A/N: I'm trying to keep up the updates... thank you all for the lovely reviews. All mistakes are my own. This is a work of fanfiction. You don't think it's real enough?... well, guess what? it's not supposed to be...

Disclaimer: I do not own any characters or places... no copyright infringement is intended.


Coming in through the kitchen door, I almost bumped into Esme Cullen as she was chopping some vegetables.

"Oh, good! You're home!" she gave me a wide smile. "Charlie fell asleep, so I decided to start on dinner. Did you have a nice time?" I blinked, not sure what to say. Who asks if you had a nice time at the store? I shrugged.

"I... would you like some help?"

"Oh... I'm fine, thanks..." just then her son walked in carrying all the bags I had not helped him with... I could almost hear her berating me in her head, or maybe it was just my imagination. I was not sure I liked this woman. She was too nice. Or maybe I was too cynic from lack of mothering... Edward looked at me expectantly. I scurried to grab some of the bags.

"Sorry, let me get that..."

"That's fine! just tell me where you want them." I motioned to the table with my head and he set them down. The kitchen was just too small for three people in it. I stared at Esme's back uneasily, was I selfish for wanting her to stop fussing over dinner? Edward sensed my discomfort. He grabbed my hand and tugged softly.

"You do know you're not home, mom." He said. His mother looked at him with a wierd expression. I both loved and hated when he was like this, unapologetically rude, crudely smug... His mother rolled her eyes and smirked.

"God, Edward!" she shook her head. "You are such a caveman sometimes!" she set the knife down.

"You do know this is Bella's kitchen... and she's very particular about it... and she's a chef, so... you know, go check on the tree or something!" He squeezed my hand. I felt my face burning up.

"Edward, please!" I begged. "He doesn't mean it, Mrs. Cullen." I took a step towards her, but he wouldn't let go. I had never talked to my father like that, I was sure his mother would explode. But, she didn't. She smiled brightly at me with a twinkle in her eye.

"I see..." she looked... proud? "So... what should I do about the roast in the oven, dear son?"

"It's in the oven, isn't it? I'm sure you don't need to... hover?" He stuck out his tongue. This had gone far enough... I wasn't going to let him get away with being so callous.

"Edward!" I raised my voice. "apologize to your mother right this minute!" Edward faked being hurt... he was pouting. I pulled my hand away from his. He chuckled. Then, Esme laughed. I looked at her startled.

"Don't worry, Bella. I'm glad to see the effect you have on my son. He's never been so... territorial." She nodded at me and went into the living room, where I could already hear Emmett and Rose chatting away with dad.

I was so mad, I punched Edward's shoulder.

"Why are you always like that?" I cursed.

"Like what?" he shrugged. "You need space to sort the shopping... and look, I got you space!" He smirked. "Besides, I could see how uncomfortable she made you..." He pulled me closer and brushed his lips against mine. His breath was ragged, his eyes darkened. I shook my head and took a step back.

"You're just impossible!" I threw my hands in the air and started to furiously put the groceries away. He took off his coat and sat on a chair watching me. A huge grin on his face. I cursed under my breath the whole time. "Who do you think you are? This is my house... your mother is a guest..." I huffed and puffed, but his grin only got wider. When I was finished, he stood up, went to the doorway and called his mother.

Esme entered the kitchen cocking her eyebrow.

"Bella feels I should apologize."

"Oh?" His mother beamed at me.

"I'm sorry, mother! You're right, I'm a caveman!" he laughed. Then, she laughed. I couldn't shake the feeling they were laughing at me. I felt the anger rise again. Soon, they were laughing so hard, they had to hold each other.

"My god! Did you see the look on her face? I thought she was going to have a heart attack!" His mother wiped joyful tears, still laughing. "Sorry, Bella. You just don't need to take this so seriously..." she hugged me. "My son likes you, that's why he says the things he says... Come on, it's Christmas... Why don't you go get the decorations, so we can finally get the tree ready. I'll finish in here. I'm sorry to be hogging your kitchen. I feel the same way about mine! Edward, please help Bella!" she ushered us both out of the kitchen.

He followed me to the attic. He didn't say anything or tried anything. He just followed me, picked up the boxes I told him to and carried them downstairs. Everyone helped decorate according to Charlie's instructions. Esme made eggnog from scratch and we were all getting a little tipsy, laughing at Charlie's cop jokes... I didn't think we'd ever had a holiday like this, since mom died... We had dinner on the couch, around the tree. Charlie's eyes twinkled. He was happy. I was thankful for that. I felt the tears starting to well up. Edward's hand tugged mine. I looked at his face. His impeccable square jaw and his green eyes, set in a worried expression.

"What do you need?" He whispered.

"Nothing, everything is perfect..." I leaned against him and hid my face in his chest.

"You're such a bad liar, Bella. Just quit it!" he squeezed my elbow. In his arms, I felt warm.

"It's starting to snow, we have to get going before the roads get blocked!" Esme's worried voice sobered us all up. I looked out the window, all I could see was a white haze.

"Nonsense! You can't leave now! It's too dangerous! Plus you all had a little too much to drink." Charlie barked in his police chief voice. That always meant Emmett and I should stand to attention, so we did. "Esme, you can stay in Jasper's room... " he squinted, looking from Emmett to Rose and back at me and Edward. "There will be no funny business under my roof, Emmett..." my brother nodded. "Mr. Cullen?" I looked at Edward and he was very serious as he nodded in agreement. Then, Charlie seemed to relax and he took another sip of his eggnog.

"I..." Esme didn't know what to do, she just stood there, startled, staring at dad. I nodded for her to sit as I refilled her glass. "We..." she looked at her children for help but they couldn't even face her.

"I'm going upstairs to make Jasper's bed... would you like to see the room?" I smiled at her. She just nodded and followed me up. So did Edward. Jasper's room was half the size of mine. He had cleared all his stuff before moving out to college... back then, he wanted o run away from the small town life he hated. Now his room was a sad empty reminder of all the bitterness we had all went through after mom died. There was only his old bed and a night stand. I went to the hallway closet and pulled out some sheets, blankets and clean towels.

"I can make the bed myself, Bella. You don't have to fuss over me." Esme smiled tenderly but I just shook my head.

"You're a guest... Charlie would chew my head off..." I smiled.

"We really shouldn't stay... I have to be at the hospital early tomorrow, for the nativity play the nurses are putting on for the children's ward." She was fidgeting.

"Mom!" Edward put his arm around her shoulder. "It's too dangerous."

"Don't worry, Mrs. Cullen, I'm sure we can get you to the hospital in time." I finished the bed and stepped out into the corridor, just as Emmett and Rosalie had helped dad up the stairs and into his room. Then, my brother and his girlfriend smirked as they locked themselves in his room.

"I..." I was standing there nervously trying not to look at Edward. He smiled. "I'm not sure..."

"Don't worry about me... I'll just sleep on the couch, downstairs." he offered but that just sounded wrong.

"I... mean," I couldn't say it.

"You don't trust me..." he was in pain. I didn't want him to be in pain. I grabbed his hand and pulled him into my room. I didn't turn on the lights, I stripped out of my clothes and lay down between the covers, after what seemed an eternity Edward stripped to his boxers and lay down beside me.

"I'm sorry." He whispered into my hair. I inched closer to him, my leg absently straddling his. He turned to face me and pull me into a hug. He pressed against my center so I could feel the extent of his arousal. I groaned. His fingers made small circular motions on my back. I pressed against his hard boxers, tugging at the hem.

"Bella, I promised your dad..." he hissed but didn't let go. "I really... want you..." My hips moved almost involuntarily... he kissed me, his tongue reaching for the dark confines of my own. Then, he just stopped and pulled away... "I just... need you to stop. We need to talk... "

I knew he was right. We needed to get things out in the open. We couldn't go on like we had before. Not talking, just letting raw want take us over. I inched closer to him, but I didn't touch him. In the dark, I could make out his face, he looked as if he was debating with himself some hopeless situation. I pressed my hand to his cheek.

"Whatever it is... please tell me."