The setting sun made the sky brilliant with color. Perhaps the most beautiful color was the pink that settled just beneath the long rutted length of white clouds. It ended there, but it began at the horizon, extending athwart the green grass that appeared softer in its glow. Actually, everything seemed softer in its glow.
The hard bark of the trees surrounding the meadow appeared softer, rounder as the light bended at an obscure angle. The few rocks scattered about appeared to be softer, not as jagged. The moss even managed to look softer, it's yielding texture blanketing over the bulging tree roots.
My gaze, at last, settled on the one thing that I knew could not be softened by a form of light, or anything, for that matter. Edward's arms were evidence enough of this assumption, as I let my eyes wander shamelessly over the evident bulges of muscle restricted beneath his pale skin. The well-built arms I was describing happened to be wrapped around me, the very reason that my own skin suffered from such a severe case of goose bumps. That, and the fact that his equally hard, bare chest was pressed against my cheek.
I smiled to myself as I traced the sharp contours of his chest, remembering the exact conversation that had led to the disposal of his shirt.
"You want me to…what?" He asked politely. Always, politely. But the way he kept his voice reserved allowed me to channel his real thoughts. Is she crazy?
Despite my determination, my cheeks betrayed me by flushing wildly at my actions. I was basically asking him to strip half-way for me. "Please?" I beseeched weakly.
To my complete and utter surprise, his hands reached almost fleetingly for the bottom hem of his shirt.
His shirt was tossed carelessly over his head and my gaze only stayed glued to his smirk for a second before shifting towards his chest. He was too beautiful, I almost winced at the sight. The obvious gap between our physical features was more stifling than ever. The sun was teetering above the horizon, large and brilliantly orange. The effect was breathtaking. Diamonds that appeared to be embedded beneath his skin, threw the orange light around the meadow in a fiery blaze. Who knew somebody so cold could appear so warm?
The sparkling figure that was Edward scooted towards me until his arms could envelope me against his now bare chest.
"Why did you do that?" I whispered.
He chuckled. "I thought that was what you requested. Was it not?"
I shook my head, my cheeks feeling extraordinarily warm in such close proximity to his icy skin. "It was. I was just surprised that you… complied."
He chuckled once again and I could feel the vibrations against my own body. "Don't you know by now that I can deny you nothing?"
I smiled now, at the memory.
On cue - the cue being my smile - Edwards body curved slightly, allowing his lips to reach my ear. "What are you thinking about?" His words - purposely or not - were clearly seductive and made my head spin and my heart propel forward in my chest.
I sheepishly glanced up at his face, positive that he had heard my erratic heartbeat. The first thing I noticed when I looked at him, however, was the way that the pinkish glow fell on his face. It made his normally sharp features, almost… soft. The strong line of his jaw was still firm, but somehow appeared gentler.
My hand reached upwards automatically, my fingers dancing from his temple to his chin. It felt the same, strong and perfectly proportioned. But the way the sunlight flushed over his skin made him look… serene, relaxed, heavenly. I sucked in a deep breath.
"Bella are you okay?"
I couldn't answer his question though, because at the same moment it was asked, a butterfly appeared above us. With sudden interest, I fell onto my back and pointed at the beautiful orange and black creature. "Look, Edward," I whispered. "A butterfly."
The creature hovered just above us, it's wings a blur.
For the life of me, I couldn't remember ever seeing a butterfly in Forks. I knew that they existed, obviously, but I guess I never really looked.
I tilted my head to the side as I reached upward with one hesitant finger. I flinched slightly, surprised when the creature landed, almost immediately on my pale skin.
I brought my finger back towards myself, propping myself up on one elbow as I examined the small being. Its long slender body was ebony in color as was both of its legs - that were unbelievably thin - and its diminutive glossy eyes. Reaching upward from it's center were two paper thin wings that were almost translucent. The lucid colors were vivid shades of black and orange.
"Monarch," Edward's voice was close to my ear and had to suppress a jolt of surprise. I didn't want to scare the butterfly off.
"The butterfly, it's a Monarch butterfly."
"Oh." I tried to remember the few things I knew about butterflies, I supposed he knew by it's colors.
"Did they have special classes on butterflies back in the nineteen-hundreds?" I teased, tilting my finger to see the butterfly at a different angle.
"Not exactly," he laughed, "but my Mother taught me enough about them that if there were a class, I'm sure I would be at the top of it."
I rolled my eyes. "You could know nothing about the subject and be at the top of the class."
He rolled his eyes too.
The pinkish glow was quickly fading and all that was left of the setting sun was a small slit of light that cast pewter shadows through the trees.
I promised Alice we'd be home soon.
"Do you want to hold it?" I asked extending my finger towards Edward. I had been smiling but my smile quickly faltered as I took in his expression. The pain only slightly apparent in his golden eyes caught me off guard. "What's wrong?"
He smiled, but the smile was half-hearted. "I can't hold a butterfly, Bella." He propped himself up onto his own elbow, bending forward to kiss my temple. "Too fragile." He then bent down to place a soft kiss on my lips, and against them he murmured, "Almost as fragile as you."
"Oh," I frowned, struggling for words. Of course he would be concerned about the effect of his strength, the strength he had to restrain ten fold when he touched me in any way. He was probably making himself sick, imagining my reaction when the butterfly turned to dust beneath his simple touch. "But you touch me," I reminded him hopelessly.
He chuckled as the pain simmered away in his eyes. "That, I do," his lips pressed against the pulse in my neck and I shuddered. I quickly glanced at my finger to make sure the movement hadn't disturbed the butterfly. It hadn't.
"Nothing will happen if you just let it sit on your finger like this though," I nodded towards my finger that was pointed outward as the rest curled in towards my palm.
Edward sighed forlornly. "I can't, Bella."
I guess I had never noticed what that simple word did to him. His eyes narrowed at me, angry, pleading, and beautiful all at the same time.
"Please?" I tried again, a little more hopeful this time. "I promise, nothing will happen. I'll just let it crawl onto your finger. You won't even have to touch it… it'll just touch you. Please?"
His narrowed eyes closed and his brow puckered as if he were in physical pain. "Bella, you have no idea… the effect you have on me… I can't say no to you."
"Good," I smiled, sitting up and using my free hand to reach for his finger. He gave it to me reluctantly and opened his eyes, narrowing them again, but this time it was in concentration.
"If I hurt it, Bella…"
"You won't," I promised, pressing the tip of my finger against the tip of his. The butterfly seemed to be completely collective with our desires because it slowly, yet deliberately, crawled from my finger to Edward's and rested motionless on his middle joint.
We were both quiet for a few moments, watching it. I was pretty sure Edward was holding his breath.
"See!" I exclaimed after a moment. "It's absolutely fine."
Unfortunately, my outburst happened to startle the small creature and it's wings began to beat wildly as it took off from Edward's finger and towards the now dark curtain of trees.
I stared after it in deflation and sighed.
I could feel Edward's arms snake around my waist and pull me towards him. I was pleased to find that his chest was still bare.
"Thank you," he whispered softly in my ear.
"That was the second most beautiful thing I have ever held."
I laughed lightly, dizzily. "And the first?"
He chuckled as he helped me to my feet. "Alice is waiting for you."
"Aren't you going to tell me about the most beautiful thing you have ever held?" He was still chuckling so I quirked up an eyebrow. "Please?"
He rolled his eyes as if he had been expecting that. He probably had. He took a large step closer until our chests were touching, his bare. My eyes widened at the contact.
His head tilted slowly, painfully slow, until his lips were mere centimeters from my own. The urges raging inside of me begged me to close the distance.
And then, his sweet breath fanned over my lips as he spoke. "As if I could deny you, my Bella."
Then he closed the distance for me.