A/N: Your reactions to the last chapter floored me! I love you all! THANKS!
To my ladies: Nikki, Dawn, Sandy & Mandi- thanks for all the help and support! To pixiekat my beta of awesomesauce.. thank you for all the time and work you put into this story.. its been MY honor! P.S. I added to this after your edits.. mistakes are mine!
The days following the reading of Marcus' will were filled with activity. Most everyone was heading back to their lives, except Edward and I. As soon as the shock wore off that Marcus had left Edward his house, he confided to me late one night that he wanted to stay.
"This has always felt like home. I've thought about teaching down here. In fact, just before summer vacation last year, I spent some time looking at teaching positions in Wilmington. It just seemed to be the place I was meant to be."
The honesty in his words rang clear. Last summer he'd often mentioned how much he loved spending time in Wilmington. It held so many happy memories for him while home in Minnesota was overrun with memories of things he had lost. Though I worried about how he would fare living in the house. Jake told me of the meltdown he'd had before I arrived.
"Won't it be hard to live here, surrounded my all the memories of Marcus?"
He thought for a moment before he shook his head. "At first maybe, but I think in the long run, it'll be fine. I think that's why he left it to me. He knew I always considered this my home." He paused and regarded me with a very serious look on his face. "What are your plans?" The question was whispered softly.
Even though he didn't tack on the "will you stay with me," I knew that was what he was really asking me. So it was time for me to make a little confession of my own. "My plans are to be with you, Edward. When I left New York to come here, I knew that as long as you still loved me and wanted me, I was going to be wherever you were. So, if you want me to stay, I will. You are my life now, Edward."
His only response was to kiss me senseless, which caused clothes to fall off and a highly charged round of lovemaking to begin. It was the best celebratory sex I've ever had.
To say Edward's parents were a bit concerned would be an understatement. I could see in Esme's eyes that she worried about him being so far from family and friends. So much so, that it came as no surprise when she sought me out the night before they were set to fly back to Minnesota.
Edward was in spending time with Mike and Jake who were also leaving the next day. The three of them were in the middle of an intense game of Halo3 and I needed a break from all the testosterone.
"Mind if I sit with you, Bella?" asked Esme as I sipped an ice tea watching the colors of the sunset spread across the sky.
"Sure," I was a bit apprehensive. I had yet to have a conversation alone with Esme.
"I wanted to tell you personally, how much I appreciated you coming down here and supporting Edward. I could tell it meant a lot to him."
I nodded and smiled at her. "It was the least that I could do for him. I saw how close he was to Marcus. When I got the news, I knew he had to be hurting." I paused, wondering just how much to tell her about our "relationship" if you could even call it that.
"It seems the two of you are pretty close as well," there was a smile on her face, not a trace of condemnation.
"Yeah, we are. I hadn't seen him since the end of summer, but I knew I cared for him and I was already on my way to see him." I shrugged as if to say it was no big deal.
"I'm glad you guys are reconnecting. He seemed a bit off over the holidays. While he didn't tell me much, a mother knows when her son is hurting. He's seems happier now that you're here. I can tell the two of you will be good for each other. Mind if I be direct with you, Bella?"
"Sure, go ahead."
"I'm worried about Edward being in this house alone. He'll be surrounded by the constant reminders of Marcus and that can't be healthy for him." She paused, and I wasn't completely sure I knew what she was thinking I could do. So I eased her mind the only way I knew how, with the truth.
"He won't be alone, Esme. I'm staying."
You could have heard a pin drop in the silence that followed. I waited for some kind of reaction, fully expecting a negative one. Instead, I watched as her lips curved into the familiar lopsided smile I've seen from Edward.
"Just perfect," she replied before she stood up, kissed my head and walked back into the house. I sat in stunned silence as it sunk in that Esme approved of me. It wasn't that I thought she hated me, mostly it was the fact that she didn't know me all that well. I wasn't sure what, if anything, she knew about our summer and the aftermath. Hell, for all I knew, she saw me as an interloper into a family affair. Or maybe I was waiting for Esme to protest my relationship with Edward. . Her easy acceptance of me was unexpected, but very much appreciated.
We'd been apart for so long and now after being reunited for just a short few days we were essentially living together with no real plan or idea of what we were doing. Okay, those thoughts were part of the lingering doubts my mind still struggled with. I shook my head, reminding my brain that Edward loved me, he wanted me with him. And more importantly, I wanted to be with Edward. There wasn't any other place for me to be.
The next day was a bit bittersweet for Edward. I could feel his somber mood and I did my best to support him. His parents were the first to leave and I watched their hugs goodbye with a few tears in my eyes. Esme told me to call her and let her know how Edward was doing. I hugged her and promised to keep in touch.
If I thought Edward was having a hard time with his family leaving, it was nothing compared to watching him say goodbye to Jake and Mike, especially Jake. I knew they were extremely close, and with as much as Edward leaned on him for support, he was sure to be feeling overwhelmed. Both of them tried to hide the tears in their eyes as they hugged goodbye and Jake made promises to call him.
As we drove back to the house, Edward stared blankly out the window, quiet and withdrawn. When we were close to home, he finally spoke.
"We'll never live together again. We always had that to look forward to. It'll feel weird living in a place without Jake."
There was nothing I could say that would ease his sadness, so I just placed my hand over his and gave it a squeeze. We finished the drive like that, hand-in- hand. We were barely in the house before Edward attacked me. Right there, bent over the living room couch, Edward poured his grief and pain into me. With every deep punishing thrust, he purged his soul of sadness. With every drop of his sweat that fell onto my body, he cleansed his mind. When his hands dug painfully into my hips as he fucked me fast, he was tattooing his love onto my body.
I accepted it all, and arched my body into his asking for more. The punishing pace excited me and I let Edward know with every moan, groan, and every whispered plea for more. I encouraged him to my body me to ease his pain. I absorbed each thrust and washed away his turmoil.
A final erratic thrust caused him to spill deep inside me, as he collapsed on top of me and he held me close. He rained kisses up and down my back, whispering words of thankfulness and love. Several minutes later, when we finally untangled ourselves, I was able to look him in the eyes. Gone was the sorrow and in its place was hope. At that moment, my doubts erased and I truly knew we were going to be perfectly fine.
A/N: *big dramatic sigh* They are just too cute! And because I can.. here is a little unbetad sneak peek of Saturdays final regular chapter:
The glint in her eyes told me there was only one way she wanted to commemorate this event.
"Are you sure, Bella?"
She he rolled her eyes as she gave me a small shove. "We've been talking about this for months, Edward. Did you forget it was my idea? I want to do this. I need to do it."
I searched her face for any hesitation, when I found none, I nodded my consent.
"Now?" she asked hopefully.
I could only smile and nod. "Now."
With a little yelp, she ran to put on shoes and grabbed her sweater before bounding down the steps.
"Come on, Edward! Don't be a slowpoke!"
Now.. give me your thoughts... I love to hear them... See ya on Saturday!