Here was the thing, though. I knew a little about what I was going to be like when I wasn't human anymore. I'd seen newborn vampires firsthand, and I'd heard all my family-to-be's stories about those wild early days. For several years, my biggest personality trait was going to be thirsty, it would take some time before I could be me again. And even when I was in control of myself, I would never feel exactly the way I felt now.
Human... and passionately in love.
I wanted the complete experience before I traded in my warm, breakable, pheromone-riddled body for something beautiful, strong... and unknown. I wanted a real honeymoon with Edward. And, despite the danger he feared this would put me in, he'd agreed to try.
I was only vaguely aware of Alice and the slip and slide of satin over my skin. I didn't care, for the moment, that the whole town was talking about me. I didn't think about the spectacle I would have to star in much too soon. I didn't worry about tripping on my train or giggling at the wrong moment or being too young or the staring audience or even the empty seat where my best friend should be.
I was with Edward in my happy place.
2. LONG NIGHT
"I miss you already."
"I don't need to leave. I can stay___"
It was quiet for a long moment, just the thud of my heart hammering, the broken rhythm of our ragged breathing, and the whisper of our lips moving in synchronization.
Sometimes it was so easy to forget that I was kissing a vampire. Not because he seemed ordinary or human - I could never for a second forget that I was holding someone more angel than man in my arms - but because he made it seem like nothing at all to have his lips against my lips, my face, my throat. He claimed he was long past the temptation my blood used to be for him, that the idea of losing me had cured him of any desire for it. But I knew the smell of my blood still caused him pain - still burned his throat like he was inhaling flames.
I opened my eyes and found his open, too, staring at my face. It made no sense when he looked at me that way. Like I was the prize rather than the outrageously lucky winner.
Our gazes locked for a moment; his golden eyes were so deep that I imagined I could see all the way into his soul. It seemed silly that this fact - the existence of his soul - had ever been in question, even if he was a vampire. He had the most beautiful soul, more beautiful than his brilliant mind or his incomparable face or his glorious body.
He looked back at me as if he could see my soul, too, and as if he liked what he saw.
He couldn't see into my mind, though, the way he saw into everyone else's. Who knew why - some strange glitch in my brain that made it immune to all the extraordinary and frightening things some immortals could do. (Only my mind was immune; my body was still subject to vampires with abilities that worked in ways other than Edward's.) But I was seriously grateful to whatever malfunction it was that kept my thoughts a secret. It was just too embarrassing to consider the alternative.
I pulled his face to mine again.
"Definitely staying," he murmured a moment later.
"No, no. It's your bachelor party. You have to go."
I said the words, but the fingers of my right hand locked into his bronze hair, my left pressed tighter against the small of his back. His cool hands stroked my face.
"Bachelor parties are designed for those who are sad to see the passing of their single days. I couldn't be more eager to have mine behind me. So there's really no point."
"True." I breathed against the winter-cold skin of his throat.
This was pretty close to my happy place. Charlie slept obliviously in his room, which was almost as good as being alone. We were curled up on my small bed, intertwined as much as it was possible, considering the thick afghan I was swathed in like a cocoon. I hated the necessity of the blanket, but it sort of ruined the romance when my teeth started chattering. Charlie would notice if I turned the heat on in August___
At least, if had to be bundled up, Edward's shirt was on the floor. I never got over the shock of how perfect his body was - white, cool, and polished as marble. I ran my hand down his stone chest now, tracing across the flat planes of his stomach, just marveling. A light shudder rippled through him, and his mouth found mine again. Carefully, I let the tip of my tongue press against his glass-smooth lip, and he sighed. His sweet breath washed - cold and delicious - over my face.
He started to pull away - that was his automatic response whenever he decided things had gone too far, his reflex reaction whenever he most wanted to keep going. Edward had spent most of his life rejecting any kind of physical gratification. I knew it was terrifying to him trying to change those habits now.
"Wait," I said, gripping his shoulders and hugging myself close to him. I kicked one leg free and wrapped it around his waist. "Practice makes perfect."
He chuckled. "Well, we should be fairly close to perfection by this point, then, shouldn't we? Have you slept at all in the last month?"
"But this is the dress rehearsal," I reminded him, "and we've only practiced certain scenes. It's no time for playing safe."
I thought he would laugh, but he didn't answer, and his body was motionless with sudden stress. The gold in his eyes seemed to harden from a liquid to a solid.
I thought over my words, realized what he would have heard in them.
"Bella...," he whispered.
"Don't start this again," I said. "A deal's a deal."
"I don't know. It's too hard to concentrate when you're with me like this. I - I can't think straight. I won't be able to control myself. You'll get hurt."
"I'll be fine."
"Bella . .."