|Put a Ring On It
Author: WhatsMyNomDePlume PM
Edward keeps asking and Bella keeps saying the same thing. But he loves asking and well... she's starting to kind of like it, too. AH, B/E O/s for the Will You Marry Me contest.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance - Bella & Edward - Words: 6,076 - Reviews: 479 - Favs: 1,103 - Follows: 187 - Updated: 04-29-10 - Published: 02-03-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5715097
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
quothme beta'd and improved this beyond description and in record time. I think she is made of pure awesome, but she likes to be all modest about it. Silly rabbit.
This placed third in public voting and was two of the three judges' choice in the Will You Marry Me One-shot Contest.
Put a Ring On It
The ring is a square cut diamond, tethered by four platinum prongs that sweep into a smooth band. The stone is brilliant, taking the little light in the room and casting silver shadows across the walls. The robin's egg blue box it is nestled in gives away its maker, and in the dark, the color almost matches the bright, earnest green eyes of my hopeful boyfriend. It is a beautiful ring, held by a breathtaking man in a moment that seems to be written out of a movie. I draw my eyes from the ring and look at him as he says, "Will you marry me?"
Those four words form a question whose answer forms a lifetime and I gaze into his eyes. I will never tire of looking into these eyes, sometimes sour apple green when they dance with mischief, other times like a glass soda bottle when they are serious and somber, sometimes lush and deep like the foliage of my hometown of Forks when he is intense and his emotions are inescapable. These are the eyes that I know so well, that I look to as a reminder of how wonderful life is, eyes that know me so well.
We both know my answer.
"No, Edward." I try and color my tone with as much annoyance as possible, accented by an eye roll that is interrupted when the offending item shines in my eye. Edward's sigh is more like a huff and he gets up off one knee and makes a big show of dusting his pant leg off.
"Your answer is still 'no'? I got down on one knee and everything. These are my favorite pants, Bell, and I kneeled in them. On the floor," he grumbles as he snaps the ring box shut and places it on the kitchen counter.
"Seriously? You can stop dusting off your knee. I mopped yesterday, your pants will survive, Ralph." I soften my tone to teasing because I want to see his smile—I have, after all, just rejected him.
"I hate when you call me that," he mutters. Uh oh. He's not happy and my calling him 'Ralph' after the man whose clothes he wears so often isn't helping. He goes into the kitchen and grabs a bottle of Red Stripe from the fridge. He grabs a cold bottle of Prosecco as well, opens it easily and deftly. I can't say that his sure, confident movements in uncorking it do not slightly uncork me as well. He pours a glass and somehow traps the beer, the wine bottle and the flute in his hands and brings them to the living room, setting them down and flopping on the couch.
I feel bad, but not for saying no. I feel bad because he has clearly had a bad day, so bad that he hasn't even bothered to take his suit jacket off before proposing. I walk up behind him on the couch and kiss his temple before sliding my hands along his shoulders and taking off his brown, tweedy Brooks Brothers jacket. Edward is wearing his favorite shirt underneath, light blue with faint pink pinstripes from Thomas Pink, so I know he must have had a really bad day to still be this glum in that shirt. I carefully fold the jacket, lay it on the back of one of the chairs, fighting every urge of mine to just toss it on the ground, and round the couch, sitting next to him as he loosens his navy-colored tie. Edward looks just as good undone as he does done, which is really saying something.
I kiss his cheek and snuggle into him. He pulls away and momentarily, I think something is really wrong but then he returns back to his spot, handing me the beer and sipping his wine, slipping his arm around me. His fingers brush lazily around my shoulders and I reach up to link mine with his.
"Tough day?" I ask. He squeezes my hands lightly.
"Yeah. Work was a bitch. And my girlfriend—" he begins.
"Is also a bitch?" I supply. He laughs and reprimands me lightly for saying that. He places a gentle kiss on my lips and then lets out a deep sigh.
"My girlfriend turned down my proposal. And I went and got a new ring and got down on one knee and everything," he says, exaggerating the lamentation in his voice.
"Alright, take it easy," I say, nuzzling into his neck before pulling away to take a deep sip of my beer. "First of all, I didn't tell you to get down on one knee. Second, you get a new ring nearly every week. Tanya is basically your own personal shopper at Tiffany's—she'll give you rings and take them back as many times as you keep going back to the store. And lastly, your girlfriend turns down your proposal weekly."
"I'm aware. Can you blame me for being so sad?" He polishes off his glass and pours himself another before turning to me and extending his bottom lip in an over-the-top pout. It's too damn cute to be irritating, which is irritating in itself.
"Yes!" I exclaim. "You're the one who keeps asking me to marry you." I grab the laptop from the table and switch it on. Within a few minutes, I've pulled up the Tiffany's website. "Okay, so which one was it this time?" He directs me to the Lucida ring page and I whistle as I take a look at the price.
"Tanya thinks there's something wrong with me," he says, still grumbling. But his grumble is good-natured and his voice is so mellifluous that even his gripes are nice to hear. I laugh and pull him down for a sweet kiss. His soft lips taste sweet and tingly, the remnants of his drink. I pull his glass from his hand, take a sip and wrinkle my nose when the strange, bubbly taste hits my tongue.
"I think there's something wrong with you," I reply and he laughs with me now as he takes his glass back.
And I do think there's something wrong with my boyfriend. So many things, like how his entire wardrobe looks like the love child of J. Crew and Ralph Lauren after it's been vomited on by both of the Brooks Brothers. Or how my unwinding-after-a-long-and-shitty-day drink is Jamaican beer and his is Italian sparkling wine. Or how he won't stop proposing to me, despite me turning him down a countless number of times.
But for all those things that I may think are wrong with him, there is so much that is absolutely, utterly right. On the outside, he's a doppelganger for a Ralph Lauren model but on the inside, he's a big softy who sleeps exclusively in ratty boxers and Beatles concert tees. He drinks wine but always stocks Red Stripe and Coronas for me in his fridge, even though he hates beer. He proposes every time, knowing he will be turned down, with a new ring and a bright smile on his face—like the act of proposing to me is enough for him. And as much as I make fun of his wardrobe, there is something so good about the downright bad things I want to do to him when he pops the collar on his polos. His appearance is a product of his blue-blood, silver spoon upbringing, but his gentle, kind heart is all his own. And all mine.
In theory he is all wrong for me, but in practice, there is nothing more right.
I was standing at the jukebox of the strangest bar I had ever been to, having been dragged there by my corporate world conqueror friend, Rosalie. Its décor was a mix of modern and vintage, somewhat matching its incongruent clientele, an odd combination of business people in suits and more casually dressed patrons. It made sense since the bar straddled the business district and the local college campus (whose coffee shops I often frequented) but it was a peculiar sight no less. In the middle of the bar sat the reason I always agreed to come here—a vintage-style jukebox, loaded with songs from decades gone by.
I was choosing between The Beatles and Rolling Stones when I felt the presence of a warm body behind me.
"The Fab Four, no contest." I remember thinking that his voice sounded like the low scale of a piano, smooth and soothing.
"Beatles fan, huh?" I asked, turning around to face him. He was perfection in a dark grey suit, with a messy mop of hair and glassy green eyes, framed by thickets of dark lashes.
"Can't go wrong with them," he said. His suit implied that he belonged with the other type of patrons when compared to hoodie and jeans I was wearing. But his words weren't condescending, he looked at my face when he spoke and his smile reached those stunning green eyes. I turned away from him to make my choice.
I didn't think it was possible but his smile grew even more when the first few notes of the song diffused through the bar. "Take a sad song and make it better, huh?"
He was indescribably beautiful. He was smiling. He was Edward.
The first time Edward proposed to me, we had been dating for three weeks. When I say dating, I mean spending every moment that we weren't working with each other. I was standing in the middle of J. Crew, wondering what type of man would actually wear pants with ducks on them, blissfully unaware that Edward was trying on that very style. When he emerged in the duck pants, I guffawed so loudly that a passing sales clerk stopped and stared at me.
"No, Edward," I said, between chortles.
"What?" he asked. He looked down at his pale blue button down and khakis with navy ducks on them.
"First of all, you already own a shirt almost exactly like that. And secondly, I refuse to date a man with critters on his clothing," I shot back. He pouted for a minute, looking like an overgrown boy, especially in his outfit of choice, before turning into the dressing room.
"Fine," he conceded. "But can you at least tell me which of these ties you like better?" He tossed two ties over the door and I examined them while he changed.
When he stepped out of the dressing room in his own clothes, a salmon polo with the collar popped and navy chinos, he might as well have been a mannequin. In all honesty, sometimes he bordered on looking too put together; luckily, he was saved by his decidedly un-together hair. Somewhere between red and brown, his hair was always mussed, looking like he may have electrocuted himself slightly while having the best sex of his life. Utterly unkempt and unnaturally enticing, it reflected so much of the unbuttoned, relaxed Edward I adored.
He walked towards me and slipped his arm around my waist, drawing me into his warmth. "Well? What do you think about the ties?" His hair, and its color, style and ability to defy gravity, was dangerously distracting.
"I don't know. The navy one has these bright green pinstripes that will look really nice if you wear a dark suit and light shirt, but the red on this other one is just so vibrant, it'll dress up anything you wear. Of course, you can wear the navy on anything, while you can only wear the red on blue, black or khaki… so I'm going to have to say, get both." I may not have particularly cared so much about my own clothing, but I knew that Edward did and I liked him enough to care.
His look was flabbergasted—he really hadn't expected me to actually have so much knowledge on the subject.
"Marry me, Bella." The words slipped out of his mouth as a joke but froze in between us. "Uhhh, I mean…"
I laughed it off weakly. "It's okay, Edward. I know you were just expressing your overwhelming appreciation for my Norman Blackwell-level opinions on your wardrobe." My small laugh turned strong as I watched him flounder for words.
"No, Bella, it's not that…"
"Edward. It's. O. Kay."
"Bella, I'd totally marry you. Right now," he insisted. I laughed harder and the salesperson gave me another Look.
"You're just saying that because you've finally found a woman who gives you good shopping advice," I retorted. The awkward mood was effectively lightened, but throughout our entire day, Edward insisted that he would stand by what he said.
"Come on, Bella. Just marry me."
"Edward, seriously. Stop it. You didn't mean to propose!"
"Yes, I did! I'm waiting for your answer. Hurry up, Bella, I'm on tenterhooks here," he replied. He had a big, goofy grin on his face, and it made him look so happy that I was tempted to believe he was being serious.
"Stop, Ralph," I said, knowing the nickname would annoy him. He frowned and dropped the subject.
Or so I had thought.
The next day, I was sitting at a bar with our friends, Alice and Jasper, when Edward strolled in, a small carrier bag in his hand. Alice, wise to the world, immediately started squealing.
"Oh my god, Edward! What did you get?" Her tiny little voice was as excited as she was, bouncing slightly in her seat.
"Oh, just something that Bella and I talked about yesterday," Edward said. His tone was smooth and slick but I was too busy getting him a Black-and-Coke, his standard bar drink, to notice. The next few words, however, caught my attention.
"What did you and Bella talk about that comes from Tiffany's?" Jasper's low drawl beat Alice to her next question and I looked away from signaling the waitress.
"Yeah, Edward, what did we talk about that… oh no. No. Edward. No, no. No, we talked about this, no," I said, knowing exactly what that cocky, knowing smile on his face was.
"So many 'no's!" he said, pulling a small blue box out of the matching bag. Alice gasped and Jasper took an audible gulp of his drink.
"I will say 'no' more times if it will get through your stubborn head," I hissed.
"Oh no, Bella. I asked you a question yesterday and I want an answer," he said. With a confident nod, he popped open the box to reveal a beautiful round, brilliant cut diamond ring.
"Oh my god! That's the Jean Schlumberg bud ring with pavé inlay!" Alice exclaimed. All three of us took a moment to stare at her, but her eyes were locked on the ring, unaware of our bewilderment as to how she knew exactly what ring Edward had gotten. "Bella, are you marrying Edward? That's so romantic! Especially since you guys have only been dating—"
"Alice, no," I interrupted her. "Edward's being a jackass. He made a joke about marrying me yesterday and I called him out on it. He kept on insisting that he meant it even though I told him I didn't care and then kept on asking me, even though I said no, and now he's just irritating me."
"First, the whole point of asking you is to show you that I wasn't joking. Hence the fact that I went out and bought a ring! I'd marry you, Bella. I wasn't just making a passing joke," Edward insisted.
"Edward, we haven't even been dating a month. I don't even know when your birthday is!" I exclaimed. I was beginning to get frustrated. Part of me was amused by this whole charade, but part of me wanted him to stop joking about it. Even three weeks in, I was feeling like I wanted everything with him—and I didn't want him to treat marriage as a joke. When it came up, in proper time, I wanted it to be serious. I wanted it to be real.
"My birthday is June 13th. Bella, will you marry me?" Edward asked. He had a wide smile on his face, and Alice and Jasper were looking between the two of us like there had actually been a real question posed.
"No, Edward," I said and walked out of the bar. I walked all the way home, with Edward a few meters behind me. As soon as we entered my apartment, I rounded on him. "What the hell, Edward? Can you stop joking about marrying me?"
"I would, but I never started. Marry me, Bella," he said. His face was honest and earnest but I couldn't stand it.
"Stop saying that!" I yelled. Edward's eyebrows lifted, but he simply shook his head. As he would prove so many times in our relationship, he was far better at keeping his temper than I was.
"Not until you take me seriously," he replied calmly.
"Fine. I am taking you seriously. And in all seriousness, my answer is no," I said, trying to control my anger.
"Okay," he said. A look of disappointment flashed over his face almost too quickly for me to discern it.
"So you'll stop asking me?" I asked, relieved.
"Nope," he announced, a small smile blooming on his face. "I'm going to keep asking you until you say yes. If you want to stay with me, you're just going to have to grin and bear it. Or say yes. That's always an option." His smile, now bright and beatific, lit up his entire face. Like so much about him, it was completely irresistible.
"Just go with it, Bella. Treat it like yet another thing you're going to have to put up with. I didn't get the duck critter pants. Instead, I'm just going to ask you to marry me from time to time." He pulled me into his arms and kissed me gently. My anger melted away as I melted into his arms. This did not bode well for the future, my inability to stay angry at him. I kissed him again, wondering how much crazy was hidden under that popped collar.
"I think I would rather you wore the duck pants."
A few weeks later, we were lounging on his couch after he had come back from work, alternating between breathless kissing and the affectionate nuzzling that Edward was so fond of. In all honesty, my patience with the nuzzling had been wearing thin. I was a hot-blooded young woman, after all, and I had never met a man who could look so good in seersucker shorts and a pale green button-up with a jockey emblazoned on it. Inexplicably, Edward's overly Oxfordian wardrobe, so gentle and almost effeminate in its pastels and khakis, made him even sexier to me. When he wore argyle sweaters, I had to make a concentrated effort not to stare at the criss-crossing diamonds that hid his flat, hard stomach underneath. When he wore a light yellow pinstriped button down on navy shorts, I hadn't been able to stop staring at the way the yellow set off his golden skin and lightened his eyes to a sea-foam green. Not to mention that the top few buttons of the shirt had been left undone, giving me a glimpse of his collarbones and clavicle. And when he wore boat shoes, I had no excuse. I think that Sperry's genuinely, perplexingly turned me on. The first time we had sex, coincidentally the first time he had worn Sperry's, I had been tempted to ask him to leave the shoes on.
That night, he wasn't wearing boat shoes but charcoal dress pants and a pink button down, what passed for causal Friday at finance firm he worked for. And for a girl whose wardrobe mostly consisted of jeans, grey and black, I couldn't fathom the effect that his pink shirt had on me. It wound me up in all the right ways and made me think thoughts so dirty that my blush matched his shirt. I was lying on top of him on his couch, running my hands all over the soft cotton, undoing a button before slipping my hands down his ridged chest and abs. Then I skimmed my hands up again and around his shoulders before sliding them down once more to undo another button, all the while never stopping from the pas de deux our tongues were fiercely conducting. I pulled away from his mouth, kissing a line upon his etched jaw before placing my mouth right at the corner where it melted into his earlobe. I flicked my tongue over the perfect square bone and was pleased to hear a cross between a moan and a groan come out of Edward.
"Bella," he said breathlessly. He pushed me back slightly so he could look at me. His mouth quirked into what I would later learn was his playful smirk, and he spoke the words that I had lately become so familiar with. "Will you marry me?"
I would say that he had ruined the mood but he was still wearing that damn pink shirt.
I punched his shoulder, lightly enough not to hurt him but with enough strength to let him know that his words and his teasing laugh were nothing more than an annoyance to me.
"Stop asking," I said, leaning down and sliding my mouth over his. I glided my tongue to gently touch his, but the sheer pleasure that coursed through me made me put an unnatural amount of force. He pulled away and kissed down my neck.
"Stop trying to shut me up," he said, lips muffled by my skin.
"Stop asking me, and I'll stop trying to shut you up." My words were airy and light, interrupted by the gasps I couldn't help making.
"Say yes and I'll stop asking," he said, his last words almost unintelligible as the tip of his tongue swept over my collarbone.
"There's no way I'm gong to say yes." I tried to insert as much force as I could into my words, but my effort may have been rendered moot when I pulled his face to mine for another scorching kiss and pushed his shirt off his shoulders.
He flipped us over so he was on top and pulled his shirt off the rest of the way. I admit that I was the tiniest bit disappointed to see the pink shirt go, but the sight of six squares of carved muscle leading into the v that dipped into grey wool pants had me swooning. He grinned down at me, his smile wicked, lustful, affectionate and teasing all at the same time. Edward slowly lowered his bare body to cover mine, settling in between my legs so that our hips aligned in just that right way. Lightly, he pushed up a bit and kissed me, sucking on my bottom lip before pulling back.
He leaned down so his mouth was at my ear and whispered wickedly, "I bet there's a way I could make you say yes." Within the next few moments, with almost no assistance from my limp, aching body, Edward had rid us both of our clothes, the only garment between us my lace underwear. We were kissing with an unusual languidness, almost the opposite of the frantic push and pull our hips were grinding out against each other. Edward shifted slightly, lining himself up exactly where I needed him, pulling his mouth away from mine and moving his hips in a series of quick thrusts that made me cry out.
"Edward," I said, my words starting as a low moan and ending as a high squeak as he flexed his hips into me. His hand left my breast to lightly dance down my rib cage before slipping into my panties. He slid two fingers into me and placed his thumb on the point I wanted him to, and my moan blended into my name falling from his lips. He moved his fingers in delicious circles for a few minutes before pulling away and sliding my underwear off and replacing his fingers with what I really wanted. He thrust up, finally in me, creating the most wonderful spark.
"Bella," he said through clenched teeth. "Tell me, Bella. Is this what you want?" His words held none of the grit in his corded muscles, none of the force of the wondrous movement of his hips, but they demanded an answer nonetheless. He continued his movements relentlessly until the fire in me blazed so hot that I couldn't help but cry out.
"Yes! God, Edward, yes!"
Suffice to say, I said yes. A lot. Just not to the question he wanted.
Emmett had more energy than a three-year-old on sugar. His huge body bounded all over the apartment, barking with delight and panting everywhere. He ate about once every hour and couldn't be contained in the least. I had no idea how it happened but Edward had agreed to dog-sit Emmett, his parent's golden retriever, that weekend. Of course, I was the one doing it while he ran to work for an hour. And there was no "sitting" with this dog.
In a moment of distraction, Emmett bounded on to my lap and licked my face, nudging me until I broke out into laughter. I petted him, marveling at how soft his shaggy, golden fur was when I felt a hard lump. My mind immediately jumped to the worst conclusion—a lump was never a good sign. I parted Emmett's fur while trying to avoid his slobber when I saw it. And I groaned out loud. A little blue box was attached to Emmett's collar. Inside the box, there was a small note:
If I don't say it out loud, will you say yes?
Edward came home, while I was out taking Emmett for a walk, to a big sign on his front door that said, "No."
It was just a random morning that I was lazing in Edward's bed, slipping in and out of sleep as he got ready for work. That was the thing I loved most about my job as a website designer—I got to work from home and I made my own hours. Every few minutes, he would interrupt his elaborate morning ritual—laying out a suit, then two potential shirts and two ties for each shirt—to lean over the bed and kiss me on my cheek, on my neck, on my hand, anywhere really. It was pure bliss.
"Bella?" His voice sounded far away and dreamlike, but his lips, tracing a slow path along my cheekbone, felt sublimely solid.
"Edward," I said mindlessly.
"Open your eyes, Bell." I did as he asked and was presented with a wonderful sight. Edward, ready to face the cold in a navy peacoat over his deep blue pinstriped suit and bright red tie, was placing gentle kisses all over my face. His green eyes were twinkling, reminding my sleep-addled brain of Christmas lights.
"Will you marry me, Bell?"
I groaned and pushed him away.
"Have a good day, Edward," I said, dismissing him before pulling the pillow over my head.
The next time I opened my eyes and stretched, the bed and room were empty. His delicious cologne and that freshly bathed, boy smell had all but dissipated, so I rolled over to bury my head in his pillow and take a whiff of him to brighten my day. Instead, my face hit a piece of paper and I picked it up to look at it. In his scrawling, hurried cursive (not his painfully neat, work handwriting), it read,
Hey Jude, don't let me down.
You have found her, now go and get her.
Remember to let her into your heart,
Then you can start to make it better.
It was the song I had chosen when we had first met at the jukebox. The smile that stretched across my face rivaled the sun streaming through the gap in the drapes. But it was nothing compared to the absolutely wrenching and exhilarating way my stomach flipped, which in turn was eclipsed by the rapid beat of my heart. Something was shifting, in my whole being, like I was looking at the world the new eyes. That was the moment I realized I was in love with Edward. I may not have been ready to accept his goofy proposals, I may not have even been ready to tell him yet, but I knew. I was undoubtedly, hopelessly, wonderfully in love with him.
I pulled out my phone, ready to text him my response when I spied a Sharpie on the bedside table and was struck with an idea. I scrawled my message back to him on the pillowcase I had just risen from before spying the small tag: Frette. Shit, I thought. These linens probably cost a fortune. Too happy in the moment, I shrugged the thought off and decided that I would pay Edward back if he was upset. But, somehow, I knew Edward wouldn't mind.
I was surprised when I came back to his house that night and he had changed the sheets. He made no mention of my note and, in my paranoid insecurity, I didn't mention it either. We simply carried on like two people who had discovered amazing sex with each other, undoing each other's clothes in the kitchen while attempting to make dinner and going at it against the coat closet in the hall before relocating to his bed for round three. The only time we left the bed that night was to use the bathroom—and of course, when Edward ran into the kitchen to pick up his strewn suit from the floor and neatly fold it.
It was a few weeks later when I walked into his bedroom to see that he had changed the décor slightly. There was a new, large frame hanging above his desk. It held a white, Fritte pillowcase in it, covered in black ink with words in my handwriting that read,
Hey Jude, don't be afraid.
You were made to go out and get her.
The minute you let her under your skin,
Then you begin to make it better.
"I got it framed the very next day," he admitted bashfully, slipping his arms around me as I stared up at the frame in astonishment. "But I didn't want to put it up so soon and risk freaking you out. So I waited. And… well, I just… I love you, Bella. You make everything better." The sincerity in his voice held the tiniest hint of shyness, but no uncertainty. His green eyes and miles of lashes were already on me when I turned to him.
"I love you, too, Edward," I said, not knowing how I could say anymore that would mean anymore. But he wasn't done.
"Bella?" he said, my name gentle and tentative on his lips, betraying the teasing, cocky tone of his next words. I was so rapturous in that moment that I actually hadn't seen it coming. "Will you marry me?"
I had fallen in love with a crazy man.
"Hey baby," Edward's voice, smooth and soft, greeted me. Even the phone didn't diminish the velvet in his voice.
"Hey, you. What do you want to do for dinner tonight? I thought I'd make pad thai," I told him.
"Pad thai sounds perfect," he replied. "Bella?"
"Hmm?" I was mildly distracted trying to fix the banner on the homepage of the latest site I had been contracted to design.
"Will you marry me?"
I hung up.
It is no particularly special day, and Edward and I are cuddled up in bed. I sit between his legs, my back against his chest as I drag my fingers slowly up and down his forearms. This is the most blissful moment I can remember even when compared to the nirvana that my life has been since I've been with Edward. We are talking casually and mindlessly watching television. I'm making my way through a box of truffles that Edward brought home for me, and he's playing with the thin silver ribbon that I'd ripped from the box. Suddenly, he switches off the television and takes a deep breath. I realize that he's about to say something important.
"Here's the thing, Bella. To you, it was always a joke, a jest," he says. His voice is gentle and earnest. "Me buying a ring and proposing, then returning it the next day because you'd say no. Me proposing at any and all possible times. But it was never a joke. I wasn't hurt because I know that you love me, but any of those times, if you had said yes, I would have married you. I wouldn't even need to be engaged. I would just marry you right away. Right from the beginning, in that stupid J. Crew dressing room, three weeks into this. Even thirty years from now, when hopefully, you've finally said yes and we've got little devil children who have even crazier grandbabies wreaking havoc everywhere, I'll still want to marry you after having been married to you for decades."
"Edward," I say, laughing. But my laugh is weak from breathlessness, from this feeling that is rushing through my whole body, emanating from everywhere Edward is touching me out to the tips of my pinky toes. "That doesn't even make sense."
"Yes, it does, Bella. Because every time I ask you to marry me, every time there is the possibility that the answer is yes—that's the most hopeful moment of my life," he says. His voice is so soothing and calm, so gentle and soft, but its low murmurs have tears dripping down my face. How he can still love me so much, be so happy with me after I've turned him down a million times is impossible to believe, and I've made the decision to spend the rest of my life giving him that hope over and over again.
I'm ready to say yes.
He knows it too, but I fret in my mind because I know that in the moment that I've decided to say yes to him, he doesn't have a ring. But, like nothing else before it, that doesn't stop Edward.
"Bella," he whispers, as if he is scared to say the words loudly, lest their importance be lost when shared with the rest of the world. "Will you marry me?" As he says the words, he gently ties the silver ribbon around my fourth finger on my left hand.
All the breath whooshes out of me as I lean over and kiss him. I can taste forever in his kiss, see our life and our little hellion children, feel the hope of an entire lifetime.
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