Chapter Thirteen: On the Beach

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So sorry for the long time between uploads! I've been working on the book I'm editing; it's almost ready to go to the publishing house! We plan to put the finishing touches on it this weekend! Anyway, it's been nine months of long hours and hard work, but I'm very proud of the work we've accomplished and the quality and importance of this book. It's actually a update/revision of the Book of Common Prayer using the English Standard Version Bible which came out in 2001, so it's really a prayer book for the 21st century. I'm the main editor, and I still have proofs to review, but I took a break from my editor's pen today to finish Chapter 13. :)

It gets pretty darn romantic--perhaps more so than the original books would lead us--but I didn't think you'd mind. I sure don't. ;)

Please keep on voting, fanning, and commenting!!! Love you guys!! Thanks for being sooooo patient!

--Cassandra :)

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 Chapter Thirteen: On the Beach

I lifted a forkful of the same Italian dish that Bella had eaten on our first "date" in Port Angeles, mushroom ravioli, to her lips as we lolled on the golden coverlet atop the warm sand, flickering votive candles in crystal bowls surrounding us, even in the afternoon sunshine. True, candlelight would be more effective at night, but Alice had insisted....

Bella smiled at me as I dabbed at the corner of her mouth with the linen napkin in my other hand. "I'm stuffed, really," she protested as I prepared to continue feeding her. She had taken only a sip or two of the wine, explaining that while she appreciated the romantic idea behind the pinot grigio, wine wasn't really her "thing."

Reluctantly she took one last bite of ravioli before groaning, "I won't be able to move!" and flopped onto her back, throwing her arm over her face. Grinning at her hidden face, I scooped up the remaining food and put it away before stretching out next to her on my side, leaning on my elbow so I could watch her. The sun sent shimmers reflecting from my skin across her arms and face, and I froze, shutting my eyes firmly against this glimpse of Bella, sparkling like an immortal.

All too clearly, despite my closed eyes I viewed the future Alice had seen so very clearly...the future that would apparently happen after much pain and suffering, on both of our parts. I sighed, wishing for the strength to leave, to take away the pain that my presence was seeming to bring upon the girl I loved so very dearly. If only I could be strong enough to leave, to save her from becoming the monster I was....

I felt Bella move beside me, and as I opened my eyes, she reached a tentative hand to my cheek, frowning at the pained grimace that must have been my expression. "Edward?" she asked, worried. "What is it?"

I shook my head, pasting an almost-convincing smile across my face. "Nothing, Bella." I rolled away from her to adjust a few of the candles, trying to buy a few moments to gather my defenses. But Bella saw through me all too easily; I knew the fear would remain in my eyes and that she would recognize it. She always did.

"Edward?" Bella's questioning voice followed me. I sighed heavily, took a deep breath, and turned back to her, my face a mask of calm. I smiled, attempting to dazzle her as a distraction. I reached my hand to her face, cupping it in my cold palm. As I listened to her breathing roughen and heart rate increase at my mere touch, my smile broadened as her eyes dilated and locked into mine. I leaned over, bringing my lips to hers ever so gently.

And Bella's arms were around my neck, her fingers digging into the hair at the nape of my neck as she kissed me back, warmly and passionately. I sighed against her closed mouth and she obediently opened hers. Ever so slowly, my icy tongue traced the shape of her beautiful lips; Bella groaned under me, trying to pull herself even closer. Her chest heaved under mine, and her warmth permeated me, making me feel more human than I ever had before. My arms wrapped under her, sliding between her top and the coverlet beneath us, holding her even more fully against me. My mouth crushed hers gently, her warm breath mingling with mine, the sweet taste of her filling me.

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