Authors note; beta'd by Frannie, and all remaining mistakes are mine. I've still been ill, so chapters are taking a while longer than usual. Please bear with me.

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Six hours and fifty-five minutes, that's exactly how long Bella lasted. It was the length of time since she'd come home. Her mind was full of only one thing. She crept silently along the moonlight corridor from her room to Edward's. It was late, and Joshua was sleeping. She was feeling inexplicably restless; maybe it was the excitement of being home or, indeed, the trauma she'd suffered over the weeks since her kidnapping. Regardless, she found sleep impossible. All Bella could think of was Edward. His mesmerising emerald gaze set her blood on fire, and she longed to run her fingers through his perpetually tousled, toffee coloured hair.

The separation had heightened every feeling she had towards him. It seemed impossible, but she wanted him more than she had before her disappearance. Forcing aside a momentary lapse in bravado, Bella pushed the door to his bedroom open and then shut it behind her as fast as she could. The room was filled with the musky, masculine scent of Edward's cologne, as well as his innate scent, unique only to him. Bella's belly did a nervous but excited flip flop as she boldly made her way in the dim light towards his bed. The light came from a salt lamp, which sat on the bedside table, its muted light soothing.

As if by magic, he was there, materialising out of thin air directly in front of her. She froze as she came face to face with him. Far from being asleep, he was standing in the middle of the room dressed only in a very low-slung pair of pyjama bottoms.

They stared at each other; the inevitable magnetic force which existed between them drew them closer until only a millimetre separated them.

Edward dragged in a much-needed lungful of oxygen. The room suddenly seemed devoid of air. It was as if all of it had been sucked from the bedroom the moment Bella entered in one of her minuscule nighties. Even in the barely-there light, he could make out her sweet oval face with dark winged brows framing dark pools of chocolate, full lips parted and glistening, long, wavy hair, and small breasts framed by rose coloured lace. Her legs were bare and ridiculously long for such a tiny girl. Edward swallowed hard, his hands becoming balled up fists in his efforts not to grab her. The sweet scent coming from her was like an aphrodisiac; it made Edward unbearably hungry for the taste and feel of her.

"Why are you here?" He asked hoarsely. "You should be resting."

Bella shook her head and took another step closer, her gaze shamelessly devouring his perfection. Edward was all her dreams come true. Tall, strong, and movie star handsome, his glittering gaze turned her insides to mush.

"I had to come." She told him simply. "I need you."

Gravity moved them, drawing them irrevocably closer, and then they were kissing. A moan of mutual surrender was torn from their lips as lust-filled napalm rendered them senseless.

Edward knew they were on dangerous ground, his self-control at an exceptionally low ebb. His need for the girl in his arms was all-encompassing. Bella seemed to throw caution to the wind, her hands in his hair, her mouth open wide in delicious surrender.

Too many nights had been spent like this before Bella had been stolen. They'd walked along the very edge of delightful disaster, kissing and touching but never crossing the invisible line, which would consummate their physical relationship.

The restraint had been of Edward's doing rather than Bella's. He had been determined to keep Bella safe, even if it was from himself. But now, that restraint was non-existent, torn away by the pain of losing her. Everything seemed more temporary now; life was uncertain, the things you loved the most could be torn away in the blink of an eye. Life was there to be lived, and it seemed ridiculous now to deny themselves what they wanted most.

Edward's response to their kiss was filled with need and absolutely no self-control.

Bella squealed, delighted to find herself lifted off her feet as Edward carried her towards his bed.

Bella felt a delicious thrill shoot through her as Edward dropped her a little roughly into his bed and followed her down. His weight on her made the familiar ache only he brought to life throb to life.

Her legs parted naturally to encompass him; her toes digging deep into the bed covers as she rolled her hips against him. Edward groaned, and Bella whimpered as his hardness rubbed her right where she needed him to be.

Edward's tongue in her mouth was everything she wanted - it was a little rough - his claiming, drugging kisses lighting her insides on fire with delirious pleasure.

Edward cupped her small breasts with both hands and pulled back from their kiss to watch her reaction. His electric gaze was glued onto her face as he slowly peeled down the rose-coloured lace triangles to reveal tip-tilted perfection.

Bella was past feeling shy; she was desperate to have this man in every way imaginable. Her hunger for him was all-consuming and scared her a little.

Edward carefully lowered his face to her chest, his gaze locked with hers. His tongue snaked out and licked at a single dusky rose coloured tip, and Bella gasped. He sucked the turgid peak into his mouth, and her body bucked up into his. Her back arched, pushing her breasts into his face even further, and Edward took full advantage.

He rolled, taking her with him until she was seated on his erection. Bella didn't hesitate to move over him as she had done before, rocking rhythmically against him, she teased herself to the brink of insanity. Edward didn't stop his ministrations, his lips and tongue paying homage to her beauty.

His hands skimmed along her spine and then grasped her scantily clad ass with both hands, fingers venturing under the titillating lace and satin.

It was Bella who took matters into her own hands. She took his cock in her hand tentatively, releasing it from the low-slung pyjamas. Edward had never allowed her to touch him this intimately before, knowing that such liberties would be the end of his self-control. But he had no desire to stop her now.

He needed this; them, her.

He jerked into her hand; his body tightly wound like a puppet on a string. Air whistled subtlety through his teeth as he inhaled sharply. The feel of her small, soft hand wrapped around his cock was more than he could bear. It was torture of the most exquisite kind.

Bella stroked him experimentally, marvelling at the silky-smooth texture of the skin there. She found moisture at the tip and used it to move her hand along his length.

She raised her eyes to his face only to find his electric green gaze riveted onto her face. Edward was struck dumb by the sight of Bella watching her hand do unspeakable things to his cock, all the while her plump lower lip was caught between teeth. Her tongue darted out briefly to wet her parched lips, and Edward's mind instantly went to dark and inappropriate places.

He immediately pushed those thoughts away. There was time for that - one day.

Bella decided that being bold was the best course of action. She lifted herself slightly and swiped his weeping cock along her slit. Her mouth formed a silent 'O' as her insides contracted fiercely.

Fuuuuck.

Edward gritted his teeth and groaned, his hips flexing upwards reflexively.

Bella whimpered on the third swipe as the head of his cock slid further and entered her slightly.

It felt so good. Heavenly, in fact. This is what she'd always wanted - Edward inside her.

Edward watched her closely. "Is this what you want?" He growled beside himself.

Bella nodded, "Yes," she said, her voice husky intense.

Edward reached for his side table and withdrew a small red square from the drawer. Shifting Bella back slightly, he expertly drew on the seemingly inadequate protection. She watched without embarrassment, the small ritual only making her more aroused.

Edward lifted her back onto himself and thrust upwards, slowly, encouraging her to move again. Bella resumed her gently rocking, allowing his cock to slide into her a bit more each time.

Her virginity was taken without much thought. Bella was so aroused; she barely felt any discomfort at all. She was the one in control; Edward made sure of it.

Their mutual cries were muted as their lips clung together while they exploded in and around each other.

A beautiful death. That's how an orgasm was once described in a book Bella had read. She now knew it was a very accurate description. Her entire body pulsed and trembled as she floated down from her high, cradled in Edward's arms.

She'd never been so happy.

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"Edward is my new dad," Joshua announced casually at breakfast the next morning. Bella choked on her coffee, her gaze flying to Edward's.

Edward didn't say a word, his eyes amused and unrepentant.

Their newly found intimacy allowed for a brief unspoken conversation. Edward knew something she didn't, and he wasn't going to spill.

"Really?" She fished, turning her attention back to the small boy happily eating scrambled eggs on toast.

Joshua nodded while swallowing an impossibly large piece of food.

"Since when?" Bella asked.

"It's been two days," he added helpfully. "I'm a Cullen now! Grandma said that it's a good thing because it means I belong here."

"Grandma?" Bella spluttered. How much had happened since she'd been gone?

"Yes, Esme asked Josh to call her grandma," Edward said, smiling at her shock. "They are quite taken with each other."

"It seems a lot has happened since I left," Bella said softly, her heart overflowing with happiness and love toward Edward. His acceptance of Josh meant more to her than she could ever convey to him in mere words.

It was everything.

Josh finished eating, asked to be excused, and kissed Bella on the cheek before running upstairs to do his lessons.

Bella looked bemused and very pleased. The changes in the child she adored were startling and completely wonderful. He was a normal, well-adjusted little boy who acted as if he'd always lived in such a house with good food and a loving family. It seemed that for him, the awful memories of their past were well on their way to being forgotten - if they weren't already. Bella was overwhelmed, tears prickling at her eyes as she stared at Edward across the table.

"Thank you." She said simply. No other words were needed; it was all there in her eyes.

"Marry me," Edward said suddenly, leaning towards her earnestly.

Bella smiled at him. "I already said yes, if I remember it right."

"Not in six months, Bella, now. Today." Edward's voice was raw with need, completely compelling in his urgency.

Bella recalled their time together just the night before, and her belly fluttered with excitement. Consummating their relationship had been everything she'd thought it would be and more.

"Okay." She replied simply. She, too, felt the urgency to follow her heart, and the consequences be damned. Life was too short to wait for the things you wanted most.

Edward grinned at her; his gaze triumphant.

"Really?"

She nodded, smiling so wide it hurt. "Really."

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Edward needn't have worried about going to find Bella's father. Indeed, it didn't take long for Charles Swan to make his way to see Bella. The gall of the man left both Bella and Edward speechless.

He was announced by a noticeably flustered Mrs Knotts, and he walked in as if he had every right to be there.

Bella refused to see him alone. She took Edward with her, her hand clasped in his with a death grip.

There was silence as Charles examined his daughter and saw her bristling anger towards him. Resentment shone clearly from her dark eyes, her lips petulant, body language unwelcoming.

Edward's gaze was glacial as he stood just behind Bella, allowing her to handle this situation while being there for moral support.

"I came to give you this," Charles said, skipping unnecessary and fake pleasantries. He held out a small cotton drawstring bag towards Bella.

Bella reached for it warily, heart pounding.

It was her ring!

She didn't acknowledge it or thank him for returning it. She simply slipped it onto her finger, relief surging through her with bone-melting intensity.

"I came to say I'm sorry, Bella," Charles said hesitantly, ignoring Edwards's presence entirely.

Edward gripped the edge of his desk with white knuckle intensity, trying to control the rage he felt. This was not the time for his retribution. This was all on Bella.

"Please leave," Bella said unexpectedly, her voice cold. She refused to even dignify his apology with a response. "There is nothing left to say between us."

"I'm glad you're okay... after everything…" Charles swallowed hard. "You're staying here?"

"It's my home," Bella replied with conviction. It was the very first time she'd ever said those words and meant them.

This house was her home, made so by the people in it.

Charles tried in vain to push down the anger he felt at seeing his daughter here with Edward after all he had done to separate them. He wasn't sure what he wanted from Bella, but it was more than this.

"You'll always have a home with me if you want it." Charles offered hesitantly.

"I couldn't stay with you because I don't trust you."

Joshua chose that moment to slip past Mrs Knotts and enter the room. His wide eyes grew even larger as he took in the strange man and the hostile attitude of his parents.

He went to Bella and took her hand. "Who's he?" He whispered.

Bella smiled at him, trying to dispel some of the bad vibe threatening to suffocate them. "He's no one. Please go with Mrs Knotts; she'll take you to Jane."

Edward stepped in, lifting the little boy in his arms and tickling his ribs to distract him. Josh giggled joyfully. "Come on, buddy, let's go find Jane."

"It's time for you to leave," Bella told Charles as soon as her two men had left the room. "We're done here." Bella turned, effectively dismissing her father, her head held high. The click of the door closing was like the end of a chapter.

It was also the beginning of a new one.