Breaking Dawn (Twilight #4)(11) by Stephenie Meyer

"T/?af," I snapped. "That right there is why I'm angry. You are killing my buzz, Edward."

He rolled his eyes and shook his head.

I took a deep breath. I was feeling more of the soreness now, but it wasn't that bad. Sort of like the day after lifting weights. I'd done that with Renee during one of her fitness obsessions. Sixty-five lunges with ten pounds in each hand. I couldn't walk the next day. This was not as painful as that had been by half.

I swallowed my irritation and tried to make my voice soothing. "We knew this was going to be tricky. I thought that was assumed. And then - well, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. And this is really nothing." I brushed my fingers along my arm. "I think for a first time, not knowing what to expect, we did amazing. With a little practice - "

His expression was suddenly so livid that I broke off mid-sentence.

"Assumed? Did you expect this, Bella? Were you anticipating that I would hurt you? Were you thinking it would be worse? Do you consider the experiment a success because you can walk away from it? No broken bones - that

equals a victory?"

I waited, letting him get it all out. Then I waited some more while his breathing went back to normal. When his eyes were calm, I answered, speaking with slow precision.

"I didn't know what to expect - but I definitely did not expect how... how... just wonderful and perfect it was." My voice dropped to a whisper, my eyes slipped from his face down to my hands. "I mean, I don't know how it was for you, but it was like that for me."

A cool finger pulled my chin back up.

"Is that what you're worried about?" he said through his teeth. "That I didn't enjoy myself?"

My eyes stayed down. "I know it's not the same. You're not human. I just was trying to explain that, for a human, well, I can't imagine that life gets any better than that."

He was quiet for so long that, finally, I had to look up. His face was softer now, thoughtful.

"It seems that I have more to apologize for." He frowned. "I didn't dream that you would construe the way I feel about what I did to you to mean that last night wasn't... well, the best night of my existence. But I don't want to think of it that way, not when you were ..."

My lips curved up a little at the edges. "Really? The best ever?" I asked in a small voice.

He took my face between his hands, still introspective. "I spoke to Carlisle after you and I made our bargain, hoping he could help me. Of course he warned me that this would be very dangerous for you."

A shadow crossed his expression. "He had faith in me, though - faith I didn't deserve."

I started to protest, and he put two fingers over my lips before I could comment.

"I also asked him what should expect. I didn't know what it would be for me... what with my being a vampire." He smiled halfheartedly. "Carlisle told me it was a very powerful thing, like nothing else. He told me physical love was something I should not treat lightly. With our rarely changing temperaments, strong emotions can alter us in permanent ways. But he said I did not need to worry about that part  - you had already altered me so completely." This time his smile was more genuine.

"I spoke to my brothers, too. They told me it was a very great pleasure. Second only to drinking human blood." A line creased his brow. "But I've tasted your blood, and there could be no blood more potent than that... I don't think they were wrong, really. Just that it was different for us. Something more."

"It was more. It was everything."

"That doesn't change the fact that it was wrong. Even if it were possible that you really did feel that way."

"What does that mean? Do you think I'm making this up? Why?"

"To ease my guilt. I can't ignore the evidence, Bella. Or your history of trying to let me off the hook when I make mistakes."

I grabbed his chin and leaned forward so that our faces were inches apart. "You listen to me, Edward Cullen. I am not pretending anything for your sake, okay? I didn't even know there was a reason to make you feel better until you started being all miserable. I've never been so happy in all my life - I wasn't this happy when you decided that

you loved me more than you wanted to kill me, or the first morning I woke up and you were there waiting for me.... Not when I heard your voice in the ballet studio" - he flinched at the old memory of my close call with a hunting vampire, but I didn't pause - "or when you said i do' and I realized that, somehow, I get to keep you forever. Those are the happiest memories I have, and this is better than any of it. So just deal with it."

He touched the frown line between my eyebrows. Tm making you unhappy now. I don't want to do that."

"Then don't you be unhappy. That's the only thing that's wrong here."

His eyes tightened, then he took a deep breath and nodded. "You're right. The past is past and I can't do anything to change it. There's no sense in letting my mood sour this time for you. HI do whatever I can to make you happy now."

I examined his face suspiciously, and he gave me a serene smile.

"Whatever makes me happy?"

My stomach growled at the same time that I asked.

"You're hungry," he said quickly. He was swiftly out of the bed, stirring up a cloud of feathers. Which reminded me.

"So, why exactly did you decide to ruin Esme's pillows?" I asked, sitting up and shaking more down from my hair.

He had already pulled on a pair of loose khaki pants, and he stood by the door, rumpling his hair, dislodging a few feathers of his own.

"I don't know if I decided to do anything last night," he muttered. "We're just lucky it was the pillows and not you." He inhaled deeply and then shook his head, as if shaking off the dark thought. A very authentic-looking smile spread across his face, but I guessed it took a lot of work to put it there.

I slid carefully off the high bed and stretched again, more aware, now, of the aches and sore spots. I heard him gasp. He turned away from me, and his hands balled up, knuckles white.

"Do I look that hideous?" I asked, working to keep my tone light. His breath caught, but he didn't turn, probably to hide his expression from me. I walked to the bathroom to check for myself.

I stared at my na**d body in the full-length mirror behind the door.

I'd definitely had worse. There was a faint shadow across one of my cheekbones, and my lips were a little swollen, but other than that, my face was fine. The rest of me was decorated with patches of blue and purple. I concentrated on the bruises that would be the hardest to hide - my arms and my shoulders. They weren't so bad. My skin marked up easily. By the time a bruise showed I'd usually forgotten how I'd come by it. Of course, these were just developing. I'd look even worse tomorrow. That would not make things any easier.

I looked at my hair, then, and groaned.

"Bella?" He was right there behind me as soon as I'd made a sound.

"I'll never get this all out of my hair!" I pointed to my head, where it looked like a chicken was nesting. I started picking at the feathers.

"You would be worried about your hair," he mumbled, but he came to stand behind me, pulling out the feathers

much more quickly.

"How did you keep from laughing at this? I look ridiculous."

He didn't answer; he just kept plucking. And I knew the answer anyway - there was nothing that would be funny to him in this mood.

'This isn't going to work," I sighed after a minute. "It's all dried in. I'm going to have to try to wash it out." I turned around, wrapping my arms around his cool waist. "Do you want to help me?"

Td better find some food for you," he said in a quiet voice, and he gently unwound my arms. I sighed as he disappeared, moving too fast.

It looked like my honeymoon was over. The thought put a big lump in my throat.

When I was mostly feather-free and dressed in an unfamiliar white cotton dress that concealed the worst of the violet blotches, I padded off barefoot to where the smell of eggs and bacon and Cheddar cheese was coming from.

Edward stood in front of the stainless steel stove, sliding an omelet onto the light blue plate waiting on the counter. The scent of the food overwhelmed me. I felt like I could eat the plate and the frying pan, too; my stomach snarled.

"Here," he said. He turned with a smile on his face and set the plate on a small tiled table.

I sat in one of the two metal chairs and started snarfing down the hot eggs. They burned my throat, but I didn't care.

He sat down across from me. "I'm not feeding you often enough."

I swallowed and then reminded him, "I was asleep. This is really good, by the way. Impressive for someone who doesn't eat."

"Food Network," he said, flashing my favorite crooked smile.

I was happy to see it, happy that he seemed more like his normal self.

"Where did the eggs come from?"

"I asked the cleaning crew to stock the kitchen. A first, for this place. I'll have to ask them to deal with the feathers.... " He trailed off, his gaze fixed on a space above my head. I didn't respond, trying to avoid saying anything that would upset him again.

I ate everything, though he'd made enough for two.

"Thank you," I told him. I leaned across the table to kiss him. He kissed me back automatically, and then suddenly stiffened and leaned away.

I gritted my teeth, and the question I meant to ask came out sounding like an accusation. "You aren't going to touch me again while we're here, are you?"

He hesitated, then half-smiled and raised his hand to stroke my cheek. His fingers lingered softly on my skin, and I couldn't help leaning my face into his palm.

"You know that's not what I meant."

He sighed and dropped his hand. "I know. And you're right." He paused, lifting his chin slightly. And then he spoke again with firm conviction. "I will not make love with you until you've been changed. I will never hurt you again."

6. DISTRACTIONS

My entertainment became the number-one priority on isle Esme. We snorkeled (well, I snorkeled while he flaunted his ability to go without oxygen indefinitely). We explored the small jungle that ringed the rocky little peak. We visited the parrots that lived in the canopy on the south end of the island. We watched the sunset from the rocky western cove. We swam with the porpoises that played in the warm,

shallow waters there. Or at least I did; when Edward was in the water, the porpoises disappeared as if a shark was near.

I knew what was going on. He was trying to keep me busy, distracted, so I that wouldn't continue badgering him about the sex thing. Whenever I tried to talk him into taking it easy with one of the million DVDs under the big-screen plasma TV, he would lure me out of the house with magic words like coral reefs and submerged caves and sea turtles. We were going, going, going all day, so that I found myself completely famished and exhausted when the sun eventually set.

I drooped over my plate after I finished dinner every night; once I'd actually fallen asleep right at the table and he'd had to carry me to bed. Part of it was that Edward always made too much food for one, but I was so hungry after swimming and climbing all day that I ate most of it. Then, full and worn out, I could barely keep my eyes open. All part of the plan, no doubt.

Exhaustion didn't help much with my attempts at persuasion. But I didn't give up. I tried reasoning, pleading, and grouching, all to no avail. I was usually unconscious before I could really press my case far. And then my dreams felt so real - nightmares mostly, made more vivid, I guessed, by the too-bright colors of the island - that I woke up tired no matter how long I slept.

About a week or so after we'd gotten to the island, I decided to try compromise. It had worked for us in the past.

I was sleeping in the blue room now. The cleaning crew wasn't due until the next day, and so the white room still had a snowy blanket of down. The blue room was smaller, the bed more reasonably proportioned. The walls were

dark, paneled in teak, and the fittings were all luxurious blue silk.

I'd taken to wearing some of Alice's lingerie collection to sleep in at night - which weren't so revealing compared to the scanty bikinis she'd packed for me when it came right down to it. I wondered if she'd seen a vision of why I would want such things, and then shuddered, embarrassed by that thought.

I'd started out slow with innocent ivory satins, worried that revealing more of my skin would be the opposite of helpful, but ready to try anything. Edward seemed to notice nothing, as if I were wearing the same ratty old sweats I wore at home.

The bruises were much better now - yellowing in some places and disappearing altogether in others - so tonight I pulled out one of the scarier pieces as I got ready in the paneled bathroom. It was black, lacy, and embarrassing to look at even when it wasn't on. I was careful not to look in the mirror before I went back to the bedroom. I didn't want to lose my nerve.

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