the reality of that little stranger slipped further away.
"Renesmee," I agreed, rueful, and I whipped back up onto my feet, pulling him with me.
Thinking of Renesmee brought her to that center-stage place in my strange, new, and roomy but distractible mind. So many questions.
"Tell me about her," i insisted as he took my hand. Being linked barely slowed us.
"She's like nothing else in the world," he told me, and the sound of an almost religious devotion was there again in his voice.
I felt a sharp pang of jealousy over this stranger. He knew her and I did not. It wasn't fair.
"How much is she like you? How much like me? Or like I was, anyway."
"It seems a fairly even divide."
"She was warm-blooded," I remembered.
"Yes. She has a heartbeat, though it runs a little bit faster than a human's. Her temperature is a little bit hotter than usual, too. She sleeps."
"Quite well for a newborn. The only parents in the world who don't need sleep, and our child already sleeps through the night." He chuckled.