Part 3

I took Alice's advice and left the car at the Cullens' garage. Edward gave me a ride home. Only as I leaned back against the leather seat, I realized how tired I was. It'd been a long day. I felt completely drained. Edward said we could take the car for a test drive the next day, and I agreed halfheartedly, already fearing the damage I might do to that kind of vehicle.

Luckily we got home in no time, so I'd been spared more torturous thinking about the car. After he killed the engine, we just sat in there in silence for a moment. Dusk had fallen by then and the first of streetlamps glowed into life. There was light coming from the house; the inside of the car was swimming in shadows. Nonetheless, there was distinct glimmer in Edward's eyes. He clearly noticed my unresponsiveness. He didn't seem mad, just concerned. For a moment I wondered if I could let it slip by telling him I was tired, but quickly dismissed it. He wasn't stupid.

"I…" I started, but soon stopped to clear my throat. He was watching me intently, waiting. "I know you must think I'm awful, throwing fits of ingratitude and all that. I'm not ungrateful. I'm just… overwhelmed." I took a deep breath, and looked at him as sincerely as I could. "It was really sweet of you to go through all this trouble to get me a new car; even if you've gone a little overboard with it."

He grinned at me, unabashed. The spark of relief in his eyes brought on my own relief. He really wasn't mad. My lips curled into a smile as I leaned over and kissed his icy cheek. "Thank you," I whispered.

"You're very welcome."

My gaze wandered forward. The light was coming through the kitchen window. Charlie was probably having dinner. I looked back to Edward. "Do you want to come in?" I asked him hopefully.

"I'd better not. Alice wasn't exaggerating. It would be unwise to test Charlie's patience this evening." His smile turned enigmatic; not for the first time, I hoped I had his mind reading abilities. His golden eyes gleamed in the semi-darkness. "I'll come by later."

"You'd better," I murmured threateningly before I stole another kiss and left the car. As always, he waited for me to be safely inside before he drove away. I waited by the closed door until the soft purr of the Volvo's engine faded in the distance.

The television was on, but loud clamor resounded from the kitchen, so I headed there first. "Dad?" I asked, poking my head inside. Several cupboards were open, and ingredients were spread across the counter. Charlie was standing in the middle of this mess, making sandwiches. "What's all this?"

"I have to do the night shift tonight," he grumbled, clearly displeased by this fact. "I haven't done one in God knows how long, but this one's an emergency. I'll have to ditch you for tonight, kid, sorry."

"That's alright, Dad. I wouldn't be much of a company tonight anyway. I think I'll head straight to bed."

"Long day?"

"The longest." He shook his head sympathetically. "What time are you leaving?"

"In about an hour," he replied. "Maybe you could ask Alice over."

I turned away from him so he wouldn't notice the shock on my face, an automatic response to his suggestion. Despite his evident affection for Alice, he wasn't thrilled about our frequent sleepovers, mostly because – as Alice had revealed to me – he suspected I was using it to spend more time with her brother, which of course I was. Apparently, Charlie had been more intuitive than we'd given him credit for.

I laughed darkly now, and shook my head. "No, Dad, it's okay. I think I've had enough of Alice for one day. Knowing her, she'd want to stay up all night discussing wedding plans."

He mumbled something unintelligible, clearly disgruntled about the mention of the W word, and oblivious to the fact that when I mentioned staying up all night, I meant it quite literally.

"I'll just go to bed early," I said again and approached the counter to survey the damage. Surprisingly, despite the mess, he seemed to have everything under control. "Do you want help with those?"

"No, thanks, Bells. I got it."

"I'll be in my room then."

It wasn't until I shut the door behind me that I remembered Emmett's promise to sneak his Rocky Horror DVD in my bag. But when I emptied the contents of the bag onto my bed, no DVD case caught my eye, but a pink bag with my name on it, scrawled in Alice's neat handwriting. I reached out for it sort of fretfully, puzzled at the secrecy of the act. I tried to think when she had put it in without me noticing, but then again being Alice, I wasn't surprised one bit that she had.

The bag contained a hair curler, a purple nightie and a folded note. I gawked at them with puzzlement for a moment. Then I reached for the last item, already fearing its content.


Something tells me you might find these useful tonight – far more than Emmett's DVD. Use them wisely!

Love, A x

Her intention dawned on me as soon as I read her words. She had anticipated Charlie's absence and its implications. You want to do it, she had revealed to me earlier, when Emmett had tried to teach me a lesson in seduction. But you're worried about constantly being surrounded by people. However, with Charlie gone all night, Edward and I would have the house for ourselves.

A slow smile found its way to my lips as I began to grasp what Alice had probably figured out hours ago, and kept from me. Her intention in sending me this package couldn't have been clearer. Charlie's house was hardly considered a romantic setting, but at least we would be alone. The mere thought of it sent a jolt of unquenched desire through me. My hands were actually shaking when I lifted the purple nightie again to look at it more closely.

It was clearly one of Alice and Rosalie's purchases from Paris. I was relieved to see it was a rather modest piece, nothing too transparent or revealing. The soft silk was a cross between purple and pink. I held it against my body and glanced at the full length mirror at the corner of my room. It seemed to be in the right size – I rather not know how Alice had managed that. The material ended high on my thigh, but not too high. A glimpse of purple from the bed told me it came with matching panties, which I had overlooked before.

I remembered that morning a while ago when Edward had tried to make me change my mind about our deal, a test of sorts. Of course, he didn't need all the theatricals. I love you. I want you. Right now. The words still weakened me. I didn't succumb to temptation that day at the meadow. I chose to do things the right way, and despite the second thoughts that had occasionally consumed me ever since, I intended to stick with my choice. But the confidence in that decision was all gone now. This was an opportunity and I meant to seize it and make the best of it.

I didn't know if Edward knew what Alice must have seen beforehand, if he realized what she must have about Charlie being away. Either way, by declining my earlier invitation, he had unknowingly given me a chance to prepare my stage. I took a long shower after Charlie had left, taking my time in washing my hair and then blow drying it before carefully holding the curler against a few strands. I didn't know how much time I had before Edward was back, and I wanted to be as thorough as I could before he caught me in the middle of things.

As I had suspected, the nightie was a perfect fit. Its color blended nicely with my skin. The fabric clung to my breasts and brushed against my hips as I swayed in front of the mirror to look at it from every angle. To my intense surprise, I liked what I saw. The girl reflected at me actually seemed confident, which encouraged me. I allowed myself a tight, tentative smile. You can do it, I gave myself a mental cheer.

It was almost ten o'clock when I was all ready and done. I paced my bedroom aimlessly, too restless to just sprawl on my bed and read something. I ruled out going downstairs and turning the television back on; it seemed too mundane under the circumstances. I deliberately kept away from the window. I didn't want him to sense my impatience if he was out there.

At nine minutes after ten, the doorbell rang. My heart leaped to my throat, and began to thud in double speed. I raced downstairs, but took a moment to get my breathing under control before I slowly unlocked the door. I didn't ask who it was; it couldn't be anyone else so late.

Edward was standing on the doorway with a sheepish grin stretching lazily across his perfect lips. His eyes found mine instantly; everything else went unnoticed… at least for now. "Hi," I whispered, suddenly bashful, and I felt more blood rushing to my cheeks as I stepped back to let him in.

"Hello," he said, returning my smile. "I thought that since your father was away, it would be more appropriate for me to…" His voice trailed, and the smile froze into an expression of shock when he suddenly realized what I was wearing. His eyes traveled down my body and back up, lingering – unintentionally, it seemed – on my cleavage, before he brought his eyes back to mine. They were wide now, filled with unasked questions. His mouth was slightly agape, frozen halfway between a gasp and a reproach.

I knew I had very little time before he bolted to the door, as he had probably guessed my intentions by now. I took a step forward and grabbed his wrists. "Just hear me out," I pleaded, slowly loosening my grip. He hardly seemed aware of it. He just kept watching me with this uptight expression across his angle face, which only confused me further. My entire scheme deteriorated, melted in front of my eyes. I sighed. "I'm not a seducer. A change of outfit can't alter this sad fact despite of what Alice believes."

"Alice," he murmured, and the bewilderment in his eyes slowly shifted to understanding. "Is this her doing?"


"Is that why she and Emmett were evading me all evening?"

"Yes. But that's beside the point," I replied hurriedly, grateful for the fact he hadn't tried to escape… yet. You can do this, I reminded myself. Just tell him how you feel. "Edward… I could beg you like I've done that other time, but we both know how that turned up. So I think I'd try to reason with you instead."

"I'm not sure I want to hear this," he murmured.

"Well, you're going to hear this," I retorted, suddenly exasperated. He sighed, and I watched his jaw clench and unclench before he released a breath and directed his gaze with mine again. "I love you. So much. You asked we'd wait and I respect your request. But…"

"Are you trying to tell me you're going back on your word?"

"No. I'm not. I'm telling you that maybe it's time we lighten up a little. Look." Hesitantly, I took another step forward, but he didn't flinch back. Now that I decided to address his reason, everything was phrasing itself simply in my head. "I know that as a vampire, your emotions are twice as strong. This whole thing might be… overpowering for you the first time." I stopped to take a shaky breath, and ignored the burning sensation at my cheeks as I continued.

"If we take it in stages, it doesn't have to be. We don't have to go all the way if you're not ready yet. I promised I would marry you first and I would. I'm not trying to go back on that promise. But…" And just like that, I figured it all out. Alice's words resounded loud and clear in my head. When it comes to your safety and convenience, Edward can be quite dense. I could make him see reason using that argument. I wondered how it hadn't occurred to me before. "The less overwhelming it is for you, the safer it will be for me. And at the end of the day, it all goes down to that, doesn't it? Keeping me safe?"

He didn't say anything for the longest time, and for one dreadful moment I wondered if it was time to accept defeat. A second failure would be too humiliating. I could never face Emmett again. He would just watch his Rocky Horror Picture Show DVD and make fun of me whenever that song would play. He would have an eternity of that once I became one of them. I shuddered in horror.

I was so lost in that miserable scenario, that when I blinked and Edward was standing right in front of me, I gasped loudly. His lips twitched ever so slightly with what seemed like wordless apology. I shook my head, desperately seeking for the answer in his eyes. It came to me a moment later as he traced a finger along my shoulder. The cool touch sent a flash of goosebumps down my arm; I closed my eyes, letting the sensation wash over me. However, they flew open a second later when that same finger slid beneath one of the thin straps.

His golden stare was darker now, boring into mine. His other hand came to rest on my waist, just as cold through the thin material. "You're so beautiful," he murmured before he leaned down to kiss me. I met him halfway, moaning as soon as our lips touched. He held me tighter at the sound, all but crushing me to his chest. I grabbed a fistful of his hair to hold him closer. When he pulled away, he didn't let go of me; he pressed his lips to the hollow beneath my ear. "If only you knew how much I wanted you… how much you didn't have to do all that for me to…"

We were tangled in one another's already, and even though we had been in a similar position many times in the past, it had never felt more intimate than this moment. I let go of his hair and wrapped my arms around his neck again. "I'm all yours."

And as if that was all the confirmation he needed, he kissed me again. His lips felt rough, almost greedy, against mine, but I wasn't complaining. How could I when this was what I had been yearning for for months?

We stood in the foyer, kissing fervently, my fiingers already working their way down his shirt, unbuttoning it hastily. He didn't stop me this time. He didn't push me away. An inner, victorious voice told me that tonight, he wouldn't. Courage surged through me; I started moving backwards without breaking our kiss. As if he understood what I was doing, his arms were suddenly wrapped more securely around me and the floor disappeared as he swept me off my feet and secured me to his bare chest.

As he carried me up to my room, a certain tune echoed at the back of my head, and it didn't fade until much later, when I drifted off to sleep in his embrace.

Chill me, thrill me, fulfill me,

Creature of the night.

A/N: Before I get flamed for inaccuracy, Bella's scheme goes back to the conversation she and Edward have in chapter 2 of Breaking Dawn the night before the wedding, where it is implied that for the last month they have been 'practicing' – it doesn't necessarily mean something happened to contradict the honeymoon sequence later on in Breaking Dawn, so it doesn't sway out of canon. That being said, I really hope you enjoyed this rather random piece. Please drop me a review if you did!