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Chapter 23 - Smetana

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1 Chapter 23 - Smetana on Sun Nov 28, 2010 8:23 pm

Mrs.KreszentiaBlack

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Bella slid onto the dinette bench, eagerly digging into her plate of eggs and bacon. Her hair was still somewhat damp and smelled delectably like fresh cut flowers. I sat across from her, my arms crossed, grinning in utter delight as she devoured her breakfast.



"Have I ever told you how much I love eggs?" She glanced up at me from under her lashes, cheerfully shoving another bite into her mouth.



I watched her closely before replying. "I'll have to remember that. I will cook you eggs every morning if you wish, love."



Her foot found mine under the table and rubbed against it playfully. "I could handle that."



I swallowed down a trickle of venom that ran down my throat as another waft of her freshly-washed skin began to erase all thoughts of being good. Needing all of the help I could get, I decided to broach the delicate topic. "Maybe we should discuss our plan of attack for the next twenty four hours."



Bella raised her eyebrows. "You mean discuss what we can and can't do?"



"It might make it easier, and it'll mean fewer interruptions from the voyeurs back in Forks." I frowned as her foot started creeping up my leg. "Where should we begin?"



She slid the last bit of eggs into her mouth, and then leaned back, appraising my puckered brow. "For starters, no dazzling me."



"Only if you promise not to beg."



"Beg?"



I nodded, reaching down to push her foot back below my knee. "You know I can't tell you no when you plead with me."



Bella's expression began to mirror mine as she grimaced apprehensively. "I guess that means no touching?" She glanced down briefly to my lap, indicating the removal of her foot.



"Well, not that kind."



"So far, I'm not liking these rules."



Trust me, I'm not either.



I sighed disconsolately, before leaning forward and reaching for her hand. "Why don't we just try, love? Maybe we both have willpower that we never realized existed."



She nodded mutely, her eyes returning to mine. "Will they continue to bet against us, even if we try and be good?"



"Possibly." Just then, a thought occurred to me. "Actually, yes, they will, if we think about certain things, yet refrain from actually following through."



Bella pursed her lips together determinedly. "I don't think that will be too difficult to do."



My jaw fell open as I read into the double meaning of her words. She noticed my surprise immediately and began backpedaling.



"I meant the thinking part...you know...um..." As she stammered, I leaned further across the table, capturing her blushing cheeks in my hands.



"Don't worry, I know what you meant. And if it's of any consequence, I feel exactly the same way." I kissed her chastely on the nose before returning to my seat. "Now then, how should we spend the rest of our day together?"



Bella slid off the bench to stand at the edge of the dinette. "I'm open for suggestions. But first, I think we need to properly say ‘good morning' to each other." Taking a step towards me, she crawled onto my bench, reaching forward with one hand to pull my head towards her. "Good morning, love." She pressed her delicious lips to mine, kissing me tenderly, and utterly destroying my earlier resolve. All I could think about was how badly I wanted her - and that she had stolen my line.



Right as I was reaching up to wind my fingers through her damp hair, Bella took her free hand and captured mine, squeezing it once before slowly bringing it back down to the surface of the table.



"Must." She pulled away a half inch from my lips, but then leaned in for another soft kiss. "Be." Again, her mouth retreated from mine for a second. Then, a third light kiss. "Good." Bella grinned cheerfully as she rocked back from me, obviously pleased with her actions.



I sat frozen, watching her slip away through my narrowed gaze. Her self-control and teasing kisses had had the opposite effect on me - gripping the top of the bench seat tightly, I gritted my teeth, fighting to hold myself back from climbing out of the dinette. I desperately wanted to capture her in my arms and lift her up onto the galley island behind her, where I could wrap her legs around me and attack her graceful neck and jaw with my hungry lips. The entire scenario played out in my mind, over and over, to the point where I could actually feel her hot skin against me and taste her succulent flesh on my lips. All I had to do was release my hold on the seat...



"Edward, what's wrong?"



I blinked, the fantasy gone instantaneously as my vision cleared, allowing me to focus on Bella's concerned face, her brow creased in worry. Painfully, I swallowed back a mouthful of venom.



"I'm sorry, Bella - just daydreaming." I tried to downplay my near loss of control, keeping my voice even, but she saw right through my charade.



Frowning, she took a step back to the notorious galley island, leaning against it casually. "I shouldn't have done that," she began, apologizing once again.



I shook my head rapidly, finally releasing my hold on the seat and motioning to her. "No, Bella. No apologies - remember?" Swallowing again, I forced my head to clear and focus on less-scandalous thoughts. Like her safety. Our upcoming wedding. Our impending honeymoon. Fretfully, my eyes fluttered closed as I realized I was practically incapable of not thinking about everything I shouldn't. Such a predicament. A groan escaped my parted lips as the wind from above decks raced down the stairs and blew her scent across the room, directly at me. So incredibly tempting.



"Edward, do you want me to go back to the stateroom for a moment?"



My eyes bolted open, compelled to keep her from leaving the room. "No!" I scrambled out of the dinette, approaching her quickly. "It's okay, I'm in control." Cautiously, I reached out to stroke her cheek, proving more to myself than to her, that I had spoken the truth. Although part of me still ached to pull her flush against my body, I was able to push that rebellious thought down and bury it as I focused on the uncertainly in her voice.



"Let's just keep ourselves busy with...other activities, okay?" I murmured, willing my muscles to relax.



Bella began to smile, reaching up to barely graze my hand that was still stroking her delicate cheek. She nodded her head to the right, motioning up the few steps to the salon. Then turning, she made her way to the settee beside the furnace. I took a deep breath before following her out of the galley, taking my own seat on the bench across the room from her. I leaned back, stretching my legs out in front of me and crossing my arms atop my chest, watching her closely as she tucked a leg underneath herself and curled up on one corner of the seat. She kept her eyes trained on me, studying my body language carefully before smirking.



"I promise I'll behave," she said quietly, yet her eyes danced with mischief. "But, I think that just helped our cause."



I cocked my head to the side, confused by her statement at first, until I replayed the conversation that had taken place - the one just before my eager and juvenile mind had kicked into overdrive, after her good morning kiss. Think it, but don't act on it, I reminded myself. Suddenly, I felt much more at ease - as long as one of us remained level-headed, our plan would surely work.



"So smart...and unbelievably beautiful as well," I surmised, returning her smirk with one of my own. At once, Bella blushed, but didn't hide her face in shame - I assumed that she must have found the compliment quite satisfying.



She took a deep breath. "So...what should we do? Now that the human is fed and bathed," she joked.



I lifted my eyes to the ceiling and tapped my chin thoughtfully. "Hmm." Deviously, every activity that came to mind was definitely not polite enough to bring up at the moment, so I turned the question back to her. "What would you like to do, love?"



Bella mimicked my actions, looking up to the windows above us and tapping her chin. "I suppose if it keeps raining, we can't go up on deck and enjoy the view."



Sure we could, I thought. But that would involve Bella getting wet, like she was on the balcony in San Francisco...



Though silently cursing my wicked thoughts, I continued to smirk regardless, fighting to control my voice. "True, but let me check the forecast first to see if the rain will stop later this afternoon."



"Maybe we could play a game? Do you have any on board...maybe cards?" she suggested.



Strip poker?



I visibly cringed at the mental images that plagued my head. What was wrong with me? Thankfully, Bella was once again looking skyward and didn't see my pained reaction to her question.



"Or, maybe watch a movie?"



In the stateroom, on the bed.



Using Bella's usual tactic, I bit my lip - hard. A barely audible groan escaped my lips, but it was unfortunately loud enough for her to hear it. Bella glanced over at me, concerned.

I released my lip and answered her questioning look. "Sorry - just trying to up the stakes back in Forks. Emmett's probably into his liquid cash reserves by now."



Bella giggled, then abruptly turned serious, lowering her voice.



"More music lessons?"



"But love, there's no piano on board."



The words escaped my mouth before I could censor them. My eyes grew wide in horror as I watched Bella's expression to my brusque statement, praying she wouldn't be offended. Thankfully she wasn't - but her reaction was no more help to our situation.



She shifted, unconsciously leaning forward in her seat towards me, eyes wide and mischievous. "That's too bad."



My jaw dropped open, shocked by her candid response. Venom coursed through my mouth as my mind began scheming plans for yet another renovation to the Isabella Marie, complete with its own upright piano below decks.



I had to try and stop such wayward thoughts immediately, but then my focus drifted to her outfit. How had I not noticed it before? Bella was wearing khaki shorts, her slender, pale legs now resting in front of her, in plain sight. My gaze traveled upwards to her shirt - cerulean blue. She knew it was my favorite color on her, as it so wonderfully complimented her skin tone and brought out the auburn highlights in her luxurious hair. And it was sleeveless, revealing her delicate arms as they rested on her perfect knees, cupping her chin as she continued to lean forward. I swallowed painfully as my gaze lingered on her body for several seconds.



Bella's sweet voice distracted me yet again. "Edward," she called. I finally broke away from my dream-like state to meet her stare from across the room. Her face was still roguish as she licked her lips before speaking again. "What are you thinking about?"



I was nearing my breaking point - if I didn't find something to distract me soon, I might as well call Alice that second and concede the bet. I grappled to find a plausible excuse to give Bella, because I knew if I told her the truth, she'd be the one launching herself across the room at me, and we'd wind up in the same situation that I had envisioned moments earlier in the galley.



A fresh breeze came down from above decks, bringing with it the faint aroma of seaweed. But it was what I didn't smell that spurred me into action - I could no longer detect the fresh rain.



"It's stopped raining," I replied quickly. Bella's expression remained suspicious - she obviously didn't believe that was what I was truly thinking about earlier. But it was imperative that I get out of the room immediately, before one of us did something rash.



"I'll be right back...just need to recheck the anchor lines." My excuse was flimsy - if she knew how many times I had done this same thing in the past twelve hours, she would have surely done something to beseech me to stay. But thankfully, she didn't know, and I took advantage of my narrow window of escape, rushing up the steps to the main deck.



Once out in the cool breeze, my head finally began to clear. I commanded myself to focus on things that would steer me away from the tantalizing lure of her body. Gazing upward, I marveled at the murky sky, suffused with low-hanging clouds that struggled to break apart as the wind shuffled them haphazardly from west to east. Now, only a light mist hung in the air, the storm front having drifted southeast towards the mainland. I made quick work of checking the lines before stepping around the top of the salon, where my eyes inevitably drifted down to the windows. Bella still sat on the settee, peacefully reading a tattered novel, her knees pulled up to her chest. My angel. Her child-like posture and serene expression kept the devil inside of me placid as I watched her turn a page. My love for the beauty below swelled in my chest to the point of nearly bursting forth, and I clenched the mizzen mast tightly as my body trembled from the surging waves of unadulterated emotion.



Finally lifting my gaze, I finished my route back to the wheel, considering our options for the next day. Perhaps it was best if we made our way back south towards Port Angeles while the rain held off, thus leaving us the better part of the afternoon to relax, safely anchored near San Juan Island, across the channel from Port Angeles.



Pleased with my decision, I returned below decks to share my plan with Bella. She looked up joyously from her book when she heard my footsteps on the stairs.



"Hey," she said softly.



I smiled widely at my bewitching bride, crossing the room and bending down to swiftly kiss the top of her head before pulling away. It was best we not resume our prior, flirtatious exchanges...yet.



"Wuthering Heights again?" I asked as I turned back to the stereo, loading an appropriate musical selection for our voyage south.



Bella sighed. "Yes, Heathcliff." I glanced over my shoulder, frowning at her and clucking my tongue.



"Someone sure is saucy this morning," I jested lightly as the music began to play. Before she could ask, I answered her inevitable question. "The Moldau."



Bella chuckled as I moved forward to check the radar again. The soft flute introduction began to flutter through the cabin, followed by the haunting sound of the string section's main motif.



"I've heard this before," she commented quietly from behind me.



"It's a well-known symphony. Are you aware of what it's depicting?"



"No."



I turned back to face her, grinning at her puzzled expression. "It's about ‘Vltava', a river that runs through Prague," I explained. "If you listen closely, you can hear several things within the piece. First, the flowing of the river downstream. Then, the melody describes a lively foxhunt occurring along the river, followed by a farmer's wedding celebration and dance." I couldn't help but wink at her with the mention of ‘wedding'. Bella bit her lip, peering up at me through her lashes in the most delectable way. Behave, I reminded myself before finishing. "After the wedding, the night fairies and nymphs come out to dance on the moonlit water, until finally, the river flows over the St. John's rapids, and emerges in the city, streaming past the majestic castles of Prague. And at the very end of the piece, you can hear the ebb and flow of the water drifting off into the German countryside."



Bella listened intently, her eyes locked onto mine. It took me a moment to realize I had been accidentally dazzling her, but then I looked away quickly, releasing her from my stare.



"The rain will hold off for the next few hours. I'm going to sail us south, back towards Port Angeles. Are you warm enough down here? Shall I light the furnace?"



She remained speechless, still staring at me with glassy eyes.



"Bella?" I moved towards her, reaching for her arm that still held the book. My touch jolted her from the spell.



She swallowed thickly and blinked. "Yes," she stated simply, yet ambiguously.



"Yes what, love? Are you warm enough?" I asked again, mildly worried about her lack of cohesiveness. Either my dazzling abilities were growing stronger, or Bella needed a nap.



Finally, she snapped out of her spell, shaking her head a few times before looking up at me. "Edward, you promised not to do that," she chided.



My jaw dropped momentarily, then a reflexive grin crossed my face. "You're right, I'm sorry. Can I get you anything before I head topside?" Though she was absolutely justified in scolding me despite the unintentional nature of the act, I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if I held her in my stare like that again. Maybe later, I thought impishly. If Alice doesn't interrupt us.



"Just a kiss." Bella leaned forward and kissed me quickly, careful not to let her mouth linger on mine. I growled lowly as she pulled away.



"I won't let you off that easy next time," I threatened, playfully.



She smirked and wrinkled her adorable nose. "Someone has to make sure we win this bet."



Sighing loudly, I rolled my eyes at her before turning for the stairs. I secretly vowed that the next time she was looking for some affection, I'd hold back on her. Two can play at this game - she had no idea.







We were well underway, sailing southeast, back towards Seattle and Port Angeles to the soundtrack of Smetana. I had left Bella below decks, reading Wuthering Heights for the umpteenth time, and I felt a pleasant warmth radiate inside of my frigid chest merely thinking about her below me, curled up and safe. My Bella. Though theoretically mine today, she would be legally mine in mere hours.



The overcast sky continued to swirl above me, though no rain fell. The air was humid and tepid, the light breeze blowing from the northwest heavy with the promise of more showers later that afternoon. I made a quick call to Alice after pulling up the anchor lines, assuring that no severe weather would hamper our remaining time on the water. Thankfully, she gave me a sound report that guaranteed no strong storms, further easing my ever-diligent, protective nature. I was careful not to ask about the goings-on back at home in Forks.



Around noon, a heavy mist engulfed the ship as we journeyed through Boundary pass, nearing the city of Victoria. Victoria. The name instantly brought forth scathing memories of earlier that summer, causing me to automatically snarl when I remembered how close she had come to taking my angel away from me. Never again would I allow such danger to exist for my Bella. Never.



I was so engrossed within my own thoughts that I didn't hear footsteps approaching up the salon stairs. It was the flash of yellow out of the corner of my eye that distracted me; I whipped my head around and crouched instinctively, expecting some threat to have descended upon our private sanctuary.



Her scent registered with my senses first, identifying the human form whose face was hidden by a large hood.


Freesia.



Bella.



Instantly, I relaxed and stood up straight, grinning apologetically at my love and extending my hand to coax her towards me.



"I didn't hear you coming." My excuse felt terribly inadequate, but as the soft timbre of my voice found her ears, she lifted her head, flashing me a refulgent smile that effortlessly dissolved any remaining anxiety.



"I thought I'd come up for some fresh air," she explained, stepping cautiously across the damp deck and taking my hand. "It got a little lonely down there without you..."



Pulling her towards me, I wrapped my arm around her waist and rested my chin upon the hood. "Of course, love. I should have asked you if you'd care to join me."



"No apologies, remember?"



I chuckled as her hood slipped over her eyes when she tried to gaze up at me. I pushed it back, letting her silky hair tumble out. "Yes, of course." She broke away from my stare to glance at the murky heavens. "No rain - yet. Alice says we have a few more hours before it starts up again."



Bella looked back to me apprehensively. "She called again?"



"No, I called her. Just checking the forecast."



She let out a quiet huff of irritation before turning towards the wheel, studiously watching our progress around the various islands.



"Do we have far to go?"



I moved behind her, taking her hands from her sides and guiding them up to the handles of the wheel. "Not at all - we're approaching San Juan Island, where we'll anchor for the night." I continued to hold her hands, both of us gently guiding the ketch through the waters. Leaning in closer, I bent my head down to the side of Bella's, breathing in her delectable floral scent. "Do you like to sail, love?"



Bella nodded, pushing back against my body and tilting her head towards me. "I like to do anything, as long as it's with you."



A trickle of venom slid down my throat as her words registered in my head. It had been several hours since I had felt her presence, her close proximity forcing me to slightly re-sensitize myself once again to her smell and enthralling heat. But now it was so much more than that - whether we were apart a minute or a millennia, I would always have the same reaction to her touch, voice, and scent. My body impatiently screamed for more of everything, and I had to fight off the urge to scoop her into my arms and ravish her alluring form.



"I missed you." She gently pulled one of her hands from beneath mine, snaking it up around my neck to more effectively pull my head downwards towards her lips. "Did you miss me?"



Languidly, she pressed her mouth against my neck, kissing me softly. I sighed in utter bliss as I felt her trace her tongue up to my jaw line. It would be easy to give in, to drop my face and press it to hers. But one of us had to remain in control at all times...and this, unfortunately, was my time.



I held back a few seconds longer, letting her actions grow a bit more urgent, more passionate. She slid her other hand from beneath my hold on the wheel so she could fully turn towards me and I felt her warm palm slide around my ribs to my back so she could pull herself closer. Pure heaven, I thought, feeling her push up to her tiptoes so she could kiss her way towards my mouth.



Just as I allowed my chin to drop down and permit her scorching lips to find mine, I tilted it right back up again immediately. Fighting to hold in the snicker that fought to erupt at my tactic, I stared straight ahead, biting the inside of my lip to keep myself from smirking evilly.



I could literally feel her eyes boring into me as she found herself kissing nothing but the damp air. A heavy silence saturated the space around us for a split-second before I felt her stamp her foot in protest on the wooden floorboards.



No longer able to hold it in, I peeked down at her and snorted when I saw the incensed look on her face. Bella shot daggers at me as I continued to fight back bouts of inescapable laughter.



"I'm sorry Bella, but you were the one who said ‘someone has to make sure we win this bet.'" Her eyes grew wider at my impeccably accurate impression of her earlier words.



"Oh, really?"



I snickered again as her face grew redder. My fierce kitten looked poised to attack, yet I was unable to do anything but laugh harder at her endearingly gruff posture. Fighting to contain myself, I finally looked away, took in a deep breath, and swallowed down the next bout of chuckles. Then I let my gaze drift back down.



The moment my eyes returned to her, she lunged forward, locking both of her hands behind my neck and pulling herself up to forcibly crush her lips to mine. At first I froze, startled by her spontaneous response. The logical part of my brain instantly directed my hands to grasp her waist, pull her back down, and safely step away.



But the devil inside had a much different plan. The second I felt her tongue press against my mouth, all caution and prudence went out the proverbial window. My body reacted before my mind could object, and I yanked my hands off the wheel to capture her weight and hold it tightly against me as I stepped backwards, eventually collapsing onto the bench at the stern of the boat with Bella firmly in my lap, her lips hungrily attacking mine.



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