Reviews for Maybe a Dance
TwiTwiAgain chapter 6 . 9/4/2023
My husband and I took a ballroom class one summer. I was shocked at the close positions! We’re married for heaven’s sake.
TwiTwiAgain chapter 3 . 9/3/2023
So glad I found this! Golden Onion awards. I love their banter, but hate reliving the pandemic needs.
Renee Aubin chapter 36 . 8/28/2023
I have to admit I’m underwhelmed by epilogue babies (not just yours). So this will be a shortish review. However I did have to comment that before I read this story I didn’t know what a snugglefic was, but now I’m ever so glad I discovered this one. As another reviewers said, with all the … unpleasantness going on in our world, a Giant Warm Hug is just what we need!

That did make me laugh when Ellie refused to go to Edward. "You're not Eddie," she huffed. "Strange man."

Oh, I haven’t watched Witcher yet – should I be prepared for hate-watching?

Oh, the hair gel was from the dance competition – took me a while to figure out why on earth the Professor would use so much that it was hard to get out.

I also laughed when he suggests he go take care of his hair RIGHT NOW:
"Please," Bella replied. "It's for the greater good that you stop whining about it."

I’m grateful that it took Esme and Bella 3 years to get around to doing the kitchen cabinet painting. My projects seem to move at a glacial pace. (Well, the pace glaciers USED to have.)

Hmm, so her baby’s serious illness is what it took for Alice to rethink (or perhaps re-feel) her priorities. ‘The event shook Alice so thoroughly she did not quite know what to do with herself or how to apologize to Jasper, but the new parents talked and talked and talked.’
Thank goodness, both for Ellie’s sake and Jasper’s.

Good: ‘But, nevertheless, Jasper told her that if she was still ashamed to be with him, there would be no third shot.’

Way to prioritize Edward's marriage: ‘He'd taught her breathing exercises and refused to enter bigger competitions and dance festivals before Bella was ready.’

Well I did NOT expect the second epilogue baby – seems like a good sign that Alice and Jasper were confident enough to try another one.

This is good news: ‘Watching Alice, Bella realized she'd seen her friend grow patience she didn't know Alice was capable of…’ Alice had been so self-involved that she didn’t seem like promising parent material.

Crazy people, leaving for a long drive to the mountains at 10 p.m. That’s bedtime. Clearly I’m not qualified to be a character in a snugglefic.

Lovely: ‘The stars shone brighter than the last quarter of the old moon…’ OK, so it was a pretty drive.

That was clever, that the tension Bella had noticed in Edward turned out to be triggered by Alice and Jasper’s announcement – whether he and Bella would ever find the perfect time.

Ah, so she was waiting for his birthday to tell him. I wondered why she didn’t take that perfect opportunity the night before.

Sigh: ‘As many competitions and dance festivals as they participated in (in their fancy dress code), there was always something special about dancing in private, at home or in a cabin, naked or half-naked or surrounded by a blanket, lost in each other as they moved like a single leaf in the wind.’

Bella’s frustration when Edward failed to interpret the potato drawing on his birthday card was charming.

Boy I sure understand this: ‘…since she'd been on different contraceptives for thirteen years in a row, she just wanted to skip a month and see what her body was up to without them.’

Smile: ‘It spoke volumes about their marriage, their trust and communication, that after thirteen years of being terrified of getting pregnant, after thirteen years of being the perfect-use example, Bella forgot. ... She was so comfortable and in love with her husband that she forgot.’ Hmm, I admit I’m skeptical, but hey she’s your character.

Oh geez: “I've had sex without contraception twice in my life, and both times, boom. Pregnant." Something for them to keep in mind…

This principle seems to apply to every problem they’ve run into: “I'd rather have you with this problem than any other woman in the world without it."
High praise.

An amusing question, but I can imagine why he felt that way: "Should I stop talking dirty? It feels wrong, now." I was glad Bella put an immediate stop to that line of thinking.

She asks about adding to his tattoo:
"Will you put them here?" she asked, quietly. "Our kids?"
"Not a chance, baby."
"No?"
"I chose you," he answered, lowering himself to rest his elbows on either side of her neck. "I'll love our kids to death but they're just along for the ride. They'll get their spot. But this, here?" Edward put her palm against the centre of his chest. "This is yours, baby. It will always be yours."
I applaud his sense of priorities.

I did have a question about the dance world. Are there competitions where two men or two women can dance as partners? Is there any nonsense about excluding transgender folks? I remember on DWTS there was a season where Jojo Siwa was paired with a female pro, and it was very interesting. As a bisexual female person, I would think two men dancing together would be HOT. I imagine loosening gender roles would be a volatile issue in that world.

Thank you one more time for this charming story. I’m sure I will reread it whenever I need that Giant Warm Hug!
Renee Aubin chapter 35 . 8/20/2023
This is determination: “I had two hours' worth of sleep after talking to you before I showed up at Mahana's shop at five AM pretending not to be drunk, still.” And then he slept through the whole thing. (If I could be guaranteed I'd sleep through a tattoo, I might actually get one.)

Aww, Mahana: "She was over the moon that I'd found someone I'd want to do that for."

Good question – I was kinda baffled about this too:
"Can I ask... how did Angela know you got a tattoo for me?"

Smart girl – train him right away:
‘Bella hummed when she tasted their chocolate cake. Edward reached for a piece before Bella kicked his spoon away and held the cake out of his reach, motioning for the server to bring them another one.’

Whoa, I did not expect Bella’s news to be about Jasper and Alice. Good for Jasper! Kinda questionable to do when she’s pregnant – although in early baby days would have been worse, so he didn’t have any great choices. I hope it works!

Smile: "I'm sorry my family keeps using up all of your free time. Is my mom still calling you every day? You should deny them every once in a while."
That really was sweet (and helpful) that she hung out with Carlisle right after Esme’s surgery.
Thank goodness for this side effect: ‘Bella used the opportunity to take some time off from the endless cover letter writing and CV-customizing.’ Ugh.

When Edward comes home to find Bella singing in the kitchen,
‘The first time it happened, Edward took off his layers and leaned against the wall to enjoy her stunningly casual everyday presence in his life.’
Lovely.

At the restaurant, Edward says "Am I allowed to ask you the question you hate the most?"
I enjoy their careful communication style. Wonderful news, of course!

After Edward badgers her into recreating her accidental gymnast move from their first meeting,
‘Being in his arms like this was just as intimate as it had been before they left for Chilliwack, but Bella adored how now he was hers.’
Well that part is nice, but really, I don’t get why she would go along with him!
At least eventually we find out he had a good reason.

Clever, to get Esme to convince her to clean up her Pinterest board so he knows which one is the right ring.

I like how he makes this argument: "Baby, you lit up like a firefly when you saw the ring. We're not returning it."

And her reply: "So I'm supposed to let you get away with this just because you're superstitious and look sexy when you demand stuff?"

Ah, Mahana was able to make that incredible design after watching Alice’s video. Well, maybe I’ll have to let Alice off the hook (just a little). It is AMAZING what gifted artists can come up with.

Perfect: "This little dot here is the chevy, tiny and heading away from us towards your dad because... why would I need it when I have you?"
Renee Aubin chapter 34 . 8/8/2023
Boy did Edward ever jump to a conclusion based on Bella’s unusual tea-drinking.
Perfect reaction: ‘Bella burst tea out of her nose with such force…’

Sigh, probably smart that when having dinner with the Dean, Bella ‘aimed to seem like a sophisticated fiancée to a Professor and very much a non-student.’ The evening sure went well, though – if you ignore the burnt dinner (shoot, I wanted to hear about the Taiwanese rice vermicelli!) and flaming child. Who knew Bella’s hair-cutting skills would prove so useful?

That was a fun conversation about Asa’s decision to marry Bella when he’s older – but then, she’ll probably be replaced a dozen times in as many weeks.

Great phrase: ‘…molded his happiness and relief into a kiss.’

I can totally relate to Bella’s phobia of pregnancy. I remember when my married, 26-year-old sister got pregnant, I just couldn’t get rid of the undertone of dread.
That’s it, all right: “…when it's so ingrained in you when you're young that pregnancy is the thing that will ruin your future, you can't just switch that fear off overnight. … we'll have to have an ongoing discussion about it to make it feel normal, and not something to avoid at all costs."
It’s as important to get this out on the table as Edward’s concerns about depression and sexual performance.

Sounds reasonable:
“I can't even give you a confident yes," she argued... "I'm effectively telling you that... I hope to get there."
Good thing he’s OK with that.

“Creampie” was a new term for me. I thought maybe it was a Canadian thing, but nope, it’s all over Urban Dictionary.

And yeah, I imagine sex with the intention of making a baby would definitely be hot.
Guest chapter 36 . 8/8/2023
Such a lovely story. It’s three years into corona, inflation is too damn high, our country’s politics are a dumpster fire…a snugglefic like this is exactly what we need! I came back to reread it this week just bc I wanted some warm fuzzies.
Renee Aubin chapter 33 . 7/30/2023
So true! ‘Bella still felt cramped and slightly paranoid around so many people after avoiding human contact for so long.’

Kimberly Graham-Lin deserves that wonderful cabin:
‘She was a firm advocate for guiding first-generation students through the numerous invisible roadblocks at an Ivy-league school, and she thought Edward's struggles and the lessons he was forced to learn would provide valuable input to them.’
And, as she noted, vulnerable students were liable to be far more damaged by the COVID shutdowns than ‘their peers who could use their parents' network to make up for their missed opportunities.’
Good for her!

Smile, re allowing Edward to accept Prof. Graham-Lin’s invitation:
‘Dean Zhou Ming was almost ridiculously easy to convince as any potential collaboration between Banting-Carr and an Ivy-league school in the US would help put their small Canadian university on the map.’

Excellent – Edward and Angela didn’t run into each other while he was at Yale, ‘which caused even more disappointment to Laurent than it did to Bella’.

Nice: ‘Bella watched him on the stage, looking relaxed and happy, and she couldn't describe what a wonder it was that he had this precious, dirty side reserved only for her.’

What a wonderful surprise that he has already begun using their hyphenated name professionally! And such a fun conversation going on in front of her re Edward’s hotness and status.

An intriguing clue to their early days: ‘Listening to the black-haired guy mention how Edward always kept the door open when he had meetings with students made Bella realize that she'd been an exception to the rule even if she hadn't understood it at the time.’

Whoa, so that was Angela all along that sat next to Bella and fussed about whether Edward was married yet. Good observation that ‘she looked effortless and natural in a way that could only be achieved with a ridiculous amount of effort’. It has to be a high priority for her!

And then Angela’s "He's not all that” comment – to a total stranger! How many people has she said something like this to?

Bella had quite the comeback. Maybe my favorite part of it was "It's sweet of you to worry, but we don't have problems…”
Bella was remarkably restrained during the whole conversation, if you ask me.

Now this surprised me: "You never told me you could dance."
How does that “not come up”? I’m thinking not many wide-ranging conversations? Not much curiosity (on her part) re her future husband?

Oh my goodness:
"There's nothing wrong with being asexual," Bella said, her voice a near-whisper, seeing in the sharpness of Angela's gaze that she'd guessed correctly. "I just wish you hadn't—"
Boy did that light the fuse!

If I didn’t already dislike Angela, this would have done it: "You don't know who I am.”

Poor guy: ‘Meanwhile, Edward looked like he'd been run over by a steamroller that had aged him by a decade.’

I like this Laura: "Don't worry about it. Laura was just complaining to me the other day that not enough drama has come out of me dating a professor."

Well, now we have to wait till the next chapter to find out what Edward wanted to talk about! And whether he was right about Bella having gotten a job.
Renee Aubin chapter 32 . 7/22/2023
Ha ha, Edward spots Jasper through the window: ‘"You are so dead," Edward said to Alice.’

Wow, Jasper handles the crowd awfully well: "I feel like a celebrity," he said, grinning, moving to introduce himself to Alice's parents. "Did you all just stand here until I arrived?"

Enjoyed this, Jasper to Edward:
"But I heard you had a birthday yesterday. Happy birthday. And congratulations on your promotion, and your engagement. You are just winning at life. I don't have anything for you, I'm afraid," Jasper leaned closer, briefly making eye contact with Bella before he whispered, "Except stories about Bella."

BTW, I liked ‘Taco Bella’.

A good sign: ‘Esme smiled, looking eager and bubbling with enough questions to have a full-scale interview with the man.’

This makes sense, Bella’s observation: ‘It didn't feel like Alice had no feelings for the man... it felt like she was in denial about having them.’

I can see this, Jasper ‘asked Esme and Carlisle questions of his own, and they were thrilled with how curious Jasper was about their careers and choices.’
When their own daughter seemed uncommunicative and indifferent.

OMG, Jasper’s story about hauling Bella to the ED/ER when he couldn’t wake her up!

‘Edward asked. "You wake up in strange places?"
"Probably more than all of you combined."’
I guessed you’d get used to that? Her list of the ways she keeps herself safe was smart.

Holy cow:
‘"Can you believe that she's considering giving me a shot?" Jasper asked, quietly, voice full of disbelief.
With all of Alice's hangups, Bella wanted to ask 'Can you believe that you're considering giving Alice a shot?' but she knew that Jasper would laugh in her face if she suggested that he was the one out of her league.
"You're a catch," Bella said instead…’
Good for Bella.

An interesting perspective from Jasper on the unplanned pregnancy: “Even if Alice, you know, even if we don't work out, I'm not likely to have another shot at this, and I'm... I'm stoked, you know?"

Fun story about how Bella got the fancy dancing dress(es). She’d probably never spend the money herself, but how wonderful to have something flashy.

Big smile: ‘Edward was leaning against the wall, hands in his pockets, wearing standard black pants and a crisp white button-up but looking somehow attractive enough to have invented the concept.’

And then: ‘Seeing him throw his head back, eyes closed as he laughed, in his element, charming and kind, Bella couldn't fathom that she hadn't been attracted to the man when he was her lecturer. Where had she been?’
Good question!

A good indicator of how well Edward knows Bella, that he noticed how much “stage fright” she had, and already knew how to calm her down.

Esme is a jewel:
‘"And we might mess up, so be kind," Bella added.
"Aw, honey, I already love this, and you," Esme replied, looking emotional and giddy, all at once.’

Terrific, from Carlisle: "I guess Bella was the missing piece of the puzzle Mr. Marchesi kept criticizing you for."

From Jasper: "I thought you guys had danced together all your lives."
And "I'm signing up for dance lessons."

I liked that he made the connection that Alice’s brother and best friend took lessons, but she didn’t. At least she concludes "I was a stupid kid."
It could also be that as gifted as Edward (apparently) was, she didn’t feel like competing with that.

Wonderful, after Jasper leaves:
‘Carlisle said to Esme. "Honey, do you think this is one of those instances where our approval is the worst thing that could happen to Alice?"’
Followed by all the things that are “vile” about him. Charming.

Lovely detail, as Edward paces back and forth on work calls:
‘Bella adored his work voice, authoritative but polite, and each time she passed, he muted himself for a few seconds just to steal a kiss from Bella and hear what she was up to. It was a tiny, sweet gesture that never failed to fill her with warmth.’

Good summary: ‘Driving to Chilliwack two weeks and two days ago, Bella had felt like nothing could've left a bigger mark on her than her lack of a job. ... It was curious that now, she felt like the previously gaping hole of her lack of family felt much more acute, acute but healed, and it was mind-blowing that not only did she return with a real, breath-taking fiancé but with a family.’

Nice, re her job search: ‘The fact that Edward was there to support her, and that she trusted him to be there had made all the difference to her, not in the outcome but in the way she felt about her choice. She couldn't underestimate that.’

I bet: ‘Returning felt like an out-of-body experience. They'd only been gone for two weeks and two days, and yet, it felt like a lifetime.’

A delightful thing to learn: "Do you know how much I wanted to kiss you the last time you stood here?" he said, quietly... "You were so worried about whether or not to hug me and all I could think about was if I could've gotten away with this."

Interesting idea: "I want to see if I can last longer if I shut up for once.”
I loved her (eventual) answer that she’d always take his dirty talk over lasting longer.

Perfect:
"You really don't care that... I have this problem?"
"I don't," Bella replied, caressing his cheek. "I wish you didn't see it as a problem.”

I enjoyed Bella’s guesses about what he’ll choose for the center of his tattoo:
"A frog. Seventeen M&Ms. An if-else statement. A leaf in the wind."

BTW, I agree with another reviewer that if you want to write entire chapters of PWP, I’m here for it!
CynMar Rom chapter 36 . 7/17/2023
Awwwe. This was so cute, so sweet, definitely diabetes inducing, but man, what a ride.
I could have gone with a little more PWP lol not gonna lie. Jesus, it was hot.
I love learning new things through stories like this, about things I would have never looked up on my own.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful, beautiful words.
I will make an effort to read P&P so I can have context for your other stories lol
Thanks for sharing!
Renee Aubin chapter 31 . 7/13/2023
Nice, upon returning to the Cullen house:
‘Bella and Edward grinned when they locked eyes, unable to express how it felt to have left with a fake engagement and returned with a real one.’

I enjoyed grumpy Carlisle!

Chuckle: ‘Bella sat by the table with her backpack in her lap, biting back a groan as she lowered herself to the seat. As much as she danced, sex with Edward worked muscles she hadn't used in a long time, but no way in the world did she want his parents to catch on.’
Although no doubt Edward would have enjoyed it.

And another chuckle, from Carlisle:
‘"You know, the stuff you find adorable right now is the stuff you'll have to learn to live with later on."
Edward was exhausted enough to have to pause before he realized his dad was referring to Bella's tendency to fall asleep in any position, anywhere.’
Some people would kill to be able to fall asleep that easily!

Loved the birthday morning blow job. Especially the way Edward responded as he struggled to wake up.
Tragic – isn’t he in his mid-30’s?
"Never been woken up with a blowjob before."
"On your birthday?"
"On any day."

This is promising for both of them:
"You always take amazing care of me. I'll tell you as many times as it takes for you to believe me that I don't care how long you last. Even if it never changes."

Ha ha, re his hand-drawn birthday card:
“I'm definitely framing it at work."
"Don't do that," Bella replied, kissing his jaw. "People will ask how old your kid is."

I like their negotiation about his birthday gift: “You can't afford it, and if you can't afford it, we can't afford it. Not yet.”
Makes so much more sense than the canon gift foolishness.

I’m a true grinch, but even I thought this was a sweet scene:
‘Esme put on a Christmas playlist, and Bella felt an enormous sense of belonging and having a family again as she watched Edward and Alice's friendly fight over [ornaments]’.

A wonderful exchange:
‘"One more question," Bella said, hoping to hear which part of wedding planning, if any, Edward cared about. "What's the most important thing for you about our wedding?"
Edward stifled his smile, eyes swimming with mirth and affection.
"Marrying the right girl."
Bella swooned. Esme swooned. Alice swooned.
"Damn, did you practice that answer?" Bella asked, waving a dramatic hand in front of her face.’

Wow!
“Bella will try to please you when you suggest stuff because she wants to make you happy, but if there is so much as a hint of disagreement, I will fight you with her, mom, even if I disagree with her. She is my life now. Okay?"
I didn’t expect Edward to draw quite such a clear line with Esme.

What the heck is moose milk? (Never mind – I googled it. Sounds delicious. Had to save the recipe.) But it goes with chips? Not cookies?

The most interesting thing about the name change discussion was both of them having to interrogate how they really felt about it. These big cultural assumptions can really surprise you.

I enjoyed Edward and Carlisle’s conversation about the options:
“If it's more important to me that we share our last names, shouldn't I be the one willing to make that happen?”
And "I wish Charlie was still here. The fact that you'd even consider his last name would earn you all the son-in-law points.”
And “I think your happiness is a stronger argument than you think." Yes, Edward dismisses it pretty quickly.

This was brilliant, from Carlisle’s earlier conversation with Bella (in the kitchen on Christmas!):
"She said that it's interesting how you are all about the potential consequences in everything you do, and Alice... lives like there is none."

Also interesting: “Esme and I spent a lot of time with your sister when you two were at the cabin, and it is surprising how little we know her considering she lives here."
You know what else, I love that Esme and Carlisle refer to each other by name, not exclusively as “your Mother” or “your Father”, or even worse, the dreaded “Mother”. A not-so-subtle reminder that each of them is more than their role.

Hmm, I hadn’t thought about this: “I can't help but hope that... maybe having Bella back in our lives will be good for your sister."

In the end Carlisle has the most sensible answer, that the next generation will make their own choice about married names, and are not in any way “stuck” with concatenating two hyphenated names together.
Good perspective about trying too hard to steer the future: “My word, nowadays you can't even know which gender they will be by the time they're adults!”

Got some good laughs out of Carlisle’s use of various Harry Potter labels for she-who-must-not-be-named.
Wow, I wonder if he’s ever been this straightforward about Angela with Edward before:
"If Bella and dementor's kiss ever meet, I want to be there. I will be fascinating. Bella is beautiful and kind and analytical and everything that's good for you, and Gilderoy Lockhart's hair is... 180 degrees from that. It was torture watching you with her.”

Oh my gosh, I actually got teary-eyed when Carlisle asked whether Bella has someone to walk her down the aisle. And I’m as enthused about weddings as I am about Christmas.

Good for her: "My argument about my papers is bullshit. I only have four, five after February, and I don't plan to stay in academia, so it won't matter. It's more the dad thing.”

Aww, when he proposes combined last names:
‘Bella bit her lower lip, giving him a beaming smile, and Edward couldn't believe he had the power to make her so happy.’

The last word: "Keep calling me Miss Swan in the bedroom and you have a deal."
She has her priorities straight!

Oh - and we haven't met Jasper yet!
Renee Aubin chapter 30 . 7/3/2023
The cabin sounds fabulous, but for me it would have to come with a helicopter to drop me off! I’m too much of what my dad used to call a “flatlander”, I guess.

Perfection: ‘Snow-capped mountains could be seen through the falling snow across the lake, and tree-covered mountainsides surrounded them.’

A lovely moment: ‘…the way he watched her, lips parted, dazed, observing her face with his half-hooded gaze as if she'd vanish any minute.
"Nobody's ever looked at me like that," she said in wonder.’

Smile: ‘…she wasn't sure how to function as a human with how weightless his love made her feel.’

That’s a fun contrast between the “onion’s worth of layers” they’ve been wearing, to then stripping all the way down to naked in the laundry room.

Excellent: ‘Professor Cullen, brilliant and sweet, fit and covered in tattoos, with his whitish beard and hair, was about to be her husband.’

This is great:
"You know when you have a crush on someone, but when you get to know them, you realize your mind made up a person who doesn't exist and you only ever loved the thought of them but... that illusion is gone? I was mentally preparing myself for that when I invited you to spend Christmas with me and my family. But then, I got to know you, and... you were better."

Oh wow: “There must've been a half-year overlap when we were both at Simon Fraser but never bumped into each other.”
But they wouldn’t have had the life experience and maturity that’s made them into the people they each adore. For instance, would Bella have been ready to provide this: “We'll butt heads at some point, but... baby, you are so open. The way you communicate and solve problems is so impressive it takes my breath away.”
And what if Edward hadn’t yet found a successful way to deal with his depression?

Ha ha: "Our mission to be best friends with the Graham-Lins won't succeed if we have to explain come stains on their fancy blue satin."

Nice: “I just hope you don't wake up one day from being deliriously drunk on being in love to discovering that you never really wanted me in your long-term plan."
"Baby, you are my long-term plan."

Quite a story about when 9 year old Edward was left in charge of Bella and Alice at the grocery store when Charlie had to go to the scene of a car crash, and Bella wandered away. And it checks out that the “nice white lady” called the police when a middle aged Native American man with a pony tail lifted a little white girl into his van. Billy was just lucky the sheriff was his friend! (In the U.S. at least) we hear so many stories where the police shoot first and ask questions later.
I guess at least Charlie apologized to Edward for holding him responsible during ‘the most terrifying hour of his life’.

A good insight: ‘Being unwillingly unemployed eats at your morale in a way nothing else quite does…’

Delicious: "I've never... I've never had this, this constant need to—to have... anyone. You have to tell me if it's too much."
But if it IS going to be a problem, this is a good time to find out.

Yay: ‘After years of walking on egg-shells and being convinced that his sex drive was a villain to fight rather than a normal, inevitable part of him, Bella's enthusiasm fit into some primal, vulnerable need in him.’

Interesting idea: “…do you think being gaslit by Stanković normalized that behaviour for you to the point where his mistreatment of you made you an easy target for Angela? Being treated like that was all you knew, so maybe your brain kind of... created coping mechanisms for that, and it was easy to stay in both abusive relationships because, in a really fucked up way, those two supported each other.”

Chuckle, perched naked on the kitchen table: "We had a shower and this is a clean sheet," Bella continued. "My god, for a guy with the most deliciously dirty tongue, you're really prim and proper, aren't you?"

Cute:
‘"I just realized," he whispered. "We're going to have the most epic first dance anyone's ever[y] seen." …
"It took you a week to realize that?" she teased.’

I have to admit I was startled when he finds her asleep on the sofa, and ‘ran his hand over her red hair’. Red hair! We’ve heard endlessly about her freckles so it makes sense, but if you said red hair before I wasn’t paying attention, just translating her back to canon Bella’s coloring only with freckles. (And I think I’ll just go on doing that if you don’t mind…red hair equals Victoria.)

Lovely:
‘It was a taste of someone else's life, someone better, someone who deserved happiness so mind-blowing it terrified him. To teach and do research, to write and review papers only to go home to a wife like her... surely, his luck must run out somewhere. Nobody deserved this much of it.’

We know Bella is a sleep talker, but I've never known anyone who is quite so coherent while asleep. Luckily he freaked out in a good way when she announces she’s going to have his babies.
‘He waited for the terror of her words to hit him, the way they'd horrified him in Yale, and yet no fear came. Instead, her words sent the wildest squeeze through his ribcage, a blast of some unnamed emotion that filled him with the most confusing yearning and affection. He almost had to beat his chest to get his heart in order.’

Clever: ‘He had purposefully not approached this topic yet, not knowing entirely where he stood or what he wanted to hear, but his reaction to her sleep-talking had given him the answer.’
Renee Aubin chapter 29 . 6/26/2023
At Charlie’s grave:
"I haven't been here in three years," Bella said, finally. "Feels more real if you have to see it, you know?"
Sigh.

A good thing to know: "Fair warning, I'm... terrible with dates. I remember that your birthday is in... May?”

Terrific story about the toy car. I liked hearing about Edward’s connection with Charlie. Makes sense, since they were neighbors, that it wouldn’t be only Bella connecting with Alice and with Edward’s parents.
Nice: "I just... I never really thought about how there'd just be—" Edward cleared his throat. "One last time to do this."

Marvelous twist that the day of the kitchen fire, the pot Edward was smoking had come from Charlie!

I chuckled a little when Edward’s story about Charlie and pot ends with “plenty of research still being done”…

A wonderful memory:
"That last time I spoke to him, he told me you'd minored in statistics for your bachelor's and master's, and that he wished you'd been there. He thought we'd have a lot to talk about."
Bella grinned, feeling her heart fill with affection. "He would've been so smug to know how right he was."

I enjoyed how Bella kept Edward wondering about the mystery of Jasper, why Alice didn’t talk about them: "You'll know when you see him."

Another good thing for your partner to be warned about:
“...I have no trouble telling [Alice] when she's being an asshole. But... but, I've never been able to tell people who've hurt me that they've hurt me... and that goes especially for Alice."

A lovely distinction:
‘"I guess I'm lucky you're ridiculously easy to read."
"I'm not, though," she replied. "I have endless squabbles to prove for it from my previous relationships. I think I'm easy to read for you."
…"So you are," he said, softly.’

Oh, I didn’t even think about Bella’s side of Alice’s epic posting disaster:
“I'm disappointed she didn't consider that I would've liked to have made that social media announcement myself, with you. She knew me well enough, once, to at least have an idea of how much I would've loved to have done that."

After all her work and uncertainty, a terrific job offer – on the other side of the continent. I thought this was some remarkable insight – she imagines how she would have talked this over with Charlie:
“…I would listen to myself making up reasons why I don't want to pursue a post-doc, and you know what? I would realize that that means something. I don't want to continue in academia. All other things being equal, even without you, I would rather sleep on Rosie's carpet for four months, attempting to break it into industry than uproot my entire life because I'm scared that nobody else will offer me anything."

Well said: "So let's fast forward the part where you feel it's too soon to ask me to stay and I feel scared that you don't want me here enough to ask me to stay…”
And brave.

What a perfect time for a (real) proposal! I love the short, straightforward one, too.
Lovely: “And don't say it's sudden because I know you. I've known you since you were born, and we have an enormous history that neither of us ever realized."
We’ve learned that he HAS known her since she was born, even if they weren’t close beyond the Bella whisperer stage. His whole speech was terrific.

Delightful:
‘"Yes," she whispered, amazed by his speech. She grinned against his ear, knowing that he was reckless to ask and she was reckless to accept, but fuck if he didn't feel so right it made her heart burst.’
Renee Aubin chapter 28 . 6/19/2023
Chuckled at your author’s note: ‘Blah blah blah, shittons happening in my life, yada yada. Good talk. Here's a chapter.’

"I just hate making mom cry. I made her cry a lot when I was a shithead teenager...”
Sigh, didn’t we all.

Esme really did blow her top about the tattoos. Carlisle didn’t seem at all upset, in fact he was more curious.
Wow, she totally conflated drug culture and tattoos. I guess in my parents’ generation there was some truth to that.

Rolling my eyes, typical mom:
'“How will you find a job after this? Nobody will hire you!"
"I have a job, mom," Edward replied.'

Great phrase, when Bella agrees that she likes Edward’s tattoos:
‘Esme blinked at Bella as if a shoe had grown out of her ear’.

"You've had this for—years. Why are you showing it to us now?"
Edward raised his eyebrows at his sister who had the decency to look sheepish. Tearing away his eyes, he sighed. "I didn't want you to learn about it from others or discover it by accident."
I’m still amazed that he didn’t take the opportunity to reveal Alice’s idiocy.

Thank goodness: ‘Esme did not grow to like the idea of her son being covered in tattoos but slowly, very slowly, she began to treat Edward normally again.’

This sounds familiar:
‘As they finished up emptying the garage on Sunday, the previously agonizing choice-making turned into more brutal chucking of anything that hadn't been used in the past three years but was in no state to sell or give away.’
If only we could start out that way (my sister can, but she goes TOO far).

Ooh, I haven’t watched “Witcher” yet either.

Cute:
"I love seeing you in casual clothes. I'm still not used to it. You look... kind of disarming."
Edward's eyes lit up with a twinkling warmth. "I'm glad I didn't know that. Would've been pretty inappropriate if I showed up at your lectures in my sweatpants."

This is such a challenge for them: ‘…they were trying to act like a couple who'd been together for more than a week.’

Ah, Carlisle and Esme’s “COVID date” sounds entirely worth the risk.

And the fallout continues…
"Mom!" Edward complained, close enough to hear. "It's a surprise. You promised not to see it before."
Esme tilted her head as she assessed her son. "Yes, honey, because promises mean so much in this house."
Edward slapped his forehead, groaning. "Low blow, mom. Low blow."

Charming: ‘They danced the most foreplay-ish tango either of them had ever participated in…’

I was a little puzzled at the family’s reaction to Esme’s accidental admission that she rigged who got whom with the ribbons. I guess I thought all moms did things like that, despite the premise was that it was random! It sounds like half of everyone's fun was getting someone else to switch names with.

It WAS funny when it came out that it was not just this year, but a long way back…
Carlisle: "All those years of me asking to take a peek, and you had a flow-chart of who would spend time with whom. Years, Esme. What will we do with you?"

Whoa: ‘Obviously, he'd never given a second thought to giving his old science projects to Bella, but it was a wonder to know the cascade of events his mother's interference unleashed. Esme had gotten them together, not just for making them fake an engagement but for unintentionally unravelling the events that allowed them to end up in a similar field around the same network of scientists, to even give Edward the opportunity to ask Bella to do this.’

Perfect: ‘…in the end, it no longer mattered how it all came to be.’
winterhorses chapter 8 . 6/18/2023
Yeah, a lot of demanding professions are like that—it’s a competition to see who can suffer the most by killing themselves with work. I think part of the problem is that many societies (especially the US) tend to put more value on quantity vs. quality. More must equal better. I also think some of the problem is inexperience in those coming up the ranks, plus a healthy dose of an “I went through he11 to get where I am, so you have to, as well” attitude by those in higher positions.
Renee Aubin chapter 27 . 6/10/2023
They go into Alice’s room to discuss … various issues.
‘Bella couldn't help but feel like a shower of nostalgia washed over her. Alice's room was twice the size of Edward's but had no attached bathroom, and Bella had spent years in it. … Every corner of this room held memories of her childhood.’

Interesting: ‘It was a strange conflict within her, wanting to see the best in Alice but knowing that Bella didn't, in fact, know anything about her life anymore.’

Good Lord, part of Alice’s defense about posting the video: “…when you want a post with impact." Clueless.

Whoa, that was gangster of the Dean to open his phone call with a long story about why a rival candidate didn’t get Edward’s professorship: scandal. Ouch.

Terrific explanation from Edward about how he would have approached telling his boss and colleagues about his engagement to a former student. Alice makes it so clear she doesn’t understand his world:
"Anyone who knows you knows that—"
"They don't know me, Alice. I get along with the Dean brilliantly but he's not my friend. …that means he doesn't know that I don't do that."

And on the tattoo question – Alice again demonstrates her lack of common sense:
"Mom and dad don't even have Instagram. They barely log into Facebook."
"Yes, but everyone else does. Several of mom's friends follow that account."

God, is there a way to block Alice from his professional account? I was amazed that he didn’t get way more obviously angry with her.

Oh my!
"I'm sorry," Alice said in a small voice.
Edward looked at his sister, observing her for a few silent moments. "Are you?" he asked. "Are you really? Was it not a ruse to take our parents' attention away from you?"
I guess I’m not devious enough to have thought of that!

“Your post was so phenomenally careless on so many levels…” Yes! And “Do you ever think about the consequences of your actions? I'm just... I just don't understand you." A kinder response than she deserves.

Smile, when Alice asks Edward to talk privately with Bella:
"You know she's going to tell me everything you tell her?"
Yes, loyalties have shifted.
Interesting question: ‘Would Alice have been a different person if they'd kept in touch and stayed close?’ Yes, this happens: during that ten years ‘They'd spoken to each other's parents but not each other.’

Thud – so true: ‘Problems they'd faced in high school paled in comparison to the freedom and responsibilities of figuring out their lives as adults.’
Although goddess knows in high school we couldn’t conceive of anything being more difficult than what we were grappling with!

Oh my gosh: ‘Suddenly, Alice's obsession with whether Edward would've dated Bella when she was fat made way too much sense.’
A well-woven plot point.

Sigh: ‘Bella felt tremendous sympathy towards Jasper. Having a healthy relationship with food could be a tough, sometimes lifelong journey, and not everyone succeeded.’
Ironic that Bella was in touch with Jasper more than Alice.

A good guy: “He was okay with whatever I decided, and when I told him I wanted to keep the baby, he, he almost cried. From happiness.”

Wow, Bella!
"What am I going to do?" Alice repeated.
"Therapy," Bella answered, simply. "You need therapy. He's a fantastic guy. Regardless of whether or not you end up together, he doesn't deserve your shame."

Chuckle: "What's the point of having a girlfriend who's friends with my sister if I can't get all the inside gossip?"

But Jasper is coming over for Christmas! How lucky for him that he's already got Bella on his side with the family. (I'm thinking he's too good for this Alice...)
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