Morning

I know I said this was a one- shot, but the idea just wouldn't leave me alone. And I couldn't disappoint the people who put this story on alert, and all those who told me that I ought to continue it. Your praise had been overwhelming. Hope I don't disappoint you. Here is the first part of Chapter 15: The Cullens in Edward's POV. Again, the story line and dialog are a direct quote from the book.

Disclaimer: When I say that all I own are very- much abused copies of the books, I'm serious. The spine is literally falling off my copy of Twilight. Those books are the only part of this wonderful universe that I will ever own. Just let me have my fun. Please?

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I watched as the room grew slowly lighter. My angel, my love, was still fast asleep. As far as I knew, she had never even realized that I left her, last night. I hoped that she would never find out, never learn why. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I loved her with every fiber of my cold, dead heart and non-existent soul. I could happily have spent the rest of my life watching her like that.

The room was bright, by the standards of this perpetually rainy town, at least, when Bella began to stir. She lay with her arm over her eyes, and then she moaned and rolled onto her side. I nearly laughed at the picture she made.

"Oh!" she gasped, sitting up very quickly. She actually swayed a little, as though she were dizzy.

I couldn't keep silent any longer. "Your hair looks like a haystack… but I like it." It stuck out at the strangest angles. Apparently, going to sleep with wet hair had not worked out very well. But she was still beautiful.

"Edward!" she cried, ecstatic, "You stayed!" She leapt from the bed, flinging herself across the room and into my lap. To my amazement, she did not trip. I could hardly believe that she was so enthusiastic. Then she looked up at me, fear in her eyes. I knew exactly what was worrying her. She was afraid that she had pushed me too far. I was startled, yes, but I was irrationally pleased by her actions. And, after last night, I was not afraid I was going to kill her immediately. Both desires were far easier to control in the light of day.

So I laughed. "Of course", I answered, letting my arms close around her as I carefully rubbed her back. Cautiously, she rested her head against my chest, breathing deeply.

"I was sure it was a dream."

"You're not that creative," I teased.

"Charlie!" she gasped, jumping off my lap and heading for the door.

"He left half an hour ago—after reattaching your battery cables, I might add." Bella had been right last night. Her father thought she would be sneaking out. He thought that disabling the truck would stop her. I wasn't sure why. He knew, didn't he, that had Bella wanted to sneak out, she would not have been stupid enough to try and drive the truck? The thing roared loud enough to wake the dead, let alone a sleeping human. "I have to admit, I was disappointed. Is that really all it would take to stop you, if you were determined to go?" Of course not. Even I knew that.

She stood in front of me, looking like she was trying to make up her mind about something. I wanted her back in my arms; holding her in daylight wasn't nearly as hard as holding her in the dark had been. It was wonderful, and I missed the sensation. She was so warm…. I was selfish enough to risk her safety again. "You're usually not this confused in the morning," I observed. Why was she suddenly so indecicive? She had quite literally thrown herself at me a few minutes ago. I couldn't understand why she was so hesitant now. I held my arms open to her, an invitation that I hoped she wouldn't refuse.

"I need another human minute," she admitted finally.

"I'll wait." I would wait forever, if I had to.

I tried very hard to ignore the sounds that drifted across the hall. Then I heard her, nearly running back to her room. Back to me. I couldn't deny the thrill that swept though every nerve as I cradled her close.

I murmured "Welcome back." We didn't speak for a long time as we rocked. And then Bella, my wonderful, observant human noticed.

She reached up, and touched the collar of my shirt. "You left?" Her tone dripped accusation.

Oh yes. I left. And because I left, she was still alive. I couldn't let her know that. "I could hardly leave in the clothes I came in—what would the neighbors think?" There. I'd tried my lie. I only hoped she wouldn't realize how unlikely it would be for anyone to see me. I didn't want her to learn how pathetic I truly was. How weak I was. She pouted, but did not call my bluff. I breathed a sigh of relief. "You were very deeply asleep; I didn't miss anything. The talking came earlier." Love again radiated through every fiber of my being. Love for her. I admitted it to myself, now. I loved her.

She groaned, obviously mortified. "What did you hear?"

I looked at her, yearning for the love I felt for her to be obvious in my eyes. Hoping she wouldn't see the guilt I felt, for being so weak. "You said you loved me."

She ducked her head, embarrassed. "You knew that already."

Had I? I had hoped, but I hadn't known, not for sure. Not until I heard her say it as she slept. But loving me was certainly not healthy for her. "It was nice to hear, just the same." It was hard to believe how wonderful those words had sounded, in the instant before I lost control and had to leave her. I still could not believe that they were true.

She buried her face in my shoulder then. "I love you," she whispered.

"You are my life now," I replied. It was true. Before her, I'd had no life.

We were silent again as the room grew lighter. Eventually, I remembered that she was human. As such, she needed to eat. "Breakfast time." Her reaction took me completely by surprise.

She looked up at me, her brown eyes wide, as she clutched her throat with both hands. I stared at her in shock, unable to believe that she though I was going to…

And then mischief flooded her features as she giggled. "Kidding! And you said I couldn't act!"

"That wasn't funny," I told her, frowning. 'Funny' was certainly not a word I would have associated with that particular expression. Ever.

"It was very funny, and you know it," she said, looking carefully into my eyes. What was she looking for? Forgiveness? If she searched for that, she already had it. I could never be angry with her. My anger towards myself, my weaknesses, was another story altogether. "Shall I rephrase?" I asked. "Breakfast time for the human."

"Oh, okay."

I was suddenly struck by a desire to surprise her, to shock her as much as she shocked me. So I stood quickly, throwing her over my shoulder as gently as I could. I carried her down the stairs, ignoring her breathless protests. The kitchen seemed brighter than I'd ever seen it, as though the shabby cabinetry had absorbed the euphoria I felt. I set her down, right side up, on one of the chairs.

She looked at me, mischief in her eyes again. "What's for breakfast?" she asked pleasantly, her eyes sparkling.

I was confused. I'd never cooked before, what did she expect me to do? "Er, I'm not sure. What would you like?" I hoped it would be relatively simple. One never knew how easy it would be to produce something completely inedible. It wasn't as though I could taste anything I made for her…

She grinned, hopping up from the chair. "That's all right; I fend for myself pretty well. Watch me hunt."

I did just that, my eyes following her every move as she prepared a bowl of cereal for herself. When she set it on the table, she asked me if I wanted anything. Absolutely not. Human food of any kind was… beyond revolting. So I rolled my eyes. "Just eat, Bella."

She watched me, as I watched her she took a bite. She fascinated me. When she cleared her throat, I realized that she was self- conscious. "What's on the agenda for today?"

"Hmmm…" I wanted to ask her… but I was afraid she would be terrified. I didn't want to frighten her. And yet, I did. If she was afraid of me, she would be safe. So I spoke cautiously. "What would you say to meeting my family?"