He placed the suitcases on the dock and then turned back, smiling his perfect smile as he reached for me.
Instead of taking my hand, he pulled me right up into his arms.
"Aren't you supposed to wait for the threshold?'71 asked, breathless, as he sprung lightly out of the boat.
He grinned. "I'm nothing if not thorough."
Gripping the handles of both huge steamer trunks in one hand and cradling me in the other arm, he carried me up the dock and onto a pale sand pathway through the dark vegetation.
For a short while it was pitch black in the jungle-like growth, and then I could see a warm light ahead. It was about at the point when I realized the light was a house - the two bright, perfect squares were wide
windows framing a front door - that the stage fright attacked again, more forcefully than before, worse than when I'd thought we were headed for a hotel.
My heart thudded audibly against my ribs, and my breath seemed to get stuck in my throat. I felt Edward's eyes on my face, but I refused to meet his gaze. I stared straight ahead, seeing nothing.
He didn't ask what I was thinking, which was out of character for him. I guessed that meant that he was just as nervous as I suddenly was.
He set the suitcases on the deep porch to open the doors - they were unlocked.
Edward looked down at me, waiting until I met his gaze before he stepped through the threshold.
He carried me through the house, both of us very quiet, flipping on lights as he went. My vague impression of the house was that it was quite large for a tiny island, and oddly familiar. I'd gotten used to the pale-on-pale color scheme preferred by the Cullens; it felt like home. I couldn't focus on any specifics, though. The violent pulse beating behind my ears made everything a little blurry.
Then Edward stopped and turned on the last light.
The room was big and white, and the far wall was mostly glass - standard decor for my vampires. Outside, the moon was bright on white sand and, just a few yards away from the house, glistening waves. But I barely noted that part. I was more focused on the absolutely huge white bed in the center of the room, hung with billowy clouds of mosquito netting.
Edward set me on my feet.
"I'll... go get the luggage."
The room was too warm, stuffier than the tropical night outside. A bead of sweat dewed up on the nape of my neck. I walked slowly forward until I could reach out and touch the foamy netting. For some reason I felt the need to make sure everything was real.
I didn't hear Edward return. Suddenly, his wintry finger caressed the back of my neck, wiping away the drop of perspiration.
"It's a little hot here," he said apologetically. "I thought... that would be best."
"Thorough," I murmured under my breath, and he chuckled. It was a nervous sound, rare for Edward.
"I tried to think of everything that would make this... easier," he admitted.
I swallowed loudly, still facing away from him. Had there ever been a honeymoon like this before?
I knew the answer to that. No. There had not.
"I was wondering,'7Edward said slowly, "if... first... maybe you'd like to take a midnight swim with me?" He took a deep breath, and his voice was more at ease when he spoke again. "The water will be very warm. This is the kind of beach you approve of."
"Sounds nice." My voice broke.
"I'm sure you'd like a human minute or two.... It was a long journey."
I nodded woodenly. I felt barely human; maybe a few minutes alone would help.
His lips brushed against my throat, just below my ear. He chuckled once and his cool breath tickled my overheated skin. "Don't take too long, Mrs. Cullen."
I jumped a little at the sound of my new name.
His lips brushed down my neck to the tip of my shoulder. "I'll wait for you in the water."
He walked past me to the French door that opened right onto the beach sand. On the way, he shrugged out of his shirt, dropping it on the floor, and then slipped through the door into the moonlit night. The sultry, salty air swirled into the room behind him.
Did my skin burst into flames? I had to look down to check. Nope, nothing was burning. At least, not visibly.
I reminded myself to breathe, and then I stumbled toward the giant suitcase that Edward had opened on top of a low white dresser. It must be mine, because my familiar bag of toiletries was right on top, and there was a lot of pink in there, but I didn't recognize even one article of clothing. As I pawed through the neatly folded piles - looking for something familiar and comfortable, a pair of old sweats maybe - it came to my attention that there was an awful lot of sheer lace and skimpy satin in my hands. Lingerie. Very lingerie-ish lingerie, with French tags.
I didn't know how or when, but someday, Alice was going to pay for this.
Giving up, I went to the bathroom and peeked out through the long windows that opened to the same beach as the French doors. I couldn't see him; I guessed he was there in the water, not bothering to come up for air. In the sky above, the moon was lopsided, almost full, and the sand was bright white under its shine. A small movement caught my eye - draped over a bend in one of the palm trees that fringed the beach, the rest of his clothes were swaying in the light breeze.
A rush of heat flashed across my skin again.
I took a couple of deep breaths and then went to the mirrors above the long stretch of counters. I looked exactly like I'd been sleeping on a plane all day. I found my brush and yanked it harshly through the snarls on the back of my neck until they were smoothed out and the bristles were full of hair. I brushed my teeth meticulously, twice. Then I washed my face and splashed water on the back of my neck, which was feeling feverish. That felt so good that I washed my arms as well, and finally I decided to just give up and take the shower. I knew it was ridiculous to shower before swimming, but I needed to calm down, and hot water was one reliable way to do that.