Chapter Seventeen

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Damn you, ever-nagging plot bunnies ... I just can't get this one out of my head. I am focusing on one story, but I wanted to get a foundation on this new one. So, here we go ... This will be similar to Buying Love, Friends with Benefits, Mafia Princess and The One That Got Away, with shorter chapters and weekly updates: Sundays with teasers on Thursday.

This chapter will still be in Bella's POV and we'll get the citrusy goodness. Will they or won't they? Tell me? What do you think? Is she ready to make love to her mate? Or will we just have some fun exploring each other?

Chapter Seventeen

BPOV

"Do you want this? Do you want us?"

"I want us, but I'm still ..." I trailed off. "What if ..."

"You're in charge, sih'rena," he murmured, his lips caressing mine. "You tell me what you want. I'm yours, irrevocably, undeniably and unconditionally. I will love you, no matter what. That will never, ever change. I'm yours to command, love. Tell me what you want."

"You," I breathed, tugging him to me and kissing his lips.

He cradled me as we fell onto the bed. His cool skin covering mine, igniting my own flesh aflame with desire, need and want. My legs spread and I cradled his hips between mine. I could feel his hardness pressed against my thigh. I stiffened. "Sih'rena?" Edward asked, looking down at me.

"I'm sorry," I whispered, my voice choking off.

"You're not ready for that step, love," Edward murmured, his hand cupping my cheek and rolling us onto our sides so I couldn't feel him there. "We can stop."

"No. I don't want to stop," I pleaded. I was on fire and I needed him to douse the flames burning within me. "I just don't think that I'm ready to make love, Edward. I want you. I want you so badly, but ..." I wish I could show him what I had to endure. I knew he'd never treat me like Jacob did, like I was a whore, but it didn't stop the feelings of shame coursing through me.

"Look at me, Bella," Edward said, his voice deep and powerful, even though it was quiet. "I know what he did to you. I wish I could take all that ugliness away. You deserved so much better. He tricked you, hurt you ... I know that you want this, us, but I'm okay with what we have."

I scowled. "I'm not," I huffed. "I want to give myself to you. Completely, but when I close my eyes, I see him. I feel him." I hated that our time together was marred with my insecurities, my fears. Edward traced his finger down my ear and along my neck. I looked at him and furrowed my brow. His gaze was still heated, sultry, smoldering, but his gesture was tender and comforting.

"Do you trust me?" Edward asked.

"With my life," I breathed.

"Close your eyes," he commanded.

"But ... I just said ..." I sputtered.

"I know what you said, but I want you to close your eyes," he said. "Or do you need help?" He got up and swiped his tie from the pile of clothes on the floor. I arched a brow, but my eyes fluttered shut. His cool hands touched my arms and slid down their length before threading our fingers together. I felt my arms being lifted and my palms were on either side of his face. "What do you feel?"

My fingers traced the planes of his face, feeling the cool skin that felt like marble under my fingertips. I kept my eyes closed, moving my hands to his ears and feeling their subtle point and moving down his neck, stopping to count his heart beats as they pulsed against my fingers. "Smooth, cool skin, pointed ears and steady heartbeat." He pulled me closer, my legs on either side of his hips. We were a knot, I knew that much. "I can smell your cologne. It's clean, masculine and you."

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