The silence was deafening and the tension palpable. It saturated the air and weighed heavier on my heart than at any other moment in my entire life.
My one constant; the one thing about Bella that I could control simply by my proximity to her; the precious sound that had resurrected my long-dead soul was no more. My comfort… my anchor…was gone.
Bella’s heartbeat was silenced, and I would never hear it again.
Its absence left me feeling so vacant that I feared my knees would succumb to the void and I’d collapse into a heap on the floor. My entire world felt unbalanced; wobbling out of control without the one element that had held it firmly and steadily on its axis since she had come into my life. My fragile composure was only visible on the exterior because I knew how much she needed me.
Being careful not to startle her, I stayed just outside her newly expanded line of vision, instead squeezing her hand gently to make her aware of my presence.
Almost instantaneously, Bella sprung from the table as if she had been shot from a canon, landing nimbly on the balls of her feet, crouched defensively against the far wall. In nearly the same lithe movement, her shoulders squared and she pulled herself upright, her sparkling ruby-red eyes reflexively scanning every square inch of the room around her.
The memories of my own awakening came flooding back as if it were just yesterday. The piercing overstimulation of each one of my senses, everything so raw, so severe in the way my expanded brain processed it. Blinding sights, overpowering smells, sharp, painful sounds and tingling tactile sensations on every single surface of my skin.
I could even taste the air around me; leather, cotton, rubbing alcohol and a hundred more tastes assaulted my tongue and made my head swirl with the effort of trying to sort everything out and make sense of my new surroundings, my new body, my new life. I thought I had gone insane from the high fever’s effects on my brain and it wasn’t until I saw Carlisle’s face and heard his smooth, reassuring voice that I was able to grab a tiny thread of reality and hang on to it.
Right now, I needed to be Bella’s tiny thread.
Although it was impossible to disguise the concern in my eyes, I continued to reach out for her as I rounded the table and moved closer in small, measured steps. I kept my hand extended as I approached and my gaze locked on hers, willing her to focus on me…my eyes begging her to let me be her life preserver in this furious sea of confusion I knew she was drowning in.
“Bella?” I lowered my voice, kept it as even as I could, despite my nervousness.
“Bella, love? I’m sorry. I know this is disorienting. But you’re alright. Everything is fine.”
I watched closely as her pupils dilated, darted around in panic and then the fear dissipated to some measure of calm when she finally focused on me.
Her exquisite face was a constantly shifting canvas of emotions. First confusion and then wonder, bewilderment followed quickly by curiosity and then chaos arranging itself into a sensible order.
And then, I saw it.
Miraculously, Bella's eyes revealed the expression that I had prayed I would see, never daring to hope it would be this soon. This was the defining moment that I knew my Bella was still and would be forever, my Bella.
I saw desire.
Deep, passionate, unfathomable need.
And I knew it was meant only for me.
Blissful rapture boiled and overflowed inside me, filling my entire body with warmth and a sense of completeness, a wholeness that I had never felt before in my hundred-plus years of existence.
Intoxicating, overpowering, exhilarating happiness.
I felt my hand reach up of its own accord to stroke Bella’s cheek. What was once a soap bubble, translucent and fragile was now solid and silky beneath my fingertips, polished and perfectly smooth. And warm. Wonderfully, astonishingly warm.
Careful Edward….please. Jasper was overreacting.
Suddenly, Bella stepped forward and flung both arms around me, burying her face in my chest and inhaling her first deep breath of my scent as she closed her eyes and her grip around my waist tightened.
I had prepared myself for this pain. I had begged for it; pleaded for it so desperately that the line between the pain and the pleasure I derived from feeling it was blurred. I could have tolerated it for an eternity were it not for my desire to give Bella the satisfaction of knowing that her strength had surpassed my own. I tightened my muscles and shuffled backwards a tiny bit.
“Um…carefully Bella. Ow.”
In a flash, she extricated herself, throwing her arms back and clasping her fingers behind her like a child who’d just been caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
“Oops,” her mouth formed the word soundlessly.
My stone heart melted right then and there.
My God, she was so beautiful.
Every single feature…her dancing eyes, her pouting pink lips, her long sinuous neck, her sculpted body from the crown of her silky brown hair to the tips of her toes, utter perfection.
And she was mine.
And I was hers.
And we were always meant to be.
The clarity of this moment was mind boggling and I could not suppress the reflex of my hand as my fingers stroked her cheek again and she raised her hand to return the favor.
“I love you” she crooned, and the dulcet tone of her new voice reverberated through the room and seemed to surprise her as much as it did me.
Like a hundred-note harmony wrapped in an intricate pattern around a million-note melody, it resonated through my head, into my chest and traveled to the very core of my soul where it rekindled the fire that fueled my existence.
Three simple words from the lips of my angel was all it took to pull my life back into balance and reinstate my steadfast, unwavering orbit around the center of my universe, my sun…my beloved Bella.
My wife. My forever. My eternity.
I had found my new anchor - Bella’s beautiful voice. Now, she truly did sing to me.
“As I do you” I replied, though my own words seemed weak in comparison to the splendor of hers. Both of my hands reached for her now, unafraid, unrestrained…finally free.
I framed her face with my fingers and drew her towards me, slowly savoring her delicious floral bouquet. The very same scent that once burned my throat now completely soothed it, thoroughly quenching my ever-present thirst for her. For more than two years I had been lost in the desert, and at last I had arrived at the most peaceful, perfect oasis that was Bella.
When our lips found each other, I drank her in. Slowly at first, delighting in the feel of her velvety mouth on mine. And then, as if I feared I would be forced to pull away as I had done so many times before, a sense of urgency overwhelmed me and my kiss became deeper…more desperate...pleading. The taste of her was like the sweetest, most satisfying ambrosia...I never wanted to pull away again.
I would never need to. The warning voices in my head never came. All the careful limits had been lifted. No constraints, not now, and not ever. And so I abandoned control and gave myself to her.
Bella was enjoying this new found freedom as much as I was. She had wrapped both arms around my neck and her fingers pulled hungrily at the roots of my hair. Her body literally melted against mine, every curve of her finding the contours of me, like two halves of a whole that when joined together, were exponentially greater then the sum of our parts.
This kiss could have lasted forever and I would have never noticed, time had become a completely unnecessary concept. Bella however, being a newborn, was easily distracted by Emmett’s chuckling and if she could have blushed, her face may have matched her eyes. Embarrassed, she pulled away from me at the same time I tightened my arms around her waist.
I smirked when my mind allowed me to think of the things that were in store for us…the plans I had made for our first night together at the cottage.
First, in our room where the memories of our honeymoon would enhance our unbridled desires, then in the garden where the soft glow of the moon would send our senses reeling, and next on the rug by the roar of the fire burning in the fireplace…where I would explore Bella's body and find new ways to make her feel my love for her…
“You’ve been holding out on me,” she accused, her eyes narrowing to slits as her song interrupted my fantasies.
“It was sort of necessary at the time. Now it’s your turn not to break me.”
But don't try too hard.