"Shh!" I pressed my lips to his to stop his panic attack. I'd heard it before. He wasn't getting out of this deal. Not after insisting I marry him first.
He kissed me back for a moment, but I could tell he wasn't as into it as before. Worrying, always worrying. How different it would be when he didn't need to worry about me anymore. What would he do with all his free time? He'd have to get a new hobby.
"How are your feet?" he asked.
Knowing he didn't mean that literally, I answered, Toasty warm."
"Really? No second thoughts? It's not too late to change your mind."
"Are you trying to ditch me?"
He chuckled. "Just making sure. I don't want you to do anything you're not sure about."
"I'm sure about you. The rest I can live through."
He hesitated, and I wondered if I'd put my foot in my mouth again.
"Can you?" he asked quietly. "I don't mean the wedding - which I am positive you will survive despite your qualms - but afterward... what about Renee, what about Charlie?"
I sighed. "I'll miss them." Worse, that they would miss me, but I didn't want to give him any fuel.
"Angela and Ben and Jessica and Mike."
"I'll miss my friends, too." I smiled in the darkness. "Especially Mike. Oh, Mike! How will I go on?"
I laughed but then was serious. "Edward, we've been through this and through this. I know it will be hard, but this is what I want. I want you, and I want you forever. One lifetime is simply not enough for me."
"Frozen forever at eighteen," he whispered.
"Every woman's dream come true," I teased.
"Never changing... never moving forward."
"What does that mean?"
He answered slowly. "Do you remember when we told Charlie we were getting married? And he thought you were... pregnant?"
"And he thought about shooting you," I guessed with a laugh. "Admit it - for one second, he honestly considered it."
He didn't answer.
"I just wish... well, I wish that he'd been right."
"Gah," I gasped.
"More that there was some way he could have been. That we had that kind of potential. I hate taking that away from you, too."
It took me a minute. "I know what I'm doinq."
"How could you know that, Bella? Look at my mother, look at my sister. It's not as easy a sacrifice as youimagine."
"Esme and Rosalie get by just fine. If it's a problem later, we can do what Esme did - we'll adopt."
He sighed, and then his voice was fierce. "It's not right I don't want you to have to make sacrifices for me. I want to give you things, not take things away from you. I don't want to steal your future. If I were human - "
I put my hand over his lips. "You are my future. Now stop. No moping, or I'm calling your brothers to come and get you. Maybe you need a bachelor party."
"I'm sorry. I am moping, aren't I? Must be the nerves."
"Are your feet cold?"
"Not in that sense. I've been waiting a century to marry you, Miss Swan. The wedding ceremony is the one thing I can't wait - " He broke off mid-thought. "Oh, for the love of all that's holy!"
He gritted his teeth. "You don't have to call my brothers. Apparently Emmett and Jasper are not going to let me bow out tonight."
I clutched him closer for one second and then released him. I didn't have a prayer of winning a tug-of-war with Emmett. "Have fun."
There was a squeal against the window - someone deliberately scraping their steel nails across the glass to make a horrible, cover-your-ears, goose-bumps-down-your-spine noise. I shuddered.
"If you don't send Edward out," Emmett - still invisible in the night - hissed menacingly, "we're coming in after him!"
"Go," I laughed. "Before they break my house."
Edward rolled his eyes, but he got to his feet in one fluid movement and had his shirt back on in another. He leaned down and kissed my forehead.
"Get to sleep. You've got a big day tomorrow."
"Thanks! That's sure to help me wind down."
"I'll meet you at the altar."
"HI be the one in white." I smiled at how perfectly blase I sounded.
He chuckled, said, "Very convincing," and then suddenly sank into a crouch, his muscles coiled like a spring. He vanished - launching himself out my window too swiftly for my eyes to follow.
Outside, there was a muted thud, and I heard Emmett curse.
"You'd better not make him late," I murmured, knowing they could hear.
And then Jaspers face was peering in my window, his honey hair silver in the weak moonlight that worked through the clouds.
"Don't worry, Bella. We'll get him home in plenty of time."
I was suddenly very calm, and my qualms all seemed unimportant. Jasper was, in his own way, just as talented as Alice with her uncannily accurate predictions. Jasper's medium was moods rather than the future, and it was impossible to resist feeling the way he wanted you to feel.
I sat up awkwardly, still tangled in my blanket. "Jasper? What do vampires do for bachelor parties? You're not taking him to a strip club, are you?"
"Don't tell her anything!" Emmett growled from below. There was another thud, and Edward laughed quietly.
"Relax," Jasper told me - and I did. "We Cullens have our own version. Just a few mountain lions, a couple of grizzly bears. Pretty much an ordinary night out."
I wondered if I would ever be able to sound so cavalier about the "vegetarian" vampire diet.