Author: Magnolia822 PM
Soon-to-be college senior Bella Swan needs a summer job. Edward Cullen needs a worker for his new tasting room at Cullen Creek Brewery. She doesn't know much about beer, but she knows how to push his buttons. Romance/Humor, ExBRated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Humor - Edward & Bella - Chapters: 24 - Words: 108,831 - Reviews: 5,291 - Favs: 4,823 - Follows: 2,813 - Updated: 01-10-12 - Published: 12-07-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6536802
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Story: Strange Brew
Author: Magnolia 822
This outtake takes place a year after the last body chapter of Strange Brew, and about two months before the newspaper epilogue. It was originally written for the Fandom for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society compilation.
With all of the boxes littering the floor of Bella's bedroom, it's nearly impassable. I try to stay out of her way, lounging on the bed as she sorts through the contents of her closet, piling clothes into a mound to give away.
"What about this one?" she asks, holding up a green something—I can't tell if it's a shirt or a dress. It's awfully short.
I shrug, and she rolls her eyes. "Why do I bother asking you these things?"
"I have no idea."
"I haven't worn this in years." She frowns down at the green thing in her hands, a strand of hair coming loose from her bun.
She discards the garment into the Goodwill pile and moves on to the next.
Even though there's really nothing for me to do, I enjoy just watching her. In a little over a week, Bella will be moving to Ithaca for veterinary school, and I'll be splitting my time between there and Burlington. Everything's been decided for months now, and with the plans for the new pub near Cornell coming along, I shouldn't feel as melancholy as I do. Not that I'd ever let Bella know that—this is her future, her career, and there's no way I want to mess it up by being an emo asshole. I'll see her all the time, I remind myself. It's only a five-hour drive.
Five hours, though, when you're used to having someone live five minutes away—that's tough.
A few months ago I finally sold the old house on the lake and got an apartment in town, close to the pub. And to Bella. For the first time in almost ten years I feel perfectly content—except for this move.
Bella sighs and tosses something else onto the pile, then picks her way through the boxes toward the bed, her shoulders slouched with exhaustion. She rests her head on my chest and yawns.
"Packing blows," she murmurs. I wrap my arms around her and stroke her back.
"I know. You should take a break. Wanna get dinner?"
She lifts her head and smiles. "That sounds good."
"I told Em we might stop by. We can order Chinese or something."
"Good idea," she murmurs. "There's no way I feel like cooking in this heat."
I lean forward to capture her lips in a kiss before we stand. She tastes like cinnamon gum. The stuff is horrible, but on her lips it's awesome. I kiss her again, more deeply this time, and she laughs, swatting me on the arm before pulling away.
"Later, cowboy. I'm starving." I will down the slight stirring in my pants and nod. Food first, sex later.
After giving Emmett a quick call, we say goodbye to Bella's roommates and head outside into the muggy late summer air.
We've already signed a lease on a two bedroom in Ithaca. I won't be there half the time, so it seemed stupid to get separate apartments. And of course, one of the reasons I went ahead with the expansion venture was to be close to Bella. When she got into the best vet school in the country, both of us knew there was no choice—she had to accept it. But ending our relationship wasn't an option either. I love her too fucking much to ever let her go.
Revving up my truck and backing down the drive, Bella fiddles with her iPod, turning it to a song we both like. I smile as she braces her feet in the dashboard, singing along softly as the wind from the opened window whips her hair.
There's something else I've had on my mind ever since a conversation I had with Emmett.
I want to ask Bella to marry me.
True, my first marriage only ended a little over a year ago—and fucking badly. But I'm not jaded enough to think every relationship is destined for failure. Not anymore. Maybe I'm co-dependent like Emmett, my brother-cum-therapist, says. But I don't care. I want to spend the rest of my life making the girl next to me happy because that's how she makes me. It's that simple.
I'm just fucking scared out of my mind she'll say no. On top of that, I don't want her to think I'm doing it out of fear of her moving, which is why I'm going to wait until she's settled.
I groan and grip the steering wheel; Bella's frown reveals her concern.
"Are you okay?" She reaches out to rub my leg.
"Yeah, fine. Just thinking about the rezoning hassle," I lie, forcing a smile. She squeezes me again just as we pull up to Emmett's.
"Okay. But you've been a little weird these past couple of days."
That much is true. I nod.
"I don't like to think about it, either," she says softly.
"It won't—" I'm just about to spew some bullshit about our separation not being forever, that we're making it work, when Bella cuts me off by nearly climbing into my lap. Her lips are on my neck, then next to my ear.
"I love you. Nothing will change that. Ever."
I echo the sentiment, my voice gruff. Bella smiles against my lips and kisses me, and I let her guide, probing her tongue into my mouth. We're like that for a few minutes at least, kissing like teenagers at a drive in until the sound of a throat clearing sends Bella reeling back to her side of the truck.
Emmett stands at the window with a huge grin on his face.
"You kids are about to get arrested for public indecency." He holds up a paper bag. "Wanna eat, or are you staying out here all night?"
"Eat now," Bella says.
"Sex later," I whisper, so only she can hear.
A month or so later, Bella's settled in the Ithaca place and is two weeks into vet school. I drive up for a long weekend to check on the construction of the pub and for another, more important reason. It's my girl's birthday, and, with a little help from Alice, I have a surprise planned.
The new apartment is spacious and filled with furniture I'd insisted on buying. Ever since the fiasco with Victoria, Bella's been wary about money. She worries I'll think that's what she's after. I finally convinced her a king-sized bed would be infinitely better than sleeping on the ratty futon she intended to bring from her old house—and managed to get her to pick out a new sofa and TV while we were at it. We agreed I wouldn't go crazy spoiling her, and she wouldn't refuse necessities—though she assured me with all the work she'd been doing, TV watching wouldn't be a high priority.
It's the first time I've seen her since I helped her move in—the longest we've been separated since she first started working at Cullen Creek almost a year and a half ago. And I've hated it. I've missed her every waking moment.
When I open the door, I'm almost bowled over by an armful of Bella.
I grunt, laughing as she wraps her legs around my waist and peppers my face with kisses.
"You're here," she says finally, pulling back. We stare at each other, grinning like idiots.
"I'm here. I missed you."
"I fucking missed you, Edward Cullen."
Bella hops down and pulls me the rest of the way inside, shutting the door behind us. We're all mouths and arms and hands, touching and tasting what we've missed for a month. She doesn't waste any time, palming my dick through my jeans once before unbuttoning them. And hell, if she's raring to go, so am I.
Her hand reaches into my jeans, and I sigh when her hand starts to rub. My cock is very interested in the proceedings since the only action he's gotten recently has been with my right hand. And compared to this, my hand is a poor, poor substitute.
"Shit, Bella," I pant, dropping kisses against the side of her face, and then it's my turn to fumble with pants and buttons until I can feel her, see her soft tits and firm ass.
"Do you want to go to the bed?" I ask, bending to suck a nipple into my mouth.
"No. Fuck me here."
She turns and presents herself to me, bracing her arms against the wall; I slip a finger inside her pussy and damn, she's ready.
"Edward." She makes an impatient noise and wriggles her ass, and I don't waste any more time. I thrust inside with a grunt, feeling her draw me in, welcoming me home. The pace I set is fast because apparently that's how Bella wants it tonight. Later there'll be time for making love, but we're both desperate and needy and this certainly won't take long.
I hold her firmly, unable to tear my eyes away from the sight below as my cock slips in and out of her pussy. Bella starts to work her clit, and I push her hand away, wanting to do it myself even if my rhythm falters. I drive into her fully and hold her tight, rubbing until her moans get louder. By now I know all her tells. She leans her head back, eyes wide and mouth open, and I kiss her as she starts to come against my hand.
The frenzy of it all is enough to make me come too; with just one more snap of my hips, my cock starts to pulse and my world explodes. I'm pretty sure I blather something idiotic and pornographic, which shames me because I should be telling her how precious she is to me, but she smiles. She already knows.
Alice assured me the simple, half-carat diamond I have in my pocket would be perfect for Bella, but I'm starting to have my doubts. We're washing up after dinner, and I palm it again, worried that it's too small. I certainly could have afforded a much fancier ring, but Alice was adamant. She knows Bella well, and a helluva lot more than I know about jewelry, so I trusted her. In any case, it's too late now.
My heart pounds as Bella sets the dishwasher and straightens. She's wearing one of my old t-shirts and nothing else, and she looks amazing. Happy.
"I'm so glad you're here," she says again, wrapping her arms around my neck. "What do you wanna do?"
So many things, but one eclipses them all.
"You want a beer?" I ask.
She gives me a teasing smile. "I have some Bella Brown in the fridge."
"Mmm. My favorite. But I brought something special along. You go sit, and I'll bring it to you."
Once Bella's out of the kitchen, my hands shake as I fetch the special homebrew from the fridge. It's something I created just for this occasion—a dark chocolate raspberry stout that'll go perfectly with the devil's food cake I made.
Feeling more nervous than I ever have in my life, I drop the ring into the stout glass and pour the beer, hoping she doesn't accidentally drink it or something. Wouldn't that just be a wonderful story to tell our kids? If he could see me now, my father would have a field day lecturing me on choking hazards or the potential for indigestion caused by small metal objects.
I hold the glass up, pleased. The ring is barely visible through the dark beer, just as I planned.
Wait, did I just think about kids? What the fuck. I'm getting a little ahead of myself since she hasn't even said yes yet.
Shaking my head to clear it, I finish my preparations and retrieve the cake, wondering how the hell I'm supposed to light the candles since I forgot matches. I frantically search the kitchen and come up with nothing—but then I remember the gas stove. Muttering to myself, I light a skewer from one of the veggie kabobs we ate for dinner and make quick work of the candles—it actually works quite well. And then, arranging the cake and the beer on a tray, I carefully make my way toward the living room.
Bella's faced away reading a magazine when I enter. I clear my throat, and she turns.
"Happy Birthday." I decide to spare Bella the song—no one really needs to hear my singing voice.
Her eyes widen when she sees what I've done. "Oh my God! Did you bake?"
"Maybe just a little."
The cake doesn't look too bad, if I do say so myself, but Bella needs to blow out these candles before they burn down to nubs.
I take slow steps, willing myself not to trip and ruin everything. Finally, I make it to the coffee table and set the tray down. "Make a wish."
She smiles and closes her eyes, then sweeps her hair back and leans forward, blowing out all of the candles in one breath.
"This looks awesome. And this beer - did you make this, too?"
"I did, indeed. It's a raspberry chocolate stout. I thought you'd like it."
"I'm so spoiled today," Bella says, sticking her finger into the frosting and tasting it. "Mmm."
I hand her glass, making sure to give her the correct one, and settle down on the couch next to her. The way my heart is pounding, I'm sure it's audible in the room, but I try to relax. It'll be a while before she finishes her beer.
"So tell me about your classes," I say, reaching for my glass. "How's the infectious disease one going?"
"It's going to be tough . . . and really, it's kinda gross. Just believe me when I tell you you don't want to see the brain of a mad cow."
"I would never look at Alice's brain." Even though we're friendlier now, old habits die hard.
She rolls her eyes at me and shakes her head. "It's so freaking weird how much the professor reminds me of your dad, though. They would get along so well."
We talk for a while about school, seguing into discussion of the pub. Bella's goes down there a couple of times a week, and everything is going well; we'll definitely be set for the late October opening date. Bella loves the beer and the cake, and I try to eat and drink my share, though my stomach is tied in knots.
"How is the fam, anyway?" she asks, licking a bit of frosting from her fork before taking another bite. "You never talk about them on the phone."
Everyone back home knows what the plan for this weekend is, and they're all anxiously awaiting the news. Especially my parents. Of course, I can't tell Bella any of that.
"Well, my father's latest crusade is against moisture-wicking fabric—he's convinced it causes skin cancer. Don't ask me why."
"Hmm . . . that's an . . . interesting theory."
"It isn't, believe me."
When we finish our cake, I set our plates aside and draw Bella into my arms. She nestles into my side and sips her beer; I try not to eye it, knowing she's getting closer.
She's quiet for a minute, and I clear my throat, knowing the time has come and wondering if she can feel my heart rattling around in my chest.
"Bella . . . I wanted . . . " I had a whole speech planned in my head, but none of that seems appropriate now.
"Yeah?" She turns around so she's facing me, her eyes serious.
"Did you like your beer?"
Her brow furrows, and she looks down at the mostly empty glass in her hand. "Um, yeah. It was so good. Didn't I tell you that?"
"Yeah . . ."
I'm pretty sure I'm sweating now; I have no idea what I'm doing. She was supposed to drink the whole beer and find the ring, and now I worry she's not going to drink it, or that if she does, she'll down it in one gulp and choke. This was a stupid idea . . . this was . . .
"What's going on, Edward?" she asks. "You don't look so good."
Before I know what I'm doing, I'm off the couch and kneeling. Her eyes grow large, and she clutches her glass tighter.
"I love you," I tell her. "These past few weeks, it's . . . I've missed you. And I realize I never want to spend this much time apart again—ever. When you're not with me . . . I'm not home." I whisper the last words, worrying when I see tears forming in her eyes. What if I've said the wrong thing?
"I feel the same," she says in a quavering voice. "I hate being away from you."
"Do you want to finish your beer now?"
"What? I just don't . . ." Her protest trails off as comprehension starts to dawn. She looks down at her glass with new eyes before draining it in a slow, careful sip.
The ring sits at the bottom of the glass. Bella reaches in and pulls it out, looking back to me with a face full of disbelief . . . "Oh my God. Are you . . . is this?"
"Marry me, Bella." I can barely get the words out—that's how much of a sap I am.
"Yes," she nods, setting the glass aside. "Hell, yes." She leans forward, the anxiety replaced with the most beautiful smile I've ever seen.
I don't know who reaches for who first, and it doesn't matter . . . she's in my arms, and she wants me. She whispers yes again.
I have her now. And I'll never let her go.