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Chaper 22 - Hovaness

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1 Chaper 22 - Hovaness on Sun Nov 28, 2010 8:20 pm

Mrs.KreszentiaBlack

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As I worked the offensive article of clothing to the top of her ribs, it happened again.



My cell phone began to vibrate.



"Ignore it," Bella uttered almost intelligibly as her free hand moved from my back to aid my effort removing her own shirt.



Smirking against her lips, I concurred silently, continuing my task of undressing her as quickly as possible without shredding her top to ribbons. In my head, I counted down each round of vibration, until the call would go to my voicemail and leave us in peace.



After several long seconds, the phone fell silent.



Bella giggled wickedly against my eager mouth, arching up as my hand slid around her back to more effectively aid my roguish task. She was just beginning to raise her free arm back up to the headboard, encouraging my actions when the phone began to vibrate yet again.



I flung myself upwards and away from Bella to the far side of the bed, simultaneously ripping the odious device from my pocket and nearly crushing it when I depressed the answer key.



"I'm not kidding anymore. So help me, if there isn't some cataclysmic reason for this interruption, I will pull up the anchor this instant and we will elope to Siberia." My face was twisted in rage, animosity dripping from every syllable. "And you will not be witness to our vows in any manner, whatsoever."



"Threaten all you want, Edward, but you don't scare me. You were right, you know...about the wager? Jasper and Emmett are sitting here, swapping rolls of cash as I update them on your future. Rosalie has even set up a board, complete with the changing point spread and side bet opportunities."



She paused, and I heard the distinct voices of my siblings in the background, arguing profusely over their bets. "It appears the gamble has now extended to our distant relatives as well," Alice continued. "Tanya just called Carlisle - she's wiring a rather large sum of cash as we speak."



Growling loudly, I mumbled a string of profanities that only Alice could hear before raising my voice. "I hope you're all enjoying yourselves, because you've..."



"Edward, don't you dare!" My sister was shrieking loudly enough for Bella to hear. I glanced over at my bride, who was now sitting up wide-eyed, her jaw agape as she listened to Alice's tirade. "If you even think about sailing off into the sunset we'll all come after you and drag your rebellious behind home! Behave!"



"Fine!" It took every ounce of my control not to snap the phone in two as I ended the call. Rocking back on my haunches, I stared at the far wall, willing myself to calm down. As infuriated as I was with the constant interruptions, I knew I couldn't shut off the phone - I would never forgive myself if I missed the one call that warned us of any true danger. No matter how much my family reassured me that all possible threats, natural or supernatural, had been thoroughly dealt with, I couldn't let myself forget how much of a danger-magnet Bella truly was. I had charged Alice with keeping a vigilant watch for her safety, self-mandating that I be reachable by phone at all times since I was too far away to receive mental warnings.



Plus, a small piece of me knew that Alice was absolutely right. We couldn't really elope, not when we were so close to the actual wedding. It would kill Bella's parents - it would kill my parents. And as much as I wanted to keep my fiancée all to myself, I knew that wasn't fair to everyone else in our lives. I would have eternity to spend doting on her every need, loving her, worshipping her. But that time had to wait just a precious few more days - this upcoming experience was as much for our families and friends as it was for the two of us.



The tension that wracked my body from Alice's call had begun to dispel; that is, until my mind wandered back to her comments regarding my family's obsession with gambling...specifically on our physical relationship. Instantly, my jaw clenched in irritation as I envisioned the lot of them hovering around Rosalie's board, shouting out under/over wagers and hedge bets against one another. Sweet Bella did not need to know about their impious games. How could they be so crass?



The bed rocked as Bella shifted her weight and moved to embrace me. Her warm arms wrapped around my back and she rested her head on my shoulder. "It's okay, Edward. Relax." I felt my body respond immediately to her words and actions; my enraged breathing slowed, the fury that had threatened to consume me ebbing with each passing beat of her heart. After a moment, she kissed me lightly on my neck.



"Alice sure knows how to ruin the mood."



I coughed back a laugh and bent down to peer at my amusing vixen. "You have no idea."



"Actually, I do." Bella lowered herself until her lips were even with my bare chest, her arms still holding me tightly. "Just when things were starting to get interesting..." she trailed off as she kissed me again.



Closing my eyes, I let my head fall back and indulged myself in the erotic sensation of her searing mouth on my body. "Are you trying to get her to call again?"



I felt the smile trace across her lips. "Not at all," she murmured innocently.



"I don't believe you, love." As the last of my anger dissipated, I reached down to stroke her hair tenderly. I'd deal with my evil siblings soon enough - for now, I just wanted to enjoy our precious time alone. Bella sighed contently, before I felt her draw in a deep breath, unconsciously yawning.



Glancing down, I grinned at my bewitching angel. "Tired?"



"No." She kissed my chest more urgently.



"Bella, it's getting late. And you really shouldn't start something you can't finish."



That caught her attention. She froze for only a second, then whipped her head up to meet my teasing gaze. "Who said I wasn't going to finish?"



"Your body did. You just yawned, love." I kissed her forehead lightly. "We've had enough fun for one night, don't you agree?" As much as I wanted to continue, I knew she'd never be able to stay awake long enough to make it worthwhile. Better for her to sleep now and be fully rested tomorrow for our second day at sea.



She pushed herself back, a determined pout on her face. "No, I'm not ready for bed yet." Her arms crossed as she went to grasp the hem of her shirt, preparing to finally pull it over her head. I quickly grabbed her wrists.



"Bella..." I whispered, staring at her intently. She may be able to persuade me with her endearing pleas, but I knew full well what my dazzling did to her. And it was imperative that she not push us any further tonight if we wanted to win this very important bet. Living in a household with a psychic, an empath, and, of course, my own mind-reading capabilities had created a family of staunch gamblers. It was virtually impossible for me to walk away from this type of wager, no matter what the value of the stakes, especially one that I had ultimate control over. The game was truly on, now.



A whimper escaped her lips as her eyes glazed over. I released my hold on her wrists and gently pushed her backwards, catching, then lowering her down onto the pillows.



"Sleep, love," I murmured softly against her ear as I curled myself around her lax form. Her breathing continued to slow as my hypnotic stare lulled her pulse to an idyllic pace.



She blinked twice before responding. "Edward, don't leave. Stay with me, please?" Her arms were around me again as she snuggled against my hard chest.



"Always." I breathed into her hair, clutching her head to my shoulder.





Bella slowly drifted off to sleep, lulled by the gentle rocking of the ketch beneath us; I questioned my own resolve as I held her in my arms. I had been so incredibly close to losing control and giving in to every bodily craving I'd had since we boarded the boat, that I wondered if I'd have the strength to make it through another thirty-six hours. Yet I desperately wanted to beat my siblings at their outlandish game. I desperately wanted to beat Alice, for once. Surely it had to be possible, even with my current state of mind.



Sensing that she was finally asleep, I rose from the bed, first pulling a thick quilt over her body before moving into the salon to put in another CD, my mind continuing its endless mulling over my internal duality when it came to the slumbering beauty in the aft stateroom. I set the player to repeat, knowing the peaceful notes of Hovhaness would sooth my angel unconsciously, the symphony complimenting the swaying of the boat as it rocked in the breeze.



Strolling topside to fulfill my constant need to check on our safety, I paused on the main deck to breathe in the cool night air. Everything at that moment was so peaceful. No unfamiliar voices pummeled my brain, no disruptive sounds plagued my ears. Bella's earlier words rang through my head once again - relax. I took a second deep breath and commanded my body to do just that. Now, if I could just shut down my diabolical mind, then I might be able to secure a rare moment of calm.



But then I heard it. She was calling my name - barely a whisper.



"Edward."



At once I was back in the stateroom, kneeling above her sleeping form, watching in awe as she mumbled my name repeatedly.



"Edward."



"I'm here love," I whispered as I gently lay down next to her. She had twisted herself around the quilt, clutching it tightly. I reached out for her tense hand, caressing it lightly until she eventually released her strangle-hold.



"Mmm..." she moaned, turning again into my open embrace. I slowly hugged her to my chest, stroking her soft hair repeatedly as I drank in her alluring scent.



My actions must have awoken something within her, though she remained blissfully unconscious. Her hand swept across my side and began to trail along my bare back, even as her heartbeat remained slow and steady. She had spoken in her sleep before, but never had her body reacted in this way to my touch.



I couldn't resist testing out this new curiosity. "Bella, are you sleeping?" My voice was barely audible over the low notes of the music.



"Mmm." I decided to press on, despite the ambiguity of her reply.



"Shall I kiss you, love?"



Her hand on my back stopped and pressed firmly against my spine. "Edward," she murmured quietly, eyes still closed, tilting her face just slightly upwards towards mine, as if responding to my words.



"Yes?" I knew I was being cruel, but I couldn't resist - she was absolutely adorable when she talked in her sleep.



"Love...you."



That was all it took to end my little game. I moved my hand to gently cup her face, turning it so I could more effectively kiss her full lips. Moving with extreme, measured slowness, I pressed mine to hers, savoring her sweet breath as it mingled with my own. I listened closely to her heartbeat, but detected no change - she was still asleep. How strange - on some level, her mind had to be aware of my presence, yet her vitals remained wonderfully oblivious. Suddenly, a wild thought occurred to me. I wondered exactly what it would take to rouse her from this deep state of sleep...



My impious musing was immediately stifled, however, by a single, intense vibration from my cell phone. This time, it was a text - most likely from the same person who had been interrupting us all night long.



I gradually detangled myself from Bella and rolled off the bed, removing my phone irritably. Sure enough, Alice was the sender.



Leave the room NOW, if you want any chance of winning the bet.



I rolled my eyes. What could possibly happen while she was fast asleep? Besides, I thought we were on our own against the rest of my family. Was Alice actually betting with us now?



Just then, Bella groaned loudly and rolled to her back, her hand flitting upwards to brush her neck. I froze, watching incredulously as her fingers leisurely and deliberately began to slide down the length of her torso.



My phone vibrated again. I tore my eyes away from the sight before me, glancing down at the illuminated screen.



Out, NOW. Get in the other stateroom and SHUT THE DOORS!



Finally, my mind pieced together the message and the actions playing out before me. Alice was right - I could feel the venom begin to surge in my mouth as I realized exactly what might happen if I stayed.



I raced out of the room and across the ship, shutting the door quietly, but forcibly behind me as I flung myself onto the lounger in my forward study. Gasping for breath, my mind reeled with scandalous thoughts of what I could be watching at that very moment. Not just watching - but actively participating in. My eyes flitted wildly as I tightly gripped the arms of the chair in order to keep myself from returning to my restless Bella. Thankfully, the phone vibrated a third time, momentarily distracting my one-track mind.



You can't think about it. You must stay put Edward. Trust me.



Shaking my head in frustration, I finally found the strength to text Alice back.



I'll try.



Try was a very subjective word these days - but I somehow had to find the will to remain out of that room for the rest of the night. If we were going to lose the bet, it most certainly wasn't going to be while Bella was asleep and unaware of our tryst.



And so I began the agonizing, laborious task of preoccupying my mind with thoughts safely disassociated from the temptress that slept only two rooms away.





I sensed the change in pressure first; the air molecules inside my study seemed to tangibly compress. Buried deeply within my nautical history book, I was astonished when I finally looked up to see the light from my reading lamp waver as it stretched across the small space. As my ears detected an almost inaudible rumble from miles away, I realized what was approaching - a thunderstorm.



The first thought that crossed my mind was Bella's reaction to the storm in San Francisco. Venom instantly surged around my tongue, enticing me to stand, cross the length of the ship, and relive that incredible night.



No, I commanded myself. You must let her sleep.



However, I couldn't ignore the urge to leave the room. It was in both of our best interests that I go back topside and recheck the anchor lines before booting up my laptop and scanning the radar. Alice hadn't warned me of any dangerous weather, and my phone had remained blissfully silent since I had sent my last text. Surely, this was just the garden variety of storm, nothing to worry about.



Thankfully, the instinctual urge to protect Bella was strong enough to overrun any other bodily desires. I was easily able to leave my study and pass by the aft stateroom without being tempted to peek inside, instead continuing up the stairs to the main deck and beginning my circuit of re-securing the rigs and lines. The constant breeze off the water flowed through the cabins easily, circulating its earthen aroma throughout the vessel, further aiding my honorable endeavors by displacing any lingering scent of Bella.



After returning below deck and confirming that, indeed, the approaching storm was nothing more than a passing front, I took a quick shower, changed into a fresh outfit, and tried to return to my reading. But a loud clap of thunder rumbled through the walls of the ship, inevitably awakening Bella. I heard her begin to toss, and I could no longer resist - after following Alice's orders and remaining separate from her for the duration of the night, I simply had to see her that instant.



I checked my quixotic urges at the study door before moving forward, resolved to behave at all costs.



On the far side of the ketch, I gently pushed the stateroom door ajar, peering in to see if Bella had fully awoken. Just then, another crack of thunder sounded over us, lightning flickering outside the stateroom windows. The culmination of the bright flash and resounding growl of the heavens shook my bride from the lingering tendrils of sleep.



Bella's eyes flitted open, finding my adoring stare immediately.



"Edward," she whispered happily as she began to sit up.



I rushed forward onto the bed, lifting Bella into my arms and settling us both against the headboard. "I'm sorry I wasn't here when you woke." I tightened my hold on her warm body, kissing her once on the forehead.



We sat quietly for a moment, listening to the sporadic raindrops hit the deck above us.



"Is it supposed to rain all day?" she mumbled sleepily against my shoulder.



"Off and on. Nothing to worry about." A low rumble reverberated through the cabin, but not menacingly so. The storm was weak, just a small cell moving through the area. Although the forecast called for a chance of rain throughout the day, there were no severe weather warnings that would threaten our stay upon the Isabella Marie.



Bella shifted and raised her head slightly. "What's playing right now?"



"Mysterious Mountain. Hovhaness."



Her brow knitted in puzzlement as she looked up at me. Although, most often, it was nearly impossible for me to guess her thoughts, this time, I could see the question plainly written within her bewitching, brown eyes.



"I've had it on repeat since late last night," I clarified somewhat awkwardly. I wasn't sure how to explain that, often times, I listened to the same song repeatedly, the monotony helping me to unwind my turbulent emotions. "It fit my mood."



She nodded once, dropping her eyes once again and snuggling back up against my neck.



"I understand."



Her simple reply drove my lips back to her forehead, which I began to kiss repeatedly, thanking her wordlessly for letting me express myself the only way I knew how. She yawned against my neck as I continued to languorously trace kisses down the bridge of her nose, eventually finding her mouth.



"Did you sleep well, love?" I murmured between fleeting pecks.



"Um, I think so." Her brow creased in concentration. "But why did you leave?"



I pulled back, searching her eyes and wondering if she remembered all of the events leading up to our compulsory separation. She continued to stare at me in bafflement, and an uncontrollable smirk began to grow on my face. Apparently she didn't remember everything.



"It was best for our...virtue if I stayed in the other cabin."



She broke away from my embrace to appraise me sternly. "Says who?"



"Alice, of course," I snickered.



Bella huffed loudly before replying. "So now you can't even hold me while I sleep?"



I glanced down at the comforter, unsure of how to explain the plethora of text messages. "Technically, I stayed until you fell asleep. But Alice feared something might have happened if I stayed all night..." I trailed off, sheepishly glancing back up to her incredulous expression.



"Edward, what did she tell you last night?"



I instantly decided to omit the latter part about Alice's messages and skip back to the phone calls. "Apparently my family is placing hefty bets on the two of us."



Bella threw up her arms in exasperation. "Let them bet! But why does Alice need to continue to interrupt our private time?"



"Because she's thinking of our best interests, and she's trying to help us succeed, love." I reached out to stroke Bella's flushed cheek. "I thought you said you wanted to win this little competition."



"I do, but at what cost?" She placed her hand atop mine, holding it to her face. "I'm not about to spend the next twenty-four hours in separate rooms." Pulling my hand away, she turned to kiss my palm. "You are my fiancé. You will be my husband in a few days. Nothing is going to change that." She paused to plant another sumptuous kiss further down on my wrist.



Grudgingly, I slowly pulled my arm away from her mouth. "Bella, the choice is up to you. But please make sure you've thought it through completely before we cross a line that cannot be crossed again."



She averted her eyes, staring down at her hands which fretfully toyed with one another in her lap. I could almost hear the wheels turning in her mind as she worked through my words. Finally, she sighed resolutely, then looked up to me once more.



"You're right. I'm not being very fair to you, am I?"



I outwardly groaned, burying my heads in my hands. Why did Bella always place the blame on herself? This conundrum was no more her fault than mine. If any finger-pointing needed to occur, it was my siblings that ought to be on the receiving end, for so unabashedly turning our personal liaisons into a sport.



Lifting my head, I met her sorrowful gaze repentantly. "I will do whatever you wish, love. Shall I interpret your resigned tone to mean we're going to willingly comport the next few days?"



She nodded meekly, then leaned forward and wrapped her arms around my neck, hugging me tightly. I returned the gesture, holding my angel snugly against me as I rocked her with the gentle movement of the ship. After several moments of just holding one another, Bella took in a deep breath and pulled away, an elfin smile on her heavenly face.



"We can still have fun, Edward." Her eyes drifted to my lips for a quick second, then rose up, meeting my iniquitous gaze.



"I have no doubt about that." I winked, causing a blush to creep across her cheeks. Her accelerating heartbeat called to me like a siren's song, tempting me to lean in and graze her jaw with my depraved lips, just to see how fast I could get it to thump. I was fully in control - I knew I could stop myself before we began retracting our recent oath.



But Bella had other ideas. Just as I started to lean towards her alluring face, she pushed herself back, leaping off the bed and stumbling as her foot caught in the tangled quilt that lay partially on the floor. Instinctively I moved to catch her, but she righted herself clumsily and waved away my extended arm.



"I need a human moment. Actually, several of them," she explained as she shuffled over to the bathroom door. Pausing, she turned back to me. "Plus, it'll give us time to...prepare ourselves for the day." Her tone gave away her true meaning - prepare ourselves mentally as well as physically.



Debating whether or not to tell her that I was fully in control of my actions and plead for just one kiss, prudence inevitably won out. I resisted the sinful urge to step forward, trap her slim body between my arms and press her back against the wall.



Instead I forced a convincing smile onto my face and let her slip into the bathroom, alone.



"Of course, love. I'll start breakfast."



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