"Stupid. Fucking. IDIOT!"

It may have been the first time I said it out loud that night, but I had been thinking it over and over and over. How could I have been so stupid? Why had I ignored the niggling sensation that things weren't quite right with Jake? I had been blind, and it was coming back to bite me in the ass two weeks before Christmas. I was vaguely aware that I was more upset about my Christmas plans being fucked up than about the implosion of my 'maybe getting more serious' relationship. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that spoke volumes, but I was still too angry to care that it meant Jake was probably right, even if his timing was astoundingly bad.

"Aggggggh!" I yelled and flung my hairbrush at my bed, which wasn't nearly as satisfying as throwing it at Jake's head (or even the wall), but neither committing assault nor repairing drywall was in my plans. And apparently a trip to the Berkshires for the holidays was no longer in my plans either.

Hoping to salvage something, I pulled up Expedia to see if I could find an affordable ticket to fly to my dad in Washington. The cheapest fare was $1,100 so that was out of the question. Next, I called my mom. Christmas in Florida wasn't really my thing, but it beat spending it alone in New York City. Before I could even mention traveling down to see her, Mom was babbling on and on about the singles cruise she had booked for over the holidays. After half-heartedly listening to how excited she was, I finally got off of the phone and sat there, phone in hand, staring into space trying to figure out what I was going to do. I was honestly having a hard time moving beyond this is so fucked up to actually thinking of a solution.

When I was finally able to move my thoughts away from the basic anger, frustration, and disappointment, I realized I did have an option. They may not have been family by blood, but the Cullen girls were what I considered my East Coast family; Alice and Rose were my sisters from another mister. We'd been roommates in college and continued to be very close even after they each moved in with their boyfriends and I moved into my tiny studio apartment. I knew I'd be welcome at their parents' place but still cringed at the thought of inviting myself - it just seemed rude. Although the number of times I'd held Alice or Rose's hair after a night out did seem to minimize just how rude it felt. Granted, they had done the same for me, but technically I'd be imposing on Esme and Carlisle, and there was definitely no history of hair holding there. I realized I had a choice - either end up feeling slightly rude or totally depressed. Decision made, I picked up the phone again and called Alice.

"BELLAAAAAAAAAA!" Alice screeched through the phone. "I was just talking about you! HEY EDWARD! IT'S BELLAAAAAAAAA!"

Oh for the love of all that's holy. Alice was shitfaced - my name always took on new lengths (and volume) when Alice had been drinking. "Alice? Where are you and how much did you drink?"

"I'm up in Boston with Edward! He's moving home! It's a Christmas fucking miracle, Bellaaaaaaa!"

I started laughing. There really was nothing quite like a drunk Alice to cheer me up.

"What's so funny? Ooooh Bellaaaaaaaaa, now you have to dump Jake. You're gonna finally meet my awesome brother and have awesome babies and we'll be awesome sisters. Ooooooh… I should buy some mistletoe!"

"Um… about Jake… and what the hell? Babies? Jasper needs to cut you off right the fuck now. And don't you dare buy one sprig of mistletoe. Do you hear me, Alice?"

"Ugh, fine. No mistletoe. You're no fun, Bellaaaaaa." I could hear Alice start moving around through the phone. "Oooooooh wait, I'm gonna go in the other room. You have to wait. Hold on."

I could hear her stumble a couple of times, but she finally got to where she was headed and the background noise ceased as she closed the door. "So what's up, chickie?" she asked, suddenly serious.

"He dumped me. The jackass dumped me! And I can't go home because the plane ticket is ridiculous and Renee is going on a cruise to meet the next flavor of the month and I'm going to end up being like that song by The Waitresses except without the hot guy. It'll be me, trying to find cranberry sauce on Christmas Eve at Food Emporium, without the promise of a happy ending!" I thought I was rational when I called her, but apparently some panic had been under the surface because suddenly there it was, spewed out rapid fire. Tears pricked at my eyes.

"He WHAT? Are you serious?! I told you that you were too good for that ass-faced jerkoff. As for the rest, my Bellaaaaaaaa…" I heard her get up and slam open the door. "HEY GUYS! Guess who's coming home for Christmas with us? Bet you can't guess!"

I heard a voice in the background. "Well, let me see. You're on the phone with Bella, so I'm guessing Bellaaaaaaaaaaa!" The voice rose in pitch at the end until it was a near perfect imitation of Drunk Alice.

"Why'd you have to spoil it for everyone, Edward?" Alice yelled, actually miffed that he guessed.

"You mean spoil you saying Bellaaaaaaaaaaa again, right? Because I'm pretty sure everyone else figured it out," the voice teased.

"Ugh. Fine! Be happy you don't have brothers, Bellaaaaaaaaa. Boys are assholes. Yes, even you, Jasper. I love you, but you're an asshole too. And Emmett, it goes without saying, so shut your face. Jizzface Jake is the biggest, ball-less bastard asshole of all though, Bellaaaaaaaa."

My giggles had evolved into full on doubled over laughter when she got to 'ball-less bastard asshole'. I could hear Rose cackling in the background as I wiped the tears from my eyes. I loved my girls. They may have taken awhile to get used to – I thought Alice was the most obnoxious person in the world at first and that Rose was a first class bitch – but now I wouldn't trade them for anything. We had next to nothing in common and yet somehow our friendship worked. Sure, there was an occasional wrinkle here or there. They didn't get when I wanted to stay in or that I would actually want to spend hours curled up with a book rather than out at a movie. I didn't really understand wanting to go to a club every night either, so I guess that made us even, but it was in moments like this that our friendship really shone. Alice instinctively understood what I needed without me even asking, and it had been that way for as long as I could remember. It was never a question in her mind where I was going to spend Christmas. I knew that if I needed Rose and Alice with me, they would hop the train back to the city and show up at my apartment with ice cream and vodka. And even if I wished I had someone who truly got me sometimes, I knew I had the most loyal, loving friends in the world.

Alice and I said our goodbyes, and she passed the phone to Rose so I could reassure her that I was okay, just pissed off. I hung up the phone and had a smile on my face for the first time since getting that stupid message from Jake. Yes, a message. He really was a ball-less bastard.

Two weeks later, I found myself on the train with two Cullens and their boyfriends, heading out to their parents' house. Edward, the elusive brother I had never met, was already out at the Cullen's and would pick us up from the train station. The amount of bags I had was ridiculous. All of my shopping had been done last minute since I suddenly had to buy more gifts (that rude thing again). Everyone else had their stuff directly shipped to the Cullen's house, so I was the only one who was completely overloaded. Luckily my parents' gifts were small enough to tuck into my purse otherwise the situation would have been completely out of control. The rest of them each had one bag while I was dealing with my own plus three shopping bags. What can I say? One week post breakup was spent wallowing in anger (and ice cream) and the other was the usual breakneck rush to get things done at work before the end of the year.

I was frazzled, I was stressed, and I was really looking forward to just sitting down and taking a breath during the holidays. Honestly, at that point, I was rethinking the panic from two weeks ago of where I was going to spend Christmas. Sitting at home on the couch, curled up with a book and some peace and quiet was sounding mighty good. Especially with how obnoxious my friends were being. They somehow missed the memo that they weren't the only people on the train. I sent an apologetic grimace to some of the people shooting annoyed glares at us and popped in my ear buds. It was the only way for me to deal, short of completely losing it on all of them.

We finally pulled into the station, and I started wrangling all of my crap. My friends were preoccupied, laughing and chattering away, and I was left to my own devices. A lovely, kind gentleman getting off at the same stop took pity on me and carried two of my shopping bags off of the train. He handed them back to me, and I saw Alice dart over to someone I assumed was Edward as Jasper, Rose, and Emmett followed along behind her. I sighed, huffed out a breath of air to blow some of my hair out of my face, and gathered all of my stuff. I caught a glimpse of Alice in conversation with her brother but didn't get a good look at him until she turned slightly and gestured my way. Holy hell. I knew he was decent looking from the photos I had seen, but apparently his time in Boston had been very good to him. My best friends' brother was gorgeous, and I was a disheveled mess. I probably looked like a deranged bag lady as I tried to keep ahold of everything in my hands.

He strode towards me, tossing out, "What the hell is wrong with you assholes?" as he passed Jasper and Emmett. "Would it have killed you to grab a bag? Hi Bella, I'm Edward. So what can I take?"

"Oh you don't have to. I've got-" I started to protest, but of course one of the bags chose that moment to start ripping at the handle. The situation had become precarious at best.

He scooped the bag up so that it was cradled in his arm, making the handle a nonissue. "So what were you saying? What have you got?" he teased with a smile. "Ebola? The plague? A kangaroo?"

I looked at him in mock seriousness. "Here." I held out one of the other bags. "It's the one with the Ebola, so be careful." He laughed and reached out to grab it from me. Our hands touched and I definitely felt a little something that managed to reach down to my toes. He stroked one finger over mine, and I felt butterflies in my stomach. Christmas was starting to look a whole lot more promising.

We picked up pizzas on the way back to the house – apparently this was the traditional Cullen Christmas Eve feast that would be supplemented by cannoli and other desserts from a local bakery. Yeah, between Edward and cannoli, I definitely made the right choice for Christmas.

After we stuffed ourselves silly, we all just lazed about in the Cullen's living room, drinks in hand, getting a little tipsy. The lights were off except for the tree, and we were trading stories, catching Edward up on all of our various escapades. And he, in turn, was telling us hilarious stories about Rose and Alice growing up. The two of us were trading glances, occasionally catching each other's eye, our prolonged gazes crackling with electricity. I would eventually turn away each time, reminding myself I was in a living room with my friends and not in a bar where I could just grab him by the collar and kiss the shit out of him. And oh did I want to kiss this boy, not to mention climb him like a damn tree.

When Jasper started to tell a particularly embarrassing story about me, I turned to him and said, "Are you sure you want to go there, Jizzper?" Apparently he forgot I had been hoarding a story on him for quite awhile and kept going.

Once he was done, I cocked my eyebrow at him and began. "So, one afternoon, I returned to the apartment and thought only the girls were home."

"Oh shit. Bella, I thought we were going to forget that ever happened."

"Nope. You said that. I didn't. I've been saving this up for the perfect moment, and I think this might be it."

"Ah hell," he groaned.

I had only told the girls the very basics of what happened, so this was going to be good. "As I was saying, I returned to my apartment one afternoon, thinking only the girls were home. The shower was running, but I'd lived with Rose and Alice for a long time so modesty was a thing of the past. I needed some Tylenol, so I opened the door, figuring I'd duck in real quick." I glanced at Edward. "It, uh, wasn't Alice or Rose."

Edward's eyes were dancing with amusement, knowing there had to be more to this. Jasper's face was turning beet red. "C'mon Bella. You don't have to-"

"Oh, Jizzy. I sure do."

Emmett looked between the two of us. "So he was jacking off? What's the big deal? I mean, that's funny and all, but I don't get the big lead up."

"Emmett, do you remember when Jazz got a perm thinking it would help him get a role in 'Hair'?" I asked.

"Well yeah." He turned to Jasper. "You looked ridiculous, man. Honestly, shaving it all off was a vast improvement."

"It was right after that, and you can't get a perm wet for two days after you get it," I explained. "So he had a shower cap on. A pink shower cap." Everyone started laughing.

"It gets better. So Jasper was in the shower, and the glass doors didn't leave anything to the imagination." The image floated into my mind, and I started laughing so hard I could barely speak. I finally calmed down enough to choke out, "He had a pink shower cap on his head… he was all lathered with Alice's perfumed body wash… fucking a sponge, for fuck's sake…" I had to pause to catch my breath before yelling out the next part. "And biting a fucking purple loofah to keep quiet!" We were all hysterical at that point, laughing to the point of tears.

"And that's not the best part!"

"Holy shit. There's more? I can't believe you never told me all of this! I just thought you walked in on him getting off!" Alice cried through fits of laughter.

"I, uh, walked in just at the right moment. Or wrong moment. Do you know how fast an 'O' face can morph into one of complete horror? Well, I do."

Jasper was pretty much purple with embarrassment at that point. "I can't believe you told them that, Swan."

"Oh grasshopper, you have learned nothing over the years. How many times do I have to tell you? You mess with the bull…" I started.

"You get the horns!" everyone yelled.

"Great movie." Edward tilted his glass towards me in approval. "But Swan… can you describe the ruckus?"

Oh I liked this boy. I liked him a lot.


I watched Bella as she plastered what looked like another fake smile on her face. Hell, I had just met her last night and I was pretty sure that the pink, fuzzy sweater she pulled out of the box wasn't something she'd normally wear. I watched her open item after item that morning and none of it seemed like it really fit her. There was the palette of makeup from Alice, the gift card for Forever 21 from her mom, the bottle of shitty wine from Jasper, and the singing fish from Emmett. I did see a soft smile cross her face when she opened a card and a container of pepper spray from her father. That confused me, but it dawned on me that I didn't actually know her at all. Maybe she really did love the things everyone had given her. Maybe on the weekends she dressed like Barbie, put on a shit ton of makeup, and went to the clubs with Alice. Somehow, according to my sister, the best places were in the sketchiest neighborhoods. Did her dad know that? Was that why he sent her pepper spray? Maybe her forced joy was just a result of missing her family.

Even though it was too late, I was rethinking my gift. Alice and Rose had mentioned that she liked to read, so I bought her a gift card to The Strand – an amazing bookstore in the city. Maybe I should have gotten her one from Amazon so she wouldn't have to buy books. I was kicking myself, but what do you buy for someone you don't know? At least I tried, right? I didn't want to be rude and not get her anything. Fuck. I didn't think very much when I bought it. I was just trying to be nice, and according to Alice and Rose, she was horribly difficult to buy for. It seemed like such an obvious choice at the time, but now I wasn't sure. On top of that, I got her one that made me laugh because from all of the stories I had heard from my sisters, Bella seemed to have a great sense of humor. The front of the gift card was a John Waters quote - "If you go home with someone and they don't have books, don't f**k 'em." Of course, I bought it before I knew I was interested in her and now I hoped it didn't seem like some lame pick up attempt. On the bright side, though, I didn't have to worry on the book front – I had plenty in boxes just waiting to be moved into my new place.

Yes, she was cute and there was definitely chemistry, but the more time I spent with her, the more interested I became. As we all hung out and drank around the tree the night before, she was smart and funny, sarcastic and teasing while never crossing over into being mean. There were definitely heated, stolen glances between us that lasted just a little longer than necessary and sweet blushes when she would break our gaze. She seemed like an open book to me then, but I wondered if I had gotten her completely wrong.

"Hey, Edward, are you going to give that to Bella or were you planning on making confetti?" Emmett asked.

I looked down and realized I had been messing around with the corner of the envelope as I had drifted off into my own thoughts. I smoothed it out and handed it to her, muttering, "I hope you like this. If not, I, uh, I could… I don't know. I guess buy it off of you?"

She grinned at me and handed me a wrapped rectangle that had some weight to it. "I'm sure it will be great, Edward. And you didn't have to. Really. I, um, have the receipt if you don't like yours. I could only go on what I was told."

I tore the wrapping off of the package, curious to see what she had picked out for me. I was stunned. I held a copy of a book on urban sketching that I had been eyeing. How could someone who barely knew me buy me the perfect gift? The sound of her laughter made me look up.

She had opened the card and was looking at me with pure glee. "Best. Gift card. Ever!"

She snorted and a quick look of embarrassment passed her face before she started laughing again. The fact that she could laugh at herself made me like her even more. She dug her phone out of her pocket, pressed the button to turn on the display, and held it up to me. Her wallpaper was the exact same quote that was on the card.

"And to The Strand. Edward… this is just the best. Thank you!" And there it was. The smile I had been looking for all morning, the one that made her eyes shine and crinkle at the corners. I mentally fist pumped. "Um, is that book OK?"

Ah shit. I was so proud of myself that I had forgotten about her gift. "OK? It's perfect. Really, really perfect. How did you know?"

"Well, Alice said you liked to draw to relax. I thought you might enjoy sitting in Central Park and drawing the city. I don't know. I picked it up and flipped through it and I liked it. Honestly, if you didn't want it, I would have taken it home and kept it. The sketches inside are amazing."

"And if you didn't want to buy books, I would have used that gift card to buy this one." I smirked at her.

"So… who's up for the mall tomorrow? Bella, all of the gift receipts are in the boxes," Alice interrupted.

"Gift receipts?" I asked.

"Uh yeah… I uh…" Bella blushed as she started to explain but Alice jumped in.

"Bella always returns our gifts. Always. It's pretty much tradition at this point. And Jazz will drink the crappy wine that only he likes but thinks he's going to convert her into enjoying. He won't and she'll force him to buy her drinks the next time we're at the bar. It's what we do." Alice said all of this warmly, not making fun of Bella or complaining, simply stating it all as fact.

And there was that halfhearted smile again. I wanted to know what was wrong, but I also noticed how uncomfortable Bella was.

"So, Ma? Do I smell cinnamon rolls?" Bella gave me a soft smile in thanks as I redirected the conversation.

Bella was somewhat quiet for the rest of the day, but I didn't really have a chance to talk to her alone until that night. Everyone had gone to bed early, stuffed from Christmas dinner, and I went downstairs planning on grabbing one last cookie before turning in. I noticed the lights from the tree were still on, so I went into the living room intent on unplugging them before bed.

When I stepped into the room, I saw Bella curled up on one side of the couch with her legs tucked under her, gazing at the tree with a slight frown. I didn't want to disturb her, but I was also selfish as hell, and this was finally an opportunity for some time alone with the girl I was interested in. "Hey."

She slowly pulled her focus from the tree and turned her head, giving me a small smile. "Hey Edward. Off to bed?"

"I was thinking about it. I'd much rather sit here with you, though. Is that okay? I can go if you want to be alone."

"No, it's fine. Stay. You can get me out of my head."

"Hmmm… I kind of like your head. Wanna talk about it?"

"Ugh. I'm going to sound so selfish and bitchy. Are you sure you're ready for that?"

"Remember me? Guy who grew up with two sisters and a mother who always speak their minds? I'm pretty sure that short of confessing to multiple bunny murders, I'll be okay with whatever you have to say. Lay it on me."

"Okay. You know I love Alice and Rose, right? And Jasper and Emmett?"

"Of course."

"I hate that they don't seem to know me at all. I hate that I get gifts every year from everyone in my life that make no sense for me. I don't think I'm that hard to buy for, I really don't. I don't know... it just makes me feel lonely somehow. And I know I'm surrounded by people who love me and that they'd do anything for me and that I should be thankful for that and I am. I absolutely am. I just wish someone really got me. I mean, shit, I met you one day ago and you gave me the perfect gift. It's like they don't know me at all and that hurts. I can almost excuse my mom buying me something I would have loved when I was fifteen because that's the last time I lived with her. My dad gave up years ago and sends me a check and pepper spray every Christmas. It's sweet that he still worries about me, but you have to admit it's a little weird. But these are people who have been an integral part of my life for the past few years, people I care about deeply, people whose gifts I put time and thought into. I don't know if I'm making any sense. I really do sound ungrateful and selfish, but I swear I'm not. I know how lucky I am, I do. I just sometimes wish they would make the effort to understand what I like and why I do. Or maybe not even understand. Maybe respect is a better word? Not expect me to suddenly be someone I'm not?"

"Ouch. Yeah, I see where you're coming from and it just sucks. I know you love Alice and Rose and that they would throw themselves in front of a bus for you. They did give you shitty presents though. You can absolutely hate those. Honestly, I hated your gifts on your behalf and I barely know you. I don't think they want you to be anyone other than their Bellaaaaaaaaa though." I did my Drunk Alice impression, hoping it would make her smile. It did, but I could see the tears in her eyes too. "Come here." I opened my arms wide and she snuggled into my side and laid her head on my shoulder.

"I miss my dad," she whispered with a little hitch in her voice.

"Aw, Bella. It's okay." I held her tighter, desperately trying to think of what would help. Years ago Alice yelled at me for trying to fix every problem when she would come to me. 'Sometimes girls just need to vent, Edward. Don't fix it, just listen for once.'

I took a deep breath and hoped I was doing the right thing. "Tell me about your dad, Bella."

We sat there for hours in the light of the Christmas tree. She told me all about her dad, who was solid and reliable, and her mom, who was flighty but fun. It was obvious how much she loved them and how much they shaped who she had turned out to be. Loyal, caring, and stable, but at the same time thrilled to grab her bags and take a last minute trip because the price was so cheap or to sign up for a class because it sounded interesting. I told her about my life in Boston and how happy I was to return to New York. How I loved my family, but hated how nosy they could be, hated that they sometimes forgot that I could make decisions for myself and didn't necessarily want their opinion on everything I did. I confessed that was part of why I had moved to Boston in the first place, to have some freedom without them looking over my shoulder and trying to insert themselves in every facet of my life. I moved back because the distance had done its job in mostly breaking that habit of theirs, and I missed my family, as crazy as they made me at times.

At some point during our easy conversation, I stretched out on the couch and Bella curled up next to me, her head still tucked into my shoulder, her hand splayed on my chest. We grew quiet and our breaths slowed, both of us drowsy from the long day. "Merry Christmas, Bella," I murmured and kissed the top of her head. She leaned back slightly so she could look me in the eye.

"Merry Christmas, Edward."

I reached up and tucked a wayward strand of hair behind her ear. I don't know which of us moved first, but as if it was the most natural thing in the world, her lips were suddenly pressed to mine. The kiss grew more heated, and I shifted us so that she was mostly beneath me and I started nipping at her jaw, trailing my tongue down her neck until finding the spot - the one that made her gasp and throw her leg over my hip and start slowly grinding against me. I smiled into her neck and devoted my full attention to what was currently my favorite spot in the world while trailing my hand down and squeezing her breast. She grabbed my ass and pulled me towards her, giving us both the friction we were looking for. We both groaned, and I almost didn't hear the squeak on the stairs.

"Bella," I whispered. "I think someone's coming."

She looked at me with hooded eyes, her hair tangled, and her lips pink and swollen. In that moment, I simply wanted to devour her.

"And apparently it's not me. I'm going to kick whosever ass that is," she whispered.

I snorted quietly. "Just pretend you're asleep." I quickly got us resituated so that it wasn't obvious that she had just been writhing under me. I closed my eyes and held her close. Our breaths slowed down, and I felt myself relax as I heard my siblings' whispers in the doorway.

The next morning I awoke still on the couch with Bella sprawled across my chest, the sound of my parents in the kitchen a low hum in the background. "Bella," I whispered.


"Can you wake up for a second?"

Her eyes blinked up at me, still hazy with sleep. As she became more aware, a soft smile crossed her face. "Hi."

I grinned back at her. "Hi." I kissed her softly on the lips.

"Mmmmmm. I think I like an Edward alarm clock."

I chuckled quietly. "Happy to be of service any time you want, baby." I cringed slightly as the word baby slipped out. I glanced at her to see if she minded and, given the sparkle in her eyes, I'd say I was in the clear. She pulled my head down for another kiss, this one much hotter and reminiscent of all that had gone unfulfilled the night before.

"Oh fuck, Bella. My parents are in the kitchen. I'm going to head up to take a shower. We'll continue this later, okay?" She blushed a little and nodded. I gave her a quick smacking kiss on the lips and stood up, inconspicuously adjusting myself. Or so I thought until I heard her snorting laugh from the couch.

"Now you know why I need to take that shower, devil woman. You know, you could join me. Conserve water, save the environment, yadda yadda yadda." I waggled my eyebrows at her, half kidding, but ever hopeful that she'd take me up on my offer.

"I thought I was a devil woman, Edward. You might not be able to handle all of this hotness," she said jokingly with a smirk and gestured to her now wrinkly pajamas. She had no idea how gorgeous she was all sleep rumpled and cuddly warm.

"Is that a challenge, Ms. Swan? Because I think we both know I'm up for it."

"Oh my god, does that usually work for you?" She started laughing.

"Hey, you started it with the 'all of the hotness' business."

"Yeah, but I was just fucking around!"

I looked at her for a minute. "So you won't be joining me in the shower then?"

She looked at me and I could see the debate going on in her head. Suddenly she grinned and sat up, and seemed mostly confident in whatever she decided. She jumped up and ran for the stairs, leaving me gaping as her giggles trailed behind her. "Are you coming or what?" she yelled to me, followed quickly by, "That's what she said!"

I grinned and muttered, "Please God, I don't ask for much, and I know I probably shouldn't ask you for this, but if you have any compassion, please don't let me get cockblocked. Um, amen."

By the time I made it up the stairs, the water was running. I managed to rush in just as Bella stepped under the spray. I was entranced watching the rivulets of water caress her curves. Her nipples hardened, responding to the air after the warmth of the water and I gasped. She was fucking spectacular in every way.

"Aren't you coming in?" she asked without looking at me.

"Fuck yes," I managed to squeak out.

I stripped quickly and stepped into the shower, immediately pulling her to me and kissing her frantically. My hands glided down her back, following the trail of water until I was cupping her ass. I gave it a light squeeze as I pressed her against me and we both groaned as our heated skin met. I started kissing down her neck, shifting her slightly so that she was straddling one of my legs and I could reach one of her lush tits. I squeezed gently and pinched her nipple as I found that spot on her neck again, causing her to grind on my leg and moan loudly. I could write poetry about how much I loved that fucking spot.

I moved my mouth lower, capturing her other nipple in my mouth, sucking and gently biting while still squeezing and pinching her other breast. She was rocking her hips and moaning as I lavished attention on her breasts, her slick wetness gliding along my thigh. I slowly moved us so that her back was against the shower wall. I knew I was about to kill my knees, but I didn't fucking care. I wanted to taste her on my tongue, feel her hands in my hair, and watch her come apart from my mouth and my fingers. I slowly started kissing and nipping my way down her stomach, gently teasing my fingers down her waist and hips, over the outside of her thighs, and trailed them back up the inside, barely touching her skin. I ghosted my fingers over the curls at the apex of her thighs and slowly swiped the tip of my finger between her folds, making her groan in a mix of anticipation and frustration.

I placed one final biting kiss right at the top of her mound and glanced up at her. She was gorgeous - back arched, tits jutting out, skin flushed, and her head thrown back with her eyes closed. "Bella, look at me." I kept stroking the tip of my finger back and forth, just enough that she could feel me, but not enough to give her any real satisfaction. She slowly opened her eyes and gazed down at me, her eyes dilated with lust, her breath stuttering out.

"Fuck, you are so gorgeous, baby."

"Oh god." She moaned in pleasure and her eyes fluttered closed again.

"Ah ah ah, Bella. Open your eyes." I waited until I knew she was looking at me and dipped my head down, parted her folds with my fingers, and licked her slowly from her slit up to her clit, where I lazily circled my tongue, teasing her.

"Fucking hell, Edward. More."

I smirked and grabbed her behind her knee, placing her leg over my shoulder, and buried my tongue in her, quickly darting it in and out before moving back up to her clit, sucking it between my lips while teasing it with my tongue. I slid two fingers into her, pumped them in and out a few times before curling them forward, alternately tapping and stroking that small area of soft bumpy flesh. Her legs were trembling, her muscles tightening around my fingers and I grasped her hip hard and held her in place so I could focus completely on bringing her over the edge. Just before she came, she grabbed my hair and held me to her, riding me, getting that last bit of contact she needed. I loved how uninhibited she was – it was so hot to have her take what she wanted - and I moaned against her, not even thinking what the vibrations would do. She came and came hard, shouting my name, her muscles spasming all around me, her body bucking with the force of it. I rode her orgasm out, prolonging it with gentle pressure from my tongue until she finally nudged me away with a final moan.

I gently took her leg off of my shoulder and kissed the inside of her thigh before placing her foot back on the floor. Her knees buckled when I removed my hand from her hip, and I smirked and chuckled to myself and made sure to hold on to her as I got up. I have never seen anything more beautiful than a wet, naked Bella, still flushed and sated from an orgasm I had given her. I kissed her gently and she wrapped her arms around me, hugging me to her, and laid her head on my chest.

We stayed like that for a few moments before I slowly turned us around so that she could get under the spray. I grabbed the shampoo and poured a dollop in my hand, and started rubbing it through her hair, reaching my arms around her to work it through her long locks. Her front was gently brushing against mine as she looked up at me and trailed her fingers up and down my back. I may have had my face between her thighs just moments ago, but this quiet moment was somehow even more intimate. I splayed my hand on her back and tilted her slightly so I could rinse the soap out of her hair. She gave me a slow, gentle kiss when I was done and stepped around me so I could step under the spray.

I could hear her squeezing some body wash onto a washcloth, but didn't think anything of it until I felt the warm material on my back. Her other hand followed its path, gently caressing my skin and placing soft kisses wherever her fingers took her. My eyes closed as I breathed out heavily, relaxing and surrendering to the pure sensuality of her touch. Her arms snaked around me and I could feel her tits rubbing against my back as she moved the washcloth and her hand ever so slowly across my chest. She occasionally dragged her nails across my nipples and continued to nip and kiss my back and shoulders. Her hands trailed down my legs until I felt the washcloth fall at my feet and she ghosted her nails back up my tense thighs. After teasing me by tracing light, gentle swirls on my hips and stomach, she finally ran her fingers up my length, one hand following the other in a constant motion of barely there touches that were driving me mad. Finally, she gripped me with one hand and started to stroke me steadily, occasionally running her palm over the head of my cock. I groaned loudly as she started stroking me faster and I thrust into her hand, unable to stop myself. I was grunting and moaning and was vaguely aware of her other hand heading downward again. She gently nudged my legs so that I spread them further apart and she reached for my balls and gently kneaded them. At this point, I had both of my hands against the wall of the shower, bracing myself as I gazed down at her hands working their magic. As she kept stroking, she moved her other hand slightly further back and started putting pressure right behind my balls. As my muscles began to tense, she took that as her cue to gently bite the nape of my neck. With the scrape of her teeth, she sent me over the edge. I bucked into her hand, groaning out her name. When I stilled, I pressed my forehead against the wall, not yet trusting my ability to fully stand, and she gently glided her nails up and down my back as I came back to myself.

I heard her open the shampoo and pour some into her hands. "Turn around, Edward."

I did and ducked my head down so she could reach to put the shampoo in, her fingers massaging my scalp, relaxing me even more. When she was done, I leaned my head back to rinse the soap out. When I brought myself back up straight, I pulled Bella to me, kissed her gently, and then rested my head on hers, and held her in my arms. The water started to cool, so I shut it off and stepped out of the shower, grabbing a towel and holding it open for Bella to step into, wrapping it around her with a gentle kiss to one damp shoulder. I slung another around my hips and turned to see her bent over, rubbing a towel through her wet hair. The sight of her round ass sticking up right in front of me made my cock twitch again but I decided to leave her be. I could hear the rest of the house stirring and didn't really want them to hear us as I fucked her hard from behind the way I ached to in that moment. That would just have to wait.

As she finished with her hair, I went out to my room and got dressed, throwing on jeans and a long sleeve shirt, thinking hard about the conversation we had the night before. I put that together with Alice's planned trip to the mall and realized I had a way to give Bella the Christmas she deserved.

It had been a long ass day. Normally I wouldn't go to the mall on a slow day if you paid me, and today I had braved the day after Christmas sales. Hell, Bella had the right idea staying home and curling up with a book and I would have been right there with her any other year. But I had a mission in mind this morning and it was honestly worth the exhaustion if I could put a smile on her face.

Alice, Rose, and I huddled in Alice's room with all of the bits and pieces of wrapping paper left over from the holiday. Once everything was wrapped, we ran down the stairs laughing, our mom yelling about elephants stampeding just like she did when we were teenagers. We quickly arranged all of the packages under the tree, and I went to get Bella from her room.

Her door was ajar, so I knocked, pushed it the rest of the way open, and leaned on the doorframe. "Hey."

"Hey! How was the mall?" She patted the bed for me to come sit so I walked over but leaned down and gave her a quick kiss, intent on getting her downstairs. Of course, she had other plans and grabbed me by the collar and pulled me down to her, kissing me hungrily. Any other time, I would have said hers was the better plan, but I was so excited about what my sisters and I had done that I eventually pulled away from the kiss. Yes, eventually. If a gorgeous, funny, smart, fucking amazing girl wants to kiss the hell out of me, I'm not going to put up much of a fight, okay?

"Come with me."

"But that's exactly what I was trying to do," she said with a smirk. "I expect the o-block from your siblings, but I thought better of you, Edward." She cocked her eyebrow and I groaned. She was my fantasy woman incarnate and I couldn't believe I was willingly dragging her out of the bedroom.

"Don't you worry, pretty girl. You'll get to plenty of those later."

She looked a little dazed at the word plenty, and I turned around and headed down the stairs before she could say anything, hoping she was replaying our shower in her head like I had been all day. I waited for her at the bottom of the staircase and was so caught up in the memory of a wet, naked Bella that I missed the mischievous glint in her eye, so I was totally unprepared when her hand darted out and pinched me in the side. I squealed like a damn pig. Bella cackled and just held up her hand in the sign of the bull as she walked away.

I followed her into the living room where Alice and Rose were waiting, just as excited as I was. They would do anything for this girl and that spoke volumes about who she was. They had friends in school, sure, but I had never seen them as close to someone as they were to Bella. She blended in with us seamlessly and I suspected she was the glue that held everyone together.

She took one look at my sisters and spun around to face me. "What did you do?"

"Who me?" I tried to look innocent, but I couldn't help the huge grin that spread across my face. "Have a seat, baby."

As Bella was suspiciously side eyeing me, Alice darted over to the tree and grabbed a gift. "Merry Christmas, Bella! This is from me."

"Wait, what? Alice, no. You gave me a present. I don't need another one."

"It's not another one. It's the right one. I returned the makeup, and Edward thought you might like this more."

Bella slowly began to unwrap the package and started laughing when she realized it was a collection of John Hughes movies. She looked over at me and I put my hand up in the bull sign and smirked at her.

"Alice, this is perfect. I love it. Thank you."

"Yay! This one is from Jasper."

She quickly tore the paper and cackled loudly at the assortment of bath sponges and washes. Alice and I high fived each other. Jasper and Emmett had to work, but we called them that afternoon to let them in on our plan. I thought we'd have to do more convincing, but Jasper happily gave his blessing to the gift we thought of for him to give Bella.

Next, Rose handed Bella a box a little bigger than you would put a bracelet in. Inside, Bella found a beautiful leather passport holder. "Rose, this is too much."

"Pfffffft… after Christmas sales, bitch. My only condition is I get to go with you when you use it," Rose said with a huge smile. "And this is from Emmett." She handed Bella an envelope. "He remembered when you got stuck in San Francisco all day with a delayed flight. This way you have somewhere to hang out if it ever happens again."

Bella pulled the piece of paper out of the envelope and had a huge smile when she saw it was a day pass to the United club. "Awesome! I can eat my weight in cheese while I wait for my plane!"

Rose started laughing. "He said the exact same thing!"

"OK, last but not least, this is from your mom. She, uh, just doesn't know it yet," I said as I handed a Barnes and Noble gift card to Bella.

"What? How? I mean, this is fantastic, but what do you mean?"

"I was wandering around the bookstore while I was waiting for these two and I overheard some teenager bitching about the gift card she got for Christmas. Because, like, who would think she would, like, read for fun. Like. I may have missed a few likes, but you get the idea. So I traded with her."

"Edward Cullen. Reducing America's IQ one teenager at a time. I'm so proud," she said with a smirk. She took a moment and looked at the gifts in front of her and her smirk faded into a soft smile. "Thank you, guys. I just… I can't tell you what this means to me. This is the best Christmas ever." She walked over and hugged Alice and Rose. "I love you two so much. You didn't have to do this. I had a moment, that's all it was. You really really didn't have to do this."

"Ah B, we love you too. We hope you know that. And that we don't expect you to be anything other than you. We don't want you to be anything other than you," Alice said, her voice wobbling a little.

"Girlie, we don't want you to change at all. We know we didn't have to do this. You're ours though and we take care of ours. We'll always take care of you the way you have always taken care of us. You might have to nudge us at times and tell us when we're being assholes, but we'll always be here, however you need us," Rose said, sniffling slightly. The three of them hugged for a couple of minutes and broke apart, wiping tears from their eyes.

After they composed themselves, Bella cocked an eyebrow and said, "Rose? Alice? You may want to leave the room."

"Huh?" Alice asked.

Rose looked between Bella and me and started laughing and dragged Alice out of the room with her.

"Love you, Rose!" I yelled after them as Bella stalked towards me and straddled my lap.

"Edward," she said with eyes shining. "Thank you." She leaned down and captured my lips with hers, kissing me hard. We sat there on the couch, making out like teenagers with the Christmas lights twinkling in the background.

I heard Rose snort out a laugh. "See, Alice? I told you to listen to Bella. They definitely didn't need any mistletoe."

I chuckled against Bella's mouth, but didn't stop kissing her. And as I would tell our family for years to come as we recounted the tale of how we fell in love, it truly was the best Christmas ever.

I scrambled to get this done and am lucky to have friends who were ready and willing to jump in to save my ass. Massive thanks to Dolly and Planetblue for prereading (and not making me cry). There are no words for how much I adore and value Carrie ZM and I'm lucky she's willing to take her red pen to my stuff (especially when it was in such sorry shape this time).

Please go check out the other amazing entries from the Mistletoe Contest! Some amazing writers submitted stories and I continue to be blown away by the amount of talent in this fandom.