"And?" he finally prompted.

I blinked the tears out of my eyes, torn. "Oh, Edward ..."

"Tell me, Bella," he pleaded, eyes wild with worry at the pain in my voice.

But I couldn't. Instead I clutched my arms around his neck again and locked my mouth with his feverishly. It wasn't desire at all - it was need, acute to the point of pain. His response was instant but quickly followed by his rebuff.

He struggled with me as gently as he could in his surprise, holding me away, grasping my shoulders.

"No, Bella," he insisted, looking at me as if he was worried that I'd lost my mind.

My arms dropped, defeated, the bizarre tears spilling in a fresh torrent down my face, a new sob rising in my throat. He was right - I must be crazy.

He stared at me with confused, anguished eyes.

"I'm s-s-s-orry," I mumbled.

But he pulled me to him then, hugging me tightly to his marble chest.

"I can't, Bella, I can't!" His moan was agonized.

"Please," I said, my plea muffled against his skin. "Please, Edward?"

I couldn't tell if he was moved by the tears trembling in my voice, or if he was unprepared to deal with the suddenness of my attack, or if his need was simply as unbearable in that moment as my own. But whatever the reason, he pulled my lips back to his, surrendering with a groan.

And we began where my dream had left off.

I stayed very still when I woke up in the morning and tried to keep my breathing even. I was afraid to open my eyes.

I was lying across Edward's chest, but he was very still and his arms were not wrapped around me. That was a bad sign. I was afraid to admit I was awake and face his anger - no matter whom it was directed at today.

Carefully, I peeked through my eyelashes. He was staring up at the dark ceiling, his arms behind his head. I pulled myself up on my elbow so that I could see his face better. It was smooth, expressionless.

"How much trouble am I in?" I asked in a small voice.

"Heaps," he said, but turned his head and smirked at me.

I breathed a sigh of relief. "I am sorry," I said. "I didn't mean... Well, I don't know exactly what that was last night." I shook my head at the memory of the irrational tears, the crushing grief.

"You never did tell me what your dream was about."

"I guess I didn't - but I sort of showed you what it was about." I laughed nervously.

"Oh," he said. His eyes widened, and then he blinked. "Interesting."

"It was a very good dream," I murmured. He didn't comment, so a few seconds later I asked, "Am I forgiven?"

"I'm thinking about it."

I sat up, planning to examine myself - there didn't seem to be any feathers, at least. But as I moved, an odd wave of vertigo hit. I swayed and fell back against the pillows.

"Whoa... head rush."

His arms were around me then. "You slept for a long time. Twelve hours."

"Twelve?"How strange.

I gave myself a quick once-over while I spoke, trying to be inconspicuous about it. I looked fine. The bruises on my arms were still a week old, yellowing. I stretched experimentally. I felt fine, too. Well, better than fine, actually.

"Is the inventory complete?"

I nodded sheepishly. "The pillows all appear to have survived."

"Unfortunately, I can't say the same for your, er, nightgown." He nodded toward the foot of the bed, where several scraps of black lace were strewn across the silk sheets.

"That's too bad," I said. "I liked that one."

"I did, too."

"Were there any other casualties?" I asked timidly.

"I'll have to buy Esme a new bed frame," he confessed, glancing over his shoulder. I followed his gaze and was shocked to see that large chunks of wood had apparently been gouged from the left side of the headboard.

"Hmm." I frowned. "You'd think I would have heard that."

"You seem to be extraordinarily unobservant when your attention is otherwise involved."

"I was a bit absorbed," I admitted, blushing a deep red.

He touched my burning cheek and sighed. "I'm really going to miss that."

I stared at his face, searching for any signs of the anger or remorse I feared. He gazed back at me evenly, his expression calm but otherwise unreadable.

"How are you feeling?'7

He laughed.

"What?" I demanded.

"You look so guilty - like you've committed a crime."

"I feel guilty," I muttered.

"So you seduced your all-too-willing husband. That's not a capital offense."

He seemed to be teasing.

My cheeks got hotter. "The word seduced implies a certain amount of premeditation."

"Maybe that was the wrong word," he allowed.

"You're not angry?"

He smiled ruefully. Tm not angry."

"Why not?"

"Well. . ." He paused. "I didn't hurt you, for one thing. It was easier this time, to control myself, to channel the excesses." His eyes flickered to the damaged frame again. "Maybe because I had a better idea of what to expect."

A hopeful smile started to spread across my face. "I told you that it was all about practice."

He rolled his eyes.

My stomach growled, and he laughed. "Breakfast time for the human?" he asked.

"Please," I said, hopping out of bed. I moved too quickly, though, and had to stagger drunkenly to regain my balance. He caught me before I could stumble into the dresser.

"Are you all right?"

"If I don't have a better sense of equilibrium in my next life, I'm demanding a refund."